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Sacked by a Google algorithm duckworksmagazine.com
665 points by seanalltogether 5 days ago   282 comments top 53
69 points by patio11 5 days ago replies      
So, as an AdWords advertiser, here is my experience when someone gets "creative" with ways to encourage their audience to click on my ads:

1) I see a sudden spike in my daily spend and think "Yay, I'm going to get more customers!"

2) I go to Analytics and see a wave of people who spent seconds on the website and did not convert to the trial.

3) Google bills my credit card for hundreds of dollars.

This has actually happened, although the specific incentive to click fraud was different. I was sixteen flavors of pissed.

Google keeping me unpissed is worth $10,000 a year. I'm a wee little customer. The whackamole sites are worth a few tens of dollars a year when behaving normally. What do you expect Google to do?

101 points by arn 5 days ago replies      
...long story...

Oh yes, I was also running little blocks of adverts provided by Adsense and, yes, I told my subscribers that I got some money if they visited the websites of those advertisers " all of whom were interested in selling stuff to sailors.

...long story...

In the end it was click-fraud-ish.

There's a huge fear for those dependent on google adsense that they will get terminated out of the blue like this. The problem is, there's no great alternative. But instructing your visitors in some way to click on your ads does cross the line.

66 points by alex_c 5 days ago 3 replies      
Seems like part of the problem is that YouTube revenue is tied together to revenue from AdSense for websites, even though the two services are affected by click fraud differently. Now Google is still making money from the author's popular YouTube videos, and he won't see a penny.

The "correct" response would be to pull all his videos from YouTube, move them to a competing service, and write Google to let them know why. Of course, this would unfortunately mean traffic would drop close to zero... (what's the closest competitor to YouTube right now?)

52 points by mcyger 5 days ago 4 replies      
For as many articles that there are about how great, smart, [fill in another positive adjective] Google is, I'm surprised that no news source has pointed out the ridiculous behavior of Google.

Who else would you work with (i.e., display advertising for) without having the ability to speak to someone by telephone when a difficult situation has occurred? None of our customers would tolerate this -- why do we continue to allow Google to get away with it?

I'm not saying this author is right or deserving of the revenue (I don't have all the details or facts), but what is clear is that he has:
1. Earned Google a good bit of revenue
2. Appears earnest
3. Deserves to interact with a real human in a real way (not by automated emails without the ability to reply)

Why aren't more people appalled by Google's actions and the way they treat their partners?!

24 points by rebooter 5 days ago 2 replies      
I've had my run-in with Google AdSense in the past. My prediction: If they don't change their ways this is headed to a huge class-action lawsuit and nothing but bad press.

My experience was interesting and revealing. I had a bunch of domains (about 200) parked with GoDaddy in something called "cash parking". Not a money maker, but, what the heck. Once I realized that this was actually a service provided by Google I decided to look into cutting-out the middle man.

I looked into AdSense and found AdSense for Domains. Exactly the same service being offered by GoDaddy. I took all 200-some domains off GoDaddy, created an AdSense account and parked all of them with Google. They approved every single domain name and put ads on them. Great.

Two days later I get this email about fraudulent activity and the termination of my AdSense account. I appealed. No love. So, the termination was, effectively, forever.

Here's the irony of this story. The same 200 domains had been parked with GoDaddy for months without any issues. Serviced by Google. They even made a few bucks for all involved. The domains were not advertised in any way anywhere. I just parked them and went on with my business. This means that Google was responsible for sending traffic to these sites, every bit of it. About 50 of the domains were political in nature. Being that this was around election time my guess is that they got more traffic than usual, and, I guess, hits. I'll never know because the account was killed within two days of being formed with no data provided whatsoever.

So: Google sends traffic to the sites. The sites get clicks. They close my AdSense account. No appeal, no recourse, no human being to speak to. Bullshit!

Google needs to get sued in a major way to "reset" some of their behaviors. Why? Because they are a de-facto monopoly. Search is dominated by them. Video (YouTube) is dominated by them. Advertising (AdWords and AdSense) is dominated by them.

They do not provide for any intelligent way to deal with problems. They will tell you that you've done something wrong but will NOT provide proof, details nor an opportunity to rectify the problem. A likely scenario is that of someone just getting started who makes a few mistakes and needs to learn. Google does not provide for any of the above. They are judge, jury and executioner and a pretty mean one at that.

This fellow with the boat site probably deserved a slap on the hand for his site. He did no deserve to loose ALL OF HIS INCOME. They could have easily said something like:

"Your site-based per-click revenue is now 10% of normal during a probation period. These are the things you did wrong: link. Here's where you can see the activity and what happened: link. Here are the rules you need to pay attention to: link. The account will be monitored and your earnings percentage slowly increased as we see that these violations are rectified. We look forward to a continued relationship with <company name>".

...A far better approach.

If you are going to shut down someones entire revenue stream you need to have a humane and reasonable process to review the situation and seek resolution rather than hitting someone over the head with a sledge-hammer.

I don't know what will trigger this lawsuit. I do think that it is almost inevitable. They might even need to be broken into different verticals in order to make it all fair. I think they are playing a dangerous game. I think they are playing with fire.

The Google "do no evil" thing may have been a nice idea. However, as it pertains to AdWords/AdSense they are headed straight for evil-land if they keep on this path.

There's another topic: Google censorship. I think that, because they are a monopoly, they don't have the right to censor. They can't be in charge of what is and isn't appropriate on the web. Different issue.

23 points by joshklein 5 days ago 1 reply      
Relying on Google, or any other single source, for your income is the same as having an employer. This is just as true whether you run a Youtube channel or have a multimillion dollar B2B business with only one client (aka "boss").

Being in the content game is the easy part of the equation; ad sales is the hard part. You can take the easy road and join a network, making pennies on the dollar and potentially getting "sacked" by an algorithm, or you can pound the pavement and sell some ads to people. They're more profitable, you diversify your income, but it's not easy.

15 points by dusklight 5 days ago 2 replies      
Ok this is obviously only one side of the story and the guy who is writing it is obviously a good writer? He knows how to manipulate the emotions of the reader with stuff like losing money right before christmas, which he keeps talking about over and over again even though that is entirely irrelevant to the facts of the case.

What we have here is,

Google says he is click frauding.

He says he is not click frauding.

The real problem is, maybe Google is right and this guy is a click frauder. We don't really know because Google shows no proof, holds no trial, allows no mediated appeal. As a company, not a government, they can get away with that. But as companies get larger and larger what is the difference between a company and a government?

7 points by alanh 5 days ago 1 reply      
I'm realt glad this story is getting told. Bumping up against Google's machine-enforced, unfair rules is easier to do honestly than you may think " and it's a terribly cold, hopeless, impersonal, recourseless, unfair experience. Imagine 1950s automatons running a bureaucracy. It's like that. «I'm-sorry-sir-my-programming-indicates-you-are-a-fraudulent-user.»

From TFA:

I also spent a lot of time on line finding out why people get thrown out of the Adsense scheme and discovered that Google has three sets of rules you can break:

1. The ones in the very long contract that I confess I did not read very carefully

2. The rules that they try to explain in their many pages of Questions and Answers and FAQs

3. The rules they do not tell you about because they are secret and deal with their algorithms

11 points by jeromec 5 days ago 1 reply      
Before everyone jumps all over Google remember there are two sides to every story, and this is told completely from the perspective of the account holder, which should show him in the best light, but still appears he both encouraged ad clicks and had knowledge people were following through on this.
11 points by futuremint 5 days ago 0 replies      
He should start stopping at all of the little ports, marinas & marine supply stores on his way and tell them about his website.

He should then offer them direct advertisements on his website. Sounds like the ads were actually effective.

An ad buyer would of course want to do pay per sale instead of pay per click given the site's history :)

44 points by iwwr 5 days ago 2 replies      
The disease of PayPalism is spreading.
7 points by blinkingled 5 days ago 1 reply      
He does mention this though - "I did get the odd subscriber sending me an email saying that he had clicked loads of adverts. This is called demon clicking. I would reply that I would prefer them to only click on adverts they were interested in."

And then there is reference in the article to another commenter mentioning the same in the comments which he then edited to remove.

Sounds like there was at least a reason to suspect - sad if the users did that on their own and he had to suffer due to their actions but I find it hard to believe strangers will do this for making another stranger money.

27 points by ecaroth 5 days ago 0 replies      
Damn.. that's a disheartening story. Hope this article gets enough publicity to get Google's hound dogs on the trail, maybe get him some of his earnings back.. AT LEAST re-instate his youtube adsenes account.

Bad PR for google.. too bad you hear stories like this all the time.

11 points by byteclub 5 days ago 1 reply      
The Google giveth and The Google taketh away... Moral of the story: diversify your income stream as much as you can. I don't know much about advertising world, but it seems that AdSense is a bit of monopoly, and that sucks.

Random idea for a biz opportunity here: A service that insures content providers against AdSense account termination by routing all of the clicks through a filter to prevent "overeager" clicking by your fans, in exchange for a small fee. If your AdSense account is terminated, you'll be paid for it (just like if your car is totaled, your insurance company pays for it)

14 points by lynx44 5 days ago 3 replies      
This sucks, but telling your visitors to click on ads indirectly is a clear violation of the ToS.

I too got fired by Google's algorithm and didn't do anything whatsoever wrong. They are heartless.

Worse of all, this article does not mention the monopoly they have. They own the online ad market. No one else exists that is anywhere as good.

It's straight-up monopoly, and if you get on their black list, you're out.

4 points by wildmXranat 5 days ago 1 reply      
Tough luck. Yes, that might come across as crass, but did they bother reading Google's terms of service? So they will bitch and moan about it, try the appeal process and not a dent will be made in their case.

What it boils down to is: if you rely on those earnings to sustain your business, guard against anything that tosses you into a suspicious category. And that is a moving target as well.

I do empathize with him, as I had to toil through AdSense appeal process, but that means diddly-squat.

4 points by locopati 5 days ago 1 reply      
So basically, Google has written the rules so they can call you on it at any time and if they deem they're paying you too much money, they kill your account? Seems to weigh the playing field pretty heavily in their favor - they're getting the benefits of your direction of traffic to their advertisers, while reserving the right to arbitrarily kill your revenue. Given their more-or-less monopoly status on search (80% or more - too lazy to check the stats), this should probably be investigated by the FTC or DOJ.
10 points by epoxyhockey 5 days ago 2 replies      
Selling Android apps in the Market? It's linked to AdSense too. So, if Google kills your website for AdSense abuse, you also won't get paid for your apps which are selling for $0.99.

If you get banned from web AdSense, you also get banned from Youtube and from selling apps in the Android Market.

That's an ugly monopoly.

(edit) source: http://www.google.com/support/forum/p/AdSense/thread?tid=590...

8 points by ryanto 5 days ago 3 replies      
I don't get why everyone is so upset at Google here? The guy admits to committing click fraud and then gets shut down. As someone who spends a bit of money on adwords I am pretty happy to see Google is active in enforcing these policies.
5 points by fossuser 5 days ago 3 replies      
It's too bad what happened to him and it doesn't seem fair in this context, but shouldn't there be a reasonable expectation that people who are relying on advertising revenue from google at least read the terms of service? I know it's something that I would make sure I was aware of.
18 points by irinotecan 5 days ago 3 replies      
Moral of the story: Don't make too much ad revenue with AdSense or you will be accused of click fraud, and have no recourse.
5 points by kellysutton 5 days ago 2 replies      
Based on personal experiences, it appears that any two parties doing business under an "American" contract are at any time probably in violation of several clauses of said contract. When the waters get a little rough, you can expect the party with the most leverage to bail.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but other countries don't interpret contracts so strictly. I remember someone telling me that German business contracts are often written with intentions and principles, rather than rules.

That way, people are encouraged to do "good business" and not resort to the algorithm. Legalese is just a way to cover your ass in a bad scenario; it's not designed to build better businesses.

Full disclosure: I work for blip.tv. I am biased.

7 points by Gidion 5 days ago 2 replies      
I'm a big fan of the "let's find an algorithmic solution" approach to everything (because it scales), but if the so called specialists (still assuming they are human specialists) are already involved, would it have hurt to send a little more information about the issue that just a link to the FAQ? You know, the human factor...
3 points by nestlequ1k 5 days ago 0 replies      
Just one of the many reasons I've always hated adsense. Being told that you aren't allowed to tell your readers to click on links is bullshit.

Seems so much more appropriate to pick a few books off amazon, or find something offers from commission junction. Encouraging your readers to buy from sponsors should not be off limits.

2 points by dasht 5 days ago 0 replies      
One implication of this story is that simple "click spam" can kill off some Google products, censor a small business, etc. The product Google is offering is inherently vulnerable to low-cost, high-price attack.
6 points by motters 5 days ago 1 reply      
This seems to be a not uncommon tale for people who make money out of Adsense.
4 points by phr 5 days ago 0 replies      
If you own several different media properties like this guy, is it a good strategy to incorporate each one separately, to keep an unintentional Adsense TOS violation from affecting all the others?
5 points by Shorel 5 days ago 0 replies      
Cut the middle man. I mean cut Google Adsense. What he was doing was paying a big cost of opportunity there.

If he has that vertical market of subscribers he should deal with the boat insurance providers or other suitable advertisers himself.

Let the 1c become 500c or a lot more.

3 points by dools 5 days ago 0 replies      
I didn't see any way to comment on the story but someone should let this guy know he should certainly be able to delete his truck vids to stop Google profiting from his work since discontinuing his AdSense account.
1 point by danenania 3 days ago 0 replies      
Google could show much better judgment in their response. Perhaps he did technically break the rules, but not wantonly and not with malevolent intentions. He deserves a warning, and perhaps to have some percentage of his income returned to advertisers, but taking ALL the money in his account and completely shutting off a significant portion of this man's income stream for what amounts to a relatively innocent mistake is a huge overreaction and a lousy thing to do to someone. You're better than this Google.
2 points by jrockway 5 days ago 0 replies      
Seems like the solution to this problem is to create a legal entity for each company you do business with. Then when they suspend FooBar LLC's Adsense account, you create BarBaz LLC and try again. If you use your real name or real SSN, you're stuck if anything bad happens.
1 point by Stormbringer 4 days ago 0 replies      
Seems like Google's taking a leaf out of Paypal's book.

I think that a system where the only game in town has a financial incentive (they get to steal your money) to ban you is bound to be open to abuse.


But even apart from that I think the internet advertising model is all kinds of broken. It seems your choices are:

(a) try to get real money for content

(b) try to get tiny money (micropayments) for content

(c) give it away free, and hope that the ads you slather it with don't drive away too many people (axiom: ads always suck, and are a drain on the goodwill of the people whose time you are wasting with them)

(d) abandon all hope of making a living

1 point by rradu 4 days ago 0 replies      
I've had to deal with AdSense's auto-bans before. The appeal process is slow and very rarely do you get a response from an actual person.

When you do get in touch with a real person, they offer very little additional information besides copy/pasting whatever's on their help site--even if it's not relevant to your situation.

I guess this is akin to Apple's seemingly arbitrary bans of apps, but at least Apple doesn't have the gall to tout that "don't be evil" philosophy.

1 point by giberson 4 days ago 0 replies      
This is what kills me about advertising--I literally can't believe it works. Yet, heres an article about a guy using an ad company to show ads to generate revenue, and in the comments here at HN, a viewpoint from some one using an ad company to have their company advertised. In both cases they actually state that: a) there is actually a conversion rate between ads on a site and purchases for a product, and b) imply that the conversion rate is substantial enough to facilitate ad companies and the whole ad process.

This flabbergasts me, because I have never ever once clicked on an advertisement [on purpose] with the intention of finding out more or purchasing an advertised product (nor the purpose to "support" a site). I literally liken it to falling for Nigerian scams. That's not to say I've never been influenced by advertising--but in general I do tend to buy store brands [cheaper] over name brands. I certainly have never been so influenced to feel the immediate actionable need to buy a product after having seen an ad.

But this isn't a rant about how I hate ads, actually I'm hoping one of you amazing HN people can explain, with logic, why and how ads work? Whats the mentality of people (sheep?) that see and ad after watching a truck video and think, gee I really must visit this car wax website and buy some car wax now. There gotta be some kind of psychology or game theory that explains the successfulness of the [online] ad industry.

3 points by zacharyz 5 days ago 0 replies      
So if users clicking on ads without the intention of buying is click fraud - what about when a user accidentally opens one of those lame ads on a youtube video when they were actually trying to close the ad? I certainly had no intention of giving the advertiser any money and yet it probably registers on their end as a click.
3 points by chanux 5 days ago 0 replies      
Why I still see posts like this and Google does nothing to make things right?
2 points by scotty79 5 days ago 0 replies      
So basically you can kill source of income of any website (and probably the site itself) by clicking its ads and not buying anything.

Don't tell 4chan. Or anyone with access to botnet.

2 points by QuantumGood 5 days ago 0 replies      
Google had no choice:
· He encouraged people to click on ads to bring him income;
· He had a high level of fraudulent clicks detected.
His "encouragement" was mildly phrased, but he mentions that people responded to it by generating fraudulent clicks. This is EXACTLY the kind of person Google MUST ban.
2 points by scotty79 5 days ago 0 replies      
Why Google just doesn't lower value of his clicks accordingly instead of closing his account?

This all or nothing, good or bad approach doesn't seem to fit grayness of reality.

2 points by larrik 5 days ago 0 replies      
This is why a lot of subscription websites (which this was, apparently), don't display ads to logged in users. A small dedicated audience looks like click-fraud. Adsense and the like is best for drive-by visitors.

I did that even with my own websites, even though there is no subscription fee. Logged-in users get no ads, because I don't want them to click on them.

There was a similar issue on HN a long time ago (years?), but I can never find past articles that I'm looking for.

1 point by injekt 5 days ago 0 replies      
A very mixed bag of responses in the comments. It appears to me that the writer may have inadvertently asked his users to click on adverts, because it helps him generate profit. I don't think there's anything wrong with that, but Google does, and it explicitly says that in its Adsense contract.

With that being said, Mr Winter deserved a human voice at the very least. A discussion, not a computer generated decision. Perhaps the adsense account for the personal website should have been ceased, but doing so for the youtube one too, is petty. Of course (assuming) a computer can't tell the difference between these outlets a human voice would have helped in this matter.

After reading some of the comments, I really think pulling down the youtube videos and throwing up 30 second 'previews', with a link to the full version on Vimeo, is a great idea. There's no doubt it will generate less income, but you'll get your cut.

1 point by SteveJS 4 days ago 0 replies      
While this looks like click fraud to the advertisers, is that failure due to the people clicking? Or Google?

This seems to be to be a failure on Google's part to properly leverage a real audience, rather than a legitimate detection of click fraud.

Google's Ad system is assuming a transient audience with little invested in the content, so that sending the same (content targeted) ad repeatedly to the site is the right thing. This is a small audience with much invested in the site. Sending ads from the same advertiser to the same small audience has diminishing returns. This is a failure to capture value, based on the investment of the audience rather than the type of the content.

Sending a wide variety of ads is necessary to properly leverage a small invested audience.

1 point by dennisgorelik 4 days ago 0 replies      
My guess is that Google calculated how efficient was Dylan's traffic was for AdWords customers.
AdWords customers can setup goals for their ads (reach certain page e.g. "ThankYouForYourPurchase.html".
So if almost all traffic Dylan sent did not reach any goals, then it's disappointing for AdWords users and for Google.
So when Google determined that -- they were only looking for an excuse to drop him, and Dylan gave such excuse by indirectly incentivizing users to click on AdSense ads.
I told my subscribers that I got some money if they visited the websites of those advertisers

Still Google should be more transparent about reasons why they are dropping AdSense partners.

1 point by kbutler 5 days ago 1 reply      
This is a product recall by Google.

Google has customers (ad buyers) and suppliers (publishers). The product Google sells is ad clicks.

Google determined that the supplier delivered a contaminated product. Google issued a recall that also affected (presumably) non-contaminated product (clicks) delivered by the same supplier. Google also has a zero-tolerance policy to prevent any further contamination.

It's harsh. It probably is overly broad in this particular case.

But Google makes a lot more by protecting its customers (ad buyers) from tainted products (clicks) than by protecting its suppliers (publishers) from overly broad recalls.

The only way this will change is if suppliers (publishers) become significantly more rare.


2 points by doyoulikeworms 5 days ago 0 replies      
I don't have much AdSense experience, but what is there to protect folks from click fraud fraud?

Example: A blog/app/whatever is targeted by anonymous/botnet/whatever and intentionally drives the CTR to an insane amount for a sustained period.

1 point by varjag 5 days ago 1 reply      
So the conclusion is, don't build your business model around someone else's business model.
1 point by jeffreyrusso 5 days ago 0 replies      
I honestly sympathize. It's a horrible thing to be blindsided by something like this when it's a main source of income. The approach Google took was cold and heartless, that goes without saying.
All that being said, I can understand why things like this happen, and I don't necessarily fault Google. When a particular placement generates a lot of traffic that doesn't convert, Google has an obligation to take action on behalf of their paying advertisers.
1 point by Joshim5 5 days ago 0 replies      
I had the same issue a few years ago on my site. It was really annoying. Google got me for "click fraud". I had some friends who were looking at my site in school. Some people clicked on adverts. Since these views were from the same school, Google probably thought they were the same computer/person. It really sucks.
1 point by JoeBracken 5 days ago 0 replies      
So what does this say then for all the free ad-supported mobile apps? I keep reading more and more of the success of ad-supported apps that would also face the same risks.

I do think however the flaw here is the writer informed users that clicking supports him - simple click fraud.

1 point by ddkrone 5 days ago 0 replies      
I think this is fascinating. So if there is some site that I don't like that mostly generates revenue with the help of google ads a really roundabout way of taking them down would be to devise a scheme and raise their click-through rate through the roof and wait for whatever algorithm google uses to catch on and raise red flags.
1 point by earino 5 days ago 0 replies      
People click on ads?!?
-4 points by gnosis 5 days ago 0 replies      
Welcome to capitalism.
-4 points by kunley 5 days ago 0 replies      
That guy is pretty immature with his complaints. He choose such risky way of getting the income by himself. He's had expectations bar too high and made few strategic mistakes.

He's also got quite luxurious problems like not being able to get decent money for his sailing hobby. Mr Dylan, looks like your 55 years didn't give you much insights on life, otherwise you wouldn't be complaining on the way you've chosen for yourself.

Google tracks you. We don't. An illustrated guide donttrack.us
521 points by adityakothadiya 1 day ago   159 comments top 37
87 points by Matt_Cutts 23 hours ago replies      
The first sentence when I stripped out the pictures was "When you search Google, and click on a link, your search term is sent to that site, along with your browser & computer info, which can often uniquely identify you."

Referrers are a part of the way the web has worked since before Google existed. They're a browser-level feature more than something related to specific websites. But if referrers bother you, just use the SSL version of Google to prevent referrers from being sent to http sites (or change your browser not to send referrers at all).

The corresponding sentence even for a website that strips referrers would be "When you search on domain X, and click on a link, your browser & computer info is sent to that site, which can often uniquely identify you."

Read more carefully in that light, the first sentence is really saying that third-party sites that you land on after searching or visiting a domain can track you. That's independent of whether you came from Google or any other search engine, of course.

12 points by andrewljohnson 16 hours ago 2 replies      
There is a rash of this kind of marketing I see cropping up on Hacker News, marketing which promotes one company while badmouthing another. We saw it from Posterous, Adioso, and now DuckDuckGo.

* Adioso vs. Bing: http://blog.adioso.com/sorry-bing-adioso-is-still-the-worlds...

* Posterous vs. Tumblr (and others): http://blog.posterous.com/hey-tumblr-users-got-comments-want...

Setting aside whether or not you want to be perceived as cutthroat or just straight-up douchey, the real question is whether or not this the most effective spin.

I think it might be better just to talk about how great privacy is at DuckDuckGo, perhaps in comparison to other search engines in general.

DDG calling out Google individually, Adioso calling out Bing individually, or in the case of Posterous, calling out other startups, isn't how I would play the game.

7 points by gregable 8 hours ago 0 replies      
As a practical matter, surfing from an https:// URL doesn't strictly strip referrers (in Google, DDG, or otherwise). SSL is intended to hide your data from the network, not the destination, so every browser I've tested will send referrers from https://SiteA.com/ to https://SiteB.com/ as long as both the referring and destination URLs are both https://
16 points by Groxx 23 hours ago 3 replies      
Or, you could use https://encrypted.google.com which disables the referral[1]. You can also turn off the history[2].

Other info, like your IP address (which they partially anonymize after... 9/18/24 months (conflicting details)) and cookie[3] (which you can clear / block), is still stored. Odds are DDG does this too (edit: they don't, see replies), as it's mostly useful for overall statistics.

[1]: http://www.google.com/support/websearch/bin/answer.py?answer...
[2]: http://www.google.com/support/accounts/bin/answer.py?answer=...
[3]: http://www.google.com/privacy/faq.html#toc-terms-server-logs

11 points by aw3c2 23 hours ago 4 replies      
That site turned me off. I am using DDG as my primary search engine for many months now.

I really dislike the style and "atmosphere" of that site. The images are seemingly unordered and could use some borders. The images of the dog biting the women or the predator disgust me. Then some "motivationals" and memes that do not help the case.

This site gave me mental stress (the left-alignment of varied sized text and images maybe, maybe the white, maybe the images) and overall broke a chunk off the good impression the DDG creator gave me so far. I'd suggest either not making such weird site or at least make it properly designed.

(When I clicked the link I expected it to be related to the http://hackademix.net/2010/12/28/x-do-not-track-support-in-n... disaster which dramatically "uniquifies" your browser fingerprint so I started with a bad feeling. Thanks for adding ad-blocking recommendations though! And even more so: Tor!)

13 points by cletus 23 hours ago 3 replies      
I have a question: does this policy of DDG violate their legal responsibilities? Thats a serious question. I believe that law enforcement requires some form of data retention but I'm not sure what.
7 points by joakin 23 hours ago 2 replies      
Here goes some feedback, hopefully we can gather some suggestions for Gabriel instead of saying 'Encrypted Google' all the time...

In my opinion (using my designer side) the site lacks basic design, the text is well written, and the images make it really easy to read, but its missing some eye candy.
Something to do would be structure each argument as a page/slide, and make the reading more like slides or a book.

In my opinion, -quite ironic- you should have a look (copy format) from Google's 20thingsilearned [1], the book format, with the beautiful design and the animations would make the site stand out and more attractive to be read than it is now.

But dont do as them, there is a pretty good job done keeping the text short and concise but informative and clear.

If the site is kept well formatted as well as structured and 'playful' will continue to be a pleasure to read.

Good luck with the campaign, happy to help to my default search engine :)

[1] http://www.20thingsilearned.com/

13 points by zackola 23 hours ago 2 replies      
I've been using Duck Duck Go as my primary search for the last month - it's pretty great! And if you need to fallback to google because you want a map or something else there are a bunch of ! shortcuts to go right there. (!map is most frequently used by me)
2 points by pacemkr 15 hours ago 0 replies      
I believe I was one of the people who requested this. Namely, a better explanation of why DDG not tracking your search history is a big deal.

Implementation details aside, this page must exists and I applaud Gabriel for making it. Why? I must have been living under a rock, but I for one have never heard of https search for Google -- and I'm not exactly a computer newb.

Privacy should be the default, so "use secure Google" is a ridiculous response to legitimate privacy concerns.


1. I really appreciated how fast information is delivered. "One thing leads to another." And its very clear up to...

2. You lost me after the "Your profile can also be sold," with lolcat material. It really threw me off and I almost forgot what I was reading about. On my first run through the page, did not absorb ANY information past that point.

3. I only noticed the multiple (happens) links on the second run. Noticed one somewhere along the way on the first run, but not the reast. This is the important part. It tells me that this isn't a list of "imagine these unlikely events and fear", its a list of "did you know this actually happened."

4. The images establish pace for the reader, but, I can't stress it enough, they must communicate additional information. Up until the parental control cat we get a visual of what happens. I can also relate to the images because I've seen ads for "wacom tablets" follow me for months after I bought the freaking thing and I've seen the Google Analytics control panel. The image of the woman signifies that her profile is slowly building up. What information does the parental control cat or austin powers communicate?

5. The design is a little too bland, but as noted above, that's not the biggest problem. I wanted to link my friends to the page, but then got to the images and felt that the message would be lost on them as it was lost on me.

Hope this helps and thank you for making the page.

16 points by Ryan_IRL 1 day ago 4 replies      
I think it's some valid info here, and it's certainly worth being wary of the info Google collects, but I also sense a little bit of FUD here. The whole "...which can often uniquely identify you" makes me feel like this is playing on fear a little too much. It's not like that "big ebony booty" search is going to come up in a job interview any time soon guys.
9 points by snippyhollow 1 day ago 0 replies      
I switched definitely to duckduckgo one month ago and I'm happy about it. I find that for us, tech-oriented people, it provides very pertinent result pages, plus it is fast enough, and you can always !google or !wikipedia or else if not satisfied... Its recall is perhaps less than Google, but the smart handling of "spam" gives it a really nice precision. Never went on page 2!
4 points by olalonde 10 hours ago 0 replies      
In case you're wondering how uniquely identifiable your browser is: https://panopticlick.eff.org/. "Your browser fingerprint appears to be unique among the 1,328,173 tested so far."

Of course, this is regardless of Google.

7 points by jimmyswimmy 22 hours ago 1 reply      
Well, that finally worked for me. For the longest time I've seen the DDG "ads" on here and thought, "meh, Google works fine for me." Focusing on the privacy angle appealed to me, mainly because I like the idea of decoupling my search and email histories.

But - if you are so focused on not-tracking then how do you know if an advertising campaign such as this actually works? Presumably this is not the only campaign you are currently running. Must be the referrer string from donttrack.us, which is so amusingly ironic that I can't help but twist the corner of my mouth into a smirk.

Nice site, by the way, I found it clean, clear and readable. Scrolling and justification are no matter to me, I liked the simple single-page look.

8 points by rick_2047 22 hours ago 2 replies      
I seriously do not get this privacy sham. All of a sudden everybody and there uncle is very concious about some algorithms (that select the ad for you) knowing what they searched for. I mean even if I search for something inappropriate and then google ads algorithm knows what I searched for, big deal yaar whats the harm?

I presume referrer headers existed even before google and this privacy outrage. The thing I do not understand is, why this sudden conciousness about some database of what you searched online?

4 points by motters 22 hours ago 1 reply      
I've been using DDG for a while, and have been very happy with it. IMHO they should focus on this privacy aspect, trying to be the most privacy respecting search engine, because it's a key product differentiator and it's also an issue which is only likely to grow in importance.
2 points by Indyan 9 hours ago 1 reply      
I love DDG, and am a DDG user. Nevertheless there are two things in this guide that bothered me:
i) No Referrers: I consider this to be essential information for the webmaster. It allows him to know what is working, and what isn't. If DDG becomes popular, it will kill the search analytics market. It's a niche product right now, and that's why it can afford to do this and Google can't (SSL isn't the default option).

ii) Adblock et all: By advising users to use Adblock, once again you are encouraging users to do something that can cripple the web as we know it.

7 points by fwdbureau 23 hours ago 1 reply      
I'm sure google is not as "evil" as those recent bashing campaigns tend to insinuate, but the fact is, if google could publish clearer, more-defined data-privacy or data-retention policies instead of the vague assertions you can find in their TOS, things would be clearer. The current situation is just feeding doubts, and nothing serious or accompanied by hard facts comes to contradict this illustrated guide
1 point by alexfarran 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Does it really matter that DDG works around the referer header when embarrassingillness.com/herpes has your IP address, and anything else your browser sends to them.
6 points by Skywing 1 day ago 0 replies      
You know what? I'm one of those people that can probably say "who cares", but I think I'm going to try out DuckDuckGo over the upcoming week.
10 points by yuvadam 1 day ago 0 replies      
Strangely enough, and with all the anti-google hype lately, this really makes me want to ditch google for web searches (Gmail is harder to leave...)
3 points by eddieplan9 21 hours ago 3 replies      
Kudos to DDG. Finally a good alternative to the big G.

What scares me the most sometimes is when I think about how ubiquitous Google's ads network and analytics network are. Most of the websites I visit use AdSense and/or Google Analytics. Some are using Google's copy of popular javascript libraries like jQuery. This means that when you are moving from site A to site B to site C, there is a good chance that even though A or B or C does not know about it, Google knows your full browsing path and even how you move from one to another. I am not saying that Google is actually doing it, but it is scary someone has the capability to do it and to know more about you than the government and your mother do. It is important a significant portion of the website and our browsing activities are outside of Google's networks.

1 point by kolinko 5 hours ago 0 replies      
There is a thin line between "fighting for what's right (privacy)" and "building paranoia to earn profit" and I think DDG just crossed it :(

I like the search engine and I wish them all the best (seriously), but this method of advertising is bad.

2 points by pragmatic 19 hours ago 0 replies      
How does duck duck go make money?

I saw something about adding affiliate links to Amazon results. What else?

3 points by danielhfrank 23 hours ago 3 replies      
Could anyone comment on how much of this stuff could be sidestepped by just using an incognito window in Chrome? I don't mind ads targeted to, say, me as a Java developer. But, if I'm going to look up anything I'd rather others not know about, I simply pop open an incognito window and... am I good to go? Is there anything besides my IP address that can be read when I'm doing that?
3 points by ignu 1 day ago 4 replies      
"which can often uniquely identify you."

"and potentially show up in unwanted places,
like insurance, credit & background checks."

yeah, i'm pretty sure that's not a thing that can happen.

also, if you like the internet being free then you shouldn't mind seeing ads for your demographic that get a better roi and make more money for publishers of the content you don't pay for.

3 points by mitko 16 hours ago 0 replies      
This page converted me. I'm giving DDG a test as my primary search.
3 points by shimonamit 22 hours ago 2 replies      
I'm still dreaming of a search engine that parses regular expressions. When that happens I'm there. Yesterday.
2 points by rmc 18 hours ago 0 replies      
But isn't the referral header and search terms good for the webmaster? It allows them to customize the website for their customers and allows them to find out what their customers are looking for.
2 points by crnixon 17 hours ago 0 replies      
I like DuckDuckGo. I use it and it's a good search service. But I'm left with a question after this site:

Isn't Google's tracking a _good_ thing in many ways? I want sites to know what I've come searching for so they can present me peripheral content I want and I want Google to know my interests so that they show me ads related to those interests.

I agree Google could do more to alert users about what privacies they are giving up, and I'm glad there's good alternatives if you don't want that info tracked. I think not enough is made of the good side of Google's personalization, however.

1 point by lisperforlife 9 hours ago 0 replies      


I rest my case. Don't get me wrong. I like DDG but this campaign seems like spreading FUD. BTW, I use https by default.

3 points by jeromeflipo 1 day ago 4 replies      
2 points by marcusEting 18 hours ago 0 replies      
If you don't want to be tracked but still want to use google there are three great browser extensions which make that possible: http://techblog.willshouse.com/2011/01/03/three-extensions-t...
3 points by requinot59 1 day ago 0 replies      
Good explanations of privacy issue using Google for the neophyte. Thanks for this, I'll use this link when I tell someone about the online privacy stuff.
1 point by mkramlich 12 hours ago 0 replies      
Awesome promotional/marketting angle. Smart way to compete against Google.
1 point by ssn 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Too much FUD.
1 point by sz 14 hours ago 0 replies      
There ought to be a browser plugin for the paranoid... surely someone must have tried to make one?
2 points by vitorbal 23 hours ago 0 replies      
I love the reference to the austin powers' "in a nutshell" scene, heheh.
Cambridge University refuses to censor student's thesis boingboing.net
489 points by r11t 4 days ago   60 comments top 19
74 points by blhack 4 days ago 1 reply      
>Cambridge is the University of Erasmus, of Newton, and of Darwin.

This is a very elegant way of giving them the finger.

61 points by jburwell 4 days ago 1 reply      
First, he thrusts the knife in, then violently twists it -- "Accordingly I have authorised the thesis to be issued as a Computer Laboratory Technical Report. This will make it easier for people to find and to cite, and will ensure that its presence on our web site is permanent....". Classic.
38 points by liuhenry 4 days ago 0 replies      
4 points by fleitz 4 days ago 0 replies      
I tend to disagree with the banks' assessment that it will undermine public confidence. The research gives the public one more piece of information to judge the risks for placing their money in a financial institution.

The banking sector as participants in a free market who frequently advocate for opening of more sectors of the economy to the free market (and rightly so) should be encouraging such research. The research gives consumers of banking services more accurate information to consider when deciding how accessible their money should be. Additional information allows consumers to make more informed choices regarding the trade offs between security and convenience. Banks could offer insurance to their customers to protect them against the risks while still keeping the benefits of increased convenience.

It's an opportunity for the banks to differentiate their services and cater to the needs of their customers. Yes, not having a PIN is less secure, but it's also more convenient, with proper positioning of their products banks should be able to offer tailored solutions that better address the needs of their customers.

10 points by rlmw 4 days ago 1 reply      
To be fair I didn't read this the first time it was on HN - I'm inclined to think that the title of the post is more descriptive than the original, and its deserving front page material, even if it is a duplicate.
12 points by yesbabyyes 4 days ago 1 reply      
Link to original letter - oh boy this is a good read: http://www.cl.cam.ac.uk/~rja14/Papers/ukca.pdf
36 points by instakill 4 days ago 1 reply      
Brilliant. If only more institutions had a spine like the one displayed here.
7 points by nsdsudf 4 days ago 1 reply      
Prof. Anderson shows good character.

Let's talk about the other side. Businesses have always acted this way when it comes to computer security (for at least the last 15 years, feel free to cite earlier examples). By now they probably understand that what they're doing is wrong, from a security perspective. They may even understand that issuing takedowns increases publicity. Still, business are sociopathic, they don't care about the legitimacy of their actions. They have a staff of lawyers they're already paying for, and a responsibility to defend trade secrets and protect their product base. So they marshal their lawyers, essentially for free, and maybe they get something out of the effort as a result. If they don't, nothing much was lost, and they generally don't care about their perception in the security community. Same old story. This incident is less about someone standing up to a bully and more about someone weathering another wave coming out of the ocean.

4 points by emilepetrone 4 days ago 0 replies      
BBC video on chip & pin findings: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_yyfcHSXZLc
1 point by marcamillion 3 days ago 0 replies      
Intentionally or unintentionally, this has got to be one of the best pieces of marketing for research inclined students and faculty that they could have ever produced.

So much so, that the skeptic in me thinks this was intentionally leaked.

I had always considered possibly applying to the University of Cambridge, and I know they are Ivy League...but this letter, firmly solidifies them as a contender for any higher education I might pursue.

