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I don't learn anything on HN anymore, bring back the upvote count
1070 points by wdewind  6 days ago   227 comments top 73
tokenadult 5 days ago 5 replies      
When I first started reading HN I learned a TON very quickly and everyday about completely new stuff, and was able to do so because I could easily sort through the legitimacy of opinions based on their upvotes.

And yet the founder of HN said 25 days ago that there is a problem with HN, "the decreasing quality of comment threads on HN."


He summed up the problem by saying "The problem has several components: comments that are (a) mean and/or (b) dumb that (c) get massively upvoted." If pg observed a situation like that, isn't it a bad idea to "sort through the legitimacy of opinions based on their upvotes"?

A link and comment in another recent metadiscussion thread largely sums up the back-and-forth about visible comment scores as a signal on comments in active threads:


>> Please bring back the comment scores. It helps a lot in parsing the comments and assigning a proportional weight to each when reading them.

> I had to think about this a bit, and I disagree so far. I'm finding that I'm not pre-judging comments as much. It's nice to be able to read someone's comment without knowing first that 70 or 80 or 3 other people thought it was worthwhile.

Once I had thought about that a bit, I reached the second conclusion. Readers on HN are gaining more quality comments as readers look at comments according to their inherent value and not upvoting or downvoting based on the crowd appeal of what someone else has already voted. Cognitive scientists have done a lot of research on what is called anchoring bias,


and I get the impression, after 892 days as a registered user of HN, that comment upvotes and downvotes for the last year or so have not been based on the same careful consideration of comment quality as they were in the early days of HN, but rather have been based too much on what net karma score is already displayed as people vote. I like the new comment score system of not displaying net comment scores on OTHER people's posts (of course I can still see my own comment scores) better than the previous system. In the spirit of pg's statement, I try to help the quality of HN by actively upvoting thoughtful, helpful comments, and being on the lookout for mean comments (which pg hopes will not be upvoted by anyone) and dumb comments (which surely don't help any users relying on comment scores to learn new facts) for downvoting those. A comment that is both mean and dumb ought to be downvoted, not upvoted. We can all do our part to help the quality of the community.

In his thread, pg mentioned comments that are mean or dumb "that (c) get massively upvoted." With that condition of HN less than a month ago in mind, how do the highest-voted comments visible in the bestcomments list


look to all of you recently? Are there fewer mean comments than before? Are there fewer dumb comments than before? Are the comments that are "massively upvoted" since the experiment began mostly comments that are reasonably kind and well-informed, helpful comments on the whole? In most of the treads you visit, do helpful, thoughtful comments seem to rise to a position of prominence, while mean or dumb comments gray out?

Remember, pg's claim is that recently HN has not been a place where there is an "easy way for readers to differentiate the noise," but rather a place where the noise has had an attached badge of being signal rather than noise. That isn't good for anyone reading HN. As you correctly point out, we STILL have "the location on the page," which is useful at least for comparing multiple comments at the same reply level as a comment thread develops, and the actual sources and reasoning used by one or another user in supporting points made in comments. People who LOOK UP what the facts are can find out a lot about who is taking care to do good research and who is just making stuff up. And that's always the safest path to learning, to check the sources to verify other people's factual claims.

mmaunder 6 days ago  replies      
You need to ween yourself off your social proof addiction. The problem with vote counts is that two downvotes can start a cascade of reflex downvotes. Or at best, it won't get upvoted. When vote counts where active, this effect caused many instances where an excellent comment was found greyed out at the bottom of the page until a few smart HN folks with high karma voted it back up.
AgentConundrum 6 days ago 2 replies      
I've noticed the same thing. I'll see a debate which is basically a thread of two people replying to each other with no other contributors. In this circumstance, it's impossible to distinguish between a situation where one person gets 10 upvotes and holds a well-agreed opinion and the other person gets 1 or 2 upvotes and is arguing his opinion just well enough to avoid being downvoted.

I understand that we're supposed to form our own opinions as to who we agree with, but sometimes its just not reasonable to take the time to do enough research. Sometimes, you want to learn from someone that actually knows what they're talking about.

Without some sort of vote indicator, it's hard to tell who has the most accurate opinion, except often in subjects like law, security, and seo where there are known experts that often chime in (e.g. grellas, tptacek, patio11).

I'd suggest that a form of "fuzzy vote counts" be implemented. Something to indicate either a relative score ("this comment is substantially higher voted than its parent") or just an approximate value ("unvoted", "few votes", "many votes") without a specific score.

mixmax 6 days ago 0 replies      
I absolutely agree - and since it's impossible to know whether a top comment in a thread is there because it was just posted or because it has a lot of upvotes the sorting of the comments doesn't really give me any information. This begs the question: If I can't see the votes and have no easy way of knowing which comments are highly rated why have a voting system at all? What is the purpose if not to serve as a guideline for the users?
moxiemk1 6 days ago 1 reply      
I feel the opposite - I'm learning more, because if I'm spending the time to read something, I have to think critically about it and do research sometimes in order to have a good interpretation. It takes more time, but it's real learning, instead of echo-chamber reading.
grellas 6 days ago 0 replies      
Since HNers are so divided on this issue (http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=2445039), why not do one month on, one month off for a time to do a sort of A/B testing over a sustained period while keeping everyone at least semi-happy half the time? This would have the added benefit of letting cumulative totals get updated on searchyc from time to time.
jsdalton 6 days ago 1 reply      
I guess only pg can answer this, but I'm wondering how the change has impacted voting behavior. Have there been more or less votes per comment? Has the proportion of upvotes to downvotes changed?

I get the sense that my comments have received more rather than less votes since the change. Previously, when a decent comment of mine had say 10 upvotes, I felt like people concluded "good enough" and didn't bother upvoting. Now without the score feedback, I actually feel like some of my mediocre comments have gotten more upvotes than they deserved.

Some behavior data would go a long way toward confirming or denying hypotheses like these.

blhack 6 days ago 1 reply      
I've said this in some of the other threads on this topic, but I'll say it again:

The huge (and incorrect) assumption that people are making about upvotes is that everybody reading the comments is stupid. We're not using the upvote count as a 100% perfect indicator of if somebody is correct or not, we're using it as an indicator of how many upvotes the comment has gotten. It's just one of several things that we can use to judge a comment's merit.

This information is useful, and I cannot fathom a benefit to withholding it.

jimrandomh 6 days ago 1 reply      
I don't use upvotes to decide what I agree with, I use them to decide what to read in the first place. Hiding the votes means I can no longer skim through a thread to pick out the comments that are gems; I'd have to read all the bad comments too. And this means that reading comments here is no longer worth my time, so I don't do it. This is definitely not the desired effect.
masterzora 6 days ago 0 replies      
I know I'm not really supposed to have an opinion on these things, being a recently-created account and all, but I must respectfully disagree. If you really want to learn, using upvotes as proxy for correctness is a suboptimal way to do so, especially regarding topics without any clear cut answers. Being new to this site, I've actually spent roughly equal amounts of time with and without vote counts an I've noticed a pretty big difference in my own habits. In particular, rather than acting like HN is an omniscient font of knowledge, I treat it much more like wikipedia: a springboard for further exploration of topics.
sosuke 6 days ago 3 replies      
The highly voted comments still float to the top of the page don't they? When I was only reading the highly voted commetns I started to feel like I was only getting the popular opinion, especially so when it came to touchy topics. If HN does decide to turn the count back on I'd love an option to turn it back off in my own profile.
spencerfry 6 days ago 1 reply      
I completely agree. I don't have time to read every comment. I miss being able to skim to crowd-sourced, high up-voted comments.
rriepe 6 days ago 0 replies      
I could see this change working for other sites, but HN actually does have a sort of collective wisdom.

I've also stopped looking at comments entirely. Before, I would sometimes click through to just read the comments. There was value there. It's not necessarily gone now, but it is much harder to find.

gamble 6 days ago 2 replies      
I've been trying to give it a chance, but so far it doesn't seem like hiding the vote counts has done anything to improve the quality of comments on HN. Honestly, I think it's had the opposite effect. The number of in-depth comments seems to have plummeted.
tolmasky 6 days ago 1 reply      
What I found weird is that the points went away but the greying effect stayed. The truth is that that goes a lot further in making sure I don't ready unpopular views (with my eyes I often have to copy paste it to a text editor before I can read it comfortably). I would much prefer all comments be the same font color and being able to see the score so I can make my own decision as to whether to read it or not.
cglee 6 days ago 1 reply      
I like not seeing vote count, but agree with you that it's a handy metric to sift through the cruft. How about a color scheme to show popularity instead of the specific vote count?
pluies 6 days ago 1 reply      
Yes please.

Also, the poll at http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=2445039 showed that most people agree.

ilitirit 5 days ago 0 replies      
I think the best solution would be for everyone to just start posting "better" commentary (and submissions), and revert back to the old ways of downvoting things that add no value to the discussion.

The "old" HN was a lot drier (for lack of a better word), but the discussions were generally much more informative and/or insightful. I remember people complaining about getting downvoted for a comment that would have probably gotten many upvotes on other sites, and I was always pleased to that these in turn were downvoted as well. This doesn't seem to happen any more though, which is a shame IMO.

famousactress 6 days ago 0 replies      
I miss them also. Was a weighted voting discussed as an alternative? One where the up/down vote is weighted against the karma of the voter? Seems like that would help elevate big-karma users to sort of meta-moderators and might help soften the concerns about reflexive voting?

And yeah, maybe for display the numbers aren't the best option.. just some sort of watered down "+" "++" "+++" type scheme...

jshen 6 days ago 1 reply      
"because I could easily sort through the legitimacy of opinions based on their upvotes. "

This is a mistake. People frequently vote down things that are right because they don't understand the material as well as they think they do.

merloen 6 days ago 0 replies      
There are so much more possibilities than just "show vote counts" and "hide vote counts": different sort orders based on more than just votes, collapsing threads, marking people as friends, or adding them to a kill-file. Giving votes different weights based on karma, or average comment score. Tagging of articles, and filtering or sorting based on that. And so on, and so on.

I understand that pg hasn't got the time to do all kinds of experiments, but this is HN, where more than half of us are great programmers.

Give us a simple API and let us do our own experiments. That's all I want.

evo_9 6 days ago 0 replies      
Thanks for posting this. This is exactly how I feel about it.

The one upside to this change I guess is I'm spending much less time on H-N now.

fleitz 5 days ago 0 replies      
The only thing you're no longer learning is groupthink. Be glad you aren't learning it.

It's easy to learn in person, just parrot what everyone else is saying. You don't need HN to learn it.

You realize that people game the upvote system right? Writing karma whore comments is so easy when you know the votes. If you really want to know the votes, just reverse engineer the algorithm, it will show you the relative votes.

lhnn 5 days ago 0 replies      
Could we have a hybrid? We don't need to see the exact number... what if massively upvoted (100+ points) got a green highlight on the "link" URL, and massively downvoted (-10 or more) get shaded, like they already do?

This keeps the content from being so quickly judged, but eventually shows strong content that has been upvoted by hundreds without bias.

albertsun 6 days ago 0 replies      
Why not have a (high) karma threshold, above which you can choose whether or not you want to see vote counts?

I think respected, established members of the community would know themselves well enough to decide for themselves whether it's good or bad to personally have vote counts.

FWIW: Below the threshold I think it's better to not have counts.

ronaldj 6 days ago 0 replies      
I miss the voting. I don't even bother reading comments anymore.
ANH 6 days ago 0 replies      
I prefer not seeing the number of votes, and think lukifer's idea of a "view count or vote" model is great. A visible score attached to each comment seems to me somehow demeaning. But I've never been much for grades...

And has been stated multiple times, the highly upvoted comments filter to the top already.

JabavuAdams 6 days ago 0 replies      
One issue I'd like to see explored more deeply is the path-dependence of a comment's final score.

There's this often unstated assumption that "good" comments will rise to the top.

What about this:

1) Display all comment scores, all the time
2) A new comment is posted
3) Segment the readership somehow, so that the comment has a (possibly different) score for each segment. E.g. Allow a comment to have 4 different scores.
4) Start the comment off with a random score in the range [-2, +2], but one that's different for each viewer segment
5) track (but hide) the number of upvotes and downvotes for each score
6) display just init + upvotes - downvotes to each segment

raquo 6 days ago 0 replies      
Hm, this post is only 2 hours old and is already 14th on the front page despite having 600+ points. Do all local posts disappear so fast from the front page, or is this one treated specially? Or maybe its upvote/downvote ratio is low?
yosho 6 days ago 0 replies      
Can we at least maybe have a star rating or color rating or something that lets us differentiate high voted comments from mediocre comments? It really does simply take too long to scan and read all the comments. Most of the time I'm just looking for interesting snippets of information, I simply don't have the time to read everything.

Please bring something back, I find myself never reading the comments now.

kuroir 6 days ago 0 replies      
The point you make is totally valid; and now that I think about it, when I was able to see the upvotes I could at a glance identify the answers with one or more of the following:

1. Correct Answer (real, like a founder answering about his app).
2. Popular Answer (comedy, something people "lol" to).

Identifying the difference between those two is done with only common sense; but supposing you still lack of that, you can still feel what the community liked by looking at the numbers.

"50 upvoted this" that must mean something vs "3 upvoted this"...

bandushrew 6 days ago 0 replies      
I am very sorry, but that is just wrong.

Votes are not a reliable indication of whether or not a post is correct.

They are a reliable indication of whether or not a post is popular.

It does sometimes happen that a post is both correct and popular, but that is not something it is ever safe to rely on.

'Social Proof' is a fantasy that does not exist.

larsberg 6 days ago 1 reply      
I hate to be "that guy," but I don't see why the count display isn't an option in our account panel.

In the previous polls, people seemed to be split 50/50-ish. Unless pg, as HN Overlord, feels that either removing counts has a performance or pedagogical purpose, this option seems like a perfect candidate for an account setting.

knite 6 days ago 0 replies      
I don't need to know a comment's score, just the score's magnitude provides a lot of utility. In the same way that a grayed-out comment signifies a poor reply, find a way to show me whether a comment is neutral, slightly positive, very positive, or stupendously positive.
JabavuAdams 6 days ago 0 replies      
Wow. I never realized that people paid attention to upvotes. This explains a lot...

> Especially as an engineer who knows little about business, it was extremely helpful to get a community perspective on the startup stuff.

It's not a community perspective. It's a positive feedback loop.

> The value of HN, from the perspective of simply learning, has been destroyed for me since upvotes were hidden.

Now, you're learning.

hkon 1 day ago 0 replies      
Take any site like this, they all suffer from this problem when the number of users reach a certain point.

I like the slashdot way of organizing stuff. Mods who actively moderate and categorize comments. It's more work, but the end result will be of higher quality.

eande 6 days ago 0 replies      
every time someone posts this I add my 2 cents and say the same, please bring back the karma most useful.
blhack 5 days ago 0 replies      
To the people who think that comment points should not be visible:

How do you go about choosing which books to read? Do you read all of them, are you exclusive to specific authors, or do you depend on your peers to make suggestions?

bane 5 days ago 0 replies      
Perhaps pg should set a point where the points are revealed, but additional voting is locked out (but not comments)? Perhaps 24-48 hours after an article is submitted? Then provide a link to those articles as they decay into that group for people who really need point confirmation to catch up on what the rest of the community thought?
97s 6 days ago 0 replies      
i agree. i miss being able to skim faster and determine what the community judges as a good reply, I know many others who feel the same way.
dmak 6 days ago 0 replies      
I, literally, stopped reading comments and even started to stop reading hacker news because I didn't feel like spending extra time to read through and filter out the informational comments.
blantonl 6 days ago 0 replies      
Although I learn a lot from the comments on submissions, I tend to learn a lot more from the submissions themselves.

Maybe the Hacker News team is trying to place more emphasis on submissions instead of comments?

_sh 5 days ago 0 replies      
Here's a thought: maybe it's time to close HN. That's right, close it down. PG said all along HN was a production experiment for Arc, so maybe it's time to evaluate the hypothesis and conclude the experiment.

All this hand-wringing about 'the community' and signal/noise indicates the membership has outmanoeuvred any means of wrangling it into some pre-conceived notion of 'quality'. For better or for worse, the thundering hoards of the internet have arrived and are drowning out the elitist clique. If that is bad for everybody, then it's time to shut up shop.

zwieback 6 days ago 0 replies      
I'm not a heavy user of social networks so I don't know if this exists somewhere but why can't I have a customized view where posters I like are weighted more than others. Then I can do this:

- The poster's weighting would show up as a color (good,better,best)

- The product of the poster's weight and the popularity of the comment determines the order on the page

Now I can look at the top of the page where very popular comments show up and then scroll toward the bottom and quickly identify any posters I really like

I realize this wouldn't be too hard to do by scraping the comment page and maintaining my own database of favorite commenters.

runjake 6 days ago 1 reply      
Or at least shove it in a div or span and hide it by default, so those of us who want it back can style it unhidden.
ssing 6 days ago 0 replies      
Nowdays I just don't read beyond the first few comments. Request to please bring back the upvote count.
stretchwithme 6 days ago 0 replies      
Maybe there should be 2 modes.

One for those just wanting to read and learn where they can see the votes but where the user is not allowed to vote.

And one for those wishing to vote where they can't see and be influenced by the votes of others.

zyfo 6 days ago 0 replies      
Good comments are still put at the top. Mentally filter out the recent comments, and you should be able to see quite easily how "good" a comment is. I honestly don't see the big difference.
Goladus 6 days ago 0 replies      
Learn to read critically and think critically. You don't need prior knowledge on a subject to evaluate a comment. Look for sound logic. Identify and evaluate the assertions and any hidden assumptions.

Vote counts are won't ever reliably reveal truth.

mattdeboard 6 days ago 0 replies      
I have never. Ever. EVER. witnessed the top comment on an active HN thread be something "witty remarks that a lot of people found funny." Granted, I've only been here a year or so, but comment threads here do come very close to being a true meritocracy, where merit is a function is insight, relevance, wit and brevity.

HN only feels like Reddit comment threads to me on these introspective topics. I avoid them for the most part but your comment in particular stood out to me.

rexreed 5 days ago 0 replies      
I don't understand this. I have no problem discerning good quality content and comments from bad quality. I just read stuff. It sounds intellectually lazy and quite possibly self-defeating to rely on the trivialities of other people's votes to determine what is important to YOU.

After all, what is important to ME or not important to ME has nothing to do with what's important to YOU. The fact that you have stopped learning anything on HN, as you put it, has to do with YOU and not ME. So, don't blame the lack of votes. I wonder how you can get along in this world where you have to evaluate things at face value. In the "real world", there aren't point values and upvote/downvote nonsense on things.

I hope HN gets rid of the point system altogether. I'm sure I'm in the minority.

lupatus 6 days ago 0 replies      
Lately, I've been reading the "new" headlines as opposed to the "top" headlines to find those hidden gems that _I_ think are interesting.
starpilot 6 days ago 1 reply      
To new HN readers, the comments appear to be sorted randomly. There's no explanation for why some posts are at the top or bottom. That's a definite flaw of hiding the votecounts and could dissuade newcomers.
besvinick 6 days ago 0 replies      
I feel like all the articles that get posted on HN are ones that I come across through a variety of other sources (SAI, TechCrunch, etc.) on Twitter. I find HN to be much more useful for discussions that are started based off the aforementioned articles from other sites.
6ren 6 days ago 0 replies      
Comment age is also a factor: an older comment has more points than a similarly ordered newer comment.

So, when scanning downwards, score is inversely proportional to age.

gsivil 5 days ago 1 reply      
How come this post is not in the first page after 8 hours while the following post for example still is?

Joel Spolsky: Lunch (joelonsoftware.com)
275 points by alexlmiller 12 hours ago | flag | 175 comments

pnathan 6 days ago 0 replies      
Agreed, votes are a good way to filter out the most of noise from the signal.
kleevr 6 days ago 0 replies      
I kind of like hiding the points for active threads, maybe after 24 hours it could show the points. This would be helpful when
b3b0p 6 days ago 0 replies      
Maybe make the up / down votes on a comment a reward for participating on that thread.

That is, if you up vote / down vote a comment and make a comment on that comment you can view that comments vote count. Does that make sense or did it come out sounding bad?

Just a thought. I think I like it without knowing the vote count.

Edit: Clarification.

espeed 6 days ago 0 replies      
So have two types of browsers -- those who choose to see vote counts, and those that don't. And discount the votes of those that do.
adaml_623 6 days ago 0 replies      
I think you either need an upvote count or the ability to collapse comment threads.
BoppreH 6 days ago 0 replies      
Can we get a user preference, as the case with show_dead and topcolor? I don't see that could be bad for anyone.

"Show score on posts: (yes/no)"

sebkomianos 6 days ago 0 replies      
Having it as an option for everyone to choose if he/she wants it enabled or disabled could as well be a "solution"?
FreshCode 6 days ago 1 reply      
Hacker News needs a Meta HN.
twodayslate 6 days ago 0 replies      
I did not even notice they removed the vote count. It doesn't bother me. I don't know how to downvote either though
mattreading 5 days ago 0 replies      
Karma is a form of currency. It's influence should be exploited not suffocated! There are ways to use it that would benefit the community.
turar 6 days ago 0 replies      
Will setting downvote display limit to 0 instead of -4 help?
teyc 6 days ago 1 reply      
I disagree. It is forcing you to think for yourself.

What do you want to learn here? What most HNers believe to be true, or do you want to learn to be independent?

known 5 days ago 0 replies      
What are the incentives for up/down voting?
solid 6 days ago 0 replies      
How about the Slashdot system? +1/5 Insightful/Funny/etc?
fuckoff 5 days ago 0 replies      
here here!
kedi_xed 6 days ago 0 replies      
I did see that as '..bring back the upvote c*unt'. Thought it was a little harsh.
grandalf 6 days ago 0 replies      
Suggestion: Try getting dopamine from reading the comments instead of from game mechanics layered imperfectly on top of the forum.
Osama bin Laden Is Dead nytimes.com
914 points by ssclafani  2 days ago   427 comments top 67
jrockway 2 days ago  replies      
Osama bin Laden's legacy lives on with every traveler being herded through body scanners, with every illegal search in our 120-mile-radius Constitution-free zones, and with every warrantless wiretap.

Until his legacy dies, he lives on, as strong as ever.


Can I at least bring a tube of toothpaste with me when I travel now?

abalashov 2 days ago 6 replies      
Not even a whimper of cheer for Osama's death from me, given the abysmal foreign policy and national security state failure of the last decade. As another commenter said, "Osama bin Laden's legacy lives on with every traveler being herded through body scanners, with every illegal search in our 120-mile-radius Constitution-free zones, and with every warrantless wiretap."

Besides that, it's simply not like me to cheer for anyone's death, in principle, especially a figure the TV adamantly asserts we're supposed to hate. It's not that I doubt the veracity of the reasons given so much as I loathe demagoguery and spectacle.

pnathan 2 days ago  replies      
Summary (from the speech broadcast on CNN):

* In August '10 a lead was uncovered. Obama directed followup.

* Lead was strengthened over time until it was isolated that bin Laden was in a compound in Pakistan.

* Obama gave the order and an American commando team went in, had a firefight, and killed bin Laden. His body was brought out.

* No Americans were harmed, and civilians were attempted to be protected.

* The Pakistani government was notified (speech did not say if this was pre-event or post-event).

And, transcript! http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2011/05/02/osama-bin-laden-de...

sp332 2 days ago 4 replies      
As usual, Al Jazeera English has excellent coverage and a much broader perspective: Live video http://english.aljazeera.net/watch_now/
meterplech 2 days ago 1 reply      
I am pretty impressed that Twitter is still up right now. As far as I can tell there was no fail whale during this whole news break. Big moment for the site I think.
joe24pack 2 days ago 8 replies      
finally. Can we stop the stupid patdowns of innocent travelers and disconnect the porno scanners at the airports now? I have to travel tomorrow and I'd rather not go through that crap again.
hasenj 2 days ago 1 reply      
He was as good as dead for a long time now anyway. It's not like he was personally managing and planning all of alqaeda's operations or anything. The significance of this event is mostly symbolic.

Look at Iraq: alqaeda's influence in Iraq wasn't destroyed by the death of Zarqawi; it was destroyed when the locals stood up and took arms against them.

georgieporgie 2 days ago 2 replies      
Tangentially, I'm kind of disappointed at the spontaneous, flag waving, "USA!" chanting crowds. I understand the sentiment, but having seen too many street parties celebrating the death of Americans, it seems rather low class.
dr_ 2 days ago 1 reply      
This is just fantastic news! I stare at the rising Freedom Tower out my window as I write this, and there's a sense of closure to what was a rude awakening to a new century.

From Andrew Sullivan on Daily Beast:
"12.08 pm Can I say how deeply moving it is that a man named Barack Hussein Obama gave the order for the operation that killed Osama bin Laden?

The pre-eminent symbol of our the multicultural, multiracial society of the future defeated the pre-eminent symbol of the darkest, bleakest throwback to medieval religious fanaticism. Im not ashamed to use the following language: Good defeated evil. And hope rekindles again."

lanceusa 2 days ago 4 replies      
I'm going to offer a healthy bit of skepticism here but it frightens me the way this is being reported.

"...justice has been done". American military and C.I.A. operatives had ...shot him to death.

"I authorized an operation to get Osama bin Laden and bring him to justice."

"His demise should be welcome by all who believe in peace and human dignity."

Is that how we conduct justice now? I am not satisfied by this outcome. I would rather have had him in custody showing we hold the higher ground when it pertains to morality and justice. Its no surprise to me now that our morality and judgment is an illusion which I thought, ever since I was a kid, was what made America great. The fact that Obama plays off people's emotions in his speech to gain support for this outcome is purely disgusting.

And lastly, you believe this because the media and Obama says its so?

russnewcomer 2 days ago 3 replies      
This is a much more complex piece of news than most Americans think. I just hope they don't show his body on TV. That's going to just incite and inflame jihad-minded fighters.

And I sure hope this doesn't make the U.S. pull out of Afghanistan in the next 90 days like NBC just implied, because that would be bad for everyone in that country.

EDIT if OBL really was killed in a mansion in Islamabad, that changes a lot in relations between the US and Pakistan. If he was killed in the FATA, then it's pretty meaningless operationally, it's just a news deal that will inflame the jihadi world for a while.

Edit2 Abbottabad is in NWFP, so not exactly Islamabad and a different interesting. If Obama didn't get Pakistan's permission before going, that is interesting. Not going to change wars on the ground except for a inflammation in jihadi tensions.

Sukotto 2 days ago 1 reply      
It's a shame they couldn't capture him. "Shot in the head while resisting" is very inconvenient for those of us who wanted to be sure he faced justice.

Personally, I think it probably went down more or less as reported. Namely that he was killed in the firefight. Probably not on purpose.

I know a little bit about close-in operations like this one must have been and, well, it's hard to keep a guy alive who is (1) shooting at you and (2) would rather die than be captured. Hell, it's hard enough extracting hostages alive and they want to live.

tectonic 2 days ago 2 replies      
Will the Bill of rights be reinstated now?
nopassrecover 2 days ago 1 reply      
[Not HN] - Assuming this qualified as interesting/useful to hackers, which I disagree with but obviously it's on the front page, this is two paragraphs (at least currently?) saying Bin Laden is dead, statement to come, i.e. completely devoid of information.
kloncks 2 days ago 0 replies      
Osama Bin Laden really shouldn't have used his real address on Sony's Playstation Network...
espeed 2 days ago 1 reply      
Hitler was confirmed dead 66 years ago today: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/May_1
mmaunder 2 days ago 0 replies      
Aj Jazeera being rebroadcast on CSPAN1 with analysis on this. Nice.
Osiris 2 days ago 0 replies      
ABC News has released a timeline of the events that occurred on Sunday as well as the 5 years of events that led up to identifying the location.


jim_h 2 days ago 1 reply      
President Obama will make a live announcement about it.


aterimperator 2 days ago 3 replies      
"The worst thing to post or upvote is something that's intensely but shallowly interesting. Gossip about famous people, funny or cute pictures or videos, partisan political articles, etc. If you let that sort of thing onto a news site, it will push aside the deeply interesting stuff, which tends to be quieter."
jmspring 2 days ago 0 replies      
Across the US, people are firing up Team America: World Police. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sWS-FoXbjVI
sudonim 2 days ago 3 replies      

As of 11:09 pm est, it is either over or hasn't started.

Image: https://skitch.com/sudonim/r7b7f/the-white-house

wcchandler 2 days ago 5 replies      
Is anybody else saddened by the fact that we are in celebration of an individual's death? I fail to see the differences between his and our philosophies.
jakewalker 2 days ago 4 replies      
Damn. Already went through my allotment of 20 NY Times stories.
Osiris 2 days ago 4 replies      
As reported in the Huffington Post, Obama instructed the CIA to step up efforts to find Osama just 3 days ago on April 28, 2011.


According to the article, Obama was concerned that the Taliban might gain political influence in Afghanistan after U.S. troops leave and if so, they may invite Osama back to the country. The believe is that killing Osama will help prevent the Taliban from regaining control.

lotusleaf1987 2 days ago 4 replies      
Wow, I was getting a little nervous Obama might be a one-term president, but I think that without a doubt he will be reelected now--healthcare reform, his contrast to the Tea party, and handling of the recovery from the financial meltdown.

I'm sure Qaddafi is freaked out right now. His son and grandkids, and now Osama. If they got Osama, Qaddafi doesn't have a chance.

Edit: I can't sleep! So optimistic now, I bet the stock market goes up a few hundred points tomorrow also.

statictype 2 days ago 1 reply      
Important news. But,

Off-Topic: Most stories about politics, or crime, or sports, unless they're evidence of some interesting new phenomenon. Videos of pratfalls or disasters, or cute animal pictures. If they'd cover it on TV news, it's probably off-topic.


Flag please.

pessimist 2 days ago 0 replies      
Oil falls 1% on the news, stock futures up by 0.5%, dollar up also (expectation of reduction in war expenses?).
marcamillion 2 days ago 2 replies      
I am not American...but I feel like one today!

Wonderful news!

offshoreguy 2 days ago 0 replies      
Now let's repeal the Patriot Act and all the legislation passed under the rubric of fighting terrorism.
fosk 2 days ago 1 reply      
It seems like his body has been buried at sea, this makes me think a lot. Where's the body? After 10 years why not wait at least tomorrow before making his body disappear the same day when he has been killed?
stanmancan 1 day ago 0 replies      
‎"I mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives, but I will not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy. Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that."
--Martin Luther King, Jr
quizbiz 2 days ago 3 replies      
Correct me if I'm wrong but apparently twitter broke the story?
endtime 2 days ago 0 replies      
Given that this was clearly months in the making, the timing (just as reelection campaigning is about to start) is, uh, auspicious.

That said, good riddance.

shareme 2 days ago 2 replies      
Obama just won re-election, if this is true..assuming if he can get gas prices down..
antihero 2 days ago 2 replies      
How do they know it isn't just some guy that looks like Osama? Did they take his DNA a while back?
omouse 2 days ago 0 replies      
Cool, so the war in Afghanistan is over?
FrojoS 2 days ago 0 replies      
I wonder if he would have been found had he used the Internet (TOR etc.) to stay connected with the world, instead of his courier. No idea.
toblender 2 days ago 1 reply      
I found it odd that we are celebrating a death. Seems somewhat barbaric.
ramki 2 days ago 0 replies      
Osama Dead. Does it mean anything positive to us. Nothing. Just Nothing. - Osama is not living in a forest, but a mansion..say it again with me..a fucking big mansion at a stone's throw away from a military academy in Pakistan. - This mansion is located in a colony of retired Pakistani military officers. - And last but not the least, al-Qaeda is not just Osama. In fact it now looks more evident that al-Qaeda is operated by ISI itself. God knows how many terrorists are still harbored in Pakistan. We know for the fact that the ones who attacked Mumbai are there. And we know that Dawood Ibrahim is living in a even bigger mansion in the same Pakistan. (For the uninformed, Javed Miandad's son and Dawood Ibrahim's daughter are married sometime back). Do you feel like asking "Can India do the same thing as US did today?" Now, that's what I call a joke. Go ahead and watch Obama putting a smug face and praising Pakistan's support in this operation.
zdw 2 days ago 1 reply      
Just to clarify, is this politics? Should it be flagged?

The January 9th AZ shootings articles were all flagged and pulled from the site - I'm having trouble seeing the difference between that piece of news and this.

geuis 2 days ago 0 replies      
The live feed just came on air at 8:35pm PST http://www.whitehouse.gov/live
mmaunder 2 days ago 1 reply      
Mission accomplished.
ramki 2 days ago 0 replies      
Bin Laden did not die in some remote cave in the mountains - but in a residential compound in the same town as Pakistan Military Academy
maxxxxx 2 days ago 0 replies      
I wonder what the nutcases will make out of that.
- Why did Obaba wait that long?
- What did they cover up by burying him so soon?
rbanffy 2 days ago 0 replies      
What part of "no disintegrations" didn't they get?
grandalf 2 days ago 1 reply      
The question is, who will be the next third world "evildoer" that all Americans come to know by name by virtue of US propaganda?
wrm 2 days ago 0 replies      
Live feed is down. Check out http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K8j8LpwDo7Q.
fredBuddemeyer 2 days ago 0 replies      
iridium83 2 days ago 1 reply      
In an ideal world Osama bin Laden would have been captured with the help of the Pakistani military and handed over to the International Court of Justice to be tried and executed. There is a fine line between justice and revenge. Extremists can use this to incite more violence.
dirtyhand 2 days ago 0 replies      
Good job 007
kevinchen 2 days ago 2 replies      
I was really hoping this could avoid Hacker News.
brolik 2 days ago 0 replies      
Osama shouldn't have used his real address in his PSN account.
sid_g 2 days ago 0 replies      
Does this mean no full body scanners anymore?
gluecode 2 days ago 0 replies      
Good riddance.
Rariel 2 days ago 0 replies      
Are you starting a "deather" movement?
pt 2 days ago 0 replies      
Trump will now ask to see the death certificate!
hardcoded 2 days ago 0 replies      
Obama has just been re-elected. Fait-accompli. Churchill? Give me a break.
known 2 days ago 0 replies      
Why it took 10 years? Justice delayed == Justice denied
digamber_kamat 2 days ago 0 replies      
He was staying in a mansion in the capital city of Pakistan. Pakistan has fooled United States for so long and American blood is on their hands. Hope US shows courage to punish the Pakistani army and rest of the Jehadi complex.
trickjarrett 2 days ago 0 replies      
Major US or World news always comes up on HN.
bokchoi 2 days ago 0 replies      
Mission Accomplished
phil 2 days ago 0 replies      
It's correct usage.
hrabago 2 days ago 2 replies      
[Deleted] Don't know why this is being downvoted. I was sharing an analysis of what could happen as a consequence of this event.
lwat 2 days ago 3 replies      
I'm convinced he's been dead for several years, we'll see what kind of evidence they have.
Workers Leaving the Googleplex andrewnormanwilson.com
673 points by maverhick  4 days ago   391 comments top 65
kstenerud 4 days ago  replies      
Large companies work by inertia. Google is actually more agile for its size, but it's still a big company and ruled by inertia.

In a large company, the majority of people don't know each other, and don't communicate on a daily basis. This means that things of interest get passed from person to person, usually by email, and so the original intent of the message tends to get lost due to the 3rd or 4th reader having no idea what kind of person the original writer is, what his writing style is, whether he's being serious or joking, etc.

As a result, you end up with lots of requests for clarification, especially where it's an event that falls outside of the normal routine. It takes a lot to rile up a company, but Andrew did it expertly, pushing all the buttons his background in sociology and politics gave him a solid understanding of.

Notice how it went through three separate "request for clarification" requests, each more formal than the last. Each time, he responded in a passive-aggressive manner that re-pushed those same buttons.

As it pushed its way through the various departments and echelons of the company, such a message would become more and more threatening as the person became less and less known. People go into CYA mode (better safe than sorry), the company momentum changes and things start rolling.

Let's look at the course of events again:

1: Andrew is intercepted by someone who is probably a manager (notice his description "Agitated Chubby White Male", with the connotations of bourgeoisie).

2: The manager takes Andrew to explain the situation to security (pointing out that the security guard is a black man in a menial job, with "sedate" added for connotations of passively accepting his proletariat fate).

3: Security contacts Transvideo to get clarification from Andrew and find out his intentions (notice his description "so that the issue can be filtered and separated neatly into their bracketed accounts", with the connotations of the soulless bureocratic corporate machine).

At this point, the security department is unsure of Andrew's intentions. Was it just harmless curiosity? Is he a plant, trying to dig up dirt to embarrass Google? They can't know for sure, so they ask him to clarify his position.

What Andrew sends back is a passive-aggressive letter covering class, race, and labor, all hot button topics. His manager asks for even more clarification. People are getting very nervous at this point.

Andrew's response is political dynamite, once again using passive-aggressive techniques to all but accuse Google of racist discriminatory labor practices.

