hacker news with inline top comments    .. more ..    10 Jun 2011 Best
home   ask   best   8 years ago   
My Email Canary jgc.org
519 points by jgrahamc  1 day ago   117 comments top 22
dholowiski 20 hours ago 1 reply      
I built 1pix.me about six months ago and it would be perfect for this. You get a link to a 1 p pixel transparent PNG, and phone or desktop notifications (via notifo) every time it is served. Its totally free, enjoy.
robg 23 hours ago 3 replies      
Why not just a canary that a (unknown) IP has logged into the account? Gmail displays the logged in IPs. How hard would it be to grab that info into similar notifications? Add to that reverse look ups and you could get a IP and location. Train the system through use and you'll quickly get a white list.

I'd pay for that service.

JoachimSchipper 1 day ago 1 reply      
Clever, but works only against targeted attacks - an attack on many accounts would presumably rifle through your mailbox automatically, which would defeat this.
uptown 23 hours ago 1 reply      
Neat idea. One thing I'd probably do if I wanted to use this technique would be to develop a browser extension to go along with it to either hide the row when accessed from "trusted" IP addresses, or injects the row via the extension when accessed from an unknown IP. That way I wouldn't be forced to have that row on my screen from home or work where it might accidentally be clicked on and triggered.
ktr 1 day ago 2 replies      
Maybe it doesn't matter (bc as I understand it, the image is really what notifies you - but this might tip off a hacker if they're perceptive), but would it be better for the zip file to be .zip instead of .gz? I would think that most banks, when interacting with "regular customers" would send zip files instead of gzip files ... maybe I'm wrong?
dsl 15 hours ago 1 reply      
This assumes that the attacker is using a web browser.

Many toolkits exist (no, I'm not going to link to them) where you just feed in a list of usernames and passwords for popular email systems and they go harvesting, usually via IMAP.

tcarnell 2 hours ago 1 reply      
I like the idea - but please do not confuse this with security. While the canary might be activated, all of your genuine information has also been compromised.

I have thought about the security issues with gmail, especially for mobile devices (they can be easily stolen).

It would be really REALLY great if Google offered several account access levels - I could use a 'read only' account for my mobile device, which could also only give me access to the last 1 hour of emails for example. and seperate account access for use with 3rd party services (facebook, gtalk apps etc)

davweb 1 day ago 3 replies      
Gmail already has something similar built in with the Last Account Activity Alerts:


callmeed 13 hours ago 0 replies      
This is very cool ... but what would you actually do (to prevent disaster) from your phone?

Let's say I get an alert on my iPhone but I'm 30 mins from getting to my laptop.

How would you stop them from recovering your DropBox or VPS console password?

eik3_de 1 day ago 2 replies      
To the OP: Do you use Google's two-factor authentication with that account? If so, where do you see potential attack vectors?
ericfrenkiel 21 hours ago 2 replies      
Check out www.inboxalarm.com which is something I built for fun a couple years ago. It's a free service and uses SMS to alert you the moment the image is triggered.
metalfrog 1 day ago 6 replies      
Two big points here, any hacker with a brain wouldn't

1) Rummage through your emails with image loading turned on
2) At least at a minimum be behind a service such as tor..

so uhhh, i guess this is a good idea for alerting you, if that is you are un/lucky enough to get 'hacked' by those that ignore the previous two points.

chrisjsmith 1 day ago 3 replies      
I think that it's a bit over the top. The "canary" gets in the way of what you are doing.

I operate on the opposite principle: there is nothing sensitive in my email account. When it arrives, it is actioned and disposed of (properly) immediately.

I am not sentimental and do not keep every email "just in case" as I do not remember 99.9% of telephone conversations I've had.

revorad 1 day ago 3 replies      
The catch is that images are not displayed by default. Why would an attacker click on show images? Only if the text of the email asked them to...

EDIT: I'm wrong as pointed out by others in the replies below.

munin 1 day ago 0 replies      
and so when an attacker configures thunderbird to slurp all the email out of your inbox this does .. what? why not just poll the list of most recently logged in IP addresses and track the number of currently logged in sessions/authentications, and when that number approaches a certain hair trigger, sound the alarm? oh right, google already does that for you...
verroq 1 day ago 2 replies      
If an attacker is going to attack your gmail, they already know that their IP is logged on the "Last account activity". If they are really going in, they'll be behind at least 7 proxies. Then again, there is next to nothing you can do with an IP address, if this make you feel safer then w/e.
talboito 23 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm thinking of a secondary alarm anytime you get an email that may be a password recovery.

Something like SpamBayes put trained for account related emails from the popular services and banks.

jarin 1 day ago 2 replies      
Awesome idea, even though it means you can never use stars again.
forgotmyuser 21 hours ago 0 replies      
Why not build an app that keeps a log of every time you log into your email, stores it to x specified # of logins and sends you an sms showing your email activity including # of logins, what time and IP address.
jvandenbroeck 1 day ago 0 replies      
Cool idea! But I think that if would get widely adopted, hackers would see it coming from miles away.
a3_nm 19 hours ago 0 replies      
I don't see the point. The guy says he owns a private server. Why doesn't he just move his email there, and monitor activity in all sort of imaginable ways?
thewisedude 19 hours ago 1 reply      
May be I am missing something here... what if the Display Images is turned off? How will that activate the alert system?
An eruption from the Sun that happened today youtu.be
391 points by johnnytee  2 days ago   78 comments top 20
ChuckMcM 2 days ago 2 replies      
Very cool. Its amazing what we don't know about the star sitting just 8 light minutes away from us.

For jnorthrop generally these events are effectively deflected by the Earth's magnetosphere, however we don't know what we don't know. Its hard to estimate whether or not any one of the extinction events this planet has experienced over the past was caused by solar activity.

I would hope it would add impetutus to efforts to surviving large changes in the Earth's envioronment by creating completely controlled environments (ideally across several planetary bodies) but I have low expectations that it will.

One of the science stories I've been following for a while has been the growing body of evidence that a magnetic pole reversal [1] is becoming more likely. (Note there was a hoax around it changing instantly in 2012 which has been pretty thoroughly debunked). One thing that is pretty well understood is that during reversals the magnetosphere is greatly reduced [2] which suggests that the simulataneous occurence of a CME and a reversal of the poles resulting in a reduced magnetosphere would be something to write home about.

[1] http://www.nasa.gov/vision/earth/lookingatearth/29dec_magnet...

[2] http://www.off-ladhyx.polytechnique.fr/people/willis/papers/...

alanh 2 days ago 1 reply      
Was that a real-time video (i.e., shot and played at 1x speed)? If so, the matter appears to be traveling at roughly the speed of light. Greater, perhaps, indicating the video was sped up. http://www.wolframalpha.com/input/?i=diameter+of+the+Sun+%2F...

Edit… If you look closely (in HD), there are timestamps, suggesting this is being played at ~3600x, or one second of playtime representing an hour in reality.

skrebbel 2 days ago 1 reply      
Damn, I read "One of the coolest eruptions from Sun you'll ever see. This happened today."

I was like finally, closures in java!

scott_s 2 days ago 1 reply      
jnorthrop 2 days ago 3 replies      
Forgive my ignorant question, but what if that eruption was aimed at us? Was that a mass ejection of something? If so, could that something have ruined the electronics in orbiting satellites or stripped our atmosphere?

Maybe I'm over-reacting but that appears to be an absolutely massive explosion.

mmaunder 2 days ago 1 reply      
You'd have to line up 100 Earth's end-to-end to fit inside the Sun. This was reportedly about the size of the Sun itself, so it would engulf 100 Earths. It would probably destroy more since even planets on the periphery would have all life destroyed.
igrekel 2 days ago 0 replies      
The shockwave is expected to reach earth around 1 pm EST tomorrow (5pm GMT), auroras are likely to follow after that and they should be visible quite far south.


jvdb 2 days ago 2 replies      
For nice current images of the Sun, the Proba 2 satellite [1] continuously watches it and dumps some nice imagery/movies. It's ESA sponsored, and both it's sensors (SWAP producing the visuals) are interpreted by the Belgian Royal Observatory. Iirc the Belgians and the Canadians are the only ones keeping a close eye on the sun, counting sun spots and such. Makes for a nice desktop bg also!

[1] http://proba2.oma.be/index.html/

qq66 2 days ago 1 reply      
Is this sped up?
J3L2404 2 days ago 0 replies      
Until about the middle of February it looked as if we were going to maybe catch a break on global warming as the Sun's output was down significantly and the possibility that a Maunder type solar minimum was occurring was increasing.

