Idea for Hacker News Outbound links

Hacker News (HN) for me is a daily source for technical and start-up information, which I cherish. Aside from the articles themselves, I believe one of the main values of HN are the comments posted below the outbound link which provide me with even more insight and ideas. In fact, I would say the comments in a lot of the situations add just as much to my knowledge base as the article itself.

Now the issues is this: I use Google Reader as my RSS feed reader. When I click on an article it opens it in a new window and the ‘comments’ link is left in the Reader window. If I want to read the comments also, I  need to click on the ‘comments’ link.

So here is my idea: any outbound link should be wrapped in a frame ala Google images search.

The little top frame should be 2 lines tall and include:

  • link back to hacker news via the ‘H’ icon
  • The name of the article as submitted
  • A direct link to the comments (and maybe comment count?)
  • An expand button which would change the frame split to 50%/50% and would load the comments there in a scrollable fashion
  • Ability to Vote ‘+1′ on the article
  • a small ‘X’ to kill HN frame

As much as I detest frames ( I received my fill by cruising  Geocities sites in 90′s), I believe this would not only foster more commenting on the HN side but also allow lurkers to receive more value from the commenting system on HN.

Ideas? Comments?

Link to the comments on HN for this article

Wedding Invitations Address Gathering Made Easy: Google Docs!


I am writing this blog post to help many of my friends who are getting married soon and need help gathering the addresses and other details from their guests. This was not my idea but one of my close friend’s. However, he did not share this great idea with the world, and I figured I would!

So lets start!!

You can really use this method for anything, but wedding invitation are a great use case! Here is a live sample form for you to check out! Put in some fake info to see how it submits!

So now lets create your own form

1 ) Go to Google Docs


2 ) Click new spreadsheet on the left hand side. You will get a blank spreadsheet that looks like this:


2 ) In the Row 1  Column A enter the Title of your first Field. Continue going across to column B, C etc to create all the fields. You can create check-boxes and drop-downs, but for now we will cover just basic text fields. A basic set of fields include:

First Name    Last Name    Street Address    City    State    Zip Code


3 ) Now click ‘Forms’ above the spread sheet and select ‘Create Form’


4 ) Now you will get the form editing page. Enter the title of the form something like “Help Annie and Billy get your address”. Here you can remove and edit fields. If you made an extra field to keep track of how many people are going to your party from that invitation or to keep track if you mailed the invitation, then you can delete it here.


5 ) Next we will select a theme. Conveniently for us, a wedding theme has been provided! Click on ‘Theme’ and then select whichever one suits you.


6 ) Once the Theme has been selected, your form will refresh. You will be now able to see it as it will be seen by others! Make any changes you would like and then click apply!


7 ) Now you can either email directly for this view or just copy the url at the bottom and send it off in a mass e-mail.


8 ) At this point you can just check the spreadsheet or check the summary through the Forms drop down. As people submit, your spreadsheet will be instantly updated with their submitted info!


9 ) If this helped at all or you have some suggestions or questions, please leave a comment and I will attempt to help you.


Update:   I have updated some of the screenshots and directions. Please leave a message if you have any suggestions, ideas or comments. Thanks!


Root Cause Analysis of the Gulf Spill by BP

Found this through a linkedin Energy Group post and wanted to share it.

Technical presentation by BP of the root cause analysis of their Gulf spill spill. (direct download from

Set a Rotating Picture of the Earth as Your Wallpaper in KDE / Kubuntu

I saw this neat little write-up on how to set up an automatically updating live image of the earth as your wallpaper in Ubuntu. Since I  run Kubuntu, I wanted to share how to get this done in KDE .

I am running 10.04 so all screen shots and instructions are based on that. I am however,  sure that this will work equally as well in 9.10 etc.

1) I had to install a task scheduler as one was not pre-installed on my build. Run this command in terminal

sudo aptitude install kcron

2) Open the  task scheduler

KDE Button > Applications > Settings > System Settings > Advanced Tab > Task Scheduler (bottom row)

3)We will now tell the machine which little piece of instructions it will run.