That someone with "backgrounds in sociology and political philosophy" wouldn't understand what panic his second letter would produce is incredibly hard to believe. In fact, Andrew's entire description is so slanted and colored that I'm inclined to suspect that he deliberately set about getting himself fired so that he could trumpet "Google is Evil!" from his blog, Michael Moore style.

bane 4 days ago  replies      
I don't think he understands how contractors work (Google didn't hire you you git, Google contracted your company and your company placed you there to fill the contract) or hourly labor works (you don't get privileges or benefits), so he turns it into a ridiculous conspiracy.

Breaking news!

Google has hourly employees! - You don't say?!

Google has contractors! - Really?!

Let's explore the narcissistic exploration of self-hurting section by section:

"In September 2007 I was hired jointly by Transvideo Studios and Google"

No you weren't. You were hired by Transvideo Studios who filled a contractor slot on their video production contract with Google.

"I had access to a personally unprecedented amount of privileges, but was not entitled to the ski trips, DisneyLand adventures, stock options, and holiday cash bonuses"

That's because you weren't a Google employee. You were a Transvideo Studios employee. Do you expect to receive benefits from another company just because you happen to be walking around on their campus?

"The workers wearing yellow badges are not allowed any of the privileges that I was allowed " ride the Google bikes, take the Google luxury limo shuttles home, eat free gourmet Google meals, attend Authors@Google talks and receive free, signed copies of the author's books, or set foot anywhere else on campus except for the building they work in."

So hourly employees aren't entitled to the benefits package of salaried exempt employees? And the way Google is setup is to pool employee benefits in and around their building, ergo the only way for hourly employees to not receive the benefits package is to work in a different facility?! Stop the presses! It's a conspiracy!

I almost stopped reading there, hand stuck to my forehead, but then I saw this as I was closing the page and was hooked to the rest of this like watching a train wreck happen.

"To Whom It May Concern,

Yesterday I was outside the Google Book Search building, which is adjacent to the building I work in, and had the chance to talk to a few employees while they were leaving work. Most of them are people of color and are supposedly involved in the labor of digitizing information. I'm interested in issues of class, race, and labor, and so out of general curiosity I wanted to ask these workers about their jobs. I am aware of internal mechanisms for discussing labor issues with Google, and had no intention of defaming the company. I was not aware of how secretive the Book Search project is, but now understand how seriously my curiosity could jeopardize not only my own job and Transvideos' relationship with Google, but also my legal situation because of the non-disclosure agreement I signed.

I apologize for bothering you with this innocent mistake and can assure you that in the future I will be more cautious about respecting confidentiality at Google.


Andrew Wilson"

You're also a liar. Your intention was not to explore your passing interest in labor, class or race, but to feed your own self-importance by uncovering a made-up conspiracy of class warfare at Google, where the man is oppressing a silent minority of underclass poor people from enjoying the rights and privileges of the ruling overclasses. Did you mention that you were secretly video taping this?

You wanted to document this in as dishonest a way as possible, "exposing" this "dark secret" to the world the way PETA exposes animal cruelty in meat processing plants, with hidden cameras, a blog post loaded with terms-and-phrases-of-controversy.

"But Marco called back in a frenzy, saying that Google security had proof of me outside, filming yellow-badged workers leaving the 3.1459~ building on two separate occasions. I told him this was true and he said that Google legal was now involved, and they needed the video tapes immediately."

So of course your immediate innocent reaction, which you didn't think was important to share with anybody, was to secretly videotape people coming and going from their place of work without their permission.

"Burt then presented me with a document that would terminate my employment on the basis of me using __Google's video equipment__ during working hours __(although it was during my lunchbreak)__"

It's still Google's equipment you nitwit.

"I told him I could take the shuttle home, as I've gotten on without my badge numerous times, but he insisted on driving me to the CalTrain station."

Really? You don't understand why they wanted to escort you personally off campus? After you were abusing company equipment, violating security, secretly filming your coworkers and pretending not to find the film, then documenting your lie by putting the video you couldn't find up on your site, then lying to your managers about the entire thing? What are you 8? It boggles the mind.

I wonder how many of the yellow badges got fired as a result of this asshole?

Wake me when this guy grows up and starts seeing a psychiatrist. And yes, please keep this post up so other companies know not to hire you either.

neilk 4 days ago 3 replies      
I used to work at Google and the "class system" was something that grated on me from time to time.

I didn't know any yellow badge folks myself, and was ignorant of their existence, just as the article mentions.

But red badges (contractors) are ubiquitous. In one case they fired all the QA contractors and made them reapply for their own jobs -- we're talking about people who had deep knowledge of certain projects, who'd been on certain teams for years, who were valued contributors, people who we didn't want to lose. But because they had a red badge, they were subject to petty whims of bureaucrats from on high, unlike white badges. At least on my team, almost all red badge QA contractors were of Indian origin, and often female.

Now that's not very different from how a normal company works. But Google just made the distinction difficult to ignore since white badges had so many privileges, including, for engineers, the right to reallocate themselves, or to exploit the famous 20% time. Google's image is that they are pioneering a different way of working, with more workplace democracy, but the truth is that these privileges are limited to as few employees as they can get away with.

And of course, the biggest class division has to do with the people who do physical labor and sanitation. I tend to work after hours and I also tend to talk to people even if they're supposed to be "invisible", so I've had conversations with some of the workers. (Ironically, one conversation conducted using Google Translate). That person emptying your wastebasket might be qualified to do nursing back in her home country. Oh, and it might amuse Yahoo employees to know that their recycling program is a complete sham -- everything is emptied into the same trash containers anyway, and the workers are forbidden from taking the cans away to cash in themselves.

jxcole 4 days ago 7 replies      

My Dad once sued microsoft because they had many "temporary" workers who did not get the full benefit of full time workers. These workers were labelled as contract workers however, he was able to win his case because at the end of the day, they were working full time for Microsoft. Not only that, they were often employed by microsoft for many years, even though the claim was generally that these employees were fulfilling a short term need.

He was able to get them damages for all sorts of things, including the fact that they were not entitled to store discounts while other employees were.

Even though he won, many companies including Microsoft still do the exact same thing with their employees. The only difference is they are trying to keep it under wraps so they don't get sued again.

Very likely, Google is trying to cover it's tracks in the same manner. They are probably less worried about racism than they are about this sort of permatemp law suit.

Let's face it, if they were doing something legal they wouldn't care if they were getting videotaped.

From my dad's firm's website:

kylec 4 days ago 3 replies      
There's nothing surprising about a company having different classes of employees. If that was all that the article was about, it would be a minor curiosity. However, Google's extreme overreaction to someone trying to get some very basic information about the other set of employees is what's concerning. It's difficult to know how much of this story is speculation vs fact - whether or not the yellow badged employees are really data entry, whether there are really instructions on the back of the badge with a number to call if someone starts asking questions. If true, though, it's highly concerning coming from a company that flaunts the openness of their products, and whose corporate motto is "don't be evil".
pstack 4 days ago  replies      
Was the voiceover being done in a closet in a Google lobby or is there another reason for the depressed monotone? I mean, I understand we're trying to be moody and ominous here, but the voiceover could have been retelling the story of the Human Centipede and I'd have probably fallen asleep (or wanted to shoot myself).

I'm not defending Google, here, because I don't know anything about them beyond what everyone else knows from the outside. However, what do you expect the reaction to be when you are an employ for a company contracted to provide services to a client who grants you certain access and privileges which you then abuse to pursue your own interests and investigations outside of the scope of what you were employed to do?

Hell, at the end of this video, I'm still unclear what point is trying to be conveyed. Is it just "the racial balance of the employees that I saw exiting the building for two days didn't meet some proper balance I had in my head, so I decided to start doing a socio-economic documentary on my employer's dime and after everything went to shit, because of how I was conducting myself, I put together a ten minute video to explain myself to future employers"?

I saw a lot of smiling faces exiting the building and getting into nice cars. I don't see what the big deal is that people who are temporary or part of menial data-entry labor are not part of the greater events and benefits and festivities of the company. I'm sure it's that way at most companies. I'm on the development side of things and I don't get to go to the big sales-team getaways in Cancun or wherever else they go. And I doubt that the janitorial staff and security staff are sharing in the staff-bonus compensation that I am. And none of us are getting the several million dollar company loans to buy our mansion that CEOs have gotten.

Perhaps this will be an unpopular sentiment, but I just got a strong vibe of "this is my chance to be a documentary film-maker".

systems 4 days ago  replies      
Hey, first I am from Egypt.

Second, I have to admit, I am kind of struct by most of the comments here. Most of the comment are pro google and think andrew here got it for himself.

I believe this have to do a lot with cultural differences here. Most people in Egypt, would stand with the employee against the corporation. Most egyptians would definitely be pro andrew. I believe the reason here is that most Egyptians are either employees or owners of very small businesses, and would not perceive themselves as even potentially large business owners. Egypt being a poorer country and all. This is why most Egyptian would never try to put themselves in google's foot and try to see things from their perspective.

I guess the opposite is true from most of the ppl commenting here, they must think if I was google, I would have done the same, and it's probably because they don't see it as too far fetched. Either that or the western population is becomming alarmingly submissive to authority and unwilling to question their action.

Google are clearly being unfair, this should not be acceptable.

Uhhrrr 4 days ago 2 replies      
Note to young videographers: When a company asks whether you're working on an expose, the phrase "I'm interested in issues of class, race, and labor" will not defuse the situation.
geuis 4 days ago 1 reply      
What first-world, over privileged bullshit. (Paraphrasing) "The yellow badges don't get the same fancy meals, backpacks, get to ride the multi-colored bicycles, or listen to authors talking for an hour". What utter non-sense bullshit.

"Oh, its a good thing I got fired because I have to go back to grad school."

"I'm going to talk in a post-adolescent semi-deep but monotonous tone for 11 minutes to talk about how Racist Google Is".

I really want to buy this yuppie, preppie child a ticket to anywhere in America that isn't Google or Haaaaaarvard and let him see what its like to grow up on food stamps and welfare in the deep south, or better yet just drop him off anywhere that isn't a modern country.

latch 4 days ago 1 reply      
The divide between people from different backgrounds was really obvious to me once I moved to Asia. There's an extreme class system at play. There are certainly places with this is exploited, but this isn't always the case. Often times they are just paid less, have less benefits, and work harder (at least, physically)...but they are still free, treated well, and seem generally happy.

From the description given, there seems to be some parallels between yellow badges and what I've seen in Asia.

I'm not sure that this is a bad thing. We can't all be PhDs earning high 6 figure salaries. There is a need for mundane labor, requiring little education/creativity. Maybe it's weird because it's google, and the juxtaposition is great. But what's the difference between doing in in the Valley and outsourcing it to China/India? If Google did outsource these jobs, people would just be QQing about that instead.

As for the race angle, it's hardly Google's problem/responsibility. This is a fundamental cancer within the US that requires serious effort/rethinking required to even begin to address the situation.

guard-of-terra 4 days ago 1 reply      
I think that many commenters are missing the point.

The question isn't whether Google is goind anything strictly illegal.

The question is whether Google is doing something what would be considered shady by a big part of Google employees; If so, how would Google acknowlege the situation; And then, how would they live thru this, with Googlers knowing that their own standards are in a serious mismatch with the actual behavior of the business body, Google.

Public reaction is another interesting thing. People's passion or neglect isn't regulated by law; instead it's regulated by their own feeling of right and wrong. It may be both legal and a PR disaster at the same time.

Of course, it might turn out that people in general and Googlers dominantly don't see any problem and don't care. It doesn't seem to be this case yet.

quizbiz 4 days ago 6 replies      
Honestly, I'm not sure this is a big deal. They're hiring unskilled labor and giving them a role at an extraordinary company. A rational management team wanting to generate profits for risk taking investors and generate new growth, cuts costs by eliminating benefits when possible.

They could easily get this done in India or China. If they are really doing book scanning, I'm shocked this isn't being done in the far east. With that perspective, this isn't far from "don't be evil".

It's not the best practice in the world but this isn't exploitation.

Perhaps it should inspire some investigative journalism.
Perhaps Google could fund a program and give these data entry people the opportunity to innovate, rewarding them accordingly with a small scale founders' award?

Despite the assumed background of these employees, they're at Google inspiring their kids. With so few benefits outside of their salary, they can always work elsewhere. But why would they take fast food or something of the sort over this?

I imagine the cleaning crew that vacuum at Goldman Sachs at night get treated way worse.

qeorge 4 days ago 2 replies      
I've heard Google accused of having a "caste system" before, always because contractors aren't allowed X Google perk.

They may not realize that Google walks a fine line with the IRS here. Its cheaper to pay contractors (write off the fees vs. payroll tax, for instance), so many companies use contractors like employees. This is illegal, and if the IRS decides your contractor is really an employee, they will force you to pay taxes as such.

So Google must be careful to maintain a clear distinction between employees and contractors. I suspect the badges and tiered privileges are just that.

He did mention "red badge" contractors having more privilidges than "yellow badge." I can't speak to that, and perhaps Google does need to take a hard look at its hiring practices. But it seems more likely to me that the OP is encountering a feature of our tax system, not a deliberate attempt to underpay minorities.

tkahn6 4 days ago 3 replies      
This is literally one of the craziest things I have ever seen. Google is doing absolutely nothing wrong or unethical at all. The guy got fired because he started accusing Google of racism.

Wow. Just wow. The sense of entitlement and self-righteousness is just mind blowing.

worldvoyageur 4 days ago 3 replies      
Minor point of clarification, as the tone of many comments seems to presume that google fired the author of this blog. This could be, but seems unlikely based on the blog.

The author was not employed by Google, but by a contracting firm hired by Google. The author's actions spooked the owner of the contracting firm, who did not want to risk his relationship and business with Google.

The author even reports his direct phone conversation with the owner of the firm. "He told me the issue was very serious because it could jeopardize Transvideos contract with Google and potentially lead to 60 people losing their jobs."

That is, if Google ended their relationship with Transvideo, then the sixty people Transvideo hired to work the Google contract would lose their jobs.

Google security may or may not have asked the firm to fire the author. Most likely, however, I suspect the firm took the decision on its own as the simplest, cleanest and quickest way to end an issue before the lower level google security staff finished drafting a report that may have risked Transvideo's relationship with Google.

So, as the owner of the firm what would you do? The choices are:

a) support an employee who plans to quit in two months, but before he does wants to use his job to investigate "issues of class, race, and labor". The downside is that Google might decide to work with a different firm, thereby causing you to fire the 60 people you hired to support the contract and perhaps lose your entire business.

b) Terminate the employee to protect your business and the sixty people who work to support it.

Not a pleasant decision, to be sure, but the choice seems obvious even if Google says nothing.

ck2 4 days ago 0 replies      
Getting them to write out a confession letter is classic detective-from-tv stuff.

How naive are people not to realize you are being made to declare everything that will be used to terminate you (and in court)?

Yellow badge Google sounds very much like a microfilm company I did computer work for.

yesbabyyes 4 days ago 1 reply      
It sounds curious that people with a yellow badge are forbidden to speak to people with badges of another color.

If that's true, Google has some explaining to do, methinks.

yanw 4 days ago 1 reply      
There is a huuuuuuuuuuugly important distinction that has to be made here:

The “Book Scanners” are NOT Google employees!!!!!

They are the workers of a company that was hired by Google to do this monotonous physical labor, you know CONTRACT WORKERS!

That's why they don't get any rocket-ships made of chocolate Lego bricks or whatever perks Google employees get.

As for security getting involved that is procedure!! and exactly what happens when you go snooping around on company grounds.

This this whole post is nothing but sensationalist rambling and delusional nonsense.

g123g 4 days ago 0 replies      
Lots of people are commenting that maybe the yellow badges might be working on something secretive that Google does not want them to share with others. But this does not make sense for 2 reasons -
1) I am pretty sure there will be some software engineers in Google who are currently working on something secretive but they will not be under these draconian restrictions of not to talk to others or call the security immediately if a fellow Googler approaches them.

2) These ppl can go home and can talk to their spouses, their friends etc. and let them know what they are working on. So making sure that they don't talk to anyone in Google during their office hours is not going to help keep their projects secretive.

So there has to be some other angle to this story which does not involve secretiveness of their projects.

patrickgzill 4 days ago 1 reply      
Aren't a lot of Microsoft'ies also contractors? If you are a contractor and rock the boat, you get fired; that is pretty much the way it is.
motters 4 days ago 2 replies      
I think someone from Google needs to explain what went on here. Why is what's going on in the 3.14159 building regarded as top secret? If they're just OCRing documents surely that's no big deal. People shouldn't be fired simply because they're interested in sociology.
DanielN 4 days ago 1 reply      
I'm sorry guys I must be missing something here. I figure that this video and transcript must have some deeper meaning than what I'm grokking from it as it is currently the top story with a whopping ~500 points.

To my knowledge, cultural hierarchy is very standard within pretty much all companies regardless of size. Not everyone gets a company car, their own office, the same health benefits, or if you are privileged enough to work at a company that provides them, the same gourmet lunch as has been stated elsewhere in these comments. Furthermore, the existence of sub-hierarchy (contract and temporary) workers is very common in larger companies. To my understanding, these temp and contract workers usually enjoy few if any benefits provided by the company as they are rarely actually employed by the company they are working for but rather an agency.

In addition to this, it is pretty standard procedure to ban all unauthorized taping on company campuses. If anything, to my uninformed mind the fact that an employee got as far as actually taking unauthorized video footage is if anything a credit to Google's openness (or whatever you want to call it).

So, I guess my question is: Where is the interesting aspect of this? Is the popularity of this really just due to the "divulging" that Google employs workers that aren't provided the same benefits as some of its other workers? Is it the existence of a "class system" in Google to show worker's authority/hierarchy level? If it is one of these reasons, there must be something else I'm missing as without having seen this story I would have just assumed that these things existed at Google.

I ask this as a sincere question as obviously this has gained the attention of a large portion of this community which I hold as very intelligent. I am driven to assume that whatever it is that is engaging about this story is simply going over my head.

scotty79 4 days ago 1 reply      
It's a funny thing when secret rules you have never agreed to and are not the part of the law get you fired despite you complete honesty and openness.

It has very totalitaristic look&feel when you have to be careful all the time so you always obey unknown rules, breaking of which might lead to severe consequences.

geoffw8 4 days ago 2 replies      
Am I the only guy who thinks the guy (Andrew?) was way out of line here. You put yourself in the firing line for absolutely no reason relevant to you.
blackRust 4 days ago 3 replies      
A lot of the discussion here is around what I would like the call the US/EU (not restricted to the EU but that is what I am more familiar with) divide in work ethics and what is expected from you.

In the US (apparently from comments) they can terminate your contract for (almost) any reason.
In the EU (and apparently Australia) they have to build a stronger case for firing you.

Differences are also clear regarding overtime: usually paid in the EU and expected and unpaid in the US.

There is a more than we realise that separates us (EU) from the US and if this happened in the EU I (hope) people would be in support of Andrew. I don't know enough about the US to say whether or not this is acceptable behaviour from Google.

I would appreciate if you mention where you live/are from in your comments to enhance perspective to the discussion.

n_are_q 4 days ago 1 reply      
So if he handed off all the copies of the video he had to google, where did the video in the post come from? Is it a totally different video?
g123g 4 days ago 0 replies      
Wow. This sounds like some kind of sweatshop operating within the Google campus and they are afraid of this getting exposed. Still not able to reconcile the public image of Google and what is described in this post.
learc83 4 days ago 0 replies      
It seems pretty obvious to me that the reason the yellow badge worker's aren't given those benefits is to keep them separate from the rest of the work force for security reasons (to keep them from talking about their work)

They allow janitors and food service workers access to these perks, it seems kind of weirdly targeted if they are just doing it to save money.

They're probably doing work that is so confidential that google doesn't want to give them the chance to socialize with other workers.

g123g 4 days ago 0 replies      
I agree that Google is within its right to deny them lunch, shuttle services or whatever fancy perks they dish out to their regular employees. But what I can't understand is the discrimination that Google is perpetrating against them by denying them the basic human privilege of talking to another human being.

As employees Vic Gundotra or Marissa Mayer will be knowing more company secrets than these guys will know in their lifetime. Do they also have a phone number on the back of their badge to call if somebody unknown approaches them? Are they also prevented from talking to other employees so that they don't leak those secrets? Why is Google afraid that only the yellow badges cannot keep the company secrets? What if their supervisor simply tells them that what they are working on is a company secret. Like almost any other employees why Google thinks they can' keep it a secret? Why do they have to impose this almost draconian measure of human segregation only for them?

ajays 4 days ago 0 replies      
Meh, too much back-and-forth for me to jump in.

There may be a perfectly good reason for Google to exclude contractors from the "Googly perks": the Microsoft lawsuit.

If Google treats the contractors just like its employees, then the contractors can turn around and sue Google. Google needs to maintain a distinction between contractors and FTEs. Recall the Microsoft lawsuit filed by contractors: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Permatemp

rmrm 4 days ago 1 reply      
Seems to me there are two issues:

1.) Yellow badge worker treatment -- most of the comments here seem to accept his description of their work life (right or wrong) as fact, it is unsubstantiated to me. I see a video of people getting in their cars and going home, that is all. Considering he claims to have never spoken to any of them, except for a brief encounter before security grabbed him, it would seem even he is admitting he does not have first hand knowledge of anything he said. It is an entirely less than complete view (and possibly incorrect description) to which to draw any conclusion.

For that reason most of the discussion seems premature to me. With that said, no luxury transport, no free meals, etc -- does in fact describe the working conditions of 99.9% of Americans. A company treating people normally is not substantially interesting, tho apparently juxtaposition makes it so -- because what is interesting, and has always been interesting about Google, is that they treat their employees extraordinarily well.

2.) Was Google "right" for wanting him off the campus? Sure -- they contracted with his employer to provide some service, not to film an expose about Google itself,made possible only by being on the Google campus with unfettered access to the grounds. I realize he says he did not film it with the idea it would be an expose, but film is shot to be shown, and in his letter he makes it fairly clear what his interest was in filming, the assumptions and/or understanding he had while filming -- which gives a fairly clear picture of why he was filming. And it resulted in just about the kind of film you would expect. That isn't what he was there for. There is nothing that even remotely rises to a whistleblower type defense, as there is nothing remotely illegal about what he claims to be the yellow badge worker treatment. If he had in fact been filming something illegal (or at least in some way out of the norm in a negative fashion, even), my opinion would be more substantially in his favor -- in relation to how egregious the treatment actually was.

EToS 4 days ago 0 replies      
Security in large corporations are often very tight fisted.. If you forget your access card where i work, even if the security personnel know you, they have to walk you up to your desk like a lost child! until some manager 'claims' you

In this particular case i feel for this guy, but all security are going to see is a temp contractor who's making videos of google employees, and asking strange questions to interview them.. Their probably thinking either an undercover journalist (very likely at a company like google) or somebody who's just acting weird and would need future monitoring.. neither of which are really desirable!

not to mention during lunch breaks any normal employee would have one thing on their mind.. stuffing their face!

pnathan 4 days ago 0 replies      
Well. Either Andrew was not sufficiently informed of security policies or Google overreacted. IMO.

I would presume training for on-site contractors includes the security policies about job knowledge and ability to talk about it. Likely a handbook or something...

Or, if Andrew was within limits of the policy, Google overreacted.

At any rate, certainly if someone I didn't know came up and wanted to ask me questions about my job (which by the way would be company confidential), I'd be suspicious; I'd likely call security, depending on if I'd seen him around before or not.

I appreciate that it is interesting about the socio-economic divide. I would want to ask questions too, but, uh, I'd like try not to be utterly oblivious to the obvious security concerns.

namank 4 days ago 0 replies      
Theres probably more to it than just that. Given Google's history, I have to account for other factors - maybe these are temporary employees being hired to a special program (as in a remedial or 'second chance' program).

Or maybe this is Google's new way of boosting revenue!

Lets not jump to conclusions, this will definitely get picked by major news outlets and then Google will have to respond

anatoli 4 days ago 0 replies      
A lot of people posting about how this is a 'blog' or 'complaint' or whatever seem to be completely missing the fact that this is an artist's portfolio and an actual art piece that has been previously exhibited.

It's clearly meant to generate discussion regarding racial and human rights issues, as well as the clash of public/private space. I do not see a single hint that the artist is in any way unhappy or resentful, but IMO is rather opening up an issue for discussion. (See his CV: http://www.andrewnormanwilson.com/resume)

I'm shocked at all the angry responses.

jarin 4 days ago 0 replies      
As a minority myself, I think it's unfortunate that the proportion of people of color is apparently unbalanced between the "yellow badges" and the "red and white badges".

However, I think this reflects more on the disparity in Ivy League schools (which Google prefers to hire its full-time workers from) and the computer science/manual labor fields in general than any inherent racial bias within Google itself.

CapitalistCartr 4 days ago 1 reply      
If I call a plumber, I want my plumbing fixed. I don't care about the plumber's work benefits, problems, or anything else about his personal life; I want my plumbing fixed; that's why I called a plumber. I don't have plumbing problems enough to hire one personally; that's why plumbing contractors exist.
dataminer 4 days ago 0 replies      
I have worked in two different kind of companies during summers while I was in highschool, a Japanese auto parts manufacturing company had a very interesting structure, from the President to the temp assembly line associate, all wore white uniforms when they arrived at work. Management offices were in middle of the factory floor completely accessible to any employee. Everyone sat in same cafeterias and enjoyed similar company perks. There was absolutely no segregation and the flow of ideas were amazing, problems got reported and were acted upon fast, it was very agile company. I really enjoyed working there and so did other employees.

The other company (auto parts manufacturer as well) had similar badge system as discussed in the article, employees with lowest ranking badge were considered the "lowest class", no one except their immediate supervisor talked to them and listened to them. This segregation meant they had no incentive to work intelligently or report problems. All they wanted to do was to do their jobs and get the hell out.

It was quite educating to work under the two contrasting management structure. The first one was a breath of fresh air and the second was very suffocating.

lubos 4 days ago 1 reply      
this made me sad. anyone still got illusion that google left china because of human rights?
nutjob123 4 days ago 0 replies      
This story is clearly one sided and the facts are not fully represented. It is possible that Google managers were very protective over information about people hired as contractors. This is a tax issue, Google must show that these contract workers are not "de-facto" employees. Looking at who sets working hours is part of a logical test used in some cases. Maybe they were scared of setting off red flags at the IRS. See the microsoft and fedex cases to learn more about this issue.


(EDIT) they also likely canned the guy for being an idiot and causing trouble

yarian 1 day ago 0 replies      
There's been a lot of comments saying something to the effect of "this guy does not understand the difference between full-time employees and contractors" or "people doing manual work should be paid less than employees."

Yet the author mentions:

"I found this social arrangement interesting, and ... decided to investigate the rationale behind Google's decision to exclude the yellow badge class from most privileges the company has to offer, despite the fact that their labor ...[is] being contracted to Google by another company just like ... other informational laborers, the kitchen staff, the shuttle drivers, the custodians, and more."

It seems like what piqued his interest was that there seemed to be a disparity between the benefits of this particular group of workers and other normally considered low-skill work like the others he mentions.

sundae79 4 days ago 0 replies      
Thankfully the fortune 500 company that I work for in Bay Area doesn't have color coded employees. I heard Yahoo does the color coded employees and actively discriminate as well.
Aloisius 4 days ago 0 replies      
I wonder why it is confidential. The only reason I can come up with is they don't want any more copyright infringement lawsuits and they're scanning Disney books...
amadvance 4 days ago 0 replies      
Does Google know that pi is 3.14159~ and not 3.1459~ ?
looper888 4 days ago 0 replies      
this is the most interesting read I've found on HN in a long time. Thank you for publishing it.
asadotzler 4 days ago 0 replies      
What bothers me most about this is that these workers have a shift that essentially makes them invisible to the rest of Google employees. They come in many hours before the bulk of Googlers and they leave at a time when there is the least foot traffic on the campus.

There's a clear intention to keep this group segregated and hidden from the rest of Google and that's a bit disturbing.

mateuszb 4 days ago 0 replies      
mind blown. where's the don't be evil thing ?
dr_ 4 days ago 0 replies      
On a side note, coming to read this now with over 350 comments, without the rating system I can't make heads or tails of which ones are or are not worth reading.
powertower 4 days ago 0 replies      
High Definition video link:
mail2345 4 days ago 0 replies      
I'm pretty sure most companies reduce benefits for less skilled workers, just not as clear cut as this.

I wonder what's with the confidentiality at book search. The first two things that pop to mind is keeping the yellow badges secret and preventing their enemies from messing around(publishers are pretty mad at the whole book scanning thing).

scarmig 4 days ago 0 replies      
As far as sociology or expose goes, the article is uninteresting. What, a giant corporation uses every legal means at its disposal to make sure it gets only good PR? What, there exist serious race and class disparities in the United States that manifest themselves in the workplace? What, Google has a good PR department that doesn't reflect actual internal practices? Quelle horreur!

What's more interesting from a sociological perspective is the range of most of the reactions here on Hacker News, which seem to vary between "he doesn't understand that this is just how things work" to brick shitting freak out ("passive aggressive", "nitwit", "see a psychologist").

If you find yourself immediately jumping into defense mechanisms, stop for a second and think about why that is.

bugsy 4 days ago 1 reply      
Wow, so these yellow badges are sort of the plantation slave labor then?

Amazing to hear that Google has a strict caste system.

edit: wow, at 1:05PST dozens of people suddenly hit this thread and started attacking the premise.

matheusalmeida 4 days ago 0 replies      
I'm scared! Am I the only one that sees no big deal about scanning books? What is so secretive about it? I think they are doing an amazing job and I'd love to know how many books they can scan every day, etc...

The second thing is that I don't understand why are you calling him racist. I believe that things in the USA are quite different from I'm used to.. You can get sued for anything. I heard that an employer can get sued for asking things like age, sex, height, color during an interview for a job.

sudhirj 4 days ago 0 replies      
Why is it such a surprise that different kinds of employees are treated differently and receive different perks? If I went to any factory in the US I wouldn't expect to see the janitors being picked up and dropped in limousines, or the housekeeping staff joining in on the company vacations. This isn't exactly the same thing, but it's like complaining that construction workers don't get paid as much as architects and investors.
grandalf 4 days ago 0 replies      
Let's not forget that Google's innovation in search has had (and will continue to have) the most profound impact on the world's poorest people... the people for whom information is least accessible via other means.
Xyic 4 days ago 0 replies      
We do not know the conditions in the building. They probably have their own cafe there. Perhaps someone should investigate if they ever need to leave for lunch :)
lennexz 4 days ago 1 reply      
I dont think he should have got fired, whats so secret about bookscanning?? Google feels it now has too much power and can walk over anyone.
StuffMaster 4 days ago 0 replies      
Page too wide, and paragraphs fixed at 134 columns...not good design.
ditojim 4 days ago 0 replies      
he was there to cause trouble and google got rid of him. smart.
avstraliitski 4 days ago 0 replies      
Two words: fuck bureaucracy.

This is why I'll never work for a large company.

sscheper 4 days ago 0 replies      
Wishes the voiceover was by Morgan Freeman.
latch 4 days ago 0 replies      
exploit? i'm sorry...not having access to free meals, shuttle buses, smartphones, etc isn't exploitation. There's nothing in this that says anything close to exploitation.
garrettgillas 4 days ago 1 reply      
This sounds an awful lot like the movie 'The Antitrust'.
guard-of-terra 4 days ago 2 replies      
"the first girl I had spoken to had followed the instructions on the back of her yellow badge " which is to call a certain manager if anyone asks about the work of the yellow badge class"

This scarely reminds of "Jedem das Seine" and "Arbeit macht frei"

Both phrases actually match the described situation perfectly

Guy unknowingly live tweets the Osama raid in Abbottabad tweetlibrary.com
628 points by Osiris  2 days ago   101 comments top 21
zeteo 2 days ago 2 replies      
The Google Maps location that is ventured around (starting with Telegraph: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/pakistan/8487... ) is not the actual location of the compound.

There are aerial photos of the compound in the briefing obtained by ABC news:


Based on these photos and looking around the area, I've found the actual location of the compound, which exactly matches the photos from the briefing:


It's still in the area, but a bit further from the Pakistan Military Academy and in the SW direction from it (not NW, as the Telegraph map claims).

coderdude 2 days ago 5 replies      
So the article about Osama Bin Laden being killed -- which has nearly 800 up-votes -- is being flagged off the front page, but the article about a guy who tweets about him being killed is having no problem staying #1.

Then again, so many people had their comments down-voted into light gray in the original Osama article that I wouldn't be surprised if the majority of flaggings came from people that wanted to stem their own decline in karma. That would make for an interesting dataset.

JacobAldridge 2 days ago 2 replies      
The revolution will not be televised. Live, inadvertant, real-time Tweeting on the other hand...

For all the discussion of business cases for technology like Twitter, let's spare a moment to reflect on how impressive it is in and of itself for this sort of event.

jessedhillon 2 days ago 3 replies      
Here is his compound on Google Maps:


BONUS: Click "Search Nearby" and enter "PMA Kakul" -- you will see that the Pakistan Military Academy was just a short trip up the road from his house!

PMA on Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pakistan_Military_Academy

brm 2 days ago 1 reply      
I'm probably going to be downvoted for this but... Increasing the speed at which our news is delivered is not even necessarily a good thing. Please wake me when someone invents something that makes it more accurate and unbiased.
sharjeel 2 days ago 0 replies      
He's a friend of mine and he's also into CS. Sometime back he tried startup stuff but now he is into consultanct.

I've been doing a startup for years and I never made it to front page of HackerNews, TechCrunch, NY Observer and many other hot places at the same time.

I've advised him to launch a product ASAP. Its gonna be hot and I'm definitely gonna invest :P

ck2 2 days ago 4 replies      
credit for the leak went to Keith Urbahn, the chief of staff for Donald Rumsfeld

How is this not "state secrets" ?

If they do not prosecute him for the leak, it's a double-standard.

nametoremember 2 days ago 2 replies      
Does anyone else think this is not important?

The guy unknowingly tweeted but without an official release we wouldn't have known it was Bin Laden so it wouldn't have become that important.

MaysonL 2 days ago 0 replies      
Interesting eye-witness account on Al-Jazeera:
joeguilmette 2 days ago 3 replies      
A lot of outlets are calling this Twitter's CNN moment. It'll be interesting to see if Twitter has the legs to maintain this crowd sourced news momentum that it has been building.
ghiculescu 2 days ago 1 reply      

Poor guy. I feel sorry for him, the sudden fame must be an unpleasant shock.

shareme 2 days ago 0 replies      
ahem folks raid happened at least 7 days ago..its fake
matthewcieplak 2 days ago 0 replies      
Wow, they couldn't have found a more gracious accidental celebrity.
napierzaza 2 days ago 0 replies      
This is of course how non-tech things can leak in HN. The tertiary technical angle. Are we amazed that people in Pakistan have Twitter?
keeptrying 2 days ago 1 reply      
I wonder when photographic proof will be available?
Aqwis 2 days ago 2 replies      
Are we sure that this is genuinely the Osama raid? I've read reports that Osama was in fact killed days ago. If he was in fact killed yesterday, have they really already buried his body at sea?
vl 1 day ago 0 replies      
I fail to see how this is newsworthy. Why bunch of mainstream media broadcasted this story, why is it on HN?
There is just no news in this story, guy saw a helicopter and tweeted, that's it.
templaedhel 2 days ago 1 reply      
I was under the understanding from the briefings that he was killed via action on the ground by US soldiers, with intelligence from drones. This does not corroralate with that account, it makes it seem like there was an airstrike from a drone. How do these fit together in the timeline of the raid?
Maro 2 days ago 2 replies      
So, was the heli shot down in the OBL assassination operation? Does that mean that this was not a secret/covert operation?
nitro9590 2 days ago 2 replies      
the irony is that he has been buried without any autopsy/DNA test in sea.and moreover, there is no sea around Abbottabad and in Afghanistan either maybe they took him to Karachi or somewhere and As a pakistani and Muslim i want to clear that we have no tradition to bury a body in sea.
harryf 2 days ago 0 replies      
Wag the Dog anyone?
YouTube Founders Acquire Delicious From Yahoo avos.com
565 points by ChrisArchitect  7 days ago   118 comments top 41
mixmax 7 days ago 6 replies      
around 14 days ago I updated my browser to firefox 4, and all my delicious bookmarks that were in tag clouds on my deliciousbar disappeared - silently deleted. They weren't to be found anywhere, not in my tagcloud, not in my history not on delicious site. I e-mailed them but didn't get a reply, and now it seems I've lost years worth of bookmarks that were important to me.

I'll never use delicious again.

codeup 7 days ago  replies      
Please don't get me wrong, but I never understood what "social" bookmarking is useful for. As long as my supposed ignorance persists, I'm sorry to crash the party with a simple question: why is Delicious relevant?

Assuming many or most here think it is relevant, it should be possible to respond to my question reasonably, without buzzwords and with only moderate downvoting.

Timothee 7 days ago 4 replies      
"AVOS is a new Internet company, led by the founders of YouTube, Chad Hurley and Steve Chen. AVOS is located in San Mateo, California"

I'm surprised I hadn't heard of that company before. I thought these two were still working at YouTube. Are they?

