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My winter break project " Silk weavesilk.com
671 points by yurivish 4 days ago   88 comments top 46
54 points by adatta02 4 days ago 5 replies      
That looks pretty amazing.

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

24 points by bgraves 4 days 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!

15 points by efsavage 3 days ago 0 replies      
Kudos to you not only for a great piece of work, but for calling it a "project" and not a "startup".
8 points by jcr 4 days 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 4 days 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 4 days 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 4 days 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 albertsun 4 days 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 4 days 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 mustpax 3 days 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 jarin 4 days ago 0 replies      
That is beautiful! I made a piece that I call "God's Commode"


3 points by erreon 4 days 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 4 days ago 0 replies      
3 points by mdolon 4 days ago 0 replies      
Great work, it's simply stunningly beautiful. I think (and hope) your iPhone/iPad apps will do well, best of luck!
2 points by yurivish 1 day ago 0 replies      
I just posted a blog about the experience: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=2101422
2 points by getsat 4 days 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! :)

3 points by mcgraw 4 days 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 4 days ago 3 replies      
I'm finding the shift+mouse isn't working (using Firefox 4 beta 7 on Linux)
3 points by andresmh 4 days 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 DamonOehlman 4 days 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 4 days ago 0 replies      
Please make a screensaver out of this!
1 point by mceachen 3 days 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 code_duck 4 days 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.
1 point by vaksel 4 days 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 barredo 4 days ago 0 replies      

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

2 points by CountHackulus 4 days ago 0 replies      
The democoder in me loves this. Very well done, and an awesome effect.
1 point by RyanMcGreal 4 days ago 0 replies      
I particularly like the additive mixing. Fantastic implementation.
1 point by TeMPOraL 4 days ago 0 replies      
The replay button reminds me of the Achron game (an up-coming Meta-Time RTS). Basically, you can start drawing, then press Replay and draw some more on the replay, and then press Replay again... looks amazing :D. Nice work :).
2 points by whackedspinach 4 days ago 1 reply      
I can't seem to get the shift+mouse to control the wind to work using Chromium on Linux.
2 points by pizzaburger 3 days ago 0 replies      
Wow, I've never seen anyone do this before: <script src="//usecharm.com/silk.js">
1 point by istvanp 4 days 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 tlack 4 days 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 d0mine 4 days ago 0 replies      
Silk + electricsheep-like selection = screensaver


1 point by inovica 4 days 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 marceldegraaf 2 days 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.
1 point by robjama 3 days ago 1 reply      
Beautiful work! This project definitely needs some publicity...did you think about putting it up on Kickstarter (http://www.kickstarter.com/)?
1 point by muxxa 3 days 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 aeontech 4 days ago 0 replies      
Very impressive... simple-looking but so polished... Amazing job, congratulations!
1 point by sunbash 3 days 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 bystac 3 days 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 4 days 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 4 days ago 0 replies      
I like the simplicity of this, this would be really fun as a Quartz Composer patch.
1 point by spektom 3 days ago 0 replies      
This is so amazing! Now I realize the power of html5!
1 point by sidwyn 3 days ago 0 replies      
All I can say is wow.
1 point by yellowSchoolBus 3 days ago 0 replies      
Looks terrific!
0 points by niico 4 days ago 0 replies      
Me gusta!
Carnegie Mellon CS Professor challenges Sony by mirroring Geohot's PS3 hacks cmu.edu
602 points by elliottcarlson 2 days ago   81 comments top 15
74 points by jdp23 2 days ago 2 replies      
About a decade ago, David Touretsky (the professor behind this) hosted a "gallery" of versions for the DeCSS decryption software.
85 points by lotusleaf1987 2 days ago 3 replies      
This professor is indescribably awesome.
10 points by mahmud 2 days ago 1 reply      
CMU CS professors have a history of kicking ass. Robert Harper is another one who is a very vocal anti-DMCA campaigner, and hosts his own political radio show :-)


19 points by elliottcarlson 2 days ago 1 reply      
Additionally, Team fail0verflow's github is also mirrored: http://www.cs.cmu.edu/~dst/GeoHot/mirror/ps3publictools.git/
10 points by tibbon 2 days ago 1 reply      
I do wish there was someone with Sony's PoV here to try to explain to us their rationale and how they hope to actually win this battle overall- as they can't really imagine that they can make the information go away with lawsuits.
13 points by riffraff 1 day ago 0 replies      
time to get a PS3 master key t-shirt!
10 points by michaelty 2 days ago 3 replies      
The blink tag was a nice touch.
10 points by aces 2 days ago 0 replies      
This should be called "How to be a real man", by Professor Touretzky.
7 points by david2777 2 days ago 2 replies      
Oddly enough on Geohot's site and the professor's mirror it states "do not mirror file, link to geohot.com".
7 points by tpr1m 2 days ago 0 replies      
Mirroring rocks! A point-and-click guarantee of defeating censorship.
2 points by lhnz 1 day ago 0 replies      
Anybody else find it really funny that a guy called 'touretzky' is threatening Sony. Just me? Oh.
4 points by sever 2 days ago 1 reply      
This is awesome.

I remember DeCSS, my favorite was people getting tattoos of the source code.

2 points by imkevingao 2 days ago 2 replies      
There's no point of dedicating resource on fighting freedom of speech. Sony just has to shift strategic position. I mean you don't see Microsoft and Apple whining about it. I know that Sony has dedicated A LOT of money on each individual PS3 console, but they knew this day would come. Instead of trying to sue and put restrictions on the first amendment, they should learn how to make money with a hacked system.
1 point by Jayasimhan 1 day ago 0 replies      
This is so F'ing awesome! I was feeling bad for the hackers. This news made my day.
1 point by ddkrone 1 day ago 0 replies      
Google Removing H.264 Support in Chrome chromium.org
569 points by spaetzel 3 days ago   348 comments top 55
52 points by spoondan 3 days ago 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.

155 points by bonaldi 3 days 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.

64 points by bphogan 3 days 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.

24 points by jdub 3 days 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 3 days 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

25 points by app 3 days 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.
32 points by guywithabike 3 days 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.

19 points by davidedicillo 3 days 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.
14 points by drivebyacct2 3 days 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"

45 points by kellysutton 3 days 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.
17 points by buster 3 days 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.

12 points by jerhinesmith 3 days 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.

23 points by cdeutsch 3 days 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.

3 points by zppx 3 days 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.

18 points by bretthopper 3 days ago 1 reply      
This makes <video> about as useful as <audio> now.
11 points by Charuru 3 days 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.

1 point by jwr 2 days 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.

6 points by sbollepalli 3 days 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 3 days 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.

12 points by dev_jim 3 days 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.
4 points by makeramen 3 days 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.
7 points by teye 3 days ago 0 replies      
Don't like it? Branch Chromium and retain H.264 support.

First customer here.

5 points by mapgrep 3 days ago 3 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?

5 points by mbreese 3 days 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 3 days ago 1 reply      
So are we going to get third party Chrome distributions that backport the missing H.264 functionality?
8 points by OpieCunningham 3 days ago 1 reply      
So H.264 isn't "open web" ... but Flash is?

Google has such an arbitrary definition of open.

9 points by spaetzel 3 days 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.
6 points by dmaz 3 days 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 necro 3 days 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.

3 points by emehrkay 3 days 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
1 point by ck2 3 days 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.

1 point by CountSessine 3 days 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...?

3 points by ot 3 days 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 fleitz 3 days ago 1 reply      
Phone me when Youtube only supports WebM, this is just a PR stand.
2 points by mryall 3 days 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 natmaster 3 days ago 1 reply      
Looks like Mozilla wins this one.
2 points by gaiusparx 3 days 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.
1 point by pohl 2 days ago 0 replies      
Does anybody know if it is possible to disable Chrome's automatic updates so that one can pin their version of chrome to the last release that supported H.264?

Edit: found it...

   defaults write com.google.Keystone.Agent checkInterval 0

1 point by joakin 2 days 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

2 points by timc3 3 days 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).

1 point by willheim 3 days 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).

2 points by davej 2 days ago 0 replies      
1 point by pedanticfreak 3 days 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.
3 points by knodi 3 days ago 0 replies      
O great now its back to flash.

Pretty shitty move by google.

2 points by hamedh 3 days 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 3 days ago 0 replies      
Long live Flash video?
1 point by jawee 3 days 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?)
1 point by upinsmoke 3 days 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 3 days 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 3 days ago 0 replies      
This is a great move...

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

0 points by dstein 3 days 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".
1 point by joelhousman 2 days 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 jcarreiro 3 days ago 1 reply      
Just switched back to Safari.

Sorry google, but I own an iPad. :(

1 point by brackin 2 days ago 0 replies      
This is very annoying their player is already terrible.
-1 point by scrod 3 days ago 0 replies      
Bye bye, Google Chrome. This is me deleting you from my Mac.
Steve's story - Google employee #13 googler13.blogspot.com
431 points by paul 5 days ago   89 comments top 19
31 points by dools 5 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.

46 points by nostrademons 5 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 5 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 5 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 5 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 5 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 5 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 blr_hack 4 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 ...:)

1 point by dstein 5 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.
2 points by shawnee_ 5 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 5 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 4 days 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 4 days ago 0 replies      
"I left shortly after IPO to pursue other interests."


1 point by azrealus 5 days ago 0 replies      
awesome and inspiring story. thank you for sharing.
1 point by ashbrahma 5 days ago 0 replies      
What does he do now?
1 point by pcampbell 4 days ago 0 replies      
miracles favor the bold.
1 point by lken 4 days ago 0 replies      
this guy sounds like a barnacle. good for him though.
-2 points by chopsueyar 5 days ago 0 replies      
How much did he cash out for?
-4 points by tedjdziuba 5 days ago 0 replies      
Cool story, bro.
For what are the Windows A:\ and B:\ drives used? superuser.com
406 points by fakelvis 2 days ago   262 comments top 58
42 points by raganwald 2 days ago 5 replies      
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.

38 points by RyanMcGreal 2 days ago 6 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.

42 points by RiderOfGiraffes 2 days ago 8 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:


141 points by giu 2 days ago replies      
This question makes me feel old. And I'm in my early twenties.
40 points by benwerd 2 days ago 6 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.
16 points by erikstarck 2 days 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!

32 points by redthrowaway 2 days 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?
25 points by iwwr 2 days 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.
17 points by Unosolo 2 days ago 1 reply      
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.......

3 points by edw519 2 days ago 0 replies      
The possibilities are endless (27 second video)...


4 points by haberman 2 days ago 1 reply      
When I was learning DOS on my dad's computer at work (IBM XT), I knew how to use the "cd" command to change into a directory. Unfortunately I didn't know how to get back out of a directory ("cd \") so I would restart the computer whenever I needed to get back to the root directory.

Ah, those were the days.

16 points by Steve0 2 days ago 4 replies      
Makes you wonder, when will the floppy be discarded as the icon for 'save'?
5 points by maxklein 2 days ago 2 replies      
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.
4 points by snorkel 2 days ago 2 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!
2 points by motters 2 days 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.

5 points by michael_dorfman 2 days 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.

3 points by othello 2 days 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...
3 points by bane 2 days 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 ck2 2 days 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).

14 points by jaywalker 2 days ago 0 replies      
Best comment: I never anticipated this day would ever come....
2 points by forinti 2 days ago 1 reply      
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.

3 points by bhavin 2 days 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

3 points by rick_2047 2 days 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?

1 point by wallflower 2 days ago 0 replies      
Also, not everyone was cool enough to have both A: and B:

And tape drives transfer speeds were 300? baud. Most people can read way faster and some can type faster.

I have many memories of working late in school labs, feeling that awful feeling when the sky outside gets light as it literally dawns on you you've been there all night, making backups on multiple floppy disks as you go...Bathed in the fluorescents

2 points by didip 2 days ago 0 replies      
Back in the floppy days, archive tools matter because it can cut down the number of disks.

Cannot believe I still remember my old favorite: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ARJ

Screw pkzip. It always asked me to insert the first disk, again, last.

1 point by nhebb 2 days ago 0 replies      
I just realized that I have a bunch of old 3.5" discs in my desk - even though I don't have a single system with a floppy drive anymore. I just cleared out a bunch of space in my hutch. Thanks HN!
3 points by EGreg 2 days ago 2 replies      
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?

1 point by runjake 2 days ago 1 reply      
The Timex-Sinclair 1000 was like my 3rd or 4th computer. End of contest (hopefully all the real PDP folks are long dead, right?).


2K RAM, 3 MHZ CPU (much faster than the .9 MHZ of my TRS-80 Color Computer. Yes, it didn't even have 1 MHZ).
And yes, I did a lot of programming on that keyboard.

1 point by radioactive21 2 days ago 0 replies      
You know what actually amazes me these days. I once had to explain this exact same question to someone and they were very interested in the answer.

I remember back in the old days when I would bring up anything tech I got called a nerd and/or geek and it was the kind stuff you dont talk to normal people about.

I got made fun of by people for talking about IRC channels and being on internet boards, back when they were command line.

The weirdest change for me as been the acceptance of knowing about technology. Today if you dont know what the interent or a computer is you are consider old and out of date. Back then if you knew that stuff you were an outcast.

3 points by bnastic 2 days 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.

2 points by jeza 2 days 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 Maro 2 days 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 =)
2 points by codeup 2 days ago 2 replies      
Knowing the answer and feeling somewhat nostalgic about it makes me feel old!
1 point by maguay 2 days 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 lovskogen 2 days ago 0 replies      
How long before a question like "My DVD wont play in this old computers DVD player?"?
2 points by lesterbuck 2 days 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 skbohra123 2 days ago 0 replies      
Never, this would happen again that one technology/company would have such huge effect.
1 point by mkramlich 1 day ago 0 replies      
That's one of those questions that makes a guy feel old. I also remember 8" floppy disks first-hand. I was a kid, but still.
1 point by retube 2 days 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 antidaily 2 days ago 0 replies      
Jeff Atwood tweeted this yesterday with the comment "want to feel old?"
2 points by tintin 2 days 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.
2 points by hackermom 2 days ago 0 replies      
This gave me a good laughter, and I'm only 30.
2 points by rman666 2 days 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 rogerclark 2 days ago 0 replies      
This guy obviously wrote this question to provoke this exact response from people. He's duped all of you into obsessing over nostalgia and thinking/saying you've got a leg up on "today's youngsters."

