hacker news with inline top comments    .. more ..    11 Jan 2011 Best
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Dear Google: please let me ban sites from results
426 points by nervechannel 4 days ago   208 comments top 52
39 points by AndrewO 4 days 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.

26 points by SimonPStevens 4 days 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)

35 points by al_james 4 days 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.

19 points by radley 4 days ago 3 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.


14 points by Luc 4 days 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 4 days 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...

3 points by andrewljohnson 4 days 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.

5 points by pragmatic 4 days 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 4 days 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 4 days 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

5 points by shimonamit 4 days 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.

10 points by krschultz 4 days ago 2 replies      
I'd ban eHow.
2 points by balakk 4 days 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.

4 points by charlesju 4 days 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 4 days 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?
1 point by Sukotto 4 days 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 coffeedrinker 4 days 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 4 days ago 2 replies      
And no more bloody experts-exchange...
2 points by Tichy 4 days 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.

6 points by dawgr 4 days 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 iwwr 4 days ago 1 reply      
In the interim, you can do your searches by adding -wareseeker -efreedom to the search string.
1 point by thinkbohemian 3 days ago 0 replies      
Does anyone remember when google had this feature?

Well sortof, you could block individual responses from coming up under a specific search term.

There was a little x by each result if you were signed into google and it said "never show this result again"

Not enough people used the feature for it to stick around...

I would love this ability but google please, good UI and consumer education. I love your features but don't love when they get taken away because users don't know they exist.

3 points by twir 4 days 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.

4 points by aquilax 4 days ago 1 reply      
Wasn't this a problem Google Search Wiki tried to solve?


1 point by joshrule 4 days 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 davidk0101 4 days 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 alnayyir 4 days ago 1 reply      

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 michaelhart 4 days 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).

1 point by coffee 4 days 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 Rhapso 4 days 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 pilom 4 days 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.
2 points by ScottWhigham 4 days 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 stretchwithme 4 days 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.

1 point by cygwin98 3 days ago 0 replies      
Sounds to me the web search is not yet a solved problem. As the hardware (storage and memory) is getting cheaper and cheaper, and the emerging enabling technologies such as cloud computing, building your own search engine may not sound impossible any longer. Wonder how feasible it is to apply anti-spam algorithms that work well on emails to web pages.
1 point by scotty79 4 days 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 richbradshaw 4 days ago 0 replies      
Just use Google SearchWiki.

Oh, yeah " they pulled it.

1 point by byron8 1 day ago 0 replies      
me gusta esta idea, muchos de los resultados iniciales son spam, y los resultados que de verdad me sirven aparecen dos o tres paginas después, apreciaría mucho que se pudiera banear los resultados alejados o que considere spam, thxs
1 point by GrandMasterBirt 4 days 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 retube 4 days ago 0 replies      
I believe blekko does
2 points by diegob 4 days ago 0 replies      
Wouldn't implementing this feature be a tacit admission that there's a problem with search results?
1 point by eliben 4 days ago 1 reply      
Can't this be done with a browser plugin?
1 point by serveboy 4 days 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



0 points by RP_Joe 4 days ago 1 reply      
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 ajayjapan 4 days ago 1 reply      
My question is why stackoverflow hasn't banned efreedom yet?
1 point by alexobenauer 4 days 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 svlla 4 days 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 pilooch 3 days ago 0 replies      
you can do it with seeks...

on your local machine and/or remote server... and it's free software.

blekko ? try this query, http://blekko.com/ws/?q=debian
duh ?

1 point by jeffg1 4 days 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 podperson 4 days ago 0 replies      
simply add -site:foo.com to your search request.

And no, this doesn't solve the problem.

1 point by forkrulassail 4 days ago 0 replies      
YES. Like the useless chromeextensions.org

This would be an awesome feature.

1 point by hoofish 4 days 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?
1 point by AussieChris 4 days ago 0 replies      
blekko . com is doing this and much more
Steve's story - Google employee #13 googler13.blogspot.com
424 points by paul 1 day ago   87 comments top 19
45 points by nostrademons 1 day ago 4 replies      
I like this because it resonates with Paul Buchheit's earlier blogpost about not letting ego fear rule your life:


Yes, this guy got superbly lucky. He also put himself into a position where it was possible to get superbly lucky, and then capitalized on that luck as well as possible.

29 points by dools 1 day ago 1 reply      
This is a story of a true hustler - and I mean that in a good way.

This guy got out there and hustled for a job. He hustled his way into Netscape by persistently calling and eventually "hacking" his way into contact with a well connected business person.

Then when he was employed at Google, he went out there and hustled dollars that made them actually get some turnover.

It's a story we don't hear very often. It's a story about the people that make the money rather than the people that make the technology.

In a world where so much of the technology sector seems to be predicated on the idea that you build something cool, get users and sort the "money stuff" out later, it's easy to forget that, at some point, someone's gotta get out there and actually make some god damned money.

Having attempted to sell various technological services of my own for the past 4 years, I can whole-heartedly say that in my experience, building the technology is the easy part.

Being able to monetise it is a magical gift!

I'd also like to add that I find it pretty far fetched to refer to this success as "luck". Being a good salesman, being a good hustler, is all about being there. That's why CRM systems are such a vital sales tool - you need to make sure that every few months you call your prospects, and if you don't sell to them then you make an appointment to call back in 3 months and so on.

Whether you're selling vacuum cleaners or selling your own services as an employee or contractor, you can't refer to every successful sales as "luck" - it's success based on persistent action. If anything you'd have to refer to people who hustle well and don't succeed as being unlucky, rather than the other way around.

65 points by yread 1 day ago 0 replies      
Over a two-week period, I left messages on every single voice mailbox I could get at that company. I was never able to get a human on the phone or get a call back

I thought this would be about Google

4 points by redthrowaway 1 day ago 1 reply      
I wonder how different his story would be if he was still at Google today. I understand that there was a pretty magical feeling at Google in its pre- and immediately post-IPO days, and I'd be interested to hear from someone who lived through that and is still at Google now.
5 points by elvirs 1 day ago 1 reply      
I google his name and there is not much about him after he left google.
He says 'I am now looking to share some of my knowledge and experience to benefit the next wave of those who aspire to do as I did'
I am just curious what has he done to benefit the next wave?
5 points by aothman 1 day ago 8 replies      
Sounds like he was in the right place at the right time. I think it would be a mistake to read anything into his story other than "be really lucky".

EDIT: There were lots of people just like him that weren't crazy-successful. It's wonderful that he put himself into a place where he could succeed, but that's only necessary, not sufficient, to realize that success. He deserves credit for buying the ticket and taking the ride, but beyond that it's luck.

2 points by aditya 1 day ago 1 reply      
I wonder if this could've happened outside the Bay Area though. This is part of the reason the area works so well as a hub, because it really does maximize serendipity of the life-changing kind, since almost everyone in the area has been in a similar situation before.
1 point by dstein 1 day ago 0 replies      
Would this story be interesting if he hadn't worked at Google? The only thing unique about this story is that he hit the IPO jackpot.
1 point by blr_hack 18 hours ago 3 replies      
Loved the story, as of course, so many of you did.

At the risk of being sounding judgmental on other people, I will still say, that his now leading a retired(ish) life doesn't jell well with the story of a person, who can do such heroics (like putting a job needed board, on his chest and standing the whole day).

Again, apologize for being preachy, life is a journey, and stagnating at any point, doesn't help...I am about as old as him...have had my share of moderate successes in life... looking for more...some of the best code I've written in my life has been in the past couple of years...look to write lots more ...:)

1 point by BrainScraps 9 hours ago 0 replies      
It brings me hope that a non-coder can make a dent in the tech world. Job listings in the past few months have been a bit discouraging for business dev & marketing types.
2 points by shawnee_ 1 day ago 0 replies      
Imagine a place where early-stage technology companies can get inexpensive development capital from the pooled investment dollars of individuals who trade their stock directly over the Internet.

(from the document TechnoEquity)

1 point by Roritharr 1 day ago 4 replies      
When looking at these stories i always wonder if my computer science bachelor degree will really help me when i get in 2 years...

My time spent learning algorithms and mathemathics that bore me with lack of practicality could be spent working on my own projects...

What do you think, is a degree in CS important for someone who is able to employ himself and (soon) others?

1 point by Gupie 18 hours ago 0 replies      
"I left shortly after IPO to pursue other interests."


1 point by azrealus 1 day ago 0 replies      
awesome and inspiring story. thank you for sharing.
1 point by ashbrahma 1 day ago 0 replies      
What does he do now?
1 point by lken 14 hours ago 0 replies      
this guy sounds like a barnacle. good for him though.
1 point by pcampbell 22 hours ago 0 replies      
miracles favor the bold.
-2 points by chopsueyar 1 day ago 0 replies      
How much did he cash out for?
-4 points by tedjdziuba 1 day ago 0 replies      
Cool story, bro.
My winter break project " Silk weavesilk.com
385 points by yurivish 8 hours ago   61 comments top 33
21 points by bgraves 7 hours ago 2 replies      
Stunning! Can you give us some technical details? How are you producing the images (libraries, custom scripts, etc.)? I've thought about a project like this (your execution is light-years ahead of anything I could accomplish) using Nodebox -perhaps- as an excuse to learn something new about python.

Edit: I see it's in JavaScript? Excellent! Any other tools or techniques you found helpful would be interesting to read. Congrats!

31 points by adatta02 8 hours ago 5 replies      
That looks pretty amazing.

Check out Fracture - http://www.fractureme.com/ - I bet they would look unreal printed with their tech.

7 points by jcr 8 hours ago 1 reply      
I'm probably the wrong person to reply here...

As someone who never uses "desktop" or "background" images, I actually do think the example images are beautiful and enjoyable.

I'll admit there are probably very few idiots like me who refuse to use background image decorations, but let me explain why as well as what.

The background image I use on X is called the "root weave" and although it is horribly ugly, it is exceedingly useful. The "root weave" image is designed to help you detect errors in display rendering. If there's something wrong in your display drivers, display settings, or even cable connections, the refresh makes the root weave look like it's moving and can show other very obvious signs of corruption.

I got into this function-over-fashion mindset many decades ago when it was very easy to destroy a very expensive display by configuring or driving it the wrong way. Modern displays typically have safe-guards to prevent destroying equipment, but my ancient habit is still very useful for debugging.

The X.org and XFree code base includes the rootweave and a few other similar images designed to help identify display problems. You might have fun incorporating the ideas behind these test images into something more beautiful to look at?

2 points by jarin 1 hour ago 0 replies      
That is beautiful! I made a piece that I call "God's Commode"


4 points by jackowayed 6 hours ago 1 reply      
This is awesome.

Making it so users can download the silks they make would be nice. Using your silk as my background is cool, but using my own is even better :)

2 points by Encosia 5 hours ago 1 reply      

  $(function() {
if ($.browser.msie) // Sorry, I tried. && $.browser.version < 9)

What was the deal breaker in IE9, out of curiosity?

7 points by jessevondoom 5 hours ago 0 replies      
You just mesmerized my four year old " she sat still longer than I've seen in ages. If beautiful interactive visualization ever gets old I think you have a future in toddler mind control...
2 points by albertsun 6 hours ago 2 replies      
I love how the instructions are presented one at a time each time you start a new Silk. It's subtle and it's great as I can immediately get started and each time I do it again I have a new feature to play with.
2 points by Alex3917 6 hours ago 0 replies      
It's cool to see this sort of technology in a web browser, although for the iPhone/iPad I think some of the pre-existing generative art apps are currently better: Art of Glow, SpawnHD, Little Uzu, etc. I'm sure this is still a work on progress, but just make sure you keep an eye on what's already out there.
6 points by grncdr 4 hours ago 2 replies      
I'm finding the shift+mouse isn't working (using Firefox 4 beta 7 on Linux)
3 points by mcgraw 4 hours ago 0 replies      
It's been said, but I can't help but write my own comment. Excellent execution on this project.
2 points by DamonOehlman 4 hours ago 1 reply      
Absolutely gorgeous. Will be interested to see how our iOS version goes. I'm not sure if it will be of any help, but I have written an interaction "helper" library that is designed to make handling mouse and touch events consistent. If it is something that is useful, then let me know if you have any questions or suggestions.


1 point by istvanp 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Perhaps I missed it but is there a way to export the result into an image?

I've seen it done in a similar canvas project called Harmony (http://mrdoob.com/projects/harmony/)

It would be nice to have an infinite amount of Silk wallpapers that you created yourself or by others :)

1 point by code_duck 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Great work! I was just inspired to start learning to work with canvas myself today, which will be my first graphics programming since the C64. It's pretty exciting once you start thinking about the possibilities of math applied to colors.
2 points by erreon 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Absolutely beautiful. I am not very "artistic" but it sure gave me the feeling like I was. Can't wait to see how the experience turns out on the mobile devices. I hope you decide to give it a go on Android devices as well.
3 points by mdolon 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Great work, it's simply stunningly beautiful. I think (and hope) your iPhone/iPad apps will do well, best of luck!
1 point by RyanMcGreal 3 hours ago 0 replies      
I particularly like the additive mixing. Fantastic implementation.
1 point by javadi82 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Is there a way I could save the "silks" that I create?

If not, would you please consider implementing it?

1 point by getsat 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Wow. Take note, people. This is how you present your product. Not with pages of lame marketing copy, show it in action!

Great site! I'm using the "rainbow on black" on my secondary cinema display now. Correct resolution and everything. Thanks! :)

2 points by chubs 3 hours ago 0 replies      
Please make a screensaver out of this!
1 point by vaksel 7 hours ago 2 replies      
as far as suggestions it really needs the undo button.

Also the new button really needs to be more prominent

1 point by prawn 5 hours ago 0 replies      
1 point by d0mine 3 hours ago 0 replies      
Silk + electricsheep-like selection = screensaver


2 points by barredo 7 hours ago 0 replies      

Note: I'll gladly pay a few euros for the iPad version

2 points by CountHackulus 7 hours ago 0 replies      
The democoder in me loves this. Very well done, and an awesome effect.
2 points by whackedspinach 4 hours ago 1 reply      
I can't seem to get the shift+mouse to control the wind to work using Chromium on Linux.
1 point by TeMPOraL 5 hours ago 0 replies      
The replay button reminds me of the Achron game (an up-coming Meta-Time RTS). Basically, you can start drawing, then press Replay and draw some more on the replay, and then press Replay again... looks amazing :D. Nice work :).
2 points by andresmh 6 hours ago 0 replies      
I love how this is all JS (no Flash!). Impressive. BTW this reminds me a bit to my friend's project http://glowdoodle.com
1 point by tlack 7 hours ago 0 replies      
I'd love some control over the coloration and some ideas of how my mouse drags can affect the final result.
1 point by inovica 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Wow, that is lovely! Can you do a blog post on what you did and what you used? Well done
1 point by aeontech 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Very impressive... simple-looking but so polished... Amazing job, congratulations!
1 point by muloka 4 hours ago 0 replies      
I like the simplicity of this, this would be really fun as a Quartz Composer patch.
0 points by niico 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Me gusta!
NYT Review of ‘The 4-Hour Body' nytimes.com
379 points by tysone 4 days ago   201 comments top 42
74 points by edw519 4 days ago 3 replies      
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!

90 points by pchristensen 4 days ago 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.

65 points by AlexC04 4 days 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.

38 points by lionhearted 4 days ago 1 reply      
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.

37 points by teye 4 days ago 2 replies      
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.

32 points by SandB0x 4 days ago 2 replies      
This book sounds like it was written by Ron Burgundy.
10 points by DanielBMarkham 4 days ago 1 reply      
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

25 points by phren0logy 4 days ago 4 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.

21 points by fooandbarify 4 days ago 3 replies      
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.
12 points by keeptrying 4 days 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.

22 points by DanielRibeiro 4 days 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

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

- it's an entertaining read.

5 points by Eliezer 4 days ago 1 reply      
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.
19 points by _pius 4 days ago 3 replies      
One of the most intellectually lazy book reviews I've ever read. All snark, no substance.
35 points by tgrass 4 days 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 zackattack 4 days ago 3 replies      
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 runjake 3 days ago 0 replies      
I've scoffed at his claims of 5K to 50K in 12 weeks, in the past. I went from couch potato to runner. I've run several marathons and ultras and have done quite a bit of experimenting on my body over the years. I managed to borrow a copy of this book tonight and pounded through quite a bit of it.

From what I read, it's actually 4 weeks of bone/muscle/ligament conditioning, followed by 12 weeks of running training -- IF you can run a 5K at an 8:00 pace or faster. If you can't, then yep, you guessed it, more training time.

This is doable and pretty much falls in line with conventional training (though Tim reorganizes it a little bit, and throws in the all important and generally under-emphasized benefits of cross-training), but it isn't "in 12 weeks" at all.

I've done quite a bit of iterative experimenting with cross-training (especially cycling and swimming) and it unilaterally improved my running speeds and my long run recovery times.

His graphs and charts seem rather superfluous to me. Meant to intimidate rather than inform.

I'm not so concerned about permanent damage because of the initial 4 week conditioning process. If you're not already a seasoned runner, this program will take you as long or longer as Galloway or Joe Henderson's training plans.

His advice and data are solid, but don't meet his "in 12 weeks" mark. As far as I know, he still hasn't actually run 50K. The book links to http://www.fourhourbody.com/ultra for his results, but its still a dead page.

18 points by jsmcgd 4 days 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.
7 points by mhd 4 days 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.

25 points by doyoulikeworms 4 days ago 10 replies      
5 points by micaelwidell 4 days 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 4 days ago 2 replies      
"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.

5 points by treeface 4 days 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.
7 points by Aaronontheweb 4 days ago 3 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.
6 points by tchock23 4 days ago 3 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).

3 points by mkramlich 3 days ago 0 replies      
I'm going to write a book with two pages in it. Page one will say "Eat Right!" in a big bold font. Page two will have "Exercise!" on it. A few years later I'll release revised versions with extra chapters, er, I mean, pages, with statements like "Sleep Well!" and "Relax, Don't Worry!", etc. I mean, all I have to do is just promote the hell out of it.
4 points by pohl 4 days ago 0 replies      
Dwight Garner: if you can hear me, I just want you to know that this review was all kinds of awesome.
2 points by brianmwang 4 days ago 3 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.

3 points by ojbyrne 4 days ago 1 reply      
The funny thing is, the scathing review almost makes me want to read the book. Almost.
3 points by catshirt 4 days ago 0 replies      
imho, it's equally negligent to deny it entirely as it is to accept it entirely.
2 points by kylecordes 4 days 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.


1 point by zavulon 4 days 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.

2 points by awongh 3 days ago 0 replies      
tl; dr: “The 4-Hour Body” reads as if The New England Journal of Medicine had been hijacked by the editors of the SkyMall catalog.
1 point by nir 4 days 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 4 days 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.

2 points by omeega 4 days ago 0 replies      
I find that aggregate amazon reviews are fairly accurate. Im surprised by the high reviews.
1 point by thinkdifferent 3 days ago 1 reply      
I have developed an interest in health and longevity and I read this book.
Full of many interesting ideas, but I was left a bit lost.
I'm going to try his Occam mass gaining protocol, which is entirely taken from Doug McGuff 'Body by Science'.

I'm still a bit skeptical because I think that if something really works,sooner or later it will be adopted by the professional in the field.

But bodybuilder (even natural ones) are still trainig in the classical way...

1 point by yters 2 days ago 0 replies      
The only body hack I want is infinite will power for all practical purposes. Everything else is just a footnote.
1 point by alecco 4 days ago 1 reply      
And don't miss his upcoming book "The 4-hour hair-loss"!
1 point by protez 4 days 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 oldstrangers 3 days ago 3 replies      
I'm curious if he has a 4-Hour hack for curing his male pattern baldness.
1 point by jschuur 4 days ago 0 replies      
They had me at 'beguiling'.
Chart of YC companies' hosting decisions, 2010 edition github.com
333 points by jf 3 days ago   162 comments top 32
50 points by lacker 3 days ago 6 replies      
Our company (Gamador) is listed as hosting from "Global Net Access LLC" which I had never heard of - we just use Linode. So there might be some Linode undercounting going on.
32 points by redstripe 3 days ago 4 replies      
So despite the vociferous defense app engine received here about a month ago after some criticism it looks like no YC companies actually use it?
32 points by birken 3 days ago 6 replies      
Very surprising so many people use Godaddy for their DNS, given it is very slow as far as DNS servers go. I've been running a Pingdom speed/reliability test for a few popular DNS servers for the past few months, and here is the data:

<dns provider> <uptime %> <downtime> <outages> <avg speed>

Godaddy DNS 100.00% 0h 00m 00s 0 68 ms
Dynect SMB 100.00% 0h 00m 00s 0 31 ms
DNSMadeEasy 100.00% 0h 00m 00s 0 39 ms

Godaddy DNS 100.00% 0h 00m 00s 0 67 ms
Dynect SMB 100.00% 0h 00m 00s 0 26 ms
DNSMadeEasy 99.98% 0h 10m 00s 1 43 ms

Godaddy DNS 99.99% 0h 05m 00s 1 58 ms
Dynect SMB 100.00% 0h 00m 00s 0 28 ms
DNSMadeEasy 99.00% 7h 25m 00s 22 40 ms

So basically Godaddy DNS is reliable but slow, DNSMadeEasy is relatively fast but had some uptime troubles in December, and Dynect (Dyn Inc) is fast + super reliable.

