hacker news with inline top comments    .. more ..    6 Oct 2010 Best
home   ask   best   9 years ago   
How Fake Money Saved Brazil npr.org
364 points by nl 1 day ago   128 comments top 22
90 points by frossie 1 day ago 5 replies      
"He said, 'Well, I've just been named the finance minister. You know I don’t know economics, so please come to meet me in Brasilia tomorrow,' " Bacha recalls.

So, three things had to happen:

1. A politician had to admit his ignorance

2. Some bright spark technocrat somewhere had the right solution to a seemingly impossible problem.

3. The right politician asked for help from the right technocrat

They're not kidding. It is a miracle.

87 points by diego_moita 1 day ago 4 replies      
The article doesn't tell lies, but it certainly spices up a lot the story. Some points to clarify:

* The "finance minister who knew nothing about economics" was actually a very respected sociologist, a senator and a very intelligent and skilled politician. He later became known as president Fernando Henrique Cardoso. I.M.O. one of the best 3 presidents this country had.

* What Edmar Bacha, Pedro Malan and others did was to break inflation's inertia/momentum. A lot of people already knew it was necessary; but no one else knew how to do it.

* The article doesn't comment on the strict and cautious monetary policy implemented by Fernando Cardoso. It was as much important as the "fake money" trick.

* Big inflation was a huge tax on the poorest people. Because they were poor, they didn't have the knowledge and means to protect against rising prices. It is because inflation ended that they began consuming more and the country increased their internal markets.

[Edit]Wikipedia has a more comprehensive explanation about what we call here Plano Real : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plano_real [/Edit]

29 points by noonespecial 1 day ago 2 replies      
So they used the real, which was fake, to make the money that was real fake, so they could make real money out of the fake real.

Dr. Seuss would be proud.

7 points by pavlov 1 day ago 4 replies      
Heh. I always assumed that the name of the currency, real, has the meaning "royal". Instead, it's literally the same as the English word. What an interesting story.

Have any other governments suffering from high inflation tried this?

Instead of calling it a fictional unit, they could also just use an existing currency like the euro for the transitional period, then switch to a new national currency that has an initial exchange rate of 1:1 against the euro. (I'm picking the euro because it has a fairly neutral image, with over 20 countries using it already.)

17 points by brc 1 day ago 3 replies      
It's an interesting story but the frightening thing is the comments of people wondering out loud what's wrong with inflation, or asking for more inflation in the USA.

Out of control inflation is a terrifying, society-destroying phenomenon. Stable and prosperous societies rely on stable money values.

15 points by meric 1 day ago 2 replies      
Wow. Last night I was thinking... if I was a supermarket manager in an inflation-ridden country, how would I save money by not changing price tags everyday? And my answer was to set one of my products as "1 Unit" and just price every other product in multiples of that "Unit". That way I only had to change the price of a single product!

And then today I read this! What a coincidence! I never would've thought you could scale up this technique up to do it to the whole country!

10 points by varjag 1 day ago 1 reply      
Anyone here who experienced post-Soviet currency collapses would instantly remember prices in У.Е. ("convention unit", in reality a legal way to put U.S. dollar price tag), monthly re-indexed МРОТ ("salary unit"), and so on. Alone they did not help anything, until economy and fiscal policies fundamentally changed.
33 points by anodari 1 day ago 1 reply      
It's a 100% real story. I lived in these days. I had to put a feature called "currency change" in my softwares because every year we had to divide by 1000 all values in databases.
One major work was to adjust fields sizes because currency values are allways causing data overflow.
5 points by barmstrong 1 day ago 2 replies      
I don't understand something about this story.

Hyperinflation is primary caused by government printing money right? So if switching to another currency helped stop this...I get how it could help people changing their perceptions, but wouldn't the root cause be that the government stopped printing money with the new currency?

It seems like it would have been almost as effective if they had simply stopped printing more of the original currency until things stabilized?

Maybe I'm missing something. But the article seems to put too much weight on this clever idea of shifting to a new currency. While if monetary policy had stayed the same with the new currency I don't think it would have made any difference. The monetary policy here was the important part, not the new currency.

7 points by dzorz 1 day ago 0 replies      
80% per month sounds crazy, but it is not even close to top 6:
10 points by swah 1 day ago 3 replies      
An extra level of indirection?

Reminded me of the quote: "All problems in computer science can be solved by another level of indirection"

4 points by motters 1 day ago 0 replies      
All money is of course "fake" in that it only has value if people believe that it does. Economics could be thought of as a branch of psychology, with "real value" being connected to the transient and sometimes hard to quantify needs, wants and desires of people.
1 point by sethg 1 day ago 0 replies      
...and now that Brazilians are no longer so spooked by inflation that they spend money as soon as they receive it, three Brazilian banks are among the world’s top ten credit issuers. (http://www.npr.org/blogs/money/2010/10/04/130329294/life-on-...)

One liberal wonk wonders if this is a sign that the country is facing a consumer debt bubble. (http://yglesias.thinkprogress.org/2010/10/tomorrows-credit-b...)

4 points by tkeller 1 day ago 4 replies      
"Brazil's inflation rate hit 80 percent per month. At that rate, if eggs cost $1 one day, they'll cost $2 a month later."


3 points by chrismealy 1 day ago 0 replies      
The article never mentioned it, but it's a called a wage-price spiral.
1 point by patrickgzill 13 hours ago 0 replies      
It is coming to the USA. It is called the SDR.
1 point by winter_blue 1 day ago 0 replies      
There's no such thing are fake money, only false promises. Money is debt on the side of the government. Fake money therefore, is debt that the government defaults on.
1 point by devmonk 1 day ago 2 replies      
Hopefully the U.S. won't ever have to deal with this type of issue (out of control inflation). I'm very surprised that inflation hasn't hit the U.S. yet in a big way, but from what I hear that is because China and the U.S. are buying U.S. treasury bonds in a big way.
1 point by butu5 1 day ago 0 replies      
wonderful article.. I really love it :) it raises lots of question how this is possible, how many people get impacted.. Anybody did any significant financial loss?? or few people know about this able to take any benefit?? but this is definitely a bold decision and executed well towards result..
1 point by noahc 1 day ago 2 replies      
What are the implications of this for startups?

Has a startup ever benefited from using a fake currency? In what ways?

1 point by known 1 day ago 0 replies      
Will this trick work in America?
-1 point by csomar 1 day ago 1 reply      
It's a matter of governement control (assuming your are not connected to the outside world/Internet and don't have, therefore, a real-time currency update).

Let's assume gov. X, printed an additional $3bn. Will prices increase? No, they won't. The gov. can use this money, to do things, like building roads, schools... These expenses has to be considered as investments; if roads are built, industry will benefit and exports will increase lowering the inflation that the gov. had already made.

So the gov. can print as much papers as they want. It's paper in the end. But the ROI of the money they spent/printed, is going to decide if inflation will happen or not (in the future).

If inflation is spiking, it means the gov. lost control over the banking sector and a new currency needs to be made to return confidence to people and companies.

Why Wesabe Lost to Mint precipice.org
356 points by Concours 5 days ago   195 comments top 55
50 points by pg 4 days ago 1 reply      
The essential point seems to be that Mint was easier for users. This is something we constantly emphasize at YC. You care a lot about your startup. You have no idea how little a potential user cares. So you can't let the activation energy be high.

Plus users are mostly not programmers. They're terrified by software. Most software they've tried in their lives has caused them pain, either by not working right or by being incomprehensible (which are indistinguishable to the victim).

So imagine you're designing your app for someone who's both apathetic and cringing with fear at the same time. You cannot make it too easy. If there's something you can do that will take a week and make your app 1% easier to start using, it's worth doing.

47 points by lionhearted 5 days ago replies      
He doesn't give the name element enough credit. It's huge. Mint is one of the two examples I give of best brand names ever.

Not kidding. Ever. Silk Soymilk is the other example I use.

Mint's a killer brand name, I think it'd be literally impossible to beat Mint on natural branding in personal finance, it's the most perfect name I could imagine. It has double, good meanings - "Mint" as in a place where coins/money are minted, and of course the plant/candy. Then the plant/candy is associated with being fresh, clean, safe, and it's colored green, again like money.

It's just genius. It's also only four letters, easy to remember, relevant, and they got the domain name for it. It's really, really good. The only other name so good is "silk soymilk", for basically all the same reasons. (soymilk -SoymILK - easy to remember, silk is clean/smooth/elegant/upscale, four letters, hard to forget, etc).

Seriously, Mint might be the best named/naturally branded online company ever. I'm not joking. If I ever had to do a lecture on naming and branding, I'd 100% for sure use Mint as an example.

18 points by edw519 5 days ago 1 reply      
Mint focused on making the user do almost no work at all...Their approach completely kicked our approach's ass...Changing people's behavior is really hard

Hmmm, reminds me of an old saying, "When in doubt, leave it out." Now I'm going back to all my forms and mockups, wondering if there's anything else that can be removed. Short attention spans, human nature, and plain old laziness make "Keep It Simple Stupid" more relevant than ever.

A domain name doesn't win you a market; launching second or fifth or tenth doesn't lose you a market. You can't blame your competitors or your board or the lack of or excess of investment. Focus on what really matters: making users happy with your product as quickly as you can, and helping them as much as you can after that. If you do those better than anyone else out there you'll win.

Bulletin board material. Front and center. (I really should be spending more time writing code and less worrying about the market or reading Hacker News.)

[EDIT: We complain a lot here about "survivor bias". This is an excellent post and a great counterexample with much to be learned. Wesabe may have lost, but AFAIC, Marc is most definitely a winner.]

25 points by ryanwaggoner 5 days ago 0 replies      
This is a really good article and it does cover a few things that were probably factors, but I remember looking at both Wesabe and Mint back when they were both new and I chose Mint for two reasons:

1. The design was better, which made me feel more comfortable about handing over my data (Mint's designer Jason Purtorti talks about this here: http://vimeo.com/15066599)

2. Mint seemed more focused on being a really simple-to-use webapp to analyze my finances, whereas Wesabe's messaging indicated that they were trying to leverage the wisdom of crowds to help people make better financial decisions. I don't want the crowd analyzing or managing my finances, and it wasn't clear at a glance how their goal could be accomplished while protecting my privacy.

Also, as he mentions regarding the Yodlee thing, Wesabe had a "download this application and it'll retrieve your bank data" thing, but Mint just worked with thousands of financial institutions, and that seemed much easier and more reliable.

Regardless, this was a great blog post and I wish we could see more introspective posts like this when ventures don't work out the way the founders hoped.

28 points by Sukotto 5 days ago 1 reply      
I looked at both Wesabe and Mint when trying to decide on a aggregation service. I ended up choosing Mint.

- Mint was easy to remember, and easy to spell. Wesabe was neither. I often typoed the name as "wasabi"

- Mint didn't make me do any real work. Wesabe made me do all the work.

- Mint felt private. Wesabe wanted me to work with "the crowd" of other users

- Mint was simple and beautiful. Wesabe looked rough around the edges

So I went with Mint.

6 points by hyperbovine 4 days ago 1 reply      
To me, the larger story is about risk. A lot of people here, if directed to build a personal finance startup, would go about it in much the same way that Wesabe did. Launch early, attempt to build a community of enthusiasts, and grow the site organically (through word of mouth) as opposed to advertising. This is the time-honored way, and a lot of startups have succeeded by it.

What did Patser do? He went and dropped $2 million on the domain name before he even had a single user, and then inked a sweetheart deal with Yodlee to gain an overnight technical advantage on the competition. He spent money on advertising, artwork, and design. (Interestingly, the claim that Mint spent $1/user conflicts with something I read earlier: http://www.slate.com/id/2228846/. Not sure where the truth lay.)

He did everything that the 37 Signals / MVP crowd says you shouldn't. I'm not criticizing, but in their pursuit of instant profitability / dislike of VC money, they sometimes seem to lose sight of the value of gambling big. Patser took risks, and the market rewarded him for it.

34 points by vagostino 4 days ago 0 replies      
Hi, I was one of the early Mint.com product guys.

I just want to say thanks to Marc for sharing this. I know how difficult it is to be objective in a post-mortem analysis, and I think your post is a very balanced (and dignified) assessment.

There's one more important differentiator, however, that hasn't been discussed yet and which pre-empts a lot of this commentary, that I thought I'd share: Mint intentionally targeted a different market.

Most consumer spending in the US is managed by middle aged men and women that are not especially financially nor technically savvy. It was our view that previous personal finance solutions (Quicken, MS Money, and the following web-based solutions) catered more towards the technically/financially proficient, and had therefore missed the larger market opportunity.

So we tried our best to ignore the Silicon Valley drivel around "viral distribution" and "cloud security" and focus instead on issues like "How can we make it easier for a soccer Mom in Kansas to set and meet her monthly grocery budget?".

The Mint brand (including the name, visuals, and user experience) were all designed with this in Mind. They were definitely supportive, as Marc correctly points out, but in no way were they determinate.

I think Mint and Wesabe were both strong products that served their users' needs well. We just happened to target different users, and ultimately there were more of ours.

14 points by mikeryan 5 days ago 4 replies      
This "Myth":
Mint's design, while definitely very appealing and definitely a factor in getting people to trust the company, doesn't seem to me to be enough to explain the different outcomes,

Is contradicted by this:
Second, Mint focused on making the user do almost no work at all, by automatically editing and categorizing their data, reducing the number of fields in their signup form, and giving them immediate gratification as soon as they possibly could

UX design isn't just pretty pictures - which is why its now called "user experience" as opposed to "user interface" now.

I think a lot of people dismiss ux considerations because they think its just the part of the site thats "pretty" and its not.

9 points by michaelhalligan 4 days ago 0 replies      
I had a phone interview with Marc sometime in 2007, I think just after TC40. During the interview they made me aware of Mint.com, so I spent the afternoon playing with Mint & Wesabe.

By the end of the afternoon I had begun using Mint to track all of my finances and had only managed to get Wesabe to recognize 1/3 of my accounts. Wesabe had a fantastic team, but Mint was the clear winner, so I decided not to go forward.

2 points by kyro 4 days ago 0 replies      
So, recently, as I started pulling loans out for school and creating budgets, I went on the look for a money management service and tried out Wesabe among a few others. Mint ultimately won, and I'll tell you why, from my personal opinion as a user. Maybe it might help somebody somewhere.

A) Design

Perhaps the biggest selling point for me was how polished Mint was in comparison to Wesabe. It felt professional. I felt I could trust Mint with my personal financial data. Wesabe seemed unfinished, rough around the edges. Sure, it played more to my irrational mind, but I just felt more comfortable using Mint. Just hook in my various accounts, let me create a budget, and do the rest for me, which is what Mint did. I was guided through the profile filling process, and there was a strangely human quality about Mint -- as if it were my own personal accountant.

So the first thing I learned was that a good design and user experience can be very effective in developing trust within a potential user for your service. Second was that lots of time should go into capturing a user's attention upon first laying eyes on your app, placing guides along the way, etc, ensuring initial and continual engagement.

B) iPhone App

At the time, Wesabe didn't have a native iPhone app (I don't think they ever did come out with one). They had a webapp, but it wasn't good enough for me, especially when Mint had a native app. This played a bigger role than I thought it would. Having a native app just feels better. Just the feeling of launching the app is rewarding. I don't know about you, but I really try to avoid using webapps in mobile Safari as much as possible; they tend not to be as polished and snappy.

So, if your app and users create the need for a mobile interface, don't settle for webapp.

C) Focus (Personal/Community in this case)

Wesabe seemed to have a communal element, which I really didn't care for. Mint came across as a more walled-off made-only-for-me personal assistant, and I liked that feeling. I didn't want to share my tips on saving cash with others; I just wanted a service to manage my money, nothing else. In that respect, Mint felt more refined and catered to my needs -- it was more focused.

Give your app laser-focus.

6 points by btucker 4 days ago 2 replies      
I LOVED the wesabe downloadable data import client. The fact that I didn't have to fork over the login credentials to my financial accounts was a huge win & what kept me away from Mint until wesabe closed. But clearly this was not an issue for most people and hence why the simplicity of the yodlee backed solution ultimately won.

Wesabe did one very interesting thing when they launched which was that the CEO had open office hours when you could call and talk to him. They were one of the first "Web 2.0" companies to do this. I think they stopped this at some point, but I always loved the concept.

4 points by vaksel 5 days ago 3 replies      
seems like their mistake was ignoring yodlee and trying to make their own stuff...which lost them a lot of traction.

had they launched with yodlee, Mint would have been nothing more but a "better designed wesabe"

seems to me like they should have spent the cash to subscribe to yodlee, and then spent their effort building their own version like they ended up doing.

4 points by city41 5 days ago 1 reply      
Maybe I'm just ignorant but I never even heard of Wesabe until this HN post. I've been an unhappy Mint user for years though (I still argue Mint is nowhere near as good as Microsoft Money was).

So if I'm representative of "average people", then lack of marketing may have been a folly too.

2 points by aamar 4 days ago 0 replies      
Excellent, clear thinking; thank you for this analysis. I wanted to ask more about:

we both totally failed at... actually helping people.

Changing people's behavior is really hard.

Yes, but it seemed to me -- and this post confirms -- that Wesabe was genuinely thinking about this problem of how to get people to change behavior, to improve their lives. Mint seemed (and still seems) to have a much lower ambition in this respect.

Question #1: Was Wesabe actively engaging in experiments in how to help people/change behavior? I know the support community did help some people, but it sounds from your post that in its existing form it didn't do something palpably different from what people would do on their own. So it seems that Wesabe ought to have been building as many experiments as possible, hoping for something that seemed (at least anecdotally, at first) to help some subset of users above-and-beyond what they were able to do elsewhere.

I suspect Wesabe was running some experiments but too few. If that's true, what prevented those experiments from happening? Infrastructure work/scaling challenges/security concerns? Was the employee or user count too high to efficiently run experiments?

Question #2: If Wesabe was running a good number of experiments, why was Wesabe unable to secure investment for a longer runway of more experiments? After fixing the Yodlee problem (which I agree was a major problem), Wesabe seemed well positioned to lead in experiments to change behavior. The space still seems enormously ripe for innovation. So why did new funding not happen? Was Mint's success demotivating? Was the timing bad, given the economic downturn?

2 points by rwhitman 4 days ago 1 reply      
I thought that wesabe's integrating at the bank level might have been a smarter approach. For instance Bank of America has a mint-like finance aggregation tool built into their online banking. I already entrust them with my finances why not use their tool?

As far as I recall, Wesabe was providing a similar service to smaller banks, as their solution for this, right? Personally I would guess that market opportunity would be at the bank level, you sell $500k-$1m/yr licenses to integrate the tool directly with a banking website, you don't even need consumers, just a really friggin good sales team...

3 points by holychiz 4 days ago 0 replies      
Thank you Marc for your insightful article. It must stung like the beejesus to work so hard and still get your head handed to you. It seems like your decisions were guided by your high-mindedness, believe in the best in the people, for the people, for example: people should work and understand closely their financial data. Betcha learned people are f@!#$%ing sloth, eh? Perhaps this is a case of self-project yourself onto your target market, then finds out that people are not like you at all, because if they were, they'd get off their asses and start a company, change the world or something like that :)

I tried wesabe and mint. Mint was easier to use. However, now that you explained a little bit about your Yodlee decision, I can sympathize w/ your conclusion. It turns out to be strategically deadly wrong but given your high-mindedness, don't beat yourself up too much. You can always take comfort in the fact that you were not "Webvan" :).

To get websabe to where it was, you must have made a number of "right" decisions also so you should reviews those too. You'll be back, I'm sure, and we look forward to your next venture. good luck.

ps. do consider the whole user-experience next time.
pps. I ditched mint and went back to quicken for better control of my data and mint haven't got the cash account feature to fully work yet.

3 points by hariis 4 days ago 2 replies      
From the article:
When we talked to Yodlee in 2006, the company was crumbling, having failed to get acquired and losing executives. They were also very aggressive in negotiation, telling us they would give us six months' service nearly free and then tell us the final price we'd be charged going forward.

This is pretty disturbing to me. It seems what Marc and Wesabe did was the right thing to do to not trust Yodlee HOWEVER, it also appears that the user doesn't care a damn.

How do you handle such situations?

1 point by WesleyJohnson 4 days ago 3 replies      
I had never heard of Wesabe until reading this article, though I'm not sure how I missed it. My biggest complaint against Mint is specifically why most people flock to it: it's automated and there isn't much you need to do to get existing transactions and analyze them. Maybe it's changed since Intuit bought them, but I signed up for their service two different times and toyed with it for a few hours before canceling on both occasions. To me, true finance management is not only analyzing existing spending, but preparing for future spending.

I want to be able to setup a budget.

I want to be able to setup recurring transactions and future bill payments so when I look at my finances at any given moment, I can see what I have coming due today, tomorrow, in two weeks.

I don't want to rely on my bank to tell me how much cash I have available, because it doesn't know the $1 pending gas charge from yesterday is actually a $45 fill up that hasn't cleared, but I do.

I want to keep track of all aspects of my paycheck so I can estimate my taxes all year long and adjust my withholdings accordingly or save if I'm going to have to pay in.

I'm sure I could go on and on. I realize we're moving towards (or are already in) the era of webapps and people are moving away from desktop apps, but I've yet to find a decent online finance manager that does what MS Money can do. It's a shame they discontinued it, because in my opinion it kicks the crap out of Mint.

I'm not really sure how this relates to the article, I just think it's a shame that Wasabe lost out to Mint because Mint was dumbed down enough that users don't have to do much of anything. Properly manging your finances should most certainly require user interaction to do it properly and it sounds like Wasabe was trying to do just that. Maybe that's why so many people struggle with finances, because they don't take an active enough roll in managing them and I fear something like Mint just aids in that passiveness.

As the Marc says in the article, "Changing people's behavior is really hard. No one in this market succeeded at doing so -- there is no Google nor Amazon of personal finance." It's been a while since I've given it a look, but last I check Mint wasn't even close. If Wasabe was, it's truly a shame they were beat out by Mint catering to and lazy users and enabling them to stay lazy when IMHO, the problem they're allegedly trying to solve requires exactly the opposite.

1 point by mattmaroon 5 days ago 1 reply      
On the name thing I see a lot of misunderstanding about this. A name can be a little silly, sure. Google, Yahoo, Amazon, Mint. People use this to justify terrible domain names all the time.

There are a few things the above have in common that Wesabe doesn't:

1. They're real words. (Technically Google isn't, but it's a misspelling of a real word that probably more people than not would make.Very few people, if told about it, would type in googol.com). Look at the Alexa top 100 in the US, it's almost entirely real words.

2. They're easily pronounced. If I tell my friend about Yahoo.com, he's going to be able to type it in or easily Google for it. I assume Wesabe is similar to wasabi, but I'm still not even sure about that.

2 points by NZ_Matt 4 days ago 0 replies      
There is still plenty of innovation happening in this space for those outside of the US. I know of three New Zealand based startups http://www.pocketsmith.com , http://www.xero.com and http://www.heaps.co.nz
2 points by arthurdent 5 days ago 2 replies      
Its fun to look back and enumerate the reasons for success or failure, but dumb luck is just such a huge part of this game as well.

Marc had a vision, stuck to his guns, and the competitor "won". If Wesabe had won Techcrunch 40, we'd be reading an article about Mint's failure due to shoddy data accuracy and how Wesabe succeeded by "build[ing] tools that would eventually help people change their financial behavior for the better, which I believed required people to more closely work with and understand their data."

A startup can't implement every feature perfectly, and will ultimately have to make choices without knowing which was the "right" one.

2 points by petenixey 4 days ago 0 replies      
Marc I remember hearing you speak at a conference in '07 and being very impressed at how exaustively you interviewed potential users before building. 

Do you feel in retrospect that there was anything obvious you could have done and monitored post-launch that would have let you out-manoeuvre Mint?

5 points by mycroftiv 5 days ago 0 replies      
The key lesson seems to be that ease-of-use is of absolutely paramount importance. Maybe this can even be expressed in mathematical terms: you can't just look at the "raw value" provided by a service, you have to look at the ratio of value received to time and effort invested.
1 point by recampbell 4 days ago 0 replies      
"No one, in my view, solved the financial problems of consumers. No one even got close. "

Completely disagree. Mint's easy budgeting tools helped me cut expenses and start an aggressive savings plan. That, plus INGDirect's multiple sub-accounts.

2 points by Aegean 4 days ago 0 replies      
Very insightful read. But I don't understand why he didn't continue the startup. He even identifies a yet unsolved problem. I would have cut the costs and continue in my own direction and try gaining traction. There is probably room for this. I dont see how mint success has to mean a failure for wesabe.
2 points by bfung 4 days ago 0 replies      
Web 2.0 personal financing tools:

Mint - Aquired by Intuit

Buxfer - not actively maintained, founders working @ facebook

Wesabe - shut down

Anyone want to speculate on what went worked/didn't work and might work in the future in this space? As mentioned in the article, it seems like users don't really care about digging into their data, but seeing pretty graphs is good enough.

1 point by jdrock 4 days ago 0 replies      
My 2 cents:

1. Mint was viral to a degree. The service itself wasn't, but their blog was. They put a lot of effort into building a community around their blog - posting tips and guides on managing your finances, and so on.

2. I wonder if Wesabe ever tried shifting to be a more power-user service. If what he says is true, it sounds like they could made it into a service that caters to people that really do want to actively manage their finances.

2 points by HectorRamos 4 days ago 1 reply      
I was previously the system architect for a financial institution who attempted to use Wesabe's PFM integration in their website.

I had some exchanges with Marc and he was great and helpful. I was taking a big risk on signing up with Wesabe so I conviced my superiors to give me one month to set it up, and a second month to run an internal pilot and then decide if we would launch the PFM integration to all customers.

Unfortunately we ran into some issues, that were minor in my mind, but my employer being in the financial services industry they have a very low tolerance for risk when working with customer's financial data, so they called off the Wesabe integration within two weeks into the first month.

This was for the enterprise Wesabe product, mind you, and was around six months ago so I guess Wesabe was already in its last run anyway, but I guess not having a stable enough MVP for their enterprise customers might not have helped much.

I wish you great success in your next endeavor, precipice!

1 point by kevinpet 4 days ago 0 replies      
Reading the article, it sounds like Marc set out to change people's behavior. I don't think Mint did that. There's a lot more money in giving people what they want rather than what you think they need.
2 points by rokhayakebe 5 days ago 0 replies      
Wesabe built our own data acquisition system, first using downloadable client programs (partially because that was easier and partially to preserve users' privacy) and later using a Yodlee-like web interface

That is the real product, the real company, launch it.

2 points by thevinsatta 4 days ago 0 replies      
The one thing to resonate with me the most is "No one, in my view, solved the financial problems of consumers."

Marc is right. Financial literacy is a huge problem for a country that's supposed to be the richest in the world. How do we teach people the importance of personal finance management or change their spending habits? We teach all sorts of things in school except this.

Personally, I have been on a campaign for the last 9 months to teach people about the importance of planning, budgeting and saving. It's been difficult convincing people that they should think about their future. Even when I'm sitting down at the kitchen table face to face, it is difficult to establish the reasoning why they should care in the first place.

There are 4 types of people I encounter with the most:

1. I don't know how to take care of my finances and I don't care about my future.

2. I do know that it is important, but everything is going to be okay even I remain ignorant.

3. I don't know, but I would like to learn more, but don't know how.

4. I know some, I think I have a good idea, but still want to learn more, but don't have somebody to turn to.

The common problem between all of them:

1. Most people don't know WHY they should care about their personal finance.

2. Most people don't know where to get trust worthy information to help them or have access to professionals.

I have been trying to solve these problems with one family at a time. If you can do the same with power of reach through the internet, it would be golden.

1 point by nl 3 days ago 0 replies      
For those who haven't seen, it appears this blog post was prompted by this Quora discussion: http://www.quora.com/Why-did-Wesabe-shut-down-while-Mint-did...
1 point by bluethunder 4 days ago 0 replies      
This is an amazing post.

Thanks for laying out your version of the story which I feel is definitely more accurate.
Why did you not decide to not pursue Wesabe for the long term ?

As I understand, Mind did well in some places like immidiate gratification but was bad in accurately aggregating financial statistics. You could have reworked your UI to provide the immidiate gratification and over time also made a more robust aggregator.

Also, the fact as you state is that Mint/Wesabe both did not really make a dent in the market. Additionally, the fact that Mint has got acquired, most likely they never will. It is extremely unlikely that Mint after being acquired will be able to keep pace with Wesabe. More so the fact that you guys had substantial revenue , you could have cut the fat and dumbed down for a long haul easily.

1 point by rwhitman 4 days ago 0 replies      
Isn't the attitude of "If Company A Wins, Company B Loses" kind of a dangerous mindset to have when you're running a startup?
1 point by rodh257 5 days ago 0 replies      
I only used Wesabe because I'm from Australia and Mint doesn't support my bank, the Firefox uploader was great (a bit more control over access to your bank account, sort of) but the actual website wasn't useful enough for me to keep using it. Would love to see what Mint is like.
3 points by neolefty 5 days ago 0 replies      
I'm impressed with Marc's lack of rancor towards Mint -- very classy. It lends credibility to the whole article.
1 point by mg1313 4 days ago 0 replies      
"A domain name doesn't win you a market" - he clearly didn't understand the domain name field.
That's why he got that crappy Wesabe name. Mint gave hares to the owner of Mint.com so he let Mint use it.

A domain doesn't win you a market but CAN help you quite much! Otherwise, you put more money in the marketing...

1 point by rblion 4 days ago 0 replies      
"Changing people's behavior is really hard. No one in this market succeeded at doing so -- there is no Google nor Amazon of personal finance. Can you succeed where we failed? Please do -- the problems are absolutely huge and the help consumers have is absolutely abysmal. Learn from the above and go help people (after making them immediately happy, first)."
1 point by jdp23 4 days ago 0 replies      
Great analysis, very valuable -- thanks to Marc for taking the time to do it. The points about the Yodlee tradeoff and focusing on the use case that required a lot of work from people are very insightful.

I agree with the others here that Mint's name and design played a huge role in its success. Years ago somebody mentioned Wesabe to me and from the way the name sounded I couldn't find it on a quick web search, I gave up. When I eventually saw the site my reaction was "looks complicated". By contrast Mint was easy to find and looked very easy to use.

1 point by chris123 3 days ago 0 replies      
Acquiring customers for $1 a pop is cheap. If customer lifetime value is < $1 then something is terribly wrong.
1 point by gsiener 4 days ago 0 replies      

Thanks for putting your thoughts out there like this. We are currently tackling the small business finance space (Profitably.com) and it's interesting to see your comparison to Mint.

What are you up to now?

2 points by jack910 4 days ago 1 reply      
"Mint aggressively acquired users by paying for search engine marketing (reportedly spending over $1 for each user), while Wesabe spent almost nothing on marketing".

Startups need to realize that customer acquisition is an important part of the equation too. Sure technology,UX, and a memorable name is important too but too many people are still thinking if they build a good product, start a blog, twitter everyday is all that is needed to succeed.

1 point by userk 4 days ago 0 replies      
Found this blog post to very revealing, although not entirely the way others do.
Expressing openly and owning these two decisions (to focus on build vs. buy & simplicity vs. user customization) is admirable, but the slippery rhetoric undermines these mightily.
There are many shrewdly baked-in messages and denials that are far afield from above:
- No has solved the problem that we set out to solve in personal finance. In other words, yeah, I know I said Mint won, but we didn’t really lose to Mint – no one has won!
- Circumstances conspired to make me CEO. Er, perhaps another decision was to not have the humility to bring in a more qualified CEO. Since we’re all being so honest.
- Our product was just as good as there’s other than these 2 facts. In other words, I created and know how to execute at the level that Mint did. Of course you do – you’re in the job market!
I’ve heard this 'falling on the sword' rhetoric from CEOs of a failed company as a public way of engendering praise. It’s politically disingenuous because -of course you’re responsible- – everyone knows that claiming otherwise is horrible PR for yourself. The purpose of the post to bake in all the rationalization of how the decisions were right given in the information, you’re of high character, and get that personal brand out there in a controlled way. And that’s the way to ‘keep the focus on making the user happy’
1 point by hcurtiss 4 days ago 0 replies      
While Mint is a great name, I totally agree that the difference was execution. Several years ago I tried Wesabe, Mint, Quicken, MS Money (which, IIRC, used yodlee), as well as Yodlee's site itself. I went with Mint because it just worked. It had access to all of the Yodlee banks, with a far more intuitive interface than yodlee. Frankly, at the time, there were no alternatives. I've not bothered to look since.
1 point by db911 3 days ago 0 replies      
Winning the DEMO contest put Mint on the radar for me.
First time I heard of such a business. Knew of Quicken but the idea of taking it to web was 'a ha!'. Never heard of wesabe - and I consider myself web savy - flickr, delicious etc.

I loved the idea but did not trust putting such info online.
Then I saw yodlee relationship. I knew banks trusted Yodlee so I gave them (mint) extra trust because of that.
I read through their TOC and it gave me more confidence.

On a related thread...I wanted to do online bill pay some time earlier and knew that there was some independent company-yodlee (not wanting to tie myself to my bank) that did it but darned if I could remember the name). So yodlee lost business because of that odd name (in my - survey of 1- case). Love the post and cmts. Good luck with your next venture. Bring same passion - and invest in good URL<g>

1 point by vincell1 4 days ago 0 replies      
I humbly disagree with you guys. I personally don’t think the name played that much of a role. In my opinion Mint won because of 3 reasons.. 1) They won techcrunch disrupt and had people buzzing 2) They gave customer what they wanted. They had the right "easy" approach to the problem. 3) They got higher value users by doing SEM.
1 point by robbieco 4 days ago 0 replies      
First interesting read. However, overly simplified. Name, product and UX are all good reasons but they can all be fixed. Companies succeed or fail for two reasons - CEO and cash flow. The importance of a CEO is usually understated but the CEO is critical. Being a visionary, cracking the whip when necessary and instilling values (excellence is the first) cant be replaced. He is driving the company forward. He can be a coder but he should not write single line of code. His role is to manage not to develop. As per Cash flow. Given enough cash flow, anything can be fixed. Company can relaunched, product improved and marketing invested. As per Wesabe vs. Mint. In this day and age people who give control of their accounts to ANY third party are plain crazy. However, the buzz instilled confidence in people and they think Mint is safe. Wesabe could have had a place in the market with people who don’t trust Mint's approach. The issue was, it was not "sexy" and the people who might have been interested didn’t hear about it. Good Marketing could have addressed that (positioning, PR etc). Which goes back to the CEO being a CEO and not focus on coding.
1 point by otwixto 4 days ago 0 replies      
I found the most interesting part to be when the author admitted to overlooking the idea that users might want instant gratification from a useable site. seems like in this day and age that would be the #1 priority of any company/website/startup.
1 point by rbpasker 1 day ago 0 replies      
my response to Marc's post based on being an investor in Mint and a colleague of Marc's


1 point by neolefty 4 days ago 0 replies      
To summarize:

- Give instant gratification; require as little work as possible from your users

- Be visible; Mint advertised heavily; neither site was viral

Other smaller factors too, but those seem to be the biggies, based on Marc's article and comments here.

1 point by RudeBaldGuy 3 days ago 0 replies      
It is clear that Wesabe lost. What is not clear to me is that Mint won. Yes, Patzer got $170M out of Intuit for the investors, got his share, and a nice new job at Intuit. But now what? Mint's revenues were not that great, and as for profits....who knows. Now it is being absorbed into the Intuit Borg. Intuit is still trying to figure out what the heck it did when it bought Digital Insight. Will Intuit ever see an ROI on its $170M? Oh I forgot, this is Silicon Valley. ROI doesn't matter. But Mint is a neat name. That and $5 will get you a coffee at Starbucks.
1 point by robertgaal 4 days ago 0 replies      
I really loved reading this post. Thanks Marc, for sharing! I'm sure that brought back some painful memories. Totally worth it to us ;)
0 points by bretthellman 5 days ago 1 reply      
The name Wesabe had a huge part to do with losing. Patzer is right, with a name like Wesabe you have ZERO chances of capitalizing on word of mouth. Before you buy a domain for your business, find 10 random people and ask them to type out the domain. If they fail or have to stop to even think about how to type out the domain, it's a failure.
1 point by neolefty 4 days ago 0 replies      
Question: Is there a way a financial management site can be viral? Marc claims that neither Mint nor Wesabe was.
-3 points by Thangorodrim 5 days ago 0 replies      
The name is an albatross.
Thanks For Paying Taxes. Here's A Receipt. npr.org
324 points by tomeast 5 days ago   180 comments top 30
48 points by DanielBMarkham 5 days ago replies      
The late senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan supported sending people statements of what was in their social security. His idea was that if people never saw what was in there, they'd never miss it when it was gone.

I think this is a logical extension of that idea, and its great. I'd also like to see the flip side of the receipt contain a guess for how the same tax amount would break down the following year based on current budget trends. That way you could see how the coming year is different from the current year. Complaining about NASA funding is one thing -- seeing that they only get 20 bucks while Social Security gets over a thousand? Puts the situation in much sharper contrast.

It's strange that the government works in such an arcane fashion. A simple thing like a receipt for your taxes is probably very hard or impossible to accomplish. It took many years for Moynihan to get his SS statements. I have doubts that this would ever fly.

But it is certainly a simple and profound idea.

18 points by jasonkester 5 days ago 1 reply      
Screw receipts. What I want is a bill.

The IRS seems plenty good at figuring out how much I should have paid in taxes and hounding me about it. Why not do those calculations in February and send me a bill:

"We calculated that you owe $14,278 in taxes this year. Please submit payment along with the stub below. Alternately, you may choose to submit a tax return for our review."

Government gets their money. I save a bit of hassle in April. Sorted.

I mean sure, they'd end up overcharging you by a few percent, but really that amounts to <$1,000. My time is worth a lot more to me than that. Send me a bill telling me what I owe and I'll pay it.

18 points by hugh3 5 days ago 4 replies      
Not a bad idea. But why does it say "selected items"?

I haven't added the numbers up myself, but one of the comments says that the listed things add up to only sixty-something percent of the total. Where's the other money gone? One might almost think they're trying to make a political point with their careful selection of items (eg. "Combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan" somehow got to fifth place on the list while "bailouts" and "stimulus" are entirely missing despite this being 2009).

Anyway, I certainly wouldn't trust the government to give me a receipt which said "selected items" -- deceptive information is worse than no information.

Also, since the US federal expenditure is currently about 25% larger than tax receipts, how is this taken into account?

8 points by aresant 5 days ago 3 replies      
Nice viral night's project would be building a simple yourtaxreceipt.com website, reverse engineering those numbers and making a calculator.
5 points by ck2 5 days ago 0 replies      
There's something bogus about those war numbers, it's far too low.

The US has a $700 Billion ANNUAL military budget (more than every other country combined).

Something is being hidden in other numbers because of all the cost to support military and their families (taxpayer paid "free" housing?) and thousands of military are coming back with traumatic injuries that previously would have been a one-time funeral cost but now are surviving with extremely expensive, continuous medical support and therapy costs (and disability pay for them/family).

Where is the "homeland security" portion in that receipt? Are we to believe the billions in security theater at airports is free and not funded by taxes? What about the billions doled out to local governments under the guise of "homeland security" so law enforcement can buy new toys to abuse?

Where are the secret military projects budget in that receipt (like their own space shuttle, military satellites and other stuff we aren't supposed to know about so their budgets are hidden?)

3 points by ihodes 5 days ago 1 reply      
Original paper (not blogspam, if you feel okay calling some of NPR that): http://content.thirdway.org/publications/335/Third_Way_Idea_...

This is a brilliant idea, and in the spirit of a democratic republic, I'd say. I'm paying taxes; it'd be nice to know what exactly I'm paying for.

I'm also for listing all the expenses; down to the ones that end up costing you a millicent.

Perhaps yet more feasible would be setting up a real tax website, with real information, and accessible tax records for all. On this website you could also find your receipt. If only…

2 points by mkn 4 days ago 0 replies      
There's a lot of naive love here for a deeply flawed idea.

First, what is suggested in this article is not a receipt, but a breakdown. A sales receipt for a car, for example, doesn't start out, "5 tires (4 on vehicle, 1 spare), 2 axles..." It just doesn't work that way. You buy "government" with your taxes.

Even if you did get an itemized receipt for a car, that would be far easier than what's proposed here. You can always just point to the car and account for the parts. The part is either there or not, and meets specifications or not. The reason that government and spending are these intractable issues is that the parts can be arguably there or not, and arguably working or not.

As long as you can't opt out of all or a portion of your taxes, in other words, as long as tax policy is sane, the only "receipt" you should get should specify that you paid the amount you calculated. Any other discussion or education about costs and allotment should happen in a forum that at least has a chance of shedding some real light.

Finally, if the receipt ever became the focus of public attention, politicians will just monkey with the categories until you're happy again. It will cease to be an information tool and become an influence tool. It will merely add another layer of intractability to an already byzantine bureaucratic system.

