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My winter break project " Silk weavesilk.com
649 points by yurivish 1 day ago   87 comments top 45
53 points by adatta02 1 day ago 5 replies      
That looks pretty amazing.

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

15 points by efsavage 18 hours ago 0 replies      
Kudos to you not only for a great piece of work, but for calling it a "project" and not a "startup".
24 points by bgraves 1 day 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!

8 points by jcr 1 day 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?

5 points by Alex3917 1 day 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.
15 points by jessevondoom 1 day 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...
5 points by jackowayed 1 day 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 :)

3 points by mustpax 1 day ago 0 replies      
This is beautiful through and through but you are missing a favicon. You might already be aware of this, just thought I'd let you know.
3 points by albertsun 1 day 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.
3 points by Encosia 1 day ago 1 reply      

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

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

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


3 points by erreon 1 day 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 prawn 1 day ago 0 replies      
1 point by mceachen 12 hours ago 0 replies      
Sweet! You can make the canvas arbitrarily large -- on Chrome, right-click > inspect element, and change <div id="silk" style="..." to whatever dimension you want.

Wonderfully done!

1 point by marceldegraaf 6 hours ago 0 replies      
It would be very cool if it would be possible to export a hi-res PNG of a Silk render to be able to print it or use it on MyKEA. I would even pay for it.
3 points by mdolon 1 day ago 0 replies      
Great work, it's simply stunningly beautiful. I think (and hope) your iPhone/iPad apps will do well, best of luck!
3 points by mcgraw 1 day ago 0 replies      
It's been said, but I can't help but write my own comment. Excellent execution on this project.
6 points by grncdr 1 day ago 3 replies      
I'm finding the shift+mouse isn't working (using Firefox 4 beta 7 on Linux)
3 points by andresmh 1 day 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
2 points by getsat 1 day 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 DamonOehlman 1 day 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.


3 points by chubs 1 day ago 0 replies      
Please make a screensaver out of this!
1 point by code_duck 1 day 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 pizzaburger 13 hours ago 0 replies      
Wow, I've never seen anyone do this before: <script src="//usecharm.com/silk.js">
1 point by vaksel 1 day ago 2 replies      
as far as suggestions it really needs the undo button.

Also the new button really needs to be more prominent

2 points by CountHackulus 1 day ago 0 replies      
The democoder in me loves this. Very well done, and an awesome effect.
2 points by barredo 1 day ago 0 replies      

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

1 point by RyanMcGreal 1 day ago 0 replies      
I particularly like the additive mixing. Fantastic implementation.
1 point by TeMPOraL 1 day 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 :).
1 point by robjama 20 hours ago 1 reply      
Beautiful work! This project definitely needs some publicity...did you think about putting it up on Kickstarter (http://www.kickstarter.com/)?
2 points by whackedspinach 1 day 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 istvanp 1 day ago 1 reply      
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 d0mine 1 day ago 0 replies      
Silk + electricsheep-like selection = screensaver


1 point by tlack 1 day 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 muxxa 1 day ago 0 replies      
Small bug report: releasing the mouse button outside of the viewport doesn't get recorded (mac and windows). if the mouseup event isn't being signalled, maybe an onclick event would be?
1 point by inovica 1 day 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 sunbash 1 day ago 0 replies      
Amazing. Are you going to blog about your experience building it? It'd be great to here some details. Plus it gives it a human story thats just might get some great press.
1 point by aeontech 1 day ago 0 replies      
Very impressive... simple-looking but so polished... Amazing job, congratulations!
1 point by bystac 1 day ago 0 replies      
this will be great for generating website background, can be saved to image?
can final images be used in commercial products?
1 point by javadi82 1 day ago 1 reply      
Is there a way I could save the "silks" that I create?

If not, would you please consider implementing it?

1 point by muloka 1 day ago 0 replies      
I like the simplicity of this, this would be really fun as a Quartz Composer patch.
1 point by spektom 1 day ago 0 replies      
This is so amazing! Now I realize the power of html5!
1 point by sidwyn 1 day ago 0 replies      
All I can say is wow.
1 point by yellowSchoolBus 12 hours ago 0 replies      
Looks terrific!
0 points by niico 1 day ago 0 replies      
Me gusta!
Google Removing H.264 Support in Chrome chromium.org
532 points by spaetzel 19 hours ago   327 comments top 54
46 points by spoondan 13 hours ago 3 replies      
I like Gruber, but he's almost insufferable on issues like these. These questions are "simple" in the least flattering sense. Let's dispatch them:

If H.264 support is being removed to “enable open innovation”, will Flash Player support be dropped as well? If not, why?

The premise is that openness is all or nothing. But Google can support Flash and work towards openness, just as Apple can prefer open web standards in lieu of Flash while supporting proprietary systems. There's no hypocrisy or conflict.

Android currently supports H.264. Will this support be removed from Android?

Maybe in the future. WebM support is new in Android, hardware decoders are really just coming to market, and there are enough existing and in-production phones that rely on H.264. The constraints placed on Google by the handful of Chrome users leveraging H.264 HTML5 video is completely unlike the realities of dealing in the handset market.

YouTube uses H.264 to encode video. Presumably, YouTube will be re-encoding its entire library using WebM. When this happens, will YouTube's support for H.264 be dropped, to “enable open innovation”?

YouTube continues to support other proprietary formats. As with Sorenson, they're not going to drop H.264 until they don't care about the market share of H.264-only devices. In the meantime, they will try to drive people towards WebM in support of "open innovation". This is not inconsistent or even new.

Do you expect companies like Netflix, Amazon, Vimeo, Major League Baseball, and anyone else who currently streams H.264 to dual-encode all of their video using WebM?

It should be obvious that Google's hope is anyone using HTML5 video will eventually move to WebM exclusively.

If not, how will Chrome users watch this content other than by resorting to Flash Player's support for H.264 playback?

Content producers won't care if Chrome users end up in Flash, since the content's still available and very few non-mobile users are getting HTML5 video anyway. Flash is still the norm outside of mobile devices.

Who is happy about this?

Were people ecstatic that Chrome supported H.264? Most people simply don't care about this kind of stuff and for good reason.

150 points by bonaldi 19 hours ago replies      
Google's assumption: People will add WebM encoding to their already complicated video workflows

What will actually happen: Chrome will get served h.264 wrapped in Flash.

Lose all round, then.

62 points by bphogan 19 hours ago replies      
The choice has been made by many places to simply use h264 video via the HTML5 tag to hit the iPhone/iPad and then fallback to a Flash video player which can easily play the h264 source video. Content producers would rather encode videos once, which is why they moved to FLV in the first place. There's no incentive to use anything else here.

This hurts users. I am all for standards, but not for hurting users. And like it or not, content producers are using H264 because the devices people like to use can play that video back.

22 points by jdub 19 hours ago 1 reply      
Fantastic. Much as I enjoyed Burn All GIFs back in the day, I don't think Burn All H.264s sounds nearly as catchy or fun. Glad Google is doing the Right Thing on this front -- however convenient or entrenched they might be, hairy patented messes like H.264 have no place on an open web.
20 points by daleharvey 19 hours ago 0 replies      
I dont think the open web is up for compromise, I was happy to see mozilla take a stand on h264, glad to see google follow suit.

Sure this hurts users in the short term, but a single standard format has not been settled on, this could be much more disruptive if google had of left it in

19 points by davidedicillo 19 hours ago 1 reply      
I'm kinda tired of this Google openness, especially when it so congenially damage their competitors. It would have been different if they never implemented it in first place, but this now it just looks like a move to target Apple.
43 points by kellysutton 19 hours ago 1 reply      
Chiming in as the guy who developed the blip.tv HTML5 player: This sucks, even though we were planning on supporting it in the future anyway.
32 points by guywithabike 19 hours ago 3 replies      
I'm looking forward to Google remaining consistent with their words and removing Flash from Chrome in the near future.

You know, for the good of the users.

14 points by drivebyacct2 19 hours ago 1 reply      
Has everyone so quickly forgotten that Flash will soon support WebM playback? It's a significant point in the discussion. With any flash capable browser having WebM support, along with native support in Firefox, Chrome, Opera... it seems there is some sense in this move.

It does seem a bold strategy, I would have probably waited at least a bit longer.

Edit: Oh, "These changes will occur in the next couple months"

17 points by buster 19 hours ago 3 replies      
People should really blame MS and Apple for only supporting their own video codec here.
I am fully behind the decision of Mozilla, Opera, Google and others to support open and patent unencumbered video formats.

Can someone just look at the table at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HTML5_video and really tell me that this mess isn't the fault of MS and Apple in the first place? Ogg is ready to play a big role and WebM is catching up. The only blocking factor here is Internet Explorer and Safari, not Chrome.

1 point by jwr 5 hours ago 1 reply      
A very bad decision.

First, H.264 != VP8/WebM. WebM is roughly equivalent to H.264 Baseline Profile and can't get the quality/compression of even H.264 Main Profile. I won't even mention H.264 High Profile, which is crucial for HD content.

Second, there is no hardware support for decoding VP8 right now, while there is for H.264. Which means that if publishers indeed start dropping H.264 (which I hope won't happen), we'll get stuck for years with mobile devices that get poor battery life. Instead, we'll get promises of Great Things "just around the corner, in a couple of months". That's similar to the perpetual cycle of great, smoothly working Android devices which always exist in the future tense.

Third, no one knows if VP8/WebM is immune from patents. It most likely isn't, it's just that nobody has laid claims yet. Most modern video processing techniques are patented in some way and sticking fingers in your ears won't make those patents magically go away.

22 points by cdeutsch 17 hours ago 1 reply      
As a person who encodes video for the web for a living I can tell you we won't be switching to WebM because of iOS and other hardware devices that have hardware based decoding.

H.264 is the closest thing to a ubiquitous codec there is and assuming Chrome correctly updates the "canPlayType" javascript function I won't even have to update our players to provide Chrome users with the crappy Flash player.

As a Chrome user, I'll be switching to Safari so I can continue to get the working HTML5 player.

We'll consider switching once Apple adds support for WebM and the millions of old iOS devices are obsolete. In other words it's H.264 for us for the next 3 years.

25 points by app 19 hours ago 1 reply      
A big step backwards for HTML5 video adoption and premature IMO. Other than Android there isn't an existing consumer device out there that plays WebM that I know of. Certainly there is no hardware decoding. Now content creators who host their own video will have to double storage costs or be relegated to Flash and the smallest of the big browsers.
17 points by bretthopper 19 hours ago 1 reply      
This makes <video> about as useful as <audio> now.
12 points by jerhinesmith 19 hours ago 3 replies      
One of the biggest criticisms against Microsoft over the years is that they suffer from Not-Invented-Here syndrome.

Is it just me, or does Google seem to be increasingly heading down this path? Granted, Google tends to go down the open-source route, where Microsoft has tended not to, but I'm not sure that excuse holds up well over the long-term.

Either way, I'm genuinely curious if anyone else feels this.

11 points by Charuru 18 hours ago 2 replies      
Next move, suddenly youtube stops encoding in h.264 and youtube won't be able to be played on the iPad.

And Android tablets look a LOT better.

4 points by sbollepalli 12 hours ago 0 replies      
Go easy on me, this is my first comment on HN.

I see couple of other things, apart from free and royalty side of arguments. My story goes like this:

when Apple released iOS device in 2007, H264 was the better choice for mobiles with hardware decoders. Google converted Youtube videos to H264 to support iOS devices. Rest of the world followed. Both Apple and Google wins and they are happy to promote H264 for the wider adoption.

Then after three years, a different competitive landscape, with Android popularity even without H264 hardware decoders advantage, at the same time Apple support to H264 but not to flash, gives big strategic advantage to Goolge to move world away from H264 to its own alternative (openness helps the cause). Win to Google, Lose to Apple.

Its not important anymore which desktop browser support what. We can work with multiple browsers on our desktops/laptops. Its all about to whose advantage it plays out in mobile devices space.

That is why we will see lot of FUD in future in this space while Google and Apple fight for their interests in name of openness.

4 points by simonsquiff 18 hours ago 0 replies      
It's all well and good to focus future effort on alternative technologies that you have a preference for.

But to remove a feature you currently support that works well...that's a poor decision that doesn't help your users or the web in general.

2 points by zppx 16 hours ago 0 replies      
I think this is bad for HTML 5 video in the short run, but I do not care about it anymore, I wished that everyone supported Theora, and then switched to Dirac in the future, but Apple and Google made me give up of my hopes.

However in the long run I think this will be an example of 'worse is better' happening, I think WebM will win over H.264. If that is bad or no that's depend on how do you see Apple and Google, if you believe this post contain a good message or if you believe Gruber but not both, for me both are just false in their pretense of openness, which is why I supported Theora in the first place.

Theora vs. H.264 was the first big fight that I remember in HN were the majority of comments were just bullshit for me (just like this thread), although there were really good ones from both sides, I also commented in the matter, back then I said that codecs would grow in irrelevance, I belive that H.264, as a patent covered standard, will lose in the future because its licensing terms are not clear and a license for its use can be pretty expensive to people trying to win some money from web video, specially those that have no money initially to spend in royalties (like startups, open source and non commercial projects), my example back them was a cloudy video editor, maybe something that is impractical today, but that I do expect becoming at least practical for simple uses in 2 to 3 years from now.

For this type of user paying for royalties in the beginning just does not make any sense and is stressful for their financial situation, this if they want to win money with their project, it's even more complicated for open source projects, for the case that people want to win some money from their company or project a good comparison would be the college student that take loans, trying to make some potential money in the future while spending money that he does not have in the present.

I think that WebM will have the preference of this public if they are not aiming Apple products. For me this will happen just because MPEG LA was incompetent enough and did not knew how to deal with the situation, opening the standard to small business, not charging users and business that only stream the using codec, things like that that the consortium never clarified (they never defined the "broadcast market" from which they plan to charge royalties from).

More could be said about why I think H.264 will be a thing of the past in the following years, but them my comment would be too big.

