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1
LastPass Disclosure Shows Why We Can't Have Nice Things throwingfire.com
548 points by thirsteh  2 days ago   82 comments top 13
1
pstack 2 days ago 4 replies      
This is to be expected when you have ignorant people reporting on things that they are not willing to educate themselves about. Anyone who wrote sensational garbage about the LastPass event didn't bother to understand how LastPass works and what the real potential of any breach could be.

Frankly, it leaves me exhausted in the same way the regular stream of sensational ignorant responses to violent video games, boobs in video games, or explicit lyrics in music leave me exhausted. It's extremely difficult to fight an ignorant public being exploited by a willfully ignorant and sensationalistic media.

The likes of Tech Crunch et al who should be in a position to counter such mainstream media reactions and behavior are all too often, unfortunately, jumping right into the fray and showing that they can be just as counter-productive as any big old-media outlets.

2
martinp 2 days ago  replies      
This is the only sane post I've read about this incident. All the major tech sites blew it way out of proportion. LastPass did everything right, and yet every headline was along the lines of "LastPass has been hacked, panic!".

They deserve better, especially seeing as how transparent they were about the whole situation and how they handled it.

3
DanielStraight 2 days ago 0 replies      
This reminds me of the recent story of an Applebee's (an American chain restaurant) employee that accidentally served alcohol to a toddler. All the commentary I read on the story said that the employee should be fired. But as long as it was an honest mistake, that's a terrible idea. No employee will ever be as careful with drinks as that guy will now. You shouldn't ask for experience when looking for employees and then fire them for getting it.

You have to be careful though because sometimes a mistake like that is not an honest mistake, but carelessness. To bring it back to the topic at hand, LastPass (possibly) made an honest mistake somewhere. Sony is careless. Fire Sony, run to LastPass because now they will be even more paranoid.

4
arn 2 days ago 3 replies      
Wait a second. I mean it's nice and all that LastPass was being overly cautious. But how reassuring is it that they noticed an anomaly but weren't able to figure out what it was?

And this is a serious question, as I'm no expert in the field, but it seemed strange to me that they couldn't explain what actually happened with any certainty.

5
rkalla 2 days ago 1 reply      
Don't know if there would have been a way for LastPass to disclose this information without getting the response they did, but in addition to the stupid the coverage they got, they pulled me in as a customer after seeing how goot they were at what they did. So I think there were good fallout from the coverage as well.
6
pdenya 2 days ago 0 replies      
I love this reaction. Signing up for an account with them now after seeing how seriously they monitor security.
7
mike-cardwell 2 days ago 0 replies      
I hope that LastPass realised that they would receive this negative publicity by handling this event so publicly, and that they went ahead and did it anyway. That would show great integrity. If something similar happens again and they sweep it under the carpet to avoid a repeat of this bad publicity, then they're the same as every other company.
8
scotty79 2 days ago 1 reply      
Does LastPass know my passwords?
If so, why it needs to know my passwords?

I thought that my passwords are encrypted on my computer with master password known only to me, but same master password leaves my computer every time I log in to LastPass site via their website.

Could someone point me to where it is detailed how they manage without knowing my password or where it is explained why they need to know it?

9
nathanb 1 day ago 0 replies      
It would be interesting to see statistics on how much the negative press actually affected LastPass. It seems likely that the sort of people who would use LastPass is also the sort of people capable of deciding for themselves how safe their data are.
10
karamazov 2 days ago 1 reply      
Hopefully people using the service and those interested in it will read past sensationalist articles, and actually check out the service.
11
fmavituna 2 days ago 0 replies      
I agree on the overall subject but I'm still shocked that LastPass hasn't got anything better than "spike in the traffic" IDS, better logging etc? If you are in a business with this kind of data you have to expect to get hacked everyday and you have to be ready for it. Even your business plan should include this stuff.

Unless they have a really awkward reason not having proper idea about possible hack is not a good sign.

12
extension 2 days ago 0 replies      
A security breach is never OK. Disclosure helps but does not absolve anyone. We cannot accept that these things just happen.

Besides, it's a password manager. Of course it's going to be held to a higher standard of security. It failed at the one and only thing it is supposed to do.

13
16s 2 days ago 0 replies      
The explanation given (slight chance others may have accessed encrypted password data) and the action taken (locking user accounts) don't go together and led to the media frenzy.
2
Game developer David Braben creates a USB stick PC for $25 geek.com
513 points by bluesmoon  5 days ago   91 comments top 26
1
FrojoS 5 days ago 1 reply      
Oh boy, this reminds me so much of One Laptop Per Child (OLPC). Almost every geek cries out "I want this thing now and play around with it." But the inventor is like "No, no, its all for the kids. You can't have it."

The OLPC Hardware could have been a huge commercial success if it had been gone into production soon after the orignal presentation. But no, it needed Acer and their EEE-PC to satisfy that demand.

Why develop a "universal purpose something" specifically for children? You're not a child anymore so its way easier to build something YOU want than imagine what exactly a child wants or needs. In fact, I'm sure this guy wants the USB-PC more than anyone else on the planet. Also, if you mass produce you bring down prices anyway.

But most important, everyone knows what children want in general: They want to be just like their adult idols!
Don't tell kids: "This is for you. I wish I had it when I was a kid. Now, have fun, while daddy works on his Mac."

2
angusgr 5 days ago 7 replies      
After my initial excitement of "wow, cool" and "wow, tiny" and "wow, cheap" wore off, I'm also becoming skeptical about what niche this fills for educators.

Why? Because an old PC with equivalent specs is essentially free (anything from ~2000 onwards.) Thousands of them, desktop and laptop, will be being recycled or landfilled every day.

Linux on x86 hardware is standard enough that you can effectively call it a standard platform for developers, already, same as this.

The remaining key advantage (I guess) is size. And maybe the fact that it's easier to get kids excited about playing with a tiny brand new board than with a 10 year old computer.

3
phlux 4 days ago 0 replies      
I would like to see some other concepts taught using these devices. Specifically clustering, meshing, cloud etc.

You get a bunch of these devices and arrange them into a cluster/cloud of nano-nodes and teach kids (teens) how to setup clusters of webservers, memcache, micro-dbs etc.

You effectively use the devices to teach large technical infrastructure with tiny physical representations.

Here is how I would do it:

I would whiteboard out a network diagram showing the different layers of tech infrastructure in contemporary cloud designs.

Draw the nodes and connections.

Define the role of nodes in each layer:

Firewall, load balancer, web server, memcache, app server, db server

Then do a micro-config for each of these and run them on the little buggers.

Get velcro tape and tape them onto the diagram in the appropriate location.

Physically wire them all together.

Have it run a website that the students build.

Run analytics...

This would be the ultimate in showing them how The Tubes actually provide them with the data they view every day.

By drawing this, then physically attaching the units to the diagram and running it there will be ZERO confusion and I guarantee that every student will grok the internet more fully.

The thing does not need to be high performance - but it does need to be fault tolerant.

Have the students pull devices out while its running and they are watching monitoring. Have some subjectively F5-ing the little site they made while you drop a few nodes.

Hell, I am ready to do this... anyone want to help me get some of these devices/similar devices?

4
ColinWright 5 days ago 0 replies      
Earlier submission, much discussion:

http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=2517136

I honestly don't see how this is gong to encourage people, especially kids, to further wonder about how computers work, and what actually happens. It's smaller, and if anything even less accessible than a desktop machine.

I learned about computers and computing by building my own from a Z80, 8KB RAM, 8KB ROM, random logic, etching my own circuit board and soldering the components and sockets in place.

Should kids do that these days? Would it help?

5
jonty 5 days ago 1 reply      
I dropped them an email with some questions:

    > 1) How long do you think it will be before the boards become available?

I'd say three or four months. As you can see from the screenshots, we
have usable Linux, but we're waiting to get final versions of the the
chip from our supplier.

> 2) Are there any plans for a version with onboard ethernet?

I don't think we're likely to do onboard Ethernet; we will have an
onboard 3-port USB hub so people can add an external adapter.

> 3) Are there any plans for a version with onboard wifi?

Yes. The final version (though maybe not the first distributables)
will have onboard WiFi (probably 802.11n) in the price point.

> 4) What are the power requirements, both under load and at rest?

At rest I'd say 50mW (we could trim this if it was really important,
but it gets a bit fiddly below this point), under serious load
(original XBox class graphics or 1080p30 H.264), 700mW.

I'm looking at this as a replacement for the Bifferboards [1] I often use in projects, they're similarly priced (£35), but significantly lower specification.

[1]: http://bifferos.bizhat.com/

6
dangrossman 5 days ago 4 replies      
If a tiny ARM-based Linux computer is appealing, there are a number you can buy now based on the Marvell Plug design. I use a TonidoPlug[1] with Ubuntu for an ultra-cheap backup and media server. Only uses ~5-10 watts so you can have it on 24/7 at virtually no electricity cost.

1: http://www.tonidoplug.com/

7
jeza 5 days ago 1 reply      
If you want to teach kids about hardware, wouldn't it be better to supply them with something slightly larger where they can install the CPU, RAM, etc. Perhaps supplied as a kit. At least that way they can at least identify the different components that make a computer what it is. They might also have a choice between selection different components, say a memory card vs. a small laptop hard drive, network cards, etc. As a learning tool, I think that'd be better value for $25 than a tiny USB stick sized thing. I think the fun of assembling would outweigh the coolness of being tiny.
8
jamesgeck0 5 days ago 1 reply      
This is neat. Now we need some Linux environments for kids to make cool stuff. L-VE [1] is a neat Lua-powered game development library, but it's fairly source-code oriented, which may be a barrier for some kids. When I first learned programming, Game Maker [2] was extremely useful. It had a drag-and-drop GUI which was easy enough to mess around with until figuring out how to do things in it's built-in (and extremely forgiving) programming language.

1. http://love2d.org/

2. http://www.yoyogames.com/gamemaker

9
tluyben2 5 days ago 0 replies      
Sorry, but how does this teach kids how computers work? What you do is educate them about boolean algebra, then explain how different boolean components can be bought in a microchip. After that you explain how large combinations of those make up something which can process 0's and 1's and thus (which they should already know by then) strings of 0's and 1's.

The brighter kids will already start trying to make something 'work' out of that. You continue further about how a CPU works, completely in the language of boolean components. And then they get to design and build one themselves.

That will really teach and show them there is no magic and how it works. Even with the insanely small and complex systems you have now, you can rest assure that in the core they are basically just like the one you made when you were in school.
This kind of practical way of working with hardware (even simulated), gives a lot more pleasure and teaches kids computer hardware design, cpu design, microcodes, assembly and tons more.

I was taught from 'Micro computers' by A.J. Dirksen (ISBN 9789021015934); it (+ the teacher) gave me enough insight to quickly learn Z80 assembler, 68k assembler and add / replace hardware on my '80s computers.

EDIT: I forgot; it would be really stupid to not release this to the masses. Everyone wants one, but only the kids can it; I agree with the rest here; that makes no business sense. Charities are businesses too.

10
wccrawford 5 days ago 1 reply      
The other news I read said they claimed they could create a version of it for $25, not that the existing one costs that. That's quite a bit different.
11
brianwhitman 5 days ago 2 replies      
Very cool, but i'm not sure how he can get it to an actual cost of $25 unless it's heavily supported by donations, grants, "give one get one" etc. For small runs (<10K?) the cost of production has to be a large multiplier on that.

Other options in this space (far more expensive! but similar ARM on a board style)

http://gumstix.com/store/catalog/index.php although sadly they don't seem to carry the basix/connex, which are the same kind of power class as this)

http://beagleboard.org/

12
VB6_Foreverr 5 days ago 4 replies      
If pretty much every home has a PC, if the schools teaching ICT have computers then how is this going to make people 'learn computers' better?
Would kids be more turned on by this than by, say, developing apps for android phones?
13
hasenj 5 days ago 5 replies      
What about the cost of TVs and keyboards?

I like the idea, but I don't think the place for this device is in schools.

In fact, I hope computer science never gets into high school curriculum, it will only make students hate programming. Just look at math. Programming is even harder; and chances are if you're a programmer you're not really likely to become a high school teacher. Conversely most high school teachers will not know how to program.

14
pdenya 5 days ago 2 replies      
Article mentions it's ready to browse the web by default, how is it connecting to the internet though? No mention of ethernet or wifi.
16
brianjolney 5 days ago 0 replies      
sounds like an excellent device for wall-mounted dashboard monitors
17
fosk 5 days ago 0 replies      
A neat device. I can use this in my spare time instead of much bigger Arduino boards
18
inoop 4 days ago 0 replies      
This is a $100 mobile phone without the baseband, WiFi, Bluetooth, screen, casing, battery, sensors, buttons, microphone, and speaker. I guess $25 sounds about right.
19
riobard 5 days ago 1 reply      
I want to buy one, hook it to a big monitor, and work on it whole day via SSH. Perfect! :D
20
kleiba 4 days ago 0 replies      
So is this really a "PC" as the headline claims as in IBM-compatible?

The computer will apparently be able to have network access, presumably wireless, and enough storage to run standard desktop software.

Oh, well, as long as it runs Emacs... ;-)

21
diya 5 days ago 0 replies      
25$ cost is definitely possible. The cost of many smart routers lie within 25$ range. This unit is not any different
22
tropin 5 days ago 0 replies      
What makes this dupe from yesterday (http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=2517136) much more interesting today? It features even the same pictures.
23
haspoken 5 days ago 0 replies      
Reminds me of the rossum's RBox: A diy 32 bit game sonsole for the price of a latte.

http://rossum.posterous.com/20131601

24
7952 3 days ago 0 replies      
It would be better to give away cheap feature phones and a pair of headphones. Connectivity and content is more important than the size of the display. Even a system that can only do audio would be an amazing educational tool with the right content. An mp3 of a story or a lesson is content rich, a small file, and very cheap to play.
25
anti_veeranna 5 days ago 0 replies      
Very nice, but when do we finally get a new version of Elite/Frontier type of game? :
26
CCPancakes 4 days ago 1 reply      
I don't see how this PC works. How do I plug it to a monitor, keyboard, mouse, and outlet?

Even if the PC only costs $25, will schools have to buy extra equipment to allow use of the above accessories?

4
Microsoft to buy Skype for $7 billion wsj.com
416 points by riordan  1 day ago   270 comments top 56
1
jsz0 1 day ago  replies      
This is Microsoft's ICQ moment. Overpaying for a company at the moment when its core competency is becoming a commodity. Does anyone have the slightest bit of loyalty to Skype? Of course not. They're going to use whichever video chat comes built into their SmartPhone, tablet, computer, etc. They're going to use FaceBook's eventual video chat service or something Google offers. No one is going to actively seek out Skype when so many alternatives exist and are deeply integrated into the products/services they already use. Certainly no one is going to buy a Microsoft product simply because it has Skype integration. Who cares if it's FaceTime, FaceBook Video Chat, Google Video Chat? It's all the same to the user.