"YouTube (…) which was acquired by Google 18 months later for $1.76B"

I was surprised of seeing that as well, since the price I have seen everywhere else was $1.65B. I guess they know that better than anyone else but why the difference?

neilk 7 days ago 0 replies      
Does anybody know if any Yahoo employees are going to AVOS at the same time? (Also, are there even any employees with full-time responsibilities on Delicious?) Is AVOS going to try to re-hire some of the old Del.icio.us team?

This is good news but I am thinking that things at Delicious might be a bit rocky as new admins adjust. If you're a happy Pinboard.IN user, or use some other service, it's not necessarily a reason to switch today.

joeyh 7 days ago 0 replies      
Probably a lot of historical users will never tick the box to allow their data to be transferred, and that data will fall off the web, or at best be archived. That would happen even if there was not a time limit for users to take action; June is likely the time limit. There has already been some work on scraping an archive of Delicious and that is going to pick up steam.

On the one hand, they seem to be doing things right with giving users control over their data, and complying with their ToS. Pity this means the data that got siloed away will be lost. Even when everyone does everything right, data silos are not good in the long term.

micheljansen 7 days ago 2 replies      
I just discovered this when I tried to bookmark something on Delicious. I am positively surprised that they actually asked me if I wanted to give my personal information to Avos. This is the way it should be.

One critical note though, I went to http://blog.delicious.com/ expecting to read about this, but there is nothing about the acquisition there. If this does not warrant a blog post, what is a blog for?

maguay 7 days ago 1 reply      
I've switched to Pinboard.in, and couldn't be happier. Still, great news for Delicious users!
necubi 7 days ago 0 replies      
The URL leads to a 404, but the press release is at just http://avos.com
bambax 7 days ago 1 reply      
When the info leaked that Yahoo was thinking about dumping Delicious, I wrote a Chrome Webapp that lets one scrape bookmarks from Delicious, corresponding to lists of tags (any bookmark, not just your own).

It's still out there (and still works): https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/nbahmnpelbdcmkpllm...

mckoss 7 days ago 1 reply      
(I've been running social bookmarking site, Faves.com, since 2005).

I still think there is a largely unmet need that fits into the "Social Bookmarking" niche. But I don't think "Social" is the best way to think about it.

As an avid user (of Faves.com, in my case) - I use it for (in order of importance):

    1. Pack Rat - I don't ever want to loose a link I
found interesting enough to want to recall later.
2. Personal Search - I need a great search interface
to quickly find anything I've saved (search across
tags, and comment text).

The unmet need - NOT "Social" in the sense that I want to share links with my "friends" - but, rather, topic-based "Communities". Help me interact with people who share the same interests. This is more in the vein of Hacker News or Reddit. But I don't have any one service (Faves, included) that do this "right" yet.

I think I want a well integrated system that spans:

    - Personal Bookmarking
- Personal Knowledge Base w/ Search
- Topic Forums
- Commenting system
- Micro-blogging/publishing

joshu 7 days ago 1 reply      
jasonmcalacanis 7 days ago 2 replies      
Tbey are building a search engine. This is data source of human proportions.
djjose 7 days ago 0 replies      
Just filled out the opt-in form (https://secure.delicious.com/settings/optin). Can't wait to see what they do with it. Note to the new owners: if you charge, I'll gladly pay.
greut 7 days ago 1 reply      
Is Delicious in good hands? There is no place like localhost: http://i.imgur.com/KGVzN.png funny
noahlt 7 days ago 0 replies      
Apparently nobody reads the TOS, because clicking the TOS link leads to the press release.
morganpyne 7 days ago 0 replies      
Has anybody reviewed the terms & conditions, privacy policies etc. Is there anything in them to make me concerned that Avos will do anything with my data that I won't like above and beyond what the existing Delicious T&C were?

I presume these guys have taken over Delicious because they see it as a good business opportunity and I'd like to know that their opportunity isn't going to be at my expense.

myearwood 7 days ago 0 replies      
The big question is ... How much did Yahoo get for the company ?
joel_liu 7 days ago 0 replies      
How much did they pay for delicious?
teoruiz 7 days ago 0 replies      
Somebody installs wp-super-cache[0] in that poor dying Wordpress blog.

Glad to see delicious itself not dying.

[0] http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/wp-super-cache/

trustfundbaby 7 days ago 0 replies      
I wonder if they're hiring ... I would love to work on delicious, was about 6 months out from writing a bookmarking service for myself.
kjbekkelund 7 days ago 0 replies      
I went from being an avid Delicious user to using Pinboard instead. I'm really looking forward to seeing what happens now, and hopefully there are so cool stuff coming that I'll go back to being a fanboy again. This is (hopefully) amazing news!
theklub 6 days ago 0 replies      
I just used delicious last night for the first time in years and through weird linkage discovered angry video game nerd which I find to be one of the best web shows ever.
tuhin 6 days ago 0 replies      
In case you are still looking for the other setups, do give http://Pinboard.com a spin. One time pay, but very nice.
msort 6 days ago 0 replies      
Good example to show every area of Internet needs innovation.

Bookmarking is as old as the first web browser. It's great that a great team is trying to save communities and innovate in this area.

cygwin98 7 days ago 0 replies      
That's GREAT news. Delicious is one of the web apps I can't live without. Hope the new company can update the firefox plugin such that I can upgrade to Firefox 4.
neovive 7 days ago 1 reply      
Great News!!! As a long-time Delicious user, I'm glad to see that it will continue on. I'm looking forward to any enhancements, but hoping the core of the service does not change too much.
lizzard 7 days ago 0 replies      
I use it along with a team of people who tag stuff according to a particular taxonomy. My scripts pull a bunch of those tags out through the api and cache them on a local server where we can do whatever we like with them to show them to readers. It's a really good way to do collaborative editing or curating of new content. Anyway, I'm glad that it will be sticking around!
apas 7 days ago 1 reply      
I'm all in for Delicious. I love it and support and want to see it alive and not rotting in Yahoo.

One thing I didn't understand though, is Joshua Schachter's reaction to the news by tweeting: "inbox asplode!" (https://twitter.com/joshu/status/63294731077160960)

Can someone explain?

RShackleford 6 days ago 0 replies      
The following concerns me, from the privacy policy: "AVOS may sell, transfer or otherwise share some or all of its assets, including your Personal Information, in connection with a merger, acquisition, reorganization or sale of assets or in the event of bankruptcy."
AwfulWaffle 5 days ago 0 replies      
I used delicious years ago, but only for the bookmark syncing. I switched to foxmarks when it started, then eventually the built in sync of firefox and chrome. Never cared about the social aspect of it all.
ChrisArchitect 7 days ago 0 replies      
hmph, this one caught me by surprise..... more infos: http://www.delicious.com/help/transition
joel_liu 7 days ago 0 replies      
Good for all delicious users.It's time to innovate the social bookmark again.
yr 7 days ago 0 replies      
Does anyone know what their motivation of buying it ? I'm pretty sure they could write this in a weekend in python.
nivertech 7 days ago 0 replies      
just transfered my delicious a/c to AVOS
Marwy 6 days ago 0 replies      
For notes and bookmarks I'm using thinkery.me, is there any reason why I should invest my time into Delicious?
jonthn 5 days ago 0 replies      
I can finally delete my yahoo account.
kaiwen1 7 days ago 0 replies      
How much did they pay?
wonjun 7 days ago 0 replies      
is Google buying Delicious next?
dangerdiabolick 6 days ago 0 replies      
BillSaysThis 7 days ago 1 reply      
Not sure that I'm as excited as I could be since they didn't set up their webserver (avos.com) to handle the traffic this announcement was sure to generate.

"Error establishing a database connection" is not your friend.

Ubuntu 11.04 (Natty Narwhal) ubuntu.com
430 points by SandB0x  6 days ago   211 comments top 40
fingerprinter 6 days ago 8 replies      
I've had it installed on my main machine since late December. There were some rough patches as things were landing during the beta period, but right now this is easily the best desktop I've ever used.

My workflow adapted to some of the additions in Unity so quickly that it was absurd. At this point I could never go back to something without Super+#, Super+w, Super+s and the other keybindings found here: http://askubuntu.com/questions/28086/unity-keyboard-mouse-sh...

Just be sure to install compizconfigSettingsManager from the software center and you can tweak Unity to some degree.

Just an FYI, what I tend to dev on is Ruby/Rails, Python, Javascript (Node/etc), some Erlang (not as much anymore) and Android dev. This system is so freakin' fantastic for all of those...really quite happy.

Garbage 6 days ago 2 replies      
A short list of whats new in Ubuntu 11.04 - http://www.ubuntu.com/ubuntu/whats-new

And features - http://www.ubuntu.com/ubuntu/features

scrrr 6 days ago 3 replies      
This is exactly the right direction for Ubuntu. I'm installing this remotely on my dad's computer as I type this.

The shortcut keys (using the Windows-button) are very useful and the dock-like launcher is a good replacement for the old task-bar.

It might take a couple more years but somehow I have the feeling that Ubuntu might be heading for the mainstream. Rightfully so.

chao- 6 days ago 1 reply      
When last I used the Unity shell, it was clearly not ready for prime time. I'll spend some time later today, cross my fingers, and discover if that has changed or not. There's much more in a new release than just that, but the supposedly-cleaned up Unity will probably get most of the press.

Some concerns aside, I respect a lot of the chutzpah that Canonical is showing: Unity, Wayland, trying to force KDE/GNOME to work together on a notification API. They want to see the Linux desktop improve, and even if people fight against them and they lose, to me it feels better than the inertia of the status quo. Stasis gets no one anywhere.

JonnieCache 6 days ago 3 replies      
I'd like to point out that this is a good time to really test your connection. I've never downloaded anything faster than a torrent of a fresh ubuntu release.
lwhi 6 days ago 9 replies      
As I use my Ubuntu desktop to actually get work done, I'm quite terrified about installing this release.

I'm not sure I'll upgrade for a while yet, I want to find out what the general consensus is first.

unwind 6 days ago 4 replies      
Of course, this is the release that changes the desktop interface around quite a lot. I'm a bit hesitant, although this answer in the FAQ was soothing:

No problem at all. You can choose to launch the classic desktop experience when you log in to your computer.

Not sure if this really means that the choice has to be re-made on every login, or if is remembered. Anyone?

selectnull 6 days ago 0 replies      
Since I've been using Ubuntu (year and a half now), upgrade was always easy, and always resulted in a month of little annoyances afterwards. But I look forward to it nonetheless.

Upgrading now and feel like a kid on a christmas morning :)

larrik 6 days ago 0 replies      
Serious question: Do any of you use Avant Window Navigator? How does Unity compare with it?
2mur 6 days ago 13 replies      
I'm not going back to linux on the desktop until it can sleep my laptop reliably. OSX is so nice for that. Just close the lid and go... I can't imagine working any other way now.
lhnn 6 days ago 0 replies      
I've had it for a little bit, but I went back to Ubuntu Classic when I saw I couldn't add a "Show Desktop" to the panel... Between gnome-do and the window snapping feature a-la Windows 7, "Ubuntu Classic" works well for me.

Besides, I'm experimenting with moving all my servers to Debian Stable. It's interesting how much Ubuntu does for you automatically...

krat0sprakhar 6 days ago 8 replies      
Ok... this seems pretty much out of place but I dont suppose I can get a better answer anywhere else, so here it goes.

I'm a student in India and in a dilemma about buying a Mac or buying a windows machine (dual booting with Ubuntu 11.04 ). At about 3/4th the price of a Mac I can purchase a more powerful windows laptop and boot up Ubuntu ( and thus avoid windows altogether ).

I need a workstation for Ruby on Rails/ Node development. Since my parents will be the one paying, I want to be sure if Mac is worth it. I've never worked on a Mac before but since I've read that most startups that are hiring offer Mac to developers, I'm guessing owning a Mac would really make development more enjoyable. Would love to hear your guys' thoughts on this.

Thanks a lot.

urza 6 days ago 0 replies      
Are there any up-to-date statistics how many people uses ubuntu? Ideally also compared to other linux distributions, windows, osx.. Google gives me only few years old numbers or estimates, I guess its not easy to do these kind of stats?
mjs 6 days ago 4 replies      
I find the description of which image to choose confusing. You need the a 64-bit image to handle processes over 4GB, right? Why is the x86 version recommended for "most machines with Intel/AMD/etc type processors and almost all computers that run Microsoft Windows." (That's from the server description, too.)
mmaunder 6 days ago 0 replies      
Why is it so hard to find a changelog for the server edition of 11.04?
enterneo 6 days ago 2 replies      
aargh! I just installed it in Vmware Fusion on Snow Leopard only to realize it does not support OpenGL for Linux OS. Ubuntu went into a fallback mode and disabled Unity. Seems like I need to switch to a different Virtual Machine Software, any suggestions?
BasDirks 6 days ago 0 replies      
Both the launcher and the dash are awesome. Takes very little time to get used to.
meric 6 days ago 5 replies      
Ubuntu's website shows of its Dash "Spotlight", Launcher "Dock", Status Icons "Menu bar with status", Workspace "Spaces", Ubuntu Store "Mac App Store".

It's almost like they're trying to directly compete with Mac OS X, with "killer features" that match exactly with what apple regularly shows off with Mac OS X.

bergie 6 days ago 1 reply      
I've been running this on my MacBook Air for a couple of weeks now. Some rough edges, especially with GNOME3 from a PPA.
ra 6 days ago 1 reply      
I got nervous with Ubuntu releases when 9.10 came out, and it was really buggy; definitely shouldn't have been released in that state.

This time round I upgraded a couple of nights ago from the repos, and I'm pleased to say there have been no dramas.

cgoddard 6 days ago 0 replies      
Been using Unity and natty for a few weeks now. The only feature I really miss from the gnome interface right now is the ability to add / move / remove toolbar widgets. Has anyone figured out if it's possible / how to do this in Unity?

Overall I feel a lot more productive with Unity. The numerous super- functions are really helpful and nifty. I especially like the super- 1-9 for positioning/resizing windows on the current monitor.

buster 6 days ago 0 replies      
Just in time for my new laptop, perfect.
I am eager to see the Unity interface! :)
jhawk28 6 days ago 1 reply      
Updated our server. Only issue was that I needed to reinstall Mercurial.
zenocon 6 days ago 1 reply      
i'm shopping for a new laptop to put this on. i'm looking for something maybe like the samsung series 9. ideally, i'd like it to be as slim as that, but have a 15" screen. anyway, looking for laptop HW recommendations from others here. i've run ubuntu on a number of thinkpads before, but i want to buy a new laptop to replace my MBP.
hartror 5 days ago 0 replies      
12 hours later I think I have everything working as I intend . . though my productivity is still taking a hit trying to find various things.
SergeyHack 2 days ago 0 replies      
I'm so regretting upgrading to 11.04.

There are a lot of small but annoying bugs. It has just lost my custom keyboard shortcuts.

It installs privacy-questionable program and don't give any warning about that (zeitgeist package).

taken11 6 days ago 0 replies      
upgrade failed, unity/compiz does not work with my graphic card. none of that detected, worst ubuntu upgrade so far.
stuartcw 3 days ago 0 replies      
I have upgraded and a all of the CPU hogging problems I have been suffering recently have gone away. I am very happy with the upgrade so far.
Symmetry 6 days ago 0 replies      
I was very impressed by Unity, I'd been using a tiling window manager for a while but after rebinding some miscellaneous shortcuts to Super+(right hand key) I'm totally happy with it.
paulkoer 4 days ago 0 replies      
WARNING: Installing Natty may brick your Macbook Pro


I really love ubuntu, but if you have a macbook pro be careful! I may have to have my logic board replaced!

leon_ 5 days ago 0 replies      
So, I'm running Ubuntu 10.10 - but I use awesome-wm instead of gnome. Is it worth to upgrade to 11? After reading the comments here it seems like the big thing about 11.04 was the new gnome shell.
lurker19 4 days ago 0 replies      
On Sandy Bridge graphics,X server freezes or flickers everytime anything interesting happens, like screensaver or suspend or console switching. New graphics bugs are reported daily. My X has frozen hard 6 times in 2 days.
Nvidia drivers have some trouble also.
In short, 2011 hardware is not compatible with Unity or Compiz at all. Legacy Metacity is slightly better, and disable all power management to get a mostly stable system..
enterneo 6 days ago 1 reply      
I am wondering, if Unity isn't supported due to lack of hardware acceleration, does it fallback to Gnome2? (does it mean it still bundles Gnome along with Unity?). This is essential to make a choice between Xubuntu and Ubuntu when running in a VM
malkia 6 days ago 1 reply      
Heh, just installed ubuntu-10.10-dekstop-amd64 on my EverRunNote notebook.

Now this came out :)

Btw, there is no ubuntu-10.10-notebook-amd64 - probably because there are not many 64-bit notebooks?

lurker19 4 days ago 0 replies      
Networking is extremely flaky in my home LAN. Since I set up a new box with natty, my box had been crashing my actontec DSL modem. There are some workarohbds online for disabling ipv6 and restarting wifi when he module crashes and the indicator Applet loses its connection to he network-manager service.
alienfluid 5 days ago 0 replies      
The upgrade's going - another 40 minutes or so.

Pro-tip for people with laptops that have switchable graphics - Go into your BIOS and set the default to "Discrete graphics" and not "Switchable". Otherwise Ubuntu will default to integrated and you'll miss out on all the fancy animations.

T_S_ 6 days ago 1 reply      
Can I upgrade a Ubuntu 10.10 machine in-place? Don't worry its a VM.
aashu_dwivedi 6 days ago 0 replies      
I always was a little skeptical about unity , and thought I'd rather go with the gnome3 , but consider it a peer pressure or whatever i am upgrading to unity as I type this :) [and yeah i'm every bit excited] , cheers .
mise 6 days ago 2 replies      
Dare you?
ioSami 6 days ago 0 replies      
Already downloading.
Bose founder makes big stock donation to MIT mit.edu
419 points by privacyguru  5 days ago   94 comments top 18
Anechoic 5 days ago 5 replies      
Folks like to rag on Bose products (and from a pure sound quality standpoint they are overpriced IMO) but Amar Bose was the best professor I had and his enthusiasm for engineering and acoustics showed in all of his lectures.

He's been good to MIT over the years (MIT students, faculty and affiliates get substantial discount) and this is another example of him giving back. I hope this encourages MIT to resurrect some of their acoustics programs (aside from a couple of projects coming out of the Media Lab and a telephony class or two, acoustics has been dead at MIT since the late 1990's) but I suspect they'll just use it as a cash cow.

rit 5 days ago 2 replies      
This is an incorrect title; the wrong conclusion may have been drawn.

Although he has given them majority shares they are nonvoting only. The terms of.the gift forbid them from selling the shares or participating in any management or governance of the company.

Bose is remaining a private / independent company still run by said founder. This is essentially a gift that should pay nice stock dividends for MIT.

tt 5 days ago 3 replies      
I was fortunate to be a student of Dr. Bose many years ago. No other professor gave unlimited time on exams, plus free Toscanini's ice cream to boot!

Beyond those small perks, his stories working with Norbert Wiener and his inspirations have completely transformed and shaped my personality and how I solve problems. Above all, the highest integrity one would have with his/her work, has been my #1 beacon thanks to Dr. Bose. I will always cherish that end-of-term field trip at his corporate headquarters where I witnessed amazing demos (including the active automobile suspensions), and heard even more stories that made me believe that anything is possible when you put your mind and heart into it.

tt 5 days ago 2 replies      
Dr. Bose strongly believes that the company would have gone down a terrible path had they taken on any VC money. He had always wanted Bose Corp to focus on research, and thus all profits are poured into funding more R&D. No doubt this decision makes it possible for him to donate the majority of shares to MIT today. I still remember his words: "Those MBAs would have had me fired in no time."

So how did he fund the company initially? According to Dr. Bose, Lee handed over his entire life savings because he firmly believed that Bose would succeed!

robg 5 days ago 2 replies      
According to the definitions often used here, isn't Bose a lifestyle company?
joshfinnie 5 days ago 1 reply      
A bit of a sensational title. With all the discussion on Hacker News lately about ownership of the company, this is interesting. Gave a majority of non-voting stock to MIT to get company dividends. That is all.

Interesting way of donating your fortune to a school.

guelo 5 days ago 4 replies      
What a wasteful donation. MIT has an over $8 billion endowment, and it teaches the most privileged technical students in the world. If MIT was at least trying to expand to teach more students, but of course it can't since it needs to maintain it's high selectivity in order to preserve its reputation. I can think of a thousand better donations than wasting it on rich ivy schools.
thematt 5 days ago 0 replies      
If MIT will have no voting authority under this new arrangement then I wonder what the value of actually giving the shares is. Couldn't Bose just donate all their earnings to MIT every fiscal year instead, earn a tax deduction and avoid the dividend tax that will be assessed to MIT?
smackfu 5 days ago 3 replies      
He should have donated 30% to MIT and 70% to a good marketing school.
kevinherron 5 days ago 1 reply      
Can anyone explain the "'51" after his name? Is that class of 51?
uberc 5 days ago 0 replies      
I attended one special lecture by Prof. Bose while at MIT. I can't remember the subject matter specifically -- something about acoustics. But I remember the feeling of the man: humble, wise, noble. This news reminds me of that feeling.
rajatmehta1 4 days ago 0 replies      
this is what is called as a life well lived, you do something great that creates an impact and then the earnings are donated back to enhance your creation or somebody else's as long as innovation happens for the +ve.Too good.
I am surprised at some comments that still people have the nag to find a fault in this thing as well :)
orijing 5 days ago 1 reply      
It says Bose donated a majority of the shares. How much is Bose (private company) worth? And how much in dividends can MIT expect from Bose on an annual basis?
joejohnson 5 days ago 1 reply      
What power does this actually give MIT? I don't understand.
kennethologist 5 days ago 0 replies      
This is an admirable and inspiring gesture. I only hope one day I can do this for my alma mater (moreso my high school than university). Thank you Dr. Bose.
executive 5 days ago 0 replies      
He should have invested in making better speakers.
zandorg 5 days ago 0 replies      
All your Bose are belong to MIT.
rubergly 5 days ago 3 replies      
I don't understand anything about the stock market, but giving someone a large portion of stock with the agreement that it can never be sold seems like the wrong thing to do when people need to spend more to bring us out of a recession.
LSD: The Geek's Wonder Drug wired.com
407 points by mkrecny  5 days ago   290 comments top 41
moultano 5 days ago  replies      
If you have any predisposition towards psychosis, in family history or personally, please avoid LSD.

For those firmly rooted, it might be pleasurable or productive to become a little less so. If you're already sometimes on the edge, LSD can push you over.

This happened to one of my best friends. Growing up he was crazy, creative, always saw things a little differently, prone to manic behavior. After a year of regular LSD use he was unable to form a coherent sentence. Please be careful.

parfe 5 days ago  replies      
In college I lived with artists. A few of their artist friends come over with big sketch pads, pencils and whatever else artists use. They all drop acid while telling me they can't wait to see their amazing creations once their minds are opened. I went out for a few hours and came back to find them all sitting around the living room.

One sketch pad had a long black squiggle on it, the same design you'd make if you fell asleep while holding a pen to paper, and the rest had even less (One was literally two 1" lines forming a 90 degree angle). The next day they described the night as a huge success even though they never really attained any of their stated goals.

I don't doubt they had a good time, but seeing them utterly fail to use the drug as a tool kinda makes me skeptical of the productive benefits.

As a side note, if you want your ego stroked then ask a student artist for his opinion of your work. In the two years I lived with artists not a single negative comment was spoken by a student of anyone else's work. It was a guaranteed self-congratulatory feedback loop.

anonLSD 5 days ago 2 replies      
I offer some of the highlights of my personal experience with LSD, anonymously, due to the very unfortunate stigma. I'm very positive on its ability to unlock potential, trigger insights, expand perspective, and facilitate learning, even in spite of having experienced a few bad trips. Although the experience is deeply personal, I'll try to offer the most concrete accounts I can.

First, of all the hundreds of little insights, interesting trains of thought, and connections made between previously unrelated ideas, there is one revelation in particular that floats to the top of my mind. It's this: LSD confronts you, in an extremely visceral way, with the fact that the entire universe that you perceive and interact with, the whole world and everybody in it, is entirely in your own mind at all times. Sure, it's perfectly reasonable to believe that it's all derived from an objective, external world - but you've never interacted directly with that one, and in fact you can't.

Now, you might say that you already "know" this, philosophically. You can even do the smug, Internet know-it-all thing and say this is completely pedestrian, name-drop Descartes and a bunch of other philosophers, and hit me with a zinger about how this is about as deep as "The Matrix". But I'm not claiming that LSD leads you to the philosophical idea; I'm saying that it slaps you right in the face with it, viscerally. It doesn't tell you, so that you have to think about it in the abstract; it shows you, literally with your own eyes. It's the difference between knowing what the Grand Canyon looks like from pictures, and standing on the edge of it.

It is very common for people to describe the onset of their first trip in terms of waking up, for the first time, ever. I'd describe it this way, too. It feels like waking up for the first time, and realizing that you'd been dreaming your whole life. Of course, this is really just an analogy, and it's more than just a feeling. It's a sudden shift in your actual perceptual processes, which are largely chemical, and have now been altered. But by the mere fact of them being altered, you realize that the default way of perceiving is just that - just a default. It isn't more "true" or more "real" - it's a default, it's massively culturally constructed, and it's characterized by a certain amount of non-questioning of assumptions. What's a color? What's a country? What's a "week"? What's a leader? What is solid? Which way is up? What's a job? Your brain starts trying to decompose every concept into basic principles, and you realize that for a lot of things in the human world, there are none. Just made-up, widespread beliefs that cause lots of people to act as-if, and in so doing, make them "real". Again, there is a difference between merely realizing this philosophically, and being transported outside of the web of culturally-reinforced beliefs and observing it from the outside.

So there's a lot of shedding of constructed concepts. What's left when all that chaff blows away? Whatever it is, it a) seems a lot more real, and b) is obscured in normal consciousness. I'm not suggesting that it would be desirable to permanently lose the ability to think on the level of appointments, check-writing, stop-lights, prospectuses, and the rest of the "mundane". I am definitely suggesting that what is left of experience after all that is obliterated from consciousness is worth seeing. There are parallels here with Buddhism and enlightenment traditions. It's also extremely common for people to offer meditation as a substitute. It's perfectly fine if you don't want to do illegal drugs - hardly anyone will fault you. But don't fool yourself that you're getting the same effect. I've practiced meditation too, and while it does alter consciousness, there are many meaningfully different altered states - they are in no way equivalent or substitutable. (Think about it - if you can simulate an LSD trip by meditating, do you simulate a K trip by meditating differently? Can you meditate yourself to a heroin high by a different technique? LSD isn't just another interchangeable "enlightened" state - they're all specific in their sets of effects. I have no doubt that I too have missed out on plenty of profound experiences by not taking, doing, seeing, or achieving any number of things. It's a big world.)

Sadly, this is turning into a wall of text, and I could still go on for the rest of the day. So, I'm going to force myself to wrap up with just a few more short highlights:

* I learned OpenGL while tripping. The subjective experience was of the information slipping into my brain effortlessly. Normally, I have to read sentences and paragraphs multiple times for them to "sink in". That time, I just skimmed, and understood. The next day, sober, I wrote a couple of neat height-field/terrain programs in OpenGL. Of course we've all learned dozens of even more complicated topics without any drugs, so this anecdote is meaningless, right? All I'm talking about is what it felt like to learn it. It felt effortless by comparison to the way I normally learn. Placebo? Selective memory? Your other favorite bias? Might be interesting to know definitively - but I still had a really good time that night.

* I once won a game of Mastermind on the first turn, without making any other guesses. This seriously freaked out the other people at the table. I wasn't tripping at the time, but I was in a distinctly "trippy" mentality - so much so that I was having a mini-flashback by the end of the turn. What I had done was to realize that the room was a closed system, containing the information about the winning pattern, and that as part of that system, I might have access to the information via other channels. Basically, I just paid very close attention to the other person's body language as I fingered different colored pegs, and allowed him to inadvertently "tell" me the correct colors and order.

* I once did a drawing of a woman from the neck up, while tripping. When I started drawing her hair, I got lost. I was drawing hair for what seemed like hours. I was hiding dozens of other, nested, drawings inside the texture of the hair. It still looked more or less like hair, but if you really looked at it, it was teeming with a whole bunch of unrelated drawings. Sure, I could do the same thing now, but it had never before occurred to me to try that. There is something about tripping that is inherently amenable to that kind of recursive, fractal thinking.

In short, don't knock subjective experiences. The enjoyment of music is a subjective experience, is it not?

eof 5 days ago  replies      
Let me chime in here with some personal experience. I am pretty much addicted to marijuana in terms of working and enjoying it.

That is, I don't really enjoy programming nearly as much compared to when I am a bit baked. Mind you, I can work.. but it feels like such a chore (not always but I'm talking typically). There are a lot of us like this.

As for LSD.. I have had many revelations while tripping, some I've had to later reject (which is a difficult process) and probably some that I should but have not yet. However, have learned a tremendous amount from whatever it is that is happening while tripping.

I really think most people should trip their face off at least once. What it feels like is that you are tapping into something truer and deeper (when you are tripping, the hallucinating reality is the 'real' reality, that is how you experience it). I don't know what is actually happening, but it can be just absolutely amazing, or absolutely devestating.

Take for instance, having an intellectual idea of the universe; like what it actually is. Some people are fascinated by thinking about these things anyway, others can't be bothered.

Now imagine, instead of having some mathematical and intuitive understanding of the 'building blocks' of the universe.. you were thrown into hyperspace and pulled of your body and shown what the universe is, and what your place in it is. And it's a truly beautiful, elegant thing. And many many people have seen the same thing (it's the universal 'mystical experience').

It's like you were pulled out of the matrix, if just for a bit, and you can actually talk to other people about it, because it happens to lots of people who trip.

Whether it is actually giving insight or not (it could definitely be some idiosyncratic interaction that lsd is having with your brain to make you see things in a certain way); it's at the very least fun, and can have a drastic effect on the way you oritent yourself toward reality.

It can also affect your mental processes--LSD has the effect (at least in me) of continually changing the level of abstraction I am thinking in. You see a situation, then you see the bigger picture of that situation, and on and on until your mind can't even fathom any thing anymore.

You set out to write a bash script to move some files, you suddenly realize an amazingly better way to do bash scripting, which makes you realize some basic change in the OS that would make UI 1000% friendlier, then you realize we shouldn't be using computers at all, then you realize you are here on earth for a purpose and you are wasting your life then your buddy is like--YO you're spacing off and the chain of thinking starts over.

michaelochurch 5 days ago 2 replies      
I don't see LSD as a "geek's wonder drug", and I'm skeptical of many of its purported benefits. Are those benefits real? Sure, but so are the risks. Could most of those, for most people, be better achieved (given enough time) through other means, such as yoga and meditation? Probably. To use geek terms, recreational drug use scales very poorly. I know a fair number of people who've used LSD once or a few times and consider it a very positive experience, but acidheads and frequent users seem to be among the most boring and damaged people I've met.

Do I think these drugs are evil or that no one should use them? Of course not. They have incredible therapeutic potential and it's a travesty that they're illegal. On the other hand, I think a lot of people overstate their power (in terms of the ability to improve oneself) relative to alternatives. Do these drugs (LSD, MDMA, mushrooms, ayahuasca) have a place, for some people and in some circumstances? Absolutely. Should psychedelic therapies be researched and made available? Of course. Should anyone go to jail or be considered "evil" or "hedonistic" for the curiosity to try some psychedelics? Obviously, no. That said, I think a lot of "geeks" tend to overstate the benefits and downplay the dangers of recreational drug use, especially as a lifestyle. Timothy Leary was actually a mess toward the end of his life, and I've seen a few "psychonauts" crack up.

There may be benefits of long-term recreational drug use that I'm wholly ignorant of, having never gone down that road and having no intention to do so, but what I've seen around me recommends against that pattern. I prefer meditation because, although it requires more time and patience, it scales better: you get accelerating positive returns, and safely as well.

simonsarris 5 days ago 1 reply      
Reminds me of Paul Erd's, who used amphetamines (think Adderall) for a similar purpose.

After 1971 Erd's also took amphetamines, despite the concern of his friends, one of whom (Ron Graham) bet him $500 that he could not stop taking the drug for a month. Erd's won the bet, but complained that during his abstinence mathematics had been set back by a month: "Before, when I looked at a piece of blank paper my mind was filled with ideas. Now all I see is a blank piece of paper." After he won the bet, he promptly resumed his amphetamine use.

michaelchisari 5 days ago 1 reply      
I've had a relatively drug-free life, although I've often volunteered to be the sober friend while everyone else imbibes. I've never regretted it, I've had some great times not on drugs.

But if you've ever seen Little Miss Sunshine, the grandfather has a perspective on drug use that I've adopted wholeheartedly:

Don't you start taking that shit. When you're young, you're crazy to do that stuff.

What about you?

I'm old! When you're old, you're crazy not to do it.

WiseWeasel 5 days ago 1 reply      
I am very grateful for my experiences with LSD, and wouldn't trade them for anything in the world.

The best way I could describe its practical long-term effects, (once you've come down and realized you haven't broken your brain) is that your previous knowledge has been helpfully flagged as invalid, allowing you to acquire new knowledge in a less stupid, more nuanced manner. Everything you knew about groups of people, genders, categories of objects, in short all the knowledge that allows you to assess a situation and make sense of the world is marked as fallacious, and your mind is now freed to learn how the world works in a more sophisticated manner.

I think everyone should take the opportunity to try it out, if given the chance to do so in a comfortable setting (comfortable socially - roughing it in the wild is fine, maybe even encouraged).

blinkingled 5 days ago 2 replies      
My sole, true goal in life has been to attain deepest levels of consciousness, connectedness with the being, and crystal clear clarity and to do so without external dependencies like drugs.

I have struggled a lot with the odds and gotten only a few moments of what I am after. But I realized one thing in the process that it requires quite a bit of unlearning, forgiving, accepting, non-reacting and seeing it as it is.
I still haven't lost any amount of belief in the feasibility of my experiment as I have gone closer to it - the fact that the degree and duration of my experience can be controlled by me alone is a powerful realization.

Baba Ram Dass' book referenced in one of the comments on the wired site might be worth trying out - http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00486UF8Y/ref=s9_simh_gw_p...

Alex3917 5 days ago 0 replies      
This article doesn't do a very good job explaining what it is that makes psychedelic drugs so intellectually interesting. I'd recommend listening to Terence McKenna talking about his childhood and how he discovered psychedelics.


Alternatively, listen to Alicia Danforth's amazing talk on giving psilocybin to terminal cancer patients to ease end of life anxiety:


kristofferR 5 days ago 1 reply      
I predict that LSD will become much more popular in the near future due to services like The Silk Road and Bitcoins. While other drugs can be detected quite easily in mail with scanners and such, LSD in plotter form can't be detected without actually opening every letter.
blankslate 5 days ago 1 reply      
I've taken enormous (read: irresponsible) quantities of psychotropics over the course of my life: psilocybin in particular, but I've had experiences with everything from pure LSD to exotic molecules without names.

The intensity and resonance of those experiences are such that it's sometimes hard to reconcile with the small fraction of the population who have known them. It's an essential part, to me, of the human experience.

That said, when I was younger I didn't always treat them with the respect they deserve, and it's difficult to determine in retrospect the effects they've had on my life - in part because I was still not yet fully formed when I began. I don't regret the path I've taken, but in retrospect it seems a fluke that I've arrived where I am with my sanity (arguably) intact; or even that I've arrived at this age at all.

To me, these are incredibly powerful tools, with amazing potential for both creation and destruction - but the infrastructure to support their responsible use didn't evolve at a pace to match their sudden explosion into mainstream awareness in the 60's, and the results were terrifying to many; alcohol can be an amazingly destructive drug, but societies have had thousands of years to grow comfortable with its effects, and to learn to mitigate its worst excesses.

As a result of this (perhaps rightly deserved) fear and confusion, we've collectively overreacted, not only banning them outright, but elevating their status to one of our most fiercely prosecuted taboos. I sincerely hope that this will change at some point, and that it will coincide with an evolution of the knowledge and wisdom required to use them responsibly.

To me it's evident that there are strong positive outcomes to be gained, from personal and artistic growth to effective treatment for psychiatric afflictions - but more than any other substances I know of, these drugs are chameleons that can change form entirely in response to one's approach to them. They rarely reward foolishness or irresponsibility.

