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Re-entry to US without backscatter or pat-down noblasters.com
446 points by bobf 1 day ago   175 comments top 35
77 points by swombat 1 day ago 3 replies      
In the 1500's a man called Étienne de la Boétie wrote, in a then-inflammatory "Discourse on Voluntary Servitude":

Obviously there is no need of fighting to overcome this single tyrant, for he is automatically defeated if the country refuses consent to its own enslavement: it is not necessary to deprive him of anything, but simply to give him nothing; there is no need that the country make an effort to do anything for itself provided it does nothing against itself. It is therefore the inhabitants themselves who permit, or, rather, bring about, their own subjection, since by ceasing to submit they would put an end to their servitude. A people enslaves itself, cuts its own throat, when, having a choice between being vassals and being free men, it deserts its liberties and takes on the yoke, gives consent to its own misery, or, rather, apparently welcomes it.


30 points by URSpider94 22 hours ago 1 reply      
Others have hinted at this, but when I read this story, I had a big "HUH?" moment. I just returned into the USA last week at SFO, and I can assure you that I didn't go through any kind of security screening upon re-entering the USA.

The USA, unlike many other countries, requires that you clear out through Customs at your first point of entry. This is an operational issue, because after that, you are mixed with domestic passengers. Clearing through Customs requires that you pick up your checked luggage. As such, you are no longer "sterile" from an airport security perspective (you could have pulled a box cutter out of your checked luggage, for example). This means that, if you plan to continue on as a domestic passenger, then you have to be re-screened for security, just like someone walking in from the street.

What boggles my mind is that the folks who set up this airport require non-passengers to go through TSA security, just to walk out of the terminal. Not only is this a waste of time and money, but it also introduces people with no legitimate reason to travel into the terminal. Put another way, if I WANTED to pass through a TSA checkpoint at most airports without a ticket for onward travel, I would be turned away.

In summary, I guess I can understand why this guy thought that he was being screened to re-enter the country, when in fact he was just the victim of very, very poor airport design.

63 points by dpatru 1 day ago 2 replies      
The trouble with the Internet is that it's so hard for the government to keep secrets anymore. It's exciting to see in real time how American citizens are working together to challenge and change unreasonable government policy. First by broadcasting government abuse and now by documenting successful tactics.
9 points by acabal 1 day ago 4 replies      
Oh wow, I had no idea they scan you after re-entering the country. I'm flying to Chicago O'Hare from London Gatwick on Dec 2, and now I'm concerned about this.

Does anyone know precisely what my rights are as a US citizen upon re-entering the country to avoid all of this ridiculousness? I know that Customs has some Constitutional power for searches and so on (and there's that insane 100-mile "border" where people can be stopped and searched), but where does the TSA fit into all of this?

If asked to do a backscatter OR patdown once I'm on US soil and leaving the airport, is it within my rights to refuse both? It sounds like the guy in the post wasn't claiming his rights, only threatening to call it "assault" if they brushed his genitals. Or have I got it wrong?

Edit: I'm extremely curious about this now. Per the wiki article linked in the replies, it seems that x-ray and pat down searches are "unreasonable" without a warrant at a border (i.e. international airport). So I believe I could claim that going through these scanners again after landing on US soil and wanting to exit the airport would infringe on my rights. However, since the scenario is the same for entering a flight on US soil, wouldn't the backscatter/patdowns in those cases also infringe on our rights? Does anyone have any ideas on this? I don't want to give the TSA an inch when re-entering my own damn country.

13 points by ck2 1 day ago 6 replies      
Except he'll probably get a surprise $10k fine (civil lawsuit) a few months from now.

For anyone else trying to prevent a gate-rape freedom-fondle, do not try the "less clothes" approach, this one ended with an arrest:


There is also some documentation now that the scanners produce TWENTY times the claimed radiation level:


9 points by trunnell 1 day ago 3 replies      
This is what elections are for.

Did you know you can be stopped and searched without a warrant within 100 miles of the physical border? [1] Between that and this new screening policy for re-entry at international airports, I think we've crossed a line. Everyone I talk to about this is outraged. If we still have a functioning democracy, these policies will change.

It's somewhat expected that now and then the government will overreach (see the Alien and Sedition Acts, etc). But that's why we have elections.

[1]: This band around the border happens to include 2/3 of the US population.

15 points by dholowiski 1 day ago 2 replies      
That's awesome.

Ever read Cory doctorow's "little brother"? That's what I think of every time I read one of these stories.

I've said it before- there are two easy ways to avoid this 1. Drive, 2. Don't visit the USA. To us residents, especially if you live in hawaii- sucks to be you!

Oh, and the rest of the world is laughing at you. Fix your flipping government.

17 points by param 1 day ago replies      
What? I wasn't aware you needed to be irradiated just to enter into the US, even without planning to take any more flights. What is the rationale behind that?
6 points by toast76 1 day ago 2 replies      
I just want to know what the TSA supervisor expected would happen if he DID choose to go back to customs. Then what? Where does he go? He has no ticket, no boarding pass. He can't get on a plane. I don't see how refusing could possible end any other way than for him to walk out of there. Surely even as he was saying this, he'd have realised how absurd it was.

As a tourist, I wouldn't risk it...too easy to put you back on a plane (unless you have to consent to a search there too?). But if I were a citizen of the USA, there is no chance I'd put up with that when returning to my own country.

4 points by techiferous 1 day ago 1 reply      
If you do not like the TSA's policies, please take a moment to write your representatives:



5 points by aneth 1 day ago 2 replies      
If you look at the way this was handled it actually speaks to the professionalism of most of those involved. Regardless of your objection to the policy, which is not the decision of these people, the police and tsa seemed rational and accommodating.

Just think how this might have been handled in other countries.

3 points by jacquesm 1 day ago 1 reply      
For every idiotic law there will be a Rosa Parks.

Now, of course there is a huge difference between state sponsored racism and the TSA policies but I'm very happy this guy decided to test the limits. If you have some spare time next time you land in a US airport ;)

7 points by morganpyne 1 day ago 1 reply      
I find it appalling that US citizens are forced to such measures to enforce their rights and I'm glad that there are people both patient and stubborn enough to play out scenarios like this. However, as a non-US citizen I always wonder to myself when reading such stories if there are any international rights/laws that may be applicable when entering the States as a foreigner?

My understanding is that there are absolutely none, and I would have to submit to any and all egregious and invasive 'requests' (with NO limits) that are demanded of me in order to gain entry (which is why I haven't been there in a while and have no plans to go back). Does anybody have any information to the contrary?

4 points by hartror 1 day ago 4 replies      

    Ah " he's gotten the Miranda talk.  I hide my smile.

Anyone know what this is?

Edit: Thanks, live in Australia so don't get all the lingo.

2 points by jrs235 14 hours ago 0 replies      
Here's something that came to mind after reading this article... What would happen if someone prior to boarding declined the AIT and also told any and all TSA agents that they are not allowed to touch their bodies. We know that leaving the checkpoint prior to complete screening can result in an $11,000 civil fine according to TSA (BTW, where is/does contract exist binding an individual to these rules/statues???) So, what would happen if they basically do the same thing as this gentleman. Refuse to leave due to the threat of a fine but also refuse to consent to anything else. If the TSA order you to be removed, perhaps for disorderly conduct or some other bogus offense, then how could they fine you? Since they were the ones that ordered you to leave prior to the complete screening? And how could they arrest you for disorderly conduct if you are behaving in a civil and polite manner? Eventually, the TSA will have to let you go unless they wish to have someone stay overnight with you when the airport closes... see what I'm getting to here? Refuse to voluntarily leave since you are under duress to stay (possible fine for leaving). Does anyone understand what I'm trying to say? I don't think I'm doing a great job explaining. All in all its, just getting yourself to a place/state that you can't leave since in order to leave voluntarily without giving up any of your rights you face possible punishment. Additionally the TSA will say that you are not being detained and you can leave... but you can't. Anyone want to protest by getting into this situation? Perhaps protesting until TSA explicitly says you are free to go and you will not be fined. They can't remove you and then fine you, right?
7 points by dadkins 1 day ago 2 replies      
Does anyone know why the TSA even gives you the choice to opt out of the backscatter machines? You can't opt out of the metal detectors. It seems like the default policy would be for the new machines to be mandatory as well.
2 points by obiefernandez 1 day ago 2 replies      
When you arrive from an international flight at Atlanta airport, you have to go through security to get out of customs because there is no direct exit out to the street. In other words, when you arrive and go through border control and customs, the only way to get out of the airport is to go through the other terminals. I wonder if the same applies at Cincinnati/N. Kentucky airport.
1 point by sandipc 1 day ago 1 reply      
I fully agree with most of the civil liberties and health concerns I've been reading online about these "Federal Security Detectors," and it certainly is ridiculous that you have to be scanned AFTER flying and AFTER passing through customs just to get home from the airport, but seeing as TSA agents are really just there to carry out policy given to them from their superiors, it seems a little silly to claim that such an action "prove[s] that it is possible."

With an organization with as many employees as the TSA, it seems to me that whether or not one can bypass security really just depends on the specific TSA agents and supervisors dealing with a specific case. This isn't really a blueprint for bypassing TSA security... more like a personal anecdote of a time when the author bypassed security because the TSA/airport security were tired of dealing with him.

2 points by eyeareque 1 day ago 0 replies      
I wonder, would they have been able to arrest him if he was shooting video within the security area? Is it legal to record the audio of a cop if you inform them about it first?

I need to read up on this before I need to travel again. Someone should create a know your rights quick reference guide for air travel.

Side note: I flew from HK to SF yesterday.. No backscatter machines on re-entry of the US border. When I flew from SFO to HK a couple of weeks ago I was lucky enough to have made it into a line that was only a metal detector. They did have some backscatter machines in place.

Second side note: On my flight home from HK to SFO they had roped off the waiting area at my gate. There were about 6 Muslim men (hats, bears, speaking arabic gave me this impression) waiting in line with the rest of the passengers to get all of our carry on items physically searched before our flight. I'm sure the extra screening was not due to their being on the flight /sarcasm. I over heard some of the men speaking about how they can fly anywhere in the world and don't have a problem. But as soon as they fly to the US, they get harassed up and down. I truly felt sorry for them.

3 points by dnsworks 1 day ago 1 reply      
I'm curious if any lawyers from the EFF have put themselves through this so that they have good grounds to sue the federal government for violation of constitutional rights?
9 points by dshep 1 day ago 0 replies      
Awesome, more people need to stand up for their rights like this.
3 points by noelchurchill 1 day ago 0 replies      
The authors tone is reminiscent of the narrator from Fight Club.

Excellent write up btw.

4 points by jwu711 1 day ago 1 reply      
I can just imagine that reporters are just going to be flying in and out now so they can get some create articles and stories from all of this
1 point by LiveTheDream 23 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm surprised there wasn't a big fuss about the audio recording. Just one person asking if there was video being recorded, and a lot of people not wanting to make declarative statements on record.

Does this mean that officials have accepted the fact that citizens can legally record them performing their duties?

1 point by jrs235 13 hours ago 0 replies      
Additionally, what happens with a terrorist shoves a [plastic] bomb up his butt? Will they then switch over to only x-ray (as opposed to the radio wave) machines and up the juice to look into our bodies and/or require cavity searches?

Or even, how telling are these images from these machines? Could a determined person kill and animal or human, strip the skin and attach it with stitches to their own body to create a cavity to hold contraband? Perhaps making it look like a beer belly?

This is getting absurd?

1 point by jscore 22 hours ago 0 replies      
Some companies are making a killing by selling those X-Ray machines to the gov't. The politicians who pushed this are getting a nice cut from this. There's startup for you.
1 point by smtf 22 hours ago 0 replies      
If I am understanding this correctly the TSA/Customs officials could submit you to a backscatter/pat-down BEFORE you clear customs and the Constitutional argument evaporates. I imagine that would require an overhaul of the layout of many airports, but perhaps if enough people make a fuss like the author then someone will push for it. Does anyone know of a reason they couldn't do another security screening after you land and just before you clear customs ?
1 point by 27182818284 1 day ago 4 replies      
Really lucky. That situation could have easily turned into a 6 hour detention regardless of legal rights (which are already being ignored)
1 point by icey 23 hours ago 1 reply      
I wonder how many of these opt-outs are going to end up on the no-fly list.
1 point by sgt 22 hours ago 3 replies      
Is it common to say "Sir" when speaking to a police officer in the US? Where I come from, the police officer is expected to call you "Sir" and act as your servant.
1 point by Vipsy 23 hours ago 0 replies      
"First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win" - Mahatma Gandhi
1 point by kingkawn 1 day ago 0 replies      
What is the author's race?
2 points by aubonpanzer 1 day ago 0 replies      
Kafkaesque to say the least
-3 points by dshankar 21 hours ago 0 replies      
It is incredibly dangerous to write things like this. It encourages rebellious activity during one of the busiest traveling seasons.

I understand these are potentially too invasive, but as long as the TSA agent is not being a pervert, I am ok with it for one major reason:
It comforts me knowing that it (in some way) helps to ensure the safety of flights, our friends, and family. It's no guarantee but it helps a bit and I'd like it to be a safe traveling season.

I blogged more about it here:

-4 points by Eil 1 day ago 5 replies      
I agree entirely with the author's cause and I believe that the guilty-until-proven-innocent mindset of present airport security is wrong and should be unconstitutional.

However, upon reading the article I very much got the impression that the author was refusing to be scanned or searched just to make trouble. When asked why he was refusing to be searched, his answers (in his own writing) seemed to be along the lines of, "because I don't feel like it." I'm sorry, but that's just not really a valid defense. Whether you feel it's constitutional or not, the law says you have to go through these checkpoints when selected. If you're going to refuse, you need to have a much better reason than you don't feel like it.

Ultimately, it sounded to me like they escorted him out of the terminal simply because they were tired of dealing with him, not because he found a loophole in their logic or rules. Less well-mannered officials would have put him in jail for a judge to deal with in the morning.

SR-71 Blackbird Communication to Tower econrates.com
404 points by da5e 1 day ago   66 comments top 14
64 points by cstross 1 day ago 5 replies      
Same pilot, different anecdote, "how slow can it go?"


30 points by naz 1 day ago 5 replies      
Comic Sans MS, maroon on a beige background, this is what Readability was made for.
7 points by rudyfink 1 day ago 1 reply      
In reference to the uniform voice of center controllers--the "Houston Center" voice, Tom Wolfe tells a related story about pilots in "The Right Stuff." He asserts that all of the test pilots of the era copied the slow, calm, and always subtly positive delivery of Chuck Yeager as the pre-eminent pilot of the day. Other pilots in turn copied the test pilots and so Yeager's voice floated down and became the mold for all American aviation radio communication.

I'd guess that the author is correct in that the controllers copied the delivery of the voice of the space program from Houston, but those controllers were usually former test pilots or members of the military flight programs themselves, so we're probably still thinking of the same unflappable voice.

48 points by rbanffy 1 day ago 0 replies      
I know this has been posted many times before, but I love it every time.
6 points by alanh 1 day ago 2 replies      
Submitted 7 months ago on a more readable, seemingly more original site.


http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=1247709 good amount of discussion)

32 points by mdaniel 1 day ago 6 replies      
Thank you again, http://lab.arc90.com/experiments/readability/ , for making my web browsing experience safe from the onslaught of backgrounds and fonts.
16 points by da5e 1 day ago 3 replies      
I like the metaphor of being "ahead of the jet." as a term for mastery. I know that feeling exactly sometimes.
3 points by matwood 1 day ago 0 replies      
Great story! Those SR-71s were amazing machines in the air. On the ground was a different story. I remember reading about how they leaked all sorts of fluids on the ground because the body was designed to expand at the higher altitudes and speeds. Amazing engineering.
4 points by joe_bleau 1 day ago 0 replies      
The SR-71 flight manual is (mostly) online, if anyone is interested: http://www.sr-71.org/blackbird/manual/
1 point by peteri 7 hours ago 0 replies      
stolen from http://www.pprune.org/tech-log/423988-concorde-question-3.ht...
Ancient tale.

There's this SR-71 Blackbird stooging around Cuba on a top-secret mission, at FL500+ and Mach 2+.... when they get a call requesting them to change heading "because of traffic at your altitude".
Traffic at THEIR altitude ??
Anyway, they comply, and shortly, yes, there's an Air France Concorde out of Caracas (Air France flew there in the early days) slowly sailing across their flight path.

Just imagine... two guys in bonedomes and full pressure suits, in a cramped cockpit, watching something like a hundred people in shirt sleeves or summer dresses, sipping their champagne and maybe just starting on their smoked salmon hors d'oeuvres, flying at their altitude and nearly their speed....

1 point by davidmurphy 1 day ago 2 replies      
The SR-71 Blackbird went from LA to DC in around an hour. Imagine if (when) a passenger jet could go that fast -- it would transform our country.

Pop over to the East Coast for the day, head home in time for dinner.

1 point by dfghjkhgbfd 1 day ago 0 replies      
There is a similar one of an SR71 tooling around over Cuba at god-knows-what 1000s of feet being asked to move to make way for another airplane.
A Concorde goes past, with people in shirt sleeves happily sipping their champagne.
-4 points by findm 1 day ago 1 reply      
man thats so bad ass
-3 points by 16s 1 day ago 0 replies      
Walter spoke: "Los Angeles Center, Aspen 20, can you give us a ground speed check?" There was no hesitation, and the replay came as if was an everyday request.

"Aspen 20, I show you at one thousand eight hundred and forty-two knots, across the ground."

Goodbye, Google App Engine carlosble.com
356 points by vrruiz 2 days ago   94 comments top 33
104 points by nl 2 days ago 5 replies      
Does no one read the documentation before deciding to use a platform anymore?

App Engine supports Python 2.5. The Python interpreter runs in a secured "sandbox" environment to isolate your application for service and security. The interpreter can run any Python code, including Python modules you include with your application, as well as the Python standard library. The interpreter cannot load Python modules with C code; it is a "pure" Python environment.

At the top of the FIRST page of documentation: http://code.google.com/appengine/docs/python/overview.html

Google Apps domains do not currently support HTTPS. HTTPS support is limited to apps accessed via .appspot.com domains. Accessing an HTTPS URL on a Google Apps domain will return a "host not found" error, and accessing a URL whose handler only accepts HTTPS (see below) using HTTP will return an HTTP 403 "Forbidden" error. You can link to an HTTPS URL with the .appspot.com domain for secure features, and use the Apps domain and HTTP for the rest of the site.

HIGHLIGHTED on http://code.google.com/appengine/docs/python/config/appconfi...

A request handler has a limited amount of time to generate and return a response to a request, typically around 30 seconds. Once the deadline has been reached, the request handler is interrupted.


While a request can take as long as 30 seconds to respond, App Engine is optimized for applications with short-lived requests, typically those that take a few hundred milliseconds. An efficient app responds quickly for the majority of requests. An app that doesn't will not scale well with App Engine's infrastructure.


I could go on and on.. reading this I see "I wasted 15000€ by not reading the documentation"

I usually think the title technical architect is a bit stupid (my business card says I'm one, so I can say that) but this guy needs a good technical architect to make platform decisions prior to wasting that much money

27 points by krosaen 2 days ago 3 replies      
This hasn't been my experience.

Yes, existing techniques for full text search works or things like geolocation queries won't work but there are other[1] techniques[2] that work just as well; it's just not the sql way. Basically, support for multiple set membership queries against a list of tags stored with entities is extremely powerful and if you index properly, you can do a lot of cool things [3]. Plus, you can do datastore queries in parallel [4], which means you don't have to denormalize as much as you think; just parallelize and memcache results; e.g for a complicated front page, you can fetch different types of content in parallel.

The local server behaves remarkably the same as the deployed server, it's quite rare I find a situation where something behaves differently in production. the entire datastore can be tested locally, including complicated schemas / indices / queries in fast running unit tests. This means when I do need to do something fancy with the datastore, I can fully test it with unit tests and be confident it will work when deployed.

Long running tasks can always be broken up using the task queue. the limit will soon be 10 minutes for individual tasks and cron jobs [5]

I agree that cold start is a huge issue, but looks like it is being addressed in the 1.4 release [5] where you can pay for 3 reserve instances at all ties. Lack of support for https on your domain definitely sucks too, but I don't see how he wouldn't have been aware of that before going with GAE.

Finally, there are a number of things that are a huge time / money savers:
- really easy deployment process including support for multiple versions. This let's you have staging instances and quickly roll back to a previous version if there are any problems
- a nice admin console with a number of tools, including comprehensive access to logs that are coherent across all instances
- some really nice libraries for examining performance of datastore queries and other api calls [6] and getting daily email reports of any exceptions [7]. these are built using hooks available to you in case you want to build something similar (for instance I used hooks to have regression tests on the number of datastore queries each page requires).
- the services and apis made available are really nice. for instance, the image hosting infrastructure that provides fast access to different sizes for a stored picture based on a url is pretty slick; they basically opened up the same infrastructure that is used by picasaweb to app engine users
- virtually no hosting costs until you get a lot of traffic. thousands of daily visitors is still in the free range

That said, my biggest outstanding gripes:

- cold start problem (until 1.4 is out)

- datastore latency spikes sometimes. this has gotten a lot better in the past few weeks, but I'll still have this gripe until I see it more consistent for a couple months

- no support for incoming emails with attachments > 1mb (makes incoming photos from smart phones impossible since they are usually > 3Mp these days)

- no support for long polling (upcoming channel API seems to be more for chat rooms than for general purpose server push) [8]

[1] http://www.billkatz.com/2009/6/Simple-Full-Text-Search-for-A...

[2] http://fluffybunnysoftware.com/node/8

[3] http://code.google.com/events/io/sessions/BuildingScalableCo...

[4] http://code.google.com/p/asynctools

[5] http://groups.google.com/group/google-appengine/browse_threa...

[6] http://googleappengine.blogspot.com/2010/03/easy-performance...


[8] http://bitshaq.com/2010/09/01/sneak-peak-gae-channel-api

54 points by st3fan 2 days ago 3 replies      
"developing on GAE introduced such a design complexity that working around it pushes us 5 months behind schedule"

This is the core of all their problems. It is a mindset incompatibility between these app designers and GAE.

The GAE APIs and rules are actually pretty simple and well defined. It works really well, but only if you work WITH those rules. You have to adopt the GAE application design philosophy.

If you don't, and if you work AGAINST the rules and best practices set by GAE then you are in trouble. Big trouble. This is what happened here.

I understand this is easy to say afterwards. And you can't really blame them for finding out the hard way.

Note that the same applies to for example all the great services that Amazon Web Services provides; they only work if you build your apps with the Amazon specific design approach in mind. Things like eventual consistency, expect things to fail, don't do large amounts of work in single jobs. Etc. Etc.

These appoaches suck more or less if you come from a 'total control over a bunch of machines' background. But they are so needed to scale.

22 points by csytan 2 days ago 2 replies      
It sounds like a lot of his problems stem from the use of Django. I've tried it before, and believe me, Django absolutely sucks on Appengine.

First off, you have a full featured framework which was designed for SQL relational databases. Many of Django's features either have to be given up, or are monkey-patched beyond belief to get partial functionality. Not to mention quite a few Django apps use database features which are simply not supported by BigTable.

Secondly, Django is not exactly the smallest framework, so loading time can be quite expensive and will be tacked on to every cold start.

All that being said, I've had good success with the tornado framework. It's fast, well written, and thoughtfully designed. Check out my profile if you want to see some examples of apps written with tornado + GAE.

25 points by ivanzhao 2 days ago 3 replies      
I just launched my app 4 days ago (threewiki.com) and its backend is using GAE (Python + Tornado).
On the second day, it was featured on TheNextWeb front page and the server got TONS of traffic. It scared me a bit, and I quickly change the daily max quota to $10.
Anyways, GAE handles everything very gracefully. Over 70% of our users use either Facebook or Twitter to login and it hasn't been a problem at all.

I always think if your site can't be host by GAE, then it's probably not very scalable at the first place. I agree it might be better to host the data-processing end on EC2 or elsewhere if it's intense. Else in terms of the "View" part of your project, I wouldn't give it another thought for using GAE again.

14 points by nir 2 days ago 0 replies      
The article mostly describes obvious, well documented limitations of GAE. It's really the story of a team that needed a saw, picked a hammer, and spent months trying to get it to cut wood.

This is a pretty common pattern in software, so it might be more interesting to write an article about why they chose the wrong technology and how they stuck with it even with it was clear it wasn't built to do what they needed.

5 points by jasonkester 2 days ago 0 replies      
I feel your pain, brother. I went through all of this a few years back. AppEngine was still pretty new back then, so it all seemed like things that they would fix before long. But it sure didn't feel ready for production.

I'm actually quite surprised that all those same limitations are still in place after all this time. I guess if I took a minute I could come up with an issue or two I had back then that has been fixed since, but his list of show stoppers are all things that people were complaining about, and that Google gave the impression of being on top of.

12 points by mark_l_watson 2 days ago 1 reply      
A useful article for people to read before using AppEngine. I only use AppEngine for my own projects, so far no jobs for customers.

I was aware of most of the limitations of AppEngine that the author of the article mentions after just a few hours of experimenting with AppEngine. Now, AppEngine now no longer gives me many problems.

I think the lesson is to do a lot of experiments before committing to technologies.

I don't use the Python SDK. Most of what I have done has been using Java (but with small Clojure and JRuby experiments). One thing that helped was to start using Objectify instead of JDO (as an example).

7 points by kroo 2 days ago 0 replies      
While I feel the OP's pain in terms of difficulty working with the limitations of AppEngine, what he's not mentioning is the collection of benefits you get from AppEngine over other services. We've found that once you work out a solution to the datastore and request timeout issues, you have a remarkably robust and scalable system for free (or at least out-of-the-box).

With AppEngine, I've never had to migrate a database schema, build a load-balancer, hire a fulltime sysadmin, or even pay for servers that arn't receiving traffic. I don't have to set up a large-scale deployment system, nor spin up a new database server when traffic gets too heavy. AppEngine so far has been remarkably cheap (we're starting to bring in more customers however, so we'll see how long this lasts).

Many of the challenges he mentions come down to thinking about writing a webapp with a longer-term vision in mind. Datastore limitations crop up when you outgrow your first datastore in a standard system; in AppEngine they're properly enumerated and dealt with from day 1. Likewise long-running connections become very tricky to deal with with lots of traffic... this point is a little harder to argue with the recent popularity of asynchronous-io servers, but I think Google is working hard on these limitations. SSL is just annoying; we've had to deal with this by adding an SSL proxy until Google adds SSL support -- but it sounds like Google is pretty close to solving this one (it's been promised by end of year).

Also, AppEngine is written in a very high-level way; should you reach a point where AppEngine no longer makes sense, it is amazingly easy to transition over to another system (as the OP apparently found out; I would give more credit to the design patterns inherent in the AppEngine APIs than 'TDD driven development'). Tornado, webpy, etc have virtually the same interface as AppEngine's webapp framework.

There are definitely tradeoffs when choosing AppEngine as a production backend right now, and its certainly not the right solution for every problem... but for many people, us included, its been a pretty large net benefit for our startup. Google is actively improving the system, and I expect many of these problems will go away in the next 6 months or so.

5 points by zephyrfalcon 2 days ago 0 replies      
I agree that GAE has its share of problems. However, many of the complaints listed are about limits and limitations, and can be found in the documentation; at least points #1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 11 and 11.

I developed an app with GAE about 2 years ago, and ran into many of the same problems (although some of the limits were probably lower then). Fortunately I could work around them, and the app wasn't used by tons of users anyway. I can see how it would be a serious problem otherwise, though.

9 points by jimrandomh 2 days ago 3 replies      
There are a lot of apologists here, and they're all missing the point. Google App Engine has a large number of random issues and limitations which, while they each individually seem like they ought not to matter, add up to a substantial risk for a project running on it. I'm currently working on a project with a web component, and considered GAE. I chose not to use it, because some of the stuff I encountered in the documentation is absolutely terrifying. You're supposed to handle exceptions from the datastore? Really? The best you can possibly do is retry, but if that was going to work the library would be doing it automatically... so I guess it's saying that your app might just randomly fail sometimes. No https with a domain? I guess ever taking credit card numbers is off the table. Thirty second limit per request? Sounds reasonable, except for all the complaints about the app engine taking thirty seconds just to load the Python interpreter and compile their code. That sort of shit will sink a project; until App Engine has had a lot more time to sort out its issues and mature, I want no part of it.
8 points by ajessup 2 days ago 0 replies      
All the points he makes are valid - and stem from the fact that GAE is designed to be 'infinitely scalable'. Because of this, it forces you into a number of design patterns that facilitate distributed, scalable software.

This can be a good thing, if you know scalability is going to be a killer feature in the near future. It can also a real pain in the ass if it's more important to simply get something off the ground quickly and see if it has market traction, and you don't want abandon the convenient but difficult to scale practices like long running processes and JOINs. In my experience, most startups fall squarely into this latter camp. Scalability is a nice problem to have for most of us.

AppEngine for Business now has a hosted SQL mode, which presumably uses a less scalable but ACID compliant alternative to the standard GAE data store (disclaimer - I haven't used it). Since he's already throwing down some serious coin on his app on GAE it might be worth investigating that before abandoning the platform completely.

6 points by endlessvoid94 2 days ago 1 reply      
if you're using Django, check out http://www.djangy.com -- it's heroku for django (and eventually other wsgi frameworks)


4 points by smoody 2 days ago 1 reply      
the next version will allow you to pay to keep three copies of your app loaded and ready to go at all times. that should eliminate the insanely slow load times for apps that don't get constant traffic (at a price yet to be determined).

google is also adding sql database capabilities to the platform soon.

and google apps for business will eventually let you talk https on your own domain (at a price yet to be determined).

i suspect they're about 6 or 8 months from becoming a solid solution to many problems.

7 points by powera 2 days ago 1 reply      
A few of these points are just ridiculous:

1) If you want "SQL and Joins", use SQL. This is like complaining that you can't play Halo on Linux.

1A) There isn't full text search. If you need full text search, use a system with full text search as a feature.

2) Some of the points are out of date (or will be out of date soon). The 30 second limit for cron jobs will be 10 minutes after the next release. As noted, the 1000 results per query limit is gone already.