Click ‘New Task’ on the right hand side and in the command line enter the following

wget -r -N

*Step 3 & Step 4 screenshots combined and shown after Step 4.

4) Now we will actually schedule the task.

Make sure the ‘Enable this task’ and ‘Run every day’ radio buttons are checked. As suggested by the lifehacker post, I opted to have this image updated every 6 hours. So selected 0,6,12,18 for the hours and 0 for the minutes. It might be helpful for people to pick random hours and minutes to help balance the load on the image server. Select OK

5) Once back to the main Task Scheduler window, highlight the task and click ‘Run Now” on the right side panel.

6) Click ‘Apply’ and then ‘X’ out of the window. At this point the image has been downloaded to your machine and will be updated every six hours assuming your machine is up and connected the Internet.

7) Now we have to simply set the image as our wallpaper. Hide all windows and right-click on the desktop. Then select ‘Desktop Activity Settings’ from the context menu.

  • Under type select ‘Image’
  • Select the appropriate positioning for your resolution as compared to the 1600×887 size image.
  • Below the image list click ‘Open’
  • Paste the following into the address bar    ~/
  • Select 1600.JPG
  • Now select the 1600.jpg from the wallpaper list
  • Click ‘Apply’ and then ‘OK’

8) Congrats you are DONE!

(Note each image seems to be around 150 kB). I am sure you can download other size images but this is that I chose for simplicity.

Thank you to Whitson Gordon and Lifehacker for the original idea!

Since I am a relative Linux beginner any suggestions and comments are VERY welcome.

I am doing some testing and I think I will be adding a secondary scheduled task to force update the wallpaper.

Is T-mobile pulling a fast one with the MyTouch 3g Slide?


As an early adopter and someone who pre-ordered the G1 on the first day of availability, I have been incredibly disappointed with T-mobile’s direction and lack of ambition with Android phones. Initially, it seemed as though T-mo would charge the way with releasing devices that run Googles little green alien. However, with disappointments like the CLIQ, MyTouch 3G(even the name is a joke), its Fender cousin, and now the Slide, it seems like T-mobile has given up the space of being the premier Android carrier. They do, however, still hold this title out of all the US GSM carriers.

Almost two years later, I am sitting here with my aging but wonderfully entertaining (thank you Cyanogenmod) G1 and no flagship Android device available on T-Mobile excluding the Nexus one.

My Hypothesis: T-mobile is announcing the ‘Slide and Touch my 3G’ to try and lure non-techies into a cheap and non-flagship device. Once the non-geeks jump onto the flashy, and  cheaper Slide, they will release a truly flagship device for the geeks that bought the G1 in the first place. The release will be timed to the actual contract end-date of the G1, which is around October 2010.

Here is my theory: T-mobile data subscribers are eligible for upgrades after 18 months of the previous term. So that most of the non-techie G1 owners will naturally go and get the slide.  Now the funny thing is that the Slide is actually a low end android device. The phone is built around the ARM 7227 processor clocked at 600 MHZ. When this processor was announced by Qualcomm it was billed as a low-end processor for sub-$150 phones. The genius button and the two-tiered skinning (tmo skin on top of the Sense UI on top of Android) does not appeal to the technically savvy crowd. Neither does the sidekick type styling and the general marketing that will be used to promote this device.

The Mytouch 3G slide costs $179.99 on contract, and one cannot expect to pay much more for a truly top-of-the-line device. The more people T-mobile can get to buy this phone, the higher their margin per subscriber will be due to the lower cost of the unit itself. Later on but before the end of the 24 months contract length, I believe they will introduce a flagship device probably priced at $199.99. This will allow them to bolster their bottom line and at the same time keep all the geeks and nerds around.

In conclusion: If you are an Android loving, T-mobile using, new phone needing Techie, wait for a surprise from T-mobile. All stars point to a new Android flagship device. At least, that’s what I’m hoping for.

UPDATE: Could this be it? a 5-Inch SonyEricsson device with a keyboard running Android 2.1.  Probably not since it’s more of a PMP, but something to consider.