12 points by dev_jim 19 hours ago 2 replies      
What the hell? It's sad that Google's corporate strategy is starting to override what's in the best interests of it's users. Web video is finally, after so many years, actually encoded in H.264. Who besides YouTube uses WebM or Ogg? I'll be going back to Safari if this happens.
6 points by teye 15 hours ago 0 replies      
Don't like it? Branch Chromium and retain H.264 support.

First customer here.

4 points by makeramen 18 hours ago 0 replies      
The biggest H264 supporter is Apple, and it kind of worked because Apple has leverage in the iPhone arena. I don't think Google has quite the same leverage in the browser arena. If this happened at the WebKit level, then maybe. But not at the Chrome level.
1 point by joakin 3 hours ago 0 replies      
What I get from here:

They have a codec that performs like this other one, but open for everybody to use without paying royalties.
They have an agreement with most browsers to support this codec.
None of the other browsers want to pay royalties for these codecs.

Well... the plan is clear

5 points by mbreese 19 hours ago 0 replies      
And exactly who does this end up helping? I'm all for open formats, but I'm more for compatibility.
5 points by mhd 18 hours ago 1 reply      
So are we going to get third party Chrome distributions that backport the missing H.264 functionality?
4 points by ot 16 hours ago 1 reply      
Reminds me of "embrace, extend, extinguish".

BTW, will it be possible to enable it back with an extension? I don't really want to stop using Chrome because of this.

2 points by necro 13 hours ago 0 replies      
I don't see much benefit to support HTML5 in webm or theora. One of the benefits of html5 over flash was the prospect of better resource handling and smooth play, but now as systems get faster, and flash better, there is less and less reason to go down this path. h264 is smooth enough in flash now, and it's about to get even better in the new flash release.

There are no real hardware/product reasons for websites to support webm right now.

h264 on the other hand gets the benefit of working with all the iphone and more recently apple tv.
Promised new update this year will even allow HTML5 video to be streamed to apple TV directly from the browser of iphones, ipads, and i imagine safari. This is one of these technologies that will really increase the use of h264.

I run the larges cycling site and we handle 100s of niche video uploads per day so I follow this closely, and as much as I'd like to jump on webm, I'm going to definitely hold of.
Currently we convert videos to 3 formats to try handle all cases, and having to now multiply that by 2 with another codec is a lot of extra resources.

2.5 mbit h264 web HD/appletv h264
1 mbit h264 for web SD/iphone
300 kbit mobile

- webm makes no sense in the short term.
- you need apple support to make webm happen faster

Think about all the extra resources, time, effort that you are asking from companies in the world to support the 2 formats. If you want to be efficient with society, keep the support of h264 while webm development happens, transition once all the big players support the new format. Alternatively take all the money/time/efforts and get apple to transition. If apple does not jump on the wagon, it's going to be years and years of wasted resources in society.

4 points by mapgrep 19 hours ago 2 replies      
I thought Chrome came bundled with Flash Player

...which supports H.264 in an MP4 container...


....so I'm not clear on what's actually happening here. Is Chrome going to just stop handing off MP4/H.264 from video tags to the bundled Flash Player even though it's there and can play it? Or will it stop bundling Flash Player? Or bundle a crippled Flash Player? None of the above?

9 points by spaetzel 19 hours ago 3 replies      
So in the near future to use the <video> tag, you'll need an H.264 file for IE and Safari, OGG for Firefox and, WebM for Chrome.
1 point by ck2 12 hours ago 0 replies      
Shouldn't video codecs be done as plugins in browsers anyway?

Give us the tags to support it but leave it up to a plugin.

I know that multiple developers can focus on different parts of a browser's codebase at once, but it still doesn't make sense to me that a browser codebase should maintain a video codec as advanced as H.264 which constantly has room for performance/quality improvement.

8 points by OpieCunningham 18 hours ago 1 reply      
So H.264 isn't "open web" ... but Flash is?

Google has such an arbitrary definition of open.

1 point by CountSessine 11 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm sort of happy that Google is doing this. I'm not always happy with google and what they do - not being evil sure as hell doesn't make you a good guy - but if there's another bunch of guys who aren't on the 'good' side, it's MPEG. I really would like to see the HTML <video> tag evolve in a way that doesn't require an MPEG technology.

HOWEVER, I'd like to raise a couple of points.

One is that the x264 devs, easily some of the most codec-knowledgeable people in the world, have raised questions about VP8's patent exposure. It's fair to say that On2 didn't have to worry about getting sued over implementation details of VP8 as long as its design was hidden and proprietary, but I'm quite confident that google is going to get shaken down over webm, a lot like Microsoft did with VC1. Unlike Microsoft and VC1, Google will settle and license the patents in question, with indemnification for webm users, because webm is more important to them than VC1 was to MS. But it's going to cost them.

Second, anyone serving video now has a nice low-resistance path that means encoding exclusively in h264 - served up via the html5 <video> tag for iPhone and newer browsers, and served up inside flv with a flash plugin for older browsers. H264 isn't going to go away anytime soon, so google wants everyone to start encoding 2x now - with h264 and VP8. Or I guess you can just start using YouTube...?

2 points by mryall 11 hours ago 0 replies      
I actually see lack of H.264 support as more of a blow for those desktop browsers than anything else. With both Firefox and Chrome on the desktop refusing to support the video codec preferred by most (non-PC) device vendors, and both mobile browsing and video usage on the web dramatically increasing, I can't see this having any long-term effect other than marginalizing these browsers for the majority of users. Users who just want to visit a video site and have it work equally well on any device they happen to be using.

H.264 is royalty-free for at least the next 5 years, has widespread hardware encoding and decoding support and its patents will eventually expire. Removal of this codec from Chrome just doesn't make any sense to me. I'm sure all those people who have recently switched to Chrome won't find it too hard to switch away if the "more open" video support starting burning through their laptop battery three times as fast.

6 points by dmaz 19 hours ago 0 replies      
The message is that Google is serious about making VP8 competitive. It won't be removing H.264 support from Android and YouTube anytime soon, but this certainly changes the HTML5 video codec battle.
2 points by davej 4 hours ago 0 replies      
6 points by natmaster 19 hours ago 1 reply      
Looks like Mozilla wins this one.
2 points by gaiusparx 19 hours ago 0 replies      
Sad move, the web take years to more or less standardize on H264. Ain't WebM an inferior alternative at the moment? The reason cited "our resources directed towards completely open codec technologies.", so we can expect Flash to be removed as well? I can see next up in the horizon: YouTube to remove H264 support.
2 points by emehrkay 18 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm the go-to guy in my office for html5 video(audio) and this just made my job that much harder. Shit, today I just found out that our videos arent playing on android devices now this
2 points by timc3 17 hours ago 1 reply      
Must be part of the long game by Google. Stop supporting h.264 and push their own format in their browser, which also means ChromeOS and GoogleTV.

The format will need hardware because it is so difficult to decode with software.

Google gets hardware support on their laptops and mobile devices, changes YouTube to be WebM only, forcing Apple/Windows/Nokia/SonyEricsson to need hardware to decode.

Consumer loses out (the video quality of this, and the image quality of their image format is not exactly what should be expected to be released in a new format for 2011).

2 points by fleitz 16 hours ago 1 reply      
Phone me when Youtube only supports WebM, this is just a PR stand.
1 point by willheim 19 hours ago 2 replies      
This is not an issue. We currently face the same inefficiency of having to encode videos in multiple codecs today. Want your vid on iOS? H.264. Want your vid on other platforms? Pretty open. What's the issue? Just some inefficiency. It means that all videos have to be encoded in a few formats in the backend and a browser detector to tell our server which video to play. As long as the end user isn't harmed I don't see the big deal with Google supporting Google's own format (that they have opened up with a protected royalty-free format).

As it is right now there are probably several elements toyour site that require different rendering depending on the browser (IE6 I'm glaring at you).

1 point by pedanticfreak 19 hours ago 1 reply      
Interesting. YouTube must be a mess with all of these competing formats it needs to support. I assume it will eventually switch to WebM for both HTML5 and Flash by default and just use h264 for compatibility. Still, it must be horrific.
0 points by dstein 16 hours ago 0 replies      
Google is starting to remind me more of Microsoft every day. But at least Microsoft doesn't make their anti-competitive strategic decisions under the guise of being "open" and "not evil".
3 points by knodi 16 hours ago 0 replies      
O great now its back to flash.

Pretty shitty move by google.

1 point by joelhousman 10 hours ago 0 replies      
1. I've now switched back from Chrome to Safari.
2. I'm glad that I made the decision to switch my organizations web videos from Akamai to Vimeo & not Youtube.
3. Google is the new Microsoft.
2 points by hamedh 19 hours ago 2 replies      
so is Google going to re-encode all their Youtube content to WebM videos now? and i wonder if Android will continue to play h.264 videos or not.
3 points by upinsmoke 18 hours ago 0 replies      
Long live Flash video?
1 point by jawee 18 hours ago 1 reply      
It can´t be all about freedom if they´re dropping Theora too. (related: how can Theora be so bad is Vorbis is so good?)
2 points by jcarreiro 12 hours ago 1 reply      
Just switched back to Safari.

Sorry google, but I own an iPad. :(

1 point by upinsmoke 16 hours ago 0 replies      
Flash is not open! Not only does Chrome support Flash, it ships with embedded Flash plugin!
What a hypocrite!
1 point by TechNewb 15 hours ago 0 replies      
As a content producer, this upsets me. I would only consider WebM if it is superior to h.264. But either way I'm having second thoughts about using Chrome and Youtube if they really nix h.264. Google thinks they are bigger than they really are.
0 points by jbk 18 hours ago 0 replies      
This is a great move...

Mpeg-LA has been bullying everyone for too long...

1 point by brackin 8 hours ago 0 replies      
This is very annoying their player is already terrible.
-1 point by scrod 17 hours ago 0 replies      
Bye bye, Google Chrome. This is me deleting you from my Mac.
Dear Google: please let me ban sites from results
428 points by nervechannel 6 days ago   208 comments top 52
39 points by AndrewO 5 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 6 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 6 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 5 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 6 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 6 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 5 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 6 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 6 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 6 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 6 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 6 days ago 2 replies      
I'd ban eHow.
2 points by balakk 5 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 5 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 6 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 5 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 5 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 6 days ago 2 replies      
And no more bloody experts-exchange...
2 points by Tichy 5 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 6 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 6 days ago 1 reply      
In the interim, you can do your searches by adding -wareseeker -efreedom to the search string.
1 point by thinkbohemian 5 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 5 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 6 days ago 1 reply      
Wasn't this a problem Google Search Wiki tried to solve?


1 point by joshrule 5 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 6 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 5 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 5 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 5 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 5 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 5 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 6 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 5 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 scotty79 5 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 cygwin98 4 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 richbradshaw 5 days ago 0 replies      
Just use Google SearchWiki.

Oh, yeah " they pulled it.

2 points by retube 6 days ago 0 replies      
I believe blekko does
1 point by GrandMasterBirt 5 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 diegob 5 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 6 days ago 1 reply      
Can't this be done with a browser plugin?
1 point by serveboy 5 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 5 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?

1 point by byron8 2 days 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 alexobenauer 6 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.

2 points by ajayjapan 5 days ago 1 reply      
My question is why stackoverflow hasn't banned efreedom yet?
1 point by svlla 5 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 5 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 5 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 5 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 6 days ago 0 replies      
YES. Like the useless chromeextensions.org

This would be an awesome feature.

1 point by hoofish 6 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 5 days ago 0 replies      
blekko . com is doing this and much more
Steve's story - Google employee #13 googler13.blogspot.com
428 points by paul 2 days ago   89 comments top 19
30 points by dools 2 days 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.

45 points by nostrademons 2 days 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.

67 points by yread 2 days 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

5 points by elvirs 2 days 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?
4 points by redthrowaway 2 days 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 aothman 2 days 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 2 days 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 2 days 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 2 days 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 ...:)

2 points by shawnee_ 2 days 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 2 days 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 BrainScraps 1 day 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.
1 point by Gupie 2 days ago 0 replies      
"I left shortly after IPO to pursue other interests."


1 point by azrealus 2 days ago 0 replies      
awesome and inspiring story. thank you for sharing.
1 point by ashbrahma 2 days ago 0 replies      
What does he do now?
1 point by pcampbell 2 days ago 0 replies      
miracles favor the bold.
1 point by lken 2 days ago 0 replies      
this guy sounds like a barnacle. good for him though.
-2 points by chopsueyar 2 days ago 0 replies      
How much did he cash out for?
-4 points by tedjdziuba 2 days ago 0 replies      
Cool story, bro.
NYT Review of ‘The 4-Hour Body' nytimes.com
380 points by tysone 5 days ago   201 comments top 42
74 points by edw519 5 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 5 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 5 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 5 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 5 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 5 days ago 2 replies      
This book sounds like it was written by Ron Burgundy.
25 points by phren0logy 5 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.

10 points by DanielBMarkham 5 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

21 points by fooandbarify 5 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.
22 points by DanielRibeiro 5 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

12 points by keeptrying 5 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.

55 points by judegomila 5 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.

19 points by _pius 5 days ago 3 replies      
One of the most intellectually lazy book reviews I've ever read. All snark, no substance.
35 points by tgrass 5 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 Eliezer 5 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.
5 points by zackattack 5 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 5 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 5 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 5 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 5 days ago 10 replies      
5 points by micaelwidell 5 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 5 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 5 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 5 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 5 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 5 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.
2 points by brianmwang 5 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.

4 points by pohl 5 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.
3 points by ojbyrne 5 days ago 1 reply      
The funny thing is, the scathing review almost makes me want to read the book. Almost.
3 points by catshirt 5 days ago 0 replies      
imho, it's equally negligent to deny it entirely as it is to accept it entirely.
2 points by kylecordes 5 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 5 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 4 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 5 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 5 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 5 days ago 0 replies      
I find that aggregate amazon reviews are fairly accurate. Im surprised by the high reviews.
1 point by thinkdifferent 4 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 alecco 5 days ago 1 reply      
And don't miss his upcoming book "The 4-hour hair-loss"!
1 point by protez 5 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 yters 4 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 jschuur 5 days ago 0 replies      
They had me at 'beguiling'.
1 point by oldstrangers 5 days ago 3 replies      
I'm curious if he has a 4-Hour hack for curing his male pattern baldness.
Chart of YC companies' hosting decisions, 2010 edition github.com
333 points by jf 4 days ago   162 comments top 32
50 points by lacker 4 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 4 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 4 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 4 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 4 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?

