David Smooke

@DavidSmooke

24 TOP TECH STORIES TO START YOUR WEEK

November 11th 2018

The Hacker Noon equity crowdfunding campaign has raised $441k+ from 366 investors in a week. We’re at 41% of our goal with 53 days remaining. Support the future of independent tech media by owning shares in Hacker Noon.

Big thanks to these kind words from some of our recent investors: Alexis Ohanian, Nele Maria Palipea, Felipe Rueda, Kiba Gateaux, Ryan Who Codes, Brother Doyle, Tom Terado, Mark Roudebush, Nick Soman, Kevin Natanzon, Robin Banks, ‏Mark Nadal, Aaron Silverman, Ross Campbell, Olga Krieger, Andras Caron, Ugolino, and more.

Here’s my Monday tech thought: how can a startup better serve its community? I think it starts with simply listening, learning and (when the time is right) asking. We do it consistently in our contributor groups, but we also for the first time, did it systematically with a reader survey. The results are published today by Linh Dao Smooke. This survey impacted our internal decision making. For example, 71% of people surveyed said they wanted a podcast, so we bought Crypto Disrupted and made the Hacker Noon podcast with Trent Lapinski. Additionally, we learned that 57% of readers wanted to attend Hacker Noon events. While that may not be much more than half, we think going from reading a story on a site to wanting to go to an event by that site, is quite a leap. Since the majority want it, look out for Hacker Noon events in 2019 :-)

But serving your community is about more than surveys and analyzing data. In buidling a large community (Hacker Noon has 200k+ daily readers ), I wanted to pass on some simple things anyone can do to better their own startup community:

  1. Minimize response time. This is tough to do with a small staff and we fail at it too often, but just like responding to a text from a friend in need, a quick response time can scale relationships.
  2. Trust your community’s feedback. The majority of ideas for Hacker Noon 2.0 were first thought up by Hacker Noon contributors and not by me. I just pushed them forward.
  3. Be transparent when you and how you need to adapt. Every young business will face a time where they must evolve or die. Our primary source of revenue was threatened, so we evolved. We made a plan, and are almost to the half way point of making that plan financially possible.

Onto the top 24 tech stories to kickoff your week:

Software Emotions

A Love Letter to the Commodore 64 by Christer Enfors [10 min read]. “Dad, if you don’t stop talking about things from the 1900’s, people are going to think YOU are from the 1900's!” It’s been nine years since my daugter said the above to me at six years old, and I’ve nearly forgiven her by now. I still love her, but this story isn’t about her. No, this story is about my first love, the Commodore 64 — a home computer from the 80’s, which is still the best selling computer of all time. More PC’s have been sold since, of course, but no single model of any computer has sold as many units as the Commodore 64 did back in the day.

Why Angular Made Me Quit Web Dev by Tobias Merkle[10 min read]. One of the most reliable ways to discern whether a corporation has begun to rot is to gauge the derivative of the utility its products provide over time. A company like Apple witnessed a huge spike in average product utility when they released the iPhone, which increased for some time, but eventually plateaued when they started removing vital phone functions like the 3.5mm jack. Generally speaking, most companies experience either an S-curve or a parabolic curve of this kind of utility: the former types generally find their niche, fill it, and operate in comfortable profit without innovating much more; the latter types manage to muck things up and crash and burn having failed to understand their product.

Deep Tech Thoughts

Elon Musk wants to give you super human cognitive powers by Harbind Kharod [11 min read]. Elon says we‘re already cyborgs. The modern day human is able to answer almost any question you ask it within a matter of seconds. That futuristic device we all carry around connects us to an infinite pool of human knowledge. If someone makes a discovery, it can be shared with the human race within seconds on the internet. Combined with our devices holding access to this unlimited knowledge pool we‘re basically a giant inter-connected cybernetic organism composed of humans and machines.

Windows as a Service? by Terry Crowley. The recent issues with the quality of Windows releases has reopened discussions of what it means to deliver “Windows as a Service”. When Windows 10 was released, Microsoft made a big deal that this was “the last version of Windows”. From now on, Windows would be delivered as a series of continuous ongoing incremental feature releases rather than as a big bang release every 3 years or so.