4 points by zach 5 days ago 0 replies      
From the report:

"At best, motivated taxpayers can locate a pie chart on a government website that gives percentage allocations about how large categories of spending are distributed.

But these are difficult to find and difficult to understand."

This is disingenuous puffery. It's in every copy of the 1040 instructions and is simple to understand.

They're actually suggesting a far more complex and entirely non-visual spending report. That's useful, but the existing report is neither hard to find nor understand.

5 points by wuputah 5 days ago 0 replies      
I do like the idea, but a cursory look at their 'receipt' and where the numbers come from showed a pretty large flaw: half of social security and medicare is paid for by employers. Unless you consider your salary to be an extra 8.65% than it really is, you're not accounting for all the taxes the government receives based on your paycheck. Although this is really a "hidden tax" on your paycheck, most people don't think of it as part of their salary (which is why they do it this way).

There's also other types of taxes paid by non-individuals, like corporate taxes, estate taxes, and the like.

In any case, it means the numbers in their receipt for SS and Medicare are off by a factor of 2, so you should evaluate this only based on the idea, not on their actual numbers. (Not to mention there are likely an abundance of other problems with this method, like spending that is not part of the budget, or when the government is over-budget and issues bonds to pay for it.)

2 points by kqr2 5 days ago 1 reply      
Here's another nice visualization of US government spending:


3 points by japherwocky 5 days ago 4 replies      
Take it one step further and let people specify what their money goes to. Automate the politicians!
2 points by julian37 5 days ago 2 replies      
I wonder if these numbers are made up or have any basis in reality.

One item that caught my eye was spending on the DEA of only $3.14: Wikipedia puts yearly spending on law enforcement related to the War On Drugs at about $44 billion [1] and gross federal tax revenue for 2009 at about $2.1 trillion [2]. This works out to roughly 2% of tax revenue spent on the War On Drugs. For the $5,400 of federal income tax in the linked example that would work out to more like $100 rather than $3, no?

Of course, the Wikipedia article doesn't state how much of the $44 billion goes to the DEA and how much goes to other law enforcement agencies.

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/War_on_Drugs#Costs_to_taxpayers

[2] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_federal_budget#Ma...

5 points by stuaxo 5 days ago 0 replies      
Things should be grouped e.g. all military stuff with a subtotal in there.
1 point by arethuza 5 days ago 0 replies      
I would dearly love the UK government to send me a statement every year explaining what it has done with my taxes and detailing my share of the liabilities it has been running up on my behalf.

In fact, I want it online and I want to be able to drill down as far as I want into the data.

Of course, my desire for such a thing is balanced by the fact that such a project if carried out in the same way as most public sector IT projects would probably cost a hundred billion and not actually work.

1 point by uptown 5 days ago 0 replies      
My unrealistic idea for changing how taxes work is allowing me to designate which programs my cash goes towards. Make it kinda like the old Wheel of Fortune ... where you've got $x to spend on stuff that's priced 5 times what it's supposed to cost. If I want to buy 0.003% of that winter's salt supply for the road, or 0.00001% of a Predator drone ... at least I'd know where my taxes supposedly went.
2 points by JeffJenkins 5 days ago 1 reply      
I've always liked the idea of a receipt to be given to Canadians at the end of every year telling them what healthcare benefits they got and how much they cost.

It seemed like it would make people grateful that they had that service, but it also might make the people who pay disproportionately more than they use angry (and the nature of insurance is that most people put in more than they get)

1 point by jsz0 5 days ago 1 reply      
I always thought it would be a good idea to let people decide how part of their tax dollars were going to be spent. Set aside maybe 20-30% and let them choose which programs to give extra funding to. I imagine most of it would end up in education and social programs.
2 points by hansef 5 days ago 0 replies      
Totally offtopic, but m company did the site for Third Way earlier this year and I love the S3 CNAME'ing I added at the last minute before launch: http://content.thirdway.org/publications/335/Third_Way_Idea_...

Always fun to see a project you were involved surface on NPR. ;)

1 point by mmaunder 5 days ago 0 replies      
If an administration ran with this as their only platform, they would probably get my vote. It's brilliant.
1 point by grandalf 5 days ago 0 replies      
I've been suggesting this idea for a few years.

A few issues: It should also indicate how much money was actually spent on said item (in the event of deficit spending).

1 point by JohnAllen 5 days ago 0 replies      
The denominator should be tax receipts, not federal spending. Foreign countries and our Federal Reserve actually made large contributions this past year (both do every year we have a budget deficit and every year the money supply increase- this is most every year for the past few decades). This is not to suggest that Americans won't eventually pay for all of this year's expenditures, we eventually will. In the case of the Fed, consider their new money printing and subsequent spending to be a tax of everyone that holds dollars at the time of the printing/spending.
1 point by olegkikin 5 days ago 0 replies      
Taxpayers should be able to choose where their taxes go. Like when you file your tax return, check some boxes. If you like paying for renewable energy, great. If you like funding the war, your choice.
1 point by joezydeco 5 days ago 1 reply      
Funny, my local county government lists where all the taxes go. It's amusing (or enraging, I guess) to see we still pay for a Tuberculosis sanitarium.
1 point by monos 5 days ago 0 replies      
in austria everyone pays ~7% into the public health fund. by law the insurrance is bound to send you a letter listing the benefits you recieved (per quarter i think).

sometimes mind boggeling number - e.g., several thousand euro for a short hospital stay - sometimes zero.

1 point by untamedmedley 5 days ago 0 replies      
The way some of the line items are written/described is very misleading.

Setting aside money for "Low Income K-12 students" or Foreign Aid or Amtrak (with prices as high as flying and quadruple the travel time) does not necessarily mean that investment is getting results.

I'd only trust a receipt like this if it were annotated with hard numbers on how my dollars turn into meaningful progress.

3 points by d_c 5 days ago 0 replies      
No secret services?
2 points by aguynamedben 5 days ago 0 replies      
Interest on the National Debt: $287.03
Principle on the National Debt: ???
1 point by xsive 5 days ago 0 replies      
I don't see the point. If you want a "receipt", read a Budget overview article.
1 point by eof 4 days ago 0 replies      
Missing like 2.2k
-2 points by sportsTAKES 5 days ago 1 reply      
Love this idea -

Would also like to see:

Return policy - don't like how much the government spent on Amtrak, get a refund (no questions asked).

Customer loyalty program - earn points towards postage stamps or a national park pass.

Discounts from partner programs - i.e., paying, loyal customers of the US government get discounts with China, GM, Goldman Sachs and other US 'partners'.

Internet Explorer falls below 50% market share statcounter.com
308 points by CyrilMazur 1 day ago   65 comments top 24
28 points by pilif 1 day ago 2 replies      
Unfortunately, I have to deal with a much different picture in my case. The web application is often used by either complete computer illiterates or users in large corporate installations (or both).

My IE numbers (looking at the three biggest installations):

IE percentage: 80, 90, 98 - IE6 percentage: 30, 50, 40

No Chrome. No Safari. Rest is Firefox (2.0, 3.0, 3.5 and 3.6).

I weep when I consider the amount of development time we waste catering for these IE users refusing to (or unable to) update.

8 points by swombat 1 day ago 3 replies      
Woobius traffic specs (quite representative of the enterprise space, so more realistic if you're doing an SaaS that also targets enterprise users/customers), are not too far off, but not 50% yet.

IE: 56%
Chrome: 20%
Firefox: 16%
Safari: 5%

IE versions are broken up as:
IE6: 10% (= 5.6% absolute)
IE7: 25% (= 14% absolute)
IE8: 65% (= 36% absolute)

In other words, dropping IE6 support is not yet plausible. But we've already opted to provide only functional support for IE6 - i.e., things need to work in IE6, and not look totally broken, but they don't have to look great.

5 points by r7000 1 day ago 1 reply      
I noticed IE drop below 50% last spring on http://flashcarddb.com

It dropped from 50.17% in March to 49.05% in April, continuing to steadily decrease since then.

My traffic is about 70% North American. I have many students. Macintosh is a 20% slice of my OS pie and Safari isn't too far behind Firefox in browser share.

September => IE: 48%, Firefox: 24%, Safari: 16%, Chrome: 10%

5 points by dolinsky 21 hours ago 0 replies      
For http://www.zootoo.com, which is representative of a non-computer savvy audience, our IE traffic is now below 50%.

IE : 45% (IE8 - 65% IE7 - 23% IE6 - 12%)

Firefox : 35% (3.6.x - 85% 3.5.x - 10.5% 3.0.x - 5%)

Chrome: 9%

Safari: 7.5%

Opera: 1.6%

We were also able to reduce the IE 6 traffic on our site by 50% by implementing a friendly 'please switch to a newer browser' campaign.

5 points by kemayo 11 hours ago 0 replies      
At deviantART we're dropping IE6 support shortly... it wound up representing a tiny percentage of our traffic, and we like the idea of being able to use the crazy innovations of IE7.

It's slightly painful, because we've been forcing IE into quirks mode for ages (with a comment before the doctype) so that all IEs behave like IE6, and thus we only had to test one IE.

4 points by davidedicillo 23 hours ago 3 replies      
The biggest problem with IE6 that I see with my company, is that a lot of corporate clients still have IE6 on their machines because of their lazy IT departments. So they don't care if only 0.0000000000001% of the traffic is from IE6 because it happens to be them.
3 points by tyng 21 hours ago 0 replies      
Another obvious but often overlooked factor that contributed to the decline of IE is the increased number people converting to Mac (anybody have a figure for this?). Because MS discontinued supporting IE on Mac years ago, there's not way to recover users lost to Safari and other browsers on the Mac front.
5 points by imagii 19 hours ago 2 replies      
Does anyone know what the browser market share of HN is?
1 point by lovskogen 6 hours ago 0 replies      
We develop our products for the latest version of popular browsers: IE, Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Opera. If a customer has a problem and is using a older browser, we simply ask them to upgrade.

In order to stay modern and write good code with as few hacks as possible, you have to let older browsers go.

2 points by scrrr 1 day ago 1 reply      
W3Schools sees IE below 50% since September 2008. However, it's not representative.

But as they say on their page: "Anyway, our data [...] clearly shows the long and medium-term trends."

2 points by code_duck 20 hours ago 0 replies      
The site I work for has been running at under 40% IE for over a year and a half. We're at about 15% Safari, 40% Firefox, 38% IE, and 7% Chrome. IE6 is under 4%, thanks goodness!
3 points by wmoxam 23 hours ago 0 replies      
I just checked Learnhub's numbers (http://learnhub.com) and IE is now at 40%, it was 54% a year ago. Most of the traffic comes from India.

Chrome went from 7.5% to 20% in the same time frame.

2 points by spenrose 17 hours ago 0 replies      
Anyone have good stats for the browser-vs-non-browser (i.e. dedicated FB/twitter client, Instapaper, etc.) use of HTTP to consume HTML. I bet you'd find that c. 2002 IE had 90% of the browser and browsers had 99.9% of HTTP+HTML, but that now browsers have more like 90% of HTTP+HTML. Then there's the desktop browser vs mobile browser issue, and RSS ...
2 points by lwhi 22 hours ago 0 replies      
I always find announcements like this ridiculous. It's like saying 50% of people wear blue jumpers - because it's so dependent on the sample group.
3 points by fertel 1 day ago 1 reply      
In my small subset of the enterprise market, amongst my clients (large financial services firms) IE usage is 100%. Unfortunately I don't see this changing any time soon.
2 points by fierarul 1 day ago 0 replies      
It was unexpected to see that StatCounter is headquartered in Ireland.
1 point by dpnewman 23 hours ago 1 reply      
I'd like to see a well researched, estimated total national/international cost to the industry for support of IE.
1 point by sosuke 1 day ago 0 replies      
IE in North America it is still at 52.3%, so close.
1 point by ck2 1 day ago 1 reply      
I bet a good percentage of that 50% are bots using the IE user-agent.
1 point by kgosser 23 hours ago 1 reply      
This means nothing to those who develop for the Enterprise world :-(. We still have clients who are on Windows 2000+IE6.

In a way, I can't wait to go back to consumer development.

1 point by Nick_S 17 hours ago 0 replies      
a blog I run had 125,266 visits from 10/4 - 11/4. The browser usage percentages are as follows: firefox: 41%, chrome: 22%, internet explorer: 19%. Most of our traffic is referred from tech inclined sources. Personally, I have heard a ton of complaints about the amount of memory firefox uses while running compared to chrome...
1 point by maguay 22 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm seeing around 30% IE (all versions) usage on tech centric blogs I run. Chrome's inching up on 20%.
-2 points by motters 1 day ago 0 replies      
Surely this must be a sign from the gods of Silicon Heaven.
-2 points by tomjen3 22 hours ago 0 replies      
Am I the only one who would love to see Partio11s numbers? They are properly biased in the other direction, but still.
Shocked by online comments, reporter writes profile of hit-and-run victim tampabay.com
266 points by gruseom 4 days ago   111 comments top 8
46 points by jrockway 4 days ago replies      
Police said that Mr. Smith was following bicycle safety recommendations such as wearing light-colored clothing, using reflectors and riding in the bicycle lane.

This is a common misconception. Reflectors are worthless. Riding in the bike lane exposes you to great danger -- car doors flying open to the right, aggressive motorists passing too closely on the left. If you take the lane, you're out of the "door zone", and motorists have no choice but to slow down and pass you like they would pass any other vehicle on the road. You may feel like you are being an annoyance, but annoying people is what makes them pay attention and not kill you.

As for reflectors; they only work when there is a clear path from an illumination source to the reflector and back to your eye. Sometimes that happens, but more often than not, it doesn't. You don't need a $300 super-bright rechargeable light system -- get a $5 blinky and throw an extra AA battery in your seat bag. It may save your life.

Also, read Effective Cycling: http://www.amazon.com/Effective-Cycling-6th-John-Forester/dp...

Please don't get yourself killed because you don't want to inconvenience a motorist or buy an LED light. Oh, and get a helmet; the $30 ones are just as safe as the $200, if not as comfortable.

I hate to be preachy, but it makes me sad when people die because they are using a safe and efficient form of transportation. (And believe me, I am not blaming the cyclist for his own death here -- the motorist who murdered him is to blame, with a close second to poor city planning and the total lack of bicycle education in the US.)

49 points by sliverstorm 4 days ago 8 replies      
The comment on the article reveals completely the lack of intelligence and elitism of the commenter.

It may be wonderful to think that the people who man lower-end jobs are somehow less deserving than you, and somehow should be executed. But without those people filling those low-end jobs, our world would fall apart. No matter what you think of them, you need them, whether you realize it or not.

And on the other hand, if the commenter was thinking "he will most certainly be happier dead than working at that job", that illustrates that he has never been in a position lower on the economic scale. While low-quality jobs are no walk in the park, it is possible to enjoy one's self and take pleasure in life without being at the top of the totem pole.

Either way, it is obvious the commenter is a fool.

57 points by TGJ 4 days ago 5 replies      
How aggravating. "I'll go through 10 people before I find another like him" yet he will continue to pay the man 7.25 an hour. Everything you want out of an employee and nothing else and you can't pay the guy better than dirt cheap minimum wage and somehow lament at his death.
58 points by brudgers 4 days ago 1 reply      
The article illustrates how local editorial control and not-for-profit ownership can allow a newspaper to act as the conscience of a community.

Tampabay.com is the online portal for the The St. Petersburg Times. The Times is one of the few remaining independent newspapers left in the US, It is owned by the Poynter Institute. http://www.poynter.org/

4 points by mixmax 4 days ago 1 reply      
Not trying to be snarky, but why is this upvoted?

It's an article about an unfortunate guy that got killed on his bike and died. How is this interesting? What am I missing? Since the article has 100+ points there's obviously something I've sompletely missed. What is it?

1 point by 100k 3 days ago 0 replies      
As a cyclist I am familiar with the unbelievable outpouring of bile in newspaper commets whenever a cyclist is killed.

Thank you to the St. Petersburg Times for publishing this article.

1 point by danielnicollet 3 days ago 0 replies      
Neil Alan Smith and all the other dependable and beneficial members of society who try do good without making waves or deriving fame, power, or wealth from it owe a great deal to that rare kind of journalism! I hope that my own contributions in life can be seen as such positive as Niel's were.
It's not that simple to do good and be appreciated in life even for seemingly very minute jobs like that of a dishwasher. Reminds me of the ferryman in Herman Hesse's Siddhartha. Wise, humble, happy.
2 points by points 4 days ago 2 replies      
Um Why is this hacker news?
Man jailed over computer password refusal bbc.co.uk
253 points by alexandros 21 hours ago   222 comments top 29
43 points by boredguy8 20 hours ago replies      
Encryption and password privacy is an entirely unsettled area of US law. The courts can probably compel you to enter your password (to decrypt a drive, or what have you), while you can maintain that the content of your password can be protected under the 5th. So, for instance, say you had encrypted files of plans to build a bomb and detailed schematics of the White House. The judge can order you to decrypt the files without forcing you to reveal that the password was "K1llt3hPr3zn0w!"

As a practical matter, I've wondered what would happen if someone simply claimed they couldn't remember the password. Especially if one could make it look like the encrypted files hadn't been accessed in over a year.

TrueCrypt's Plausible Deniability (http://www.truecrypt.org/docs/?s=plausible-deniability) makes these issues even more complicated.

But yeah: by simply refusing, you'd be thrown in jail for contempt and your only way out would be appellate review of the order. You'd have to challenge the contempt citation on the basis that the original order was unlawful.

20 points by ryanwaggoner 20 hours ago replies      
Just thought of a feature idea for TrueCrypt and other similar packages: encrypted files or partitions can have multiple passwords, which reveal different things. So you could have a password that reveals something embarrassing but not incriminating. If the police or border nazis threaten you with prosecution unless you reveal your password, you give them this one. Meanwhile, you hide anything really confidential behind a password that you never give out.

Or maybe they already have this?

1 point by confuzatron 1 hour ago 0 replies      
If the Police have a warrant to search a safe, presumably you can be required to hand over the combination or be in contempt of court. Even if the combination for the safe 'lives in your brain'.

ISTM a virtual 'locked container of documents' would have the same legal status.

I'm not sure why so many techies go down the Walter-Mittyesque 'Enemy of the State' route when discussing this sort of thing. Mention the police in conjunction with encryption and suddenly everyone's a paranoid compound-dweller...

Let's be clear here - it is unlikely that this guy is making a stand for paranoid techies - it is much more likely that he's got pics and videos on his HDD of kids getting raped that he doesn't want the police to see.

9 points by mattm 17 hours ago 2 replies      
A friend of mine flew back home to Canada. After clearing customs, he was one of the random people chosen to have their luggage inspected. He had his laptop on him and the customs agent booted up the computer, asked him to enter his password and then took his laptop away before bringing it back without telling him anything about it.

I wondered what would have happened if he refused to type in the password.

5 points by NathanKP 20 hours ago 7 replies      
It seems like a bad idea to store anything incriminating on your local hard drive. Why not keep your encrypted files on a flash drive? If the police show up destroy the flash drive using a hammer, ensuring that the flash memory chip is thoroughly pulverized and completely unreadable.

Likewise, if you are going to be using the internet for devious purposes drive around and use a neighbor's open wireless network access point, which highly reduces the chances that anything can be traced back to you. Or set up your own unsecured wireless network point and suggest to officers that illegal use came from an outside source.

Not that I want to condone illegal activities, or condone lying to police officers, but to the hacker in me these seem like simple, sensible steps to take that will be more dependable than even a 50 character password.

10 points by ck2 20 hours ago 6 replies      
In the USA can you be compelled to testify against yourself by being coerced into giving a password to law enforcement?

Has this been tested yet, out of curiosity?

I remember reading they can deny you entry/exit to the USA if customs can't read your laptop but never heard anything like local/FBI.

If not, I hope it doesn't go before this particular supreme court.

5 points by awakeasleep 20 hours ago 2 replies      
As great as hidden volumes are, traces showing the inconsistency between the fake and real volume will be left on your system unless you take heroic measures to erase them.

Things like logs of all the external drives you connect, and links to recently opened files.

12 points by squidbot 20 hours ago 1 reply      
It occurs to me that since this part of a child pornography investigation, 16 weeks in jail for not giving them a password might actually be a far lighter sentence than if the key was provided and illicit material was found. I don't condone the porn, but it does seem like a logical trade-off.
2 points by bl4k 17 hours ago 2 replies      
I am surprised that they didn't keylog his machine - as having a warrant to search/seize means a warrant to keylog probably could have been obtained.

The police will learn from this and avoid these 'oh dammit' moments by just keylogging everybody from now (or at least those suspected of having encrypted volumes).

Keylogging is the one real weakness of all the TrueCrypt/other encryption schemes (that and your password is in memory in the clear while the volume is mounted, and even afterwards depending on your settings).

1 point by jrockway 19 hours ago 0 replies      
Absolutely. I think this is a great win for crypto; this guy is truly free from the prying eyes of the government.

It's good for society, too -- instead of convicting someone based on evidence on the guy's own computer (bringing into question context, chain of custody issues, and so on), the cops will have to build a solid case to convict him. When the police are forced to cross their ts and dot their is, society wins.

So I see this as good for everyone, even the children he may be abusing. They will get a fair trial that leaves no question about this guy's guilt. (If he is really guilty, of course.)

10 points by eof 19 hours ago 1 reply      
How do they know it's a 50 character password?
6 points by gunmetal 20 hours ago 0 replies      
"It sends a robust message out to those intent on trying to mask their online criminal activities that they will be taken before the courts with the ultimate sanction, as in this case, being a custodial sentence."

seems like a good reason to have "innocent until proven guilty". drive could contain anything, or nothing.

2 points by loewenskind 3 hours ago 1 reply      
It sounds to me like TrueCrypt needs a new feature: a password that just destroys all data.
10 points by vic_nyc 20 hours ago 1 reply      
I wonder why he didn't say he "forgot the password". Although it may seem implausible, how could they prove it's not true?
6 points by eiji 19 hours ago 2 replies      
"50-character encryption password" - nice!

I'm wondering ...
Person A refuses for - pure principle (and maybe some ripped DvD's)
Person B refuses for - let's say child pornography and a dirty bomb manual

Both will get the same jail time?

1 point by abalashov 7 hours ago 0 replies      
I am not sure I understand the basis on which this person was jailed. If the court order to search his computer was provided on the basis of probable cause, what was that probable cause? If law enforcement already had evidence of some kind of misdeed, why do they need access to his computer? If the evidence of his misdeeds is on the computer, wouldn't providing it be a) self-incrimination of some description, as mentioned extensively elsewhere here and b) law enforcement's inability to get access to the information get the case dismissed due to lack of evidence?
3 points by xenophanes 20 hours ago 2 replies      
I realize this story is in the UK, but could it happen in the US or would the 5th amendment protect you?

As an American, it seems a bit insane to me for someone to be jailed for refusing to help convict himself.

5 points by fbcocq 20 hours ago 4 replies      
I've been resetting people's 8 character passwords lost due to Post-Vacation-Insomnia for ages, I'd really like to see them expect me to remember a 50 character password under stress conditions.
3 points by omh 19 hours ago 0 replies      
This has happened before, although the details aren't clear.
It was reported last year (http://www.theregister.co.uk/2009/08/11/ripa_iii_figures/) that two people had been convicted for similar offences. It seems that most people don't comply, but not all of them are charged:
"Of the 15 individuals served, 11 did not comply with the notices. Of the 11, seven were charged and two convicted."
1 point by iuguy 15 hours ago 0 replies      
It's about time this happened. In the UK we have a law called the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA) which allows access to certain data held by ISPs or can compel people in certain cases to not only hand over encryption material but prohibits them from acknowledging that they had been charged under such a law.

As you can imagine, that last bit results in some very complicated situations. The laws governing paedophilia are quite different, with paedophiles having to sign a sex offenders register.

In the case of a sex offender being caught, it's easier to just take the RIPA sentence instead. This is what appears to have happened. I hope the guy's password is long enough otherwise regardless of his crime he's in for a world of pain.

1 point by rwmj 8 hours ago 0 replies      
3 points by mathgladiator 19 hours ago 0 replies      
In the US, how does the fifth amendment work in this type of issue? If he complies, then he is testifying against himself.
1 point by mirkules 19 hours ago 1 reply      
Would it be possible to have one password for accessing the system, and a separate password for permanently wiping sensitive parts (in the background, even)? What would be the legal implications (other than the obvious obstruction of justice charges if the authorities catch on)?
3 points by thedjpetersen 19 hours ago 2 replies      
If they are unable to crack the pass code, does he go free on lack of evidence?
1 point by jason_slack 20 hours ago 2 replies      
Can anyone explain how TrueCrypt works for OS X? Could I have my entire home directory on the hidden partition? What about their hidden operating system feature? So I can have my normal OS as the decoy OS and then have a hidden Linux OS (as example) that I use for sys adm type stuff and boot to it when I need to? Can VMWare or Parallels see this partition and create a VM based on it?
2 points by varjag 20 hours ago 0 replies      
It's the modern alternative to pulling fingernails.
1 point by nervechannel 2 hours ago 0 replies      
1 point by metal 20 hours ago 0 replies      
They already have this. You can have two levels of passwords: one for the OS and one for a hidden encrypted partition or encrypted file where you keep your truly sensitive info.
-4 points by malandrew 20 hours ago 0 replies      
This Star Wars quote seems appropriate here, especially given the hidden volume feature of TrueCrypt:

Princess Leia: "The more you tighten your grip, Tarkin, the more star systems will slip through your fingers."

Where to submit your startup for some coverage traindom.com
224 points by peeplaja 1 day ago   60 comments top 22
13 points by jacquesm 1 day ago 4 replies      
Interesting that HN is missing, I've seen sites launched (not always voluntarily!) by a single posting to HN, and I've seen how much coverage you can get from here when announcing my 'two week' project reocities.com .

That seems like an oversight.

4 points by frisco 1 day ago 0 replies      
The advice that TC won't cover you unless you're much bigger is bad. They'll cover you however small you are as long as you give them something worth writing about.
4 points by wensing 1 day ago 3 replies      
Does anyone know how long it usually takes to get your startup added to CrunchBase? My submission for Stormpulse has been in pending status since 9/23.
3 points by drubio 1 day ago 1 reply      
I got picked up by http://www.killerstartups.com/ a few months ago. They have a submission page (though I didn't actually use it)

I actually got about 200+ referrals from them, which was nice. In addition to multiple PR offerings.

5 points by takrupp 1 day ago 1 reply      
Maybe there should be a tag and thread on HN for startups that are launching or looking for alpha/beta users (like the ASK tag).
3 points by sahillavingia 1 day ago 1 reply      
My iPhone app just came out. So far I've just been emailing bloggers and advertising on cheap sites. Also, tweeted about it!

What do you guys suggest to market an iPhone app (more specifically, productivity/utility $1.99)? What has worked for you?

15 points by bradmccarty 1 day ago 1 reply      
The Next Web - brad@thenextweb.com
1 point by hrabago 1 day ago 0 replies      
I'm surprised at the size of the list here. Are all these sites legitimate, each with their own audience?

I'm wondering if there are equivalents for iPhone apps (or mobile apps in general).

Edit: Created a new post focusing on my mobile apps question so as not to hijack this thread: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=1757510

1 point by jasonlbaptiste 1 day ago 1 reply      
Why isn't there a commonapp for startup press coverage? Same set of details, no PR fluff, and sent to these sites + one designated person at a publication.

This would just make everyone's life so much easier.

1 point by ohashi 1 day ago 0 replies      
MO.com - Entrepreneur Interviews (from starting to successful). Tell me the most interesting thing about you, your company or about tech/startups in general if you want a better chance/get something posted faster. Email may be down, moving servers but Kevin@MO.com or use my personal contact form: http://ohashi.info/contact
3 points by jonathanmarcus 1 day ago 0 replies      
Nothing even comes close to Lifehacker, assuming your product is a good fit. It should be #1 on every start-up's list.
1 point by ai09 1 day ago 4 replies      
Can anyone that has submitted their site to Killer Startups quantify the number of solicitations they received from vendors? I ask since I almost submitted my site a couple weeks back but was turned off by these lines in the Killer Startups' Terms of Service:

"You herein consent that The Company will disclose to any third party your name, address, e-mail address or telephone number (you may opt out of this by not submitting your startup), except to the extent necessary or appropriate to comply with applicable laws or in legal proceedings where such information is relevant. The Company reserves the right to offer third party services and products to you based on the preferences that you identify in your registration and at any time thereafter; such offers may be made by the Company or by third parties."

2 points by andjones 1 day ago 0 replies      
This information is invaluable. This is a great way to attract some traffic / get valuable feedback.

I once posted an early version of one of my sites on the craigslist forum for feedback. The responses were not helpful.

1 point by willlangford 1 day ago 0 replies      
This is a great list. I do write web apps and am working on my 1st "startup" so this will be great.

I would like to expand this, how would one who is opening an online store for example get coverage besides the normal press? I mean yes it is a startup but not, we make everything ourselves, so it's not reselling someone else's stuff, but at the same time doesn't fit the startup mold.

2 points by flardinois 1 day ago 0 replies      
ReadWriteWeb (tips@readwriteweb) - email us and we will definitely take a look.
1 point by ddrager 1 day ago 0 replies      
This is a good list to get started. I write for MakeUseOf - generally to submit your app there, use submit@makeuseof.com or if you want to send a direct message to me, dave@makeuseof.com.

Your app must at least be in open beta, and must be free or 'freemium'.

1 point by adlep 1 day ago 0 replies      
Great list, thank you for compiling this for the rest of us
1 point by ashitvora 1 day ago 0 replies      
"This week in startup" is missing.
I like those guys.
1 point by known 23 hours ago 0 replies      
AdWords ?
-2 points by rafelio 1 day ago 0 replies      
Maybe never :( it depends
0 points by sshaff 1 day ago 0 replies      
-2 points by alain94040 1 day ago 1 reply      
This is generally bad advice. To quote from the PR panel at the Founder Conference a month ago: the last thing a journalist wants to receive in their inbox is a bland e-mail that was obviously blasted to another hundred places.

video at http://blog.fairsoftware.net/2010/08/24/pr2-0-doesnt-work-fo...

The Unofficial HN FAQ jacquesmattheij.com
225 points by jacquesm 2 days ago   92 comments top 30
28 points by pchristensen 1 day ago 1 reply      
Another good one:

Q: Why don't people ever email me when I invite them to in a comment?

A: The Email field in your profile is for site administrators only. If you want other users to be able to see it, you need to include it in your About box.

11 points by telemachos 1 day ago 2 replies      
I'm not sure how big of a deal this is, but it might be worth mentioning that many HN users dislike short URLs and will often vote you down if you post one. Just a community norm that some folks are surprised by.
15 points by po 1 day ago 1 reply      
A high average score on your comments will give your comments preference in the search order (this is part of the 'secret sauce').

I've wondered about that… I spend a fair amount of time reading through the "newest" and "ask" lists and often comment on articles that don't end up making the front page. This can really drag your average down. The best way to have a high average score is to comment only on top stories where everyone else is reading, which I think is a bit unfortunate.

4 points by j_baker 1 day ago 1 reply      
"Simply flag the post, don't bother bitching about it, that will only get you downvotes."

This isn't always true. I've bitched about submissions and gotten upvoted for it. :-)

Usually, it's something along the lines of "I'm tired of seeing this crap on the front page" though. Usually if it's "this is hacker news" or "N00b, this is a violation of the rules" it will get downvoted.

One other point to make, it's ok to point out that someone is breaking the rules if you're not bitching about it. I think comments saying "You might not realize this, but this will likely get downvoted/flagged because it breaks rule X" comments should be encouraged.

6 points by mcknz 1 day ago 1 reply      
"Is there an API for HN / is it ok to scrape HN?"

Comment from PG: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=1721105

3 points by warwick 1 day ago 0 replies      
A couple of things you might want to include:

The rule about having to be here for a year before you can even talk about if we're turning into Reddit. It's in the guidelines, but I think it's worth mentioning under "Is HN becoming like Reddit and Digg?".

It's also pretty courteous around here to note any edits you made to your comment with a brief footnote, or by adding the additional content as a footnote itself. The footnote should mention what was edited, not just that the edit occurred. That bit of etiquette might fit under "Someone edited a comment I replied to and now I look like an idiot!"

5 points by tptacek 1 day ago 2 replies      
Does anyone seriously believe that your chances of getting into YC go up linearly with your karma? If I had to guess, past a certain threshold, your chances of acceptance probably drop.
4 points by revorad 2 days ago 1 reply      
Great list. You might want to edit the title to replace "HN" with the full form "Hacker News".

Another noob FAQ is: "Is HN becoming like Reddit and Digg?". pg has given lots of good answers to that (mainly that people who haven't been around long enough see patterns in randomness).

Edited to add: You might also want to point out that Reddit and Digg are also good communities with a different feel, and there is no need to take a moral high ground.

2 points by gojomo 1 day ago 1 reply      
A nice summary, but I think a little too casual in recommending 'flags'. The official guidelines mention flags for "spam and offtopic"; this FAQ says to flag when you "think it's not HN material", a looser standard.

How about on-topic but trivial, repetitive, frivolous, flimsily-argued, outside-the-mainstream, etc.? Best to ignore, rather than flag these -- a flag is not a downvote saying 'less attention', it's a judgment 'no attention; against-the-rules'. (It stings far more when your earnestly-offered submission is killed than when it simply never musters many votes.)

I've noticed more people using flags as simple downvotes, and some good submissions have been killed as a result.

2 points by DanielBMarkham 2 days ago 0 replies      
This is a great article, Jacques.

Somebody should put together a list of meta-HN posts. These guides written by the users have as much or more value than that the stuff pg and the rest put together. I think part of the reason why is that fellow users are more likely to see things from a user's point of view.

3 points by icey 2 days ago 0 replies      
This is a pretty good list, thanks for putting it together. Definitely going to have to bookmark it for the times when new people complain about the way of the world here.
3 points by tnorthcutt 2 days ago 1 reply      
"The thresholds at which this happens changes over time, I believe the downvote cap is at 50 right now and the flag cap is at 200."

I may be reading this wrong, but I think what you're saying is that once you reach a karma of 50, you can downvote comments. I'm pretty sure that's incorrect - I have a karma of 89 as of this writing, and (unless I haven't yet figured out how to) am unable to downvote comments. Maybe someone who recently became able to could give a more accurate number.

4 points by devmonk 2 days ago 4 replies      
'"self" posts, posts that do not link to another website have their own category in the top menu bar, they are all grouped under the 'Ask' entry...'

But that doesn't happen for every "Ask HN" I've posted. A good number move there, but not all, and not immediately.

2 points by bambax 1 day ago 1 reply      
Great post, thanks.


For one HN has it's own 'flavor' => its

HN gets it's (more than) fair share of spam => its

Weird HTML:

It seems line-breaks are hard-coded with BRs inside of P elements? In this phrase the BRs are missing and therefore it crosses over to the invisible right side:

The thresholds at which this happens changes over time, the downvote threshold is at 200 right now and the flag cap is at 100. There

2 points by edanm 2 days ago 0 replies      
Great list jacquesm. I had no idea Hacker News was open source! I guess you learn something new every day.

And thanks for mentioning Resourcey. I've added your FAQ to HN's Resourcey.com page (gotta love circular recursion!)

3 points by RiderOfGiraffes 2 days ago 1 reply      
You might want to add a question:

+ Why can't I downvote comment?

with the answer

+ You can only downvote comments once you have sufficient karma. The required level rises over time to account for the karma inflation caused by an increasing userbase.

This would enhance the answer about what one can do with one's karma.

2 points by duck 1 day ago 0 replies      
One other search tip - I use Duck Duck Go's bang command to search HN using !hn <search terms>. It takes you to searchyc.com, but is more handy if you are already using DDG.
3 points by jacquesm 1 day ago 0 replies      
Update: I've added the possibility to link directly to an entry in the FAQ.
1 point by jacquesm 1 day ago 0 replies      
I just added this as a stand-alone article:


How to make the homepage.

3 points by anonymous236 1 day ago 2 replies      
> Why can't I respond to a comment that responded to me ?

Current answer is wrong. Commenting is disabled for old threads. For new, overly active threads only in-thread commenting is disabled, but clicking on the 'link' link still gives an access to the response form.

2 points by gasull 1 day ago 0 replies      
In the digest question you might want to add the RSS feeds from "A cure for Hacker News overload":


1 point by patrickk 1 day ago 1 reply      
Regarding "What can I do with my karma?" another thing you can do once you reach a certain karma level is to setup a poll, with multiple answers that people can vote on.
4 points by yurifury 2 days ago 1 reply      
You may want to add a section on alternative or mobile interfaces to HN, such as hckrnews.com and icombinator.net.
1 point by rwmj 2 days ago 2 replies      
The FAQ is seemingly contradictory on the subject of downvotes. Does anyone ever seen downvotes on posts? On comments? (I have never seen a "down" button on either). The FAQ says that there are no such things, but also mentions downvotes, which I find confusing.
1 point by drtse4 2 days ago 2 replies      
The "Can I post links to my own blog ?", could not be true anymore, or at least reading the ShelfLuv creator's post http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=1754584 this morning i got that impression (didn't we discuss this in a thread last week?).
1 point by chmike 1 day ago 1 reply      
An information I failed to find is text formatting methods. Sometime I see itallic text, others courrier text. URLs aren't always shown as clickable links. How can we control this ?
1 point by bryanlarsen 1 day ago 1 reply      
Under "alternative ways to read", you're missing some punctuation. Currently, it seems to imply that hckrnews.com is an Android app...
2 points by stjarnljuset 1 day ago 0 replies      
Edit: nevermind, the thing I suggested adding was already on the FAQ.
1 point by mortuus 1 day ago 1 reply      
typo: "otherwise you nobody can see it"

Where did you get the (one boat cruise|two boat race) saying?

-4 points by MarkBook 2 days ago 0 replies      
"Why would you want high karma ?"
because I don't have one. Hit me
Put armor where there aren't bullet holes motherjones.com
222 points by robg 4 days ago   76 comments top 11
66 points by teilo 4 days ago 1 reply      
This reminds me of the story of the US army moving from canvas to metal helmets. To their surprise, they found that the number of head injuries went up, and not down.

Why? Because the metal helmets converted fatalities to head injuries.

14 points by BRadmin 4 days ago 1 reply      
5 points by evgen 4 days ago 0 replies      
For more similar stories check out the http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operations_research wikipedia page.

When google released some OR software recently that hit the HN front page [http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=1724580] I followed various links to this particular wikipedia page and then moved on to other things. When the "armor where there are no bullet holes" stories started popping up I assumed that this was the event that triggered the "hey this is cool" reaction from a few people who started the ball rolling...

3 points by mattmaroon 4 days ago 2 replies      
You must be careful when applying this sort of logic because it assumes that what happens to a plane after its shot is entirely deterministic, ie. if it gets shot in the tail fin it crashes, if it gets shot in the wing it doesn't. That may or may be accurate for planes (I really don't know) but may not for other things.

Suppose anywhere the plane was shot led to a 1/5 chance of the plane crashing, meaning that all places are equally deserving of armor. Suppose also that the wings comprised about 75% of the surface area of the plane. You'd see 3 planes returning with bullet holes in a wing for every 1 with a bullet hole somewhere else. That doesn't mean somewhere else is a better place to put the armor.

It's easy to see how it could be possible, if the odds of a crash weren't uniform (ie if the wings had a slightly higher than average chance of causing a crash if shot in my example above) you could easily come to the wrong conclusion.

6 points by vl 4 days ago 1 reply      
Reminds me of common belief that dolphins push drowning people to the shore. It's hard to check if it's actually true, after all, most people pushed in opposite direction are most likely dead.
1 point by Luc 4 days ago 1 reply      
It's a nice story, but the distribution of the bullet holes in the illustration ( http://motherjones.com/files/images/blog_raf_bullet_holes.jp... ) looks a bit too neat to me. I wouldn't expect the bullet holes to be placed exactly so that a cursory glance makes it mind-blowingly obvious where the weak spots are, in a neatly symmetrical way. I'd expect a bit of frowning and thinking and calculating to be needed to figure that out.

So, for an article about 'obvious but wrong' conclusions, I think the illustration is kind of deceiving... unless I'm wrong!

1 point by njharman 4 days ago 6 replies      
> count up all the bullet holes in various places, and then put extra armor in the areas that attracted the most fire.
> Obvious but wrong

Please tell me I'm not the only one who instantly thought, obviously wrong. And thought the obvious solution is look at what got shot down (or similar such as the article listed)

Really? Are most people this illogical?

2 points by maeon3 4 days ago 1 reply      
You can't just say (Bullet hole here) + (returned plane) = (don't need to as much armor there). You also need to understand the circumstances of how the plane returned. Was it crippled and just barely made it back with critical systems straining? Or was it mostly functional?

If there was a common place where planes were shot that caused the airplane to fly home for an emergency landing, then that spot is a good place for armor.