Nobody who asks this question would need to go to a StackOverflow site to get it answered.

1 point by beej71 2 days ago 0 replies      
It's the same reason there's no Channel 1 on TV.
1 point by marckremers 2 days ago 0 replies      
The fact that Windows still keeps this hierarchy is what stuns me the most. Why are they still silently referring to this technology in 2011?! It just boggles my mind. It's almost like keeping your floppy disks in your top drawer even though you haven't used them for 15 years. And won't. Ever.
1 point by jadedoto 2 days 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 :)
1 point by el_chapitan 2 days 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.


3 points by nevvermind 2 days 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 makeramen 2 days ago 0 replies      
NUMBER MUNCHERS! i miss that game
1 point by flexd 2 days 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!
1 point by isomorph 2 days ago 0 replies      
In the style of one of those YouTube comments, "I'm 19 and I have used a floppy disk!!"
1 point by radioactive21 2 days ago 0 replies      
Good times, I used to install windows 95 with 20 floppy disks!!!
1 point by sbt 2 days ago 0 replies      
Now I just feel old
1 point by jakemcgraw 1 day ago 0 replies      
When I installed Windows 95, it was off of 14 floppy disks, feels good man.
1 point by run4yourlives 2 days ago 0 replies      
I feel so old.
1 point by jaspero 2 days ago 0 replies      
3.5" HD Floppies were awesome compared to non-HD.
1 point by elevenE 1 day ago 0 replies      
I'm in my late teens. Makes me feel old too :)
MIT OpenCourseWare introduces courses designed for independent learners mit.edu
354 points by ashwinl 1 day ago   38 comments top 11
43 points by thebigredjay 1 day ago 5 replies      
As a young autodidact struggling to fit into the traditional education world this is a welcome gift. To me a traditional diploma granting institution is now akin to a rubber stamp. You're not paying for the education, you're paying for the brand under the assumption that it will get you a job. I could rant, but I plan on doing it in a cohesive and informed blog release or something at a later date.

MIT diffuses my cynicism with steps like this. In an academic system I do not trust there are clearly intelligent like minded people enabled to make a difference. After years of dreading my involvement with academia, movements like this make me want to wander back in with an open mind.

If anyone involved with MIT OpenCourseWare ever reads this please know that I respect and appreciate what you have done for people thirsty for knowledge. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

4 points by maeon3 1 day ago 0 replies      
8.01 Physics I: Classical Mechanics is Amazing. Walter Lewin makes the bizarre properties and mysteries of the universe come alive in the classroom.


6 points by brudgers 1 day ago 0 replies      
Bill Gates has predicted that the best higher education will come from the web and will be cheaper - this is just another step. [Article: http://techcrunch.com/2010/08/06/bill-gates-education/ Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p2Qg80MVvYs&feature=playe...]

In the same vein as MIT, UC Berkeley has many lectures on availble on Youtube. [http://www.youtube.com/user/UCBerkeley]

36 points by ernestipark 1 day ago 0 replies      
I didn't realize OCW was meant for teachers... I thought it was for independent learners all along.
3 points by kmfrk 1 day ago 4 replies      
Great to see that MIT are addressing the most important problem with OCW: organizing the knowledge intelligibly.

I'm currently having fun with their introduction to programming that uses Python: http://ocw.mit.edu/courses/electrical-engineering-and-comput.... (Get the lectures on iTunes U.)

Granted, I don't know if that's the best gateway drug to programming, but it has the irrefutable advantage of assignments that apply the information. You always feel morose watching OCW lectures where the lecturer talks about an assignment that you'd love to do.

6 points by sruffell 1 day ago 1 reply      
The first thought that popped into my mind from reading this was when is there going to be a bachelor's equivalency exam? Perhaps a new potential market for the ETS?
5 points by nickpinkston 1 day ago 4 replies      
Khan giving them a bit of scare? I bet...
4 points by hashbrown7 1 day ago 0 replies      
This is great news! In most cases the materials on offer were sparse, but an initiative like this will make it really useful both for autodidacts and instructors looking for materials.
1 point by kaylarose 12 hours ago 0 replies      
Already posted this in longer form as a reply [1], but the UC Berkeley CS courses that are available online are really great, and you can usually find ALL the material for the course online.

If you want to learn Scheme (Lisp), I highly recommend CS61A [2]

[1] http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=2103949
[2] http://www-inst.eecs.berkeley.edu/~cs61a/su10/ Lectures on iTunesU

0 points by alextp 16 hours ago 0 replies      
I've always been an independent learner, so I think this is great, but the concept of a "course for independent learners" sounds a lot like herding cats.
2 points by chopsueyar 16 hours ago 0 replies      
This is a fantasy come true.
Google's dropping H.264 in Chrome is not a step backward for openness. opera.com
295 points by martythemaniak 1 day ago   123 comments top 15
21 points by cletus 1 day ago 4 replies      
This is a weak article.

> It's called bait and switch.

Not really. If anything, it's the eventual use of market power for profiteering.

> But it would become another closed de facto standard, just like IE6.

Huh? IE6 is a browser not a standard.

> This is comparing apples and oranges. Flash is a plugin,

This is splitting hairs and a straw man. The user does not care or typically doesn't differentiate between something that's part of the browser and something that is a bundled plug-in. The user experience is basically the same.

So any argument using a criteria about building in a proprietary and closed standard to the browser versus bundling a proprietary and closed plug-in is at somewhere between fatuous and disingenuous.

> If you want to do any kind of video on the web, you don't have a choice. Flash is needed.

WRONG. Bizarrely wrong in fact since we're arguing about the HTML5 container for video and supported codecs. Flash isn't involved. This isn't vapourware either. Modern browsers already support it.

> it is much more likely that an open format will prevail in the end.

If there are two dominant standards, sites will be faced with a choice: double-encode everything or pick one. Many have already picked H.264. What's more likely? Double-encoding or simply delivering H.264 to Chrome via a Flash (rather than HTML5) container?

If anything, this move prolongs the existence of Flash.

> Just because a format is widespread offline does not mean that it is suitable for use on the web.

Is the author really suggesting H.264 a) isn't widespread on the Web and/or b) isn't suitable for use on the Web? Really?

> In other words: The processing will always be there, and instead of re-processing to a slightly more compressed H.264 file for online play, it can be converted to an open format.

If the author thinks this move will displace H.264 they are sadly mistaken. For one, the license fees for using H.264 are negligible for the largest players. For another, there is an enormous installed base of devices with hardware H.264 decoding. Hundreds of millions in fact, most notably the various Apple iDevices.

These provide a compelling use for the continued use of H.264 in the long term.

> As already explained, videos are typically re-encoded or processed in some way anyway.

Yes but double the processing and double the storage are real issues.

> Notice the word "plugin". It means that we're basically removing HTML5 video, and returning to plugins. All the benefits of native video disappear just like that

What benefits are those exactly? At least for now the user experience, HTML5 video is still playing catch up to Flash video in terms of user experience.

> If I am not mistaken, the share of open standards based browsers is growing at the expense of Internet Explorer.

Worst case for IE is still about ~50%. That still makes it the single largest browser. Chrome's share exceeds Safari's (AFAIK) but the latter is still significant and I can't imagine it getting WebM support anytime soon. Apple are very much wedded to H.264 support by virtue of their devices if nothing else (anecdote: I played 6 hours of video on a plane on my iPad using 10% of the battery).

> it is H.264 which takes away choice.

By definition, not giving someone a choice takes away choices.

All of the arguments for this move seem to be focused on the long term. That's fine but in the short term it will unarguably cause users and sites headaches.

> I also find it puzzling that Google is being accused of giving users fewer choices, while Microsoft and Apple aren't even mentioned.

Hold yourself to a higher standard (and, more importantly, preach those standards to others) and you will be the recipient of greater scrutiny.

At best, the author's argument descends to "two wrongs make a right".

Note: I'm saying arguing in favour of Flash. In fact, I consider the lack of Flash on my iDevices to be a feature rather than a limitation.

Ironically this moves will likely prolong Flash and slow the adoption of HTML5 as a result.

42 points by mikeryan 1 day ago replies      
This is a pretty poor rebuttal to what was actually a fairly well written (like it's opinion or not) article by Ars. Ars fairly clearly delineated the difference between "open standards" and "open/free to use" and this one mixes them up continuously

This statement "Indeed, most sites offer different bandwidth options and video sizes. They are already converting the video!" shows a pretty clear lack of understanding on how most site's encoding processes work (you generally encode once at different bitrates, not once at one and others as you need them)

12 points by recoiledsnake 1 day ago 3 replies      
>I also find it puzzling that Google is being accused of giving users fewer choices, while Microsoft and Apple aren't even mentioned. They refuse to support WebM, after all.

Err, Microsoft has already declared that WebM will be supported if a compatible plugin codec is installed on the machine. They just don't want patent trolls (successfully) suing them for shipping hundreds of WebM decoders. After all, Google is not indemnifying users of WebM from patents(like Android OEMs like HTC were left on their own when Apple decided to sued) like Microsoft does with Windows Phone 7.

Opera is being disingenuous by spinning this as if Microsoft blocks WebM from being used in IE9 for the HTML5 video tag.

14 points by grayrest 1 day ago 2 replies      
All the outcry over this I've read is basically a complaint that you can't ship one codec for HTML5 video, which you've never been able to do. That's what the whole argument over the video tag has always been about.

The only difference this makes is that this cements the split instead of everybody expecting Firefox and Opera to give up and adopt H.264. If you were willing to ship just H.264 and flash fallback for Firefox/Opera, why wouldn't you be willing to ship H.264 and flash fallback for Chrome?

5 points by Entlin 1 day ago 3 replies      
You know what we actually need? A h.264-buyout. Let's ask MPEG-LA how much they are planning to earn by the time their licence runs out (2024?). It will probably be ~200 Million or so. Then ask the whole internet to chip in.

Result: all the open source people are happy, and we all get to use the higher quality codec in any application we can imagine. And we also get to keep our devices with their battery efficient dedicated h.264-decompression chips.

4 points by prewett 1 day ago 0 replies      
I'm kind of curious... It seems like the MPEG-LA is doing great work by creating all these video and audio compression codecs. MP3 is used by everybody, MPEG2 was good for the day, and now H.264 is even better. Plus, nobody else seems to be coming up with something compelling. Sure, there's WebM and VP8, but if I recall correctly, they are, at best, at parity with H.264. It seems like here's a good case of patents being useful: the MPEG people do research and create great codecs and we all pay them a $1 (or something) in licensing fees so we get small video. I'm all for open standards and free and Free software, but it seems like H.264 is a net will, compared to what we'd have without it. (Remember the days of huge .wav files and electronic .mod files before MP3 came out?)
2 points by asnyder 1 day ago 1 reply      
I'm actually curious about the differences in the formats. Is H.264 a better format? If so, does that mean that the web will always choose "free" over quality, if so, is there any incentive to create better embedded technologies, if a "free" albeit technically worse "knockoff" is available regardless of how open the other tech is, simply because it wants to be compensated when used by commercial entities that plan to profit off their work. For example, if they had non-commercial, GPLv2 and commercial licensing options.
2 points by bbuffone 1 day ago 0 replies      
This line here creeps me out ->

"The market share of browsers that support H.264 exceeds WebM capable browsers"

Google's online advertising monopoly is working on overdrive to ensure that won't happen.

1 point by pedanticfreak 20 hours ago 0 replies      
Chrome is 100% compliant without extraneous h264 support. The HTML5 spec contains no requirement for h264. If you want to blame anyone then blame the W3C working group for not specifying a codec.

As of now h264 is on the same level as ActiveX and VBScript so you might as well ask for Chrome to support those, too.

Granted, in this respect WebM is not perfect either. But at least WebM is meets the criteria to be a part of the W3C spec without modification whereas currently h264 does not.

tl;dr Don't complain if Chrome uses WebM for <video>. My browser will only support Dirac and we're both right.

1 point by juiceandjuice 1 day ago 1 reply      
The main problem with WebM/VP8 vs. H.264, especially in the face of the mobile internet device explosion, is hardware acceleration.

Once devices start coming with native WebM acceleration, it won't be an issue. Given that Android is so popular and Google is looking to abandon H.264, it's inevitable that hardware acceleration will come to phones, probably in conjunction with H.264 acceleration (just like H.264 and H.263 right now) At that point, any ARM platform with a H.264 acceleration will include a WebM acceleration, and it would be more than trivial for Apple/Microsoft/whoever to implement WebM in their mobile browsers.

A more interesting day will be when Google says "Android 3.x phones must have WebM acceleration"

1 point by brisance 1 day ago 0 replies      
What about video support for existing Android devices? AFAIK WebM is only available for Gingerbread, which means the large majority of Android devices would have to fall back on Flash for Android. And that's not fully-baked yet.

I can't see why this won't be turned into a lawsuit w.r.t. intentional degradation of performance/battery life.

7 points by eddanger 1 day ago 1 reply      
As a rant this was mediocre, as a rebuttal this was lame.
2 points by Derbasti 19 hours ago 1 reply      
Quite simply, what most people are missing here is that Chrome is removing H.264. How does removing a capability of a browser enhance its capabilities?

Its nice that they add WebM, but there is just no practical reason for removing H.264.

