hacker news with inline top comments    .. more ..    18 Jan 2011 Best
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Carnegie Mellon CS Professor challenges Sony by mirroring Geohot's PS3 hacks cmu.edu
611 points by elliottcarlson 5 days ago   81 comments top 15
76 points by jdp23 5 days ago 2 replies      
About a decade ago, David Touretsky (the professor behind this) hosted a "gallery" of versions for the DeCSS decryption software.
86 points by lotusleaf1987 5 days ago 3 replies      
This professor is indescribably awesome.
10 points by mahmud 5 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 5 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 5 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 5 days ago 0 replies      
time to get a PS3 master key t-shirt!
10 points by michaelty 5 days ago 3 replies      
The blink tag was a nice touch.
10 points by aces 5 days ago 0 replies      
This should be called "How to be a real man", by Professor Touretzky.
7 points by david2777 5 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 5 days ago 0 replies      
Mirroring rocks! A point-and-click guarantee of defeating censorship.
2 points by lhnz 5 days ago 0 replies      
Anybody else find it really funny that a guy called 'touretzky' is threatening Sony. Just me? Oh.
4 points by sever 5 days ago 1 reply      
This is awesome.

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

2 points by imkevingao 5 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 5 days 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 5 days ago 0 replies      
For what are the Windows A:\ and B:\ drives used? superuser.com
409 points by fakelvis 6 days ago   268 comments top 60
43 points by raganwald 6 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.

39 points by RyanMcGreal 6 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.

43 points by RiderOfGiraffes 6 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:


143 points by giu 6 days ago replies      
This question makes me feel old. And I'm in my early twenties.
41 points by benwerd 6 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.
33 points by redthrowaway 6 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?
16 points by erikstarck 6 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!

25 points by iwwr 6 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 6 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 6 days ago 0 replies      
The possibilities are endless (27 second video)...


4 points by haberman 5 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 6 days ago 4 replies      
Makes you wonder, when will the floppy be discarded as the icon for 'save'?
5 points by maxklein 6 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.
5 points by michael_dorfman 6 days ago 2 replies      
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.

4 points by snorkel 6 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 6 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.

3 points by othello 6 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...
2 points by ck2 6 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 6 days ago 0 replies      
Best comment: I never anticipated this day would ever come....
3 points by bane 6 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.

3 points by rick_2047 6 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?

2 points by forinti 6 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 6 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

2 points by didip 5 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 lostbit 1 day ago 0 replies      
I still have my MSX Hotbit with a 5 1/4 floppy disk extension. I had a lot fun with it in the past. Now I'm wondering what to do with it... At this time, I guess kids will find interesting that a computer must be attached to the TV so you can have a screen. Some love the typewriter, which prints at the same time you type!
1 point by wallflower 5 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

1 point by nhebb 5 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 6 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 5 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 5 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 6 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.

1 point by pronik 2 days ago 0 replies      
What scares me about this question is that such easy and popular questions (and answers to them) mean a lot of karma points to all of the participants before it goes into community wiki mode, while folks who actually can google their problems (and spend time actually working instead of reloading StackOverflow every five seconds) have low scores, since the questions they ask are complicated and thus rarely answered and even more rarely popular.
2 points by jeza 6 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 6 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 6 days ago 2 replies      
Knowing the answer and feeling somewhat nostalgic about it makes me feel old!
3 points by lovskogen 6 days ago 0 replies      
How long before a question like "My DVD wont play in this old computers DVD player?"?
1 point by maguay 6 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...
2 points by lesterbuck 6 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 6 days ago 0 replies      
Never, this would happen again that one technology/company would have such huge effect.
1 point by retube 6 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 6 days ago 0 replies      
Jeff Atwood tweeted this yesterday with the comment "want to feel old?"
2 points by tintin 6 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.
1 point by mkramlich 5 days 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.
2 points by rman666 6 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!
2 points by hackermom 6 days ago 0 replies      
This gave me a good laughter, and I'm only 30.
1 point by rogerclark 5 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 marckremers 5 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 6 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 beej71 5 days ago 0 replies      
It's the same reason there's no Channel 1 on TV.
3 points by nevvermind 6 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 el_chapitan 6 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.


1 point by makeramen 5 days ago 0 replies      
NUMBER MUNCHERS! i miss that game
1 point by flexd 6 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 5 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 5 days ago 0 replies      
Good times, I used to install windows 95 with 20 floppy disks!!!
1 point by sbt 6 days ago 0 replies      
Now I just feel old
1 point by jakemcgraw 5 days ago 0 replies      
When I installed Windows 95, it was off of 14 floppy disks, feels good man.
1 point by run4yourlives 5 days ago 0 replies      
I feel so old.
1 point by jaspero 5 days ago 0 replies      
3.5" HD Floppies were awesome compared to non-HD.
1 point by elevenE 5 days ago 0 replies      
I'm in my late teens. Makes me feel old too :)
MIT OpenCourseWare introduces courses designed for independent learners mit.edu
376 points by ashwinl 4 days ago   38 comments top 11
46 points by thebigredjay 4 days 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.

5 points by maeon3 4 days 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 4 days 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]

41 points by ernestipark 4 days 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 4 days 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 4 days 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 4 days ago 4 replies      
Khan giving them a bit of scare? I bet...
4 points by hashbrown7 4 days 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 3 days 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 4 days 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 4 days ago 0 replies      
This is a fantasy come true.
Watch a swarm of flying robotic drones construct a tiny building botjunkie.com
350 points by coffee 1 day ago   77 comments top 23
27 points by andrewcooke 1 day ago 3 replies      
I'm going to be a pedant here - that does not look like a swarm, and they don't claim it is (in the video, at least). By "swarm" I would understand that all have the same programming and that the assembly process is emergent from simpler instructions plus exploration and feedback. Instead they appear to be programmed to act sequentially with a pre-planned set of actions. There is no feedback, no emergence. In short, it's nowhere near as cool as you seem to think it is. It's just a bunch of dumb machines doing exactly what they are told to do, with no smarts.
19 points by yellowbkpk 1 day ago 4 replies      
This lab has several other videos with quad rotor robots like this (e.g. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MvRTALJp8DM), but don't worry about them escaping and starting a robot domination: they rely on infrared motion capture systems in that room for extremely precise location sensing.

Once GPS gets sub-meter accuracy, then we should start worrying.

15 points by iamwil 1 day ago 2 replies      
Pretty neat! I'm sure they'll get to it eventually, but there's no advantage to having three drones in this demo, since the work isn't pipelined. It seems that a drone has to wait until one finishes picking stuff up before it can pick up something itself.
17 points by brudgers 1 day ago 4 replies      
Interesting, but robotic cranes on the ground would seem to be more efficient and reliable in ordinary circumstances. It's not a question of how to grip it, It's a simple question of weight ratios.
3 points by maeon3 1 day ago 2 replies      
Great show, but there needs to be another device (carried by the quad rotors) to create very strong bonds between the parts. If the quad rotors could carry this bond-making robot that temporarily attaches to the parts and joins pieces with adhesive/nailgun/puzzle-piece fit, then they would be on to something.

Make a structure of actual use, like a tiny bridge across a moat that could hold people. The magnets have got to go.

4 points by eftpotrm 1 day ago 3 replies      
Great fun, but I suspect NIMBY concerns would kill any practical application.

Let's imagine they get the machines scaled to the point when they could build an actual habitable structure, and that they sort the power concerns that I suspect would make it insurmountably uneconomic.

Now, imagine a squad of sufficiently large and powerful helicopters buzzing away all day next to your office. How many people are going to be OK with that?

7 points by ph0rque 1 day ago 0 replies      
This tech would have a great application in robotic fruit-picking/pruning applications.
6 points by d5tryr 1 day ago 1 reply      
I've been cleaning up after a flood disaster for the past few days, the most amazing technology i've seen in that time is the bobcats and their drivers. It takes 10-15 people a few hours to empty a house of all it's waterlogged belongings on to the street, and then 15 minutes for the bobcat to get it up on the back of a truck.  When I see a tech demo like this I'm very optimistic about it's potential for disaster relief, where simple structures, shelters, and platforms would be of great benefit.
9 points by jaekwon 1 day ago 0 replies      
Next I want these drones to make hexagonal structures and feed off of flower polen.
13 points by thebigredjay 1 day ago 0 replies      
I like the audible menacing drone. Any autonomous robot should emit a menacing drone.
13 points by siculars 1 day ago 1 reply      
Wow, unions are gonna hate these.
1 point by stretchwithme 1 day ago 0 replies      
Robotic construction will eventually take over the construction industry. Especially once robotic transportation becomes possible.

There are many complex processes being performed at construction sites. Many steps take highly optimized machines to perform robotically but that a single human can do just by changing tools.

Because of these processes, automating the entire construction process would be very expensive to do right at the site.

All parts would have be modularized so they could be snapped together. Or robots will have to be able to change tools. Or parts will have to be moved from robot to robot, with as much work being done before parts are actually brought to the site.

Either way, it will be interesting to see how it works out.

3 points by btipling 1 day ago 1 reply      
I think flying swarm rebotics would be best weaponized. You could call them hack-mans, man-chops, person-hacks...HRM
3 points by onteria 1 day ago 0 replies      
I highly recommend checking out The General Robotics, Automation, Sensing and Perception (GRASP)'s other projects as well:


3 points by fara 1 day ago 0 replies      
robots building robots. that would be cool
2 points by GrandMasterBirt 1 day ago 1 reply      
I think the part connection is just an implementation detail. They can make these guys place something and another robot attaches.
5 points by wglb 1 day ago 0 replies      
This is just way too much fun.
1 point by shaunfs 1 day ago 0 replies      
This is awesome! It's sort of like a less precise large-scale 3D printer or MineCraft. I'm sure I'm not the only person who thinks this is certainly the beginning of automated construction. It works for assembly lines. We may finally be getting to the point where the same process will work in more mobile volatile environments.
2 points by johnohara 1 day ago 1 reply      
Anybody know the weight of each column?
1 point by soamv 1 day ago 0 replies      
The power limitation doesn't seem very difficult to surmount, a drone could just go swap its dead battery with one from a pool of batteries on chargers, and keep working.

They'd need two batteries in a drone to do that of course, or perhaps some other robot could execute the battery swap.

1 point by hanula 1 day ago 0 replies      
"...May Build Your Next House". Yea, right.
All in all it's designed to kill people in the end.
1 point by fakespastic 1 day ago 0 replies      
Imagine the damage virii of the future will be able to do to our infrastructure...
2 points by grimatongueworm 1 day ago 3 replies      
36 battery changes later...
How Facebook Ships Code framethink.wordpress.com
313 points by atularora 1 day ago   106 comments top 28
27 points by patrickk 20 hours ago 4 replies      
"If lots of [employees] are flocking to a new business unit, that's a good sign that the opportunity is a good one. . . . If a business unit can't attract people very easily, that's a good sign that it's a business Enron shouldn't be in."

- Jeff Skilling, former president of Enron


Contrast that with the Facebook approach:

"Resourcing for projects is purely voluntary.
-a PM lobbies group of engineers, tries to get them excited about their ideas.

-Engineers decide which ones sound interesting to work on.

-Engineer talks to their manager, says “I'd like to work on these 5 things this week.”

-Engineering Manager mostly leaves engineers' preferences alone, may sometimes ask that certain tasks get done first.

-Engineers handle entire feature themselves " front end javascript, backend database code, and everything in between. If they want help from a Designer (there are a limited staff of dedicated designers available), they need to get a Designer interested enough in their project to take it on. Same for Architect help. But in general, expectation is that engineers will handle everything they need themselves."

Good god. Does this strike anyone else as disturbing? Surely every single piece of work being taken on should have the USERS needs and concerns as top priority and not sexy stuff that can attract sufficient engineering interest?

What if there's important problems that are really bothering lots of users and a PM can't get anybody interested (or no-one decides to take on the problem?)

Here's a complaint from a guy about maintaining a personal page and fan page:


Some quotes from that piece:

"As a programmer myself, I can't fathom that it would take much technical and design effort to address these issues, and Facebook is flooded with complaints from users begging them to fix these headaches. From my perspective as a Facebook user with a very active personal page and fan page, I can't help but get the impression that Facebook deliberately wants to make some basic admin tasks (like blocking spammers) difficult or impossible in order to compel you to spend more time on the site. There doesn't seem to be any other logical reason for these glaring design flaws that I can comprehend, other than pure incompetence, and based on their success in other areas, it seems more likely that these choices are deliberate."

"Surely someone on their team is aware of all the complaints and requests to fix the broken elements. So why do they seem to ignore what appear to be such glaring (and fixable) problems?"

"I thought that Facebook would be an interesting place to share inspirational messages and build more community around growth-oriented people. But the current implementation of Facebook can't handle the way I've been trying to use it without creating more headaches than it's worth, and their momentum appears to be headed in the wrong direction for me to expect that these problems would be fixed anytime soon."

"So I've crossed the threshold where Facebook's value isn't worth the hassle to use it. I concluded that the best choice was to simply drop the service altogether and invest my time elsewhere."

Who will take on these issues?

Again from the Malcom Gladwell article linked above:

"You might expect a C.E.O. to say that if a business unit can't attract customers very easily that's a good sign it's a business the company shouldn't be in. A company's business is supposed to be shaped in the direction that its managers find most profitable. But at Enron the needs of the customers and the shareholders were secondary to the needs of its stars."

Facebook should wake up in my opinion. They did really well to reach 600m users (or whatever the figure is now) but if they want to stay there they should get their priorities straight.

EDIT: Grammar

33 points by pak 21 hours ago 2 replies      
So about 1000 people have unfettered access to all of the live data, but there are absolutely no safeguards against them modifying it, copying it elsewhere, or peeking at it? That's terrifying. I'm under the impression that Google has more a stringent philosophy about this, and even then, one of the few SRE's that they do give broad access to was caught stalking teens via GMail data. Imagine the range of bad behavior an FB engineer can get away with after just 4 weeks of "Boot Camp".

Part of the reason I never made a real FB account was my general feeling in 2005 that securing a MySQL/PHP site against internal abuse takes incredible effort, and they wouldn't ever bother to do it. According to this article, that's likely true. And the "everybody can modify anything anytime" philosophy with little QA explains why, after 6 years, FB is still a gaping maw of security holes.

36 points by kenjackson 22 hours ago replies      
I'm really surprised that all engineers have free access to the Facebook database. That's really scary. I know at other organizations, with much less sensitive data, this stuff was under lock and key.

I have a hard time believing many aren't abusing this, just out of human nature ("did she mention me to any of her friends?").

71 points by ajsharp 21 hours ago 3 replies      
“most engineers are capable of writing bug-free code. it's just that they don't have an incentive to do so at most companies. when there's a QA department, it's easy to just throw it over to them to find the errors.”

Bull. Shit. This one line makes me think that this entire post is completely hear-say. A 500 person engineering team that writes bug-free code on a system as a large as facebook? Give me a break.

8 points by sanj 20 hours ago 2 replies      
This is very close to how we develop at TripAdvisor, though we have a suite of tests that get run during a branch merge and code review (of at least one more engineer) of anything going into the livesite code base.

We also have very small QA team. They work to make sure that the buttons that make us money aren't screwed up.

The key to this sort of uber-agile development is that you have very, very talented engineers, a release process flexible enough to deal with errors, and a management that buys into moving so fast that mistakes will happen.

I have to say that it is simultaneously exhilarating, humbling and a little terrifying to work like this. Luckily, mostly the first two.

25 points by ramanujam 22 hours ago 1 reply      
Some inaccuracies pointed out by another FB engineer
18 points by intranation 23 hours ago 3 replies      
Sounds like utter chaos for any seasoned professional. No QA? No real product managers (or at least none with any teeth)? Design as optional resource? Ops managing user engagement metrics? Where's the security audit?

Scary, even for a developer like myself.

10 points by ernestipark 22 hours ago 0 replies      
This seems to fit how I view Facebook as a whole. I find some of their technology extremely impressive such as their blazing fast search or HipHop. However, a lot of their user experience is extremely flawed and there is a big lack of consistency and intuitiveness. Examples: clicking your friend requests on the right side of the home page pops something up that tells you to click somewhere else, events are no longer notified so you have to manually check to see if you received new ones, the distinction between adding a page to your interests versus Like'ing it is not well defined, or if it is, many users are unaware, making an event for a Facebook Page is very convoluted... etc etc. I feel that issues like these are the reason why product managers and designers exist. I think Facebook is starting to really fall behind in this regard as more and more features start to clutter and complicate the site.
1 point by bootload 3 hours ago 0 replies      
"... What do you think? Would “developer-driven culture” work at your company? ..."