Now, as ever, cultists are everywhere; I put my trust in science. And I hope that as the stigmas attached to these substances subside, our governments have the sense to entrust the exploration of this potential to scientists.

bliss 5 days ago 0 replies      
My tuppence: I was an average student, perhaps an underachiever - I was the youngest in my class... Anyway around about the closing years of high school I discovered the recreational joy of LSD, which I took despite superman comics warning me of the dangers. For a while I dropped out (3 years) and enjoyed a life that was devoid of computers (until that point I had spent all my time on 8bit then 16bit computers, leading up to an 8086 pc). I lived in a bedsit and had no outlook or any desire to "get a life". At some point during an acid trip, I found myself alone and spent a long time in introspection about where I was and where I would like to be. Long story short, fast forward 20 years, I'm married with a beautiful daughter, a great senior technical job with a very public FTSE 100 media company, a couple of irons in the fire with personal software projects I'm writing (in fact, I'm actually procrastinating here, I should be coding!) and a generally great life. If I had continued on my "wastrel" route those years ago, my life wouldn't have been as rosy (though perhaps less stressful). I attribute my conversion from waster to nerd entirely to my experiences with LSD. I thoroughly recommend it to others (though I will caution that I have seen downsides in some of my comrades, not deaths you understand, but longer lead-times to achieving their goals). This article (though lacking in specifics) does resonate very strongly with my life experience. Final question (to myself) would I use LSD again? Answer... not sure, I've done a whole lot of living in the last 20 years, not sure I want to reprogram the grey matter at this stage - maybe again in 10 years...
Jun8 5 days ago 0 replies      
Can't resist: "Metaprogramming is the language feature that helps you write code that you won't be able to understand once the LSD wears off."
kstenerud 5 days ago 4 replies      
There is a theory that the connection between the right and left hemisphere of the human brain has been diminishing over generations (The ancients used to audibly hear the voice of the gods, which was likely the right hemisphere, but that ability diminished around 4-5000 years ago).

I wonder if all these psychadelic drugs are doing is enhancing the communication between right and left, or perhaps suppressing the left such that the right takes greater charge? The left does, after all, have very narrow focus as opposed to the right, which processes greater but less focused patterns.

peterwwillis 5 days ago 1 reply      
What in the name of Albert Hoffman has the title got to do with the actual article? They talk about a couple scientists and a symposium on LSD.

How is this a 'geek wonder drug'? CAFFEINE is the geek wonder drug. LSD probably contributes less than 5% of the world's drug-induced geek accomplishments.

tintin 5 days ago 1 reply      
Most drugs are not mind expanders, but blockage solvers. We care a lot about what others say and think. This is blocking our creativity. But you don't need drugs to solve this blockage. You can train yourself letting creativity flow and don't care about what other people say.

A simple method is to start extreme. I think this applies to both graphic creativity as for programming creativity.

They also call it "out of the box" thinking.

tokenadult 5 days ago 2 replies      
Around the world, there are many different patterns of regulation of drugs, and here in the United States, schedule I controlled substances like LSD can be used for legitimate medical research. Research on new drugs is a multibillion dollar industry in several different countries. But there is a dearth of well statistically controlled studies of the safety and effectiveness of LSD for any purpose. Indeed, medical research more often pursues the issue of how to help emergency room patients who appear for treatment of psychotic symptoms triggered by illicit use of LSD.

On the specific issue of programmer or scientist creativity and productivity, that too is a much researched field, but again there are not well controlled studies showing that anyone increases productivity or creativity in any occupation while using LSD. The checkered academic career of Timothy Leary is instructive in this regard. What research shows makes a huge difference in the productivity and work quality of programmers and scientists is steady deliberate practice building up problem-solving skills and growth mindset, along with accumulation of domain-specific knowledge.


schmittz 5 days ago 1 reply      
There's no reason to attempt to prove (because you can't) or even speculate (because it doesn't matter) whether any of the "best" programmers anyone has or could suggest have done LSD or still do on a regular basis. However, I find it odd when people seem to insist that LSD is completely unnecessary or necessary to do things. Like it has been brought up before, Steve Jobs cites LSD as one of the most important experiences of his life. To rate it that highly would imply that he feels it somehow changed his psyche in such a way that it impacted who he is today. If that's the case, then you could (not concretely, but with good certainty) argue that LSD can have a positive effect on people's creativity. In fact, it does not actually matter whether it does or not so much as whether people perceive that it does (this could all be a placebo effect). Thus, the worst arguments that can be made on each end of the spectrum are that a) LSD is always unnecessary to foster innovation (Steve Jobs would argue it fostered his innovation in a way that wouldn't have happened if he hadn't tripped) and b) that everyone should do LSD at least once because it will enable them to accomplish more than otherwise possible. The choice is obviously personal and would work out beneficially for some and be fruitful for others. The important part is to remove the stigma of doing illicit drugs and to recognize that they can provide psychological benefits that are otherwise unrealizable OR acid can give you the best time you've ever had sitting on a couch. Most people that do it develop personal realizations that don't extend beyond themselves and that's all. It would be nice if people stopped passing judgment on those who belong to the other camp and instead offered their insights into why they have or haven't felt compelled to do acid. (Full disclosure: I've tripped about a dozen times over the last four years)
utefan001 5 days ago 6 replies      
One of my best friends committed suicide at age 18 in 1995. If LSD was not part of his life, I am sure the suicide would have never happened.
zavulon 5 days ago 0 replies      
You have to see this video, dedicated to Albert Hoffman (nominated for Academy Award in 1998):


YouTube keeps deleting it, so in case link goes bad, just search for this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/More_%281998_film%29

bitwize 5 days ago 2 replies      
Did anyone else see Limitless?

Did anyone else look at the symptoms of the drug he took (the fictional "NZT-48") and think, "hmmm, sounds like a more extreme form of MDMA"?

Haven't tried it myself. Heard lots about it.

jasonmcalacanis 5 days ago 2 replies      
Steve Jobs admits to taking LSD.

I rest my case.

lhnz 3 days ago 0 replies      
Not going to read the article, but will say that it produces interesting and uncontrollable cognitive leaps. Your mind is more explorative in its creativity. However, there are massive problems with using it this way: you do not remember very much and cannot think coherently.

As for it making everything seem hyper-real and 'true', yes, it also does that but it is false. If you were to remember everything from a trip, the likelihood of most of it being useful or correct is probably pretty low.

Lastly, I agree that it is too dangerous -- I don't suffer from psychosis but nevertheless my one experience was not enjoyable. It turned bad; I believe I had a panic attack which I acted upon in the worst possible way. You do not want to experience feelings of failure on LSD. Trust me. My body created physical sensations based on my own thoughts and I lay on a bed shivering...

However, I guess it had a profound and positive effect on me. I realised that the experience was not the one that I wanted from life and it made me reflect on who I wanted to be and how I wanted to live. I realised that one of the best things about my mind has always been the clarity of thought that I have in comparison to many people. I refuse to let that go and since then I've actively sought purpose.

takameyer 5 days ago 0 replies      
It is amazing what psychedelics can bring to the table. Once you step outside of the stream of consciousness society creates for us, it's tough to want to be apart of it again. You feel free. No longer a cog in the machine, but perhaps more an observer or tinkerer. I realized for myself that I no longer have to be a part of that. It is truly out of the box thinking. I find myself outside of the box and generally I'm trying to find the boundaries. This may or may not effect my programming abilities, but it definitely puts the time I have in this world into perspective. The ability to abstract and visualize connections between objects has most definitely increased since experimentation, but I'm not sure if that's a bi-product of myself programming more, or the drugs themselves. All I know is that I would never take those moments back, the bad and the good, as they have shaped who I am and what I strive to be.
Xurinos 5 days ago 1 reply      
Is this really a matter of discovering new patterns? Aren't those patterns just mutations and combinations of already-known patterns?

In that case, wouldn't a better process be to expose yourself to new experiences, especially those that challenge you or take you out of your comfort zones? How about reading books and watching movies you have not viewed before? That would have a similar effect, right?

kragen 5 days ago 1 reply      
While I have great respect for many people whose lives have been changed for the better by LSD, I have never taken it. Many of the mind-expanding experiences they report are my daily experience.

To quote Salvador Dali:

I don't use drugs.

I am drugs.

kamis 4 days ago 0 replies      
Before jumping off any drugs, I have done more than ten years testing in testing in expanding of consciousness including LSD trips as well. Those were really impressive. You can see sound, hear colors, every surface gets alive. But the best ones happened in the countryside. When you understand the way Universe is build, how things work etc. That was wonderful!! The consciousness was expanded... but it was just a bubble. Because when it ended after 12 hours, I understood that I knew all those things, that I had those strange super-senses. But now I have only some flashbacks and cannot explain others how the Universe is built. So my opinion is that life is like climbing the mountain. We all started climbing up. But on our way we found all kind of interesting things - bars, parties, working, career, family, relationships etc. And climbing made some sideways, making our journey up slower. Some even stopped or even rolled down. But everybody still have that knowledge of being on the top of the mountain. It's deep inside. And then we found that weed, mushrooms, lsd, salvia etc. helps us "opening our minds". But it's just like someone grabs you by your hair, pulls up to the top of mountain, shows you what's over there and ... releases his hand. So you just fall down, luckily to the same place where you've taken, if not lower. I got it only after several years of meditation when you do your consciousness expansion step by step. But the "trip" you can get out of that is the one you cannot compare with any drugs trip you have got before. At least it worked for me. So be careful with all those trips as it's very easy to get on the hook because it's much easier to have one cube either than sitting for hours in meditation. But we all have all choices. And it doesn't matter which you choose as it's your choice.
davidspi 4 days ago 0 replies      
if you were to read all of these posts, you would find a common theme: we all experience a new level of consciousness when we trip. However, regardless of what this new experience was, or through what method it was achieved, the presence of a new conscious experience proves that their are different types and even levels of consciousness.

this epiphany occurred to me through a drug induced change in consciousness. i realized that every material thing in this universe is just a product of my consciousness. this then got me thinking: how is it that material is a product of my consciousness, yet science tells me that my brain (a piece of material) produces consciousness.

I flirted with this paradox for months. I concluded that everything in the universe is just a system of interconnected systems of the same energy. I thought of the things in the universe as just different manifestations of a single type of energy at different points in space and time.

Then I read about Amit Goswami and learned some very useful scientific jargon for what i was experiencing. Anyone who is interested in "conscioussness" should research this man - he is leading a thought revolution


johnjhayes 5 days ago 1 reply      
LSD is steroids for meditation. A cheat and a shortcut to the hard work. But it certainly seems to work ;-)
guruz 5 days ago 0 replies      
I'm a bit shocked here about people who expect LSD to make people code better or create better art and if it does not they complain it is "not effective".

Things like LSD (or meditating, running, ...) allow you to to get your mind into a state that enables you to look behind nature, people, society and everything else. It's not a productivity tool and should not be used as such I think :-)

mman 5 days ago 0 replies      
I think it's cool to come out and say this. I have also had extremely positive experiences with drugs as a geek.
mannicken 3 days ago 0 replies      
Please be careful before you go out and drop acid thinking it'll make you a better developer. Psychedelics like that are powerful.

And by powerful I mean I've had bad trips where I thought I was being raped, and hallucinated a giant penis staring at my face for eight hours.

On the other hand, acid is one of the best drug out there if done right, it unclutters minds.

truthsayer 5 days ago 1 reply      
Sounds like self-delusion fed by gratification. I know which engineer I'd rather interact with.
redsymbol 5 days ago 0 replies      
At first I misread the headline as "Lisp: The Geek's Wonder Drug".

Ha, maybe that works too ;)

citizenkeys 5 days ago 0 replies      
Only thing I'm high on these days is life. To each his own, though.

"The goal is being high, not getting high."
-Be Here Now, Ram Dass

obvanon 5 days ago 0 replies      
All of you people wondering why people often talk of "seeing God" and other mystical experiences while on LSD, here's the thing:

for the most part, those experiences are false

However, we tend to associate the parts of our life that are more contemplative with the religious or the supernatural. That is why the _descriptions_ are often religious in nature. That is, however, a limitation of our culture. Because we have traditionally delegated those states of mind to the idea of religions, of Church, of God and so on.

LSD will tear you apart and put you back together and you will be better for it. However, even if it was immensely important for me, do not take LSD, even if for this reason alone: it's illegal. I regret my LSD times for that reason alone. I think society is wrong in that regard, but I still like society and I am willing to put up with it being wrong once in a while.

If you want to experience the whole mind-bending experience, go study Philosophy. Read the complicated, boring, dreary stuff. Read Kant and formal logic and everything you can put your hands on. Whatever little thing LSD may have done to some people, Philosophy will do to you a thousand fold. It's the harder path, but it will give you skills that you can control at your will, and it will make you better in every area of your life, permanently.

Philosophy is the whole book to LSD's Cliff's Notes.

bodski 5 days ago 0 replies      
A related excerpt from BBC Horizon documentary on Psychedelic Science with interviews including Micrsoft's Bob Wallis on the use at the Homebrew Computer Club and Kary Mullis (who claims that LSD was intrumental in the development of the Polymerase chain reaction) :

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j2WurhYEQyY [Flash video!]

diamondhead 5 days ago 0 replies      
Great example of irresponsibility. As we can see in the other "success" stories written here, many unsuccessful people -exceptions are the role models- tries it to be creative.
GoldenMonkey 5 days ago 0 replies      
another view of supposed 'creativity benefits' to engineers:


diadem 5 days ago  replies      
If you need to take psychedelics to 'unlock the wonders of your mind' or whatever just to do some simple programming, software may not be the field for you.
Clean Up Your Mess - A Guide to Visual Design for Everybody visualmess.com
394 points by joelg87  3 days ago   56 comments top 14
jaysonelliot 3 days ago 1 reply      
Excellent site. While professional designers have invaluable skills that are honed over years of experience, good design is something everyone can learn the basics of.

I can't agree enough with the recommendation the book "The Non-Designers Design Book." It's been around in various editions for over fifteen years, and has been on more designers, coders, and IAs bookshelves than I can count.

I'd like to share one more design "secret" that every graphic designer knows, and everyone can start using in a matter of minutes: The Grid.

Most designers work with an invisible grid that all of their elements live within, or sometimes break out of. It can be any size and ratio you want to make it. If you begin with a grid system, you'll be able to get as creative as you want with your layout, and things will fit together better and just "feel right" when you're done.

The best book I've found about grids is The Designer and the Grid http://amzn.to/lYAcyQ

You can also go to http://www.thegridsystem.org/ which actually lives up to its subtitle of "The ultimate resourcein grid systems."

Symmetry 3 days ago 2 replies      
One thing I noticed when looking at the two fliers and hadn't considered before, but which didn't seem to be spelled out in the article is that design for fliers is in some ways fundamentally different from design for web pages.

We're only ever seeing web pages from one distance, but a flier has to first call attention from a distance and then when someone comes close give the information needed for them to do something about it.

The original version, when seen from a distance, could easily be mistaken for a demonstration or a movie or such, since only the picture and title are in very large and distinct fonts. The new version, by contrast, has "Beginner Class", "Regular Classes", and "Come Visit" popping out making it clear to someone walking by that the cool stuff in the picture is something you can learn rather than just see.

And once the attention of the potential customer has been caught and they stop, then they can read the fine details.

pge 3 days ago 3 replies      
One note for designers about color blindness - the "strong contrast" green dots (with one red one) example has essentially no contrast for those of us (~1 in 10 males) who are red-green color blind. All the dots appeared the same color until I saw the text which suggested one of them was different. Yellows and blues are safer color combinations to use if you are looking for contrast.
_grrr 3 days ago 15 replies      
Did anyone else find the Aikido flyer on the left the most readable? The version on the right might be 'neater' but I was able to absorb the information from the left version more easily.
nonrecursive 3 days ago 0 replies      
The github repo is available to anyone interested: https://github.com/flyingmachine/clean-up-your-mess
aik 3 days ago 1 reply      
This looks very similar to a good part of "The Non-Designer's Design Book" in both structure and content. Cool that it's free. Great book.
mnazim 3 days ago 0 replies      
Nice one. Agree when 100% with the title. There is something for everyone in this one. I absolutely loved the part about elimination. I am not a designer myself(that means I can't design from scratch), but when I design something I take couple of example and start eliminating stuff until I reach a point where all non-important or less important bit have been removed. My philosophy in design is -

If it is not/less important, it probably should not be in there.

aneth 3 days ago 0 replies      
This is a great article covering the same essence of visual design covered by many books. After understanding these principles you should be competent to do basic layouts. I find many designers do a worse job of internalizing these concepts than your average engineer would if they only took the time to try. Engineers are good at extrapolating from principles. Design is no different.
PStamatiou 3 days ago 2 replies      
Am I the only one that hates when people keep referring to a design as being clean? That is quite possibly the least descriptive feedback anyone can give me on my designs.

This explains exactly where I'm coming from:

spacecadet 3 days ago 2 replies      
Design is subjective. To say something is clean vs messy is to not understand that. To create effective design is to use the elements and principles of design effectively. Clean is not an element nor a principle, it should be the end product of something well designed. "a guide to visual design" IMO should consist of explaining the elements and principles of design in a way that non-visual thinkers would understand. I highly recommend reading, "Point and Line to Plane" and/or "Art and Visual Perception" if you have any interest in design, they are great text's that explain the underlying psychology of visual perception. One is written in "Whacked out art speak" and one in "laymen's terms". Ironically the harder to read of the two is 2/3 smaller in size.
charliepark 2 days ago 0 replies      
On the "after" flyer, you might move "experience" up to the preceding line, and, perhaps, indent the second line of it. Reason being: As it is, you're separating the key data bit (no) from the actual subject/noun (experience). Someone scanning it might take "experience necessary" out of context, and get the wrong meaning from it.
AbyCodes 2 days ago 0 replies      
"If you're like most people, you feel like a baby when it comes to visual design. You sometimes have a vague sense of what you want, but can't articulate it or make it come about. All you can do is point and cry."
A very nice introduction!

Thanks a lot. Brief, to the point, good examples to supplement the text, with pointers for further reference to good books as well. Love it.

Raphael 3 days ago 0 replies      
Yes, I feel like strangling anyone who center-aligns a mass of text.
barisme 2 days ago 0 replies      
Wow. Thank you. I'm still reading but so far you've increased my visual IQ by 1000%.
Startups Are Hard jazzychad.net
392 points by tlb  2 days ago   110 comments top 44
tptacek 2 days ago 1 reply      
There's a meme to be spawned about things that work like the parole narrative in The Shawshank Redemption, where good things only happen when you decide to stop giving a shit about them. Deal closing of all sorts definitely fits it.

In the meantime, perhaps console yourself this way: you haven't found the pitch that's opening investor wallets yet, and maybe that's a good thing. Maybe the pitch you're using isn't your best bet; maybe a "yes" at meeting 38 would have put you on a bad path.

My friends and I got a high-seven-figures "yes" in '99 that ultimately killed our company.

Meanwhile, Matasano went through exactly what you did in 2005; every company that found a "yes" got dead as a result. We're relieved to have dodged the funding trap.

Best of luck to you. You don't need gatekeeping investors to succeed.

noelsequeira 2 days ago 1 reply      
While the entire post is both cathartic and poignant, one line stood out for me because of its brutal honesty.

Am I jealous of other companies' success? I would be lying if I said no.

Thank you for saying this. I've always wanted to, but feared I'd be called out for it. In public. In fact, I think it's part of what keeps the fire burning inside - that constant hunger to try and figure out why some folks are plain better / more successful at the game, and then trying and internalizing / applying those lessons.

And it can get frustrating when you can't replicate / emulate what others have achieved seemingly easily. As a corollary, this is probably why Jack Dorsey and Dennis Crowley are enigmas unto themselves.

An important aside: Chad, I'm someone who has tracked (and may I add envied) the Notifo story. And I admire the work you've done, from fanout.js, to snagging Paul for a co-founder, to HN for Android, to PicAFight, to GramFrame, to Vorepad........I've found myself in awe of how prolific you've been (and you don't even know me).

It's possible you've been doing one thing too many (because you love APIs and can't keep from tinkering with them). What I'm convinced of, is that you have the talent, the work ethic and an incredible co-founder. All the best, I'm hoping I have to transition back into pure envy real soon.

chr15 2 days ago 2 replies      
I left my job to work on my startup full-time, and agree with all of this. It's one of the hardest things I've done. I had to detach myself from material possessions and live frugally. I don't have much of a social life anymore because it's expensive. I've had to force myself to work when I didn't feel like it days at a time. Programming was no longer fun.

If you're not ready to sacrifice everything you have, possibly including your health, then work on your project on the side. You really do have to be crazy to be an entrepreneur.

The positives: It's thickened my skin, I manage my finances better, I appreciate things more, I treat people better.

ChuckMcM 2 days ago 0 replies      
Nicely done. I especially liked "We let them [the investors] dictate our path with their negative signaling instead of listening to our guts."

This trap is something that is so easy to fall into and so painful to pull out of. My first startup had a 'star' VC fronting it, he loved the concept but didn't really understand that his vision was often in conflict with the founder's vision. That really hurt as the company was ripped too and fro trying to achieve a couple of really orthogonal goals.

Tom Lyon once told me that really it takes three startups before you 'get it'. One which is a somplete disaster, it helps you see what you did wrong and what can go wrong. One which isn't a complete disaster but exits sideways, which is to say you work at it day and night but when it exits you find yourself exactly where you were when you started. Then the third one where you know what to expect, you have a solid idea of what not to do and you keep laser focused on getting in, getting done, and getting it shipped.

It is very hard though, always.

DanielBMarkham 1 day ago 1 reply      
Here's another bit of sunshine to brighten your day:

Looking at the stats, and hanging out on HN for a while, it occurs to me that having a successful startup might be the coolest thing you do in your life business-wise. A zillion guys kick ass on a startup after college, only to hang around the community for decades afterwards, looking to write a check, trying to get back in on the action. As rare as profitable startups are, repeat entrepreneurs are even rarer. Maybe you're that one-in-ten-million guy. Probably not.

So if it takes 20 years, I wouldn't sweat it. If there's one thing I've learned to believe in, it's that everything in startups takes a lot longer and is a lot harder than you think it is. So even when you imagine this really tough and difficult journey lasting for years, it's probably going to be worse than that.

I'm not saying that to encourage you to give up, I just wouldn't spend a second of my time waiting for the calvary to arrive, because they aren't.

prpon 2 days ago 0 replies      
Chad, Couldn't have said any better about startups being hard. I wish you and Paul success. You have so many things that are going right for you. Access to great mentors, being part of YC, being in the valley and having a supporting family. You just need that missing piece for which people would really pay.
As a nobody, you have not much to lose.
We will be here to cheer you on when you find that missing link.
a5seo 2 days ago 2 replies      
Anyone thinking about moving to SF to launch a startup needs to read the Sacrifies and Startup Depression section 10x, assume it will be worse for you, and then decide.

And doubly so if you're married. If your spouse isn't on board and you've minimized the challenge, you're screwed.

dabent 2 days ago 1 reply      
Someone offered me a job recently. One of the people who interviewed me knew I had a side project that could become a startup. His advice was exactly what jazzychad said: startups are hard. He had been in one, so his advice meant something.

I turned down the offer, but for reasons unrelated to my side project. Still I feel like my project/startup is floating in the Sargasso Sea. If you think getting funding in the Bay Area is hard, move to Atlanta. There's a reason Stammy is out there.

And you can't be too much of a Nobody if you can get into YC twice. I wish team Notifo (or whatever your next project is) all the best.

stevenj 2 days ago 2 replies      
I think that the "making something people want" at the right time is the hardest part, and maybe distribution as well.

Execution is important.

But I think many people have the skills to create what ends up being successful.

Take Groupon for example. It made something a lot of people wanted. Could most people on Hacker News have made it? Sure.

But Groupon created it before anyone else (I might be wrong about this?).

Another example is HN. Pg has said that what he thinks users want most are quality articles and discussion.

While it's "just a forum", I think Pg is right for not adding a lot of features, or spending the limited time he has working on the UI, and instead focusing on how people can discover quality articles and make/read quality comments.

"Make something people want." It's simple, but it sure isn't easy.

zackattack 2 days ago 1 reply      
I always thought notifo was a terrible idea. It doesn't really add any value. Change your idea please. I mean look at your services page. The number one thing is "google voice alerts" so you can save money by not getting texts. Let's say you save someone $1. There's no way they're gonna pay you $1 for that. Then you also list Skribit on that page, a dead service.

I would take the mobile notification technology and pivot to notifying about something people care about, like people in the vicinity with similar interests.

ojbyrne 1 day ago 0 replies      
I think startups are like poker.

- they're 80% luck and 20% skill

- but the people who have been successful work hard to promote the idea (which they also generally believe) that they're 20% luck and 80% skill.

Maro 2 days ago 0 replies      
Great post.

I've also had "Startup depression" where I didn't sleep for 1 week and was totally unproductive for a grand total of 2-3 weeks. Ever since then I stopped recommending doing startups to my friends.

We've also experienced the "You're Nobody until you're Somebody problem." The work-around we're trying right now is to bring a (non-technical) "Somebody" onboard as a partner/founder, who is also, unlike us, located in the US where our market is.

Location has also come up in this thread. Early on I thought that thanks to the Internet location matters "less". Not true. You have to be where your investors/customers are. Deals require massive face time.

rmason 2 days ago 0 replies      
This is the reality. I well remember hearing Steve Blank speak when he said nine out of ten of us in the audience would fail. But he said each of you are thinking that you will be the one who succeeds and are feeling sorry for the other nine. I didn't realize it at the time but he defined what it is to be an entrepreneur for us.
pclark 2 days ago 1 reply      
so wait, is notifo.com going through yc again? (I only ask, because if not, and notifo is dead, that sucks)
sawyer 2 days ago 0 replies      
It's anecdotes like these that reinforce my belief that for a bootstrapping pre-success founder it's easier to focus on revenue rather than investment. The growth curve might be slower, but the friction you face as a first time entrepreneur trying to raise money is deadly.
bluekite2000 2 days ago 1 reply      
You are still in a better situation than many here. SF's coffee shops are littered w/ debt-laden (pseudo)-hackers who have half-baked ideas/projects, no gf's (or wives), zero connection to anyone of value and sleeping on a sofa of some friend's musty apartment.
divya 2 days ago 0 replies      
Great post! The thing that really rang true was the part about the fundraising/depression/derailment, and how that can lead a start-up to consider some random/terrible offers that would otherwise be totally bogus. Paul talked us off a few bad-acquisition cliffs as well.

We certainly went through all of that at Jamglue. It's absolutely true that being a founder, especially the fundraising part, requires a really thick skin.

Each time I think about doing another startup, I start having flashbacks to broken termsheets, bullshit EBITDA projections, and VC's telling us that they could introduce us to Quincy Jones (I swear, at least 7 different people told us this). When we came out of our fundraising stint (penniless), we realized that our product had suffered and we were completely broken people.

The ability to be self-aware about the emotional roller-coaster is invaluable, and essential to forward progress. Thanks for this honest account so that others can make some sense about what they are feeling.

ZackOfAllTrades 2 days ago 0 replies      
"The less you need money, the more people want to give it to you." - some advice I have heard about finances. Applies to businesses selling a product, startups looking for money, and, especially well, to scholarships.

The best indication that people should invest in you is that you don't need them to invest in you at all.

gersh 2 days ago 0 replies      
Are starups really that hard, or do they just require certain skills? Is it luck? Are you in the wrong place in the wrong time? Do you just lack the necessary skills? Do you lack the social support?

In school, you just gotta do what the teacher tells you to do, and you get an 'A'. You get a job and you just gotta be able to do what your boss wants you to do. Startups require you to find your own nitch, and do something different. No one is telling you what to do.

So, you can work real hard and work like before, but end up pursuing an empty hole. However, is this really harder?

spottiness 1 day ago 0 replies      
Your problem are irrationally high expectations. Most of us suffer from naive optimism and that is a great motivator, a harmless one if we use it to fuel our enthusiasm while working late at night. The problem arises when dehydration makes you see an Oasis everywhere, when you become delusional. We humans suck at calculating expected value, particularly when there are huge outcomes with very very very tiny probabilities. That's why so many people play the lottery and that's what you're doing: playing the lottery, and there's nothing you can do to win it. Even with your perseverance and focus, with your knowledge and hard work, if you win it you are just very lucky. On the other hand, there's a lot you can do to be happy. With your youth, your wife, your intelligence, and your hard work, if you don't reach a state of emotional satisfaction then you are very unlucky.

My advice to you would be to define your threshold of success as something you can control. Focus on your surroundings. Get one client and satisfy him. Don't do it for money but for the pleasure of having an impact on somebody else. You can be your first client too; in fact, that's what we did when we built Spottiness: it's for us, we do what we can, we are nobodies and we don't care.

happyfeet 1 day ago 0 replies      
Thanks for sharing this Chad. It means a lot to me, for someone who is just getting into startup life with wife and kid to support, giving up a well-paid 'secure' day job.

An inspiring poem shared by my friend. Was read out by Winston Churchill at the beginning of Second World War.


SAY not the struggle naught availeth,
The labour and the wounds are vain,
The enemy faints not, nor faileth,
And as things have been they remain.

If hopes were dupes, fears may be liars;
It may be, in yon smoke conceal'd,
Your comrades chase e'en now the fliers,
And, but for you, possess the field.

For while the tired waves, vainly breaking,
Seem here no painful inch to gain,
Far back, through creeks and inlets making,
Comes silent, flooding in, the main.

And not by eastern windows only,
When daylight comes, comes in the light;
In front the sun climbs slow, how slowly!
But westward, look, the land is bright!


Here is the paraphrase shared by the friend:

Don't say that the long struggle [against tyranny and injustice] is of no avail;
don't say that all your efforts, and all the injuries you've sustained, were in vain.
Don't say that the enemy's just as strong as ever;
and don't say that nothing's changed for the better!

If the things you hoped for haven't happened, well, maybe the things you're scared of won't happen either.
Perhaps over there on the battlefield, now obscured by smoke,
your comrades are chasing the enemy away,
and all they need to ensure victory is that you go and join them.

Look! Those waves don't seem to be making much headway,
even though the tide's supposedly coming in.
But far behind you, unseen creeks and inlets are swelling with incoming waters:
the sea really is on the move after all!

Look! The eastern window you're sitting at
isn't the only place affected by sunrise;
from there, yes, it's true, the sun hardly seems to moving up the sky at all"
but cross the room and look through a westward-facing casement: see how the whole landscape's already flooded with light!

Clough had just personally witnessed how Garibaldi's brave attempt to help preserve a new Roman Republic had been foiled when the forces of reaction (led, ironically enough, by the French) had successfully brought the Siege of Rome to an end in 1848. He was trying to cheer up fellow-supporters of reform and of independence for Italy. They were all feeling pretty downhearted. That's the historical context.

fleaflicker 2 days ago 1 reply      
The truth is, it hasn't been worth it at all... yet.

What about being your own boss? What about learning & producing at 10 times the rate you would at a desk job?

Also, I think you'll find there are plenty of "Nobodys" with past successes. Don't do it for the fame.

dools 2 days ago 1 reply      
Wow you went on a cruise? You have money in the bank? You're going through YC again? Sounds awesome! Focus on the positives. You'll regret getting down in the dumps now, when you look back and realise how good you had it. Make the most of now and stop worrying so much.
adebelov 2 days ago 0 replies      
As an entrepreneur reading your post, I couldn't sympathize more with your situation. Startups are hard, startups are not for everyone and as Arrington would say, you are not a pirate until you start a company.

However, I would change your attitude a little bit. In your post you seem to focus on your sacrifices and being jealous of other successes. Well, when I see that Color and other startups raise a ton of money, I get SUPER excited! Why? Because if they can do it, I can do it too!
As far as sacrifices go, realize that you are still better than 90% of the entire world. Being grateful for things that we have is a force multiplier. I am grateful for what I have and having the opportunity to build a company in Silicon Valley is a life long dream come true. Dreams are bigger than sacrifices. If you believe in yourself, you believe in your product, your customers will believe in you and your investors will too.

Good luck. And enjoy the journey, in the end life is just a game (whether you are a doctor, investment banker or entrepreneur, we all have finite amount of time on this planet).

trickjarrett 2 days ago 0 replies      
Kudos to you for saying and admitting the hard things for the startup entrepreneur. Failing sucks. Struggling to not fail sucks even more because it can just drain you. Best of luck :)
cft 1 day ago 0 replies      
What I find interesting, is that you can build a fairly large and profitable bootstrapped company, but unless you got VC money in the Silicon Valley the standard way, from the right people, you will always remain a bit of persona non grata, not particularly liked by Arrington, Techcrunch and the establishment. There will be no hype, no press, even if your revenue is larger than say Digg's in its heyday. I am speaking from experience, but I know of many other examples.
JoeAltmaier 2 days ago 1 reply      
So startups the YC way are hard. The sacrifice is self-inflicted, and avoidable - just give up more of your company up front, or choose a more visible partner, or have a spouse that has a real income to start with, or work at BigCo then quit and create something they need and lease/contract it back to them, etc.

Its winning the lottery that is hard, and only because you make it hard on yourself for that big prize.

jkaljundi 2 days ago 1 reply      
"if you are having trouble putting together a round in the first few weeks of actual investor meetings, just say, "screw it," and get back to working ASAP."
- this seems a little extreme, to say the least, not sure I agree. It might apply to some premium selected YC startups in frothy Silicon Valley conditions, but not in general. Putting together a round takes time and quite often much much more than a few weeks.
thomaspun 1 day ago 1 reply      
Startups are harder than anything I have read online (yours definitely put another well needed perspective on this subject). I have also wondered why none of my investors (or even YC) asked what the founders sacrificed to do what they do.

I"m so glad that your plan to go thru YC again worked out. Beer time! I so believe in you two and can't wait to see what comes out.

hong 2 days ago 0 replies      
I can't believe how much you sacrificed. Here I am thinking I had it hard. It's so great that you are upbeat and energetic long after the YC days despite all your sacrifice. Best of luck to all your efforts!

Strange and pathetic as it may sound to my non-startup friends, I couldn't agree more on the point of having a support group. Everyday there are things pushing my limit, and if not for my friends, I would have gone crazy by now.

zacharytamas 2 days ago 0 replies      
Good luck to you guys! I've known Paul a couple years and even helped him catch some bugs in Skribit back in the day. The article was very interesting as a friend and I are just starting to design and develop on an app idea that started out--like many do-- as a very small humble idea but with a lot of dreaming has evolved into an interesting solution. Good luck on Notifo, and with any luck maybe we'll cross paths somewhere.
ad80 2 days ago 0 replies      
Great post Chad, people thinking or already starting startups have to wake up and stop believing that if every second article on TC is about another funding, that there is already money waiting for them.

And with regards to Nobody / Somebody.... this post, might get you closer than you think to Somebody ;)

Good luck! You have the right product. Think what's missing...and is it really money?

ttran08 2 days ago 1 reply      
Thanks for the great post! I don't think you'll ever quit until you succeed. I think the key to creating that one successful company is about trials and errors. "Learning doesn't happen from failure itself but rather from analyzing the failure, making a change, and then trying again." Don't be afraid to fail early and fail often, until you hit the nail right on the head. One thing I didn't understand from looking at your project is, why did you feel the need to get funding to begin with? It doesn't cost much to keep a website alive, and you have the support of your wife in order to continue developing for Notifo or a new project. I'm also a co-founder myself, so I'd like to know if there's something I'm missing here. :) Another thing I'm curious about is, why you're so set on sticking with Notifo, instead of moving on with a new idea? Is it because you already have tons of users and you need money to expand your company? I've only been involved with one website and I'm still learning, so it'd be great to learn more insights so I know what to expect ahead of time. :)
stevelaz 2 days ago 0 replies      
Great read! It's great to hear some of the brutal truth about attempting to do what we all love to dream about but mostly FAIL at.
barisme 2 days ago 0 replies      
Wow, your catharsis really comes through in your writing. If nothing else, maybe there's a memoir in all this ;) Seriously though, stay positive and stay in the habit of asking people for help when you're stuck. And don't just ask investors, 'cause their agenda might force them to say 'double or nothing' every time. Ask friends, other tech people, people who work on FOSS, old college professors, online friends. You need to develop, but you also need to spend a lot of time in front of other people. Also, make sure you're doing something you like. If the work is not rewarding, find something that is.
gsharma 1 day ago 0 replies      
I understand the frustration when things are not moving along, but finding a solution to that is the only thing that filters out successful startups out of all the other startups.

All the best with your YC Summer 2011!

For what's it worth - Tim Westergren of Pandora pitched 300+ VCs before he raised money for series A. More on it: http://www.businessinsider.com/pandora-300-vc-rejections-201...

sabat 2 days ago 3 replies      
This post is one long moan. Of course startups are hard. So is marriage, and so is jogging. So if you're doing it, you'd better love it, because if you don't, you're going to be miserable. You do it because you love building things and love to learn things -- and you can handle failure, whether it's temporary or permanent. You can recognize that you have not actually failed if you've learned in the process, made personal connections, etc.

People doing startups need encouragement. They may need to be warned that this isn't easy, but they really don't need moans.

MenaMena123 2 days ago 1 reply      
Keep up the dream, screw going back to a 9 to 5 and something you settle for. Do what you love, I am in the same boat, I am moving down this summer to San Fran. and I think at times if I am making a mistake and say hell no! I rather be after my dream my whole life than settle for something. Its all about the chase of the dream.
rogerjin 1 day ago 0 replies      
I'm right there with you Chad. We've got a strong team, yet are still weeks away from launching, and it's just truly amazing how much failure and rejection we have faced over the past few months.
szcukg 2 days ago 0 replies      
What a bloody good read......they say nothing in life that is worth having ever comes easy....stay there chad...grit it out....you'll reach where u want....success will come..good luck have fun
meow 1 day ago 0 replies      
Wow, thats an eye opening picture of startup life. I really hope these guys succeed.
lsiu 2 days ago 0 replies      
Good read. I hope you make it someday!
Eagleman99 2 days ago 0 replies      
"A real entrepreneur is somebody who has no safety net underneath them." H.Kravis
je42 2 days ago 0 replies      
Thank you for posting this !
The whole post means quite a bit for me. Almost every word you write feels familiar.

