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Google tracks you. We don't. An illustrated guide donttrack.us
559 points by adityakothadiya 3 days ago   167 comments top 40
89 points by Matt_Cutts 3 days 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.

13 points by andrewljohnson 3 days 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.

16 points by Groxx 3 days 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

14 points by cletus 3 days 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.
11 points by aw3c2 3 days 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!)

7 points by gregable 2 days 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://
7 points by joakin 3 days 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 3 days 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)
10 points by yuvadam 3 days 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...)
17 points by Ryan_IRL 3 days 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 3 days 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!
7 points by jimmyswimmy 3 days 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.

2 points by pacemkr 3 days 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.

4 points by motters 3 days 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.
8 points by fwdbureau 3 days 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
7 points by rick_2047 3 days 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?

3 points by Indyan 2 days 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.

4 points by olalonde 2 days 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.

6 points by Skywing 3 days 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.
3 points by eddieplan9 3 days 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.

2 points by pragmatic 3 days ago 0 replies      
How does duck duck go make money?

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

1 point by veidr 17 hours ago 0 replies      
I don't think this is an important indictment of Google at all, but I do think it is an important warning (mainly because of its simplicity and digestibility) to those people who don't understand how the interweb tubes work.

For instance, I forwarded the entire page as-is (Cmd-I in Safari if you have Apple's Mail configured) to my little sister.

3 points by shimonamit 3 days ago 2 replies      
I'm still dreaming of a search engine that parses regular expressions. When that happens I'm there. Yesterday.
3 points by ignu 3 days 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 danielhfrank 3 days 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?
2 points by rmc 3 days 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.
3 points by mitko 3 days ago 0 replies      
This page converted me. I'm giving DDG a test as my primary search.
2 points by crnixon 3 days 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 alexfarran 2 days 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.
3 points by jeromeflipo 3 days ago 4 replies      
1 point by pedanticfreak 2 days ago 0 replies      
I think the more appropriate summary is that DuckDuckGo proactively guards your privacy. Google is completely aware of privacy issues, but allows privacy to slip through the sieve by being indecisive about what to do about it.
3 points by requinot59 3 days 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.
2 points by marcusEting 3 days 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...
1 point by kolinko 2 days 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.

1 point by lisperforlife 2 days 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.

1 point by mkramlich 3 days ago 0 replies      
Awesome promotional/marketting angle. Smart way to compete against Google.
1 point by klync 2 days ago 0 replies      
bookmarking, delicious-ing, resending to ( / spamming) all my friends and family ....

ddg rules and this finally puts my pov into nice, simple, pretty pictures.


2 points by ssn 2 days ago 0 replies      
Too much FUD.
1 point by sz 3 days 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 3 days 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
493 points by r11t 7 days ago   61 comments top 19
75 points by blhack 7 days ago 2 replies      
>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 7 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 7 days ago 0 replies      
4 points by fleitz 7 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 7 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 7 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 7 days ago 1 reply      
Brilliant. If only more institutions had a spine like the one displayed here.
7 points by nsdsudf 7 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 6 days ago 0 replies      
BBC video on chip & pin findings: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_yyfcHSXZLc
1 point by marcamillion 5 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 6 days ago 0 replies      
3 points by drivebyacct2 7 days ago 0 replies      
For the third time, we get it.
3 points by isomorph 7 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 7 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 6 days ago 0 replies      
I wonder when Cambridge starts to be blocked by the banks then ... :)
2 points by kwoks 6 days ago 0 replies      
Am proud of being in the University of Cambridge.....we don't produce apps.
1 point by raghava 6 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 7 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
456 points by ZeroMinx 3 days ago   162 comments top 28
25 points by cletus 3 days 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.

49 points by gordonguthrie 3 days 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.

14 points by brown9-2 3 days 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.

25 points by bambax 3 days 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...??!?

24 points by roadnottaken 3 days 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 3 days 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?

28 points by rabidsnail 3 days 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.
13 points by richcollins 3 days 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 ...

5 points by randallsquared 3 days 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 3 days 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 suprgeek 3 days 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?
8 points by jorgem 3 days ago 0 replies      
That's why they're called "search engines" and not "find engines".
3 points by w1ntermute 3 days 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.
3 points by AlexMuir 3 days 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!

4 points by iwwr 3 days 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.
2 points by aamar 3 days 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.

1 point by rapind 3 days 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?

2 points by easyfrag 3 days 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 jrussbowman 3 days 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 jcfrei 3 days 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 aufreak3 2 days 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.
1 point by sabat 3 days 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 3 days 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 hwang89 3 days 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?

2 points by giberson 3 days 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.

0 points by mike-cardwell 3 days 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


0 points by njethwa 3 days 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?
1 point by ashutoshm 2 days ago 0 replies      
that's why I use DDG with !so
Dating Denial of Service attack reddit.com
379 points by mcantelon 3 days ago   123 comments top 17
56 points by DevX101 3 days ago 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.

45 points by keiferski 3 days ago 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.

29 points by ck2 3 days 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.

12 points by vaksel 3 days 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.

14 points by bobf 3 days ago 1 reply      
This seems like a great answer in response to the YC application's "hack" question.
9 points by shadowmatter 3 days ago 1 reply      
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."
12 points by iamdave 3 days ago 3 replies      
Anyone else slightly reminded of that scene from A Beautiful Mind reading this?
4 points by klbarry 2 days ago 0 replies      
It seems to me the woman would only be impressed by his resourcefulness, and flattered, if he told her how he got her in a joking way over dinner. I, personally, would be impressed if a woman did it.
17 points by ambirex 3 days 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.
5 points by noodle 2 days 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.
22 points by pharrington 3 days ago 0 replies      
Survival of the fittest in 2011.
2 points by wallflower 2 days ago 0 replies      
Highly recommend the Catfish Movie if you have not seen it. A variant of the same technique is employed.


8 points by DarrenLehane 3 days ago 0 replies      
A visionary, to say the least.
2 points by dantkz 2 days ago 0 replies      
Somehow reminds me of this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HbJHkwHZCCM

Will this approach work on the job offers websites?

0 points by AdamGibbins 2 days ago 0 replies      
Service Unavailable

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


-4 points by Strunk 2 days ago 0 replies      
Haha! This is f-king awesome! :)
-2 points by skbohra123 2 days ago 1 reply      
Reddit posts are generally useless talks. Cross posting from reddit, solves anything ? This looks out of scope to me.
Dear Google: please let me ban sites from results
373 points by nervechannel 16 hours ago   184 comments top 48
36 points by AndrewO 12 hours ago 7 replies      
I see a lot of people asking what happens when a group of people downvote a site just to ruin its ranking. Sure that's a problem, but there's an easy solution on Google's end: your blacklist only affects you. Yes, that means all of us have to hide efreedom ourselves. Doesn't seem like a problem to me...

Plus, we are talking about a company whose core business demands that it can identify groups of bad-faith voters. Given time, they may find a way to incorporate this data safely into the ranking data (if anyone could, it would be Google).

And I know there are extensions to do this (mine mysteriously stopped working recently), but doing this on the client-side in a way that's bound to a single browser install just seems wrong to me, especially for Google.

25 points by SimonPStevens 13 hours ago 6 replies      
No, it's not particular hard, but it will make the problem worse.


99% of users are non-tech oriented.

Those users will not really be aware of the specific problems with the search results, they won't understand the concept of a good vs bad result and they certainly won't bother to tweak/ban/filter their results.

The 1% that do care and are currently being vocal about it will start filtering their results and they will perceive that the problem is solved. They will stop making a fuss.

So now, the complaints have gone away, but 99% of users are still using the broken system, so the good sites that create good original content are still ranking below the scrapers and spam results for 99% of the users.

The problem must be solved for all (or at least the majority) of users.

(And you can't take the 1%s filtering and apply it to all users in some kind of social search because the spammers will just join the 1% and game the system)

34 points by al_james 15 hours ago replies      
Yes that would be good. They could then look at the number of people blocking certain domains and de-weight them in the global results.

Traditionally google seem against human powered editing (as this would be), but I think as the black hat SEOs run rings around them, its needed badly.

13 points by radley 9 hours ago 2 replies      
Google does provide this service: it's called Google Custom Search. You can prioritize or blacklist sites and it's pretty easy to add it to your browser searchbar. I don't always use it, but I'll switch to it when I encounter a spammy topic, usually dev-related searches.


3 points by andrewljohnson 8 hours ago 0 replies      
I'd definitely make use of this feature. Some ancillary features might include:

a) Google could warn you if it thinks the sites you have blacklisted seemed to have regained credibility.

b) Google could suggest additional sites you may wish to blacklist, based on other user blacklists.

c) Google could allow outside parties to curate blacklists.

d) Google could list the most commonly black-listed sites publicly. For the webmasters that find themselves listed who want to run an actual honest business, this is a good sign they should change their tactics. For the folks that aim to spam and profit... well screw those guys.

14 points by Luc 14 hours ago 1 reply      
Also, I would like '[any widget] review' to take me to an actual review, not pages upon pages of spam. I usually end up looking at comments on a few trusted sites (e.g. Amazon). This seems broken...
6 points by Pewpewarrows 14 hours ago 1 reply      
Gmail already does it, and the global system uses an algorithm to look at reported spam results in order to automatically move future emails from that party to the spam folder automatically, not just for the person that reported it, but for everyone.

If they're not looking into integrating that nicely into the existing search results page (not a separate form that the average user will never find or use), especially after all the internet chatter about it recently, then they definitely should make that a top priority in 2011. I definitely don't want them to do a rush job on it though. I don't want competitors to start reporting each other as spam in search results to try and game the system even further. I'm assuming they have anti-gaming measures in place for Gmail, so they won't be completely starting that from scratch...

5 points by pragmatic 13 hours ago 2 replies      
Proof that true AI is a long way off?

If the best and brightest (arguably) on the planet can't figure out how to filter out search with algorithms, what makes us think we can mimic true human intelligence any time soon. (I think it will happen, just not as soon as some claim)

11 points by djhworld 15 hours ago 2 replies      
I think the worst culprits are the ones that skim StackOverflow questions and rehash them into their own supposed original "question and answer" site
7 points by pixelbeat 15 hours ago 2 replies      
Google were experimenting with voting on results:

Also there is this form for reporting spam sites:

Integrating the above into standard search results would be difficult unless it was restricted to users with a good "karma".
That might be possible in our increasingly socially networked world

1 point by alnayyir 3 hours ago 0 replies      

Is there something I'm missing here?

It's not in Google's financial interest to provide this feature, but it already exists rather trivially.

1 point by scotty79 1 hour ago 0 replies      
In the old days we had killfile. Why can't we PLONK content sources like authors or sites by handles like nicks or domain names? There should be some standard protocol for that. Httplonk.
1 point by Sukotto 12 hours ago 0 replies      
I want a search results page similar to the "Priority Inbox" we got recently in gmail. Set sane defaults and let me override them with "Important/Notimportant" buttons (or thumbs up/down or whatever) next to results.

Let it learn what I think is a good result for my needs.

If you make it a little bit social, make sure you weight other people's opinions by how much they agree with my own in other areas (making it harder for sockpuppets to muddy the waters)

4 points by shimonamit 14 hours ago 0 replies      
Maybe this could be implemented in the way of sticky search operators?

So for example, I could define -site:efreedom.com as an operator to be applied silently for every search I make.

9 points by krschultz 15 hours ago 2 replies      
I'd ban eHow.
1 point by michaelhart 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Google Domain Blocker: (userscript/greasemonkey), for those interested.


You can also sync them for Firefox across multiple machines using Dropbox, as the preferences are stored in your profile (IIRC, in a javascript file).

3 points by coffeedrinker 10 hours ago 0 replies      
As programmers, our typical complaints are for sites that bog us down in common (expert's exchange, stackoverflow scrapers, etc.).

What I found interesting: I was doing a search on something I normally have no interest in (a sewing machine manual for my wife) and I was amazed by the level of spam I was encountering.

We have no idea how bad the problem is for others whose topics we do not usually see. The web is far more full of spam than we even realize.

10 points by foljs 16 hours ago 2 replies      
And no more bloody experts-exchange...
2 points by Tichy 12 hours ago 0 replies      
Didn't Google have downvotes for results - shouldn't they be sufficient to achieve the result you want? Presumably Google would learn that you consistently downvote wareseeker and exclude it from results in the future.

I haven't used it because I don't want Google to remember my search history. But if you are willing to stay logged into Google (which would be required for your proposal), it would not be an issue.

3 points by twir 11 hours ago 1 reply      
Looks like a lot of people are assuming a solution would some sort of voting system like stackexchange, etc.

Why not allow individual users to hide sites from their own search results and save the info in their google account? For example, provide a "hide this site from my results" link next to each result. Each person decides which site they don't want to see and SEO and global results remain unaffected.

1 point by GrandMasterBirt 2 hours ago 0 replies      
Use duckduckgo.com. Its pretty good with excluding spam. And with a new service there is an indicator of how spammy a site is.
2 points by balakk 10 hours ago 0 replies      
How about decentralizing the search page? Hear me out for a bit.

My theory is that these complaints are coming from specific interest groups, not the general public. For example, spammy-content is created and targeted at a developer/programmer audience, and that is the source of some of these complaints.