Hasn't everyone read, "Microsoft Secrets" ~ http://www.amazon.com/MICROSOFT-SECRETS-Powerful-Software-Te...

...because what the author describes is pretty much the MS dev process (cf CH4 Defining products and development processes). Reading JOS, "How to be a program manager" also shows how MS PM's worked in conjunction with developers ~ http://www.joelonsoftware.com/items/2009/03/09.html MS sure knows/knew a thing or two about organising large groups of people to produce software & output product in a corporate setting.

9 points by CWIZO 21 hours ago 0 replies      
What does it mean to be "publicly shamed" in this context?
5 points by cduruk 20 hours ago 0 replies      
Is the author of this piece an engineer working at Facebook? This part makes me think not:

>I'm fascinated by the way Facebook operates. It's a very unique environment, not easily replicated (nor would their system work for all companies, even if they tried). These are notes gathered from talking with many friends at Facebook about how the company develops and release software.

So I'd take whatever is written here with a grain of salt. My communication with friends working at Facebook yielded similar thoughts but nothing that comes to what's written that implies a callous recklessness. I know for a fact that they have some code-review tools and blocking tests.

Anyway, my point is that the author doesn't seem to be embedded too deeply in the engineering at Facebook and his notes are, while not outright false, definitely misleading.

5 points by flyt 20 hours ago 0 replies      
More info directly from a Facebook Engineer about their testing process: http://www.quora.com/What-kind-of-automated-testing-does-Fac...
2 points by InclinedPlane 12 hours ago 1 reply      
Estimated Joel Test score for facebook: about 5 out of 12.


4 points by theletterd 22 hours ago 1 reply      
It seems, from the article at least, that the're very much a culture of blame, which I find quite surprising. I've never been a fan of the practices of practices such as making people wear a hat if they break the build and the like. It seems counter-productive to getting things built and shipped, and just seems to make an unhappy workplace (in my mind, at least)
2 points by EGreg 22 hours ago 0 replies      
Yeah, I wouldn't want to run my company like this:

re: surprise at lack of QA or automated unit tests " “most engineers are capable of writing bug-free code. it's just that they don't have an incentive to do so at most companies. when there's a QA department, it's easy to just throw it over to them to find the errors.”

It does explain how facebook ships with bad documentation etc. -- well, now we have enough knowledge to know how to compete with it :)

Kasparov often remarked how a good process is more important than the actual participants. An average human and pretty good computer with a great system won the championship against great computers and against great grandmasters.

Google believes in this, and their products are very well engineered, with full documentation, videos etc. (although admittedly, many haven't taken off). Yahoo definitely understands this. But these are the same companies that are losing to facebook because of social.

If google and yahoo understood the dynamics of social, we would all be better off.

6 points by tommi 18 hours ago 0 replies      
Funny how this article has 33 main bullets points out of which 13 are or contain corrections.
2 points by siddhant 21 hours ago 1 reply      
Multiple mentions of "public shaming". Doesn't seem so good. A good engineer is anyway going to have a sense of shame inside when he/she screws up. I really don't think there's any need for "public shaming".
3 points by krummas 20 hours ago 0 replies      
The key point for me in this article was:

"resourcing for projects is purely voluntary."

As someone who works for an online gambling company where we are not even allowed to use the product we are building (legal/trust issues i guess), it would _rock_ to be able to have this kind of impact on features

1 point by jkuria 15 hours ago 1 reply      
"very engineering driven culture. 'product managers are essentially useless here.' is a quote from an engineer. engineers can modify specs mid-process, re-order work projects, and inject new feature ideas anytime.
during monthly cross-team meetings, the engineers are the ones who present progress reports. product marketing and product management attend these meetings, but if they are particularly outspoken, there is actually feedback to the leadership that 'product spoke too much at the last meeting.' they really want engineers to publicly own products and be the main point of contact for the things they built."

This sounds like Mark Zuckerberg living his 'revenge of the nerds' dream in his Facebook nirvana! It certainly doesn't sound like good management practice!

2 points by didip 19 hours ago 1 reply      
Given the current sad state of Facebook Platform, it must be because no one is working on it.

Or it is labeled "unsexy" to work on it.

3 points by anthony_franco 20 hours ago 0 replies      
"no QA at all, zero"

As someone who develops on top of the Facebook Platform, I'm not surprised. Huge, obvious bugs that affect many applications are released far too often.

1 point by kschua 18 hours ago 0 replies      
"all engineers go through 4 to 6 week “Boot Camp” training where they learn the Facebook system by fixing bugs"

I really like this part. Many new staffs prefer to come in and do the "sexy" enhancements instead of the "mundane" support. This leads to their lack of understanding of the system and poor design. I had always believe that new starters should do support work for a while to gain an understanding of the overall system.

2 points by kemiller 21 hours ago 0 replies      
Shocked... shocked I am that that buggy pile of crap has no QA.
1 point by clojurerocks 19 hours ago 1 reply      
Serious question. Why doesnt Facebook do any engineering talks anymore? Some of the coolest talks on infrstructure from the past few years have been from FB. And yet the only thing i can remember really hearing about their stack recently is that they were using HBase. Which really came off as more about marketing and hype about some products they were working on then truly geeky stuff thats come out from FB in the past. Anybody know? I wonder if its because Fb is no longer a startup? Which might the reason why we never hear about Youtube or Twitter anymore either.

Oh my other comment was just meant in jest. But thanks for downvoting it and killing all the worthless and meaningless HN karma points i had accrued!

1 point by kunjaan 20 hours ago 0 replies      
I would like to know what are the other items in the 'clear list of “fire-able offenses” , e.g., sharing private user data)"
1 point by clojurerocks 22 hours ago 0 replies      
The more i read about facebook engineering the less impressed i am. It used to be interesting to hear about their engineering challenges. Now its just scary to hear anything about them. And i use it as a rulebook of how not to do youre infrastructure. Im amazed facebook works at all frankly. I also think its one of the ugliest sites ive ever used. Its what 5 years old now and they still dont even have some basic functionality on it. Plus as another person said its often broken.
1 point by keyle 14 hours ago 0 replies      
This just looks like some sort of marketing propaganda to me.
2 points by Aloisius 18 hours ago 0 replies      
It sounds like they've institutionalized the herding of cats as a project management system.
Steve Jobs To Take ‘Medical Leave Of Absence', Stays On As CEO techcrunch.com
307 points by transburgh 1 day ago   199 comments top 22
89 points by archgrove 1 day ago replies      
Steve Jobs will eventually leave Apple. This is a fact. The question becomes "When he does leave, will Apple be damaged by it"? The press will undoubtedly claim its demise (as they have been for decades), and 10 years ago I think this might have been true - the corporate ethics that have made Apple successful were not in place. Now, with the executive team he's built and trained, I suspect his presence is vastly less important. The design team with Ives, operation team with Cook, etc. know what's making things work. He's been "absent" a lot in the last few years, yet it's been the strongest period for the company - clearly, something works when he's not at his desk.

The damage will be in PR. He's an almost unrivalled corporate showman, and few companies are as associated with their CEO as Apple. Whoever gives keynotes in the future would be wise to develop their own style rather than copy his. There may also be collateral damage in ruthlessness and vision - we constantly hear how he drives new products, and kills off "failures" early. However, the more I read recent interviews with anonymous Apple employees, the more I see he seems to have reformed the company in his image. It's impossible to gauge how much actual presence he's had over the last few years, and it seems quite likely the press have over-egged his effect. As long as his successor is not a radical corporate reformer, and is willing for a few years to be seen as an "Heir to Jobs", it seems likely to me things will roll on quite successfully.

I suspect Jobs will "retire" either this or next year. When they replace him, if they don't promote from within, then any CEO should: absolutely not engage in a massive expansion/race to the bottom; introduce change slowly rather than play with Apple like a new toy and; rely on the corporate team that's been built until they deeply understand what's working and what's not.

In many ways, Job's eventual departure (hopefully based on choice, rather than necessity) could be good for Apple. I firmly believe a little of his control freak nature could be sanded off the company to their advantage. They should drop the "Control for control's sake" direction they've been taking recently, and stay focused on the core corporate ethics that have bought them success - a high degree of perfectionism, technical risk taking, user focused design through everything, and a great marketing team. It won't be exactly the Apple of today, but given some of the…hostile decisions over the last 3 years, it might actually be an improvement.

52 points by prs 1 day ago 4 replies      

  "In the meantime, my family and I would deeply appreciate respect for our privacy."

143 points by laujen 1 day ago 2 replies      
Hope he is okay. If it is pancreatic cancer again, his odds are not good. My aunt had it, beat it, then it reoccurred four years later. She did not make it the second time. Only 2% survive. Good luck, Steve. Whether you like Apple or not, tech is much more interesting with Steve Jobs around.
11 points by antirez 23 hours ago 0 replies      
It is vastly impossible to run something like Apple in a successful way with just an outstanding guy like Jobs, you need N outstanding people. While he is a for sure a remarkable personality in the computer industry and the "soul" of Apple, I think they'll be able to succeed even with N-1.

On the other hand, generational turnover is very, very important. Maybe at some point, even a terrific figure like Jobs may be as bad as it is good for Apple. For instance, how much big role he played in the culture of closure of Apple?

So it is even possible that an Apple without Jobs could be, all in all, a better company.

47 points by wildmXranat 1 day ago 1 reply      
Modern medicine keeps us alive long enough to eventually die of cancer. I lost my mom a year ago. I wish his family well. It must be tough for them.
30 points by corin_ 1 day ago 1 reply      

  It's safe to assume that he's going to conquer this one as well.

Safe to assume that despite not knowing the reason for this leave or how serious it is? :/

14 points by yaakov34 23 hours ago 1 reply      
I think we should all take a few moments to reflect on the debt that computer users and developers everywhere owe to Steve Jobs for his work in these last few years. Yeah, most of us have our differences with him (I am not a fan of the "closed garden" approach), but there is no denying that he opened huge new markets and product categories that all of us will benefit from.

It takes a lot of drive to do that kind of work while having such major medical troubles. I really believe that what drives him is the desire to give the next great thing to users, and to take Apple to new heights. Money can't be the motivator - he's got plenty, and it's probably not at the top of his list anyway, during such life and death struggles.

Speaking for myself - I recently had some surgery which was nowhere near as complicated and life-threatening as what he went through - I know I wouldn't have the drive and commitment to return to work in such a big way, especially if my family was already taken care of financially. So - thanks to Steve Jobs and best wishes for his health, and no, I don't think it's right to wish for him to return to work soon - he will decide how to spend his energy, and he's already spent more of it at Apple than anybody had the right to ask.

8 points by dr_ 22 hours ago 0 replies      
First of all, on the pancreatic cancer note - what he had was a curable type of cancer, a rare form, not your typical pancreatic cancer. What really is far more likely is transplant rejection, and his doctors probably asked him to take some time off and are going to play around with his immunosuppresant medications. Just a guess though.

Hopefully he will return because without him Apple really is not the same company, despite their ability to succesfully execute on their planned projects. A visionary has to plan for the future, and Steve Jobs isn't just the CEO of Apple, but kind of a new type of media mogul. He seat on Disneys board surely holds sway, and Apple is going to need his influence to further it's push into TV, movies and publications - he is the man, for example, Murdoch or Igor are going to want to speak to.

I do wish him a speedy recovery.

7 points by noarchy 1 day ago 1 reply      
It is a holiday in the US, today, right? At least, the markets are not open. The timing of this announcement is almost certainly not a coincidence.

On a more personal note, good luck, Steve!

3 points by zatara 1 day ago 5 replies      
This is a sad day, I wish all the best to Steve and his family.

Maybe this is not the best place to ask, but does anyone know about Steve's eating habits? I know he was a frutarian at a certain point and then changed to fish/vegan (particularly sushi), but would really like to know more.

The reason is that I am in need of drastic personal changes regarding diet/exercise and thus trying to incorporate a vegan/vegetarian diet, which has been very difficult for me. I know that cancer is a multi-factorial disease, but it still scares me that some apparently very healthy individuals (such as Jobs or Linda McCartney) have such tough health problems. I feel very well when I manage to stick to a vegan diet, but would like to know more about longterm effects.

3 points by Tichy 20 hours ago 0 replies      
Just today I was thinking of why Jobs works so well for Apple: could it be that he doesn't let the company become complacent? Every other big company seems to become complacent. There simply is no need to invent radical new products if you are still bringing in money by the truckloads. But I could imagine for Steve Jobs it is not the revenue that makes him happy, it is the optimum product. So if a product could be better, Apple employees will have fires under their asses.

Anyway, I wish him well.

2 points by cpr 22 hours ago 0 replies      
The sad fact is that Apple will never be the same after Jobs.

I think he embodies a unique ability to see the heart of a new technology or aspect of technology and to focus in on the critical part or parts, ruthlessly getting to what he sees. It's not just a design sense (like Ive), nor a good sense of what consumers really "want." And there are plenty of downsides to this unique gift. (We can all cite plenty of examples.)

I don't think we've seen that from anyone else, even at Apple, over the years, so there's no real replacement possible.

I think it's even spilled over to Pixar's success, which is pretty amazing.

(Maybe Alan Kay rivals it, in a different world.)

30 points by StacyC 1 day ago 0 replies      
Best wishes to Steve and family.
7 points by enterneo 21 hours ago 1 reply      
I lost my dad on 31st December, 2010. He had a cancer in his rectum, which eventually reached his lungs. My mom and I are still trying to recover from our loss :-(
9 points by klbarry 1 day ago 6 replies      
Apple stock is about to take a beating :/
3 points by grammaton 1 day ago 3 replies      
Liver failure killed my mother. Cancer killed my father and grandmother. They're both ugly, ugly diseases. While I'm not thrilled at the way Jobs used his money to get himself on as many transplant lists as he could, it's still not anything I'd wish on anyone.

Best of luck to him and his family.

1 point by patrickgzill 19 hours ago 0 replies      
AAPL is down 7.96% on the Frankfurt bourse (markets closed today in the USA due to MLK Day) today, see:


4 points by js4all 20 hours ago 0 replies      
This sounds serious. I wish him all the best.
4 points by CoachRufus87 21 hours ago 0 replies      
Get better, Mr. Jobs.
1 point by brudgers 1 day ago 2 replies      
>"It's safe to assume that he's going to conquer this one as well."

    v = (SteveJobs = immortal || TechCrunch = journalism);
print v


5 points by wowfat 1 day ago 0 replies      
Get well soon, Steve!
0 points by masterponomo 18 hours ago 0 replies      
Draft John Sculley?
Google's dropping H.264 in Chrome is not a step backward for openness. opera.com
298 points by martythemaniak 4 days ago   123 comments top 15
22 points by cletus 4 days 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.

43 points by mikeryan 4 days 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 4 days 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 4 days 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 4 days 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 4 days 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 4 days 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.
1 point by juiceandjuice 4 days 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"

2 points by bbuffone 4 days 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 4 days 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.

7 points by eddanger 4 days ago 1 reply      
As a rant this was mediocre, as a rebuttal this was lame.
1 point by brisance 4 days 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.

2 points by Derbasti 4 days 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 4 days 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 4 days 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)!
Things Real People Don't Say About Advertising tpdsaa.tumblr.com
290 points by Byliner 3 days ago   57 comments top 24
18 points by alexophile 3 days 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]

24 points by blhack 3 days ago 3 replies      
I don't think that advertisers want consumers to consciously think these things.



9 points by SandB0x 3 days 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
12 points by ggchappell 3 days ago 6 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.

8 points by Stormbringer 3 days 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.

7 points by zck 3 days 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.

14 points by bmr 3 days 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).
3 points by mmaunder 3 days 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).

7 points by nobody_nowhere 3 days 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.
5 points by PixelRobot 3 days 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.

3 points by lkozma 3 days ago 0 replies      
2 points by iuguy 3 days ago 2 replies      
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.

1 point by jarek 3 days 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.
1 point by mambodog 3 days ago 0 replies      
This is by the same guy as Never Said About Restaurant Websites: http://neversaidaboutrestaurantwebsites.tumblr.com/
2 points by klbarry 3 days 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 andreyf 3 days ago 0 replies      
I thought the music on pinkberry's website was pretty cool: http://www.pinkberry.com/
3 points by gills 3 days ago 1 reply      
Let's just go ahead and coin the term "lol ads".
1 point by wallflower 3 days ago 0 replies      
The address http://tpdsaa.tumblr.com/ makes me think the blog was originally missing the baiting 'Real' adjective.
2 points by anorwell 3 days 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 benreesman 3 days ago 0 replies      
where's the call to action?! I can't find the fucking call to action!
1 point by humj 3 days ago 1 reply      
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 superted 3 days ago 0 replies      
On a similar note: http://thehairpin.com/2011/01/women-laughing-alone-with-sala...