3) Anything can fail. If you assume your own system won't fail, you're going to be in worse shape later.

4) What objects would you cache that are >1MB anyhow? In almost any case, you'd be better off caching it as multiple, smaller objects.

4 points by ceperley 2 days ago 0 replies      
We have a product built on app engine, sure we've had our share of challenges but the benefits far outweigh them. To name a few benefits: A developer staff of 1 can focus on the application code and not the infrastructure details. Fast image serving auto-scales all your images to any size, and serves them off the fast servers used by Picasa. Versions can be used for testing multiple branches of code on production servers seamlessly.

#1 Has never been an issue for us
#3 Is incorrect with the new task queue upgrades
#6 We have a full-text system working just fine
#7 Is a benefit when working with a distributed datastore
#8 DB performance after the recent updates has been stunning
#10 So they badly designed their queries and blame app engine?
#11 Is flat out incorrect
#12 What database is immune to failure? Would love to know

App Engine doesn't do everything, and no one is claiming it does. We have a secondary VPS we offload certain image processing tasks for example. But what it does do is extremely powerful from a develop perspective, and the application-centric model, like heroku or engine yard, is where things are headed. I would much rather leave the server and scaling issues to the experts so I can spend time improving my application.

3 points by wrath 2 days ago 1 reply      
We love AppEngine for many of the reasons which he gives. Because of its limitations, the platform makes you think and write code with proper design patterns in mind. If you just start to write code without thinking about it beforehand, yes you won't like AppEngine and it's not for you. It'll cost you LOTS of money and won't perform very well. On the other hand, by writing code designed for AppEngine we've been able to reduce our costs by several thousand $$ a month. Also a side benefit is that we migrated one of our IT roles to a development role, which means that we're able to iterate faster.

Granted we don't have a need for SSL and not being able to use C libraries in python has caused us many hours "pain", but compared to the alternative for a small company like we have, it's well worth it.

My biggest issue with AppEngine is that there's no full-text index functionality, and there's no way to create your own. We've tried everything, and nothing works if you have millions of documents like we have. Our search is still external to AppEngine but we're hoping that Google will do something about it sooner or later.

6 points by mike_esspe 2 days ago 2 replies      
The biggest problem for me with GAE is cost. Currently I'm paying around $150 per week for around 50k daily active users (~6 million requests per day).

I'm almost sure, that i can run the same amount of traffic from $100/month dedicated server.

2 points by mootothemax 2 days ago 0 replies      
I recently developed my first GAE site, and whilst I didn't run into the problems the author of this article did, I spent a lot of time hunting down best practises.

It's now been ages since I last looked at Amazon's offerings; does anything have any links to best practises / development strategies for either AWS or GAE?

5 points by checker659 2 days ago 2 replies      
#11 isn't true. Since a recent update, you can now retrieve more than 1000 results in a single call.
1 point by arfrank 2 days ago 2 replies      
#3 isn't true for taskqueue tasks or cron jobs anymore, the deadline is now 10 minutes ( actually will be once 1.4.0 SDK is released in about a week or so )

Also at first glance there is no indication of how the author got to a value of 15k€. My best guess, and a guess at that, is that they put the value of a line of code at 1€ and had to migrate 15k lines, but I hope there is more scientific than than.

2 points by crizCraig 2 days ago 0 replies      
One thing not mentioned is the development server slowness and need to constantly restart it. The live website actually ends up being much faster than the development site on your machine. Apparently, this is due to the fact that the development server is single threaded. TyphoonAE is one work around but then you're depending on a third-party to catch up with the latest API changes.
1 point by preek 1 day ago 0 replies      
Incredible how many points this article gathers considering the valid arguments made in the comments[1]. There must be a lot of bad experience (or fear) with this platform.

Personally, I recently had my fair share of problems with the DownloadError, but I knew it would come up (because I read the documentation - and I concur with the limit for scaling reasons). So I built myself a failover decorator relaying the failing requests to a VPS.

Otherwise, I love GAE!

1. For example the top commenter nl with 83 points: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=1928148

2 points by bigwally 2 days ago 0 replies      
It is not even in Beta yet, as it states in the documentation from Google;

"This is a preview release of Google App Engine."

My biggest gripe about GAE (and Google in general) is that when a change is made on Google's infrastructure that causes large problems, no acknowledgement (or answer) is made until enough people complain.

1 point by epynonymous 2 days ago 0 replies      
i think in general what we should take from this article is one user's experience with gae and use it as just another data point. many comments on here seem to suggest that they're upset about the bashing, but this is just feedback, a grain of salt, i find it helpful, although noted that you could probably find most of these in the documentation.

i originally also considered gae for my project, but decided against it, my impetus was that i wanted to use a homegrown best of breed stack: tornado, mysql, nginx, memcached, python2.7 and have more control over the environment.

0 points by jscore 2 days ago 0 replies      
I'm a little bit confused about the number of arguments against the OP's post, here and especially on his own site.

As someone who's considering whether going w/GAE or custom, the points he makes are totally valid and applicable.

1 point by thebootstrapper 1 day ago 0 replies      
IMO, i feel this is a design flaw. Without understanding
what's a NOSQL used for you can't except joins to work.

Shouldn't there be a checklist to show "What applications can be moved to cloud (appengine here)? including the myths, expectations, assertions?"

1 point by iwr 2 days ago 0 replies      
Did someone document their progress, or overview the development of a medium-sized app (~10K LoC) on GAE?
0 points by vanni 2 days ago 0 replies      
Really, REALLY I can't understand how this can be #1 on HN now. Ah, Carlos, please go RTFM! Powerful tools... they are not for everyone.
0 points by vbsredlofb 1 day ago 0 replies      
This is the worst critic I've ever read about App engine.
-2 points by lappet 2 days ago 1 reply      
For all I know, GAE is really easy to develop on. I made this using Django in a couple of hours' time: http://bhoogolvidya.appspot.com/
-4 points by tybris 2 days ago 0 replies      
GAE is web scale!
-1 point by sahaj 1 day ago 1 reply      
i'd curious to hear what you switch to and, in about a year, how well it is working out.

my buddies and i are working on a time manager for college students and we are having a hard time deciding between RoR and GAE. any insight would be helpful.

we are looking for:
login manager
database capable of up to 50 fields for each user
sorting and search capability
must cost less than $10/year/user.

ps. if you are someone interested in solving this problem, please contact me directly at hn@sahajsingh.com

PG on the cover of Forbes forbes.com
261 points by GDH 4 days ago   65 comments top 13
41 points by chaosmachine 4 days ago 2 replies      
Here is the actual cover:


21 points by j_baker 4 days ago replies      
"Y Combinator--a computer term for a program that runs other programs"

Heh... completely wrong, but I suppose it's the best you can expect a non-techie/math nerd readership to get. Heck, it's probably close to the most you can expect the average programmer to get.

EDIT: And another one...

"Graham met Morris, an authority on the Unix computer language"

9 points by patio11 4 days ago 0 replies      
I've got to imagine any photographer trying for a YC photo would look at the Inc cover which reprised The Last Supper and just despair.
21 points by evanrmurphy 4 days ago 0 replies      
Slipping a link into the headline to (presumably) your startup, even if it is inside a "// not related" comment, is pretty tacky. You might even call it spam.

Update: Thanks for removing the link.

18 points by evanrmurphy 4 days ago 1 reply      
5 points by scorpion032 4 days ago 0 replies      
6 points by PostOnce 4 days ago 1 reply      
♫ I wanna be on the cover of Forbes magazine, smiling next to Oprah and Paul Graham. ♫ Heh.

Congratulations, pg. If nothing else, being on the cover of Forbes must put a smile on your face.

4 points by nivertech 4 days ago 2 replies      
Y-Combinator has something in common with the Moore Law: self-fulfilling prophecy.



7 points by yycom 4 days ago 1 reply      
And here was I expecting a typically insightful commentary by PG regarding the front page of a business journal.
2 points by jdp23 4 days ago 3 replies      
i thought the virtual absence of women was interesting. Jessica Mah got two paragraphs near the end, Demi Moore a passing mention, and Jessica Livingston merited two sentences. she co-founded YC and is married to Paul, and they couldn't even ask her for a quote?

other than that it was guys, guys, guys. http://bit.ly/ycturgor2 has more.

3 points by danielha 4 days ago 0 replies      
That cover is awesome. Congrats pg!
1 point by RiderOfGiraffes 4 days ago 0 replies      
1 point by kashif 4 days ago 0 replies      
This brought a smile to my face :
My Y Combinator interview. korokithakis.net
262 points by StavrosK 2 days ago   108 comments top 28
19 points by lionhearted 1 day ago 4 replies      
> I got an email from Paul Graham saying basically that being a single founder put me at a disadvantage, because two founders can talk each other out of bad ideas, but I appeared too stubborn. I'm not entirely sure what this means, as I was under the impression, from reading his essays, that Paul was against single founders because they might give up too easily, so a founder who sticks to his idea would be desirable.

Having worked both solo and with partners, I will never again run a business solo for an extended period of time. If the business is already profitable, I'll hire a competent GM-level person to help run it. If it isn't profitable enough to do that, then I'm going to spend a majority of my time recruiting someone for whom the company will be greater than the sum of its parts.

Having someone to talk to is huge. If they pick out a single one of your blindspots or bad points, that could make the business 20% more successful. Really, there's a long list of things that can go wrong in business. Tweaking and refining at any stage could easily give a 1%, 2%, 5% edge. Those stack up really fast.

Solo isn't so good. Partners are good. If profitable, you can hire some talented to take that role. If not profitable, I'd strongly encourage you to get over your... well, I was about to call it delusions of grandeur, but that isn't fair to say. For me, in the past I've fallen in love with my ideas, thought they were worth more than they were, and thought the execution would come fairly easily. I was delusional. Maybe you're not, but if you don't have money coming in and an obvious winner on your hands, you might rethink what the business is worth and go recruit someone. Have some sort of vesting or buyout provisions if it doesn't work and go get a cofounder.

I was the biggest pro-solo guy in the world previously, but I was mistaken. You got a high fever? Tough shit, it's just you running the business, make it work anyways. You ripped the cartilage in your knee and can't walk? Tough shit, hobble over the taxi stand, get a taxi to the bank, and limp/drag yourself in to do your business.

Having a team is good. If profitable, hire a GM-type, that'd work. If not strongly think about recruiting a cofounder.

65 points by endlessvoid94 1 day ago 2 replies      
I hope you continue your startup. YC is NOT the end of the line.
15 points by endlessvoid94 1 day ago 2 replies      
Djangy got an interview and then after several days, a rejection letter. We're too similar to Heroku.

You know what? I'm not really that upset. They made a good decision from their point of view. But we have 200+ beta users, lots of positive feedback, and have a good product.

We don't need YC to tell us that. So just keep on truckin. Get users, iterate, and make YC regret rejecting you :-)

7 points by davidw 1 day ago 1 reply      
It's not clear from the article, but I hope you had the chance to spend a bit of time in California, looking around, seeing some of the sites, and so on. It'd be a pity to go all that way and not have a look around!

Also: it looks like you live in a part of the world that is particularly nice and beautiful in its own way. You ought to do something to encourage visiting hackers to stop by so as to have some people to chat with once in a while.

29 points by logop 1 day ago 2 replies      
"I got an email from Paul Graham saying basically that being a single founder put me at a disadvantage, because two founders can talk each other out of bad ideas, but I appeared too stubborn."

Fortune 500's biggest company is a single-founder company. Most Fortune 500 companies were founded by a single person. Don't let detractors tell you single-founder companies don't work.

11 points by StavrosK 1 day ago 0 replies      
I would like to post here to thank you all for your amazing support, you are a fantastic group of people. I hope everyone who didn't get accepted to this batch can see this, I know it will help their morale, as it has greatly helped me.

Thanks again!

6 points by mcxx 1 day ago 3 replies      
Have you considered applying to The Openfund (http://theopenfund.com/) or HackFWD (http://hackfwd.com/)?
4 points by hackoder 1 day ago 1 reply      
I would see this as a win for you :)

Being invited is a strong sign that you/your idea have merit. But instead of having to deal with funding/investors/other crap, you get to work on your idea, in a "remote area of Greece", be your own boss and grow the company how you want. I can very easily see this idea being modestly successful and giving you a lot of freedom to work on other ideas.

4 points by akkartik 1 day ago 1 reply      
"I was under the impression, from reading his essays, that Paul was against single founders because they might give up too easily, so a founder who sticks to his idea would be desirable."

Discussion of determination vs flexibility:

4 points by jdp23 1 day ago 0 replies      
excellent writeup, great perspectives -- thanks for sharing!

> They did seem to be a bit dismissive about the product (as in “why would I use this, I already have bookmarks in my browser”), but I'm sure that's just standard procedure in this sort of interviews.

i'm curious what others' experiences are on this front?

5 points by gspyrou 1 day ago 2 replies      
Καλημέρα ,
Κατ΄αρχάς σ...γχαρητήρια πο... έφτασες μέχρι την σ...νεντε...ξη! - γνώμη μο... ειναι οτι δεν θα πρέπει να απογοητε...τείς αλλά να το δεις σαν ε...καιρία για ένα νέο ξεκίνημα.
2 points by inovica 1 day ago 2 replies      
A very well-thought out site and a good implementation (I've just tried it). I'm going to use it.

I'm a single founder and whilst I've never reached a point with stratospheric income, the businesses that I have built in the 15 years I've been an entrepreneur have been great. I've enjoyed life. For me, being a single founder has always meant quick decisions and I employ people to compliment me. I'm not a 'finisher' - I'm an ideas person - and so I needed to employ people who would keep me on track and help me finish. There is no right or wrong way in terms of the number of founders, my opinion, and indeed I have both seen and experienced that having more than one founder can lead to disagreements. Good luck with Historious. I really like it

4 points by PStamatiou 1 day ago 1 reply      
Ah darn, would have loved to meetup with you Stavros, as a fellow Greek startupper. :) I'll let you know next time I'm in Greece.
3 points by necrodome 1 day ago 1 reply      
what did you tell them when they said 'i have already bookmarks in my browser'?

i started hacking on a similar idea (a chrome extension that monitors every url I visit and logs them with a web service that performs snapshots and full text searches), but then realized chrome's history already performs full text searching.

1 point by JofArnold 1 day ago 1 reply      
I can't speak for your specific case, but I would guess that stubborness would indeed work against you. The rules for single cofounders work the same as for teams: call out YC when they incorrectly correct something you know to be valid (and back it up) but if the criticism/idea they inject is good then roll with it and riff on it with them. You'd do the same, presumably, if you were chatting with your entrepreneur friends... I'm not sure it's really that different; it's basically a panel of hackers :)
3 points by paradox95 1 day ago 1 reply      
Your site and idea look great. I would probably move away from the paid accounts and try to monetize another way. I am sure you probably do have some paid users but I wouldn't pay for a service like this even though I like the idea. You'd probably be better off with an advertising model.
1 point by citizenkeys 15 hours ago 0 replies      
i'm trying to create a web page with links to information by people that made it to the interview round:


If you have links to posts/blogs/etc about the interview experience, please forward the links to me. thanks.

1 point by archon810 1 day ago 1 reply      
I have to ask what benefits your idea offers over something like diigo.com or even delicious.com. You present the idea slightly differently from diigo, but in the end diigo does exactly the same things, and then some (a lot more actually). I don't mean to discourage you at all, I'm just wondering what I may be missing here.
2 points by _grrr 1 day ago 0 replies      
Just an aside on histori.us, it's a useful feature, we wanted to do the same but never got round to it. I noticed today however that when you're logged in to Google, and search, there is the option to just search "Visited pages". Although a super-set of your bookmarks, it's still useful, and free... I'm not sure how long the option has been there.
3 points by atirip 1 day ago 0 replies      
Nevertheless, you kick ass. You are from Europe (me too), from "secondary" country (me too), one founder (me too), you did make it to the interview (I didn't).
3 points by Dramatize 1 day ago 3 replies      
I really like the design of your site.
1 point by UXMovement 1 day ago 1 reply      
The reason why I think they rejected you is because you are a single founder. That means if you get hit by a bus they're fucked. Whereas, if you had a team or a co-founder the company can still go on without you.
2 points by citizenkeys 1 day ago 1 reply      
I really admire you for posting your details about this.

Are there other blog posts by other people that have been through this experience?

2 points by davidmurphy 1 day ago 0 replies      
don't give up!
1 point by drdo 1 day ago 1 reply      
It's great that you are going forward with your idea.

From a user point of view of your application, my main concern would be privacy, how do you address this?

2 points by andrewcamel 1 day ago 1 reply      
Please continue your startup. I use it constantly.
1 point by epynonymous 1 day ago 1 reply      
it's good feedback, find more people to join your cause, keep up the good work!
1 point by thomaspun 1 day ago 0 replies      
Glad the ride was enjoyable :)
Whoa, Google, That's A Pretty Big Security Hole techcrunch.com
257 points by bdb 3 days ago   33 comments top 12
56 points by randomwalker 3 days ago 2 replies      
I've been tracking security holes that leak your identity for a while.

Via a bug in Firefox's Error object: http://33bits.org/2010/06/01/yet-another-identity-stealing-b...

Via a bug in Google spreadsheets: http://33bits.org/2010/02/22/google-docs-leaks-identity/ I found this one :-)

Via history stealing: http://33bits.org/2010/02/18/cookies-supercookies-and-uberco...

More sophisticated, but hypothetical version of previous: http://33bits.org/2010/02/19/ubercookies-history-stealing-so...

XSS bugs and other problems with Instant personalization partner sites: http://33bits.org/2010/09/28/instant-personalization-privacy...

I've also been predicting that this will eventually become the new normal -- both because the bugs are coming too fast to fix (and exploits in the wild will become more common) and because Facebook is pushing to change people's expectations with Instant Personalization.

The other day I attended a talk about one-click frauds. I realized that that's the perfect black-hat use-case for this class of attacks (although current 1-click fraudsters are apparently rather low tech). Stay tuned.

10 points by mlinsey 3 days ago 2 replies      
Didn't something similar happen with Wattvision when they launched? It was a bug in GAE authentication-the site didn't even intend to do that.
6 points by drivebyacct2 3 days ago 1 reply      
Why has not a single person mentioned that TC is just wrong? The problem is not that it gets your email address... it looks like it's likely that the website isn't even getting the gmail address.

It's much worse. The blog author is able to send emails through an API that appear to be from "noreply@gmail.com" with the proper headers. So instead of getting a funny little email, you get a phising email that even gmail isn't smart enough to block.

But, I mean, sure, let's act scared that some website can get my gmail. You want it? I'd be happy to give it to anyone, spam or otherwise.

3 points by subbu 3 days ago 1 reply      
Its funny that Google says "We encourage responsible disclosure of potential application security issues to security@google.com" yet they didn't reply back to this hacker who exploited the hole.
4 points by hokkos 3 days ago 1 reply      
The non automatic version of this (with a appspot domain, not considered a bug, the guy logged in) has been used to discover the true identity of a guy who claimed to reveal insider info on Twitter about the French Socialist party (left - Partie Socialiste), he is a member of the opposite party UMP (right).


7 points by eitland 3 days ago 0 replies      
Isn't google giving away money for documented security breaches?
1 point by Natsu 2 days ago 0 replies      
One way to mitigate most of these holes is to separate email from web browsing. Some people actually use two different computers or browsers, but I just make sure to log out (not just close the tab with) my email before I browse any other sites. Even sites I trust (because they could have been hit by XSS or something).
1 point by corin_ 3 days ago 2 replies      
It's clear this issue will be resolved shortly by Google (the site's already dead).

I just hope that, once fixed, the exploit is released for inspection.

1 point by mike-cardwell 3 days ago 1 reply      
Stuff like this is why I use an IMAP client instead of webmail.
2 points by mp6877 2 days ago 0 replies      
I just don't feel safe with Facebook connect. Seems like someone can get information from that as well. Don't like the whole logged in while on Facebook, to the whole internet.
0 points by acex 3 days ago 1 reply      
i also think of it as feature. or near to it. hate signing up for sites as a user and as a developer hate that chicken egg issue with users who hate to sign up. i visit the site i click send me password and site looks me up sends me new password or remainder and i log in by just typing password. this as an example.
0 points by spoiledtechie 3 days ago 0 replies      
If I was google, I would probably offer him a job...
I Quit Hacker News mattmaroon.com
245 points by cwan 12 hours ago   220 comments top 63
43 points by tptacek 10 hours ago 2 replies      
I wrote this as a reply to 'icey and it got unwieldy:

The standards for what's germane to Hacker News have gotten looser. TSA is only the most recent example. What's especially toxic about this fact is that you don't notice it until it gets really bad. That's because most of these stories have nerd-structured narratives, involving tradeoffs and logic and subtext and affordances for contrarianism, which bait commenters. Having participated in a TSA discussion (for instance), you become socially committed to the idea that they're relevant to Hacker News.

Hacker News has become much more self-referential. All due respect to 'lionhearted and 'DanielBMarkham and 'jacquesm, but there have been many stories voted to the top of the site on content that wouldn't stand had they been written by an "outsider". There's a clear name-recognition bias. That's not the author's fault (it's their blog, they should write what they want), but it does make the site feel insular.

I'll go out on a limb though and assert that insularity is something 'pg cultivates. My most recent cue on that was his encouraging response to "Offer HN".

Like it did for Matt, Hacker News has killed any desire I have to write standalone content. I haven't blogged in over a year. A book idea I was tossing around has been dead for longer. Hacker News fills the same psychological place for me that Usenet did in the 1990s, when I also didn't write a lot of standalone content. Now, for me, this is actually a good thing; I dove into HN while fleeing the "blogosphere". But I can see it being a problem for someone else.

Having said all that: I get tremendous value out of HN. I've met tons of people running startups, I've done business with some of them, I get to carry on long-running conversations with people like Patrick McKenzie and Colin Percival, I've hired several awesome people off the site, and I'm still impressed by the newcomers (for instance, go read 'carbocation's backlog of comments on biology and medicine).

Perhaps I'd like to see people a little quicker with the "flag" button; perhaps I'd like to see the site tuned so that flaggers can more easily win the race against thoughtless up-voters. And it might be nice if we could take a break from blog posts by long-time contributors; maybe we can switch to a "best-of" 'lionhearted mentality, instead of a "today's" 'lionhearted mentality.

But, while it sucks to lose Matt (he seemed like one of the more no-bullshit members of the site), I'm not as alarmed as he seems to be about the decline of HN.

22 points by pg 10 hours ago 6 replies      
The TSA stories are certainly fluff in the sense of being easy to upvote, even if the underlying principles are important. Ironically, so are posts saying that one is tired of TSA stories.

I do believe the TSA stories represent a danger. If there's a road from hacking to politics, it's probably civil liberties. So already for the past week TSA stories have had an automatic penalty applied. Or more precisly, they've been autotagged as being political, which entails a penalty.

There are no TSA stories on the frontpage at this moment. In fact, the frontpage is a pretty normal HN frontpage now.

39 points by amelim 11 hours ago replies      
It certainly does seem that HN has become increasingly more political in recent days. Yes, I can understand a post on body-scanner technology and it's applications to travel security, but do we really need to see blog posts about how person n opted out, or how person x experienced an unusual pat-down? Yes, for Americans (and non-Americans alike), these are important issues, but HN does not need to become an aggregate site for stories such as these.

There is a strong commitment by the community to prevent the site becoming like digg, reddit, or slashdot. Losing focus on the topics that brought us here in the first place (technology, startup culture, and programming) is the first step on that path in my opinion.

All I can ask is please, try not to submit/vote up stories which are not particularly related to tech. It's not what I'm interested in discussing in this particular venue.

Or maybe I'm just in the minority. I guess time will tell.

P.S. Just because you put the word "Hacker" in your article/title, doesn't mean it belongs here.

25 points by DanielBMarkham 11 hours ago 2 replies      
I agree with Matt on about 75% of these points. That's why I have severely started limiting my time here.

Probably the worst part is the time-sink and the predictable nature of the comments. Most of the time I can tell from the title what all the comments are going to be like. Anybody that tries to swim against the stream, if only a little bit, can be mercilessly punished. In fact, it's somewhat of a game to see how even-handed I can make a thread -- human hacking. Which makes it even more of a time sink.

HN has changed for me from being a site where I can hang out with fellow hackers to being a site where people I like hang out and spend too much of their time. I'm trying very hard not to make the same mistake. Hopefully I won't be joining Matt. (Lunch is over. Back to work)

22 points by johns 11 hours ago 1 reply      
I think they're all good points, though I disagree with #6. It doesn't steal comments from the source because I would never comment at the source and there's a lot of value in having conversations with people with whom you share a history and context. When patio11 comments on something, I know where he's coming from for the most part already so he can get right to the point without having to give background information I already have.
12 points by SeanLuke 11 hours ago 6 replies      
How social sites devolve.

Many social sites start with a small community of thoughtful, intelligent people because they were created by those people. Certainly this is how reddit started, and HackerNews after it. Then as the site becomes more popular, the masses (and particularly the immature masses) join up. As the masses join up they start outnumbering the founders, and the center of gravity of the site moves towards the lowest common denominator. This makes the site even more interesting to the masses, who join in greater numbers, and so on.

Current sites are on different positions on this timeline right now. At the far end is HackerNews. Reddit is more devolved -- because it's older and because of the digg debacle. Then probably comes digg. At the far end of the sewer of the masses is 4chan. But make no mistake: all these sites are gravitating towards 4chan-ness. It is unavoidable. Our only hope is that as sites slip towards oblivion, new ones take their place at the top of the hierarchy.

I suspect the #1 reason why these sites devolve is because their handles are anonymous. This gives you leave to be a jackass where you'd never do that in reality.

I have decided to test this. On reddit or digg or whatnot I have my own name as a handle for official announcements, and of course I have various anonymous accounts, including novelty accounts. I'm sure that's the case for everyone here. But on HN I solely post under my own name, and have no anonymous accounts at all. Numerous times I'd write some snarky thing on HN only to delete it at the last minute as I realized that this was going out under my real name. As a result I think my comment quality has been radically better and more thoughtful than it has been on, say, reddit.

I still think the flow is unavoidable. But I wonder if HN could at least slow the inevitable flow towards oblivion by requiring real names.

14 points by icey 11 hours ago 1 reply      
I've had high hopes for http://techstartu.ps, but it doesn't really seem to be getting much community traction.

HN has become more and more general news and less technical or startup related over the past couple of years, but the last few months have been especially bad.

It's got significantly less value for me today than it has previously... it just sucks that it's still the only game in town. Now it feels like there's a cult of personality here; that vapid, content-free submissions gather a surprisingly large number of votes. Comments have mostly stayed good, but the reddit lulziness is starting to creep in there as well.

I do think that pg has done an excellent job in making adjustments to the site as it has grown; the rating mechanism on the front page seems especially well tuned, and trolls get [dead]ed very quickly. I think this might just be a symptom of community growth & dilution.

14 points by novum 11 hours ago 0 replies      
> 4. The community is often snobbish and out of touch with how the other half lives.

I suspect this is endemic to many (most?) community sites, especially as they grow. HN is no exception.

> 5. It's a time suck. That one's self-explanatory to anyone who has used the site.

So does the rest of the Internet.

> 6. It removes comments from where they should be, on the destination site.

Many sites linked to from Hacker News, like Daring Fireball, do not support commenting. Others require user registration. Either way, I read the HN comments on an article first, every time, and I use that discussion to help me evaluate if I even want to read the source article.

> 7. It reduces blogging time.

So does the rest of the Internet.

9 points by ryanwaggoner 11 hours ago 0 replies      
Evaporative cooling...sigh. I can sympathize with some of his points here, and I've starting really limiting my time here as well, but it's disappointing to see the high-value members start to move on. It's only going to make it harder to keep quality high.


9 points by kevindication 11 hours ago 0 replies      
> 6. It removes comments from where they should be, on the destination site.

I think this is the reason Hacker News exists. The comment threads on destination sites are scattered across the Internet and do not bring any one community together. They are also often filled with some of the least desirable commentary possible. Read any of the comments on a Washington Post article, say, for an example of the rubbish that is exceeded only by Youtube commentary.

4 points by jokermatt999 11 hours ago 1 reply      
He complains about lack of downvotes on stories, but then points out how downvotes on comments are abused. Personally, I'd rather have an unworthy story be voted up and having to ignore it than miss a good story because it was unfairly downvoted. Yes, I know that theoretically, poor-quality upvoted stories can mean good-quality ones are ignored, but I think that's less of a problem than good ones being prematurely killed by downvotes.

As for the "downvotes to show disagreement" problem, it's no where near as bad here as it is every single other place I've seen with downvotes. I do see one sided upvoting fairly frequently, but it usually is because the downvoted side is not arguing their position well, not because of their position. I'd say that the reverse is more of a problem, actually (poorly worded arguments that most HNers agree with being upvoted). Overall though, most downvotes I've seen have been due to poorly thought out or worded comments and comments that don't add value rather than disagreements. If you're downvoted here, you should generally put some thought into why. Every single time I've been downvoted, I've learned something from it.

5 points by mquander 11 hours ago 1 reply      
I still don't understand why guys like this will complain about quality and then say that they don't flag anything!

Upvotes move posts up. Flags move posts down, and if you get a ton of them, it even makes the post disappear. That's all there is to it! What does it matter whether it's called a flag or a downvote?

4 points by pbiggar 10 hours ago 0 replies      
RE point 6:

> It removes comments from where they should be, on the destination site.

Each place-of-commenting is its own community. You comment on HN because you want to talk to other HN folk. Generally, each community online has a particular focus. On HN you get a startups-and-tech focus, which is very different from what you get on reddit, or the Guardian, or NYT, etc.

Finally, the quality of each community is different. Contrast HN to reddit to reddit-when-it-started to techcrunch. Part of that quality comes from the software, some from the community, part from the moderatorship.

A blog is it's own community. HN is it's own community. There should be comments on both.

5 points by philwelch 11 hours ago 0 replies      
This is a community of white collar workers who quite frequently look down on blue collar workers. I'm sorry but it's true. A TSA worker...

Who here actually looks down on truck drivers or plumbers? It's a disingenuous way of framing the issue.

