85: TZ Discussion – High on Helium-3

Justin and Jason discuss the show’s numbers and its potential growth, the status of the donation drive, the possibility of doing a mimic show, Justin’s idea for a collaborative brainstorming app, overcoming domain name squatters, the success of Jason’s first three blog posts, blogging as a strategy for acquiring beta users, the importance of timing to a startup idea, the negative effects of overly long work sessions, why you should try every time, incentivizing listener’s to write iTunes reviews, writing an open letter about Helium-3, the Gustaf story, how Jason and Guyon wrote their own password hashing framework, writing tutorials as a strategy for becoming an authority on the web and Craig Ventor’s suggestion that NASA implement genetic engineering.

Special thanks goes to the executive producers of this show:

  1. Justin says:

    @Ben Boyter (Grand Patron) – Hopefully this is more of the rambling discussion you we’re looking for last show 😉

  2. Chris Boesing says:

    sorry for all caps, but I WANT TO READ THE URI GELLER STORY!

  3. @Justin, Looking forward to it! Should make my weekend chores more interesting and fun!

  4. Justin, ThinkTank is already used for other products. Gina Trapani was using it for a Twitter app she started but ended up renaming it to ThinkUp after finding the name was being used. From the way you talked on the show I assume that’s a working name so it shouldn’t be a problem if you change it.

    You have to write the blog post about Uri Geller. Anything about that crank is usually good, especially if it’s about his failures.

    You misspoke about evolution. While genetic drift / randomness does play a part, much of it comes from reproduction and survival. Passing your genes down to the next generation is not random.

    The problems Jason has with his mic on regular intervals is a known issue, most likely with the chipset or drivers. It happens on the TWiT network a lot. Unplugging it and plugging back in should fix it.

    I’ve been wondering why you don’t get a couple of Yeti mics or something of similar quality and pricing? For the ~$400 you could get two and have some money left over.

    Jason, it sounds like you’re over thinking hashing. If someone gets access to the database you have much bigger problems than the difference between strong hash lengths (eg sha256 vs sha512).

  5. Neville says:

    @Jason – Appignite launch party should include barbecuing a-pig-a[t]-nite. Let’s get this thing going! Less talk, more release! I’m ready to start building something.

    Just finished my donation to TZ, but I want an EP credit on the “Race to He3” site instead.

    @Justin – what’s with all the pessimism? “Appignite will fail…He3 will cause the end of humanity and we’ll be responsible…Guyon and Jason will become a target for hackers” …lighten up dude, you got the winter blues or something?

  6. Justin says:

    @Neville – LOL! 😉

  7. Had a good fun listening to the show – I probably blushed a couple times too!
    I think that more listeners should comment and promote the show since you guys are “our Think Tank”. You give us great content so we need to return the favor. I just wrote an iTunes review – who wants to be next? C’mon guys and gals, it’s what it will take to get Justin to do X!

    Justin, I am looking forward to hear more details about the brainstorming app – sounds interesting and maybe cooler than using MindMapping and/or BATF. 🙂

    I enjoyed the debate on time investment related to blogging. I’m kind of with Jason on that one. You made an interesting point towards the end of the show about splitting tutorial blog posts into different parts released at different times. Maybe I should adopt that approach. The tutorials I have written have always taken a ton of time I guess I could have “released early, released often” by splitting them into parts.

    I had forgotten about the open letter related to He3. It would be great to bring other scientists into the story. Do other listeners know of people who could help educate us more on the topic?

  8. William says:

    Are you testing your hashing library? The GPU threat is interesting. This is part of why password lengths are increasing at a number of companies.

    For 3He, it’s also used for detecting neutrons and as a result, homeland security has been buying up a lot of the world’s available supplies…..

  9. Jim Robert says:

    About the stackoverflow podcast: I was a big fan of it and I think there is quite a bit of crossover in audience.

  10. Yeti says:

    @Jason – Was the time spent writing your own hashing library really worth the time and effort? Would that time and effort not have been better spent on the main application itself rather than re-inventing the wheel?

