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Nginx 1.0.0 is out nginx.org
535 points by Jim_Neath 3 days ago   74 comments top 23
points by pilif 3 days ago replies      
For me and this big PHP application of ours, switching from just Apache to nginx in front of Apache for PHP execution and serving the rest directly with nginx was the one optimization that brought the best bang for the buck over all the years.

Memory usage went down drastically and response times got much better.

Additionally, I personally much prefer the syntax of the nginx configuration file (though this really is a matter of taste) and it generally feels like much more of the really cool stuff is built right in (I'm looking at you, memcached module).

As such, I love nginx and I would recommend it to anybody asking me what lightweight web server to use.

Note though that the performance improvements I listed above are not as such specific to nginx: You could probably achieve the same result with any other web server that isn't also your application server. What is specific to nginx is its stability, its nice (for my taste) configuration language and the availability of really interesting modules right in the core.

Congratulations to everybody for reaching 1.0. I'm looking forward to many happy years with your awesome tool in my utility belt.

points by rimantas 3 days ago replies      
Fun bit: on the http://sysoev.ru/ the news starts with "Пое...али!" (Let's go! / Let's ride!)"Yuri Gagarin quote from
the launch of the first manned space flight fifty years ago.
points by jbyers 2 days ago replies      
We've had nginx in production for three years. 20 billion requests. 458 live configuration changes. A dozen or more live binary upgrades. Countless DOS attacks.

One known failure. One. Because I was an idiot and tried to do something a little too clever in our configuration.

It's one of the best pieces of system software I've ever used. I can't thank Igor and the nginx community enough.

points by dchest 2 days ago replies      
points by davej 3 days ago replies      
Does anybody know if/when Nginx will support HTTP 1.1? I'd love to be able to use Nginx as the frontend for WebSocket stuff.
points by uggedal 3 days ago replies      
I first heard of Nginx from a blog post[1] by Ezra Zygmuntowicz almost 5 years ago. I suspect Ezra was the primary contributor to the success of Nginx in the western world.

[1]: http://brainspl.at/articles/2006/08/23/nginx-my-new-favorite...

points by kristofferR 3 days ago replies      
Nginx is awesome! I hope they'll start working on SPDY-support eventually now that they've reached a stable point with no major features missing.
points by bjpirt 3 days ago replies      
I hadn't even considered that it wasn't at a 1.0.0 release yet! Aside from version numbers being a bit meaningless, Nginx has been an absolutely rock-solid workhorse for me for about the last 5 years.

One of my favourite pieces of software, and the things you can do with Lua as a module make it an extremely flexible intelligent proxying service.

points by jolan 2 days ago replies      
I was hoping 1.0 would include support for dynamic modules. It's the only thing nginx is missing. I have to compile my own nginx everywhere to get all the modules I need (which isn't hard, just a tad annoying to manage).
points by Sapient 3 days ago replies      
Nine years to get to version one. Happy birthday nginx.
points by MichaelStubbs 3 days ago replies      
points by jacques_chester 3 days ago replies      
I've been very pleased with nginx. I switched from lighttpd and previously from apache.

Lighty is about as fast and memory-friendly as nginx, but I found nginx to be more stable when dealing with FastCGI.

points by splitrocket 2 days ago replies      
Bravo to the whole team. Nginx is the AK-47 of webservers: when you absolutely positively have to serve every single request, accept no alternative.

Beyond that, I've found both the built in modules and the addons to be excellent quality. I've instantaneously improved performance an order of magnitude for some applications just by dropping in nginx and a little bit of configuration. I've also created a global cdn that served hundreds of millions of video streams a month on a few commodity machines with nginx, all without a hitch.

Truly excellent software.

points by ez77 3 days ago replies      
A bit off topic, please consider the following example in [1]:

  if ($args ~ post=140){
rewrite ^ http://example.com/ permanent;

Why is "^" used as a regex wildcard instead of ".*"? Thanks!

[1] http://wiki.nginx.org/HttpRewriteModule

points by billybob 2 days ago replies      
So, Nginx is supposedly more resource-efficient and easier to configure than Apache. But I assume Apache still has advantages or abilities that Nginx doesn't have.

When would you still pick Apache? I'd love to see answers here:


points by mkramlich 2 days ago replies      
Fitting that Nginx hits 1.0 at the same time as the Yuri Gagarin 50th anniversary. Here's a toast to Russian ingenuity!
points by wesley 2 days ago replies      
Is there anything like cpanel / webmin but for managing nginx?
points by epynonymous 2 days ago replies      
1.0.0 nginx is really more like a version 10.0, this thing is a real pleasure to use.
points by experimental 2 days ago replies      
"Nginx uses an asynchronous event-driven approach to handling requests which provides more predictable performance under load, in contrast to the Apache HTTP server model that uses a threaded or process-oriented approach to handling requests."

Does this mean if a crash occurs, the whole process of nginx will crash? Whereas Apache's processes can be restarted?

/Genuinely curious

points by purephase 3 days ago replies      
Great news. Excellent work by the nginx team. I'll second (or third) others by being surprised that it wasn't already at the 1.0.0 milestone!
points by Stealx 2 days ago replies      
I'm looking for a nginx guru if anybody is looking for some quick, easy side work.
points by kapso 2 days ago replies      
Nginx is a thing of beauty, definitely scores over Apache.
- ease of use
- simplified configuration, I dont need a 500pg manual to get a grasp of nginx
- speed, speed, speed
- what else do you want :)
points by zenspunk 3 days ago replies      
Reaching version 1 is meaningless. Their versioning, like many other projects, is completely botched.

"Oh look, we're getting to the high 0.9's, better call the next one 1.0.0!"

The Programmer Salary Taboo thurn.ca
413 points by andrewmunn 2 days ago   315 comments top 39
points by MrFoof 2 days ago replies      
Salaries never stay secrets forever. Hiding them only delays the inevitable.

Last year we were having a discussion at lunch. Coworker was building a new house, and when it came to the numbers it was let loose that it was going to cost about $700K. This didn't seem like much, except to a young guy that joined the previous year and had done nothing but kick ass and take names. The new guy was arguably the most talented guy in the company by a considerable margin, so he thought someone building a $700K home might've been overextending themselves. The person buying the home retorted that it was reasonable and asked the new guy why he wouldn't buy the Porsche Boxster he considered his dream car. The new guy responded that would never be prudent. That didn't seem right, as several of us at the table could've nearly swung a Boxster with just our bonus.

The conversation ended up in numbers. Coworker building the house pulled about $140K base (median for a programmer was probably $125K), and his bonus nearly matched the new guy's salary, which was an insulting $60K -- and got cut out of the bonus and raise in January for not being there a full year, only 11 months.

Turns out he was a doormat in negotiating, though his salary history was cringeworthy. It pained everyone to hear it, considering how nice of a guy he was. In all honestly, $60K was a big step up for him. Worst of all, this wasn't a cheap market (Boston). The guy probably shortchanged himself well over a half-million dollars in the past decade. This was someone who voluntarily put in long hours and went out of his way to teach others, and did everything he could to help other departments like operations and other teams. On top, he was beyond frugal. Supposedly he saved something around 40% of his take home pay, despite living alone in Boston. He grew up in a trailer park.

He spent the next day in non-stop meetings with HR, his manager and the CTO. That Friday he simply handed in his badge without a word, walked out and never came back.

Until 3 months later. As a consultant. At $175/hour.

points by nostromo 2 days ago replies      
Here's a trick I once heard to share salary with your coworkers without the uncomfortableness of finding out you are over or under-paid.

Over beers with several of your coworkers, each write down your salary on a piece of paper and then mix them up. Randomly draw them out of a hat and then read them to each other.

If you're all roughly peers, then you get all the benefit of knowing the salary range of the group, with none of the downside of feeling embarrassed about making much more or less than your peers.

points by harryh 2 days ago replies      
Consider a hypothetical scenario for the person on the other side of the table:

You are hiring up an engineering team and hope to hire up a team of 10 engineers paying 100k/yr each. So far you've hired 9 people at 100k and are working on filling that last slot. You find someone perfect but he has a competing job offer and is asking for 110k/yr instead of just 100. He's no better than the other 9 people you have already hired.

In a situation with relatively secret salaries it might make sense to go ahead and pay the 110k. It's only a 1% increase in your yearly budget which probably isn't a deal breaker.

But in a situation with relatively public salaries you're in a bad spot. You can either not hire him thus prolonging your search, or you can hire him and face potential moral/teamwork problems. Maybe you can hire him and bump everyone else's salaries up to 110k but a 10% budget increase might not be feasible. So the company is a bit screwed in this situation. And to the extent that the companies success is also the success of individual employees the individual employees might be a little screwed too.

I've made this scenario simpler than what reality would generally look like but the same principal holds.

In nearly every situation in which I've had insight into engineer's compensation I know for a fact that fairness has always been a top priority. But it's worthwhile to see that it sometimes can't be the only priority and to understand how the salary taboo fits into this.

points by lukev 2 days ago replies      
As a developer who, admittedly, has never had trouble finding a salary I'm satisfied with, and who is comfortable negotiating, I'm not a fan of transparency. It seems like it would cause more problems than it solves.

If salaries are private, then salary is purely a function of negotiation between employer and employee. Presumably both are happy, or at least happy enough not to terminate the relationship.

If salaries are public, however, then a ton of other variables get thrown into the mix. For example, it's possible to end up in a situation where I'd be happy to stay for a certain salary, and my employer would be happy to give me that salary to keep me, but because they can't offer all my peers the same salary, it doesn't work out, and nobody is happy.

And that doesn't even take into account all the extra interpersonal conflict and rivalry that transparent salaries could cause.

The mitigation for both of these issues is, of course, is to base compensation on objective performance rankings. But that's a nontrivial problem. How do you compare a sales guy to a developer to a DBA? Even if you did come up with a mostly fair solution, it would still invite endless discussion and dissatisfaction from people who feel the system wasn't evaluating them properly.

points by michaelochurch 2 days ago replies      
I actually think full transparency on salary could make this nasty issue go away. Post what everyone is making and let people negotiate a fair package. There would be some transitional pain in the first 2 months, and payroll costs might go up 10 percent, but people would be happier in the long run. Why use inaccurate gossip instead of full transparency?

What drove up compensation in banking in the 2000s was inaccurate compensation reporting. Pay in banking is one's status, so everyone would claim to have received top bonus when applying to private equity jobs or trying to make a lateral move. This meant that whatever bonus was paid to the top 5% of each year would be claimed by everyone in that year. That ratcheted up pay expectations over time. Banks actually liked this, because the high pay enabled them to make entry-level conditions and hours even worse, but most companies wouldn't be able to afford that process.

In the long run, I think that salary discovery by inaccurate gossip is more expensive and volatile than full transparency, and I can't think of a good reason why, in any company, everyone shouldn't have access to everyone else's base compensation (performance bonuses can be private; the range should be public but not the amount.)

points by jrockway 2 days ago replies      
I've always wanted to write exactly this blog post. Keeping your salary confidential is great for big companies, but it benefits you in no way. You should be making what your coworkers make. If you make less, you're being fucked, plain and simple. The sooner you realize that, the sooner you can remedy the situation. Sadly, some people go their whole careers without doing so.

FWIW, my first programming job only paid $45,000 a year. What a ripoff.

points by obiefernandez 2 days ago replies      
One of my earliest memories of the Salary Taboo was at the first Java One I attended as a freshly-minted Silverstream "Field Application Engineer" (must have been '99)

Four of us in equivalent positions, including one woman got together in my room and started pounding down screwdrivers. After the fourth of fifth, we started talking salaries. All of the guys were making around $120k and the girl... (wait for it...)

$80k !!! Despite having more education and arguably better qualifications.

We had a big problem on our hands. I'll never forget we were in a room near the top of the tall St. Francis hotel tower and she was angrily threatening to jump out the window.

points by kwantam 2 days ago replies      
http://www.glassdoor.com can be a helpful resource in this regard. It needs a bunch more critical mass before it's truly useful, but some information is usually better than no information.
points by joezydeco 2 days ago replies      
My teeth always grind when I read articles like this.

Yes, you can make $100K at Google. In Mountain View, California. How does that correlate to someone doing the same job in Austin, Seattle, Chicago, or Cleveland? The cost of living swings greatly when you depart the west coast.

Decent wage databases will add another variable to the position and experience axes: the geographic area where the job is offered. (Example: http://www.erieri.com/)

points by anon-e-moose 2 days ago replies      
I graduated with a CS degree and am making about $32k a year, before paying for insurance, at an IT job.

Where can I sign up for one of these horribly low paying $45-75k/year programming jobs?

points by chrislomax 2 days ago replies      
I'm at a company as a senior developer. I know the other senior developer is on more money than me but it doesn't bother me. He is more experienced than me and brings a lot to the table. I have been at the company longer and got the development team going, I even hired the guy. I will continue to be "above" him in a respect as I am part of the decision making team about which routes to go down.

I value the development work more than the decision making though so I stand by the fact that it doesn't bother me he is on more.

You wouldn't accept a job if you were not happy with the conditions, its a two way street. If they offer you a job then you decide whether you want to take it or not, they don't force your hand.

I know I could get 10k more than I am on now if I moved to another company but I'm not in my MD's office telling him I'm leaving because I know this fact. I believe in company values, I am helping a company grow. We are relatively small and I have a chance to make a big difference.

When your work is your life (If you are a dev then your work IS your life), then it's more about the experience than the cash.

But if someone came along and offered me £100k to do my job, I would take it. I'm loyal enough to stay but I'm not stupid enough not to go.

I once worked for a company where I bragged about a massive pay rise, I was young and stupid. It led to a lot of hard feelings. I had been promoted to manager and given some great responsibilities. I ended up losing a lot of friends short term (they got over it) but I learnt a valuable lesson, even if they money you were offered comes from a position above you, you are condemed for taking it.

A lot of people hate to see other people do well for themselves, all the people who say that they should openly discuss their wages are either on a decent package or they genuinely do not care what other people are on. All the people that want to keep it private understand that it only leads to upset and arguments.

If you can be close enough to a work colleague for them not to take it personally then go for it, I would not say an open forum of discussing wages is a good idea though.

points by ig1 2 days ago replies      
Or you can look at actual data:


Average salary for a software engineer is $90k, for California $103k (this excludes "programmers" who just implement fully spec'd code).

points by olalonde 2 days ago replies      
You know what would really solve the problem? If employers publicly announced the salary they are aiming for in job ads. That way, you wouldn't feel like you got ripped off because of bad negotiation skills.
points by olalonde 2 days ago replies      
I used to be very good at salary negotiation and being confident in my skills... until I discovered HN.
points by impendia 2 days ago replies      
In academia, it is common for professors' salaries to be listed in public databases that are searchable by anyone.

I don't particularly draw any conclusion from this; indeed, there is some debate as to whether this is a good thing overall. My impression is that it doesn't make much difference one way or another. In any case, it may be interesting to HN readers to know that this is the norm in the public sector.

points by tzs 2 days ago replies      
Wait...Google starts at $100k/year for people fresh out of college with an undergraduate degree? So what do they go up to for people with experience?
points by krosaen 2 days ago replies      
Interesting that all of the examples provided, google, amazon, facebook, MSFT all apparently provide units of stock with a predictable initial value; with stock options, all you can do is guess whether the company will grow and by how much, but if the company didn't grow at all they would be worthless. In fact, are we sure facebook doesn't grant options? Seems like they are still in the growth phase to the point where they could offer options instead, whereas MSFT would have a hard time keeping a straight face offering options at this point.
points by droz 2 days ago replies      
Not sure how much value this gives existing employees. If you go up and see that you are making less than your coworkers, then it's a moral destroyer. If you are making average but feel like you are doing more work than everyone else, again moral destroyer. If you are making bank, all the sudden you are now in everyone's cross-hairs- boom! moral destroyer (depending on the kind of person you are).
points by zenocon 2 days ago replies      
many years ago, i was a fresh grad with an ms in comp sci working at a bay area startup. i sucked at negotiations too, and my starting salary was 75k, which actually wasn't too shabby (or so i thought). long story short: the company imploded, but i was one of the few people kept around until they turned off the lights. most of my friends had been laid off, and we had all revealed our salaries. they made closer to 95-125k, and i was the guy in the OP's story: they guy that worked tirelessly, did the work of 2.5 of my co-workers, was well liked, and had a grad degree. i was pretty annoyed, so i went into the ceo's office and said i was due a salary bump. it was the least he could do seeing as how the company would be gone in a month, and i could use that as leverage in negotiations for next time. he complied, and bumped my salary to 90k. i got a new job about a month later and i negotiated 98k.

usually, you will get some incremental improvement when you move to a new position.

points by nathanb 2 days ago replies      
It would be extremely interesting to see whether or not having these data publicly available (especially in such a context-free fashion as in this article) is truly helpful or not. It reminds me of another HN story which saw the front page today: http://itmanagement.earthweb.com/entdev/article.php/3930466/...

Full transparency could lead to a more equitable distribution of salary, or it could mean that companies are less able to pay top dollar for great talent because they know that there will then be a hundred wannabes who are demanding the same salary.

points by glhaynes 2 days ago replies      
Are there parts of the world where it's customary for salaries to be known?
points by hugh3 2 days ago replies      
As an academic, this thread makes me feel bad.
points by dbjacobs 2 days ago replies      
When working for the federal government everyone knows everyone else's salary. So it can be done, and is generally less corrosive than hidden salaries.
points by rick888 2 days ago replies      
I believe this is exactly what happens in Sweden, Denmark, and Finland. Salaries aren't public directly, but tax returns are...so you can easily see what everyone makes.
points by dezwald 2 days ago replies      
I find that in canada (toronto, ontario) programmers are not paid near the amounts of programmers in the US.

5 years ago i started at 40K (working in Hamilton). Now living in toronto, and i find that newly graduate programmers start around 50K-60K, and senior programmers make anywhere between 80K-100K.

I feel that living toronto/ontario, programmers are utilized as tradesmen, where they service the industry (corporations, banks, publications, marketing firms etc...)

I just wish there was more of a tech/startup industry in toronto, like there is in California, Boston, New York, etc..

points by thmzlt 2 days ago replies      
How are startup salaries compared to the big companies?
points by marklabedz 2 days ago replies      
On one hand, being able to compare yourself to others is very valuable. The challenges arise though in how to square two different numbers. What is the value of each individual skill? If 2 people have differing abilities in 3 different skills, are all skills valued equally?
points by gaustin 2 days ago replies      
I avoid all of the fuss.* I work for a State agency in a low population state. There's a published ceiling and floor on salaries (based on pay band). All salaries are public record.

* Tongue firmly in cheek.

points by joerobot 2 days ago replies      
Wow, this article comes in perfect timing for me. Hopefully, you, the HN community could help me.

I am currently being offered a software engineering job at Apple through a recruiting company. What I want to know is, how much should I be asking for? I am 4 months out of college (no Ivy league, just a state college) with little professional experience. So far, I have said $50k, but is that low-balling it? Should I be asking for more? From what I gather, Apple won't be paying me directly; it will be the recruiting company that will be issuing my checks.

Forgot to mention that I would be moving from Louisiana to California if I get the job.

points by olalonde 2 days ago replies      
Anyone has figures for IBM?
points by pilib 2 days ago replies      
While not being a programmer, I did work as a sysadmin for a hosting company. Since I quit around 2 years ago, I was asked by my ex-colleagues on several occasions would I consider returning there. Now, these questions were raised by my coworkers and not my boss, but nevertheless, my answer was the same. Yeah, sure, if they double my salary from 2 years ago, assign me to a higher tier support level so I don't have to deal with customers in any way.

Simple reason for this was that knowing my peers salary, both those of lower, equal and higher position, I knew how much I was worth to them, and how much others were slacking.

So, with public salaries, you get that. With them being private, I would probably ask for a small raise based on economic situation. I'm not saying I wouldn't work for the same money as before, It's just that I'd feel like a jerk toward my self in that case.

points by jinushaun 2 days ago replies      
Reading all the replies on HN reminds me why companies like to outsource. Americans are expensive and have a strong sense of entitlement. This race to make more money for the sake of money just leads to accelerating inflation across the board. As far as I am concerned, salary is just a number and people can live just fine on $50,000 if they we weren't such a consumerist society.
points by plus2 2 days ago replies      
We need to remember "you are not your salary". Comments like "an insulting $60,000" or "only $100,000" makes me shake my head. Your salary is not something you have to brag about.Your worth is not determined by your salary. A developer can create millions of dollars in value. Think how much value DHH created with Rails or Linus with Git and Linux. Or Damien with CouchDB. Remember Steve Jobs salary is $1 a year.

Our goal as hackers is to create value, millions of dollars worth of value. This salary talk makes us look like programmers not hackers.

points by yuhong 2 days ago replies      
As it happens, there was this Ask HN about salary. Guess why it had to be created using a anonymous throwaway:
points by sceaj 2 days ago replies      
So, I'm most certain that I'm being given the shaft by my employer.

A coworker recently quit, because he felt underpaid (his previous job paid him over 10% more). Negotiations with HR got him nowhere, so he left.

The coworker and I had identical jobs, and we did them in the same capacity, with very similar skill levels. When he left, he disclosed everything to me. Despite being underpaid, he was still being paid significantly higher than I am (almost 25% more).

Of course, I'm no longer happy with my pay, but don't really know what to do about it. I don't have the flexibility to just leave town, and I'm in a town that just isn't hiring developers right now ("metro"=200k). I've applied to places far away, but just without much luck. I thought if I got an offer, I'd have some arguing room. But I don't; I don't have anything. Besides, if my employer doesn't budge, I'm not prepared to take the leap. I can't leave town because my wife is in school here, now.

I started at a lower pay rate, because they hired me without a college degree. I've been working for them for three years now, and have been moving up in pay, but I started so low that it hasn't amounted to much.

I think a huge part of my problem is that I don't have a college degree. I think that I've obviously shown that I'm capable of doing the job, regardless, though. How much should the degree really matter? I've seriously been considering applying to a lower tier school (I mean low tier state school, not U of Phoenix, etc.) for a degree completion program, just so I can pad my resume up some. I don't know if that hurts more than it helps, though. I did already finish up the handful of courses I needed for the A.S. from the local community college.

points by fsipie 2 days ago replies      
How does this translate into UK salaries? I'm working at a medium sized company (approx £200 million turnover) and am a senior developer with 15 years experience in stuff like c++/c#/iphone/asp.net mostly MS stack and I'm getting paid £34k. I know I can go contracting for £40/hr but it's alot more hassle.

What are other people getting paid here in Blighty?

points by rch 2 days ago replies      
I've found that talking about grossing a figure up to cover taxes can be a good way to get your feet wet with negotiating.
points by lukejduncan 2 days ago replies      
In Silicon Valley, is it expected that you'll negotiate an offer? If so, by how much? In general in Detroit, offers are final (clearly a generalization, but true of big co's).
points by lukejduncan 2 days ago replies      
HN needs anon comments. I have specific questions, but not ones I want my name on =)
Joel Spolsky on allocating ownership in your startup onstartups.com
409 points by _pius 1 day ago   66 comments top 20
points by ghshephard 1 day ago replies      
Joel's article is pretty good as a starting point, but, I think there is a lot of variation on what the first set of employees get.

I've been a first 10 employee (As an infrastructure contributor, not core engineer) twice in companies that eventually were valued at greater than $1 Billion. The first time I received 0.03% Equity (Before Dilution) - the second time I received 0.1% Equity (Before lots of dilution).

For one of those companies, I know that some of the core engineers received 3-4x what I did, so - extracting to all of the six core engineers in Layer 1, Plus the Administrative crew - comes around 6 * .4% + 3 * .1% = about 2.7% for the first nine employees. We had our series A before anybody came on board, as an employee.

There is probably a different allocation method for teams comprised of "Serial Entrepreneurs" - Your risk in joining that team is much less, so your equity is typically much less. Also, the approach usually goes like the following:

Step 1: Two - Four Founders create a company. Roughly sharing the equity, though, if there is a "Named" founder that will Garner Press/Financing/Customers, they take a bigger chunk.

Step 2: Founders brainstorm for month or two, commit to working together for a minimum of four-five years, and then go pitch their preferred VCs. VCs give them a valuation of $5-$10mm (pre-money) and invest $1mm-$2mm.

Step 3: First 5-10 Employees are hired, with a stock pool of 3%-10% - Sr. Employees with a great track record who currently have great jobs at Google/Facebook/etc.. will require a larger equity share. Out of work contributors who have a solid, if not exceptional track record will receive significantly less. The team now has a clock ticking, and has to demonstrate some traction within six-nine months to get their next round before the money runs out.

points by agmiklas 1 day ago replies      
I didn't think his IOU solution for founders that either don't take a salary or contribute property made much sense. For that to be fair, you'd have to set a super high interest rate on the loan.

At the same time, I see the difficulty with assigning a concrete value to the shares early on. The angel investment world solves this exact problem using convertible debt. Why not take the same approach with investments-in-kind made by the founders?

If a founder forgoes a salary, why not agree to convert the pay difference relative to the other founders into stock at the time of the first equity financing at the share price negotiated with the VCs?

points by ookblah 1 day ago replies      
I come from perhaps the small subset of a being good friends w/ my co-founder, having a 50/50 split, and being the technical one ....so that sets up context for my thoughts.

I resonate w/ this article a lot because to me, the appearance of fairness trumps everything. The 50/50 split lets me know that I don't have to worry about who does what exactly or who is working harder, but sets it up so we are both "all in". I feel like if you're debating equity split at that stage (provided you're both at the same point, quitting your job, etc) you're already setting up a rocky relationship. Either that or you're not really finding a co-founder, more of a dedicated employee.

I guess I'm just a little unclear on how you can define clearly what a "60/40" workload split looks like when they might not even be the same type of work.

points by alain94040 1 day ago replies      
1. Use http://foundrs.com to split equity early on, before your project gets traction. It has vesting built in. And it forces co-founders to have that oh-so-feared discussion early.

2. I respectfully disagree with Joel on certain aspects. He is very unclear about how to split equity among a few founders. He seems to advocate 50/50, which I strongly advise against. Fairness is one thing. But my litmus test is: if you quit, would the project die instantly? Then you are the CEO and you should get more.

I have advised tens of founders on those issues, including convincing some to fire useless co-founders. It's painful, but usually pretty clear when an outsider (like me) listens to all sides.

points by limist 1 day ago replies      
A 50/50 split can work for the (very) small subset of cases where two people of comparable skill and commitment start building something from scratch (nothin' but a half-baked idea) together, with no prior investment/work/IP, no domain expertise, no key contacts, no customer channels, nor any major capital infusions. Oh, and both parties have a clear record of making good decisions together and resolve disputes effectively.

But for most other cases in the real world, these two resources offer a more rational and open/honest approach:



points by Chocobean 1 day ago replies      
His answer for "What happens if not all the early employees need to take a salary? " makes sense, but leaves the question of "why don't I get paid now instead of getting paid later if it means I get just as much (or less due to inflation)." Presumably, you'd have an understand co-founder who understands that cash in the company now is a little more important. Failing that, I think it might be fair to add interest to that IOU.
points by bravura 1 day ago replies      
What do you do about disputes in the case of 50-50 ownership? In particular, what do you do if one founder wants to fire the other founder?

I've heard of a so-called "shotgun clause". It's analogous to the problem of fairly cutting a cake. One person cuts, the other person gets to pick a piece. IIRC, in the shotgun clause, one founder can demand that the other founder leave, and names a price for the company. If the other founder wants to stay, he can buy out the first founder for the named price. This sounds reasonable, except that founders might not actually have the money to buy out the other founder.

points by imwilsonxu 2 hours ago replies      
I second Joel's method. Sum it up.

- For ownership, fairness, and the perception of fairness, is the most important because arguments are very likely to kill the company. 50-50 is simple and acceptable.

- For stakes, divide people into layers by risks they take. Taking the biggest risks, founders the first layer should end up with 50% of the company, total. Each of the next layers take 10% respectively, split equally among everyone in the layer.

- Do use vesting to prevent some jerk that quit after two weeks and still think he owns 25% of the company for his two weeks' work.

My thoughts.

- For founders, ownership can never be calculated accurately. We're human beings, we can come up with excuses as many as possible to claim our benefits. That's why 50-50 works in most cases.

- 50-50 is a perception of fairness, is a symbol of “Hey guys, we are equal to each other, we are working for our company, not any of us!”, no matter who brings up the idea, who has more experiences, etc.

- Ownership is a process, not a decision. What determine your cake is risks you took, value you created, how long and hard you got involved, etc. Instead of a meeting, a discussion, or even an email.

points by Murkin 1 day ago replies      
10% for the first 4 employees (paid?).

Anyone has example of a startup that actually did that ?

AFAIK the total employee pool is rarely beyond 15% total. And that number is for a few layers ahead.

points by acangiano 1 day ago replies      
> Otherwise your co-founder is going to quit after three weeks and show up, 7 years later, claiming he owns 25% of the company.

Or half the company for a $1000 investment.

points by ozataman 1 day ago replies      
Good article, but leaves a few points open in my mind. The biggest issue that most people seem to be missing is control. When you have a 50/50 setup, you better make sure that you are comfortable with all the decision-making dynamics that partnership structure will bring.

Consider when you have a technical and a semi or non-technical founder. Let's say the technical founder is the visionary for the product you are building, understands what the customer needs (which means he has some/good business savvy) and give direction to all engineering related activities - from technology stack selection to what features and how they will be built. He/she is the one who will take the lead in defining the product and its -hopefully- many iterations going forward. A quick high profile example that comes to mind is Mr. Zuckerberg - he did the programming and he continues to give direction to the product.

Now you also have the semi/non-technical founder, who is obviously there because he/she is talented, smart and will have large impact going forward in building customer relationships and contribute to higher level discussion on where the products should go. There is a good chance the company won't go anywhere without this guy either.

How would you now do the split? A 50/50 arrangement would mean both parties get the same say/leadership over where the company/technology needs to go. Is that right? This is not about money, as both parties will be in good shape as long as a reasonable arrangement is chosen. It is about what is fair/right/sensible regarding what the company is going to be about and how it is run.

points by gyardley 21 hours ago replies      
Holy good lord, that's a lot of equity for employees.

I can see this causing all kinds of problems. You're not going to allocate an option pool for employee layers one through five all at once, prior to your seed round, because that'd be massively dilutive to you in the event of an early sale. (The unused options go away, but the premoney the VC invested at takes the unused options into account.) But creating such hefty option pools down the road is going to cause issues with your existing investors, who at that point would be diluted.

The conflicting interests of founders and earlier investors (who don't want to be diluted by a large new option pool) and later, new investors (who want to make sure the company has a lot of options to incent new employees) will get you to an 'industry-standard pool' pretty naturally. Unless the market's changed dramatically recently, that standard pool is a hell of a lot smaller than what Joel's suggesting.

points by mkramlich 1 day ago replies      
Sounds like reasonable advice. And I'm reminded of how good of a writer Joel is when in peak form. I'm also a fan of Inc. magazine and it's been great to see both him and Jason Fried contributing in print there as well.
points by kchodorow 1 day ago replies      
A lot of comments seem to be squabbling over details, but your startup is almost certainly going to fail, and the longer you haggle over splitting proceeds, the more likely failure is. Just split it and start working already!

If your company is a success, great, but is it really going to matter if you're worth 50 million vs. 60 million in the infinitesimal chance that it pops?

points by ry0ohki 1 day ago replies      
The general advice I've heard is you don't ever want 50/50 splits because if there are important decisions to be made, you can often end up in deadlock, and no one is truly in charge of making a final call or being responsible. Since I don't have enough karma on onstartups to ask Joel this, I'm curious what his response would be.
points by slowpoison 18 hours ago replies      
IIRC, in "Founders at Work", I think it was Vinod Khosla, who suggested to Excite (@Home) founders to have an unequal split based on a set of criteria, or it'll get ugly later (I'm paraphrasing). And I think it makes sense. Dividing everything equally amongst founders may make sense in the simplistic cases, but more often than not, people of varying capacities/skills come together to form a startup. It's better to not ignore those inequalities and design a split that address that upfront.
points by gatlin 1 day ago replies      
I'm working on starting a small worker co-operative. The advantages are normally considered for a large group (say, to increase buying power for interested consumers) but in the case of a lean startup, the law simplifies these questions. After bills and other fixed costs, you apportion net savings to the members proportionate to their contribution. Additionally, in a small group democratic (maybe even consensus) voting allows everyone to be equally in control of what is a joint partnership. I know Texas has laws covering "cooperative associations," can't speak for other states. Thoughts?
points by hxf148 18 hours ago replies      
I hardly know whether to call my infostripe.com operation a startup or not. I've invested in good scalable hosting with rackspace and act as all dev/ceo/marketing roles.. it's early for us but I guess being a startup is a presence of mind in many ways.
points by fedd 1 day ago replies      
what about the advisors? some suggest give them stake.

Zuckerbergs need Sean Parkers so that VC would invest faster

points by tomjen3 1 day ago replies      
This is great advice, except that he puts a yearly cap before the first vesting which means that the company is better of fireing you the day before you earn your shares than keeping you employed.

Neither you nor your employees need that kind of perverse incentives.

Poll: Display points on comments?
405 points by pg 1 day ago   295 comments top 168
points by samdk 1 day ago replies      
I think that not having points has some nice qualities, but it also feels like I'm being denied information that I find useful in reading/skimming a thread. I've noticed I find reading HN a lot harder while this has been in effect. (I've also noticed that I tend to unconsciously give numbers in usernames some weight when reading a comment. The same applies for the time it was posted.) One possible compromise would be to display either a number or simple graphic that approximates point totals instead of displaying them explicitly.

Also, I've been planning to write a longer blog post on the following, but given that I've had no time lately and am not likely to have any soon, I'll just float the idea here.

One idea I've had that I think might be interesting is dealing with upvotes or points in terms of logarithmic scales. That is, it takes one upvote/point to get a comment from 1-10, 2 upvotes/point to get from 11-20, etc. (Exact numbers would have to be scaled, of course.) I find that going into a thread an hour or two old and seeing comments with 50-100 points is a major disincentive to commenting, even if I have something to say. That comment or couple of comments and their resulting threads are going to make sure very few people ever read what I've written. An appropriately scaled log-scale system might make it so that really really good comments still get really really high scores, but so that others (which might have simply come too late in the discussion to be competitive on a raw-point scale) still get a chance at being seen.