To Become a Space Faring Civilization, We need to Move Beyond Rockets, including SpaceX and Blue Origin by Riz Virk [16 min read]. While SpaceX and BlueOrigin and others are making progress on re-usable rockets, this doesn’t change the fact that they are still basically relying on the same tech developed in the 1950s and 1960s by NASA and the Soviet Union. 50 years later, you would think we had built some alternatives, but we are basically relying on the same old technology — rocket engines. Rockets in general (whether using liquid or solid fuel), based on the work of pioneers like Robert Goddard and Werner von Braun (who brought over his expertise from Nazi Germany) have on average a few percentage payload to total weight (i.e. the payload being the weight of the capsule and/or what they are carrying in proportion to the total weight or volume of the rocket). The Saturn V had a 4% ratio, and the space shuttles were 1%. These are because of the vast amount of fuel needed by that outdated technology, combustible rocket engines. By far, the most difficult part of becoming an interplanetary species is getting off the Earth and into orbit en masse, what we might call the “first mile” problem.

Blockchain Think Pieces

Why Blockchain Immutability Matters by Kevin Doubleday [7 min read]. We spend Trillions of dollars on cybersecurity solutions meant to keep outside prying eyes from accessing our sensitive data. But rarely do we fight the internal cybersecurity battle: ensuring that our data has not been manipulated, replaced, or falsified by a company or its employees. In many cases, we have come to simply trust that the data is correct by methods like private keys and user permissions. But in reality, we cannot prove — methodically or mathematically — that information in a standard application database is unequivocally tamper-free. Auditing becomes our next (and expensive) line of defense.

Proof-of-Work and Proof-of-Stake are Regressive by Amber Cazzell [10 min read]. The recent low in cryptocurrency morale has given our community a rich opportunity for reflection. The vast majority of us crypto enthusiasts have a genuine heart for marrying technology and social action, and I believe it’s time we reflect on where we wanted to go with digital currencies, honestly take stock of the state of blockchain technology today, and rigorously plan how to improve digital currencies moving forward. I’ve been fortunate enough to sit in on many lectures discussing blockchain technologies and incentive structures in computer science at Stanford University, and it’s led me to the conclusion that crypto incentives have driven a lust for global consensus which obscures the important goals we originally had in mind.

Stablecoins: What you need to know by Jimmy Song [4 min read]. Stablecoins are a dollar-denominated cryptocurrency. The supposed benefits are that you get the convenience of cryptocurrency (fast settlement, less regulatory hurdles, etc) with the stability of the dollar (or another fiat currency). This makes arbitraging between exchanges more convenient, for example, allowing for a more stable BTC price between exchanges. Generally, 1 token of the stablecoin (SteemIt Dollars, Basis, Tether, etc) is supposed to be worth $1. The rate fluctuates in the market as Tether’s traded as low as $0.85, but that’s supposed to be the exception, not the norm. Some are supposed to be able to be converted to USD directly like Tether. Others have mechanisms to change the value towards $1 should the token price go up or down like Basis.

Entrepreneurial Stories

How I Made $15,000 / Day as a Fresh College Grad by Daniel Sangyoon Kim [9 min read]. Due to hazy regulations regarding cross-border cryptocurrency trades, my Korean colleagues convinced me to pause. Looking back, I think that was a huge mistake. This massive arbitrage opportunity existed for several months, and we could have made enough to sip coconut juice on a Hawaiian beach for the rest of our lives. While we played it safe, somebody out there figured out how to do it in scale, and the gap has since closed.

How to Buy 20 Dollar Prescription Glasses from China by Mark Peter [5 min read]. Having lived in Asia for a while and seeing glasses in various prescriptions being sold on night markets for just a few dollars, paying hundreds and hundreds of dollars in western countries just seems ridiculous now — especially considering that glasses are just a piece of plastic, metal, and glass. I can buy a decent hi-tech smartphone these days for as little as 100 dollars or less. In comparison, it’s just crazy to spend, say, 200–400 dollars on a low-tech piece of plastic with lenses created by a machine. Warby Parker and others have paved the way for buying glasses online. So why not go a step further and pass on the savings to the consumer as well?! 💸

Crypto BUIDLing News

Introducing a New Standard for Digital Stock Certificates: ERC-1450 by Howard Marks [5 min read]. StartEngine is the developer of ERC-1450 and is using it to issue tens of thousands of tokenized securities sold initially on StartEngine. If and when StartEngine’s broker-dealer becomes registered with the SEC and its ATS, called Secondary, is available, it will use ERC-1450 for transacting securities as well. StartEngine is in discussions with other registered transfer agents and ATS operators to also support this standard.