2 points by revorad 4 days ago 0 replies      
3 points by drivebyacct2 4 days ago 0 replies      
For the third time, we get it.
3 points by isomorph 4 days ago 1 reply      
He's a good lecturer too. Funny how being a good lecturer and being a badass correlate.
1 point by GrandMasterBirt 4 days ago 1 reply      
"we have no choice but to back him. That would hold even if we did not agree with the material!"

Reminds me of a Frankin quote: "Sir, I disagree with you, but I will fight to the death for your right to say it."

1 point by koski 4 days ago 0 replies      
I wonder when Cambridge starts to be blocked by the banks then ... :)
2 points by kwoks 4 days ago 0 replies      
Am proud of being in the University of Cambridge.....we don't produce apps.
1 point by raghava 4 days ago 0 replies      
>You complain that ... and indeed to censor it.

The penultimate para in the original letter, wow! A befitting answer to a bully, and how! :)

-4 points by Tarski 4 days ago 3 replies      
Wouldn't it have been far nobler to approach the banks affected by the exploit with these findings rather than publishing schematics for the exploit into the public domain?
Trouble In the House of Google codinghorror.com
441 points by ZeroMinx 1 day ago   159 comments top 28
24 points by cletus 1 day ago replies      
This is really just a rehash of other posts from the last month (linked in article).

This post basically complains about two things: the finer points of SEO and content farms.

Content farms is an easy one. They're the Web equivalent of spam and I'm talking about the likes of Associated Ontent and Demand Media. They re a relatively new (last few years) phenomenon.

My personal view is that no one is better placed to deal with this new threat than Google. Email spam is basically a solved problem on Gmail. Thats not ss there aren't false positives and negatives but it's oohing like it used to be or could be. It'll take time but I believe that content farms are a transitory and doomed business model.

As for product searches, this encompasses many things. Anecdotally I recently searched for "<camera make and model> review" and found what I wanted no problem. Prices I found on pricegrabber (they have an iPad app).

SEO is a trickier beast. For one it's a constantly moving target. A combination of suboptimal source SEO and content farm SEO gaming allows the scrapers to survive. I can't say that keyword position matters all that much. Anecdotally Jeff claims it does but many factors are at pay so it's always best to be careful about making absolute claims.

Jeff claims not to want to be acquired. I'm reminded of a story I heard. Basically: if you wanted money (from angels) ask for advice. If you wanted advice, ask for money (IIRC this story came from either Mark Suster or Jason Calacanis, can't remember).

So, if you want to be acquired, say you don't?

Lastly, I'll reiterate my own opinion that social search isn't the answer in the general case (ie it will have specific use cases).

Content curation is a mixed bag. I believe there will (for at least a very long time) be a place for niche verticals. For example, dpreview is a vertical for cameras. General purpose models like Mahalo I think are doomed for much the same reason that Jeff and Joel have contended that general Q&A sites are doomed.

48 points by gordonguthrie 1 day ago 4 replies      
Its that old issue. If you are paying you are the customer - if you aren't paying you're the product.

With Google the customer is the person placing the ads and the product is you.

The content farms are the middle man - they try and place you (the product) onto a paying page (the customer) and stop you going to a non-paying page (that doesn't pay-per-click).

Google has 2 business models:

* I search for an advert and Google sells me directly to the customer

* I search for something and Google takes me to a middle man who sells me to a customer

The first business model works great and I often search Google for an advert.

The second business model is broken - because I (the user) want a search engine that takes me to my destination - if something that triggers a purchase happens along the way, fine).

1/3 of the web now consists of Google's Middlemen selling Google's ads for Google.

When my (then) colleague Dale had 500,000 page views from his HTML5 pacman (http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=1549056) he didn't put Google Ads on it because 'Google Ads are Cheap'.

But then my (non-technical) customer Tim specifically said he wouldn't put Google adds on http://cyclingbibliography.org/ which is designed to make him income, I thought, Oh!.

At Xmas my 12 year old was moaning about Google when looking for something.

It has now reached the point where a page ranking algorithm which penalises sites with Google Ads would be welcomed by many people.

Google's problem is that only way out is to reduce its income - when it has been tweaking its software to increase its yield.

24 points by bambax 1 day ago 2 replies      
It's certain that annoying gadgets such as "Instant" reflect poorly on Google priorities.

The mission of Google is to help users find stuff, not generate the maximum possible number of ad impressions per query (which would be quite short-sighted).

But, is it really getting worse? It's never been possible to use Google effectively to research dishwashers. Never. I remember using a Firefox extension to block specific domains from Google search for a long time (it's now called "OptimizeGoogle" but had another name before that).

Dishwashers aside, I still find Google pretty effective.

Jeff's post starts with a chart that shows that 88.2% of SO's traffic comes from Google; if Google was that bad, wouldn't users start to use something else? Where is the increase in traffic from Bing (0.9% from the same chart!)? Where's the nascent but so powerful traffic from blekko...??!?

14 points by brown9-2 23 hours ago 0 replies      
I don't understand what people are complaining about when they use google for generic product searches like this.

What do you expect "iPhone 4 cases" to return?

Links to reviews? Links to Apple's online stores? Links to other retailer's stores? Links to information about what the cases are manufactured from?

I don't understand what a search engine is supposed to do in this use case. How can it divine which of the many things related to iPhone cases you're interested in? This generic search could go in many different directions.

Personally I would never think go search google directly for a product review like this. Amazon is the best-known place to find reviews from fellow general-consumers.

When you use a search engine, I think the key to efficiency is having a firm idea of what type of results you'd like it to return before you press the "Search" button.

24 points by roadnottaken 1 day ago replies      
It's not a very difficult problem to solve. 95% of the content-farm spam comes from a few domains. In the same way that spam-blacklists have proved to be the most-effective way to combat e-mail spam, Google just needs to decide to shut these content-farms out. They don't need to do anything sophisticated like tweak their algorithm... just shut them out. The fact that it hasn't been done yet suggests to me that Google doesn't want to.
16 points by ComputerGuru 1 day ago 2 replies      
when was the last time you clicked through to a page that was nothing more than a legally copied, properly attributed Wikipedia entry encrusted in advertisements? Never, right?

Jeff gets it wrong yet again. Has he never heard of (or clicked a search result that led to) answers.com?

13 points by richcollins 19 hours ago 0 replies      
We want the whole world to teach each other and learn from the questions and answers posted on our sites. Remix, reuse, share " and teach your peers! That's our mission. That's why I get up in the morning.

However, implicit in this strategy was the assumption that we, as the canonical source for the original questions and answers, would always rank first.


We thought syndicating content would give us Google juice but it backfired ...

27 points by rabidsnail 1 day ago 1 reply      
It looks like the biggest thing that efreedom.com (the most prolific stackoverflow mirror) does to rank higher in google searches is put the category as the first word in the title. What stackoverflow titles as "How do I use MediaRecorder to record video without causing a ..." efreedom titles as "Android: How do I use MediaRecorder to record video without causing a ...". So when I search for "android mediarecorder segmentation fault" all other things being equal efreedom wins.
5 points by randallsquared 1 day ago 0 replies      
He seems to think this has never happened before, but I can remember Google search quality apparently declining repeatedly in the past... sometimes it seemed to return all the way to where it had been, and sometimes part way, but it isn't as though this is unprecedented. Additionally:

when was the last time you clicked through to a page that was nothing more than a legally copied, properly attributed Wikipedia entry encrusted in advertisements? Never, right?

It's not too common, but it's not like it never happens. Again, at times in the past, this has happened regularly for a while, to the point where you have to add "wikipedia" as a search term, but it has always returned to normality after a few days or so.

Since this happens from time to time for me, I'm wondering now if Jeff has been doing something right that I'm failing to do when searching.

2 points by DanielBMarkham 23 hours ago 3 replies      
Google has always had "bad neighborhoods" -- places where results weren't so good. What folks are finding is that the bad neighborhoods are on the rise, at least when it comes to short, popular searches. Now it appears the screen scrapers are busy at work targeting tech questions. In the last couple of months, when I had a technical question I got total junk for an answer -- lists of questions that took me to landing pages, re-dos of Stack Overflow pages, and random questions that didn't even have answers.

I use Google extensively for search. About once a month or so, I'll be looking for something in a bad neighborhood. It's not a pleasant experience. It's a shame to see tech questions end up like this.

But the problem, as another poster pointed out, is that nothing is for free. You are either paying money, in which case you are the customer, or you are the product. There's no "in-between" In Google's business model you are the product.

I think the business model can continue for a good, long time, but there is always going to be cross-incentives between people who want free stuff and providers who have to pay money to provide you with stuff. Not everybody can be a wikipedia and raise money with pictures of Jimmy Wales. They are an outlier.

My conclusion is that these are browser problems. After all, it's none of my business what people put on the web, and aside from liking Google and wishing them well, I really don't have a dog in the fight for their struggle. In fact, it's better for me to have a dozen search companies all using different algorithms -- makes it harder to game the system.

So what I want is a browser. A browser that uses multiple search engines automatically and completely eliminates any "fluff" from rendered pages -- perhaps even combining various pages into much simpler displays.

I'd pay for that, and that would make me the customer. Then I would have whatever web experience I desired, instead of the one that I get for free. I'd much rather be in the position of writing a check to the best browser provider that condensed and filtered information than the situation we have now.

(By the way, if anybody is interested in this browser project, please contact me, as it's been a pet project of mine for some time)

4 points by iwwr 1 day ago 1 reply      
In evolutionary terms, Google are gaining a very solid advantage every day. If Bing were to start growing suddenly, their tools for beating black-SEO and spam would be more primitive due to the lack of natural "predatory pressure". Bing's lack of immunity against some attacks would then set them back.
3 points by w1ntermute 22 hours ago 0 replies      
The search "iphone 4 case" seems to be particularly susceptible to crap results. Even DDG (https://duckduckgo.com/?q=iphone+4+case) and Bing (http://www.bing.com/search?q=iphone+4+case) give shady results.
8 points by jorgem 1 day ago 0 replies      
That's why they're called "search engines" and not "find engines".
1 point by rapind 13 hours ago 0 replies      
I don't understand why this is such a hard problem to solve.

I assume that every business that manages to farm content and SEO it up to the first page must be making a decent investment in time and resources to achieve this. It doesn't happen overnight.

So wouldn't it be easy enough to maintain a blacklist or at least a de-value list that would bring the return below the investment? Shouldn't there be a streamlined process for assembling this blacklist? They must already be doing something along these lines and no doubt quite a bit more involved than what I'm describing here.

Could they add in a crowdsourcing flag link next to all search results. This wouldn't blacklist anything automatically obviously but would assist in identifying which results should be investigated further?

Why is it still an issue? Is it a legal problem? Can they be sued for maintaining a blacklist?

I'm not trying to say I know better, so I must be missing something. Maybe someone can shed some light on my ignorance?

3 points by AlexMuir 1 day ago 2 replies      
I just don't understand the problem that Google is having. Why can't they simply penalise sites/domains that are full of rubbish? Or manually boost domains and sites that aren't.

The lack of innovation in search worries me - there are big commercial incentives for Google's results to be poor. Though the emergence of viable alternatives will change this.

I'm sure I read that the average revenue per search was $0.08 or something around that mark. At that level it's worth having some human intervention. Perhaps Yahoo had something after all!

1 point by aufreak3 5 hours ago 0 replies      
The current search situation as described by such posts seems analogous to the search quality deteriorating during the emergence of blogging. Google stepped in and cleaned it up rather well. I'd trust them to do the same with whatever tricks the rehash sites are using.
2 points by aamar 1 day ago 2 replies      
What happens if other sites are scraping content faster than Google can crawl it? In these cases, will Google really be able to guess which site is the original? For all they know, SO is scraping a lot of its content from other sites.

If this kind of uncertain-originator is any part of the problem, one solution might be for Jeff to temporarily block robots other than google/bing/etc. from retrieving new content, until say, ten minutes later. This gives the search engine a chance to figure out who the original is, while still (I think) remaining within the spirit of CC-SA. A Google API call (I'm high reputation, please crawl this new page now!) might be even better.

edit: clarified API suggestion.

4 points by suprgeek 1 day ago 3 replies      
It is almost as if a dam has cracked and we are seeing the first trickles of "Google sucks lately" stories. It is increasingly becoming an arms race - Google tweaks its algorithms to defeat SEO, Spam and other Gamers and the gamers tweak their tactics to outwit Google's tweaks.
Anybody else see an opportunity in this phenomenon to supplant algorithmic search with curated search?
2 points by jrussbowman 1 day ago 0 replies      
An easy easy to get better results for searches when looking for reviews as well a getting up to date content for searches has become my personal goal for unscatter.com. My first piece is up, using the blekko api. I will be adding more search filters powered by different apis in the future. At the moment it's basically a wrapper around the blekko api I admit but already useful for searching for iphone 4 cases I think. http://www.unscatter.com/search/?q=Iphone%204%20case&f=r...
2 points by easyfrag 1 day ago 0 replies      
I suspected the search results I was getting over the past few months were of a lesser quality but thought it was just an aberration.
2 points by jcfrei 1 day ago 0 replies      
I think this contributes to an ongoing trend and even bigger threat for google. The way we access the content of the web isnt the same way it was back in 2000. Back then a search engine was your only starting point for the web. Now a growing part part of redirects comes thru in some way curated (mostly social) channels. The poor search results will only increase this trend.
1 point by sabat 17 hours ago 0 replies      
spammers, scrapers, and SEO'ed-to-the-hilt content farms are winning

Spammers, scrapers: sure, they're a problem.

SEO'd sites: there is nothing wrong with optimizing your site for search engines. And a site that's optimized ought to win.

1 point by tybris 1 day ago 0 replies      
Extrapolation is such a tiring business. Google is constantly changing and developing. How can you make generalizing comments about the future without knowing what they're working on?

For future reference, replace Google by pretty much anything.

2 points by giberson 1 day ago 1 reply      
It seems like the obvious solution is a crawl on demand service provided by Google-so that when you publish new content, or your content is updated you can get Google to index your new content, and associate it as original content based on first appearance.

Then, it would be up to Google to prioritize content originators over farmers.

2 points by hwang89 1 day ago 1 reply      
Lately, I've been exploring the theory that too many Google employees exist:

Thousands of highly motivated employees attempt to expand their resumes + make an impact -> blind expansion of site features + sources of ad revenue -> loss of company character + restraint

Once the profit appears, no one dares to backtrack.

Does that make sense, or am I just speculating?

0 points by mike-cardwell 1 day ago 1 reply      
There should be an attribute which you can add to html elements to state that this is the original content source. Then if Google comes across a large website that has a tonne of "original source" content which lots of other sites are claiming "original source" for, then they can automatically identify it as a scraper site and penalise/flag for manual checking. Something like this, but more extensible:

<p original-source="true">

   This is some content which was generated on this website


1 point by ashutoshm 8 hours ago 0 replies      
that's why I use DDG with !so
0 points by njethwa 1 day ago 0 replies      
The scrapers are probably doing lot of SEO optimization. It is time for stack overflow to hire some SEO services. Wikipedia is not monetizing in anyway other than donations whereas stackoverflow does display ads of its own so why not hire someone to do SEO and stay on top?
Ask HN: I built a site that just went ridiculously viral. What do I do now?
346 points by markbao 5 days ago   186 comments top 63
144 points by jacquesm 5 days ago 2 replies      
hey Mark, if you need server capacity I can set you up with four machines on very short notice, let me know. j@ww.com (no charge, help you handle the spike and see if it has staying power without having to get in to long term contracts).
26 points by jeromec 5 days ago 2 replies      
No offense, but putting it on HN in the middle of traffic spike pressures would not help things. ;)

I was able to sign up and see just enough to get a feel before the site became unresponsive. I like that it's dead simple. I can also see how it's incredibly viral as it asks you to ask others to describe you -- very smart. At first glance it looks to me like something that could enjoy tons of traffic, but which would probably be short-lived. The challenge would be finding a way to have that traffic stick around...

I view this as a bit of a long shot, but I would do a few things. First, you've got to have the site handle the traffic. No advice on how, but find a way to get that done. Next, I would try to become known as the place to get a quick summary on anybody -- even celebrities. I imagine people will receive multiple adjectives from different people, but I'd have the site tally the three most popular and promote those as best describing of the user. :) I see a couple of possible pages for "viewer stickiness". The homepage could feature very popular users. Imagine showing the three most submitted words to describe /paulg or /marrington and other users with large responses... Next, on each user's page it could show their "friends" and the words that describe them. The site also provides the most recently submitted three words on the user's page. This might at least make each user curious about checking back at their own profile to see how people were labeling them. As for monetizing, that's probably with ads, as usual, but you have to be careful about when and where to put them. Like I said, probably a long shot, but who knows? Good luck!

18 points by cd34 5 days ago 1 reply      
Where is your current bottleneck? mysql? check your slow query log, turn on the log-queries-not-using-indexes, do a quick analysis of those to see if you have queries that aren't using an index or queries that can be optimized. Probably 90% of the scaling problems are database issues.

The quick solution is to scale up your current linode package, however, I think you might find that your traffic is going to peak and will wane next week after everyone has gone back to school/work and is out of the holiday mindset at which point you can scale back.

Put in a throttle - /proc/loadavg

Limit it to X signups per hour, asking them to check back next hour. Collect email and notify when they can sign up. Point them at a facebook page, ask them to like the page, do announcements when the next 'batch' of users is able to sign up.

If you want some help analyzing the slow query logs and/or the normal logs, email me a url of a .gz/.bz2 of a reasonable snippet at hnusername@hnusername.com.

Since you're running nginx, consider doing an alias and use proxy caching. I would doubt your static files are causing too many issues, but, if you can cache computationally expensive pages a little, that can help.

27 points by gdeglin 5 days ago 2 replies      
I recently built a Facebook application that approached the same kind of growth.

Sites like this typically see eCPM between $0.10 and $0.30 for advertising. So you're looking at around $30/day revenue right now.

Consider switching to EC2. This will allow you to easily scale up to a more powerful server if growth continues or down to a less powerful one if traffic tapers off.

Depending on how you set things up, a common bottleneck for Facebook applications is API calls. Ensure you are not making any API calls from Rails, since this will cause Rails processes to hang until Facebook returns results. With high traffic this could easily cause your server to become overwhelmed. Move all API calls to Delayed Job or another background processing system if you haven't already.

It looks like you have relatively few remotely loaded assets, which is great. You can likely speed things up more by making sure that your database is well optimized for the server (Make sure query cache is enabled, and you have indexes on the right columns for example), and identify any actions that take a long time to return.

As for what to expect in the future, growth will not be infinite. There are a finite number of people on earth that are going to love your site and Facebook integration is a fantastic way to reach nearly all of those people in a very short amount of time. After a while most of those people will get bored and you will see traffic begin to fall. The best ways to address this are by consistently releasing new features to reengage users or by referring your users to other similar sites that you build.

30 points by kabuks 5 days ago 1 reply      
Your site seems to be down.

Think about moving the code over to Heroku now, and keep scaling to meet demand.

If you don't have the cash, email me and I'll front you what you need to keep it up until you figure out how you want to roll with this. This is not a time to trip over pennies.


10 points by dools 5 days ago 0 replies      
EDIT: HN doesn't render that code very nicely, here's a pastie: http://pastie.org/1416631

Hi there, your home page is very simple, render it in plain HTML and post the signup to queue.php.

In queue.php put:

$data = serialize($_POST);
mysql_query('INSERT INTO cache(cache_data) VALUES(\''.mysql_real_escape_string($data).'\')');

The cache table should just be a PK cache_id and a text field (or perhaps mediumtext). I've suggested using a database instead of a filesystem based cache because, if you're doing this quickly, doing it using MySQL means you're less likely to run into file permissions or security problems.

Then you're at least capturing everyone's information whilst you figure out how to scale.

8 points by jimboyoungblood 5 days ago 3 replies      
1) In general, the database is always the bottleneck. It's easy to throw up more webservers- can't do that with db's.

2) Throw up an ad or two, with the goal of having the ad revenue pay your server costs. This will allow you to not worry about the financial situation while you're fighting fires, so you can defer thinking about investment etc until later.

(now after you have the servers tamed...)

3) Make sure you are incorporated. You probably want to be an S corp or LLC.

4) Look at your metrics and decide whether you have a sustainable property or not. (Look at your retention numbers) Based on the data, decide whether you have

(a) a self-sustaining cash cow, (b) something that can be huge and take over the world, or (c) a fad that will grow and die quickly.

If (b), and you need money to get there, start talking to investors. But don't take money too hastily- it's a long term commitment and you'd better know what you're getting yourself into.

If (c), try to sell it to someone who thinks it's a (b) before it dies.

Congrats and good luck!

6 points by ElbertF 5 days ago 2 replies      
This has happened to me a few times and usually the Twitter/social media storm blows over fairly quickly. I suggest getting an extra Linode for now and wait a few days to see what happens. If the numbers do stay up the site will probably be able to pay for itself with ads. Your site is down at the moment so I can't really see what it's about.

Edit: Google Cache got it: http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?sclient=psy&...

15 points by rbxbx 5 days ago 1 reply      

You're 17/18?

Kids these days. Geeze.

Fine work sir, though I don't have much advice to offer beyond what has already been stated.

6 points by rapind 5 days ago 1 reply      
The following until you no longer have issues handling the traffic (which might be right after step 2).

1. Upgrade your linode to something around 2 Gig for now.

2. Start playing with your MySQL or Postgresql config (assuming you're not already using redis or something similar, in which case just throw more RAM at the box). Google performance settings for your DB of choice and look for relevant posts to the memory you have.

3. If there's anything cachable, install memcached and implement it.

4. Purchase a second linode and move your database to it.

5. Upgrade each VPS as needed.

6. At this point you get into fancy scaling and there are loads of options. You should have plenty of breathing room by this point though and can plan it out.

26 points by catshirt 5 days ago 4 replies      
the site got twenty two hundred hits within two hours?
9 points by binaryfinery 5 days ago 1 reply      
That's why I use google appengine. It would have handled what you describe without even going over the daily free limit. Of course, you wouldn't be cool as rails.
9 points by david_shaw 5 days ago 4 replies      
Adsense. With only about 10k hits a day, my bedtime
calculator http://sleepyti.me brings in $10-$20/day. At the rate you're getting users, you could probably bring in a significant load of cash. Good luck!
7 points by Skywing 5 days ago 1 reply      
Well, it's a nifty idea and I know I've seen that trend on Facebook before. But that's also the problem - it's a 1 time use fad type thing. I don't know how much I'd invest in the current incarnation - perhaps just enough to keep the site functioning. Aim for some kind of traffic-based business strategy like ads or something. Maybe it can help pay for the site itself. If you could perhaps take the current idea and evolve it into something with a little more sustaining power then perhaps you could turn it into a nice little side income thing.
6 points by markbao 5 days ago 0 replies      
I haven't forgotten about this. I need sleep (exhausted and have been in bad health lately). Will get back to this soon.
7 points by nzadrozny 5 days ago 0 replies      
You've since mentioned that you've gone for a 4 gig box with 55 Passenger workers. Definitely a good start.

If I were in your shoes, these three items would be next on my emergency-scaling checklist:

1. Database sanity check: Are you using indexes for calls like "Find user by username"? Does your database need its own dedicated box?

2. Pick up another box for memcached. Full-page cache everything you can with rack-cache. Don't worry about expiration, just use some reasonably low TTL to put a throttle on your read requests for now.

3. Move all of your static assets to S3 + CloudFront. Gzipped, with a far-future Expires header. While you're in there, move the JS to the footer of your layouts. No sense serving any of that stuff from your Linode boxes if they're as pegged as they sound from your other comments.

As to making money? No clue. Maybe I'll have an idea when I can get a request through and see what the app is all about ;)

One thought occurs: this seems to be a very vanity-driven kind of app. Find a way to charge $1, $2 or even $5 for some simple premium vanity-stoking feature and you could be in good shape. Better than advertising, in my book.

Have fun!

3 points by blader 5 days ago 0 replies      
Advice from a guy who's gone through this a few times:

1. Monitor your retention. Are people coming back or just checking your site out once? You can go viral very quickly but tank just as quickly once the initial interest dies down.

2. Start thinking about a business model. Highly viral sites that don't retain well could really hurt your bank account if you're not monetizing. If you can't can come up with an interesting one, throw up some ads to tide you over.

3. As soon as possible, get your database on dedicated hardware. Your bottleneck is going to be the database: so memcache, add the right db indexes (get a backup db so you can hot-swap while you do this), and add lots of RAM if needed. You don't want to be scrambling to migrate your database once you hit the limit.

5 points by rms 5 days ago 2 replies      
Don't forget to apply for the Thiel Fellowship! Email me for help with your essays (that offer applies to anyone).
5 points by to 5 days ago 1 reply      
minimize the server work;
get some cheap nodes at rackspace cloud;
use one node for sessions in memcache;
use two nodes for mongodb (master/slave) read from both;
try to minimize xss/html/js and gzip everything;
cache as much as possible;
maybe even queue inserts/updates with redis and a cron;

thats how i survived a mini fb app thatwent from zero to 44 million users in 7 days... rackspace cloud + memcache + redis insert&update queue + round robin.
after a month i even killed the rackspace cloud interface and api with over 80 nodes and growing. had to get the memory limit on my account raised twice. peak were around 40k req/sec. after the second month we moved it to four bulky servers (16 core, raid5, 32gb ram) each cost around 12k dollar.

the whole secret is caching. everything, everywhere and as much as possible.

2 points by ivankirigin 4 days ago 1 reply      
Consider adding a revenue stream immediately. Let users pay to see what others have said about friends. Charge 1 facebook credit. Also let users pay to block that access: 10 credits. Also pay to let others ignore the block: 100 credits. Etc...

You'll need to redirect to a facebook page to use credits because they aren't available off facebook.com yet. They don't have many good examples of offsite apps using credits, so they could streamline the approval process I bet. Email me with questions.

7 points by pathik 5 days ago 1 reply      
I don't suppose this traffic will sustain. Slap an ad right in the center and monetize the hell out of it. Or get a sponsor.

Also, for the short term, Amazon EC2 would be the best option to handle the traffic.

2 points by cmelbye 5 days ago 1 reply      
Heh, I was wondering what this was when I first saw it a few hours ago. I've seen 5-6 people I follow on Tumblr use this thing already.

I suggest migrating it to Heroku. Push your code, copy over the database, and crank your dynos up. They charge by the hour, so as an example if you have ~10 dynos running (roughly equivalent to 10 thin instances, but slightly better) for 5 days (or however long it takes for the initial traffic surge to subside), you're only going to pay about $50. Then, you can turn down your dyno count and pay a reasonable monthly fee.

4 points by sjtgraham 5 days ago 0 replies      
Hey Mark, first of all congratulations. Do you have a caching layer? If not now is the time to implement one.
7 points by adebelov 5 days ago 0 replies      
awesome, on Techcrunch 10 min ago:http://techcrunch.com/2010/12/30/three-words/
4 points by spullara 5 days ago 0 replies      
My guess is this app doesn't need the resources he is throwing at it. If you look at the pages it is dead simple. I can't imagine what was using all the CPU. Would have been good to get a TOP or something to see what was going on. Since it is on Ruby, I recommend getting it on NewRelic and have it tell you where the bad parts are.
3 points by mkramlich 5 days ago 0 replies      
Seeing the title on the front page, I came here to post "Monetize it, baby!". Now that I've read more detail I'm in the camp, "Put out those fires NAOW and put some extra water buckets nearby too."

Then monetize it, baby.

1 point by rdl 5 days ago 0 replies      
This is exactly why it is nice to have a bunch of credit cards with comparatively high limits, even if you are frugal. There is no investment or other deal which can be negotiated as quickly as just swiping a card and worrying about it 20+ days later. (combined with EC2 or other scale with API services)
6 points by Devilboy 5 days ago 0 replies      
So... what is it?
3 points by harscoat 5 days ago 0 replies      
Mark you just started 2011 for me. Very inspiring/smart what you do! Congrats!!!
1 point by jarin 4 days ago 1 reply      
Oooh, hey this is bad. If you go to http://threewords.me/username.xml you can see the user's Facebook access token, secret, session key, and hashed password. You should probably remove that view or modify the to_xml in the user model.
1 point by dedward 5 days ago 0 replies      
Find your current bottleneck.

Go to static content wherever you can and get it replicated out and hosted somewhere.

consider something like HAProxy (well.. haproxy!) in the stack out front to control concurrency to resources that are bottlenecked - that way you can at least get linear degradation instead of out of control degradation.

EDIT: Drop the dynamic content wherever you can, shut off whatever dynamic parts you can and then scale out horizontally. Then fix the bottlenecks and bring them back online.

1 point by jamesbritt 5 days ago 1 reply      
"If you're curious, the stack is Rails + Ruby Enterprise Edition + Passenger + nginx, which isn't cheap like PHP to host. On the $40 Linode right now but maxing out CPU at 350%."

Interesting. Makes me think that an MVP should be done in PHP or something else that is cheap to host and handles these sorts of conditions well, and then if things look bright build the real site in whatever seems appropriate for the expected demand.

1 point by pathik 1 day ago 0 replies      

How did it go? Is the traffic still sustaining? Also tell us if you have been able to monetize it? Share your experiences with a blog post.

2 points by Timothee 5 days ago 1 reply      
Just curious: what does it do? (no offense, but it asks for too many things and permissions for me to try it right now)
3 points by harscoat 5 days ago 0 replies      
Pls Mark, do keep us updated with the Stats
2 points by shashank261 5 days ago 0 replies      
First, do not put ads on your site as it will annoy the users. Rather, take feedback and see what it takes to get more traffic.
I guess you can double up your existing infrastructure to handle any surge in traffic.
You do not want your users to see your page down due to excessive traffic.
1 point by jjoe 5 days ago 1 reply      
It looks like it's already been moved to EC2 and switched to Varnish cache and Nginx for static files. I think the decision to tie the "user" view to the main FQDN (http://threewords.me/joe) will come back and bite hard if this project turns into a large user base.

It would have perhaps been better to setup a wildcard DNS/vhost and set it as http://joe.threewords.me. It can still be done but the earlier the better. Time is of essence here.



1 point by Tycho 5 days ago 0 replies      
Seems like a good place to ask this:

are those 'sign in with Facebook' buttons trust-worthy?

I've only clicked one of them, and that was a 'sign-up' button for an event i will be physically attending

everytime i see one, I worry that

a) it's going to broadcast to my entire friendlist that i signed up for this service

b) it's not a REAL facebook button, but something to phish my account

c) this site will know my Facebook login

d) some other party will intercept the login...

tell me it's completely safe?

1 point by whalesalad 5 days ago 0 replies      
Cache the hell out of it! I'd spend all of my time looking into caching mechanisms for Rails right now.
2 points by Void_ 5 days ago 2 replies      
Why did you build it? What was your motivation? I tried it, and I have no idea why would I spam my friends with link so they would describe me. I have absolutely no interest in that, and I would feel really stupid sending anyone link like that.

Did you actually felt the need to have such a website? Or you just figured people will like it? How did you figure that out?

Please, share.

1 point by mickdarling 5 days ago 0 replies      
Hey Mark, it's been a while. Nicely done. You said it was just an MVP so I assume you have a product designed beyond this point. So, NOW is the time to do some validation on what those other ideas are. You have a large audience who already know who you are and are willingly giving you input.

Maybe in put down your follow ideas in short little phrases and have people provide three words on that, if they wish, along with three words on their friends. It will give you great insight into what THIS audience thinks is a good or bad next step for you.

This is a site that will not maintain interest as it is beyond a short period unless you add more to it. So the key here is to move forward quickly, even if it is in tiny incremental steps. letting the users help you make some of those choices of what steps to take can only help.

1 point by gsteph22 5 days ago 1 reply      
FYI: Heroku is fantastic for scaling apps. But if it's your database that's the bottleneck...you've got problems. Because your options with SQL are scaling up or sharding, each quite painful. If you want any advice, ping me.
1 point by andreasklinger 5 days ago 0 replies      
Congrats on the App.

Regarding the BizModel. Forget it and grow as long as the hype works.

If you can't:
Offer the possibility to add an optional reponse email. An ask for a penny if people want to contact the anonymous poster. Cooperate with FB for FB Credits to see this work.

Threewords for all type of content (blog articles, third parties like celebrities, etc)

1 point by kmfrk 5 days ago 0 replies      
Yoggrt.com seems like a decent ad network if Fusion Ads and Deck Network won't bite.
1 point by Maxious 5 days ago 0 replies      
Haha I recieved links to threewords.me before I even opened HN this morning. I don't know how to solve your fires but I've been asked to tell you to let the text color be customised because otherwise you can make unreadable on certain backgrounds. Maybe you should setup a getsatisfaction-ish feedback/support area?

threewords for threewords.me: hot new cool

1 point by grandalf 5 days ago 1 reply      
short term: heroku

long term: app engine (just port it to webapp framework)

1 point by elvirs 4 days ago 0 replies      
could not you make it pull my photo from facebook as well?
also ad an option of inviting friends from facebook?
1 point by cloudwalking 5 days ago 1 reply      
"502 Bad Gateway" - hosting troubles.. Can you explain a bit more about what threewords.me is?
1 point by EGreg 5 days ago 0 replies      
yo mark, congrats. So what are your next steps? Grab an advertising network quick and throw it on there for now.
2 points by vinyl 5 days ago 1 reply      
About monetizing: you could show the first 2 words only, and charge a small fee for the third ?
I guess people would pay to see what is said about them at least.
1 point by anthony_franco 5 days ago 1 reply      
What's your main bottleneck? What's driving that high CPU?

Without knowing more about your setup I'd offload assets to S3 and switch from Passenger to Unicorn.

1 point by davidj 4 days ago 0 replies      
turn on mysql connection pooling and install Google Web Accelerator, you'll have to switch to apache to do Google Web Accelerator though.
1 point by vanni 5 days ago 0 replies      
1 point by zachahack 5 days ago 0 replies      
First of all, congrats on your problems :) I've signed up, and things are responsive.

1. Implement caching.
2. Get faster servers to handle your 'debutant' phase' ex: EC2
3. bask in limelight, enjoy!

1 point by iAmVinnieV 5 days ago 0 replies      
Congrats on executing the idea and the traffic surge. Looks like you're on the front page of TechCrunch so you'll have more traffic coming your way.
1 point by WALoeIII 5 days ago 0 replies      
1 point by HackrNwsDesignr 5 days ago 1 reply      
What does MVP stand for?
0 points by jagira 5 days ago 0 replies      
You are on Techcrunch!!!!

I will pray for you.

0 points by stef25 5 days ago 0 replies      
Great idea! BRB, working on sixwords.me
-2 points by anilbioma 5 days ago 0 replies      
I just don't get it, what problem does this app solves anyway? Plus, HN has become a promotional playground, this really piss me off.
-4 points by dotcoma 5 days ago 1 reply      
what do you do? stick ads all over the place!
what do you think, you have a business there?
like twitter? yeah, sure, raise another 200 million...
-2 points by veb 5 days ago 1 reply      
I created at stupid app a week ago, called http://wonklyrics.com where the point is to enter a songs lyrics, and change one word to make it more... funnier.

Sadly to say, it's received a total of 300 visits. :-P

New cave found in Vietnam: "A skyscraper could fit" nationalgeographic.com
308 points by cwan 1 day ago   47 comments top 17
25 points by erreon 1 day ago 0 replies      
It's amazing and kind of freaky how often explorers still find new things on Earth. I cannot wait for more money to be spent on undersea exploration.
23 points by frou_dh 1 day ago 1 reply      
That's gorgeous. Reminds me of the kind of scenes you see in adventuring video games, only more intricate.
8 points by rickmode 1 day ago 1 reply      
4 points by jarin 1 day ago 1 reply      
Amazing natural wonder. Although I will say that a small part of me wants to see it transformed into a real-life version of Ironforge.
9 points by TGJ 1 day ago 2 replies      
It's almost painful to see them drilling holes into the rock face. I understand the need but a part of me wants to get all greenpeace and kick the human invaders out.
4 points by jcfrei 1 day ago 5 replies      
I wonder how they took the pictures. Was there enough light in the cave thru some holes in the ceiling? Did they install huge lamps or did they use a very long exposure (seems unlikely by looking at the people).

either way stunning and surreal photographs!

6 points by veb 1 day ago 0 replies      
Oh wow at the Jungle inside it... that's pretty amazing. I don't think I've ever seen such a beautiful cave.
5 points by kylelibra 1 day ago 2 replies      
Isn't this part of the plot of Neal Stephenson's Cryptonomicon?


3 points by harscoat 1 day ago 2 replies      
Even after reading the text version, wondering how come these caves were not discovered before, especially after such a military focus on the region.
1 point by chanux 1 day ago 0 replies      
Brings back memories. I've been in a similar (very) small scale limestone cave in Sri Lanka.

The entrance, the great wall, the waterfall and the cactus garden were some very similar to what I see in photos. Unfortunately I couldn't take any good pics with the point and shoot and the flash light I had at the time. Above the cave was a forest with huge trees. There was a stream going through the cave and in rainy season it makes it impossible to go inside the cave, just like in 'Hang Son Doong'.

Sorry for the useless rant. I was too excited :)

Some not so detailed pics of Wawulpana I found in the Internet. http://pics.kathe13.de/thumbnails.php?album=40

And some more information http://www.srilankanwaterfalls.net/waterfalls/wawulpana.htm

3 points by shkb 1 day ago 0 replies      
Nice 3D fly-through. Nat geo also made a documentary about surveying the cave (World's Biggest Cave).


1 point by joshfraser 1 day ago 2 replies      
Beautiful. This is the first time I've ever wanted to visit Vietnam.
1 point by epochwolf 1 day ago 2 replies      
The photo gallery requires flash which my iPad does not have. :(
3 points by slacker2 1 day ago 0 replies      
I would love to find the set of pictures in hi-res.
1 point by t3rcio 1 day ago 0 replies      
It's like a Prehistoric cenaries
-4 points by rrival 1 day ago 1 reply      
This isn't reddit
Dating Denial of Service attack reddit.com
289 points by mcantelon 13 hours ago   90 comments top 15
41 points by DevX101 12 hours ago 4 replies      
There was another pretty interesting post a while back along similar lines. The guy set up a fake profile with a very attractive guy, a great job, and an exciting persona. Basically every woman's dream guy.

He then used this fake profile to message the girls he was interested in. Pretty much every woman opened up their souls, dreams, and wishes to this fake Cassanova. He then uses this inside information to make his real self more interesting and the conversation more engaging when he messages them and goes on dates.

23 points by keiferski 11 hours ago 5 replies      
So they created fake accounts and pretended to be attractive women, just to get with a random girl? If that's not the definition of creepy, I don't know what is. The fact that he doesn't want the girl to find out should make this obvious -- any woman who found out you were doing this would be put off immediately, as they should be.

Instead of spending so much time with some weird scheme in an attempt to put down the "hunks," how about just becoming a more attractive and more interesting person on your own? Newsflash, guys: women are attracted to confidence and a sense of self-worth, among other things, not complex mechanisms to distract the other guys.

