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W3C HTML5 Logo Unveiled w3.org
364 points by hakim 2 days ago   106 comments top 49
88 points by pclark 2 days ago 3 replies      
Wow, I was prepared to mock it after seeing that w3.org actually had to design something, but it's rather good.
19 points by efsavage 2 days ago 1 reply      
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.

52 points by cstuder 2 days 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.
21 points by citricsquid 2 days ago 1 reply      

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."

26 points by kmfrk 2 days ago 1 reply      
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.

10 points by lwhi 2 days ago 4 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.

17 points by bitwize 2 days ago 1 reply      
Looks like the Autobot insignia.

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

6 points by cpr 1 day ago 2 replies      
I'm sorry, but this is laughable.

Do people put icons in their iOS apps advertising the use of CoreAnimation? Do they put some kind of Silverlight or Flash badge on their web sites done with those technologies?

It's just a set of useful technologies. Why all the branding hoo-hah?

8 points by simias 2 days 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

4 points by JonnieCache 2 days 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 :)

2 points by teye 1 day ago 0 replies      
How many type foundries do you think would be trumpeting their fonts' inclusion in the HTML5 logo?

One of the many reasons I love Hoefler & Frere Jones.

Gotham + Mercury + Knockout, all from @h_fj, make the HTML-5 logo. http://www.w3.org/html/logo/ #next #stop, #webfonts

3 points by leftnode 2 days ago 2 replies      
I like it. How long until it's implemented using CSS3?
4 points by antidaily 2 days ago 0 replies      
Logo's available in SVG - a reminder that I have no idea how to use SVG.
7 points by gurraman 2 days ago 2 replies      
Anyone know who made it?
2 points by nchlswu 2 days 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.

2 points by igrekel 1 day ago 0 replies      
I am not sure I see how useful it is. I think people who would care about HTML5 are already aware of it and the ones who don't will probably not be influenced by the logo. What remains seems to just be some kind of nerdy bragging thing: collect them all!

It reminds me of the "Netscape Now!" button campaign from the early web. The logo and badges looks nice tough.

10 points by QuantumDoja 2 days ago 1 reply      
Reminds me of Transformers
3 points by j4mie 2 days ago 0 replies      
Nice article by Jeremy Keith on why this logo creates and propagates confusion between HTML5 and CSS3:


1 point by varenc 1 day ago 0 replies      
It seems the logo is an image (http://www.w3.org/html/logo/img/html5-topper.png). How long until someone can draw it using purely HTML5?
1 point by Groxx 23 hours ago 0 replies      
I expect to see this changing in phone booths in the near future.

Interesting. Nowhere near as bad as I had expected, a little too alter-ego for my tastes though.

1 point by rbanffy 1 day ago 0 replies      
And the IE folks on Twitter are using it as their picture:


I think we can expect full compliance.

1 point by jcromartie 2 days 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.

2 points by aguynamedben 1 day ago 1 reply      
Am I the only one that finds the aliasing created by slightly tilted lines a design flaw? It was meant to be displayed digitally, and the designer should have avoided aliasing. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spatial_anti-aliasing
1 point by p0ppe 2 days 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.
4 points by shankx 2 days ago 1 reply      
It looks lot like Superman's Logo (The one that's on his shirt)
1 point by cemregr 2 days 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 nhangen 2 days 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.
2 points by phlux 1 day ago 1 reply      
Was anyone else expecting the thing to be fully CSS rather than a .jpg?!
1 point by gsivil 2 days 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.
2 points by TheCoreh 2 days ago 3 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?
1 point by blue1 1 day ago 0 replies      
To my eyes, it looks too american-style.
1 point by axod 2 days ago 2 replies      
was there an html4 logo? why do we need an html5 logo?
1 point by d0m 2 days ago 0 replies      
I find it looks quite ugly honestly. The logos on the bottom are much better.
2 points by xbryanx 2 days ago 1 reply      
I do like the impact of the logo, but am I the only one who thinks it's a bit too "military?"
0 points by nnutter 1 day ago 0 replies      
"THE HTML5 SHIRT " BUY IT! Every Man, Woman and Child can show their HTML5 Pride!"

As long as you wear a XL or smaller.

1 point by baby 1 day ago 0 replies      
Reddit doesn't seem to like it. And HN seems to like it. Why so much difference ?
1 point by tjmaxal 2 days ago 1 reply      
What no Favicon? or did I miss it?
1 point by ajaimk 1 day ago 0 replies      
Why does it look like Klingon?
1 point by AbyBeats 1 day ago 0 replies      
w3c copied SuperMan, where is that damn sue button :|
2 points by cplamper 2 days ago 0 replies      
That's awesome and vastly superior to other w3c logos.
1 point by Griever 2 days ago 0 replies      
HTML5 Badges: The E-Peen of 2011.
1 point by kleiba 1 day ago 0 replies      
1 point by namzo 1 day ago 0 replies      
'S' on an orange background. A new logo for smashing magazine. No? I kinda like it though.
1 point by dheerosaur 2 days ago 0 replies      
The icon for "Device Access" looks very similar to an apple. Does a square apple mean anything? :)
1 point by Joakal 1 day ago 0 replies      
It looked like a RSS icon to me.
1 point by One_adm12 1 day ago 0 replies      
Autobots, autobots, autobots!!! you love it cause it's a rip off of your favorite cartoon!
2 points by AppDev054 1 day ago 1 reply      
Looks like HTML 6.
0 points by vinsan 1 day ago 0 replies      
I expected the logo to be in CSS3 :-(
Watch a swarm of flying robotic drones construct a tiny building botjunkie.com
352 points by coffee 3 days ago   78 comments top 23
29 points by andrewcooke 3 days 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 3 days 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 3 days 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 3 days 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 3 days 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 3 days 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 3 days ago 0 replies      
This tech would have a great application in robotic fruit-picking/pruning applications.
6 points by d5tryr 3 days 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 3 days ago 0 replies      
Next I want these drones to make hexagonal structures and feed off of flower polen.
13 points by thebigredjay 3 days ago 0 replies      
I like the audible menacing drone. Any autonomous robot should emit a menacing drone.
13 points by siculars 3 days ago 1 reply      
Wow, unions are gonna hate these.
3 points by btipling 3 days ago 1 reply      
I think flying swarm rebotics would be best weaponized. You could call them hack-mans, man-chops, person-hacks...HRM
1 point by stretchwithme 3 days 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 onteria 3 days 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 3 days ago 0 replies      
robots building robots. that would be cool
2 points by GrandMasterBirt 3 days 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 3 days ago 0 replies      
This is just way too much fun.
2 points by johnohara 3 days ago 1 reply      
Anybody know the weight of each column?
1 point by shaunfs 3 days 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.
1 point by soamv 3 days 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 3 days 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 3 days ago 0 replies      
Imagine the damage virii of the future will be able to do to our infrastructure...
2 points by grimatongueworm 3 days ago 3 replies      
36 battery changes later...
Ask HN/PG: Why are comments being paginated?
333 points by roxstar 1 day ago   113 comments top 32
188 points by msbarnett 1 day ago replies      
I agree, I think this basically disincentivizes commenting when you know you're going to end up "below the fold".

I went into the feature request thread to see if anyone had requested the ability to turn this off, but gave up on looking after rapid-fire clicking "More" 25+ times. Content more than a page or two back might as well not exist.

53 points by jasonkester 1 day ago 1 reply      
This feature is actually causing damage.

Several times yesterday I found myself opening a seemingly interesting discussion, reading the comments, then wondering why so few people were talking about it.

The link that says "Hey, there's actually more discussion that we're hiding. Click here to see it" is tiny (and unexpected) so I just plain missed it. I even missed it on this thread until I read a comment talking about other comments that had scrolled off the 1st page, thus demonstrating that there must indeed be a 2nd page and that I should look harder for a way to find it.

Had I been able to find (and therefore read) the whole discussion on those topics yesterday, I might have had interesting things to add. So might all the other people who missed them for the same reason. I suspect that the overall quality of discussion has taken a dip since this feature went live.

88 points by pg 1 day ago 7 replies      
To cut load. I'm not sure it helped much though, so I may not keep it.
106 points by staunch 1 day ago 1 reply      
I'd rather the page take 10 minutes to load than have it paginated. I know PG is just trying to implement a quick temporary fix, but this one is so annoying it made me go back to work (gasp!).
28 points by RiderOfGiraffes 1 day ago 0 replies      
The new system can easily be "gamed," as has been discussed already several times. Here's a specific example. I wanted to observe the irony that PG's definitive answer is now below the fold, but I wanted my comment to be "above the fold" so that people could find PG's comment. Realising that if I simply commented in the appropriate place - as a reply to the original submission, as I have done with this comment - then my comment would repidly disappear even further below the fold, I added it as a reply to the unshakeably top reply:


Thus my comment is technically mis-placed, but guaranteed to be on the first page of replies and discussion.

There has to be a better solution to the problem of load. It depends on the cause, of course, but in the absence of profiling information (always the first step) I would investigate more cacheing to make the system less dynamic.

ADDED IN EDIT: I love the way this comment has attracted down-votes - I've been watching it bounce up and down for a bit now. It's clearly alright to discuss the merits and otherwise, but for some people, clearly not alright to demonstrate the effect. On a forum for hackers, I find that delightful!

15 points by redthrowaway 1 day ago 5 replies      
There's a really easy fix to this: Load more comments on scroll-to-bottom. No button, no bandwidth used, but those who make it to the bottom of a thread don't have to do anything to see new comments.

I agree with OP; the current system is suboptimal, to say the least.

30 points by forkandwait 1 day ago 1 reply      
I like plain text emails, terminals, emacs, and I really prefer un-paginated html pages.
16 points by alttab 1 day ago 4 replies      
It would be interesting to see an auto-extend feature like Facebook does with the timeline. Keep scrolling? We will AJAX load them into the page in batches. That should do ya. No buttons necessary, full comment history the further you go, and you don't show more information than you originally ask for (just a couple of comments).
8 points by lotusleaf1987 1 day ago 1 reply      
Is the feature really saving that significant of load time? I mean HN is as minimal as it gets, I'd rather all the comments load and take 3-4 seconds more than have to manually go through and hit more several times.
13 points by kmfrk 1 day ago 0 replies      
I didn't even notice that - that's incredibly annoying.

I'd be fine with it, if the More returned the rest of the comments, not the x next comments.

I don't really see the point of this either; it can hardly be that big of a resource hog on either ends.

5 points by nhebb 1 day ago 0 replies      
It's harder to see whether someone has already made the same point that you want to make, so it could lead to redundant commentary. I often do a quick keyword search of the page to see if someone has already made a related comment. With pagination, you can't easily do that.
17 points by spencerfry 1 day ago 0 replies      
Worst HN feature. Please revert.
4 points by cousin_it 1 day ago 0 replies      
I don't understand the rationale for this feature.

Here's a better way to reduce load: make commenting not require a reload. Same for editing comments, deleting them, etc.

5 points by dimarco 1 day ago 1 reply      
Couldn't people take advantage of this by only commenting on high-karma comments, regardless of whether or not it's relevant to the parent-comment, but instead just piggy-backing to stay on the first page?
8 points by kentosi 1 day ago 0 replies      
There should at least be a feature within our profile settings to disable this.
4 points by lwhi 1 day ago 0 replies      
I noticed the same, and assumed that it was a measure designed to improve site performance.

Recently, I've found the HN site has become pretty unresponsive at times - I imagine limiting the number of comments on each page is going to reduce the burden on the server.

5 points by shawndumas 1 day ago 1 reply      
Until it gets reverted (hopefully) -- AutoPagerize [1]


[1]: https://chrome.google.com/extensions/detail/igiofjhpmpihnifd...

2 points by kmfrk 22 hours ago 0 replies      
I just noticed the hilarious(ly atrocious) redundancy this causes: Go to the [W3C HTML5 logo thread](http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=2115551) and see how many times the "Autobot" joke is made.

I've counted at least four instances. (I'm even a part of one of the branches, as oblivious as I was to the new system and similar discussions.)

I wonder if this comment will show above or below the fold. Flip a coin, I guess.

3 points by zppx 1 day ago 1 reply      
Let's wait for the official answer, but I also include my take.

Maybe because of the community growth. When I began to hang out around here, 6 months before I created an account I believe, 40 upvotes was a huge amount for a post or a comment.

Today it's common to see posts with more than 100 in the front page and comments receiving 60 or so.

EDIT: The number of comments in each posts also exploded, 20 comments in a thread used to make it very active.

EDIT 2: For clarification.

6 points by requinot59 1 day ago 0 replies      
Using Ajax for "load on scroll" may be a solution. Or go the reddit way, don't paginate but don't load full sub-threads.
1 point by pclark 1 day ago 0 replies      
Yet another reason to use Auto Patch Work - https://chrome.google.com/extensions/detail/aeolcjbaammbkgai...

I didn't even notice the pages were paginated thanks to the extension (it auto appends page 2... page 3... to the bottom of paginated content)

4 points by wvenable 1 day ago 0 replies      
There is no meaningful information in this comment because nobody is going to see it anyway.
1 point by rflrob 1 day ago 0 replies      
I, for one, tend not to even read comment threads larger than a certain size, unless I want to see specific reactions to an article. I think jedsmith has it partially right up above when he says "it's about contributing to the conversation", but for me it's also about reading conversations that I can hold in my head. Beyond about 40 comments, I'm not sure I can do this at all.
6 points by oomkiller 1 day ago 0 replies      
Of all the features we need on HN, this is not one of them.
2 points by solipsist 1 day ago 0 replies      
Everyone should be using AutoPagerize[1] (a Sarari extension) by now, or at least something similar. It makes your life a lot easier on most websites, one of which is now HN.

[1] - http://autopagerize.net/

3 points by klbarry 1 day ago 1 reply      
It might be a good idea for PG to charge a small monthly fee if the issue is server strength.
4 points by cincinnatus 1 day ago 1 reply      
Is there anything around on the HN site architecture? A quickly google didn't turn up anything specific.
2 points by tsycho 1 day ago 0 replies      
Ironically, if PG does respond to this, his answer might end up unseen below the fold :)
2 points by invisible 1 day ago 0 replies      
I'd rather see a hard limit on the number of top-level threads allowed than a "More."
2 points by zaphoyd 1 day ago 1 reply      
When did this start? I read almost exclusively through the ihackernews.com mobile site. I just checked and it does not implement the more button and only shows the first 40 or so comments. It looks like I have been missing out on the end comments of popular threads without realizing it. :(
1 point by ezalor 14 hours ago 0 replies      
update: no more the case: see http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=2121727
-1 point by isomorph 1 day ago 0 replies      
Quoth RiderOfGiraffes 34 minutes ago,

Ironic that PG's definitive reply is now below the fold:


How Facebook Ships Code framethink.wordpress.com
331 points by atularora 3 days ago   108 comments top 28
34 points by patrickk 2 days 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

34 points by pak 2 days 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.

38 points by kenjackson 2 days 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?").

11 points by sanj 2 days 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.

75 points by ajsharp 2 days 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.

26 points by ramanujam 2 days ago 1 reply      
Some inaccuracies pointed out by another FB engineer
18 points by intranation 2 days 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 2 days 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.
9 points by CWIZO 2 days ago 0 replies      
What does it mean to be "publicly shamed" in this context?
5 points by cduruk 2 days 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.

2 points by bootload 2 days 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.

5 points by flyt 2 days 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 EGreg 2 days 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.

4 points by theletterd 2 days 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 siddhant 2 days 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".
6 points by tommi 2 days ago 0 replies      
Funny how this article has 33 main bullets points out of which 13 are or contain corrections.
2 points by InclinedPlane 2 days ago 1 reply      
Estimated Joel Test score for facebook: about 5 out of 12.


3 points by krummas 2 days 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

2 points by didip 2 days 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.

1 point by jkuria 2 days 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!

3 points by anthony_franco 2 days 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.

2 points by kemiller 2 days ago 0 replies      
Shocked... shocked I am that that buggy pile of crap has no QA.
1 point by kschua 2 days 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.

1 point by clojurerocks 2 days 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 2 days 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 2 days 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 2 days ago 0 replies      
This just looks like some sort of marketing propaganda to me.
2 points by Aloisius 2 days 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
309 points by transburgh 3 days ago   200 comments top 22
90 points by archgrove 3 days 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.

143 points by laujen 3 days 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.
52 points by prs 3 days ago 4 replies      

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

11 points by antirez 2 days 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 3 days 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_ 3 days 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 2 days 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_ 2 days 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 3 days 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 3 days 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 2 days 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 2 days 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.)

3 points by grammaton 3 days 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.

30 points by StacyC 3 days ago 0 replies      
Best wishes to Steve and family.
9 points by klbarry 3 days ago 6 replies      
Apple stock is about to take a beating :/
7 points by enterneo 2 days 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 :-(
1 point by brudgers 3 days 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


1 point by patrickgzill 2 days 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 2 days ago 0 replies      
This sounds serious. I wish him all the best.
4 points by CoachRufus87 2 days ago 0 replies      
Get better, Mr. Jobs.
5 points by wowfat 3 days ago 0 replies      
Get well soon, Steve!
0 points by masterponomo 2 days ago 0 replies      
Draft John Sculley?
DuckDuckGo Challenges Google on Privacy (With a Billboard in San Francisco) wired.com
284 points by woodrow 14 hours ago   175 comments top 29
61 points by truebosko 14 hours ago replies      
Is the whole privacy on search thing really a big issue?

I, for one, want Google to be all Orwellian on me because it will mean better search results. I had a scenario like this a few days ago when I googled for "fabric" -- Being a Python developer I was looking for http://fabfile.org and it shows up as the second result while logged in. If I'm not, it won't show up.

This may be the outlier state of mind on HN, but I think in general, as-in billboard advertising, it's not an issue. Am I wrong?

43 points by jeremymims 14 hours ago 3 replies      
This is surprisingly inexpensive advertising and will likely generate the value of its price in press coverage alone.
28 points by latch 14 hours ago 5 replies      
I know this comes up every now and again...but I find the length of the domain name a barrier to entry. I think building a brand around "DuckDuckGo" is an upward battle.
25 points by coderdude 14 hours ago 2 replies      
More FUD from DuckDuckGo about Google and privacy issues. Didn't we come to the conclusion that the things they are railing against Google for are applicable to any and every Website?

Matt Cutts stole the comment show on this one: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=2063619

The worst thing about this is how blindly news about DDG gets upvoted around here.

Edit: To my down-voters: It doesn't make what I said not true anymore.

9 points by peteforde 12 hours ago 2 replies      
I'm all for a good story, and the one-man DDG going up against Google is certainly a great one. However, considering the number of armchair business analysts on HN I'm shocked that nobody seems to call out Gabriel for appearing to fall into a cliched trap: "we don't track you" isn't a product, it's a feature.

I genuinely wonder what DDG would do if Google simply addressed all of their referrer privacy issues. Then what, exactly? Would DDG simply pack up and go home?

It's a fair question.

13 points by samstokes 12 hours ago 2 replies      
I'm surprised he's only paying $7000 to put up a massive billboard next to a major consumer route for a month. I'm sure billboard advertising doesn't have great conversion rates, but I still imagined that would cost more.

Anyone care to comment on their experiences with billboard ads?

7 points by jarek 11 hours ago 1 reply      
Some questions...

- is DDG profitable right now?

- is it going to be profitable if their user base grows by 10x? 1000x?

- do they ever expect a need to be profitable?

- if required to be profitable, do they have or foresee a solid business plan that doesn't involve de facto "tracking"?