So my suggestion is Google should platformize their search; and give out dedicated search instances to specific communities. The community should have enough levers to govern/influence what is spam or not. In addition, the community can promote certain high-value resources, which are otherwise unfairly listed in search results.
Invite some high-profile communities for a test-run, and let the communities make their own choices.

The public Google can still handle the general public. This can also bring in some transparency in the way spam is determined.

1 point by joshrule 11 hours ago 0 replies      
It seems that it might be more helpful to whitelist sites. The web grows too quickly, and the mass of spam sites overwhelmingly so. If I had some way to blacklist sites, I'd end up spending a lot of time doing so. In fact, it could quickly take up most of my search time.

If, though, we could whitelist sites, it seems that results would get cleaner faster. I don't care about how many bad sites are out there, as long as helpful sites make it to the top. Plus, I typically use just a few sites to access reliable information anyway (the number's about 7, right?), so if I can whitelist results from those sites, I'll probably find my desired content more quickly.

What about the case when there are 30 spam sites listed before 1 good site? That hasn't happened too often for me. Instead, the results I'm looking for are usually just 4 or 5 spots down the front page, and very occasionally on the second page.

White listing seems like it would still be faster and easier for now.

2 points by charlesju 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Here is a conspiracy theory for you guys.

1. How does Google make money? Search Ads.

2. How do people click on search ads? Bad real search results.

5 points by hessenwolf 15 hours ago 1 reply      
How many gmail accounts do we need to band together to lower the rank of stack overflow against our super-duper question-and-answer site QandAdsWithMe.annoying.com?
5 points by dawgr 14 hours ago 2 replies      
That will never happen, if they ever did that it would be an admission that there is something inherently wrong with their algorithm. They won't do it.
4 points by aquilax 15 hours ago 1 reply      
Wasn't this a problem Google Search Wiki tried to solve?


4 points by iwwr 16 hours ago 1 reply      
In the interim, you can do your searches by adding -wareseeker -efreedom to the search string.
2 points by davidk0101 14 hours ago 2 replies      
I'm not sure how this would be implemented. Where would the blacklist be held and how would it influence the search results? I know that they already do a lot of search customization but most of it is just aggregate statistical computations. It's not that they return results specifically tailored to you but more like results tailored to a very fuzzy average version of you. A blacklist seems way too specific to each user to be susceptible to meaningful aggregate statistical operations like spam filtering which is one of the reasons that spam filtering in google is so good. Each user contributes something and everyone benefits. I don't see that happening with blacklists. I think to make it worthwhile they would need to figure out how to feed the information from blacklists into providing more meaningful results for everyone.
1 point by Rhapso 9 hours ago 1 reply      
It seems like a obvious answer, but why not just use "-site:annoyingpage.com" in you search? In fact "-TotallyUnRelated" has helped me narrow down searches effectively too. You are asking for a feature that only a small subset of the users will benefit from and use, it makes more sense for google just to find a way to rank sites better then it does to build a additional filter on top of the current system.
1 point by coffee 10 hours ago 2 replies      
"This would solve a lot of people's complaints in one fell swoop."

And doing this would spawn a lot of people's complaints in one fell swoop.

If you owned a site, and created enemies, they could band together and flag your site as spam.

1 point by pilom 12 hours ago 0 replies      
Startup idea: Create a service around google custom search. Select the "Search the entire web but emphasize the selected sites" Then create a gui to allow people to prioritize or ban their search results.
1 point by stretchwithme 7 hours ago 0 replies      
great idea. Let this be the first question asked at any Google event.

In fact, let there be a sea of hands all gesticulating wildly to present it.

0 points by RP_Joe 4 hours ago 0 replies      
So what we are talking about is censorship. You are suggesting a non-traditional type where a government does not do the censoring, but a few people do. How many votes would it take to put a website on a blacklist? 50, 100?

Who decides if a site is spam?

So is free speech dead under your proposal?
What is I build a site that criticizes the Governor of your state. Or a federal agency. What would prevent my site from being blacklisted in your proposal? Even if I had great content (your argument is about poor quality content) my could be voted into a black hole in a few hours.
Lets think about this carefully. Is that the price we are willing to pay to get rid of EE?

2 points by ScottWhigham 14 hours ago 0 replies      
For those wanting Google to put a penalty on the sites who are banned/removed from the user's view, what's to stop someone from gaming that system via Mech. Turk (or some other way)? Just pay people $0.12 to open gmail accounts and ban a competitor or whatever.

That's the only negative I can think of - other than that, I say bring it!

1 point by richbradshaw 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Just use Google SearchWiki.

Oh, yeah " they pulled it.

1 point by serveboy 6 hours ago 0 replies      
I use a Chrome extension called Google Search Filter which solves this exact problem - https://chrome.google.com/extensions/detail/eidhkmnbiahhgbgp...

It lets me sync my config accross multiple machines.

Has nice hacker-ish config. Basically a text file you can share with others. This is my current config:

# Make these domains stand out in results










# SPAM - never show these results



2 points by diegob 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Wouldn't implementing this feature be a tacit admission that there's a problem with search results?
2 points by retube 14 hours ago 0 replies      
I believe blekko does
1 point by svlla 11 hours ago 0 replies      
I'd like to see an option for searching only ad-free sites, or perhaps just sites that don't use AdSense, as well. Surely Google would have no problem with that.
1 point by eliben 15 hours ago 1 reply      
Can't this be done with a browser plugin?
1 point by AussieChris 2 hours ago 0 replies      
blekko . com is doing this and much more
1 point by ajayjapan 7 hours ago 0 replies      
My question is why stackoverflow hasn't banned efreedom yet?
1 point by jeffg1 11 hours ago 0 replies      
It doesn't seem like it would be hard, but if the rankings aren't driven by money, then there will be attempts to game the system. The problem I feel is Money. As long as everyone has to compete for it (meaning money doesn't work for the people, people work for money - in a system owned by the few), we'll have shady marketers, shady products, spammers etc... so, I think that it will remain a cat and mouse game.
1 point by alexobenauer 16 hours ago 0 replies      
Although it's sad because it speaks volumes that we're fed up with all the garbage in many of our search queries.

I do hope those working on the algorithm are taking note.

1 point by podperson 12 hours ago 0 replies      
simply add -site:foo.com to your search request.

And no, this doesn't solve the problem.

1 point by forkrulassail 14 hours ago 0 replies      
YES. Like the useless chromeextensions.org

This would be an awesome feature.

1 point by hoofish 14 hours ago 1 reply      
the problem I have with this is that some black hat people can do this to any site they feel they are competing with. what would prevent someone from blacklisting a legitimate blog or website just because they did not like the content?
New cave found in Vietnam: "A skyscraper could fit" nationalgeographic.com
313 points by cwan 4 days ago   47 comments top 17
27 points by erreon 4 days 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 4 days 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 4 days ago 1 reply      
10 points by TGJ 4 days 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 jarin 3 days 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.
5 points by kylelibra 4 days ago 2 replies      
Isn't this part of the plot of Neal Stephenson's Cryptonomicon?


4 points by jcfrei 4 days 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 4 days 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.
3 points by harscoat 4 days 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 3 days 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 4 days 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 4 days ago 2 replies      
Beautiful. This is the first time I've ever wanted to visit Vietnam.
1 point by epochwolf 4 days ago 2 replies      
The photo gallery requires flash which my iPad does not have. :(
3 points by slacker2 4 days ago 0 replies      
I would love to find the set of pictures in hi-res.
1 point by t3rcio 3 days ago 0 replies      
It's like a Prehistoric cenaries
-4 points by rrival 4 days ago 1 reply      
This isn't reddit
Google's decreasingly useful, spam-filled web search marco.org
302 points by ihodes 1 day ago   165 comments top 37
40 points by patio11 23 hours ago replies      
I think people, possibly including me, get irked with Demand Media et al more because they're more successful than we think they deserve to be rather than because they actually decrease the value of the SERPs. For SERPS where DM ranks well, the results prior to DM existing generally pretty much sucked. Maybe that is a Google issue, maybe that is an Internet issue (memo to Internet: middle aged women exist, please write for them, kthxbye), but for whatever reason, if you routinely Googled for [how do i make a blueberry pie] every week for the last ten years I don't think you ever had an awesome search experience.

DM pages are adequate for much of what they rank for, in much the way that USA Today is an adequate newspaper, your local state school provides adequate degrees in history, etc etc. They're adequate in a scalable manner, though, and they understand Google much better than the average publisher, which means they get visibility in excess of what some people might expect.


Demand Media: http://www.ehow.com/how_2933_make-blueberry-pie.html

Virtuous publishers on the Internet: http://www.pickyourown.org/blueberrypie.php

If I wanted to bake a blueberry pie, I'd go for that second page every day of the week, but it is highly non-obvious to me that it is a better result qua search engine result than the DM page. I love this example because I think Google fundamentally doesn't think [how do i make a blueberry pie] is looking for a blueberry pie recipe. Most searches will not actually convert to pies. For the 98% of searchers who merely want to satisfy their pie voyeurism need, the DM content may well be better.

63 points by moultano 22 hours ago replies      
We're working on it (as always.) There is a big improvement inspired by the stackoverflow post on its way shortly.

If people want to help out, the best thing to do is to post examples of specific queries. Those become the "fixed points" around which we can tune until we get it right. The more example queries the better, and I'll make sure they get to the right people.

A good way to get example queries is to look through your search history, which if turned on can be found here: http://www.google.com/searchhistory

16 points by tumult 22 hours ago 1 reply      
Neal Stephenson's novel Anathem has a section that talks about how the 'reticulum' (the internet, in the book's fictional world) was overrun with false copies of documents with slight changes made to them. 99.99% of all of the information on the internet was spam.

A huge industry of commercialized systems connected to the internet for the sole purpose of filling it with spam, and then the corporations would sell back filters and knowledge of which documents weren't spam to customers. Eventually, the algorithms used to modify documents developed a malicious edge, so that the thousands of spam copies of an original document would be deceptive in ways that would harm people (e.g., in Marco's electrical plug wiring example, the document would have been modified so that it could get you killed by telling you to touch the wrong wire or something.)

Inevitably, it spiraled out of control, and a sophisticated system of social trust and ranking was put in place by IT workers and systems administrators, which are a caste and race of people in the fictional world.

Good book. Prescient, even.

19 points by andrewljohnson 22 hours ago 2 replies      
This is much ado about nothing. Google has a few search problems, and they always have, and they always improve.

Also, if Marco is going to list some problems, how about listing some problem searches? I search for what he lists, and the top result is fine in most cases, and debatable in others.

You folks think Google sucks? I don't. It's awesome, and I rely on it more everyday.

5 points by cletus 19 hours ago 1 reply      
Sites like Demand Media see a gap for particular content and churn out cheap crap.

Blogs see an idea in the public consciousness and jump on the bandwagon with derivative posts.

Anyone see the parallel? ActualLy there is a difference: the DM writer got paid.

Product searches have been screwed for years. I've often wished I could filter out any price search engines and/or retailers from results. What's worse is that all these sites have places for reviews (of which there are never any) but hey the review keyword is there.

But as for this post there's nothing new here. It's a rehash of a bunch of other posts from the last month.

I can still find what I want with ease on Google. Am I just some kind of gifted searcher? I seriously doubt it.

It's like these posts are all making slippery slope arguments ("there are two content farm results in the first page. If this trend continues there will be 7000 content farm resets") rather than complaining sbout the actuality.

The other mistake made here is to assume Google's algorithm is static. This is false. It's a rapidly moving target.

Like another comment says: such noise (spam) isn't unique to Google so is the "problem" with Google's index or the Web itself?

If nothing else these posts all make the case that Google's index is algorithmic. I say this because at different times you'll see conspiracy theories about Google promoting certain properties over others.

Here's a question: if Google started blacklisting sites, how soon would the complaints of censorship or favoritism take?

17 points by noibl 1 day ago 4 replies      
In a lot of the comments around this lately, people have been saying that this is something Google can fix, or needs to fix.

I would suggest that the content farms' success in gaming specifically Google's algorithm was an inevitability (whatever the current state of the arms race) and the only thing that will weaken the effectiveness of their techniques is to expose their business model to a greater range of algorithms. If you have three or four search engines all working on slightly different principles, it becomes a lot harder to game them all with the same content, even if gaming any one of them would be trivial. In other words, competition in the SE space at the algorithmic level is something we sorely need to see.

In parallel, my suggestion for one new search engine to add to the mix: a crawler for unsubsidised content. That is, the results consist solely of pages that don't carry advertising of any kind. This wouldn't exclude ecommerce sites but would exclude most kinds of affiliate marketing. Subscriber-only sites could pay to be indexed at a flat rate, though guaranteeing that this fee wouldn't affect rankings might be tricky. Alternatively a journal-access style of subscription model could see the SE paying the content site owner when one of its paying users consumes their information.

10 points by ergo98 1 day ago 2 replies      
One solution may be for Google to radically change their algorithms and policies for web search to de-emphasize phrase-matching and more strongly prioritize inbound links and credibility.