1 point by TGJ 4 days ago 1 reply      
I guess an interesting point to think about, of those 1000 or so shots on the wing, what about the one that finally hit the wire that disconnected the aileron from the yoke? You might have plenty that hit around the wing, but one that takes out that wire and it could be over. The sweeping logic being used doesn't cover those areas.
-1 point by aneth 4 days ago 0 replies      
Startup lesson: focus on what functions, what your customers use, and your core competencies, not fixing things no body is using anyway.

An example of a company I think not following this advice: Pivotal Labs. Why are they not building premium options into Pivotal Tracker instead of building WebOS apps?

Let's get Salman Khan (khanacademy.org) on the TED stage alexisohanian.com
218 points by maheshs 2 days ago   42 comments top 7
48 points by mhb 2 days ago 1 reply      
I think he's a good candidate for a MacArthur fellowship, too.
4 points by sahillavingia 2 days ago 4 replies      
This seems like a noble effort, but Khan seems like the type of guy who likes to be left alone, contributing to the world as best he can. Spending time at TED would just slow him down.
2 points by Gormo 2 days ago 1 reply      
I could have sworn he already did a TED Talk - I remember first learning of Khan Academy from TED - but now there seems to be no trace of him on the TED site.

Am I crazy, or did he do a talk that was subsequently removed?

1 point by noverloop 2 days ago 1 reply      
I would like to fill in the form to nominate him but I can't find his email address
1 point by JaretManuel 2 days ago 0 replies      
Salman is a premier TED candidate as he is "doing it" and it will be interesting to hear what he is dreaming about for this space.

Stupendous choice Alexis.

1 point by rhythmAddict 2 days ago 4 replies      
The font on that blog makes me want to gauge my eyes out.
-4 points by johnohara 2 days ago 6 replies      
His contribution is impressive, but it has a long way to go.

Good online instruction presents very different challenges not found with traditional classroom teaching or "professor-as-focus" videos. It's an instructional medium unique to itself, and still finding its legs.

I completely disagree with course content that's been created using poor-quality audio and "visuals" (not video). "Good enough" is not only disrespectful to the student but completely unnecessary given the quality and cost of great content production tools available the past four years.

Higher-quality means more post production work, however, but it's worth it because "when it's done right, it will always be done right."

Four rules have emerged so far in this new medium: 1) The material must take center stage, not the presenter, 2) students prefer granularity of subject matter in short vignettes, 3) done well is always done well, promoting repeatable instructional excellence, 4) high-quality audio/visual production tools are a must.

A lot of us, not just Sal, employ these principals in our work. But overall, it needs to bake a little more before being presented at TED or before the MacArthur Foundation.

The educational paradigm is shifting, and indeed being disrupted, but not in the way most people think.

Where to See Silicon Valley paulgraham.com
210 points by ssclafani 1 day ago   161 comments top 45
24 points by dcurtis 1 day ago 7 replies      
I'm surprised that San Francisco is only mentioned in passing. This list seems to me like the old view of Silicon Valley. (Or, maybe, if you had to describe the valley geographically.)

It feels like the new Silicon Valley is in San Francisco, and that its heart is in Soma (or the Mission).

13 points by baguasquirrel 1 day ago 5 replies      
This is spot on, but at least tell them to not take the spots with the outlets if they're going to visit Red Rock? How we going to work there now?

Edit: Bah. If we're going to out one coffee shop, then why not the others. There's Dana St, also in Mtn View. Peet's at across El Camino works as a spillover. Verde Tea has nice drinks but the wifi seems to block you after an hour and you can't get Google Wifi inside. The other bubble tea place across from Red Rock is open later than anything else on Castro but it's a bit dingy inside and you likewise can't pick up Google Wifi inside.

If you work late, there's the Starbucks at El Camino and Lawrence which is open till 1. Any proprietors here? We need more shops open till 1.

In Palo Alto, there's Philz, which has the best coffee I've ever had in my life. The Peets up the street is also supposed to be a decent place to hang out. There's also Mitchell Park which is nearby to both.

In 'tino, there's the Coffee Society. The Peets down the street is also a surprisingly good place to work, and the Whole Foods has free wifi. There's also some Donut shop next to the Apple HQ which never seems to close but the stuff they have there is so-so. But if you just need to get out of the apt to work, it will do.

In general, the Peets are nicer places to work but the wifi will only last an hour.

That's all the ones I know. Anyone got any others?

19 points by pvg 1 day ago 3 replies      
What is it with the cromulent word 'atmos'? Second time in a pg article. Atmosphere too hard to type? Personal shorthand slipping past the proofreader?


14 points by iamwil 1 day ago 1 reply      
"In case you can't tell, the founders are the ones leaning forward eagerly, and the investors are the ones sitting back with slightly pained expressions."

I like pg's new humor.

8 points by jf 1 day ago 6 replies      
It looks like this was inspired by the Ask:YC question "How do I make the most out of Startup-school?" (http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=1753141).

To that end, if anybody is interested in taking a tour of the Silicon Valley before or after Startup School, let me know and I'll make it happen. (I've organized something like this once already. It was a blast: http://hackspedition.org/sv)

10 points by aiurtourist 1 day ago 2 replies      
Why not bike Silicon Valley? This area is very bike accessible (just stay off the sidewalks), and lots of engineers love bicycles anyway.

Stanford University - You can't drive around Stanford without being cut off by bikes, so why not ride one? And if you want a good ride while you're in the area, do "the loop," which is Alpine Rd to Portola Rd to Woodside Dr.

University Ave - I'd avoid this on a bike because it's always ridiculously busy. However, Palo Alto has lots of casual suburbia rides, and note that Bryant St is a "bicycle boulevard" -- lots of it is usually car-free except for the locals, and it'll take you to Charleston, which runs into the Google campus.

Sand Hill Road - A good ride with some reasonable hills. Take this road south to Portola and then try the gold standard of climbs -- Old La Honda Rd. If you can make it from Portola to the stop sign in less than 30 minutes, you're in good shape. Less than 18 and you're Lance Armstrong. Don't go down Old La Honda, though -- go north on Skyline a bit and take 84 down since the visibility and view are better.

Castro Street - This place really wants to be a hip, urban center, but believing whether it is is up to you. Bike here and, like PG said, stop at Red Rock. Or grab a gyro and some baklava from the Gyro House, which is terribly underrated.

Google - The Google campus is so bike accessible that they provide clown-like bikes for employees to ride around. Hit up the main campus and see the dinosaur and, currently, granite head sculpture exhibit. Of course, you should probably show up with someone who works there and can throw in a free lunch.

North of Google - If you're biking from Palo Alto to Google or vice-versa, cut north through the Shoreline Lake reserve and the Palo Alto Baylands Nature Preserve. Keep your mouth closed during the spring months so you don't inhale a cloud of gnats.

Skyline Drive - A mixed bag. In the morning this is beautiful, and when the fog clears you can see the entire valley. It's epic. Unfortunately, the road is used as a testing ground for Porsche and motorcycle lovers -- people have died, and I have more than one friend who was almost hit.

16 points by idoh 1 day ago 1 reply      
San Andreas Lake came first, and then the fault was discovered and named after the lake.

(talking about the 280 section of the essay)

11 points by gluejar 1 day ago 1 reply      
You CAN see the city from Stanford, on a clear day. If you go up the dish trail (counter clockwise) your uphill slog is rewarded, just before you turn left, by a wonderful view of San Francisco skyscrapers in the distance. On the rare days of good visibility, it's one of my favorite spots in the world.
3 points by _delirium 1 day ago 1 reply      
The coast is cold and foggy? Maybe if you're all the way up in Half Moon Bay. ;-)

It does seem like it's declined in its role in startup culture lately, but it's spawned a good share of startups--- Seagate, SCO (pre-patent-troll era), RF Micro, Plantronics, etc., are from the coast. Would be interesting if anyone had a guess as to why there's less of that now than there was some years ago. There are still a bunch of profitable (!) indie-game studios, at least (the folks behind Bridge Builder, Gish, Super Meat Boy, Aether, Bit.Trip, etc.).

Judging by the commute traffic on 92 & 17, it seems quite a few people who work in the valley still live on the coast, too, but it's quite possible they're mostly 9-5 rather than startup types.

6 points by kbob 1 day ago 2 replies      
I always think it's fun to drive down random streets in the commercial areas of Mt. View, Sunnyvale and San Jose and see the crazy mix of famous, has-been, and still unknown companies' signs on the buildings.
9 points by tlrobinson 1 day ago 0 replies      
In case you were wondering where our company name "280 North" came from, see #9.
6 points by jasonlbaptiste 1 day ago 3 replies      
Just reading about these places makes me dearly miss the Valley. Outside of startup culture, it is just an absolutely beautiful place to live. If you haven't visited, I suggest you do. You won't regret it.
4 points by rdl 1 day ago 2 replies      
I'd include:
1) Hacker Dojo (conveniently near YC!) -- a slightly-more-corporate hackerspace

2) Computer History Museum

3) Weird Stuff and the other used hardware vendors

4) Drive by the "HP Garage" in Palo Alto

5) Facebook's new offices

6) In-N-Out

7) The Old Pro in Palo Alto

8) Drive by Moffett Field (and go inside if you can; there are events there a couple times per year)

6 points by progrium 1 day ago 0 replies      
A friend regarding Hacker Dojo not being mentioned:

  well, he hasn't visited it.... ever, right? heh
i mean, i guess you can't blame him
it's a really long way from yc to the dojo

[Google Maps has it at 5 minutes away walking distance]

2 points by cpr 1 day ago 0 replies      
Sadly, one of the most beautiful spots in the valley was at the old DC Power Lab (named after someone called "DC Power", but it was the Electric Power Research Institute before it became the old Stanford AI Lab, and was eventually torn down).

In its decrepitude, a laser printer startup I helped found (Imagen) lived among the ruins (we traded space from Stanford for laser printers ;-), and it was glorious. It was up in the trees not too far from the dish, and we'd work out on the deck (watch out for holes) under the eucalypti on every fresh Palo Alto morning. Heaven.

Now I think it's a riding stable.

1 point by Kliment 1 day ago 1 reply      
Around the start of the Afghanistan war, our high school (I lived in Finland at the time) invited someone working for the US Embassy to give a talk. The auditorium was full, as a lot of the students had opinions about the US involvement in Afghanistan, and mostly negative ones, so there was much curiosity about what an "official" would say about it to such an audience. The embassy representative arrived, had a long talk about how much work it was to get his job, and how cool it was to travel to Europe and live here, and then stated the purpose of his visit was to show us how beautiful the US is. He then proceeded to slow hundreds of slides of landscape/sunset/nature photos. After all this, he evaded the inevitable request for commentary on the war by stating he had run out of time. This is sort of the feeling I get from this article. It's a travel guide look at silicon valley, but doesn't have any depth or insight about the actual effect SV has on startups. This is a great guide for people who live in the region and want to play tourist for a day. But how many of those don't know these things?
4 points by progrium 1 day ago 1 reply      
I'm surprised SuperHappyDevHouse and Hacker Dojo were not mentioned. Many people, including local press, describe both as microcosms of Silicon Valley culture.

If you want to see Silicon Valley, sure, go to Palo Alto and drive 280... but if you want to experience what Silicon Valley is about, you should go to a SuperHappyDevHouse or visit Hacker Dojo.

2 points by brown9-2 1 day ago 1 reply      
Never noticed before that Google doesn't really seem to like if you try to look at their offices in Street View: http://maps.google.com/maps?q=charleston+road+mountain+view&...
2 points by JabavuAdams 1 day ago 0 replies      
Wish I'd had this for my first GDC conference in San Jose.

I went up El Camino Real, and saw fabled places like Palo Alto, but I couldn't help thinking "This is just like Scarborough" (ugly Toronto suburb). It's just strip-malls. KFC, Taco Hell, KFC, Taco Hell. What a disappointment!

I guess I expected there to be code and money dripping from the trees, while pot-smoking surfers built rockets, or something.

9 points by smithbits 1 day ago 2 replies      
I'd add Fry's Electronics and WeirdStuff Warehouse. If you came to the Valley from the sticks like I did they are wonderful wonderful places.
4 points by revorad 1 day ago 1 reply      
The Computer History Museum link at the bottom points to the essay itself. Presumably, it's meant to point to wikipedia or another relevant page.
1 point by jcnnghm 1 day ago 0 replies      
Does anyone have advice for getting in and seeing offices at startups/companies in the valley for people that are coming in for startup school, tours and whatnot?

I found the info for the Airbnb party on their blog (http://blog.airbnb.com/), that should be cool.

1 point by msg 1 day ago 0 replies      
I was interviewed in the valley a few years back. I didn't try to go to Google but I did go to Stanford on a free evening. I had some idea of trying to find the CS department, or maybe Knuth's house. It was a little late though.

Instead I ended up just wandering around the campus looking at the amazing art and soaking it in. There's a cast of a Rodin piece called The Gates of Hell that is unreal. I got to it just after sunset when the lights were starting to come on.

It was after dark when I left campus, and I took a wrong turn. Suddenly all the signs were in Spanish, and I was lost in California. I made it out alive though.

They offered me a job but I ended up in Colorado instead.

1 point by jmtame 1 day ago 0 replies      
i hope to see sunfire offices on this list some day. it's one of the most underrated places in mountain view to find other smart, driven hackers. their mixers are on the level of yc's dinners--i've learned some really interesting and contrarian advice from the founders of companies who attend those mixers, a few of them were yc-funded (one in particular that stood out was ngmoco's methods of generating revenue from free apps). i've also heard some bizarre ideas, like when the seasteading institute's founder came to speak. salman khan was at the last mixer i believe.
1 point by jasonlbaptiste 1 day ago 2 replies      
This whole list reminds me of an idea I've had for such a long time that I've wanted to do, just to meet people and provide something useful.

Once a day daily email that highlights great places in an area. These are well known spots, but there are tons others that I'm sure long time residents haven't even heard of. Thrillist and all the others seem to focus on bars/restaurants, but there's just so much more to an area to see. I lived in the Valley for a year and still never got to see enough. I wish I had one email a day telling me of places to check out/unique things to see. I'd never get around to all of them, but it would have made my time there even more enjoyable.

3 points by fady 1 day ago 0 replies      
good article. Yes, SF is full of startups. My half baked ex-stackexchange site has a nice list:
2 points by bemmu 1 day ago 0 replies      
One way of seeing the Google offices is to keep an eye out for hacker events hosted there. I was able to get in by attending an OpenSocial hackathon, and met some people who were habitual visitors to their different events.
4 points by mybbor 1 day ago 2 replies      
Nice, Don't forget to look for the linear accelerator on 280 in Menlo Park. Endless Loop Drive http://goo.gl/z2iR in Sunnyvale. Also, if your on Cal ave. get your hair done with my girlfriend @ Di Petro Salon. ;)
2 points by yurylifshits 1 day ago 0 replies      
I would add Rainbow Mansion http://www.rainbowmansion.com/

The ultimate Hacker Villa and the location of many SuperHappyDevHouses

1 point by jgrahamc 1 day ago 0 replies      
1 point by gregwebs 1 day ago 0 replies      
I found the "condense rain out of fog" statement interesting, thanks! I looked into it more and have a nitpick: if I understand it correctly, redwoods will directly absorb (or at least condense onto itself) much of the fog. Rain must fall under the influence of gravity.
2 points by elai 1 day ago 5 replies      
Why hasn't SV built out towards the west and the pacific ocean and instead built downwards? There seem to be big swaths of unused space there, and for such an expensive place it seems a bit strange.
1 point by yankeeracer73 1 day ago 0 replies      
Some people have already mentioned going to see Apple HQ. I remember driving on I-280 in the late nineties when Jobs had just gotten back to Apple and they were doing their Think Different campaign. There was a huge billboard of Einstein right by the exit to the Apple campus. I had been an Apple fan since the early eighties; to see this and know their founder was back and they were doing great things again literally brought a tear to my eye. ;)
1 point by natch 1 day ago 0 replies      
One of the best things PG didn't mention is the Book Buyers (used book store right on Castro in downtown Mountain View) technical books selection. Very impressive.
3 points by dirtae 1 day ago 1 reply      
Apple fans should make the trip to HQ in Cupertino. Apple operates a company store here that is, I believe, the only place in the world to buy official Apple apparel. The 1 Infinite Loop sign makes for a nice photo op.
2 points by chris_l 1 day ago 1 reply      
This guide comes too late for me! When I visited the area while travelling through cali 8 years ago I couldn't find a hint of SV... but Stanford's campus is great.
1 point by hasenj 21 hours ago 0 replies      
hm, really? Castro street?

Wow! I was there last month and I walked Castro street several times, but I thought all the "action" was around Stanford University (I didn't go there, only went to Stanford Shopping Center and the landscape was amazing).

1 point by barmstrong 1 day ago 0 replies      
Great list.

While living in Palo Alto I was surprised that there seemed to be more startup events in the city. SOMA definitely feels like part of the scene too.

2 points by jaybol 1 day ago 0 replies      
More on that magic 165 University address http://milo.com/blog/lucky-165-university-ave/
1 point by mattmaroon 1 day ago 0 replies      
Next we need where to eat in SV.
1 point by zackattack 1 day ago 1 reply      
Are there any nerd bars where you can talk about jQuery, AdWords campaigns, etc?
1 point by jey 1 day ago 2 replies      
Dana Street Roasting Co. > Red Rock. :)
1 point by jscore 1 day ago 0 replies      
I would agree that it's nice to work for a company on University/Castro streets that is before the company moves to some soulless office park.
2 points by hogu 1 day ago 1 reply      
If you're in the bay area there are way better things to see than those things. those are just famous startup places
1 point by eande 1 day ago 1 reply      
The list sounds more Palo Alto than Silicon Valley. I personally think there is much more to SV than the 9 items.
But I agree on the weather, it is nearly perfect.
(How to Write a (Lisp) Interpreter (in Python)) norvig.com
209 points by alexkay 5 days ago   38 comments top 13
35 points by jimbokun 5 days ago 2 replies      
Every time I read code from Norvig, programming seems so simple and powerful, and I wonder how it is I spend such effort getting such meager results.
37 points by kroger 5 days ago 1 reply      
Be sure to also check "(How to Write a ((Better) Lisp) Interpreter (in Python))": http://norvig.com/lispy2.html
10 points by pufuwozu 5 days ago 1 reply      
I love how short and simple the tokeniser is:

    def tokenize(s):
"Convert a string into a list of tokens."
return s.replace('(',' ( ').replace(')',' ) ').split()

5 points by kroger 5 days ago 2 replies      
I like the quote that a powerful language should fit a page of code:

"I asserted that you could define the "most powerful language in the world" in "a page of code." I had orignally made the boast because McCarthy's self-describing LISP interpreter was written in itself. It was about "a page", and as far as power goes, LISP was the whole nine-yards for functional languages." --- Alan Kay in http://gagne.homedns.org/~tgagne/contrib/EarlyHistoryST.html

5 points by sb 5 days ago 0 replies      
For those interested in a more in-depth treatment of Lisp interpreters: "Lisp in Small Pieces", by Christian Queinnec is one of the canonical references in that area. (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0521562473)

At university we had a copy on implementation of functional programming languages following "The Architecture of Symbolic Computers" by Peter Kogge, which is very good, too. (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0070355967)

5 points by benbeltran 5 days ago 2 replies      
Kind of an unrelated question. But the phrase without the text inside the parentheses would be "How to write a Interpreter". Wouldn't "An" be a better choice?

In this case, what is the best option? to be faithful to the original sentence, or to stick to what sounds best with the parentheses inserted?

2 points by dangrossman 5 days ago 0 replies      
Python's a great language for teaching this. In my an undergrad CS languages course we wrote both an interpreter and compiler (to MIPS assembly) for Lisp in Python in just a couple weeks. I'd written an interpreter for another language in C++ once and spent 3/4 of my time getting pointers and other language constructs right.
2 points by kamechan 5 days ago 0 replies      
glad to see this up here.

this is a pretty standard exercise in university programming language theory courses. last year when i took the course, we had to write an oCaml interpreter in oCaml, and had about a week to do it (complete with environments, bindings, expressions, custom operators, higher-order functions, etc...). it was challenging, but paid off as far as contributing to my understanding about how a) functional languages work and b) how interpreters work. an interesting follow up would be to write a compiler for the language as well.

if writing an interpreter is something you've never done before then this is, by all means, a worthwhile activity. it would have been nice had it been structured as a series of descriptions and exercises rather than with the answers posted along with it. so easy to look :)

4 points by DrJosiah 5 days ago 0 replies      
Norvig's interpreter is pretty solid, but another fellow did it recently as well: http://fogus.me/fun/lithp/
1 point by amix 5 days ago 0 replies      
I am in awe every time I read some of Norvig's code, it seems to be so simple, short and readable. He is truly a coding master :))
1 point by terra_t 5 days ago 0 replies      
Corrected Title:

(HowTo (In (Write LispInterpreter) Python))

[if the title actually was LISP syntax, everybody would be programming in LISP today]

1 point by wtracy 5 days ago 1 reply      
Upvoted just for the title. :-)
0 points by znmeb 5 days ago 2 replies      
Oh, for crying out loud! Have you no sense of history? The whole point of Lisp and Scheme is that you can write the interpreter in Lisp or Scheme! It's a sad day when you have to write a Lisp interpreter in Python, which is itself an interpreter written in C.

God has killed so many kittens because of you. ;-)

Google offers JPEG alternative for faster Web cnet.com
200 points by ukdm 5 days ago   110 comments top 23
20 points by lmkg 5 days ago 5 replies      
Wait, so Google took a bunch of JPGs, re-compressed them with a lossy format, and claims to have gotten them 40% smaller with no loss in quality. Either the lossyness in the format is entirely in aspects of the image that the JPG compression already removed and they're just better at compressing the residue (possible, but I am skeptical), or else the image is altered, but in a way that Google claims is subjectively a sidegrade in quality. I'm not putting much faith in their quality claims until I see side-by-side comparisons of a JPG and WebP compression of the same TIFF (or other uncompressed) image at the same compression ratio. A double-blind study is probably too much to ask, but it would be nice.
10 points by jomohke 5 days ago 3 replies      
Have they explained their reasons for not backing JPEG-XR instead? This seems to be a step back from JPEG-XR:

- No alpha support

- Not lossless support (Useful for the alpha channel, and could encourage more cameras to support lossless images)

- No HDR support

JPEG-XR also allows different regions of the image to be encoded independently. See wikipedia for more features: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/JPEG_XR

I have no idea what the patent landscape for JPEG-XR is, but I'd be disappointed if we replaced JPEG and didn't get some of these features.

The lack of alpha support in JPEG is especially a pain for web developers. PNG does not do photos well.

4 points by metamemetics 5 days ago 2 replies      
Just a note to anyone using Adobe software to produce their web PNGs:
Make sure to run PNGCrush to remove all extraneous information in them! http://pmt.sourceforge.net/pngcrush/index.html
5 points by jdavid 5 days ago 0 replies      
This has other implications.

* a save in bandwidth is huge on mobile speed, google believes that speed effects web use, web use effects revenue

* a save in bandwidth is cheaper for google

* att, verizon, sprint, and tmobile are limiting mobile data plans, smaller images means more web page loads

* net neutrality might fail, you might have to pay for data

* google runs a lot of content via app-engine, gmail + chrome, google should be able to make the switch for the stacks they own to develop an advantage.

* others will follow in adoption like facebook if it saves them on one of their largest costs cdns.

* openness an open format can go on more devices.

* open devices might appear faster on the web.

10 points by goalieca 5 days ago 3 replies      
I was hoping Jpeg2000 would take over because it is so flexible. It encodes really well at the low end and really well at the high end. You can target a specific file size and have it produce it. Instead of the blocking artifacts caused by the 8x8 DCT grid, you get smooth blurring.
6 points by acdha 5 days ago 1 reply      
I'd be very curious in seeing a comparison with JPEG-XR, which has a number of nice advantages for photography.
3 points by jessriedel 5 days ago 1 reply      
As a regular person, I really can't see a 40% decrease in size (of which I'm skeptical) for just jpeg images (not nearly the full "65% of the bytes on the web") being worth the huge switch-over costs. The ubiquity of jpeg is just too valuable.
3 points by jmspring 5 days ago 1 reply      
JPEG (and many image/video coding algorithms) are really made up of a couple pieces -- transform, modeling and entropy coding. In the case of JPEG, the transform is handled through breaking the image up into eight by eight blocks that are then run through the DCT and quantized. This is where the loss comes from.

Modeling and entropy coding are handled on the coefficients generated above. However, this is done on each 8x8 block (note, I am making a slight simplification ignoring the use of differential compression on the DC coefficients between blocks. Since the algorithm is relegated to encoding at most 64 coefficients at a time, there isn't much "modeling" that can be done.

If one reorders the coefficients of the 8x8 blocks to resemble a non-block based transform -- you can perform better modeling to get much better compression with the exact same image quality as the original JPEG image. However, in this case, you lose compatibility with a JPEG encoder since the format of the coefficients is not JPEG.

6 points by bediger 5 days ago 1 reply      
Won't the on-line Porn Industry have to adopt this for large scale adoption to take place?

I'd think that the size decrease alone would sell the Porn Industry.

2 points by nphase 5 days ago 1 reply      
But there is a loss in quality! The dithering is noticeably worse. Notice the light outline on that red-ish thing in the top middle of the image. I bet I could've gotten the 10kb decrease by just lowering the JPG quality.
2 points by jbarham 5 days ago 1 reply      
Given that most JPEG images are generated by digital cameras, I don't think WebP will get any traction until Canon, Nikon et al support WebP natively.

And hopefully attaching metadata to WebP images will be saner than it is for JPEGs.

3 points by shawndumas 5 days ago 2 replies      
Not sure about this one google. Firstly, Worst. Name. Ever! Secondly, what kind of browser support do they think they'll get? I know ie is covered via google chrome frame but will Apple and Mozilla jump on this? Both issues have alloyed this one on me.
3 points by pmjordan 5 days ago 1 reply      
Looks like they didn't bother to seize the opportunity to add an alpha channel. Being stuck with PNG for transparent/translucent images sucks.
2 points by sswam 5 days ago 1 reply      
The Jpeg shown is of a higher fidelity than the WebP image; look around the top edge of the red quadrilateral. In the Jpeg image, the edge is sharp, in the WebP image it looks a bit like the coloured sprinkles you might put on ice-cream. It would be better to show two versions of an image, having the same file size, so that we can look for any difference in quality.

Read more: http://news.cnet.com/8618-30685_3-20018146.html?communityId=...

2 points by MikeCapone 5 days ago 0 replies      
Our CPUs are so much faster than even a few years ago, but bandwidth hasn't increased that much (at least not here in Canada). I'd gladly trade some CPU cycles for bandwidth (or same bandwidth, but better quality).
1 point by Terretta 5 days ago 0 replies      
At 8 times longer to compress, this reminds of Iterated Systems FIF, but article claiming based on WebM suggests it's still DCT compression.

Adoption by just Flickr and Facebook could push a new image format fast.

Google has much to gain since they archive a copy of indexed images. Hence their interest in "recompression".

1 point by igrekel 5 days ago 0 replies      
The article is quite light so far. I am sure it brings other improvements than just a reduced file size. I would hope that at least some features of JPEG2000 would make it in this format. Maybe also a convenient way to pack several images in a single file without resorting to css clipping tricks.
2 points by drv 5 days ago 0 replies      
There's no way this will catch on; the slight image quality per bit improvement is not nearly enough to counteract the huge momentum of existing JPEG use. Certainly JPEG isn't the best possible image codec or even all that good, but it's good enough, and it works everywhere.
1 point by lazugod 5 days ago 1 reply      
There's a conversion tool available for WebP now: http://code.google.com/speed/webp/download.html
1 point by bartl 5 days ago 3 replies      
Why is the performance of PNG so disappointing? The WebP sample image from the article (top image) is shown here as a PNG of 234kB...
2 points by gshayban 5 days ago 1 reply      
With OLED/IPS etc. taking over in the next few years, will this really support >8bpp or HDR?

Interesting move, Google

1 point by sbarre 5 days ago 0 replies      
I love this site! Reading the comments here has taught me more about image compression in 45 minutes than I've learned from reading random articles on the web for the last few years...
0 points by sudonim 5 days ago 1 reply      
Please, if anyone can figure out a format so my mom doesn't attach 10 mb files that should be 750k, I'm all for it.
The Social Network Bust: What I learned from my job interview with Facebook thebitsource.com
197 points by msacks 2 days ago   86 comments top 16
17 points by lionhearted 2 days ago replies      
> What I slowly understood while I was talking with Tom Cook was that this was not a discussion on scalability on a macro scale, however it was it was discussion of scalability on a micro-scale. I was not prepared for some of these questions, since some of these questions were Computer Science fundamental. It took me a short while to re-calibrate myself, and try not to sound like I was bullshitting my way through an answer, and began some of my retorts with , “From my experience from C programming…”

I wonder if he could've answered, "Oh my, I spent two weeks preparing like crazy for this, but I was working and reading nonstop on scalability, and focusing more on showing you hands on what I can do on collabedit." Maybe he did, but it sounds like he just tried to play it off when the interview went in another direction - if you research/prepare like a madman, my god, you've got to let the interviewer know how dedicated you are and how much you want it. If the interview goes in a different direction than you planned for, you could still possibly guide it back towards what you're strong in, or at least get a mention in of how dedicated and prepared you are for this, and how much you want it.

37 points by neilk 2 days ago 1 reply      
It's good that the author prepared him or herself so thoroughly, but in my experience, someone like Tom Cook would not waste time asking a new candidate how to scale Facebook. That's like preparing for your interview with NASA by studying how they built the Space Shuttle. They know you aren't going to have experience there.

What they want are people who understand the fundamentals of how the computer and the OS works, who can diagnose problems correctly, who know modern sysadmin tools. They can teach you the ins and outs of their macro-scale systems on the job.

20 points by donaldc 2 days ago 1 reply      
The author/candidate may have ten years' experience, but he still sounds a little naive:

(1) He seems to have (twice) gone into intensive studying mode without first doing research on what questions facebook was likely to ask him at that stage. He seems to have instead guessed at what they were going to want to talk about.

(2) For a computer geek, the Facebook site/system resembled the UNIX system. And I just love NIX. Wall == wall command on unix. Message == mail. Photo and video viewing permissions was dependent upon groups or individual USER_ID rights. The thousands of external sites using an API to connect to the Facebook internals, reminded me of service ports on a given system.

^ These analogies are not useful from the perspective of actually understanding how facebook works.

Admirably, he has learned from his experience, and is taking steps to correct what he was probably lacking with respect to the position he wanted.

29 points by Swizec 2 days ago 6 replies      
Don't you just love it how often all of us practical programming types who are too cool for school, realise that getting a CS degree/education is pretty damn useful as soon as a real problem comes your way.
26 points by spicyj 2 days ago 1 reply      
I hope people don't start referring to Facebook as "The Social Network". It's the name of a movie and there's really no reason to use it instead of just saying "Facebook".
7 points by bhickey 2 days ago 0 replies      
I interviewed at Facebook in the August of 2009. I believe that I'm precluded from discussing the technical details of the interview and any secret sauce I may have seen (N.B. Mark Zuckerberg's office is a fishbowl in the middle of the office.) In the end, they decided not to offer me a position and I believe I'm better off for it. Without any reservations I can say that Facebook employs a lot of extremely bright people -- it sometimes feels like a terrible waste of intellect.

A friend at FB suggested that I apply for a Software Engineer position. I sent in my CV and was granted an initial phone interview with a recruiter. Unlike the anonymous article writer, I went into my interviews cold. After as bit of a funny phone interview -- at one point I answered a question by saying "I have no idea how <thing> works. I'd read the manual" -- I was granted an on-site interview. (It probably didn't hurt that I was in Palo Alto in preparation for some climbing at Tuolumne Meadows).

My first technical interviewer was whip-sharp, having worked with a well known programming language designer. The questions he asked were designed to assess my basic knowledge and problem solving abilities. About an hour after this interview concluded, I was phoned by the HR person to schedule a more in depth battery of interviews the following day.

The next day I met with four interviewers, each from a different group. Two of them were fabulous; enthusiastic and engaged. One stuck me as bored by the whole interview process. I overheard the fourth interviewer outside the room complaining to a co-worker about how his time was being wasted interviewing me. (Gee, thanks.)

Parts one and two went swimmingly. With one of the awesome interviewers, I flubbed an easy algorithmic design question. I set out on the wrong angle of attack, and he did a great job of nudging me back. I made my best of my talk with the grumbly interviewer and worked through an open ended problem that required some domain specific knowledge. Some interview practice wouldn't have hurt, but I don't think that there would have been a benefit from technical preparation.

After a few days out in Yosemite Valley I chatted with my initial HR contact who informed me that FB would not be making an offer. So it goes.

Sorry to keep things vague, I did agree not to give out their interview questions or engage in industrial espionage. If anyone has specific questions, I'd be happy to try to answer them.

10 points by Goladus 2 days ago 0 replies      
I've been in a similar position as this guy, and really-- you never know what goes on behind the scenes when you don't get hired. His feelings about what he may have missed might or might not be accurate. We have no idea what the other candidates looked like. That 20k number doesn't really mean much once you've made contact.
5 points by spudlyo 2 days ago 2 replies      
What is load exactly? What does it mean? Discussions on threads and processes. How can two processes communicate with one another?
I was not prepared for some of these questions, since some of these questions were Computer Science fundamental.

I enjoyed this article, and I rooted for the author to get the job, but I was somewhat confused by this part of the article. Perhaps the questions he mentioned weren't what he considered to be "Computer Science fundamental", but were there just for flavor. The questions mentioned seem more like Unix fundamental -- the load one in particular I ask almost every time I interview a sysadmin.

11 points by mycroftiv 2 days ago 5 replies      
From reading this post, it sounds like Facebook missed out on a hire it probably should have made. Commitment, motivation, intelligence, and learning skills are usually more important predictors of how someone will perform in a job than their pre-existing knowledge base. Of course, those things are very hard to measure through a standard application and interview process. At the same time, I am a bit surprised that questions about threads and interprocess communication were challenging for a senior systems engineer with ten years experience. Still, I think if I was in Facebook HR, after reading this blog post, I might decide to give the guy a call back and give him another chance, assuming it really was just his lack of knowledge about some technical issues that resulted in his rejection.
2 points by rogercosseboom 2 days ago 0 replies      
Having read many similar accounts of interviewing at Google I can't help but believe the two companies share the same hiring sentiment: they'd rather leave more qualified engineers on the table than risk hiring a bad one. If I were the OP I wouldn't (and it doesn't seem like he does) feel bad about it but instead use it as a determinant in viewing one's granularly-acquired skillset in contrast to the skillset involved in working at one of these gigantic companies. Its a good perspective to have regardless of if you end up working for them or not.
4 points by frou_dh 2 days ago 0 replies      
Nice piece. I don't think the writer can be faulted; (s)he prepared quite valiantly for the interviews.
2 points by DEinspanjer 2 days ago 0 replies      
I'd say that someone with the experience and interest that the author had would be exactly the type of person I'd like to interview for the Hadoop opening at Mozilla.
Finding someone who is always looking for new things to learn and ways to do so is unfortunately rare.
2 points by jmspring 2 days ago 0 replies      
A nice piece, indeed. From experience both as an interviewer and an interviewee, my favorite set of questions to be hit with (or bring up) are:

1) What have you done and what did you like/dislike about it?
2) What sort of an environment do you thrive in?
3) What is an area that has most challenged you and how did you deal with it?

Specific technical chops are one thing, but anyone who is smart enough will be able to/driven to pick up the areas where they may be lacking. For me, the real test is in what adversities/challenges have they run into/how they articulate it/and how did they get themselves out of it.

Someone who can't tell a story and can't convey how they dug themselves out of a whole will not meet my initial threshold. Specific solutions to specific problems (or brain teasers) that are likely to come up in an interviews provide a very minor insight into who the person is and what they can/can't do. For me, how they convey their experiences will tell much more.

2 points by nessence 2 days ago 0 replies      
I don't think interviewing for highly technical positions at Facebook could be "prepared" for, not especially, by reading so many books about high-level subjects (ex: Visual Basic).

A better approach would be books involving POSIX standards, implementations of all (current) OSI layers, compsci algorithms, how compilers work, and how various runtimes work for various interpreted languages and how to debug them (PHP, Ruby, Python, Obj-C, Java). None of these have anything to do with unix system administration, user permissions, shell scripting, or web servers.

"What I slowly understood while I was talking with Tom Cook was that this was not a discussion on scalability on a macro scale, however it was it was discussion of scalability on a micro-scale."

You maybe misunderstanding macro and micro; scale is a function of both, not one or the other.

2 points by epoxyhockey 2 days ago 2 replies      
I find it odd that Facebook solicited an application from the OP and then proceeded to run him through the usual interview process. Maybe that was a result of some FB script seeking more qualified applicants.

Either way, it seems that FB missed out on an opportunity. Scientists don't already know all of the answers to novel problems. And, someone can make a Phd look like an idiot if you quiz them on topics not related to their specific field of study.

Why are established computer scientists forced to take a week to study up for trivia-like interviews? I would expect trivia-like interviews for young professionals straight out of college. But, for more established professionals, it would seem that a "tell me about your achievements" discussion would be more applicable.

Hiring decisions are best weighted on the person as a whole, and less on the testing scores.

Edit: typo fix

3 points by lallouz 2 days ago 0 replies      
Nice piece. Of all of the take away's from this article, I think the author's outlook at the end is what is most important. Being able to learn and grow from an experience is so important, particularly in the tech field. Regardless of the outcome, no time was lost if it's spent increasing your knowledge base. Kudos.
Why read books if we can’t remember what’s in them? nytimes.com
195 points by mapleoin 5 days ago   102 comments top 48
74 points by melvinram 5 days ago 4 replies      
Key phrase: "reading creates pathways in the brain, strengthening different mental processes."

I've read a boat load of business books and I don't remember a lot of the specifics in the books but because the books often reenforced a lot of the same thoughts from different angles, I've got well formed mental pathways in my head, which help me in all kinds of situations. Same thing happens if you're a regular consumer of mixergy videos.

When faced with a decision, instead of thinking "Peter Drucker said to do this", I think "The right approach is probably... " because that is how my brain is now "wired" to think. It's kind of like self-brain-washing or creating marcos for your brain. You are what you read.

21 points by jseliger 5 days ago 2 replies      
A lot of the comments here about memory, recall, and learning are dealt with in Daniel T. Willingham's Why Don't Students Like School (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/047059196X?ie=UTF8&tag=...), which describes a lot of things, including how we move from a state of no knowledge to shallow knowledge to deep knowledge in particular problem domains. People with no knowledge and who have some introduced tend not to retain that knowledge well; people who have shallow knowledge tend not to connect that knowledge to other knowledge; and people who have deep knowledge can fit new information into existing schemas, webs, or ideas much more effectively than those who can't.

It's not an easy process, moving from one state to another, and it's also not a binary one. Willingham's focus is on how teachers can do this more effectively, but he also describes how people in general can or should.

I'm guessing that we can't remember books because many books give us relatively shallow knowledge and because most books have too many details for us to remember the finer points of them. But this probably changes over time: when I used to read fiction as a teenager or just after I started college, I mostly remember whether I liked the book or not. Now I'm in grad school for English and tend to remember the plots, how characters express themselves, the main conflicts in the novel and what those main conflicts signal, etc. So in reading Emma again this week, I realized that many of Austen's characters are actually judging themselves when they judge others, because their views of what is "right" or "proper" is mostly about preferences (and I actually wrote a post on the subject: http://jseliger.com/2010/09/29/jane-austen-emma-and-what-cha...). Now I'm likely to remember when Emma admits she's wrong and so forth.

Granted, I've read the novel before, but that happens with other novels too.

Finally, I now often write blog posts about books or take notes on them using Devonthink Pro as described by Steven Berlin Johnson: http://www.stevenberlinjohnson.com/movabletype/archives/0002... . This dramatically increases retention.

36 points by Arun2009 5 days ago 6 replies      
My key take-away from the article was this quote:

“There is a difference,” she said, “between immediate recall of facts and an ability to recall a gestalt of knowledge. We can’t retrieve the specifics, but to adapt a phrase of William James’s, there is a wraith of memory. The information you get from a book is stored in networks. We have an extraordinary capacity for storage, and much more is there than you realize. It is in some way working on you even though you aren’t thinking about it.”

IMO, this quote demonstrates a phenomenon I've long suspected to hold with the books that I read. The essence of a book's or an article's content is captured by a few key ideas and phrases (e.g., 'gestalt of knowledge', 'wraith of memory' in this case), but merely knowing these phrases is not enough. You need to read the entire book to have a sensation of the ideas getting fleshed out. The article on 'metrosexuals', the pamphlet on "the third estate", and the book on 'positioning' are other examples I can think of where this phenomenon plays out.

A rich 3-dimensional idea in the author's mind gets transformed into words. The words themselves are just information. You then fight with the words to reconstruct the idea with all its original potency in your mind. It is not necessary for you to recall every little detail of it unless you are an academic or specialist in the field.