2 points by BrandonM 10 hours ago 0 replies      
In the course of participating in a community or in an activity, it can be hard to avoid defining yourself in terms of that participation. "I am a Hacker News member," or "I am a poker player," become not only descriptions of what you do, but who you are. You become attached to that participation because it is part of your identity as a person. It's really easy to fall into this trap, especially if you don't have a strong sense of personal identity. I think that a lot of people, myself included, lack a real sense of self, of who we are, and we begin to define ourselves by what we do.

When you find something negative about what you're doing, or it simply disappoints you, or whatever else it might be, you end up projecting those feelings onto yourself. When the activity or community begins to frustrate you, you can either be frustrated with yourself or realize that you've grown beyond it.

Like Matt, I spent some time making a living at poker, and like Matt I have been a Hacker News member for over 3-1/2 years (I just realized that there is only one day separating our join dates). I feel like I have a pretty good idea where he is coming from. When you find that the quality of your life is being diminished by something you're doing, and you have the power to remove yourself from that activity, then it is time to do just that. I commend him for having the courage to do that.

I know people will complain about him leaving loudly. Personally, I have also tried to quit poker and Hacker News, and in times when I have a lack of direction, I find myself wandering back into old habits. Quitting loudly is a small measure to take to give people the chance to help you stick to your decision, to hold you accountable.

Good luck, Matt.

1 point by aresant 10 hours ago 0 replies      
I agree with just about all of Matt's points, but I've gotten (and continue to get) so much value out of the people here that I'm not ready to walk.

PG's recent inclusion of "average karma" seems to me a shot over the bow pushing us to recognize the importance of thinking before we speak.

It is shocking to me to see a leader board populated with low karma averages - only 1/3 of the "top" 100 members by total Kamra average over 5 (including Matt).

If there's one piece that we desperately need it's the ability to downvote, tied into average karma which is how I've measured and meter my contribution (and others) to the community.

14 points by pshapiro 11 hours ago 2 replies      
"The community is often snobbish and out of touch with how the other half lives. "

I have noticed this and unfortunately have to agree with this observation. I wonder what principle (teaching) lets hackernews people behave like that.

5 points by dminor 11 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm surprised people are so reluctant to use the flag as a downvote, since it has approximately the same effect. I make it a point to visit the 'new' page and use it liberally on TSA articles, political articles, Gruber articles, etc., as well as upvote the sorts of articles I'd like to see on HN.
2 points by ig1 10 hours ago 0 replies      
I think one of the major problems isn't that bad stuff gets voted up, but that good stuff doesn't.

The new page is sorted by time, which was fine when there were a hundred posts a day, but now during busy periods a new link is only on the new page for maybe 30 minutes.

Most of the votes a link on the new page gets seem to occur when the link is one of the top 5-10 links. So in practice a link has ten minutes to get votes or it dies. So it comes down to the handful of people who read the new page in those ten minutes (I posted a link the other day, it had ten click throughs while it was on the new page and 3 upvotes; 1 more upvote would have pushed it to the front page).

I think HN needs to switch the new page to a "rising new" page (like Reddit uses), where links that have upvotes get to stick around longer on the new page than links without upvotes.

30 points by lwhi 11 hours ago 6 replies      
Why not quit quietly?
1 point by samdk 11 hours ago 0 replies      

    In an ideal community people would up-vote arguments for adding
value to the conversation and down-vote only for detracting.

I agree in general with this point--I'd much rather have comment ranking based on comment value than how many people agree with it. However, I think a big part of the problem is that there's really no other way to 'agree' with a comment. Commenting "I agree" or something similar is (rightly) frowned upon, but the only real replacement right now is an upvote (or, if they disagree, a downvote), and people like being able to indicate their support of things.

The obvious (although maybe not best) solution would be to add another axis for comment voting that doesn't affect post ranking (or, at least, affects it much less than the current one) that tracks agreement/disagreement. I can see a couple of downsides to this, the biggest of which is that it adds a large new element to a very simple commenting system.

3 points by px 11 hours ago 0 replies      
I welcome posts like this one. I don't agree with everything stated, and frankly it may be easy to take exception to some of the points made.

Nonetheless, I find it incredibly helpful to take a critical look at the communities I am a part of and the thinking that pervades them.

1 point by tzs 10 hours ago 0 replies      
> It removes comments from where they should be, on the destination site. When you read a blog post, then click back, then comment, you've greatly reduced your chance of speaking to the author.

Commenting on the blog is close to worthless, for several reasons.

1. Most blogging software has atrocious handling of comments. Even such a basic feature as threading within the comment stream is often missing.

2. There often is not any kind of way to vote on comments so as to make it easy for people to find the good comments.

3. Bloggers are often one-hit wonders. They write one good blog post that makes it to sites like HN and Reddit, and then fade back into their normal obscurity. This makes it much less likely for a community of regular commentators to form around any particular blog. On sites like HN, one starts to recognize the frequent commentators, and see what they think on a variety of different comments.

There are often times where the comments here or on Reddit are sufficiently informative that I don't even get around to clicking through to the original article.

2 points by jbail 11 hours ago 6 replies      
I think he's just upset about the TSA articles. That point keeps coming up over and over again in his post. It weakens what he has to say.

It's clear he supports the TSA to "stop planes from getting blown up." Since the majority of HN doesn't agree with that sentiment (at least that's how he paints it), he's sort of being a baby about it and quitting because he can't handle disagreement. He masks this fact very thinly in a what is definitely a stereotypical flameout post.

Communities disagree, and they're not all perfect. Nothing new there. If there was no disagreement on HN, it'd be boring.

3 points by scorpion032 10 hours ago 0 replies      
What really happened to the downvotes?

Are they removed entirely, or the threshold is increased to beyond what I have now got (462 karma, at 3.5 average)

1 point by elblanco 10 hours ago 0 replies      
1) Yes

2) Yes, but those appear to be the actual semantics of uv/dv buttons, not the intended meaning. It's sad but true. This has it's own impact, people tend to talk about the things that people will agree with in order to get upvotes.

3) Yes a million times. The actual Apple/Google/Microsoft discussions here are a very tiny signal in a fantastic epic pile of ideological noise. These are companies we can learn a lot from by looking at their successes and mistakes, but it's virtually impossible because people have invested far too much time making their purchase of products these companies make part of their personal identities.

4) Meh, maybe. That's just the way a community like this might skew.

5) Yeah well. But I find I'm fantastically up-to-date on the technology and business concepts for this area.

6) I actually find the comments on HN and interesting meta-discussion to most everything that shows up. I typically don't care to talk with the author of something. Most of the time, the link target isn't a blog with a comments section anyways.

7) Oh well. I'm not sure blogging is that great a benefit to humanity anyways.

I'm surprised it's not over the mysterious rules that PG tweaks constantly on the site, or the slow degradation along the HN->reddit->digg->4chan path.

And common, no alternate site that he's going to?!

1 point by nkurz 11 hours ago 0 replies      
I don't agree with Matt's conclusions about the 'damage to the internet', but his comments about the problems with HN resonate. I can understand why he's leaving. I think there are solutions, though, even if no other sites have quite managed to pull it off. I think the key points are:

1) It's OK for different users to see different views of the site. Reddit moved to predefined subcommunities, but this could also be done dynamically. A single 'top page' won't cut it unless users have the ability to block and filter.

2) It's OK to partition the site. While one wants consistency, it's OK to pretend that some posts were never made. You can't have things disappearing from the middle of reply-chains, but there's really no difference between a post that's never made and a post that's not shown to everyone.

3) Not everything functions best as a one-person one-vote democracy. I'm all for the benevolent dictatorship PG and those whom he delegates his power to. While transparency is often preferable, sites like this tend to fail due to lack of use of power rather than from unchecked use.

1 point by jonmc12 10 hours ago 0 replies      
It seems like Matt is generally not a fan of online communities. In reality hacker news has not changed a whole lot in the last couple years and as far as I know is still one of the few sites with a large community and a strong bias towards intellectualism and knowledge sharing.

Matt points out that HN and other voting related sites have flaws. Frankly, thats my assumption when I use any tool, or for that matter interact with any group of people through any medium. I'm a little surprised that the author is just now reaching his threshold for the flaws in the system - he points out no new problems.

The important question is not, "what's wrong", as much as "what's better?". This post would have been much more valuable as a discussion of feasible, implementable alternatives to the observed problems rather than a post about the author's choice on how to spend his own time.

4 points by Steve0 11 hours ago 0 replies      
Might not want to know, but there is a password reset function.
3 points by johnyzee 11 hours ago 0 replies      
PG needs to take a more active role and nuke some of the world news / politics submissions. There's really no justification for having them here.
1 point by maukdaddy 11 hours ago 3 replies      
I agree with a lot of his points.

A TSA worker, to them, is not some guy without a college degree who is feeding his family, he's an amoral pawn of an evil bureaucracy that exists solely to ensure that peaceful Americans have to get their junk touched by the back of someone's hand before boarding a plane.

I got eviscerated for suggesting an alternative to berating the front-line TSA workers. To repeat, they are working hard, in a shitty job, to feed their families. They are following the rule they're given, and have no input to the process. Treating them like shit isn't the answer.

The ideology is often anti-corporate to the point of naiveté, and that's nothing compared to how anti-government it is.

This seems to be a problem in any tech community. Maybe the larger percentage of Asperger-like folks?

1 point by oemera 9 hours ago 0 replies      
I bet no-one will read this cause here are definitely to much comments but even so I will give it a try.

Part 1

I'm one of those new guys around here (to be honest I really don't know how I find out about Hacker News, maybe twitter) and maybe one of those assholes who are killing this community (if it is even possible) with it's valuable content. I just read in this blog post what I'm doing wrong here and how I'm helping those contents which don't belong at Hacker News come to the front page BUT I never knew and never wanted to do that.
I love this community and I have to say it really opened my mind about functional programming, startups, making decisions, learning from lessons and so on.
But in fact there was no-one who told me what this is all about, what news belong at Hacker News, how to comment and react right, that I should up-vote content which are valuable and not which are cool and exactly what I think about it.

In a place where are no rules people will act like there are no rules. And by rules I don't mean restrictions I mean telling people what is Hacker News and what is it about: startups, hackers, fancy geeky things, sharing thoughts ect.
By not telling this to the newer AND older (who maybe forget about it) you are supporting that Hacker News becoming more and more invaluable.
You are also supporting it if you are just opting out of this community. Come on, is it this everything you can do? To just leave and not help Hacker News become better (again)?
It's not my style and hopefully it will never become my style.

If you want to give the Hacker News community something back maybe it would be a article about Hacker News and what it is and what it is for.

Part 2

I really don't understand why people are complaining about a lack of a feature when they could write it on their own. We are all hackers and pretty good ones. So grab for example GreaseMonkey and write a freakin' down-vote button own your own. When you are finish submit it to Hacker News and I bet my balls it will become a top topic for several days and everyone will use it.
There you have it: the way a real hacker would go, right? Just do it. (No I'm not working for Nike)

Part 3

Hacker News is time consuming. Yeah thats exactly what it is BUT while it is time consuming it has a pretty good value cause you read about what people did wrong and who you can do it better on the next time and which services can turn to bad even if it was in theory really excellent.

Before I knew Hacker News I hang out on StackOverflow, some Blogs about Gadgets and so on.
Now I'm just hanging out on Hacker News and reading all those valuable content (I try to focus on the ones which are interesting and not about TSA and other US-political stuff ect).

I learned so much about programming, software architectures, startups and wrong technology decisions that I'm glad I 'wasted' my time here and not on Facebook, Gizmodo, DaringFireball, you name it.

Part 4

Everyone has to do what they love and what they feel to do. If it is hacking and to exchange your experience: you are welcome.
If Hacker News is turning to a waste of time for you? Drop it.

Last but not least

I hope I could write something which is valuable for all of you.

Note: Sorry for my bad english. I'm from Germany and so my english is sadly not my primary language. Feel free to correct me.

2 points by RKlophaus 11 hours ago 0 replies      
The attendees at Hacker News Meetups are some of the smartest, most interesting, most courteous, and most entertaining people I've met. It's true that the software running this site may need to adapt a bit, but the community itself is still thriving.

(Plug for Hacker News DC meetup group: http://www.meetup.com/JoinHNDC)

2 points by Ygor 11 hours ago 1 reply      
A little offtopic, but:

"The term “evil” (the silliest and most counterproductive word to enter tech discussions ever) is thrown about haphazardly."

Interesting observation. Haven't seen it here before. Was there some talk about this on HN?

6 points by iterationx 11 hours ago 1 reply      
He'll be back, hn has its problems but there's nowhere else to go.
2 points by manish 11 hours ago 0 replies      
Things come and go in HN, but that cannot be a primary reason to quit HN itself. Today it is TSA, yesterday it was offer hn etc. I have gained more in knowledge than what I have lost in time on HN, as long as it is that way, I am staying.
1 point by ced 7 hours ago 1 reply      
It's amazing how this post has received 233 upvotes in 4 hours, and it's not even on the front page. There's something weird with the ranking algorithm.
2 points by spudlyo 11 hours ago 1 reply      
After reading this I realize that I still vote up comments I agree with rather than comments that add value to the discussion. Why is it so hard to change your behavior in this regard?
2 points by Tichy 10 hours ago 1 reply      
So what is the next big new thing? I'd certainly like a HN that is filtered much more. Plan to experiment with machine learning, but prospects are uncertain.

How did those sites work out where news are just filtered by your friends, rather than everybody?

2 points by cwisecarver 10 hours ago 0 replies      
I like the community. I like the TSA stories. I like the lack of a downvote button. Maybe the community does too and that's why they're rising to the top.

I honestly can't think of a post from mattmaroon.com linked from hacker news that's ever taught me anything or made me think. I learned quite a lot reading the TSA articles and I've been thinking about them and the enforcement of the policies they describe.

Internet people tend to be somewhat libertarian in my experience. Not left leaning or right leaning, just protective of their liberties. This unconstitutional violation of American's civil rights fits nicely into those views. So people like it.

If you really want to see a community on it's last legs take a look at digg. It's become a cesspool of political insanity combined with NSFW top ten lists.

1 point by jodrellblank 8 hours ago 0 replies      
The community is often snobbish and out of touch with how the other half lives. This is a community of white collar workers who quite frequently look down on blue collar workers. I'm sorry but it's true.

Who cares if it's true, is it useful? Is it a useful trait for HN to have, and is it a useful complaint for you (him) to raise?

2 points by sutro 11 hours ago 1 reply      
I once quit Hacker News: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=43635

Looking forward to seeing you back soon under a new account name, Matt.

1 point by ScottBurson 10 hours ago 0 replies      
As a newcomer, I don't see the problem. There are so many interesting submissions on HN that surely no one has time to read them all (I suppose if you reflexively read them all, then you would have a problem). I appreciate the TSA-related posts as civil liberties are very important to me, but if you don't care, skip them! It's not like they're not clearly labelled.

I have spent a lot of time in the last few weeks reading the site, but I don't regret it at all -- it's been informative and inspiring.

1 point by iampims 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Genuine question: when should one refrain from posting a comment on HN? Mine aren't exceptional bits of wisdom, or unheard-of in the technology world. I haven't invented any programming language nor did I create an app which gathered 10M+ users in a matter of weeks. Should I just shut up or do we want to encourage discussion, let people make mistake so they can be taught " when there is one " the right answer?
1 point by sp4rki 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Is it just me or does his blog post only reason is to reassure himself that he's above hacker news as a community. If you want to leave because you see no value in it, then by all means leave. What does it matter if the author thinks HN sucks? I understand the need for valuation of one's actions, but really this sort of statements are just boring.

This article belongs in a tweet: "I'm fed up with Hacker News and ergo, I'm leaving it!". That's the only thing that the author really said, but really, does it even matter?

2 points by bena 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Wow, most of his Categories are some variation of "other people are stupid".
1 point by ronnier 11 hours ago 0 replies      
The site is having trouble loading. Can read it here: http://viewtext.org/article?url=http://mattmaroon.com/2010/1...
3 points by barredo 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Too much drama.
1 point by masterponomo 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Finally, I can align my HNews user name with my "street" nick.
Chaz Wannamaker
1 point by bartl 10 hours ago 0 replies      
To me, lack of upvotes is one of the better traits, as on other social sites, good stories are often downvoted into oblivion in order to make other stories look relatively better.
2 points by egometry 8 hours ago 0 replies      
189 comments (and counting) on a self-reflective post? The old chestnut about the media liking nothing more than talking about itself comes to mind.
2 points by mcgin 11 hours ago 0 replies      
Tend to agree with alot of what Matt says. It's why I don't comment often, and simply use HN as a source of news and posting anything I find myself that I think is of interest.
2 points by burgerbrain 9 hours ago 0 replies      
>the community has grown more insular and self-referential which is a problem in and of itself

Nail on the head.

2 points by smarterchild 11 hours ago 0 replies      
What if we could tag posts? Identify which ones were political, programming, etc.
0 points by devmonk 11 hours ago 0 replies      
I just changed the password to some long random string so I'd never be tempted to log in again. Lack of password recovery isn't a bug there, it's a feature.

Going to do the same thing. See ya, HN.

1 point by kungfooguru 11 hours ago 0 replies      
Wow... I haven't even noticed TSA posts here. And I thought I checked a lot!
2 points by jpa 11 hours ago 0 replies      
Can I have your stuff?
1 point by nightlifelover 9 hours ago 0 replies      
no u didn't
-2 points by jimmyjazz14 11 hours ago 1 reply      
at least its not reddit (yet).
-4 points by swankpot 11 hours ago 0 replies      
He seems to have issues with the TSA.
-2 points by antidaily 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Some valid points, but you're stilling getting this from me: http://imgur.com/F2QBM.jpg
-4 points by retube 11 hours ago 1 reply      
I guess he's not planning on applying to Y Combinator...
-4 points by kiba 11 hours ago 0 replies      

Let me know when the community is full of libertarian nutcases, rather than ideologue hating HNers.

Who is living off their startup fulltime?
238 points by webbruce 3 days ago   177 comments top 60
54 points by jasonkester 3 days ago 6 replies      
S3stat (http://www.s3stat.com) brings in enough to live on, and funded me while I was traveling last year and bootstrapping the next thing. It also has the advantage of pretty much running itself on autopilot, so I can sometimes go entire months without opening the IDE or doing anything beyond responding to the odd customer email.

I'd highly recommend building something like that (a low-maintenance income generating business) as opposed to the sort of zero income "shorten urls then tweet them from your location on your camera phone" thing that requires 14 billion users and a Google buyout before you see your first dime.

19 points by patio11 3 days ago 1 reply      

I quit my job in March, and could survive on my fairly modest revenues indefinitely. (I have done some consulting on the side in the interim, which is nice, because it means I don't have to make any hard choices like "Proceed at maximum speed on the business or go home for Christmas?")

The next product comes out at the end of November or thereabouts. I am cautiously optimistic. I haven't accepted any investment yet.

40 points by cabinguy 3 days ago 1 reply      
When I started out in 1999 my business partner and I took $1,200 and turned it into $1M (revenue) in 12 months...100% online sales. We started out buying 3 beat up laptops, fixing them and selling them. Within 6 months we were buying containers (semi-truck loads) of off-lease laptops and shipping up to 150 a day. 60-70% profit margins. We grew for a couple of years and then we ran into our first wall.

By 2003, our product commoditized and margins started shrinking fast. All of a sudden the used laptop business turned into the used VCR business. New laptops were cheap and our margins went from 60-70% to 5-10%. Our world was changing and we needed to pivot fast. We had to lay off our entire staff, sell our office building (yea, we bought our own office building) and start over...but not from scratch.

During the good times, we would always throw new ideas around. If we agreed that an idea was solid, we would build it out and let it sit on the back burner. When the time came, we were able to jump into a new project that was already setup and ready to go. We just needed to start executing.

Fast forward to today. Our website (services, subscriptions, advertising) currently does about $400k annually (up from $250k last year) with a substantial profit margin, zero debt and miles of growth in front of it. It has been WAY harder this time around, but we are building something much more substantial.

While my business partner and I whole-heartily believe we are about to enter a hockey stick phase of growth, we do have a couple of ideas built out and simmering on the back burner...just in case.

tl;dr I have been bootstrapping and making my living online since 1999.

27 points by bearwithclaws 3 days ago 5 replies      
Hacker Monthly (http://hackermonthly.com), self-sustaining so far and doing everything to keep cost really low:

- Only 1 fulltime employee (um...me) + 3 remote freelancers.

- Works from home.

- Based in Penang island (somewhere between Bangkok and Singapore with its living cost much lower than both of them).

9 points by g0atbutt 3 days ago 1 reply      
I am with my startup Codesketch (http://www.codesketch.com). We've been designing and coding apps (mostly iPhone, but some web apps too) for various companies. We are also working on some apps that we will sell directly to consumers on the App Store.

- 2 partners (one of them is me)

- 3 board member who contribute several hours a week gratis

I took some funding at the beginning, but we are now completely self-sustainable. We did this by being hungry. Our burn rate is incredibly low. Our downtown office we rent we got for next to nothing (thank God for karma). The only thing we splurged on is we bought the best tools for our employees. Getting married in 230 days also helps you to keep your foot on the gas.

It's been a lot of fun.

16 points by dangrossman 3 days ago 2 replies      
I created/run a couple web apps (http://w3counter.com http://w3roi.com and a few more). Everything is profitable and I've lived off it for the past 6 years. All bootstrapped, no outside funding.
11 points by paraschopra 2 days ago 1 reply      

I have been living full time on this since I launched paid plans in May this year. My annual revenue goal was surpassed in first two months. But to be honest, I was very scared the week paid plans were launched. Thoughts of what if I don't even make equivalent to my previous salary haunted me (I had left my full time job 2 months before launching paid plans -- so my family and friends thought I was doing nothing for 2 full months). But, it has been profitable (touch wood!) and I am very happy about it. Been approached by investors a couple of times, but the revenue generated is good enough to expand the team by itself so I don't see a reason to take any outside investment.

But before getting to this point, I had toyed with numerous ideas and coded a bulky conversion optimization platform for more than a year. http://www.wingify.com/product/tour.php Showed it to patio11 and others who all said: "you know what it has to be simple". So, redone the whole thing and that's how Visual Website Optimizer came about to be.

I have been lucky to have learnt many great lessons: what to make, how to make and how to get covered in TechCrunch even if you are bootstrapped :)

16 points by nkohari 3 days ago 2 replies      
My wife and I were living on AgileZen (http://agilezen.com) before the company was acquired earlier this year.
4 points by WillyF 2 days ago 0 replies      
One Day, One Job (http://www.onedayonejob.com/) is my startup, and it's just reached the point where it's covering all of my business and personal costs. The site, along with its sister site One Day, One Internship, help college students learn about interesting career opportunities.

Nearly 45% of this year's revenue has come from direct advertising.

Another 40% of the revenue comes from contextual job advertising which directs users to a private label job search engine.

About 10% comes from product sales (an online job search course), and the rest comes from various affiliate programs.

I've also been able to get some significant referral credits with a few online clothing retailers. That's enabled me to be well dressed, despite just scraping by for most of the year.

12 points by javery 3 days ago 2 replies      
6 points by compumike 3 days ago 1 reply      
NerdKits (http://www.nerdkits.com/). Started with roommate co-founder in senior year of college with $200 of parts, continued part-time while I still in school / doing Masters degree, and now full-time since graduation (almost a year and a half now). Profitable and a lot of fun.
10 points by endlessvoid94 3 days ago 5 replies      
ThatHigh.com pays my rent in SF.

Currently working on Djangy.com, hopefully that will "supplement" thathigh :-)

5 points by acabal 3 days ago 0 replies      
scribophile.com is paying my salary right now. Not as much as working as a developer at a big company, but enough to live, and I'm much happier :)

Completely bootstrapped. The only cash I put down was $100 for some small graphic design work, $500 for an initial Adwords campaign, and $20 for a server.

10 points by zackattack 3 days ago 3 replies      
I am living off http://www.AwesomenessReminders.com and http://www.CustomerFind.com. For AwesomenessReminders, you can use the referral code HACKERNEWS to save money.
13 points by kylebragger 3 days ago 2 replies      
Forrst (http://forrst.com/) makes more than enough to cover all costs, including some of my salary. The rest comes from a seed round I took in March.
44 points by vty0 3 days ago 1 reply      
This is probably the most motivating thread I've read on hn.
3 points by inovica 2 days ago 0 replies      
All my outgoings (including staff wages) are paid for by a number of small sites that I have run. They are quite diverse, but I love creating different things. Here's some of what we do:

www.sourceguardian.com - encryption software for PHP. Have been running this for around 10 years. This alone would be a very good 'wage' for someone

www.europeantenders.com. This provides leads for european government contracts

www.ukscrap.com. This is a referral site that we created for people who's car is 'end of life'.

www.rubyencoder.com. Similar to SourceGuardian. It's for encrypting Ruby source code. We had a need for this ourselves so created it

I run a few more also. I love the freedom that this has given me and the regular income allows me to play with what I'm interested in

Feel free to message me privately if you want any details or just some advice

3 points by toast76 3 days ago 1 reply      
http://usabilityhub.com including http://fivesecondtest.com) was originally a free app. We introduced subscriptions in August. It's now getting close to being able to support two of us full-time. At the moment, we're both still doing consultant work to fill the gaps. I would certainly think in the next 6-12 months it'll be covering both of us. We're entirely self-funded from 3 years of contracting/consulting.

If I have a tip for anyone, the consulting/startup pairing works wonderfully well....especially if you're in demand. I can turn paid work on and off as needed depending on what we're working on.

3 points by apike 3 days ago 2 replies      
We are with Steam Clock Software (http://www.steamclocksw.com/). We're self-funded from day one and were profitable within three months.

We're doing iOS apps and consulting. Finding enough consulting to pay both the bills and the cost of developing our products has been straightforward. I've been working on product #2 this morning and having a lot of fun.

13 points by heyjonboy 3 days ago 2 replies      
ParkWhiz (http://www.parkwhiz.com) is fully bootstrapped and paying full-time salaries to both founders. It took us 3 years of being ramen-profitable to get to that point, though.
2 points by crystalarchives 1 day ago 0 replies      
I'm currently floating on a pretty ridiculous niche website:

I actually started it for my then girlfriend whom I wanted to go snowboarding with me by buying a board to guilt trip her into coming along. We couldn't find a place with a lot of women's snowboards so I pulled up some datafeeds and scraped them just for the women's boards, some friends asked for the list, I got lazy emailing everybody so I made a site, threw up the affiliate links for funsies, and actually started making some money.

It's a seasonal earner which I don't recommend to anyone because my winter makes or breaks my year. It helps a lot that I don't live in the Western world anymore which reduces my cost of living, but Shanghai is getting more expensive by the day so I'm working on other revenue streams.

4 points by cullenking 3 days ago 0 replies      
http://ridewithgps.com/ is paying my "full-time" salary, which is barely ramen level. But, it's doing that right now in the off-season, off donations and a small licensing deal. Releasing premium features within the month, and negotiating a larger licensing deal right now. Then, I'll be up to spaghetti profitable :
4 points by braindead_in 3 days ago 0 replies      
I've been working on CallGraph.Biz (http://callgraph.biz) and living off it for around two years now. The work's pretty hectic though and recently I hired two contractors in Phillipines to take the load off me. Work from home, live in Bangalore, India.
1 point by btstrpthrowaway 22 hours ago 0 replies      
I started out 6-8 months ago by reading through HN and being introduced to the entire idea of bootstrapping. We had an idea that was partly technical, but mostly good marketing (e.g. closer to the idea of the parrot book: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=516215)

In fact, there are sites that sell wholesale kits for the technical part of the company.

We didn't buy a kit though and took the high road of building all our software in house using hired talent. Most of the work was done through freelancers at under a $3000 budget. (We would not do this again, the code quality on first run was incredibly low and hiring better is definitely worth it).

Getting the marketing working took another few thousands, but all said and done, we got it running with under $10k investment.

What was especially hard for bootstrapping for me was that I'm not a very technical guy. Most bootstrapping ideas here require you to be the engineer, but I didn't have the privilege of that position. I had to pull off a Derek Siver (http://sivers.org/how2hire) to get the idea to work.

Now that it is running though, it's doing great. We're pulling in over $100k of profits on an annualized basis, enough to cover living costs and more for sure.

As an aside, the roadblock we're running into now is that user demands are outstripping my current system of hiring freelancers. I've posted another thread asking for hiring help if anyone has experience: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=1932131

Anyway, it's been a really fun ride, and I want to tell everyone that it really can be done. Your idea needs to be creative, and you need to be in a space where bootstrapping is possible (e.g. NOT biotech). The biggest lesson is to have good judgment. While investors are often a burden, they add a lot of experience for real, and with bootstrapping, sometimes you're left completely on your own.

4 points by mkramlich 3 days ago 0 replies      
living off your startup: it has revenue, it's being used to cover all it's own costs, including paying you some money which you are then using for food, shelter, utilities, etc.

startup living off you: it's costs are being paid out of an account that you personally funded. it is not in the black yet.

you/startup living off investors: it's costs (including possibly paying you a "salary" of some kind) come out of an account which was funded by investors -- other people's money, not from you and not from customers

11 points by Julianhearn 3 days ago 3 replies      
Left full time employment two years, was profitable within three months, now employ three full time staff and profits into seven figures. The best move I ever made.
2 points by cloudkj 3 days ago 0 replies      
I haven't really been living off of my apps, but since I've been unemployed for the past 6 months with no other streams of income, I'll count them.

http://www.facebook.com/amznwishlist was pretty profitable up until about mid-October when Amazon decided to disable some of its Product Advertising API calls for getting Wish List data. If the app still worked and ran through the holidays, it probably would've paid for rent (and then some).

http://www.fatearthmedia.com/ - My browser extension for shopping sites is also profitable. If the Mozilla add-on policy was less strict about affiliates earnings, then it'd probably be paying for rent as well.

4 points by justinchen 3 days ago 1 reply      
Menuism (http://www.menuism.com/) - bootstrapped in 2006 and profitable for a few years now. 2 FT founders.
2 points by DJN 2 days ago 0 replies      
Bootstrapped from day 1, I'm pleased to say Trafficspaces (http://www.trafficspaces.com) is now profitable enough to sustain operations without requiring additional capital.