Inbound links and the calculated "credibility" from the same are what killed the web the first time around. There was once a democratized web era when that actually worked -- when millions of people had their little Goecities pages and were linking the cool stuff -- but in the modern era it's 99% consumers who cast no votes, and the last 1% is extraordinarily incestuous circular link love: Marcos links to Coding Horror who links to Daring Fireball who links to Scoble who links to Marcos, etc.

People with neither information or authority end up being the credible authority on matters they have aren't authorities on. Scoble a few years back pointed out the fact that according to search engines he was the most important Robert in the world. That is a frightening concept.

We will move from an era of search engines to an era of expert engines. Many of the questions I used to "ask" Google I now ask of Wolfram Alpha, and its approach has turned out to be quite useful. Expand that computer knowledge more broadly, and improve the human syntax parsing. and we'll have a winner. Several such systems are built around computer learning of the wikipedia corpus.

16 points by DanielBMarkham 1 day ago 1 reply      
Wonder how many duplicate topic and mostly duplicate content articles we're going to see about how Google provides duplicate content and duplicate topic answers to searches?

My irony meter is pegging.

7 points by fhars 22 hours ago 2 replies      
What really irks me in the last few month is that google increasingly doesn't actually answer my questions. More often than not, none of the results on the first page contain all of my search terms, and most of the time it is the most specific term that it is missing everywhere. Or the big G has replaced that term with something completely unrelated. I have to prefix every search term with a + if I want to get a result quality that is even remotely similar to what use to be the default.
3 points by wheels 20 hours ago 0 replies      
I started writing out a comment on the somewhat heretical notion that biasing search results against AdSense click throughs would probably be a strong predicter for spam detection, but the comment got long enough that I folded it into a blog post:


5 points by petercooper 23 hours ago 0 replies      
Decreasingly? This has been a rollercoaster for years. I was more of a Webmasterworld regular a few years ago than now but around 2005-2006 a lot of people thought Google had gone to pot.


Plus ça change..

3 points by ja27 15 hours ago 1 reply      
Am I using a different Google than him?

I type in "how to wire an outlet" and all the top results look useful. Sure there are some ads embedded on the pages and the top hit is about.com with a 10-page slideshow, but every hit looks like it explains exactly how to wire an outlet.


Even when I try the spammiest searches, it looks like they're returning pretty relevant results:


5 points by ivankirigin 23 hours ago 0 replies      
Could it possibly be at google is in the middle of an innovator's dilemma?

Twitter, hacker news, tumblr, and quora are all really shitty google replacements. But I use them to get certain kinds of information. It isn't enough to justify a radical change at google -- especially if they are even slightly focused on maintaining revenue.

There must an an opportunity for a more curated experience where the browsing behavior of a few thousand selected people can be used to juice authority. I don't think the human editors need to know they are doing that job. Maybe they should use chrome data for this.

3 points by Osiris 21 hours ago 0 replies      
One thing that I notice about the spam sites and scraper sites is that they often have very similar content and/or layout. What if Google was able to determine how similar certain sites where and consolidate those into a single result, like they do with Google News?

Then when I search for AMD Bulldozer news and there are 20 sites all with the same article, from the same date, I don't have to change my search parameters to show just the last month. Instead, it would determine that the content was similar, smash into a single result, and leave room for 9 more less-similar results that may better include what I want.

2 points by bambax 16 hours ago 0 replies      
It's easy to filter out spam once we identify it; so the question is: "what is spam"?

Some argue that content farms such as Demand Media aren't spammers, because the content they produce actually satisfies better the casual searcher than elaborate, savant exposés on the same subject. Casual content for casual searchers.

Others consider that content farms-issued pages are the epitome of spam: spam that doesn't look like spam, and that ends up cluttering search results. Spam is not irrelevance: spam is clutter.

A corollary to "what is spam" is: "who should make the call"?

Originally, Google tasked itself with making this call, and it did a pretty good job at it.

But why not me? It should be possible for Google to make a difference between "casual" and serious content, and then let the user decide which they prefer.

Well actually, that is already possible: it's called "reading level" and it's accessible in the advanced page.

Searching for "how to wire an outlet" gives ~12 M results, the first of which comes from about.com.

When filtering the search to display only "advanced reading level" results, there are only 264,000 results left, the first two coming from Wikipedia (and the 3rd and 4th still coming from ehow.com).

So Google already knows what is "casual content" and already lets users filter it out.

Maybe a simple solution would be to add the filter directly in the search results page instead of having it buried in the advanced options.

3 points by bambax 20 hours ago 1 reply      
Isn't it possible that all of this recent bad press about Google would be a consequence of "Instant"?

Here's my thinking:

- to get good results, one needs to type as many relevant words as possible

- Instant encourages people to type less and less words (not even words: a few keystrokes and you're on)

But if you type very few words, or if you search for "frequent" queries (generated by Instant in response to your few keystrokes) then all you get is spam.

Spam is optimized for frequent queries, not very specific ones. Instant should be renamed Instant spam.

9 points by jacques_chester 23 hours ago 0 replies      
A first step would be to hide the queries data (especially trending queries). It was an interesting curio but its major consumers now are spammers.
3 points by FiddlerClamp 23 hours ago 0 replies      
My guess for the near-to-mid term is celebrity curation.

I keep thinking about how Roger Ebert, after decades of movie reviews, started branching out into political (anti-Tea-Party) commentary and other articles. If you knew that a trusted brand (for many) like Ebert was curating home TVs, or projectors, or blank DVD media in an unbiased way, wouldn't you want to see what he had to say?

Or Thomas Dolby on audio equipment, Sting on Tantric books, and so on. They'd make money through affiliate links or even subscriptions.

2 points by randrews 23 hours ago 2 replies      
This kind of worries me.

On the one hand, Google isn't the best web search tool. I've switched to DuckDuckGo, and so has everyone who's seen me use it. But, I think Google still provides a valuable public service: indexing the entire web and handling that much traffic is not an easy task, and a lot of other things (like DDG) depend on that humongous cluster.

So on the one hand I want to see the best search engine win, but on the other hand if Google goes out of business (or more likely, starts losing money and canceling projects) then I'm afraid it'll take a lot of things out with it, with no clear replacement.

2 points by prawn 23 hours ago 0 replies      
Is there a huge incentive for Google to improve if a lot of the content farms are monetised by AdSense and actually return Google money?

You could argue that they might lose their spot as the default search engine for a lot of people, but Microsoft has presumably thrown a huge amount of money and expertise at the problem and hardly dominated. I suspect this is not going to be a significant problem for Google in a hurry.

1 point by mhb 14 hours ago 0 replies      
Isn't this how Facebook topples Google and completely dominates the internet? By incorporating your social graph into your search results, your relationships can influence what is returned by the search.

Suppose you could create some sort of "friend" list with HN users and that were used to prioritize your search results.
If you get a result you don't like, click that you don't like it and the software will reduce the weights of the parts of your social graph which caused that result to be highly scored.

1 point by jonknee 15 hours ago 0 replies      
I think search quality would go up if Google gave me the option of blocking domains from SERPs. I never want to see results from a content mill (eHow, Mahalo, etc) in addition to all the made for Adsense sites I come across less frequently. They could also use the collective blocking data to help tweak the spam filter.
3 points by gallerytungsten 22 hours ago 0 replies      
One wonders if Google is becoming the new Yahoo. If so, a big opportunity for the likes of DuckDuckGo and other nimble searchers. Today's upstarts can also run on the cloud, sidestepping the need to build Google-scale data centers (at least initially).
1 point by aheilbut 23 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm not quite sure how it will happen, but at some point I think it will be beneficial to commoditize the underlying crawl and index data, so that there can be more domain specific focus and more diverse sources of innovation applied to solving this and other search problems. One or two sources trying to be all things to all people and all problems isn't going to scale.

Blekko's slashtags are a good start, but it needs to go much further.

1 point by PaulHoule 15 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm not sure if prioritizing links over keywords is really going to help matters.

I know a lot of 'little guys' who know something about a topic and can write prolifically, but who suffer under the delusion that 'If I build it, they will come.' Success in SEO is largely possible because 95% of webmasters have no idea how to promote content.

I've also developed 'digital libraries' for major academic organizations and a common thread there is a complete lack of interest in indexability. There's a lot of fantastic content trapped in the ivory tower because nobody considered the 'unwritten standards' for how the web worked.

A big part of the problem is that it's very hard to get legitimate links these days. You used to be able to get into the Yahoo directory for free, but now you have to pay a $300 a year bribe. Before 2000, it was common for people to create large collections of links they liked. Today, major players like Engadget have a policy of not wasting their PageRank on other sites. Afraid of spam, many blogs and forums are on a hair trigger to stop people from dropping links in comments, relevant or not.

If legitimate links are harder to get, that 'lowers the bar' for spammers.

A real answer to spam would be to strengthen the signal so it can break through the noise. It might be helpful to be able to get more feedback from web users about the quality of pages, but this is tough. The horrible truth is that there are more pages on the web than there are viewers, so even if you could get feedback from 10% of viewers, many pages would be badly undersampled. Spammers would also target any feedback channels that exist, and with low response and sampling rates, it might be easier to overload the feedback chanel than it is to create link noise.

Another answer is to beat Demand Media at their own game, the same way that Stack Overflow has beaten the spam sites that dominated programming questions two years ago.

2 points by stcredzero 23 hours ago 2 replies      
It's impossible to do any meaningful product research with Google.

Right now, I often start my product research within Amazon. However, that's only a start, as Amazon isn't great for everything. For large appliances, Consumer Reports is a good starting place. I guess I'm an example of the switch from search engines to "expert" sites.

1 point by micaelwidell 18 hours ago 0 replies      
Couldn't part of this problem be solved with an algorithm that identifies when several pages have roughly the same content (ie. original wikipedia article + 5 copies of it elsewhere on the web) and then giving the oldest occurance in the index a much higher rank?

That would kill incentive to create these spam-sites and give the user the result s/he was looking for.

2 points by stretchwithme 23 hours ago 0 replies      
I have to say there's some truth to this. Why is it that I increasingly must search through the search results just to find the site that originally published the string returned in the first 3 to 8 results?

I don't want to patronize all these sites repackaging content created by others, yet they continually appear before the creator.

1 point by radley 19 hours ago 0 replies      
I set up a second, filtered search using Google Custom Search and added it to my browser. I don't always use it, but it's easier to switch to when I encounter spammy topics (like code look-ups). It's pretty easy to blacklist fakes... and even useless SEO-heavy sites like experts-exchange, bigresource, etc.

Here's how, if interested: http://radleymarx.com/blog/better-search-results/

1 point by didip 12 hours ago 0 replies      
Google, can't you solve these problems with money?

Pay army of users pressing ham/spam buttons, mechanical turk style.

1 point by apedley 23 hours ago 1 reply      
I think the integration of social media is a possible solution. Recommendations and likes (from Facebook) or other places are hard to artificially jack up and can also offer great results if it ties them to your friends. I like the direction Bing is going with this. It is the only way I can see to get large human edited results of the web.

Unless Google develops highly advanced AI (which is a possibility) computer algorithms can be gamed. Humans can be gamed as well but because we are all so different I don't think there is a single approach that would fool a large segment of the population at once.

1 point by jeisc 18 hours ago 0 replies      
These bad search results are not an IT problem, they are the results of top Google executive policies: act like you want to be good and do better for the Google users but keep on serving up the same old stuff because it is tied to the revenue cow and the paying clients. This problem would never have existed if Google considered the end user experience more important than the advertisers.
1 point by jl6 18 hours ago 1 reply      
Why does Google no longer offer the option to permanently remove a specific domain from your search results? My personal search quality would be dramatically improved if I could specify even a short blacklist.

In fact, dear lazyweb: is there a browser extension or greasemonkey script that makes Google return 100 results at a time and then filters out the best 10 based on a blacklist?

1 point by jv22222 21 hours ago 0 replies      
Maybe Google could scrape DDG on the fly for each search, then do a diff, and filter out any results that arn't in DDG... that would be the fastest way to remove spam ;)
0 points by iconfinder 21 hours ago 1 reply      
I don't think this is surprising - the top management seems more interested in building OSs and social networks. Search doesn't seem like their highest priority anymore.
1 point by yhlasx 19 hours ago 0 replies      
People just can't come up with right search queries and guilt search engine. I always find what i want via google.
1 point by shadowpwner 1 day ago 1 reply      
Please, not a rehash of what we've been reading for the last couple weeks.
Visualization of stock market performance over time, adjusted for inflation nytimes.com
290 points by noahlt 3 days ago   82 comments top 18
33 points by vanschelven 3 days 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 3 days 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?

6 points by harscoat 3 days 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.
8 points by MarkMc 3 days 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:

5 points by jmulho 3 days 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.

4 points by grammaton 3 days 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 3 days 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 3 days ago 1 reply      
Does anyone know how inflation was adjusted?
1 point by gojomo 3 days 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.

9 points by alexk7 3 days ago 1 reply      
The chart is not color-blind friendly :(
1 point by myth_drannon 3 days 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 3 days 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 stretchwithme 3 days 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 3 days 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.