28 points by rubashov 5 days ago 4 replies      
"Reading, after a certain age, diverts the mind too much from its creative pursuits. Any man who reads too much and uses his own brain too little falls into lazy habits of thinking."
-- Albert Einstein
4 points by grammaton 5 days ago 0 replies      
Okay, I'm just going to go ahead and say it then...

“Perjury” , “Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay”, “Taste for Freedom: The Life of Astolphe de Custine”. Anyone else notice how ponderously "literary" these books are? Is that how the author's choices run?

Because frankly, they all sound really, really boring. Perhaps it's a case of the author picking things to read because they think they "should" be reading them, instead of reading what they actually want or would enjoy reading. I know, I know, YMMV, but it seems to me like a lot of this is rationalizing the author's choice of "weighty" material.

I notice all the comments on here by people who are baffled by the idea of forgetting what one reads cite books that are more mainstream, less "important" and "literary", and more accessible - and probably enjoyable.

tl;dr the author may be forgetting what he reads because he picks boring reading material

11 points by mentat 5 days ago 1 reply      
I'm a little disappointed with the approach this article takes to it's main thesis, which is that the "majority" don't remember what they read. He writes "anecdotal evidence suggests" twice in the only part that justifies his own experience. Is this really the case? (Not that I'm going to get better than anecdotal evidence here.) There's a false dichotomy there too where either you retain everything or nothing.

For me I still remember the plot lines of books I read 20 years ago and why they were formative to my character. Is that really that unusual? Given these were mostly fiction and science fiction books, but the conceptual spaces they opened up for me are so key to who I am now it would be bizarre if I just "forgot" them. Just to cite one instance, the Dune series of books got me thinking about the intersection of politics, economics, the expansion of consciousness, ecology, the point of human existence, and other subjects. Surely other people here have had those same experiences and remember them?

5 points by T_S_ 5 days ago 0 replies      
Two reasons:

Reading is (or can be) a form of entertainment, so it doesn't matter.

Recall and recognition are two different things. For example, you can learn to recognize a face and still be terrible at describing it. The same applies to other forms of learning I'm sure. I guess that is what the fuzzy remarks about "reading changes you" and "recalling the gestalt" refer to.

6 points by Tangurena 5 days ago 2 replies      
I liken learning to throwing cooked spaghetti against the wall: some sticks, some slides off. The key to being smarter is to make more stuff stick to the walls, whether you can do that by making the knowledge more "sticky" or like what I do, which is to throw even more against the wall.

To twist a phrase from Glengarry Glen Ross: "ABL - Always Be Learnin'."

3 points by mattlanger 5 days ago 1 reply      
Memory and recall are not matters of direct lookup; our brains are not key-value stores. We usually don't request a memory by timestamp, but rather, memories more often than not make themselves known to us--absent any request or intervention on our part--after being triggered by other associated sense perceptions (consider the memories invoked by the smell of leaves on an early fall day, the sound of a song you haven't heard in a decade).

Anecdotally, at least, I very rarely (if ever) recall the details of a text by attempting to actively recall some specific fact, date, historical accident, or the like, but this by no means suggests that I have no memory of something I've read because it is so often the case that details I'd completely forgotten about return at the most unexpected times, triggered by the most unexpected stimuli.

3 points by dean 5 days ago 0 replies      
"I totally believe that you are a different person for having read that book," Wolf replied.

"It is in some way working on you even though you aren’t thinking about it."

"It’s there," Wolf said. "You are the sum of it all."

Although I intuitively believe these statements are true, they seem vague and unconvincing as an explanation for the phenomenon. Wolf is essentially saying: "It's all in there, trust me." It may not have been the intent of the article writer to get into the specifics of the neuroscience involved, but I was hoping for a little more of an explanation than this.

3 points by sp332 5 days ago 0 replies      
I've posted this quote before, but it seems especially relevant:

"Education is what is left after all that has been learnt is forgotten." -- James Bryant Conant

2 points by midnightmonster 5 days ago 0 replies      
I do remember much of what I read. I also have (what I take to be) an unusual quirk in that I'm very risk averse in reading--often I would rather reread a book I know I enjoy (and have gotten insight from) than risk an unknown. At first I thought that my retention might come from the rereading, but I'm not sure that's the case, since I have plenty of examples of remembering things after reading them once. In fact I think the rereading is caused by the retention: if what you read sticks in your head, a negative experience or a waste of time is that much more costly.
4 points by carlos 5 days ago 1 reply      
I had the same problem, and sometimes it's embarrassing to say you read a book but don't remember anything about it. I'm happy I'm not the only one.

I loved the one of the sentences in post "You are all what you read". I would also add "We read what we want to be".

(now starting to forget the post)

2 points by Maro 5 days ago 3 replies      
Same is true for movies. I don't remember most movies I watch. Eg. there was this one movie with Morgan Freeman, he worked at a car shop, smoked cigarettes, and he was diagnosed with cancer, and there was another big name in the movie, and I don't remember much after that. [After looking it up, it was Jack Nicholson and the title is 'Bucket List']. There's probably thousands of movies like this floating around in my head.
1 point by dsplittgerber 5 days ago 0 replies      
For non-fiction: Remembering key concepts is a lot easier if you try to apply what you've learned to other articles, books or even the news you read.

Try to actively remember what you recently read and how it fits with what you're reading now. Which point does the author make? Does it concur with what you've read before?

Active recall and the application of recently acquired knowledge to novel ideas garantuees remembering key concepts for far longer than otherwise. Also, thinking about key concepts in connection with various topics makes your brain rewire the information and you'll remember it more easily ever after.

3 points by dinkumthinkum 5 days ago 1 reply      
hm ... I don't have trouble remembering things in books I've read ... but that reminds me, why do we read the New York Times if it's filled with forgettable, inane rubbish? :) Seriously though, I rarely remember the jibber jabber I've read in rags.
3 points by dbrannan 5 days ago 0 replies      
My oldest boy (he is ten) just finished reading his first novel, which for him was quite an accomplishment. What my wife and I noticed after he finished the book was his writing skills improved significantly.
2 points by scotty79 5 days ago 0 replies      
If the book contains no ideas next month I hardly can remember about what it was.

If author of the book actually bothered to put some ideas in then I remember those ideas and usually the book in which I encountered them for many years. vide Iain M. Banks "Use of weapons", Orson Scott Cars "Ender's Game", Vernor Vinge "Fire upon the deep" or Henry Kuttner novels, Terry Pratchett "Nation"

If you don't remember the books you've read then change the books you are reading to some that have actual content not just crafty words.

2 points by jimbokun 5 days ago 0 replies      
I can't relate. Snippets of books I read years ago often pop into my head at various times. On the other hand, I'm often stumped to remember where I put down my notebook five minutes ago.
3 points by confusedcitizen 5 days ago 0 replies      
Why must everything end up being a utilitarian pursuit? I don't think it is surprising to many that the brain is plastic enough to absorb certain details subconsciously, but isn't it enough that the book engages us during the time we read it. Ideally, we would like all books to have a long lasting impression on us, but that question is on a slightly different note than the question being posed in the article.
1 point by robryan 5 days ago 0 replies      
Another point to add to this, I read many articles online every day and given the vague task of recalling these articles and what I took away from them I couldn't. But if I'm discussing a topic or listening to a talk on something everything relevant I've read feels front of mind again and allows me to draw new conclusions from what I've read that I wasn't really able to earlier without them all front on mind.

Really handy when, In a lot of topics relating to the kind of topics frequently on hacker news I can have long and insightful conversations with people where I have plenty to contribute myself.

7 points by richieb 5 days ago 1 reply      
Silly.... If you can't remember what you had for lunch last Monday, why eat?
2 points by gwern 5 days ago 0 replies      
> "A certain amount of knowledge you can indeed with average faculties acquire so as to retain; nor need you regret the hours you spend on much that is forgotten, for the shadow of lost knowledge at least protects you from many illusions."

--William Johnson Cory

2 points by ludwigvan 5 days ago 0 replies      
For the brave enough who wants to get better at reading, I can recommend (see Disclaimer below) Mortimer Adlers' "How to Read a Book" ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/How_to_Read_a_Book ). In the book, he talks about how to read a book properly (in summary, as suggested in the article, read TOC first, take notes, become active etc.) and the books one should read from the Western culture. Britannica sells the compilation with the title "Great Books of the Western World". (I am not in US, so excuse me if this is just common knowledge there, and many houses in US are filled with this collection.)

Disclaimer: Unfortunately, although I liked the book, I have been unable to apply the methods he suggested, due basically to "leaning".

1 point by csomar 5 days ago 0 replies      
Reading is good, but you shouldn't read a lot. You need to control yourself. Reading is addictive, but not-Reading is addictive too. I have been working with JavaScript lately and I found that as my code grows in size, I needed better patterns and methods. I read a book (OOP JavaScript). It was amazing. I liked it, read it again. I found out two other books and carried on reading.

After a while, I found myself addicted to reading. I always find myself telling "There should be a better approach, let's sharpen more our skills". But sharpening doesn't seem to have an end, actually it doesn't.

Bottom of the line, balance between reading and work. But never stop learning.

2 points by crystalis 5 days ago 0 replies      
1 point by robg 5 days ago 0 replies      
How much effort do you put in to reading Hacker News? If it feels easy, then you likely aren't doing much to change your brain.

Unless maybe you put in a bit of effort for years on end...there may be hope for some of us.

3 points by hanibash 5 days ago 0 replies      
I have a poor memory, and it's difficult for me to describe books to friends after having read them. But I know for a fact that they shape me. It comes out in the way I behave and the opinions I hold.
1 point by jollojou 5 days ago 0 replies      
This phenomenon of not remembering what I just read is familiar to me from the moments where I'm about to take an exam after a course. I usually go through the course material two or three times before taking the exam. Just before taking my place in the exam room, I test my self: "what were the five key points in chapter 3". Oh I can't recall them, I'm in trouble!

Fortunately the exams (at least in my university) did not focus on the student's ability to remember exact sentences or enumerate the "five bullets on chapter X". Like in real life, most of the exams required me to remember ideas and their implications, not exact phrases.

To sum, its not essential to be able to recall and speak out some random facts from a book. Its more important to comprehend what ideas were present in the book and what consequences those ideas might have on X or Y. Us humans are not computers but beings capable of creative thought.

1 point by Slashed 5 days ago 0 replies      
I'd say it depends on what and how one is reading.

It's not the same case when I read a programming book with examples, in contrast to novels. I tend to remember the former better because I'll usually try out most examples from the book.

2 points by mixonic 5 days ago 0 replies      
1 point by aheilbut 5 days ago 1 reply      
If you read a book a couple more times, you'll remember a lot more.
2 points by JoeAltmaier 5 days ago 1 reply      
This guy has some defect of memory. I remember plot, character, lines, ideas from books. Not all of it, but all the good bits.
1 point by jodrellblank 5 days ago 0 replies      
I asked a similar question on HN, and got some interesting replies, here: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=664383
1 point by 8ren 5 days ago 0 replies      
My reading has achieved unprecedented levels of unverifiable productivity

I have a terrible memory for arbitrary facts, but great for things I understand (thus, I seek the reasons behind the facts.)

Then I could then work it out from first principles, so I didn't need to remember it - a kind of data compression. But it's also true that understanding things is exciting and engaging for me, and therefore memorable. And in practice, I don't consciously work things out from first principles anyway; I just know them. They have become part of me, not as facts, but as part of the way I think.

1 point by ivanzhao 5 days ago 1 reply      
An analogy would be traveling in the brain jungle, where your conscious mind might not be able to recall the specific routes, your foot nevertheless leave marks in the jungle that make later traveling on the same paths easier or possible.
1 point by pbw 5 days ago 0 replies      
There is an easy analogy with food or exercise. The experience of eating a single meal or exercising a single day is forgotten, even while permanent changes to the body slowly accumulate.

Some people in this thread cite books they vividly remember from childhood. I suspect this is a result of the huge impact on a younger brain. In contrast a mature avid reader might have read 1000 books and an additional one is just not going to re-wire things as much even if the experience of reading it is richly rewarding.

1 point by lowdown 5 days ago 0 replies      
the book "How to Read a Book" describes the technique in his conclusion in excellent detail. It is essentially about owning the information you are consuming.

Personally I think this applies to non-fiction works only. At least in my personal reading. My brain doesn't need to store the details of fictional works. It seems like it actively discards "entertainment" items in favor of knowledge I need to pay the mortgage and feed the kids. I am much more deliberate with that information.

1 point by sabat 5 days ago 0 replies      
Because we get the gist of them; we experience books the way we experience life. We learn from both, regardless of whether we memorize specifics and details.
1 point by weel 5 days ago 0 replies      
When I saw the title I thought it was about Bayard's "How to Talk About Books You Haven't Read." (http://www.amazon.com/dp/1596914696)
1 point by SanjayUttam 5 days ago 0 replies      
As long as you can vaguely remember where you read X thing, you can always go pull the info back up. That's part of the reason I aggressively use social bookmarking services (namely, Diigo).

I also find it's helpful to have a high-level understanding of many things, especially when it relates to technical "stuff". If you have some understanding on how/when to apply an approach or technology, you can always dig up the details when it is pertinent.

1 point by albertzeyer 5 days ago 0 replies      
I only get this on the link: "For free access to this article and more, you must be a registered member of NYTimes.com."
1 point by doffm 5 days ago 0 replies      
I was happier when reading books. I understand that there might not be a causal effect here, but I believe that having something extended to occupy the mind is beneficial. Blogs, Twitter and online articles don't seem to have the same effect. Time to start reading again, even if I don't remember any of it.
1 point by klbarry 5 days ago 2 replies      
I don't relate at all - I believe I remember the content of every book I've ever read, and the main takeaways of it.
1 point by levesque 5 days ago 1 reply      
Why bother reading this article :)
1 point by known 4 days ago 0 replies      
"I have never let my schooling interfere with my education." --Mark Twain
1 point by c00p3r 5 days ago 0 replies      
Why do exercises if we can't stay in shape?
-4 points by Tichy 5 days ago 2 replies      
Maybe try reading more memorable books? I remember "Lord Of The Rings" :-)

Don't know the books he mentions, but the titles alone sound a bit like "I really should read this to prove that I am an intellectual".

The Dream Is Over: Music Labels Have Killed Their Digital Future yahoo.com
194 points by colinprince 21 hours ago   143 comments top 24
99 points by pg 20 hours ago replies      
I came to this conclusion myself about 6 months ago, after Dalton Caldwell spoke at a YC dinner. I realized it was basically hopeless to start startups that touch label music, because even the ones that seem to be succeeding (in the sense of not being sued out of existence) are only allowed to live so the labels can suck investors' money through them.

But by creating a startup-free zone around themselves, all the labels are doing is hosing themselves, because they won't have startups working to develop whatever would have been the new ways of delivering and using label music. They've created an anti-platform.

24 points by throwawaymuso 13 hours ago 1 reply      
This is a throw away account, I would prefer to remain anonymous. I work for a digital music startup and am privy to the kinds of tactics and ridiculousness that the major labels engage in on a regular basis. I should note however that I am a developer, not one of the guys that do the deal cutting as primary focus.

For example; they're well aware DRM does not work, but their insistence on the implementation of DRM is absolutely not focused anymore on the idea that they can stop piracy, but that they can implement market segmentation and suck the profit out of the kind of content that people actually want.

Case in point; digital music startup that charges a subscription for global access to a large library of content from the major labels charges a flat fee to the customer and is charged by the record labels on a pay per play basis, thus the effective margin that the startup makes is a function of (average amount of plays per user / subscription cost per month) - price paid to record label for the play. It turns out that if you do not use DRM for your player the record label leaves you around a 10% per play margin (on quite a hefty monthly subscription fee). With DRM it's much much more profitable for the startup in question, they bank on DRM being so repellent to customers that the startup will pay the much higher rate for DRM free.

They also micromanage the hell out of the details of implementation, for example they have a specific set of "acceptable DRM" standards which you must adhere to to be eligible for the rates in question. There have been negotiations running for months with them just to get approval to run the same kind of streaming clients as the web service provides available as applications to android / iPhone clients. When considering implementing AWS for site infrastructure one of the objections raised by the music companies was that "they don't want their music on the cloud".

Effectively it chokes what it is possible to do in the market, inflates the prices, and makes the entire offering far less appealing. It does seem like they're headed for destruction but they seem just as steadfast in their refusal to amend their course.

14 points by njharman 19 hours ago 0 replies      
The Dream was over a while back when digital music and Internet got popular. Apple iTunes store kind of brought it back except Apple as the dreamer not Record Labels.

The Dream being control over distribution. Selling over and over the same product. Selling lots crap (most songs on album) on the backs of 1 or 2 hits. Being the gatekeeper between artists and their fans. Near monopolistic control over supply and demand. All of it, a cash fucking cow.

Over, for the Record Labels. Although they're doing a damn good job at legislating their dream into law. Their government mandated welfare will live on similar to but more insidious than farm/corn lobbies subsidy program. And just like corn subsidy it(warping of copyright) will fuck the rest of us for decades.

7 points by agentultra 20 hours ago 3 replies      
The point about the labels doing it to themselves is probably only half the story.

The other half is the culturally ingrained phenomena of "the dream." Many artists jamming in their basements dream of "signing," and expect a big advance, tours, radio play, and all of that old-world stuff. Many today of course realize that there's the Internet and they can afford to distribute their work for pennies and market to their hearts desire; but even those artists generally still think that "signing" is the next, big logical step.

The big labels cannot change. The 80s and 90s left us with a market and taste for stadium tours, music videos, and times square billboards. Six decades of business have given us a model that requires a huge up-front investment for a risky, but lucrative return.

The problem is the returns are becoming scarce.

Yet I think big labels will continue to persist only because they're the loan sharks with the money. I think the author is pretty close to right that there's likely no one that will fund a start up that has anything to do with music. If you have an innovative idea that you think can improve the situation, create new markets, etc you'll have to do it on your own.

22 points by jbarham 21 hours ago 4 replies      
> Nobody’s going to pay Google $25 a year to store their music in a cloud.

I'd pay that to be rid of iTunes.

7 points by bambax 19 hours ago 3 replies      
Isn't this just wishful thinking? Everybody hates labels, and so wishes them dead (and for the record, so do I). But just because everyone wants them to die doesn't mean they will die.

Labels sit on content, and their monopoly is protected by the full force of the law. The number of startups in the field or the evilness of label people does seem a little bit irrelevant.

There is only one way labels can die: if they cease to have a monopoly on music content -- which means, either the world gets rid of copyright, or (young, new and aspiring) artists stop signing with labels.

None of this is happening anytime soon. (It may happen, but in a rather distant future.)

4 points by run4yourlives 16 hours ago 1 reply      
I don't know if it was just me growing up, but music changed dramatically right after Napster was forced to kill itself.

Perhaps someone else can support this: "Music" has never been the same since then. It seemed so much more available, so much more pervasive, more frequently invasive to my life; better than it is now.

Like I said, I've grown. But it seems that as the generation behind me moved online in a major way, the music didn't quite follow. Its not that you can't find great music these days, it's that - ironically - it is so much more difficult to do so.

I don't see this ever changing really. The blip that was the 20 century music industry is dead and gone, replaced with essentially a long tail market of grains of sand of that - occasionally if you look hard enough - has a couple of diamonds hidden away in obscurity.

But then again, maybe I'm just getting old.

9 points by endlessvoid94 19 hours ago 3 replies      
I would absolutely pay google $25 to store my music in the cloud. I have 150GB of the stuff and keeping it on my laptop has become impossible.
2 points by InclinedPlane 16 hours ago 0 replies      
The old guard is losing power, their business models are failing, their control is going away.

A new dream is starting. A different dream than the fantasy of being "discovered" by a major record label and becoming rich and famous overnight (which translated into a reality that often didn't quite match up to the dream, for the bands or for their fans). A new dream where increasingly many artists are bootstrapping themselves into making a living from their music without big record labels interfering with their creative process, sucking the bulk of the profits away with little in exchange, and adding layers of corporate bullshit between artists and fans. Instead, bands are connecting directly with fans, selling music directly to fans, producing their own albums on their own schedules and releasing them however they like for whatever prices they wish to charge, and making the lion's share of the profits for themselves.

This is happening right now. Spreading right now. Becoming the new way that music is produced and distributed. It's something to look forward to.

The music industry is dead! Long live the music industry!

1 point by Groxx 15 hours ago 0 replies      
>Nobody’s going to pay Google $25 a year to store their music in a cloud.

I probably would. $25/year for my collection would make it by far the cheapest file hosting available, and as I have a couple machines and a couple OSes, being able to consolidate everything, synchronize everything, and actually keep my ratings of songs across different systems would be wonderful. Most places I go I can stream music, so I wouldn't even need to keep most / any of it on my devices.

3 points by steveklabnik 18 hours ago 0 replies      
It seems to me like too many bands are trying to be startups. More bands should try to be lifestyle businesses.
1 point by elblanco 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Maybe the real answer is an entirely new label, having to start from zero (sign on new artists, establish new distribution channels, etc.), but with a corporate philosophy diametrically opposite the existing market and simply subvert the whole thing.

Small labels like https://www.candyrat.com/ are signing on new and growing artists.

it's not like the major labels have much in the way of good music to offer these days anyways

1 point by robryan 13 hours ago 0 replies      
Go me thinking, wonder how successful it would be if someone like apple wrote a program to determine people pirating music then sent then somehow got in contact to them with a link to buy, like the Microsoft anti piracy strategy with windows. On the whole would probably be more successful than the lawsuit path.

Another idea for a service, something that scans a computer for pirated music, lets a user select which albums they would like to buy and offers a big discount.

2 points by protomyth 18 hours ago 0 replies      
I still don't get how an artist actually makes money on a streaming service. It seems pretty good for the labels, but not for the artists. I know people say artist should make their money off other things, but their are some good artists who do poorly in a concert venue.
3 points by 66-75-63-6b 18 hours ago 0 replies      
This was a foregone conclusion when the labels set this policy several years ago. Clearly this former president of Grokster is still telling the same story.

An interesting bit of insider info I have - a relative of mine is a young Sony VP. Apparently their senior executive still wants their digital people to explain things in terms of 8 tracks and tapes. No exaggeration.

1 point by SkyMarshal 17 hours ago 1 reply      
Somewhat related, what's the status nowadays of un-DRM'ing music you've purchased, say from iTunes Store, to play on other players, particularly on Linux? Is it possible? What if you don't have access to Windows or OSX (to burn an non-DRM cd)? Legal?
1 point by stcredzero 17 hours ago 0 replies      
Nobody’s going to pay Google $25 a year to store their music in a cloud.

What if cloud hosting was bundled with MobileMe or the initial sale of an iPod? I bet Apple could get people to pay $12.50 additional hidden in the price of the iPod and $12.50 as an add-on.

1 point by olalonde 15 hours ago 0 replies      
How about funding a startup which would also act as a label? Long shot (you would need to sign big names) but the rewards would be huge.
2 points by ethank 20 hours ago 0 replies      
Personally, it's extremely simplistic to say that the labels aren't "changing"

The ecosystem, the market, and working with artists engenders a much more complicated landscape than one might think.

agentultra has some good points there.

1 point by pontifier 9 hours ago 0 replies      
God... This whole debacle is a true indicator that the patent office should just grant my patent already. I have a non-obvious solution that has solid legal grounding.

If anyone is interested I am going to be handing out a bunch of trial membership codes to interested parties in a few days...

1 point by oo7jeep 17 hours ago 1 reply      
So what will music look like in 5 - 10 years? Still just iTunes and streaming? Lets not forget labels aren't sustainable businesses in their current form.
-2 points by wyclif 13 hours ago 0 replies      
Remember Google Wave and Buzz?

Yeah, except the verdict on Buzz isn't in yet.

-2 points by henrikschroder 20 hours ago 5 replies      
Google music. Who cares? Oh right, you guys don't have Spotify.

I don't know anyone that has it that bothers with iTunes or actually buying music anymore. Get the free version, and get any music anytime and the occasional ad. Pay a few bucks a month, and you get any music anytime with no ads.

Your content is distracting users from ads fi.am
192 points by paolomaffei 2 days ago   48 comments top 12
29 points by patio11 2 days ago 3 replies      
Demand Media (and other ad-focused sites, but most remarkably their operation) understand this deep in their bones, which is why their content is to writing what chicken McNuggets are to chicken.
9 points by Groxx 2 days ago 4 replies      
Nah, I uninstall crashy apps. And I, for one, never plan on buying anything they produce: how can you not notice 10 days of your application failing to work, and only notice because you checked ad revenue? Sorta implies where their focus is, neh?

edit: Maybe this is part of the reason. Ratings from the iStore for the application in question:

  *****: 0
**** : 0
*** : 1
** : 5
* : 9

Several other applications have similarly-weighted ratings, reports of crashing, etc, though a couple are higher. Color me disinterested.

10 points by jacquesm 2 days ago 5 replies      
This is why there are many websites that split their 20 paragraph articles over 10 pages, the lower the actual content on a page the bigger the chance of a click on an ad, and the bigger the total ad inventory.

Conversely, if your content is too compelling nobody will ever click on an ad.

6 points by owyn 2 days ago 0 replies      
A former employer (and this is one of the many reasons I don't work there any more) was well aware of this and took advantage of it all the time. Just to give one example, their 404 error was a page of ads...
1 point by protomyth 2 days ago 0 replies      
It could also be that the user thought, since there was no content but the ad, that the app had switched to one of those "click the ad before seeing the story" type things and clicked the only thing available to get the working data.

Also, what kind of programmer doesn't have checks in data acquisition code to make sure it is valid and immediately alert someone when it is not?!?

2 points by justinchen 2 days ago 0 replies      
This concept works great for custom 500 and 404 pages. Put an Adsense for Search box and make money when you're not able to serve something else.
1 point by lwhi 2 days ago 0 replies      
I think this phenomenon is mainly about UX and IxD. If there's only one route presented to the user .. many of the users are likely to choose the single route presented to them.

Perhaps this is a trite point, but I'd argue that it's a good example of how presentation of advertising should be included as a key part of any UX and IxD strategy.

2 points by lhnz 2 days ago 0 replies      
Those people will leave in anger. Why would they ever use his service again?
1 point by Tichy 2 days ago 0 replies      
Isn't that just the same as all the spammy grabbed domains? Get a good domain name, put ads on it. I've heard some people make good money with such sites.
1 point by code_duck 2 days ago 0 replies      
That's the click through ratio, but what about the click counts?
1 point by chr15 2 days ago 0 replies      
This reminds of a problem that many publishers have with Facebook's ad platform. Users are too engaged with the content to click on the ads.
1 point by auxbuss 2 days ago 3 replies      
Server error.
Scratched glasses give perfect vision for any eyesight newscientist.com
181 points by ph0rque 1 day ago   49 comments top 13
28 points by bd 1 day ago 2 replies      
Curiously, company site [1] seems to be already pretty old (all info points to 2006, domain was registered in 2004) and it describes pretty much the same technology.

So New Scientist got it wrong when telling startup was founded just now to commercialize it.

I wonder why it didn't catch on (if this approach is really so good). It does sound a bit "too good to be true".

[1] http://www.xceedimaging.com/

9 points by ggchappell 1 day ago 3 replies      
This is amazing.

It seems to me that the given explanation ("patterns of both constructive and destructive interference") would depend strongly on the exact frequency of the light. So maybe it is not correctly stated.

However, the basic claim seems accurate. Here is Zalevsky's paper:


You have to pay to get the full text, but the abstract says:

> This technology is capable of simultaneously correcting all refractive errors, such as myopia, hyperopia, presbyopia, regular/irregular astigmatism, as well as their combinations.

My goodness.

Curiously, the abstract suggests that this idea is "designed to employ neural adaptation processes". It also says that the effect "is achieved by exploiting the capacity of the visual system for adaptation to contrast".


8 points by mey 1 day ago 6 replies      
Currently my brain is wired to have focus one on area at a time. It must be a trip to have an entire field of view in focus all at the same time. Especially if you are looking at something in the near-field and the far-field is two wildly separated visual images.
5 points by blahedo 1 day ago 2 replies      
Hope for even better:

"Fixed in a pair of glasses, the lenses would not move as the eye looked in different directions, so the focusing effect would be lost in the regions between the circles. But Zalevsky says that the eye learns to fill in the gaps as it moves from one engraved structure to another, generating a continuous effect."

This implies to me that once they cleverly figure out how to embed this tech in something like a contact lens, it wouldn't have to "fill in the gaps" and would grant perfect vision in the full vision field. Wild.

2 points by tokenadult 1 day ago 0 replies      
Whew! Some great comments here already. This article more than most needs a reference to Peter Norvig's online reminder


about how to check out reports about supposed scientific findings to see if the reports are really accurate.

2 points by icegreentea 1 day ago 2 replies      
I'm a bit confused. In order for everything to appears perfectly focused, doesn't the glasses have to generate light rays that are just out of focus enough so your lens refocuses it correctly? So the patterns would have to be calibrated for your degree of myopia or whatever?
2 points by bittersweet 1 day ago 0 replies      
I have pretty bad eye-sight and experienced something like this when I was younger, although I don't know if it's the same principle. I had on swimming goggles and the moment I went underwater I had perfect vision in both eyes.
1 point by dlnovell 1 day ago 1 reply      
My mother in law is an optometrist and I sent her the link - she doesn't seem too impressed:

"The immediate problem I see with this is that people can already see with their distance correction anything that is 33cm (83.82")(6.9 ') from their eyes to infinity. The problem that bifocals fix is the distance from 20" to the eyes or near vision! I don't know if this person is over 40 or not, but if so he should realize this. This type of technology is similar to what a progressive or "no-line" bifocal does at present."

2 points by gokhan 1 day ago 0 replies      
I got a lazy eye. Contrary to the article headline, nothing can give perfect vision for my eyesight.
2 points by JonnieCache 1 day ago 2 replies      
Now please apply this to speaker drivers so we can have huge rooms filled with flat 110dB sound, with consistent SPL across the spectrum no matter the listeners position relative to the speaker :)

Seriously, it does remind me a bit of Turbosound's polyhorn system, see page 8 here: http://bit.ly/dxEYrB

1 point by ck2 1 day ago 1 reply      
I saw something on CBS news this morning about how they can now put a kind of contact lens INSIDE your eyes. And the woman they used as an example was able to see again only seconds after the surgery was finished. It was amazing.
1 point by nileshtrivedi 1 day ago 1 reply      
Wow! This is seriously cool.

Speaking of augmenting our sensory capabilities, has there ever been any work done on making hearing a voluntary sense? Always-on hearing had some evolutionary advantage in the past but it may be an interesting experiment to put this in one's own control.

0 points by srean 1 day ago 0 replies      
Isnt that a Fresnel lens ?
They have been around for a while. I remember some plastic ones come free with books that have very fine print.

So was the novelty of it all putting them on eye glasses ?

So, that was a bummer foursquare.com
178 points by abraham 17 hours ago   84 comments top 16
24 points by brown9-2 16 hours ago 4 replies      
Interestingly the cause of the most severe part of their downtime seems to still be unknown to them:

As a next step, we introduced a new shard, intending to move some of the data from the overloaded shard to this new one.

We wanted to move this data in the background while the site remained up. For reasons that are not entirely clear to us right now, though, the addition of this shard caused the entire site to go down.

To those who use MongoDB - does this sound like something that might have been caused by MongoDB itself, or Foursquare's use of it?

16 points by waxman 16 hours ago 2 replies      
The site just went down again, awkwardly enough, only moments after they published their post-mortem on yesterday's outage.

Clearly, as their blog post indicates, they were unable to trace the root problem.

To me, the worst feeling in the world as a developer is when there's a major bug in your production site, and you can't figure out exactly why it happened. Then even after you get the site working there's that pit in your stomach of "what if it strikes again?"

19 points by dmytton 14 hours ago 0 replies      
This posting in the MongoDB mailing list provides more detail from the developers:


12 points by sabat 16 hours ago 3 replies      
I like the NoSQL approach as an option. But we should keep in mind: operationally, these databases/stores are comparatively new, and don't have the years and years of use that would help find and solve problems like this. It reminds me of Ebay's 3-day downtime in 1999 -- based on an Ebay mistake and an Oracle bug. Although Oracle had been around for a while in 1999, OLTP was still new, and, hence the bug.

I'm not blaming a flat-out bug in this case (the cause of the severe part is still unknown?), but it could also be architectural or operator error.

8 points by blantonl 16 hours ago 0 replies      
we noticed that one of these shards was performing poorly because a disproportionate share of check-ins were being written to it.

I'd love to know the root cause behind this specific issue. Was this a behavioral issue within the user base, or a technical problem that routed check-ins to this specific shard more than others?

Since they mentioned they partition their shards by userId that would probably rule out their routing process. I wonder if there was some event that caused a certain sharded subsection of users to start sending so many checkins?

And since this was a subset of userIds on the same shard - could this have been a targeted DOS or SPAM event?

I'm making a very conscious migration to MongoDB so I'm very interested to hear what the root cause of this was.

13 points by marclove 16 hours ago 2 replies      
Well I have nothing constructive to add, but it certainly makes me rethink using MongoDB in any sort of serious production environment. I've been hesitant to use MongoDB for this very reason...what happens when things go wrong? I'm certainly not an expert in how to handle those situations, and there aren't very many of those experts out there. Unfortunately for Foursquare, they got caught with their pants down, not having someone on staff who really understands all the ins & outs of a database technology their entire service depends upon.
4 points by bhiggins 14 hours ago 0 replies      
If there's anyone from Foursquare here, I'm interested in what monitoring you have in place. How long had the shard been poorly performing before you noticed? Do you use anything to monitor MongoDB in particular, or load on servers, anything like that?
2 points by smoody 16 hours ago 2 replies      
What I don't understand is this: Why do companies (like four square, twitter, etc) wait until after their first multi-hour crash before instituting a "this is how we'll communicate to users when we have downtime" process? I would assume that everyone has learned from twitter's historical mistakes at this point. I would argue that startups -- especially startups that deal with large numbers of transactions per day -- start with code and policies for communicating downtime issues first and launch the product second.
1 point by Sukotto 16 hours ago 0 replies      
Well, that's another example for the "dangers of making untested changes to your production environment" pile. Of course, people rarely feel the need to post when everything works out...

Sucks that such a popular service had such trouble. I look forward to reading any additional posts they write explaining in more detail exactly what happened.

7 points by trustfundbaby 15 hours ago 1 reply      
"but... MongoDB is web scale."

--- commenter

1 point by haberman 15 hours ago 2 replies      
Having to manually shard your data seems like so much work when offerings like App Engine will take care of that for you. It seems like exactly the kind of thing that you shouldn't have to think about when you're trying to get a business off the ground.

I can see the lock-in concerns with AppEngine, but an AppEngine level of abstraction seems so much more appropriate than manually deploying/configuring an entire infrastructure of proxies, load balancers, web servers, etc. Especially when an error can take down your whole site, like in this example.

9 points by lipnitsk 16 hours ago 0 replies      
Ironically, the servers are being "upgraded" again, as we speak.
1 point by jscore 5 hours ago 1 reply      
I'm so happy they're back up, here I was thinking the world would come to a screeching halt when people cannot check-in to places.

Seriously though, are they THAT important?

3 points by cagenut 13 hours ago 0 replies      
I notice foursquare.com resolves to ec2, was the mongodb that got overloaded also on ec2? Can you tell us in what way did it get "overloaded" (iowait, mem/swap, raw-cpu)?
0 points by ankimal 10 hours ago 1 reply      
Firstly, as a free user you really shouldn't be asking for HA. (I m assuming their paid customer are kicking some butt as I speak .. or maybe not .. the site is back up :)).

However, as a business you really want to give ALL your customers HA. Its not just a reputation thing, its a "we love you all equally" kinda attitude.

As for MongoDB, we ve been using in production for small insignificant things. FWIW, they have replication http://www.mongodb.org/display/DOCS/Replication and some cool new features like Replica Sets for failover and redundancy. Maybe they missed a trick?

I think the apology post was totally fair and he did categorically mention ".. This blog post is a bit technical. It has the details of what happened, and what we’re doing to make sure it doesn’t happen again in the future.". They could have dilly-dallied with words and said "we had a technical failure of a data nature" and that would have been just been plain stupid. So thanks for the detailed technical write up and hope there is more to follow.

-1 point by dotBen 15 hours ago 2 replies      
For a service that is trying to be 'mainstream' I think their blog post is horrible.

There is no way a 'regular user' is going to understand what a shard is, nor should they care. Ok, they explained sharding in laymans terms but then went on to talk about "reindexing the shard to improve memory fragmentation issues"... Woah, that means nothing to 95% of users.

If you experience down time and you want your users to be sympathetic then you got to explain whats going on in terms they will understand. Sure, include a technical explanation at the bottom for those inclined, but not as part of your main body.

'The Social Network': reviewed by Lawrence Lessig tnr.com
179 points by eugenejen 4 days ago   81 comments top 11
36 points by gruseom 4 days ago 5 replies      
I just got home from watching the movie, fired up HN and was pleased to see this review. But now I'm wondering if Lessig and I watched the same movie. I don't think it portrays the Zuckerberg character as evil or the others as victims.

The Winkelvii, as the movie hilariously calls them, seem indignant not so much that their idea was "stolen" as that the geek refused to know his place, which presumably was to code things up for them in exchange for token equity. They're not bad guys, but they're angry that their skewed view of the world, with them naturally at the top, turns out wrong. The movie does not make it seem like the Zuckerberg character owes these dudes shit or that they could ever in 65 million years have created Facebook. They thought of an exclusive friends website merely because they were steeped in exclusivity to begin with. Only the Zuckerberg character grasps its real power. That's the meaning of the lightbulb moment where a friend asks him about a girl and he suddenly sees "relationship status" as a way for Facebook to address this need.

The Saverin character (marvelously acted, by the way - who is that guy? - his emotional vibrancy is remarkable) is sympathetic but clueless, doggedly trying to turn Facebook into a small business that ekes out a bit of ad revenue. His dream for Facebook is that it be allowed to join the business club the way he personally craves admission into a prestigious student club. His happiest moment is when he gets an executive title; his main frustration that more mid-level ad execs don't throw him a few bones. The movie makes it clear that despite being "the business guy" he has no understanding of the business, whereas the Zuckerberg character grasps it instinctively, spends half the movie trying to explain it to him and finally gives up. On this point I think the movie gets startups right. I was rather astonished by that. The other point on which it gets startups -- and Facebook's significance as a startup -- right is in its emphasis on the founder as CEO. The contrast between Parker as the dot-com era founder who got deposed and Zuckerberg as a new generation of founder who retains control is pretty impressive historical precision on the part of filmmakers who presumably don't know much about startups.

(Incidentally, it also gets technical details right: the references to wget and Emacs in the opening scene made my jaw drop for a moment.)

As for Saverin, the movie consistently implies that he could never have remained part of Facebook, not because Zuckerberg is evil but because the abyss between the two of them is huge. Indeed, the tragic inevitability of their split is the core plot of the movie. (The Winkelvoss twins are mostly comic relief, and boy did those actors nail that.) It does, however, portray Saverin getting screwed out of his Facebook stock and Zuckerberg not doing anything about it; that was perhaps the one evil moment.

Even the Sean Parker character is only half-bad. He's a bad boy, but that's a dramatic device: the movie badly needs some shaking-up by the time Timberlake appears and his character comes with the trickster energy to do it. Beyond that, though, the Sean Parker character is the only one who gets what Zuckerberg is doing, the only one who gives consistently good advice, and the one who acts as a midwife to Facebook's birth as a real startup.

As for the Zuckerberg character, he's portrayed as an intense Asperger type who cares more about his vision than he does other people, but also more than money. The movie flirts with but eventually abandons the idea that he's motivated by petty revenge. His obsession is with making Facebook as big as it can get. I've never seen Zuckerberg as an Aspie type (and thought the actor overdid that aspect, going out of his way to hold the same furrowed expression the entire movie), but the obsession with making something great and refusal to let anything stand in its way are classic entrepreneurial qualities that the movie grants to Zuckerberg fully.

I think Lessig is wrong about the trite moral he thinks the movie is imposing on the story. The movie doesn't advance that interpretation, it vividly portrays some of the characters advancing it. That's totally different. The movie per se isn't concerned with individual characters. Everyone is granted his/her perspective but no one has any absolute status. What it's about is The Social Network, not the online one, the real one.

I went to this movie grudgingly and left surprised by how bad I didn't find it. Guess I shouldn't be, since David Fincher is my favorite working director (or would be if I could forget the execrable Benjamin Button); as Bob Mondello said on NPR the other night, I'd pay to watch him direct the phone book. Beyond that, the acting is unusually good all the way down to the cameos (except the Zuckerberg actor is too monotone). Where I really disagree with Lessig is about the writing, which he loved and which to me was ok-with-awful-bits: it's smart the way that "smartass" is smart and has way too many TV zingers. (Even those, though, were toned down from the script that was leaked. That horribly contrived line everyone was quoting a few months ago where a girl tells Zuckerberg that girls will always hate him because he's an asshole, I'm happy to report, never made it into the film. [<-- edit: oops! wrong!] Fincher has taste.)