I've learned five lessons.

1. Charge from day 1

2. Focus on business customers (the Average Selling Price is much higher)

3. Pump all your profits back into marketing.

4. Never stop innovating.

5. Put a phone number on your site (it does wonders for trust)

2 points by ajdecon 3 days ago 0 replies      
It's not my startup (I'm an employee, not a founder), but I'll put in a shout out for R Systems, a bootstrapped startup providing high-performance computing resources. (http://www.rsystemsinc.com/
2 points by davidw 3 days ago 0 replies      
I'd be interesting to look at these by category and/or business model.

* Sells advertising.

* Sells physical goods.

* Sells a software product.

* Sells a subscription to software.

... and so on and so forth.

3 points by bemmu 3 days ago 0 replies      
http://www.coolestfriends.com until about a week ago when the "New MySpace" launched.
2 points by kaib 3 days ago 4 replies      
TinkerCAD (http://tinkercad.com). Self funded and in soon-alpha mode, 3 FT founders. Quit Google a few months ago after five great years at the place.
5 points by dpcan 3 days ago 0 replies      
Yes. Android app sales.
4 points by treitnauer 3 days ago 0 replies      
Living off iWantMyName (http://iwantmyname.com) " completely bootstrapped, enough to support 3 co-founders (including me) and we'll most likely start hiring next year. Fun times... :)
2 points by wslh 3 days ago 0 replies      
I cofounded Nektra Advanced Computing (http://www.nektra.com) in 2003. It was self-sustaining after some months (we started while we were working on different organizations, and we quit our jobs after reducing the financial risk).
We grew to 12 full time employees and found a niche that progressed to other lines of business. Our company was able to have some Fortune 500 customers and sell windows internals services to them. It was everything accomplished without a previous business network, just selling solutions via our web page.
2 points by spoiledtechie 3 days ago 0 replies      
Ramen Profitable off my several Websites. The big one that makes the most is http://utopiapimp.com (freemium), but several other websites I created are also helping out with the costs.

Others included:

4 points by jwu711 3 days ago 2 replies      
I am, but that's because our costs are incredibly low. I have a team of 3 with a monthly burn total of $1,000. We have our seed funding from i/o ventures. Company is called Skyara if you want to check it out.
1 point by hboon 23 hours ago 0 replies      
Yes, full time with iPhone apps, including SimplyTweet (app store link: http://motionobj.com/simplytweet$).
3 points by quinniep 2 days ago 1 reply      
Reachoo (http://reachoo.com) is a video classifieds website (a craigslist and youtube's baby). It also aggregates ads and distribute ads. I'm a single female founder that started and self-funded the site since early 2009 . Reachoo went from being ramen-profitable to replacing my corporate income in the past 6 months. My site is reaching 1M unique pageviews/month
3 points by jjudge 3 days ago 1 reply      
Signal (http://www.signalhq.com) supports 13 including myself, co-founded in 2006. First few years as a founder we're incredibly tough (paid others but not ourselves), but we're doing great now.
1 point by nir 2 days ago 0 replies      
http://prixfeed.com/ just makes some beer money - but it's ok for a single short PHP script..
2 points by nischalshetty 2 days ago 1 reply      
My part time app http://justunfollow.com rakes in wayyy more than my day job. I'll be doing the "obvious" in a few months time. The reason it's taking me long is the people I currently work with. They are all talented and something gives me a feeling I'll find a "co-founder" in one of my colleagues ;)
1 point by dejb 2 days ago 0 replies      
I don't think a 14 year old web business counts as a startup... but it's paying the bills. I only returned to it 4 years ago after an long um 'sabbatical'.
1 point by enjo 3 days ago 1 reply      
I am, but I'm taking my bare-minimum salary at this point (thank god for my lovely wife). We're actually doing quite well money-wise, but I just keep reinvesting everything we make.
1 point by vijaymv_in 2 days ago 0 replies      
I own staffing/ consulting firm names http://www.Sohosquaresolutions.com. We are profitable from 1st years and mostly focused on financial firms in Tristate. We have solid revenues and many people working @ client sites. The business is totally self sustainable. Only time I spend is to grow the business in recruiting new people and identifying new clients.
2 points by msacks 3 days ago 1 reply      
Making more than I did as a full-time system engineer. http://www.glasscodeinc.com based off IT services alone. Soon to invest the profits into some software for managing enterprise infrastructure and hopefully grow from there.
2 points by phishphood 3 days ago 0 replies      
I make enough with MTH Software (http://www.mthbuilt.com) to not have a full time job. My sales are seasonal in nature, so I either need to scale down living expenses or to supplement with some consulting in the summer.
1 point by callmeed 3 days ago 1 reply      
Living full time off 2 startups, but they are 6 and 2 years old so I'm not sure if they still qualify as "startups".
1 point by strooltz 3 days ago 0 replies      
While were not a "traditional" SaaS type of startup we've managed to turn bandsonabudget.com into a full time gig for myself, my partner, a full time employee, and a number of part timers. I supplement income w client development work and consulting but have been gradually phasing that out of the equation as we've grown... We have yet to take any funding and completely bootstrapped the company ourselves...
1 point by HackrNwsDesignr 3 days ago 0 replies      
Do any of the operators of the sites mentioned here need design or logo work? I'm revamping my portfolio page and wanted to offer it to hacker news entrepreneurs. My about section has my old portfolio page, I've also done some work for hacker news entrepreneurs already, so you can email me if you want to see the absolute latest.
3 points by haarts 3 days ago 0 replies      
I am, sort of. But it was a huge step back money-wise.
1 point by zingo 3 days ago 2 replies      
I think there are differences between an "aspiring startup" i.e. self-employment, small business, cooperative etc. and a startup. To me you are running a startup when you are ready to take funding that will mainly be used for growth. People can of course call their businesses whatever they want, but using a term like "seed stage startup" would be helpful for clarity.
1 point by michokest 3 days ago 0 replies      
Teambox maintains a small team of us fairly well (5 programmers, 2 people on sales and marketing). We're now relying on some more freelancers and looking at ways to handle the increasing workload.

It's been close to one year since the first people jumped in full-time besides myself, and we've been funded to get the product and early revenues on track.

1 point by whouweling 2 days ago 0 replies      
It's enormously motivating to read about all these startup stories, really gives me energy to start coding :-)

Also I find it a lot of fun to check out the different startup websites mentioned, because you know a bit of background info.

Thanks all for sharing!

2 points by Skroob 3 days ago 2 replies      
I am. I don't know if I'm technically a startup; right now it's just me doing freelance iOS development, but it's paying the bills.
1 point by speleding 2 days ago 0 replies      
Doing exceedingly well, thank you, and growing like mad still. (no funding needed, cash positive from day one)
1 point by ditojim 2 days ago 0 replies      
ditoweb.com has been paying my bills for the last couple years. we are a google apps partner/service provider with a growing staff of 16.
1 point by haploid 3 days ago 0 replies      
I am, along with my cofounder and a dozen employees.

It's been 5 years though, so I'm not sure one could easily qualify us as a startup any longer.

1 point by MoreMoschops 2 days ago 0 replies      
What doesn't count as a startup? Bill Gates is still living off his.
Obvious to you. Amazing to others. sivers.org
236 points by sahillavingia 2 days ago   52 comments top 20
59 points by AndrewDucker 2 days ago 4 replies      
This is why it annoys me when someone posts a link to some advice on HN, a bunch of commenters are talking about how they had never thought of it before and how useful it is, and then someone has to leap in saying "This stuff is old hat. Everyone has heard of this before. I thought of it myself back in 1843."

Because everyone has to learn some time, and what is obvious to one person isn't obvious to the next one. And anything which helps people realise something true is worth repeating from time to time.

24 points by philwelch 2 days ago 1 reply      
Hit songwriters, in interviews, often admit that their most successful hit song was one they thought was just stupid, even not worth recording.

A lot of times, hit songs don't have much depth to them, even if they're catchy on the surface. A musician is probably perceiving the lack of depth more than the catchiness, whereas the listeners who make it a hit song perceive the catchiness long before the lack of depth catches up to them.

14 points by xenophanes 2 days ago 2 replies      
> I'll bet even John Coltrane or Richard Feynman felt that everything they were playing or saying was pretty obvious.

No, Feynman specifically said it takes a lot of effort and top quality understanding to explain stuff well enough for it to seem obvious to others. He didn't think it was automatic.

He further thought, for example, that being a good physicist takes a lot of imagination to come up with new and different ideas. In other words, physicists have to think of non-obvious stuff.

It's weird to assume someone who had lots of new and important ideas, and who put tons of effort into being a clear explainer of ideas, would be someone to just assume their ideas are obvious.

A sibling comment discusses people who don't do their homework before writing. I think people should not talk about public figures without doing their homework -- if you don't know what someone is about just stick to the topic instead of invoking his name.

6 points by jamesjyu 1 day ago 0 replies      
Tangentially related: when you stop yourself from creating a product because, after hours of research, you find "something out there already that does it". But, if that existing site/product is so obscure that it took you hours of research to find it, then they've failed.

It may be obvious to you, because you're doing market research, but it may be totally obscure to an actual consumer looking for the solution.

2 points by seiji 2 days ago 1 reply      
Recent example: Try explaining web app session stealing (to other web developers or management) two months ago versus now. Two months ago you get blank stares or outright disbelief, but now you get "oh, to protect against firesheep? yeah, let's use SSL everywhere."

It was just as obvious two months ago as today, but now people have a one word conceptual model to use without needing to understand cookies, browser requests, proxies, broadcast domains, or cross site issues.

Obvious to us. Amazing to the normals.

4 points by rlpb 2 days ago 0 replies      
The catch is that while this might apply to some specific brilliant ideas, most ideas you might come up with are probably not new and not amazing. The risk is in your own bias of your assessment in the other direction.

Although as startups go, we know that it is all in the execution.

3 points by bobf 2 days ago 0 replies      
Additionally, things you or I may find easy are often difficult for large quantities of people who would be willing to pay for it. I've recently become more self-aware of this, after seeing lots of examples of successful companies created to solve problems I thought were easy to solve. I'm a sysadmin, so things like Git repository hosting seem easy to me, but are certainly seen as genius by GitHub's thousands of users.
3 points by jasonwilk 2 days ago 0 replies      
We thought WhiteyBoard.com was pretty obvious, but now it's killing it! It's true, you are your own hardest critic. Let your users decide for themselves whether your idea is awesome or not. Then listen to your users, because they will help you make your idea go from obvious to amazing.
4 points by xal 2 days ago 0 replies      
This is so obvious to me that I'm amazed that anyone finds this idea amazing. Pretty meta.
2 points by ntoshev 2 days ago 1 reply      
I think his advice is correct but doesn't matter in practice. People post stuff online when they learn something and when they are excited about it (some people try to keep blogs just for marketing purposes and usually it doesn't work). If you are a good writer and happen to be slightly ahead of the mainstream, your stuff gets popular. If you are far ahead or with the mainstream, or behind - then it doesn't.
2 points by Mz 2 days ago 2 replies      
Are you holding back something that seems too obvious to share?

Well, yes and no. My problem is that other people find it so "amazing" it moves it into "incredulous"/incredible...ie "I don't believe you and think you are lying" territory. :-/ Still working on figuring out how to talk about my ideas without going down in flames, being called names, yadda yadda. Phooey.

(And, yes, I still think some of it is terribly obvious and is based in part on things that are "common knowledge", so I remain somewhat baffled by the strong reactions.)

3 points by bliss 2 days ago 0 replies      
It's a fair (well trodden) point, but of course, let's not forget that often things that seem obvious to me seem that way because quite frankly they are obvious. I mean this anti-gravity machine I've got sitting here, who would want that...?
3 points by hkon 2 days ago 0 replies      
I've been thinking about this a lot after I began working as a programmer. I think my ideas are pretty obvious and simplistic.

But after reading a bunch of books and blogs over the course of a couple of years. I have come to realize that stating the obvious is pretty hard. And only a few, will think of the obvious for the many.

1 point by alexyoung 1 day ago 0 replies      
I like trying to see where things that are obvious to me aren't to my clients.

I was recently working on building a mobile app for a web service, and I suggested to my client that he could open the API and give out the documentation. He didn't understand why, so I said developers might build more apps on their platform, or make little things like widgets.

It blew his mind, but it seemed totally obvious to me, so obvious that I almost didn't suggest it.

2 points by stuartk 2 days ago 0 replies      
This is encouraging to those looking for ideas for startups, it basically means that someone will find your idea 'amazing' or 'genius'.

The trick is, not just finding 1 person, but many people who think it. And not only that it's amazing, but so amazing that they'll pay you for it.

On the plus side, this should mean that for any reasonable idea, given the size of the internet, you should be able to find at least a small bunch of people that will pay for your 'genius'.

1 point by deskamess 2 days ago 0 replies      
I suffered from this. I have a couple of ideas that I did not think much of, only to have it (or a facsimile) go IPO/public about a year later to much fanfare. I still remember my "private payments between friends" idea which came along before PayPal. The concept came about after lunches where someone would pick up the tab for someone else due to "forgot my wallet" syndrome. For me the trust barrier seemed too high - but ventures like PayPal prove that people sometimes part with information easier than I assumed. And I never imagined the size/transaction volume that PayPal would grow to - props to them.

In the end, execution is the key and it does not have to be perfect on day one. Half baked can be made 3/4 baked and so on...

2 points by malnourish 2 days ago 0 replies      
Quite a true piece, this is.
Often we feel like this, but what I find more awe-inspiring is when I feel an idea that I have come up with is great, I meet someone with a rather similar idea.
2 points by Spreadsheet 2 days ago 1 reply      
I have the exact opposite. I take a long time and much effort to come up with an idea, and then find out that it has already been found a long time ago, and it seems obvious.
0 points by rguzman 2 days ago 1 reply      
I'll bet even John Coltrane or Richard Feynman felt that everything they were playing or saying was pretty obvious.

This is probably true, yet largely irrelevant. Whether someone's ideas are obvious to them or not matters little compared to how much impact those ideas have.

1 point by marv_in 2 days ago 0 replies      
This is a great article but I do wonder if it isn't merely trying to produce more wantrepreneurs (a term I learned while lurking on HN)

I think almost everyone would feel enlightened by the title but the way the article is written, it seems it's tailored to inspire those who cannot build but would want to dream rather than those who can build but feel like the implementation of a concept is obvious enough and requires no extra polishing.

Dropbox (YC S07): Simple Tasks for Extra Space (768MB total) dropbox.com
221 points by davecardwell 1 day ago   137 comments top 31
75 points by ivankirigin 1 day ago replies      
I work at Dropbox and came up with this page. Thanks for throwing confounding variables in this soft launch experiment, Hacker News.

A few points that might interest yall:

1. We won't publish to facebook or twitter without your explicit permission.

2. We ask for information about your facebook profile because it will make Dropbox better. It's mainly about learning about our users without annoying surveys. We won't mandate facebook connect on signup so this is likely going to be the main path in the near term for people to facebook connect. Facebook auth also makes it really easy to post to facebook when you want to; the user experience is better.

3. Yes, runjake is right. Please do subscribe if you love Dropbox. I work here, so I set my capacity to 5TB and symlink everything important on my system (Desktop, Documents, etc) to Dropbox. The experience of coming to a home computer and having the stuff I was working on just appear is nothing less than magical. This is enabled by having more than a few gigs of storage.

4. If you want terabytes of storage, come work here. It is the best tech company in the valley: http://www.dropbox.com/jobs

Ask me anything.

20 points by treblig 1 day ago 0 replies      
I trust Dropbox immensely. I clicked all of those buttons without really reading the specifics.

1. I trust that they're not doing anything scummy or underhanded. My life's on Dropbox, and they're not going to do anything to reduce that level of trust.

2. If I ended up accidentally Tweeting that I love Dropbox, that wouldn't be the worst thing in the world.

This said, the messaging was very clear, and everything behaved as expected. Great work as usual, guys.

34 points by runjake 1 day ago 2 replies      
Here's a more simple task I was able to perform for 50GB of space:

1.) Sign up for a $9 50GB membership.

2.) Go through their wizard to set up a recurring $9 Paypal payment.

3.) There is no step 3.

Time spent: 3 minutes

Karma spent: You support a great company that doesn't screw you over.

7 points by jackowayed 1 day ago 2 replies      
The brilliant thing about all of the free space that Dropbox "gives away" is that most people who get it (90%? more?) don't actually use it.

I'm up to 4.9GB of free space, but I'm only using 7.6%, so I'm well under 2GB. And I would venture to guess that I'musing more space than the average free user.

So their cost isn't even the pretty-low cost of (cost to store 128MB * the number of people who do the task). It's the tiny cost of (cost to store 128MB * the number of people who do the task * percentage of those people that actually use the space).

18 points by morisy 1 day ago 2 replies      
Tell us why you love Dropbox = 128 MB.

And to think of all the time and wasted energy we spent early on trying to get user feedback. Incentives are a wonderful thing!

12 points by stevelosh 1 day ago 5 replies      
So what does "Connect your Twitter account to Dropbox" actually mean?

They're asking for read/write permission, which makes me wonder if it's going to post every time I change a file or something. No thanks.

9 points by gst 1 day ago 3 replies      
I love Dropbox from a usability point of view, but unfortunately the missing encryption is the main reason why it's not an option for me right now. I'd like to also be able to backup sensitive data, but I don't trust the Dropbox employees with access to my data.

Instead, I'm currently using Wuala which encrypts the data diretly on the client. An alternative to Wuala seems to be SpiderOak, which also features client side encryption (but I didn't try this one yet).

4 points by davecardwell 1 day ago 1 reply      
I thought this was a clever way of incentivising people to authorise Dropbox to access their Facebook and Twitter accounts.

I don't suppose I would normally have posted to my Facebook wall about Dropbox, nor my Twitter account, but now I have.

Presumably the cost to Dropbox is quite minimal (768MB extra free space in total). It's made me think about ways in which we could offer similar incentives at $dayjob.

5 points by marknutter 1 day ago 0 replies      
"I love Dropbox because I'm getting 128MB of space added to my account if I say this."
3 points by jrnkntl 1 day ago 0 replies      
Authorized, followed @dropbox, told them why I loved it, posted about it & de-authorized Twitter, easiest 512mb I made under 30 seconds.

Sidenote to Dropbox: Buy a SSL certificate that supports dropbox.com without the www.

5 points by rafamvc 1 day ago 1 reply      
I'm sorry, your settings for facebook are WAY over the top!
Common, you want to be able to access my data anytime?
What are you guys planning to do? Explain why you are asking for this. A lot of people did, I'm sure, but this is way fishy for me. I do trust dropbox (and I'm a paid user, so you have my credit card) but it is a request for access for something you do not use.

Why? Please explain!

2 points by kingkilr 1 day ago 0 replies      
Going to be another person to chime in to say Dropbox is awesome. I use it for passing podcast recordings back and forth with my cohost (while we're editing), as well as hosting and backing up arbitrary photos, HTML, and presentations. I still have plenty of free space (thanks to awesome stuff like this, and the 2x referrals for students), but when I hit my cap I'll have no qualms about paying.
2 points by dstein 1 day ago 2 replies      
If anything, Dropbox isn't thinking big enough. They really need to start thinking about how to provide a ubiquitous, multi-platform, private, cloud filesystem. Stop encouraging people to "back up" their files, and start using encouraging people to store the primary copy of all their files on Dropbox.

On Windows, Dropbox shows up as "My Documents/My Dropbox". When really "My Documents" should be the dropbox.

11 points by eps 1 day ago 1 reply      
Is this a marketing trick of some sort? I'm getting a login form and that's it.
3 points by nkassis 1 day ago 0 replies      
256mb for logging on to facebook? PFFFT that's 5Gb minimum. I'm 2 months without login in to Facebook now and this isn't enough to kill my downtime.

Increase the incentive ;p

2 points by brown9-2 1 day ago 1 reply      
Can someone who knows more about Facebook apps and their API than I do tell me what a company would want with permission to "Access my data any time" and "Access my photos and videos"?
2 points by DenisM 1 day ago 0 replies      
I just received an email from someone I barely knew, to use Dropbox. He had no business sending me this email, and by sending it on his behalf you put yourself and him in this situation where both of you engage in sending SPAM.

I stopped short of clicking the "report spam" button, but it cost you some amount of goodwill, so you lose either way. I will be a lot less likely now to genuinely recommend your app to my friends.

2 points by Luc 1 day ago 0 replies      
After authorizing with Twitter, I got redirected to an error page on the Dropbox site (Error (5xx)).
3 points by pstinnett 1 day ago 0 replies      
Not sure the exact mechanics behind it, but it's pretty awesome to see the growl notification of my space being increased almost immediately after clicking the authorization buttons on this page. Just fits right in with Dropbox being an incredible service.
1 point by simonista 1 day ago 1 reply      
Maybe it was just me, but I totally didn't "get it" at first that these were sort of steps that build on each other and should be done in order.

So it seemed really strange to me that I had to connect my twitter account before I could follow @dropbox, and the error message you get when you click on the follow one before the auth one is not very descriptive.

Otherwise, really cool offer, thanks guys.

1 point by cjoh 1 day ago 1 reply      
Seems to me that Dropbox will have a pretty good asset here a la rapleaf. If they get enough people to voluntarily give them their twitter and facebook IDs, Dropbox will have a very accurate lookup service of email|facebook|twitter -- that's something a lot of companies are after these days.
1 point by avner 1 day ago 1 reply      
I love dropbox but giving it complete access to my facebook besides all my files is pretty much handing my "social life" and my "work life" to a single company.
1 point by loyaltyspace 17 hours ago 0 replies      
The feature I need most. From the IPhone app, I would like to be able to select a file and email the file to myself or someone else - not the link to the file.
Dropbox is blocked at work but sometimes I really need to get an important file from there.
I'm a paying susbcriber. Keep up the good work!
1 point by brianobush 1 day ago 0 replies      
You guys at Dropbox rock at neat marketing gimmicks that make your users feel good about promoting the product.
1 point by daniel_iversen 1 day ago 0 replies      
A good test of a product is how many people are willing to give you a positive review to their friends/family/colleagutes/etc

Keep up the good work Dropbox, you ROCK!!

PS: Who could have thought that so much innovation could happen with something so seemingly small (an "online disk drive")

1 point by fharper1961 1 day ago 1 reply      
Maybe it would be better if you could change the message before tweeting/posting to FB. I wrote something to DB that I didn't want to tweet. So I didn't do the last 2 steps, which were presumably the most important ones. I realize that not being able to change the message, is to try and ensure that the tweet is really about loving Dropbox.
1 point by dholowiski 1 day ago 0 replies      
That is some insane viral marketing, other companies should take note!
1 point by davis_m 1 day ago 0 replies      
This let me get rid of that dangling 256MB that had been lingering since I opened the account and got the first free 256MB. That has been bothering my OCD. Now I have an even 12GB.
1 point by MikeCapone 1 day ago 0 replies      
I did all of them except the two Facebook ones. That was a bit too far for me.
1 point by evanmoran 1 day ago 0 replies      
Any word on supporting encryption? It seems like aside from partial sync it is the only big thing you guys are missing...
1 point by plainOldText 1 day ago 0 replies      
This is an amazing marketing strategy. Very simple and effective, IMHO.
Prof Gives Lecture to Prove He Knows Students Cheated; Over 200 Students Confess thoughtcatalog.com
219 points by nano81 2 days ago   143 comments top 33
99 points by gojomo 2 days ago replies      
But was it really cheating? Some students have pointed out that the professor said repeatedly that he composed the tests himself. Given that, then plausibly, using example tests from other sources would be a legitimate preparation method. (For example, the SAT doesn't penalize people for reviewing lots of practice tests, because it's assumed the actual questions during a real test will be novel.)



Now, it was probably common knowledge from prior semesters that this professor's exams were from the standard test bank. So those reviewing test bank questions may not have had pure motives in their study strategy. But it makes it less cut-and-dried, especially given that the students may have memorized (for example) 5 answers to potential questions for every 1 that happened to appear on the test. At some point, knowing all the answers to all potential questions is knowing the material... or else the whole idea of formulaic tests is bankrupt.

32 points by holdenc 2 days ago 2 replies      
What the professor knows:

- Some students had an advance copy of the test

- The grade distribution indicates cheating

What the professor doesn't know:

- Who cheated

Unless the university has access to a students network traffic proving they had access to the test, there's no way to be sure who cheated. The fact that the professor trudges through threats and vagaries for a full 15 minutes only seems to underscore this.

28 points by RiderOfGiraffes 2 days ago 0 replies      
Previous submissions of the same story from various sources. They all have some discussion:



http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=1922243 <- This has the most comments


35 points by jsolson 2 days ago 6 replies      
So, at least where I went to school (Georgia Tech) it is well known and accepted that students have word of basically every question that's ever been asked for any given course. Professors also commonly post previous exams as study guides for courses.

Is this not common elsewhere?

21 points by dschobel 2 days ago 3 replies      
You have to think that if the professor really could identify the culprits he'd be limiting the retakes to them.

Maybe the real test here is for the students to realize that there is no "forensic analysis" in the world which could identify a cheater with 100% confidence except for the confession he is trying to bully out of them.

10 points by ltjohnson 2 days ago 1 reply      
I'm a 5th year PhD student who is teaching a large (80 student) section of a course, this is the 4th course I've taught. I've also taken plenty of exams as a student, and they are still fresh in mind.

I would want to know more information before I decided the students were cheating or not. The instructor refereed to an "exam room", and gave an hour range that the new exam could be taken. So the students are not all taking the exam at the same time, this makes it seem possible that the exam is online. If the exam is online, and the students can take it at home vs take it in a proctored room, that would change what would be cheating. If it were online at home (I don't think so from the video) then reviewing the test bank while taking the exam would be cheating. If not, then having seen a question before the exam may or may not be cheating, depending on HOW you saw the question.

If you did not acquire questions in an unethical way, then it's not cheating, it's just studying. As an instructor, I will sometimes put problems from the book onto my exam. If the students worked the problems before because they were studying hard, then good for them! I want my students to study, because it will help them learn. I also provide a sample exam with previous exam questions on it; I write most of my own questions and it's important for students to get used to my style. As a student, I had to take a written exam for my PhD. When I was studying for the exam I asked Professors for help, one of my Professors gave me some of his questions. I worked out every single question. He also submitted one of his existing questions to the exam and I recognized it when I was taking the exam. Cheating? No. I just got lucky (and worked my ass off).

If test questions are acquired by malicious means, or knowing that they are going to be on the exam, or are the test bank that is going to be used to make the exam. Then it is cheating. So if students knew that the questions came from a test bank, and downloaded the test bank (I'm sure it's on the web somewhere) to gain an advantage they cheated.

Finally, as an instructor. Writing a decent exam is surprisingly hard. My goal with an exam is two-fold, figure out how well the class as a whole is doing, and separate the students into their grade groups. The ideal exam has some problems that even the D students can answer (to separate them from the F's) and some problems (usually just 1 problem) that are a stretch for the A students. And a mix of medium problems for everyone. If you have too many easy problems, the grades will creep up and you won't separate students. If you have too many hard problems, the grades will creep down and you won't separate students. Writing an exam from scratch is very time consuming. I use my private test bank, and try to add 1 or 2 new questions to the bank when I'm writing each exam. I can understand (but don't agree with) an instructor pulling entirely from an existing bank to write an exam.

4 points by Hoff 2 days ago 1 reply      
Your job as a teacher or as a presenter is to extend the available materials, and to provide me with insights that I might not gain from Googling existing materials.

Not to prevent me from accessing the available materials.

Not to control access to information.

If what I am learning from your teachings and from your tests and from other students can be entirely replaced by Googling through test banks, then you're not helping me advance.

If a presenter is reading off the slides?

If you're not utilizing what is available, whether Google or Khan Academy or iTunes classes or otherwise, you're not helping me make connections. To think. To research.

We see similar transitions arising in many human pursuits. In journalism. Booking travel. Financial markets. Programming. Music. And education. And in an earlier era of teaching, simply bringing calculators to a test.

Don't make me memorize. Make me think. Make me research.

It appears the professor has unwittingly also proved his teaching approach has failed.

8 points by ajays 2 days ago 2 replies      
The solution, of course, is to have open-book, open-notes tests. Let the students bring any notes, books, etc.; anything but a communication device.
The questions need to be novel and challenging enough so that the students who understand the material can walk out in no time; the students who don't, can sit around flipping through their notes.

Of course, this approach requires the _professor_ to do a lot more work. (The few times I taught, I used this approach and always got rave or begrudging reviews).

So really, I have no sympathy for this professor if he adopted the "security through obscurity" approach (as in, the problem set wouldn't be accessible to students). I don't blame the students for doing what they did; in real life, don't we expect employees to use whatever resources they can to solve problems?

6 points by kleinmatic 2 days ago 1 reply      
I might have missed something in the video, but if I were an innocent student, the benefit for me in falsely claiming I cheated far outweighs the risk in defending my innocence.

The choices as I see them are these, whether you're innocent or not: 1) say that you cheated, and you get to retake the test as though you never took it the first time -- you don't even fail the test! -- but you never get to ask this professor of a lecture with 600 students for a favor. 2) don't admit that you cheated, get caught in some dragnet based on pretty flawed statistical reasoning (or better yet, a witch-hunt), and "not graduate." 3) Best case scenario: You say nothing, don't get accused of anything, and you get the undying loyalty of the professor, though that loyalty fails at the first try, because it doesn't extend to you getting out of a test you by definition shouldn't have to take in the first place.

I'm a bit stunned that only 200 students "confessed."

7 points by xentronium 2 days ago 0 replies      
Scaring shit out of you since 1981.

While it is generally true that good students should not cheat, but using questions from standard question bank was somewhat asking for it :)

Nice and simple trick with distribution and disturbances, though.

4 points by pmorici 2 days ago 0 replies      
This guy seems like a crappy prof to me. He essentially got caught taking the lazy way out and is now acting surprised and trying to blame the students.
4 points by srean 2 days ago 1 reply      
I don't think it is really possible to keep a question bank secret. Some students tend to follow up with those who had taken the course last time, at least in my university. So if the question bank is voluminous enough, why not just make it open ?