6 points by klochner 4 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".
8 points by Sukotto 4 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 4 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 4 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 daniel_levine 4 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 4 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 4 days ago 3 replies      
I'm surprised Slicehost is not present. Perhaps is it included in Rackspace?
6 points by Encosia 4 days ago 1 reply      
Surprised to see no one using Linode.
3 points by c2 4 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 4 days ago 1 reply      
Seems like a few companies have chosen WebFaction for email hosting. Any specific reason?
1 point by vaksel 4 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 4 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 4 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 4 days ago 2 replies      
So, no YC companies on Rails use Heroku? (or is that lumped into Amazon?)
3 points by dtran 4 days ago 2 replies      
This is pretty cool Joel! Small nitpick - Zerigo is spelled incorrectly as "Zeroigo".
2 points by Aegean 4 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 4 days ago 1 reply      
I'm surprised that no"one is using Linode.
1 point by aneth 4 days ago 0 replies      
Great to see godaddy successfully disrupting the ripoff ssl certificate market.
1 point by jim_h 4 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.
1 point by ivankirigin 4 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.
2 points by dsmithn 4 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_ 4 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.
2 points by xhtmlweaver 4 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 nopassrecover 3 days ago 0 replies      
Surprised how few of these I knew, considering I read HN pretty regularly
1 point by eurohacker 4 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 4 days ago 1 reply      
I am surprised to see no heroku.
1 point by bauchidgw 4 days ago 0 replies      
best charts ever
Learning Advanced JavaScript ejohn.org
291 points by shawndumas 2 days ago   31 comments top 13
16 points by rauljara 2 days 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.
23 points by ximeng 2 days ago 0 replies      
Previous discussion for reference:


10 points by andreyf 2 days 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/

4 points by onteria 1 day 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:


5 points by rudenoise 2 days 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 endtime 2 days ago 0 replies      
I didn't know about function.length; the function overloading trick in the last section is pretty clever.
2 points by MichaelGlass 1 day ago 0 replies      
I learned JavaScript but as soon as I understood the capabilities (but before I mastered usage) I decided to do all of my work in CoffeeScript.

I find it much cleaner / easier to write and I don't really see a downside to using it instead.

3 points by ez77 1 day ago 4 replies      
A bit off topic: what is your interactive JS sandbox? (Firebug, Chrome console, Rhino... ?)
1 point by steilpass 1 day ago 0 replies      
I highly recommend
"Test-Driven JavaScript Development" http://tddjs.com/ for learning JavaScript. Because it involves actual coding.
2 points by joakin 1 day 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
1 point by iamuzer 1 day 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.
-1 point by shirtless_coder 1 day ago 1 reply      
It's sad that there are so many copy-pasters out there in the javascript world that this is called "advanced" and not introductory.
-4 points by robinduckett 2 days ago 0 replies      
This is really nice, but I guess I already knew this stuff.
There is no place for just shitting all over other people's work 37signals.com
259 points by phsr 20 hours ago   129 comments top 45
89 points by danilocampos 20 hours ago 3 replies      
37signals is at their worst when they adopt this sanctimonious attitude. Say what you want about their juvenile tone, the criticisms on RTFHIG are mostly valid.

What are we going to do next? Pillory literary, film and food critics because their insights are inconvenient to the sensitive feelings of creators in those realms? Come on.

Creating things for other people has a long, rich history of criticism. Some valid, some bullshit, but all essential to the advancement of whatever creative field is under scrutiny. The shovelware artists who RTFHIG pick on might find a genuine direction for improving their work. Meanwhile, we're all talking about what genuinely makes a good interface.

That these guys are provocative makes their insights more valuable, since they get more attention. If you don't have or can't grow a thick skin, you don't belong in a creative field. It's as simple as that.

54 points by jsdalton 20 hours ago 3 replies      
I agree that just shitting all over people's work is, well, shitty. But I disagree entirely that the anonymous critic behind Read the Fucking HIG (http://readthefuckinghig.tumblr.com/) is out of line or that this kind of criticism is lacking in merit.

Firstly, it's clearly a bit tongue in cheek: "The evil doctor cackled as the thunder struck his lightning rod, giving life and sentience to his unholy creation, spliced together from iphone, ipad and mac ui." And the vulgarity is right in line with other satirical, single purpose sites like http://www.whatthefuckshouldimakefordinner.com/ and others I can't think of right now.

Secondly, he's got a "legitimate" complaint. You don't have to agree with his point, but I think a lot of people who are passionate about design (and about design in the context of their Mac) really, really do experience visceral rage at the way Apple flouts the HIG. A site like this is really just capturing that zeitgeist and reflecting how heated people actually feel about the topic.

Anyhow, I really am a big proponent for civility in discourse (that's why I'm always reading HN), but everything has its place.

30 points by gyardley 20 hours ago 1 reply      
'Read the Fucking HIG' (and 'Perversion Tracker', two years ago - http://www.perversiontracker.com) is interesting not so much for the content of the criticism, but because it's a reaction to the massive influx of new developers into a development community with its own distinct subculture.

Mac developers for the longest time engaged in 'artisanal software production' (for lack of a better term) with high production values - and while a few did well, many of them were just scraping by, doing it largely out of love for the platform. Then iOS came out, everybody learned Objective-C, money began to flow freely, and like homeowners in a town that's suddenly become touristy, they found themselves economically better off but a little ill-at-ease with the new character of their neighborhood.

Because of this, I'm more inclined to give this guy a bit of slack. The criticism isn't personal - it's just one person's way of mourning a world that no longer exists.

1 point by jdietrich 2 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm going to have to disagree. Apple make it incredibly easy to make apps which fit with the look, feel and experience of the rest of OS X. The Human Interface Guidelines are clear and specific on how to do most things. Cocoa's APIs and the Interface Builder make it far easier to follow the conventions than to reinvent the wheel. There is absolutely a right way and a wrong way to implement most UI features in Mac software. The criticisms in RTFHIG aren't simply that the apps featured are ugly, but that they do things that Apple explicitly states that you shouldn't do in a Mac app. Doing it the right way requires nothing more than the willingness to read and follow the explicit instructions given in the HIGs. I have absolutely no respect for anyone who has so little respect for software.

Writing software is unquestionably difficult, there is a great deal to learn and most developers have a long adolescence before they start writing really good software. It's also true however that the proliferation of bad software has serious negative externalities on the developer community. It feels absolutely terrible to submit a lovingly-crafted piece of software to an app store only to see it swamped by thoughtless, careless crapware. We would be foolish to ignore the importance of signal-to-noise and the ability of noise to render a communications channel useless. For people who make their living through the app store, this is absolutely a matter of survival.

8 points by gaius 20 hours ago 2 replies      
I dunno, I worked with one designer who firmly believed that "users like a challenge". He loved little tricks like "hiding" clickable things by making them blend in with decorative elements, he liked unusual fonts, he liked layouts that forced the users to hunt all over the screen for the next thing they wanted.

But we weren't making games, we were making corporate Intranets. So my advice is, ignore your designer and try using something he's designed. If it's easy and intuitive, he's a good designer. If it's not, put him on the silly little scooter he'll invariably have and push him gently out of the door... Especially if he tries to tell you "you don't understand design, maaan"!

14 points by wccrawford 20 hours ago 2 replies      
Criticism is good for a creator. If you can't turn criticism into a force to improve your product, you're doing it wrong. (Granted, baseless criticism doesn't count.)

And if they're violating Apple's HIG... Seriously, why? That should be the easiest thing to get right. They've outlined it for you.

6 points by iuguy 15 hours ago 0 replies      
Is it me or is RTFHIG actually generating discussion, adding value and generally making sense? What is it that 37signals are doing in this post again?

Oh, I'm sorry, trying to engage in a urinal measurement comparison.

There seems to be a thing amongst blogs and indeed writers. They reach a certian level in which they comment on things that affect them, then they comment on things that don't affect them, then they seem to adopt a particular stance that seems controversial to us, but not to them, because thus far we have celebrated them - they have become celebrities. I've seen this with Guber, I've seen this with 37 signals. Perhaps one day this will happen to me (hopefully I'll never become important enough). From that point on the shark is never far away from jumping.

I don't think 37 signals jumped the shark here, but I do think they went too far. They're right, there is no place for just shitting all over other people's work. Shame they forgot their perspective on who was doing the shitting.

8 points by sabat 20 hours ago 1 reply      
I rarely enjoy 37 Signals posts, but I heartily agree with Jason Z. (new guy?). There's so much negativism on the net in general; everyone seems threatened by everyone else. And you find it here, too, a place where you'd expect to find nothing but support and encouragement. (To be fair: HN is full of supportive people; there's just more negativity than you'd expect. I'm probably guilty of that, too, although I'm making a concerted effort to do otherwise.)

All criticism is not constructive criticism. If someone's trying, they ought to be encouraged to keep trying. That may sound naive and pollyanna, but ask yourself: when was the latest time a hater changed the world for the better?

2 points by dools 15 hours ago 0 replies      
There are a few things I'd like to throw in here: 1 is that I didn't even know what the fucking HIG was so I had to look it up and, hell, thanks to that website, if I ever choose to put an App on the Apple App store (highly unlikely), I will probably look up the HIG, and read it. Thankyou.

Secondly this post by 37 signals is inspired by RTFH but the headline is "There is no place for just shitting all over other people's work" - and that's a true statement.

This is something that is particularly rife in amongst programmers: they point at each other and say "what? you don't use X and do X? then you are a shit programmer". Life is about getting things done and getting things done necessitates compromise.

You should see how shit the videos I just made for my product are. They're totally shit, but it's the best I could do and I wanted to put something up there. I didn't have the money to pay a professional or the time to learn to do it better - there you go. Whilst I was doing it my own internal monologue kept saying "This looks like the investor pitch video for Prestige Worldwide" (if you don't get that reference, it's from the film "Step Brothers").

If someone posted my videos on a website called "makeyourfuckingvideosgood.tumblr.com" I wouldn't necessarily be offended because it would generate traffic to my site and I know my limitations and have no sense of pride in what I've created, but that doesn't make it right for someone to wantonly create zero value assertions about the quality of others' work (let me say, though, that I would say that humour adds value so Maddox's "I am better than your kids" is exempt).

Now lastly, I find it somewhat ironic that 37signals have posted all this shitting on the person's work who writes RTFH. Perhaps they could have included some constructive criticism on how to improve their writing, or posted alternative examples of satire they enjoy more.

Perhaps the most appropriate response would have been to create readsomefuckingsatire.tumblr.com and put that site on it.

As professionals we should all be continually learning and improving, and we should never disparage someone who has not learned or improved as much as us in a given field because, as the OP points out:

they're making something and that's awesome.

That's the key point I took out of this post, and it's an attitude I'm going to work harder to cultivate in my own life.

12 points by rgbrgb 20 hours ago 0 replies      
Although the tone is perhaps a bit mean-spirited (kind of funny), I have to say that I agree with most of the points readthefuckinghig makes.

Critique is important, not immature. Despite the fact that the blogger in question comes off as a real asshole, he makes real observations about specific details which wouldn't have been so ugly if the designer had just read the human interface guidelines.

If something sucks, I think it's better for someone to say it sucks anonymously than for nobody to say anything - especially if they're citing details that can be fixed!

10 points by achompas 20 hours ago 3 replies      
This has to be an age thing. When I was 10 I shitted (shat?) all over people's work. Now that I'm 25 I have nothing but respect for people who produce.
8 points by jakeg 20 hours ago 3 replies      
“Where the heck were you when the page was blank?” - Paul Butterworth

Always such a bogus argument. This is what people say when they don't like your opinion but have no argument to counter, so they resort to a rhetorical that implies you have no authority on the issue. But the fact is you do not need to be a creator to criticize a creation legitimately. Sometimes specializing in just observation/criticism and not creation allows you more time to think things over from the standpoint of analysis, whereas creation demands that a large portion of your mental energy goes to the creation process.

I can't speak to the blog in question but there's nothing fundamentally wrong with the idea of a blog just for the sake of criticism. How it goes about that criticism and any unnecessary hostility is another issue.

6 points by runjake 18 hours ago 0 replies      
1.) The referenced is taking a somewhat tongue-in-cheek approach to advocating the Apple HIG.

2.) I find 37s posting something like this humorous. DHH "shits all over" other people's work all the time.

In summary, lighten up.

4 points by hvs 20 hours ago 0 replies      
I agree, and will also point out that the referenced site (http://readthefuckinghig.tumblr.com/) is terrible, IMO. Does the holier-than-thou author not know how to use the fucking shift key?
4 points by jonhendry 19 hours ago 0 replies      
Eh, it's like Regretsy, the site that makes fun of atrocious items placed for sale on Etsy. Even Regretsy has wound up boosting sales of the mocked items. They've also harnessed their traffic for good with occasional charity appeals, and helped a little boy with cancer raise $100,000 or so to pay for his treatment.
2 points by redstripe 14 hours ago 0 replies      
A little off topic, but I had no idea there were so many bad apple apps. Some of it looks like the crap that comes on my motherboard driver CD.

If anything, this is a sign of the mainstreaming of apple. No longer is it an exclusive refuge of self styled artists... the barbarians are at the gates. This probably wasn't how things were supposed to turn out.

2 points by mixmax 19 hours ago 0 replies      
I generally only listen to criticism from people that have accomplished something similar to what they are criticising themselves.

There are so many negative people out there, and it's a good way to sort the wheat from the chaff. People who have been there themselves tend to only complain if there's a valid reason for doing so.

4 points by raganwald 18 hours ago 1 reply      
Don't try to win over haters. You're not the Jackass Whisperer. --Scott Stratten
8 points by molecule 15 hours ago 1 reply      
There are many places, and one is right here:


5 points by liamk 20 hours ago 2 replies      
It's easier to critique than to create. For what it's worth, there are many more critics online, which ultimately intensifies the problem.
1 point by rmorrison 19 hours ago 0 replies      
"It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat." - Theodore Roosevelt, April 23, 1910
1 point by rlmw 15 hours ago 0 replies      
It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.