(One related idea would be to make the point-approximating graphic log-scale even though the points themselves remain the same underneath.)

points by patio11 1 day ago replies      
I'm conflicted. As a (heavy) consumer of HN, not having the best comments called out to me has made it more difficult to parse, and not being able to sort searchyc results by points will eventually diminish its value as external memory for me.

As a producer on HN, I have noticed two things: one, the subjective self-assessed quality of the comments I have been writing since the change has been far higher than it was in the few months prior to the change. I've been quipping less and writing meatier, substantive, useful things (I hadn't stopped writing those, but there were periods of weeks where I had no comment longer than a paragraph and very few actionable bits in those comments). I do not know why this is -- it could be phases of the moon, totally unrelated to the interface change, for all I know.

I also note that my per-comment scores for meaty comments are higher than they've ever been, which may or may not be desirable. I don't care about karma, but to the extent anyone else cares about their karma relative to folks on the leaderboard, my anecdotal single-point observation is that winners seem to be winning at the moment.

points by edw519 1 day ago replies      
For years I listened to users complain whenever I removed something they were used to for the improvement of the whole endeavor. I have rarely encountered a user that was happier with less information.

Now I know how they feel.

points by jerf 1 day ago replies      
I think it's too soon to actually judge, as we're still in the "ick! change!" phase. Ask again in another week or two. Same for any other experiment you run in the future; unless it obviously and immediately fails, give it some simmer time. (IMHO, of course.)
points by tokenadult 1 day ago replies      
I went back to the post where pg asked for advice on how to prevent decline of HN:


He wrote, "The problem has several components: comments that are (a) mean and/or (b) dumb that (c) get massively upvoted."

To help along the thinking process here, as we digest our own personal experiences (each from a different subset of threads, I suppose, unless several participants here read HN exhaustively), let's think about those issues:

a) After the change, are mean comments less likely to be upvoted?

b) After the change, are dumb comments less likely to be upvoted?

c) What is the general character of highly upvoted comments after the change? Are comments with the highest number of upvotes after the change usually helpful, thoughtful comments, or flippant comments that don't gratify intellectual curiosity?

Over the next few days, it should be possible to look at some highly upvoted examples. The bestcomments view of HN content


still shows highly upvoted comments, although right now it shows them without explicit comment scores. How do those comments look to you?

P.S. There is a lot of speculation in this thread about how comments are weighted, how users gain karma, etc. As far as I know, except for possible details of the current experiment, the source code for this site in ARC,


which was mentioned in an HN thread a while back,


tells any code-literate user most of the story about how karma is allocated and how users gain karma. (Please note that I am NOT a code-literate user here, not in ARC, and I have never attempted to reverse-engineer any aspect of the karma system here. I simply empirically observe what happens to my own submissions and comments after I submit them, which I can still do during this experiment by viewing my own followed threads.)

points by keyist 1 day ago replies      
"My goal in not showing points on comments was to prevent the sort of contentious exchanges where people (in this case literally) try to score points off one another."

I think a suitable compromise would be to hide for X days until most voting activity is over (reusing the threshold where downvotes are no longer available but upvotes still are might work). This would still meet your goal without the cost of information loss.

EDIT: I'd hate to give up lists like http://top.searchyc.com/comments_by_points and http://top.searchyc.com/users_by_average_points_per_comment .

points by blhack 1 day ago replies      
Points should stay:

If a post has a lot of points on it, it's telling people that they should be paying attention. For instance, (and this may have been after the points disappeared, but the example still works) the other day when ioerror came into the thread that was talking about him getting harassed at airports. I don't know who ioerror is, but points allow people to call my attention to his posts, more so than just voting them to the top of the hierarchy.

I've learned a lot reading comments here over the last 3 years. Lack of showing points makes it harder to discern what I should pay attention to. A good comparison might be book reviews. If I get on amazon and search "iOS4 development", I'll get tons of results, but when a book has 200 5 star reviews, it helps me decide that that is the one I should read.

This is true even if the books are all free.

Don't get lost in the idea that everybody here is a seasoned veteran who knows everything about everything and can easily judge a post's merit based on its content. It's less true for me now than it was three years ago, but it was (and still is) helpful to be able to look to the community to help me know what I should be paying attention to.

points by michaelochurch 1 day ago replies      
I think the scores should appear to a user after (A) that person votes, or (B) 24 hours. Keeping the karma hidden to a user until he or she votes is, IMO, a good idea.

I'd actually argue for keeping the text color the same at 0 or -1, for the same reason.

I don't know that these "contentious exchanges" happen in practice. I remember that a year or two ago, there was the discussion of whether people with high average ratings deserve to have their names appear in orange, and my thought then was that making a fetish of karma averages discourages nested discussions, since root-set comments can end up at 20+, but 6th-level comments, no matter how insightful, are unlikely to get more than a single upvote.

points by Terry_B 1 day ago replies      
I thought it was working well without points until this morning.

With this ASK HN post (http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=2444709
) about the best credit card payment method I would typically immediately go and look at the comment scores.

Because a vote for a comment is typically a vote for the thing being recommended.

It's really a "poll-like" question except it can't be a poll because the OP doesn't know the options in advance.

Other than that one problem though,I found I was judging people's comments more thoughtfully without the scores.

points by skennedy 1 day ago replies      
Without. The lack of points make me look closer at the content rather than group think of a post. Even if briefly, a brand new comment is at the top of a thread. Unless I read it there is no way of knowing the quality in comparison to other comments. Would be interesting to know if the average karma per post is going up/down for those that have been around for a while.
points by staunch 1 day ago replies      
The problem is I feel no feedback for voting, so I've stopped doing it.

If I could see the points after I vote I would probably vote even more than before.

points by mcav 1 day ago replies      
Maybe making it a coarser indicator would give the best of both worlds... maybe a colored indicator (or grey dot) with color/darkness indicating how many upvotes.
points by m0nastic 1 day ago replies      
Not to try and "King Solomon" it, but couldn't you make it a user profile option to display comment points?

Personally, I think it's better now that they are not displayed, but if it reverts back to displaying them, I'd be happy to just not have to see them myself, regardless if other's want to.

points by entangld 1 day ago replies      
HN isn't only opinions. It also gives advice. How would you HNers who don't like points get advice in an area you know nothing about? What indicators would you use? Whatever sounds the best? Seeing a cumulative score of the opinions of intelligent users helps me.

Perhaps some of you know much more than me and don't need to learn anything. I'm not in that boat. HN helps me learn how other entrepreneurs think and what they think about areas that I'm moving into. This isn't reddit. This is a serious forum and seeing which advice gets the most upvotes helps me tremendously.

points by ElbertF 1 day ago replies      
• I'd like to at least get some feedback when I vote, now my vote seems to just disappear into a black hole. Perhaps make the arrow orange after I click it (or simply a tick, " voted)?

• It feels pointless to upvote the only comment in a thread, it doesn't affect anything unless more comments are posted (again, lack of feedback).

• I often can't tell if a comment is any good (e.g. an answer to a scientific question), points really helped here.

points by india 1 day ago replies      
This is a nightmare. Please end this. There are 201 comments in this thread at this moment. I am not interested in reading 201 comments about this experiment. I am however very much interested in seeing what the top few most insightful comments in this thread are. That is a very important signal. Right now I am feeling blind as a bat...
points by anigbrowl 1 day ago replies      
With. [EDIT: oops, deleted half my post] If something stupid only has a couple of points in a busy thread, then I know there's no need to respond with a passionate denunciation of the obvious. Likewise, if something I disagree with has a ton of upvotes, perhaps it's me that's stupid and I should think carefully before starting an argument. Sure, it's flawed, but so's every other approach.

If you want to get real results, I think you need to start doing randomized trials of different users, showing karma to some and not to others to see whether it results in a change of behavior. Of course, you probably need to warn people about this in advance.

BTW, there seems to be a little bug wherein clicking on a comment or poll option no longer updates. I had to refresh to see whether my vote had taken or not, although the - correctly disappears.

points by makmanalp 1 day ago replies      
What is the use case for seeing the points on a comment anyway?

All you need to know is that the comments on the toppish are the best ones, and as you scroll down you can stop reading whenever you feel like it's gotten too bad.

I find that without points I'm definitely more focused on the content and are less likely to consciously / subconsciously groupthink.

points by sosuke 1 day ago replies      
I seem to prefer HN without points because it forces me to actually look closer at the content instead of just skimming for the big numbers.
points by joshhart 1 day ago replies      
Maybe you could have a color range indicating roughly how good the comment was? I like the feedback a lot the numbers gave but I think hiding the actual numbers would be a good thing so people don't play the numbers game too much.
points by tokenadult 1 day ago replies      
I think, based on the small subset of threads I have sampled by a convenience procedure, that not displaying minute-by-minute comment scores avoids the cognitive illusion human beings suffer from called anchoring bias



and helps readers focus on the inherent worth of a comment. That's my general observation from seeing which comments are floating up or down in threads and which comments are graying out.

points by dkersten 1 day ago replies      
I've been getting more upvotes since the scores were hidden. Maybe my comments were better, or maybe groupthink was holding people back, but either way, my karma has increased wince the scores were hidden, so.. I'm all for keeping it how it is. :-D

Seriously, though, I kinda like it without scores, because I don't get inadvertently suckered into voting to go along with the crowd (I try not to anyway, but sometimes it happens without thinking about it), while now I only vote if I feel the comment needs it (ie, the comment is very relevant and informative (up vote) or off topic/rude/irrelevant (down vote)).

points by antirez 1 day ago replies      
I was for not displaying points initially, but after a few days of using the site in this way I'm for displaying the points again. The strongest reasons are:

1) It is harder to scan for good content.
2) Even if I want to read everything, when my knowledge about something is too weak to evaluate the real value of a comment, I can no longer use the wisdom of the crowd to make an idea.
3) Sometimes to resonate with a comment like a question like "Please can you point me to the source code?" the best thing to do is to upvote, so that it is easy for people willing to reply to evaluate if the effort is forth it. There are many instances of this case.

So all in all it was better with points IMHO even if there are advantages without points.

points by random42 1 day ago replies      
I like HN without comment scores, because it avoids the bandwagon effect, also username biases become more important that the actual content, BUT comment score do solve an important problem, to highlight the quality of a comment, in a threaded discussion.

Solution - May be instead of say "37 points", mark it in a range, (say "20-50" points), to give some idea of the comment quality.


Even better, Show the percentile range for the comment, within the thread. (Say "80-90"%ile comment, would be better than a "40-50"%ile comment.)


Grade them ("A" - "E") for the thread comments.

points by lukeschlather 1 day ago replies      
I think HN would do well to look at how Slashdot scores its comments.

Especially, I think having a few pre-defined tags that people can give is very useful, and in many ways a lot more useful than votes. Votes, as many people have noted, are often off the cuff, and I'll give a +1 without too much thought. Calling someone insightful? A troll? I'm going to think about that a little harder.

So the big thing is increasing the average amount of time people spend before voting. Some AJAX trickery would be a little strong-armed. I think focusing on finding ways of filtering content that are more descriptive is a better direction to go. (Being more descriptive, I think, is the only way to force people to be more discerning.)

Though I don't mean to suggest precisely Slashdot's system. The tags should be carefully chosen. "factually incorrect" would be a nice one to have. (And is a little less insulting than "troll," making no assumptions about the intentions of the author.)

points by cookiecaper 1 day ago replies      
I'm late to the party so I doubt this will be read by many. I just want to say that I've found the experience in the last few days without a displayed score really interesting, both as a reader and a commenter.

My voting decisions in the past were based on the metric "How many points does this deserve?" If I found a good comment with 0-3 points, I was sure to vote up, and if I found a bad comment with 4+ I was sure to vote down. Normal comments or comments that had scores that were roughly where I thought they should be would be ignored.

I'm generally relatively sparse with the votes, but I've been voting a bit more actively since the counters were removed, and as someone whose voting habits are dictated by the score, it's been really interesting to go "blind" for a while. At the very least, I'd like to see this continue for a while longer, and perhaps finally wind up as a configuration option that each user can toggle based on his/her preference.

points by thekevan 1 day ago replies      
I prefer points on comments. I commented about this elsewhere:


A couple reasons. If I am not totally familiar with whatever the original post is talking about, often the top rated couple of comments give me some good insight or jumping off points to look into it further. Again if this is something that is new to me, it gives me a hint that the poster(s) of these comments know what they are talking about as opposed to a comment rated at -3 which seems ordinary to me but maybe has a hidden agenda I have not seen. (An example of this could be a comment saying--and let's pretend I know nothing about domain registrars--"I recommend GoDaddy because they respect wildlife on a corporate level and have family friendly advertising." I know that is a crock but if it were about a Rails hosting company or a feature of node.js I would not.)

I respect the HN community and have learned a lot here. I generally trust their judgement and I have found if a comment is rated highly, it most likely adds a lot of value to the discussion. (Unlike on reddit where the top couple comments may be a clever joke or inside reference to the community--but that is okay because I read the two sites for different purposes.)

Sometimes I disagree with the highest rated comment(s) and sometimes those comments have a bunch of replies from other HNers stating their agreement. I then see my opinion is in a minority and maybe I re-examine it or stand firm and make a comment to the contrary.
Basically it is a nice guide in my perusal of this site. It is not absolute but I like to use it as a reference.

points by jonmc12 1 day ago replies      
Ideally, I'd like the voting history - both upvotes and downvotes in a little sparkline (or at least the %). That can tell me more about the comment than upvotes alone.

If there will be no points on comments, it would be very beneficial to have some kind of indicator on the comment that it has 2-3 std deviations of votes above the average comment on the thread.

points by greendestiny 1 day ago replies      
I'm not sure. I definitely prefer to read with points on. I find it hard to skim a comment thread now, and I have no idea what the community thinks of particular points of view.

As for what it does for the community there hasn't really been time to judge. I've seen a lot less of the usual suspects coming in saying the same the things they always say because they know it'll be highly upvoted.

Could there be a keep it for now option?

points by gommm 1 day ago replies      
I think it would be a good idea to keep it for another week or two so that we can all get used to it first.

The advantage I can see from not having points is that I spend more time actually reading the comments and not be influenced by the majority here.

The disadvantage is that I lose a bit of information when there's a comment with scientific content in which case I like to look at votes to see if it's correct.

I agree with some people to show the points in topics that are more than 2 days old...

points by notJim 1 day ago replies      
One thing I don't understand (I'm relatively new, I guess): are comments in a thread sorted according to upvotes?

If they are, my vote is for without points, because then I can still skim, but I won't have these numbers to focus on.

points by WiseWeasel 19 hours ago replies      
I totally understand why the karma is kept hidden, to avoid herding votes, but I also really miss the access to the HN community barometer. I placed great value in the information contained in those vote tallies, and it hurts to have that taken away completely.

A compromise would be for voting to be disabled on all threads after x days, with vote tallies being displayed at that point.

If you guys want to fancy it up, you could have a button at the bottom of the page that says, "OK, I'm done voting now, please show me the tallies", and the voting buttons would disappear, and tallies would appear in their place; and you'd only have to keep track of x days worth of user thread status flags before you can purge the data.

Also, the vote tally could be displayed for a post once you've voted on it.

points by kmfrk 1 day ago replies      
I am glad that pg managed to remove the karma display while making it clear what comments are below 1 karma, so you don't downvote someone beyond what is reasonable.

I also get the impression that it's affected the discussions for the better.

points by sliverstorm 1 day ago replies      
I kind of like the feel of the site since, but I don't love how hard it is to wade through comments now. Have you considered collapsible comment threads, ala reddit or slashdot? I know this place doesn't want to turn into either, but as the comment volume goes up it seems like a better and better idea.
points by pavlov 20 hours ago replies      
PG, can you tell us if hiding the points has reduced the number of up/downvotes being given globally on the entire site? (IOW, has karma growth across all users slowed down noticeably?)

My personal feeling is that I don't click the upvote button nearly as often as I did before.

When the tally was displayed, my vote had an instant visible effect. Without that small gratification, voting feels less meaningful.

points by anateus 1 day ago replies      
I think a poll isn't the best way to decide this issue. After all the problem you're trying to fix is the greater number of low-quality comment, i.e. those who provide low-quality comments outnumber those who provide high-quality comments. Thus, it is not unreasonable that the low-quality commenters would select the option that enables them the most.
points by Evgeny 1 day ago replies      
Often, when the discussion is related to the field I'm not knowledgeable in, the points are very useful to me.

Simplified example: if I know nothing about security, but I can see that the comment "Emailing passwords in plaintext is wrong" is heavily upvoted, and "Emailing passwords in plaintext is not an issue" is downvoted, it helps me learn things.

points by philfreo 1 day ago replies      
"With", simply because I'm often too busy or lazy to read entire threads and just want to see the "best" comments.

I'd be okay with hiding the numbers but having some other indicator which could accomplish the same goal.

points by barista 1 day ago replies      
Stop groupthink. Please don't show points on comments.
points by anigbrowl 1 day ago replies      
I prefer HN with points displayed on comments.
1168 points

I prefer HN without points displayed on comments. 989 points

Ah, welcome my creatures of the night. You have brought victory after a close contest. Seriously, it is interesting that early evening USA saw an almost perfect 50-50 split (384-382 at 9pm PST), but as daytime moves west across Asia towards Europe, there's been a strong trend towards points.

Paul, this might be worth exploring in more depth, breaking out by age or timezone for example.

points by mrjbq7 1 day ago replies      
I'd recommend adding an "Undecided: let the experiment continue" option.
points by spicyj 1 day ago replies      
Ironically, I'm actually voting much more than before; perhaps because I'm reading more comments in depth, perhaps because I can't feel like a comment already has its "proper" score. Either way, I like the new way. (Perhaps show points after a few days or weeks, though.)
points by msg 1 day ago replies      
It's been said a few times on the thread but I'm not willing to read the entire thing just to upvote rather than comment. Here is the problem:

It's been said a few times on the thread but I'm not willing to read the entire thing just to find the nuggets among the blather. Here is the problem:

It's been said a few times on the thread but I'm not an expert on everything and I'm not willing to halt my day and gain the background to fairly judge the veracity of every comment on the threads I'm interested in. In fact, I'm fairly likely to miss a counterintuitive point or chance to think deeper.

Was this comment too verbose? I don't know because I only skimmed it while I was reading this enormous thread.

points by Locke1689 1 day ago replies      
I think no comment points is fine, but in the case where there are no points I think you need to have a more accurate comment ranking system on the page. While having gravity to pull comments down is perfectly reasonable when points are displayed (because users can still look at the points and pick out old but valuable comments), without points the most important indication of comment quality is based on the ordering on comments.

Also, perhaps it would be useful to still display comment points in single-view? It would prevent eye-balling a comment, but would still allow you to view a comment score with a little extra effort.

I am aware this could provide preferential treatment to comments already on the top of the page but with the influx of new users the most important thing to prevent is a deluge of mediocre comments, not necessarily the dearth of exceptional comments.

points by jarin 1 day ago replies      
I think it would be useful to see the number of upvotes and the number of downvotes instead of the total score (or possibly a percentage instead of a hard number). That way, you can see whether a comment is at -2 points because it's bad, or if it's at -2 points because it's controversial.
points by russell 20 hours ago replies      
Make the display of points optional. I find them useful in finding comments to look at on long discussions. I use upvotes to signal interesting comments, but I rarely do it on comments that have large upvotes. Now I am inclined not to upvote. I guess to remain consistent, I should upvote comments only at the end of the discussion.

I find that I miss the points on other sites, why couldnt they have a way to uplift comments so I could see through the cruft.

pg, while you are at it, could you fix the size and spacing of the up/down arrows. I never downvote. When I accidentally hit downvote, I have doubalely penalized the commenter, once for the downvote and once again for the upvote I intended to give.

points by davi 1 day ago replies      
I immediately liked the change. I realize now that in addition to evaluating the comments I was reading, I was also evaluating the readership's collective response to the comments. It makes for better reading to only evaluate one thing at a time.
points by richardw 1 day ago replies      
I think it's great. It makes people slow down and consider the discussion instead of being guided by those who have seen it earlier. That reduces the impact of the first-to-vote.

Essentially, it makes each vote more independent.

points by vacri 1 day ago replies      
The solution is simple: display capped votes.

- 'good' results get shown for the cap, and from experience on other such sites, upvotes slow down once it hits the cap anyway
- 'bad' results show as well, as someone already said, sometimes a comment needs to be downmodded to oblivion, other times it just needs that slight rebuke and you don't want to downmod more.

Caps of +/-10 are enough to point out 'this comment is worthy of more attention', and will help avoid that problem where a popular opinion draws a hundred upvotes where a mere insightful opinion draws only a score.

points by afhof 1 day ago replies      
I think the bigger problem is that highly rated comments below the first comment are pushed out by replies to the first.
points by allwein 1 day ago replies      
The consensus points I'm reading are:

I miss knowing whether a comment will be good and worthwhile to read or not.

I miss the points because I use them to search/filter/etc.

I'm being more thoughtful in reading comments because I don't have the points anchoring or influencing my opinion.

I'm being more thoughtful in the comments I write.

On the whole, it's sounding like the change is bad for individual users, but good for the HN ecosystem in general.

points by natch 1 day ago replies      
If points count, then I want to see them.

But there's a bigger problem, as long as points matter for anything: Early comments, even fairly inane ones, have an overwhelming point advantage over late comments, even fairly good ones.

points by DanielStraight 1 day ago replies      
Asking people what they want isn't necessarily the best way to give them what they want. Remember the Henry Ford line, "If I had asked people what they wanted, they would've said faster horses." PG has mentioned this before as well in response to requests for UI improvement on HN. I don't remember the exact words, but people were saying things like, "If there was any other site that had the quality of HN and better UI, I would go there," and PG's reply was that the reason the was no site that had the same quality and better UI is because he spends time worrying about quality instead of worrying about UI.
points by dave1619 1 day ago replies      
I think a bigger question is how do you create order when a thread gets to 100+ comments like this one. I personally get lost and stop reading comments on long threads. But there's a wealth of good conversation going. It just gets harder and harder to pinpoint them as comments increase.
points by duck 1 day ago replies      
Mini-poll: Has everyone noticed how polls don't get very many upvotes? Many of them tend to get a ton of actual poll "votes", but not upvotes. I have always felt like if you are going to vote for a item you should give the poll a vote as well.
points by johnfn 1 day ago replies      
I've been noticing that the poll tilts in favor of the highest comment on the page. 'Without' used to be slightly ahead when edw519 (for example) was on top; now that a post more in favor of the points is on top 'with points' is nearly 100 points ahead.

I guess that in some ways it's hard to be completely unbiased.

As for my own opinion, I want to echo that no points are fine as long as we see some sort of gradation of quality. Maybe just >10, >50, >100 is necessary. It doesn't have to be too complicated.

points by rsbrown 1 day ago replies      
Beware the results of polls such as this. Any time change is introduced, we know that some people will naturally react negatively. When asked what they prefer, people will often give an explicit response even though their "espoused theory" may differ greatly from their "theory in use": http://www.lopn.net/TheoryofAction.html

Not to say these polls aren't valuable, just take them with the requisite serving of salt.

EDIT: In the interest of full disclosure, I strongly support the new "no display" points.

points by mattdeboard 11 hours ago replies      
There seems to be significantly more downvoting going on now. Worthwhile, constructive comments are being downvoted to the bottom of the page and I know that I personally am having very old comments downvoted for seemingly no reason whatsoever. What is going on?
points by 6ren 1 day ago replies      
For the case where scores are used to measure agreement: a special kind of vote comment (like polls for submissions), to express agreement/disagreement.

A checkbox for whether you want your comment to be voted on, or evaluated. This is displayed, so HNers know how to treat it.
A "poll" comment doesn't count towards karma

points by blahblahblah 14 hours ago replies      
Whether displayed or not, the points never really contained any useful information about the quality of a post. The ability to dispassionately evaluate an argument solely on the basis of whether it is logically consistent, based upon a reasonable interpretation of fact, and skillfully written without letting your personal biases enter into the evaluation is a skill that most people (sadly) do not possess. The reality is that most people will upvote posts that agree with their own worldview or appeal to their sense of humor and relentlessly downvote any viewpoint they personally disagree with, even when well-presented and logically consistent. Comment points only provide information about what is popular. Groupthink virtually guarantees that the point system is incapable of distinguishing between useless garbage and expressions that are both heretical and true.
points by fname 1 day ago replies      
I'm sure it's been brought up before, but what about only displaying comments either above or below a certain threshold. For example, hide the points on a comment once it's above 4.

Or show points after someone has upvoted or downvoted a comment?

points by fuzzythinker 1 day ago replies      
I mostly like no points displayed, but with one exception - comments that provides information you are unsure of trusting or not, and there hasn't been replies to it yet. (eg. scythe's recommendation on domain registrar [1]). In order to have better information on the post's trustworthiness, I had to click on the user's link. I guess we'll need to wait to see how much other nuances for this no points display.

[1] http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=2445061

points by mediaman 1 day ago replies      
The majority will likely state they prefer to see points, because people will systematically underestimate the (negative) influence the data have on their decision making, much like people cannot accurately estimate their own ability to drive cars with above average skill.

Paul, in making the judgment, if even a third of voters think points shouldn't be displayed, it is a strong indicator that that's the right thing to do, because there is no countering cognitive bias that would cause people to state that they want less information.

points by larsberg 1 day ago replies      
On the upside, I spend a lot less time looking at the HN comments. I used to scroll down, looking for insightful comments within otherwise low-ranked threads or in a sea of trite comments. Now, I can't distinguish them, so I don't even look past the top-ranked reply and the top comment or two.

Not having points displayed has probably given me ten minutes a day of my life back :-) Though I can't say that I prefer it that way.

points by 3am 1 day ago replies      
I'm not in a YC startup, and I don't seek to start one. So take it with a grain of salt... the tone here has been better in the short time without points.

I think some of the personality types that YC attracts do poorly in a civil discussions where there is a (public) competitive element.

points by johnrob 1 day ago replies      
I feel like part of a firehose when commenting on this thread, but I'll quickly add my 2 cents:

How about showing points for top level comments (those whose parent is an actual posting). Any derivative comment has no visible score. This would help me parse the high level topics while still deflating most of the flame wars.

points by ern 1 day ago replies      
I think that visible point counts make it clearer what the norms of the community are to newcomers and reinforce them for other users.

Comments that fail to attract points (but are not downvoted) send a clear signal that something is not right. +1 would be an appropriate HN score for borderline snark, for example, that adds some insight, but doesn't aid the tone of the discussion. This sort of subtle signalling is lost when points are hidden.

points by godDLL 1 day ago replies      
As current poll results indicate we're torn.

On one hand, skimming the comments to see which are worth it to read is now denied. On the other hand, discussions seem to have improved, and more focus is on a comment's content and less on community appreciation of it, which makes an individual voice stand out more and not be drowned.

I like HN without comments, I just wish there was a way to tell which comments the community appreciates more, at a glance.

points by grandalf 1 day ago replies      
It's a nice improvement. There is nothing worse than writing a thoughtful comment and then seeing someone write a snarky reply that got more points than the thoughtful comment. It just causes bad energy.

I like how points are shown only for each user's own comments. This way it's a competition only with one's self.

points by codeup 22 hours ago replies      
I agree with the goal in not showing points. I think it works and the benefits outweigh the costs mentioned by others.

The quality of comments on HN has increasingly suffered from people behaving like in hives. Let the content of a comment decide if you agree, not the number of others who agree with the comment.

Similarly, let the content of comments in this thread have a say in the future of not showing points on comments, not just the number of votes for or against it.

points by danenania 1 day ago replies      
I really miss the points. I know it's superficial, but it added a form of engagement that is gone now.

What I don't understand is anyone getting worked up about the points one way or the other. To me it's just a meaningless, harmless, and somewhat fun diversion. Yet so many seem to take them seriously and get bent out of shape if they don't agree with people's votes. What difference does it make? Oh no, my post is light gray now! Oh no, a less than brilliant comment has a high number next it! Really? Just take a deep breath. It doesn't matter.

Despite all the grumbling, HN is still one of the best places to find interesting and intelligent discussions on the web, and despite the occasional flukes, votes are generally a good indicator of which posts in a long thread are most worth reading when there's limited time. I say don't fix what isn't broken!

points by jmatt 1 day ago replies      
I generally support not displaying points on comments. But I did run into a case where it would be useful to have some sort of feedback on a series of comments (even if it's just dots or some other non numerical indicator).

I was reading a recent post on the open-sourcing of some of Greplin's Lucene and Bloom filters code. sigil made a comment asking about performance based on how they implemented prefix matching. Then nostrademons responded[1]. When points were displayed it was trivial to get a consensus of whether the community agreed on the performance assessment or whether it was dubious/questionable. Since points are not visible I can't rely on the consensus of the community to help verify or make a decision. Instead I just have the posts and order of the posts. Which, of course, isn't necessarily bad. But has taken away my ability to use the HN community's consensus as verification.

[1] http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=2444585

points by OoTheNigerian 1 day ago replies      
I blogeed about it http://oonwoye.com/2010/09/25/angelgate-dave-mcclure-and-re-...

summary is below.

    Vote count should show up only after the discussion is no longer ‘hot' (say after a day). So people are not unnecessarily influenced by the upvotes by others

No down voting: So people will not lose karma just for having an opposing view. Not gaining, is not as bad as losing

points by jedwhite 11 hours ago replies      
People are social creatures. Things displaying votes are more likely to get upvotes. Without the display, the better comments are likely to get upvotes.
points by nitrogen 1 day ago replies      
I think some of my posts have received more upvotes without points than they would have with points displayed. I wonder if in general there has been more total upvoting without points, as people are simply expressing appreciation or agreement rather than trying to move posts toward a "fair" score (something I've done in the past).

It's difficult to say whether that's a good thing. Since the poll numbers look pretty close so far (though it's only been ~15 minutes as of this writing), maybe it should be an option.

points by teyc 1 day ago replies      
I felt the way you have put the comment in various shades better. The algorithm already sorts out what comments should float to the top. If people feel an answer is incorrectly placed, they can vote on it to fix it.

Point scoring: yes, it is a problem. HN "feels" somewhat nicer.

Further, there may be different reasons a comment may have been voted up:

1. The comment voted up is considered relevant

2. The reader agreed with the sentiment.

3. The comment was irrelevant, but was humorous.

Similarly, a comment may have been voted down because:

1. The comment was irrelevant.

2. The comment was relevant, but the reader disagreed with the point of view.

3. A polarising comment may end up with a net score of 0, but it is actually very relevant.

4. The comment was relevant, but was delivered in a brusque manner.

points by tt 1 day ago replies      
The problem HN is facing is a human-interaction problem of which hiding or showing points on comments won't solve. Sooner or later, problems with user experience will come about one way or the other.

I saw some other post about the Whirlpool Moderation forum (http://whirlpool.net.au/wiki/wp_modfaq) and thought the transparent moderation policy they have is pretty amazing. PG et al should at least research it and consider implementing something similar.

points by jasonlotito 1 day ago replies      
I like without points, but would still prefer some way to know the quality of the comment. Maybe some visual indication (both color and a symbol maybe) would help. Then we would know a comment has been rated higher than normal. Set a cutoff small enough to be useful in smaller threads (like 5 or 10 points), and leave it at that.
points by Goladus 1 day ago replies      
I thought I would hate not seeing points on comments, but I find it's been very refreshing. It's much rarer that I find myself annoyed at the number of people who have upvoted something stupid or ignored something insightful. I still see the points on my own comments, which is the important part.

My vote: definitely continue hiding the points. It takes focus away from the content.

points by hammock 22 hours ago replies      
One benefit of points displayed that is totally lost is the ability to compare the points of a comment with the /replies/ to it. This lets me get a general idea at a glance if a commenter was mistaken or incorrect or misinformed or whatever (this happens for example when a thread has one comment and one reply, and the reply has 100x more points than the comment)
points by faramarz 1 day ago replies      
I think it would be useful if the points were shown after a time delay. Throughout the day, I visit the same thread a dozen times and follow the discussions. It would be nice to gauge what the general consensus is by seeing the comment points upon the 3rd visit or so..

But to answer your poll, I voted for them to be hidden.

points by brg 1 day ago replies      
I prefer without comments, but would like some mechanism by which comment scores affect layout. It is often now difficult to process a large discussion, as high signal and low signal replies are indistinguishable.

For instance, having predefined threshold for collapsing to a title (5, 10, 50) or deep shading for >= + 10 comments would be very helpful in processing a large discussion.

points by smokinn 1 day ago replies      
What I used the scores for most was to know when to stop scrolling down when a story was highly commented. I would figure that if there are 100+ comments chances are any threads that start with an initial post < 10 are safe to skip.

Now though, I have very little info as to where I can "safely" stop. (Though I know I've gone too far if the font starts fading!)

points by 3pt14159 23 hours ago replies      
No one will probably read this, but please, please, please bring back the points score. I've been working on a hacker news crawler that rolls up facts about comments (user centric trends, etc) and without the points it will be very much limited.
points by dr_ 1 day ago replies      
Oddly the point system went off when I hit a karma of 250, making me think I was being punished in some way. Great to see that isn't the case.

Honestly, there are sometimes WAY too many comments to wade through, and I feel that comments with higher points have been vetted by the community, so I tend to focus on them. This isn't the case when there are just 10-12 comments, but with over 70 comments, the point system can be helpful.

To remove the system is to imply that the community can no longer be trusted to handle the sometimes contentious exchanges on their own. I hope that hasn't become the case.

points by bguthrie 1 day ago replies      
For what it's worth, I think it's been a big improvement. It forces me to focus more on the content of individual posts, it's made me more careful with my own allocation of points, and--I know this this fuzzy and subjective--I think it's improved the quality of discourse. Which ultimately is the only metric that really matters here.

Maybe that's just a temporary thing; people change their behavior when they know they're being observed. But I'd urge you to keep it for a little while longer.