About 2/15/11 solar output started getting back to more normal levels.


Too bad, we could use a break.

agilo 2 days ago 3 replies      
I wish there was a way on HN to easily find out submissions that have videos in them. Often times, especially when I'm eating at my desk, I'd rather watch interesting videos than read articles, and such a feature would be of great help on HN.

Maybe there's a way that you guys know of (besides reading cues from the title)?

mirkules 2 days ago 1 reply      
First reaction: that's it?? Second reaction: wait, this was big enough to engulf the Earth. Cool!
etruong42 19 hours ago 0 replies      
I thought the title meant that an executive from (the now nonexistent) Sun Microsystems lost his cool.
edge17 2 days ago 0 replies      
Might be interesting to watch this over the next few days - http://www.gi.alaska.edu/AuroraForecast
mdariani 2 days ago 0 replies      
what simulator do they use?
RobMcCullough 2 days ago 1 reply      
Call me paranoid, but that just made my stomach drop.
strooltz 2 days ago 0 replies      
so that's why skype crashed this morning... :P
necenzurat 2 days ago 0 replies      
the sun divided by 0
ryandvm 2 days ago 0 replies      
swah 2 days ago 0 replies      
Didn't hear a thing.
HTML Email Boilerplate htmlemailboilerplate.com
378 points by joshuacc  3 days ago   107 comments top 19
autarch 2 days ago 1 reply      
This looks great, but the license includes the Creative Commons non-commercial clause, which basically makes it unusable, since it's not compatible with open or closed source usage!

I wrote the author a note via Github asking him to consider changing the license.

yock 2 days ago 4 replies      
Please get rid of your browser evangelism, no matter how clever it might be. I know very well that I shouldn't be using Internet Explorer. If I had any choice in the matter, I wouldn't
benatkin 3 days ago 8 replies      
I'm not sure having an email be 900px wide (the table has 3 300px wide cells) is a good idea. Wouldn't that get a horizontal scrollbar on the iPad no matter the orientation? When it's horizontal there's a sidebar; when it's vertical it's only 768px wide.
barrkel 2 days ago 2 replies      
I'm puzzled as to why this is upvoted so highly. It's just a very wide website with a picture and some code on it. "Boilerplate" to me means the legalese at the bottom mandated by corporate lawyers, but I don't see much in the way of boilerplate here.

Is it a template for emails that look like the website? I'd ignore any emails that look like this website, but then I'd never see them, as I don't have HTML email enabled by default, for lots of reasons.

JonLim 3 days ago 1 reply      
I've taken a look at it and placed it into the PostageApp (http://postageapp.com) template system and it immediately spat out four issues:

- width CSS property is not supported by Outlook 07, Notes 6 and 7

- height CSS property is not supported by Outlook 07, Notes 6 and 7, Blackberry

- line-height CSS property is not supported by Notes 6 and 7, Palm Treo (Palm Garnet OS), Blackberry

- display CSS property is not supported by Outlook 07, Palm Treo (Palm Garnet OS), Blackberry

Let me fiddle with the code, and try to fix this up. And like the others, the three tables with 300px cells are not the best of ideas.

donbronson 2 days ago 0 replies      
the templates that mailchimp put on github seem much more useful https://github.com/mailchimp/Email-Blueprints
ItsTrueYouKnow 3 days ago 6 replies      
Please don't send HTML email, there is almost never a scenario when it is necessary. All it does is create larger emails, have redundant information (most HTML emails also send a plain text counterpart), make reading email more difficult (especially if you are using a terminal mail client or are visually impaired), and allow for obnoxious email styling.

HTML Email, just say NO.

davidcollantes 3 days ago 6 replies      
HTML and email are two things that do not go together well(IMHO). I prefer plain text.
joshuacc 3 days ago 1 reply      
It might be helpful to have a clearer link to the GitHub project on the site so people know that they can fork it easily.


SamColes 3 days ago 2 replies      
this is useless. Just for a start it's way too wide. e.g. Hotmail cuts off at 610px or so.
Wickk 2 days ago 1 reply      
Really we can stop saying HTML email sucks, we get it. I don't like it either but every other comment seems to be saying this.

That said, in this day and age is an HTML email even, neccessary? An incredibly large amount of users these days don't even bother checking their email unless it's something specific they're looking for. Social Networking has made a large footprint in that market and a status update as to new products/services gets just as much attention.

Kwpolska 2 days ago 1 reply      
HTML emails SUCKS. Use goddamn plaintext.
deepandmeaning 2 days ago 0 replies      
I found the hacks for display issues in various clients to be very helpful.

It's increasingly difficult to design HTML email templates which render well across all clients, this usually leads to design for the lowest common denominator. Usually Outlook and Gmail.

I'm sure there are loads of considerations for ISP's with regard to spam and other issues, but forcing design/rendering of HTML to 1990's type style and functionality is rather restrictive.

At some point I hope things will change, but with the popularity of mobile clients growing (and their small screen issues), I suspect if anything it will not.

PetrolMan 3 days ago 1 reply      
Interestingly the site won't render correctly for me in Firefox 4. I'm getting a nice error about lack of HTML5 and CSS3 support.

And, as a fan of Space Balls, the creator misspelled
"The Schwartz"...

st0p 2 days ago 1 reply      
I'm really not understanding all the hate against HTML email. To me it seems like saying: "Ascii text is enough, who needs nicely designed word documents or websites"

Also, all our communications (website, snail-mail letters) use our corporate branding. So why not use it in our emails?

a3_nm 3 days ago 0 replies      
Why the ridiculously elaborate design? It's probably pretty, but it wastes space...
NHQ 2 days ago 0 replies      
I am surprised that gmail is such a small player.
rmk 2 days ago 1 reply      
HTML format email is an abomination.
Kwpolska 2 days ago 1 reply      
XHTML sucks. Transitional does even more. So does HTML mail. Use plaintext for god's sake.
A Big Surprise from the Edge of the Solar System nasa.gov
319 points by cromulent  11 hours ago   43 comments top 10
Alex3917 9 hours ago 2 replies      
There is a Terence McKenna quote from the early 80's where he says that basically everything we know about the (largescale) universe comes from radio telescope data, and all the bits from all the data ever recorded have roughly the same amount of energy as a piece of cigarette ash falling about two feet. And this is what our entire understanding of the cosmos is based on.

Not sure of the validity of the measure/comparison, but it's an interesting idea nonetheless. One does have to wonder though, if it's so obvious now why this phenomenon is happening then why didn't they predict it before seeing the data? Especially if we see the same thing in solar flares. It seems like it's generally a good idea to bet on the laziness of the universe, but beyond that anyone who pretends they know what's going on is probably full of shit.

edit: The Terence McKenna quote is from this talk about his life: http://www.matrixmasters.net/blogs/?p=1509

The talk in general is about his formative intellectual influences, and about why he finds psychedelic drugs to be intellectually interesting. He has another talk that's more about his views of physics, epistemology, and cosmology here: http://www.matrixmasters.net/blogs/?p=297

Perhaps my two all time favorite talks on any subject, albeit you need a high tolerance to ideas that are at times highly speculative. (And sometimes flat out wrong.)

demallien 7 hours ago 1 reply      
Interesting. All of a sudden a deep space radio telescope seems like a good scientific mission. It would be a fascinating discovery if we poked our noses out of the heliosheath just to discover that all of the missing mass in the universe was to be found in cosmic rays that never reach the inner solar system.
yaix 7 hours ago 4 replies      
It would be great if we would send one or two such probes out per year, in different directions. We could find so many interesting things. There are currently only two.
lotharbot 9 hours ago 0 replies      
This seems like a sort of analog to the way hurricanes sometimes spawn tornadoes. At the boundary where the relatively still external air/space meet the rapidly spinning air/magnetic field generator, you get some turbulent interactions.

I would love to see the equations or programs they're using to model this.

orofino 1 hour ago 1 reply      
This seems to be the problem with relying solely on the private sector space exploration. With shuttles there is opportunity for revenue, with revenue come investors, with investors we can make progress. However, where is the revenue opportunity from either of these probes? Without a body that can be truly altruistic about projects and the benefit they'll provide, certain projects may never have/or my never again, become a reality.

This kind of news makes me truly excited about the future. We have concrete knowledge about so little in this universe, the future is ripe with possibility if we can just show a little foresight.

mrleinad 3 hours ago 0 replies      
I always wondered why those pictures depicted the sun's magnetic field limits as so clean cut from the rest of the galaxy.. didn't seem natural..