As for pricing:

- Godaddy DNS is free (I think?)

- DNSMadeEasy runs about $2-5/month (max of 10 million queries/month)

- Dynect SMB runs between $30-95/month depending on what you need (max of 1.8 million queries/month)

13 points by d_r 3 days ago 0 replies      
I'm surprised not to see more alternatives to GoDaddy for registrars (say, NameCheap.) GoDaddy interface and upselling are simply infuriating and I've always thought of it as a "Wal-Mart for domains/etc," not something a tech-savvy startup would use.
4 points by ghshephard 3 days ago 5 replies      
I find this chart fascinating - though I'm wondering how much of Rackspace is Rackspace "Cloud" and how much of Rackspace is "VPS". Also, I'm embarrassed to admit that I'd never heard of SoftLayer as a server hosting company - I wonder what the attraction there is.

For Web Hosts it comes (roughly) to:

  o Amazon EC2
o Rackspace Cloud
o Self Hosted (Surprisingly large number)
o Slicehost
o Hurricane Electric (which is likely self hosted? EDIT (per jedsmith) Linode?)

Two things I found very, very surprising.

  #1 - Small use of Linode 
#2 - How much Rackspace is used more than Slicehost.

Anybody care to comment on why SoftLayer is so predominant?

8 points by Sukotto 3 days ago 1 reply      
I'm interested in seeing aggregates of technology choices like: primary database, main programming language(s), frameworks, etc
8 points by haribilalic 3 days ago 1 reply      
I'd like to move my email away from Google Apps, for various reasons, but they have the best spam filter by far. It's worth sticking with them just for that.
12 points by philfreo 3 days ago 2 replies      
Doesn't YC have a special discount with one or more of the hosting providers, which might be influencing decisions?
6 points by klochner 3 days ago 5 replies      
Anyone that's self-hosting email care to explain why they're doing it? Seems like something that makes no sense to do internally until you start getting more "enterprisey".
6 points by daniel_levine 3 days ago 2 replies      
I'm not affiliated with the company in anyway, but I'm a big fan of http://iwantmyname.com/ for domain registration. Super quick and easy especially if you're using Heroku or GAE.

It's depressing how little GoDaddy has innovated and how dominant it still is.

5 points by jedberg 3 days ago 2 replies      
Is this only pre-acquisition companies?

Where's reddit? ;)


Web Host: EC2 (Amazon)

Email Host: Self hosted

DNS Host: Akamai

Registrar: Corporation Service Company

SSL Issuer: None

Certificate Type: None

8 points by olalonde 3 days ago 3 replies      
I'm surprised Slicehost is not present. Perhaps is it included in Rackspace?
6 points by Encosia 3 days ago 1 reply      
Surprised to see no one using Linode.
3 points by c2 3 days ago 2 replies      
Loopt is self hosted? Is that actually cost effective? I can understand a company like justin.tv being self hosted, but loopt makes less sense to me.
4 points by xsc 3 days ago 1 reply      
Seems like a few companies have chosen WebFaction for email hosting. Any specific reason?
1 point by vaksel 3 days ago 3 replies      
I think it's very telling that something like 60% of YC companies have a SSL certificate...means they are most likely processing some financial transactions, so they charge their users directly

it's also interesting that so many are using the hurricane electric host...never even heard of them before

3 points by onteria 3 days ago 1 reply      
Oh, a bit of a side note on hosting for startups. I know many people want to save costs by centralizing hosting, but as a word of advice keep your database, mail, and web servers separated. By not doing so you've created a single point of failure. Not only that, but it makes securing things appropriately more difficult (ie. you are unable to create only web server specific firewall rules for the server).
3 points by dguido 3 days ago 0 replies      
I love that despite all the Firesheep business, about half of the companies on that list don't even own an SSL certificate. :-(
3 points by callmeed 3 days ago 2 replies      
So, no YC companies on Rails use Heroku? (or is that lumped into Amazon?)
3 points by dtran 3 days ago 2 replies      
This is pretty cool Joel! Small nitpick - Zerigo is spelled incorrectly as "Zeroigo".
2 points by Aegean 3 days ago 1 reply      
what is the catch with google as email hosting? we use rackspace, it seems nobody is using rackspace for email. What is the criteria in choosing email hosting?
5 points by blahpro 3 days ago 1 reply      
I'm surprised that no"one is using Linode.
1 point by aneth 3 days ago 0 replies      
Great to see godaddy successfully disrupting the ripoff ssl certificate market.
1 point by ivankirigin 3 days ago 0 replies      
Missing are data stores. Web store isn't the same thing. I'd like to see the percentage that use S3.
1 point by jim_h 3 days ago 1 reply      
I don't see any prgmr.com hosting. I've seen it mentioned quite a few times in when people were looking for hosting.
2 points by dsmithn 3 days ago 0 replies      
Google Apps uses Go Daddy for domain registration. Would that be why there are similar number of Google Email users and Go Daddy Registrars?
1 point by corin_ 3 days ago 0 replies      
Surprised to see none of them using Route 53. Suspect that won't be the case in a year's time.
1 point by nopassrecover 1 day ago 0 replies      
Surprised how few of these I knew, considering I read HN pretty regularly
2 points by xhtmlweaver 3 days ago 0 replies      
i am very surprised that linode is not in the chart for webhosting section! something must be wrong
1 point by eurohacker 2 days ago 0 replies      
would have been even better if the "language decisions" would also be included - what programming language each startup has
1 point by tsycho 3 days ago 1 reply      
I am surprised to see no heroku.
1 point by bauchidgw 3 days ago 0 replies      
best charts ever
Learning Advanced JavaScript ejohn.org
245 points by shawndumas 15 hours ago   25 comments top 11
15 points by rauljara 15 hours ago 1 reply      
Really smart tutoring tool. I've seen other tutorials with editable javascript examples, but I think the combination of well chosen examples, use of asserts, and nice design brings it to a whole new level.
22 points by ximeng 15 hours ago 0 replies      
Previous discussion for reference:


9 points by andreyf 14 hours ago 0 replies      
While we're on the topic of great JavaScript references for people learning the language, this one is worth considering: http://eloquentjavascript.net/

The author's open source projects are quite pedagogical, as well: https://github.com/marijnh/

5 points by rudenoise 15 hours ago 2 replies      
I think this is probably a re-post, but worth repeating for those who may have missed it.

Complete this, read JavaScript The Good Parts and JS becomes more pleasurable. If you're interested in improving, I highly recommend taking an hour to work through this tutorial in the console.

2 points by onteria 11 hours ago 0 replies      
For those really wanting to learn JavaScript, I also recommend reading the Ecma 262 standard it is based upon:


It will help you understand how the core of the language works. I also keep the Mozilla Javascript Reference:


handy for looking things up. For the browser compatibility side:


2 points by endtime 13 hours ago 0 replies      
I didn't know about function.length; the function overloading trick in the last section is pretty clever.
3 points by ez77 12 hours ago 4 replies      
A bit off topic: what is your interactive JS sandbox? (Firebug, Chrome console, Rhino... ?)
2 points by joakin 12 hours ago 0 replies      
I've learnt a lot from this, but still digesting some parts of it. Thanks a lot, I missed it the other time
0 points by shirtless_coder 3 hours ago 0 replies      
It's sad that there are so many copy-pasters out there in the javascript world that this is called "advanced" and not introductory.
1 point by iamuzer 8 hours ago 2 replies      
I learned today, by chance, that you can reference an element object directly by its name without having to do a document.getElementById.
-4 points by robinduckett 13 hours ago 0 replies      
This is really nice, but I guess I already knew this stuff.
SOAP: The 'S' stands for simple (not really) cat-v.org
240 points by preek 3 days ago   85 comments top 32
29 points by lkrubner 3 days ago 1 reply      
The original article is here:


I am glad to see it get more attention. It is a classic and it is really about more than SOAP. It is about the way technologies get hyped and over-sold and over-promised, and then made unusably complicated. SOAP is just the example.

16 points by Sidnicious 3 days ago 1 reply      
This is great. My (so far, only) experience with SOAP started when my boss asking me to investigate the new version of a (very big) vendor's SOAP API. Support for the old version of the API was being dropped in a few days.

It turns out that our framework has SOAP built in, so I had it suck in the WSDL and make a sample request. It was rejected with a generic error. As it turns out, our framework was generating requests that looked like this (simplified with much SOAP nonsense stripped out):

<Authenticate xmlns="http://bigcorp.example.com/elements/global">…</Authenticate>

…and the requests in the API documentation look like this:

  <SOAP-ENV:Envelope xmlns:bigcorp="http://bigcorp.example.com/elements/global">

the difference being that our framework declares a "default namespace", while their API expected a "namespace prefix". As far as I could tell from reading the spec (always a bad sign when you're using a standard that both ends support) the difference shouldn't matter.

- - -

I went to my boss. He showed me the old code; all the requests it needs to make are hardcoded based on the docs, and substitute XML-encoded variables in the right places.

Save a few minor changes, that's the process we still use today, and it fucking works.

18 points by jan_g 3 days ago 2 replies      
Must be ~5 years since I last used SOAP. Needless to say I hated the stuff. Complex to build, complex to use (interoperability between different stacks - java/.net/... - was like 'cross your fingers and hope for the best'), complex to debug and walk through tcpdump network packets. It's complex in every way but the name.

Of course, since that times I've alway advised against web services and so far I've succeeded in avoiding them.

23 points by chrisbroadfoot 3 days ago 1 reply      
My worst memory of SOAP was dealing with an attachments API that required each byte in a byte array to be wrapped in an XML element.

You ended up transferring ~10x the size of the file. I suppose gzip would have helped somewhat.

15 points by Jeema3000 3 days ago 1 reply      
I will now share my secret SOAP API Pro Method:

Step 1: Ignore all tools which supposedly make things easier (very important)

Step 2: Find the web service API documentation

Step 3: Ctrl-C example XML request

Step 4: Ctrl-V example XML request into program, replacing appropriate parts with program variables

Step 5: Parse the response. You're on your own here... Godspeed. :)

7 points by orangecat 3 days ago 2 replies      
We have the misfortune of dealing with a third party SOAP API at my office. My coworker did it the "correct" way, autogenerating thousands of lines of C# from the WSDL and trying to get the objects transparently serialized and deserialized. That turned out to be a multi-week effort, so finally I got fed up and spent 4 hours writing code to directly extract the values we needed from the raw XML.
11 points by st3fan 3 days ago 0 replies      
SOAP really just exists to keep a tools/consulting/appserver/softwarestack business alive. Pretty sad.
15 points by dminor 3 days ago 4 replies      
I think it's a law that any protocol or technology with 'simple' in the name invariably isn't.
7 points by RyanMcGreal 3 days ago 0 replies      
This wonderful Socratic dialogue has articulated my professional hell over the past six months.
13 points by ahupp 3 days ago 1 reply      
At one time SOAP wasn't too bad, until it tried to solve a lot of complicated problems (via WS-*), and in the process made the simple problems complex. Contrast this with HTTP which is being used for ever-more complex problems yet is really no more complicated in the simple case than it was in 2000. This seems like an important principle in protocol design.
6 points by bockris 3 days ago 0 replies      
Reminds me of the "Why I hate frameworks" essay by Benji Smith.


5 points by colinloretz 3 days ago 2 replies      
I do a lot of Salesforce.com development and the use of SOAP has been the bane of my existence. They have recently introduced a new REST API that will be going GA in the spring.

"Dev: What happens if I GET the endpoint's URL?

SG: Don't know. Using GET is undefined.

Dev: Hrrm. And what happens if I move the service to a different endpoint? Do I get a 301 back?

SG: No. SOAP doesn't really use HTTP response codes.

Dev: So, when you said SOAP uses HTTP, what you meant to say is SOAP tunnels over HTTP."

The beauty of REST is that it is representative of how the web works. With SOAP you're almost always limited to the use of POST methods and when I go to read another developer's code, I see their own defined nouns and verbs for resources they are sending/receiving like "getUsers", "getContacts", and "createPerson". These often are ambiguous or don't match up with the actual resource they are trying to work with.

Endpoints in REST are self documenting, you can read what it is that you're trying to do based on the endpoint and the HTTP verb (put, post, delete, et al)

7 points by tomelders 3 days ago 1 reply      
I feel a bit sad for all those people who worked on SOAP. I assume most of them simply wanted to make the web better and now we all point and laugh at their efforts with the 20/20 vision that only hindsight can allow.

Thanks for trying SOAP people, it was a noble effort but it's game over I'm afraid.... oh wait, I just saw on Wikipedia that these were Microsoft people. In that case, screw em. SOAP is wank! YOU'VE WASTED YOUR LIVES!!

3 points by aidenn0 3 days ago 0 replies      
SOAP has always seemed bizarre to me. It's something like "We think CORBA was a good idea, but they messed some stuff up, so we'll toss the entirety of CORBA and make something with a completely new set of problems while completely ignoring most of the mistakes we learned with CORBA."

I'm still luke-warm at best on the whole ORB idea as-is, but even thinking from the point of view of someone who thinks object brokers are the best thing since sliced bread, I feel like the SOAP people got it very wrong.

4 points by dedward 3 days ago 0 replies      
It crosses some layer boundaries too.... having to manually edit (or I guess dynamically generate) wsdl files so that we can add a reverse proxy or load balancer in front of a webservice machine to access it several different ways in .net was definitely a pain in the butt.
12 points by grnknight 3 days ago 0 replies      
Wow. This sums up my entire exposure to SOAP over the last few months. Thanks for the humorous, yet factual exchange of information!
3 points by Aaronontheweb 3 days ago 0 replies      
The only thing I like about SOAP's modern implementation is that it comes packaged with a WSDL usually - I would welcome a world where most REST APIs included a WSDL so I could just automatically stub a wrapper library.
3 points by ojbyrne 3 days ago 1 reply      
The "Simple" in SOAP is seriously overtrumped by the "Simple" in SNMP.
1 point by Confusion 2 days ago 1 reply      
It's easy to rant, but hard to come up with a viable alternative, that encompasses the same scope. XML-schema and WSDL are mocked as an aside, but I dare you to provide me a REST alternative for those, as standardized as those. For all the horror stories, I have used Java to interact with a C# webservice without any pain, including WS-Adressing. The WSDL and XML-schema were a godsend compared to the earlier spec.

Like people that think you can just replace XML with JSON: you are missing stuff.

8 points by erikstarck 3 days ago 0 replies      
Design-by-committee in action...
3 points by mike-cardwell 3 days ago 0 replies      
Eurgh. Reminds me of writing Perl code to talk to .NET SOAP services in a previous job. Never again.
2 points by otoburb 3 days ago 0 replies      
Some previously implemented projects implemented a SOAP prepaid account balance billing interface that runs in production today. Nobody is willing to touch the interface for modifications because every developer tasked to review proposed changes complain that it's way too brittle and prone to complexity.

This article is bittersweet because it sums up everybody's feelings pre- and post- implementation.

2 points by motters 3 days ago 0 replies      
I never did anything using SOAP, and thought that this technology died many years ago.
1 point by Rabidgremlin 3 days ago 2 replies      
Love it. However at least SOAP is a spec and generally works.

REST is an architectural style there is no spec, just a idea! Added to that most folk also only build REST-like services.

Implementing a client for REST based services often requires a bunch of (generally simple) coding which takes time and is error prone.

Also pure REST is really good for building data access/CRUD services but makes it hard to build RPC type services without mangling the semantics.

5 points by bediger 3 days ago 4 replies      
Why did SOAP win, and XMLRPC not win?
2 points by iwwr 2 days ago 0 replies      
Could it be that SOAP never had a solid set of test cases? Implementing a reasonably complex API should involve passing a series of public and very specific tests.
2 points by naba 3 days ago 0 replies      
Sigh. this article made me a little sad. I keep wondering why the corporates who have all the money and resources keep using a technology that is just so old and has so many issues, when they have the better alternatives.
My entire week was spent in just trying to get the configuration and a hello world service up and running.
1 point by ph33t 3 days ago 0 replies      
Let me preface this by saying I'm not particularly a microsoft basher, however this smacks of their history of interface development. Remember COM in the 90's? It was so complicated no one really knew how it worked. The only way to use it was to use a compiler that had native support for it ... MS Visual Studio and MS VB. Delphi came a long way quickly and made it work. Anyway whether intended or not, the result was you were initially tied to using a MS tool to use the technology. SOAP seems the same. Odds are if you're writing one end of it or another (client or server) somewhere the mix you're going to have a Microsoft tool. If you want to talk to the product of that Microsoft tool by far the easiest way will be to use a Microsoft tool. So despite being "open", their implementation of it ties you into some vendor-specific tools.
1 point by MarkMc 2 days ago 0 replies      
"I trust that the guys who wrote this have been shot."

Ha ha! I must remember this put-down - it could be used in so many contexts :)

1 point by mcherm 3 days ago 0 replies      
Oh god... that's my life!
1 point by nervechannel 3 days ago 0 replies      
As an ex-SOAP-dev... Yeah.
-1 point by yogipatel 3 days ago 0 replies      
I stopped using SOAP in the shower a month ago and have never felt cleaner. Showering is a more efficient process now:

- I spend less money on resources (SOAP, lotion, etc)

- I get clean faster -- SOAP used to slow me down

- Using someone else's shower is easy, I just take my towel. I don't have to worry if their SOAP is compatible with me.

Obama administration moves forward with unique Internet ID for all Americans engadget.com
236 points by Stevenup7002 1 day ago   181 comments top 35
46 points by lionhearted 1 day ago 1 reply      
Profile: Sebastian Marshall. Internet ID 353-808-A331. Known aliases: "lionhearted". Primary contact info: sebastian@sebastianmarshall.com

Political positions: A believer in liberty, pro-international travel and open borders, tends towards mild hostility towards regulation. Generally law-abiding.

Friendliness to American Interests Rating (FAIR): 72/100

23 points by rlpb 1 day ago 7 replies      
We are going to end up with something sooner or later.

The fact is that we want (and can) enter into contracts on the Internet. In order to enforce contracts we must have identities. Since the Government (specifically the judiciary) enforces contracts, this means that we must be entering into these contracts under Government-managed identities.

Currently we acquire and prove this Government-managed identity using an ad-hoc, decentralised, system with much duplication. I can use a passport or my driver's license or my birth certificate or perhaps some utility bills or some combination. This causes various problems, including fraud and waste.

If two parties mutually choose to enter into a contract over the Internet, and this contract is to be enforced by the judiciary, then it would be ideal for them to be able to verify each others' legal entities and authorisation. I think that properly implemented this could eliminate a large amount of online fraud.

Nothing about the principle of such a system inherently creates privacy problems, since when parties enter into a contract they already expect to reveal their identities to each other, and nothing would necessarily be forcing people to reveal their identities in any other situation, just the same as is the case at the moment.T here is a risk of a slippery slope of course; I can't deny that.

There's no reason such a system has to be centralised, though. X.509 certificates would work fine, for example, issued at the same time as a birth certificate, with each local office as a CA.

Unfortunately, the problem is with implementation. I don't think that any government is competent enough to put a system together that does meet privacy requirements, and there are too many self-interested parties who would influence and corrupt the design of such a system.

86 points by jrockway 1 day ago replies      
I'll be getting one of these when hell freezes over. If that means starting my own Internet, then that's exactly what I'll do.
40 points by motters 1 day ago 3 replies      
If it waddles like a national ID system and quacks like a national ID system, then it's probably a national ID system. Here in the UK we are fortunate to have recently dumped plans for a national ID system. Americans should do the same.
23 points by bigsassy 1 day ago 4 replies      
This article is pretty light on details. Here's a quote from the White House Cybersecurity Coordinator Howard Schmidt:

Schmidt stressed today that anonymity and pseudonymity will remain possible on the Internet. "I don't have to get a credential, if I don't want to," he said. There's no chance that "a centralized database will emerge," and "we need the private sector to lead the implementation of this," he said.

