July 2009 Archives

Data Kitteh now tells you what sites are behind IP addresses, for free

data-kitteh.jpgData Kitteh is a new site I put up to house my personal data visualization projects. Today I'm adding a third project to the site: a free listing of what sites are behind IP addresses.

I find myself going to Domain Tools for this data all the time. But I never want to pay them anything, and they only give you a few sites for free. They do give you server location info for free, which I am also always looking up, but it sits on another page in their site.

So what I did is I took a byproduct of the Parked Domains Project, i.e. IP address <-> domain name linkages, and I sorted by IP address. I also added more value by including server location as well as whether the underlying domains are parked, non-parked, or don't have a live site behind them.

I did put up a cutoff of 100 domains per IP address because some domains have literally tens of thousands. However, this is a vast improvement from the 3 you get at Domain Tools and has proven to be more than enough for my purposes.

I have coverage right now for these TLDs: .com, .biz, .org, .us, .info, .coop, .aero, mobi and .net. This gets you most domains, but obviously the vast majority of TLDs (mostly countries) are not covered. The problem is I don't have good domain lists for these TLDs. If you do, e.g. for .uk, .au, etc., and you would like to share them with me, I would greatly appreciate it. Also, if you have any feature requests, I will surely consider them.

Health care policy: will we ration 5% cures?

Suppose you are terminally ill with few months to live if untreated. There is a new drug that has a 5% success rate that if successful, will leave you completely cured. But 95% of the time it won't work and you will get no benefit. Should the government pay for these 5% cures?

On the face of it, this is a case where pure cost/benefit analysis would most often return a big fat NO. This result occurs because 95% of the costs will be effectively wasted such that cost per unit of life extension will seem really high relative to other things under consideration. It gets even worse if the cure ends up being say a 3-year life extension on average because those patients end up dying from something else in that time frame due to their weakened initial state. Or if the cure rate was even lower, say 3% or even 1%.

At the same time, the cost to the person whose life is saved appears ~20x lower to them because they would not incur individually the costs for the other 19 people (on average). I don't pretend to have the answer to the question, and would be interested in your thoughts, but I think this is an interesting case that shows the complexities we will soon increasingly face as well as one potential pitfall of cost/benefit analysis that pundits love to push.

We ration health care already, both privately and publicly, so I'm not too interested in the question of will we ration care of not. I believe that debate to be a false one. What I am interested in, however, is how our rationing will change under proposed reforms. It seems that we are headed towards some sort of quasi-public body that will decide, at least for public options, what care will be approved for varying reimbursements. Of course, this is similar to what we do now, but this new body will presumably have more power and be trying a lot harder than we do now to squeeze costs out of the system.

No one really cares about unnecessary costs because they are by definition unnecessary, e.g. duplicate tests. And I suspect existing Medicare benefits will end up being frozen in time, i.e. no current benefits will be cut. Yet that is only a short term win since new drugs enter the market place all the time. It is around these new drugs where some interesting debate will occur, which brings me back to the case of what I'm calling the 5% cure. 

These cures pose additional problems beyond the initial cost/benefit debates. Suppose we stop covering 5% cures as a rule. Further suppose, and I don't know if this is the case but I suspect such, that a lot of great treatments that end up being 50% cures start out as 5% cures. By shutting down (or at least hampering) the 5% cure market we will be effectively telling pharma not to invest in these cutting edge treatments. From their perspective, what's the point? That could lead to less important disruptive innovation in health care, which is the very thing we want to encourage.

Nobody puts baby in the corner

Eli's 4 1/2 months already(!) and he crawls. Not quickly mind you, but he eventually gets where he is going, sort of like a snail. Butt high in the air, slinking along, and not terribly happy about the process as much as the destination.

Our doctor told us that babies are smarter than you think they are. I thought I was heeding his advice perfectly until last night. I had just assumed (key mistake) that his attempts at crawling were in somewhat random directions.

We had been putting him to bed in a crib at night, and he would make his way over the course of the night into the corner. It looked uncomfortable with the head pressed up against the side, so we would move him back to the center. But he would find he kept finding his way back to the corner.

Yesterday when putting him in the crib for a nap, I decided to experiment and just start him in the corner. He went to sleep very quickly. 

OK, but maybe that is because he had nowhere to go. So last night we tried again to start him in the corner. He has taken to going to sleep between 6:30-7:30 and waking up around 12:30-1:30 to cry/"crankle" for a while (30-45min) only to fall back asleep for several more hours.

