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Interesting story about .xxx and possible issues arising from registering them

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I would advise anyone thinking of an .xxx domain to reconsider. Although you can register the rather pricey domain (~$95 a year) The ICM Registry are in full control of whether or not the domain resolves.
According to their website you need to register as part of their 'sponsored community'. 'Fair enough' you say, 'where do I sign up'? Well you can't. At least not until the ICM send you an email with a valid link to a sign-up form. What they don't tell you is when you will get that email, and no amount of emails to ICM will enlighten me either. For me it has been seven days so far. Meanwhile the domain is earning me nothing and the registered year ticks along.
When will I get the email? Two months, three, never? Who knows. All I know is this is a very shady practice and I would stay the hell away.


Launched: Gift Lizard - Gift Shopping Done Right

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Yesterday I launched

Gift Lizard let's you describe the person you are shopping for and it makes recommendations based
your description. It's a more natural and free way to search for gifts because you don't need
to know what you want to buy for them but can get customized suggestions for the giftee.

The story behind the idea is kind of interesting. I was at Startup Weekend a couple weeks ago
and I didn't join a group on the first night. I went home after a long night at the bar and woke
up before my alarm clock with this idea in my head. It was a unique experience waking up with an
idea stuck in my head (and being up at 6am without an alarm going off).

So I quickly wrote it down on my idea pad and went back to the event. I started designing a mockup.

I showed a few people and we decided to work on it as our weekend project.

The final result was interesting, but it wasn't exactly what I had imagined. I didn't think much
about it for the next week or so. But eventually I realized I couldn't let it go. I had to build
my vision out or I wouldn't be satisfied that I had at least tried.

So yesterday, I launched Gift Lizard.

Photo Unshredder

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Instagram Engineering Challenge: The Unshredder
"Your challenge, if you choose to accept it, is to write a simple script that
takes a shredded image in as input and outputs an unshredded and reconstituted image."

So here's the sample image:

We're given the information that the slices are 32 pixels wide each, so I don't actually
address finding slices.

My Solution Process

Disclaimer: I've never really worked with images before and have little to no
knowledge of the research and techniques often used in this area.

The challenge appears to be figure out the best way to put pieces back together.

My first thought was I can sample X pixels from each edge of a slice, grab the RGB
value of each pixel and compare the difference.

The reasoning behind this was RGB is the easiest way I can think of to compare
differences in colors between pixels. Sampling would hopefully make it faster.

I made one critical mistake, instead of comparing pixel to pixel, I calculated
total R,G,B on an edge and compared the sum of an edge instead of a difference.

I didn't understand why that was wrong until the example of a checkerboard was
given. If you had a slice on a checkerboard they would actually be equal on
average but very different on a pixel to pixel comparison.

So, I had to revise my solution to compare pixel to pixel on each slice against
its opposing slices. So left side of slice 1 was compared against right side of
all the other slices in the image. The logic being that the slices with the
least amount of difference between them probably fit together.

Almost. Something is wrong here. The striped building seems to throwing it off.
The striped building has the highest difference value of any left-right pairs.
So my algorithm kept putting it on the side.

How can I make the striped building fit together? I tried cheating and seeded the
proper right end image (slice 10) and the image constructed itself perfectly.

Well, the only solution I came up with was somewhat brute force in nature. What
if I try compiling the image with every slice as an edge and see what the total
computed difference of the image is?

Voila! The only way I could think to overcome this was proving the whole image turned
out better despite the high difference pair.

My code is publicly available on Github

I apologize if you actually read the code, it's a mess, there is a lot of testing going on, commented out code and things that aren't used in the final version. I thought it would be a good way to learn about ImageMagick and PHP's Imagick class (which is the worst documented thing I've seen on PHP.NET)

Rejected from YCombinator & Startup reaches a major milestone

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This was the expected, default even, outcome.