Read more: http://news.cnet.com/8301-31921_3-20027800-281.html#ixzz1AZD...

13 points by bretpiatt 1 day ago 1 reply      
I shared my thoughts in detail about this more than a year ago, we should get out in front or as now coming true my prediction was, "As private industry and a world society I hope we can take care of this ourselves before it gets so out of control Congress tries to figure out how to do it and we end up with some horrible mess of a “National ID and Digital Identity Act” that looks at it only from the perspective of the USA and makes it very difficult for non-US citizens to do anything online (as most of the major Internet properties are US based) creating a whole new barrier for 3rd world citizens to overcome."


76 points by flyt 1 day ago 1 reply      
The silver lining is that by the time this project goes through study after study, development, testing, and finally deployment 5-10 years will have passed and the Internet will fundamentally change in ways that either makes this instantly irrelevant or impossible to enforce.
10 points by trotsky 1 day ago 1 reply      
Actual draft of the proposal from June 2010:


Note that if [generic scary three letter agency] wants to spy on you it's already quite easy for them to do so (see FISA, CALEA, NSLs, Sugar Grove, etc).

21 points by StavrosK 1 day ago 10 replies      
Is this done anywhere else in the world? It is the scariest of the scary Big Brother measures I've seen recently...
4 points by nlavezzo 1 day ago 0 replies      
To those who would say "it'll be optional - you won't need one to search Google, check you email, etc." I point out that there are already huge efforts to track people across domains and build profiles of them. Private companies are ALREADY slobbering over this, and paying good money for even anonymized datasets. If this system goes into practice, it will simply be good business for websites to require your ID as part of the signup process. Also, open networks (like attwifi, etc.) may begin to require these as well. They could build nice juicy datasets of the Starbucks laptop crowd, and believe me they'd be hot selling items.

That's probably a best case scenario by the way. How long until it's mandated that your ISP has your internet ID, and public networks (attwifi, etc.) are required to get it to let you out into the internet?

5 points by davidcuddeback 1 day ago 1 reply      
This sounds very Orwellian, but I doubt much will become of this. Based on the statement the article attributes to Locke, it sounds like they're selling it to us as a single sign-on provider. Somehow, I doubt this will become as popular as current single sign-on providers such as Facebook or Google without legislation.
10 points by daveman692 1 day ago 1 reply      
This headline is actually pretty misleading. From what I've seen of the project, it is not about the government issuing online identities. Rather they've realized that people already have identities from services like Facebook and Google as well as banks.

This project is aimed at making it possible for people to interact with government agencies using identities they already have. Some interactions require very little security and knowledge of who a person is (leaving a comment here for example) while others (paying your taxes) require quite a bit.

6 points by Twisol 1 day ago 0 replies      
4 points by ulugbek 1 day ago 1 reply      
I can sympathize with discontent about this, but almost nobody has brought up the positive uses of unique Internet ID.

Suppose you want a system where you want to signal to all internet companies that you don't want your browsing data to be harbored without your consent. The ID system would allow the creation and enforcement of such system.

The support for this comes in part because of pressure from the groups who are concerned about privacy and fretting over how their browsing data is used. While infringement of privacy hampers the growth of ecommerce, complete ban on harboring data hurts e-businesses (they won't be able to advertise efficiently). The solution to it is to create a free market: assign everyone a unique id, to which your preferences about harboring date will be assigned. Even better, data associated with that id can be considered proprietary, and users can license it to companies who are willing to pay for it and users can sue companies that infringe on this proprietary data bc courts will recognize it as solely yours. This is a good start if government wants to step in to protect your privacy from the "evil" corporations, while not hindering the growth of e-businesses.

Ideally, you will be protected from corporations who are after your private data. Government, however, will surely continue using it the way you don't want.

2 points by Groxx 1 day ago 0 replies      
In a blue block on page 18 of http://www.dhs.gov/xlibrary/assets/ns_tic.pdf :

>Envision It!

An individual learns of a new and more secure way to
access online services using a strong credential
provided by a trustworthy service provider.

Running this past my parents was met with a blank stare, followed by "what?". And they're significantly better about their online habits than most people, especially the ones they're targeting with a system like this. Anyone interested in identity online already has several means of proving they are who they say they are, and can generate X.509 certificates to provide ridiculous-quality proof for individual transactions.

While I fully expect something along these lines to exist eventually, I'm honestly scared by the sunshine-and-ponies descriptions in that document. They're also making enormous claims of universal interoperability that reek to me of XML/SOAP/etc evangelization - it never works that well.

(Link thanks to trotsky: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=2086135 )

3 points by younata 1 day ago 1 reply      
IANAL, but this is technically legal, so long as it's used ONLY for commerce, by means of the Interstate Commerce Clause of the US Constitution.

After that, it becomes unconstitutional, far as I know.

So, in other words, it's unconstitutional, because it won't be used only for commerce.

1 point by dkokelley 21 hours ago 0 replies      
This was a minor plot device in the book Ender's Game, where two super-intelligent children needed to borrow their father's network citizen access to post on the forums about their ideas. Obviously this isn't what the administration is suggesting, but it seems like a dangerous first step. I don't like it.

I'm happy with an optional OpenID-like system for stronger authentication and convenient access to account logins, but the system should be 100% optional. There's no way I'm going to trust anyone with the ability to masquerade as me through a closed system. Imagine using Facebook Connect or Google to log in to your bank. Facebook has no business involving me and my bank. It is between me and my bank only. And there is no reason for me to risk my full, unlimited online identity to a single provider like Facebook or Google. The government also has no business knowing who my bank or email provider of choice are.

2 points by drawkbox 1 day ago 1 reply      
This is a waste of time. Any good intelligence organization can already gain most or all or probably too much of the information they need from online actions, transactions, networks, posts/comments, protocol sniffing, ISP/ad network data, re-routing/copying traffic, social hacking, infected pcs, etc. And if you are encrypting, proxying, spoofing then you are Anonymous and already on the radar.

This Internet ID would just be a show piece.

2 points by contextfree 1 day ago 0 replies      
So far as I can tell what is actually being discussed is an official certification scheme for third-party identity providers. This would make it more feasible for third-party IDs to be accepted in contexts where they're currently not. I don't see how that can be reasonably characterized as a "unique Internet ID for all Americans", but whatevs.
2 points by watmough 1 day ago 0 replies      
And you can absolutely bet that this will be tied to a SSN and will be necessary in order to interact with the government.

In some ways, this is reminiscent of Microsoft's attempt to 'reboot the internet' with their own security code. I believe it was called Hailstorm.

1 point by ck2 1 day ago 0 replies      
Even if it is optional to start with, it's like every other government "security theater" nonsense and there will be mission-creep to make it mandatory sooner or later.

Absolutely no way this should be allowed to be enacted, in any form.

Government should simply enforce the existing spammer laws and ensure net neutrality.

1 point by ebaysucks 1 day ago 0 replies      
In a few years time, the government will block your access to the internet for not doing as you're told.

As all services become digital eventually, the guy controlling the central ID system will be able to literally let you starve to death.

The fight for internet freedom is really the most important one in human history. If we don't win, we'll end up with a government that can actually enforce ALL its laws ALL the time.

3 points by guynamedloren 1 day ago 0 replies      
Great, another channel for identity theft.
1 point by gersh 1 day ago 0 replies      
I think a government OAuth sounds like a good idea. Verifying your identity based on SSN is pretty insecure. If the commerce department can come up with a secure standard, it can seriously cut down on fraud. Internet anonymity is good for some things, but the government needs to stop people from borrowing in someone else's name.

Security will probably be challenge. This needs to be done right, but it has great potential for cutting down on fraud. With real identity, scammers can blacklisted, and honest can people can transact business better. Despite the FUD, I think this is actually good government.

1 point by knowledgesale 1 day ago 1 reply      
There are so many incentives for legislators to restrict the internet as we know it today and effectively no lobby to protect it. I am wondering if 10 years from now we are going to have much more "regulation and security" for the networks than now. Not only in the US, on the global scale. Who knows, it might be that the 90s-00s will be remembered as the only period in the human history when the truly free unregulated GLOBAL internet was possible.

This view might look naive and hype-provoking and indeed the internet proved to be very robust on the big scale so far. However I have read recently about the very limited visa regulations for travelling around the most of the world in the 19th century. kind of puts things into perspective.

1 point by w1ntermute 1 day ago 0 replies      
Is there anything in the legislation forcing businesses & their customers to use this ID for all transactions?
2 points by lwhi 1 day ago 0 replies      
One more stake in the heart of liberty.
0 points by sp4rki 1 day ago 1 reply      
Why is it that people insist on calling US citizens Americans? Canadians, Chileans, Brazilians, Panamanians, Colombians, etc are all Americans also, and this move does not apply to them at all. The American population is composed of everyone this side of the pond and not of everyone to the north only. Journalists should make a distinction.
1 point by bcheung 1 day ago 0 replies      
You can already sign up for a bank account online and prove you are who you say you are by inputting enough personal information so they can verify you.

Sure there is potential for identity theft but much less so than with what they are proposing now.

As far as single logins, there is already a well established solution with OpenID, OAuth, and the Log in with Facebook / Twitter style logins.

1 point by yters 17 hours ago 0 replies      
How long until a national ID turns into an international ID to combat terrorism?
1 point by dennisgorelik 1 day ago 0 replies      
Government tends to be inefficient in Internet business. The Government would screw things up in multiple ways: too slow, too expensive, too much corruption, not flexible etc.
0 points by eurohacker 13 hours ago 0 replies      
Gongradulations fello americans,

your illuminati oligarchs have promoted you, to become ID numbers with unique identity


-4 points by rman666 1 day ago 0 replies      
Mark of the Beast! Mark of the Beast!
-4 points by unoti 1 day ago 0 replies      
How the hell am I supposed to keep working under the table and dodging the IRS, if they're able to track me down because I just posted to Hacker News from this IP address?

God, it gives me a cold chill feeling just thinking about it.

-4 points by citricsquid 1 day ago 0 replies      
It seems everybody is opposed to this sort of thing, but I love the idea of having a single piece of ID that works universally. I guess there are issues with identity theft being made easier, but I think the benefits outweigh the "privacy" concerns.
Hard Core: What Porn's Ubiquity Says About Men and Women theatlantic.com
236 points by wallacrw 4 days ago   152 comments top 28
120 points by Eliezer 4 days ago replies      
Thinking that the flood of badly made, poorly scripted porn on the Internet reveals the secret darkness of male sexuality, is like thinking that an endless succession of awful movies from Hollywood reveals that people secretly want a poorly scripted sequel to the last blockbuster. What it reveals is that making good movies is difficult. It's like thinking that a flood of nitwit Web startups reveals that the economy really wants nitwit Web startups. If you're a venture capitalist, you may want better, but you'll have trouble finding it. Likewise if you're a movie viewer. And likewise if you're a man.

If you look at what the Internet has done to written pornography, you see exactly the reverse effect as what the article describes. I once picked up a book of published erotica that wasn't online, and holy crap was the quality vastly worse than what I now expect. Tawdry, pointless, plotless, emotionless, needlessly violent encounters - because, I presume, that is what the publishers think men want, because the publishers conceive of pornography as a sordid dirty thing and imagine themselves as exploiting it. But if you look at what men write, and what men want, when they are free to produce their own written erotica, then you find that the rise of the Internet has created, from scratch, the genre which I think is now known as the "erotic romance novel" and means, roughly, "well-written sex stories with plots and emotions in them". Publishers of erotica are only now just beginning to think about trying to sell books like that, after the Internet showed them there was a huge pent-up demand.

"Seduction is always more singular and sublime than sex and it commands the higher price," said Jean Baudrillard. In the days when written erotica was produced by publishers who looked down on it, no publisher knew how to write seduction. And today, when visual erotica is still seen as a tawdry and exploitive affair by the people who produce it, who still see themselves as pandering to the base desires of men, who still see plot as the domain only of real movies, there is no seduction in that visual erotica. You cannot find it, no matter how hard you look online. There are big-budget porn productions but not productions that spend more than five dollars on the script.

But in the domain of written erotica where getting started is as simple as owning a keyboard, and people don't bother writing if they're not having fun writing, and the producer is a lot like the consumer - people who like erotic literature - there you find plot. You find seduction. You find the "erotic romance novel".

That's not what all men want, I suppose; not what all men want all of the time. But it's what I demand as a matter of routine in my written erotica, and what I can't find in online movies (even if it's advertised as big-budget or woman-made, it just doesn't seem to exist).

And before anyone writes the obvious dumb reply, yes I have a girlfriend and no I do not apologize for consuming the form of art known as erotica anymore than I apologize for writing Harry Potter fanfiction.

58 points by axiom 4 days ago replies      
"While sexual aggression and the desire to debase women may not be what arouse all men, they are certainly an animating force of male sexuality. They may be unattractive and even, if taken to extremes, dangerous, but they're not, perhaps alas, deviant."

That's a pretty ugly thing to say and requires a bit more evidence than just the pervasiveness of online hard-code porn.

Inexplicably the author seems unaware of the contradiction in her article in pointing out (correctly) that the various porn sites online are dominated by mundane amateur content (housewives, random teenagers etc.) while claiming that online porn demonstrates how the male psyche is fueled by the need to hurt and humiliate women sexually (for example the double anal porn she cites about 15 times.)

31 points by praptak 4 days ago 1 reply      
"One of the most punishing realities women face when they reach sexual maturity is that their maturity is (at least to many men) unsexy. Indeed, we now have an entire genre of online smut politely called “Lolita Porn.” This is not actual child pornography, a genre still blessedly beyond the reach of the casual Web browser."

Ok, but for any X, X is (at least to many men) unsexy, as there's a lot of porn based on the opposite of X. Young age and beauty included, as evidenced by "mature" and "ugly" porn categories.

So the above statement does not really add much information, except maybe some indication of the author's bias. Picking this particular fetish of some men, associates the whole group with socially unacceptable behaviour. Moral panic, anyone?

36 points by cosgroveb 4 days ago 1 reply      
The article talks a lot about how male sexuality has a darker side and violence and coercion come in to play and perhaps is exemplified by porn. One of the examples she uses is the scene from Last Tango in Paris where Marlon Brando forces Maria Schneider's character to have anal sex... It gets a little meta when you look up that film on Wikipedia:

"I should have called my agent or had my lawyer come to the set because you can't force someone to do something that isn't in the script, but at the time, I didn't know that. Marlon said to me: 'Maria, don't worry, it's just a movie,' but during the scene, even though what Marlon was doing wasn't real, I was crying real tears. I felt humiliated and to be honest, I felt a little raped, both by Marlon and by Bertolucci. After the scene, Marlon didn't console me or apologise. Thankfully, there was just one take."

20 points by ErrantX 4 days ago 1 reply      
Oh god, not this old chestnut again (admittedly wrapped in some stylish writing).

The horrid fallacy is that pornography doesn't really tell you all that much about male sexuality and how they act in the real world.

Take another example; how people act in anonymous online forums. Often pretty douchy right? Does that tell us anything dark about how they are in the real world; well, probably a little, I could guess that a really awkward guy on a forum is likely a bit awkward in the real world.

But not as bad as he is when arguing random nonsense over the latest and best video game.

The internet emphasises those darker aspects of our personality; do men watch porn that humiliates women - sure. Do they want to humiliate their lovers in real life? Probably not.

It gets even worse because the assumption is that the style of porn created and posted on the internet is representative of the desires of most men.

Of course, it isn't really. It represents the desires of a subset of men - for whom internet porn is often their sex life. Other men may use the content, but is it about convenience and fantasy, not a critique of their bedroom desires.

Look at it another way; lots of people adore fantasy films - say Lord of the Rings. Would you actually, in reality, want to live a fantasy epic? Probably not, the reality wouldn't be all that fulfilling (no internet for one thing! :)). Same applies to porn, I think.

And what of female sexuality? When I'm poking about in peoples computers (legally, for work) women's computers don't usually contain porn. They contain idealised erotic stories about alpha males who also have a soft sensitive side. Their internet history is usually crammed with hunks with their tops off. It's still "pornography" (in how it is used); it's just that some people prefer the sexuality of the unknown (i.e. clothed). There are dark fantasy aspects to female pornography too; the male is often a love slave, dominated by his desire for the woman.

Bottom line is: Sexuality is not simple. And the internet is not a good way to make broad judgements about male or female sexuality.

33 points by Qz 4 days ago 1 reply      
Sometimes I fantasize about strangling my boss. Do I want to actually strangle my boss? No. Not because I'm worried about the repercussions, but because there is a fundamental difference in the way we process fantasy and reality. In almost all cases, porn is about fantasy and should not be considered indicative of what men actually want.

(disclaimer: I don't actually have a boss)

23 points by Mz 4 days ago 0 replies      
TL; DR: Woman with baggage projects her negative experiences onto the entire world. (XXX) Film at 11.

My reason for saying this:

Armed with a “Take Back the Night” pamphlet, we were led to believe that, as long as we avoided the hordes of date rapists, sex was an egalitarian endeavor.


This is an intellectual swindle that leads women to misjudge male sexuality, which they do at their own emotional and physical peril.


At the heart of human sexuality, at least human sexuality involving men, lies what Freud identified in Totem and Taboo as “emotional ambivalence”"the simultaneous love and hate of the object of one's sexual affection. From that ambivalence springs the aggressive, hostile, and humiliating components of male sexual arousal.

Never was this made plainer to me than during a one-night stand


in a moment of exasperation, he asked if we could have anal sex. I asked why, seeing as how any straight man who has had experience with anal sex knows that it's a big production and usually has a lot of false starts and abrupt stops. He answered, almost without thought, “Because that's the only thing that will make you uncomfortable.” This was, perhaps, the greatest moment of sexual honesty I've ever experienced"and without hesitation, I complied. This encounter proves an unpleasant fact that does not fit the feminist script on sexuality: pleasure and displeasure wrap around each other like two snakes.

(Before I am accused of misogyny, please note I am female.)

30 points by donaldc 4 days ago 1 reply      
From the article: The granting of sex is the most powerful weapon women possess in their struggle with men.

I'm pretty sure I don't want to be having sex with any woman who views "granting" me sex as a weapon in her struggle with me. That's just wrong on a number of different levels.

13 points by nkurz 4 days ago 5 replies      
This is a really good article, and just the fact that it's published in a mainstream publication like The Atlantic shows how much internet pornography has changed American sexual mores in the last few years. And I think the author makes a good case that it indeed is technology that has changed the thinking:

"When a 13-year-old girl can sit in math class, hide her Hello Kitty smart phone behind her textbook, and pull up such an extreme video in less time than it would take her to text a vote for her favorite American Idol contestant, we've certainly reached some kind of new societal landmark."

The writing is solid and bold. I'm impressed. Author's website is here: http://www.natashavc.com/?page_id=62

22 points by ryanpers 4 days ago 0 replies      
As a male who was raised by a feminist and in an all-female household, including the pets, I have a lot of things to say about this matter.

First off I find that a lot of feminism in the 80s was implicitly anti-male. Take back the night is great for women, but what is the message you are sending to young boys who are often there? It's a subtle message and may not be a big influence on all males.

Or the anti-rape messages? The more extreme is the mis-attributed quote "all men are potential rapists". This is a horrible message to be sending to young men, not as bad as "women are things", but if our goal is to raise fully formed males, "you are a rapist" is not a good one to give.

Bringing it back to the subject at hand, this author reminds me a lot of the kinds of messages, rhetoric and material that was common in the mid to late 80s feminism. The material I grew up suffused in. I think it is very harmful for the normalization of male-female relations. Are there differences between male and female sexuality? Yes. Does this article overplay them? Yes absolutely.

As long as we have articles describing male sexuality as a negative force that must be controlled and tempered I don't think the goal of a better society will be reached. The implicit message of "female sexuality is normal and healthy" and "male sexuality is dark and evil" is really disturbing to me.

In the end this article is completely and utterly sexist. If we reversed the genders we'd just have tripe from the 1800s about how female sexuality needs to be controlled and how women are evil. If that isn't acceptable, then why is this?

15 points by sev 4 days ago 4 replies      
> He answered, almost without thought, “Because that's the only thing that will make you uncomfortable.

I think this article is well written, albeit a little extreme with some of it's points. The behavior of the man the author had anal sex with is obviously not the norm, and yet she uses the event as a way to describe the norm.

10 points by macrael 4 days ago 0 replies      
The most interesting writing I've seen on this subject came from McSweeneys: "The Conflicted Existence of a Female Porn Writer". You can find her first column here: http://www.mcsweeneys.net/links/pornwriter/column1.html
24 points by kiba 4 days ago 2 replies      
I believe she suffer from the typical mind fallacy, thinking all males have overly aggressive/violent sexual desire.