Whats the worst that can happen, people might go through it and learn all the solutions. Well, let them, that's the purpose of the course anyways. But the question bank cant so small that it does not explore the full diversity of problems. And no one is claiming that all questions will be from the question-bank, throw in a few off question-bank odd-balls each year.

But how could they analyze the submissions to figure out (even approximately) who cheated who did not ? Apart from trawling their email and phone calls and wire taps that is....:-) I suspect part of the "forensics" was a bluff.

I can only guess that there are a few problems in the set that historically have a low probability of being solved correctly. So whoever solved those can be marked suspicious.
But a test will have only a few of those.

But it sure sucks to be in a course where the instructor is unaware of the problem that QB is available and you are unwilling to look up the QB. Particularly where the QB was particularly designed for the top percentile.

14 points by gsivil 2 days ago 1 reply      
5 points by rsobers 2 days ago 0 replies      
This is definitely cheating, but there's an important lesson for the professor: if you care about cheating, don't be lazy. Write your own exam questions and change them often.

You can tell that this is the most exciting event in this professor's life in the past 20 years. Maybe he should try varying his material.

2 points by brisance 2 days ago 0 replies      
Outside of the United States, there are test standards called the GC(S)E "A" and "O" levels which are roughly equivalent to entrance exams for college/senior high respectively. Because these exams have been going on for DECADES, the examining body has basically given up on guarding these questions i.e. they are regarded to be in the "public domain". Enterprising publishers have called these collections of questions the "10 year series", which are exam questions from the previous decade. There is not a single person in this part of the world who does not own a copy when preparing for those exams.
1 point by meeee 14 hours ago 0 replies      
At my university usually all tests are published by the institutes themself on the iternet. They even advice you to train with the old exams. Some of them are also open book. But every exam is individual and so different (not only numbers changed) that you really have to train all the stuff to get a positive mark.
Relying on "secret" question caches or buying questions from a third party is not very smart, lazy and really makes no sense to me. They did´nt cracked the system, they only used it for their belongings.
5 points by kapitalx 2 days ago 0 replies      
The students actually were asked to confess if they had seen the sample test before the example or not. They weren't confessing to actual cheating.
2 points by julius_geezer 2 days ago 0 replies      
A close relative teaches in a continuing-ed masters program. The first two or three times she taught the class, the grades on the midterm were OK, but reasonably distributed. This fall, they were uniformly excellent. She concluded that the students had copies of her exams from previous semesters, and rewrote the final.

As far as I know, it never occurred to her to tell the students off. Of course, these are twenty-somethings and probably a lot less susceptible to brow-beating.

1 point by johnglasgow 2 days ago 0 replies      
After being so upset with his cheating class, why does the professor offer a large time period to re-take the test? It seems like he is baiting the students to cheat again. Can't he set it during a normal class period where everyone takes it at once?
1 point by matthodan 1 day ago 0 replies      
The prof's home page states: "Important Note: I have chosen not to participate in any social networking environments." http://www.bus.ucf.edu/rquinn/
2 points by jtchang 2 days ago 0 replies      
I use to have a professor that actively encouraged us to review old tests, question banks, friends, anything we could get our hands on. Hell his tests were even open book/notes.

The tests were genuinely difficult. You could pass by looking at the material because some of the questions were just lecture examples with numbers changed. But to really ace the test you needed understanding of the material.

1 point by matthodan 1 day ago 0 replies      
It was probably more work to memorize the test bank than to study the material as normal... It's ironic that those who memorized the test bank probably know the material best.
1 point by icco 2 days ago 0 replies      
This disgusts me, but I totally believe it, as a college student seeing these kinds of numbers do not surprise me at all.

Where I go to school though, the test is given at one hour on one day. The whole you have 52 hours to take the test thing. It seems like whoever takes it first could still help others study.

2 points by delinquentme 2 days ago 0 replies      
Im sorry but this is the education system FAILING its students.
1. fear mongering by the prof " FORENSICE ANALYSIS" and "LEGAL ACTION"
2. the SAME test for the last FIVE years?
3. some crap sob story about "what were the last 20 years about" ... how about you being a lazy ass professor?
1 point by moo 2 days ago 0 replies      
Students repeat courses, audit courses. Students can be exposed to these canned test questions in this way. Universities push the general learning experience in selling their education product. Those who want to make the student the commodity and control how they learn for better quality control strike me as dyed in the wool bureaucrats.
5 points by cool-RR 2 days ago 1 reply      
What a petty man.
0 points by runningdogx 1 day ago 0 replies      
Here's the video of a part of the first lecture in which he claims he writes the test questions:


Based on that, I think a reasonable student would conclude that even if a publisher's test bank is not supposed to be accessible to students, using that test bank would not constitute cheating. Since the prof wasn't forthright in stating that he would use the publisher's test bank, he has no right to complain that students used it to study.

1 point by ccomputinggeek 2 days ago 0 replies      
For most courses the exams don't stray far from what's already been asked before. Competition between universities has made this problem a lot worse. Students choose courses with high pass rates and favorable grade ratios.
1 point by reason 2 days ago 0 replies      
The entire education system is essentially one big game, from the obscure admissions process to professors sticking to predetermined grading distributions; and these students are simply playing along.
2 points by CallMeV 2 days ago 0 replies      
I just wish I could plusvote this one twice.
1 point by sequoia 1 day ago 0 replies      
"The consequences will never be the same!" ;)
1 point by miurajose 2 days ago 1 reply      
Those who cheated because they did not know the material will not do as well on the makeup. That is one way of finding out who cheated.
-3 points by ghshephard 2 days ago 2 replies      
A Vegan No More voraciouseats.com
205 points by abraham 1 day ago   254 comments top 33
58 points by dasil003 1 day ago replies      
I'm all for radicalism since radicals are the main force questioning conventional wisdom. But the size of the vegan movement is totally out of proportion to its veracity.

Take the whole "meat is murder" slogan. It's ridiculous from the outset and completely ignores our existence within the earth's ecosystem. I mean industrialized animal farming is fairly horrific, but the way to stop that is by advocating and paying the premium for more sustainably raised meat. Opting out of meat entirely does nothing to change the industry, because most people will always eat some meat if they can afford it.

Meanwhile, as vegans focus on the elimination of meat from our diets, they practically ignore the industrialized food that wreaks direct reproducible havoc on our metabolisms causing epidemic obesity and diabetes. Consider the effect of refined and reconstituted carbohydrates made from federally subsidized crops that make the most devastatingly unhealthy food items also the cheapest. Just the effects of soda pop alone are worthy of an international movement.

24 points by mmaunder 1 day ago 2 replies      
I eat meat, I fish and I've hunted. My wife has been a vegetarian for 20 years, since age 19. By vegetarian I mean she eats eggs and drinks milk, but doesn't eat meat of any kind.

It's outright weird how the author swings from one extreme to the other, both emotionally and nutritionally. Why not try adding eggs, milk, cheese and full-cream yoghurt to your diet first? Or even add shellfish or chicken once or twice a week?

She seems to swing from the most militant form of vegetarianism to maniacal flesh gorging with an indictment of the vegan community to boot.

The range of diets that incorporate or exclude meat or animal byproducts is wide as is the impact each variation has on our environment. A productive approach would be to find a meat-veggie balance that works for your nutritional needs and then spend the time to find environmentally friendly and humane sources of the ingredients you need.

28 points by jacquesm 1 day ago 3 replies      
It's interesting how strong peer pressure is in groups like vegans to continue to press someone in to a lifestyle that clearly is not to their best interest.

It reminds me of religious cults, and other 'us or them' styled groups.

Very scary.

16 points by davidmathers 23 hours ago 1 reply      
This post has some great lines in it:

* As a revolutionary feminist and anti-imperialist, veganism seemed to be yet another way I could fight the injustices we are facing.

* Capitalism has turned food, and especially grains, into a commodity, a weapon of war, and a way to make a profit, instead of the inalienable right it should be. The way to prevent hunger is not to feed the starving masses the food we currently feed to animals (excess food production and the resulting food dumping is one of the causes of hunger in the first place), but for the chronically hungry people to throw off the shackles of neo-imperialism and to gain back control of their local food systems.

* It was shocking to realize I had been expounding on the need to transform agriculture and farming without even knowing the bare minimum of what it takes to keep an ecosystem healthy.

Really? Was it really shocking? Really? I feel like I'm in a missing scene from Monty Python's Life of Brian.

On the other hand her 3 paragraphs about the 3 kinds of bad people (the frauds, the foolish know-it-alls, and the evidence deniers) sparked instant recognition and made me realize that those are the exact people that irritate me more than just about anyone else in this world.

7 points by tomstuart 21 hours ago 2 replies      
Look, veganism is a preference, not a religion.

For me, the salient facts are that eating animals and animal products is a) ethically questionable and b) avoidable.

But it's just a choice. If I go round someone's house and they've cooked me an otherwise vegan meal but put cheese on top, I'm not going to be a dick about it, I'm going to eat it. Food isn't magic. Maybe this makes me not really vegan, or a "bad vegan" or whatever, but I don't know or care what the rules are. I don't even know any other vegans. It's nobody else's business.

I know it's a privilege to be affluent and healthy enough to be able to be selective about what I eat, but I choose to exercise that privilege, just as I choose to exercise other counter-evolutionary privileges like using contraception and not murdering people who annoy me.

Could I do more? Could I be a better person? Certainly. Always. But doing this much is so easy that it's a no-brainer, so that's how much I do. Maybe I'll do better tomorrow.

I feel kind of shocked and alienated by how aggressively negative some of the posters here are being about that choice.

6 points by gfunk911 1 day ago 1 reply      
It sounds like she was getting very little fat and protein in her diet. When you demonize fat, and don't eat much protein, you have no choice but to fill the void with carbs, if you can fulfill your csloric needs at all

Also, Leafy vegetables are wonderful sources of nutrients, but terrible sources of calories. It seems like she was trying to fill her caloric needs with leafy vegetables, which simply isn't going to work.

22 points by dejb 1 day ago replies      
> I never expected this post to get so much attention.

There is nothing more popular than an anecdote that appeals to people's pre-existing biases. Unfortunately there will be many for which this one story will provide the same weight of evidence as the entire China Study.

5 points by RyanMcGreal 17 hours ago 0 replies      
I was never a vegan, but I was a pretty strict vegetarian for about ten years. I started to rethink it when my doctor told me I was seriously deficient in iron, B12 and folic acid.

The first time I ate meat again, a lamb shawarma, it was freaking delicious. I felt my body scream "YES!" Now I incorporate some non-industrial, locally sourced meat, cheese and eggs into a predominantly plant-based diet, and it seems to be working well for my overall health.

Unfortunately a bread bar (exactly what it sounds like) operated by a Slow Food chef recently opened near my house, and I find myself eating altogether too much fresh baked bread.

12 points by shaunxcode 23 hours ago 0 replies      
It is impossible for me to say this person is "wrong" but I figure I may as well throw my data points into the graph - I've been vegan for 11 years and I am more healthy on every level than I've ever been. I went vegan in my late teens when I was done growing, my younger brother went vegan at 12 a year after me and is now taller/broader than me. I know many people who have been vegan over 20 years who are in great health.

Obviously that doesn't just apply to vegans but regardless, the secret is this: you have to hack your diet! You have to learn about nutrition in general and then in relation to YOUR body and experience. There is no silver bullet and I am glad there isn't: life should be a constant practice of critical thinking and mindfulness. "Practicing" veganism is a great way to constantly engage with the world in an active manner.

4 points by erikpukinskis 23 hours ago 1 reply      
For what it's worth, I don't think of people who eat diets supposedly free of animal products as "vegan". I think of them as "fundamentalist". To me, veganism is about creating a culture where we don't abuse animals. It happens that part of that work for me involves mostly not eating meat. But sometimes eating meat is exactly what I need to do.

Eating meat, in specific ways, can be a way to connect with people, a way to nourish myself... there are lots of ways in which eating meat can lead directly or indirectly to my helping to lessen animal abuse.

And I think that's profoundly vegan. I think the OP feels the same way, but she's apparently not as comfortable hijacking the word "vegan" as I am.

The way she uses the word, and the way most people use the word, makes it useful only to marginalize people. What a waste of a word. I'd use it to inspire people.

Like the mormon who might occasionally share a beer with their sister, in the spirit of love and family and togetherness (important mormon values)... a vegan can eat meat. These labels do not have to be so cut and dry.

4 points by sh1mmer 21 hours ago 2 replies      
Reposting my thoughts from Reddit:

As a vegan I'm sad on two fronts.

a) That some vegans see the need to attack someone in this way.

I know some vegans consider (including myself) see it as a deeply moral issue. However, I'd rather be like Ghandi than a fundamentalist. First and foremost, we can't help how we are made. I can't understand how it is immoral to care for oneself first. That said I personally haven't suffered adverse health (quite the reverse).

b) The fact that my choice for me causes some people to want to knock me down.

Time and time again, I find my veganism attacked by people who aren't vegan. Whether they make a joke of waving their meat meals in my face, or attack my moral/ethical/dietary stance. It seems like a lot of people who are omnivorous either feel guilty about it or simply don't like the idea that I have chosen a moral stance stricter than their own. I find it disappointing, both in the title and the comments of this thread that people seem to want to take me down a peg for my beliefs.

10 points by autarch 1 day ago 2 replies      
Ginny Messina, who is a dietitian and actually has some qualifications to talk about this stuff, wrote a great response to this blog post - http://www.theveganrd.com/2010/11/do-ex-vegans%E2%80%99-stor...
5 points by gxti 23 hours ago 1 reply      
This is a perfect example of why one must use the utmost caution in allowing a choice to become part of one's identity. When the time comes for that belief to be challenged you will fight not because it is true, but because it is perceived as an attack on the self. You will ignore reason and fight to save that piece of yourself from annihilation like a feral animal cornered by a predator.

You are not a vegan. You are not an atheist. You are not the car you drive or the contents of your wallet. You are a human being, and nothing that is within your power to change should be exempt from introspection.

5 points by jules 18 hours ago 0 replies      
> As a feminist, this body-hating rhetoric infuriated me. The willing participation in the denial and degradation of my bodily needs smacked of misogyny, patriarchal control and violence against the female body, and everything that I fight against.

Huh? So somebody who willingly does not eat animal products despite the health issues is misogynistic? What does this have to do with sexes?

> I refuse to play the game that so many women (vegan or not) are forced to play by our violently woman hating society; I will never feel shame or guilt for eating what my body wants and needs to be healthy.

It seems like veganism is not her only problem...

5 points by kadavy 1 day ago 4 replies      
I've never been a vegetarian, but I used to eat very little meat.

The one mineral I rarely hear about when talking about a vegetarian or vegan diet is Zinc. It is nearly impossible to get enough Zinc without eating animal products. You can either eat nearly 3 pounds of peas, or little more than .5 ounces of canned oysters to get enough Zinc in your diet. Being low on Zinc weakens your immune system, and your libido, so yeah - it's important.

YMMV, but I am feeling much better now that I've made it a point to eat more (local, organically-raised) meat.

5 points by crazydiamond 1 day ago 0 replies      
Perhaps those who eat meat should slowly introduce vegetarianism into their diet (if they wish to) rather than going vegan straight.

I turned veg about 15 years back (but still ate an egg). My haemoglobin count actually went up by a point (a year later). About 5 years ago, i gave up eggs too. A year later my Haemo was up by another half point.

I do have a small amount of milk in tea/coffee. In India, there are millions of vegetarians who live without health problems. Veganism seems a little extreme to us.

1 point by kwantam 13 hours ago 1 reply      
I was glad to see the food miles metric[1] tangentially mentioned in this post (when she talked about importing exotic foods to keep herself healthy). This is a notion that, in my opinion, doesn't get enough attention: it doesn't matter how great the farming practices are if the food is then shipped three thousand miles to my door. (Yes, the food miles notion is imperfect, but it's at least a reasonable first-order approximation of the environmental impact of your food.)

Besides being fun, one of the best things about hunting is that you can directly observe the cost of transporting and processing food from animal to table. On top of that, the animal I hunt most frequently (feral hog) is a depredating pest in most of the southeastern US, doing substantial damage to farm and ranch land. Most of my hunting is done on land where cows are pastured, and I'm only happy to help reduce the population of hogs, protect the grazing lands, and get a little meat out of the deal.

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Food_miles

5 points by robryan 1 day ago 1 reply      
Hmm, in the same way that this girl strongly was able to have a strong moral stance for being a vegan before she has also been able to justify a strong moral stance against it, pointing to large scale farming now as the enemy.

I'm all for the overall feeling but it does show that people can very easy justify contradictory stances at different times.

2 points by techiferous 16 hours ago 0 replies      
Another data point: I've been vegan for five years and haven't noticed any related health problems and I have a friend who has been vegan for 30+ years without any related health problems.

Whatever your position on the subject, it's important to approach this matter with objectivity, logic, openness, sensitivity and lots of data. :)

1 point by Sidnicious 11 hours ago 0 replies      
> In the span of just a few days I received an outpouring of emails from fellow ‘vegan' bloggers, who told me in confidence that they weren't really vegan ‘behind the scenes'.

> I even received emails from two very prominent and well respected members of the vegan AR community. One a published and much loved vegan cook book author, the other a noted animal rights blogger, their emails detailed their health struggles and eventual unpublicized return to eating meat.

This pisses me off the most, and what makes veganism look like a religion to me. You learn much more from being wrong, and talking about being wrong, than from standing by a point of view because it's popular.

2 points by araneae 1 day ago 2 replies      
That was kind of eye-opening.

Not because it shows how bullshit veganism is; I knew that already.

But because it reminds me of this friend I have, who is always complaining that she feels tired and weak. She goes to the doctor at least monthly, who diagnosis her with some new deficiency. She's always taking some new pill or food type.

I always thought she was a hypochondriac. But it just occurred to me that she might not be, because she's a vegetarian.

4 points by MikeCapone 23 hours ago 0 replies      
Personally, I can't wait until we grow meat without having to kill animals who can feel pain, distress, etc, to get it. It won't come one day too soon.
3 points by linuxhansl 21 hours ago 0 replies      
I went to a 10 day meditation retreat a few years ago. As you can imagine I met a lot of interesting people there.

One guy actually was a body builder and vegetarian. He told me that he had problems with being anemic as well. So his doctor told him to have a steak once a month, which helped him a lot.

There is a reason why we can chew and digest both plants and animal products and meat.

While personally I lean towards a vegetarian diet (for reasons of health, morality, and sustainability) any such bias has to be paired with "wisdom".

Generally if we know how to listen our bodies will let us know what they need. I mostly eat whatever I want, whenever I want it. It somehow naturally ends up being mostly vegetarian, with diary product, and occasionally meats and (yes) some candy.

Edit: I do avoid all low fat products and products with sugar replacements.

2 points by loca 20 hours ago 1 reply      
Reminded me of a comment by Linus Torvalds [1]:

Meat is kind of important to people. Young kids in particular need a lot of varied nutrients, and a balanced diet - with meat - is likely to be way healthier than the alternatives.

Quite frankly, being vegetarian is like being religious: you should let the kid decide on his/her own when they are grown up and can make that choice on their own. Plus by then they've done most of their development, so your choice won't mess them up for the rest of their lives.

Humans are designed to be omnivores. Don't play games with your kids nutrition.

Eating meat is not at all unnatural. It's generally considered to be one of the main reasons humans could afford to evolve a larger brain - because meat is denser in nutrients than vegetarian diets.

Yes, you can do a healthy vegetarian diet (and even a vegan one, although at that point you really are crazy - there's no substitute for milk), but it is certainly not at all a trivial matter. It's much saner to just say "eating meat is natural".

Once you're fully grown, it's a different matter.

Quite frankly, anybody who tells their kids to "don't eat meat" is kind of crazy. You're much better off telling them to not drink sodas, avoid overly processed foods etc.

And yeah, I care a hell of a lot more about my kids health than I care about cows or even pigs. Deal with it.

[1] http://torvalds-family.blogspot.com/2010/05/pig-lovers-oath....

1 point by alecco 18 hours ago 1 reply      

  When the doctor first told me that I had numerous vitamin and mineral
deficiencies, that I was almost anemic, and my B12 was so low she
wanted to give me an injection immediately, I refused to believe her.

That's poor diet. Vegan or not. B12 is made by bacteria (not animals or plants) and industrial meat is full of it because we feed livestock with putrified waste foods while industrialized vegetables are unnaturally clean with chemicals. Organic vegetables have enough B12.

Also modern diet has anti-nutrients preventing absorption (like coffee and iron.)

The broad generalizations from reactionaries like political vegans and their anti-vegan counterparts disgust me. Both groups are completely uninformed and stubborn. For them it's about confirmation bias and group think.

1 point by lwhi 15 hours ago 1 reply      
I think this a case of the 'tail wagging the dog'.

The author decided she wanted to be vegan for (possibly) superficial reasons.

She then found she couldn't be vegan for health reasons, but rather than take a step back and hold on to some of the principles she claimed to have (and become an ovo-lacto vegetarian; and see if that worked) .. cognitive dissonance came into play and she shifted her entire world-view around to suit her new choice of meat-based diet.

I imagine it must have been difficult to make the choice - but there's something about the subsequent rationalisation (and justification) that makes me feel uncomfortable.

1 point by chipsy 1 day ago 0 replies      
I do know, anecdotally, of someone who is literally unable to eat meat(causes digestive problems). A rare case, and I'm pretty sure ovo-lacto vegetarianism is still OK. For my part I'm definitely one of the meat-eating types, though I have my limits.

A bit more OT diet-related: As the months have grown colder I recently noticed a dangerous binge-type craving for sweet stuff. So I decided I would go low-carb and high-fat for a few days leading up to Thanksgiving just to see if it could change my appetite. It's made a very obvious difference. One daily Starbucks venti breve latte just obliterates the problem, though it's a bit hard to digest and tiresome to drink.

2 points by pyre 22 hours ago 0 replies      
There's a (somewhat) rebuttal to this here: http://www.theveganrd.com/2010/11/do-ex-vegans%E2%80%99-stor...
1 point by manish 22 hours ago 3 replies      
I simply can't understand why eating meat is wrong, when eating plant is not wrong. I feel they are same.
1 point by preek 20 hours ago 0 replies      
Considering how this submission got voted and how the discourse is going, this is a good example of how powerful the USA are.

I wonder how the discourse will continue now that it's dark night in the USA and the day is starting for Europe and India.

1 point by scottshapiro 1 day ago 0 replies      
I know that the lipid hypothesis is completely fallacious, these animal foods won't hurt me or cause me ill health in anyway, in fact, the vitamins and minerals they provide, along with the nutritious cholesterol and wholesome saturated fat, will restore my health.

Great to hear that she sees the forest from the trees.

2 points by burgerbrain 1 day ago 1 reply      
"You once were a ve-gone, now you will be-gone."

--Scott Pilgrim vs The World

-2 points by Void_ 21 hours ago 0 replies      
It's normal to eat meat. People who don't, look kinda sick, you can tell.
Demo: Pure CSS GUI icons, no images (experimental). nicolasgallagher.com
201 points by bjonathan 4 days ago   65 comments top 15
29 points by marknutter 4 days ago 7 replies      
Anyone else getting sick of seeing "you should follow me on Twitter" everywhere?
28 points by mynameisraj 4 days ago 3 replies      
Now, I realize this is a demo, but aside from that, I really don't think things like this should be used in a final product.

Why? CSS wasn't made for this. We have SVG for graphics like this. This is a demo, yes, and it's great to demonstrate the capabilities of CSS for making small graphics, but in practicality, I don't see the point. The key problem is graceful degrading- there simply is none here.

Regardless, I love seeing things like this, and he's done a good job. Good work.

3 points by pak 4 days ago 2 replies      
Ugh, too clever for my taste. I would hate to edit icons that are a mish-mash of CSS backgrounds, rotated boxes, and border-radius'ed edges, and to boot, based entirely on pseudo-elements. (Current web dev tools like Web Inspector in Chrome/Safari, etc. aren't well built for examining pseudo-elements.) This CSS uses ~3-4 pseudo-elements per icon. It's clever for doing that to preserve the markup and avoiding JS, but it's hard to understand. Maybe it would help to comment the CSS so designers can see that "this is the handle of the trash can, this is the left side of the heart," etc., since :after and :before are hacked far beyond having any semantic meaning.
6 points by equark 4 days ago 0 replies      
For monochrome icons, using font-face seems like a better idea than CSS. You get a ton of icons in one cacheable packet and can easily change the color, drop-shadow, opacity, etc using standard css.


4 points by Sephr 4 days ago 1 reply      
The ideal solution (neither SVG or CSS) should be to use appropriate Unicode characters, of which there are very useful ones added in Unicode 6.0. The very first icon, "search", can be done with U+1F50D LEFT-POINTING MAGNIFYING GLASS. Of course most users will not have appropriate fonts installed for comprehensive Unicode 6.0 coverage, so you should deploy a custom font using @font-face that suits your site. For example, the search box on my personal website uses LEFT-POINTING MAGNIFYING GLASS and a custom font I made that defines a simple magnifying glass much like the one in this demo.
5 points by Maro 4 days ago 3 replies      
What are the pros/cons of using CSS instead of images?
2 points by bryanh 4 days ago 1 reply      
Reminds me of: http://somerandomdude.com/projects/iconic/, a set of icons done in @fontface.
4 points by chrisbroadfoot 4 days ago 0 replies      
Wow, a really nice experiment. I'm surprised you created so many.
2 points by samratjp 3 days ago 0 replies      
That's cool. If you're a Raphael js fan, this is even cooler - http://raphaeljs.com/icons/
2 points by kellysutton 4 days ago 1 reply      
We use a pretty nifty technique that isn't CSS for rendering icons on the blip.tv HTML5 player. Depending on the context, we use a <canvas> tag to display either the vectorized or rasterized version of the icon. For the player itself, not a single image request is required for the thing to draw. And we don't run into the nasty anti-aliasing stuff you see with small icons and <canvas>.
1 point by mxavier 4 days ago 0 replies      
It's interesting to see these icons and actually recognize what sites already use them. For example, I believe OKCupid uses several of these icons in their GUI such as the report flag, edit, views, etc.
1 point by slowpoison 4 days ago 0 replies      
Great! This is a fun visual test for verifying browser's CSS transform functions.
1 point by lovamova 4 days ago 0 replies      
1 point by kang 3 days ago 0 replies      
This has no practical use. This is geeky. I love it!
1 point by eiji 4 days ago 0 replies      
However, "Help" and "Warning" need another iteration ...
Hacker's Guide to Tea worldoftea.org
198 points by tony584 13 hours ago   99 comments top 38
13 points by jasonfried 11 hours ago 3 replies      
A wonderful place to get high quality greens:

The best hot water kettle w/ temperature control I've found is:

I've tried every kettle and this one is the best. It's all stainless inside too - water never touches plastic.

7 points by mrkurt 12 hours ago 4 replies      
If you'd like to start drinking tea, I heartily recommend the Adagio IngenuiTEA and sample kit to get started. It's dead simple to use and clean, and their teas are really reasonably priced: http://www.adagio.com/gifts/holiday_ingenuiTEA.html?SID=094a...

I'm a giant fan of their Spiced Green and Gunpowder green varieties.

Incidentally, if you're anywhere near Chicago they have a retail store in Naperville where they'll brew up any of their teas for you to try. It's fun.

9 points by arethuza 12 hours ago 2 replies      
This is a better guide to tea drinking, at least the British way of tea drinking:


3 points by DanielBMarkham 11 hours ago 1 reply      
I'm off the tea habit now, but the best investment I made was getting a variable-temperature water kettle. Just set the temp and let it worry about getting it right. Plus it keeps the water at that temp all day long -- no screwing around with pots and kettles and such for your third cup.

I also took a great liking to white tea: expensive but worth it (in my opinion). At first I really liked the heavier oxidized teas, but I found that my tastes went greener and greener the more I experimented.

Drinking tea is a wonderful habit, and it's good for you too. I had to quit for a while because of the caffeine. While less than coffee, I found it still messed up my system.

3 points by pigbucket 8 hours ago 0 replies      
The true principles of tea-drinking were enumerated (there are eleven) and explicated in antiquity (defined as the golden time before my birth) by renowned tea expert George Orwell. I can personally attest to the veracity of Mr. Orwell's first principle; namely, that one ought to drink only Indian or Ceylonese tea, on the grounds that "one does not feel wiser, braver, or more optimistic after drinking" the Chinese variety. (It was after a nice cup of uplifting Indian tea that Orwell bravely and wisely wrote the optimistic 1984.)


4 points by sbierwagen 8 hours ago 0 replies      
Maybe it's just me, but maybe a "hacker's guide" to tea shouldn't contain wild speculation on the health benefits of matcha.

And since everyone seems to be dropping recommendations for tea shops, then I'll say I get my tea from Marketspice in Seattle, though you have to fight your way through swarms of tourists to get there.

4 points by oscilloscope 7 hours ago 2 replies      
I tried to start a tea shop/hacker space in SF which failed spectacularly a few months ago. Everyone, don't do retail!

Finding decent tea can be a challenge. Here are a few places to start looking for tea online, and in SF:

http://www.teaspring.com/ -- Chinese Tea.

http://www.redblossomtea.com/ -- Chinese Tea from SF. Fantastic oolong and Dragonwell. Check out their location next time you're in Chinatown.

http://www.runa.org/ -- Guayusa, related to Yerba Mate. The kids building this company are true hackers!

http://www.omshantea.com/ -- A cool tea house in SF (mission). Learn about Pu-erh and Jiaogulan here.

http://www.yunnansourcing.com -- A place to try your luck and buy Pu-erh.

http://www.itoen.com/estore/index.cfm -- Sencha, Gyokuru, Matcha. A solid selection of Japanese Greens.

These places have great herb selections, and will make you realize how much you're overpaying for mid-grade tea:

I also love Korean tea, but don't have a good recommendation on where to get it.

2 points by jasonjei 10 hours ago 1 reply      
If you're a tea person like me and you've read Lu Yu's Tea Classics (茶") before, you'll appreciate good tea.

The one that I usually purchase is from Japan--and it is now orderable online, including to overseas addresses. The tea purveyor is IPPODO (一保堂) and their gyokuro (玉露) is some of the best. IPPODO has been around since 1717, so they are likely to have a good idea, especially since they have supplied tea to the Japanese king.