Maybe I should have followed my science instincts and perform a career in physics instead of System's Engineering

iwwr 9 hours ago 1 reply      
Is magnetic reconnection an established phenomenon, i.e. verified in a lab or at least strongly theoretically founded?
Shenglong 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Watching that video, I couldn't help but wonder what Sheldon Cooper would say. It's unfortunate that NASA needs to work towards this level of public appeal just to try and secure funding.
click170 9 hours ago 1 reply      

"The sun's magnetic field extends all the way to the edge of the solar system," explains Opher. "Because the sun spins, its magnetic field becomes twisted and wrinkled, a bit like a ballerina's skirt. Far, far away from the sun, where the Voyagers are now, the folds of the skirt bunch up."

yxhuvud 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Boring. With that title, I was expecting a monolith!
Advanced Computer Science Courses the-paper-trail.org
246 points by helwr  1 day ago   38 comments top 12
Darmani 1 day ago 1 reply      
One course I've been going through lately is the MIT course on Abstract Interpretation ( http://web.mit.edu/16.399/www/ ). Programmers tend to break execution into "cases" to reason about it; e.g.: when writing a routine to reverse a string, you might think about the cases where the string is of even or odd length. Abstract Interpretation lets you capture this kind of reasoning precisely, and thereby automate it.
shii 1 day ago 1 reply      
This[1] is much more comprehensive and useful, imo. Compiled by the good folk from 4chan's /sci/ board.

[1]: https://sites.google.com/site/scienceandmathguide/

phaedon 1 day ago 0 replies      
MIT's OpenCourseWare is a fantastic project. It's been a while since I was involved with it, but I contacted them a few years ago and helped TeX up some of the notes (for Physics courses, not CS). Anyhow, if you feel inspired or just want to learn a subject even better by reading its notes carefully enough to typeset them, consider contacting OCW and asking if they've got anything available. It's a good experience and it's nice to think about how many people benefit from it.
bhickey 1 day ago 0 replies      
Optimization Algorithms for Planar Graphs: http://www.cs.brown.edu/courses/cs250/lectures/lectures.html
BIackSwan 1 day ago 0 replies      
I had taken Jon Kleinberg's CS 6850 " Structure of Information Networks. (http://www.cs.cornell.edu/courses/cs6850/2011sp/)

Really brilliant course and very pertinent to interpreting and making sense of today's connected world.

ankrgyl 1 day ago  replies      
I'll add a couple of courses I've really enjoyed at CMU (http://www.cs.cmu.edu):

15-410 Operating System Design and Implementation:

15-251 Great Theoretical Ideas in Computer Science (webpage might be out of date):

senorres 1 day ago 1 reply      
Why does a HS/freshman-level discrete math course count as "advanced"? Same with that undergrad algorithms course at UIUC (though it does have great lecture notes).
timtadh 1 day ago 0 replies      
Some of these courses look really interesting. Having just passed my Algorithms Qual it is interesting to see the different ranges of topics covered in equivalent courses.
hsmyers 1 day ago 0 replies      
Nice, but seems to me that a thorough study of Knuth V-1-4 plus computational Mathematics might be a better approach. Then cherry pick the offered list.
crasshopper 1 day ago 1 reply      
A list of links, any of which is easily googleable. Why do people upvote these so predictably?
pravinkenator 1 day ago 0 replies      
Thanks for the info ..!
ataranto 1 day ago 2 replies      
I'm confused, not a single one of these courses covers Ruby?
Evernote Peek, The First iPad Smart Cover App evernote.com
246 points by bjonathan  1 day ago   55 comments top 17
nooneelse 1 day ago 1 reply      
It looks cute, but for a flash card app other interaction methods are just as quick and easy, maybe more so. Now, if something like this could be used so that a person could see, for example, their next appointment by peeking, but fully opening the cover activated the iPad normally, that would be cool.
forensic 1 day ago 1 reply      
why is evernote diverging so far from their core product?

there are other flash card apps that already do this way better and i dont see evernote catching up anytime soon

the peek thing looks cool but it's not a useful gimmick because

1. you want the ability to use longer questions as well as images and video in your flashcards

2. you want to be able to move on to the next question quickly without the carpel-tunnel implications of physically unfolding this cover

3. proper flashcard learning requires more complex interaction than this. Each time a card is finished one needs to indicate how well they learned the card (among other things) In order to do this people would have to use 2 hands here.

The evernote marketing team is at the top of their game, as are the UI designers. But this is just brand cannibalization -- leveraging the evernote brand to get sales in an unrelated market with an inferior product based on a gimmick.

eggbrain 1 day ago 2 replies      
Very clever use of the smart cover, but in the end I don't feel many people will use it.

Its cleverness relies on having an iPad 2 and a smart-cover, which segments it. Then, from a usability standpoint, I feel it would be more annoying to continue to lift up a cover than to tap the screen to reveal the answer.

lazerwalker 1 day ago 3 replies      
This is nifty enough, but Evernote has so many problems with its client UI design that I hate to see them spending front-end engineer development time on side diversions like this. I recently let my Evernote Premium subscription lapse and migrated my notes to another system because I was so frustrated with the painful user experience across their various clients, despite their core product idea being so awesome and their syncing/OCR/backend services working well.
daimyoyo 1 day ago 0 replies      
Very creative. I really like this. Well played, sirs.
kinkora 1 day ago 0 replies      
While the use of app + smart cover is ingenious, what I am more excited about is that this opens to a possibility of a whole slew of "smart accessories" + apps that utilises the magnets on the iPad screen.

Which got me thinking...what sort of really clever apps/accessories can one make that utilises these magnets?

I.e. Perhaps a puzzle game that uses "magnetic chopsticks" to interact with it. Or maybe an organizer app with "magnetic labels" where when you cover different parts of the screen, it pulls up a different functionality.

dshep 1 day ago 0 replies      
Cute, but flipping the cover back and forth is kind of low-tech right? I think this is a better product: http://ankisrs.net/docs/AnkiMobile.html
janesvilleseo 1 day ago 1 reply      
This is a very clever idea. This 'tactic' could be used with a lot of different apps too, maybe even a notification bar?
flurie 1 day ago 1 reply      
It's an interesting use of the Smart Cover, but can it be a serious competitor to other flash card replacement apps since there's no easy way to report success or failure by lifting/replacing the cover?
togasystems 1 day ago 1 reply      
Curious, how do the capture the event of the cover lifting?
droz 1 day ago 3 replies      
This is such a great example of excess.

iPad 2: 500$+
Smart Cover: 40$
Evernote Peek: 0$.


Pack of index cards: 2$

pacifika 1 day ago 1 reply      
Please someone create a bluetooth poker app like this! It would be a very expensive round of poker but imagine people sitting around peeking at their cards via their ipad. Brilliant.
deltriggah 1 day ago 0 replies      
All the people bitching against it wished they thought it first. Its a clever and simple idea. Good work.
AustinEnigmatic 1 day ago 0 replies      
Ingenious I think! A fun way to learn!
poloiio 1 day ago 0 replies      
upwards of 50 million in venture capital for 500k in paid users. icloud killed more than just a few yesterday.
samyzee 1 day ago 0 replies      
awesome guys...really innovative!
tealtan 1 day ago 0 replies      
Apple copies rejected app theregister.co.uk
239 points by Gupie  1 day ago   68 comments top 17
bradleyland 1 day ago 2 replies      
Hrm. Dan Goodin. I recognize that name. This is the same author who published an article on The Register with the title "Skype bug gives attackers root access to Mac OS X", which was factually incorrect. He corrected the headline after much hoopla, but it strikes me that Mr. Goodin is a professional link-baiter.

The title has it backwards. Isn't WiFi sync a fairly obvious feature that Apple has likely had in the works for quite some time?

Based on what I've read, this sync app was only possible because of some low-level sync frameworks that were already present in iOS. The feature wasn't ready by Apple Standards, but Apple didn't want a poor implementation of what should be a system-level feature in the wild. One could argue that the rejection of his app was an act of protecting the user experience. This is something Apple does regularly. If you don't want the protection, you should head over to another platform.

Acting shocked at any of these facts just shows that you haven't been paying attention.

sambeau 21 hours ago 0 replies      
Does anyone here seriously believe that anyone in the Apple department responsible for Wifi Syncing will have ever seen this app and its icon?