We're sorry to say we couldn't accept your proposal for funding.
Please don't take it personally. The applications we receive get
better every funding cycle, and since there's a limit on the number
of startups we can interview in person, we had to turn away a lot
of genuinely promising groups.

Another reason you shouldn't take this personally is that we know
we make lots of mistakes. It's alarming how often the last group
to make it over the threshold for interviews ends up being one that
we fund. That means there are surely other good groups that fall
just below the threshold and that we miss even interviewing.

We're trying to get better at this, but the hard limit on the number
of interviews means it's practically certain that groups we rejected
will go on to create successful startups. If you do, we'd appreciate

Godaddy plugs whois privacy hole

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It seems Godaddy has finally plugged a hole in its whois privacy system which allowed users to see the domain owner's email address domain (ie **** if they tried to retrieve passwords. Now it requires the user the enter that email address instead of verifying that the asterisked email address is in fact the proper domain associated with the account. I highlighted the fix in the image below. Privacy at Godaddy just got a little bit stronger.

What kind of doctor can fix a website?

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Bad nerd humor is hilarious sometimes.

Domains and Startups ( from TechStars TV featuring Fred Wilson)

TechStars TV Episode 3 (around 15 minutes)

What happened: SocratED renames to Veri and gets the domain

Transcript (might be a few mistakes, I went through 3-4 times to try and copy this word for word):

David Tisch: Socratic + Education = crap name

Founder: Seeing how no one was able to pronounced our old name, SocratEd, we thought it might be a good idea to move to a much shorter 4 letter domain that meant something, so we moved to

David Cohen: That's a good name, veri being truth.

Fred Wilson: four letter domains? impossible. you can't get a four letter domain.

David Tisch: where did they get the money for that is the first question I asked?

David Cohen: so here is the crazy thing, Lee has owned that domain for the past 6 years.

Fred Wilson: There you go. They are the team of that week for that alone, that's going from the out house to the penthouse.

I thought this was interesting for a couple reasons.

From a startup perspective, it's interesting to see how impressed investors can be from a domain name. A strong domain truly does send a signal.

From a domainer perspective, it's shocking to realize that it stuns these investors that a startup has such a good domain. They don't think they have the money and it's not sure if they believe a company should be spending that money so early either on a good domain.

Social media, the reshaping of communication and who controls how we talk to one another

The term Social Media refers to the use of web-based and mobile technologies to turn communication into an interactive dialogue. Andreas Kaplan and Michael Haenlein define social media as "a group of Internet-based applications that build on the ideological and technological foundations of Web 2.0, and that allow the creation and exchange of user-generated content." Social media are media for social interaction, as a superset beyond social communication. Enabled by ubiquitously accessible and scalable communication techniques, social media substantially change the way of communication between organizations, communities, as well as individuals.


WTF does that even mean? The term social media with this definition is truly focused on media - how we are communicated to and are suddenly empowered to communicate back to the powers which use the media.

Liberal Paradox and Domain Names

I was recently introduced to Amartya Sen's Liberal Paradox and found it quite interesting. The Wikipedia page does an ok job explaining it, I liked this article more.

Sen’s liberal paradox is meant to demonstrate that when autonomous agents act with complete freedom, it is impossible for the agents to produce an outcome that is a net improvement to everyone. While this is not to argue for government intervention, it is to say that a pareto optimal improvement and libertarianism cannot coexist. In other words, the paradox shows us that the invisible hand of the marketplace is incapable of producing net improvements in welfare for a given society.

When you think about the domain industry in the context of the liberal paradox it makes sense why everyone is so unhappy.

Should I really listen to this advice?

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One thing that constantly bothers me is how we give advice to other people and how people listen to our advice. I think we are generally predisposed to give our opinions and advice to others; whether it be for our own ego, genuine desire to help others, a social obligation or whatever else may drive us. The underlying reason is somewhat irrelevant to the point of this post.

The thing that bothers me most is when people give unqualified advice, which could vary from simply time wasting to harmful in terms of content.

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