1 point by kevinburke 3 days ago 1 reply      
Does the chart take into account the fact that returns compound over time? How were the values calculated?
1 point by thinkdifferent 3 days 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 NHQ 2 days 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 1010011010 3 days ago 3 replies      
"High inflation led to negative returns."

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

RIP Bill Zeller metafilter.com
281 points by joshfraser 23 hours ago   80 comments top 27
52 points by edw519 15 hours ago 0 replies      
Many thoughts that flashed through my mind as I read the suicide note, but I decided to file them all away and share only this old story:

The old town drunk died. His two sons, the bank president and the new town drunk were at his funeral. An onlooker, surprised at how different the two sons were, asked each one how he turned out the way he did.

The bank president responded, "With a father like that, how else could I turn out?"

The new town drunk responded, "With a father like that, how else could I turn out?"

FWIW, I am like the bank president. I have no idea why. All I know is that no matter whatever anyone ever did to me, it didn't matter. I have no idea if someone who turned out like the new town drunk can change (although I imagine it happens all the time). All I do know is that it is possible for a victim to succeed and overcome all of his "darkness".

If anyone has any history remotely close to OP's and is entertaining similar thoughts, feel free to contact me off-line. I will tell you right now what I'll respond with: absolutely nothing. Because I don't know what to tell you. I don't know how to become successful after being abused. But I do know that it's possible; I am living proof. Sometimes, just knowing that something is possible is enough to pursue it until you get it.

I'm truly sorry that OP's story ended like it did. Especially sorry because I know it could have been different. I just don't know how. Now no one will.

64 points by BigZaphod 22 hours ago 3 replies      
A note of caution: If you choose to read the actual suicide note as I did, be prepared for a rather intense emotional trip. I don't mean to say that to dissuade anyone from reading it, but just that... I was not expecting what I ended up reading and it really made me sit back and, I dunno, just be sad for awhile. Such a shame.
22 points by cduruk 11 hours ago 1 reply      
I went to a boarding school in high school. Being a relatively nice school, we had campuswide wireless and and the last two years of my education there, we were also allowed to have our laptops in the dorms. So when I discovered MyTunes which allowed every single student in the dormitory to access each other's music, it was an instant hit. Pretty sure everyone with a laptop and iTunes had it installed and there was one particular time I remember the IT guys realizing the awkward amount of traffic originating around the boys' dorm.

I met Bill when we interned at the same company during the summer of 2009. He was a very reserved guy, not shy or introverted --or maybe a little--. During a boring afternoon, I remember googling him and finding out that he was the who wrote MyTunes.

This was then my first foray into the tech industry and right there I was chatting it up with the guy who wrote that random piece of software that became a hit at my school. It was very weird for me and I think I made it weird for Bill for a while too because I made such a big deal out of it.

I'd not say we became good friends but I became someone Bill would at least come say hi when we had stuff together as interns and that made me feel special. We talked about random things several times, we had one particular fun conversation about life in CT and another about deanonymizing data from AOL search results.

During that summer, Bill transformed from being a rather chubby guy to a decent looking man; I think he had put pictures of himself before and after the summer. It was kind of humbling as I was kind of trying to do the same but couldn't pull it off like he did.

Once the internship was over, we became friends on Facebook and talked randomly every once in a while. Maybe a few times at best. I liked his status updates, he liked mine. Stuff like that.

So few days ago, I woke up sick at 6AM (PST) and kind of involuntarily logged in to Facebook. I saw his status update which was just "Note: <link>". I clicked on it and there it was, that note. Sitting in my bed, reading the first paragraphs, I wasn't sure if this was something he wrote, something he wanted to share or some sort of random writing. It took me a few passes of the first few paragraphs to realize that this was what I thought it was.

Once I realized that, I started shivering. I knew I had to do something but wasn't sure what I had to do. I saw my RA from college was online; I told him that I think I saw a suicide note on Facebook and I was calling the police. He told me that I should first call my friend but I didn't have Bill's #.

So I looked up the Princeton PD's phone number and gave them a call. As soon as I mentioned "Bill Zeller", they transferred me first to a "safety official" and then to another.

The gentlemen on the phone told me that "someone has found him" and they "took him down for treatment". I asked him about his condition but all he'd say was "he is receiving treatment". They took down my phone number and my name and I hung up.

As a response to what I realized has happened, I sent Bill a pretty lengthy message on Facebook. I told "him" that I wasn't qualified to say anything about his pain but I would be very upset to see a man like him perish. I told him a part of the MyTunes story, probably the 10th time now. I told him that things, however shitty, might become would get better. I felt like I had to tell him that I cared. I told him to "hit me up" when he comes to SF. I think we had a brief conversation on Facebook when I posted something about moving to SF and how he'd say hi.

It feels very weird that I sent that message now. No idea if anyone is going to read it. If I believed in god or after-life, I would have hoped that he'd see it.

Now I saw the news, weirdly on HN before anywhere else. I read the MeFi link and all the comments here; I saw Karan's comments about how he called Princeton PD too. This is all weird to me and I have no idea why I am writing this. Some sort of self-help, I guess.

I checked his Facebook account. It's bizarre, it really is. This is not the first suicide of someone I knew or the first suicide of someone on Facebook whose profile I can see. People are commenting, posting things. There are a few comments like "I hope you can pull thru", posted around the time his condition become public and then it becomes all condolences as the news of his passing is heard.

It is weird to see him posting photos of a random desert he made a few days before he hung himself.

I don't want to turn this into a cheesy "how technology has life and death" thing so I'll stop here.

When I read the note, what stuck wasn't that he was abused but how big of a secret he had and still couldn't do anything about it. Or even more than that, how something like this ate him up from the inside, consumed him. That just makes me look at people around him and wonder. And then I feel childish, for wondering for things like that.

I had a really big mistrust for most people around me, caused by a rather traumatic incident. Nothing too extraordinary, I just took it badly. I felt like everyone around me was out to get each other. I don't think I ever considered suicide but I remember thinking that I'll carry that scar for the rest of my life.

I wish that Bill could get help. As others have said, there are people you can trust your secrets with, maybe not your friends but professional counselors. I cannot get myself to say "I respect his decision" as this is someone taking their life and I wish he didn't perish like this but part of me feels that at least he won't suffer the way he had been apparently.

I'll take a few moments today to think about my issues, things that make me upset and will try to talk to someone about them. Maybe I'll drink a bit, talk to some friends about some of my issues, most of which are admittedly minor. I hope everyone who reads the news of Bill takes a few moments to think about their life and how they can help themselves. Maybe that way, he'll have helped others handle their problems and not do what he did.

7 points by brandnewlow 17 hours ago 3 replies      
This is a sad story. I am reminded of another Princeton suicide, Manzili Davis '06 drove to California during spring break of his senior year, rented a storage unit and took his life inside of it. It was weeks before he was found. http://www.princeton.edu/main/news/archive/S14/54/83M99/

We had mutual friends and I met him a few times. He had his own "darkness" just like Bill Zeller.

I do wonder if places like Princeton bring out the darkness in people there. I enjoyed my time there but spent the last year of it in and out of counseling and more depressed than I ever hope to be again.

There were some good counselors there in the health center who were kind and patient. It's too bad Bill wasn't able to connect with one of them.

A lot of the problem is with the town. The "town" of Princeton is a sham propped up to impress visiting students. There's really not a whole lot there. Meanwhile, students are required to live in dorms all 4 years, which gives them a really artificial "home life" that doesn't help ground you very much either.

I lived and worked in the town of Princeton for two years after graduation and it was a thoroughly depressing and isolating experience. Unless you're a member of the university community, there's just nothing there to get excited about. You have to leave on the train for the day to do anything interesting.

12 points by zackattack 17 hours ago 2 replies      
This might be a good time to mention that we are looking for volunteers for http://CompassionPit.com/. It was created by people who have struggled with depression for most of their life. The other day someone commented about it, "I used CompassionPit for the first time this week. I really like the idea of it. Reminds me of when I reached out to an online videogame friend when I was 12 years old when I was super depressed." I think many people here can relate to this. Anyway, if you want to contribute you can do it in two ways. You can either just join and be present for other people, or you can help with the source code. It's written in python. Your help would be very much appreciated. Thanks.

Edit: the source is available at https://github.com/zackster/CompassionPit - looking to add a few features... send me an email if you are available.

19 points by yogipatel 20 hours ago 3 replies      

Having grown up abused by my own parents (in all ways except sexually), I identify with a lot of what he says. I used to think of suicide daily, now I just think of death. Counseling (sans drugs) is what helped me get there. It's good and bad now, but there's a positive trend.

I think what saddens me most about this note is his experience with counseling professionals (though he does use the word doctor, so "counselor" might not be totally accurate). My counselor's office is where I most feel like myself, it's where I feel safe. If only Bill had a situation like that, he might still be here today.

I didn't know the guy personally, but I've read stories like this before, and one thing that stands out to me is how amazing some people that have been through trauma like this are. He went through all the hell that he did, dealt with it on a daily basis, yet still had the capacity to do great work, to make people laugh, to attract others to him, and to generally do awesome things (http://blog.from.bz/2009/03/01/sudo-make-me-a-sandwich-stub-...).

Do yourself a favor and read the note all the way through. Pass it around. Remember that in general, half of the people you see every day have it shittier than you do. Try not to be a jerk.

4 points by elliottcarlson 11 hours ago 0 replies      
Without going in to many details, I understand where he is coming from. I don't have the same history as Bill did, but I have lived through a generous amount of trauma that has left me to be diagnosed with PTSD, much as it seems he was dealing with. I have seen myself in his shoes in the past, and thankfully for me I have been able to move on and share my life with someone who understands my past, and let me understand her past which has been filled with similar trauma.

While it is a shame to see someone take their life, I can't help but agree that it is not selfish to commit suicide, but rather it is selfish to make someone live with the pain they are enduring. This doesn't make it OK, nor should people take that route, and at all costs should someone do their best to get the help they need - because no matter what, there is someone who can and will listen to you when it comes down to it. In the end though, don't hold it against the person if this is their ultimate decision - and think about try to remember them for the positive things that they stand for. When my best friend killed himself in front of me, I didn't know what to do, or how to react - I now understand and forgive him for everything, even though I think it could have been better for him in the long run if we had spent 15 minutes talking about his problems...

My condolences to his family and friends. I wish him peace and serenity - he deserves it.

22 points by flipside 19 hours ago 0 replies      
As someone who once planned to take a secret to my grave, this whole thing saddens me.

I was luckier in a way that altered the course of my life, I let slip to a friend in college that I had a secret. I had no intention of telling him of course, but then he went ahead listing dozens and dozens of possible secrets until he skipped over mine. So I took a chance and I told him and he accepted me.

Looking back, that was the first crack in the darkness. People like me and Bill Zeller might only drop a hint that something is wrong once in our lives, don't be afraid to go chasing after it.

Thanks for finally sharing Bill, rest in peace now.

10 points by mitsche82 15 hours ago 1 reply      
A lot of this letter described what I felt like up until just a few months ago. I have also had experience with physical and emotional violence (no rape though) and felt absolutely worthless most of my life. One year ago I decided to seek out a therapist, which was one of the hardest things ever to do for me. Therapy has been painful at times, sometimes leaving me completely in shambles. But today I can say that I'm happy to be alive, and I feel worth of being loved and I escaped the dark cloud that used to surround me almost constantly for the majority of my life.

What I'm saying is: seek professional help. If you feel like you can't go on anymore, seek professional help. Talking helps. Let go of the secrets that keep eating you up alive. Share them with at least one person, be it a friend or a professional. But under no circumstance keep them to yourself until they kill you. Some of them weigh too much too carry them alone. Let someone help you.

11 points by beej71 22 hours ago 2 replies      
Brutal! How can we help if we don't even know something's wrong?

He was so afraid to let the secret out... maybe that needs to be made easier...?

I have no idea--I can't even begin to empathize with how difficult that must have been to live with.

10 points by kiba 21 hours ago 1 reply      
All I can say is that I am angry. Not sad, but angry! Angry at what? The world? The fact that this can happen? The person that molest him? The incomprehensible miserable feeling that I cannot hope to understand?

I don't know. I just can't comprehend it.

5 points by jaysonelliot 11 hours ago 0 replies      
I so wish people would write out "Rest in Peace."

I know the intent is not to be disrespectful in any way, but the letters RIP just seem so inappropriate for such a serious and important sentiment.

2 points by SkyMarshal 10 hours ago 0 replies      
'You may wonder why I didn't just talk to a professional about this. I've seen a number of doctors since I was a teenager to talk about other issues and I'm positive that another doctor would not have helped. I was never given one piece of actionable advice, ever.'

I hate that word 'actionable'. Every time I hear it used it is with the implicit assumption that the only information of value is information that is directly 'actionable', which is completely false.

There is also information that enlightens, that expands our understanding of ourselves, other people, or the world, that changes our perspective, or answers why things are the way they are, that is equally or more valuable. That kind of knowledge is not directly 'actionable', but often shows the way forward.

The psychologist Milton Erickson showed that people innately know what they need to do overcome internal problems, but sometimes need an external impetus to realize and do it. Erickson found ways of providing that impetus with mirroring, indirect logic, and reframing, among others. Too bad Bill never found someone like that.