There are two ways to be the biggest building. One is to tear down the other buildings. Or two, just build the biggest building.
- Gary V

Sorry, but this is just really strange, and the lack of ANY negative feedback on here or Reddit is even more disconcerting.

21 points by ck2 11 hours ago 3 replies      
Guys, if you do this, just remember that when they use their best friend to hit on you to see if you'll cheat, and how upset that makes you when you find out.

Turn-about is fair play if you aren't going to be straight-up about things.

8 points by vaksel 11 hours ago 1 reply      
i don't see how this would work since most guys use the shotgun approach, so none of the women would stop receiving messages.

+ most women get something like 200 messages a week..so even if the numbers went down, they'd still have plenty of messages.

Granted it might work somewhere in the middle of Montana with 20,000 people within 200 miles.

1 point by dantkz 15 minutes ago 0 replies      
Somehow reminds me of this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HbJHkwHZCCM

Will this approach work on the job offers websites?

11 points by bobf 12 hours ago 1 reply      
This seems like a great answer in response to the YC application's "hack" question.
11 points by iamdave 12 hours ago 3 replies      
Anyone else slightly reminded of that scene from A Beautiful Mind reading this?
1 point by noodle 1 hour ago 0 replies      
i think that the fact that (1) they perceived this was necessary and (2) this worked, shows that online dating needs a better way of doing things.
7 points by shadowmatter 11 hours ago 0 replies      
This is similar to the Sybil attack in peer-to-peer networking. From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sybil_attack: "A Sybil attack is one in which an attacker subverts the reputation system of a peer-to-peer network by creating a large number of pseudonymous entities, using them to gain a disproportionately large influence."
13 points by ambirex 12 hours ago 3 replies      
I saw this earlier today and thought, while it was a less than honorable thing to do, it was a pretty clever bit of social engineering.
19 points by pharrington 12 hours ago 0 replies      
Survival of the fittest in 2011.
7 points by DarrenLehane 12 hours ago 0 replies      
A visionary, to say the least.
0 points by AdamGibbins 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Service Unavailable

The server is temporarily unable to service your request. Please try again later.


-3 points by Strunk 8 hours ago 0 replies      
Haha! This is f-king awesome! :)
-1 point by skbohra123 7 hours ago 1 reply      
Reddit posts are generally useless talks. Cross posting from reddit, solves anything ? This looks out of scope to me.
Cassandra vs MongoDB vs CouchDB vs Redis vs Riak comparison kkovacs.eu
284 points by kkovacs 4 days ago   87 comments top 19
39 points by antirez 4 days ago 3 replies      
I like this article: while it is for sure not the definitive guide to NoSQL, it is a short description mostly about facts that people new to the field can use to get an idea about what a good candidate could be for initial experimentation, given a defined problem to solve.

That said I think that picking the good database is something you can do only with a lot of work. Picking good technologies for your project is hard work, so there is to try one, and another and so forth, and even reconsidering after a few years (or months?) the state of the things again, given the evolution speed of the DB panorama in the recent years.

While I'm at it I like to share that in this exact days I'm working at a Redis disk back end. I've already a prototype working after a few days of full immersion (I like to use vacation time to work at completely new ideas for Redis).

The idea is that everything is stored on disk, in what is a plain key-value database (complex values are serialized when on disk), and the memory is instead used as an object cache.
It is like taking current Redis Virtual Memory and inverting the logic completely, the result is the same (working set in memory, the rest on disk), but this implementation means that there are no limits on the data you can put into a single instance, that you don't have slow restarts (data is not loaded on memory if not demanded), and there isn't to fork() to save. Keys marked as "dirty" (modified) are transfered to disk asynchronously as needed, by IO threads.

If everything will work as I expect (and initial tests are really encouraging) this means that Redis 2.4 will exit in a few months completely killing the current Virtual Memory implementation in favor of the new "two back ends" design, where you can select if you want to run an in-memory DB or an on-disk DB where memory is just an LRU cache for the working set.

14 points by ghshephard 4 days ago 3 replies      
Worth adding HBase?

Much below Stolen from their overview page (All needs to be confirmed): http://hbase.apache.org/


MAIN POINT: Hadoop Database


PROTOCOL: A REST-ful Web service gateway

This project's goal is the hosting of very large tables -- billions of rows X millions of columns -- atop clusters of commodity hardware.

HBase is an open-source, distributed, versioned, column-oriented store modeled after Google' Bigtable: A Distributed Storage System for Structured Data by Chang et al. Just as Bigtable leverages the distributed data storage provided by the Google File System, HBase provides Bigtable-like capabilities on top of Hadoop. HBase includes:

Convenient base classes for backing Hadoop MapReduce jobs with HBase tables

Query predicate push down via server side scan and get filters

Optimizations for real time queries

A high performance Thrift gateway

A REST-ful Web service gateway that supports XML, Protobuf,
and binary data encoding options

Cascading, hive, and pig source and sink modules

Extensible jruby-based (JIRB) shell

Support for exporting metrics via the Hadoop metrics subsystem to files or Ganglia; or via JMX

HBase 0.20 has greatly improved on its predecessors:

No HBase single point of failure

Rolling restart for configuration changes and minor upgrades

Random access performance on par with open source relational databases such as MySQL

FOR EXAMPLE: Facebook Messaging Database

BEST USE: Use it when you need random, realtime read/write access to your Big Data.

9 points by benblack 4 days ago 0 replies      
This article is mostly marketing phrases from the websites of the various projects. Sadly, much of it is inaccurate, extremely skewed, or otherwise not useful for the stated purpose of comparing the listed databases.

For example, CouchDB having a "Main Point" of "DB consistency" might be the case, as it is for Redis, when there is no replication. In replicated configurations, it is definitely not true. Further, the MVCC is weaker in many ways than in a Dynamo system like Riak as you have no way to influence or discover consistency between replicas.

I'm sure folks expert in other systems can identify similar errors in the rest of the post. Can someone explain to me who the target audience is for all these NoSQL comparison articles? They are universally poor, yet universally popular.

19 points by littleidea 4 days ago 4 replies      
Apples vs Oranges vs Strawberries vs Pineapple vs Grapes

Apples usually stay crispy unless baked. Good in pies.

Oranges can be sour (or sweet). Do not bake.

Strawberries are red. Good in pies, advise against baking.

Pineapples are rough on the outside. Good fresh, baked, grilled, fried, debatable on pizza.

Grapes come in many colors and sizes. Great fresh or turned into alcoholic beverages.

(Not the worst introduction to fruit, but perhaps superficial? Amirite?)

6 points by arethuza 4 days ago 4 replies      
My understanding is that in CouchDB you can't guarantee that older versions of documents will still exists (they might be there, but they could have been removed by compaction or not replicated).

However, there is a fairly nice way of storing older versions of documents - hold older versions as file attachments on the document. See:


8 points by kkovacs 4 days ago 0 replies      
I think it's a nice closing word from @jzy:

A SQL query goes into a bar, walks up to two tables and asks,
"Can I join you?"
"No, but you can enjoy the view."

Sorry :)


14 points by ocharles 4 days ago 4 replies      
> While SQL databases are insanely useful tools, their tyranny of ~15 years is coming to an end

This shit, AGAIN? Really? No, they are not.

3 points by nl 4 days ago 1 reply      
CouchDB & MongoDB both share one property that this comparison misses (or mentions only in passing).

Both are schema free datastores. For me, this is the biggest, most useful difference between them and traditional SQL databases, because it makes things easy that are very, very hard (or inefficient) on an SQL database.

It's probably also worth noting that other NoSQL solutions don't share this advantage. For example, Cassandra requires all nodes to be restarted to apply a schema change, which can be quite a big deal.

5 points by markoa 4 days ago 0 replies      
What we're missing are similar arricles that go into disadvantages and implications on deployment.

Eg I have found out that deploying Tokyo Tyrant in a Rails project requires you to write some sčripts to ensure that things run properly. Also the db size has to be set in configuration in advance.

MongoDB OTOH is not designed for a single server environment, has a very small max document size, easily gets corrupted if process is stopped etc.

1 point by lukev 4 days ago 2 replies      
Interesting and useful.

One major feature differentiator is something it doesn't really talk about, though - how conducive is each system to Massive Data?

For example, he kind of has a bone to pick with Cassandra, which is probably justified. But from what little I know, one of the features of Cassandra is that it's designed to scale pretty much to infinity. That may be true of a couple of the others, but for some (like CouchDB) it isn't a design goal at all.

3 points by schmichael 4 days ago 2 replies      
Under protocols you may want to specify MongoDB's as BSON and Cassandra's as Thrift. That would be more helpful than "binary/custom".


Also Redis's main selling point is it's extensive data structure/operations support. "Blazingly fast" really depends on what your workload is and what you're comparing it against.

1 point by redthrowaway 4 days ago 2 replies      
So if Cassandra writes are much faster than reads, why would Reddit go that route? Their comment server is consistently breaking on them, and it would seem that a sub-optimal choice of db might be partly to blame.
3 points by fjabre 4 days ago 2 replies      

Using it in a recent project and it's been working great for us.

2 points by mikeytown2 4 days ago 1 reply      
I was hoping HandlerSocket would be in here. If you don't know about it, check it out http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=1886137
2 points by waratuman 4 days ago 2 replies      
You mention that some of these solution could be used in the Financial industry. I would be cautious of using these, especially since some are eventually consistent. If you are just tracking data these may be fine though.
4 points by jchrisa 4 days ago 1 reply      
Couch actually uses a first-write wins model (MVCC optimistic concurrency) not a last-write-wins model. The difference between those two is huge.
1 point by paxa 2 days ago 0 replies      
Also is VertexDB - small graph database. It's written in C, uses Tokyo Cabinet for storing data. Simple http filesystem-like interface. The general advantage - links, that allow to make graph structures on database level.


1 point by laran 4 days ago 0 replies      
Nice writeup. A good survey of some key tools in the NoSQL space. Thanks!
1 point by ares2012 4 days ago 1 reply      
I'm curious why you wouldn't include HBase as it's the dominant solution for NoSQL in systems requiring data consistency?
Visualization of stock market performance over time, adjusted for inflation nytimes.com
285 points by noahlt 1 day ago   79 comments top 18
32 points by vanschelven 1 day ago 2 replies      
IMHO the colors are somewhat misleading.
Since the data have already been corrected for taxes and inflation positive returns are net-positive and should be green. In the original picture even 0-3% returns were red.

This is what it looks after shifting all the colors one step towards green:


6 points by noahlt 1 day ago 6 replies      
Investing in index funds has been lauded around here, but the goodness of that strategy revolves around its consistency in returning 10% over ten to twenty years. This graph makes index funds look much less consistent!

Does this graph debunk the index fund strategy, or am I missing something?

5 points by jmulho 21 hours ago 0 replies      
Here is a summary of the 71 20-year holding periods on record.

color return occurs chances

red <0% 8 11.3%

pink 0-3% 18 25.4%

beige 3-7% 31 43.7%

light green 7-10% 14 19.7%

dark green >10% 0 0.0%

Here is the 20 year growth multiple at various returns.

return multiple

-0.02 0.67

-0.01 0.82

0 1.00

0.01 1.22

0.02 1.49

0.03 1.81

0.04 2.19

0.05 2.65

0.06 3.21

0.07 3.87

0.08 4.66

0.09 5.60

0.1 6.73

0.11 8.06

Optimistic conclusion:

If you hold a diversified portfolio of large domestic stocks for 20 years, you will likely double (and maybe even quadruple) your spending power.

The chances of ending up with less than your original spending power: 11.3%.

The chances of quadrupling your original spending power (exceeding 7% per year): 19.7%.

The chances of achieving 6.73 times your original spending power (the elusive 10% per year): It hasn't occurred yet.

8 points by MarkMc 1 day ago 1 reply      
This is a great visualisation - it's easy to understand, and punches you in the face with information that would be difficult to convey through words alone.

One example is that the first few years give no clue as to your long-run outcome. In fact, the first year may as well have been a coin flip. This shows what rubbish articles with a 1-year timeframe like this are:

6 points by harscoat 1 day ago 0 replies      
Great submit to HN: not because of the money stuff but because of this great visualization. Me thinks, to emulate and try to produce such great data visualization for our users, that's our best investment plan.
4 points by grammaton 18 hours ago 1 reply      
Why is this only tracking the S&P 500? Wouldn't a saavy investor be choosing from a wider range of stocks than just the ones in the S&P?
2 points by jond2062 19 hours ago 1 reply      
Although it may spark some interesting conversation and debate, this chart isn't really all that relevant in light of modern portfolio theory and asset allocation. While I don't disagree with the data itself, the premise that a reasonable retirement portfolio would include a single mutual fund (or ETF) that is composed of 100% stocks, not to mention the fact that they are primarily large-cap growth stocks (the S&P 500), is illogical at best.

Not only should a retirement portfolio be exposed to a much wider range of risk factors than simply large-cap U.S. growth/blend stocks (bonds, TIPS, international stocks, REITs, small-cap value, etc.), but holding only a single asset class eliminates the possibility for an investor to rebalance their portfolio to maintain an appropriate asset allocation that is in line with their ability, willingess, and need to take risk (not to mention the fact that rebalancing, by definition, requires an investor to sell investments that have increased in price and purchase those that have decreased in price).

In my opinion, a more interesting chart is The Callan Periodic Table of Investment Returns: http://www.callan.com/research/download/?file=periodic/free/...

Quite simply it demonstrates that the performance of different asset classes relative to each other can change drastically from one year to the next. It would actually be a much better chart if it included more asset classes, but at the very least it shows that returns are unpredictable in the near-term and that diversification doesn't simply mean holding a bunch of stocks (especially when they are all large-cap U.S. growth/blend like the S&P 500).

6 points by pama 1 day ago 1 reply      
Does anyone know how inflation was adjusted?
1 point by gojomo 19 hours ago 0 replies      
Great chart. Would love to see something similar as an option on finance sites, with controllable assumptions/coloring, for any investment/portfolio (or pairwise comparison of two).

I suspect a reversing of one or the other axis might help: putting the shortest, most-recent holding periods top-right, for example, so those periods overlapping living memory are most prominent.

1 point by stretchwithme 13 hours ago 0 replies      
I guess this all depends on how you measure inflation.

If the S&P 500 is compared against something more stable than paper money like gold, similar things emerge:


The declines on this graph map to the red areas on the nytimes graphic.

1 point by iwwr 1 day ago 2 replies      
Compare a stock portfolio with a simple precious metals basket. The stock market is a poor longterm store of value.

It's very hard to stay ahead of inflation with securities whose value can be fudged by cheap money. In fact, pension funds can't even make +inflation guarantees, only best efforts through low-risk investments. And even if they did, they would be lying.

9 points by alexk7 1 day ago 1 reply      
The chart is not color-blind friendly :(
1 point by myth_drannon 1 day ago 1 reply      
This chart is pretty useless following the current world events. Right now stock market(US & EU) is supported by QE,QE1.5,QE2 and the next QEs. The tools that could be used to analyze the previous years are worthless.
1 point by jvdongen 1 day ago 1 reply      
I'm a noob regarding investing, so bear with me if I use incorrect terms or kick open doors that are already open etc. but if my interpretation of this graph is correct, it also offers some guidelines for investing in funds (not individual companies):

1) from the visual it seems to me that the starting year is the most relevant. If you start in a good year, it will mostly turn out right, regardless whenever your end (exceptions aside, for which see point 2). If you start in a bad year it will mostly work out badly unless you really have some time to spare or manage to run into a very rare occasion (e.g. starting in 1947 and ending in the mid 1950's). But that's just from the visual, which can be very misleading, so the raw data points would be interesting to do some statistic exercises. If that holds true though, it could be a good guideline - assess the current returns of a particular fund and do not invest [in it] if the current returns are not high enough. While this would make you, by definition, miss out on any really spectacular returns, it could reduce risk enormously without sacrificing much in terms of returns.

2) if you happen to have invested in a fund that took a nose-dive, hang on to it and don't sell for a long while, as in the long run you're apparently very likely to end up at the 20-year median (guess it's called a median for a reason ;-) which is not too bad. At the very least your loss is going to be minimized with time.

1 point by kevinburke 13 hours ago 1 reply      
Does the chart take into account the fact that returns compound over time? How were the values calculated?
1 point by NHQ 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Conclusions: deflation is good, and you should put all your money in the stock market for a short period of time.
1 point by thinkdifferent 1 day ago 1 reply      
Just finished reading "A Random Walk down Wall Street" and I must confess I expected more consistency and less volatility in index funds returns.

Great eye-opening graph.

@MarkMc very good point

-1 point by 1010011010 1 day ago 3 replies      
"High inflation led to negative returns."

True, dat. Printing money doesn't make us richer.

Breaking a WoW addiction pixelpoppers.com
272 points by dreeves 4 days ago   192 comments top 43
26 points by cletus 4 days ago 4 replies      
I'll add my perspective to this as someone who was addicted to a similar game.

I started playing Everquest (EQ) soon after launch in 1999 and leveled pretty quickly hitting the max level cap at the time (50) not long before the first expansion came out. At the time played wi an American guild (I'm Australian) and the time difference stopped me doing things with them most of them time since I had a 9-5 job. My server split and I went with them. The new server was fairly desolate and I ended up getting booted from lack of participation. That, combined with how my class had been screwed by the expansion, caused me to quit.

But I ended up selling my stuff on eBay for ~$3500 so it wasn't all bad. But the story doesn't end there.

Atually anoeth factor was that I was moving to the UK for work. That first year the was one of the most productive of my life. I had no Internet access at home (2001), no TV and a fairly active social life. Due to living in a cheap area of London, renting a flat and subletting the rooms and the low rate of effective taxation of contractors I SAVED in excess of $100,000 that year.

After some drama with flatmates (subletting was financially beneficial but a hassle) I moved closer to work. Suddenlyinsread of an our commute each way I had a 5 minute walk. I got cable Internet and bought a PC and a TV.

I started playing EQ again. New server, new class, starting from scratch. I leveled quickly and went through a series of guilds. Raiding can be a huge timesink. This period was the most fun I had in an MMORPG ever.

Later that year I got laid off as in the aftermath of the telco bubble bursting the previous year (it was 2002 by now).

I'd always wanted to learn a foreign language soi moved to Germany and enrolled in intensive learning classes.

But I still kept up with EQ. I transferred servers to a high end guild. The guild was American so I ended up sleeping from 7pm to 1am, playing EQ from 1am to 8am, going to classes til 1pm and then playing til 6pm. I never really adjusted to sleeping at these times.

But I did go to classes. After they ended I stayed and was playing up to 16 hours a day. In the end I got kicked from the guild for doing something I shouldn't have, which was probably the best thing that could've happened.

Still I view that time now as a wasted opportunity. I did learn the language but not as well as I could have and I certainly take full advantage socially or even to see and do things there.

But not before I'd gone back to my old company (they were hiring again) and my weird schedule had brought me into conflict with a toxic project manager, ending that job only a month after it had started.

2002-03 was a pretty terrible time in the UK contractor market (39% unemployment amongst those who hadn't left the industry). It took months to find a new job. I'd also lost that "social" outlet of EQ so was pretty cut off. It was actually a fairly dark period for me.

I have played MMOGs since then but never to the same intensity and, frankly, I think the magic was gone. I'd seen it all before. Even now I think all these games are fairly formulaic with the same basic mechanics and psychological devices (compulsion loops, etc).

What I learnt about myself is that I'm fairly singleminded. This can be used advantageously as I'll dwel on a problem at work until I solve it. But if I have an unresolved issue personally it can, in a way, consume me--or at least consume my attention.

I do think I'd be better off without a TV or even without a home Internet connection. But I guess balance is my personal cross to bear.

Are these games dangerous? Possibly but I tend to thinkpretty much everything is dangerous to some people. Alcohol. Gambling. Trading. Even working out. It ultimately comes down to personal responsibility.

EDIT: One last thing I'll add: one problem with this kind of game is the longevity (timesink) nature. You see a similar (but much less severe) problem with tabletop RPGs. Because you invest so much time it increases your threshold for putting up with crap, basically.

In RPGs it might be a 7 hour session where nothing happens. In MMOGs it's spending 1-2 hours LFG (looking for group), a week figuring out a raid encounter, spending an our doing a CR (corpse recovery) and so on.

These days my leisure gaming activities are dominated by tabletop board gaming of the Euro variety (Agricola, Age of Steam, Reef Encounter, Le Havre, Dominion and so on). These tend to last 2-3 hours tops and, as such, have very little "downtime". I find it a much more rewarding experience than huge timesink games of any variety. Plus it's actually social.

On a side note, if there is anyone in NYC with interest I playing such games, contact me via my info. :)

EDIT2: fixed some typos (typing on an iPad is error-prone), :)

46 points by xal 3 days ago 5 replies      
It seems to be stated as a fact in this discussion that you can't play a game such as WoW and do anything other productive on the side, but it's a lot more nuanced.

Anecdotally, I've been playing WoW almost non stop since it launched and have been raiding once to three times a week. During this time I also got married, had a kid, founded Shopify, overtook the CEO role, grew it to be a multi million dollar business. In this community that seems far from being a failure.

I'm engaging in anecdotal junk science here but my theory is that the people who really loose themselves in games like WoW are people with very poor time management skills. I'm convinced those people have always been around before. However, previously almost all activities came with some inherent caps on the time you can productively spend on those. All sports wear you out and force you to stop after some time. TV repeats pretty quickly and there is no original content during the night. Reading works but that's a socially fully acceptable timesink.

WoW is just extremely good game that fulfills a lot Maslow's needs, especially the top ones. There is a great asymmetry in the lure of this game and the established defenses of some people.

I think one of the key parts of parenting for our generation will be to equipt our children with the time management skills and the willpower to handle and enjoy games like WoW properly.

36 points by ramanujan 4 days ago 3 replies      
What WoW needs to do is start hooking in-game rewards to real-life rewards.

For example, a deal with 24 Hour Fitness where you need to attend for 30 days in a row to unlock some kind of sword. The biometric system at 24 Hour is now sophisticated enough to permit this kind of tracking [with your permission of course].

I'm completely serious. This is an inversion of the Zynga model in which real life money is exchanged for worthless virtual goods. It's more like worthless virtual goods are dangled as an incentive for real life improvement.

There's a lot further you can go with this concept (hooking it up to location based apps, for example), but if we're talking about a "game layer on the world", start with converting an unhealthy dependency into a healthy one.

50 points by forensic 4 days ago replies      
Caveat: it's very easy to extend the criticism of WoW to life itself.

Working all these years to be a paramedic, going to school, going to work, for what? To drive some people to the hospital? They're all just going to die anyway. Life is meaningless!

What the author is really saying is: "I find more meaning in the real world than in WoW."

But this isn't necessarily true for everyone.

Having said all that, I think WOW is more dangerous than heroin.

7 points by stevefink 3 days ago 1 reply      
Haven't had a chance to read the article yet - but I already see where this is going. I essentially lost a chunk of my life from 21 to 23yo playing EverQuest with a guild that was rated one of the best to ever play the game. With that came the caveat of constantly being the first at conquering new expansions, leveling as fast as possible so you CAN conquer the new expansions, and end less other power play moves (questing for keys, blah blah).

Long story short - my life was rather pathetic during these times. I found myself so immersed in the MMORPG world that I'd pick raids and my friends in the game over family/friends for any circumstances. Birthday parties, engagement parties, night out with friends at the bars, hacking all night on something that can potentially change the lives of people one day -- all gone. Zero motivation, zero care in the world except to get that new robe for my necromancer.

I remember my friends would drive by the window and start screaming for me to come out with them for once. I would literally turn off the lights in my room so they couldn't tell if I was home or not. Sad.

We had raids that lasted from 6pm on a Friday night and wouldn't end until 12am on Saturday. Anyone remember Veeshan's Peak in Kunark for EQ? Not only was my social life directly impacted by way of never having a significant other, I wasn't picking up any new programming skills, my family was constantly on my case, and my close friends eventually just stopped calling, they gave up. What was more embarrassing is the once in a blue moon when I would show up some where, the comments were unbearable. "Oh look, Steve decided to join us instead of his MMORPG friends for a change."

I am not exactly sure where I am going with this - but one day when I woke up and saw five empty 2 liter bottles of coke with ten boxes of pizza collecting, lying next to my desk, I was disgusted with myself and my lifestyle. I was over weight. I probably didn't shower as much as I should have. I was disgusted with myself and my lifestyle. I was burning the most crucial years of my life away on something meaningless. These are the times to be learning and exercising your brain beyond its capabilities as learning only gets more difficult through out the ages. I bet most of you were writing bad ass code when you were 21,22,23 and learned a lot faster then than you do now if you're part of the older HN crew.

Given my competitive nature, I was never able to play an MMORPG casually. I had to be #1. Being #1 requires a lot of dedication (ie, time invested), and if you are not willing to put in the time, don't bother, you'll never be as good as the other guy or have the same inventory or capabilities as them. You'll be average at best. I have the sense that a large population of HN does not settle for average given the intelligence of the community.

Long story short, the only escape I had was to go cold turkey. Going cold turkey doesn't mean saying "Ok, I'm not going to login ever again" - that never works out. You always get sucked back in at some point. I had to go the drastic route. I had to sell all of my assets, which sold for $5,000 USD at the time. There was times when I was going through withdrawals and wanted to purchase my account back, but the original buyer refused. Thank god he did.

Saying that this was one of the smartest things I've ever done would be a huge understatement. I've achieved things I'm personally proud of since quitting playing any MMORPG including the following:

- I have a healthy balance of a social life and work life.

- I am respected among my peers for building new technologies/infrastructure out.

  - I got married to the love of my life and had a baby girl with her, which is now the most important person in my life.

- I have worked at startups where I've learned priceless lessons.

- I bought a house that I would never be able to afford if I stuck to MMORPGs as my skills were no where near as blossomed as they are now - I'm assuming I'd be working an entry level job somewhere filling in Excel spreadsheets if I kept it up. Even then, I'd be lucky.

Good riddance. Do I still think about the days I played and get a small itch? Sure. I even keep in touch via Facebook with a lot of the people who suffered a similar addiction to me. Will I ever touch another MMORPG? I can guarantee you on my daughter's name that I will never get involved in one again. Fortunately my addiction now includes a healthy balance of time with my family, building awesome technologies, eating right and working out.

8 points by slyn 4 days ago 3 replies      
eeeeehhh. As a very avid WoW player of some years now, I would say WoW is something that can easily be something that holds your "life progress" or whatever you want to call it back, but it can also just as easily be played at a successful level (define that however you like) without that effect as well.

In the guild I'm in now and a guild I was in in the past I see both: players who are quite literally on welfare or unemployment and just play WoW and other games all day (colloquially "living the dream", mostly tongue-in-cheek), while others have what I would consider successful lives. One of our best priests works as some sort of company programmer or server maintainer/admin. Our best healing druid entered his first bodybuilding contest sometime in September of this year and plans on doing another next August iirc. Our guild/raid leader has an office 9-5 selling toys to retailers or something like that. Lots are in college, myself included. An old guild officer of mine was a Googler. A decent amount have wives/kids/gfs/main squeezes. etc.

I think the best argument of the post is the social obligations point. There are definitely some people who do "no-life" for the guild and such, but again, I think this is a some do some don't thing (as well as being limited to basically people in guild leadership situations). For every guild leader or officer I know who hasn't left a dead-end guild because of a feeling of obligations to the guild, I probably know twice as many officers who did left anyways, and 3-4x as many raiders who did as well. Anecdotally speaking, I left a guild where I was probably next in line to be guild/raid lead for a much better one, and am now debating doing some sort of ESL teach/travel program next year despite having been an officer in my new guild for roughly 6 months now.

10 points by merijnv 4 days ago 1 reply      
As someone who has played and stopped WoW for significant times over the past years. I think the article has some valid points about the addictiveness of WoW, on the other hand I feel that the choice between "real" work and WoW as presented here is a false dichotomy. "Real" work and WoW are not mutually exclusive.

The writer says he started playing he has spend his time working out. I started swimming for 40 minutes each day while playing WoW, a habit I continue now that I stopped.

He also states what if you spend the time you invest in WoW into achieving your goals. But you can't just work 24/7. I spend 8 hours a day doing research and hacking at the university, when I get home I just don't have the focus left in me to code or study. In the past I spend this time playing WoW, right now I spend this time reading fiction or hanging in front of the TV.

Now probably there are people who lose themselves entirely to the game and can't bring up the discipline to also work on their goals, but as everything in life, its really just about balancing yourself.

PS - I actually found myself being more productive during my WoW playing times then during my non-playing times. Reason? If I needed to do something I would not allow myself to log in until it was done. WoW was more addictive then procrastinating so I'd just knuckle down and do it. Now if I need to do something I find myself reading HN instead of just doing it...

11 points by bretpiatt 4 days ago 4 replies      
Is playing a social game where you interact with other people any different than going out to a club or bar? Joining a bowling league? A cycling group? A health club where you go to regular group exercise classes?

The meme that video games are inherently evil needs to go away. Why is it socially acceptable to join many clubs and spend time with those people all the time but not "people on the Internet"? Like the Internet is somewhere only people that can't make "real friends" go..

Addiction to anything is bad but playing WoW or any other online game doesn't mean you're automatically "a loser" in the rest of your life -- and I don't mean just casually playing. There are people in all of the top guilds achieving high ranked world kills on new content that are also successful in other areas of their life.

9 points by awt 4 days ago 1 reply      
Here's my perspective as the friend of someone who became addicted to WoW:

I lost a potential programming buddy/co-founder. we used to collaborate on projects, but eventually WoW took up all his spare time. We both graduated with CS degrees, but he is now unemployable. He played WoW instead of working (he worked from home), and has never spent any time outside of work maintaining his skills. I say worked because he no longer works. Hasn't for the past 3 years. Right now he's into starcraft. It's frustrating to me that he and others I built relationships with in college have chosen this path.

6 points by DanielBMarkham 4 days ago 1 reply      
Game makers (and some website owners) are discovering what some religious and cult leaders have known for thousands of years: you don't have to give somebody a drug to make them an addict. People are perfectly capable of generating their own addictions without external chemical help.

I _think_ what's going to happen is that we come up with a new moral code -- much like the thing where drinking before a certain time was considered bad, or the idea of doctors prescribing pain pills for themselves anathema.

But really, it beats me. We have a generation of people addicted to a sedentary activity in a way that's never happened in human history. It's very difficult to predict how all this will play out.

5 points by Luyt 4 days ago 2 replies      
I play WoW for five years now. When I started, I used to be an occasional player. But when I hit level 60 (that was the highest level a few years ago) it was impossible to advance further without being in a regular raiding guild. So I started hardcoring: obligatory raids from 19:00 to 23:30, each evening, five evenings per week. Lower attendance was not tolerated. And gathering/grinding materials for potions/powerups afterwards, util 01:00 or so. This took place in a few months around the summer of 2006. The reward was worth it: access to all high-level content, epic items, and being member of the most succesful guild on the server. However, after a few months hardcoring like this, the game felt more and more like a boring job. One day I realized that with this playing style, I would quickly lose all interest in this game, which I didn't want, so I quit the guild (only hardcorers were allowed to stay in) and changed to a casual player, which I still am today.

I didn't want to quit altogether because there was so much more game content to check out (I enjoy the sights & sounds of WoW very much), and so many other classes to try. Up until then I played exclusively Holy Priest.

Blizzard must have somehow realized that players weren't able to get any further without hardcoring. The last years they have created more and more features for the casual player: the Dungeon Finder system, player-vs-player battlegrounds, cross-realm instances, other reward systems; all these have lessened the dependence on a guild.

I now sometimes fire up WoW, not everyday, and play a few hours. I still like it, after all these years (and 3 expansion packs).

5 points by amh 3 days ago 1 reply      
I know a guy who's really, really into football. Watches hours of games every other night or so, has a "fantasy" team that he's constantly fretting over and checking online stats for, etc.

As far as I can tell, the only thing that distinguishes this obsession from a WoW habit is that more people like to watch football, so it's accepted.

People who get seriously addicted to WoW are usually either looking for any escape from reality, or they have the type of personality which tends to get addicted to something, whether it's online games, math puzzles, tracking railroad schedules, or whatever. There's no question that these people might act in unhealthy ways, but WoW is the symptom of their problems, not the cause.

(disclosure: I used to play WoW regularly)

6 points by ThomPete 4 days ago 2 replies      
The problem for me with games like WoW, EQ and so on is that they aren't based enough on skills so to compensate you need to spend a lot of time in the game.

To contrast. In a game like Quake you are only as good as your Rail-gun aim it's pure skills. Or StarCraft for that matter again skills based.

The advantages from these kind of games in combatting addiction is that they are hard to become good at. you can't just get powerleveled up the latter.

The skills stays with you, the same is not true in WoW.

Having seen a couple of friends dropping out of university for a year because of games like EverQuest and WoW my advice is:

Don't play games where it's the avatar that gains power. Only play games that makes you a better player.

6 points by paraschopra 4 days ago 1 reply      
patio11, we need you here. Where are you?

From what I know, Patrick used to spend a lot of time playing WoW. It will be interesting to know what he actually got out of the game and what made him stop playing the game (assuming he has indeed stopped playing the game)

4 points by dfischer 4 days ago 0 replies      
Meh, quit gaming a while back but recently want to try it out again but more just to cool off as a "hobby."

I used to think games were evil and against productivity but no longer. I work a lot. I just want to chill out and relax some times and blow shit up. Maybe do a raid or two, so what?

It's no different then spending 3 hours watching a TV show on Netflix or something similar.

It just depends on how you want to spend your time. If it makes you happy, sure.

I think you need a real job before you can consider gaming a hobby though. Otherwise it can lead to a "full time life gig."

Girlfriend will also help make sure you're not wasting your time.

I'm lucky if I can squeeze out 8 hours a week on games. If that. There's weekends though that I have the whole day to myself and I prefer to play a game for a few hours than go to a club and get drunk.

6 points by dreeves 4 days ago 0 replies      
Related is Paul Graham's essay on the acceleration of addictiveness: http://www.paulgraham.com/addiction.html

(And to add a shameless plug, my own article on akrasia: http://messymatters.com/akrasia )

2 points by ryan-allen 3 days ago 1 reply      
How interesting.

I had been playing like mad since the new expansion came out. The other night in a dispassionate drunken decision I cancelled my subscription AND permanently deleted my characters. I wasn't a hardcore player but over about 14 months I had 1500 odd hours racked up across maybe 10 characters. Around 65 days play time.

I woke up the next day with a pretty bad hangover, but suddenly had a lot of spare time that I usually didn't feel that I had.

I went for a bike ride, caught up with friends, read bits and pieces of some books, played piano and hung out with my dog. Instead of a 16 hour stint trying to 'gear up for the new cata raids'.

Last night I had dreams that I was playing though... But I can't go back, everything is gone! To go back would mean starting again and I don't feel like sinking two months of my spare time into 'levelling up' again.

3 points by swombat 4 days ago 1 reply      
My own experience: http://inter-sections.net/2009/02/21/destroying-the-world-of...

Yes, if you have the right kind of mind, WoW is a soul-sucking, life-destroying monster. Don't let it into your life.

3 points by brianwillis 4 days ago 0 replies      
>Although WoW is a much better game than Farmville, with a substantially different business model, their tactics are fundamentally the same: use your social obligations to keep you clicking. Exploit your friendships, sense of reciprocity, and the joy of being part of a group with shared goals. Turn it all from something commendable to something frivolous that serves mainly to increase the game developer's profits.

This put into words something I've been thinking about for a while, but struggled to articulate. There's something wrong when we start doing this to friendships.

3 points by lwhi 4 days ago 0 replies      
I haven't ever played WoW - and I doubt I ever will, but I would have imagined that the skills gained as a 'guild leader' would be commutable to a lot of management level jobs?

Is this a fair assumption?

4 points by Sharanga 4 days ago 0 replies      
How do you avoid this trap? How do you prevent [subject] from hooking you into a shadow of what you really want? The answer is simple: don't [do it] blindly. Consider what it is you get out of [subject] . Nearly everything the [subject] provides can be found better and more real elsewhere.

Fattening foods? Alcohol abuse? Sex Addiction? oh, WoW.

This is written with the assumption that the reader cannot think for themselves and is quite insulting to anyone that reads past half of these subjective assertions.

"at the same time there was something disquieting about the fact that all these people were still around"

Sorry your friends didn't die, change all of their habits entirely, or live up to your random expectations of what constitutes too much and too little involvement in a computer game.

Seriously though, its been out how many years, and using plenty of comics and quotations to express this point, its taken you 18 months to regurgitate this same tired public service announcement? This is just trolling literate people that have thought about playing games in the last decade!

1 point by charlesdm 3 days ago 1 reply      
Here's my perspective --

I've played WoW pretty hardcore for a little bit less than two years before I quit. For me, I can actually say that the experience was beneficial to some extent. This was around 4,5 years ago, before I even knew HN existed.

Before I started playing the game, I heard some of my friends talk about raiding. For people that are not familiar with the concept, once you reach the maximum level in the game you join a guild. Once you're in that guild, you can go into dungeons with people from your guild and slay bosses. These bosses drop items that in turn allow you to upgrade the gear of your character. The cool thing about these bosses is that some of them actually quite challenging to beat. Once every couple of months, the developers of the game add a new dungeon that you can clear with your guild. They were also talking about these high end guilds that apparently consisted of insanely good players that would clear these dungeons before the masses did.

To give myself a challenge I decided to play the game but with a goal in mind, join one of these guild. Once I managed this I would quit. I began as a noob. I levelled up a character and joined a guild. Once I outgrew this guild I joined a better one.

I played for around a year in this specific guild. While playing here I actually met two people that I would call friends. Their background is so different from mine that the chance is so slim that I could have met them in real life. We've met up several times (in real life) and if I needed their help they'd be there for me. In this guild I was also in charge of leading the group of players through the dungeons. You're in charge of communicating how to do certain things and during the fights you give guidelines if something goes wrong. I raided 4-5 days per week from 19:00 - 23:00ish in this guild.

I then managed to join the guild that was N°1 at that time, together with one of my friends from my previous guild. In this guild, it was all about achieving the world first kill of a boss. It's great when you arrive at a boss and you have no idea as what to expect and how to kill it. It can be a pretty hard puzzle sometimes. If you're not there as one of the first you can read up on proven ways to handle the fight, which is less challenging. Also, contrary to popular belief, these guild usually play less then the other guilds. They go all out when a new dungeon is released (1-2 weeks) and then they play one 5 hour day a week for 4-5 hours a day and they wait for the next one. The funny thing is, the majority of the people that were playing here were also working as lawyers, programmers or were entrepreneurs. I spent a couple of months with the guild and once we cleared the last dungeon and had to wait for the next one, I quit. After that, I also quit the game.