1 point by Timmy_C 1 day ago 0 replies      
I like his point that the core of the debate should really be about choice. But then he lost me when he characterized the MPEG-LA as a ruthless cartel.
-2 points by eddieplan9 1 day ago 0 replies      
If Google is truly whole-heartedly after the openness of web video, they should go ahead and disable H.264 playback in the bundled flash plugin in Chrome. It's technically just a simple wrap around the stock flash plugin. Given their cozy relationship with Adobe, they might even get a special binary from adobe, cut down the download size of Chrome and save bandwidth cost (which I believe is a greater saving than the $6.5 million)!
Learning Advanced JavaScript ejohn.org
292 points by shawndumas 4 days ago   31 comments top 13
16 points by rauljara 4 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 4 days ago 0 replies      
Previous discussion for reference:


10 points by andreyf 4 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/

5 points by rudenoise 4 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.

4 points by onteria 4 days ago 0 replies      
For those really wanting to learn JavaScript, I also recommend reading the Ecma 262 standard it is based upon:


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


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


2 points by endtime 4 days ago 0 replies      
I didn't know about function.length; the function overloading trick in the last section is pretty clever.
3 points by ez77 4 days ago 4 replies      
A bit off topic: what is your interactive JS sandbox? (Firebug, Chrome console, Rhino... ?)
2 points by joakin 4 days 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 steilpass 3 days ago 0 replies      
I highly recommend
"Test-Driven JavaScript Development" http://tddjs.com/ for learning JavaScript. Because it involves actual coding.
2 points by MichaelGlass 3 days 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.

1 point by iamuzer 4 days 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 4 days 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 4 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
268 points by phsr 3 days ago   130 comments top 45
92 points by danilocampos 3 days 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 3 days ago 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 3 days 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.

14 points by wccrawford 3 days 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.

8 points by gaius 3 days 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"!

1 point by jdietrich 2 days 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.

7 points by iuguy 3 days 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 3 days 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?

12 points by rgbrgb 3 days 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!

2 points by dools 3 days 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.

10 points by achompas 3 days 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 3 days 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 3 days 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 3 days 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 3 days 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 mixmax 3 days 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.

2 points by redstripe 3 days 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.

4 points by raganwald 3 days ago 1 reply      
Don't try to win over haters. You're not the Jackass Whisperer. --Scott Stratten
5 points by liamk 3 days 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.
8 points by molecule 3 days ago 1 reply      
There are many places, and one is right here:


2 points by davidedicillo 3 days 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.
1 point by rmorrison 3 days 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
3 points by frankc 3 days 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.

1 point by rlmw 3 days 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 bane 3 days 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 3 days 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 3 days ago 0 replies      
From the comments there... DHH shitting on the app store http://bigthink.com/ideas/21603
2 points by Tycho 3 days 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.
4 points by dev_jim 3 days 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 3 days 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 jarin 3 days 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.
2 points by BlazingFrog 3 days 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 3 days 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 3 days 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 othello 3 days 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 d_r 3 days ago 0 replies      
Funny enough, if 37signals have never written this post criticizing RTFHIG, I would have never heard of RTFHIG. Kudos to 37signals.
1 point by timruffles 3 days 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?'

2 points by tedroden 3 days 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 reason 3 days 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 3 days 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 3 days 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 3 days 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 3 days ago 0 replies      
Precious fusspot
1 point by haecib 3 days 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 3 days ago 0 replies      
A Localization Horror Story: It Could Happen To You cpan.org
259 points by gspyrou 2 days ago   66 comments top 26
27 points by jwr 2 days ago 3 replies      
That is a very good article.

One architectural takeaway suggestion I've learned over the years, which is not obvious when reading that article:

"You should not assume that you can generate any part of any string visible to the user without the full context."

Whenever you design a localizable application, it isn't enough to provide a string that can be translated. You have to allow for delegation to the most specific piece of code dealing with the string, because only that piece of code will have the appropriate context to properly produce the string.

This means your code can't just assume it can generate strings somewhere deep inside the guts of a library. The programmer writing the final application that uses your library needs to be able to generate/override those strings on a per-case basis in the actual code that displays them to the user. The strings might be different between two UI windows.

Trust me, I know. I'm Polish. Few languages are as insane as my native tongue. If you don't believe me, take a peek at this concise 252-pages long introduction to Polish numerals: http://www.amazon.com/Liczebnik-grammar-numerals-exercises-l...

23 points by patio11 2 days ago 2 replies      
My previous company produced a guide to internationalization/localization/etc for engineers (this is kinda helpful to have when a mixed team of Japanese, Koreans, Chinese, Indians, and one very out of place white guy are trying to make multilingual software on top of business processes not designed with diverse client populations in mind).

The guide was somewhat whimsically named bluepill.doc and subtitled Welcome To The Real World. You have no idea how deep this rabbit hole gets. I did this for years and I am regularly surprised by novel, hard problems. It is like security. (It even intersects with security sometimes: since approximately no application developers actually understand encoding issues, there are virtually boundless classes of vulnerabilities arising from their (mis)understandings not matching technical reality.)

(I only found out later that the blue pill was the escape-back-into-comfortable-fantasy option. Whoopsie.)

12 points by neilk 2 days ago 0 replies      
MediaWiki is one of those websites that is translated into nearly every language known to humans, and it has a pretty elegant system for this. Not perfect, but good enough for almost anything. You can get away with minimal markup in the lexicon this way:

* In the code, messages are specified abstractly, e.g.

   print getMessage('found_x_files_in_x_dirs', $fileCount, $dirCount);

* Languages each have their own class with a 'convertPlural' function that maps the quantity to the forms. So in english, that function might be simple, for Arabic, it's complex: http://svn.wikimedia.org/svnroot/mediawiki/trunk/phase3/lang...

* Lexicons use a simple wiki markup to define the different forms of their language. To illustrate that the arguments don't have to be used in order, I did it in the reverse of how the code passes arguments.

    'found_x_files_in_x_dirs' => 
"I searched $2 {{PLURAL:$2|directory|directories}}
and found $1 {{PLURAL:$1|file|files}}"

So for a language like Arabic you write a similar pipe-delimited list of forms. You just have to know how to lay down the six different forms in the order that LanguageAr.php defined.

Note how this side-steps most (but not all) complicating issues like case or gender, so you don't have to mark it that way in the lexicon. If the word is used in the feminine gender, accusative case plural in the sentence, that's what the translator writes.

All this is mediated with the amazing http://translatewiki.net/ website, run mostly by volunteers.

7 points by Nitramp 2 days ago 2 replies      
His advice of thinking of phrases as functions is spot on. However I think he's missing the easiest way of formulating solutions that would be usable by many translators/linguists: pattern matching.

Imagine your phrase/function is called:

"Found %n1 matching files in %n2 directories"

You could pattern match for one particular language like this:

  %n1 == 0, %n2 == 0
%n1 == 1, %n2 == 1
%n1 > 1, %n2 == 1
... and so on ...

With the matching being any (simple?) boolean function of the operator, applied in order. At the point where this becomes too cumbersome, you could fall back to proper code. I bet that this would be much easier to use for translators, with an optional fallback to a programmer if it gets too complex to spell out all combinations.

21 points by thomas11 2 days ago 0 replies      
A detailed, insightful and well-written article on the pitfalls and complications of internationalization in software, written by two linguists. Very good read, independent of Perl.
7 points by johkra 2 days ago 0 replies      
Gettext [1] does actually offer a way around this problem, which works fairly well in practice.

You can define the number of plurals and rules to select a plural case. Then you have as many translations as plural forms in your translation (po) file.

Arabic for instance has 6 plural cases with the following rules [2]:

  nplurals=6; plural= n==0 ? 0 : n==1 ? 1 : n==2 ? 2 : n%100>=3 && n%100<=10 ? 3 : n%100>=11 ? 4 : 5;

See also http://wiki.amule.org/index.php/Translations#Plural_forms for an example of both a rule and the resulting code in the po file.

[1] http://www.gnu.org/software/gettext/manual/gettext.html#Plur...
[2] http://translate.sourceforge.net/wiki/l10n/pluralforms

6 points by mootothemax 2 days ago 3 replies      
This is why I'm scared to localize any of my applications. I'm in a good position where one of my web apps is used by lots of South Americans and Spanish people, and a couple of users have offered to translate it for free into their local tongue. Which is great... but I'm terrified about the potential amount of work when it comes to "You have X [nouns] set up" in table headings and the like.
8 points by metabrew 2 days ago 2 replies      
At Last.fm we used PHP+Smarty with a gettext-esque pre-compilation step (a bit like IntSmarty) for templates that allowed translators to embed smarty templating code, so you could write this in smarty:

  {l}Found {$d} directories{/l}

and the replacement for each language could have its own switch on $d to decide how to translate it.

One (unavoidable?) downside is that the translators have to know some basic if/then/smarty syntax, and if they mess it up your template won't compile. Also you have to trust them somewhat, since they essentially get to execute PHP on your webserver.

10 points by revorad 2 days ago 2 replies      
I'd take the easy route:

printf("Directories scanned: %g", $directory_count);

1 point by gregwebs 8 hours ago 0 replies      
Here is a one possible solution: using a grammer
3 points by JabavuAdams 2 days ago 0 replies      
And then you realize that your shiny custom font rendering assumes left-to-right and also that subsequent characters don't modify preceding character glyphs (cursive font).
3 points by stretchwithme 2 days ago 0 replies      
Its amazing how many different ways to do something there can be, even when it may seem initially that the way you've been taught is the only possible one. The something in this case being language.

Which is one reason to speak or code in more than one language.

2 points by Vivtek 2 days ago 0 replies      
And this is to say nothing of the near impossibility of finding a commercial translator who would know even simple Perl.

Dammit, there has got to be a way for me to make money there.

3 points by arethuza 2 days ago 1 reply      
One of the things that makes large ERP systems so complex is that these localization requirements also apply to business rules (e.g. for tax, payroll, even some rather basic accounting processes).
1 point by speleding 2 days ago 0 replies      
It's a very good article. One thing that has bitten me while doing localization is the programmer instinct to reuse code as much as possible. If you have ten buttons labeled "Save" then you only need one translation for it, right? Wrong! After you have had to go back through the code and split out all those "Save" labels into different contexts the lesson is ingrained...
1 point by cpeterso 1 day ago 0 replies      
Localizing games is even more complicated. User applications typically "talk" to the user, but games also have a variety characters speaking to each other. And in MMO/sandbox games, you may not be able to anticipate which characters will be conversing. Localizing inter-character conversations also introduces pronouns, which are not often used for user applications.

Game translators need to know all sorts of metadata about the speaker and listener characters' "social context", such as gender, age, and "honor". Is the old king speaking to a young peasant girl or an entire village? Is the young prince speaking to an old peasant woman or to his old grandmother? Is the grandmother speaking to her son, who happens to be the king?

2 points by weavejester 2 days ago 0 replies      
I'm rather of the opinion that the translations should be sandboxed scripts, rather than strings.
2 points by ajithvl 2 days ago 0 replies      
i have been using grasshopper [1] for some project & it already allows having function is translations.
it was nice to see a framework in a young ecosystem like node.js which can already handle this :)


1 point by jhrobert 2 days ago 0 replies      

seach result: directory: NN, file: NN.

as in "search result: directory: 1, file: 0." or "search result: directory: 4, file: 23."

ie: nouns only, singular form, no verbs, no plural, etc....

Sure, it does not look "good" but its probably much more easy to translate.

Worse is better

1 point by DenisM 2 days ago 0 replies      
So the answer is to have translators write perl? Really?

Is this the best we, as an industry, can do?

1 point by bromley 2 days ago 1 reply      
Ouch, languages are complicated. Two simple solutions that I think might work for a small packaged-software company like mine:

1. Just don't bother internationalizing. I think that's often not a bad solution for small software businesses anyway. It's not much use making a software package that works in French/German/Russian/Chinese/Swahili unless you have the language skills or partnerships to sell and support the software in those languages as well.

2. Design the software such that messages are whole sentences or phrases that stand alone and can be translated one-to-one. Nothing fancy like the %g type stuff for number inserts. Keep it simple stupid.

2 points by frankc 2 days ago 0 replies      
Not always appropriate, but what about simply not using proper sentances. What would be the implications of using this kind of form:

Directories scanned: %g

Files found: %g, Directories with files: %g

1 point by wlievens 2 days ago 0 replies      
In Java, I would use FreeMarker as template language for all sorts of things, including i18n, rather than the typical sprintf-like syntax, because FM templates can contain arbitrary complex code, but the simple template cases work too.
1 point by ajithvl 2 days ago 0 replies      
i have been using grasshopper[1] for some project & it already allows having function is translations.
it was nice to see a fw in a young ecosystem like node.js which can already handle this :)


-4 points by Tichy 2 days ago 1 reply      
Couldn't read it all. I guess the takeaway is that the localization system needs to be scriptable somehow, templates of the form "bla bla %1" are not sufficient.
-4 points by locopati 2 days ago 1 reply      
For just this situation, Java offers the MessageFormat (and the ChoiceFormat refinement)

"There {0,choice,0#are no files|1#is one file|1<are {0,number,integer} files}.");


Why Chinese Mothers are Not Superior (from a female Chinese engineer) jeanhsu.com
256 points by cristinacordova 4 days ago   201 comments top 40
70 points by klenwell 4 days 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 3 days 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 3 days 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.

12 points by yardie 3 days 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 4 days 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 4 days 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 3 days 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.
29 points by jzycrzy 3 days 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.

16 points by jamesli 3 days 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.

32 points by jasonyyun 4 days 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 4 days 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 3 days 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 3 days 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.

11 points by tastybites 4 days 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 3 days ago 1 reply      
Another "strict parents" story, also coincidentally Asian: http://www.asiacarrera.com/bio2.html
4 points by stcredzero 3 days 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.

3 points by mbubb 3 days 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.