With $7B they should have just given away about 15 million Windows Mobile phones in the form of an epic PR stunt. It's not a bad product -- they just need to make people realize it exists. If they want to flush money down the toilet they might as well engage users in the process right?

2
nikcub 1 day ago 2 replies      
As many users as Facebook, many of those users have entered their payment details, a great brand that is just as big as Facebook, and synonymous around the world with communication.

I just happen to be talking to a non-tech computer user on the weekend who told me that he and his entire family and friends overseas do not use Facebook because Skype does everything they need in terms of staying in touch and it has worked for them for years.

They should start over with the software and spin it into a web and mobile service. It is a great platform to take on Facebook with - a much simpler service for basic video or text chat, and add in some photo sharing, email, etc.

Google really missed out on an opportunity here - I bet that whatever they end up producing internally will not be merely as good or as popular as a new Skype run by Microsoft.

In terms of the price, it would almost be a worthwhile purchase with just the users and brand - the near-billion in revenue is just a bonus. Skype has near $1B in revenue, and most of the expenditure is related to writing down and amortizing assets as part of the acquisition (something that most PE groups do when they takeover a company - part of what makes some of these deals profitable and worthwhile). Number of Skype users and revenue is growing remarkably. If you look at the published financials[1], $97M was written off as cost of acquisition, another $250M was amortization of assets that were written down at acquisition. Their 'real' costs are $131M in marketing, $72M in development and $104M in administration - which brings gross profit closer to $500M+ for YE 2011. PE of 17-20 is a bargain, especially considering that Microsoft can significantly reduce expenditures by integrating the company into the web group.

I think this is a great deal, very different to ICQ (the immediate parallel that everybody is drawing) and much closer potential to the eBay PayPal deal. If done right, this could work out as well for Microsoft financially as PayPal did for eBay (remember PayPal wasn't doing so well financially at the time [2] - everybody called that deal crazy at the time as well) - add to that the potential of Microsoft taking on Facebook in the 'online communication for ordinary folk' sector - and it is a great,

[1] http://www.sec.gov/Archives/edgar/data/1498209/0001193125110...

[2] http://www.ygoodman.com/ppipo.html

3
mgkimsal 1 day ago 4 replies      
A few thoughts:

When we see the mac version stagnate, we won't be able to say MS has sabotaged it - skype did that before on their own.

The linux version has never been on parity with the others - will it be officially killed? Might MS actually put resources in to it to make it work as well as the others?

Overall, good on MS for doing this. I'm assuming this may bring on some more interesting dynamics to the google voice / skype party.

4
cfinke 1 day ago 7 replies      
Maybe I've missed something, but what has changed in the two years since eBay spun off Skype at a valuation of < $3B to make it worth more than $7 billion today?
5
shrikant 1 day ago 2 replies      
TFA talks about how this "could play a role in Microsoft's effort to turnaround its fortunes in the mobile phone market".

Personally I feel this could be more about Microsoft strengthening its enterprise communications portfolio. Communicator/Lync is a giant turd, and this could be their play at Cisco's market, rather than Apple/Google's.

(Incidentally, the Skype chief exec Tony Bates is ex-Cisco)

6
joshzayin 1 day ago 5 replies      
If this goes through, I wonder what would happen to Skype's Linux and Mac support. I'd hope MS would still support it, but I don't think they have any Linux software currently (I'm not positive about that, so please correct me if I'm wrong) and the Mac version of Office is always delayed compared to the Windows version. I hope Skype doesn't similarly languish.
7
ChrisNorstrom 1 day ago 2 replies      
Goodbye "Skype®", hello "Microsoft Windows Live Connect for Windows Live®"
8
teyc 1 day ago 1 reply      
There is always a persistent threat of Apple bringing Facetime to the PC desktop so that people on iPhones could call people with PC.

By purchasing Skype, MS could bring Skype to WP7 and offer it preloaded.

There used to be a time when MS could get traction simply by bundling their product everywhere. A competitor like Skype would be abandoned simply because they couldn't outspend MS. Imagine, $7b is a lot of money. You can give away $1b of free calls to get Live Messenger kick started, or run Lync for free. MS has lost that swagger that used to create their own reality.

9
trout 1 day ago 1 reply      
Microsoft owns the desktop - that's their cash cow. For large businesses they (basically) have to buy outlook / exchange. They throw powerpoint, visio, word, excel on top of that, plus the operating system, and they own it. From an operating system standpoint, there's not any real threat. From a productivity suites perspective, there's a bit more threat from cloud, but it's still comparatively small. Same can be said for email - gmail is a much larger threat but for corporate security, calendaring, integration, it's still not really there. This will probably be different in 5 years as the proprietary protocols and integrations move towards open standards. I find it ridiculous that I can't find another desktop email client that will natively work with exchange/MAPI, and Microsoft knows it. Skype is just extending it to the desktop, and it's a strong part of the desktop suite. I think they want to play in the enterprise space, because nobody wants to use Lync for anything other than IM (aforementioned turd comment here).
10
portman 1 day ago 0 replies      
And here's the press release, confirming the $8.5B pricetag.

http://www.microsoft.com/Presspass/press/2011/may11/05-10Cor...

11
latch 1 day ago 1 reply      
Weren't we talking about Google or Facebook buying Skype a few days ago at $1-3 billion? What the heck happened? Insecurities?
12
ashbrahma 1 day ago 0 replies      
That's a pretty good return for the Horowitz + Original founders team who bought it for $2.75 Billion in November 2010..
13
zmmmmm 1 day ago 0 replies      
Hopefully this forces Google to drop the "play nice" attitude with carriers & Skype and properly integrate video chat into Android across the board (yes, it's in 2.3.4, but it annoys me that Google left it this long and even then made it tied to a release that many phones will not get for ages if ever).
14
Duff 1 day ago 2 replies      
Huh? I understand that Microsoft is sitting on billions in cash, but couldn't they just pay a dividend?
15
RuadhanMc 1 day ago 1 reply      
Wasn't part of the problem for eBay that they did not actually own the core p2p technology that Skype used and instead licensed it from the former owners? Has Microsoft purchased that as well or are they just going to write their own? In which case quality will change...
16
aneth 1 day ago 0 replies      
The most valuable asset of Skype is not the technology, but the social network and user base. That however is not all that valuable since, unlike Facebook, Skype is mostly a 1:1 communications model easily moved to another network. When people want to communicate, they will use whatever is easiest. Skype has minimal and diminishing revenue potential, adds nothing to MS core products, and the social network is not all that sticky. It's a dumb buy by a dumb company. I haven't heard a positive word said about Microsoft product management by an employee in 3 years of time spent in Seattle.
17
dstein 1 day ago 1 reply      
Interesting to note that the market cap of Vonage is only 1.04B. They might have been able to buy up every single other VOIP company on the planet with the remaining $6 Billion.
18
brisance 1 day ago 1 reply      
I fail to see how this is a wise business decision. Skype has been losing money for a long time, and with cheap/free competition like Google video chat and FaceTime etc, why would MSFT invest in this?
19
dman 1 day ago 1 reply      
I hope all the IP is included in this deal.
20
justincormack 1 day ago 1 reply      
Skype's (technical) HQ is in Talinn just across the water from Nokia, Microsoft's other new "acquisition"... useful for their mobile strategy perhaps?

But Skype's infrastructure is all Linux + Postgres (they are a huge Postgres user), so maybe they will be forced to rewrite it all on SQL server for the next few years.

21
jaffoneh 1 day ago 1 reply      
It seems the number might actually be $8.5 billion:

http://kara.allthingsd.com/20110509/microsoft-will-announce-...

22
neworbit 1 day ago 1 reply      
MS would do a lot better to buy 200 promising startups (especially in the mobile space)
23
jpwagner 1 day ago 0 replies      
just remember that skype's product was already starting to suck before microsoft bought them...
24
erikpukinskis 19 hours ago 0 replies      
That means ebay is up $1.4 billion on the fiasco:

-$2.6b purchase + 70% of $2.75b on sale + 30% of $7b on Microsoft sale = $1.4b

Not sure if they got any cash from profits, and they probably spent a bunch of money on the purchases/sales and subsequent culture integration stuff.

25
kayoone 1 day ago 0 replies      
They will use Skype like Apple uses Facetime. Get it natively into every Windows PC, Windows Smartphone and Tablet and let people (video)call each other easily. With the userbase MS has, this doesnt seem like a bad idea.

Imagine Scheduling Meetings in Outlook with automatic Video calls to everyone involved. Could be huge in the b2b market

26
ChrisArchitect 1 day ago 0 replies      
if MS absorbs the Skype technology into their own IM/chat/communications systems - and skype users are left out on a limb - where do they go?.

They stay with the MS product line happily perhaps, or they go to __________?

gChat/open/xmpp?
Jump all the way to Apple FaceTime (seems a far jump).
Or with forthcoming p2p flash video ease-of-dev/ease-of-use, does this all just become super common/easy to access?

27
horatiumocian 1 day ago 0 replies      
I think that Microsoft buying Skype makes more sense than Google or Facebook buying Skype.

First, the way for Skype to make decent revenues is to go for the enterprise market, which brings them paying customers. It would be really hard to convert end users to paying customers, because of all the competition out there (Google Voice). So, they need to cater to enterprise customers. And Microsoft is huge on the enterprise, they would be able to integrate it into their suites, and make it a multi-billion dollar product in a few years.

I don't see any reason for Facebook buying Skype (different technology, different culture, price too high). Also I don't see any reason for Google to buy it other than to kill it and fold it into Google Voice (possible anti-trust issues?). So, even if the Microsoft-Skype deal isn't a match made in heaven, it still makes much more sense than Facebook-Skype, or Google-Skype.

28
hessenwolf 1 day ago 1 reply      
"Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and J.P.Morgan Chase & Co. advised Skype on the deal, according to people familiar with the matter. Microsoft is not using any financial advisers for the deal, the people added."

I see. That makes the 8.5 billion (price + debt) make more sense.

29
mmcconnell1618 1 day ago 0 replies      
What does Skype's patent portfolio look like? Could this be a way for Microsoft to shutdown other video chat services or at least extract a hefty license fee?
30
Rariel 1 day ago 1 reply      
The only way I can think of for them to really, really make this worth it beyond just owning the service is to integrate it in to Outlook like gmail video/voice chat. Although worker bees would hate it, it would be cool as a supervisor to be able to "call" your employee from a program you already have open all day anyways. Or even co-workers working on a project too lazy to get up or lawyers who need to talk about something but don't really have time to stop what they're doing. They could implement a feature enabling you to "add" friends who use outlook to your chat/buddy list. I don't think it would kill off gmail, but it would make some people much less likely to try it.

On a more personal note, I really hope they don't take away all those cool chat thingys (refuse to call them emoticons). That dancing guy and disappearing pizza get me every time.

31
daimyoyo 1 day ago 1 reply      
I have a feeling that Microsoft was suckered on this one. Google and Facebook probably had no interest in skype, but bid it up so Microsoft would have to pay more. You'd think after all these years, and having this same thing happen time after time that they'd know that trick and see it coming. Guess not.
32
drink 1 day ago 1 reply      
Strange realization: I am relieved that Microsoft bought this, and not Facebook. Can't remember the last time I was relieved that Microsoft bought a company.
33
nl 1 day ago 0 replies      
I wonder who leaked this?

Was it someone from Skype (or their VCs) trying to start a bidding war?

Or someone from Microsoft trying to kill the deal (or get Google to overpay)?

34
1880 1 day ago 1 reply      
I guess the Linux client will stay beta forever... sigh
35
kmfrk 1 day ago 0 replies      
$7B is a lot of money, but might be more relevant is how much Facebook were thinking about paying for the company. Maybe it was not just an acquisition, but a strategic overbid.
36
freechoice1 1 day ago 1 reply      
Recently when I started to outsource work I noticed everyone had Skype and wanted to use Skype. Skype is the no1 general platform for reliable business communications today. I got amazed myself how many actually use Skype in this sector.

Skype is the new msn for voice chat and has been for quite a while. One of the reasons Skype is so attractive for businesses is the encryption methods it uses. I know the governments are annoyed by Skypes encryption due to they cannot listen and spy on those talking there.

37
MichaelApproved 1 day ago 0 replies      
I hope the IP is actually included this time.
38
drallison 1 day ago 0 replies      
As I commented in one of the other postings for this event: "There goes the neighborhood....".

Skype is/was one of the most significant products of the last decade or two. one I use and depend upon every day. I doubt that Microsoft will be able to avoid killing the goose that laid the golden egg.

39
braindead_in 1 day ago 0 replies      
Will be interesting to see what happens to the Skype API. It's used by a lot of 3rd party plugins and is quite comprehensive. Hopefully they will not kill it.
40
keyle 1 day ago 0 replies      
Windows 8's FaceTime brewing!
41
gregzav 1 day ago 0 replies      
Selling my Microsoft shares... Bought them a year ago thinking they could at least make one step in the right direction.
42
geoffreyvanwyk 1 day ago 1 reply      
Why does Microsoft feel the need to buy other companies? Why do they not just build their own Skype version if they like it so much? How many people are going to lose their jobs now? Why do they employ all the brilliant young programmers if they are just going to buy up companies and not create new products?
43
joshaidan 1 day ago 0 replies      
I guess this is good for the Canadian Pension Plan. :)
44
hanszeir 1 day ago 1 reply      
I hope Microsoft Skype does not require a hotmail account. This is good opportunity for Skype's competitors such as FaceTime to grow.
45
rglover 1 day ago 0 replies      
I have no real qualms with a Microsoft buy-out, but I was really hoping for Facebook to get on this one. However, this sort of leads me to believe FB is working on something they may consider "better." Let's just hope the MS crew does something intelligent with this move and we don't have another Delicious-style implosion.
46
jmjerlecki 1 day ago 0 replies      
Microsoft finally gets back in the game? I'm as big a fan of Google as anyone, but it's nice to see Microsoft win one.
47
pjy04 1 day ago 2 replies      
Skype is losing tons of money and needed to get out with whatever users it had. Microsoft can then sync this up with their own communication clients for a joint play.
48
tsewlliw 23 hours ago 0 replies      
I always thought Skype and LinkedIn would be a really great match. But maybe this is an artifact of being introduced to both at the same time by the same person.
49
stevenj 1 day ago 0 replies      
The headline on the article's page says "nearly $8 billion".
50
goombastic 1 day ago 1 reply      
skype on nokias would be nice.
51
rbot 1 day ago 0 replies      
Think J Allard's meeting at Skype in January has anything to do with this?
52
darwinGod 1 day ago 0 replies      
So,I will have to create a live id to use skype ?
:-/
53
imrehg 1 day ago 0 replies      
That goes through: bye-bye Skype. It was ~okay to know you.
54
bobx11 1 day ago 1 reply      
I think a lot of people would try to use other services if this goes through.
55
repoleved 1 day ago 1 reply      
This marks the death of Skype on the Mac.
56
beedogs 1 day ago 0 replies      
Say goodbye to the Skype Linux client...
5
Techniques To Simplify Sign-Ups and Log-Ins smashingmagazine.com
411 points by cwan  6 days ago   175 comments top 33
1
Hovertruck 6 days ago 6 replies      
"Use a Question Mark Icon for the Password Recovery Link"

Am I the only one who thinks that is really unintuitive? I don't even think clicking on that icon would cross my mind as a user, and I would spend my time trying to find the "Forgot Password" link.