Note: I am a male.

19 points by Herring 4 days ago 1 reply      
>the Internet porn aesthetic verges on unvarnished realism.

I'm thinking she doesn't know much about Internet porn.

3 points by SkyMarshal 3 days ago 0 replies      
Does anyone else just not grok the idea that sex is about all these terribly negative things? I have never in my life desired to degrade or debase women through sex or any other means.

I know it's hard for women these days, and there are probably more screwed up guys out there than normal ones, but I feel like the latter are getting tarred with the same brush as the former.

I can't think of any guy in my immediate social circle that's not a true gentleman inside and out, not even a suppressed, closeted woman-hater.

Reading feminist articles like this usually makes me go WTF. On the hand I'm very sympathetic to the fact that it's not easy being a woman, but on the other I can't help but suspect the author has been a victim of bad luck with men and is projecting on the entire sex.

14 points by Tycho 4 days ago 0 replies      
Some people look at sex-drive as something like a God-given gift, whereas others see it as basically a (fun) evolutionary side-effect. Varying degrees of sanctimony ensue.
36 points by MBlume 4 days ago 1 reply      
Ugh. Slightly interesting for the first third, then a random swerve into misandrist bullshit.
5 points by sdenheyer 3 days ago 0 replies      
Noticing all the hidden assumptions - if a woman does amateur porn and puts it up on xtube, she's trying to please her husband - can't be that she's turned on by it.

Somehow, even cuckoldry fantasies are about the male being dominant.

Paul in Last Tango is a brute, but no mention of Jeanne being a status-climbing bitch for abandoning him when she finds out he's poor - she may have pointed it out obliquely, but all judgment-loaded language is pointed firmly toward the y-chromosoned.

4 points by PostOnce 3 days ago 0 replies      
Girls watch porn too. That fact apparently eludes the author.
2 points by marcusbooster 4 days ago 1 reply      
I agree with the author's characterization of rhetoric in the 1990's, though I wonder if the reexamining of the whole "communicating boundaries" thing is a result of these women now raising boys of their own, or a more general societal trend that emphasizes aggression.
2 points by RyanMcGreal 3 days ago 0 replies      
> at the heart of human sexuality, at least human sexuality involving men, lies what Freud

And I'm done with this steaming pile of misanthropy. An essay on sexuality that falls back on Freudian ideas is beyond redemption.

1 point by johngalt 4 days ago 0 replies      
I wouldn't describe this article as misandrist. In many cases the author hints at female desires being worse.

"...the sex that occurs in between relationships or overlaps with relationships where the buffers of intimacy or familiarity do not exist: the raw, unpracticed sort. If a woman thinks of the best sex she's had in her life, she's often thinking of this kind of sex, and while it may be the best sex in her life, it's not the sex she wants to have throughout her life or more accurately, it's not the sex she'd have with the man with whom she'd like to spend her life."

So debasing sex is great so long as it's not with someone you care about? Sounds like men and women aren't that different.

5 points by WalterSear 4 days ago 1 reply      
That woman is ignorant to everything that I have observed my male sexuality to be.
1 point by lizzard 3 days ago 0 replies      
Literary and artistic fashions are quite different across cultures and across time. They're a poor data source to come up with an essentialist view of gender, if you pick one time and place. If you look at how, say, romanticism was gendered at first, it was described as essentially masculine -- tempestuous and powerful. Over time that perception changed and the very same material was described as something essentially womanly that reflected how women "are". While I have plenty of other criticisms of this article, this is the most basic one that I don't think has been expressed here yet.
1 point by anamax 4 days ago 0 replies      
I wonder if Mz. Vargas-Cooper is related to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alberto_Vargas .
-1 point by nlavezzo 4 days ago 1 reply      
Why exactly is this on Hacker News?
-3 points by gribble 4 days ago 0 replies      
Banning links to The Atlantic would greatly improve the quality of the site.
-2 points by metal 4 days ago 1 reply      
I'm not sure what the author is trying to say. Just because porn is easier to get now than before (as has been since day 0 of porn), so what? Yet another jee-whiz look at what the internets have done to us article.
Princeton Grad Student And 'Brilliant' Programmer, Dies In Apparent Suicide huffingtonpost.com
232 points by covertparadox 3 days ago   120 comments top 21
29 points by maxklein 2 days ago 5 replies      
I've been pushing this idea: "A half-way house for suicidal people" Basically, if you're intending to commit suicide, you simply register for the project, and you get an all-expenses paid trip to Iraq, Afghanistan or Congo or some other really dangerous place. Spend two to three months helping people out, then feel free to commit suicide after that.

No counseling, no attempt to talk you out of it, just a chance to be somewhere that will put you within a new world.

38 points by noonespecial 3 days ago 0 replies      
Very sad indeed. It might just be semantic, but it seems that this person died from wounds inflicted during childhood, it just took a while for him to succumb.
9 points by lkrubner 2 days ago 0 replies      
The opening of the note is my favorite part:

"I have the urge to declare my sanity and justify my actions, but I assume I'll never be able to convince anyone that this was the right decision. Maybe it's true that anyone who does this is insane by definition, but I can at least explain my reasoning."

It occurs to me that suicide was widely accepted in many cultures, for a long time, certainly in pre-Christian Europe. Roman generals might kill themselves after their forces were routed, if they feared being captured. Japanese samurai might kill themselves after defeat, even if they evaded capture. Christianity brought in a belief that most of the time suicide was wrong, but many Christian writers allowed for some exceptions. In his book "The Education of a Christian Woman", published in 1547, Juan Luis Vives praises the mass suicide of women in a Greek city whose walls were about to fall to seige. He argued that it was better that they die with their honor intact.

I say all this to suggest, the current trend in psychology, which views all suicide as irrational, is perhaps somewhat misguided. There are surely times when a person is in so much pain that, barring any hope of ending that pain, suicide becomes a rational option. We have, in recent years, begun to accept this line of reasoning as it applies to end-stage cancer patients, and others facing terminal diseases, but if you allow that this reasoning is valid anywhere, then you have to allow that it is valid everywhere that certain conditions are met, in particular, a great deal of pain, and no hope for ending that pain.

24 points by rianjs 3 days ago 1 reply      
Just FYI, here's another HN thread:


11 points by DLWormwood 3 days ago 0 replies      
While I never suffered the molestation, I can still relate to this guy. I also came from a fundementalist background that I'm only now coping with in middle age thanks to health consuling, a support group, and a family who have likewise forsaken those closeminded ways in favor of a more loving, “truer” version of the faith.
4 points by angrycoder 2 days ago 0 replies      
Terrible loss.

Based on his note, he is a compelling writer. If it were not published posthumously, it could have done a lot of good for himself and for others. It probably would not have received the same amount of attention though.

4 points by jhamburger 2 days ago 0 replies      
I don't fault him for what he did and I'm sure his state of mind wasn't anything most of us could relate to- but the one thing I feel like he could have done before this was to open up to _someone_ about what happened to him. Maybe it wouldn't have changed anything but maybe it would have been the first step to dealing with this a different way. I understand why people commit suicide, but at least try _everything_ first.
8 points by DrStalker 3 days ago 3 replies      
Is there any doubt it was suicide, or is the word "apparent" in the article heading unnecessary?
7 points by nopassrecover 3 days ago replies      
It's quite incredible that the Huffington Post posted the entire suicide note, particularly without a warning before it.

In any case, I'm disturbed and outraged by the religious comments (ranging from wishing him well in the next phase of his life to saying how much God loves everyone even despite this to how he should forgive himself for the suicide). I thought respect was fundamental to religion.

3 points by nhangen 2 days ago 0 replies      
I wonder why he didn't name the person? I don't know why, but it bothers me...almost as if he never found the strength to confront it, and he died never being able to do so.

I feel bad for the guy. I'm certainly not one of those self-righteous "suicide is selfish" types, but it does bother me that the victims always seem to lose in these cases. Such a loss.

3 points by ladon86 2 days ago 0 replies      
You know, me and my friends were talking just the other day about how massive myTunes was in college, pretty much everyone was using it. What a sad loss of a fantastic talent.
6 points by rudyadler 2 days ago 0 replies      
Bill's family & friends have set up a page on 1000Memories to share memories of his life.


If you knew Bill, please join his page.

3 points by scotty79 2 days ago 0 replies      
If something bad happens to you that you can't forget or forgive go to chats and tell your story to anonymous people over and over as many times as necessary until you get eventually bored with it. It may take a year or more.

You will be then less likely to tell it to yourself again in your head.

1 point by sn 1 day ago 0 replies      
He discusses counseling but not medication. If the latter was never tried, I find this even more sad.

Talking about suicide is a taboo subject. And doctors and others in caretaker positions are legally required to alert the authorities if they suspect someone may harm themselves. If it is discussed, there is a reasonable chance the person discussing it will be sent to a mental institution, the experience of which may be less appealing than suicide.

I wonder what would happen if physical suicide could be replaced with social suicide, administered by something analogous to the witness protection program.

3 points by srram 2 days ago 0 replies      
Never knew him. But reading the letter made me bawl like a baby. And I don't remember the last time I shed a tear

My intensely normal upbringing means I can't ever hope to comprehend what he must have gone through


2 points by eurohacker 2 days ago 0 replies      
one must probably understand while reading this that the mental abuse was in his life constant,

tried to get rid of it, go to school etc. , but had to communicate with his family and probably that nullified his self-help totally every time.

Its probably something like working like mad on some programming project for a year and then someone hacks your system and deletes everything... after that one year to restore the system and then someone again comes and deletes it ..one more year to restore , and back to zero again

5 points by ssiddharth 3 days ago 2 replies      
Why the quotes around the word brilliant in the title? Am I missing something?
2 points by kilian 2 days ago 0 replies      
It always makes me feel sad how goddamn unfair life is to some.
2 points by blahedo 2 days ago 1 reply      
Eternal rest grant him.
1 point by privacyguru 2 days ago 0 replies      
This is a tough one to swallow. I never knew Bill personally but it did hit home as shared some common connections. Sucks. Sucks that its too late to help him. I won't comment on what I think should be done to that person but they deserve the worst and then some.

Someone posted a great quote in the comments on the story on Gizmodo:
"Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle."

RIP Bill Zeller.

-4 points by kwoks 3 days ago 6 replies      
You don't solve a problem by running away from it. This guy would have been very useful. He just needed counselling, attention and love to overcome the 'darkness and his ghosts'. But I don't think he was smart. He might have been clever in class and books but smart and brilliant people don't take their own lives. Brilliant is misused here. Anyway R.I.P.
Engineering management at Facebook algeri-wong.com
228 points by sk_0919 4 days ago   42 comments top 10
22 points by wooster 3 days ago 2 replies      
I spent a few years at Apple writing internal tools.

IMHO, this is the way to have an effect on a company completely disproportionate to any other activity I know of. The tools I wrote at Apple have enabled projects which, AFAIK, are completely unheard-of at any other tech company.

That said, don't expect a payoff proportionate to the effect of the tool.

From a company owner's perspective, however, excellent tools can provide an advantage that is difficult for competitors to match. That's worth an awful lot.

20 points by unoti 3 days ago 0 replies      
His thoughts on internal tools and support are very insightful. It's why I am typically sad when a company outsources its support.

When a company does its own support with internal personnel, it has a vested interest in making the customers happy and also serving them as efficiently as possible.

When a company outsources its technical support, there is no real incentive for the outsource partner to let the company know how the processes and tools can be improved and automated. In fact, quite the opposite. If doubling the business means double the support costs, that works out great for the outsourcing partner.

Perhaps it's still possible to outsource the support work, but still care deeply about the details of how that work is done, and how the process can be improved/automated with systems. I haven't seen it work that way, however.

13 points by randfish 3 days ago 1 reply      
I like much of the advice, but the style and presentation of the message is, like so many things I've seen associated with Facebook, lacking any sense of humility. There's no "we did this because it worked for us and we're sharing in hopes that it may help others." Instead it's "Other people think this. They are wrong." Or "A commonly held belief is X. It is false."

This hubris has certainly been a powerful ally to Facebook's founder, but like so many other powerful people, companies, governments and organizations that came before them, I can't help but think it will ultimately lead to demise (unless tempered).

9 points by Isamu 3 days ago 1 reply      
So the problem of "hiring the best" is solved by making hiring your top priority. Likewise the problems of development are solved by making tools your top priority. Presumably along with everything else that is a top priority, like making something insanely great.

I'm sorry, I just sensitive to how many times I've seen "top priority" in somebody's management presentation, as if it solves something.

That said, I mostly agree with the gist of what he's saying here.

10 points by sdizdar 3 days ago 1 reply      
With all due respect to Facebook and many great engineers at Facebook, if you look at quality of Facebook API ( documentation, bugs, reliability, compatibility), I don't think they followed "hiring the best" in the division working on Facebook API.
3 points by danielharan 3 days ago 2 replies      
"You will begin to get the (objectively) best candidates"

If "it's [everyone's] job to say no-hire" when they're "not sure" about a candidate, I'd like to know what is done to avoid systemic bias in hiring decisions.

Anyone here from FB able to comment? How diverse is the work force, especially compared to applicants?

2 points by spitfire 3 days ago 4 replies      
He's wrong. You should not focus on tools, focus on people and ideas. The people will then make the tools (and throw them away when they cause too much friction) as needed.

But Facebook is still young, they're still learning. Unfortunately they don't seem to be learning from the past, which means they get to repeat everyone else's mistakes.

3 points by dacort 3 days ago 2 replies      
The processes section intrigues. As the "CTO" in a 4-person startup, I'm constantly juggling between getting $hit done and documenting what the heck I did to get $hit done. Seems to be a fine balance.
1 point by Swannie 3 days ago 0 replies      
A number of good responses about writing good tools. That's a no brainer.

It's scary to how many project managers I've had to explain why I have allocated 20% of my project planning to writing a new tool. They see it as wasted time because they don't think that we will be redoing the task again... when it's something sales try and sell with every project?!

The biggest thing that struck me were the strong statements about technical managers. I think the sentiment is correct, technically experienced managers are great. But it reads like you expect all technical managers to be up to date on their coding? Or just be competent at writing pseudo-code? Hopefully it is the latter!

1 point by gabaix 3 days ago 0 replies      
impressive insights.
Inequality in Equalland daemonology.net
223 points by cperciva 1 day ago   122 comments top 15
27 points by ugh 22 hours ago replies      
This is a nice demonstration that ‘raw' inequality data is not very useful. “X% have Y% of the wealth!” really doesn't tell you very much.

I'm actually only concerned about the consequences of inequality (which could be positive or negative), not about inequality itself. What do I care if 1% of the population have 99% of the wealth if there are no consequences to it? I certainly don't want to reduce inequality out of spite.

Statistics that tell me, just as an example, how the wealth of parents corresponds with the success of their children in school are much more interesting and reducing inequality probably wouldn't even be the best solution for such a problem. It's not as though all that money in mommy's and daddy's bank account makes their kids magically more intelligent. (But it can pay for private schools or for private lessons and so on.)

23 points by btilly 1 day ago replies      
According to Wikipedia, 87% of the wealth belongs to the wealthiest 20%. However over 80% of that wealth belongs to the top half of that group. The figures I am looking at do not break it down farther, but my understanding is that this same relative relationship holds for the top 5%, 2%, 1%, and so on.

Everyone agrees that some wealth disparity is a good and necessary part of a healthy economy. But there is a lot more going on here than the straightforward "some people are older, some people save".

The charts and tables at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wealth_in_the_United_States#Dis... are very interesting. Of interest to many in the HN crowd I direct you to "Current work status of head". Note the immense disparity between "self-employed" and all other categories.

13 points by aneesh 1 day ago 0 replies      
The next step is to decompose the wealth inequality into two metrics: inequality within an age-band, and inequality due to different life stages. In Equalland, the former is zero, so all inequality is due to the latter.

So, when you hear that the top 20% have X% of the wealth, keep in mind that the bar isn't 20%. A better bar is the 64% from Equalland.

11 points by axiom 1 day ago 2 replies      
Thank you!

As soon as those wealth inequality posts started popping up I've been waiting for someone to point out the idiocy of lamenting the wealth inequality between 22 yearolds just entering the workforce and 65 yearolds about to retire.

15 points by stretchwithme 23 hours ago 0 replies      
Inequality of outcomes dos not bother me. Injustice bothers me. Unequal treatment bothers me.

But not inequality of outcomes. There are simply too many variables between individuals that affect outcomes. Some are randomly assigned at birth. Others are the result of individual choice.

Even if you eliminated all injustice, however you define it, individual choice and different ability would still produce inequality of outcome.

18 points by maeon3 1 day ago replies      
I would like to live in Equal-land, I could live there, slouch around, work the absolute minimum and avoid work, and enjoy exactly the same benefits as those working the hardest to maintain that utopia.
9 points by cperciva 1 day ago 2 replies      
This blog post was inspired by the article and conversation here (especially pg's comment about income vs. wealth): http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=2039503
3 points by j_baker 1 day ago 0 replies      
I doubt this is a valid model of economic reality (even as a rough approximation). I seriously doubt that the average American is saving anywhere near as much for their retirement as this simulation suggests.

"Nearly half of baby boomers born between 1948 and 1954 and now between the ages of 56 and 62 are at risk of not having enough money in retirement to pay for basic expenditures, EBRI reports." - http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/07...

1 point by amalcon 14 hours ago 0 replies      
This is a good point if you make the assumption that people tend to accumulate wealth as they age as a rule. I think this is likely, but it has not been established as a general proposition.

The shapes of individual "wealth curves" will not necessarily be identical. Here are a few examples to consider:

- A person who is raised in a middle-class home, and has basically the life story in the blog post will have a curve similar to that one.

- A person who is raised in a poor home, is unable to afford college even with loans, and makes a few bad economic decisions early on, though not so bad that he cannot pay for them, will have a similar-looking debt event, followed by little change for the rest of his life.

- A person who is raised in a wealthy home, goes to college without needing loans, and is taught from an early age the value of savings and investment will have a much steeper exponential curve, and a much flatter "retirement decline".

- A person who is raised in a poor home, is unable to afford college even with loans, and makes catastrophic economic decisions will likely either declare bankruptcy or end up in prison. Either event resets wealth accumulation to an unspecified negative value (to account for the stigma and reduced access to various opportunities), yielding a significantly different curve.

- A person who is raised in a rich home, with a trust fund, but whose trust fund was invested in real estate and Bernie Madoff.

- A person living the Equalland scenario encounters a catastrophic financial event at some point (illness, crime, failure of an over-leveraged investment such as a home) and is driven considerably into debt. Servicing that debt will require either a significant portion of income thereafter or bankruptcy.

- A person living the Equalland scenario, except that his chosen field of education is overproduced in his generation, will have a similar curve to the fourth scenario above. The education debt does not necessarily produce benefits thereafter.

I do think the Equalland scenario is likely to be most common, but I recognize that my suspicions are likely influenced by the fact that it is the most common scenario amongst my peers. I don't think it's a foregone conclusion that it is the overwhelmingly most common scenario in general, especially with so many different scenarios resulting in a net wealth loss over the course of a person's life.

1 point by lucasjung 17 hours ago 0 replies      
Great post! It provides a good gedanken for sorting out how much inequality results from age and how much results from other factors.

If you made this scenario a little bit more complex, you could demonstrate how other forms of "inequality" are based, in part, on age:

1: Have everyone start with equal $50,000 salary at age 22, then get a raise of $3,000 per year until they hit 65. Everyone would still have equal lifetime earnings, but you would find significant income "inequality" when looking at the population as a whole.

2: Instead of a flat $3,000 per year raise, everyone gets a 3.5% raise each year until they hit 65. This is closer to real life than the scenario above, and would produce an even more "unequal" income distribution.

2 points by jdp23 22 hours ago 1 reply      
Imagine another country which has government-funded secondary education and pensions that cover the bulk of retirement expenses. Wouldn't the "necessary" inequality be noticeably lower in that case?
1 point by Symmetry 13 hours ago 0 replies      
Far more useful than looking at inequality in wealth or even income is inequality in consumption.
2 points by asmosoinio 21 hours ago 0 replies      
Typo at: "The most indebted households in Equalland &mdash $130,133....", missing the ;-character.
3 points by bhangi 1 day ago 0 replies      
Note that the "inequality" here is strictly age related -- in other words, if you live according to prescription, then you too will have that amount of wealth at a particular point in your life. In other words, everyone has the same opportunity for upward economic mobility. When most commentators talk about inequality they're really talking about the lack of upward economic mobility.
3 points by monkeypizza 1 day ago 0 replies      
So to summarize, even in an ideal equal world, inequality exists. Just pointing out that the top 20% owns more than the bottom 20% means literally nothing, because even in a totally equal world, that is true.