7 points by patrickgzill 4 days 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 4 days 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 3 days 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 3 days 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 3 days 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

4 points by nsoonhui 4 days 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.

2 points by jchonphoenix 3 days 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.

4 points by dheerosaur 3 days 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 Quarrelsome 3 days 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 3 days 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?

3 points by toblender 3 days 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.

3 points by arethuza 3 days 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.

3 points by qiqiyan 3 days 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 hristov 4 days 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.
1 point by kenjackson 4 days 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.

1 point by danielrhodes 3 days 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.
4 points by ernestipark 4 days 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 queensnake 1 day ago 0 replies      
Best retort I've seen, of this:


1 point by DisposaBoy 3 days 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 3 days ago 0 replies      
1 point by p90x 3 days 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 4 days ago 0 replies      
Excellent response. Well balanced and honest.
-4 points by toephu 4 days 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.
Spray-on liquid glass is about to revolutionize almost everything physorg.com
241 points by morganpyne 1 day ago   131 comments top 30
69 points by ryanwaggoner 1 day ago 4 replies      
This seems like the kind of report they'd show as a flashback in a post-apocalyptic film :)
45 points by steveklabnik 1 day ago 1 reply      
> February 2, 2010

Yep. The year of spray-on liquid glass on the desktop!

( Previously: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=1092741 )

19 points by qq66 1 day ago 2 replies      
Whenever they claim that something will revolutionize everything, it ends up in disappointment.

The things that actually do revolutionize everything are usually pooh-poohed at the beginning ("Another search engine?")

11 points by jjcm 1 day ago 2 replies      
What if it flakes off? How structurally stable is it? If a wide variety of things start using it, will it increase the risk of silicosis (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Silicosis) when using these products?
6 points by radicaldreamer 1 day ago 3 replies      
Yawn... I always see claims like this made about almost every new advance in materials science, but I hardly ever see these products reach the market.
5 points by juiceandjuice 1 day ago 2 replies      
The lack of understanding about possible cancerous effects of nano materials worries me, especially with stuff like this and "nanocosmetic" materials. I'd just hate to find out 20 years down the road that all of our miracle materials were slowly killing us.
13 points by jbri 1 day ago 1 reply      
Nanoscale silicon material with desireable physical properties?

Sounds a little asbestosy to me.

3 points by dools 1 day ago 0 replies      
Finally!! A prediction from "Back to the Future" comes true!! We can get rid of our pesky dust jackets off our books and have dust free paper!!
2 points by Eliezer 1 day ago 0 replies      
Every time I see the phrase "revolutionize everything" I want to find someone to take that bet with me at odds of no worse than 9-1.
3 points by callmeed 1 day ago 1 reply      
I wonder if using the word "glass" is a good idea.

I could see some public outcry when people hear that their hamburger and catheter has a "thin glass coating".

Perhaps it will have a brand name later ...

2 points by phlux 1 day ago 0 replies      
>Other outlets, such as many supermarkets, may be unwilling to stock the products because they make enormous profits from cleaning products that need to be replaced regularly, and liquid glass would make virtually all of them obsolete.

I dont get it, I ahve a glass sink and counter in my bathroom at home. I still have to clean them.

Every mirror I have ever had has been glass - I still windex them.

All my drinks at home are served to me in nothing but the finest crystal - I still have my help clean them.


2 points by ilitirit 17 hours ago 0 replies      
Spray-on liquid glass is about to revolutionize almost everything 11 months ago.
4 points by light3 1 day ago 0 replies      
It said in the article that they tested this on plants.. what happens when the fruit grow does the coating expand?
4 points by theklub 1 day ago 0 replies      
what company makes this and when can I invest?
1 point by mmaunder 1 day ago 0 replies      
Interesting demos of the tech:


1 point by conorgil145 1 day ago 2 replies      
The coating is environmentally harmless and non-toxic, and easy to clean using only water or a simple wipe with a damp cloth. It repels bacteria, water and dirt, and resists heat, UV light and even acids.

How can you use water to clean it if it repels water?

1 point by elptacek 1 day ago 1 reply      
What rolls down stairs? Alone or in pairs? What rolls over your neighbor's dog? Spray-on liquid glass!
3 points by webXL 1 day ago 1 reply      
yawn... Get back to me when you have transparent aluminum.
2 points by tjansen 19 hours ago 0 replies      
Seems like you can buy it in Germany since 2007 (www.dienanoexperten.eu / www.der-nano-shop.de). Never heard about it before, so I guess it can't be that revolutionary, but maybe I give it a try...
2 points by mike463 1 day ago 1 reply      
This isn't that new... I've always been told glass is already a liquid. :)
1 point by bsiemon 16 hours ago 0 replies      
Other outlets, such as many supermarkets, may be unwilling to stock the products because they make enormous profits from cleaning products that need to be replaced regularly, and liquid glass would make virtually all of them obsolete

Likely why the revolution has not arrived.

2 points by Tyrant505 1 day ago 2 replies      
Indeed, the possibilities of a spray with these properties are infinite. In spirit of hn, I imagine coating my mobo/cpu/gpu for safe and easy, fan-less, liquid cooling! Fill it up and maybe throw a jellyfish in there for good measure...
1 point by aik 1 day ago 0 replies      
It says it only lasts for about a year. What happens to it? Does it steadily degrade over time, or is it exponential towards the end?
1 point by fuzzythinker 1 day ago 0 replies      
Somewhat related -- Spray-on Solar cells:
1 point by astrofinch 20 hours ago 1 reply      
If everything is sterile, how will our immune systems get any practice?
1 point by aidenn0 1 day ago 0 replies      
Sounds like it would be useful to coat aramid composites, since many aramids decompose in UV
1 point by monkeypizza 22 hours ago 0 replies      
this looks like the stuff: (taobao link) http://item.taobao.com/item.htm?id=5777316505
1 point by jtchang 1 day ago 1 reply      
I wonder how you remove this kind of coating? Sandblast it?
1 point by adolph 1 day ago 0 replies      
Hmm, I was hoping for spray-on gorilla glass!
-1 point by markdionne 1 day ago 2 replies      
Imagine that regular glass had not yet been invented, and someone came up with it today. I suppose people here would be questioning its safety.
On Not Hiring gabrielweinberg.com
233 points by bjonathan 2 days ago   48 comments top 14
93 points by saturdayplace 2 days ago 6 replies      
This article feels like a call for more calm in the running of a startup. Perhaps it's just me, but I usually feel a rather frenetic urgency from most articles posted here. Iterate. Pivot. Yesterday might be too late. Go big, or go home. When he says:

> We need to build x, y and z, ASAP. Before you've figured out distribution? What evidence do you have that x, y and z, once built, will make customer acquisition any easier?

It feels like he's saying, "Whoah, let's not just go off half-cocked." And when trying to convinces us to spend the our own time on graphic design It feels like he's saying, "Easy, there. It's OK to take longer on something you're not as good at," which is counter to the conventional wisdom around here.

What's interesting, is the advice is still paired with, "Iterate, iterate, iterate." Feels like the message is less "Hurry" and more "Thoughful iteration." This was refreshing.

25 points by seanalltogether 2 days ago 1 reply      
I watched my current company grow from 6 employees to 100 employees and along the way I realized I don't have the riskiness to do what our founders did. Our founders spent 2 solid years hiring people with no work for them to do, and within 4 weeks turning around and selling work we didn't have enough employees to fulfill for. This tit-for-tat growth was probably a bit unstable but they went back and forth between overhiring and overselling to the point that we are now a stable and have always been a profitable company.

I have a lot of respect for entreprenuers that can just jump in and make things work like that.

15 points by Umalu 2 days ago 1 reply      
There are two distinct skills. One is building a great product. That can be done with a tiny team. The other is building a great organization. That obviously cannot be done alone. To me an interesting question is whether we need great organizations. There is a great imperative once you have a great product to grow and scale, to go from being a product builder to being an organization builder. It is undeniable that an outstanding organization allows us to leverage our talents in ways we could not do alone, and I suspect success in the massive monetary sense depends more on an ability to build great organizations than on building great products. But I would like to think building great products is enough, and unless you need massive monetary success I expect it is.
23 points by yuvadam 2 days ago 2 replies      
Forget hiring.

DDG is run by Gabriel solo for 3 years???

This changes everything I thought about starting up...

4 points by trunnell 2 days ago 0 replies      
interaction design. I agree this is super important. I also still think the founders should be doing it.

One could argue that for many products, traction starts with interaction design. Good interaction design involves finding out how your user thinks about a problem and then finding a solution that naturally fits inside the user's mental model. Wireframes, etc, all flow from that core revelation. To do this, sometimes you need to interview (potential) customers, study their habits, and really understand their needs.

So it should go without saying that founders should be doing interaction design, but this is first time I've ever seen it put plainly.

The opposite situation, where founders don't have a deep sense of their users' needs and habits, is a recipe for failure.

6 points by nanijoe 2 days ago 1 reply      
Gotta give you props for your "roll up your sleeves" philosophy..You know, a blog post you wrote a few years ago, had something in it about things not being as hard as they first look. That one line inspired me to go learn Python, then ruby, rails, javascript, css etc I guess its time now to stop mucking around and learn some photoshop.

PS Just noticed this was not posted by the author, but the comment still applies

3 points by fredoliveira 2 days ago 0 replies      
I think there's merit to a middle ground between not hiring and hiring recklessly. I've always found that the right person will always move a company forward, where the wrong hire may screw you up irremediably. The problem with most hires is that this effect is hard to predict, and sometimes it is disproportionate/unexpected (a random hire may have a billion dollar idea, and he could also bring your company down).

Which is why hiring is an art, why companies have hiring managers on which a great deal of responsibility is put on, and why I ultimately have to partially agree with Gabriel. Sometimes not hiring is a good decision.

2 points by thaumaturgy 2 days ago 0 replies      
As with a lot of the articles that flow through HN, this applies somewhat more to the web-based startup business model than to other models.

I've got two other people working with me now, and I hope to add at least two more this year. We're a heck of a good team, with our bases covered in hardware, software development, consumer electronics, home media systems, Windows and Linux network administration ... there are much fewer things that we can't handle between the three of us, versus any one of us alone.

4 points by ookblah 2 days ago 0 replies      
Like most everything... I think IT DEPENDS. I don't think you need to hire more people in order develop your startup, but I think there are some key things you can do w/ the right people.

1) Iterate faster. If you have 2-3 devs working on something vs 1, then you can figure out more quickly if your hypotheses are correct or not.

2) Certain markets (like ours in the non-profit space) require that you have more direct interaction w/ those you are trying to reach. 1 person might have worked well for DDG, that isn't applicable to everyone

2 points by ZeroMinx 2 days ago 1 reply      
Agreed, hiring is hard.

If you have specific, defined tasks, it's better to get a contractor. For example, for my current project, I hired a sysadmin for about a week to set up a new infrastructure, configuring puppet and so on. Sure, I could have done it myself, but that would have taken a lot of time and probably wouldn't have been done as well (I'm more dev than admin).

1 point by mhd 2 days ago 0 replies      
As I already commented on the blog post itself, I wonder whether I could continue that long doing something like DuckDuckGo without having someone on call other than me if things go bad. I know that you have to sacrifice a lot for your startup, but if at all possible, I'd try to find someone who's there to restart the server if I'm not available. Never mind that I don't know whether I would trust my limited security knowledge enough. Just catching 80% of the crackers isn't enough.

Granted, a freelancer doing a security audit might work out for that. But restarting servers, solving network and OS issues? Is there some kind of sysadmin "call center"? And would I trust them with my private data?

Other than that, the article speaks to my bootstrappy heart.

2 points by GBond 2 days ago 0 replies      
> Instead, lean on the powers of incremental improvement and the Pareto principle (80/20 rule). Spend time each week looking at a specific parts of your design, and iterate on them. It will get better if you put in the time. And then for finishing touches, e.g. nicer images (the last 20%), outsource via 99designs/freelancers/etc.

This is great advice. Not only because it is free you up from hiring but design/ui/ux is integral to most web apps and should have a frequent focus of the founder.

1 point by johnrob 2 days ago 0 replies      
This post seems less about hiring and more about what a startup should be focusing on. Given his reasoning, would it not make sense to hire someone good at customer development and/or customer acquisition?
-2 points by ahi 2 days ago 2 replies      
Employees are assets.

A business organization might be a saleable asset even with a failed product. A solo founder with a failed product is just broke.

While probably not the best strategy, building an attractive organization may reduce risk by making the worst case scenario a talent acquisition instead of a liquidation. Personally, I'm a bit of a misanthrope so I lean towards Weinberg's position.

Inequality in Equalland daemonology.net
230 points by cperciva 5 days ago   133 comments top 15
27 points by ugh 4 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 5 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 5 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 5 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 5 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.

9 points by cperciva 5 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
15 points by stretchwithme 4 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.

3 points by j_baker 5 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 4 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 4 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 4 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 5 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 4 days ago 0 replies      
Typo at: "The most indebted households in Equalland &mdash $130,133....", missing the ;-character.
1 point by Symmetry 4 days ago 0 replies      
Far more useful than looking at inequality in wealth or even income is inequality in consumption.
3 points by monkeypizza 5 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!

How to write a simple operating system berlios.de
223 points by motxilo 1 day ago   21 comments top 8
18 points by a-priori 1 day ago 2 replies      
While it's cool and all to write your own bootloader, this means you have to deal with a lot of the really ugly bits of x86/PC architecture... like the A20 gate, for example (if you don't know what that is, count yourself lucky).

Instead, I suggest using GRUB to boot your kernel image. It leaves you in 32-bit mode and a relatively sane state. It's not hard to write a loader file (in assembly) which contains the multiboot header and an entry point. Presumably you'll want to set up a basic C runtime environment and call your C "main" function.