    I’m not having a moan cause I know how sometimes its more exciting to work on something interesting rather than tracking down an obscure bug or work on some otherwise mundane but important code.

    Possibly a future discussion on how to overcome feature-creep and generally keeping yourself on track with your projects rather than getting side tracked by ‘interesting’ diversions?

    Also, another thing I don’t think I’ve heard you guys discuss is your approach to software testing. For my current project, testing has become crucial as the code has increased in complexity. Alongside my custom test harness I’ve also been using a off-the-shelf code coverage tool to develop test cases and reduce redundant code.

    Anyway, great show guys, thanks!

  11. On This Week In Venture Capital there was talk of mining the moon for resources for fusion reactors possibly being a justification behind the 50 million dollar venture funding of Elon Musk’s SpaceX.

    The Zeitgeist may be just right for an http://www.investigateHelium3.com petition site. I am sure it would take the interest of the tech community.

    If you emailed celebrities with a couple of paragraph explanation and asked them to sign up you might get some press.


  12. William says:


    Speaking of rolling your own code–I’m not a javascript programmer–is there a good unit test framework for javascript? I’ve looked at stackoverflow, but the answers seem rather dated….


  13. I’m with Dan. Jason you are overthinking the whole hashing thing. Sure its good to have strong passwords with strong hashes but all you need do is salt them. If someone has access to your database so they can start cracking hashes you have bigger issues to deal with.

    What it id make me think about is this article http://stacksmashing.net/2010/11/15/cracking-in-the-cloud-amazons-new-ec2-gpu-instances/ which just goes to show short passwords without a salt are trivially crackable even with SHA1 hashes.

  14. Jason says:

    @Dan DeFelippi

    That’s interesting about the Skype / mic problem. I just hope that it’s eventually fixed because it’s extremely annoying to have to deal with.

    What we did for the password hashing only took us a few hours of work, so while you may be right that we over thought it, in the end it didn’t require a big investment of time. Plus, it was fun to learn about it all. 😉

  15. Jason says:


    I love the idea of barbecuing a-pig-a[t]-nite for the AppIgnite launch party! Very clever.

    You’re right, Justin was being a noisy negativist. What a buzzkill. 😉

  16. Jason says:


    Yeah, I think we’re going to need to look at the hashing some more based on the latest GPU cracking techniques. I know Guyon is doing some more research on the subject, not only for our hashing code, but also for his tutorial series on randomness and security.

    That’s really interesting that homeland security has been buying up a lot of the world’s available supplies. I think I’m going to have to ask the Goog about it. 😉

  17. Jason says:


    Yeah, it could be argued that we shouldn’t have spent three to four hours writing the hashing code and just used some existing library, but it wasn’t that much time and it was fun to learn about. Plus, it’s something we can easily improve if we need to based on growing computer power. That said you make a good point. You should be wary of getting sidetracked by shiny new problems and technologies.

  18. Jason says:

    @Ben Boyer

    Yep, Guyon just brought that article to my attention. Very interesting.

  19. Jason says:

    @Sam Howley

    I think you might be right. Justin and I are on the case! 😉

  20. Michael Richards says:

    Sign me up for the H3 freedom train. After the website for H3 is created then raise some money for a full page ad to run in the Wall Street Journal. That will certainly get some attention.!

  21. Jason says:

    @Michael Richards

    I like the way your mind works. That’s an awesome idea and I agree that’s exactly what we should do. Go big or go home!

  22. Ben says:

    It’s funny, I went looking for Jason’s project, Epic Night.

    Tried searching, tried domains, finally followed the links in the About Jason section only to find it was “AppIgnite.” D’oh.

  23. Jason says:

    @Ben – Yeah, that’s kind of depressing. 😉 I guess it’s just a shortcoming of the name that I’m going to have to live with.

  24. Corey says:

    Thanks for the shouts. I have been listening from pretty early on – at least since 25. I just never comment. It’s the disconnect I find with most podcasts – I’m listening in iTunes or on my iPhone, so it honestly never occurred to me to comments. You bullied me into it. 🙂