If you introduce random variation into the performance of the stock market, then the ownership of the top 20% would increase even more!

VLC for iOS Pulled from the App Store videolan.org
204 points by sathyabhat 2 days ago   224 comments top 21
74 points by jbk 2 days ago replies      
Disclaimer: VideoLAN Chairman and lead VLC developer here.

I've written the most important analysis on the matter http://mailman.videolan.org/pipermail/vlc-devel/2010-Novembe... and http://mailman.videolan.org/pipermail/vlc-devel/2010-Decembe...

Some VLC developers (for Mac mainly), with the company Applidium, have ported VLC on iOS. Applidium published it on the store, for free.

Some developer complained (quite lately, btw...) afterwards and quoted a FSF analysis. Their analysis was totally wrong (spoke about redistribution), and based on old version of AppStore terms.

After my remarks about changes of the AppStore terms that made this analysis obsolete and wrong, they shifted their criticism onto another part, which was the "usage" part of the ToS. They complained that the terms did not allow all uses, especially commercial ones.

Indeed, one part could be interpreted in different ways. Therefore, I've mailed Apple Copyright Agent for explanation, twice. Once in November, once in December...

Apple has refused to answer, to explain or to help in any matter. They then decided to pull the Application unilaterally from the AppStore.

Of course, they are allowed to do that, and noone can complain, but this is yet another push from Apple against VLC, that adds to the very long list of past issues. It just makes me think Apple doesn't really want competition...

11 points by jarin 2 days ago 5 replies      
I hate to say it, but this is why I have a big problem with the GPL.

Not for infrastructure software like operating systems, web servers, and databases (where I think it is appropriate and beneficial), but for code intended for use in end-user applications (including web applications).

I think licenses like BSD, MIT, and Apache spur more innovation in those cases. You can make the argument that companies have no incentive to contribute back to open source projects without copyleft licenses, but projects like Webkit and Rails have proven otherwise.

17 points by drivebyacct2 2 days ago 3 replies      
"This end should not have come to a surprise to anyone."

Also, is it terribly selfish of me to find this enjoyable partly because of the App Store apologists and partly because it means there will be more focus on VLC for Android?

12 points by ryanpetrich 2 days ago 1 reply      
Now up in Cydia on my repo: http://rpetri.ch/repo

Adjusted source to allow installation to /Applications is here: http://rpetri.ch/github/MobileVLC

10 points by kranner 2 days ago 4 replies      
Will someone please summarize? The link makes only a vague statement about incompatibility between GPL code and the App Store...
5 points by st3fan 2 days ago 1 reply      
Looks like Rémi Denis-Courmont pulled his blog and his resume. What is going on there? His posting is aggregated on planet vlc, but it does not link to the original.
10 points by gaiusparx 2 days ago 1 reply      
According to TUAW http://www.tuaw.com/2011/01/08/vlc-app-removed-from-app-stor..., its one Rémi Denis-Courmont employed under Nokia who waged the campaign. How true is it? Sounds more like a corporate conspiracy than a fight for principle.
7 points by mbenjaminsmith 2 days ago 4 replies      
How does this work for people who've downloaded it? I've got the better part of Family Guy's run on my iPhone playing with VLC. That combo has brought me more enjoyment than all of my other apps combined.

On a side note: I recently made the difficult decision of creating a library from scratch since the only one available was GPL. I guess that was the correct decision after all?

9 points by sanxiyn 2 days ago 1 reply      
It seems that this is the best analysis for now.

Apple changed App Store terms. Previously:

The Usage Rules shall govern your rights with respect to the Products, in addition to any other terms or rules that may have been established between you and another party


...unless the App Store Product is covered by a valid end user license agreement entered into between you and the licensor of the App Store Product (the "Licensor"), in which case the Licensor's end user license agreement will apply

So either GPLv2 is a valid end user license agreement, or if it isn't, one just needs some out-of-bound mechanism that users and developers agree on GPLv2.

9 points by oslic 2 days ago 1 reply      
So is this what GPL developers consider a "win?" The GPL seems designed to create something for developers to fuss about. The net effect is pretty stupid compared to BSD/MIT/Apache. It's been long ago proved that the community deals fairly with contributions of any kind. The only difference then with GPL is that it locks out many legitimate uses (businesses) that might have otherwise been available. That's not "free," that's "restrictive," no matter how many times Stallman bangs his drum.
2 points by ryan-allen 2 days ago 1 reply      
This is very disappointing. VLC is a great product and so are the iPhone and iPad devices. Not having to convert video and being able to play them on the devices was very welcome!

It's such a shame... This to me has a similar kind of feel to patent trolling.

19 points by schrototo 2 days ago 3 replies      
So how does this in any way enhance the freedom of users?
10 points by sanxiyn 2 days ago 1 reply      
Of course this is App Store's problem, and VLC for iOS should be no problem to install from Cydia.
2 points by adaml_623 2 days ago 0 replies      
I don't have an iPhone because of this walled garden approach to software on it. I'm glad that this has happened as maybe there will be fewer walled garden type situations in the future. It is a pity for users who miss out on VLC but they've made a choice by buying a product that's locked to a single marketplace for apps and they have to live with that.
6 points by sanxiyn 2 days ago 0 replies      
Battle for Wesnoth had the same problem:
2 points by sdizdar 2 days ago 0 replies      
I would like to understand something here. As far as I was explained by experts (I'm not a lawyer) GPL license does not allow to publish software on closed / proprietary platforms controlled by ToS similar to Apple AppStore. My understanding it is not that VLC on iOS is breaking AppStore ToS but GPL license which is very restrictive when you release something based on it but it is not open sourced.

Am I wrong here?

1 point by mikecane 2 days ago 0 replies      
Putting aside all the issues involved here, what I don't understand to begin with is why any other iOS dev has not done an app that can play back the kind of AVI files most people have in their collections to begin with. Is it that hard? Or did devs shy away from it because they never expected Apple to approve such an app? Now that Apple has, will someone else come in with something else? This is a capability that's truly needed. There's just no way I'm going to ever convert my AVIs to MP4s. It'd be faster and cheaper just to get an Archos Android tablet to play those videos. (Note I mention Archos specifically because for years they've developed that capability and have ported that native software to now run under Android.)
4 points by kevinchen 2 days ago 1 reply      
So Rémi Denis-Courmont is basically putting his open software principles ahead of the utility users would get on their iPhones. Very noble indeed...
1 point by yason 2 days ago 3 replies      
Why isn't there a third-party app store, by the way? iPhone only runs executables signed by Apple? I suppose that on Android, if Google's Android market sucks anyone can create a new market that ranks the applications better or simply lures in better apps?
1 point by adulau 2 days ago 0 replies      
If you are curious about the differences of terms in the iTunes store policy and what has been introduced by the "Mac App Store":


-3 points by jawee 2 days ago 1 reply      
This is one reason why I have no desire to use Apple products and have essentially retired my iOS device. This restricts a great library of possible software from ever making it to my device and restricts the possibility of a decent freedom that some developers wish to give. This would not be a big deal if you could distribute software like on a normal computer (or most other mobile OSs.. including Blackberry, Palm OS (historical at least), Android, Windows Mobile (historical at least), Maemo, and so on). I shouldn't have to worry about the official distribution channel's restrictions imposing on what is essentially my computer as a whole.
Mac App Store: Open for Business apple.com
201 points by shawndumas 4 days ago   275 comments top 32
39 points by pclark 4 days 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.

26 points by pavlov 4 days 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 4 days 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 4 days 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 4 days 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 4 days 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 4 days 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.
4 points by watty 4 days 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.
9 points by pstinnett 4 days 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.
3 points by ThomPete 4 days 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.

7 points by fwdbureau 4 days 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 4 days 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".
19 points by evilmushroom 4 days ago 2 replies      
As long as this doesn't become the only way for me to put apps on my Mac. :P
12 points by vasi 4 days 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...
9 points by scorchin 4 days ago 0 replies      
It's just like a massive computer magazine shareware cover disk.
7 points by zppx 4 days ago 3 replies      
Aperture is US$ 79,99 in the Store, Lightroom now seems so expensive...
3 points by igravious 4 days ago 1 reply      
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 4 days 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?

4 points by bengl3rt 4 days ago 0 replies      
I'm at #20 in Top Paid Music, and climbing...
3 points by troels 4 days ago 2 replies      
Distribute Mac apps on the Mac App Store


Hm ..

2 points by awakeasleep 4 days ago 0 replies      

    class UIComplaint(BikeShed.colorComplaint):

1 point by naz 4 days 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 4 days 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 4 days 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 4 days 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 4 days 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 4 days ago 1 reply      
Creative icon... If it was black, it would fit nicely with iTunes.
1 point by cbguder 4 days 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 4 days ago 0 replies      
Bummer - no way to create promo codes for Mac apps as of yet in iTunesConnect...
-2 points by tyng 4 days ago 1 reply      
iTunes should be renamed, it's not just about the "tunes" anymore
-1 point by elvirs 4 days 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 4 days ago 0 replies      
Ubuntu's had an app store for years (although paid apps are a more recent addition).
Facebook hype will fade cnn.com
189 points by sdizdar 3 days ago   118 comments top 34
58 points by klochner 3 days ago replies      
facebook growth went something like this:

  college --> high school --> young adults --> everyone

Trendy stuff generally follows the same cascade, more or less, where you don't see college students emulating the dress habits of the elderly.

facebook's biggest potential for failure is in not capturing the next generation of young users. The young users pick up some other social network, everyone else follows suit, and facebook withers, slowly starting to resemble an '85 buick.

27 points by jdp23 3 days ago 1 reply      
"This week's news that Goldman Sachs has chosen to invest in Facebook while entreating others to do the same should inspire about as much confidence as their investment in mortgage securities did in 2008."

Well said.

Sounds like a bubble to me.

11 points by winternett 3 days ago 0 replies      
All social media sites these days are bound for backlash because of the sins of their fathers, Thats why its so hard to get a great idea to catch on, people are growing skeptical about social media's benefits in a sea of high priced commercial promotion.

People make sites like facebook popular, commercial entities buy in and then corner the initial value that these sites created. All of the marketing potential individual users had in the initial stages vanishes once commercial ads and user tracking appear, and once a value is placed on a site. Myspace still gets great hits, but mostly from spammers and bots, which makes it value worth less than the computers its hosted on. Its their own damn fault. Tom played the game right when he sold early I tell you.

These social media sites aren't doing anything substantial in order to help productivity nor promotion for individual users. They have features that encourage users to spam each other, which make their added peers end up blocking each other because of incessant tagging and messages to user inboxes that require tedious manual deletion, etc [all tactics to generate empty clicks]...

These social media sites all make the same mistakes in not emphasizing their talented users, and helping to build followings, while promoting businesses and services that are reliable and relevant to their own users. I'm a firm believer in a future of micro-social sites that focus on specific user communities rather than trying to warehouse everyone into a huge template. Facebook, as it is really doesn't provide much in terms of letting "like minds come together". There should be no reason why I can't communicate [through a social media buffer of course] with Jay Z about rapping, or Kanye about being a douchebag, or ask the real Ivanka Trump out on a date, and they all should be able to block me if they get pissed off in the process, thats what happens on Twitter, and thats why this year Twitter will capture a large percentage of Facebook's user shares, because its much more fulfilling than fake user profiles [for the moment]

American Idol has made a lot more people "famous" than Facebook, yet there are many more musicians and artists on Facebook, how is this possible? I see that as a problem. YouTube has been the only consistently unobtrusive and highly functional/useful social media tool that has survived. They do have user profiles, they host content, allow comments, sharing and communication, and do it all pretty much in an amazing and unobtrusive way. YouTube also allows its users to cross-share content on sites completely unrelated to itself, a major hosting expense, but really solid in terms of usefulness to site users, no idiotic "like" button required. Based on this, the concept of YouTube, perhaps, should be used as a key "roadmap" to social media success in the future.

Instead of working on promoting normal users you don't know, most social media sites are geared towards the "celebrity machine", for celebrities that are already popular. Promoting the same stuff that's on TV, and the radio, because someone paid for the ad space. Following this "celebrity machine" is a losing battle because it has to put on a new expensive outfit every time its launched, and it fails once people uncover its motives, or once innovation can't disguise it.

Facebook makes it appear to users that the only method to generate 5,000 followers requires landing a major record or movie deal, so much for being a talented musician. Programming and monetizing is only a tiny part of creating a successful social media site, this is why most get it wrong. If you want 4 years of profit, who cares, make the next big social media warehouse, if you want a lifetime of success, think carefully of the benefits your site can provide to the average joe, and make sure you keep that in your mantra for as long as your site lives. The motives have to be clear cut, highly functional, and it must offer fair and equal promotion for all of its users while limiting spamming and upholding privacy, otherwise it will stay the game of rise and downfall. There's a reason why YouTube has been a great site all of these years, it sticks to its user base and keeps them content.

8 points by kprobst 3 days ago 4 replies      
"We will move on, just as we did from the chat rooms of AOL, without even looking back. When the place is as ethereal as a website, our allegiance is much more abstract than it is to a local pub or gym."

I disagree with this, simply because grandma wasn't on any AOL chat rooms, but she _is_ on Facebook. The only reason I'm on FB is because Aunt Tilly and Uncle Bob and grandma are also on there, and I can connect with them that way, and know what's happening in their lives in real time, instead of seeing them once a year at Christmas.

Grandma isn't going to sign up for IM or get a blog. She's on Facebook.

That's the difference between FB and everything else that came before it. The thing creates its own gravity field that attracts everyone, and as long as everyone I care about is on Facebook, so will I. Even though I really hate the thing.

That's the genius of FB, I think. Hate it or love it.

6 points by malloreon 3 days ago 0 replies      
I don't understand the comparisons of FB to AOL, besides their seemingly common goal to sandbox the internet.

People who use AOL who discovered "the real" internet had no reason to go back. Everything they wanted was just as available + more. There's no friction to switching, beyond learning how to use a search engine.

Facebook has billions of photos, posts, comments, friend requests, updates, registrations through connect, all being added to the site every day. The longer someone uses it, the higher the cost to stop using it, or switch to another.

That's why FB has the staying power AOL did not.

7 points by ibejoeb 3 days ago 2 replies      
"...the merger turned out to be a disaster: AOL's revenue stream was reduced to a trickle as net users ventured out onto the Web directly."

So facebook will fail when people venture out and socialize in real life?

Seriously, though, I get the point generally, but I don't think it's quite the same. AOL and MySpace were assimilated and stifled by their parents' ways of doing things, whereas Facebook will likely continue to do things its own way. This is a company that is able to convince its investors that it knows best, and I don't think things will change with the Goldman investment.

I don't know if Facebook will be on top in 10 years, but I don't think this is the beginning of the end.

6 points by michaelchisari 3 days ago 2 replies      
I agree that popularity of social networks is faddish, and that Facebook will follow that rise and fall pattern, however...

I think that an open, distributed social networking protocol is a game changer. If there exists the ability to move between social networks while maintaining your social graph, that makes the way that social networks rise and fall very different than when sites hold your social graph hostage if you try to leave.

8 points by pharrington 3 days ago 0 replies      
A bubble created around a legitimate service does not itself kill the service; the service becoming obsolete does.

The author seems to completely miss this. AOL didn't die because it was bought by TW, it died because broadband became commonplace and people realized there was much more to the internet than AOL's walled garden. Myspace died because it was the last vestige of the "personal homepage" style internet and never ran with its burgeoning use as a network for musicians.

Facebook will fade when the next major gap in social connections+communication is filled. Simply saying "something more popular than Facebook will happen" seems a horribly obvious and empty statement. Now talking about what we still need or might discover with connections would prove insightful, but of course no one's going to blog about that until it's launched.

2 points by kevin_morrill 2 days ago 0 replies      
Best quote of the article, "Yet social media is itself as temporary as any social gathering, nightclub or party. It's the people that matter, not the venue."

They cost to run the site compared to how much they're making does not work. Their only hope is to run really fast and create a better advertising story. Otherwise, they need to get acquired by MS, Google or Apple and become an augment to a business that actually generates profit. Problem is their market cap is so huge that's becoming nearly impossible.

2 points by gaiusparx 2 days ago 0 replies      
Facebook is definitely waning among my friends, but strong areas remains:

1. Social graph. Many are not active Facebook users but are keeping the accounts cos all their contacts are there. Facebook has actually helped people found their long loss friends and classmates.

2. Sharing links, picture and video. Facebook is replacing email as a means to share interesting contents. One friend actually visits Facebook just to read those contents posted by friends instead of going to the source such as YouTube. "It is easier". Twitter is an obvious alternative.

3. Facebook is the new Flickr.

4. Games. Hopefully when people think of FarmVille or CityVille they think of Zynga and not Facebook. Zynga should seriously break loose of this eco, build its own currency/credit system and focus on iOS/Android platforms.

5. All-in-one ness. Grandmas and aunties love this. Contacts, photos, video, links, cute apps are all-in-one. But this will mean less and less, as this group of not savvy web users will decrease with time.

6 points by aridiculous 3 days ago 2 replies      
I don't necessarily agree the article but I'd be interested in hearing opinions on the interesting point the author presents near the end of the article: That social networking sites are like physical social spaces that will rise and fall in popularity.
3 points by imkevingao 2 days ago 0 replies      
Facebook needs to generate more revenue or if they go public, their stocks are going to tank like crazy after the speculation fades. Facebook's P/E ratio is out of proportion. Doesn't matter how many users Facebook have, if the company doesn't generate the proportional profits to match its valuation, then the company is going to go through some tough phases.

Many people are looking at the Facebook stocks like it's a Pablo Picasso painting, and with users twice as the population of United States, it's bound to be valuable. However, in the economy of supply and demand, the bubble will pop if it decides to go public. Unless Facebook can think new ways to earn more money.

But that's hard, because Facebook users hate changes. They aren't exactly Obama fans.

1 point by krosaen 3 days ago 0 replies      
related from 2007: "How Your Creepy Ex-Co-Workers Will Kill Facebook" http://www.informationweek.com/news/internet/webdev/showArti...

It certainly hasn't, but can facebook be the first social network to somehow help people maintain their different personas and keep their social circles unentangled when appropriate? Over the summer I facebook updated something about hacking on my front porch, and my wife's aunt commented asking how I got sick. Stuff like that isn't creepy, it's just awkward, and keeps me coming back here and to friendfeed or to reddit or wherever the community feels right for having a discussion.

1 point by projectileboy 2 days ago 0 replies      
There are at least a few important differences that the author ignored:

* Not many "trends" have had 500 million followers.

* The other companies mentioned actually ceded control in some fashion; Facebook is simply taking investment dollars.

* The other companies mentioned didn't have Mark Zuckerberg at the helm. Only a crank wouldn't acknowledge that Zuckerberg's leadership has been masterful.

1 point by ojbyrne 3 days ago 0 replies      
When you have so much traffic, it's easy to find other avenues for product changes. You can move into new niches. You gain flexibility.

But when you also have a high valuation, and have been taking money off the table, those choices become limited to those that are perceived as the highest growth. You lose flexibility.

Frugality is good, at all levels.

4 points by whenisall 3 days ago 0 replies      
Some people will get a lot of money in shares. The difficult question is when to buy and when to sell. The hype will fade and shares will fall down very quickly but to win in this game you have to determine when it will happen. I don't know when, but I think that the fall down will be the extraordinarily stiff, in one day or two a complete collapse. Wait and see.
3 points by fkeidkwdq 3 days ago 1 reply      
Comparing Google with Facebook. I was using google since it was pretty unknown, I think it is still, after all these years, a good tool for searching. I will never use facebook, I think local solutions for meeting people will emerge soon and they will be much more appealing and useful.

Facebook only can exists if it can find a way to be a local tool.

3 points by adamokane 3 days ago 0 replies      
It will take more than something "cool" to knock off Facebook - 600m users isn't fad-ish. A competitor has to have a MUCH better product and be very cool. It could happen, but Facebook is much more in the driver's seat than MySpace or Friendster ever were.
1 point by robryan 3 days ago 0 replies      
Facebook has the advantage of being built into way more mobile devices than anything before it ever was. Many phones now come with a facebook icon on the main page when you first turn it on.

Also the amount of free advertising it gets from companies using it's logo everywhere with add us on facebook and have your say on facebook, how many other companies get their logo and a call to action to use there service for free on TV every day around the world?