He woke up last night around 1:10AM. I go in there and he is along the top edge of the crib, faced in the other direction, butt up, about 1/3 of the way to the other corner. It really looked like he was making his way from one corner to the other, deliberately. 

So I picked him up and put him where he seemed like he wanted to go. And it worked!

Time commitment for being a great dad? Great mom?

My last post taking issue with Obama's fatherhood commercial generated some passionate comments summarized by "I think the message he's trying to convey is that being a [great] father is not that hard or time consuming." 

This got me thinking as to what is the minimum amount time a parent needs to spend with their child daily (on average) to be even considered great? Can you skate by on just a few minutes, if they are somehow quality minutes? 

Personally, I don't think so. Certainly it takes more than just a few minutes, right? What about an hour a day? Can you still be a great dad on an hour a day?

I'm still hesitant to call that kind of parenting *great* as in exceptional or distinguished. At best it seems good, and is probably more like average.

And is the requirement for being a great mom different than a great dad? If the traditional working family was reversed with the mom working and the dad staying at home, and the mom spent one quality hour a day with the kids, would she be a great mom? 

She better be or its sexist, right? Yet I can't see that person thinking she is a great Mom.

What if both parents work and they each just spend one quality hour with their kids, paying childcare workers for the rest of the time. Can they both be great parents through just this one shared hour a day?

Don't get me wrong. I agree with the message that you should spend more time with your kids, and all time counts. I think the problem is in making the leap from "a few minutes" or even an hour to somehow being "great."

Obama "Fatherhood" commercial sends terrible messages

I hate this Obama "Fatherhood" commercial (15 sec) I keep seeing on Hulu. Here's the transcript:

"To be a great dad is the most important job in a man's life, but it doesn't have to be hard. All it takes is a few minutes of your time. Because the smallest moments can have the biggest impact on a child's life. Take time to be a dad today."

So let me get this straight. You can be a great dad through just a few minutes of your time? On the contrary, a few minutes is the difference between an absolutely absent dad and a severely neglectful dad, but it doesn't come close to being a great dad or even an OK dad. 

Also, I gather from this ad that parenting doesn't have to be hard because all it takes is a few minutes of your time. Really? So who takes care of the children the other 3,557 minutes of the day? Is he really implying that the mother's role is to do so?

It also says being a great dad is the most important job in a man's life. If it is that important, doesn't it require more of us than a few minutes?

Banned words in Google's SafeSearch


Obama, please tell Congress to read their bills


Obama, please say you won't sign any bills that Congress hasn't had the opprortunity to read, digest and debate. 

I realize you are not in charge of Congress.  But you are the head of the party in power and there is a lot more you could be doing to "change Washington" like you said you were going to do. Sending this signal would make a great start.

Maybe no one in Congress is to blame. Maybe the root cause is the system itself, which drives the tactics that result in last minute, hastily written and unread bills. If it is a systemic problem, that is more of a reason for you to exert influence because by definition it wouldn't change otherwise.

So at your next press conference, please make the point you will expect more of Congress here on out.

Earliest still active (and unprotected) twitter users

I've been messing around lately with twitter network analysis and follow recommendations for my own amusement. While using the Twitter API I randomly came across a lot of really low user ids, first because I follow @joshk, and then because a lot of other people follow @ev & co.

I guess twitter more or less assigned user ids sequentially from 0, at least early on.  So I went back and queried the earliest user ids.  The following is a list of the ones under 1K that are still active (and unprotected).  For the fun of it, I also did an analysis of each with follow recommendations.