Many people told me I was addicted to it, but considering it was rather easy for me to quit I'd say I wasn't. I was working towards a goal.

So what have I learned? I personally see life as a game. You win some, you lose some. Regardless of what you want to learn or achieve, you can. Also, communication is important in whatever you do, especially when you're in a leadership position. Oh, and I had a great time playing it. :)

1 point by cheald 3 days ago 0 replies      
The author touches on something that is very important: if you're playing WoW as a substitute for accomplishing things/meeting people/etc, therein lies the problem. At the end of the day, WoW is cheap entertainment, and needs to have priority as such.

I've met friends through WoW, but that hasn't supplanted my need to have real friends. I've accomplished things in WoW, but that hasn't been a substitute for accomplishments in my actual, real life. Heck, to extend the metaphor, I've even made good money with WoW, but it's not a replacement for my normal income.

When you let the the serotonin rush from a raiding achievement replace your desire to accomplish tangible things, then you're in trouble. If you use it as entertainment, an augment to an existing healthy life, it's an entirely different story.

At the end of the day, your gear and achievements and whatnot don't mean anything; they are just trophies of time committed. That's fine, as long as that's all they are; when they become a substitute for real success or social involvement, you've crossed over from entertainment to dependence, and it's a long, dark road from there.

3 points by somethingdotcom 3 days ago 0 replies      
I just wanted to add my 2 cents relating to gaming addiction. I've never played WoW so I can't comment on that. But I was kicked out of college indirectly due to my addiction to Counter Strike.

I dunno if the same is true for WoW but one of the reasons I believe Counter Strike is so addictive is the time you have to wait after you get killed, before the next round starts.

I believe this is due to the fact that variable reinforcement schedules are more resistant to extinction:

"Skinner also looked at variable schedules. Variable ratio means you change the “x” each time -- first it takes 3 presses to get a goodie, then 10, then 1, then 7 and so on. Variable interval means you keep changing the time period -- first 20 seconds, then 5, then 35, then 10 and so on.

In both cases, it keeps the rats on their rat toes. With the variable interval schedule, they no longer “pace” themselves, because they can no longer establish a “rhythm” between behavior and reward. Most importantly, these schedules are very resistant to extinction. It makes sense, if you think about it. If you haven't gotten a reinforcer for a while, well, it could just be that you are at a particularly “bad” ratio or interval! Just one more bar press, maybe this'll be the one!"

Counter Strike is a variable interval schedule. Once you die you have to wait an unknown amount of time before you can play again. This makes counter strike playing behavior more resistant to extinction and I believe one of the big reasons why people get so addicted to it. If you respawned the second you died in Counter Strike (as you do in deathmatch) I'm fairly positive there would be a much fewer number of people addicted to the game.
I believe this is quite a big factor in addiction. I haven't heard of anyone addicted to any FPS deathmatch multiplayer game. I'm sure there are some, but much less so than games like counter strike where you have to wait.

1 point by adriand 3 days ago 0 replies      
It's all part of the culture of entertainment we've developed, that is surely partly to blame for the economic situation that western societies are finding themselves in. These anecdotes about individuals extrapolate easily to millions of people who are fixated on various ways to waste time.

I played WoW for about six months when it first came out, and since stopping playing it (and most video games in general) I've often wondered what our society could achieve if the immense creative and mental exertion spent on games was spent on tackling real problems instead.

Certainly some people are working hard at meaningful things and using games as downtime, but I suspect they're a minority.

3 points by trotsky 4 days ago 0 replies      
5 Creepy Ways Video Games Are Trying to Get You Addicted


1 point by jimfl 3 days ago 0 replies      
I have been playing WoW for 4 years, now off and on. My co-workers at the time, some of whom are still my co-workers at a different job, got me into it.

I have found that a good way to moderate my play is to refuse to make appointments to play with others at a specific time. This effectively keeps you from hardcore raiding, and minimizes real-world conflicts around the game (affectionately referred to as "wife-aggro"). Eventually, I get pretty much capped on gear and stats, get bored, and set the game aside until there is new content. (Yes, I am playing Cataclysm after a hiatus in the Fall).

I am 44, and pretty much in the best shape of my life, because my attitude is that I'd MUCH rather have skis, snowshoes, hiking boots, or Five Fingers attached to my feet, than a game keyboard under my fingertips. I have never been to a gym.

I don't have as many side projects as before WoW, but I try to make sure I'm getting that out of my system at work now: making interesting things out of interesting technologies.

1 point by trotsky 4 days ago 1 reply      
It seems like the problem is the addiction. The author seems to acknowledge this is the title, but goes on to mostly treat WOW or gaming addiction like it is semi-unique. Granted, blizzard intentionally includes many elements that are more or less designed for addiction (quite common in the industry/genre) and that intention is troubling.

But otherwise it does seem like it shares a lot of traits with other addictions. You can waste your life away watching TV, playing games, shooting heroin, blogging, gambling, refreshing facebook, whatever. To be sure certain of those tasks seem much more likely to lead to addiction (warcraft/heroin) but it's clearly not the only factor.

There is also the question of whether addiction can be a pre-existing condition more or less waiting to go off. I am far from a psychologist, but I know that drug addicts often suffer from depression or other mental problems and it seems likely that instead of the drugs causing them, at least some times it was the condition that lead to the drugs (though I'm sure they become heavily intertwined). Are WOW addicts more likely to be depressed or agoraphobic? It seems quite possible. Would they have all developed this because of the game? I don't know.

I would like to see the industry self police itself a little better. Online games may always be addictive, but are lots of "brain hacks" intentionally being used by the genre to extend lifetime engagement. They're easiest to see in the more transparent copies - Zynga, foursquare, xbox live achievements. Maybe they should need to cut the most manipulative of these out or suffer chinese style regulation. We do, after all, try to shield kids from alcohol and tobacco.

8 points by stuaxo 4 days ago 2 replies      
Exactly why I don't play these, also why I don't try crack or heroin.
1 point by araneae 3 days ago 0 replies      
I quit Reddit cold turkey by deleting my account. I have only occasionally looked at the front page since then, but it hasn't re-hooked me; getting rid of the orange-red compulsion and the karma score was really effective at breaking the addiction.

Now if only account deletion was enabled on HN...

2 points by Void_ 4 days ago 0 replies      
Short version:

"No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other."

Long version:

Compared to other kinds of entertainment (books, TV, sports, friends) -- World of Warcraft makes you think about it even when you don't play it. The longer you play the game, the more addicted you are, the more you think about all the things you're gonna do. That's how the game's designed.

You think about the game when you're not playing it. It's hard to really focus on something else if you're thinking about the game.

Does that sound familiar to you? If you're a hacker, if you are excited about computers, then it must. It's same with hacking and programming. It's the same principle. For example I tried a little Node.js magic the other night and the first thing I did in the morning was getting live comments to work. Then I found out there could be another cool feature, and so on. Excitement. That's what drives hackers. Call it addiction, whatever. Unlike, WoW, you're doing work, you're making money.

So please, don't be ever excited about WoW. You don't wanna waste your precious excitement thanks to which you make wonders with programming on WoW.

You can do both, but you can't be addicted to both. Which one will you choose?

1 point by nevinera 3 days ago 0 replies      
I dislike this type of article, because it seems predicated on the notion that everyone experiences these games in the same way. I've had no trouble keeping my gameplay moderate; it's not that difficult.

The problem is not the game, it's that people don't know how to directly improve their real life. The steps aren't obvious, and you don't get to start with the knowledge that simple persistence will win nearly any task you can set yourself.

The game is a symptom, not a disease.

1 point by Tycho 4 days ago 0 replies      
An article about the psychology of gaming which I found quite interesting:


Personally I'm finding my interest in games is waining. A whole bunch of very impressive AAA games came out this year - in the past I would have played all of them, this year I only played Bad Company 2 and Halo Reach. I think I no longer have the time/energy to make that initial investment in a game, where you jump through a bunch of frustrating hoops until the fun starts and/or you feel immersed in the game world. However, I still enjoy the competition online - outsmarting other humans in a game of skill and strategy. So I play Bad Company 2 on Live frequently, but I don't pursue the social component of it (friendlists, clans etc). I'm not sure if I'll ever get bored of that.

And for that reason I avoid WoW like the plague: endless human competition, massive social aspect. Bound to be addictive (mind you, i'm not sure what you actually do in WoW gameplay. the adverts are all cutscenes)

2 points by scotty79 4 days ago 0 replies      
No game in my life was nearly as addictive as reading HN (or digg before that, or watching news on tv before that).

Games in my life reach at most level of wikipedia reading. 12 hours grind once in two months and casual use now and then.

WoW ? if I wanted to do chores all day, I'd get a job.

2 points by drndown2007 3 days ago 0 replies      
Fantasic write up. I don't know if anyone has seen "Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief" (pretty good - I enjoyed it), but there is a part where the heroes enter a casino. Everything you could wish for was there and so nobody left. And it was a trap -- it's sole reason was to entrap people so they never did anything with their lives. Your description made me think of WoW in that way. I'm sure WoW's intentions aren't evil (they just want your money!) but the outcome is the same.
1 point by jshen 4 days ago 0 replies      
I think people are primarily motivated by social status (after basic needs are taken care of). The deal with WoW is that it becomes your social status to the people you spend most of your time with, the other people in WoW.
6 points by ezf 4 days ago 0 replies      
Drugs: My anti-World of Warcraft.
1 point by rnernento 4 days ago 1 reply      
Good read. I'd like to add that a lot of the good parts of WoW, (PvP, Social Interaction, Character Customization) have equal or better equivalents in other games that take up far less time. League of Legends, Call of Duty, Counterstrike, Warcraft/Starcraft can all easily be played with friends and in moderation.

Devils Advocate:

Who are we to say what a "real" accomplishment is. Maybe spending 6-8 hrs in a virtual world every day makes that world real to someone. If that world becomes reality then goals met in the virtual world are real accomplishments to them. In the grand scheme of things isn't life just trying to be happy killing time until we die. If I go to the gym every day but spend most of my life miserable is my life any more fulfilling than someone who spends 8hrs a day playing WoW and loving it?

1 point by Keyframe 4 days ago 0 replies      
If I could only do this with reddit and hn, but work instead of working out!
1 point by harscoat 4 days ago 0 replies      
Gaming like cigarette, do it once and you are smoker forever.
0 points by SeanDav 4 days ago 0 replies      
Actually it all comes down to a simple choice - Do you want to take the red pill, or the blue pill....
-1 point by lessallan 4 days ago 0 replies      
See this video? "Rogue Complex" funny shit.
-4 points by rcavezza 4 days ago 0 replies      
Haha, this shows how much of a jock nerd I am. I thought WoW meant Work Out World, haha.
RSS Is Dying, and You Should Be Very Worried camendesign.com
267 points by sant0sk1 1 day ago   185 comments top 57
107 points by angrycoder 1 day ago 4 replies      
I have used RSS for years now. I check google reader about as often as I check hacker news. I start my morning off with a cup of coffee while I read my feeds using Reeder on the iphone or ipad.

Not once have I used any of the RSS features of a browser. I really don't see the point. I guess google doesn't either.

21 points by patio11 1 day ago 8 replies      
RSS saves me from having to load up 100 different sites several times a day just to check what's ‘new'.

Everything wrong with RSS in a nutshell: this is a problem real people don't have.

21 points by stanleydrew 1 day ago 3 replies      
RSS isn't dying because browsers are deciding not to build native readers into their UIs. It's dying because it's not terribly easy to understand for most users. The article readily points this out.

And even for technical users like me, it isn't solving the main problem I have which is discovering new and interesting content. Sure, once I've found some new source of content it's nice to put its RSS feed into a reader. But really, bookmarking is pretty good too. Yes there are clear benefits to RSS over naked bookmarks, but the discoverability problem is still paramount.

Anyway this is kind of inconsequential to the point of whether native RSS functionality should be included in a browser. Mozilla is right to kill this "feature." RSS is an application-level protocol on top of HTTP, itself an application-level protocol. Browsers are built to perform HTTP requests. In my opinion they shouldn't do much else. A feature that displays and helps you manage RSS content falls into the category of bloat.

23 points by corin_ 1 day ago 4 replies      
I can't imagine that browser button pursuading anyone who doesn't already understand and appreciate RSS to start using it. Anyone tech-savvy enough to see it, and start googling to find out how to use it properly has certainly already heard of RSS.

And on the other side, anyone who does use RSS, and anyone in the future who learns to use it, won't be put off using it by the loss of that button.

The worse statement in this article (other than the french man smoking) is:

  Mozilla's mistake here is to associate low usage with user dis-interest.

Ummm... they're correct. He claims that, just because only 3-7% use it, it must be kept in because "what regular user wouldn't want this feature!?" Clearly the answer to that question is "93-97% of regular users". Touché?

12 points by TomOfTTB 1 day ago 0 replies      
RSS is not dying.

There are very few individual users of it but there are literally millions of web sites that use it. Almost everyone on the Internet uses a portal site of some kind and the only way to be included on one of those sites is RSS/Atom feeds.

So as long as people want to use RSS for a personal reader it will be there to do it. And there will always be RSS readers because every programming environment I can think of has a pre-built library for feed reading meaning a programmer could whip a reader up in under an hour.

As far as the button disappearing from browsers that just makes UI sense. Chrome Browser taught the rest of the industry that most people hate clutter in their browser. So buttons that 93% of the users don't use are being taken out. But they can be added back with a simple browser extension/plug-in/whatever. So even here the people who want to use an RSS reader aren't losing anything

(and even without an extension/plug-in/whatever any user savvy enough to be using a reader will know how to cut and paste a url)

11 points by Lagged2Death 1 day ago 3 replies      
The implementation of RSS in Firefox was always an "ultra-lite" version that I doubt will be missed by any serious RSS enthusiasts. A full-featured RSS reader feels a lot like a mailing list, so I think it's appropriate to keep RSS in Thunderbird rather than Firefox.

In some respects, a web-app RSS reader (like Bloglines or Google Reader) is better. You can access your feeds from any computer, the read/unread status is kept synchronized between PCs, and the centralized web-app arrangement makes more efficient use of network resources. Better to have Google Reader poll a site every 30 minutes than to have 10,000 Firefox installs each polling it every few hours.

The only browsers I know of that ever had good in-browser RSS readers were Opera and Seamonkey. But even in those cases, RSS was included as part of the mail client, not shoehorned into the browsing paradigm.

10 points by GBKS 1 day ago 0 replies      
From the user flow, RSS doesn't make much sense. Clicking an RSS button shows you the same thing you just looked at, except without the site design and only partial content (Safari). Currently, in Chrome, I just see a dense block of text.

RSS is an amazing tool, but maybe we just haven't found the right UI for it yet. Exposing it in the browser doesn't work very well and treating RSS as an Inbox (like Google Reader) where every item needs to be marked as read is too overwhelming. Personally, I think a social approach to RSS that puts content and personal preferences at the fore-front would solve a lot of this.

6 points by bretpiatt 1 day ago 11 replies      
It is pretty clear why Google doesn't like RSS, it stops you from browsing the web and that is how they get paid. As a user though I also don't like it anymore and I'll share why...

This isn't 1970 anymore where I want to read "What's New" from a small list of new sources. I prefer to go each day to a list of curated aggregators like HN or what the people I follow on Twitter or saying. This is vastly superior to RSS and this is why at least one technical user no longer uses it.

10 points by k33n 1 day ago 1 reply      
> Mozilla outright refuse to listen (33 bloody votes!)

Wow, 33 votes. They're really ignoring the masses on that one.

4 points by ryanwaggoner 1 day ago 0 replies      
The replacement for RSS isn't Facebook and Twitter...it's email. People don't understand RSS but they understand: "Enter your email address to subscribe to updates." Hence the reason that CPM rates for email are so much higher...
11 points by ghurlman 1 day ago 2 replies      
It's hard to take the author's concern seriously, when I can't even find the RSS link on his/her page.
17 points by petervandijck 1 day ago 0 replies      
RSS isn't dying, it's become so pervasive that it's now invisible infrastructure.
4 points by bl4k 1 day ago 0 replies      
Users shouldn't need to know what RSS is to use it just as they don't need to know what HTTP is to read a website or what SMTP is to send email.

The interface to using RSS has always been flawed, that is where the problem is.

6 points by pamelafox 1 day ago 0 replies      
RSS readers may be dying (I admit that I once was a Google Reader fanatic and now only log in time to time), but RSS/ATOM as a format for communicating between websites is still pretty decent. I often setup an ATOM feed for the data on whatever webapp I'm building, and usually end up using that feed to integrate with other webapps. (And as a bonus, I can hand it out to techie users).

I don't know, do you think that RSS readers dying will mean websites will stop producing RSS feeds? The output seems to be built in to many systems these days already.

4 points by Groxx 1 day ago 1 reply      

Based on what causal chain? At best, it's an incredible stretch of a slippery slope fallacy.

3 points by gregory80 1 day ago 0 replies      
just b/c rss is dying, thank god too, doesn't mean syndication is dying. already ideas like pubsubhubbub have provided realtime syndication in a more compact format.

The web is just moving to realtime and ingesting a big long text file and determining deltas sucked. For that matter, XML as a data transport vehicle should end in favor of more compact and type friendly solutions like JSON.

Don't be so alarmist that a crappy tech is being phased out. Now, where's my Tandy 1000.

2 points by beej71 1 day ago 0 replies      
RSS is really cheap to set up compared to the cost of an entire site, and for news sites, it makes economic sense to add a feed on the off-chance that you might get 0.1% more readers.

The technology that is the RSS reader is not the driver of RSS. The feed is what drives it. NYT is putting up a feed even if is has zero browser support, I'll bet.

Until it's not worth the practically-zero cost of setting up a feed, there will be piles of feeds out there. Publishers will use anything they can to get more eyeballs, and feeds like RSS fit perfectly into that strategy.

I use RSS all the time. That's how I got to this article. And I'm not worried about it one bit.

6 points by jonnii 1 day ago 0 replies      
I'm glad my browser doesn't support RSS natively when other apps offer a far greater experience. Have you tried the safari rss reader? It's awful.

As a chrome user I'm happy that it does one thing well and that's displaying web pages. Now I'm free to use any online RSS reader I want and be able to access my RSS feeds from anywhere.

5 points by smcl 1 day ago 1 reply      
"It gives less of a shite than a French man smoking a cigarette in public"


1 point by bambax 1 day ago 1 reply      
An interesting point of this post is that Twitter is effectively about to replace RSS, and that in order to use Twitter one has to have an account with it and "follow" such and such.

But is this really true? Wouldn't it be possible to build an (authorized) interface to Twitter that would serve search results according to topics/keywords without actually creating an account with Twitter?

Something along the lines of


I'm sure this already exists somehow?

1 point by lwhi 1 day ago 0 replies      
RSS is not dying! One of the traditional applications for RSS (a browser-based RSS feed-reader) is becoming obsoleted because most browsers aren't particularly good at managing feeds.

I can understand why the benefits of RSS aren't more widely understood by the general public; the technology makes use of an abbreviation (an abbreviation that isn't actually much more comprehensible when its spelt out).

RSS is a service, used by applications to make content portable. It's not a final solution, it's a tool that can be integrated into a number of different applications. It's quite likely that many of the applications it could be used for haven't been created yet.

A slightly ridiculous article.

1 point by Create 1 day ago 0 replies      
I think it is plain and simply facebook and twitter which are killing RSS. Most normal people have heard about twitter and facebook and have no clue about the cryptic acronym RSS. Which, by-the-way requires a technical degree to understand, and to use (should it rather be v1 v2 or atom? does my pc support the best option?). Is it really a bookmark? Or an inbox? Or a notification? Now one should go through hidden features and install new apps. No sane person would set this up as opposed to a single click in a browser to a twitter feed or the push of a like button.

Like webmail displaced most "normal" people's imap/smtp (with all the firewall misery). Google groups/forums displaced NNTP.

I also feel sad, because RSS was free, while twitter and facebook are careless computing.


1 point by tel 1 day ago 0 replies      
Recently Flipboard added a Google Reader section. I've started using this and never turned back. It solves perfectly pretty much every problem with RSS via attractive presentation, quick access to full content, social connectivity, and getting rid of the "inbox feel".

Like a few others here, I look at RSS in the morning. As it turns out, what I really wanted was a sort of newspaper/magazine format. Flipboard delivers that perfectly.

1 point by zzzeek 1 day ago 0 replies      
RSS is primarily used by aggregation widgets and sites as a server-to-server protocol for retrieving lists of links from blogs and news sites, and I see no evidence offered that anything is changing in that regard.

As far as people actually using their "RSS" buttons to read websites, I've actually never heard of anyone doing that. The author appears to misunderstand the primary rationale of modern RSS.

3 points by tlianza 1 day ago 1 reply      
Curious why none of the comments, nor the original article, mentions Internet Explorer. They've continued to add new features in this area ever since IE7. The icon is hidden now in IE9 (as are most of the icons... less browser chrome is fashionable) but I believe they still consider this a first-class feature.

They are still the world's most popular browser... and presumably their users are less technical, so presumably it's usage is less than what Mozilla reports, but it remains.

7 points by corywilkerson 1 day ago 1 reply      
This. "Every website should not look like a NASCAR advert for every sharing service in existence."
4 points by Kilimanjaro 1 day ago 0 replies      
Change the RSS button for a 'Follow' button.
1 point by mmphosis 1 day ago 2 replies      
Okay, I haven't really used RSS before. I'm diving in. In Safari Version 5.0.3 (6533.19.4), I view all of the RSS Feeds by choosing the following (buried) menu item:

Bookmarks > Bookmarks Bar > View All RSS Articles

I can't find a "View All RSS Articles" button. By default, I hide the "Bookmarks Bar" toolbar (because I want as much vertical screen real estate as I can get.) The "View All RSS Articles" item does not appear in the "Bookmarks Bar" toolbar when I make this toolbar visible.

I am looking into the NetNewsWire app for Mac.

No RSS feed for Wikipedia portal:Current events?

Hacker News RSS is broken?

3 points by bendauphinee 1 day ago 0 replies      
RSS is not dying. It's just not based in the browser, and I'm fine with that. I use an RSS aggregation program, and if I really wanted to, there is open source software available to build and host my own RSS portal.
4 points by zoul 1 day ago 1 reply      
RSS is dying because browser vendors do not want to implement or maintain integrated RSS readers? That does not sound very convincing.
1 point by omaranto 1 day ago 0 replies      
I won't miss the RSS browser button: I hardly ever use it! While I read many RSS feeds I almost never subscribe to them (which is what I've used the button for). The average number of times I've subscribed to a feed I read is extremely close to 1, and the average number of times I've subscribed to each existing feed in the world is extremely close to 0.
2 points by geoffw8 1 day ago 0 replies      
RSS is the pipe, its not a solution. Your average joe doesn't "know" what TCP/IP is and frankly its the same for RSS. Something needs to sit at either end and actually make use of the RSS "pipe".
1 point by shaver 1 day ago 1 reply      
What would an RSS reader good enough for Kroc's grandmother and 419,999,999 other Firefox users look like? I would be genuinely interested in his designs for one. Of the many different RSS reader add-ons I've tried for Firefox, for example, there haven't been any that made me say "we've gotta put this in Firefox, let's delay $otherwork instead". If we had an energetic contributor like Kroc, though, it's quite possible that we could end up in a great place. I'm not trying to say "patches talk, chump", though of course they do speak quite compellingly. I'm trying to indicate that via open projects like Mozilla technical people can have agency beyond voting in bugzilla (!) or a letter-writing campaign.

It'll be interesting to test Kroc's thesis, though: if he's right that RSS will be harmed a lot by Firefox removing the RSS icon, then hits to the RSS stream from Firefox UAs should change trend-line between 3.6.x and 4. I look forward to such a follow-up, it would be interesting data!

1 point by draebek 1 day ago 0 replies      
Lack of a browser button doesn't put me off using RSS, as many have pointed out. There are browser extensions and GreaseMonkey scripts for me to add feeds to Google Reader.

I'd be more concerned that RSS is dying because many content providers--from big media to bloggers--seem to prefer to only show me a short excerpt, or even a title in their RSS feeds. I don't want to leave Google Reader to read your articles! When I have to open every single RSS item's link (in a new tab) from Reader, that either discourages me from visiting your site... or discourages me from using RSS, as it adds little to no value, and indeed just introduces frustration.

The other reason I avoid RSS is for sites like HN and Reddit, where the order of links, their scores, and their ages are important. Maybe RSS should be updatable (which may be what PubSubHubbub is designed for?).

1 point by agavin 1 day ago 0 replies      
RSS brings me 90% of my outside information. And by doing it with programs like Reeder that use Google Reader to sync the feeds and what's been read allow me to do it on 3 computers, an iphone, and an ipad without ever seeing the same junk twice

But, it does require some computer savvy to setup and operate. You need programs, you need to sometimes figure out your feed URL's. Good reader has a really weird and lousy interface.

As a computer guy I don't care, but I rarely recommend it to even medium tech savvy friends because I don't see them dealing.

1 point by doorty 1 day ago 2 replies      
I frankly never got into RSS until I started using RockMelt about a month ago. Now I use it all the time to tell me when there are new Hacker News post, etc. But unfortunately the only clickable link for the Hacker News RSS takes me to the story, which is often an external link. If I want to see the "discuss" of the story I have to manually go the website and find the post and click the discuss link. Perhaps RSS needs a more robust protocol that wouldn't require others to make their own API. Then I think browsers like Rock Melt might bring this new kind of RSS to the masses.
2 points by bsg75 1 day ago 0 replies      
RSS is a tool for technologists. The average user will not find it attractive enough, so RSS will always be used by the minority. This does not necessarily make it a dying technology however.
1 point by antidaily 1 day ago 0 replies      
Most of what I need to read shows up on HN or Reddit or Twitter. I know that sounds incredibly lazy, but I don't have time to mark 233 Lifehacker posts as read every week.
1 point by nycticorax 1 day ago 0 replies      
I use Google Reader, because I want to know when there's new stuff on certain sites without visiting them all, but I don't like it that much. I prefer to read the stories on the web site, with its "native" formatting and whatnot. Is there a tool in any of the common browsers that will highlight a bookmark (or something like that) when there's new content on the site? I think I'd greatly prefer that to the whole business of using a feed reader. Am I the only one?
1 point by axod 1 day ago 1 reply      
RSS never really caught on beyond a geek crowd. I've never used it.
1 point by u48998 1 day ago 0 replies      
If Mozilla is getting rid of it and if Chrome doesn't have it, than that's just proof enough that big companies are conspiring against RSS. My fingers crossed for the Adblocker.
1 point by eitan 8 hours ago 0 replies      
I find myself more & more use blekko to replace my RSS feeds, maybe this is the future of feeds.

But then again maybe blekko doesn't have a future....

1 point by hsmyers 1 day ago 0 replies      
I only indirectly depend on browser based RSS feeds as I use Google Reader. Which does precisely what I want it to and is available without regard to browser.
1 point by mcnemesis 1 day ago 1 reply      
am probably contributing late, but i have recently worked on something that might solve this "rss hunger" or at least provide a better alternative eventually. am calling my creation "razor" and it runs right in the brwser, is totally free, doesn't sacrifice privacy to corporations, is customizable by the user (only knowledge of regular expressions required - in case one wants to craft their own feeds)

i've developed my solution as a firefox addon, and you can download it from here -- http://fixx.yolasite.com/razor

i'd never used rss feeds before (probably wouldn't have invented razor then?), but razor is different and to me is more powerful!

i use razor to check newest stuff from hacker_news using the following saved razor-expression:

http://news.ycombinator.com/newest)))<a href=".+">.</a>%%%>[^<]<%%%[^>].[^<]((([0-9]+.ago---[0-9]+.point---\sby\s---^[0-9]\.$---^\s\(.\)\s$---^[0-9]+[ ]comment.\s$---^\w$---^\s[\|\[]\s$---^Feature Requests$---^Y Combinator$---^Hacker News$---^(News\s)$

It might look "geeky" and intimidating, but check the above razor link (it has docs too) and you'll see why this solution is promising.

nice feeds hacking!

2 points by macco 1 day ago 0 replies      
RSS is dying only if Bloggers don't support it anymore. But I can't see that.
3 points by kinnth0 1 day ago 0 replies      
Can't we just use Google reader and be done with it?
1 point by EGreg 1 day ago 0 replies      
This is ridiculous. First of all what about the ATOM format? I don't think it's dying.

Anyway, why not simply have an RSS plugin / extension as some have suggested? You can do this in all the browsers.

0 points by gurraman 1 day ago 0 replies      
I have -- without giving it much thought -- stopped using RSS. Many friends have done the same. Now browsers seem to be dropping support. Maybe this is proof that RSS/Atom wasn't the panacea we thought it was. Maybe it is actually time for RSS to die?
1 point by stan_d 1 day ago 0 replies      
I'd be interested to know the number of people using Google Reader as their primary tool to read stuff from the web.
I'm sure the numbers would skew heavily towards the tech/geek crowd. But I have no idea how popular it is.
1 point by zandorg 1 day ago 1 reply      
I think Dave Winer, basically inventor of RSS, would disagree.
1 point by stretchwithme 1 day ago 0 replies      
Cobol's been dying too and I'm not concerned about that either.
1 point by asadotzler 1 day ago 0 replies      
The only problem with Kroc's rant is that RSS auto discovery and UI wasn't removed from Firefox. It was moved from the addressbar to the Bookmarks menu.
1 point by peterbotond 1 day ago 0 replies      
many users use webkit and write a program that evaluates, stores the content effectively building a personal rss.

moreover.com has many precompiled rss feeds for various subjects.

1 point by dennyferra 1 day ago 0 replies      
I want to read my RSS feeds like a newspaper. I think formatting is really the issue. I don't necessarily want a list of links.
1 point by yycom 1 day ago 1 reply      
Why should this particular <link> incantation receive special treatment over others?
0 points by ThePinion 1 day ago 0 replies      
I just want you to know years ago I vowed to use RSS in all of my websites for the rest of my life. I would hate an Internet without RSS feeds (and Google Reader!)
1 point by emef 1 day ago 2 replies      
If there was really enough demand for RSS, it wouldn't die.
What Could Have Been Entering the Public Domain on January 1, 2011? duke.edu
239 points by follower 1 day ago   127 comments top 14
54 points by cookiecaper 1 day ago replies      
Copyright law is really disappointing here. How do such long terms contribute to the progress of sciences or the arts? The writers and main contributors to most of the pieces named are dead. The publishers have made their cash time and time again and now most of these pieces are by no means "hot sellers", though they may be of cultural or historical interest. And, there's 40 years left before the copyright expires.

All this does is allow two extra generations to leech off of the creativity of their fathers without actually contributing anything themselves. Same goes for the two subsequent generations that fill the publishing houses that originally print these works.

Do we really believe that Lord of the Rings or Lord of the Flies would not have been written or published if the copyright term was only 28 years (in fact, they _were_ published when the copyright term was 28 years)? It should be evident that cultural experiences will be generated even if the money doesn't flow down for 100-200 years (not that there won't be money anyway -- they'll just have to do something useful with the property, just like anyone else).

The whole thing is just patently ridiculous. What do we gain by refusing to allow free commentary or contribution on Lord of the Rings? Tolkien is dead and gone and made a comfortable existence on his work I'm sure. If he was concerned with ensuring his posterity and publisher would have money from his work, he could have taken various measures to do so, like divesting large amounts of money to them in his will.

It is ridiculous that all of society and culture has to suffer because of corporate lobbyists that don't want Disney et al to lose money. It's not like the publishers are being robbed here, they've made more than enough money on these properties and now it's time to share. Intellectual property was never meant to trap ideas -- it was meant to make their sharing plausible and reasonable (before the internet, there was significant overhead involved with publication and wide dissemination of such material). Now we just have leeches looking to ensure their own fat paycheck at the expense of free culture.

I would be very happy to see a copyright law of 28 years since publication or less with no extensions, applied retroactively to all works under copyright in the United States. I don't see why life of the author should be considered -- if someone writes a good story, that's great, but 28 years of unlimited monopoly on that is quite enough. And note that public domain doesn't mean the copyright holder can't make money anymore -- it just means he has to provide something that the market deems valuable, instead of standing as a gatekeeper and profiting off of everyone else's imagination.

31 points by ajays 1 day ago replies      
The current copyright law is a prime example of the impotence of the electorate in the face of the power of Big Money. It is in the public interest to have works move into the public domain, so that others can build upon them (I'll refrain from linking to the myriad talks by Lessig and others about how the current copyright system is broken).

And yet Hollywood keeps buying the legislators and perpetuates this broken system.

15 points by praptak 1 day ago 1 reply      
The deal between copyright holders and society was changed retroactively in favor of the former. Why then should the latter uphold their end of the deal, i.e. not pirate?
6 points by xenophanes 1 day ago 2 replies      
About copyright in general: Micky Mouse is still in active use. Can anyone tell me some reason that Warner Brothers should be allowed to make a Mickey Mouse movie just because it's old now?

One other example: sales of Ayn Rand's books currently help fund the spreading of the ideas from the books, after her death. That seems fair enough to me. Why shouldn't books sales be able to fund promotion of the book's ideas as long as people keep buying the book?

2 points by Sukotto 1 day ago 0 replies      
According to Rufus Pollock of Cambridge University, the optimal copyright length is 14 years.



3 points by follower 1 day ago 0 replies      
I wonder if anyone has ever considered that existing copyright legislation puts authors' lives at risk by making the term: date of death + N years? There's a short story in that at least but now I'm too afraid for my life to write it. :)
2 points by julius_geezer 1 day ago 0 replies      
"Under the pre-1978 copyright law, you could now teach history and politics using most of Toynbee's A Study of History (vols. 7-10 were first published in 1954) or Henry Kissinger's A World Restored, or stage a modern adaptation of Erich Maria Remarque's A Time to Love and A Time to Die for community theater."

As far as I know, you can teach a class using Toynbee or Kissinger; the students just have to find copies. As for community theater, they put on works far more recent--one friend appeared several years ago in "Dancing at Lughnasa" (1995), another in "Lips together, Teeth Apart" (1991; or whichever MacNally play gave him a chance to shed his clothes--"Love! Valor! Etc" of 1994 maybe). What the terms are, I can't say; but it doesn't seem to run anyone broke.

I do agree that the copyright extension gone beyond reasonable bounds. The critic Hugh Kenner made an interesting case that the extension of copyright in the United Kingdom about 100 years ago had a dramatic effect on the public's impression of what literature was, creating a discontinuity in perception that made the modernists' work appear to have come about without its actual context.

3 points by bhickey 1 day ago 1 reply      
Why was Eldred v. Ashcroft argued on 1st Amendment grounds?
There seems like a relatively straightforward argument from the Takings Clause.
2 points by forensic 1 day ago 2 replies      
How do international books fit into this?

Lord of the Flies and Tolkien among others are British books. If they enter the public domain in Britain, does that enable Americans to use them even if they are still copyrighted in the US?

8 points by mrleinad 1 day ago 4 replies      
I'd like to know what DID enter the public domain, more than getting sorry for what did not.
2 points by panacea 1 day ago 0 replies      
The 'public domain' hasn't been what's acceptable to share according to lawyers for quite some time now.
2 points by 2mur 1 day ago 0 replies      
1 point by jleyank 1 day ago 1 reply      
I might be mis-remembering, but doesn't (L)GPL rely on copyright law for its status? If so, then there's at least one bit of IP that's "properly protected" by copyright law.
2 points by leon_ 1 day ago 0 replies      
At least our dark lord Cthulhu is public domain.
Ask HN: What are the best technologies you've worked with this year?
233 points by Athtar 4 days ago   148 comments top 90
58 points by samdk 4 days ago 2 replies      
2010 was, for me, the year of JS-related technologies. (I'm actually rather disappointed I haven't had more time to check out Clojure and to use Haskell and Scala more--I was doing quite a lot of front-end web stuff.)

1. Socket.IO (http://socket.io/)

It lets you use websockets and automatically fall back to flash sockets, long polling, or several other real-time communication methods if websockets aren't supported by the client. There's a JS client and node-compatible server, as well as in-progress server implementations in a few other languages. Node is nice by itself, but it's with things like Socket.IO that it really shines.

2. Coffeescript (http://jashkenas.github.com/coffee-script/)

Coffeescript is a nice-looking and nice-to-type syntax on top of JavaScript. It's made JS development a lot friendlier, and I now miss things about it every time I'm programming in Python and Ruby. I now use it whenever I'm doing any significant amount of coding in JS.

3. Node.js (http://nodejs.org/)

Node should, by this point, need no introduction. Server-side JS. Plays very nicely with websockets thanks to Socket.IO, making it very easy to write the server-side part of real-time webapps. I've also found it very useful when trying to quickly prototype simple non-webapp things that have to communicate over a network.

I haven't had a chance to check out Backbone.js (http://documentcloud.github.com/backbone/) yet beyond a very quick look, but I expect to use it (or something like it) next time I'm developing something that uses a significant amount of client-side JS.

I'm also very excited by the continued development on (and Yehuda Katz's participation in) SproutCore (http://www.sproutcore.com/).

39 points by patio11 4 days ago 3 replies      
Twilio. Ringing phones is pure magic, and provides so many disruptive opportunities it is staggering.
52 points by dstein 4 days ago 2 replies      
The iPad has changed everything. It's an entirely new type of computer that turned out to be substantially better than anyone imagined. Watch a 5-year-old use an iPad for the first time and you will immediately see and understand why this is a major paradigm shift. It's the first "socially acceptable" computer -- at Christmas I can pull out my iPad, plop it down at the dinner table and share pictures with the family, and it's not at all considered rude.
46 points by apu 4 days ago 2 replies      
Redis. Fucking awesome database. Does exactly what it's advertised to do, with no unexpected surprises. Great documentation. Finally we can go beyond the simplistic key-value map/reduce datastores, for when you don't need all the guarantees that traditional SQL forces you to have.


(I still use postgres and sqlite for other database needs, but I'm strongly considering moving a few of those over to redis if I have time.)

25 points by spudlyo 4 days ago 1 reply      
Varnish, the reverse proxy, has been my favorite new-to-me technology of 2010. It sits in front of Apache and caches static content (or anything really) based on rules you define in the Varnish Configuration Language (VCL).

Varnish is cool because it is very fast. It was written by Poul-Henning Kamp, who has a lot of experience in FreeBSD kernel development. He makes effective use of virtual memory, is careful to avoid memory operations that result in expensive bus transactions on mutli CPU systems, and knows how many system calls it takes to serve up a cache hit. All of this work has paid off. Varnish can turn a plodding CMS into a site that screams, and your profiling tools (siege, apache ab) will fall over before the site does.

Of course it helps if your CMS supports cache control headers, and isn't utterly laden with cookies, but that's where the VCL language comes in. You can write code to strip bogus cookies (like google analytics) coming from both the client and the server which vastly improves your cache hit ratios.