2
redstripe 5 days ago 2 replies      
I just ask for an email address. I then email an auto generated password to the user. Their first login with the password I sent creates the account and takes them to their profile page which allows them to change their password or fill in other non essential info.

This system has a few benefits:

* No annoying "username already taken" or "password too short" rejections that make people give up.

* No junk accounts that haven't been verified since I don't create an account until the first login

* Person's email history has a record of their password if they're the type of person that doesn't care to change it.

* Since I'm really lazy, the account creation code is also the password recovery code. It just emails a new password.

I don't see any downsides with my system.

3
lukifer 5 days ago 1 reply      
I'm surprised they didn't mention what I consider the greatest cardinal sin of sign-ups: if you're not validating email addresses, start the user's session as soon as they register, instead of making them re-enter the same info again into a login box. (Even if you're sending a validation email, you could allow the user to postpone validating, or at the very least, log them in automatically upon clicking the link in their email.)
4
ZoFreX 5 days ago 2 replies      
> use a hidden and required text field generated with client-side Javascript

So now only users with Javascript enabled can use your website. I'm sure that will increase conversion.

> Spambots can't fill in the field because they can't interact with objects in client-side JavaScript; only users can.

Not true anymore.

> you can create a honeypot form field that should be left blank and then use CSS to hide it from human users, but not bots

Apparently those of us that are blind, browse from the terminal, or use automated form-fillers are bots and not users too?

Some of this advice is good, some of it is very obvious and widely implemented, and some of it is bad. As the author has left determining which are which as an exercise to the reader, I'm not sure they know either.

5
bane 5 days ago 3 replies      
Not sure if it was accidental or not, but we ended up with the single simplest sign-up/login I've ever seen. We've even received a few emails from users alarmed at how simple it is. We're considering adding a few artificial steps (like filling out a profile) so that users feel more like they are creating an account.

1. Click login

2. Choose account provider

3. Grant us authorization access

4. Done - we pull your name and email address from the OAuth information and autopopulate your user profile.

At this point we don't strictly need any more information, and adding more account providers doesn't increase the number of steps. Actually, when we only supported Google accounts we didn't have a step #2.

We may start asking people some more questions, but for now signing up and logging in virtually identical user experiences.

6
MatthewPhillips 6 days ago 3 replies      
1000x times yes about the newsletter checkbox. Nothing turns me off to a service more than being tricked into receiving a newsletter. I consider those to be spam and mark them as such.
7
brm 6 days ago 1 reply      
One that gets missed almost everywhere is: if I type the wrong username or password, keep my username in the field (so many erase the forms when returning the error). That way I can tell if the mistake was in my username or my password and if it was in my password I don't have to retype everything.
8
mekoka 5 days ago 3 replies      
Another thing that I'll start to experiment with is delayed confirmations.

The confirmation step via emails is one of those things that has been copied over and over, without knowing, in many cases, what problem it addresses in the first place and if it's crucial to one's particular situations.

I think having to interrupt your visit to log into your email, is another speed bump to a smooth registration process.

A better approach, in my opinion, would be to let users just start interacting with your service right away. Give them 5 to 7 days to confirm their account, after which it is automatically suspended. You can let them know the next time they try to login that they never actually clicked the link they received via email a week earlier. The timeframe is long enough that they can actually use the service with no hassle and it's short enough that they won't have forgotten which email and password they gave during registration.

Of course, if the operations they're trying to perform in your site are sensitive enough (e.g. purchase, sale), you should let them know that it requires an immediate confirmation of the email address.

Other unrelated advices:

- if you use the email as a login name, then allow users to have whatever handle they'd like. i.e. don't make the username unique. Also, allow spaces in that field. e.g. StackExchange.

- under no circumstance should you keep an unencrypted record of the password. It's tempting to think that in the name of user friendliness, whenever someone loses their password, you will just send it back to them. As soon as I see my password sent to me in an email, I usually logon to the website, change the password to 12345 and depending of the sensitivity of the data kept by the service (e.g. web hosting), I would consider stopping using it altogether (Ironically, I've had cases of websites telling me that 12345 as a password isn't secure enough for their service, after they'd sent me my password via email).

9
bugsy 5 days ago 3 replies      
I'm skeptical of such articles, but this one had a lot of good advice.

I so hate country selection popups that have 200 countries in them, and United States is near the bottom even though 95% of their customers are in the US, or perhaps they don't even ship outside the US. So many sites do that and it is infuriating.

10
chime 5 days ago 2 replies      
> Spambots can't fill in the field because they can't interact with objects in client-side JavaScript; only users can.

Not true anymore. What you could do is add a hidden field with value=encrypt(timestamp+salt) and only accept the form if the decrypted timestamp is at most x hours old. If you want to further restrict it, you could also add the IP to the encrypted value. This will fail if a user gets a new IP between loading the form and submitting it (laptop user moving around, VPN gateway changes etc).

11
ma2rten 5 days ago 0 replies      
In my option there is a lot of bad advise in there:

  Require Users to Type Their Password Only Once

At least I am very likely to overlook a typo, but less so to make the same typo twice.

  Allow Users to Auto-Fill Their Payment Address From the Shipping Address

Why not make a check box "same as billing address"? That way if people make a mistake they only have to correct it once.

  Don't Check the Newsletter Option by Default. Offer a Preview Instead

And how many people will click on that preview ?

  Spambots can't fill in the field because they can't interact with objects in client-side JavaScript

sure

  Allow Users to Unmask Their Password

If I saw this I really would have no idea what the checkbox "check password" does.

  Make the “Submit” Button as Wide as the Text Fields

Never had problems with being insecure which action I was about to take when I logged into facebook.

  Allow Users to Log in Via Facebook, Twitter or OpenID

I don't have twitter, OpenID confuses me and I hate websites where I have to login with facebook.

But don't get me wrong I still think it's good to think about this stuff and don't take everything for granted, just because everyone does it. From that perspective it is a great post.

12
p4bl0 5 days ago 3 replies      
Autofocusing the login field is a bad idea. Sometimes the javascript take some times to load and the user already filled the login field and is already typing is password when the javascript focus the login field: then the password is written in clear on the screen, and that's not pleasant for the users.
13
codenerdz 5 days ago 1 reply      
Using an Oauth Provider for Signup and Login makes most of these techniques moot. For the service Im working on, im using a wonderful OmniAuth gem that together with Devise allows for easy support of popular OAUTH providers such as Facebook, Twitter, Linked In, Google, you name it.
After dealing with forcing users to come up with yet another password to sign up for the service, I prefer that somebody else deals with that and I just store OAUTH tokens
14
georgieporgie 5 days ago 0 replies      
A lot of these seem to be, "do this really nonstandard thing because it suites my tastes." I'm all for streamlining, but if you change a common way of doing things, and you're not targeting a technical crowd, your new way had better be crystal clear.

As someone who talks to non-native English speakers, "check password," is triggering a burning rage within me. There is so much potential for misunderstanding.

15
bitsm 6 days ago 0 replies      
I'd be very careful when considering and implementing most of these ideas. While the sentiment is correct (make users' experience easier), many of these approaches have pitfalls or require fallbacks.

Your signup and login pages MUST be bulletproof.

Autofilling city/state from zip, for example, requires an updated database of postal codes, but users will often consider your autofill city as "wrong", since they use a different district/locale name. Make sure users can override your guesses.

16
bjonathan 6 days ago 4 replies      
the best signup flow I have seen recently is http://friend.ly perfect integration of facebook .
17
dholowiski 6 days ago 1 reply      
Thats a great article. The first two points inbound the most interesting... Let the user choose a username after they sign up - I wonder what sites do that now, it's a good way of removing a barrier to entry.
The second I'm not so sure about... Having the user enter their password once and showing it to them - I'd be worried that you might lose users to simple typos.
Most of the rest is kind of common sense but a great reminder that the login/signup system is probably the _most_ important feature of a web site, since it's the one users interact with most often.
18
gchucky 6 days ago 3 replies      
Admittedly I hadn't heard of using a client-side JS input box as an alternative to a Captcha. Does that sort of thing actually work, or can spammers get around it? Is there any anecdotal data to suggest that that's a better method? (not snarking; actually curious)
19
pdenya 5 days ago 3 replies      
I hate being forced to login with my email address. My username is the same or similar for most sites I use but I use a site specific email (with gmails + feature) for almost every sign up.
20
fleaflicker 5 days ago 1 reply      
Any ideas for speeding up birthdate entry? Lots of sites need it to comply with COPPA.
21
kmfrk 4 days ago 0 replies      
> Log Users in Without Leaving the Page

As someone who uses LastPass, don't do this. It (usually?) won't let LastPass log you in to the site nor save the log-in details for a new site - a huge pain in the ass.

On another note, if I fail to enter the right details or check the right boxes, don't let me start all over again! Opera is great in how it lets you go back and retain all entered data, but other browsers are not as good at this.

22
MatthewB 5 days ago 2 replies      
These are all great suggestions. Smashingmagazine is a great resource for developers.

I'm not quite sure about a checkbox to confirm password...maybe I need to see it actually implemented somewhere to know if I like it.

23
andypants 6 days ago 4 replies      
Does anybody else think unmasking the password field is a terrible idea?
24
Herwig 6 days ago 1 reply      
CAPTCHA's are always annoying, no matter what. So why not make some money. Lots of new companies out there offering CAPTCHA ads.
25
aliglia 6 days ago 4 replies      
I have never understood why I need to type my password twice. Inevitably I just copy what I wrote in the first box into the second.

I'm also interested in the elimination of the post sign-up confirmation email. I'd rather get a "Welcome! If you didn't sign up for this service, click here" email, but I can imagine that if I didn't actually sign up for the service, I'd never want to "click here" for fear of spam. There has to be another option, though. Anyone have any bright ideas?

26
tcarnell 5 days ago 1 reply      
From my experience of building web applications only two pieces of information are EVER required at registration time:

1). Email address - unlikely to be forgotten and is useful, ie you can then contact the user

2). Password - so the user can access the site. And I agree, dont ask twice for this, as long as you have a password reset feature.

Any further information can be obtained once the user is inside the system - and full explainations can be given as to why particular information is required.

And never use captcha! There are a millions tricks that you can employ to avoid bots.

27
colanderman 5 days ago 1 reply      
Regarding auto-completing the country field, most modern web browsers allow you to enter text in a drop-down field, and they will auto-complete for you. (Although last I checked, IE had the annoying tendency to simply choose an entry starting with each character you typed.)
28
supershazwi 5 days ago 1 reply      
I feel that asking a user for the right username after they sign up wastes even more time when they can settle it all at once at the sign up page... The tips mostly reduce hassle and why cause them more trouble by alerting them that their username is already taken when they felt they're already set to use the site.
29
bricetebbs 5 days ago 1 reply      
Depending on the security needed for a particular application I have been wondering why not just Email for authentication since its common for password recovery. More here: http://blog.headspin.com/?p=352
30
a3nm 6 days ago 3 replies      
Using OpenID makes the rest of the techniques moot (except for OpenID providers), right?
31
strebel 5 days ago 0 replies      
Been a fan of this login (http://www.janrain.com/products/engage) service by janrain for some time. Use it where I can on apps.
32
ballard 5 days ago 0 replies      
OpenID, or email address -> confirmation.
33
lautenbach 4 days ago 0 replies      
been looking for good writeups on sign-up best practices. thanks for this!
6
DHS asks Mozilla to take down MafiaaFire add-on lockshot.wordpress.com
361 points by akavlie  5 days ago   75 comments top 17
1
larrik 5 days ago 5 replies      
I'm thrilled that Mozilla didn't give in to their demands (yet).

I'm confused as why the HN headline says "MediaaFire" while the linked article and add-on are "MafiaaFire", though. UPDATE: It was a mistake and was fixed.

Oh, and it's completely ridiculous that DHS is enforcing IP. I mean, what a completely inappropriate and wasteful use of that department.

Edit: Did a Google search for "MediaaFire" which brought up nothing relevant. It DID show this posting, though, which I find to be amazing (It's only existed for 15 minutes.)

2
zbowling 5 days ago 1 reply      
I've never been a fan of ICE's technique of seizing domains. I don't think they should have the authority to do that. And then updating them and redirecting to their page that the domain was seized and potentially tracking the IPs of those that visit the site. It really bothers me that they have the authority to do that in the first place.

They have already got in to some hot water when they seized a dynamic dns domain that was hosting thousands of subdomains (only one was accused of pedophilia trafficking). They wildcard redirected the domain to an IP that hosts a page saying that domain was seized because the site was hosting pedophilia. Pedophilia labeling was strung across a lots of personal sites, church websites, and radio station websites in the processes. It took days for them to revert it and have all the DNS records propagated but the damage was partly already done as it labeled innocent parties as pedophiles without due process.

Not sure who is doing oversite of the DHS/ICE's efforts here. Probably best not to buy .COM/.NET domains, especially if you register it with US address in the WHOIS.

3
jarin 5 days ago 2 replies      
Is it just me, or does DHS really seem like a rogue organization that thinks they're above things like due process?
4
akavlie 5 days ago 3 replies      
TL;DR -- Mafiaafire redirects you to an alternative domain when the primary domain is moved or seized. So basically the DHS is trying to suppress a workaround to their domain seizures.

I'm not sure they have much of a legal argument here though, nor do they have a due process workaround... well, unless they seize mozilla.org.

5
eli 5 days ago 0 replies      
Well, I guess they can ask for whatever they want.

IANAL, but I don't see how it could be illegal to violate a court order that is not directed at you.

6
suprgeek 5 days ago 0 replies      
Typical Government High-handed tactic. We will ask sternly that you "Remove/Stop/Cease" certain activity as it renders some of our actions slightly less effective.