"Women Laughing Alone With Salad"

1 point by taiyab 3 days ago 0 replies      
The use of common stock photography just makes it even better lol
Spray-on liquid glass is about to revolutionize almost everything physorg.com
247 points by morganpyne 4 days ago   134 comments top 30
70 points by ryanwaggoner 4 days ago 4 replies      
This seems like the kind of report they'd show as a flashback in a post-apocalyptic film :)
46 points by steveklabnik 4 days 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 4 days 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 4 days 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?
13 points by jbri 4 days ago 1 reply      
Nanoscale silicon material with desireable physical properties?

Sounds a little asbestosy to me.

7 points by radicaldreamer 4 days 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 4 days 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.
3 points by dools 4 days 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 4 days 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 4 days 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 ...

3 points by ilitirit 4 days ago 0 replies      
Spray-on liquid glass is about to revolutionize almost everything 11 months ago.
2 points by phlux 4 days 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.


4 points by light3 4 days ago 0 replies      
It said in the article that they tested this on plants.. what happens when the fruit grow does the coating expand?
2 points by Tyrant505 4 days 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...
4 points by theklub 4 days ago 0 replies      
what company makes this and when can I invest?
1 point by mmaunder 4 days ago 0 replies      
Interesting demos of the tech:


3 points by webXL 4 days ago 1 reply      
yawn... Get back to me when you have transparent aluminum.
1 point by elptacek 4 days ago 1 reply      
What rolls down stairs? Alone or in pairs? What rolls over your neighbor's dog? Spray-on liquid glass!
1 point by conorgil145 4 days 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?

2 points by mike463 4 days ago 1 reply      
This isn't that new... I've always been told glass is already a liquid. :)
1 point by fuzzythinker 4 days ago 0 replies      
Somewhat related -- Spray-on Solar cells:
2 points by tjansen 4 days 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...
1 point by aik 4 days 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 aidenn0 4 days ago 0 replies      
Sounds like it would be useful to coat aramid composites, since many aramids decompose in UV
1 point by bsiemon 4 days 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.

1 point by astrofinch 4 days ago 1 reply      
If everything is sterile, how will our immune systems get any practice?
1 point by jtchang 4 days ago 1 reply      
I wonder how you remove this kind of coating? Sandblast it?
1 point by adolph 4 days ago 0 replies      
Hmm, I was hoping for spray-on gorilla glass!
1 point by monkeypizza 4 days ago 0 replies      
this looks like the stuff: (taobao link) http://item.taobao.com/item.htm?id=5777316505
-1 point by markdionne 4 days 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.
How to write a simple operating system berlios.de
232 points by motxilo 5 days ago   21 comments top 8
19 points by a-priori 4 days 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 4 days 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 4 days 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 Sapient 4 days 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)

4 points by alexwestholm 4 days 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.

2 points by Rusky 3 days 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 paulgerhardt 4 days ago 0 replies      
1 point by coderdude 4 days 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.
My Experiences as a Female Software Engineer jeanhsu.com
231 points by jeanhsu 1 day ago   203 comments top 17
24 points by fleitz 1 day ago 6 replies      
Why does it matter how many women are in tech? If we're all equal then it doesn't.

Not all the people I socialize with are into computers. Most aren't. You can't make all your friends in your own industry. I don't care if a person is a man or a woman, unless there are seriously extenuating circumstance I won't work or socialize with them if their assholes. The problem is that in geek circles there is a heavy social penalty of advocating that someone be ostracized for behaving like an asshole, everyone has to be included no matter how much no one else wants to hang out with them.

There are a lot of anti-social retards in tech regardless of gender. I'm quite happy with it as there are lots of people willing to hire devs who are willing to not be condescending and have some semblance of adherence to social norms. As the OP pointed out quite accurately in their post 'I realized he was just an asshole who probably wouldn't get too far in life anyways.'

Many people are hardwired to respect the opinion of anyone who forcefully and confidently expresses it. It's a two way street though, want people to think you know software engineering or any other topic? Just say something reasonably intelligent in a forceful and confident way, also if someone else has said it that they respect mention that person as having saying it. Most of the debates in software engineering are subjective in nature as much as everyone involved in the decision likes to claim otherwise.

If you know your rhetoric you'll have no problem intellectually disarming most people in CS. CS geeks think they only pay attention to logos but realistically there are a lot of CS decisions made based on ethos and pathos. I'll probably be down modded for saying this but the appeal of open source is based largely in ethos and pathos, and not logos.

I'd settle for more people in tech who can write working code with out being an asshole regardless of gender.

16 points by HilbertSpace 1 day ago replies      
For why so few girls major in computer science in college, below is my answer. Sorry to say this, but I have to conclude that my points below are the main ones to explain the data and so far have received too little attention on this thread.

From a standard point about good parenting, nearly all the girls with good parenting had mommies who were happy being mommies.

For more, I draw from

E. Fromm, 'The Art of Loving'.


Deborah Tannen, 'You Just Don't Understand: Women and Men in Conversation'.

So, I continue:

Way before age 5, the little girls realize that they are small versions of Mommy and NOT Daddy. They know in absolute terms that they are a GIRL and NOT a BOY.

Since their mommy was happy being a mommy, the little girls want to be like Mommy and on the 'mommy track'.

By about age 18 months, little girls are already masters at eliciting positive emotions from adults, MUCH better than boys. The girls are also MUCH better at reading emotions than boys. Facial expressions and eye contact are part of how the girls read and elicit emotions; other ways are to 'act' (they are MUCH better at acting than the boys) cute, meek, and sweet and to be pretty. Since being pretty lets them do better eliciting positive emotions, they love pretty dresses with ruffles and ribbons. So, they are in a 'virtuous circle': They act sweet, elicit positive emotions in an adult, e.g., father, grandfather, uncle, get a gift of a pretty dress, wear the dress, elicit even more positive emotions, get even more pretty dresses, white bedroom furniture, patent leather shoes, cute stuffed animals, etc.

Having to act like a boy or be treated like a boy, instead of like a girl, would be terrifying to them.

So, in their first years, such little girls, to be on the 'mommy track' want to play with dolls and not Erector sets, want to work at being pretty and not how to hot rod a car, want to learn how to bake a cake and not how to plug together a SATA RAID array.

Give such a girl a toy truck and she will know instantly that the toy is 'for boys' and will avoid it as a big threat.

Generally, from a little after birth and for nearly all their lives, human females are MUCH more emotional than human males. So, they pay a LOT of attention to emotions, both theirs and others'.

One of a human female's strongest emotions is to get security from membership in, and praise, acceptance, and approval from, groups, especially groups of females about their own age. That is, they are 'herd animals'. Gossip? It's how they make connections with others in the herd. Why do they like cell phones so much? For more gossip. Why pay so much attention to fashion? To 'fit in' with the herd.

In such a herd, in most respects the females try hard to be like the 'average' of the herd and not to stand out or look different. [An exception is when a female wants to lead her herd, e.g., go to Clicker, follow the biographies, get the one for the Astors, and look at Ms. Astor and her herd of 400.] Well, as long as human females with good parenting are on the 'mommy track', and the human race will be nearly dead otherwise, the 'average' of the herd will emphasize the 'mommy track', dolls, looking pretty, cakes, and clothes and not Erector sets, hot rodding cars, or building RAID arrays.

When it comes to a college major, any human female 18 months or older will recognize in a milli, micro, nano second that her herd believes that mathematics, physical science, engineering, and computer science are subjects for boys and NOT girls. Instead the girl subjects are English literature, French, music, acting, 'communications', sociology, psychology, nursing, maybe accounting, and K-12 education. By college the girls have been working 24 x 7 for about 16 years to fit in with the herd of girls, and their chances of leaving the herd in college to major in computer science are slim to none.

Don't expect this situation to change easily or soon: Mother Nature was there LONG before computer science, and, as we know, "It's not nice to try to fool Mother Nature.". Or, to get girls to major in computer science, "You are dealing with forces you cannot possibly understand.". Having women pursuing computer careers give girls in middle school lectures on computer careers will stick like water on a duck's back -- not a chance. Nearly all the girls will just conclude that at most such careers are for girls who are not doing well fitting into the herd of girls, are not very good socially, don't get invited to the more desirable parties, don't get the good dates, are not very pretty, and are not in line to be good as wives and mommies. By middle school, the girls have already received oceans of influences about 'female roles', and changing the directions these girls have selected and pursued so strongly for so long is hopeless.

Besides, 'middle school' is an especially hopeless time: The girls have just recently entered puberty, just got reminded in overwhelmingly strong and unambiguous terms that they are now young women, have received a lot of plain talk from their mothers, grandmothers, aunts, and older sisters about the birds and the bees, in their gossip with their herd members have been discussing the birds and bees with great intensity, already have a good woman's figure or nearly so, really, are well on their way to, in another year or so, being the most attractive physically they will ever be and know it, notice men of their age up to age 80 or so looking at them as women, and are in no mood to consider being 'more like boys'. Middle school is about the worst possible time to try to get the girls to fight Mother Nature. Suggestions of such lectures are 'clueless' in grand terms.

So, a typical scenario is a boy in middle school who is really excited because he just understood how an automobile differential (TCP part of TCP/IP, binary search, virtual memory, etc.) works and with great excitement tries to explain it to a girl his age at, say, lunch, and we have a strict dichotomy: The boy is totally clueless that the girl couldn't be less interested. The girl sees right away that she couldn't be less interested, not to offend the boy unduly pretends to be a little interested, and sees in clear terms that the boy is totally clueless at perceiving her lack of interest. She concludes that he is so clueless he is really easy to manipulate (a fact she suspects could be useful and saves for later). The boy doesn't understand the girl, and the girl regards the boy, and soon, all boys less then 2-6 years older than she, as at least 'socially' immature and, really, just immature. She wants nothing to do with such 'children' (she already understands that a woman needs a strong man) and will concentrate on boys 2-6, maybe 8 or 10, years older than she is. She has a point: She was likely more mature socially at age six than he will be at age 16.

Look, it's WAY too easy to fail to understand: So, we can just assume a simplistic 'rational' model. In this model, sure, we can teach 2 + 3 = 5 and (2 / 3) / ( 5 / 4 ) = 8 / 15, and both the boys and the girls can learn, although typically the girls will do better on tests in such things than the boys. So, we entertain that the boys and girls can exercise all their 'rational' abilities and, thus, can learn and do well with anything their rational abilities permit. Nonsense. Naive, clueless nonsense. Instead, Mother Nature says that in addition to rational abilities are emotions and commonly has the emotions overwhelm the rational abilities.

Net, such a simplistic rational model is clueless, even dangerous, nonsense. Give a girl of 4 a toy truck and take away her dolls in pretty dresses, and she will cry, and the crying will be heartrending to any adults around who will quickly swap back the truck and the dolls. It's no different at age 13 in middle school or 18 in college.

Actually, there can be a reason for a girl in college to take some courses in computer science: Look for a husband!

It may be that in college girls of Asian descent are more willing to pursue math, physical science, etc. than are girls of Western European descent.

43 points by peteforde 1 day ago 2 replies      
I've found that in the last few years as the "we must encourage more women into tech" train has gained speed, people have lost sight of the importance of removing barriers in favour of recruiting girls simply because they are girls.

In addition to being totally messed up politically, it's really harmful to your self-esteem if you think that you are being given special treatment to satisfy someone else's political correctness quota. Not to mention that eager men (with the best of intentions, no doubt) over-compensating can lead to "othering", that feeling that everyone is going overboard making you so welcomed that you kind of want to barf.

My current speculation is that for most girls, it's actually their parents that instill a nagging sense of doubt regarding what they are "supposed" to consider good career options. Therefore, I think the key is to reach young minds.

Girl coders: go speak at public schools or high schools today!

35 points by gvb 1 day ago replies      
The key quote: "It is also very intimidating to take classes where it seems like most people know all the material already and have been programming since middle school or earlier..."

The key to getting more females in CS is to expose them to programming in middle school or earlier.

Jean put her finger on why recruiting females for CS at the college level is so difficult: if they are starting programming in college (or even high school) when most of the class has been programming for years, they are way behind on the learning curve and have a daunting task to catch up.

42 points by nostrademons 1 day ago 3 replies      
"One of the challenges for me while I was at Google was to speak up when I didn't understand something"

That is a problem for perhaps 90%+ of Googlers, regardless of their gender.

25 points by luu 1 day ago 5 replies      
[The professor] once told me that even though the females are fairly quiet, and the boys in the class showed off a lot, when it came down to projects and exams, the female average was often higher

At his confirmation hearing, when Greenspan was asked why Townsend-Greenspan employed so many women (> 50%, compared to about 5% in finance at the time), he replied that since he valued women as much as men, but other firms didn't, he could get better work for the same money by hiring women. Are there any software companies doing the same thing today, and if not, why not?

11 points by binbasti 1 day ago 2 replies      
Last year I attended a panel about women in tech on the fairly new CCC congress "SIGINT" in Cologne, which focusses more on society and politics. The panel itself was rather boring and not really insightful, but during the Q&A a young woman from Eastern Europe pointed out something interesting: she stated that in her country there's a 1:1 male/female ratio in all science fields at the universities, including computer science. I haven't checked the facts, but even if that is not entirely true, the difference to Western countries is astounding. She went on to say that the problem is entirely with culture, and all aspects of it, and that the numbers were just reflecting that.

The women on the panel, who were all Westerners, couldn't even comment on that. They were just plain speechless, and rightly so, because most of their arguments involving bullying boys, mother nature, and other standard points were pretty much refuted by the simple fact that there already exist places in the world where this topic is not even an issue. And it's not the ones you would usually relate to human progress.

19 points by ernestipark 1 day ago 4 replies      
Really well written article. I'm not a female, but I resonate with a lot of her points, especially:

They can say something so simple as "Oh don't you know that command?" but in an inadvertently condescending voice that makes you feel like you're the only person who doesn't know it. As someone just testing out the CS waters, that type of experience in every class can be very daunting.

In general, computer science tends to be a major where people go into college with a lot of prior-knowledge and I have seen this discourage many people from majoring in it.

4 points by 16s 1 day ago 0 replies      
I used to work with graduate EE students in a research lab. We had male and female students. They joked around a lot. Nothing ever too serious. If you pulled your weight, you had everyone's respect.

One day, a top male student came into the lab. A female student was writing some code.

Guy: "What are you working on."

Girl: "Code for the new project."

Guy: "What are you writing it in."

Girl: "Perl."

Guy: "Perl!? (long pause) now that's a man's language."

Girl: "Rolls her eyes... shut-up dumb ass."

That's an example of the banter. The girls wrote just as much code and did all the things the guys did. The only major difference was numbers. There were 6 guys for every 1 girl.

Edit: spelling

4 points by patrickgzill 1 day ago 2 replies      
Any sufficiently driven, or competitive woman, will do far better financially and "psychically" to go into management or marketing sides of a tech-related field.

CS / software engineering is an underpaid ghetto, and as outsourcing continues, will remain so.

Perhaps I should have pointed out Philip Greenspun's take: http://philip.greenspun.com/careers/acm-women-in-computing

8 points by brainfsck 1 day ago 1 reply      
"It's no secret that females in Computer Science, both in academia and industry, are scarce... currently sitting at about 12% to 20%."

I wonder how much of the gender discrepancy in CS can be objectively attributed to personality differences. Populations who participate in certain logical activities have rare personality traits (http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=946249, http://www.teamliquid.net/forum/viewmessage.php?topic_id=112...) which are far more common in men than women.

If this is the case, is it possible that direct attempts to "increase the number of women in CS" are misguided?

5 points by Stormbringer 1 day ago 0 replies      
I knew several blokes who had the same problem, they were getting straight A's but they didn't believe they were 'worthy' to work in the industry if there was even one person in the class that was better or smarter than them.

Funnily none of the guys getting B's or C's had that psychological problem.

5 points by dennisgorelik 1 day ago 1 reply      

They can say something so simple as "Oh don't you know that command?" but in an inadvertently condescending voice


"Condescending voice" is a matter of perception.
It's quite possible that these engineers were totally ok that she did not know some stuff.

Still it's possible that females are more sensitive to [imaginary] condescending tone, so they shy away from the field.

4 points by scottjad 1 day ago 0 replies      
I think that the % of women graduating from CS programs is a horrible indicator of the % of women programming in industry. The author hints at this in the last paragraph.