13 points by oomkiller 22 hours ago 1 reply      
Damn, I saw the original (now deadened) post about this, and quickly sent him a Facebook message to try to convince him to choose life. Looks like I failed. Such a shame for such a bright mind to end so sadly and suddenly. Rest in peace.
12 points by yeahsure 14 hours ago 0 replies      
A very dear friend of mine just committed suicide a month ago. He was a very intelligent guy about to become successful.

I wish he would have left a note like this behind to know why he did it.

I realize this comment doesn't add much value to the conversation, I'm just thinking out loud. Thanks.

3 points by lwhi 17 hours ago 0 replies      
There are always unknown factors in any relationship, friendship or acquaintance. We can never know the full sum of another person's experiences, or how these have shaped the way they see the world.

More than anything, the next time I feel wronged or judgemental - I'm going to make more of an effort to give the benefit of the doubt. The world isn't black or white - the shades of grey seem to increase with every day.

Really, really sad.

5 points by staunch 20 hours ago 0 replies      
Seems like he was a really smart guy. It's sad no one was able to help him. Rest in peace Bill Zeller.
3 points by cookiecaper 21 hours ago 0 replies      
I've been wondering what the outcome was since the suicide note was posted here briefly the other day, and have been meaning to look for an obituary. It was a very powerful note. I hope he can finally access the peace he sought.
10 points by atomical 23 hours ago 0 replies      
Wow. That was intense. Not expecting to read such a well thought out note.
2 points by chanux 18 hours ago 0 replies      
Just like any opinion, one very well written, it kind of made me feel that he can be right.

But No. I don't want to believe in that.

Also, I really don't understand his situation. Only the one with the injury knows how painful it is. But I really wish the nice people don't leave the world so soon for a stupid reason.

It was scary to read his explanations why he can not open up. We can send some peace Bill's soul's way if we learn the situation a bit better and try to be more helpful to people who might be in trouble.

5 points by postit 21 hours ago 1 reply      
Bill is like many others, haunted by his past, but appart from that he was a great men. Others would have killed many people rather than avoid much pain.

see you some day bill.

1 point by _pius 15 hours ago 0 replies      
Terrible, shocking news. I knew Bill in passing, as we'd talked about doing a project together. He was a very nice, very smart guy. He will be missed.
4 points by leppie 19 hours ago 0 replies      
Sad story, but this is what depression feels like, if I had such a skeleton in the closet, I probably would have done the same. :*(
1 point by RP_Joe 16 hours ago 0 replies      
Its a very sad story. Its a sad ending to a sad life. I have known many people with a horrible past. I cannot understand their pain. I cannot understand their depression because I have never experienced it. I can understand their desire to end it all. By observing and listening to their pain that goes on year after year, I can believe their life is very sad. When I was younger I wanted to become violent against the perpetrators of such crimes. Now that I am older, I realize this just adds to the problem. As a parent, his note is very revealing to me. A warning about how I could make mistakes with my children. I did not find it to intense. I am very grateful he took the time to explain everything. I am grateful he talked about his family. I will spend quit a bit of time thinking about his family and the mistakes they made. We can learn from his pain.
1 point by nickl 13 hours ago 1 reply      
I think he should have joined doctors without borders, peace corps or whatever it is called, or one of those Christian mission (even though he had a problem with Christians) . He may have found peace in helping those who suffered more then him
1 point by basseq 13 hours ago 0 replies      
Strange to see a name on HN and think, wait, I knew someone with that name. Wait, the guy I knew went to Princeton. Wait...

I never met Bill in person, but we collaborated on a couple projects and used to exchange random e-mails and IMs. He was a bright guy and I enjoyed our correspondence. His note is heartbreaking, and I hope he has finally found peace.

1 point by chewedwire 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Wow...I knew him at Princeton in a passing sense, we were in the same computer graphics class and he advised my group for another class. He was without a doubt a brilliant guy.
Breaking a WoW addiction pixelpoppers.com
277 points by dreeves 6 days ago   193 comments top 43
26 points by cletus 6 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 6 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 6 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 6 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 6 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 6 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 6 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 6 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.

7 points by DanielBMarkham 6 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.

9 points by awt 6 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.

5 points by amh 6 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)

5 points by Luyt 6 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).

6 points by ThomPete 6 days ago 3 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 6 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 6 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 6 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 6 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 brianwillis 6 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 swombat 6 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 lwhi 6 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 6 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 6 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 6 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.

8 points by stuaxo 6 days ago 2 replies      
Exactly why I don't play these, also why I don't try crack or heroin.
3 points by somethingdotcom 6 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.

3 points by trotsky 6 days ago 0 replies      
5 Creepy Ways Video Games Are Trying to Get You Addicted


1 point by adriand 6 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.

1 point by trotsky 6 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.

1 point by jimfl 6 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 araneae 6 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_ 6 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 6 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 6 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 6 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 6 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 6 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 6 days ago 0 replies      
Drugs: My anti-World of Warcraft.
1 point by rnernento 6 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 6 days ago 0 replies      
If I could only do this with reddit and hn, but work instead of working out!
1 point by harscoat 6 days ago 0 replies      
Gaming like cigarette, do it once and you are smoker forever.
0 points by SeanDav 6 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 6 days ago 0 replies      
See this video? "Rogue Complex" funny shit.
-4 points by rcavezza 6 days ago 0 replies      
Haha, this shows how much of a jock nerd I am. I thought WoW meant Work Out World, haha.
Game Preview: Voxatron - voxel-based, destructible environment, 8bit soundtrack lexaloffle.com
274 points by dstein 1 day ago   65 comments top 23
44 points by mambodog 1 day ago 3 replies      
If you're interested in what can be done with voxels with a more realistic aesthetic, have a look at the Atomontage engine: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_CCZIBDt1uM
12 points by herrherr 1 day ago 1 reply      
If the author is reading this:

Add a signup form. It's not often the case that I want to be notified when a product becomes available, but this time I would love too.

22 points by chrismealy 1 day ago 1 reply      
The perspective is absolutely brilliant. I love it. I feel stupid for not thinking of it.
8 points by vessenes 1 day ago 1 reply      
This looks surprisingly fun!

It's funny how different a voxel-based game looks to my eyes than a 3d-pixel game. I suppose the voxels offer a lot less resolution right now, but they just seem to work in a different way. I wonder if they will feel more or less engaging in 3d than a triangle-mesh type game.

4 points by wccrawford 1 day ago 3 replies      
This is yet another thing that I said, 'Man. I wish I'd written that.'

It's not outside my ability, it's just that I never think of these things first. And creating a clone doesn't have the same feeling as a new thing.

I'm betting a lot of other developers feel the same way.

Of course, that won't stop me from enjoying -playing- the game. :D

11 points by jarin 1 day ago 0 replies      
I love it, it's like Minecraft HD.
6 points by waterlesscloud 1 day ago 3 replies      
I wonder what it is that makes 8-bit music so compelling. Just nostalgia?
7 points by chrisbroadfoot 1 day ago 0 replies      
Very cool graphics. The explosions are awesome!
11 points by jessevondoom 1 day ago 0 replies      
Wow. Great example of turning a limitation as a strong aesthetic. Can't wait to try it out!
3 points by sbierwagen 1 day ago 2 replies      
Interesting how constrained the view frustum is, with the top down view. I wonder how many voxels the rendering engine can handle.
4 points by ThomPete 1 day ago 0 replies      
The last time I heard of voxels was in the late nineties. Good to hear they are back!
1 point by ElbertF 1 day ago 1 reply      
Hopefully a Linux version will follow soon, the author commented on Reddit: http://www.reddit.com/r/linux/comments/ewnhi/this_game_needs...
2 points by jawngee 1 day ago 0 replies      
I was a big fan of 3D Dot Game Heroes:


4 points by 6ren 1 day ago 2 replies      
This seems like it scales well (important for our 1000 core future). Does it?
1 point by stcredzero 1 day ago 1 reply      
If I were Lego, I'd be chomping at the bit to license this and set up a casual chat/social network oriented virtual reality. (Sort of a voxel-based Disneyfied Second Life.) The marketing possibilities for Lego would be huge.
1 point by wazoox 1 day ago 0 replies      
The perspective and general look remember me of Battalion, the old IRIX game, see http://www.evl.uic.edu/aej/AndyBattalion.html .

Couldn't find a video, alas. I could power up my Octane ... :)

1 point by MrJagil 1 day ago 0 replies      
Does anyone know/guess what tools/engines he used?
1 point by jodrellblank 1 day ago 0 replies      
It's 3D Llamatron!
1 point by simon_kun 1 day ago 0 replies      
This game is perfect for the 3DS
1 point by SpacemanSpiff 1 day ago 0 replies      
awesome, I look forward to trying it out.
-2 points by timinman 1 day ago 0 replies      
That looks fun
-3 points by timinman 1 day ago 0 replies      
That looks fun.
-4 points by Uchikoma 1 day ago 0 replies      
Want one. Now.
RSS Is Dying, and You Should Be Very Worried camendesign.com
269 points by sant0sk1 4 days ago   187 comments top 57
108 points by angrycoder 4 days 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 4 days 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 4 days 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.

12 points by TomOfTTB 4 days 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)

23 points by corin_ 4 days 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?

11 points by Lagged2Death 4 days 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 4 days 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 4 days 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.

11 points by ghurlman 4 days 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.
10 points by k33n 4 days 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 4 days 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...
17 points by petervandijck 4 days ago 0 replies      
RSS isn't dying, it's become so pervasive that it's now invisible infrastructure.
4 points by bl4k 4 days 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 4 days 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.

3 points by gregory80 4 days 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.

4 points by Groxx 4 days ago 1 reply      

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

6 points by jonnii 4 days 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.

2 points by beej71 4 days 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.

5 points by smcl 4 days ago 1 reply      
"It gives less of a shite than a French man smoking a cigarette in public"


1 point by tel 4 days 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 lwhi 4 days 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 3 days 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.


3 points by tlianza 4 days 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 4 days ago 1 reply      
This. "Every website should not look like a NASCAR advert for every sharing service in existence."
1 point by zzzeek 4 days 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.

1 point by bambax 4 days 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?

4 points by Kilimanjaro 4 days ago 0 replies      
Change the RSS button for a 'Follow' button.
1 point by mmphosis 4 days 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 4 days 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 4 days 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 4 days 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.
1 point by shaver 4 days 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!

2 points by geoffw8 4 days 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 draebek 4 days 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 doorty 4 days 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.
1 point by agavin 4 days 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 antidaily 4 days 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.
2 points by bsg75 4 days 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 nycticorax 4 days 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 4 days ago 1 reply      
RSS never really caught on beyond a geek crowd. I've never used it.
1 point by hsmyers 4 days 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.
2 points by macco 4 days ago 0 replies      
RSS is dying only if Bloggers don't support it anymore. But I can't see that.
1 point by u48998 4 days 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 mcnemesis 4 days 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!

3 points by kinnth0 4 days ago 0 replies      
Can't we just use Google reader and be done with it?
1 point by EGreg 4 days 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 4 days 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 4 days 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 4 days ago 1 reply      
I think Dave Winer, basically inventor of RSS, would disagree.
1 point by peterbotond 4 days 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 stretchwithme 4 days ago 0 replies      
Cobol's been dying too and I'm not concerned about that either.
1 point by asadotzler 4 days 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 yycom 4 days ago 1 reply      
Why should this particular <link> incantation receive special treatment over others?
1 point by dennyferra 4 days 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 eitan 2 days 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 emef 4 days ago 2 replies      
If there was really enough demand for RSS, it wouldn't die.
0 points by ThePinion 3 days 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!)
Hilarious NYT Review of ‘The 4-Hour Body' nytimes.com
259 points by tysone 7 hours ago   119 comments top 36
41 points by edw519 5 hours ago 1 reply      
If nothing else, the staying power of this shit is a testament to the power of marketing.

Now imagine what you can accomplish when you combine that with something that actually offers value to others. Hack away!

56 points by pchristensen 6 hours ago 8 replies      
I'm the rare defender of Tim Ferriss on HN. A lot of what he says is common sense, a lot of it is crazy, a lot of it is probably wrong, but here's why I think he doesn't deserve the scorn given to him:

Everything he says is backed up by this premise: "Don't just accept this - try it! I'm only recommending it because I found it to work."

I've done his slow-carb diet before and am doing it again now. I lost 25 pounds in two months the first time, and I've lost 5 pounds this week since I restarted it. These results, which are on par with what he claimed, make me hesitant to flatly deny anything else he recommends.

41 points by AlexC04 6 hours ago 2 replies      
I've read 4 Hour Body and think it was terrible. Self indlugent, misleading (at best) and dangerous (at worst).

There were numerous 1 star reviews on Amazon.com that summed up my thoughts pretty well, so I'll not drone on here about it... I do however wonder about all the legions of 5 star reviews that are in there.

I wonder if Tim tore a page out of 4 hour work week and outsourced an indian marketing firm (brickwork?) to write a large number of 4 and 5 star reviews.

1 point by lionhearted 10 minutes ago 0 replies      
You know what's missing from this review?

It doesn't have any "I tried this and it worked" or "I tried this and it didn't work" or "This goes against XYZ scientific study, so I'm hesitant to try it."

