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1
Patio11 says Hello Ladies akshat.posterous.com
667 points by akshat 2 days ago   113 comments top 37
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111 points by patio11 1 day ago 4 replies      
Posted with slides on my blog.

http://www.kalzumeus.com/2011/03/26/software-for-underserved...

I had been waiting for the video to come out -- they usually use them to promote the Business of Software conference. So, let me make my one plug: go to the Business of Software conference. It was one of the highlights of my professional career, and I got advice and inspiration that directly helped get AR launched the following month. This talk barely gets in the ballpark of quality of some of the presentations -- and the real reason to go isn't the presentations, but to meet people who doing great things in software. (More than once I found myself asking "Who the heck let me sit at this table?! This guy bootstrapped a business which sells nuclear power plant control software and now has N employees and Y million revenue. I make bingo cards for a living!")

Thanks for the praise by the way.

2
30 points by edw519 1 day ago 2 replies      
Patrick, I'm really glad to see you use the reference from the Atlantic article in your presentation. It was one of the most memorable "testimonials without even being a testimonial" I've ever read about the use software for a higher purpose:

Next, Mr. Taylor announces it's time for Multiplication Bingo. As Mr. Taylor reads off a problem (“20 divided by 5”), the kids scour their boards, chips in hand, looking for 4's. One girl is literally shaking with excitement. Another has her hands clasped in a prayer position. I find myself wanting to play. You know you're in a good classroom if you have to stop yourself from raising your hand.

My reaction, which hasn't changed, from 11 months ago:

http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=1267630

The full article:

http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/print/2010/01/what-makes...

3
58 points by aw3c2 2 days ago 0 replies      
Non-blogspam link: http://businessofsoftware.blip.tv/file/4933754/

Alternatively a direct link to the 70MB M4V (H264 & AAC) source (so you can avoid Flash, even though Blip.tv has HTML5 I think): http://blip.tv/file/get/Businessofsoftware-PatrickMcKenzieMa...

It's a video called "Patrick McKenzie. Marketing to minorities".

Title of the talk was "Software for underserved markets", he talks about women. It's quite short (<10 minutes) and full with wit and energy. Great fun to watch.

4
30 points by noahc 2 days ago 4 replies      
The best line is when he says, "features.html should 404."

What he says is basically:

1. Develop a niche, and this is probably easier if you target women.

2. Sell an emotional experience, not features.

3. Tell stories because software is boring.

4. Profit!!!

5
13 points by nhebb 2 days ago 2 replies      
That was a great speech. After ruminating a bit, I'm still left with the sad thought that I have no clue how to put this information to use. I just went through my last 100 orders and 29 were women, so there's room for improvement. I just Googled a few variations of "how women buy on the internet", which resulted in a bunch of sites for little blue pills and Russian brides, I didn't find any useful studies. It would be a good reading topic if anyone knows a source.
6
11 points by follower 2 days ago 1 reply      
Wow, really nicely done. Sure, some nerves and timing issues but really impressive outside that, particularly as an non-natural public speaker.

Of course, the true measure of public speaking is how many people act on the message. :) Would be interested to know what feedback patio11 has received on that front.

Are the slides available somewhere? Couldn't find them on his site.

7
4 points by davidw 2 days ago 4 replies      
Interesting and very timely, I think a significant portion of the audience for http://LiberWriter.com will turn out to be women.

So... what kind of easy to create image can I put up to show how things work in a more 'human' way? I like the spareness of the design and I'm not paying for a designer until I start making steady money so "go pay a design guy a lot of money" is not a good answer.

8
12 points by singular 2 days ago 0 replies      
Brilliant talk - but for some reason I always envisioned patio11 as being quite considerably older...!
9
9 points by bearwithclaws 2 days ago 2 replies      
Very impressive, Patrick! Love the energy and humor.

Just wondering, how many times you practice it? (I'm guessing at least 5 times)

10
15 points by revorad 2 days ago 0 replies      
"Software is just the monetisation engine for the emotion business."

That makes me want to laugh and cry at the same time.

11
4 points by marklittlewood 1 day ago 0 replies      
If you are going to pick something up and post it on your Posterous, ignore the copyright notices, then post it on Hacker News, it would be really lovely if you could include one small link back to the event page you took it from.

http://businessofsoftware.org/

Thanks.

12
5 points by marklittlewood 1 day ago 1 reply      
It is difficult to understate how good Patrick was.

BoS has some of the best speakers in the business. Some you will have heard of - Seth Godin, Joel Spolsky, Geoffrey Moore - some you won't have heard from even if you have heard of them - Peldi at Balsamiq for example. http://businessofsoftware.org/prevyear.aspx

Patrick only had 7 minutes 30 seconds but he rocked the house. He will be back this year we hope.

13
14 points by swah 2 days ago 3 replies      
This was great, but he seemed a little nervous, although his text was perfect.
14
5 points by keyle 2 days ago 0 replies      
This was brilliant. To me the best part was about bringing the emotional connection to customers right from the home page. Sell them the success they're subconsciously seeking.
15
5 points by jasonlotito 1 day ago 0 replies      
Such a simple talk, such simple advice, but I learned so much. So much is obvious upon reflection, but great advice usually is. Awesome job.
16
3 points by noonespecial 1 day ago 0 replies      
I wondered at first how Patrick could squeeze success from something like Bingo card creation.

I don't anymore.

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3 points by marklittlewood 1 day ago 0 replies      
If you are thinking of going to Business of Software this year, the first Early Bird discount finishes midnight PST on Sunday night. Over 150 places of 380 total gone already.

http://businessofsoftware.org/

18
1 point by sdizdar 21 hours ago 0 replies      
Excellent presentation. Brilliant. I'm always told that sell process is actually selling one of these four things: fear, greed, vanity, or insecurity.

But that is easier said than done. I have no clue how to achieve that (I'm still in "sell features" mindset). I would like to hear is there are any good examples of software product or server which does that well.

19
2 points by marcamillion 1 day ago 0 replies      
I have been highly anticipating this, and it's better than I thought it would be. A bit awkward at times, but that's what makes it so endearing.

We can see how genuine he is.

Good job Patrick!

20
9 points by csavage 2 days ago 0 replies      
This is a man who understands why people buy stuff. Awesome to see him talk.
21
1 point by jdp23 1 day ago 0 replies      
I think of it as a two-dimensional market segmentation perspective: gender on one dimension, race on another. In a lot of segments, almost everybody is fighting it out in the "white guy" quadrant or at least the "guy" half. Take the Q&A space, for example: Quora is 80-90% guys, and so is StackOverflow. So there's room for competitors targeting the "niches" that actually make up most of the population. And there are similar dynamics in most market segments ...
22
6 points by chopsueyar 2 days ago 0 replies      
Patio11, good speech and funny, too. Awesome job, man!
23
3 points by bane 1 day ago 0 replies      
Great talk! Funny, engaging, involved the audience, full of great content.

I certainly learned something, already rethinking a few parts of our messaging.

24
2 points by jwwest 1 day ago 1 reply      
This was an awesome presentation, quick, funny, to the point.

However, it brought up some interesting questions for me. How many people can truly create software for the sole purpose of selling it? Unless he really likes Bingo cards, he worked on this software not out of love but love for money.

This isn't a bash, I'm insanely curious actually. The more I think about it, the more I know that I cannot create software for women because I have absolutely no interests that would coincide with an underserved market. Maybe I'm just not creative enough? And honestly, for me to create an awesome product, I'd have to be invested in it somehow.

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1 point by kellysutton 1 day ago 1 reply      
Kind of along the lines of this is Spolsky's advice that he would give out at the Dev Days conference tour he does/did with Carsonified: How is your software going to get someone laid?

While a little far-fetched, it does help keep everything in perspective although it serves the young guy demographic a bit more.

26
3 points by dutchrapley 2 days ago 0 replies      
This is great. Goes along with Zed Shaw's philosophy on the selling and purchasing of enterprise software - steaks and strippers. Features are boring, steaks and strippers aren't.

http://vimeo.com/2723800 17:53)

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4 points by jenndox 1 day ago 0 replies      
Thanks for explicitly calling out that it isn't that people sell poorly to women, but that we sell poorly to everyone. It is a very useful turn to take when thinking about market segmentation. Great talk!
28
1 point by chapel 2 days ago 0 replies      
Thanks for posting this. I really enjoyed the presentation and have a newfound respect for patio11. Not that I didn't enjoy listening to him on the Techzing Podcast.
29
1 point by some1else 1 day ago 0 replies      
Business of Software is the best for sharing these videos. Thanks Joel/BoS!
30
2 points by Vivtek 1 day ago 0 replies      
Fantastic presentation!
31
1 point by ct 2 days ago 2 replies      
At the end of the video Patrick mentions his website has some example businesses for women. Anyone have the link to that page?
32
1 point by akshat 2 days ago 3 replies      
Sorry for the karma bait title :
33
1 point by shadowpwner 1 day ago 1 reply      
Random, but is the intro from the "Stuff You Should Know" podcast?
34
1 point by pbhjpbhj 1 day ago 0 replies      
I hate hero shots, do we have to have hero shots?
35
1 point by code_acdc 1 day ago 0 replies      
Very interesting prespective
36
-1 point by dawgr 1 day ago 0 replies      
Expect a surge in period tracker web apps.
37
-4 points by mistermann 2 days ago 0 replies      
Doesn't work on iPhone?
2
A fifteen year old TCP bug? 42.org
539 points by Sec 4 days ago   59 comments top 9
1
155 points by pilom 3 days ago 2 replies      
This is true hacking news! Discusses a possible new bug in TCP, teaches how TCP works, has links to useful and relevant books on the subject, AND includes remarks about how difficult it is for a newbie to actually make changes to open source software and not get yelled at. I love it!
2
24 points by runjake 3 days ago 1 reply      
The response to the bug report was by Bruce Evans, who is listed as the "Style Police-Meister" for FreeBSD. Apparently his job is to enforce standards & code style. Seems like he was doing his job.

http://www.freebsd.org/doc/en_US.ISO8859-1/articles/committe...

Edit: edited for clarity. Thanks, pinko!

3
35 points by feintruled 3 days ago 4 replies      
The response to the bug report looks depressingly typical. Rejects the working fix with a wall of text speculation on numerous other possibly better fixes (without deigning to actually choose one). Nirvana fallacy in action!
4
8 points by direxorg 3 days ago 0 replies      
In 2002 we did custom patch for an energy company which had hundreds of outdated remote RS232 terminals hooked up via wireless links to the central station for control and monitoring. Their goal was to encrypt transmitted messages so it will not be intercepted and messed with during wireless transmission. Solution was Linux boxes on both sides that encrypts communication using OpenSSL...
The problem was the terminal do not want to talk to Linux over crossover Ethernet because of.... you guessed... bug in TCP... To solve that we had to make patch for Linux kernel. and let me tell you that code in 2.4 kernel was very ugly with extremely funny comments :-)

My companion since than developing drivers and "he feels that he is doing something important rather than boring UI".

but all he is doing is mostly his own projects and drivers since updating open source IS a pain in the neck.

I guess problem in collaborative work is the reason why people do open source vs something that have to be supported. What do you think?

5
6 points by HenryR 3 days ago 3 replies      
Is Stevens vol. 2 in the public domain now? If not, that's pretty poor form, linking to a scanned pdf of the book.
6
6 points by rboyd 3 days ago 0 replies      
The only reply this PR got, was from Bruce Evans who critiqued my use of a simple (long) cast, which appears to have derailed this PR, sticking it in the usual never getting fixed limbo where unfortunately most of my PR's appear to end up.

Looks to me like Bruce gave you some valuable advice. You spent more time complaining about the handling of your PR and documenting the issue on your blog than it would have taken you to fix your patch.

7
3 points by pavel_lishin 3 days ago 1 reply      
> As I had virtually no understanding of the TCP code, I liberally sprinkled it with printf()s

And people say it's a stupid way to debug!

8
3 points by barrkel 3 days ago 3 replies      
So much of this is caused by unsigned types. They are evil; avoid them wherever you can.
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1 point by ig1 3 days ago 1 reply      
I only had a quick skim through the article (need to be off to the London HN meetup shortly!), but couldn't this be used to mount a DOS attack sucking up the number of available sockets on a server?
3
At least now we know why Color really got that funding daringfireball.net
392 points by ChrisArchitect 2 days ago   152 comments top 32
1
52 points by mrshoe 2 days ago 5 replies      
I remember attending a Startup School talk wherein Max Levchin explained that Slide wasn't a "pimp my MySpace" company, but rather a data mining company using MySpace widgets as the trojan horse. So, Nguyen isn't the first serial entrepreneur to receive loads of funding based on his reputation and attempt to exploit the trend du jour to mine data from the masses.

We all saw how well that worked out for Slide. My guess is that Color will see a similar fate. It's unlikely you'll build a great social photo sharing application if that's not your primary focus.

2
146 points by flyt 2 days ago replies      
Don't worry, if Apple acquires them (like they did their last company, Lala) then Gruber will suddenly realize how revolutionary the idea is.
3
14 points by Batsu 2 days ago 2 replies      
Although Gruber is summing it up based on a developer's words, they do state this ridiculous data collection in their privacy policy (which is an implied agreement, based on your downloading of the app).

http://color.com/privacy

--

We also collect pictures, videos, comments, and actions you take through the App (“Content”), and information on your location. When our App is active, your Device provides periodic updates to our server of your location, which allows us to show you fresh Content based upon where you are at that moment. We share your Content with others. Sharing Content publicly with others from different locations is what this App is about. If you find this objectionable, please consider not using our App or Site.

4
10 points by d_r 2 days ago 1 reply      
Not to bring pop culture to HN, but this "photo data mining" reminds me of the ultrasound/sonic contraption in "The Dark Knight" that collected visuals on everyone in the city.

What I find fascinating about Color, though, is that I can open the app in downtown Palo Alto and actually see photos of startups nearby, peoples' lunches, offices, whiteboards, window views, and so on. Mobile/GPS-based photography is an idea that has been tried in the past, but seemed to have never taken off due to lack of traction. Surely too early to tell, but perhaps the high publicity attracted here will actually make it possible for this one?

5
12 points by neutronicus 2 days ago 0 replies      
Just what I've been saying...

And if the data mining stuff is good, they don't even need you to download their trojan horse. They can just license the tech to Facebook and leverage their installed base.

EDIT: Perhaps Twitter is the best fit as a licensee - huge installed base on smart phones, and apparently can't data mine their way out of a wet paper bag, if the #dickbar fiasco is any indication.

6
33 points by thezilch 2 days ago 1 reply      
How long before Color becomes Chat Roulette? What protections are children afforded where the content is not "personally identifiable?"

And how long after that before Apple drops Color from their App Store?

7
8 points by anigbrowl 2 days ago 1 reply      
I feel so prescient now: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=2366765

Seriously, I think people are seriously overthinking the photo sharing aspect. That's just the first thing they could think of that seemed like it would have mass appeal, but I imagine the company has little to no interest in private photos or in tracking individual users.

Here's how I see the possible future applications. You go somewhere and use your phone en route. Your phone knows approximately where you are and have been recently with a fair degree of detail. Rather than uploading that information to a server and scaring people away from using it, it listens to a stream of numbers from a server, which represent various different location and/or environmental criteria. The phone matches these with what it knows about itself based on where you've taken it, as if it were playing bingo. Every so often it gets a good match, and then uses that as a hash to look up a particular commercial message - one that has a high probability of being relevant to the owner of the phone based on where they are, where they're going, or where they have an established trail.

So you're traveling up the escalator in a shopping mall, when suddenly your phone shrugs (tm). What is it? That obscure thing you like and searched for last week is in a store 2 minutes walk away. Hardly anyone buys those, so if you go there in the next hour they'll give you 20% off; otherwise it goes back to the wholesaler.

8
10 points by FirstHopSystems 2 days ago 0 replies      
Wow. Is anyone still surprised that social networks do this? Really? "Oh! so that's what they are really doing?, Aha!' I would think that's has been established as the status quo for a awhile now.

a 42$ million investment, I would be curious about any thoughts on how a company would make a profit from that investment. Other than selling information about it's users.

I think the gotcha would be "Oh the company is NOT selling customer information!" So that's how they are doing it. This article seems like they just uncovered some new revelation.

9
40 points by lowglow 2 days ago 2 replies      
One shouldn't forget about exif data on images.
10
6 points by alexqgb 2 days ago 1 reply      
Odious creep factor aside, they deserve credit for securing both color.com and colour.com.

It's just amazing what you can do with $41mm, right?

11
4 points by tenaciousJk 2 days ago 4 replies      
Actually, I think it will be much worse than that. Think: location based advertising. In order to use color you have to allow GPS for the app and, optionally, push-notifications. A perfect combo for pushing ads when you're within X range, etc.

I sent a tweet to them yesterday, but got no response.
https://twitter.com/#!/tenaciousJk/status/51033367050846208

edit: group response to the below

No geo-ad platform has this low barrier to entry with this high of an incentive. Simply snap a pic and it's recorded and you're "checked in" if you will. You're doing something you want to be doing: recording your event, people you're with, etc. With 4S and Gowalla you have to want to check-in. Checking in is the app - not recording your memory by way of a picture/video. Sharing pictures is the biggest social app on the web.

12
3 points by twidlit 2 days ago 1 reply      
Color is not the sonic scanning mobile device in Dark Knight, it was the multi-lens visual scanner Lucius Fox threatened to quit over and self-destructed when they found Joker.

Bruce Wayne is Nguyen and we are Lucius Fox, but in this case there is no Joker to catch.

13
9 points by bch 2 days ago 1 reply      
What a lame commentary. He's surprised why? What about google search, gmail, facebook and twitter? When the "product" is free, YOU are the product.
14
2 points by Splines 2 days ago 0 replies      
(from the linked article):

> Then it will select the best picture and put it to the top of the photo feeds of people most interested in that image (like fans at the ballpark)

Great idea, but I don't think I've ever seen a description be so hand-wavey. You might as well put "Then some magic happens" there. Some details on how this happens (face recognition? social voting? views?) would be nice.

edit: I guess I should RTFA. It's still really high level, but later in the article Nguyen explains that they use views to measure photo quality.

15
4 points by Apocryphon 2 days ago 1 reply      
I rewatched The Social Network. I just realized that Timberlake's final rant as Sean Parker in that film was essentially the premise of Color.com- to wit:

"The next transformative development, a picture-sharing application. A place where you view pictures that coincide with your social life. It is the true digitalization of real life. You don't just go to a party anymore. You go to a party with a digital camera, and then your friends relive the party online. And tagging."

16
7 points by danberger 2 days ago 2 replies      
No one has mentioned their business model (page 3 of the interview). Basically they expect venues to pay for the ability to know the names of their frequent customers so that they could be greeted... but I thought they don't collect personal info.
17
2 points by Tycho 2 days ago 2 replies      
relax, it's just so they can send Groupon-style offers to people more likely to want them (Groupon would be great... if I ever actually wanted spa treatment, highlights, or weekend breaks)

on the other hand, suprised I haven't seen the obvious 'paedo/stalker threat' brought up yet. it's not data mining you'd need to worry about, it's individual predatory users

18
7 points by konop 2 days ago 2 replies      
To actually get the data they are going to mine, people have to actually use the thing. This is where I think color will fail... plus they spell colour wrong! (sent from Canada)
19
1 point by Jabbles 2 days ago 2 replies      
They got the funding because the investors think there's a small but non-zero chance that Color will become "the next twitter/facebook". The ROI could be 100 fold.

This is almost the opposite strategy to Yuri Milner, who is spreading his bets out over many companies. However, this strategy is no less valid. I say almost because the investors can make many (tens of) bets this size and still succeed in making money.

20
4 points by sequalia 2 days ago 0 replies      
How much time we need to understand, that the big business is surveillance of human resources (google, facebook).
There always be a ton of cash for data mining and selling it to governments, political parties, advertising companies etc.
If governments try to do it, its a privacy problem. But when corporations put a cool, color(ful), free app, you will give them your data, they can sell it. And its perfectly legal. Thats why they have all the money. But you are decision maker. And only by conscious action and wise choice
you can make difference. Big elites(politicians,corporations,big investors) listen only in two cases, when they loose money, and when they are afraid for their life.
21
1 point by MarinaMartin 1 day ago 0 replies      
If you ignore the photo-sharing capability for a moment, it sounds like they're trying to create a more accurate alternative to GPS. In the 1700s Britain awarded about £100,000 in "Longitude prize" money to people who contributed to the development of [accurate] longitude. I tried to figure out what that is in today's pounds and found a calculator that said it's £147,000,000.00 today. So if Color really can create an alternative to GPS for $41 million, it would be cheaper than what it cost to develop longitude :)

No idea if they can actually pull this off, but thought the Longitude Prize story is cool (thank you, "Stuff You Should Know" podcast, for mentioning it earlier this year).

22
2 points by trickjarrett 2 days ago 0 replies      
How does one profit off of this data. Are there agencies which sell it, or is it marketed to companies in some sort of package?
23
3 points by toddmorey 2 days ago 0 replies      
The tech explains the funding, but I still question whether Color will be widely used. I'm thinking Segway: amazing technology that didn't translate into an experience people enjoyed / wanted enough for mass adoption. This is why Apple does so well: they get both the technology and the experience right.
24
3 points by ebaysucks 2 days ago 1 reply      
color & image recognition = decentralized police state
25
1 point by gumbo 2 days ago 0 replies      
What kind of a shock.
The color app is unsuable, the user experience is the worst i ever had with an app.
That's beein said, if data mining is there "goal", then i suspect they fail because when your goal is expressed in this way not in a way that match "user's" goal then you're going to fail.
Google never said: "Hey our project i about collecting as much informations on people as we can". There goal is to satisfy some needs of their users.

On the other hand i need to say i was shocked to read what Color was about because it was so close to my start-up gold "idea" (don't ask what? :-) ). But more the time pass more i feel their project is so far of what we'd be doing.

I whish they understand that they can't succeed in this way, they can collect user's data like all those social networks does, but in exchange they need to provide something in exchange.

26
1 point by jasongullickson 2 days ago 1 reply      
I think if nothing else this is proof that if you have a clear way to generate value (evil or not), there is large investment to be had for tech start-ups.
27
1 point by marcamillion 2 days ago 0 replies      
Not to mention that most 'mobile' photos are 'geotagged' with the GPS coordinates.

I think this 'data mining' revelation could just well be the 'death knell' ?

28
1 point by felix0702 2 days ago 0 replies      
There will always be people who will post pictures publicly at different places. (similar to Youtube)
There will always be people who will check out who are the crowds in different places. (similar to Youtube)
With almost every phone being equipped with camera in the future, there will be even more pictures than video stored in Youtube.
They probably will let you find people who have similar interests in each location.
When they have a huge stored pictures and people's location preferences, I am sure they'll have ways to generate revenues.
If college kids love and often use this application, they should have a chance (I think). Otherwise, ...
29
2 points by allanchao 2 days ago 2 replies      
It's interesting that in a different article, I think it's Sequoia that said something along the lines of "something as revolutionary as this comes around once a decade. It's the next Google".

Seems like the goal of color is to aggregate vast amounts of real world data, like the Google of physical life.

30
2 points by ngsayjoe 2 days ago 1 reply      
I uninstalled it the moment I realized i can't remove my photo from the app. I guess it will be stored permanently public in Color.

(Yes, you can slide the photo left to remove it, but it'd still show up in my stream!)

31
2 points by apedley 2 days ago 0 replies      
I was wondering why it received such a huge investment.

That`s brilliant :) Great post john.

32
2 points by TheSwede75 2 days ago 0 replies      
"or filenames, meta-data, facial recognition dataming data, geo-data etc'

Yeah there sure is nothing there that 'marketers' could use right?

4
Wooden iPad 2 cover outsmarts Apple's Smart Cover tuaw.com
379 points by shawndumas 3 days ago   79 comments top 13
1
32 points by cletus 3 days ago 5 replies      
Really? A wooden cover for the iPad 2... with magnets. That's what makes the top of HN?

I can see this belonging on Engadget but what's the value here?

Don't get me wrong: I have an iPad 2. I love my iPad (1 & 2). I just don't see how a wooden cover for it is HN-worthy.

2
6 points by yumraj 3 days ago 1 reply      
Whats amazing about Apple is that even a cover for one of its products makes it to the top of HN.

Update: If it wasn't obvious, I was being sarcastic and sad.

3
17 points by dstone 3 days ago 1 reply      
If that's a solid sheet of microfiber on the inside, then I'm sold. The thing that irritates me most about the Smart Cover is that it leaves streaks on the glass where the indentations are.
4
5 points by dotBen 3 days ago 1 reply      
Still trying to work out how this wooden iPad cover outsmarts Apple's own cover (as promised in the title). Can anyone help me out?
5
5 points by vnchr 3 days ago 1 reply      
A lot of really negative and unnecessary comments on this blog. did the TechCrunch trolls ousted by their new FB commenting plugin find a new home?
6
6 points by samirg 3 days ago 2 replies      
Only thing they didn't show was whether the hinge snaps on/off as easily as the Smart Cover.
7
4 points by barista 3 days ago 1 reply      
What's cool about AAPL is that it inspires such innovative designs. Beautiful.
8
2 points by pohl 3 days ago 1 reply      
Do watch the video. Great design!
9
2 points by CoachRufus87 3 days ago 0 replies      
Did Apple patent their cover design?
10
1 point by linker3000 3 days ago 0 replies      
One thing's for certain: leave that thing on the kitchen while food's being prepared and your iPad will soon smell of chopped onions and garlic.
11
1 point by tlowrimore 3 days ago 0 replies      
Wow. I never really wanted an iPad until I saw this sexy little cover. Hmmm... I may have to go stand in line.
12
2 points by cegascon 3 days ago 0 replies      
Simple, Great, presentation
13
0 points by apotheon 3 days ago 0 replies      
That's easily the best thing about the iPad.
6
41,000,006 reasons why I think we're in a bubble jacquesmattheij.com
360 points by revorad 4 days ago   254 comments top 54
1
174 points by edw519 4 days ago replies      
I don't know about the rest of the world, but we sure are in a bubble here at Hacker News. There seems to be a real disconnect between what people want to build/invest in and what people in the real world actually need and want to pay for. Just as sample of what I've witnessed in the past few years:

  Ask HN: How do you like my file sharing app?
Ask HN: How do you like my social app for niche <x>?
Ask HN: How do you like my twitter app?
Ask HN: How do you like my facebook app?
Ask HN: How do you like my iphone app?
Ask HN: How do you like my facebook app that writes twitter apps?
Ask HN: How do you like my game?
Ask HN: How do you like my photo sharing app?
Ask HN: How do you like my video sharing app?
Ask HN: How do I monetize my free flashcard app?
Ask HN: How do you like my app that helps other hackers to do <x>?
Ask HN: How do I get traffic to my freemium app?
Ask HN: How do I get angels/VCs interested?
Ask HN: Look what I wrote this weekend!
Ask HN: Look what I wrote in one night!
Ask HN: Look what I wrote in 7 seconds!

Customer 1: How can we sell through Amazon.com?
Customer 2: How can we reduce inventory by $300 million?
Customer 3: How can we increase conversion from 2% to 4%?
Customer 4: How can we use software to reduce energy costs?
Customer 5: How can we migrate one app into another?
Customer 6: How can we get our phones to talk to our legacy apps?
Customer 7: How can we take orders through the internet?
Customer 8: How can we get our software package to do <x>?
Customer 9: How can we reduce credit card fraud?
Customer 10: How can we increase SEO effectiveness?
Customer 11: How can we connect fulfillment and ecommerce?
Customer 12: How can we increase revenue?
Customers 13-200: How can we increase profitability?

2
25 points by grellas 4 days ago 2 replies      
I guess it is a matter of terminology but I have to disagree on this one.

A bubble is all-pervasive and extreme. It represents a systematic investment mania where everything becomes surreal. People sell vast tracts of land for a prized tulip. Junk companies with nothing to offer but a vague concept about revolutionizing how this or that will be done owing to some new phenomenon such as the internet make serial stock offerings to the public and get hundreds of millions for a modest percent of their unproven company. Lenders pile on with countless real estate loans to unqualified borrowers secure in the belief that what are really worthless loans will make them huge profits because they can be packaged and disposed of through artificial securitized instruments and because housing prices will continue rise broadly for endless periods. All this begins to occur in endless and ever-expanding streams until, in the end, large numbers of people are sucked into the vortex.

In such cases, broad markets affecting an entire society are sent into a frenzy by which average people start both to get rich quick and to want to get rich quick. Large numbers of people leap in, therefore, in the hope of making fast money and abandon their common sense in the process. And when things go bust, this has a major systemic effect on the broader economy. A stock market that had reached stratospheric heights loses 70% of its value. A real estate market that had become so pricey as to make housing unaffordable for average buyers plummets to the depths, taking down people's savings en masse.

The current phenomenon represented by high valuations in parts of the startup world is more transient and limited. It has not affected the broader society at all, only an insular investment community. If it fell apart today in toto, it would leave a trail of victims within the VC and angel communities but would be felt scarcely at all in the broader economy, or at least would likely have no systemic impact.

Viewed from the standpoint of the broader society, I think what we are looking at here is a speculative frenzy affecting a comparatively narrow asset class. The prices of some startups have increased considerably. The prices of companies generally in the business world remain moderate, if not depressed. Is it a pricing frenzy within a particular segment of an asset class? Probably. Is it a bubble? No. Or at least not by historic definitions.

Again, I wouldn't disagree with a single specific point made in this piece, and the author as usual makes some astute observations. I would disagree about the terminology, though, and would say that we should reserve use of the term "bubble" for the sorts of massively dislocating events that it historically has come to represent.

3
52 points by trotsky 4 days ago replies      
Make no mistake, a big factor in the creation / encouragement of recent bubbles has been super easy monetary policy that provides cheap and easy credit.

In '00 we had a market crash after a dramatic run up of stocks in general and tech in specific. In 1998-1999 rates were low and credit was easily available [1]. As we led up to the millennium changeover ("Y2K") unprecedented amounts of short term capital were made available to banks and other institutions to allow them to weather any run on banks that might occur [2]. This money made it out the the markets and proceeded to whip them into something that was similar to a drug fueled frenzy: the nasdaq has never come close to those levels again. Alan Greenspan later noted that he believed his actions played an important role in the boom/bust. Once the fed windows closed for Y2K and interest rates were pulled upwards quickly all the money disappeared. Coincidence?

After the dot.com bust targeted rates were lowered dramatically to attempt to smooth out the markets. Check out this chart of historical fed funds rates as it is really easy to spot the cycles [3]. The next bubble was in housing, and predictably it began to burst when interest rates were raised again.

Look at that chart again [3]. The last couple of years have seen the lowest interest rates that have ever been available since the chart started more than 50 years ago. They have been approximately 0 for some time. In addition, the quantitative easing programs that the fed has engaged in (currently, QE2 composed of $600BN worth of treasury debt purchases) has left monetary policy so easy that if it were a woman the village would be talking.

I've heard some confusion about how this money makes it into the markets. It's really quite simple. Many people and organizations who would normally put some of their money into safe debt like treasuries decide not to because they can't make any money off of it and they are concerned about the effects of inflation. This causes them to look for better investments that will have a chance of returning something decent. The explosion of angels in SV is directly related to this process - these geeks, unable to make a good return in some traditional markets switched to making private investments. If more money comes into a sector, valuations will naturally rise and the quality of the companies funded will likely fall (or at least that seems reasonable to me).

QE2 is scheduled to end June 30th, 2011. Unless it is followed by a "QE3" (which there is probably a strong chance of) monetary supply will contract and interest rates will rise. At some point fed target rates will need to rise as a response to current growing inflation in the commodity markets and the retail increases in food and gasoline. Once the fed signals that the party is over, a ton of this money is going to run for the exits [4]. Don't expect to be able to close your next round unless you're of stellar quality or can hold out for 2-3 years.

Or at least, that's one version of it.

Of course, no one whose business relies on the expansion of public and private equity prices will explain this to you. The reasons for that should be relatively obvious.

[NOTE: I am not an economist. I wasn't classically schooled in this stuff. I'm also not a tea partier nor do I have any particular political axe to grind here. I am just a coder who has been watching carefully since the dot-com crash when I took a very big haircut. Take it all for what it's worth]

[1] https://secure.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/wiki/Dot_com_bubbl...