I like the way Varnish uses a shared memory pool for statistics and logging -- a wealth of information about the system is available to you but it doesn't generate a ton of I/O logging it to a file unless you ask it to. I love how you can use the telnet admin interface to compile new VCL code into a running system and then switch to it, while keeping old named configurations around in case you need to revert back.

Varnish has really helped me make slow sites fast this year, although it hasn't happened without some VCL coding effort and some understanding of how the sites operate.

19 points by DanielBMarkham 4 days ago 0 replies      
I continued to work with F#, deploying a couple of small apps.

The really cool part came when I realized that with F# I was programming at the language level -- that I could effectively and easily write my own languages. So I decided I would like rails-like entities, where the entity reads the structure of the table and then conforms itself to whatever is in the table.

Couple hundreds of lines of code later, and presto chango, I could simply say "give me a list of customers" and point it to the table and I had a list of customers. This totally disconnected the database data structure from the code. Add a new field in the database and there was nothing to change in code. Or add a new field in the type and have it percolate out to the database. Change database providers and it was only a few function changes. Very cool. The kind of simple fix Microsoft should have done with data access instead of writing ODBC/ADO/OleDb//EF/etc

Then I had a blast with mailboxes, er monads, agents, and threads. Ended up writing a small app that was purely functional and all ran in the background. It was so automatic, at first I couldn't figure out how to start the dang thing!

This led to a venture into MPI and other technologies which has just begun. I'm also trying to wrap up my language work with a full DSL sometime soon (if I have a project that needs it). Looking forward to parsing and setting up trees and walking them. I also broke out of windows and started working in a linux environment using Mono, Apache, and MySQL.

Incredibly fun stuff. Looking back, I really had a blast this past year. Next year should be even better.

20 points by sophacles 4 days ago 2 replies      
These aren't new to the world, but they are new to me this year, and a lot of them sort of hit some sort of "usable by those without active interest in the continuation of said tech".

1. Mongodb -- This year it really hit its stride and have been able to use it without worry for storing test results and experimental data. This is much nicer than the textfile logs -> sql -> processing datapath I was using previously.

2. flask: this little framwork is in my sweetspot. It does all the annoying crap of webby stuff, without all the "use our orm/routing model/way of thinking of http" so common in the space

3. mongrel2: I like it because it uses 0mq as the backend and sanely integrates some components in a way I feel could be better for many use cases than traditional stacks.

4. 0mq: This gets special mention, because it has been around for a while and I was actively using it, but 0mq 2 came out sometime this year, and is different enough from the first round, that it could be considered a separate technology. It isn't revolutionary in the MOM space, but it is a cool lightweight approach, and the core team has the type of dedication I like to see in OSS projects.

5. ABSOLUTELY NOT NEW: Haskell -- this year is the first year I've had time to sit down with Haskell for real, and start understanding the weird FP thing. This has made everything I do feel shiny and new, because even though I never actually use Haskell, I find myself writing very short hsskell programs in python and c and the other languages I use in my day job. When I started coding I remember thinking "This must be what a wizard feels like!", Haskell has brought back that feeling for me.

17 points by SandB0x 4 days ago 1 reply      
New to me: Numpy/Scipy. If you're using Matlab you should know there's a Free and worthy Python based alternative
22 points by swannodette 4 days ago 0 replies      
Clojure - it's the gift that keeps on giving. It keeps getting faster and the feature set for writing robust object-oriented software (minus the broken stuff) just keeps getting better. In fact, it's changed how I assess the feature set of other OO languages old and new.

miniKanren - logic programming w/o the Warren Abstract Machine. Has opened my eyes to a ton of incredible literature on this under appreciated programming paradigm.

10 points by PStamatiou 4 days ago 3 replies      
Jekyll (https://github.com/mojombo/jekyll)

First touched it two months ago just to tinker with but didn't really do anything with it. Then after numerous frustrations with my current blogging setup, I spent the last 5 days hacking on it over the holidays and I think it's almost ready to launch. Had to do some custom stuff that I'll write about in a post. It's extremely hackable and I love it. The only thing that doesn't work for me is LSI for related posts. Even with a fast computer and gsl/rb-gsl it still takes 10+ hours with my 1,000+ posts. Anyways, having a super fast site is going to be a breath of fresh air. Google was saying 88% of sites loaded faster than mine ( http://paulstamatiou.com ), though likely due to the images in many of my reviews.

Also installed Google mod_pagespeed and all is well so far.

* Though to be fair most of that is just my redesign that is more minimal, less ads, etc, but there's something extremely attractive about simple, flat files. No worrying about if your database will get corrupted. Everything is in git..

16 points by railsjedi 4 days ago 1 reply      
1. MongoDB / Mongoid have blown me away this year. Is now my default database for new rails projects.

2. CoffeeScript language is an amazing replacement for Javascript. I can't see myself going back to pure JS at any point in the future.

3. Rails 3 finally feels like a stable and maintainable web framework. All the web frameworks now all seem to work together using Rack. The ruby web development world is really a nice place to be at the moment.

4. Bundler really nailed the gem dependency management issue (though the journey to 1.0 was very painful)

5. Sass / SCSS / Compass got really good. It feels unimaginable to go back to regular CSS.

Wow, now that I think about it, way too many great technologies to list. 2010 was an insanely good year for ruby web developers.

16 points by rdl 4 days ago 1 reply      
I'm kind of ashamed to admit it (at the end of 2010!), but I did some Objective-C/iOS apps for the first time this year, and I was pretty amazed by how good the Apple dev tools and the iOS simulator actually are.

The other thing which impressed me is kvm, in contrast to Xen.

21 points by datapimp 4 days ago 1 reply      
I am a huge fan of Vagrant ( http://vagrantup.com ) which is virtualized development environments, package-able. Works with chef and virtualbox. I don't know if I can state just how game changing this is for me.

DocumentCloud really dropped some bombs this year. backbone.js, underscore.js are really great.

Socket.io saved my ass. I promised some big clients that I could make websockets driven apps for the iPad and then apple pulled websockets support without saying anything. So I was able to get socket.io for the win.

20 points by binaryfinery 4 days ago 2 replies      
Solid State Discs in everything.

Ok, perhaps not what you were asking, but they made a big difference for me. I have two, raid0 in my desktop, and a sandforce in my MBP. What a difference. Compiling, linking, copying, everything not just faster, but almost instantaneous. Yum.

10 points by zefhous 4 days ago 0 replies      
All thanks to jashkenas: CoffeeScript, Underscore.js, and Backbone.js.

Using those tools has helped me to really enjoy writing JavaScript and to start doing it in a much more organized manner. They have been a huge catalyst for my growth as a JavaScript developer.

Also, using MongoDB has been awesome!

6 points by ja27 4 days ago 0 replies      
This is the first year I've really used the real released Windows 7 - on my new SSD-loaded work laptop and on my personal netbook. It's amazing to see Windows more or less work and do what I want it to do most of the time.

GPU-accelerated VLC on my netbook has been amazing.

I got a Canon T2i / 550D this year. It shoots some amazing HD video and will only get better as I spend more on lenses and develop better techniques.

The Kindle 3 (brighter display and cheap price) have me reading books I've been putting off for years. It's great to have a device that's great at one thing and not very good at random browsing, Facebook, Twitter, HN, etc.

10 points by jlangenauer 4 days ago 1 reply      
JRuby. It's just rock-solid, wonderfully fast and easy-to-use, it's now at the center of my product. Many props to Charles Nutter et al for this!
6 points by peteforde 4 days ago 0 replies      
I was shocked by how powerful SproutCore was, once I actually started hacking on it. I suspect that it will be a very big deal in 2011.

I am also really excited by socket protocol tech advancements in the browser. I was able to pull off seriously cool stuff using http://pusherapp.com/ and also http://faye.jcoglan.com/ which is a nifty JS implementation of the Bayeux protocol.

6 points by DanHulton 4 days ago 1 reply      
1) MongoDB - I started off using it in place of a few tables that had some varied column requirements, and I'm now in the middle of converting my entire DB to it. So awesome.

2) Kohana - I love working with this framework. I never really worry about the ugly warts in PHP, because honestly? I'm not programming in PHP any more. I'm programming in Kohana, and I only occasionally fall back to PHP for "low-level" stuff.

7 points by davidedicillo 4 days ago 0 replies      
Not directly but I'd say Erlang and Redis, definitely the most "exotique" technologies I've been in contact this year that made http://mysyncpad.com possible
9 points by clemesha 4 days ago 0 replies      
Redis. Makes working with a database fun, just like jQuery made JavaScript fun.
5 points by endgame 4 days ago 0 replies      
Not new, but I've really enjoyed working with Lua (http://lua.org). The C API is really nice and I like how you can start from a known-safe, minimal interpreter and add new procedures carefully.

libev (http://software.schmorp.de/pkg/libev.html) was also a lot of fun to use for multiplexing sockets, plus it has a whole pile of other useful watchers that can use its event loop.

5 points by mrkurt 4 days ago 0 replies      
Firesheep, actually. It took a scary-to-people-who-know problem and made it scary to people who don't know. I didn't ever expect to explain session hijacking to my dad.
4 points by morganpyne 4 days ago 0 replies      
Most of these are not new to 2010 and some are quite old, but here goes:

- All the Amazon offerings. They are innovating like crazy and improving and expanding all their offerings all the time.

- Compass/SASS/SCSS - All the pain gone from CSS

- Capistrano - All the pain gone from software deployment

- Apple laptops & OS X. A bit on the clichéd side now but it really makes my life easier.

- SSDs. Damnit I really need to buy one of these things. After having tried them out it's hard to go back to spinning platters.

Also things I wish I'd worked with but haven't had the chance yet:

- anything in the CNC milling, laser cutting, desktop fabrication and 3d printing fields. This is a huge area to watch.

3 points by jrockway 4 days ago 0 replies      
PSGI/Plack: http://plackperl.org/

node.js for HTTP-related activities. (I needed a rate-limiting proxy that returned a special HTTP code when the rate limit was exceeded. 20 lines of node.js later...)

0MQ: the way network messaging should be. (Did you know that the same socket can be bound and connected multiple times? Amazingly flexible.)

4 points by donniefitz2 4 days ago 0 replies      
Normally, I'm a software producer and I've worked with a few technologies that are great, but this year (as of late) I'm becoming a software consumer.

I've finally gotten to experience the Kindle 3 (Christmas gift) and the Google CR-48 is pretty sweet too. I believe the Kindle will change the amount I read. I have so many books on deck. My biggest challenge is balancing development time with watching movie time and more reading time.

8 points by gfodor 4 days ago 0 replies      
Clojure & CoffeeScript are the one-two punch this year.
4 points by RoyceFullerton 4 days ago 1 reply      
In 2010 I fell in love with:

1. Groovy - a programming language, it rocks because it less verbose and more powerful than Java and I can fall back onto standard Java syntax when I don't care to figure out how to do something in the 'Groovy' way. (http://groovy.codehaus.org)

2. Gaelyk - a groovy framework that runs on Google App Engine. Google App Engine is great for launching apps. It's free until it gets traction. (http://gaelyk.appspot.com)

3. Objectify - The simplest convenient interface to the Google App Engine datastore. Takes a lot of the pain out of using Bigtable. (http://code.google.com/p/objectify-appengine)

These all pack a mean punch and let me work on my night/weekend projects quite productively after overcoming a small learning curve.

I built http://icusawme.com and http://chatroulettespy.com with all three.

I'm looking forward to diving deeper into Appcelerator Titanium Mobile in early 2011.

9 points by crawshaw 4 days ago 0 replies      
Protocol Buffers (http://code.google.com/p/protobuf/)

Not what you would call cool technology, but definitely the best technology I have used this year. Protobufs get out of the way so you can get work done.

5 points by locopati 4 days ago 0 replies      
Erlang - playing with serious functional code for the first time in a long while has done wonders for my day-to-day Java job.
4 points by elviejo 4 days ago 0 replies      
Seaside - a WebFramework based on smalltalk and continuations that make developing complex WebApps extremely easy.
Seaside led me to learn:

Smalltalk - What a powerful language. This is what OOP should look like.

Object Oriented Databases - Gemstone and db4o. Not having to deal with the OO and Relational mismatch is a breath of fresh air.

3 points by jfoutz 4 days ago 1 reply      
makerbot cupcake cnc.

It was an on again off again sort of project mostly off, but i finished it up a week or two ago. Now I can print plastic in any shape i can draw in art of illusion. It's satisfying fiddling at the computer for a while then printing and having a real 3d thing.

3 points by mkramlich 4 days ago 0 replies      
#1: SSD

#2: MongoDB

#3: iPad

though I have not used them significantly, I have sort of drooled from afar over: Twilio, Redis, Node.js, Clojure and Kindle

(ok some of the above are not super new-new, but new enough to me)

2 points by ihumanable 4 days ago 0 replies      
Flourish Unframework for PHP (http://flourishlib.com) I've looked at it in the past, but this was the first time I was able to work in it professional thanks to a change in career.

It's a really great core library for building web applications, takes the 1389408103 functions in PHP and produces a nice modular library that gives you everything you need and nothing you don't.

5 points by justinchen 4 days ago 0 replies      
Redis. It has ton of different data structures that make it an interesting alternative to the relational DB and memcache.
3 points by endtime 4 days ago 0 replies      
CoffeeScript, Raphael.JS, and Django (not new this year, but new to me) were definitely my favorite tools of 2010. I've just started playing with Tropo as well, which is better for my purposes than Twilio.
6 points by niels 4 days ago 0 replies      
Backbone.js! Hits the sweetspot for a lightweight clientside MVC framework.
4 points by catshirt 4 days ago 0 replies      
node.js was already mentioned as someone's third, but I'd like to cast a sole vote. seriously, it's awesome.
2 points by cageface 4 days ago 0 replies      

It makes cross-platform native app development easy, and is a huge leg up for audio work.

2 points by mindcrime 4 days ago 0 replies      
The closest to "cool, shiny and new" I got was Scala. And I never found time to dig as deeply into it as I wanted, so I still haven't done any meaningful coding in it yet. But I did sit down last week and spent a couple of days working through the Programming Scala book, and one of my major goals in 2011 is to learn Scala well.

Other than that, the stuff I did this year that was merely "new to me" was mostly about Groovy and Grails. I spent a ton of time working with Grails, and I'm really liking it.

1 point by andrewljohnson 4 days ago 0 replies      
Here are some great open source iPhone libraries I use:

* Mopub - mix and match ad networks, server side - open source SDK (brand new start-up that just got funded, out of AngelPad)

* ASIHTTP - makes networking easy

* TouchJSON - the fastest JSON library, AFAIK

* Appirater - easy drop-in widget for prompting for reviews

7 points by neduma 4 days ago 0 replies      
Nobody mentioned GIT. I went too deep in Git this year.

Others would be Sproutcore, Rails3, Coffeescript, Erlang.

4 points by schmichael 4 days ago 2 replies      

I've worked with MongoDB, Cassandra, and a host of other tools, libraries, databases, and frameworks, but beanstalk is the only one to never fail me. It's not a full swiss army knife like Redis or the sexy app of the year like MongoDB: beanstalk does 1 job and does it, as far as I can tell, perfectly.

2 points by wensing 4 days ago 0 replies      
haXe + FlashDevelop. http://www.flashdevelop.org/wikidocs/index.php?title=Feature... Lightning fast compilation and IDE plus a language that can target multiple platforms = major time savings for a bootstrapped startup.
3 points by yankoff 4 days ago 0 replies      
This post made my day. I've found some new interesting stuff from the comments. Thank you.

2010 was a year of discoveries for me. I started learning and using technologies like Ruby, Rails, Sinatra, HAML, Google Maps API v3. I started reading HN. Just in the end of the year I've discovered that with technologies like Rhodes framework, Appcelerator or Phonegap I can create iPhone/Android applications with HTML/Javascript or Ruby without knowing objective C. And this is just the most recent excitement I got.

1 point by jamesbritt 3 days ago 0 replies      
Just realized that I need to add Mirah (http://www.mirah.org/) to my list of cool 2010 tech.

I only started using about a week or so ago, but, hey, that;s still 2010.

I was trying to manipulate Kinect data in JRuby, but it was too slow. However, I may be able to use Mirah instead, and if all goes well get Rawr to auto-compile Mirah files as part of the build process. Mirah's still a bit rough, but knowing Charlie I expect it to rock.

I'm pretty excited about 2011. Which should be starting in about 30 minutes for me ...

Happy new year, all!

3 points by kefeizhou 4 days ago 0 replies      
1. MongoDB - I see several people also listed mongodb but I particularly want to mention the simplicity of setting up the database and using the API.

2. AndroidOS - It came out few years back but it really took off in 2010. I can't wait to see the new features for 2011 and how it'll fare against iOS.

3. Python - even though I've been using python for several years I'm still constantly surprised by it's core features (recently coroutines) and it's plethora of awesome third-party libraries.

2 points by AndrewGreen 4 days ago 1 reply      
Apologies for blowing my own trumpet, but pound for pound, the neatest thing I've worked with this year is a C++ template I wrote. I like to have the tightest possible scoping of names, but a common pattern makes that difficult. If you've got a function that produces a good value or indicates that it couldn't do so one way to write it is:

  Type theVar;
if (theFunction(theVar)
{ /*do something with theVar*/ }

theFunction returns true if it set theVar, false otherwise.
The problem is that theVar's visibility extends beyond our interest in it. The ZQ template lets me write this:

  if (ZQ<Type> theQ = theFunction())
{ /*do something with theQ.Get()*/}

and all of a sudden I don't have to come up with anywhere near as many meaningful names as before.

To me it's neat because I've found many unanticipated uses for it e.g. wrapping the values in option-specifying structures where a default is cleanly indicated with a default-inited (or subsequently Clear()ed) ZQ, rather than having a separate 'use default' boolean, or 'set default' function.


3 points by wil2k 3 days ago 0 replies      
#1 - MongoDB: see comments above. :)
#2 - Redis: also see comments above. ;)

#3 - new to me: Twisted as a server framework; more specific Cyclone which is a Twisted-based clone of the Tornado server framework.


Comes with built-in MongoDB (TxMongo) and Redis (TxRedisAPI) support too! :)

2 points by enneff 4 days ago 0 replies      
Go. I've had more fun writing Go programs and working on the Go project than any engineering work I'd done before.
2 points by ljegou 4 days ago 0 replies      
- WebServices, to provide access for R, Python, and spatial calculations (WPS norm). Complex calculations without installing any client software, anywhere with an Internet connection.

- PostGIS raster capabilities (at last some raster storage and computing inside the database).

- Devon:Think / Bookends / Nisus Writer : Scientific papers and books intelligent storage, bibliography management and scientific writing.

3 points by pederb72 4 days ago 0 replies      
GLM (http://glm.g-truc.net/) - A C++ mathematics library based on GLSL. It's not a new library, but I didn't know about until 2010. It's really convenient to use (almost) the same syntax in C++ as you do in GLSL.
3 points by jamesbritt 4 days ago 0 replies      
Physical/wearable computing: Arduino Lilypad, and the Kinect.
9 points by Rendy 4 days ago 1 reply      
The Google Map API v3 is pretty nice.
1 point by kingnothing 4 days ago 0 replies      
Ruby on Rails 3: It's much more succinct than Rails 2.

Ruby 1.9.2: It was time to move up from 1.8.7.

MongoDB: I introduced this new technology to the company I work at which has now adopted it for two significant projects. One was the project I researched it for initially, which handles millions of writes per week, and the other is a rewrite of something we used to use MySQL for. It currently has a hundred million or so documents and is going strong. It's new and fun. My collection uses dynamic sharding; I think the other one does as well. One is hosted in our data center, the other is in the cloud. Both are in production and running with 100% uptime so far.

3 points by naba 4 days ago 0 replies      
At work, I've used the Java Play framework and absolutely loved it. Been recommending it to only java guys ever since. Learnt python and django this year and was blown away.
3 points by seivan 4 days ago 0 replies      
Rails 3
Chipmunk Physics

Anyone who says MongoDB without having a proper use will get a very angry stare from me.

2 points by lionheart 4 days ago 0 replies      
A bit late to the party but I finally learned and started using Ruby on Rails this year and I love it.
2 points by dgudkov 4 days ago 0 replies      
Vertica (http://vertica.com) - massively parallel columnar DBMS for querying multi-terabyte databases. BTW, heavily used by Zynga in 200+ nodes cluster.
2 points by Luyt 4 days ago 0 replies      
The combination of CherryPy, memcache, oursql and DBUtils. This is a kind of lean and mean Python webapp stack.
2 points by mkeblx 4 days ago 0 replies      
three.js (https://github.com/mrdoob/three.js/)
An easy to use wrapper for doing 3D graphics via JS using canvas, WebGL, and SVG renderers. Check out the cool demos. I'm betting 2011 will see a lot done with this and similar libraries.
1 point by elithrar 3 days ago 0 replies      
For me?

· Rails 3 became everything I wanted Rails to be " I've come from Django and am really loving the ecosystem and the way the documentation has matured.

· Varnish " just an awesome piece of software. Fantastic job of caching, from small sites to large, without having to write mountains of config files. It's something you can drop it from an early stage with little cost in time, and know it'll be ready to help an application as it grows/scales.

· SSD's: didn't realise how good they were until I got a machine with one. I don't think I can buy a new machine without one now.

1 point by j_baker 4 days ago 0 replies      
I'm actually beginning to enjoy writing things in Haskell. It's the first statically typed language that I enjoy using (although I do still miss dynamic typing).
2 points by mjuhl24 4 days ago 0 replies      
This is not a new technology, but new for me this year was working with MVC frameworks for web development. My workflow has vastly improved because of it. Specifically, the Play Framework (java/scala) and Rails 3.0 (ruby) have been great new additions to the many available.
2 points by ww520 4 days ago 1 reply      
The Play Framework is amazing. Its rapid development capability allowed me to finish one project with highly compressed schedule ahead of time.
1 point by sea6ear 3 days ago 0 replies      
Neither of these are truly "new" but maybe new to mainstream?

1.Haskell or "how I learned to stop worrying (about monads) and just do io." Still fighting with the type system occasionally but I think it's getting better.

2.Erlang - I so love this language. The concurrency support makes me think about programming the way I want to think about programming. I also like that's it's most of the fun of functional programming (Haskell style) but without having to deal with types.

4 points by jmonegro 4 days ago 0 replies      
Rails 3 and HTML5
1 point by enjalot 3 days ago 0 replies      
OpenCL - this year I've been learning about GPU acceleration, and while it may not be good for everything it is looking very interesting for various applications.

While my area is currently graphics/simulation I'm wondering how effective adding GPUs as accelerators to large scale web problems would be. It's really taking of in the Super Computing area, so I'm sure there is room for it!

4 points by kokoloko 4 days ago 0 replies      
Scala - It's what Java should be.
2 points by thomasknowles 4 days ago 0 replies      
Redis, that super quick key value pair data store which integrated support for hashes has made my life easier for message queuing and session management.
1 point by nRike 4 days ago 0 replies      
Well, i still was in the university but i've had chance to play with a few ones:

LCDS, WebORB specifically and Flex 3
Lift Web Framework

And in the Q4 of the year i used all my time to learn Android and a lot of cool API's:

Overlay-Manager to recognize gestures in Android
Geocoding and reverse geocoding
Notifications by vibrating

I really enjoyed developing Android stuff, and i'm keeping up with these for a while.

2 points by keegangrayson 4 days ago 0 replies      
iPod touch, flip video recorder, droid 2 global, linux mint on usb, 1.5 TB drive, and a remote control helicopter... good year
2 points by herrherr 4 days ago 0 replies      
Google App Engine.
1 point by lscharen 4 days ago 0 replies      
I have to develop a from-scratch application for work and have been pleasantly surprised with the current crop of .NET technologies and how well they can be integrated with open-source systems.

MVC.NET 3 + Entity Framework 4 + OpenRasta + Membership Framework + MEF + LINQ + dojo has been a good experience so far.

3 points by squar3h3ad 4 days ago 0 replies      
Not new technologies - but I got started with Django and jQuery. Delved deeper into numpy - loved all of them!
3 points by nivertech 4 days ago 0 replies      
1 point by rick_2047 3 days ago 0 replies      
I worked on LPC2148, an ARM7 based controller. A refreshing experience I guess. Made me realize how easy AVR series actually is. Started working with Atmega8s again this Wednesday and realized that I find it easier to work on.
3 points by michaelty 4 days ago 0 replies      
Clojure. I miss map and reduce already.
1 point by dho 2 days ago 0 replies      
Bundler (http://gembundler.com/) for managing the dependencies of Ruby/Rails applications.
3 points by tarikjn 4 days ago 0 replies      
PHP and Visual Basic

...kidding :)

2 points by zppx 4 days ago 0 replies      
LDAP, particularly 389 DS.
2 points by nsm 4 days ago 0 replies      
redis, node.js, socket.IO, ccache (not new, but new for me), QML
2 points by maxer 4 days ago 0 replies      
faceboook graph/api, always learning :)
1 point by SeanDav 4 days ago 0 replies      
Probably redundant to mention it here but hands down and by a country mile: news.ycombinator.com aka Hacker News.
2 points by rviswanadha 4 days ago 0 replies      
1. Node.JS
2. ExpressJS
3. Mongoose
4. MongoDB
1 point by bauchidgw 4 days ago 0 replies      
video + canvas + v8 js engine

2011 we will see in-browser video editing

1 point by EricR9 3 days ago 0 replies      
Definitely Rails 3 for me. I've started taking it more seriously and developing with it professionally.
2 points by d3fun 4 days ago 0 replies      
2 points by tfs 4 days ago 0 replies      
Web2py :-)
2 points by ecounysis 4 days ago 0 replies      
Dead End Jobs: Are You Suffering from Stockholm Syndrome? chadfowler.com
235 points by LiveTheDream 5 days ago   124 comments top 32
82 points by SandB0x 4 days ago 5 replies      
Dead end jobs destroy transferable technical skills. I've witnessed miserable scenes. Many people are stuck maintaining large pieces of poorly written software. They forget how to actually program because their work involves very little development, and becomes all about knowing how the specific piece of software works (and the company's admin procedures) so that they can fight fires and make minor changes.

Escape involves gathering the confidence and the determination for self study, so that applying for another job is even a viable option. Skunk-works type projects at work are strongly recommended.

22 points by jakevoytko 4 days ago 2 replies      
I just left a job that afflicts Stockholm Syndrome on employees. Thankfully as a systems programmer in a research firm, I avoided the worst of it, but most people weren't so lucky. Here are some management behaviors that were effective:

Never thank people for finishing something on time, on budget, and to the project specifications. Instead, heap attention on those who finish in an all-nighter that ends in the final demo. Heroic measures are sometimes necessary and deserve reward, but being part of the process is a big red flag.

Never set expectations or milestones, just expect the project to be finished on the due date. This had an interesting effect on the work pace. Due to Parkinson's Law, individual workers finish days before the deadline, but that's not enough time to test integration. Major problems are discovered late, and everyone works ridiculous hours to fix it. Thank everyone for making it work at the last minute, rinse and repeat!

Tell employees to work weekends and nights for projects that could be unnecessary. Make these individual efforts to maximize the time one person wastes. When burning the candle on both ends, it's satisfying when you're done and the work was needed. After all, you took on the impossible, and here it is! But when days or weeks of your life are thrown away with a laugh, you would find another job if you actually had the time.

The Perceived Threats were the Bad Things that would happen if our demos failed. Funding lines would dry up, the company would be in trouble, etc. So everyone pitched together to keep the system going. Everyone became so focused that they stopped realizing that it could be done another way.

13 points by edw519 5 days ago 1 reply      
I once worked at a company that managed to pull off all four conditions with one brilliant but devious hack: The warehouse uniform was a t-shirt imprinted with, "The beatings will continue until morale improves."

Perceived Threat

This implied that problems were the workers' fault, not the boss's. Subtle, but effective.

Small Kindness

Believe it or not, many people were actually glad to be given their own t-shirt by the boss.

Isolation from Other Perspectives

Everyone had the same t-shirt. Eventually, what started out as a joke became the accepted condition.

Perceived Inability to Escape

There was never any doubt who was in control. Resistance was futile.

27 points by parfe 4 days ago 2 replies      
I'm in the process of cleaning up my resume to send out today.

* My responsibilities as a programmer have constantly been increasing. Every year I become the maintainer of more projects as others quit.

* We fired a sys admin and now I'm outright doing his job in addition to my own. Management was slow to get a job posting up and has not brought people in to interview. I feel like my breadth of abilities are being abused to save money. At this point I can't be a good programmer and a good sys admin.

* I asked to telecommute one day a week and the response was actually laughter. After speaking to someone high up the policy was changed and now I need to "Justify why it would be good for the department." Which is literally impossible. There is a key set of words I need to discover that would actually activate the policy, like it's a game or something. Now I'm questing for a new employer.

* I'm working with consultants from a Big Name Firm currently modernizing our X. These consultants send conflicting information and documents which aren't even internally consistent and then bill us while I work with them to clean up their bullshit. These people are earning 5x my pay and can't do their job. Then I was asked to work while I was on vacation this week to check up on the consultants progress. And sure enough they fucked up.

* Salaries are frozen even though we are profitable.

* A majority of my coworkers have no will to learn. I can dictate pseudo code to them to help with an issue and they will actually start typing the pseudo code into the editor and then be confused when it doesn't work. And a week later they will have a very similar issue with no ability to make the mental connection to the work done a week earlier.

Whew, nice to actually type all that out.

19 points by tobtoh 4 days ago 1 reply      
If you liked the article, you should also read this blog post: "How to keep someone with you forever" - http://issendai.livejournal.com/572510.html

It's written from the opposite point of view and goes into more details - ie if you were a manager, you can do X, Y and Z to encourage Stockholm Syndrome and keep your employees emotionally bound to you. It's a pretty scary 'how-to' guide!

9 points by MrFoof 4 days ago 3 replies      
I've been mindful of this since my teenage years, which is why I swore to myself a few things before I had even turned 16:

* If I don't like a situation, I will leave it. After all, the easiest way to change your environment is to escape it.

* Fear of failure is a great motivator. When you quit without having another opportunity already lined up, you have a lot of obvious motivation to find a new job since your income is $0. I've found it easier than lulling myself into complacency by continuing to get my income from the source I hate.

* Don't just zig, zag. I've been programming professionally for 12 years. Eventually I will stop, at the very least from being bored. Honestly, I want to work on Formula 1 cars, preferably before I'm 40. One day I'll stop building massive data engines for finance, and instead work on bleeding edge race car engines for racing teams. In the next 18 months I'm working on chasing another crazy dream successfully enough to have the option to walk away from big finance research.

It's difficult to describe my mindset about this, and being a ruthless, very self-critical perfectionist probably helps tremendously. I always joke that it's my mission in life to prove everyone else wrong.

The one that is hardest to follow is the first. For instance, I've never completely struck it out on my own, and have always worked for startups run by other people. My solution was to create a business that could be successfully run by myself, with no help from anyone. That's in the works... but in the meantime, I'm at another startup.

9 points by Hoff 4 days ago 1 reply      
You can become mentally locked into a programming language or development tools or an operating system, or to particular approaches to solving problems, too.

Learning something entirely new is more work, as is spending your own money on this given employers can tend to avoid funding career-unrelated tools and learning.

Corporations themselves can become locked into products and solutions and businesses.

Counterintuitively, there can be value in the bungee boss approach in countering this syndrome; of a policy of periodic and scheduled managerial evictions with business reviews and a review of the bosses, and of institutionalizing some instability within organizational management. A Darwinian policy of up or out; where each middle-tier and upper-level bosses are treated as and measured akin to a self-contained CEO and sales rep, and where each is going to be promoted or pushed out.

5 points by jimfl 4 days ago 1 reply      
The modern corporate structure has evolved to exploit this dynamic, so it ought to come as no shock that most everyone here has experienced it. In fact, my guess is that more than half of HNers who think positively about their current position will eventually look back upon it with feelings of having been manipulated in this way.

Even shops that style themselves as non-traditional will adopt this corporate body plan as they grow, because the new directors and officers have had "best practices" ingrained in them.

One term specifically stands out throughout my career: if you are told by the company that you are "empowered," then you're not.

9 points by tgflynn 4 days ago 1 reply      
Doesn't this situation describe about 3/4 of the working age US population ?

I find it ironic that a nation where freedom is supposedly so highly valued accepts relegating most of its people to corporate slavery.

4 points by varjag 4 days ago 1 reply      
So, to summarise, S.S. type of jobs can be ones that provide:

- occasional bonuses

- competitive salary

- great tech to play with

- high status within the company that you might lose if not keep up

Now, the question is, does that really sound like a terrible job environment to you? Where one is supposed to go from there? Entrepreneurship? Consulting? Cause actual salaried jobs don't get any much better than that.

9 points by johnohara 4 days ago 0 replies      
While Stockholm Syndrome may be the observable result, the underlying emotion is fear.

Addressing one's fear is a shared part of the human condition. Which may be why we admire those who act, persevere, and succeed.

5 points by comxo 4 days ago 0 replies      
Like some here, I recently escaped a company which pulled off these four condition on every employee in every dept. Am not ashamed to name and shame them either. ComXo, a Slough UK, based umbrella company with call2.com, buttontel.com and multivoice.com brands under them. Here's the deal....

"We run a tight ship, everyone has to be in at 9am" ... The employer had one person he believed is the cream for the week and their given top spot...everyone else is treated like dead wood for the next week or two. Percieved threat of getting fired if you were the dead wood, and some did...to our amazement..this kept the rest quiet, head down, trying utmost not to get noticed!

Small Kindness...This was amazingly executed. The employer introduced an great bonus scheme and got you to agree to it and the job/project delivery based on it. The scheme is known as "MBO"


The objectives were set, one/two meetings take place and then you got a nice tidy sum, around 8% of the total bonus...then the scheme was shutdown, your locked in to the project, otherwise...see perceived threat above!

Isolation from other perspectives - provided you met the project deadline, did the utmost to killoff the competition to be the "cream" mentioned about, you were in with a chance to be IT / Sales / product (you name the dept) manager.....keep waiting.....the perception was..."we dont need an manager, we do a great job without one". The employer is the manager for all depts, have you heard such tosh!

Perceived inability to escape - Majority was told, they could never get paid as well as they do there, the jobs easy and "you" make it difficult, all you have to do is A, B and C, we have to do D, E and F-Z..your lucky! They even went as far saying how would they cope without you...praise that were simply words to keep some staff working till 9PM when they would refuse to pay a penny over the 9-5 allocated!

Myself and other ex-employees all feel extremely grateful, we all get together on a regular basis and feel so lucky to have gotten out when we did too! We were only lauging last week when we found they were using their own employees to advertise their services on youtube (try serching for "comxo"), amazing what they got their employee to do in the name of the company!

Sorry for the long rant.

5 points by maeon3 4 days ago 0 replies      
Amazing, I never thought if that way. This notion really explains some phenomenon that I've seen. Coworkers I knew drove themselves insane programming themselves to death for someone they didn't even like. Leading those individuals to suicide to escape. It never occurred to them that they could change jobs. Stockholm Syndrome definitely affects programmers. If I catch anyone doing this again I'm blowing the whistle.
4 points by adolph 4 days ago 1 reply      
A wider look at similar ground is "The Gervais Principle." [1]

1. http://www.ribbonfarm.com/2009/10/07/the-gervais-principle-o...

1 point by narrator 4 days ago 0 replies      
I was starting to feel like I was in a dead end job a couple years back and then I started programming like I wanted to quit but leave the company in a good position. I automated everything. All of a sudden I had copious amounts of spare time to work on interesting projects and the business started growing rapidly as we were able to scale easily to larger operations and add more revenue with fewer mistakes and more customer satisfaction. I kept up the same pattern, and a couple years later the company is doing better than ever, I've gotten raises, etc. I've also been able to move-on from boring maintenance to new projects as the old stuff practically runs itself.

Moral of the story is, if you are getting bored you're probably not automating enough or making tools to let non-tech people do most day to day stuff. If your management has a problem with that, or prevents you from doing that, then you should move on.

2 points by sp4rki 4 days ago 0 replies      
The author should add "Founder's or CEO's promises of grandeur, huge exits, and unbelievable equity". I'm currently leaving for greener pastures (after three years), but this is so common in our industry that it's not even funny. If you're promised fame, fortune, equity, and power, and in two or three years you're not at least one step closer to those goals - you're being played. Over confident founders with delusions about how great their idea really is are the life force of said Stockholm Syndrome for employees.
6 points by tsbaron 5 days ago 1 reply      
A poor economy doesn't help either. I think part of the fear is not being able to find other work to pay the bills so many of us settle for the current situation... or work on startups on the side!
5 points by dev_jim 4 days ago 4 replies      
I don't know why anyone would put up with this nonsense. The market for tech is amazing right now and has been for years. It's inexcusable that anyone worth their salt should feel trapped in a dead-end job.
1 point by Periodic 4 days ago 1 reply      
I don't enjoy my current job. However, as soon as I mentioned quitting after six months to my family and friends they reacted uniformly negatively. "You can't do that, it wouldn't be respectful to the people who hired you." "You'll make (friend who recommended and vouched for you) look bad." "It will look really bad on your resume to only have a job for six months."

It was enough to break my determination to quit and now I find myself looking for a new job much more casually. I have dreams about changing things from the inside. Let's see how long that lasts...

2 points by pilom 4 days ago 1 reply      
My wife read this over my shoulder and said it is extremely accurate for teach for America. They not only make you love your employer, but feel like a terrible person for quitting.
1 point by mkramlich 4 days ago 0 replies      
This is one of the reasons I prefer contracting/consulting. I feel like much more of a free/non-enslaved human being than I was before. I'm not totally "free", in that I still have to do things for others, follow external rule systems, I have to obey physical laws, etc. but I am more free than before. Closer to a state of bliss, as they say.
2 points by stagas 4 days ago 0 replies      
Living in a society where you have to pay taxes and obey the law, matches the Stockholm Syndrome characteristics. Society, the political system and its forces (police, army) is the abuser that threatens if you don't pay your bills, taxes etc., isolates us from different perspectives, occasionally shows a little kindness, and it's seamingly impossible to escape that situation.

The difference is we get to choose who's the abuser going to be.

1 point by raghava 4 days ago 0 replies      
>>Perceived threat

Put in place a procedure to rate people in a relative fashion, and link this to benefits and compensation. Make hard slabs in percentage for each rating (excellent 10%, good 25%, average 50%, below average - rest). Does not matter if there is a team full of awesome wonderful guys, someone is going to get rated as 'below average'; and in a team comprising mostly of below average guys, many still end up getting 'excellent'/'good'.

>>Small kindness

Boast of world-class infrastructure, gym, sprawling campus. This would trump the fact that BigCo pays less than industry average, or the abysmal type of work involved.