8 points by steveklabnik 1 day ago 0 replies      
I also have a bare bones OS project up on GitHub:


It's a bit of a niche inside a niche: it explains how to set things up to write an OS in D. This was extracted from the OS that my friends and I started a while ago, that's now two of theirs' PhD research:


3 points by senko 20 hours ago 1 reply      
If you're into building custom OS' but not interested in doing the lowest level bits (bootloader, fiddling page table bits, worrying about the processor details, etc), using a pre-existing microkernel and building whatever you want on top of it can be interesting.

I used my diploma thesis as an excuse to build a toy OS on top of a L4 (L4Ka::Pistachio) microkernel. It provides the basics, incl. IPC and VM building blocks, and a straightforward C/C++ API, and you can do the rest (there's also a number of things built on top of it that you could mix'n'match - i just implemented most of my userspace stuff because that was what I was interested in).

Some links (haven't been in touch for a few years, I don't know how up to date they are):

L4Ka project: http://os.ibds.kit.edu/1953.php
OKL3 (successor to Pistachio, as far as I can tell): http://wiki.ok-labs.com/
Iguana, a set of components to be (re)used on top of L4:
Misc L4 resources: http://www.l4hq.org/projects/os/

If anyone's interested, I could try to find my old code and put it on GitHub (it's a combination of MIT and GPL licenced things).

4 points by alexwestholm 1 day ago 0 replies      
The project seems to be dead these days, but if you're interested in writing OSes, take a look at the Flux OSKit:


OSKit aims to be a set of libraries that dramatically lower the barrier to entry on OS development.

3 points by Sapient 1 day ago 1 reply      
I found this invaluable when writing my own small OS.


He includes a lot of details, and seems to try to do things "The Right Way" as much as possible. (Not that I am a good person to judge that)

1 point by Rusky 12 hours ago 0 replies      
There is no reason to write your own x86 bootloader- it's just an exercise in abstracting away the most brain-dead ISA on the planet.

What you should do instead is write the kernel and just load it with GRUB. It allows you to immediately jump into the interesting stuff that makes your kernel unique, makes it easy to test on real hardware without getting a second machine, and makes it possible to dual-boot with it if/when you get that far.

I haven't tried this, but it might be fun to write a kernel for some other system- some ARM device, maybe. Any kind of bootloader would be infinitely less encumbered with x86's layer upon layer of compatibility stuff.

1 point by coderdude 1 day ago 1 reply      
This is where floppy disks come in handy. Burning an ISO to a CD for each round of testing is a pain and wasteful. When I dabbled into this years ago I was lucky enough to still have a floppy drive.
US Patent system so dysfunctional you can patent a stick from a tree google.com
213 points by lotusleaf1987 1 day ago   56 comments top 13
66 points by ck2 23 hours ago 4 replies      
We need to sponsor that image as a billboard in Washington D.C. to get the mainstream news to cover it and then maybe Congress to look at it eventually.
54 points by jws 1 day ago 3 replies      
Check the last two pages. It only took 4 years for a re-examination to cancel all 20 claims.
19 points by alexqgb 22 hours ago 1 reply      
Meanwhile, back in Washington, the Administration continues to bloviate about other nations, and their "failures to respect intellectual property law".

At what point are those nations going to lose enough patience to point out the unbelievable corruption, cynicism, and mind-bending incompetence with which the law is administered in the first place?

18 points by bmr 22 hours ago 1 reply      
Obligatory exercise your cat with a laser pointer patent:


This was always included on the first day of any patent class in law school.

6 points by lotusleaf1987 1 day ago 0 replies      
Everyday it becomes clearer and clearer how completely broken the US patent system is and how deeply it needs reform.

How much worse is it going to get before it actually gets better?

3 points by pinstriped_dude 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Its not just the US. A man in Australia once patented a "circular transportation facilitation device", yes a wheel!


4 points by Vivtek 1 day ago 0 replies      
Yup, an appropriately shaped stick seems to be claimed in claim 1. You might be able to hit that "adapted to float in water" - does "adapted" require a process in patentese, or can you simply discover a "pre-adapted" stick, for example?

Good find. For certain values of "good".

5 points by chmike 19 hours ago 1 reply      
I'm currently examining the following patent proposing the use of mail quota. http://www.google.com/patents/about?id=mFrNAAAAEBAJ&dq=s... This patent is filed in 2000 and issued 10 years later ! In 2006 it was apparently extended to international. Does this mean the validity of the patent is 20 years starting from 2010, or is it from 2000 ? This is weird. Note that I'm in europe and don't know US patent particularities.
3 points by yason 20 hours ago 1 reply      
We would be better off if we turned the patent office into a mere notary service where you can just timestamp descriptions of your innovations, and then go to court yourself fighting for them if you think you have a chance to win.
11 points by terinjokes 1 day ago 1 reply      
If you scroll to the bottom, it was amended so that claims 1-20 were cancelled.

There were only 20 claims.

4 points by brown 1 day ago 1 reply      
I didn't believe this at first. Sadly, it is real:


2 points by buzzblog 14 hours ago 0 replies      
Patent attorney at link below explains why this stick patent is useless in addition to being silly. He also notes that it is no longer held because the "inventor" failed failed to pay a fee.


2 points by EGreg 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Thanks, this is another illustration of my point that I often make. Intellectual monopoly needs to be re-addressed.
“OK, but there are two rules…” andyswan.com
216 points by speek 1 day ago   70 comments top 25
39 points by redthrowaway 1 day ago 6 replies      
I appreciate the message, but am I the only one for whom the "fail fast" mantra is becoming grating? It seems like it was originally a good idea: if your startup is dead, let it die. Don't cling to a failed idea. Now, however, it's almost used instead of a plan, or as an excuse not to carefully consider your options. It seems as if it appeals to our innate laziness: "Take a shot. If you miss, oh well, better luck next time." There's no hunkering down, no in-the-heat-of-the-crucible, just give up and try something else. It feels like a truism packaged for the Twitter generation.
12 points by GFischer 1 day ago 0 replies      
Mark Rosewater, the lead developer of the card game Magic:The Gathering constantly talks about how restriction breeds creativity.

"The explanation he gives is simple: when someone is building a house, the more tools they have, the better off they are. But when someone is looking for something, the more space they have to explore, the worse off they are"



and the original article (on Magic:The Gathering design, but with useful information - scroll down to the "Design Tool #1: Restrictions" header where he discusses this point):


11 points by phamilton 1 day ago 0 replies      
I remember taking an English class my freshman year of college. We had to write a research paper, and the professor proposed that we make a rule that we can't use the internet. The class shot it down hard. While not a policy, he recommended that we give it a shot if we are up to it. I gave it a shot and it was actually quite a good experience. Libraries are not obsolete, and I was very able to write about new and contemporary issues. The restrictions made it a better experience for me.

Though that was for school, where the point is often to create things that are neither novel nor profitable.

6 points by thrdOriginal 1 day ago 1 reply      
I took the tour at Makers Mark distillery a few months ago (highly recommended), and they told a mostly similar story about Makers 46 (named after the number of attempts it took to get it right), but spun it as Bill Samuels, Jr. desire to "leave his mark." Although it is fun to find business lessons in everything (especially bourbon), I came away with a slightly more concrete example in brand loyalty after being introduced at the distillery to Marker's Mark's Ambassador program. It is pretty interesting: essentially it allows you to place your name on a barrel and recieve updates about its progress. When its finally ready, you have now earned the right to purchase your "own" bottle.
2 points by gfodor 13 hours ago 0 replies      
There are restrictions that foster creativity as well as those that inhibit it. The trouble is you don't know which is which until you actually try building something within them. Additionally, you only see the success stories where these constraints resulted in something special, you don't see the failures that would have been successes if only the creators were given a bit more intellectual freedom.

I'm struggling with this right now. When building web applications, there are some constraints that are interesting and useful ("the user should be able to do everything without logging in") that might result in great stuff being built, and others ("it has to use this particular technology stack or this particular algorithm") that are less obviously beneficial to the creative process.

5 points by davidmathers 1 day ago 2 replies      
I learned this concept from George Lucas when I was a child.

Star Wars Budget: $13M

Return of the Jedi Budget: $32M

I'm not joking when I say that juxtaposition influenced the way I think about life.

Now the idea almost seems like a trivial commonplace to me. Everyone from John Paul Sartre to David Heinemeier Hansson has written about it.

7 points by iamwil 1 day ago 0 replies      
Sometimes, the restrictions come at being underfunded, or with a lack of time, which takes less discipline to enforce than self-restriction.
15 points by hnal943 1 day ago 2 replies      
Mr. Swan misses the point here. The success of the new bourbon was not because random restrictions were applied (e.g. Open a pizza place with NO CHAIRS), but because a high standard was enforced.
9 points by idheitmann 1 day ago 4 replies      
Another great parallel is from photography:

Many film cameras used to be sold with only a fixed 50mm or a 35mm lens. The restriction forced people to think about what was in or outside the field of vision. Today's cameras that have 10x zooms do not force the same consideration, and I suggest that amateur photography has suffered as a result.

A friend of mine is a house-painter by trade, and has set himself the restriction to never use a brush when he paints a canvas. This forces him to consider what he really wants and how he can get there, instead of simply smearing paint around the canvas until he gets bored.

We have too many choices these days. Getting rid of a few can make results much more deliberate.

8 points by cdr 1 day ago 1 reply      
"Restrictions breed creativity" is hardly a new concept, but one worth repeating.
2 points by Eliezer 1 day ago 0 replies      
"Originality isn't easy, but it is simple. Just don't do stuff that's already been done."
1 point by Umalu 1 day ago 0 replies      
Enhancing creativity through artificial restriction is an old idea. The "Oulipo" movement in literature tried things like removing random letters from writing (try writing a story without using "e"), or transposing random words. When you put in restrictions like this, you get a much higher variance in outcome, with the bad being truly awful and gimmicky but the good occasionally being sublime.
1 point by bitwize 10 hours ago 0 replies      
I eat at a no-tables-and-chairs pizza place sometimes: Sal's in Boston. Real popular with the Suffolk U kids. You order your pizza and to eat it, you stand at one of the high counters running alongside the plate-glass windows.
5 points by ivey 1 day ago 2 replies      
And now I want bourbon.

Is 1:30 too early?

1 point by mcantor 13 hours ago 0 replies      
Design is the successive application of constraints until only a unique product is left.

- Donald Norman, The Design of Everyday Things

1 point by brianpan 1 day ago 0 replies      
I think it's worth mentioning that in this case, the restrictions weren't arbitrary. There was insight in the two rules- designed perhaps to stay true to Makers (the "best bourbon") and still create something truly innovate and distinct.

Arbitrary restrictions can also inspire creativity and create focus (timeboxing, learning to say no), but creating restrictions can be an opportunity to frame the problem in a purposeful way.

3 points by wildmXranat 1 day ago 0 replies      
Alcohol. It sells. Brand recognition helps as well.
1 point by blahblahblah 1 day ago 1 reply      
It's not too hard to see why this works if you think about it as a mathematical optimization. You have a very bumpy fitness function in parameter space. When you apply arbitrary constraints on the parameters you are selecting a subspace to examine for local maxima of the fitness function. This is an easier problem to solve than the original global maximization problem.
1 point by ctdonath 7 hours ago 0 replies      
FYI: Knob Creek just announced their "Single Barrel Reserve".
1 point by vilya 1 day ago 1 reply      
Unfortunately the comment "Running a real estate website? OK... you're not allowed to show the asking price or address of any home. Go." describes some of the most annoying real estate websites I've come across.

While restrictions can encourage innovation, sometimes they really do just get in the way.

4 points by teyc 1 day ago 0 replies      
Jobs: Make it work with one button
4 points by bergie 1 day ago 1 reply      
Build a CMS, no forms allowed.
3 points by ambirex 1 day ago 0 replies      
Actually the runkeeper idea without any inputs sounds like a pretty interesting problem.
4 points by littleidea 1 day ago 1 reply      

Be dismissive without rolling your eyes...

Ready? Go!

0 points by bluekeybox 1 day ago 2 replies      
I guess the analogy with mobile Apple products is obvious (which I presume is why this post is on HN at all), but in hindsight I just realized that I have been following a similar strategy in my personal life all along (never let myself play video games or really watch TV except movies).
Things Real People Don't Say About Advertising tpdsaa.tumblr.com
211 points by Byliner 9 hours ago   49 comments top 23
22 points by blhack 8 hours ago 3 replies      
I don't think that advertisers want consumers to consciously think these things.



10 points by alexophile 7 hours ago 3 replies      
You could just as easily make a blog "Things Real People Don't Say About Your App"

"I like the functionality, but it doesn't follow best practices."

or "Things Real People Don't Say About Science"

"These findings are compelling, but I'd like to see some corroborating studies in peer reviewed journals".

Any consumer facing industry is going to have a world of jargon that is inaccessible or ridiculous to the layperson. And similarly, these industries can support those who want to participate but don't have anything to add.

I don't see this as a jab at advertsising (although, it very well may have been intended as such) I see it as a jab at wannabes.

If you still don't believe me, try reading tech job postings...

[edit: typo]

7 points by SandB0x 8 hours ago 1 reply      
The best ones work because they use great stock photography where the shots convey a clear message: http://media.tumblr.com/tumblr_lexcpscLrw1qziezc.jpg
10 points by ggchappell 8 hours ago 4 replies      
Interesting. But I disagree with a number of them.

> I love the copy, but it feels off brand ...

I remember the first time I saw a McPizza ad. It talked about how if you didn't like one kind, then you could get a different one. And it felt really strange.

Later I figured it out. Until then, McDonald's ads had always maintained the premise that everyone likes everything they sell.

> If only this solution was more scalable...

I am constantly annoyed at the idea that "scalable" is a meaningless word. Nonsense, it is a precise, well-defined, and useful term. True, it does get misused by marketing people. But the fact is that anyone who is purchasing a large system of any sort, if they know what they're doing, will have some concern for scalability.