At Clojure Conj I think there were 0 women (other than guardians of minors) out of 200 people. On programming mailing lists I almost never see female names.

I think CS graduation rates might be much higher for a number of reasons. I think females have higher college graduation rates overall in the US, they may be more likely to switch fields and pursue a graduate degree, to switch out of programming after graduating, and in a field like programming where many are self-taught they may be less likely to learn programming out of the classroom.

5 points by leon_ 1 day ago 2 replies      
> As I grow as a developer, I realize that hey, I am really good at what I do and I've gotten to where I am because of that.

3 years out of school and already a big ego :)

2 points by aming 1 day ago 0 replies      
Interesting article. Did not expect a negative experience for the author in a post-secondary institution.

On her point about being at a disadvantage compared to the other students since she had low experience with computer science (having only taken classes in high school). In my point of view, I think she had sufficient exposure to compsci. I didn't get into computer science, or even know of its existence, until my 2nd year in university.

I definitely do think personality has an effect on the experience. The author of the article, I think, took comments and retorts too seriously or negatively. In addition, I think she uses her gender as a weakness but rather it has no effect on her ability at all. Though at least she recognized the asshole soon after his outburst.

In my experience, I don't see a decline of females in computer science, rather it is a increase. I have passed by the portraits of graduated students in my hallways and definitely there are way more females than in the previous years. Matter of fact, it was almost a 1:5 ratio of females:males (may not be super accurate).

1 point by skeltoac 23 hours ago 0 replies      
The word "sexism" is too often used without any discussion of its definition. Here are a few definitions for "sexism" from Google:

I. discriminatory or abusive behavior towards members of the opposite sex
II. prejudice or discrimination based on sex; especially: discrimination against women
III. attitudes or behavior based on traditional stereotypes of sexual roles
IV. Attitudes, conditions, or behaviors that promote stereotyping of social roles based on gender.

The sexist remark in II is quite common. In some dictionaries the word "sexism" is itself defined in sexist terms: "sexist - a man with a chauvinistic belief in the inferiority of women". It may be warranted by the attitude's prevalence; it is sexist nonetheless because it promotes stereotyping.

Definition IV is probably the most enlightening of the bunch. One valid yet unpopular answer to the question "why so few female software engineers" is that most parents provide a sexist (IV) upbringing. Given the standard attitudes (gender identification), conditions (girl's toy collection), and behaviors (mom's occupation), the odds are stacked against a female becoming a software engineer even before she enters the first grade. These things change but it takes generations.

Inspecting my own behavior as a male software engineer, I would find myself guilty of several of the attitudes and behaviors mentioned in the article. My first hope is that I do not discriminate by gender (I'm a jerk to men and women equally) and my second hope is that I can be less of a jerk to everyone.

Git Immersion gitimmersion.com
232 points by tortilla 3 days ago   38 comments top 8
11 points by roel_v 3 days ago 11 replies      
I've tried several times over the past couple of months to read articles or introductions to git. The one thing they seem to have in common is that it looks like they're having a contest on who can come up with the most outrageous ways of saying how bad other version control systems are. Anyway so I read through this whole website, but again this one fails to say: what does git do that others can't? Specifically, what is better about git than Subversion? There's the 'distributed' aspect which in some specific scenarios is nice. There seem to be some niceties like adding files to a commit one by one and doing a 'final' commit only at the end; that's a pain to do with the commandline subversion client (but it's really easy with Tortoisesvn).

So, is there a concise explanation somewhere of what makes git better than subversion?

9 points by cpeterso 3 days ago 0 replies      
My favorite git introduction/reference is "Pro Git" by Scott Chacon. The book is available in print and online: http://progit.org/book/
2 points by alanh 3 days ago 0 replies      
Hmm, the chapter index uses the information (i) icon. Bizarre choice, but useful menu.
2 points by bradendouglass 3 days ago 0 replies      
A a well designed and simple GIT Tut this seems to be easy to run through. In addition, the steps are broken down into micro chunks which are always easier to people who have no clue. Wonderful and thank you.
1 point by lzell 3 days ago 1 reply      
The ultimate log format (lab 10, item 4) is superb!
1 point by weixiyen 3 days ago 2 replies      
All it has is a link to the download for git. Is this a placeholder for something?
1 point by Lennie 3 days ago 1 reply      
What are the downsides of git ?

So far I only heared that git does not handle large binary files well and supposedly it is good to keep your large source tree (larger than the Linux-kernel !?) into many smaller git-repositories.

And you have to learn something new and unlearn bad habbits.

The no-easy-GUI-problem has been solved, right ?

1 point by ylem 3 days ago 0 replies      
I found this to be a rather good tutorial!
On Not Hiring gabrielweinberg.com
233 points by bjonathan 6 days ago   49 comments top 14
96 points by saturdayplace 5 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.

26 points by seanalltogether 5 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 5 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.
24 points by yuvadam 5 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 5 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 5 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 5 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 5 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 5 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 5 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).

2 points by GBond 5 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 mhd 5 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.

1 point by johnrob 5 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 5 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.

US Patent system so dysfunctional you can patent a stick from a tree google.com
224 points by lotusleaf1987 4 days ago   59 comments top 13
67 points by ck2 4 days 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.
56 points by jws 4 days 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 4 days 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 4 days 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 4 days 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?

4 points by Vivtek 4 days 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 4 days 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 pinstriped_dude 3 days ago 0 replies      
Its not just the US. A man in Australia once patented a "circular transportation facilitation device", yes a wheel!


11 points by terinjokes 4 days ago 1 reply      
If you scroll to the bottom, it was amended so that claims 1-20 were cancelled.

There were only 20 claims.

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


2 points by buzzblog 4 days 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 3 days ago 0 replies      
Thanks, this is another illustration of my point that I often make. Intellectual monopoly needs to be re-addressed.
I Can Crack Your App With Just A Shell (And How To Stop Me) kswizz.com
224 points by SeoxyS 19 hours ago   83 comments top 28
45 points by snorkel 17 hours ago 5 replies      
The most stealth cracking countermeasure I ever witnessed was the application would XOR some of its UI messages with the hash sig of the application binary file, so if you edited the application binary file directly the crack seemed to work just fine ... but then the application would gradually go insane. The cracker who finally posted a working crack was impressed with how simple and devious the countermeasures were.
1 point by mcantor 4 minutes ago 0 replies      
For the definition of "Shell" used by the author, isn't the title basically the same as saying "I Can Crack Your App With Just A Computer"?
38 points by TheAmazingIdiot 18 hours ago 2 replies      
Gah, this is your standard 2 byte change_je_to_jne.

Perhaps, to people who program in higher languages this is not evident, but old assembly programmers know this stuff well. Even for the newer ASM programmers, we had Fravia+ (may he rest in peace) to teach us the ropes on reverse engineering and unprotecting 'nasty' code.

And those students of Fravia+ know something well: if it is viewable, executable, listenable on a device you own, you can do anything to it. He recommends taking what you would have put in for protections and make your program better by that much. Or prepare to protect the hell out of it (and release every day, munging the exe).

14 points by moopark 15 hours ago 2 replies      
The fact that most simple copy protection can be broken by someone that knows a bit of assembly shouldn't surprise anyone writing applications, and this post is just self-congratulatory silliness that doesn't actually help someone that wants to protect their software.

It wouldn't be any more responsible/ethical/useful of me to post a "I Can Crack Your Non-Mac App With Just A Copy Of IDA Pro and HexRays" tutorial. I could show you how I can press 'F5' and decompile your code back to surprisingly readable pseudo-C, but that's not going to help you secure your application, it's just patting myself on the back and showing you how cool I am.

On top of that, the author is still flogging the PT_DENY_ATTACH horse, despite the fact that it's been documented over, and over, and over again as trivial to bypass. PT_DENY_ATTACH was added to meet the minimal contractual requirements Apple had to movie studios and record companies by preventing users from attaching a debugger to DVD Player and iTunes. It's not a real security solution. There's a simple open source kext (that was first implemented for Mac OS X 10.3!) that simply disables it across the board:


1 point by dedward 1 hour ago 0 replies      
The only "real" copy protection would be trusted-computing right down to the hardware. Signed binaries, with the signature database ultimately in hardware and controlled by a single party.... and even then, we'll have jailbreaks and keys leaked.

But seriously - this was interesting in and of itself, for those who don't know the tools.
The whole concept of copy protection and registration is a war that can't be won. Denying unregistered people proper updates seems to me, form experience,to be the most effective deterrent - I don't like to apply updates if I'm not sure if it will cripple my app because I used a weird serial # - and nobody likes to run a "keygen" these days because who knows what it does.

In the end - all software is piratable, and usually by those who won't pay for it anyway.

With the declining price of software and mass-markets like the app-store, more people will pay. (I like a certain piece of SSH terminal software for windows - but I don't use it, because I'll be damned if I'm going to pay over a hundred bucks a seat for it - it's not THAT much better than the free alternatives. If they brought that price down to something reasonable, I'd use it all over)

9 points by kennet 15 hours ago 0 replies      
Hey SeoxyS,

Another fan of your writings. I like the occasional quote you throw in there. However:

I don't agree with the way you phrased your headings. Verging on linkbait, even.

RCE is a hobby of mine and I crack all sorts of shit; it's fun and challenging. I know quite a few people who do.

This is the first time I have read such a blunt "I can crack your..."/"How to stop me" approach. It sounded very arrogant at first. No one else that I know bothers with this direct attitude. I am sure Mac devs are more than aware (Anticipating an article on this as a followup to your post).

"[...] but implementing a bare minimum of security will weed out 99% of amateurs. [...]"

I am not sure where you pulled that number from but it's false. RCE is not as difficult as you make it out to be, and amateurs can overcome the usual barriers quickly. Communities thrive on teaching amateurs the art, and they pick up these skills very quickly. I taught a few.

13 points by albertogh 18 hours ago 2 replies      
#ifdef DEBUG

    //do nothing


    ptrace(PT_DENY_ATTACH, 0, 0, 0);


I really have a hard time taking advice on copy protection from someone who doesn't known about ifndef.

Furthermore, PT_DENY_ATTACH won't help because any cracker worth is salt will just open the binary with an hex editor and remove the call to ptrace(). The other two tips to prevent cracking are, at best, as useless as this one.

And just in case you're wondering, those three methods are equally useless on iOS.

5 points by Locke1689 18 hours ago 0 replies      
Meh, decoding compiled C code is about just as easy for me. I wouldn't worry about it until it becomes a serious problem. The people who crack many apps in the scene are pretty decent at it and this will not slow them down.

Edit: Actually, they're not very good at it, but this still won't slow them down much.

5 points by dangero 9 hours ago 0 replies      
The App Store doesn't need high levels of security on your apps. No matter how much you obfuscate, it only takes one smart person to crack it and then your app is on all the bit torrent sites.

People will buy from the App Store because they want the protection it provides and the convenience. They know when they download your app from the app store that it's not a virus, the install will be one click simple, and Apple has hand reviewed and approved the app.

I think the Mac App Store protection is designed to be just enough to stop Average Joe from copying it onto a usb stick and giving it to his friend. In the end that's really what you want.

4 points by morganpyne 17 hours ago 2 replies      
Another fairly easy way to do this kind of thing is to use the DYLD_INSERT_LIBRARIES variable. You can reverse engineer the classnames with class-dump, subclass a class and override a suitable function e.g. IsLicenseValid() to just return true; You can then start your program and insert your new subclassed class into it like this:

$ DYLD_INSERT_LIBRARIES=/path/to/your/Subclassedlibrary.dylib arch -i386 /Applications/OriginalApp.app/Contents/MacOS/OriginalApp &

And on a sidenote, I thought it was funny to see him refer to something as 'badly spelt' - I thought that 'rye' remark was a bit 'corny' (rimshot :-)

4 points by bermanoid 12 hours ago 2 replies      
The great danger in the fight against piracy is that it's so damn interesting. You can spend months playing cat and mouse with the people trying to crack your schemes, ratcheting up the complexity to insane levels, and every time you come up with a new scheme and get it working you'll feel like a million bucks because you Won(tm).

But the people on the other side feel the same way, there are more of them, and in reality, they're not actually hurting your business as badly as your delusions tell you they are - none of them were ever going to buy your shit anyway.

Add features, improve your design, fix bugs, or tweak your shitty description and screen shots in the app store (which, in my experience, will affect sales for most apps more than the first three factors put together). Literally any time that you devote to copy protection is wasted, unless you're Angry Birds (and even then I'm not sure) you're not reaching anywhere near a high enough percentage of the people that would happily pay for your product to worry about the ones that would rather just take it.

1 point by jmillikin 17 hours ago 5 replies      
Near the end of the article, the author mentions that storing a digest of the binary is an effective means of protection. I've heard this before, but I've never understood how it works. There's two ways I can think of:

One is it just builds the binary, runs it through SHA1 (or whatever), and stores that digest somewhere in the installation directory. But what's stopping attackers from just changing the digest? They have access to the application, so they can know exactly how to generate the digest; all they have to do is run the bundled digest function in gdb, copy the output, and then search for it in the installation. Even if the author tried some sort of obfustication (xor, deflate, reverse, etc), such attempts would show up in the binary and could be trivially duplicated.

A second is that the digest is somehow pre-computed for a binary before it's built, then included in the binary itself. But I don't see how this is possible with secure digests. And if the method is simple enough that it's worth using for typical iOS applications, what prevents an attacker from pre-computing a digest for the cracked version?

3 points by ay 18 hours ago 1 reply      
Some people also view the windows as an invitation to throw the stones in, claiming they are too fragile to be of any protection anyway.

Next time you buy a DRM-ed book from Amazon.com, or watch a film you can not make a copy of, you can contemplate that the protection there is much better than in some Mac app.

Would that make you happier as a user ?

The way to solve this problem is to spend more time on adding more features into the frequently released newer versions of software. Cracking all the same basic reg code would get boring for a few-dollar app.

9 points by middus 18 hours ago 2 replies      
Well, that's more than just a shell.
2 points by lelele 5 hours ago 0 replies      
I think we are exploring the wrong issue here. We shouldn't be looking for a non-crackable scheme, we should be striving to find a scheme to recognize customers who are willing to pay and reward them.
1 point by andrewljohnson 15 hours ago 0 replies      
People crack and hack our apps. We don't think it's worth fighting.

And moreover, we have a link on our home page that says if you email us, we will give you our apps for free. Some people take advantage of this offer, but the vast majority of users do not.

1 point by mml 12 hours ago 0 replies      
I recall Intellij Idea IDE had some pretty decent protection. They used an "encrypting" class loader (of the xor variety), and also encrypted all their resource files. I have a lot of respect for the lengths they went to, though i'm not sure how much it benefitted them really.
1 point by dlsspy 17 hours ago 0 replies      
I wrote labrea for similarly playing with apps: http://dustin.github.com/2010/12/03/labrea.html

Specifically, the PT_DENY_ATTACH thing should be possible to be, itself, denied with labrea (though in practice, I've run into runtime linker problems with that exact call that I haven't quite figured out, but I haven't put much work into it).

1 point by pwim 15 hours ago 0 replies      
If your a developer for Apple, presumably you are selling your apps through the app store. Apple get's a cut of the revenue for apps. So if it was worthwhile to have a more complicated DRM scheme, wouldn't Apple provide it?
3 points by oniTony 17 hours ago 0 replies      
A much more interesting dive into exploring a binary's internals, at DEFCON CTF difficulty -- http://hackerschool.org/DefconCTF/17/B300.html
1 point by Kilimanjaro 14 hours ago 0 replies      
Price your app exactly at a point where people with money will gladly pay for it instead of suffer the hassle of downloading crapware-infested copies. And let people without money copy it freely without barriers, and see it as a marketing tool so everybody use your app, not your competitor's.

That price usually is between $0.99 and $9.99 and thank Apple for showing us that lesson.

1 point by EGreg 15 hours ago 1 reply      
I personally like the idea of an application "unlocking" itself every time based on a hash of its binary. You would have to find all the places these hashes are computed -- if you missed even one place, you wouldn't be able to unlock the app.

Of course, such an app could still be cracked -- as could any app... because all you have to do is

1) purchase a legitimate copy and enter a fake name
2) take a snapshot of a working, unlocked app
3) remove all the code that cripples that state

The only way to really prevent cracking of apps that run locally is either challenge-response dongles or requiring people to provide a strongly verified identity in order to unlock the app (that way the cracker can't distribute the app without compromising the identity of the original buyer). And that is just too inconvenient for the actual buyers. Once again, security at the price of convenience.