Gyokuro is a pleasant tea because its flavors are so subtle that it's not like any green tea you've had. Theirs is very light yet sweet and full-bodied. IPPODO's gyokuro, in particularly their Below Heaven tea (天下一) or Tenka-ichi, has a savory flavor that almost tastes a bit like nori.


1 point by latch 3 hours ago 1 reply      
Caffeine is very soluble. You can quickly decaffenate tea by "rinsing" it, or more accurately, throwing away the first, short, steeping.

In other words, if you want to remove the caffeine, leave your teabag in 1/2 a cup of water for 30-60 seconds, dump out the water and then you are good to go.

3 points by steveklabnik 8 hours ago 0 replies      
My group tends to drink yerba maté: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yerba_maté
4 points by Throlkim 11 hours ago 1 reply      
Being in the UK, I typically enjoy a substantial amount of tea during the day. None of that poncy herbal tea though - stricly strong white tea.

The British Armed Forces are supplied with a particular brand of tea from NAAFI (http://www.ringtons.co.uk/shop/tea/naafi-tea), which is now available to the public too. I had it described to me by an ex-forces friend that 'it's a tea to clean your gun with', but I actually find it to be one of the heartiest and warming drinks I've had.

3 points by samd 11 hours ago 2 replies      
Try adding a few crushed cardamom pods to a pot of black tea, they add a fantastic flavor. Milk is of course required.
2 points by aplusbi 11 hours ago 2 replies      
>If you are drinking something that did not come from this plant (chamomile, mint, tulsi, rooibos, etc) it is not tea).

I hear this every once in awhile and at best it's pedantic and at worst it's just wrong. What do you call chamomile tea? An infusion? Even if it is technically wrong everybody calls infusions "tea" and I think it's safe to argue that the word has evolved beyond the original meaning.

3 points by akaalias 11 hours ago 2 replies      
Hm, I have to disagree with the steeping chart for green tea (after having been doing it that way for 12 years).

Recently, I got some medium/high quality Sencha at my favorite place Ten Ren down in Chinatown.

Lessons learned from their main man:

0. Never use boiling water, but instead around 80-85 degree Celsius (okay, that seems to be common sense)
1. If the quality of the tea is so-so, discharge the first steep after 1-2 seconds. High-grade tea needs no cleaning. This step gets rid of the dust and ensures a clear color.
2. First steeping for maximum 1 minute 30 seconds.
3. Second steeping for only about 40 (!) seconds.
4. Third steeping for about 50 seconds.

2 points by KingOfB 12 hours ago 3 replies      
Neat article. For those like me that struggle getting 170 degree water for green tea, I found a good trick which is to just put an ice cube on top of the tea, and pour the hot water on top of that. That prevents singeing the leaves that can kill a nice cup of green tea. I find it a lot more reproducible than 'waiting longer than a minute'.
2 points by kadavy 10 hours ago 0 replies      
If you're interested in the focusing-increasing benefits of L-Theanine, Gyokuro, Matcha, and Silver Needle are all good teas to drink.

I get my Gyokuro & Matcha from http://hibiki-an.com/

Silver Needle I had a harder time finding, but I got them from http://chicagoteagarden.com/, the tea shop of the OP.

Incidentally, they're both delicious.

2 points by deutronium 11 hours ago 0 replies      
If you ever go to Japan make sure to try Matcha, it consists of very finely ground green tea leaves.

And seems to be very difficult to prepare! I brought some back to the UK, that I'll have to try out soon :)


One other thing I found pretty cool, in a Cafe, they would bring a sand timer, to tell you when the tea in the teapot had brewed.

2 points by ErrantX 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Does anyone know a good UK (or EU) based tea supplier?
1 point by Perceval 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Here's a good short piece on tea drinking from the Obsessives series by Chow.com: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F9zT5VZKHI0
2 points by afterburner 9 hours ago 0 replies      
I didn't know about L-theanine; this goes a long way towards explaining why I feel like tea helps me "stay awake" for longer, compared to coffee which seems to fail me after about a half hour, despite it usually having more caffeine.
2 points by prewett 12 hours ago 0 replies      
I've been sampling a wide variety of teas over the past few years, and wrote up a page describing flavors and steeping time, which is a little more detailed (but not as broad) as the article: http://www.physics.ohio-state.edu/~prewett/archive/tea/tea.h...
2 points by rue 6 hours ago 1 reply      
I like Earl Grey with milk and honey. Does that make me a pragmatic…kettler?
3 points by mpotter 12 hours ago 0 replies      
Great resource for tea beginners and experts alike: http://steepster.com

Discover new teas, get recommendations, and keep a tasting journal.

Disclosure: I'm a co-founder.

2 points by timinman 11 hours ago 1 reply      
Great article. We love the tea here in Northern Ireland, and our impression is that most off-the-shelf bagged tea here is of very high quality in comparison to the US. We're drinking lots of 'Punjana' these days.
1 point by mmcdan 6 hours ago 1 reply      
It's technically true that tea is only made from the camellia sinensis plant, but you can get the same experience from other "hot, tea-like drinks" as well such as Herbal and Rooibos "teas".

Please take a look at http://www.theteafinder.com. It's a tea search engine that I made after getting motivated reading HN a few weeks ago! You can search for tea by flavor and health benefit.

Would love feedback from other tea-drinking hackers.

1 point by nborgo 6 hours ago 0 replies      
As if there aren't enough suggestions on where to buy tea, I get all mine through SevenCups (http://www.sevencups.com/) and TeaSpring (http://teaspring.com/). Both companies are excellent. SevenCups has a few very nice sampler packs.

I've been kind of annoyed how long TeaSpring has been out of Bai Mu Dan, though. It's is incredible. They specialize in Chinese tea. So if that's your thing, check them out.

1 point by eduardoflores 11 hours ago 0 replies      
I would recommend The Book of Tea by Okakura Kakuzo. It's a great introduction to eastern culture for westerners taking tea as link and guide. Despite it was published in 1906 it's interestingly both actual and dated.


1 point by docgnome 12 hours ago 0 replies      
For those in the US Den's Tea offers great Japanese teas. http://www.denstea.com
1 point by sgallant 9 hours ago 0 replies      
If you want to watch a great documentary about tea growing and making check out All in This Tea.



1 point by wazoox 8 hours ago 1 reply      
Not bad, but would be better with temperatures indicated in reasonable units :)
1 point by devmonk 12 hours ago 2 replies      
For those interested:


and there are supplements available if you don't want to give up coffee.

1 point by tjakab 8 hours ago 0 replies      
I mostly buy from Adagio, but have also found some great teas through Harney & Sons (http://www.harney.com) and Teas Etc. (http://www.teasetc.com).
1 point by BSousa 11 hours ago 0 replies      
http://www.hibiki-an.com is where I get most of my tea (Japanese green tea only). Shipping from Japan to Europe takes about a week to arrive.
http://www.nbtea.co.uk in the UK is also a good place for tea (various types from various locations) but I still thingk Hibiki-an's tea better quality.
1 point by RobertKohr 6 hours ago 0 replies      
Harney and Sons is my favorite.

I love their english breakfast and their earl gray.

Their chocolate tea:
Is is delicious, but man does it raise your heart rate!

1 point by DanI-S 11 hours ago 0 replies      
Jing tea are great - http://jingtea.com/

Their 'tea explorer' set is a nice introduction to various types of tea from around the world.

0 points by davidj 7 hours ago 3 replies      
I loved drinking tea, but I recently stopped when I found out that green and black tea have a large amount of Fluoride, highly toxic to the human body. I drink just hot water, or one tea bag split between a whole tea pot, or coffee.

Edited: Fluoride is NOT a heavy metal. and spelling

1 point by kesun421 11 hours ago 0 replies      
I always start my day with a hot cup of pu-erh or jiaogulan. It is said both has cleansing effect for the digestive system.
1 point by AmazonV 12 hours ago 0 replies      
A lot of information packed into a clear post for new to tea drinkers, thanks
A Google Interviewing Story paultyma.blogspot.com
198 points by ramanujam 4 days ago   116 comments top 23
44 points by akeefer 4 days ago 4 replies      
I enjoy clever ways of approaching problems as much as the next guy, but I would never ding someone in an interview for not coming up with a clever-enough solution. Good software engineering is maybe 99.7% failure-avoidance and 0.3% cleverness. On very rare occasions you need a clever solution, but most of the time you need to solve the problem in a way that you're 100% sure will work, has no nasty failure conditions, and that other competent engineers will understand. If there's no other good solution, or if every bit/cycle matters, then you get to try to be clever, but that happens pretty rarely. I've seen way, way too many problems caused by people using clever solutions for problems that had straightforward-but-less-fun solutions. (And as has been pointed out plenty of times already here, the clever solution in this case is less optimal than a more straightforward one would be). If an interviewer seemed intent on proving they were more clever than me, or on trying to get me to throw out unnecessarily-clever solutions to straightforward problems, it would be a pretty big turnoff.
13 points by antirez 3 days ago 0 replies      
In my life I never got interviewed, even if it is 15 years I work as a programmer. Now I work at VMware thanks to Redis, and VMware did not requested an interview, and my only previous not-self-employed position 10 years ago was likewise triggered by my work on hping.

But, I'm sure, I would suck so much at this kind of interviews. If you are anything like me you'll understand what I mean, in topics where I work day by day I've pretty much the control of what the good solution can be in a few minutes, but for many things to find the best solution requires, at least for me, days of thinking, sleeping, possibly waking up with the solution in mind, to find it's wrong and you need to reiterate the process.

My design abilities are all there, in this days. I'm sure that in the five minutes race I would say many times something of super stupid. Now my question is, are the five-minutes performances really linked to the three days thinking about your problem solution?

Isn't it possible that at least a subset of guys that will get the few-days answer well, will instead provide a poor answer in little time, and sometimes the other way around?

If this can be somewhat true, there is a huge industry selecting runners for 100 meters, in order to run, most of the times, a maraton.

47 points by lacker 4 days ago 5 replies      
The prime multiplication is a pretty bad solution. It's actually O(n log n) rather than O(n), since you have to use some form of big integer, and multiplying a size-n number by a constant is O(log n). It is also needlessly complicated.
6 points by mrshoe 4 days ago 10 replies      
If you are ever asked an interview question which you've already answered in a previous interview, you should tell the interviewer immediately.

I know some coworkers who will intentionally ask a question they know you were asked in a previous interview to test your integrity. (Edit: Not that I would condone this practice either.)

These types of interview questions are about evaluating how you think far more than what you know. So, more importantly than the risk of getting caught, if you recite an answer from memory and pretend that you're deriving the solution on the fly, you're lying to your future coworker.

36 points by jamesaguilar 4 days ago replies      
Angry because neither the hash table or the prime multiplication would be as fast as a boolean array indexed by the char value. As an added bonus, the boolean array actually makes the most intuitive sense.
15 points by aaronbrethorst 4 days ago 1 reply      
My last internship in college involved working on thermostat systems for Honeywell with a bunch of people who had been there their entire professional careers. I didn't have much interest in becoming a lifer and ended up interviewing with a couple other companies, including Microsoft.

I interviewed for a Program Management position in the Visual Studio group. My first interview was with the Design Manager for the VS product line. Her final question for me was about building an effective temperature control system for a new house. I launched into a 5 minute analysis of the advantages and disadvantages of a wide range of HVAC systems, obvious ramifications from open floor plans, and so on.

A month later, we sat down for lunch as co-employees for the first time, and I told her the whole story. She got a big laugh out of it. I guess she didn't realize that's what I'd spent the last few months working on.

13 points by rapind 4 days ago 1 reply      
Stories like this and the comments that follow just reinforces my belief that I am no where near smart enough to work with most of you guys.

Plus I'll never wear leather pants. That can't be comfortable.

10 points by kabdib 4 days ago 0 replies      
Multiplication and division are o(log n) operations.
3 points by ronnier 4 days ago 0 replies      
I was asked that exact same question over a phone interview.

One of the most interesting questions given to me was, write an algorithm such that given four colors and a rectangle, fill the rectangle with a gradient using a color in each corner. After the fact it wasn't very hard, but having never thought about such a problem, it was pretty difficult white boarding it out. It was a pretty good question because I think that most people aren't thinking or preparing for such a problem, instead opting to study arrays, linked lists, trees, sorting algorithms and running time. You really get to see how a person thinks with it.

7 points by Charuru 3 days ago 0 replies      
I kind of wish that he didn't emphasize the 'women engineer', would've kinda gotten the picture when he starts using she.

Maybe we'll get there someday...

5 points by nhashem 4 days ago 1 reply      
I feel like most engineers rarely have to try too hard to get a decent job, but I wonder if it's because of stories like this. I've been on the interview circuit a handful of times so far in my life, and aside from the first time when I was mostly clueless ("So where do you want to be in 5 years?"; "Man, I never think that far ahead."), I feel like interviews have become a very routine process of answering a similar subset of questions over and over again. Am I being hired because they've made a true evaluation of my technical skills, or was I just serendipitously lucky to have heard the answer to how those 5 pirates are going to split those 100 gold pieces?
5 points by ajays 4 days ago 0 replies      
I have been in a similar situation, where one interview's curveball ended up being asked in a subsequent interview.
I went through the same emotions as the author (including resisting the urge to grin from ear to ear). But like an idiot, I answered with the trick answer right away (though I was calm about it). I then told the interviewer that I had learnt it in a previous interview.
It turned out he was looking for the clever answer too; and he was disappointed that I knew it. Maybe he felt I wasn't sufficiently "excited" about the clever answer, but I never got the job. Which is not too bad, since that outfit wasn't my first choice anyways.
3 points by ibagrak 3 days ago 0 replies      
I've had something similar happen to me at a Microsoft interview. The interviewer asked me a question I explicitly knew the answer to, and it too wasn't "my" answer to the problem but the one I've heard in another interview. So I just told him: "I know this one. Can you ask me something else?" He told me he appreciated my honesty, and didn't have any other questions.

I got the job.

2 points by wazoox 3 days ago 0 replies      
Hum, Guy's solution is really terrible, division, multiplication and modulo are very expensive operations, and completely unnecessary here. This is basically a case of "I'm clever and you must think like me to be in my team". Uh no thanks.
2 points by random42 3 days ago 0 replies      
The point of the story is not the actual problem that author had to solve, which we have been discussing (but again, its _hacker_ news, after all :-)), but basically to tell how interviewing experience, even at which you fail, prepare you for better.
1 point by skybrian 3 days ago 0 replies      
I'm guessing that the guy in the leather pants probably got the idea from reading about Godel numbering. If you're interested in this, you might like this book: http://www.amazon.com/Godels-Proof-Ernest-Nagel/dp/081475816...
1 point by lwhi 3 days ago 0 replies      
I paused a bit before reading about the possible solutions, and actually thought of the (prime number) solution the interviewer came up with.

I realise that this is a bit of redundant post .. but, as a person who isn't a brilliant coder I surprised myself. But then again, after reading the comments here - I think maybe I just have an obtuse way of thinking about things.

2 points by zeraholladay 4 days ago 0 replies      
Personally, I would be more inclined to hire a person picking the "throw it in a hash and look it up" solution over any more complex solution. My reasoning is that bad programmers tend to get lost in nuance, or don't understand a problem. Good programmers tend to reason through the proportionate value of a problem. I'm not saying nuance is always a bad thing, but it's probably not what your company is developing unless you work for a math department.
2 points by exit 4 days ago 1 reply      
> "Given that our range of characters is limited."

i think what matters is that characters are enumerable, not finite?

2 points by TARMAP 4 days ago 1 reply      
I hate such stupid tricks, frankly a hash table or an array for a restricted domain is way faster, since the whole data structure gets cached on the L1.

I can solve the same problem by using statistical thermodynamics, and show its only o(1), since each string is a configuration of the system and finding common alphabets is like finding degenerate states.

1 point by lwhi 3 days ago 0 replies      
Leather pants in an academic setting always makes me think of Jeff Goldblum in Jurassic Park.
1 point by Aleran 3 days ago 0 replies      
It is strange how every time someone interviews at Google they feel compelled to write "their" story and share it with the internet.

How many stories like this are out there now? Hundreds?

1 point by wingo 3 days ago 0 replies      
Leather pants turn a good story into a great story.
Faking it. sahillavingia.com
187 points by sahillavingia 4 days ago   70 comments top 21
40 points by acabal 4 days ago 5 replies      
This is more or less what I did with my site, Scribophile. The site is based on writers critiquing the writing of others, with a point system to make sure everyone gets critiques. When I just started, it was kind of a chicken-and-egg problem: without existing work to critique, nobody could earn points to post their own writing; but without points, nobody could post their own work for critique. And worst of all, without an existing user base, there would be nobody around to critique writing that was posted.

I solved this problem by basically faking it. When the site just started, I let people post writing without spending points. I would then personally critique that writing myself through several fake accounts. These critiques not only made new members feel as if there was already a community in place (thus encouraging them to stay), but they also made sure that people felt as if the site was useful, and made them want to contribute with critiques of their own. I don't write for pleasure, but I posted some works I had written just for the occasion. I didn't care about the critiques they received; the important part was making people think there was a community already there. I also recruited some friends who weren't really writers to participate on the site at the beginning to solidify the illusion of an existing community.

I also had a general "company" user account that I used to interact with everyone on a site-support level. This gave the illusion that there was more than one person behind the scenes. At the time I felt that having a web site that seemed to be run by a proper company instead of a guy in his basement went a long way for credibility. I never gave away the fact that it was just me. I would sign all support requests with "Scribophile Support" instead of "Alex."

As time went on and the site grew, I stopped critiquing by hand, thanked my non-writer friends for helping me and told them they didn't have to participate in the site any more, and eventually stopped using the "company" account in favor of my personal one. Everyone now knows that I'm the owner of the site and the guy behind the scenes. I sign support requests with my name instead of "Support."

I have no doubt that if I hadn't "faked it" in the beginning, the site would never have gotten the traction that it now has. It was essential for getting a community site bootstrapped with a $0 marketing budget and the chicken-and-egg problem that all community sites face.

23 points by johnnyg 4 days ago 3 replies      
I disagree with your post. When you represent one thing and do another, it is call lying and it is a slippery slope.

What happens if you prime the pump with using questionable means and it works?

* You now have a lead a growing company. You are the moral compass of the company. Are you the guy to say they should be acting ethically even when it is harder to do so? Do you expect people to believe you? If they don't, do you expect them to respect you? Can you lead without that?

* How much trust can there be between people that know you will shave the edges if there's immediate gain? How long until this behavior results in a bunch of corporate sharks instead of a team working on a goal together?

I lead. I have been right here. CPAPAuction.com isn't a huge business and we need to project activity to grow, but damn it, the metrics are real. I run other businesses that have done better. The people working in those businesses know that those metrics are real too, as are their pay checks and managements communications relating to future prospects.

I've been in plenty of other situations where I could see no white or black to choose from even if I wanted to, only gray. In those dark times, you need people around you who know in their gut that you are moral.

I feel like I get it.

But the thing I get is that you never, ever pull this crap. You never give an inch when you aren't absolutely force fed an impossibly difficult situation. You let your people see you doing the work and what you get back in exchange is the ability to build strong teams, be wealthy and sleep at night.

Buy cheaper desks and put the money into integrity. Then earn it.

PS. If you answer posts/list items/take the action your website exists to facilitate and identify yourself as with the company, I see no moral issue. If you don't identify yourself, I do see that as being dishonest with your user base and by extension, everyone associated with your company.

10 points by mortenjorck 4 days ago 1 reply      
Interesting. To me, the solutions you mention run a gamut of grey-hattedness: I'd call social hacks like the invite-only method perfectly white-hat, while outright inflation of current user numbers seems a bit shady (I'd either just automatically omit the display below a certain threshold or use a wider time range, such as the past 24 hours). Either way, these encourage some useful thought processes.
20 points by winternett 4 days ago 1 reply      
It think "fake buzz" is killing the Internet's credibility. I actually think that spending tons of time tweeting and posting testimonials on sites [rather than working on making better products and services] is exactly what's killing the quality of goods and services in society these days. Fake testimonials are for "As Seen On TV" ads, but for a reliable and trustworthy company that plans on longevity, I think its a 100% bad move. Let the real and unbiased testimonials from people about your business be REAL and UNBIASED if you plan on thriving in the long run of business life.

Think about it this way, if testimonials are rigged, what metrics are companies then using to improve their products? Testimonials influence and taint the opinions of others.

This is the reason why some people have 100,000 followers on Twitter, because they work for an AD agency that creates phony accounts and then adds those users in order to "Fake" the idea that the account is truly popular. This reduces the credibility of your Twitter account and your entire presence on the Internet.

Do you get jealous because a friend or competitor has more "followers" than you? You shouldn't. you should congratulate them instead. You never know how or why they got there, and they may be behind you the next day.

"Faking it until you make" it is not a good way to go. You should generate real metrics, a real reputation, and a solid product or service, thats the only way to sustained and long-term success, and its always been that way.

12 points by dabent 4 days ago 2 replies      
"Quora‘s staff started off answering as many questions as they could. This helped create a site that had activity on it, which encouraged other users to participate. Suddenly, they didn't have to spend hours answering questions themselves."

This reminds me of something one of the speakers (I'm pretty sure it was Quora's founder) said at Startup School - It's OK to do something that doesn't scale if it strengthens your position.

7 points by ryanwaggoner 4 days ago 0 replies      
Is this fundamentally different from lying to investors and telling them that you have more traction than you do, or even altering your financials? Yes, that would be illegal and telling users you have more users than you do probably isn't, I'm not sure they're that different ethically.
3 points by lkrubner 4 days ago 0 replies      
On WPQuestions.com, we corralled our friends and gave them the money to ask some of the first questions. In fact, of the first 10 questions on the site, I think 6 were from friends of ours. All the same, during the first few hours we were open, we did get one question from a total stranger, and by the end of the day we had revenue of something like $5, which allowed us to joke that we had made more money on our first day than Twitter had made during its first 2 years. And now that we are rolling our software out for others to use, I've been giving the same advice to the people on our waiting list: be ready to line up the first few transactions yourself, because the first few are the toughest. You need to create the momentum yourself. WPQuestions.com has now had 606 paid questions, and we haven't needed to force our friends to post questions since the first week, many months ago. But I think it was essential that we put some friends up to it that first week. Mind you, this wasn't totally faking it, since most of the questions were real questions that our friends were struggling with.

One thing I still do (I did it just this morning in fact) is increase the prize for a customer, when that customer has had a problem with the site, and we pay for the increase out of our own pocket. For instance, just today, I added to the prize for this question: http://www.wpquestions.com/question/show/id/1160 . But I do not regard that as faking it, I simply regard that as good customer support and good customer relations.

20 points by tommi 4 days ago 3 replies      
The article kind of contradicts itself:

"Of course, this doesn't mean put up false testimonials... create fake real-time activity"

Later on advocating:
"[REDACTED] takes their real-time user numbers and multiplies them by a randomly generated number. Whereas before, it would say “6 users online,” it would say “68 users online.”

That it is pure lying and it is bad.

5 points by hsuresh 4 days ago 0 replies      
If you are at a restaurant that just opened, you would find that they are extra nice to you. I would expect a startup to do the same, be extra nice to your early customers. I disagree that faking, or lying is the answer.
2 points by cookiecaper 4 days ago 0 replies      
It seems that most successful "chicken-and-egg" sites, sites that depend on a reasonably-sized userbase before anyone would want to use it, only achieved success through astroturfing (creating fake accounts and pretending like you're someone else).

Personally I find such activity deceptive and immoral, though I don't think it's particularly grievous. Does anyone know how to start a site that depends on a significant userbase without a huge amount of astroturfing? I'd imagine the only way is to either have a lot of really good friends who will help you, pay a bunch of people to use the site until the real userbase gets large enough, or advertise very aggressively so that lots of people are using it right away.

4 points by janj 4 days ago 0 replies      
I'm always amused finding new iPhone apps with four 5-star reviews submitted the day the app was released, always sounding like an infomercial. Gotta say I've been tempted to seed some reviews and five stars (especially to try and bury others that are mistaken or just lying) but it's never happened.

I have created a mobile product with hundreds, maybe thousands of happy users. When I finally get to adding the social aspect of it there will be no need for faking it. I'm really anxious to get on to that phase, if anyone wants to help out let me know.

2 points by iampims 4 days ago 0 replies      
Yelp started by paying users to leave reviews and got a serious backlash for doing this.

The nature of the “items” being displayed/created also plays a major role in this, because unless you own a few dozens cars, starting a classified ads site for cars with only yours, is not going to get you far.

Several dating sites got in troubles for adding fake accounts with attractive pictures to lure people to sign up for their paid service. That is a line you do not want to cross…

1 point by vaksel 4 days ago 0 replies      
you gotta fake it till you make it, otherwise you are just shooting yourself in the foot.

Being big is validation for most people, they figure if you got big, then you must have something to offer, and at the very least you won't scam them.

This is especially true for communities, since noone wants to be the first one there.

1 point by partition 3 days ago 0 replies      
I would personally caution against the championing, if not the individual embracing of such an idea. This looks like a 'race to the bottom' to me.

Consider what happens in the long run. Sooner or later people will either catch on or get used to a website always having users or content, no matter how new or actually fake it is.

Some or all of these things may happen:

1. Online communications between 'people,' real or fake, becomes devalued. They are already devalued with the flood of people with bad taste. Of course, one can argue that communication is value in itself; the feeling of connecting. In that case I have a great startup idea; one that makes you talk with chat bots but feels like actually conversing. If you use sophisticated enough text generation techniques and market it to stupid/desperate enough people I seriously think this could work to some extent.

2. You will have to work extra, putting in fake content, just to launch a socially-oriented website. Otherwise it will not get off the ground. I await the day until a website has to send me flowers through the mail in order to grab my attention. Perhaps this is a good thing, because there are already more than enough socially-oriented websites.

But what can we do about it now?

One can take the view that this was a great blog post. Not only because it has named startups that use this approach, so the more principled of us have extra data on which kind of people are honest enough to do business with, but people of varying degrees of honesty have come out in the comments section, some virtually boasting of their 'faking it' techniques. We now have more data; you may now do as you wish with it.

Reflect on the business culture and environment that requires this sort of behavior and make a decision; is this the kind of thing I want to associate myself with?

4 points by devmonk 4 days ago 0 replies      
I want to find out whose company name was redacted from the post.
1 point by jhrobert 4 days ago 0 replies      
Another option: pre-fill some content with some FB or Twitter content.

Then you have "users".

Whenever a user's "front' page is visited, increase that user's counter, and then display popular users on the main page.

Sure, you don't have true "true active" users, but at least it's users that generate some activity, indirectly.

If some users become popular, chances are they'll want to have a look at your service.

This might be a very bad idea, your call.

1 point by joshklein 4 days ago 0 replies      
And when will you stop taking short cuts? If you do stop, will you find out that your business wasn't truly viable? So will you continue taking the short cut, even then?
1 point by bialecki 4 days ago 0 replies      
I liken this to when you try to get a group of friends to do anything. For the sake of argument, let's say go to the movies or to a bar. If you have go to friends, you can seed your group there, but what after that? Almost everyone says, "a bunch of people are doing..." and it's kind of a lie because they don't know if people will go, they're saying that so other people will want to go. And this technique works wonders.

I don't have a problem with people applying this technique to their business, pretty much everyone does. The problem is you need to be careful with it because at the end of the day, it's still a lie and you still need to make money.

1 point by lukeqsee 4 days ago 0 replies      
Another brilliant post, keep up the good work.

I think many startups fail because they don't fake it until they can make it. (I've been on that end a couple times myself.)

1 point by shanes 4 days ago 0 replies      
The best graphic designers listen to the nerds, the sales team, the CEOs, the VPs, and every stake-holder in between. They design a "look" that pleases the CEO, who sells it to the board, who tells the VPs to implement it, who tell the sales team to accept it, who tell the nerds to build it.

The best designers are not prima donnas who force their ideas on the company. They build the design the big guy wants, takes the check, and waits for the VPs to call him back to make changes.

1 point by ssing 4 days ago 1 reply      
I would say using faking is little harsh. All you are doing is providing seed data.
Oregon Senator effectively kills Internet censorship bill rawstory.com
184 points by Scott_MacGregor 4 days ago   38 comments top 9
56 points by DevX101 3 days ago 5 replies      
Send him a thank you for defending freedom of speech on the internet:


11 points by DanielBMarkham 3 days ago 2 replies      
This is the part of the story where folks acknowledge how great the U.S. Senate is for allowing one member to block offending legislation.

But I doubt that will happen.

15 points by flipbrad 3 days ago 2 replies      
i wish i was a US citizen so I could send him a note of appreciation and some chocolates, or a box set of mad men, or something... this bill would have gone global (and might do, one day)
6 points by tshtf 3 days ago 0 replies      
I wouldn't be surprised if this was a direct result of the Senator hearing from his constituents about this issue. Regardless, job well done!
5 points by laujen 3 days ago 0 replies      
Senator Wyden is a good man. I told this story in yesterdays post but I have a friend that used to take the same Portland to DC flights every Monday (to DC) and Friday (to PDX). senator Wyden, even though he had probably earned millions of frequent flyer miles, always sat in coach, always in the same spot.

If any of you were paying attention to the national health care debate, it was Wyden and then Senator Bennett's proposal before Obamacare that made the most sense. In fact we would be much better off if Congress would consider their changes instead of complete repeal.

3 points by jdp23 3 days ago 1 reply      
Well done by Senator Wyden! The headline's a little too optimistic, though. The bill will be back next session -- and the new Congress is likely to be just as friendly to the content industries (who are driving the bill). So it's a great time to support Wyden, EFF and others who are on the right side of this issue.
3 points by joshes 3 days ago 1 reply      
Sadly it appears as though the only legislation which unifies both sides of the political aisle (be it in favor of or against a given piece of legislation) is that which is completely asinine and backward. The seemingly basic bills are inevitably deadlocked in recent years.

Then again, that's not entirely unexpected.

1 point by tommi 3 days ago 1 reply      
"Deploying this statute to combat online copyright infringement seems almost like using a bunker-busting cluster bomb, when what you need is a precision-guided missile," Wyden said.