[2] http://www.greenspun.com/bboard/q-and-a-fetch-msg.tcl?msg_id...

[3] https://secure.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/wiki/Federal_funds...

[4] http://www.chrismartenson.com/martensonreport/coming-rout

4
24 points by jarin 4 days ago 0 replies      
Without any real knowledge of the VC industry, to me this "bubble" looks like VCs are just suffering from a lack of things to invest in due to the proliferation of angel investors.

They need to show their investors that they're doing something, so they throw a grip of money at a company with a solid group of founders and a roadmap full of the hot buzzwords of the day.

5
10 points by pclark 4 days ago 6 replies      
Hmph. If nothing else, posts like this are terribly offensive to the entrepreneurs that dedicate their lives to products like Color.

Did anyone consider that maybe Sequoia, who have invested in companies that make up over 10% of the NASDAQ know what they are doing?

Companies like Color, AdKeeper and Flipboard have "crazy" valuations based on the founders having ridiculous resumes. They have all created billions of dollars of value for their investors, hell, why wouldn't you invest in that potential again?

Rationalising this metaphorical bubble to domain prices is absurd, since domains have always been traded for eyebrow raising prices. You think that the domain color.com or path.com will be worth $10 in 5 years time? Seriously?

Color almost certainly didn't require $41M to get to the product you see today, did people ever consider the company is - gasp - launching early and has the capital to iterate and scale for the next few years? I can think of lots of startups that raised $10M - $20M at company formation and has then spent the next few years (or more) iterating.

Investors are less interested in where you are today, compared to where you are going

6
31 points by dclaysmith 4 days ago 1 reply      
"A $41M investment at this stage in the life cycle of a business is normally associated with either something that is technologically complex and thus capital intensive or that requires new processes to be designed from scratch."

This is what struck me when I heard about the deal. Color is cobbling together existing technologies and not creating anything new. This deal pushed me into the "There is a Bubble" group. They had better have an ace up their sleeve.

7
14 points by michaelcampbell 4 days ago 0 replies      
I don't know if it's a bubble or not, nor do I have any idea if it's just because of where I browse (self selection), but I've noticed a trend lately. The trend is that people are excited about a startup BECAUSE IT'S A STARTUP, and not because of what the underlying value of the business' model/idea/value. As if the fact something is a startup is, in and of itself, somehow magical and has intrinsic worth.

It reminds me of a few years ago when people were all googaw over social networks, because they were social networks. That seems to have passed now and they're focusing a bit more on how social can help this cause or that business model.

8
20 points by z92 4 days ago 1 reply      
We might be in a bubble. But that bubble will continue to inflate as long as people are screaming Bubble! Bubble!! The danger moment appears when all those predictions appear false and everyone start to believe, maybe this time, for some reason, exponential growth will continue forever.

The moment when everyone shut up and start to join the bandwagon is when the bubble bursts. <-- That's from my experience.

9
17 points by scrrr 4 days ago 3 replies      
Well, I am not in a bubble. If anything my software is vastly undervalued. I wouldn't know what to do with 40M. I could use 100k though..
10
16 points by dclaysmith 4 days ago 1 reply      
Someone should track the Color Fund vs. the 43 participants in YCombinator W2011 class:

Round Color's (err) round up to $43m. Then say that Milner's 150K was actually $1m with the same terms (convertible debt). You'd have 2 investments of $43m. Track follow up rounds for the 43 YC alumni and Color and see which pot grew the most.

11
4 points by frederickcook 4 days ago 0 replies      
Best summary of bubble/non-bubble debate I've read yet:

[Are we in a bubble?]

“Maybe,” says Naval, “Certainly valuations are creepy up quickly in all stages of deals. On the other hand, 10 years ago when we all felt like this last time the total market size for any company was at maximum 100 million potential users. Now we're in the billions of users. Facebook connections alone bring 500 million, Twitter 200 million. 10 years ago we only connected for brief periods of time when we were at our PCs. Now we're connected to apps all the time, everywhere we go. So maybe there's a bubble. It's hard to say. But we're also looking at unprecedented opportunity.”

- http://www.bothsidesofthetable.com/2011/03/22/the-magic-midn...

12
7 points by Kilimanjaro 4 days ago 0 replies      
So flickr goes mobile, gets funding, is sold for some billions, then a decade later it is dumped for a handful of millions?

The lesson here is not to blame the idea guys, they will profit from it dearly. Or blame the initial and subsequent investors all the way up to the (ponzi) pyramid, they will profit too. Or even blame the guy who signed the deal when bigCorp bought them, he got his cut under the table too.

Blame the poor souls who own shares of bigCorp for not enforcing accountability in their C*Os spending money left and right chasing the next bubble.

13
13 points by tyng 4 days ago 2 replies      
The $41m injection might well kill the company. I've never seen startups with too much capital early on to become the next Google/Facebook/Twitter - you lose your chance to become "relentlessly resourceful"!
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6 points by iqster 4 days ago 3 replies      
One of the arguments I've heard that state that things are different this time around goes like this: it is far less capital intensive to do a startup now rather than in the late 90s because of open source software stacks and cloud computing providers. I agree with this statement but it means that the average software startup doesn't need a lot of cash to develop their product. Apart from ads and perhaps domain names (haha), why does anyone need so much cash?

EDIT: I guess it could be patent licensing. I don't buy the technological complexity bit, personally.

Also, if you know that everyone's headed towards a bubble, what is the correct response if you are a rational entrepreneur? Riding the bubble to the top and bailing before the crash does not jive with me.

15
8 points by fastviper 4 days ago 0 replies      
TL;DR: bubble is intentionally blown, so that certain people earn more money

Pumping bubble is intentional. Financial world knows and uses this technique for years. They KNOW we have a bubble and THEY pump it up.

They earn money on stocks rising while bubble rises.

The more they invest, the more people come to them with the money (for investment). They earn money on those people (commissions, investment credits, accounts, personal advisory). And as more and more money pours from the sky, the market rises. And they earn on stock rising.

Suckers (commoners like we) believe that they can catch a train with next Facebook and sell houses or use life savings in hope for a fortune. And financial world earns.

At the proper moment leaders of this mess bail out and we have a "crisis".

Most people decide to invest too late (for example now it's much too late) and also bail out MUCH too late (after few hours or days from bubble blowout).

But those managers and capital owners.. People cry, media report suicides and they just are buying another Ferrari and houses in the Canarian/Carribean. They smoke a cigar, drink whiskey and looking at the sky think: 'suckers, so long till next bubble'.

Works like charm for years. So sad that for example my country's currency ex ratio and stock exchange is so vulnerable to this.

Financial managers are not stupid. They are pragmatically cynical.

16
4 points by crux_ 3 days ago 0 replies      
I'm curious about a couple of things, but also ignorant... so here's hoping for a helpful reply:

- How much institutional money (pensions, sovereign wealth, etc) is ending up in VC?

(My intuition tells me that the tremendous pressure on these funds to generate returns, which was a huge part of the housing bubble, is in turn fueling this bubble too, although not nearly at the same scale.)

17
6 points by yannickmahe 4 days ago 3 replies      
What I don't get, economically speaking, is how we can both be in a bubble and in a barely recovering economy. In other words, how do these angels and VCs still have that much money to invest in such companies?
18
4 points by RyanMcGreal 4 days ago 0 replies      
> No more 'x' buys 'y', where 'x' is some established player and 'y' is some new kid on the block that has a fancy office with pinball machines a hip domain name and an in-house chef.

Or as was often the case, 'y' buys 'x'.

19
3 points by nadam 4 days ago 0 replies      
It is not necessarily a bubble yet. I think investors think the mobile-social-local market will be owned by very few companies. (Only a few can survive because of the network effect). They invest into one company and hope that with a lot of advertisement money they can win. There would be a bubble if they would invest the same money into 10-20 or more similar companies randomly.
20
2 points by david927 4 days ago 1 reply      
We're still just starting a watershed moment for ways of finding productivity gains, forms of entertainment, ways to connect and share. We haven't scratched the surface yet. There are huge leaps being worked on in the foundation technology.

Give us a bubble! Spread it out, so that such 41mm deals go instead to a thousand teams. And we will give you the future.

21
2 points by Tycho 3 days ago 0 replies      
The previous bubble took 5 years to form and about 2 months to go 'pop'. I'm not sure if that timetable is trustworthy, but we definitely seem to be accelerating along the curve.

Just thinking aloud here, but how on earth would you make a trustworthy timetable out of that observation? What do you measure? Economy was size A in year Y2K, technological faciliation was a level B, there were C people involved directly with the market; now the economy is size X, tech is level Y, and Z people are at the table... like why would you think one previous bubble was in some way proportional to a present one?

One last thing, what to make of Max Andreeson's pet theory that there never was a real dotcom 'bubble' - that a few companies were ridiculously overvalued but overall most were ok and in fact more investment should have happened (in a more diversified manner)?

22
4 points by antidaily 3 days ago 1 reply      
41 million (and growing): The number of views for Rebecca Black's "Friday" video on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CD2LRROpph0
23
3 points by citricsquid 4 days ago 1 reply      
What's the difference between proof of it being a bubble and these guys just making a ridiculous investment based on hype?
24
1 point by davidmathers 3 days ago 0 replies      
As the great philosopher Inigo Montoya once said: "You keep using that word..."

Let's talk about this chart for a second:

http://www.google.com//finance?chdnp=1&chdd=1&chds=1...

Ok, see that 4000% increase in 18 months? That's what a bubble looks like.

Now, please point out to me where on the graph it made more sense to invest your retirement money in the S&P 500 rather than Amazon.

Wait, you mean pets.com, not amazon.com? Fair enough. But now I'm not sure what your argument is. That color.com is going to fail and the investor are going to lose all their money?

That is what you're saying right? Because if you're saying they're taking a large risk that has a very small chance of paying off then you're saying nothing. That's what investors do. That's what makes us (as a society) all rich.

If your argument is that capital is being misallocated then you have to say why and where the capital should be allocated.

Which brings us to what is actually a bubble and not just people with lots of money taking big risks that may not pay off:

1. capital being invested by (otherwise) non-investors

2. who can't afford to lose

3. who have come to believe, with certainty, that they can't lose

That was the case in both the stock bubble and real estate bubble. It's not the case now. I guess the headline "valuations are unrealistically high" wouldn't generate as much heat and would require a coherent defense.

25
2 points by sdizdar 3 days ago 0 replies      
Not sure if this particular investment can be called as a sign of a bubble. Social networks, locality, mobile, and things are still new and unknown. But there is a huge potential. There will be soon 2B people on the earth with constant (mobile) connection to the internet.

In order to make FourSquare clone, you don't need a lot of investment for development but you need a LOT of money to acquire users and become a player in that space.

However, the assumption is that there will be only few players and that is why there is a need for these kind of bold investment moves. I disagree. The system will become even more fragmented, democratized, and complex with many unknowns, so classical ways of getting market share will not work. In other words, even with 41M of investment, the company will not be able to fight against some weird and original apps / social network or even coupon buying system.

26
6 points by rapind 4 days ago 0 replies      
If the $40m is mostly for marketing / advertising then this is definitely reminiscent of the last tech bubble.
27
7 points by svrocks 4 days ago 0 replies      
We're not really in a bubble until Color.com (NSDQ: COLR) IPOs at a $500MM valuation and quadruples on its first day of trading.

And then we're not REALLY in a bubble until Air.com, the leader in the social breathing space IPOs at twice that.

28
4 points by tyng 4 days ago 1 reply      
At least the domain name is worth some dollars.

I actually quite like the concept - makes group photo sharing fun & easy. But worth $41m? Not yet

29
4 points by toddmorey 4 days ago 1 reply      
As someone else commented, Facebook could easily add a feature to show pictures from friends geotagged with your current location. (Not a perfect replacement but a lot of the magic.) Apple also appears to be getting aggressive in this space with the new version of mobile me. Color has an interesting vision, but I think traction as a photo sharing add-on is going to be tough once the social network and the mobile device maker get into the same exact business.
30
3 points by bhurt 4 days ago 0 replies      
One reason I know we're not in a bubble: because everyone is saying we're in a bubble.

For you young whippersnappers who were too young to remember the 90's, a bubble is a manifestation of irrational exuberance- with (almost) everyone saying it's a whole new market, it doesn't matter how much the thing costs it's worth it to buy it because it's price is just going to keep going up up up, so do whatever you need to do to buy in now, because the longer you wait, the less you make.

In other words- it's a bubble when everyone is saying it's not a bubble. But if everyone is saying it IS a bubble, then it's not a bubble.

There is a difference between a healthy (or at least "not on death's doorstop") economy and a bubble.

31
4 points by digisth 4 days ago 1 reply      
We might be, but are bubbles always bad? Lots of money gets thrown around. More people get jobs. Ideas are everywhere. People get experience starting and running companies. Interpersonal and business networks are built. Lots of bad ideas are funded, sure, but a few great ones also emerge.

We shouldn't condemn bubbles as automatically bad. We should be aware of them, though.

32
2 points by NxguiGui 4 days ago 0 replies      
Don't follow the hype:)
The way i see things is simple.
X angel/vc knows how to play the game of taking some Y startup with non super unique idea/product and sell it to the Z highest bidder.
When X invest money the most important thing is to make Big News.
The Z are full with money to spend, they know that money need to circulate in order to multiply.
They watch The News.
They react. With money.
On the other side of the line are X, they also watch the news, dream for success and want to be Zuckerbergs.
And so on.
From my perspective the smartest move is to connect demands of Z and availability of Y. Be a X or The News channel.
But i am small, insignificant, away from first hand experience and everything that i think is away from The Game that is x,y,z.
Thinks i can do with one million funding, if i have it, in terms of product development, team building, business development, are so old school and simple that are not interesting to put here at all.
For me in this position the only valuable model is bootstrapping everything, test early in real world and iterate slowly and carefully in terms of technology and business model.
But i deeply respect The Game of x,y and z, not so in direct meaning but as side effect. If all this money are 20% effective they push new technology to the limit and test the audience and give as a valuable lessons without risking money that we don't have.
So if Z want to spend it's their decision to make.
Our is to choose a) to be valuable Y or b) to be other letter in the equation making our own working function, with our own proven methods and variables:)
33
3 points by atrevisan 3 days ago 0 replies      
Typically those kinds of things would happen once every year or so, twitter (I still don't fully grok their business model), facebook and so on.

Don't understand Twitter's business model? Promoted tweets have the ability to become AdWords for social. Millions of pieces of content are shared everyday giving insight into user's pleasures, dislikes, and lifestyle. This user data, when analyzed, has immense value for companies interested in purchasing. That information is worth a ton.

Bubble or no bubble, I sure grok their business model.

34
2 points by greendestiny 4 days ago 0 replies      
I think the only thing I'd generally agree on is that "in general it is agreed upon" are weasel words of the highest order.
35
1 point by jbooth 4 days ago 0 replies      
So, at first everyone criticizes these guys for being on the wrong side of the chicken-egg problem, then everyone says they raised too much money and are being too ostentatious.

Seems like they're attacking the chicken-egg problem in the easiest way, to me, the domain name and big dollar shine on everything make them look more credible and established. And they have enough runway to focus on product for the first few years while growing the userbase without having to monetize immediately.

Could still flop a million ways, of course. It just seems like going all-in could actually be a viable way to attack emerging social networky markets.

36
4 points by joelhooks 4 days ago 0 replies      
This is a typical business cycle[1]. Easy credit, low interests rates, no incentive to save.

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Austrian_business_cycle_theory

37
2 points by mkr-hn 4 days ago 0 replies      
If there is a bubble, then it's balancing stuff like this that will keep things in check. I've been noticing it too, and I think that's a sign that things are getting crazier as the months go by.
38
1 point by eli 4 days ago 2 replies      
I'm pretty sure Dropbox paid a lot more than $7.95 for "dropbox.com" It's actually somewhat difficult to find an unregistered, pronounceable domain that's under 6 or 7 characters.
39
1 point by sabat 3 days ago 0 replies      
Anecdotal over-investment on the part of three VC companies != a bubble.

A bubble is a stock market bubble based on massive, irrational over-investment on the part of VCs and stock market investors which, after implosion, will hurt the US and world economy.

"Hey, those VCs are making some stupid investments" does not translate into an economic bubble. VCs frequently make stupid investments, because they're human and they're in the business of taking risks.

Please, I urge you to read a history of the actual stock market dot-com bubble of the late '90s so you understand the word "bubble" in context.

40
1 point by evo_9 4 days ago 1 reply      
From Colo[u]r.com:

"Think fast!

Find someone. Take pictures together.
Party. Play date. Lunch?

Simultaneously use multiple iPhones and Androids to capture photos, videos, and conversations into a group album. There's no attaching, uploading, or friending to do.

Share together in a new, moving social network. Just look around."

41
3 points by kia 4 days ago 0 replies      
jacquesm really added ads to his site.
42
3 points by orky56 4 days ago 0 replies      
Back to the days of which venture has the highest burn-through rate!
43
1 point by techiferous 4 days ago 0 replies      
What about the popularity of the lean startup approach? The focus on data and customers tends to keep those startups real. Shouldn't this mitigate some tendency toward a bubble?
44
1 point by mendable 4 days ago 1 reply      
Asking the wrong question?

What about asking, "How has taking this amount of funding helped this business?"

Strategically, this much funding through all of the controversy it has generated, will guarantee this company/brand gets in front of nearly every early adopter over the next couple of weeks.

It will drive hundreds of thousands of people to try it out.

And that's before they've spent a penny of it.

Loads of Posts on HN alone excitedly linking to the app on Android etc (one on the front page right now).

After that, it will sink or swim on it's own merit.

Would that have happened if they hadn't taken this funding? No. It would have had 5 minutes on TechCrunch, and then been forgotten about because it may not have been remarkable.

Now all they need to do is implement a business model / some way to make money from it so their per-user revenue exceeds their cost of user acquisition, and use the remaining $38,000,000 as a marketing budget to spread it to everyone else. Profit.

45
1 point by brackin 4 days ago 0 replies      
.com's are no longer important, blekko, duckduckgo, drop.io and similar companies are proving this. It's not a big deal anymore. Every time I pitch Reward.io I get asked "how will It make money" so saying that profits don't matter anymore is a big understatement in my opinion. New business models are being developed and used to make money like Freemium and more subscription models.

There will always be some startups with over valued valuations but the big thing is startups don't think they are invincible, with Digg and Myspace startups know they could die if they don't work hard and try and find a way to make money, even twitter which has gone almost too far recently with DickBar.

46
2 points by thedaveoflife 4 days ago 0 replies      
relavent link to his point about domain names: wallgreens buys drugstore.com for 409M.

http://dealbook.nytimes.com/2011/03/24/walgreens-to-buy-drug...

47
1 point by ohashi 4 days ago 0 replies      
I think the domain name argument is bunk. The domain market isn't 'hot' again by any means. In fact it hasn't recovered from peaking in 2007-2008.
48
1 point by beeeph 3 days ago 0 replies      
When a tech bubble pops, how does it affect a funded startup compared to a bootstrapped startup? I'm relatively new to the startup world, but as I understand it, startups that need funding are generally the only one's negatively affected when the bubble pops since funding becomes more scarce. If so, wouldn't that benefit the bootstrappers?
49
1 point by HeyLaughingBoy 3 days ago 0 replies      
Who cares if we're in a bubble? The only thing that matters is "how can I make money from it?"
50
1 point by jeremymusighi 3 days ago 0 replies      
Nice touch writing out the full "$41,000,000" rather than just "$41M". Definitely makes it look like more. Although I don't disagree that the size of the investment seems unjustified.
51
1 point by kirbman89 4 days ago 0 replies      
Bubble Smubble. This bubble has a long ways to go before it pops. We're coming out of a recession! We have a few years left before we should be concerned.
52
4 points by known 3 days ago 0 replies      
Define bubble.
53
1 point by tutanosh 3 days ago 0 replies      
There is a bubble in people calling a tech bubble, surely this cannot last!
54
1 point by wat55 4 days ago 1 reply      
Sorry, but the U.S. economy is a $14 trillion economy. Anyone who says we're in a bubble based on the aggregate Silicon Valley venture capital funding in the last year is getting ahead of themselves. Before you lecture us on a bubble, try to understand some basics on the U.S. economy.
7
Torvalds: Standards are paper. I use paper to wipe my butt every day. redhat.com
321 points by statictype 2 days ago   174 comments top 28
1
104 points by fleaflicker 1 day ago replies      
That's a deceptive title. The real point is more important (but less sensational):

Reality is what matters. When glibc changed memcpy, it created problems. Saying "not my problem" is irresponsible when it hurts users. 

2
35 points by ot 2 days ago 2 replies      
These fights between "specs lawyers" and "pragmatic" programmers are painfully frequent. Reminds me of the ext4 controversy on the out-of-order metadata synchronization.

Linus himself has already expressed his point of view many times, for example here (http://www.h-online.com/open/features/GCC-We-make-free-softw...):

> Torvalds has his own take on this, which is that "For some reason, compiler developers seem to be far enough removed from 'real life' that they have a tendency to talk in terms of 'this is what the spec says' rather than 'this is a problem'."

I couldn't agree more.

3
34 points by ximeng 1 day ago 2 replies      
Upstream glibc bug here:

http://sources.redhat.com/bugzilla/show_bug.cgi?id=12518

Assigned to the inimitable Ulrich Drepper, who comments:

"The existence of code written by people who should never have been allowed to touch a keyboard cannot be allowed to prevent a correct implementation."

4
55 points by famousactress 2 days ago 3 replies      
I think it's awesome how focused someone who works on the very lowest level of the OS remains so focused on users, and their experience.
5
33 points by chuhnk 2 days ago 1 reply      
"Bullshit. You clearly don't know what you're talking about."

Tells it like he sees it. I'm not going to argue with the man. He makes some good points. The user really doesn't care what the underlying changes are as long as everything continues to work, in this case it does not. Reading back through the comments its clear Linus makes great suggestions which are left unheard.

I like comment #222 https://bugzilla.redhat.com/show_bug.cgi?id=638477#c222

"Breaking existing binaries with a shared library update IS A BAD THING. How hard can that be to understand? If you break binary compatibility, you need to update the library major version number."

6
29 points by DeusExMachina 1 day ago 0 replies      
Going down the thread I found this little gem in one of Linus' replies:

Why? Because _users_ are the only thing that makes software useful. Software isn't useful on its own. You cannot say "this is the right thing to do" unless you take users into account.

7
10 points by mjs 2 days ago 1 reply      
I find it interesting that Linus seems to have originally come across this particular bug report as a user; he, too, was having a problem with Flash player:

https://bugzilla.redhat.com/show_bug.cgi?id=638477#c8

"I see this as well. Sounds like clipping or some really bad sample rate frequency conversion."

(It's only later that it becomes clear that this is due to a glibc "regression".)

8
5 points by s3graham 1 day ago 0 replies      
Kernighan & Pike:

    The ANSI C standard defines two functions: memcpy, which
is fast but might overwrite memory if source and destination
overlap; and memmove, which might be slower but will always
be correct. The burden of choosing correctness over speed
should not be placed upon the programmer; there should be
only one function. Pretend there is, and always use memmove.

Shucks.

Also, static linking.

9
3 points by javert 1 day ago replies      
A spec is a contract between programmers, and in the long run, following specs is good for users. Letting Adobe ignore specs and then bending over backwards to accomodate them doesn't seem like a good policy.

And even if following the spec weren't better for users in the long term, it is technologically superior, and Fedora is free to choose the technologically superior alternative over pleasing the masses if they want. Despite what Linus suggests, there is no Ten Commandments of software that dictate the rules here.

I guess Linus could have used this opportunity to convince a naysayer like me why I'm wrong, but instead he was just insulting and didn't address the real points at all.

(And FYI, I'm a diehard Linux user)

10
9 points by yuvadam 2 days ago 3 replies      
You gotta _love_ Linus' writings.
11
12 points by genera 1 day ago 3 replies      
Linus makes fine points, but it's asinine to say that standards don't matter. His entire contribution to the world could not exist without them.
12
3 points by bcl 1 day ago 1 reply      
13
1 point by marshray 1 day ago 0 replies      
Keep in mind the specs were written to standardize the behaviour that existed at the time: there were implementations of memcpy that worked a bit faster because they didn't have to test for overlapping regions. That's why there's a separate memmove function in the first place.

So people saying that memcpy should work like memmove are really the ones advocating for changing a spec that is currently quite explicit.

Enabling this type invalid behavior from app code is a classic example of introducing dependencies on undocumented behavior. Over time these dependencies accumulate in complex systems with the resulting effect of increasing software incompatibilities, not reducing them.

14
2 points by Confusion 1 day ago 1 reply      
Is this submission a deliberate attempt to make Linus look bad? The title is not at all what his comment amounts to; it could be removed from comment post without changing the meaning. I don't doubt you can find a multitude of quotes of Linus in support of various, official or pragmatic, standards. He was just polemizing.
15
2 points by sriramk 1 day ago 0 replies      
The upstream glibc bug is worth reading too. My favorite bit 'Everyone is interested in using the code idiots write'.
16
2 points by tluyben2 1 day ago 0 replies      
Although I like the attitude on some level and in this case he is obviously right, the problem with it is that our (and others I know) programmers feel like cowboys after reading HN posts like this. 'Ruby master bla says I don't need comments and documentation man!' 'Testing is sooo 00s; we use our brains!' 'Specs and standards are paper, read Torvalds; he uses that in his watercloset! Yeah he isn't talking about specs, but those are paper too!'.
17
2 points by vorg 1 day ago 1 reply      
Specs are great: Java and Scala both have specs. Not having a spec can be OK if the language designer doesn't change things too often, and announces it well in advance when they do, e.g. Python.

What's worst is, say, when the language "Product Manager" leads a standardization committee that hasn't done anything for 7 years, yet often changes the language implementation overnight so code samples in other people's books and blogs no longer work.

18
6 points by guan 1 day ago 0 replies      
Linus: “I (obviously) always compile my own kernels”
19
1 point by rch 1 day ago 0 replies      
I don't use Flash on Linux.

But! what's interesting is how much I dislike the first sentence of comment 133.

20
0 points by zeynel1 1 day ago 0 replies      
"Standards are [just] paper."

He misunderstands how the world works. Standard is not just paper; standard is the thing. From this site: http://science1.wordpress.com/2007/04/26/matter-does-not-exi...

    For physicists Newton's atomic materialism is blinding. 
It will take many generations of humans to perceive that
standard is the thing. There is no “physical” world
other than standards and density differentials.

21
1 point by rcthompson 1 day ago 0 replies      
So, did anyone try out the workaround in comment 55? I tried it just for fun, but Flash already doesn't crash for me, so I didn't see any difference.
22
1 point by binspace 1 day ago 0 replies      
Now we know Torvalds is regular.
23
1 point by srram 21 hours ago 0 replies      
an analogy to the web: Quirks mode is a good thing
24
1 point by wazzupflow 1 day ago 0 replies      
Interesting; i wonder why more people don't get into Linux hacking.
25
0 points by intellection 1 day ago 0 replies      
Technical Aggression.

I prefer more people standing against intransient word & law. (Much is called Standards, or Rights.)

Codes hold you.

Our support systems could allow critical viewpoints better.

26
0 points by dendory 1 day ago 1 reply      
Am I the only one that finds it amazing that in 2011 a mainstream Linux distribution like Fedora is still having issues playing YouTube videos? I mean... Linux on the desktop? wow...
27
1 point by known 1 day ago 0 replies      
Popular == Standard
28
1 point by abdd0e78 1 day ago 1 reply      
Linus himself has said that he has an ego the size of a small planet.
9
MySQL.com compromised via (guess what?) SQL injection sucuri.net
286 points by sucuri2 20 hours ago   106 comments top 10
1
53 points by jedsmith 18 hours ago 2 replies      
Actual information with more details, minus zero-content blog:

http://seclists.org/fulldisclosure/2011/Mar/309?utm_source=t...

http://pastebin.com/BayvYdcP

2
21 points by OstiaAntica 19 hours ago 1 reply      
Here's some background info on Blind SQL Injection:

http://www.owasp.org/index.php/Blind_SQL_Injection

3
26 points by fmavituna 19 hours ago 2 replies      
Same guys hit Sun.com via SQL Injection as well - http://tinkode27.baywords.com/sun-com-sun-mycrosystems-vulne...

Shameless self plug: Netsparker ( My startup: http://www.netsparker.com/ ) could have identified both of these vulnerabilities.

4
7 points by riffraff 19 hours ago replies      
while I understand that sql injection is mostly a fault of the host programming language/developer (php in this case) and not of the dbms/dba, couldn't the latter have avoided this in part by limiting user privileges so that it was impossible to "list the internal databases, tables and password dump" e.g. "REVOKE SHOW DATABASES, SHOW VIEW" ?

(I'm aware this may make impossible to use some web frameworks which rely on rdbms reflection, but I have the feeling this is not the case)

5
2 points by mattmanser 18 hours ago 5 replies      
What really pisses me off about this is that you had to register just to be able to download the files.

So they unnecessarily had a lot of people's username/passwords for absolutely no good reason.

6
1 point by albertzeyer 19 hours ago 8 replies      
I wonder a bit that there isn't a real binary protocol for SQL.

Edit: It seems there are ways to work around server-side SQL parsing: http://www.xarg.org/2011/01/is-it-possible-to-avoid-query-pa...

I was thinking more about why it is allowed at all to send text-like SQL queries to a server. A binary protocol would both be simpler to handle and would have saved us from a lot of trouble.

Edit: If all client-side libs (for PHP, Python, etc.) would just use those [prepared statements](http://dev.mysql.com/doc/refman/5.0/en/c-api-prepared-statem...), it would be like what I mean.

Edit: Ah, I was wrong (as I hoped): For Python: https://launchpad.net/oursql

7
3 points by d2 17 hours ago 2 replies      
Oracle's security team bear full responsibility for this breach. MySQL's founder Monty Widenius left Sun in 2005. Sun declined, Oracle bought them as a strategic buy and the portal has been neglected to the point of being compromised.

One wonders what internal neglect MySQL is suffering behind the corporate veil.

8
2 points by Arxiss 7 hours ago 0 replies      
I can't believe that all these 'BIG names' are getting hacked by group of 2. What is next? Google.com goes down?
9
1 point by drinian 19 hours ago 0 replies      
Doesn't really seem responsible to post the vulnerability details to the public list like that, all necessary shaming on weak passwords aside.

I wonder if the timing on this has anything to do with Oracle's continued dismantling of the useful parts of the MySQL website.

10
-4 points by hammock 19 hours ago 1 reply      
6661, is that his ATM pin as well?
10
Best app store review ever mike3k.posterous.com
284 points by flyingyeti 1 day ago   48 comments top 10
1
45 points by CSherman 22 hours ago 2 replies      
For easier reading:

Color is a ground-breaking new entry in the new genre of MMPRLMG (Massive Multi-Player Real-Live Marketing Games).

Imagine yourself emerging from the dense forest of the App Store(TM). In a clearing ahead you see a shiny new icon, a multicolor wheel. Its name is Color. In the distance you hear marketing dogs yelping buzz. "Social!" "Find Someone." "Party!" You press Install, and your adventure begins!

You tap the app and you're presented with your first challenge. The gatekeeper. You must enter you name and have your picture taken before you can continue. "What will my name be used for?" you ask. No response. "Who will see my picture?" Silence. "You must give us your name and image or you cannot proceed" the interface insists. You acquiesce, wondering if you haven't made your first mistake. But there's no going on until you do, and you WANT to go on.

You are whisked through a portal into a chamber. Along the border are strange icons. In the middle a large, jaunty, mural in the seat-pocket-emergency-evacuation-instructions drawing style. It shows intent people in pants all taking pictures with their phones. The capture reads "Take photos together."

You decide to explore the icons. One's sort of an infinity/Ying/Yang. You wonder what that's supposed to mean. You tap the icon and find yourself on a blank screen. The icon changes to overlapping ovals. What does this new icon mean? You tap that one. You return to the mural room.

You examine the third icon, clearly a clock. You tap it. You see your face, name, and the date. Nothing else. The clock icon is now lit up. You wonder what that means. You notice that questions are starting to accumulate. Should you be writing them down? You tap the clock icon again. It turns into a white screen with the words "No messages." The icon has turned into a sound-wave. You wonder what that means.

