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Basement hackers compete to best Netflix recommendations $1M


Posted by Artem Russakovskii on November 30th, 2008 in Programming, Technology

image This is a great read by NY Times. An article on 6 pages rarely gets my full attention but this is one of them (though I detest the usage of "basement hacker").

Basement hackers and amateur mathematicians are competing to improve the program that Netflix uses to recommend DVDs — and to win $1 million in the process.

"THE “NAPOLEON DYNAMITE” problem is driving Len Bertoni crazy. Bertoni is a 51-year-old “semiretired” computer scientist who lives an hour outside Pittsburgh. In the spring of 2007, his sister-in-law e-mailed him an intriguing bit of news: Netflix, the Web-based DVD-rental company, was holding a contest to try to improve Cinematch, its “recommendation engine.” The prize: $1 million.

Cinematch is the bit

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4

Got IM Spam?


Posted by Artem Russakovskii on November 24th, 2008 in Stuff

image Everyone hates spam, right? Right, well maybe except for security researchers – it pays their bills. But the rest of the sane world does, and so do I, and while gmail has figured out a way to deal with the problem 99.9% of the time, nobody invented instant messenger anti-spam solutions yet [I think].

Lately I have been getting increasingly annoyed with a certain unexplainable, persistent, and surprisingly intelligent botnet on AIM. From time to time I would get messages from some sort of a fish variation. My list so far consists of the following IM names:  CroppedCoho, FortifiedTrout, FreshenedupTrout, FrozenSolidTrout, HandcuffedCoho, KissableCoho, PreferentialCoho, SmarterCoho, TentativeCoho, WantedCoho, and YoinkedTrout. Does it look annoying already? Well, it is.

Each of the …

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Updated: February 18th, 2009

image Crash is one of the new shows I’m into and Panic is one of the most likeable and original characters on the show. I really think he’s going to be back after this show – it’s his breakthrough performance.

So, in, I think, episode 4 Panic (Jocko’s character) goes to the studio and raps for the first time. What comes out is quite amazing, I recommend you watch that episode for a more complete experience. Otherwise, proceed to the MP3 that I got directly off Jocko’s myspace page.

You can play it right on this page (Edit: download link removed, per Jocko's request in the comments) or support Jocko by buying his album off Amazon for only $0.99 …

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Updated: September 16th, 2012

The Idea

imageFor the past month I have been exploring options and building a perfect Home Theater PC for my 50” Vizio plasma. Besides the obvious, it has to play movies, youtube videos, etc, I had a few concrete goals in mind. Here they are:

  • it absolutely had to handle 1080P h264, specifically movies encoded using x264. An average movie size for this format is between 8.5 and 13 GB. There were 2 problems to overcome: the CPU had to be able to handle the decoding (my desktop dual core Conroe barely kept up) and the network had to be fast enough to stream in real time from my storage PC a floor away.
  • I needed to have the easiest
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