18 points by anigbrowl 4 days ago 3 replies      
As someone who has often cheered Lessig's opposition to the status quo, I am greatly puzzled by this piece.

Did Zuckerberg breach his contract? Maybe, for which the damages are more like $650, not $65 million. Did he steal a trade secret? Absolutely not. Did he steal any other “property”? Absolutely not—the code for Facebook was his, and the “idea” of a social network is not a patent. It wasn’t justice that gave the twins $65 million; it was the fear of a random and inefficient system of law.

If we take Lessig's factual assertions about the originality of the code as face value, it still seems as if Zuckerberg ripped off a lot of ideas that were shared in confidence, and repeatedly deceived the originators of those ideas into thinking that he was working diligently on their behalf.

I can't understand Lessig's criticism of the system as stated. It is not as if these ideas were found by Zuckerberg on a Usenet forum or overheard on the bus, and the Winkelvoss twins then went after him with an army of copyright lawyers; some sort of proposal was followed by some sort of agreement, and Zuckerberg was given access to the fundamentals of a business plan and the existing work product of two other programmers. Perhaps Zuckerberg had already had a vision for Facebook and simply accelerated his schedule in order to get it to market first; but if so, one wonders why he was wasting time on taking meetings for programming jobs.

What does Lessig consider the twins should have done instead? Would he be on their side if they had drafted a proper contract, NDAs, and stamped everything they ever put on paper with the words 'Property of ConnectU, hands off'? Or is it that he doesn't consider their idea sufficiently distinctive to be protectable by the legal system? Because he never articulates quite what he means, I'm left with the impression that Lessig considers the commons to extend to any exchange of an incomplete or unrealized idea, without regard for the context in which that exchange takes place. By this interpretation, the notion of a 'gentleman's agreement' is obsolete, what you own is limited to what you can control, and any lapse in total secrecy is your loss to bear.

Indeed, I saw this view expressed repeatedly during the fuss over the iPhone prototype earlier this year. Many considered the finder of the device the new owner, regardless of his legal obligations and his knowledge of exactly who had lost it. The value the finder, and subsequently Gizmodo, sought to derive from their possession of it stemmed from the very confidentiality and general unavailability of such prototypes. But many considered possession to be fully equivalent to ownership (on a moral if not a legal level), conferring the right to exploit what one possessed to the fullest extent possible. Quite why legal technicalities of a search warrant issued shortly afterwards should have offended their sensibilities so greatly, I can't say - they certainly weren't bothered by any statutory considerations, so it must have been to do with some inexcusable lapse of style by the police.

If we are not bound to respect each other's property or confidence by anything less than our full contractual agreement, does Lessig then see progress as the outcome of an arms race between zero-sum competitors? Why should I not steal his car if he steps out of it and leaves his keys in the ignition, and place the blame upon 'the system' if Lessig summons a policeman to his aid? The value of his car stems from its current configuration as a vehicle, and Lessig is arguing that designs do not belong to anyone in particular. the materials which make up the car - some steel, rubber and various kinds of plastic - are mere commodities, and at most I have laid hands upon some junk which just happens to be organized into the shape of a vehicle at present. If I drive it away and wrap it around a tree, what has Lessig lost? With enough time and ingenuity, he could reassemble the wreckage into a working automobile: others have done no less, so why does he feel entitled to have his idea of a car actualized at someone else's expense, just because it existed independently in the recent past?

You don’t even have to possess Zuckerberg’s technical genius to develop your own idea for the Internet today. Websites across the developing world deliver high quality coding to complement the very best ideas from anywhere.

Unless, of course, they decide to launch against you as a competitor instead, in which case you had best resign yourself to basking in the reflections of their glory.

Given the midnight byline on the post, I cannot help wondering if this was written with the assistance of a post-premiere cocktail. I hardly feel he would ignore such gaping holes in any counter-argument.

31 points by waterlesscloud 4 days ago 3 replies      
This is not a "review" so much as it is Lessig explaining why the internet is different, and why it is important, and why it matters to you. Especially to you, reader of Hacker News.

Reading this review has further improved my opinion of Lawrence Lessig.

11 points by bokonist 4 days ago 2 replies      
Imagine a jester from King George III’s court, charged in 1790 with writing a comedy about the new American Republic....

It annoys me that in a piece attacking Sorkin for having a cartoon vision of the world, Lessig uses an analogy with a cartoon understanding of the world himself. The British monarch in 1790 did not have court jesters, they were long gone ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jester ).

9 points by puredemo 4 days ago 0 replies      
This review doesn't make much sense to me. As another commenter claimed, I wonder if we even saw the same film. All the complaints that Lessig makes are clearly addressed in the movie.

For starters, it's not at issue here whether the Winkelvii deserve $65M. The film makes it abundantly clear that they do not. They are simply payed off (at a cost comparable to that of a speeding ticket per one character) for expediency, as Zuckerberg would not appear sympathetic to a jury.

The lawyers are not presented in the film as wise elders. I certainly don't recall them having any better comebacks than the younger characters. If anything, the lawyers are frequently presented as sharks; amoral, chaotic neutral characters who try to glean assets from the younger entrepreneurs at every opportunity.

Lessig goes on to conclude that the real story here is not Zukerberg's drive, that instead the film should really be about platform, the internet itself. But this is not a film about how neat the internet is, whether Lessig thinks it should be or not. It is about Zuckerberg and his dogged ambition. It's about the steps he took to develop and expand his creation into a worldwide phenomenon. Obviously the internet made that possible, but to denigrate the film because the internet itself wasn't its central thematic focus seems obtuse.

13 points by rblion 4 days ago 1 reply      
It's fair to say that Mark is the Bill Gates of our generation. A technical prodigy with limited social skills that saw a boundless opportunity and just took the leap. Now he is rich, powerful, and hated.

He is not a murderer or a saint. Just a dude who wanted to win more than anyone else.

No idea is 100% original and are usually the sum of many great ideas that already existed.

People who didn't take the leap fully just blamed him/sued him instead of trying to build something better. I bet you most of them couldn't if they tried.

13 points by patrickaljord 4 days ago 3 replies      
The problem with that movie is that it seems to describe Mark as both evil and a genius hacker. I think he's neither.
1 point by qjz 3 days ago 0 replies      
Zuckerberg faced no such barrier. For less than $1,000, he could get his idea onto the Internet. He needed no permission from the network provider. He needed no clearance from Harvard to offer it to Harvard students. Neither with Yale, or Princeton, or Stanford. Nor with every other community he invited in. Because the platform of the Internet is open and free, or in the language of the day, because it is a “neutral network,” a billion Mark Zuckerbergs have the opportunity to invent for the platform.

This doesn't ring true to me. It is the lack of true freedom on the Internet that makes Facebook such an enormous success. If ISPs allowed users to connect to the Internet without any restrictions, it's quite possible they would be running the equivalent of web/mail/chat servers on their home computers, and a true social network might have evolved. As it is, such innovation is restricted to a much smaller group of individuals whose entrepreneurial motivations will impose even more restrictions on users (for example, web sites are springing up that require Facebook authentication, totally eliminating the choice to opt out of Facebook).

2 points by apotheon 4 days ago 0 replies      
Lessig tells a good story, and makes important points about the power and value of an Internet free from stifling regulation. He mistakes the source of at least half the regulation, though, and casts a scurrilous, unethical bastard of an entitlement-culture entrepreneur as the hero of his tale.

Success is not the sole measure of heroism. Private enterprise is not the sole source of stifling regulation. Let's find a better hero of Internet-based entrepreneurial spirit and wildly successful efforts to get ahead of the curve (such as Paul Graham, oddly enough), and let's not minimize the efforts of government to screw over the openness of the Internet by chalking it all up to caving in to corporate interests.

Last I checked, corporate interests had little benefit to gain from granting the Executive branch of US government the power to "shut down" the Internet, for instance.

3 points by mycroftiv 4 days ago 2 replies      
That is not a "review" so much as it is Lessig expressing hero-worship of Mark Zuckerberg and attempting to minimize the numerous substantive charges of unethical behavior that have been directed at Zuckerberg. The summation paragraph begins "Zuckerberg is a rightful hero of our time. I want my kids to admire him." I don't have an opinion about the movie (haven't seen it), but reading this review has greatly reduced my opinion of Lawrence Lessig.
0 points by liuliu 4 days ago 0 replies      
I have a problem to understand how the non-dilute share works as described in the movie. Personally, I was told that the construction is very hard since the valuation changes each round.
Where My Money Goes: A visual receipt for your taxes. wheremymoneygoes.com
179 points by theli0nheart 4 days ago   81 comments top 30
31 points by theli0nheart 4 days ago 4 replies      
I made this last night after being inspired by http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=1302494...

All the calculations are done with Javascript. Let me know what you think!

18 points by SMrF 4 days ago 5 replies      
Can you put little voting arrows next to the line items so I can vote up NASA and vote down defense spending? Oh wait, representative democracy. Damn.
8 points by rossriley 4 days ago 1 reply      
Ok, just a little fun but for reference here's a comparison of US to UK based on US taxes of $10,000 and UK taxes of about the same (£6,350.50)

The comparison goes roughly like this, obviously the UK figures are less detailed so I've grouped some of the US expenditure where I think appropriate, correct me if you see any errors.


UK: Pensions £1,459.32 ($2,310.61) + Welfare £705.73 ($1,117.42)

Total= $3,4328.03

US: Social Security: $1908.03 + Housing $133.78

Total = $2,041.81


UK: Healthcare £1,453.33 ($2,301.13)

Total = $2,301.13

US: Medicare $1274.89 + Medicaid $816.32 + Healthcare $221.62

Total = $2,312.83


UK: Education £364.83 ($577.65)

Total = $577.65

US: Education $131.50

Total = $131.50


UK: Defence £532.29 ($842.80)

Total = $1,117.42

US: Defense $1869.09 + Veterans Affairs $147.84

Total = $2,016.93


UK: Protection £197.37 ($312.50) - nb. (Includes Police Services, Fire-Protection Services, Law Courts, Prisons,Public Order and Safety)

Total = $312.50

US: Homeland Security $123.76 + Department of Justice $67.31 + Potential Disaster Allotment $30.73

Total = $221.80


UK: Transport £161.48 ($255.67)

Total = $255.67

US: Transportation $204.17 + Public Engineering $14.33

Total = $218.50


UK: General Government £155.50 ($246.21)

Total = $246.21

US: Department of State $145.26 + Department of Energy $74.05 + Department of Agriculture $73.21 + Treasury $37.45

Total = $329.97


UK: Interest Paid £334.92 ($530.29)

Total = $530.29

US: Interest on National Debt

Total = $461.64


UK: Other Government Spending £616.02 ($975.37)

Total = $975.37

US: NASA $52.67 + Commerce $38.84 + Labor $37.45 + Natural Parks $33.79 + Environmental Protection Agency $29.57 + National Science Foundation $19.69 + National Infrastructure Bank $14.06 + Community Service $3.08 + Small Business $1.93 + Bureaucracy $1.54 + Everything Else $55.75

Total = $125.62


Miscellaneous mandatory programs $1606.83

Wasn't sure what this included, maybe US readers can shed some light upon how this might relate to the above sections. Obviously the main mismatch is in the other government spending so maybe most of that belongs in there.

Anyway not exactly like for like but may be an interesting excercise.

8 points by hugh3 4 days ago 3 replies      
Wow, very nicely designed, and I love how fast it is.

Some clarification on a few of the entries would be nice if you have time. For instance, what does "Healthcare" mean once Medicare and Medicaid are excluded? And what's the difference between "compulsory" and "discretionary" spending (when surely the government could eradicate the compulsory stuff if it wanted to). Perhaps you could have explanations of each term if you click on 'em?

Also having "miscellaneous" as the third highest number is a little unsatisfying, can you break that down a bit more?

But these are nitpicks, nice work!

4 points by karzeem 4 days ago 1 reply      
Ha, these calculators have had a great past 24 hours. I made one today too: http://taxes.kareemshaya.com

You did a very nice job with the receipt vibe.

3 points by dfranke 4 days ago 0 replies      
You should change "total" to "subtotal", and have the full total include how much extra you'd have to pay in order offset the deficit. Then at the bottom, "balance outstanding": your share of the public debt.
5 points by simon_ 4 days ago 1 reply      
I don't think this is right... FICA is capped, so my social security contribution should not scale linearly with income.
2 points by jacoblyles 4 days ago 1 reply      
I need to remember this for the next time someone tells me my desire for lower tax rates means I must not desire roads, police, and fire fighters. It's remarkable how little of the tax burden of a modern state actually goes towards essential services. A modern country could probably be run with single-digit taxes. You would be missing things like a space program, science subsidies, farm subsidies, and socialized retirement insurance, but you could still pay for the rule of law and basic public goods.

Also, does this include recent large one-time stimulus spending bills, or were those in the next fiscal year?

4 points by alain94040 4 days ago 0 replies      
Another suggestion, if you love attention to detail... Rather than having #XXX-XXX as the receipt number, put the IP address in the format of a receipt, that would be a nice touch.
6 points by socratees 4 days ago 1 reply      
Bug: Looks like the text field doesn't handle comma properly. Any character beyond the first occurrence of a comma gets truncated.
4 points by jmreid 4 days ago 0 replies      
3 points by markbnine 4 days ago 1 reply      
It would be nice to compare the break-out to other countries. Perhaps you can finish this tonight?
4 points by aardvark 4 days ago 1 reply      
It looks great!

One thing I'd like to see, if possible, is an adjustment to account for deficit spending. In other words, if the government is spending $175 for every $100 collected, adjust the expenses accordingly, so we could clearly see what kind of cuts it would take to balance the budget.

3 points by higher 4 days ago 0 replies      
The federal government actually only has about 58-59 cents of revenue for each dollar it spends. It would be slightly more accurate (if extremely inflammatory) to make an applet that generates a receipt for only entitlement spending, as entitlement spending has come within 2% of revenue recently.
4 points by coin 4 days ago 1 reply      
The site appears to just linearly scale the results, which is not always correct. For example, Social Security is only collected on the first $106,800 of income.
2 points by Semiapies 4 days ago 0 replies      
Does the Defense number include expenditures on Iraq and Afghanistan? Those have been tracked separately from normal Defense spending up to 2009:


3 points by xenophanes 4 days ago 1 reply      
wtf are "Miscellaneous mandatory programs" that cost almost as much as social security?
1 point by DavidSJ 4 days ago 0 replies      
Does this include employer Social Security and Medicare expenses too? If not, it should, since they come out of your paycheck just as much as employee taxes.
1 point by seanalltogether 4 days ago 0 replies      
This assumes the only cash inflow for federal spending comes from income taxes. How many sources are funneled in to federal budget in reality?

edit - here you go, http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/special/politics/budget...

1 point by nanijoe 3 days ago 0 replies      
I'm not sure where you got the tax rates from, but you almost certainly computed New Jersey taxes wrong. I'm seeing a rate of around 4%, when in truth most people who make anything over $35k pay around 7-11%
1 point by DTrejo 3 days ago 0 replies      
You might consider using raphaeljs to do some graphing and visualization, in addition to the numbers.


Make sure to check out the demos.

3 points by krsgoss 4 days ago 0 replies      
Looks beautiful, especially in such short time. I find the discretionary defense spending line item especially depressing compared to healthcare.
1 point by nhebb 4 days ago 0 replies      
I have to pay for Small Business? I'm a small business, and I have to subsidize other small businesses? Moochers!
1 point by sliverstorm 3 days ago 0 replies      
I would like to see NASA, Education, Natural Parks, and the National Science Foundation higher on that list.
1 point by vinhboy 4 days ago 1 reply      
This is nice. Tip: put up all the social media icons.. use sharethis, addthis, or whatever. People like to fb-like more than tweet.
1 point by zeynel1 4 days ago 0 replies      
Very nice. Is it a coincidence that; for various numbers I tried; "social security" and "defense" are always about the same amount?
1 point by hardtke 4 days ago 0 replies      
The problem here is that for every dollar the government currently collects, they spend two. This should be reflected.
1 point by nihaar 4 days ago 0 replies      
This is actually pretty good data to tie to a given IP address.
1 point by gamma_raj 4 days ago 0 replies      
-3 points by astrodust 4 days ago 0 replies      
Someone should throw some CSS3 rotation and drop-shadow on this thing.
Founders who can't code
176 points by rokhayakebe 17 hours ago   101 comments top 39
62 points by edw519 16 hours ago 2 replies      
You will NOT become an engineer, programmer, or web developer, but you will be able to put a prototype of your idea together and maybe get one or two beta users for feedback...

You will also be able to have an intelligent conversation with a developer.

I get sad whenever I encounter a business person with no technical bullshit filter. Not because I'm judging them, but because if I can bullshit them, any other developer can. Which probably means there's a problem somewhere that will hurt all of us.

I'll make a point to have a cursory understanding of financial statements, market segmentation, and project management if you do the same for the basic building blocks of software applications. Then the two of us will be able to talk about almost anything. OK?

72 points by nickpinkston 14 hours ago 7 replies      
There's a big difference between the HN stereotype and "real" business people. REAL non-technical co-founders:

- Can raise funding and know funders well

- Have a massive network of people to tap into

- Can cold-call like no-one's business

- Know how to negotiate a deal to the point of paranoia

- Have deep domain experience and connections

- Make plans for the future, but can pivot on a dime

- Can talk enough tech to understand well beyond buzzwords

- Know how to keep themselves and the tech side accountable

- Let the tech side concentrate on what they do best

8 points by shadowsun7 14 hours ago 1 reply      
This isn't accurate. Most of this is true, but not for the reasons the thread author gave in his piece.

Why should a business/non-technical founder learn to code? The answer to this is simple: so that you have better ideas. Or, put another way: learning to code gives you the ability to implement your ideas. And implementing your ideas forces you to recognize, after some time, what works and what doesn't.

Hackers who start their own projects tend to have a framework in their heads for figuring out which ideas are good/may work, and which ideas won't. And they know this because they've failed enough times to figure out what isn't good for a project. Whereas most business 'wantrepreneurs' I know don't have that. They don't have that because they've never implemented anything, and so how do they know if their idea's a good one or not?

It's interesting to note that you don't have to learn to program to get this framework in your head. Learning to program is simply the most efficient (and cheapest!) way of doing it. Prominent counter-examples come to mind: Steve Jobs never really learned to code, but he grew up in the valley, and chose to mix around with hackers (Malcolm Gladwell, in his book Outliers points out that as a teenager Jobs approached the CEO of HP to ask for parts). So it's probably safe to assume Jobs absorbed such a framework by osmosis - spend enough time around people who make product and you begin to see for yourself what works, and what doesn't.

Jason Fried has also been brought up in this HN thread. And I suspect that it's no different for him: Fried is no programmer (though he's a web designer). But he was willing to pay people to implement his ideas. He paid DHH, after all, to build Basecamp. And that's another hack - you don't need programming ability to learn the framework - in this particular case all you need is implementation (which you can pay for). And if the project fails, you learn from it. Either way you gain things to add to your internal framework. (Derek Sivers also springs to mind - he hired contract programmers to build CDBaby, if I'm not mistaken).

Gaining that framework for sussing out ideas is likely to be the most important reason a non-technical founder should learn to code. Because it's going to help in so many little ways - you learn to detect technical bullshit, you gain a feel for what features to implement when and why, you attract better programming talent - because how else are you able to attract co-founders if you reek of incompetence and/or naivety?

18 points by jbarham 15 hours ago 2 replies      
FWIW Jason Fried, one of the original founders of 37signals, still doesn't know how to program (http://37signals.com/svn/posts/2540-no-more-drive-by-teachin...) but that obviously hasn't prevented the company from being a success. But then 37signals started off as a web design firm, and he had the good fortune to hire DHH.
9 points by zavulon 15 hours ago 1 reply      
I know this is a popular opinion here, but I couldn't disagree more. You're saying that it's good for everyone to try to learn to code. Far from it. Some people are just not cut out to be coders, they suck at it, they hate doing it, and they don't WANT to do it. More than half of my intro CS class was just like that, and they dropped out.

If you're a non-technical founder, and have money, it's perfectly ok for you to hire a developer or a team to implement your idea (full disclosure - I run a company that does that, link in profile) instead of learning how to program yourself. Here's a very good article by Derek Sivers on steps you could take to make that happen: http://sivers.org/how2hire

2 points by markkat 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Honestly, I can't see what the fuss is about. There are plenty of examples of successful companies with founders who could all code, or a mix, and even a couple instances where no founders could code.

Do these sweeping generalizations do any good? No doubt, it helps to know at least some coding in this business, but isn't that just common sense? And even if someone disagreed with that sentiment, would they take this to heart anyway?

This is one thing that bothers me about HN. There is a lot of advice here that seems to be just that. I love checking out people's work, the sharing of actual trials and tribulations, and learning about developments in the industry; but you know what they say about opinions and assholes... everybody has them.

9 points by jw84 16 hours ago 1 reply      
I disagree. Time is money. But which opportunity cost is greater? Do you have access to more time or do you have access to more money?

If your primary skillset is in business, marketing, or sales, stick with that. Don't deviate from your specialization.

13 points by gigantor 16 hours ago 1 reply      
I was working with a business partner on a startup a while back, and what really impressed me was their prototype, consisting of a 'database' of static pages, and updates done manually using the forms-to-email system.

The fact that they had a functional prototype, regardless of how horrible the technical implementation was, showed me that they were serious and I'd be able to communicate technical aspects to them much easier.

The takeaway is that you don't even need to learn to code to get that far, even WordPress with the right plugins can build a convincing prototype and quickly show a proof of concept to a technical developer that can take it from there.

6 points by bherms 15 hours ago 1 reply      
I wrote a blog post related to this yesterday. I agree with the author 100%. I can't remember how many times some business guy tried to pitch me on some stupid idea without an inkling of knowledge about programming or how the web works. The worst part is that they generally have no money either. If you have a good idea with some idea of how to implement it and a clear vision, you may be able to sell me. If you have a half-assed idea and are just trying to jump on the internet millions bandwagon because you think it doesn't involve real work, go to hell.
3 points by speby 15 hours ago 0 replies      
I think this is a very common problem in any business. If I want to start a restaurant, and I'm a "business guy" I could maybe try to find a "chef" co-founder, which many people obviously do when they start restaurants, however if I know little to nothing about the culinary arts, food preparation, and what kind of cuisines matter to people in a specific area, my "skills" as a business person are of limited utility and give me no competitive advantage over the dozens of other restaurants in the area I'm trying to start one in.

This very same pattern is the same in many other industries, not just software. But I couldn't agree more. Know your domain knowledge.

4 points by QuantumGood 15 hours ago 0 replies      
So the reason is to
1. Create a prototype, and
2. Get respect from developers.

Re: #2—Let's reverse this, specifically for marketing.

Developers (and pretty much anyone) who know a little marketing can be harder to work with than those that believe they don't understand it. They over-rely on cliches and stereotypes without realizing it.

And what about the scenario where you end up with a person with limited technical knowledge micro-managing a tech worker? Not a good thing.

Re: #1—I find creating mock-ups shows functionality more accurately and in much, much less time than creating working prototypes.

I'm a business/marketing guy who loves coding. I usually avoid it because it's incredibly time-consuming to do even half-assed well, and you can re-use little of what you learn when it's just a one-off experience to creating something to show. (I realize that if you are always learning and creating things, your experience builds in more reusable ways.)

7 points by damoncali 16 hours ago 0 replies      
Note 3: Don't do this if, after a week, you don't like coding. You'll go insane.
3 points by lachyg 16 hours ago 4 replies      
I've gotta say I really do disagree, the reason we do business/idea/marketing is because that's what we ENJOY and are PASSIONATE about. I believe that that's what's most important, being passionate, and enjoying what you're doing.

And frankly, I can only code for so long before getting bored, and losing interest. But when I'm marketing, brainstorming partnerships, and discussing potential leads with a company -- i'm in my element, and loving it. I never get tired of it.

1 point by TWAndrews 42 minutes ago 0 replies      
So what would your advice be to someone who could, once upon a time, code (COBOL, C) but hasn't written anything in ~15 years?
1 point by techbelle 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Thanks for posting this. As a entrepreneur I couldn't agree more with your opinion. Previously although I work in a technology field, I was pretty functional. That is, my knowledge of coding began and ended at SQL and HTML. But on the same note, years of doing custom applications with developer teams educated me on the 'lingo' and what could and could not be done (at least, not easily).

Over the past year, we had many 'business' persons who offered to help out, and while that was awesome, what we really needed was qualified technical people. For a 'business' person, one can usually get an unpaid college intern and not have to sacrifice any shares in the company.

Also, I think as functional person you are somewhat "over the barrel" if your developers dont perform, and can do nothing except complain. I do believe it's better overall if you can build your own product.
At the end of the day, we decided to educate our own team in Ruby/Rails rather than bring in outside developers. I think this was a smart decision, and also a more cost effective solution.

I definitely suggest other start ups do the same.

2 points by Tichy 16 hours ago 1 reply      
I don't think the standard CRUD web app is necessarily what will make an exciting startup. That would more likely be some new twist.

Also, I can feel with business types who say it doesn't make sense for them to learn coding. In a way I am in a similar situation, as I am constantly extremely hampered by my lack of design skills. Should I try to become a designer? I admit to trying now and them (decided today to go through the inkscape tutorials, bought the occasional book on design), but honestly, odds are very low that I'll be able to compete with real designers. And the graphics design takes away much needed time from coding.

4 points by jonbishop 16 hours ago 0 replies      
"Can you convince your best friend to work on your 4th idea, when the previous 3 failed?"

Any business/idea guy worth his/her salt will have more than one great idea. This is why I am learning how to code; so I don't have to go through all the trouble to get a technical cofounder every time I come up with an idea I really like. This way I can build a prototype and be a lot more credible when I approach people to work with me.

4 points by shadowmatter 16 hours ago 1 reply      
Peter Theil, co-founder of Paypal, would probably disagree. In the book Founders at Work, you'll find that many co-founders of large, valuable companies claim that having another co-founder understand the business side was invaluable. (Note: I'm not trying to stick up for them because I'm a business guy; I'm a coder guy.)
1 point by Travis 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Interesting that the threads in here actually are more vocal than I expected behind the non-tech guys. Helps that jasonfried, a prime counter-example to this post, weighed in himself.

My take on it is simple: I passed this article along to my co-founder as a token of appreciation. See, he started along the way without any coding experience. He taught himself (with some pushes in the right direction) how to program, design, and even do some database stuff. He's decent at it, but that isn't necessarily what matters. What matters is now I have someone to discuss things with, someone who understands at least the basics (and has basic experience) with different design stuff. That's not only helpful for productivity, but morale as well.

So, yeah, maybe learning to code isn't a requirement for a guy who can do everything nickpinkston listed. But, as the technical guy, it sure as hell makes my life better. So here's to you, jonesy!

3 points by eLod 15 hours ago 0 replies      
I strongly disagree. Learn code if you are interested, but what ill advice is that you have to learn code?! Consider your advice from a designer perspective, should founders/coders learn design because "worst case scenario, your future designer partner will respect you for trying, ...". The same goes for scaling, you should stop and learn how to scale if you're a front-end developer because the reasons you gave?
1 point by Detrus 16 hours ago 0 replies      
Note 1 is pretty important. If you're non-technical how do you know if your idea is technically challenging or not? In many cases you don't, even technical people often misjudge how challenging and idea can get.

If it is challenging, you get too deep into code, things take too long, get discouraged, etc.. Or settle for some gimmick that you can execute within a reasonable timeframe.

It's a good theory, but it assumes that non-technical people will try ideas that are minor improvements over existing ideas, like twitter, groupon clones. But they may also read up on magic new tech and come up with ideas based on that, not knowing how hard they'll be to prototype.

1 point by ndl 13 hours ago 0 replies      
I disagree with, "Note 1: If your idea is to build something truly technically challenging, then scratch my advice." If you want to build something technically challenging, you absolutely must learn the basics of whatever field it's in. You will not make a prototype this way, but you will be able to talk to someone who can without sounding like an idiot. You should study until you can prove that your idea is "challenging" rather than infeasible.

As a corollary, be weary of AI. If you are solving a problem with AI that you don't understand, assume the AI won't work.

On another note, maybe the real advice should just be "pick an easier project." I have a technical background but consider myself a hybrid business/hacker going forward. My current project is highly technical; I don't think I'd consider taking on a co-founder who didn't have some tech background.

1 point by armandososa 16 hours ago 0 replies      
I think that's inline with Derek Sivers history (as told on TechZing) http://techzinglive.com/?p=443
2 points by malandrew 16 hours ago 1 reply      
I'm that founder learning how to code right now and I couldn't agree more with you.

Been hacking away for a 1-2 months so far with a friend who is a developer. It's totally worth it.

1 point by cies 6 hours ago 0 replies      
I think in general it is far easier for a programmer to quite productively spend a day on web design (steal/copy), building a nice user interface, some copywriting or attracting funding; then it is for the non-programmer to spend a day on making software.
1 point by grantlmiller 13 hours ago 0 replies      
I've been doing web marketing for about 8 years now (SEO, PR, product, SEM, viral etc) and I'm currently the CMO of a great small internet company... and I completely agree with you. Even if you're not going to strike off and start a company within the next year, you'll still be able to understand basic structure and constraints of programming. I've done this myself (with decent, yet limited success) by taking advantage of the free Harvard course offered at CS75.tv Watch the lectures (they're entertaining), do the projects and if you catch up now you can even participate & interact with the class... democratization of knowledge at its best.
1 point by gmichnikov 14 hours ago 1 reply      
I also got sick of feeling like just an ideas person, so I've been trying to follow this advice for the last 2 months. Any feedback would be much appreciated.

I started with Python, using a combo of MIT OCW, Learn Python the Hard Way, and How to Think Like a Computer Scientist. I then started going through an online course on dynamic websites that touches on HTML, CSS, PHP, XML, MySQL, Ajax, and Javascript. I've been using w3schools.com and the online manuals to learn more about these.

Does this make any sense? Should I try to learn more Python? If so, which resources should I use? Are these all worth my time? Am I missing anything?

1 point by jsherry 16 hours ago 0 replies      
Instead of taking time off to do this, I'm doing it on the fly while my startup is up and running. I fought this fight for just about 2 years, outsourcing much of our web development during that time. And I don't regret outsourcing - it can get you up and running faster than learning, especially if you're building something that borders on complex. But in the end, we really needed to start bringing things in-house, from both the standpoints of protecting our IP as well as enabling us to become more nimble in terms of making changes on the fly etc.

We haven't completely weened off outsourced web development, but I can now see a path to get there, and it all started by learning how to become more self-sufficient.

1 point by tumpak 8 hours ago 0 replies      
Great points. Thank you.

It is better to learn the task yourself, before hiring the person on that task. I believe this mantra works in most situations in a start up.

2 points by cagenut 14 hours ago 0 replies      
Its a really fascinating tell, when programmers think that the solution to a given problem is that everyone become programmers.
1 point by justyn 8 hours ago 0 replies      
Ughh. I really wish topics like this didn't exist. Every situation is different.

I haven't touched code in 15 years, but I understand web technologies, constraints, possibilities, etc. People love our product and UI. I own the product roadmap and UI direction - have since the beginning. I write the specs, I do the wireframes, I refine UI, etc.

Why would I learn to code? What impact does it have on my business? I have 10 engineers who are extraordinary.

Every time I see this argument, I cringe.

1 point by techbelle 1 hour ago 0 replies      
cofounder learning to code! agree absolutely!
1 point by kingsidharth 16 hours ago 0 replies      
Usually people run around looking for co-founders and they look like people saying, "Build this for me, and hey you are a co-founder that means I don't pay you. Your time is at risk not mine."

And there is no way they can get a co-fonder that way, anyways.

1 point by vincell1 14 hours ago 0 replies      
I disagree with the above post. Engineering offshore resources are cheap. If anything learn elements of good UI design. Design elements will cause you failure more often then coding.
1 point by initlaunch 16 hours ago 0 replies      
Yes, as others mentioned, there are good tools to rapidly prototype things, and using them shows you are resourceful and committed.

If you really can't do that, at least put in the time to create a detailed spec.

1 point by Pobe 11 hours ago 0 replies      
It's sad you can't team up with people to create a greater product while you do your business work/innovation/generalistic work/legal/accounting etc. etc. you know the stuff a business man should do.

I'm in the same situation as you.
Maybe you lack the business man part?

1 point by known 10 hours ago 0 replies      
If I were to start a clinic, do I need to learn medicine?
1 point by catshirt 16 hours ago 0 replies      
advice for coders who can't found: have an idea, learn to talk to people.

now we can all be single founders.

-2 points by derrida 16 hours ago 0 replies      
If your a hack what are you doing reading hacker news? jj :-)
Ask HN: Who Is Hiring? (October 2010 Edition)
175 points by falsestprophet 4 days ago   193 comments top 131
14 points by uuilly 4 days ago 0 replies      
510 Systems. Berkeley CA. <50 People, all profit, no VC. We make car-top mapping systems (similar to those used in google street view,) and visualization / extraction software for the data.

If you like any of the following:

-3d graphics

-HUGE HUGE HUGE data storage, access and manipulation problems

-Embedded systems

-Realtime systems

-Finite state markov chains

-Computer vision

-Probabilistic robotics

-GPS filtering

-Extracting physical objects from lidar generated point clouds

-Making clean intuitive UI's for people to interact w/ all of the above

Then please email me.

Our website is essentially non-existent b/c we have only been serving a few REALLY big customers and they are the only ones who have needed to find us - for now. The vision is huge and it has a real chance of becoming a public company one day. Good pay, equity, heavy engineering culture, mac, linux or windows agnostic. If any of this appeals to you, fire me a resume. We'll act fast if we think there is a fit.

19 points by coffeemug 4 days ago 3 replies      
Mountain View, CA. RethinkDB (http://www.rethinkdb.com/jobs).

Hard systems problems. Fun people. Good pay. A chance to build something meaningful and own a significant chunk of the company. Tired of rails-based clones? Join us, together we will rule the [database] universe.

This is everything we stand for: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=1747713

14 points by bravura 4 days ago 0 replies      
MetaOptimize is hiring contractors for exciting project work building real-world NLP + ML systems.

This is for remote, short-term gigs. You can set your hours. The only requirement is that you kick ass and add value from day one.

We are looking for generalists:

* Hardcore programmers who learn new technologies and APIs quickly.

* Experienced sysadmins, especially who have experience with AWS and EC2.

And also specialists:

* People with backgrounds in machine learning, natural language processing, information retrieval, and/or search. Medium experience is fine, you don't have to have a PhD.

* Python/Django programmers

* Java programmers

Email your resume and/or github URL to joseph at metaoptimize dot com

7 points by sunir 4 days ago 0 replies      
Toronto, Ontario. FreshBooks is hiring pretty much everything. Marketing, sales, product managers, support, developer community manager, system administrators and plenty of developers.


If you're an ex-pat in the States and want to move back home, we provide relocation assistance.

P.S. I'm the hiring manager for the Platform. I'm personally looking for a developer community manager, a support role, front and back end developers, and a product manager. You can get me at sunir splat freshbooks dot com

P.P.S. If you're wondering why you should work at FreshBooks, we're Canadian, awesome, and growing rapidly. Here are a couple links if you want to learn a little about us:



25 points by mrduncan 4 days ago 1 reply      
As always, please let potential applicants know whether telecommuting is an option - if not, don't forget to include your location.
10 points by ccollins 4 days ago 4 replies      
San Francisco!

Airbnb is hiring - I think we have around 50 openings at this point. http://www.airbnb.com/jobs. Regardless of the position, we just want hungry, smart, and awesome people.

For engineers, we wrote a blog post 2 days ago explaining some of our most interesting challenges - http://blog.airbnb.com/hard-problems-big-opportunity

In particular, we need some front end engineers!! http://www.airbnb.com/jobs/position?jvi=omNoVfwc
Email me directly if you are a badass front end engineer and like mustaches & ridiculous sunglasses - chris@airbnb.com

19 points by sjwalter 4 days ago 3 replies      
SSi Micro is hiring great hackers. Are you smart, motivated, and interested in working on awesome software optimized for our world-class, unique, and super-cool satellite network? Then come and be a propellerhead at our awesome, small company.


We're a little company based in Yellowknife, the capital city of the Northwest Territories. We deliver broadband satellite internet to 61 of the most remote communities on earth, and now that our network's up and running (although we're investing heavily in upgrading it), we're busy building great software for our customers, optimized specifically for our unique network.

Right now, we're building a file sharing webapp called Qfile. (Check it out: http://qfile.ca -- Free 60 day trial!). Why not just use dropbox, you ask? Well, our network is pretty unique: all our traffic is bounced off a satellite, and round-trip latency of ~600ms (which is because of the horrible limitation of the speed of light, which we are constantly working to exceed) means that we have to do things a little differently. SSi is so cool that when we won a government contract to do "time-shifted file transfers", we decided that we /could/ meet our contractual obligations with a few weeks of work/testing, but instead we're building a wicked webapp that brings the functionality to everyone on our network, not just big clients with IT departments.

Yellowknife's not as cold as you think, and the 24-hours-of-daylight summers are not to be missed.

If you're interested and game, we'll make an offer really easy to accept: We'll get and pay for your apartment, a car if you need it, and pay you atop that. We'll do all that for up to three months while you evaluate us and the north, so that it's risk- and hassle-free for you to come to a really great, unique company in an awesome little city.

Email: stephenw@ssimicro.com

7 points by pquerna 4 days ago 1 reply      
Cloudkick in SF, CA: https://www.cloudkick.com/careers

Looking for three main areas:

  * Frontend in Javascript.  We are making some very cool 
and Dynamic applications. We push monitoring data and
graphs milliseconds from when it was collected right to the

* General Python. We are a shop built around
Python; We heavily use Django and Cassandra.

* Node.js (or good at Python and willing to learn).
We are building new solutions to deployment, and I'd
like someone to help make it awesome.

30 points by bnoordhuis 4 days ago 0 replies      
People, please mention if remote working is an option or not.
6 points by derwiki 4 days ago 0 replies      
San Francisco, CA. Yelp (http://www.yelp.com/careers)

We're looking to fill back end, front end, mobile (iPhone, Android, Blackberry), search & data mining engineers as well as product managers and engineering managers. We're still a small team where everybody knows everybody, working on new features and addressing scaling issues as we internationalize. And Hackathons where projects like Yelp KegMate are born: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BwVoir5HSo4


7 points by robobenjie 4 days ago 1 reply      
Mountain View, Ca. Anybots Inc.

We are looking for a rounded web programmer to help build our site, program robots, and be awesome.

Anybots is a fun, casual and exciting place to work. Also we build frikking robots. We are small (<10 people) and shipping product in a few months so it is a really exciting time to join.

The next people we hire will have a huge role in shaping the user experience.

Send a portfolio of cool stuff you've made, and a resume (for the sake of tradition) to jobs@anybots.com. We prefer people who are available soon (product ships in November) and are open to telecommutes (it is a telepresence company after all), but prefer a local person.

6 points by jack7890 4 days ago 0 replies      
Web Engineer -- New York, NY


We're looking for a generalist web engineer who is super-hungry and sees building web apps as more than just a job. We're a data-driven web app that's trying to use analytics and exceptional UX to making buying event tickets a wholly better experience. #Python #PHP #MySQL #MongoDB #Javascript

Competitive comp, outstanding benefits, and a team that has a lot of fun together.

Only looking for folks in NYC. Drop us a line at jobs@seatgeek.com if you'd like to chat.

7 points by RichardPrice 4 days ago 1 reply      
Academia.edu is hiring engineers in San Francisco.

Academia.edu helps academics follow the latest research in their field. Here are a few bullet points that sum up the atmosphere in our team:

- obsession with exceptional engineering

- obsession with building a great web product, and a great user experience

- intellectually inquisitive - we like delving into ideas, whatever the ideas are about

- fun and friendly - we enjoy each other's company a lot, and have a great deal of respect for each other.

We want to continue this atmosphere through the people we hire.

Here are some of the technologies we work with: Rails, Nginx, Node.js, Redis, Memcached. We are based in downtown San Francisco. More information about the team, and about how we think about software engineering and product development, is here http://academia.edu/hiring

2 points by famousactress 4 days ago 0 replies      
San Francisco, CA - Elation EMR : http://elationemr.com/

(Telecommuting considered for the right candidate)

Elation is an angel-funded healthcare technology startup dedicated to improving the clinical encounter. Our team currently consists of extremely passionate founders who bring years of health IT and healthcare industry experience and are deeply committed to improving the delivery of healthcare. Our investors include a practicing physician and the creators and backers of some of the world's largest and most innovative web companies, including Asana, Facebook, and Quora.