Editor’s Note: If you buy Hacker Noon shares, it comes with a digital stock certificate.

How to Build a Crowdsourced Bitcoin Price Prediction Algorithm by Marc Howard. What best predicts whether the price of Bitcoin will go up or down? What if there was an algorithm that could predict this at least a day in advance? This is what we’re building at the AlgoHive project and will be sharing how step-by-step. Just a quick refresher this project began with my initial post on how I created a Bitcoin prediction algorithm that produces a 29% positive return. This kicked off quite a few conversations on how best to improve and create a more robust algorithm. We now have a thriving community with investors, machine learning experts, data scientists and even beginners just wanting to follow along and learn more. The first project we’re working on is how build a Bitcoin prediction algorithm that gives a Buy/Sell signal for a given date with the intention to maximize profits.

Productivity

30 Chrome Extensions, Apps, and Hacks to 2x Your Productivity by Brian Tan [8 min read]. Over the past three years, I’ve tried and tested hundreds of apps, Chrome extensions, and productivity hacks to make myself become more effective and efficient. I found most of these through podcasts or reading other productivity-tools lists, but I wanted to write a single list that listed all the ones I love and use. This article is the product of that, and this should be the best list of productivity tools and hacks currently on the web.

Coin Histories by Marcell Nimfuehr

The Amazing Story of Cryptocurrencies Before Bitcoin [12 min read]. David Chaum is a 28-year-old Ph.D. student in computer science from the University of Berkeley, California when he publishes a scientific paper in 1983. He is the first to describe digital money. Chaum comes from a wealthy US-American family, is a brilliant mathematician and is appointed head of the cryptographic department of the Mathematical Institute in Amsterdam. In his paper, he describes the key point that his digital money differs from credit card payments through anonymity. Users receive the digital currency from their bank, but then it is made anonymous. This allows the bank to see who has exchanged how much money, but not what it is used for.

Charlie Shrem: a Bitcoin Story From Riches-to-Rags [7 min read]. The Winklevoss Twins are subject to ridicule more than once. 15 years ago, they were outsmarted by Mark Zuckerberg who allegedly stole their idea of a social network. Just last week they announced that Charlie Shrem embezzled US$32 Million by taking their Dollars and not giving them Bitcoin back in 2012 (Took a long time to go public with that). Time to recall who Charlie Shrem is and which pivotal role he played in the history of Bitcoin. “ In prison”, said Shrem, “the more of a celebrity you are, the less respect you get. You’re judged on who you are as a person, and I like being judged like that because I feel like I’m a I’m a pretty okay person. People liked me and I was judged on that, not on the Bitcoin stuff.”

Software Trends

Common Misconceptions of C++ by Buckaroo - C/C++ Package Manager [4 min read]. C++ has evolved massively in recent years and yet it is still perceived by many as the language that it was back in the early 2000s. Let’s dispel some myths…”C++ is a Dying Language…” C++ is actually growing! Even as computers becomes faster, our demands of what we want to do with them are always increasing. C++ is one of the few languages that allows us to maximize the potential of our hardware.

CNN based Object Detection — Current Challenges by Alex Punnen [15 min read]. I am not a researcher but have been basically using open source algorithms and frameworks for Object detection for about two years now. Started from the ML-based HOG and HAAR in OpenCV, then the faster version of that via CUDA and GPU and finally since tuning the parameters of these systems to works across different videos was proving to be futile, went ahead with the neural network based method; I wanted to write this as there is a tendency by many who have used the open source implementations like Yolo, to think that it is a done done; also heavy marketing by a lot of small and specialised companies, who follow similar thinking, and promising visual automation, either customisable or customised for some vertical.