I wish you good luck with with your startup. Actually I wish all startups having difficulty raising the next round good luck.

AWS Service Disruption Post Mortem amazon.com
380 points by teoruiz  5 days ago   101 comments top 26
nicpottier 5 days ago 11 replies      
tldr: ""The trigger for this event was a network configuration change. We will audit our change process and increase the automation to prevent this mistake from happening in the future."

AMZN has gotten a lot of flack over this outage, and rightly so. But I do want to dissuade anyone from thinking anybody else could do much better. I worked there 10 years ago, when they were closer to 200 engineers, and the caliber of people there at that point was insane. By far the smartest bunch I've ever worked with, and a place where I learned habits that serve me well to this day.

I know the guys that started the AWS group and they were the best of that already insanely selective group. It is easy to be an arm chair coach and scream that the network changes should have been automated in the first place, or that they should have predicted this storm, but that ignores just how fantastically hard what they are doing is and how fantastically well it works 99(how many 9's now?)% of the time.

In short, take my word for it, the people working on this are smarter than you and me, by an order of magnitude. There is no way you could do better, and it is unlikely that if you are building anything that needs more than a handful of servers you could build anything more reliable.

bretthopper 5 days ago 6 replies      
I've been noticing a trend recently when reading about large scale failures of any system: it's never just one thing.

AWS EBS outage, Fukushima, Chernobyl, even the great Chicago Fire (forgive me for comparing AWS to those events).

Sure there's always a "root" cause, but more importantly, it's the related events that keep adding up to make the failure even worse. I can only imagine how many minor failures happen world wide on a daily basis where there's only a root cause and no further chain of events.

Once a system is sufficiently complex, I'm not sure it's possible to make it completely fault-tolerant. I'm starting to believe that there's always some chain of events which would lead to a massive failure. And the more complex a system is, the more "chains of failure" exist. It would also become increasingly difficult to plan around failures.

edit: The Logic of Failure is recommended to anyone wanted to know more about this subject: http://www.amazon.com/Logic-Failure-Recognizing-Avoiding-Sit...

Smerity 5 days ago 0 replies      
> The nodes in an EBS cluster are connected to each other via two networks. The primary network is a high bandwidth network... The secondary network, the replication network, is a lower capacity network used as a back-up network... This network is not designed to handle all traffic from the primary network but rather provide highly-reliable connectivity between EBS nodes inside of an EBS cluster.

During maintenance instead of shifting traffic off of one of the redundant routers the traffic was routed onto the lower capacity network. There was human error involved but the network issue only provoked latent bugs in the system that should have been picked out during disaster recovery testing.

Automatic recovery that isn't properly tested is a dangerous beast; it can cause problems faster and broader than any team of humans are capable of handling.

wanderr 5 days ago 1 reply      
I highly recommend that anyone who was surprised by this outage, or the description of the chain reaction of failures that lead to it, read Systemantics. It is a dry but amusing exploration of the seemingly universal fact that every complex system is always operating in a state of failure, but the complexity, failovers and multiple layers can hide this, until the last link in the chain finally breaks, usually with catastrophic results.
senthilnayagam 5 days ago 0 replies      
AWS was numero uno in terms of customer visibility and the image of a pathbreaking cloud service, before the incident.

Lack in transparency in reaching out to customers is the biggest mistake what AWS did. They would learn from their mistakes, their servers and networks would be more reliable than ever.

This incident has given a reason for people to look at multi-cloud operation capability, for disaster recovery and backup reasons. AWS monopoly would be gone, there would be many new standards which would be proposed to bring in interoperability and for migrations between clouds.

thebootstrapper 5 days ago 1 reply      
One of the main cause for "re-mirroring storm," is node not backing off from finding a replica.

Here's Twitter Back off decider implementation (Java)


When last time i looked i was little clueless on this. Now I find its usage.

hobbes 5 days ago 3 replies      
>...one of the standard steps is to shift traffic off of one of the redundant routers in the primary EBS network to allow the upgrade to happen. The traffic shift was executed incorrectly...

This supports the theory that between 50%-80% of outages are caused by human error, regardless of the resilience of the underlying infrastructure.

epi0Bauqu 5 days ago 1 reply      
They should also allow one-time moves of reserved instances between availability zones.
mml 5 days ago 4 replies      
Did I read this correctly in paragraph 2: " For two periods during the first day of the issue, the degraded EBS cluster affected the EBS APIs and caused high error rates and latencies for EBS calls to these APIs across the entire US East Region."

Their "control plane" network for the EBS clusters span availability zones in a region? If so, this would be the fatal flaw.

rdl 5 days ago 0 replies      
I still don't see a good justification for keeping the ebs control plane exposed to failure across multiple availability zones in a region. Until that is fixed, I would not depend on AZs for real fault tolerance.
charper 5 days ago 0 replies      
Seems there is always this issue. System fails. Systems try to repair themselves. Systems saturate something which stops them from repairing. Systems all loop aggressively bringing it all down.
moe 5 days ago 0 replies      
Now that's what I call a post mortem. Kudos to the author.
gojomo 5 days ago 1 reply      
I doubt this is the last time we'll hear of a "re-mirroring storm" in an oversaturated cloud.
thehodge 5 days ago 2 replies      
An automatic 100% credit for 10 days usage, thats pretty good IMO
leoc 5 days ago 0 replies      
Compare to the 2008 post-mortem: http://status.aws.amazon.com/s3-20080720.html Messaging infrastructure as single point of failure? Check. http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=2472227
mcpherrinm 5 days ago 0 replies      
There's a quote I found interesting that hasn't been noted here yet:

"This required the time-consuming process of physically relocating excess server capacity from across the US East Region and installing that capacity into the degraded EBS cluster."

And if I read this description of the re-mirror storm correctly, I think that implies Amazon had to increase the size of it's EBS cluster in the affected zone by 13%, which considering the timeline seems fairly impressive.

johndbritton 5 days ago 0 replies      
"We will look to provide customers with better tools to create multi-AZ applications that can support the loss of an entire Availability Zone without impacting application availability. We know we need to help customers design their application logic using common design patterns. In this event, some customers were seriously impacted, and yet others had resources that were impacted but saw nearly no impact on their applications."
assiotis 5 days ago 1 reply      
I find it surprising that they did not and do not plan to employ any sort of interlocks/padded walls. What I mean is, if the system is exhibiting some very abnormal state (e.g #remirror_event above a fixed threshold or more than x standard deviations above average) then automated repair actions should probably stop and the issue should be escalated to a human.
thebootstrapper 5 days ago 0 replies      
Reminds me again, Distributed System are hard and the first fallacies "The network is reliable"
mauricio 5 days ago 0 replies      
It's strange we haven't heard more from users of the 0.07% of EBS volumes that were corrupted and unrecoverable during the outage. I just assumed there was no data loss as a result of the outage.
pwzeus 5 days ago 0 replies      
I for once just want to say that claps to them for figuring this out , nailing it down in fixing it in just few days. After reading this if feels like issue at such massive level can take large amount of time to fix.
AdamGibbins 5 days ago 1 reply      
I found this rather entertaining: http://intraspirit.net/images/aws-explained.png
VladRussian 5 days ago 0 replies      
interesting, several weeks ago someone (reddit?) has already hit the problems with EBS availability. Did Amazon paid attention and analyzed the problem back then? Or let it just pass?
mikiem 5 days ago 1 reply      
The whole thing is just too complicated to be highly-available. There will be more problems, but I wish them luck.
nodata 5 days ago 3 replies      
tl;dr version?
gord 5 days ago 1 reply      
This article reads like nonsense - but this is not a criticism of AWS.

The real problem is there is no good mathematical model of distributed behaviour, from which statistical guarantees can be made.

I think we're at the limit of what the smartest people can achieve with hand crafted code.

Most likely new math will give rise to new tools and languages, in which the next generation of reliable distributed systems will be written.

Without this advance we will have storage networks that aren't reliable, an internet that can be taken down by one organization, botnets that are unkillable and patchy network security.

Intel Reinvents Transistors Using New 3-D Structure intel.com
379 points by brewski  9 hours ago   86 comments top 25
pilom 7 hours ago 1 reply      
Again one of those "I bet AnandTech has the best description out there" and I go check and am pleasantly surprised.


sjtgraham 8 hours ago 1 reply      
This is the sort of thing I read and think to myself "go check HN comments where someone smart will explain this in layman's terms"
jws 8 hours ago 1 reply      
This Intel R&D paper sums the technology up and has a picture that makes it clear what they are doing: http://www.intel.com/technology/silicon/integrated_cmos.htm

In a nutshell, the drain/source is a tall trace, the gate approaches from the side and climbs over the drain/source, covering it on three sides.

Symmetry 7 hours ago 1 reply      
Awesome! The current a transistor can put out is porportional to the width over the length and chip designers usually want wide transistors[1], but wide transistors take up space which causes more line capacitance. This innovation will let people put more, wider transistors in a given area which will both increase the current they're putting out and decrease the capacitance they're fighting against, leading to higher frequencies[2].

[1] Wider transistors also cause more capacitance for the other transistors that are driving them, but for most modern designs this is smaller than line capacitance.

[2] Having transistors closer together can also help overcome speed-of-light delay. This can be important in caches.

EDIT: Also, some stuff I didn't notice until reading the Anandtech article is that the thinness of the silicon will give you the same artificial limitation of the depletion region that SOI does, leading to the same accelerated inversion. Oh, and better isolation from the base too. I don't think that I can explain that succinctly for non-EEs so go read Wikipedia on MOSFETs if you're interested.

tspiteri 8 hours ago 0 replies      
stephenjudkins 8 hours ago 3 replies      
From what I've heard, using 50% as much power for the same performance as the previous generation still will not be sufficient to bring Intel's Atom performance/energy consumption ratio to that offered by ARM chips. However, it's a huge leap in the right direction. Add better-designed power-saving features on the next generation of Atom chips, and future process shrinkages, and it's easy to see ARM's lead getting chipped away until it's gone.
bradly 8 hours ago 4 replies      
Anyone know if the 3D structure is patented by Intel? If so, wouldn't this give Intel a monopoly on transistors given how much better this new design performs?
sosuke 8 hours ago 1 reply      
I liked Engadget's coverage of the release http://www.engadget.com/2011/05/04/intel-will-mass-produce-2...

I'm a sucker for videos. This Tri-Gate tech was first announced in 2002, I love seeing pie in the sky technology come into reality and widespread usage.

nextparadigms 7 hours ago 1 reply      
I think this will mostly help increase the life expectancy of the Moore's Law by another 10 years or so. When we'll get to 11nm or whatever is the limit, we'll just start stacking layers of transistors on each other. That will only work until the chips become too thick, though.
acgourley 2 hours ago 0 replies      
"Moore's Law" is mentioned 14 times.
GavinB 8 hours ago 1 reply      
It will be interesting to see whether patents will make this a defensible innovation. Will AMD et all have to invent a similar but materially different technology in order to keep pace?
FrojoS 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Looking at these pics
its almost impossible to not get the feeling, that we are still in the stone age and a bright future lies ahead of us.
makmanalp 8 hours ago 4 replies      
"the world's first 3-D transistors, called Tri-Gate, in a production technology"

I wonder if this is truly Intel's invention or not:


slackerIII 8 hours ago 4 replies      
Will this allow them to increase clock speeds? They mention a 37% perf increase, but I don't know what exactly they mean by that.
rkon 5 hours ago 1 reply      
Intel stock is up 2% and ARM is down 6% (was down 7.7% in London trading). Looks like their Apple-esque announcement strategy has had some impact.
SlipperySlope 8 hours ago 1 reply      
Curious as to what clock speeds will be available when Ivy Bridge is released in the first half of 2012? If one expects a 37% performance increase at low voltages, then what would be the performance increase at standard voltage? 20% or so?
vondur 8 hours ago 3 replies      
I often wonder at the incredibly small size of these chips (22nm) if the have to worry about relativistic effects of electrons "jumping".
deweller 9 hours ago 0 replies      
A couple of highlights from the article:

"The key to today's breakthrough is Intel's ability to deploy its novel 3-D Tri-Gate transistor design into high-volume manufacturing."

"The 22nm 3-D Tri-Gate transistors provide up to 37 percent performance increase at low voltage versus Intel's 32nm planar transistors."

helium 2 hours ago 0 replies      
Great, now I won't have to learn Erlang for a few more years
DonnyV 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Its funny how at the end of the day basic shapes are still an important rule in technology :-)
pcora 2 hours ago 2 replies      
Anyone care to explain this to a normal person? :)
bryanallen22 7 hours ago 0 replies      
I don't mean to trivialize this, but "reinvent" sounds a little strong to me. This is a modification on silicon design, and a great one, but is just another notch in the miracle of Moore's law. It's more evolutionary than revolutionary.

See 2007 for a similar announcement and reaction:


espeed 7 hours ago 0 replies      
This is a big win for graph DBs that need to scale up rather than out.
PawelDecowski 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Who at Intel thinks type set at 12px is legible?
kin 7 hours ago 1 reply      
sometimes i feel like intel should space out their chips more. as a consumer i feel like i can't keep up.
Eating Healthily for $3 a Day miketuritzin.com
376 points by miketuritzin  6 days ago   352 comments top 35
mmaunder 6 days ago  replies      
My wife and I tried to do this recently on $1.70 per person per day. We didn't last our intended 28 days. A few observations we found:

Meat and organic food was too expensive.

Fruit is crazy expensive so we bought OJ from concentrate with no additives as a cheap source of Vitamin C.

Eggs were are very expensive, but we needed the protein and nutrients, so rationed ourselves to 3 each per week.

We had to remove all sugar to save on cost and sugar crashed badly.

We decided that Costco was cheating due to the $70 membership fee and so we alternated between Safeway and Walmart.

You quickly learn the difference between broccoli florets and stems. [Stems are cheaper]

Baking your own bread is incredibly cheap and if you're using a sourdough starter you just need flour, salt and water. It's a great staple and adds taste to the meal. I scraped the unused flour off the work bench and dumped it back in the sourdough starter to save on cost.

Lentils are the most complete non-meat protein source.

Combining beans and rice give you a complete protein.

Cheese is too expensive and you can't make cheese from regular organic off-the-shelf homogenized ultra-pasteurized milk. It just doesn't set when you add the rennet.

You can buy coffee for $1 for a months worth of ground coffee at walmart. It's called Master Chef and it tastes like a used catbox.

Before we did our experiment we found a few "living on a dollar a day" blogs, but every single one bought in bulk and then calculated the cost of each scoop they took out of the bin. They also didn't care about nutritional completeness and basically starved themselves for the period.

After trying to do this on $1.70 and failing, I think Mike's budget of $3 is probably a realistic per person budget if you're going to stay healthy.

wheels 6 days ago 4 replies      
I've thought about putting together a brief founders' cookbook with a dozen or so of the recipes for things that I survived on in the lean days that you can make for about a buck or two and in about 20 minutes.

The real trick is not buying prepared foods at all. Things like flour, rice, eggs, beans, pasta, potatoes, fresh fruit and vegetables, milk, yogurt, cheese, ground beef, fish filets and chicken breasts are all reasonably cheap and you can have a lot of variety with a relatively small set of ingredients on hand. With some practice you get to where you know how to parallelize the cooking steps so that you can get everything done and even cleaned up faster than you could run out for fast-food.

Secretly I want our next office to have a full kitchen since one of the things I miss when I'm at our office is being able to cook in the middle of the day.

colanderman 6 days ago 3 replies      
As a vegan on a limited budget, this approximates many of my meals (though I could stand to eat more nuts and seeds and fewer grains), and I can attest that any day I eat roughly this mix of foods is a day I feel superbly healthy.

I would suggest replacing the low-fat dairy milk with a non-dairy alternative such as soy or almond milk. Although this would up the cost to $3.50ish/day, non-dairy milks are usually fortified with more calcium than dairy milk contains naturally, and are often fortified with B12 as well.

henryw 6 days ago 5 replies      
Wow, the amount of protein in this diet is really low. And all those carbs may not be for everyone. This diet may be cheap, but not healthy.

If you are the type of person who puts on weight easily (like me), than I would suggest doing 50% to 60%+ of your calories from protein and 20% or less from carbs. The easiest source of protein are white eggs (in a carton), chicken (pre-cooked), beans (get low sodium), and protein shakes (whey during the day and casein at night). All these foods can be prepared with just the microwave.

Eating carbs is the easiest way to gain extra pounds. Removing carbs also removes any food coma you may experience after eating a meal, allowing you to be more productive.

I lost like 30 lbs without trying that hard by eliminating carbs and focusing on protein. The degree to which I'm in shape one day is correlated to how much carbs I have avoided in the previous few days.

And of course, take vitamin supplements. Throwing in some veggies for the fiber, or take fiber supplements.

b3b0p 6 days ago 4 replies      
I'm sorry, but I really disagree with any sort of dieting advice articles appearing on Hacker News for multiple reasons. Reading this thread only backs up my own thoughts and reasons why I dislike these articles.

First of all, everyone has their own idea of healthy.

Second, there are so many different diets, fads, foods, etc to eat or follow that's it ridiculous to even argue one way or another. Some eat lots of protein, some eat lots of fat, some eat low fat and high carbohydrates and everyone believes their method or means of eating is healthy. I'm sure no matter which way anyone argues there is a book, article, pubmed article to back up your ways. Making statements such as that can't be healthy, or you need to eat vegetables, fats, a certain amount of calories, and other similar statements is only someone else's opinion or belief and everyone is different.

Go with what makes you feel good. The best diet is the one you can follow. Listen to your body.

I would down vote this, but I can't down vote yet.

I'll probably get down voted for all this text, but I feel that strongly about this.

Frankly, what else bothers me is that almost any time someone expresses disagreement, they get down voted. Thus, people who disagree often times probably end up never posting.

dirtae 6 days ago 0 replies      
Broccoli crowns are on sale this week at Lucky (in the Bay Area) for $0.57 / lb. This should allow the OP to shave at least $0.50 per day from his food budget. :-)


As the co-founder of AnyLeaf, I talk to lots of people about saving on food and groceries. Some people "trade down" to save money, e.g., by replacing meat with beans. My personal strategy is to determine the diet I'd like to eat and that I consider healthy (the Paleo Diet, in my case) and then plan my shopping around the weekly sales offered by grocery stores. The variation in the price of a given item at a given store throughout the year is huge. Almost everything goes on sale for at least 50% off at one time or another. Also, every week there's almost always a good sale being offered on some product in every category (meat, seafood, fruit, vegetables, etc). A typical meal for me is meat or seafood with some vegetable and some fruit for dessert. If there's a great sale on chicken breast, I'll have chicken breast. If the sale is on ground turkey, I'll have ground turkey. Likewise with fruit and vegetable choices. Shopping this way is a low-effort (if you use AnyLeaf) way to save substantially without trading down and compromising your nutritional goals.

credo 6 days ago 2 replies      
The post doesn't explicitly mention this, but this $3/day diet is also a vegetarian diet (with milk being the only non-vegan item in it).
beagle3 6 days ago  replies      
He follows (old) USDA dietary recommendations, which stipulate no saturated fat, and 60% carbs. That is really, really bad. The ultimate reference is "Good Calories, Bad Calories" by Gary Taubes - it is meticulously researched and referenced, and is likely 40 years more up-to-date than your nutrition or medical professional.
chollida1 6 days ago 1 reply      
> Maintains the standard caloric ratios: 20-30% of calories from fat, about 10% from protein, and the rest from carbohydrates

This is the weirdest breakdown I've ever seen.

If you are at all concerned about lean muscle mass, and you should be if you want to be even the slighest bit athletic, then the minimum amount of protien you'd want is a half gram per pound of body weight.

Most people who work out or play sports try for closer to a 1 to 1 ratio.

This diet is severly messed up.

D_Alex 6 days ago 7 replies      
Can I ask: What is the motivation of trying to limit the cost of your food to such a low (for first-world) amount? I am really weirded out by the number of me-too responses, the philosophy of such extreme saving on food is alien to me.

For me, delicious food is near the top of my priority list. I really do not stint at all, my grocery bill is abt $40/day for 2 people... that is $15k/yr, such a bargain considering: rent+utilities on my modest apt is $35k/yr, 2 cars (Subaru+Toyota... not fancy) abt $20k/yr all up (I live in Australia).

Good food is such a bargain.

pitdesi 6 days ago 2 replies      
Random tangential thought:

There are many areas in the world where you can eat a lot more than this for $3 a day. I lived on $2/day in India for a year (was working in microfinance and wanted to live like my borrowers). I got full vegetarian meals made for me in a major city (Ahmedabad) at that price.

Something to consider.

orenmazor 6 days ago  replies      
as somebody who exercises a great deal (and consumes over 3000cal a day), I can't recommend egg whites enough. for $4 (canadian) you can get almost a liter at costco. construct your menu right, and you can easily consume a great deal of healthy food for very little.

another tip: while YMMV, stay away from most beans other than black or chickpeas. those are the ones that tend to cause the least disturbance in the force.

latch 6 days ago 2 replies      
I've mentioned it before, but anyone serious about this type of thing should get familiar with quinoa. It might be more expensive than rice, but it also contains a balanced set of essential amino acids - which is pretty rare for a plant. Most meals that call for rice can generally use quinoa instead, and you'll be much better off.
nickpp 6 days ago 1 reply      
No omega-3 oils. No greens. No fruit.

That can't be healthy...

malkia 6 days ago 0 replies      
Back in Bulgaria we used to have a farm (almost anyone had) at the "village" - e.g. the house that most city people would had at certain near rural place.

Mushrooms, chickens, tomatoes, cucumbers, etc. Now can't be certain how much it cost supporting, and also water, transport, etc. - but salaries were (and still are) very little compared to US. Granted some things are ten times cheaper, but then others reach the price of US (absolute prices, not average salary relative).

Homebrew alcohol (wine, liquior), preserved tomatoes, salads, fruits, etc. Homemade ketchup kind of like stuff was (and I guess still is) very popular.

Some people even made cheese from milk (for feta you need bulgaricus bacilicus, for cheese I think not). And off course milk from the cow.

photophotoplasm 6 days ago 1 reply      
> 6. Keeps saturated fat to a minimum

In case anyone's interested, this recommendation is long outdated.

You should be keeping trans fats to a minimum and trying to increase your polyunsaturated fats, but saturated fat is neither here nor there.

davidmathers 6 days ago 1 reply      
Golden Produce, a local shop

A few doors down from Golden Produce is El Castillito, the source of my staple food: the super carne asada burrito. At just over $8 it sounds more expensive, but OP doesn't mention how long his staple meal takes to prepare.

Preparation time is definitely a cost if you'd rather be doing something else. Like taking a walk to buy a burrito. So I don't think the $3 figure is entirely accurate.

This does make me curious about how my meal stacks up in terms of carbs/fat/protien/calories.

Dramatize 6 days ago 1 reply      
My wife and I lived off $2.80AUD a day while she was finishing her last year of Uni.
It was really rough and Lucy end up developing iron deficiencies.
dkarl 6 days ago 0 replies      
Doenjang and cheonggukjang (Korean fermented soybean products) are reputed to contain B12 and other B vitamins. They might be price-competitive with eggs, and they'd certainly add some welcome taste and variety. Unfortunately, I can't find any source for nutrition information. One would think they would be similar to natto, which has very impressive stats:


However, natto apparently doesn't contain much B12. Natto would be harder to find anyway (and harder to find cheap) since most large cities have Korean grocery stores that cater to budget-conscious customers. If you're looking for cheap, nutritious food, a trip to your local Korean store would be worthwhile for the chance to buy cheap rice and check out the nutrition information on the plastic tubs of doenjang. The cheonggukjang I've bought has not had nutrition information on the label, but it ought to be similar to doenjang or maybe natto.

feint 6 days ago 1 reply      
more people should write posts like this so the myth of "eating healthy is more expensive". And it doesn't need to be boring food like in this post. Italian peasants have been spending much less than $3 a meal for centuries and have one of the healthiest diets around.
eyeareque 6 days ago 1 reply      
If you live in Mountain View (or the bay area for that matter) go to 99 Ranch. It's an asian supermarket that smells like fish due to their huge live seafood section. If you can get past the smell you will be able to buy fruits and vegetables for extremely low prices. I can't believe how low their prices are some times. It is by far cheaper than Costco, Farmers markets, Safeway, and Nob Hill (from my experience).
ZoFreX 6 days ago 0 replies      
As someone who has suffered from pernicious anaemia, I heavily recommend against this diet. Vitamin B12 is extremely important and is not necessarily well absorbed through supplements (if you went to a doctor for B12 deficiency, you would be given either supplements or injections well beyond the 100% RDA amount). Eat food with it in instead, or even better, consult with a doctor or other relevant medical person before taking such risks with your health.
code_duck 6 days ago 0 replies      
That's about what I eat: home cooked beans, brown rice, random vegetables, some bread, nuts, olive oil, occasional cheese and milk, plus a vitamin.
jhuni 6 days ago 2 replies      
The real problem with this diet is it doesn't contain any fruits (Avocados, Cucumbers, Olives, Bananas, Grapes, Berries, etc). Our ancestors lived primarily on raw fruits so they are definitely the healthiest natural/uncooked foods for humans.
papa_bear 6 days ago 4 replies      
I feel like this might be a good time to plug my project: http://swole.me/

It's a diet generator I made over the past few weeks that promotes adhering to certain proportions of macronutrients. I'll probably make a full post about it when I add some more features/food choices, but so far it's been a great way to learn to program. If you use it, let me know if you have any feedback!

bdclimber14 6 days ago 4 replies      
This reminds me slightly of Tim Ferris' "The 4 Hour Body". Has anyone had any real experience with his suggested diets? I find eating consistent and similar meals is cheaper and healthier.
nanoanderson 6 days ago 0 replies      
This quote struck me as funny and sad:

"I'd rather buy the cheapest grains and vegetables than buy the cheapest meat. Bargain basement meat is likely produced in atrocious factory farming conditions and pumped up with hormones."

What gave him the idea that bargain basement vegetables are produced in any better conditions… or that they produce any better product (nutritionally speaking)?

kentosi 6 days ago 0 replies      
This is extremely awesome.

For those who feel hesitant about this (ie - not getting enough taste), I would recommend trying this for, say, breakfast and gradually increasing the frequency.

martinshen 6 days ago 1 reply      
Anyone recommend a site that can build a week's menu/grocery list based on approx budget etc.? I'd definitely use that product.
thenduks 6 days ago 0 replies      
Very interesting, almost makes me want to try it. But I'd like to see a version that isn't focused on price, but just on the 'healthiness' part. When it comes to eating right, money is no object.
edtechre 6 days ago 0 replies      
I am surprised the author did not mention eggs. A good source of protein, cheap, and they have a pretty good shelf life.
charlieflowers 6 days ago 2 replies      
I'd really like to see someone do an analysis like this, but including meat. I'm a meat lover, but would like to get an idea of just how cheaply I could eat healthily.
puredemo 6 days ago 0 replies      
Paleo > Legumes.
vipivip 6 days ago 0 replies      
Most Adventists live on this kind of diet, they are the healthiest individuals around the nation and they live the longest, just google Seventh Day Diet.
xriddle 6 days ago 4 replies      
Protein fail
Joel Spolsky: Lunch joelonsoftware.com
360 points by alexlmiller  6 days ago   197 comments top 71
edw519 6 days ago  replies      
I have always hated this and probably always will. I have rarely eaten lunch with my work mates. Just a few reasons why:

1. I don't want to talk about work at lunch.

2. I want to get out of the office and get some fresh air.

3. I often want to get away from the very people that Joel suggests spending time with on my break.

4. I'm a "food outlier". I hate pizza, deli, and fast food. I won't eat it away from work. Why should I eat it there?

5. Sometimes I want a beer with my lunch.

6. Sometimes I just want to close my eyes for 5 minutes.

7. If my work mates are talking about something other than work, I'm probably not interested. I'd rather chew razor blades than talk about traffic, weather, casino gambling, baseball, real estate taxes, gun control, politics, or Dancing with the Stars. I'd rather shoot myself than hear anything about their children.

8. If I am going to talk about work, I will want to bitch about the boss. Tough to do if he/she is there.

9. If I am going to talk about work, I want everyone else to talk freely and openly. This never happens. They will bitch about anyone else if they're not there, but when we're all together, they act like everything is just peachy. Phoneys.

10. "Enforced association" is phoney. I'd rather just make my own friends at work or out of work. So what if it appears to be a clique? All that means is that we are humans acting naturally.

spolsky 6 days ago 4 replies      
To those who thought that team lunch is "mandatory," you misread the article. It's not mandatory. You can go out instead. You can go to the gym instead. You can hide in your office and "free your mind" instead. You can bring your friends or family to our lunch. You can go out instead. You can take a picnic. You can come in after lunch and work late instead of working early.

I don't even think there's social pressure to go to lunch. People do because they enjoy it. Sorry if this wasn't clear from the article. It's not a weird cult where I'm forcing introverts into cult-like hanging out with people that they hate or already spend too much time with. That would be inconsistent with our goal of making a humane, friendly, and fun workplace, which was the point of the article.

We very rarely talk about work at lunch. I've never met anyone who visited us for lunch and thought that it was weird. I have met some pretty anti-social people in my time and some of them work for us and somehow they don't seem to mind sitting at the table during lunch and listening to everyone else enjoying the conversations.

cletus 6 days ago 1 reply      
This is something that varies depending on scale.

I work for Google in one of the larger offices (New York). Here we have several cafeterias. You go at anytime (in the meal times), take what you want, eat it there or eat it at your desk.

You can eat with team mates, by yourself, with friends from other teams, with random strangers or whatever.

I love this for several reasons:

1. There is obviously the cost aspect (not having to pay for lunch) but for me this is probably the least important part;

2. It saves so much time. Other places I've worked, going out to lunch means 30-60 minutes for a lunch break. Here you can eat and be back at your desk, if you want to, within a few minutes. Waiting for elevators, waiting in line, etc are all such incredible time wasters;

3. When choosing where to go and what to get for lunch, you're basically asking me to make decisions I don't care about. This I hate. Here I simply choose what cafeteria to go (typically the closest one) and take from the selection. I don't have to decide about where to go, what to get. I simply taken what's (generously) offered.

(3) for me is probably the most important. This one applies to software and hardware too and is (IMHO) one of the key reasons for Apple's success: Apple is unafraid and unapologetic about making most decisions for you. These decisions are right for most people most of the time.

Joel had an old blog post on this (probably the famous "Controlling Your Environment Makes You Happy" one that everyone should read) that said something like this: every option you give someone forces them to make a decision. I would go on to add that every decision has a cognitive cost, which simply annoys the decider if they're deciding on something they don't really care about.

Now, on a smaller scale I can see work lunches being a problem. If you need to be there at a set time, have limited opportunity for mingling or your team is so small that if you don't want to get stuck with someone (eg you don't like them or you simply don't want to talk about work).

So I see edw519's point. On a sufficiently large scale however, provided meals are fantastic.

DavidMcLaughlin 6 days ago 1 reply      

I'm sure anyone who has ever worked in a team where things weren't going so well has tried the whole "let's go to lunch together!" thing but it's never a solution.

Good teams tend to eat lunch together = true.
Good teams are good because they eat lunch together = false.

A good team evolves from a consistent and careful approach to hiring and organisation and when a manager groups people together based on common principals, approaches and motivating factors. Or they form themselves when people who realise they see eye to eye decide to team up and build stuff.

If people who don't agree on the basics or just plain don't get along get together and try to be productive, there will always be that loss of focus and resentment when compromises have to made. Getting together for one hour a day to make small talk doesn't change that.

msg 6 days ago 1 reply      
From "You and Your Research" by Dick Hamming:

Now Alan Chynoweth mentioned that I used to eat at the physics table. I had been eating with the mathematicians and I found out that I already knew a fair amount of mathematics; in fact, I wasn't learning much. The physics table was, as he said, an exciting place, but I think he exaggerated on how much I contributed. It was very interesting to listen to Shockley, Brattain, Bardeen, J. B. Johnson, Ken McKay and other people, and I was learning a lot. But unfortunately a Nobel Prize came, and a promotion came, and what was left was the dregs. Nobody wanted what was left. Well, there was no use eating with them!

Over on the other side of the dining hall was a chemistry table. I had worked with one of the fellows, Dave McCall; furthermore he was courting our secretary at the time. I went over and said, "Do you mind if I join you?" They can't say no, so I started eating with them for a while. And I started asking, "What are the important problems of your field?" And after a week or so, "What important problems are you working on?" And after some more time I came in one day and said, "If what you are doing is not important, and if you don't think it is going to lead to something important, why are you at Bell Labs working on it?" I wasn't welcomed after that; I had to find somebody else to eat with! That was in the spring.

In the fall, Dave McCall stopped me in the hall and said, "Hamming, that remark of yours got underneath my skin. I thought about it all summer, i.e. what were the important problems in my field. I haven't changed my research," he says, "but I think it was well worthwhile." And I said, "Thank you Dave," and went on. I noticed a couple of months later he was made the head of the department. I noticed the other day he was a Member of the National Academy of Engineering. I noticed he has succeeded. I have never heard the names of any of the other fellows at that table mentioned in science and scientific circles. They were unable to ask themselves, "What are the important problems in my field?"

justin 6 days ago 2 replies      
Interesting that there is so much anti-company lunch sentiment on HN. At Justin.tv we serve lunch (and dinner!) every week day. Originally, when we were much smaller, it started as a time saving measure (it was a lot quicker to get back to work than if everyone went out). Now, I see it as much more about giving everyone a chance to hang out and eat, and as a cost benefit to employees. If you don't want to eat at the big lunch tables, you don't have to. If you want to go somewhere else, you're welcome to. People do meet friends for lunch elsewhere, or bring them to the office for lunch.

At lunch, people rarely seem to talk about work (or at least, in a specific "x,y,z tasks need to be done" kind of way), and generally talk more about topics I can only really describe as technology and liberal arts. We don't really talk sports or reality tv, as pretty much no one in the office watches.

After lunch usually a few people play Street Fighter 4 for 20-30 minutes or so in our common area which adjoins the lunch room.

blhack 6 days ago 2 replies      
Lunch is also a really important part of my job. I run the IT department for a fairly small company (~200 employees).

Going to lunch with people affords me the opportunity to hear them complain about their job. Sometimes, although they might not realize, their complaints are things that I can fix for them. They're my best source of ideas for projects.

"GUH! I keep asking $so_and_so for new $office_supply, but I guess we're out of it, WTF!?"

Hmm...maybe we need an inventory tracking system for the office supplies?

"$so_and_so is gone today, and she is the only one with the $excel_spreadsheet on her computer. It sucks because I can't get ahold of her and I need $excel_spreadsheet!"

Well how can we solve this? Why aren't they using the file server for this stuff?

And so on.

wccrawford 6 days ago 1 reply      
At my last job, I ate my lunch 2-3 hours earlier than everyone else, thanks to dietary issues and the fact that I started work 3 hours earlier than they did. That meant I always ate alone.

But everyone else tended to bunch together. (The boss actually vetoed that, requiring that at least 1 person remain in the tech room. (Which was me, obviously.) After the team grew, it became '3' for the requirement.) They would all have lunch together, going somewhere they decided on, or playing pool upstairs in the breakroom.

It was obviously something that was strengthening them as a team, and despite my anti-social tendencies, I really wanted to join them.

I don't doubt for a minute that Joel is on the money with this issue.

mrcharles 6 days ago 0 replies      
At my last job, I had a really fantastic lunch group -- intelligent, inquisitive, and always wanting to talk shop. It was fantastic, I feel that I learned and grew more as part of the lunch group than with respect to a lot of other things I did at work.

At my current job, I'm sad, because generally I don't have anyone to do that with, as most people are only interested in empty socializing.

Frankly I'm so uninterested in my current job, I'd rather eat while working and go home that much earlier. Which is sad, but there you have it.

impendia 6 days ago 1 reply      
It seems there's an obvious middle ground which doesn't seem to have been mentioned by Joel or anyone else.

Being compelled to have lunch with colleagues every day sucks. Sometimes you are feeling cranky, want some fresh air, need to run errands, or have a hot date.

Not having the opportunity to lunch with colleagues also sucks. It provides a great opportunity for employees to get to know each other, make friends, and informally discuss company business.

Seems the onus is on the company to make lunch pleasant, and perhaps to steer newcomers into the middle of the crowd. After that, create the kind of environment where no one feels compelled to do anything, but employees want to eat with each other at least a lot of the time.

tomstuart 6 days ago 1 reply      
I need a break at lunchtime. For me that means sitting quietly, spending some time away from the effort of conversation, catching up on reading or taking the opportunity to think about ideas that have been on the back burner.

There goes my career at Fog Creek!

JCB_K 6 days ago 1 reply      
I remember my first day working at IKEA as a summer job. I was young, I didn't know anyone, I didn't know the culture. So I got my lunch, found an empty spot to sit, and was about to sit down. But I didn't sit down properly before someone came over from a busy table, asking me if I wanted to join them.