In the near term, we are focused on building an innovative web-based electronic medical record for physician practices. Our alpha product -- built by the founders -- has gone live, and we have aggressive plans to expand its use.

Front-End Engineer
We are currently seeking an extraordinary front-end engineer to join the core of our technical team. As one of the first hires, you will play a key role in shaping the team and culture, architecting the foundations of a very complex system, and designing the experience for a highly demanding user.

Your role as resident front-end guru will be to push the boundaries of what is possible in a browser, create an experience that makes users forget they are on the web, and engineer elegant solutions to client-side challenges more demanding than even Gmail's.

The ideal candidate is:

* Fascinated by making the web fast

* Excited to concoct UI magic

* Comfortable navigating and optimizing server-client boundaries

* Product-minded with a keen eye for usability, style, and design

* Eager to step into users' shoes and sees extraordinary value in doing so

Desired Qualifications:
* B.S., M.S., or Ph.D. in Computer Science or equivalent technical field; or simply being an awesome engineer

* Expert skills in Javascript, HTML/CSS

* Experience with Javascript frameworks (jQuery, Prototype, YUI, etc.); contributions to Javascript frameworks a plus

* Proficiency programming in Python; experience with Django a plus

* No healthcare experience needed but ready to get excited about building technology that has the potential to deeply impact people's lives

If you fit the bill and are excited, or if you don't fit the bill but still feel you could be a tremendous asset to our engineering team, please send us your cover letter and resume to jobs+hn@elationemr.com.

4 points by earle 4 days ago 3 replies      
I'm looking for:

  1) talented information visualization experts (protovis,
raphaeljs, flash/flex/actionscript, HTML5 strategies)
who are comfortable working with large scale data

2) anyone fluent with large scale data mining with
Mahout (hadoop, hdfs, clustering strategies, SVD,
latent semantic indexing, noSQL [hypertable and/or

3) fluency web app development at tier 1 properties
with startup experience using common stacks with
large user bases. django expertise in particular

fastest growing startup in atlanta. full benefits
will relocate appropriately talented individuals.
US Citizens only (sorry).

proven management team with multiple successful startup
exits (over $2B). earle {dot} ady {at} gmail {dot} com

11 points by robryan 4 days ago 1 reply      
I'd be interested in how many postings in these hacker news job threads end up in hires, or at least candidates applying.
5 points by rantfoil 4 days ago 0 replies      
San Francisco

Posterous is hiring Backend and Rails engineers! We're a team of just 10 engineers -- 100% focused on being totally driven by great hackers who love building for consumer web.


5 points by mncaudill 4 days ago 0 replies      
San Francisco - Flickr

Want to work on one of the world's largest sites with extremely passionate users alongside some fantastic engineers? We are looking for a front-end engineer. http://www.flickr.com/jobs/frontend_mobile_engineer/

You can send your resume to me, Nolan, at caudill@yahoo-inc.com.

3 points by lpolovets 4 days ago 0 replies      
Los Angeles, CA (and possibly Silicon Valley) -- Factual

Our goal at Factual is to be the place where people meet to share, improve, and mash-up data. We have an awesome team, and an incredible CEO (he was the co-founder of Applied Semantics, which was sold to Google and became AdSense). We just launched an open database with approximately 30 million points of interest (POIs) across the world, and are working on many other exciting things.

We're looking for awesome Java generalists. Bonus points for MapReduce, NoSQL or machine learning expertise.


You can also email me personally at leo -at- factual.com

4 points by ciscoriordan 4 days ago 0 replies      
Cambridge, MA. Panjiva (http://panjiva.com/jobs)

Hiring a UI expert and web application developer. The company's product is built on Ruby on Rails but experience with Rails isn't required.

14 or so employees total working on a global supply chain service. The tech team currently consists of 3 MIT alums.

2 points by jayp 4 days ago 1 reply      
Pattern Insight

Current Openings:
"Software Engineer (Systems)",
"Software Engineer (Applications)",
"Lead QA Engineer",
"Technical Sales and Support Lead"

All openings based out of Mountain View, CA. Relocation assistance offered.

Are you interested in creating technologies that improve the way engineers solve difficult problems?

Consider Pattern Insight. We develop novel solutions for searching and analyzing vast quantities of semi-structured data. Many of the biggest tech companies use our products to: find and fix source code bugs more quickly and completely; manage thousands of branches of software without going crazy; and solve high-end technical support problems faster and more effectively.

Needless to say, we're going places. We have solid revenue; a small, talented team; just the right level of VC funding; and new opportunities opening up every day. But we could really use a few more creative, resourceful engineers to help us turn those opportunities into reality. Maybe that means you?

If you have any questions, feel free to contact me: jay.patel@patterninsight.com.

12 points by ptio 4 days ago 2 replies      
Los Angeles, CA - SpaceX

Our team is looking for 2 more developers to help us build SpaceX's enterprise and manufacturing systems. We primarily use C# but experience in OOP languages such as Java or Ruby is just fine.

We offer excellent benefits, pre-IPO stock, and free yogurt everyday =)

Drop me a line at paulo[at]spacex[dot]com if interested.

4 points by jon_dahl 4 days ago 1 reply      
Zencoder (YC W2010) is looking for:

1. an awesome salesperson. Tenacious, resourceful, ambitious, but also comfortable with learning, discovery, and building a model (rather than following a model).

2. a junior designer. Someone with HTML/CSS and design chops, to help expand and improve our web presence. Some work on our core product, plus work on several small micro-projects.

jon at zencoder.

1 point by Hovertruck 1 day ago 0 replies      
Webs.com - Silver Spring, MD (On the Washington, DC Metro)

We need a front-end developer. We're at a point where we are about to be rolling out a lot of important new products and updates to old ones, so we're looking to bump up our front-end team.

Looking for:

-Strong in HTML/CSS/JS

-Familiar with, but not dependent on, jQuery

-Interested in new technologies

-Likes getting things done the right way

-Some experience with Rails/Java is a plus

We give you all the standard startup benefits - medical benefits, commuter benefits, catered lunch, full kitchen, foosball table, etc.

>> Relocations are fine, I don't think we're looking for telecommuters

Email me at daniel (at) webs.com

6 points by trefn 4 days ago 0 replies      
San Francisco, no telecommuting atm

Mixpanel is a real-time analytics company. We're a small team working on fascinating technical problems.

Right now I'm looking for badass frontend and ops people in particular - http://mixpanel.com/jobs

Get in touch: tim@mixpanel.com

4 points by randfish 4 days ago 1 reply      
Seattle, WA (in our awesome new offices near Pike Place Market) - SEOmoz is hiring senior engineers/developers, a senior scientist (heavy math/stats background and interest in web search/information retrieval). Get in touch with Kate@SEOmoz.org


3 points by jeremymcanally 4 days ago 0 replies      
Anywhere. Intridea is still looking for people for consulting gigs in Rails and mobile stuff (iPhone and Android!). We're 100% remote, so you live where you'd like and have a sweet, sweet, job.

Ping me directly if you want to discuss how we work, or contact the company at jobs@intridea.com.

3 points by rubyrescue 4 days ago 0 replies      
http://inakanetworks.com - rails, erlang, iphone - Buenos Aires, Argentina
5 points by ccheever 4 days ago 2 replies      
Palo Alto, CA - Quora


We're looking for designers and engineers.

- Codebase is mostly Python, JS, and C++

- Real continuous deployment (every git push deploys the new version of the code if all the test pass)

- Product w/ traction that is growing quickly

- Hard problems to work hard on

- Smart people to work with and learn from ( http://www.quora.com/about/team )

jobs@quora.com or e-mail me directly at ccheever@quora.com

4 points by phillytom 4 days ago 0 replies      
Conshohocken, PA - Monetate

We have fun problems at scale - real-time decision making plus web analytics. We have hired people from HN before and I will go hound them to post about how much fun we are having. :)

We sell SAAS to internet retailers allowing them to test site content, target to visitor segments, and personalize web experiences.

Currently hiring for positions here: http://monetate.com/about/jobs/ - product engineers, front-end developers, QA, sys ops

We work primarily in Python and Javascript but are looking for talented engineers of any background who like solving new problems.

We are backed by First Round Capital and are growing quickly.

Email me at tjanofsky - monetate.com

4 points by p_alexander 4 days ago 0 replies      
Stanford, CA. Stanford Center for Biomedical Informatics Research, National Center for Biomedical Ontology.

We're hiring people interested in working with semantic web technologies, including RDF, OWL/OBO ontologies, triple stores, Protege, etc. The positions are mainly senior right now, possibly junior in the near future. Our main product is BioPortal, an ontology repository site with a RESTful API.

Stanford is an amazing place to work, great benefits, competitive salary, and the team here is top-notch (as you would expect). Feel free to ask questions (email in profile).

Apply online: http://bit.ly/9HBcMB

Edit: no telecommute (Stanford policy I believe)

1 point by SneezyRobot 19 hours ago 0 replies      
IntoMobile is looking for talented lead software developer utilizing PHP and Javascript to help customize our WordPress blog and build our custom community website. Previous job experience is not required.


* Solid ability in PHP5 website development and optimization.
* Experience with MySQL query design and optimization. (optimizing indexes, query analysis)
* Ability to work with and edit basic web user interfaces in HTML and CSS by hand (without the aid of a WYSIWYG editor).


* Familiarity with the internal operations of WordPress, creating WordPress plugins from scratch and interacting with all aspects of WordPress's core operations.

This is an immediate opening for a long term, work from home, full-time contract position. Contract rate is commiserate with experience. Please provide salary history and salary requirements. Also, please indicate if you are legally authorized to work in the U.S. and, if you will now, or in the future, require sponsorship for employment visa status (H-1B visa).

We have several projects for this person to work on currently with more on the horizon so ideally this would be a full-time contract position. We'd prefer someone local, but we know that talent is sometimes hard to come by so we're willing to work with someone offsite, as long as you reside in the same time zone (PST), you are available during normal business hours, and you are an individual not a company or company rep.


Please respond via our Resumator portal at http://www.intomobile.com/jobs/ with an updated resume highlighting your relevant experience.

-- ABOUT US --

IntoMobile delivers breaking news, information, and analysis on the latest mobile phones and mobile technology. IntoMobile is the leading and most read daily mobile technology news site that caters to early adopters, mobile professionals, technology enthusiasts, and technology consumers alike. Founded in late 2005, IntoMobile now serves a global audience of over 3.5 million monthly unique visitors looking for complete coverage on mobile technology – making us the most trafficked mobile tech news resource on the web!

In addition to news, IntoMobile offers it's community members and guests a custom database of over 2000 phones, product reviews, and a question and answer portal.

IntoMobile is based in the San Francisco Bay Area and was established in 2006. We are one of the largest and fastest growing mobile technology news and community websites.

2 points by perplexes 4 days ago 0 replies      
Iowa City, IA and telecommuting. Cramerdev (http://cramerdev.com/employment)

We're looking for front (design/ui/ux) and backend developers. Consulting shop with great people, fun projects, great pay, 10% time projects, small (20 people or so), so anyone engaged will have a significant impact on the company, and feels like a "choose your own adventure".

We have big dreams and big plans for making gobs of money for everyone. Come join us.

Tech: Rails (mostly), PHP, Narwhal (part of our CMS - http://markupfactory.com/), some side projects with JRuby, Node.js, HTML5. We're looking to do some Erlang in the future.

Recent releases: http://www.diyseo.com/, http://www.mriprotocols.org/, http://www.arearugs.com/

Telecommuting is pretty much all we do, but U.S. only for now. If you live near Iowa City, or you want to, you can work in our sweet loft offices.

Email: hr@cramerdev.com

1 point by jorgeortiz85 4 days ago 2 replies      
New York, NY (remote not an option, sorry): foursquare


We're hiring server engineers, operations engineers, and mobile engineers.

Our backend is built with Scala, Lift, and some Python. Our main datastore is MongoDB, but we have some stuff on Postgres. We're hosted entirely on EC2. We develop mobile clients for the iPhone, Android, and Blackberry.

We're a location-based social network that's changing how people interact with physical space. We've got a lot of exciting projects we want to work on, and we need all the help we can get.

Email: jorge@foursquare.com

3 points by fshaun 4 days ago 1 reply      
Sunnyvale, CA. Remote is possible. http://www.rti.com

We provide middleware. Major customer segments include A&D, unmanned vehicles, medical devices and financial services. Some concrete examples: DDG-1000 Destroyer network, Grand Coulee Dam SCADA, ESO's Very Large Telescope optics control; Predator ground control station; PIMCO pre-trade compliance system. If the terms real-time, high-performance or distributed computing come to mind, you would be right.

* Private company ~80 employees

* If you want it, extensive travel to customer sites

* Offices in Sunnyvale, NYC, London

* Many remote employees, with clusters in MA and DC.

Multiple positions open; US citizens preferred for some. My role is a mix of developer-consultant whose detailed description I've not yet managed to condense. Mail if you're curious, or I can attempt over coffee near Cambridge.

4 points by squirrel 4 days ago 1 reply      
London (UK) and Boston (US) - youDevise, Ltd.

We're a 60-person financial-software firm committed to learning and improvement as well as great web software and agile development. We're hiring developers and other smart folks of many kinds. See http://www.youdevise.com/careers and https://dev.youdevise.com.

No remote working, but we do help successful candidates relocate to London or Boston. (Our first HN hire has been here for over a month and is having a great time.)

1 point by jaaron 4 days ago 1 reply      
Los Angeles, CA

Stealth-mode startup with solid funding. Currently have a team of 8 in the US and 4 in Europe. Looking for solid engineers in the LA area (telecommuting not an option, sorry). Experience building social networks or mobile development a plus (iOS or Android), but really just looking for solid engineers who fit with our small team. We aim to exit stealth by next summer.

Email questions to jaaronfarr [at] gmail.com

Unfortunately any important details require an NDA. Some people involved have been burned by early disclosure in the past, so we're playing it extra safe this time. And no, it isn't a social network, we just happen to have some typical social network features in the roadmap.

1 point by iuguy 2 days ago 0 replies      
At Mandalorian (http://www.mandalorian.com/) we have a bunch of positions open at the moment. We're based in Reading, UK but some of the roles are home based with occasional office days. Expect to go through some form of government clearance regardless of the role, and sadly the pen test and anti-malware roles are available to UK nationals only for security reasons:

1. We need a Sales Executive to work with our growing team selling information assurance consultancy services and helping to launch a brand new service in the advanced antimalware space.

2. We need a penetration tester with CHECK, Tigerscheme or CREST certification equivalent to CTL to join our pentest team, with opportunity to cross over into...

3. Anti-malware analyst and investigator. Using advanced network and memory forensics tools and techniques, you'll be reverse engineering malicious and non-malicious code and tracking and eliminating threats from the conventional to potentially state sponsored targeted attacks.

4. Python/Django developer to work on some internal projects relating to security testing and malware.

4 points by mtrichardson 4 days ago 0 replies      
Urban Airship in Portland, Oregon.
1 point by rwalker 3 days ago 0 replies      
San Francisco, CA. Greplin (http://www.greplin.com/jobs)

We need superstar hackers to solve some really hard problems.

Keep terabytes of data in sync. Extract relevant information from large data sets with intelligent indexing, machine learning, and NLP. Display results extremely fast on the web and mobile phones.

We use Python + Twisted, JavaScript + Node.js, Objective C, Java, PHP, and/or whatever you're an expert in. It's early so you'll have a huge impact.

Investors include YCombinator, Bret Taylor (Facebook), Paul Buchheit (Gmail, AdSense), and Ron Conway (everything).


(no telecommuting at this point)

1 point by sheriff 3 days ago 0 replies      
Providence, RI. Swipely (http://swipely.com/jobs)

Now hiring back-end (mostly Ruby on Rails) and front-end (jQuery/HTML/CSS) developers.

Swipely is part social network, part financial application, and part gaming platform, and we have plenty of interesting problems to work on in all those areas and more. This is hands-down the strongest engineering team I've worked with. We work in weekly iterations and push new code to production at least once per iteration. Though not a strict requirement, we have a strong preference for full-time employees who can work out of our office in Providence.

Our perks blurb:
"Swipely offers competitive salaries and full benefits, similar to "big" companies. We also offer everyone equity in the company, to share in Swipely's long-term success. Our kitchen is stocked at all times with free drinks and snacks. Lunch is catered every day from a nearby sandwich shop, and we even keep a dedicated fridge stocked with craft beers from around the globe. We want you to have the best tools for the job, so the Macbook Pros are fast, the Internet pipes are fat and the screen pixels are unlimited. Go for it!"

3 points by jack 4 days ago 0 replies      
Vancouver, BC. Telecommuting is an option.

Clio (http://www.goclio.com) is hiring talented Ruby on Rails developers. We are a fast-growing provider of practice management software for lawyers in small firms. Think of Clio as a mashup of Highrise, FreshBooks, Basecamp, and Harvest tailored to the specific project management needs of lawyers that practice as solos or in small firms (which is, by the way, 80% of lawyers in North America).

We're a small, fun-loving and tight-knit team with team members spread across North America. We're looking for team players that also know how to work independently. If you're located in Vancouver, great, but if not please still apply.

If you're interested please e-mail jobs@goclio.com.

2 points by chrisaycock 3 days ago 0 replies      
New York, NY. Tachyon Capital Management

We specialize in high-frequency trading in equities and futures. We are a small firm of seven people who build and execute automated trading algorithms.

We are looking for another software developer to join us. The ideal candidate will have experience with many of the following:

- high-performance computing

- asynchronous/non-blocking IO

- FIX protocol and parsing

- statistical analysis

- alpha model simulation

- market microstructure

- ticker plants and feed handlers

- absurdly large data sets

If the new hire does well, he will have the opportunity to move into a trading position.

We are NOT looking for anyone who believes in manually monitoring the system, watching CNBC, or sending Word documents.

Send us your cover letter with an explanation of who you are and what you're looking for. Your resume is optional, though we'd be more impressed if it had been typeset with LaTeX.

As part of the interview process, serious candidates will be required to give a brief (5--10 minute) presentation on any technical topic of their choosing. It may involve technology in finance, the math of music, your thesis topic, etc.

Start the ball rolling with an email to me, Chris Aycock, at caycock AT tachyoncm DOT com

3 points by bentlegen 4 days ago 0 replies      
Disqus is hiring Engineers and a System Administrator: http://disqus.com/jobs
2 points by dmor 3 days ago 0 replies      
Twilio is hiring for roles in San Francisco, California

  * Business Ops Associate
* SIP Software Engineer
* DevOps Engineer
* Junior and Senior Software Engineers
* Developer Interns (paid)
* Product Manager
* Front-end/Website Developer

Job descriptions and more info here:

1 point by diego 4 days ago 0 replies      
IndexTank. San Francisco, CA (SoMa). Multi-tenant search as a service hosted on AWS. Extremely interesting optimization and scalability challenges. Many sites use us and pay for our service, including Reddit. Very small company, lots of upside. International team (US - Argentina). We NEED more awesome developers.


2 points by kanny96 4 days ago 0 replies      
http://iApps.in provides intelligent app search using semantic technology. It is a stealth mode startup whose goal is to bring innovative semantic solutions to the internet one vertical at a time. We are looking for the following expertise for current or near term requirements:

- Deployment architect : experience with scalable rails deployment, AWS, MySQL, Git, Capistrano/Chef

- Theme designer : minimalist and beautiful front-end designs for presenting search results, experience with CSS3, JS, HTML5, iPhone development

- Marketing manager : Business development, online marketing, sales

- Researcher : Background in natural language processing, machine learning, crawler design, large scale data modeling, map reduce using Hadoop

iApps.in is based in New Delhi, India, but remote work can be an option for suitable candidates.
If you think you can take on big guys on a shoe string budget with mere determination and ingenuity, send your resume to jobs at iapps dot in

2 points by immad 4 days ago 0 replies      
Heyzap - SF, CA http://heyzap.com/jobs

We are hiring for an iPhone Engineer role and a normal Engineering role.

We distribute online games to 300k sites and are doing a cool new iPhone project too.

We are funded by YC and Union Square Ventures.

Email me! immad (at) heyzap.com

2 points by arn 4 days ago 1 reply      
Richmond, VA: Any php/mysql programmers or designers in the area looking for contract work or more, contact me (see my profile). We've got several full time remote employees, but I see some benefit in having some local contractors/employees.
2 points by dimarco 4 days ago 0 replies      
Bazaarvoice is hiring in Austin, TX.

They just rented out a movie theater (alamo drafthouse) for all of us to see the Social Network.

Also it's a cool company. http://blogs.wsj.com/digits/2010/10/01/bazaarvoice-ramps-up-...

3 points by HenryR 4 days ago 0 replies      
Cloudera is hiring: http://www.cloudera.com/company/careers/

UX, UI, PM, distributed systems engineer, operations engineer and more. We're in the Bay Area, down in Palo Alto and are genuinely a great company for which to work.

If you're interested in any of our positions, drop me a line at henry at cloudera.com and I'll get you in contact with the relevant people - in particular if you're a distributed systems guy looking for some seriously interesting problems to work on, I'd love to hear from you!

2 points by sanj 4 days ago 0 replies      
Newton, MA: TripAdvisor

We used to complain about a table having a billion pins. That's yesterday's news. Come help us figure out what to do with 100B rows of data. And how to do it.

1 point by swivelmaster 4 days ago 1 reply      
Sacramento, CA - Klicknation

We make games. On Facebook. But they're deeper and more interesting than other Facebook games, because we're gamers and we're not afraid to admit it. Our games were the first to feature animated battles, and we think they're still the best :)

Also, we're profitable, and not VC funded.

We've got two relatively successful Facebook games out, and we're always working on more. We've got some developers from some well known and established web startups, as well as artists who have worked with Marvel and D.C.


We're looking for developers. Must love games.


2 points by mdwrigh2 4 days ago 1 reply      
Also, please mention if you're hiring interns or not. I'm sure a number of college students (myself included) read HN, and are _very_ interested in working for one of you for the coming summer. Plus, it's just about that time, where we start applying and interviewing for internships.
2 points by zackola 4 days ago 1 reply      
http://StreetEasy.com, New York City

Cover letter and resume to:

  ruby -r base64 -e 'puts Base64.decode64("d29ya0BzdHJlZXRlYXN5LmNvbQ==")'

Seeking experienced ruby/rails developers! Curiosity about the New York City real estate market a a plus :)

4 points by andyh 4 days ago 0 replies      
Bump is hiring in Mountain View, CA!

We are rolling out increasingly smooth & useful Android and iOS clients, and also have some very interesting server/data things going on. Check out http://bu.mp/jobs

2 points by DEinspanjer 4 days ago 0 replies      
Not a startup, hope this doesn't offend. ;)

Mozilla Ops/Metrics teams are looking for a good Hadoop/HBase expert:

2 points by ThomPete 4 days ago 0 replies      
Bonn, Darmstadt (Germany)
Hatfield (UK)

T-Mobile Product Design is looking for talented individuals as they are expanding their product design division.

Interface designers, UX, Interaction Designers, Hardware Managers.

The cool thing about this product group is that it's run without the usual big corp politics. There are hard problems to work on and you will have the opportunity to bring your own product ideas into life.

I am helping them finding talented people.

PM me for details.

2 points by omakase 4 days ago 0 replies      
SOMA, San Francisco — BackType

Hiring is the most important thing a startup does. We care so much that we created an app to help us reach hackers and let our friends explain why you should join us:


1 point by qq66 4 days ago 0 replies      
EditRing is a VC-backed collaboration startup in San Francisco hiring COM/Windows engineers. We are looking for people who can easily switch between working on UIs inside Microsoft Office, COM interoperability layers, and Windows installers. If you have no experience with this kind of thing but are hardcore and can learn quickly, you should also get in touch with us.


We're not hiring full-time people remotely right now, but we would be open to remote contracting as a way of leading into full-time position in San Francisco.

2 points by jonursenbach 4 days ago 0 replies      
Bay Area. gdgt (http://gdgt.com/jobs)

Looking for PHP engineers. There's just 4 of us right now, but we're looking to rapidly expand and kick it into high gear.

2 points by agotterer 4 days ago 0 replies      
http://www.startupshiring.com. Over 1500 jobs from 200+ startups. Going to try and add all the companies listed on this post throughout the day.
2 points by Wump 4 days ago 0 replies      
Mountain View. iTeleport.


Prefer local. Telecommuting is a possibility. We would be able to provide relocation assistance as well.

We're looking for two awesome software engineers who want to work for a startup, are motivated to dive into new technologies and platforms, and want to help shape the direction of iTeleport.

We have a remote desktop app for the iPhone. You don't have to know Objective-C, or even own a MacBook or an iPhone (we'll provide all the hardware).

Email me with your resume:
vishal at iteleportmobile.com

2 points by petekoomen 4 days ago 0 replies      
Optimizely (http://www.optimizely.com) is a well-funded, Googler-founded, YCombinator company in San Francisco. We're primarily looking for bright, hard-working, fun people, but Python and/or Javascript experience is a plus. Must be up for both frontend and backend work. Interested parties can contact me at jobs@optimizely.com.

Here's a link to our recent TechCrunch private beta announcement, and a job description:

"YC-Funded Optimizely Makes It Remarkably Easy To Run A/B Tests On Your Website"

At Optimizely, our mission is to make it easier for organizations to make data-driven decisions, and we’re looking for driven engineers to help us lead the way!

1 point by bkrausz 2 days ago 0 replies      
Mountain View, CA. GazeHawk. http://www.gazehawk.com/jobs/

Looking for super awesome hire #1.

2 points by bhiggins 4 days ago 0 replies      
Seattle, WA. Networking (not social, computer) startup, need systems people and C programmers. Email me at ben at rkgenubc.pbz (rot13 the domain part). No remote.
2 points by fpotter 4 days ago 0 replies      
San Francisco @ Dogpatch Labs / Pieceable Software / http://pieceable.com

We're making Pieceable, a web service that enables almost anyone to build native mobile applications. The apps are assembled from pre-built "pieces", and the user only has to focus on content + styling instead of development.

We're launching v1 later this month but it only scratches the surface. There's so much more to do. We use Objective-C (w/ Three20) on iPhone, Cappuccino on the web, and (gasp!) Java on the backend.

We're looking for help on the engineering & biz-dev fronts. Email fpotter@pieceable.com

1 point by SoftwareMaven 4 days ago 0 replies      
Orem, UT: ClickLock (http://clicklock.com/) is hiring one or two software engineers with equity. Technologies are pretty broad, including Python, JVM languages, C#, and C++.

Email: travis@clicklock.com

2 points by kurumo 4 days ago 0 replies      
Bloomberg, NY, London & elsewhere.

News R&D is looking for people to work on a real time news search engine. Great place to work on interesting problems.




2 points by areitz 4 days ago 0 replies      
Sugar Inc, San Francisco, no remote

Small engineering team (<30) at a mid-sizeish, startup-ish company, and we're looking for 4 engineers: 2 PHP, one Java, one Objective C. More info here:


Recent interview by Kara Swisher of Brian Sugar (CEO):


1 point by apgwoz 4 days ago 0 replies      
Meetup.com -- NYC

Current openings:
API Engineer,
QA Engineers,
Senior Systems Administrator,
Software Engineers,
UI Designer,
UI Engineers

We work with Java (and use Jython in production as well) on Apache with Tomcat on GNU/Linux, use MySQL and HBase for storing our data, cache a ton of stuff in Memcache, and are just starting to deploy Varnish for various things. We're also using Ruby/PERL/CPython for some tasks.

Check out the full descriptions at http://www.meetup.com/jobs and apply from there, or send your resume to the address in my profile.

1 point by jbyers 4 days ago 0 replies      
San Francisco / Wikispaces / Front-End Engineer
1 point by joebasirico 4 days ago 0 replies      
Seattle, WA

Security Innovation is hiring some great Software Security Engineers. We help our customers find security issues before for they ship by reviewing code, finding vulnerabilities in their software manually, writing tools, reverse engineering, and analyzing their architecture and design. We get to work on all kinds of different projects: Web, Mobile, Firmware, Desktop Apps, and much more.

We're looking for a couple of great engineers to start soon. The ideal candidate would posses strong development skills, both in standard application development languages (C/C++, Java, C#, etc.) and a scripting language (python, perl, ruby, etc.) They'd also be passionate and knowledgeable about existing security vulnerabilities, attacks and threats (XSS, SQL injection, Buffer Overflows, CSRF, etc.).

Security Innovation is a really cool place to work, we're constantly challenged to learn new things and given the opportunity to grow. (Annual Conference budget, Take Friday afternoons off to work on professional development projects, and lots more). Our open layout office is located just two blocks away from Pike Place Market.

If this sounds like something you'd be interested in, please drop me a line with your resume. (jbasirico@securityinnovation.com - please put "hacker news job posting" in the subject line) or check out our "official" job posting at http://securityinnovation.com/company/careers/job-security-e...

1 point by qhoxie 4 days ago 0 replies      
Software Engineer - SF

Scribd is hiring for a few different positions.

We work in ruby, but there is plenty of java, python, and other variety mixed in when it makes sense.

The engineering team is comprised of many of HN readers who genuinely enjoy what they do and are driven to solve challenging problems. If you are interested, you can check out our jobs page or email me directly with any questions.


2 points by newy 4 days ago 0 replies      
Palo Alto. Opzi just announced on TC, great reception.


2 points by dgudkov 4 days ago 0 replies      
Eastern Europe. Looking for cofounder with strong skills in Javascript/canvas. Telecommuting is OK.

Project - embeddable web-charts with some smart & unique social features. Prototype is ready.

For contact info please see profile.

2 points by riffat 1 day ago 0 replies      
Mountain View, CA www.thefind.com
Profitable Start - Up. We are recruiting for a Web UI Enginer and a Crawler Engineer.If you have experience in building or managing a large scale crawler, that’s a huge plus. If you’ve architected high transaction distributed systems written in C++, you might be the right person for the job. Please email rjaffer@thefind.com
2 points by rabble 4 days ago 0 replies      
Cubox SA - Montevideo, Uruguay

Rails Development - Bootstrapping products.

Pair Programming, Awesome Office, TDD, Rails.

2 points by fara 4 days ago 0 replies      
devartis - Buenos Aires, Argentina (no telecommute)

A small, fast growing, software factory looking for ninja engineers (mobile & web)

2 points by asuth 4 days ago 0 replies      

Quizlet is a study platform for high school and college students. We're one of the few web companies that's gotten lots of traction in education -- 2M uniques a month and growing.

We're looking for PHP/JS developers who are excited about making an impact in education.


1 point by bbuffone 4 days ago 0 replies      
Yottaa - Boston, MA - http://www.yottaa.com/about/jobs

We are looking for a motivated individual with passion for web technology and community engagement to join the team as the company's marketing leader.

Someone here must be a marketing guru.

3 points by jordanf 4 days ago 0 replies      
Groupon is looking to hire designers, frontend developers and more in Chicago, Illinois. http://www.groupon.com/jobs
1 point by shadchnev 4 days ago 0 replies      
Forward Internet Group in London, UK: http://www.forward.co.uk

We're a young entrepreneurial company that bootstrapped its way from its founder bedroom to a 150-strong company with very healthy profits in 6 years without any external capital. We have been doubling our revenues every single year (up to £100m in 2010) and plan to continue to do it as long as possible. So, we need great people.

We're looking for great developers to work on a variety of exciting online projects. We use Closure, Ruby, Hadoop, Node.js, Sinatra etc.

Above all we're looking for smart, ambitious, entrepreneurial people. Full job spec is here: http://www.forward.co.uk/careers

And it's fun to work here: you choose the hardware you want, you buy the books you need, the hours are flexible, no dress code, the people are reasonable and the entertainment budget is generous: for example the entire company hangs out in Las Vegas night clubs and casinos for 4 days every December and we've just returned from Disneyland in Paris (birthday celebrations).

To find out more email me at evgeny.shadchnev@forward.co.uk with your CV.

1 point by ethank 1 day ago 0 replies      
Burbank, CA
Warner Music Group

I'm hiring a mobile apps contractor to handle PM, QA, R&D and assorted acronyms for iOS primarily and Android secondarily. Its contract to start, full time soon.

I will have positions soon for some big-data work, Python, Mongo, etc.

Contact me if interested in discussing. ethan.kaplan [@] wmg.com

1 point by arupchak 4 days ago 0 replies      
Amazon.com - Seattle, WA - No remote

Please email me directly at ${hn_username}@gmail.com

The Amazon Services team is looking for a great Systems Support Engineer to keep our systems running. You should be comfortable in a Linux environment, be able to automate everything you did yesterday, and willing to troubleshoot and resolve new problems on a daily basis. Come join one of the fastest growing teams within Amazon.


-Maintain stability and performance of our systems via tickets during oncall shifts

-Diagnose and troubleshoot new production issues that affect our customers

-Create and maintain standard operating procedure documents for new issues identified

-Automate operational tasks to assist with our scaling needs


-Proficiency in a scripting language (Ruby, Perl, Python, Shell)

-Familiar with SQL databases

-Comfortable navigating a Linux environment

-Basic understanding of web application architectures

Bonus points:

-Written a Rails application

-Deep knowledge of Oracle databases

-Troubleshooting experience

-Ticketing experience

1 point by dyogenez 4 days ago 0 replies      
Orlando, Florida - IZEA, Inc. - Senior Ruby Developer


Izea is a really fun place to work, and you'd be working with a team of other ruby developers integrating with lots of well known systems (Twitter, Wordpress, Blogger, Oauth, etc).

Sites you'd be working on:

http://wereward.com and iPhone app!)

We're only hiring locally, but we're doing the whole "we'll help with your relocation expenses", so if you're a Ruby dev who is interested in moving to Orlando, please apply!

4 points by qixxiq 4 days ago 2 replies      
SnapBill (South Africa) is hiring developers, preferably local but remote is good too :
2 points by SpikeGronim 4 days ago 0 replies      
Wavii is hiring in Seattle, WA. Remote is an option.

Wavii automatically creates social content in real-time from news across the web.


Email me at <my-first-name>@wavii.com for more information.

2 points by kingryan 3 days ago 0 replies      
San Francisco: Twitter is hiring like crazy.

We're working on about a million interesting problems at scale, with resources and the ability to open source almost everything. We also have a good deal of fun. twitter.com/jobs or ryan@twitter.com

1 point by tdonia 4 days ago 0 replies      
Brooklyn, NY || telecommuting for the right person

We're looking for PHP/MySQL/Drupal and/or HTML/JS/CSS hackers to evolve our local news platform. You can see our product & network here: http://www.thedailynorwalk.com

tdonia (at) MainStreetConnect (.us) - mention hn, please

2 points by andyparsons 4 days ago 0 replies      
Newco, stealth mode well-funded NYC startup with lots of runway. Huge opportunity to join a small team building a very busy gamechanging consumer Web app. Hiring several developers. No legacy code- build this from scratch with us! RoR/jQuery front end, Scala for the heavy lifting and API.

Please email Andy Parsons, andy@obikosh.com

1 point by akv 4 days ago 0 replies      
Path Intelligence in Portsmouth, UK: http://www.pathintelligence.com

We think of ourselves as providers of analytics for the real world. By identifying the patterns of mobile phone movements we allow managers of shopping centres, airports and railway stations, exhibition centres, galleries and museums to understand the way that their customers or passengers behave.

We are looking for python developers, experienced web app developers, system administrators and data analysts.

Email short summary of past work experience, links to interesting projects and/or sample code to: team (at) pathintelligence.com

1 point by jchrisa 4 days ago 0 replies      
CouchOne is hiring core database engineers, HTML5 application devs, QE and QA, and more: http://www.couchone.com/jobs
1 point by kduncklee 4 days ago 0 replies      
Los Angeles area, CA
Fulcrum Microsystems (http://www.fulcrummicro.com), is looking for an Embedded Software Engineer to work on our embedded software, APIs, drivers and applications for our industry-leading semiconductor high-speed Ethernet switching devices. The position would be working on a mix of C, Python, and Perl. It's an awesome place to work and started out of a Caltech research group doing asynchronous VLSI.

Listing: http://www.fulcrummicro.com/documents/Job%20Opennings/125%20...

Email me with questions or resume: hn.kevin@duncklee.net

1 point by mickeyben 4 days ago 0 replies      
Letitcast is looking for interns in Paris.


We're doing rails but if you have experience in web development and love it we could have a talk.

Email your resume to mike at letitcast dot com

1 point by dstik 4 days ago 0 replies      
Santa Monica, CA and Austin, TX, USA - Demand Media

We're hiring for a number of our properties including: eHow, LIVESTRONG, Cracked, Tyra, and Demand Studios.

It's an exciting time at Demand and it's is a great place to work with a fun atmosphere and a lot to offer: great benefits, high scale and high profile projects, fun diversions (on-site game room, parties), flexible schedules, smart, fun people, stocked kitchens, serious hardware, and awesome locations.

We're mainly looking for:

  * PHP Developers
* C# Engineers
* Python Engineers
* UI Engineers (Front-end, JS/jQuery)

We have a lot going on and tons of exciting projects coming up, check out: http://www.demandmedia.com/jobs/

2 points by khangtoh 4 days ago 0 replies      
LeftRight DOES mobile & social gaming and we're hiring Rails and iPhone developers http://bit.ly/leftright_jobs

$2K for Referrals leading to hiring.

1 point by ews 4 days ago 0 replies      
Craigslist is still hiring in San Francisco : Coders, i18n/l10n engineers and i18n/l10n QA Engineers.

My mail address is on my profile.

1 point by jbarmash 4 days ago 0 replies      
NYC, EnergyScoreCards.com is hiring. We are in the hot energy efficiency / cleantech space, helping measure large buildings measure their energy use. We are looking for:

Developers (grails / java, but anybody with sharp skills would be considered).

Product manager to help work on new features, somebody with good visual sense.

Account manager - we sell to real estate portfolios and state agencies and need to manage those relationships.

UX person on a freelance basis, especially with experience in data visualization.

Bonus skills are experience in real estate market (residential multi-family or commercial), or background in energy efficiency / energy audits / building science, etc.

email: jean at energyscorecards dot com

1 point by cadr 4 days ago 0 replies      
San Francisco, SA. Blurb (http://www.blurb.com/join_us)

We're looking for Rails developers to help us help people tell their story - with books!

1 point by jeffgoldenson 4 days ago 0 replies      
The Harvard Library Innovation Laboratory is looking for somebody. We're new. We're trying to reimagine libraries through tech. It's a cool opportunity to join a good team.

To see some of what we're working on, check out the website:

Link to job description:

email: jgoldenson@law.harvard.edu


1 point by tocomment 4 days ago 0 replies      
A company I used to work for in Gaithersburg MD is looking for someone to do internal applications. It's a mix of Python, asp.net, php, and database stuff.

My email is in my profile. If you sound promising I'll send your resume over to them. No remote work possible.

1 point by Ryan_G 4 days ago 0 replies      
San Francisco / San Mateo / Seattle / Vancouver

Looking for Dev, QA (lots), and DevOps.

The Force.com Platform team is looking for Java Developers to help deliver the next evolution of its cloud application infrastructure, runtime and distribution architecture. Build the platform that enables developers to code, deploy, run and manage applications in the cloud.

1 point by biaxident 4 days ago 0 replies      
London (UK) - Leap (http://www.leapcr.com)

We're looking for a Rails developer to join our London based team. You'll be joining our team in the heart of Soho to work on our employee volunteering platform. If you're a developer looking to do some good then this might be the place for you.

We just posted a job post up on Github: http://jobs.github.com/positions/a9838284-cd77-11df-8c7c-acf...

1 point by AlphaSarah 2 days ago 0 replies      
Toronto, Canada - Java Developer - Alpha Group

The Alpha product competes with the trading engine of the TSX. Currently about 25% of the trades on the TSX trade through our engine and NOT the TSX. We are a small company with a big vision and we are looking to expand our team by hiring a java developer. Ideally we'd like someone with 7+ years of solid java dev experience in core java not just j2ee/web app dev.

If you want the all boring details on the role you can check out our posting on workopolis.com otherwise you can apply directly by sending your resume to opportunities@alphatradingsystems.ca.

2 points by baran 4 days ago 0 replies      
If your in Madison WI look us up. We're HealthFinch, info in bio.
1 point by imusicmash 4 days ago 0 replies      
Allegiance out of their Austin office. We build a customer feedback data analysis platform. Always innovating with data mining, text mining, social media, survey, and operations data to find new insights for our clients. Looking for talented .Net software engineers who love to find more value in data.

several dev jobs available:

3 points by len 4 days ago 1 reply      

LigerTail is looking for Python hackers. Email in the profile.

1 point by drosenthal 4 days ago 0 replies      
- Northern Virginia based database startup in stealth.

- Founded by engineers with prior >$50MM exit.

- A very challenging and exciting project.

- We are looking for self-motivated, smart software engineers.

- Specific skills of interest: Systems programming, C++, engineering for high performance, asynchronous/distributed programming, data structures.

Contact: info at foundation-d-b dot com [with no dashes]

Update: Not hiring remote employees at this time.