12 @jack analysis
13 @biz analysis
15 @crystal analysis
17 @tonystubblebine analysis
18 @Adam analysis
20 @ev analysis
21 @dom analysis
22 @rabble analysis
23 @timroberts analysis
31 @rayreadyray analysis
34 @ariel analysis
47 @kellan analysis
52 @hook analysis
53 @sara analysis
56 @kati analysis
57 @SarahM analysis
58 @Darkside analysis
59 @Tim535353 analysis
60 @andrew analysis
61 @dan analysis
62 @gregkidd analysis
64 @livia analysis
66 @dunstan analysis
67 @andykeep analysis
87 @krissy analysis
89 @al analysis
94 @alissa analysis
104 @RobMcCarthy analysis
107 @pud analysis
108 @ilona analysis
126 @brandooon analysis
136 @meikel analysis
150 @stevej analysis
155 @craigcalef analysis
187 @stacy analysis
189 @maestorm analysis
190 @jokerwonga analysis
194 @jennycool analysis
202 @russ analysis
203 @smays analysis
204 @texasex2k analysis
209 @phil analysis
221 @h0mee analysis
224 @davepell analysis
242 @victor analysis
246 @blaine analysis
257 @rael analysis
259 @ian analysis
260 @sharon analysis
266 @japhy analysis
274 @danarkind analysis
277 @casey analysis
278 @dreamdawl19 analysis
279 @Angela analysis
288 @solsken analysis
291 @goldman analysis
292 @cw analysis
293 @mai analysis
294 @ario analysis
295 @joshk analysis
314 @ethan analysis
322 @twang analysis
334 @eggplantia5 analysis
341 @alexia analysis
344 @Bob analysis
346 @jo analysis
350 @oof analysis
357 @wubbahed analysis
364 @graysky analysis
365 @Gary analysis
380 @kevin analysis
388 @aron analysis
391 @TylerDurden analysis
398 @Quinn analysis
407 @asa analysis
408 @endquote analysis
409 @Case analysis
414 @veen analysis
418 @dens analysis
422 @shellen analysis
423 @SaraWD analysis
424 @katalia analysis
430 @Richard analysis
432 @cb analysis
443 @atvelu analysis
448 @Maggie analysis
450 @LoriLoo analysis
456 @davegray analysis
460 @andr01d analysis
506 @JonMarkwell analysis
509 @jerrymichalski analysis
521 @gerwitz analysis
528 @buzz analysis
531 @DocRob analysis
535 @bakingfairy analysis
541 @lane analysis
544 @peter analysis
556 @ch analysis
562 @rubylabs analysis
573 @heyitsnoah analysis
577 @Nica analysis
581 @Ari analysis
586 @sacca analysis
590 @Derrick analysis
591 @Naina analysis
598 @sfegette analysis
607 @mg analysis
613 @jerry analysis
614 @dcharrison analysis
633 @zephoria analysis
637 @Dick analysis
642 @phopkins analysis
648 @heif analysis
649 @MaryHodder analysis
652 @kohtz analysis
666 @Jessie analysis
675 @Anthony analysis
681 @Yarrow analysis
683 @jcherup analysis
684 @kushwaha analysis
686 @ericost analysis
690 @avartan analysis
711 @Alysha analysis
714 @dereko analysis
717 @Manu analysis
718 @jshugars analysis
719 @m2mcguire analysis
722 @neha analysis
728 @codefin analysis
730 @crutis analysis
746 @gshellen analysis
747 @thepartycow analysis
750 @cg analysis
753 @mc analysis
754 @superc analysis
755 @noaml analysis
760 @boogah analysis
761 @rodbegbie analysis
762 @astroboy analysis
763 @Eddie94603 analysis
765 @seanbonner analysis
767 @xenijardin analysis
769 @RichardAult analysis
775 @ravivarmapm analysis
780 @willij analysis
781 @may analysis
785 @kfury analysis
791 @paulmorriss analysis
795 @Wrickr analysis
841 @colinschlueter analysis
842 @brs analysis
844 @brough analysis
845 @damien analysis
849 @largeheartedboy analysis
850 @eventi analysis
852 @emorris_google analysis
855 @ikisai analysis
859 @richziade analysis
861 @jaygoldman analysis
866 @SEKeener analysis
874 @waynesutton analysis
875 @aaronbailey analysis
878 @everett analysis
880 @nanek analysis
882 @nerdgirl analysis
885 @Ross analysis
888 @caroline analysis
892 @laluna_negra analysis
897 @manton analysis
903 @Hunter analysis
911 @richellis analysis
913 @alba analysis
916 @mojodenbow analysis
917 @JoeLaz analysis
918 @mac analysis
922 @Holger analysis
923 @earnestdotcom analysis
926 @bradbarrish analysis
927 @erindecker analysis
928 @necrodome analysis
934 @thatsdope analysis
936 @karina analysis
939 @michael analysis
940 @jrhyley analysis
947 @leeott analysis
949 @pedraum analysis
951 @axodys analysis
953 @mrdonut analysis
955 @claysmith analysis
958 @tyler analysis
959 @fix analysis
960 @velkr0 analysis
961 @FakeRiaz analysis
963 @scootrous analysis
964 @getluky analysis
965 @cvodb analysis
977 @beaulebens analysis
978 @ddukes analysis
981 @Morgan1st analysis
984 @brentv analysis
985 @mastermaq analysis
987 @lorna analysis
988 @nitin analysis
989 @om analysis
992 @heyalchang analysis
993 @joshua analysis
994 @kareem analysis
997 @tedr analysis
999 @dariusmc analysis
1000 @jordym analysis

P.S. If you want an analysis, follow @datakitteh and I'll get to eventually.