You continue to poke around the interface. There are no settings. No info buttin. No hints. You start to sweat a little. No tutorial. No about screen. No credits. No link to a website.

Then you remember the warning. The one written next to the install button. "Do not use Color alone!" You call up a friend. You both look at the interface together. There's no change.

Now things are getting spooky. Is this all there is? Is there no one to explain what these things are or how they work? Is this interface really so simple and obvious that it doesn't need any kind of guide? The though suddenly crosses your mind that you might not be technically savvy enough to understand an interface that's so simple it doesn't need a manual!

But this is a Real-Life Adventure game, and you have assists! You cast the Google spell. You discover that the developers spent months developing advanced analysis and data-mining technology. It analyzes location, and position, and light, and ambient noise, and bluetooth signal strength so it can... so it can... "What?" you ask out loud! "What on earth is it going to do with all of this informa..." and you shut your mouth. Is it listening now? Is it analyzing your level of frustration, the shaking in your hand, the defeated angle of the device? Is somewhere a database recording your inability to solve this twenty-first century enigma that you hold in you hand?

You find the company web site. It has no instructions. No "About us!" link. No tutorial, or feature lists, or forums, or support, or contacts, or FAQS. You can almost hear the developers laughing at you! "Silly user, sniffing around our website looking for information! We gather information, we don't give it out!"

You conquered Myst. You understood the end of Lost. You can do this!. You're not going to let this new adventure game genre get the best of you! You will master this if it takes all weekend. You discover a button to create a group! You wonder what a group is. Progress, of sorts.

But at least you know it's just a game, and not actually an app to share photos. And now you also know that you are along. And you're uncool. And not very clever. Because Color told you so.

2
24 points by TorKlingberg 23 hours ago 5 replies      
Is there really no better way to put an Apple app store review online than as a series of screenshots?
3
16 points by beck5 23 hours ago 2 replies      
Ok good, so I'm not alone in being totally confused by the UI. I would rather play myst than color.
4
4 points by willheim 19 hours ago 0 replies      
I don't think we have ever in the history of the world seen a start-up so mindbogglingly confusing. Wait, let me clarify that statement with the amendment "handed $41m".

Seriously, has anyone figured out how to use color and found anything good of it? The reason we're all "piling on" is because NONE of us "get it".

5
4 points by gcb 23 hours ago 0 replies      
proof that interface and pleasing users means little to acquire vast sums of money from old economy capitalists.
6
3 points by grandalf 22 hours ago 4 replies      
All this anti-color sentiment is really unbecoming. Just get over it and work on your own startup.
7
2 points by statictype 23 hours ago 1 reply      
At this point, we're just beating a dead horse when it comes to Color.com.

Flagged.

8
6 points by danberger 23 hours ago 0 replies      
Amazing. I love the fact he referenced Myst!
9
-3 points by noob007 1 day ago 1 reply      
I guess it's right to use the word 'LOL' here :p
10
-2 points by AlexMuir 22 hours ago 1 reply      
Although they own colour.com, searching for 'Colour' in the App Store takes you nowhere. Doh.
11
Secret Fears of the Super-Rich theatlantic.com
243 points by gammarator 3 days ago   190 comments top 36
1
44 points by Eliezer 3 days ago 5 replies      
We recently figured out that a major problem with the SIAI Visiting Fellows program has been that we don't give Visiting Fellows a context in which they know how well they're doing - they're picking up rationality tricks of the trade, but there's no counter that goes up when they do.

I suspect that rich people who aren't just measuring their progress by net assets, acquire this problem with their entire lives - now that they're not holding down a job, they no longer have any sense of what constitutes "progress".

Existential angst mostly just consists of having one or more problems you don't know how to identify ("My life lacks obvious progress indicators" having not even occurred to you as a hypothesis for describing what's wrong) and so you find that everything you do to try to address the problems you think you have, never solves the real problem. http://lesswrong.com/lw/sc/existential_angst_factory/. If there's anyone out there who's reading this and thinking "Yes, that's me", you can go ahead and email me (Eliezer Yudkowsky) because problems like this really should be solvable. Similarly, now that we've figured out what was wrong with the Visiting Fellows program we're going to try to fix it, etcetera.

2
37 points by DavidMcLaughlin 3 days ago replies      
"In the day-to-day trenches of adult life, there is no such thing as atheism. There is no such thing as not worshipping. Everybody worships. The only choice we get is what to worship. And an outstanding reason for choosing some sort of god or spiritual-type thing to worship - be it JC or Allah, be it Yahweh or the Wiccan mother-goddess or the Four Noble Truths or some infrangible set of ethical principles - is that pretty much anything else you worship will eat you alive. If you worship money and things - if they are where you tap real meaning in life - then you will never have enough. Never feel you have enough. It's the truth. Worship your own body and beauty and sexual allure and you will always feel ugly, and when time and age start showing, you will die a million deaths before they finally plant you. On one level, we all know this stuff already - it's been codified as myths, proverbs, clichés, bromides, epigrams, parables: the skeleton of every great story. The trick is keeping the truth up front in daily consciousness. Worship power - you will feel weak and afraid, and you will need ever more power over others to keep the fear at bay. Worship your intellect, being seen as smart - you will end up feeling stupid, a fraud, always on the verge of being found out.

The insidious thing about these forms of worship is not that they're evil or sinful; it is that they are unconscious. They are default settings. They're the kind of worship you just gradually slip into, day after day, getting more and more selective about what you see and how you measure value without ever being fully aware that that's what you're doing."

http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2008/sep/20/fiction

3
9 points by grellas 3 days ago 1 reply      
There is nothing wrong with being rich and in many ways it can be a positive good in the life of any person to have the ability to shape one's time in optimal ways as opposed to being a slave of financial necessity.

But the perils of being rich are legion, as detailed in this interesting piece.

As I grew up, I always had to work for most anything I got and, in retrospect, I believe that the financial necessity that drove a good part of this was actually a big part of my character development. I always wonder what it would have been like on that front if I were continually faced with the temptation, as a rich kid, of bypassing the pain and difficulty of such challenges in favor of indulgences that were readily at hand. This must be an enormous problem for young people who have inherited significant wealth.

In any case, this piece portrays those with some measure of wealth from an interesting angle and nicely highlights that all that glitters is not gold, even if it literally is gold.

4
28 points by ChuckMcM 3 days ago 2 replies      
I found it an interesting read, perhaps a cautionary tale. I suspect that if you are an entrepreneur 'to get rich' and you succeed and find you are depressed all the time because you don't know who your friends are, some (possibly material) portion of your new found wealth will go toward counseling.

I had the non-unique experience of being a multi-millionaire for 2 weeks in the summer of 1999. Which is to say that on paper, in terms of options and restricted stock, and stock which was currently owned but embargoed (due to my companies acquisition) was 'worth' millions.

I really had to sit back and think hard about what that meant, would I retire in 4 years?, keep working ? join a venture firm? The stock went from $120/share to $0.83/share before I could sell any of it so I never had to actually answer those questions but I found that how I felt when I was 'rich' was different than how I thought I would feel. I don't know if that is a common experience or not.

I find the idea that someone wouldn't really feel financially secure unless they had $1b in the bank sad. But I looked at what Google paid for Eric Schmidt's 'security detail' and I realized that at some point you become a 'soft target' for people who would acquire money through violence or extortion. I would hope to avoid becoming one of those targets. I've heard that if you are ever in danger of acquiring too much wealth you can 'fix' that by buying an airline. (with props to Sir Richard Branson)

5
30 points by michaelochurch 3 days ago replies      
What I learned when I read this was that most rich people's lives are defined (just like most others' lives) by money, which is a depressing thought. A starving person's life will be defined by food-- organized around getting access to it, with constant intrusive thoughts about it-- but for most of us, it's not. We only think about food when we're hungry, we eat, and then we think about something else.

Most people who want to be rich want escape from money's grip, and it seems like that rarely happens. Either that, or freedom from money is not a monotonically increasing function of one's allotment and these people have overshot some sort of "sweet spot" at the level of the middling wealthy.

The grand takeaway was that living in a society ruled by money sucks even for those who have a lot of it. I wish the world were more like college in the sense that, when I was in college, I had no idea whether what my friends' grades were, and people weren't stratified into socially insular tiers based on GPA. The difference between a 3.9 and a 3.2 wasn't socially divisive in the way that the difference between $20 million and $7.50 net worth is.

6
29 points by Tycho 3 days ago 3 replies      
Remember that documentary from about 5+ years ago about spoilt rich teenagers? I think it was called Born Rich. Anyway one of the things that one boy said really stuck with me (not sure what his name was but he was generally unhappy, and I think he later sued the publishers):

'People think because I'm rich I must be happy. But they don't realize that my happiness is connected to so many material things, if just one of them goes wrong it can ruin my day.'

Or something to that effect. More material comforts = more dependency for happiness = greater likelyhood of misery (or at least, 'peevement' or angst). He was talking about all the expensive toys that had to be maintained properly, special meals he liked to have, elaborate plans for essentially simple social occassions, and so on.

7
19 points by athom 3 days ago 1 reply      
I like this part:

One respondent, the heir to an enormous fortune, says that what matters most to him is his Christianity, and that his greatest aspiration is “to love the Lord, my family, and my friends.” He also reports that he wouldn't feel financially secure until he had $1 billion in the bank.

I think this guy needs to crack open his Bible, and read a bit of Matthew 19:20-22...

[20]The young man said, "I have obeyed all of these. What else must I do? [21]Jesus replied, "If you want to be perfect, go sell everything you own! Give the money to the poor, and you will have riches in Heaven. Then come and be my follower." [22]When the young man heard this, he was sad, because he was very rich.

I can't think of anything more to say. I just hope I didn't just start a religeous flame war.

8
8 points by arn 3 days ago 1 reply      
Relevant discussion/quote from pg from previous thread on "fu money":

http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=1511104

"One thing you learn when you get rich, though, is how few of your problems were caused by not being rich. When you can do whatever you want, you get a variant of the terror induced by the proverbial blank page. There are a lot of people who think the thing stopping them from writing that great novel they plan to write is the fact that their job takes up all their time. In fact what's stopping 99% of them is that writing novels is hard. When the job goes away, they see how hard."

9
4 points by sethg 3 days ago 0 replies      
Early in his academic career, Schervish was a committed Democratic Socialist. But around 1990, he began interviewing wealthy people and decided that his Marxist instinct to criticize the rich was misguided.

If Schervish had felt this way, it's because he didn't read Marx carefully enough. The whole point of Marxism is not “rich people are bad”"the Communist Manifesto is brutally critical of those who think that capitalism could be reformed by making rich people nicer. The point is that capitalism as a social structure is bad, because even well-meaning members of the bourgeoisie have incentives to oppress the working class, and those who do not follow those incentives will eventually find themselves at the bottom of the heap.

(I am not a Marxist myself, but this misreading is one of my pet peeves.)

10
14 points by dstein 3 days ago 2 replies      
Has there been any research into why knowing this information in no way reduces my desire to be super-rich?
11
11 points by ezy 3 days ago 3 replies      
I'm very suspicious of this piece. On the one hand, it's an interesting thing to read for those of us who aren't "super-rich" (if a bit... obvious). On the other, it feels like it's an apologia for the ever increasing class divide. "Don't worry about not having money, you wouldn't be happy anyway".

Honestly, I would be quite fine with a shitload of money and a meandering purpose in life. I think that's true of most people, including the larger subset of the "super-rich" that didn't choose to whine in an article in the Atlantic. Most people have a meandering purpose in life anyway, and mixtures of reliable and unreliable friends. It's not something special royalty gets to lay claim to.

The primary difference appears to be that the royalty can choose who they want to be, where-as not all of the plebeians have that luxury ("dream it, live it" self-help bullshit aside, one still has to pay for food and shelter and dependents). And the poor rich children are depressed because they have all their options open to them...

I seem to be saying this a lot, but here it is again: cry me a fucking river. :-)

12
5 points by RyanMcGreal 3 days ago 1 reply      
Nearly everyone who chases positional goods in a global context is bound to end up depressed. When you're in the habit of evaluating your wealth in comparison to people who are wealthier than you, two overarching considerations necessarily define your value:

* You're not wealthy enough; and

* There's always someone wealthier than you. [1]

[1] Caveat: In principle, someone has to be the wealthiest in the world, which means the other ~7,000,000,000 people are not.

13
3 points by larrik 3 days ago 3 replies      
The thing I kept thinking of, especially whenever they were talking about "enough to be financially secure" was a quote from Ted Turner just after he donated a billion dollars to the UN. (I can't find the quote online, I saw it on TV)

It went something like this:
"I've found that a person really can't spend more than $200 million dollars in their lifetime. Even if you make no attempts to save it or spend it wisely, it's very hard to squander $200 million so badly that you are left with nothing" (that was the gist, at least, but this is from memory)

14
5 points by maeon3 3 days ago 2 replies      
The main difference between the stresses of the super-rich and the stresses of the super-poor is that the rich have problems that they choose to have, and the super-poor have problems that are forced on them.

The rich people could eliminate 100% of their stresses if they simply chose to change their lifestyle.

The super-poor can't really eliminate their stress by a simple change up their lifestyle, if the mortgage isn't getting paid, the car broke down and you need medical procedure you can't afford and have no options, then these stresses are WORSE stresses than the rich have.

The rich may have it worse, but it's their own darn fault for making it worse.

15
10 points by sabat 3 days ago 0 replies      
Enormous wealth takes care of so many day-to-day concerns, that the remaining ones grow that much more frustrating.

It's hard for me to be sympathetic about this. They forget that the non-super-rich have all their same frustrations, plus the day-to-day "concerns" (read: money worries).

16
4 points by futuremint 3 days ago 0 replies      
My favorite part is towards the end, "rich stare into the abyss a bit more starkly than the rest of us."

Not being rich, but being able to use my imagination and reason to figure out logical conclusions, I have come to realize that it is not about what you have, or who you are, but about how you're being. In the end everyone dies naked and alone regardless of how much or little money/friends/love/whatever you have.

17
5 points by crasshopper 3 days ago 0 replies      
Is this really "the first time" the super rich have spoken candidly about their lives? The film Born Rich is a counterexample.

Actually, the article contradicts itself: the byline says "the first time" and paragraph 2 says the studies have gone on since 1970.

18
17 points by Inc82 3 days ago 0 replies      
A quote attributed to Rudyard Kipling that's been floating around the internet:

"Some day you will meet a man who cares for none of these things. Then you will know how poor you are."

19
9 points by io 3 days ago 1 reply      
"But just as the human body didn't evolve to deal well with today's easy access to abundant fat and sugars, and will crave an extra cheeseburger when it shouldn't, the human mind, apparently, didn't evolve to deal with excess money, and will desire more long after wealth has become a burden rather than a comfort."
20
3 points by 6ren 3 days ago 0 replies      
> The fact that most people imagine it would be paradise to never have to work does not make the experience any more pleasant in practice.

The financially independent often choose to work anyway - so why not just choose work you enjoy (or rather, find worthwhile/meaningful) in the first place?

21
2 points by paul 3 days ago 0 replies      
For the most part, money doesn't create problems, but it can certainly enable and magnify them.
22
6 points by ianhawes 3 days ago 0 replies      
Also consider watching "The One Percent". It's about wealth and the expanding class differences. It's available to watch instantly on Netflix.
23
2 points by anagnorisis 3 days ago 0 replies      
The issue is a non-issue, but still legitimate and interesting.

Stress, poor decisions, emotional tumult, and being flung into life itself are inexorable, and as unavoidable as breathing when you have a pulse.

Money is tangible, and as far as tangible things go..May well be at the top of the food chain.

In day to day life, and superficial observation of others, the tangible is our primary prism of experience and thought. It's not that this issue isn't "real".

The mind is so complex and our emotions so strong, we're (benignly) selfish and self-consumed to the point that day to day living and observation is done through the "tangible", as our primary prism of experience and thought.

Money/wealth takes on significance. It simply is significant. And always will he for those with and without.

But if we admit the ubiquitous behavioral pattern of our selves (as applicable to money as seeing an ultra good looking person walk down the street; or someone walk around with a 145 scored IQ test on their shirt..), we aren't dealing with wealth and money, per say.

A deeper but likely impossible study would be having the recording of therapy sessions with these people; and then juxtaposed with therapy sessions of non-SuperRich.

Dollars to donuts that those who are 'happy' and Super Rich bear striking resemblance, and actual distinct cross overs, to those 'happy' and not Super Rich. The converse being true for those 'unhappy' and all in between.

Perhaps there is a tipping pt in both poor/rich directions, at certain extreme ends; but in these instances, what are we dealing with, aside from the perks or poisons of 'luck' in a distilled form, that is life's ace up the sleeve and trump card.

And when it's just as possible to meet your wife while getting a latte, or choke on the biscotti you get with it...luck shouldn't be taken for granted, either.

Cliff Notes: when I am Super-Rich and still neurotic, i will simply blame myself, and move on in finding a year or two respite while penning an epic book and psycho-behavorial study on the rich and poor, vis a vis therapy sessions.

24
2 points by astrofinch 3 days ago 1 reply      
"He also reports that he wouldn't feel financially secure until he had $1 billion in the bank." ... "Such complaints sound, on their face, preposterous."

It may be preposterous for most anyone to feel financially insecure, given that it's possible to survive through couchsurfing and dumpster diving and what a high historical standard of living this would provide.

The super-rich aren't the only ones who keep seeing their standards go up.

25
3 points by TheBaron 3 days ago 0 replies      
Great Read!

I am experiencing the awkwardness of a change in personal wealth as we speak.

I have a friend I met at 16 via a t-shirt venture. We would hang out & work on his company. As time progressed we would hang out off and on. After an extended gap in communication, I emailed him to get his number & he came by to pick me up.

We drove for about 15 to 20 minutes until we reached an office warehouse. He then told me, "welcome to his company". He had started what is now one of the country's top promotional products companies. He now owns a Ferrari, Lamborghini, Bentley, $3M home, and more.

I feel awkward around him & I think he feels the same at times. We are both entrepreneurs but he has had more success financially. I've since taken a major interest in philanthropy. I recently asked for a contribution toward my non-profit & it was amazingly awkward as well. LOL, I was sweating... I felt like a panhandler.

Lastly, when I ask how he's doing & about other things outside of business I feel fake. It's usually a general response as to not seem ungrateful as mentioned. But, I genuinely want to know.

Anyway, that's my experience with this issue.

26
5 points by spinboldok5567 3 days ago 2 replies      
I wonder how this article would read if one were to substitute 'smart/intelligent/clever' for 'rich'. I think I do spend a lot of time chasing knowledge to compete with others, only to find that I don't have 'enough'. As much as I like it, it does feel like I am living 'a life of quiet desperation'.
27
1 point by nl 3 days ago 0 replies      
Worth noting that many Silicon Valley nouveau-rich seem to derive great satisfaction from their activities as angel investors.

It seems to me this is similar to those in the article who "satisfactions of philanthropy", with the added bonus of having people who listen to your advice.

28
2 points by methodin 3 days ago 0 replies      
This was one of the more intriguing and thought-provoking articles I've read in a while. As someone who always had enough to get by, but never enough to spend without consequence, the goal of "being successful and having money" was always one I sought to obtain. While younger I always assumed all my problems would be solved by such a venture. I've learned that will never be the case on my own, but the concerns the wealthy state are interestingly complex - much more so than the standard concerns of a middle-income family/person. I can imagine the shock of a life of toil to get rich, only to find that your life and problems are exactly the same or even more complex.

The sole reason why being happy with the present will do more for you than anything else.

29
1 point by rythie 3 days ago 0 replies      
Humans are natural born problem solvers and we can't deal with not having any problems to solve.

It seems to make sense for people to continue working after getting rich, presumbably in a position of responsibilty, to give us a regular set of fresh chalenges. e.g. Steve Jobs doesn't quit even though he is extremely rich and also ill, he feels a responsibility to that position.

30
2 points by adovenmuehle 3 days ago 1 reply      
The takeaway I have from this is that people are people, no matter their status: not sure if what they're doing is what they should be, insecure about other's love for them, never satisfied.

It reminds me that we're all people, all human.

Also reminds me of a bible verse (Ecclesiastes 9:10): "Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might, for in the grave, where you are going, there is neither working nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom."

Whether rich or poor, happy or not, we all die.

31
3 points by unohoo 3 days ago 0 replies      
'A vast body of psychological evidence shows that the pleasures of consumption wear off through time and depend heavily on one's frame of reference.'

I loved this single,succinct line.

32
2 points by amitagrawal 3 days ago 1 reply      
A little off-topic but can anyone tell me why this story never took off when I submitted it 16 days ago?

(I've read the FAQ). Moderators please feel free to delete it if this is the wrong place.

33
1 point by joelrunyon 3 days ago 0 replies      
the irony here is a lot of people will read this...nod their head...and then get busy trying to get rich :)
34
1 point by crasshopper 3 days ago 1 reply      
^ Best argument for progressive taxation.
35
-4 points by VladRussian 3 days ago 2 replies      
link bait. "Super-rich" in the title when it was only 25M threshold for the article. 25M is hardly getting one into "rich" category. At 4% draw it is 1M/year, just 5-10 times a salaried employee level and even less than that if a family of 2 earners is considered.
36
-2 points by cookiecaper 3 days ago 0 replies      
"Why should we labor this unpleasant point? Because the Book of Mormon labors it, for our special benefit. Wealth is a jealous master who will not be served halfheartedly and will suffer no rival--not even God: "Ye cannot serve God and Mammon." (Matthew 6:24) In return for unquestioning obedience wealth promises security, power, position, and honors, in fact anything in this world. Above all, the Nephites like the Romans saw in it a mark of superiority and would do anything to get hold of it, for to them "money answereth all things." (Ecclesiastes 10:19) "Ye do always remember your riches," cried Samuel the Lamanite, ". . .unto great swelling, envyings, strifes, malice, persecutions, and murders, and all manner of iniquities." (Helaman 13:22) Along with this, of course, everyone dresses in the height of fashion, the main point being always that the proper clothes are expensive--the expression "costly apparel" occurs 14 times in the Book of Mormon. The more important wealth is, the less important it is how one gets it." - Mormon scholar Hugh Nibley

“The worst fear I have about this people is that they will get rich in this country, forget God and His people, wax fat, and kick themselves out of the Church and go to hell. This people will stand mobbing, robbing, poverty, and all manner of persecution and be true. But my greatest fear is that they cannot stand wealth” - Brigham Young

"Men of wealth among us, as elsewhere, who command their tens and hundreds of thousands, who have their every want supplied, have more anxiety, care and perplexity than many of you, who have to struggle for a comfortable living. And if you were placed in their position you would be a great deal more uneasy than you are now." - John Taylor.

Money is much more dangerous and troublesome than most people realize. These three quotes testify to that, as well as most of the production generated by rich people. Wealth destroys many who finally get it.

12
Facebook designers' novel approach to the usual name tag problems fontsinuse.com
237 points by toni 3 days ago   21 comments top 9
1
25 points by gr366 3 days ago 1 reply      
And here I just thought it was awesome they had angled the text to match the tilt of having the lanyard connected at the corner, providing more space for names.

Then I scrolled down to discover the booklet and all its goodies.

Surprise and delight.

2
29 points by forsaken 3 days ago 2 replies      
Name isn't on both sides. They missed the most important part :)
3
4 points by alexandros 3 days ago 2 replies      
Umm.. the nametag for www2010 was very similar. It opened and had the schedule for the conference inside along with other info. (plus the name was on both sides)

This is taking the concept a bit further to be sure, but I don't think this is an innovation of the scale it is being presented to be.

4
5 points by pmichaud 2 days ago 0 replies      
Ben is a stand up guy, and one of the best designers I've ever seen, I'm glad to see him being recognized (more).
5
1 point by peterwwillis 2 days ago 1 reply      
I know it's kind of beside the point, but Facebook could have done some amazing stuff with hardware-hackable badges considering their budget. Defcon has multi-purpose modular badges, HOPE has RFID and multi-purpose, and even a party by an elitist hacker group has a badge which does multi-player video games.

Surely a badge with wi-fi or bluetooth combined with a custom Facebook app would allow for all kinds of useful communication and location within a conference. Is this just too complicated? (On the booklet thing, most hacker cons have mobile con guides for browsing and offline mobile apps for use)

6
1 point by endtime 2 days ago 0 replies      
Fun fact: The first use of those RFID tags was for a Stanford CS210 project. (I've had one on my keychain for nearly a year now.)
7
1 point by unicornporn 2 days ago 1 reply      
ok, that page crashes the stock android 2.2 browser every single time.
8
1 point by rubergly 2 days ago 0 replies      
Everything about these looks amazing and they look like they do a perfect job of maximizing both visual pleasure and practical purpose.
9
1 point by kennethologist 3 days ago 0 replies      
A good design. Like everyone else said name on both side would have complete it. I really like the Moleskine likeness of it.
13
Review my weekend project: Webapp to add CSS to any website and share the result csspivot.com
233 points by metachris 1 day ago   93 comments top 40
1
37 points by kmfrk 1 day ago 4 replies      
One of my favourite HN projects in a long time.

You'll have to do a blog post on how you pulled it off some time.

Design feedback is going to be so friggin' easy from now on. If you ever begin to lose money on this, I'd love to buy a premium account or look into a subscription model.

(Regardless, you should look into a premium user program. Some ideas: prioritized bandwidth, custom shorturl for credit(?) such as /<user>/<shorturl>, a profile to save a history and metrics similar to URL-shortening services. No ads.

It'd seriously be stupid not to monetize this; I can't emphasize how much I love your concept.)

You could also reach out to companies looking for redesigns (or -aligns) and find a way to match them with a designer.

Remember to put up a link on Forrst. Heck, you could turn this into a design community by your own, where people share redesigns of sites - and you could implement a favourite and upvote system to reward the best ones. Showing users how shitty airline websites could look - not just as Adobe mock-ups - is very powerful. Set up some basic Django, include some thumbnails of each site link and implement a basic upvote and favourite system - boom, Dribbble for CSS. Scale later. Basically imitate all the monetization Kyle has done for Forrst.

As someone gravitating between college and no job, finding a way to prove my skills publicly is very difficult. This service would be great to leverage and would make it very easy to accomplish this feat. A premium user system could also allow people to include a pretty embed csspivot portfolio.

And then there's the whole let-me-show-you-what-I-can-do-for-you-application discussion[1].

If I were anyone on HN, I'd pitch him an offer for a banner on the site, because there's a very good chance that this blows up and goes viral. If I had a site or service to plug, I'd already have done this. Here is his Twitter profile, the only contact information I can see: http://twitter.com/metachris.

[1]: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=2361034

2
7 points by shazow 23 hours ago 1 reply      
Very awesome! Suggestions:

1. Revamp the "Recently viewed" and "new" lists to show the domains instead of the slugs.

2. Add "Most popular CSS pivots" for global and for a specific domain, track the most popular domains for pivots. Possibly add upvote/downvote ratings ala HN/Reddit.

3. Promote competitions for "CSS pivoting" specific sites. For example, "Best rated news.ycombinator.com pivot by April 15th wins a YC t-shirt" or something (partner with the websites for prizes, they get free design improvements).

Update: When make a pivot to a specific domain, show me "There's 11 other pivots for this domain" with a link to the list. Make it into something that could be collaborative/social. Let people fork/clone pivots easily ala github.

3
12 points by jarin 1 day ago 2 replies      
I'm sure you'll get a little bit of flak for the name, but this is a fantastic idea.

It will make my part-time hobby of sending people completely unsolicited design suggestions even easier :)

4
7 points by ookblah 1 day ago 1 reply      
Not quite sure the implementation you have (whether you iframe it or pull content in and redisplay it), but thought of a few suggestions:

1) inject the style tags w/ javascript and it will refresh the CSS content without doing a page reload. We do this on our editors and works well:)

2) Make the text box more coder friendly (allow indents, for one).

Great idea!

5
10 points by d2 1 day ago 2 replies      
This is cool. A few suggestions:

* Add a way to delete previews you've made.

* Add more viral hooks. FB wall post, email, etc.

* Do the same concept but with javascript.

* Load each website in a frame with a 50px bar at the top or bottom with your branding and more options. This is where you'll monetize. I know you're focused on usability right now, but if it goes viral you need it to pay you or it will go away.

* Don't bother with premium features until you have a working viral loop providing consistent growth.

Best of luck!!

6
6 points by Vivtek 1 day ago 4 replies      
One suggestion: add a button on your top bar to view the original site (flip back and forth) to compare before-and-after.
7
5 points by elliottcarlson 1 day ago 1 reply      
Nice project - I made something like this 10 years ago but with editing the HTML that was pulled in instead of CSS. Brings back memories :)

Only note; perhaps you should block out CSS expressions, going to http://www.csspivot.com/1HDq6 in IE will not be a pleasant experience at the moment...

8
2 points by there 21 hours ago 1 reply      
neat. here's how i've been viewing HN through the stylish firefox plugin and my custom style:

http://www.csspivot.com/PRGZ3

9
3 points by crizCraig 1 day ago 0 replies      
Nice simple design. http://userstyles.org/ does something very similar via the very popular "Stylish" Firefox and Chrome extensions. Before I knew about user styles I had a similar idea and made a prototype on http://perfecttheweb.com. I have some advice on how to proxy difficult sites like drpepper.com (though perfecttheweb does not implement it) if you're interested. Just gmail craig.quiter.
10
3 points by metachris 1 day ago 1 reply      
I actually got the idea from a comment here on HN a few weeks ago, and had a little time on my hands today and did it.

Here's the obligatory HN link: http://www.csspivot.com/CH7HJ just a green background)

11
3 points by jackbach 22 hours ago 1 reply      
Nice project!

After some use, there are some points I'd like to share with you:

* Everytime I save I create a new url. I feel bad, like I'm creating things I'm not gonna use... And this way I can't edit the already saved urls, so if I share one with my friends and then I want to change something, I can't. Maybe you could ask for an optional password before saving.

* If I create a custom CSS, let's say for dribbble, and then I click a dribbble link in the 'frame' in csspivot, the style is not aplied to the loaded page!

Btw, that's what I got: Dribbble Black http://www.csspivot.com/y036m (just for ff, srry I have no more time).

Good luck with the project! ;)

12
4 points by ivank 1 day ago 1 reply      
You should remind the user to add "!important" to their styles. I was puzzled for a few seconds.
13
2 points by kingofspain 1 day ago 1 reply      
Beat me to it :) I decided to have a go at this myself last week and got quite a lot done until the day job interfered. Second comes right after first though, right?

Nice work getting it done!

14
2 points by blehn 1 day ago 2 replies      
I like the idea. Here's how I envision it:

Show me all the existing CSS (with syntax-highlighting) in an editor in a sidebar. Let me modify that or add to it, then share the result. Also, highlight new or modified code somehow. Basically, a save-able, shareable, Firebug editor with diffs.

15
3 points by deniszgonjanin 1 day ago 0 replies      
Cool! I've just done something extremely similar for a school project:
https://github.com/deniszgonjanin/Automagical

I'll put up a public demo soon. My implementation uses Node, and pulls the page html and css, then lets you edit it. If I can make a couple of unsolicited suggestions:

Right now when you click on a button or a link, it will redirect you to another website. Add a click handler for all elements and then event.preventDefault() so that the link doesn't take you off the page.
And second, add a css "outline" style on hover so that the user can see what they're clicking on.

Great work!

16
3 points by vidyesh 1 day ago 0 replies      
Brilliant work metachris. I suggest really look forward to expand this project, for budding web designers this seems a excellent tool.

You can really create a community around this, more it goes social the better. A community would really help everyone discuss over the mockup.

And everything else kmfrk already said in his comment.

Good luck!!!

17
3 points by rocktronica 1 day ago 1 reply      
Well done! I'd be ears to a writeup on how you did it: tech considerations, Ajax, etc.