Basically Mozilla replied with "Oh Yeah...Show me which law compels me to listen to your non-threat threat? " Fantastic and perfectly legal response.

99% of others would have just blindly complied - which is probably more scary to me than anything any External entity might do to America.

7
eck 5 days ago 0 replies      
Domains seem sort of like property but on some level are really speech. Were the NY Times to write an article that said, "The IP address of www.whatever.com is 1.2.3.4" would DHS try to shut down the presses? Ultimately, conveying that piece of information is what this plugin (and indeed, the DNS system before DHS got to it) does.
8
eschulte 5 days ago 0 replies      
If you upvoted this article and think raising awareness of such overreaches is important consider contacting your elected representative, the person whose job is to hold government organizations accountable to the public's concerns.

https://writerep.house.gov/

9
kia 5 days ago 0 replies      
This will be another occurrence of Streisand effect.
10
wildmXranat 5 days ago 0 replies      
DHS will not get far as is it's evident that they are asking, not telling. The law isn't on their side and let's hope that they're not above it.

As far as Mozilla is concerned, I have always held them in high regard and this case reaffirms my point of view. What scares me though, is the far reaching arm of DHS being able to take down domains in the first place.

11
alexqgb 5 days ago 0 replies      
Wow, what a text-book perfect response from Mozilla. Well played, guys.
12
smokeyj 5 days ago 1 reply      
The circus will run out of fuel eventually.
13
sp332 5 days ago 1 reply      
Is anyone else worried that the MafiaaFire authors might start putting bogus redirects in the plugin? Does anyone know the people behind it?
14
everlost 5 days ago 1 reply      
Anybody else curious about these "seized domains" Homeland Security is trying to "protect" us from?
15
asadotzler 5 days ago 0 replies      
Another interesting thing here is that Mozilla has just provided the blueprint for responses should other sites get this kind of request. Perhaps this could seed a project for "how to respond if it happens to you".
16
Chrono 5 days ago 0 replies      
Quite worrying development. I don't see why DHS should police IP.
17
adam_rex 5 days ago 0 replies      
The proper name should be the Union of Motherland Securities (it might be a better fit for them to be a part of old Soviet Union)
7
Google humans.txt google.com
343 points by Anon84  4 days ago   57 comments top 26
1
Sukotto 4 days ago 0 replies      
I was expecting something like

  Hi! Thanks for visiting us.

Feel free to look around in:
/accounts/o8/id
/ads/preferences/html/
/ads/preferences/plugin
/alerts/manage
/books/about
/booksrightsholders
/globalmarketfinder/*.html

[snip]

Please stay out of:
/accounts/o8
/aclk
/addurl/image?
/ads/preferences/
/advanced_blog_search
/advanced_group_search
/adwordsresellers
/alerts/
/analytics/admin/

[snip]

2
mrspeaker 4 days ago 0 replies      
Damn, I was hoping they'd implemented the humans.txt captcha to keep out humans: http://www.mrspeaker.net/2010/07/15/humans-txt/
4
eschulte 4 days ago 0 replies      
no linebreaks? it's not animals.txt

gentlemen stay within 79 characters of the start of a line

5
Andrex 4 days ago 2 replies      
Gmail has one too, I noticed the other day: https://mail.google.com/humans.txt
6
dude_abides 4 days ago 0 replies      
http://www.bing.com/humans.txt should be there in about 2 weeks
7
jarin 4 days ago 1 reply      
I think humans.txt is great, but it would be even better if the "standard" was to use a human/machine-readable format like YAML. The example on the website is really close to that.

Yes, I know it's an ironic request.

8
nhebb 4 days ago 1 reply      
"Google is built by a large team of engineers, designers, researchers, robots ..."

Wait, does that say "robots"? This is how it starts people, with a robot creating a humans.txt text file, posing as a friendly Googler. Bill Joy must feel so vindicated now.

9
dexen 4 days ago 0 replies      
Just for the fun factor: http://www.hasthelhcdestroyedtheearth.com/robots.txt

(also, the comments in the source of the root page, http://www.hasthelhcdestroyedtheearth.com/)

11
ma2rten 4 days ago 0 replies      
Here is a google query that lets you find people's human.txt files
http://www.google.com/search?q=filetype%3Atxt+inurl%3Ahumans...
12
bradya 4 days ago 0 replies      
The HTML5 boilerplate provides a boilerplate humans.txt

https://github.com/paulirish/html5-boilerplate/blob/master/h...

14
autalpha 4 days ago 0 replies      
15
jschuur 4 days ago 0 replies      
So basically, Google has too many people for them to be able to list them all. Or Google didn't want to try and list them, thinking they might miss someone, or subject them to poaching.

That seems to be a fundamental problem with humans.txt: The bigger, more interesting a project gets, it creates several reasons why it will only vaguely be able to lost anything, out of a conflict of interest, rather than give full credit to the team behind the site.

17
jonah 4 days ago 1 reply      
Not too much interesting in the headers. ;)

  x-content-type-options: nosniff

Server: sffe [1]

[1] http://code.google.com/p/sffe/ ?

18
cellis 4 days ago 0 replies      
Which reminds me of Google Code Jam ... which starts in 2hrs. I'm not really expecting anything but i'll try the problems.
19
PhatBaja 4 days ago 2 replies      
Why is this the top article on HN? Is it really that relevant to talk about this?
20
ignifero 4 days ago 0 replies      
Don't believe this, people. It's obviously planted evidence. We are not alone ...
21
hackermom 4 days ago 0 replies      
Why aren't programmers mentioned explicitly? :/
22
kennymeyers 4 days ago 0 replies      
The irony of the words contrasted with naming the file human.txt is not lost on me.
23
GMali 4 days ago 0 replies      
Apparently, Facebook does not have any humans.
24
dmor 4 days ago 0 replies      
Clever
25
chuckywhat 4 days ago 0 replies      
This is a pleasant surprise. Will also install the chrome ext. kudos
26
jhonnycano 4 days ago 1 reply      
what is this for?
8
FBI Tracking Device Teardown ifixit.com
316 points by mikecarlton  2 days ago   79 comments top 11
1
18pfsmt 1 day ago 2 replies      
What I found interesting by component:

-Battery pack
--The device is powered by four lithium-thionyl chloride (Li-SOCl2) D cell batteries
--Each cell is good for 13,000 mAh and are suited for extremely low-draw applications where longevity is needed, making them ideal for powering an always-on transmitter/receiver
--Minimal service life is 10 years.

-GPS antenna
--A quick peek at the antenna board indicates it was manufactured by SIgem, a company that partnered with Tyco in the early 2000s to make GPS components.
--The FBI really did not want anyone tampering with the innards of their tracking devices. The screws were coated with so much threadlocker that we had to break out the power drill and eliminate the screw heads.
--The module providing the GPS signal processing on this device is a µ-blox GPS-MS1 that's sort of ancient in the realm of modern electronics.
--This module was 1st released June 29, 1999 and it features 0.125 MB of SRAM and 1 MB of flash memory.

-Transmitter/receiver ICs
--XEMICS XE1201 Ultra low power single chip transceiver
---The XE1201 allows for data transmission and data reception in half duplex mode.
--RFM RF1172 SAW (surface-acoustic-wave) filter
---The RF1172 provides front-end selectivity (the capability to separate signals in one frequency from all other frequencies) in 433.92 MHz receivers.

[Edit: Please note, much of the text above is c/p'd from the ifixit post.]

2
jrockway 1 day ago 4 replies      
Those batteries are impressive. I did some Googling and found:

http://www.batterymart.com/p-ls33600-ba-d-size-lithium-cell....

61 Watt-hours. That little battery could power a 60W light bulb for an hour!

(I'm currently working on a bluetooth -> IR bridge. I was worred about battery life from a coin cell, but now I'm not anymore. I will get one of these in half-AA size and keep the thing powered for the next decade :)

3
kwiens 1 day ago 7 replies      
I did the teardown, and I'm a regular hacker news reader. I'll answer any questions for the next hour or so.
4
SlowOnTheUptake 1 day ago 3 replies      
If the trackee removed this from his own car and attached it to some other car, would he be violating some law?
5
SpacemanSpiff 1 day ago 1 reply      
Wow, the components on the GPS board look like they are hand soldered, which to me means very low volume/specialized production.
6
sebastianavina 1 day ago 1 reply      
So, can we study the frequency and if the out signal uses any encryption?

Maybe we can use a homemade receiver to find the people the FBI is tracking...

7
adolph 1 day ago 3 replies      
I wonder where they got the device? In Wired's account, the FBI demanded back from a fellow who found one on his car:

http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2010/10/fbi-tracking-device...

8
daimyoyo 1 day ago 2 replies      
I don't want to trivialize how scary it is that the FBI does this, but what I found interesting about this story was the insane capacity of the batteries. Why aren't more consumer electronics(especially iStuff where they aren't user serviceable) using this technology?
9
rglover 1 day ago 0 replies      
Checking under my car with a mirror after work.
10
alecco 1 day ago 0 replies      
I'd love to see how much those devices cost. And the TCO.
11
pyrhho 1 day ago 0 replies      
I want a kit! Would be good fun to play with.
10
FBI: If you knew what your phone company tells us, you'd probably sue aclu.org
309 points by trotsky  12 hours ago   57 comments top 8
1
pstack 0 minutes ago 0 replies      
Are you kidding? While we're a litigation-happy society, we are also entirely content with letting government and business trample all over us without raising an eyebrow, much less a finger.

We let companies get away with destroying the economy through sloppy and greedy irresponsible behavior and then we cover their asses by bailing them out. Because the committees that determine their bailing out are filled with former/current executives of the same companies they're bailing out (Goldman Sachs, for example).

We let companies stick dangerous and unproven chemicals in our food, soda, animals with little evidence that it's safe beforehand and little oversight afterhand, because the various government agencies (FDA, for example) are staffed primarily with executives of the companies that are trying to ram these things through (aspartame, roundup-ready seeds, rbgh in milk, etc).

We have food that is mass produced in conditions that are horrifying to anyone who, even if they love meat like I do, don't like to see living creatures abused and tortured in the process and that are filthy and commonly spread disease (that we see reports of all the time on the news when there are outbreaks and recalls), because the FDA and other agencies are - again - staffed with current/former executives of the biggest food manufacturers and processors in the world.

So if we know all of these things and we don't care (I'm sipping on a diet coke and eating a processed microwave burrito right now, for example), why should I expect that people are going to give much more concern to their privacy or the liberties of anyone else around them? Unless they think you're taking jesus away from them, cheap gasoline away from them, or their $5 latte away from them, or their favorite television show away from them . . . they don't fucking care.

Not only don't they care, but a big percentage will always play the role of apologist. For anything. FBI pouring through your personal information, using your geolocation data. Whatever it is, the complaining voices are always few and the people taking action even fewer.

2
fleitz 12 hours ago 2 replies      
You know you might not be serving the public interest if... "The stigma of working with the FBI might cause customers to ... file civil actions to further prevent the disclosure of information"
3
drivebyacct2 12 hours ago 2 replies      
Again, this is all ancient news. We've known for years now that the FBI has had eavesdropping ability not just on phones but on the Internet. We've had whistle blowers talk about installing large routers to duplicate and divert Internet traffic on huge top-tier ISP levels.

Time and time again, no one cares or at least cares enough to do anything.

4
jcampbell1 10 hours ago 1 reply      
This is why you should use Skype. The only phone service not based in the US... oh, wait a second.

Seriously, though, I wonder if the FBI can eavesdrop on a Skype call. It seems like it would be damn near impossible because it is peer to peer and encrypted.

5
hugh3 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Question: if you're embarrassed about the idea of the FBI knowing something about you, then why are you cool with the idea of the phone company knowing it?
6
wattsbaat 12 hours ago 2 replies      
This why the recent iPhone location data "scare" doesn't make sense to me. The wireless carriers must have MUCH more extensive location data on a much larger user base. I understand the growing concern over privacy issues as more companies begin aggregating user data etc, and I'm glad that people are (hopefully) becoming more aware of this issue, but shouldn't we react a bit more proportionately to corporate violations of user privacy?
7
forensic 12 hours ago 1 reply      
I wonder how much of this applies to Facebook.
8
rglover 12 hours ago 1 reply      
Honestly at this point, most people should expect this sort of behavior from any type of telecom company. Yeah, it sucks but it's the name of the game. Take into consideration that the gov owns the air space/spectrum these companies use, and you'll understand why they're so compliant with releasing information. The only way this will change is if there's a privatization of air space which at this point is seemingly impossible.
12
Google Code University google.com
278 points by franze  1 day ago   38 comments top 10
1
giu 1 day ago 1 reply      
It's an awesome collection of resources, really! I've worked my way through Google's Python Class (https://code.google.com/intl/de/edu/languages/google-python-...) for a crash course in Python, and it helped me quite a lot so far.
2
davidmathers 1 day ago 3 replies      
From Introduction to Databases and MySQL:

Such keys make it possible to relate the tables to one another, so we can, for example, find the customer information given a key value in the order table. A foreign key is a key used to link two tables together. Typically you take the primary key field from one table (customer) and insert it into the other table (order) where it becomes a foreign key (it remains a primary key in the original (customer) table). This type of structure is called a relational database: we have multiple tables that connect to one another via keys.

It's really jarring to see such wrongness published under the banner of "Google Code University." I've come to terms with the fact that in the minds of most web/MySQL programmers the term "relational database" means graph/network database. But I still don't expect to see it published by the denizens of a top engineering firm that hires only the best and brightest.

3
swannodette 1 day ago 1 reply      
I find it humorous that the Programming Languages list only covers imperative languages that are roughly similar in design.

Scheme mentioned here, http://code.google.com/edu/submissions/ucberkeley-parallelis...

The following link, http://code.google.com/edu/languages/index.html#_java_racede..., is even more fascinating. It shows how to detect race conditions in concurrent Java programs. What does it use? JChord? What is JChord built on? Datalog implemented via Binary Decision Diagrams!

Yet no classes on Logic Programming.