> Finally, a place for me to share MY story!

Isn't this a huge reason for people going to blogging platforms?

On the other hand:

> This website's music is great - turn it up!

Definitely. No one has ever said that, ever, in the history of the web.

5 points by Stormbringer 4 hours ago 1 reply      
In the real world, people hate advertising.

This is why as an app developer I am deeply sceptical about Google's model. Okay, so the consumer saves a buck, but then you chip away at their goodwill every time you show an ad. And note, when you're showing an ad, to make it effective you have to make it intrusive, you either have to lock them out of the free functionality for a while or you need to make it eye-catching.

I don't know anyone that said "I'm so glad Google bought Youtube and plastered ads all over the videos".

People hate advertising so much they will go out of their way to avoid it.

In economic terms, as an app developer the way I see it is that free+ads is really just burning up my user's good will to enrich Google. The more I annoy my customers like this, the less likely they are to recommend my app. To the extent that it is less than a zero-sum game... it's not just an even 50:50 trade-off between for pay and ad-supported.

5 points by zck 7 hours ago 3 replies      
This is a mix of half-amusing misconceptions -- "Of course I'll spend eight minutes of my life watching your branded content" -- and details that advertisers should care about -- "I love the copy, but it feels off brand". Most of the pictures fall into the latter, and are very "inside baseball". Why would you expect "real people" to talk like that, or chastise advertisers for doing so? People who buy from Amazon don't care how many servers Amazon has allocated to recommend products to them, but Amazon engineers certainly care. People searching Google don't care about the inner workings of how MapReduce distributes the work over multiple servers.

This website feels like a bunch of immature complaints and useless mockery.

12 points by bmr 8 hours ago 1 reply      
Maybe not, but those things may still wield pretty heavy influence. Advertising is a strange world of subconscious desires and difficult-to-rationalize preferences (colors and shapes of buttons, for example).
1 point by mambodog 47 minutes ago 0 replies      
This is by the same guy as Never Said About Restaurant Websites: http://neversaidaboutrestaurantwebsites.tumblr.com/
1 point by benreesman 18 minutes ago 0 replies      
where's the call to action?! I can't find the fucking call to action!
7 points by nobody_nowhere 8 hours ago 0 replies      
In case you're wondering -- yes, the non-real people in the ad world say this shit -- all. the. time. And without irony.
2 points by mmaunder 7 hours ago 0 replies      
"This website's music is great, turn it up!" - LMAO!

The funniest part is that most of this stuff actually works: on message copy, brand structure (http://bit.ly/fmyD7T), the word "solution" has sold hardware for 3 decades, buzzwords like "social currency" causing enough confusion to get your attention, focusing on intent increasing conversions/revenue, font size increasing conversions, branded apps (REI ski report, Oakley surf report), website users love introspection, stock photos increasing conversion, focusing on benefits (value prop).

2 points by andreyf 3 hours ago 0 replies      
I thought the music on pinkberry's website was pretty cool: http://www.pinkberry.com/
5 points by PixelRobot 8 hours ago 0 replies      
Marketing people say the darndest things.

It reminds me to this youtube video somebody posted recently on Twitter: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dRDhx8Lo37E It's totally viral!

No, I'm not related to the video or whoever made it.

1 point by jarek 6 hours ago 0 replies      
I work at an interactive agency and none of your experiences hold true for me. It might be time to upgrade your employer.
2 points by iuguy 8 hours ago 1 reply      
If anyone wants to see an incredible look into how Sigmund Freud's research was turned around to manipulate people into consuming more, then Adam Curtis' excellent The Century of The Self is available to watch here: http://thoughtmaybe.com/video/the-century-of-the-self

If you've never seen an Adam Curtis documentary before, this is a good one to start with. His style and delivery is unique among documentary filmmakers and is definitely worth a watch.

2 points by lkozma 6 hours ago 0 replies      
1 point by wallflower 4 hours ago 0 replies      
The address http://tpdsaa.tumblr.com/ makes me think the blog was originally missing the baiting 'Real' adjective.
2 points by klbarry 7 hours ago 0 replies      
They wouldn't say it those terms, but they might very well think it or say it in other terms. You wouldn't say, "Holy shit! This call to action button is better" but you might want to click it more.
2 points by anorwell 8 hours ago 1 reply      
> I wonder if my user experience is living up to their intentions

I think this a lot, actually.

> Hooray, we fall into the correct segment

If segment means target demographic, then I think this a lot too.

1 point by humj 7 hours ago 0 replies      
I don't think the post was intended to say that advertisers
actually think that people talk or even think this way, I
think the post was to point out that often, marketers will
have a certain perspective on their product and try to
force that perspective onto its users. The reality is,
users don't care about your perspective. They only care
whether or not the product meets their needs.
1 point by gills 7 hours ago 1 reply      
Let's just go ahead and coin the term "lol ads".
1 point by taiyab 7 hours ago 0 replies      
The use of common stock photography just makes it even better lol
How Pixar Bosses Saved Their Employees from Layoffs geekosystem.com
199 points by rpledge 3 days ago   59 comments top 13
22 points by vl 3 days ago 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 3 days ago 0 replies      
Remarkably similar to the story of how the jews of Zakynthos were saved during WWII.


5 points by Stormbringer 2 days 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!!

7 points by sdh 3 days ago 0 replies      
don't worry! disney execs will finally figure out a way to get those layoffs to happen.
4 points by MarkMc 2 days 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....

2 points by jedsmith 3 days 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 javanix 2 days ago 0 replies      
If anyone is interested, The Pixar Touch by David Price is a pretty fantastic look at the early history (both from a business standpoint and from a technological standpoint) of the company.


2 points by Splines 3 days 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 3 days 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 julian37 3 days 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 3 days 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 3 days 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 3 days ago 0 replies      
Had read about this in HBR long back, Thanks for the refresher. The entire Pixar story is very very inspiring.
Why GIMP is Inadequate troy-sobotka.blogspot.com
199 points by rkwz 3 days ago   104 comments top 22
34 points by samdk 3 days 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 3 days 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...

30 points by iwwr 3 days 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.
8 points by cookiecaper 3 days 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.

12 points by coffeeaddicted 3 days 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 3 days 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 3 days 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.

8 points by ominous_prime 3 days 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.

2 points by sfphotoarts 3 days 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.

5 points by rythie 3 days 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 3 days 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 3 days 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 3 days 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 3 days 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 njharman 3 days 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 3 days 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 city41 3 days 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 gsivil 3 days 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 .
1 point by jlouis 3 days ago 0 replies      
Can you represent each channel as a double? Or will that take up too much memory in the long run?
0 points by bitwize 3 days 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 3 days 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 3 days 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.
Arbor.js - HTML5 graph visualization library arborjs.org
184 points by fish2000 2 days ago   37 comments top 19
6 points by _sh 2 days ago 1 reply      
For force-directed graph layouts in javascript, see also Springy: http://github.com/dhotson/springy

Demo: http://dhotson.github.com/springy/demo.html

11 points by thecoffman 2 days ago 0 replies      
The animations for expanding nodes seemed very jarring. At first I wasn't even quite sure what was occurring. I didn't look through the docs to see if it was configurable for users - but I'd recommend something a little less abrupt for your landing page. It took some getting used to and imo is a deterrent to really exploring your site.

That being said - it seems like a very cool library!

5 points by jcfrei 2 days ago 1 reply      
Nice, been thinking of starting an HTML 5 graph visualization myself. Though I would put less emphasis on the animation and more on the "clickability" of buttons. This jittering around makes it look broken - instead I would arrange all elements in their final position from the beginning and only use animations when a new node is created.
3 points by babyshake 2 days ago 7 replies      
Are there any common reasons why a startup would be interested in graph visualization? There's clearly uses here for visualizing a social network or RDF graph, but what else?
4 points by futuremint 2 days ago 1 reply      
These remind me of flash stuff on praystation.com 10 years ago!
4 points by daviding 2 days ago 0 replies      
Was the demo of the US map inverted on purpose? I couldn't resist trying to correct it by flinging nodes about...
2 points by jlongster 2 days ago 0 replies      
What a great site design which incorporates the library itself. It took me a second to realize that the graph was the site navigation, and it kind of caught me off guard. In a good way.
5 points by rexreed 2 days ago 1 reply      
The demo seems to hang / be slow on Firefox 3.6.13 on Windows. Then again, I have a ton of tabs open.
2 points by swannodette 2 days ago 0 replies      
Is the usage of Workers in that the simulation is happening in a Worker and the UI samples that data every so often?
1 point by pamelafox 1 day ago 0 replies      
This reminds me of the JavaScript InfoVis Toolkit, which includes similar graph visualizations but also a handful more:

I've used it in the past to visualize the structure of Google Wave conversations, and intend to use it in the future to visualize related products. (Unless I use this one instead, of course :)

I think that a graph interface like this shouldn't be the only way to get at some set of data, but at least for some people, it can be a really new and compelling way to explore it.

1 point by va_coder 1 day ago 0 replies      
This is very cool. Unfortunately browsers in many corporate environments don't support this or springy.
1 point by dmvaldman 2 days ago 0 replies      
wow, this is really well done! i love the user interface for changing parameters (friction, gravity,etc.) and just overall smoothness

seems as if the algorithm grows unstable for very high node repulsion. even with a few nodes you can tell it is getting caught in a local energy minimum, plus the oscillations are jarring. maybe just cap the repulsion strength at 50k?

have you thought about adding hover text, upon a mouseover of the vertices?

also, maybe instead of spring tension, one could use fixed lengths given by the weights of another text file. giving user generated meaning to the edge lengths.

2 points by miguelrios 2 days ago 1 reply      
Very interested on this. How scalable it is? How many nodes can I see?

I ask because it uses a Force Directed layout, I guess it will get very slow after a few thousands of nodes.

Looks promising though. I'll play with it...

2 points by omerkudat 1 day ago 0 replies      
Causing quite high CPU usage in Firefox, is this generally true for HTML5 animations? (60% of Core2 Due @ 2.66Ghz)
1 point by knv 1 day ago 1 reply      
Is there an HTML renderer example for this somewhere? I'm not sure how can I make a graph interactive with canvas?
1 point by michaelty 2 days ago 1 reply      
No documentation in the docs node?
1 point by jacabado 2 days ago 0 replies      
What about a website structure representation?

(I'm working on it)

1 point by taylorbuley 2 days ago 0 replies      
I'm going to have to pick up web workers
-1 point by Klonoar 2 days ago 0 replies      
The library itself is nice, but I feel the need to ask - why the hell does this have a jQuery dependency? jQuery exists primarily to plug the holes/inefficiencies in older browsers, but this thing isn't guaranteed to work in older browsers due to its reliance on web workers in the first place.

There's nothing wrong with standard Javascript provided the environment is sane.

Simple Truths Smart People Forget marcandangel.com
181 points by edo 3 days ago   45 comments top 13
66 points by edw519 3 days 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 3 days 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 3 days 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 3 days 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 3 days ago 1 reply      
#11 People who understand psychographics will cater content to you by stroking your sense of intellectual superiority.
7 points by Peroni 3 days 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!

2 points by bane 3 days 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.

2 points by larrik 3 days 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 3 days ago 0 replies      
Regardless of what have been said above I like to be reminded. It helps to stay afloat.
2 points by pqs 3 days 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 3 days 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 BerislavLopac 2 days 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.

1 point by bgray 3 days 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.
Sorry, your “cool” webapp is probably not going to make money paraschopra.com
181 points by paraschopra 4 days ago   84 comments top 21
33 points by MicahWedemeyer 4 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 4 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 4 days 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 4 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 4 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.

7 points by swombat 4 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 4 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 4 days 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.

4 points by kayoone 4 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.
7 points by revetkn 4 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.

3 points by jonknee 4 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 4 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 4 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 robryan 4 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.

1 point by cabalamat 4 days 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.

2 points by alexro 4 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 4 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 4 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 4 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 4 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 4 days ago 0 replies      
1/10 isn't bad odds. After your fifth app, you should have pretty good odds.
A Comfy Helvetica frontpage for Hacker News jottit.com
173 points by godDLL 2 days ago   88 comments top 29
26 points by andrewljohnson 2 days ago 2 replies      
I usually don't like these "look at my awesome new design for your already successful website" posts, but this one is an exception.

This design makes what I would say are clear improvements, and doesn't try to throw out the design wholesale. This design makes just a few improvements - better use of white space, easier to read text, and I happen to think the header is better too. This pleases the part of my brain that knows how to lay out broadsheet newspapers.

Bravo, looks good! I also think the arrows should be bigger.

40 points by jerf 2 days ago 2 replies      
I just watched Helvetica last night. Apparently you are either a brilliant designer who has mastered modernism or terrible shill for the Vietnam War and all that's wrong with corporatism for using Helvetica. Just thought you should know. Heavy stuff.
9 points by dandelany 2 days ago 1 reply      
Overall, I really dig it - good work! But why did you use 'Menlo' for the headline? It seems a bit out of place. I'm assuming you were going for a "monospace hacker" look, but it just ends up clashing with the Helvetica in an uncanny-valley sort of way. (http://www.noupe.com/design/mixing-multiple-fonts.html see rule 4)

Try it with a bold/heavy/black version of Helvetica, like the "Comfy Helvetica" header you have on your page! I just tried it and I like it much better now.

11 points by taitems 2 days ago 1 reply      
I don't want to sound like a jerk, but there are a few things you might want to consider fixing:

- The jarring placement of the YCombinator image, throwing out the alignment and flow of the page.

- The over-sized numbers for each item.

- The excessively big header "Hacker News", and what appears to be a strange effect in the screenshot.

- Lack of a fallback font for Helvetica Neue (Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif).

- The centred nav items along the top bar are awkward.