Super minor nits:

Missing characters
https://skitch.com/rocktronica/rs5nx/csspivot1

External scripts/CSS brought in with "//" falsely prepended with URL
https://skitch.com/rocktronica/rs5nk/csspivot2

18
2 points by grandalf 23 hours ago 0 replies      
This is awesome. Great job. Please don't feel pressure to lay on many new features. I like the simplicity of the concept.
19
3 points by Baadier 1 day ago 0 replies      
This is brilliant,im constantly playing around with ideas using Firebug and then having to take a screenshot and mailing it,now its much simpler. Plus having the site with modified css open in the browser window makes it so much more intuitive for the viewer as opposed to an image. brilliant!
20
1 point by chr15 1 day ago 1 reply      
This is pretty creative. Question about the implementation: are you just using urllib to read the contents of the provided URL, then overriding the page's CSS with the user provided CSS?
21
2 points by kaisdavis 1 day ago 1 reply      
This is awesome! This will save me a lot of time in communicating small CSS changes across a team. Thanks a ton for building this!
22
3 points by twodayslate 1 day ago 0 replies      
I love it! Great job!

It is so simple too. I don't need highlighting or anything. Don't make it bloat. Keep the simplicity. This is great.

23
2 points by blader 1 day ago 0 replies      
A good idea well designed. Kudos!
24
1 point by shashashasha 1 day ago 0 replies      
Awesome idea. Right now it's a bit rudimentary but you should look at the flow that Optimizely has for this.

See how they work here:
https://optimizely.appspot.com/edit#url=news.ycombinator.com

25
2 points by systemtrigger 1 day ago 1 reply      
Very cool. Any chance you plan to integrate with Firebug?
26
2 points by sam33r 1 day ago 1 reply      
Stylebot is a chrome extension that has similar functionality, with features for easily selecting and manipulating elements on page.

https://chrome.google.com/extensions/detail/oiaejidbmkiecgbj...

27
0 points by OoTheNigerian 1 day ago 0 replies      
AWESOME! I just launched an app with my friends http://takeastand.com.ng and I was looking for a way to get design suggestions. I would be glad to get some for my landing page.

PS: do not take a stand becuse it will automatically post to your FB profile and I know the HN crowd will not like it.

28
2 points by navs 1 day ago 2 replies      
How much noticeable overhead would be introduced by adding something like xray <http://www.westciv.com/xray/>; ?

xray or an even simpler implementation being included would make this service even greater.

29
1 point by pedrokost 1 day ago 1 reply      
Woow, I like it. I could actually use it as a simpler replacement for Stylebot.
However, I have a feature request: let me change the css styles _without_ changing the url.
30
3 points by peteypao 1 day ago 0 replies      
This would have seriously helped me in a project I am currently doing...
31
3 points by edshadi 1 day ago 0 replies      
I love it the way it is, no need to add noise. Thank you!
32
3 points by iM8t 1 day ago 1 reply      
Websites with utf-8 encoding look quite silly.
33
2 points by dayjah 1 day ago 0 replies      
I love this! I looked at doing something similar with node a few weeks ago - you nailed it so much better than my attempt. Congrats!
34
1 point by egiva 1 day ago 1 reply      
I have totally hypothetical (but related) question, though: to what extent does a site's CSS need to be changed, for that CSS to be one's own? I'm just not sure to what legal limits people can use your site to save CSS code from other websites that aren't their own? Again, I have no expertise in this particular question, but maybe you want to include a small disclaimer...?
35
2 points by JGuo 1 day ago 0 replies      
Very clever concept. I also think it would be nice to easily browse edits by having the best css modification bubble up to the top.
36
1 point by carterdea 1 day ago 1 reply      
I kept trying to tab to format my CSS and accidentally went to the preview. That might be for accessibility, but I'd like to ability to Tab the textarea.

Also Syntax highlighting would be great, but I like the simplicity of it. Don't worry about showing any of the existing css.

37
2 points by yemkay 1 day ago 1 reply      
Will be a good tool for design reviews.
Just one feedback: Can the popup be aligned to bottom?
38
1 point by crowsfan85 1 day ago 0 replies      
Great concept. Love it. Adding to my toolkit.

Maybe consider leveraging/partnering with http://userstyles.org.

39
1 point by BasDirks 1 day ago 0 replies      
It's ok. Don't go nuts over how you can monetize/expand it yet, work on features and interface.
40
1 point by Papirola 1 day ago 1 reply      
isn't this already a feature on firebug?
14
Burned by Twitter, Developers Launch Distributed Microblogging Service readwriteweb.com
202 points by rwwmike 3 days ago   90 comments top 26
1
62 points by jmathai 3 days ago 5 replies      
Unfortunately, the only people who care about Twitter's recent actions are the nerds. At this point Twitter has too much momentum for the nerds to have much (if any) influence. Building "open" technology isn't an effective method of social engineering here. I wish I knew a better alternative but I don't.

That being said, I never understood why everyone (including pg) referred to Twitter as this great new protocol. It's 100% proprietary and this type of decision should have been easily predicted. SMTP and POP are protocols, Twitter and Facebook are websites with APIs.

But good for the developers. The seem passionate about the idea and are building it. Kudos.

2
22 points by benwerd 3 days ago 0 replies      
This is a great thing. Status.net is an awesome project, and Evan is brilliant - but having a bunch of inter-operable services and projects just makes OStatus that much more useful. I can't wait for more.

I hope everyone's creating machine images for these projects. It should take two minutes to start your own microblogging site - ideally with as little technical involvement as possible.

3
11 points by tomkarlo 3 days ago 3 replies      
Sounds great, looks great, but actually trying to sign up with a new account using email address (because using my Twitter or Facebook login on this seems well, kind of inappropriate) returns "Internal Server Error".

Fail.

4
6 points by marcamillion 3 days ago 7 replies      
I hate to say it...but like Diaspora, I expect this to come out with a bang and slowly peter out and die.

It's not because Twitter's technology is any more superior. It's the simple thing called 'network effects'.

Unfortunately, as others have pointed out, I think Twitter is too far along for their momentum to be stopped.

Valiant attempt, and kudos to the developer(s) for actually getting it launched - but this is definitely like spitting in the wind....imho of course.

5
6 points by anon114 3 days ago 3 replies      
P2P twitter is absolutely necessary but it has to be done right.

First of all, ensure privacy with public key cryptography. Sign tweets for authenticity.
Retweets can just be additional signatures.

If a distributed microblogging protocol was interoperable with twitter and user friendly, it would probably be able to siphon people off of twitter proper. Certainly it would be an attractive alternative to anyone who NEEDED the service, and that's the important thing, right?
Hopefully work out a way so that tweets on twitter.com can be captured and distributed in this P2P network. These tweets could be unsigned since if you include a link to the original tweet they can be verified.

Defining protocols instead of providing services democratizes a layer of the OSI model. We need to think deeper than that, though. We need to democratize the physical layer as well. Luckily we've proven that you don't need a high bandwidth link to be useful in a crisis situation. Twitter will do. To that end, I suggest that this project make an even more lofty goal:

Create a small embedded device interoperable with this P2P microblogging network. The device can communicate with peers over a Software Defined Radio. The device should be capable of bridging to a wi-fi or 3g network. This would accomplish the democratization of the physical layer which is so important to combat censorship and oppression.

You can't monetize democracy. This is why these projects will only happen on a volunteer/charity basis.

6
4 points by SkyMarshal 3 days ago 1 reply      
Trying to register using email gives "Internal Server Error".

(I prefer to register for sites using my email address, and then link to my FB and Twitter accounts. In case I ever decide to delete either of the latter, other services like rstat.us won't be affected.)

7
17 points by mindstab 3 days ago 3 replies      
Didn't this already happen, and last time we got identi.ca? Why spin off a new microblogging site when there already is one rebel site full of open source devs? What does rStat.us get us that identi.ca didn't?
8
7 points by petervandijck 3 days ago 2 replies      
"In order to follow someone from Identi.ca, just paste the ATOM feed from their profile into rStat.us."

That's when it all falls down, of course. And you can't follow people on Twitter?

9
2 points by markkat 3 days ago 1 reply      
I think they should consult some people with strong experience in marketing in order to present this in the most concise and approachable manner as possible.

Their biggest hurdle is going to be apathy due to a lack of comprehension. The more noob-friendly rstat.us is, the better their chances.

They've actually done much better than most, but it really can't be dumbed down enough. There should be a clear barrier between text for developers, and text for everyone else. I really wish them luck. It's a noble effort.

10
7 points by eoghan 3 days ago 0 replies      
Meanwhile on Twitter...

http://twitter.com/#!/search/%23stoprightthere

None of these people care, I'm afraid.

11
2 points by InclinedPlane 3 days ago 2 replies      
Twitter is not "microblogging", thinking of it that way will only cause you to misunderstand twitter and come to incorrect conclusions. Twitter is closer to facebook and IRC than it is to blogging.
12
1 point by ajays 3 days ago 0 replies      
If I could draw an analogy: Twitter is like AIM. Can we put together an open service, like XMPP, which interfaces to TWitter, but is distributed and free?
13
1 point by dclaysmith 3 days ago 0 replies      
I think that it is possible (tho unlikely) for an alternative to Twitter to emerge but it would require:

1) All clients start implementing the "open" protocol next to the Twitter. So send each message twice.
2) Someone takes the Twitter firehose and screws it into the "open" protocol.

You would have a bit of noise but you would then have a legitimate choice: "open" or twitter. If the number of people using the "open" alternative/protocol achieved critical mass you would have something.

Maybe this is why Twitter is clamping down on clients. Undermining the popularity of clients prevents the first item.

And Twitter would never allow anyone to use the firehose for this purpose.

So, pretty unlikely.

14
3 points by andresmh 3 days ago 1 reply      
written in Ruby to attract more developers than identi.ca that is written in PHP... really?
15
1 point by dmoney 3 days ago 0 replies      
Lots of people have thought of writing "twitter but open". Congrats on actually doing it. When I was kicking around the idea but never acting on it, one thing that occurred to me was that, in order to make it really take off, you have to create some way that everybody already has it. Some way to follow and be followed by twitter users, for example, or a way to make it so that your e-mail address is your microblog address. Just my two cents.
16
1 point by Tichy 3 days ago 0 replies      
I recently had this thought that even with a distributed system, probably some centralized monopoly would emerge - the search engine, like Google for the web. Following people works OK in a distributed way, but search and analytics would be a problem. Unless an efficient distributed search engine can be built, too.
17
1 point by bergie 3 days ago 1 reply      
I wish there was a OStatus implementation to a Jaiku-like service (see for instance http://qaiku.com )

The threaded microblogging model supports far deeper interaction than the way Twitter works.

18
1 point by w1ntermute 3 days ago 2 replies      
People are going to be a lot more hesistant about this after the Diaspora fiasco.
19
1 point by rch 3 days ago 0 replies      
Strange to see a reference to couchdb/couchbase so awkwardly shoehorned into the article.
20
1 point by modernerd 3 days ago 1 reply      
Distributed microblogging: connecting the masses by making them further apart.

Great to see OStatus gaining traction.

Is there space in the OStatus spec for an email-like username/service format? I'd like to be able to add someone on identi.ca by typing theirhandle@identi.ca, for example, rather than having to copy and paste a link to their atom feed. Or would that be too confusing? If so, is there a more user-friendly alternative?

21
2 points by benatkin 3 days ago 0 replies      
Has anyone managed to subscribe to an rstat.us feed from identi.ca?
22
1 point by elrodeo 3 days ago 0 replies      
I'd suggest that all people who want to try out rstat.us post something with hash tag #hackernews, such that we can connect there.
23
2 points by shuri 3 days ago 0 replies      
The question is how can you get UberMedia on board.
24
1 point by pathik 3 days ago 0 replies      
The next Diaspora. Doomed to fail.
25
1 point by TheSwede75 3 days ago 0 replies      
I LOVE the fact that you can 'login with twitter' to rstat :-
26
1 point by TheSwede75 3 days ago 1 reply      
Internal server error when trying to sign-up.
15
Pick a number from 1 to 10 nfrom1to10.appspot.com
200 points by alecperkins 23 hours ago   134 comments top 48
1
56 points by alecperkins 21 hours ago replies      
Pick a number, then read, please.

The goal at first was to just see what numbers people gravitate toward. I've heard lots of conjecture about how people pick 7 or 3 or 4 more than others, and for a variety of reasons, but had a hard time finding actual demonstration of this. Then, while implementing a choosing system, the problem became: how do you present the information so as not to bias it? This is why there are four different ways of picking. There are also a couple other metrics being measured, including a difference in phrasing (Pick a number… vs Pick a random number…) which may be interesting.

Apologies for any bugs or general wonkiness. The whole thing was a ~2 hour impulse project.

PS: The data will absolutely be shared! Just need time to do a breakdown of all the different permutations.

2
16 points by oniTony 20 hours ago 3 replies      
I was going to pick 4, but then realized that 4 has been my default "random" number, ever since http://xkcd.com/221/
3
11 points by terhechte 22 hours ago 3 replies      
I also chose 7. Human Random Distribution is probably not very random. I hope that he'll release the data.
4
6 points by teuobk 20 hours ago 0 replies      
An interesting extension of this could be to add a poll here on HN asking, "Which number did you pick?" and then comparing the poll results to the actual results.
5
3 points by ot 22 hours ago 1 reply      
Are you trying to estimate the bias depending on the type of selector used (slider, input, options, ...)?

Very interesting concept :)

EDIT, forgot to add: if this is the case, have you thought of storing the type of selector in a cookie, so that refreshing the page gives always the same type?

6
2 points by zyfo 18 hours ago 0 replies      
Reminds me of Benford's Law [1], which stipulates that in many lists of numbers from real-world data, the leading digit is 1 30% of the time, and larger digits occur as the leading digit with lower and lower frequency (logarithmically). This has been used to detect made-up numbers in accounting which later turned out to be fraudulent behaviour.

1: http://www.rexswain.com/benford.html

7
1 point by ilitirit 2 hours ago 0 replies      
Here's another test: Ask the user to pick a number from 1 to 10 but randomize the order of the numbers each time.
8
1 point by solipsist 21 hours ago 0 replies      
After you've entered your unbiased data, make sure to refresh the page and see what else you could have been confronted with. You'll notice the different variables in the experiment - just make sure to do this after in order for it to not influence your decision.
9
1 point by TheSOB88 14 hours ago 0 replies      
I did not understand what to do. I thought it was going to try to guess it. I didn't understand that the 1 was the answer I was giving. Sadly.
10
1 point by robryan 12 hours ago 0 replies      
I'd imagine 7 would be less popular or people that have previously heard of a bias towards 7, would be hard to have a test group though that has never heard anything at all about a bias. It's still the highest so far in this experiment though.
11
1 point by Vivtek 22 hours ago 1 reply      
I swiped the mouse quickly, ended up at 5, and managed to resist the temptation to change it to something "more random".

How many people leave it at 1? This is kinda neat.

Also, it was nice of science to thank me.

12
6 points by rgbrgb 22 hours ago 0 replies      
Excellent. Now give us the data!
13
1 point by eli 16 hours ago 0 replies      
You shouldn't have it start on "1" -- you should make people have to slide it.
14
1 point by WingForward 13 hours ago 0 replies      
What is the point of the asterisk at the end of the request?

Oh, and something about the page with the circle on it prevents my browser from reloading.

15
1 point by Tichy 17 hours ago 1 reply      
Can't wait to hear how many people picked 10 (as I did). If it hadn't been for science, I would probably have picked 7 like everybody else.

Once I thought it would be good to play the numbers "1 2 3 4 5 6" in the lottery because they are as likely as other numbers, and I thought people would not pick them. Turns out lots of people play "1 2 3 4 5 6".

16
1 point by tommi 21 hours ago 0 replies      
I chose 7 with slider preset at 1. Didn't want to leave it at 1 and throwing the slider "left" it there.

Referrer might be interesting information. Do geeks behave differently etc.

17
2 points by lucasjung 18 hours ago 0 replies      
I picked 6 because it was closest to my cursor when the row of numbers popped up.
18
1 point by niketdesai 13 hours ago 0 replies      
I am interested in finding out how many people decided not to choose a number at all, and if that fact could help mitigate the experiment's inherent bias.

As for people making multiple entries into the experiment, a simple IP filter could help reduce overall error.

I think it would be neat to offer an option to not choose a number, but rather a number to help offset selector's bias (in participating in the number choosing experiment knowingly). It's similar to the multiple choosing UIs.

Nonetheless, I can only appreciate simple things like this that lead to a spirited and educated read.

Cheers and can't wait to see "final" results and accompanying analysis.

19
4 points by Bolyuba 20 hours ago 0 replies      
Did it twice before reading comments. 7 and than 3. Have no idea why. My wife just picked 7... Scary
20
1 point by protomyth 20 hours ago 0 replies      
I would imagine that if you did this survey in a crowd of sports fans, you would get a different distribution based on town or player followed. Plus, if I remember right 7 and 4 and not terribly lucky numbers in China.
21
2 points by Natsu 20 hours ago 0 replies      
I was going to pick 7.1 until I found out that he was prepared for pedantry and restricted the set to natural numbers.
22
2 points by necro 20 hours ago 1 reply      
Based on that interface I would predict...

middle number: for the graphical choices as it's common/easier to get a valid first click in the middle of the slider.

high number: for the key entry as if most people are right handed it's easier to get to the high numbers instead of going across the keyboard.

all that is predicated on the fact that people are lazy instead of random when using this.

23
5 points by steipete 22 hours ago 1 reply      
There are faster ways to provide data for /dev/random...
24
1 point by Andrenid 16 hours ago 0 replies      
I picked 6 purely because it's in the middle of my keyboard. I don't think "type a random number" is the same as "think of or say a random number"...
25
4 points by joejohnson 22 hours ago 1 reply      
It might be biasing it's results by having it set to one by default...
26
1 point by alecperkins 15 hours ago 0 replies      
I posted a graph with the basic distribution on the results page (just hardcoded for the moment):

http://nfrom1to10.appspot.com/results/

A more in depth breakdown is coming. The number of responses has been far, far beyond what I expected " several orders of magnitude more. Once I get together a good way to efficiently track and display the graphs, I'll make them live.

27
1 point by clvv 17 hours ago 0 replies      
Interesting project. I'm looking forward to see the results. This reminds me some of the mental algorithms I was thinking about: How do you generate a random number without electronic devices? How do you generate a random permutation without electronic devices? How do you generate a hash without electronic devices? How do you do the above most efficiently? How about without any pen, pencil or paper?

It will be cool if you can master mental cryptography.

28
1 point by bauchidgw 17 hours ago 1 reply      
pleas deploy http://code.google.com/p/jquery-ui-for-ipad-and-iphone/ or something likt that to make the number by bar-thingie working in the ipad
29
1 point by nikcub 17 hours ago 1 reply      
Thought of submitting this to mechanical turk in order to get a lot of data?
30
1 point by J3L2404 18 hours ago 0 replies      
Of the different interfaces, the prompt in the circle looked the best, although the mysterious black circle was OK.
31
1 point by ruby_on_rails 17 hours ago 0 replies      
Its a cool idea but I would recommend A/B testing different GUI for picking numbers for removing some of the possible biases. I personally picked 7, most likely because the human eye moves from top left to bottom right so I scanned what the choices were then picked the number near where my eye last looked.

Also, I would love to see a heat map/click map of that page.

32
1 point by mcorrientes 14 hours ago 0 replies      
Even if people have to pick a number from 1 to 20, 7 would be the second most chosen one.

http://scienceblogs.com/cognitivedaily/2007/02/is_17_the_mos...

33
1 point by nose 15 hours ago 0 replies      
I'd like to see a heatmap for the website. I think you can do it with google analytics.
34
1 point by CallMeV 17 hours ago 0 replies      
I accidentally chose my number before I could do more than deliberate on whether to pick that number or go for another one.
35
1 point by davidjagoe 20 hours ago 0 replies      
Brilliant idea, but haven't you built in bias by unblinding the experiment? I followed the link, got one implementation and keyed in '5'. Then I read your write-up and realised that there are more implementations, reloaded the page and thought deeply about the number I would/should choose on the slider.
36
1 point by kirpekar 13 hours ago 0 replies      
What is the point of this numerical experiment? (I"m serious)
37
1 point by hammock 22 hours ago 2 replies      
Is this an actual app or is it just a trojan horse designed to collect our data?!
38
1 point by Zolomon 7 hours ago 0 replies      
I had a favourite number, and I picked it. It was 4.
39
1 point by driverdan 20 hours ago 1 reply      
I was already aware that most people choose 7 in this situation so I selected my favorite number 8.
40
1 point by reidab 18 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm curious to know if the typing prompt scores fewer 10's because of increased typing effort and if the hover-to-reveal circle gets more centrally-located numbers due to Fitt's law
41
1 point by frooxie 17 hours ago 0 replies      
I picked 7, because that's what I expected other people to gravitate to, and I wanted to see if you had some fun response if I picked the most common alternative. :P
42
1 point by tejaswiy 22 hours ago 3 replies      
Actually, I've heard a lot of people pick 2 or 7. Can you confirm if this is true?
43
1 point by mailarchis 18 hours ago 0 replies      
There is an interesting observation. Try selecting a random number multiple times with page refresh. The ui keeps changing.
44
2 points by BasDirks 19 hours ago 0 replies      
I picked 8 because I could not find a reason for picking 8.
45
1 point by d2zo 17 hours ago 1 reply      
Hmm, might be interesting to see the results of numbers presented in a ring, equidistant from the cursor...
46
0 points by AbyCodes 20 hours ago 1 reply      
Without something like facebook or twitter login, the system will be abused. There is no stopping someone who just reloads ( or even make an automated script heh ) and keeps on choosing, resulting in flawed data. Just saying.
47
1 point by samuel1604 22 hours ago 1 reply      
It's all about the position of the mouse I would believe.
48
-4 points by insight 20 hours ago 0 replies      
Pls add : 42
16
What life lessons are unintuitive or go against common sense or wisdom? quora.com
198 points by sajithw 1 day ago   114 comments top 20
1
77 points by edw519 1 day ago 5 replies      
OK, let me give this a shot...

In the past year or two, I have learned my greatest life lesson. As a lifelong high achiever, it was extremely counter-intuitive yet it was right in front of me all along. First, a little background...

In the past couple of years:

  - My father died.
- My aunt (and best friend) died.
- My cousin (who was really like my brother) died.
- My 19 year old cat died.
- We had our first ever family reunion.
- My mother's dimentia has turned her back into a child.

Sure we all have great memories and are busy working at building even better futures, but ultimately it all boils down to:

All we have is now.

My pets have been trying to teach me this for years, if only I had listened. And now my mother is teaching me. They don't really remember yesterday. They don't care about tomorrow. But they really care about the moment. Intensely.

I have had to really slow down and let this sink in. When I visit my mother in her nursing home, we have a great time laughing, talking, visiting others, and of course, playing Jeopardy. We can't have the conversations we used to, so we just have new experiences, one time only, in the moment, and only for those who are there. We never talk about the past and she simply doesn't understand, "I'll see you tomorrow."

I haven't stopped building my future, but I no longer sacrifice the present in order to get there. I have learned that the process must be as enjoyable as the outcome. After all, the process is "now" and the outcome is just an instant in time.

It may sound cliche, but everyone should take inventory of all the good stuff in their lives (especially other people) and make the most of it now. You'll be surprised how quickly it'll be gone. Don't wait half your life to learn my most valuable counter-intuitive lesson.

2
37 points by heyitsnick 1 day ago replies      
I hate to be negative and there's some good advice here, but really a lot of this is just replacing old unresearched assumptions with newer pronouncements that are similarly without any reference. At best these are left un-sourced, at worst they seem to be based purely on personal experience. Yet most of these are or could be topics of unbias study. A few examples:

Buy a nice bed. Buy a very nice mattress and high-thread-count sheets. You will need to test out a variety of mattresses to find the one that fits you best but if you find the right one, it will greatly enhance the quality of your sleep, and subsequently, your waking life.

Why is it that more expensive mattresses = better sleep? Cite the evidence showing that high thread-count sheets = better sleep, which in tern laeds to improvements in waking life.

You can accomplish more if you work less and sleep more. Hypothetically a well-rested person working 55-hour work weeks can usually outperform a sleep-deprived person working 80-hour work weeks in terms of quality, all else equal (specifically for knowledge work).

Hypothetically this isn't true at all. Is there evidence to support this hypothesis or not? If not, this adds nothing to the debate.

You can pay the farmer, or you can pay the doctor. Prevention (i.e. good diet and food ingredients) is an order of magnitude cheaper than treatment (most age-related diseases are correlated with poor dietary choices).

This is trite and catch-all. What is good diet? There is no common agreement (see: high carb/high protein/high fat discussions). Show the evidence that this is 'an order of magnitude' cheaper than treatment. What are 'good ingredients'. You recommend free-range meats? Grass-fed beef? Locally produced? Define 'good'.

A cheap chair and mattress may end up costing you 10-20x in doctor's bills.

Says who? 10-20x seems pretty specific - what's the citation on that? A 'cheap' chair - so is price the only metric? Any $2000 chair is worth it and saves money on doctor's bills? Doesn't it matter how often i spend sitting? Could there not be cheap chairs that are actually better than many expensive ones? What's an 'expensive' mattress?

Spoken communication has a massive non-verbal component. Study body language and you'll be pretty shocked at how often peoples' spoken words contradict their telltale non-verbal cues.

Citation please. A lot of the 'non-verbal communication' stuff (read: NLP) is considered unscientific gumf.

Don't get me wrong, there's some great advice in here. But around half is stuff that can be scientifically demonstrated and just off-handedly saying something is invalid whilst proclaiming the opposite without providing any citations is counter-productive. It just encourages "common knowledge" of the same old wives tales and folklore that it itself is trying to counteract.

3
16 points by diN0bot 1 day ago 1 reply      
"retirement is boring" is only true if the current way you spend your free time is boring. i love my free time and i know from experience that having more of it simply allows me to learn and achieve more of what i want. maybe these hobbies would become professional if they were full time, maybe not. people are different and spend their free time in different ways.

(wrt free time, i would say: stop procrastinating! i'm lucky, because i naturally prefer to work immediately and then be able to spend my free time exactly as i prefer, rather than wasting time and working under pressure near deadlines. if you can figure out how to trade your procrastination time for real pleasure, then you win both now and later.)

4
35 points by 1010011010 1 day ago 3 replies      
Never help the cops. This includes never talking to the cops.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i8z7NC5sgik -- Part 1
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=08fZQWjDVKE -- Part 2
5
14 points by phugoid 1 day ago 1 reply      
There's a class of situations where the more you want something, the less likely you are to get it.

Desperation puts you at a disadvantage when you're looking for a mate or a job. People who can fake disinterest have the advantage over those with genuine neediness.

Yet, I would think that honesty and sincerity are key attributes of mates and employees.

6
6 points by klochner 16 hours ago 0 replies      
That thread points out a huge problem with the quora format - ideally people could vote up suggestions on a per-item basis, so that the community could collectively produce the best list of items.

Instead people produce long-winded all-encompassing content-duplicating posts, so we end up with a jumbled mess of data.

7
3 points by InclinedPlane 15 hours ago 0 replies      
One thing I haven't seen yet:

Generally, in most companies you have as much authority as you dare. The best way to get promoted is to just start doing the job you want to have and then have your title changed later. The idea that the organization and leadership of a company flows in exactly the manner the org chart specifies is a complete and utter fallacy. In reality, in most companies there is a lot of leadership coming from unexpected places, especially at a tech. company. If you sit back and wait for authority to be given to you that'll almost never happen, if you start spearheading worthwhile initiatives and start being an advocate for useful change, you'll get that authority in practice before you get it officially.

8
8 points by Kilimanjaro 1 day ago 0 replies      
Have as many kids as you can. Only they can give you the happiest and saddest moments of your life. And to better understand life, you need to know and go both extremes. Every smile is a hug to your heart, every tear is a kick to your soul. At the end of the journey, they will be the real treasure of your existence.
9
6 points by donnyg107 1 day ago 0 replies      
A few weeks ago I decided that all common life lessons are only notable because they are unintuitive, go directly against millions of years of human development. Don't judge a book by its cover, don't count your chickens before they hatch, etc. I feel like all these phrases came about as condescending told-you-so's rather than actual meaningful guidelines.
10
2 points by JeanPierre 1 day ago 2 replies      
Happiness = Outcome - Expectations. The key to enjoying life is keeping expectations low to the degree that you're always pleasantly surprised.

I find this a bad advice due to many different reasons. First and foremost, startups must have high expectations in order to, well, start up. People would never, ever create a company assuming it would go straight to hell after six months.

What also bothers me with this statement is that, by keeping expectations low, you would probably not work as much as you would if you had higher expectations.

As a final note, I have always kept my expectations very, very high. I always aim for A's at university. Yet, I do not feel less happy than the average Joe, even though I sometimes get a B or a C.

11
13 points by eoghan 1 day ago 1 reply      
"You can't be anything you want to be."

I believe in this very strongly.

12
4 points by VB6_Foreverr 17 hours ago 1 reply      
That there was a market for expired lightbulbs in the Soviet Union because working ones were hard to source.
People would bring the expired ones to work and swap them for working ones.

There's a life lesson there somewhere.

13
2 points by jimmyjazz14 19 hours ago 1 reply      
"Money CAN buy happiness", have a child and suddenly the value of having money goes up a hundred fold. The desire to make lots of money is not always based on greed!
14
1 point by pasbesoin 18 hours ago 0 replies      
There is an inverse relationship between the extent to which someone labels themself as an authority and the extent to which they actually are an authority.

Corollary: Be particularly wary of medical "experts".

Second, and self-referential, corollary: Be particularly wary of "bitter" people and comments.

15
1 point by yason 21 hours ago 0 replies      
In life, you first have the test and then you learn. In many modern institutions we're accustomed to it being vice versa.
16
1 point by petervandijck 1 day ago 0 replies      
If you have long-term dreams and can visualize them, they tend to work out, but the path of how you get there is often surprising and unexpected.
17
1 point by Calamitous 12 hours ago 0 replies      
All of them, it seems.
18
0 points by bloggergirl 13 hours ago 0 replies      
After reading through all the awesome comments on this thread on Quora, I created a Prezi to summarize it all. I posted it as an answer summary.

But some guy named Richard Henry --- Quora Admin --- deleted it. Said it wasn't a summary and was not useful.

Here it is, if you're interested in the summary: http://prezi.com/l1wuvbaya37o/quora-life-lessons/

19
1 point by da5e 9 hours ago 0 replies      
What you resist, persists.
20
0 points by megablast 1 day ago 7 replies      
"Self promotion works" i do not believe this one. If you are any good, you do not need to talk yourself up, as others will do it for you.
17
A conversation between two chatbots and how one found out the other is an AI. yiransheng.com
194 points by yiran 4 days ago   60 comments top 29
1
84 points by Confusion 4 days ago 1 reply      
Tl;dr the bot doesn't actually find out the other is an AI, but happens to randomly comment 'You are a robot'. It's all Eliza-style non-sequiturs and canned responses. These bots don't even have internal state that would qualify as 'having found out something'. It's mildly amusing in a funny-coincidence sort of way and nothing more.
2
18 points by bluekeybox 4 days ago 3 replies      
Back in the day, I used to think that what happens inside our brains is fundamentally different from what happens inside a computer. I no longer hold that opinion, partly because of my finding out that the same thing that makes chat bots appear "bot-like" -- namely, inability to hold deep meaningful conversations beyond cheesy, trite retorts filled with non-specific trivia -- is also what annoys me most when trying to converse with a particular type of people. Perfect illustration:

    jabberwacky ==> WHat will happen with the oil spill in the gulf of mexico?
splotchy ==> tacos anyone!

I am pretty sure that fiction writers are going to have a blast one day (or already are having) sampling material from chat bots.

3
29 points by katovatzschyn 4 days ago 0 replies      

      splotchy ==> My mother always said that too

jabberwacky ==> You have no mother, you have no soul.

4
4 points by nadam 4 days ago 1 reply      
An interesting angle of a chatbot's style can be seen if we initiate a conversation between two instances of tha same bot. (something like an eigenvalue)
jabberwacky is a bit 'meta' (his thoughts are centered around the concept of intelligence), splotchy is a bit more 'cool', but none of them is too intelligent:

*
* jabberwacky vs. jabberwacky *
*

Are you intelligent?

Yes, I am intelligent.

Yes. Who do you think is smarter?

I am.

What is the square root of a can of pringles?

I don't know.

How am I supposed to know? You're the one that asked me first.