I like the idea of a more coarse-grained system, perhaps one that uses font weight or shades of grey to emphasize and de-emphasize certain areas of the conversation, weighted perhaps towards the dialog around a particular comment rather than the comment itself. Perhaps over time that would come to suffer from the same problems as the last system. But hiding the algorithm allows you to readjust it before people have the chance to reverse-engineer and game it. Numerical point systems are useful sometimes, but they tend to activate humans' incentive structures in some really negative ways.

points by benreesman 1 day ago replies      
for years i've been very impressed with how well the original approach worked, and I tend to get downvoted a lot, being a bit of a troll now and again. I don't oppose a new approach, but I do think it is on the hook for compelling evidence of improvement. hacker news has aged well in the same way that the constitution has, considering Internet time.
points by leon_ 1 day ago replies      
I'd prefer no visible "karma" at all. Karma should define a comment's placing in the thread/a posts' placing on the main page - nothing more. No user karma.

Also no user nicknames - if we had a truly anonymous discussion culture there would be more interesting discussions and people wouldn't be afraid of posting controversial opinions.

points by wslh 1 day ago replies      
If I were you, In a few cases (10%) I would include random fake points to see what happen. Someone who has 2000 points showing as 20000 or 200 to see how the HN crowd react.
points by Groxx 1 day ago replies      
I'm going to toot my own horn: https://chrome.google.com/extensions/detail/hahhhdmfdgfiehpg...

I prefer them hidden until I don't want them to be hidden. It makes sense to hide them prior to voting, but I do like to see them sometimes - either after I vote, or on the comment's "link" page. But getting rid of the first, default display is nice once you get used to it.

points by CallMeV 1 day ago replies      
Perhaps this is a good thing. I consider it like this.

I well understand the idea of downvoting to express a response towards ugly, trolling and irrelevant comments. By downvoting, responders show trolls that their attitudes are not welcome.

However newbies such as I are often too scared to ask our questions, or to comment on something of interest, or indeed to contribute in any way, for fear of someone more experienced coming along and downvoting us.

As a system of control, to weed out the unhelpful while promoting helpful discussion, karma points were initially a useful tool. High karma scores indicated a valued contributor to the site.

However once the mindset of points farming settles in, as I suspect it has done here, the contribution ceases to matter in the rush to acquire more points, leading to a drop in quality and this competitive points scoring obsession. Delusion replaces reason and desire to contribute.

Doing without the points scoring could go some way to redirecting the focus on the items and the discussions stemming therefrom, rather than on the karma farming.

And that is my opinion.

points by pacifika 5 hours ago replies      
What about this:
Star the top X comments (configurable setting in user profile). I don't care how many points any comments have, but I do care about reading the best comments in a thread.
points by stuhacking 1 day ago replies      
Why not stop rendering HN pages in tables with inline formatting and render the page as a semantically structured document with a default style sheet. This will allow others to come along and restyle the site as they see fit. Don't like comment points? hidden. Post score is less than -4? hidden.

I personally don't understand the reasoning behind using tables as formatting and inline styles on a site whose content generally includes articles about web development.

points by ecuzzillo 1 day ago replies      
I'd be most interested to see whether hiding the scores changed voting behavior appreciably. Do stupid comments get upvoted more or less? It seems like that's the ultimate test, much more than whether people prefer it after trying it for a few days.
points by thenduks 1 day ago replies      
I use HN to hear about news and read interesting articles, and also to occasionally engage in conversation. Points on comments have absolutely no bearing on being able to do that, so I didn't even notice at first that they were gone.

It is handy to know the points of your own comments, which can help you adjust your behavior to fit in with community expectations -- but we haven't lost that ability, so I'm not even sure what 'cost' this poll is referring to.

points by SkyMarshal 22 hours ago replies      
I like it better without. I prefer not having the herd effect/anchoring effect of points pre-affecting my judgement of someone's content before I even read it.
points by wybo 19 hours ago replies      
It would be good if the data/information were at least available somewhere, such as through an API.

I must admit that as somebody studying social science of the internet, and interested in data in general, I might not be your typical user, but still...

points by swah 1 day ago replies      
One thing about points its I can pinpoint the "best" or most controversial comment quickly - if you can do that other way, for me its fine.
points by petercooper 1 day ago replies      
I voted up both as a sort of "abstain". At first, I hated it. Now, I think I might like it. It's stopped me from voting comments up and down so much but I think, perhaps, it discourages the wrong sort of people from voting but the right sort of people keep on doing it anyway. If that's true, it could be a big win.
points by jamesbkel 1 day ago replies      
I quickly scanned for another reference to this, but didn't see anything - pardon if a duplicate.

It seems that you can vote for both options. After I voted, the other choice still has the 'upvote arrow'. I didn't try to see if it worked since I don't want to vote for the other option.

Is this intended? I never noticed on any other polls, but maybe I just wasn't paying attention.

points by dpcan 23 hours ago replies      
Show me comment points after I've reached a karma threshold. If I have 2000 karma points, then comment points show up for me.
points by crystalis 1 day ago replies      
Without points, I mostly just read posts from users whose comments used to show a lot of points. Without points, that list only gets smaller for me.
points by yurifury 1 day ago replies      
I'd like some sort of indication of which posts are exceptionally high scoring. This would let people skim the comments if they aren't going to read them in-depth anyway, by signalling that maybe this one comment thread is actually a worthwhile read.
points by Ruudjah 1 day ago replies      
In 2000, having a guestbook on a website where you can post a message anonymously was the norm, spambots did not exist.

in 2005, the ability the reply using an account was the norm, where replies could be rated 1-5 (slashdot and the rest).

In 2010, upvoting messages by giving them points was the norm, which Digg started and Reddit perfected.

In 2015, labelling posts I think will be the norm. Users will get the ability to associate posts with labels, such as insightfull, funny, interesting, firstpost, nonsense, et cetera. Every post will get it's own tagcloud, the labels being associated a lot being bigger.

The problem with upovoting is that you only classify posts using a numeric value. A numeric value can only express a limited classification. It does not say anything more specific then "bad rated" (<1), "not rated" (1), "somewhat rated" (>1 <6), "good rated" (>5 <20), and "awesome" (>20). Other then that, it does not say anything useful.

points by joubert 1 day ago replies      
I find this interesting given the discussion yesterday about transparency about salaries.
points by jamesbkel 1 day ago replies      
Hopefully not adding to the noise, but wanted to specify my opinion beyond the simple Y/N of the poll. I like not knowing the precise point value, but I do agree - especially for large threads - that it is nice to have a way to quickly scan. I think that some sort of color coded could work, as several of the other posts suggest.
points by nickconfer 23 hours ago replies      
I voted for with points, but I think there really should have been a third option.

The main reason I like points is it helps tell me what comments are worthy of me spending time to read when a story has 50+ comments.

So without points, I think you still need a way to show what is valuable and worth reading for the most popular stories. There are a couple ways to do this.

One option would be to personalize what comments are deemed important to me. For instance if I go and up vote pg comments, then when I go to another story and theres a pg comment it should give me a mark to let me know this comment will probably be of value to me. Another user might visit the same story and down-rate your comment because they don't like it. Thats fine, in the future, your comments probably won't be displayed prominently for them in this case.

This moves away from the group-think mentality of what is valuable to an individuals preference, which I think is more valuable and provides a less contentious exchange platform.

points by instcode 1 day ago replies      
I think a user content generated community where huge number of people participate needs an explicit feedback system. We all want to learn from the good sources and filter out what aren't worthy and we need a way to distinguish them. If you think the point rating system isn't good, it doesn't necessarily mean we don't need it.

Here is my suggestion: How about we use the absolute points to rank a comment in a different scale, such as if a comment collects enough a number of point, it will be ranked as 1 star, then 2 stars... and so on. In this way of rating, we not only get what we want but also not to follow "group thinking" as someone said in this thread.

points by Kisil 1 day ago replies      
How about separating "quality" and "agreement" into separate scores?

While it complicates the interface, it would be much more useful for both authors and readers. It naturally leads to measuring controversy - the most interesting comments would be those with high quality and mixed agreement. Having a sense of HN's opinion would direct posts towards areas of maximum contribution. It would also re-direct some of the pile-on upvoting from low quality but obvious/funny/mean/etc. comments, so they could drop down the page despite having some appeal.

Some example cases:
a) I may agree with the snarky comment that calls out someone's obvious mistake, but I can simultaneously downvote for snark.
b) I may disagree with someone's analysis of the iOS vs Android market battle, but I can now register my disagreement while acknowledging that the poster made a good point.
c) I made a comment that came off as means-pirited, though that wasn't my intent. The quality downvotes are an unambiguous message, which I can't just write off with "I guess HN disagrees."

points by gojomo 1 day ago replies      
I'd prefer an experiment in 2-axis voting. The up/down karma points need not be displayed per comment, but the new right/left agree/disagree totals would be intended-to-be-displayed-per-comment. More details here:


points by Tangaroa 21 hours ago replies      
My problem with showing the point score is that it can lead to a share of the score being due to popularity rather than quality. Some people will uprate comments that they might otherwise consider too marginal to uprate, if they see that everyone else is uprating that comment. More commonly, moderators are also readers and will only want to read the highest valued comments if they are short on time, and then these become the only comments that they issue any ratings for.

Even without point scores, a comment's relative score can still be inferred from the system floating high-scoring comments to the top while comments with negative scores are displayed in a shade of gray. Readers are given hints to what the community currently considers valuable, but moderators have to read the comment to be sure.

points by w1ntermute 1 day ago replies      
More importantly than hiding points, I think names should be visible on mouseover only. There's truly no need to see the username before reading the contents; rather, you should look to see who wrote a particularly good comment after having read it.
points by Tiomaidh 1 day ago replies      
My gut reaction is to keep them, but I think that's just because I don't like change.

If you do decide to drop them, it might be nice if something different was done for the time-displaying. I keep thinking the minute count in the comment header (pg 22 minutes ago | link) refers to points (pg 22 points [random text] | link). I still feel like jerf's comment (9 minutes ago) has more points than skennedy's (4 minutes ago), even though I know it's not actually true.

Although I'd probably get used to it within a month--it's just an annoying thing during the transition.

points by burke 1 day ago replies      
Without. I don't want to have to read the whole comment thread to get the HN Zeitgeist.

What if it was an option? Or better yet, something like "Hold Ctrl to see comment scores", or "hover here to see the score for this comment", etc.?

Seeing comment scores is massively valuable to the way I consume HN -- skimming the article, then reading the top-rated 2-5 comments.

points by latch 1 day ago replies      
I want points gone, but I want something more generic to take their place to filter out useless comments. The ordering doesn't work because 1 - it often doesn't differentiate between a 50 point comment and a 2 point comment, and it doesn't handle useless comments which is a child of a popular comment.
points by gbelote 1 day ago replies      
I like comments without, I find myself focusing more on what's being said than skipping over folks with significantly less comments.

I've read criticisms about not being able to quickly/easily filter out top comments (which I care about, too). But there might be other (better?) ways of achieving that without reverting back to scored comments. For example, coloring/annotating comments that cross a certain threshold (either an absolute number, or relative to the other comments in the post). The advantage of color is that it becomes easier to visually filter out highly voted comments.

points by skm 1 day ago replies      
I vote to remedy imbalances:

  valuable && low points => upvote
valuable && high points => read, no need to upvote

Does anyone else do this?

points by Vivtek 1 day ago replies      
I'm starting to think I like it better without comments. Although if without, then I'd prefer those dots that showed up for a couple of hours on frequently upvoted comments. I really do like a skim option.
points by rooshdi 1 day ago replies      
Hmmm, both options do seem to have their pros and cons in the current layout of the comment system. You may want to keep displaying comments without points but also try splitting the comment section into two parallel parts: A "Top Comments" column on the left side and a "New Comments" column on the right. This will highlight newer comments at the top longer and may encourage more readers to comment and reply to those while still showcasing the top comments of a story on the opposing left side for those who wish to skim real quick.
points by entangld 1 day ago replies      
It seems people who don't want points displayed are trying to evoke a feeling.

I want points for one reason and one reason only. So I can tell which piece of advice people agree with.

points by samstokes 1 day ago replies      
For the same reasons (presumably) as leaving the scores off comments, might it have made for a more representative poll to hide the scores on the poll options?
points by hboon 1 day ago replies      
Give it another week or two. Then poll again. It's too soon to conclude, both for people who may take time to get used to it, as well as people who don't visit HN that often (but still regularly).
points by BasilAwad 1 day ago replies      
How about showing comment points after a set period of time? I can see the value of not showing points on current submissions, but I was frustrated when I was trying to skim older topics.
points by marklabedz 1 day ago replies      
While I appreciate the idea of logarithmic scales and other advanced formulas for accumulating points, how about a simple threshold for displaying the points on each comment? For instance, no points are displayed until a comment is +5 or -2?
points by sambe 1 day ago replies      
HN doesn't want either comments-solely-for- or voting for agreement or disagreement. Yet that is what a lot of people want to express. Perhaps it is more useful to have agree & disagree buttons, and the comments interest value is the total votes in either direction. Offensive/troll comments could still be flagged to separate them from comments which are largely disagreed with.
points by Jebdm 1 day ago replies      
A better way to do this experiment would be to have half of threads show comment scores, and half not.
points by dkeskar 1 day ago replies      
Unless I am mistaken, there are two changes: a) no points display and b) no downvote arrow for many of us. Both are good.

There used to be many responses triggered by consternation over downvotes. This way, most people can only upvote iff they resonate with the comment, without the possibility of jumping on a bandwagon (or trying to derail one)

Suggestion: Moving the comment box to the bottom would nudge people to scan the thread before responding, duplicating, etc.

points by brendano 1 day ago replies      
How about, display a discretized form of points? -- e.g. high, medium, and low, with unknown thresholds (that may be changed through time or whatever).

Can still use them as a heuristic for filtering, but the details and possibly divisive aspects of worrying about minute differences are hidden.

points by oscardelben 8 hours ago replies      
Why not making it an option?
points by huhtenberg 1 day ago replies      
Perhaps make this a configurable option and keep them hidden by default?
points by palehose 1 day ago replies      
Upvoting a comment should signify that I agree with what the author is writing, not that I want that comment to have more karma points. I don't care how many upvotes a comment gets if the people who are upvoting it are not people I agree with.

It would be more helpful if there was a lingering effect to agreeing with someone instead of just giving someone a karma point increment. Lets say that I upvoted zzyzx's comment, and based on that upvote, I am able to see a thumbs up on other comments that zzyzx upvoted, indicating that people who I agree with, agreed with that comment.

points by tedkimble 1 day ago replies      
My biggest complaint of the recent changes is that it appears to have broken the hckr news Chrome extension, which added new comment highlighting. For me this is one of those features that I never knew I wanted, but now that it is gone I can't remember how I browsed HN without it.

As for the point displays, I want them to be there, but I think HN will be better off without them displayed.

points by user24 1 day ago replies      
One thing I'll say is that if 'without points' is kept, please change the arrow UI. It's now impossible to tell if you accidentally downvoted someone.

I like it sans-points over-all though.

points by shawndumas 1 day ago replies      
Having a bit of aspergers I am seldom able to interpret feedback.

HN has been such a shelter of safety for me because of the clear (in comparison) and immediate feedback.

points by eam 1 day ago replies      
How about if points are hidden for the first 2 hours or so after a story is submitted? This way initially there wont be any bias on the comments, and eventually we can see the comments that are the most meaningful.
points by goblin89 1 day ago replies      
Seems like it could be made either
a) easier to read / skim through comments ---with points shown, or
b) easier to cast a fair vote, and thus contribute to HN ---with points hidden.

Thinking of it this way, maybe we should have two different modes--- ‘quick reading', with points shown and voting disabled, and ‘contribution', with points hidden and voting enabled.

Wait, I know it complicates things a bit, but it makes sense. Look:

- If you do read everything carefully and don't rely on crowd's opinion, then you don't need points anyway and you can well contribute to HN by voting justly. Use ‘contribution' mode.

- If you usually read HN in a hurry, thus you shouldn't be tempted to vote. Use ‘quick reading' mode.

The weakest point here is changing mode. Don't know how frequently people switch between ‘skimming' and ‘contribution' mode while reading HN… If not often, then maybe it makes sense to place a switch on the user's settings page. (Maybe with contribution mode disabled for noobs.)

points by mdg 1 day ago replies      
There are quite a few people here who are suggesting pg make it an option. While that would make everyone happy, it wouldn't solve the problem; people who vote based off points will continue to do so.
points by clark-kent 1 day ago replies      
Show HN and Ask HN are two good reasons why we need comment points. Comment points provides raw data to know how many people agree/disagree, like/hate a technology or topic.

In a post with 100+ comments, the points makes it easy to parse the various threads and conversations going on.

points by volida 1 day ago replies      
As long as there are points, and comments are sorted by popularity, not showing the points, I don't see how it can mitigate the problem of people trying to game the system.

If it is somehow measurable who is trying to do so, in obvious way, in some automated way and if this activity is at a level that affects the rest, then the user could be somehow penalized off that karma gained. Nevertheless this is democracy, so I would only expect this behaviour being penalized only if it really affects other in some measurable way, so that the community could approve penalizing users who are trying to advantage of lack of automated moderation.

The contrary could be done i.e. instead of penalizing users who are suspectable in such behaviour, preferably award recursively to each comment in the same thread more points, therefore the commenters who are 'legit' are awarded. Therefore, add a category of comment points named 'HN ponts' which are awarded automatically by the system.

points by mcantor 1 day ago replies      
It would have been funny if no one could see the point total for the options on this poll itself.
points by maddalab 1 day ago replies      
I skim through the points, both on stories and discussions to decide which ones to read. As the size of the community has grown, I believe, probably mistakenly, that the points are more closely related to domain names on submissions and user names on comments, rather than the quality of the comment.

I tend to read some comments based on user names, irrespective of the points, for a few users, raganwald being one, primarily because I have read pretty much everything he has written and find it interesting more often than not. Even in cases where his comments has garnered few points, I have found the comment worth while. So I can understand the tendency to up vote comments based on user names.

Having said that, I vote for display of points and the hiding of user names. I would like comments to stand up for themselves rather than for the user posting the comments.

points by nhangen 1 day ago replies      
I hate not seeing it, which is why I think it's important to keep hiding them for a while. I find that I actually judge a comment by how I feel about it, rather than what the community feels about it, which is nice.
points by markokocic 1 day ago replies      
I would prefer if HN would let me configure if I want to see points or not.
points by sixtofour 22 hours ago replies      
When I'm skimming comments on a front page post, name and points help me zero in on things I'm more likely to find interesting or useful.
points by tuhin 1 day ago replies      

-Display points after one has upvoted/downvoted a comment

- Have a quota of votes in any thread so a user has say 5 votes to spend in a new post (may increase with karma)

points by blantonl 1 day ago replies      
What is the algorithm that determines where a comment ranks in the hierarchy from top to bottom? It appears that there is more to it than just points.
points by kschua 1 day ago replies      
I use the points on the comments to sift make a quick decision whether I should read a particular comment.

As a compromise between your goal of people scoring points, maybe a scale might be good?

For example,

0 - 100

100 - 300


Edited: for formatting

points by breathesalt 1 day ago replies      
Even if the difference only amounts in cosmetics, I still would prefer HN without points displayed on comments. Hopefully though, it will place an emphasis on the message--you can always intuit its popularity by its position.
points by wowamit 1 day ago replies      
The points would make sense if I could sort by upvotes received for a comment. As long as that is not the case, I prefer it with comments displayed without points.
points by gcb 1 day ago replies      
after removing the points on the comments, my comments bashing HN or Apple stopped being a consistent -1 to 3~7 (i post when the thread is already late)
points by niels 1 day ago replies      
I prefer HN with points initially hidden, but displayed after a while. This way ratings are not as susceptible to group think.
points by adrianwaj 1 day ago replies      
Well, if you could at least do a "display:none" on the points, at least hackerbrain would show the points. I'm sure those points are used by derivative sites during parsing. Can you please put them in the html?
points by logjam 21 hours ago replies      
Why not allow the user to choose?
points by VB6_Foreverr 1 day ago replies      
What would be an interesting experiment would be no points and no name displayed. Let the comment rise or fall purely on its own merits rather than the rep of its author. It seems to me that some people need only to cough to get karma
points by mshron 1 day ago replies      
What about an experiment? PG could take a few dozen people he wants to be exemplars for the community, pick some semi-popular articles before and after the change, and ask the test subjects to rate which article had better comments. For best results, only pair people with articles they haven't read.

Myself, I didn't even realize how strong the group-think effect was until the comments were turned off. It feels like there's more substance now, but I might just be reading more closely in the absence of loud communal signals.

points by tonystubblebine 1 day ago replies      
I notice that my eye gravitates to longer comments now. That's probably a good thing.
points by koenigdavidmj 1 day ago replies      
Maybe hide them on a story view and show them when you click the permalink to that post?
points by razerbeans 1 day ago replies      
I personally find that seeing the points by comments allows me to see interesting comments while I am skimming over a thread. I wouldn't mind having points hidden if there was some way that the most commented on threads or most popular threads appeared closer to the top of the story.
points by thurn 1 day ago replies      
Sort of unrelated feature request (is there a better place feor this?): a small piece of JavaScript to warn before you submit a title that starts with a number between 3 and 15. There are about five articles on the front page right now that break the "remove useless numbers" rule.
points by skm 1 day ago replies      
I love seeing what other people in the community find interesting. Points let me see not just the comment, but how others felt about it.
points by Devilboy 1 day ago replies      
50/50 so far. I guess it's up to you Paul!
points by chicagobob 1 day ago replies      
Hey! If you're going to turn off points in comments, please make it a preference. I enjoy seeing them.
points by eiji 1 day ago replies      
Only display points when logged in. What about that?
points by mdg 1 day ago replies      
Why not let the person who submits the article decide whether or not comments are visible for that thread?
points by sushumna 1 day ago replies      
For some who wants to quickly go through the comments, it would be good to go through those comments which has more points. They are the most valuable comments and worth reading.
points by ramynassar 20 hours ago replies      
I prefer without
points by kbd 1 day ago replies      
Wow, vote even at 500 to 500.
points by KevBurnsJr 1 day ago replies      
I just voted for the poll option with the fewest points. I like rooting for the underdog.
Notice: Experimenting with HN
395 points by pg 3 days ago   209 comments top 69
points by silentbicycle 3 days ago replies      
Have you considered adding a slight cost for submitting articles? (perhaps 2-5 points of karma?) There's a reward for submitting anything first that other people are likely to submit, but no cost, so the new page is often clogged with industry buzz that drowns out more substantial submissions. Many excellent article fall off within an hour, and then they can't get reposted.

Having more articles on the front page that aren't based on a scramble for duplicate-submission karma would probably improve the overall discussion threads, too; those posts tend to draw a lot of shallow comments.

It would also help with spam. Win win win.

I also wonder what percentage of upvotes for submissions comes just from duplicate submissions - maybe those should be counted differently (or not at all)? If the front page is already full of threads about some news about Apple (or whatever), being first to submit a redundant (but distinct) post is disproportionately rewarded, yet reduces the signal/noise ratio even further.

points by Vivtek 3 days ago replies      
Well, consider me happy (though weirded out a little) with the lack of points on comments - in retrospect, I think a lot of my downvoting behavior has to do with what I think a post should have earned, not what I personally think about it, and that's probably bad.

OTOH, I'm in the habit of scanning for double-digit comments when I want to save a little time, so I miss that.

points by citricsquid 3 days ago replies      
I... I feel quite pushed away now I can't see if people are liking my contributions. I feel as if maybe people aren't liking my comments, and I can't tell so I can't adapt. I post comments similar to those I know users like, in the hope that I provide value to others, without knowing how well a comment is being received how do I provide what users want?

I would like to see point display re-enabled for the owner of the comment.

Edit: hey looks like this happened, thanks pg :-)

points by dgallagher 3 days ago replies      
I had an interesting first experience with the hidden vote count. I was reading through comments in a thread, scanning for those with high vote counts, skipping everything else. Subconsciously I saw a "1" next to every post, ignored them, and skimmed along.

Eventually I started reading some of the comments in detail, thought one was pretty good, but subconsciously still saw a "1" next to it. I didn't vote and moved on. By the third or fourth time I did this, I asked "Why isn't anything good getting votes?" After a closer look, seeing that there was no "1", it was obvious my subconscious was fooling me.

Expectedly, I'm more inclined to read a comment with a high score since it's filtered. Not surprising. But this was striking; I'm more inclined to "vote" for something if it already has a high score, regardless of its content. It's a popularity-based multiplier effect.

It would be interesting to see what happens to the "bell-curve" of vote distribution as vote count remains hidden (mean/median/mode/standard deviation). I'd predict that highly-voted comments won't be as common, and maybe lesser-voted comments might get more votes.

Has anyone else noticed or experienced this? Or maybe something else entirely?

points by DarkShikari 3 days ago replies      
The "green user names" might be nicer if it was a continuum -- that is, "newest possible" would be bright green, and it would fade to gray over the course of days or weeks.
points by jjcm 3 days ago replies      
Is there a way we can see the current list of changes that are in production? While things like new users being colored green are obvious, other things such as a change in the decay function on the front page may be less obvious. Just curious to see what's going on at any given time.
points by vessenes 3 days ago replies      
I'm coming late to this conversation, as I was mostly internet free last week, but

a) Thanks for doing all this work
b) I imagine you generally feel this way, but I would love to have changes err on the side of keeping the community small UNTIL it proves it can scale in culture and quality.

I say this having lived through the following community site's initial quality and esprit-de-corp rise and fall:

Kuro5hin, Slashdot, Digg, Reddit

Probably the only truly excellent community I was part of which did not have this problem was the Plato Network, but I expect it died before it could grow into many of the growth/quality problems HN or any of these popular sites face.

To my mind, the idea that one is required to grow beyond one's quality and community goals need not be true. Another way to say this is that if we graphed the ability of community websites to attract new members against their ability to maintain / improve quality and culture, so far that graph is significantly below the 1:1 line.

Creating technology to change that slope above 45 degrees would be a totally huge gift to the world, seriously. On the other hand, the best sites out there might be at less than 25 degrees right now, so even a little would be a big improvement.

All that to say, I'm all for experimenting, and I know for sure that you don't really want to start HN(^2); you'd rather keep using and feeding HN in the right way -- I always find a big goal / framework to be helpful, and I haven't heard you say much about what your longterm goals are here; since talk is cheap, take mine!

points by tgriesser 3 days ago replies      
An observation about the disappearance of karma on comments, is that in searching older threads (I'm currently looking at a more technical thread ~1000 days old) is an inability to distinguish between the utility of comments.

E.g. if there is a solution set of A,B, or C to a particular problem or question, it's impossible to tell if 20 people thought A was a good idea while B and C were both 1 point answers.

Maybe threads past a certain date threshold could display these vote counts?

points by imajes 3 days ago replies      
Also while you are hacking on it pg, can you implement the bookmarklet hack to collapse/expand comment trees? often it's fun to be able to just see each conversation starter and dive into one that's interesting, rather than the expanded list view which is hard to parse what are the interesting conversations.

this is the code, i don't recall where it came from:


points by andywood 3 days ago replies      
FWIW, my immediate gut reaction to the lack of comment scores was extremely positive.
points by ComputerGuru 3 days ago replies      
Can you please consider reversing the "xx comments" and "flag" links? I think everyone here is used to clicking the last link under a submission to go to the comments!
points by adw 3 days ago replies      
As we all know we get what we measure, right?

The problem here fundamentally is that there's not a clear metric which correlates with "good", because there's no clear definition of what "good" is. (This is my utility function. There are many utility functions like it, but this one is mine.)

It's a social problem, and as such I'm intensely suspicious that any technology can fix it. In particular, I suspect that any technological solution which "works" for some people is going to amount to a dictatorship of that sort of people - which is OK! It's a big internet! Everyone else can go somewhere else! - but doesn't hit our geek pleasure centres like an elegant algorithmic solution is.
In other words: if I were trying to fix this, I'd cut straight to the chase " find and engage some people who shared my understanding of what a good HN looks like, and empower them to moderate aggressively and wield the banhammer.

points by jacoblyles 3 days ago replies      
I contributed late to the last thread - but having a monthly "Erlang Day" (not necessarily about Erlang) would help establish a baseline for the kind of culture we want while relying completely on informal methods, i.e. no changes to code or rules of the community.
points by noahc 3 days ago replies      

Is it possible that building on a 'broken' system isn't enough to fix the problem(s)?

The reason I point this out is that I think its possible that as a community grows the assumptions about the community become a part of the code and they aren't necessarily true anymore.

When a community is small by definition it has shared values. As the community grows it starts to fragment those shared values, but the code assumes that they still have shared values.

I am indifferent to the idea of down voting stories, but the code doesn't allow it because the assumption being made is that the stories being posted are being checked against the common community values, when in fact newer members (perhaps my self included on the newer point) see hacker news as the next technology/startup based Digg/Reddit/Slashdot, etc.

points by Dobbs 3 days ago replies      
I really like having the flag button on the main page. My only suggestion would be to move it to the left of the comments button.


    points by user time ago | flag | 32 comments
flag | points by user time ago | 32 comments

Otherwise it is too close to a commonly pressed button. Particularly on a touch screen.

points by gnosis 3 days ago replies      
I'd like to suggest a simple improvement:

Hide the number of votes a given comment has received until after you've voted on it.

After a given user has voted on a given comment, the number of votes that comment has received can be revealed to the user who voted on it.

I don't see much downside to this. It would discourage voting with the herd, and at the same time encourage people to vote.

points by mcantor 3 days ago replies      
One risk behind hiding comment scores is that people will lose a cue for when they accidentally downvote.
points by Timothee 3 days ago replies      
I was just about to ask you just that. I've noticed in this thread (http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=2433424) that some comments don't show their points and that a few comments have an orange dot.

Intriguing. But I'm glad you're working on keeping the quality of HN up.

Also, clickable link for the discussion you mention: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=2403696

edit: some comments still have points. Is that just a transition period?

points by antirez 3 days ago replies      
no points in comments: very interesting, a lot less bias. Unfortunately fast scanning of the best things is compromised. Probably it's still a good idea to avoid points, at least for a few days. When the comment is old enough there is no reason to don't show points again.
points by matthias 3 days ago replies      
Suggestion: the Rerun button allows veteran users to signal that an article has reached the front page before. Far from flagging the links for removal, the rerun button signifies that the content has a timeless quality.. it definitely isn't news, but it is still worthwhile. A link that is getting both sufficient upvotes and rerun clicks is moved to the Reruns page, which would feature all manner of old chestnuts and stop them clogging up the front page.
points by bambax 3 days ago replies      
"Upvoted" and "saved" should be two different things; today they are the same.

The only stories I want to "save" are those with practical content that I may use later (some new utility or library, for example).

Stories I find interesting but that I fear may clutter my "save history" don't get an upvote although they would deserve one.

Would it not help to have two separate actions, "save" and "upvote"? (Or did I miss something obvious?)

points by maukdaddy 3 days ago replies      
Overall I think eliminating the point display on comments works very well! I'm no longer tempted to pile on, either positive or negative, on comments.
points by Xk 3 days ago replies      
It seems that you can still see how many points a comment has when it's nonpositive.


And there are other comments with negative points where the number doesn't show. And still other comments with positive score that are showing up. Consider me confused.

points by retree 3 days ago replies      
I like the no comment scores, orange dot idea (which has made a comeback).

I hope it leads to less of the mob voting mentality which seems to take hold every so often in some of the more popular threads and less of the "Sorry I downvoted you" comments that appear every so often.

On the other hand, comment scores are a very quick and easy way to see what's popular, which is still normally an informative comment. Having to wade through a lot of highly voted comments may take a bit more effort but will expose people to a greater variety of opinions.

points by nikcub 3 days ago replies      
I don't think you should do anything

This is supposed to be hacker news, if you don't like the comment counts, hide them yourself. Hack it into something that you do find easier to manage. I started writing my own chrome plugin a year ago and add to it as needed (voting ppl I like up, others down, etc.)

for me HN is perfect - you will never make it perfect for tens of thousands of people by changing it on the server.

If you start accepting user submitted tweaks now it will probably never end

points by aspir 2 days ago replies      
I support the decision to downplay karma within comments; I would even experiment with removing that data from the article listings view. This is a data driven group of people who are simultaneously very competitive. It's likely that the majority of readers aren't maliciously competitive regarding karma, but this competitive, data driven nature likely has a contributing factor to some of the referenced issues.

If you notice, many of the comments themselves are about the external of the karma system, such as justification for downvotes, using karma as a currency, etc. The current iteration, using karma on the back end for page ranking purposes, will likely be the best long term solution. I will know the community's response to my own comments, but I won't be able to notice that a HN "super member" received 20+ votes and try to emulate their content. Over time, comment and article rank, the original idea behind a voting article/comment system, will become the goal, rather than earning 2 upvotes.

To put this in perspective, do a Ctrl+F for "karma" and "vote", then do the same for "quality."

points by famousactress 3 days ago replies      
The red dot helps quickly identify comment threads that might be compelling (something I used score for before).. but the lack of scores on the comments view (using the 'comments' header link) makes that view almost useless to me.. I don't use it all that often, but occasionally peruse it to identify threads that may be more interesting than their titles led me to believe.
points by Groxx 2 days ago replies      
Thoughts re: zero karma display currently in place:

I'm getting a lot more up-votes for what I consider to be relatively mediocre comments. Some display is useful, as it helps prevent such artificial inflation. It is interesting in that it does mask whether the top comment is high-rated or merely new - I've gotten used to it with my Flattehn extension and I sort of like it, it helps spread the votes around a bit more.

Not sure what all needs to be done to counter-act everything. Keep up the experimenting! And may I request tool-tips on color / display differences, like the green names had a little while ago? Or a current-version legend somewhere?

points by count 3 days ago replies      
On the front page, can you switch the order of 'flag' and 'N comments' - I think it's a 'Fits Law' type thing. I click into the comments for basically every story, but having to get between the time stamp and the "| flag" indicator ads a second of hesitation to make sure I'm not accidentally flagging something that I want to read.
points by Super_Jambo 3 days ago replies      
My solution to the voting problem is to separate out good posting behaviour and good voting behaviour.

Weight votes by reputation, calculate reputation by judging each vote for difficulty (did you vote before it had obviously won / lost) and success.

So you get reputation for voting up at -10 when it ends up at 1000. You lose reputation for voting up at 1000 when it ends at -10.