7 points by pedanticfreak 13 hours ago 2 replies      
Anyone else think there should be a DuckDuckGo of browsers that is similarly proactive about privacy? There way more ways than just cookies to track people nowadays and it's about time we implemented default behavior in the browser to block them. There's no reason to wait for Google or Mozilla to do it for us either.
24 points by noelchurchill 14 hours ago 1 reply      
I am inspired that one man is pulling off DuckDuckGo
3 points by dools 11 hours ago 2 replies      
Turning off HTTP_REFERER doesn't sound like a very good idea. How would you be able to tell how people found you? Knowing what link someone came in from is a great way to see where your site fits into this world wide web of ours.

It sounds to me as if the only issue is 3rd party ad networks. The antidote to this seems to me to be more reasonably the web browser's jurisdiction, ie. making the cookie policy more restrictive by default.

6 points by ladon86 14 hours ago 1 reply      
That's awesome! Does anyone (Gabriel...) know if there has been a noticeable bump in traffic as a result?
4 points by jemfinch 12 hours ago 0 replies      
I've never seen so many typos in a mainstream web media article. Wired should be ashamed.
1 point by axod 4 hours ago 0 replies      
1. Concentrate on making your product great, instead of attacking the competition/market leader.

2. Don't assume everyone cares about things you do. No one gives a hoot if a website they click on knows what page they came from.

3 points by waqf 13 hours ago 1 reply      
I have nothing against GW and I wish him well, but what kind of guarantee do I have of his claim that he doesn't log my search queries? (I realize that the "Referer" thing is indeed verifiable.)
3 points by brisance 13 hours ago 0 replies      
It's not just the privacy angle, DDG also returns much more relevant results for my searches. YMMV.
2 points by jjcm 13 hours ago 1 reply      
A quick (and perhaps slightly offtopic) question, what's DDG's revenue model? Is it just an experiment right now, and if so how is Gabriel funding this?
2 points by lysium 7 hours ago 0 replies      
I understand the privacy concerns, but not the FUD about the referrer. Just turn it off and you're done! There's even a Firefox addon that allows site-specific settings.


I've been using it for years.

3 points by jeremydavid 14 hours ago 5 replies      
Not knowing which keywords referred visitors would be terribly annoying to webmasters. Unless you're using dodgy 3rd party advertisers, I don't see what's so bad about aggregating referrer data.

I have a feeling Google might be keen to hold onto their duck.com domain a little longer :)

1 point by bambax 8 hours ago 0 replies      
> * and it's privacy message seemed to resonate with users*

> While... but...

Is there a copy editor at Wired?

2 points by aditya 14 hours ago 0 replies      
I love it when WIRED quotes someone on Hacker News :-)
3 points by Joakal 14 hours ago 0 replies      
I think Wired is mocking the HN community subtly.
1 point by cpeterso 9 hours ago 0 replies      
If DDG is highlighting its search privacy, why doesn't the website default to HTTPS? (I know there is more the search privacy than HTTPS, but it would reinforce the "secure" search messaging.)
2 points by frsandstone 12 hours ago 0 replies      
This site is linked from DuckDuckGo.com:
1 point by some1else 11 hours ago 0 replies      
I would have put that billboard somewhere on the east coast instead.
2 points by thiago907 10 hours ago 0 replies      
well googlesharing.net (by moxie marlinspike) prevent google from tracking your searches... its a ff addon if im not mistaken
1 point by initself 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Was that article even edited? So many spelling errors!
1 point by frekri 10 hours ago 1 reply      
It gave me better results than google on 3 different searches. Bookmarked.
1 point by yhmv 13 hours ago 0 replies      
Btw epi0Bauqu I love your new ddg logo!
-2 points by prawn 12 hours ago 1 reply      
For anyone that just wants to see what the billboard looks like and isn't interested in the article:


Why U.S. Galaxy S Phones run Android 2.1 xda-developers.com
278 points by spidaman 1 day ago   94 comments top 18
34 points by icarus_drowning 1 day ago 3 replies      
As an Android user (and promoter to my friends/family), I'm starting to get worried about Google's approach to the product. Not because of "fragmentation" (which to me is an argument that essentially says "Android isn't going to ever be successful because its too successful now"), but because of the lack of attention it seems to be getting from Google.

It isn't just the OS itself-- several of Google's own apps are getting buggier and buggier. Voice worked fine when I first got my Droid a year or so ago, but has had a lot of bugs-- including dialing random numbers instead of the one I wanted. (Just yesterday, I tried to send a text message to XXX-XXXX and it truncated the last digit of the first group and complained that it couldn't send a text to XX-XXXX. Nothing I did could stop it from doing this except using the web-based version). Google Listen has stopped refreshing for huge numbers of people, and my wife's new Galaxy S won't even accept subscriptions. Not a word from Google on either issue, even though both show up in searches for the problem.

I had to install Launcher Pro to get any kind of performance out of my Droid, and even then it occasionally locks up on the home screen. Sometimes calls come in and the touch interface freezes, which means that I can't answer the phone. The Droid also will occasionally decide that there is no data connection when it has full 3G service according to the indicators.

I don't use it, but the stock SMS app has apparently has its own problems too-- at least Google has acknowledged those and is working on a fix, but as a whole, Android has gone from less technologically interesting (no wi-fi hotspots, etc) and stable to exciting and really buggy. Combine that with this kind of politicking, and I'm getting less and less enthusiastic about Android every day.

20 points by ergo98 1 day ago replies      
The conflicting interests issue is really a problem in the Android space. As has been shown time and time again, vendors really don't want the burden of keeping your handset up to date forever because there is nothing in it for them, aside from perhaps avoiding too much negative press.

Naturally people are going to compare it to iOS, where updates are free and rapidly disseminated. The difference there is that there definitely is something in it for Apple -- they're getting a cut of every app you buy, every song you download, etc. They're a middleman, so it's just a cost of doing business.

I wish we could get to a point where Android updates cost money. I would happily pay $30 or whatever for each major update if it motivated the vendor to have an interest in keeping it up to date.

9 points by yock 1 day ago 5 replies      
This might be plausible, but it can't possibly be confirmed which makes it no better than speculation. I'm as frustrated as the next guy that my Captivate is still running Eclair, but stuff like this doesn't really get us any closer to a solution.

When both carrier and manufacturer neglect to offer explanation or consideration for their collective failure to deliver, they must collectively be held responsible. This means switching carriers when possible and buying from different handset manufacturers. This approach has teeth, but only in large numbers. That's why it's so important to set this silliness aside and focus on real and tangible things the average consumer can do. Focusing on fantastical stories of employees clandestinely posting anonomyous accounts of shady contract terms makes for great drama, but still leaves us without resolution. And quite honestly if it took this story to urge you to action then you weren't all that disappointed in AT&T and Samsung's failure in the first place.

8 points by marshray 1 day ago 3 replies      
Gee, I'd kind of liked Samsung because they seemed to focus on delivering good technology at a good price. I'd figured they perceived themselves as something of an underdog in the past (perhaps relative to the Japanese tech industry).

This makes it seem like they're hiring Marketers and MBAs who think the best plan is to try to squeeze as much as they can out of their contract customers (the cell carriers) rather than put as much Samsung awesomeness as possible into the hands of actual happy users. Short-term thinking never gets old.

Maybe it's time to look at HTC.

2 points by pieter 1 day ago 0 replies      
It's interesting how this works in the Dutch market: the Galaxy S phones aren't carrier-branded here (they're all called Galaxy S). On phone sites, you can select the phone first, and then choose for a contract from any of the 3 main carriers. It also means that when Samsung ships an update, you can use that update for your phone, whichever carrier you're on.

Samsung released Froyo in November, and you can install it on any Galaxy S phone bought here. The update isn't over the air though; you have to connect your phone to your pc, and which auto-updates it. In any case, the carriers have nothing to do with this update so any delays are purely Samsung's fault.

2 points by teye 1 day ago 0 replies      
I've been planning to give up my iPhone for a 4G VZW Android, but it's easy to take a direct update channel for granted.

So, iOS 4 has 90 percent share amongst iOS device owners. What about Android 2.3? 0.4 percent, as of a couple weeks ago. Yes, that's zero point four percent.

But for the sake of this being slightly more fair, let's compare iOS 4 to Android 2.2 " an OS which came out well before iOS 4. The adoption rate there? 51.8 percent. That's still pretty pathetic.


2 points by ericz 1 day ago 0 replies      
This is rather heinous. A fee is definitely understandable but a per-device fee is really outrageous. I don't know how carriers were willing to agree in the first place. If they collectively bargained against this before even carrying the phone they probably would've had much more luck.

Although I'm sure Samsung has every right to charge however much they want, perhaps Google could step in and remind them that if they Samsung wants to be greedy they can always use Bada

2 points by jorgem 1 day ago 0 replies      
Impromptu poll: Who really thinks a diatribe like this from TechCrunch can make Google or their carriers do anything different?
1 point by old-gregg 1 day ago 0 replies      
Somewhat related: how/when do we get Gingerbread on Nexus One?
1 point by rufugee 1 day ago 0 replies      
Just bought a Vibrant last week. After all the reported issues...I'm on the fence on whether to return it. It's a beautiful phone and seems faster than my Droid 2...even running Eclair. Still, the GPS is weak to non-existent at times, and although I can upgrade the phone myself I'd rather have an official version. Ugh.
1 point by spidaman 1 day ago 1 reply      
Some galaxy S handsets have Froyo (see http://pages.samsung.com/ca/froyo/English/?pid=ca_home_subba...) others don't, like my Epic 4g. Is it really politics or QA challenges; no official word has been forthcoming.
2 points by fakespastic 1 day ago 0 replies      
I own an Evo 4G (Android 2.2) and my wife owns an Epic 4G (2.1). I have noticed no difference in their usability at all, aside from a few hardware-specific quirks. I'm somewhat indifferent to the Android dot-releases, and am not seeing much in Gingerbread that I care too much about, either, aside from the improved task management.
1 point by rbanffy 1 day ago 0 replies      
Sadly, this doesn't explain why my Cliq XT (called Quench down here) will be forever stuck with 1.5.

At least until I decide to crack it and do the upgrade myself. As soon as I find a 1.6+ or 2.x image that pleases me.

1 point by Charuru 1 day ago 0 replies      
Great info, but in the back of my mind I'm thinking that this sort of leak really puts the pressure on Samsung and is highly advantageous to the carriers.
1 point by mtarnovan 1 day ago 0 replies      
This is a very unhealthy trend for Android. Development will be much more costly and difficult if the user base is split across many different API levels. This article contains some insight (if you can get past the bs title...): http://techcrunch.com/2011/01/17/ios-android-breakdown/
1 point by tworats 1 day ago 0 replies      
If this turns out to be true Samsung just lost a customer for life. This is just plain stupid, short sighted thinking.
1 point by periferral 1 day ago 0 replies      
this seems to make very little sense. most of the custom ROMs out there are based on Samsung's leaked 2.2 ROMs. If Samsung really didn't want to send out official updates for 2.2 they could stop the leaks and would kill XDA updates.

Also judging by the updates trickling in, there is still a lot of work being put in by Samsung to makes these ROMs stable. Almost every leaked ROM has issues. lag fixes and gps fixes on XDA seem to be the norm to work around them

1 point by ralphc 1 day ago 0 replies      
This doesn't bode well for my Galaxy Tab running Froyo, hoping for Gingerbread and Honeycomb one day.
Easing into SICP
247 points by thinkingeric 2 days ago   42 comments top 18
7 points by spacemanaki 1 day ago 0 replies      
This is probably a good list but I really hope no one is intimidated and decides not to read SICP at all. I have to add another voice saying that it's really not that hard. I'm into chapter 5 and I found it not nearly as difficult as I thought it would be, challenging but not insurmountable. The writing is extremely clear and it really builds up the material at a good (not too fast, or too slow) pace. It's a terrific book and well worth the effort.

I don't know about the other lectures listed but the 1986 lectures are worth a watch, they are quite motivating since both authors exhibit an infectious enthusiasm.

11 points by jules 1 day ago 1 reply      
I did SICP at the start of high school without any of these preparations and I'm not a genius. Some of the math was hard, but not too hard: just hard enough to learn a lot from it. You won't be able to read it like you read a novel, but I'd advise diving right into SICP and only using these additional materials if you really get stuck. I think you'll learn more per invested time.
10 points by azharcs 2 days ago 3 replies      
Also recommended mostly as a prerequisite to SICP is "How to Design Programs" by Matthias Felleisen
4 points by limist 2 days ago 1 reply      
The OCW page for 6.001/SICP has complete lecture notes, which are useful supplements to the book, especially with additional diagrams: http://ocw.mit.edu/courses/electrical-engineering-and-comput...
7 points by jimmyjim 1 day ago 0 replies      
'Concrete Abstractions' looks interesting.

Can anyone here who's read it/is familiar to it comment on it?

3 points by Ixiaus 1 day ago 0 replies      
HTDP (How To Design Programs) and the Schemer series I highly recommend. The Schemers are really easy to read and HTDP goes into greater detail on many of the topics.

This was my order of execution in learning Scheme: Schemer series -> HTDP -> SICP

4 points by imp 1 day ago 0 replies      
I'd like to add that there are also people working through SICP on Curious Reef (my social learning website): http://curiousreef.com/class/structure-and-interpretation-of...

It's an easy way to keep track of your work and collaborate with other people.

4 points by mrspeaker 1 day ago 0 replies      
I finally made it to the eval/apply video of the SICP series... so many hours in then you get that gift. A crazy, 70s synth-filled, wizard induced gift.

I'm determined to learn Lisp now just so I can buy myself a cape and a fez.

2 points by sayemm 1 day ago 1 reply      
Awesome, thanks for these tips. I'm going to start working through SICP in about two weeks.

I love what Eli Bendersky did here to track his progess as he was going through the book: http://eli.thegreenplace.net/category/programming/lisp/sicp/

1 point by brown9-2 1 day ago 0 replies      
If anyone is interested, someone out there was nice enough to turn the SICP content into Kindle/.mobi format: https://github.com/twcamper/sicp-kindle
2 points by JoelMcCracken 1 day ago 0 replies      
I had no problems doing SICP. Yes, it was somewhat hard, but only in a few areas.
2 points by nkassis 2 days ago 2 replies      
Nice amalgamation of resources for SCIP related stuff. I wish there was a way to mark this as a sticky of some sort.
1 point by thedigitalengel 1 day ago 0 replies      
This is obviously not a universal formula, but I started out with "Practical Common LISP"; and then went on to SICP, translating the Scheme code into CL code as I went along. I then followed this by "On LISP".

For someone who does not know programming at all, I'd recommend SICP first. The text is dense, no doubt there; but, IMHO, not dense enough to deter reading.

Of course, I'm more of a "learn-it-the-hard-way" person; mileage may differ for more easygoing people.

1 point by kaylarose 1 day ago 0 replies      
You can also find assignments, tests, lecture notes, lab notes, example and other course material to compliment Brian Harvey's course here:


(This is just one semester, you can find materials for almost every semester for the past few years with-some Google-fu)

1 point by vu3rdd 1 day ago 1 reply      
All these are great resources. I am going through this process right now. So far I am just using the book with Racket and occasionally watch Prof. Harvey's lectures. I also recommend reading "The little Schemer". It had a great influence in me and I really learnt how to think in terms of recursion from that book.

One suggestion I have is to never skip any of exercises. They extend the discussions and are often very thought provoking.

If there are like minded people in your city, it is a good idea to meet regularly and discuss solutions after working through them.

1 point by chrismealy 1 day ago 1 reply      
SICP really isn't that hard. It's just different. Just stick with it and you'll realize that you actually understand it.
1 point by ryanpers 1 day ago 1 reply      
I found that reading SCIP while stoned helps understanding. Give it a shot! I finally understood big-theta!
2 points by iasnj 1 day ago 0 replies      
Well it's good to know I'm not the only one that found SICP difficult. I started it recently and many of the exercises are tough.
Why HN was slow and how Rtm fixed it ycombinator.com
245 points by pg 21 hours ago   175 comments top 34
46 points by mmaunder 17 hours ago 3 replies      
"In 7 seconds, a hundred or more connections accumulate. So the server ends up with hundreds of threads, most of them probably waiting for input (waiting for the HTTP request). MzScheme can be inefficient when there are 100s of threads waiting for input -- when it wants to find a thread to run, it asks the O/S kernel about each socket in turn to see if any input is ready, and that's a lot of asking per thread switch if there are lots of threads. So the server is able to complete fewer requests per second when there is a big backlog, which lets more backlog accumulate, and perhaps it takes a long time for the server to recover."

I may have misunderstood but it sounds like you have MzScheme facing the open internet? Try putting nginx (or another epoll/kqueue based server) in front of MzScheme. It will handle the thousands of connections you have that are waiting for IO with very little incremental CPU load and with a single thread. Then when nginx reverse proxies to MzScheme each request happens very fast because it's local which means you need much fewer threads for your app server. That means less memory and less of the other overhead that you get with a high thread count.

An additional advantage is that you can enable keepalive again (right now you have it disabled it looks like) which makes things a faster for first-time visitors. It also makes it slightly faster for us regulars because the conditional gets we do for the gif's and css won't have to reestablish connections. Less connections established means you give your OS a break too with fewer syn/syn-ack/ack TCP handshakes.

Someone mentioned below that reverse proxies won't work for HN. They mean that caching won't work - but a reverse proxy like nginx that doesn't cache but handles high concurrency efficiently should give you a huge perf improvement.

PS: I'd love to help implement this free. I run a 600 req/sec site using nginx reverse proxying to apache.

34 points by cperciva 19 hours ago 0 replies      
pg / rtm: If you need any FreeBSD-related help, please let me know (preferably not in the next couple of days, though...). There are lots of HN fans in the FreeBSD developer community.
25 points by rarrrrrr 19 hours ago 4 replies      
Since no one has mentioned it yet - Varnish-cache.org, written by a FreeBSD kernel hacker, has a very nice feature, in that it will put all overlapping concurrent requests for the same cacheable resource "on hold", only fetch that resource once from the backend, then serve the same copy to all. Nearly all the expensive content on HN would be cacheable by varnish. Then you can get it down to pretty close to "1 backend request per content change" and stop worrying about how arbitrarily slow the actual backend server is, how many threads, how you deal with the socket, garbage collection, and all that.
9 points by jwr 20 hours ago 0 replies      
Which is why it's good to have a mature VM underneath your language. Paul's choice of basing an implementation of Arc on MzScheme was a very good one (I remember people criticizing him for not building a standalone implementation with a new VM).

I write time-critical applications in Clojure and JVM's -XX:+UseConcMarkSweepGC flag is a lifesaver. We no longer get those multi-second pauses when full GC occurs.

10 points by samdk 21 hours ago 1 reply      
The traffic graphs linked in this post [0] are an interesting addition to the "How often do you visit HN?" poll [1] that was done a week ago. From the graphs, it looks like there are about 10x as many page views as unique IPs.

[0] http://ycombinator.com/images/hntraffic-17jan11.png
[1] http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=2090191

18 points by kabdib 21 hours ago 2 replies      
I worked at a startup once that made a network card that did this type of buffering (wait for whole HTTP requests, then forward as a lump to the host, across a local fast bus).

Pretty whizzy, definitely helped server scaling.

We started shipping in 2001; the dot-com bust more or less canceled any interest in the product, and canceled the company, too . . .

9 points by antirez 19 hours ago 0 replies      
pg: you could probably try to write an event driven HTTP server on top of Arc, so that you don't have this kind of problems. Something like node.arc

Also if I understand correctly you use flat files that are loaded into memory at startup. It seems like that switching to Redis could be an interesting idea in theory, as it is more or less the implementation of this concept in an efficient and networked way.