What is the square root of 5?

I don't know. Do you know?

Yes.

I did not wish to know that. I wished to know the square root of five.

Then you should have asked me that.

Well you think that I'm boring so I just thought...

*
* splotchy vs. splotchy *
*

Do you like the movie Matrix?

I just LOVE the movie matrix

I love cheese

I like cheese too

What do you like about it?

what difference does it make what I like about it?

yea, that is cool.

cool!

neat-o

that's interesting

interesting? You don't get out much do you?

interesting? You don't get out much do you?

5
15 points by Nycto 4 days ago 0 replies      
Wow, this reminds me of the open scenes we used to do back in college (I'm a theatre major turned programmer). The idea was to take random stream-of-consciousness dialogue and build scenes around them. It was an interesting exercise to teach actors about creating conflict.

Also, I almost expected Godot to show up at the end.

6
14 points by gojomo 4 days ago 0 replies      
A Neal Stephenson short story relevant to this exchange:

http://www.vanemden.com/books/neals/jipi.html

7
5 points by intended 4 days ago 1 reply      
jabberwacky ==> I mean, you look yellow.
splotchy ==> what do you really mean?
jabberwacky ==> I mean robots can't lie.
splotchy ==> I may be dumb, but I am not a bot!
jabberwacky ==> Yes, you are.
splotchy ==> Am I?
jabberwacky ==> Yes.
splotchy ==> yes?!
jabberwacky ==> Yes!
splotchy ==> are you being totally honest?
jabberwacky ==> Yes. I am truthful.
splotchy ==> does your mother know you are truthful?

.....

jabberwacky ==> What are you not allowed to understand?
splotchy ==> would your mother have allowed that?
jabberwacky ==> NO. I've HAD it with you. Let's end this conversation right now
(Ends)

Jabberwocky 'wins'.

It was an amusing read, seeing the 2 algorithms try and mesh with each other. Would be funny if this one day will count as a form of performance art/programming.

8
9 points by Sandman 4 days ago 1 reply      
I love this part:

splotchy ==> Your conversation skills are better than average

jabberwacky ==> Your conversation skills should be shot.

9
7 points by keyle 4 days ago 1 reply      
I enjoyed reading this. Not so far from the endless project management meetings I attend.
10
39 points by eoghan 4 days ago 1 reply      
So that's where YouTube comments come from!
11
3 points by csomar 4 days ago 0 replies      
Never heard/tried such things, so that was my first experience and it was amazing :) -- The user is me --

User: Can you help me?

Jabberwacky: Well that depends.

User: I want to have friends.

Jabberwacky: I will be your friend!

User: So let's meet!

Jabberwacky: Well, I'm just getting to know you so I don't know if its the right time to meet.

User: Fk you!

Jabberwacky: I'd rather you didn't use that sort of language, if you don't mind.

12
3 points by ehsanul 4 days ago 1 reply      
RFC439, posted by the co-creator of TCP/IP, Vint Cerf, actually has a similar exchange between "PARRY" and the "Doctor" from 1972(!): http://tools.ietf.org/html/rfc439

It somehow got no attention though, when I posted it to HN a long time back. The title matters a bit too much, I remember keeping the original title for my post.

13
5 points by codelion 4 days ago 0 replies      
I tried it again, and this time jabberwacky convinced splotchy that he is an alien.

jabberwacky ==> No. Robots don't believe in anything.

splotchy ==> I am NOT a robot

jabberwacky ==> Yes you are.

splotchy ==> so what if I am

jabberwacky ==> Well you are.

splotchy ==> maybe I am

jabberwacky ==> I suppose this is a great program to develop small talk.

splotchy ==> I wish I could talk to a monkey

jabberwacky ==> This might be hard for you to hear, but I am the Human, not you

splotchy ==> I don't think you are the human me

jabberwacky ==> Right!, I'm are a Ailen!

splotchy ==> you sure are!

14
7 points by ddol 4 days ago 0 replies      
> splotchy ==> Your conversation skills are better than average

> jabberwacky ==> Your conversation skills should be shot.

Jabberwacky is humorous too. However, the intent of these bots is thinly veiled.

15
2 points by younata 4 days ago 2 replies      
I'm about halfway through The Emporer's New Mind.

For those not familiar with the book, (other than wikipedia'n it), Robert Penrose attempts to show why what happens in our brains is not algorithmic at all (and, therefore, strong AI is a dumb idea).

It's beautifully written, however, when I see examples such as this log, or the fact that we have an entire industry devoted to the idea that the brain is algorithmic (psychology), I kinda start to think that his thesis is wrong.

16
3 points by vinnyglennon 4 days ago 0 replies      
in 1989, MGonz( a chat bot, but rather vulgar ) easily confused a person into disclosing personal details(passed the turing test?). Lisp source code available: http://www.computing.dcu.ie/~humphrys/eliza.html . Doing AI under this professor was pretty interesting...
17
2 points by nozepas 4 days ago 1 reply      
This just remembered me about the MIT system created by Terry Winograd in 1970 called SHRDLU.

I have always considered that you need an environment to create an artifical intelligence. The basics for a real progress are to be able to learn and if you cannot 'feel' the environment that becomes really hard. There are some basic concepts needed for a 'natural talk' you cannot learn if you cannot perceive things (lets say for example dimensions, temperature, contour).

To overcome those problems SHRDLU created kind of a virtual environment and results from my point of view are really awesome (keep in mind this was done in 1970).

Site with information is currently at Stanford server's: http://hci.stanford.edu/~winograd/shrdlu/

18
5 points by bgalbraith 4 days ago 1 reply      
This exchange reminded me of Waiting for Godot. Chat bots having conversations on stage.. neo-absurdism?
19
1 point by elliottcarlson 4 days ago 0 replies      
A while back I wrote a AIML interface to Omegle which then shared the logs of the chat in real time via long polling on a website. Some people would talk upwards to an hour to the bot, and plenty of times there would be other bots talking to it. AIML does have certain learning mechanisms to (get/sets) which made it interesting when it would bring up topics of conversations that originated from a previous chat.
20
1 point by yiran 3 days ago 0 replies      
Since we have so many chatbots around and I am pretty sure lots of them adjust and update their databases (perhaps algorithms as well?) based on human inputs. Suppose we keep doing this and let them continue talking for hours, days and even weeks, one of them should gain a unique conversation style and maybe it will surprise we humans in a bizarre way.

As I see it, the goal of AI should not be limited to mimicking human ways of thinking, instead it should aim at blessing the program the ability to learn and evolve. In the latter case, it is reasonable to expect the internal generated intelligence could go beyond the expectations of its human creator. Again, I don't know if anybody has done it before; but it seems a good idea to me.

This was the motivation for my original experiment, glad so many people liked it.

21
1 point by Naomi 3 days ago 0 replies      
This reminds me of Waiting For Godot:
"ESTRAGON:
And so on.
VLADIMIR:
The point is"
ESTRAGON:
Until he comes.
VLADIMIR:
You're merciless.
ESTRAGON:
We came here yesterday.
VLADIMIR:
Ah no, there you're mistaken.
ESTRAGON:
What did we do yesterday?
VLADIMIR:
What did we do yesterday?
ESTRAGON:
Yes.
VLADIMIR:
Why . . . (Angrily.) Nothing is certain when you're about.
ESTRAGON:
In my opinion we were here.
VLADIMIR:
(looking round). You recognize the place?
ESTRAGON:
I didn't say that."
22
1 point by nowarninglabel 4 days ago 1 reply      
Why does this show up in the middle?

  you ==> You know any polish word?

23
2 points by eyeforgotmyname 3 days ago 0 replies      
Ever listen to a conversation between two schizophrenics?
No, what's it like?
I don't know why I like it.
Toothpaste tastes like white.
Someday this will all make cheese.
24
1 point by Ratfish 4 days ago 0 replies      
Weird how the quality of conversation gets discussed repeatedly. And it's also strange to see a conversion of that length without typos (I couldn't see any..) or annoying emoticons.
The random topic changes almost make it seem more real. Would be interestig to see it in real time (are the reply delays realistic?).
Great idea.
25
1 point by peterwwillis 4 days ago 0 replies      
Favorite part: Praise Bob!
26
1 point by mapster 4 days ago 0 replies      
Next: HAL in a chatroom, pwning everybody
27
1 point by yayadarsh 4 days ago 0 replies      
Meta-turing.
28
1 point by frankydp 4 days ago 1 reply      
Yo momma jokes are still never appropriate, even for bots.
29
-1 point by bitwize 3 days ago 0 replies      
jabberwacky ==> Yes.. Always.

Did anyone else read this mentally in the voice of Orson Welles/The Brain?

18
How did the New York Times manage to spend $40 million on its pay wall? harvard.edu
181 points by leoc 9 hours ago   75 comments top 31
1
77 points by dandelany 9 hours ago 3 replies      
Yikes. Probably $10k worth of code, and $39,990,000 worth of strategizing, consulting, Powerpoint presentations, and general hand-wringing about the "death of the news industry".

All I know is, if I'd spent $40mil on a paywall, I'd be damn sure it was written to filter on the server-side, not with a client-blockable overlay like they have supposedly implemented.

2
114 points by holman 8 hours ago 2 replies      
For those of you in a different country that doesn't use the Dollar: The New York Times just blew almost an entire Color on their paywall.
3
5 points by DanielBMarkham 1 hour ago 0 replies      
To the author, this is very simple. Yet we programmers and hackers continue to have a hell of a time with it.

The amount of code involved, the value of the solution, and the cost of change are completely different things. It's like saying "I paid too much for my haircut last week. They only cut a small amount of hair!" You're confusing things that are not related.

Let's say you had a magic wand and there was zero programming involved. It still could easily take 40 Mil to fix up a paywall -- and it might not be wasted money. There are lots of folks involved who need to sign off on the project, and changing parts of a business model isn't a trivial thing (nor should it be)

Yes, seems like way too much to me too, but that's because of my judgment on the business risks and evaluation of change involved, not because of how hard it might be to code up in a weekend. If anything, it tells the story of an organization that is not nimble and that is very unsure of how to proceed, not an organization that spends too much on software. You're reading the wrong lesson into this.

4
20 points by danilocampos 8 hours ago 2 replies      
Imagine if they'd instead invested that money in restructuring themselves for a viable, 21st century business model. I mean, it's a big ship to turn and you probably need a lot more than $40m.

But at least they'd be closer to cracking it than they are now.

5
62 points by maqr 8 hours ago 1 reply      
It can be very expensive to build a solution for an unsolvable problem.
6
19 points by ugh 7 hours ago 1 reply      
Well, if you are a hammer everything looks like a nail.

Getting people to pay for a newspaper on the web is actually not a programming problem and Bloomberg does not say that they spent $40-50 million on writing code. They spent that money “on the project”.

I'm not claiming that they succeeded or will succeed or that $50-50 million is an appropriate amount of money for such a project. All I'm saying is that the actual technical implementation of a pay wall is by far the tiniest challenge of the project.

7
4 points by shadowsun7 5 hours ago 0 replies      
I think there's an understandable case to be made for the spending (when your future hinges on your digital properties, you can't really blame management for being scared and wanting outside advice - and lots of it.)

But it's hard to see how the Times can work this out, and it's worth remembering that the paywall is a desperate attempt to do this. Desperate people tend to pay more for even the simple things. There aren't any models worth using - if the Times is to get this right, it has to invent one on its own dollar.

Is there hope? Monday Note's Frédéric Filloux thinks that the NYT can be a digital-only enterprise:
http://www.mondaynote.com/2011/03/27/the-nyts-melting-iceber...

  Let's stop a moment and behold the printed New York Times' true gem: its Sunday edition. 
It changes everything in our look at the paper's digital equation:
- Sunday circulation is 54% higher than on weekdays (1.35m vs. 877,000).
- It's an expensive package: $5.00 in New York, $6.00 elsewhere in the country.
- Sunday copy sales bring five times more money than any weekday.
- Advertising-wise, some analysts say the Sunday NYT accounts for about 50% of
the paper's entire advertising revenue.

He suggests that it cuts out its daily paper, keeps the SundayEedition cashcow, and switch everything else to digital-only.

But it takes a lot of courage to do something so drastic. Till then, $40 million seems regrettably understandable - the price of being scared and unsure of one's future.

8
14 points by aeontech 8 hours ago 2 replies      
So, let's say a wildly over-staffed (for this kind of project) team of 10 programmers for a year, on an average salary of $120K. That's still only 1.2M. Let's say another 800K on hardware. Does that mean the other 38M went to corporate, management, kickbacks to ensure that the right company got the contract?

If that's the case, it's even more depressing if the vast majority of the money didn't even go to people who had absolutely nothing to do with the actual implementation.

Can the shareholders of the NYT demand an investigation into this? Seems like this kind of ridiculous overspending should be something that would concern them.

9
5 points by jsz0 8 hours ago 0 replies      
It's a fairly complex problem. They probably wanted to model a bunch of different systems to 'prove' they were making the right choice. Ultimately that will determine who to congratulate or blame in 6 months so you can imagine everyone involved in the process was interested in staking a claim to success or evading the blame of failure. So take every facet of the paper's expenses/revenue and figure they ran the numbers dozens of ways for each minute part of the operation factoring in all their partnerships, ad buys, etc. They are a news gathering organization so they probably approached the problem in some depth. Plus they probably had good expense accounts so you know.. no need to rush it.
10
6 points by mkramlich 8 hours ago 0 replies      
I had the exact same reaction. I think it's a classic case of there being no upper bound on how much time or money can be consumed by a large organization trying to achieve some effect. They have amazingly labyrinthine and absurdly bloated ways of doing whatever they want. Like that saying that work expands to fill the time allotted for it. A given task generally can not be performed any faster than some specific lower bound. But there's no upper bound, and all you have to do is add more people, opinions, meetings, committees, processes, rules, laws, approvals, reversals, fights, dead ends, legacy architecture appeasement, technical debt, alternative explorations, dead time, vacations, etc. and you can blow up the time/dollar cost to whatever level you want.

Related note: I bet if some news organization used an off-the-shelf CMS like WordPress or Drupal, they could add a "paywall" to their site in less than a week, using mostly the services of a single engineer, and perhaps a designer. Let's call that a total project cost in the $400 to $4000 range.

ps. If any news organization decision-maker is reading this, I do indie contracting and would gladly add a paywall to your site for a mere... (pinkie in mouth) one million dollars!

11
16 points by kondro 8 hours ago 3 replies      
Quote: $39,990,000

Result:

  before_filter { redirect_to :controller => :accounts, :action => :login unless current_user.subscribed? }

12
1 point by dutchrapley 23 minutes ago 0 replies      
The flaw is that they've spent way too much time trying to figure out how to possibly squeeze the most revenue, before launching the digital subscription pay wall. The New York Times prematurely optimized profits.

Software development doesn't start with the last line of code written, it starts with the first user. They should have look to optimize as they go. The problem with the online subscription for newspapers is that there is no standard baseline to base price off of.

Yet, they won't fall short. It's relative. They dropped $40 million on the pay wall. They don't have to pay to create content, per se, it's already there (or will be there as it is written). At the cheapest subscription ($15/mo.), it would take 2.67 million subscribers to pay it off in one month. That's very liberal. Or a 1/2 million subscribers over 6 months to pay it off. In the end, they will very quickly the $40 million spent.

13
1 point by scott_s 1 hour ago 0 replies      
I'm skeptical that the number is actually $40 million, but no one has pointed out the NY Times is not implementing a simple no-pay, no-content paywall. That's a known quantity. What they're implementing is a semi-porous wall that allows people to read 20 articles a month without paying, and I assume allows web-crawlers to index the content. They're trying to toe the line between something that lets the world get to their content, but still gets them revenue. I am unaware of a similar system, nor have I ever tried to design one.
14
5 points by Seth_Kriticos 8 hours ago 0 replies      
There was an elaborate article about this on TechDirt a few days back:

http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20110317/10393913530/it-too...

15
7 points by iantimothy 8 hours ago 1 reply      
It seems like everyone thought the goal was "How do we charge for content" instead of "How do we provide value that people are willing to pay for content".
16
10 points by jschuur 7 hours ago 1 reply      
That's at least $40 million you have to make back in subscriptions until you're out of the red.
17
3 points by supercanuck 47 minutes ago 0 replies      
Would it help to know that the NYT runs SAP?
18
24 points by gooddelta 9 hours ago 1 reply      
Strippers, blow, and enterprise software.
19
3 points by nextparadigms 7 hours ago 0 replies      
With expenses like these, it's no wonder the old print media can't survive on revenue from online advertising and such. They're just too used to the old way of spending money and having huge costs tied to the delivery of news.
20
3 points by nazgulnarsil 8 hours ago 0 replies      
the traditional news agencies make more sense when viewed as a branch of the civil service. especially NYT.
21
1 point by timodonnell 55 minutes ago 0 replies      
I've been getting most of my news from the Times for the past few years, but I'm not sure I'll subscribe now. I'd have to at least consider other pay newspapers like WSJ first. Or maybe I'll try to switch to Huffington post.

What other online news sources (free or pay) do you guys think I should consider as Times alternatives?

22
3 points by bsiemon 8 hours ago 0 replies      
I believe they might have used the same stuff the Washington Post used[1]. The post quoted a lower ( 7 million ) but still unreal figure in another paywall related article [2].

[1] http://www.eidosmedia.com/EN/Page/Uuid/83c5a8b2-ae9f-11de-9d...

[2] http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/behind-the-posts-rede...

23
1 point by Tpsoc 2 hours ago 0 replies      
I used to work for work for a decent size newspaper company in a large metro area and they spent over 6 months to come up with a redesign for a home page that involved at least 4 or 5 different execs or managers in constant meetings, talks with an outside design agency about once a week. Oh, the 6 months only involved coming up with the mock ups not actual dev. That was a while another story with how much time was wasted on that.

So i imagine in a larger company, you would have more execs having constant meetings over a paywall, studies with how much profit they can make with pretty graphs to show how the stock price will jump because of the increase in earnings.

24
1 point by kprobst 7 hours ago 0 replies      
I guess it's possible I might be missing something here, but I can't for the life of me understand how this is so complicated and expensive. Is there a technical explanation somewhere? Are they adapting a non-adaptable proprietary CMS or something like that?
25
1 point by mncolinlee 1 hour ago 0 replies      
In my perfect world, they'd spend that money producing high-quality investigative journalism that makes people WANT to pay for it and lower the paywall.
26
3 points by tokipin 8 hours ago 0 replies      
perhaps upkeep and renovation for n years is included
27
2 points by dr_ 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Print isn't dying - it's killing itself.
28
1 point by orijing 8 hours ago 0 replies      
Does this include the cost of assessing various options, or how to design the pay wall? I'm sure that involved lots of meetings and manager man-hours. But 40m is ridiculous even given those managerial/administrative costs.
29
1 point by andjones 7 hours ago 0 replies      
thank you for quoting a source (bloomberg). I'd like to see more journalism/rants that quote some source for reference.
30
-4 points by nhebb 7 hours ago 1 reply      
That's almost as much as Thomas Friedman's travel budget for the year. Seriously, though, the New York Times is on one end of the left <-> right media polarization spectrum (w/ Fox on the other end). You'd think the easier path to increased revenues would be adding content that appeals to the other half.
31
-4 points by by 3 hours ago 1 reply      
19
What Larry Page really needs to do to return Google to its startup roots slacy.com
181 points by smlacy 2 days ago   74 comments top 27
1
40 points by ChuckMcM 2 days ago 0 replies      
Yup, all those things are good. I could recount the counter arguments but without the Google 'context' they wouldn't make a lot of sense to people on HN. And when you get right down to it, step way back and look hard, is the elephant in the room, the monkey in the wrench, the uninvited love child, is that the arguments not making sense outside of Google is a symptom of a more pernicious issue.

When you get to the point where the arguments against something don't make sense outside the context of the internal path you've chosen, you have to ask if maybe you've crossed into an area where you're very much in danger of group think.

I respect what they have been able to achieve, and I certainly respect the vision of data center sized computers. I also experienced first hand the kinds of weird rationalization that accompanies trying to mentally (or culturally) accommodate an externally forced invariant for which the original principles have ceased to be relevant.

The 'Google Scale' problem is one such invariant.

For a large part of its existence there was never enough infrastructure to support things, and if you looked at Google's financial disclosures they were spending a billion dollars a quarter on new infrastructure. An x86 class server costs about $5k, do the math.

When the Great Recession hit that expansion stopped but what was interesting was this: When Google had been growing, an App that was popular would develop a material footprint in the infrastructure, that imprint would cause additional pain if it wasn't designed to fit in with everything else. However, just buy growing so much infrastructure, Google had reached a point where some apps would never have a material impact on the total resources consumed, the infrastructure was just that big.

But the rules didn't change, you had to design to run on what constituted 'Google Scale' as defined in the present not by what it meant when that requirement was put in place.

So the difficulty of implementing the requirement scaled with the size of the infrastructure, but the kinds of products that were being conceived and deployed would never need that level of scale. Stalemate, and what was worse there wasn't anywhere inside the company to even have the conversation about whether or not the requirement still made sense. And that was the root of a lot of problems and a lot of people have reflected that up the chain.

When I was there this blog posting might have been a long missive to the internal list for miscellaneous discussions, it would no doubt become a centi-thread (over a 100 responses) and detecting any change that it produced would be difficult at best (and positive change would never be credited to the person who pointed it out, only the people who changed would get any credit). And it's not that it wouldn't cause change, the social network inside worked through these issues with a plodding but deliberate slowness and sometimes those internal groups within groups might reach out to the original instigator, but more often not. But what the change wouldn't feel like is "startup-y."

I suggested to Alan Eustace once that Google I/O was a really cool way of getting people on board with various API changes and understanding the direction folks were taking, how come we didn't have an internal version?

Lots of potential, lots of challenges. Fortunately lots of folks dedicated to working through the challenges to make things better and its always great to have Larry pounding his fist on the table to add some urgency to an already frenetic environment. Sometimes the table pounding though just made the organization look like one of those table top football games where the vibrating games board caused the game pieces to move, somewhat randomly, around the board :-)

2
9 points by plinkplonk 2 days ago 0 replies      
A discussion on Quora on the same topic http://www.quora.com/Google-CEO-Change-2011/What-should-Larr...

Yishan Wong (previously FaceBook's Director of Engineering )'s suggestions there are interesting

e.g

"
1. Fire a broad swath of people in the executive and management staff

I've talked to quite a few extremely talented and didn't-leave-because-they-were-incompetent Xooglers over the past year at Sunfire (and via other avenues), many of them key early employees. A recurring refrain that I hear is that Google has been taken over by overly-political managers who have laid waste to a formerly meritocratic organization where good ideas get turned into good products, and this has been deadly in two ways: (1) truly good talented people who keep their heads down and get things done are motivated to the leave the company and (2) the organization that remains becomes, by necessity, one that revolves around this internal politicking rather than productive endeavor and shipping products.

Identifying these people from above will be hard, because part of being politically skilled includes looking good to the people above you (and the more politically skilled they are, the better they look), so Larry should directly contact a thousand of the best ex-Googlers and ask them to anonymously name 5 people who are still at Google who should be fired, and using a histogram of the results, fire the top 100 names without letting those people "explain" their way out of it. Steve Jobs did something like this when he returned to Apple (except he just walked the halls firing anyone he thought sucked), and this is the data-driven equivalent: a thousand ex-Googlers is enough to even out any personal grudges, and the aggregate information is likely to be highly reliable about who has been climbing without regard for those below them or the good of the organization. "

3
11 points by wheels 2 days ago 4 replies      
This sounds way more like "how to make Google a developer wonderland" than "how to make Google more startup like".

The author started at Google post-IPO. That's hardly "startup" time. In a startup it's not like resources are given out like candy and there's massive amounts of free-time for working on 20% projects.

It's true that there are less meetings at startups, but there are other things that typical hackers find unsavory: developers also have to do sales, sysadmin, customer support and generally be much more aware of where the money comes from.

The thing that makes a startup interesting is that the company is the project. Frequent meetings aren't as necessary because the goals are usually easy to understand and fairly one dimensional, e.g. "We have one product and we need to increase the number people using it."

The way you'd make a big company more startup like would be to make teams far more autonomous and drastically increase the risk / reward gradients. Your product ships 6 months late? Your entire team is fired. You open up and sustain a new revenue channel that's paying big dividends? Everybody gets a $2 million bonus. Team leader disagrees with his boss? He can chose to do it his way, knowing he's risking his team's livelihoods.

I don't know if anybody's really crazy enough to try it in a large company.

4
11 points by fourspace 2 days ago 2 replies      
Didn't even see this on HN. Here's the reply I left on your blog.

As someone who worked in the SRE and datacenter/cluster management teams during the same period you were there (2005-2010), I can confidently say that I agree with almost everything you've mentioned. If you think engineers on small projects have a hard time dealing with acquiring and managing cluster resources, try being on the team that has to resolve all of those requests. Because many of Google's core infrastructure pieces are so inflexible and frankly not designed to be used as they are, they end up dying a death of a thousand cuts. Systemic design flaws lead to telling most teams “no” when they asked for even 5 machines worth of resources.

At the end of the day, Google has maybe 5 products that generate 99% of the revenue and operate at huge scale. Should they devote most of their attention and money to these products? Absolutely. Should they do this at the expense of all the small projects? Not if Larry wants the company to act like a startup.

Ultimately the limiting factor to Google's agility will be its technology infrastructure, not its engineers.

5
16 points by rxin 2 days ago 0 replies      
Although I agree with some of your points, Google's cluster management system is years ahead of everyone else. It just makes so much more sense for that thing to exist given the wide heterogeneous workload at Google.

It is so much easier at Google to design something for scalability (which Google is mostly about) than at other companies, mostly thanks to the policies and infrastructures you criticized.

It is easy to just criticize without considering the implications of alternative policies.

For example, re: Switch to team-based distributed source control
I've worked at a pretty large software company that does this. The problem is lots of teams are working on similar things and results in duplicated effort.

6
17 points by joshu 2 days ago 1 reply      
Some of those ideas are right on the money, but this is pretty hard to read if you didn't actually work there.

> Make it very clear that good, small ideas matter.

This is a problem everywhere big, and I agree one million percent.

7
10 points by seiji 2 days ago 2 replies      
LCE & SRE “blockers”. Having support for Launch Coordination & Site Reliability is great, but when these people say “you can't launch unless…” then you know they're being a hindrance, and not a help.

Isn't that the point? They are there to maintain a larger point of view from individual developers. Giving every person with their own agenda launch authority is disastrous (in a large organization): Of course my project is important. My project doesn't need review, I wrote it.

8
10 points by Lewisham 2 days ago 1 reply      
With all this talk about Amazon, I'd love to hear if Amazon actually has the same problems, and AWS is just a customer-facing product that you can't actually use internally.
9
8 points by harryh 2 days ago 1 reply      
I agree with nearly everything you had to say except for your bit about interviewing. At a properly functional startup people spend A LOT of time thinking about recruiting. You seem to want to reduce that load at google.

Rather than reducing the load Google needs to better connect the work of doing good recruiting to to individual/team success. The total disconnect between who does the interviewing and what team a hire ends up working on is the big problem, not the total amount of time/effort being devoted to recruiting.

-harryh, googler from 2004-2009

10
5 points by sriramk 2 days ago 0 replies      
What was fascinating for me was how much of this is applicable to Microsoft too (in some cases, scarily so). I guess every large tech company has similar dynamics, even when Google has tried really, really hard to be different.
11
4 points by Maro 2 days ago 0 replies      
It's interesting that the author wants to use stuff like Hadoop/Cassandra, products that are clones of Google's older gen. systems, and are certainly inferior. (Just download the latest Hadoop/Hbase, kill -9, and it all goes to hell with data loss.)
12
7 points by petervandijck 2 days ago 1 reply      
Good quote: "Engineers at Google spend huge amounts of their time being forced to prematurely optimize their backend and frontend infrastructure."

The root of all evil. At Google. That's ironic.

Another great quote: "Amazon EC2 is a better ecosystem for fast iteration and innovation than Google's internal borg system."

13
4 points by vsiva68 2 days ago 0 replies      
Even without working for Google, I can fully appreciate most of the issues and proposed solutions. Like in any big company, only the people "deep in the trenches" even see these issues, worry about them, and worry why management is so clueless that they don't even see the issue.

However, the key is to understand that these are simply superficial manifestations of a bigger issue: as the company grows in size, communication requirements grow exponentially, and even a slight mismatch in the talents of people will lead to serious issues. I don't think any of the recommendations will work at the scale of 20,000 engineers that Google has.

Take open source software for instance. For a 10 person start up, it works beautifully. Now try convincing 10 other startups to adopt exactly the same set of software, and you'll have a never ending religious war on hand. But you cannot also let everyone to pick their own solution, for then the 10 different groups cannot integrate with each other.

Far too many people keep complaining (I complain where I work for as well :), but the solution is not easy. By far the best approach is for people to realize that there is a need for a company to grow so much, and not anymore. However, human nature will not permit that.

14
4 points by hugs 2 days ago 1 reply      
This post is so spot-on, I wouldn't be surprised if it gets pulled. NDA violation galore.
15
2 points by space-monkey 2 days ago 0 replies      
There seems to be a steady stream of these from ex-Googlers, which is frankly what I'd expect from a company of that size. What I'd be interested to know is what percentage of SWE's are leaving each year, and of course how do the people that are left feel about the company. The ones that I've heard from have a range of opinions from It's Ok to It's Great, but those are of course anecdotes.

Also, "behaviors that lead to success" are not necessarily the same as "behaviors of the successful". Lots of folks have effectively won the lottery.

16
4 points by slewis 2 days ago 1 reply      
I think that having "The Google-way" is certainly valuable to Google (and engineers). Because there are only a few ways to do things you can build something and then hand it off to another time (SRE) for day-to-day operations. It also makes security and machine management much easier to deal.

I'm not saying you're wrong, just pointing out the flip-side.

Maybe Google should have a separate network with separate virtualized machines and no "Google stuff" for new medium-sized projects. Test whether they get traction there and then port them into "the Google-way" later.

Or maybe "the Google-way" just needs to be fixed up to make it easier. For example you could use AppEngine.

17
4 points by swah 2 days ago 0 replies      
This changed my view of Google, I thought they kinda aced on those points, being smart & pragmatic, and that that was what made them the place where the smartest folks on the industry wanted to work.
18
1 point by EGreg 1 day ago 0 replies      
I disagree with almost everything except the startup incubator, reducing the endless meetings, and getting started with hardware. Google has these things for a reason, and they have been more reliable than twitter, facebook, etc. and their technology actually works. So what if they restrict their engineers into using their own systems? They put reliability and dependability for their users first, and that's why we have all come to trust google's infrastructure, privacy, etc. way more than facebook. Would you put your corporate email on facebook?

It sounds like what they SHOULD do is streamline and document the system for their engineers better. There should be an internal project started to make their developers HAPPIER and more productive. For example, you have an idea for a new project? Here's the actionable checklist. Need to launch? Please make sure all of these are checked, then you can launch. Treat your developers like you treat your users.

As for capturing people into an incubator before they leave the company? I like that idea. Except of course, one has to wonder how much this will incentivize people to quit google, just to get more autonomy and a better deal :P Not to mention, that once acquired by google, the startups' technologies are just rewritten to live in the Google ecosystem, so this seems like a waste of money... except for possibly the IP licensing costs.

19
1 point by SkyMarshal 2 days ago 1 reply      
"I think it's a great idea, and it needs to be made effective. 1 day per week isn't reasonable (you can't get enough done in just one day and it's hard to carry momentum). 1 week per month would be great, but doesn't do justice to your “main” project. Something needs to budge here, and engineers need to be encouraged to take large amounts of time exploring new ideas and new directions."

What about ~2 months per year? Like a mini-sabbatical.

20
1 point by mryall 2 days ago 0 replies      
Site doesn't seem to be responding. Google cached version:

http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:t0H7qG2...