From then on I realized that the culture was that everybody always eats together there. That way I got to know loads of people, many of whom I otherwise never would've talked to because they'd work in an entirely different department. This is just 1 example of the awesome culture at IKEA.

droz 6 days ago 0 replies      
What a crock of shit.

This strikes me way too much of the, "I see people doing something I don't do, so there must be something wrong with them." mentality.

I like leaving the office. Go outside for a good long, quiet walk along the creek to think about non-work stuff. Or going home and enjoying some left overs.

When I come back to the office, I'm fully refreshed and ready to jump right back into things.

jfruh 6 days ago 4 replies      
Joel is obviously not aware of the differences between introverts and extroverts, which seems weird for someone who works in a field with a lot of introverts.

I'm not down on his idea of eating lunch together - it's probably fun and productive. But if someone spots me eating lunch by myself while reading (a book, a magazine, on my phone, on my computer), it's not because I "don't like people," or, sadder, that I pretend not to like people because I've been rejected socially. It's because I find dealing with people all day somewhat wearying and I enjoy having time to myself doing things that I like, such as catching up on reading I can't do during work hours.

mburney 6 days ago 0 replies      
I'd rather not be compelled to eat with co-workers at lunch. Lunch should be a time to do whatever you want. For things like meeting people/friends outside of work, having some quiet time to read a book, or going to the gym.

Some days I don't even feel like eating at lunch, and prefer to have a late lunch in the afternoon.

And why the compulsion to sit with people that I already interact with the entire day? Nothing wrong with being social with your co-workers, but it ought to be natural. This isn't kindergarten.

JabavuAdams 6 days ago 1 reply      
While there are some positives, to enforce this seems quite inhumane.

People often need a bit of space in order to work together better.

Also, in a group > 2 there's huge potential for conversational drift. So, if two people want to talk about a certain topic, it becomes too easy to derail.

Embrace the quiet.

jaysonelliot 6 days ago 0 replies      
I rarely get time to eat lunch. When I do, it's a precious 30 or 60 minutes of solace where I can actually get away from people and enjoy some time to myself.

Why on earth would I want to spend it jammed shoulder to shoulder with people chewing and talking about work?

bmccormack 6 days ago 0 replies      
One of the first things I noticed when I started working at Fog Creek is that most everyone in the office is always working and it stays pretty quiet. We rarely have meetings and individuals are able to remain focused on getting things done.

The office is generally quiet except for lunch. Lunch gets pretty loud when Fog Creek and Stack Exchange gather around two long tables to eat great food. Sometimes we talk about work, but most of the time it's off-topic. Occasionally people eat at their desks, but most of the time everyone is together for lunch.

The people I work with are incredible and I'm excited to join them for lunch every single day. Perhaps I get an extra boost at lunchtime because I'm an extrovert, but I think even the introverts enjoy this time together with great people.

I see a lot of comments here about how awful it is that introverts are forced to sit with others at lunch. I suppose that's possible, but I don't get the slightest impression from anyone that they'd rather be eating alone. Since most developers are shielded from distractions most of the day and are heads-down in code, lunch allows them to connect socially with other people at the company.

Maybe you'd have to experience lunch with great coworkers day-in and day-out to understand Joel's perspective. I couldn't agree more with what he wrote.

dwc 6 days ago 0 replies      
At my first real programming job we (developers) went out to lunch together every day. We went out to restaurants, not fast food. Lunch often took 1.5 hours and sometimes 2 hours. Our boss came with us. We were a small company, so there were only four of five of us, usually.

Sometimes we talked about work, and sometimes not. When we did, we often discussed higher level stuff rather than quotidian matters. We had our boss there, so anything we decided at lunch was ready to go ahead with.

Back at the office we almost never had to have meetings, because we didn't need them. This alone is pure gold.

Outside of work some of us were actively friends, and others not. But this really didn't change lunch. Nobody was forced to go to lunch, and there was no unwritten rule that non-lunchers were outsiders. It's that lunch was pleasurable, relaxing, with good food, and we naturally talked about what we had in common.

Since that time it's never quite reached that level, but I've come close occasionally. If you've never experienced it I imagine that it might be hard to grasp how nice it can be.

I think some of what I've said above is inline with what Joel is talking about, but it's a slightly different take. Make of it what you will.

garyrichardson 6 days ago 0 replies      
I guess I'm just a lone wolf who likes to get things done during lunch.

Typically, I go for a walk and get some errands done. Or sit quietly and reflect. Or I'll go have lunch with non-work friends.

Occasionally I'll go out with work friends.

hvs 6 days ago 0 replies      
Eating lunch together (whether to talk technology or just to socialize) is huge for building a cohesive team that works together and talks outside of the lunch room. Especially if you don't work with each other directly on a day-to-day basis, it helps to reinforce that you all work together rather than on separate teams.
kloncks 6 days ago 1 reply      
For those that are against spending time eating lunch with your co-workers, the following Tina Fey quote comes to mind (paraphrased. not exact):

Never work with or hire someone who you wouldn't want to run into at 3am.

barkingcat 6 days ago 0 replies      
I don't mind lunching together with a bunch of people if there is no pressure to join in with the "conversation" or the "group activity" at the table.

Sometimes I want to read the Bible at lunch. I don't mind if we talk shop about which chapters we're reading, which Biblical story best fits our challenges at work, or maybe even discuss differing viewpoints from differing faiths, etc, but a lot of times reading the Bible requires some personal concentration and contemplation.

In that case, I wouldn't mind eating at a big table - just don't expect me to join in talking about the latest movies, or which MacBook Pro is better to buy, or which web server we should use.

For me, I can handle reading in solitude while also being in the middle of a group. If the group of coworkers can understand and accept that idea, then I'm all for eating together.

However, if my religion makes other people at the table uncomfortable, I'd rather sit and lunch on my own.

jswinghammer 6 days ago 0 replies      
I'm definitely on board with this. My last job was pretty lonely until we all started eating together every day. Eventually our long table was taken away by HR and we had to find somewhere else to go. We all wanted to keep it though because it made work much better so we found a way to still eat lunch together.
wolter 6 days ago 0 replies      
I hate it when people assume that everyone else thinks the same way they do.

Just because you get lonely eating alone doesn't mean everybody does.

"Being in any clique, even if it's just the nerds, is vastly preferable than eating alone."

This is just bullshit. I don't want to be part of a clique. Or a group. Or anything of the sort. My lunch time is a time to get AWAY from people and recharge. Take that away from me and I get stressed out and my productivity suffers massively.

"For loners and geeks, finding people to eat with in the cafeteria at school can be a huge source of stress."

For a lot of us, feeling pressured into "socializing" because some bigwig decided that it's good for us is a huge source of stress. Just leave us be! Please! It's my time, so let me do my thing. Alone.

puls 6 days ago 1 reply      
I think Joel's article glosses over a point that most of the con arguments here don't notice: in order for this to work, you have to set up a group of coworkers who mesh spectacularly well.

Fog Creek has pretty obviously done that; it's one of their top priorities. I've worked at companies where lunch is communal and companies where it isn't, and it seems to me that the difference has less to do with personality types and more to do with cohesion.

Put differently, the types of teams who want to eat lunch together are the types of teams you should want to be on. The company shouldn't need to enforce it; they should just help to facilitate it.

abecedarius 6 days ago 0 replies      
This article could have extolled shared lunches without othering the people who sometimes eat alone as sad and less than human.
soitgoes 6 days ago 0 replies      
I prefer to grab a sandwich and go for a walk. This was especially true when I was contracting and based in interesting cities that were fun to explore.
hinchley 6 days ago 0 replies      
It seems Joel finds it difficult to believe that people can eat alone without being lonely. I am an introvert that is rejuvenated by spending time alone. I like eating lunch by myself. It helps clear my mind.

The idea that new starters are "not allowed to sit by themselves in a corner" is draconian, and in my case, it would prove counterproductive. It would make me feel like I was back in school, being told where to sit by my teacher. This is not the mindset you want to instil in your employees.

I think the best approach is to provide a working environment where people have the opportunity to gather together. Those that want to socialize can do so, and those that prefer periods of solitude aren't made to feel guilty for spending time alone.

gdulli 6 days ago 0 replies      
Joel's free to want to eat lunch however he wants, but who is he to decide that people who are happy to eat alone are "loners", "don't like people" or are pretending not to be sad?
jowiar 6 days ago 0 replies      
I think taking Joel's thoughts on lunch in isolation from his thoughts on workspace design is a mistake.

In my experience, when my workspace has been more quiet/isolated, I've enjoyed lunch as an opportunity to get to know colleagues, wrap my head around what's going on, and otherwise get my quota of human contact for the day.

On the other hand, in more "social" work environments, i.e. stereotypical startup open floor plan, lunch is a nice opportunity to escape, walk in the park, watch kids chasing pigeons, reset my brain, process the morning, and figure out the rest of the day.

As Joel is a huge advocate of private offices in the work environment, the social lunch is a natural compliment to that.

mkramlich 5 days ago 0 replies      
Joel's somewhat right and somewhat wrong. He's both. And for the record, I'll say right now, without reading even reading it yet, that whatever edw519 says on this topic is going to be golden and I'll agree with it. ;)

With that said, as I was reading the article, I kept thinking to myself, "The conditions where what Joel is saying hold true, and have the most benefit, are ones where you have a bunch of young adults, say early 20's or late teens, with lots of energy, lots of free time, a fairly simple life outside of work, little roots, and a sort of bright-eyed and arguably naive sense of wonder about things. Because then, by golly, you're just gonna lurv having lunch in a cafeteria with all your other young coworkers because you can goof around and talk about the latest Ruby PHP AJAX Agile blah blah blah blah or pop culture thing." And so I keep reading, and then there's this photograph of, ostensibly, their staff at the cafeteria table. And I see a lot of early 20's or late teens folks. Nailed it. Case closed.

Which isn't to say that older adults wouldn't like it. They do, clearly, sometimes. But when you're older and/or more experienced, or have a wider variety of interests, or more demands on your time, you're much more likely to want to either (a) spend time with friends/family during that period (meet them?), or (b) zone/veg out, or (c) knock out some non-work chores (appointment scheduling, calling people back, etc.), and so on. And bantering about tech stuff, again, further, in every spare moment, really grows old after a while. Once a geek, always a geek, but after you've done it for a decade or more, day in, day out, as a day job, a lot of people want to "claw back" as much non-tech/non-geek stuff then can into their lives, wherever they can find it. Speaking from direct experience anyway: doing mass grubs with all my corporate coworkers was kinda fun in my early 20's, but really loses its attraction by your 30's and beyond. Many people are just not that interesting to hang out with. And geeks, especially younger geeks, are often associated with annoying conversations and choice of topics -- though they usually mellow out with age.

yason 5 days ago 0 replies      
While some people certainly enjoy it, this kind of culture might be horrible for others.

I would detest it; I like to choose who I spend my spare time with, and for lunch that's often alone. Sometimes I go and have lunch with someone I consider a friend. Being just the two of us at least opens the window for good discussions.

Nothing against coworkers, really.

But it's hard to comfortably talk about anything else than work or perhaps some impersonal superficialities with people who aren't your friends in the deepest sense of the word. And I certainly do mind talking about work or impersonal superficialities when I'm supposed to have a nice time off to enjoy some food. It takes a special group where all members can talk openly about themselves without boring or irritating others; not going to happen at work.

One knows a friend when one sees one, and they're rare to come by. So the situation where most of your coworkers would also happen to be your friends is nearly impossible unless you only have one or two coworkers. I have one friend at work, another who's a very good acquaintance, but often I just hook up with some other friend not from where I work.

GrandMasterBirt 6 days ago 0 replies      
I am right now unable to have lunch with co-workers. I've always done the group lunch and would always make every possible effort to get as many people involved as possible.

The problem is that at some point, I simply run out of people :( I am not that much of a social person who comes up to random people and socializes with them very well, so its really hard for me now, I'm not getting my daily dose of talking to people, its maddening.

Talking about work or not is irrelevant. What is important is that the conversation is completely friendly, enjoyable by all, not stressful, and does not in any way require immediate action. Also it means that at any point we can go off on a completely different direction talking one moment about building software and the next about how cats decide that your keyboard is a backscratcher.

To be honest, the lack of socializing is demoralizing and depressing :(

thenduks 6 days ago 0 replies      
Unfortunately, eating lunch with a group of people every day tends to get very expensive. You either need to be working at a big company with a cafeteria (pass) or for a fancy place like FogCreek, otherwise it's $10-20/day to eat out all the time. Besides, I like to swing home and hang out with the cats sometimes, or work on a side project at my desk, or whatever.
masterponomo 6 days ago 0 replies      
I usually need to pinch a mega loaf right around lunchtime. I would love to do it earlier, but getting ready and commuting all use up too much time in the morning. Call me anti-social, but I treasure the "me time" that allows me to get it done w/o an unexplained long absence from my desk. Likewise, if I were expected to show up at the communal lunch table, I'm sure I would always be late and be met with snide remarks such as "everything come out all right?" and "out with the old in with the new, eh?" and other such witticisms. No, give me my very special session in the restroom followed by some time with my Kindle and a sack lunch in a quiet grotto, and I'm OK with the forced togetherness of the rest of the workday.
mdpm 6 days ago 0 replies      
The best place I ever worked at was small: ~7 people.

We ate together every day. Every day of the week, it was someone's duty to make lunch. I mean that, make it. You started an hour before lunch, went to the kitchen and made a meal. Generally a full hot meal. We got every variety you could think of - people enjoyed the time out creating someting different, something else for their co-workers to enjoy, and it Worked.

We got to sit outside, in the garden, next to the pool, and eat lunch (and yes, there was beer). And if it was Friday, well. Then we started a fire, and had some more beer. And there may have been instruments. And our respective children running about.

Not bad for a bespoke dev company. Not bad at all.

To address some of the other points raised in the comments -

No-one was forced to be there, if they wanted to go out for lunch they could. Few did, and rarely. More important than an individual's 'desire to associate' is whether they fit in. If they don't, they likely don't belong on that team. Ditto for if they can't communicate honestly (positively or negatively) about/with peers/managers.

kaitnieks 6 days ago 1 reply      
You can achieve the same effect with smoking pauses:

1. your mouth isn't stuffed and you can and want to talk during smoking. It's reflexive - as soon as you light the cigarette you're looking for a conversation;

2. you have more pauses per day;

3. the pauses are shorter;

Are there any downsides? Well, some say it's unhealthy... Anyway, I'm not smoking anymore, but back when I was, we solved lots of problems and came up with tons of ideas while smoking.

tomx 6 days ago 0 replies      
Do any other introverts feel this arrangement would affect them negatively? Subjected to this setup, it's likely I'd perform worse.

I work with some loud opinionated people all day, and look forward to my quiet walk around a park each day. Often I'm walking on complicated problems, and the last thing I need is an hour of listening to pointless arguments about movies or whatever.

simulate 6 days ago 4 replies      
How does a small company like Fog Creek handle ordering, delivery, and clean up each day? In the photo it appears that everyone is eating off of china with silverware. Do they maintain a cafeteria?
csomar 6 days ago 0 replies      
Being a geek and of an extremely different mind and culture than most of my peers, I usually find myself alone. I just fail to integrate since I'm quite different. Being alone, at lunch for example, was very stressful.

Lately, I found a friend of the same mind (or close) and he also don't succeed to integrate smoothly into the community (although better than me, but has a girl friend). I then discovered that he does spend a good amount of his time alone. He'll just get a coffee and sit their browsing on his smart phone.

After that, I take it easy finding myself alone, even if there are lot of people near me gathering, talking and laughing... It doesn't bother me any more, I'm actually better off with it.

dr_ 6 days ago 0 replies      
It's not always so easy for everyone to eat together however. People have different work schedules - different deadlines to meet, some may be working from home at times or while on a business trip, and for some, such as myself, lunch is really something I just kind of grab and go, don't really sit down for 30 min to 1hr and eat lunch. That's just my habit, it's a working lunch (although I make up for it at dinner)
Andys 5 days ago 0 replies      
This might work better where people have their own offices with doors that close. Where I work we are all in one room and so constantly sharing banter on and off all day.
dools 6 days ago 0 replies      
I can't stand the sound of other people eating. I would gladly eat lunch with my co-workers if I was allowed to wear headphones.
EGreg 5 days ago 0 replies      
My, this sparked a lot of discussion.

When I worked at a company, I used lunch as a chance to go out into the sun and maybe meet a random nice girl. Don't date people at work, they say ... and they're probably right. Sometimes I would invite my co-workers to a new place. Why eat in the same cafeteria all the time?

I basically used lunch as a social building time. but that's just me, I'm kind of bored just eating by myself.

bconway 6 days ago 0 replies      
I use my lunchtime for personal pursuits, like reading articles by Joel Spolsky.
ScreaminScott 5 days ago 0 replies      
I'm glad I found you all, 'cause I so desperately wanted to comment on Joel's post, but his discussion group is closed.

I'm one of those people who eats lunch alone everyday, mostly just to take a break from work and catch up on my reading.

So the statement that bothered me the most was this one: "Maybe they're reading a book or checking their email while they eat so they don't look sad"

I don't understand why so many people think that reading a book is only something you do, when you don't have anything else better to do. I read 2-3 books a month and lunchtime is when I get a vast majority of my reading done. It annoys me to no end when people interrupt me because they think I'm “lonely”. No, I'm READING! If I was looking for conversation, the book would be closed and I would be looking around to make eye contact. What part of the whole nose-in-a-book-with-a-totally-engrossed-expression do you not understand?

Having said that, I do think Joel simply makes the office environment conducive to eating together. I just hope he doesn't look down on people who don't take advantage of it.

mgcross 6 days ago 0 replies      
I spend my lunch hour at the gym. Since I've started this routine, I workout more frequently, feel like my workday is shorter, and love not having my workout hanging over my head after hours (when I need the time for helping kids with homework). If I don't go to the gym, I'll run errands or work on my own projects. I get enough socialization during meetings.
sterling 6 days ago 0 replies      
I am 49 years old and I work as freelance consultant on e-commerce projets. Honestly, it is impossible for me to work (which means mostly sitting) for 3-4 hours in the morning and 4-5 hours in the afternoon and also sit during lunch. If I do that I will either fall asleep or be unproductive for most of the afternoon. At lunch I spend at least one hour walking, running or biking. At the least I must get outside, whatever the weather.
mmagin 6 days ago 0 replies      
I like eating lunch with my coworkers some of the time. (Maybe once a week.) It's good team building.

However, I'm an introvert, and I pair program nearly every day. This tends to leave me wanting a nice break in the middle of the day where I can have some time alone. Also, my idea of a good/healthy lunch usually doesn't intersect with any sort of work-provided lunch, if such a thing is being provided.

mklappstuhl 6 days ago 0 replies      
Well, when I read the Twitter headline I was sure that this is a link I'd like to share with my coworkers. After reading it however it seems not to have much of content.

Some other reasons beside the obvious social ones:

1. If you aren't working on the same project you can use these lunch-discussions to generate ideas.

2. You can ask for feedback on any descision from people that are not actually involved in your project.

3. If you are working at a company where you can actually influence the company's principles, rules and processes you can make your job even better by improving the company's behavior. Which is far more fun if you are not doing it alone.

There are probably more reasons.
This article is really missing some substance beside the psychological impact of social interactions.
Common lunch can also provide value to the company itself.

balinvadasz 6 days ago 0 replies      
I think this is very important and not because of the fact that you're more likely to talk shop when eating with your team. What is more valuable IMHO is that you'll get to know your teammates better as _people_: what they like, their hobbies, their tastes their culture (if you're in such an team) etc. It's insanely interesting and valuable: it will make communication much smoother and misunderstandings much less frequent.
A team needs to gel and having common experiences outside of strict "work" settings is really important for that. BTW, this can't be forced but can be facilitated by creating the right conditions and I think that's what Joel's post is about.
One more thing: having lunch with people only loosely connected to your day-to-day activities is also very interesting and can lead to serendipitous insights about things totally in your area of expertise.
pauljonas 6 days ago 1 reply      
You know, my 1st instinct is to disagree vehemently with the sentiment here.

But if I reflect upon past job experiences, more often we (at least a good bit of the team) ate lunch together, the greater and more harmonious the team experience was.

neworbit 6 days ago 0 replies      
If this is a useful part of corporate culture here (it rarely is) that's one of the first reasonable arguments I've heard AGAINST telecommuting. In general, I think I'd opt for a telecapable workforce, but there's certainly some reasonability to adhoc meetings at lunchtime.
nikki9696 6 days ago 0 replies      
Why does Joel hate introverts?
jrs235 5 days ago 0 replies      
Points 8 and 9 are a result of not communicating and acting assertively. Stop partaking in, allowing, and accepting aggressive, passive, and passive-aggressive behavior and communication. This is what the higher ups in a company need to foster. I highly suggest reading "Life Would Be Easy If It Weren't for Other People" http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0803968655/ref=as_li_ss_tl?...
statenjason 5 days ago 0 replies      
My lunches are spent at the gym. Nothing helps me focus on work better than getting away for an hour or so.
s00pcan 6 days ago 0 replies      
dabeeeenster 6 days ago 0 replies      
Does Joel pay his staff for attending the lunches?
alienfluid 5 days ago 0 replies      
Interesting read, though as always, a little extreme. Eating lunch with co-workers 2-3 times a week is sufficient - sometimes you have a life outside of work too!

Also, I can vouch for the fact that cafeterias at Microsoft are NOT cheap - quite the opposite actually. You can get a better deal almost anywhere outside campus.

LOL @ "Excuse me, I'd love to introduce myself to you, but it's very important that I update my cabbage."

Eagleman99 5 days ago 1 reply      
I've often felt ostracized at my employer just for not following the rite/folklore of lunch together. Joel has a conflict of interest. As owner of course he stands to benefit if his employees went for lunch together, because inevitably they'd be talking about work, maybe even solving work-related problems in the process. While lunch is a great occasion for socializing - it'd be best to be up to the individual on how to spent that time.
sklivvz1971 6 days ago 2 replies      
I so wholeheartedly and completely agree with Joel. Things that really "make" a team:

1) Having lunch together
2) Having booze together
3) Going out together regularly

tt 6 days ago 0 replies      
Shameless plug for my own startup: for any San Francisco based company, Munchery is offering $50 off for any lunch or dinner order over $200.

We have multiple professional chefs who serve the entire San Francisco, cooking only sustainable, locally grown ingredients. Please ping me if you want to chat first.

mhb 6 days ago 0 replies      
An alternative might be afternoon tea.
oddthink 5 days ago 0 replies      
Huh. I've never worked somewhere where people do anything other than grab some food and eat it at their desks. Who has time to actually go out for lunch?

One advantage of the open, trading-floor layout is that you can chat with the people around you, if you want.

projectileboy 6 days ago 0 replies      
As @paul says: "limited life experience + overgeneralization = advice"
luke_osu 6 days ago 0 replies      
My experience has usually been that lunch with coworkers is awkward. Most people just sit on their iphones and no one really talks. The conversations seem forced. Maybe I have worked at the wrong places but this is my experience at the places I have been.
yannk 6 days ago 0 replies      
I thought Joel stopped blogging?
SebMortelmans 6 days ago 0 replies      
I always felt there is something special about sharing food with others, it gives a sense of bonding rarely seen elsewhere.
For building up a great company culture, food plays in my opinion a pretty big role on many layers.
mikegreenspan 6 days ago 1 reply      
What is the best way to meet new people during lunch at a company cafeteria?

This summer, I visited a friend at Google and stayed for lunch (the food is incredible, better than most five-star restaurants btw). That day I noticed the same problem this article highlights. Either groups are meeting during lunch, or the remaining "loners" are reading the latest tech news on their computers and appear completely unapproachable. So if you don't want to eat alone and want to make new friends, what is the optimal way to overcome these barriers?

helwr 6 days ago 0 replies      
Building a Web Application that makes $500 a Month " Part II tbbuck.com
332 points by mootothemax  7 days ago   46 comments top 18
patio11 7 days ago 3 replies      
Congratulations. That's a nice milestone to hit, and I'm sure bigger and better things are in your future. Mind if I give some advice (take with a grain of salt)?

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5) "Try for free" should probably be orange (test test test) and you probably want the hero screenshot to link to that, too. If you installed CrazyEgg you would quickly see that it gets clicked more than anything on the page.

jxcole 7 days ago 2 replies      
I love these articles. As much as I respect people who quit their jobs and start wonderful and vast new companies, I don't feel this path is for everyone. It's nice to hear about a success story from someone who has a side project; something that actually does generate small amounts of revenue but doesn't consume the author's life.

I would like to have a project like this. Keep the articles coming, I'd love to hear more.

mootothemax 7 days ago 2 replies      
Hi everyone,

Author of the blog post here, if you have any questions or feel that I've missed something out, please feel free to ask me :)

Previous discussion of part I is here: http://news.ycombinator.net/item?id=2471130


wbhart 7 days ago 1 reply      
OK, here is my experience with the main page. I'm not a marketing expert, but maybe my comments might still be useful.

* Oh, nice professional looking website
* First look to left middle "Tweeting machine"
* Read the catch line about it being a FB/Twitter tool
* Hmm, yeah, but what does it actually do?
* Look to right pane. Bleh, looks like an FTP login shell. Oh wait, "Time to send", oh yeah, I think I remember this website popping up on an aggregator somewhere before. It's that one that lets you send out your tweets at a specified time. Not sure how I'd know that just looking at the screenshot though, unless I'd read about it before.
* Look to top of page. "Twitter machine ". Wait, what's the star. Is there some fine print somewhere I'm missing.
Look to bottom of page.
* Schedule tweets. Yep it's that one I read about. That's the killer feature.
* Auto follow. Hmm, suppose that could be useful. Would be nice if there were lots of interesting features like that.
* Auto unfollow. Hmm, not useful. The Queen and Wikileaks are never gonna follow me. But I sure want to follow them.
* Eventually spot the $19.99/month. Wait, didn't the blog say $19.99/year. Yeah it did. Oh wait. Looks like he changed that to $19.99/month. No WAY I'm gonna pay $19.99 per month. Do I pay for Twitter and Facebook? No, I don't think I do (checks credit card bill).
* Hmm, what happens if FB and Twitter implement these features. This guy will be sunk.
* Finally, after some minutes of puzzlement, thinks. Who is actually the market for this? Oh, I know, maybe people who want to send out tweets to thousands of people and who have thousands of friends on FB. Maybe people making money from being on social media. Advertisers. Spammers. People putting on concerts. Famous celebrities.
* Hmm, so after all that, maybe this app is not aimed at me.

Anyhow, wishing you the best of luck with it. And again, I'm not an expert in any sense of the word. The above is just my honest reaction as I checked it out.

jschuur 7 days ago 0 replies      
Any noticeable subscriber increase since you posted the first article on HN?
guynamedloren 7 days ago 1 reply      
mootothemax - thanks so much for this series. I loved the first post and was anxiously awaiting this one. It met and exceeded my expectations, packed with great advice and insight. That being said - the language seemed a bit rushed at times. Please run through it and fix grammatical errors - just a nit-picky thing :)

Oh, and I have a few quick questions on gaining initial users. Other than mass-mailing bloggers and submitting to twitter directories, what have you done to bring traffic to your site? Also, I'm interested to know unique visitors vs. free users vs. paid users, as I'm sure many others here are wondering as well. Do all free trials end up converting to paid users? Also, how have you handled existing customers when experimenting with price changes? Do you keep them on the plan that they signed up with, or do you apply the price changes to ALL customers? Please share with us!

ohyes 7 days ago 2 replies      
I have a comment about your site:

(full disclosure: I don't have any expertise about marketing, or entrepreneurship or anything at all really)

This may be my stupid showing through but on the front page, it looks like a piece of software that simply schedules tweets. That is a useful tool, but not something i'd pay $20 a month for considering I would probably just do it myself.

It would be good if there were a little user story or something about how this service will make my tweeting easier and save me a ton of time during my daily life on the world-wide-inter-tweets... Also, it would be good to have a price on the front page. I'm hesitant to click the 'try for free' button, because if I like it, it might be too expensive and then I would be sad.

jasonlotito 7 days ago 1 reply      
How much time do you spend supporting/interacting with your users? Have you had to sell any of them on your product directly?
chopsueyar 6 days ago 1 reply      
Good article, and I wish you continued and even greater success!

When you try Adwords, keep in mind your CPA (cost per acquisition) profitability should not be judged solely on a single month's price.

If you find out most of your users stick around for 3 months, and you are charging $20/month, the average signup is worth $60. But if you spend $30 in Adwords and get a single signup, and think it isn't profitable because you spend $10 more than the signup, it is a mistake. Over the next two months you will make a $30 profit.

Of course, this is over a three month period. But, if you have enough sign ups in the pipeline, you can see how well this works out.

christonog 7 days ago 0 replies      
Great story. How has the TweetingMachine affiliate program worked for you?
namank 7 days ago 0 replies      
This is pretty amazing and inspiring! Hey care to share the conversion rates - so how many visitors sign up for the trial and then how many of those end up paying?
perssontm 7 days ago 0 replies      
Your entire portfolio is very well executed, I might not agree about the usefulness of them all, but you've done it nicely and professional. An inspiration! Thanks for sharing!
simonista 6 days ago 0 replies      
I'm curious which paypal product you use, and how it's working out for you?
jhack 7 days ago 1 reply      
Excellent series of articles, really enjoyed reading them.

I think the problem for a lot of people is coming up with that initial idea, that spark to get things moving. It's really difficult, I find, to come up with something that hasn't already been done before or is already better than what's in my head. I hope to reach your point some day, heh.

patja 7 days ago 0 replies      
It says it is a twitter and facebook tool, but none of the items on the "features" page (or anywhere else that I could find) describe what exactly it brings to the table with respect to facebook, other than the ability to authenticate with a facebook account.
Hipchan 7 days ago 1 reply      
Congrats, and nice writeup. Thank you very much.

What's your most important sources of traffic?

Do you spend any money on getting users?

k00k 6 days ago 0 replies      
FWIW, I would move the mailing list form out of the main call-to-action area as it visually interferes with the "Try for Free" button. Maybe move it to the black bar below that and center it. Could possibly reduce the size of its elements a bit too.
tkumarr 5 days ago 0 replies      
Awesome buddy thnx...
Vico Editor (Mac text editor) vicoapp.com
321 points by tortilla  3 days ago   134 comments top 48
llimllib 3 days ago 2 replies      
:q in a split should close that split, not kill the whole app. I can't use this app until he fixes that, because that shortcut is hardwired into my brain.

There's definitely some neat stuff in there, though.

tednaleid 3 days ago 3 replies      
Nice start, looks like a nice bridge to Vim for textmate users.

It's missing a few of the basic vim movement commands (which I have on a wallpaper I put together http://naleid.com/blog/2010/10/04/vim-movement-shortcuts-wal...), but has most of the big ones. The ones I use quite a bit that don't seem implemented are:

C-d - half page down

C-u - half page up

ge/gE - go to the end of the previous word (you do have e/E for next word)

( - previous sentence

) - next sentence

tortilla 3 days ago 2 replies      
Just started playing with it and it looks very promising. No screenshot on the site, so here's mine:


Neat, my TextMate themes were automatically found by Vico.

johnthedebs 3 days ago 0 replies      
This app looks great, and for those looking to dip their toes into vi-style editing this may be the best starting point.

As someone who's already gone up the Vim learning curve, though, I'd like a way to use all the customizations I've already collected. There doesn't seem to be a way to accomplish this now, but I'll be keeping an eye on it.

jpcx01 3 days ago 2 replies      
Looks great. I try just about every one of these new options. Kodapp was my last one, but it didnt last (back on textmate). I'll give this a try as well. It looks like it has even greater potential.

TextMate is a joke. Nothing worse than missed opportunity. Such a huge community behind it and MacroMates seems completely incapable of providing a new release.

nicklovescode 3 days ago 0 replies      
I've been searching for this for a long time. If you opensource this, I will become an active contributor.

Something things:

Padding on the left file pane would be nice. http://cl.ly/3m223V172r3R3b1B1P1A

Also, with the left pane, some way to navigate between files like NERDTree allows would be useful.

vi' and similar should be supported. It means visual select inside quotes.

If you use command-w to kill the last open tab, so that nothing is open, you can't use the command-line ':', which is useful when changing directories to work on another project

Again, I love this project

X-Istence 3 days ago 0 replies      
I like the editor, but I don't like the fact that it is time limited to just 5 days. Yes I understand that you want people to download the latest and greatest for testing, it just seems wrong.

Overall it looks fantastic, but I am pretty dead set on my MacVim ways with my various plugins that it is going to be hard to get me to switch.

fbuilesv 3 days ago 5 replies      
Am I the only person who thinks that tabs don't scale in editors used for programming? I tend to have a lot of files opened at the same time (currently at 143 in Emacs) and I can quickly switch to any of these with a couple of keystrokes. Most of the Textmate users I've seen don't even care about the tabs in the editor, they just press Cmd-T and type the name of the file.

Is people doing something else with tabs that I'm missing here?

hieronymusN 3 days ago 2 replies      
I've already made the switch to MacVim using Janus - https://github.com/carlhuda/janus but Vico could be interesting. The biggest win here, like with Sublime Text 2, is being able to split the window into panes, which is something I've wanted in TextMate for years. However, what I really want is to be able to open a different file in the other panes, not the same file I have open.

[edit] Okay just figured out how to open different files in split panes. It's a little non-intuitive (you have to select the pane and the use the Open Files drop down, and have that file open in another tab (?!)). Would be nice to be able to select that pane and then just click the file I want in there in the Explorer.

Would really like to have some integration with Git. I don't see the Git .tmbundle available in the list.

It would be nice to be able to bring over a lot of the features of Vim, or maybe you can and I don't see it.

Looks like it's scriptable with Nu - http://programming.nu/index - which I haven't heard of.

The symbol list on the right is also great, makes jumping to methods a breeze with nice animated highlighting. I'm really starting to dig this.

singular 3 days ago 0 replies      
Very nice work.

I've been getting irritated with emacs'... rough edges a lot lately and am tempted to scratch my own itch with an emacs slant :-)

jarin 3 days ago 1 reply      
Ok, so playing with this for a bit I just realized how much I miss TextMate's tab triggers. I hope this project goes forward, especially if it either a) gets open sourced, or b) gets other developers on board. I'd hate to see it go the TextMate route of getting popular and then taking forever for new releases to come out because the sole developer gets burnt out.

A few things that would be nice:

- Command line launching (like the "mate" or "mvim" commands)

- Ability to edit tmbundles within the app

- Downloading tmbundles seems to duplicate tab triggers

- Snippets still use hard tabs even if you've selected space-based indentation (soft tabs)

- Hitting backspace when you are using soft tabs and are in the "indentation part of the line" should go back that number of spaces instead of just one

Vico is like so close to becoming my main editor, if only these things are fixed. As others have said, a .vimrc-style config would be cool (as would a :retab command), but those aren't deal breakers for me like the above things are.

nlh 3 days ago 0 replies      
Another comment that this looks great! I've been using MacVim as my main editor and love it, but totally appreciate the polish of Vico -- looks wonderful.

My wishlist, right off the bat (note I know some of this might be unreasonable, but that's why it's a wishlist ;) Mostly centered around a quick transition from MavVim to Vico...

* Would be excellent if I could import a vim colorscheme

* Would be excellent if it could read/use my .vimrc

* Would be _excellent_ if it supported vim bundles/add-ons, but I know that's basically asking for vim :)

* In editing a Ruby file, I wrote 'def' it colored and indented my second line, but only colored my 'end' -- didn't outdent it properly. Small annoyance. Also would be great if I could configure it to auto-insert an 'end' for every 'def' or 'Class' or 'if' etc....

Keep up the great work and get an RSS feed up on your blog so we can keep track of updates...

albertzeyer 3 days ago 1 reply      
So sad that this is closed source. It looks very nice but I feel very uncomfortable knowing that if there are any issues which bug or annoy me or things I would like to have but which do not exist yet, I can do nothing about it.
endlessvoid94 3 days ago 0 replies      
Excellent. A quick note: :q when in split-pane mode will close everything, not just the current active buffer.
comex 2 days ago 0 replies      
> strong focus on keyboard control (vi key bindings)
> scriptable in nu

I'm sure nu is million times better than Vimscript, and it probably wouldn't be hard for me to port my half dozen custom key bindings to it, but vim has a lot of existing plugins...

It's definitely not as fun to implement, but I'd much prefer to see a custom GUI that's really vim under the hood.

statictype 2 days ago 1 reply      
I really wish MacVim would somehow build the NERD_Tree plugin into the native chrome of the editor. Either as a drawer (like TextMate) or a source list like this one. That, combined with the Command-T and snippetsEmu plugin would complete MacVim as the perfect text editor on OSX for me.
cpeterso 3 days ago 0 replies      
* The Vico "blog" does not have an RSS feed, so it's not easy to track future announcements about Vico.

* Firefox's AdBlock seems to be blocking your hotlinked Twitter icon, so there is no obvious Twitter link to follow. The "Follow Vico on Twitter" text should probably be included in your <a href>.