2 points by davidedicillo 18 hours ago 1 reply      
I'm actually surprise by how many people are defending the author of RTFHIG. As a designer I can tell you can most of the users of HN could end up on a site like that with their app (web or native). Those people that he's picking on could be developers who build those app for the love of programming and make some extra cash, and they may genuinely thinking those are good UIs.
3 points by frankc 19 hours ago 0 replies      
I see this a number of posts here arguing for/agaist this with an unsaid dichotomy where the choices are

1) don't critisize, create instead
2) Criticism is good, even if is kind of mean.

But I think this a false dichotomy. Words and tone do matter. If you put the object of your criticism in a defensive position, you are unlikely to effect any change at all. This is not some new insight; it's been well understood at the very least since Dale Carnegie. You might acheive the goal of making yourself feel good, but then that certainly isn't worthy of any external respect.

What's the difference between:
1) You app is ugly and it fucking sucks. If you used abc to do xyz, at least I wouldn't be vomitting.


2)Nice effort on your app. You might consider using abc to do xyz. It might improve the aesthetics and usability some.

Some might say it says effectively the same thing, but the there is a world of difference in the way the reader reacts to those statements.

2 points by bane 19 hours ago 2 replies      
I think what rubs me the wrong way about this site is not the criticism. Criticism is ok. It's lack of proposed solutions.

One thing I really enjoy is when designers take a look at some established interface and try and design a better one and put it out there for comments and ideas. That is constructive criticism in my book.


1 point by gregpilling 16 hours ago 0 replies      
Did anyone else notice that the Apple Human Interface Guide is hard to read on a widescreen monitor? I clicked on the link and the text was a good 18" wide. You would think they would know about making a website readable.


2 points by brm 13 hours ago 0 replies      
From the comments there... DHH shitting on the app store http://bigthink.com/ideas/21603
2 points by jarin 20 hours ago 0 replies      
While I agree with the sentiment, I think sites like Read the Fucking HIG serve a good purpose: they keep UI designers from getting lazy. Nobody wants to come up with a design that ends up on a site like that.
4 points by dev_jim 19 hours ago 0 replies      
Mac users care very much about design and aesthetics. I would turn this around: These developers are shitting on the platform. And sure, I will just not download that app, but these developers should be ashamed for realeasing something so ugly. Do they have no pride in their work?
1 point by civilian 18 hours ago 0 replies      
>> Looking at the end product it's impossible to know the journey that the designer took, to appreciate what went into it. You don't know about the constraints, the compromises, or external forces that shaped the design before you. Certainly the end user is not going to be privy to those details either, but as a designer critquing the work of another designer you should know there is more to it.

I would really like it if designers would be more open with their constraints. If the customers understand the constraints, then we can give better feedback about how to make a better product.

2 points by Tycho 18 hours ago 0 replies      
I don't know if I trust any authority on the Internet when it comes to judging interface design. Even some esteemed bloggers/authors in the web-design field, I've found their personal home pages to be a bit dull. See also: the apparent outcry over the Mac App Store interface. When I finally used the thing myself, I was highly impressed and I suspect the non-geek portion of the population have no problem with it whatsoever.
2 points by BlazingFrog 18 hours ago 1 reply      
As a basketball player, I'd gladly take any (any, really) critique from Kobe. I won't take any (any, really) shit from Joe Blow.
Prove to me you can do better than me. Then, we'll talk.
1 point by dedward 16 hours ago 0 replies      
I've always found the mac software space to automatically weed out bad UI. The userbase is used to certain behaviours (as generally described in the UI guidelines from apple)- and apps that don't follow that tend to not gain much traction.

Sure, the app store will expose a bunch of crappy apps from people who don't read the guide - but the market should weed them out in a hurry - those who develop according to what the market expects will succeed over those who write junk.

2 points by twir 17 hours ago 0 replies      
I think it's the principle of the thing. Criticism works when done right, that is when it's traditional criticism like we all learned in art class. "Your shading is inconsistent here, and the use of lilac is cliche."

Contrasting, this blog 37signals is going on about just smacks of the zeitgeist that is modern "criticism":

Nowadays, criticism is rarely substantiated. Instead, folk spout out inflammatory nonsense like "it's a flaming load of dog crap" rather than the much more helpful "a combo box was a bad choice here."

To the critics: make it constructively funny. If you're just going to badmouth me then put up or shut up you non-contributing zero.

1 point by d_r 12 hours ago 0 replies      
Funny enough, if 37signals have never written this post criticizing RTFHIG, I would have never heard of RTFHIG. Kudos to 37signals.
2 points by tedroden 11 hours ago 0 replies      
It appears that they just took my post from last week and added 500 words: http://ted-is-a-nerd.tumblr.com/post/2631616173/
1 point by timruffles 19 hours ago 0 replies      
Criticism isn't often worth anything, just demonstrating a sterile person trying to find other things to do than make. Until we see some world class design from the anon behind FTFHIG, their opinion is worth 0.

Alexander Pope's Essay on Criticism -

'Let such teach others who themselves excel,
And censure freely who have written well;
Authors are partial to their wit, 'tis true,
But are not Critics to their judgment too?'

1 point by reason 18 hours ago 0 replies      
I just read through 10 or so posts on that blog, and nothing seems terribly out of line... His criticisms were for the most part legitimate. That's just his style, and, while I don't prefer that and think it's quite immature, I've got to say, I did agree with most of the things he pointed out.

Amusing how you're calling for respect of other's work when you've shown to not give a shit yourselves and put an end to the work of a competing service that many seemed to enjoy temporarily -- HuddleChat.

2 points by tedjdziuba 18 hours ago 0 replies      
Of course there is. It's called trolling, and it gets attention. For example, the modern news media is built on trolling, as is most of 37signals's fame.
1 point by jessevondoom 19 hours ago 0 replies      
I think it's an important point that constructive criticism has a positive intent and it's rarely mean-spirited. Might be hard to hear, but the critic isn't just being an asshole.

(Did have an art-school teacher who used mean similes to teach, but that was the rare exception. And he had a consistent flair for mean, so it was sort of an odd joy to behold.)

2 points by stephth 19 hours ago 0 replies      
Yes! And praising the stuff you love is so much more constructive than flaming the stuff you hate. Hurray to the lovers!
2 points by JoeAltmaier 12 hours ago 0 replies      
Precious fusspot
1 point by othello 19 hours ago 0 replies      
The irony being of course that the critics themselves should start by reading a f*ing English grammar book and learn to capitalize the beginning of their sentences.
1 point by haecib 16 hours ago 0 replies      
37signals really missed the point.

Are they seriously calling them out for not offering more constructive criticism? Um...that's not why that site exists...

On a side note, there is nothing stopping 37signals from creating a webspace dedicated to constructively critiquing Mac App design for the benefit of the community in a more thorough and serious manner. But somehow, like the creators of the site, I doubt 37signals is interested in doing so. :|

0 points by emilepetrone 15 hours ago 0 replies      
Why Chinese Mothers are Not Superior (from a female Chinese engineer) jeanhsu.com
251 points by cristinacordova 1 day ago   193 comments top 39
67 points by klenwell 1 day ago 6 replies      
A friend of mine, a mother of a gifted 5th grader wrestling with similar issues of parental control as Amy Chua, shared the WSJ article with me today. It reminded me of something Steven Pinker writes about in one of his books. In his book, he breaks down the work of Judith Rich Harris (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Judith_Rich_Harris) to this formula:

Genes have 50% influence over a child's development, peers 40%-50%, parents the rest.

Harris's work is strongly disputed, yes. But Chua's article seems to strangely confirm it.

By micromanaging her children's social interactions in a number of different ways, she wrests back a significant measure of influence back from their potential peers. I told my friend to note Chua's list of things she never lets her kids do:

• attend a sleepover

• have a playdate

• be in a school play

• complain about not being in a school play

• watch TV or play computer games

• choose their own extracurricular activities

Notice these are all activities that would potentially expand the influence of her kids' peers and undermine her totalitarian regime.

Chua probably believes that its her strictness and strong principles that are leading her children to excel. And these have their role, no doubt. But I would propose, following Harris, it is her oppressive control of their social lives which is the much stronger factor.

An interesting extension of her social experiment will be when it's time for her kids to go to college (the photo accompanying the article indicated they haven't quite got there yet.) Sure, they'll probably go to an Ivy League school, maybe even Yale where their mother is a professor, so it won't be complete culture shock.

Nevertheless: do her kids find peers who sustain their carefully disciplined social lives? Does mom continue to try to control their lives at a distance? Do they thrive with additional freedom? Or do they crack under it?

*Edited for formatting and spelling.

19 points by lionhearted 1 day ago replies      
A contrary viewpoint:

After studying a number of different cultures and backgrounds and histories, I'm generally an admirer of the school of parenting laid out by Chua. Well, I think some of the more insulting/demeaning/negative-reinforcement isn't so great, but the overall focus on achievement and duty as superior to having fun... I do respect that. I'll explain why -

I used to think the opposite until I read Andre Agassi's autobiography, "Open" - Agassi was one of the top tennis players in the world, hit #1 multiple times, and generally achieved tremendously a lot. He's now married to Stefi Graff, the top women's tennis player of all time, and they have two kids and seem like a really healthy and happy family.

In his book, Agassi talks about hating tennis. He really does. His father, an immigrant to the USA from Iran, drilled tennis into him obsessively from a young age, constantly telling him he's going to be #1 in the world.

Agassi was miserable a lot of that time.

So, why do I think it's a good style of parenting?

Because people from the driven overachieving backgrounds don't realize that people with more normal lives go through their own sorts of miseries. If anything, I think Western culture leaves people directionless and in angst and miserable through their younger years more often than not.

The kid that just follows the minimum program, hangs out, drifts around, gets high a lot, and then wakes up at age 42 with no professional success, no real social circle, no accomplishments, no family, no skills, working at Starbucks...

...y'know, it's socially acceptable to criticize people for overachieving and striving at the expense of other things, but it's not really socially acceptable to criticize people for mediocrity. It's kind of taboo to put down that people who spend their youth chasing pleasure frequently break down into full-on existential crises and madness later in life.

The vast majority of people don't self-actualize and don't achieve real meaning in their lives. Most people ascribe this to their background and external things. So you sometimes see people people who grow up under intense parenting styles say, "Well yes I tended to achieve more, but I was unhappy" - maybe, but remember that the grass is always greener on the other side...

I'll say one very real downside of the intensive parenting style - it has a much higher variance/standard deviation of results. You're likely to make it very professionally successful, or completely break down under the pressure. That's the downside. But overall, would someone like Andre Agassi have been happier if he'd just farted along and been a middle manager at some warehousing/shipping company in Nevada? Yeah, he often hated tennis and hated his father, but in the end he inspired millions of people, got to experience triumphs most people will never feel, achieved a complete mastery and harmony between his mind and body in competition, built a family with an absolutely incredible woman, and lots of other good things.

There's downsides, sure. But the grass is always greener on the other side. I could point out my opinions as to the flaws of any given parenting style, but I find the duty/achievement end of the spectrum to seem closer to overall well-being than the reverse.

19 points by p_nathan 1 day ago 4 replies      
Regarding the WSJ essay - my perspective is that what Chua's kids are going through is barbaric and will not generate well-educated, Renaissance-esque people.

There is tremendous value in learning and discipline, and my observation of American schools makes me think that American schools are pretty weaksauce in the discipline and focus department. I don't think anyone out there denies that.

To pick at a particular example of Chua - music. I am better-suited than some others to look at this, since I myself - and my sister - spent time learning music as children and into our college years.

Mrs Chua! Your kids do well in violin and piano. And only violin and piano. Why violin and piano? Is the trumpet - a fine instrument! - beneath them? Or the viola, an underappreciated sibling to the violin? Perhaps it was simply too blue-collar to consider such an instrument as the guitar and its fine heritage in baroque European works. Or perhaps your children's true ability would have been in the drums. But, no, alas. It was the high-brow, well-respected violin and piano you chose for them. How simple it is to say, "ah, these are the respected instruments, the instruments bringing good face to us". Mrs. Chua, you have deeply restricted your children's musical activities. You really should not have done that. There is no call to regulate and legislate play like that. You should have let them explore their own mind, their own heart. They are Human beings too, and their perspective should be taken into account for their play. If they sought after being a professional musician, then there would have been time for focus, and much of it. Focus is the hallmark of a professional! But play is something else.

9 points by yardie 1 day ago 1 reply      
I'm a constant immigrant and I can say this is not really a Chinese phenomena, but probably has more to do with immigrant mindset. I think because she is a successful driven professor she has upped the ante on this. So, in addition to what her mother considers successful she has added the cutthroat business and academic world of what is considered successful, then drummed that into her kids and got a book deal out of it.

As an immigrant from a caribbean island I see where she is coming from almost perfectly. Immigrants to the US aren't, in general, ditch diggers and gardeners. It requires a clean record, education, and motivation. Then when you arrive in the US the state isn't required to give you anything. From the moment you land, you and your family are basically on your own to find housing and work, though they do have local outreach programs to help in this. This survivorship mode carries on even when you are successful and especially when you have kids. My mom had few words for me, "STUDY!" and "What did you learn today?". "I love you", was reserved for birthdays and Christmas. Playing was reserved for weekends and summer breaks.

The one thing she did impart to me was motivation. At some point, when work demanded more from her, I had to be completely self-sufficient (or as much as a 10 year old could be). I was looking after my brother and sisters, studying, and running the household by myself (notice I haven't mentioned my father...long story). I enrolled in music courses, summer study courses, and enrolled at a magnet school. My mother stopped pushing me to excel and I started doing it on my own.

Now, I've moved to another country and started a family. And that same immigrant psychology of sink or swim has manifested in me. My son is only 3 but I'm pushing him to excel academically. I've said some of the same words to him that Chua has told her daughters (minus the verbal abuse). And I think at some point he will also be self sufficient, no angry mother or father leaning over his should to make sure he does his work or chores.