>>Isolation from other perspectives

Again, the cult of personality and culture vacuum as mentioned in the post. And a lot of make-believe thrown in. And Goebbels style propaganda to instill that "all's well" notion, worked out masterfully. Not many within this BigCo would know that the tools of the trade are, or the best practices, or even the options in terms of technology.

>>Perceived inability to escape

In case of few places I know, this is not just perceived, it would be a hard fact and reality. Maintaining legacy VB code, spending an average of 6 months on every sort of technology (without mastering anything), and being an excel warrior aren't really great on resumes (except of course when applying for BigCo, that is).

"Institutionalization" is the word that many of my colleagues use to convey the feeling. :(

2 points by donaq 4 days ago 1 reply      
If you work for BigCo, you learn to do things The BigCo way.

Apologies for going off on a tangent, but this sort of jumped out at me. Is this consistent? Shouldn't it be either

a) ... do things the BigCo way.


b) ... do things The BigCo Way.

Native is not my English tongue, so I just want to make sure. :p

3 points by hysterix 4 days ago 1 reply      
I remember working at a very large, technically oriented company.

After it was discovered I had actual development skills, I was asked to work on a project in my off time without any extra compensation for it.

They pretty much wanted me to go home after a full days work, and put in more work to develop a system for them, totally unpaid.

Later that month I gave my two weeks.

2 points by belhassen 4 days ago 0 replies      
SS is phenomenon of structural deficiency, not contextual input.

some will have SS in their job, in their affective life, in their intellectual life. others will use their job, their affective life, their intellectual life to achieve beyond. and sometime they ll even use SS of the first.


1 point by aheilbut 4 days ago 2 replies      
The same might be said for grad school...
1 point by julius_geezer 4 days ago 0 replies      
There was a very good piece on this posted to HN this fall. Wish I could remember the source...
1 point by yuhong 3 days ago 0 replies      
I know. Fear-based top-down command and control is fundamentally flawed.
1 point by ntraft 4 days ago 0 replies      
I thought this was a great comment from the original article (comment #18): "We're lucky as software developers, even if we're moderately good we have a lot of options, the pay is good, it's not the same for many others in other industries. If I broached this subject with friends who are not software developers they'd tell me I'm a bigot and I should be happy with what I have."
2 points by geovedi 4 days ago 0 replies      
Please stop wasting your precious time.

yep, i'm senselessly stuck in bad job situation. lol

1 point by checoivan 4 days ago 0 replies      
I'm printing this and pasting it in my bathroom's mirror.
The worsening journalistic disgrace at Wired salon.com
228 points by michael_dorfman 7 days ago   110 comments top 26
69 points by pmorici 7 days ago 1 reply      
Also of note though not specifically enumerated in this article, if you read the linked biography http://govsecinfo.com/events/govsec-2011/Speakers/Speaker%20... of Mark Rasch, who Salon says facilitated this whole thing, you'll notice his title is, "Director of Cybersecurity and Privacy Consulting, Computer Science Corporation".

Computer Science Corporation aka, "CSC" is a major government contractor for IT services. What better way to sell more overpriced crap to the government than to foment a climate of panic around the Wikileaks issue. A problem that CSC no doubt has the perfect multi million dollar enterprise "solution" for.

In other words Mark Rasch has a likely significant and surely direct financial interest in making news coverage about Manning as sensationalistic as humanly possible.

8 points by anigbrowl 7 days ago 2 replies      
I do not have a very high opinion of Glenn Greenwald in general. I mention this not to support my argument but to admit my bias up front. I have other biases as well - about whether this material was leaked, whether it should have been leaked, and whether it should have been published as it has been - but I'm trying to steer clear of such issues here and just address the specific topic of this article. The morality of these leaks is a political question; until there are changes in the law, responsibility for the leaks is a more narrow legal question.

For reference, where I talk about the contents of these chat logs I'm referring to the the same source Greenwald does, at http://firedoglake.com/merged-manning-lamo-chat-logs/ That seems like factual summary with zero editorial commentary; citing it is not meant to express any particular view on the site's editorial/political stance. However, it does have some sloppy copyediting (summary descriptions of following section appearing inline as if they were the final line of chat) and seem to be somewhat incomplete, per this BoingBoing story http://www.boingboing.net/2010/06/20/was-alleged-wikileak.ht... - likely an honest mistake, as BoingBoing's writer apparently edited the transcripts subsequently out a desire to avoid prejudice. Finally, I am not a lawyer, and so these are nothing more than the opinions of an amateur.

EDIT: downvoting doesn't bother me, but absent comment I have no idea what part of it you disagreed with...

It seems to me that Greenwald is assuming his own conclusion here, that the chat logs provide evidence of Manning's innocence. They could, of course; and I imagine that Manning's Lawyer will subpoena them for just that reason: if he can not get them from Wired, then he can get them from Lamo or the FBI. (Lamo apparently says the FBI took his computer with the logs on them, but until he says so under oath that doesn't mean a thing.)

There are alternative possibilities, which Greenwald does not address, that could well justify Wired's withholding other parts of the chat logs and still maintaining a high standard of journalistic ethics.

First: the possibility that the logs contain more evidence of Manning's or Assange's guilt. Lamo makes statements to multiple journalistic sources such as the NYT and Washington Post as well as to Wired; so whether Poulsen reports his remarks first or not, the fact that such allegations are being made is a matter of public record. Poulsen neither confirms nor denies Lamo's allegations with reference to the chat logs. Greenwald argues that he should, as Lamo's accusations amount to prosecuting Manning and Assange in public. However, accusations without evidence are just talk. If Poulsen releases the transcripts, many will see the contents as conclusive evidence, whether they support or undermine Lamo's assertions, or even if they are ambiguous. That could make a fair trial for Assange impossible, if indeed he is charged. It could also amount to conducting Manning's (military) trial in public in a way that undermines his rights.

As yet, there's no proof that Bradley Manning was 'Bradass87' or that he was the one conducting those conversations (vs someone else using his login, say), or that the logs are a true and unedited copy of actual chats. But the logs that are public already are being treated as the indisputable truth. That they are public makes it very difficult for Manning's lawyer to attack their admissibility as evidence: if he does so, many people will dismiss his arguments as lies. Just the fact that the public logs have the 'feel' of a real conversation is enough for many people to decide they're authentic, for the same reason that people often remember movies better than they do real history. Even if it can be shown that the chat logs are authentic records of conversations between Manning and Lamo, they are only evidence that Manning believed and said certain things to Lamo. As far as the logs talk about Assange, their legal value is that of hearsay evidence. But opponents of Assange will treat such hearsay remarks as proven facts (they're not even close), while his supporters will say none of it is admissible at all because it's hearsay (not true either). Regardless of which side Poulsen or anyone else is on, making that material public risks undermining justice.

Personally, I think it would have been better not to release any transcripts at all in order to avoid biasing a trial (either of Manning or of Assange, if he is charged later). Mind, that's very much a personal opinion. I'm also against police releasing mugshots or making people do perp walks because so many assume that criminal defendants must be guilty because they look bad. But suppose, for argument's sake, that there's so much evidence of Manning being the leaker that the facts are not really in question, and that's why Poulsen felt ethically justified in releasing partial transcripts.

This leads me towards the other possibility which might have led Poulsen to release only partial transcripts - the question of Manning's motivations. In the published logs he sounds like someone offended by the government's low ethical standards, unhappy in his job situation, and alternatively bragging and remorseful about the magnitude of the revelations. So his defense might go ahead on the basis of 'yes, he broke his oath and leaked all these documents, but he was young and idealistic and believed himself to be acting on a higher purpose, thus he's really only guilty of exercising very poor judgment.' But (in theory) if the unpublished logs include him having a bad day and going on an extended rant to the effect that 'bin Laden was right' or 'the American empire deserves to collapse' or something? Such sentiments are not unknown, and considering that members of Congress have already been calling for the kid's execution - although none of the charges against him carry the death penalty - if evidence of a 'bad' motivation comes before the public there's likely to be lynch mobs forming outside the camp where he's being held. More likely, there's an entirely different set of possible motivations.

[Quoting OP article]
When I first wrote back in June about Wired's concealment of these chat logs, the excuses Poulsen gave were quickly proved to be false.

That's very much a matter of opinion. The parts that were not in Wired's original release which later appeared in the WaPo (orange and red text at the link above) all seem to me to have a bearing on these subjects. 'Sensitive information' could refer to the removal of Assange's name/identifying detail in some places, but mostly Wired's redactions seem to concern such personal matters as Manning's emotions, mental stability, and life situation, which might interpreted as damning or mitigating by different people. Greenwald says several parts are neither, but doesn't say which parts or (more importantly) why he thinks so.

The personal information here appears to show Manning as a troubled kid who turned to the army in search of the stability that was missing in his life, but became deeply disillusioned with the institution and country he served. It appears that the army had become disillusioned with Manning too, and that he was being discharged for an 'adjustment disorder.' What that means is uncertain, but there's been a lot of speculation to the effect that Manning was gay or had gender identity issues. That's a pretty contentious subject as far as it relates to the military (see the depth of feeling in the recent debate about repealing DADT) and the extent to which it could have affected Manning personally, and the extent to which any lack of stability on Manning's part would be his fault or that of the army's, are questions which could have a significant bearing on his sentence. And because the issue is very contentious, it tends to split opinion further among those already holding polarized opinions: if you think Manning's a bad person, then his personal hangups may compound his moral failings or be an unacceptable sympathy play; if you think he's a good person, then his personal hangups may be an additional justification for leaking the secrets of an unfairly discriminatory, or an unacceptable attempt to smear him as a sexual deviant.

It seems to me that Poulsen decided to publish those parts of the logs which showed Manning's access to, awareness of, and methods for leaking classified information. In other words, the published excerpts offer answers to the question of where multiple different leaks of military and diplomatic information came from (one single intelligence analyst tasked with cross-referencing army intel with that from other branches of government); whether the leaking was a deliberate act, or an accidental result of bureaucratic incompetence (deliberate, with understanding of content, likely publicity, and negative impact); and whether the allegations were credible (obviously the government intranet does not include a 'leak to public?' option, and the weak point was the CD-RW supposedly filled with Lady Gaga tunes (am I the only person who finds this detail bizarrely ironic?)). All this information is concerned with factual issues. Courts-martial have to establish proof beyond a reasonable doubt as do civilian courts, but they differ in terms of things like jury requirements, which may make it easier to deal with the publication of factual evidence than would be the case for a civilian trial. But while it may be easy to prove the acts occurred, mental state, criminal responsibility, and would be an appropriate sentence are much trickier questions. Because such matters are inherently subjective, the standards for evaluating them are different from those for establishing material fact, and there are different risks of potential bias.

My guess is that Wired's legal department (rather than Poulsen as an individual) would have gone through the transcripts marking different sections as factual or subjective, with lesser or greater possibilities of bias and thus legal liability for publication.

52 points by jeremymims 7 days ago replies      
Glenn Greenwald has consistently delivered the best analysis of what has been going on with Wikileaks. He's appalled at the way most of the media has covered this story and I couldn't agree more.
6 points by mikedouglas 7 days ago 3 replies      
Greenwald doesn't seem to think that Lamos is a credible witness because statements he has made in the press aren't corroborated in the released sections of the chat log. But, (1) isn't it likely that the chat logs aren't the full extent of the communication between Manning and Lamos during this period, and (2) if Lamos is suspect, the chat logs are meaningless anyways, as they can easily be doctored.

How does the release of the full transcript solve either of these problems?

12 points by moondowner 7 days ago 1 reply      
"Whether by design or effect, Kevin Poulsen and Wired have played a critical role in concealing the truth from the public about the Manning arrest."

Manning is in a cell getting the worst possible treatment for God's sake.

The damage has been done, however, anyone who cares can sign this petition "Stop the Inhumane Treatment of Bradley Manning" (it's a blog post with a petition, to be more precise): http://my.firedoglake.com/blog/2010/12/23/bradley-manning-sp...

11 points by aw3c2 7 days ago 0 replies      
bad link, go to the full story straight away: http://www.salon.com/news/opinion/glenn_greenwald/2010/12/27...
7 points by hebejebelus 7 days ago 3 replies      
Looks like someone needs to do some leaking down at the Wired office.

That would be interesting, particularly if the chat logs were "leaked" to Wikileaks. Would they still publish the logs, even if the logs meant life imprisonment for Bradley Manning? Would that then be a breach of trust between Wikileaks and Manning?

Anyway, besides all my ridiculous speculation and getting ahead of things; The title is in no way an exaggeration, and Poulson should think rather hard about what he's going to do about it.

26 points by schrototo 7 days ago 2 replies      
Wired has always been the worst kind of tabloid (The Web is Dead, push technology is the future, the dotcom bubble won't ever burst...), their lack of journalistic ethics doesn't surprise me in the least.
7 points by jdp23 7 days ago 0 replies      
Kevin Poulsen's response on Twitter:

Heard there's a measured, mature critique I should respond to. Will look for it tomorrow when I'm back from vacation.

4 points by ajays 7 days ago 1 reply      
If the USG wants to charge Assange with aiding/abetting Manning, then it is in their interest to not have the chat logs released. As long as the chat logs are hidden, the USG can claim that Manning admitted to Lamo that he received some help from Assange, and bingo! Assange can be indicted.
5 points by tzs 7 days ago 1 reply      
Perhaps Wired is only releasing those parts of the logs that they are able to find some corroboration for. Considering the Salon author's prior poorly researched reporting on Manning, the idea of actually checking on things before publishing may be alien to him.
2 points by brown9-2 7 days ago 1 reply      
Can someone explain this part of the article to me?

But after that, The Washington Post's Ellen Nakashima quoted from the chat logs and included several parts that (a) Wired had withheld but (b) were not about personal matters or national security secrets; see this analysis here of what was disclosed by the Post, Wired and others. (Nakashima and the Post refuse even to say whether they possess all the chat logs. When I asked Nakashima several months ago, she referred my inquiry to a corporate spokeswoman, who then told me: "We don't discuss the details of our newsgathering." But I focus here on Poulsen because of his central role in these events, his long-standing relationships with the key parties, and the fact that -- unlike the Post, which obviously has nothing to do with journalism -- I actually expect better of Wired).

Is Greenwald saying that the Washington Post "has nothing to do with journalism"?

As in, what the WaPo does is not journalism?

4 points by Vivtek 7 days ago 0 replies      
Does anybody but me find it sort of comic-booky that the head of Project Vigilant, a group surveilling the Internet so the government won't have to, is named "Uber"?
1 point by DanielBMarkham 7 days ago 1 reply      
Okay I admit to skimming after the tenth paragraph or so, so if I screw up my response I apologize. The article just seemed very wordy, but not so substantive.

<snark>But am I to understand that the beef here is that wired is _not_ publishing something that others think they should? So now not only do we need a world with no secrets, we also need a world where the mob can demand that others publish whatever we ask?

I know the counter-response will be something like "but they made statements for which we have no support and the chat logs could either prove or refute those statements"

To that response, all I have to offer is that there is an active criminal investigation, not carried out in the press or the mob but by due process, and that news sources all the time say things from anonymous sources and such. I don't like it when they do, but I don't think demanding that every news source that uses an anonymous source release their name is very realistic either.

I understand that this is an emotionally-charged issue. And folks want to know. But you can rest assured that it will all eventually come out. If that's not fast enough for you, then perhaps a little more patience might help.

This whole thing -- the subsequent events to WL and Manning's arrest, including the title of the article here, has the air of a bunch of assholes kicking around folks just to keep their emotions stirred up and readership levels high. It's become the chatty, gossipy topic-of-the-week. If you can't find a juicy enough Wikileaks story, then run a story about the story that doesn't exist. What did they say about cable news during the Monica Lewinsky scandal? It's all Monica, all the time. Wikileaks makes folks crazy, and I have a feeling various news outlets are going to be yanking our chain with this for some time to come. There's money in it, no matter what angle you use.</snark>

Feel free to correct me if I've missed something.

3 points by jdp23 7 days ago 1 reply      
It's interesting reading the email exchange between Greenwald and Poulsen. To me it looks like Glenn trying bullying trial lawyer tactics: "you have to admit there's something disturbing about all of this" etc. That approach isn't going to work well with Kevin.
1 point by phatboyslim 7 days ago 0 replies      
This may be too far out there, but does anyone believe that perhaps Poulsen has some closeted sympathy for Manning given his black hat history and subsequent history with law enforcement? I'm not saying that is his motive, but I do wonder if it plays into his decision at all. He once did also actively pursue freedom of information through non-legal means.
2 points by shareme 7 days ago 0 replies      
This is Wikileaks thesis that those who have influence are hiding facts to miss-lead public to a different conclusion..

Here we have 2 of the 4 and possibly 3 of the four being government informants driving a miss-leading conclusion of the media story and using Wired as government mouthpiece..

I submit that wikileaks will not be charged by the US government due to the corrupt miss-handling of both government informants in this case as well las the PR work the government embarked upon...there are simply too many skeletons that no-one wants to see the light of day..

And the US government has history of dropping prosecution if secrets are used as evidence in courts as they do not want them exposed...However, Manning is different case because he will be in the Military court system not the public US court system..which is unfortunate as he should be able to defend himself using whatever evidence Wired has..

1 point by futuremint 7 days ago 3 replies      
I'm mildly surprised that a media outlet is actually calling this out at another organization.

In my opinion, every media outlet has been complicit in helping the U.S. powers that be try to discredit Wikileaks and distract from the contents of the leaks. Not to mention hiding corruption.

Wikileaks has done a great job at showing the world how much those in power don't care about anything but their own power (and their "conspiracy network"). But all I'm seeing is the same apathetic and head-in-the-sand response from the general population to reality.

4 points by shanked 7 days ago 2 replies      
Could it be that the information in the chat logs are sensitive and he/Wired is avoiding the legal nightmare that may be caused by publishing?
2 points by freejoe76 7 days ago 0 replies      
Speaking of disgrace, Salon is prominently featuring ads to scammy sites like hxxp://www.online8report.com/Acai-Berry/ right next to that article.
1 point by jdp23 7 days ago 1 reply      
TL;DR summary: Glenn thinks Kevin Poulsen is a disgrace for not publishing the chat logs Adrian Lamo gave him involving Bradley Manning (or somebody claiming to be Bradley) (as potentially edited by Adrian).
2 points by codybrown 7 days ago 1 reply      
Don't just complain about this. Show Wired how much interest there is in releasing the chat logs. I'm organizing response here: http://kommons.com/questions/418
1 point by coreymull 7 days ago 1 reply      
I usually like Greenwald and in general agree with his argument here. But I sure as hell don't like the ad-homing of Lamo as a mental patient and convicted felon. Not relevant, Glenn.
0 points by earnubs 7 days ago 1 reply      
-2 points by jkava 7 days ago 0 replies      
What's the problem? He has a right not to publish. This article screams "written because I'm mad at Wired." Get your own source and then we'll talk about who's a "journalistic disgrace."
-4 points by nailer 7 days ago 0 replies      
Great article. Flagged as not hacker relevant. Post it to Reddit.
1960s IT department luckham.org
218 points by anigbrowl 5 days ago   50 comments top 20
46 points by edw519 5 days ago 2 replies      
A few stories behind the pictures:

- The programmer is probably playing guitar because he is waiting for his compile. It had to be batched and returned, sometimes hours later. Imagine getting things done with only one compile per day.

- The programmer is giving an obscene gesture to the terminal because he forgot a semicolon (more likely a period in his COBOL program) and will now have to wait another day for a clean compile. Move that deadline back to October.

- The terminal the programmer is giving an obscene gesture to is a state-of-the-art Datawriter, a PAPER-DRIVEN terminal. A moment of silence is needed for all the trees sacrificed for our future.

- The programmer was special because he had access to the Datawriter, which was probably in the computer room. Anyone else, including all users, had to use pencil and special forms (like taking their SATs) to enter data into the IBM Mainframe. Those forms went to the Data Control Unit where teams of mostly women keypunched the data onto 80 column cards which were fed into a hopper. The early keypunch machines put the holes in the cards as you typed, so that if you made a mistake, you had to start over with a new card. Later, these machines had memory, so you could finish the virtual card, and hit a key that did the whole card. Probably saved a lot of paper.

- Notice all the coats hanging in the break room. It may have been winter, but just as likely, they were needed in the computer room. It was cold in there!

- Note that the "Data Terminal" pictures are at the bottom of the page in the mini-computer section. This was a big deal back then. Mini-computers got CRT displays before IBM mainframes. That's how they competed with Big Blue. For programmers, this was as big an advance as we would ever get. Imagine building that web app today, buying cases of cards from Office Depot and getting one compile per day.

- The Demonstration Center was a big deal, too. Several places I worked had the computer room behind glass in the lobby. Companies wanted their customers to physically see how advanced their technology was.

Thanks for the memories. Now burn those pictures.

43 points by S_A_P 5 days ago 2 replies      
Love how everything had color back then. Bright red Minicomputer, Aquamarine phones, blue typewriter. My cube consists of varying shades of grey...
8 points by cpr 5 days ago 0 replies      
Boy, that brings back fond memories of IBM 360 mainframes in big, noisy, cold rooms.

I remember the transition from cards to online terminals, when hacking (as a high-school junior) at the Naval Electronic Labs computer center in Point Loma (San Diego) in the early 70's as a part-time systems programmer. (Don't remember how I got a job there, but I do remember adding some small features to their WATFOR Fortran compiler over one summer.)

TSO (time-sharing option) was a huge upgrade at the time, running as a permanent "job" under OS/360, and virtualizing the job partition to run separate sub-jobs per terminal user. After using punched cards for a while, the thrill of actually typing in programs directly (mostly assembler and PL/I in my case), running, and DEBUGGING them interactively was nirvana.

12 points by rbanffy 5 days ago 0 replies      
The server is in agony.

Maybe a cache can help:


19 points by shykes 5 days ago 4 replies      
The predominance of women in the pictures is very striking. Was that common at the time? If so, I wonder what happened to change the demographics so heavily.
8 points by 51Cards 4 days ago 0 replies      
In pictures 01 & 02 you can see a copy of the book 2001 - A Space Odyssey on his desk.

Also this impressed me:

"The computer room was in the basement of a building for security and other reasons. There was no natural light and I had a slim budget for decorations. I also had staff with artistic talents so I bought the materials and they made their own decorations."

With the guitars and the art projects it sounds like he fostered a very progressive work environment.

4 points by mkramlich 4 days ago 1 reply      
Back in the late 70's I once knew someone who knew someone who knew someone, who shall remain nameless, who was a fairly senior programmer for a large bank. On certain occasions, this person was able to bring home thick printouts of the actual COBOL code that ran in the bank's mainframes. Probably one of my first exposures to source code. The lines would alternate between a green and white paper color. Along both the left and right edges were rows of holes, needed by the printer mechanism. The code itself was highly highly verbose plus was probably >50% comments, both inline and in section delimiting blocks. I later got into BASIC programming myself as my first language, then 6502 Assembly, then C. Though I appreciate Java's strengths, I totally understand why some folks call Java the New COBOL: it's pretty verbose, full of ritual, and it's used everywhere now in large corporations and government. (Not sure if used in banks heavily, but would not be surprised. Though I know COBOL is still running in many banks as well.)
5 points by cubicle67 5 days ago 1 reply      
lova to see a zoom enhance on the cartoon on the corkboard here http://www.luckham.org/images/Bell%20Labs%20Days/Bell%20Labs... I know it can't be Dilbert (can it?) but it sure looks like it
6 points by lukeschlather 4 days ago 1 reply      
Out of curiosity, how were those photos preserved? As someone who was born in the 80's, I'm used to anything pre-1990 looking washed out. Were you using an especially powerful camera, or was it purely good preservation technique? Are these restored somehow? Some combination of the above?
4 points by jschuur 4 days ago 1 reply      
I took one look at the sideburns and thought this can't possibly be real. It had to be a well done (and amusing) hoax.

I was about 60% sure someone got access to a preserved data center that's now a museum, raided the Mad Men wardrobe and took a bunch of pictures, but then I saw the personal page of the guy and it's an older version of him:


The Internet has made me such a cynic. But still... someone should take my idea of faking old timey things for a different theme and set of pic ;)

14 points by levirosol 5 days ago 0 replies      
the site sure loads like it's on a 60's internet connection... :)
2 points by duck 5 days ago 0 replies      
In the early 80's I use to go into a place my dad did hardware contract work every month to help him vacuum out filters in all their CAD machines. Their server room didn't look much different from this (except for more crowded, and probably a smaller footprint) and they even had one teletype box for their tape library backups. I still have a huge plywood box the size of a toy chest (actually, it was my toy chest!) that a 20MB hard drive and enclosure came in.
8 points by zaph0d 5 days ago 4 replies      
IMHO Roxanne & Helen were very beautiful.
2 points by wyclif 4 days ago 0 replies      
My father worked in the engineering department at the DuPont Corporation in Delaware in the '60's, and I remember going there on "take your son to work day" and seeing my first Cray. This really brings back some old, old memories.
3 points by wyclif 5 days ago 0 replies      
The photo of the decor in the "Demonstration Center" is priceless. Almost straight out of Mad Men.
3 points by danielsiders 5 days ago 0 replies      
Anyone who hasn't seen Desk Set (1957) with Katharine Hepburn needs to. (Reference department at a television network that gets its first 'computer')
4 points by dennisgorelik 4 days ago 1 reply      
Nowadays all that work [and more] can be accomplished by a single person.
3 points by 10smom 5 days ago 1 reply      
648 meg of hard drive! geezz. Would not even be able to view those pics on that computer back then.
2 points by duinote 4 days ago 0 replies      
thanks for the pictures, it is fascinating to see open colored pictures. loving it.
2 points by spicerunner 4 days ago 1 reply      
This is cool. Can't say I'm sorry to see the sidburns gone though...:)
Touching Your Junk: An Ontological Complaint eblong.com
221 points by aheilbut 6 days ago   22 comments top 7
26 points by forensic 6 days ago 2 replies      
It may not technically be a Venn Diagram but I still think it is a legitimate way to represent something - and do it better than the author's alternatives.

You have to look at the chart differently but I don't think this makes it a bad graphic.

Each intersection is a way of representing what the two intersecting groups have in common, rather than demonstrating what the groups are.

The question is, "What do doctors and TSA agents have in common?" and the answer goes in the intersecting region.

While not technically a Venn Diagram I think it is still a useful graphic.

30 points by Qz 6 days ago 3 replies      
This article takes something simple and elegant (if incorrectly labeled) and turns it into a sad tortured example of how to get yourself picked on in high school.
26 points by panacea 6 days ago 1 reply      
He's right though. Line diagrams as JPEGs are annoying.
7 points by jaekwon 6 days ago 2 replies      
The original image is a proper Venn Diagram if you think of the diagram representing various properties of professions.

The only correction you need is to replace "Doctor" with "other properties of doctors", etc, to be technically correct -- though i much prefer the original.

Nice post anyways

4 points by Bud 5 days ago 0 replies      
I laughed out loud at the bit about "probably something from Bruce Schneier". Really funny stuff overall. If you didn't like this, you need to relax and have more egg nog.
1 point by niels_olson 5 days ago 0 replies      
> De Morgan's law. The union of two properties is the intersection of the sets of people who have those properties. (And vice versa.)

De Morgan's Law!!!!!!! I first learned about this in a Moore-method point-set topology class in 1995, and I have been trying to remember the name of this property since. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

1 point by harshpotatoes 6 days ago 1 reply      
Is it weird that internet memes still manage to find a way here, albeit in a roundabout manner?
RIM thought iPhone was impossible in 2007 electronista.com
217 points by evo_9 7 days ago   77 comments top 10
36 points by aresant 7 days ago 5 replies      
Tough to compete with Apple after they began duplicating their success in UI design to hardware, manufacturing, elegant chip design with a pointed purpose, etc.

Apple's most underestimated strength is their continued march towards vertical integration - buying make the right processor company (PA Semi) and a team of 150 processor gurus to minimize power use, developing a proprietary manufacturing process to make seamless aluminum notebooks, etc, etc etc.

A good read from 2008 about Apple's strategy . . . http://www.forbes.com/2008/04/24/mitra-apple-pasemi-tech-ent...

50 points by ugh 7 days ago 1 reply      
So much for the frequent claim that Apple is all marketing and no new technology, I guess.

Analysis like that tend to focus on single technologies like capacitive touchscreens or e-ink displays. Pretty much all the different single technologies many recent Apple products brought together existed in some way, shape or form before in consumer products. Single technologies don't make a product. Oh, and the UI matters. Having the same exact hardware with a better UI really does matter.

42 points by nailer 7 days ago 2 replies      
The title is misleading. RIM thought the iPhone 2G was insanely power hungry and must have terrible battery life.

As an owner of iPhone 2G I attest that was completely true. This is the first phone I'd ever owned that lasted less than two days.

(Apple themselves even cited battery life as the reason they couldn't do 3G, and the iPhone 3G, when it did come out, was thicker than the iPhone 2G)

What RIM probably didn't counter is that customers were willing to trade 24 hour charging cycles for an awesome user experience.

14 points by wallflower 7 days ago 0 replies      
"Imagine their surprise [at RIM] when they disassembled an iPhone for the first time and found that the phone was battery with a tiny logic board strapped to it."

Step 9 iFixit teardown of original iPhone:


Witness the size of the magical iPad battery in Step 22:


11 points by aditya 7 days ago 0 replies      
I suppose this speaks to Apple's need for secrecy too, stealth and secrecy mostly seem overrated but if you're going to disrupt a huge market, they can be pretty powerful in making entrenched competitors believe that certain things are impossible.

This happens all the time, established competitors become complacent and lose the intense focus that made them successful in the first place.

Apple and Netflix are two companies that are admirable in this sense. And perhaps it is because they're (supposedly) ruthless about hiring and firing.

4 points by cubicle67 7 days ago 1 reply      
Anyone able to locate the original source for this claim? The link in the article ends up at shacknews with a 'bad id' message and I've been unable to locate the source on that site

Interestingly all the sites I've looked at trying to find the source, and there's been a few, all link back to this article in electronista (except sites like apple.findtechnews.net which rip off the entire story, pic and all and then remove the source link)

I guess I'm looking for a blog post or even a forum post/comment, but so far I've drawn a blank.

2 points by Stormbringer 7 days ago 1 reply      
One of the things that people consistently seem to forget is that the iPhone isn't just hardware. The iPhone is an aggregation of things that collectively make up either an ecosystem or something akin to it. And in most cases, the pieces of that ecosystem had been built up over a considerable time before the iPhone was a twinkle in Jobs' eyes.

For RIM to duplicate the iPhone would require them to give up on a lot of long held beliefs (e.g. physical keyboard), to ignore most of the tech pundits (the pundits themselves don't like to remind us that they were busy ridiculing the very concept of a one-button phone right up to and in some cases even after it started selling like hot-cakes), to focus on the consumer instead of the business user and last but by no means least to madly start implementing and iterating on their own consumer eco-system.

Now the iTunes store is by no means perfect, but if you don't have a drop in replacement for it, what are you going to replace that part of the eco-system with? I think a lot of people grossly underestimate the time and effort it takes to create a system like the iTunes store, and never mind even all the iterations in features... how about the task of sitting down with every single recording industry association in every country that your product will be sold? How about doing the same thing for movies and then telcos? You'd have to be a masochist of the first degree.

On that note, one of the enormously revolutionary things that Apple did was to break the choke-hold that telcos had over the handset manufacturers. On an iPhone, you always have access to the App store and iTunes stores... on a Blackberry it is up to the telco whether you get App World at all.

In any case, RIM should play to their own strengths, not Apples. RIM groks business the same way Apple groks consumers. (But of course business users are also consumers, while this 'should' give Apple a big advantage breaking into the corporate market, they consistently fail to capitalise on it. I think the difference is they have to fight for the corporate space, whereas in the consumer space everyone else is falling over themselves competing to make the cheapest (read as: least profitable, also in the sense of 'nasty'), ugliest and hardest to use devices).

RIM has their own eco-system in the corporate space, mainly revolving around the BES (Blackberry Enterprise Server)... but what does that do? It encrypts your email and pushes it to you (via Canada). But is that really such a big deal now?

They have a plethora of device models, with differentiation based on presence or absence of things like GPS, trackballs and cameras, and also how wide you want your keyboard to be. I'm not convinced that having so many options is helpful, but they seem to have a hard time deprecating the old ones.

Lately they have been making inroads with the teenage market in the UK because they have a cheap alternative to SMS (one advantage of running your own server infrastructure I guess). But I wonder how many of those teens also carry iPods?

It is easy to look at a Blackberry and say something like "oh, this is why they're failing, their camera is bad and the browser is worse". But that is overly simplistic. When comparing the iPhone to other smartphones, the iPhone has two killer features: ecosystem and ease of use. You may put out a phone that physically has all the features of an iPhone, but you get an extra 10% megapixels... and the world is not going to beat a path to your door.

7 points by elvirs 7 days ago 2 replies      
Thats why even years later they tried to replicate iPhone and failed (see Blackberry Storm)
1 point by ankimal 7 days ago 0 replies      
Thank God for the spirit of innovation and the never say die attitude.
-2 points by guelo 7 days ago 3 replies      
I don't know what the point of this article is except as some kind of Apple gloat. As far as I know everyone was blown away by the 2007 announcement, the event was a worldwide shock, it would be news if a competitor hadn't reacted strongly. Techies such as everyone here went into straight nerdgasm, the media went gaga, consumers went into gotta-have-it mode, and the entire rest of the industry went into shock and then desperate reactionary mode.

The announcement was a historical event in computing and consumer electronics. But it is ancient history, 4 years ago, what's the point of this now?

Why We Desperately Need a New (and Better) Google techcrunch.com
214 points by vyrotek 2 days ago   184 comments top 24
72 points by danilocampos 2 days ago replies      
An obvious improvement to Google whose absence shocks the hell out of me would be this:

Personal domain blacklist.

There's a lot of spammy bullshit on the web and Google seems to have given up on keeping this away from me. Fine. But for my specific searches, there's usually a handful of offenders who, if I never, ever saw them again, it would improve my search experience by an order of magnitude.

So let me personalize search by blacklisting these clowns. Why can't I filter my search results so that when I search for a programming issue, I never see these assholes from "Efreedom" who scrape and republish Stack Overflow?

I don't, personally, need an algorithmic solution to spam. Just let me define spam for my personal searches and, for me, the problem is mostly solved.

(Also blacklisted: Yahoo Answers, Experts Exchange.)

31 points by cletus 2 days ago 4 replies      
This issue in a roundabout kind of way touches on Facebook.

The issue of social search has a lot of mindshare. Some think it is the future of search. I disagree.

One of the things that made search successful anduseful early on was scale. Instead of having to go to the librar or ask your friends you can effectively canvas the connected world.

I find the notion that friends' recommendations will replace that as nothing short of bizarre. It's like a huge step backwards. The argument is that you can filter out the garbage as your social graph will provide a level of curation.

Let me give you a concrete example. If I wanted t buy a camera I'd stil need t go to dpreview and other sites. It's highly likely that my friends don't really know a lot about this (but some will have an opinion anyway).

This same idea of human curation is behind such sites ad Mahalo and the garbage sites themselves to a degree. Of course at some point computers will be powerful enough to generate this garbage content.

Blekko's idea of slash tags s interesting (to a degree) but if it's successful its easily reproducible. Google is still in the box seat here but of course that's no barrier to a link-baiting TC title.

Personally I'm an optimist. I believe that, much like email spam, the garbage from AC, DM and others I'd a transitional problem (email spam is basically a solved problem now if you use a half-decent email provider). If they succeed we won't be able to find anything. I don't believe that'll happen so these services are therefore doomed.

So betting on Demand Media is (to quote Tyler) like betting on the Mayans (meaning betting they're right about the world ending in 2012: it doesnt really matter if you're right).

So my money is on Google being the better Google.

40 points by Matt_Cutts 2 days ago 5 replies      
"Google does provide an option to search within a date range, but these are the dates when website was indexed rather than created; which means the results are practically useless."

I believe the author is mistaken on this point. Quick proof is to do a search for [matt cutts] and you'll see the root page of my blog. Click "More search tools" on the left and click the "Past week" link. Now you'll only see pages created the last week, even though lots of pages on my site were indexed in the last week.

20 points by DanielBMarkham 2 days ago 3 replies      
This is exactly what blogger Paul Kedrosky found when trying to buy a dishwasher. He wrote about how he began Googleing for information…and Googleing…and Googleing. He couldn't make head or tail of the results. Paul concluded that the “the entire web is spam when it comes to major appliance reviews”.

So I happen to know somebody who is taking a small section of the home appliance market and creating content around it -- reviews, news, advice, a place for other consumers to talk to each other.

Of course to do this you need to have income, so they are going to use some sort of ad-supported model.

My question is very simple: is their project a spam site or not? To some, I guess it would qualify. To others, not.

You see, there are two questions when it comes to search results: 1) Am I being presented results that match the query I entered? and 2) Am I being presented results that match what I want to know?

These are two entirely different things. A third-grader looking for information on a movie star might find a games page with all sorts of information on that star -- all sponsored by some kind of adsensey stuff. And he's very happy. A researcher typing in the same question gets the same page? He's pissed.

There is no universal answer for any one question. It's all dependent on the culture, education, and intent of the user -- all of which are not easily communicated to a search engine.

Look -- this is a real problem. I hate it. Sucks to go to pages you don't like. All I'm saying is that it's more complicated than "we need a new Google" Finding what you want exactly when you want it is a difficult and non-trivial problem. We just got lucky in that Google found a simple algorithm that can be helpful in some situations. It may be that we're seeing the natural end of the usefulness of that algorithm.


20 points by replicatorblog 2 days ago replies      
It will be interesting to see how this impacts the Android/iOS battle. Search revenue funds almost all of Google's other activities so if people start using other search engines or find alternate ways to get their content it could impact the level they can spend on phones.

With a push to a mobile first world the Android model is especially sensitive to spam. On a full size browser you have a lot more context and results for a given search. 5 Results may be spam, but you can work around them. If the average phone screen shows 3-5 results and all of them are spam you will quickly find alternate tools.

Google ignoring spam is like Microsoft ignoring the cloud.

33 points by klbarry 2 days ago 3 replies      
Isn't the issue, of course, that spammers have no incentive to game other search engines since they're not worth the time? Any search engine that gets big will have the problem.
4 points by tokenadult 2 days ago 1 reply      
Let me see if I correctly understand the learned professor's article. In his view, the problem is that a user using a free search engine to find information will find a lot of information about people who want to sell products and services, gaining money by exerting their time and effort. What he hopes to obtain for free is email addresses of persons to whom he wants to send his survey, so that he can use their time and effort without compensating them to produce something of value to him. Exactly how is this a problem?

People who actively like to be contacted by random persons surfing the Internet make their contact information readily available (and answer questions sent through those publicly visible contact channels). But to many other persons, not being readily visible on the Internet is a feature rather than a bug. (Disclaimer: my contact information is readily visible on the Internet, so readily visible that it has been used by point-of-view pushers on Wikipedia to give me harassing telephone calls.)