In fact, I don't see any substance at all really, aside from gathering that the guy doesn't like Tim Ferriss.

21 points by teye 5 hours ago 1 reply      
4HB reads like a hacker's book, and that's why I loved it.

Conventional wisdom says you kill yourself at the gym to bulk up. But a muscle isn't strengthened by fatigue -- it's strengthened by the body's response to that fatigue. So shouldn't your goal be triggering the response?

That makes for an exciting read. The book is full of it -- tracking down the extraordinarily successful in a given field, taking their advice himself, and sharing the results.

21 points by SandB0x 5 hours ago 2 replies      
This book sounds like it was written by Ron Burgundy.
20 points by phren0logy 6 hours ago 3 replies      

>Here's a better analogy: “The 4-Hour Body” reads as if The New England Journal of Medicine had been hijacked by the editors of the SkyMall catalog. Some of this junk might actually work, but you're going to be embarrassed doing it or admitting to your friends that you're trying it. This is a man who, after all, weighs his own feces, likes bloodletting as a life-extension strategy and aims a Philips goLite at his body in place of ingesting caffeine.

Just... wow. The book sounds ridiculous, and the review is fantastic.

5 points by DanielBMarkham 5 hours ago 0 replies      
One of the things I've noticed from my earliest days on the net is the degree that folks seem willing to be humbled and belittled by what they think of as celebrity. Geesh, I remember some YC application deadlines that the sucking up got so bad I was afraid I might get pulled into the screen of my laptop.

Ferriss seems to be capitalizing on this. He's the guy that had the new book over on Amazon with something like a thousand positive reviews. A thousand! Something has gone wrong somewhere.

This was a great review. I am reminded of the beer commercial with "with most interesting man in the world". Sounds like Ferriss could have been a model for this idea.

Obligatory link for those outside the states who haven't seen "The most interesting man in the world" beer commercials and don't know what I am talking about: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Bc0WjTT0Ps

14 points by fooandbarify 6 hours ago 1 reply      
Hahaha okay, awesome review. Still (and I've said something similar on HN before) for all Tim's giddy arrogance I still think he brings something valuable to the table. Yeah, he thinks his shit don't stink and yeah, he sort of sounds like a walking infomercial but guess what? So does almost every wildly successful person I have ever heard of. (Exceptions might include the likes of Bill Gates.) Tim is out there getting things done (commercially successful author, entrepreneur, etc) while a bunch of bloggers sit around making fun of him for having confidence and for maybe being a bit of an ass.
14 points by DanielRibeiro 4 hours ago 1 reply      
The author's comment on this[1]:

NY Times - Dwight Garner's snarky review of The 4-Hour Body: http://su.pr/16Eh4w For 100% ad hominem, it's pretty funny.

[1] http://twitter.com/#!/tferriss/status/23166933377486848

21 points by judegomila 3 hours ago 0 replies      
I lost 15 pounds in 4 hours after buying the book. This was uk currency though.

- it's an entertaining read.

7 points by mhd 6 hours ago 1 reply      
The only interesting thing that I got out of the 4-Hour Work Week was the idea of traveling somewhere long-time to learn a new skill. Hardly groundbreaking, but a new idea to me.

The rest of the book varied between obvious, sleazy and cheating. So I'm not surprised that the new one is pretty much the same, only this time with health risks instead of financial ones.

Not that this is particularly new. It's basically Charles Atlas in the age of twitter and ADHD. The review is pretty fantastic, though.

27 points by tgrass 7 hours ago 3 replies      
a friend recommended to me the 4-hour workweek. After the first few pages, I bound the entire book in duct tape. I didn't want to be responsible for anyone else reading it.
5 points by keeptrying 3 hours ago 0 replies      
The part of the book that you MUST take seriously is the part about the methods of rehabilitating your body after an injury.

Most of you will be sitting for in a chair for a good chunk of the next 10 years, so bad backs and bad knees are a given. So understanding why this happens and on how to fix it is huge.

Getting all that info in one place took me 2 years of learning as only leading strength coaches know this stuff. Your doc probably won't.

2 points by Eliezer 2 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm amazed by the similarity between the way some people seem personally offended by the existence of Timothy Ferriss and the way some people seem offended by Harry James Potter-Evans-Verres. I wonder if they're the same people.
10 points by _pius 5 hours ago 1 reply      
One of the most intellectually lazy book reviews I've ever read. All snark, no substance.
11 points by jsmcgd 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Personally I thought this review wasn't funny and quite shallow. I got the impression the author had only read the introduction and one or two other chapters.
18 points by doyoulikeworms 6 hours ago 7 replies      
3 points by zackattack 5 hours ago 1 reply      
The worst part about the 4-hour body is how inconsistent Ferriss is. Are you support to take PAGG 3x a day? Why does he only take it once or twice when he details his hour-by-hour schedule?

The second worst part about the 4-hour body is how much bullshit he fills the pages with. His section on jumping higher (for me, a major selling point of the book) is totally worthless and difficult-to-follow. (A few black and white diagrams did not do it for me... I would have preferred a workout routine.) Mostly he just spends the pages waxing poetic about some sexy ex-NFL gym trainer, and then he talks about how he set the one-day record at his gym for improving vertical leap.

The third is that it's just very difficult to distill any practical information from the book. Man, I just want ONE workout plan, ONE meal plan, and they don't want to think about the rest of it. In order to properly synthesize the 4HB you'd have to do a lot of research, bring a healthy sense of skepticism, and basically spend a lot of time. I don't want to think! I want someone trustworthy to tell me SAFE things I can do that will more or less bring me results.

But it motivated me to buy a caliper, and measure regularly, so I guess that's pretty good. And maybe I'll start stocking up on Brazil nuts.

P.S. I am vegan.

4 points by micaelwidell 5 hours ago 1 reply      
The big question here is: is Tim Ferriss that self-righteous naturally, or does he do it on purpose to gain more attention?

Few people can deny that being so self-righteous that other people get provoked is one hell of a personal marketing strategy. I just keep wondering if the people who succeed in personal branding have thought this out and planned their self-righteousness strategically, or if they just are that way naturally and got lucky.

5 points by 100k 6 hours ago 1 reply      
"Some of this junk might actually work, but you're going to be embarrassed doing it or admitting to your friends that you're trying it."

Truer words, never spoken.

1 point by brianmwang 1 hour ago 2 replies      
The one thing that absolutely drives me up the wall is the recent touting of "Tim Ferriss's 'Slow-Carb' Diet" as if this was some sort of revelation previously withheld from the masses. Every time I hear somebody saying they're following it from 4HB I think, "These principles have been freely available and many times presented through a variety of media channels for years. Why is this news now and why is it being credited to Tim Ferriss?"

I won't downplay Tim's mastery of self-marketing, but seeing this kind of thing makes me go bonkers.

6 points by tchock23 6 hours ago 2 replies      
I read it as well and thought that deep down it was really just a rip off of other studies and advice, just done in a quirky (and sometimes downright crazy) way.

For example, his "diet" is really nothing more than a suggestion to cut carbs and "anything white," eat a few square meals a day and take a day off once a week to convince your body you are not on a diet. I've read that same advice hundreds of times before. Disappointing (not that I had high expectations going into it).

0 points by zavulon 47 minutes ago 0 replies      
> Mr. Ferriss used a hormone-slash-drug called human chorionic gonadotropin and more than tripled his semen volume. “Happy days,” he writes.

This is where I lost it.

3 points by catshirt 3 hours ago 0 replies      
imho, it's equally negligent to deny it entirely as it is to accept it entirely.
3 points by Aaronontheweb 5 hours ago 2 replies      
Is it just me, or does every self-appointed culture snob find the need to make the gratuitous digs on Dan Brown's work? The man's an amazing storyteller.
3 points by pohl 6 hours ago 0 replies      
Dwight Garner: if you can hear me, I just want you to know that this review was all kinds of awesome.
1 point by treeface 3 hours ago 0 replies      
I greatly dislike how the NYT hijacks my browser's text selection. I'd much rather be able to right click the selected text and search for it on Google than have that silly word lookup hover.
2 points by omeega 3 hours ago 0 replies      
I find that aggregate amazon reviews are fairly accurate. Im surprised by the high reviews.
2 points by kylecordes 6 hours ago 1 reply      
If the book is half as entertaining as this review, it'd be a great buy.

"Timothy Ferriss .... is an unusually beguiling humanlike specimen.


2 points by ojbyrne 5 hours ago 1 reply      
The funny thing is, the scathing review almost makes me want to read the book. Almost.
0 points by nir 2 hours ago 0 replies      
It says a lot about where our industry is in right now that Ferris is celebrity for us. There's a lot in common between the 4 hour body and the 50 billion dollar Facebook.
2 points by timsco 5 hours ago 1 reply      
I've read most of the book and it's an entertaining read at worst and full of fitness tips you may use at best.

You just have to glance around America to see that whatever the media spews at us about health isn't working. I say, good for him for trying to hack away at the medical / weight loss / media / diet establishment.

1 point by protez 3 hours ago 0 replies      
Loved both the book and the review. Tim is damn crazy and his lunacy, but practical one is what makes 4HB distinct from the other average books claiming nothing new, nothing to make fun of.
1 point by alecco 4 hours ago 1 reply      
And don't miss his upcoming book "The 4-hour hair-loss"!
1 point by jschuur 1 hour ago 0 replies      
They had me at 'beguiling'.
How to build an 8x8x8 LED cube mine.nu
257 points by bvi 2 days ago   37 comments top 14
11 points by apu 2 days ago 2 replies      
Our research lab recently created a more involved version of this using fairly cheap materials that's much more expressive:


(Don't miss the video at the bottom of the page.)

19 points by makeramen 2 days ago 3 replies      
I wonder how much it would take to mass produce these and sell as programming toys/tools? I'd buy one.

PS: if someone else would be serious about pursuing this, i'd love to be a part of it

15 points by jrockway 2 days ago 3 replies      
The instructabliss site is almost as excellent as the LED cube!
4 points by msluyter 2 days ago 1 reply      
This is so cool, it makes me salivate a little. The author said it took 4-5 days for the construction and another 4 or so for the software. Anyone know how long it takes for someone without much electronics background? I have a vision of a bunch of unfinished components sitting around on my kitchen table for... months.
8 points by CWIZO 2 days ago 0 replies      
I'd love to have this. I'd make a 3D snake game out of it. Unfortunately I don't have the time and knowledge to build something like this cube.
6 points by latch 2 days ago 1 reply      
We built a shitty oscillator in passive circuit classes. This type of thing, and Mythbusters, always makes me think how awesome school ought to be.
5 points by lwhi 2 days ago 0 replies      
I'm currently building a 4x4x4 cube with full fading/multiplexing, using a bunch of TLC5940 ICs. Placing it in a dark perspex obelisk; it's very dorky .. but I can't wait to complete it.
4 points by yycom 2 days ago 0 replies      
1. Could have put some more movement in the camera work to show off the parallax.

2. Next: RGB for 4D.

1 point by euccastro 2 days ago 0 replies      
Suggestion for cool side project: attach an accelerometer and do some fluid dynamics simulation. A bit heavy on the math side; you'd need a good foundation of calculus for engineering. All the rest is here:


6 points by marksands07 2 days ago 0 replies      
Someone should implement Pong in this cube. Now that would be cool.
1 point by Murkin 2 days ago 1 reply      
Any EBay mass seller willing to buy bulk and sell a package with all the components needed ?

Don't mind paying extra to have it shipped in one box.

2 points by imaginator 2 days ago 1 reply      
Das Labor (a hacker space) has been doing these cubes for a while. They even have a multi-colour cube now: http://www.das-labor.org/wiki/Blinken_Borgs
1 point by fractallyte 1 day ago 0 replies      
Finest example: hanging from the ceiling of Zurich's Central Train Station. 25,000 lights in 24 bit color... Enthralling!


0 points by daniel-cussen 2 days ago 0 replies      
You could make holograms with this.
What Could Have Been Entering the Public Domain on January 1, 2011? duke.edu
249 points by follower 4 days ago   128 comments top 14
55 points by cookiecaper 4 days 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.

32 points by ajays 4 days 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.

16 points by praptak 4 days 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 4 days 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 3 days ago 0 replies      
According to Rufus Pollock of Cambridge University, the optimal copyright length is 14 years.



3 points by follower 4 days 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 4 days 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 4 days 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 4 days 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 4 days 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 4 days 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 4 days ago 0 replies      
1 point by jleyank 4 days 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_ 3 days 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?
238 points by Athtar 7 days ago   149 comments top 90
59 points by samdk 7 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/).

53 points by dstein 7 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.
47 points by apu 7 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.)

39 points by patio11 7 days ago 3 replies      
Twilio. Ringing phones is pure magic, and provides so many disruptive opportunities it is staggering.
20 points by DanielBMarkham 7 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.

25 points by spudlyo 7 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.

20 points by sophacles 7 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 7 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 7 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 7 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 7 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 7 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.

22 points by datapimp 7 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 7 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 7 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 7 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 7 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 7 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 7 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 7 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 7 days ago 0 replies      
Redis. Makes working with a database fun, just like jQuery made JavaScript fun.
5 points by endgame 7 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 7 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 7 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 6 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.)