1 point by RyanBrogan 2 days ago 0 replies      
Our new NYC startup jumpkick is seeking Rails developers to work remotely with our team on some outstanding tickets and ongoing efforts to help us get to Beta in coming months.

Must have strong experience in large consumer facing data driven sites, especially those with social components, matching algorithms, recommendation engines, NLP i.e. dating sites, social networks, pandora, linkedin, etc.. We're building something special. It's also in Rails 3.

Ryan@MagnetAgency.net for more info.

I should also point out that Magnet Agency, our next gen recruiting company, has gobs of opportunities all the time for NYC talent in development, product management, sales and marketing and we do alot of exec search. We don't work with BS companies, every client is a killer tech startup or top agency/media brand we'd work at ourselves.

1 point by pjy04 4 days ago 0 replies      
IPPLEX is hiring System Administrators and Database Management positions in the Santa Monica area.


1 point by chriskbrown 4 days ago 0 replies      
San Francisco, CA & Baltimore, MD

Millennial Media

Web dev, mobile app dev, software engineering, QA, and MIS positions are open.


We are venture-backed and a leader in the mobile advertising space. See the link above or email me if you're interested: cbrown@millennialmedia.com

2 points by imoawesome 4 days ago 0 replies      
Palo Alto, CA - imo is looking for software engineers and an operations engineer. (https://imo.im/jobs.html) Our current team consists of top TopCoders, ACM ICPC World Finalists, and medalists of the International Olympiads in Informatics. We work on challenging projects that we choose from the ground up that have direct impact on our users.
1 point by slashdot 3 days ago 0 replies      
Montreal, Quebec. Tungle http://www.tungle.me/Home/careers/

We're looking for a C#/Java developer, and QA lead (python/selenium).
Small team (under 20), smart people, and beer hour on Fridays :)

1 point by mthreat 4 days ago 0 replies      
Austin, TX - Indeed.com - one search, all jobs.

We're a job search engine. We're hiring for the following engineering jobs, all in more detail at http://www.indeed.jobs/

* Jr. Linux System Administrator

* Software Development Engineer

* Statistician / Quantitative Analyst

* User Interface Developer

* Web Front End Developer

2 points by ericsilver 4 days ago 0 replies      
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; remote not an option.

Hiring Rails Developers and developers who'd like to become Rails Developers in Pittsburgh. We're building web-based decision tools meant to complement search and need folks interested in working on the front end and helping us to improve our algorithms.


1 point by llopatin 4 days ago 0 replies      
In New York:

Digital Production and Outsourcing Sales Manager

In Buenos Aires:

Tech PM - http://bit.ly/doiY3f
Web Devs - http://bit.ly/cTquHE

And a bunch of other positions.

1 point by hogu 4 days ago 0 replies      
NYC,London,Austin. Enthought is hiring, we're a scientific computing company working on Numpy and Scipy, and we do some consulting as well.

We're looking for Python/C/C++ developers who are good at math, numerical methods, numerical optimization, signal processing, statistics, etc..

1 point by gyepi 4 days ago 1 reply      
Rails Developer - Salem, MA or telecommute

Work on back end of customized fashion platform.
Lots of interesting and challenging problems.
Posting here: http://www.fashionplaytes.com/content/jobs
Send me your resume: gsam@fashionplaytes.com

1 point by Tomek_ 4 days ago 0 replies      
Softonic.com, most openings in Barcelona, some also in Madrid.
Knowledge of Spanish not necessary for technical openings;
remote not an option.
1 point by freyfogle 4 days ago 0 replies      
We're in London (no telework). Always looking for talented devs - especially those with an interest in all things geo.


Look forward to hearing from you

1 point by mark_rotenberg 3 days ago 0 replies      
Carlsbad, California based Bunkspeed is hiring talented C# developers to work on 3D rendering tools. We just got a $3.5M investment from RTT, our Munich-based counterpart, at the same time they got a large strategic investment from Siemans. WPF, Silverlight, Mono, cloud, distributed processing, CAD integration, HTML5. Many of us are former game developers who wanted to do something equally challenging but less chaotic and better architected. Seeking 4-5 local developers with a variety of skill levels.


1 point by buymorechuck 4 days ago 0 replies      
Palo Alto, CA - Flipboard.

Seeking awesome iOS or web developer who cares about design that works and building cool things.

[NSString stringWithFormat:@"%@+hn@%@.com", @"charles", @"flipboard"]

2 points by rchiba 4 days ago 0 replies      
If there are any internship positions, please post here or there: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=1749103
1 point by flipp 4 days ago 0 replies      
Palo Alto, CA.

Udemy is hiring rockstar engineers and developers. http://www.udemy.com/static/jobs.html

1 point by jmccarthy 4 days ago 0 replies      

* Ruby - http://goo.gl/N4lR

* Revenue - http://goo.gl/GvhL

* Reach - http://goo.gl/Phid

We love design, data, shipping (software), shipping (packages), and doing our part to make education a bit more affordable.

Call or text Justin @ 415.948.3262, or join us in Campfire at https://book.campfirenow.com/1acca

1 point by kylecordes 4 days ago 0 replies      
St. Louis, MO, USA: Oasis Digital is hiring.


1 point by theschnaz 4 days ago 0 replies      
1 point by robotsasquatch 4 days ago 0 replies      
Boston, MA. litl, LLC -

Looking for a Build/Release Engineer:


1 point by narcvs 4 days ago 1 reply      

Come rock with us in MV and NY,

Email me at marcus@meebo.com

1 point by poolhouse 4 days ago 0 replies      
Toronto, Ontario. Poolhouse Enterprises, the makers of the Dogbook and Catbook Facebook applications, is hiring. We're looking for a talented back end developer (SQL, EC2, PHP frameworks) who is passionate about social and mobile apps. If interested send us an e-mail.
What developers think when you say "Rock Star" hirelite.com
170 points by nathanh 1 day ago   85 comments top 34
66 points by Xurinos 1 day ago 1 reply      
Whenever I hear the phrases "rock star developer" or "code ninja", I think, "Oh, they want some young fresh-out-of-college full-of-himself developer who thinks a language named after a rock is the wave of the future."

Jokes aside, those phrases raise red flags in my mind. I think maybe it is that from such an employer, I would expect to see the occasional presentation with swear words ("We're all adults, here" -- "Sure, but you act like you just left your parents' house, and with your first taste of freedom, you express your naughty self."). Ah, that is the word I am looking for: professionalism. I have a hard time taking them seriously.

36 points by sbov 1 day ago 2 replies      
When a company asks for a rock star developer, I think pretty much this:

> "Rock star" signals that you haven't thought enough about the role this developer will fill, leaving developers with a feeling that they'll be receiving ill-defined requirements, not enough time, or not enough resources to do their job (in addition to being overworked and underpaid).

Or more specifically, they really need 5 people to do this work, but they only plan to get 1.

26 points by joe_the_user 1 day ago 2 replies      
What I think of when I hear "Rock Star Programmers"?

I think how most musicians, signed to a major label, who perform as "rock stars" still get a net zero payoff after two years.

I think how if programming degenerated to the level of music or motion pictures, the average programmer would labor for nearly nothing in a start-up "hoping to be discovered" while handful got a fake buy-outs with no long term money and a much smaller handful became actual multi-millionaires.

29 points by TamDenholm 1 day ago 2 replies      
I've always felt like going to a "rock star" job interview with dyed blue hair in a mohawk, ripped jeans, chains, black string vest, black nail polish, black eye liner, leather jacket, walk in late and demand only blue M&M's.
19 points by smokey_the_bear 1 day ago 1 reply      
A Microsoft recruiter told me I was a rockstar after an internship interview in 2001. It felt awesome at the time. But now it sounds like a dated way to recruit 19 year olds.
15 points by kabdib 1 day ago 2 replies      
Rock Star = I get to fix the problems, all the race conditions and exceptions and bugs that the RS developer didn't do a good job on.

Rock Star = He looked more productive than he actually was.

28 points by fablednet 1 day ago 1 reply      
A recruiter contacted me via email looking for a developer "at the Jedi level". Interestingly, though she said she'd read my resume, she was looking for a Java developer in Maryland (I am a Ruby developer in Chicago). I asked her to clarify what skills the Jedi level entailed (I couldn't help myself). She wrote back and said that it meant they wanted "a rock star"

Recursive Super-Hero Bingo for the win!

30 points by zachwaugh 1 day ago 1 reply      
If by rock star, you mean someone that parties all night, comes in late and hungover, has weird contractual demands, and trashes hotel rooms on business trips, then yes, I guess I'm a rock star. When do I start?
12 points by JustinSeriously 1 day ago 0 replies      
My experience is "Rails, small team, git or hg, won't mind you reading programming blogs during work hours, office environment will look fun, telecommuting unlikely."
4 points by grammaton 1 day ago 0 replies      
Whenever someone is advertising for "Rock Stars," I immediately have two thoughts:

1) Will they be paying me Rock Star money?

2) Oh great, another bunch of douchebag middle managers trying to sound trendy....

There is no way that they really want a rock star, i.e. a fussy, unreliable prima donna who won't work unless they get things their way. What they really want is a genius who's inexplicably dumb enough to work for median salary.

8 points by terra_t 1 day ago 0 replies      

I worked at one of these places, as a contractor. They never offer health insurance. They buy a lot of pizza and junk food, and give out lots of cheap praise, but will never send you to a conference or otherwise contribute to your well-being or professional development.

These guys offered me a permanent position, and I turned it down for a real job.

13 points by jw84 1 day ago 0 replies      
Cargo cult practice in effect.
6 points by motters 1 day ago 1 reply      
The whole notion of software engineers having much in common with rock stars seems rather misguided. Being a software engineer does not usually involve making loud noises, trashing hotel rooms, having a shallow superficial personality, attracting teenage groupies of the opposite sex, repeatedly firing your manager or buying football teams.
3 points by BrandonM 1 day ago 1 reply      
The analogy breaks down when the author implies that rock star musicians (or really musicians of any kind) are paid a salary by the record companies. All the record companies pay are advances, and then the rest is just gouging the artist's creative output for every expense they can muster.

At first I thought that's what the article was going to get into: "We want you to produce amazingly high-quality output for an unfairly-low wage and relatively low performance bonuses." Instead it implied that rock star musicians get a significantly better deal than "rock star engineers," and that's pretty bogus. Just ask an aspiring rock star if they'd like to make ~$75K base salary with bonuses (i.e. equity) that reward the quality of their output.

5 points by lr 1 day ago 0 replies      
I think we owe it to the community to email this link to the poster of a job position that mentions wanting a "rock star" programmer.
6 points by lwhi 1 day ago 0 replies      
Recruitment consultants and estate agents have a lot in common - both use limited vocabulary as props to fill adverts they don't spend nearly enough time thinking about.

A house with 'character' is in a bad state of repair.

A 'rockstar developer' is competent, but young enough to not know his or her worth.

8 points by nickdunkman 1 day ago 1 reply      
It's just semantics. The term rock star was involved in the recruiting process of my current job, and those who used it included a great hands on CTO and a CEO with above average tech knowledge. I had no illusions as to some kind of huge salary or RIAA like treatment.

It's cliche, yea. But sooner or later you'll miss out on a great opportunity if you run away when you see "rock star".

4 points by yummyfajitas 1 day ago 0 replies      
I recently discovered this site. Seems relevant:


7 points by iuguy 1 day ago 0 replies      
When I hear Rock Star Developer, I expect them to work for Rockstar Games. Otherwise they are not a Rock Star Developer.
5 points by thirdstation 1 day ago 6 replies      
Why are software developers segmented between "rock stars" and "not rock stars"?

A salary estimate search on Simply Hired for "rockstar accountant" yielded no results :-)

4 points by jph98 1 day ago 1 reply      
A rock star is somebody who plays in a rock band!

There is no such thing as a rock star developer. It's a stupid stupid term. You have no inherent connection with rock music, you are not famous and don't have thousands of adoring fans. I'm convinced that a number of balding, pony tailed idiot developers and snotty college grads think they do - but you don't - get over yourself.

Stop using the term, right, now, it's stupid, seriously.

I'm not going to get started on "code ninja". Jesus... WTF comes up with this rubbish.

5 points by newobj 1 day ago 0 replies      
"Rock Star" is the 2000's version of the 1990's intra-office Nerf fight. Bait for idiots to apply at bad companies.
6 points by ja27 1 day ago 1 reply      
I think "douchebag manager."
4 points by 5teev 1 day ago 0 replies      
Here it's just a lazy way for clueless HR people to say "highly/broadly skilled." It indicates as little thought as someone who says, "You rock!" when you performed some technical task they don't understand, whether it took ten hours or ten minutes.

Someday we may well ask, "What was it, once, to rock?"

3 points by seltzered 1 day ago 0 replies      
I see you posted a question about this six months ago: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=1248389
4 points by jonathanjaeger 1 day ago 0 replies      
Finally someone put into words the cringeworthy feeling of seeing "rock star" all over the place. On the other hand, I think people use the term because it so commonplace nowadays, rather than it being due to some sort of pretentious attitude or outlook.
4 points by flannell 1 day ago 2 replies      
There's only one rock star, Ajay Bhatt. Proof below.


2 points by mmt 1 day ago 0 replies      
If you want extraordinary people, can you compensate them extraordinarily or provide an extraordinary environment?

Being able and being willing may take a while to converge, usually after interviewing a large number of the ordinary.

1 point by pvg 1 day ago 0 replies      
It kind of reminds me of another fad where someone was equating hackers to painters. Oh wait.
2 points by alexyim 1 day ago 0 replies      
The difference between 50mil and 31k is 1622x, not 1622%.
1 point by joelmichael 1 day ago 1 reply      
I have never minded terms of endearment and respect like "rock star". Much better than being treated like a lowly cog, if you're the sort of developer that has some ambition and self-respect. I think the term comes from coders who are a bit hipper and more arrogant in their attitude than your typical computer nerd. I understand some might find that attitude grating, but I don't really care. Their attitudes are boring and docile.
1 point by tdfx 1 day ago 0 replies      
This captured my feelings exactly about the ubiquity of this term in wanna-be-trendy job postings. I've seen quite a few companies use it, and without exception, it has meant that the company didn't know what you'd even be doing. It also means the person that's hiring you probably wants to "jump on a call" to discuss things, to see how you can "build out" their ill-defined, overly ambitious projects with whack-a-mole feature creep.
1 point by sabat 1 day ago 0 replies      
"Rock star" is an overused term, sure. I don't know that its by hiring companies use makes developers think of abuse, though.
2 points by catshirt 1 day ago 1 reply      
always seems strange to me when a company publishes such a subjective post.
Ask HN: Good books?
163 points by bherms 3 days ago   161 comments top 82
17 points by jakevoytko 3 days ago 8 replies      
If you liked "Atlas Shrugged", you will love "East of Eden" by George Steinbeck. It has some passages on self-determination that puts anything found in Rand to shame. It's a tome, and it starts slow - do yourself a favor and make it through the introduction of one of the villains, Kathy (chapter 8 or so). It doesn't slow down after that.

"The Watchmen" by Alan Moore. It may be a graphic novel, but the issues it raises on ethics and morality are chilling. I still think about the ending every now and then, and I haven't read it in over a year.

"To Kill a Mockingbird" by Harper Lee. In addition to the primary themes on class, race, and the killing of innocents, it has an interesting thread on living with your own moral code.

"Catch 22" by Joseph Heller. Ostensibly a satire of the military, this is a good self-reflection on the American soul (circa 1961).

"Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman!". The life of a Nobel winning physicist and renowned professor doesn't have to be boring.

"Everything is Illuminated" by Jonathan Safran Foer. The premise is too complicated to describe here, but it really delves into the cruelty and self-protectionism of the human heart. Plus, its hysterical!

"Slaughterhouse Five" by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. Describes the horror of war and the effect it has on the rest of your life.

"Chronicle of a Death Foretold" by Gabriel Garcia Marques. Tells the story of a murder that everyone in town knew would happen, but nobody tried to stop.

18 points by danilocampos 3 days ago 3 replies      
Bill Bryson, A Short History of Nearly Everything. It's a history of human reasoning, tracking the emergence of science into what we know today. Fills in a lot of meaningful gaps you may have forgotten from your various science courses, while providing the human side of major advances (rivalries, disappointments, hoaxes, all of it).

Science from a new perspective is excellent, but it's also such an interesting window on the many people who have struggled against really difficult problems to move humanity forward.

Also, make sure you go play Bioshock (the first one) for a sobering counterpoint on Randian thought. Atlas Shrugged is awesome, until you remember that you can't trust any group of people to maintain their rational behavior in the face of personal gains. Great story, and it'll drag you back from Randroid town (it did me, anyway). Either way, the kid in me would still love to have dinner in Galt's Gulch.

If you'd like to read eye-opening fiction, I heartily recommend The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, by Robert Heinlein. It's an incredible exploration of what it is to be free and how modern societies evolve at the expense of their citizens' personal liberties. One of the most thought-provoking pieces of fiction I've ever read, and lots of fun character-wise as well. (Incidentally, Heinlein was a fan of Ayn Rand, so if you liked Atlas Shrugged, you may find this even more interesting.)

7 points by lionhearted 2 days ago 5 replies      
Has no one recommended Musashi? Really? Here's a writeup I did in another comment -


If you're talented and get frustrated with stupid people, you have to read "Musashi" by Eiji Yoshikawa. I mean, you have to.

Musashi was one of the greatest (maybe the greatest) swordsman of all time. He invented a Japanese longblade/shortblade mixed style of swordsmanship, at one point fighting himself out of an ambush when he was attacked by over 30 men. He was undefeated in over 60 duels, including defeating arguably the second best swordsman in Japan at the time while fighting with a wooden oar he carved into a rough swordlike shape.

Here's Musashi's Wikipedia page:


The book by Eiji Yoshikawa is historical fiction - it's period accurate and follows all of Musashi's most well known story. It fills in some other details we don't know of Musashi's life - how he might have trained, some minor scuffles with bandits of the day, and it added a love story.

The book is exceptional. Musashi has immense amounts of raw talent, but is in conflict with himself in the world, arrogant, keeps getting into problems and trouble until he comes to more mastery and wisdom. Seriously, I read a lot, and this is hands-down my favorite book of all time. It's a hell of an enjoyable read, really pleasant and beautiful, fun and adventurous, but also filled with deep wisdom. It's a great swashbuckling story, but also teaches you about thinking critically, tactics, strategy, training, tradeoffs, and so on. Just a masterpiece. Easily the most influential book of my life.

No affiliate link:


13 points by swombat 3 days ago 3 replies      
Most books by Hermann Hesse, really... Narziss&Goldmund changed my perspective on life. If you have anything artistic in you, it's a must-read. Steppenwolf, Siddharta and the Glass Bead Game are other must-reads.

Gabriel Garcia Marques, One hundred years of solitude.

Practically all of Jorge Luis Borges' short stories. Mind-bending.

Milan Kundera's Unbearable Lightness of Being.

Michael Ende's Never Ending Story.


17 points by rglullis 3 days ago 6 replies      
Am I the only one who is very libertarian-inclined but hated Atlas Shrugged? Instead of creating characters that are human (with flaws, weaknesses, subject to emotional reactions) but that manage to "win" by sticking to some ideal, she creates characters that are the personification of that ideal, completely out of touch of reality.

I mean, not even Greek gods were perfect if you know basic mythology. Yet, you want me to believe that Hank Rearden will just give up "his true love" just because he sees value in Galt? And what happens with Rearden's self-interest? (as in, I want the girl, dammit!)

Acting out of self-interest in only valid when dealing with money? Stupid!

Besides, talking about the "Philosophy of Ayn Rand" is no different than talking about the "Theology of L. Ron Hubbard."

8 points by alexandros 2 days ago 0 replies      
Since you mentioned 'eye-opening fiction' I give you my wholehearted recommendation for Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality:


Don't be misled by the 'fanfic' tag, it's a mere shell for a very deep piece of work, endorsed by Eric S. Raymond and David Brin. Many have accused the author for slipping in a lot of his own voice, calling it his own 'Atlas Shrugged', but seeing as you liked that, I think you'll find this a pleasure, too.

11 points by RockyMcNuts 3 days ago 1 reply      

The Story of Philosophy: The Lives and Opinions of the World's Greatest Philosophers, by Will Durant. Written in the 30s, it covers some philosophers who would not be considered influential today, and doesn't do justice to the 20th century. But it's a relatively easy read, and clarified some guys I either didn't read or didn't appreciate in my freshman great books seminar.

Walden and Civil Disobedience, by Henry David Thoreau. Ah, the wisdom. Likewise The Essential Gandhi, by Mahatma Gandhi. Haven't read all of it or even as much as I should, but his autobiography of his early years and experiments with truth are the story of a great soul.

The Mind's I: Fantasies and Reflections on Self & Soul by Douglas R. Hofstadter. Various attempts to reconcile the mind-body dichotomy and build a science of cognition.

Human behavior

The Naked Ape: A Zoologist's Study of the Human Animal, by Desmond Morris. If you ask people why they act the way they do, they will probably talk about rational, moral, idealistic justifications... but if you were a primatologist, what would you say about why humans act the way they do? Morris, a zoologist familiar with great apes, describes how human behavior may owe much to ape biology and society as well as to big brains and rational and spiritual pretensions.

Invitation to Sociology: A Humanistic Perspective by Peter L. Berger. Humans don't really have the capacity to create new behaviors on the fly when faced with new situations, or to respond in real time to new behaviors in others. Instead people internalize roles and scripts that they act out in daily life with small variations, interpret others' actions in light of performances they have seen before, and collectively build shared narratives in a 'social construction of reality'.

How We Know What Isn't So: The Fallibility of Human Reason in Everyday Life by Thomas Gilovich. A grand tour of the fallibility of homo economicus, and reality torturing heuristic shortcuts that lead us astray.

Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, by Robert B. Cialdini. How markets, salesmen, lawyers, small children and other devious hucksters take advantage of our decisionmaking shortcuts for fun and profit.

Happier: Learn the Secrets to Daily Joy and Lasting Fulfillment by Tal Ben-Shahar. Came upon these after reading about his lectures, the most popular at Harvard. A lot of very sound advice to have a more positive outlook. I wish this influenced me more LOL. But applying it is no mean feat. Dan Gilbert also has Stumbling on Happiness, but haven't read that, and Gretchen Rubin, niece of Robert, has a bestseller - happiness is turning into a self-help fad and industry, but it seems empirically based and common sensical.


The Road to Serfdom, by F. A. Hayek. A powerful case against government overreaching and socialism. Focuses on the long run dynamism, information efficiency and evolutionary adaptability of markets which is lost when governments attempt to tame their shorter term inequities. Capitalism and Freedom is also strong, but Friedman, while brilliant, was somewhat more ideological, simplistic and one-sided.

Fortunes Formula: The Untold Story of the Scientific Betting System That Beat the Casinos and Wall Street, by William Poundstone. Ties together the common quests of pioneers of information theory, investors, and degenerate gamblers and mobsters.


The Razor's Edge, Somerset Maugham. A case study of ways in which different types of motivation can dominate different people in constructive and destructive ways.

The Jewel in the Crown, by Paul Scott. In each chapter, a different character relates a Rashomon-like point of view of a shocking crime, and through them a mystery is explained, and a complex portrait of India's many faces is revealed.

I have a soft spot for satirical Brit-novels, like Vanity Fair, The Way We Live Now, and Wodehouse.


Buffett: The Making of an American Capitalist, by Roger Lowenstein. An insightful biography of the greatest living investor, or maybe of all time.

Gates, by Manes and Andrews, is also very good.


Dancing Wu Li Masters: An Overview of the New Physics, by Gary Zukav, and The Tao of Physics, by Fritjof Capra, on the unbearable elusiveness of reality. If a particle is just a probability density function of potential interactions with other particles, does the substance of reality reside in the particle, or in the interaction?

Grammatical Man : Information, Entropy, Language and Life, by Jeremy Campbell. Is the substance of reality matter or information, or are they the same? If biology is applied chemistry, which is applied physics, which is applied mathematics, maybe mathematics is the study of formal systems, which is a subset of things that can be computed and decided, ie computer science, which is a subset of things can be expressed and communicated, ie information theory.

The Emperor's New Mind: Concerning Computers, Minds, and the Laws of Physics by Roger Penrose, a massive grand tour of scientific knowledge and big questions of the late 20th century. When you get done with that, go for the sequel, The Road to Reality: A Complete Guide to the Laws of the Universe... I haven't yet, but good luck!

6 points by Symmetry 3 days ago 0 replies      
Trying to confine myself to books I haven't seen others mention:

"Guns, Votes, and Democracy" is a wonderful book about democracy in the third world and is both insightful and surprisingly readable.

"The Retreat to Commitment" is the only philosophy book I'd actually recommend.

"The Design of Everyday Things" is a book for anyone who makes or uses things.

"The Transparent Society" is a thought provoking book on the future of privacy.

"The Mystery of Capital" is a book on the importance of non-corrupt government in successful capitalism, a good point of view to have in addition to Rand.

"The Strategy of Conflict" on how to use game theory in the real world, and negotiations especially.

3 points by jseliger 3 days ago 1 reply      
See here: http://jseliger.com/2010/03/22/influential-books-on-me-that-... for a list of influential books on me. I actually have a half-written post on books I wish I'd read when I was younger; here it is:

1. <em>Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience</em> by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

2. <em>The Guide to Getting It On</em> by Paul Johannides [sp?]

3. <em>The Mating Mind: How Sexual Choice Shaped the Evolution of Human Nature</em> by Geoffrey Miller

4. <em>Hackers & Painters</em> by Paul Graham

5. <em>Man's Search for Meaning</em> by Viktor Frankl

6. <em>Stumbling on Happiness</em> by Daniel Gilbert

In all cases, I think these books profoundly shaped how not only I think, but I think others can learn to think too. All suddenly revealed new connections and ideas about the world I'd never experienced or expected to experience before.

Granted, no book can be removed from its context, and its possible that if I'd read some of the books above as a younger person I wouldn't have been ready to appreciate them. But <em>Flow</em> seems by far the most valuable of the choices listed above because it engulfs more of the content of the others than any other choice.

Steven Berlin Johnson's new book Where Ideas Come From looks promising: http://www.amazon.com/Where-Good-Ideas-Come-Innovation/dp/15... .

8 points by andre3k1 3 days ago 1 reply      
If you're looking for something different then check out The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch. It's is an eye-opening book in a very nontraditional sense.

You may remember Pausch as the computer science professor at Carnegie Mellon who was told that he had but a few months left to live (cancer). This book doesn't stray from its topic: "What wisdom would we impart to the world if we knew it was our last chance?" If you're looking for motivation and an "out of the box" approach to analyzing daily life then this is it.

Here's the book: http://www.amazon.com/Last-Lecture-Randy-Pausch/dp/140132325...

Here's the famous speech: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ji5_MqicxSo

5 points by alinajaf 2 days ago 1 reply      
I am a total whore for historical fiction:

'Shogun' by James Clavell was the first book I read that had me glued to it for hours and hours at a time. Tai Pan is also a classic.

I also found the original three Courtney books by Wilbur Smith (starting with 'The Sound of Thunder') were a guilty pleasure. They are pure trash, with thin characters and a predictable plot but epic adventure nonetheless.

More recently I've topped off the 'Emperor' series (chronicling Julius Ceasars life) and have started the 'Conqueror' series (same thing, but its about Genghis Khan). Both by Conn Iggulden.

Not quite at the same literary level as some of the other suggestions here but I was wondering if I was the only one.

7 points by kranner 3 days ago 1 reply      
Hermann Hesse's novel "The Glass Bead Game".

Ostensibly it's about this sophisticated game played in a monastery that abstracts over the sum of human knowledge. To me it presented a very potent argument for the value of academia in a commercially-driven world.

If nothing else, it nicely counterbalances the monomaniacal ambition and stress of tech startup land in a way that us geeks can appreciate.

6 points by zootar 3 days ago 2 replies      
"The Moral Landscape: How Science Can Determine Human Values" by Sam Harris is a new release which falls into the category of philosophy, remarks on human behavior, and is bound to reference Bertrand Russell.

Harris, who has trained both as a philosopher and a neuroscientist, argues against the popular notion that science can have little or nothing to say about morality. Necessarily, he confronts related ideas like moral questions having no objectively right answer and science and religion being "nonoverlapping magisteria". Basically, he says that all moral questions must relate to maximizing the wellbeing of conscious creatures, and that what increases or decreases a creature's wellbeing can be studied scientifically at the level of the brain.

I just started reading it. Even if I'm not yet sure that I'm going to be completely convinced of the claim that "science can determine human values," I'm finding Harris to be a very clear thinker, as well as an amusing writer.

If you want a taste of his ideas and style, you can watch his TED talk, "Science can answer moral questions."


(It isn't available from Amazon until October 5; I bought my copy in a bookstore.)

7 points by yewweitan 3 days ago 1 reply      
If I were to name one, it would be "The Black Swan", by Nassim Nicholas Taleb.

You hear all the time about how unlikely it is for someone to succeed as a startup. Or how the Democrats have a 65% chance of winning. Or even how statistically speaking, it's safer to fly than to drive.

After going through that book, my perception on randomness was changed forever.

6 points by peteforde 3 days ago 1 reply      
Non-fiction: "Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion" by Robert Cialdini

Fiction: "Cloud Atlas" by David Mitchell

I'm going to assume that you've read Crytonomicon and Snowcrash by Neal Stephenson, but if not... they are #1 on any list.

7 points by pquerna 3 days ago 2 replies      
One of my all time favorites is Zen and the art of motorcyle maintenance.
3 points by metamemetics 3 days ago 1 reply      
Gravity's Rainbow (Pynchon)

The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge (Rilke)

The Age of Extremes: A History of the World, 1914-1991 (Hobsbawm)

Bhagavad Gita


Crimes Against Logic: Exposing the Bogus Arguments of Politicians, Priests, Journalists, and Other Serial Offenders (Whyte)

Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus (Wittgenstein)

edit: added 2 more & author names

3 points by peteforde 3 days ago 0 replies      
I have recently gotten into long-form magazine articles, and I encourage you to check out Kevin Kelly's list:


Plus http://longform.org/ and http://givemesomethingtoread.com/ are both excellent.

Neal Stephenson's "Mother Earth, Mother Board: Wiring the Planet" in particular was formative for me as a teenager.


3 points by cj 2 days ago 2 replies      
Man's Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl

Amazing book on the meaning of life from the founder of logotherapy (therapy based on helping clients to find meaning in their life) who is also a holocaust survivor.

The first 2/3 of the book is an autobiography about his experiences in the concentration camps and the psychological mindset of the prisoners. The last 1/3 takes his experiences and outlines the basis for which logotherapy lies. Reading it was a profound experience. It's the kind of book that you will think back to a few times a month for the rest of your life.

4 points by zackattack 3 days ago 0 replies      
The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind, by Julian Jaynes, is the best book I've read this year. It profoundly changed the way I look at things. I also found Sperm Wars to be very enlightening, ditto Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer.
3 points by JeffL 2 days ago 0 replies      
"Economics in One Lesson" by Henry Hazlitt is one of those perfect little books that can greatly expand your world view in one night. I highly recommend it. (http://www.amazon.com/Economics-One-Lesson-Shortest-Understa...)

Also, I second Walden by Thoreau and suggest you read the Fountainhead. The Fountainhead isn't quite as blunt as Atlas Shrugged, but I find it a lot more life affirming and positive.

3 points by acangiano 2 days ago 0 replies      
If you are interested in finding great new books, you could sign up with the service I created: http://anynewbooks.com. It's not exactly a recommendation service, but it's useful to spot interesting new titles that come out regularly.</shameless-plug>
4 points by coderholic 3 days ago 2 replies      
"Fooled By Randomness" by Taleb is one of my favourite books of all time! I found it really eye-opening.

I'm currently reading "Outliers" by Gladwell, and it's a great read! I'll probably try and pick up a copy of his "Tipping point" next.

Another good psychology/behaviour/economics book is "Freakonomics", and it's sequel "SuperFreakonomics". Both interesting reads. If you haven't read "Fooled by randomness" yet though I'd definitely recommend that first!

2 points by niyazpk 3 days ago 1 reply      
Here is a list of books that I made a while ago by looking at the top recommended books from various places.


The list contains fiction as well as non-fiction. My pick: Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts - One of the best books I read last year (fiction).

1 point by pstuart 17 hours ago 0 replies      
Robert Anton Wilson: The Illuminati Trilogy (rethink your thinking)

Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal (very spiritual in its own way, but highly entertaining)

3 points by tlrobinson 3 days ago 0 replies      
If you're looking for a list of books with an entrepreneur focus, there's a good list over on Quora: http://www.quora.com/What-books-should-entrepreneurs-read
2 points by inovica 2 days ago 1 reply      
I apologise that I'm not going to mention any specific books that I really recommend, but this seems like a good place to mention how great audio books can be. I love reading, but dont have anywhere near the time I used to these days to do it. I discovered audio books about 2 years ago whilst driving my young children to school. Its a 1-hour round trip, so for 30 minutes I'm in the car on my own. I've really enjoyed listening to business biographies (Richard Branson) through to books that I have been a bit sceptical about but have still picked up some good tips (4-hour work week). If you have a commute or a time when you're regularly able to listen to an audio book I thoroughly recommend them. It's very difficult to read whilst driving (!) so the audio book works well for me
2 points by arethuza 3 days ago 1 reply      
Someone mentions Jared Diamond's "Guns, Germs and Steel" below - which is very good. However, can I strongly recommend his book "Collapse" - which is rather thought provoking.


On a related note, a novel that looks at some interesting very long lived organizations and has some interesting philosophical components I'd recommend Neal Stephenson's Anathem:


3 points by DuncanIdaho 3 days ago 0 replies      
Reading first and second Dune trilogy would give you a lot of what you are asking for.

Also I would recommend reading Alamut from Vladimir Bartol.

For more serious works - I would offer Machiavelli's Discourses on Livy.

5 points by mcdowall 3 days ago 0 replies      

Always find something useful for me there.

2 points by dedalus 2 days ago 0 replies      
People nicely covered it here. A few other additions:

(a) Why is Sex Fun (http://www.amazon.com/Why-Sex-Fun-Evolution-Sexuality/dp/046...): covers the history of human sexuality

(b) The Prophet: http://www.katsandogz.com/gibran.html

(c) Demon Haunted World by Sagan http://www.amazon.com/Demon-Haunted-World-Science-Candle-Dar... is a nice place to explain the method of science

(d) Sleepwalkers (http://www.amazon.com/Sleepwalkers-History-Changing-Universe...) gives you an idea of how we humans,err,sidetrack and ultimately come to explaining the universe

That should be enough for this summer

2 points by marknutter 2 days ago 0 replies      
Read George R. R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series. Whether or not you are into fantasy, it's a must read series, not to mention it's been picked up as an HBO series too. Everybody I've recommended it to has loved it, regardless of their opinions about Fantasy (going on 20+ people now). Just read it!
3 points by nandemo 3 days ago 0 replies      
3 points by bobds 3 days ago 0 replies      
Check out: http://fivebooks.com/

"Every day an eminent writer, thinker, commentator, politician, academic chooses five books on their specialist subject. From Einstein to Keynes, Iraq to the Andes, Communism to Empire. Share in the knowledge and buy the books."

2 points by GHFigs 3 days ago 0 replies      
Gut Feelings: The Intelligence of the Unconscious by Gerd Gigerenzer. Ignore the breezy Gladwellesque title, it's much better than that and touches on philosophy, human behavior and economics. He presents an alternative view of the same sorts of phenomena that Kahneman & Tversky's work in behavioral economics, about which I might say more but my nephew is tugging at my sleeve.
3 points by blrgeek 2 days ago 0 replies      
Want to blow your mind?

Keep an open mind, and a sense of wonder when you read these for max effect!

Hitch-hikers guide to the galaxy. I was hooked at "The big yellow ships hung in the air just the way bricks don't."

Dune - what does scarcity do to a society?

Isaac Asimov - Robot series. Foundation series. All of his short stories, esp. The Last Question, Nightfall.

A.C. Clarke - 2001 - series, Childhood's End, The Fountains of Paradise

The Little Prince, The Count of Monte Cristo, Catch-22, Siddhartha, Ender's Game, Sundiver, Wodehouse.

2 points by rick_2047 3 days ago 1 reply      
If you want to read some eye opening fiction then I would recommend cory doctorows three books, Little Brother, Makers and For The Win. I know it is stacked in the young adult fiction section but it still is good read for anybody.

<something irrelevant> I am shocked that in 26 comments till now nobody has mentioned Godel Escher Bach by Douglas Hofstater. Apart from everything else it has accomplished it is always the best seller in the "Nobody reads but everybody recommends" category, or at least the close second or draw to Art Of Programming by Knuth. </something irrelevant>

3 points by happy4crazy 2 days ago 0 replies      
If you like Feynman, definitely read James Gleick's biography of him, Genius.

I actually didn't like Gleick's other books very much, but Genius is beautiful. I went from thinking I'd major in English to majoring in Physics after reading it back in high school.

And for general sheer amazingness, I always tell people to read Thomas Pynchon's Mason & Dixon. It's like reading Shakespeare; the first 50 pages will take a while, but then you'll get used to the style and realize it's the coolest thing you've ever read.

5 points by poet 3 days ago 0 replies      
Alan Kay's reading list: http://www.squeakland.org/resources/books/readingList.jsp. I think you can find what you are looking for. :)
1 point by chegra 3 days ago 0 replies      
These books, although some now I might not endorse some of their teaching but they have help me to see the world in a different light:

The Mystery Method - Erik Von Markovik[Social Engineering at its best]

Rich Dad Poor Dad: Guide to Investing - Robert Kiyoski

The Thoughtworks Anthology: Essays on Software Technology and Innovation (Pragmatic Programmers)

Bible - First class book in teaching how to behave towards others, especially proverbs.

Tao Te Ching - For this two verse you should read it:
"When people see some things as beautiful,
other things become ugly.
When people see some things as good,
other things become bad.

Being and non-being create each other.
Difficult and easy support each other.
Long and short define each other.
High and low depend on each other.
Before and after follow each other"

Cyropaedia - "Along with the The prince this book was required reading by all former statesmen."

2 points by dnautics 3 days ago 0 replies      

The Great Wave: Price Revolutions and the Ebb and Flow of History. David Hackett Fisher.

This book is incredibly, incredibly prescient. Written in 1997, almost predicts the current financial situation. If you want to have an idea where, based on 1000 years of history, our economy and the state of the world is going, then you should read it. It didn't change my perspective (I called the crash of 2008-2009 a few months before it happened) but it really gave me a firmer understanding behind why I was correct to have felt like that was going to happen. It's also a page-turner. Fisher is an incredibly good writer and wrote a fascinating picture of revolutionary america in "Paul Revere's Ride".


Malcolm Gladwell's books are good, too, but my position on them is that the insight is all stuff you should have figured out - sometimes you just need gentle reminding. I noticed outliers and tipping point on your shelf, those will go very very far in helping you come up with entrepreneurial strategies. Outliers got me off my butt and got me programming android (I hadn't touched computer programming in 4+ years)... I would suggest popping the gladwells to the front of your queue.

1 point by ErrantX 3 days ago 0 replies      
One I consistently recommend is "Risk: The Science and Politics of Fear" by Dan Gardner, it's a fantastic insight into how we approach risk both individually and as a society.

It can be pretty revelatory.


1 point by prawn 15 hours ago 0 replies      
Cormac McCarthy - Blood Meridian, All The Pretty Horses, etc. His writing is incredible.
1 point by qeorge 2 days ago 1 reply      
The Emperor Of Scent - Chandler Burr

I never appreciated my sense of smell until this book.


1 point by jing 2 days ago 0 replies      
Here's a few I've really liked that have a broader subject matter than only what you asked for. I figure that if you like to read you'd like these books.


Darkness Visible

A Mathemematician's Apology

Omnivore's Dilemma

Fermat's Enigma

The Code Book

Born to Run

Judgement of Paris


Killing Pablo

The Victorian Internet

Lone Survivor

I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell

Surely You're Joking Mr. Feynman


Into Thin Air

Born on a Blue Day

Touching the Void

Got Fight

The Conquest of Happiness

--- FICTION ---

Switch Bitch

Lost Horizon

The Cuckoo's Egg

The Simlarillion

The Time Traveler's Wife

The Alchemist

The Count of Monte Cristo

A Canticle for Leibowitz


My Uncle Oswald

Stories of Your Life and Others

Invisible Cities

Life of Pi

Atlas Shrugged


When Genius Failed

Liar's Poker

Buffett (Lowenstein)


Black-Scholes and Beyond (textbook)

Fixed Income Securities (textbook)

The Road to Serfdom

The Smartest Guys in the Room

Fortune's Formula

The Fourth Turning

Inside the House of Money

--- ENTREPRENEURSHIP / COMPUTERS (non-textbook) ---

Masters of Doom

It's Not About the Bike

Dot. Bomb

Founders at Work

The PayPal Wars

Coders at Work

The Mousedriver Chronicles

Leaving Microsoft to Change the World

The Soul of a New Machine


The Hypomanic Edge

Small Giants

Small is the New Big

Four Hour Work Week

The Boy who Harnessed the Wind

Four Steps to the Epiphany

Pour your Heart into it

Beyond Software Architecture

Setting the Table

--- DESIGN / UX ---

On Writing

The Design of Everyday Things

Understanding Comics

The Elements of Typographic Style

Don't Make me Think!