4
nickik 1 day ago 1 reply      
Cool, didn't know there was so much stuff on distributed systems on there. (I have like 100h of Videos I want to watch Interduction to Algorithems, Multicore stuff, compiler courses and much more)
5
singular 1 day ago 0 replies      
Aha! I didn't realise they had resources on algorithms, very nice, nice to have some overview slides on the fundamentals.
6
fractalcat 1 day ago 0 replies      
I found myself in a startup last year with web applications to write and no idea how to write them; a colleague pointed me to GCU. I didn't find it very useful at the time, but in retrospect this was simply because I don't have the attention span to watch videos and the textual content is pretty basic and limited.
7
jeffreymcmanus 22 hours ago 1 reply      
Dear web sites comprised of videos of lectures: videos of lectures are not "courses" or "universities". In fact, the lecture is arguably the least valuable part of a course or a university. Stop degrading the value of online learning by pretending you're a university. Thanks.
8
arocks 1 day ago 0 replies      
Would have been much more convenient if they had converted all these Word documents to a more multimedia-rich web format
9
giis 1 day ago 0 replies      
thanks for the useful link :D
10
wyclif 1 day ago 1 reply      
Has this not been submitted to HN many times before?
13
Getting Users For Your New Startup pud.com
274 points by pud  4 days ago   59 comments top 13
1
rfrey 4 days ago 1 reply      
Good story idea: “I'm not sure if my thing is legal.”

This is definitely going to the top of my how-to-bait-reporters list.

2
pud 4 days ago 5 replies      
I wasn't sure whether to put the Hacker News reference in there, for fear that people might come out of the wordwork trying to game HN after reading this.

That's why I also put in the line about not spamming. I can get rid of the HN link if people think I should.

3
davidu 4 days ago 0 replies      
pud taught me a whole lot when I worked for him. good to see him blogging.
4
thekevan 4 days ago 2 replies      
"If the writer doesn't respond, try a different one. But only one at a time " they won't like you if you give the same story to their competitor. "

What is a good amount of time to wait between contacting writers? Or how much time has to pass without a response for you to to decide to move on to the next one?

5
nikcub 4 days ago 1 reply      
> Good story idea: “My competitor raised $20 million, yet my thing is better.”

That is a good way to get into a writers spam bin. Every writer gets 5-6 stories about related companies when they post something, and it is annoying

6
random42 3 days ago 0 replies      
Startup Idea(?) - Marketing/PR company to get you beta/real users for your tech/other startup, so that you can foucs on what you are good at, focusing on the product. Charges per user acquired.
7
ignifero 4 days ago 0 replies      
A bit on the evil side, but thanks for sharing. What about cross-promotion? I believe already-proven entrepreneurs have multiple channels (online and offline) to promote subsequent ventures. Also, controversy is popular, but is it viable in the long run? There is a line between disruption and controversy, and many startups prefer not to cross it (i m hopeful they choose so for ethical reasons). There's more to make out of a startup than money.
8
nhangen 4 days ago 1 reply      
What's up with the highlighting?
9
marcamillion 4 days ago 1 reply      
The issue with articles like this, for me, is that it doesn't quite specify who this will work for.

As in, it works for sites that just need a ton of users - but not so much for niche-specific webapps that charge.

If you are trying to build a community and need a lot of numbers in a very short period of time, then sure....but if you want to find your users for your specific niche...this advice doesn't quite work.

10
danzheng 4 days ago 3 replies      
what about offline events? Are they effective? I recall Yelp did a lot of that in the early days.
11
dennisgorelik 4 days ago 2 replies      
Why is his web site (Blippy) on a steep decline:
http://siteanalytics.compete.com/blippy.com/
?
12
Vmabuza 4 days ago 0 replies      
One of the best articles i ever read on startup Marketing.
13
ballard 4 days ago 0 replies      
Startup Bus.
14
The author of Nginx on why V8 is not suitable for web servers google.com
269 points by hanszeir  5 days ago   70 comments top 24
1
baguasquirrel 5 days ago 12 replies      
It's scary what you can do with machine translation these days...
2
daeken 5 days ago 2 replies      
While an interesting article in its own right, it has nothing to do with node.js, except that this happens to be a criticism of the way V8 works, which node.js is built on. However, they may not be using things in the same way he is, or there could be mitigating circumstances which make it possible for node.js to pull this off. (I don't know anything about node.js internals, I just know this article isn't about it, as the title indicates.)

Edit: This was written when the title was "The author of Nginx on node.js and why V8 is not suitable for web servers". It's since been changed.

3
ErikCorry 5 days ago 2 replies      
Speaking only for myself as ever:

Handling out of memory errors is a hard problem. At the point when you can't allocate more memory you are busted in most languages. For example in C a slightly deeper function call depth can cause the stack to expand at any point. If that point coincides with you running out of memory then you are busted. No program can keep running with a broken stack.

If V8 were capable of recovering from out-of-memory errors then you would still have to go through all of node and all the native libraries that it uses and check that they can handle any allocation failing.

And if V8 handled out-of-memory errors with exceptions then you have two choices. Either make the exceptions uncatchable, in which case the JS program running in the server has no way to recover and is probably in an inconsistent state. Or make the exceptions catchable, in which case there is no guarantee that any memory will ever be freed up and you are back to square one.

I think it's possible to make V8 more resistant to out of memory situations. I don't think it's possible to make it bulletproof, and I don't think there are many server apps that have this property. Do people run Java servers in such a way that they are often getting out of memory exceptions, recovering, and then continuing to serve? I don't think so.

In practice the way most servers work is that you give them plenty of memory and you write your server app in such a way that it does not use unlimited memory.

If there are non-out-of-memory errors that V8 is failing to recover from then these are bugs and should be reported. I can't think of any examples off-hand.

As far as the other comments go they seem to assume that you will want to use a V8 context per connection. Node uses one V8 context for all connections, so the comments don't apply. Context creation has been speeded up a lot since the article was written, but this is only for the browser. Node doesn't need it.

4
wrs 5 days ago 0 replies      
At Microsoft, I watched (from afar) the incredibly painful multi-year process of making a complex language runtime intended for one environment (.NET for IIS) satisfy the requirements of a very different environment (SQL Server). When fundamental design assumptions like "memory allocation failures can kill the process" have to change, it's a big deal.

Seems like process isolation a la fastcgi is the practical way to go, unless the V8 team itself wants V8 to be embeddable in a "reliable" way (meaning, it recovers from its own errors without corrupting the process it's embedded in).

5
EGreg 5 days ago 1 reply      
Sysoev brings up a couple good points that affect Node.js .

1) The fact memory allocation might crash the process is a serious problem. Is this still the case?

2) The fact that garbage collection is still stop-the-world may be a problem for server availability. Are we able to call the generational collector from node, or no?

Things that don't involve node:

The ability to create multiple objects in different contexts. Sysoev is thinking of the "scripting" model, like PHP, which is not how Node does things. Node just runs one process to handle thousands of requests, not thousands of processes or threads. There is no need.

6
cagenut 5 days ago 1 reply      
These only sound like problems if you need to keep it single process. If you break out the javascript interpreter via fastcgi workers just like people do with php on nginx it becomes mostly moot points right? At that point its limited to 500 req/sec/core, but frankly these days that means 4000 req/s, which, hell, I'll take it.

Granted thats assuming you can actually run a fastcgi/v8 setup, I've never looked. I wonder how hard a mod_v8 for apache prefork would be.

7
stewars 5 days ago 0 replies      
Node does not create a new V8 context for each request so the 2ms => max 500 requests per second scaling problem does not exist with Node.
8
ballard 5 days ago 1 reply      
Node.js is often used because it is cool, new and easier for front-end developers to develop a functioning backend.

For more traditional uses that want something less hackish, erlang for example, crashes only a single thread not the entire vm. Functional programming languages in general like haskell and erlang are interesting for backend core services.

9
JulianMorrison 5 days ago 1 reply      
IIRC, on Linux at least the memory allocation thing is moot. If your process runs out of memory, it dies anyway. You can't catch "malloc says no" because malloc never says no. It either says yes or blows your process's brains out.
10
delinka 5 days ago 1 reply      
I keep seeing these replies on how well Google Translate performed. I didn't realize while reading that it was machine-translated, but my immediate thought was "this person is not a native English speaker or needs much work his attempt at Yoda-speak does."
11
IgorSysoev 5 days ago 0 replies      
The title is "Why V8 is not suitable for EMBEDDING in servers".
12
shadowsun7 5 days ago 1 reply      
A thought: why not have node developers fork V8, and modify that to make it ready for server deployment? Has the coreteam and/or Dahl thought about this?
13
olegp 5 days ago 0 replies      
A lot of the points raised are an issue only for long running processes. Akshell (http://www.akshell.com), for example, has synchronous I/O libraries and uses an Apache MPM like model, so for us the limits are less of a concern.
14
glesperance 5 days ago 0 replies      
The state of todays base of node (v8) has nothing to do with the concept/paradigm its trying to put forward -- that is event driven web apps. Hence, one must not discard node as a bad solution only because v8 is not optimal in all situations.

Everything is always a work in progress.

15
rhasson 5 days ago 0 replies      
it's a great write up and the context issue seems interesting, however it's from Feb 2010 according to the last paragraph and a lot has changed in V8 since
16
sassafras 5 days ago 0 replies      
As I'm sure others will point out, this article has less to do with node.js as it does with embedding v8 in Nginx. Although since node.js runs in v8, I suppose you could interpret it that way.
17
ma2rten 5 days ago 0 replies      
That might as well be the best Google Translate translation I ever read.
18
gtdminh 5 days ago 1 reply      
in russian : Почему Google V8 пока не под...одит для встраивания в серверы
in english : Why is Google V8 is not suitable for integration into servers.

There is a word "integration" that the author of the post forgot to put in.

19
bengtan 5 days ago 0 replies      
Hmmm... I read this title as 'The author of Nginx on why (Nginx) V8 is not suitable for web servers' and I'm thinking ... huh?

Does someone want to change the title to be clearer?

20
Klinky 5 days ago 0 replies      
It sounds like more of the concern is that V8 is/was buggy & had some situations where performance would be compromised. I don't think it's a slam saying it could never be used.
21
mythz 5 days ago 0 replies      
When Igor speaks, I listen.
22
mraleph 5 days ago 0 replies      
Right title for this 2 years old article is "Why V8 is not suitable for nginx".

He has his own set of requirements which by no means applies to _all_ webservers.

23
VB6_Foreverr 5 days ago 0 replies      
Maybe it's just me but every time I see V8 i think it's VB
24
jorangreef 5 days ago 1 reply      
Likewise, Nginx is not suitable as a reverse proxy for streaming web servers, since Nginx proxies HTTP 1.0 not HTTP 1.1.
15
Hacking Hacker News Headlines metamarketsgroup.com
267 points by th0ma5  5 days ago   34 comments top 11
1
vnorby 5 days ago 1 reply      
So the optimal hacker news headline is as follows:

Why showing the future is essential to acquiring data

Noted.

2
joshu 5 days ago 2 replies      
I feel like you should work in absolute points-space, rather than rank-space.

Also, no clue if the factors you pulled out are orthogonal.

3
agscala 5 days ago 1 reply      
I'm not sure if I'm being naive, but does the '|' and the '-' have some sort of NLP significance?

From the article, what's the difference between "data |" and
"data -" ?

4
pge 5 days ago 2 replies      
And, the best headline for Hacker News is a headline about hacking Hacker News Headlines :) way to put the research to good use...
5
gjm11 5 days ago 0 replies      
Very nice, but the analysis seems to assume that HN rank is determined by the headline and not by the content. (More precisely: for the analysis to give useful guidance to would-be HN headline writers, it needs not to be the case that content features correlated with headline features make a big difference to HN rank.)

My proposal for a good headline according to the numbers in this article: Showing why impossible future controversy survived the problem could hire data. Score: 1.3 (could) + 1.2 (problem) + 1.3 (survived the) + 1.0 (controversy) + 0.9 (impossible) + 0.7 (why ___ future) - 3.3 (11 words) + 2.6 (showing) + 0.5 (hire) + 1.9 (data [END]) = 8.1. For comparison, Why showing the future is essential to acquiring data gets 1.4 (essential) + 0.7 (why ___ future) - 2.7 (9 words) + 2.6 (showing) + 1.7 (acquiring) + 1.9 (data) = 5.6 -- except that it doesn't really get the points for "essential" (not at start) or "why ___ future" (two words in between) or "acquiring" (not in second place, word isn't quite right). Of course my headline has the little drawback of being total nonsense.

6
vorbby 5 days ago 1 reply      
As a counter-point...

This headline uses none of the hacks described in the article, yet it is ranking quite well.

Perhaps people should focus on letting the content speak for itself rather then using tricks like this?

7
brendano 5 days ago 1 reply      
Great -- I'm hoping L1-regularized logistic regression will become the standard first thing to try in these quick-n-dirty "predict response variable from text" experiments. That's our approach too. (I assume this is L1 or similar since you mention regularization causing feature selection.)

[[ Edit: deleted question about what 'k' is for the discretized 1{ rank <= k } response. It's mentioned in the article ]]

8
vlokshin 5 days ago 0 replies      
64% isn't the greatest accuracy, but you guys were transparent about everything and the numbers look legit. Awesome job putting this together!
9
powdahound 5 days ago 0 replies      
It'd be interesting to see how the domain shown next to the title factors into this too. Seems like everything from GitHub always does very well.
10
kingsidharth 5 days ago 2 replies      
I though this problem was with Digg, but I've experienced same with my submissions. It's funny that people judge content by headlines, we need a better way.
11
bzupnick 5 days ago 0 replies      
also cleaning up the graph somehow would be great
16
Apple not providing LGPL webkit source code for latest iOS 4.3.x gnumonks.org
271 points by gnufs  4 days ago   112 comments top 13
1
Xuzz 4 days ago 3 replies      
For iOS 4.1, which came out in September 2010, absolutely no GPL code for it (or later versions, like 4.2) was posted until March 2011. That's not 8 weeks: that's about 6 months.

When comex (http://twitter.com/comex) and saurik (http://saurik.com/) asked for it (via emails to opensource@apple.com and copyright@apple.con) around last November, I don't think they got any response from Apple "until this year. Then, Apple let them know that it would be up "within a week". I think the iOS 4.1 and 4.2 code actually went up about three weeks after they received that email.

saurik has even more examples of them not releasing the [L]GPL'd code near the top of this post: http://www.saurik.com/id/4 " "Frankly, I wouldn't be surprised at all if Apple ends up on the bad end of a GPL-related lawsuit."

(In my opinion, the fact Apple has posted any code for iOS 4.3 at this point is a big step in the right direction: they're not perfect yet, but at least they've got 8/10 of the projects up.)

2
Macha 4 days ago 3 replies      
Apple, as with many other companies, does not understand that it has to release the source simultaneously with the program using it.

Despite the articles claim, Apple has not released the source in s timely manner for previous versions of iOS, instead waiting for it to be pointed out or for version N+1 or N+2 to be released first.

3
r00fus 4 days ago 1 reply      
As a hardcore Apple fan, I strongly hope one of the non-Apple contributors to Webkit sends a source request to Apple with the implicit threat of lawsuit.

Big companies don't treat others with kid gloves when it comes to licensing and copyright, so why should we take it from them?

