links for 2010-09-28

  • handy. Ketchup = 5 months
  • Speculation that Google wants to use its $30b cash to enter payday loan business:

    "When I did a Google web search on the term “payday loans” for example, the search results placed the uniformly negative news items near the bottom of the results, below the fold as we used to say in the newspaper business. Similar web searches on the terms “mortgage loan” and “auto loan” put the news in each case near the top of the results, significantly above the fold where it was more likely to be seen.
    Why would Google do that? Payday loans are despised by consumer advocacy groups, governments, and my Mom, alike. Nobody likes payday loans, except of course the companies that make billions providing and servicing them."

  • Social media is really hard to scale. Features that work for 500 users break easily once you start adding more… the workarounds are imperfect at best
    (tags: startup)
  • Atheists and agnostics, Jews and Mormons are among the highest-scoring groups on a new survey of religious knowledge, outperforming evangelical Protestants, mainline Protestants and Catholics on questions about the core teachings, history and leading figures of major world religions.
  • 50 years later, stat geeks are trying to measure things that Red Auerbach knew instinctively. He took three Hall of Famers in one draft
  • Maurizio Cattelan’s latest art piece is a monument of a middle finger in front of the Italian Stock Exchange.
  • rapport:
    "Tim: How did I go from Tucker's "Who the fuck are you?" to drinking with him an hour later and having lunch with him the following day? Out of 40 people lined up, why did I make the cut? Simple: I made an educated guess and used language to reflect it. I noticed Tucker had a big neck when he walked up to the panel seats. I therefore guessed he either 1) had trained in jiu-jitsu or wrestling, or 2) was a former football player who at least watched UFC. In response to "Who the fuck are you?" I answered "My name is Tim Ferriss. I'm writing my first book for Random House and used to compete as a fighter." That was the lure. Tucker responded: "What, MMA?" Bingo. "I competed mostly in wrestling and kickboxing, but I train at AKA in San Jose with Dave Camarillo. Swick, John Fitch, and a bunch of the UFC pros train there." A few minutes later, Tucker grabbed me to go drinking. Once again, it pays to know your audience, and being different is often more effective than being better."
  • simulate 1000 plays of the mega millions, see how much you win. to send to people who play the lottery
  • skip to 3:15
  • "whether college students interested in journalism and politics, in order to stand out, must prematurely coalesce around a political party or established ideology, and hold certain to those beliefs, in order to get the appropriate internships at those publications."

    Cal:I received a recent e-mail from a Dartmouth student who… was worried that he had no specialized enough to be a computer science of physics major. In other words, to him, it was not just fixing on something right away at college, he had the impression that this decision had to be made much earlier…

    It’s a challenging question. To do what I do — professional research — certainly requires specialization. I think the same probably holds for politics — intern over your summers! — or journalism — start working up the ranks at the school paper! And I often encourage students to focus, focus, focus…

  • Thiel is starting a new initiative that will offer grants of up to $100,000 for kids to drop out of school. Yes, you read that right. Though that’s not how Thiel puts it. Instead, he calls it “stopping out of school.”

    The basic gist is that he will fund up to 20 kids under the age of 20 who apply for this grant. His hope, obviously, isn’t to ruin their lives, but instead to find the best minds thinking about big things early in life. This is where true disruption comes from, Thiel believes.

  • Skinnability cuts to the very heart of the MVC pattern. If your app isn't "skinnable", that means you've probably gotten your model's chocolate in your view's peanut butter, quite by accident. You should refactor your code so that only the controller is responsible for poking the model data through the relatively static templates represented by the view.
  • "If the question of what the company should do is settled, the most urgent question tends to be what to build first. Usually we advise startups to launch fast and iterate. This doesn't apply to all startups (Clustrix, for example), but it works for most. The reason we advise startups to launch fast is that till you launch you're designing for hypothetical or at best tame users, instead of actual ones. Once you launch you begin the conversation with real users, whose often surprising reactions to your product teach you what you should have been building."
  • Lower cost of customer acquisition main driver
  • bookmarks synchronizer can't make any money:

    "Sit people in front of a search box and ask them to test it, and their first query is their own name. #FAIL. It turns out that with the exception of people doing market research, consumers using search are not typically looking for an authoritative list of sites within a category; they’re looking for an answer to a specific question. Undaunted, we tested some variants of the basic search idea, including a version where we inserted our results into the Google search results page. The verdict from users: too complicated."

  • news from a land where the minimum wage really hurts:

    The sheriff arrived at the factory here to shut it down, part of a national enforcement drive against clothing manufacturers who violate the minimum wage. But women working on the factory floor — the supposed beneficiaries of the crackdown — clambered atop cutting tables and ironing boards to raise anguished cries against it.

    Thoko Zwane, 43, who has worked in factories since she was 15, lost her job in Newcastle when a Chinese-run factory closed in 2004. More than a third of South Africans are jobless. “Why? Why?” shouted Nokuthula Masango, 25, after the authorities carted away bolts of gaily colored fabric.

    She made just $36 a week, $21 less than the minimum wage, but needed the meager pay to help support a large extended family that includes her five unemployed siblings and their children.

  • Bono fails to start textile market in Africa, group arrested for trying to 'rescue' orphans (children with parents) from Haiti, sexual predators using charities to access vulnerable children, volunteers arrested for practicing medicine without a license
  • Based on a 2009 survey conducted by the American College Health Association-National College Health Assessment, 39 percent of college students will feel hopeless during the school year, 25 percent will feel so depressed they'll find it hard to function, 47 percent will experience overwhelming anxiety and 84 percent will feel overwhelmed by all they have to do.

    Academics is #1 stressor, also finances and relationships

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