Since judgement is subjective you need a bunch of moderators to seed the site with good judgement. Then so long as they over-ride votes on the most obvious examples it should be a self correcting reputation system.

I don't understand why in HN's current system voting power comes from karma which comes from occasional good posting. You could spend most of your time flaming, getting into arguments and down voting everyone you disagree with but so long as you're quick on posting PG's articles or write the occasional good comment HN views you as a model citizen.

Be interested in any critique of this as it's how ISDaily my news start-up works. (http://www.isdaily.com)

points by wh-uws 3 days ago replies      
Just putting my 2 cents in for what they are worth.

Its hard for me to keep track of what the community thinks of comments without their karma score beside them.

points by imajes 3 days ago replies      
This might be worth experimenting with.

One of the problems of such communities is the echo chamber nature of hearing the same voices. I'd be interested to see what happens if you made it so that the more karma points you had, the harder it is for your comment to rise to the top. If a post by a leaderboard member is really interesting, then it'll get upvoted a lot- but because of the group think aspect leaderboard members tend to get upvoted a lot because they're in the leaderboard.

nb: This problem may be mitigated by not having scores visible.

points by alanh 3 days ago replies      
Not showing scores is curious.
For one " and this isn't a criticism " it makes voting feel slightly idempotent.
For another, given the way both arrows always disappear after a vote, it makes it tougher to see if you clicked the “correct” arrow (always been an issue given their size and proximity).
points by nbpoole 3 days ago replies      
I'm seeing green usernames for submissions and comments by new users (not sure exactly what the threshold for "newness" is, the person I saw created their account in the past hour)
points by solipsist 3 days ago replies      
How about removing the total number of karma points from user's profiles now?

Excluding our own profiles, what are the advantages of seeing other's karma?

If we're going to remove the presence of karma from comments, why not with the user profiles as well?

points by nod 3 days ago replies      
I love not seeing karma on comments. I've realized that I've made three comments today, where I rarely comment normally (once a week or less). I don't know why, but it takes away the "you'd better write two paragraphs and predict the group-think" feeling that stops me from contributing more.
points by drivebyacct2 3 days ago replies      
Please fix downvoting. Even right now, there's a thread that I can my post be downvoted, and then my reply later that sets the record straight be upvoted. Apparently people here vote before informing themselves or reading the rest of the thread. Regardless, not being able to change a vote, especially if a simple misclick is made, is very, very frustrating.
points by mathgenius 3 days ago replies      
What about something like "netflix for comments?" Ie. your votes would endow you with a profile (a sparse vector) that then tailors HN so that you see more of what other similar users also upvote. This would also encourage people to vote more.

I originally thought in terms of one uber-editor that fed (votes to) a machine learning algorithm, but then why not allow everyone to be their own editor.

points by grandalf 3 days ago replies      
Comments with <1 points should be ignored, and an adjusted score should be calculated thus:

adjusted_score = ln(square(upvotes - downvotes + 1))

This way, all comments/posts that generate some goodwill are rewarded, and the incentive not to post for fear of hurting the average is removed.

And the log will frustrate karma whores b/c they won't be able to separate themselves from the pack as easily.

Also I think some measure of how controversial a comment/post is would be useful, since it would help find interesting areas where the community is in disagreement.

points by triviatise 3 days ago replies      
8% of men are red-green colorblind.
points by MrMan 3 days ago replies      
Here is an idea. Individual karma scores, no matter how they are scored, will create certain kinds of incentives. What if you create a global karma score for the entire site, which is an aggregate of all user activity? Posting, commenting, voting, would all not only be scored for each user individually, but for the site overall, or perhaps in the future topic categories could either be teased out by hand, or assigned using some NLP technique like LDA, and each topic could have a score.
It would at least be interesting to see the health of hacker news on a 0-1 scale somewhere on the top menu bar, and maybe some little stats behind the score to help illustrate the thought process behind the score.
You could use cosine distance for each posting from the n highest scoring posts, and take the inverse of the sum of the distances to score a potential for each post. The sum of all the potentials of all postings within a certain time period, taken as a ratio over a trailing average potential over a longer period would a an interesting way to possibly get a view into how diverse and how high quality each posting tends to be.

A sitewide score would also allow you to make each user's score be a weighted combination of individual score and their contribution to the whole. Consider it a form of shared fitness.

points by pedalpete 3 days ago replies      
One thing I've noticed about the way I use HN, is that I find I keep going to my page, then my comments/posts to see if there are any responses, so that I can decide to respond or not.

I think it would be nice to have a number next to my score, showing me that their are responses, and maybe link that right to my comments/posts page. Would save me wasting time looking at those pages when there hasn't been any activity.

Thanks, keep up the GREAT work.

points by jchonphoenix 3 days ago replies      
You might just consider making the flagging ability more apparent, and give it to some of the more senior members of HN. I only recently discovered it, but it has been useful in removing posts that belong on Reddit.
points by 6ren 3 days ago replies      
Without seeing comment scores, it's hard to find the ones worth reading - or are they ranked by score now (instead of by hotness)?
points by BoppreH 3 days ago replies      
Maybe using the "top color" from the user's settings?
points by rms 3 days ago replies      
Should I start flagging stories that I just don't like rather than only ones that strictly violate the rules?
points by hanifvirani 3 days ago replies      
What I am looking forward to is submission downvoting. I hope it's one of the features that gets experimented.
points by shii 3 days ago replies      
I'd love if you tried the shipped idea suggested by ericb[1]. A simple input-form in the profile page that someone could put a link to and that would light up a 1x1 pixel next to their username if they've shipped a startup yet.

[1]: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=1918772

points by bgalbraith 3 days ago replies      
Apologies if this has been suggested before.

I'm curious if something like the BCS ranking system in college football could work for online communities. The specifics don't translate, but the general idea is that you use a weighted combination of human and machine generated rankings. This can be seen as maintaining the user-driven voting system but tempered with an impartial community spirit moderator in the form of a machine learning algorithm.

How could this be applied to HN? Let's leave the standard karma/voting system as it exists, as that seems to generally work.

Next, determine the general distribution of votes per comment. This will allow for things like z-scores to be determined that can notice if a particular comment has received significantly more votes than usual.

Next, perform a machine learning algorithm on a corpus of comments. Something as straightforward as Bayesian filters can work, though self-organizing maps also have potential. This is effectively doing the same thing as spam filtering, but instead of simply flagging something as spam, it would provide its own +/- vote. The initial training would start with a baseline of existing comments, and then periodically, say once a night, be updated with recently added comments and votes. Additional information, such as the karma of the commenter, can also be incorporated.

The final ranking then, which here would be how high up on the page it appears, would be a weighted combination of user votes, z-score scaling, and machine votes.

points by BrianAnderson 3 days ago replies      
Way to issue a challenge that all large communities struggle to solve!

So I have two thoughts that I think are in a different vein than many comments below (tried to read them all but may have missed some. Apologize for repeats)

1. Similar to other suggestions, but with a slight twist, modify the up/down votes to utilize the Net Promoter Score methodology. It has its issues but it reduces a really difficult problem to a simple question that provides a broader spectrum than y/s. Could limit the "would highly recommend" super-vote to one story per day so users would save those votes for those articles they find extremely valuable.

Actually, thinking about it. Would be cool to get a view of only stories that people have "spent" their one super-vote as that is signaling extreme importance. I think many people find many stories interesting, but would only find a few EXTREMELY interesting enough to spend their super-vote on.

2. One challenge is that HN has grown in size so much that there is no set of top stories to satisfy the entire group. Would be interesting to provide a view that matches your personal preferences. Reddit does this by subreddit, stackoverflow by tags. My personal background is personalization in the context of eCommerce, which looks more at user segments. So users who find hard-core tech knowledge interesting vs. VC news vs. geographic location. In some ways this is already being done via segmentation in the classic view: http://news.ycombinator.com/classic Are there some other obvious segments on HN?

points by earnubs 3 days ago replies      
My experience: I just read the comment thread on an HN post and without the points beside each comment my brain acted like a crutch had been removed. I approve :)
points by rooshdi 3 days ago replies      
Along with hiding comment vote counts, maybe you could try experimenting with hiding story vote counts as well. It may encourage readers to comment on stories they are genuinely interested in rather than the top voted stories of the day.
points by j_baker 3 days ago replies      
Hasn't the "no scores by comments" idea already been tried? I recall it not working out well for some reason...
points by ptn 3 days ago replies      
FWIW, I'm already liking not seeing the score of comments. I can see how it really contributes to the discussion. Maybe do a poll later to vote for which changes should stick around?
points by shawnee_ 3 days ago replies      
Individual comments sans karma-per-comment is superbly smart. Seems like it will encourage higher quality comment quality across the board, as a function of less-biased individual comments in aggregate.

Another + side-effect: decreasing the number of attack down-votes. It is annoying to see scores < 0 due to another person (coward) who uses downvote to "disagree" w/a valid point, and then everybody jumps on the bandwagon. It is possible to disagree without downvoting; just takes a little more thought / energy.

points by shawndumas 1 day ago replies      
points by lazugod 3 days ago replies      
You'd think that text posts (like the parent) that have links within them would make their links clickable once they pass some karma threshold.
points by mkramlich 3 days ago replies      
Would be nice if all URL's were clickable.
points by ary 3 days ago replies      
Please experiment with not showing comment or story scores. Just show a user's total karma on the profile page.
points by kmfrk 3 days ago replies      
Crossing my fingers that it will be easier to tell users apart soon. That's currently my biggest gripe.

EDIT: Aaand negative karma. I like the changes already.

points by mkramlich 3 days ago replies      
Sometimes we accidentally upvote or downvote something. Would be nice if user could Undo/Change his vote.
points by vessenes 3 days ago replies      
I'm really enjoying the no points on comments; it's making me think about the content more. Nice!
points by tvon 3 days ago replies      
I love the lack of points showing when it comes to Apple discussions.
points by teyc 3 days ago replies      

First up, this is nice. The absence of comment scores throw people around a bit, and people are generally more careful since it is difficult to directly receive feedback.

Secondly, the madness associated with karma is gone. Can you imagine in post-earthquake Japan where for a brief few days, it didn't matter whether you are a CEO or have a million dollars. It is a brief moment where we are reduced to who we already are: humans. Beyond the profit motive. I wonder if this is sustainable in the long run. It'd be like Communism (?) gulp.

Perhaps there could be karma-free days as an experiment where for those days, you couldn't earn karma even if you tried. Kind of like Sabbath. It forces a different perspective.

points by maxharris 3 days ago replies      
I hope you don't turn the points display back on. Hiding points makes it more likely that users will actually read a comment before voting it up or down.
points by dan335 3 days ago replies      
I wish there was a section where people could only submit things they wrote, created or had a hand in creating. I can get news somewhere else.
points by greencircle 3 days ago replies      
The other thread states one problem is mean comments. A good solution for this is to require the use of real names.
points by DiabloD3 3 days ago replies      
I don't want to attention whore, but I brought this up earlier http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=2427163
points by bravura 3 days ago replies      
Okay, I'll come clean. I've been experimenting with HN for over three years.

At first, I would try out HN and the effect on me was quite mild. I simply didn't see what the fuss was about. But the most I experimented with HN, the more I realized how powerful it is.

Nowadays, I use HN daily, sometimes more than once daily.

Sure my relationships with people who don't use HN have suffered. But who cares? They don't understand. That's why they don't use HN.

Apple AirTunes private key extracted mafipulation.org
369 points by PascalW 4 days ago   93 comments top 21
points by daeken 4 days ago replies      
Hah, awesome. Many years ago, I patched iTunes to use my own public key, so I could stream to an AirTunes server I ran on another machine. I had intended to pull the firmware off the Airport Express, but didn't have the hardware skills at the time. It's awesome to see this happen.
points by Timothee 4 days ago replies      
Could someone explain the implications of this?

edit: it looks like it would allow another software to show up as an Airport Express in iTunes, thus becoming the potential target of streaming audio over WiFi from iTunes. But am I right?

points by jedsmith 4 days ago replies      
ASCII key, from the source: http://pastebin.com/raw.php?i=RFeUcdXd
points by angusgr 4 days ago replies      
I know the OP probably isn't reading this, but I'd be curious to know what OS the Airport Express runs.

I always wondered. My guess is maybe a proprietary RTOS to perform its simple functions?

Back in the day I figured it'd make a great OpenWRT Linux box, although now boxes with those features/size/price-point are much more common.

points by acgourley 4 days ago replies      
What are the legal implications of selling a small unit that acts as an airport express, then? And what if you didn't ship the key, but it was obvious to users where to get it?
points by Natsu 4 days ago replies      
I wonder if people will get their IPs subpoenaed for looking at that link, as was the case with the Sony keys?
points by blasdel 2 days ago replies      
A couple years ago I unsuccessfully tried to extract the keys from the AppleTV version of OS X (which provides the same functionality).

The binaries were heavily obfuscated, and I couldn't get the IDA Pro remote to run on the AppleTV, nor could I port the binaries to run on normal OS X. Gave up after a week or so. I figured that some pro reverser would get the keys eventually that way, but I never expected that anyone would find success cracking open an Airport Express!

points by illumin8 4 days ago replies      
This is very cool. Do you know if this would work with AirPlay video streaming as well as audio? I can imagine it would be pretty cool to display video on any PC monitor.
points by Logicwax 4 days ago replies      
Works great! Even supports multiple audio streams!

For Debian/Ubuntu users, I had to do a few things to get it to compile:
1. sudo apt-get install libcrypt-openssl-rsa-perl libao2 libao-dev
2. comment out line 642 in hairtunes.c
3. 'make'

points by palish 4 days ago replies      
The source code is very cool. I'd encourage everyone to skim through it.
points by shimonamit 4 days ago replies      
So, are there no alternatives to embedding a single private key across multiple hardware devices?
points by conradev 3 days ago replies      
This is awesome! I know many have tried before, but have not been successful.

Also, I thought i would put this out there:
As with the creation of the new AirPlay protocol, the RAOP (AirTunes) protocol was also changed (to support album art and other metadata, I assume). My proof of this lies in the Apple TV. If you analyze network traffic between iTunes and the ATV's airtunesd daemon, you can see that the initial pairing does not have the 'rsaaeskey' field but instead a 'fpaeskey' field. So instead of a RSA public/private scheme, it uses something else to encrypt the session keys. I found this out when trying to reverse the airtunesd binary, trying to get the key that way. :P

points by sh1mmer 4 days ago replies      
There have been a number of manufacturers implementing 'airplay' devices that support being airtunes speakers but it's great to see this making it possible to do with open source. It would be nice to see airtunes added to some of the cheap linux wall warts on the market.
points by andrewcooke 3 days ago replies      
wasn't this done before, years ago, by Jon Lech Johansen? he wrote justeport - http://nanocr.eu/software/justeport/ and i rewrote that in java as jjuste, but no longer have the code...)

here are the keys he found - http://nanocr.eu/2004/08/11/reversing-airtunes/ and http://nanocr.eu/sw/justeport/itunesrsakeys.txt

points by albertzeyer 4 days ago replies      
Has someone tried it and was able to play something?

I tried it and iTunes lists it as a device but I cannot activate it in iTunes (if I select it, it immediately unselects itself). From the console output, I see that iTunes even does not try to connect to it (to TCP Port 5000).

I am currently on a Mac so I needed to do some porting (https://github.com/albertz/shairport/) but I think this shouldn't have an impact on the behavior I am getting.

points by coffeedrinker 4 days ago replies      
For those who might not know this, you can stream the audio from one mac to another.


I use it to move music streams to the other computers in the house.

points by joeshaw 4 days ago replies      
Does Apple use the same protocol for streaming video to an Apple TV? If so, is the key from an Apple TV needed to emulate a video endpoint, or is just some tweaking required (presumably to the MDNS service data) to identify it as video-enabled?
points by kash 4 days ago replies      
awesome!, now only if we can get forked-daapd to show up under home sharing we'd be set!
points by lawfulfalafel 4 days ago replies      
I wonder if another aacs controversy is going to rise.
points by tobiasbischoff 3 days ago replies      
Totally want to try this, but my Snow Leopard won't install Crypt::OpenSSL::RSA via cpan, any ideas? http://pastie.org/1783565
points by kblnig 4 days ago replies      
i am trying to use the hairport (on apple tv1 running ubuntu hardy)... i am getting the following error:

atv@appletv-ubuntu:~/scripts/bbhoss-shairport-31cf954$ make
gcc hairtunes.c alac.c -D__i386 -lm `pkg-config --cflags --libs ao openssl` -o hairtunes
hairtunes.c: In function âinit_outputâ:
hairtunes.c:642: error: âao_sample_formatâ has no member named âmatrixâ

Could someone help me with this matter :) ?

Peter Thiel: We're in a Higher Education Bubble techcrunch.com
334 points by gsharma 4 days ago   132 comments top 30
points by kenjackson 4 days ago replies      
What Thiel doesn't get is that the reason why it's a bubble is also what keeps it afloat. It's exclusionary, and something inherent in humans is a desire to categorize and compartmentalize -- credentials.

Sure, if you're starting a web startup or a basketball team, no one cares where you went to school (although an offensive lineman in football benefits from going to a top tier school -- despite football being a meritocracy its surprisingly difficult to measure how effective linemen are). But the top lawyers, doctors, professors, and even business managers will be recruited from where people think the best people are.

The ironic thing is that the only reason people listen to Peter Thiel is because of his credentials as PayPal co-founder and VC investor. There are a million people have an opinion on education and tecnology. There's too much noise -- the ideas that are listened to are those that come from people who have done soemthing in the past -- a credential. At a massive scale college is still THE credential.

And surprisingly the internet has actually made elite schools more important, not less. Pre-internet regional schools were often held in near equal esteem as Harvard/Yale. As information became more fluid (USNWR and the internet) the ranking of credentials became easier to obtain. This won't change.

points by jonbischke 4 days ago replies      
Posted this as a TechCrunch comment but wanted to cross-post here:

The challenge higher education is going to face is that the signaling mechanism that higher education provide (i.e. you were good enough to get into Harvard so you're good enough to work for Goldman Sachs) is going to become de-coupled from the institution's ability to impart knowledge on people. A few decades ago, most of what you needed to learn to be productive in society was best learned at a university. Today, most of the what you need to learn to be productive in society is best learned on your own, online, for free. There are exceptions but 99% of human knowledge is no longer locked up within a university.

Contrast that with the cost of higher education.To go to UCLA as an out-of-state student it now costs $50K/year (http://www.admissions.ucla.edu/prospect/budget.htm). And that's a public school. And it's rising 8% a year. So the cost of learning has plummeted to almost nothing and yet 18-22 year old kids are taking out six figure loans to "learn". This makes no sense and feels very unsustainable.

And here's what I think will change the game: alternative signaling and credentialing mechanisms. When universities no longer have a monopoly (or near-monopoly) on signaling/credentialing we'll witness a sea change. I'd offer that this is already starting to happen in certain parts of industry. Would you rather hire an engineer with a lot of GitHub followers, a great reputation on Stack Overflow and/or someone who is a Y Combinator alum or would you rather higher a Stanford or MIT grad? It's a bit of a toss-up for many people to answer that and given that the comparison is Stanford/MIT and not the 4,000 "lesser" schools, that says something.

This change won't happen overnight but Thiel is on the money here. Higher ed is a $500 billion industry in the U.S. alone and I think its value proposition has never been more questionable than it is today.

points by reader5000 4 days ago replies      
Before I went to college, higher education received the reverence of some sort of religious institution. Not only would attending college/grad school guarantee easy middle class living, it was the Path. Universities were these Higher Grounds, noble and humble institutions pursuing the best of the human spirit.

Then they sack you with six figures of non-dischargeable debt and you're back living with your parents sending out resumes.

I don't think a "bubble" is the appropriate term, I think "exploitation" is better. The value that universities provide (either as learning environments or signalling systems) is nowhere near commensurate with their costs to young people. Young people have no idea though: they don't know the performance of the university in terms of enhancing graduates' incomes nor what a reasonable level of education debt is. And universities are completely negligent (and in some cases outright deceptive) in providing this info to incoming students.

Education debt WILL be made dischargeable in bankruptcy again, there is simply too much pressure (edu debt is larger than credit card debt). When it does, you can expect tuition rates to plummet, back in line to their real net present values. In my opinion this could not happen soon enough.

The university comes from an era that never really existed of large, stable corporations providing steady employment to "educated" worker bees. The university was the 0-cost-to-employer filtering system to ensure Big Co highers the best people. That model simply doesnt make sense anymore.

points by wyclif 4 days ago replies      
Here's what Piaw Na, a Xoogler, said about this piece-- it's worth quoting:

"When the Thiel Foundation came to a local startup incubator to pitch, it came under heavy fire. For one, a lot of their recruiting heavily targeted existing Ivy League/MIT/Caltech students. These were students who were going to do great regardless of whether or not they pursued traditional college paths.

In other words, if this is an attack on the traditional college path, Thiel's definitely sided with their filtering mechanisms.

One guy who was present said the following: "You guys denied admission to the program from the one candidate who was actually making money as an entrepreneur!"

points by microarchitect 4 days ago replies      
I agree with Thiel's essential point. We need to take a step back and ask ourselves what benefit is being derived from sending all these kids to college. The kids also need to look carefully at the risk vs cost vs benefit of taking on debt in return for potentially higher future earnings.

Having said that, his statement "If Harvard were really the best education, if it makes that much of a difference, why not franchise it so more people can attend" misses the point entirely. Sure, Harvard probably has above average education. However, the reason it's sought after is because of the perception that all your peers at Harvard will be extremely smart talented individuals. As a society, we're hoping that that by putting all these really smart kids together in the "Harvard environment", they'll go on create things that they wouldn't have been able to on their own.

The point I'm trying to make is that the exclusivity of Harvard isn't "an excuse to do something mean", but rather an effort to create conditions where our smartest youngsters can get together and really change the world. I do, of course, agree that there are many other ways of achieving this goal than just college education.

points by hinathan 4 days ago replies      
Money quote from this piece feels relevant: "Once you enable students to borrow $36,000 a year, then magically the costs of a year in college (or for-profit school offering worthless "skills" that do no more for the hapless student than a high school diploma) rise to $36,000"


points by jdavid 4 days ago replies      
providing access to everyone for something by nature devalues it. as we try to democratize and socialize the world we try to give everything away.

college is just another victim of this. no one wants to tell a parent that their new born child is ugly and no one wants to live in a world where we can't all hope to be anything.

the housing bubble was the result of parents telling their kids to buy homes, because that's the american dream.

if education is a bubble, if housing is a bubble, then the american dream might just be a bubble too.

maybe it's time we invent a new dream.

a long while a go we dreamed of working less. i feel like in a creative economy, one where the generation of creative ideas is of principal, maybe we need more time to be creative and to share.

i think largely as a whole we are at peak capitalism. capitalism seems to best fit when resources are expansive. i feel like in the next 20 years resources will be less scarce than in the previous 20, and that is a strong signal that we no longer need to focus on exploration and expansion as much as we do living within our means.

points by gatsby 4 days ago replies      
For anyone interested in learning more about the education bubble, there is a good article in this month's Fortune magazine about the creation of a new for-profit K-12 school in NYC:


The article highlights some really interesting and shocking facts about private K-12 education (i.e. Harvard's 2010 acceptance rate was 6.9%, while acceptance to NYC's top private schools combined was 5.0%; Harvard's 2010-11 tuition was $34,976 and Horace Mann's tuition was $35,670).


points by jmm 3 days ago replies      
I think there are different facets to the bubble that need to be separated out to talk coherently about its implications...

You can look at the bubble from the vantage point of the schools that are competing to keep up with the spending of the ivys and have overextended themselves: http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=newsarchive&sid=a...

And you can also look at it from the perspective of the students that are emerging from mid or low tier institutions with a hefty chunk of debt relative to their likely earning potential.

Peter's (or Sarah's) focus on the Harvard kids seems to be the least compelling part of a potential education bubble. These are smart kids who either leave school with no debt in the case that they are poor to lower middle class, and with parental support (of the monetary kind) if they're on the other side of the wealth spectrum. So maybe they're "wasting" four years where they could be creating a business, but they're not in dire straights upon graduation or necessarily compelled to sell their souls. Check out Harvard's financial aid policies: http://www.admissions.college.harvard.edu/financial_aid/hfai...

I do think there needs to be some different paths put before kids in general as they contemplate "college as the only option" but I don't think Thiel is quite right to target the ivy kids as they have the least reason to fear an education bubble bursting -- because of the lasting [perceived] quality of their degree, their lack of debt in a lot of cases, their campus-born connections to smart and wealthy classmates and alums, and their smarts.

points by dpatru 3 days ago replies      
The bubble in education is not at the Harvard and Stanford level. Membership in that club is probably worth the cost. The bubble is in the lower-ranked schools that cost almost as much but don't deliver the exclusivity of Harvard. The people who will be hurt the most when the bubble pops are those people who overpaid for the knowledge they learned in college: People who attended average state schools who have a $600/month education loan payment for 30 years who have to compete for jobs with people learned the same thing for $600 in total.

Right now, there is no company that can give you for $600 the same education that a state school provides for $100,000. But such companies are coming. Khan Academy already is as good as any school in helping people learn. All that's missing is certification: comprehensive exams given in secure environments like normal standardized tests (SAT, ACT, LSAT, GMAT, ...) Compared to teaching, certification is easy.

The real big bubble in education is at the lower levels, at the elementary, middle, and high school level where schools are even more fungible than at the college level. Kids don't attend a middle school for the prestige. They go to learn. The bubble for the teacher unions will pop when states begin to ask why the state should pay union-level salaries for teachers to lecture when students actually do better with just a laptop and an internet connection.

points by r00fus 4 days ago replies      
A lot of this higher education bubble has to do with unnecessary costs of higher education, like, say textbooks: http://hubpages.com/hub/College-Text-Books-Rent-or-Buy

What will disrupt higher education in entirety is a properly done asynchronous class-schedule structure that allows students to take the time they need to finish the course. Coupled with some or full location independence and mandatory collaboration, it could be drastically more economical.

points by random42 4 days ago replies      
Is Peter Thiel qualified to opine on Education? (This is not a snark, but I am genuinely curious to know how to process his opinion.
points by WA 4 days ago replies      
I think Thiel is right - sort of. At least, if you consider the large amount of money spend on a college degree in the US. Let me compare this to Germany. In Germany, universities and therefore higher education is free. You just enroll, take classes, pay your rent and after a couple of years, you are done and usually have a degree that is very competitive around the world.

But every student knows that there are areas that lead to high-paying jobs such as engineering, while in other areas such as history, communications, philosophy, languages, you will have trouble finding a job, not even speaking of a high-paying job. Still, people are usually more or less aware of the fact that they might end up having an average-income job.

In the US, higher education is a financial investment where people expect a financial return. In Germany, higher education is mostly an investment of time and people are much more aware of the possible outcomes. We don't have a bubble here.

points by acconrad 4 days ago replies      
This may already be covered (with 88 comments), but I fear this article will go on deaf ears, not just to education, but to general readers of TC (investors, et al). In the same way that companies use higher education as an over-valued indicator of capability, so do investors use incubators, and suffer from the well-known "Group Think" mentality. The important difference is that you have to pay for higher education, whereas with an incubator you get paid. The other nice part is that you can re-apply to an incubator as many times as you want, and there's no social norm about the age you have to attend, whereas with colleges it's a 1-chance opportunity when you're 18, so if you don't get into Harvard you just don't get in (yes, you can transfer, but it's highly discouraged, and mainly in relation to the money involved).

I believe my only gripe with the article is Thiel says you should not judge Harvard-caliber students if they went to Harvard or not, because we just don't have enough Harvard affiliates. But that's very hypocritical thinking for a venture capitalist, whose community resonates the same sentiment of judging YC-caliber companies when there aren't enough YC-affiliates (cause if that was the case, TechStars and other funds would hold the same esteem).

points by juiceandjuice 3 days ago replies      
People in the valley have this weird notion that what is happening in the valley is happening everywhere. It's not. Most people go to mediocre state schools with a little bit of debt when they graduate, and then live in that area for the rest of their life. Most people don't go to Stanford, Harvard, Yale or Princeton and rack up $80k+ in student loans.

The real bubble is groupthink.

points by shareme 4 days ago replies      
In a free competitive situation the government if it wanted to give value to higher education while hobbling other competitive items would make higher education at state schools somewhat free thus reducing the competitive edge of for-profits while also reducing the debt load per student which spurs job creation because more college graduates can afford to start businesses and startups..

At least in the USA the main reason why college is not free is that the major debate in congress occurred during the
years after Vietnam Veterans returned and US congress people had a cultural bias towards giving those returning from Vietnam and those who did not fight in Vietnam a 'free college education' and like all political laws very hard to over-turn through a renewed debate..

points by aksbhat 4 days ago replies      
I find the discussion here as well as the article myopic in the scope.
Programming/Web Startups are just a small part of the world.
You still need Doctors, Lawyers, Engineers and Scientists.
Sure one can question the utility of spending four years to get a
degree in Liberal Arts, but most other subjects require close supervision that one receives in a college education.
points by Goladus 3 days ago replies      
This article is horrible.

It's a superficial story about Peter Thiel and Founders Fund framed as a controversial argument about the value of higher education. It really doesn't do anything more than pose the questions and include a few quotes from Peter Thiel.

Techcrunch trolls the internet once again.

points by hinathan 4 days ago replies      
Makes a lot of sense " especially given the amount of remedial education a lot of not-particularly-cheap colleges are having to undertake. Seems plausible that a lot of the investment (both in terms of municipal and state subsidies, as well as private debt) being made now won't bear a meaningful return for a long time, if at all.
points by mousa 4 days ago replies      
Thank you bubbles for allowing people to either have work or study. There's all this bubble talk, but when it comes down to it, if everyone really was just doing useful non-bubble stuff most of us in the first world wouldn't have anything to do. Our economists aren't ready for that.
points by jacques_chester 3 days ago replies      
Thought bubble: Companies use universities as a filtering mechanism, like recruiters. But recruiters get paid and universities do not. Conclusion: universities should get into the recruitment business.
points by dougabug 4 days ago replies      
Brilliant and thought provoking, heretical words. Exclusionary access, prohibitive cost, insular culture, overgrown complexity concealing fundamental ideas...

“It's something about the scarcity and the status. In education your value depends on other people failing. Whenever Darwinism is invoked it's usually a justification for doing something mean. It's a way to ignore that people are falling through the cracks, because you pretend that if they could just go to Harvard, they'd be fine."

points by rgrieselhuber 4 days ago replies      
Something that is hinted at the end of the article but not fully addressed: the risk of creating a new elite (if elitism is the problem) is there just as much in the new system (such as Thiel is) as it was the original institution.
points by rkischuk 4 days ago replies      
Makes sense. Same symptoms as the housing bubble.

Housing bubble - people have a right to own a home, regardless of financial merit.
Education bubble - people have a right to a college education, regardless of academic or financial merit.

Housing bubble - massive federal infusion of cash that drove short-term costs artificially low, spiking sales prices while putting people in large, long-term debt for something they don't necessarily need (ownership - people do need housing).
Education bubble - massive federal infusion of cash that drives short-term costs of education artificially low (student loans), while putting people in large, long-term debt for something they don't necessarily need.

Common theme - long term infusion of federal cash into markets leads to profiteering at the expense of the average American citizen. (What should we expect for health care?) In particular, the artificial reduction of interest rates allows sellers to charge higher prices for the same services. The services provider collects more money. The purchaser pays the same (or potentially more if their interest rate is not fixed).

Also, and economics, duh, artificially low costs lead to artificially high demand, which without any sort of quality control, looks an awful lot like a bubble.

points by genbattle 3 days ago replies      
In the end a University degree is just a piece of paper. What matters is the quality of the knowledge and mentoring you receive from your lecturers and from the university as a whole.

I think this situation is a result of the financial crash; Thiel is right, people have fled to something they see as a safe investment to increase their personal worth. People are going (back) to university so they have the qualitifications they need to get a job that would have previously required very little in the way of formal education. The market is flooded with educated job-seekers, so people must now set themselves apart with something else.

points by intenex 3 days ago replies      
Thiel's going to have a lot of success with this first batch - if I may say so myself, being one of the finalists. It's remarkably generous of him to offer 100k without any equity exchange whatsoever - the terms are far better than those offered by YComb and arguably quite equal in beneficial environment acquired - particularly as it's for 2 years and not a quarter-year mini-stint. We'll see what happens in two years ; )
points by martinshen 4 days ago replies      
I plan to write a blog post about this later but I'm starting to think that the term "College Drop Out" has started to become more valuable than "College Graduate." This may not be completely true right now but in 5 years when today's 25 year olds are hiring, the term may possibly be more valuable.
points by cvander 4 days ago replies      
He has a strong opinion and this will always generate a big debate. But what I like the most, is that by talking of the education bubble and creating an option for students (the 20 kids program with $100k), we're going to test his theory soon. If that works, how about some of the top education programs replicating his model?
points by ericingram 4 days ago replies      
I couldn't agree more.
points by tomjen3 4 days ago replies      
Thiel is wrong - education is valuable, college very much so.

But an English degree is not higher education, it is a fiction we created for those who want to go to college but can't hack it in the real world.

A STEM or a law degree will make you a lot of money.

Mac OS X hidden features and nice tips & tricks stackexchange.com
332 points by franze 3 days ago   76 comments top 25
points by GeneralMaximus 3 days ago replies      
A few I can think of:

- Open the Apple menu. Now hold Shift. More menu options! Now try holding Opt. Even more menu options! This works for several Apple applications.

- Hold Opt when clicking on a menubar icon for extra information. For example, holding Opt and clicking the WiFi icon in the menubar brings up the signal strength, IP address and other useful information. Likewise for the rest of the icons.

- In Spotlight, select an entry in the search results and hit Cmd+Return to go to its parent folder. Opt+Return opens results in a Finder window.

- You know you can drop files on dock icons? Did you know you can also drop them on the icons in the app switcher (the thing that comes up when you hit Cmd+Tab)?