4
GHFigs 4 days ago 2 replies      
Are you sure about that?

http://trac.webkit.org/browser/trunk/Source/WebCore

Edit: I would greatly appreciate an explanation of what is inappropriate about the above link.

5
Maci 4 days ago 1 reply      
While in all likelihood it's a legal and bureaucratic issue causing delay, I can see how this is considered bad form.

However, I've made an attempt at understanding the source release obligations under the GPL and all I get from it is: When you release to the public, you've got to release the source. But at no point have I found a "it has to be released immediately."

http://www.gnu.org/licenses/gpl-faq.html#GPLRequireSourcePos...

The only clause I can see Apple potentially hiding under is Section 3.B of the GPL.
ie. as long as they have the door open for written requests all is well.

http://www.gnu.org/licenses/gpl-2.0.html

Can someone please clarify for me how the "well intended" spirit of the license works versus the real world legalities and requirements ?

6
cppsnob 4 days ago 0 replies      
I'm still waiting for that "open" FaceTime specification.
7
dedward 3 days ago 0 replies      
Who holds the copyright on that webkit source code in question?
8
benatkin 1 day ago 0 replies      
9
crs 4 days ago 1 reply      
So is the issue here that they have not packaged it up for people and put it on opensource.apple.com? Is the source not available in the official repository at webkit.org?
10
rewqwefqwerf 4 days ago 2 replies      
You just need the copyright owners to sue now.
The copyright holders can also ask the SFLC do it for them, I'm sure they would love it.
11
0x1337 3 days ago 0 replies      
Knowing how evil and secretive Apple is, I would not expect them to care much about open licenses.
12
nikcub 4 days ago 0 replies      
This only becomes a real issue when one of the KHTML copyright holders makes it an issue

which they haven't.

13
vaporstun 4 days ago  replies      
Anyone else find this to be a bit over-dramatic?

They have released every other version and just haven't released the 4.3.x one yet. There is no indication that they refuse to release it ever, the site still says "Coming Soon" and it has still been < 2 months since 4.3 was released.

Yes, I understand that under the GPL they're supposed to release it simultaneously with the launch, which they failed to do, but is this really front page news?

17
Joe Hewitt : I'm an indie developer now. joehewitt.com
277 points by threepointone  4 days ago   54 comments top 20
1
CoffeeDregs 4 days ago 1 reply      
It's always exciting to bump into, meet or find out about someone who can see interesting possibilities where others see nothing. I don't know Joe, but he seems like one of those people (Firebug, FTW!).

At the same time, I'm always kind of bummed when those people are snapped up by a large company because their ability to produce the mind-binding ideas seems diminished or, at least, less visible among the many large accomplishments/events of a large company. Good to see that one of the lateral thinkers is returning to where we can more easily see his ideas in practice.

Firebug: I remember the first time I left behind the edit-save-refresh-cry-because-my-padding-was-wrong cycle of HTML/CSS development for the Firebug-driven-tweaks flow. Excellent.

2
nathanlrivera 4 days ago 0 replies      
Haha: <img class="profilePic" src="/themes/pimp/me.jpg" title="Ladies - I'm taken.">
3
wallflower 4 days ago 2 replies      
"I want desperately to be a web developer again, but if I have to wait until 2020 for browsers to do what Cocoa can do in 2010, I won't wait." -Joe Hewitt [1]

I wonder if Joe Hewitt is not going to wait, and he will channel his energies into helping HTML5 catch the native app rocket ships. Go beyond Firebug.

[1] http://techcrunch.com/2010/04/30/joe-hewitt-web-development/

4
6ren 4 days ago 2 replies      
It sometimes seems it's difficult to make money from making tools, because developers expect them for free, and with source (like Firebug). But of course it is possible, with products like Joel's FogBugz, like Jira and some IDE's.

Even serious money: Microsoft's Developer Tools (Visual Studio) business made over $1B revenue last year:
http://www.techflash.com/seattle/2010/07/microsofts_11_billi...

5
jarin 4 days ago 1 reply      
Leaving Facebook to reinvent Firebug is actually pretty baller, I gotta say.
6
KVFinn 3 days ago 0 replies      
Firebug is a boon to humanity. Seriously.

The second it came out, it personally started saving me hours of work every single week. If you multiply that by the number of people working with the web, damn, that's like millions of hours? Billions?

I think it was Vint Cerf who said something like: if you want to have the most profound effect on the world you can, rather than work on a particular problem, work on tools that help problems get solved and accelerate the process everywhere.

7
soapdog 4 days ago 0 replies      
I just want to thank you for firebug again. Day after Day it just saves my life.
8
pvsnp 4 days ago 0 replies      
Thanks for making firebug. Good luck on future projects.
9
threepointone 4 days ago 1 reply      
Btw, the submission title is from his tweet announcing this blog post.
10
jcampbell1 4 days ago 0 replies      
Between firebug, three20, iui, joe has a history of making tools that make really hard things easy. I look forward to what he builds next.
11
guelo 4 days ago 3 replies      
I have no idea what Joe's option situation is, but supposing that he's cashing them in and dumping them in the secondary market it goes to show that Facebook is squandering the employee lock-in advantage of having pre-IPO stock. It's probably in Facebook's interest to shut down the secondary market, but I imagine zuck and co like being somewhat liquid for personal reasons.
12
kunalb 4 days ago 1 reply      
As someone about to join Facebook for his first job in a few months, posts like these make me even more enthusiastic about starting work!

It would have been even more cool to work alongside the creator of firebug, though.

13
rman666 4 days ago 0 replies      
Continued success, Joe! Thanks for Firebug, and all your other work.
14
thezilch 4 days ago 0 replies      
@joehewitt, open source? And where can we expect to start contributing to the tool-chain?
15
_ankit_ 4 days ago 0 replies      
This is great news for us developers and designers. Inspiring too
16
waynesutton 4 days ago 0 replies      
Thinking since @joehewitt left @facebook he's going to be drinking @milk with @kevinrose soon.
17
danzheng 4 days ago 0 replies      
Can't wait to see what Joe comes out with next. But do take some time off first
18
asadotzler 4 days ago 0 replies      
Dom Inspector FTW!
19
jerhewet 4 days ago 0 replies      
I'd love to work with this guy. Wonder if he's up for a position with a small team of craftsmen... (yeah, we're actually hiring, if anyone is interesting in working out of a small office in Carlsbad, CA!)
20
jcampbell1 4 days ago 2 replies      
>Working at Facebook was like having my own startup, but with a paycheck instead of ramen

Joe Hewitt hasn't worked for Facebook in years. This is old. Second, he wouldn't be eating ramen anyhow. Facebook bought his company for the employees (primarily him). He went on to make the iPhone facebook app, which has been wildly popular.

18
Why the US can beat China: The Facts about SpaceX Costs spacex.com
251 points by cwan  4 days ago   99 comments top 14
1
mixmax 3 days ago 7 replies      
Although it's a bit of an apple to oranges comparison Copenhagen suborbitals are on the trajectory to launching a human into space in around three years time. In a months time they'll have their first testflight from Bornholm in the baltic sea. They're doing this whole thing based on nothing but sponsors and goodwill. Their budget is around $8000 a month - orders of magnitude lower than spacex. They also built the worlds largest homemade submarine btw.

Until now they've developed solid rocket boosters, parachutes, recovery programs, astrouanut survival and cockpit, etc. etc. and have not run into major problems yet.

Some links:

Website: http://www.copenhagensuborbitals.com

Static test of solid rocket booster (110.000 HP): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3g_xjGOJRws&feature=relat...

TEDx talk by Christian Von Bengtson: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ua9oGxNNGd0

All their technology is open source by the way.

Shameless plug: These guys survive on donations, and a few months ago I helped start a support organization to help them survive economicvally. It's $20 a month to be a member, and we really need more members so we can get these guys into space. If you feel this is a worthy cause and want to join send me an e-mail (it's in my profile). Our website is http://raketvenner.dk/ currently only in Danish...)

2
Symmetry 3 days ago 0 replies      
An illuminating anecdote:

A while ago my friend from work was at an base where SpaceX would be launching from. However, during the launch an anomaly was discovered and the countdown was suspended. At this point all the Air Force people went home, since they were used to this sort of thing taking a week to sort out, but the SpaceX people quickly isolated the problem and the launch only ended up being delayed an hour.

3
protomyth 3 days ago  replies      
I'm glad that SpaceX is so concerned with cost. It is sometimes hard for a company to stay focused on that when they get a government contract.

As for the rest, I would imagine when robots get good enough, then the incentive to use cheap labor in China drops and factories in the US become more economically viable.

4
erikpukinskis 3 days ago 1 reply      
COTS has proven that under the right conditions, a properly incentivized contractor " even an all-American one " can develop extremely complex systems on rapid timelines and a fixed-price basis, significantly beating historical industry-standard costs.

If the "right conditions" include having Elon Musk as CEO, then "proven" is probably a reasonable word.

5
bcl 3 days ago 0 replies      
SpaceX gives me hope that we can become a space-faring nation once again. The added bonus is that it is private industry doing it, not the behemoth bureaucracy that NASA has become.
6
burgerbrain 4 days ago 1 reply      
That 300Million figure to develop Falcon 9 seems stunningly low. Fascinating stuff.
7
olalonde 3 days ago 0 replies      
I don't want to sound too pessimistic but the trend in China is towards more free market capitalism whereas the opposite is happening in the US. Of course, trends can change and China is still far behind in terms of economic liberty.
8
adnam 3 days ago 1 reply      
It's funny, but this is the opposite of what happened during the 1950s space race. Russia, having less cash to spend, contracted work out various bidders, whereas america established the massively centralized NASA.
9
spartanfan10 3 days ago 0 replies      
Though I really don't like the idea of an "Us vs. Them" mentality in global development (it's been commented many times that this is not a zero sum game, there doesn't have to be winners and losers like in football), this article is inspiring. Congrats to Elon and SpaceX on their wonderful innovation.
10
jmtame 3 days ago 0 replies      
I didn't see this before, but the SpaceX office tour is pretty awesome: http://spacex.com/multimedia/videos.php?id=26
11
jmarbach 3 days ago 0 replies      
This is an inspiring mark of American spirit that has seemed to escape our minds amidst international business pressures. I'm grateful that we have hardworking leaders such as Elon who take risks when others won't, and are dedicated to living their dreams.
12
VB6_Foreverr 3 days ago 0 replies      
That blog post is written in such an unpretentious way.
Space travel with feet firmly planted on the ground
13
lostbit 3 days ago 0 replies      
Fine. This is definitely good news. It proves a company is doing a great job, it gives hope and inspiration to other business try to be innovative and bring back the American spirit. But what will happen to space programs if American economy goes into a harder crisis? People will probably vote not to launch anything, not to look at the sky, but to spend money on land issues instead. My big concern is regarding the end of the dollar as the world's reserve currency. That could bring many succesfull companies down, specially those on American markets only. China can be a big issue to America if it starts no to believe in dollar currency anymore. In this context, beating China on innovation at Space programs might not mean Americans won.
14
breathesalt 3 days ago 3 replies      
"Beat" China? Why not work together?
20
Apple's 30% vig for ebooks just killed the iFlow Reader app iflowreader.com
240 points by mikecane  14 hours ago   131 comments top 27
1
ghshephard 13 hours ago 4 replies      
Hopefully every (re)seller on the planet is now aware that they should not attempt to build a marketplace on the IOS platform without getting a licence agreement with Apple.

I'm very interested in seeing how Netflix and the Kindle play out on the iPad though. If Apple gets too agressive in trying to lock down revenues, they may just end up driving people off their platform on to Google's.

Thank goodness for competition - can you imagine if the iPad was the only tablet option for the next couple years. At least this way, Apple will have to exercise some restraint.

2
jaysonelliot 12 hours ago 2 replies      
I love the convenience of ebooks, but the ease of shenanigans in the distribution channel and the ability of a customer to lose an entire library's worth of books over business rules or technical issues distresses me.

When you read a paper book, you can be certain that the content in it is the same as when it was printed, and hasn't been edited or censored since you bought it. It can't be taken away from you by the publisher, except by physical force. You can resell it at will. Publishers and retailers who wants to try different pricing strategies can do so without facing the powerful control of Apple or Amazon.

I plan to keep on reading ebooks, but I'll buy the books I actually care about in physical form.

3
epistasis 13 hours ago 1 reply      
There are two components to this company: an eBook reading app, and a bookstore. They clearly took much more pride in the app, and that's where they have true value. With the store they are just middlemen, and though perhaps they could add value by helping people find they books they'd most enjoy, they don't seem to be innovating there. In the end their eBooks are just Adobe DRM protected ePubs.

So monetizing the middlemen part won't work, but aren't there any number of ways to monetize the reading app part? I, for one, wouldn't mind a flow-based reader. I've bought eBooks from a few places now, but also hate the page-turning interface.

This comes across as a stunt to try to change the agency model for book selling. Good luck on that, though, because now you need to convince both Apple and all the publishers to give them 20% again. But why would they do that? Extra middlemen are not going to offer 20% of value in a digital distribution chain.

4
GHFigs 11 hours ago 1 reply      
tl;dr : retailer's cut under agency model - platform provider's cut of in-app purchases = 0

The author attributes the agency model to Apple, which I think is understating the role of the publishers, who would have rejected it if it hadn't been very much in their own interests. Expecting the publishers to keep giving you outsized discounts[1] for no reason but inertia was a mistake. Even Amazon couldn't keep that gravy train rolling. The market was begging for a shaking and Apple shook.

[1]:Does this sound stable? "There is no comparison between the retailers' costs and risks associated with physical books and those associated with ebooks. There is no economic justification to providing the same level of discounts. But that's where we are." That's from April 2009. -- http://www.idealog.com/blog/ideas-triggered-by-amazon-buying...

5
mgkimsal 12 hours ago 1 reply      
As much as Apple is problematic here, the "90% of ebooks being controlled by 6 publishers who all fix prices and pricing rules" seem to be at least as big an issue as well.

I'd think there'd be an opp or two for someone to get in to publishing and selling just ebooks not owned by the big 6, but that market may be too small to try to nurture at this point.

6
trezor 7 hours ago 0 replies      
As a iPhone-user gone Android, I can't wait to see all the awesome services which will be coming my way as Apple makes iOS an unfeasible platform to build on.

So far their greed has been tolerated due to an early iOS lead on app-profitability. Now that the iPhone is getting (severely) dated with next to no advantages to bolster, and with Android overtaking iOS in every way (including the one which counts: marketshare) I can't see this holding up for very long.