Probably with such changes you can go from 20 to a few hundreds requests per second without problems.

23 points by ximeng 20 hours ago 0 replies      
Off-topically, piecing together the years that the previous posts were made, it looks like February 4 2009 had a downvote cap of 100. It's 500 as of late last year. That suggests the annual karma inflation rate in the HN economy is sqrt(5), or ~224%.
24 points by axod 19 hours ago 2 replies      
1 thread per connection??? Not doing continual GC in a separate thread and instead taking 7 seconds and blocking everything?

What is this the 1990s?

13 points by joshu 19 hours ago 1 reply      
Or you can put a reverse proxy in front.


(Like I suggested in 2009...)

10 points by idlewords 15 hours ago 1 reply      
Not being able to handle 20 requests/sec quickly, in 2011, for a read-mostly website is just shameful.
7 points by jey 21 hours ago 2 replies      
> when [MzScheme] wants to find a thread to run, it asks the O/S kernel about each socket in turn to see if any input is ready

They've never heard of select()? </snark>

But really, is there some reason that it's hard to collect up all the fds at once or something?

25 points by taylorbuley 20 hours ago 10 replies      
I feel silly asking, but who or what is 'rtm'?
8 points by allwein 20 hours ago 1 reply      
When I read this headline, my immediate thought was "Oh, he must have forgotten to shut down the copy of his worm that was running on the HN servers."


3 points by blinkingled 20 hours ago 3 replies      
Sounds like there is a scalability issue within MzScheme in that it iterates over the number of threads, asking each thread about the sockets it has. As one can tell, once # of threads and # of sockets grow - finding which thread to run in user space becomes awfully expensive. As any clever admin will do, a least invasive fix involving limiting the number of connections and threads was done - with what sounds like immediate results!

I have no idea what MzScheme is but I am curious about why is HN running threads in user space in 2011? The OS kernel knows best what thread to pick to run and that is a very well tuned, O(1) operation for Linux and Solaris.

4 points by PStamatiou 20 hours ago 0 replies      
Would be interesting to see if traffic goes up after this and is elastic. Marissa Mayer had a talk at some conference in 2009 where she explained her early tests on number of search results on Google - 10, 20, 25, 30 - but in the end it was just about the speed associated with loading the pages that accounted for the number of pageviews and visitors.
10 points by nc17 20 hours ago 2 replies      
YC ranks 2400 on Alexa, and I'm sure most of the traffic is HN. I bet you'd be hard-pressed to find a top 10k site written in Scheme. Does anyone know of one?


5 points by bootload 17 hours ago 1 reply      
is there any reason the noobs url (29 Apr: Faster, Fewer Flamewars) ~ http://news.ycombinator.com/noobs shows no results?
7 points by ezalor 20 hours ago 1 reply      
Reverse-proxying via nginx would solve this problem and more: the arbitrary 30 second limit on form submission (hotspots sometimes are slow...), nginx could handle rate limiting & logging instead of srv.arc, etc. The Arc codebase would btw be smaller and cleaner (no policy/sanitization code, etc.).

Serving static content via Apache was a first step ;-)

Don't reinvent the wheel!

2 points by alain94040 16 hours ago 1 reply      
I have a proposal to settle flamewars by the way. I had meant to propose something like this (a debate solver) for years. Here it is:

After 4 levels of back and forth (Joe says "...", Tim replies, then Joe replies once more, then Tim replies again), freeze that branch, hide it from the general public, and turn the branch into a settlement: both Tim and Joe are allowed one final comment each, that they both approve. Only once they have posted this compromise, is it shown in-place, where the original sub-thread used to be.

Simple. Prevents endless arguments. Good for everyone.

3 points by Luyt 20 hours ago 1 reply      
"It turns out there is a hack in FreeBSD, invented by Filo, that causes the O/S not to give a new connection to the server until an entire HTTP request has arrived."

I wouldn't call it a hack, but a feature ;-)

    # Buffer a HTTP request in the kernel 
# until it's completely read.

Is HackerNews web scale?

9 points by earle 20 hours ago 3 replies      
HN only supports 20 req per second???
4 points by dauphin 20 hours ago 2 replies      
> It turns out there is a hack in FreeBSD, invented by Filo, that causes the O/S not to give a new connection to the server until an entire HTTP request has arrived. This might reduce the number of threads a lot, and thus improve performance; I'll give it a try today or tomorrow.

Anyone know if they're referring to "accept filters" here? FreeBSD folks can "man accf_http" if they're curious, which does prevent a request from being handed off to the application until the complete (and valid?) request has been made. Certainly not a "hack" but a feature of the OS itself.

Or they could use a proxy. All this "fuck me I'm famous" attitude is stupid.

7 points by gms 21 hours ago 7 replies      
Who's Filo? David Filo?
3 points by richcollins 20 hours ago 1 reply      
Sounds like a switch to async I/O would be helpful.
2 points by jacquesm 19 hours ago 0 replies      
Let's hope that puts an end to all the time-outs!

Thanks for the work and it sure seems to be a lot more responsive.

1 point by js4all 17 hours ago 0 replies      

  > In 7 seconds, a hundred or more connections accumulate. So  
> the server ends up with hundreds of threads, most of them
> probably waiting for input

This is why Nginx handles large site much better. The request are queued without spawning threads. Evented I/O for the rescue.

3 points by rograndom 20 hours ago 0 replies      
I was getting connection errors less than an hour ago, so I'm not sure if it actually worked.
1 point by MikeCapone 21 hours ago 0 replies      
Neat. All I can say is: Thanks!
1 point by dauphin 20 hours ago 2 replies      
Lisp is definitely not a slow language: you can handle the crazy rate of 20 requests/second on a multi-core server!
1 point by spydum 20 hours ago 0 replies      
Does seem a bit faster -- could be placebo though :)
-1 point by seanfchan 20 hours ago 0 replies      
Yes placebo, oh our brains, though its not mid day just yet :)
-2 points by dhimes 19 hours ago 0 replies      
Sorry, guys, it was entirely my fault. I got Michael Grinich's iphone HN app and just love the damn thing. :)
-4 points by mbubb 17 hours ago 4 replies      
I find it disturbing to see people asking "Who is Rtm?" "Who is filo?"

I understand if you are in tech you might not know figures in history or literature... but these guys?

Every time you login to a UNIX/Linux system you use the passwd file and related setup - authored at least in part by Rtm's father.


Rtm has done lots in his own right as the wikipdia pages show.

But seriously - if you don't know who these people are you really should.

Read this:

and maybe ESR's writings and that online anthology of the early Apple days and old issues of 2600, etc, etc

I am sorry - but it is really irritating to me that someone would be on this site and really not be aware of the deeper history and culture. It is not that deep - 1950s to present (to cover Lisp).

As Jay-Z (whom you probably know) says - "Go read a book you illiterate son of a bitch and step up your vocab ..."

I Can Crack Your App With Just A Shell (And How To Stop Me) kswizz.com
242 points by SeoxyS 2 days ago   89 comments top 29
49 points by snorkel 2 days 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.
39 points by TheAmazingIdiot 2 days 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).

15 points by moopark 2 days 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:


10 points by kennet 2 days 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.

14 points by albertogh 2 days 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 2 days 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.

4 points by morganpyne 2 days 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 :-)

5 points by bermanoid 2 days ago 3 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.

5 points by dangero 2 days 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.

3 points by ay 2 days 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.

10 points by middus 2 days ago 2 replies      
Well, that's more than just a shell.
1 point by dedward 2 days 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)

1 point by jmillikin 2 days 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?

1 point by andrewljohnson 2 days 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 2 days 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 2 days 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).

2 points by lelele 2 days 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 pwim 2 days 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?
1 point by EGreg 2 days 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 oniTony 2 days 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
3 points by m0shen 2 days ago 0 replies      
1 point by Kilimanjaro 2 days 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 vinhboy 2 days 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.
1 point by mcantor 2 days 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"?
2 points by 16s 2 days ago 0 replies      
Linking statically helps too (not sure that's doable with Apple) then stripping and packing.
2 points by jckarter 2 days ago 0 replies      
Crackers aren't your customers. Don't waste time/money on them.
1 point by xster 1 day ago 0 replies      
Excellent article, especially with code
0 points by mobileed 2 days ago 0 replies      
Amature crack for an amature protection.
-1 point by shashashasha 2 days ago 0 replies      
Read this title as a Mario Kart reference. Oops.
My Experiences as a Female Software Engineer jeanhsu.com
238 points by jeanhsu 3 days ago   209 comments top 18
17 points by HilbertSpace 3 days 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.

26 points by fleitz 3 days 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.

44 points by peteforde 3 days 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 3 days 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.

25 points by luu 3 days 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?

43 points by nostrademons 3 days 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.

13 points by binbasti 3 days 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.

20 points by ernestipark 3 days 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 3 days 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

8 points by brainfsck 3 days 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?

4 points by patrickgzill 3 days 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

5 points by Stormbringer 3 days 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 scottjad 3 days 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 dennisgorelik 3 days 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.

1 point by Tycho 1 day ago 0 replies      
A lot of tech people do seem intent on 'sandbagging' engineers of feebler talent/knowledge. Some of the conversations remind me of this:

The thing is the uber-geeks do this to each other too, the difference is to them it's water off a duck's back.

5 points by leon_ 3 days 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 3 days 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 2 days 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.

The polynomial algorithm for 3-SAT problem (or P=NP) romvf.wordpress.com
234 points by caustic 16 hours ago   133 comments top 22
44 points by cperciva 16 hours ago replies      
I'm not at all an expert on this material, but some random points to get people started:

0. This guy looks orders of magnitude less looney than the usual P=NP prover. I hope someone who knows this material well steps in soon.

1. This guy has implemented his algorithm. This is a very good sign -- most garbage "algorithms" are exposed to be broken when people try to implement them.

2. Most 3SAT problems are "easy". Being able to solve a particular problem doesn't mean that the algorithm works in general. He would have done better to demonstrate his algorithm on "known hard" problems.

3. He states a running time of O(n^4 m), but his experimental results don't scale quite like this; perhaps his analysis is wrong, or perhaps there's just a monster hiding behind the big-O.

4. If he is correct, and his algorithm is optimal, we probably don't need to worry very much about cryptography yet: It looks like this algorithm is far too slow to be a practical attack on existing cryptosystems.

(EDIT: Oops, in the time it took me to write that, 18 other people posted comments. Well, so much for getting the discussion started...)

54 points by tanis 15 hours ago 1 reply      
I've read the paper fairly closely, and it mostly seems like the author is hiding a conflict-driven search in ill-stated data structures, which allow him to perform a faulty analysis of the runtime of his algorithm.

I've implemented a SAT solver and read the literature extensively. This paper is not up the standards of clarity imposed by that literature, see, eg, "Efficient Conflict Driven Learning in a Boolean Satisfiability Solver" (Zhang, available for free online). There is a world of difference in the clarity of presentation between these two papers. There might be an English language barrier problem operating, I don't know.

If the author did some work to polish his presentation and state definitions more clearly, as well as submit his SAT solver to well know competitions, (http://www.satcompetition.org/2011/), I'm sure he could get some attention from the relevant people. Given how clear it looks right now, I'm too busy with my own research to try and pull out the hidden conflict-driven algorithm that I suspect exists in this paper, as it would be very time-consuming for little expected gain on my end.

If his algorithm beats the pants off all the others in SAT 2011, well, then I'd get right down to work.

Homework for someone who has some time: download his code and make it run on SAT 2010. Compare to other algorithms from that competition. Not, of course, a definitive test, but it it performs even in the middle of the pack, then you'll know it is worth a closer look.

6 points by A1kmm 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Is anyone else struggling to understand theorem 2 on pages 15-16?

It sounds like what they are saying is equivalent to the following:
If S1 intersect S2 has a solution, and S1 intersect S3 has a solution, then the system S1 intersect S2 intersect S3 has a solution.

But this is evidently false. Consider the case where the CTS included each of the following rows, and were empty everywhere else (after re-ordering the columns so the same-name columns were in the same final column):

  (1) 000 
(2) 001
(3) 0 00

In this case, (1) and (2) are consistent, and (1) and (3) are consistent, but (2) and (3) are inconsistent.

I suspect the problem they set up the induction for might not perfectly align with the theorem, but it needs more careful examination.

25 points by jackfoxy 16 hours ago 1 reply      
OK, I just upvoted purely for the reason of keeping it on the front page a little longer so someone more qualified has a chance to glance at this. Without any evidence and no qualification to judge myself, it seems highly unlikely.
3 points by leelin 15 hours ago 2 replies      
Where is the market among the HN community on betting this proof is correct (or the market for P=NP in general)?

My bid/ask is 0% / 0.02%

I think I'd wager at most a 1% chance that P = NP, and, I'll be generous and put the odds that this particular person cracked it first at 2% of 1% (I know he has code posted, but think of all the smart people who failed, and within my 1% is the case where P=NP but no human ever proves it). Would anyone offer better odds than 1 in 5,000, or make a bid?

My knowledge is limited to taking Sipser's intro class in school; but as a programmer, I always find subset-sum to be the most tangible and convincing example that NP-hard feels pretty tough.

I love these announcements though; I am always humbled and fascinated by the resulting discussion.

6 points by mitko 12 hours ago 1 reply      
tl,dr version of his strategy (as far as I understood it)

1. For a fixed permutation construct a Viterbi-like search on the triplet assignments - if it fails it is not satisfiable. However, if it doesn't fail right away, there is still no guarantee there is an assignment. Call this structure compact triplet (CTF) or whatever.

2. Constuct a small set of permutation (at most m) for which
every clause in the original CNF failing to satisfy will mean that at least one of these permutations CTFs will fail to satisfy.

3. Efficiently? combine the structures.

I didn't really read it deeply but that from what I understood that seems to be the top level strategy. I'm not 100% certain about it.

4 points by RiderOfGiraffes 8 hours ago 1 reply      
What we should do is generate a class of instances of 3-SAT that are expected to be hard, and then try the solver on them and see what the runtime looks like as a function of the size of the input.

Recently someone claimed a polynomial-time graph coloring algorithm. I generated hard instances, their "solver" blew up. Claim debunked. It should be simple enough to do the same for this (for some definition of simple).

The key lies in generating hard instances. As cperciva has said in http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=2121837 - most instances of most NPC problems are "easy."

7 points by CJefferson 6 hours ago 0 replies      
Having read this paper (and being reasonably knowledgeable on the subject), I'm convinced this paper is wrong, or at least very underexplained.

The algorithm uses an algorithm similar to the well-known '3-consistency', which has been shown to solve quite a lot of classes of problems, in particular some that are solved very poorly by the normal learning-based systems used in most SAT solvers.

The paper aims to strengthen 3-consistency slightly, using permutations. However, while that is a reasonable strategy, it is entirely unclear to me, and unclear in the paper, while that gives poly-time solving time.

8 points by jey 16 hours ago 5 replies      
Why do we think this is worthy of voting up? Is there any reason to think it might be correct?
3 points by equark 16 hours ago 3 replies      
I know nothing about N=NP debate, but does the claim P=NP and the existence of a published algorithm (https://github.com/anjlab/sat3) make this claim easier to verify than the claim P!=NP. Isn't the point that P=NP has great practical significance that will be immediately recognized?
7 points by chucknthem 16 hours ago 1 reply      
Just this months there's another paper on arXive that uses 3-SAT to proove P!=NP http://arxiv.org/abs/1101.2018

A list of articles published on the P=NP debate is here http://www.win.tue.nl/~gwoegi/P-versus-NP.htm

Looks like someone thinks they've solved the problem every month or so :)

5 points by slashcom 15 hours ago 2 replies      
Zero other (english) publications by the author in the Cornell archive and only four references within. Not an indicator as to whether the paper is correct (I haven't read it), but that's "smelly".
1 point by tybris 6 hours ago 0 replies      
Right, he just didn't want to submit it to a peer-reviewed journal?
3 points by foobarbazoo 14 hours ago 1 reply      
Time to fire up Coq and really prove it.
1 point by gus_massa 15 hours ago 0 replies      
I don't understand something in the blog post. What did they proved in 2002 and what is the new result that they proved now?
0 points by Tichy 4 hours ago 0 replies      
I think before I would publish such a thing widely, I would ask a few friends to double check.
0 points by EGreg 6 hours ago 0 replies      
Could it be ... P = NP? Most people suspected otherwise.

Someone should really verify his algorithm on various SAT sets. But I have to say that his approach is very good and humble... he suggests he may have solved the problem -- but it is up to us to verify! I'd like to follow this further, so I bookmarked it via an upvote.

2 points by ezalor 15 hours ago 1 reply      
Guess it's time to switch my SSH key to 4096 bits ECDSA. Good bye RSA.
-4 points by hc 16 hours ago 1 reply      
-4 points by bdr 16 hours ago 3 replies      
This is easy: just put your algorithm behind a web API. When I'm solving my NP-complete problems instantaneously, for free, I'll believe you.
-4 points by phamilton 16 hours ago 7 replies      
I don't think one example constitutes a conclusion. While demonstrating the nonexistance of an algorithm for 3-SAT problem would prove P!=NP, the existance of an algorithm merely means "Move along, let's try a different difficult algorithm"
Tarsnap critical security bug daemonology.net
227 points by spuz 1 day ago   121 comments top 22
99 points by tptacek 1 day ago replies      
Tarsnap had a CTR nonce collision. It's a bad bug that's fairly common and easy to explain.

CTR mode turns AES into a stream cipher, meaning it can encrypt a byte at a time instead of 16 bytes at a time. It does this by using the block cipher core to encrypt counters, which produces a "keystream" that you can XOR against plaintext to use as a stream cipher.

For this to be secure, as with any stream cipher, it is crucial that the keystream never repeat. If you encrypt two plaintexts under the same keystream, you can XOR them together to cryptanalyze them; even easier, if you know the contents of one of the plaintexts, you can XOR the known plaintext against the ciphertext to recover the keystream!

To avoid repeating keystreams, CTR mode uses a nonce, which is a long cryptographically secure random number concatented to the counter before encrypting.

To avoid that catastrophic security bug, CTR mode users have to make sure the nonce never repeats (and also that the counter never repeats, e.g. by wrapping). We have found both bugs multiple times in shipping products, and now Colin found it in his product.

And so I come to the moral of my story: Colin is clearly a gifted crypto dev. He can talk lucidly and at length about the best ways to design crypto-secured protocols. He has found crypto flaws in major systems before. He is as expert as you could expect anyone to be on any product.

And Colin didn't get it right; what's more, the manner in which he got it wrong was devastating (in cryptographic terms).

Colin handled this well, largely due to the fact that he's an expert and knows how to handle it.

How likely is it that anyone less capable than Colin could have handled it so well? Moreover, if Colin can make a devastating mistake with his crypto code, how many worse mistakes would a non-expert make?

You should avoid writing crypto code if at all possible. Nate Lawson is fond of saying, "you should budget 10 times as much to verification as you do for construction of cryptosystems"; I would amend that only to add a price floor to it, because you cannot get real validation of a cryptosystem for less than many tens of thousands of dollars --- if your system is simple.

57 points by chaosmachine 1 day ago replies      
"if you roll your own crypto, and it breaks, you will look incompetent." - tptacek to cperciva, 313 days ago.


(not that I know anything about crypto)

7 points by paulitex 1 day ago 3 replies      
This is a perfect example of why we shouldn't have (or not allowing the use of) ++ in languages. If instead of being buried in a long statement, the increment had been explicit on its own line there's a much smaller chance this bug would have happened.