1 point by jdbeast00 2 days ago 0 replies      
most of the complaints here could be solved by facebook implementing (better) disjoint friend networks. I would imagine they are working on this. I currently have draconian privacy in place to prevent most of my friends from seeing status updates. Once this becomes easier wont these issues go away?
1 point by ryanwaggoner 3 days ago 0 replies      
Stupid title. Doesn't hype always fade, by definition?
1 point by zinssmeister 3 days ago 1 reply      
I see so many people compare facebook to (late '90s) AOL these days. But the two never had much in common with each other.
I think if facebook continues to bring out innovative ways/products/features that connect people with each other it will continue to be successful. Will it one day fade away? Probably. As do most huge dotcoms. But some even stay relevant for well over a decade (ebay, match, expedia, google). Most of them get a bit smaller and cruise along.
1 point by podperson 2 days ago 0 replies      
The thing which amazes me about Facebook is how perplexing the basic UI is and remains. My wife will tell me "hey someone has made a comment on your wall you HAVE to reply to it" and it will take me five minutes to figure out where this comment is buried. Oh it's not under "status" it's under "profile". WTF?
1 point by ruedaminute 2 days ago 0 replies      
I have no real use for facebook anymore. Honestly, I think most people right now just go there for lack of something to procrastinate with. Twitter is much better for that anyway. Trying to get all my fb friends to jump ship with me. http://blog.ruedaminute.com/2011/01/dear-facebook-friends/ Honestly, the more people on Twitter, the better for the internet IMHO.
1 point by chopsueyar 2 days ago 0 replies      
Read his books, Exit Strategy and also Ecstasy Club, good scifi.
1 point by Hominem 3 days ago 0 replies      
Just wonder if all these people were incredibly good at cashing in at the top or the overwhelming tidal wave of news stories about them cashing in is what caused their decline
1 point by wilschroter 3 days ago 0 replies      
Isn't it safe to just say that every technology fades with time? The only constant in our industry is that we will all become less relevant in time.
1 point by mrleinad 3 days ago 0 replies      
Hypes will fade. By definition.
0 points by mnml_ 2 days ago 0 replies      
TheFacebook hype died in Nov. 2007 when they introduced advertisement.
-1 point by thefox 2 days ago 0 replies      
Facebook sucks!
-1 point by popschedule 2 days ago 0 replies      
in the future your time will fade
3 points by T-R 3 days ago 0 replies      
Post ordering doesn't work that way on HN; from the FAQ:

> On the front page, [posts are ordered] by points divided by a power of the time since they were submitted. Comments in comment threads are ranked the same way.

For clarity, this post isn't getting down voted per your request (which would have no effect on your other post), it's getting down voted for not adding content to the conversation.

-1 point by Synthetase 3 days ago 2 replies      
I really think he doesn't know what he's talking about. Let's look at his qualifications. He's a professor of "Media Studies" at the New School. I think he's going to be taking everything with a lot of lit crit palavering.

Myspace to Facebook is a shallow analogy. If we would like to make an analogy with that analogy it would be like comparing Yahoo and Google. Facebook has far exceeded the market penetration of MySpace. Facebook has one of the best engineering teams around while MySpace attempted to some sort of media company (failing miserably at that). Facebook has a fairly credible revenue stream while we are never sure if MySpace every developed that.

-1 point by dmvaldman 2 days ago 0 replies      
I don't know how people can seriously believe facebook is a bunch of hype. Or even that it's at the top of its success, as this article claims.

The $50 billion valuation, yeah there's some hype there. But whether Facebook will one day surpass such an evaluation is I believe a strong reality.

I'm just amazed at how well-run a company Facebook is. I'm in awe of how it is in a constant state of evolution and constantly being tinkered with. Usually when companies get big you see them play the game more conservatively. Facebook is exciting because it doesn't do this. I see so much room for Facebook to grow and surpass my expectations for it, as it has time and time again.

And suddenly, you're hip perl.org
177 points by Phra 1 day ago   134 comments top 18
54 points by msy 1 day ago replies      
Thing is, while both Ruby & Vim have been driven by what she's describing she neatly sidestepped why those movements got started in the first place. Ruby gained huge traction primarily via Rails because working on PHP is unenjoyable to many and Ruby is a really pleasant language to work with. Vim's recent resurgence can largely be traced to development of Textmate grinding to a complete halt. Textmate's rise a few years ago was due to BBEdit failing to evolve. Git beats seven shades of shit out of SVN. Erlang provides a proven answer to concurrency issues. Javascript is the only choice for the ever more important front-end side of web development. Each of these shifts of development momentum have rational, logical underpinnings.

The buzz, the screen casts and other errata are a consequence of a lot of people making the same logical, reasoned choice and talking about it in public. I cannot think of anything that's changed in Perl that'd justify any such interest. I admit that may be my ignorance. Making sexy screencasts might get a little traffic but you can't astroturf wave of developer momentum with them.

12 points by po 1 day ago 3 replies      
I used to be a huge Perl advocate; I loooved perlmonks back in the day. (Just tried to log back into it after probably over 10 years but the forgot password link doesn't work) I read the Camel book cover-to-cover and giggled at the footnotes.

While I loved the language, I can't imagine going back to it. Now perl programs look like cat typing to me. It was way too expressive. The TIMTOWDI mentality meant that I could never read code I didn't write myself, and even some that I did. It was terse and dense like poetry and hard to understand - like poetry. To really "know" the language meant knowing a huge surface area full of exceptions and special conditions.

Sure, you could limit yourself to certain best-practices and styles but it was like being handing the keys to the porsche and told to only drive 35. At every turn, the language was begging you to flex that newly acquired knowledge of special syntax. The obfuscation contests, the perl poetry, the quines… Many languages have this failing in my opinion and it certainly matters more when you're working in a large team (hence, rigid boring old Java) but Perl taught me what it was like to go too far down that path.

It is what I would call a write-only language.

6 points by Samuel_Michon 1 day ago 0 replies      
From the article:

"The iPhone isn't the highest sold smartphone"

Sure it is. At least in the U.S., Japan, New Zealand and Australia. In most other countries, Nokia is the most popular smartphone vendor, but because they offer hundreds of different models, I doubt Nokia has one specific model that sells better than the iPhone 4.

[U.S.] http://www.engadget.com/2010/11/01/canalys-iphone-becomes-mo...

[Australia] http://www.idc.com/about/viewpressrelease.jsp?containerId=pr...

[New Zealand] http://computerworld.co.nz/news.nsf/telecommunications/andro...

[Japan] http://www.businessweek.com/news/2010-04-23/apple-iphone-cap...

15 points by cturner 1 day ago 2 replies      


I'm a vim ballerina!

    "we" are literally invisible to the bigger public, not
matter how much CPAN grows and no matter how much #perl
is the biggest IRC channel on freenode.

Secret societies are cool.

4 points by pyre 1 day ago 0 replies      
A suggestion for a Perl screencast: using the Perl debugger. ~1.5 years ago my friend found a bug in the Perl debugger that had rendered it basically non-functional for several releases. I think it's telling that no one picked up on that for so long (i.e. no one is using the Perl debugger, probably because they don't know it exists and/or how to use it).

[ IIRC, it might be the bug under: http://perldoc.perl.org/perl5100delta.html ; search for 'PERLIO_DEBUG' ]

5 points by megamark16 1 day ago 2 replies      
I learned vim over emacs because vi is installed on every linux machine I have ever touched, so when I sit down to a server and I need to edit a config file, I try vim, then I use vi, and I always find one or the other. I just opened Terminal on my Ubuntu 10.10 machine and typed "emacs" and it informed me that it wasn't installed, but was available in a slew of packages.
3 points by flatline 1 day ago 1 reply      
'I've always wondered how those mechanism of "being THE it-language" or "the tool the cool kids use these days" or "success" in terms of "spreading everywhere" really works.'

Just having CPAN isn't enough. There need to be new and interesting projects that stand on their own and are current and relevant. I'm not saying there aren't, I just don't read about them on HN, reddit, etc. Perl was always about making things easy, and it wasn't hard to see how a perl script was better than a cgi handler in C. How is writing a DSL interpreter in Perl cool compared to, say, Ruby? How do the Perl MVC frameworks make things easier/better than rails or django?

6 points by va_coder 1 day ago 1 reply      
Why Ruby? is a pretty damn good presentation. He talks about how the benefits include the culture, as well as the language.


1 point by pacemkr 17 hours ago 3 replies      
I'm just getting into Ruby and converting to vim as my primary editor, and I didn't even know that this is a "hip" thing to do. All of a sudden I feel trashy for making logical choices.

I think the author misjudged why people like me choose Ruby and vim -- choices that have nothing to do with each other, btw.

I'm a fan of terseness and readability. Ruby has a reputation for both. I've never heard the following phrases spoken: "Perl is great for writing DSL's." "Perl is very readable."

The most amazing experience has been going on GitHub on day one, reading the Rails, Haml, Sinatra, Tilt, you name it, code and being able to understand virtually any part of it. This is not only a testament to the language, but also a testament to the quality of the frameworks and the API's that are being produced with it. Show me a web framework written in Perl that I can dig into and understand with zero Perl experience.

Vim, on the other hand, is a sour-sweet topic. Here is the only reason I'm using vim: everything else sucks ___. Vim also sucks ____ because in 2011 it is still a text editor that can't copy paste using the "normal people" shortcuts. I'm looking forward to the day I finally customize vim enough to match Notepad in usability.

As much as vim usability sucks, I know that I can spend a year customizing it (and it will take a year) and be able to rely on it for the rest of my life. In contrast, there is no such incentive to invest into the monstrosities riding over the JVM (not calling names).

Also, screencasts are great because I read all day and its tiring, physically tiring. Sitting back, relaxing my eyes and being educated while I sip on a coffee and have a cookie is my idea of fun. Screencasts are free, bite sized, training. By the author's logic Khan Academy is worthless as an educational tool because most of it is written somewhere.

3 points by varjag 1 day ago 6 replies      
Also, Ruby is a better language than Perl. No amount of campaigning will change that.

(Before anyone follows-up with the usual "the right tool for the job", it's not the point here. There are good screwdrivers and bad screwdrivers).

4 points by lwhi 1 day ago 1 reply      
Marketing re-energised the web after the period of downtime after the dot-com crash (O'Reilly and Web 2.0), I'm sure it could similarly re-energise Perl.

EDIT: If Web 2.0 wasn't a well crafted marketing campaign I don't know what is.

3 points by pwpwp 1 day ago 1 reply      
Nice article, although I'd fear a "Project for a New Perl Century". If there were an International Criminal Court for Programmer Rights, Perl should be the first language tried for crimes against programmerdom.
5 points by JonnieCache 1 day ago 1 reply      
Communication skills correlate with social standing. News at 11.


2 points by mfukar 1 day ago 1 reply      
I don't get it; when the Perl folk thought they had to reach the masses, instead of making Perl 5 more accessible to newbies, instead of covering Perl events (a comment on the blog mentions some specialized hardware for doing so - lol), instead of actively pushing Perl projects, they decided to come up with Perl 6!

Yet Perl 6, except from some blog posts describing its utter dominance over Perl 5 performance, still hasn't seen the coverage/promotion it deserves (I'm assuming here, because I'm not using it).

Maybe there are some lessons to be learned here.

3 points by alnewkirk 1 day ago 0 replies      
I guess I'll throw my hat in the ring. Perl is awesome, and since I've been using it practically my entire career and have contributed quite a substantial amount of time developing libraries for CPAN I suppose it my core-competency.

Bottom line, CPAN is awesome ... but lets not be a one trick pony. When you hear things over-and-over you should probably take notice (and maybe even onus). "Perl is not newbie friendly, past or present (modern)", "Perl community is not friendly (rtfm)", "Perl is not used for the new web", "Perl has no good IDE", etc.

I'd like to see Perl restored to its former glory because it is an incredibly versatile language. IMHO, I think Perl developers need to develop more purty public-facing tools, e.g. Websites, Web Apps, Desktop Apps, etc. .. see Lacuna Expanse for example.

CPAN Modules are not public-facing (or are to a point) and do nothing towards altering the perception of Perl.

2 points by pmikal 1 day ago 0 replies      
Hip or un-hip, ChargeSmart loves perl - developers looking for work at a San Francisco based funded payments start-up should email me their details, pmikal [at] ChargeSmart.com.
1 point by bootload 1 day ago 0 replies      
"... Err, yeah well of course Vim is a really nice programming editor, man - why do you think we use it?! ..."

traditionally because if you are on a machine with limited memory vi, vim is the only editor that will load and there is no way you will get me using 'ed' again ~ http://www.faqs.org/docs/artu/ch13s02.html#id2963445

1 point by rgbrgb 18 hours ago 0 replies      
This article kind of made me want to get better at Vim.
New "How Airbnb Works" video (shot at 13 locations around world) airbnb.com
179 points by brianchesky 4 days ago   56 comments top 22
33 points by brianchesky 4 days ago 4 replies      
Fun facts (directly quoted) from Adam Lisagor, who made the video:

* All the locations are real Airbnb places.

* The pretty lady in the video is Venetia Pristavec, who does all the in-house video content for Airbnb, traveling around to different countries and interviewing hosts. She's great.

* Where you see people, those are real Airbnb hosts.

* The site is neat, but you should download the iPhone app. It's one of the best-designed, most beautiful and functional apps I've ever used.

* The cinematographer is my friend Rachel Morrison. She's great.

* That villa with the credit card logos in the pool? It's in Puerto Vallarta. The crew stayed there for a few days. It's great.

* My side of the Scrabble board spells out “COOTYS RAT SEMEN”. Venetia's spells “BEANS”. I won.

13 points by PStamatiou 4 days ago 4 replies      
I spy Adam Lisagor.. or some similarly bearded man. He worked on Square and Birdhouse's videos.

Square: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iBieYjxUj5Q


.. wow square has a lot of videos

Birdhouse: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S8yRaWY1xV8&feature=playe...

7 points by ryanwaggoner 4 days ago 0 replies      
Some more facts by video creator Adam Lisagor http://lonelysandwich.com/

I wonder how much something like this would cost?

7 points by samd 4 days ago 2 replies      
One of the most compelling things about AirBnB is the gorgeous photos of all those unique places. I don't know how they get them. Do they just have lots of hosts with amazing photography skills or do they send people out to take pictures?
5 points by ryandvm 4 days ago 1 reply      
Great video - but man I must have trust issues; because there is no way I'd be letting someone stay in my place if I'm just out of town for the weekend.
9 points by BenSchaechter 4 days ago 1 reply      
This is going to sound so fan-boyish -- but I really respect what team Airbnb has done. Its so exciting to see them continue to kick so much ass and grow.
3 points by jjcm 4 days ago 0 replies      
I just used Airbnb for the first time last week. Had a pretty good experience with it. Stayed at a fellow HN'er's ( ngrandy ) place. A very pleasant experience overall, I'll probably keep using it in lieu of hotels when I travel.

The culture of the site is interesting in itself - it attracts people that don't mind having a stranger in their house. You really have to be a sociable person to allow that, and it shows in the personalities of the hosts (and guests). Makes for a very friendly and welcoming environment.

11 points by anemitz 4 days ago 0 replies      
It passed the "my parents understood it test":) Great vid!
1 point by billpaetzke 4 days ago 0 replies      
I rent an 1-bdrm apt in a small building (about 16-20 tenants) in Los Angeles, CA. It might be obvious if I am having a "guest" over every weekend I'm gone--or for longer trips (like 1-6 weeks traveling).

Would I need to get my landlord's permission? Or is it my right according to CA tenant law? Or somewhere in between?

3 points by jeremydavid 4 days ago 0 replies      
Beautiful video.

I might be moving to London for a few months, and the "stay for a month" line certainly persuaded me to take a look when I do.

1 point by brandnewlow 4 days ago 0 replies      
Great video, but wasn't it fiendishly expensive to make? I assume that means Airbnb is doing well?
2 points by samratjp 4 days ago 0 replies      
And the tipping point is reached :-) Congrats and hope the virality ensues!
2 points by plaguedr 3 days ago 0 replies      
Over the past year, I've kept Airbnb in mind while doing my travel planning. I've made numerous inquiries to book for multiple trips, but am always rejected. One example would be a trip to NYC I took two months ago. I sent out 10 inquires to hosts but they were all rejected. The typical response is a curt, "No longer available," but in all cases I filtered based on availability.

So, it's not as easy as this video implies. For me, it has been something of a headache and a time waster, which is unfortunate because I think their idea is excellent.

(Maybe it is easy if you're a hot hipster waif?)

2 points by miah_ 4 days ago 0 replies      
Watched the video, its definitely interesting. Looks like a super commercial version of http://www.couchsurfing.org/.
2 points by elvirs 4 days ago 0 replies      
how do they prevent renters from robbing the places?
1 point by elvirs 4 days ago 0 replies      
nice to see startups produce great videos about service themselves not involving 'creative' studios that would add boring marketing taste
1 point by dsulli 4 days ago 1 reply      
When I first heard the Airbnb idea - I was really skeptical. This is one of the cases where the actual implementation of the idea turned out better than the pure idea itself.

I've booked a couple of places through the site when I was traveling in California, and the result in both places was better than I would have expected.

1 point by prayag 4 days ago 0 replies      
I have been a couchsurfer for years and love the commmunity. airbnb seems to be exactly like couchsurfing except you have to pay to surf somebody's couch.

Comparing airbnb and couchsurfing experience would be a great exercise in understanding the altruism and economics of the internet and online communities.

2 points by dshankar 4 days ago 2 replies      
Great video - who made it?
1 point by spacehaven 4 days ago 0 replies      
Great video. At first I wondered "what does she do for a living?" then it inspired me: I work from home now. I'm going to seriously consider renting out my house and work from other people's homes instead.
1 point by anonymouse1234 4 days ago 0 replies      
awesome video!!! like, i kinda teared up at the end. really.
-3 points by dirtyhand 4 days ago 0 replies      
Sorry, your “cool” webapp is probably not going to make money paraschopra.com
172 points by paraschopra 19 hours ago   83 comments top 21
33 points by MicahWedemeyer 15 hours ago 3 replies      
Beware the fatigue that sets in with these "boring" money makers. It can be very difficult to keep your motivation high when working on something like this, especially in the beginning where you're not making money and no one takes you seriously. With a funky web app, at least your friends and family might understand it and think it's cool.

Doing a startup already takes a lot of motivation. It's significantly harder if you're working on something that you're not passionate about.

(Note: I don't disagree at all with the author. I just want to point out that there are downsides to this approach as well.)

22 points by jacquesm 16 hours ago 1 reply      
This is absolutely true.

The problem with a market driven approach is that it's hard to convince people to get in to 'glorified bookkeeping' or other stuff like that. Industry applications typically are not sexy but they're a fantastic way to make money because businesses don't have a problem to pay for things that will save them money, time or both.

If you're in it for the money go for b2b any time over b2c, b2c is sexy, everybody will write about you if you score but the fact is you most likely won't.

16 points by angrycoder 12 hours ago 1 reply      
For some, building software is the answer to the question: 'How can I make money?'

For others, building software is the answer to the question: 'What would I do all day if I didn't have to worry about making money?'

17 points by arnorhs 16 hours ago 4 replies      
I think the web app-building crowd here is divided into two groups of hackers: Those who are in it to build businesses and those who just want to create apps that people use.

Everybody likes money, but there's a big group of people out there that only want people to use their apps and are not in it for the money.

7 points by Maro 15 hours ago 2 replies      
The article's market-first approach:

    * Find an industry (ideally, an old fashioned one) where people are making money
* Find the single differentiator which will put your app apart in the already established industry (read or research what pain points are still not addressed by top 3 solutions)
* Make a web app, market it, refine it based on feedback, monetize the app
* Slowly incorporate all standard features expected out of a solution in that industry so you can shoot to be a market leader

I think this sounds great, but the key point is "read or research what pain points are still not addressed by top 3 solutions" which I think is very hard from outside the given industry.

6 points by swombat 16 hours ago 1 reply      
I would add, even better is to start with the delivery channel. If you've got ways to reach a market which spends money, you're yet another step ahead.
4 points by 16s 15 hours ago 0 replies      
Solid advice.

Young people have to learn this the hard way. Today, it seems everyone wants to write a FaceBook type app and be hugely popular with mainstream folks (a household name). However, there are tons of devs (mostly people you seldom ever hear about and who hardly anyone knows) making a great living writing libraries, device drivers and other non-killer, yet useful software.

4 points by slide 12 hours ago 0 replies      
Paraschopra has written one of the secrets to building a low risk/high returns web app which is re-echoed here by the founder of sharefile.com.