- The tiny up and down vote buttons are what people struggle with the most in terms of mis-clicks, maybe these could do with some attention.

- A slight gap between each article so the "slab of text" effect isn't so strong.

18 points by acgourley 2 days ago 4 replies      
Although I'm sure it's simply because I'm used to it, I like the current design better.
8 points by Periodic 2 days ago 0 replies      
The low-contrast karma-number is a nice touch. I agree that my karma rating shouldn't be as prominent as it is. I hate logging scanning the site, having my eye hit the karma number and mentally doing calculations of how it changed.
5 points by varikin 2 days ago 1 reply      
I think I dislike about the HN design is the visited link color. If I find that it blends in with the background to the point that I scan right over it when looking for visited links. It needs just a bit more contrast.
3 points by aditya42 1 day ago 1 reply      
I took the liberty of turning this into a userjs, for those of us who don't want to install an extension to run an extension in Chrome : http://userscripts.org/scripts/show/94618

I'll try and keep it updated as much as I can.

3 points by calbear81 1 day ago 1 reply      

I went the opposite direction and went with Georgia (a serif font that was designed for better online legibility) and made the following tweaks:

- Tested out a block style button (1st listing) and adding more horizontal padding to make it harder to misclick on upvote.

- Made the header a neutral grey because someone said their eyes always moved to the top.

- Added more padding to the top just to give it some breathing room.

- Made the font underneath the titles slightly larger and made links turn "black" when hovered over.

I messed around in Firebug for this and in doing so realized the whole HN site is a gigantic table. Very interesting...

6 points by spitfire 2 days ago 2 replies      
Use this, please.

Oh and add a real search option.

Thank you.

5 points by taylorbuley 2 days ago 1 reply      
Now how do I get you to redesign my site? My plan: (1) Get you to use it; (2) Make it completely unusable..
4 points by jqueryin 2 days ago 0 replies      
My personal favorite touch was the increased fontsize of headlines. I had a much easier time scanning for topics of interest.
2 points by Osiris 1 day ago 0 replies      
The user.css file works just file in Opera as a site-specific user CSS file, though it does look slightly different than the screenshots.
1 point by citricsquid 2 days ago 2 replies      
I'm not someone who desires fancy design, I like reddit, but something about Hackernews isn't quite right. I can't put my finger on it and I don't like this "redesign" either. I wish I could work out what it is, something just doesn't feel right. It's functional though, so that's good.
2 points by jjguy 2 days ago 1 reply      
your proposed layout isn't bad, but I'm an engineer so change is tough. hackernews as it is feels like home, a new layout will take some to settle. btu thanks for the topcolor=ffffff suggestion. I like that topcolor change a lot, and the homepage still feels like home.
2 points by DougBTX 2 days ago 1 reply      
Nice. I've added this for the comment reply pages:

    td[bgcolor="#FF6600"] {

1 point by yason 1 day ago 0 replies      
I think that without the orange bar the page is too airy"should I say appleish"elements are just floating in out there somewhere. The bar gives the page clear frames.

As for the font, why define one at all? Browsers already provide a default font which hopefully is configured by the user.

1 point by daviding 2 days ago 1 reply      
Ubuntu, Chrome Dev 10.0.634 looks like this, i.e. logo broke:


I'll try it out for size for a while - easy to apply using Stylish extension here for Chrome users:


2 points by adsahay 1 day ago 1 reply      
I ported it to regular user script:

Works in Firefox and Chrome. Why should Safari have all the fun? ;)

2 points by Luff 1 day ago 0 replies      
Here's a version that works in Firefox (minus the zoom):
I use the addon Stylish to load it.
1 point by Kilimanjaro 2 days ago 0 replies      
I'd like a bigger font like in http://www.hackerblogs.com/
1 point by diamondhead 1 day ago 0 replies      
Current design is very transparent, it's like there is no design. Logo is very small (truly, why do you need a bigger logo?!), navigation is placed on where we expect with the size we even don't notice it's 14px. Font type is as simple as possible. I wish I did not see this topic because from now I'll think about design of the site while I read it.
1 point by wookiehangover 1 day ago 1 reply      
This looks pretty swell. I'm a fan of the UI improvements.

I also use a chrome plugin to inject some styling and other fun features to HN. It's on github at https://github.com/wookiehangover/grapeDrink-for-hackernews . Mine's definitely not as conventionally handsome tho.

1 point by shortlived 1 day ago 1 reply      
It looks like you changed the header color before the redesign -- how?
1 point by hbt 1 day ago 1 reply      
If we're sharing awesome designs, I own all of you ;-)


1 point by sgt 1 day ago 0 replies      
I for one welcome our new Helvetica overlords.
1 point by Breefield 2 days ago 1 reply      
Not sure why, but I was expecting something nice like http://feedafever.com/
I'm going to stick with the current design.
1 point by jaredstenquist 1 day ago 0 replies      
Much Thanks, especially from my eyes. PG's CSS coder needs to use something bigger than 10px!
1 point by jhrobert 2 days ago 0 replies      
I had no clue such things were even "possible" using CSS, thanks!
Production is Red, Development is Blue github.com
169 points by jeffmiller 4 days ago   48 comments top 15
45 points by KrisJordan 4 days ago 6 replies      
To get a red prompt drop this line in your ~/.bashrc file on your production server:

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

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

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

48 points by joshfinnie 4 days ago 5 replies      
I think it is time to add *.github.com to the filter list. I read through the whole post before I realized it was not from GitHub, but someone who hosts on github. We do it for blogger etc, can we get github added?
14 points by Loic 4 days ago 3 replies      
You should never ssh into a production system, everything should be going through automated scripts. Doing this will really save your life. For me this means:

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

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

8 points by protomyth 4 days ago 0 replies      
Did this at one place I worked for terminals and sql windows (red = prod, green = dev, yellow = test). It does tend to inform you coworkers if they should really be asking you stuff when you have a whole screen of red.
4 points by stephen 4 days ago 0 replies      
Doing the same thing for the webapp is also useful--it serves as visual reminder to QA folk that the production box (white background) is /not/ someplace they should be running test scenarios (vs. the QA box with an orange/whatever background).

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

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

6 points by sghael 4 days ago 0 replies      
We do this in a different context for our webapp work. We have three primary environments: development, staging and production. We code a contextual, 20px high, colored div at the top of our master template. It's red for development, yellow for staging, and doesn't exist in production (i know it seems backwards, but you can't really show an extra red bar in production :p ). It also somewhere we dump out some quick and dirty debug info.

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

3 points by gmac 4 days ago 0 replies      
I now run Byobu on my servers -- it's made my sysadmin life substantially better -- and for each server I pick a different color for the status bar along the bottom.

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

3 points by Luyt 4 days ago 0 replies      
I do this by setting the Window Background Color in saved sessions in PuTTY. Works great! (The different colors for different machines, I mean).
1 point by morganpyne 4 days ago 0 replies      
I like this idea, and used to have a whole spectrum of color-coded terminals when I looked after dozens of boxes years ago at a large company. It proved to be very useful because although we did automate most activity on the machines (using cfengine + other tools) I still found myself logging in regularly to various machines and could often have many terminals on screen.

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

3 points by moe 4 days ago 1 reply      
Colorful shell prompts can be used for the same purpose.
1 point by pavel_lishin 4 days ago 0 replies      
I just set up the command line colors to be different on production vs. development machines - I like my terminal backgrounds black, and regular text white.
1 point by swombat 4 days ago 0 replies      
Here's the same for those of us on Macs and who like transparent Terminals.


2 points by olalonde 4 days ago 4 replies      
Any chance it is possible to accomplish on Ubuntu?
2 points by reedlaw 4 days ago 0 replies      
This doesn't work with GNU Screen.
1 point by comex 4 days ago 0 replies      
Debugging is sweet,

And so are you.

Simple Questions for Google Regarding Chrome's Dropping of H.264 daringfireball.net
163 points by danilocampos 3 days ago   141 comments top 15
93 points by kjksf 3 days ago replies      
Google shows once more that they are visionary company with long-term outlook and an outlook on business that allows them to invest in things that benefit everybody and not just them.

Video on the web is popular hence it's important. It's also the only part of the web where the de-facto standard (h264) is owned by a commercial entity which has a grip on the technology not through continuous technological excellence but by a patent grab.

It's a huge disaster waiting to happen. It has happened in the past (see gif patent and the money grab that ensued). It's naive to think that mpeg la consortium is not aware of how much money they could possibly make by starting to enforce their licensing. And when they do, that will be bad for everyone creating and publishing video on the web. Web video on the web is currently living on a good will of commercial entity who might just think of it as freemium model: make them dependent on your product until they can't use an alternative and then make them pay.

Google (along with Mozilla) should be commended for spending millions of dollars to decrease the probability of such a disaster happening. Even if WebM doesn't surpass h264 it might just be enough insurance to make mpeg la not start a money grab in fear of loosing completely to WebM.

We need a free standard for video on the web, just like we have them for everything else, and Google is spending considerable resources to make it happen.

As to Gruber: he has no credibility asking Google tough questions. His pro-Apple and anti-Google biases are bigger than iceberg that sank titanic.

More important question is: when will Apple and Microsoft start helping us avoid future video disaster on the web?

And where is Gruber asking "who is happy about this" when Apple continuously censors App Store and refuses to allow developer publish apps that users want to use? When Apple is more interested in their petty vendetta against Adobe than in what they users want. Etc. If you want to ask tough questions, then ask them, just not selectively.

11 points by hristov 3 days ago 0 replies      
Ok here, are some answers, off the top of my head. They are not Google's answers, but what I imagine Google would say if they felt like being honest.

1. No Flash wont be dropped. Why must we be forced to the extreme absolutist position in one direction or another? We try to do what is right, but we are also practical, and will not attempt things that will cause too much trouble for their benefit. It is always easier to affect the path of technology in its infancy than after it has been established. Flash is established; we will not try to fight it and will let it die a natural death. HTML 5 video is in its infancy and we will try our best to guide it in the right direction.

2. We will probably leave that up to the manufacturers. However, once the WebM hardware accelerators start shipping, we expect h.264 support to drop because no manufacturer likes to pay per phone licensing fees.

3. Youtube will still retain h.264 support to allow compatibility with iOS devices, until iOS devices start supporting WebM.

4. They will have some time to think about it. First we are not dropping h.264 support immediately. Even after we drop support, they can still use flash to support their h.264 video (as most of them already do) so they do not lose anything. But we are making it clear that we are throwing our weight behind WebM, and they will eventually figure out that they are paying h.264 license fees for no good reason.

5. We are. Lots of people on the web are. Many people that have to write checks to MPEG-LA are. Many people that are thinking of doing a video startup but are worried about the licensing costs are.

35 points by pyrmont 3 days ago 2 replies      
tldr: The simple answer to John's questions is that sometimes, when you act in the real world, in order to achieve things you have to make compromises and cannot be ideologically pure.

In more detail:

1. Because, like it or not, Flash is an established part of the web at present and it would be unacceptably frustrating for users if numerous websites stopped working. This would be the result because these sites often do not have a fallback option for users who are not using Flash. On the other hand, sites which only serve h.264 content with no fallback option are rare (non-existent?).

2. I, too, am interested in the answer to this question but not because I'm trying to prove that Google isn't ideologically pure.

3. I don't see how it wouldn't be better for open innovation if YouTube served video in an open format. Perhaps what John is really getting at is what does YouTube intend to do for platforms that will not support Flash or WebM?

4. Why isn't it valid to have Flash as a fallback option? This is only invalid if you work from the assumption that Flash is unacceptable (either because of performance or for ideological reasons). Utilising a ubiquitous closed technology while you help establish a new open technology is not an ideologically pure strategy but it may be one that will work.

5. People who are concerned about video codecs being controlled by for-profit corporations are happy about this but I don't think that's most people. I also don't think those same most people care.

I think John's frustration is really with Google wanting to make decisions on the basis of ideology (open is good/don't be evil) only when it is in Google's financial interest to do so (John has given examples in the past that open doesn't seem so good when it comes to Google's proprietary search algorithm). I think this is a fair frustration to have but it doesn't mean that everything that Google does is irrevocably tainted and can never be good. Establishing an open standard for video on the web is a good thing long-term. The way they are going about it isn't as pure as one might hope but sometimes this is how things work in the real world (see Obama and tax cuts/repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell).

4 points by guelo 3 days ago 0 replies      
Once you get past the PR and spin I think this is just another strategic move in the battle between these corporate giants. Remember that Google re-encoded all of Youtube to mp4 so that it could be shown on the iPhone, they were partners, but then Jobs got mad and started a war by suing HTC over Android. I believe Apple was dumb in starting this war because they have a lot more to lose than Google, if the iProducts lose Google's YouTube/Maps/Gmail/Search/Voice/Goggles, etc it would put them at a big disadvantage. Consumers will be collateral damage as this battle continues to escalate.
7 points by yanw 3 days ago 1 reply      
I'm not Google but I'll give it a go:

1. No, Flash isn't just about video playback, the technology is used in a variety of ways on a variety of sites and it's not analogouse to a video codec.

2 - 4. Transitioning the web to WebM encoded video is the ultimate goal but that will have to happen gradually.

5. Adobe, initially. FSF as well

5 points by plinkplonk 3 days ago 1 reply      
trying to imagine what a different post this would be if Apple (instead of Google) had dropped H.264 for similar reasons.
4 points by antimatter15 3 days ago 0 replies      
Most people install flash anyway, regardless of whether or not it's preinstalled. Ideally, everyone could just kill flash and that would be awesome, but a huge amount of content is already made in flash and there are a few areas where standards are not implemented consistently or at all (eg. the Device API for accessing webcams and microphones, though a version of Android does support that and the ConnectionPeer interface for peer-to-peer connections). Flash isn't used exclusively for video.