At the same time, the relationship I have with our mother is vastly different than what my brother and sisters have with her. I speak to her like a soldier speaks to an officer. They speak to her like a child to speaks to a mother. I'm really jealous that they have this type of relationship, and they are jealous that I'm the golden son.

19 points by vsingh 1 day ago 1 reply      
The "Chinese mother" approach to raising children is based around motivations at the second-highest level of Maslow's hierarchy:


While this aggressive approach to parenting can be made to sound right on a certain dispassionate level, to some people it just feels intensely wrong in a way that's hard to explain. Why is that?

What happens is that children raised to heavily optimize "Esteem" have a hard time switching gears into "Self-actualization". It's no surprise that the "Chinese mother" disallows her child from starring in the school play. That would be a means of self-expression; it would throw a monkey wrench in the whole works.

I've found many times in life that in order to self-actualize further, I've had to give up things that others praised. I think that in quitting Google and joining a startup (despite her parents' likely disapproval), the author has taken a big step towards self-actualization.

15 points by bane 1 day ago 2 replies      
Extremely well written, and echoes many of the comments in the quora thread (and in my own observations).

There's a logic to it all though, in China for example, there isn't really any reward to be a big risk taker, and the downsides can be huge (social isolation, imprisonment, worse). Success then is to follow directions, do what you are told, and do it with supreme competence.

This is often discussed in terms of the traditional Confucian Academies, and how dedicated studies could lead a peasant into a life of government service and success and pride for his family. But one has to look at what a classical Confucian education entails, literacy for sure -- but it was basically a monumental task of rote memorization.
Unfortunately, Chinese parents who try to replicate this on their American born kids are doomed because they haven't quite gotten the message that those things aren't as valued here.


8 points by roadnottaken 1 day ago 0 replies      
Everybody likes to give their parents credit/blame for everything (good and bad) but that overlooks the fact that people have different personalities that are surprisingly inborn and resilient. David Brooks has a line somewhere (I'll try to dig it up) where he says the most important thing is to be a "good enough" parent: provide a safe environment where your kids are encouraged and stimulated. It's not necessary to be a super-parent. Extraordinary people are not solely the product of parenting and the main thing is to shepherd your kids through childhood so they can reach adulthood without any scars.
28 points by jzycrzy 1 day ago 1 reply      
This makes me think of Kahlil Gibran's The Prophet, where he tells a parent their children will live in a time they can never visit or see and therefore must let their children have their own thoughts.

The excerpt "On Children":

  Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself.

They come through you but not from you,

And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts, 

For they have their own thoughts.

You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, 
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.

You may strive to be like them, 
but seek not to make them like you.

For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

You are the bows from which your children 
as living arrows are sent forth.

The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite, 
and He bends you with His might 
that His arrows may go swift and far.

Let our bending in the archer's hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies, 
so He loves also the bow that is stable.

15 points by jamesli 1 day ago 2 replies      
I thought it was a satire at first when i read the original article in WSJ. I was astounded that Ms. Amy Chua was serious. How arrogant it is! It also makes me wonder why WSJ published such an apparently ridiculous article. What are the essential differences between claiming Chinese mother supremacy from white supremacy?

Both my wife and I are Chinese. We have two lovely children. They are like free range chickens in our house and in the school. We showed them how to use Google, Wikipedia, Webster, etc. so that they can look for knowledge they are interested by themselves. They had their own gmail accounts when they were four years old. My older child had Twitter account when he was six, before my wife ever heard of Twitter. :)

Because we believe love, trust, and confidence are most important for them to live a good life. The utmost goal of our education is for them to be independently thinkers, to work hard, to be creative, to have sympathy, to do right things for this society.

And I have confidence to say there are many Chinese parents holding the same belief as we do.

31 points by jasonyyun 1 day ago 3 replies      
I don't want to start another topic, so I'll leave this - an excellent response from a user on Quora on the topic: http://www.quora.com/Parenting/Is-Amy-Chua-right-when-she-ex...
5 points by T-R 1 day ago 0 replies      
> In reality they are just molding all their kids to look exactly the same on paper.

I wasn't expecting this argument, but it reminds me a lot of how the RECRUIT company has managed to commoditize the workforce in Japan. By unifying applications and highlighting only certain traits, they've created a system where applicants all try to maximize only those specific traits (grades, entrance exam scores, TOEFL scores, etc.). On the other hand, companies mostly only see those traits, so they'll throw out an application if anything slightly negative shows up, whether it's that you've ever quit a job, or that your handwritten resume had less-than-perfect penmanship.

Optimizing for a small set of traits probably actually works well to a degree in the U.S. specifically because not everyone is optimizing for those same traits.

3 points by yason 1 day ago 0 replies      
(Parenting anecdote warning)

From my kids, I demand that they do their share of work (at home and later, in life), that they be kind and respect other people (but it's okay that other people may not always like it when someone sets their limits), and that they don't continue to do things for wrong reasons without thinking about it first (like doing stuff to mostly impress other people).

I listen to what they want and try to hear what's true. I give them few things only: kids always want a lot of things but I do force them to prioritize and think it over a couple of times, so that they will learn to listen themselves to what they really want. And that they will learn to appreciate the value of what they have. You can't have everything in life or everything will lose its value.

I let them make choices themselves, given that some final limitations are followed. For example, they can wear what they like as long as I've checked they've got enough clothing so that they'll be warm. When they're spending their money, they can do whatever they want with it. For example, they can invest all their money in candy; however, I don't let them eat candy every day all over the week as we have specific days for goodies.

That's pretty much it. I don't have any vocational or educational goals or hobby-wise demands for them. I trust that they will eventually do what they simply can't not do. Long idle periods may precede but that's okay. As long as you're alive, time is indefinite.

I don't claim to have"or gain"control over their lives and choices, barring some rules they as kids need require and with regard to the physical world. I consider it good to be humble enough to understand that I have no idea whatsoever of what's best for them in their lives. I might have an idea or two about what I would do and I sometimes talk about that but I don't dare suggest they had to follow.

I don't always know how to do all that. But most of the time I think I get it right eventhough I'm still learning myself. I'll just mostly try to be there when they need support. And that's hard and demanding too, and I think that too often I can't do that either.

But I'm pretty confident that when a couple of kids live with me for about 18 years in a rather intimate living arragement, something will stick and that imprint will be close to what I wanted to say. Time only will tell if I turn out to be right or wrong but I merely hope they'll find it valuable, one way or another.

4 points by felipe 1 day ago 1 reply      
I am a western (Brazilian-American) living in China.

All this drilling and tests may sound crazy, but I do think it teaches an important value that is missing in the west's education: discipline

My wife is a teacher. She taught kids in the US (California) and here in China. One difference is that in the US a huge amount of her preparation time is spent on making lessons interesting to students, otherwise they disconnect. In China she is more focused on the lesson's subject matter, rather than tweaking the lesson for entertainment / attention value.

True, Chinese education does not value creativity or self-expression like in the west (and Chinese students are aware of that). But the lack of discipline is not the way to go IMO.

Jean Hsu's post is wonderful, by the way.

10 points by tastybites 1 day ago 4 replies      
Just my couple of cents worth of first hand input...

Most Chinese families aren't crazy-obsessed with achievement - I'd say about 1/4 of them exhibit this kind of insane behavior, but that's still a very, very high rate, which is where this stereotype comes from. The rest are similar to their high-achieving white counterpart families.

Just as a data point, my two parents (two MDs and one PhD, yeah, it could have been real, real bad) weren't like this. I had a very normal childhood. I did all the things that white kids do.

I would like to bring up a possibility, which is possibly controversial: a lot of these kids let themselves be trampled on by their parents. In addition to (probably) being bullied at school, they are bullied at home by their parents. I really wish they would do more to stand up for themselves. They can't be blamed, though, as their will has been systematically removed by the parents in most cases.

Overall, this whole thing is a great example of very smart people doing very stupid things.

A not unrelated issue is the high rate of Asian American girls/women who refuse to date and marry Asian guys. It's so blindingly obvious as to why, I'm surprised anyone ever has to ask the question.

8 points by niels_olson 1 day ago 1 reply      
Another "strict parents" story, also coincidentally Asian: http://www.asiacarrera.com/bio2.html
3 points by mbubb 1 day ago 0 replies      
I read that WSJ article and had it clanking around in my head for a few days... I was countering it with some of the 'free-range' parenting styles you read about.

The most valid insight of the article was that some things (ie - violin, number theory, LISP, organic chemistry) are inherently hard and require discipline to get through the 'rote-learning' boring parts. The 'touchy-feely', "let's make math interesting" style of parenting/ teaching misses this. There is something to 3 hours of violin vs 45 minutes and 2 hours of TV as a reward...

I am no 'Chinese Mom' but see that this style of parenting is best for a kid who has certain proclivities. If they have an impulse towards music it is important for them to push them selves past the drudgery of practicing scales onto real accomplishment.

If the kid hates music then drop it and find something else. But push them enough so that they understand that if they work through the initial tough part some real beauty lies ahead.

4 points by stcredzero 1 day ago 0 replies      
While trying to give them an academic advantage, these parents are really stunting their personal and social development.

This rings true in my experience. I don't think my parents understood the difference between substantive (and personal) success and societal success. Actually, for me the pervasive and insistent message was that my passions do not matter and are probably wrong and bad.

Their narrow-minded formula for success (great grades, ivy league, medical school, high paying job) may work for some, but it alienates those who might find success elsewhere.

I was one of these kids. At middle age I am still dealing with the emotional scars and just starting to find my true place in the world.

7 points by patrickgzill 1 day ago 0 replies      
One thing I will grant about the original book and the controversy about it ... whatever the publicist got, was worth it.
9 points by aothman 1 day ago 1 reply      
The point about turning out a generation of clones is spot on, and ultimately the cruelest irony of the whole thing. The best way to get into an elite college is by standing out as an individual; the colleges asian parents desperately want their kids to attend deal with the "asian clone" thing by rejecting the lot of them. The asian kid with a 1560 SAT and state violin awards (probably) isn't getting into Harvard, but if he had substituted kicking field goals for every minute he practiced violin...
5 points by flannell 1 day ago 0 replies      
I graduated in '99 with a 2.1 CompSci degree - the year a Chinese chap threw himself off the top of an 10-storey engineering building because he couldn't go back with a 2.1 degree.
2 points by gaoshan 20 hours ago 0 replies      
Just to throw this out there and give an actual Chinese mom perspective on this...

The two Chinese mothers I know well here in the U.S. (my wife and her cousin) both of whom were born and raised in China, both of whom have 2 children of about the same age as the original author and both of whom are similarly educated to the woman who wrote the original article this one is in response to, were disturbed by the message and methods presented. They found it abusive, excessive and wrong and have been mailing links to this to all of their friends in anger.

2 points by didip 22 hours ago 0 replies      
I was raised like this as well and surrounded by Asian parents who do this. I see a few of my Asian peers, as young parents, exercising the totalitarian technique as well.

I supposed, in the end, my dad did it. I accomplished all his goals at relatively young age. But that comes with a huge cost. I never see him as a loving caring dad. He is always the target to beat. Sucks to be him now, old and alone.

This article and other Asians who follow Amy Chua's style of parenting rarely see this one perspective:

The oppressive technique is cargo-culted to death among Asian parents. It is used by Asian parents who themselves, are not successful like some sort of miracle drugs.

This technique only works IF the parents themselves are successful. If the parents are lazy, glutton, and messy, there is no way this technique will make the kids dapper and discipline.

For those of you who suffer/ed Asian parents oppression, there's always the satirical: http://highexpectationsasianfather.tumblr.com

3 points by arethuza 23 hours ago 0 replies      
From that WSJ article:

"What Chinese parents understand is that nothing is fun until you're good at it."

I always thought it was your unlikely to get good at anything that you don't find fun.

2 points by Quarrelsome 22 hours ago 0 replies      
I've met people that were raised like that and they're broken.

They lack the volition to do things by themselves and are unable to make their own choices. I used to converse a lot with a girl brought up in this manner and if you asked the question: "why" a lot about the things she did or was about to do (like planning to go to a particular college) you would ultimately end up with: "I don't know".

Also I would bet that those kids are bullied to at least some extent at school. They would have been at mine at least. :D

1 point by kahawe 1 day ago 0 replies      
I am sorry, the WSJ article seemed like a lot of trolling to me. It never touched on the subject of why Chinese mothers are allegedly "superior" at bringing up "better" or "more successful" children (whatever that may be). Instead it took a long and round-about way of justifying why indeed Chinese mothers are "a superior" to their kids whom they seem to constantly boss around - with the best intentions.

I think Jean Hsu was spot on in her article, however: all this commanding and strict parenting just has to REALLY numb down the kid's initiative and will to "play" and "explore", try new things and learn on their own.

This may sound very harsh but for me, this bossing around just creates busy drones at best and at worst those kids will be very, very much lacking any orientation, motivation, initiative and a unique personality of sorts.

How can you find happiness on your own when the close bond with the person who has been controlling your life for 20, 25 years is suddenly gone?

4 points by nsoonhui 1 day ago 12 replies      
I hope I don't sound too racist or anti-Semite.

Why is it that when a Jewish mother does the same as the Asian mother, no one complains?

I'm a Chinese btw.

3 points by toblender 1 day ago 0 replies      
As an Engineer with a crazy controlling Chinese father. I know parents make a big difference in the early years. I've experienced not having attend sleep overs, any extracurricular/sports, friends over, or phone calls. Most prisoners have more freedom. My dad being a teacher back in China, ended up giving me hours of extra homework on top of the regular easy stuff from school.

Sure your kids may get into med school or become that lawyer, but I'm almost certain at some point they are going to hate you for ruining their childhood. Also they are just going to develop bingeing personalities and have overloads the moment you take your eyes off them.