3 points by m0shen 18 hours ago 0 replies      
1 point by vinhboy 18 hours ago 0 replies      
Thanks for writing a detailed step by step tutorial on this interesting topic. I have always wanted to learn more about this stuff.
2 points by 16s 16 hours ago 0 replies      
Linking statically helps too (not sure that's doable with Apple) then stripping and packing.
2 points by jckarter 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Crackers aren't your customers. Don't waste time/money on them.
0 points by mobileed 16 hours ago 0 replies      
Amature crack for an amature protection.
-1 point by shashashasha 15 hours ago 0 replies      
Read this title as a Mario Kart reference. Oops.
“OK, but there are two rules…” andyswan.com
218 points by speek 4 days ago   72 comments top 25
40 points by redthrowaway 4 days 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 4 days 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 4 days 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 4 days 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.
5 points by davidmathers 4 days 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 4 days 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 4 days 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 4 days 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.

2 points by gfodor 4 days 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.

8 points by cdr 4 days ago 1 reply      
"Restrictions breed creativity" is hardly a new concept, but one worth repeating.
2 points by Eliezer 4 days 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 4 days 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.
5 points by ivey 4 days ago 2 replies      
And now I want bourbon.

Is 1:30 too early?

3 points by ambirex 4 days ago 0 replies      
Actually the runkeeper idea without any inputs sounds like a pretty interesting problem.
1 point by brianpan 4 days 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 4 days ago 0 replies      
Alcohol. It sells. Brand recognition helps as well.
1 point by blahblahblah 4 days 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 vilya 4 days 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 4 days ago 0 replies      
Jobs: Make it work with one button
1 point by bitwize 3 days 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.
4 points by bergie 4 days ago 1 reply      
Build a CMS, no forms allowed.
1 point by mcantor 4 days ago 0 replies      
Design is the successive application of constraints until only a unique product is left.

- Donald Norman, The Design of Everyday Things

4 points by littleidea 4 days ago 1 reply      

Be dismissive without rolling your eyes...

Ready? Go!

1 point by ctdonath 3 days ago 0 replies      
FYI: Knob Creek just announced their "Single Barrel Reserve".
0 points by bluekeybox 4 days 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).
Malware researcher Dancho Danchev gone missing since August zdnet.com
196 points by AndrewWarner 3 days ago   41 comments top 11
11 points by madmaze 3 days ago 0 replies      
This is worrisome, I am curious whether publicizing his case may make matters worse than better. I would also be curious to see if someone would manage to contact relatives or friends in the area,
2 points by EastSmith 1 day ago 0 replies      
According to Dnevnik.bg (http://www.dnevnik.bg/tehnologii/2011/01/17/1026425_ekspertu...):

Dancho Danchev, an expert on cybersecurity, is placed in a psychiatric hospital in Bulgaria. The information was confirmed by two sources of "Dnevnik", although the hospital refused to comment.



[...] according to reliable source of Dnevnik he was placed in a Bulgarian psychiatric hospital since December 11.

5 points by aquarin 3 days ago 1 reply      
It is quite common view of halogen lights wiring here (Bulgaria). I have the same in my bathroom. First photo is standard transformer and second photo is a job done by some electrician not doing his job well. I do not see anything suspicious. And yes, we are EU and NATO members. Most USA citizens visiting here happily spend they time and really enjoying the visit. Without more information what was the case with Dancho Danchev ("анчо "анчев) it is nothing more then paranoia.
3 points by mitko 3 days ago 0 replies      
In Bulgaria there is a list of people declared for national investigation (обявени за национално издирване). In this list there are people who need to be arrested, who need to be a witness in a case or who are missing(i.e. they are kidnapped or disapeared). If Dancho is truly missing since September then he should be on that list.

I tried to search for this list online but I couldn't find it (maybe it is not available yet). The article doesn't say anything about the official situation. It will be great if anyone can provide some official information.

10 points by updog 3 days ago 1 reply      
The ICC color profile in the PNG has a copyright string of Apple 2011. If he took them mid-last year, this doesn't make a ton of sense.

Perhaps someone at ZDNet re-saved them. If that is the case, they should release the originals.

3 points by nitrogen 3 days ago 3 replies      
The electronic transformer looks like it could be used for low-voltage lighting. The wires look like they're running into mini LED or halogen lights.
2 points by jimrandomh 2 days ago 0 replies      
Both of the images are large PNG files, which leaves lots of room for steganographic data. Given that they're meaningless if interpreted literally (but seem to vaguely hint at meaning, which makes them good as red herrings), that seems like the most likely interpretation.

So the question is, who has the key? It seems like if anyone has it, Ryan Naraine should. But if he did, his post would be quite different.

1 point by uptown 3 days ago 0 replies      
If "several" photographs were attached to his pleas for help, why did they elect to only include two of them?
5 points by wang-chung 3 days ago 1 reply      
A simple explanation of the transformer/wires is that he could be documenting an attempt to electrocute him.
3 points by LordLandon 3 days ago 0 replies      
Why is “current situation in my bathroom” in quotes like that?
-1 point by runjake 2 days ago 1 reply      
I don't mean to insult Mr. Danchev, but let's not dismiss the most obvious answer: He may be having psychological issues or otherwise be pulling some shenanigans.

There's no evidence to suggest otherwise at this point in time. The pictures don't suggest anything to me and he's perfectly capable of not answering the phone, email, or instant messages.

I hope he is ok, both physically and mentally.

Garry Tan moving on from Posterous and joining YC garry.posterous.com
196 points by j_baker 3 days ago   34 comments top 13
39 points by jw84 3 days ago 2 replies      
I remember Garry, like me, arrived early at the Y Combinator pre-party. He had long hair, kind of like every other Asian friend I had so I figured he must be really smart. Stanford smart.

I shook his hand and he introduced himself as getting an interview slot too. Naturally we conferred and compared notes. Mine was something weird, a scheduling software--we haven't decided yet. His was a photo blog. Well like a photo blog, but easier, the kicker is you only manage it through email.

Oh, I said. That sounds... interesting. Since I was young that was go-to answer for any pitch. The less he explained the more compelling it was. Blogging for your grandma, blogging that anyone can do, blogging that's accessible. I remember asking how long he's been working on it, he said for a few months. I smiled and said he's probably going to get funded.

I didn't, it was my fifth try and became my last.

Throughout the years Posterous' engineering skills, design skills, and marketing skills have made the platform really awesome. Reading his blog, learning his thought process, and seeing the passion he puts into his work, it's inspiring. Very inspiring.

Blogging for grandmas is such a good idea, it's carved a great niche amongst giants WordPress, Blogger, and Tubmlr, and it's growing as a company.

Our career paths took really drastic divergence but seeing what you've done in the past three years is one of the examples of the immense potential working in our little crazy world.

Congrats and good luck.

58 points by ptn 3 days ago 1 reply      
Congrats, Garry! Could you please make the arrows here on HN bigger? I keep clicking the wrong one. Thanks.
8 points by thesethings 3 days ago 0 replies      
I'm super happy for Garry, but for selfish reasons, I'm bummed out.

I feel like a band i really like was in the studio working on a new album, and a songwriter just left.

I guess i was waiting for another shoe to drop in terms of the realization of the Posterous vision.

Anyway... congrats to Garry. I saw his TWIST interview a while ago, and thought he seemed really nice and had really interesting ideas.

9 points by portman 3 days ago 2 replies      
This is great. I hope that 2-3 years from now we see large numbers of "designers in residence" at VCs and incubators.

See also Jason Putorti's gig (now over) at Bessemer:


19 points by btipling 3 days ago 3 replies      
Does this mean posterous isn't doing well?
14 points by jolie 3 days ago 0 replies      
Very deft career move, Garry. You'll have more access to more people, see more fresh ideas, and have a much larger megaphone.

Y-C's gonna be awesome for you, but I really can't wait to see what comes next. =)

9 points by danielha 3 days ago 0 replies      
Wow, congrats Garry and have fun!
2 points by b3b0p 3 days ago 0 replies      
Garry reached out to me for an interview with Posterous. Although, I didn't get the position in the end I was stoked about the fact he even contacted me in the first place. Thanks Gary! And good luck on your future endeavors with YC!
2 points by jonathanjaeger 3 days ago 0 replies      
I'm a Posterous user - I personally enjoy the features and layout. I don't necessarily use it for the community aspect, so I can't really compare it to Tumblr in that respect. I have no use for the email function, so I'm glad they incorporated many other aspects that would appeal to me personally.

I was also surprised at how quickly I got a response via a customer service request. Nice.

Congrats to Garry Tan - I always equated him to Posterous since I saw him on This Week in Startups. Hope to hear more about his newest endeavors.

4 points by iamclovin 3 days ago 0 replies      
Congrats Garry! Looking forward to more awesomeness.
1 point by chrisbroadfoot 3 days ago 0 replies      
Good move, I think!

I'm glad you'll be able to provide high impact work to many startups.

3 points by tommy_mcclung 3 days ago 0 replies      
Congrats Gary! Woo!
3 points by hank53 3 days ago 0 replies      
This is a good move. I think Posterous has plateau
W3C HTML5 Logo Unveiled w3.org
192 points by hakim 3 hours ago   57 comments top 29
51 points by pclark 2 hours ago 2 replies      
Wow, I was prepared to mock it after seeing that w3.org actually had to design something, but it's rather good.
34 points by cstuder 3 hours ago 1 reply      
I don't know why, but it puts a smile on my face. I guess, the logo shows some confidence previously unassociated with boring standard bodies.
5 points by efsavage 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Wow. I actually doubled-checked the location bar to see if this was the real deal or just some designer take on it.

It's a really great logo, definitely "with the times" with the bold, sharp lines and flat colors. I'm not sure I'll be putting it on any websites, since I don't think most users care or understand markup versioning, but grats to w3c for doing something that doesn't look like it came out of a committee of phds and marketroids.

15 points by kmfrk 2 hours ago 0 replies      
I have to say that I find the icons to be really, really ridiculous.

It doesn't look like something someone hired from outside did, and the HTML5 logo looks like the header on a Tutsplus vector tutorial.

Most of the different icons have very poor symbolic value, and look really unintelligible.

They could do a lot worse, so that's always something.

8 points by lwhi 2 hours ago 3 replies      
I'm not certain I like it.

Think about its purpose; it needs to work with a huge range of styles, each of which will have specific and varied audiences.

The choices made (collegiate typeface / bright orange) are quite bold; I don't think it lends itself to sympathetically supporting a broad range of differing styles of design.

Also, when this is used, it's likely to be quite small - the gap between the tail of the '5' and its upper curve is slight. I think it will have a tendency to resemble a '6' at smaller resolutions.

Maybe I'm being too negative, but on top of all this I don't think it looks visually appealing or balanced. I don't think the proportions (forced perspective / surrounding gap vs. typeface weight) are pleasing to look at.

But then again, maybe once we see it everywhere, it's ubiquity will create new associations and familiarity will win out.

8 points by citricsquid 2 hours ago 0 replies      

Not yet. W3C introduced this logo in January 2011 with the goal of building community support. W3C has not yet taken it up in any official capacity. If, as W3C hopes, the community embraces the logo, W3C will adopt it as its own official logo for HTML5 in the first quarter of 2011."

6 points by bitwize 40 minutes ago 0 replies      
Looks like the Autobot insignia.

Is this a declaration of solidarity against the evil forces of the Flashicons?

9 points by simias 2 hours ago 2 replies      
Is that how HTMTL5 websites are supposed to look like? With the cluttered layout, the various fonts and sizes, the flashy colours and the interactive content I find this page incredibly difficult to parse. It's hard for me to extract the important informations from the text. Is it really about the new logo? What's the deal with the "HTML5 semantics" on the middle? I know nothing of web development, so I have no idea what this means.

I could also question the need of... 2^8 variations of the same logo (the "build a logo" thingy).

EDIT: fixed typo

1 point by antidaily 11 minutes ago 0 replies      
Logo's available in SVG - a reminder that I have no idea how to use SVG.
1 point by Griever 9 minutes ago 0 replies      
HTML5 Badges: The E-Peen of 2011.
1 point by tjmaxal 13 minutes ago 0 replies      
What no Favicon? or did I miss it?
2 points by nchlswu 2 hours ago 0 replies      
Without considering the context, the logo itself is pretty good. I like the badge/custom badge and related components. Overall though, I don't like it. I don't think it's a fitting logo (the superman/superhero comparisons are what come to mind to me as well).

The logo treatments and website seem like a contrived effort design a logo to whatever the designers believe is the "HTML5 Design Aesthetic." Sure, rich content and all, but HTML5 (and related technologies, like this logo is supposed to imply) shouldn't be represented by over contemporary design.

Interestingly, the logo is not the "official" logo. On paper, it's just the community logo - and it will only officially be adopted if it gets enough grassroots support.

Is this W3C's "official" logo for HTML5?

Not yet. W3C introduced this logo in January 2011 with the goal of building community support. W3C has not yet taken it up in any official capacity. If, as W3C hopes, the community embraces the logo, W3C will adopt it as its own official logo for HTML5 in the first quarter of 2011.

7 points by gurraman 2 hours ago 2 replies      
Anyone know who made it?
1 point by cemregr 1 hour ago 0 replies      
I'm surprised, the active states of the icons seem to be buggy in the latest chrome for Mac:
1 point by JonnieCache 1 hour ago 0 replies      
I really like it. It looks acceptably corporate, but it has a hint of the whole 'unicorns are awesome!' early-adopter-webdev aesthetic that will put a smile on the face of the people who actually use html5 day to day, and evangelise for it.

Sort of like dog whistle politics but used for good :)

1 point by jcromartie 1 hour ago 0 replies      
This actually makes me more excited about HTML5.

That, and learning that Netflix on the PS3 is a HTML5/WebKit implementation. I'm sold.

1 point by nhangen 1 hour ago 0 replies      
This looks like something you'd see on a Transformer, not a professional logo for a new web standard. I think it's good for what it is, unfortunately that "what it is" isn't what should represent HTML5.
1 point by p0ppe 1 hour ago 0 replies      
You probably can't trademark a five-pointed star in a circle, but that part of the logo immediately got me thinking of Daring Fireball.
1 point by xbryanx 25 minutes ago 0 replies      
I do like the impact of the logo, but am I the only one who thinks it's a bit too "military?"
9 points by QuantumDoja 3 hours ago 1 reply      
Reminds me of Transformers
1 point by leftnode 1 hour ago 0 replies      
I like it. How long until it's implemented using CSS3?
4 points by shankx 2 hours ago 1 reply      
It looks lot like Superman's Logo (The one that's on his shirt)
2 points by d0m 2 hours ago 0 replies      
I find it looks quite ugly honestly. The logos on the bottom are much better.
1 point by j4mie 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Nice article by Jeremy Keith on why this logo creates and propagates confusion between HTML5 and CSS3:


2 points by TheCoreh 2 hours ago 2 replies      
It's super strange that this page itself is HTML5. Doesn't W3C have a policy of only publishing documents using standards already in the "Recommendation" stage?
3 points by cplamper 2 hours ago 0 replies      
That's awesome and vastly superior to other w3c logos.
1 point by gsivil 3 hours ago 0 replies      
It is finally out. I guess we will be living with that for some time. I do not mean to be grumpy but something with a bit more curves would be more appealing or representative of the new design era.
1 point by axod 2 hours ago 2 replies      
was there an html4 logo? why do we need an html5 logo?
1 point by dheerosaur 3 hours ago 0 replies      
The icon for "Device Access" looks very similar to an apple. Does a square apple mean anything? :)
Why Minecraft Matters crunchgear.com
189 points by solipsist 2 days ago   79 comments top 18
47 points by ugh 2 days ago 3 replies      
Minecraft's story is even more impressive than the article makes it seem. The game was not developed by a few people, it was developed by one guy (“Notch”). He hired six people only recently and they started working together around Winter 2010/2011.

He now gets help with the business and support side of running a company but only one of the developers he hired is working on the game with him together. The other developer is getting their next game up and running.

What's also interesting is that Notch does not want to run the business, at least not at the scale at which it is now. He hired people to do that for him.

24 points by Goladus 2 days ago 4 replies      
The reason you should care is because a team of four or five people using free libraries and cross-platform tools have just made a mockery of the last five years of franchise-oriented, $50 million budget, yearly-release, AAA game development.

Eh, I would not say that. Minecraft is not seriously competing with AAA big-budget titles like God of War. They have completely different audiences. Yes, GoW is extraordinarily expensive to create, but it offers a gameplay experience that Minecraft doesn't and never will. Or at least, by the time minecraft can procedurally generate an experience like GoW, the big-budget AAA franchises will have moved on to something flashier.

And certain franchise titles are attractive because of the licensing, eg the NFL. That is unfortunate but not something the gaming industry can do much about immediately.