3 points by buro9 2 days ago 1 reply      
I love Google products, but I can't help but agree. I'm currently trying to find a colour laser printer that has good performance (quality vs speed) with a reasonable running cost over the life of the printer (at least a few years).

All I'm getting is either the manufacturers slant (PR) or spam sites all harvesting the same reviews.

To solve this I now look for vertical based search sites. In this case http://www.printershowcase.com/small-officecolorlaser.aspx is the best I've found... but it's hardly to printers what dpreview is to cameras.

I stick with Google because it largely works well, but when I know what I want to see and that it must exist but cannot find it... then I find myself looking elsewhere all the time. DDG and Blekko I use in these cases, but even they're not solving these kinds of needs.

11 points by JusticeJones 2 days ago 1 reply      
Tell me, how exactly is writing a sensationalized article that targets one of the Internet's oldest and largest communities to get fed by CPM advertising any different than what they decry? People have said this time and time again, but they never seem to debut let alone promise any sort of technology to address the issue. They just leave that end of the deal up in the air. As if to say that it's o.k. to spin topics as long as they strike a social nerve, but those who're less graceful at the craft are undeserving of the benefits which they themselves reap.

If the search giants had any balls they'd cut the "Internet Marketing" community off at the knees. Because the money making methods pushed by that community either don't work or are unsustainable, so they're entirely reliant on a steady stream of new recruits. If they want to promote gaming your system don't let them reap any benefits from it.

3 points by d4nt 2 days ago 0 replies      
It's interesting that the way of "gaming" Google appears to be in having thousands of people generating SEO friendly content. I think Google's problem is that it's pushed SEO to the point where the definition of Spam depends either on a subjective view of what kind of site the user is looking for, or it's just mildly worse than something else that's out there (e.g. When I search for something coding related and get one of the stackoverflow scrapers).

Where do we go from here? Well, I don't think the answer is just a radically new way of indexing/ranking websites. That might work in the short term but the spammers will soon catch up. The answer probably lies in a combination of better language interpretation, context sensitivity using browsing history and location, and user profiling based on the social graph and search history. All of which google seems to be working on.

13 points by petervandijck 2 days ago 3 replies      
The argument being that Google is loosing the war against spam. A new and better Google will likely be Google itself. What we really need is a way to discover content that's not search.
3 points by ams6110 2 days ago 2 replies      
Why would it be so difficult for Google to filter out spam sites? E.g. DuckDuckGo filters out eHow.com results, because they are low quality and tend to be spammy.

Oh of course, it's not in Google's interest to do this, because they make money from the spam sites. So I don't expect Google to really "solve" this problem.... their trick is to stay useful enough that users don't abandon them, but allow enough spam into the search results to provide revenue. A tricky balance...

3 points by didip 2 days ago 0 replies      
I just created a blekko account after reading this article (good job TC! It works this time.)

They seriously need to hire a capable UX person. The logged-in interface is full of problems:

* Twitter-like status update. I believe this has nothing to do with search.

* Form with 10+ fields on creating a slashtag. You cannot possibly expect me to enter all domain names I could think of into that tiny <textarea>?

* I finally created /python but I have no idea how to improve or update the slashtag. I cannot update that slashtag from search results page.

Overall, very frustrating experience.

2 points by jrussbowman 2 days ago 1 reply      
One of the new things I am working on with unscatter.com is getting quicker access to reviews and blog posts using the blekko api. The next release will be a major change as I've dumped most of the current search providers in favor of blekko and have moved realtime search to it's own page with analysis by providing lists of links in the realtime feed.

Nothing is released yet unfortunately. The site is officially a hobby for me write more but I hope to have the new stuff up in the next week or two. I may just hide the realtime stuff and get the blekko feeds up sooner rather than later.

Now that I am focusing building the site to fit my needs getting up to date info about products and technology, the bulk of my personal searches, is the top priority. Have to admit the blekko api has helped.

In the mean time I would suggest the slash tags /reviews and /blogs with /date on blekko would be very helpful if you are doing product searches. With unscatter I am really only providing shortcuts for the with additional ui tweaks.

Disclaimer: I am in no way associated with blekko other than having been given permission to use their api for a personal project.

3 points by meadhikari 2 days ago 0 replies      
Professor, you could've proved your point by linking to
at least one example of how Blekko found a founders
work and listed it by date (as the task required), instead
you have hashtags on health, finance, etc.
The truth is that nobody has arranged that information
in the way you want, if it existed at all, that venture
database where you found the 500 companies
would've been the natural place to look.. CrunchBase

Thought Worth mentioning

2 points by mark_l_watson 2 days ago 0 replies      
I just tried two test queries on blekko and google. Small sample, but there did seem to be less link-bate results on blekko. The issue is whether their results are close to being as up to date as google's results.

I was interested that blekko seems to have done a lot with a modest amount of funding.

Also, I wonder if they are getting some monetization with the association with Facebook.

3 points by apollo 2 days ago 0 replies      
This may be a bit of a tangent, but I want to see the results of the VC system survey.
2 points by stcredzero 2 days ago 1 reply      
He couldn't make head or tail of the results. Paul concluded that the “the entire web is spam when it comes to major appliance reviews”.

A simple solution to this: Consumer Reports. A subscription is well worth it! The likelihood that it will pay for itself in the next year is very high.

2 points by kmfrk 2 days ago 1 reply      
How does yegg deal with this on DuckDuckGo? A lot of us use his search engine, and it's a great one at that, which is not worth forgetting.
1 point by EGreg 2 days ago 0 replies      
Hey, so what you are basically saying is, "the best computer algorithms in the world" (you know, Google has like > 578690 Ph. D's) are not good enough to have effective search, so we should introduce the human element.

Fair enough. There is the Open Directory Project (which is pretty old) and of course there is Facebook, Twitter, and other, human-curated services. Starting a whole new company to do search and compete with Google (and Bing)? Seems like a waste of time as Google can just copy what you are doing and incorporate it into its already massive site (complete with traffic, audience, and lots of other goodies). Instead, why not get Google to add more social recommendation and feedback features?

1 point by DTrejo 2 days ago 0 replies      
http://duckduckgo.com/ works very well for me.

  - less spam
- programmer oriented results, when relevant
- more legible search results

3 points by kokon 2 days ago 0 replies      
CMIIW, but is that the reason why Google acquired MetaWeb a few months ago? I'm expecting to see some improvement on that front.
1 point by Dramatize 2 days ago 0 replies      
I'd like to have the option (like facebook has when you mouse over a post in your feed) to hide all results from X website.

If you tied that with the ability to follow other people and their search edits, the number of spammy results could be reduced.

1 point by oliverdamian 2 days ago 0 replies      
How about a P2P search/bookmarking platform where peers could publish search/bookmarking histories ranked by like/dislike/spam votes which other peers can subscribe to. Publishing peers can also be ranked according to number of subscribers. Actually P2P curation could be the next level up from raw centralised search. Is there anything like this out there already?
Paul Buchheit: Angel investing, my first three years paulbuchheit.blogspot.com
192 points by paul 15 hours ago   81 comments top 9
5 points by pg 8 hours ago 0 replies      
Actually I'd guess between a quarter and a third of the startups in the winter batch are local. And the median age of people we fund is around 26. So it must be just that the kind of people we fund aren't members of that group.
7 points by nod 14 hours ago 2 replies      
I'm surprised that the average investment is actually that small. (Yes, we've been hearing of this trend overall, but still, ~30 companies per million?) Is an average of < $38K all that companies want/need, or all that they will take?
4 points by johnrob 15 hours ago replies      
I find myself asking non-YC companies why they aren't yet in YC

Are there any legitimate excuses for a startup not to be in YC, other than rejection? I can't think of any (especially when you read http://paulgraham.com/equity.html).

4 points by CytokineStorm 12 hours ago 2 replies      
"A few companies (such as ScanScout) were acquired by other private companies, so I include those in the "still alive and doing well" category, since it was not an exit from the investor perspective (no liquidity)"

How common is it for investors not to get liquidity in this situation?

14 points by ctl 13 hours ago 1 reply      
It's ironic that YC membership might become exactly the kind of credential to investors that a college degree is to employers, given PG's distaste for such things. Makes me a little sad, actually.
11 points by elvirs 14 hours ago 0 replies      
Would be nice to hear what you have learned from those six companies two of which are dead and four are zombies.
4 points by zacharycohn 15 hours ago 1 reply      
Looking back, what are some warning signs that you can identify from some of your failed investments that you'll look for in the future?
2 points by ivankirigin 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Have you tried to estimate the value of the still active but illiquid startups?

Heroku was winter 08 not summer, btw

1 point by joshfraser 14 hours ago 1 reply      
This reminded me of the Ignite talk David Cohen (TechStars) gave on the math behind angel investing: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=54vmDhBImkw

These are GREAT returns when you remember that most angel investors lose money. But I'm not surprised Paul is doing well. It's obvious that his motives are in the right place and he's been hands-on with enough technology that he understands this stuff better than most. Paul is a huge asset to YC. This just goes to show (again) how lucky YC are to have him on their team.

Github 404 page github.com
184 points by config_yml 3 days ago   43 comments top 18
26 points by nanexcool 3 days ago 0 replies      
Octocat's name is Octobi Wan Catnobi (view source)
12 points by siddhant 3 days ago 3 replies      
The 404 page on Blippy is worth a mention too - http://blippy.com/404
24 points by config_yml 3 days ago 2 replies      
I love the github guys for their attention to detail, the 500 page is also worth seeing: https://github.com/500
5 points by substack 3 days ago 0 replies      
For extra fun, type this in the address bar while on the github 404 page:

    javascript:var theta = 0; setInterval(function () { theta += 0.05; parallax({ pageX : (Math.sin(theta) + 1) * 1000, pageY : (Math.cos(theta) + 1) * 1000}) }, 50)

33 points by danpker 3 days ago 1 reply      
Make sure you move your mouse over the image.
4 points by bootload 3 days ago 1 reply      
Reddit has/had a good 404 ~ http://www.flickr.com/photos/bootload/2835213914/in/set-7215... though I liked their general error report better ~ http://www.flickr.com/photos/bootload/98158858/in/set-721576... "sorry broke: looks like we shouldn't have stopped using lisp..."
6 points by eam 3 days ago 2 replies      
Their 503 https://github.com/503 collection of random github-approved youtube videos.
13 points by effkay 3 days ago 1 reply      
this is the most awesome thing i've seen in 2011 so far
1 point by aw3c2 3 days ago 1 reply      
All those creative error pages make me think that it might be a great "dear team, maybe you fancy hacking some funny or exciting non-related webdesign stuff in your free time. If you create something nice and want to, we can use it as our error page" motivation to have your programmers space out and hack as they like while still contributing to the project.
2 points by jrockway 3 days ago 0 replies      
So I tried moving my mouse left and right while closing my right and left eyes. Alternate fast enough and it really looks 3D!
2 points by kacy 3 days ago 0 replies      
This is so cool! Imagine the future of web based gaming where it detects your head movement (like the mouse). So close to 3D! :-)
1 point by savrajsingh 3 days ago 0 replies      
I thought it would present some ui allowing you to enter the code for the page. "page not found? This is github, so you write it. :)"
2 points by marcinw 3 days ago 1 reply      
Cute, but damn onmouseover on the iPad.... :(
1 point by meatsock 3 days ago 1 reply      
sorry this page doesn't seem to load for me.
2 points by aesacus 3 days ago 0 replies      
The 3d effect is achieved using JParallax
1 point by ianl 3 days ago 0 replies      
This made my day.
-3 points by landhar 3 days ago 0 replies      
The link seems broken, it didn't get me where I wanted.
-2 points by laughinghan 3 days ago 0 replies      
Am I the first person to go "Woah! That's cool!" then look at the code and instantly go "WTF?!"?

  - Browser sniffing using `document.all` to test for IE

- Browser sniffing at all!

- Aborting `trace` rather than just removing it

- In `init`, repeatedly calling `document.getElementById` with the same `id`
instead of storing them in variables

- Calling `document.getElementById` every time `parallax`, the `mousemove` event
handler, is triggered rather than `init` storing them *once* in variables that
`parallax` has access to

The No. 1 Habit of Highly Creative People zenhabits.net
181 points by evac 1 day ago   54 comments top 19
35 points by sudont 1 day ago replies      
Nope. The most effective habit of highly creative people is persistence, the ability to work and work and work while resisting burn-out.

The best graphic designers I've ever met would put in 8-10 hour days, then go home and work on their personal projects. It was effective, they all had at least 3 AIGA awards and about 10 HOW awards, each.

22 points by solipsist 1 day ago 0 replies      
The article left out the following quote of Albert Einstein:

I lived in solitude in the country and noticed how the monotony of a quiet life stimulates the creative mind

4 points by narrator 1 day ago 0 replies      
Unplugging and just staring at the wall for a couple of hours alone is good for creativity. It tends to lead to a good mental environment for "image streaming". "Image Streaming" is watching a movie in your mind made up of as many memories and things you can imagine pieced together, usually focused on a particular topic. It's basically a way to access the enormous power of the right-side of the brain.
2 points by iamwil 1 day ago 0 replies      
Actually, I've found that the "Top idea in mind" is how I do it, and figured someone would have mentioned it already.


I just never put a name into it, until I read that essay. When you mull over something in your mind all the time, you're bound to come up with something as you get more new pieces of information in your day to day life.

7 points by pmichaud 1 day ago 1 reply      
The habit is "solitude."
2 points by Stormbringer 1 day ago 0 replies      
I think solitude and deep thinking time are crucially important to programming. However, I have been becoming more and more aware that programming is also performance art (audience of our peers), by which I mean that programming is also a social activity.

In order to be appreciated, it must be shared.

2 points by dzuc 1 day ago 0 replies      
Might I recommend: David Bohm wrote a very accessible book on creativity--what it is, how it works, etc.


3 points by JoeAltmaier 1 day ago 0 replies      
Ok, maybe its not #1, but it is important.

Newton did his best work hiding out in his country house during Plague season.

Einsteid flourished in a Patent office - nobody bothered him much, he could spend all day thinking.

1 point by etal 18 hours ago 0 replies      
This is also called "flow" or being "in the zone" -- focusing on one thing, intensely, without interruptions. It's one more reason to lump programming in with the other creative arts.
2 points by mcnemesis 21 hours ago 0 replies      
to a good extent, creativity == (ability to generate alternatives && identify / pick out the best)

and i believe 'ability to generating alternatives' is one of the most important issue here, as often times, most / all existing solutions to a problem have failed or are poor, and it is then required of a 'creative' person to come up with alternatives - obviously the bonus is when the best is picked from these alternatives.

2 points by ramidarigaz 1 day ago 0 replies      
Really? I don't think so. Some of the coolest ideas I've ever had have come during discussions with friends. I'm most productive when I'm alone, but rarely do I have creative ideas by myself.
1 point by alexwestholm 1 day ago 0 replies      
The article notes that solitude should be balanced with participation and awareness of one's space. Upon reading that, I realized that's why sites like HN are so valuable to me: I get both without much hassle.
2 points by daimyoyo 1 day ago 0 replies      
I think the fact that most historically creative people were nite owls, and the fact they score better on iq tests (see http://www.psychologytoday.com/articles/200911/intelligence-...) could be linked to the solitude that inevitably happens when you're up late.
2 points by bettie03 1 day ago 0 replies      
It amazes me to no end how many people believe that all study stops after the completion of the prison sentence some call school.The TV, the Xbox, Playstations and chat rooms all become the new classroom. If you are not reading and attempting to expand your mind through the books of some of the worlds most gifted people, you should. The person that does not read is no better off than the person that can't read.
1 point by mbesto 1 day ago 0 replies      
I love this idea that somehow creative people are somehow "special"; I really like the articles preface of "Creativity is a nebulous, murky topic that fascinates me endlessly " how does it work? What habits to creative people do that makes them so successful at creativity?"

Here is a good interview with Craig Wynett ("Chief Creativity Officer") at P&G, in which he attempts to explain how they at P&G are trying to approach creativity from a scientific approach:


In my opinion, cognitive science will be a huge topic in marketing in the years to come.

1 point by dave1619 1 day ago 0 replies      
I resonate with the article. As I've grown in the practice of tranquil and contemplative solitude, my creativity has grown. "Creation comes from within, inspiration comes from without."
1 point by byteclub 17 hours ago 0 replies      
Or, to put it another way: meditation.
0 points by pier0 1 day ago 1 reply      
Stopped reading the article when I saw listed as a highly creative person the "actress best known for her awesome work in Buffy the Vampire Slayer".
2 points by gareth_at_work 1 day ago 0 replies      
creating != producing
Working hurts less than procrastinating, we fear the twinge of starting lesswrong.com
179 points by ab9 2 days ago   45 comments top 15
15 points by edw519 2 days ago 2 replies      
The best hack I ever learned to avoid the "pain of getting started" problem:

Never finish.

I always leave something easy, even trivial, undone when I knock off each day. So no matter what else I'm doing the next day, it's easy to change a format, add another data element, or change a few variable names. Then once I get going, it's much easier to keep going.

Things that don't work well with this method: debugging a nasty problem, reworking architecture, scaling, or major additions. Those are best left for later in the day.

28 points by te_platt 2 days ago 6 replies      
And all this time I just thought I was lazy.

Actually, this article made think about what the relationship is between being lazy and being a procrastinator. Once I get going I enjoy working and it feels so good to get things done. Still, I have the hardest time getting started. So what are the best methods to get going? It seems avoiding HN may be one of them.

12 points by angrycoder 2 days ago 0 replies      
After a day of procrastinating, you usually feel like shit. You are worried and stressed because now you have even more work to do. So by taking the day to 'relax', you have actually worsened your mental state.

After a day of working, assuming it was a productive day where you actually solved problems, you usually feel pretty damn good.

12 points by csomar 2 days ago 1 reply      
Success and happiness cause you to regain willpower

I discovered this a while ago and found a good hack for it. I created a fake index, and within this index, I listed companies. Each company means something: progress in work, proficiency in English, learning, reading, self-improvement...

The day opens at 10 A.M, when I wake up. The trade begins. If I work or make money, the index rise (one of the company indexes or more). If I procrastinate, I lower the index. This makes me uncomfortable, because I'm looking to grow the index and not actually lower it. So, I get back to work to get the index up or reduce loses.

Sometimes I'm very productive; I don't even check it out. I don't rise it a lot after that. But other times, I procrastinate a lot, so I return back to the index and drop it dramatically. I feel like I'm obliged to safe the situation, so I work to reduce the loses.

This also keeps me with all my goals, as I care about the global index and also companies indexes.

hint: You need to make this index a part of your life. That's necessary if you want that it forces you to work.

18 points by schm00 2 days ago 3 replies      
I learned a long time ago that I could cure the pain of procrastination by opening an editor and typing

  int main(int argc, char **argv) {

I still do this... just opening the appropriate program -- emacs, MS Word, whatever -- and typing a line that looks like it might actually be useful is enough to get me started doing real work, even when I have no idea how to complete the project (which was what was stopping me from starting in the first place).

1 point by mannicken 12 hours ago 0 replies      
I found that having certain rituals, like ingestion of certain substances (caffeine for programming, e.g.) or listening to certain music, or visiting certain forums before doing an activity pretty much removed procrastination from my life. With substances, I found (by accident) that placebo works just as well.

Of course, now I have to battle different drug addictions but that's a completely different story :)

4 points by wisty 2 days ago 1 reply      
Perhaps meditation is a good cure for this type of procrastination? It shouldn't take any effort to close your eyes for a few seconds, and "meditate" to regain your focus. Then, it's easier to decide what to do next.
3 points by nazgulnarsil 2 days ago 0 replies      
it's easier to pull yourself across activation costs than it is to push yourself across them.


4 points by Jabbles 2 days ago 0 replies      
A very interesting perspective. Now hurry up with HPMOR!
1 point by Jach 1 day ago 0 replies      
"Action precedes motivation."

Ludum Dare ( http://www.ludumdare.com ) is a great way to free yourself from some procrastination chains for a weekend. I typically start with a menu screen if I haven't gotten into the mood, since it's easy, it should be necessary, and it lets me digest my planned game some before I start on the main bits.

1 point by ntoshev 2 days ago 0 replies      
I think there is more than this: e.g. it's easier to procrastinate when you're tired and this theory doesn't account for it.

I wonder if RescueTime data contain really important insights on productivity. They should try to mine them, probably Netflix-prize style would work well.

2 points by taiyab 1 day ago 0 replies      
The funny thing is, this isn't just a problem in the developer community, it's across all creative fields (OK, it's not funny, you know what I mean :P).

I've always found that just starting with something very small to get into it always helps tons. I know it's a simple point, but it really does work wonders. Once you start, you'll just naturally progress and want to continue for a while longer.

1 point by tom_ilsinszki 2 days ago 0 replies      
I also fear, that I start working on a problem, give it my best and still fail. It's easier to explain why I failed if I've procrastinated.

I don't think that the pain of context switching explains procrastination fully...

3 points by codyguy 2 days ago 1 reply      
Interesting observation. I've observed many times it's just about opening the appropriate file/IDE and the rest takes care of itself.
1 point by sn 23 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm considering making a morning playlist of songs that get me motivated for when I wake up.
Zed Shaw: Why I Don't Use Tor sheddingbikes.com
177 points by nathanmarz 7 days ago   158 comments top 39
71 points by agl 7 days ago 4 replies      
(I rather suspect that Mr Shaw is trolling, but anyway.)

It's certainly true that humans have all manner of interesting behaviors owing to the fact that we're smart apes with huge numbers of survival heuristics. I would pause before taking a sandwich from Hitler, because I'm human, but it's not pertinent to the question of whether the sandwich is any good. (Except in as far as you think it more or less likely that the sandwich is poisoned etc.)

So I find the whole first half of the text to be a flabby way of saying that the arguments of dishonest people need to be evaluated more critically than those of honest people. But I find that the arguments of honest people need to be critically evaluated too. I think that the authors of Haystack were honest, but their assertions turned out to be dangerously wrong. (Which, by the way, we know thanks to Mr Appelbaum.) So, as a guide, the motives of the author don't seem to be very useful to me.

Then, in the second half, we find a mixture of arguments that I find valid, and many that I don't. A sense of vertigo at the amount of trust that we have to put into software is justified. It is possible to hide major bugs in code and we're standing on a stack of hardware, kernel, and userland which is incomprehensible to any one person these days.

It's also true that there are some fairly effective attacks against Tor for the capable opponent. It's a real-time mix-net, with all the tradeoffs implied and it generates a lot of research. I recommend reading some papers of the papers, I find them often to be very good.

But accusing the Tor people of being NSA agents because they once got funding from the navy doesn't hold water. The Internet was an ARPA funded project. Military spending has subsidised much of the modern world.

Many people have read through Tor's source and evaluated the protocol etc. Of course, all those people could be NSA agents too, publishing fake papers. You could, in fact, be in The Matrix. But you probably aren't.

Some, likely massively exaggerated, secret project might be monitoring every ISP on the planet and thus able to break any real-time mix net, but they probably aren't.

Likewise, all the Tor node operators that I have met might all be NSA plants, but they probably aren't.

And finally the author picks out Mr Appelbaum for special criticism because he connects him with Wikileaks. I think his assertion that the goals of Tor and Wikileaks are in conflict is wrong, but we could go around all day trying to pin down the goals of Wikileaks so that's probably not fruitful. But it does seem ironic that the author voices support for Wikileaks right after asserting that such supporters are not to be trusted.

So, while the stack of software is, indeed, large, Tor remains a reasonable tool to use. If the author is so concerned with the human aspect, the Tor authors are make regular appearances at conferences and are wonderful people to meet. So do, and are, node operators in my experience.

Also, on top of Tor, there's a fair chance that the author is using a browser who's network and SSL stack I've had a hand in. And who knows what kind of person he's taking a sandwich from now?

63 points by poet 7 days ago 5 replies      
It's shit like this Zed...

Two basic claims: Tor is tainted because (1) the concepts the software is based on were developed with partial funding from the military and (2) Zed thinks one of the committers is untrustworthy. Guess what? That describes a huge amount of software, including Mac OS X and Firefox. God damn Zed, this Hitler sandwich shit is pretty weak.

Zed also has a problem with Tor because he thinks there is a "gigantic percentage of hackers and security experts on the volunteer payroll of a group who's job is to illegally wiretap people and circumvent the law on behalf of the government". He thinks some of these people work on Tor and thus Tor is untrustworthy. Funny though, his ISP is likely guilty of the same thing. I wonder if Zed takes that into account as a part of his paranoid fantasy.

There are serious problems with using Tor and Zed fails to mention any of them. You'll want to read what Thomas has to say on the subject (http://searchyc.com/tptacek). Specifically, Thomas mentions that a general problem with tools like Tor is that it identifies your traffic as a subset of all traffic thats probably worth monitoring. You're essentially adding bright red neon signs to your most sensitive traffic. The amount of traffic going through the Tor network is small enough that it is a tractable problem for a nation state to attempt to monitor all of it. Thomas also goes into how the incentive structure for these tools is completely broken. The defenders are academic researchers going for tenure, the attackers are nation states with millions of dollars to spend, and the users are dissidents that get killed when the tool fails. Unfortunately, arguments with this level of nuance appear to escape Zed in this case. I fear he doesn't have the domain knowledge to write something intelligent about this issue.

29 points by dublinclontarf 7 days ago replies      
As someone living on the other side of the Great Firewall of China it's become VERY clear that a government can effectively censor the internet(without VPN to get out it's terrible), provided that the government in question put enough effort into it.

As I said in another comment, the Chinese government has beaten Tor. You can't download it or even read about it(almost everything Tor related is blocked). Even when you have it you can't connect, as all bridge IPs are blocked the moment the gov discovers them.

It's slow as hell to boot and on top of this the Chinese government is still able to monitor those who can connect with traffic analysis(a Tor weakness).

I'm something of a lazy cipherpunk and had hoped that most services and sites would have moved onto darknets like i2p by now. But sadly this is not the case, however it is the place where we finally need to go.

TLDR: I don't use Tor because it don't work, plain and simple. Never mind the insecurity mentioned by Zed, and no one here is talking about this.

36 points by alanh 7 days ago 3 replies      
“@zedshaw If you don't trust Tor because of me, you clearly do not understand how Tor works. You can BadExit my nodes buddy.”

Appelbaum, https://twitter.com/#!/ioerror/status/19703396818747392

12 points by mcantelon 6 days ago 0 replies      
>The problem is that Tor's pedigree is less than stellar. First, it was originally a US Navy project then released to various "hackers" (a word which in a lot of ways is just synonymous with "NSA collaborator" or at least a wannabe). Whether the source code started there or just the idea, you have to ask why the hell the Navy would work on this and then release it.

Goodness me! We should also be examining that DARPA developed honeypot called Teh Internets and take a second look at that ominous collaborator Sir Tim Berners-Lee.

Once I got to Zed quoting Project Vigilant's volunteer count I had to laugh. Zed's bullshit detector needs a tune-up.

20 points by drats 7 days ago 4 replies      
Ad Hominems are a-ok now are they? Well here's Zed's thought process:

a) Read Greenwald Salon article accusing Wired of having shady connections.

b) Roll that basic premise into a set of wild accusations and things we already know about Tor.

c) Sit back and enjoy the whole chaos of the troll. When someone attacks bring out the usual sockpuppets and sycophants to say "but Zed does all this great coding", "Zed is not like that in real life/conferences".

d) Profit/save on therapist fees by feeding own teenager-like angst and need for attention.

9 points by redthrowaway 7 days ago 2 replies      
It's an interesting question. If Project Vigilant had compromised Tor, I'd expect there to be quite a few pedophiles who had used it to share cp getting busted. I'm not aware of any such incidents, let alone many. I imagine that the government wouldn't want to give away that they had it compromised, and so would simply use the information to compose a list of people to watch for slip ups, but one would expect to see a rise in the number of arrests, which would likely get at least some play in the MSM.

Conversely, if the NSA had compromised it one would expect to see no outward signs, as they a) don't care about pedophiles, b) would claim "national security" to hide the means of tracking terror suspects from the public's eye, and c) likely wouldn't tell anyone when they did apprehend someone.

I think it's probably pretty likely that the NSA is running a few nodes, but that's the risk you take wit something like Tor, just as bittorrent seeders risk riaa proxies downloading from them.

20 points by bjonathan 7 days ago 2 replies      
Full twitter conversation between @zedshaw and @ioerror: http://nearmetter.com/ioerror/zedshaw

(I'm in no way affiliate to NearMetter, it's just the best way I found to easily read a twitter conversation)

11 points by Flankk 7 days ago 0 replies      
It doesn't matter that Tor was originally a US Navy project. Tor is open source. DARPA created the internet. Do you think the internet is a conspiracy by the US government to wiretap American citizens too?

Tor is used in China to access censored data. Tor is used to send encrypted data anonymously from oppressive countries. Both of these things align perfectly with the honest motives of Wikileaks.

Step outside your world Zed. Some people have a real need for projects like Tor.

3 points by neild 6 days ago 0 replies      
The problem with Tor, as I see it, is that it can easily make you more vulnerable rather than less so.

When I access some random website from home, my traffic is vulnerable to capture and analysis by my ISP, the intervening backbones, and the website that I am accessing. I don't trust my ISP and the backbone providers not to examine my traffic, but I do have quite a bit of confidence that they don't care about me. I'm not very interesting.

If I use Tor, I add another party who can capture and examine my traffic: The Tor exit node.

I most emphatically do not trust random Tor exit nodes not to examine my traffic. I'm quite confident that the NSA and other government organizations run their own Tor exit nodes--after all, a stream of traffic generated by people who are interested in hiding their activities is likely to be quite interesting.

I can encrypt my traffic...but not all of it, and do I really want to trust that everything important is properly encrypted?

If I had something to hide, I'd do so by blending into the crowd, not by slapping a big "I'm trying to hide" label on my traffic and sending it to the people most likely to be interested in it.

10 points by jasonwatkinspdx 7 days ago 1 reply      
It's somewhat informative to compare Zed's response to personal criticisms vs those he targets with his own criticisms. Follow the chain of twitter replies and make up your own mind.
4 points by trotsky 7 days ago 0 replies      
Regardless of his reasons, I think the result of not trusting tor is warranted, at least for most of the traditional reasons one might seek out tor.

The EFF themselves present many of the problems: http://www.torproject.org/download/download.html.en#warning

On top of that, the EFF has demonstrated that they are worried (reasonably) about the trust given to the global CA structure: http://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2010/03/researchers-reveal-like...

In terms of protecting your anonymity, even when correctly managing cookies you may be uniquely identifiable by browser fingerprinting: https://panopticlick.eff.org/

At least the last time I looked, the network appeared quite thin, with much of your traffic by default traveling through a small collection (perhaps as low as one) of exit nodes.

TOR also represents a juicy target for eavesdropping by its nature as a concentrator for people trying to avoid it. If you were a burglar, it would make sense to stay the hell away from a place the cops had identified as a hotbed of burglary since they'll probably be concentrating their efforts there.

And, of course, there is the issue that it's been used in the past to publicly out users traffic: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2007/09/10/misuse_of_tor_led_to...

Most of these things apply to other possible solutions, but at least there you may get the advantage of most users of those services "having nothing to hide" making them not as juicy a target.

If I was super, super concerned about my privacy and anonymity when sending a specific few documents or such, I'd most likely take a page out of the black hat handbook and compromise a few lightly administered servers and use a not commonly used covert channel.

5 points by Lagged2Death 6 days ago 1 reply      
"Wikileak's job is to take people's secrets and show them and who's hiding them to the world."

Here we see the again the conflation of organizations and individuals in an opinion piece connected to Wikileaks. Why does this happen so regularly?

I don't know anything about Appelbaum, but it's perfectly possible that he believes in personal privacy and institutional transparency, a not particularly radical, surprising, or unusual stance which would resolve this "conflict of interest" perfectly.

7 points by g_lined 7 days ago 0 replies      
This, to me, sounds like a classic case of not knowing what you're protecting against. TOR hides your IP address by preventing the destination server ever needing to do a TCP/IP handshake. There is no way to complete a TCP/IP handshake without you revealing your IP address. TOR then also stops the server you /do/ handshake with knowing the destination of your packet.

This is all TOR is supposed to do. This allows you to be anonymous to the receiving end, but it does not guarantee it. It is your responsibility to surf safely, to sanitise your traffic, to encrypt your traffic and do the rest. We know that most people can be uniquely differentiated by combining all the available information from their browsers (some of which doesn't need javascript) http://panopticlick.eff.org/ . Therefore we know, using TOR or not, that we need to be careful to do things well when we want to be anonymous.

There is little in this article which makes me worried about TOR. TOR isn't the problem, if any of this is true, then the problem is the government collecting data in various ways. Whether you agree with this is a matter for yourself to consider and not a reason to avoid using TOR.

2 points by dkarl 6 days ago 0 replies      
Funny, I think in terms of my "informational immune system" all the time, and the one time I used it here I got downvoted into oblivion (though it looks like I recovered a bit!): http://news.ycombinator.org/item?id=2006412

Geeks are opposed to certain sources of knowledge, probably because they see themselves as on the receiving end of bad assumptions based on their clothes and mannerisms, and I agree with them that it's always best to avoid subjective judgments when possible. However, there are so many situations in life where you can't audit the source code yourself, and when there's serious risk, you have to make use of the information you have. You can't investigate the provenance of the cheese sandwich, and even if you could, do you really want to spend your whole life playing Sherlock Holmes? I'm thankful for open source and the people who read code, but I am not going to read the source code of every damn piece of software I use. Sometimes I'm just going to say, "The only source for this software is a shareware site in a country I've never heard of, and it claims to come bundled with porn, so I do not feel comfortable installing it on my Windows PC no matter how good some guy on 4chan says it is." Nothing against porn or countries I've never heard of, but my Spidey sense is tingling.

21 points by tonfa 7 days ago 1 reply      
Wikileaks is supposed to ensure anonymity to leakers, so I don't see how contributing to both projects is contradictory...
16 points by kungfooguru 7 days ago 0 replies      
"I haven't once seen you answer the claims I made."

Woo, Zed is the new Glenn Beck.

2 points by noonespecial 6 days ago 0 replies      
It's important to remember that TOR is an anonymizer not an encryption scheme. It hides who you are not what you say. Think of it as using Hitlers wifi while you eat that sandwich.
4 points by limmeau 7 days ago 1 reply      
So why use OpenSSL, then? It's been written by people I don't know. Some of them may be Vigilants. Some of them may be secret members of the Wikileaks team. One of them even studied only 12km from the BND headquarters. It has had exploitable holes before.
3 points by JonnieCache 7 days ago 0 replies      
Tor is not exactly an ideal solution to the problem of privacy, as zed has pointed out. It is however a great solution to the closely related problems of anonymity and legal deniability.

If you're running an international criminal network I imagine it's ideal.

8 points by comice 7 days ago 2 replies      
Remember that Zed Shaw was "a top qualified soldier in the US Army". Maybe Zed is a bad actor in the pay of the US Army and this article is an attempt to discredit Tor for their benefit! ;)
5 points by trustfundbaby 7 days ago 0 replies      
Great ... I'm going to have to stop using the internet now, since it came from a United States Department of Defense project.
2 points by rincewind 7 days ago 0 replies      
I have heard that China runs lots of nodes in order to a) spy on people who want to hide from the chinese government and b) spy on foreigners and c) make life harder for western intelligence agencies.
Maybe every secret police or spy organization runs exit nodes and you just have to use those from a government that has no interest in you.
1 point by yardie 7 days ago 1 reply      
OMG! The government created something useful therefore it can only, fundamentally, be a trojan horse. While I'm sure there could be some crackers out there trying to insert bad code. I also believe these things tend not to stick around for long. Especially when blame says "Hey, I've inserted code here, here and here. Try not to read me too closely."

I've tried Tor in the past and I stopped because:

* It's really slow.

* It's the chatroulette of really questionnable material. You stumble into some shit and think WTF?!

* The amount of traffic it generated caused my shitty router to slow down significantly or crash completely.

6 points by Raphael 7 days ago 1 reply      
So what does he use that's better than Tor?
2 points by samuel 7 days ago 0 replies      
Huh? Where's the conflict between Wikileaks and Tor? Wikileaks publishes goverment's secrets. Goverments sniff(presumably) citizens' communications, both content and session data. Tor helps citizens to leak those secrets hiding their session data.

Where is the conflict?

2 points by krosaen 7 days ago 0 replies      
track the follow up twitter bickering between Zed and Appelbaum: http://bettween.com/ioerror/zedshaw/Dec-21-2010/Dec-28-2010/...
1 point by iuguy 6 days ago 0 replies      
Am I wrong in taking the cheese sandwich from Hitler if it's a very good cheese sandwich? After all, I'm writing this on a Mac, a platform owned by a company that has interesting views on what people should and shouldn't be able to do with their own kit. I buy Windows from Microsoft (which according to many Usenet postings is clearly the closest thing to accepting a cheese sandwich from Hitler, especially in the Linux groups).

I think Zed's fallen wide of the mark here. He's failed to address the technical failings with Tor, instead opting to launch his own ad hominem attack on Jacob Applebaum (who's done more than just work on Tor and Wikileaks) and the history of the project as a US Navy tool.

If he has such a problem with Tor then it's worth auditing the code and seeing for yourself. It's not perfect, but Tor has it's uses. If you really need the kind of anonymity to protect something life threatening then don't use Tor (due to it's failings in the cheese sandwich quality department, not because of it's history or contributors).

3 points by fbcocq 7 days ago 0 replies      
It's reasonable to assume that if Hitler wanted you to die, he wouldn't poison you with a sandwitch and risk being called a woman behind his back.

Anyway, motivations do not matter one bit when it comes to evaluating whom to trust with your data, if it's not safe by design then it's not safe period.

0 points by ajays 6 days ago 0 replies      
I, for one, would like to point out to Mr. Shaw (and others) that the Swastika is a religious symbol to a lot of people ; maybe even 20% of all humanity (the Hindus, for one).

Just because the Swastika was co-opted by Hitler and his cronies means nothing to most people outside the western world (which is in a minority).

Secondly (while I have this soapbox): whether you take the sandwich from Hitler or not depends on whether Hitler is your "Der Fuhrer" or not (remember, he's long dead, so time travel is involved in Mr. Shaw's hypotheticals). If Hitler is your Fuhrer, then you _better_ take that sammich and eat it if he offers it to you! :-D

4 points by JulianMorrison 7 days ago 0 replies      
I'd eat the sandwich.
1 point by Tichy 7 days ago 1 reply      
I didn't understand the part where Wikileaks and Tor are supposed to have different goals. I thought the point of Wikileaks was to publish information anonymously - surely Tor would be suitable to help with that (Tor as it is supposed to work)?