4 points by dheerosaur 1 day ago 1 reply      
I came across http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Suicide_in_Japan when I was reading about Japan on Wikipedia. It led me to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shame_society which says that the high suicide rate may be attributed to the societal structure. These societies set high standards for individuals and that may result in high performance from the society but, at the same time, may depress under-achievers to such an extent that people commit suicides.
2 points by jchonphoenix 1 day ago 4 replies      
I'm not really sure whether to agree or disagree. I have asian parents and went through the whole ordeal.

I can honestly say that, as a kid, I didn't enjoy it, but then again, I can't imagine anyone would.

However, I definitely would not be as knowledgeable, intelligent, or well brought up without the asian schooling.

This article and most people against asian parenting's viewpoint is from the outsiders viewpoint. They all see the brutality of it and think "how could you treat your child like that." On the flipside however, it is undeniable that asians outperform westerners. Parenting likely has something to do with it.

I'm not saying one side is right or the other. I'm just noting that there's a statistical imbalance and unless we're all willing to admit asian genes are superior to all others, outside influence must be responsible and parenting/culture is the most likely culprit.

1 point by kenjackson 1 day ago 0 replies      
There's truth in both articles. While I had lots of fun as a kid I certainly wish I was better at more things. Although with that said, most of the things I wish I was better at are probably things Chinese mothers wouldn't really push: basketball, dancing, drawing/art, and piano (this they clearly do support).

But parenting is hard. At the end of the day, if my kids are happy, nice, respectful, and can afford the things they want, I'll be happy for them.

3 points by qiqiyan 1 day ago 0 replies      
Does it occur to anyone that the eastern/western parenting styles can be easily mixed?

When it comes to things like being honest, making good use of time, never give up easily, commitment to hard work, it doesn't hurt to exercise the eastern parenting style to force the kids to form these habits. The kids will thank you later.

When it comes to what the kids should do as hobby/career, the kids should be given a lot of freedom, as one can only do well in stuff that he/she's truly passionate about.

1 point by danielrhodes 20 hours ago 0 replies      
There's clearly some correlation between Chua's approach and 'success' as it is narrowly defined within an academic spectrum. However, in practice I think such methods discourage failure so strongly that the children grow up to choose only the narrow paths which guarantee success, and don't explore outwards.
1 point by hristov 1 day ago 0 replies      
My sisters are in high school and it is one of those overachiever schools. They say a lot of their friends are nervous wrecks because of pressure their parents put on them about getting into a top college, and a lot of kids actually turn to drugs for that reason.
4 points by ernestipark 1 day ago 1 reply      
I read the original article and honestly couldn't tell if it was a satire or not. I appreciate the honesty of the writer of this blog post though.
1 point by DisposaBoy 19 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm sorry for going OT and I know this isn't reddit but it has to be said because everyone knows that...

> Japanese girls are superior!

2 points by to_the_top 23 hours ago 0 replies      
1 point by p90x 22 hours ago 0 replies      
Am I the only one who thought that Amy Chua's article was more than a little 'tongue in cheek'?
1 point by hippo33 1 day ago 0 replies      
Excellent response. Well balanced and honest.
-4 points by toephu 1 day ago 0 replies      
Goto China and meet real Chinese.
ABCs are not real Chinese.
They are bananas. Yellow on the outside, White on the inside.
SOAP: The 'S' stands for simple (not really) cat-v.org
240 points by preek 5 days ago   88 comments top 32
30 points by lkrubner 5 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 4 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 4 days ago 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 5 days ago 2 replies      
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 4 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 4 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 4 days ago 0 replies      
SOAP really just exists to keep a tools/consulting/appserver/softwarestack business alive. Pretty sad.
15 points by dminor 5 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 4 days ago 0 replies      
This wonderful Socratic dialogue has articulated my professional hell over the past six months.
13 points by ahupp 4 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 5 days ago 0 replies      
Reminds me of the "Why I hate frameworks" essay by Benji Smith.


5 points by colinloretz 4 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 4 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!!

4 points by dedward 4 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.
3 points by aidenn0 4 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.

12 points by grnknight 5 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 4 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 4 days ago 1 reply      
The "Simple" in SOAP is seriously overtrumped by the "Simple" in SNMP.
1 point by Confusion 4 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 4 days ago 0 replies      
Design-by-committee in action...
2 points by motters 4 days ago 0 replies      
I never did anything using SOAP, and thought that this technology died many years ago.
3 points by mike-cardwell 4 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 5 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.

1 point by Rabidgremlin 4 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 4 days ago 4 replies      
Why did SOAP win, and XMLRPC not win?
2 points by iwwr 4 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 4 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 4 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 mcherm 4 days ago 0 replies      
Oh god... that's my life!
1 point by nervechannel 4 days ago 0 replies      
As an ex-SOAP-dev... Yeah.
1 point by MarkMc 3 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 yogipatel 4 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 2 days ago   185 comments top 35
24 points by rlpb 2 days 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.

46 points by lionhearted 2 days 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

86 points by jrockway 2 days 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 2 days 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.
24 points by bigsassy 2 days 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 2 days 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 2 days 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.
11 points by trotsky 2 days 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 2 days 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 2 days 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 2 days 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 2 days 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 2 days ago 0 replies      
4 points by ulugbek 2 days 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 2 days 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 2 days 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.

2 points by drawkbox 2 days 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.

1 point by dkokelley 2 days 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 contextfree 2 days 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 2 days 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 2 days 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 2 days 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 2 days ago 0 replies      
Great, another channel for identity theft.
1 point by knowledgesale 2 days 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 gersh 2 days 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 w1ntermute 2 days ago 0 replies      
Is there anything in the legislation forcing businesses & their customers to use this ID for all transactions?
0 points by sp4rki 2 days 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.
2 points by lwhi 2 days ago 0 replies      
One more stake in the heart of liberty.
1 point by bcheung 2 days 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 dennisgorelik 2 days 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.
1 point by yters 2 days ago 0 replies      
How long until a national ID turns into an international ID to combat terrorism?
0 points by eurohacker 2 days ago 0 replies      
Gongradulations fello americans,

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


-4 points by rman666 2 days ago 0 replies      
Mark of the Beast! Mark of the Beast!
-4 points by unoti 2 days 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 2 days 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 5 days ago   152 comments top 28
121 points by Eliezer 5 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 5 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 5 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 5 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 5 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 5 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)

24 points by Mz 5 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.)

32 points by donaldc 5 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 5 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

23 points by ryanpers 5 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 5 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 5 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 5 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.

20 points by Herring 5 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 5 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 5 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.
37 points by MBlume 5 days ago 1 reply      
Ugh. Slightly interesting for the first third, then a random swerve into misandrist bullshit.
4 points by PostOnce 5 days ago 0 replies      
Girls watch porn too. That fact apparently eludes the author.
5 points by sdenheyer 4 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.

2 points by marcusbooster 5 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 5 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 5 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.

6 points by WalterSear 5 days ago 1 reply      
That woman is ignorant to everything that I have observed my male sexuality to be.
1 point by lizzard 5 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 5 days ago 0 replies      
I wonder if Mz. Vargas-Cooper is related to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alberto_Vargas .
-1 point by nlavezzo 5 days ago 1 reply      
Why exactly is this on Hacker News?
-3 points by gribble 5 days ago 0 replies      
Banning links to The Atlantic would greatly improve the quality of the site.
-2 points by metal 5 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.
Engineering management at Facebook algeri-wong.com
230 points by sk_0919 5 days ago   42 comments top 10
22 points by wooster 5 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 5 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 5 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 5 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 4 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 5 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?

3 points by dacort 5 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.
2 points by spitfire 5 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.

1 point by Swannie 4 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 5 days ago 0 replies      
impressive insights.
Princeton Grad Student And 'Brilliant' Programmer, Dies In Apparent Suicide huffingtonpost.com
232 points by covertparadox 4 days ago   122 comments top 21
30 points by maxklein 4 days ago 6 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 4 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 3 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 4 days ago 1 reply      
Just FYI, here's another HN thread:


11 points by DLWormwood 4 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 4 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 4 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.
7 points by nopassrecover 4 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.

8 points by DrStalker 4 days ago 3 replies      
Is there any doubt it was suicide, or is the word "apparent" in the article heading unnecessary?
3 points by nhangen 3 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 4 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 4 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 4 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.

3 points by srram 3 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 4 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 4 days ago 2 replies      
Why the quotes around the word brilliant in the title? Am I missing something?
1 point by sn 2 days 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.

2 points by kilian 4 days ago 0 replies      
It always makes me feel sad how goddamn unfair life is to some.
2 points by blahedo 4 days ago 1 reply      
Eternal rest grant him.
1 point by privacyguru 3 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 4 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.
Inequality in Equalland daemonology.net
228 points by cperciva 2 days ago   133 comments top 15
27 points by ugh 2 days 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 2 days 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.

18 points by maeon3 2 days 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.
13 points by aneesh 2 days 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 2 days 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 2 days 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.

9 points by cperciva 2 days 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 2 days 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 2 days 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.

2 points by jdp23 2 days 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 lucasjung 2 days 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.

3 points by bhangi 2 days 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.
2 points by asmosoinio 2 days ago 0 replies      
Typo at: "The most indebted households in Equalland &mdash $130,133....", missing the ;-character.
1 point by Symmetry 2 days ago 0 replies      
Far more useful than looking at inequality in wealth or even income is inequality in consumption.
3 points by monkeypizza 2 days 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 4 days ago   226 comments top 21
75 points by jbk 4 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 3 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.

18 points by drivebyacct2 4 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?

13 points by ryanpetrich 4 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 gaiusparx 4 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.
10 points by kranner 4 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 3 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.
7 points by mbenjaminsmith 4 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 4 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 3 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.
19 points by schrototo 4 days ago 3 replies      
So how does this in any way enhance the freedom of users?
2 points by ryan-allen 3 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.

10 points by sanxiyn 4 days ago 1 reply      
Of course this is App Store's problem, and VLC for iOS should be no problem to install from Cydia.
6 points by sanxiyn 4 days ago 0 replies      
Battle for Wesnoth had the same problem:
2 points by adaml_623 3 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.
2 points by sdizdar 3 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 3 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 3 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 4 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 4 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 4 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.
Why GIMP is Inadequate troy-sobotka.blogspot.com
198 points by rkwz 1 day ago   104 comments top 22
34 points by samdk 1 day ago replies      
The 8-bit color limitation issue is well-known and has been for a long time. The solution is GEGL (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GEGL), which has been under development for a (very) long time now and is partially implemented in GIMP 2.6, the latest stable version. It is a problem, but it's important to put it into perspective: almost all monitors display 32-bit color (EDIT: or less) anyway, so if you're doing work targeted at a computer screen, it probably doesn't matter anyway. If you need to do work at color depths higher than 8 bits per pixel (that is, if you're doing serious print work) then yes, you need to be aware of these limitations. If you're almost everyone else it's probably not an issue. (I don't mean to imply that it's not a problem at all, but I think it's important to keep it in perspective.)

For the people here asking whether GIMP is good enough for what you're doing: Ars Technica did an excellent review of GIMP 2.6 about a year ago (EDIT: 2 years, but it's still the same major version). It's long, but well-worth reading and will answer your questions. It's written from the perspective of a professional who uses Photoshop, but does an excellent job of remaining balanced. This quote summarizes the review (and also my opinion) pretty nicely, I think:

    I may seem to skew negative since I talk so much about what's missing, but
it's hard to dwell on what a program does well and not sound like a fawning
idiot. Most people who sit down to get image editing work done with GIMP
will not be disappointed. There is a ton of room for advanced work here.

It can be found here: http://arstechnica.com/open-source/reviews/2009/01/gimp-2-6-...

While I don't follow it closely enough to really discuss GIMP's current development status, development does seem to have slowed significantly (purely from a user's perspective) in recent years. This is a real shame, since I think that for the most part it's an excellent program and in general I much prefer to work in GIMP over Photoshop. For all of its many flaws, I think it's a fantastic piece of software.

39 points by joakin 1 day ago 6 replies      
I expected this to be a rant or flame, but in fact he has described wonderfully what needs to be said.

Besides from all this pro features that GIMP lacks, in my opinion its biggest flaw its the UI. Its poor and raw, and makes sense if you are a programmer...
Mainly this is what keeps it far from the regular users I know.

Hope It doesnt die, its a very good open source multiplatform editing tool...

8 points by cookiecaper 1 day ago 1 reply      
There are several good alternatives to GIMP depending on what you're doing. GIMP is probably the best for traditional photo editing, but there seems to be more programs oriented toward illustration. In particular, I like Krita.

I don't really know what the deal is with the low development interest in GIMP. I think maybe it's that Photoshop's professional niche generally isn't comprised of big fan of computers in the first place, so they are more like the Office crowd and just want to use what they're used to; they're hostile to any change from the start.

I also think that the extremely long development cycle of GEGL, which was necessary for the most commonly requested features like increased bit depth, CMYK, etc., may have turned developers off.

I'm merely guessing here, though. I definitely agree that GIMP has a lot of potential, and a few dedicated developers could really take it places.

30 points by iwwr 1 day ago 1 reply      
This is valuable feedback from an artist who actually bothered to try to use the software. Ultimately, for a highly-paid artist, learning a new interface is itself costly.
12 points by coffeeaddicted 1 day ago 0 replies      
Having only 2 principal developers left which have little time sounds to me like the biggest problem. That's not enough manpower to compete with Photoshop in the long run. One reason for that might be that Gimp already does the stuff most coders need from an image manipulation tool, so maybe there's not enough itches to scratch left to get more talent interested in developing for it.
5 points by cageface 1 day ago 0 replies      
This article brings my experience with OSS full circle. It was the Gimp and GTK that first drew my attention to OSS in about 1997. At the time it was tempting to believe that OSS was inherently a better development model but after almost fifteen years it's clear that it's been wildly successful in some domains but a washout in others.
11 points by billhasmail 1 day ago 2 replies      
"Important progress towards high bit-depth and non-destructive editing in GIMP has been made. Most color operations in GIMP are now ported to the powerful graph based image processing framework GEGL, meaning that the internal processing is being done in 32bit floating point linear light RGBA. By default the legacy 8bit code paths are still used, but a curious user can turn on the use of GEGL for the color operations with Colors / Use GEGL."