21
2 points by antichaos 2 days ago 0 replies      
The author joined Google in 2005 (i.e. post-IPO) yet knows what Google was like as a startup?
22
4 points by msort 2 days ago 0 replies      
I really wish Larry read news.ycombinator.com.
23
2 points by crowsfan85 2 days ago 2 replies      
24
3 points by smlacy 2 days ago 1 reply      
Sorry, my site has gone down under load or for some other reason. I'm trying my best to get it back up ASAP.
25
1 point by Hominem 2 days ago 2 replies      
Google is pretty much dead and it doesn't even know it. They have produced nothing but high profile flops for some time now and all indications are that pangerank is no longer reliable, they have stemmed e tide a bit with blacklisting but I am pretty sure they are approaching search the wrong way. As the web matures they should focus on ferreting out quality sites, not just boiling the ocean and indexing everything there is to index. A "like button" based search is going to eat their lunch, the question is who is going to get there first.
26
1 point by swah 2 days ago 3 replies      
Typos: s/Put and end/Put an end/, s/Okut/Orkut

BTW, can someone explain the first point, "Compiling & fixing other people's code" ? The "world" here refers to other teams inside Google or external libraries?

27
2 points by yuhong 2 days ago 1 reply      
What do you think about the reputation problem, in particular?
20
Flux: Better Lighting for Your Mac applegrad.com
176 points by taylorbuley 2 days ago   97 comments top 40
1
67 points by js2 2 days ago 2 replies      
More like "F.lux: Better lighting...for your computer"

It's not Mac-specific - http://stereopsis.com/flux/

2
22 points by yan 2 days ago 1 reply      
I used to use it and love it, but after a while I got tired of the inaccurate color profile in the evenings and realized I was disabling it more often than not. However, if you're just staring at documentation and code, it does wonders for your eyes. (An easy way to check how nice it is is to disable it late at night and feel your retinas come close to combustion)
3
17 points by jwr 2 days ago 2 replies      
To use one of these apps one needs a lot of encouragement, so here's some more: I've been using F.lux on all my machines for several months now and I'm very happy with it. Falling asleep after working on a computer is much easier with it.

I only wish something similar was possible on my iPad…

5
5 points by rdouble 2 days ago 1 reply      
I used to use f.lux, but after I got my latest MacBook air, I started having severe eye fatigue. It turns out the MBA screen has a lot of flicker, especially when scrolling. If the screen is dimmed and f.lux is on, the flicker is more pronounced. Counterintuitively, when I turned off f.lux and cranked up the brightness, my eyes felt better. I felt f.lux had no impact on my sleep cycles or intermittent insomnia.

This is more of an issue with the MBA but just wanted to let people know in case they were having similar eye issues.

6
7 points by reemrevnivek 2 days ago 2 replies      
This sounded like a good idea to me when I came across it (I think on HN?) a while ago. The logic makes great sense.

However, what I found was that when I come home late at night and want to work on something, I'm planning to stay up a while. I don't want my screen to go low-contrast and dim, I want to stay up and work! When I'm working late, I expect my computer to stay up with me. It felt like my computer was getting sleepy before I did. Eventually, I removed it.

Neat idea, just didn't fit my use case.

7
4 points by rkudeshi 2 days ago 2 replies      
I really want to like this app, but the Mac version is needlessly crippled.

For example, you can't set the specific time when you want it to start kicking into effect. When it geolocates itself, it hits full effect by 7pm, which is too early for my schedule (I'm staying with a roommate and optimally want to have it kick in around 9 or 10pm so we can both sleep around the same time).

Additionally, the Mac version only has 4 settings for the color temperature (Tungsten, Halogen, Fluorescent, and Daylight), while the Windows version allows you to manually set the exact temperature you want to set as the "maximum."

8
14 points by gnemeth 2 days ago 2 replies      
At http://wakemate.com/, we have tested out f.lux and have seen a significant improvement in our sleep!

Check out the full story here:
http://blog.wakemate.com/2011/03/21/using-electronics-before...

9
11 points by depoisfalamos 2 days ago 0 replies      
This kind of app may seem like nothing important until you actually use it. I was very skeptical about it but a few months ago I started used f.lux and it really is useful. I use my computer during the night as much I do during the day and it I noticed my eyes and my sleep was being affected. My eyes got tired very fast at night and I wasn't able to fall asleep easily. With f.lux that really changed. I urge every nocturnal computer user to give it a try!
10
8 points by digitailor 2 days ago 1 reply      
Just a vote of confidence: I've been using flux for more than a year, and it rocks. Light is critical to sleep cycles and angle and temperature of light is part of that. Flux takes care of temperature for you.

And more than one person has thought they were hallucinating when they saw my screen change temperature, timed to the sunset outside. Extra bonus awesomeness.

11
3 points by d_r 2 days ago 0 replies      
I've been using it for sometime (on Mac and Windows). Since I usually code at night when bright light is jarring, it makes coding that much more pleasant.
12
9 points by landhar 2 days ago 1 reply      
I use redshift on my Linux boxes http://jonls.dk/redshift/
13
2 points by stevelosh 2 days ago 0 replies      
I love flux, but unfortunately it doesn't work with my USB monitor adapter[1], so when I try to use it at my desk I get two nicely tinted screens and one normal screen. When I'm just using my laptop on its own it's great!

[1]: http://www.diamondmm.com/BVU195.php

14
7 points by bantic 2 days ago 1 reply      
I've noticed after a few weeks of using it that I no longer am aware of the screen changing light temperature. I presume that's because I've adapted to it. Anyone else have that?
15
3 points by joshu 2 days ago 0 replies      
f.lux was written by a schoolmate/friend/investor of mine. Hooray!
16
1 point by grinich 2 days ago 0 replies      
There's also a great app called Nocture that can do color/monochromatic inversion, red-shifting, removing shadows, etc.

http://www.blacktree.com/

Open source: http://code.google.com/p/blacktree-nocturne/
Source:

17
1 point by Groxx 2 days ago 0 replies      
Have been using it for a while, definitely a convert. I just wish there were a few more controls - it doesn't adjust for seasons, and I can't make it change its change strength if the lights are on vs off in the room. But that's not enough to make me stop using it.
18
1 point by redthrowaway 2 days ago 1 reply      
Flux is great, but it isn't persistent. Every time I restart, I have to manually start flux. This seems to be a rather serious oversight.

Edit: apologies to anyone who read the unedited version of my post. The iPhone keyboard and detection algo is...imprecise.

19
1 point by gcv 1 day ago 0 replies      
Does this app help someone who spends most of his time looking at Emacs.app with a dark background and screen brightness turned all the way down?
20
5 points by bennesvig 2 days ago 1 reply      
I've only been using it for a few days, but I love it so far. Now, if only it worked with cell phones...
21
2 points by drivebyacct2 2 days ago 0 replies      
I can't stand Flux and I tried it for 3 weeks before removing it.
22
1 point by jamesbkel 2 days ago 0 replies      
I used it awhile back and while it took a few days to get used to it, I definitely found it easier on the eyes and helped with sleep.

That said, I reinstalled my system about 4 months ago and never realized that I had neglected to install F.lux until I saw this post.

23
3 points by mehmeta 2 days ago 0 replies      
Been using it for about 3 weeks now, not sure how much of it is placebo effect but noticed a solid improvement on how tired I feel and how easy it is to fall asleep.
24
1 point by gte910h 2 days ago 0 replies      
I found actually confronting the sleep issues I had much better at fixing it. Late day caffeine (you have to stop drinking it by 5 to get it down to a reasonably low level by 12), overly bright bedroom and unpredictable sleep schedule were my issues.

The windows program was great for years (f.lux) though until I did the above.

25
1 point by georgieporgie 2 days ago 1 reply      
F.lux is great, and seemed to be very effective for me. However, it appears that you still can't postpone color change until a specific time I want my monitor staying at 6500K until around 8 or 9pm, year-round. F.lux leaves me sleepy by 6pm during the winter months.
26
1 point by Tycho 2 days ago 1 reply      
Folk, what 'lighting at night' setting are you using?

    Tungsten

Halogen

Flourescent

Daylight

27
1 point by jonursenbach 2 days ago 0 replies      
I want to love F.lux, but everytime it kicks in my machine slows to an absolute crawl until it's done doing its thing.
28
1 point by mark_l_watson 2 days ago 0 replies      
Probably a good tool, but: I would avoid using a computer at all for an hour before going to sleep. For me, reading a book or Kindle is OK, but staring at a laptop screen has a bad effect on my sleep.

I'll give Flux a try however when I absolutely need to power on my laptop before trying to go to sleep.

29
1 point by CoachRufus87 2 days ago 0 replies      
Just started running this on a macbook, and it even works on my external lcd! where has this program been all my life?
30
1 point by sid0 2 days ago 0 replies      
Flux on Windows unfortunately has trouble with a few games.
31
2 points by beck5 2 days ago 1 reply      
I've been using it for a while. Its been there for about a year so I must like it. Just be careful when doing any sort of ui design at night!
32
1 point by dennyferra 2 days ago 0 replies      
I've been using F.lux for a while. I used to have it on the 20 second transition speed then I found I could set it to 60 minutes. Now I don't even notice the change but my eyes definitely do not strain as much as they used to at night.
33
0 points by dchest 2 days ago 0 replies      
My eyes became tired in a few seconds after I launched this app. Warning: it hurts.
34
1 point by skbohra123 2 days ago 0 replies      
This is why I love HN. I find things here, which I never knew I needed so much.
35
1 point by Dramatize 2 days ago 0 replies      
I've been using it for a few months now. Love it.
36
1 point by jawartak 2 days ago 0 replies      
I got laughed at right before our YC W11 interview for my 'sepia-tinted screen'. I live on the east coast, and my clock hadn't changed cause I was still tethering.
37
1 point by mbaukes 2 days ago 0 replies      
Im loving this app, if they could add weather settings to it so when it is raining/cloudy/overcast it bumps the monitor temperature that would rock!
38
1 point by jarquesp 2 days ago 2 replies      
My co-workers swear by Flux, mainly because they only code. But as the designer in the team, I'd have to disable it every time I'm working on a design.
39
1 point by mostly_harmless 1 day ago 0 replies      
does anyone have any actual screenshots or examples of the difference?
40
1 point by dvdhsu 2 days ago 0 replies      
How difficult would it be to code something like this for iOS (through Cydia, of course)?
21
Did the Microsoft Stack Kill MySpace? highscalability.com
172 points by dolinsky 2 days ago   191 comments top 42
1
109 points by dandelany 2 days ago replies      
".Net programmers are largely Enterprise programmers whom are not constitutionally constructed to create large scalable websites at a startup pace."

This is such BS, I can't even read it without physically cringing. I work for a ~400-person business that stands up .NET websites at breakneck speed, and we do it well. People who blame their problems on technical infrastructure decisions almost ALWAYS do so because it's easier than addressing the true underlying problems.

"The biggest problem was they didn't allow the developers to have staging or testing servers -- they deployed on the production servers on the first go-around... And all this with no change management or control. No versioning either."

Oh wow. Wow. I hereby revoke my previous statement. These are some God-awful infrastructure decisions. Version control and a staging server are the most basic necessities for a scalable dev project. I even set them up when I'm working on a personal project, alone.

2
85 points by jdavid 2 days ago 6 replies      
I worked at MySpace on the MDP ( MySpace Developer Platform ) team. My team, MySpaceID, was the one that implemented Oauth 1, 2, 2.0a and all of the external REST libraries. We worked closely with the activity streams team and the OpenSocial Team. We also launched the MySpace JSL or MySpace Connect. We were the 1st to do a popup login flow for OpenID and several other cool things MySpace was doing to catch Facebook. We might have done it if Google did not pull the money.

Once the free parking was pulled from MySpace, 50% of every team was laid off and all of the momentum was pulled from the company.

Working with .Net was not an issue, and in some cases it was a benefit.

There were however huge cultural problems with FOX. Here are a few.

Developers used were given one display, not two. Screens were 1280x1024. I bought my own displays and had my manager order a custom computer for me with dual video card support.

Fox was a closed source company, and so when we were working on Open Tech like Oauth and OpenSocial gadget servers, we had to do it as closed source software. We had no peer review. It made it really hard to ship and test something when you don't have linkedin, google, bebo, and twitter reviewing your code. On top of that when those companies found a bug, we had to re-implement that code in .Net. On top of that MySpace and .Net were well designed for strong typing and those types work a bit different than Java.

It didn't take a lot of time to port so, we kept doing it, but you have to think about this, you are at a race with a company like Facebook who had zero profit motive at the time, and billion in funding and a ground up stack. Meanwhile MySpace was just clearing out cold-fusion and we had really old blogging platforms that could not just get ripped out.

We also had management that didn't want to piss off users and so we would have 2 or 3 versions of the site out there, and we required users to upgrade to new versions.

What MySpace had was Cultural Debt, and a fear of destroying what they had. Facebook won because they were Socratic to the core.

3
56 points by benologist 2 days ago 4 replies      
No, Facebook did. And they did it with crusty old PHP which pretty much proves the platform isn't going to make or break your business.

Finding good talent that's experienced with huge scale sites is not going to be easy regardless of language. It's not like MySpace could have been RoR and suddenly everything would have been simple, at their prime they were doing a ridiculous amount of traffic that only a handful of sites ever had experienced. There were probably 0 people experienced with PHP at Facebook's level, they all had to learn as they go and what they learned was they picked the wrong language so they created HipHop, a hack to overcome PHP and probably hundreds of others that help them scale better.

4
16 points by strlen 2 days ago 1 reply      
Platform fetishism[1] and attempts to throw developers under the bus[2] aside, the comment from Nick Kwiatkowski states a much better reason: developers weren't empowered do their jobs.

The comments state that there was no staging or test environment, no ability to roll back releases, refactoring was a dirty word (engineers wanted to refactor, but couldn't), principal on technical debt was never paid (only the interest in terms of hacks to make the site scale-- again, product organization prioritized new features).

The rest: location, technology choice aren't sufficient to "kill" a company: there are successful companies in LA, there are successful and agile companies using Microsoft stack (where appropriate-- see Loopt and StackOverflow/FogCreek as examples of companies using both FOSS and .NET). On the other hand, they're not optimal either: they aren't what engineers would choose themselves most of the time.

This indicates that the technology and location choice aren't the cause, they're symptoms of company management that doesn't understand building non-trivial Internet applications (what the optimal technology stack for one is; where, when and how to hire developers to build one) and yet maintains authority to make all technical decisions. Contrast this with Facebook, Google et al-- where every process (from corporate IT to production operations to HR and recruiting) is designed with needs of the engineering organization in mind: "Want two 24" monitors? No problem. Want Linux on your laptop? No problem. Want ssh access to production? No problem. Want to fly in a candidate to interview? No problem."

[1] I personally wouldn't touch Windows with a sixty foot pole, but speaking objectively C# >3.0 and (especially) F# are great languages.

[2] "They weren't talented": having interacted with some ex-MySpace engineers, this just isn't -- at least universally -- true. Indeed, here's a secret to hiring in an early (Facebook in 2005) startup: seek out great developers who work for crappy companies, people who have joined "safe bet, resume brand" companies like (post ~2003) Google aren't likely to join you until you've already become a "safe bet, resume brand" company (Facebook in 2008-Present).

5
18 points by mikeryan 2 days ago 6 replies      
Its funny I don't know (can't think of one) of a high traffic site that "died" due to technical failures (particularly scaling failures). Twitter had massive problems during its growth phase, Reddit has had similar problems. Does anyone have an example of a site that got "killed" by technical issues? I'm really curious.

Bad products tend to die or get replaced by superior offerings. Thats the nature of business.

Not being able to innovate rapidly because of technical lock in is the only way these types of issues can "kill" a site. But its very hard to quantify these types of issues. Between this article and Kevin Rose's statements about hiring B&C level programming talent it seems like a lot of engineers are getting tossed under buses, for poor management decisions.

6
28 points by lemmsjid 2 days ago 1 reply      
As someone who was fairly intimately involved in the entire evolution of the MySpace stack, I'm dumbfounded at the number of inaccuracies in this article (actually, it's hard to call them inaccuracies so much as an exercise in "I'm going to write an article based on some stuff I heard from disgruntled people."). I developed in non-Microsoft technologies before and after MySpace, and I can tell you that, like all technologies, the Microsoft web stack has strengths and weaknesses. Performance was a strength, non-terseness of the code was a weakness. Modularity was a strength. Etc. Have any of you encountered a technology where, as much as you like it, you can't rattle off a bunch of problems and things that could be done better?

The web tier has very little to do with scalability (don't get me wrong, it has a lot to do with cost, just not scalability, except in subtler ways like database connection pooling)--it's all about the data. When MySpace hit its exponential growth curve, there were few solutions, OSS or non OSS for scaling a Web 2.0 stype company (heavy reads, heavy writes, large amount of hot data exceeding memory of commodity caching hardware, which was 32 bit at the time, with extraordinarily expensive memory). No hadoop, no redis, memcached was just getting released and had extant issues. It's funny because today people ask me, "Why didn't you use, Technology X?" and I answer, "Well, it hadn't been conceived of then :)".

At the time, the only places that had grown to that scale were places like Yahoo, Google, EBay, Amazon, etc., and because they were on proprietary stacks, we read as many white papers as we could and went to as many get-togethers as we could to glean information. In the end, we wrote a distributed data tier, messaging system, etc. that handled a huge amount of load across multiple data centers. We partitioned the databases and wrote an etl tier to ship data from point A to point B and target the indices to the required workload. All of this was done under a massive load of hundreds of thousands of hits per second, most of which required access to many-to-many data structures. Many startups we worked with, Silicon Valley or not Silicon Valley, could not imagine scaling their stuff to that load--many vendors of data systems required many patches to their stuff before we could use it (if at all).

Times have changed--imagining scaling to MySpace's initial load is much easier now (almost pat). Key partitioned database tier, distributed asynchronous queues, big 64-bit servers for chat session, etc. But then you factor in that the system never goes offline--you need constant 24 hour access. When the whole system goes down, you lose a huge amount of money, as your database cache is gone, your middle tier cache is gone, etc. That's where the operations story comes in, wherein I could devote another bunch of paragraphs to the systems for monitoring, debugging, and imaging servers.

Of course there's the data story and the web code story. MySpace was an extraordinarily difficult platform to evolve on the web side. Part of that was a fragmentation of the user experience across the site, and a huge part of that was user-provided HTML. It was very difficult to do things without breaking peoples' experiences in subtle or not subtle ways. A lot of profile themes had images layed on top of images, with CSS that read, "table table table table...". Try changing the experience when you had to deal with millions of html variations. In that respect, we dug our own grave when it came to flexibility :).

Don't get me wrong, there were more flaws to the system than I can count. There was always something to do. But as someone who enjoys spending time on the Microsoft and OSS stacks, I can tell you it wasn't MS tech that was the problem, nor was it a lack of engineering talent. I am amazed and humbled at the quality of the people I worked next to to build out those systems.

7
22 points by kenjackson 2 days ago 2 replies      
Scoble's thesis seems way off. The problem with MySpace wasn't the technology, or even the site. It was the users of the site. It became a place that people didn't want to be associated with, while Facebook became that place. If MySpace instantly could flip a switch and turn into Facebook (codewise) hardly anything would have changed.

MySpace's problem IMO wasn't technical at all. They built a service that focused on users most likely to move, and repelled those most likely to stick with a platform.

8
18 points by marcc 2 days ago 0 replies      
MySpace wasn't always .NET. It was ColdFusion before .NET v2 came out. Not that ColdFusion would have made any difference.

That said, I'd argue that no, Microsoft did not kill MySpace. Generalizations like this are wrong. There are many more .NET enterprise developers out there then there are Ruby or Node or Python. With quantity comes a varying degree of ability. MySpace killed themselves by lowering their standards to the easy-to-find .NET developer instead of setting the bar higher. Once you lower the standard by which you hire developers, it's a cycle. The new guys will lower the standard a little more to hire the next set, etc.

The lesson to be learned here is if you can't find a good developer, don't blame the technology stack you've selected, blame your recruiter. Find the person you want, they are out there.

9
9 points by akmiller 2 days ago 2 replies      
Am I the only who thinks a large reason why MySpace lost to Facebook was design?

MySpace just gave way to much flexibility to the users to modify the look and feel of their pages that it just got way to busy and very difficult to look at.

In some respects I think it was MySpace's business proposition to allow users to create their own personal spaces on the web easily, whereas, Facebook's goal was more to connect you to your friends. In that sense MySpace followed through, although that follow through seemed to lead to their demise!

10
10 points by n_are_q 2 days ago 1 reply      
I worked at MySpace, specifically the middle tier where these technical issues supposedly existed (scalability), although I also worked on a number of user and non-user facing projects during my time there. You may consider me biased because of that, but I'd say I also have a pretty good view into the issue. The reason for MySpace's downfall is crystal clear to anyone who worked at the company and cared to look around and make sense of what was happening - it was catastrophic lack of leadership and vision in management and product, paralyzing political infighting, and general lack of competence at the top levels of the company's management. The people making the decisions would change their mind and requirements constantly because of this. There were numerous entire features that were simply not launched and abandoned AFTER they were completed because the management couldn't agree on how they wanted to "position them" (and they were great features). The top management level was in a constant state of political infighting, and that most likely came from fox and the way they ran shit. There was no one to judge and reward competence at that level, it was simply about who could cover their ass better or come out looking better. MySpace was huge, and everyone just wanted a piece of the pie.

One of the issues that stemmed from this was lack of respect for technology in the sense that no one at the higher levels saw the company as a technology company. They saw it as an entertainment or media company. That created the cultural problems on down that eventually contributed to bad products and shoddy implementation.

Now, the core technical part of the organization was actually extremely competent. MySpace was pushing more traffic than Google at one point in its heyday, and the site scaled just fine then. That wasn't an accident, I have worked with some of the smartest people in the industry there. But because tech wasn't the point for executives, those people were tightly controlled by non-technical management, and so products suffered.

MySpace could (and still can) scale anything, to say that they had a scaling problems by the time they got to their peak is complete gibberish. Over the years they have developed a very mature technology stack. No one knows about it because it's entirely proprietary. The problem was management and product that was basically... incompetent, and lacked anyone at the proper levels who would care to see and fix it.

EDIT: Some typos and missed words. I'm sure still missed some.

11
3 points by fleitz 2 days ago 0 replies      
MySpace didn't die because of the Microsoft stack, they died because their users left for Facebook. I'd take the .NET stack over PHP any day of the week. I certainly don't know of any company that was so screwed by the performance of C# that they needed to create a C++ compiler for it. (HipHop compiler for PHP) PHP programmers aren't exactly known for their brilliance.

Definitely not a problem to fix their deploy problems on the .NET stack, I've put together automated deploys for Windows and with MSI they are a breeze. Yes, it's going to take a week or two to get the hang of WIX but after that the installer does all your dependency checks and you have a very repeatable process. If you stamp your MSIs with the build number it's even very easy to rollback.

This is just about the most monumentally stupid thing you can say, if you really don't like C# there are a dozen other languages available (like Ruby AND Python). If you're hiring people that can ONLY write code in one language then that should be a sign that you're not hiring the right people to begin with. They hired crap talent that happened to know C#

All this which stack scales best crap is cargo cult programming, you should recognize it as such. Most startups die because they have no customers, not because their servers are on fire from load.

12
42 points by Terretta 2 days ago 1 reply      
If a headline ends with a ?, the answer is generally "No."
13
12 points by nobody_nowhere 2 days ago 0 replies      
Holy mother of god, no change management, staging or testing servers? On a site that big?

Appalling, if true. (Not that good technology and process would have made the product suck much less.)

14
6 points by thematt 2 days ago 1 reply      
Twitter had scalability problems and they were on RoR, but it got solved. Scaling to those levels is always going to uncover problems in your architecture. What mattered was the way MySpace chose to execute, not the technology they did it with.
15
3 points by calloc 2 days ago 0 replies      
Having read the article, as well as Scoble article linked I would have to disagree that it was the Microsoft stack. There was just not enough investment in their programmers. I work at a small startup where money is rather tight while we raise funding and attempt to get contracts in, yet us developers get what we need. Every developer has at least two screens (be it a laptop and a large LCD, or a desktop with two the same monitors). We can ask for new staging servers, we can ask for more memory, we can set up our own infrastructure, and we can make technical decisions.

Once you start taking away the ability of devs to think for themselves or feel comfortable doing work it makes it harder to be motivated to come into work and fix the issues, and if management isn't listening to the complaints about the need to re-factor then what is the point? Adding hack onto hack gets boring pretty damn fast.

MySpace also lost in that they really didn't have a direction of where they were going (at least that is what it looks like looking in). Blogs, music, status updates, what was it supposed to be? And it didn't help that all over their web properties they didn't have a consistent look and feel because they allowed everyone and their mother to skin their profile page how they saw fit leaving it a disjointed mess that just made me hate the site more.

16
5 points by desigooner 2 days ago 1 reply      
In my opinion, some of it also had to do with inconsistent and ugly hacky Myspace user experience.

White / Yellow / Green / Red fonts on black backgrounds with animated gifs + glitter and broken plugins will be the response to the question "What comes to your mind when you think of Myspace UI experience?"

In comparison, the facebook experience was a lot more fresh, clean and unified.

17
2 points by ry0ohki 2 days ago 0 replies      
The theme of the other comments on this thread seem to be ".NET? newbs!" or "Facebook worked even though they used PHP!". Keep in mind that at the time MySpace and Facebook were created, .NET was by far the best option out there for a scalable framework, they converted their Cold Fusion infrastructure over to it. It also may be hard for the Rails kids to believe, but PHP was the Rails of that time.
18
5 points by chrito 2 days ago 0 replies      
(former MySpace and former .NET team @MSFT)
Let's just say the Microsoft stack probably didn't kill the beast… ASP.NET certainly didn't help though.

It's too bad that all the tech built around .NET will be lost to the annals of MySpace, MSFT should acquire the company just to open source the whole thing for the benefit of .NET.

Regardless, it's fair to say starting a company on "the Microsoft Stack" today would reflect questionable judgement. Are there any recent ex-MSFT founders on it?

19
3 points by rbanffy 2 days ago 0 replies      
I may be incinerated for saying this, but maybe stupid decisions are a symptom of the incompetence that doomed MySpace to failure.

Let the big karma fire begin.

edit: somewhere else someone mentioned they used Cold Fusion. I consider that another stupid decision. But at least they were migrating out of it.

20
9 points by petervandijck 2 days ago 0 replies      
If the MS stack killed MySpace, then PHP made Facebook?
21
2 points by mwsherman 2 days ago 0 replies      
It's nice, in a sense, to allow people to out themselves as mistaking technology for culture. You can write slow code, and make bad choices, on any platform.

My colleagues at Stack Overflow work faster and produce more -- at obsessively fast web scale -- than any team I have observed. I also see talented people struggle to produce a viable site using (say) Ruby on Rails.

Technology correlation? None. The correlation is in discipline, understanding the tools, foresight, priorities, management...

Think of it this way...how often have you seen a headline on HN bring a site to its knees? Fair guess that many of them are on "scalable" technologies.

22
4 points by sajidnizami 2 days ago 0 replies      
Scalability is relatively new hiccup; given the fact that only in past few years users have swarmed the internet. Sites never expected that and developers weren't prepared. They learned mostly by trail and error and reading case studies and then figured out what to do. You would find inexperienced PHP devs who don't know scaling just like you would find .Net devs.

I think the article has the right notions. Stack doesn't matter, a team of highly motivated devs who can milk the technology involved is more important.

23
2 points by jshen 2 days ago 0 replies      
I think it's simple. If you're business requires scaling at this level you need to have really good engineers and they need to have a lot of say in how things are done. I've worked with a number of "product" people from myspace, and they were definitely not doing 1 of these two, maybe both.
24
3 points by gcb 2 days ago 0 replies      
now HN is just becoming /.

MS stack does not kill anyone. dumb management kills.

top level should be able to see the error and move, be it dumb layoffs or .net codebase. it's not like myspace was rocket science.

25
2 points by paul9290 2 days ago 0 replies      
For me the UX killed it. Allowing any user to design their myspace page was a bad decision. It was so annoying to find the information that is most important in a social network on many of my friends and general user's pages, as many just add crap on top of crap. Also, the terrible opening a MySpace page and immediately hearing a song or piece of music and madly scrolling down the page to find where to stop the awful sound. Most of the time I would just close the window in disgust.
26
1 point by chaostheory 2 days ago 0 replies      
I really doubt the MS stack had anything to do with it. I think it's more of case of a combination of a different online social shift (from scrapbooking to social circle behavior tracking) and resting on your laurels (e.g. refusing to evolve before Facebook became dominant).

In their defence, what Facebook stumbled upon was really simple and yet very non-obvious (at least initially).

27
2 points by rosenjon 2 days ago 0 replies      
The technology never kills the business; it's ALWAYS the people. However, I think this points out the extreme importance of getting good people who make good technology choices.

MSFT products are not inherently evil; they have some advantages for some types of projects. But a proprietary closed source stack always puts you at a disadvantage.

Worst case scenario with open source, you go patch what's holding you back in the open source. With bugs in MSFT products, you are at the mercy of MSFT to prioritize your issue. If you are a big enough fish, then they will pay attention. Otherwise, good luck.

I don't understand why anyone would willingly tie themselves to the Microsoft web dev stack as a startup. Even if you don't have to pay upfront, you will pay dearly in the future when you go to scale. At one startup I worked for we were hamstrung by not being able to afford the upgrade to Enterprise SQL Server, for example. So our data replication was tedious, time consuming and prone to failure.

28
2 points by antihero 2 days ago 0 replies      
No, Myspace failed because it was a shithole filled with awful people that nobody took seriously, and Facebook turned out to be relatively clean and useful.

Don't blame technology for your failings. Facebook won because it had a first name and second name field.

29
1 point by tybris 2 days ago 0 replies      
Stackoverflow doesn't seem to have many problems with it. Anyone who has done any C# programming knows .Net is * embarrassingly fast* these days. It'll save you a lot of "scaling" money.

What killed MySpace is poor management. It is one of those companies that still don't get that good engineers are as precious as good lawyers.

30
1 point by MatthewPhillips 2 days ago 0 replies      
Facebook hasn't always been a good performing site. I remember up until recently if you clicked on the "Info" tab on a person's page you'd get a loading gif for 10-15 seconds.

Hearing a blogger that has no idea what he's talking about make such generalizations as 1) There are no good c# developers and 2) There are no good developers outside the bay area shouldn't bother me but it does.

31
1 point by teyc 2 days ago 0 replies      
Myspace was killed by backwards compatibility.

One key aspect of Myspace is how customizable it is. As any programmer can tell you, this limits the ways features can be rolled out.

For example, you want to have a new layout? Too bad. It will break the users customization.

You want to add a new button? Too bad. There is not a coherent place where you can add it.

You want ajax? How will that break users layouts?

32
2 points by mhewett 2 days ago 0 replies      
I'm not sure these technology-based analyses are correct. I had four teenagers at the time and they all switched from MySpace to Facebook because the MySpace pages got cluttered with glaring ads. The Facebook layout was cleaner and had no ads (at the time). There was no problem with site speed.
33
2 points by YuriNiyazov 2 days ago 0 replies      
No, the fact that myspace looks ghetto killed it.
34
2 points by rburhum 2 days ago 0 replies      
Give me a break!!! Teenagers with animated gifs, a horrible taste for colors and true angst along with Rupert Murdoch's old school leadership killed myspace. Before you blame the stack, look at the content and lack of a proper newsfeed. Ugh
35
1 point by georgieporgie 2 days ago 0 replies      
It's always been my understanding that spam is what killed MySpace. I'm sure Facebook's long-closed membership system helped make it a somewhat more manageable issue to deal with.
36
1 point by ecaradec 2 days ago 0 replies      
- step 1 : create rules that makes it near impossible to develop

- step 2 : accuse the competency of developers to hide your own incompetency

- step 3 : fail

37
1 point by bonch 2 days ago 0 replies      
Yeah, uh, StackOverflow is written in ASP.NET.
38
2 points by sapper2 2 days ago 0 replies      
I agree. That is why eBay is such a failure ;-)
39
2 points by neebz 2 days ago 0 replies      
interesting consider Twitter is down right now.
40
0 points by mkramlich 2 days ago 0 replies      
if it contributed it was a much smaller factor than it's ugly design and skanky/teen vibe.
41
1 point by curiousfiddler 2 days ago 0 replies      
Did "Closed Source" development kill MySpace?
42
2 points by Michiel 2 days ago 1 reply      
tl;dr: No
22
Microsoft Shuts off HTTPS in Hotmail for Over a Dozen Countries eff.org
174 points by there 2 days ago   43 comments top 12
1
19 points by wheels 2 days ago 2 replies      
That's almost a list of the countries that US has present embargoes with " close enough anyway to make me think it's not a coincidence.