Software How-Tos

A crash course on writing a better README by Adnan Rahić [6 min read]. I started looking into projects with large amounts of contributions. It got me thinking. A common pattern started appearing. They all have amazing readme.md files. I doubt it would have been easy to contribute otherwise. There may be a connection. I’d sure say there is! Let’s mention a few famous projects like React, Vue, freeCodeCamp, Sourcerer or Serverless. You can see their readme.md’s are a perfect blend of documentation, project overview, FAQ, and contribution steps. They mention the ecosystem, the community, and have visuals explaining the open source project itself. Because the open-source community runs the project, it needs a central file to make communication easy.

Azure Functions: Choosing between queues and event hubs by Jeff Hollan [5 min read]. I have this conversation about twice a week. Someone has decided they want to take advantage of the benefits of serverless Azure Functions for an upcoming project, but when starting to lay out the architecture a question pops up: “Should we be using Azure Event Hubs, Queues, or Event Grid?” It’s honestly a great question — and it’s a question with consequences. Each of these messaging technologies comes with its own set of behaviors that can impact your solution.

Complete Guide: Receive Push Notifications in React-Native iOS app by Oleg Kalyta [5 min read]. Adding push notifications to your app is not only a great way to improve the user experience. If used smart, it also helps to: (1) Stimulate user engagement, (2) Retain users, (3) Increase conversion rates. Recently our team implemented push-notifications for React-Native iOS app. We spent a couple days to get this fully working for most common scenarios. The goal of this article is to save this time for you.

How to Compile Node.js Code Using Bytenode? by Osama Abbas [4 min read]. In this post, I will show you how to “truly” compile Node.js (JavaScript) code to V8 Bytecode. This allows you to hide or protect your source code in a better way than obfuscation or other not-very-efficient tricks (like encrypting your code using a secret key, which will be embedded in your app binaries, that’s why I said “truly” above). So, using bytenode tool, you can distribute a binary version .jsc of your JavaScript files. You can also bundle all your .js files using Browserify, then compile that single file into .jsc.

How to fix your Java learning: a story of one tutor by John Selawsky [9 min read]. Common mistakes and how to struggle them: 1. Too much theory from the first steps. So, you started to learn a programming language. What should you do first? Read a lot then write a program? Not at all, buddies. Read a bit and then code, code and again code! Recall your kindergarten or primary school. Drawing class… Did you listen or read a lecture then how to draw? I am pretty sure the answer is “no”. You and other kids just took your crayons and… drew. At most your teacher could show you how to hold a pencil or tell something about “red and blue is violet”. Or you took part in stage playing Cucumber or Broccoli… I don’t think your drama teacher explained you Stanislavsky system that time…The same story with programming. JUST.START. CODING. Theory is important. But later.

Tech Careers

Want a mentor? Stop asking for one. by Bethany Crystal [7 min read]. There’s something culturally “off” about the way we talk about mentorship. In some fantasy-land world in your head, you may be imagining an ideal role model — someone loved and respected who has already saved the world twice over, has all of the experience you want one day, and by the way, happens to be free on Thursdays at 10 a.m. for the next six months to meet for coffee and tell you all the secrets of their ways of life. This person will take a liking to you immediately without knowing why (sort of like Albus Dumbledore and Harry Potter), and your instant charm will somehow compel them to give up some percent of their time just to make you better.

Maximizing Your Next Salary by Yotam Kadishay [7 min read]. You passed all interviews and tests for a cool company — Congrats! The recruiter just gave you a call saying they were very impressed with you and want to offer you a contract, then she will ask you the biggest question of all — a big question with no single true answer — “What are your salary expectations?”. Hopefully, this story will help you answer this question in the best way possible, and maximize the salary in the next contract you sign.

Until next time, don’t take the realities of the world for granted.

Kind Regards,

David Smooke

P.S. Thanks again to the kind words from some of our recent investors: Alexis Ohanian, Nele Maria Palipea, Felipe Rueda, Kiba Gateaux, Ryan Who Codes, Brother Doyle, Tom Terado, Mark Roudebush, Nick Soman, Kevin Natanzon, Robin Banks, ‏Mark Nadal, Aaron Silverman, Ross Campbell, Olga Krieger, Andras Caron, Ugolino, and more. Own Hacker Noon shares today.

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