- This one is a bitch to describe, but very useful. You know you can hit Cmd+M to iconify ("minimize" in Windows-speak) applications to the Dock. But how do you get them back? Just do this: Cmd+Tab to the application, but don't release Cmd yet. Without releasing Cmd, press Opt. Now release Cmd. Done! This is equivalent to clicking the application's icon in the Dock, which means it has more uses than the one I described.

points by mrspeaker 3 days ago replies      
I couldn't see it in that list, but my favourite can't-live-without shortcut is
CMD + ~
to switch between windows of the same app (for example, if you have 10 textmate windows open it will flip between them).
CMD + SHFT + ~
to go the other way.
points by nikcub 3 days ago replies      
The big one that I went through recently was killing startup items. You tend to hoard them over time, especially with a dev machine.

Look in, and clear out in /Library/StartupItems and /System/Library/StartupItems

Like any good UNIX, there are a dozen other ways that applications can launch themselves in OS X, so run a ps and find processes that you don't need and figure out where they are being started.

I alias everything in bash to run the scripts manually when I need them (eg. 'apu' starts apache, 'ngu' starts nginx, 'vbx' sets up virtualbox). Saves a ton of memory and gets boot time down to seconds rather than minutes.

points by emehrkay 3 days ago replies      
The first two are part of the reason why I hate using Windows at work.

The fact that you cannot drag files to their icons and have that file opened in the application seems like something out of the past.

To scroll a window in Windows, the window needs to have focus. To scroll a scroll pane in an active window, that pane needs to have focus -- it is maddening especially when hover events work for non-focused windows and panes.

I could go on and on, but this isn't a Windows hatefest.

points by jws 3 days ago replies      
Bring up "About this Mac…" from the apple menu, then click on the OS version number and it will cycle through some extra information including the serial number so you don't have to try to read the 2 point tall, minimal contrast serial number printed on the case.
points by melling 3 days ago replies      
Shouldn't people sign up and put their answers on StackExchange? They have pretty good search built into it.
[haskell] mysql

This will return all questions tagged haskell that mention mysql.

I'd love a HN article search by title, comment, author, or my saved stories.

points by iaskwhy 3 days ago replies      
"I love the fact that OS X will scroll the window that the mouse is hovering over, even if another application has focus. That way I can scroll an example that I am coding in TextMate without having to lose keyboard control on TM"

This also happens on Windows (at least on Chrome) but Windows goes even further: you can click through a link or button on a non-focused window. On OS X, in order to follow a link or click a button on some non-focused window, you need to activate it by clicking and then click again on the desired link/button. This drives me nuts as I found out I use this all the time on Windows. I call this feature "smart focus".

points by gurraman 3 days ago replies      
I did not read the entire list, but my favorite "trick":

    CMD + SHIFT + g

... in Finder (or an open-file-dialog) opens up a "Go to folder"-dialog in which you can tab-complete your way to the desired destination. It's not perfect, but makes fs-navigation bearable in Finder.

points by vault_ 2 days ago replies      
The coolest hidden feature of OS X is probably the text input system.


points by xtacy 3 days ago replies      
What's even better is that many of the keyboard shortcuts are consistent across many applications. For e.g., Cmd-, opens Application Preferences.
points by navs 3 days ago replies      
My absolute favorite is cmd+shift+/ which brings up the Help Menu search box.
With this I can type any menu item string and execute the item rather than having to remember each shortcut.
points by mirkules 2 days ago replies      
I wish there was a way to do these (like you can in windows), maybe someone knows a way?
- Right click a file, "Send To". The nice thing about it is you can add items to the Send To folder so you can have a customized list of apps you can open files with
- Right click on a folder and "open in terminal"
- Type a path into a finder window and have finder open it
points by bbsabelli 3 days ago replies      
Don't post tips here, post them on apple.stackexchange.com so others can find them...
points by padmanabhan01 2 days ago replies      
Anyone know how to set a default view option across all folders? Like overwriting the previously set option for all folders?
points by thelibrarian 3 days ago replies      
One I like is Ctrl+Cmd+d while the pointer is over a word will pop up a small dictionary with a definition of that word. This does not work in every application (e.g. it doesn't work in Chrome or Firefox), but it should work in any Cocoa based application.
points by te_chris 2 days ago replies      
Not a native tip, but using hyperdock has made window management on OSX so much nicer thanks to it's smart porting of win 7 features like dock window previews, dragging and window to the top and having it fill the screen. Can't rave about that little app enough!
points by matthew-wegner 2 days ago replies      
CMD-down will open the selected file in the Finder (same as double-clicking).
points by jackery 2 days ago replies      
A more comprehensive DB of various tips for MacOS: http://secrets.blacktree.com/
points by experimental 2 days ago replies      
I don't use OS X, but I thought I'd share a few bits of information. Also this page demonstrates why native local software is so great - no redundancy (exposing a dictionary to all apps), low memory footprint etc.

- In 10.6 Snow Leopard, hold Space to zoom in on a window in Exposé.

- Not a hint exactly, but there exists at least one unnecessary dissatisfaction people have of Finder. In real life, you cut text and paste it in a scrapbook, but you don't cut an object like a folder with scissors in order to move it. You usually use a hand or two. Therefore the inability to "move" an object using "cut" (Cmd+X) is the correct behavior. Secondly it prevents you from accidentally pasting a file elsewhere, then needing to remember if you meant to do that, or undo. Adding visibility in some way is not enough, and you can still move by dragging the object to the desktop or wherever else.

Note: Edited for spacing.

points by _delirium 3 days ago replies      
I like ctrl+opt+cmd+8 to toggle reverse video.
points by srik 2 days ago replies      
View a powerpoint presentation: Option (or Option-Space for fullscreen)

My macbook air's measly 64 GB cannot accomodate a seperate powerpoint app, so I use the builtin preview features. It works great.

points by tristian 3 days ago replies      
Wow, I just saw this nugget in one of the comments: VI mode for the standard Terminal.

Add "set -o vi" to your profile and you get access to same modality and commands of VI. Damn, I wish I knew about this option earlier.

points by andrewgleave 3 days ago replies      
Hold Ctrl-Shift while moving your cursor over the Dock to temporarily enable magnification.

Useful when your Dock is crammed with tiles.

points by BasDirks 3 days ago replies      
Wow I feel ignorant, great stuff!
points by rtaycher 3 days ago replies      
Is there a similar one for linux?
Rails 3.1 shipping with CoffeeScript github.com
313 points by bjonathan 1 day ago   199 comments top 27
points by patio11 1 day ago replies      
Normally, I'm skeptical of "change the syntax and your life will magically get better, no matter how headachey interacting with the rest of the world will become", but then Thomas showed me Sass and it was lifechanging. (After you've gotten around Sass, CSS looks like Assembly code to a web programmer. I mean, sure, you could write it... but you'd need a damn good reason to. If you haven't tried it yet, make yourself an excuse for a weekend project -- it will make your life better.) Has anyone found CoffeeScript to be lifechanging?
points by bcrescimanno 1 day ago replies      
If I'm reading it correctly (and I'm not a Rails guy so I may be mistaken) they're making CoffeeScript the default scripting language for Rails. This strikes me as a really unfortunate decision.

There's a world of difference between fully supporting something and making it your default. Making newcomers jump through hoops to get regular javascript instead of CS (another language in which they may not be familiar) just seems like a poorly thought out plan. As someone pointed out in the GitHub comments; this is just like making HAML and SASS the defaults over HTML & CSS.

I'm not saying anything negative about these libraries; I'm certainly not an authority on them and can't speak to their effectiveness. However, the net result of a default change such as this one is reduced accessibility to newcomers.

Of course, if I'm reading it wrong and this is really just adding support for CoffeeScript to Rails, then disregard everything I just said. :)

Edit: well, don't disregard it--remember it for the future!

points by JonnieCache 1 day ago replies      
Calm down boys and girls, its opinionated software, remember? That's kinda rails' raison d'être.

I'm just disappointed they didn't have the balls to make HAML the default templating engine.

points by augustl 1 day ago replies      
Rails has a history of doing things with JavaScript that many developers disagree with. RJS is a prime example, where you would write Ruby code that generated JavaScript that assumed you used the Prototype.JS framework. And it wasn't until Rails 3.0 we got view helpers that didn't inline JavaScript.

So in my opinion we had one minor version with JavaScript I could relate to, and now we're back to where we were. But I don't mind, I'll just avoid using it.

points by ddagradi 1 day ago replies      
Really? Everyone seems to be freaking out as if Rails will no longer serve your standard JavaScript files again. Rather, by default, the generator spits out CoffeeScript templates. If you don't want to use CoffeeScript, don't use CoffeeScript and write regular JavaScript instead.

Will this confuse new users? Probably not, since the template file is going to include instructions and an explanation. Will the change break any existing sites? I really doubt it.

In the end, encouraging a better default language is a great change. New users are already required to learn to write ERB/Haml to make a Rails app; this is no different, and easily ignored if you're not interested.

points by djacobs 1 day ago replies      
I have no problem with Rails supporting CoffeeScript out of the box, as the abstraction is really good at showing the power of Javascript and not emphasizing its bad parts.

(And, come on, list comprehensions in Javascript? Awesome.)

No one is taking away your raw Javascript, it'll work just fine. This just makes it easy for people to use CoffeeScript when they first build an app. It's more of a statement than anything else.

points by oomkiller 1 day ago replies      
I don't understand what the big deal is here. All this patch does is make a application.js.coffee instead of application.js, and add support for actually generating JS from this.

One of the recurring arguments I've seen is that this change will make it harder for people to get started with Rails. I really don't understand how this is the case, because if you understand what public/javascripts is for and what javascript_include_tag does, you should also be able to write normal javascript all day long. Hell, you don't even need that, adding your own HTML to include a script into the page works too (as always). There is no need to write CoffeeScript if you don't want to/don't know how to; write all the js you want.

In reality, the only outcome of this will be more people discovering and learning CoffeeScript. I seriously doubt this will discourage anyone from learning Rails. If it does, they were bound to find something that discouraged them eventually.

points by MatthewPhillips 1 day ago replies      
Am I the only one who thinks they are propping up their successor? If you're going to learn Coffeescript, why bother with Rails at all? Just write cs both server and client side. When some one builds a mature node.js MVC framework, Rails is going to be in trouble.
points by mberning 1 day ago replies      
I love this kind of stuff, but at the same time, it presents a huge problem for software maintainability and building a scalable development team.

When I go to hire somebody it is a near certainty that they are very proficient with CSS. Sass? Probably less likely. For the sake of argument let's say I could find somebody proficient in Sass, what about all the other boutique technologies I have in my product?

At some point your product can devolve into an opaque and indecipherable hodgepodge of 'cool stuff'. Sometimes it really is better to keep things simple, even though you are causing yourself some personal pain.

points by aneth 1 day ago replies      
It's interesting that rails is headed toward whitespace significance in all its file formats, yet the most apparent difference between ruby and it's main rival Python is that whitespace is not significant.

Between yaml, sass (although not scss), haml, and coffescript, is the next step a version of ruby getting rid of end statements in favor of whitespace? I've often dreamed of such a thing.

  module Foo
module Bar
class Fubar
def boom
p "I like monkey patches"


points by MatthewPhillips 1 day ago replies      
I converted some of my javascript to coffeescript last night, and the one thing that I still feel weird about is not having void functions. I have been instead ending those functions with null, but it feels weird. Is it not the "coffeescript way" to have void style functions at all? I should try to convert these to expressions?
points by caioariede 1 day ago replies      
By default, really?

I don't like the idea neither I'm a Rails developer, but I think that this will increase the learning curve.

Let it be just a choice.

points by danest 1 day ago replies      
"Yes, it's true, Rails 3.1 is going to ship with CoffeeScript and SCSS in the box for use with the new asset pipeline. It's bad ass." @dhh


points by djhworld 1 day ago replies      
I'm a Java/Scala/Ruby developer at heart and I have very little input into front-end development.

While I've written some javascript, I wouldn't say it's very good and I'm not really that well versed in the features of Javascript either.

Would you say it's better to

a) Learn to do Javascript properly then learn CoffeeScript
b) Learn CoffeeScript and forget about Javascript?

points by apgwoz 1 day ago replies      
Disclaimer: I don't use Rails or Ruby.

Wouldn't including CoffeeScript create a new dependency on Java (to run in Rhino or what not) or Node.js? How is the CoffeeScript compiled to JavaScript if this is not the case?

points by trustfundbaby 1 day ago replies      
I don't like that its the default, it seems like something the 37signals guys like (pow was written in coffee script) so "goshdarnit! all of you have to use it".

Yes I know, you can change it.

Yes. I know its impact is probably minimal if I don't care for it.

But, I really would like to see a strong argument made for why this should be a default for Rails, especially when SASS and HAML, which have wider adoption and facetime with the Rails community aren't the default (and I think, rightfully so)

points by Aqua_Geek 1 day ago replies      
If nothing else, the core team's decision to make it default has piqued my interest in learning CoffeeScript. Anyone know of any good resources off-hand to start digging in to it?

I assume their website is the best place to start... (http://www.coffeescript.org)

points by jorangreef 1 day ago replies      
Rails 4.1 will drop Ruby and change the default language to Javascript. It's more DRY.
points by bonzoesc 1 day ago replies      
Is Rails 3.1 going to depend on having both a ruby interpreter and a JS interpreter (presumably node?) capable of running coffeescript installed?
points by nightlifelover 1 day ago replies      
Just wondering is there a framework like Rails written in JS? Using JavaScript and V8 on the server side makes a lot of sense since V8 is much faster then the Ruby interpreter..
points by chubs 1 day ago replies      
That's fantastic news! I can't wait for coffee to become widespread.
points by kapso 1 day ago replies      
Did not see this coming. IMHO one problem does not kill another problem. Dont see CS as a solution at all.
points by hoopadoop 1 day ago replies      
There is going to be some overlap of concerns once all of Sproutcore has been integrated into JQuery.
points by jaekwon 1 day ago replies      
i know what i'm using for my next project now.
points by joubert 1 day ago replies      
Isn't CoffeeScript bad for perf on mobile because, for example, its extensive (over-)use of closures?
points by weixiyen 1 day ago replies      
On that note, why bother writing Ruby, just have CoffeeScript full-stack with CS compiling to Ruby. That way developers don't need to deal with 2 languages.
points by smoody 1 day ago replies      
IMHO, this smells like a marketing move -- in the same way that merging Rails and Merb was a (brilliant) marketing move. If Rails wants to stay "cool" (and if you believe that "cool" is a zero sum game), then Rails has to stay buzzword compliant. Yes, Rails has a lot of support but the Rails team isn't stupid and they know, by definition, that it's just a matter of years before Rails itself becomes something of a relic -- one kids know of only because their daddies and mommies used to use it.
Introducing Prompt. Nice SSH for iOS. panic.com
292 points by taylorbuley 23 hours ago   131 comments top 23
points by jrockway 22 hours ago replies      
So, as a UNIX hacker, here's what I don't get about the iOS community. There is way too much excitement over the simplest things ever. Let's break down some of the copy for this app:

Prompt is a clean, crisp, and cheerful SSH client

What does that mean? What does a clean ssh client do; not commit any protocol violations? What is crisp? When you bite into it, it's like a ripe apple? What does cheerful mean? Is the ssh client really happy that it can make a TCP connection to the intarwebs, especially for me?

What does this sentence mean to someone that wants to ssh from their phone?

it helps you when you need it, and stays out of your way when you don't

So when I want to be sshing, I can run it, and when I don't want to be sshing, I don't have to run it? Splendid. It works like every other computer program ever made.

Perfect for system administrators, web developers, movie-style hackers (“Let me just TCP/IP into the UNIX port!”), or any person who needs to connect remotely and type some magic.

So I googled for "ssh client", found your page, and you're telling me who uses ssh clients. How would you get to this page without knowing what ssh is, and how would you know what ssh is without needing to use it?

Anyway, a lot of happy-sounding words for ... a program that decrypts text from the Internet and writes it to the screen.

points by jimwise 22 hours ago replies      
I'd been using touchterm for a while, and had experimented with other iOS ssh clients. They... worked, but the experience always felt a bit clunky.

I've been using prompt for a day now, and so far it feels better than the others. The app design feels really clean, the method of expanding the keyboard to handle modifier keys and frequently-used non-alpha keys works well without grabbing too much screen real estate (this is clearly visible in the screen shots for what it's worth).

Finally, the terminal emulation has been flawless for me so far. Emacs runs well (and is quite usable with Prompt's modifier key placement, unlike in other iOS ssh clients I'd tried; remember, folks, ESC is Meta, Meta is ESC). touchTerm had some screen lag/partial refresh issues for me with Emacs -- these may have been fixed in later versions, though, as I gave up at some point.

In short, I like it.

obDisclaimer: I don't know the developers. I don't have a dog in this fight. I do like the app. I'm not the only one who likes it though -- see the daringfireball take here:


points by ezy 22 hours ago replies      
iSSH is still better. Especially on an iPad, and most definitely if you use a bluetooth keyboard once in a while [1]

Furthermore, I don't understand how someone could even make the remark that an ssh client reminds them of linux, and mean it negatively. :-) I certainly don't want an the equivalent IOS SSH client to the one Apple makes for OSX -- Terminal is rather shitty.

[1] BT keyboards on ipads don't support CTRL as a modifier for all keys, you have to create a workaround. So far, iSSH is the only app I've seen that has done it (By using option and remapping).

EDIT: Ga! Read the wrong tab.. was responding to Prompt and Grubers comments on it (re: linux), but this link points to the actual app. Just clearing that up... sorry.

points by ceejayoz 22 hours ago replies      
Anyone got any ideas on getting a .pem key from EC2 into this? I got my non-EC2 id_rsa into it just fine, but .pems seem to disappear.
points by rauljara 22 hours ago replies      
Anyone downloaded this? Anyone have a sense of how it compares to any other ssh clients?

I was super excited when I downloaded TouchTerm, but it was just so difficult to do anything with it on my iPhone that I gave up, despite thinking it was very clever. The Prompt screenshots at least look a lot cleaner than TouchTerm's, but I don't want to go through another fit of excitement only to never actually use it.

points by plusbryan 23 hours ago replies      
Hey @panic - I love the shiny new products, but could you pretty please update Coda a bit? It used to be my favorite editor, but the lack of git is killing me!
points by doron 21 hours ago replies      
Slightly off-topic
I couldn't find a free SSH Ios app.

not that 4-5$ is a big deal, but there are myriad of ssh clients for free on android, no doubt due to different clientele, and different developer sentiments.

points by xuki 4 hours ago replies      
I type "exit" and the app crashes. I think this is a feature.
points by reduxredacted 17 hours ago replies      
I'm presently using iSSH, which supports port tunnels (SSH Port Forwarding as PuTTY calls it).

Could anyone enlighten me as to whether or not it supports SSH port forwarding and how well that works? iSSH works pretty well, but it pops up regularly warning that it's going to disconnect due to inactivity (despite the fact that I'm actively using the port tunnel to RDP into something).

points by twir 17 hours ago replies      
ITT: pedantry over the words "clean, crisp, and cheerful."
points by justinxreese 22 hours ago replies      
It's definitely one of the prettier SSH apps, but it faces the same barrier I've seen with other SSH apps - typing is too slow! It will sometimes be a full 2 seconds between when i finish a word and it starts appearing on the screen.

Has anyone else noticed this or found one that doesn't do this? I'm doing this on iPhone, maybe the iPad is better, but I don't see any reason why.

points by krosaen 22 hours ago replies      
A bit off topic but anyone know how they do the fancy header with the pushpin notes swaying forward as you hover over them?
points by sigil 20 hours ago replies      
Does anyone else have a major problem with the idea of using a closed-source SSH client? Even if it is App Store reviewed, I just can't bring myself to type production passwords into such a thing.

For this reason, and because I'd also like an on-the-go SSH client setup that works on other devices, it would be great to see a browser based terminal emulator and pty muxer like ajaxterm [1] really take off. It's almost there, but currently not so usable in mobile Safari.


points by cloudkj 20 hours ago replies      
I was just looking for a simple SSH client for the iPhone today, and was disappointed that all the apps cost a few pretty pennies. Any recommendations on the SSH client(s) that will get me the best bang for my buck?

EDIT: I caved and just bought Prompt. It is indeed pretty slick, though I don't have other iOS SSH clients to compare it to. There does appear to be some bugs: I can't seem to "disconnect" from a session, even though it's already hung. The little "eject" icon in the servers list doesn't seem to work.

points by twism 22 hours ago replies      
Has anyone tried GNU Screen on this yet (before I plunk down the $5)? Thanks.
points by luckydude 15 hours ago replies      
So I bought this, didn't much care for it, anyone care to tell me how to kill a connection?
points by lordlarm 23 hours ago replies      
The problem with ssh on iOS and then especially iPhone is the size of the screen. When I'm eg. connect to irssi I can maybe see one line of previous conversations.

And regarding 'Prompt', I dont see how Panic has made something 'new' here. There are several ssh clients with favorites, shortcuts and nice designs. Some are even free.

points by ignifero 20 hours ago replies      
I wonder if this would get so upvoted if it was free.
points by cambriar 20 hours ago replies      
I look forward to giving this a shot. I have been used to the Terminal application on my iPhone, even with the gestures, and it was never any fun to work with. I saw that you implemented arrows on the keyboard, and I was in. Thank you.

I believe this is my first Tier 5 purchase, I'm such a bum.

points by alexg0 22 hours ago replies      
How is this different/better then iSSH?
points by askedrelic 22 hours ago replies      
Does this have 256 color support? Anyone know of an iOS Terminal with 256 color support? Too much to ask for in a terminal? Heh.
points by mixmastamyk 19 hours ago replies      
Thanks for the advertisement. Would be nice to have a free ssh client for ipad.
points by chmike 22 hours ago replies      
This looks like spam to me.
IPad 2 gets glasses-free 3D display using front-facing camera for head tracking tuaw.com
270 points by jashmenn 3 days ago   49 comments top 17
points by jerf 3 days ago replies      
See also http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h5QSclrIdlE , which is actually a product that you can buy, though I think it was never localized for the US.

Edit: Also, http://johnnylee.net/projects/wii/ , under "Head Tracking for Desktop VR Displays using the Wii Remote" (down a bit).

(Also, to be clear, I just mean these as interesting "see alsos". I am not saying "it's been done" (so what?) or "it doesn't work" (I have no direct experience to make a judgment). Nor am I saying anyone accused me otherwise. The iPad is still a potential interesting sweet spot for this tech.)

points by drivebyacct2 3 days ago replies      
So this is "3d" now? Wow, I've got a lot of cool stuff that is 3d, including a prototype compiz plugin that does roughly the same thing. Gives you spatial context for windows on your desktop environment via Kinect and OpenCL.

I had no idea I could get away with calling this "3d", and have people in the comments thinking it's the same technology as the 3ds.

points by jodrellblank 3 days ago replies      
Johnny Lee demonstrating Wii-based head tracking using the same plates-on-sticks imagery in 2007: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jd3-eiid-Uw

Guy mounts two large framed LCDs in a wall and uses this effect to create a very effective virtual window which adjusts the view depending on viewer's position: http://www.engadget.com/2010/04/15/winscape-virtual-window-f... "Winscape") in April 2010.

points by regularfry 3 days ago replies      
Does anyone have a reference for the camera transforms this is doing? I've got as far as figuring out that it's using an asymmetric frustum, but plugging the "obvious" numbers into OpenGL gave me obviously wrong results.
points by franck 3 days ago replies      
I wonder what happens when several people try and look over your shoulder. How does it handle multiple heads?
points by edgy 3 days ago replies      
dont be fooled, this is not 3D as in "stereoscopic" 3D like avatar. You will not get the feeling of depth because for that you need a different image for each eye (only achieved with glasses or a special screen (like 3DS or at the movies). This is just a 3D geometry trick...
points by javanix 3 days ago replies      
This is pretty cool. I'm most impressed that the iPad 2 has the horsepower to do all of the face-tracking and geometry rendering.

As others have mentioned here, Johnny Lee had something similar running with the Wii hardware but as far as I remember the display was all driven by a PC which was (presumably) much more powerful than the iPad.

points by adriand 3 days ago replies      
This looks like it would support some fun new game mechanics on the iPad. I can imagine some sort of game where you have to look at the screen from different angles in order to perceive the route that your character (or a ball, vehicle, etc.) ought to take. Even something like 3D Pong would be kind of neat.
points by MichaelApproved 3 days ago replies      
This could be extended with eye tracking to create even more impressive functions.
points by spyder 3 days ago replies      
So you have to constantly move your head to have some 3D illusion, otherwise if you not moving your head it's just plain 2D. It would be more interesting to combine with stereoscopic 3D, but even with this we are still far from real 3D. The next interesting thing will be real hologram displays using rewritable holograms: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b84RBl-jgZM
points by prr 3 days ago replies      
Mr Doob tried something similar a while back...


points by Dramatize 3 days ago replies      
It's starting to feel like the future.
points by evo_9 3 days ago replies      
Is this more or less what the new nintendo handheld does? How do they differ if not?
points by hook 3 days ago replies      
This is pretty amazing. I think that this coupled with multi-touch interactivity could be pretty revolutionary. It turns the iPad into an "iWindow".
points by romaniv 3 days ago replies      
As someone said, this was done for Wii several years ago. I think the idea is more practical for iPad, since you can rotate the screen instead of moving around. I would probably be more likely to use this if the position tracking was done via gyroscope.
points by neuroelectronic 2 days ago replies      
That hurts my retenal neurons just thinking about perceiving that.
points by dengzhi 3 days ago replies      
that is sick
ReCAPTCHA Founder's New Startup: Killing Two Birds With One Stone duolingo.com
261 points by gregg1982 3 days ago   51 comments top 20
points by il 3 days ago replies      
This looks like a potentially great project, but this is probably the most badly designed landing page of all time.
The call to action is a really tiny gray icon on the bottom. It made my head hurt just trying to figure out how to sign up for their beta list.
points by w1ntermute 3 days ago replies      
For those who don't know, the founder is Luis von Ahn[0], a CMU CS professor. I know someone majoring in computer engineering there who's taken one of his courses, and apparently he's a very engaging instructor as well.

0: http://www.cs.cmu.edu/~biglou/

points by jsb 3 days ago replies      
I've seen Luis von Ahn (founder of Duolingo/ReCaptcha) speak twice about his new project (once at a CMU Project Olympus update and once at TEDxCMU a few weeks ago).

A few things that may be of interest to the HN crowd:

* This project is currently academic in nature, funded by grants he has received. However, he does see an opportunity to monetize the product if they choose to by offering translation services to companies or organizations in the future.

* The product is currently in testing. According to their metrics, the crowd-sourced translation is as accurate a professional translator. At TEDxCMU, he showed a professional translation side-by-side to a Duolingo created translation - the two were nearly identical. Likewise, according to their metrics, the education received is as good or better than the leading language education solutions (ie, Rosetta Stone).

* He showed some amazing projections on how quickly they can translate a set of text from one language to another. I forget the exact projections so don't hold me to this, but with 1,000 users it would take, say, 3 months to translate English Wikipedia into Spanish. With 1M users, it would take less than a week.

All in all pretty amazing.

points by Groxx 3 days ago replies      
Which two birds would this be? Learning and free? Captcha and translation? The page is almost 100% content-free, nothing can be derived from it.

Anyone have a blog link where someone (anyone, really) says some more information about this?

points by solipsist 3 days ago replies      
It seems that killing two birds with one stone has worked well for the founder in the past. ReCAPTCHA does it itself, so it will be interesting to follow this project and see where it ends up.
points by onwardly 3 days ago replies      
If you're interested in language-learning or travel, you may also be interested in TripLingo: http://www.TripLingo.com .

We teach you fun and interesting ways to talk like the locals, and also use language to provide insights into the culture.

We've been busting our butts for the past few months and are getting excited for our launch on May 5th (Cinco de Mayo!).

points by mdemare 3 days ago replies      
If you can't wait for Duolingo, you can start learning French, Spanish, German, Italian or Dutch vocabulary at http://inglua.com/en (a YC reject from before it became fashionable).
points by reedlaw 3 days ago replies      
It's hard to imaging how the task of translation can be combined with language learning since one requires great competency and the other requires little or no competency.
points by jawns 3 days ago replies      
Google Translate is getting pretty darn good at what it does. I'm curious to see how this compares.
points by icey 3 days ago replies      
I made a quick site a few months ago that will let you search for stuff in other languages on Twitter - it translates the results back to English for you.

For example, here's what Japanese people are saying about Fukushima: http://twitmersion.com/ja/Fukushima

Unfortunately, I couldn't figure out the magic incantation to get the courtesy limit raised at Google, nor any way to pay for more capacity so it will probably get rate limited for the day pretty quickly.

points by OJKoukaz 3 days ago replies      
Reminds me of http://www.solvemedia.com
A company from my hometown. Advertising for movies and media, within the CAPTCHA. Their conversion rates are quite impressive.
points by vl 3 days ago replies      
>Killing Two Birds With One Stone

I thought it's "killing two pigs with one bird" now. Language start-up should be more aware about these things.

points by happy_gilmore 3 days ago replies      
Seems to be a similar idea to reCAPTCHA (I'm a big fan), but this time crowdsourcing language translation.
points by plasma 3 days ago replies      
Took me a few moments to figure out what to do, would have been good to have a big green button to grab my e-mail instead.
points by archivator 3 days ago replies      
I don't know how the system would work from a technical perspective, but I can think of a few use cases from the past couple of months that fit very well. For example, all the reports coming out of the Japanese media/government. Now that I think of it, anything with time-critical data would benefit from this.
points by amichail 3 days ago replies      
What about a grammar checker using a human computation in the style of the ESP Game?


points by akuchlous 1 day ago replies      
can you guys try a xmpp based blogging : on google chat: http://gotgmail.com and leave a feedback?
points by tedxcmu 2 days ago replies      
The video of Luis von Ahn unveiling Duolingo will be available at http://tedxcmu.com/videos in 2 weeks.
points by jamesteow 3 days ago replies      
The logo loosely reminds me of the Amazon logo.
points by elirousso 3 days ago replies      
Cool idea, but there is some serious banding on that gradient in the background. Woah. Can somebody through some dither on that?
Ask HN: Why can't I make as much as I make?
251 points by nopassrecover 4 days ago   112 comments top 45
points by edw519 3 days ago replies      
Actually, it's pretty simple: supply and demand.

In the B2B world, there is a stunning demand for good software everywhere I go. Two and three year project queues are the norm. They have trouble finding anyone to get the work done, whether it's employees, contractors, or vendors, either for services or products.

Perfect example right now: I know of two large companies whose customers are demanding that they be able to enter their orders on the internet. Imagine, in 2011, large companies struggling to find people to get e-commerce working!

OTOH, I read about what other programmers are doing here on hn, and 90% of the time, my first thought is, "Why? Who would pay for that?"

To make it on your own, you have to stop building what you think people will pay for and start building what they actually will pay for. Huge difference.

Aside: I remember talking about something very simliar a few weeks ago here:


points by patio11 3 days ago replies      
I think that is the most important essay pg ever wrote, honestly. Don't read "hacker" as "programmer", read "hacker" as "maker of valuable things." Yes, you can make astoundingly more than your day job salary by making valuable things. Maybe not $3 million -- though that's less than what MicroGooFaceZon will pay per hacker at a talent acquisition these days -- but certainly more than the day job salary.

I'm 29 this week. The market wage for a 29 year old programmer in this region is about $35k annualized, or under $12 an hour. I worked for that in 2010. Also in 2010, after quitting, I did consulting work at a variety of price points. One of those price points was $200 an hour. It was in the middle of the pack, and I would need a non-monetary reason to work for $200 today, but let's take that as a starting point.

The difference between $12 and $200 an hour was not a sudden quantum leap in my programming skill. It wasn't all that spiffy to begin with -- many of you are better programmers. The biggest single difference was that I moved from a place where programming skill provides fairly little value at the margin -- writing CRUD apps to universities to e.g. print out the list of students in a particular class -- to places where I can credibly sit down with a decisionmaker and show him why N weeks of work stands to make the firm a few million dollars. Often, this translates into the decisionmaker personally making a million dollars. ("A 5% increase in conversion rates does this to the value of your stock options.") This is a nice place to be in negotiating.

Another thing which changed since I "negotiated" pay at $12 an hour: I started negotiating seriously, based on the value I could reasonably be expected to provide. The best single tactical suggestion was from Thomas (tptacek): rather than compromising on rate, compromise on scope. If $20,000 is too dear for the project budget, rather than offering to cut prices 25%, offer to cut scope 25%. OK then, no problem, we won't do that review of your email autoresponders this time. Bam, $5,000 saved. (Of course, after the "how many millions this is going to make you" discussion, price in thousands often becomes less than material.)

Does this carry over directly to product businesses? Yes, though again, you're not going to double your income because of a quantum leap in programming ability. If you succeed, it will likely be a combination of ability to make things (not to be underestimated: most people can't, after all) with a plethora of soft skills which are very difficult to find in a single person or small group of people. If you do it yourself, you get to keep the salary of the employee/consultant a firm would have to hire to get the benefit.

Bingo cards, for example, is really, really no great shakes in the programming department. The lion's share of my (modest) compensation for that isn't for programming ability, it is for identifying and alleviating a huge unmet need in the bingo cards publishing industry, which I use to sell a complement (my software). I publish more bingo cards on more topics than every "real" educational publisher worldwide combined.

And even then, BCC has many suboptimal choices about the business model. One big takeaway from bootstrapping AR is that recurring revenue -- the SAAS model -- really, really rocks. (More to come on that sometime when I get a day free to blog.)

points by thaumaturgy 3 days ago replies      
> Excluding outliers such as Gates/Zuckerberg, is the inference that a good hacker can make more from the market directly actually valid?

No, it is not.

It makes a huge number of assumptions without bothering to mention them: that the hacker is equally skilled at public relations, marketing, business management, financial management, and on and on. Running a business -- even a relatively simple one -- requires much more than, "sit down and write great code for 12 hours a day, six days a week."

As the business grows towards that $3 million / year figure, the number of business-y things that have to be successfully managed also grows.

Yes, there are stories of people who have done it (e.g., Minecraft) -- and yet, on further investigation, you often find that there's a lot more to the story than there appears to be (Angry Birds). Still, these are the exceptions, the breakout successes, and it's as foolish to go into business for yourself expecting this kind of outcome as it is to walk into a casino and expect to walk out as the big winner of the month.