19 points by SirWart 2 days ago 2 replies      
To me, the more interesting part about minecraft's success is that it gets a lot of people doing things that look like work to me for fun. Also, it does this with a high learning curve and without using any kind of reward schedule mechanics that are in vogue now. As far as I can tell (and I've only watched others play), the appeal is based on the joy of creation and sharing your creations, and the difficulty of it actually enhances the experience. It just seems so fresh compared to what everyone else is doing.
15 points by klbarry 2 days ago 2 replies      
An interesting note here for those of who who like Minecraft: There has been another sandbox game called Dwarf Fortress out for a while now, which Notch said he used as a big inspiration for Minecraft. Dwarf Fortress lets you build out your world in millions of unique ways, liquid flow mechanics are accurate, gravity, civilization actions, pretty much everything.

However, one huge warning: The learning curve is 100 times harder than Minecrafts, and the base art for he game is asci!(although you can upgrade it with user made graphic packs) It will also take all of your processing power.

6 points by solipsist 2 days ago 0 replies      
Notch seems to be adopting Google's 10% time (to some extent), but rather with 50% time.

   "Because I want to avoid us just focusing on reaching release,
I suggested that we should dedicate 50% of the development time
in Minecraft towards adding fun new stuff. Basically, any developer
working on the game (two people at the moment) can just come up with
something they'd want to add on a day-to-day basis, as long as the
rest of the team thinks it's a decent idea. If it ends up being fun,
it gets added." [1]

Sure, that 50% time will still be spent working on Minecraft. But it won't be the same as the other 50% time when the developers are trying to reach deadlines and so forth. I think that Notch is now taking control of how the company functions, which is a good thing. Before, it was just him and there was nothing but meeting deadlines. Now that he has more people to help him, he can focus on fun things like this.

[1] - http://notch.tumblr.com/post/2687176736/information-dump-inc...

8 points by solipsist 2 days ago 2 replies      

   "Braid and Minecraft are both examples of how a few good
ideas, executed in an accessible and affordable way, will
outsell franchises by orders of magnitude."

This just about sums it up. Many indie developers are harnessing potential new game genres. They're finding low-budget ways to create addictive games with a high chance of becoming viral. They're finding classic ideas to expand on and platforms to build off of. Big game publishers are failing to do this. They'll spend tons of money, yet lack the innovation to break through in these new areas of the market.

8 points by zitterbewegung 2 days ago 2 replies      
This is a great article on techcrunch on why the gaming industry needs to wake up and try new things and not keep on going for IP that has already been done before again and again. Sometimes gamers actually want new and fresh games not the next FPS.
2 points by kmfrk 1 day ago 0 replies      
I think it's ridiculous to use one game like Minecraft to announce a new era for videogame developers. Who's to say Minecraft wasn't an anomaly, a result of a ridiculously talented person like Notch and a perfect storm of hype and word-of-mouth PR?

> Why it matters


> Sounds interesting, you say, but why should I care that a few guys have put together a cool little indie game? The reason you should care is because a team of four or five people using free libraries and cross-platform tools have just made a mockery of the last five years of franchise-oriented, $50 million budget, yearly-release, AAA game development. And it's not just a fluke. The Humble Indie Bundle, World of Goo, Braid, and a number of other extremely low-budget titles have electrified the gaming community, while games with millions in marketing budget like APB and Kane & Lynch fall flat on their face critically and commercially. Gamer discontent with these barren blockbusters is palpable, and Minecraft is the new poster boy for it.

Oh, they've "electrified the gaming community", have they? But how well are they doing financially?

Apple's App Store has enough successful apps to give developers hope, but the PC videogame scene needs more data points, before I'll start considering going "indie", as the kids call it.

How well does Minecraft do in terms of protection against piracy? I haven't heard a lot about it, and considering games like the aforementioned World of Goo's problems with it[1].

This is like saying that the success of Audiosurf on Steam ushered in a new era that developers would now be able to repeat. Steam has definitely made a big different, but everyone, calm down and take a deep breath for a second.

Notch is a friggin' wizard, and as much as people will try to reverse engineer its success, don't try to create a trend graph with one data point. I think it'd be devastating to give aspiring developers the impression that the road to success has been paved. Notch has found a way, but he hasn't paved it for the rest of us.

[1]: http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2008/11/14/world-of-goo-vs-p...

5 points by kayoone 2 days ago 0 replies      
Notch is a really refreshing person. Instead of all the wannabe-entrepreneurs that want to build apps/games for money (mostly), he just seems to really enjoy what hes doing. I also think all the money doesnt mean too much to him, other than he now has the freedom to only do "fun stuff".
The fact that he doesnt want to run the business and just keep coding underlines that even more.
2 points by sliverstorm 2 days ago 1 reply      
But it also doesn't have ... a scruffy 30-ish white protagonist, ... or any of the other hundred things that plague gamers in practically every major release.

I find myself thinking only of Half Life and Portal. Half Life, in which people were crazy about Gordon Freeman (and he fit the part) and Portal, which did not do this in the slightest.

Has it become conspicuously common? I've fallen a bit out of touch with modern games.

4 points by Tycho 2 days ago 1 reply      
Jeez, someone cut APB some slack. It may have been a flop but it was hardly your run-of-the-mill linear action game.
1 point by hugh3 1 day ago 0 replies      
A point that seems to be missed is that Minecraft is a niche game. That niche is geeks. Now, that may be quite a profitable niche to exploit, but a game which is essentially about building things out of blocks will never have the mainstream appeal of a God Of War or an Angry Birds.
1 point by InclinedPlane 2 days ago 0 replies      
I've long thought that new tools (especially procedurally generated content) will pave the way for a new era of game design that allows much, much smaller teams to create top tier games. It's a lot more difficult to express an artistic vision through a large and complex bureaucratically controlled organization than it is to express it through a small group or an individual (compare the artistic quality of books written by a single author vs. by committees, etc.)

Moreover, the incredibly high cost of production of many modern games limits the sorts of games that get made. Minecraft level sales are barely enough to cover the costs of making a game at a company like EA or Activision.

Hopefully Notch's success will lead to the development of Minecraft as a highly modable platform for roughly similar games and also to the development of new low-cost game systems that produce no less enthralling experiences.

1 point by JeanPierre 2 days ago 0 replies      
Something interesting to note is that this would've been extremely much harder to do in 2000. Small companies and one-man teams would have a hard time publishing games and gain enough ground to stand a chance against the giants at that time.

And when we look at the quality from that time period - A little over a decade ago - games like Diablo, Starcraft, Quake (2) and Unreal were the ones with the best quality. With a bit of effort, indie developers and startups these days can easily beat the quality they had.

If this continues, what will we see in 2020? As the quality a game can achieve converges towards some limit (At least I'm assuming so), will indie games be more and more common and actually manage to make games that will challenge big-budget franchises?

4 points by mmb 2 days ago 1 reply      
I like that Minecraft is proof you can write something cool in Java, a language considered by many to be corporate and boring.

All Java haters should watch the video of Notch coding away in Eclipse.

1 point by mkramlich 2 days ago 0 replies      
Minecraft is awesome. But nothing about it's business or distribution model is new. I was playing computer games I got from "The Net" (well, back then, it was BBS's-over-modems) that were (a) made by a single guy and/or small team, and (b) sold directly (or mostly so) and/or pirated. Now, this thing is awesome and he did a hell of a job at overall game design and coding. But this meme I've seen going around how the fact that it's the work of basically one guy is some new new thing: it's not.
2 points by Roritharr 2 days ago 0 replies      
This fits right into the pattern we've seen in the game development scene for the last two years. It's getting cheaper and easier for indie gamers to go from zero to hero every day.
If you look at tools like Unity3D then its easy to imagine that the dream of so many people to be able to get a sustainable income from gamedevelopment AND gamedesign(people working as a coding monkey at EA aren't really living the dream, are they?) is closer than ever.

In a while i'll show HN my project relating to this. :)

0 points by Joakal 2 days ago 2 replies      
FPS + Farmville = Profit?
Arbor.js - HTML5 graph visualization library arborjs.org
185 points by fish2000 5 days ago   37 comments top 19
6 points by _sh 5 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 5 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 5 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 5 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 5 days ago 1 reply      
These remind me of flash stuff on praystation.com 10 years ago!
4 points by daviding 5 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...
5 points by rexreed 5 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 5 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?
2 points by jlongster 5 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.
1 point by pamelafox 5 days 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 dmvaldman 5 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 5 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...

1 point by va_coder 5 days ago 0 replies      
This is very cool. Unfortunately browsers in many corporate environments don't support this or springy.
2 points by omerkudat 5 days 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 5 days 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 5 days ago 1 reply      
No documentation in the docs node?
1 point by jacabado 5 days ago 0 replies      
What about a website structure representation?

(I'm working on it)

1 point by taylorbuley 5 days ago 0 replies      
I'm going to have to pick up web workers
-1 point by Klonoar 5 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.

Top Mistakes in Behavior Change slideshare.net
178 points by benreyes 3 days ago   27 comments top 8
55 points by halo 3 days ago 8 replies      
The slides in text form:

1. Relying on willpower for long-term change

- Imagine willpower doesn't exist.

2. Attempting big leaps instead of baby steps

- Seek tiny successes, one after another

3. Ignoring how environment shapes behaviors

- Change your life and change your context

4. Trying to stop old behaviors instead of creating new ones

- Focus on action, not avoidance

5. Blaming failures of lack of motivation

- Make the behavior easier to do

6. Underestimating the power of triggers

- No behavior happens without a trigger

7. Believing information leads to action

- We humans aren't so rational

8. Focusing on abstract goals more than concrete behaviors

- Abstract: Get in shape. Concrete: Walk 15 min. today

9. Seeking to changea behavior forever, not for a short time

- A fixed period works better than "forever"

10. Assuming that behavior change is difficult.

- Behavior change is not so hard when you have the right process

Can anyone expand on what they mean by 3 and 6?

6 points by techiferous 2 days ago 0 replies      
I would add:

#11: Not realizing you can't imagine your future accurately.

Some changes you make are so significant it's like you are playing a whole new game. If you don't realize this, then you will not be a good judge of whether to make the change.

For example, let's say you enjoy playing basketball. Someone comes up holding a football and invites you to play football. You don't realize that he's talking about a new game with new rules and a new environment. You look at his oddly-shaped ball and imagine yourself trying to dribble that ball down the court. You conclude that you wouldn't enjoy football.

I've made numerous significant life changes, among them becoming vegan and going car-free. Both of those decisions are game-changing and so it's really hard to imagine yourself making those changes; you really have to just try it for a while before making up your mind.

For veganism, I often hear people say "I could never give up X" or "What do you eat?". They imagine themselves no longer eating their favorite foods, not realizing that after adjusting to veganism their palate will change and they'll have different favorite foods. And they also don't realize the abundance of vegan foods out there because they've never had an incentive to look, so they just assume they'd be eating salads all the time.

Ditching my car was another game-changer. I wouldn't recommend doing this unless you are in a well-designed city. I moved from Norfolk, Virginia to Boston, Massachusetts and ditched my car in the process. If I had imagined myself in the environment of Norfolk without a car, I would have never been tempted to do so. But I had visited Boston and also had lived for a while in Germany without a car and so I knew what it was like to live in a well-designed city without a car. Even so, I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of cost and inconvenience I was getting rid of by not having a car: no more gas-filling eating away my time and money, no more large key fobs filling up my pockets, no more having to ask my friends if they know a good mechanic, no more driving around forever looking for a parking space, etc. etc. All the inconveniences of owning a car were somewhat invisible beforehand and they didn't become quite so apparent until after actually ditching the car.

tl;dr: if you're making a significant life change, you can't accurately imagine what your new situation will be like by extrapolating from your past experiences.

3 points by dkarl 2 days ago 0 replies      
I think "#2 Attempting big leaps instead of baby steps" should be changed. Attempting big leaps can be very educational and motivational if you're realistic about the fact that you're going to backslide. Making a big change for a week or two while you're highly motivated feels great and establishes some new habits and memories that will be useful to you later when you're having a hard time. It's also a great opportunity to try out new behaviors that are unknown and scary to you. When your motivation and interest are not so high, you will not be able to keep up the changes, but you will benefit from having removed the uncertainty and the first-time inhibition from your new behaviors and activities, and your idea of what _you_ can accomplish will be forever broadened.
9 points by j_baker 3 days ago 1 reply      
Thank you. Nothing annoys me more than people who blame everything on lack of willpower and motivation.
6 points by weirdcat 3 days ago 2 replies      
It's like a highly condensed version of Switch (http://heathbrothers.com/switch/, highly recommended)
3 points by jcro41 2 days ago 0 replies      
I looked through the site and found this: http://www.behaviorwizard.org/wp/behavior-grid/

It really makes you think about behavior change in a much clearer way.

2 points by Mz 3 days ago 0 replies      
RE: halo's text summary -- the slides themselves are just text. There are no inspirational pics or anything. You can skip the presentation once you've read his post.

But I think this list leaves out the important detail of understanding/addressing root causes.

-2 points by kilian 3 days ago 0 replies      
Paraphrased: try something new. If it doesn't work, no biggie.

Sound advice.

Projects: hijack (Hijacking the iPhone earphone jack) umich.edu
178 points by dholowiski 3 days ago   40 comments top 13
17 points by nihilocrat 3 days ago 0 replies      
Pheh, they forgot the best application ever: iPhone-controlled vibrator:


I was at a presentation by the app's creator, apparently the hardware was already available through some company, so you could theoretically do it with any device that outputs to a headphone jack. The iPhone's touch interface simply provided a ... unique and apparently (don't ask me!) expressive method of control.

7 points by unoti 3 days ago 2 replies      
That's truly amazing what they're doing here. I'm sorry if this is an ignorant question, but wouldn't it make sense for there to be some kind of USB port or something that's actually designed for I/O on the iPhone? I mean, surely there'd be less power loss if the port was actually designed to power other low power devices. Especially if it could mean that you don't need as powerful of an external microcontroller for doing the hacking and encoding that's necessary for doing all the work-arounds from not having a real IO port.
5 points by noonespecial 3 days ago 0 replies      
Wow, that's a hell of a hack just because your smartphone maker wants to rent-seek your serial port.
4 points by Timothee 3 days ago 1 reply      
I think it's a very interesting project. I've been very interested in things that combine hardware with smart phones, since the Apple keynote that showed the first authorized hardware "extensions". (though since then, I've been disappointed in not seeing much of anything)

However, can anyone chime in about the differences there are between using the iPhone jack and using the dock connector? I know you're supposed to fill out some docs with Apple to officially hack on the dock connector, but I believe you can find hardware to do that without Apple's consent. It looks like one would have to go the jailbreak route with that project as well.

I imagine the main thing is that a hobbyist can much more easily/cheaply get a jack connector than a dock connector...

4 points by frankus 3 days ago 2 replies      
Also check out the Southern Stars SkyWire. Apparently it's a true RS-232 I/O cable that plugs into the dock connector. They use it to drive telescopes, but apparently it's not limited to that.


I've gotten as far as opening an input and output stream with it, but I haven't had time to dig up an RS-232 device to try talking back and forth.

7 points by jrockway 3 days ago 3 replies      
Now if only you were permitted to write software to take advantage of the cool hardware you build.
2 points by acgourley 3 days ago 0 replies      
7.4mW is more power than I would have thought possible. That is really cool. Plus with some additional hackery you may be able harvest up to double by toggling the second audio channel on and off when you don't need to receive data from the phone.

I'm going to put together a board based on their specs. If anyone in the bay area is interested in collaborating on a project with it shoot me an email.

5 points by joe_bleau 3 days ago 0 replies      
Clever idea, using the audio output as a power supply.
2 points by joezydeco 3 days ago 0 replies      
The O'Reilly "iPhone Hacks" book has schematics and sample code to push RS-232 in and out of the headphone jack. You'll need a self-powered device to decode FSK on the other end, of course.
3 points by nickolai 3 days ago 2 replies      
Cool project!

Currently, I am a bit doubtful concerning whether drawing extra power from an already very battery lifetime-constrained smartphone is a good idea.

On the other hand, the batteries shold improve in the future, so with a bit of luck the idea may just as well come to maturity at the right time!