In my opinion, those of us who want to build a business from our startup, shouldn't focus on the high risk / high return approach of building b2c apps dependent on advertising and large user base. According to Amy Hoy, we can all easily build a 30 x 500 wep app (http://unicornfree.com/30x500/). That is 500 customers paying $30 per month which gives us $15k monthly and $180,000 annually. With just 500 users and this finances in place, we can then swing for the fences in our second start-up, knowing that we don't have to eat ramen or beg anyone for funding in the beginning. This also ensures we have the power to take investments only from the right kind of investors and more importantly, it put us in a position to retain controlling shares in the new start-up. Two examples of people that took this approach are Dharmesh shah of hubspot and Joel spolsky with stackexchange. These were there second start-ups after selling the 1st in the case of Dharmesh and still making money from fogcreek in the case of Joel.

7 points by revetkn 15 hours ago 1 reply      
"So, instead of an image-gallery app, why not make a survey software specifically targeted at, say, event attendees."

Shameless plug: check out our startup, http://yorn.com, which does exactly this.

4 points by kayoone 17 hours ago 0 replies      
As a startup founder in the internet space i can relate to this very well. For a founder with a technical background like me its hard to sometimes get the thinking off of the details of implementation. I like to think and work on architecture, under-the-hood features, scalability etc, but in the end it wont matter if noone uses the product. Users dont see and dont care for any of that, they want to you improve what they deal with everyday. So you have to find a good balance between that to make your product better but still work on the overall technical structure to keep things smoothly.
Also marketing probably is much more important than the quality of your code or even app.
3 points by jonknee 15 hours ago 0 replies      
That explains what I'm working on right now to a T. It's an industry that is currently being run on fax and lots of manual data entry. A big key for us was having connections with people inside, which made it easier to learn exactly what they were looking for and then ultimately set up sales meetings.
2 points by ojbyrne 16 hours ago 0 replies      
Ideally, you want a "cool" webapp that can provide an entry into a viable market. The "cool" part gets you noticed among early adopters, who talk you up until you get noticed in the marketplace. Because there is some cost in getting into those marketplaces - you have to set up booths at trade shows, or get PR in industry specific publications. "Coolness" can reduce those expenses or help you get partnerships or funding.
1 point by jonknee 13 hours ago 0 replies      
Something to keep in mind in the B2B market is you can charge a lot. Do your research and find out how much time your software will save the company and price your solution closer to that than what it costs you to produce and support. You'll never get a consumer to pay $1,000/m for your web app, but if you can save a company 25 hours a month they're getting a steal.
1 point by cabalamat 12 hours ago 1 reply      
> If making money is the objective, I suggest going with the market-first approach

That's one way to do it, but not the only one. For example, it's not how Apple designs products -- their design criterion is whatever Jobs likes.

1 point by robryan 14 hours ago 0 replies      
I prefer to look at it this way, I'm taking an area where I think the current solutions are lacking and creating a solution was gives value both in terms of time and money saved. Yes as a side effect I can charge decent money for a product which generates more money in savings and extra profit than it costs, but amount of money isn't the real motivation.

I'd much rather work on something that fits this criteria than the so called "cool" webapps.

1 point by middlegeek 14 hours ago 0 replies      
Making money may not be the primary goal of these apps. I for one have been working on a few things that probably will not make me money but are great experience, are teaching me a lot and hopefully will give me a little notoriety for the day I build my first money maker.
2 points by alexro 16 hours ago 1 reply      
Yes, but ... we are on YC site and at least twice a year we hear about cool companies appearing out of the blue with crazy idea and some of them get acquired or start bringing profits.

So, the 'cool' factor will continue to have its benefits and is a good method to actually get going initially.

0 points by SeanDav 14 hours ago 3 replies      
No disrespect at all to the author, but when I see advice on how to do something I always ask. "What have you done that proves that your advice works?"

If this came from Paul Graham, I would probably sit up and take notice but here, meh.

Still the blog is well written and the advice is worth a try if you are wired that way.

1 point by angdis 15 hours ago 0 replies      
The key word here is _probably_.

There is room enough for both blue-sky idealists and pragmatic business grinders. We need both and both are likely to fail more often than they succeed.

It might be easy to criticize somebody who follows their passion and then fails on business issues but there are many ways to measure "success" and not all of them line up with a VC's definition of "success".

1 point by gersh 7 hours ago 0 replies      
1/10 isn't bad odds. After your fifth app, you should have pretty good odds.
2 points by evolution 14 hours ago 0 replies      
"Money or the ability to make it doesn't impress anybody around here. " -- Mark Zuckerberg (the social network)
Cwora - taking the piss out of Quora cwora.com
172 points by instakill 3 days ago   62 comments top 15
50 points by cagenut 3 days ago 3 replies      
Hey guys I'm busy flipping my convertible note into what I'm calling a "second seed" round from a bunch of big name Angels for my social-mobile startup and I was talking to an advisor (totally gonna be on the board when we get our Series A) about how its time to add a technical co-founder who can really take the lead on all the implementation stuff we've got in mind and I was wondering if anyone knew the best places to find technical co-founders who are interesting in joining a startup (no salary, 5%)?

Also if you have ideas for the product we should start with, we haven't decided yet, we just really wanna own the social mobile space.

edit: also, can anyone recommended the best bars and restaurants in nyc to network with other social mobile startups?

5 points by achompas 3 days ago 3 replies      
I'm really disappointed by the state of Quora in the last week. There has been a flood of useless answers into once-useful questions and terrible questions into once-excellent topics. The state of the "Entrepreneurship" and "Startups" topics must be abysmal right now.

Quora could remedy this by identifying redundant questions for new posters. Let's say someone asks where to find the best technical founders in City A. Instead of accepting that question, Quora should suggest that they look at topics on "how to find technical founders" and "how to develop enough technical skills to produce a MVP." Many message boards use this right now.

I've only posted one (unique) question, so maybe Quora filters posts in this manner and I haven't come across it. Regardless, I'm amazed at how a crowd-sourced site can lose quality as it gains traction.

12 points by kongqiu 3 days ago 0 replies      
Cwora - that's Welsh for "Yahoo! Answers", no?
3 points by nicholasjbs 3 days ago 0 replies      
Suggestion for anyone inundated with Quora auto-follow spam: Go here: http://www.quora.com/settings/index

and click "Email Settings" -> "User-related" and then uncheck "Someone starts following me"

3 points by jrockway 3 days ago 8 replies      
What do you do with the piss once you extract it? I have always wondered...
4 points by cfontes 3 days ago 0 replies      
I find it painfully hard to post a question there, it's always pointing to some kind of error, but we get no feedback from the site to what is wrong...

Nice Idea but I think It will take some time to evolve into a nice business, it's like twitter, the business model there will be very confusing.

Cheers from Brazil !

3 points by ddkrone 3 days ago 0 replies      
Good thing I got kicked off for running a script to follow every possible person and every possible question on the site.
3 points by Zakuzaa 3 days ago 2 replies      
Gorilla Marketing. (for himself)
1 point by look_lookatme 3 days ago 0 replies      
Someone could do this for Hacker News but merely focus on Facebook rage.
1 point by elvirs 3 days ago 1 reply      
Seriously, one needs a detailed filter set to navigate through overwhelming stream (or mess) of questions on quora.
2 points by jpcx01 3 days ago 0 replies      
Brilliant. Funniest thing I've seen all year
1 point by user24 3 days ago 1 reply      
funny, but rather pointless...
-4 points by kgosser 3 days ago 0 replies      
I don't get it.
-4 points by kubaf 3 days ago 0 replies      
what a waste of time (creator time)...
-4 points by paraschopra 3 days ago 4 replies      
This guy should simply stop using Quora if he is pissed off by endless stream of discussions. Why go great lengths to mock it? I don't see any point in this effort.
Vim Recipes runpaint.org
171 points by telemachos 3 days ago   25 comments top 4
14 points by idoh 3 days ago 6 replies      
This is pretty nice! My wish for these types of things - can you just put out a big list key combos to browse through? I know the basic concepts of vim but I just want to see how the commands can be strung together. Something like:

- ggVG: highlight the whole file

- jj: escape (this is in my .vimrc, not standard)

- xp: swap letters

- vab: highlight an s-exp (inluding the parens)

- gt: go to the next tab to the right

- gT: go to the next tab to the left

- :tabnew: open a new tab (you can also add a file after that)

- daw: delete a word

- das: deletes the sentence under the cursor

- dap: deletes the paragraph under the cursor

- vas: selects the sentence under the cursor

- ci(: deletes the inner content of a parens, puts you in insert mode

- q[key][whatever]q: records a macro

- @[key]: plays back the macro

- ZZ: save and close the current window

2 points by draebek 3 days ago 0 replies      
In case anyone else was wondering, the PDF appears to have been generated from HTML using "Prince" http://www.princexml.com/.
1 point by pasbesoin 3 days ago 1 reply      
I just ran across the following, today:

Vim offers strong file encryption with Blowfish


Haven't looked into it much, yet. On a Windows machine, today, where I did notice that it seems to bork tab-based autocompletion when specifying a filename while saving (^I doesn't trigger autocompletion).

EDIT: Credit due to:


1 point by mixman 2 days ago 0 replies      
I tried journeying into Vim, but failed, sticking to Netbeans for mainly python-development.

Highlights that made me uneasy:

- Often I'd find myself with an accidentally closed gvim, having to open up working projects all over again.

- Overview of source changes with more control: Changes in n files pops up n vimdiff windows.

Richard Feynman and The Connection Machine longnow.org
159 points by fogus 3 days ago   46 comments top 15
14 points by Jun8 3 days ago 5 replies      
I had read this before but went ahead and read it again anyway and was again struck by the practicality of Feynman's genius.

However, as always, every genius has their undesirable part:

"The charming side of Richard helped people forgive him for his uncharming characteristics. For example, in many ways Richard was a sexist. Whenever it came time for his daily bowl of soup he would look around for the nearest "girl" and ask if she would fetch it to him. It did not matter if she was the cook, an engineer, or the president of the company. I once asked a female engineer who had just been a victim of this if it bothered her. "Yes, it really annoys me," she said. "On the other hand, he is the only one who ever explained quantum mechanics to me as if I could understand it." That was the essence of Richard's charm."

When I was reading Feynman's biography (Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman!) one thing that really bothered me was the big difference in his approach to his son and daughter. He seemed to relish how, when his young boy got his interesting games, but sounded quite impatient with his daughter, saying she only wanted the same story repeated to her.

30 points by dy 3 days ago 2 replies      
I'm always amazed at the breadth and depth of Feynman's genius. My favorite story of Feynman is his calculation of the size of the first nuclear explosion and then driving to just a few miles outside the blast radius (much closer than his colleagues were willing to watch from). That's a level of mental confidence that I can't even begin to imagine possessing.

Surely You're Joking is a great read - one of those "drop what you're doing and read it now" kinds of books.

6 points by joshu 3 days ago 0 replies      
I've spent a little bit of time with Danny. He's astonishingly smart. So to hear him talk about someone else like that makes me jealous I couldn't have been around.
13 points by jasongullickson 3 days ago 0 replies      
This is my favorite line:

"That sounds like a bunch of baloney," he said. "Give me something real to do."

...advice for the ages!

10 points by Florin_Andrei 3 days ago 1 reply      
"By the end of that summer of 1983, Richard had completed his analysis of the behavior of the router, and much to our surprise and amusement, he presented his answer in the form of a set of partial differential equations. To a physicist this may seem natural, but to a computer designer, treating a set of boolean circuits as a continuous, differentiable system is a bit strange. Feynman's router equations were in terms of variables representing continuous quantities such as "the average number of 1 bits in a message address." I was much more accustomed to seeing analysis in terms of inductive proof and case analysis than taking the derivative of "the number of 1's" with respect to time."


7 points by sz 3 days ago 2 replies      
A good read every time. This part stood out:

"In retrospect I realize that in almost everything that we worked on together, we were both amateurs. In digital physics, neural networks, even parallel computing, we never really knew what we were doing. But the things that we studied were so new that no one else knew exactly what they were doing either. It was amateurs who made the progress."

2 points by keeptrying 3 days ago 1 reply      
I cant seem to get to the article but I think I know which article this is. I'm a huge fan.

I especially like how the machine was initially designed so that it required 4 chips per board. But when they were about to start manufacturing the boards, they realized that present technology couldnt fit 4 chips per board.

Feynman it seems modeled the system via set of partial differential equations and then said that he had proved that 3 chips per board were enough and modeled how the system would work even in this configuration.

No one really understood what he had done but they trusted him, created the boards and it turned out he was right.

This story I believe was in an Scientific American a long time ago.

6 points by monk_the_dog 3 days ago 0 replies      
Here's another favorite story from thinking machines: The Rise and Fall of Thinking Machines


For what it's worth, last I heard Sheryl Handler was running Ab Initio. I wonder if she's really the nutcase the article makes her out to be.

7 points by Brashman 3 days ago 1 reply      
I thought this was an especially interesting point:

"Every great man that I have known has had a certain time and place in their life that they use as a reference point; a time when things worked as they were supposed to and great things were accomplished."

5 points by leogau 3 days ago 0 replies      
"Richard made people feel like a child does, when a grown-up first treats him as an adult. He was never afraid of telling the truth, and however foolish your question was, he never made you feel like a fool."

I don't know much about Feynman but the combination of his brilliance and his popularity has always intrigued me. Surely we can assimilate some of Feynman's charm.

4 points by akadien 3 days ago 0 replies      
This story never gets too old to re-read.
2 points by protomyth 3 days ago 1 reply      
I do wonder if any of the parallel features of their Lisp will ever migrate into newer Lisp / Scheme implementations.
2 points by jasongullickson 3 days ago 0 replies      
Are any of you aware of more information on the "parallel version of Basic" mentioned?
1 point by srean 3 days ago 1 reply      
My comment should really be an Ask HN. But is it conceivable to build a CM-5 class computer on FPGA boards ? Any idea how much that would cost if it was possible ?
-4 points by zslwork 3 days ago 0 replies      
yes you all are right and even i would like to revisit this
The Python Paradox paulgraham.com
150 points by tswicegood 2 days ago   78 comments top 15
28 points by samratjp 1 day ago 3 replies      
The single most reason why a language X (it's python for me today) wins my heart is not because it's extra fancy or anything but the times when it gets out of my way to let me think about the problem and then everything else seems clearer. I write a lot in both Python and Ruby, but the days when I have to dig into my old code, Python readability trumps over Ruby's (or anything else for that matter).
15 points by Tycho 1 day ago 3 replies      
The real reason I prefer Macs to PCs is that I find the 'mental environment' more pleasant. Uncluttered. Spacious. While you're working at a computer you almost inhabit it, and while you may not have a luxurious apartment, you can probably afford an iMac. I take it a step further by avoiding any software that doesn't live up to the Mac 'feel.'

I describe it to people as 'feng-shui' for computers. I'm surprised I've not seen that concept mentioned more in connection with programming. Python is probably my favourite language. Probably due to the white-spacing more than anything. And lack of those damn brackets.

14 points by coderdude 1 day ago 3 replies      
Purely meta: It would be nice if HN could automatically show links to the discussions that took place the numerous other times this and other links have been submitted and front-paged. Seems like a lot of waste if each batch of HN users has to re-discuss the article from scratch. I tried Googling for the rest of them but so many irrelevant pages came up that I just gave up.
12 points by illumen 1 day ago 3 replies      
The python paradox is not true anymore - since it is taught in so many schools these days. Unlike in 2004 when the article was written.

However the main thesis holds true still... just replace python with haskell, erlang, clojure, or some other esoteric language.

8 points by gsivil 1 day ago 0 replies      
"And people don't learn Python because it will get them a job; they learn it because they genuinely like to program and aren't satisfied with the languages they already know." This seems that is not the case anymore. I think that since Python became more popular even in big corporations (see Google) the Python Paradox should be in 2011 something else. You name it. The ideas expressed in the essay are of course still relevant but the example maybe has lost some of its accuracy.
16 points by abdulla 1 day ago 1 reply      
For me, I find Lua has more clarity and consistency than Python. From the design of the language, to its implementation, to it's C API --- it's a very beautiful language.
4 points by julius_geezer 1 day ago 0 replies      
Actually, I learned it chiefly because what it would do for me on Windows: a REPL plus access to COM. Need to bash around Excel spreadsheets & do funky regexp stuff? Done. Do I like it? A lot? You bet. But I didn't pick it up out of some existential need to improve myself.
14 points by sero 1 day ago 1 reply      
Just in case anyone doesn't notice, this essay is from 2004. The basic premise is still a good one, even >6 years later.
2 points by Stormbringer 1 day ago 0 replies      
Last time I looked into Python, I was reading something where the guy was going on about how awesome it is to get rid of all the cruft of C syntax, the semicolons and braces.

Then as I started getting into it, and thinking to myself, yeah, a lot of that cruft is just unnecessary, getting rid of it would be awesome... I tripped over the underscores and passing of self in Python.

If the whole point of your syntax is to get rid of old ugly syntax cruft, don't introduce new ugly syntax cruft at the same time.

4 points by slee029 1 day ago 1 reply      
this article holds especially true for non-technical entrepreneurs deciding which language to choose. while the supply of developers may be lower for languages such as ruby or python, you find a much more enthusiastic crowd of developers who in general seem to already have graduated from another language such as php. thus, from a business non-technical background, by choosing an enthusiast type language such as ruby it made it easier to narrow down quality developers with the right mentality as a technical co-founder than say a language with a large supply of developers such as php.
4 points by kenjackson 1 day ago 2 replies      
The now language is Haskell.
1 point by epynonymous 1 day ago 0 replies      
very nice article, python's also my choice of coding language. i started with c/c++ in college and then moved on to use c++/java at my first job. but for the past 5 years it's been all python. i'd like to say that the reason is the speed with which i can write applications; not having to think about types, managing memory, or compiling source code helps remove some of the barriers that plague software development for me. time is money and most of the time i feel that i'm able to write applications much faster in python.

the language seems to blend all the best things, i'm never at a loss of finding a good open source library for python and it's most of all relevant. so even while ruby seems to be really popular at the moment because of the rails framework, python also has equivalent* web app frameworks such as django. i remember reading an article by the creator of python where he was praising the php language for having purpose built the language for the web and how python was more generic and less suited for the web (no reference at the moment), today there are lots of excellent web frameworks for python such as tornado web. so python is modern, it has adapted over the years quite nicely, and most importantly it just lets me do what i need to do.

1 point by aidos 1 day ago 0 replies      
While I agree with the approach described, in practice things can be a little different.

We decided to start using python in our agency a couple of years ago. We really love it but since that time we've really struggled to hire good people. Even in a big city like London we can't seem to find python devs that also have the other skills required for the agency world.

When I interviewed for this job we bonded over a shared interest in erlang (4 years ago). You don't need to use it internally but if you have a candidate who is interested in something like erlang, they're (probably) deeply interested in programming.

That's going probably a safer approach. Find people who do have an interest in the more obscure parts of software development (easy to gauge in a phone interview) whilst still practicing a more common language.

My point is that there's a much bigger picture to language choice. I'd rather be trying to find perfect candidates from a flood of ruby cvs than struggling to find any candidates at all from insert lesser known language cvs.

1 point by kakaylor 1 day ago 1 reply      
This essay does assume, of course, that you can find enough developers in your locality that can write software competently in Python.

A few years ago I developed software (engine diagnostic/programming) for a large semi-truck manufacture in the Midwest. Our primary concern when selecting a language for a new product/project was whether or not we could find developers who were competent in that language. That almost always meant we chose Java because that is what our local developer pool was competent in.

0 points by ryanpers 1 day ago 2 replies      
The strange thing about python is it is almost TOO easy. I have worked with developers who preferred python because basically they were not great developers. The ease of development and attractiveness of the speed of development was a lure.

The only problem is the overall systems they wrote were bulky, not efficient and generally over-engineered. Very not hacker like. For example using threads in python, a very big no no that can and does cause many performance issues. Designing python middleware that had no reason to exist other than to be a cool project to build.

And so on and so forth. Painful.

Why Your Form Buttons Should Never Say 'Submit' uxmovement.com
146 points by smashing_mag 3 days ago   55 comments top 16
42 points by patio11 3 days ago 2 replies      
Everybody already knows what I'm going to say but by golly it is the right answer: test which one performs better for your site. 2 + 2 = 4, in the time it takes two highly paid people to debate "Submit!" versus "Sign up" you can have the A/B test already running and be back doing productive stuff.
54 points by bphogan 3 days ago 1 reply      
I can't believe that 16 years after forms first appeard on the web we're still having this discussion.

Using "submit" as your label? So are thousands of other sites. Your users won't be confused.

Using something more descriptive? That's fine too. Maybe it looks a little nicer and less generic. But it's not a usability problem.

Don't worry about this for a second. Instead focus on the real problems, like creating usable and accessible form fields with associated labels. Write easy to follow directions that explain which fields are required and what format you're expecting (or write better error handling techniques to accept a variety of inputs.) Write and make visible appropriate error messages to help your users through the process so they don't make mistakes. Record the mistakes they make so you can use that data to engineer your forms in ways that reduce user errors.