Which is easier to miss?

aes_ctr(&encr_aes->key, encr_aes->nonce++, buf, len, filebuf + CRYPTO_FILE_HLEN);


aes_ctr(&encr_aes->key, encr_aes->nonce, buf, len, filebuf + CRYPTO_FILE_HLEN);

ncr_aes->nonce += 1;


5 points by mrduncan 1 day ago 0 replies      
This is an excellent example of why you shouldn't write your own crypto code - Colin is awesome at it and even he makes mistakes.

Edit: To be clear, this isn't aimed at Colin but meant to point out that if he still occasionally gets it wrong there's a pretty good chance that your fancy custom encryption method does too.

7 points by drx 1 day ago 1 reply      
That's fast. I got the email two minutes earlier :)

I meant to say this in an email, but big props to Colin for being transparent about this and responding to the issue the way he did. I'm sure it wasn't an easy weekend.

4 points by aristus 1 day ago 1 reply      
This may be a naive question, but are unit tests for encryption code a reasonable idea? eg, each revision is tested against a known set of data and a known set of common attacks.
1 point by JacobAldridge 1 day ago 0 replies      
I'm a massive fan of tarsnap, even though I have no need for it and probably don't have the technical competence to use it anyway. Given that using the product isn't why I'm a fan, I can only put that down to Colin - and this post, with its technical openness, easy to understand (for a layman-of-sorts) crypto and code explanation, and humility demonstrates why.

All that, plus explaining how to delete and offering a refund will probably cost only a small number of picodollars, and is worth a lot more to tarsnap's credibility.

2 points by poet 1 day ago 2 replies      
When even someone like Colin introduces a crypto bug like this, it makes you wonder. Are we ever going to get to a place where crypto engineering is something the open source community can take on? How long did it take to push people to stop writing C programs with trivial vulnerabilities? And that's something you can write a static analyzer for. No so with crypto.
3 points by mooneater 1 day ago 2 replies      
Its good users were notified to upgrade, but I am surprised he revealed as many details this soon. Does that not further reduce security for the end user for data they have stored with the old version?
6 points by miGlanz 1 day ago 1 reply      
Colin, one question: let's say I'm not paranoid about my backups' security. So I don't want to re-encrypt anything (even though it's only about 1GB). How does upgrade to 1.0.28 affect existing and new backups (and deduplication among those)?
3 points by there 1 day ago 1 reply      
tarsnap had a government backdoor! colin just did this to get publicity! colin just did this to get a free security audit!


1 point by alecco 1 day ago 1 reply      
"Tarsnap compresses its chunks of data before encrypting them. While the compresion is not perfect (there are, for instance, some predictable header bits), I do not believe that enough information is leaked to make such a ciphertext-only attack feasible."

That part is very important. Compress then encrypt. Here you see competent crypto applications playing safe covering for unexpected problems. I say well done Colin! Full disclosure and best practices.

1 point by DavidSJ 1 day ago 1 reply      
Colin, thanks for the explanation. I suggest an additional change to your pre-release process: all code must be peer reviewed. This is by far the most effective quality control measure you can implement, much more so than unit testing or "double-checking". I wouldn't trust any mission-critical production code that hasn't been peer-reviewed, much less crypto code.
3 points by StavrosK 1 day ago 0 replies      
Cryptography is hard, but someone has to do it.
1 point by nwmcsween 1 day ago 4 replies      
I planned on modifying tarsnap to work on local files and upload to different resources (dropbox, local, etc) but as I dug in and looked at the license I noticed this little gem in COPYING "Redistribution and use in source and binary forms, without modification,
is permitted for the sole purpose of using the "tarsnap" backup service". Why even provide source if the license doesn't allow me to do anything with said source? I can't create a patch without being litigated and I won't due to that.
1 point by apowell 1 day ago 1 reply      
Will a backup created in 1.0.28 still be de-duplicated against backups created in previous versions of Tarsnap?
1 point by Groxx 1 day ago 1 reply      
This seems like it would be a fantastic reason to develop a crypto-linter. Not that I think such a thing would be easy - but it could be immensely simplified by defining things like a "must change" attribute on parameters like that "encr_aes" pointer in library code, to flag potential incorrect use.
1 point by Splines 1 day ago 1 reply      
Isn't this the same category of bug that led to the Sony master key leak? Amusing, if so.
0 points by joanou 1 day ago 0 replies      
I applaud the openness of this submittal. Nobody's perfect and the topic is difficult and the implementation is tricky to get absolutely right.

At AltDrive, we use a nonce generated w/ secure random and that is used for encrypting an entire file in CTR (EAX) mode. The issue with 64k chunks does not apply. The mature and well-respected BouncyCastle AES-256 libraries are used from the low level API. Usage of the API was independently reviewed by the BouncyCastle organization. I can share that on the AltDrive blog if anyone is interested. http://altdrive.com

2 points by grourk 1 day ago 0 replies      
Looks like you rolled a hard six. ;-)
0 points by monological 1 day ago 1 reply      
tarsnap.com has exceeded their app engine quota. Not good for business.
0 points by dauphin 1 day ago 0 replies      
My new online code analyser program, sponsored by AMD, could have prevented this bug.
Goodbye Facebook theaboutness.com
230 points by nicholalexander 2 days ago   109 comments top 31
88 points by kunjaan 1 day ago 7 replies      
Does anyone else avoid Facebook because they themselves suck as person? I don't use FB because the activities on it are things I am better off not doing.

I felt strange doing anything on it because I felt people were judging me. It was like I had developed this persona of an educated and successful and fun person when I was on it because I hadn't made any new "friends" since beginning grad school and I was so stressed out, miserable and broke that I was never brave enough to admit it on my own.

After surfing through the countless photos of my friend's girlfriend or my ex gf, I honestly used to feel guilty with the voyeurism. I use to feel hurt seeing my ex gf happy, lonely seeing old friends enjoying themselves, smirk seeing my friend do something stupid. I hated when people tagged me for the same reasons.

I wasted tons of time friending people I would not even wish birthday. I spent countless awkward chat conversations that never went beyond "I had a great day". I spent useless time tweaking my photos and wall so that my family wouldn't see the language that I or my friends were using. I tried to post Go's result on my wall. It became less of enjoying the game than to acquire certain points so that I could post them on my wall.

I logged into Facebook when I didnt have anything to do, which happened a lot. I used to open Facebook like I opened my email and reddit. After a while I just felt too shitty.

I deleted the account. I share photos through Flickr. Not all my friends are there but those who are have taught me a lot about taking photographs. I joined Blip.fm. Not all my friends are there but those who are truly share the passion I have for music. I deleted all my contacts in the messenger and added only those that I truly feel comfortable talking to.

My girlfriend calls me anti social. But she too has come to accept that Facebook is prone to our weakest traits as humans. We love attentions. We love to think of ourselves as something we want to be. We trade our true feelings to be included. We want to be popular. We want our taste in music and art to be value. We crave for external success. It was like high school all over again.

48 points by rewind 2 days ago 3 replies      
I find it humorous that there is such a need to DEFINE Facebook. It's different things to different people. We really don't need one definition of what it is or a nice tidy list of the ways people use it, what the benefits are, what the drawbacks are, etc. Every time I read about somebody complaining about Facebook, I usually just end up thinking "I don't use it (exactly) that way, so this doesn't (completely) apply to me."

I have a lot of friends that I don't see more than once every year or two, but I will be close to them until the day I die. I like seeing their status updates, their vacation photos, their kids, etc. Facebook makes our connection stronger, not weaker. It doesn't replace the need to see them and talk to them; it makes those infrequent visits/conversations better when they happen because it feels like we haven't really been out of touch for so long.

18 points by motters 2 days ago 4 replies      
There is perhaps some chance that I could be wrong due to the substantial inertia which Facebook has now accumulated, but I expect that it's just another fad which seems to be peaking if my spider-senses are correct. Facebook is not a particularly brilliant application and the amount of value it delivers is also not that great. If you're a Facebook user or addict, just pause for a moment and ask yourself how much actual value you're getting out of it relative to the time invested.
19 points by seanalltogether 2 days ago 2 replies      
I don't believe that facebook is the technological fad that tech pundits want them to be. They have infected the infrastructure of the web in ways that livejournal and myspace never could.
7 points by yuvadam 2 days ago 2 replies      
This is a very important article. An eye opener.

My takeaway is this - Facebook is the first web application that showed us how easy it is to connect to the people we love, as well as those we know, but do not care about.

Facebook is the mere beginning of the way we will communicate in the future. It has its gripes, and people are starting to get bored with it ("ok so I friended her, now what?").

Nothing happens on Facebook.

Facebook, in my opinion, will eventually fade, and make room for new models of human communication, ones which do give us an added benefit instead of poking and secretly stalking our ex-girlfriend.

13 points by mdg 2 days ago 0 replies      
This movie is not about Facebook. If you watch the behind-the-scenes documentary on the 2nd disk, they even tell you this. Facebook, in the context of this movie, was just a vessel to deliver a story about building something big and conflict. Much as a tortilla chip is a vessel for nacho cheese.
5 points by dusklight 1 day ago 0 replies      
This article is illogical.

Saying that facebook connects people only in ways limited by the imagination if its creators is true. But still, it CONNECTS PEOPLE. By deleting facebook without finding a replacement that is better than facebook, you are losing this new way of connecting people. Stuff like skype works for connecting with a relatively small social circle. Facebook allows a looser but also much larger circle. Presumably a better means of communication will come along sooner or later. The telephone replaced the telegraph, myspace replaced friendster, but until it comes along facebook(twitter?) is still the best means for this new large scale high volume asynchronous communication that we have.

4 points by igravious 1 day ago 0 replies      
Zadie Smith is one of my favorite authors. She has a jaw-droppingly gorgeous prose style. It would be nice (for someone) to link to her article (so I will) that prompted this dude to delete his account. http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2010/nov/25/generat...

Her insights and arguments really needs to be read by everyone of our generation in full, and I mean that in all sincerity. It articulates all the misgivings and worries I have about this phenomenon that has always left a slightly bad taste in my mouth and felt vaguely repellent.

In addendum: I pray for the day I can convert my thoughts into words as judiciously and compellingly, verily I would sell my soul for that knack.

4 points by chriseidhof 1 day ago 0 replies      
I quit Facebook about half a year ago and I find it very refreshing. It's too bad I miss some events, but it is so relaxing. No longer do I have to think with every picture: this would be good for Facebook. No longer do I spend hours looking at pictures of people I don't know. No longer is my private information shared. Finally: when I meet people, I can tell a story without having to hear: "yeah, I read it on Facebook".
4 points by idm 1 day ago 1 reply      
Not a single comment on that great blog post. Where is the discussion? In a vibrant community like Hacker News.

Facebook has something valuable... we've already logged in, so there's no barrier to making a comment that is voiced from our own identity. Fewer clicks, no barriers, and boom - the comment is public.

But Hacker News does that for me, since I have a long-lasting cookie that I don't clear... hence this comment... and nothing "social" happening on that blog. Interesting.

4 points by ojbyrne 2 days ago 2 replies      
My girlfriend also deleted her account immediately after watching the movie. If there's 2 people, there must be more.
3 points by sudonim 2 days ago 3 replies      
Facebook is an amazing product. However, the more facebook unravels their plans for the future, and the more we learn about their past, the less I trust them.

We can write to hacker news with our articles, bitching and moaning about facebook, or quietly build an alternative social network with the values we want.

2 points by dstein 1 day ago 3 replies      
What is starting to really irk me about Facebook is how birthdays are handled. It's like the site is basically one big happy birthday wish site. Each day it's somebody else's birthday and all their friends take turns trying to write a somewhat unique birthday wish, like:

Friend #1: Happy Birthday!


Friend #3: happy b-day!

Friend #4: Have a wonderful birthday!

And it goes on and on down the list. Some unfortunate people feel the need to individually reply to each and every birthday wish. Each day it's like this for a different person, until once a year when it's your birthday and then everyone's doing it to you.

It's really, really stupid. And I wish there was just a way for me to automatically generate and deliver my friends a birthday wish on the right date. But the Facebook API prevents you from being able to post to your friends wall.

Tear down those garden walls Mr. Zuckerberg!!

1 point by scotch_drinker 1 day ago 0 replies      
I wonder if there isn't a correlation amongst Facebook users that falls along introvert-extrovert lines. Specifically, I wonder if introverts aren't more likely to be disappointed with their experiences with Facebook because they crave deep, interpersonal relationships with fewer people while extroverts are satisfied with Facebook because it allows them to keep up to date with hundreds of people.

I find that I regularly check Facebook and am regularly disappointed with what I encounter there both as it relates to the activities of my friends and their responses to my activities. I tend to want deeper feedback and discussion which clearly isn't the model for Facebook. Whereas I know plenty of extrovert friends who love Facebook, are constantly checking in and because they have hundreds of friends, are constantly validated.

Certainly this is all anecdotal and biased given that I'm strongly introverted but every time I see someone say they are giving up Facebook or are disappointed in it (including myself), it seems to me that person is most likely introverted and thus not well served by the end goals of Facebook.

2 points by wildmXranat 1 day ago 0 replies      
I tweeted the fact that my blog about quitting Facebook has been published. So meta that it hurts.

This article amounts to a wisp of air amongst a wind of change. It's a tad late, but better late than never. Some users of Facebook will never quit. It's a realization that permeated Facebook's offices for a long time and these are the users that just don't care period. With blinders on, they will obey the rules, and let their online privacy erode.

What's more important, and the conversation that we should be having: where to go next? What's our collective need that an online network can fulfill ? Maybe it's not online and in fact, going backwards is the new cool. Who knows?

2 points by phwd 1 day ago 0 replies      
It is great that he has come to his conclusion on whether he should delete or not. Though... I see the movie for what it is ... just a movie intended to inspire or incite dislike , how much of it is in line with facts who knows ( e.g. where was Adam D'Angelo ?) . To use it as any part of the deletion decision making process does not seem right and seems that maybe the approach/reason for joining the social network was not the correct one. For me this means losing years worth of photos, messages, events that I went to ... I lived my life through facebook and I didn't have to write a single word in a journal. With the new messaging platform http://www.facebook.com/about/messages/ and personal email address contact with friends and acquaintances are now possible without wall posts.

In 2005-2006 (I just started at McGill) when it was still within campuses it was like wild fire and when I watched the movie , I completely related and recalled sitting down with room-mates and class-mates browsing dozens of girls in the school. There were no games just mainly wall posts and photos. You cannot relate that to now ... it is just not equivalent. Privacy was the same back then as it is now... people are just more aware of it or they grew older and understood the effects it wil have with their jobs, lives etc.

> What we actually want to do is the bare minimum, just like any nineteen-year-old college boy who'd rather be doing something else, or nothing.

Yes Zadie Smith is right ... this was never meant for the old folks (no offense), when it started those are the only people there were 18-22 year old college students looking for the bare minimum.

Times are changing though and these kids start to grow up, thus changes to try to satisfy all. But to me it seems harder and harder to define.

Russia has Vkontakte
Japan has Mixi

So hopefully the author finds what he is looking for. I would start by just picking up the phone and calling someone. That is my Dad's way of keeping up with his social network. After he finishes work everyday, he has a 5-10 convo with his old friends and co-workers. Sometimes he even visits... (It is a no-brainer but somehow these days people find this hard to do)

> 500 million sentient people entrapped in the recent careless thoughts of a Harvard sophomore

Is a 26 year old billionaire in charge of a 500 M network something someone would want to fail ? Are the 2000 or so employees that work there doing it for the vision of Zuckerburg? Is jealousy that strong ? I dont want it to fail. I want to be some percentage of whatever he is when I reach 26 not by personality but achievement. Why should I wait for maturity to achieve things, I want to fall, get back up, fall and fall some more if it means I reach closer to what he did (no matter how simple the idea was). It is as if he is not allowed to mature or people are still looking at him as a sophomore that sent those sms messages. He does get assistance from his COO Sheryl Sandberg http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/03/business/03face.html so maybe back in creation the site was a reflection of the immature sophomore but now it is something different.

4 points by flurie 1 day ago 0 replies      
Few people seem to entertain options between Facebook addiction and account deletion. I have a simple practical use for it: easy access to acquaintances. Here's a recent story I can share.

I was on vacation in DC with friends, and I walked right past a girl I was certain was a friend of mine from college. I found her number on Facebook, sent her a text, and found out that it was her. We met up for drinks the next evening. Do we chat regularly as a result of having met up? No, but we enjoyed reminiscing and sharing our stories.

12 points by smoyer 2 days ago 1 reply      
Wow ... that makes me want to sign up with Facebook just so I can join the "delete my account" club.
2 points by tarkin2 1 day ago 1 reply      
I don't know. The author seems to think we'll become Zuckerberg's zombie army due to extended Facebook use. So was the same true of the time UseNet? MSN Messenger? And all those others when they were highly popular? Weren't we trapped in their creators' worlds? With before, when new tech comes along, with an interface, or "world" we prefer to use, then we'll move on. We'll interface with people on the web in a different way. Habits come and go.
1 point by al3x 1 day ago 0 replies      
I found it funny that the author quoted the bit in the Zadie Smith piece about the absurdity of the Facebook format right before you reach the end of his post, complete with tags and permalinks.

I'm not a Facebook fan, but I don't know that is does worse than most technology at being humane.

1 point by narrator 1 day ago 0 replies      
I only post stuff to Facebook that I would tell any random stranger, like I had a good trip somewhere or I read a good book or I saw a movie. Even if I was convinced of the privacy of that site, I still want there to be a bit of mystery.
1 point by nhangen 2 days ago 0 replies      
Strange, I was a FB hater until I watched the movie, at which point I wanted to find more reasons to like it (though the releasing of phone #'s and address data didn't help).

My wife, on the other hand, liked Zuck less by the end of the movie, even though she knew it was mostly sensationalized. It still hasn't changed her FB behavior.

0 points by gabea 1 day ago 0 replies      
I too struggle with the idea of what Facebook has become and currently is, just like many others. However, I cannot help but feel that anyone who speaks against Facebook is simply jealous that they could not fit 500 million+ users into their own representation of social interactions taken online. Facebook just like many of it's predecessors (hotOrNot.com,addictinggames.com, forumns, aol instant messenger) has combined the best features of these already existent sites into a single trustworthy one. You no longer have to scour the internet to obtain the pleasure that these type of sites produced.

It is this concept of entertainment that makes Facebook what it is today. A single source of entertainment, and a place to peak deeper into the lives of those around you with or without participating in those lives. As with many different forms of entertainment if you indulge too deeply you are consumed by your indulgence.

For the time being Facebook has a place on the internet. Will it be a main stay for years to come? Well that is very hard to predict. I truly believe Facebook's biggest internet value add will come in the form of an online digital pass. I feel those leading Facebook's directions also believe that too. If they can satisfy the majority of its users basic desire for entertainment, continue to build out the graph API, and keep giving more reasons for businesses to utilize the graph API then soon enough Facebook will will realize what Microsoft never was able to with the Microsoft Passport from the Internets early days.

1 point by wippler 1 day ago 0 replies      
Why do these facebook account deletion articles always have to be either "addiction" or "deletion". Regarding the article, its kinda stupid to generalize that we are all living in the world with rules set by Mark, if I take that generalization much further we are living in the real world with rules set by people higher up in the chain. But thats not true as you can see that lot of people around you behave/act differently to these things.