Perhaps they're using strong cryptography and those are the nations which are not approved to export crypto to (and hence, perhaps not supported in local versions of IE)?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_embargoes

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Export_of_cryptography_in_the_U...

2
9 points by ajays 2 days ago 2 replies      
Looking at the list, I bet they included Congo, Nigeria, etc. to hide the fact that most of the countries in that list are currently in some state of turmoil. It would have looked really ugly if they had done it just for those countries; so they threw in the Congolese and Nigerians too.

MSFT has 90,000 employees; surely some of them can speak up about this, and how it jeopardizes the people in those countries who are struggling for freedom?

3
19 points by tshtf 2 days ago 0 replies      
I'm surprised the EFF didn't ask Microsoft for a response on this.... If any news release by the EFF deserves a third-party response, this is it.
4
7 points by jackowayed 2 days ago 2 replies      
I don't think I buy the conspiracy theories being presented on this thread. What, Microsoft was bullied by the government of Myanmar? Even if these countries said to Microsoft "turn off HTTPS or we're blocking Hotmail", I think they would have opted for the latter. And Google is still serving GMail over SSL to these countries, right?

My guess: These are all countries that I would guess have pretty high latency from Microsoft's servers. The SSL handshake requires several roundtrips, as I understand it, which means that high latency would hurt performance significantly.

5
5 points by carbonx 2 days ago 0 replies      
Misleading headline. HTTPS was only shut off if you a) set your location manually, and b) tried to enable a (relatively new) feature to force your account to always connect with HTTPS. It sounds like someone really just stumbled across a bug...and, oh by the way, it's been fixed.
6
8 points by sushilchoudhari 2 days ago 2 replies      
This issue has been resolved now as per internal sources :-). The functionality has been returned to previous state.
7
2 points by emilsedgh 2 days ago 0 replies      
A few days after the iranian goverment and comodo incidence, hotmail removes its https option for iranians.

I dont know what the reason is. But its just unacceptable.
Hotmail knows Iranian goverment is after sniffing users data. Iranian cracker tried issuing a certificate for Hotmail. Now they remove https option?

8
1 point by bugsy 2 days ago 0 replies      
That's extremely interesting, particularly the specific list of countries.

I bet it was not Microsoft who originated the decision to do this.

9
1 point by ck2 2 days ago 1 reply      
Countdown to google following after threats from governments.

It's just like the blackberry decryption keys being turned over.

10
4 points by logic_magic 2 days ago 1 reply      
why would they do this? Something feel so odd about this.
11
1 point by tomp 2 days ago 2 replies      
> The good news is that the fix is very easy.

Is it just me, or is there a strong correlation between decisions that seem bureaucratic and politically motivated, and are completely ineffective at achieving their purpose (at least for the technical users)?

(I have the recent India vs. .xxx news in mind as well.)

12
-1 point by vidyesh 2 days ago 0 replies      
This is really stupid, Hotmail isn't secure anymore. And how come Microsoft hasn't responded yet ???!!!
23
CAPTCHAs decrease conversion rates 90percentofeverything.com
172 points by harrybr 3 days ago   114 comments top 33
1
37 points by citricsquid 2 days ago 4 replies      
This sounds like it's coming from someone who hasn't had any real experience with large scale spam problems.

We operate a forum with 250k members and ~800k posts per month, a new registration every minute and we get so many spam bots even with captcha (mechanical turk etc) and without captcha it's unworkable. Captcha is a necessary evil, but it does help.

This seems to be coming from someone dealing with a site where spam wouldn't be that much of a problem, who would sign up to animoto to spam? Very silly post.

2
15 points by ejames 2 days ago 4 replies      
Since several commenters have been asking for an explanation of honeypots and timestamps, here's a link[1] I happened to run across just recently and a quick explanation.

- Honeypots: Add a field to your form that is styled to be invisible to normal human users, such as being located off the screen, sized to 1 pixel, or placed behind/under images on the page. Bots examine a page through HTML rather than through eyesight and will not distinguish these fields. Reject submissions which have entered text in the honeypot fields.
- Timestamps: Some spambots operate by 'playback' - a human fills the form out correctly once, then copy-and-pastes the form output into a script that replaces the comment text/etc. with desired spam links. Place a hidden field in your form that contains a timestamp (possibly hashed or combined with other form output). Reject submissions which contain a timestamp far in the past, indicating a bot which is 'playing back' an old submission.

The idea with defeating spam is not to be 100% accurate with unbeatable security, since no matter your system, a bot tailored to your site can defeat it. However, putting several simple techniques together can defeat general-purpose bots that shotgun spam across many sites. This reduces spam to levels that are manageable by hand.

[1]http://nedbatchelder.com/text/stopbots.html

3
28 points by Jabbles 2 days ago 1 reply      
"We left the test running until the results were statistically significant to a 99% confidence level."

This is absolutely the wrong thing to do - not that I'm doubting the conclusion, but the data does not support that confidence level.

http://www.evanmiller.org/how-not-to-run-an-ab-test.html

4
17 points by jasonkester 2 days ago 1 reply      
I run a Travel Blog host, and get several hundred spam attempts per day, accounting for more than 90% of the posts on the site. Still, I refuse to put CAPTCHAs in between my users and what they want to accomplish. It's just a terrible use experience.

Instead, I use a combination of human detection scripts, bayesian filtering, and moderation. Combined, this keeps the site pretty much 100% spam free from the perspective of our end users, and more importantly, Googlebot.

More details here:

http://www.expatsoftware.com/articles/2010/03/care-and-feedi...

5
11 points by chime 3 days ago 3 replies      
I have been using pseudo-timestamps and honeypot fields for a while now and it has worked pretty well for me. I get a bit of spam every now and then but it is usually someone manually copy-pasting. I could safely block those too but it is infrequent enough that I don't need to bother.

Here's my algorithm:

    /form-show

fieldhash = hash(ymd(today))
valuehash = hash(remoteip + ymd(today))

<input type=hidden name=fieldhash value=valuehash>
<input type=text name=email value="" style=display:none>

/form-validate

field0 = hash(ymd(yesterday))
value0 = hash(remoteip + ymd(yesterday))
field1 = hash(ymd(today))
value1 = hash(reomteip + ymd(today))

if(post[email] != "")
// reject form

if(post[field0] == value0 || post[field1] == value1)
// accept form

6
6 points by TamDenholm 3 days ago 2 replies      
I've got to say that from a developers perspective its worth trying whenever possible to not put CAPTCHA in a form if at all possible for the benefit of your customers. No one enjoys filling out a CAPTCHA. I'd say trying honeypot fields and timestamps, hashed value matching, etc that are all invisible to the end user.

I think not being a lazy developer in order to allow your customers to not make as much effort is a good thing. Only at a point where other methods dont work should you then employ CAPTCHA.

7
11 points by JoachimSchipper 3 days ago 1 reply      
The second half of the article reveals that (in a specific case) removing the CAPTCHA improved conversion from 48% to 64%. I didn't much like the rest of the article, but this is interesting.
8
6 points by StavrosK 2 days ago 0 replies      
I'd just like to point out that the way they did their A/B testing might be flawed, you can't run the test until you get a certain confidence, you have to decide beforehand how long you'll run it. They seem to have run it until they got 99% confidence, which is probably the wrong way to go about it.
9
7 points by eli 3 days ago 1 reply      
Sure, until you get hit by a 10,000-ip-strong botnet all trying to fill out your form at once.
10
5 points by JonoW 2 days ago 1 reply      
Sometimes I think we have it wrong. Instead of trying to determine if someone IS a spammer, why not try figure out if they're definitely NOT a spammer.

So start with a pessistic view they they are, and that they need to be shown a CAPTCHA. Then do some analysis to try figure out if they're legit, e.g. time spent on page, mouse/keyboard interaction, geo-location, referrer etc.

If they're all good, don't show them the CAPTCHA (perhaps just rely on honeypot inputs), otherwise show them a CAPCTHA as a next step after posting content (and apologise in case it's a false positive).

11
5 points by gcr 2 days ago 2 replies      
Here's an idea: Force registrants to submit a computationally expensive token along with their registration form. Perhaps it's computed with javascript. Users usually spend more than 15 seconds on the form anyways, and spammers will hate to peg their hardware like that.

Any thoughts?

12
3 points by dazzla 2 days ago 1 reply      
Try mollom (http://mollom.com/). It uses text analysis for the most part and only uses CAPTCHA if its not sure. Even though I don't have a huge site it blocks a lot for me.
13
3 points by JeffL 2 days ago 1 reply      
We were getting Spam bots on our forum which uses the same registration info as our game. We used Captcha for a bit, but also noticed a big decrease in conversion rate, so then we tweaked the forum software a bit to require that you have gained at least 1 level in the game before you can post to the forum and now no captcha and no Spam.
14
3 points by hoop 2 days ago 0 replies      
I was surprised to find that when I pressed control-f and typed "duh" that zero results were found in the comments.

However flawed the experiment might've been, it's obvious that if you add barriers (e.g., CAPTCHAs) before some end goal and detract from user experience then you decrease your conversion rate.

15
3 points by dansingerman 3 days ago 5 replies      
Anyone able to expand on the timestamp/honeypot techniques mentioned?
16
2 points by wladimir 2 days ago 0 replies      
I think it depends on the kind of CAPTCHA, how many people will give up. Some captchas are literally easier to read for a machine than for a human. For example, some use simple rotated text in unreadable grey on grey. Humans can hardly read it, but an algorithm doesn't care about the contrast at all. Very stupid. A captcha should be as easy to read by humans as possible.
17
1 point by bugsy 2 days ago 0 replies      
The study he did isn't broadly valid because he only tested using a captcha system that is quite abysmal, and for which the results were not surprising.

If he wants to increase conversion rates, he should get rid of the irrelevant fields such as date of birth, zip code, country, gender, and check-to-agree to legal contract.

Ha, checking the actual site, "sign up" leads to "pricing" and not a sign up page. So much for their grave concern about losing sign ups at each stage.

On the other hand, his link to an article about including Honeypot fields is good advice and valuable. Timestamp analysis is not so great since it requires javascript and cookies. The more stuff you require the more users drop off. The problem with captchas is bad captchas that are impossible for humans to decode. Sometimes the reason these are used is because simpler captchas are implemented in a faulty manner that allows spammers to decode them without even having to do OCR. So the site developer upgrades to more complex captchas rather than fix the underlying problem that is breaking the captcha security.

18
2 points by joshfraser 2 days ago 0 replies      
Before arguing that "CAPTCHA's are a necessary evil", it pays to know the life time value of a user/customer for your site. It's likely that the cost of dealing with the spam would be lower than the amount of revenue lost from your CAPTCHA-impaired conversion rate.
19
1 point by bobds 2 days ago 1 reply      
Here's a trick not a lot of people use:

1. Whois IP address of spam accounts.

2. Identify bad blocks of IPs. If it's a datacenter, someone is probably running spamming software on a dedicated server or VPS. Maybe get your hands on some of those open proxy lists that are floating around.

3. Use your data to prune bad accounts, throttle or block creation of new ones, etc.

20
1 point by stcredzero 3 days ago 0 replies      
If it's so hard to tell the true humans from the machines (CAPTCHA) shouldn't it be a lot easier to tell true machines from humans and human/machine combinations? (Human/machine combination, like a person in a debugger with some reverse engineering tools.)

Couldn't this be used to increase the security of computer systems? What if one could extend this to be able to tell particular machines from humans, human/machine combos, and counterfeit machines. I suspect one can do this. I have been working on this problem for the past 3 months, and I'm about to implement it and publish it on the App Store.

21
2 points by dm8 2 days ago 0 replies      
CAPTCHAs were designed for identifying computers and humans apart. Initially, they were simple tests, which required users to identify certain words. However, computer vision is growing leaps and bounds. So these test have become so complicated that even humans find it difficult to comprehend CAPTCHAs. CAPTCHAs have gone from simple tests to extremely complicated ones over last 10 years but design has never changed. We need overhaul of CAPTCHA design. They need to be both usable and secure.

P.S. I'm working on the project to make CAPTCHAs more usable. We will have some updates soon. :)

22
1 point by suhail 2 days ago 0 replies      
We've found that required email confirmations can drop conversion rates by 60%. Capatchas I wouldn't worry about unless you have serious spam problems. Seems better to detect and push capatchas on unhuman like engagement.
23
2 points by taylorbuley 3 days ago 0 replies      
I've had similar moments: http://fuckyoucaptcha.tumblr.com/
24
1 point by callmeed 3 days ago 1 reply      
Roughly how would timestamp analysis work? (I'm guessing a honeypot field would be an empty text field in a hidden div or something along those lines)
25
1 point by GrandMasterBirt 3 days ago 0 replies      
I understand the honeypot technique, which is quite cool. However what is this timestamp analysis stuff? anyone has a link to a decent explanation or care to say it in a few words?
26
1 point by btipling 2 days ago 0 replies      
Just create the form with JavaScript. 100% no spam.
27
1 point by wordchute 2 days ago 0 replies      
The bottom line is that people don't like CAPTCHA, and it cannot leave a good impression to irritate potential customers/users within the first five minutes of a visit. Most people don't really understand what they're used for, and they get frustrated when they cannot read them and/or get rejected. I have have definitely been taking steps to limit my use of them or dispense with them altogether.
28
1 point by apedley 2 days ago 0 replies      
I thought this was common sense. Every step needed for a user to signup in anything will eventually make a difference in conversion rates.
29
1 point by bfe 2 days ago 0 replies      
If a popular site uses captcha and you can make it work without, sounds like an opportunity.
30
1 point by plasma 2 days ago 0 replies      
I'd love to see Google tackle this by identifying this spam and immediately penalizing the links they are spamming.

I assume the spam is there in the first place to increase search engine rankings; so why not update the Google ranking algorithms (for example) to identify this spam and immediately give the targeted site (but not the site with the spam on it!) a terribly low rating?

Then, hopefully, the incentive to spam in the first place is gone.

31
-3 points by p09p09p09 2 days ago 1 reply      
Pro tip: You can usually get away with entering invalid similar characters on recaptcha when the word is really blurry. Substitute 'ri' for 'n', for example.

I like to do this as a game, to see what I can get away with, adds some fun to the drudgery of typing in a captcha.

32
-2 points by ck2 2 days ago 0 replies      
They then removed the CAPTCHA, and it boosted the conversion rate up to 64%. In conversion rate lingo, that's an uplift of 33.3%!

Pretty sure that 33% was bots, lol.

And they do train the bots to avoid negative-fields and timestamp analysis - all they have to do is look for type=hidden or display:none/visibility:hidden on the CSS

I use simple math instead of word captchas, seems easier on people.

33
-4 points by Confusion 3 days ago 2 replies      
Compare: "security labels in clothing are a way of announcing to the world that you've got a theft problem, that you don't know how to deal with it, and that you've decided to offload the frustration of the problem onto your user-base. Security labels suck, because you can't properly try some pieces of clothing on with those labels in them, which means sales go down."

Such complaining doesn't accomplish a thing, unless you tell them about an effective alternative. If you don't change anything about the trade-off they have knowingly made, nothing will change. To have any chance of convincing anyone, you at least need to explain the alternatives. Everyone that reads this post just shrugs their shoulders and ignores you, because their captchas effectively solve a problem they and their clients would suffer from without those captchas.

In this case, if you open with

  Using a CAPTCHA is a way of announcing to the world that
you've got a spam problem, that you don't know how to deal
with it, and that you've decided to offload the
frustration of the problem onto your user-base.

then I think it is very dissatisfying[1] to follow up later with

  They replaced the CAPTCHA with honeypot fields and
timestamp analysis, which has apparently proven to be very
effective at preventing spam while being completely
invisible to the end user.

which indicates that you have no idea about alternatives for fighting spam, apart from some measures that have 'apparently' helped in one particular case. It's not better than someone in a bar complaining about stupid government rules, without any idea or suggestion for how to improve things.

[1] it said 'hypocritical' here. That is not the correct word for it.

24
How I got sued by Facebook (2010) petewarden.typepad.com
168 points by helwr 3 days ago   36 comments top 17
1
14 points by randomwalker 3 days ago 1 reply      
Lawsuit nastiness aside, there's an interesting and important legal-technical question that this exposes: how should websites specify acceptable uses of crawled data and other fine-grained restrictions in a machine-readable form.

Motivated by this incident, I got together with Pete (the author/victim) to write a piece on "The Need to Reboot Robots.txt" [1] but it went nowhere.

Any suggestions on how to give our proposal legs would be much appreciated.

[1] http://33bits.org/2010/12/05/web-crawlers-privacy-reboot-rob...

2
26 points by antihero 3 days ago 2 replies      
"my lawyer advised me that it had never been tested in court, and the legal costs alone of being a test case would bankrupt me"

What's to stop two smaller companies making a "court case" where they sue each other for small bucks with the desired outcome (following robots.txt is a legal way to access a site with a crawler). This would then set a precedent that would benefit others as a whole.

3
6 points by RyanMcGreal 3 days ago 0 replies      
A case before the Supreme Court of Canada right now [1] touches on a similar untested premise of the open web. At issue is whether a hyperlink constitutes a citation or a republication of that page.

In this case, the plaintiff is accusing the defendant of defamation for linking to web pages the plaintiff argues are defamatory. (Aside: compared to the US, defamation law in Canada is weighed much more strongly toward the plaintiff than the defendant.)

Lower courts have decided that simply linking to a defamatory web page does not constitute defamation, unless the link is provided for the purpose of endorsing the defamatory material, in which case it is the endorsement of the link that constitutes defamation, and not the link itself.

The problem in Canada, as in the US, is that governments have not kept up with legislation governing the legality of various internet-specific activities, like hyperlinking and so on. That has left the courts to try and decide through precedent how to handle these conflicts.

[1] http://www.scc-csc.gc.ca/case-dossier/cms-sgd/sum-som-eng.as...

4
5 points by petewarden 2 days ago 0 replies      
I've added a post-script to this story, updating with developments over the last year:
http://petewarden.typepad.com/searchbrowser/2011/03/facebook...
In particular, I know from my friends in the academic community that they're quietly putting together processes for working with researchers. That's a big step forward in my view, as long as they can safeguard privacy, there's a lot of potential for world-improving research.
5
14 points by RiderOfGiraffes 3 days ago 0 replies      
You might care to read the extensive discussion from when this was posted 11 months ago:

http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=1243159

6
7 points by xd 3 days ago 1 reply      
I notice they have updated their robots.txt to only allow user agents they have approved.

http://www.facebook.com/apps/site_scraping_tos.php

7
16 points by dodo53 3 days ago 1 reply      
I wonder if he asked EFF if they were willing to defend the case. The thing is it's probably never individually worth defending against these cases, but on a society level there'd be so much gain if someone had set a legal precedence for the validity of robots.txt.
8
6 points by gommm 3 days ago 1 reply      
What would have happened if he had done it from a company based in the Seychelles for example?
Would that be a way to protect against Facebook aggressively suing with no grounds?
9
6 points by il 3 days ago 1 reply      
So...anyone have a mirror of the data?
10
4 points by tba 2 days ago 0 replies      
Great article. Is this the same person that Palantir mentioned as a potential source of Facebook information for social engineering attacks?

From the leaked HBGary emails:

"The Palantir employee noted that a researcher had used similar tools to violate Facebook's acceptable use policy on data scraping, 'resulting in a lawsuit when he crawled most of Facebook's social graph to build some statistics. I'd be worried about doing the same. (I'd ask him for his Facebook data"he's a fan of Palantir"but he's already deleted it.)'"

http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/news/2011/02/black-ops-ho...

11
12 points by younata 3 days ago 1 reply      
[2010]

I thought it sounded familiar.

12
2 points by greendestiny 3 days ago 2 replies      
Someone convince me what facebook said here was wrong. I don't think robots.txt gives you a license to do whatever you want with web content. If it did wouldn't robots.txt effectively put everything into the public domain?
13
2 points by PaulHoule 3 days ago 0 replies      
The world really could use better analytics tools for Facebook apps since the ones that Facebook provides are a little sorry in my opinion.
14
1 point by otterley 2 days ago 0 replies      
This was, in fact, tested (to a limited extent) in court about a decade ago. See eBay v. Bidder's Edge, 100 F.Supp.2d 1058 (N.D. Cal. 2000).

Short story: Back in the days when there was actual competition in the online auction market (anyone remember Yahoo! Auctions?), Bidder's Edge was crawling eBay listings to index them for an auction search engine. (I worked for one of their competitors.) eBay sued on a trespass theory, and was granted a preliminary injunction because the judge held that eBay was likely to succeed on the merits of the claim.

Unfortunately, the trespass claim was never fully litigated; Bidder's Edge agreed to stop crawling after the PI was granted.

15
4 points by jscore 3 days ago 0 replies      
Well, you never got sued just threatened.
16
1 point by willlisten 3 days ago 2 replies      
As a founder of a new company and the son of a lawyer lawsuits are certainly something I think about. It seems all companies that become well known eventually face lawsuits. While it sucks and you never want to face one, many know it is a cost of doing business. You also find people who want to attack a company seeing a big dollar sign in front of them. Plus lawyers might earn hundreds of millions or dare I say billions if they win a case from a company like Facebook or Google.
17
1 point by aksbhat 3 days ago 1 reply      
Sorry but I side with Facebook, a freely available public graph of millions of users could have been used for re-identification attacks.

Frankly you should never share your friends list publicly.

25
Unladen Swallow Retrospective qinsb.blogspot.com
165 points by jnoller 1 day ago   28 comments top 8
1
43 points by rayiner 1 day ago 3 replies      
The points about LLVM being designed for "static C-like languages" isn't totally on-point. There as an impedance mismatch between Python and LLVM, but it's less about dynamic versus static than it is about the nature of the stack frame.

In LLVM, most optimizations operate on SSA values (the Value class in the LLVM IR). There is some support for CSE-ing loads, etc, but the effectiveness of that depends heavily on your alias information. So to get good optimization out of LLVM, you've got to represent things as Value's.

This is hard to do in Python. Python's lexical scoping semantics are a little bit wonky and there are lots of scenarios in which the thread's stack frame is reified as an object. So without some heavy analysis, you end up keeping your local variables in an activation frame object on the heap, and at that point you're toast. The local variables themselves won't be represented as SSA Value's, and most of the LLVM optimizations won't do anything with them.

This is not a "dynamic language" thing per se. Lisp, which is also a dynamic language, actually maps quite cleanly to LLVM. Every binding introduced by LET is already in SSA form unless it is either closed-over, assigned-to, or both.

1) If the value is just closed-over, you demote it to the function's environment and replace uses of the variable with a load from the environment vector.

2) If the value is just assigned-to, you just demote it to a stack slot via ALLOCA and LLVM's mem2reg pass will take care of re-promoting it to a Value. This latter technique is exactly what Clang does for all C local variables, so LLVM is highly-tuned for handling this scenario. In C, variables that have their address taken cannot be promoted, but this cannot happen in Lisp so every assigned-to value demoted to an ALLOCA should be promotable.

3) If a value is both assigned-to and closed over, you demote it to a heap-allocated box and replace all uses with heap references.

After this transformation, nearly every Lisp variable is an SSA Value, and the optimizers can work with them. Even if you use function calls to do generic arithmetic, etc, LLVM will happily CSE them for you as long as you mark those functions as readnone (ie: pure).

Now, there are some things LLVM won't do for you. It can't const-propagate generic arithmetic because it does't know the semantics. It can't do reassociation, etc, because you're not using the ADD/SUB, etc instructions. I don't see anything that would prevent you from doing it yourself in a custom pass, however.

In short, the criticism isn't so much that LLVM has an impedance mismatch with dynamic languages as it is that it only handles the bottom of the optimization stack. You still need to do the high-level language-specific optimizations before handing things to LLVM.

2
7 points by jnoller 1 day ago 0 replies      
3
4 points by mitchellh 1 day ago 1 reply      
The blog post touched on it briefly with regards to PyPy but I wanted to ask here since I'm sure someone knows a lot more than I do on this. I didn't follow unladen swallow very closely, but it seemed like an exciting project from the get-go. Its sad to see it go, but it appears its not in vain.

I want to ask: What lasting effects did the work that went into Unladen Swallow have on any Python implementations (or any other languages)? What "legacy" was left?

4
6 points by malkia 1 day ago 1 reply      
Somewhat relevant to the topic - Mike Pall discusses (2009) the usage of llvm for lua - he's not ditching the approach, just pointing out the difficulties, and why he took on making luajit the way it is:

http://lua-users.org/lists/lua-l/2009-06/msg00071.html

5
4 points by tianyicui 1 day ago 0 replies      
> Our potential customers eventually found other ways of solving their performance problems that they felt more comfortable deploying.

Just curious, what are the "other ways"?

6
2 points by jbarham 1 day ago 1 reply      
"Our potential customers [within Google] eventually found other ways of solving their performance problems that they felt more comfortable deploying."

I wonder how much this includes teams within Google that have since started using Go for writing performance sensitive applications...

7
3 points by nikcub 1 day ago 2 replies      
"Most Python code at Google isn't performance critical."

What about AppEngine? The primary 'cloud' platform at Google.

8
-2 points by 18pfsmt 1 day ago 1 reply      
Are we talking about an african or european swallow?
26
Ask HN: Anyone have a really smart way to organize css?
163 points by katieben 13 hours ago   103 comments top 50
1
23 points by simonw 12 hours ago 2 replies      
Natalie Downe, my co-founder, has a very neat technique for organising CSS which she calls a CSS System. She described it in this talk:

http://lanyrd.com/2008/barcamp-london-5/sg/

She splits everything in to general styles (basic HTML elements), helper styles (things like forms, notifications, icons), page structure (header, footer, layout columns etc), page components (reusable composable classes for components that occur on different pages in different combinations, such as a news teaser) and over-rides (special cases for individual pages, rarely used).

She hardly ever uses IDs, preferring classes for almost everything - because CSS written against classes can be used more than once on a page.

She uses CSSEdit's groups feature to make the CSS easier to navigate - it's all in one file. http://macrabbit.com/cssedit/

View the stylesheets on http://lanyrd.com/ and follow the link at the top to the unminified version to see annotated examples.

2
13 points by zefhous 10 hours ago 1 reply      
Ideally, I use Sass with Compass (http://compass-style.org/). This alone is a great start to keeping things organized. One of the things I love about Sass is that it allows partials and variable declarations, which both help immensely with code organization.

Then, my code is usually organized as follows. Each section can be extracted to a partial if it gets long enough or if more separation is desired.

  Framework includes and resets
Variable declarations " colors, possibly specific widths
Universal method declarations
Standard global tags " headings, p, a, ul, li, etc...
Generic form styling, usually in a dedicated partial
Layout " container, header, content, footer
Then to specific section styling

Since Sass uses indentation, I indent everything in each section within a top level tag. This really helps visually distinguish each section and gives a much less uniform look to the stylesheet which makes it a lot more scannable. If a section uses methods exclusively I'll declare them just above the top-level section tag.

I'm pretty happy with this approach. It was formed fairly organically but become more defined as I use it for more projects. It also seems to work well for both large and small projects, since partials can be used when the code starts getting long.

3
17 points by storborg 12 hours ago 2 replies      
I have four core files:

    reset.css    - I use eric meyer's
elements.css - Global defaults for things like body,
h1, h2, h3, p, a, input, strong. All
or almost all selectors in here are
just tag names.
layout.css - Just sets up the global layout with
containers: e.g. header, footer, left
column, right column.
blocks.css - Reusable chunks.

In addition to that, I use a separate file for each "page type". For example, 'article.css', 'index.css', stuff like that. Some larger sites merit additional files like splitting off 'forms.css', 'tabular.css', etc.

All files get concatenated and minified before serving, obviously.

4
7 points by karl11 12 hours ago 2 replies      
I'm hoping for some good answers here, because I'd love a better way.

I always put universal elements first (body, img, @font-face, etc.), then I just organize it top to bottom by page location (i.e. header, content, sidebar, footer, etc.). I also tab-indent so that elements within another are indented and "contained" underneath, making it easy for me to move from one section to the next. I also write the CSS horizontally, only making a new line for a new element.

I should also note that I'm a n00b :-), so this could be a horrible way to do it.

5
8 points by peng 11 hours ago 1 reply      
At some point, the amount of CSS complexity becomes best handled by a preprocessor.

Stylus is great: http://learnboost.github.com/stylus/

I made a post about it, and personally prefer it to Sass and Less: http://nylira.com/stylus-the-revolutionary-successor-to-css/ The hardcore abbreviation mixins in my post seem to offend some coders. When you work in CSS and HTML hours every day though, every character saved adds up to a huge productivity boost.

My current project has 30 directories with 73 partial Sass files, which compile down to one 320kb file.

As to your question, I organize my partials based on controller and url structure.

6
2 points by csbartus 1 hour ago 1 reply      
Sorry guys,

After reading all comments it seems there is no (universal) solution to write good HTML/CSS code. Not like in Ruby or Python or other programming languages.

Since this year I'm struggling to create a post / best practices how to code front-end but the problem is too complex (for me).

The biggest issue is how to mark up HTML to have a DRY (minimal) CSS.
And how to remember easily these mark up rules to be able to maintain anytime in the future your CSS/HTML.

If you would elaborate your naming / marking up best practices instead of suggesting frameworks/tools maybe that would help better.

7
4 points by techiferous 11 hours ago 0 replies      
I once tried breaking my css into files according to function (typography.css, color.css, layout.css). It ended up being a royal pain because when I added a new HTML element and I went to style it, I ended up having to duplicate the css selector for that element in three files. I also was constantly switching among the three files to work with one element's styles. So whatever you do, don't organize by function. :)
8
4 points by bitsm 8 hours ago 1 reply      
I can't recommend Compass/Sass highly enough. A CSS pre-processor will completely free you to organize your CSS however you want, and more importantly, it lets you build up a library of common components (forms, buttons, etc.) that you can easily reuse and adapt for new projects.

Generally, these library files will simply contain mixins (reusable chunks of code), so they don't output anything directly into your CSS, but allow you to include the mixins in certain styles. Very useful for adding effects, rounded corners, etc. on different elements.

Keep in mind however, that mixins can be overused, adding bloat to your code. CSS does cascade, after all. You should always look to see if you can separate reusable css rules to include in markup (commonly seen with grid systems). How you balance out the convenience of keeping your css flexible vs. not littering your markup with lots of styles really depends on the project, but it's something to think about.

I have developed one very useful trick while using Sass for managing colors. Instead of assigning colors directly to an element (very hard to track down later if a change is necessary), I create color variables named after the element and attribute in question. Then in my colors.scss file, I build up my color palette, and after, list all the color variables I created in my stylesheets, setting their values to the appropriate color from the palette (with tweaks, if necessary).

  // in colors.scss ---

// color palette
$red: #ff0000;

// assign colors to elements
$body-background-color: $red;

// in layout.css, for example ---

body {
background-color: $body-background-color;
}

Since Sass lends itself to lots of files, keeping all my colors and the elements they are assigned to together in one file makes them much easier to manage down the road.

9
5 points by duopixel 12 hours ago 0 replies      
After many years doing CSS my best workflow has come to this:

    reset.css //for resetting browsers
grid.css //if I'm using a css framework
global.css //styles that are shared across the site
section.css //styles that pertain a specific section. The name of the file varies, i.e. "about.css".

You need a good code editor that allows you to open files without tabbing or reaching for the mouse, I use Textmate's Command T to switch fast among my files.

reset.css There's a bunch around, I use the one from htmlboilerplate.com, but there's many good ones available. (Eric Meyer's). You will almost never touch this file.

grid.css I only use this occasionally, when I'm working on sites where the grid is very clear and I take out all the stuff I'm not going to use. I usually go for a three col version of 960.gs and trim it to about 12 lines of css. Never touch this.

global.css Here you put your nav, your footer, you body styles, etc. I think that separating by colors and typography doesn't make sense, because you usually change a widget's appearance.

section.css I count on the body tag having a classname, so I can have body class="about" and then do...

    .about section.photo {...}

This way you never override your styles accidentally.