2 points by theschwa 3 days ago 0 replies      
Does anyone have information on doing something like this wirelessly? Provided your sensor has its own power source, couldn't you use the fm receiver built into a lot of phones to receive data from an external sensor?
2 points by chanux 3 days ago 0 replies      
HiJack in full case reminded of square. https://squareup.com
1 point by TimothyBurgess 3 days ago 0 replies      
Maaaaan I had this idea over 2 years ago... except my ideas revolved more around robotics. I wish I was a bit older so I had the resources (money) and time to work on these kinds of ideas that I have. Previously, all my time was consumed by school/internship/band (I was a signed, professional touring musician). And now all my time is consumed by getting my startup going... in the hopes that it will eventually be somewhat self-sustaining enough to cover my living costs while giving me time to pursue these other more interesting ideas. Sigh... sorry for the rant that I'm sure no one cares to read.
Facebook Now Shares Phone Number & Address With Third-Party Apps readwriteweb.com
176 points by rwwmike 1 day ago   76 comments top 17
25 points by joe_the_user 1 day ago 0 replies      
As I recall, Facebook still won't let the app/script that I run myself save the email addresses of my friends that they choose to share with me (I can manually save each shared email-address of each friend of my hundred friends but the terms of service prohibit any bulk downloading of this information).

So the assumption is that I, as a user, am naturally more willing to share my contact information with anonymous application X than I am with my friends.

Naturally, this is indeed a transparent effort at lock-in.

35 points by ssclafani 1 day ago 5 replies      
Less sensational headline: Facebook Now Allows You to Share Your Phone Number & Address With Third-Party Apps
20 points by motters 1 day ago 2 replies      
I seem to remember that not so long ago it was standard advice not to give out your address or phone number to people you don't know on the internet.
24 points by beoba 1 day ago 5 replies      
Where's the option to choose which items get sent? Looks like all or nothing.
3 points by EGreg 1 day ago 2 replies      
I've been developing Facebook Connect applications for a long time, and I'm wondering - hasn't facebook had this feature already for email addresses?

One of the permissions read:
"Send me email" (optional: send through a facebook proxy)

So now, you can also let the apps know phone number through the graph? I don't find that too big of a step. CAN-SPAM still applies. Perhaps they should set up proxies for the phone number, though.

What I find more funny is that ReadWriteWeb writes:

"Thankfully, this sort of information cannot be shared via your friends' careless actions, unlike other profile information."

which is in direct opposition to the attitude that blogs had on the same issue when Google complained that facebook was "trapping your contacts" by not letting you export them. Now they are thankful facebook doesn't do this :)

4 points by FirstHopSystems 1 day ago 0 replies      
With a multi-billion dollar valuation, I'm sure that the majority of Facebook's value is in all information it gathers about you. Is this any surprise to anyone? One way or another Facebook is trying to monetize your info. Maybe it's just me but there always seem to be some kind of news fading away about Facebook privacy. I'm my theory that's why they are worth so much. Don't think they are going to stop doing this anytime soon.

Opt-out..hahaha maybe opt-out of only the really obvious ways Facebook is selling your info.

1 point by rwwmike 9 hours ago 0 replies      
2 points by andysinclair 1 day ago 2 replies      
But how many people have added their full address and phone number to their Facebook profiles anyway? I would bet that the majority of people have their city/town set and not their full address and won't have specified their phone number at all.

However, this really could be quite useful if used legitimately, i.e. Facebook commerce, having shipping address available; location aware apps etc.

2 points by mobileed 1 day ago 1 reply      
No, Facebook doesn't share this information - you do! Let's be clear here. Those who are dumb enough to put their PII data on Facebook and the alike are sharing their information. My God, can we stop blaming someone else for our stupidity?
1 point by itsnotvalid 1 day ago 0 replies      
So from now on, we need to remove two more items from our profile.

Well, as long as we are not allowed to partially denie permission requests (which of course would make certain apps not able to share our information to other third parties)

1 point by tlack 1 day ago 0 replies      
I wonder if Facebook developed this functionality to aide companies bringing their ecommerce efforts directly onto Facebook (as Amazon and hundreds of others are now doing).
1 point by celticjames 1 day ago 2 replies      
You know who else shares my phone number and address? The phone book!
1 point by samic 10 hours ago 0 replies      
there is always a problem with facebook! I can't trust them ever!
1 point by JasonPunyon 1 day ago 0 replies      
-1 point by beaumartinez 1 day ago 1 reply      
ReadWriteWeb-sponsered submission? Check the URL, it has a tracking string (for want of a better word) with "hackernews".
0 points by shankx 8 hours ago 0 replies      
When somebody knocks at your door, peep through the peephole first. It might be some stalker who got your address from an app.
0 points by ChipsAndSalsa 1 day ago 2 replies      
The idea of allowing users to control what individual permissions they have is good in theory, very hard in practice. It faces two main challenges that I can think of:

1) There are UI issues that have been raised elsewhere in this thread - mainly, that users get confused when shown a set of complex options. Having watched usability studies where users are given a lot of relatively complex options, I'd suspect that a model where users have to pick among the permissions to give an app is going to fail massively (ie, user turns on everything without actually understanding anything, turns off everything by default or just cancels out of the app install altogether.) A model where apps request permissions right when it's needed will be annoying users with all the dialogs needed.

2) Some apps don't work if they don't get all the permissions they need (imagine an address book app for an email program - if you don't get email address it just doesn't work.) Adding a lot of conditionals to change how your app works based on what permissions they get can be expensive and adds a lot of unnecessary test cases.

In my opinion, Facebook's decision give more granular permissions, but to make it an all or nothing proposition allows them to protect their users by removing spammy/malicious apps, and simplifies the applications built on their platform . This puts responsibility on them to actively remove malicious applications, and on developers to pick only the permissions they need. Given that users tend to make bad decisions given a set of complex options that they don't understand, it seems like they made a rational choice. AppStores on the various phone platforms have a similar decision to make as to how to best protect users from apps, and there isn't consensus as to the best model in that arena either.

They do need to step up their activity to remove malicious apps in light of giving regular applications this option.

A Comfy Helvetica frontpage for Hacker News jottit.com
173 points by godDLL 5 days ago   88 comments top 29
26 points by andrewljohnson 5 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.

41 points by jerf 5 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 5 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 5 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 5 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 5 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 5 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 5 days 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.

6 points by spitfire 5 days ago 2 replies      
Use this, please.

Oh and add a real search option.

Thank you.

5 points by taylorbuley 5 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..
3 points by calbear81 5 days 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...

4 points by jqueryin 5 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 5 days 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.
2 points by jjguy 5 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 5 days ago 1 reply      
Nice. I've added this for the comment reply pages:

    td[bgcolor="#FF6600"] {

1 point by citricsquid 5 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.
1 point by yason 5 days 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 5 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 5 days 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 5 days 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 wookiehangover 5 days 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 diamondhead 5 days 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 Kilimanjaro 5 days ago 0 replies      
I'd like a bigger font like in http://www.hackerblogs.com/
1 point by shortlived 5 days ago 1 reply      
It looks like you changed the header color before the redesign -- how?
1 point by hbt 4 days ago 1 reply      
If we're sharing awesome designs, I own all of you ;-)


1 point by Breefield 5 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 jhrobert 5 days ago 0 replies      
I had no clue such things were even "possible" using CSS, thanks!
1 point by sgt 4 days ago 0 replies      
I for one welcome our new Helvetica overlords.
1 point by jaredstenquist 4 days ago 0 replies      
Much Thanks, especially from my eyes. PG's CSS coder needs to use something bigger than 10px!
Applications Open For Summer 2011 YC Funding Cycle ycombinator.com
169 points by pg 1 day ago   57 comments top 20
29 points by pg 1 day ago 2 replies      
We added two new questions this year: Why did you pick this project to work on? and How will you get users? In retrospect it's surprising we didn't already ask these. (When reading applications we found we were trying to reconstruct answers to them from the answers people gave to other questions.)

We also stopped describing the video as optional. In practice it wasn't.

15 points by bkrausz 1 day ago 2 replies      
Random question: what would you guys like to hear/know about applying (or YC in general) that's not already out there? I've been considering writing a blog post about GazeHawk's YC experience, but there are so many good ones already, and I don't want to just add redundancy. Anything unanswered from a startup perspective you'd like to know?
5 points by jamroom 1 day ago 1 reply      
Does YC usually only accept new (i.e. early stage startup) companies? We've been online for almost 8 years now, and we have a new product we're really excited about. We already have demo code for the new product, not to mention an existing product that we've been selling since we started. So for us, the mentoring and feedback from other founders and YC would be invaluable, much more so then any investment (we're already self funded).

Just curious if there is anyone that has gone through YC with an established company, and how that worked out for you.


15 points by qasar 1 day ago 0 replies      
even if you're not interested in YC, i recommend going through the questions yourself.

they are a great way to methodically think about your team and ideas (like "What do you understand about your business that other companies in it just don't get?")

6 points by Swizec 1 day ago 1 reply      
Wondering if we should apply even though we got rejected for the winter cycle ...
2 points by maxklein 18 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm going to apply again, no point quitting now!
2 points by edanm 1 day ago 0 replies      
There are 8 RFS's, but the dropdown for choosing which RFS you're responding to only has 7 options.
3 points by elvirs 1 day ago 1 reply      
Can international candidates apply? if the answer is yes (and if we are selected) will YCombinator help us with obtaining J1 (or any other applicable)? or at least provide a document as an employer?
8 points by jeremydavid 1 day ago 0 replies      
Already? Wow... it feels like just yesterday applications were open for Winter
4 points by mcgyver 1 day ago 1 reply      
My co-founder and I are looking to apply but it looks like I might have a baby due during the 3-months-in-SV stage and hence need to be close to base (Australia). Looks like I'll be hanging out for the following round. Good luck to everyone applying!
3 points by davidwparker 1 day ago 1 reply      
Looking forward to applying for the first time. Any advice for a first timer?
1 point by qixxiq 1 day ago 0 replies      
Consider updating the "Do we have to be US citizens?" question in FAQ to include that teams would have to fly up for the interview in addition to the three months (if that is still the decision).
3 points by SwaroopH 1 day ago 1 reply      
Is it acceptable if a co-founder cannot move to Bay Area for the summer?

EDIT: As someone pointed out on IM, it's acceptable but we're expected to mention it in #9.

1 point by kingsidharth 1 day ago 0 replies      
This got me all thinking about how far we (the team) have come since we applied in Winter (and got rejected).

Does that count? How far you have progressed in mindset and development of the product? I wish there was a field for that in the application. I'd be interesting to see that progress, IMO.

2 points by flipside 1 day ago 0 replies      
Is it better to apply early while I look for cofounders or wait till I find them and then apply?
2 points by avk 1 day ago 0 replies      
Good luck to everyone who's applying!
1 point by ammmir 1 day ago 0 replies      
this is just the motivational kick i needed to get back to finishing my prototype, thanks pg!
1 point by Zeuf 1 day ago 0 replies      
Not ready yet to apply. Looking to apply next year!
But, good luck and success for all.
1 point by nhangen 1 day ago 0 replies      
Excellent, I can't wait.
-4 points by bourdine 1 day ago 1 reply      
PG, if we make a product worth more than 1B, we can be included in the current winter session as an exception?
Why you should never, ever use two spaces after a period slate.com
162 points by apress 4 days ago   167 comments top 63
101 points by edw519 4 days ago 3 replies      
Articles with the word "never" in the title: Beware their myopia, lack of vision, and narrow-mindedness.

Articles with the word "ever" in the title: Beware their gross generalizations, lack of gray area, and hasty conclusions.

Articles with both the words "never" and "ever" in the title: Never, ever read them. (oops)

84 points by apotheon 4 days ago 6 replies      
He's amusingly wrong in his certainty that everybody else is wrong.

Two spaces grew out of a typographic convention of using a 1.5-width space that was favored by typesetters for proportional typespaces because typewriters didn't have half-width spaces represented on their keyboards. The actually "correct" approach would be 1.5-character width spaces, because even in proportional typefaces a little extra space serves as a useful visual cue that aids in quicker text scanning by eye.

The modern convention of using a single space is the result of journalistic publishers' desire for economy of printing paper. It costs more -- either money for extra pages or characters that won't fit on a page -- to have two (or even 1.5) spaces between sentences. For that reason, a new convention for non-personal correspondence arose, not out of "correctness" or readability concerns, but out of the miserliness of accountants.

As for the lack of studies, that's because it's pretty difficult to come up with a meaningful set of criteria that can be (relatively) easily measured in such a study. Worse, the people with both the resources and interest necessary to fund such studies are for the most part not interested in finding out their cost-saving measures make it harder to read their publications. People I know who read a lot -- who enjoy reading -- including myself all agree, though: having more than a single (proportional or otherwise) character width of space between sentences helps with making it easier to read quickly without having to backtrack and without missing things. In fact, if anything proportional typefaces makes the problem worse, because the spacing between sentences tends to end up smaller than it would otherwise be.

For all his annoying certainty that people who are certain of their disagreement with him are annoyingly wrong, Farhad Manjoo is pretty laughably lacking in the proud correctness he claims.

46 points by haploid 4 days ago replies      
It seems that the reason it's wrong is that typographers say it is. The author has not given an actual reason, other than appeal to authority.

I will continue to double-space until I'm dead.

34 points by JoeAltmaier 4 days ago 1 reply      
Amusing: his argument is that authorities say to use one, so use one. He then refutes arguments by others that they learned to use two spaces from their authorities, so they do. "That's wrong!" he says.

There is no argument of value in this article.

13 points by tjr 4 days ago 1 reply      
Years ago, working on GNU documentation, RMS instructed me to use two spaces. The documents were processed into HTML, TeX, Texinfo, and plain text, the former two of which auto-collapsed two spaces into one, and the latter two of which were often viewed with a monospace font, thus benefiting from the extra space.

I carried this practice over into the rest of my writing, although recently I have noticed that some web systems do not auto-collapse two spaces, and when filling out forms online I've generally reverted back to using single spaces to ensure proper spacing.

6 points by rlpb 4 days ago 0 replies      
This is a matter of encoding. It's got nothing to do with typography. Typesetting software should do the right thing. There aren't any rules for spacing apart from what the font designer specified.

Of course, the software has to understand what it is that it is typesetting, and the font needs to define spacing in such a way that the typesetting software can do things as intended, so the specification for authors here is really defined by the software. If it wants two spaces after a period, then give it two. If it wants one, then give it one.

I suspect that most software expects one.

In a fully pedantic world, we'd have different unicode code points for "gap between word", "gap after sentence", and presumably others to cover every situation, and the font designer would then have full control.

6 points by spokey 4 days ago 1 reply      
I'm a couple of years younger than Julian Assange and commonly use two spaces after each sentence, purely out of muscle memory. (I took a "keyboarding" class in 1987 or so using an IBM Selectric typewriter and that's the way I was taught to do it.)

I'm not at all surprised that many people still do this. I'm a little surprised that people assert that's a "proper" way to do it or for that matter get worked up enough about it to write that you should "never, ever" do it. Maybe it's the engineer in me, but I was expecting an actual negative consequence of using two spaces. Typography is important, but I'd guess that with modern kerning techniques the difference between two spaces and one is slight. (In fact, if I were designing a word processing app, I'd think this is is a case I'd account for: If there is a "proper" distance between the period at the end of one sentence and the start of the next letter, wouldn't you ensure that's the distance that is used whether the user typed one space or two?)

9 points by ams6110 4 days ago 1 reply      
Talk about getting worked up over nothing. Must have had a deadline for a column and nothing better to write about.

I use a double space after a period. Always have. I also still use monospaced fonts for almost any composing I do, because I use Emacs whenever possible for that kind of thing.

Any normal text layout software (a browser rendering HTML, TeX) is going to ignore whitespace in the source anyway.

4 points by wolfrom 3 days ago 0 replies      
As both a hacker and a hack writer, I follow William Shunn's manuscript format: http://www.shunn.net/format/story.html

"In the days of typewriters, the usual practice was to put
two spaces after the end of every sentence, and also to put two spaces after every colon. This helped make the separations between sentences more apparent, and helped editors more easily distinguish periods from commas and colons from semicolons. With the dominance of computers, that practice is changing, and it is more common now to see only one space between sentences.

"Ingrained habits die hard, though, so if you're used to hitting the spacebar twice after a period, you shouldn't stress out about it, particularly if you're using a Courier font."

3 points by jawee 3 days ago 0 replies      
The MLA handbook has some interesting information about spacing after the period. Here is section 3.2.12 "Spacing after Concluding Punctuation marks" in my physical copy of the sixth edition.

Publications in the United States today usually have the same spacing after a period, a question mark, or an exclamation mark, or an exclamation point as between words on the same line. Since word processors make available the same fonts used by typesetters for printed works, many writers, influenced by the look of typeset publications, now leave only one space after a concluding punctuation mark. In addition, most publishers' guidelines for preparing a manuscript on disk ask professional authors to type only the spaces that are to appear in print.