Apple will have been working on Wifi syncing far longer ago than last May. I wouldn't be surprised if they had it working when they first launched the iPhone but held it back for other sensible reasons (not everyone had wifi, power usage, speed, reliability, no delta updates etc).

Like Authors are warned by their lawyers not to read or accept fan fiction, Apple's developers will be kept well away from reviewing of apps.

The concept is an obvious one; one that has had much discussion on the internet and on this site in particular.

The icon is the most obvious and clearest solution you can draw. I spend most of my day drawing icons and if you had asked me to create an icon for this I am 100% certain that I would have put a wifi logo into the middle of a sync logo. It is a completely obvious thing to do looking at the respective shapes and line thicknesses.

This is a non story.

alanh 21 hours ago 1 reply      
1. The idea of wireless sync is so obvious that customers have been asking for it since, oh, half a decade ago when iPhone was introduced.

2. The icon, while similar in concept, is literally nothing more than Apple's standard “sync” icon plus Apple's standard AirPort (Wifi) icon.

3. (Bonus) After rejecting the app, which did perform activities not allowed in the SDK, Apple expressed interest in hiring the kid anyway.

Manufactured controversy. Snore.

pseudonym 1 day ago 4 replies      
I wish I was surprised, but this seems to happen with a lot of OS-extending apps on the iOS device. I've never heard of a game being banned from the app store, but as soon as it's something that Apple doesn't already have baked into the operating system...

It's been said before and it'll be said again: Playing in Apple's walled garden isn't a safe way to make a living.

yardie 1 day ago 1 reply      
I tried this app in the past. It was very....slow.

Which is why I think Apple rejected it. Their syncing protocol, even over USB, was painfully slow. Over wifi it was dreadful. Apple has a, "do it right or don't do it at all", philosophy.

They seemed to have fixed USB syncing in 4.3 because it takes me less time than before. I'm fairly confident that if he submitted his app after 4.3 was released it probably would have passed, but now that iOS 5 is on the horizon and contains the same functionality it has made his app irrelevant.

peteretep 1 day ago 3 replies      
So to get this straight: the guy who took Apple's icon for syncing and added a wifi symbol thinks Apple ripped him off taking their icon for syncing and adding a wifi symbol? Who'd a thunk.
tobiasbischoff 1 day ago 1 reply      
Easily the greatest bullshit i've ever read. This cydia tool was just a hack that activated functions already in place in iTunes and iOS. Just have a look at the 1st gen Apple TV wich had wireless syncing to iTunes since 2006.

I guess they considered it to slow and unreliable in the past to activate it for the iPhone, maybe the iCloud concept, faster processors and wireless networks led to their decision activate it in iOS5.

blownd 1 day ago 1 reply      
Ludicrous link bait headline and tabloid trash article from The Register.

Apple didn't copy the app, it sound like they were maintaining control of their interests; no one should be surprised by that given Apple's track record.

That's not to say Apple haven't copied others apps, they've positively trampled on a slew of third party apps with enhancements in Lion and IOS 5, but that's all part of the game at this point.

xedarius 1 day ago 0 replies      
I think the more interesting story is quite how much money you can make via the jail-broken phone market place.
nphase 1 day ago 0 replies      
This seems silly to me. Apple knows its own product roadmap, so why wouldnt they reject an app that implements a half-baked version of a product line they're releasing themselves?
bengl3rt 22 hours ago 1 reply      
Happened to me as well... over a year, when iAd first came out, a friend and I built an iAd gallery app. Rejected.

A few months ago I saw on Techcrunch that Apple had released their own iAd gallery that looked practically identical. Oh well.

shinratdr 18 hours ago 0 replies      
As a purchaser of Wi-Fi Sync, fuck him. He's an extremely unprofessional developer who provides terrible customer service. Don't buy his app, even at $2.99.

He dropped off the map after promising a Windows beta for WiFi Sync 2, he won't refund purchases for any reason, and he used misleading language that he refuses to own up to when promising sync over 3G.

Apple's implementation will be way better anyways. It's already much faster and it syncs in the background over USB.

Osiris 16 hours ago 0 replies      
In cases like this, do developers have any legal grounds to sue? Would the developer had to have patented some of the technology to gain a legal basis for a suit? If Apple can claim it was a clean-room implementation copying the same functionality, I assume he's just out of luck?
nhannah 20 hours ago 0 replies      
Apple is setting themselves up for a Microsoft style lawsuit in the future. Everyone here seems very defensive of apple, and while I think a review policy does help a lot at keeping bad apps out, a move like this could easily be brought to court with a huge settlement having to come from apple. Actually trying to hire the guy could look pretty bad on them as it could be construed as trying to avoid a possible suit.
scelerat 23 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm not saying Apple didn't blatantly rip off this guy's work. But. I'm having a hard time believing someone at Apple saw this submitted to the App Store in May and rushed to get it into the iOS 5 spec a month (or less) later. More likely the app was rejected because the feature was already planned. The rejection response was a cover lie.
dbaugh 23 hours ago 0 replies      
There is nothing like free contract work. This is no different than the way Microsoft treated developers before the anti-trust hammer was brought down upon them.
allan_ 1 day ago 0 replies      
gaahh, all this apple shit, so 2009
Amazon ‘willing to be misunderstood for very long periods of time' geekwire.com
240 points by gspyrou  2 days ago   27 comments top 9
ChuckFrank 2 days ago 3 replies      
Why is Bezo able to take risks into new territories? Because "we can analyze quantitatively rather than to have to make intuitive judgments." What's so great about this type of business model is that it does not rely on luck throughout the process. It only relies on luck at the front end of the risks, minimizing the risk throughout the enterprise. Bezo is the current king of data driven decisions, and I think that over time it's enabled Amazon to not only pass it's many competitors (buy.com / half.com / yahoo.com / google products etc.) but also quickly overcome dis-advantages. Compared to the amazing roll of luck, insight, cunning, and high risks / high rewards culture of Apple, Amazon is really the company to emulate. Without Jobs, can Apply keep it's streak alive? No one is certain. It sometimes feels that with each not product Apple is betting the company. That's certainly what people were saying about the ipad. And that's what makes watching Apple so thrilling. Without Bezos, Amazon appears to be poised to continue it's great leadership. Watching Amazon might not be as thrilling, but the details are simply spectacular. While Jobs may get the accolades, I think think that Bezos deserves the crown.
stevenj 2 days ago 2 replies      
I find the product development strategies of the major technology companies quite interesting. I'm talking about Eric Schmidt's "Gang of Four". [1]

On the one hand you have Apple. Apple innovates as good as, and perhaps better than the other three. But it doesn't have very many products. And while I have no knowledge of this, I'd bet it doesn't start-and-stop products as frequently as the others. And it probably doesn't have as many "active" products going on at any one time. (Maybe it does behind the scenes, but I would be surprised if it did.)

It may take some iteration and prototyping to see that you could actually turn an iPhone into a tablet.

But I'm pretty sure Jobs "saw" the tablet long ago. In his mind, it was just a matter of when.

In the case of Apple, I see experimentation occurring as a result of the vision laid out by Jobs and other senior executives.

When it comes to the others, Amazon, Facebook, and Google all seem to implement the "fail fast" strategy. In this case, experimentation leads to vision. Instead of vision leading to experimentation.

What's interesting is that Apple used to be more like the others. It had many products and segments. And very little vision. But that strategy brought it close to death. [2]

Discovery is important to all of them. But the journey seems to be different.

[1] http://allthingsd.com/20110531/eric-schmidts-gang-of-four-do...

[2] I could see why Apple sets vision first because designing and developing physical products is different than organizing information and logistics.

mrschwabe 2 days ago 1 reply      
You have to admire Bezo's approach to new ideas...

"On the day you decide to give up on it (hypothetical idea), what happens? Your operating margins go up because you stopped investing in something that wasn't working. Is that really such a bad day?"

nathanb 2 days ago 1 reply      
> I can guarantee you that everything we do will not work

I suspect he means "not everything we do will work". Either that or he's hinting that it's time to sell AMZN.

tomkarlo 2 days ago 0 replies      
"By the time you are betting the company, it means you haven't invented for too long."