I think that trying to distill the entire process down into whether or not you're a "good hacker" ignores all of the other talents and luck that are required, and also really diminishes the perception that any business acumen is required for that kind of success.

points by neild 3 days ago replies      
2. Assume a hacker can in turn be significantly more productive working for themselves.

I'm a hacker. I work at a company that employs sales people, marketers, and support staff. The software I work on makes my company money--far more than my salary. Without sales, marketing, and support, however, that software would generate no revenue at all.

I could quit my job and go into business myself making the same software. Now I need to do my own sales, marketing, and support, none of which I'm any good at, and I have no time to work on development.

Working for a company makes me significantly more productive than working for myself, because I can specialize in the things I'm good at.

This doesn't mean that I might not do better financially by going into business for myself. I absolutely, positively would not do better technical work, since I'd be constantly distracted by non-technical tasks.

points by Maro 3 days ago replies      
In my experience, it is NOT valid in general. If you simply go out on the marketplace and say, "Hey, I'm a good hacker, give me a contract job!", then clients will calculate your worth by taking the $80K figure. (Clients are much better businessman than you are, much better negotiators, and usually need you much less than you need the contract.) But, you won't have 8 hours worth of work per day, so you'll go broke.

The trick is to be more than just a general-purpose "hacker". You have to be a "Security expert" or an "iPhone SEO expert" or an "Oracle DBA"... The trick is, you have to know a market segment, and have a good understanding of what the business value of your skill/work is, and then you can charge based on that.

And of course good networking, good people skills, good self-management skills, etc. Stuff that "hackers" usually don't care about.

points by michaelochurch 3 days ago replies      
First of all, a lot of software projects fail. A successful software project is worth millions, but a failed one is worth zero or less, at least in terms of value created for immediate capture. A well-organized and large company can squeeze value (wisdom, code) out of the failed projects but small companies (which are often single software projects) just go out of business.

Second, there's risk. Capitalist society always allocates most of the reward to those who take the monetary risk, not those who do the work. From a humanist perspective, it's unfair because you are taking more risk with every job you take-- you're risking your career and health, they're just risking money, which they have in abundance-- but that's how the game works. If you don't like it, become politically active and try to change it.

Third, "business people" are better at capturing surplus value. It's about leverage, negotiation, and putting oneself in the right chair.

All that said, I don't think an unproven programmer is worth anything near $3 million per year, or even 1/20 of that. The worst programmers are not very skilled and are a liability-- negatively productive. I would say that base salaries are about right-- $50,000 for an unproven beginner, $80,000 for a top beginner, $120,000 at the mid-range, and $200,000 for experts-- but that companies should extend much, much more in the way of employee profit-sharing and creative control. Where programmers get stiffed is not in their compensation (which is quite fair) but in their lack of autonomy and "say" in how they do their jobs; often they are held back and prevented from unlocking their talents by meddling "executives" of mediocre intellect and vision. That is what should change, not base salaries per se.

points by Emore 3 days ago replies      
Reminds me of this article in the Economist: "Why do firms exist?":

"His central insight was that firms exist because going to the market all the time can impose heavy transaction costs. You need to hire workers, negotiate prices and enforce contracts, to name but three time-consuming activities. A firm is essentially a device for creating long-term contracts when short-term contracts are too bothersome."

EDIT: link: http://www.economist.com/node/17730360

points by mgkimsal 3 days ago replies      
Interesting question, and a premise that was put together by someone on the 'other side' (someone who already made it). On paper it sounds valid, but it's still much more difficult than it looks.

I do think part of it has to do with 'thinking small'. If you are shooting to make $100k, you'll be looking for activities to engage in to make $8k/month. But there's a lot of time and effort involved in getting anything started, and as such, the net result of shooting for $8k/month may be significantly less.

Many people are looking to replace a wage rather than start a business, which would almost necessarily entail growing beyond a one person org, even if only by using freelance help as needed. The effort involved in creating reproducible systems (market research, customer acquisition, product development, support, etc), as oppposed to just hacking on code, is far greater than most people realize. Not that it can't be done, of course.

points by scotty79 3 days ago replies      
"Money for valuable effort" - world does not work like that.

World is built of cash pipes and 99% people just tap into them (salary) or builds their own thin pipes (lifestyle business?). 1% of clever people from time to time manages to build new fat pipe but who and when it's almost due to sheer luck. Experience and smarts don't help you win the lottery, they just buy you a ticket.

When you work for yourself you make an attempt at building new pipe but all you can usually do is build thin pipe and even if you are draining 100% of it it's still less than what you could get if you just tapped to someone else's fat pipe, even if your work doesn't do anything to make the pipe fatter or even harms it. It's most apparent for people in financial sector but I believe it's true for everybody.

That's why most people have salary and try to build something own after hours. This way they are getting a shot at building own cash pipe while still not passing on opportunity at draining someone else's fat pipe.

Oh and it's much easier to widen already fat pipe that to build your own as fat as the amount of the widening. That's probably the answer to your question.

points by crasshopper 3 days ago replies      
1. Salaried people demand very strict floors on their earnings. It's completely unrealistic in business. Imagine saying you won't open a toy store unless someone guarantees that you will make at least $XX,000 in the first year (with guaranteed pay rises each year).

2. Coming up with good business ideas is hard.

3. Your wage in an office environment is strongly related to your ability to harm the bottom line by leaving, your ability to play politics, and your credentials. Your wage as an entrepeneur is entirely related to your ability to get customers to pay you or to get investors to invest in you. In my experience the two skill sets are negatively correlated.

4. In addition to being exposed to and responsible for the entire risk distribution, costs that a corporation spreads out over many people (incl. health insurance) are focused narrowly on an entrepreneur. Remember how you used to be able to make phone calls from the office and still be on the clock?

5. Lastly, hackers' skills are often complementary to other parts of a business but not sufficient to establish a new business with ≥ marginal value. {Sales ⋃ hackers} > {sales} + {hackers}.

There are many good reasons to believe that hackers can make more money freelancing than working for a single company. Starting a new company is a totally different proposition.

points by hung 3 days ago replies      
The simple explanation does not factor in economies of scale. You might make a good wage working for someone else because they have some kind of market advantage. Would 100 mini-Googles that were 1/100th the size of Google make as much money? No, because their advantage (at least in selling ads) has to do with the fact that they have such a high percentage of the inventory.

I'm not saying some hackers can't make more than their salary's worth by going alone, but the argument is way too simplified to account for the real world.

points by dabent 3 days ago replies      
"working for themselves"

Maybe I'm reading too much into that, but if you're thinking of going it alone, you might not get very far. Gates, Zuckerberg and most of the rest had others they teamed with from the start. Pg is very big on co-founders for that reason. Smart hackers have made 3 million a year (and up) by teaming with other smart hackers.

There's a difference between a freelancer and a startup, and in the "How to Make Wealth" I've always assumed pg is referring to small teams making things many people want (startups), because that's the theme of so much of his writing.

points by brianbreslin 3 days ago replies      
most hackers do the following (from my knowledge of my friends)
- devalue their self-worth (I can't really charge $200 for 15min of my work right?)
- waste their time on things they find intriguing (solving problems not many have), that aren't ultimately profitable
- coast through easy non-challenging jobs which leaves them w/less time to strike out on their own.
- lack of business acumen (business acumen != tech acumen)

I have a brilliant friend who is helping his friends work on a potentially dead end project because "I don't have anything else to work on"
you also forget these outliers have other factors helping them: solving common problems, existing connections (gates + IBM connection), etc.

points by csomar 3 days ago replies      
The question is: Is the hacker going to hack or run a business?

If he is going to hack only (considering he has found someone who is going to pay based on his output), then he should be able to make what he actually worths.

If he is going to start a business, then he is going to become an Entrepreneur. And that means, he requires a hell lot more of skills like Copywriting, Sales, Customer care, Networking, SEO... (just to name a few)

points by jdavid 3 days ago replies      
I think this is proven at companies like Google, and Nintendo.

If you divide total revenue of the company amongst all of its employees, Google still makes say 1-2M per employee, and Nintendo has been reported to earn in revenue 2-3M per employee during the heyday of the Wii.

The key to making this work though is being able to have a product market fit. Or in the HN religion, 'make things people want'.

Secondly I think there are a great number of inefficiencies that can occur if say a product could earn you $3M per engineer/ hacker and you are able to get at-least $40k per engineer/ hacker, as you work to narrow that delta you will refine your nitch, and craft.

If however the revenue does not scale, meaning, it's not easy enough to grab something for your poor/ unskilled efforts, I think it's hard to wiggle your way to the top and reach $3M per person.

I think this is why HN/ VCs tends to fund people in strong existing markets which are begging for an update.

It's too expensive to educate someone on your value, and to build the market, even though there are some entrepreneurs that are really good at that.

points by peat 3 days ago replies      
There are a few ways to look at this problem, but the fundamental skill set for being independent isn't necessarily your hacking ability -- it's your ability to find a market, and successfully sell your talents and/or a product.

I can speak from over ten years of freelancing and working for startups: learning how to communicate effectively with non-technical people, understanding how to sell your services and/or products, and figuring out what market your skills are most valuable in ... that is the trick to making good money.

I've picked up a few good habits, and it has significantly increased my income, but fundamentally there are only 24 hours in a day, and one of me.

Here's my take: a highly skilled, professional, experienced, and independent freelance software developer can bring home $150k in a good year. That's nearly $200,000 before taxes, and represents an hourly rate of about $150 to $200 per hour (there's a fair amount of of downtime for freelancers and consultants).

You won't make $200 per hour selling your services as a developer to SMEs and startups (the typical market for freelance developers). That kind of money is usually reserved for solving significant problems for big businesses.

On the other hand, can make an equivalent amount at a lower rate by starting starting your own development agency and hiring other developers ... and sales people ... and administrative staff. But that means you're not really out on your own, and your value is in successfully managing people -- not being a "smart hacker working very hard."

The other way to make a significant amount of money is to build a product that people love. This isn't an easy task. I'd venture that a significant number of people on HN have actually tried building their own products.

There's a very good reason why hard working and smart software developers aren't making $3 million each year -- it's because it's extremely hard to do, requires a skill set that is far broader than simply writing good code, and also involves a lot of luck (being the right person, at the right time, in the right place). We happen to have a skill that is in demand and pays well, but that does not make us brilliant business people.

All that aside: working for yourself can be an extremely rewarding experience in and of itself, and over time you will make a good amount of money as you hone your craft and business skills. I love what I do, and I strongly encourage others to try it out if they're interested in the independent work- and lifestyle.

tl;dr? Independent, smart, hard working hackers can make good money, but the $3M / year figure is bullshit.

points by petervandijck 3 days ago replies      
The company has a mix of activities which end up generating money.

(developing + x + y + z + brand + existing clients + ...) = $$$

If you leave that company, and develop 3 times more efficiently, you'll still be missing those other activities and you might not make any money.

(developing x 3) = :(

Related is the observation that, in most large companies that I've observed, a large amount of people do "work" that actually contributes almost nothing, and if you take into account their salary, has a negative contribution. Still, those companies are profitable.

(developing + x + y + z - a - b) = $$$

points by praptak 3 days ago replies      
> 2. Assume a hacker can in turn be significantly more productive working for themselves.


3. All things being equal,

Here. All things are not equal between a lone hacker and a company. You won't get that lucrative contract your employer won.

points by clueless123 3 days ago replies      
IMHO, Hackers are usually very poor negotiators. (I assume because we are fact based thinkers)

In life, you never get what you deserve, you get what you negotiate.

points by richcollins 3 days ago replies      
Assume a hacker can in turn be significantly more productive working for themselves

You might be more productive working for yourself but that doesn't necessarily translate to making more money/wealth. Companies are like big socialist states where the productivity of the few is transferred to the rest. Most of the wealth in companies was created when the early team figured out how to make money. Figuring out how to make money is incredibly hard to do. It's probably a better bet (financially) to siphon off this wealth than to try to go out and create more yourself.

points by thailandstartup 3 days ago replies      
There's three factors I can think of -

Number one is that it is an uneven distribution. Some hackers might make millions, some will make nothing.

Number two is that hackers may focus too much on doing the work they understand and enjoy, when all parts of a business need attention (like sales and networking).

Number three is that 3 million just sounds a bit on the high side.

points by wh-uws 3 days ago replies      
I would also add that there are unfortunately alot of hackers that don't understand a pretty central business rule.

Closed mouths don't get fed.

They never ask for or seek market wages. And the business people they seems to fall into the hands of get wide eyed and/or start slick talking (because to them they've found a sucker) and next thing you know they're working crazy hours and taking a low wage because "they're just coding" "some else's" "big idea (TM)"

Many say things like "I don't really care about money." or "I can wait a couple of years."

And those things can be true but if they were a bit braver and spoke up or found employment with a group who appreciates their talents they would get paid better.

points by devspade 3 days ago replies      
I think one of the issues is sales/customer generation. Most hackers are good at that - hacking. Not at selling themselves, their services or generating leads and customers.
points by synnik 3 days ago replies      
"should be able to do work worth about $3 million a year."

Note that he says you can DO work WORTH $3 million. That quote says nothing about actually selling that work, or getting it in the first place.

points by EwanToo 3 days ago replies      
I think that's a pretty gross oversimplification of what Paul says, that quote is from pretty much right at the top of the essay, and he then goes on to spend several pages saying why it's not that simple.

He especially isn't talking about lone hackers working for themselves, but ones working at startups - the very first line of the essay is "If you wanted to get rich, how would you do it? I think your best bet would be to start or join a startup".

The difference between a lone hacker working for a per-day rate and a startup is the lone hacker doesn't have a value "multiplier", where 1 days work can be resold many times, whether through product sales or something else.

And for the lone hacker who is building a product, well, most hackers are really bad at doing a sales job...

points by apaulsmith 3 days ago replies      
The amount you can capture value in a 'big company' depends a lot on the industry you are in.

If you are in the right niche, say finance then A.N Other Big Bank will pay 1,000 to 1,200 USD per day for good programmers and more like 1,200 to 1,500 USD per day for excellent programmers.

Now if you are capturing 300K USD per year for your programming skills jumping into a start-up looks like a significantly higher risk proposition than at 80K USD per year.

This is a point that I kind of feel is missed a lot on HN. One of the reasons you see less start-ups in NYC, LDN, etc is simply because it's too easy to make good enough money that the hunger simply doesn't exist.

points by natch 3 days ago replies      
I guess he's just simplifying things, but the more complex truth is that a hacker's worth to the company is unlikely to so neatly correspond to a salary figure like that. (BTW that salary figure is about 10 years out of date; hackers are making more like 130-150k now, if only salary is considered). I've had years where my worth was 1x my salary, 10x my salary, and 100x my salary, based on unique contributions where I took the initiative to do things that most others would not have. I suspect most of us have good years like that, but they partly happen because of the context in which you work. It would have been unlikely for me to have such big contributions without being part of a team that was also contributing a lot.
points by huetsch 3 days ago replies      
That 3 million figure is operating under the assumption that the hacker already has good market research (he is building something people want) and distribution (he is able to get it to those people). Those are the costs you are paying for when you work for a large company.

If the hacker does not have those two things, it is quite likely that he will generate significantly less than 3 million dollars of value.

points by revorad 3 days ago replies      
why does it seem most hackers struggle to capture even half their regular wage from the market directly?

Marketing and selling is hard. And programmers have varying degrees of build-it-and-they-will-come syndrome.

I'm trying to help solve that problem with my new project. Please consider signing up if you want to sell more - http://laughingcomputer.com.

points by jcampbell1 3 days ago replies      
It is absurd that a smart hacker is 30x better than a mediocre hacker. I consider myself slightly above average, and I look at the smartest hackers' code on github, and it is not 30x better at delivering customer value than mine. Maybe 2x at best. Many times the code delivers 1% of the value of my code because it is full of architecture astronat garbage that I am not smart enough to write.
points by shareme 3 days ago replies      
Its skewed by a certain economic bias..what bias?

You see software units once the first one created has zero cost of duplication as far as producing that next unit to sell to someone..so that economic bias is the assumption that the smart hacker is able to produce a desirable product or service that one can monetize..

Let me give you an example:

The average right now for 2d games on android market is 20k in downloads over 3 months. At $1.99 that works out to about $10,000 net every 3 months from one game. And that is recurring income. Most 2d games take one month to code, thus realistically doing 5 games could net over $100,000 per year after taxes!

points by Vitaly 3 days ago replies      
From my experience if you are any good you might get some income dive when you go independent but it should sort itself out within a year or two.
That being said, working as a consultant requires different skill-set then just hacking on some software for 'the man'. You can be super brilliant when doing tech work but miserable when dealing with people, selling, managing your own time, etc. In such situation you have only 2 options: a) change and learn to deal with people, or b) work for a company that can utilize your skills while "protecting" you from the outside world. some people choose (b), others choose (a).
points by veyron 3 days ago replies      
The rule of thumb is that the company expects to generate profits at least one order of magnitude larger than your salary. Hence I would say the 80K hacker should be able to do work worth about 1 M a year to the company.

This gets back to PG's second assumption: "Assume a hacker can in turn be significantly more productive working for themselves."

Most hackers are not more productive working for themselves for a multitude of reasons, some of which have been discussed (i.e. lack of marketing focus) but I think that most hackers who work for someone else hone very specific skills that are suited to the task at hand, which build value for the companies they are working for, but those skills arent necessarily valued in the marketplace.

points by mike_esspe 3 days ago replies      
If you have non-programming skills like SEO, sales, PR (or eager to learn them), than it's certainly true, that you can get a lot more, than your current wage.

The problem for me with working on my own is laziness - sometimes i can work for whole days without interruption, sometimes i skip months without any work.

points by daimyoyo 3 days ago replies      
"2. Assume a hacker can in turn be significantly more productive working for themselves."

This premise is fundamentally flawed for one simple reason. When you are working for someone else, you just come to work, sign in, and start coding. The question of actually having work to do is solved long before you ever set foot in the office. When you're working for yourself, a big portion of your time has to be spent looking for work. And that's time you can't spend coding, ergo you aren't making money for it. That's why people working independently will generally earn less than people in a company, all other things being equal.

points by antidaily 3 days ago replies      
Network, network, network... because you're not a salesperson. Maybe you have those traits but most hackers don't. So you must rely upon being good at what you do and letting people who have work know you're reliable and available so they will funnel you work.

If you're not interested in consulting or freelance, network anyway. You'll need a list of contacts to tell about your startup.

points by erikb 3 days ago replies      
You are quite smart and you guessed right. Start-ups are not a guarantee to win the lottery. PG makes money with people being interested in start-ups, so he tells you about as much of the advantages as possible. And it is not like he's lying or hiding something. From all the facts he just emphasizes the ones that he thinks favor his own situation most. Both "smart hacker" and "working hard" can be interpreted in different ways. Not much of a surprise, isn't it?
points by bemmu 3 days ago replies      
Because you start from scratch, instead of improving upon something already big. You might make more money by making Google 0.01% more popular than by making your smaller startup 1% more popular, while the effort could be similar.
points by mapster 3 days ago replies      
I recently started asking my clients if I could interview them - so I could learn about the sales process (they are sales reps - i provide a one off service for them now). Sales people love to talk, so I spent on average 2 hrs per interview x 10 interviews last month. Almost every person I spoke with TOLD ME a product or service they need. They also described their sales process from lead gen to close and support. If you have hacking chops, talk to people.
points by epynonymous 3 days ago replies      
as a poor man, i've learned that there are no shortcuts in life. as an optimistic poor man, i believe that 80k can indeed be re-valued to 3m, but not overnight, and certainly there are barriers and heavy risks associated. so this is where you really need to dig deep and figure out the truth behind all of this--are you just looking for a shortcut or do you really enjoy the path to potential enlightenment?
points by teyc 3 days ago replies      
I think pg's idea of a hacker is not a person who only hacks code, but it is more like "Venture hacks", "marketing hacks". To hack is

a) the process of grokking through hacking

b) the process/mindset of circumventing apparent barriers in front of you.

Both are very hard, and require a great deal of street smarts.

points by querulous 3 days ago replies      
Effort is multiplicative. While 50% of your effort might provide $500k of value to a company, 100% of your effort might be worth nothing without the structure and support provided by that company.
points by nbuggia 3 days ago replies      
I think the gap is not how much value the hacker generates, it is how much value they get from the corporation.

If you are independent, than you loose out on all the value the corporation provides above & beyond your salary. Things like:
- Taxes on revenue. The corporation pays state/federal taxes on the income you help generate. You would have to pay this on your own, and it can be expensive.
- Limited legal liability. They have lawyers and deep pockets to dissuade lawsuits, and fight them if necessary. Most corporations protect individual employees. You would have to pay for this on your own.
- Sales force. Demand generation is very expensive
- Healthcare. Yeah, very expensive.
- Office space.
- Training, travel, budgets.
- Hardware, etc.

Basically, take everything captured under "General administrative expenses" and divide that by the number of employees in the company. This is the amount of value each hacker gets above & beyond their pay.

This gap isn't insurmountable, and you probably don't need all the services, but it explains much of the 'barrier to entry' for hackers going rouge.

points by vlokshin 3 days ago replies      
It's because most engineers stare at the feet of a client when talking to them, and people with money (that don't understand tech) don't like that.

Simple as that.

Tech - Normal liaisons will (hopefully) be a growing market in coming times. I'm being selfish in saying that :)

points by shahoo 3 days ago replies      
"The whole is greater than the sum of its parts."
" Aristotle
"Diff for HN": Update and highlight changes mrspeaker.net
229 points by mrspeaker 4 days ago   30 comments top 16
points by pak 4 days ago replies      
Want to package this up into a Chrome extension (maybe as a userscript)? Then people could run it without clicking on a bookmarklet.
points by phreeza 4 days ago replies      
Wow, this is great. Love the animated Y, too.

Two suggestions, maybe to add as options:

- open both comments and articles in new tabs automatically, since the assumption is power users keep the home page open anyway.

- Display the new comment and vote count as a difference? Seems more intuitive to me.

points by aditya42 4 days ago replies      
I took the liberty of turning this into a userscript. Since I was running into trouble accessing global variables from the injected scripts, I forked Mr. Speaker's project and changed the relevant bits in the code.

Edit: Changed all my links to point to mrspeaker's master except the loader. Any changes he makes should get reflected automatically.

Link: http://userscripts.org/scripts/show/100977

points by mgrouchy 4 days ago replies      
This is pretty neat, it has proven its usefulness already.

+1 for a Chrome extension though, I don't know if I am going to remember to keep clicking the bookmarklet.

points by obeattie 4 days ago replies      
This is awesome.

So awesome in fact, that I really wanted this as a browser extension. I quickly packaged it for Chrome, and have published it on the Extension Gallery for all you hackers. Get it while it's fresh:

Enjoy :)

P.S. The (very minimal) source is on GitHub, too: https://github.com/obeattie/HackemUp-extension

points by aditya42 4 days ago replies      
I think turning this into a userscript will play into the whole 'keep HN open all the time' better since you can just open HN, pin the tab and let the userscript work its charm.
points by trotsky 3 days ago replies      
In case anyone else is in this situation, I would get the spinning Y from time to time but never would see anything highlighted. It took me a few minutes of thinking about it to realize that I'd need to turn off my AutoPatchWork extension (similar to AutoPagerize) so that the content was in the expected form. It works now! Too bad I can't live without AutoPatchWork.
points by mgkimsal 3 days ago replies      
Could you have this automatically load all links in new tabs?
points by yuvadam 4 days ago replies      
This is the best thing ever :)

Amazing functionality packed into a single bookmarklet. I love it.

points by bossjones 4 days ago replies      
Fantastic tool. I salute you and want to yell at you at the same time for making me stay here longer then I do already(haha). Great work friend.
points by mryall 3 days ago replies      
Great explanation on how it works. I was wondering the other day whether there was a way to tell when a tab gets the focus to autoupdate content. Now I know I can use window.focus and window.blur.
points by ssn 3 days ago replies      
If you need a tool like this, I would recommend turning on the anti-procrastination HN filter.
points by Ruudjah 3 days ago replies      
"A calm river of nerditry"
points by asymmetric 4 days ago replies      
How does the 'drag bookmarklet to tab' thing work in Chrome? Where's the bookmarklet installed? (not among the bookmarks it seems) How can it be uninstalled?
points by swah 4 days ago replies      
I only I could Shift+A HN, Twitter and Quora, I would beat procrastination!
points by davidjhall 4 days ago replies      
Rats! I use HackerNews UX and HackemUp won't work with it. Decisions...decisions...
VMware launches Node.js, Rails and Spring PaaS cloudfoundry.com
223 points by Smrchy 2 days ago   56 comments top 13
points by antirez 2 days ago replies      
With support for MySql, MongoDB, and Redis on the DB side :
points by dabeeeenster 2 days ago replies      
What do they mean by "Spring applications"? That's quite obscure. Do they mean they handle .war J2EE applications? Or they only support Spring libraries?
points by rmoriz 2 days ago replies      
Link to github repos https://github.com/cloudfoundry
points by hasenj 2 days ago replies      
Very interesting. I'm glad more Heroku-like services are sprining up, specially with support for Node.js

This is a much needed service, and although some solutions already exist, they're far from perfect, and there's certainly lots of space for competition.

points by MatthewPhillips 2 days ago replies      
No price given. I'll keep using AppEngine until someone at least comes close to matching their freemium model.
points by tlrobinson 2 days ago replies      
It definitely makes sense for VMware to build and open source this, since their core business is selling the virtualization software this runs on top of (I assume).

Though I wonder how much of it is really VMware specific, or if it would be relatively easy to port to Xen, etc.

Edit: actually it appears it might be agnostic to the virtualization layer.

points by rmoriz 2 days ago replies      
I was suprised no virtualisation is included in the solution (or I did not find the parts in the github repos). Seriously, shared-hosting is so 1996 from a security perspective.

So for me It will be "just" an "internal cloud" solution and maybe replace capistrano. Still, puppet and chef will do the "physical"/"system" provisioning for my customers and my projects.

points by mcantelon 2 days ago replies      
"the industry's first open platform as a service".

First? How is this different from Heroku and other such folks?

points by wattersjames 2 days ago replies      
If you are in the bay area on the 13th the Cloud Foundry team is hosting its first meetup. Come ask the tough questions to engineering:


points by tga 2 days ago replies      
Well, to make the license question easier, their invite request form is utterly unusable on Android. I apparently need to 'scroll to the bottom' to submit to a dubiously enforceable license before even being allowed to see their beta, exciting action made anyway imposible by the broken design.

Node.js notwithstanding, this tastes from the start like a proper enterprise service.

points by neeleshs 2 days ago replies      
Any chance of getting Python/Django support in the near future?
points by justinksd 2 days ago replies      
Was anybody else surprised that Ryan Dahl actually spoke at the CloudFoundry Webinar? Seems like a conflict with Joyents no.de hosting solution.
points by acconrad 2 days ago replies      
This seems fine for fun apps or testing, but I would be incredibly concerned to agree with these terms of service if I was running production software or charging for it.

From their terms of service:

b. Your Applications and Code. If You create online applications or program code using the Service, You authorize Cloud Foundry to host, copy, transmit, display and adapt such applications and program code, solely as necessary for Cloud Foundry to provide the Service in accordance with this Agreement. Subject to the above, Cloud Foundry acquires no right, title or interest from You or Your licensors under this Agreement in or to such applications or program code, including any intellectual property rights therein.

...and yet somehow you own exclusive rights to the data.

Collection of documents that startups commonly need: Privacy Policy, NDA, etc... pearwords.com
207 points by x03 1 day ago   25 comments top 5
points by duck 1 day ago replies      
I like the idea, but I just don't see startups needing or using an email disclaimer. Plus they are pretty much worthless legal wise - http://www.economist.com/node/18529895.
points by woodall 1 day ago replies      
I know you are not offering legal advice, which IMO is good, but has the language in any of these documents been looked over by a profession/practicing lawyer? Other than that, these are great; I'll be using the Privacy Policy and NDA.
points by jamiecurle 1 day ago replies      
The privacy policy states

  PearWords does not...
Place "cookies" (small text files) on your system for any reason.

I would beg to differ, it may be Google Analytics dropping the cookies on pearwords' behalf, but they're still there. (http://d.pr/D3oy)

points by blhack 23 hours ago replies      
This is excellent, thank you to whoever is putting it together.
Simple algorithms openmymind.net
204 points by taylorbuley 1 day ago   32 comments top 14
points by baddox 21 hours ago replies      
I like the writing style and simplicity of presentation. I would recommend putting some thought into the order and organization of the articles. Perhaps you should have "main" articles about data structures, then sub-articles about the algorithms that are relevant to them (e.g. "binary search" could be under "arrays," "heapsort" and "priority queue" operations under "heaps," etc.). Obviously, it's a challenge to choose the order and organization of topics and subtopics"it's essentially the task of developing a curriculum.

If you plan on doing some tree/graph algorithms, perhaps you could have a brief introduction to the topic by talking about trees and graphs in general, then proceeding by discussing heaps, simple binary trees (which can branch off into more advanced topics like the various balanced binary trees), and so forth.

As a side note, I think binary trees are a great visual way to introduce the concept of asymptotic running time in a more accessible/pragmatic (albeit less rigorous) way, by showing that the more balanced a binary tree is, the fewer steps it will take on average to find an element (approaching the best-case of log base 2 of n). You can show how a worst-case unbalanced binary tree degrades to a linked list.

points by jcampbell1 22 hours ago replies      
A fantastic set of articles. I do think that tutorials in general obsess over sorting too much. Rather than expanding this with dozens of sorting algos, it would be nice to see a treatment of trees and graphs. Lay the foundation for someone to understand search trees, huffman coding, A*, etc.
points by damncabbage 5 hours ago replies      
This site is great! I love the way latch has presented the examples with each concept. (I would've begged for something like this ten years ago when I was still in highschool.)

I would love if he could take this further and, say, cover graph algorithms in the same way the Linked List was done here.

points by tszming 1 day ago replies      
points by nikolaplejic 1 day ago replies      
I really like the simplicity and the choice of language. I think a comments / discussion section would be useful, for people to ask questions, talk about the ways to make the articles even better and perhaps translate the code to other languages.

All in all - I hope you keep up the good work, solid tutorials like these make it more compelling to keep up with the basics and learn new things from the "CS 101" department.

points by Apocryphon 20 hours ago replies      
I've seen many of these "intro to algo" presentations and I have to say this is one of the best. I suppose the Web 2.0 minimalist style helps to facilitate understanding very well. Perhaps there could be sites that could provide math tutorials in the same way.
points by tcarnell 6 hours ago replies      
Nice! Great idea for a site - actually, I kinda had a similar idea when I registered "algolution.com" - the idea being to have a library of algorithms AND people can add implementations in different languages and of course vote up which are the best.

In addiation I had thought to add a 'live run' feature so that you could actually run 1 or more algorithms together and compare performance/memory usage etc!

hmmm... if we defined an API for running a piece of code and returning results, we could build a series of independant web applications that could run sandboxed code in different languages live on the web...

points by mfonda 22 hours ago replies      
I really like this idea, thanks for putting this up. I think it would be nice to additionally split it up into a data structures section and an algorithms section.
points by f1gm3nt 20 hours ago replies      
http://www.youtube.com/user/AlgoRythmics By far the best. Is it possible to implement something like this?
points by nickconfer 23 hours ago replies      
I had this same idea the other day. Glad to see someone made this. I hope you add more content in the future.

From a teaching perspective I think it would be great to see the math behind this as well to get the worst case scenerio.

points by giltotherescue 23 hours ago replies      
Yes! Thank you for putting this together.
points by thurn 22 hours ago replies      
Is this open source? Nice visuals.
points by olragon 21 hours ago replies      
you are my sunshine
points by Rickasaurus 22 hours ago replies      
Oh look, it's 200 level CS algorithms.
Pictures of the first GUIs from Xerox digibarn.com
202 points by coliveira 1 day ago   35 comments top 20
points by thought_alarm 22 hours ago replies      
There are a few demos of the Xerox Star floating around on YouTube. Seeing it in action gives you a much more complete picture of the system.


The "look" was obviously hugely influential, the "feel" not so much. It is quite an odd beast, as the mouse is actually only used for selecting objects.

The Lisa GUI prototypes are also and interesting bit of GUI trivia. It's easy to see the Star's influence on the final shipping version of the Lisa GUI compared to its prototypes.


points by jgrahamc 23 hours ago replies      
I'm old enough to have used these machines and what's interesting is that I remember well how much of a 'wow' it was to get to use a lovely user interface like that. Since then I haven't seen a real step change in user interface until we moved recently to sensitive touch screen devices.
points by mcritz 21 hours ago replies      
This is amazing! It's hard to imagine these images are real given how complex and beautiful the UI design is.

· Multiple fonts.

· Multiple, simultaneous languages.

· Dithered graphics to simulate value, tone, and shading.

· Rounded buttons.

· Use of line-weight to simulate dimension.

points by rbanffy 23 hours ago replies      
I'm impressed by the utmost attention to details. I remember similar care when working with educational software for Apple IIs - we limited our 50% checkerboard pattern to 279x191 (instead of the 280x192 maximum) in order to be able to do exactly the same rounded corners on all four corners of the screen.

At times, the guy who came up with these ideas infuriated me, but, in hindsight, I am very glad I surrounded myself with such perfectionists.

points by Luyt 22 hours ago replies      
From the same site, stories from back then:

"My Cajun country upbringing had never taken me any further west than Dallas. And since I wanted to make a good first impression on my new California friends, I purchased a spanking new three-piece navy blue polyester suit, super-wide ‘70s tie, platform shoes and the finest imitation naugahyde briefcase I could find and made my first reservations at Rickey's Hyatt House.

I arrived at the lobby of PARC, resplendent in polyester and cheap Old English cologne, and was met by Charles Irby… ponytail, scruffy beard, tie-dyed t-shirt, khaki shorts and Birkenstock sandals. He welcomed me warmly, and then took me around to meet the eclectic cast of colorful characters and future luminaries that made up the Star development team. As we toured the offices, and the more folks I met, and the more beanbag chairs I saw, the more conspicuous, foreign and puritanical I began to feel… a penguin in the company of parrots. And yet, I was embraced and welcomed into this cadre of characters. It would not take me long to assimilate."

points by pholbrook 19 hours ago replies      
I remember I was working on the desktop part of the system, and we were implementing "background copy" - and the hardest part was figuring out what the UI should be for doing a foreground copy vs a background copy. (The Star had tiled windows, not overlapping, so there wasn't a model of just letting a status window overlap.)
points by daralthus 15 hours ago replies      
Worth to check out the "Mother of all demos" too, where Douglas Engelbart shows of the mouse, email, wordprocessor etc. in 1968!



points by epenn 1 day ago replies      
Actually the first GUIs from Xerox were on the Alto, which the Star is based on (see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Xerox_Alto). Although this is certainly from the first that was available commercially.