As far as I understand the article does not explain Wyden doing anything else than saying that particular sentence. How is that effectively killing Internet censorship?

1 point by iwr 3 days ago 1 reply      
Would this system block websites at the IP level or at the DNS level?

Doing it at the DNS level would mean you could roll your own DNS or use a non-US DNS provider.

Doing it at the IP level would mean banned IPs and reverse-lookups of IPs back into domain names, checking against a list of banned domains. This one could only be bypassed through proxies.

What should a developer know before building a public web site? stackoverflow.com
181 points by niyazpk 1 day ago   7 comments top 2
4 points by mcantor 1 day ago 2 replies      
This has definitely been posted before... I feel like StackOverflow isn't the right tool for this kind of info, either. Wasn't there some kind of website that sought to document all of the "checklist"-style information out there?
2 points by callmeed 21 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm not convinced an XML sitemap is crucial for seo"except perhaps for the new extensions (video, etc.)
How I Incorporated My Startup heyhamza.com
180 points by chamza 3 days ago   37 comments top 14
55 points by grellas 3 days ago 4 replies      
This is a nice do-it-yourself guide to how to file a certificate of incorporation in Delaware.

A few observations from the dark side (I am a business lawyer):

1. Filing the certificate is only the first of several steps you need to take to complete an incorporation (you also need to set up its management structure, capitalize it, enter into any shareholder agreements as are appropriate, adopt bylaws, and comply with securities laws, among other things, or else your corporation is only half-baked).

2. Even if you complete an incorporation, you still need to do this in a distinctive way for a startup as opposed to what you would do if you were incorporating a typical small business - meaning, the process leaves the founders vulnerable to a fair number of legal risks unless they take pains to put strings on the stock issuances in case someone bolts without earning his piece, to assign IP rights into the company to make sure no individual founder later claims such rights as his own, to enter into work-for-hire arrangements to make sure that the rights to any continuing work done on the company's technology will belong to the company and not to any individual founder, etc. (summarized in more detail here: http://grellas.com/faq_business_startup_001.html).

3. There are also issues about which entity might be best for your situation (corporation or LLC) and which state (Delaware or other).

I don't want to be misunderstood here. I have never discouraged clients from taking any self-help steps they see as helpful to them and I will refer them to resources that help them in this. And often an initial bare-bones corporate or LLC setup makes infinitely more sense for founders than does anything more elaborate and more expensive.

But such steps must always be understood for what they are. If you have an inexpensive method for filing a Delaware certificate of incorporation at the hand, that is helpful and broadens your options as a founder in getting your entity technically formed on the cheap. Just don't forget that it is at that stage only an incomplete formation. Just as lighting the stove in only step one in cooking your dish, so filing the charter document does not really make you "incorporated" until you have done the rest of it as well. Nor does it necessarily mean that you have made your entity choice in the right way.

Forgive me if this sounds like self-promotion (I have assiduously tried to avoid this in my HN comments) but it does pay normally to at least meet with a skilled attorney to get some strategic advice on how to do your setup. The cost of doing an initial meeting is usually nominal and will at least let you make the choices you do make with open eyes on what the trade-offs are. It is commendable to conserve cash. It is not commendable to do so in a way that leaves you potentially flying blind on important choices affecting your startup.

6 points by cscotta 3 days ago 2 replies      
This a great, succinct guide - glad to see it.

One very important step five to add: check with your state's Secretary of State office to see if there are any additional steps that must be taken. Many states require foreign-registered LLCs and corporations to submit an "application for authority to transact" or otherwise register with them.

Depending on where you're located, a local business registration fee or license may be required as well.

It's also important to apply for an EIN number, which is generally required before opening a bank account in the business' name, and for tax purposes: https://sa2.www4.irs.gov/modiein/individual/index.jsp

There may be other steps that I'm missing, but as with any guide to navigating these waters, always ask for help in your particular situation, and don't be afraid to (indeed, please do!) consult a lawyer.

7 points by breckognize 3 days ago 2 replies      
I'm going to take the opposite view and suggest that this is not a good idea. While I whole-heartedly endorse bootstrapping when you can, there is a huge risk to not having a professional look at your incorporating documents, especially when there are multiple co-founders involved. That's why this is the first thing incubators like YC and AlphaLab require. Many attorneys (if you ask) will do incorporation for a flat fee (ours was $2500).

Specifically our attorney helped us with the following issues:

- What is the structure of the shareholder agreement?

- What happens if a co-founder leaves?

- Filling out the 83(b) Election Form (so that you pay capital gains taxes on the shares you're about to be issued now rather than later)

- Mutual confidentiality agreement amongst co-founders

- Proprietary rights agreement

Believe me, I know what it's like to be a starving startup. Any cash outlay is terrifying. But you must be able to separate fear from the decision making process. $2500 is not a lot of money. And if you can't bring yourself to pay that much for something as important as an attorney, are you really starting a business? Or is it just a side project that you hope will become a business? There is a serious difference.

One last thought. We (http://www.shoefitr.com) didn't incorporate until we quit our "real" jobs to go full time. This gave us time to mitigate some technology risk and get comfortable working with each other before shelling out $2500. I think that's ok too. But if you're at the full-time stage of things, consult a professional.

5 points by maxklein 3 days ago 3 replies      
Is it possible (or legal) for a set of foreign people (outside the country, no citizens) to create a delaware company? Would that work at all, what with banking and all? Anyone know?
3 points by jambo 3 days ago 1 reply      
Nice post. A lot of people get this wrong, but the right word where you used 'stocks' is 'shares'. You own shares in a company, not stocks"when you hear people talk about "their stocks" they're talking about their shareholdings in multiple companies.
4 points by jaredstenquist 3 days ago 1 reply      
Good basic outline. It's too bad the difficult part of incorporating is the upkeep of accounting, taxes and everything else that goes with it. I too spent a couple hundred to incorporate, but thousands for the CPA, bookeeper, lawyers, etc.. to keep you in check. My startup is up to 11 employees though.

If it's just you or you and a friend starting something basic, a local business attorney should be able to keep you in check for $100-$150 an hour a few times a year. Early on I actually found some local contests for startups and won $4,000 in attorneys fees once, and once I got bigger applied for another one and received $10,000 in fee credit.

Look around, there are lots of people willing to help young startups. Offer to use an attorney on deferred payment status until you close at least a $1MM series A or have $1MM in revenue. From my personal experience many will do this for the chance at having you as a longtime client when you make it big.

Good luck!

3 points by pzxc 3 days ago 1 reply      
Good post, getting incorporated (or making an LLC) really IS that easy, and I've not seen anyone outline the process so succinctly before.

One comment: You don't NEED to incorporate in delaware, unless you have specific liability reasons for doing so. Incorporating in your own state is usually cheaper and easier, so unless you have specific protection you want that only a delaware corporation corporation can provide (or nevada, they're also good), don't bother and just use your home state.

Also don't forget that there are upkeep costs for a corporation or LLC, certain paperwork (usually annual) that you have to keep up with and file each year to maintain the corporation.

2 points by mronge 3 days ago 0 replies      
I would also recommend incorporating in your home state. I incorporated in Minnesota and it was ridiculously easy, simplest government form I've ever seen.

However if you're going to be seeking VC then it probably makes sense to incorporate in Delaware. However if you're like me and bootstrapping it, there is no need to go with a Delaware Corp.

1 point by gallerytungsten 3 days ago 0 replies      
This is a helpful post, but there were a couple points that might have been overlooked.

The OP didn't mention anything about having the papers notarized. This is typically required, but perhaps not in Delaware? Also, as others noted, you'll often have to file for "foreign corporation" status in your home state.

Once you have filed "foreign corporation" status in your home state, you will probably need to check whether your product or service is subject to sales tax. Then you will need to get a sales tax account. Depending on your jurisdiction, this may include both state and city or county sales tax accounts. You should also call up the IRS or file online to get a Tax ID number (TIN/EIN).

1 point by tansey 3 days ago 0 replies      
Very nice article, would have saved me time last year when I was looking into the same things. One question though: why file a C-corp instead of an S-corp?
2 points by onlythestrong 3 days ago 2 replies      
Does anyone have experience doing this from out of state? For example, setting this up while residing in California?

Setting up an LLC in California will cost you $800/year..so this out of state C-Corp seems like a cheaper option

2 points by robinhowlett 3 days ago 0 replies      
Thanks very much for this. I'm new to the country and have been looking for this kind of info. Much cheaper than I expected.
2 points by plainOldText 3 days ago 0 replies      
Posts like this is why I read HN. I believe the synergy in this start-up community is amazing. :)
1 point by markdionne 3 days ago 0 replies      
After incorporating in Massachusetts, I learned that I must pay a minimum state tax of $456 per year. Ouch.
Websockets are awesome (you can see everyone's cursor)! Please donate yours davidvanleeuwen.nl
175 points by davidvanleeuwen 19 hours ago   60 comments top 24
21 points by sp4rki 16 hours ago 1 reply      
This is a billion and one times better than sending your resume and contacting a recruiter. You leverage the power of the community and showcase that you actually do have competent skills. The only negative I notice, is that among the skills you showcase, proofreading is not one of them. Hah!

Anyways, if you did this to intern where I work, I'd give you an internship position in a heartbeat. Wish you all the luck to get what you want fellow hacker. Thumbs up.

16 points by davidvanleeuwen 13 hours ago 1 reply      
Hi guys. Thank you all for supporting me. I'm just reading all of this, because I've been at a meeting for a couple of hours. Server is up again, but I wasn't expecting it to be this huge. I'll make some changes, so please don't blame me if it's down.

I'm just another Dutch student trying his best to graduate. And yes, I did let a few people check the site before I launched it (not only Dutch people). Still, my English isn't the best and thank you guys for pointing that out. I'll change it as soon as possible.

I'll give all comments a closer look soon. Again, I didn't really expect this (otherwise I'll optimized it first and put it on a CDN and stuff). I'll also get into details (specs, technical details etc).

And again, thank you all :-)

10 points by enneff 17 hours ago 0 replies      
Websockets are indeed awesome. I made this: http://powerhouse.nf.id.au/
4 points by flacon 12 hours ago 1 reply      
Seems like this has been done before: http://jeffkreeftmeijer.com/2010/experimenting-with-node-js/

Using Node.js. The node js example even provides the code to replicate it. Is this person using node or some other websocket approach?

11 points by acarabott 17 hours ago 0 replies      
As this is a job application of sorts I feel I should point out a typo:

"It gives you a peak at the engine of Steam."

should be

"It gives you a peek at the engine of Steam."

2 points by smokinn 14 hours ago 1 reply      
Trying to cover up other people's cursor is surprisingly fun. They always try to run away and lose you in the crowd. =)
3 points by beaumartinez 14 hours ago 0 replies      
This is incredible, how come I didn't think of this? This is certainly a flash job application, well done. I wouldn't mind everyone's corrections; if they don't accept you because of a few typoes, Valve are idiots.

How often are you sending out cursor positions? I was trying to start a cursor ruckus but I think that all my cursor movement crashed your server.

Incidentally, this could be an interesting exercise in calculating when and how often to send out cursor coordinates. I'd add something about that on the page too, as I dare say that's a good skill to have as well.

All the best.

6 points by prat 14 hours ago 1 reply      
Is this link dead- or is it just me?
4 points by jkreeftmeijer 14 hours ago 0 replies      
This is a really nice implementation, but here's how I did it a couple of months ago (with an explanation on how to do it yourself): http://jeffkreeftmeijer.com/2010/experimenting-with-node-js ;)
1 point by davidvanleeuwen 6 hours ago 1 reply      
This has been a long and busy day. I've received a lot of comments, both positive and negative. I'm not sure what to do with all of these comments.

I saw a lot of questions about where I got my inspiration. Someone built something similar at the Node.JS knockout: http://tinyurl.com/2ch3nes. I started experimenting with PusherApp and NodeJS (I've worked with ape-project.org before doing this). Later on, I attended a developer meeting (http://rotterdamphp.tumblr.com) and they talked about Node.JS and CouchDB. At that same meeting someone pointed out Jeff Kreefmeijer's work and that I'm not the first one to build something like this. But I didn't care and kept on building (because it doesn't matter to me if I'm the first to build it). If you're curious on how I've build this, then you should check out my twitter (@davidvanleeuwen) tomorrow, because I'll submit it on github and will post the link there.

7 points by davidvanleeuwen 17 hours ago 2 replies      
Lol, I didn't expect to have so many people on this site. I think the server is going to need a vacation soon.
1 point by rythie 15 hours ago 1 reply      
Valve will want you to do stuff that works at scale, which you seem to be having some problems with.

What is the backend datastore/communications for this? redis? node.js? or just plain MySQL?

1 point by luisns 2 hours ago 0 replies      
interesting technology, has a lot of potential.
oh, i just added another item in "to learn" list
1 point by RossM 9 hours ago 0 replies      
The new Opera beta does nicely here, just some layout problems (scrollbars) if cursors go too far to the side on large monitors - awesome example though.
2 points by chanux 17 hours ago 0 replies      
`Oh, did I mentioned I'm a fanatic gamer as well?`

Shouldn't that be "Oh, did I mention I'm a fanatic gamer as well?"

Good Luck.

3 points by jonafato 18 hours ago 1 reply      
Can you explain what exactly "donating my cursor" does?
1 point by hebejebelus 13 hours ago 0 replies      
This is brilliant. If a picture speaks more than a thousand words, an awesome tech demo shouts louder than a CV, for sure.
3 points by davidvanleeuwen 19 hours ago 2 replies      
Please help me out here guys! Thanks :-)

Btw: you can donate your finger as well on iOS4.2

1 point by Epitaph 9 hours ago 0 replies      
It's down for the count, but when it gets back up everyone should run this piece of java (requires you to import java.awt.Robot):

Robot robot = new Robot();
for(float t=0; t<1000; t++){
robot.mouseMove(200+(int)(150*Math.cos(2*Math.PI*(t/1000))), 400+(int)(50*Math.sin(2*Math.PI*(t/500))));
} catch (Exception e) {}

We would all be infinitely tracing the infinity symbol.

1 point by cookiestack 8 hours ago 0 replies      
I noticed that when you refresh the page, you can revote, do you do any checking to make sure people can only vote once?
1 point by manish 16 hours ago 0 replies      
Looks like HN effect. I am getting connection refused error.
1 point by axod 16 hours ago 2 replies      
Whatever next? Next thing you know someone will write an IRC client using websocket!

Cool showcase though :)

1 point by SimonPStevens 15 hours ago 0 replies      
If we all coordinate our efforts and position our cursors we could spell out something.
2 points by orta 17 hours ago 0 replies      
clever. I hope it works out for you
A Collection of Useful .gitignore Templates github.com
169 points by gintas 3 days ago   16 comments top 5
3 points by pilif 2 days ago 0 replies      
I'm of the opinion that artifacts of IDEs an OSes should not be part of a projects .gitignore. After all, different people could be using different environments for development and I really don't see the need for a projects .gitignore to contain the subset of all possible artifacts.

Use .git/info/exclude or a repository independent personal .gitignore for this.

The projects file is for files created by running the code or maybe some unavoidable build artifacts happening in all cases (.o files for example)

I really hate commits with messages like "updating .gitignore for Joe's new IDE"

2 points by avar 3 days ago 2 replies      
Some projects like Git itself refuse to add editor droppings like ~ and # to .gitignore. They consider the .gitignore file to be only for things that the build system produces, e.g. *.o and binaries.

If you want to ignore things that your editor adds you should add it in .git/info/excludes, not .gitignore.

1 point by chr15 3 days ago 1 reply      
If you are using Django/Python, it might be useful to add *.pyc to your gitignore. These are compiled python files.

Also, if you're developing on a Mac, it would also be useful to add .DS_Store. It's an invisible file, and it just stores some properties of that directory,

1 point by mcav 3 days ago 1 reply      
Anyone got a good Clojure one?
1 point by eeperson 3 days ago 0 replies      
It seems like a lot of these should have leading slashes so they only match the root directory and not any file with that name.
Another Hacker's Laptop, Cell Phones Searched at Border wired.com
168 points by philipn 5 days ago   87 comments top 16
62 points by jwr 4 days ago 6 replies      
I find it amazing that there is so little outrage at what is happening in the USA.

The country that paints itself as an example of freedom and democracy and aspires to spreading those values around the world is the same country that:

* kidnaps and tortures people,

* sets up a military prison with no civillian oversight, outside any legal jurisdiction, where it keeps people indefinitely,

* kills people in various countries using missiles launched from drones,

* interrogates its citizens as they come back from abroad, threatening them with detention or not letting them into the country,

* tightly controls the media and what information gets released from war zones,

* has a lawless "zone" extending 100 miles from its border, where laws are unclear, and people can be searched without warrant,

* seizes computers, accesses and copies data, threatens people so that they give up their passwords,

* uses scare tactics on security researchers (see story above) and whistleblowers (see all the wikileaks stories)

I come from a former-communist country that was under the Soviet influence. We fortunately no longer are. I think what I listed above is very visible to people like me, but somehow it goes under the radar of most Americans. I see it as classical secret police tactics, utilized in all totalitarian regimes, while Americans seem to see it as a necessary nuisance to "combat terrorism".

I find it even more amazing that instead of fighting back, people just discuss workarounds. Ship your data via FedEx, keep it online, wipe your drives, carry a laptop with an empty drive… This works today, but the way things are developing, it might not work tomorrow!

Wake up, people. In comparison to things I listed above the whole ridiculous story about the "naked scanners" is just a joke.

16 points by jdietrich 4 days ago 3 replies      
It could be worse. Here in the UK, they would have locked him up for refusing to hand over his passwords. The Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act makes it a specific criminal offence and people have been imprisoned for it. Personally, I'm worried that I might get locked up for refusing to decrypt the contents of /dev/urandom. I think we need to wake up to the fact that there are a lot of people in power who would prefer that strong cryptography be the exclusive preserve of government.
24 points by snissn 5 days ago 1 reply      
slightly relevant:

To protect his privacy and that of his clients, Mitnick encrypts all the confidential data on his laptops, transmits it over the Internet for storage on servers in the U.S., and wipes it from the computer before returning from any international trips, just in case officials decide to search or seize his equipment. He also encrypts his hard drive. And now, he says he is going to keep a "clone" of his MacBook at home so he will have an exact duplicate of it if it is ever seized.


6 points by blhack 4 days ago 6 replies      
Interestingly, I just had a discussion with my roomate about this. We were sitting in a coffee shop, and he was mad at himself because he forgot the latest copy of a game he is working on at the house...

Why is this a problem at all anymore? Hosting is cheaap. I have a linux VPS at linode that I pay $20/mo for and almost everything that i do is stored there. Honestly, the only things I can think of that aren't stored on that machine (which trades nightly rsyncs with another machine with a different provider and on a different network) are minecraft, my music collection, some photos, and a journal that I just started keeping a couple of weeks ago (gets encrypted with 256bit AES and lives in the home dir on my laptop).

My point is that there is absolutely no reason to keep anything on your local machine anymore, at least not ones that I can think of. Why not keep a server in the basement, and then just run SSH with X11 forwarding? Keep a cheap, disposable machine with you and if something like this happens, sell it and buy a new one.

It's really sad that this is even an issue, but I do think that there are solutions to it.

4 points by mmaunder 5 days ago 2 replies      
Border search exception (to the 4th amendment warrant requirement):


In a similar vein, check out Exigent Circumstance:


The text of the fourth amendment to the constitution:

"The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."

5 points by pavel_lishin 5 days ago 4 replies      
If I were him, I'd be tempted to make an image of his drive, and compare that to an image made after the agents tampered with it, to see what changes occurred in the process.

But like he said, he couldn't even trust them physically. I'd be tempted to just toss them in the trash, if I could afford to easily replace them.

1 point by alanh 4 days ago 0 replies      
Things like this, along with laptop theft, are excellent reasons to encrypt your home folder. This is pretty easy with built-in software on both Windows 7 & Mac OS X (and I'm sure common Linux distros).

One caveat is that encrypted home folders tend to take maybe 1.2- the space of an unencrypted home folder, so delete some videos & music if you're on an SSD or otherwise constrained HDD.

1 point by cakeface 4 days ago 0 replies      
I wonder if the government is targeting this hacker for his involvement in Whisper Systems, http://www.whispersys.com/. Their main products are easy to use encryption software for calls and texts on android smartphones. From what I can recall the gov really does not want ubiquitous encryption for voice communication in the US. It totally breaks down the whole wiretapping paradigm.
2 points by ahi 4 days ago 0 replies      
Seems like they buried the lede. In the simple minds of the Feds he was connected to the Wikileaks crew.
1 point by dalore 4 days ago 1 reply      
> “I can't trust any of these devices now,” says Marlinspike, who asked that Threat Level not report his real name. “They could have modified the hardware or installed new keyboard firmware.”

I thought when you get searched they have to keep your possessions within your view at all times.

1 point by lusis 4 days ago 1 reply      
I was a bit surprised by the fact that he didn't want his name revealed in the article. It's not like some people don't know who he is.
[edit] decided to respect Moxie's request in the article and remove a small bit of identifiable info
1 point by Super74 5 days ago 4 replies      
Let me get this straight. This is a person who has openly admitted to knowing how to hack banking systems among others, then travels to countries like Abu Dhabi and the Dominican Republic to present that information.

We are surprised that he is searched at the border to the US? He was treated politely, not physically harmed and had his hardware returned. Sounds like the government is finally doing their job.

Maybe there are "certain" people out there throwing his name around and the government was obligated to look into this.

I would not support gross negligence by our government and this sounds like normal procedure to me, given the extenuating circumstances.

1 point by ck2 4 days ago 0 replies      
If it took them "a few hours" then essentially they cloned the hard drive, sector based.
3 points by jwu711 5 days ago 1 reply      
That's completely ridiculous. Makes me want to travel even less now ...
1 point by husein10 4 days ago 0 replies      
A word of caution to those keeping data on 3rd party machines...


Also, note that this article is from 2007 and the law may have changed slightly since then.

1 point by Mithrandir 4 days ago 0 replies      

Moxie's awesome addon/proxy.

Berners-Lee: Facebook 'threatens' web future theregister.co.uk
169 points by raju 1 day ago   40 comments top 10
41 points by RyanMcGreal 1 day ago 6 replies      
Here's where the critique of Facebook gets interesting: we criticize it for creating a "closed silo of content" in which information is not represented in open URLs, while simultaneously criticizing it for not providing and enforcing strong, simple privacy controls.

I'm not being a smartass here: both of these issues concern me - to the point that I don't have a facebook account - but I'm not sure how to reconcile them in an internally consistent overarching critique.

11 points by hxa7241 1 day ago 1 reply      
It is not really Facebook particularly, it is a general problem.

There is a deep structural opposition between the internet and the corporate/commercial model of the last 200 years since the industrial revolution. With the internet, the essence is connection: in all shapes and directions. With the corporation, the essence is centralisation: broadcast product one way, concentrate money the other way.

The 'conical' structure of the corporation can exist in the network structure of the internet, but the more cone-like it is, the less network-like it is.

6 points by natrius 1 day ago 2 replies      
Here's a list of Berners-Lee's statements that are contradicted by http://graph.facebook.com:

"The sites assemble these bits of data into brilliant databases and reuse the information to provide value-added service"but only within their sites. Once you enter your data into one of these services, you cannot easily use them on another site."

"You can access a Web page about a list of people you have created in one site, but you cannot send that list, or items from it, to another site."

"The isolation occurs because each piece of information does not have a URI"

Except for email addresses of friends, a third-party site can access as much of a user's Facebook data as the user wants to make available. Statements to the contrary are common, but false.

7 points by petervandijck 1 day ago 2 replies      
I think the pendulum will swing back to open pretty soon, it kind of feels we're at the black end of closedness in terms of the social graph.

In fact, a great time to start new companies shooting for the social graph. Facebook executes fantastically, but they'll stumble.

3 points by rbarooah 1 day ago 0 replies      
He's wrong about not being able to link to song information on iTunes. That's been possible for about a year. What's interesting is that presumably this is because at a certain point (once they had secured the market) Apple found it more beneficial to expose this information to the web than to keep it behind a wall.

I wonder this will apply to Facebook too. Perhaps when they're secure enough to not worry if Google simply sucks out all their data, the benefits of being the central but open resource will outweigh the benefits of being a one way valve.

2 points by mgkimsal 1 day ago 0 replies      
"The sites assemble these bits of data into brilliant databases and reuse the information to provide value-added service"but only within their sites. Once you enter your data into one of these services, you cannot easily use them on another site. Each site is a silo, walled off from the others"

This has been pretty much every ecommerce site since the 90s. I didn't hear anyone clamoring that pets.com, drugstore.com or 1800flowers.com was going to threaten the future of the web. There's more to it than just that "data is siloed" issue. Most ecommerce sites don't have a network effect built-in - they deliver value to me regardless of how many other people use them.

There's the threat of inertia - people won't re-enter their information in to new systems as those systems are introduced. That's certainly a concern, but I really don't see it as a threat. AOL was king for years, and people were scared of them. Then MySpace. Now Facebook. I suspect as people grow up, the focus may move to something that's not yet developed. Certainly the game is Facebook's to lose right now, but I don't think they'll hold on forever.

Granted, I think Tim's point is not specifically facebook but the walled/siloed data sites in general. I also don't think those will ever go away.

2 points by earnubs 1 day ago 0 replies      
This reminds me of when the .mobi domain was described as a threat to the future of the web (http://www.w3.org/DesignIssues/TLD). While Facebook is much more of a thing than .mobi I'm pretty sure the end result will be the same, Facebook will come and go, the web will abide.
3 points by ankimal 1 day ago 2 replies      
"Cable television companies that sell internet connectivity are considering whether to limit their Internet users to downloading only the company's mix of entertainment,"

This is the big one for me and should also include mobile providers. For the web to promote real innovation and be truly "democratic", this mafia must be dismantled.

1 point by webXL 1 day ago 0 replies      
Before Facebook, couldn't I share and receive the same information over email? What if FB was a desktop email client that just made that really easy to do, like Flock for email? Would TBL or anyone care about such a silo?

If the value of the web is increasing faster than the value of Facebook, I think the web will survive... unless FB is deliberately trying to destroy the web, of course.

1 point by EGreg 1 day ago 0 replies      
Tim berners-lee is absolutely right.
We are getting too centralized.


You CAN have privacy and distributed.

Lichess - Don't register. Play Chess. lichess.org
168 points by Uncle_Sam 2 days ago   55 comments top 28
57 points by jambo 2 days ago 2 replies      
Please don't tell me Safari 5 is deprecated and ask me to "upgrade" to Firefox.
4 points by lionhearted 2 days ago 3 replies      
Disappointed. I got paired with a newbie who was screwing around.


The site, though, is beautiful and a joy to play on. My last online chess was at Yahoo Chess, and this feels like walking on air compared to Y! Chess's clunky interface. Beautiful site, very pleasing to use.

A nice feature to keep semi-serious players around would be some way to get scored or sorted, so you somewhat consistently can get decent matches. Overall I really like it though, cheers.

Edit: Got a full game in - http://lichess.org/bsba_b - I was black. Made some mistakes, I'm rusty. But the interface is really a joy, I like it a lot.

25 points by dxq 2 days ago 3 replies      
How to troll online chess:

1. Open up Chess.app

2. Turn CPU difficulty all the way up

3. Start lichess game as black

4. Mirror lichess opponent's moves into Chess.app

5. Mirror Chess.app opponent's moves into lichess

6. Talk incredible amounts of smack

10 points by RoboTeddy 2 days ago 1 reply      
Awesome! I love that Chess 960 (aka Fischer Random) is a prominent choice.

It's a variant of chess where the back rank with all the pieces on it are in a random order (although the board is mirrored, so each side has their pieces in the same order).

My brother is a strong chess player, but eventually gave up the game because to improve he was having to spend more and more time memorizing opening lines. With chess 960 there are 960 different starting positions, so memorization doesn't help at all. I hope it gets more popular, it's a more purely strategic and tactical than standard chess.

6 points by martincmartin 2 days ago 1 reply      
Anything similar for Go?
6 points by TeMPOraL 2 days ago 0 replies      
I was positively surprised by the fact that the site presented itself in my native language (polish) and it didn't suck. It's probably the first time ever I saw a site that autodetected a language and it actually felt nice. Not everything is translated though, and I hope you'll fix it one day :).
4 points by jensv 2 days ago 3 replies      
Here's a replay of me playing someone who outclasses and outplays me in every way but becomes overconfident and makes a careless mistake that costs him/her the game. I find it amusing because I don't imagine it being common for a weak player to beat a stronger opponent.


Once again I make no claim on my ability to play the game of chess. (I suck) This was more luck than anything but it's a good example of how you shouldn't give up/become too cocky before crossing the finish line.

5 points by greyman 2 days ago 1 reply      
I still prefer to download a standalone client and connect to FICS and choose time controls, opponents, etc...
3 points by PostOnce 2 days ago 1 reply      
A Lichess is a female Lich.

How many D&D scenarios have you play a game of chess against a Lich?

Sometimes, I feel it worthwhile to waste karma on these musings. Daydream more often.

3 points by colombian 2 days ago 1 reply      
I've been thinking about doing this for a while. There's so many times when I want to play a game of chess with a friend online, but don't want to take the time to register an account at any of the big chess sites.

My idea would have been a service where you click "New Game", it generates a unique link which you then give to your friend.

Anyways, incredibly well done.

2 points by melvinram 2 days ago 0 replies      
not bad but i prefer chess.com
2 points by cicada 2 days ago 0 replies      
This is nice. I was a little saddened that the replay and analyse option after games did not actually analyse games, but with the export I can download the games into my favourite chess engine and have it analyse the games for me.

[edit: noticed that there is a forum, don't go there. While someone occasionally posts an interesting game like http://lichess.org/analyse/0mbole the level of conversation is roughly what you'd expect from a 4chan /chess/ board.]