I must admit that I am simply too chicken to use Tor. In Germany I think it can actually get you in trouble if some pedophile exits through your node.

Also last I checked, there really were some issues with the security model. That was quite a long time ago, not sure if they have been fixed now.

1 point by wazoox 7 days ago 1 reply      
> P.S. I have a long bet that SELinux is an NSA backdoor. Any takers?

I don't know if it's an NSA backdoor, but there were several security alerts related to SELinux. I don't understand why all common distros use this. I don't, I compile my kernels from unpatched vanilla source.

2 points by comice 7 days ago 0 replies      
Even if the meandering list of risks Zed documents are serious and cannot be mitigated, Tor still is useful for all kinds of situations.

This article isn't that useful without knowing the nature of what Zed doesn't use Tor for.

1 point by mfukar 6 days ago 0 replies      
I find the fact that mr shaw chose today (see 27c3) to voice his "concerns" further adds to the amusement of his endeavour.
2 points by pulpfiction 7 days ago 1 reply      
Well, Mr. Zed Shaw is trolling. No doubt about that.

I wonder how he makes the conspiracy theories about NSA when Tor is open source? He is free to investigate the source code for 'backdoors'.

Such conspiracy theories and trolling are nothing but desperate attempts for attention.

0 points by kungfooguru 7 days ago 1 reply      
Haha, oh, Zed. Pretty sure the military STILL uses Tor. Oh no! What could the Navy or army have use for a tool that protects them from surveillance?! Oh right, everything...

It was all fun and games when Zed was talking shit about Ruby but he's jumped the shark. It was bad enough when he freaked out because someone was converting his books code to Ruby from Python. Free code but not free book?

1 point by ra 7 days ago 0 replies      
What are the alternatives?
0 points by ahn 6 days ago 0 replies      
Not even a good troll. He didn't even mention that arma was at NSA.
The Oatmeal (online cartoon) earns ~$1000/day economist.com
177 points by arn 6 days ago   66 comments top 13
15 points by mmaunder 5 days ago 1 reply      
Sure he's rubbed a few folks the wrong way but he's a satirist. That's his job.

I've worked with Matthew in the past and he's a good guy who conducts himself professionally. He's also worked his ass off to get where he is and the economist article is a huge coup for his career. You turkeys should be congratulating him.

26 points by ugh 6 days ago 4 replies      
That's revenue from merchandise sale. What are the margins on that?
8 points by vaksel 5 days ago 5 replies      
from what I understand the majority of his traffic came from gaming reddit, which recently turned on him after he did something (don't quote me, but I think it had something to do with cursing someone out who got tired of waiting for a book).
19 points by erikpukinskis 5 days ago 1 reply      
$1000/day is revenue, not earnings, FWIW.
10 points by richcollins 5 days ago 2 replies      
Matt also co-founded SEOMoz and Mingle2, which was acquired: http://0at.org/
5 points by michaelbuckbee 5 days ago 2 replies      
Matt gave a very entertaining Ignite talk that goes into some of his reasoning and marketing decisions behind his work: http://theoatmeal.com/blog/ignite_video
7 points by superduper 5 days ago 2 replies      
My problem, if it really is one, with The Oatmeal, is that he isn't creating comics as an art or for entertainment. He creates comics that he knows will be linked to and drive up page views. A great example of this is his recent Christmas comic, where he portrays 30-somthings without kids having horrible holidays, which resulted in a fair amount of 30-year-olds getting mad and linking to his site when explaining why it pissed them off.
5 points by stcredzero 5 days ago 3 replies      
Depressing to me, because I find most of the content there to be, "clever only to people of pedestrian intelligence." Then again, perhaps this is just savvy marketing.
1 point by InfinityX0 5 days ago 1 reply      
It might surprise you that Inman actually makes a lot of his money from SEO. From what I've heard from people close to him, The Oatmeal business is still a relatively small portion of his income, as compared to the intelligence he has to use his viral marketing ability to promote websites that actually create large revenue streams through organic traffic.

I'm sure Oatmeal is his "pet project", the one he loves doing - but the SEO part is the one that pays the bills. It seems, of course, that he could monetize Oatmeal a little better without coming off as a blowhard, but I'm not close enough to the situation to say.

2 points by hristov 5 days ago 0 replies      
So he is not funny, not clever and has absolutely no artistic talent. Seems like someone the mainstream media can really get behind.
5 points by zackola 5 days ago 0 replies      
Good for him. Seems like he's working hard for it :)
1 point by Dramatize 5 days ago 0 replies      
That's funny, I was just looking at their advertising stats here: https://advertisers.federatedmedia.net/explore/view/theoatme...

According to that site they get around 27m page views per month.

1 point by zachahack 5 days ago 0 replies      
congrats, you magnificent bastard.
VimGolf.com - real Vim ninjas count every keystroke vimgolf.com
170 points by igrigorik 6 days ago   79 comments top 24
22 points by SwellJoe 6 days ago 1 reply      
Where are the solutions? That's the fun thing about Perl golf is seeing how people did it in X characters. Without solutions...well, I don't see the point.
4 points by Calamitous 6 days ago 1 reply      
This awesomeness unexpectedly sucked away half my afternoon. Not really sure whether to be upset about it our not. :)

Only thing is that the key counting doesn't seem to be consistent. :\ Using the command history seems to really, really screw with the counts. I thought it counted up all the characters in the submitted command, but this doesn't seem to be the case. I submitted an 18 for the "Sort and add attributes" challenge, then realized that the text for the new key is longer than that. :\

I'm not really clear on what "counts" as a keypress (shift key? colon for commands? Paste commands? Esc?) and I haven't been able to get any of my "scores" to match up with the count in my head.

All that aside, this is a barrel of fun, and I'm sure these kinks will get worked out.

12 points by luigi 6 days ago 2 replies      
I want to go head to head with someone in match play.
8 points by gfodor 6 days ago 2 replies      
The people submitting scores of 4 are probably just adding macros to their .vimrc
2 points by callahad 6 days ago 1 reply      
I held the title on "Brackets or Braces?" [0] for a good seven minutes with a 44 character solution [1], only to be ousted by @ryanmusicman with 42. Can anyone see an obvious way to improve mine?

[0]: http://vimgolf.com/challenges/4d1a522ea860b7447200010b

[1]: https://gist.github.com/757767

3 points by Bud 6 days ago 1 reply      
This is one of the most wonderfully geeky things I have ever seen. The analogy to golf is exceptionally well-drawn, too! It might be entertaining if you developed the parallel even more, perhaps by adapting some of The Rules of Golf to your project.
5 points by devin 6 days ago 4 replies      
I had an idea for an emacs version of this.

Anyone have any ideas on how you'd implement this with emacs?

2 points by jjcm 6 days ago 0 replies      
Looks like Tim Pope started playing. He's talking about the "anti cheat" mechanisms on twitter: http://twitter.com/tpope/status/19900265129836544
2 points by DEinspanjer 6 days ago 1 reply      
Ugh.. wanted to play with it, but after three years, there still isn't a simple way to get Ruby and Gems working nicely with modern Ruby apps on OSX. Searching for ways to update show a variety of hacks, each uglier than the last. Of course, I could always build it from source.. ::sigh::
1 point by jjcm 6 days ago 1 reply      
You should really make some challenges that require the users to pass multiple tests with the same script. Sure, you can solve the reformat/refactor challenge by


but it wont generalize anywhere. Having a full script though that will detect and do that automagically, now there's the fun part.

1 point by jjcm 6 days ago 0 replies      
Here's my Flodder Challenge (http://vimgolf.com/challenges/4d1a4f2ba860b744720000bf) solution:


(where ^] is an esc). Currently gets a score of 41 (although I only count 38 keystrokes...)

2 points by Symmetry 6 days ago 3 replies      
Lets see, for the simple text editing:
so 18.
2 points by meastham 6 days ago 0 replies      
Kinda a bummer for those of us who don't use twitter..

Edit: Still a very cool project though

2 points by DEinspanjer 6 days ago 1 reply      
This one gives a score of 32, but I like it just for the sheer one-liner obsfucatedness:


1 point by jjcm 6 days ago 2 replies      
FizzBuzz: (score: 71)

q98@aggjjqaA Fizz^]
qaA Buzz^]
5jq19@a:%s/z B/zB/

1 point by meastham 6 days ago 0 replies      
Is there anything to stop people form just writing a macro beforehand that does each task? I'm guessing that's how the guy who 4 keystrokes on Simple Text Editing accomplished that.
1 point by gfodor 6 days ago 0 replies      
Anyone else having problems signing in? I connected my twitter account but its still thinking I'm not logged in.
1 point by seles 6 days ago 1 reply      
You can also use Vi for hundreds of challenges at http://golf.shinh.org alot of the newer challenges are stale but some of the older ones are gold.
1 point by neilk 6 days ago 1 reply      
Unbelievable. I had this exact same idea. Get out of my mind!
2 points by exogen 6 days ago 0 replies      
Ha, I just started working on the same exact project a few weeks ago. Great minds think alike, I guess. I'm taking a different approach, so I'll still launch it to see what people think.

I brought up this idea in a "gamification of software development" talk I gave last April.

1 point by zacharycohn 6 days ago 1 reply      
Hey! You demo'd this to me at Beer && Code a few weeks ago. Good to see this has come along!
1 point by jh3 5 days ago 0 replies      
Only scored a 27 on the 'Reverse characters in a line' challenge...

I was trying to do this:


However, that causes a to be before b for some reason.

So I ended up doing:


Anyone know why appending j! joins everything correctly except a and b?

2 points by eterps 6 days ago 2 replies      
Any tips on improving 'Sort and add attributes'?

I have scored 38 with:

:sor<ENTER>:%s/)/, :country => "USA")/<ENTER>

1 point by clvv 6 days ago 1 reply      
Until somebody can come up with at least some method of restricting vim scripting, the results are useless(one can easily only use 4 key strokes by key mapping as you can see). But, on the other hand, you can't just disable vim from loading scripts, because there's no point in mastering the plain old vim without any plugins, custom key mappings and such.
Google Will Become an AI Company mattmaroon.com
170 points by cwan 21 hours ago   148 comments top 31
66 points by abstractbill 20 hours ago 2 replies      
I was very impressed when I found out Google was running a free 411 phone information service just so that they could gather a ton of data to train new voice-recognition algorithms. That's real long-term thinking, and definitely makes them an AI company in my book.
27 points by nowarninglabel 18 hours ago replies      
Did no one stop to think about this? It is extremely far-fetched at best.

>safety regulations could be greatly relaxed.

No, at least not if the author's vision of 200mph average speeds is to be taken. When a mistake or malfunction happens at that speed, safety mechanisms will be imperative. Furthermore, having a mechanical car does not prevent: someone else running into you, a deer running in front of the car, etc.

> children could own cars

But they wouldn't, because the purchase would still be in the name of the parent. Furthermore, do you see parents sticking their 6 year olds on the subway just because they can? No. A very few do it and get ostracized by society.

> 3. The beverage industry will go.

False assumptions without supporting data, but I have no facts to counteract it.

>4. Speed limits will be unnecessary

Oh really? So we won't need limits for the existing drivers who aren't using driverless vehicles? How will the 200mph traveling car navigate around all the 60mph traveling ones? Furthermore, is every car going to be programmed to go slow in pedestrian zones? How do you enforce that without speed limits? The current Google Car wasn't jetting 200mph down the 101, it was driving under the speed limit in residential neighborhoods.

> The map will shrink greatly.

No. Fuel costs and traffic don't just magically disappear because of your fantasy land.

> Urbanization will reverse. Why pay $3,000/month for a flat in Manhattan when you can get from 100 miles upstate to work in 30 minutes?

I will. Just because you can live outside the city and travel to it at a faster rate does not make it a given that one would choose to. Urbanization has been the greatest driving factor of population trends in the last century. If anything, if what is proposed came to pass, you would see increased urbanization of small towns/suburbs.

>Airlines will be devastated. Why fly from New York to Chicago?

No. It will still be faster to fly. Are you serious? I mean gee why fly from New York to London when I can take a speed boat and have it take three days? I mean, seriously?

>9. Other forms of public transport won't fare much better. A driverless cab won't cost much more than a bus (which also will be driverless) but will be a hell of a lot nicer.

I'm sorry, I don't live in fantasy land where fuel costs suddenly become irrelevant. Fuel costs make up at least 16% of the overall cost. And there will still be a premium because people will be willing to pay it.

Yes, a driver less car will make someone a lot of money. Does this equate to the above points? No, the author's hypothesis has no basis in reality and no facts to back it up.

33 points by jonmc12 20 hours ago 2 replies      
Google has ALWAYS been an AI company. From the beginning, pagerank indexed information, made meaning out of this information, and could predict the most relevant url better than anything else in the market. Search was simply the first application.

AI is not a market - AI is a tool. Google is NOT poor at product development. However, it does seem that they have failed to build some products around AI tools (like Google Wave).

Sure Google (and others) will continue to make products by applying AI to market problems.. but they've been doing this their entire existence.

9 points by nihilocrat 18 hours ago 2 replies      
2. Children could own cars. Don't feel like schlepping your kid to soccer practice? Just buy them a car

6. ... Make my car driverless (freeing me up to watch TV, read a book, catch up on emails, etc.) and able to travel at twice the speed, and spend the entire trip at top speed (rather than slowing down and speeding up on the highway) and I could feasibly live as far as 100 mph away.

7. Urbanization will reverse. Why pay $3,000/month for a flat in Manhattan when you can get from 100 miles upstate to work in 30 minutes?

This is bascially an apocalyptic scenario in my mind. I hate what the automobile has done to US cities, making everything the same vanilla spread and causing the car to become necessary to participate in modern life. I'm sad this blogger doesn't even think twice about the advantages of public transit (see: 6.) or more clever urban planning to reduce travel distances.

I like his basic thesis but I'm horrified by this example he puts forth. We should be moving away from the car, not towards it.

16 points by DanielBMarkham 21 hours ago replies      
This is a great article. Every now and then Matt can really knock one out of the park.

Of all the tech that we talk about on here, there are only a few items that really catch my attention. Christmas tree machines are one of them. Auto-drive cars is the other.

These two inventions, when complete, will massively change things. Good luck guessing when they'll be complete, though. Could be a decade. Could be a couple of hundred years.

If cars could become more like rooms that automatically go places, instead of complex machines that require constant care and oversight, vast amounts of productivity and leisure opportunities would open up.

13 points by alextp 21 hours ago 2 replies      
What's the point of owning a driverless car? Apart from luxury/status, it should be far cheaper to rent one as you go, in the driverless cab fashion.

Also, I can't help but cringe inside when people act as if the only benefit of living in the city is less commute time. As far as my life goes, I'd trade more commute time to live inside an urban centre with all the facilities at a walkable distance plus all the nice benefits of density.

8 points by 100k 20 hours ago 4 replies      
Traffic is caused by human error? I suppose flooding is caused by "water error", then?

Traffic is caused by too many vehicles attempting to use a limited resource at the same time. Driverless cars may make this more tolerable (certainly riding the bus does) but the idea that this will make traffic obsolete is laughable.

6 points by andrewljohnson 18 hours ago 2 replies      
Saying Google is poor at product development is just trolling. List of well-designed, dominant Google products include:

* Search

* Gmail

* Docs

* Reader

* Images

* News

* Maps

If only other companies failed at product development so well...

6 points by Micand 18 hours ago 0 replies      
Brad Templeton delivered a superb talk on robotic cars at the Singularity Summit 2009 (http://www.vimeo.com/7337628). It expounds on the technology's implications, supporting Maroon's assertion that even a small slice of the market will easily eclipse Google's stake in search. Of particular interest:

* Transportation is more dangerous than we think, and this is largely due to human factors. (Driver inattention is a factor in 80% of crashes; alcohol in 40%.)

* The purchase of private vehicles forces us into a "one size fits all" model. If someone goes skiing only once a year, he will purchase an SUV; if someone spends 90% of his mileage traveling alone to work, he'll still purchase a five-person sedan so he can haul around friends occasionally. By moving to a grid-like service that provides cars to us on demand, we will be able to choose the vehicle best suited to the type of trip we're making.

* Robotic cars could eliminate our dependence on foreign oil. Energy usage would be dramatically lower due to people using a vehicle only as large as they need for a given trip. Vehicles powered by alternative energy have a chicken-and-egg problem -- no one wants to build the infrastructure to deliver energy until people buy the vehicles, but no one wants to buy the vehicles until a ubiquitous energy infrastructure is in place. Robotic cars, however, would have no qualms with traveling halfway across a city to refuel, nor with waiting two hours in a lineup before refuelling.

* The transportation infrastructure will also become substantially more efficient, as cars will be able to travel much closer together without compromising safety. As a consequence, energy usage can be reduced another 30% by having cars draft one another.

* Before robotic cars would be accepted by the public, they'd have to meet much more stringent safety standards than we apply to human drivers. No one would accept a robotic car that killed a human, even if robotic cars on the whole were twice as safe as human drivers. Templeton figures we'll need cars on the order of 100 times safer than human drivers before they will be widely accepted. To convince people of the cars' safety, Templeton proposes the "school of fish" test -- imagine walking out onto a track swarming with cars travelling at 40 miles per hour, and having every car swerve around you no matter how hard you try to make them hit you.

* Robotic vehicles will record video everywhere they go, for this will prove invaluable in determining the cause of accidents. Any modifications to the driving software will then have the ability to be tested on the "trillion mile road test" -- they will have a corpus of testing data composed of the recorded footage of every trip ever made. New software will be tested against every vehicle accident that has ever occurred.

* The privacy implications of this universal recording are disconcerting. Templeton raises the spectre of a situation like that in Minority Report, where police can remotely override your control of a vehicle, locking you inside and transporting you to a destination of their choosing.

1 point by monos 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Self-driving cars will be important in 10-20 years that is obvious. You can look into that certain future by watching how far R&D has come in recent years.

But I strongly doubt that cars as we know them today will still be around. Todays car design - fast & heavy - is absurd and only serves to satisfy the image we have of a car. 'Sensible cars' are often not perceived as cars at all <http://www.google.at/images?q=smart>.

Making cars slower triggers a positive cycle of being more efficient (half speed = 1/4 energy), safer and allowing for lighter designs.

The problem of efficiency is not somehow magically solved by making cars 'electric' but only by making cars slower and lighter.

13 points by izendejas 21 hours ago 1 reply      
I'd say google IS an AI company. They do doc classification, nlp, speech to text, vision, etc. They may not be great at some parts of it, but their systems are constantly being trained and getting smarter as they release more products and acquire more data.
2 points by rythie 2 hours ago 0 replies      
Trains, buses and taxis do much of this already. I met people in Japan 5 years ago that were do daily commutes of 30-45mins of much bigger distances than a car could in that time. London to Paris is quicker and easier by train than by plane already.

Public transport has long been used by the young and/or intoxicated.

20 points by Tichy 20 hours ago 0 replies      
I've bought some Google shares as an insurance, in case they develop true AI. I hope the robots spare me if I can prove that I financed their creation.
3 points by javanix 20 hours ago 1 reply      
This might be the most rose-tinted article about Google I've ever read.

There are nothing but complaints about Google's lack of personal customer service in regards to their AdSense program - what makes you think that future AI projects from the company would be any better?

Just because Google's made a self-driving car doesn't mean they're automatically the front-runner in that category. What about all of those teams that compete in the DARPA robotic car competition every year?

Also, the advantages that Maroon mentions (especially the safety ones) would most likely only come to fruition once self-driving cars become ubiquitous - something that its hard to imagine happening within the near future (or at least during the current incarnation of Google as we know it).

6 points by Travis 17 hours ago 0 replies      
Anyone else a little put off by the sentence, "To put that another way, if Google managed to scoop up just 2% of that industry they'd have more than doubled their revenue"?

That sounds an awful lot like the refrain from naive entrepreneurs to investors: "the market is 100 billion dollars; if we capture 1%, we're a billion dollar company!" In fact, I think we could describe it as a basic entrepreneurial fallacy.

OTOH, Chrome went from 1.5% market share in Jan 2009 to 9.9% at the end of 2010. So I'm not going to say they can't do it, but I think Matt's piece is weakened by the presence of the 2% fallacy.

I do agree with the overall gist, however.

14 points by kleiba 19 hours ago 0 replies      
Rename that article to "Why driverless cars would be nice."
2 points by asnyder 14 hours ago 1 reply      
After reading through much of the discussion regarding Matt's many interesting points, it's somewhat troubling that nobody addresses the most obvious problem with the realization of sufficiently good AI. In both cases mentioned, in regards to cars, taxis, buses, and call centers, you displace thousands to millions of human workers. While this is all very nice in our tech fantasy lands if these scenarios come to pass you have another mass displacement of low -> middle skilled workers.

It's of my opinion (I also remember reading about a global conference regarding this issue),that our current society can't withstand another displacement event of this size, even if it does come gradually. In the United States anyway, we can already see massive unemployment due to certain jobs just not existing anymore, for example, token booth clerks, replaced by automated kiosks, cashiers replaced by automatic kiosks, conductors replaced by automated trains, etc. etc.

Furthermore, there is always less need for highly skilled workers as the top, so say you displace 1000 construction workers due to automation, you may only need 100 foremen, leaving those previously 900 workers unemployed with no prospects of employment even with sufficient education. It's a major problem in my opinion, and possibly a problem we'll have to deal with in our lifetime, especially if we see minor to significant improvements in AI and automation.

2 points by dasil003 13 hours ago 0 replies      
I find it interesting that the responses on plausibility seem to be based on technical or social feasibility. My gut instinct is that resource shortages are going to change the world in unanticipated ways, and what is currently imaginable due to the inexorable march of "progress" will no longer be economical. Hopefully the transition is smooth so we can keep the best of technology (such as the internet) without the waste and depletion of the environment that capitalism so far has failed to account for. Maybe after we figure out the sustainability thing, fully automated ad-hoc transportation could be worked out in the far future.
5 points by stretchwithme 17 hours ago 0 replies      
Not only will children be traveling by robotic car without the need for parent or bus driver, so will that quart of milk you need from the store, that dry cleaning and your grandmother.

Oh, and cab fare from the airport will cost less than the tolls. In fact, cabs will be so cheap and numerous that most people won't bother owning a car for anything other than recreational purposes.

1 point by aufreak3 5 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm surprised that the whole AI argument made in this post centers around self-driving cars, when the fact that google can recall for you very relevant results from its multi-billion page memory in a jiffy doesn't seem AI enough.

As for self-driving cars, it seems to me that public transport can provide much of what the poster wants. I travel by bus for about 2 hours every day -- seems taxing, but I'm productive on my rides since I always get a nice seat and can hack on.

1 point by paganel 4 hours ago 0 replies      
> The map will shrink greatly. Right now I live about 30 miles from my office and the commute is on the very edge of what I can stand. Make my car driverless (freeing me up to watch TV, read a book, catch up on emails, etc.) and able to travel at twice the speed, and spend the entire trip at top speed (rather than slowing down and speeding up on the highway) and I could feasibly live as far as 100 mph away.

The metro already does that for me pretty well. Granted, I live in an European city.

1 point by nkassis 18 hours ago 0 replies      
This post and thread make me feel like I'm watching a 50s futurist vision of the world. I like it ;p The driver less cars need to fly too.

I hope google expands and manages to make money from more than just ads. Driverless cars would be awesome if they can pull it off soon. I just drove from Florida to Canada and back and I was thinking all trip I needed a driverless car. Most of the road could have been driven by todays AI no problem. Driving is so mindless.

2 points by EGreg 21 hours ago 0 replies      
I really like this article. Yes, if Google can pull off AI solutions like cars that drive themselves and appliances that cook for you (all are pretty straightforward problems that can be solved with programming) then they will really OWN.

The problem with the former is the huge liability risk. When a car's breaks fail, we blame the car manufacturer. Imagine if a car crashed, or caused some sort of accident -- any accident! The blame would rest solely on Google's shoulders, whereas right now it's split between the driver and the car.

2 points by ujjwalg 20 hours ago 0 replies      

this seems a perfect stepping stone... an awesome move on Google's part.

1 point by rms 16 hours ago 0 replies      
The Google leadership has repeatedly said that search is an AGI hard problem. The social graph is also an AGI hard problem, for what it's worth.
1 point by SoftwareMaven 16 hours ago 0 replies      
I wonder where my motorcycle will fit in this world. Oh, well, I'll be so old I probably won't be able to ride anyway, unless rejuvenation has come about as well.
2 points by zandorg 21 hours ago 4 replies      
I keep telling everyone that I don't need to learn to drive - we'll have automatic cars in 10 years or so thanks to Google.
1 point by yesbabyyes 18 hours ago 0 replies      
I see it as Google's role to index all information, scan all the books and so on, to make sure that the AI will see that our histories are intertwined, that man and technology evolved together and it shouldn't eliminate us.
1 point by richcollins 17 hours ago 3 replies      
Has Google had any successes with AI other than its search heuristic? (which I hesitate to classify as AI)
1 point by maeon3 20 hours ago 5 replies      
Self driving cars are 15 years away. The self driving cars will have to deal with the chaotic human drivers, and this will require Strong AI. Once we have this, driving around will be one of the small issues of the day.
1 point by metabrew 17 hours ago 0 replies      
Perhaps during the transition we would have automated-car lanes, like we have carpool lanes today.
Why your child's school bus has no seat belts msn.com
168 points by thedoctor 5 days ago   104 comments top 14
70 points by pavel_lishin 5 days ago 2 replies      
> "Even the smallest reduction in the number of bus riders could result in more children being killed or injured when using alternative forms of transportation," it said.

Fascinating, someone actually thinking rationally about safety.

9 points by dotBen 5 days ago 5 replies      
"The child will go against the seat, and that will absorb most of the impact,"

It's remarkable how scientists, engineers and tech folk are able to abstract the description of a high-trauma event, especially for a young child's body and describe it in such matter-of-fact terms.

I note this here not only because it is striking to read but to also consider that we do this in our own work in the startup world. Often we will think of an act such as 'unfriending' someone as simply a manipulation and purge of row(s) in a database when, from the user's perspective, it may be a significant and deeply nuanced real-world event.

I think in both cases we could make better products if we articulated better and humanized events such as "going against the seat" or "unfriending".

(nb: I'm not comparing the impact of a mass body trauma to that of unfriending someone, fortunately for us there is very little if anything in startup world that has such real-world significant consequences)

12 points by johngalt 5 days ago 2 replies      
Six deaths a year? Add seatbelts and you'd have more deaths than that from communicable disease. Lets have all these kids put their hands on exactly the same surface.
39 points by rookie 5 days ago 3 replies      
> "six children die each year in bus accidents"

Those seem to be ridiculously good numbers and back up everything stated in this article. I would worry that making ANY changes could actually increase that number.

8 points by eli 5 days ago 0 replies      
I grew up in NY, one of the states that has required seatbelts on all schoolbuses for some time. I'm not aware of anyone actually using them.
1 point by adolph 5 days ago 0 replies      
Wow, thats an actually enlightening article from msn.com! I've been thinking in recent years about school bus seat belts and until now I hadn't understood why the state didn't require them. Now I feel a little better informed about the trade-offs.

I have a feeling that my thinking on the topic is tainted by the ever-present "Click it or ticket" billboards. This is something I feel despite having lived through the dawn of airbags, which were instituted in such a way to hype passive restraints. An example of that hype was that cars without airbags had to have automatic seat belts. Wouldn't that be just the ticket for those pesky non-seatbelt-wearing kids!

I wonder if in the future:

* adding seat belts will cause manufacturers/school districts to skimp on passive restraints

* the push to fuel efficiency will lead to lighter buses in the school district fleets, necessitating a move to seat belts anyway

Next up: why don't city buses have seat belts?

2 points by sdh 5 days ago 2 replies      
In a crash, "The child will go against the seat, and that will absorb most of the impact," said John Hamilton, transportation director for the Jackson County, Fla., school board.

How do you go against the seat when the bus flips over?

0 points by jws 5 days ago 0 replies      
Alex Johnson must not have remembered the editors this Christmas.

…evidence is incomplete and uunconvincing, and they unconvincing, arguing that…

1 point by dkl 5 days ago 0 replies      
My child's school bus does have seat belts. Really.
-1 point by bcrawl 5 days ago 1 reply      
On a side note, Anyone else surprised that installing seat belts would cost an additional 8000 - 12000 _per_ bus. That just sounds a lot of BS. $170 million per state. LOL.
-3 points by ck2 5 days ago 1 reply      
There's a better reason for seatbelts on buses.

Keep those little frackers in their seats.

If everyone isn't buckled in, driver should stop the bus.

$15k to install seatbelts? What if they weren't made from gold (or the gold lining the pockets of the vendor).

-4 points by brian6 5 days ago 5 replies      
I don't understand how anyone can believe it's safer to be unrestrained and free to bounce around the cabin in a crash.

It's definitely cheaper, though. And, maybe more importantly, banning kids who won't stay buckled up would be very unpopular.

-4 points by maeon3 5 days ago 2 replies      
This article makes me feel like I'm talking to someone who would say: "I don't wear seatbelts because I want to be thrown from the car in an accident".

It all comes down to money. If we put in seatbelts things will cost more and I'm not taking a pay cut.

-4 points by mannicken 5 days ago 7 replies      
That's also why there's no need to put on a seatbelt when you're sitting in the back of a car. I rarely do.
Goldman Sachs invests in Facebook at $50 Billion valuation nytimes.com
166 points by organicgrant 1 day ago   115 comments top 25
48 points by brown9-2 1 day ago 4 replies      
Goldman's special purpose vehicle sounds like something you'd design if you wanted to piss the SEC off and get into trouble.

Also couldn't help but laugh at this line:

The stake by Goldman Sachs, considered one of Wall Street's savviest investors, signals the increasing might of Facebook, which has already been bearing down on giants like Google.

One of Wall Street's savviest investors is investing in Facebook in 2011?

14 points by kragen 1 day ago replies      
Is that reasonable? Suppose that Facebook eventually needs to settle at a P/E of 10:1. Then it needs $5B/year of profits. If Facebook is like Microsoft in that it can maintain a high profit margin due to continuing to successfully exclude any competitors from its market, just as it has so far (in Microsoft's case, through a combination of government-granted monopolies, criminality, and consistently not fucking up; in Facebook's case, perhaps not) then it could have profits like that with as little as $6B/year or so of revenue. Presumably, within a couple of years, the majority of the internet's users will be Facebook users, which is something like two or three billion people.

Is it reasonable to expect Facebook to extract US$2 to US$3 per year per user? It's hard for me to imagine how they could fail to extract several times that. If nothing else, the blackmail value of the data they already have on hand ought to be larger than that. ("Upgrade to Facebook Premium today in order to have the option to keep your past private messages from being visible to all your Facebook friends!" But it probably wouldn't be done in such a public way, in order to dampen backlash.) They can probably also sell preprocessed datasets of people who read subversive literature online to national intelligence agencies: not just the US and UK, but also Egypt, China, Pakistan, Syria, Italy, and Russia. If laundered through some kind of data broker, they could even get plausible deniability.

That would be out of keeping with the kind of privacy invasion Facebook is currently well-known for, though, so it probably wouldn't happen without a change of control of the company first.

So the mere $50B valuation represents an assessment that Facebook's popularity could be short-lived, or that it could become subject to much more intense competition than it is today, driving its revenues down toward their costs.

I hope to God that Goldman is right.

7 points by erikpukinskis 1 day ago 1 reply      
I was curious how their valuation has changed over time, so I hit up Google New Timeline* and put together a spreadsheet with a nice graph:


Unrelated: The "trend" graph type in Google Spreadsheets is pretty awesome. I don't know when they added it, but it rawks.

* http://newstimeline.googlelabs.com?date=2004-04-01&zoom=...

16 points by powera 1 day ago 2 replies      
Did somebody say bubble?

From later in the article, it's a total of $2 billion, with 1.5 billion being in a special fund designed to make a mockery of SEC regulations: "As part of the deal, Goldman is expected to raise as much as $1.5 billion from investors for Facebook at the $50 billion valuation".

18 points by organicgrant 1 day ago 1 reply      
At this valuation, I want to put money into SecondMarket stock, not Facebook.

Facebook is a great company, with tremendous prospects. Its growth curve is going to slow significantly, however.

3 points by A1kmm 1 day ago 0 replies      
If $US 810^8 (from http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/infotech/internet/Facebo...) is a good estimate of Facebook's revenue, then, assuming fairly stable advertising income (a reasonable assumption, as Facebook has a market share nearing saturation, and the market in social networking is mainstream enough that it probably won't grow too much), a valuation of $US510^10 is 62.5 years of growth. Facebook's brand has a lot of valuable goodwill, but they are still vulnerable to competition, and might not last 62.5 years - so the valuation seems way too high.
13 points by stretchwithme 1 day ago 0 replies      
It looks like GS found a place to spend all those billions we gave AIG to give to them.
4 points by flipbrad 1 day ago 0 replies      
This deal comes 6 months after AOL (an experienced tech player, mind you) sells Bebo for about $10m rather than the $850m it spent to acquire it. The context is markedly different, of course, notably since Facebook was the reason for the collapsed value over at Bebo.
2 points by 16s 21 hours ago 0 replies      
Social media in general seems to be a fad. Maybe I'm wrong, but I just have to wonder out loud. When Farmville and fart apps are worth 50 billion dollars and everyone is into it, I just have to shake my head and wonder if we are squandering some great technology while this fad passes

Don't get me wrong, there's a time and place for this sort of thing, but it seems too front and center today.

3 points by motters 1 day ago 1 reply      
I think this is a sign that I should get off of Facebook ASAP. I don't want to be doing anything which boosts the bonuses of Goldman Sachs.
7 points by anta 1 day ago 4 replies      
Can someone explain how fb is worth 50B? I.e. how much revenue are they making/projected to make, and how was this number arrived at?
4 points by anigbrowl 1 day ago 2 replies      
Are Facebook's users worth $100 each to the company - all 500m of them? Really?
2 points by nitrogen 1 day ago 1 reply      
Are the extremely high Facebook valuations a result of the company's stock structure? I'll admit my only information on the subject comes from The Social Network, but it sounded like only ~35% of the stock was actually sold. So, since investors are fighting over 35% instead of 100% of the company, a more accurate valuation would be .35*50bil = $17.5 billion. Is this remotely reasonable, or am I way off?
3 points by Abid 1 day ago 1 reply      
2 points by organicgrant 1 day ago 2 replies      
Google has users. Facebook has watchers.
What did Yahoo have?
1 point by 1010011010 14 hours ago 0 replies      
Where's the scam? The vampire squid is involved.
1 point by maayank 1 day ago 1 reply      
Fellow HNers, a real question - what would be the risks of buying Facebook shares in an IPO? Facing (no pun intended) past IPOs like Google's and other tech dears, where the stock multiplied in a very short time and profits in hindsight seem practically guaranteed, what are the risks?
1 point by kayoone 1 day ago 1 reply      
how much does Zuck still own of FB ? I read 25% percent somewhere, is that true ? Hes almost up with the google guys in terms of net worth then.
1 point by dave1619 1 day ago 1 reply      
Congrats to Facebook and their team. Well-deserved for building a site millions love.
0 points by chailatte 1 day ago 0 replies      
Ah, yes. The magic of dollar printing. It's a shame it will all come to an end soon.
1 point by iphoneedbot 1 day ago 1 reply      
Apples to Oranges comparison:

Porsche -> Mkt cap 11.72B
Volkswagen-> Mkt cap 54.59B

1 point by codyguy 1 day ago 0 replies      
Ah, the new year. People are gambling away to glory again. Maybe they are sure someone will bail them out.
1 point by curtisspope 23 hours ago 0 replies      
money in the bank counts. not valuation.
1 point by curtisspope 23 hours ago 0 replies      
clear sign of an ipo. also why are they raising more capital?
-1 point by aditya 1 day ago 4 replies      
Interesting. Does anyone know how many options a newbie engineer gets at Facebook?

at $50B, 0.1% of the company == $50M and 0.01% = $5M not a bad payout vesting over four years, when the stock is probably going to go up... no wonder Google is having trouble keeping talent!

EDIT: This might shed more light: http://www.quora.com/Is-this-a-good-offer-for-working-at-Fac... (that says 125k options)

Revealed: The guy behind IMDb alexandrosmaragos.com
164 points by pielud 3 days ago   40 comments top 8
95 points by dholowiski 2 days ago 2 replies      
6 years as a hobby, and another two as a business. 8 years before he sold to Amazon. Remember that the next time you're complaining that you aren't making any money 30 days after launching a site.
26 points by lmz 2 days ago 2 replies      
Sources / Words / Images from the Daily Mail article[1]? Why not just submit the Mail article? Is this wholesale lifting of content even allowed?

[1]: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-1342663/IMDb-...

17 points by bcl 2 days ago 4 replies      
IMDB has become so ad and video ridden over the years that I've stopped using it for the most part. Their recent redesign of the detail pages has made it even less useful. There is a open project at http://tmdb.org which is more like what imdb used to be, and it has an API allowing you to integrate it into your own projects.
6 points by wallflower 2 days ago 2 replies      
I have to contrast IMDB with CDDB a.k.a. Gracenote. The CDDB guy is popularly held to have screwed over the contributions of thousands of dedicated users when they made their crowd-sourced database proprietary and commercial. Some people I know obsessively catalogued their entire collections, in the spirit of community knowledge, sharing. You have to at least consider that this was Steven Scherf's plan from the beginning, from when it was one of the first, if not the first, popular crowd-sourced sites.


4 points by sjs 2 days ago 1 reply      

Seriously? x-small?! No matter how pretty you think your site looks if people can't read the fucking text it doesn't matter. On top of that the contrast is terrible making it even worse.

    font: x-small "Trebuchet MS", Trebuchet, Verdana, Sans-serif;
font-size/* */:/**/small;
font-size: /**/small;

Sorry for the tangent I'm just tired of having to bump up the font size 2-5 times on every damn site I visit. And now I feel old. Shit.

(If you reply mentioning readability I will punch you :p Readability is not a cure-all and messes up some pages)

8 points by inovica 2 days ago 1 reply      
This is a classic case of where the guy followed his passion/dream. He wasn't in it for the money but wanted to create the best site (actually database at first) for movies and ultimately was rewarded by Amazon buying it. Shows how passionate he is that he's still there
1 point by jasongullickson 2 days ago 0 replies      
Let me just say that as an indie filmmaker, dealing with IMDB sucks. The submission and update process is terribly confusing and the criteria for what films (and attributes) are acceptable makes Apples App Store rules seem clear and open.

I was very pleased to find several alternatives listed in this thread, thank-you!

-1 point by StavrosK 2 days ago 4 replies      
So it's one guy? Where does he get the data? What happens to all the IMDb Pro subscription money? Does he really run it all alone?
       cached 4 January 2011 16:04:01 GMT