When it's 2028 and all the h.264 patents finally expire, it would be great if Google were to add h.264 back to the chrome browser, but of course, the browser landscape would probably be so vastly different that it would be hardly relevant.

YouTube is reencoding the videos in WebM. But it's doubtful that the h.264 videos will be removed because of Apple's stubbornness in only supporting a single format (However, I'm quite sure Safari plays whatever videos are supported by the pluggable QuickTime engine, so once someone makes a QT plugin that adds WebM, it'll play in Safari. The same way IE9 implements video codecs).

Gruber only lists 4 or so companies that use H.264 with <video>. There probably aren't too many more that exclusively use h.264 with <video>. Certainly far less than the number of people who use flash video.

17 points by albertzeyer 3 days ago 1 reply      
> Who is happy about this?

In the very long term: everybody.

10 points by CyberMonk 3 days ago 3 replies      
I'm surprised Gruber didn't also pose a question about the murky patent landscape re: WebM. If Google decides to throw their full weight behind WebM, it wouldn't be at all surprising to see some legal action on the part of MPEG-LA.

That said, the "Who is happy about this?" question smacks as slightly unfair given Gruber's unabashed approval of Apple's decision to not support Flash (albeit, I too support this decision as a web developer).

Addendum: whereby I mean to say that there are undoubtedly numerous users who have been "harmed" (whether they know it or not) by the lack of Flash on iOS devices (e.g., because they could not view a given website on their device), even if the removal of Flash will be good for the web in the long term.

3 points by metachris 3 days ago 0 replies      
> will Flash Player support be dropped as well? If not, why?

Flash has no easy replacement available yet. We will see with HTML5 and beyond. Realistically it will take a few more years.

> Android currently supports H.264. Will this support be removed from Android? If not, why not?

My guess is that future Nexus phones will have hardware WebM decoding included. I don't know if Google will remove H.264 anytime soon though.

> 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”? If not, why not?

It will be dropped. Why not?

> 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?

Sure. They all have enough money for a few gigs per movie, the distribution system would stay the same. Btw. Netflix uses Silverlight and adding WebM decoding to Silverlight should be rather easy.

> Who is happy about this?

Given the counter-scenario and a few years: everyone!

2 points by synxer 3 days ago 0 replies      
Bravo to Google for thinking a few steps ahead.

> In addition to supporting H.264, Chrome currently bundles an embedded version of Adobe's closed source and proprietary Flash Player plugin.

For one, I am a little tired of the hyperbole surrounding Flash. Yes, it isn't quiet open source, but it's not quiet "closed source", either. Since I can download an open source Flex SDK and compile without the need of any Adobe tools. I can't fork the player API, but this rant seems like sensationalism. Secondly, Flash player handles much more than just video. I'm not saying it is used in the best way, but it definitely caters beyond video render. Removing H.264 doesn't have the same impact as removing an embedded Flash player.

1 point by brg 2 days ago 0 replies      
A question missed is the following; The dropping of H.264 seems more motivated by their acquisition of On2 and their VP8 codec than it does about the licensing terms of H.264. Who within Google pushed for this, and to what extent was the need to show a realization from On2's acquisition a factor?
2 points by rosejn 2 days ago 0 replies      
Seriously, why does anyone care what this Apple fanboy thinks?
3 points by retrogradeorbit 3 days ago 0 replies      
5. I am.
-1 point by snissn 2 days ago 0 replies      
I never realized gruber reminded me of glenn beck until now
NYTimes Opensources Their Deep Linking JS nytimes.com
162 points by joeybaker 3 days ago   50 comments top 11
45 points by donohoe 3 days ago 3 replies      
I'm surprised to find this posted here. I developed this and given the community here I'd appreciate any feedback for future iterations...
12 points by omouse 3 days ago 0 replies      
Awesome, they just invented a small part of Ted Nelson's Xanadu project. Say what you will about Xanadu being vapour-ware but at least Mr Nelson designed it properly to handle problems like deep-linking and track-backs which the Web has to employ workarounds for.
6 points by joeybaker 3 days ago 3 replies      
On Github, they say they'll eventually remove the dependency on PrototypeJS. The library is only ~10k now, hopefully that change won't increase the size too much.
3 points by jrockway 2 days ago 1 reply      
Pretty good. Did they do an analysis of the NYT archives to ensure that their First Three Words Last Three Words technique is "good enough"?
7 points by hinathan 3 days ago 1 reply      
Speaking of NYTimes, Safari user stylesheet has a line to disable the annoying word definition popup when selecting text.

.nytd_selection_button { display:none; }

2 points by siculars 3 days ago 0 replies      
Grats donohoe, well done. What is of particular interest to me here is the use of the Levenshtein distance algorithm. The reason this works well here is because you are comparing your supplied key against a constrained set. Applying the Levenshtein distance algorithm (or its variants) against a constrained set of small size in this fashion has virtually no performance impact as the time to complete is entirely based on the size of the set you are matching against. On the other hand, matching against a set of millions of records does get costly.
2 points by stdbrouw 2 days ago 2 replies      
I think v2 is trying to solve a problem it shouldn't have to solve. If the NYT made available previous (published!) revisions of their content, there would be no need to assign paragraphs with special IDs or the like. You'd simply say, "get me p2 for the story as it was on Jan 11 15:33". When you link to a specific piece of content, it's in the hopes that people will read or see the same thing you saw when you made the link. You don't want to be talking about different things, so revision-awareness would actually make more sense overall.
1 point by barredo 3 days ago 1 reply      
I made something similar to this NYTimes.com feature, a few days ago: https://github.com/alexbarredo/insidelink

It's simpler, of course. It's in plain JS and as jQuery plugin

1 point by chapel 3 days ago 1 reply      
I played around with this and got it so you can both highlight and have it move the view to the paragraph of choice. Seems pretty interesting.

An issue with it though, when sending the link to someone, and then they click it, browsers (Chrome here) turn the #h[TArTWw,1] into #h%5BTArTWw,1%5D which then seems to be ignored by the script.

-4 points by wookiehangover 3 days ago 2 replies      
Enterprise JS is 400 lines of code... 0 lines of tests. Kudos, NYT.
-4 points by Swizec 3 days ago 2 replies      
I don't understand what's so awesome about this? Browsers have supported deep linking since forever. You can link to any specific id on a page and the browser will scroll to it when you open the page.

For example, I could have every paragraph an id say id="p5" and then link ad example.com/story#p5 and voila, deep linking.

Hoorah for reinventing the wheel :)

10 Questions for John Gruber Regarding H.264, WebM osnews.com
160 points by DavidAdams 2 days ago   100 comments top 14
60 points by tptacek 2 days ago replies      
First, these aren't 10 questions for John Gruber; it's 5 questions, with one of them phrased slightly differently 5 times, and another phrased two different ways.

Second, virtually all of these questions take as an axiom that H.264 is IP-encumbered and WebM/VP8 isn't. Technical analyses (by people who have actually implemented H.264 and are familiar with the patents) suggests that that simply isn't the case. That the author of this article thinks that VP3's release prior to H.264 might invalidate any part of the H.264 patent pool suggests that he may not be at all familiar with the patents in play.

Similarly, support for a "known patent troll" isn't germane to the debate if that patent troll is in the mix one way or the other, which appears to be the case.

Third, the fact that the H.264 patent pool hasn't been brought to bear on On2 tells us nothing at all about how successful H.264 would be against WebM; it's not at all unlikely that MPEG-LA sees nothing worth suing in Xiph/On2, and if that's the case, it is surely a different situation once Google pushes adoption.

Fourth, an "open pledge of support" for WebM from chip manufacturers is worth exactly nothing to the people who have spent many many hundreds of millions of dollars on mobile devices with hardware-accelerated H.264. One can reasonably argue that those people don't matter, but they can't with a straight face suggest that a "pledge of support" in any way mitigates the problem.

There's nothing wrong with this post as a contribution to the WebM/H.264 Apple/Google debate. But one gets the sense that the author sees it as some sort of devastating argument. I'm not sure he realizes that handwaving around "known patent trolls" and "decades of threats by MPEG-LA" and "is it because said codec isn't promoted by Apple", he's actually making a fairly weak sounding argument. He sounds emotional.

I'm gonna go with the analysis of the guy who said his B-frame implementation gave x264 the project's single greatest encoding quality improvement over the guy who thinks the release date of VP3 determines which patents encumber VP8, thanks.

17 points by seiji 2 days ago 2 replies      
To get clarity of thought on the debate, go back and read http://x264dev.multimedia.cx/archives/377

Everybody seems to be crying "but hardware support is coming soon!" without seeing it's difficult: "The unfortunate problem with this is that it's a nightmare for hardware implementations, greatly increasing memory bandwidth requirements."

It comes down to WebM/VP8 being inferior (in specification and implementation) to an existing widely deployed (in bits and gates) codec.

Feel free to argue the fallacies of the osnews questions if your time is worth nothing.

19 points by roc 2 days ago 1 reply      
Maybe I missed it, but I don't recall Gruber taking issue with the webM move, in and of itself. I read his posts as just being part of his continued critique of Google's pitching itself and its various business decisions as "open" and/or "good".

I mean that's been the recurring theme on that site re: corporate Google for years now. He's not throwing darts when Google does something in their own best interests. He's throwing darts when Google tries to spin those moves as being moves made in the interests of users, 'open development', free puppies and hugs for everyone, etc.

11 points by Anechoic 2 days ago 2 replies      
"Are you aware of the fact that On2 released VP3 before H.264 was released (2000 vs. 2003), and that therefore, the MPEG-LA most likely infringes on On2 (now owned by Google) patents?"

That does not follow at all.

edit: I should say that it only follows if the patents in the patent pool apply exclusively/specifically to H.264.

5 points by Samuel_Michon 2 days ago 4 replies      
"# 10 [...] If Apple were to switch to WebM and drop H.264 tomorrow, would you then herald it as a great move?"

I bet it would help, but I don't see Apple doing that anytime soon.

Currently, Apple uses PowerVR and nVidia chips for hardware decoding in iDevices and Macs, and those companies have already shown interest in building chips that offer WebM support. But Apple would have to find some way to support WebM hardware decoding on current devices, something like a Rosetta layer for video playback.

If Apple were to only include full support on new devices, it would feel the wrath of the entire tech press, not to mention organizations like Consumer Reports and Greenpeace. Apple only risks that kind of bad press when it's about a technology they've authored themselves.

4 points by danh 2 days ago 1 reply      
The author seems to want to frame Google's WebM move as a question of Good vs. Evil (as does Gruber btw.), which is not very helpful. As with most everything, there are both costs and benefits.

The main benefit is that Google's move may reduce the risk that the MPEG consortium goes crazy in the future, and starts to charge every possible user, causing havoc in the process.

The main cost is more certain: a huge inconvenience for content producers that were hoping to get away with going H.264 only, causing havoc in the process.

The interesting question is the usual one: is the benefit worth the cost?

6 points by antimatter15 2 days ago 4 replies      
The argument with the licensing fees for Mozilla to implement h.264 is probably a non-issue, and it doesn't do justice to frame it as such. The Mozilla Corporation does have a revenue stream (largely from Google) and MPEG-LA would probably be willing to allow Mozilla to license without paying the fees given their pivotal role in the fate of the de-facto standard. Operating systems often provide h.264 decoder APIs, like in QuickTime and Windows Media Player that they could use to circumvent the licensing fees.

Mozilla is doing it entirely out of ideology (and sticks to their ideology much more than Google usually does).

12 points by tomlin 2 days ago 2 replies      
It's doubtful Gruber will address this, as it would be a bit like hammering a square (logic) into a circle (Apple).

My personal fav:

  If Apple were to switch to WebM and drop H.264 tomorrow,
would you then herald it as a great move?

Most likely. PowerPC to Intel, anyone?

9 points by dev_jim 2 days ago 1 reply      
Gruber's post wasn't about being a proponent of H.264. It was asking why Google was being so hypocritical with (1) Flash still bundled in Chrome and (2-3) their flagship support of H.264 with Android and YouTube.

It's one thing to be a proponent of the open web. However, it is just amazing the length people will go to in this "debate" to justify Google's hypocrisy. This is a corporate strategy move aimed at controlling the market and jamming up Apple and it's hundreds of millions of devices that play H.264. Gimme a break.

3 points by risotto 2 days ago 0 replies      
The only problem I see is the iPhone and iPad.

All other browsers are open enough to get native support or have a plugin. Android phones will have support. Who knows or cares what happens on WP7...

Google is taking a stand. It is annoying that Google is removing existing support for h264. It will be annoying if Apple is completely against adding a software WebM decoder for current gen iOS devices, and ignore hardware solutions on next gen ones. But both companies are free to do whatever.

I also think this will have negligible impact in the real world. Youtube will always work on whatever. Content providers can just upload stuff there if they don't want to manage multiple formats themselves.

3 points by RyanMcGreal 1 day ago 0 replies      
I may feel more sympathetic to the author of these questions, but they are ultimately just as rhetorical and passive-aggressive as Gruber's - i.e. not a particularly useful contribution to the debate.
2 points by Entlin 2 days ago 1 reply      
With mobile being more important in the long run than desktops, and Android gaining ever more importance over the iPhone, we just need Google adopting their open codecs in both Android hardware and YouTube, and it's game over for h.264.
1 point by ZeroGravitas 2 days ago 1 reply      
11. Why are you quoting random conspiracy theory Slashdot comments to support your take on H.264 vs. WebM?


0 points by watty 2 days ago 1 reply      
Ugh, I'm so sick of seeing arguments to or from Gruber. He's like a constant Apple soap opear. Google is a business and they're allowed to make decisions. Switching to WebM saves them money, pushes their codec, and their users (Chrome) lose ZERO functionality. Google obviously feels that this switch is beneficial to them and their users in the long run. If you disagree, don't use Chrome.
       cached 15 January 2011 05:04:01 GMT