A Pattern Language


Programming Pearls

Effective Java

The Algorithm Design Manual

Advanced Programming in the UNIX Environment

The Pragmatic Programmer


Java Concurrency in Practice

Java Puzzlers

Expert C Programming

--- COOKING ---

The Secrets of Cooking Revealed

Cooking for Geeks

The Bread Baker's Apprentice

The Brewmaster's Table

--- MISC ---

Robot Building for Beginners

Mountaineering - The Freedom of the Hills

A First Course in Coding Theory

The Computational Beauty of Nature

Total Control

The Ashley Book of Knots

Make: Electronics

2 points by jaywhy 3 days ago 0 replies      
Karl Popper's 'The Open Society and Its Enemies'.

From the outside Popper's book looks as just a simple attack on Plato, Hegel and Marx, however at it's core is one of the greatest defenses of democracy, liberalism, and rational thought ever written.  As you read it, you'll find even though the failed political and economic philosophies of Hegel, Marx, and Plato have very few followers in modern politics today.  The methodologies they used, to "discover" their philosophies, still remain and are utterly rampant across the whole political spectrum.

I hope you enjoy Popper as I did when I first read him. The book was like an inflection point for me, before it I was someone else, after it I was changed forever.  Only great books can do something like that and this is one of them.

3 points by alatkins 3 days ago 0 replies      
A while back I read The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work by Alain de Botton, and enjoyed it immensly. de Botton has a real philosophical bent, and profiled a number of different occupations, and makes a lot of really insightful observations about the modern workforce. Can't recommend it highly enough.
1 point by RobGR 1 day ago 0 replies      
I have recently finished reading Adam Smith's "The Wealth of Nations." I highly recommend it. At over 1200 pages it is not a quick read, however all of it was worth it.

I recommend setting it beside your computer, and every evening reading a few pages and then looking up on wikipedia all the names and other terms.

2 points by nsfmc 3 days ago 0 replies      
I recently read Thomas Pynchon's "The Crying of Lot 49", which is amazing and dense and hilarious. Highly recommended, but it's not an easy read, so be forewarned. It's short enough that you can easily power through it on a plane ride or whenever you have downtime.

A little while back, i started reading DFW's "A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again," a collection of shortish essays. DFW's writing is a bit like Douglas Adams where you really start to think and write like he does if you're not careful.

Both Pynchon and Wallace though, have a ridiculous command of the english language, so it makes for really engaging but sometimes challenging reading.

Have fun!

1 point by ra88it 2 days ago 0 replies      
Somebody mentioned The Sirens of Titan (Vonnegut) in the comments below. I've gotta second that recommendation. It's Vonnegut's first novel, and probably not his best, but it's certainly my favorite.

If you resonate at all with Vonnegut's humor and pathos, then please oh please grab a copy of Sirens. I'm tired of being the only one at the dinner table who's read it!

1 point by nova 2 days ago 0 replies      
Two great books that really impacted me, both about the horrors of bad research:

"Good Calories, Bad Calories", by Gary Taubes, on nutrition and health.

"The Blank Slate", by Steven Pinker, on human nature.

3 points by __Rahul 3 days ago 2 replies      
"God's Debris" by Scott Adams. Yes the Dilbert guy. It's available for free download http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gods_Debris.
2 points by alan-crowe 3 days ago 0 replies      
The Age of Wonder: How the romantic generation discovered the beauty and terror of science. by Richard Holmes.

Biographies of top hackers from 1769 to 1840.

2 points by oscilloscope 3 days ago 1 reply      
"Will to Power" by Friedrich Nietzsche, who you'll probably love if you like Rand.

"A Thousand Plateaus" by Deleuze & Guattari. A psychedelic philosophy of complexity. Not exactly an airtight philosophical system, but it will blow your mind several times per page.

"Being & Time" by Martin Heidegger. An intense, logical investigation of individual existence. A deeply nuanced philosophical take on death, being, and temporality. This is the book to grapple with your inevitable annihilation.

2 points by pramit 2 days ago 0 replies      
The 100 greatest books of all time everyone must read http://bighow.com/news/the-100-greatest-books-of-all-time-ev...
1 point by cma 2 days ago 0 replies      
Richard Feynman (you mentioned him) - Surely You're Joking Mr. Feynman

Thorstein Veblen (econ; one of the most cynical econ books I've ever read--in a good way) - The Theory of the Leisure Class

Norbert Weiner (philosophy, robots) - The Human Use of Human Beings: Cybernetics and Society

1 point by revorad 3 days ago 0 replies      
I'm currently reading Full Tilt - a thrilling personal account of an amazing Irish woman's bicycle journey from Europe to India in 1963. Highly recommended.


1 point by edo 3 days ago 1 reply      
I read a lot of biographies. It's interesting how you start seeing the common denominators between great men when you do. Especially 'Alexander of Macedon' by Peter Green is a riveting read.
2 points by skowmunk 3 days ago 0 replies      
I had heard much about this book earlier :Guns, Germs and Steel ,

But only recently did I watch a documentary (hmm, probably on hulu.com) which was completely based on that book.


3 points by tomwalker 3 days ago 0 replies      
For fiction, I recommend Lolita, The Count of Monte Cristo and Voltaie. That is a nice entertaining mix.
1 point by esspem 3 days ago 0 replies      
1) If you like Atlas Shrugged, then maybe you will like "For a new liberty" by Murray Rothbard (the founder of anarcho-capitalism movement): http://mises.org/rothbard/newlibertywhole.asp

That's a deduction of libertarian principles from non-aggression axiom and application of that principles to current problems.

2) If you are interested in philosophy, then read "History of Western Philosophy" by Bertrand Russel. Unfortunately It's written from the socialists point of view, but if you ignore Russels' left views, it's an excellent introduction to the history of philosophy.

1 point by brunoc 2 days ago 0 replies      
Robert Anton Wilson's "Illuminatus Trilogy", "Prometheus Rising".

Aleister Crowley's "Book of lies"

1 point by bradly 2 days ago 0 replies      
One of the best books I have read recently is Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer. Amazing story mixed with history and inspiration.
2 points by dnautics 3 days ago 1 reply      
"The meaning of it all: thoughts of a citizen-scientist". Probably worth reading more than any academically lionized philosopher.

"From Heaven Lake" is a really good non-fiction book that reads like a fiction.

2 points by bherms 3 days ago 0 replies      
0 points by iamwil 3 days ago 0 replies      
http://goodreads.com is suppose to help you solve the problem of "What should I read next?"
1 point by radicaldreamer 2 days ago 0 replies      
I can't believe that in a thread about good books with 135 comments nobody has mentioned The Brothers Karamazov.

Especially since the bherms mentioned Atlas Shrugged, I think BK would be a great book to explore humanity illuminated in a much different way.

1 point by gaoshan 2 days ago 0 replies      
In non-fiction I found "The Alchemist" by Paulo Coelho to be excellent and thought provoking.
2 points by mindcreek 3 days ago 0 replies      
Peter F. Hamilton trilogies are astounding eye openers.

Safehold Series by David Weber is worth the time

1 point by nileshtrivedi 3 days ago 0 replies      
The Moral Animal - by Robert Wright

It delves into evolutionary psychology to explain human morality. I especially liked the discussion on monogamy (the parental investment theory).

A few more recommendations:-
Godel, Escher, Bach
Human Knowledge - Bertrand Russell

1 point by HowardRoark 2 days ago 1 reply      
I would also add "Jonathan Livingston Seagull" by Richard Bach.
Its a simple and inspiring story about a bird who tries to question the very simple facts and norms of life established by generations before.
2 points by iliketosleep 3 days ago 0 replies      
Society of Mind. by Minsky. his book changed my perspective on how the mind operates.
1 point by __Rahul 2 days ago 0 replies      
Do make space for Alvin Toffler - starting with "Future Shock" http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Future_Shock
1 point by mp_cnb 2 days ago 0 replies      

- 'The Selfish Gene' - Richard Dawkins

Grokking the concept changed the way I thought about life forever.

- 'Quantum Reality' - Nick Herbert

One of the best introductory level books on quantum physics mysteries. No nonsense.

- Zen and the art of Motorcycle Maintenance - Robert Pirsig

The book that introduced me to Kant, Hume and philosophy of science. Just for that, I'm forever indebted to it.

Some favorite fiction books -

- Cryptonomicon - Neal Stephenson
Loved 'Snowcrash' too.

- 'The Moon is a Harsh Mistress' - Robert Heinlein

- Anything by Kurt Vonnegut, Milan Kundera, Somerset Maugham

1 point by prasanmishra 3 days ago 0 replies      
"The Fountainhead" by Ayn Rand my bible.. you definitely love it if you like Atlas Shrugged.. same author and same philosophy.. more centered towards one protagonist.
1 point by mikek85 2 days ago 0 replies      
The Wisdom Of Insecurity by Alan Watts

^ it's tiny, easily the best book I've ever read.

1 point by bhiggins 2 days ago 0 replies      
Finite and Infinite Games
1 point by rsl7 2 days ago 0 replies      
the Portrait of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde. We all create alter-egos that cover for our worst sins.
1 point by dantle 3 days ago 0 replies      
Ishmael by Daniel Quinn.

Explains an ethical viewpoint in a very clear style. Changed the way I think about human progress.

0 points by Scott_MacGregor 3 days ago 0 replies      
I'm not sure if this is non-fiction enough for you but, Tony Robbins, "Awaken the Giant Within" is one of my favorites. It is a good self help type book. It comes in Kindle too. http://www.amazon.com/Awaken-Giant-Within-Immediate-Emotiona...
1 point by winterismute 3 days ago 1 reply      
On the philosophical side, I sugget "Existentialism Is a Humanism" by Sartre: it explains in a clear and simple way the idea of Existentialism, which is a great philosophy based on strong principles, and a key idea in the modern philosophical debate. It somehow changed my life, and made me think a lot more about life principles that can actually guide one's life.
0 points by readtodevelop 2 days ago 0 replies      
I can't recommend any book. Lately when I am reading a book I need a way of elaborating my thoughts other than reading in a linear way.

I find so many ideas and branching points that I want to explore while reading that I can't follow the author path.

Perhaps in the future books with be self-developing, that is you don't go from one page to the next one, you can ask a question and the book develop a new chapter, so the book for the future will be more about communication and less about a monologue.

Could HN be like a book? is there a central point from which all derive, a source to construct knowledge and get information?

Thank you, Ubuntu psung.blogspot.com
163 points by rglullis 4 days ago   127 comments top 19
41 points by IgorPartola 4 days ago replies      
I keep try to evangelize the fact that things like apt are one of the biggest wins for the various UNIX-like OS's. In Windows world installing software takes both finding it and configuring the installer. On a Mac you have to at least find it. On Ubuntu/Debian/etc you just have to know the name (or you can search a central database). Also no more Java/Flash player/Acrobat Reader "needs to be updated" messages. You update everything at once. And it can all be scripted. And you can update your entire OS to the next major release in three commands. I can go on and on.
26 points by code_duck 4 days ago 1 reply      
I've been using Ubuntu since 6.04, longer than any other Linux distribution (one or the other has been my main desktop since 1999). I have to say, though that of course, Ubuntu wouldn't exist as it is without the grandeur of Debian - thanks, Debian.
18 points by 1tw 4 days ago 7 replies      
"it runs on every piece of hardware you throw at it"

That's what continues to impress me about Ubuntu - I've installed it on everything from PPC-era Macs to dodgy little netbooks and it invariably 'just works'.

3 points by MisterWebz 4 days ago 2 replies      
I've been having a lot of problems with Ubuntu. First of all,
wireless on Ubuntu sucks. I can't be bothered reading tons of articles on how to fix wireless, i just want it to work like it does on Windows. Ubuntu doesn't detect a few of my webcams. I can't even install Ubuntu 10.04 on my new laptop (though it seems they're busy fixing it), so i'm stuck with 9.04. I'm also having some trouble with Chrome on Ubuntu, but i should probably blame Chrome for that. Rebooting on Ubuntu doesn't even work. I can only shut it down. I could probably fix it in a timely fashion, but i don't see why it broke in the first place. I've never had any trouble with Windows of this kind.

Anyway, It's still a great OS, but there's no way the average computer user is going to be satisfied with Ubuntu unless the developers somehow fix these little annoyances.

3 points by iuguy 4 days ago 2 replies      
It's weird. I used to love Ubuntu, but after 8.04 I just stopped liking it. The little things niggled away at me. The bloat, the fear of upgrades breaking things (this is why my main home file server still runs 8.04, something I'm not happy about) if you have a slightly nonstandard install. I switched to Arch for my main home laptop and breathed new life into a PIII-850 with 128mb of RAM. Ubuntu would've killed it.

In a bizarre twist of fate, work requirements meant having to use Windows Vista (the horror!) then 7, where so far the best feature seems to be "It's not vista", so no more Ubuntu at work for me, except through VMs.

Still, Ubuntu did a heck of a lot to make Linux easier for the masses, and I have to say thanks to all those at Canonical and the Ubuntu community that made it possible.

8 points by pastiche 4 days ago 0 replies      
Ahh... Ubuntu. I've been using Linux since pretty much forever and I've gone through Debian, Mandrake, Gentoo, Slackware, you name it.

Sure, Ubuntu has its fair share of idiosyncrasies, not to mention idiotic bits and a... peculiar developer community, to say the least, but on the whole it manages to combine the flexibility and openness of Linux with some of the nicer aspects of closed platforms like OS X.

Bring on 10.10 and beyond!

7 points by grease 4 days ago 1 reply      
I started using Ubuntu on my desktop when I started developing for the web and because my web-server ran ubuntu. Love the fact that I can have a server-like OS on my desktop, that also does pretty much does everything that windows and macs do
3 points by RexRollman 3 days ago 1 reply      
I like Ubuntu quite a bit, I just wish they would offer a Base install option. I like their hardware detection, Gnome modifications, and font smoothing, but I am not a fan of the Ubuntu One stuff or its kitchen sink approach to including software.

Basically, I just want Ubuntu's Base Gnome package, so that from there I can add want I want.

2 points by sandGorgon 3 days ago 1 reply      
i am considering moving to fedora from ubuntu. one of my motivations is descriptions of better user experiences overall, plus more cutting edge stuff like systemd. morever i think i am growing more and more colored by the notion thar ubuntu doesnt really employ a significant number of core developers.

does anyone have experience of the differences in the daily experience of using fedora vs ubuntu, especially for a clean simple experience, as a developer machine setup?

2 points by nivertech 4 days ago 3 replies      
Ubuntu is excellent, except:

1. Firefox and Chrome are very slow and freezing, when opening many tabs.

2. Flash plugin is crashing constantly

3. OpenOffice is very slow and freezing. Can't render properly MS Office documents.

2 points by moo 3 days ago 0 replies      
My workplace experience is that most of these so called "average Windows users" don't even understand the Windows environment to a functional level and need hand holding to use basic features like Remote Desktop, create a mapped drive, or navigate the file system. They don't have any interest in learning more about computers, they just absorb the minimum possible computer skills to perform required office work. They don't even really understand the office tools they use everyday like Microsoft Office. As ignorant as they are about Windows they are more than willing to jump ship to an unfamiliar Apple computer as they have heard it is even more simple to use. These "office workers" know how to click(oops), then double click the big motha icon to open the data entry application, and type away all day, then leave the application open so they don't have to open it again. This stuff is going to simplify down to something like a fast food restaurant cash register with food icons on the keys.
2 points by tzury 3 days ago 0 replies      
regarding all rants in here, I simply cannot understand how could people complain so much about such a good product given to them for free.
2 points by billiob 3 days ago 1 reply      
I'm so sad that so many HNers can not understand what is the real value added by Ubuntu.
If more hardware is supported, it's because the kernel tends to get drivers for most hardware nowadays. If apps are getting better, it's not because of Ubuntu, but because of the apps developers.
The power of Ubuntu is only on marketting.
1 point by mfukar 3 days ago 0 replies      
Yup, Ubuntu is awesome. After installing it for the first time, I never went back to other distros for my GNU/Linux desktops.

Too bad that Canonical is unsustainable, and we'll soon lose it if FOSS enthusiasts don't shift their mindset a little bit.

1 point by Rhapso 4 days ago 0 replies      
I love ubuntu! Although Lucid has done something that drives me nuts. The devs decided it would be nice to add a Gnome login to Netbook-Remix Sounds nice, but they decided limit a bunch of features in the old interface so it would not conflict. I love you ubuntu but you need to stop taking away my power!
1 point by endlessvoid94 3 days ago 1 reply      
I love ubuntu as much as the next guy. I run all my servers with ubuntu.

But to say that Mac OS X is not as usable as ubuntu is blatantly wrong.

1 point by nagnatron 3 days ago 0 replies      
For me, the best thing about Ubuntu is that they really care and more importantly, invest, into the UI experience.
2 points by sami_b 4 days ago 0 replies      
I ♥ Ubuntu, and have been since 7.04
1 point by known 3 days ago 0 replies      
Love you, Ubuntu.
To live forever, break habits npr.org
164 points by widgetycrank 4 days ago   34 comments top 17
27 points by lionhearted 4 days ago 2 replies      
Interesting article. I liked it.

I think you could take his basic premise - "staying out of a routine and breaking habits makes life feel longer and time pass slower" - and expand on it to also achieve more worthwhile pursuits.

Instead of changing habits randomly, instead aim to always be at the threshold of your competence.

I've spent a few years looking into this, and the best thing I found for myself is aiming to always be at a 70% success rate on my daily, weekly, and monthly goals/targets. If I'm succeeding higher than 70%, I increase the difficulty level or add new challenges. If I'm below 70%, I scale back and pare down until I get to the essentials.

It's good, because I'm succeeding more often than not, but I'm always at the threshold of my competence. I think a lot of people set goals too low to get to 100%, or they get discouraged when they fall short of ambitious goals.

Me, falling a bit short is part of my life, so I'm always pushing and expanding, failure is part of my life and gets easier over time, and there's always new things. I'm about to add a new set of targets - either I'm going to start doing bodyweight exercises and set some fitness goals, or I'm going to take up drawing and make more art. Or both? I'm doing this to replace "surfing the internet" with either drawing/painting or bodyweight exercises/balance/martial arts as entertainment time. Thus, life stays fresh, new, exciting. And whatever my goals are for strength training or art, I'll be falling a bit short of them - which is to be expected and embraced, always on the edge and threshold of my capability. But still, a 70% success rate, which is encouraging and I'm succeeding more often than not. Wholly recommended if you haven't tried setting goals and targets this way - if anyone has questions on setting something like this up, feel free to drop me an email, I try to make myself pretty freely available to people working on achieving things.

5 points by dill_day 3 days ago 1 reply      
I've always liked §295 of The Gay Science where Nietzsche makes the distinction between "brief" and "enduring" habits:

"I love brief habits and consider them an inestimable means for getting to know many things and states, down to the bottom of their sweetness and bitternesses...

Enduring habits I hate, and I feel as if a tyrant had come near me and as if the air I breathe had thickened when events take such a turn that it appears that they will inevitably give rise to enduring habits...

Most intolerable, to be sure, and the terrible par excellence would be for me a life entirely devoid of habits, a life that would demand perpetual improvisation. That would be my exile and my Siberia."


4 points by gruseom 3 days ago 0 replies      
Sorry for being patronizing, but I went through a phase like this too: figured out that human life is dominated by habits, decided this was "the" problem, and resolved to live anti-habitually. It didn't work. I think the reason is human nature: we're creatures of habit. Not to have them would be not to be human.

Habits can supplant other habits, but even that is not subject to direct conscious control. There's an entire self-help literature around it, some of which is good, but it's easy to take it the wrong way and go down a superficial path.

5 points by dustyreagan 3 days ago 0 replies      
My personal hypothesis is time is perceived to move more quickly the older you get because an hour, a day, a minute become smaller fractions of the time you've been alive.

EX: When you're 10, a year is 1/10th of your life, but when you're 60 it's only 1/60th. The magnitude of an additional year of life at 60 does not feel as great as it does when you're 10.

3 points by strebler 3 days ago 2 replies      
Perhaps it was tongue-in-cheek, but I'm not sure the "leave your marriage" advice has any backing whatsoever; in fact, it would appear to be quite the opposite effect on one's lifespan:


"Those who had been widowed were almost 40% more likely to die, and those who had been divorced or separated were 27% more likely to die. "

Overall, the article felt light on facts - even the title is even fairly linkbaity (live forever!). For an article on increased lifespan (with citations instead of hand-waving), this article is much better:


6 points by hariis 3 days ago 1 reply      
I would boil it down to this, keep learning new things all the time, whether it is a new language, taking pottery classes, learning a musical instrument, a piece of technology, gardening etc while keeping what is working intact. This is important. You need a solid base and comfort from where you can enjoy the learning.

The author went overboard with his cigarette and marriage suggestions.

4 points by Goladus 4 days ago 3 replies      
Inspiring, but reality often doesn't play out this way. Eventually, trying new things wears you out and you stop appreciating them. Meanwhile there's a risk of increased stress from the neglecting activities that habits used to make easy, like managing your budget, brushing your teeth, and preparing cheap, tasty meals.
4 points by tommynazareth 4 days ago 0 replies      
Joseph Heller embodied this idea in Dunbar. When your life is in imminent danger, you can extend it a great deal by remaining exceptionally bored.
3 points by sliverstorm 3 days ago 0 replies      
Has no one here read Catch 22? One of the little commentaries in the book is one character who already figured this out- he insists on hating every second of life, because when you are miserable time goes by slowly.
1 point by Natsu 3 days ago 1 reply      
> Have you ever noticed that you can remember perfectly well what someone said to you, but you don’t remember exactly what words she used? Or perhaps you can recall what was said but not in what language it was said.

Whatever else the article may have gotten right, this is false for me. I can, essentially, play back an audio recording of what a person just said. It doesn't work as well on languages I don't understand, but the recording is still there, it just ends up corrupted quickly because it takes a lot more to remember full audio than a few words. Also, I don't think I've ever forgotten which language something was said in, even though I can understand both French and Japanese.

That said, I have certainly noticed that other people never seem to get the words right, even when repeating things someone just said and it always bugged me that they'd change the words to things I just said a second ago.

1 point by VMG 4 days ago 0 replies      
I have similar thoughts on cannabis. When high, I have the feeling that habitual actions are much more difficult and you become more self-aware when you fix something to drink for example.

The effect seems to vanish for people who consume cannabis every day however, the brain seems to adjust to the new state.

2 points by zeynel1 4 days ago 0 replies      
"We live in a world of meanings, not words or sounds. We live in a world of arcs, not points."

This is fundamental; line signifies the points; or the line is the meaning of the points; as when you fit a line to points of observations.

This fact is built into our perception and into science as well because all observations are points and meaning is the line that passes through all points; and therefore all meaning is interpretation.

The title is unfortunate ("To live forever"?) but the article makes good points.

1 point by timinman 3 days ago 0 replies      
Is the goal of life is to make it feel as though it will never end? 'Ever hear a shop clerk say, 'I feel like this shift will never end'? They're not excited about it.

Have you ever known someone who can't seem to stick with a job, an interest, or a group of friends? Do you think they are happy?

I don't think anyone is yearning for a life that feels like it will never end. What we want is to have a quality life, and one means toward that is to invest in others over time. Oh yeah, and marriage is _not_ a comfortable safe habit. It is challenge worth fighting for.

1 point by mr_twj 3 days ago 0 replies      
Just smoke some cannabis if you want time to stop (interferes with your ability to filter perceptual information in a linear fashion--nevertheless one's own personal freedom to choose to do such a thing); the rest of us have jobs that require routines. Btw, don't pass the human species off as habitual, we are anything but in respect with the animal kingdom in its entirety (lack of a definite homeostasis in nature). With all that talk about measures, was there a mention of how spontaneity is to be measured? Breaking a habit just to find a new one seems frivolous. It seems to me one would have to be put in a truly unpredictable environment (such as the wilderness) to become less routine.
3 points by samtp 3 days ago 2 replies      
Sounds like he is making a habit of breaking habits
2 points by zuggywugg 3 days ago 0 replies      
great, we can start by never returning to Hacker News again! See you never guys!
1 point by cammil 3 days ago 0 replies      
Whilst I was reading this article, I couldn't stop thinking of this:

"My life is the complete opposite of everything I want it to be." - George Costanza

Why I Love the Khan Academy patrickmylund.com
154 points by thirsteh 3 days ago   42 comments top 17
13 points by kn0thing 2 days ago 0 replies      
After just talking about it for a while, I'm finally starting an online campaign to get Khan on the TED stage. He has an idea very much worth spreading. Hell, they even let me speak at TED, so please take a minute or two to nominate Salman Khan here on TED's speaker nomination form: http://www.ted.com/nominate/speaker

And if you've got another minute, nominate Paul Graham, too!

(edit: I'm an employee of Y Combinator, making PG my boss, but I'd nominate him regardless of that fact.)

68 points by teilo 3 days ago 0 replies      
I love the Khan Academy because I am finally grokking calculus... at the age of 37.
11 points by snth 3 days ago 4 replies      
Though I'm a fan of Feynman anecdotes, I've always disagreed with the point of the one used in this article. Names are important. You know what you get by knowing the name of the brown-throated thrush? You get an identifier by which to look up all the collected knowledge of humanity on the brown-throated thrush, and you gain the ability to talk about it with other people.

In the online SICP lectures there's a nice point about names and how they give you power over things, but I couldn't find it right away.

9 points by mjfern 3 days ago 1 reply      
The Khan Academy content is currently concentrated in areas such as math, science, and finance. Do you think the approach can be applied to other disciplines; e.g., programming, business (other than finance), other social sciences? And how about more advanced levels of skill development?

In short, are there boundary conditions to the Khan Academy approach? And if so, what are they?

8 points by jacquesm 3 days ago 1 reply      
mr. Khan and wikipedia are the two best things to come out of the web as far as I'm concerned. Project gutenberg third but at considerable distance.

Between Khan Academy and wikipedia education is pretty much limited by the amount of time you have to invest.

There was a character in a book that tried to learn by memorizing an encyclopedia, which as 'learning by rote' is not the most useful thing. But in wikipedia everything is interlinked, and you can dig down in to a subject as deep as you want, the references will give you the background. It's quite amazing how much you can learn about something just from there.

The Khan Academy is another part of education embodied in bits, a really good instructor that knows how to make subjects both interesting and understandable.

7 points by sbaqai 3 days ago 0 replies      
Why I think the Khan Academy works so well:

1/. Videos are short, 10-15min digestible bits. Long enough to teach a concept, short enough not to lose my attention.

2/. He's a huge advocate of teaching intuition behind concepts instead of memorization. This makes learning less stuffy and more informal.

3/. Everyone has "holes" in their knowledge, but they are in different areas. Schools have a hard time to individually address weak points in each student's knowledge (particularly if you should have learned them in a prerequisite course). Videos organized by concepts allow you to address these weaknesses systematically.

4/. He makes mistakes! Those mistakes are quite insightful and give a glimpse into an art of solving problems that usually isn't presented in most lectures. You usually see a problem, and a solution thats a finished product.

5/. He doesn't have an ego. He's not breathing down your neck or thinking you're an idiot if you don't understand anything the first time. You can pause, google something, repeat, watch it anytime, etc.

5 points by NZ_Matt 3 days ago 1 reply      
I recommend watching this video where Khan discusses his vision for the future of online education.


2 points by lutorm 3 days ago 2 replies      
I watched a couple of those videos after reading about it here and, while they were nice, they didn't stand out as something very special to me. Maybe it's because his style feels close to the way that I like to teach, or maybe you guys had way more sucky teachers than I did (though I don't think my math teachers were particularly good).

I don't want to disrespect the effort he's going through setting up all the online content, that's clearly something very useful to those that don't have access to real people to learn with. But to hold him up as as especially awesome and unique seems to ignore the thousands of equally awesome teachers that are out there teaching like that every day.

3 points by Kilimanjaro 3 days ago 1 reply      
Take the khan academy, make a transcript of every course for those who hate videos like me, and you have a winner.

Of course, make it interactive and with lots of visuals for better learning.

There you have it, a great idea for a startup.

3 points by tmoertel 2 days ago 1 reply      
The success of the Khan Academy is by orthodox educational standards surprising. That it is surprising ought to tell us something: that the orthodox understanding of how education should be "delivered" is at least partly wrong.

We should be particularly suspect of the belief that higher production values are worth pursuing. Before KA, if you suggested that you could deliver unusually effective education through a series of ten-minute videos having truly horrible production values, the mainstream education industry would have ignored you. After KA, they can't.

What the success of the Khan Academy suggests is that production values are not important and, perhaps, that the pursuit of high production values is wasteful and even counterproductive.

Now that's an interesting hypothesis.

2 points by SpaceHobo 3 days ago 0 replies      
This kind of surprises me. I love Khan's lecturing style, and he makes good use of a paint program to stand in for not having an overhead transparency to scribble on.

But as to his teaching style, the videos I've seen have caused me to react less like Patrick Mylund and more like this MetaFilter poster:


Perhaps there's an ordered curriculum you're meant to go through, but every time I've sampled Khan's videos at random they've been structured as "if these are the exercises you need to do right now, now you can see me solve one."

Sure he does a good job of narrating his steps, explaining details and side-effects, and making illustrative mistakes. I just feel like he's all about the how and never about the why.

2 points by jmtame 3 days ago 0 replies      
he was at sunfire offices last weekend giving a talk i believe. anyone here go to that?
2 points by vkdelta 3 days ago 0 replies      
Why I love ? Because almost after a decade from high school class, I realize why it is that way. His lessons are short, engaging and teach you the basics. I could only wish I had someone with quarter of Khan's talent to teach me math and science.
1 point by morphir 3 days ago 0 replies      
I struggle with proving big oh, thus I wonder if (Kahn) or anyone else can help me prove that:
t(n) <= cg(n) for all n >= 0
and here is the example I do not grok, where I'm gonna prove this assertion: 100n + 5 ∈ O(n^2).
This proof goes like this:
100n + 5 <= 100n + n = 101n <= 101n^2
I struggle basically with wrapping my brain around the proof there. What is going on?
2 points by readtodevelop 2 days ago 0 replies      
Khan Academy is a good resource if you haven't a good teacher and you have a lot of time for learning.

With a good teacher you can learn more with less time. If you are in a small group you can ask the teacher and you will learn that he can give you not only the answer you are looking for but a new perspective about that subject.

So Khan Academy is a good resource in certain occasions, but never as a good teacher should be.

1 point by pixcavator 3 days ago 1 reply      
According to my computations, the total amount of content isn’t that large. It’s about 36 credit hours total and I am being generous here.
1 point by flexd 3 days ago 3 replies      
I'm taking Math and Physics at uni in a pre-engineer year. Khan Academy is making me learn a lot! My physics teacher is not that good, Sal however is an amazing communicator. If you only visit the site shortly you will only see the youtube videos but looking closer you will find the real gem: The application guiding you through math and physics. If you can answer all the questions correctly you know have learned everything you need to know to pass a exam! :-)
Google URL shortener available to the public goo.gl
150 points by stevefink 5 days ago   120 comments top 26
17 points by stevefink 5 days ago 2 replies      
I know there's a plethora of URL shorteners these days, and most platform providers (eg: Twitter) are introducing their own so they can harvest analytics themselves. For whatever reason though, I keep trusting Google with all of my most personal information. I don't know if that's a good or bad thing, but I have a feeling this will become my standard URL shortener just as Google Apps has become my standard for email, invoicing customers, document management and scheduling. Not to mention Google Reader for having information on all the RSS feeds I visit and Google's search knowing what links I am visiting daily, and probably thirty other products I'm using that stores my information on their servers.
38 points by jpablo 5 days ago replies      
Why do we need url shorteners again ?

When I see a shortened URL the probabilities of me clicking the link go down to almost zero.

4 points by jnoller 5 days ago 6 replies      
Ugh. Google entering this pretty much wipes out the space - companies like bit.ly are going to need to work on seriously differentiating themselves from the pack, and even then I don't think they're long for the world.

I can honestly say I hope to never be in a market - or working on a product - where google suddenly decides to enter the game. Even if their offering sucks, or is broken, it sucks all the air out of the room because it's OMG Google.

8 points by andymoe 5 days ago 3 replies      
Nice simple public stats: http://goo.gl/info/Jvhu#two_hours

Not a huge fan of the flash chart though.



EDIT: Better graph

5 points by fletchowns 5 days ago 2 replies      
I wonder what the web will be like in 10 years when most of these URL shorteners don't exist anymore and we're just left with a web full of links that go nowhere. I'm sure the Google one will survive, seems like we shouldn't have to use these URL shorteners at all though.
6 points by walkon 5 days ago 2 replies      
Is it just me, or was I able to "shorten" an already goo.gl shortened url?

--> http://goo.gl/Bkmv
--> http://news.ycombinator.com

They don't want to allow this, do they?

3 points by msg 5 days ago 1 reply      
There are a couple of Greasemonkeys to lengthen shortened URLs. Hopefully they will be updated soon.


3 points by albertzeyer 5 days ago 1 reply      
goo.gl has been around for quite a while. Is there something new I don't see here?

Edit: Ah, its website is just new. Here the original post: http://googlesocialweb.blogspot.com/2010/09/google-url-short...

There was already a Chrome extension since the beginning.

1 point by Tichy 5 days ago 0 replies      
In all the excitement, we forgot to ask about the API. I am curious what they will provide, and with what limits.

One big problem I had with bit.ly on Twitter is there was no way to get all shortened URLs pointing to a "real" URL. This was a problem because I wanted to search for references to the "real" URL.

The lack of that feature of course empowered dedicated services like backtype (I suppose), who have special deals with Twitter so that they can get all references.

1 point by zacharycohn 5 days ago 2 replies      
[edit - Nevermind, solved below in the comments.]
Does anyone know how these work long-term? This one shortens a URL to 4 characters, so for a potentially major URL shortener, there is a relatively low number of possible outputs.

Once they hit their limit, do they start erasing the oldest ones? The most inactive ones?

For shorteners that give consistent shortened URLs (i.e. everytime you shorten the same input URL, you get the same shortened output URL), how do they deal with hitting their maximum?

3 points by yanw 5 days ago 0 replies      
An obvious next step would be integrating Google Analytics.
1 point by raphar 5 days ago 0 replies      
Mystery links!
check this two:
1 point by ez77 5 days ago 0 replies      
1 point by empika 5 days ago 0 replies      
Its obvious that we need shorteners, the original purpose being email but Twitter bucked that trend.
So now, what we dont need is more URL shorteners. What we do need is more sites to implement their own shortening like YouTube and Flickr (eg, http://youtu.be/3jDfSqtG2E4 and http://flic.kr/p/MGuRJ). Its all about the rev canonical. This way, a shortened URL will stay about as long as that site is about and the internets doesn't break.

People seem to want click stats though, although i dont see why you cant get these out of google analytics etc.

Check out http://revcanonical.appspot.com/ for more.

4 points by cosgroveb 5 days ago 1 reply      
Interesting that all click analytics are public...
3 points by eiji 5 days ago 1 reply      
404: Page not found

JS required! A new google-low and a big disappointment.

2 points by adam-_- 5 days ago 1 reply      
Could they not have bought http://g.gl?
2 points by dsspence 5 days ago 1 reply      
Entering goo.gl should return itself don't you think?
1 point by tectonic 5 days ago 0 replies      
Since these are almost incremental, it's easy to guess existing links. There must be both good and bad uses for this...
1 point by faramarz 5 days ago 1 reply      
Now can we get a bookmarket?


1 point by inmygarage 5 days ago 0 replies      
url shorteners are so 2009.
3 points by jodrellblank 5 days ago 0 replies      
Everyone who upvoted it. If the upvote links were run through goo.gl the public statistics could tell you.
3 points by werftgh 5 days ago 1 reply      
Just out of interest - do the top level DNSs look at the entire address or is Greenland's main internet supplier going to melt under the load of redirecting everything to Google?
1 point by bretthellman 5 days ago 0 replies      
What happened to Google innovating? At least they included a QR Code...
1 point by billmcneale 5 days ago 0 replies      
Can we have a bookmarklet or a sidebar, like bit.ly?
3 points by c00p3r 5 days ago 1 reply      
What hashing function they use?
What's wrong with 2006 programming? antirez.com
148 points by antirez 21 hours ago   43 comments top 9
11 points by fleitz 18 hours ago 2 replies      
Stop thinking of RAM/disk/etc as storage systems and start thinking of them as retrieval systems. Then stop thinking of your data costs as $/GB (storage systems) and start thinking of your data costs as $/(IO/sec/GB) (retrieval systems).

I know everyone these days seems to think that removing a structured query language parser from a database makes every other problem go away, but realistically RDBMS vendors spend millions of dollars trying to fix this exact problem. It's called cache invalidation and it's a hard problem to solve in a general way.

SSDs are just a midpoint in the performance trade-off game.

The OS is the worst at this, DBs are somewhat better, but realistically if you want serious performance out of your application you need to make those choices for yourself, and use all strategies where appropriate RAM for records you need instantly (memcache,redis,mongodb) SSDs for the stuff you can't afford to keep on an SSD And hard drives for stuff you can't afford to keep on an SSD.

What you need to think about is the value of your data in dollars per IO/sec per DB ($/(IO/sec/GB), if the amortized value of that data exceeds the amortized cost of the retrieval system then buy it. Focus on increasing the value of your data, not reducing the costs of it's retrieval as that will drop by 1/2 every 18 months anyway. Alternatively, change your business model so you are going short on IO/sec/GB, (eg. pre-sell storage so that when you need to buy it you can do so cheaply)

What I'm trying to say is that the value of a picture is worth more to Flickr than it is to Facebook, thus Flickr will have an easier time building it's retrieval systems than Facebook because of the costs involved. That's why Facebook had to write their own filesystem for retrieving pictures.

I'd bet that any commercial DB will blow rings around redis/mongo/etc if you had your persistent store as a RAM disk and used hard drives for the transaction log. The cost of a SQL Server license is negligible if you're going to buy a server with $200,000 worth of RAM in it. If your data is valuable enough you could just keep everything in SRAM (L1/L2 cache) and buy processors just for the cache.

36 points by wmf 21 hours ago 5 replies      
Just to amplify his point, if you want your program to take page faults as PHK suggests, it has to be multithreaded. If you choose event-driven concurrency you can't afford to take page faults in mmap() or read(). When you make the threads vs. events decision you're implicitly making a bunch of related decisions about I/O and scheduling as well; a hybrid approach (like using events and mmap) won't work well.
8 points by scott_s 20 hours ago 2 replies      
Again, the kernel will use a simple LRU algorithm, where the granularity is the page.

I don't think it's accurate to describe any performance critical part of the Linux kernel as "simple." For an overview of the page replacement policy, see http://kerneltrap.org/node/7608. I wondered if CLOCK-Pro [1, 2] had made it into the kernel yet, but it looks like it has not.

This author makes compelling arguments for implementing application level paging. But the nice thing about doing systems work is we never have to rely on arguments alone to evaluate something - show me numbers.

[1] http://linux-mm.org/ClockProApproximation

[2] http://www.cse.ohio-state.edu/~fchen/paper/papers/usenix05.p...

7 points by jamii 18 hours ago 0 replies      
In a vaguely similar vein, the recent Mirage paper showed impressive GC improvements by running ocaml on xen without an operating system in between. It allowed them to use a much simpler allocation algorithm.


7 points by bediger 20 hours ago 3 replies      
I blame Benjamin Zorn in this paper: http://www.cs.colorado.edu/department/publications/reports/d...

for the whole "programmers shouldn't manage memory" myth. Clearly, if you know what you're doing, you can do better than the OS and/or malloc() does. If you don't know what you're doing, you have bigger problems than writing your own allocator will quickly solve.

7 points by stephen 19 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm not an expert, but the application's memory usage being opaque to the kernel sounds vaguely like the problems Azul had scaling its Java runtime to large (>2GB) heaps.

Azul recently open sourced some of their kernel patches:


But that is about all I know.

2 points by wingo 20 hours ago 0 replies      
Fascinating article. I wonder how SSDs affect his conclusions, though. If you really care, don't you have an SSD? Especially for the recently mentioned 1:10 problem (10G of data, 1G of memory).
1 point by moron4hire 19 hours ago 1 reply      
Something like paging virtual memory for Redis is going to be a core feature. I can completely understand why they would want to keep core features "in house". It's not "not implemented here" syndrome if the entire point of your company is to implement things like this.
3 points by poet 19 hours ago 2 replies      
Weird to see PHK being referred to as "the Varnish guy". :P
       cached 6 October 2010 15:04:01 GMT