Soon enough enough people will say "Fuck Apple" and just head to Android, leaving iOS as a niché market. Why develop for 10% of the world's smartphones when you could be doing 80%? Even if Android customers were 400% less willing to buy apps (and no, no current market trends indicate that is the case), Android would still be more profitable to developers.

Apple is doing some serious gambling here, and I honestly don't think it will play out to their advantage.

7
biot 10 hours ago 1 reply      
One word: disintermediation. iFlowReader was acting as an intermediary, selling a publisher's ebook to a reader and taking 50% of the revenue. Why should Random House pay someone 50% of the selling cost for doing an arbitrage play on a bunch of ones and zeros with no additional effort? Random House can cut out the middle man (who adds no value) and sell it themselves. It's a smart business move.

Now iFlowReader claims to offer a more compelling interface, so pivot and find a way to sell the reader software either to end-users who can import their already-purchased ebooks or license it to the publishers. Offer branded versions of the software to the publishers if it's that good and charge the publishers based on a percentage of the gross purchased through the software, which should be quite easy to track.

8
tsuraan 13 hours ago 2 replies      
I've never used the app, but I'm not seeing why their apparently unique approach to eBooks couldn't run on WebOS, Meego, or Android. I assume there's a good reason, since you don't throw away years of work easily, but I'd love to hear what that reason is.
9
inkaudio 3 hours ago 0 replies      
I wonder why so many publishers and resellers insist on building only native apps. With the current technology you could invest in a web app that is cross platform. DRM can be cracked and it's just an annoyance to people who want to pay for content.

However, if you insist on developing commercial apps on the IOS platform than you have to realize that sooner or later Apple will want a cut. In business their is no free lunch, people/companies always want something in return.

Google is no different, see: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2011/05/05/google_skyhook_case_...

A Massachusetts court has denied Google's efforts to dismiss a hot-button lawsuit that accuses the company of unfairly using its Android operating system to strong-arm mobile handset makers into using Google location services rather than those of rival Skyhook.

The suit specifically claims that Andy Rubin, who oversees Google's Android project, told Motorola co-CEO Sanjay Jha that if Motorola didn't drop Skyhook from its phones, Google would remove official Android support from the devices. This would mean the devices could not use proprietary Google apps or the Android name. The suit says that whereas Google paints Android as open source, Google still maintains exclusive oversight of the OS.

This may be even worse if entirely factual, because Google doing the exact opposite of what it claims to be.

10
nextparadigms 3 hours ago 1 reply      
The biggest problem I see with this is Apple won't even allow them to raise prices. So they are knowingly taking them out of the business when they take their 30% cut. If they are going to charge 30% for this, they might as well allow them to raise prices to remain profitable.

Why aren't these service companies switching to a HTML5 web app though? Wouldn't that allow them to continue their business untouched by Apple?

11
daimyoyo 12 hours ago 1 reply      
I think the lesson here is never build a business on another companies platform unless you have rock solid licenses guaranteeing they won't change the rules like this. Same thing for Twitter or Facebook. They can put you out of business if they choose to and it's not wise to give another company a kill switch for your investment.
12
ssebro 11 hours ago 1 reply      
This is exactly the reason that I haven't bought an iPad 2- I intend to use it for the netflix and kindle apps, and I'm not sure if they're still going to be there in 6 months. For a $500 device, the risk was just too high. I got a kindle instead, and I just use my laptop for netflix...
13
jimrandomh 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Have you consulted with any lawyers? You might have legal redress against Apple. (Or you might not, depending on details of the Sherman Antitrust Act and other laws with which I am not sufficiently familiar.
14
jacobian 12 hours ago 2 replies      
The link's plenty interesting, but next time please try to avoid editorializing in the title. A "vig" is the cut taken by a loan shark or bookie and has strong connotations of crime and dishonesty (at least in the US). Apple's not breaking any laws here (right?) so calling it a "vig" is pretty far off base.
15
Tyrannosaurs 6 hours ago 4 replies      
Why should I be that bothered about this?

As a consumer I want less people between me and the actual producer of the work so another intermediary going out of business bothers me not at all.

My ideal world is that I buy a novel direct from an author, perhaps paying a small commission to a single intermediary. Author to publisher to iFlow to Apple to me isn't efficient.

Yes there is an issue here with how Apple and the publishers behave but there is also a significant issue with how much value iFlow were adding in exchange for their cut. A slightly different (maybe better) reader simply isn't worth the 30% they seem to be planning on.

16
michaelcampbell 2 hours ago 0 replies      
I found it interesting (perhaps ironic), that that blog post, from a company who is in the ebook business, whose very domain is "iflowreader.com", doesn't flow the text to a narrow browser. It was unreadable on my handset due to the horizontal scrolling required, and I got horizontal scrollbars when I resized the PC browser to smaller than its width.
17
senthilnayagam 12 hours ago 0 replies      
Badmouthing iOS platform and appstore policies wont help.

They knew the risk when the appstore was launched, the only exit strategy was acquisition by a established publisher or seller, which did not materialize.

Apple is a thought leader, Android and others just copy their policies, so expecting the margins on other platform is not viable on longer term.

If I was CEO of iFlowReader I would retune the business models for current realities, tying up with self book publisher like lulu, xlibris, who can offer 50% margins on ebook sales.

18
richcollins 12 hours ago 0 replies      
Apple is doing the job of the publishers (marketing). If anything the publishers should reduce the amount that they take.
19
kleptco 9 hours ago 0 replies      
When you decide to develop for a platform, you are dependent on the platform provider's goodwill if they are not open source.

Why would anyone who has paid any attention to Apple, depend on their goodwill?

20
comex 10 hours ago 0 replies      
They should wait until June 30th and see what happens between Apple and Amazon.
21
axxl 13 hours ago 1 reply      
Out of curiosity, why can't they have it as a reader of books that you download on your computer and transfer over via iTunes/any local area network. I admit this is not what they wanted most likely, but they could look into developing applications for Android devices and such as well that allowed royalty-free purchase in an application. As an iOS developer myself, I believe this would bypass the restriction, but I don't know for sure.
22
robert_nsu 10 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm not sure how much money they have made over the time before Apple imposed a 30% fee on book sales and the like, but I fail to see why they couldn't port their app to another platform. You know, instead of kicking the sand around and calling it quits.
23
nnutter 12 hours ago 0 replies      
Their aesthetics are bad and their iTunes ratings are low. Pretty sure they would have lost to Kindle, iBooks, Nook, etc. anyway.
24
9999 13 hours ago 1 reply      
Correct me if I'm wrong, but couldn't they do what Amazon does and just redirect the user to Safari for purchasing books? I suppose that's a very small inconvenience compared to iBooks' direct purchase, but I find it worth the tradeoff to have my purchases available on more devices.
25
andrewcooke 13 hours ago 1 reply      
[mike, if you're the author, you've got a grammatical/cut+paste mixup: "The first of this letter part"]
26
marcamillion 10 hours ago 0 replies      
This is sad...but it has a very self-pittyish tone, which makes it come across as annoying. Like the brat at the party that everybody wants to smack.
27
GrandMasterBirt 13 hours ago 4 replies      
BOO FREAKETY HOO. They put all their eggs in apple's basket. Sorry dudes, bad strategy.
21
The Pirate Bay: “The Battle of Internets is About to Begin” torrentfreak.com
236 points by Uncle_Sam  2 days ago   99 comments top 13
1
schrototo 1 day ago 2 replies      
2
ChuckMcM 1 day ago 4 replies      
Its interesting that they don't mention Usenet.

For those of you to young to remember, what you now call "The Internet" was originally "ARPAnet" (and then DARPAnet) which was funded by the Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) but they had lots of rules about what you could and could not do on their network (as was their perrogative).

Some folks who wanted to be on the network didn't "qualify" because they were either too small, or not germane to the research goals. Other folks chafed at the restrictions.

My first encounter with the ARPAnet was in 1978 when I started at USC which had a node on the net (USC-ECLC) which was a DEC KI-20 running Tenex. When I graduated and went to work at Intel they weren't connected to the ARPAnet but they were running a 'usenet' node via modems and software called 'netnews'. The node, intelca, and the guy running it (Ken Shoemaker) were in my building at Intel. Since Ken was open to having the 'new guy' help out so I took on some fairly simple tasks of keeping it running.

Usenet was a simple store and forward network where nodes would call each other periodically on the phone and exchange data which was destined for other sites. Addressing was in the form of 'host!host!host!host!user' where each 'host' was a hop and if you could move something along you did.

Anyway, today, it is entirely possible (see the TOR network) to build a network which runs across the existing communications structure but uses a set of protocols that are 'invisible' (in the sense of firewalling and monitoring etc) to the host network. It makes building something which does what Usenet did (create a network with less authoritive oversight) much easier than it was in the past. I would not be surprised if such networks already existed although I am not aware of any at this time.

3
BonoboBoner 2 days ago 5 replies      
"In February, a secret meeting of the European Union's Law Enforcement Work Party (LEWP) resulted in a worrying proposal."

How can some small EU working group even dare to discuss my human rights in a secret meeting without any democratic legitimacy?

4
citricsquid 1 day ago  replies      
meh. I think this proposal is bad, but why can't a site that is not screwing others over come forward and be the public face of "championing" it?

Thepiratebay being a large voice against it will just harm the cause, "oh thepiratebay is breaking the law and losing musicians money and they are anti-censorship so censorship must be good to stop that illegal stuff".

5
FrojoS 1 day ago 2 replies      
Already, to some extend, Europe is not a part of the Internet anymore. At least here in Germany, I personally consider it fraud when Internet Service Provider offer "Internet access". Wrong label!

After returning from the US I got extremely frustrated that I wasn't able to listen to Pandora anymore (I'm even paying) or watch many of the best Youtube videos that happen to use popular music as background.

When I recently got access again, over my US friends University VPN, I felt a bit like a former east German, who managed to tweak his radio so he can listen to "west stations".

6
ErrantX 1 day ago 0 replies      
They will sell this with "think of the children" thing again, I am sure. Pisses me right off.

We fought this in the UK in the disguise of deep-packet filtering at the ISP's, that one floundered from the off but dragged out its demise for a good while before being sheleved.

Then France gave it a go with Loopsi, and unfortunately they seem to have managed to set a precedent for filtering/monitoring/blocking. It was only a matter of time before the EU got involved.

7
rmc 1 day ago 0 replies      
Clarification: The Pirate Bay is not totally blocked in Ireland. The largest broadband supplier (Eircom with about 80% residential market) block it. No other ISP in Ireland block it. Several others (eg UPC) are actively opposed to blocking it.
8
aphexairlines 1 day ago 0 replies      
The "copyright lobby"? Where is the technology lobby? I'm disappointed in our industry, especially given the enormous market caps of tech giants.
9
eitland 1 day ago 0 replies      
Seems like focusing on pirates now would be like running a campaign against burglary in 1939 /instead/ of mobilizing against nazi Germany?
10
mahrain 1 day ago 0 replies      
One of the issues is that "we" as internet community tend to protest online, for instance by blocking a site (DDOS) or sending tweets to politicians.

Europe doesn't realise this and might mistake the lack of angry people in the streets for "not caring" or "no problem", while complaining about "hackers" taking down web sites.

I'm afraid that there are only two options, either this gets blocked by the European Human Rights Court (article 10, freedom of speech) or we are going to get into a situation where we're China: internet filter plus many many tools to circumvent it.

I guess it's our first response to develop the latter and claim "we'll just use Tor / Freenet / VPN" but IMHO preventing the instatement of a filter in the first place would be a more noble struggle.

11
Sandman 1 day ago 2 replies      
So what if they do erect this "virtual wall"? People will just access those sites through some non-EU based proxy. Unless they block access to each and every non-EU based proxy, of course.
12
robbles 1 day ago 0 replies      
this just might be the most elaborate example of Godwin's Law I've ever seen.
13
boscomutunga 1 day ago 1 reply      
The religious war between pirates and copyright will always continue.
22
What percentage of people are alive today? 1000memories.com
230 points by jonathanbgood  1 day ago   89 comments top 17
1
petercooper 1 day ago 5 replies      
Not to detract from the insight but:

Until very recently life expectancy at birth hovered between 20 and 35 years, but in the past century it has risen to 67 years

Most of this increase has been due to a precipitous crash in infant mortality, rather than a soaring increase in the median life expectancy. For example, even in the 1500s it seems a well-to-do Englishman (who lived a somewhat more hazardous life medically than even today's poor) had an average life expectancy of 71 if he made it as far as 21: http://apps.business.ualberta.ca/rfield/lifeexpectancy.htm

2
georgieporgie 1 day ago 2 replies      
I thought that 'humans', as in, you would see one and say, "yeah, that weird looking guy over there," went back about 2.2 - 2.3 million years.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_evolution

Populations would have been small, but an extra 2.1 million years is a long time.

3
tel 1 day ago  replies      
Am I the only one absolutely terrified by that number?

Malthus wasn't wrong in principle, just in timescale. It's clear that technologies have improved Earth's human carrying capacity, but I don't know any method to claim that an S-shaped curve isn't inevitable.

It's sounds science fiction-ey, but I don't understand how you can see data like this and then defund NASA.

4
astrodust 1 day ago 1 reply      
This back-of-the-envelope calculation appears to be off by a factor of two, which isn't bad.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_population#Number_of_huma...

5
baddox 1 day ago 1 reply      
I've always wondered something about evolution (or rather, speciation): how many generations removed could an ancestor and descendant be and still be theoretically able to mate?

I'm sure the ability to mate isn't exactly the definition of a "species," but it seems like a decent way to get a grip on the extremely gradual genetic changes predicted/described by evolution. This article made me ask the question: How would you be able to recognize the "first human"?

6
riprock 1 day ago 0 replies      
i'm sure there is a more accurate prediction out there (explained in papers) by researchers who have spent way more time and effort into this subject. for us common folks, there's even a wikipedia answer:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_population#Number_of_huma...
7
iskander 1 day ago 1 reply      
They never say how they estimate births_t.
8
wbhart 1 day ago 1 reply      
This is an important computation. It's even scarier if you suppose that you are not in any way special. It is likely that you are not one of the first 5% of humans to ever live. Thus, given that such a great proportions of all humans who have every lived are alive now, the implication is that the human race hasn't got long to go even if the population remains constant! Or you could just assume you are special.
9
ck2 1 day ago 0 replies      
It's an ugly thought but I think more people than ever are trying to create a biological retirement plan - having multiple children to take care of them later on.

Trying not to make a moral judgment call on that and hoping I am just being too cynical. But think about how many people you know with children and then count the number that have conscientiously chosen to have only one.