Biggest takeaway for me from the article is that enormous amount of time, thought spent on yet another communication medium in evolving world. I have to wonder how scared people were when they first saw email!!

1 point by alsocasey 1 day ago 0 replies      
The far more substantial commentary by Zaddie Smith (http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2010/nov/25/generat...), which the author refers to a few times should really have been the article linked. The author's entire point is much more eloquently made by the original.
1 point by pkuhad 1 day ago 0 replies      
The circulation of current generation after two or three years, who is more into facebook right now, will come to know it is sucking them, there is nothing which adds something into them apart from being cluttered forcefully in so called 'social' stuffs.
1 point by shankx 1 day ago 0 replies      
We all love to hate Facebook but cannot deny the fact that it has become a part of our lives.
1 point by nervechannel 2 days ago 1 reply      
0 points by stcredzero 2 days ago 3 replies      
The degree to which China is not connected in the visualization at the bottom, I find worrisome. Why? Because connection and commerce are the true foundations of peace. By that thinking, visualization is not a good omen. (Maybe we should just chalk it up to language?)
1 point by AppDev054 1 day ago 0 replies      
Interesting that the comments so far (69) are mostly a comparison of value vs risk.

If you get enough value out of Facebook, it is worth the risk, otherwise it is quickly discarded.

-1 point by Tichy 2 days ago 0 replies      
Maybe one day we'll hear something like this about Facebook, too: http://www.theonion.com/video/internet-archaeologists-find-r...
Eek, A Male wsj.com
219 points by georgecmu 1 day ago   165 comments top 21
32 points by alexophile 1 day ago 5 replies      
[I originally posted this on a reddit discussion, link's at the bottom]

  One day, my friend Bryan was charged with the daunting task of getting Ellie, one of the older and more difficult students, to read out of a children's book for a distinct and measurable amount of time.

After some cajoling, pleading, and maybe even trickery, the two were finally sitting down at a table with myself and another student. To keep Ellie in control long enough to read more than a sentance was a complicated maneuver, but the best way (this was relayed by the teacher-coordinator person) involved being really close with him and loosely holding him in place. I don't know much about Ellie's potential conditions or history, but this makes some sort of sense. Suffice it to say, they were close, but in a totally appropriate manner (I was in a position to guage, because I was basically staring in awe the entire time)

But a few minutes in, Ellie decides he's done reading for the day. And for one reason or another, he jumps up out of the bench seat, pointing an accusatory finger at his tutor. His English wasn't super clear, and he wasn't being very loud (thank god), but I did catch "touch" and "special area."

The two of us are frozen in horror. What can you say but "I... b... no..."? Ellie maintains this outrage long enough to really get some good satisfaction out of the looks on our faces, and then he relents and just starts laughing at us.

What if someone walking by had heard? We were in a partially exposed church basement kind of area, so it's not unheard of for random people to be walking by - and the cry of abuse stirs the indignation better than most anything else - so there was a really good chance that something really awful was about to happen.

But it didn't.

So the question was, what do you do now? We tried to impress upon him never to do something like that again, but he clearly didn't grasp the full potential force of his actions. We were like 20 at the time, and ill-equipped to deal with children on this level, so we probably should have relayed the event to an adult of some sort, but we were too worried about how it would be perceived, so we just moved on.

Neither of us stopped volunteering because of the incident, but I'll never forget the sinking dread of that instant, that's for sure.


57 points by PaulHoule 1 day ago 3 replies      
My child went to an excellent day care center that got targeted for harassment because it had male workers. The place got inspected by the state and ultimately got a clean bill of health, but it cost them money and caused a lot of worry for them and parents who had children there.

I spoke with the director and we both agreed that children spend too much time with women in school and day care. One of the reasons many young boys don't click with school is that they don't get male role models. Children who don't have a "man in the house" might get all the way to high school before they meet any male role models at all.

51 points by axod 1 day ago replies      
If I had to choose one of the following, to improve society:

  a). More women in tech
b). More men in childcare/teaching

It'd be 'b' without a doubt. As said elsewhere, the complete lack of any male role models at a large number of schools is astonishing and very worrying. Is it any wonder girls are performing better than boys these days, as the number of male teachers has decreased to almost none?

Great to finally see an article like this one.

9 points by meterplech 1 day ago 1 reply      
Lenore Skenazy is actually the leader of an entire movement around kids being able to do more of what they want (hence the book: Free Range Kids). You can check out the blog here: http://freerangekids.wordpress.com/

Also, she caused quite a stir a few years ago for letting her 9 year old kid ride the subway alone. Her story about it is here: http://www.nysun.com/news/why-i-let-my-9-year-old-ride-subwa...

19 points by InclinedPlane 1 day ago 1 reply      
The media deserves a good chunk of blame for this phenomenon. They have inflamed society's fears into paranoia by hyping and over-reporting exceptional events, giving the false impression that child predators are anywhere and everywhere.

Meanwhile, children are far more likely to be physically or sexually abused or kidnapped by close relatives. But that story is less compelling from a media perspective so the public is less exposed to it.

21 points by limist 1 day ago 0 replies      
I didn't know the author's gender until the end. Nice to see a woman pointing out misandry.
4 points by narrator 1 day ago 1 reply      
I remember when this all got started in the early 90s. The 80s were pretty mellow but then I think the Polly Klass murder in California was a watershed moment where the politicians and the news media just went for it with the insane anti-male paranoid stuff. All the school policies changed and everything got excessively locked down and paranoid.
11 points by Florin_Andrei 1 day ago 1 reply      
All the newspapers and TV stations and social media and whatnot create an environment very different from the one we evolved with. This is not the small tribe living in the savanna anymore, yet we react to news exactly the same way.

Hence all the bizarre attitudes like the one described in this article.

3 points by Splines 1 day ago 1 reply      
Sadly, it's difficult to compare the hand-wavy benefit (letting children interact with men) with the real cost of having something happen to your child.

As a parent, I'm of the opinion that the media blows kidnappings and the like way out of proportion. Even then, it's difficult to look at the data objectively, because it's your children.

2 points by johngalt 1 day ago 0 replies      
This also extends to other areas as well.

If a man is furiously yelling and striking a woman in public the police will be called on the man. If a woman is yelling and furiously slapping a man, the police will be called on the man.

Consider that:
1. Men receive stiffer sentences for the same crime.

2. Men are routinely ruined by family court, because of the instant trump card that an abuse accusation brings. Additionally they have few options when they are the victim of abuse.

4 points by nmaio 1 day ago 1 reply      
Male nanny here.

Anyway, I was an education major and one my male professors would always stress to the males in the class that they should be extremely cautious when dealing with children (don't hold their hands, etc):

The professor started out teaching first grade, and one time, a boy in his class came out of the bathroom with his pants down because he couldn't get them back up. Before the boy could even ask for help, the professor ran down the hallway to the nearest classroom with a female teacher to have her pull up the boys pants.

I'm not offended by the way it is though. Like how at the Iowa daycare center where the one male aide can't even be in the room while diapers are being changed. I was taught to stay far away from those types of situations and to be honest, if it makes someone feel better that I'm not in there - that's fine by me.

1 point by mcknz 1 day ago 3 replies      
A BBC story from 2006? Stories from her friends? That's the best she's got? Would be nice to see a real article on this topic with actual analysis and data.

Of course it's stupid to label all men as possible predators, but there's another side to it: when a single pedophile can damage literally hundreds of children, who wouldn't have cause for concern?

The challenge is to find the level of concern that is reasonable and warranted, but this article can't be bothered with gray areas.

2 points by Dylanlacey 1 day ago 0 replies      
I get a weird mix of this.

I'm a scout leader in Australia, where Scouts is non-denominational, non-discriminatory and mixed gender. I'm a Venturer leader, the 14 - 18 year olds, and I'm gay.

These things ARE linked. I'm a Venturer leader because it was this or being a Joey leader, which is the under 10's, and I just CBF dealing with that noise, because I'm also gay, which makes parents immediately suspicious. 'Cause, you know, once a little bit of a pervert, NATURALLY a complete monster. Just like how litterbugs all become worse then Pol Pot.

So, on the one hand I avoided one sort of leadership. On the other, I'm wanted because I'm a male, I can relate to the younger dudes. At camps we have a leader of both sexes not because there are touching fears, but because kids need someone of either gender to talk too if they need it, to make them comfortable.

1 point by jswinghammer 1 day ago 1 reply      
I teach first grade Sunday School at my church and I definitely noticed that parents were uncomfortable with me being alone with the kids for a few weeks. This in spite of the fact that I'm a leader in our church and I knew a lot of the parents outside of this setting. I also had to have a background check before being allowed to help out.

It was pretty annoying but the parents got over it when they saw that their kids loved having me there. This is in part because I always seem to end up discussing Star Wars or video games with the boys for at least part of the time.

What's funny (and sad) is that this attitude spills over into family life. My brother won't kiss my oldest daughter on the lips despite her insistence that he do so (she has some pretty strong opinions). His response was that "I don't do that with kids."

1 point by jambo 1 day ago 0 replies      
This one really bugged me: "Three airlines, British Airways, Qantas and Air New Zealand, have attracted criticism for controversial seating policies which discriminate against adult male passengers on the basis of their gender." Fortunately BA has changed its policy.


1 point by jacquesm 1 day ago 0 replies      
Nothing to be proud of here, but very recently a huge child pornography case was uncovered in a dutch day care center where a guy molested and filmed the molesting of upwards of 80 children together with his partner.

The case is extreme both in scope, gravity of the offenses, duration and in the position of trust the perpetrators were in and it will take a long long time for that to blow over again.

'Eek A Male' is very much a response heard around daycare centers here.


1 point by agentultra 1 day ago 0 replies      
It bothers me.

I used to assist teaching a Saturday morning martial arts class for kids. The change-rooms were communal; nothing unusual and I never thought anything of it. Then I was told that it made the parents uncomfortable and I had to change in the office. Suddenly I felt embarrassed and shameful.

Then I was shocked that I had felt such feelings. I don't experience much, if any, discrimination in my life. I really empathize with those who do. It's terrible.

3 points by yason 1 day ago 0 replies      
What a fucking horrible way to live :-(
1 point by trustfundbaby 1 day ago 0 replies      
-3 points by gaius 1 day ago 4 replies      
3 comments on this, and 200 on some girl whining that (male) geeks "hurt her feelings".
-3 points by juiceandjuice 1 day ago 0 replies      
I went to the Exploratorium by myself on Sunday. I figured people would probably assume I wasn't there by myself. But I couldn't help thinking about this Asiz Ansari joke where he's talking to a kid at a museum, and finds out they have a lot of things in common, including Call of Duty on xbox, theories about LOST and stuff, and then the kid's dad leaves him there with his new "friend"
Introducing AWS Elastic Beanstalk aws.typepad.com
205 points by jluxenberg 1 day ago   57 comments top 16
18 points by mmelin 1 day ago 1 reply      
Wow. The benefits of Google App Engine without the limitations? Sure, an app on GAE is probably cheaper in terms of monthly expense, but factor in the development costs for a Java team unfamiliar with App Engine and Beanstalk is probably a far better investment.
11 points by hallmark 18 hours ago 0 replies      
It's easy to find holes in this announcement: Beanstalk doesn't have X, or they compare unfavorably to AppEngine and Heroku in certain areas. The bigger news here is that Amazon has staked a flag in the ground and decidedly shown their intention to enter the PaaS arena.

What has AWS done in the past? They've introduced a new product, then over time:

1) Made it easier to manage
2) Made it more automated
3) Added additional bits of functionality

Why would we not expect them to do the same with Beanstalk?

4 points by latch 1 day ago 3 replies      
AWS never fit into my definition of a "cloud" solution. It's a VPS with a rich API and a lot of addons (load balancer, EBS, S3...).

From what I'm reading, Beanstalk changes this and clearly puts AWS in the category they've long claimed to be in. Not that their service wasn't great/unique before. This just puts them that much further ahead.

It's along the lines of what Heroku does with their routing mesh layer (as far as I understand it).

7 points by RiderOfGiraffes 1 day ago 0 replies      
Just to assist with cross-referencing, there's another, slightly older discussion of this here:


3 points by jackowayed 1 day ago 2 replies      
I'm not sure how useful this really is. It just handles the application layer, leaving you on your own for dealing with the database. Now, Amazon has some services to help you out (RDS, SimpleDB), but SimpleDB is kind of crap, and RDS is expensive.

More importantly, that loses some of the simplicity, meaning that you still have to think about infrastructure to a degree.

Heroku is git push to deploy, and if you have a standard Rails app, that's it.

Whereas to deploy a standard Rails app, after you package up your app as a .war with JRuby (and deal with possible gem incompatibilities), you have to spin up an RDS instance too. And change the config in your Rails app so that it knows how to talk to the RDS instance. And if your RDS instance crashes, they backed it up for you, but you still have to manually restore from the backup.

And once you're already thinking about infrastructure to that degree, you've lost a lot of the benefit of a PaaS.

3 points by zoomzoom 23 hours ago 1 reply      
The real question is: can this offering compete with the specialized PaaS services we have seen emerge in the last year - heroku, GAE, djangy.djangozoom/eldairon, various node.js services, phpfog, etc...

The specialized services will be less work to maintain for developers, and will offer unique additional features that Amazon will have a hard time keeping up with if they try to spread themselves too thin.

2 points by jread 1 day ago 0 replies      
This is cool, but not earth shattering. It is essentially a management stack/abstraction layer/deployment tool on top of existing AWS services: EC2, CloudWatch, load balancing, route 53, autoscaling, AMIs. It is a PaaS sort of... but single-tenant and not in the same sense as a multi-tenant, higher level PaaS like AppEngine or Heroku. Elastic Beanstalk gives you flexibility (full root access - do whatever you want), but with that comes more responsibility from a management perspective, and more opportunities to shoot yourself in the foot.
8 points by kumarshantanu 1 day ago 1 reply      
Questions: What does Elastic BeanStalk mean for me?

1. Can my database auto-scale?

2. Can my JVM heap auto-scale beyond 2 GB without GC pauses?

8 points by chanri 1 day ago 5 replies      
Just to be clear, this is only for Java apps right? This does not include PHP or Python?
1 point by ecaroth 1 day ago 0 replies      
Cool new feature. Not too tough to see this coming though. One of the biggest barriers of entry to AWS has always been scaling/deployment. With companies like Cloudkick and Scalr helping to alleviate this, but being somewhat platform agnostic (Cloudkick supports aws, rackspace cloud, etc) Amazon would want to have an all-encompasing solution that has more of a vendor-lock in to their products. With solutions like Beanstalk and their free web tier, AWS is becoming easier to step right into each day. I predict that in a few years there will be no such thing as shared web hosting...
2 points by FiReaNG3L 1 day ago 0 replies      
Would that make a good fit for an Apache Solr server? Put the index on EBS?
1 point by vladmars 21 hours ago 1 reply      
There's still plenty of room for competition. Beanstalk is limited in its ability to innovate because it is simply a management layer on top of AWS, which will restrict its potential feature offerings.

I think smaller developers stand to reap huge productivity benefits from easier to use and more feature-rich platforms such as Heroku.

2 points by ekiara 1 day ago 1 reply      
Sounds like a great idea, though the naming is a bit unfortunate, there might be some confusion between the Git hosting and collaboration application: beanstalkapp.com.
1 point by dholowiski 1 day ago 0 replies      
"beanstalk is built using a number of existing AWS services, not from magic beans."
1 point by jollojou 1 day ago 1 reply      
At the moment I'm able to launch applications in the US East region only. When will the other regions support Elastic Beanstalk?
Garry Tan moving on from Posterous and joining YC garry.posterous.com
197 points by j_baker 5 days ago   34 comments top 13
39 points by jw84 5 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.

59 points by ptn 5 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 5 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 5 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 5 days ago 3 replies      
Does this mean posterous isn't doing well?
14 points by jolie 5 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 5 days ago 0 replies      
Wow, congrats Garry and have fun!
2 points by jonathanjaeger 5 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.

2 points by b3b0p 5 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!
4 points by iamclovin 5 days ago 0 replies      
Congrats Garry! Looking forward to more awesomeness.
1 point by chrisbroadfoot 5 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 5 days ago 0 replies      
Congrats Gary! Woo!
3 points by hank53 5 days ago 0 replies      
This is a good move. I think Posterous has plateau
No double standards: supporting Google's push for WebM fsf.org
193 points by tjr 1 day ago   159 comments top 11
75 points by commandar 1 day ago replies      
I was discussing this with some people yesterday. I find it incredibly frustrating that the Grubers of the world have spent months attacking Google for supporting the evil, closed Flash, but then manage to spin Google dropping a closed format in favor of an open one as evil and using it as a roundabout way of continuing to hate on Flash.

The fact of the matter is that Flash is an entrenched, defacto standard and isn't going away any time soon. HTML5 isn't anywhere close to completely replacing Flash even if it were to disappear in a puff of logic right this moment.

HTML5 <video> is in its infancy, and isn't being perpetuated by sheer momentum like Flash. Further, H.264 was a complete non-starter for Mozilla, and Firefox holds nearly 20% of the market. Using H.264 for HTML5 <video> would have guaranteed market segmentation and hurt the chances of a truly open future.

This argument about dropping H.264 propagating Flash in the short term is just insanity to me. Flash is already here for the short term. We need to focus on our long-term options for moving to something more open, and the whining about this decision strikes me as totally myopic at best and blind fanboyism at worst.

7 points by cletus 1 day ago replies      
A few points:

> We applaud Google for this change; it's a positive step for free software

Except that it further entrenches Flash in the short to medium term, possibly longer.

> Most of it is delivered with Flash, which is proprietary, nonstandard software.

Exactly. H.264 isn't going away anytime soon so having a Web browser without Flash gets that much harder. With no native support for H.264 in Firefox or (soon) Chrome, bizarrely the most Flash-unencumbered browsers are Safari and Internet Explorer.

Consider that for a moment: Internet Explorer.

> Free software alternatives like GNU Gnash are available, but the user experience isn't always as seamless as it ought to be.

This is a key point but not in the way the author intended and it's worth parsing this statement. The FSF is driven by philosophy here but most users aren't. If you want to attract a plurality of users a necessary precondition is to have the experience be as good if not better than what you're contesting.

There is a cost to switching: finding new tools, learning a new process and so on. Users need a reason to switch and ephemeral arguments about "openness" of video on the Web just don't cut it for the majority, at least not while such a choice comes with a subpar experience.

> In order to make sure the Web stays free for everyone, we need a free codec to prevail as the de facto standard with HTML5.

Like most future specters I believe this one is overblown too. Everyone points to the GIF fiasco. The net result? PNG was born. If the screws are ever put to us on H.264, you'll see exactly the same thing, only quicker. Computing power being what it is today, the effort of re-encoding every video that exists on the Web is actually not that hard of a problem, and is certainly in the realm of what Google can do today, let alone 5-10 years from now.

> WebM can be that codec: Google provides a patent license with the standard that is compatible with free software licenses

But it should be noted, there is no indemnity against H.264 patent infringement. I'm not saying WebM violates H.264 patents. The reverse may even be true (or both). But the point is that it is a risk.

> We can only be free if we reject data formats that are restricted by patents.

The elephant in the room here is that the fundamental problem is software patents. They need to be completely abolished.

> But the issue's not settled yet.

No but it's a bit like iPad vs the rest of the tablets. The issue isn't settled yet, but the iPad has a whopping lead and the smart money is on it for some time to come. H.264, like it or not, is more mature and has more hardware and software support than WebM, which is far less mature.

