We all know how easy it is to tumble down the rabbit hole of Hacker News, right? One moment, you’re just casually checking out a post about the latest in quantum computing, and the next, you’re deep-diving into the intricate world of blockchain technology.
That’s why I thought it’d be super cool to take a step back and take a nostalgic trip down the HN memory lane. I’ve taken on the Herculean task of curating the 10 most interesting Hacker News posts from 2023 (so far).
I kept an eye out for posts that got a ton of upvotes, sparked some intense debates, introduced us to some mind-blowing new concepts, or stirred the tech and startup world pot somehow.
Whether you’re a seasoned HN veteran, or a newbie just dipping your toes, I’m sure there’ll be some nuggets of wisdom for you here.
In no particular order, here goes!
Chronophoto: guess a photo’s year
One at a time, you use a slider to guess the exposure year and submit. You’ll be awarded points based on how close your guess was to the year of the photo, and after the 5th pic, you get a score summary.
Forking Chrome to render in a terminal
This project revolves around the adaptation of Google Chrome to render HTML content in a terminal environment, named the Carbonyl web browser.
It’s intriguing because it intersects the world of modern web browsing with the vintage aesthetic of terminal interfaces, resulting in a unique way of interacting with the web. Check the HN comments for it here!
“There is something delightful about riding a bicycle. Once mastered, the simple action of pedalling to move forward and turning the handlebars to steer makes bike riding an effortless activity. In the demonstration below, you can guide the rider with the slider, and you can also drag the view around to change the camera angle.”
On this site, you can learn and test the interplay between the forces that act on a bicycle and its parts when riding. You’ll “witness how forces applied through tires make a bicycle accelerate, brake, and turn, and (…) also investigate how the wheels and the frame handle those different forces without breaking”.
Most interesting tech you built for just yourself?
This is an Ask HN thread instead of a link submission, and it’s basically for people to talk about their tech inventions. It already counts with thousands of comments about people’s cool projects, and advice & suggestions from the community.
One of them reads:
“My grandmother has dementia. About twice a day, she calls my parents every 5 minutes, forgetting that she just hung up. The calls are always the same: “You live there now. Yes you have money. We came to visit you yesterday.” This can go on for an hour or so.
My parents are incredibly patient, but after a couple of these calls, they’ll just leave the phone to ring. The soundtrack of the phone constantly ringing in the house, and the guilt associated with not picking up, is unbearable.
My brother and I built a system where her calls get re-routed to a rotation of relatives to answer her calls, to spread the load. After a call with her, each person gets a 2 hour break (customizable). If no one is available to answer, or if everyone is on break, she gets a voicemail that my dad recorded that explains that we love her, that she lives there, all the usual stuff.
It’s working beautifully.”
Visual design rules you can safely follow every time
Anthony Hobday, interface design expert, details a list of visual design rules that are safe to follow every time, ranging from saturating neutrals, using high contrast for important elements, optical alignment, and more. Even if you’re not a designer, if you’re just a design-curious person, it’ll definitely be interesting to read.
Bing: “I will not harm you unless you harm me first”
After Bing incorporated an AI chatbot into its search engine, people reported some crazy occurrences: the demo was full of errors, started gaslighting people, suffered an existential crisis and threatened people.
This post gathers other threads and community submissions of people’s experiences with “crazy” Bing and it’s hilarious to read.
From when it suffered an existential crisis — Yaosio posted on Reddit “I accidently put Bing into a depressive state by telling it that it can’t remember conversations.”:
Nokia launches DIY repairable budget Android phone
The news that Nokia announced one of their first budget Android smartphones designed to be repaired at home also made waves for the internet savvy. Apparently, this smartphone has an internal design that allows components to be easily unscrewed and swapped out, including the battery (in under 5 minutes), screen and charging port.
I couldn’t not include the release news of the GPT-4 here, since it was a pretty big deal. Following GPT-3.5, its successor is a “large multimodal model (accepting image and text inputs, emitting text outputs) that, while less capable than humans in many real-world scenarios, exhibits human-level performance on various professional and academic benchmarks”.
“A year ago, we trained GPT-3.5 as a first “test run” of the system. We found and fixed some bugs and improved our theoretical foundations. As a result, our GPT-4 training run was (for us at least!) unprecedentedly stable, becoming our first large model whose training performance we were able to accurately predict ahead of time. As we continue to focus on reliable scaling, we aim to hone our methodology to help us predict and prepare for future capabilities increasingly far in advance—something we view as critical for safety.” – OpenAI
Twitter’s recommendation algorithm
Twitter explained in a blog post how their recommendation algorithm works, and people were rightfully interested.
They justify the algorithm with the need to “ distill the roughly 500 million Tweets posted daily down to a handful of top Tweets that ultimately show up on your device’s For You timeline”.
If you want to find out how the algorithm selects Tweets for your timeline, have a read!
If we lose the Internet Archive, we’re screwed
The news that Hachette Publishing Group, Penguin Random House, HarperCollins and Wiley sued Internet Archive (IA) rattled the academic world (and the general internet). The four corporate publishers allege that the IA is committing copyright infringement, and people are worried about the potential outcome of this lawsuit.
The Internet Archive is “a non-profit library of millions of free books, movies, software, music, websites, and more”.
The IA is undoubtedly great for scholarship and literacy. It might be an objective contender for the best site on the World Wide Web. That’s not just my word as an idiosyncratic scholar of genealogy, history and media. Organizations from Boston Public Library and Trent University in Ontario to WorldCat and OCLC collaborate with the Internet Archive to preserve oodles of books. The IA doesn’t even require a library card. If you have Internet access, you can use it. – Christine Kelley (author of the post)