Clearly this artist was not a curious user.

2 points by sfphotoarts 22 hours ago 0 replies      
For anyone serious about image production the cost of the software, like the cost of the camera and lenses is insignificant. For most photographers bit depth is only something they give much thought to when a client dictates (like a stock agency requiring a 16bit tiff, for example). For the vast majority of people just making images, 8 bit depth is perfectly fine. Most sensors in digital cameras are not anywhere near 16 bit anyway, more likely 12 or sometimes 14.

The photoshopessentails links below will obviously illustrate a difference (but not one that is very striking considering the destructive editing applied) - its a classic dynamic range compress/expand to show the benefits of higher quantization levels. Obviously that will degrade an image. Nobody, I suspect, is willing to show a side by side comparison of an image showing ordinary editing with rounding errors that make the slightest different to the image.

Most output is computer screens anyway where there is so much more impacting the image than rounding errors in editing stage. When you print an image that also introduces its own set of transforms, some have the benefit of making much that is visible on the screen (like moderate chroma noise) largely go away.

I dislike GIMP because it lacks the polish and sophistication of Photoshop but good photographs are good photographs, regardless of rounding errors in adjustment layers. When you look back at the last century of images, how many of those photos do you say would be improved had they more resolution, or less banding or whatever technical nonsense metric you want to apply.

8 points by ominous_prime 1 day ago 0 replies      
To everyone who is replying to the 8bit issue by mentioning GEGL - Have you actually used it in a professional capacity?

As a (now part-time) professional photographer, I have evaluated GIMP; and as a FOSS advocate I really wanted it to work. The performance issues the article mentions are with reasonable sized images at only 8 bits, but editing a 16bit, 25MP image wasn't just slow, it was unusable. Photoshop however, runs in near real time at these image sizes. Even automating a GEGL filter to run on a series of a few hundred images would take long enough that I couldn't maintain a usable workflow.

5 points by rythie 1 day ago 0 replies      
Surely the underlying problem is that GIMP is and has been underfunded for years. Where as Photoshop costs $100s, GIMP presumably has very little revenue if it can only pay for two developers.

Firefox is able to develop quickly due to the deal with Google, maybe GIMP needs something like that, e.g. a app-store for plugins or a kickstarter funding drive.

9 points by retube 1 day ago 2 replies      
Another missing feature for me is lack of a CYMK color palette. Vital for sending images to the printers.
5 points by healthyhippo 1 day ago 4 replies      
I don't know much about photo editing, but I've used Gimp for a little while along with Inkscape for editing. I use it for simple stuff- drop shadows, minor logo work, etc. Is there a noticeable difference vs. photoshop on that level?
1 point by code_duck 21 hours ago 0 replies      
Yes, Gimp isn't competition to Photoshop for professionals. For people who want to do a variety of tasks where professional quality isn't critical, however, it's great. Gimp falls somewhere in between Photoshop Elements, PaintShopPro and Photoshop.

The UI is a huge problem. Whomever thought it was a good idea to make the tool window always on top with no way to minimize it, and no menus, needs to step away from working on UIs.

2 points by waterside81 23 hours ago 0 replies      
It's a shame that GIMP isn't supported by more devs/money. Writing script-fus for GIMP makes it so much more useful for a developer than Photoshop. I've saved myself so much time using python-fu with GIMP to automate opening, manipulating, saving of files.
1 point by city41 20 hours ago 0 replies      
GIMP has no support for the Pantone color system either. Another reason professionals tend to avoid it. Not the GIMP's fault, as Pantone is proprietary. But regardless, it's used heavily in the design industry.
1 point by njharman 1 day ago 1 reply      
as far as gimps usefulness to profesionals the movie version fork cinepaint, is good enough for making Harry Potter and other movies I question authors knowledge of / authority to speak for artistic professionals.
2 points by NIL8 1 day ago 1 reply      
What shocks me is the lack of competition in this field in the year 2011. Why are we still talking about choosing between GIMP or Photoshop? I know there are other programs out there that some people will claim they prefer over GIMP or PS, but for most of the planet it's GIMP or PS.

Is the lack of competition due to the magnitude of such a programming endeavor or is it something else like patents? Any idea?

1 point by jlouis 1 day ago 0 replies      
Can you represent each channel as a double? Or will that take up too much memory in the long run?
1 point by gsivil 1 day ago 2 replies      
I would be curious to see similar posts for Octave and OpenOffice. I am really happy that they exist but "inadequate" would be a fair word to describe both. Comparing of course with Matlab and MS Office .
0 points by bitwize 23 hours ago 0 replies      
The problem is that the intersection of fosstards and serious print designers is vanishingly small. If you're doing pro press work, you're going to buy the tool that everybody else uses and that print shops have standardized upon. That tool is Photoshop.
1 point by npaquin 1 day ago 0 replies      
The problem that I've always had with GIMP is that it (menus, macros, general UI, etc.) doesn't mimic Photoshop. If you want to go after a well established product why not mimic these things to achieve a higher adoption rate (due to instant familiarity)?
-1 point by hackermom 1 day ago 1 reply      
It's funny how the writer mentions a handful of technically unimportant flaws with GIMP, blowing them out of proportion, but fails to mention the one big thing where GIMP falls flat on its ass: the clunky, unstructured mess of a UI.
Mac App Store: Open for Business apple.com
201 points by shawndumas 6 days ago   277 comments top 32
39 points by pclark 6 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 5 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 6 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 6 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 6 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 6 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 watty 6 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.
4 points by powrtoch 5 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.
9 points by pstinnett 6 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 6 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 6 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 6 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 6 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 6 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 6 days ago 0 replies      
It's just like a massive computer magazine shareware cover disk.
7 points by zppx 6 days ago 3 replies      
Aperture is US$ 79,99 in the Store, Lightroom now seems so expensive...
3 points by igravious 5 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 5 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 5 days ago 0 replies      
I'm at #20 in Top Paid Music, and climbing...
3 points by troels 6 days ago 2 replies      
Distribute Mac apps on the Mac App Store


Hm ..

2 points by awakeasleep 5 days ago 0 replies      

    class UIComplaint(BikeShed.colorComplaint):

1 point by naz 6 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 6 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 6 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 6 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 5 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 6 days ago 1 reply      
Creative icon... If it was black, it would fit nicely with iTunes.
1 point by cbguder 5 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 5 days ago 0 replies      
Bummer - no way to create promo codes for Mac apps as of yet in iTunesConnect...
-2 points by tyng 6 days ago 1 reply      
iTunes should be renamed, it's not just about the "tunes" anymore
-1 point by elvirs 6 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 5 days ago 0 replies      
Ubuntu's had an app store for years (although paid apps are a more recent addition).
For what are the Windows A:\ and B:\ drives used? superuser.com
199 points by fakelvis 5 hours ago   157 comments top 41
11 points by raganwald 1 hour ago 1 reply      
Floppies!? Kids these days. My High School had an actual, physical computer, a Data General minicomputer. We used teletypes that printed on a continuous roll of cheap paper.

The computer used removable media: 12" removable "Diablo" 5MB hard drive platters. One had four user basic on it, one had single user basic, and one was locked away with the software for grading students.

Memory management was primitive: BASIC ran in RAM, and if you used single user basic, you had 4x the RAM and therefore room for 4x the program. When swapping drives, you had to boot the computer by toggling the CPU's three instructions into the front panel.

I wrote a massive Star Trek adventure game in single user basic. Friends would actually creep into the lab overnight so they could play by themselves.

20 points by RyanMcGreal 3 hours ago 4 replies      
> "Please Insert Disk 13" OH GOD WHERE IS DISK 13, I CAN'T FIND DISK 13. - Jeff 16 hours ago

I have exactly this memory as well.

My first computer was a Compaq Deskpro Portable. It had a 5.25" floppy drive and a 40 MB hard disk. It was an embarrassment of riches - how could you ever fill up 40 whole megabytes? Between that and my custom AUTOEXEC.BAT file, I was set.

As it happens, I still have most of the files I created on that original computer, and can even run my old BASIC programs using DOSBox on Ubuntu. I had to copy the files via 5.25" floppies to another computer that had a 5.25" and a 3.5" floppy drive; and from there on 3.5" floppies to yet another computer that had a 3.5" floppy drive and a CD drive.

26 points by RiderOfGiraffes 4 hours ago 4 replies      
My first computer didn't have disk drives at all - it used standard audio cassette tapes in standard audio cassette machines. I remember feeding the audio into an oscilliscope and reverse engineering the format used on the tape, then writing Z80 machine code (I didn't have an assember - I wrote actual hex opcodes and fed them into a program I wrote that read hex and poked the values into memory) to create tapes that then overwrote the stack and booted me into a machine code monitor.

Then I wrote a Forth operating system.

This was on a 16KB machine (I had the expansion pack) with a 1.7MHz Z80.

Fun days. I still have the machine and its complete circuit diagram. I should get it out again, but then again, I don't have time:


1 point by snorkel 4 minutes ago 0 replies      
Don't even get us old timers started on how we used to mount CD drives. Editing AUTOEXEC.BAT and CONFIG.SYS and making sure the sound card driver loaded after so it wouldn't steal the same interrupt, and sometimes D:\ would appear to be there but you couldn't read it ... ah, my back hurts! Get off my lawn!
109 points by giu 5 hours ago 8 replies      
This question makes me feel old. And I'm in my early twenties.
27 points by benwerd 4 hours ago 4 replies      
Aw, man. I turned 32 on Friday, which is 224 in developer years, and have spent the last couple of days consoling myself that everything's fine, I'm not past it, etc etc. And now this. Thank you, Hacker News. Thank you so much. I am as old as dust and time and the fabric of the universe. Now I know how all those COBOL programmers felt.
2 points by edw519 51 minutes ago 0 replies      
The possibilities are endless (27 second video)...


22 points by redthrowaway 4 hours ago 8 replies      
Who else remembers using the square punch to put a hole in those 3 1/2" AOL disks to reformat them as HD?
7 points by Unosolo 2 hours ago 0 replies      
Few people on superuser.com seem to mention that B:\ was always reserved even on a single floppy system so that it was possible to copy data from one floppy onto another:

1. Insert source disk

2. Type copy a:\. b:\

3. The system will read a chunk of data from a:\ then say:
Please insert disk B: and press any key to continue...

4. You'd swap the disks, press a key, and the system will write the chunk of data and say
Please insert disk A: and press any key to continue...

This would go on and on and on...

Anyone remembers installing Win95 and the number of 1.44MB 3.5" floppies it came on? 26! And once you got to about disk no. 13 it would start asking you to insert seemingly random disk numbers every minute or so... Or how about getting to disk number 17 and being told that the installation is corrupt, start over.... errrr.......

9 points by erikstarck 4 hours ago 1 reply      
Quite fascinating how some design decisions tend to stick due to technical or other reasons. We will probably still run Windows 2020 on the C-drive. Sometimes the reason is backwards compatiblity, other times it's something that requires a huge redesign of an entire system.

But, most of the time I think it's because people simply think that this is the way things are supposed to be. One example is how long it took before Auto-ISO became an option on DSLRs.

In all cases there are opportunities for a startup to be disruptive. So, keep looking for those C-drives!

21 points by iwwr 5 hours ago 3 replies      
I remember a time when you needed to carry 30 floppies to be able to copy C&C:Red Alert... and it was worth it.
7 points by Steve0 3 hours ago 3 replies      
Makes you wonder, when will the floppy be discarded as the icon for 'save'?
1 point by motters 2 hours ago 2 replies      
As far as I remember the A and B drives were used for floppy disks. In the olden days home computers didn't have hard drives, and typically either had a single or dual floppy drive. With a dual drive you could do fancy things like make backup copies, without having to repeatedly store data to RAM and swap source and destination floppies. In the 1980s home computers typically didn't have enough memory to store the entire contents of a floppy disk in RAM, which made the process of creating backups irksome if you didn't have a dual drive.

If you've only started using Windows based computers within the last five years then the missing A and B drives may seem mysterious. Floppy drives started disappearing from first laptops and then desktop machines in the early 2000s.

3 points by maxklein 4 hours ago 1 reply      
In 20 years people won't understand CDs either, or why people would carry around plastic as big as 3 iPods to play 12 songs.
2 points by ck2 4 hours ago 0 replies      
I finally threw away my Model II 8-inch floppies a few years ago.


One day you'll have to take your kids to a museum to show them a CRT monitor (and they will have to take their kids to a museum to show them an incandescent light bulb).

1 point by lesterbuck 26 minutes ago 0 replies      
Where did floppy disks come from, Daddy?

I'm old enough to remember the 8" floppy disk that was invented by IBM to ... wait for it ... boot System 360! I think they had CE (customer engineer, i.e., repair guy) diagnostics, firmware, etc. on them, as the little bit I actually saw one being used, it was during maintenance.

2 points by bane 2 hours ago 0 replies      
"Once upon a time ... technologies of the past."
"Il était une fois... les technologies du passé."


This video made me feel tremendously old.

2 points by rick_2047 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Interesting. After the first few thoughts like "This can't be happening I am only 19" and "this guy is either dumb or 6" my next thought was "What would be the question that would make me feel really old when I am in my 50s"?

The effect this question has on people is because they remember some information which most of the users today don't know as they have never used that technology. So what technology of today will become so obsolete that you would remember your age?

2 points by michael_dorfman 2 hours ago 1 reply      
I recently bought my 13-year-old daughter a laptop with 8 gig of RAM. When I was 13, I was lucky enough to get a computer with 8 kb of RAM (and one of the 8 went to the operating system, so there were 7167 bytes free.)

There aren't too many areas where one generation translates to a million-fold improvement.

2 points by forinti 4 hours ago 0 replies      
I must be a ancient, because I remember having to identify which side of the floppy I wanted to use!

On the BBC Micro, the first drive had sides 0 and 2; the second drive had sides 1 and 3. And I was lucky to have two drives. I only saw HDs on magazines.