Tycho 3 days ago 0 replies      
I'm never quite sure if all these Vim commands people rave about are any better than judicious use of the alt/option, shift, command and arrow keys with the default Mac behaviour.

Although one essential change to the defaults is to remap CapsLock to be the same as Control --see System Prefs-- and then using Control-F to move the cursor forward one. Helps you get past automatically inserted closing brackets with minimal hand movement. I find that really tedious and annoying otherwise.

asolove 2 days ago 0 replies      
I just want to say that this is a fantastic app and fits a longing I didn't even know I had. While a lot of comments below note nitpicks, I want to just commend the author for a fantastic product. I hope it advances and is for sale soon!
growt 2 days ago 1 reply      
If you use peepopen (http://peepcode.com/products/peepopen) put this line in your keys.nu (inside the app bundle):

(nmap map:"<ctrl-a>" to:"!!open 'peepopen:///path/to/your/code/folder?editor=vico'; return true; <CR>")

ctrl-a will then open peepopen and the selected file will be opened in vico.

AndrewO 2 days ago 0 replies      
So any word on if it'll be closed or open when it's done? I wouldn't mind paying (especially if that would speed delivery of a usable product), but I'd be worried about it becoming abandonware a couple years later (cough TextMate).
sudonim 3 days ago 1 reply      
Really nice start! I've been enjoying modal editing in Vim. One of my pain points is that I feel like I don't have a lot of control over which buffer I'm closing when I :bd or what will happen when I open a new file when selecting it in Nerdtree. Sometimes it replaces a buffer, other times it splits the window. Im sure it's me not understanding how vim works, but I seem to get the mental model in Vico a little better. Bravo!
uniclaude 3 days ago 0 replies      
Good start !
It seems a bit heavier than MacVim (bigger memory footprint), but the simplicity of configuration and the textmate bundles will surely make it very nice for users coming from mainstream text editors.
Focusing on a clear and usable OS X experience is definitely the way to go.
frsandstone 3 days ago 2 replies      
If Textmate 2 isn't released soon it may be in trouble. This looks awesome.
benologist 3 days ago 0 replies      
This looks nice. I've been trying to find a text editor that doesn't make me completely uncomfortable since I moved to mac but after years of EditPlus (editplus.com) everything's felt so awkward, especially since I can't even figure out how to get the file/folder navigation panes to show in anything lol.
whalesalad 3 days ago 0 replies      
Ugh why the fuck did it steal all of my file associations.
mtgred 2 days ago 0 replies      
Text objects aren't implemented (:h text-objects). This alone is a deal breaker as I can't live without them. Please add this.
akent 3 days ago 1 reply      
I agree with Mark Pilgrim: http://diveintomark.org/archives/2007/01/21/wrongroom

Here's the basic problem: you're writing a text editor. Stop doing that. It's 2007. Saying to yourself "I'm gonna build my own text editor" is as silly as saying "I'm gonna build my own build system" or "I'm gonna build my own amusement park."

epynonymous 3 days ago 1 reply      
several comments, i'm certain someone already mentioned this but you really need to have screenshots on your webpage. anyway, i downloaded the app and my first impression is that this is quite utilitarian though it has a nice cocoa frame. i like the color schemes that you have for default, the page margin and line numbering is essential.

keep up the good work, this has potential.

emehrkay 2 days ago 0 replies      
I love how the prospect of a new text editor gets us excited. Can't wait to try this out later!
xtacy 3 days ago 0 replies      
Would Vico also have support for emacs keybindings? :-)
pdenya 3 days ago 0 replies      
I won't be switching from coda until this is more polished but looks like it could be a contender.

Another screenshot: http://ydeck.com/vico.png

beck5 3 days ago 1 reply      
This could be very good, I am still trying to find my perfect editor Vim's learning curve & interface means occasionally I just open up sublimeText2/TextMate.

Great to see split views are there from the start.

lordlarm 3 days ago 0 replies      
With only one file open, and by pressing :q I want to go directly to the Explorer and not close the program. This is the behavior to NERDTree, and I'm used to it.

Great program though. Keep up the good work.

andrew_wc_brown 3 days ago 3 replies      
The only thing I want in vim is tabs, since I felt that it was faster to switch between tabs in TextMate than having to Command+T everything.
gourneau 3 days ago 0 replies      
I like this a lot. Simple, VIm keybindings, Python symbol discovery, beautiful mac goodness.
ujeezy 3 days ago 0 replies      
Love it! I was seriously considering wrapping MacVim in some sort of Cocoa app with a file drawer, and I'm glad I didn't have to go down that rabbit hole. Very excited to watch this develop :)
eykanal 3 days ago 0 replies      
Very nice! I'm a vim novice, but I use it a lot to make quick changes to config files. Is there a good vim help resource that could be integrated in to this program for newbies like me? There are many things I like about vim, but I'm always forgetting keybindings.

Excellent program, though! I look forward to watching it as it develops further!

ozataman 3 days ago 0 replies      
Looks great. Any chance we can get it to understand our .vimrc files? Maybe even (some) plugins?
philc 2 days ago 0 replies      
For those who really want "TextMate + vim", until the newer options mature, you can try this.


deffibaugh 3 days ago 3 replies      
I really want to try out vim and tiling wm setup. Is this a good place to get my feet wet? I was going to just set up VM of ArchLinux.
scott_to_s 3 days ago 0 replies      
This is _exactly_ what I'm looking for. I've been using MacVim and Janus with good results, but this has so much promise.

Looks like Visual Block Mode isn't yet supported... did anybody find this?

risico 3 days ago 0 replies      
I look forward to the SFTP feature, a zone where Vim isn't confortable.
Andi 3 days ago 0 replies      
It inacceptably blocks when accessing a Macfuse volume. But the whole design looks very good.
pakeha 3 days ago 0 replies      
First impressions are extremely positive. Is there a mailing list or anything yet? I would love to provide feedback and in return be able to follow the development progress.
sibsibsib 3 days ago 0 replies      
I'm impressed so far. I've been looking for something like this.
grandalf 3 days ago 1 reply      
Can anyone tell me why vim is better than emacs? I've been happily using emacs for a few years but would switch if vim is really better.
thaumaturgy 3 days ago 2 replies      
> You need Mac OS X 10.6.6 to run it.

sigh. No joy for PPC users, again. This is a huge part of why I'm not sticking with Apple hardware again once I replace my laptop.

Why I, Jeff Bezos, Keep Spending Billions On Amazon R&D sfgate.com
318 points by rrrgggrrr  7 days ago   124 comments top 12
jordanb 7 days ago  replies      
Judging from things Steve Yegge has written about Amazon, and from friends of mine who have worked there, I don't get the impression that Amazon is a company dedicated to technical excellence.

In particular I seem to recall something about 40 million lines of C++ code in their core product, and about mediocre engineering talent and high levels of burnout due to the technical debt they're required to deal with...

In fact, ever-increasing engineering costs would be just as indicative of mounting technical debt as it would of an increasing commitment to R&D.

vaidhy 7 days ago 1 reply      
Disclaimer:I work at Amazon as a dev manager.

Working at Amazon does mean that you need to work hard, long and smart. There is a lot of technical debt to deal with too. But the technical debt did not come from bad design, but from the way business grows and changes. There is a 20% growth YoY. Inventories run into millions of products across multiple warehouses. We ship through multiple means and we ensure the product shipped reaches the customer on the promised date at over 95% of the time.

In real life, this means that you are going to have trade-offs and some of the trade-offs do turn into technical debt. What we do with the debt is more important and amongst my groups, we are decreasing the debt by leaps and bounds.

If you want to see how it is, give me a shout. We are hiring, as usual :) I can take resumes in any format too :)

prpon 7 days ago 1 reply      
That letter is so geeky, I doubt if 90% of amazon investors would get the things he was explaining.
As a geek though, I love it.
px 7 days ago 0 replies      
Investors want higher margins but obviously Amazon is investing substantially in itself. So far, though, Bezos seems to be winning the tug of war. Many analysts are glad to see higher revenue and feel that Amazon is cementing its position at the top of the ecommerce world. AMZN shares are up over 5% despite the earnings miss.
javanix 7 days ago 3 replies      
The end result of all this behind-the-scenes software? Fast, accurate search results that help you find what you want.

Has Bezos ever actually used Amazon's search functionality?

I know it isn't the easiest problem in the world to solve, but their search is by far the worst of any of the major shopping sites that I use on a regular basis.

cmelbye 7 days ago 2 replies      
This is only slightly on-topic, but regarding the service-oriented architecture that he mentions at the beginning of the article, how would one implement this internal? Specifically, how would you communicate with your internal services? Just an HTTP API? Is that fast enough? Another thing I'm wondering is what's the best way to handle internal authentication between your frontend and some backend service for example? Sorry if this is too specific for this discussion, but I've just always wondered this and I figure that HN knows.
czhiddy 7 days ago 5 replies      
Interesting how AMZN jumps 5% after missing earnings, yet GOOG drops nearly 10% with nearly the exact same results (increased hiring and expenses resulting in lower than expected profit).
sahillavingia 7 days ago 2 replies      
TWADDLE 7 days ago 1 reply      
Its funny how people seem to be whining about Amazon.

In fact Amazon is one of the best places in terms of innovation. In addition to having a strong core business, they also have AWS, kindle, android app store.

Who cares if their legacy codebase is 40 milllions lines of C++ and not your hip Ruby or LIPS nonsense. The truth is that they get work done. AWS is one of the best cloud computing system out there. Nothing else comes even closer. Dropbox, Heroku and Reddit all rely on them.
Who cares if they take resume in word format, they pay well.

Its sad to see HN turning into a language fanboi and apple fanboi club.

The AWS EC2 outage did not even affect 0.01% of their revenue.

revorad 7 days ago 2 replies      
PR damage control?
aphexairlines 7 days ago 0 replies      
I wish the company would reveal some information on the internal systems he outlined in his letter. Amazon's architecture is impressive and its infrastructure teams build great stuff to help developers get their work done & deployed.

Exposing these things would be a powerful recruiting tool.

spinchange 7 days ago 1 reply      
This is instructive. Google's stock might not have tanked as hard the other week if LP had come out and placated the street with some jargon like this, re: Google's also ballooning expenses.
Your taste is why your work disappoints you. kottke.org
319 points by entangld  7 days ago   57 comments top 22
SandB0x 7 days ago 2 replies      
Contrast with _why:

"when you don't create things, you become defined by your tastes rather than ability. your tastes only narrow & exclude people. so create."

schrototo 7 days ago 2 replies      
Don't forget to watch the other parts of the interview as well, it's great stuff. Part two especially should also resonate with everyone who does something creative .

[1] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=loxJ3FtCJJA building blocks of stories; very well illustrated!)

[2] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KW6x7lOIsPE (kill your darlings, failure is part of success, you don't want to be making mediocre stuff)

[3] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BI23U7U2aUY (taste & disappointment)

[4] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=baCJFAGEuJM (common pitfalls of making stories; be yourself; what's interesting isn't only your take of things, it's seeing you interact with other people)

edit: fixed the links

yason 7 days ago 3 replies      
This is very true. I think that a good taste is always ahead of one's works, almost by definition. I've never heard of an artist or a programmer who could just do exactly whatever they envisioned instead of a feeble attempt only.

(I bet Leonardo was never too happy with the smile of that little Mona Lisa either and probably couldn't really put his finger on what it was that he really wanted but couldn't just do.)

The counterpoint is that in order to live at least a relatively enjoyable life you will have to learn to cut yourself some slack. You have to have somebody, preferably yourself, to tell you that "This is enough effort; this is good enough for now and given your skills you've done well." Not that you could ever give up on your taste but I think that the acceptance of "I'm not good enough yet for what I want but that's okay because I haven't given up either" is what will eventually propel you to eventually accomplish even better works.

yesbabyyes 7 days ago 1 reply      
I'm 33 and I've been programming for almost 20 years. Rarely does my work not disappoint me still. It is getting better, though.
DamagedProperty 7 days ago 2 replies      
The one valuable key I have found to becoming better at your craft is to improve your identity. I have been studying accelerated learning for many, many years. How we identify with what we are doing has a dramatic impact on our performance and ability to learn. Identity is one of those strong beliefs we hold about ourselves and our capabilities.

Writing code is the best and only way to improve. But as everyone is aware this does not guarantee you become a better programmer. Over time I think everyone does to some extent but some become better quicker. What is the difference? I believe it is what we believe we can do.

I have taught many people how to play guitar. I always start by teaching them the basics and looking for my opportunity to convince them that they are now a ‘guitarist'. Because they will never continue and fall in love with it until they can find some way to identify with it.

xutopia 7 days ago 0 replies      
I'm an amateur chef and I cook for friends and family all the time. They're often happier than I am about the meal because I know it could be way better.
ErrantX 7 days ago 0 replies      
Yes, absolutely true. Anecdotally the first couple of novels I wrote (unpublished) disgusted me. I know the stories I want to tell and all of the things that make books in my genre (fantasy and historical fiction) suck. But I found myself reading the semi-finished work and finding the same plot holes and problems.

#2 was better than #1. And #3 is looking better and better as it goes on (I enjoy reading it, which is a good start :)).

Same with programming. I have scratty bits of PHP code from a couple of years ago that make me cringe. Today I am writing the same functionality - it still sucks, but not quite as much as it used to.

Geee 7 days ago 1 reply      
Good artists copy, great artists steal. To develop good taste you need to observe lots of other, better work and try to understand what makes them so. Taste isn't something you inherently have.
kadavy 7 days ago 0 replies      
As someone who is "finally" starting to find success in my early 30's, this is something I think of a lot.

Think of all of the famous people you know of, who are doing great work right now. Now look at how old some of them are.

Steve Carrell is 48 years old. Jon Stewart is 48. Louis C.K. is 44.

All of them are great at what they do, but how old were they when they finally reached the top of their professions? Sure, you can think of small gigs they had in the decades before, but just think of how long they had to work at what they did to get where they are. I always wonder how often they came close to quitting. (I remember hearing an interesting story about this from Louis C.K., but I don't remember the details)

To do great creative work, you not only have to love it enough to work that hard at it, yes, you have to have incredible taste to always be finding that one little thing that you can improve - for decades and decades.

zcid 7 days ago 0 replies      
I think that is one of the most insightful and meaningful (to me) interviews I've heard in a while. When he plays his old piece and completely lambasts it, I felt amazingly inspired that, maybe, in 10 years I will be able to look back and say the same about my own work. But at the same time be extremely happy about it because I'll know that I'm well beyond where I am used to be.

Never give up.

rkon 7 days ago 2 replies      
He makes an interesting point. I'd like to hear him address the other side of it too though: What about people who have good taste but won't actually be capable of producing work that meets their high standards even after trying for a decade?

He says after 8 years he was still an awful reporter, but I don't think good taste necessarily guaranteed he'd become a good one. Seems like a lot of people could head pretty far down the wrong path if they just take his word.

entangld 7 days ago 0 replies      
It definitely spoke to the writer in me and also the entrepreneur. Sometimes I get this ache inside and when I'm unable to express myself. Even now I can't say it right.

Finally after a lot of hard work people finally understand what took me a long time to translate. I always imagine how the creator of Mad Men or any site that works beautifully must have really beaten themselves up to get that good.

agilo 7 days ago 2 replies      
Probably off topic, but the deadline point struck me most about the video. I'm a firm believer in self-directed learning, but I must admit that one of the benefits of having an overarching system that pushes you to deliver on time, such as school or a boss, can also have its benefits in setting the deadlines for you (and enforcing them). It takes a great amount of self-discipline to stick to one's own deadlines.
Reclix 7 days ago 0 replies      
I loved this, thanks.
The hardest part about being a creative / writer, or even entrepreneur is the high expectations set by those you admire, and the impossibility of fully imagining the amount of time it will take you to reach their level.

I don't know how true it is, or whether others agree, but I have always felt (except with work of exceptional brilliance), that I have the power (given enough work) to create work on the same level of anything I can see and appreciate - the key, I think is knowing why I appreciate it.

clintavo 7 days ago 0 replies      
Not sure I completely agree with this idea. I used to own an art gallery and saw many artists, early in their careers, who actually THOUGHT they were great, but who were actually terrible. Some of those same artists later DID become great and produced masterful works (and were embarrassed by their early works). For some people I think it's possible for taste to improve as they walk along their creative journey.

Another example: I wasn't frustrated with my code when I first started because I didn't even have the taste to know it was bad.

mattgreenrocks 7 days ago 0 replies      
It's not just the work; I've come to accept (on some level) that I need to keep moving when working on projects and not fixate on a single detail to get it exactly right. But there's also the nagging feeling that programming is just, well, not all that deep creatively.

I can't shake it, and its rather pernicious.

tuhin 7 days ago 0 replies      
Something similar I had written a year back: http://tuhinkumar.com/journal/good-taste/
dev_Gabriel 7 days ago 0 replies      
I think most of the time I'm not happy with what I do 'cause I know I could do a lot better and I know what I need to do to achieve that.
But seems like I just can't quit my bad behaviors and do what needs to be done.
mannicken 6 days ago 0 replies      
My work always disappoints me because there's the idealistic image in my head and I could never get it right on paper, no matter how hard I try just like I could never draw a perfect circle.
domgreen1 7 days ago 0 replies      
i can relate to this comment, I have been programming for only a few years but seem to get constantly frustrated with where I currently am compared to where I want to be.
nicetryguy 7 days ago 0 replies      
Perfectionism pays off, but its a savings bond, not a pennystock
gattaca 7 days ago 0 replies      
This is simply brilliant. Thanks for posting this and making my day. Onward..
JQuery 1.6 released jquery.com
313 points by potomak  1 day ago   41 comments top 7
wyday 1 day ago 1 reply      
This release causes Internet Explorer 6 to freeze just by including the script in the page. This is a non-starter. I'll submit a bug report about it later today, just thought you guys would like to know in the meantime.

EDIT: It looks like the freeze on IE6 might be caused by FancyBox (http://fancybox.net/ ). Though it didn't freeze with any previous version of jQuery.

rauljara 1 day ago 3 replies      
I wasn't entirely sold on the splitting up of attributes and properties at first. After all, a big part of jQuery is adding convenience, and this does remove a certain amount of convenience at the end of the day, even if only a little. Then I got to the performance graphs at the end. Those are some impressive speed ups for almost all the browsers (1). The speed + more logical separation seems totally worth it.

(1) Except, you know, ie 7 and ie 8. So... half the internet.

cubicle67 21 hours ago 0 replies      
it's broken Nivo Slider (2.5.1) but a global replace of '.attr(' with '.prop(' has fixed it. Not sure if this is the best thing to do, but it works
simonhamp 1 day ago 1 reply      
I love how fast jQuery is progressing, but it does seem that ultimately the separations of various disciplines (particularly this .attr() and .prop() debate) is a step away from the convenience of jQuery-past.

It's understandable though, because helpers and abstractions add bloat and latency to interactions with the various DOM interfaces. And this latency is the price we have to pay for the benefits these abstractions give us - which include a unified interface to the DOM of many browsers.

The balance of speed vs convenience is very difficult for frameworks like jQuery looking to work for as many people as possible... if you want the convenience at the sacrifice of speed or conversely prefer the speed to the convenience you have one option: build a library specific to your app or your needs.

The rest of us will use jQuery ;)

ThePinion 1 day ago 2 replies      
I love how quickly they're pushing out these releases. It's awesome to have my applications constantly improving in speed without me having to do much.

Although I'm honestly a bit confused on their explanation of .prop and .attr now... Maybe I should just re-read it slower, or give myself a little more time to wake up. Unless someone would care to explain it in simpler terms for me. ;)

sciolistse 1 day ago 1 reply      
Seems to have caused using an array to specify easing in jQuery.animate to break. Was a bit surprising.
imsky 1 day ago 0 replies      
Switched to it and the animations really look smoother now. Sweet release, can't wait for 1.6.1!
How I Turned Down $300,000 from Microsoft to go Full-Time on GitHub preston-werner.com
286 points by jseliger  1 day ago   53 comments top 13
jmtame 1 day ago 6 replies      
Loved Tom's social hack for finding cofounders, from Startups Open Sourced. He also has a really good outlook on the role of design in startups.

Q: So, the best way to get to know somebody is to go drink with them?

A: That is absolutely the best way to really get to know a person and what they really like and are interested in because if they are interested in technology, then they will have no problem geeking out with you about Ruby or Node or something for three hours, over drinks; that's when you know that you found someone that could be a really successful cofounder. I think there really is something to doing business in bars. In the early days when there were four of us"we had hired Scott Chacon"we would go to this bar called O'Reilly's, up in North beach. We went there almost every week and that's where we would talk about what we had done. This is after we had started full time and it was where all the decisions were made. A couple of drinks in, you start to just say what you mean instead of thinking so much about whose feelings you are going to hurt or whatever, you say things very bluntly, like, “I think we should do this, and I think you are wrong for saying we should do it a different way,” and now you can have an honest argument about what needs to get done and what the concerns are about the company or how it's structured or how the stock is going to be split. All this stuff will come up over drinks and as long as you are not too drunk, it can be helpful.

larrykubin 1 day ago 1 reply      
I'll be honest. When I first read this post nearly three years ago, I barely knew what Git was, the stock market was crashing hard every day, hundreds of thousands were being laid off, and turning down that offer seemed pretty foolish. Now I can't live without GitHub.
pjhyett 1 day ago 0 replies      
It's worth noting that none of the Ruby guys Tom worked with at Powerset are still working for Microsoft 3 years later. The guys I've spoken with had a miserable time working there and left to work for other startups like Greplin, Bank Simple, and Square.
BrandonM 1 day ago 2 replies      
> When I'm old and dying, I plan to look back on my life and say "wow, that was an adventure," not "wow, I sure felt safe."

A great conclusion to a great article. Definitely a motto to live by.

lawnchair_larry 1 day ago 1 reply      
How did github get early users?
wildmXranat 1 day ago 3 replies      
Very nice read. That also leads me to mention that Github, as good as it is in 'social' coding or whatever that means,
does not fill a gap for a proper resource on how to use Git. Not that it should and it clearly doesn't carry that mandate, but
there is hefty amount of respect to be made for any group that de-mystifies git in all it's glory.

Hell, there are plenty of comments here, on groups and proggit from users that lose their hair over advanced use of git.

In my opinion advanced consulting services and migration planning for currently SVN,CVS engaged companies would be nice.

joelhaasnoot 1 day ago 0 replies      
This story is encouraging! I'm soon to graduate college and am figuring out what exactly I want to do next. One of the options is to work part time on my startup, next to another part time job or freelancing. It's a lot easier when you have savings to make such a leap, then again, I live lean and live cheap.
twakefield 1 day ago 0 replies      
Great post, but dammit, now I'm going to have "You're The Best" by Joe Esposito stuck in my head all day.
chopsueyar 1 day ago 0 replies      
"You're the best around, Nothing's gonna ever keep ya down!"
emehrkay 1 day ago 1 reply      
I pay for github, great decision :
vipivip 1 day ago 1 reply      
Turned out to be the best move.
greg_gti 1 day ago 0 replies      
When I'm old and dying, I plan to look back on my life and say “wow, that was an adventure,” not “wow, I sure felt safe.”

Great quote and I try to live my life by the same philosophy

louislouis 1 day ago 1 reply      
"The next night, Friday, October 19, 2007 at 10:24pm" Was there a time-machine involved overnight or is it supposed to be 2008?
Google's Backdoor Access System into Gmail Accounts schneier.com
283 points by powertower  2 days ago   86 comments top 14
raintrees 2 days ago 0 replies      
"In the aftermath of Google's announcement, some members of Congress are reviving a bill banning U.S. tech companies from working with governments that digitally spy on their citizens. Presumably, those legislators don't understand that their own government is on the list."

Gave me a good laugh this morning...

beagle3 2 days ago 6 replies      
Some people on this discussion mention that they simply run their own mail servers -- that's dandy for incoming mail. But how do you guys make sure your outgoing mail is not blacklisted/ignored/considered spam? That's been a non trivial problem for me in the past when I was running a mail server (and spam was not such a big problem back then).

Also, is there any mail server you can run/recommend that has gmail-speedy searches and tagging? (And maildir support would be a super-extra-plus?)

VladRussian 2 days ago 2 replies      
all this evil isn't done by some special evil people. It is you or people like you who does it.

people like you write the laws mandating backdoors, people like you force companies to implement it, people like you actually implement it. After all that, you dare to express displeasure with the thing you done pretty much by yourself to yourself. Man up and take responsibility for your actions. Next time you're groped by a TSA agent, you can find a relief in the thought that you (or your friend working at Google) groped the agent's Gmail account. Tit-for-tat.

rryan 2 days ago 1 reply      
"The rumor that China used a system Google put in place to enable lawful intercepts, which I used as a news hook for this essay, has not been confirmed. At this point, I doubt that it's true."


pragmatic 2 days ago 14 replies      
Could anyone recommend a hosted email service that does not allow spying on users?

Alternatively I wonder what Bruce Schneier recommends? Do you have to host your own email server?

pnathan 2 days ago 4 replies      
So let's go with a rational assumption, which is that your email provider has the capability to read your email (scenarios: warrant, hacker, bored sysadmin).

You, being a good geek, encrypt your personal systems out the wazzoo.

Then you want to take the next step: encrypted communications (examples: legal, business).

This now makes your request of everyone you deal with to dink with public/private keys and - likely - some sort of infrastructure.

What's the best real-world (i.e., non-propellerhead) solution to this?

obtino 2 days ago 2 replies      
You guys realise that this essay was published on January 23, 2010 right? I'm sure it's been posted here before.
SageRaven 2 days ago 2 replies      
Not that I think this would truly help (they probably replicate all inbound/outbound mail to some vast pool for statistical analysis), but is there an automated way to delete all mail from one's Gmail account? I use fetchmail to remove mail from my inbox and manage it on my workstation, but must periodically log on via the web interface and go to my "All Mail" folder and do a manual select and delete.
mgrouchy 2 days ago 1 reply      
Unless you host your own email, I assume that even without this specific backdoor built in google would have little trouble getting at the email they host.

This is not necessarily bothering to me, or unexpected for hosted services.

edanm 2 days ago 0 replies      
I'm guessing this is in response to this thread:


gbrindisi 2 days ago 0 replies      
I know it's sad to say but as a rule of thumb I've always assumed that my mails are always read and/or stored by third parties.

For really important stuff my only solution is encryption.

truthtechnician 2 days ago 2 replies      
I run my own mail server with a roundcube frontend interface, for $5 a month (if that) on Amazon EC2.

What's the point of SSL in Gmail if Google has your certs?

jamespo 2 days ago 0 replies      
Some more detail in that article would be nice.
known 2 days ago 2 replies      
Since Gmail is free, you're the product Google is selling.
Why Instapaper Free is taking an extended vacation marco.org
278 points by rufo  6 days ago   112 comments top 30
patio11 6 days ago 2 replies      
I second, third, and fourth the notion about pathological customers. iOS is practically training a generation of them. I'm glad they are far away from me.
dpcan 6 days ago 3 replies      
"Maybe you think I can only do this because Instapaper is already popular. But it built its popularity while charging a lot for an iPhone app from the start."

AND there was a free version out.

He's neglecting the "critical mass" factor.

The free version helped him sell the full version until it reached that "critical mass" that was required for the popularity of the full version to continue to drive sales of itself.

I've personally found that by just offering a paid version of an app from the beginning is quite frustrating. But once I put out a free limited version, sales took off. So, MAYBE I'll try losing some of my free versions to see what happens, but I think that free-to-paid actually works just as well.

maukdaddy 6 days ago 1 reply      
Excellent analysis and line of thinking. The tech community really needs to give up the idea that hard work should be given away for free. Trail periods are fine, but legitimate businesses need real cash flow, and very, very few can survive off advertising alone.
corin_ 6 days ago 2 replies      
There's some incorrect logic in there to point out.

"The math to explain this is simple: most Free users won't give me anywhere near $3.50 worth of ad impressions."

So, a free user is less valuable than a paid user, fair enough. But not 100% of people who would use the free version will buy the paid version.

As he said in the second paragraph, "it's hard to say which portion of the increase, if any, is attributable to Free's absence"

While I'm not saying this is for sure, it is a possibility that, while one user with adverts gives him less money than one user who pays, cutting off all the free users could lose more money in advertising than it generates in sales.

napierzaza 6 days ago 3 replies      
I like his arguments since they are logical and backed up with data. But at the same time I never would have bought the app if I didn't use "free" for several weeks and got the idea it was useful.

This is after reading about Instapaper everywhere and hearing from close friends that it's almost the main reason they even have an iPhone (which was probably an overstatement on their part).

Edit: Can we please stop the tired argument of "you paid 600$+ for the device, what difference is 5.00$..."?

It's like people who pay 6000$ for a HDTV don't mind paying 100$ for the HDMI cable. Some people do indeed do that, but I for one determine the value of an app or accessory based on the sunken costs of the device. I value a HDMI cable's value at about 5-10$ because that is the cost of a quality one from Monoprice.

jrockway 6 days ago 5 replies      
How does he know nobody will buy the Android app? I barely use any free apps other than the ones that come with Cyanogen Mod.

Titanium Backup? Paid. ROM Manager? Paid. Treking? Paid. Android IRC? Paid. X-Plane? Paid.

Android users have no problems paying for apps. Non-Android developers are afraid of the unknown.

unwantedLetters 6 days ago 1 reply      
I am sad about this since I was an Instapaper Free to Instapaper paid convert. In fact, I would never have used it if I hadn't used the free app.

I know I'm in a minority of users, but I still think the free is useful.

Having initially spent many months using my iPhone and not paying for any apps at all (only downloading free apps), I took my first step into paid apps with a cheap $0.99 app, and realized that for the small price, it made my app (and phone) experience a whole lot better. After that, I was always willing to spend money on apps (even if it was just for experimentation) and Instapaper became one of the first apps I bought.

I don't know if this is an unusual thing, but I've noticed a lot of my friends act in a similar manner. After paying for that first app, they are very willing to pay for more. And you'd be losing some very good customers if you removed the free app.

I suppose I understand Marco's decision even after all this, I'm still unhappy that we might see it go.

karterk 6 days ago 0 replies      
This post reminds me of a post by Jacques Mattheij about an experiment he did by doubling the price of his app:


These two articles definitely make a case for experimenting with the pricing based on your market and target audience to find the sweet spot.

jcampbell1 6 days ago 2 replies      
As an alternative viewpoint, his thinking seems incredibly shortsighted. When it comes time to launch "InstaAlbum, share your family photos", he is going to have 1/3 the potential audience to draw customers. 3x the existing customers could make the difference between the top of the charts and the press recognition that goes with it.

Part of his rational is that some tiny percentage of the free customers complain, and write negative reviews. Marco should man up and simply accept he has a good product and is a talented developer. That way he doesn't have to give a damn about the haters. It is sad that the %.1 of the population that is inherently bitchy, is driving his business decisions.

dk 5 days ago 0 replies      
I've been using the free Instapaper iPhone app for some time, until it just completely stopped working. Trying to update, it would tell me that there was no network connection. Uh, wrong. Over and over. Eventually I logged out, wiped the local cache, and tried logging in fresh. And what did I get? A blank page with "403" at the top.

My impression of the app at this point was that either the developer is a fuck up or that I've been geo-locked out because I'm not in the U.S. Actually the second implies the first. I didn't care, I just stopped using Instapaper.

On the basis of this post, I took a leap of faith. Despite a complete failure of user experience with the free app, I bet $5 that maybe the paid app would, well, work. And so far it has.

Marco, if you're listening, you make some great points in this post, but your upselling in my experience is... as described.

rubergly 5 days ago 0 replies      

  Not only did sales increase incrementally, but nobody seemed to notice.

What does this mean? This "nobody even noticed!" attitude he expresses several times seems very ignorant to me. Sure, very few people heard that Instapaper had a free iPhone app, didn't look for it right away, then a month later searched for it, saw it wasn't in the App Store, and emailed or tweeted Marco personally asking what happened. This is the only chain of events I can see leading to a potential user giving Marco direct feedback, the lack of which is what he seemed to interpret as "nobody noticed."

If you change a bunch of road signs, but everyone from the neighborhood is on vacation and so no one sees the new configuration and exclaims "What is this?!", does that suddenly mean that new drivers won't act differently in response to the new road sign configurations? Note that assuming that somehow "everyone from the neighborhood is on vacation" is not at all an unrealistic assumption to make. People who had already downloaded the free app were golden when he removed it, so long as they didn't wipe their iPhone or upgrade. You could argue that maybe they would've thought "huh, why haven't I gotten updates in a while?" First of all, I doubt anyone thinks like that. I know I certainly don't think about updates until the App Store tells me I have 10 and I get frustrated at it; I only notice when apps require updates, not when they don't require updates. Second of all, they may have just thought the free app would be getting less updates than the paid one.

And there are countless other reasons why "no one has personally emailed me about the absence of this" is a terrible reason to conclude "nobody really cared" and especially (what I think he is implicitly getting at) "no potential future buyers of the paid app were turned off by the absence of a free app." Maybe they only cared a little and got bored once they couldn't find it in the app store, but otherwise would've been engaged by the app or (since he acknowledges that there are few converts) have been interested enough to tell friends who would eventually pay for it. Maybe, and this is _crazy_ to propose, a significant number of geeks went looking for the free app having heard a lot about Instapaper, saw there was no free app, were pissed, but didn't know or think or care to email Marco about it; maybe they thought he did it purposefully and didn't want to bug him, maybe they were intimidated, maybe they didn't know who Marco was, etc.

modernerd 6 days ago 0 replies      
Instapaper has little need for a free app because it's so unique; there are few paid alternatives, let alone free ones. If you're building something less extraordinary, offering a free app with an in-app upgrade path makes more sense.

The free-to-pro transition seems to work better with a single app using in app purchases (to remove ads and unlock features) than with two separate apps.

It's possible to structure the experience in a free app to make the upgrade more compelling too. Thermo and Astronut (both for iPhone) are two examples that handle it well in different ways: Astronut (game) presents an upgrade option when you reach the end of the first stage; Thermo (temperature widget) shows an ad at the bottom with a tempting X button -- when you tap that, you're prompted to upgrade.

michaeldhopkins 6 days ago 0 replies      
I use Instapaper free and am happy with it. The ten article cap doesn't bother me because I clear my backlog quickly. I actually like choosing from ten articles, reading one, archiving it and seeing a new one pop into the menu. Free used to not save my place in the article and I almost upgraded for that, but then Free started to save my place and I didn't upgrade. I am vaguely aware of some other features Pro might offer, but ignorance is bliss...
gcv 6 days ago 0 replies      
Great article. I particularly liked the points about filtering out undesirable and unprofitable customers. Some clients really are just wrong, and far more trouble than their business is worth.
ilamont 6 days ago 0 replies      
I recently bought the paid app, based on the recommendations of a friend and the number of positive reviews in the app store, but am quite disappointed in what I got in return for my $4.99. I won't turn this into a review of the functionality or criticize the developer for wanting to increase sales, but I will say that buyers should have a way to vet the product before purchasing it (there was no free option when I purchased it).
fragmede 4 days ago 0 replies      
> On the website, this cost is defrayed by ads from The Deck, but people using the iOS app might never visit the website.

That's theoretically true, but how true is it? What percentage of people who have used the iOS app have also logged in via a desktop web browser? How many people have only logged in via a desktop web browser.

A look at the web server statistics would prove quite fruitful - it would tell the author where to spend development time. Do most of the active users have an iOS device? Do they ever use the mobile safari 'read later' bookmarklet? Spend time getting iOS push to push new articles to the app vs. time improving other things; but only if the data justifies it.

rkudeshi 6 days ago 1 reply      
Perhaps the free app might've converted better if Marco had added an in-app purchase to upgrade to the full version.
xinsight 6 days ago 1 reply      
Thoughtful approach on app pricing and customer selection.

The point that resonated with recent experiences was this one:

"How much effort do I really want to devote to satisfying people who are unable or extremely unlikely to pay for anything? (This is also a major reason why I have no plans to enter the Android market.)"

alanfalcon 6 days ago 0 replies      
It's like a reverse of the iShoot story that caused everyone to run out and make free lite versions of their apps several years ago. Different market (productivity Vs. game, early app store Vs. current app store) but it's still interesting.
jranck 4 days ago 0 replies      
I applaud the fact that a developer can charge for his time and effort into building a good product. While I love hearing about these success stories, lets not forget the fact that all applications are different. There is an inherit and perceived value for everything and it's all dependent on the audience. The ROI per user is different for everyone, what works for you may not work for someone else. Marco's audience is made up of mostly tech savvy individuals where the implied value is greater than the cost of the service. This isn't the exception to the rule but it isn't the typical audience that a lot of startups are trying to capture. Every audience and product is different and take inspiration with a grain of salt. With that being said nice work Marco.
jfruh 6 days ago 2 replies      
I totally get Marco's decision to go with a paid version of his app. Of course, he doesn't provide an option for publishers to opt out of providing free versions of their content, which is what they're doing when Instapaper strips all the ads off of them.
goforth 6 days ago 2 replies      
I think Readitlater (and lately Readability) strips down the content much better than Instapaper. Instapaper always has a lot of weird extraneous stuff around the text. The others do not. +1 for them.
alexknight 6 days ago 0 replies      
I don't think the App Store is necessarily fostering a new generation of entitlement minded people. I think those people have and will always exist no matter what. IMHO I always prefer paying for apps, and I never complain about the prices that are in the App Store. I prefer to support the hard work that goes into the quality apps that I use. I also don't feel it's fair or right for me to complain about a product when it's provided for free. I think Marco made an excellent decision.
rakingleaves 6 days ago 3 replies      
I'm one Android user who would definitely pay $5 for an official Instapaper app.
hrktb 6 days ago 0 replies      
I have a lot of respect for all the hard work, especialy since I am hooked to Instapaper like services, and getting rid of the free version might be a good move I think. Now, he seems to have such a policy of ignoring his competition in his talks.