See: Windows 8?

rmason 2 days ago 2 replies      
What I was literally struck by was the fact Bezos seemed to echoing the book, Little bets how breakthrough ideas emerge from small discoveries. I've stated before that I believe that is directly related to the concept of lean startups http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=2475535
lwhi 2 days ago 1 reply      
Really great advice - I find it refreshing to read this kind of candid, straightforward talk.
forgingahead 2 days ago 0 replies      
This is a great quote on vision and execution: "We are stubborn on vision. We are flexible on details"

That "Why We Do This" doesn't change (and hence it's important to have the Why instead of 'here are X cool features') but the execution can differ. Great stuff from a great business leader.

jackpine 2 days ago 0 replies      
I love the bit about making a lot of small bets early. You can always count on Bezos to drop some knowledge.
Hello Backbone.js - A step-by-step tutorial github.com
238 points by arturadib  3 days ago   47 comments top 13
arturadib 3 days ago 2 replies      
Feedback and contributions are always welcome. Feel free to fork it and send pull requests.
oscilloscope 3 days ago 2 replies      
This is exactly what it feels like to build Backbone interfaces!

Definitely would give someone a leg up learning for the first time, compared to the Todos app. Plus it doesn't have anti-patterns like `this.model.view = this`, a line which Yehuda Katz actually mocked at a recent SproutCore meetup.

huetsch 3 days ago 5 replies      
This is my first exposure to Backbone (aside from hearing DHH recommend it at RailsConf). It looks like it helps formalize a lot of what I'd already come to realize was a good way of doing large JS apps - MVC design.

However, I've found one of the most painful things I have to do when doing a lot of JS is dealing with HTML as a string. Escaping quotes is a pain in the neck, syntax highlighting is broken in my editors. The HTML here is pretty simple so it's not problematic, but sometimes you need to render larger, more complex blocks of HTML. HTML is just not as easy to work with in JS when you compare it to the templating systems provided by Rails, Pylons, etc. Does Backbone have anything to help this?

lapusta 3 days ago 0 replies      
There is a shortcut for finding items in current view: "$('ul', this.el)" - this.$('ul')
p0larboy 2 days ago 0 replies      
Good job arturadib... Most programmers(or rather lesser programmer like me) tend to walk away from teaching once they had grasped the new lanaguage.. I managed to struggled through Backbone for the last few days and I'm beginning to see the light of it.. Will try to come up with a tutorial if I find the time!
edw 2 days ago 2 replies      
This tutorial fails one of the basic tests of a good introduction as put forth by the recent article in Dr Dobb's (http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=2607303): it provides no motivation. What is Backbone.js good for? A basic tutorial might want to explain _why_ I should take the time to engage with it.
ryeguy 2 days ago 2 replies      
Don't forget about spine.js: http://maccman.github.com/spine/

It's essentially a fixed version of Backbone. It gets rid of the psuedo getters (you can do model.attribute instead of model.{set|get}('attribute')). It gets rid of "collections", and just adds them as class methods on the model.

It just makes more sense. It's getting a bigger following, and I hope it can reach the mass of backbone someday.

sujithrs 2 days ago 0 replies      
Nice tutorial!

I see few people asking about templates with backbone. I have been there few days back and have ported the TODO app to run on Rails 3.1 with view templates (using coffeescript ofcourse!)



theitgirl 3 days ago 2 replies      
Awesome tutorial. I have been experimenting with Backbone for a few weeks now. I did not understand the point of _.bindAll(this, ..) in initialize till now :)

It would help if the sections of code that you add in each step were highlighted somehow. I definitely like the step-by-step approach.

lamnk 1 day ago 0 replies      
I'm learning Javascript and wish there are some Javascript tutorials like this somewhere :(
thomasdavis 2 days ago 0 replies      
I don't even know whats happening.


samdelagarza 2 days ago 0 replies      
This is a nice tutorial, thanks @arturadib. btw, backbone.js has an unofficial google group at: http://groups.google.com/group/backbonejs
JGuo 2 days ago 0 replies      
I had made plans to learn backbone.js today. I checked out HN this morning and voila there's a fresh tutorial posted :) Thanks so much!
Mistakes You Can't Afford to Make with Stock Options gigaom.com
232 points by DanielRibeiro  4 days ago   61 comments top 16
grellas 4 days ago 4 replies      
Very nice piece.

A few technical points on tax (of course, check with your professional advisor for any real-world case):

1. IRC 83(a) sets the baseline: you are taxed on the value of property (stock) received in exchange for services as ordinary income. IRC 83(b) says that you do not receive such property immediately if it is subject to a "substantial risk of forfeiture" and that you will be taxed on it only when the forfeiture risk lapses and you truly own it. Thus, with restricted stock, you are subject to tax at ordinary income rates on the difference between what you paid for it and what its value is at each vesting point. If your 1M shares vest at 1/48th per month over 4 years, and you paid $.001/sh, you would have to pay tax on the "spread' at each vesting point as long as the price exceeded $.001/sh at that point. This theoretically could mean that you have as many as 48 taxable events during the 4-year period of vesting. All of this, of course, is done away with if you file a timely 83(b) election. In that case, you normally pay no tax up front and you pay only capital-gains tax on the stock as you later sell it. This is the optimum tax treatment for most startups but is normally made available only to founders.

2. Now what about options. The default rule here concerns so-called "non-qualified" options (NQOs, sometimes called NSOs as well, for "non-statutory options"). The substantive law rules relating to such options are the same as any other options and they are "non-qualified" only in the sense that they don't qualify for the special tax advantage of "incentive stock options" or ISOs, which are special types of options that get special tax advantages. To understand ISOs, you need to understand how all options are taxed apart from any special tax-advantaged rules.

3. With NQOs, you get a right to buy company stock at a fixed strike price exercisable as your options vest over a prescribed period. If your strike price is $.001/sh, and you exercise 1M options, you pay $1,000 to get 1M shares of stock. If the fair market value of that stock is $.001/sh at the time you exercise, you pay $1,000 for stock worth $1,000 and you realize no taxable income. If, however, the fair value of the stock is worth more (let us say, $.20/sh) and you exercise your first increment of (say) 250K shares at year one of vesting on a 4-year plan, then you realize $49,750 worth of taxable income upon your exercise. This is taxed at ordinary income tax rates and the amount is factored into your employment income so that you effectively pay all normal employment taxes on it as well (social security, etc.). Hence, with NQOs, you pay tax on the "spread" at ordinary income tax rates upon each exercise. When the transaction is done, you very likely will hold illiquid stock, you will have no cash from the transaction with which to pay the tax, and you are generally in a highly disadvantageous tax position. Once you make the exercise, any later appreciation on it is not taxed until you sell it and, at that time, you will be taxed on that subsequent appreciation at capital gains rates.

4. With ISOs, when you exercise your options, you are not subject to an immediate tax based on ordinary income tax rates and this is the special tax advantage that ISOs have. The idea is that, with these tax-advantaged options, employees should feel free to buy their shares by exercising their options whenever they like (once they have vested) and will only be subject to tax at the time they ultimately sell the shares. Having exercised and bought the shares, your holding period begins to run and, if you hold them for the prescribed period (which, in the case of ISOs, is 2 years), you pay LTCG rates - all in all, a huge advantage over the NQO tax treatment. But there is a clinker with ISOs and this is the AMT, or alternative minimum tax. With an ISO exercise, the spread amount is includable in your income for purposes of calculating your AMT and, therefore, even though you may not have to pay tax at ordinary income tax rates on the value of the spread, you may wind up paying a substantial tax under the alternative measure applied by U.S. tax laws. This means that, in a high-value company, you definitely need to check with your tax advisor to determine your tax hit prior to doing such an exercise.

5. ISOs granted with an early-exercise privilege (as noted in this piece) are taxed substantially the same as restricted stock and this is a huge advantage. However, startups do not normally offer this privilege for various reasons (mainly because it is a mistake to make large numbers of employees instant shareholders) and so it is not really a practical answer to most such situations.

6. Thus, restricted stock is near-ideal from a tax standpoint, avoiding most tax risks and positioning your holdings for LTCG treatment, but is normally granted only to a very few people (mostly founders). ISOs avoid ordinary income but may subject you to an AMT tax hit - in addition, they can be used only with employees. NQOs are least favorable, subjecting you to an ordinary income tax hit on any spread as of the date of exercise, but these are valuable for their flexibility (they can be used for contractors, directors, and others besides employees).

tptacek 4 days ago 1 reply      
This is good stuff, but I want to chime in with a warning.

The major thrust of this piece is that you should exercise your options as soon as you can to start the tax clock ticking on them. That's true, as far as tax optimization goes.

However, doing that costs money. You have to pay for the stock. Once you do that, you probably can't just get the money back.