Nonetheless, these screenshots are amazing and show how groundbreaking the GUI concept was at the time.

points by bostonpete 23 hours ago replies      
Very impressive. One inconsistency stands out given the careful attention to detail. In this image, they make a point of emphasizing that background pixels should be split to form a cleaner edge:


...but this image shows that most of the top of a folder icon (not including the tab) did not split the background pixel:


points by hootmon 3 hours ago replies      
I will never understand why Xerox did not sue the pants off Jobs when he stole 99% of this visual gui design and then claimed forever onward that Apple was responsible for it.

The thing that killed this was at that time no company was going to spend close to the salary of a typist to outfit said typist with this kit. (I believe it was in the 10-20K range.)

points by rudiger 4 hours ago replies      
Over thirty years later and so little has changed... I think Alan Kay had a quote about there being no significant new inventions in computing since 1980.
points by rsbrown 23 hours ago replies      
Wow, I see the Mac, Amiga and other next gen UIs that came soon afterwards in these. I'm also struck by how much more appealing these screenshots appear than the early versions of Microsoft Windows.
points by shin_lao 7 hours ago replies      
I'm pretty sure someone could come up with a skin for a desktop (KDE, Gnome, whatever...) very close to these screenshots and it would still feel very modern.

Timeless classic?

ps: Too bad the JPG compression is that heavy!

points by kingsidharth 3 hours ago replies      
This get's us back to basics. It's interesting how some things like "Title bar" and Scrolling never changed.
points by rplacd 1 day ago replies      
The typography demos are oddly tasteful. http://www.digibarn.com/collections/screenshots/xerox-star-8... seems like a dig at the Lisa - it does seem woefully inadequate there for DTP.
points by pholbrook 19 hours ago replies      
This shot - http://www.digibarn.com/collections/screenshots/xerox-star-8... - third row down, second across - is actually a screenshot of XDE, the Xerox Development Environment. The window is Hardy, the XDE mail tool.

Note the use '!' to mark commands that you can click on.

points by elliottcarlson 23 hours ago replies      
Seems to be down for me - gotta love CoralCDN: http://www.digibarn.com.nyud.net/collections/screenshots/xer...
points by RyanMcGreal 18 hours ago replies      
I'm getting a "Network Error (dns_server_failure)" when I try to load the site.
points by nixy 10 hours ago replies      
Wow, it even had a wallpaper.
points by coldnose 16 hours ago replies      
Am I mistaken, or is this a whole-cloth Lisa screenshot?


White Hat SEO: It F$#ing Works seomoz.org
198 points by ssclafani 4 days ago   52 comments top 15
points by patio11 4 days ago replies      
This is largely true, and you should read it. One caution: SEO is a little bit of marketing and a little bit of engineering. You know what both of these fields have in spades? Project risk. You can do competent execution of a good idea which "should" work, even an idea which does work simultaneously for someone else, and have it fizzle on you.

I am totally not saying this wearing my consultant who wants your money hat: you often will make repeated investments in getting this right, have no discernible success with some, and continue having to do so for forever as your business evolves. It isn't a matter of tweaking titles once and getting back to "real work."

points by a5seo 4 days ago replies      
Another reason to stay whitehat that Rand doesn't mention: it can screw your acquisition prospects.

Anyone in the business of buying SEO-driven sites (Demand Media, Internet Brands, Quinstreet, Specific Media, WhaleShark Media, etc.) looks VERY closely at the backlink profiles of acq candidates. They aren't going to do it unless they're clean, or if they sense there were blackhat links, they're going to discount the price massively.

I've watched several acquisitions go down the drain on account of perceived spam.

points by corin_ 4 days ago replies      
Loads of examples of companies that have apparently seen success with "white hat" SEO doesn't prove anything, without also showing what they have done to get that search ranking, and also showing that they haven't used "black hat" techniques.
points by mattmanser 4 days ago replies      
The bit that confuses me is the list he included of what an SEO needs to do. It seems to me that as an SEO he's actually forgotten what his job is. There's a lot in that list that have absolutely nothing to do with SEO.

The clue is in the name SEO. Search Engine Optimization. Out of the entire list, only a third are SEO.

This is something I've seen SEO people and UX people do in so many blogs. They're not really sure what their job is so they pick a bunch of fun business stuff they'd actually like to be doing, that they have little or no experience in and call it SEO/UX. Then they can work on fun stuff which a business doesn't actually need, possibly already cover in house or should be paying a professional to do.

Actually SEO:

Keyword research + targeting - SEO

On-page optimization - SEO.

Making the site search-engine friendly - SEO.

XML Sitemaps - SEO.

Alternative search listings - SEO

Not SEO:

The business' overall product, marketing and sales strategy and where SEO makes the most sense. - This is marketing. Nothing to do with SEO at all. The last phrase does, but it's pretty obvious where. Hint, hint. On the website.

Funnel optimization - UX. While it might have an effect on SEO, it is not something an SEO should be touching.

Testing + optimizing content for users - UX. Nothing to do with SEO.

Content strategy - Marketing. Nothing to do with SEO.

Analytics - Not SEO. It can measure the effect of SEO, but isn't SEO.

Usability + user experience issues - UX. Definitely not SEO.

Reputation tracking + management - PR. Definitely not SEO.

Competitive research - Management consultancy, should be handled internally by small business at a director level. Definitely not SEO.

Social media marketing - PR/Marketing. Not SEO. Pretty big clue in the name there, with it ending with marketing.

Syndication, scraping, copyright and duplicate content issues - Legal. Not SEO. Unless it starts ranking higher than your sites.

I wouldn't mind having someone do the second list for me. But it's still not SEO.

points by danshapiro 4 days ago replies      
Rand applies the label "SEO" quite liberally, and I think it does everyone involved a disservice. If you look to see which sites linked to your last post and pinged them the next time you post to let them know there's new content, is that SEO? If you research the topics your target market are interested in and then address them, is that SEO? If you contact bloggers and media about your new product and encourage them to write about you and link to you, is that SEO?

Maybe you call it that. But I think it's about optimizing for searchers as much or more than it's about optimizing for search engines. Whatever it is, it's valuable, and "White hat SEO" (aka "marketing") has an important place in the weapons chest of startups.

points by TillE 4 days ago replies      
How in the world is lib.nmsu.edu/rarecat a top search result? If I do the search and go to Google's cached version, it tells me "These terms only appear in links pointing to this page: buy propecia"

It's actually a really good collection of links for anyone interested in medieval manuscripts. Bookmarked.

points by DanielBMarkham 4 days ago replies      
SEO (marketing) is critical to anybody out there who wants to find people.

Don't piss Google off. (Which means don't piss the searchers off)

I don't think there's much more to it than that. Maybe so, but from where I sit the problem is that "don't piss Google off" can mean pretty well damn much anything, so once you start picking it apart it's not logical or self-consistent. That probably means that continued analysis is a waste of time. After all, if you standardize how to market, you've destroyed the entire concept of marketing.

There are huge opposing forces at work here. I think the little guy does best by simply doing things that he would be happy to have made public -- and that's "public" as in normal people reading it, not "public" as in stuff that appeals to hackers. Different thing entirely.

points by tomjen3 4 days ago replies      
This convinced me of the opposite actually. All his examples were something that people would love to blog about, except his hair medicine which he used as an example of something that is overrun by spam.

Get something to rank for Viagra or a penis pump using only white hat tactics, outline a good plan for doing so or conceded the point.

points by powertower 4 days ago replies      
It seemed like the point he was trying to make is that:

White Hat SEO, when defined as traffic generation and link building using forums, blogs, social, etc... "works."

Skip the text all the way to the last image. The point is made there.

points by forgot_password 4 days ago replies      
Rand assumes that the top ranking sites today that produce great content got that way through white-hat techniques. I have no idea whether Zillow, Oyster, or Zappos never engaged in shady SEO practices and I doubt he does either.

Also, one minor addition...if your domain is naturally uninteresting, that should affect your competitors as well. One can argue that having an exciting domain that breeds lots of natural links is actually a bad thing for a startup because it's harder to rise over your entrenched competitors.

points by franze 4 days ago replies      
SEO is a business. every - real - SEO action has

- an (implementation) cost

- a measurable impact

- a risk.

categorizing it into "ethical" categories does not change how it is practiced or what works.

or to put it in the spirit of the headline: f$#ck .* hat.

points by hansseo 2 days ago replies      
If your niche was synchronous swimming albino eels, then you probably didn't need any SEO. IF your niche was Chicago real estate. You'd better get your SEO game on.
points by tomx 3 days ago replies      
Is anyone else annoyed by the term 'white hat'? It almost inevitably means there will be a repetitive and subjective discussion of "white v black hat" techniques...
points by leon_ 4 days ago replies      
SEO on HN: It's F$#ing Annoying
points by hippich 4 days ago replies      
any type of seo trying to artificially put some site higher in serps. so be honest - there is no honest and not-honest seo techniques. maybe not-honest and not so not-honest...
Soldering is easy - 7 page comic book about how to solder andie.se
188 points by nordgren 2 days ago   35 comments top 15
points by Florin_Andrei 2 days ago replies      
I prefer to cut the leads before I solder them - this way there's no risk of unsettling the contact while you cut the soldered lead, so this gives you nice solid reliable contacts. This requires you to hold the component with one finger while you're soldering it (otherwise it may fall off), which may get tricky as the component becomes pretty hot, but with enough kung-fu you'll be able to do it easily (e.g., hold it with the fingernail). I soldered thousands of components this way.

Another tip: when in doubt, put a little rosin on the pad and lead before soldering them, even though the alloy is supposed to contain rosin already. Again, this reduces the risk of a poor contact.

Never use cheap unstabilized soldering irons - those are only for rough jobs like soldering the lid on a tin can, and then just use the biggest iron you can find. For electronics, only use stabilized (regulated) irons (soldering stations), that allow you to finely tweak the temperature. Working at the right temperature is crucial; too hot and you burn components and oxidize pads before they get soldered; too low and again you may burn components because you're fiddling with the iron too long; or you make weak unreliable contacts. You'll figure it out with experience.

I actually prefer to use a soldering gun instead of an iron for anything except very sensitive multi-pin components that don't like EM pulses. Again, it's a bit of kung-fu to know when to push the trigger and when to release it; essentially, your brain becomes the thermal stabilizer. :) You need to "wax on, wax off" many hours before you obtain the skills, but then it's awesome. The gun allows you to do neat tricks like transport large drops of solid rosin, because you heat it up or cool it down instantly, as needed; a station, OTOH, is always at the same temperature.

Heating up both lead and pad at the same time is crucial. It bears repeating - crucial. Push the iron or gun against both parts. Don't push too hard, but make sure the thermal contact is good and firm.

Whether you wait 1 second before touching the heated pad+lead with the alloy, or you don't wait, depends on the technique. Whether you wait 1 more second before you retract the iron, or you don't wait, again depends on the technique. But once the liquid alloy has spread out, pull the iron at once, don't tarry. Then blow air over the hot area.

Nail clippers work just fine for cutting leads.

Sometimes you don't want to solder components too close to the PCB. This is true for those resistors, transistors, etc. that dissipate a lot of heat while working. Give them some breathing room. In general, don't push 3-pin components (such as transistors) too close to the PCB; when they begin to resist, you need to stop pushing. But soldering them might be tricky if they're not sitting stable in that position.

All that stuff about toxic metals and rosin fumes - I should probably be a brain dead zombie by now, I never washed my hands afterwards. Rosin smells kind of nice actually, similar to incense, but breathing the smoke directly is not pleasant; I doubt the smoke is more toxic than any other kind of smoke.

Finally: 2 hands are sometimes not enough. It helps if you're an octopus.

points by rmrm 2 days ago replies      
I have spent a fair amount of time over the past 15 years both removing and installing different IC and discrete bits within hardware lab environments. I am not an expert solderer, and I would not want to work in a production environment, but I consider myself an exceptional solderer in the everyday (adverse) conditions you might find in a typical HW Engineering environment.

I don't know that it'll be all that useful, but I'll share some of what I've learned.

The key goals in an engineering environment are:

1.) You don't damage boards. No lifted pads, no torn barrels, etc. Ever. Unless you mean to (and sometimes you do, to make salvaging a pristine part easier.)

2.) You don't damage components while removing them unless you mean to (and you often will, to protect the board.)

3.) Your soldering is functional. When you are doing quick iterations, and noting the effects of whatever rework you've just performed, you need certainty that your circuit is actually what you intended.


With a Metcal (or equivalent) and one fine tip, one broad tip -- you can remove or install pretty much any surface mount leaded component -- from a 0402 resistor to a large fine pitch TQFP. This sort of thing is common. You can also remove and or install pretty much any through hole component, up to large connectors. I'm going to talk mainly about removal, because it's not talked about as much (as it should be) and it's the more difficult side of things.

Removing things:

1.) small 2 lead discretes -- easiest with tweez pencil, grab it, solder flows on both ends, pick up, easy. generally you'll want to keep the part handy as you may go back to it, often just solder the resistor or cap to some other pad nearby, tombstoned. If you have only one iron, and say you're removing a 0402 -- easiest is to add solder to both ends of it and dance the iron back and forth rapidly to the leads. If the thermal reliefs are decent (as they should be for a 0402) it will tombstone itself and come right up.

2.) soic -- easiest with two irons (perform the below at the same time on both sides), but if you've only one, no problem. Take a SOIC16, 8 pins a side. Flow much solder down one side, bridging all pins. With any tip you'll be able to slide back and forth, causing all 8 leads to become molten. You want to use enough solder to bridge REALLY well. Insert tip of tweezer or dental pick under body near molten side and lift slightly. DO THIS VERY GENTLY. If all of pins aren't actually molten, and you pry on it, you will lift pads. It takes very, very little pressure. Once one side has lifted slightly, go to the other side and do the same thing. Now your SOIC is sitting above the board on both sides, sitting on solder piling. Take some solder braid and wick the solder from underneath the pins. Your SOIC will come loose, and you can clean it and the pads up with wick. SOIC is good for reuse, no lifted pads. If you did this with one iron and had to slightly lever the part, reform the leads slightly using tweezers.

3.) TQFP fine pitch -- It's always best to have all the right tools, my guide is how to do it when you don't have the right tools -- but need to do it anyway, and still pull it off. These are tricky.

With 4 irons (2 people) I've performed the solder bridge method, works well. Just flow all pins and remove part. With 1 guy, one iron, it can be done but you'll have to reform some leads when you're done. What you want to do is use fine tweezers or dental pick, and you're going to heat up one pin at a time and use the tip of the tweezer or pick to pluck the pin forward, lifting it up. You want to really heat up the pad, make sure solder is fully molten. Adding some flux is a good idea. Fine pitch pads with tiny traces are notoriously difficult to rework without lifting pads -- because people don't heat enough before yanking. You will probably lose some no connect pads using this method, tough not too.

You want to use this method on as few of the pins as possible, as its the most dangerous method. I cant stress enough, HEAT before applying any upward pressure. You want to work yourself into position to use the solder bridge method.

Do the above on two opposing sides (sides A and C). Just work your way down and do all the pins on both sides. Make sure all pins you think are free really are -- go through with wick and suck up the solder under the leads you've lifted. With two sides lifted you're back to a SOIC essentially..use the solder bridge method to lift sides B and D.

I've done many dozens of large TQFPs this way, with one iron, with no lifted pads. If can be done, just be very careful and take your time.

4.) Large through hole things with many pins (connectors, power bricks, etc) --

discretion is the better part of valor. If you are dealing with something with many through hole pads that touch heavy ground or power planes on multiple pins -- your best bet is to destroy the part. Trying to solder suck or wick out power and ground pins with a single iron is sometimes just impossible to do -- you will be at it for a long time, until the pads finally falls apart and you lose the annular ring, and your board is damaged.

If you only have one or two pins connected to a plane -- and all the rest are signals pins -- then clear the signal pins using wick/sucker, and then try to heat the reaminder of your plane pins at once. If you can get them all to flow, you can just yank the part out -- and THEN clear those plane connected pins.

If your part doesn't lend itself to this -- get out the dremel tool or the cutters and go to work on the part, systematically chopping or cutting it down until you are left with nothing but the pins in the holes....then simply heat the pad and pull out the pins with tweezers. THEN clear the hole. It is almost always the right choice, I've seen more boards destroyed by people trying to remove large through hole connectors and power bricks, when preserving the part was not a necessity. Know the goal -- if the part can go, then chop it out in little chunks. Not only the right thing, but kind of fun, too.

OK, that's all I can type for now -- I'm sure everyone has their pet methods and whatnot, and there are always caveats. I think its good to have the tool bag to perform "down and dirty". Honestly most places I've been, that's all there is or is time for.

points by kqr2 2 days ago replies      
Although not quite a comic, Forrest Mims' Getting Started in Electronics is considered a classic.


Citizen Engineer is a comic book / zine / electronics kit. Unfortunately, they haven't released a volume 2 yet.


points by jerryr 2 days ago replies      
Hah. That's great. Soldering is easy. And, a soldering iron is almost as versatile as a Swiss Army knife[1]. You can use it for soldering, wood burning, spot retouching a hot-glue job, boiling water, opening those pesky Costco clamshell packages without slicing an artery, shaping open or closed-cell foam, giving toy soldiers horrific battle wounds, rosin-based aromatherapy, a(u)nt punishment, and general hole-melting. It's the lightsaber of our millennium.

And finally, to make this comment more useful, so I don't hemorrhage my 33 points of karma: If you've ever wanted to gracefully rework SOICs, QFPs, etc., invest in a good hot air system with appropriately-shaped spreading tips. Amazon has a basic kit for $139: http://www.amazon.com/X-TRONIC-Digital-Rework-Soldering-Stat...

Do not use ChipQuik. It's expensive, unnecessary, and messy.

[1] Metcal enthusiasts, before you have a heart attack, recall that Radio Shack sells disposable lightsabers for $7.99.

points by gamble 2 days ago replies      
Great little guide.

One thing that's rarely mentioned in soldering tutorials is temperature. With good temperature-controlled soldering stations like the Weller WES51 available for <$100, I'd be hard-pressed to recommend skimping on a cheap pencil iron. Trouble is, I've seen very little discussion about what temperatures to use for particular types of solder.

I put this question to one of the EE lab instructors at my university. Their choice is 700-750F for standard 60/40 solder. I use 750F at home with good results.

You need higher temperatures for lead-free solders, which is one of the reasons I avoid them.

points by Natsu 2 days ago replies      
There's no mention of using desoldering braid (or even the suction bulbs) to fix bad joints? Sorry, but I don't like the "whack the circuit board on the table" method.

Once you get used to doing it right, desoldering braid is awesome. I never did get the hang of those squeeze bulbs, though. The braid was always so much easier to use.

points by bugsy 2 days ago replies      
Hurray, it's the Manga Guide to Soldering. Good stuff, I love these things.

One of the amazing side effects of technical comic guides are that small children, who are not really the target audience, end up picking these up and learning things like Physics, Database Design, and now Soldering.

points by iigs 2 days ago replies      
Neat comic.

My opinion differs on soldering irons. I find that cheap electric soldering pens tend to give me poor results. For someone starting out I think this could be discouraging. Radio shack has a cheap butane pen that works much better for me. It does cost slightly more, but I find it is usable on a wider range of projects and can even heat shrink tube in a pinch.

points by cypherpunks 2 days ago replies      

1) The solder should always be convex, not concave. It's not that way in the illustrations. A concave ball, as sometimes shown, may be a good connection to the pad, but a cold joint to the wire. It'll work, for a bit, but may eventually fail.

2) Always, always, always keep the tip tinned (covered with a thin layer of solder). The solder acts as a thermal conductor between the iron and the joint, which lets the joint heat up much more quickly. It also prevents the iron from oxidizing. If you don't do this, the iron will oxidize, and you will no longer be able to tin it.

3) Feed the solder into the joint, not into the iron. That tells you the joint is hot enough.

4) Temperature controlled iron makes a huge difference. Weller WES51 is the minimum you should use ($90 or so). More expensive irons in the Weller line don't make a big difference. Metcals are nicer, but wicked expensive.

points by RevRal 2 days ago replies      
I feel really stupid about a mistake I made recently while soldering, and this is extremely obvious: don't get cocky about where you're soldering.

I've been soldering for years, and just once I thought "you know, I'll just solder right here on the carpet. I'll be careful not to knock the iron over," instead of moving to my work desk. I melted a hole in the carpet.

points by Jun8 2 days ago replies      
Too bad they don't have a link to an mailing list for the How to Make Cool Things with Microcontrollers (For People Who Know Nothing), I definitely would like to be notified when that is available.
points by lell 2 days ago replies      
Interesting comic. I was thinking about giving it to my kids, but it gets a bit too complicated starting on page 4. And there are no simple examples. It would be nicer as a longer series that explained how to make some simple circuits in the same down to earth tone.
points by blahblahblah 2 days ago replies      
A couple other pointers.

1) Always tin the tip before soldering and tin it again before you put the soldering iron in the stand. This prevents oxidation of the tip.

2) Put some flux on the joint before soldering or desoldering. Always use a flux made for electronics, not the kind used for plumbing.

3) If the tip of the iron gets too much oxidation on it, you can generally restore the tip (do this when the tip is cold) by putting a bit of ammonia-based brass or silver polish on it and scrubbing it a bit with some steel wool and then wiping with a clean rag.

4) Whenever working with wire leads, tin the wires first before setting up the joint.

points by woadwarrior01 2 days ago replies      
Soldering through hole components is really easy (SMDs are another story, altogether). Like everything else in life, the best way to learn it is to practice. Just get a cheap vero board and a bunch of DIP sockets and solder em all. Then, try to desolder them with a desoldering wick. Also, get a PCB vice. With a vice holding the PCB firmly in place, two hands are all you need.
points by chaffneue 2 days ago replies      
It's a fun guide, but a couple of things irk me. Bending the leads out is a serious no-no - makes it very hard to desolder the component. if there are a lot of components, it' better to solder them in by height, so you can allow tricky parts like diodes, resistors and inductors to rest face down on the table/workstation pad. I think that the things sticking out of ics and semiconductors are usually "pins" not leads. Banging a board on the table can chip the board or get you burned by molten metal... it's better for the entire job to clean the pads of solder with a vacuum tool or desolder braid. Holding your hand over the excess while side cutting is going to hurt and having slivers of tin, copper, nickel and lead in your palm ain't worth it. They should have also had a little aside about wattage as starting with a 45 watt pencil iron is going to suck.
The Humble Frozenbyte Bundle humblebundle.com
186 points by jeff18 2 days ago   37 comments top 8
points by JonnieCache 2 days ago replies      
I find it interesting that the linux crew are paying over twice as much as windows/mac users on average. Higher average age and therefore disposable income do you suppose?
points by tkahn6 2 days ago replies      
The last bundle posed an interesting moral quandary for me. I didn't want to spend much money, but I also didn't want to pay below what I thought it was worth. So I ended up not buying it at all.
points by giberson 2 days ago replies      
I'm curious, what is the licensing on the included Jack Claw source code?

Could I mod it and release it? (Commercially?) What about the included media?

PS. Attempted to get answers from fronzebyte via the in page "chat with frozenbyte" widget. Not much help from them at all. Kind of discouraging.

    Heya, curious about the included Jack Claw source--whats the licensing on it?
'Would some one be able to mod and release the source? With existing media assets? How about commercially?
'(Not that I want to buy the source, compile it and sell it) But was curious about utilizing the engine and assets to create a different game and how release options would be liited (or not)
Joonas/FrozenByte: I suggest you to go to the frozenbyte jack claw forums and ask about the stuff there.
'Where would that be?
(no answer)

points by ultrasaurus 2 days ago replies      
I think I'm going to have to break my no-game-buying pledge for this bundle, another comment [1] pointed out Trine is local co-operative and I want to show my support for that type of gameplay.

[1] http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=2438072 in a dead thread)

points by reedlaw 2 days ago replies      
Is there anything as good as Braid in this bundle? I bought the last Humble Indie Bundle and nothing really struck my fancy as much as Braid. The game play is truly innovative and the difficulty on par with Apple II and Amiga games of my youth.
points by joshuaeckroth 2 days ago replies      
The last bundle was fantastic. My wife & I are still playing World of Goo, Osmos, and Braid. We're both busy people so these are exactly (and only) the kinds of games we enjoy.
points by xsmasher 2 days ago replies      
Did anyone download the source code that came from the last bundle? I'm always on the lookout for good game code to examine.
points by jdboyd 2 days ago replies      
I bought the previous bundle, but now I'm torn. On the one hand, I want to show support for them and for linux gaming. OTOH, the hardware requirements are rather steep for me. The games I've gotten around to playing from the last bundle all run well on Intel graphics.
Leaving in a Huff ericdsnider.com
186 points by quilby 2 days ago   33 comments top 10
points by pstack 2 days ago replies      
Eric was actually talking about this the Rick Emerson Show (rickemerson.com) some time last week. I don't recall which day it was, but he shared the experience with the whole internet reaction to the email snip he posted that AOL subsequently responded to by claiming "oh no, we're not forcing anyone to work for free or be fired!" and then laid off the person who originally sent the email that was snipped from.

It was a sad and frustrating story to hear (though amusing and snarky as Eric tends to be, from my limited experience).

I'm a big proponent of doing what you love because you love it (like running a forum or BBS or online service or writing) rather than trying to suck every last penny out of something that you can. But when someone else is making every last dime on something while expecting your contribution to be entirely uncompensated, save for "but you'll see your name on a byline!", it is almost downright sickening.

Unfortunately, this is a trend on the internet. It seems that fewer places are willing to pay for writers or even photographers, anymore. You should be thankful that your work is going to be used at all and then you can use the fact that someone published your content as leverage to promote yourself into something that does pay, somewhere . . . unless those people want you to work for "ego", too.

It's very difficult to justify not paying content creators when you've just made a few hundred million dollars off of the "they should thank me for printing them!" model. Or . . . maybe that's exactly why it's so easy to justify. Why pay when they're giving it to you for free?

I'm grateful I never entered one of these industries. I grew up with dreams of being a writer. Then I had dreams of being a radio broadcaster. Then I had dreams of being a video game developer. I went into the world of enterprise software and unix and linux, instead. A world where there is competition, but people aren't practically throwing themselves at you to do the job for free, because it's "fun".

points by trustfundbaby 2 days ago replies      
I didn't want to even read that, but it was so well written that I couldn't stop.
points by pchristensen 1 day ago replies      
Holy crap, Eric Snider used to write for the BYU student newspaper and I loved reading his column! I even bought his compilation books: http://www.amazon.com/Snide-Remarks-Eric-D-Snider/dp/B000REH... and http://www.amazon.com/Snide-REmarks-II-Electric-Boogaloo/dp/...

You won't be disappointed to read him.

points by Vivtek 2 days ago replies      
Money quote is - AOL: you've got fail.

Just one of the many points where this guy made me chortle with schadenfreudige glee.

points by teyc 2 days ago replies      
This is classic price anchoring at work.

For years people would be very happy to produce work and get (somewhat) paid for it because it is about writing something they are passionate for. Then, this gets disrupted because the owner gets a big payout and doesn't share. Disgusted with how things have turned out, since they now perceive their work to be worth more, they leave. Suddenly the talent acquisition has turned into nothing.

(The case of HuffPost is somewhat different, presumably the traffic would stay around longer. )

But this business model is subject to disruption. I read that pirates operate on a fairness principle, because many of them suffered as sailors in government ships. May be someone here can start a HuffPost alternative that issues equity instead?

points by dhimes 2 days ago replies      
TL;DR: It's a well written chronicle of the corporate communication that occurred during the restructuring of cinematical.com/moviefone.com under AOL after they were bought from Huffington. The author wrote freelance for cinematical. After the editor-in-chief at cinematical resigned (and two other editors there had resigned), the editor-in-chief of moviefone was apparently put in charge of corralling the freelancers. The author is responsible for starting the internet backlash which led to the firing of the editor-in-chief at moviefone. He respects her a lot and regrets his involvement in bringing about her termination.
points by petewailes 2 days ago replies      
Anyone else ever feel that watching AOL do anything is like watching your child make a bad choice, and knowing that you can't stop them?

I'm getting to the point of just feeling sorry for them nowadays.

points by daimyoyo 2 days ago replies      
Jason Calacanis should negotiate to get cinematical back from aol. They clearly have no idea what to do with it and I'm sure he'd have no problem with the whole "pay people who create content" model.
points by budu3 1 day ago replies      
"... suspicious foreign person Arianna Huffington". I know that he's not a big fan of Arianna's but that statement makes him sound like a Xenophobe.
points by cabalamat 2 days ago replies      
I read the first few paragraphs and couldn't tell where this was going. Is there a tl;dr version?
Teaching binary to 3rd Graders using the Socratic method garlikov.com
187 points by scorchin 1 day ago   29 comments top 10
points by alxp 1 day ago replies      
One day after a visit to the Computer History Museum, my SO and I got to see the live demo of the analytical engine they have there. We watched the gears turning and stopping to add up numbers, saw the complex mechanisms to handle carrying digits, and she asked me how this would work if it was binary and I just said "much more simply". Then she admitted that, even though she has been working as a developer and manager of developers for years, she never learned binary.

When we got home I got out a pad and pencil and got her to write down 0, then 1, then asked her, if you only had two digits, what would come next? Tentatively she wrote 1 0. THen I asked her to add 1 to it. We more or less carried on the way this transcript went, except instead of using aliens with two fingers I introduced AND, OR and XOR 'boxes' that 0s and 1s go in and come out. I hadn't planned any of this but by the end of it she was just about drawing the circuit diagram of a full adder with carry bit.

I'm sort of thrilled to see that what I was doing is precisely the socratic method. I love teaching, never really did much of it until I gave a course in Unix and shell scripting at an old job but for a week I had more energy at work than I ever did just programming or in meetings.

points by drblast 21 hours ago replies      
This is wonderful.

My wife homeschools, and the math curriculum she uses uses a very similar method from the beginning.

My daughter knows "12" as "One-ten two" and "33" as "three-ten three" and says it that way. She also knows those mean twelve and thirty-three, but for the purposes of the math program she uses the place terminology.

We can only hope that it will give her a better understanding of what's going on than pure memorization, and the jury's out until she's older, but it's a fascinating way to teach.

I sometimes wish we were all born with eight or sixteen fingers, but that's just the CS/EE bias in me talking.

points by ericHosick 1 day ago replies      
This is a great way to teach and Mr. Garlikov did an amazing job. It is hard work to "teach" this way because it requires student/teacher interaction (which is a lot harder than just standing there and lecturing). Coming up with the content is equally difficult.

But it there are so many more things students learn using this method.

One is they learn how to create new ideas from existing ones: "inventing". It really gets me when I hear people tell kids "don't re-invent the wheel".

points by docmarionum1 1 day ago replies      
Reading this gave me a warm, fuzzy feeling.

I can't imagine trying to teach 3rd graders binary using a standard method - I even have peers in college that struggle with it. Probably because it was just taught to them as something different - this weird language computers use, instead of them developing an intuitive sense for it. But whenever I try to explain it to them, or anyone else, I always try and explain it as "just like decimal, exactly what you already know."

The Socratic method really is much more interesting and captivating for students. For example, Walter Lewin's physics lectures (Which are well worth watching, even if you're not taking a physics class), which I'm currently watching to "supplement" my actual physics class in which the professor stares at the board and rambles.*

*Not to say that his lectures are the Socratic method - that's probably not feasible with a lecture hall of hundreds of students. But the way he teaches makes you feel like you're discovering everything again along with him.

points by ars 7 hours ago replies      
This is very cool, and I'm going to try it when I can.

But just to nitpick, he did actually tell them plenty of things, it was not just questions.

2 Examples:

> Could it be because we have 10 fingers?

> No, only to you guys, because you were taught it wrong [grin] -- to the aliens it is two. They learn it that way in pre-school just as you learn to call one, zero [pointing to "10"] "ten". But it's not really ten, right? It's two -- if you only had two fingers.

Not a criticism, just a nitpick.

points by elviejo 1 day ago replies      
I love to learn using the Socratic method.
One of my favorite books is: "The Little Schemer" which is great and twists my mind in ways that I didn't think where possible.

Anyway do you know of other books, on any topic, that use the socratic method?

points by measure2xcut1x 1 day ago replies      
I learned how to count in binary using my fingers as digits probably about third grade. The pinkie is the 1. At that age, I thought it was pretty cool that I could count to 31 on one hand, and it stuck with me to this day. I'm sure I'll teach my son the same.
points by whozman 1 day ago replies      
Captivating. Understanding something by answering questions on your own (even if guided) always feels more like true understanding. But what happens when we come to a point that requires mental leap beyond what a student can do? Is there a set of problems, or a set of students that are more suitable for Socratic method (3rd graders seem to do just fine at it)? Or is there a set of teachers that are more adept to teaching this way? Please give your answers through questions only.
points by nbashaw 21 hours ago replies      
This gives me an idea. What if there were a virtual university that was entirely conducted via chat? Like Quora meets Convore.
points by charlieflowers 1 day ago replies      
This is amazingly similar to Test Driven Development. In the purest form of TDD, you don't write a single line of code until you have a failing test. The failing test is the unanswered question. Then, you write the code that "answers that question." This means that each step of the way, you are confirming that prior principles are correctly understood by the human and the computer before building on those prior principles.

As the Agile theory puts it, this approach "maximizes feedback".