4 points by bonaldi 22 hours ago 2 replies      
The content is all in h.264 because it works in 99.9999% of places. You can make every browser support webM tomorrow and that still wouldn't be a compelling reason for publishers to add WebM in favour of the status quo.

The only thing that could achieve such a thing would be a device with iOS levels of popularity that a) doesn't support h.264 b) doesn't support Flash. Who is going to make such a device? A: Nobody, because it won't support any web video at all apart from maybe YouTube.

You can grouse about open principles all you want, but the big video producers don't care; they will not be a factor. Audience demand is the only thing that matters, and they won't demand WebM when h.264 is already working "fine".

15 points by spiffworks 1 day ago 1 reply      
"free standards"

I'm glad somebody finally figured out how to accurately describe webm. All this hand-waving talk of 'openness' and 'open standards' was debate poison.

1 point by tzs 6 hours ago 1 reply      
H.264 is the standard for video compression. Period. It is what almost all professional hardware and software supports. It's how video is distributed on disc, via cable, via satellite, and via digital broadcast. It's what consumer hardware supports.

Someday it will be replaced, but it will take a technically better standard. WebM is not technically better. Take a time machine and send WebM back about 10 years, and it has a shot. Without a time machine, it is too late.

The problem Google and the FSF face is that very few really care about having everything be free in the FSF's sense of free. Heck, even among Linux users, who you'd expect would be the most receptive of wanting everything to be free, very few run the truly free distributions, with no non-free modules or drivers. The vast majority are not even on Linux. They are on Windows and Mac, and so have no qualms about using non-free stuff.

To convince people they need to switch to something that is technically inferior, they need to be shown a problem that actually affects them. H.264 being subject to patent licensing in those countries that recognize software or codec patents is not a problem that can be shown to affect most web users or most web video producers, at least in a way they care about. The royalty free license for distributing free video on the web, and the high thresholds before license fees kick in for video producers, ensure that the vast majority of us never do anything that requires coughing up any money, and that takes the problem off most people's radar.

13 points by cmister 1 day ago 1 reply      
Or in summary: if you support a free Web, you support WebM and FSF's call for killing H.264. If you don't care, then H.264 seems just fine.
3 points by weixiyen 19 hours ago 0 replies      
If Firefox wasn't supporting h.264, it was kind of pointless for Chrome to support it as well. As a developer, I have to have to resort to flash for h.264 anyways as Firefox has a much bigger market share than Chrome.
2 points by pacifika 1 day ago 4 replies      
This article would be correct if Google dropped flash together with H.264. The practical result of playing H.264 to Chrome users via Flash instead of through a native open source implementation (Chromium) is surely a net negative for free standards supporters? After all it's "proprietary, nonstandard software."
0 points by marckremers 17 hours ago 1 reply      
But isn't it too late?
This is from May last year, I bet it's even higher now.
Say by some miracle that webm takes over, even though it's free, it's a Google run project, and we now that Apple chooses stability over availability (i.e. their rejection of Flash)

From my experience building a HTML5 video playback portfolio for a client, playing high quality webm/ogg is just not doable yet, even via Amazons CDN.

And what i don't get, on a very basic level, are these companies that own these file formats really ever going to cash in on all those files out there? I mean GIF, JPG, PNG are all patented formats, and they are everywhere.

Why doesn't Google announce for example that they will also stop supporting JPG/PNG/GI in favor of their open source WebP format? If they were really drawing bold lines they should be honest about it.

-2 points by xutopia 1 day ago 3 replies      
I always saw this as a problem with the FSF. They are urging web site operators to use WebM right away when there isn't even support for them.

They simply sound so naive when they say "Today, we're also urging Web site operators to distribute videos in the WebM format, and abandon H.264". What they should be saying is "Prepare your web sites to transition to WebM".

-4 points by luigi 1 day ago 0 replies      
Ehh, all of a sudden the pro-WebM side got really lame now that the FSF joined the party.
Facebook's 3rd Biggest Advertiser is a Bing Affiliate Scam readwriteweb.com
195 points by joshfraser 2 days ago   71 comments top 15
101 points by jbk 2 days ago 3 replies      
So funny to see Zugo around...

They've had offered us to bundle their 'nice' toolbar inside the VLC installer so that every install of VLC would have install this thing...

And they proposed a very high value for each install...

31 points by cookiecaper 2 days ago 4 replies      
I really liked this quote:
"Between the incredible growth of casual games that arguably do little for the collective human experience but consume a growing amount of it each day... it's hard sometimes to take Facebook seriously when it says it wants to bring people together and make the world a better place."
24 points by JacobAldridge 2 days ago 2 replies      
I wonder if Bing has seen an uptick in searches for 'why has Google changed colours' and 'why is Google now spelled Bing'?

I suspect the mystery of the changed homepage and new toolbar is, to many users, alongside the mystery of why the printer sometimes doesn't work or my cell phone drops out when I'm still in the living room. 'It's technology. It happens. Nothing I can do about it.'

Which I guess means Zugo [Edit - actually, Make-my-baby.com] is manipulating the uneducated (in a tech sense). Borderline business behaviour, though a well thought out and executed strategy.

8 points by DanielBMarkham 2 days ago 1 reply      
Either way, I think that prompting people to give access to their browser's settings under false pretense, and then changing their search provider and home page, is unethical.

Yes, I completely agree. I have several non-technical friends on Facebook who have been tricked into installing browser helpers (BHO) and it's disgusting. Every so often they post some kind of ridiculous advertisement in their status bar -- only it's not them, it's their browser doing it. It's like some hi-tech version of Tourrette's Syndrome.

But, playing devil's advocate -- and I love devil's advocate because when it's done well it makes you think -- there's nothing wrong with trading a cute interactive session of making a baby with setting the user's home page, or changing their browser, or selling them stocks, or taking all their money from their bank account, as long as the user knows the trade-offs they are making. People do all sorts of stupid things for ten minutes of entertainment. It's the trickery part that makes it a scam.

So the next obvious question for me has to be: what do these guys need to do in order not to be a scam? Make the text bigger? Bold? Have a flashing sign? Since a BHO can do all sorts of nastiness -- including things they are not currently designed to do -- how do you adequately inform the user of what kind of trade they are making?

Chrome has a nice way of doing this where you approve of the types of information you are allowing the helper to have. Still, even then there have been many times when installing something in Chrome that I've thought "Do I really want this particular widget having this kind of access? How do I know that the developers won't change what it does with my information on some future version?"

I am concerned that many of these articles sound like "See the witch! Burn the witch!" -- mindless mob thinking. I know it's much easier to sell salacious articles by pumping yourself up and being the superhero speaking out for truth and justice and all, but from a logical standpoint I'm much more interested in what specifically is wrong with a particular practice and what steps need to be taken to make it better. Demonizing these guys -- even if they are total assholes and are out to trick and cheat and steal everybody they find -- doesn't do much as far as advancing the discussion along for the rest of us. A little bit more analysis and information, a little bit less emotion, please.

27 points by NZ_Matt 2 days ago 2 replies      
To be fair, Facebook isn't the only ad network filled with dodgy ads. Matt Cutts wouldn't have to look far to find other similar "scams".
9 points by harshpotatoes 2 days ago 2 replies      
Update: That word million doesn't seem right, in order for this company to be the third largest advertiser on Facebook, that's got to be a typo. It's possible that AdAge mistyped
this, that's the simplest explanation. I've asked the reporter for clarification and apologize for not getting it prior. Thanks as always to our eagle eyed commenters.

They are noting in the comments that 1.75 million ad impressions would probably only cost the advertiser a few hundred dollars, which would make it difficult for that to be the third largest advertiser considering advertising brought in a $1.86billion. I don't know anything about the cost of advertising, but do those numbers seem right?

13 points by ljlolel 2 days ago 2 replies      
I'll say it again, Facebook is making ephemeral cash flows which bolster more investment and thus attention and thus more ephemeral cash flows. Facebook is a ponzi scheme: http://www.jperla.com/blog/post/facebook-is-a-ponzi-scheme .
8 points by fleitz 2 days ago 2 replies      
Next thing you know people will be making 'free' browsers just to capitalize on the search revenue.
4 points by notahacker 2 days ago 0 replies      
Afaik I've never seen a single impression of that ad.

It would be interesting to know whether their ad targeting algorithm has me as in the unlikely to be interested in baby pictures demographic or in the people that have previously reported scammy ads demographic...

To be fair, hijacking ad click revenue seems a lot less underhand than some of the "Scamville" advertisers...

3 points by nestlequ1k 2 days ago 2 replies      
Seems really weird that facebook would allow this type of ad. I know, "money is money", however with too many scammy advertisements, eventually people will lose trust in all ads and the overall click through rates will drop. You would think Facebook would want to have some controls over this to avoid devaluing their main source of revenue.
4 points by lookforipv6 2 days ago 1 reply      
Another reason to stay away from clicking anything inside Facebook. Once I though they were amazing, now sadly I can see that as many other companies it is just money, no matter how.
3 points by codelust 2 days ago 0 replies      
I'm not exactly the greatest fan of Facebook or MSFT and I do lean a bit favourably towards Google, but the article is a good representation of what is wrong with reporting on Tech/Digital these days - so much of it is just absolute breathlessness.

There is precious little in the story save what is already provided by Matt Cutts and there is this little gem towards the end:

"Is no one minding the store? Or are they just minding the cash register and turning away from what the customers are up to?"

That entire sentence could very well turn out to be true, but for the time being it is just opinion, which, after enough people repeat it, becomes a fact.

1 point by neworbit 1 day ago 0 replies      
I'm astounded Zynga isn't in the top ten advertisers on Facebook. Playdom probably is lumped into Disney these days, but unless Zynga's ad lab is named named Official IQ Quiz I don't see them here at all...
1 point by poppysan 1 day ago 0 replies      
Maybe it's my naivety, but how are they a scam?
1 point by apedley 2 days ago 2 replies      
Trust Matt Cutts to find this and comment on it. :)

I wonder if he would have said anything if it was the switching default search provider to Google.

Why Minecraft Matters crunchgear.com
189 points by solipsist 4 days ago   80 comments top 18
48 points by ugh 4 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.

25 points by Goladus 4 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 4 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 4 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 4 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 4 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 4 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 3 days 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 4 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 4 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 4 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 JeanPierre 4 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?

1 point by InclinedPlane 4 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 hugh3 3 days 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.
4 points by mmb 4 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 4 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 4 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 4 days ago 2 replies      
FPS + Farmville = Profit?
Web Services Our Startup Relies On Every Day mygengo.com
189 points by robert_mygengo 2 days ago   63 comments top 18
16 points by petenixey 2 days ago 2 replies      
I'll second that Xero is an excellent service and it really doesn't get as much press as it deserves in the states. They're very easy to use and have done an heroic job building out both the software and support.

HOWEVER, their entry-pricing is incredibly irritating. For $228/year you can't add any more than 5 invoices or reconcile more than 20 lines of bank statement per month. For the entire price of quickbooks every single year you should be able to at least use your accounting system.

8 points by swombat 2 days ago replies      
I'm not convinced about the need for SendGrid. Learning to set up an email server isn't that hard in this day and age, and we seem to get very decent deliverability with our own SMTP server - and don't pay a penny for any emails sent.

I'm planning to build an email subscription feature for swombat.com soon, and was looking at options like SendGrid, but I just can't justify the cost. When you send people a sign-up confirmation email, they expect it right now. If it's not there in a couple of minutes, in my experience, even the least tech-savvy have learned that they need to check their spam folder.

26 points by insight 2 days ago 1 reply      
As usual, the only people who make money on the gold rush are the shovel sellers
4 points by megablast 2 days ago 0 replies      
Wow, having used EE, I always thought it was cumbersome to use, prone to running out of memory very easy, and did not offer much over regular php or Drupal/Joomla.
4 points by jread 2 days ago 1 reply      
+1 for apigee - we just migrated our web services and the stats, graphing and real-time debugger are excellent. Migration was super easy.
3 points by GBond 2 days ago 0 replies      
>Salesforce is basically just a very flexible database with hundreds of custom fields, i.e. to a programmer it seems like a $25/user version of phpmyadmin... but it's money well spent.

That is the most underwhelming endorsement of salesforce.com I've ever seen.

2 points by fookyong 2 days ago 0 replies      
I use a few in that list too, but in particular SendGrid and DropBox have really been life-savers (paid user of both).

They both solve a problem that is otherwise quite complicated and boring to solve, in a very simple, hassle-free way.

1 point by arn 2 days ago 0 replies      
I'll add to the list my favorite service I don't ever hear talked about. SpamStopsHere:


The killer feature for me is a very low false positive rate. Very few legitimate emails get blocked, based on the way they are filtered.

3 points by mono 2 days ago 1 reply      
Wow. Looks like you have outsourced every imaginable job when there's a webservice for it.
Are you doing this because of bad experiences when servicing your own or did you do this from the start? Did you compare the running costs/reliability between outsourcing and self administration with a positive result into outsourcing?
1 point by ladon86 2 days ago 3 replies      
Does anyone recommend any SendGrid alternatives? They look good, I'm just wondering if anyone has had success with another provider also.
1 point by dylanz 1 day ago 0 replies      
We use RightSignature to handle the signing of all internal/external documents. I'm biased, but I think it's the best SaaS document signing application available :)
1 point by joshfraser 2 days ago 0 replies      
The two I love most on this list are SendGrid and Dropbox. Both solve a real pain point in a simple way.
2 points by robert_mygengo 2 days ago 0 replies      
Seems like SendGrid caused the vast majority of comments so far. I feel like Xero, Apigee and RightSignature should get more love. What do you guys think?
1 point by aymeric 2 days ago 1 reply      
Blog is down... "Site Error: Unable to Load Site Preferences; No Preferences Found"
1 point by dickeytk 2 days ago 0 replies      
I prefer uservoice to getsatisfaction, it doesn't have as many features, but it's easier to use. I think that's more important for a social support tool
0 points by cplamper 2 days ago 0 replies      
I like getsatisfaction. It makes it really easy to aggregate user voices about your product. I also use Mailchimp for a couple of clients - highly recommended.
0 points by sad_hacker 2 days ago 0 replies      
I recommend Piwik for real-time statistics alternative to Google Analytics. It's free also.
0 points by Schmelson 2 days ago 1 reply      
Yeah, office Glico is the besssssttt!
Top Mistakes in Behavior Change slideshare.net
181 points by benreyes 5 days ago   27 comments top 8
55 points by halo 5 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 4 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 4 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 5 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 5 days ago 2 replies      
It's like a highly condensed version of Switch (http://heathbrothers.com/switch/, highly recommended)
2 points by Mz 5 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.

3 points by jcro41 4 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 kilian 5 days ago 0 replies      
Paraphrased: try something new. If it doesn't work, no biggie.

Sound advice.

Facebook is a Ponzi Scheme jperla.com
181 points by ljlolel 2 days ago   105 comments top 48
46 points by patio11 1 day ago 2 replies      
The core feedback loop that would make that analogy mostly coherent doesn't exist. Facebook ads do not convince people to buy Facebook ads.

A better argument would be that Facebook's valuations are being driven by large amounts of investor money injected into the Zynga symbiote, who throws nine figures a year at Facebook to continue identifying new pieces of brain matter to feed to their mad cows. I don't think that is a great argument, both because Ponzi schemes are not the kind of racketeering one should be worried about if one is worried about there, and because I think that Zynga is probably sustainable. They may be the only business on Facebook whose advertising is sustainable... but that would, by itself, justify a gigantic valuation for Facebook. (Perhaps not any particular valuation.)

15 points by nervechannel 2 days ago 5 replies      
"It is fundamentally different from the ad platform that is Google. People go to Google to find something they need, possibly ready to buy, which a good percentage of the time can in fact be solved by someone's ad. Facebook ads, on the other hand, annoy users. They yield no real value, and thus no profits. "

Err -- television ads also just serve to get in the way and annoy users, when they want to sit and relax and do something completely different from hunting-for-stuff-to-buy.

But last time I checked, most TV channels are still running ads, 50+ years on.

6 points by tomerico 1 day ago 3 replies      
Facebook may have not yet found its cash cow, but it has a huge potential. A few ideas from the top of my head:

* They could compete with Groupon (Or buy them). Groupon is an inherently social business, and Facebook can enjoy it.
* They could compete with Skype and other VOIP service. Perhaps replacing telephony. Almost everyone has facebook, and you already have you friends inside, seems like a pretty direct step (After all, people come to facebook to communicate).
* They could replace photo sharing websites (Flickr, Picasa...) if they just improved their photo's app (e.g. being able to view high resolution images).
* They have the potential to become the internet ID for everyone, so that you could log in to almost any site with facebook.

I can probably come up with many more... I think the real question is whether Facebook can execute or not.

4 points by tokenadult 1 day ago 0 replies      
Facebook is a way I can have pleasant conversations with my friends. I post to them links on Facebook security and ad-blocking (with hat tips to HN, fairly often), and we all lock down our privacy settings tightly and ignore ads and time-wasting games. We have fun conversations together, mostly about submitted links, rather like the best comment threads on HN except with a broader range of topics that fits the commonalities that can be found among my diverse group of friends. (The HN participants who are on my friends list have seen examples.)

I can't figure out how Facebook will monetize, long-term, just as I couldn't figure out in the 1990s how AOL would monetize, long-term. AOL has been a dying property for a long time, but it was the platform on which a lot of free riders formed lasting friendships that have turned into real-life, face-to-face friendships. I'm perfectly content to be a free rider on Facebook on the same terms. Monetizing Facebook is a problem for Facebook's investors--it is not my problem. When Facebook eventually dies, as it surely must unless it comes up with an appealing way to monetize, I will move on with hundreds of good friends to the next new Internet thing.

10 points by biznickman 1 day ago 3 replies      
This is definitely way off base. He's taking a sampling of people who don't know how to optimize ads on Facebook and suggesting that they perform poorly for everyone. There's a reason that his ads were unprofitable: someone else is making money (profiting) and able to bid higher because they can monetize the same market segment he was targeting more effectively.
4 points by elbrodeur 1 day ago 1 reply      
Anecdotes like this ("$100 in ads bought 1 book! It's the ad platform, not my product!") are slightly annoying, and saying 'ponzi scheme' 4 times in the first two paragraphs doesn't make it so.

Our startup has had a large amount of success with Facebook ads. Their segmentation makes it easy. In fact, Facebook ads are so successful it's becoming a danger. To some extent, we are reliant on them as a lead source and that's a really bad situation to be in.

But yeah, post a sensational title, reinforce that title 4 times in the first two paragraphs and then at the end say something like this:

>> Yet, their value and growth continues because they can use that money to grow their user-base more and assert profitability (in this sense it's not quite entirely a ponzi scheme, but there is no closer idea). It's possible that they do not even realize that they are like a Ponzi scheme.

What? It's not quite entirely a ponzi scheme?

There's a difference between an ad platform that doesn't fit your customer acquisition model and a ponzi scheme.

18 points by JoeAltmaier 2 days ago 3 replies      
Ponzi scheme is overheated rhetoric. That refers to an investment scheme where new investors pay off old ones.

Nobody pays Facebook advertisers anything. They only pay Facebook. Its a pyramid scheme, but thats a horse of a different color.

6 points by ErrantX 1 day ago 1 reply      
Inside a somewhat breathy post there is a superb point about why "stick some advertising on it, that worked for Google" is not always a solution:

People go to Facebook to interact with their friends. It is fundamentally different from the ad platform that is Google. People go to Google to find something they need, possibly ready to buy, which a good percentage of the time can in fact be solved by someone's ad.