I would guess one reason he doesn't hear complaints about the loss of the free version is because ReadItLater and others have a free app to catch these users. He talks a lot about the cheapstakes that wouldn't upgrade, but the free version couldn't get me to register when I tried it. When it worked afterwards, it was so stripped down it wasn't funny.

In contrast the decision to buy the ReaditLater (same priced at the time) pro version was natural, and I kept the free version on devices I didn't care to sync.

At least, he is totally right, after using the Instapaper free version, I am bitching a lot.

rumblestrut 6 days ago 0 replies      
I had tried the free iPhone app and could never get the thing to accept my credentials. So, I gave up and didn't give it much thought.

But then I kept hearing about how great Instapaper was. I didn't get it. My experience with the free app was bad so I didn't know what I was doing wrong. Instead of writing a terrible review of the free one, I went ahead and purchased the paid app.

And now I'm hooked. I find Instapaper to be incredibly useful and love its simplicity. I then turned it on in my Twitter client, expanding my use even more.

The free app is a detriment to Instapaper rather than an asset. Marco is likely better off sticking with a great product customers are willing to pay for who end up loving the service, than having a mediocre app that doesn't build up a fan base that translates to paying customers.

Keep up the great work Marco!

prestia 6 days ago 0 replies      
If it weren't for Apple's pricing restrictions, I would love to see a free version of Instapaper that is "unlocked" to a full-featured version if the linked account is a paid subscriber. (For those that don't know, Instapaper also utilizes a subscription model: http://www.instapaper.com/subscription)

I happily pay the quarterly subscription fee and would love a full-featured application to go along with it. That said, I no longer own an iOS device.

volandovengo 5 days ago 0 replies      
Yes - he fails to note that the reason that most people learned about instapaper is because he offers a free version of it. I love instapaper but haven't contemplated paying for it because the differences between the free and paid versions are relatively minimal.

Freemium has a lot of perks, the chief one being - getting the word out about the product. How many people would know about dropbox if they didn't offer a free version?

ameyamk 6 days ago 1 reply      
I love instapaper, but I really really want search built for it...
thibaut_barrere 6 days ago 0 replies      
These days I really prefer to pay a service or an app, hopefully to give it some sustainable fuel, rather than invest in a free tool that doesn't allow the author to pay its bills.
Electron Band Structure In Germanium, My Ass wisc.edu
270 points by bootload  16 hours ago   81 comments top 19
JonnieCache 14 hours ago 1 reply      
Hah, this exactly mirrors my experience in chemistry lessons aged 15. Failing to reproduce experimental results with broken equipment then faking the data with an excel function to get the teachers off my back so I could go back to doing something useful like staring out of the window, or using the magnesium ribbon to heat-seal peoples pencil cases shut.

Good to know that it carries on up to the undergraduate level. And I even managed to associate with women during my eventual CS degree! Feeling pretty smug right now.

JoeAltmaier 13 hours ago 1 reply      
I had this insight in Junior High - testing friction by putting blocks on top of other blocks, or in a block train, and using a 'force meter' to see how hard I had to pull. The 'force meter' was a piece of spring steel stuck into another block, with a hook on the end.

It was totally non-linear on every surface I tested. The book said it was supposed to be linear. The students were all furtively fudging it, and eventually the teacher said something like "well, its supposed to be linear so do the best you can".

Insight: this was all a bunch of crap. Turns out that friction is totally non-linear anyway, for most materials, but I didn't read that until 20 years later.

perlgeek 12 hours ago 3 replies      
He's so totally right about the hand waving approximations used in solid state physics.

All fields of physics need to use some approximations, but those in the solid state were usually the ones with the worst reasons, just things like "it works if we do that" or even "it doesn't if we don't do this".

It went on like that in three courses (two on solid state physics, one on electronics).

Only after that did I happen to come across a decent book which explained some of the approximations in a way that didn't make me cringe, and some of the stuff started to make sense in retrospect. Others are still a mystery to me, and probably always will be.

Groxx 27 minutes ago 0 replies      
An oldie, but a goodie. Easily my favorite scientific report paper of all time.

>Banking on my hopes that whoever grades this will just look at the pictures, I drew an exponential through my noise. I believe the apparent legitimacy is enhanced by the fact that I used a complicated computer program to make the fit. I understand this is the same process by which the top quark was discovered.

Absolutely brilliant.

cubicle67 12 hours ago 0 replies      
I read an essay, I think by Isaac Asimov, where he described a graph like this as a "shotgun curve"
wbhart 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Oh, lovely story. I had precisely this happen in Physics at Uni. I wrote down every piece of data, wrote out my computations in full. When I submitted it, I got a D. I challenged my prof to check any one of the data points or computations and exhibit a single error (I knew he wouldn't because I had checked myself). He refused to check even a single one. Every single person for 20 years had fudged the results!!
jrockway 15 hours ago 1 reply      
Yeah, I remember a number of labs where I didn't get the data that was expected and had to do the experiment again. Knowing the expected result, producing excellent data was easy; instead of a painstaking data-collection process, I outsourced that to a "function" with "noise". Hey look, r=0.999!

I understand this is the same process by which the top quark was discovered.

tinyrock 13 minutes ago 0 replies      
The crap results were probably due to the soldering messing around with the crystal properties. Using a pressure-contacts approach instead seemed to do the trick:


Has it really been 10 years!

joss82 14 hours ago 5 replies      
"Going into physics was the biggest mistake of my life. I should've declared CS. I still wouldn't have any women, but at least I'd be rolling in cash."

This advice should be told to all high schoolers.

Well, at least male ones.

nhebb 13 hours ago 1 reply      
This is why the only lab I enjoyed was in Materials Science. The goal of the labs was never to try to get the data to match some pre-defined equation. Instead, the goal was to test materials and interpret the results. Plus, we got to break stuff. :)
laeus 10 hours ago 0 replies      
This "lab report" always brings back good memories because it indirectly launched my career in the game industry. I was finishing up my CS degree at UW Madison and working in Mike Gleicher's computer graphics lab in Spring '02. I had previously met Lucas through a fellow CS student (Alex Mohr, now at Pixar). At some point, Lucas was contacted by the AI programmer at Ensemble Studios (Mike Kidd). Mike, a UW alum, had seen the Germanium treatise and wanted Lucas to apply at ES. A month later, knowing how eager I was to join the game industry, Lucas mentioned Mike's email to me and forwarded him my info. Long story short, I got an interview at ES and was hired straight out of college into a dream job.

I look forward to seeing this link pop up again in a few years. :)

elwin 11 hours ago 0 replies      
I sympathize with the horrible equipment. While getting a physics degree, I had a lab where we measured resistivity. My team was the last to succeed in getting numerical data from the 20-year-old oscilloscope via floppy disk. The students scheduled after us had to take a digital photograph of the oscilloscope screen and reconstruct the data from that.

Broken equipment is not confined to undergraduate classes. A few terms later, I had to use the digital photograph method to get data from a spectrometer in a research lab. If my analysis had succeeded, we would likely have published, and the professor would have had a chance at tenure, all on the strength of data obtained by counting pixels.

sliverstorm 12 hours ago 0 replies      
The way I have always approached labs is a thorough report on my procedure, complete results (totally wrong or not) and an analysis of Whether I got good results, Why I got the wrong results, How might one improve the experiment to get better result...

That has always served me well. I don't usually get A+'s on lab reports, but I think that's my fault and for an unrelated reason.

It certainly seems to me reflection on what was done and thoughtful analysis on why it was good/how it could be fixed (with specific statements or suggestions, not general ones)/what went wrong demonstrates understanding of the material that simple results do not. I guess if you are being trained primarily to be a lab worker who's job is to produce accurate numbers, that's important, but if the labs are for learning...

ldite 14 hours ago 0 replies      
Funny as hell when I was a physics undergraduate 10 years ago, and still funny now. I still routinely use the phrase "to first order" when justifying horrific approximations.
mikecane 15 hours ago 0 replies      
This pops up every few years. I always forget it and laugh out loud brand new when re-reading it.
linker3000 15 hours ago 0 replies      
I see the test results for germanium but where are the results for his ass?
beefman 7 hours ago 0 replies      
All scientific results should be reported this bluntly.
jabo 16 hours ago 1 reply      
I don't understand a wee bit of that, so Go Computer Science! :)
BrotherSand 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Hilarious! First time I've seen this and I laughed so hard I had tears running down my face. I think it was figure 1 "check this shit out" that made me really lose it. Got some odd looks on the train.
After botched child porn raid, judge sees the light on IP addresses arstechnica.com
267 points by shawndumas  2 days ago   72 comments top 10
viraptor 2 days ago 4 replies      
> One obvious takeaway: letting total strangers use your Internet connection for any purpose comes with some risk.

Really? My takeaway is: allow open access to anyone, but limit the bandwidth. This way nothing can be proven about my actions. (could be anyone) It actually reduces the risk for me if IP is not identifying people anymore.

ChuckMcM 2 days ago 1 reply      
"Steele's request was denied until he can name at least one specific person in the case over whom the court has personal jurisdiction"though it's not clear he can do this at all without going to the ISPs for help. But the judge doesn't care about Steele's problems."

This is the correct result. I hope it is more broadly adopted by the courts. At the moment these seem primarily driven by legal firms using extortion as a business model, we should shut that down first and then go back to working through the issues of fair use and copyright.

tlrobinson 2 days ago 2 replies      
So how long until we see legislation that a) makes open AP owners liable / accomplices in crimes committed on open APs b) requires open APs authenticate and log all user activity c) outright bans open APs?
pilom 2 days ago 3 replies      
Time to invest in a DD-WRT router to be sure there aren't any backdoors for ARP requests to map IP addresses to physical hardware.
gtank 2 days ago 0 replies      
I'm surprised that IP address mappings still have the kind of legal weight that authorizes raids. Anyone can acquire a deniable IP by walking down the street to Starbucks (better yet, drive 15 minutes) or pointing a Pringles can at a distant neighbor. I assume anyone taking part in criminal content or actions on the internet would know this.
zerosanity 2 days ago 1 reply      
About time. Identifying people by IP address is like identifying people that live in a certain house. A house can have many people living in it. It's not a one-to-one mapping.
nooneelse 2 days ago 0 replies      
Perhaps more judges would see this light were they the ones behind such ambiguous IP addresses. Surely some judges have open wireless networks at home. Would it be illegal to put a computer in range of a judge's house, have it search for child porn, and pipe anything it downloads straight to /dev/null so that it isn't actually stored?
IgorPartola 1 day ago 0 replies      
I wonder how IPv6 adoption is going to affect this. NAT is still available under IPv6, but most won't use it and your MAC is by default a part of your address.
buckwild 1 day ago 2 replies      
I'm no networking expert, but don't they also note the mac addresses and generally use DHCP for open wifi? If so, they could totally identify folks with that info...
chopsueyar 2 days ago 0 replies      
This is optimistic.
A Rough Guide to Social Skills for Awkward Smart People techno-anthropology.blogspot.com
265 points by KennethMyers  4 days ago   126 comments top 39
giberson 4 days ago  replies      
I'm an awkward smart guy, but I'm not an egotistical ass. I'd really love a guide for social situations that would actually be of use.

Mainly it would address:
-When in a social situation, other than silence, how am I suppose to participate or excuse myself from participating in a discussion about american idol or some other topic to which I have no knowledge and may perhaps despise? Neither being quite, admitting I don't follow said topic are well received. Isn't there a positive way out of this dilemma?

-When some one brings up something sad or bad that has happened is "I'm sorry to hear that" or "Don't worry, it will get better" really enough of a response? Frankly I find it hard to offer these "words of comfort" when I find no comfort in them myself. As a realistic person, I realize that sentiment does not alter a situation so it's hard to be encouraging. Should I just say them regardless?

-When discussing something with some one there are occasions when I'm genuinely curious as to why they have a certain line of reasoning. I want to ask "why do you think that?" but it always comes off condescending. This is especially true when perhaps we are discussing a problem and I know the solution and they do not. I want to know what the reasoning behind their solution is rather than just telling them it's wrong or what the correct solution is--however when trying to ask them their reasoning I can't come up with a way to do it without sounding condescending. Should I not bother?

-When walking leaving my office and entering the hallway, how close should a person be entering the hallway from the opposite direction be before I wave or say hello. If I wait to long, they think I ignore them. If I do it to early, then theres a great length of time that we are both still walking down the hall and having used my throw-away "Hey" I have nothing left to offer them. It's awkward.

-Is there a method/statement for suggesting an attempt at becoming friends with some one? "Hey, want to be friends" is unutterable for me. No matter how I imagine saying that line it feels pathetic. If I don't drink beer or coffee is there anything else to ask someone out to do in order to have some bonding time?

-How to accept a compliment. Thanks or agreement feels egotistical. Trying to act as humble by playing it down doesn't seem to be received well either.

tokenadult 4 days ago 0 replies      
The submitted blog post is a humorous treatment of a topic studied in the scholarly literature.



The submitted examples are almost frighteningly true-to-life. I gained perspective on social skills from travel. ("The whole object of travel is not to set foot on foreign land; it is at last to set foot on one's own country as a foreign land.") In my school days in the United States, I read a short story by Philip K. Dick that gave me and many of my contemporaries the idea that IQ difference between two persons is an unbridgeable social barrier. An expression of the same idea by a different author is "The child of 180 IQ has one of the most difficult problems of social adjustment that any human being is ever called upon to meet." But when I went to live in east Asia as I studied Chinese, I discovered that this view is largely confined to Western culture. Confucius said, "三人行,...有'師焉" ("where there are three persons walking, surely my teacher is among them") and expected to learn from anyone in his environment. Ancient Chinese culture didn't differ at all from ancient Western culture in noticing that people differ in ability, but it expected high-ability people to use their ability to get along with other people. That was a refreshing idea to me when I first heard of it. It's an idea I try to share with all my smartest friends in the West.

And of course Lewis Terman, developer of the first IQ test widely used in English-speaking schools, the Stanford-Binet test, wrote, "There are, however, certain characteristics of age scores with which the reader should be familiar. For one thing, it is necessary to bear in mind that the true mental age as we have used it refers to the mental age on a particular intelligence test. A subject's mental age in this sense may not coincide with the age score he would make in tests of musical ability, mechanical ability, social adjustment, etc. A subject has, strictly speaking, a number of mental ages; we are here concerned only with that which depends on the abilities tested by the new Stanford-Binet scales." (Terman & Merrill 1937, p. 25)

Update after noting a helpful comment by another participant: Yes, it can be helpful for learners who learn readily and find school easy when they are young to find other young people of similar ability to spend time with. That helps all those learners learn that they still have plenty to learn, and are likely to have opportunity to keep on learning from other people all their lives. School settings with underchallenging curricula in the interest of "self-esteem" and with prohibitions on ability grouping don't allow this valuable form of social learning. As Richard Rusczyk puts it, "If ever you are by far the best, or the most interested, student in a classroom, then you should find another classroom. Students of like interest and ability feed off of each other. They learn from each other; they challenge and inspire each other."


citricsquid 4 days ago 7 replies      
This isn't about social skills, it's about not being a dick.

I am socially awkward, I struggle to talk to people and I can't maintain eye contact, but I sure as hell know "You're a moron and your beliefs are idiotic" isn't a nice thing to say. Are there seriously people who think that this is appropriate (and use "Sorry I'm socially awkward" as an excuse)?

feral 4 days ago 2 replies      
I notice most comments broadly support this message.
Well, I think you are all stupid and wrong ;P

But I do believe there is a big difference between being humble, and being falsely humble.

I believe in being humble, to a point, but typically not in being falsely humble.

Being humble is generally good. Maybe you are better at maths than someone, or better at arguing logically.
It is good to be humble, and to realise that even if you are smarter than someone in one dimension, they may still have plenty to teach you, and that there may still be a lot of worth to what they say. As a result, its a mistake to write off their beliefs, or to come out and perhaps tell them you are smarter 'overall'!

But I think its ethically problematic when you decide to 'one-two' other people, by deliberately downplaying your abilities.

The author is effectively saying "You know you are smarter - but you should hide that, so you can effectively manipulate others."
I don't think this is a good attitude.

For one, I think it shows the very social cluelessness that the author is accusing others of.

Your human relationships should not be treated as if you were a spy behind enemy lines. If you think this is an appropriate framework with which to reason about your human relationships, you are doing something /very wrong/.

I think the attitude expressed in the blog post, is, frankly, condescending, manipulative, and very patronising to the people the author chooses to mislead.

If someone did that to me, I'd lose respect for them.

Now, I must make two things clear:
While I think its good to strive for honesty in human relationships, obviously you have to take care for other peoples feelings. It is, of course, necessary, to give gentle feedback, or to sometimes leave things unsaid, for the greater good. But this should ideally be done with their interests in mind - not yours.

And sometimes - perhaps you are in a critical business context, where some one who genuinely is a moron in the ways that matter, and not a nice person, and is going to cause your company a lot of damage, unless you massage their ego - or perhaps you are, indeed, a spy; in which case it is necessary to use techniques like the authors 'one-two'.

But this should be used only when its unavoidable.

Its not a desirable state of affairs, and its not what we should aspire to in our interpersonal relationships.

If you build this culture in your startup, for example, you'll have a situation where people won't know they can trust each others opinions.

The author writes:
>"Even after you know it was a lie, the false-humility still gives you warm feelings. Now when this guy later turns around and says "Aw, naw, not really; well, I guess kind of I dabble in the Ultimate Truth", I'll probably listen."

Well, I'd instantly be suspicious that whatever he was telling me about the ultimate truth, was to serve his own ends.

Be nice to people, definitely - but strive for honesty, and don't set out to manipulate.

Hawramani 3 days ago 1 reply      
I'm socially awkward and after reading lots of books on this topic I've come to realize that social skills are just that, skills. You get better at social situations the more time you spend in them. You'll never get good at them by sitting at a computer reading books about how to get good at them.

Most of us geeks do not have social skills because we haven't spent as much time as 'normal' people interacting with others. I have spent thousands of hours on computers, time I could have spent doing things with other human beings. Instead of being great at interacting with others, I'm predictably good at interacting with computers.

There is no shortcut for gaining social skills[0], and no book is going to solve all of our 'problems', or even a quarter of them. I'd say if you read a book on better friendships or public speaking and this improves your skills by 3% then it must have been a truly fantastic book.

The only solution is for us to engage in a lot of interactions with others, if for some reason we deem it worthy of our time. For example, if a guy is terribly shy during business lunches, the only solution is for him to keep throwing himself into that situation again and again.

After 100 or 200, or 1000 lunches most of his business lunch awkwardness will have gone away.

But is getting better at interacting with people worth the time we could have spent getting better at interacting with computers[1]? Maybe for some[2].

[0] None that I have found.

[1] Through learning more about a programming language or an OS, etc.

[2] For example if you decide to choose a career that greatly depends on effective human interaction.

lloeki 4 days ago 0 replies      
This is why the term "clue-bat" rejoices my nerd mind so much, as we all know deep inside that it's an oxymoron. One cannot forcibly insert clue into someone by wielding metaphorical instruments head on. The most effective LART is not a bat, it's lead poisoning. Yup, leading someone closer to truth (whatever that means) is something that requires patience and subtlety. It's a puzzle in itself, only sometimes the problem at hand needs no derailing towards enlightenment of clueless folks, for various constraints of time and complexity are prevailing, thus you wish you had some magical tool at hand, skipping the hand-holding process altogether, so that finally, can we move forward now, please?

Yet sometimes, the inexperienced, naive mind comes in and utters words of magic, triggering the process towards a brilliant solution that could have not emerged from our overarching minds, clouded by our experience and knowledge. This kind of emergence is one that we should learn to recognize and not mistakenly quench before it had time to bloom.

Maybe we're smart dorks, but we should be open-minded ones.

Gaussian 4 days ago 5 replies      
I've found the smartest people I know tend to embrace the ethos of this piece almost instinctively. As for those who have to be spoon-fed these strategies? Well, in short: they're not as smart.
Psyonic 4 days ago 1 reply      
The focus on being a spy is useful but ultimately misguided. The real problem is being so cocksure to begin with. You DON'T know everything, and other people generally do have something to offer.
erikb 3 days ago 0 replies      
Isn't it interesting to seee, that this thread got so many points, without actually beeing a good post? Every comment I read is actually disagreeing with the author. And yet the topic is so interesting to everyone that the result is exciting for everyone and the post a success for the author.

There is a big lecture here for everyone. You can actually do something awkward if the direction is somehow important to the other people around you. Because in the end your social success is not about you. It is about what is important for the other people.

onan_barbarian 3 days ago 0 replies      
Awkward 'smart' people could improve their prospects a great deal by not spending so much time thinking about how 'smart' they are, not to mention incessantly posting on-line about it.

I am still mildly horrified about how frequently discussions like this turn into thinly (or not so thinly) veiled self-praise... "oh, the reason I have such problems socially is because I'm so goddamn smart". Good luck with that, pal.

Here's a tip: Stop. Being. So. Fucking. Smug.

My experience with the 'smartest guy in the room' syndrome is that it seems to be most rife amongst people that haven't exactly been seeking out rooms full of smart (or smarter) people.

ary 4 days ago 0 replies      
Immediate up-vote for the flagrant flaunting of Godwin's law.
rkon 4 days ago 1 reply      
The problem isn't with intelligence, it's the fact that gifted kids are often left in average classrooms rather than placed among their peers. Everyone is liable to develop awkward social habits if they grow up outside their peer group, regardless of how intelligent they are.

Also, a lot of the traits people mention when talking about smart, awkward people are common signs of Asperger's...

michaelochurch 4 days ago 1 reply      
Meh. This "one-two" thing seems disingenuous. It's good to be slightly self-deprecating in the sense of knowing what you don't know and having a sense of humor, but presenting oneself as an idiot is just dumb. I think it's best to take the attitude of, "I'm good, but this person might be smarter, or at least know something I'd benefit to learn".

What I think smart people could be better at is separating stupid ideas from stupid people. Most smart people have stupid ideas on occasion, and I've certainly had my share. It happens.

Jach 3 days ago 0 replies      
This post is ironic in that it's smug and insulting (though in a typically passive-aggressive way--few are ever direct with "you're ugly and stupid"), and without actually analyzing the beliefs of anyone who disagrees it lumps the "beliefs" into one category. Quotes like: "Great. Good luck with that. Oh, and by the way, your cause will die, I promise." and "I can hear your retort, oh ye smart and lonely." don't make me want to read further. False humility? Screw that. http://lesswrong.com/lw/gq/the_proper_use_of_humility/

As others have noted, this post has nothing to do with bad social skills. If you want to learn how to manipulate people, fine, and one could argue that's an aspect of social skills. Figuring out how to avoid awkward silences with people who aren't comfortable with them? Wondering how to invite people over to your home? Wondering what verbiage to use when asking someone out on a date? This post won't help you there.

pathik 4 days ago 1 reply      
The old One-Two or UPOD (Underpromise and Overdeliver) really works. But only for the first time.
mrleinad 4 days ago 2 replies      
Please, someone send this to Richard Stallman, fast.
jwuphysics 4 days ago 2 replies      
I wish that people had told me earlier that it's possible to be both smart and not awkward. Circa sixth grade, I gave up my academic life for my social life. Now I'm in CMU desperately trying to get above 50th percentile.
JanezStupar 4 days ago 2 replies      
Disarm. Don't be an ass. Be weak. Be self-deprecating. Build Ethos.

Bullshit. Building ethos has nothing to do with playing it down. As long as you do and talk only what you are sure and confident of and politely abstain from what you are not. Then you have disarmed and conquered.

Ethos is your projection on other people. And self-depreciation is not a way to impress other people. It shows that you are insecure and frankly, dumb. A smart person never points out his weaknesses, you may show that you are vulnerable - but any kind of drama ruins it.

There are countless strategies for social interaction. But none of the winning entail hiding in the corner and weeping.

aj700 4 days ago 2 replies      
mkr-hn 3 days ago 0 replies      
I'm surprised at all the light derision toward American Idol in this thread. I would think a show about average people putting themselves out in front of millions for a shot at something bigger would be appealing to people who hang out here.
lnanek 4 days ago 0 replies      
The article talks about the importance of being a spy, as it calls it, as a social skill. Another important facet of that is to realize that other people often act as spies, but don't mean any harm by it.

They'll say super nice things and say them over and over again and often not add any new useful facts or say anything outright. Throw in polite excuses and white lies where they won't actually say what is wrong or why they won't do something or where they'll say obvious lies that you aren't supposed to question. This makes it very difficult for someone who just wants all the facts on the table, feelings be dammed, so they can make a decision.

It can seem like the spies are lying manipulators, but their intention is often just to be friendly and get along with others. They consider being friendly more important than being factually correct.

dhughes 4 days ago 1 reply      
I once heard someone say something along the lines of "not accepting praise for being skilled isn't humility it's arrogance".

Know when you're good and accept a compliment don't feign being stupid.

k7d 3 days ago 0 replies      
Anyone feeling socially awkward should read Dale Carnegie
rvkennedy 3 days ago 0 replies      
This should really be a wiki - tricks, techniques and shortcuts for all kinds of social situations for the autistically spectralized.
daimyoyo 4 days ago 0 replies      
I guess I'm not as socially awkward as I'd thought. Within 5 minutes of meeting most people I've decided that they're idiots(usually they don't try to hide it) but I'm smart enough to keep my opinions to myself. There are two reasons why: First, I realize telling people that they're wrong and exactly why isn't likely to inspire anything but contempt; and more importantly, I understand that when you argue with an idiot you don't lift the idiot up, they drag you down. So why bother? Perhaps this blogger isn't smarter than everyone else, he's just a dick and isn't self aware of his condition.
shuaib 4 days ago 0 replies      
Wait a second... there is something wrong with that One-Two.

One: Be self-deprecating!? Show you are weak and clueless? In short, a false image?

Two: Be brilliant, and prove you were being a dick with the first step.

Giving a false image, be it over valuing yourself or the opposite, knowingly, belong to the same category in my belief. It is the silent, humble, but brilliant opponent/partner that has my highest regards.

solarlion 3 days ago 0 replies      
This is great advice for teachers also.

I have noticed that the best teachers I have encountered are masters of both self-deprecation and storytelling - generally mixed together.

When you subsequently get schooled by them, somehow you don't feel so beat up by the process.


"well, I guess kind of I dabble in the Ultimate Truth"


nametoremember 3 days ago 1 reply      
Somewhere along the line of my life, I sacrificed some smartness for social skills. I am glad I did when I read some things on here.
s00pcan 3 days ago 0 replies      
No one has mentioned this book yet? It's what I expected this article to be like.

Being Geek: The Software Developer's Career Handbook

mannicken 3 days ago 0 replies      
I used the one-two in my job applications. Cover letter that describes how I'm a high school drop-out who will probably od in a very near future, then a resume that blows the mind.
tkahn6 2 days ago 1 reply      
This is a comment I made.
iAinsley 3 days ago 0 replies      
Are you still consider smart if you cannot recognize social cues, Or are you just a gifted savant?
pbreit 3 days ago 0 replies      
Two points:
1) "Smart" people should be able to figure this out.
2) Great answer to "What does it feel like to be the smartest person in the room? I'm in the wrong room."
Read_the_Genes 3 days ago 1 reply      
The smartest man in the room is a fool if he makes others look foolish.

-Ancient Chinese proverb

pw 4 days ago 0 replies      
Neologism alert:

"Doing this in the wrong way Schrutes your whole mission. Doing this in the right way makes you Ani Difranco, or Bob Dylan."

mrkva 3 days ago 0 replies      
Yesterday I was thinking about exactly same thing, and buuum here I go :). Thanks!
known 3 days ago 0 replies      
Learn how to accommodate/appreciate adverse/diverse people.
zafka 4 days ago 0 replies      
Thanks! I know this stuff, but i keep forgetting. :)
compuerase38278 3 days ago 0 replies      
State Space Dimensions:
intelligence, social skills, hard work, honesty
1.)most folks are lazy and anti - hard work because of
'learned helplessness. Your car is stuck on ice. so you
spin your tires and create more water and ice.

2.)not smart enough to program? can't get a job? then,
cheat and avoid honesty.

3.)make up for it in social skills. Be everybody's BEST
FRIEND like the politicians. shake hands, kiss babies.

4.)Be intelligent. Keep asking tough questions and studying.

Alas, the world, especially in the U.S.A. is anti-intellgectual and ANTI-intelligence.
so the stags are:
1.)intelligence and NOT honest. - pretend to be surprised
at how good you are.
2.)intelligence and social skills. Great career as actor
or politican. Manipulate others, so that others share your
strong mind. quote: Star Wars: These are NOT the droids you
are looking for.

3.)intelligence and hard work. Pretend to be lazy and even
sloppy. Obviously, never talk about religion and politics.
Get elected, win the lottery and make BIG MONEY, with no
hard work.
The girl is NOT interested in how ou REWIRED HER CAR for
hands free music or diagnosed the subtle vacuum leak via
computer codes. SHE LOVES THAT YOU HAND WAXED the car, so
she can show it off to her friends.

Nice that the girl knows you are working on 'the next big
thing to google's pagerank algol.' SO WHAT! The real estate broker (who dropped out of high school) charms her
with his BIG ROLL OF CASH.

For you younger geeks aka awkward smarty pants. Get the
small onsulting gig/contract with WALL STREET, New York City. Gals love an I-banker - investment banker. or
in LA its the same as FOREIGN FILM DIRECTOR to actresses.

arrogant? or being honest?
abrasive and judgemental? or being provacative, and analytical-critical?

School is weak and often irrelevant. Read some of the
PhD thesis (my hobby) online. some garbage and some DRIVEL.

criticism often is just speaking TRUTH. Einstein and a few
folks I know (maybe me) have corrected teachers with their
WRONG and INACCURATE questions.

Many of the SAT exams have AMBIGUOUS questions, so theoretically there is a score above the top score of 800.
This means YOU ARE SMARTER than the rules/exam!

Wikileaks Founder: Facebook is the most appalling spy machine ever invented thenextweb.com
260 points by fosk  2 days ago   104 comments top 20
forgottenpaswrd 2 days ago 4 replies      
Shocking but true. When I read my grandparents diary about the Spanish civil war(1936), I see they killed people for getting info about the relationships, friendships of the principal leaders so they could kill selected people and destroy entire public movements.

That happened in WWII too. When Soviet Russia entered Poland, the first thing they did was to investigate the links of relationships of the Polish resistance. They kill every single of them so nobody opposed the Soviets(if they opposed German domination they would oppose Soviet too).

That was not far ago. Today a single American company could store all your public information, and your messages(audio transcribing is starting to work) because you give them.

Facebook is great as a concept, but It would be a better idea using private implementations with your own servers not depending on a commercial company. Something simple to use with open communications...

sethg 2 days ago 2 replies      
The other day I met a guy who belonged to the MIT card-counting team portrayed in the book Bringing Down the House. He mentioned that casino security departments are now looking up their patrons on Facebook: if five people show up at the blackjack tables at the same time and act like they don't know each other, but they are friends with one another on Facebook, then they are presumably Up To Something.
mun2mun 2 days ago 1 reply      
maigret 2 days ago 2 replies      
What I am missing in this discussion: how do we develop a system that is not spying that way? Let's propose and find ideas.
atacrawl 2 days ago 4 replies      
I guess I sort of see his point, but isn't he overstating things? Take Facebook out of the equation, and it's still incredibly easy for intelligence agencies to find out everything about you. They can still tap your phones, do surveillance, check your bank records, bug your home and read anything you write online that doesn't happen to be on Facebook. Maybe Facebook made some of that easier, but it certainly didn't make possible the impossible.
evanwalsh 2 days ago 2 replies      
Despite the article's linkbait title, Assange does have some legitimate points.

It's all kind of frightening, actually.

defroost 2 days ago 0 replies      
Last year we read about the Administrations proposed legislation that would require software companies to build "backdoors" into their online communication systems [1], but as Assange points out, they may already be in place.

[1] http://www.cato.org/pub_display.php?pub_id=12196

r00fus 2 days ago 0 replies      
I like what one commenter said on slashdot: Facebook is a reverse wikileaks.

Everyone puts all your information into a corporate-owned box, to be aggregated and analyzed by powerful players.

Hell, you can even "finger" others by tagging them on photos.

wildmXranat 1 day ago 0 replies      
Never let yourself, your loved ones, family and friends be cataloged by any company other than the mandatory government citizen list.

Call me paranoid, but there is absolutely no reason for a social network at all. Social engagement and links, and poking and other shit is not a benefit to me. It's not a benefit to people even though they like to pretend it is.

In return for handing over all that information you have gained a monitored, controlled, censored and limited way of communicating. There is a reason why speech is protected. Why put a secondary layer of control on how you choose to express yourself.

Taking a page out of a way-back-machine, making links between people for complete eradication of opposition during WWII, was key in killing off most of noble and intelligent opposition in Poland.

nametoremember 2 days ago 2 replies      
If it appeared that Facebook had developed a portal for government agencies to access and monitor people then it would be a big deal.

If they have implemented a way of looking up or monitoring things by themselves (and they obviously have and need to) and just give that information when the government comes knocking.. that's less bad.

rglover 1 day ago 0 replies      
Assange's claim that Facebook and the other myriad social tool's he mentioned are spy tools is a bit embellished. He's right in that U.S. intelligence agencies can and will gain access to the data stored by these services (if necessary). However, saying that it's inherently a spy tool just seems a bit on the Salem side. If there's information about us or our lives that we deem sensitive, the last place you want to put it is online. There's noted security flaws in pretty much every system out there and to dismiss that reality is a bit naive.

There's most definitely a problem with security in this era, but it's important to note that we're the one's doing it. Honestly, anyone who may expose sensitive information should have Facebook or any other online presence on the top of their list as things NOT to use. When you're being nefarious communication is a bit difficult, eh?

theprodigy 2 days ago 0 replies      
This guy is definitely correct.

Information Awareness Office

I am pretty sure something similar to this exists now. The new threat to america are not from soverign nation states, but from non state actors. Solving the data fragmentation problem by combining sources of personal information about behavior and life will make it easier for the gov to stop attacks or catch a person. Combining sources like your facebook, financial transactions, credit card bills, websites you visit (by using facebook connect), travel history (past plane tickets that are linked to your credit cards) can all be combined together and a predictive analytical tool can be developed for automated red flag for things that are deemed suspicious.

Facebook can do the same thing but use the information to predict who you are as a consumer, who you influence, how popular you are, etc to deliver targeted ads, etc.

aksbhat 2 days ago 2 replies      
I believe that the benefits of a social network such as Facebook outweigh the risks. The problem is that, it is very hard to quantify the positive effect which arises from small interactions. Sure there is huge scope for improvement, but one could have made similar arguments against telephony when it was invented.

I believe we are still to see rise of real social network based applications. e.g. something that allows us to estimate trust for a person, given his and your social network.

njharman 2 days ago 1 reply      
That's like PETA founder saying foie-gras is bad.

I'm be more impressed/interesting if NSA/CIA director said something similar.

mahrain 2 days ago 1 reply      
Not surprising that Assange doesn't do much social networking, it seems all he publishes is through Wikileaks, which does have a Twitter account.

This explains why.

He used to have a blog which can only be found through archive.org.

dvfer 2 days ago 2 replies      
At least people should know that before using it...not everyone has many secrets to hide. What's the point hiding who you make friends with, and public conversations? Trying too hard to stay off the grid is rather creepy...
shareme 2 days ago 0 replies      
is he aware of what is fake an real anymore? can we say HBGary..ah yes we can
ignifero 2 days ago 0 replies      
Spying? - maybe, for lame spies. It's manipulative, deceptive, hideous in its exploitation of group psychology, but the information it contains is trivial and only the lamest of spies or terrorists would use it. It's the world's greatest reality show and that's all. If I were CIA i would search for suspects among the people that are not on facebook. Assange himself is on facebook. He's a smart guy, and i don't think that statement makes him justice.
known 2 days ago 0 replies      
Your FB a/c is like your http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diary but public to all http://youropenbook.org/
darksaga 2 days ago 2 replies      
Oh Julian, how arrogant you are. Every time I read this guy spouting off, he just continues to lose credibility and respect. If you don't want employers or any other companies looking you up on social media, then don't use it - or just use an alias or a fake name.

Nobody HAS to have a Facebook page or partake in social media. If you don't want people tracking you, then don't use it. DUH

       cached 5 May 2011 02:11:01 GMT