8 points by gfodor 7 days ago 0 replies      
Clojure & CoffeeScript are the one-two punch this year.
4 points by donniefitz2 7 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.

4 points by RoyceFullerton 7 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 7 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 7 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 6 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 mkramlich 7 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)

3 points by jfoutz 7 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 endtime 7 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.
5 points by justinchen 7 days ago 0 replies      
Redis. It has ton of different data structures that make it an interesting alternative to the relational DB and memcache.
2 points by ihumanable 6 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.

6 points by niels 7 days ago 0 replies      
Backbone.js! Hits the sweetspot for a lightweight clientside MVC framework.
4 points by catshirt 7 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.
1 point by andrewljohnson 7 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

2 points by cageface 6 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 6 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.

4 points by schmichael 7 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.

7 points by neduma 6 days ago 0 replies      
Nobody mentioned GIT. I went too deep in Git this year.

Others would be Sproutcore, Rails3, Coffeescript, Erlang.

3 points by yankoff 6 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.

2 points by wensing 6 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 kefeizhou 7 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 7 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 6 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! :)

1 point by jamesbritt 5 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!

2 points by enneff 6 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 6 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 7 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 7 days ago 0 replies      
Physical/wearable computing: Arduino Lilypad, and the Kinect.
9 points by Rendy 7 days ago 1 reply      
The Google Map API v3 is pretty nice.
3 points by naba 7 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.
1 point by kingnothing 6 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 seivan 7 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 7 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.
1 point by j_baker 7 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 dgudkov 6 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 6 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 7 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.
2 points by mjuhl24 7 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 7 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 elithrar 6 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 sea6ear 6 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 7 days ago 0 replies      
Rails 3 and HTML5
4 points by kokoloko 6 days ago 0 replies      
Scala - It's what Java should be.
1 point by nRike 7 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 thomasknowles 6 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 enjalot 6 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!

2 points by keegangrayson 6 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
1 point by lscharen 7 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.

2 points by herrherr 6 days ago 0 replies      
Google App Engine.
3 points by nivertech 7 days ago 0 replies      
3 points by squar3h3ad 6 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 michaelty 7 days ago 0 replies      
Clojure. I miss map and reduce already.
3 points by tarikjn 7 days ago 0 replies      
PHP and Visual Basic

...kidding :)

1 point by rick_2047 6 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.
2 points by zppx 7 days ago 0 replies      
LDAP, particularly 389 DS.
1 point by dho 5 days ago 0 replies      
Bundler (http://gembundler.com/) for managing the dependencies of Ruby/Rails applications.
2 points by nsm 6 days ago 0 replies      
redis, node.js, socket.IO, ccache (not new, but new for me), QML
2 points by maxer 7 days ago 0 replies      
faceboook graph/api, always learning :)
1 point by SeanDav 6 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 7 days ago 0 replies      
1. Node.JS
2. ExpressJS
3. Mongoose
4. MongoDB
1 point by bauchidgw 6 days ago 0 replies      
video + canvas + v8 js engine

2011 we will see in-browser video editing

1 point by EricR9 6 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 6 days ago 0 replies      
2 points by tfs 7 days ago 0 replies      
Web2py :-)
2 points by ecounysis 7 days ago 0 replies      
Paul Buchheit: Angel investing, my first three years paulbuchheit.blogspot.com
220 points by paul 3 days ago   85 comments top 8
7 points by nod 3 days 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 CytokineStorm 3 days 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?

15 points by ctl 3 days 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 3 days 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.
3 points by johnrob 3 days 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 zacharycohn 3 days 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?
1 point by joshfraser 3 days 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.

2 points by ivankirigin 2 days ago 0 replies      
Have you tried to estimate the value of the still active but illiquid startups?

Heroku was winter 08 not summer, btw

Why We Desperately Need a New (and Better) Google techcrunch.com
217 points by vyrotek 5 days ago   184 comments top 24
73 points by danilocampos 5 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 5 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 5 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 5 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 5 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 5 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 5 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 5 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 5 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.

13 points by petervandijck 5 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 d4nt 5 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.

3 points by ams6110 5 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 5 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 5 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 5 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 5 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 5 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 5 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 5 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 5 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 5 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 5 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 5 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 5 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?
Rich Hickey stops Clojure funding appeal from 2011 onwards clojure.org
209 points by zaph0d 2 days ago   68 comments top 11
65 points by jacquesm 2 days ago 3 replies      
Good for him, no donations should translate in to obligations, they're donations, voluntary and are considered to be a reward for services rendered in the past, not the future.

Typically when someone is as driven as this and you get the output of all the labour that went in to it the proper words are 'thank you' and if you feel like rewarding the creator then that's great. But that does not entitle anybody to future preferential treatment or even any guaranteed output level.

25 points by praptak 2 days ago 1 reply      
Oh well. I hope that the majority of the community is not like that. Just to restore some balance in the universe: I have donated and I don't expect any obligation in return.
8 points by masterponomo 2 days ago 1 reply      
From what I've seen, Rich does things to end controversies quickly rather than talk them to death. There was a religious war developing in the user group some time ago over licensing terms of products that were developed in Clojure. Rich didn't take a side, as I recall--he simply intervened after a few days and asked people not to carry on this discussion but to focus on technical issues. At least one heavyweight (Jon Harrop) seemed to disappear from the user group upon being asked to cut out the licensing jibber-jabber, but peace was restored.

Given Clojure/core potential earnings and the bigger bang for the buck of corporate sponsorships, requests for individual donations are not worth the ill-will that they apparently cause. I like his techniques for time management and choosing his battles carefully.

Onward with Clojure development!

5 points by bphogan 2 days ago 5 replies      
I'm having a hard time wrapping my head around this.

He's basically complaining that people think they own him (or his time) because they donated money. I've seen that, and it's terribly unfortunate. I was right with him until I saw

    "I encourage businesses using Clojure ...to discuss options for corporate support for Clojure."

Seems to me he'd run into similar problems from corporate sponsorships. Am I missing something here?

6 points by mark_l_watson 2 days ago 1 reply      
Rich: I am sorry that you did this. Please add the PayPal donate button back onto clojure.org.

I never make large donations to open source projects, etc., but I give small $2 to $10 donations for things that I use. What this allows me to do is to contribute a modest $30 to $40 per year to projects that I use and not feel like a total freeloader.

19 points by zaph0d 2 days ago 4 replies      
Possible reason behind the decision - http://news.ycombinator.net/item?id=2053908
3 points by cemerick 2 days ago 1 reply      
tl;dr: Rich is no longer accepting donations from individuals, but businesses (and presumably not-for-profits as well?) are still encouraged to contribute to the development effort.

There are a bunch of corporate sponsors of Clojure, and the list continues to grow: http://clojure.org/funders

FWIW, Snowtide was the first announced corporate sponsor of Clojure in the 2010 drive, and we'll be renewing that sponsorship for 2011 (I just need to dig myself out of the stuff that accumulated over the past 2 weeks first!).

4 points by tomfaulhaber 2 days ago 0 replies      
"my/our continuing work on Clojure is an ongoing gift"

and what a gift it is! Thank you Rich (and the rest of the Clojure community) for this wonderful language.

Personally, it makes my work more enjoyable when I use it and I look around and see folks all over having fun with it. Plus it's creating jobs and competitive advantage.

Not everything is awesome, but from where I sit, Clojure sure is.

9 points by pmorrisonfl 2 days ago 1 reply      
Wow, now I want to contribute anyway, as a token of respect... and I don't even use clojure!
2 points by zacharypinter 2 days ago 2 replies      
Interesting to see Steve Yegge on the funders list, hadn't noticed that before: http://clojure.org/funders
1 point by philjackson 2 days ago 1 reply      
Why not accept donations with the explicit disclaimer that under no circumstances will Rich's development efforts be swayed?
The Dubai Job gq.com
206 points by paulgerhardt 1 day ago   54 comments top 13
31 points by wyclif 1 day ago 1 reply      
Al-Mabhouh's number was clearly up. The article sensationalises the diplomatic damage between Israel and the US/UK-- it's called blowback and the Mossad was willing to pay the price if mistakes were made. Operations this complex rarely come off flawlessly, but it was very well done, "good enough" you might say. With their objective accomplished and their agents disappeared before Hamas knew what was going on, the mission was a success.
15 points by yuvadam 1 day ago 1 reply      
This is a very interesting article.

Ronen Bergman is a very well known journalist here in Israel, but this article sheds new light on details which haven't been made public up until now.

The fact that head of the Caesarea unit offered to resign following the Dubai operation has not been known up until now.

4 points by praptak 1 day ago 1 reply      
This is interesting: "Any operative trying to reach a colleague"whether in the hotel down the street or at the command post in Israel"dialed one of a handful of numbers in Austria, from which the call was then rerouted to its destination. But since dozens of calls were made to and from this short list of Austrian numbers over a period of less than two days, the moment that the cover of a single operative was blown and his cell phone records became available to the authorities, all others who called or received calls from the same numbers were at risk of being identified."

Given that the agents have had enough time to leave Dubai, I wonder how did the authorities identify the initial phone number whose billings were checked. Have the agents called an easily identifiable hotel landline?

8 points by tome 1 day ago 1 reply      
It seems like the operation was tactically a great success, but strategically a failure.

The agents seem to have been very well trained and carried out their task very effectively.

There has been serious negative fall-out, though, including the unmasking of a number of important agents, and worsening ties with Dubai and the countries whose passports were forged.

5 points by raheemm 1 day ago 1 reply      
"Take yourselves and your bank accounts and your weapons and your forged fucking passports and get out of my country," - Lieutenant General Dhahi Khalfan Tamim, chief of the Dubai Police
3 points by kevinskii 1 day ago 1 reply      
...they somehow managed to chain the door from the inside.

This to me has always been the more curious detail of the operation.

1 point by johnyzee 1 day ago 0 replies      
If anyone is interested in further reading I can recommend "The Other Side of Deception" by former Mossad officer Victor Ostrovsky. (Note that this is the sequel to "By Way of Deception" by the same author, it is more informational and matter-of-fact than the first book.)
1 point by chanux 22 hours ago 0 replies      
This article was really inspiring to me. I realized that "I don't do enough of what I do", reading it.

...the lock picker practiced disabling every type of lock in use in all the major hotels in Dubai.

3 points by vitorbal 1 day ago 2 replies      
This was a really interesting article. I like this subject, does anyone know of any books, websites or articles that might have more of the same?
3 points by veb 1 day ago 2 replies      
Awesome article. No bullshit, no advertising... just plain win.
2 points by koudelka 1 day ago 0 replies      
The late 70's British spy show, "The Sandbaggers" might also be of interest: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Sandbaggers
-4 points by badmash69 1 day ago 3 replies      
Downvote me if you will, but I do not think this article belong on the front page of Hacker news. It is a interesting illuminating article but it belongs on Reddit or even Slashdot.
Mac App Store: Open for Business apple.com
199 points by shawndumas 15 hours ago   269 comments top 32
39 points by pclark 14 hours ago replies      
Is it just me or is the .app an abomination of a UI?

Why does Apple now have three different window control styles? http://dl.dropbox.com/u/20635/Screenshots/r3da.png

Why are there back buttons ("like a browser") but you can't click hold to get the contextual drop down?

The navigation (Featured, Top Charts, etc) are so far away from the other controls (Back and Forward) its insanely awkward to use.

It feels kind of ... weird using an app store on my Mac. I guess because I'm fortunate in that I know where to look for Mac applications, I don't really have the burning need for a central place.

24 points by pavlov 12 hours ago 4 replies      
I'm impressed with the Mac App Store so far. Pretty bold of Apple to push it so prominently onto every Mac user's Dock as part of a point update to the operating system.

My little landscape generator app, Turtledoveland, is currently at #5 on the Top Paid list for the Graphics & Design category.

I'll be sure to let HN know what kind of sales numbers that actually means, once the numbers come in...

30 points by ugh 14 hours ago replies      
Arrrg! No way of uninstalling apps in one central location. Why, Apple, why? There is this nice list of installed apps, why doesn't it have an uninstall button? It doesn't make any sense.

I guess you are expected to drag apps to the trash like before? That sucks.