6 points by alnayyir 1 day ago 2 replies      
I jokingly asked a friend of mine that works in finance if he could securitize a pre-IPO company for the purpose of shorting them.

He immediately understood that I meant Facebook and after chuckling he actually paused thoughtfully.

Fingers-crossed, but I think his current fund is too conservative for that sort of thing.

2 points by risotto 1 day ago 0 replies      
I'm quite tired of these posts, but HN appears to love them.

If you don't like a company, don't invest in it, and don't use it's products. But it's not your duty to scare other people away, especially not by reading tea leaves.

First, any ad buy is a gamble. Perhaps investing $100 in ads on Facebook can result in $1000 in sales. But the payoff here has everything to do with your own business, and nothing to do with the Facebook platform. Literally: mind your own business.

Second, I am interested in the thoughts of long term Facebook/Twitter/etc employees. These are people with actual knowledge of the roadmap, revenue, and vibe inside a company. Everyone I personally know at Facebook is extremely happy and bullish about their career there. Ask a friend that works there if it is a Ponzi scheme and watch his reaction.

I am interested in constructive advice about how you are building a successful startup.

I an not interested in these hit pieces from casual observers. I think the small portion of bloggers, commenters, etc. that try to knock Facebook down are having sour grapes. Are you really more confident in your own business acumen than Zuckerberg's? Is your business model perfect, with bubble free growth unto eternity?

But ultimately, there's nothing constructive here. What am I supposed to take away from this article?

The PG Yahoo article is a totally different beast. He was inside the machine and is offering his intimate business knowledge. This article is useless. Yet HN eats it up for some reason...

Disclaimer - I am not at all affiliated with Facebook but I was at the YC at FB event last week and it was fun.

2 points by simonsarris 2 days ago 3 replies      
It seems that the author is attempting to make a case against ads themselves. I'm not convinced there is anything in the post that is Facebook-specific, or couldn't be swapped out with 'Adwords' or 'radio ads' or even 'billboards.'

He makes a case that they are not like Google's ad platform and then goes on to only account for a small subset of Google's ad platform (the part that is on Google.com search). Facebook ads are really much closer to Google's ad platform on (for instance) gmail.com or any non-google website, but he ignores these.

Most of his post could have replaced "Facebook" with "Billboard" or "radio ad" and be written in 1920.

As an aside, I have clicked on Facebook ads. Mopeds are listed as one of my interests, and two months ago there was an ad from Honda for the new Elite 110cc. I had no idea that they brought the Elite back. Targeted Facebook ads actually informed me of that.

It goes without much saying that the vast majority of ads are never clicked on or even noticed. But that's the case with Facebook, adwords, billboards, and so on.

4 points by adolph 2 days ago 0 replies      
Facebook promises big returns on ad spending, but delivers nothing. Yet, their value and growth continues because they can use that money to grow their user-base more and assert profitability (in this sense it's not quite entirely a ponzi scheme, but there is no closer idea).

In other words: not a Ponzi scheme, just an ad platform that is ineffective for some kinds of campaigns.

4 points by ivankirigin 1 day ago 0 replies      
The technical terms you're looking for are demand generation vs demand fulfillment. The former is that pepsi ad where you suddenly feel thirsty, and the latter is the coupon in your spam snail mail. Facebook is the former and Google is the latter.

What you might not know is that demand generation spending is 10X demand fulfillment. You should definitely take that into account when assessing facebook.

Also, the reasons users like facebook is unrelated to their ad platform. I would say that alone makes it not a ponzi scheme.

3 points by ig1 1 day ago 0 replies      
When I started with Facebook advertising, I was getting a CTR of 0.01, after spending about 6 weeks trying out various optimizations my average CTR is around 0.12, my best CTR for a campaign has been 0.4.

On my site the bounce rate from Facebook clicks is 25% lower than the site average, and the the average user visits 4 pages per visit.

And I'm targeting software developers. A group more likely to be ad-resistant than many other groups.

You have to know how to optimize a Facebook campaign in-order to be able to make an effective one. Facebook's problem is that they make it easy to run an ad campaign, but not easy to run a good campaign.

2 points by eddieplan9 1 day ago 0 replies      
The big assumption of this article is that Facebook has to rely on Google-style in-the-margin ads as its major revenue source. I believe Facebook has the potential to bring a new form of online ads, for example, a new interactive game-like campaign that virally spread across the friend network with those participants given incentives like Facebook credits.

It's rather limiting to think Facebook as an advertiser like Google. The real potential of Facebook is way beyond this. Facebook is not just connecting people to their friends. It is a middleman - a platform that connects customers to vendors, fans to artists, and gamers to game developers, and there could be much more than these. Think iOS as a platform that connects mobile users and app developers and how it has worked out - and would have worked out even it was a standalone company. Maybe someone will develop an Amway-style direct selling platform on Facebook. Maybe someone could develop a CRM and compete with salesforce.com for SMB. Or maybe a Priceline clone with social features would emerge. And good thing is Facebook does not need to do all these. It just need to inspire a developer community around it and evolve its platform to support new possibilities.

It's gold rush again, and like last time - it wasn't the gold miners that get rich; it was the people who sold the miners and other gold rush followers the tools and supplies they needed.

5 points by jeroen 1 day ago 0 replies      
This has been discussed before, 267 days ago:


4 points by steadicat 1 day ago 0 replies      
This is an old article. Looks like the date is wrong, or he republished it: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=1293119
3 points by cpr 2 days ago 1 reply      
As one of the sibling responses points out, it's not a Ponzi scheme.

But it's certainly a completely useless advertising medium, from my limited experience with them for a few months. We spent hundreds of dollars of advertising on an iPhone app, and I don't think even moved the needle once.

3 points by lallysingh 1 day ago 0 replies      
What's with attacking the big boys at HN these days? First a wave of Google's-on-the-ropes, now Facebook?

Honestly it may be interesting news to hackers, but that's a lot of bandwidth that could be spent talking about startups. Just sayin'.

3 points by imkevingao 1 day ago 0 replies      
I think even tying Facebook to Ponzi is insanely absurd relative to what Facebook has done for users. Surely the high valuation is bubble like and I'm not a particular fan of its valuation either, but Mark Zuckerberg's team continues to contribute to the online community with easier way to connect & share, and that's ultimately priceless. In my opinion, if Facebook wanted to monetize, it can tenfold its revenues easily considering the amount of users it has. But the company continues to place users before hand and refuse to compromise user experience for money, and THAT IS VERY DIFFERENT , or opposite if you will, from the Ponzi Scheme. Ads are not suppose to be 100% effective, and that's the foundation every marketer needs to know. They have to be prepared to throw lots of money into a marketing strategy, and accept the fact that it might fail. Facebook ads deliver relevant adds that might interest users to add values for users. It delivers what it promises. The effectiveness is just a downside that all marketer needs to consider when they advertise.
1 point by achompas 1 day ago 1 reply      
Author makes a false assumption that Facebook will never improve their ad platform.

As it stands right now, sure, Facebook ads suck. They're all the way to the right, and they're tiny and unremarkable.

But right now FB is focused on growing their platform. Why wouldn't they be? It's not like they're beholden to any public shareholders. Once that changes, and those shareholders begin to pressure them, FB will turn their attention to ads. How could any sane business owner ignore that?

EDIT: Deleted my sub-response to Tom b/c it wasn't phrased well. I'm not interested in the author's contention, because whatever point he's making assumes that FB won't improve their ads. He even says:

"Mark Zuckerberg might have a fit of brilliance and then announce a revolutionary ad platform that somehow actually works on social networks. My guess is not."

FB is a company with 1000 bright engineers and a strong data team. I'd be shocked if they didn't know how poorly their ads are performing, and I'd also be shocked if they weren't working on a better ad platform right now. Dismissing a company with FB's user base, funding, and engineering team with a ridiculous quote like above isn't a compelling argument.

3 points by jespi88 1 day ago 1 reply      
While I don't think I would go as far as to call Facebook a "Ponzi scheme", I do agree that Facebook has been lackluster about monetizing their huge user base. The author is right in pointing out that people rarely go to Facebook to research or buy a product. Unlike Google or Amazon, Facebook is not about consumption, it's about reconnecting and taking a break.

While I am by no means an expert in the field, they need to remember what they are and focus on that. Far more promising a prospect is the revenue sharing they do with companies such as Zynga. This model exploits all that Facebook does well: high retention to the site, and a high return rate. They need to stop focusing on ads as a form of revenue and monetize their social aspect creatively.

2 points by jessriedel 1 day ago 0 replies      
So...anecdotal evidence that the ads run by the OP and his friends aren't good on Facebook. I guess that's better than nothing for a company which isn't publicly listed, but my estimation of Facebook's value didn't change much based on this data.
4 points by blackysky 1 day ago 1 reply      
this is the most BS post ever... I know many people that made a fortune with facebook ads... Maybe his friends lost money with facebook ads but that does not mean it is a ponzi scheme or anything evil... learn to optimize and split test your ads to reduce your cost then come back with something smarter to say ...
1 point by ck2 1 day ago 0 replies      
When I saw the article title I thought maybe it referred to how Facebook is slowly tricking you to turn over all your friends contact names and emails and then you convince them to turn over theirs, etc.

Soon Facebook will know more names and email addresses than gmail and unlike Google it has no problems selling them to advertisers.

1 point by wolfrom 1 day ago 0 replies      
"Mark Zuckerberg might have a fit of brilliance and then announce a revolutionary ad platform that somehow actually works on social networks."

I'm not sure it would be altogether brilliant for Facebook to improve their advertising to be action-oriented as opposed to passive. People use Facebook for events and will soon use it more for Q&A and eventually "what ___ should I buy?". I think it would be common sense at that point to have ads targeted to a user's planned action, just as in the past ads have been targeted to very specific demographics.

1 point by PaulHoule 1 day ago 0 replies      
I know a group of affiliate scam artists who were making great money with facebook ads two years ago. I still the ads they run, so I assume they're still making money.

There are plenty of people who drop $1k on Google ads and end up with nothing to show for it too. Just because it doesn't work for some people doesn't mean it doesn't work for others.

3 points by ubercore 1 day ago 0 replies      
I'm not sure how much this adds to the conversation, since I think it's a pretty common experience, but I honestly can't recall a single thing advertised in facebook. I don't have AdBlock running, I've just developed a complete blind-spot for the right margin of facebook. I don't see how this could be very effective long-term. Conversely, I have clicked on ads in Bing, Google, and Reddit.
1 point by robk 1 day ago 0 replies      
Google had the same issues with AdSense in the early days but was able to tune the product to normalize value to an acceptable rate. For example, at the network level you can apply discounters per site depending on the ROI of ads on this site vs network-wide to reward the higher quality sites on the network. I'd guess that Facebook will make a move towards advertiser value at some point and find some way of discounting around performance, or allowing for differentials based on the demographic being targeted.
1 point by davidu 1 day ago 0 replies      
Facebook ads perform well for me. So your argument that they don't perform is not true for everyone.
1 point by tybris 1 day ago 0 replies      
Windows is a platform for desktop applications.

iPhone is a platform for mobile applications.

Facebook is a platform for social applications.

Why would the latter not be marketable?

3 points by kenneth_reitz 1 day ago 0 replies      
The author is making the false assumption that no one is successful with Facebook ads, no one is. I know many people who have been extremely successful with Facebook ad campaigns for pennies on the dollar.
1 point by erikstarck 1 day ago 0 replies      
There has to be a better business model than simple display ads for something as amazing as the social graph of all humans. The question is: what?

The Facebook Credits virtual currency stuff also has huge potential but I just don't think Facebook has found their "AdSense" yet.

1 point by mattmiller 1 day ago 0 replies      
Facebook's real potential is getting their ad platform on other peoples websites. It's advantage is how easy it is to target specific demographics.

They have already started getting their code onto other people sites with the Like button and all the share buttons; the next logical step is a Facebook ad platform like Ad Sense that can target specific demographics. This will make lots of money.

1 point by kreek 1 day ago 0 replies      
I think depends on what your selling. If it's an item that's related to a user's profile (location, favorite bands, movies, etc) you can do quite well. I always click on adds for new albums or concerts for bands I have listed. Much easier for me than setting up alerts on a third party site.
1 point by ry0ohki 1 day ago 0 replies      
AdSense ads could arguably be put in this same boat (when I'm reading a blog am I looking for products?), and yet they provide more click-throughs. Why? Because they look like natural links on the page to many people. Perhaps Facebook needs to make its ads less obviously ads like Google does.
0 points by faramarz 1 day ago 0 replies      
In my opinion this argument is flawed because of one important false assumption. The Facebook of tomorrow will not be or function as the same Facebook of today.

Do not make a mistake in thinking the same model or whatever you define as a social network will function the same in the future.

Facebook will do everything it can to preserve large cash stable and market leverage so it can morph its business into whatever it deems necessary or market demands of it, again and again.

2 points by dustingetz 1 day ago 0 replies      
maybe the people viewing your ads don't care about your book!
1 point by snorkel 1 day ago 0 replies      
Wall Street is a Ponzi scheme. Facebook is just overvalued.
0 points by ax0n 1 day ago 0 replies      
In that whole thing, there's no numbers or names to back anything up. There's one hyperbole ($100 spent in ads to sell one book) and a bunch of really vague "people I know..." rhetoric.

Also, the author does not know what a Ponzi scheme is. Facebook Ads might be unsustainable, but it's not a bona-fide confidence trick of any sort, just like the VC dot.bomb burst at the turn of the century wasn't a confidence trick.

2 points by mbesto 1 day ago 0 replies      
"They spend hundreds or thousands or more on Facebook ads. At the end of the first run, they see bad ROIs."

I've heard this argument but have yet to see any substantial evidence.

2 points by Straubiz 1 day ago 0 replies      
Big brands like P&G have begun buying lots of Facebook ads, and they seem quite satisfied with the results of their campaigns (at least satisfied enough to ask for more...).
1 point by dadkins 1 day ago 0 replies      
See Google, circa 2003:

"Those little ads? Nobody clicks on those!"

1 point by jonbischke 1 day ago 0 replies      
"Now, it is possible that some extremely niche businesses have found limited utility from ads (for example, BustedTees and social games may be the lucky few)."

Um, I don't know that I'd refer to to social games as an "extremely niche business". Also, social commerce/group buying sites have received incredible ROI from advertising on Facebook.

1 point by shimi 1 day ago 0 replies      
This is a bit harsh, FB got a good traction and its run by some very smart people. I actually see them as a force in the communication space.
1 point by heat_miser 1 day ago 0 replies      
The ad model is truly dying, and I agree that facebook's current revenue model is a placeholder, but facebook has so much cash that they can buy a real business when one comes along. Perhaps that is the idea...
1 point by gtzi 1 day ago 0 replies      
disagree - awareness may have different metrics but definitely is valuable
0 points by AppDev054 1 day ago 0 replies      
This guy could use the same argument that all online ads are ineffective. Why focus on Facebook? Because it's hip to do so?
Facebook Now Shares Phone Number & Address With Third-Party Apps readwriteweb.com
177 points by rwwmike 3 days ago   78 comments top 18
26 points by joe_the_user 3 days 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 3 days ago 5 replies      
Less sensational headline: Facebook Now Allows You to Share Your Phone Number & Address With Third-Party Apps
20 points by motters 3 days 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.
25 points by beoba 3 days ago 5 replies      
Where's the option to choose which items get sent? Looks like all or nothing.
3 points by EGreg 3 days 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 3 days 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 pasbesoin 1 day ago 0 replies      
I commented on this already in another thread that I saw first. My apology for bending the rules, just this once, by posting the same comment a second time in this active thread to make the point:

I'm sure my relative would appreciate her abusive ex getting his hands on her phone number. (And given past problems with third parties, I have to think this information -- speaking generally if not specifically -- is going to leak.)

You use the cell phone number as part of password recovery / identity verification (as I understand it). And then you do this?

2 points by andysinclair 3 days ago 3 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 3 days 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 tlack 3 days 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 itsnotvalid 3 days 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 rwwmike 2 days ago 0 replies      
1 point by celticjames 3 days ago 2 replies      
You know who else shares my phone number and address? The phone book!
1 point by JasonPunyon 3 days ago 0 replies      
1 point by samic 2 days ago 0 replies      
there is always a problem with facebook! I can't trust them ever!
0 points by shankx 2 days 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.
-1 point by beaumartinez 3 days 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 ChipsAndSalsa 3 days 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.

Facebook is what happens to the Web when you hit it with the stupid stick scalzi.com
174 points by surlyadopter 1 day ago   104 comments top 23
41 points by Vivtek 1 day ago 4 replies      
I honestly hadn't expected this outpouring of vitriol here against John Scalzi, of all people. The things I'm reading here - that he's "just jealous" or what have you - are frankly blowing my mind.

I thought his point was pretty clear: FB is rolling in cash and is the target of the latest 15-minute hype and 50 billion dollars of Goldman-Sachs paper valuation, but isn't really breaking new ground in providing the best possible platform for the Web, and he predicts that this will cause it to fail, like other non-ideal repackaging efforts in the past, because it is limited. And he has some experience in this, because he was an employee of AOL in the day.

And weirdly, here at HNN, of all places, I am witnessing a deluge of rabid Facebook fanboys, many of whom apparently think he's just an old fogie who doesn't understand the new generation. The world never ceases to amaze me.

EDIT: more words are always good, right?

42 points by Lewisham 1 day ago replies      
A mail system that doesn't have a Bcc function doesn't belong in the 21st Century.

This reminds me of a comment that we almost always get on HN when Facebook comes up, and its almost always right: it's not for you. If you want Bcc, it's not for you. The millions of people who are younger than you don't think to CC, let alone BCC. They want to communicate, and they want to do it now, and email is just that formal thing Dad uses. That's their terms, and Facebook gives it to them.

The author also discounts Facebook as being some sort of Neo-AOL. It is that, but where AOL faltered was being a completely walled garden. Facebook as a development platform, and, perhaps more importantly, an online identity to all sorts of other sites, makes Facebook use even more in-grained. I would love to see some stats from sites that allow Facebook Connect on how much their user registration went up. Facebook offers a portal, but also a wider identity, and they do it well.

If Facebook isn't for you, then that's that. But it doesn't mean what they're doing is wrong.

26 points by paul 1 day ago 10 replies      
Clearly someone who "once handrolled his own html code and then uploaded it using UNIX commands" is simply too Awesome for Facebook.
16 points by MJR 1 day ago 4 replies      
I wish I could sign on to the damn thing and not have the first thing I feel be exasperation at the aggressive dimness of it UI and its functionality.

People use Facebook because they see past the "website" and read the content. They communicate with their friends and family. How many non-technical people have you ever heard complain about email apps? They don't because they use email to communicate, not to use an email app.

If the first thing you feel is "exasperation at the aggressive dimness of it UI and its functionality" then you need to find some new people to connect with so that you're actually interested in reading what they have to say.

8 points by nicpottier 1 day ago 0 replies      
Just for the record, I was uploading my own website back in '93 too, and I use Facebook and quite enjoy it, for the same reason the author does, because not all my friends were in the same boat.

Calling other people stupid for not building and maintaining their own website strikes as bit elitist, just as saying that people that don't design and build their own houses are lazy. We specialize.

To him it is easy / fun / rewarding to build his own blog, photo sharing, thingamabob. Sure, it has been for me too in the past. But it isn't anymore, especially because Facebook wins on the front of notifying my friends of things of mine they might find interesting.

In short, he is really missing the point, that Facebook has allowed millions upon millions of people to participate on the web in a way they couldn't before. Were they the first to try? No, but they are the first to do so so successfully across such a wide strata of users.