10
seanahrens 1 day ago 2 replies      
Super fascinating. Definitely would never have guessed it was anywhere even close to 12%. Wow.
11
lwat 1 day ago 0 replies      
Wikipedia lists the total number of people to ever live at about 115 billion, which means 6% of all people are still alive today. 12% is too much.
12
melling 1 day ago 1 reply      
Now if we could get every person educated and productive, we could solve tens of billions of problems. Unfortunately, most people are just trying to survive.
13
Confusion 1 day ago 0 replies      
I fail to understand why this is of interest. The number doesn't tell you anything. If only 600M people were alive to today, the number would be a factor of 10 smaller. So what? You can't distill any meaning from the number. It doesn't predict anything, doesn't spell out opportunities, doesn't explain anything. It's a synthetic numerical fact, as constructed and unrelated to anything Real as the fact that the length of my thumb is exactly 1.5% of the height of the Eiffel tower.
14
Detect 1 day ago 0 replies      
This is great info if there ever is a zombie apocalypse. Eight heads each people.
15
aquarin 1 day ago 1 reply      
What 200,00 BC mean, 200,000 BC?
16
jleyank 1 day ago 0 replies      
I'm pretty sure I'm alive today, although some may have their doubts on Moday morning...
17
nivertech 1 day ago 0 replies      
Funny, that they have a cloud in their logo.
23
Stolen Camera Finder stolencamerafinder.com
227 points by obtino  5 days ago   70 comments top 25
1
yellowbkpk 5 days ago 4 replies      
Would it be possible to process the images somehow and find the noise profile for every image and match it with existing images?

When I found a directory full of images and couldn't remember which camera took them, I noticed that there were a few fuzzy pixels of green and red if I zoomed all the way in that were present in all photos taken by that camera. I took a photo of a white wall in a dark room (to force high ISO) with a couple of my cameras and found the one. Of course I found out about the EXIF serial number and other unique data later on, but it could still be useful on sites that store the original image but strip EXIF.

2
cousin_it 5 days ago 2 replies      
So if I find a photo I like, I can find all other photos taken by the same camera? Is there potential for stalking here?
3
charlief 5 days ago 3 replies      
Good idea, but works most effectively when:

(1) Various encode/decode steps along to publishing the photo online don't corrupt EXIF data

(2) Thief isn't sophisticated to wipe/disable EXIF data. Many cameras shoot in a proprietary, higher-bit format and give you a fairly obvious wizard option on a desktop tool to include/exclude the EXIF data.

(3) Thief will use the camera, not sell it immediately into a second-hand market.

(4) Even if your camera is supported, it has to be configured to record EXIF data by both you and the thief. Some proprietary formats are fairly raw and don't always include EXIF-derivable data by default.

This will get some adoption because what other option do users have, but it will be interesting to see how many uploads convert to a lost camera being recovered/thief being apprehended. If users had the ability to leave a testimonial when there is some kind of closure, you could derive a metric of success.

4
jasonkester 5 days ago 1 reply      
Tried it with a photo taken from a camera I had stolen in Peru:

The 'SAMSUNG TECHWIN CO., LTD. Samsung SL201' does not write serial information in the exif. See the supported cameras page for a list of models that do.

5
rednum 5 days ago 1 reply      
I think it could help to add a feature "I've found camera/sd card/other device with photos". Just an anecdotal evidence, but my friend's friend found an iPod with some photos few years ago and couldn't locate the owner. Surely it doesn't happen very often, but if this site gained enough popularity, it could be really helpful.
6
humblepie 5 days ago 0 replies      
I had my Canon DSLR body cleaned at the service centre here in Brampton, ON. When I got it back I noticed it felt different--the shutter sound is more thumpy, and etc. I checked the serial number to check if it was really mine and it was. It's all fine but then months later just by some coincidence I saw a photo on Flickr with my e-mail address in the metatags. Some of my photo buddies warned me that Canon is notorious for swapping parts when your cameras are in for service.
7
corin_ 5 days ago 1 reply      
What's the database of photos it can search against like? I just tried looking up a photo, the site found the serial number in it but couldn't find any matching photos online. I know the exist, even the exact same photo I was testing with is available on various websites.
8
meinhimmel 5 days ago 0 replies      
Another neat idea: Allow the user to select their city, the make and model of the camera, and the date it was stolen. Then you can scrape Craigslist from the surrounding area and show possible matches.
9
bxr 5 days ago 1 reply      
Seems like a neat idea for a search engine, but I tried with photos from 6 different cameras and none of them stored the serial number in exif. I wonder how many models this is actually useful for.
10
defroost 4 days ago 0 replies      
For one camera I got:
"fail
The 'NIKON CORPORATION NIKON D200' does not write serial information in the exif. See the supported cameras page for a list of models that do."

For my other camera, a Pentax K20D which is on the supported list I got:

"Problem extracting serial number. If possible, use an original image from the camera that has not been edited in any software."

The only thing I had done was uploaded the image from the camera via iPhoto. But all the EXIF data was in tact, including the Pentax K20D, the serial #, even the lens I used. So I don't think iPhoto stripped any data.

I'm wondering why if Flickr for example can extract all of the EXIF data, even for images not directly from the flash card, why did this happen?

11
stevejalim 5 days ago 1 reply      
It's a shame some smartphone cameras (eg, my old Nexus One) don't tag with full EXIF data, else you'd then have a much larger potential userbase.
12
Sniffnoy 1 day ago 0 replies      
This really needs the addition of an "enter a URL" or "upload a photo" interface - drag and drop often does not work! Or does not easily work, anyway.
13
seles 4 days ago 0 replies      
I doubt this will every successfully result in a stolen camera being recovered. But, it is a cool new idea that certainly has other obvious applications such as finding other photos by the same camera.

Would it be better rebranded to a different purpose?

14
tel 4 days ago 0 replies      
So this uses exif data, which as people here have noted can be stripped, but can't you still ID digital cameras from things like sensor noise? I haven't looked at the statistical properties of it, it probably changes over time, only works on at high ISOs, and search would be way more intensive, but I know that my camera has a very predictable noise pattern.
15
subway 5 days ago 0 replies      
Obviously I'm an edge case, but I'm not using a graphical file manager, so I can't use the drag and drop method of providing a file.

Have you considered allowing users to specify a file by URL, or the browser's browse mechanism for file input?

16
PanMan 5 days ago 1 reply      
Great idea. But instead of a serial input, it should ask for a photo or Flickr account or so. I don't know my cam's serial, and I can't look it up easily if it's stolen.
17
lostbit 4 days ago 0 replies      
The photo itself is not uploaded to the site for checking. Only a few bytes with the serial and camera model/manufacturer are sent in a HTTP GET to stolencamerafinder.com. This makes it very light in traffic.

The site can expand the camera->owner database by searching photos with valid EXIFs on famous sites and correlating it to the user.

18
hallowtech 5 days ago 0 replies      
No love for RW2 I guess =(
Also, add an upload button, I don't want to drag&drop if my browser is full screen!
19
antidaily 4 days ago 0 replies      
I haven't gotten this to work once. Cool idea though.
20
wicknicks 4 days ago 0 replies      
A lot of cameras don't include the Serial Number in the EXIF header. What happens then?
21
TWSS 4 days ago 0 replies      
Not as drag-and-drop easy, but GadgetTrak is working on something similar: http://gadgettrak.com/labs/camera/
22
kwestin 4 days ago 0 replies      
The project is a great proof of concept, the chances this will get someone's stolen camera back is pretty slim. We have a similar project, but it searches for the data using existing search engine data. Only about 25% of cameras will embed the serial number, then when uploaded only a few sites will retain the EXIF data, or provide it through meta data. A few that keep the EXIF data or provide it in meta data include:

Flickr.com
DeviantArt.com
SmugMug.com
Picasa.com

Some of these sites strip out some tags. Some manufacturers have custom EXIF tags like Nikon which may store the serial in a "Serial Number" tag or a tag called "0x00D".

23
wazoox 4 days ago 1 reply      
Apparently this doesn't work in Firefox. Too bad.
24
MasterScrat 5 days ago 1 reply      
On Chrome, drag-n-dropping from other windows doesn't seem to work (on Windows 7).
25
maqr 5 days ago 2 replies      
Terrible idea. EXIF data is not reliable. You can make it say anything you want.
25
Mozilla tells DHS: we won't help you censor the Internet boingboing.net
228 points by miraj  5 days ago   41 comments top 9
1
exit 5 days ago  replies      
i'd like to see a movement which clearly places the internet above the sovereignty of any nation
2
jarin 5 days ago 0 replies      
Hats off to Mozilla for discovering that dealing with DHS is exactly like dealing with Righthaven and the RIAA.
3
bgruber 5 days ago 1 reply      
This is exactly why i stopped reading boingboing; there's a tendency to ascribe meaning to actions that just isn't there. Mozilla said no such thing. What they said was more like "we won't just do whatever a government agency tells us to unless legally compelled to do so." I'm pleased Mozilla did this, but their stance is not the one it's being portrayed as here.
4
Dilpil 4 days ago 1 reply      
Wait a minute- DHS? As in, department of homeland security? Why are they involved in this even?
5
eloisius 5 days ago 0 replies      
Supposing they comply with the subsequent court order, what's to prevent the 10 variations that will pop up to replace it? This would surely only proliferate add-ons with the exact same functionality.
6
pmh 4 days ago 0 replies      
Previous discussion on the original blog post: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=2518075
7
ltamake 4 days ago 1 reply      
Mozilla just went up in my book.
8
lurchpop 4 days ago 0 replies      
A major reason to support Mozilla over Google (Chrome) who've gotten way too cozy with the gov over the past few years.
9
maeon3 5 days ago 1 reply      
Close that car hood citizen, there are secrets in there, don't make me taze you.
26
Einstein for Everyone pitt.edu
211 points by urbannomad  4 days ago   18 comments top 10
1
SandB0x 4 days ago 0 replies      
My favourite book on special relativity is Spacetime Physics by Taylor and Wheeler. It's intuitive, clearly written and well laid out, with an Edward Tufte style column of text running along the main body that stops you getting lost in the equations.

Some parts of the first edition are available online:
http://www.eftaylor.com/special.html
http://www.eftaylor.com/pub/spacetime/STP1stEdThruP20.pdf

2
palish 3 days ago 0 replies      
I'd encourage everyone to read Einstein's book on relativity: http://dl.dropbox.com/u/315/books/Albert%20Einstein/Albert%2...

His writing style is beautifully simple and the content is therefore easy for anyone to read and understand.

3
tel 3 days ago 1 reply      
While this looks like a very fascinating book/course, does anyone have a recommendation for learning general relativity rapidly in a way that abuses mathematical knowledge? I want to brush up on tensor math and variational calculus and use it as a motivating core topic.

I'm looking for the tersest complete guide from Newtonian physics to GR. Single author would be best, but I imagine it's not possible.

4
aik 4 days ago 3 replies      
From the "Completeness of Quantum Theory" chapter (on one theory of the determinability of quantum systems): "If an atom has a probability of one half of radioactive decay over an hour, then all that really means is that its wave function describes an ensemble of many different atomic systems, half of which decay in an hour. Whether one particular atom in the ensemble will decay in one hour is definitely determinable. However we will not be able to discern it if all we know is the quantum wave associated with it. Whether it decays or not depends upon properties of that system that have been smoothed away by the quantum wave and thus are unknown to us. It is our ignorance of these smoothed away properties that makes a probabilistic assertion the best we can do."

HN, what does "Whether it decays or not depends upon properties of that system that have been smoothed away by the quantum wave" mean?! What properties exactly, and smoothed away how? Just by the fact that observing the system causes a change within the system and therefore changes the quantum waves?

5
reledi 3 days ago 2 replies      
I thought I was viewing a PDF at first, the style is so neat. Does anyone know if it was converted from LaTeX to HTML?
6
mbateman 3 days ago 0 replies      
John Norton (the author) is an amazing historian and philosopher of science. People might be interested in some of the other "goodies" on his website -- http://www.pitt.edu/~jdnorton/Goodies/ -- and perhaps some of his papers as well.
7
elptacek 3 days ago 0 replies      
If you like this, you will also like this:

http://www.amazon.com/Quantum-World-Physics-Everyone/dp/0674...

8
meow 4 days ago 0 replies      
I was looking for something like this for ever.
9
8worm 3 days ago 0 replies      
Bookmarked! I loved it.
10
autalpha 3 days ago 0 replies      
Bookmarked... will read later. Thank you for a great find :)
27
The story of George " ayttm's most prolific non-developing contributor bluesmoon.info
210 points by bluesmoon  6 days ago   8 comments top 6
1
jnoller 6 days ago 0 replies      
George is a perfect example of great contributors, who probably don't consider themselves such. This ties back to my recent post (http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=2516698) and the "Why I don't contribute" (http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=2510964) post from the other day. People don't realize that anyone can contribute, and many people do without knowing it.

Open source isn't put together by a few talented rock stars, and it's not a shark tank (or rather, it shouldn't be) - it's put together by people who care - intelligent and bright people working with other intelligent bright people towards a common goal.

Thank you George.

2
Luyt 5 days ago 0 replies      
George writes (about ayttm):

"When I learned programming, about 40 years ago, it was
important to write small, fast, and dependable code. I had
thought those days were gone forever and I would be stuck
in a world of huge, inefficient programs written by
non-programmers that moved me farther and farther from
what was happening on my computer."

That sounds to me like a manifestation of Parkinson's Law, where any extra CPU speed or memory capacity is immediately filled with inefficient software bloat.

3
tehviking 6 days ago 0 replies      
Thanks for taking the time to share this, bluesmoon. It's an excellent counterpoint with a broader perspective than my post.

I've learned a lot about this over the past couple of days just from the comments here, on Twitter, and on my blog.

A lot of it has been just learning not to lump all of "open source" into one big scary thing, but to find the smallest unit of work you're capable of doing, and to find a project with a supportive team who will be patient with you.

I think you are owed some of the credit for this story, as George found a project where his contributions are valued and the maintainers were patient with him.

For me, so far, this has been BDSM with Wayne E. Seguin, who goes WAY above and beyond to nurture this kind of environment for his projects and encourage contribution.

Thanks for sharing this. I think open source would have a lot more activity if newbies like me had George's persistence and maintainers had your patience.

4
Jem 6 days ago 2 replies      
I could do with a George or two for some of my projects.
5
ZoFreX 5 days ago 0 replies      
I had a George helping me with a couple of projects, people like that are uniquely useful. I don't think I've ever been so motivated to get coding!
6
peterhajas 5 days ago 0 replies      
Absolutely love this post. I'm an open source developer myself, and I can sympathize with the ayttm folks. Many bug reports are brief, don't explain much, and (occasionally) seem standoffish. This was a really great read, and I think it's absolutely great that there are users out there like this.
       cached 11 May 2011 15:11:01 GMT