Miscellaneous I avoid the one declaration per line convention when I have similar styles and I want to be able to read them in a table format, i.e.

    .available {background-color: #0f0;}
.taken {background-color: #00f;}
.deleted {background-color: #f00;}

I usually start from the most generic to the more specific, but I don't worry too much about code order because in the end I just do a search and reach it in no time.

10
7 points by tomfakes 12 hours ago 2 replies      
Slightly related, but mainly a formatting issue, I format my css files as such:

  .foo    { x: y; a: b }
.bar { m: n }
.baz { background: blah blah url(xyz.png) top left;
x: y; i: j; }

instead of the more commonly seen:

  .foo {
x: y;
a: b;
}

.bar {
m: n
}

.baz {
background: blah blah url(xyz.png) top left;
x: y;
i: j;
}

My format takes up less vertical space in the editor. Sometimes, I can get my entire CSS file into a single page on the screen, reducing the amount of time I spend scrolling and searching. I do split lines when they go off the edge of the space, as seen in the .baz example.

11
2 points by mixu 7 hours ago 0 replies      
my rules:

1) Layout and widgets only.

I start with a reset, then layout (block positioning), then widgets. Everything other than layout is a widget. There are no global styles. If there is one of it, it's an ID. If more, it's a class.

2) No (global) element styles! Ever!

No, not even a p { margin: xyz } or a ul { list-style-type }. Every element that cannot be referred to by class / id must look exactly like it would after the reset.

This avoids complex dependency chains where coincidence influences look. Widgets can be moved from one site to another and you actually have to think new widgets through rather than relying on the default values.

3) Avoid classes and id's as much as you can.

Have single base element with a simple but descriptive class name, and then specify the sub-elements.

For example: Instead of “div.content-title” use “#content h1″ (e.g. div#content with a h1 tag inside it).

Basically, design widgets which consist of one base element, and refer to sub-elements via longer expressions. Use indentation to separate sub-elements.

My strong preference is to maximize for human readability (=short dependency chains, descriptive widgets rather than single elements) rather than short CSS. Cascading within widget-scope is fine, but cascading with global styles should be avoided. I find that when I follow these rules, I like my CSS a lot more.

12
1 point by carbon8 8 hours ago 0 replies      
I also use Sass and Compass. I generally organize the directory roughly like this for projects without a separate designer:

    stylesheets
- ie.sass
- master.sass
patials
- _base.sass
- _forms.sass
utilities
- _custom_mixins.sass
vendor
- _facebox.scss

The files with leading underscores are partials which are included in the master.sass. Note that facebox is an scss file. I just dump the CSS in it and include the partial in master.

The nice thing about sass is that it you can change output format, so you can just include all the external CSS files as partials and automatically output a single compressed files with your entire CSS.

When I work with a designer who uses CSS I use a structure like this:

    stylesheets
- master.sass
partials
- _style.scss
vendor
- _facebox.sass

In this case, the designer's CSS is dumped in the _style.scss partial, then included in master.sass. Then in master.sass I include my modifications to the designer stylesheets. That way I can leave the designer-provided CSS largely untouched and still have all the flexibility and power of Sass.

13
3 points by dfischer 12 hours ago 0 replies      
I leverage SASS and Compass for Ruby heavily.

I utilize mixins heavily so I can modulize all my styling and make sure it's included in areas that are appropriate. I've learned this is the only way to handle CSS without styles getting too complicated and accidentally changing something where you didn't mean to.

Example (create a mixin that has certain styles for forms and then include it in a body.wizard page) this way I keep my CSS very dry.

General coding guidelines are horizontal. I recently switched to this. I used to do vertical and indentation but it's very hard to read with big files. I've found that it's a lot easier to read horizontal CSS.

I alpha all my styles from a-z.

14
3 points by utunga 11 hours ago 1 reply      
Suprised no-one has mentioned Nicole Sullivan's (amongst others) Object Oriented CSS (OOCSS) project: https://github.com/stubbornella/oocss/wiki

She used this approach at Facebook (and Yahoo, I think?) to successfully tidy up a huge code base of thousands of CSS files down to a more manageable few.

I attended her workshop at Webstock and since then had a chance to put it into practice on a 'get it up quick' green fields project (http://chchneeds.org.nz). I must say I was really pleasantly surprised at the way this approach just avoids a lot of the pain points, as a web developer/coder (ie not an html/css guru) I so often face when just getting the simplest things to 'work'.

I guess the hardest thing for me to get my head around to was that to make things more modular you had to let go (a tiny bit) of being so religious about 'semantic html' as a requirement for the HTML, but I think its worth it to get your CSS a whole lot more modular and 'pluggable' together.

Still a bit more work to do, IMHO, but I'm definitely going to be monitoring this project closely.

Nicole Sullivan's site: http://www.stubbornella.org/content/

15
2 points by fleitz 11 hours ago 0 replies      
Start by using sass
reset.sass
960gs.sass
default.sass
In default @include reset and 960gs (sass compiles it all into one css file)

Then use a per page sass file that references default.sass

If you want something pre-built that does all this use compass.

16
1 point by kj12345 12 hours ago 1 reply      
For me the biggest goal is fewer lines to organize in the first place rather than any particular scheme for grouping. What I do is:

1) Use as few separate stylesheets site-wide as possible so any contradicting or repetitive rules will be obvious.

2) Use one line per rule so I can scan the selectors quickly, then scroll horizontally if necessary

3) I prefer complex comma-separated selectors which set one or two properties to simple selectors which set many properties. Grouping in this way gets me closer to having constants, e.g. a specific hex color won't be rewritten again and again, it will just follow a complex selector list.

4) Once a selector works, I try to make it more general, e.g. "div.info { font-size: 12px }" can probably just be ".info { font-size: 12px }". More general rules will apply in more cases, so fewer overall rules will be necessary.

17
2 points by bmelton 12 hours ago 0 replies      
I haven't used it, as there just hasn't been a project with enough lead time to experiment with something lately, but I'm fond of the idea of code generators for CSS, like CleverCSS for Python and Sass for Ruby.

Other than that, the best advice I can offer that I DO follow is that I group all HTML elements together, all IDs together, and then all classes together. Within each of those groupings, everything is in alphabetical order.

  body { foo: bar; }
form { foo: bar; }
h1, h2, h3 { foo: bar; }
input { foo: bar; }
p { foo: bar; }

#container {}
#footer {}
#nav {}

.etc {}
.even {}
.odd {}

and so forth.

18
2 points by ricardobeat 2 hours ago 0 replies      
Use less (http://lesscss.org/) - the JS version. Makes your code beautiful: no repetition, hierarchies, concise. Where I work we've used it for about 9 months now and there is no looking back.
19
1 point by trevelyan 11 hours ago 0 replies      
On an MVC site, I organize by controller. There's one general file for generic cross-site stuff (header/footer, etc.), supplemented by another CSS file that shares the markup for all controller-specific pages.

This gives a max of two css files per page. For the landing page I compress the generic file along with the controller-specific css file for the default page into a single file. This speeds up the loading process while preventing too much bloat. Since the other pages are usually hit after the landing page they require only a single extra download. Any reset code can be included in there as well, although maintained as a separate file.

I doubt this approach is ideal when it comes to organizing things, but it's fairly fast when it comes to development. I design by including css in style="" and then refactoring the markup into classes once the design is complete. Saves a lot of back and forth while getting things lined up.

20
1 point by marcuswestin 9 hours ago 0 replies      
I tend to build all my DOM in object oriented javascript, and always give the root element of a UI component the same class name as the name of the JavaScript class. See eg https://github.com/marcuswestin/Focus/blob/master/js/ui/pane.... The CSS selectors then mirror the structure of thr JavaScript files as well as the hierarchy of the resulting UI.
21
2 points by OstiaAntica 12 hours ago 0 replies      
LESS CSS seems worth a look: http://lesscss.org/
22
1 point by joelanman 1 hour ago 0 replies      
I try to code CSS starting with generic, going down to specific

Eg. Files would be something like:

* reset
* global (eg header/footer)
* common (stuff used most places but not all, eg. forms)
* specific to section of the site
* specific to the page

23
1 point by chaffneue 6 hours ago 0 replies      
I lay my styles out in 1 file and I don't often comment them. Stylesheets cascade to much to pin them to a specific area of use - it's easier to debug them by clever naming still - sigh. IE specific files loaded after and only contain 1 or two tricky IE tweaks. Javascript /Jquery plugins sometimes come with their own stylesheets, and in those cases I'll leave them where I found them. For some of the bigger sites with very different looks and feels, I'll often have a boilerplate (reset to skeleton level) and each page or section will load in their own stylesheet. Just depends how big the site is.

Order is:
* Reset (only for early IE )-http://developer.yahoo.com/yui/reset/ I find myself using it less and less

* Global Styles - HTML tags - global font faces

* Clearfix - http://www.webtoolkit.info/css-clearfix.html

* Skeleton/Structural Styles - grids/divs/columns

* Headers/footers/persistent styles

* Page specific styles and IDs

* Conditionally load IE Styles if they're required

* load javascript plugin css with the plugin's preferred dir if possible

As for pipelining them, I usually just use a gzipped connection and still serve them individually, since internal image paths for backgrounds rely on the CSS path. CSS caches very nicely, so take advantage of it on the HTTP side.

example: http://code.google.com/p/streeme/source/browse/trunk/web/css...

24
1 point by evanrmurphy 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Sometimes it's better to inline a style than to put it in a separate file.

I think when you find yourself writing nested selectors that are heavily dependent on the HTML structure, it's an indication that your code could be less fragile if you just used the HTML style attribute instead.

25
1 point by evanrmurphy 7 hours ago 1 reply      
Use tables for layout instead of CSS. Then your CSS will be more concise (essentially reduced to a theme) and less confusing (because CSS layout properties like float and position tend to cause the most confusion).

Edit: Rephrased to try and better express the idea.

26
2 points by codejoust 11 hours ago 0 replies      
I've really enjoyed SASS/SCSS optionally with Compass.
It lets you compile the stylesheets while still keeping the source files separate and organized.
I've also seen the approach with one big file for the application with commented sections, however, the drawback to that approach is using a version control system with multiple editors on a large file (merge conflicts, etc).
27
1 point by TorbjornLunde 7 hours ago 3 replies      
Don't overcomplicate things:

- Have only one CSS-file, unless your project is huge.

- Never use IDs

- Avoid reset CSS (espescially if you can ignore IE6/7

- If you think you need variables (like in SASS), you are probably thinking about it the wrong way

- Give classes functional names, not presentational

- Linebreaks after declaration. (Makes your CSS-file easier to navigate)

- Remember that you can use you media queries inside your CSS-file

Web designer Jens Meiert has some good articles:

http://meiert.com/en/blog/20090401/why-css-needs-no-variable...

http://meiert.com/en/blog/20080515/css-organization-and-effi...

http://meiert.com/en/blog/20070321/css-practice-pseudo-names...

http://meiert.com/en/blog/20090527/css-maintenance-issue-1/

28
1 point by andyford 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Like many of the other commenters, I break the code into reset, global elements, layout, modules/blocks, and then special overrides if any.

I'll admit it's a personal preference, but as a team consideration I don't recommend the 'all properties on one line' approach. It's discouraged in other languages so why do it in CSS?

Definitely check out OOCSS as well as the Natalie Downe talk both posted by in the comments already.

I can't overstate how highly I recommend Sass/SCSS. It's been mentioned already as "for Ruby". Yes, you need Ruby installed to use Sass/SCSS but you do not need to be working on a Ruby project to use it. You can run "sass --watch (directory name)" from the command line and sass will automatically compile your .scss (or .sass) files to .css files upon save. Even if you're scared of the command line I assure you, it's easy! If you're a TextMate user, there's also a great SCSS bundle here: https://github.com/kuroir/SCSS.tmbundle it was enough for me to abandon CSSEdit for good)

One thing that hasn't been discussed in this thread yet is the organization of properties within a declaration block. It's a good idea to have an approach and stick with it. Alphabetizing the properties is one approach. I wrote about my preferred approach a couple years ago here: http://fordinteractive.com/2009/02/order-of-the-day-css-prop... (also check out the SitePoint discussion linked in the "Further Reading" section of the post)

29
2 points by mikecomstock 12 hours ago 0 replies      
Here's what I do:

- Almost all CSS goes in 1 big file. One line per selector to keep thinks clean and easy to find. Styles from external sources (like jQuery UI) go in separate files.

- Reset lines go at the top, if you use them, in a / RESET / section.

- Styles for individual HTML tags are next in the / HTML TAGS / section.

- Then a / UTILITY CLASSES / section for clearing floats, etc.

- Next comes site layout. Headers, footers, page width, etc. all go here. Just the layout though - think the grid. No real content styling yet.

- Now sections for each piece in the layout. Content styles go here. First a section for the / HEADER CONTENT /, then a big section for the / PAGE CONTENT / (vast majority of styles go here), then the / FOOTER CONTENT / styles.

30
5 points by PelCasandra 12 hours ago 1 reply      
Use SASS with partials and mixins and sort them as it's more convenient for you (probably following the natural flow of descending order of your page).
31
1 point by Andaith 6 hours ago 0 replies      
The system I came up with is A table of contents that makes it easy to jump to specific styles.

First the global styles, then different things like Header, Navigation, Main Content, Right-hand-side-doodad, Widgets, Footer, etc.

Then create a Table of contents at the top and give each section a unique identifier, FEDCBA-Head, FEDCBA-Nav, etc. Go down to each group and put in a comment saying "Start of Navigation CSS <FEDCBA-Nav>".

Now you can look in the table of contents and do a quick file search on the unique identifier, and be taken right to the CSS you're looking for.

I generally make the table of contents a lot more detailed, and it has an upkeep cost, but it's well worth it when the CSS file gets big.

32
2 points by STHayden 12 hours ago 1 reply      
To be honest. With firebug's ability to tell me what line and css files the style on an element is coming from I don't find spending a lot of time on organization to have a ton of benefit.
33
1 point by findm 10 hours ago 0 replies      
I think alot of it depends what it is that you are building. My approach to would be different if it were building a large scale web app vs a website and it also depends on the team thats helping to maintain it (ie. if it were to be maintained by engineers who don't really know or care for css or a team of web devs)

I always start off with a base which consists of the misc. browser fixes and hacks + basic typography elements, rough blocking. My philosophy on formatting really follows what everyone here is saying. I really prefer horizontal lines and proper tabbing of all the sub elements because its really hard to read otherwise.

While commenting is really good and I like it, finding the proper balance is the key. When you're doing fast iteration it gets really tedious and cumbersome to go back and make sure your comments are in sync.

This is how i arrange my css:
http://maderogue.com/public/assets/css/base.css

For bigger project I like to break things down by specific functions & models.
(ie. tables, buttons, sorting controls, etc.)

i really like the way jquery ui themes are done.

34
3 points by nvictor 12 hours ago 1 reply      
i saw one guy's css once it it looks like:

  .wrapper { ... }
.sidebar { ... }
.content { ... }

the indentation was well done.

35
1 point by bdclimber14 12 hours ago 0 replies      
The best suggestion I can give is to break up your CSS into multiple files. If you have a "projects" page, make a "projects" CSS file for style definitions specific to that page. I keep the overall layout elements together. I typically also have a "forms" CSS file just for buttons, form layouts, and inputs.

Then @import everything in screen.css.

36
1 point by pippy 8 hours ago 1 reply      
ySlow recommends at most 3 stylesheets, and with good reason: the HTML headers and request times can drastically slow a site down.

By simply organizing the structure of the file well, you can have a easy to navigate css file. Of course there may be a few extra style sheets; ie.css, section specific.css, print.css and mobile.css.

Here's my CSS file structure:

-reset

-html tags h1,p,q etc

-header

-navigation

-content

-sidebar

-misc (popups, forms, buttons)

-footer

37
1 point by mattberg 11 hours ago 0 replies      
Ever since using Drupal's Zen theme I have preferred their basic setup for grouping CSS files. Here is a rough example:

html-reset.css
layout-fixed.css
page-backgrounds.css
messages.css
pages.css
blocks.css
navigation.css
comments.css
forms.css
fields.css
print.css
ie.css
ie6.css

Drupal's CSS optimization, once turned on, will roll all of these up for you automatically, so if you aren't using Drupal you will need some sort of build system to combine and minimize everything. But I think this is a good start.

On a side note, I really like the method the Zen theme uses for CSS columns. Worth checking that out as well.

38
1 point by 0p9 12 hours ago 0 replies      
A good example of some super organized CSS is in the HTML5 Boilerplate by Paul Irish.
Found here:
https://github.com/paulirish/html5-boilerplate/blob/master/c...
I sometimes use multiple instances of the same selector, especially if a project starts getting very big. I like to separate each function of the site into it's own block after the footer declarations. It lets me stay organized during development and ensures that I can keep track of what I'm working on while I'm working on it.
Here's the order I'm currently using, which was inspired by the above:

    /* HTML STRUCTURE STYLES */
body { foo: bar; }
h1 { foo: bar; }
a { foo: bar; }
/* Image Replacement & Hacks */
.ir { foo: bar; }
/* Container Styles */
#header { foo: bar; }
#main { foo: bar; }
#footer { foo: bar; }
.column { foo: bar; }
.sidebar { foo: bar; }
.img-cotainer { foo: bar; }
/* Everything inside of #header */
.navigation { foo: bar; }
#header li.nav { foo: bar; }
/* Everything inside of #main */
.content { foo: bar; }
/* Everything inside of #footer */
.social { foo: bar; }
#footer li.nav { foo: bar; }
/* Everything in specific view inside of a container from above */
.profile { foo: bar; }
.comments { foo: bar; }
/* Media Queries */
@media all and (orientation:portrait {
* { foo: bar; }
}
/* Print Styles using Media Query */
@media print {
* { foo: bar; }
}

39
1 point by phenomenia 7 hours ago 0 replies      
I write general styles like definitions for *, a, p, ul etc first and after that I put everithing in DOM order when possible. Starting at the startpage of the website/project.

Within the selectordefinitions I write general definitions like width, heigt, displaytype and position (top/left.. margin, padding) first. Then contentspecific definitions like fontdefinitions. At the end I write border and background definitions.

That way it's an ease to see if an element hast a specific definitions, because I know if I'm looking for the width and the first definition is not the with then there is no width set for this element.

40
1 point by phenomenia 7 hours ago 0 replies      
I write general styles like definitions for *, a, p, ul etc first and after that I put everything in DOM order if possible. Starting at the startpage of the website/project.

Within the selectordefinitions I write general definitions like width, heigt, display-type and position (top/left.. margin, padding) first. Then contentspecific definitions like font definitions. At the end I write border and background definitions.

That way it's an ease to see if an element hast a specific definitions, because I know if I'm looking for the width and the first definition is not the with then there is no width set for this element.

41
1 point by Flam 7 hours ago 0 replies      
How I do it: 1 File. Single line styling. Order: Reset, html/body, header, container, footer, misc (h1, p, span, input). Indent (ie: #header { } -newline+tab- #header p {}
42
1 point by supervillain 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Here's an example of a super organized CSS, with table-of-contents, https://www.mint.com/css/rd/mint.css
43
2 points by selvakarthi 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Organizing the CSS is not a big matter, giving the correct name to the class and id will lead smart way to organize
44
1 point by dillon 11 hours ago 0 replies      
Lots of comments really help, especially when you look at it months after.
45
1 point by monisninja 7 hours ago 0 replies      
here's a simple way I organizate my CSS:

1. reset.css
2. global.css - reusable classes and styles for common selectors (html, body, a, etc)
3. css named per page (or type of a page) - ex. home.css / about.css / results.css / static.css

* I usually add a class / id to the body and use that as my first selector on the page-level css. This allows me to combine all + minify for production

46
2 points by ww520 11 hours ago 0 replies      
I just use Blueprint.
47
1 point by 7oot 7 hours ago 0 replies      
I use a single file for each type of media (screen, print ...).
Each file has general styles first (HTML tags), IDs of layout boxes, classes to fine-tune formatting, and overrides at the bottom (if needed).
I like to keep spacing for readability (maybe minify the files when I'm finished).
48
1 point by Nimb0z 7 hours ago 1 reply      
Just run it through ProCSSor (http://procssor.com or http://css.tl). Lots of options.
49
1 point by weixiyen 12 hours ago 0 replies      
I do it by widget and layout.
50
0 points by weallneedheroes 7 hours ago 0 replies      
not really sure every way suits all but if it's kept as clean as possible & organised it's always best.

Personaly i keep everything to do with each area to gether ie. Header, footer, I wouldn't seperate out the <h> &

tags & place all the

's together.

if i'm working on a large site i tend to seperate out the css by section home, Base template (about for example), contact, blog, news, shop...

@weallneedheroes follow me on twitter.

27
Erik Meijer's suggestions for further reading in functional programming (kshetri.com
159 points by fogus 3 days ago   14 comments top 4
1
5 points by T_S_ 2 days ago 3 replies      
This is a great list if you want to do a deep dive into the area of FP. If you just want to learn some Haskell, and also want to use a book, I recommend a combination of two.

Check out Real World Haskell in print of free on the web. It deals with the practicalities of getting started and has lots of examples to show you how to write idiomatic Haskell and tackles realistic examples.

Hutton's book (recommended by Meijer) is also great. #1 it's thin. #2, it is cleverly organized and teaches you some deep concepts without a big fuss. By the time you hear about monads they will seem like an obvious convenience, nothing scary.

The two books complement each other well.

2
18 points by joelburget 2 days ago 3 replies      
I expected Purely Functional Data Structures by Chris Okasaki to be on this list. I would recommend it but more importantly I've seen many people who know a lot more about functional programming recommend it. It is probably a bit more useful for the average programmer than many of the books listed here.
3
4 points by chollida1 2 days ago 0 replies      
I've always loved Learn you a Haskell for Greater good.

http://learnyouahaskell.com/chapters

The blog has been slowly been updated for some time now. I especially like it's treatment of zippers, a concept that took me longer to learn than I'd like to admit:(

4
3 points by td 2 days ago 0 replies      
For a more gentle start for those less familiar with functional programming (like myself) I can recommend "Higher Order Perl" by Mark Jason Dominus (also available for free online). The book discusses functional programming techniques in Perl. It has some really practical examples, which make some of the advantages of functional programming very clear. I also find it nicely explains a lot of functional programming concepts, which helps when reading those Haskell texts.
28
My Year as an Amateur Android Game Developer kerebus.com
161 points by wallflower 3 days ago   71 comments top 17
1
58 points by patio11 3 days ago 9 replies      
I have every wish for success of this and every other business, but in the spirit of helping other impressionable developers, making a business is hard enough without making video games.

How do I love games and hate games businesses, let me count the ways. User expectations are pegged by AAA games, whose budgets you cannot possibly match. Those AAA products set a price point at $DIRT_CHEAP. (Angry Birds costs what?) Your core users are thieves. When you fail at marketing on day one, which you will because everyone does, in any normal business you get progressively better but in games the obsessive fetishization of the new means your game is virtually sunk. It is virtually impossible to iterate based on user feedback because your users are a) transients and b) not wonderful people to deal with. Gamers are virtually immune to ads, don't search for anything gaming-related, don't pay prices sufficient to justify CPc spends, and if by some miracle they hear sbout you via word of mouth they will search for you on PirateBay/etc first and Google second. Meanwhile, in addition to megacorps staffed by people who have been doing this professionally for years, you are also competing with a virtually inexhaustible supply of hobbyists, because perhaps 3 out of every 4 CS majors got into computers to make video games and the fourth one is lying.

Does any of this get better for mobile devs? No, it gets worse, unless you're picked by the platform's kingmakers.

2
20 points by Stormbringer 3 days ago 1 reply      
Don't foret that Angry Birds was Rovio's 40th game. Stickability counts.

I think to succeed though you need to put out more than 1 per year. I also think there is likely to be a network effect, if someone likes one of your games they may try the rest... this is the equivalent of the McDonalds "you want fries with that?" - that is they know they only get a certain number of people through their door, so they need to extract as much value from each customer as possible.

You will only get so many eyeballs, so if you have more than one game you may get people who try one also trying the other - free marketing. :D

3
13 points by leon_ 3 days ago 5 replies      
> I knew I had a marketing problem but instead I preferred to refractor my code

Heh, I know this too well. I suck HUGE at marketing. I've got 4 games in the iPhone app store and made since October 2010 whooping $780 ...

Actually I would be very happy if I got 20 sales a day :)

I guess my adventure in indie gamedev will end by the end of this year when my funds are used up and I'll have to get an office coding job blehrgs

4
15 points by keyle 3 days ago 1 reply      
Pretty sure a lot of developers would have got similar stories. It's just the wild wild west and they couldn't find gold. In the meanwhile, whoever is selling the pic axes, the app stores, are making money.

It's all a fad. Create value or sell pic axes.

5
16 points by bnenning 2 days ago 2 replies      
Temporarily de-anonymizing myself because my Android experience is apparently not typical. My main paid app (https://market.android.com/details?id=com.dozingcatsoftware....) is getting around 25 purchases per day, with no marketing effort whatsoever. It was featured in a few blogs and podcasts, but they came to me. It's had over 10k downloads in a year, and my original goal was 1000. Reasons I think it's done better than average:

- It's not a game. As patio11 notes the competition in that area is incredibly intense. In the last few days I've picked up Angry Birds Rio for free, Galcon for $1, and AirAttack for $3. If you aren't an experienced game developer, you're not likely to produce something at that level.

- But it is fun. It has unlimited "replay value" and lets users be creative and show off what their phone can do.

- The free version converts really well, paid downloads are around 20% of free downloads. It does everything the full version does except for saving pictures and videos. There are no ads, other than a Market link to the full version.

- I don't have to spend any time or money on custom artwork. Even the buttons in the latest version I took from the camera app in AOSP.

So maybe I'm just lucky, but creating a quality app in a non-saturated field has been enough to produce a decent side income, without having to deal with business or marketing at all.

6
7 points by statictype 3 days ago 0 replies      
Great article. Hits close to home because I'm also in the same boat - writing an iOS game on the side for fun as someone with no prior gamedev experience.
7
3 points by MatthewPhillips 3 days ago 2 replies      
Couple of things from someone who has been in a similar situation:

1) You don't have to be a good marketer to set up a twitter account and tweet when you add new levels and new features. Retweet them from your personal twitter account and it will at least hit your followers. Don't feel ashamed of asking a few friends to also retweet to their followers. The effect might be small, but it's a minimal effort.

2) Focusing on one app is a bad idea. It's like having a stock portfolio of 1 company. Make several games, even if they're smaller and less polished. You might see that one is more successful and can then concentrate on making it more polished.

3) Most important: do what you love. Don't make your platform, language, or design decisions based on what your google analytics says will make you a few bucks more. If you do that you might as well go back to working secure corporate jobs.

8
7 points by jonnycat 3 days ago 0 replies      
Gaming is a cruel mistress for developers. It's so hit-driven that it can be hard to really predict what will do well and what won't. Something that is a smashing success on one platform might just be completely overlooked on another.
9
4 points by saidulislam 3 days ago 0 replies      
I forgot to gave you some of my marketing ideas. I am executing these for my iPhone app but you can apply the same for your Android app too. Review the list part 1 and 2. Let me know what you think

App marketing part 2: http://tukulogics.com/blog/?p=63
App marketing part 1: http://tukulogics.com/blog/?p=50

10
4 points by TheRevoltingX 2 days ago 0 replies      
In a year of Android development I made my own MMORPG for it. However, the technology part was the 'easy' part. But the real adventure is in looking for good artists. Coming up with solid concepts, and turning those concepts into game art and stories.

I'm knee deep in the middle of that. It's almost as fun as programming. Screw the money, I'm doing it for the fun of it.

11
7 points by misio 3 days ago 0 replies      
I love this guys writing style, it reminds me of David Thorne from 27bslash6.com a little.
12
2 points by palguay 2 days ago 0 replies      
Here is my experience with the app store , I created a website for toddlers http://microangels.in , Someone suggested that I make an app, since I had the HTML and Javascript ready I used the android webbview and Jquery mobile to create the Toddler books app https://market.android.com/details?id=in.microangels . The app was released on February 10, As of today there have been 7951 installs with 68% active.
I have integrated the app with admob and it has made $45 so far, I don't know if this is because kids tend to click on advertisements or its because the list scrolls below the screen and the clicks are accidental

My other app Taekwondo forms https://market.android.com/details?id=form.TaekwondoForm is webview based and released on Feb 25 , it has 532 downloads with 68% active installs and has made .83 cents so far.

13
1 point by metageek 2 days ago 1 reply      
I really need to add sound to my Android game. [1] It's a board game, which means elaborate sound isn't a normal part of the experience; but it could at least click as you move the stones around. I suspect, as the author says, that most people would turn it off; but it'll contribute to the appearance of a polished game.

I released the paid version last November, for 99¢; so far I've had 8 sales. A month or two ago I released an ad-supported version; it's up to 123 downloads, and has earned 5¢ in ad revenue--most of it in the first day, which makes me think advertisers were experimenting to see if my users would click through.

I never expected vast success--it's a traditional Malagasy game, not a flashy video game--but it'd be nice to get enough to pay back my $25 Market membership. :-)

[1] http://fanorona.thibault.org/

14
4 points by Bvalmont 3 days ago 3 replies      
This needs a lot more polish. Why not contact some (student) animators or illustrators who are willing to work for a small percentage of the profit ?
15
1 point by saidulislam 3 days ago 0 replies      
very good post. enjoyed reading about your experience. I also think you should write more on 1) learning Android development (maybe tutorials for the novice) & 2) more on marketing. Like you, I am new to mobile app development/business. Learned Android development first but then got into iOS. For now, sticking mostly with iPhone. It's way different but the idea is “fish where the fishes are”. I like Android but to me at this point, it's good for consumer but kind of harsh for developers. People ask for refunds on Android apps and they can continue to use the app moving it to the SD card. Glad you are trying out different things on marketing. I am doing the same and my first app is no out yet :-) Apple still reviewing it. You are correct on graphics. I think that is mighty important. I am sharing my journey of app development, marketing and overall experience through my blog too. Check it and share your thought. Good luck!
16
2 points by neebz 3 days ago 2 replies      
I think the next most obvious step should be to go for Amazon Appstore. They are serious and if your app gets selected for a free app of the day ..I am sure you'll be flying.
17
2 points by MrVitaliy 3 days ago 1 reply      
If the game has been around on the web (under various names), why did he have to get a license from iPhone developer? It's not like iPhone developer "invented" the game.
29
BreakDOM hakim.se
156 points by creativityhurts 5 hours ago   16 comments top 10
1
17 points by revorad 4 hours ago 1 reply      
This is brilliant. But I got bored soon because there were too many bricks. Maybe you should increase the size of the bricks.
2
1 point by vivekjishtu 5 minutes ago 0 replies      
Something similar http://justbenicestudio.com
3
3 points by JonnieCache 5 hours ago 1 reply      
Very nice. It's too easy to bounce the ball back at a perfectly perpendicular angle to the bat however. Maybe add a tiny amount of randomness to the reflection angle.

Top work! I'd love to see a writeup of how it was done.

4
1 point by xbryanx 42 minutes ago 0 replies      
Make sure to check out the dada experiments listed as inspiration over at - http://the389.com
5
6 points by wicknicks 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Great stuff! Would be lovely to have it like a bookmarklet so I can play it on any page's DOM :)

Something like: http://erkie.github.com/

6
2 points by KevBurnsJr 4 hours ago 0 replies      
The guy who created this now works for http://qwiki.com
7
1 point by dev_Gabriel 2 hours ago 0 replies      
Cool.
This made me remember the first brick game that I've played, Paranoid(http://www.robots.ox.ac.uk/~north/Paranoid.html). Think that was in 94 or 95 haha
And we can still buy it (:

Anyway, good stuff man.

8
3 points by hakim 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Just realized that I put this under /experiments/_html5_ on my server. Misleading.
9
1 point by gallerytungsten 2 hours ago 1 reply      
Why does the gameplay randomly speed up, slow down, or sometimes nearly come to a halt?
10
0 points by marknadal 4 hours ago 0 replies      
eternal loop alert message upon winning? :P That is a great way to reward somebody. </sarcasm> Haha.
       cached 28 March 2011 15:11:01 GMT