Be sure you really trust the company if you do this; in fact, not just the company, but also the board. I have friends who bought shares in companies that wiped out the common stock in acquisitions and did retention grants to keep current employees. Anybody who had left got shafted, even though they had put their own money into the company.

(Full disclosure: I decided not to put my own money into shares of the last company I worked for, and that cost me a fair bit of money when they were acquired. I don't really regret the decision, though; I had a choice between investing in the company I was leaving and the company I was starting.)

Matt_Cutts 4 days ago 0 replies      
Great article. If you start or join a startup, you really need to educate yourself on this topic. When I started at Google, I bought a book called Consider Your Options: http://www.fairmark.com/books/consider.htm It's quite good.

I also have a copy of Piaw Na's book: http://books.piaw.net/guide/index.html An Engineer's Guide to Silicon Valley Startups) but I have to admit that I haven't read it yet because most of my finances are in order at this point.

gfodor 4 days ago 1 reply      
This is all 100% on the money and incredibly important. I'm actually kind of surprised in retrospect that something like this post has never come across my radar on HN before, as the tax implications of exercising stock options in the U.S. has a few common pitfalls that can make the difference between a windfall, a modest return, or bankruptcy, depending on when and how you exercise and if you remember to file your 83(b) at the appropriate time.
ScottBurson 4 days ago 5 replies      
We've got to get this AMT thing fixed; it's nuts that people owe taxes on money they never had. At the very least, when the stock in such a situation actually becomes worthless, one should be able to file a 1040X for the year in which the AMT was triggered, erasing the excess tax bill and turning any excess tax paid into a credit.

I can see wanting to tax people on paper gains as a way of closing loopholes -- but if the paper gain evaporates we should let them off the hook.

herdrick 4 days ago 1 reply      
Very good post, aside from this: "So if you join a startup and don't exercise, you should probably try to stick it through to an exit." No. If you're thinking of quitting, presumably an exit which will make you rich is not imminent. Hanging on to a job when you have better alternatives elsewhere so as not to lose the possible value of your options usually is a tragic case of the 'endowment effect' bias in action.
msort 4 days ago 0 replies      
Great writing.

One issue with "Forward exercise" tough: by forward-exercising and converting to "Restricted Stock Unit", you avoid the high tax risk, but you also need to pay a substantial amount of cash in advance and bet on the future value of the company. Let's say you get $10k options at strike price $20, you basically need to pay $200K in advance to forward exercise. If the company dies in the future without anexit, you basically lose your $200k.

So perhaps the best strategy is to:
1) Forward exercise in several batches as you are gaining confidence of the company (but before the world has much confidence of the company...yet), and try to exercise before the next valuation increase.

2) Delay exercise as late as possible (closer to exit or IPO). But this usually works only if you join a late-stage startup, whose fate is more predictable.

If you are a startup, try issue Restricted Stock Units, rather than Stock Options to poor and hard-working employees. That will make your company more employee-friendly.

If you are looking for a startup to join, prefer those who issue Stock Units (e.g. Facebook, Twitter, which are not necessarily startups anymore though).

btilly 4 days ago 1 reply      
Forward exercising seems to me to be a horrible idea.

When you forward exercise, you're putting all of your financial eggs in one basket. This is the best way to get majorly rich in a hurry. It is also a good way to lose your shirt.

A large fraction of your income is already tied up with the success of the company. Standard financial advice is to seek to diversify at every opportunity.

lpolovets 4 days ago 0 replies      
Does anyone happen to know the tax consequences of forgetting the 83b?

For example:
Jan 1, 2000: it's day 1 of a new job and you forward exercise 100k options at $.01/option (total price = $1000). You forget the 83(b) form.

Jan 1, 2004: you quit on your 4 year anniversary, and the (still private) stock you own is now worth $1/share, which means the FMV of your stock is $100k.

Jan 1, 2009: your company IPOs at $10/share, so the FMV of your stock is now $1 million.

What is your tax status? Do you pay capital gains on $1 million - $1k? Capital gains on $1 million - $100k and AMT on $100k - 1k? Something else?

jsherry 4 days ago 1 reply      
From my understanding (disclaimer: I'm neither a lawyer nor an accountant, but I have been thoroughly advised by both on the topic), there is an important distinction between ISOs (Incentive Stock Options) and NSOs (Nonqualified Stock Options) when it comes to tax implications for the employee.

First, ISOs are not taxed at the time of grant or exercise. Instead, they are taxed when the stock is sold. NSOs, on the other hand, are taxed immediately upon exercise on the difference in value between the fair market value of the stock and your exercise price.

Second, ISOs are eligible for long-term capital gains treatment so long as the employee holds the stock for at least two years before selling. NSOs are always taxed as income.

From the employer perspective, there are implications as well, but I'm less versed on that side of things. It has something to do with tax deductions for the business when issuing NSOs that are not received when issuing ISOs.

For more info on this topic, here are a couple of links, but I'd of course recommend talking to a lawyer or accountant if you're serious about the topic:




kirubakaran 3 days ago 0 replies      
Can you please give a non-scribd direct link to the embedded pdf?

Edit: Never mind, found it from an earlier post http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=2574323 [thanks to http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=2623292]

dweekly 4 days ago 1 reply      
Thanks for linking to this. The Guide embedded at the bottom has been on Hacker News, discussion at http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=2573970 - happy to hear your feedback on this!
caf 4 days ago 2 replies      
In section 4:

The next day, you forward-exercise your four-year option package and quit. The company will simply buy back all of your restricted stock, and you'll end up with nothing.

Isn't it likely that the company will actually leave you with your Restricted Stock until just before the vesting date, then buy it back (unless the company has completely tanked in the meantime, in which case they'll be happy to leave you with your worthless stock)?

X-Istence 4 days ago 0 replies      
I've got certain stock options as an employee incentive program, how do those compare? What is a strike price? What is an exercise price? They vested immediately and I can technically exercise them today does that mean anything for me?

As someone that is new to this (at age 23) some non-professional guidance would be helpful. I understand that a good CPA would be much better at advising me in my situation, but I really don't have the money for that (student loans are KILLING me).

cpg 4 days ago 0 replies      
This is nice. One thing I did to really learn assimilate all this was code it all in a big excel spreadsheet with all the meaningful scenarios I could think of for me and for the company.

It really gave me a great overview and helped me make a more clear decision to leave and start my own company.

dannylipsitz 4 days ago 0 replies      
But in most cases, common stock can only be sold if and when an IPO takes place. VC investors won't want common stock, thus the employee must sell on a secondary market, back to the company, or patiently wait for an IPO. The first two options usually feature inherently dubious pricing due to reduced liquidity. Are there any other possibilities?
I moved to Singapore sivers.org
230 points by sivers  5 days ago   230 comments top 41
kylec 5 days ago  replies      
I'm surprised at his choice of location - Singapore is quite a nanny state, and the punishments are sometimes quite severe.

"Singapore society is highly regulated through the criminalization of many activities which are considered as fairly harmless in other countries. These include failing to flush toilets after use, littering, jaywalking, the possession of pornography, and the sale of chewing gum."

"Singapore has one of the highest execution rates in the world relative to its population, surpassing Saudi Arabia."





cletus 5 days ago  replies      
I love Singapore, except for the climate, which is oppressive.

There is amazing hawker (street) food everywhere and, thanks for strict enforcement of health regulations, it's pretty cheap too. At least it was. It's been a few years since I was there.

I kinda view Singapore as the Zurich of Asia. Zurich (and Switzerland in general) is very regulated (although Singapore more than Zurich; there are no rules against chewing gum in Zurich). Both cities are clean, almost sterile, safe and they basically work (public transport and other infrastructure).

Some people chafe against what they feel is an intrusion. You see those same opinions about New York where I now live. Some feel that NYC has lost a lot of the "grit" or "character" that it once had (back when, you know, muggings were common). One wonders at the psychology of danger and character going hand in hand.

For those who think Singapore is overly-regulated, which it is, you have to remember that English-speaking countries are pretty much an outlier. In continental Europe there are rules about everything, from how to throw out the trash to have to register with the government every time you move and what kinds of window treatments you're allowed to use.

When I worked in Zurich a colleague once described it succinctly: in England (and, by extension, the US, Canada and Australia) you can do whatever you want except for those things that are banned. On the mainland (of Europe) you can't do anything unless it's specifically allowed.

While not true in the strictest sense, that delineation that is tantamount to blacklisting vs whitelisting does, at least in my experience, embody a lot of the cultural differences between English speaking and non English speaking developed nations.