13 points by jaywalker 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Best comment: I never anticipated this day would ever come....
1 point by maguay 1 hour ago 0 replies      
I'm in my early twenties, and one of my earliest memories of computers was my Dad trying to get a book of stamps out of the floppy drive on his Amiga. Plus, who could forget installing Windows 95 from, what was it, 20 floppies? And now we buy 1Tb drives like it's nothing...
3 points by bhavin 4 hours ago 2 replies      
One might wonder why the first two letters are for floppy and not HDD. If you follow the drive letters, going from A to higher alphabets generally give you evolution of technology (ignoring network map Z:).

A: - floppy
C:/D: - HDD
F: - External Storage

1 point by jadedoto 45 minutes ago 0 replies      
I miss going to class with a floppy and knowing it was corrupted, get an extension on the assignment. I am only 20... are there really computer users out there unfamiliar with floppies? I keep 5.25" drives around for fun and I still have Windows 95 on 3.25"ers :)
2 points by rman666 1 hour ago 0 replies      
My first personal computer was an Ohio Scientific C24P. I had to load BASIC into RAM using a 300 baud cassette tape. Beat that, ya youngsters!
1 point by jeza 2 hours ago 0 replies      
> "I think it shows how obsolete these things have become that the 'new generation' have no experience of them :-) Makes me feel old " Andy Paton"

Yet we had to put up with this inferior technology for so long. I remember people were still running around with floppy disks at high school in the late 90s/early 00s (it was easily 20 year old technology by that time) and I started using the internet for transferring my files. So much that I have never purchased a USB memory device.

1 point by EGreg 1 hour ago 1 reply      
They used to be used for floppy disks and other such things! In fact they started in DOS. Ah, remember the days? I do... b because I'm 27.

Anyone here started programming with QBasic?

2 points by bnastic 2 hours ago 0 replies      
SSD is the best upgrade we can do these days?

Kids don't know what it feels to upgrade from a C-64 with a "datasette" to an early Atari 520ST with 3.5" floppies. THAT was an upgrade, everything else pales in comparison.

1 point by Maro 4 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm turning 30 in April and sometimes I feel like an old dog. Nevertheless, the article made my day, I can't stop laughing over it and the comments, esp. the Penny Arcade link in this thread. Cheers =)
3 points by othello 4 hours ago 1 reply      
This reminds me that even us twenty-somethings may one day be made every bit as clumsy and baffled by whatever comes up 30 years from now as our own proverbial mothers are today...
2 points by skbohra123 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Never, this would happen again that one technology/company would have such huge effect.
1 point by antidaily 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Jeff Atwood tweeted this yesterday with the comment "want to feel old?"
2 points by tintin 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Also a nice reminder to expect the unexpected in your work. I bet most programs back then trusted there was a disk in A. Now installers are relying on the existence of C. But what if you boot from USB? The '/' solution is a more elegant one in this case.
3 points by lovskogen 4 hours ago 0 replies      
How long before a question like "My DVD wont play in this old computers DVD player?"?
2 points by codeup 5 hours ago 2 replies      
Knowing the answer and feeling somewhat nostalgic about it makes me feel old!
4 points by nevvermind 4 hours ago 1 reply      
There are too many "this makes me feel old" in here. And in SO, for that matter. You snob folks...
1 point by el_chapitan 2 hours ago 0 replies      
This makes me remember when the first iMac came out (apparently in '98) and just broke my brain by not having a floppy drive.


1 point by retube 5 hours ago 1 reply      
I remember having an Amstrad 640k. Two 5 1/4 floppy drives, no hard disk. Booting it up involved putting in about 5 disks one after the other and took about 20 minutes.

Ah those were the days.

2 points by hackermom 3 hours ago 0 replies      
This gave me a good laughter, and I'm only 30.
1 point by sbt 2 hours ago 0 replies      
Now I just feel old
1 point by flexd 4 hours ago 1 reply      
This makes me remember elementary school and saving stuff on floppies, and that i have Sango fighter on floppies in a drawer somewhere. They really do not make games as good as they were before!
How Pixar Bosses Saved Their Employees from Layoffs geekosystem.com
191 points by rpledge 19 hours ago   48 comments top 12
22 points by vl 18 hours ago 8 replies      
I'm worried about future of Pixar, they always valued original and insightful stories. All of their early and recent productions were delightful to watch. Understandably, this approach left not so many space for sequels.

They recently committed to making of Monsters 2 and Cars 2. Story outline for Cars 2 is just terrible. It seems that financial concerns under Disney leadership are prevailing and bits of integrity are slipping away.

11 points by haasted 18 hours ago 0 replies      
Remarkably similar to the story of how the jews of Zakynthos were saved during WWII.


3 points by MarkMc 4 hours ago 0 replies      
In 2008, Pixar's creative director John Lasseter explained the secret of their success: "The people who work here are doing what they've wanted to do their whole lives." [1]

This is great advice that can be applied to any type of work, particularly entrepreneurial start-up activity. If you're in it just for the money and don't enjoy what you do, chances are your little start-up venture will not succeed.

It also didn't hurt that Ed and Alvy could stand up to their bosses. In my experience, one feature that separates good manages from bad is the willingness to shield their team from the crap thrown by upper management.

[1] http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1813964,00....

3 points by Stormbringer 8 hours ago 1 reply      
It's funny how the mind plays tricks on us. I had thought that Steve Jobs had made much more off the sale than that - when I looked at their numbers 7.4 billion return on 5 million invested over 20 years? Pffft. Then I ran the numbers...

... it translates to a 44% compounding annual increase over 20 years ...

Oh that I should do so well for anyone that would invest in me!!

6 points by sdh 17 hours ago 0 replies      
don't worry! disney execs will finally figure out a way to get those layoffs to happen.
2 points by Splines 16 hours ago 0 replies      
If you haven't yet, go and watch the Pixar Shorts Films Collection[1]. It includes a fairly long extra with interviews with early Pixar employees, and the challenges they faced with the limited technology at the time.

[1] http://www.amazon.com/Pixar-Short-Films-Collection-1/dp/B000...

2 points by radioactive21 16 hours ago 0 replies      
Great story. Of course if you over analysis it's nothing great, under neath it could simply be that the executives know that the layoffs was just a start. First round of layoffs leads to low morale, which leads to a decline in quality which eventually leads to them being removed.

A lot of leaderships like coaches are usually on short lifespans. The executives knew that by forcing the company to think about losing two top execs it was serious and maybe reconsider. In this case it was a good gamble.

Their intentions is what makes the story great, though. Honestly I would have given a list of people to layoff, but that's why I am not a great leader or a leader of anything for that matter, of any sorts LOL

1 point by jedsmith 17 hours ago 1 reply      
I watched "ILM - Creating the Impossible" on Encore on Demand the other night, and it was well worth the watch. There is quite a bit devoted to the relationship between ILM and Pixar, and a number of historical anecdotes like this article that are very interesting.

If you haven't seen it, check it out before they drop it. Of course, The Pixar Story is worth watching as well (same people, I think).

1 point by julian37 18 hours ago 1 reply      
According to this article, Pixar doesn't treat its employees as nicely these days: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/lee-stranahan/lucasfilm-and-pi...
2 points by lukefabish 17 hours ago 1 reply      
It's great to see that level of commitment to a team, but it was also a smart move - those guys knew that the intellectual capital sitting in those employees heads was one of Pixar's biggest assets. Get rid of them so they can go work for a competitor? Nuts.
1 point by hkarthik 19 hours ago 2 replies      
Great story. But look how times have changed. I can't imagine many company leaders today choosing to stand their ground and put their own heads on the chopping block. I'm not sure when it happened, but this kind of servant leadership doesn't seem to exist today.
Anyone have recent examples of stories like this?
1 point by deepGem 12 hours ago 0 replies      
Had read about this in HBR long back, Thanks for the refresher. The entire Pixar story is very very inspiring.
Facebook hype will fade cnn.com
189 points by sdizdar 4 days ago   118 comments top 34
59 points by klochner 4 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 4 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 4 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 4 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 4 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 4 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 4 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 4 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 gaiusparx 4 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 4 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.
2 points by kevin_morrill 3 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.

3 points by imkevingao 4 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 4 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 ojbyrne 4 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.

1 point by projectileboy 3 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.

4 points by whenisall 4 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 4 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 4 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 4 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 3 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 4 days ago 0 replies      
Stupid title. Doesn't hype always fade, by definition?
1 point by zinssmeister 4 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 3 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 Hominem 4 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 ruedaminute 3 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 wilschroter 4 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 chopsueyar 3 days ago 0 replies      
Read his books, Exit Strategy and also Ecstasy Club, good scifi.
1 point by mrleinad 4 days ago 0 replies      
Hypes will fade. By definition.
0 points by mnml_ 3 days ago 0 replies      
TheFacebook hype died in Nov. 2007 when they introduced advertisement.
-1 point by thefox 4 days ago 0 replies      
Facebook sucks!
-1 point by popschedule 4 days ago 0 replies      
in the future your time will fade
3 points by T-R 4 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 4 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 4 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.

Sorry, your “cool” webapp is probably not going to make money paraschopra.com
181 points by paraschopra 2 days ago   84 comments top 21
33 points by MicahWedemeyer 2 days 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.)

24 points by jacquesm 2 days 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 1 day 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 2 days 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.

8 points by Maro 2 days 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 2 days 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 2 days 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 1 day 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 2 days 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 2 days 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 2 days 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 2 days 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 2 days 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 1 day 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 2 days 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.

2 points by alexro 2 days 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.

1 point by middlegeek 2 days 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.
0 points by SeanDav 2 days 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 2 days 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".

2 points by evolution 2 days ago 0 replies      
"Money or the ability to make it doesn't impress anybody around here. " -- Mark Zuckerberg (the social network)
1 point by gersh 1 day ago 0 replies      
1/10 isn't bad odds. After your fifth app, you should have pretty good odds.
Simple Truths Smart People Forget marcandangel.com
178 points by edo 1 day ago   44 comments top 13
65 points by edw519 1 day ago 5 replies      
#11. The proper marketing can make even the most mediocre content irresistible.

  - turn prose into a list
- target a specific audience
- challenge them by telling them they're doing something wrong

For example:

"Common Sense" --> "10 Simple Truths" --> "10 Simple Truths for Smart People" --> "10 Simple Truths Smart People Forget".

28 points by scrrr 1 day ago 2 replies      
Weird. How did this spammy self-help blah-blah make it to the front-page? Must be a slow news day or simply vanity: "Hey, I am smart, I want to see what truths I forget! Vote up, cause we're all smart here."
10 points by pieter 1 day ago 4 replies      
#4 " Having too many choices interferes with decision making.

I think most of us are painfully aware of this in everyday live. At least, I find it very hard to buy a new TV or stereo or phone, because I want to have the best device for my budget. Comparing all devices from all manufacturers on all interesting dimensions (size, price, power usage, brightness, CI+ support, ...) is almost impossible. The result is that I usually either buy nothing, or buy the product from Apple.

9 points by crazydiamond 1 day ago 2 replies      
#2 " Happiness and success are two different things.

Could not agree more. Our definition of happiness often includes "Success". And people's definition of success is quite relative, depending on other people's current perceptions and ideas of how we should be or what people envy, or image.

I retired 6 years back, spend more time sitting and walking in parks, feeding and playing with stray dogs, and remaining in the present moment. I've never been happier. Others see mine as a life wasted - dropping a high paying job, loads of money to spend, and becoming a miserly bum !

33 points by somebodyelse 1 day ago 1 reply      
#11 People who understand psychographics will cater content to you by stroking your sense of intellectual superiority.
2 points by bane 23 hours ago 0 replies      
Having too many choices interferes with decision making.

I think humans are optimized for pair-wise decision making. We do "okay" with 3 or 4 things but beyond that, I've noticed a distinct inability for most people to make wise decisions.

I'd also add #11: Most people don't make rational decisions.
I've noticed that quite often, even in the face of mountains of evidence to the contrary (all signs point to "this is a bad decision!") people will continue to make poor decisions. They usually survive that by also having an amazing ability to justify poor decision making.

and #12: Most people make their way in the world more less/fine with IQs of around 100. If you believe you are smart, you should be able to do anything that any normal person can do if you set your mind to it. And normal people can get an impressive amount of mileage out of 100 IQ points. I've noticed that many very smart people tend to use their intelligence as a crutch or excuse for why they can't do something. Usually it's w/r to socialization, but can also affect other areas -- simple things like paying their bills on time or showing up to meetings on time. The stereotype of the absent minded professor comes to mind.

7 points by Peroni 1 day ago 2 replies      
No matter how you make a living or who you think you work for, you only work for one person, yourself.

This advice is the key to remaining motivated in a job that doesn't challenge you. The best manager I have ever worked for got me thinking from the perspective that I should treat the organisation I work for like it was my own business. Once I applied that mentality I found that I was a lot more focused and determined to have an impact on the bottom line.

I still spend half my day on HN though!

1 point by BerislavLopac 4 hours ago 0 replies      
"Happiness and success are two different things."

My favorite take on the topic is the old one:

Success is when you have what you want. Happiness is when you want what you have.

2 points by larrik 1 day ago 0 replies      
I completely disagree with #8. A bad friend can be a cancer in your life, and blaming yourself for their failures is an extremely common way of dragging yourself down. Assuming that it's usually something to do with yourself, or that it's better to forget the past is just asinine.
6 points by grigy 1 day ago 0 replies      
Regardless of what have been said above I like to be reminded. It helps to stay afloat.
2 points by pqs 1 day ago 1 reply      
The author wrote "smart" in the title, but the content is valid for everybody, smart or not. ;-)

I guess the use of "smart" in this title is just marketing to atract readers. Everybody knows that most people think that they are smarter than the mean! ;-)

1 point by pornel 1 day ago 0 replies      
From the guidelines:

> If the original title begins with a number or number + gratuitous adjective, we'd appreciate it if you'd crop it. E.g. translate "10 Ways To Do X" to "How To Do X," and "14 Amazing Ys" to "Ys."

1 point by bgray 23 hours ago 0 replies      
#7. Though this example may be hold true, I don't always relate corporate promotions to being 'good' at something. One thing that I've definitely learning is the people you know (your 'visibility') is as important (maybe more) than what you know.
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