3 points by discipline 2 days ago 0 replies      
Did the server go down? I want to play against the machine, all I get is a page not found/404 page. I'm on Firefox.
1 point by earcar 1 day ago 0 replies      
1 point by zalew 2 days ago 0 replies      
I like it very much, it's fun to use, but do sth with the performance. At the moment "149 connected players" and it's hanging. It's 3rd game in a row for me when it's hanging once a few moves, now it's dead completely. Game over :(
1 point by Kilimanjaro 2 days ago 1 reply      
Love it! visuals are nice but can be improved. wooden board, 3D pieces etc.

Before matching players in a random game, ask for a level like novice, intermediate and pro.

I like the chess roulette idea...

2 points by chrisbroadfoot 1 day ago 0 replies      
I await chessroulette: lichess + video of your opponent.
2 points by Natsu 2 days ago 0 replies      
Nice, but I hit a bug where the other guy couldn't see my move. We both thought it was the other person's turn :(
1 point by ronnoch 2 days ago 0 replies      
This is one of those ideas I feel like I should have thought of.
2 points by KC8ZKF 2 days ago 0 replies      
How can you offer a draw?
2 points by lazyant 2 days ago 1 reply      
While I was playing I couldn't find the clock
1 point by kurumo 2 days ago 0 replies      
Not bad at all as far as interface goes, but their timer is buggy. In 5 0 it ate 15 seconds of my time, apparently due to lag.
A thought I had for a while: do analysis on games as they occur and try to estimate opponents' strength, as a way to detect cheating of the type where one of the players mimics a computer. Computationally expensive, but would be fun to try.
1 point by Natsu 2 days ago 0 replies      
Castling on the queen's side is very clunky. If you move the king two spaces, it should castle for you. It works just fine on the king's side, though.
3 points by arjn 2 days ago 0 replies      
Nice. I like not having to register. Thanks!!
1 point by cjbprime 1 day ago 0 replies      

> "Anonymous - The other player has left the game. You can force resignation, or wait for him."

Got sexism much?

1 point by InclinedPlane 1 day ago 0 replies      
Seems to be down now. :\
1 point by QuantumGood 2 days ago 1 reply      
Freechess.org lets you choose your interface, and has a ton of quality opponents.
2 points by phillco 2 days ago 0 replies      
Very nice!
Instapaper's backup method marco.org
161 points by hugoahlberg 3 days ago   42 comments top 14
26 points by joshu 3 days ago 1 reply      
on delicious, we had a thing that would serialize a user to disk for every day they were active. inactive users were not re-serialized.

this let us have day-to-day backups of individual users. this was necessary when broken clients would delete all the user's items. so we could easily restore an individual user (or do a historical recovery.)

10 points by ams6110 3 days ago 0 replies      
The scenario he presents of being able to recover from an unintentionally broad delete or update query would seem to only work in the simplest of databases. He says:

- Instantiate the backup (at its binlog position 259)
- Replay the binlog from position 260 through 999
- Replay the binlog from position 1001 through 1200
And you'll have a copy of the complete database if that destructive query had never happened.

This only works if the changes in positions 1001-1200 were unaffected by the undesired changes in position 1000. Seems rather unlikely to me, but maybe in the case of his particular schema it works out.

8 points by mseebach 3 days ago 4 replies      
It seems unnecessarily exposed to an event affecting Marco's home - fire, burglary, natural disaster etc. It would appear more prudent to back up to a cloud location. Either, as he mentions, S3, or a VPS somewhere.
17 points by lockesh 3 days ago 1 reply      
Anyone else find this scheme completely atrocious?

1. Relying on a home computer on the critical path for data backup and persistence for a business

2. Relying on a high latency, low quality networking path between the slave db and the 'home mac' rather than a more reliable link between two machines in a datacenter.

3. A poor persistence model for long lived backups

4. No easy way to programatically recover old backups

What's even more disturbing is that this isn't a new problem. Its not like we don't know how to backup databases. This solution seems very poorly though out.

5 points by bl4k 3 days ago 1 reply      
I don't think backing up the entire db to a laptop is a good idea, since laptops can get both lost and stolen. As somebody who uses the service, I am not super-comfortable with knowing that a full copy of my account and everything I save is sitting on a laptop somewhere.

It would be much better if these dumps were made to S3, or somewhere else that is actually in a secure datacenter (and a step that includes the word 'encryption').

4 points by rarrrrrr 3 days ago 0 replies      
FYI You could run either tarsnap or SpiderOak directly on the server for a prompt offsite backup. Both have excellent support for archiving many versions of a file, with de-duplication of the version stream, and no limits on how many historical versions are kept.

Also, "gzip --rsyncable" increases the compressed size by only about 1%, but makes deduplication between successive compressed dump files possible.

(I cofounded SpiderOak.)

5 points by rbarooah 2 days ago 0 replies      
Would the people who are upset that Marco is using his 'home' computer feel the same if he instead said it was at his office? Offices get broken into or have equipment stolen too - I'm not sure why people think this is so irresponsible given that he works from home now.
4 points by philfreo 3 days ago 0 replies      
I upvoted this not because I think personal laptops and Time Machine are a good process for db backups, but because making backups is still a huge pain and problematic area, so the more attention it gets, the better.
3 points by zbanks 3 days ago 1 reply      
That's really an amazing system. Super redundant.

A relatively easy boost, which he briefly mentioned, would be to also store the data in S3. That should be easy enough to be automated, which could provide a a somewhat-reliable off-site backup.

However, Instapaper has the benefit of a (relatively) small DB. 22GB isn't too bad.I don't know how well this would scale to a 222GB DB with proportionally higher usage rates. It'd be possible, but it would have to be simplified, no?

3 points by ludwigvan 2 days ago 1 reply      
[Disclaimer: Instapaper fan here, so my opinions might be biased. It is probably the application I love the most on my iPad and iPod Touch. Thanks Marco!]

Marco has recently left his position as the CEO of Tumblr; and I think concentrates on Instapaper much more than ever (I assume it was mostly a weekend project before, requiring simple fixes); therefore I have no doubt he will be making the service more reliable and better in the future (switch to S3 or similar).

Also, don't forget that Instapaper web service is currently free, although the iOS applications are not (There is a free lite version too.) There is a recently added subscription option (which AFAIK currently doesn't offer any additional thing); and I hope it will only make the service even better.

About security, I do not consider my Instapaper reading list as too confidential; so I don't have much trouble thinking the backup computer being stolen. Of course, your mileage might vary. As far as I know, even some accounts do not have passwords for Instapaper, you just login with your email address.

4 points by dcreemer 3 days ago 1 reply      
Are the primary and backup DBs in the same data center? If so, how would you restore from an "unplanned event" there? I ask because I faced that situation once years ago, and very quickly learned that uploading 10's of GB of data from an offsite backup will keep your site offline for hours.

In the end I ended up _driving_ a copy of the DB over to a data center. Adding a slaved-replica in another location is pretty easy these days.

1 point by konad 2 days ago 0 replies      
I just dump data into Venti and dump my 4gb Venti slices encrypted to DVD and keep an encrypted copy of my vac scores distributed around my systems.

If you're doing full dumps every few days, you're doing it wrong.

1 point by japherwocky 3 days ago 0 replies      
are those binlogs timestamped? what wonderful graphs you could make!
1 point by hugoahlberg 2 days ago 0 replies      
Marco has now updated his system with automatic S3 backup: http://www.marco.org/1630412230
SSH scans - I caught one seclists.org
160 points by mcgin 4 days ago   67 comments top 13
39 points by mrshoe 4 days ago 1 reply      
I was the victim of an SSH scan once. I set up an old box as a dev server in my apartment for a project course in college. I was in a group of about 12 students. One of them whose username was robert set his password to robert (a brilliant move).

We only realized the machine was compromised because the interloper decided to pick two user accounts at random and delete them (another brilliant move).

Upon investigation I found that a keylogger had been installed in order to discover the root password. I inspected the output of the keylogger to trace the attacker's steps. Similar to the SSH scan in the article, the attacker had logged into his own FTP server to download various scripts and crackers. Well, the keylogger had logged his FTP password as well (whoops). Naturally I logged in and deleted absolutely everything in sight. :-P

10 points by runjake 4 days ago 0 replies      
Lots of needless clutter in the discussion, so I thought I'd drop a quick comment with clarifications:

1. As far as I can tell, this specific attack is meant to target MIPS-based OpenWRT/DD-WRT devices, like the Linksys WRT series.

2. lsof and all that crap isn't available by default. So, use 'ps' and 'netstat -a', and 'ls -la /var/tmp' to poke around your router.

3. Go into the web admin interface and disable sshd on the WAN interface, if it isn't already (it's off by default). In DD-WRT, go to Administration->Management-> and ensure "SSH management" is disabled.

6 points by DanielBMarkham 4 days ago 1 reply      
Looks like it tracks to a server/VPS place in The Netherlands

Wonder if he followed-up with the hosting service by reporting the address as being used in an attack. It would be interesting to turn the tables and listen in on some of his traffic going to that address.

10 points by WestCoastJustin 4 days ago 1 reply      
Interesting idea. Reading through the threads it becomes apparent that the attackers are targeting home wired/wifi routers. The attacker sits on your gateway and passively monitors your traffic with you being none the wiser!
4 points by iuguy 4 days ago 2 replies      
The correct way to address this is not to rely on fail2ban or start moving ports around (although these will remove noise from your logs, they shouldn't be solely relied upon) but to use public key authentication. It's not hard to set up and once you disable password authentication support on OpenSSH then the scans can try all they like, but they're not getting anywhere.


3 points by udp 4 days ago 0 replies      
A friend had me look at a server that had been compromised by SSH bruteforce a few months ago. The intruder was using it as an IRC bouncer, and he was a romanian named Alexino.

I actually found him on the IRC network, and he tried to get me to pay him to tell me how he got in :)

1 point by hackermom 4 days ago 0 replies      
There will always be the usual crowd of "conservatives-just-for-the-sake-of-being-conservative" crying out whenever this advice is given, but here goes: if possible in your environment, and for your users, just run your SSHd on a non-standard port, and the problem of automated scans will be a non-problem.
2 points by akkartik 4 days ago 0 replies      
1 point by iuguy 4 days ago 0 replies      
I've seen similar things come up before on HN and on mailing lists I'm on. Rather than keep repeating myself whenever this crops up, I've posted here: http://www.minklinks.com/weblog/2010/11/19/practical-guide-s...
2 points by burgerbrain 4 days ago 1 reply      
This gentleman is illegally hosting my tools, which are copyrighted and not licensed for redistribution. Just because I try to pwn your box doesn't mean you have the right to violate my copyrights. Expect to hear from my lawyers.
2 points by rasur 4 days ago 0 replies      
That's really quite sad - are the script kidiots hoping to take over a bunch of SGI's?

edit: I stand corrected..

1 point by adam0101 2 days ago 0 replies      
I blocked all of China and my logs decreased 65%.
-1 point by devmonk 4 days ago 4 replies      
cd /var/tmp;

When I see things like this it makes me think that if standard paths weren't used, then it would it at least make things a little more interesting for the hacker. (They'd have to find a location first.)

Gtk3 on a HTML5 backend gnome.org
154 points by biehl 7 hours ago   25 comments top 14
9 points by kragen 5 hours ago 2 replies      
Does anyone else remember the X11 browser plugin? It was an X server that ran as a plugin in Netscape and IE, with a little bit of magic ("xrx") to handle authentication to the web server. So you could visit a web page and start running, say, FrameMaker in your browser.

There's a guide to getting it set up still alive at http://www.csn.ul.ie/~caolan/TechTexts/Broadway.html

This was in 1996, in the X11R6.3 release ("Broadway"), the same release they came out with LBX, the low-bandwidth extension to X, so that you could run your X11 apps over a modem with reasonable throughput.

It never got much adoption. I don't really know why. My guess, though, is that it didn't address the real reasons people were moving from X11 to browser apps: server load, security, ease of administration, latency-tolerance, and ease of development.

Today, server load and latency tolerance are a lot less important than they were in 1996, because computers are a hundred times faster and hundreds of millions of people have ping times under 20 milliseconds, ten times faster than you'd get on a modem.

But security, ease of administration, and ease of development are a lot more important now than they were in 1996.

So, I suspect this won't get widely adopted, but it could go either way. I hope it does!

5 points by sedachv 5 hours ago 0 replies      
(re-posting my comment from the blog because I want to hear people's opinion)

This is extremely useful for getting apps written for the desktop to run on the browser for remote access and virtualization.

I don't know if there are any companies with GTK3 desktop apps that need this right now, but for the past six months I've been working on doing exactly the same thing for JazzScheme (http://jazzscheme.org/). JazzScheme has its own widget set and UI library that runs on top of Cairo. Instead of sending bitmap data across I'm providing a thin indirection layer on top of Cairo surface and HTML 5 canvas (they're almost identical in terms of drawing commands).

We're using it for a pretty involved business app that needs a desktop version. Doing a web version any other way would have been a complete nightmare.

9 points by fab13n 6 hours ago 0 replies      
If this turns into a complete and mature implementation, I won't miss anything when Ubuntu drops X11 next year, quite the opposite!
4 points by DanielRibeiro 6 hours ago 1 reply      
Now this is getting serious. I was considering porting xul for web apps (with the default and obvious coffeescript dsl, so that no xml verbosity would be needed), but gtk3 is even more outstanding. Any idea when it will be out?
3 points by pixelbath 6 hours ago 2 replies      
It looks cool, but (and please forgive my ignorance in this subject)...

Isn't this the sort of thing X was built for? Client rendering, but the underlying app in a remote server? How is rendering this in the browser more useful/cool?

(edit: typo)

2 points by drivebyacct2 4 hours ago 0 replies      
I was just lying on the couch thinking about this idea. Well, I have much larger, grander idea that is a mix of Palm/HP's new Mocha platform and some play at ubiquitous interfaces and data powering apps on many devices simultaneously. I was thinking though, that some of the frontends for rtorrent look neat, but still fail to look native.

What if the browser exposed the GTK resources and allowed web applications to render using the same visual components as native applications on the platform. That'd be sweeet.

1 point by albertzeyer 3 hours ago 2 replies      
The technical description:

Each toplevel window is mapped to a canvas element, and the content in the windows is updated by streaming commands over a multipart/x-mixed-replace XMLHttpRequest that uses gzip Content-Encoding to compress the data. Window data is pushed as region copies (for scrolling) and image diffs. Images are sent as data: uris of uncompressed png data.

Input is gathered via dom events and sent to the server using websockets.

This doesn't really sound that impressive. It's kind of cool and you could also do the same and port some RDP or VNC client over which would be even cooler. But I don't really feel that this is the way to go. It would be much nicer if the native HTML widgets would be used.

2 points by cpr 5 hours ago 0 replies      
This actually makes some sense (if I understand it correctly), vs. a VNC client solution in a browser.

You can, in theory, use the higher-level hints given at the toolkit level to optimize the bits sent for each toolkit API invocation.

3 points by xtacy 5 hours ago 1 reply      
The GTK ports on Mac are pretty bad looking. This would make them awesomer again!
2 points by olalonde 4 hours ago 0 replies      
How come is the UI so responsive (much more than what I'm used to with remote X sessions)? Is it because both the app and the HTTP server run on the same machine?
2 points by mwg66 6 hours ago 1 reply      
I can think of potential use cases similar to what 280 North are doing with Atlas and Cappuccino.

Check out http://280atlas.com/

1 point by emehrkay 6 hours ago 0 replies      
Didn't some people do this with VNC a few months back? Either way, this is damn cool.
1 point by travisglines 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Thats awesome, I'm more than a little jealous I didn't think of that.
1 point by vib 5 hours ago 0 replies      
"Each toplevel window is mapped to a canvas element"
Does this means it's not crawl-able, or is it?
Why the 8 Hour Workday Doesn't Make Sense theskooloflife.com
152 points by lifestyleigni 4 days ago   100 comments top 25
38 points by grellas 4 days ago 5 replies      
There is no magic to working 8 hours every day or any other number for that matter.

Before the industrial revolution, most people were farmers. They got up at sunrise and typically worked long, hard days in the fields - workdays that were not circumscribed by any arbitrary time limit but rather defined by whatever it took to deal with the exigencies of each day.

The 8-hour day, as some sort of idealized goal, came about as a direct result of the industrial revolution. With people moving to cities and taking up factory work, reformers began to characterize such work situations as exploitative, particularly of children but also of adults in terms of length of hours worked in physically demanding situations. The answer for reformers lay in having governments prescribe maximum normative work periods, with anything in excess of the prescribed maximum being deemed extraordinary and warranting extraordinary compensation. Hence, in America, we eventually got the 8-hour day and the 40-hour week. (See, e.g., http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eight-hour_day for an overview).

I don't think "corporate America" has any particular stake in the 8-hour day. If anything, employers would undoubtedly want to have the power to shape the work schedules of employees in more flexible ways, especially by being able to freely demand longer work hours at normal compensation as a condition of continued employment. Of course, this would require repeal of the wage-and-hour laws that today proscribe any such thing. My point, though, is that it is those laws and not any scheme by employers that keeps the 8-hour structure in place as the normative work environment.

Bottom line: given pure freedom of contract, people could work any schedules they want and, in fact do so (that is what it means to be in business for yourself); however, given the problems arising from pure freedom of contract, the law imposes rigid limits deemed beneficial from a societal perspective on what may be expected of employees. That, I believe (and, I don't think, any other major factor), is what requires most people to work 8-hour schedules as their normative workday, at least in the U.S.

On a final note: the typical startup environment is really a throwback to the freedom of farming days because, in the earliest stages, there basically are no formal employees but rather just founders working round-the-clock like madmen for what might often be described as "below dirt wages," and, in later stages, there are large numbers of "exempt" engineers who are not subject to the overtime rules and hence who are also working insane hours - thus, not too many 8-hour days in your prototypical startup. I don't think most of the participants regard this as exploitation, probably because most of it is self-driven, i.e., most such people want to drive themselves hard in order to succeed.

42 points by amalcon 4 days ago 4 replies      
I happen to agree with the premise, but really, this is not a well-stated case.

But thousands, if not millions of people commute to work every single day.

Come on. Thousands, if not millions? They say that the number of people in Manhattan alone increases by a million during the day. More importantly, though, this has absolutely nothing to do with the 8 hour workday.

You still need to travel from wherever you live to wherever you do your work; the only way to solve this is to move those places closer together (maybe even to the same place).

In fact, I'm willing to bet that most people aren't doing anything for 40% of the working week.

Assuming that this is true, there are a variety of alternate hypotheses. For example, this problem is pretty much exclusive to knowledge workers. Perhaps knowledge workers need "breaks" just as physical laborers do, but because the culture discourages it, they invent their own "breaks".

Today, human creativity is at an all time high because less and less people are working in offices.

This is self-contradictory: either human creativity is at an all-time high, or it's reduced by working in offices. After all, there was a time when nobody worked in offices. I'd wager that the proportion of humans who work in offices is actually increasing, even if you only look at Western cultures. Of course, I'd hardly say that human creativity is at an all-time high either (even for Western cultures alone, that was during the Renaissance).

15 points by ulf 4 days ago 4 replies      
"Unhappiness: It seems that the typical 9to5er is living for the weekends. Radio stations say things like “it's hump day, you're almost there.” Almost where? Why are we constantly trying to get a destination other than where we're at?"

This is an interesting point that I realized myself not long ago. A lot of people want to get from weekend to weekend, from vacation to vacation. It is a great escape. Their everyday lives somehow seem not very worth living to them. What I find amazing is how many people admittedly live that way, instead of changing something about their everyday life (especially work). Regarding the percentage of our awake time that we work over the course of our lives, it cannot be very healthy to say: Come saturday everything will be alright.

10 points by prosa 4 days ago 4 replies      
Would you be willing to work 50% fewer hours, for 50% less pay?

Most employers are willing to soak up the waste, in order to have access to their staff throughout the work day. And most employees are eager to get the extra pay, even if they aren't spending the extra hours productively.

As an entrepreneur, I would love a 20 hour a week job that paid $40K a year -- it would provide financial stability and free time, allowing me to bootstrap businesses indefinitely. Most people aren't looking for that type of position, however. They're looking to maximize take-home pay.

5 points by icegreentea 4 days ago 2 replies      
How does commuting fit in this? The problem of commuting is related to the fact that majority of commuting is synchronized to within 2 ~2-3 hour periods. As long as we have this happening, the 'naive' argument is that commuting actually argues for longer work days with less days of work. 4x10 or something, so the travel:work ratio is better.

Even a more flexible work schedule (for everyone) is not necessarily the solution. The fact that most people will be working during the day will mean that there will always been surges ~8-10 and ~4-6. It might lessen it's effect, but it'll still be there, and after the initial adjustment period, will seem every bit as unproductive and annoying.

Commuting isn't going to get better unless a very large percentage switches to work at home, or lives within walking/biking distance of their workplace, or everyone accepts some great overlord who coordinates everyone's travel and work time to minimize peak traffic (I'm sure the relevant algorithms already exist).

8 points by iantimothy 4 days ago 1 reply      
Inefficiency - "You should blame the system that forced you to work within the structure of the 8 hour work day."

When you are expected to work 8 hours a day, the problem is not that you fill your time with useless shit and then become unproductive.

The problem is that you feel like you need to demonstrate or show to the world that you're doing work for the whole 8 hours, or more specifically, you need to show that you're not slacking off for too long.

So, let's take programmers as an example. I've had colleagues who alt-tab A LOT. Basically, 15 minutes in the IDE, tab out, 5 minutes of chatting. 15 minutes back to the IDE, 5 minutes back to browsing. For a 8 hour day, that's 75% of the time working. Good right? NO.

Context switching is expensive. A large part of the 15 minutes of work in the IDE is resetting the frame of mind to work.

Now why do people context switch. Simple. Micro-management from project managers, team leaders, bosses ...

If I, as a team leader, look over at your screen and see you surfing the net for 1 full hour, I'll get pissed. But if you alt-tab a lot, there is a good chance when I'm spying over your shoulder, you're on the IDE. Good worker!

I hate it. Which is why when I had my own team, I told my guys, you want to surf, sure, spend as long as you want. But when you code, focus on the coding for a full X amount of time. So, I tell them, you want a break, surf for 30 minutes. But make sure you get full one and a half hours of coding done first. Plan what you need to do, tell the team what you aim to achieve, and do it.

I also find that when people don't need to pretend to work, and can rest in peace chatting, surfing, they tend to be less stress.

Another example, sleeping in the office is a big no-no. So what do people do? They run off to the stairs to sleep. Or to the toilet. Ridiculous. If my guy has been pulling all nighters, I think it is perfectly fine for him to rest his head on the desk for a while.

5 points by sp4rki 4 days ago 0 replies      
The system is broken by this need to have everyone available at one specific time frame. The best experiences I've had working for tech companies is when the culture is basically "We don't care if you come in or not, or when you work, just get stuff done." Of course there's a few exceptions, for example if a in-person meeting is required, everyone is expected to attend (unless you're in a different area/country, in which case just use video chat to 'be there').

When I'm on a roll I don't want to stop working, as a matter of fact, I once got to the office at 6am (I avoided traffic commuting at this time) on a Monday and left at 2pm Thursday. Although I didn't sleep at all, which was not a healthy thing to do, not only did I finish a three week task in 80 hours, but I ended up automating a bunch of processes, and fixing a bunch of bugs. I easily did a months work (probably more) in that time frame. Not only was I awarded a bonus, but I was expected not to work for a 15 days, of course I was till being payed as if I were still working. In contrast, I've had days where the only productive time I've had are two or three hours, and that's OK to, as long as you're reaching your goals.

4 points by rythie 4 days ago 0 replies      
Employees want to earn the same amount every month and everything in their life is based on that, rent/mortgage, bills, loans etc. Employers end up meeting this need by making employees work a set amount of hours a month. People typically can't deal with less or more money a month in sensible way. Sometimes there isn't much for employees to do, but that's a risk the employer either takes or should fix. Some employers have a flexitime system to ease this a little.

The 9-5 is a result of those factors and there are alternatives, start a product business or do freelance work.

5 points by TorKlingberg 4 days ago 3 replies      
Sorry if this is a little off topic, but I have always wondered when Americans talk about working 9-5 for 8 hour days. Does that mean you get paid for lunch time? Or do you not eat lunch?

Swedish also work 8 hours days (or slightly less), but lunch hour is not included. Programmers, even at big companies, generally get to choose which 8 hours. 7-4, 8-5, 9-6, 10-7, either is fine.

21 points by space-monkey 4 days ago 2 replies      
Henry Ford found that his factory workers were more productive per week at 40 hours than 48 hours. It's not a big surprise that what worked in his factory isn't ideal for every job almost a century later.
5 points by aneth 4 days ago 2 replies      
From years of consulting I'm always surprised when I feel like I've worked a full day over 8 hours, but am only billing an honest 5-6. Distractions, life responsibilities, break time, etc. all mean 8 hours is not 8 hours. I do think most employers know this and it's acceptable - after all salaried employees are not paid by the hour and being there can be as important for overall productivity as it is for the same person to be individually productive.

Personally I'd be in favor of a 4 day 10 hour work week. I think it could be similarly productive, cuts down on commute time, and yields a better quality of life.

8 points by hasenj 4 days ago 2 replies      
In most Arab countries, the typical work cycle is 6 hours per day, 6 days a week. Recently it shrank to 5 days a week; I'm not sure if the hours-per-day increased.

Typically it was from 8 to 2.

The same goes for school. High school (IIRC) was from 7 to 1, or something like that.

2 points by InclinedPlane 4 days ago 0 replies      
Within the past few generations, physical labor jobs have diminished while knowledge worker jobs have risen. Along with that, more and more knowledge worker jobs have become creative.

The traditional norms of working hours, work environment, management techniques, etc. established from past eras where physical labor dominated work are no longer relevant (and in some cases actively harmful) when it comes to knowledge work and especially artistic and creative work. Worse yet, many people do not appreciate or acknowledge the creative nature of many of these new jobs (software development being an excellent example).

As a result most working environments for a lot of modern creative work are wholly dysfunctional. Is it any wonder then why job churn is so incredibly high in the tech sector? If you're working in a dysfunctional environment then you are much more likely to switch jobs for a little extra pay or merely for a change.

Unfortunately, a lot of labor law is also very heavily biased toward physical labor as the model for all work. It'll take a very long time for these biases, bad traditions, and legal hindrances to be replaced by systems that actually work.

10 points by zavulon 4 days ago 3 replies      
So what's the alternative? I don't think the author is offering any ...
3 points by dinedal 4 days ago 1 reply      
This is good brouhaha down with the man confirmation bias feeding writing, but...

-The commute has nothing to do with the work day. If you work less or more, you still have to commute to get there to do the work.

-The author presents no alternative, except hints at the digital nomadic work style. If you're going to try to dismantle a structure that, as written in the article, has kept big business in America running for so long, please provide a reasonable sounding alternative so if we agree with you we can do something about it.

3 points by Pyrodogg 4 days ago 1 reply      
Looking at the 8-hour day from the inside, employee, perspective is one thing. But it's not the only one.

There is another reason for the 8 hour workday, maintaining real-time business-to-business interactions with a single shift workforce.

An expectation has been built up that businesses will be open from 9-5. This allows businesses to handle person to person interactions on an expected schedule. As a rule, if you need to contact someone for business you call them during this time.

Some companies can do with the delayed response form of email but phone and face-to-face conversations still hold weight in non software centric companies.

Some companies might establish their own culture, between a limited number of parties they interact with. However, if businesses at large started shifting their hours all over the place it would make things very confusing for a new player to establish business with them.

2 points by lukeqsee 4 days ago 1 reply      
> What's amazing is that if we started to rethink the 8 hour workday in terms of a person's creative capacity, instead of the number of hours they work, we may possibly tap into the best work that every individual has inside of them.

So he means we are now going to judge people by their output. Objectively. Like pay them for work produced, not time spent "working."

That's a great idea in theory.

What about the lazy, handicapped, and less-than-full-potential people? (I'm not at all clumping them as all equally bad.) They won't be able to produce as much, at least initially, and consequently receive less pay. Just wait until the ACLU hears about it.

We have a 9 to 5 structure because anybody can show up for 8 hours a day. If we don't change our value structure, our workday will never change.

2 points by jonnathanson 4 days ago 0 replies      
An interesting, but crucial aside: who still works a classic, 8 hour workday? It seems like an anachronism this day and age, at least in my experience. While companies technically demand 40 hours per week and no more, most corporate cultures unofficially pressure employees into 10 or even 12 hour days. 8 to 7 has been pretty typical of many of the firms for which I've worked. Sometimes those hours are extended on either end; sometimes they're condensed. But they're always more than 8 hours.
1 point by hoprocker 4 days ago 0 replies      
The 8-hour workday is in large part due to the efforts of the labor movement at the turn of the last century. Prior to that, 10- or 12-hour days weren't uncommon or legally restricted. Subsequent to the initial reduction to 8 hours in workday hours, it was thought that the trend would continue. Robert Levine touches on the 8-hour workday in his book _A Geography of Time_, where he briefly describes W.K. Kellogg's initiative in the 1930's to reduce the workday to 6 hours at his Michigan factory. He felt that hard work would replace long hours. According to Levine, "For nearly two decades, by nearly every yardstick, Kellogg's brainchild worked brilliantly"[1]. It only met its doom after WWII, when, as a result of a policy linking higher productivity to increased wages, workers began demanding eight hours again to increase their overall income.

1. Robert Levine, _A Geography of Time_, p141.

1 point by dspeyer 4 days ago 0 replies      
Does anyone know the context this was written from? No sense compared to a 10 hour work day? 6 hour? Roughly 8 hours a day broken up as convenient? However long it takes to get a well-measured hunk of work done?

The article doesn't really mean anything without this.

2 points by safij 4 days ago 0 replies      
8 hour work day is an INDUSTRIALIZED style of working, doesn't apply anymore in many areas, like conditions necessary for making software.
1 point by jk8 3 days ago 0 replies      
According to this page http://eh.net/encyclopedia/article/whaples.work.hours.us In the 1800 americans worked seventy hours or more per week
2 points by DanI-S 4 days ago 0 replies      
I barely remember what it is like to only work 8 hours a day...
1 point by kapitalx 4 days ago 0 replies      
This article is merely stating the problem and not suggesting any alternatives or solutions.
-1 point by micah63 4 days ago 1 reply      
Clearly, he does not have any kids...
       cached 24 November 2010 05:04:01 GMT