That guy's wife is Finnish and she found it unnerving in England. She wanted that structure of essentially being told what to do and how to do it (within limits).

The only thing I don't really like about Singapore (apart from the weather)--and this is probably true of most Asian countries--is the importance of face time at work. You're expected to be at work a lot even if you're not doing anything. That whole "appearance of work" thing and regimented approach to work in general (ie being very much concerned with the process rather than the results) is something that I've always chafed against.

frossie 5 days ago 4 replies      
The whole stay-abroad until you see "their" point of view is admirable. The flip side is that after that, you can never really go home. I mean obviously you can physically, but you give up your ability to fit in with your own people. This may or may not be a downside for you, but something to be aware of.

Anyway, congratulations on your move.

[edit in response to questions below: there is a big difference between living abroad for a few months a year or a couple of years and doing what the OP is suggesting - living abroad for long enough that your adult life is permanently established abroad. There is a turning point (in my experience around 15 years) at which point you have lived away from your family and old friends (which is what I meant by own people) that your different experiences come to overshadow your old similarities, especially if there are significant cultural differences. For an academic example imagine a woman from Saudi Arabia where women are not allowed even to drive living and working in the US for 20 years integrated in normal US life. It is unlikely she can ever return home and slot back as if she has never left. Americans are not exempt from this phenomenon - as can be reported by expats living in Europe going home to visit their families and ending up in epic arguments over US foreign policy. I live surrounded by expats (not short term visitors) from many countries and they would all report various degrees of this. Basically, once you become a citizen of the world, any one country and culture can come to be seen as parochial).

jasonkester 5 days ago 0 replies      
"we took one carry-on bag each, and went around the world"

Reading that just makes me smile. Well done.

So many people say they want to do exactly that. So few do it.

Of the people who don't do it, so many regret not having done it. Of the people who have, I've never met a single one who regretted it.

I hope your story serves as inspiration for somebody here to pack that little carry-on and book himself a one-way flight.

brisance 5 days ago 0 replies      
Singapore isn't perfect, but no place is.

These are some issues that Singaporeans face:

1) Rising cost of living through inflation.
2) Expensive housing.
3) Lack of financial liquidity. Singaporeans are asset-rich but cash-poor.
4) Apathy amongst the populace about social issues, legal and political process although this is changing, albeit slowly.
5) An extremely ingrained and fearful sense of failure. If it's not been done before, the default answer is "No".

Some good things going for it:

1) Public infrastructure is generally good but facing challenges from an increasing migrant population.
2) Personal safety. Women can walk home alone at night and not be assaulted.
3) Racial harmony. You don't read about hate crimes, skinheads etc. Some forms of implicit racial profiling and discrimination exists, but they are not widespread. i.e. there are always assholes of any color.
4) Low personal income tax.

quant18 5 days ago 0 replies      
Congratulations on the move! Asia is a great place to be. And a great environment for doing business. I'm in Hong Kong --- in several cities around the region including here, SG, KL, and Jakarta I see lots of latent entrepreneurial energy starting to manifest itself.

One warning: since it seems you plan to majority-own some local startups I hope you have an excellent accountant to help you with Uncle Sam. (yep, Americans living overseas still have to file with the IRS. whole mess of complicated forms. can even end up having to pay tax on undistributed corporate profits if you're not careful ...)

jacques_chester 5 days ago 0 replies      
I've played footsie with moving to Singapore if I get a startup bubbling. Here's why:

* Low regulation

* Low company tax

* No income tax paid on dividends

* No capital gains

It's also a market capital for Asia. Singapore and Hong Kong are the New York and London of the Asia-Pacific region. Very deep pools of capital.

Plus it's 3.5 hours from my home town and about 5 hours from where my parents live.

david927 5 days ago 2 replies      
Whenever I go to a new place, it takes about a year to really understand the true "costs" of living there. (The benefits are usually obvious on the first day or two.)

I have a friend who lived in Singapore for many years. The biggest "cost" for her in living there was that it is not fully subscribed to the principals of the Enlightenment.

I know this is like saying, "Yes your new girlfriend is cute and smart, but you should know she's also occasionally batshit crazy." You won't believe me and you'll be more inclined to shoot the messenger, but I thought you should know.

bemmu 5 days ago 1 reply      
I would recommend against putting a scan of an identity card online.
nihilocrat 5 days ago 1 reply      
Do you learn the local language every place you live?

I would suppose that's a pretty herculean task unless you already know several fluently and spend a considerable amount of time daily studying and practicing.

tlrobinson 4 days ago 1 reply      
What's the cost of living for a foreigner in Singapore like? Obviously there can be a big range, but I'm curious what your experiences are?

More generally, is there some resource for comparing costs of living of various places?

ido 5 days ago 3 replies      

    Race: Caucasian

Maybe it's cultural bias, but I was really surprised they'd list something like that on an ID card!

matimateo 5 days ago 0 replies      
First post here - long time lurker.
I was transferred to Singapore for work from Tokyo. Here are my impressions.
-housing is extremely expensive, food is generally cheap, air quality is nice

-streets are not as clean as expected, especially compared to Tokyo, which is a much larger city. I lived in Chinatown in the People's Park Complex with 6 mainland Chinese (I'm American), which was an interesting experience.

-the expat community is dominated by the finance community, which can tend to limit the crowds you will run with if you're not in with the locals. I tried to befriend the locals, with limited success.

-it doesn't feel like the police state it's made out to be, don't worry about being arrested for chewing gum (I saw some T-shirts with a "Legalize It" theme referring to gum).

Overall, Singapore seemed sterile to me. That was part my reason for quitting my job and moving back to Tokyo in April. I like Singapore, but not my cup of tea. Maybe that's just because I'm a huge fan of Japan.

chailatte 5 days ago 0 replies      
Strange, considering Singapore is a pretty musically desolate place. Then again, Imogen Heap was just there, so I guess you'll get the occasional rain.

Try restaurant andre.

bina 5 days ago 2 replies      
Congrats Derek.

This favors a trend I've noticed. White men moving to Asia or marrying/dating Asian women. It seems like half or more of the engineers I work with are married to Asian women, which is how I noticed this (I am also). It's an interesting trend. It's increasingly harder to find a white woman who will marry and have kids, let alone even talk to a man with geeky characteristics. Combine that with the lack of white women in science and engineering degrees...

cageface 5 days ago 2 replies      
Singapore seemed a little to squeaky-clean and expensive, so I did the same thing, but in Vietnam instead. Internet infrastructure here isn't great but other than that I haven't regretted it for a second. The U.S. and Europe just seem so boring now when I go back.
sidwyn 5 days ago 0 replies      
I grew up and lived in Singapore all my life, and am glad to hear you moved over!

One thing to note though, you should remove your Identity Card No. from your blog post. They can be used illegally and is best kept private.

Have dropped you a mail, let's meet up sometime!

louislouis 5 days ago 1 reply      
Did you ever consider Hong Kong as one of your possible locations to migrate to? And what made you decide against it?
lzy 5 days ago 2 replies      
While Sivers is obviously an awesome guy, why is this post about him moving to Singapore hitting the frontpage?

Just curious.

(Congrats on becoming a Singapore citizen btw!)

noelsequeira 5 days ago 0 replies      
Here's wishing you all the best on this latest leg of a journey we've so enjoyed reading about.

Singapore is 3 hours from India

You must visit way more often - you now have no excuse not to.

iantimothy 5 days ago 0 replies      
Hello from Singapore! And welcome to the family. Hope to meet you at echelon2011.
nikcub 5 days ago 0 replies      

you should totally blur your national ID number, though

and I had no idea they do the old 'race on national ID' thing

whow 5 days ago 0 replies      
Singapore reminds me of Apple.

A very focus country on being the most successful country in SEA and it's built on the vision of one man, LKY. However I do fear the day LKY pass and the government is lost.

sashthebash 4 days ago 0 replies      
"She can do this from anywhere"... that's often the problem.

I can work from anywhere and I'm currently single, so I'm traveling the world and living in different places (currently Buenos Aires), but a partner would make this much harder as they are usually not as flexible.

Startup idea: Have a dating site for location-independent individuals, I'll be your first customer :).

fookyong 5 days ago 0 replies      
I just moved to Singapore too! (been here one month exactly now).