Rent the country of Liechtenstein for $70,000 a night with Airbnb airbnb.com
186 points by jamesjyu 22 hours ago   59 comments top 27
points by furyg3 21 hours ago replies      
Ahh Liechtenstein. Random trivia: the Swiss once invaded the country by accident and nobody noticed.


points by 1053r 20 hours ago replies      
It must not come with legislative powers, because at $70K per night, that's only $25.55M a year. The GDP of Lichtenstein is 5.05B according to a quick google search (google for "lichetenstein gdp" and you get a result from google public data sources). I'll pay $25.55M for the right to tax the people of Lichtenstein for one year! Even if I only raise taxes 1%, that's a cool $25M profit!
points by plnewman 20 hours ago replies      
Fun fact: Liechenstein actually voted itself into an absolute monarchy in 2003.


points by csomar 20 hours ago replies      
I can see lot of potential for this.

1. The buyer. He benefits from a unique and authentic experience. He amazes his audience because he doesn't just rent a hotel or a room, but a whole location and customize it to fit.

2. The seller. $70K/day, if they get booked 50 times a year that's $3.5 million. The country habitants benefits too from the incoming tourists and currency.

3. AirBnb. It's like having 1,000 clients in one time.

points by JoachimSchipper 20 hours ago replies      
AirBNB sure knows how to pull a nice marketing stunt.
points by jacques_chester 16 hours ago replies      
It's a "too good to check" story, I'm afraid:


Or rather, "rent a country!" sounds sexier than "rent a few hotels!"

points by edanm 17 hours ago replies      
Let's get an HN super-meetup going. If everybody pitches in $100 it won't take too many members to rent out Liechtenstein for an all-HN users weekend!
points by delackner 14 hours ago replies      
Somehow this feels like the uncanny valley of human reality. Along the lines of renting a family for the afternoon, or a puppy for a walk, only on a massive scale.

I once had a dream that I was the king of the city, and they marched in parade to honor my name. No wait, that was last weekend in Leichtenstein at SuperBlingFest2012.

points by JonnieCache 20 hours ago replies      
Are legislative powers included?
points by Splines 19 hours ago replies      
Warning: Minimum stay: 2 nights.

And no indoor fireplace? Pfft. I'll pass.

points by joejohnson 21 hours ago replies      
Liechtenstein is 160 km². That's only $437.5 per square kilometer!
points by joubert 3 hours ago replies      
I clicked on "Book Now".

Next I was prompted to contact the "host" to confirm availability (does this mean they kick out the citizens?)

Oh, and BTW, minimum stay is 2 nights, so this will cost me $140,000.

points by joubert 3 hours ago replies      
One should set up a Kickstarter project to raise the $140k required (minimum stay is 2 nights).

Participants can then be one's guests.

points by alexg0 18 hours ago replies      
Do they kick out all the 34,000 people that live that for the time? What do you actually get?
points by visava 19 hours ago replies      
collect 700 people using groupon like site and then it is just $100/night.This is an idea for a site if there are more deals like this
points by krmmalik 4 hours ago replies      
I wonder if Richard Branson will be listing his Necker Islands anytime soon ;-
points by nikhilpandit 14 hours ago replies      
Another fun fact related to this story: Snoop Dogg tried to rent Liechtenstein in the past, but was not able to. (source: http://www.theatlanticwire.com/entertainment/2010/07/snoop-d...)

He should try using AirBnB next time!

points by tectonic 17 hours ago replies      
If those 500+ rooms are all included, that's only about $140 per night. Not free, but one hell of a (hacking) conference destination.
points by tudorizer 13 hours ago replies      
Wouldn't it be cool to rent this in the name of Hacker News for 2-3 days? With 150 people, it's not that expensive.
points by tudorizer 20 hours ago replies      
Who's in with me? :D
points by joejohnson 21 hours ago replies      
It always strikes me how nice their website is. I really like the design and layout.
points by takinola 18 hours ago replies      
It's actually a pretty good deal. The country sleeps 500 so that comes to about $140 per night. This is comparable to rates on Kayak for the cheapest 4 star hotels in nearby Zurich.
points by svag 15 hours ago replies      
The next thing would be to rent the moon, or mars, or any other planet...
points by gwern 21 hours ago replies      
April 14th. Hm.
points by michaelochurch 20 hours ago replies      
13 days late, bro.
points by presidentender 13 hours ago replies      
...Just how far does this rental extend? Can I declare war? 'Cuz this kid from high school still owes me $50.
Stanford CS enrollment increase "downright scary" computinged.wordpress.com
183 points by andreyf 2 days ago   170 comments top 30
points by patio11 1 day ago replies      
Capitalism happens? Seriously, anecdotal fresh-out-of-school salaries for talented CS people are near $100k. Anecdotal fresh-out-of-school salaries for talented English majors are near... well, they get discounted frappuchinos at any rate. This is Mr. Market saying "Thanks, I've got enough literary criticism -- can I please, please, please have more code monkeys?"
points by forensic 1 day ago replies      
Who are we kidding. This is a symptom of the economy. There is money in software.

What does the economy of the future look like? Millions and millions of programmers. Manipulating technology is where value comes from and software is the most efficient way to manipulate technology.

I just hope we have enough robotics and computer engineering people to improve the platforms all these programmers are going to work on.

The web browser is pretty limited in its ability to improve human life. We need other platforms to target.

points by dstein 1 day ago replies      

  When expensively educated, fashionable young graduates
start showing up in your field, you're in a bubble.
- Kevin Marks

I fully attribute the increase to The Social Network movie coinciding with the ballooning of Facebook's market cap. Flipping tech startups is the hot new get rich quick scheme. Just like flipping houses and subprime mortgages before it.

points by famousactress 1 day ago replies      
As someone who's been regularly interviewing Stanford students and grads for internships and full-time positions, it's worth pointing out that lots of these CS students don't want to program. I've been surprised at how many of them are getting a CS education as a platform for a career in product management, or even marketing.

It makes some sense, given the makeup of the companies that are exciting to work for nowadays. I think especially if you want to join an early-stage startup, there are lots of benefits to having a technical education, even if your role isn't expressly technical.

points by larsberg 2 days ago replies      
The same thing appears to be happening here at the University of Chicago -- increased numbers of undergraduates in the sequence as well as greatly increased Ph.D. student applications over the last couple of years. And not just money-grubbers in the undergrads as well; many refuse to interview with the previous staples for our graduates -- the finance industry here in Chicago or "big companies" such as Google and Facebook (one of them said to me during a lab, "I mean, really, PHP? Who wants to work with THAT?").

I haven't seen as many Ph.D. students from other disciplines coming through our intro sequence and regretting their current path. But, I do see quite a few juniors and seniors who only started taking CS classes as a sophomore or junior (usually because their advisor told them the classes were too hard and would make it difficult to do their Core Curriculum) and really wish they had evaluated the major earlier before they made choices that prevented them from switching majors and still graduating in four years.

points by pjhyett 1 day ago replies      
I know it's in vogue to throw the word bubble around, but I'd be interested to see the CS enrollment stats worldwide. The first generation of kids that spend more time in front of their computer than the TV are starting to hit college. More screen time is bound to create more people interested in how they can program the thing they sit in front of all day.
points by jonmc12 1 day ago replies      
I graduated in '01 with an EE degree. At that point in time, engineering, including software, seemed like a field where you were ushered down a career path towards a pigeon-holed role at a large company. The advice was to get into a) technical sales, b) product marketing, or c) consulting if you wanted to start a career towards being an entrepreneur.

Now, its much different - the technology is more empowering and much cheaper. I can build stuff, and if I can build stuff people want, its a direct path to starting a company. Constrained by my ability to build stuff, I committed myself over the last 2.5 years to focusing on becoming a better engineer.

What is interesting, is that many of my peers that I thought were done coding have come to this same conclusion. In the last 6 months I have had 3 friends - 1 a successful consultant at a big firm, 1 a successful tech salesman and a fortune 100 company, and 1 a VP of engineering at a mid-sized firm. Each of them is coding on nights and weekends now.

Why? 1) Paul Graham - 'build stuff people want' and the subsequent success of that strategy, 2) It is really hard to hire developers to build stuff, 3) Facebook, Twitter, Groupon, Zynga and other companies that used tech to change the world in insanely short periods of time.

So, from what I am seeing, its not about people gold-digging (as many comments have suggested) - its that the skill of engineering has turned from a boring career skillset into an incredibly empowering tool. I imagine many undergrads are seeing it this way too.

points by benwerd 1 day ago replies      
Rinse and repeat everywhere, and we're likely to see an overabundance of computer scientists in three or four years.

Developers: may I suggest getting a second degree?

points by zmitri 1 day ago replies      
This is a good sign!
The general public is just realizing how important computer skills are, no matter what you are trying to do. A well rounded CS major can learn something new and apply those skills to something else. I think public schools and high schools need to start integrating and making CS/programming courses necessary just as basic math and science courses are required -- then once people reach university age, they can focus on different topics without having to take CS courses to learn the basic skills they require to approach those topics like a CS major would.
points by kenjackson 2 days ago replies      
Can't they just accept fewer students? Seems odd to get worked up about something you directly control.
points by b3b0p 1 day ago replies      
At my school the first 2 CS courses were always packed... in the initial weeks of courses beginning at least.

I had a professor in one of those courses once say something like this:

    Look to your left, look to your right, 
because one of you won't be here by
the end of the year.

Both these courses were considered weed out courses. They were Java based and most majors I had heard required at least one or both of them.

$100k in San Francisco is less than $50k where I live. I rent a single bedroom, no debt in Oklahoma. My good friend lives in San Francisco, single bedroom apartment, doesn't even need a car. I take home after taxes, expenses, etc about 50% to 25% and I make almost half of what he makes. Anecdotal, yes. Maybe not typical, but it does show that cost of living is a major factor on salary.

points by kyan 1 day ago replies      
I was a section leader for CS106A/B/X at Stanford and Eric Roberts was my undergrad adviser. I graduated in 08 and all through my 4 years, the number of students majoring in CS and taking CS106A/B/X was increasing rapidly.

Personally, I think that it's fantastic. Programming is a great skill to be exposed to even if you're not a programmer. There's no shortage of hard problems to be solved in CS and the more the merrier as far as I'm concerned.

From my experience of teaching at least 100 kids who have taken the CS106s, no one has done it for a higher salary out of college - a lot of non-CS majors take it to satisfy the Engineering GER (a requirement) and the rest take it out of interest.

points by tytso 1 day ago replies      
One of the problems that I see is that perhaps "Computer Science" is too broad. MIT has been mocked by some for having a "humanities" department, where Theater, Foreign Languages, Literature, etc., are all combined together, but given how complex the world has become in the world of computer science disciplines, I'd argue that a "Computer Science" degree is almost as broad.

Consider the different sorts of work that a CS undergraduate might pursue: Alice could become a CPU architect, working at Intel or AMD on the next micro-archtecture for the next generation of x86_64 chips. Bobby could work on creating a new secure PHP framework that makes security exposures much less likely. Candice could on writing J2EE applets for Ford. David could become a GUI engineer. Elaine could be writing the engine for an amazing new MMORPG. Frank could be working on new compiler optimizations for the Go language. Gerald could be a product manager for an amazing new consumer electronic device that's actually not derivative of other products. Hermione might be a webmaven who can create a website using Drupal, Wordpress, or what ever else is appropriate/demanded by her clients. You get the idea.

All of these require radically different preparation for a successful career, and one interesting question is where should that preparation take place? On the job? At a trade school? At an undergraduate CS program?

Some CS programs focus heavily on Java programming these days. Others still have a very heavy Systems bias (although I lament that MIT is no longer requiring undergraduates to build a CPU out of TTL chips :-). Some try to spread themselves super-thin, and have a peanut-butter coverage of all of these topics, and assume that if student needs to learn the intricacies of the Java standard libraries, they can do that on the job. Others will assume the same about what Virtual Memory is. (No kidding, I was sitting in 1st year introductory CS graduate class at MIT when a student raised her hand, and asked in lecture, "I'm sorry, what is Virtual Memory?". My jaw dropped.)

Similarly I think there's going to be a huge variety in salaries based on both the very wide range of talent available --- both in terms of quality, and their scope of training/skills/experience. If a company only wants the very best and brightest, asking for $100k/year even for a recent college graduate isn't insane. I've done phone screens for people who have been out in the industry for years, and they flubbed amazingly basic questions --- so much so that I wondered how/why their previous employers had hired them. My personal conclusion is that the market is extremely tight for certain classes of software engineers (for example, really good Linux Kernel engineers), and some companies react by hiring anyone they can get, and other companies react by holding the line, only hiring competent engineers, and paying more if that's what it takes.

points by narrator 1 day ago replies      
I blame "The Social Network" movie. That was the first movie that made software development look like a fun way to party, make tons of money and get hot chicks. The Palo Alto dev house pot smoking scenes and the fictional Sean Parker antics were quite amusing in that regard. That, and there's easy money in software these days.
points by buckwild 1 day ago replies      
Maybe there is a more simple explanation. I speculate it is just that computers (and programming) are becoming more of a required skill in many fields. I know psychologists and MBAs who use programming to data mine. I myself am a bioinformatician and heavily use programming to answer scientific questions.

It could also be that kids are being introduced to programming at a younger and younger age. I started learning programming in my early teens, but I have a little cousin who has a Java class in her private school. She is about 8 now and can program Java better than I can...

points by troymc 1 day ago replies      
I'd attribute part of the increase to what I call the "Top Gun Effect."

When Top Gun (the Tom Cruise movie) came out, there was a big increase in the number of students signing up for aerospace engineering courses and programs.

The trigger doesn't have to be a movie, just something in popular culture. In this case, I think it's all the positive media around Facebook, iPhone, iPad, Kinect, Google and more (including at least one Oscar-nominated movie).

points by michaelochurch 2 days ago replies      
Who is coming in to the programs? And what are their motivations?

You can't evaluate whether this is a good or bad change based on the numbers alone. For example, the legal profession has been swamped with excess entrants and it sucks. On the other hand, programmers tend to be job-creators more than job-takers, even as employees ("intrapreneurs") so I think this is probably a good thing.

points by ThomPete 1 day ago replies      
Great, that just means more gold diggers for us merchants to sell tools to.
points by phamilton 1 day ago replies      
At my school, CS is the 6th most popular major (out of 135). That's a big deal, especially since we aren't necessarily a tech school (BYU). They haven't had trouble placing grads yet, but they are starting to get worried too.

Meanwhile, EE and CpE are pretty low. Definitely below the job market's demand.

points by juiceandjuice 1 day ago replies      
This is more likely due to a generational shift than anything.

People between the ages of ~23 and ~28 are sort of the go-betweeners with roots (and maybe even parents) in generation X but firmly planted in Generation Y. 22 and younger is firmly Generation Y, transforming into Z or whatever you want to call it. Right now, people around 18 have lived their whole life with the internet, and probably half of it with broadband.

points by ninguem2 1 day ago replies      
>A 20% rate of increase is healthy and manageable.

At this rate, all of mankind will be Stanford CS students by the end of the century.

points by snikolic 1 day ago replies      
I think this is cyclical, and to be expected. I had a conversation ~2 years ago with the head of a CS Dept in Boston who was anticipating this. He explained that enrollment in his department had grown by an order of magnitude (or more) during the dot-com bubble and shrank by a similar amount after the bust. Just as Lehman et al. was occurring, he was bracing for the same thing to happen again...and here it is.
points by spydertennis 1 day ago replies      
As technology becomes more ubiquitous, the people who understand technology will become more valuable. This is a symptom of more people knowing what the internet is than did 20 years ago.
points by cube13 1 day ago replies      
The courses that were mentioned were all 100 level courses. Can anyone who went to Stanford(or knows the courses) comment on how technical they actually are?

It's a good sign if these are actual technical courses, but if they're just Word/Excel "programming" non-technical courses, we're just seeing a lot of people padding their resume in a bad economy.

points by ChrisArchitect 1 day ago replies      
not one mention of The Social Network movie or if a chunk of this influx is looking for a career at making iPhone apps?
points by Apocryphon 1 day ago replies      
Anyone know if the life sciences ever experiences this as part of hype for a biotech boom? I'm sure they have a constant stream of enrollment for the med industry.
points by chopsueyar 1 day ago replies      
This isn't the guy from "Best of the Best"?
points by amathew 1 day ago replies      
For a person considering going back to school as a non-trad student for either a BS in Computer Science or Computational Math, is this a bad time to be getting a degree in CS?
points by reedF211 1 day ago replies      
For anyone still saying "there is no bubble"...
points by forgotAgain 1 day ago replies      
I wonder what the career counseling office could contribute to the discussion?
What Lucky People Do Different jonathanfields.com
184 points by glenstansberry 3 days ago   43 comments top 17
points by pg 3 days ago replies      
"Of course it was impossible to connect the dots looking forward when I was in college. But it was very, very clear looking backwards ten years later."

I've found this particularly true. As long as you're working on something interesting and difficult, you're probably not wasting your time, even if you can't see yet where it leads. It will be an ingredient in something.

points by krschultz 3 days ago replies      
The problem with the cliche "look in the mirror and ask yourself if you are happy doing what you are doing today knowing you could die tomorrow", is that for any day I'm not spending the entire time with family & friends, the answer is NO. You can be sure if I was dieing tomorrow I'd not go to work and spend the whole day lieing on the beach. Unfortunately you can't do what you'd do on your last day on earth, because it doesn't pay the bills. And it is kind of a trivializing question for those who are facing their last day on earth, which I might be somewhat sensitive to because one of the engineers in my company lost his fight with cancer this morning.

So far better to ask the question: "is what I'm doing today getting me closer to my career goals?", becuase the conclusion to that (less melodramatic) question might actually yield actionable results.

points by sosuke 3 days ago replies      
I loved his disclosure at the end.

"You should always assume that pretty much every link on this blog is an affiliate link and that if you click it, find something you like and buy it, I'm gonna make some serious money. Now, understand this, I'm not talking chump change, I'm talking huge windfall in commissions, bling up the wazoo and all sorts of other free stuff. I may even be given a mansion and a yacht, though honestly I'd settle most of the time for some organic dark chocolate and clean socks. Oh, and if I mention a book or some other product, just assume I got a review copy of it gratis and that me getting it has completely biased everything I say. Because, books are like a drug to me, put one in my hand and you own my ass. Ethics be damned! K, you've been warned. Huggies and butterflies."

points by mcantor 3 days ago replies      
"The harder I work, the luckier I seem to be." - Thomas Edison

From this, I take "hard work" to mean working mindfully, not "counting photographs" as in the article. To work and live mindfully is to do each thing as if you did nothing else: you are fully present in each moment, drinking in your surroundings without judgment or abstraction. A hundred trees are not a hundred trees--each one is a new experience, with different patterns in its bark and different rustling in its leaves. To use the article's example, a party is not a "party". To the "lucky" person, to the mindful person, they are not "at a party"; they are simply talking, laughing, connecting.

I strive for this kind of mindset, and grasp it sometimes. Like zen, the harder you try to hold on to it, the quicker it slips away. At least, I can always look at the trappings of my privileged middle-class life and know that, for these things, I am lucky, and that helps me stay mindful.

points by nicpottier 3 days ago replies      
Ok, this one is a bit funny, but I swear, one of the movies I think everybody should watch and take to heart is "Yes Man".

I know, I know, you are thinking WTF, Jim Carrey is the messiah? (no that's Bruce Almighty)

But it illustrates an important point, a point that I think software engineers are far too likely get trapped into because of our particular makeups. Which is that risk, spontaneity, just going for it, is what life is all about. And the crazy situations those experiences put you in will make you a richer person, both figuratively and literally.

The quote from the article about the party pretty much nails it. Just go with it, say yes to most everything, stop over thinking and go for it.

points by bhangi 3 days ago replies      
Whenever I see these kind of articles, two words run through my mind: survivor bias.

I'm also unconvinced by the John Galt argument that if Steve Jobs had not taken calligraphy courses, we would not have nice typefaces on computers today. After all, typography predates the Mac and it would have been only a matter of time before someone else figured it out. If you don't believe this, look at practically every major discovery / invention in the past few centuries -- in almost every case more than one researcher / scientist / dilletante was working on something similar. The lucky one was the one who got there first.

points by emehrkay 3 days ago replies      
I've been living heavily by the mantra "Luck is when opportunity meets preparedness," and it has been serving me very well. Anytime anyone brings up luck, I tend to point out how that person was ready for that phase in life.

This is one of the key things that I teach to my son (and the fact that talent can be interpreted as a deep understanding of a subject) so that he'll see that he has some since of control over his path in life and everything isn't decided by some outside, unknown force. I'd feel like I would have failed as a parent if I ever hear him utter "Man that guy is so lucky, wish it were me."

I think that this article illustrates those two points very well, just look at every "lucky" occurrence and you'll see an opportunity with someone that is prepared to take advantage of it (even lottery winners :).

points by sayemm 3 days ago replies      
Good read, thanks for posting. Best post on this before was by Paul Buchheit "Serendipity finds you" - http://paulbuchheit.blogspot.com/2010/10/serendipity-finds-y...
points by dalenkruse 3 days ago replies      
One of my favorite quotes is this:

"Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity." -- Seneca

points by delackner 3 days ago replies      
I'm having conflicting reactions to this article on a few levels. I notice that the entire content of it is simply the cross product of two articles that I read months or years ago, and as soon as he started I was already wondering "is he going to bring up the newspaper experiment...".

So sure enough the whole thing reads exactly as I'd expect. But then I wonder, perhaps it is a sign of my advanced information-hoarding instinct that I have hoovered (dysoned?) up so many of these sort of studies and speeches and clever counterintuitive articles. A mind made up of a vast store of useless factoids.

Finally I throw my hands up and resolve that I am glad to see that this article at least will hopefully expose more people to some very good ideas on living well.

points by hoag 3 days ago replies      
I agree completely with this article. Every year that goes by, I'm absolutely staggered at the ridiculous luck, serendipity, whatever you want to call it, that I have experienced in all aspects of my life. And I definitely attribute it to having an open and light-hearted (yet focused) approach to life: I have just always believed that if you do your part, the right thing will present itself. You just have to recognize it when it happens.

I guess you could say, then, that I've always followed a sort of hybrid Panglosian/Yodan approach to life: i.e., be positive, everything really is for the best, and be focused in the present, while keeping an open mind and "letting go" towards the future.

Indeed, when I look back on what I had once perceived to be the worst, "darkest hours" of my life, I see now that they turned out to be the very best things that could have happened to me.

points by kalendae 3 days ago replies      
a subtle but important distinction has to be made. the experiment mentioned in the blog shows a correlation between people who claim they are lucky and the fact they found a text snippet. not people who are lucky (if that is even possible). it could very well be caused by the fact that a test subject just told people they were lucky so psychologically they behave differently. if the experiment had been setup with no 'lucky finds' the ones claiming to be lucky could all take longer because they were less focused on the counting.

to then tie the subject of steve jobs who is very successful to this finding and attributing the success to being spontaneous seems to jump quite a bit in logic that is not supported by the experiment.

points by mak120 23 hours ago replies      
I was recently asked "Why did you learn <language X>, especially when there was no scope for its use in your career at the time?". I found out it was an almost impossible to understand concept for the asker.

Most people are so obsessed with counting the pictures, they cannot imagine someone doing something else.

points by baggachipz 3 days ago replies      
-ly. DifferentLY.
points by glenstansberry 3 days ago replies      
I read something by Richard Branson that said--and I'm paraphrasing--that everyone is given about the same amount of luck. It's all about what we do with the luck when it falls in our lap.

Fantastic article.

points by jmtame 3 days ago replies      
I have been looking for the original research done using the newspaper for a while now. I remember reading about it before and I always wanted to refer back to it but never found it. Glad to read this again.
points by tobylane 3 days ago replies      
Meh, I preferred the old playboy interview with him in 1985, http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:77cJqxW...

Here's the Standford 2005 talk the article mentions http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UF8uR6Z6KLc

Edw519 wrote a book compiling his best HN Comments edweissman.com
181 points by zyfo 3 days ago   49 comments top 20
points by edw519 3 days ago replies      
Original author here.

This was a little side project to have some fun and maybe spread a little value.

I frantically threw this together over the weekend to be ready for the traffic Marc Cenedella (CEO of TheLadders.com) promised me today. His posts:




Thank you, Marc.

As many of you know, I spend most of my time writing software and generally resist spending time writing other stuff (even though I always find time to say something here). So in typical hacker fashion, I "launched" what I had with the intention of accepting feedback and iterating. You guys have always been really good at that.

I originally planned on a Kindle ebook, but Scribd was just so much easier for me. I didn't realize that others had problems viewing or purchasing. If you're outside the U.S. or have any other problems reading the sample, just email me and I'll send you a free pdf.

All of your feedback is greatly appreciated. I'll keep updating the content as I go and will gladly accept help with typesetting or distributing. I plan to follow up with some of you during one of my breaks today.

If you buy the book and don't like it, I will buy you a cup of coffee the next time we are together. If you buy it and do like it, make that a beer.

points by zyfo 3 days ago replies      
Link to the actual book: http://www.scribd.com/doc/52729281/The-Best-Of-edw519

I really like this idea and will buy the book. However, it would be nice if the comments were time-stamped, as not all advice is timeless.

Anyone know of any other forum-comments-turned-book examples?

EDIT: I would buy it if I didn't have to be a US citizen to buy a digital book in scribd. Why is this a problem for a book like this?

points by cosgroveb 2 days ago replies      
"I never publish my code. Ever. Users get to give me feedback, but I don't care what other programmers think. Sure, I learn from them, but never in the context of reviewing the code I wrote. I learn from the code of others and apply those lessons to my own work."

You can, of course, do whatever you want but this seems awfully selfish... Essentially saying that you will take whatever others (foolishly?) give in open source, blog posts, etc., etc., but never give back. Am I reading this correctly?

points by maxklein 3 days ago replies      
He should do Amazon Kindle self-publishing and write about the sales numbers later.
points by wallflower 3 days ago replies      
Ed is one of the most prolific and valuable members of the HN community. That being said, I'd love for andrewwarner to do a Mixergy interview. Ed is not the typical Mixergy success though but we could all learn from his b2b success.
points by rb2k_ 3 days ago replies      
I think I'd really enjoy the read.

It would have been a bit nicer if the great comments were accompanied by some good design/typesetting (generate latex?) and an alternative format (epub).

There are a few solutions based on princeXML that can take easily generatable HTML+CSS and convert it to pdf (example: http://www.alistapart.com/articles/boom ).

While the Prince license might not be the cheapest, there also is a webservice that does the conversion (http://docraptor.com/tour)

points by pero 3 days ago replies      
Hate to be the bearer of bad news--perhaps somewhat mitigated by the lack of hardcopies--but it's 'foreword' and not 'forward'.

That is, unless this is either some technolingo or inside joke that I'm not privy to.

points by DanielBMarkham 3 days ago replies      
Congrats Ed! Good luck publishing!

I have a similar project, so I'd like to know how you decided which comments to pick, how you put them together, etc.

I'm working with the epub format right now. Not sure if I made the right choice or not, but it seemed like the best technical option to hit the most platforms. Never occurred to me to use Scribd.

points by nopassrecover 3 days ago replies      
I just saw this in his profile yesterday, intend to buy.

EDIT: Apparently I need to be a US citizen. I'll find some other way to send him a donation.

points by arthurk 3 days ago replies      
I tried to read this but the Scribd reader hung up on me after a few pages and all I got to see were blank pages (I'm using FF4). Would it be possible to compile some of the comments in a "Sample.pdf" file and directly link to that instead?
points by epo 3 days ago replies      
I'm not a US citizen and all I see is obfuscated content reminiscent of rot-13. Am I being slow this morning?
points by joshuacc 3 days ago replies      
I just purchased the book and it was totally worth the $2.56. Which, BTW, is a nice price. :-)

Comment #49 is a piece of advice that will pay for the book many times over, no matter what you do for a living.

points by Tycho 3 days ago replies      
I probably would have bought it for that price but it says United States only. Perhaps Gumroad or Hawtcakes would work? Or the Kindle store? (I heard you can instantly convert files to Kindle format by mailing them to youramazonaccount@kindle.com)

Another site that I used to visit regularly, for about 7 or 8 years, had a poster who kept his own text-file of all the great posts he'd read over the years. Occassionally he would tease us by posting extracts (of course, everybody wanted to know how many of their comments made the cut) occassionally. But I always thought the file itself was probably worth actual money. And I keep forgetting to make a similar effort for other online communities (HN for instance. But you'd be here all day catching all the great coments on HN).

points by revorad 3 days ago replies      
Thanks Ed! How did you make the ebook? I've been looking for a good app to convert blog feeds to books, but haven't found anything that just works.

If you send me an email I will be happy to put it up for sale on my new store (for free of course).

You might also want to try Sahil's http://gumroad.com.

points by openczun 3 days ago replies      
Jason Gilmore (@wjgilmore) has an interesting article on publishing a book using DocBook, and git for version control.


Also, I just bought Ed's book ... Really great commentary in there. Somewhat sad I've only been a member of the HN community for such a short time.

points by WiseWeasel 2 days ago replies      
This will sit nicely next to my Encyclopedia Weaselicus, available now for the low, low price of $3.59.
points by vkdelta 2 days ago replies      
bought. read. Worth every penny 256 times.
points by amitagrawal 2 days ago replies      
Stuff like this should be made a compulsive reading for hackers.

This solves a very basic problem with hacker-related knowledge - you don't know what to search until you know what to search!

And books like Ed's solve this by compiling it all in one place. Someone here did one for pg's essays and other articles and the result was a 12+MB file good to last you a few days if you're at it.

points by MikeCampo 3 days ago replies      
Great idea and I would love to buy it, but I'm not a US citizen :(
points by m0th87 3 days ago replies      
About time :)
Three signs you have a management problem. And that problem might be you businessinsider.com
182 points by philipDS 3 days ago   27 comments top 12
points by bretthopper 3 days ago replies      
Great point here: "One simple jewel of advice given to me by one of our senior software engineers, Joseph, was that if we shared our motivations as decision makers (e.g. "We're working on this project to generate revenue in the short term, instead of infrastructure improvements because we're trying to hit a short term revenue goal
of X") it helped him understand why he was working on a project, and which aspects of that project to spend time thinking about improving."

Sources of Power by Gary Klein[1] is a great read about decision making and there's a whole chapter about communicating intent and motivation.

"When you communicate intent, you are letting the other team members operate more independently and improvise as necessary. You are giving them a basis for reading your mind more accurately."

The U.S. Army actually uses a Commander's Intent statement, which was streamlined into:

- Here's what I think we face.

- Here's what I think we should do.

- Here's why.

- Here's what we should keep our eye on.

- Now, talk to me.

Obviously this can be applied to any organization. It's always in your best interest to tell someone why they should be doing something and not just what they should be doing.

[1] http://www.amazon.com/Sources-Power-People-Make-Decisions/dp...

points by jacques_chester 3 days ago replies      
> Having a hierarchy isn't a bad thing. Having no idea who has the final say is a bad thing.

This is an absolutely classic rule of managing any organisation where competing priorities must be settled.

Chains of command have a very high cost, but they can ameliorate internal politicking and remove uncertainty about what, if anything, has been decided.

However, decision making power must come with accountability for the decisions, or it will NOT turn out well.

A purely flat organisation will wind up with de facto bosses, minus any institutional constraints on their activities and minus any accountability. If you're dealing with a sociopath the damage they can wreak will be magnified by the lack of structure to constrain their power.

points by Hominem 3 days ago replies      
Oh god, that is the worst. I have seen this plenty of times. Boss won't give direction because either he is intimidated or, he is the "idea man" who shouldn't have to be bothered by implementation. It's fine if you want the dev to just wing it, but you have to align expectations constantly. I ping senior management at least every couple days with screen shots or questions asking for input, even if they never read my emails, I want to be able to say that I informed them of exactly what direction we were taking and that they had input.I keep my PM looped in on almost every email I send just incase someone pops into his office he won't have to say "I don't know" if someone asks him where the project is.

Even then, we still run into "misfeatures". I have no idea how you could tell a dev to wing it, let him work for months with no oversight and then be shocked when he came back with something unexpected.

points by Stormbringer 3 days ago replies      
Instead, get rid of people you don't trust enough not to micromanage. If you look around and that's everyone, then the problem is probably with you...

Good stuff. I think leaders in general need to be more proactive pruning their employee tree if they want it to bear good fruit.

I'm amazed how difficult it is for managers to admit that they made a hiring mistake, even if the person that needs to go is just a contractor.

points by davidu 3 days ago replies      
This is an excellent article for any CEO taking their company from about 25 to 60 people.

I forwarded it to my VPs of Product and Engineering, swearing I didn't write it myself. :-)

points by uuilly 3 days ago replies      
Justin, what a great story about self-realization and growth. This is a very common problem among young, successful, technical entrepreneurs. But it seldom turns out as well as it did with you. Good luck and Godspeed.
points by joe_the_user 3 days ago replies      
Empowerment does not mean letting everyone do whatever they want.

A real gem (describes many "ghosts of employers past"). Most employees don't even want to do "whatever they want" since they know at the end of the day they have a job to do and if they're doing "whatever they want" it means they're flying blind and hoping they don't crash.

points by mattdeboard 3 days ago replies      
This article hit a lot of buzzers for me from my last job. Especially the signs there may be a problem. Burnout was rapid and high, confusion abounded, and so on. If I still worked there I'd email it to my coworkers so we could ruminate on how spot-on it described the office.
points by portentint 3 days ago replies      
Yes, good points all. It's also one of the hardest things to do when it's your business. I've been running my company for over 15 years. It's STILL hard to let go sometimes.

The best you can do is try, and ask your employee's forgiveness when you slide back into micromanaging.

One good way to move the process along: Never let an employee come to you with a problem unless they have 2 possible solutions. The solutions can be ridiculous, but they need to have 'em.

It gets them involved in the decision-making process from the get-go, and tends to prompt discussions among team members before you, the manager, has to get involved.

points by GaryOlson 3 days ago replies      
Although great points were made in the article, I find this to be a failure on the part of the CEO and COO. Their individual profiles on justin.tv are both vague and lacking in focus; public statements often reflect management styles and objectives. If the key directors of a company don't direct, the whole company will suffer regardless of the number of management books they read.
points by waynecolvin 3 days ago replies      
Part of this reminded me of [1]. Most of the book is about how employees can deal with different boss personalities.
[1] http://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/1564147045/ref=redir_mdp_mobil...
points by pointtaken 3 days ago replies      
One simple sign that you might have a management problem, you feel like you can't trust anyone.
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