31 points by rudd 14 hours ago 6 replies      
I will say this: Apple is not afraid to leave old technology behind. While website XYZ aims to support multiple versions of every browser, including those released a decade ago (IE6), Apple won't even support Leopard with its new store, which was the version that came with the Mac I got just over a year ago.
17 points by ceejayoz 14 hours ago 3 replies      
If you get an error 100 (http://yfrog.com/h4b9kkp) attempting to download any apps, clear /Library/Caches and ~/Library/Caches. Something to do with the Terms and Conditions acceptance not firing.
8 points by kleiba 14 hours ago 3 replies      
Is this like synaptic et al.? I mean, do you get updates automatically? That would be great! Also, a central packaging tool helps avoiding multiple installations of the same software, when dependencies can be tracked and resolved. If that is what this is: cool.
4 points by powrtoch 12 hours ago 2 replies      
Disappointed to see Twitter among the most popular apps. For mobile devices the native-app-front-end-for-existing-websites was arguably necessary and beneficial, but for desktop clients it really feels like a big step back to start moving back out of the browser.
9 points by pstinnett 14 hours ago 1 reply      
There are a lot of apps that I'm surprised to not see in the store on launch day. Versions, Kaleidoscope, Skitch. I'd like to see a way for open source apps to show up here too, because I think managing my applications from the Mac App store will be nice.
4 points by watty 14 hours ago 1 reply      
Is adware prohibited from everything in the store? It seems like every windows application I download has some sort of toolbar bundled but maybe this isn't a problem on Mac.
13 points by vasi 13 hours ago 1 reply      
TextWrangler is available, but has removed the command-line 'edit' command, and the ability to authenticate to edit root-owned files. So it begins...
7 points by fwdbureau 13 hours ago 5 replies      
Call me old fashioned, but I fail to see how implementing a corporate middleman between developers and users can be a progress... OK, from a developer's stand point, this could be really beneficial (distribution, centralization etc), but as a user, it feels like seeing independent record stores about to be crushed by a shiny new Virgin Megastore.
I can't help to hope this will be an immense failure
5 points by neovive 14 hours ago 1 reply      
Does anyone else feel that the word "app" is already branded to mean fast and cheap? Perhaps, it's just a perception that will diminish over time. I guess it sounds better than the "Mac Desktop Application Store".
3 points by ThomPete 14 hours ago 0 replies      
Pretty similar experience to the itunes store but I have to say it's interesting to see more professional applications on here.

Nice little detail it knows whether you installed an application even if you didn't do it through the app store.

One interesting little thing though.

It seems like the different applications icons still need to catch up to the quality of the ios app icons.

19 points by evilmushroom 14 hours ago 2 replies      
As long as this doesn't become the only way for me to put apps on my Mac. :P
1 point by awakeasleep 2 hours ago 0 replies      

    class UIComplaint(BikeShed.colorComplaint):

2 points by igravious 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Why does Apple permanently want the 3 digit security code on the back of my credit card? Shouldn't that be asked for at the time of each payment transaction?
4 points by dgroves 11 hours ago 4 replies      
My x-wife purchased a substantially number of songs from iTunes - we are talking a 5 digit investment. When I moved over seas to England; I was no longer able to partake in my music due to the DRM placed on it by Apple and my new "jurisdiction."

I am very deeply suspicious about the 'app-store' what if I purchase an application while I am here in the UK? Is it going to work when I get back to the USA - or will they force me to purchase it again the way they are attempting to do with my music?

9 points by scorchin 14 hours ago 0 replies      
It's just like a massive computer magazine shareware cover disk.
7 points by zppx 14 hours ago 3 replies      
Aperture is US$ 79,99 in the Store, Lightroom now seems so expensive...
4 points by bengl3rt 10 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm at #20 in Top Paid Music, and climbing...
3 points by troels 14 hours ago 2 replies      
Distribute Mac apps on the Mac App Store


Hm ..

1 point by naz 14 hours ago 1 reply      
The Mac App Store is not showing in software update here (UK)

edit: never mind, it is showing up now.

1 point by wenbert 14 hours ago 0 replies      
Whatever the comments on this, Apple is creating another new way/market for developers to make money and at the same for itself. Genius.

fyi, i do not develop apps for apple. i gave my mac to my brother about a year ago. i figured that i could do the same with my cheap acer without worrying about dropping or losing it.

2 points by vokoda 14 hours ago 4 replies      
Anyone else feel like https://chrome.google.com/webstore makes this seem old-fashioned? Seriously who's going to be running software on their local machine a year from now (apart from hackers obviously).
1 point by tyng 14 hours ago 3 replies      
Wow, this is a major step towards creating an uniform marketplace for not just mobile and tablet but also traditional computers. It does seem like a natural next step, it should even have happened earlier, how come nobody thought of it until today?
2 points by jadedoto 12 hours ago 1 reply      
They allow redownload. How nice... I got burned by the removal of this in the iTunes app store when upgrading my iPad failed.
2 points by pepijndevos 14 hours ago 1 reply      
Creative icon... If it was black, it would fit nicely with iTunes.
1 point by cbguder 12 hours ago 0 replies      
Categories aren't working properly in the Turkish store. More often than not, I get the "One Moment Please..." message when I click on a category, and I have to go back and click on the category again.

Is anybody else experiencing the same thing on non-US stores?

2 points by egb 12 hours ago 0 replies      
Bummer - no way to create promo codes for Mac apps as of yet in iTunesConnect...
-2 points by tyng 14 hours ago 1 reply      
iTunes should be renamed, it's not just about the "tunes" anymore
-1 point by elvirs 14 hours ago 3 replies      
Buy, download, and even redownload.
its amazing how apple expected customers to pay for the same digital product over and over.
-1 point by mcantelon 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Ubuntu's had an app store for years (although paid apps are a more recent addition).
Working hurts less than procrastinating, we fear the twinge of starting lesswrong.com
191 points by ab9 5 days ago   46 comments top 15
17 points by edw519 4 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.

29 points by te_platt 5 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 4 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.

13 points by csomar 4 days ago 2 replies      
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.

19 points by schm00 4 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).

4 points by wisty 4 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 4 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 4 days ago 0 replies      
A very interesting perspective. Now hurry up with HPMOR!
1 point by mannicken 3 days 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 :)

1 point by Jach 4 days 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 4 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.

1 point by tom_ilsinszki 4 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...

2 points by taiyab 4 days 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.

3 points by codyguy 4 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 3 days ago 0 replies      
I'm considering making a morning playlist of songs that get me motivated for when I wake up.
Github 404 page github.com
185 points by config_yml 6 days ago   43 comments top 18
26 points by nanexcool 6 days ago 0 replies      
Octocat's name is Octobi Wan Catnobi (view source)
12 points by siddhant 6 days ago 3 replies      
The 404 page on Blippy is worth a mention too - http://blippy.com/404
24 points by config_yml 6 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 6 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 6 days ago 1 reply      
Make sure you move your mouse over the image.
4 points by bootload 6 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 6 days ago 2 replies      
Their 503 https://github.com/503 collection of random github-approved youtube videos.
13 points by effkay 6 days ago 1 reply      
this is the most awesome thing i've seen in 2011 so far
2 points by jrockway 6 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!
1 point by aw3c2 6 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 kacy 6 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 6 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 6 days ago 1 reply      
Cute, but damn onmouseover on the iPad.... :(
1 point by meatsock 6 days ago 1 reply      
sorry this page doesn't seem to load for me.
2 points by aesacus 6 days ago 0 replies      
The 3d effect is achieved using JParallax
1 point by ianl 6 days ago 0 replies      
This made my day.
-3 points by landhar 6 days ago 0 replies      
The link seems broken, it didn't get me where I wanted.
-2 points by laughinghan 5 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

Google's library for dealing with phone numbers (Java/JavaScript) google.com
185 points by kondro 1 day ago   39 comments top 10
7 points by jokermatt999 1 day ago 2 replies      
Somewhat unrelated, but I've grown to dislike the Skype addon for Firefox because of its phone number recognition. It gets far too many false positives. Even numbers several digits short of being a phone number are often mistaken as one, throwing off the formatting of the page.
7 points by kondro 1 day ago 4 replies      
Found this today whilst I was looking for a solution to standardised formatting of phone numbers. I was hoping for a ruby solution, but this is an extremely complete library supporting formatting and validation for 228 countries/regions.
5 points by eneveu 1 day ago 2 replies      
Now I feel bad for not posting it here as well (I posted it on reddit a few days ago: http://www.reddit.com/r/java/comments/et5az/libphonenumber_g... ) :(

I often avoid posting java links to HN, thinking that the HN community is more focused on Rails / node.js / python. Guess I should reconsider :)

Funny how this intangible karma stuff affects me :)

5 points by bluedevil2k 1 day ago 2 replies      
This would be good for Twilio, which doesn't have any phone number validation methods in its libraries.
2 points by pilif 1 day ago 0 replies      
Fun fact: The swiss phone number they use in the example apparently is the phone number of Google's Swiss Office in Zürich.
3 points by damncabbage 1 day ago 0 replies      
I've looked around and haven't found a PHP port of this.

Given the usefulness of this library, I've been inspired to give it a go: http://github.com/damncabbage/libphonenumber-php

(Java --> PHP is tough going. Come back in a month. ;) )

1 point by chronomex 1 day ago 0 replies      
Awesome! I'm currently working on a project to deal with all sorts of phone numbers in bulk. I've already duplicated some of this in my own way, but I think it might come in handy for the rest.
2 points by elvirs 1 day ago 2 replies      
invalid country code for 994 (Azerbaijan) tried both with 00 and without
1 point by coverband 1 day ago 1 reply      
This is pretty cool -- how do they deal with changes to the metadata, like when a country has a new code?
3 points by ramki 1 day ago 0 replies      
I have been looking for similar lib in C\C++.
The No. 1 Habit of Highly Creative People zenhabits.net
184 points by evac 4 days ago   54 comments top 18
35 points by sudont 4 days 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 4 days 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 4 days 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 4 days 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 4 days ago 1 reply      
The habit is "solitude."
2 points by dzuc 3 days ago 0 replies      
Might I recommend: David Bohm wrote a very accessible book on creativity--what it is, how it works, etc.


2 points by Stormbringer 3 days 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.

3 points by JoeAltmaier 4 days 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.

2 points by ramidarigaz 4 days 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.
2 points by mcnemesis 3 days 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.

1 point by etal 3 days 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 daimyoyo 4 days 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.
1 point by alexwestholm 3 days 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.
1 point by mbesto 4 days 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 4 days 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."
0 points by pier0 4 days 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 4 days ago 0 replies      
creating != producing
1 point by byteclub 3 days ago 0 replies      
Or, to put it another way: meditation.
Google Will Become an AI Company mattmaroon.com
180 points by cwan 3 days ago   157 comments top 32
69 points by abstractbill 3 days 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.
28 points by nowarninglabel 3 days 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.

34 points by jonmc12 3 days 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.

16 points by DanielBMarkham 3 days 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.

9 points by nihilocrat 3 days ago 3 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.

13 points by alextp 3 days ago 3 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 3 days 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 3 days 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...

20 points by Tichy 3 days 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.
6 points by Micand 3 days 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.

13 points by izendejas 3 days 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.
3 points by javanix 3 days 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 3 days 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 3 days ago 0 replies      
Rename that article to "Why driverless cars would be nice."
2 points by asnyder 3 days 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.

5 points by stretchwithme 3 days 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.

2 points by dasil003 3 days 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.
2 points by rythie 2 days 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.

1 point by nkassis 3 days 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.

1 point by aufreak3 2 days 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.

2 points by EGreg 3 days 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.

1 point by monos 2 days 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.

2 points by ujjwalg 3 days ago 0 replies      

this seems a perfect stepping stone... an awesome move on Google's part.

1 point by yesbabyyes 3 days 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 rms 3 days 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.
2 points by zandorg 3 days 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 SoftwareMaven 3 days 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.
1 point by richcollins 3 days 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 paganel 2 days 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 maeon3 3 days 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 3 days ago 0 replies      
Perhaps during the transition we would have automated-car lanes, like we have carpool lanes today.
1 point by invertedlambda 1 day ago 0 replies      
Will become? Is.
Nvidia announces Project Denver ARM CPU for the desktop engadget.com
177 points by zhyder 1 day ago   109 comments top 9
30 points by matthew-wegner 1 day ago 2 replies      
And Microsoft just announced ARM support in Windows 8...
8 points by zhyder 1 day ago 1 reply      
8 points by jcl 1 day ago 1 reply      
Kind of amusing, considering that the ARM architecture was originally created for desktop computers.


5 points by sliverstorm 1 day ago replies      
Man, I wish I was working for them, but I haven't even graduated yet. It'd be really cool to be involved with this stuff.
7 points by iwwr 1 day ago 6 replies      
Are there particular advantages to an ARM CPU on a desktop machine? Assuming software compatibility is not an issue.
3 points by cyrus_ 1 day ago 0 replies      
This is a big win for nVidia on the supercomputer side of things. They will soon have to face integrated CPU-GPU solutions from Intel and AMD which greatly simplify the process of building and programming a supercomputer. They've just one-upped them both by creating a similar offering with better performance on the GPU side (where the FLOPS are) and better power efficiency on the CPU side. In the race to the exaflop, nVidia just changed the odds dramatically.
2 points by Charuru 1 day ago 0 replies      
This makes sense in the era of webapps and python and java. If people were still reliant on programs explicitly written for x86 this would never go anywhere.
1 point by coryrc 1 day ago 1 reply      
I used to think the alternative-CPU-taking-over-the-desktop would be cool. In P4 days of 120W+ processors, ARM looked like a savior.

But now, the only difference would be who is pocketing the $50-100 I'd spend on a new processor.

0 points by jdavid 21 hours ago 0 replies      
Risc is good. ;-)
The power of that p6 chip is too much for you.

nvidia congrats, this has been a long time coming. if feel like nvidia is tron in this case and intel is the mpc, fight for the user.

it's time to embrace massive parallelism. this will change everything.

I am really excited and happy to be a shareholder of nvidia now.

       cached 7 January 2011 05:04:02 GMT