I love TV! There, I said it...

Woke up today to see yet another anti-TV post on Hacker News.  The comments link to two really funny takes on the issue at Stuff White People Like and The Onion.

Here's what I like to watch on TV:

I find it odd to indict an entire communication medium with anything. Of course there is stuff you are not going to like on TV. But by the same token, there is probably stuff you will like too.

Do you want to be good friends with the average person? 

I can understand the argument of wanting to reclaim your time. I cut out reading the newspaper in paper-form last year. I used to get the WSJ and the Phoenix delivered. But I didn't cut out the entire news medium. Instead, I just cut down my consumption to what I find most interesting, which I now get through a site I made for that purpose and via RSS feeds.

Similarly, cutting out all TV seems a bit drastic me. Ne qid nimis (nothing in excess).  I DVR everything, so I watch it when I want and I get to skip all the commercials.

Anyway, my point here is not really to defend TV. I'm just saying I consider myself a hacker and I, for one, love the above shows. 

What do you like to watch?

Global innovation loss from lack of co-opting startup experience?

How often have you seen a good product die? If only they had done x, y or z... Perhaps if they had a team with more or varied experience we might all be better off for their product's continued development.

Now sum up the innovation loss from that one product to all the products that have died for lack of execution. How much global productivity have we lost?  As high as 1%/yr?  More?

I'm applying this thought experiment to startups, but the same question could be applied to anything where experience plays a role. The topic occurred to me while watching Robert McNamara on Charlie Rose last night on the subject of military strategy (rebroadcasts).

McNamara has all these lessons that he has written up in several books and that were depicted in the movie The Fog of War. In the startup world, we see lesson posts coming through Hacker News daily. Despite the authors' (and often the readers') best intentions, I'm highly doubtful that this attempt at knowledge transfer is having much of an impact.

Certainly, writing up lessons is better than not writing up lessons. And certainly the Internet has helped spread experience faster and more democraticaly, e.g. Stack Overflow.  Yet there is only so much you can get across in a hands-off approach.

I think co-opting hands-on experience is the key value of the pre-seed funds like YC and DreamIt. I am a mentor for Dreamit participant Scribnia this summer, and so I've seen this first hand. It is the difference of reading my post on SEO and having me review your specific site in detail. 

Don't get me wrong, Ask HN is a great start. I'm just not convinced it is enough to stop the massive productivity loss I think is occurring due to lack of experience. I don't have (or pretend to have) the answers, but here's a couple ideas that popped into my head:

  1. Startups could more intensely focus on the smart money when raising capital. They are getting people literally financially invested in their companies. If those people have the right experience, the startup has (I hope) motivated them to apply that experience to the company.

  2. Similarly, startups could co-opt experience by creating other financial incentives.  For example, an advisory board where you give each of a few advisors 1%.
What else?

What makes you weird?

What does most (>75%) of the population (of your country) do that you do not?

Note that I'm not asking what makes you unique.  For example, I'm an INTJ, which is one of those 1% personality types. However, it's not like 99% of people are one personality type and then us INTJs are the other one. There are 16 Myers-Briggs types, so this doesn't count, although it certainly contributes to my uniqueness.

I'm looking for (at least almost) binary things. The first thing I thought of is that don't drink, but it turns out 40% of Americans don't drink.  So that doesn't count.

Here's some things that seem to count (with my % estimates):
  • I have a graduate degree (10% of US pop>25). (A bachelor's degree doesn't cut it any more as 27% of the US population over 25 has one.)
  • I went to a top-10 school (3% of school goers).
  • I am a business owner (15% of US pop>25).
  • I did not get a job after school. (I started a business instead.)  I can't find a stat here, but I'm sure it is very low.
  • I'm a stay-at-home Dad (1% of dads).
  • I blog (12% of Internet users).

What about you?