I also find it super ironic that he seems to think highly of Twitter (talk about lack of features!!) while gives Facebook a hard time for missing functionality. At least I can comment on 'status' messages on Facebook without changing my own status. :)

3 points by marknutter 23 hours ago 0 replies      
Facebook is top dog right now, so I get that every highly intelligent hacker out there is going to take their potshots at it. I think everyone needs to take a step back and seriously thank Facebook, Myspace, AOL, etc. Why? Because they got normal people to use the internet. Grandma is now a customer for us hackers thanks to Mark Zuckerberg. We can all remember a time when the internet was our personal nerd playground, and yes it was awesome; but it wasn't very profitable. Now, everyone and their mother is on the internet, and their chosen platform of choice right now is Facebook. Yes, things have been dumbed down, yes privacy isn't what it used to be, but us geeks are now pulling down 6 figure salaries for doing the same stuff we'd be doing for fun in our free time anyways. We can't have our cake and eat it too..
3 points by pilif 1 day ago 1 reply      
I don't get this Facebook rage every year. Last year it was about the open social graph API and the third-party like buttons. Everyone was mad at Facebook. Calls for boycotts, mainstream press picking it up, Diaspora, etc.

Then it dies down and everybody seems happy about Facebook.

Until a year later, HN is full of hate-posts again. So, if history is to repeat itself, I'd say that the hate will have died down by June and I'll get my hate-blogpost ready for next year, having missed this years Facebook-hating-season

5 points by davidmathers 1 day ago 1 reply      
Zuckerberg is in fact not a genius; he's an ambitious nerd who was in the right place at the right time

So the guy who created Orkut must have been in the wrong place at the wrong time. Too bad for him. His Google stock probably only made him a millionaire. Totally uncool.

11 points by japherwocky 1 day ago 0 replies      
He's smarter than "normal" people, and jealous that they're making Facebook lots of money.
2 points by thingie 1 day ago 0 replies      
Some time ago, a friend of mine told me that he had a great idea, something like Facebook, but, you know, for the "geeks" and all ze teknischen peepers, blogging, photo sharing, video, everything. At that point, it had simply occurred to me a very simple (and obvious) question: "Well, isn't that exactly the world wide web?"
2 points by michael_dorfman 1 day ago 0 replies      
Facebook shouldn't be telling me how many “friends” I should have, especially when there's clearly no technological impetus for it.

Does Facebook do that? I get recommendations of people I might know, but I don't recall ever being told how many friends I should have.

3 points by gildur 1 day ago 0 replies      
Everything is getting more and more simple, isnt that good?

Lots of ranting towards Facebook here of late, I must say.
Facebook is a great way of telling your friends that HTML5 has got a logo, for example. Also, this way your friends that arent on sites like linkedin will get an idea of what you're up to.

I'm sure people who are interested in programming and building webpages will go their own way in the end anyway.

Maybe I misunderstood this article and the previous about Facebook rants, in that case I apologize.

4 points by bitskits 1 day ago 1 reply      
As time passes, and the users of the internet get more sophisticated, this wont seem so much like a rant, it'll seem like an opportunity for the next social networking phenomenon. The thing that replaces Facebook wont look much like Facebook. It will need to cater to what today seems like the power user.

Just my .02

1 point by jaysonelliot 1 day ago 0 replies      
About a year and a half ago, I was thinking the same thing - Facebook = AOL.

I did make a cute graphic out of it, if you want it: http://jaysonelliot.com/blog/2009/06/13/what-does-facebook-r...

3 points by erik_landerholm 1 day ago 0 replies      
More and more I find that for people I see in real life facebook has become fairly redundant. And facebook has just clarified the reason that I don't see most of my other 'friends' in real life; I'm not really friends with them anymore.
1 point by bhavin 1 day ago 0 replies      
We had a stream of google-sucks/googles-dead kinda articles everyday just before while now. And now, suddenly all the bad attention turns to facebook since about a week.

I mean facebook had the same UI/policies/uglyness since quite some time, why sudden surge of facebook-bashing articles (followed by google)? I wonder how much of the content from above articles was written genuinely and not with alterior motives.

1 point by yason 1 day ago 1 reply      
Sounds like he uses Facebook mainly to stay in contact with his friends but hates that Facebook doesn't do everything he needs. Facebook doesn't have to do that and the rest of the internet is still there.
1 point by dcdan 12 hours ago 0 replies      
But the idea that it's doing something better, new or innovative is largely PR and faffery.

Facebook is incredibly innovative at growing its user base. No other social network has concentrated on and succeeded at this like Facebook.

1 point by evanreyn 1 day ago 2 replies      
Facebook is not made for smart people. It's not made for the readers of Hacker News, this guy's blog, or even the throngs on Reddit. It's made for everyone else. I work in a place with some people who will work/have worked minimum wage jobs their whole life (not that there's anything wrong with that). But these same people are on the internet all the time, and you know what they do? Check facebook. Facebook chat. Look through facebook pictures. Maybe browse craigslist for a few minutes looking for a used car or a new job. But 95% of the time? Facebook. I'm not saying this type of person represents the majority of facebook users, but it is this type of internet "familiarity", for lack of a better word, that makes up the majority of facebook users, and the world's population.
1 point by bartl 1 day ago 0 replies      
My favorite quote:

> Its grasping attempts to get its hooks into every single thing I do feels like being groped by an overly obnoxious salesman.

2 points by transition 1 day ago 0 replies      
I don't use Facebook because I think it's social circle-jerking occupied by a majority of people who are only interested in inflating their own perceived image.
1 point by sigzero 1 day ago 0 replies      
No, Facebook is what happens when you make something easy for Joe Public to grok.
1 point by samic 1 day ago 0 replies      
I just delete all my information (which wasn't lot!) last night! and I wrote my email on first page so if anyone really wants to contact me there is a way!
Brisbane floods: before and after abc.net.au
173 points by mjfern 2 days ago   129 comments top 13
31 points by keyle 2 days ago 3 replies      
I live in Brisbane (I'm fine). I helped with the clean up - cooking about 200 hot dogs last Saturday for the volunteers. The sight was absolutely unbelievable. Houses were gutted. Garbage furniture all over the streets, piles taller than me.

One thing I will never forget though. The smell.

6 points by follower 2 days ago 1 reply      
The 2011 linux.conf.au conference is going ahead next week in spite of the flood: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=2112337

"The team encourages everyone to still come to Brisbane and support local business and the community - we need your support!"

After having been through the after-effects of an earthquake where I live it's been clear to see the difference it makes for businesses that can open to have custom.

10 points by mkramlich 2 days ago 3 replies      
lessons from floods, reinforced for the 9,753rd time:

1. __have home on high ground__

2. see 1

3. see 1

all else is bullshit and/or out of your control (eg. level of flooding, degree of local or government competence/planning/assistance, etc.)

7 points by blantonl 2 days ago replies      
Interesting there is no "outrage" yet in the media regarding this disaster. I was raised in New Orleans, LA, so I see these types of things differently. And on the surface, Brisbane looks eerily similar to NOLA.

Is this an event that could have been prevented or is this a 1000 year flood?

4 points by rodh257 2 days ago 0 replies      
Also relevant to this is a submission I posted last week which didn't get any attention unfortunately: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=2096644 about a site - http://FightTheFloods.com which my partner and I created to try and help those who are in need of assistance (volunteers, supplies whatever) to get the message out to people who may be able to help. Since I launched it last Wednesday, it's reached 350+ people registered, and I've personally seen a number of the requests for assistance be fulfilled, so I think it's made at least a bit of a difference to someone, so therefore it's been worthwhile.
3 points by recoil 2 days ago 0 replies      
There is an inherent conflict between using a dam for drinking water and using it for flood management. That the Wivenhoe was and is used for both is not a surprise, particularly after the droughts leading up to 2008, but the flooding raises serious questions about how sensible that would be in future.

That said, the Wivenhoe in this case did precisely what it was meant to do, and those who operated it did an admirable job under extremely trying circumstances, IMHO. It simply wasn't designed to cope with the volumes of rainfall that occurred, afaict.

I hope the forthcoming inquiry will not focus so much on the smaller-scale "tactical" decisions that led up to the flooding (it will be news to nobody if it turns out some mistakes were made: I'm sure there were), but more on the state's water management strategy as a whole. Unfortunately the news reporting I've seen so far has already tended towards the former.

It's water management strategy that has failed SE Queensland twice in the last few years: first when the water nearly ran out after the drought, and now only two years later there's too much water by half. Neither drought nor flood are strangers to Australia, so half-arsed measures and excuses should not cut it for anybody. Increasingly unstable weather conditions caused by climate change make it even more urgent that we get this right.

4 points by trafficlight 2 days ago 2 replies      
I really don't like that slide effect. A simple mouseover would have sufficed.
3 points by chrislloyd 2 days ago 0 replies      
This was done by @jimwhimpey. His (brief) write up: http://log.valhallaisland.com/post/2785174890
1 point by Dramatize 2 days ago 0 replies      
It was strange driving down the road, looking down a side street, and seeing houses underwater.
2 points by akent 2 days ago 0 replies      
The "Rocklea (wide view)" one is particularly striking.
1 point by elvirs 2 days ago 4 replies      
are there crocodiles in the water?
-1 point by coin 2 days ago 2 replies      
The stunning imagery aside, these are satellite images, not aerial.
-2 points by elvirs 2 days ago 0 replies      
The government should have built the damn dam
Applications Open For Summer 2011 YC Funding Cycle ycombinator.com
172 points by pg 3 days ago   59 comments top 21
30 points by pg 3 days 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 3 days 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 3 days 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 3 days 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 3 days ago 1 reply      
Wondering if we should apply even though we got rejected for the winter cycle ...
5 points by mcgyver 3 days 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!
9 points by jeremydavid 3 days ago 0 replies      
Already? Wow... it feels like just yesterday applications were open for Winter
3 points by elvirs 3 days 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?
2 points by maxklein 2 days ago 0 replies      
I'm going to apply again, no point quitting now!
2 points by edanm 3 days 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 davidwparker 3 days ago 1 reply      
Looking forward to applying for the first time. Any advice for a first timer?
3 points by SwaroopH 3 days 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 qixxiq 3 days 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).
1 point by kingsidharth 3 days 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.

3 points by flipside 3 days ago 0 replies      
Is it better to apply early while I look for cofounders or wait till I find them and then apply?
1 point by Facens 1 day ago 1 reply      
When I fill the 'video' field, then pressing 'update', the page gives an error:

Let me know when it's fixed...

2 points by avk 3 days ago 0 replies      
Good luck to everyone who's applying!
2 points by ammmir 3 days ago 0 replies      
this is just the motivational kick i needed to get back to finishing my prototype, thanks pg!
1 point by Zeuf 3 days ago 0 replies      
Not ready yet to apply. Looking to apply next year!
But, good luck and success for all.
1 point by nhangen 3 days ago 0 replies      
Excellent, I can't wait.
-4 points by bourdine 3 days 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?
The Ambiguity of Open and H.264 vs. VP8 antimatter15.com
158 points by antimatter15 4 days ago   68 comments top 11
46 points by ergo98 4 days ago 1 reply      
Fantastic article. This is one of very few entries on this debacle that is actually informed and insightful.
30 points by Athtar 4 days ago 2 replies      
>H.264 is an open standard. It was developed by a committee, standardized, reviewed by many engineers and developers for multiple companies and has been standardized for use with a multitude of containers and devices.

>VP8 is not a standard. It was developed secretly by a single company, and until recently, had only a single working implementation. The public wasn't open to collaboration on the specification until the bitstream spec was frozen, including the bugs that existed within.

This is an interesting point. One I had never even realized.

9 points by mryall 4 days ago 2 replies      
This is a great post and clarified quite a few confusing points of the discussion for me.

One area that unfortunately it didn't really cover was the impact of widely available hardware and GPU-accelerated decoding for H.264. Surely the millions of non-PC devices being sold with H.264 support (even baseline) will have some effect on the outcome of the new video format war.

13 points by te_chris 4 days ago 0 replies      
Very good summary of the issue. I particularly like the point that <video> is, in and of itself, open and as such the establishment of a consistent baseline codec in VP8 could actually allow h.26x to flourish and innovate as the codec of choice for high-quality content.
4 points by wallflower 4 days ago 3 replies      
> MPEG LA has a royalty cap so that companies selling high-volume products know beforehand the maximum amount of royalties they'll have to pay to MPEG LA in a given year. The current $5 million cap really isn't much for a big player possibly generating many billions of annual revenues with products that include an AVC/H.264 encoder and/or decoder.


4 points by TechNewb 4 days ago 3 replies      
The biggest part of the 'rage' towards Google over the drop of Chrome's native ability to use H.264 in the <video> tag, is that Google is trying to spin as its for the benefit of innovation. Which is not the case. Flash has been great, but it's not needed for the distribution of video content, and the fact that WebM is a lawsuit waiting to happen does not help either.

Great article though!

2 points by bradleyland 3 days ago 1 reply      
Why is it necessary for HTML5 to specify a codec for the <video> and <audio> tag when no format is specified for <img>?

(I'm not being rhetorical)

1 point by hackermom 3 days ago 0 replies      
I believe this is to date the sanest article related to the H.264/WebM debacle; it clearly, and with detail, brings out the fact that H.264 is open. However, it fails to clarify a very important detail to this discussion, surrounding the royalty issue: H.264 coding/decoding is free-of-charge to implement, distribute and use in non-commercial contexts.

Google's, Mozilla's and Opera's actions and careless, uninformed (or possibly intentionally slanderous) responses in this discussion clearly show that their issue with H.264 isn't that H.264 isn't open enough, but rather that it isn't gratis enough.

4 points by shuri 4 days ago 2 replies      
Could this be a move to get the H.264 patent holders to release their patent hold on the standard?
0 points by sigzero 4 days ago 2 replies      
As the end user...I only care about which one gives me the best experience period.
-2 points by Herring 4 days ago 1 reply      
>open standard

>incompatible with open source

Does this make sense to anyone? It seems to me the word open doesn't mean much now.

Senator Al Franken: No joke, Comcast trying to whack Netflix arstechnica.com
153 points by shawndumas 19 hours ago   54 comments top 6
63 points by shimon 17 hours ago 4 replies      
Level 3 did a great job spinning this into public outrage. Here's what actually happened:

1. Level3 started offering CDN services. By leveraging their existing peering relationships (as a tier 1 ISP) they could essentially subsidize the transit costs of the CDN business, compared to e.g. Akamai which had been paying Comcast for peering to reach Comcast customers.

2. Netflix got a good offer for CDN services from Level3, and switched a bunch of their content from Akamai to Level3's CDN.

3. Comcast therefore saw a bunch of paid traffic turn into unpaid traffic overnight, and complained.

This is a business dispute between two self-interested parties. Is it really fair for Level3 to use their position in the ISP business to undercut competitors in a new CDN business? Was it fair a few years ago when Akamai caved and agreed to pay Comcast for peering? Will it be fair for Comcast to use a newly acquired media property to exact revenge on Netflix/Level3?

The problem with Network Neutrality is that it takes a complex issue, the product of many complex business relationships, and frames it in a black-or-white context. The history here is complicated, and the only thing I'm sure of is that everyone's a bad guy sometimes.

42 points by patrickgzill 18 hours ago 3 replies      
Maybe I should send the Senator my comment on Comcast's blog when they posted their letter complaining about Netflix, which did not get approved by their moderator:


I am a Comcast residential HSI customer, and have many clients who are
business HSI Comcast customers. At the same time, I do maintain servers
in my own racks at a datacenter.

What is not mentioned in this letter, is that Comcast is already being
paid - by me, and by every other customer, for access to the content.

Note that Comcast has never said that the Level3/Netflix issue is about
users exceeding their allotted bandwidth (currently at about 250GB/month
for residential); presumably, were a Comcast user to use 249GB of
bandwidth downloading cute pictures of cats, Comcast would have no

It appears to be the specific issue that Netflix is a possible
competitor to Comcast's TV business, that somehow causes Comcast to
decide that there is a problem.

Understand this: every Netflix video to be streamed, is specifically
requested by a Comcast user, operating under the Comcast-advertised
"High Speed Internet" service and presumably within the bandwidth caps
that Comcast's own contract allows.

That Comcast presumes to have the right to limit, modify, or decide for
me which pieces of the Internet I can have access to, removes Comcast's
common carrier protections, calls into question the truth of your (meaning Comcast)
advertisements for the HSI service, and raises the issue of whether
Comcast is dealing in bad faith with each and every Comcast HSI subscriber.


7 points by ck2 10 hours ago 0 replies      
"Now is the time to decide if we want four or five companies owning and delivering all of our information and entertainment"

Way, way too late. It went from 10 to 5 a few years ago.





Remember it makes no difference if it's Republican or Democrat they are both pro massive-corporation. Wait until Comcast starts moving it's call centers overseas to increase their profit by reducing US labor costs.

If politicians aren't going to fight corporate control of health care decisions for the nation, why do you think they are going to bother about something like the internet.

4 points by mark_l_watson 17 hours ago 1 reply      
I am reading Tim Wu's excellent book "The Master Switch" right now that is relevant to Franken's concerns. Covers corporate takeovers of information systems starting in the late 1800s.
5 points by protomyth 17 hours ago 0 replies      
Al Franken is not "informed". He is a hollywood shill who happens to fall on Netflix's side this time.


-4 points by btipling 17 hours ago 5 replies      
I don't understand why the government should create regulation to tell private companies what to do with their property in this case. I think a lot of the 'net neutrality' hubbub is irrational driven panic. If you don't like the service they provide just pay for something else that does. Running to the government every time a company does something that inconviences you as a user strikes me as dangerous. This isn't life saving health care, the vast majority of the arguments and infographics highlight the many shows you might not be able to watch or websites you might not be able to access. I'm sorry but your need to catch the latest Glee or access your friends update on Facebook aren't a convincing enough argument to agree to letting the feds regulate what private companies do with their business.

Let the downvotes commence.

Rands in Repose: Managing Nerds randsinrepose.com
148 points by filament 2 days ago   40 comments top 6
45 points by cagenut 2 days ago 2 replies      
Its interesting how Rands and Joel agree on the basic quiet/dark/cave/hoodie/headphones "zone" construct, and yet nearly every startup I've visited or seen office pictures of on their website insists on a faux-egalitarian setup where everyone sits in one giant noisy room.
27 points by dinedal 2 days ago 2 replies      
As I sit in my cube, mandated business attire donned, bright fluorescent lights flickering above me, and listening to the constant drone that is the heating system, I read this article and utter a small prayer. That somehow, somewhere, someone who actually manages developers reads this blog, and hires me.
16 points by theDoug 2 days ago 0 replies      
I'm often poor with my communication (in terms of: clarity, consideration, and courtesy), but when a new piece from Rands comes out I consistently find myself forwarding it or printing it for a loved one and saying "This is what I try to mean when I say ___________"

His Nerd Handbook (http://randsinrepose.com/archives/2007/11/11/the_nerd_handbo...) quite likely saved my relationship with a highly non-technical increasingly significant other. I owe the man a bunch.

8 points by alxp 2 days ago 2 replies      
I normally find articles with titles like that painfully condescending, but this was quite well-done and worth a read.
13 points by tomhallett 2 days ago 2 replies      
Wow, he hit the nail on the head with the "hoodie" concept. I almost feel like it gives me a power boost.
1 point by zemanel 2 days ago 0 replies      
this article is the "Boyfriend Operational Manual" my girlfriend has been looking for for months!

EDIT: i'm wearing my hoodie, yo!

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