There are so many other things worth your attention.

38 points by extension 3 days ago 4 replies      
The trouble with putting the current task on the submit button is that the user is already doing that task and they might think that the button is a link to start the task over, particularly if they clicked on identical text to get to the form in the first place. I have personally made this mistake while using some sites.

I try to include some context in the submit button but still make it clear that it will submit the form. Short, generic verbs seem to work well, like "Save", "Delete", or "Send".

EDIT: thinking more about this, I think what's important is to use a verb that applies specifically to the form data as opposed to the whole task: You send a reply, you don't reply a reply.

7 points by mrkurt 3 days ago 0 replies      
I would argue that the "do something" button should focus more on where you are in the process than the process itself. The examples in the page all sound like the "start" step, instead they should reflect that they're finishing or moving the user on to the next step. "Submit" is generic, but at least sounds final.

The reality, though, is that we're all guessing. Unless you go to the effort to A/B test something like that, it's just voodoo.

9 points by larrik 3 days ago 2 replies      
I think the analogy of "submitting a form" is perfectly reasonable to average folks. It's akin to giving a form to the receptionist at the doctor's office through the window:

1. You get form, and go fill it out

2. You bring back the form and hand it to the receptionist

3. You get a range of responses ranging from nothing to a helpful answer.

Sounds exactly like an HTML form to me.

Is this the sort of parallel you want your users thinking of? Probably not, but it's also not some arcane terminology only programmers use either.

(edited for formatting)

5 points by kolya3 3 days ago 5 replies      
I received user feedback from a woman who said our submit button was "vile" and "sexist" because the label on it said "Submit". It took me a second to process. I can't imagine the emotions bubbling up inside her every day that she browses the web.

But regardless, we'll be changing the "Submit" button to "Sign In".

4 points by jayzee 3 days ago 0 replies      
Read this somewhere:

The internet is like a dominatrix. Everywhere I turn it asks me to submit.

2 points by zephjc 3 days ago 3 replies      
This harkens back to Windows vs Mac conventions for alerts (see http://developer.apple.com/ue/switch/windows.html#designClea... )
3 points by mayank 3 days ago 0 replies      
...unless of course you're running a BDSM site.
2 points by tokenadult 3 days ago 0 replies      
This is an empirical question, and ought to be resolved by actual user data from a usability study.
1 point by k0n2ad 2 days ago 0 replies      
Darn, I was planning on having a Submit! button for when I become supreme dictator. Of course I'd have my own website.
2 points by 5teev 2 days ago 0 replies      
It's sometimes worthwhile to use boring, "wrong" default form elements, like when the browser will automatically translate their text labels into the user's preferred (i.e., non-English) language.
1 point by nfriedly 2 days ago 0 replies      
I'd rather the submit button say "Submit" than have any "Reset" button anywhere. I hate it when I accidentally click those.
1 point by stephenou 2 days ago 0 replies      
I noticed http://news.ycombinator.com/submit said submit on the button too.
0 points by richcollins 3 days ago 1 reply      
Submit buttons are bad UI to start with. All content should be directly editable. You don't see a submit button on word processors.
1 point by Joakal 2 days ago 1 reply      

In examples provided, 'submit' is used. "Never say 'Submit'" indeed.

Production is Red, Development is Blue github.com
145 points by jeffmiller 11 hours ago   43 comments top 15
42 points by KrisJordan 10 hours ago 5 replies      
To get a red prompt drop this line in your ~/.bashrc file on your production server:

PS1='\[\e[1;31m\][\u@\h \W]\$\[\e[0m\] '

We use this in our production environments and the red prompt, though not as jarring as a red background, is still scary enough to serve its purpose.

One upside in setting this up on the server, as opposed to local like the OP, is that all connections in will get the red prompt.

44 points by joshfinnie 10 hours ago 4 replies      
I think it is time to add *.github.com to the filter list. I read through the whole post before I realized it was not from GitHub, but someone who hosts on github. We do it for blogger etc, can we get github added?
9 points by Loic 9 hours ago 3 replies      
You should never ssh into a production system, everything should be going through automated scripts. Doing this will really save your life. For me this means:

  $ fab deploy
... oups errors on the website even if tested on stagging ...
$ fab getdebuglog
$ fab rollback
... fix test ...
$ fab deploy

fab is fabric, a very very nice deployment tool in Python: http://www.fabfile.org

8 points by protomyth 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Did this at one place I worked for terminals and sql windows (red = prod, green = dev, yellow = test). It does tend to inform you coworkers if they should really be asking you stuff when you have a whole screen of red.
1 point by morganpyne 2 hours ago 0 replies      
I like this idea, and used to have a whole spectrum of color-coded terminals when I looked after dozens of boxes years ago at a large company. It proved to be very useful because although we did automate most activity on the machines (using cfengine + other tools) I still found myself logging in regularly to various machines and could often have many terminals on screen.

However... the color coding can be a bit misleading sometimes, particularly if you are chaining SSH sessions and the colors are being set on terminal launch (not on shell login). I was using PuTTY config settings for color on my company-mandated Windows machine and soon found the limitations of this when I logged in to machine A (green), then from there to machine B (red). The terminal was still green and some time later I trusted the color and ran a (destructive) command in the wrong shell. This reinforced to me that while useful, color is no substitute for thinking before typing, and double checking everything before performing destructive operations :-)

4 points by stephen 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Doing the same thing for the webapp is also useful--it serves as visual reminder to QA folk that the production box (white background) is /not/ someplace they should be running test scenarios (vs. the QA box with an orange/whatever background).

Also, you can use different colors for different QA boxes--"I need blue qa deployed" or "That fix is in black qa".

(Yes, this was an enterprise environment, why do you ask?)

5 points by sghael 10 hours ago 0 replies      
We do this in a different context for our webapp work. We have three primary environments: development, staging and production. We code a contextual, 20px high, colored div at the top of our master template. It's red for development, yellow for staging, and doesn't exist in production (i know it seems backwards, but you can't really show an extra red bar in production :p ). It also somewhere we dump out some quick and dirty debug info.

I've been burned too many times when jumping back and forth between production and dev browser tabs. This simple hack saves me time, and possibly some headaches.

3 points by gmac 8 hours ago 0 replies      
I now run Byobu on my servers -- it's made my sysadmin life substantially better -- and for each server I pick a different color for the status bar along the bottom.

Production is red for me too. Like this: http://img.ly/images/663862/full

3 points by moe 10 hours ago 1 reply      
Colorful shell prompts can be used for the same purpose.
1 point by pavel_lishin 8 hours ago 0 replies      
I just set up the command line colors to be different on production vs. development machines - I like my terminal backgrounds black, and regular text white.
1 point by swombat 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Here's the same for those of us on Macs and who like transparent Terminals.


2 points by Luyt 10 hours ago 0 replies      
I do this by setting the Window Background Color in saved sessions in PuTTY. Works great! (The different colors for different machines, I mean).
2 points by olalonde 10 hours ago 4 replies      
Any chance it is possible to accomplish on Ubuntu?
1 point by comex 2 hours ago 0 replies      
Debugging is sweet,

And so are you.

1 point by reedlaw 6 hours ago 0 replies      
This doesn't work with GNU Screen.
Trimensional: 3D Scanner for iPhone trimensional.com
147 points by GrantS 4 days ago   36 comments top 10
28 points by motters 4 days ago 1 reply      
This is a shape from shading approach, which will only work if you're in the dark, with the phone as the only illumination source. If white dots are shown in different places on the screen, and assuming the phone and subject don't move during the process, surface normals can be computed from the resulting images, and once you have the normals then the shape can be approximated. Normals can be found by calculating the angle of maximum reflectance for each pixel for a series of images under different illuminations.

See this Google video for a similar technique. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rxNg-tXPPWc

15 points by antirez 4 days ago 1 reply      
Very cool and very uncool.

Cool: that it works in a decent way, and uses a neat trick.

Uncool: You can't export the image into a 3D file, making it 99% less useful that it would be otherwise.

Suggestion: export it as VRML, it's trivial format that you can generate starting from your points. Use this format (from my own code, so use it as you wish):

"#VRML V2.0 utf8\n"
"Shape {\n"
" appearance Appearance {\n"
" material Material {\n"
" diffuseColor .5 .5 .5\n"
" }\n"
" }\n"
" geometry ElevationGrid {\n"
" xDimension %d\n"
" zDimension %d\n"
" xSpacing 0.01\n"
" zSpacing 0.01\n"
" solid FALSE\n"
" creaseAngle 6.28\n"
" height [\n", hgt->width, hgt->height

for (y = 0; y < hgt->height ; y++) {
for (x = 0; x < hgt->width; x++) {
height = getheight(x,y);
fprintf(fp, "%f", h);
if (y != hgt->height-1 && x != hgt->width-1) fprintf(fp,",");
if (x == hgt->width) fprintf(fp,"\n");

" ]\n"
" }\n"

3d studio and other programs will happily import this stuff.

14 points by tobtoh 4 days ago 1 reply      
Cool app. But I have a pet peeve with information pages that only provide video as a description. Whilst I understand that especially for an app like this, the best 'information' is to demonstrate how it works via a video, it doesn't help people a. just want to get a quick one line explanation of what your app does and/or b. can't watch the video at the time (slow connection, work restriction etc).

If I hadn't been at home, I would have just left the page and moved onto to something else - missed sale.

6 points by magicseth 4 days ago 0 replies      
I tried it this morning in the pitch black. It worked pretty well. The effect was mostly comical with some distortion. The most interesting aspect is how people are taking all these things that at first pass would be considered "impossible," applying some ingenuity and hard work to them, and pushing the limits of this technology.
3 points by lliiffee 4 days ago 2 replies      
Looks like it just uses the reflected intensity to estimate the depth, then pastes the original colormap on top of that? Incredibly clever and simple hack.
1 point by Samuel_Michon 4 days ago 0 replies      
HTTP Error 503. Video can be found here:


1 point by ericb 4 days ago 2 replies      
The fact that this only works in the dark made me wonder, how much of what the Kinect does could be possible on an iPhone, and what would be needed to get there? 2 Cameras? What else?
1 point by nickpinkston 4 days ago 0 replies      
Is this related to the webcam 3D scanner video that was in the news about s year ago? I'd be interesting to check out.
2 points by kirpekar 4 days ago 0 replies      
What can one use this for?
2 points by jfeldstein2 4 days ago 0 replies      
Can't wait until someone pipes this into a reprap.
Bayesian stats book banned in China columbia.edu
142 points by agconway 13 hours ago   74 comments top 10
51 points by lightoverhead 11 hours ago 8 replies      
Hi Guys,

I am from China, and of course the Bayesian is taught in China. Only in the culture revolution time, this crazy thing may happen; but it's long time ago when Mao was alive.
Now China is a modern society; of course, the Bayesian theory is taught in schools; otherwise how could they send the spaceship to the outer space and have the fastest super computer in the world so far.
you are smart hackers, not a bunch of kids controlled by traditional biases.
As to censorship, that's right, china has notorious censorship. I guess the author's book must have some contents/examples regarding political issues; not Bayesian itself was the reason for the book being censored.
These days, when people talked about censorship, I always think of wiki-leaks ......

22 points by pmichaud 12 hours ago 4 replies      
Is there any way to find out the specific reason the book was not allowed to be published?
5 points by est 6 hours ago 0 replies      
1. You can still buy this book in Chinese online book stores



2. As a Chinese myself, I can confirm Bayesian is not taught in high school statistics, but defintely taught in college statistics course. It's called 贝叶-概率 in Chinese.

31 points by danielhfrank 12 hours ago 0 replies      
"I think that the next printing of our book should have "Banned in China" slapped on the cover. That should be good for sales, right?"

I would buy that in a heartbeat

19 points by john_horton 12 hours ago 0 replies      
Strange that it was banned. Maybe it had to do with the vignettes---some of the examples are from political science (e.g., election results, polling) and another deals with arsenic in drinking water...or maybe Hu Jintao feels the way to deal with hierarchal data is to cluster standard errors.
3 points by jcr 9 hours ago 1 reply      
I realize the "Death to the Shaw" spelled out by the first word of every seventeenth page was supposed to be a joke, but it is not very funny in light of the recent events of the last handful of days:


Though I viciously dislike of all forms of royalty, they are still human beings and they did not get a choice about being born into the nonsense.

42 points by michaelty 13 hours ago 1 reply      
Pfft, frequentists.
4 points by kia 12 hours ago 3 replies      
I didn't realize that things in China are that crazy...
1 point by riobard 7 hours ago 0 replies      
I remember when I was taking an entry-level Economics course in China. We were using Paul Samuelson's classic textbook “Economics”. The English version mentioned China in some not-so-pretty examples. Apparently the translated Chinese version replaced “China” with a generic “One country”.
2 points by nkurz 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Yes, and the purpose of this post is to decipher that reason. From your certainty, it sounds like you might be in a position to offer it?
A warning to hackers: be careful building on Twitter's API hoisie.com
142 points by marketer 4 days ago   49 comments top 20
45 points by davidu 4 days ago 4 replies      
My platform is called the Internet.

I'm still subject to some rules, but a heck of a lot less than the gardens you guys develop in like Facebook, Twitter and AOL.

I included AOL, because while it seems ridiculous someone would do that today, people used to until they got horrifically burned, and I think it'll be the same with non-decentralized platforms like FB and Twitter in the future.

Once again, my platform is the Internet.

26 points by jgilliam 4 days ago 3 replies      
Twitter's new official app for the Mac violates several of these display guidelines.
9 points by fingerprinter 4 days ago 1 reply      
They own the data. It is their ball and they can basically say "I'm taking my ball and going home".

Facebook, twitter, linkedin, google. All of them are in the data business and sell that data to make a profit. They don't really care about the devs as they just see the devs as a way to bring people to their ecosystem; the more small apps people write, the more ways they might be able to get data. But, if they get big enough, and all of them have, they can cut you out.

I understand building a business around someone else's data (cottage industry), and I would never say not to do it, but it isn't without peril. Though, I would do it in a heartbeat for a lifestyle business that I knew I could pivot on or build another if it failed.

6 points by jrockway 4 days ago 1 reply      
Obviously Twitter does not want you to copy "their" data to Facebook. They don't get any money when you do that, and they want money. Hence, a problem.

There are several ways to get around this. Be a middleman that publishes to both Facebook and Twitter (a reverse FriendFeed). Or, sell a software product for the user to use to move his own tweets to Facebook. A user obviously owns his own content and can put it wherever he wants. A third party app, perhaps not.

(Also, why not just get tweets via whatever method the native UI gets tweets from? Do it from AWS if you are concerned about an IP ban.)

7 points by martinkallstrom 3 days ago 0 replies      
I would see this as an opportunity. You have an app that has hit a hard limit in terms of number of users. It is clearly a useful app, otherwise it wouldnt be growing.

The natural thing to do is to make it a paid solution. You inform your users of the situation and say that in order to keep the service up and running you will start charging a signup fee of $1, the same as you would pay for a mobile app. Existing users however, get 50% off and only pays $.50. Give them a month to paypal it in and then another month of repeated notices to inactive users. After two months there will probably 50k+ users you will have to close out from the service. But give them an option to restore it easily.

This is not at all unreasonable, no one would ever be able to say so. Above all it would be a tremendous learning experience for you. Perhaps you also will make a few thousand dollars in the process, but that would not be the point.

There are two alternatives to this as I see it. Either you do the above but the only thing you require is for users to manually report in by clicking a button in a form. You will still be able to weed out thousands of accounts.

The other is to set up Smart Tweets 2, hosted on another ip, and refer new users there. Explain why and make it into something funny for the users.

Whatever you do, do something bold enough to make it to Techcrunch a second time.

12 points by lhnn 4 days ago 1 reply      
the author has some points, but he does not mention something obvious to the reader: He was always at the mercy of Twitter. It was his fortune that the cap was increased at his whim, and only now have they stopped it, for whatever reason.

The reason sounds fishy, and his retort is well-founded, but it's an important thing to note.

10 points by Aaronontheweb 4 days ago 0 replies      
This story rings true for any popular app that depends on a third-party service, not just Twitter - often times you're at the mercy of the host once you become big enough to be noticed.
3 points by lacker 4 days ago 0 replies      
Of course you're at their mercy. This is the nature of using a third-party API. If you violate their rules, you have to accept the risk that they shut you down in the future, even if their rules aren't optimal for your app's user experience.

I recommend that you alter your product to conform to their rules, even if it makes your product a bit worse.

2 points by A1kmm 3 days ago 0 replies      
The way around API limitations on how much data can be read is to resort to scraping. However, Twitter probably blocks individual IPs that access too much data. The solution to that is to convince enough users to install software that lets you access their website - preferably via forwarded SSL so your users can't compromise data integrity. Users get some reward, presumably quite small, for relaying the requests for you.

The scheme could be opened to provide unofficial paid APIs for Twitter and other 'walled gardens' that make data available to unauthenticated users on the Internet.

2 points by dacort 4 days ago 0 replies      
As I realized after Twitter's "developer" conference last year, the era of the Twitter hacker is coming to a close (see http://twitter.com/#!/dacort/status/12005978721 and http://twitter.com/#!/dacort/status/12032959629). If you are not building a business on their platform where money will pass into their business, good luck.

And who can blame them, providing 100,000 user tweets isn't free. Not sure where he got the idea he would never have to start paying.

Turning off basic auth also hastened this demise - whereas you could once pull whatever data you wanted from Twitter using a simple curl command, now you have to figure out OAuth. It's not that much of a challenge, but it is enough of a barrier to entry to dissuade somebody who's got a couple hours on the weekend and wants to have some fun.

Finally, their partnership with Gnip is yet another indicator that this is simply not the days of the wild west anymore. You want the data, you'll have to pay.

1 point by citricsquid 4 days ago 0 replies      
with regards to the lack of approval, could it be that Twitter want to avoid app redundancy to save resources? 100,000 of these requests can't be cheap for them, so when there are already multiple apps do what this one does does it not make sense for them to say they're no longer supporting most to save money?

I could be way off the mark, but that's how it appears to me. Multiple apps with the same purpose that require lots of resources... makes sense to stick with one or two high users and limit the rest.

3 points by rsarver 3 days ago 0 replies      
I've been following the thread and I commented on Michael's site, but thought it would be worth sharing on here as well: http://hoisie.com/post/a_warning_to_hackers_be_careful_build...

Since most of you probably don't know me, I'm director of the platform at Twitter.

Let me know any questions/comments you might have. I'm interested in an open discussion about it.

Ryan / @rsarver

1 point by ErrantX 3 days ago 1 reply      
I had an even worse issue (entirely my own fault) which highlights the dangers of building on another platform. My app (tweetbars.com) had a tiny flaw in that it didn't time out the Curl calls to the Twitter API, and my host didn't kill hanging php executions.

So when Twitter started hanging (and eventually timing out after a minute or so) the app basically ate one of their shared servers and the host took my whole account down for 24 hours.

2 points by rwhitman 4 days ago 0 replies      
Crap, I have an app that was build long, long before display guidelines existed (heck even hash tags didn't exist yet!). No time or energy to fix it.

And honestly, that style guide is ridiculous. Way to alienate your earliest champions, Twitter.

2 points by wslh 4 days ago 0 replies      
With Microsoft monopoly you always had the opportunity to reverse engineering the OS but when you can't see the binaries because they are in the cloud you're in trouble, it's worse than closed source.

Building your business around web apis without an SLA is the most risky business, you don't have control,

Enjoy your 15 minutes of your application placebo fame!

2 points by fookyong 4 days ago 2 replies      
what is the 100k follow limit and why does it break your app?
2 points by jv22222 3 days ago 0 replies      
I've had a whole litany of issues with Twitter doing stuff like this... but ultimately I've found work-arounds. It just depends how committed you are and how much time you have to make the fixes! More info here: http://pluggio.com/blog/
1 point by dedward 4 days ago 1 reply      
One should normally be careful of any freely available service - they owe you nothing. If you really want to partner with twitter for a cool app, approach them about signing an official agreement or something, no?
2 points by echaozh 3 days ago 0 replies      
Microblogging sites in China are thriving, much better than SNS sites (IMHO). I often come to wonder why FB is worth so much more than twitter. Could this actually be one of the cases when copycats win over the original?
1 point by stuhood 3 days ago 0 replies      
John Kalucki from Twitter's platform team responded in the comments with what sounds like a reasonable alternative: http://hoisie.com/post/a_warning_to_hackers_be_careful_build...
       cached 11 January 2011 05:04:01 GMT