Because it is increasingly common for papers and manuscripts to be prepared with a single space after all concluding punctuation marks, this spacing is shown in the examples in this handbook. As a practical matter, however, there is nothing wrong with using two spaces after concluding punctuation marks unless an instructor requests that you do otherwise. Whichever spacing you choose, be sure to use it consistently in all parts of your paper--the works-cited list as well as the main text. By contrast, internal punctuation marks, such as a colon, a comma, and a semicolon, should always be followed by one space.

3 points by njharman 3 days ago 1 reply      
I had a real hard time determining if this article was serious or a sarcastic rant against people who get overwrought on trivialities.

>in the same way that waiters know that the salad fork goes to the left of the dinner fork and fashion designers know to put men's shirt buttons on the right and women's on the left.

Those are both examples of arbitrary decisions carried forward by inertia and slavish adherence to dogma. Makes me strongly believe the two space rule is another example. I read most, skimmed rest (it was kind of hard to find sentence breaks actually) of article but I found no argument or justification other than "typographers" say it's so.

I also frequently use monospaced fonts. So, author and these unquoted/unspecified typographers he claims to speak for can kiss my shiny double-spaced ass.

3 points by btn 4 days ago 0 replies      
Wikipedia has a much more comprehensive review of the issues: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sentence_spacing

In general, modern typesetting software (and/or fonts) should be able to properly set the width of spaces between sentences to be slightly wider than than those between words. Unfortunately, TeX is the only common typesetter I know that does this.

5 points by bryanlarsen 4 days ago 1 reply      
HTML removes extra spaces. I used a double space there, but you only see a single space. Since much of what people read these days is HTML, that's going to become what people expect to see, so I expect single spacing to become the standard. I bet that will have more of an effect on changing people's minds than "expert" opinions.
3 points by handelaar 3 days ago 1 reply      
Why you should always, always use two spaces after a full-stop (when writing for online use):

1. Because it remains correct in monospace, and
2. Because no HTML rendering engine displays the second one anyway.

This man's rather ill-informed about the 'tech' part of his 'tech column' gig.

2 points by qjz 4 days ago 0 replies      
Multiple consecutive spaces == 1 space, in the same way 0 + 0 + 0 = 0. Put another way, 3 x 0 is not greater than 1 x 0. Even in typography or typesetting, the goal is to provide a single space, but to do it in a proportion to the surrounding letters that is appropriate for the context. This goal isn't any less important when an inflexible typesetting environment forces you to use a narrow range of discreet units.

I've edited too many documents to count, but in nearly all cases, it was a default software setting that inserted extra space after a period, before the next sentence. The author can't reliably claim to know how much space Assange chose to use, any more than he can affect how his own text will be presented after it is processed for publication. It's an implementation detail that often gets transformed (by software and/or humans) as it makes its way through various systems.

10 points by dalore 4 days ago 0 replies      
Anyone feel like they name dropped Assange for extra views?
4 points by nycticorax 3 days ago 0 replies      
I think this guy needs to get clear on the distinctions between typewriting, typesetting, and word processing. If you're typing on a typewriter, it sounds like it's generally considered admissible to use two (monospaced) spaces after a word.

As far as typesetting goes, TeX makes an inter-sentence space a bit wider (but less than 2x) than an inter-word space, unless you tell it otherwise. Since I trust Knuth more than this guy, I suspect that's at least considered typographically admissible.

If you're using a word processor with a monospaced font, it seems like it makes sense to follow the typewriter convention (two spaces between sentences). If you're using a word processor with a proportional font, and you want to follow the TeX typesetting convention, I think you're stuck: it's not trivial for a computer to distinguish between an inter-sentence space and an inter-word space (because of things like "etc."). So if you use a single space between sentences, it's going to be smaller than it would be in the typeset document, and if you use a double space, it's going to be larger than it would be in the typeset document. Or you could conveniently decide to follow the "french spacing" convention, in which inter-sentence spaces are the same size as inter-word spaces. Which is apparently what the author favors.

9 points by tomlin 4 days ago 1 reply      
I guess we've solved all the other world problems?
3 points by terryjsmith 4 days ago 2 replies      
If the MLA says one space then it has changed since I was in school (~10 years ago). We were always told to use a double space at the end of a sentence and while he links to the Chicago MLA, the actual MLA website also eludes to the fact that it used to be two spaces: http://www.mla.org/style_faq3.
2 points by haberman 3 days ago 1 reply      
I've used two spaces for a while now. It just feels right that sentences have more space between them than "Mr." has after it.

But there's one annoying, persistent browser bug that cramps my style. If a line wraps after the first of two spaces, the second space will be on the next line, which looks terrible: http://i.imgur.com/MksV7.png

6 points by jpr 4 days ago 0 replies      
I pretty much decided from the title alone that I will begin to use double space just to piss the author off. After reading the article I'm sure that I made the right decision.
3 points by Vivtek 3 days ago 0 replies      
It already irritated me that he says I'm wrong after a lifetime of typing - but then he goes on to misspell "Ay yi yi". Does he think that was a piratical saying? Wouldn't you think someone obsessed with punctuation would at least care a little about spelling?
2 points by lukev 4 days ago 1 reply      
This is a trend I've noticed a lot lately on articles on typography and design - they're very light on 'why' and pretty much just invoke appeals to authority - "my design school taught me to do it this way, QED."

There is a good reason to use one space, and that is that when you're typing, you're only creating text, not typesetting. Software does the typesetting now, and will automatically space out sentences in a way that looks right. You don't need to do it yourself, just like you don't need to enter manual linebreaks anymore.

2 points by tallanvor 3 days ago 0 replies      
You know, there are things to worry about, and things not to worry about, and unless you are printing a book, whether or not people use 1 or 2 spaces after a period really isn't something you need to worry about.

I was taught to add two spaces after a period, and I have no plans to stop doing so. If people really want to complain, I suppose I can show them the latest edition of the APA style guide, which made two spaces the recommendation again, or MLA, which suggests one but notes that "as a practical matter, however, there is nothing wrong with using two spaces after concluding punctuation marks".

Of course, maybe the author isn't as dumb as he sounds... He found a way to get paid to complain about spacing, after all.

3 points by zipdog 4 days ago 0 replies      
From the article:

"Typographers can point to no studies or any other evidence proving that single spaces improve readability."

...So, there's absolutely no evidence, yet everyone who doesn't agree is 'certainly' wrong...

3 points by ggruschow 4 days ago 0 replies      
He just taught me that I'm supposed to uses two spaces after a period when doing most of my writing.. in programs.. which are still usually viewed with fixed width fonts.
2 points by mrinterweb 3 days ago 0 replies      
I was taught to use two spaces. &nbsp; Apparently there was a reformation of the the double space rule sometime thereafter. &nbsp;&nbsp; I would expect to be informed about such an important change in English grammar through a high exposure world-wide public announcement campaign. Considering that the use of double spaces separating sentences can provoke such ridicule, there really needs to be a global effort to educate all English speaking citizens of Earth. &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Perhaps even training centers could be erected where people could be taught this new important change to the language. &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; These centers could perhaps even treat those who have been subject to the extreme psychological trauma of the public ridicule caused by the misuse of the space.
2 points by cedsav 3 days ago 0 replies      
It always amazes me how cultural differences find their ways in the oddest little details. I had never heard of the 2 space rule until I moved to the US, and only recently did I realize that the question mark was missing its preceding space... I had to do a bit a research and I'm relieved to read that the ellipsis can still be used to indicate a pause, or a trailing off thought.
3 points by dzuc 4 days ago 0 replies      
One of the first things I do when laying out a publication is to find/replace "__" with "_". It's mainly for the sake of consistency; I always receive documents that have a mix of both.
2 points by ohyes 3 days ago 0 replies      
I was hoping the reason would be something interesting like 'we used forensic analysis of punctuation habits to determine the author of certain documents,' and it seems that it was going that way with the Julian Assange bit.

Then it rapidly devolved into argumentum ad nauseum and appeal to authority; I was very disappointed.

2 points by Deestan 3 days ago 0 replies      
To sum up:

- Some use two spaces because they are used to it. They are wrong, stupid and annoying.

- Author use two spaces because he's used to it. Why can't you see that he is correct?

To give an actual argument related to value, I think it is helpful to differentiate between periods that end sentences and periods that end abbreviations.

4 points by cafard 4 days ago 0 replies      
It seems to me, and Wikipedia seems to confirm, that single spaces after a period used to be called "French spacing" or "French bands". It was not standard US practice in the days of hot type or even photo type.
1 point by wrs 3 days ago 0 replies      
I set lead type as a hobby, and I can tell you the entire concept of a "space character" does not exist in typesetting. Space is not made of characters, it's made of space (in metal, it's made of tiny shims of copper, brass, or lead).

Any use of the space bar in a computer typesetting context is just a hint to some algorithm regarding how much space you want put between the characters on either side. TeX doesn't put "1.5 spaces" between sentences; it puts glue that is slightly stretchier than the glue it puts between words.

4 points by tomlin 3 days ago 1 reply      
I do 3 spaces now. Working myself up to 4.
3 points by cincinnatus 3 days ago 0 replies      
What a useless pedantic article, how did this get to the top of the HN front page?

I often type two spaces because it was drilled into me when I learned touch typing at 14 years of age. Very hard to unlearn that. Unusually I also had a Dad who was a layout designer, so I knew a lot about typography including that you only use a single space when laying type. Still f'ing hard to overcome the double space which is done completely reflexively by fast touch typists.

1 point by jawee 3 days ago 0 replies      
My problem is with teachers who insist on using double spaces after a period. I have had a few teachers in recent years demand double space and will not accept papers that do not use the convention. Because it feels entirely unnatural for me to hit the space bar twice, I can never remember to do it consistently. I just wrote a python script to convert it for me afterwards.

On a similar note, I got a 0 on a paper once because it was not in the required font, Times New Roman. I had written it on my netbook while on vacation and printed directly from it and had not realized that the Linux distro installed automatically called Liberation Serif "Times New Roman" inside of Abiword.

3 points by pcorsaro 3 days ago 0 replies      
I like how he so emphatically says that it is wrong, and cites style guides that say it's OK to use 2 spaces.

From the HLA source he cited (http://www.mla.org/style_faq3):
"... As a practical matter, however, there is nothing wrong with using two spaces after concluding punctuation marks unless an instructor or editor requests that you do otherwise."

2 points by alxp 3 days ago 0 replies      
HTML's smooshing two spaces together was offensive to me in the 90s when I was learning it after being a touch typist since I was 7 years old. I still double space, but no one knows unless they view source.
2 points by lelele 4 days ago 0 replies      
Using two spaces after the end of a sentence allows software to recognize sentences without doubt. There are no heuristics involved which would always be on the verge of failing. That allows me to issue commands which works on sentences mindlessly, and to enable auto-capitalization. The former is the killer feature.
1 point by kaffeinecoma 4 days ago 1 reply      
This is amusingly relevant for me. I had a number of bug reports for my November app Quick Brown Frog (http://quickbrownfrog.com) from people complaining of low speed scores, due to their two-space habit (all my source texts are formatted to use a single space, and they're displayed in fixed-width).

I considered reformatting all the text to use double-spaces, but then figured that I'd get an equal number of complaints from the single-spacers (little-endians?)

In the end I changed the code to ignore the double space if received as input. No complaints after that. :-)

1 point by lostbit 1 day ago 0 replies      
For me, the second space after the period is a wasted byte. The same applies for the just one space after the period if you are actually moving to the next paragraph (just a CR+LF) is enough (more than enough in Unix).

But what I really dislike is the preceeding space before the question mark. That really messes up my brain sentence parser (and many word processos too).

1 point by apotheon 3 days ago 0 replies      
It suddenly occurs to me to ask whether those friends will ever invite him to dinner with them again. He turned their friendly dinner conversation into an excuse to call them Luddites stuck in the 19th century.

"You're off my Thanksgiving invitation list, Farhad."

1 point by Seth_Kriticos 3 days ago 0 replies      
Two spaces sound weird, but my biggest gripe with the typewriter legacy is the QWERTY layout and it's prevalence. (yes, I'm a dvorak typer by choice, re-learned it after QWERTY).
1 point by mmphosis 3 days ago 0 replies      

  This is a prob. I tested!

This is a problem I tested!

  This is a prob.&nbsp; I tested!

This is a problem. I tested!

3 points by acconrad 4 days ago 0 replies      
I envision this becoming an Oatmeal comic.
1 point by bgmccollum 3 days ago 0 replies      
Robert Bringhurst, The Elements of Typographic Style

Section 2.1.4 " Use a single word space between sentences.

In the nineteenth century, which was a dark and inflationary age in typography and type design, many compositors were encouraged to stuff extra space between sentences. Generations of twentieth-century typists were then taught to do the same, by hitting the spacebar twice after every period. Your typing as well as your typesetting will benefit from unlearning this quaint Victorian habit. As a general rule, no more than a single space is required after a period, colon or any other mark of punctuation.

1 point by nchlswu 3 days ago 1 reply      
I've always been a single spacer. I understood the purpose in monospace, I otherwise never understood the practice. Almost everyone I've heard only practices it because that's how they learned. That reason wasn't good enough, especially when that was (mostly) rooted in the typewriter, and we're using the modern day computer. Some (justified) reasons are enlightening.

I was always under the impression that in a proper typeset manuscript, sentence spacing should be slightly wider than a standard single space. Typographers make this change when they typeset right? Isn't there an alternate ASCII character for this purpose (entirely not sure, I might be thinking of special characters in certain fonts)

1 point by Tycho 3 days ago 0 replies      
What does it matter, word processors format this automatically, right? I was taught this rule in primary school I think, but have never used it (two-spacing). Slows down typing speed to much.
3 points by Misha_B 3 days ago 0 replies      
After reading some of the comments, I've decided to only use two spaces from now on.
0 points by barrkel 3 days ago 1 reply      
When I see two spaces, especially in proportional text, I use it as evidence of the writer being a luddite or "past it". Only one piece of evidence, not conclusive. Probably most of its explanatory power comes from it being an indicator the user is old, educated in typing with a typewriter.
1 point by binarymax 3 days ago 0 replies      
I felt compelled to look at the source and search for '.[space][space]'

At least they take their own advice.

1 point by rradu 3 days ago 0 replies      
I always put two spaces after a period in grade school because I wanted my papers to appear longer.
2 points by peterbotond 4 days ago 1 reply      
Hi Everyone, I am a two spacer between sentences, and a triple spacer for paragraph starters, and a newline between paragraphs. No wonder nobody reads my emails. :-)
1 point by monochromatic 4 days ago 0 replies      
Every style guide I've read (I don't have a citation handy) says that either convention is acceptable, as long as you're consistent throughout the document. This is the first article I've ever seen that said two spaces is wrong, and I am not convinced. (However, I will continue to use one space, because I think it just looks better.)
0 points by sdizdar 3 days ago 0 replies      
I had never heard of the 2 space rule until I moved to the US, so this is one of cultural things. I believe "single space" rule is prevalent is Europe and India.

This anyway points that 2 space rule is not "right way" since significant portion of the world (maybe majority of your customers) will think it is weird and be confused about it. The "1 space rule" is more neutral.

1 point by ScotterC 4 days ago 0 replies      
Always wondered why I preferred Courier in command line


-a die hard two spacer

1 point by rhoeft 4 days ago 1 reply      
This is a software problem. Programs that display proportional text should recognize one or more spaces after a period as a sentence break and should render appropriately.
1 point by nickolai 4 days ago 0 replies      
Now I feel stupid for feeling bad about being a spelling nazi. This is just so much more sophisticated :)
1 point by rorrr 3 days ago 0 replies      
Real men use tabs.
1 point by sabatier 3 days ago 0 replies      
Worse than using two spaces is using no spaces at all. Intolerable.
0 points by webuiarchitect 3 days ago 0 replies      
How the hell is his personality anyway related to the news/facts going out of wikileaks or its credibility?
-1 point by isleyaardvark 3 days ago 2 replies      
If two spaces is right and one space is wrong, why is it that I just opened up a half dozen books and saw that they only use single spaces? If two spaces is better for readability, why can't I find books using two spaces?
10 Questions for John Gruber Regarding H.264, WebM osnews.com
160 points by DavidAdams 5 days ago   100 comments top 14
61 points by tptacek 5 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 5 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 5 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 5 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 5 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.

12 points by tomlin 5 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?

6 points by antimatter15 5 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).

4 points by danh 5 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?

9 points by dev_jim 5 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 5 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 5 days 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 5 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 5 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 5 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 18 January 2011 16:04:01 GMT