It's ace. I'm loving it.

jrockway 5 days ago 2 replies      
Ah yes, Singapore... the one developed country with harsher laws than the US.
yzhengyu 4 days ago 0 replies      
Welcome to Singapore! I'm a native and I am glad you are enamored of our little island so much so you applied for permanent residency. :)

On the flip side, if you stay long enough and pay more attention to what goes on around you, I hope you will realize under the facade of shining steel and glaas, our society is also very dysfunctional.

d99kris 5 days ago 0 replies      
Having set up a similar goal many years ago - to stay/live in a big number of countries - it's interesting to see that we both settled for Singapore.
shmulkey18 5 days ago 2 replies      
Are you enjoying living in a police state? Seriously.
PaulHoule 4 days ago 0 replies      
cool for you. i'd rather stay in one place and get a chance, in my lifetime, to learn how a forest grows myself.
webmonkeyuk 4 days ago 0 replies      
I've got to wonder how much of a good plan it is to publish your ID card including ID Number and DoB.
flocial 4 days ago 0 replies      
At least Singapore's upfront about it. America has a shameful proportion of its population incarcerated and what of the Department of Homeland Security and other agencies encroaching on your liberties? Or how the TSA strips you with a more radiation than Fukushima just to travel?

Of course, there are valid critiques of Singaporean society in the comments but for the average person these draconian laws might be minor trade offs for a safer, cleaner urban life.

charlesbarbier 5 days ago 2 replies      
Why is this post get so many vote? I understand that this guy is famous for some of the stuff he did, but hey... hacker news is news for hacker, right? not news about hacker?
BadassFractal 4 days ago 0 replies      
Pretty amazed that you got permanent residency in under 8 months. That'd be amazing in the US.
FrojoS 5 days ago 0 replies      
nithyad 5 days ago 0 replies      
Hope I visit you in Singapore before you move out to another part of the world!
donaq 4 days ago 0 replies      
Welcome to our sunny island!
arvin 5 days ago 0 replies      
Nice! I also moved to Singapore just 7 months ago. Great country to work in. Loving it here too.
seymores 5 days ago 1 reply      
Wow, where do you hang out?
johnnyjustice 4 days ago 0 replies      
You are my hero Sivers. Very few people are bad ass and contribute. Thank you showing me it can be done.
lotusleaf1987 5 days ago 0 replies      
Your favorite subject is always yourself.

Why should I care about this? Was bitcoin in the headline earlier?

The Go Programming Language, or: Why all C-like languages except one suck. syntax-k.de
226 points by jemeshsu  2 days ago   88 comments top 23
andolanra 2 days ago 5 replies      
Considering only pure language design, I have to say that I'd prefer D to Go. A lot of people who talk about Go use some variation on the phrase "small sets of orthogonal features""a phrase I feel applies to Go only by comparison with, say, C++"and D doesn't succeed in that regard, but I feel like D really fits a lot of the points on the wish-list much more closely (e.g. template metaprogramming, data structures, objects, &c. D's compile-time constructs are incredibly useful without the nastiness of the C preprocessor or C++'s templates.) One thing which draws me to D is the "you can, but you don't have to" attitude it takes towards certain features"for example, there is GC by default, but you can stop using it and do manual memory management if you feel like it's important.

The problem here, and the massive, massive thing keeping me from throwing my full recommendation behind it, is that D fails entirely on #7, because the community is small and so even installing libraries by hand can be tedious. I keep wanting to pull out D for personal projects, but then I come across some obscure, poorly-documented library with few/no alternatives, and after trying to build it for three hours, I give up and switch to something else. Recently, 'something else' has in fact been Go. I still feel like, in an ideal universe, I'd rather program in D than Go, but we do not live in an ideal universe, and of those two, Go is the practical choice. (And, despite my frustrations with Go, it is still better by leaps and bounds than Java and C++.)

Also, quick correction: any dynamic language worth its salt does the same short-circut evaluation with and and or, including Python, Ruby, Scheme, and Common Lisp, so they all have the property ascribed in this writeup to only JS and Perl. In Python, you can change whether instances of a class are 'true' or 'false' values by overloading the __nonzero__ method, which means e.g. empty user-defined data structures could be considered 'false' while non-empty ones could be 'true.' On the other hand, Ruby considers only false and nil to be false values, Scheme considers only #f to be a false value, and Common Lisp considers only nil to be a false value. Aside from individual quibbles about which values are true and false, all of these languages implement an or that returns the first true value it finds, and all of them implement an and that returns the first false value it finds.

EDIT: Lua also allows the short-circuit boolean operators to return values. The only widely-known dynamic language off the top of my head that doesn't do this is Smalltalk. This would be complicated to add to a type system, for relatively little gain, so as far as I know, no typed language allows it.

mycroftiv 2 days ago 2 replies      
This is a great article, although of course there are a few things to quibble about. One that stuck out to me was this: "One of the inventors is Ken Thompson of Unix and Plan9 fame, and he was indirectly involved with C as well."

I'd have to say that Ken Thompson was directly involved with C, not just indirectly!

shin_lao 2 days ago 3 replies      
Too bad the points raised about C++ aren't valid. Ok, I admit, I get easily upset by language bashing (C++ or another).

The problem is that when you notice something inaccurate in a document, you have the tendency to ignore the rest...

It is a superior alternative for classic application development, and some nice slim and full-featured GUI toolkits use its qualities well.

I would say C++ is the way to go for servers, not really GUI. As much as I love C++ I wouldn't recommend using it for writing a GUI.

dynamic_cast<MyData>(funky_iterator<MyData &const>(foo::iterator_type<MyData>(obj))

I get it's a joke, but it would be a better joke if it was actually valid C++ or close to something you would actually write.

contemporary C++ using STL looks like a classic case of the "If all you have is a hammer"-syndrome

I don't understand what it means. The STL is a very powerful tool to implement complex data processing and work on structure. Is this another case of someone using the containers without using the algorithm's functions?

johnfn 2 days ago 2 replies      
> So while C may be as lightweight as it can get, it's not really suitable for projects with more than 10k LOC.

What about the linux kernel? Or GCC? Both projects are on the order of millions of lines of code. The author's claim is simply not true.

parenthesis 2 days ago 1 reply      
C is a C-like language.
C++, being a superset of a language very similar to C, is a C-like language.
Objective-C, as a superset of C, is a C-like language.

But Java? and Javascript? They both have C-style syntax, but apart from that they are both very different from C (and from each other).

Please don't say `C-like' when mere `C-style syntax' is meant. (And please don't think that having similar syntax implies any other close similarity between languages.)

BarkMore 2 days ago 0 replies      
Here's a thread with comments by Russ Cox about the article: https://groups.google.com/d/topic/golang-nuts/bg7U2tD04Fw/di...
zvrba 2 days ago 1 reply      
Go is NOT C-like. The same semantics could have been achieved by making minimal changes to the existing C syntax. For me, Go seems to be suffering from the NIH syndrome -- they made many syntax and cosmetic changes to C just for the sake of change itself. (Using {} for compound statements is not enough to qualify the language as 'c-like'.)

I have no doubts that Go authors think that their syntax is superior, but they'll have a hard time convincing me that

  switch nr, er := f.Read(buf[:]); true {

is understandable (snippet taken from Go tutorial).

fauigerzigerk 1 day ago 0 replies      
Python does foo if bar else baz, which is a little more verbose but still okay. JS and Perl, however, rock with their boolean operators AND and OR not just evaluating to true and false, but to the actual value that was considered true.

Python does that as well:

  0 or False or 'Python rocks' or [] == 'Python rocks'

latch 2 days ago 1 reply      
I crossed a point in my life, I'm not sure exactly when, where reading c-style code is just difficult for me. I see something like (from a Google sample):

   func (f Draft75Handler) ServeHTTP(w http.ResponseWriter, req *http.Request)

and at first I have an actual hard time parsing it, and then I think, why can't this just be

   Draft75Handler.ServeHTTP(writer, request)

I partially regret this loss and partially rejoice in it. I'm sure it'd just take a bit of practice to pick it up again.

Edit: I know why it can't look like that (because it can't be dynamic), but its still what crosses my mind.

dkarl 1 day ago 2 replies      
I was disappointed not to see RAII on his list. I'd gladly leave C++ behind if I could keep my RAII and the well-designed STL (a great idea and implementation which is unfortunately uglified by C++-imposed verbosity.) Actually, I'd happily leave even the STL behind, but I always miss RAII.

Rust supports RAII, but it might be premature to include Rust in this kind of comparison.

KirinDave 1 day ago 0 replies      
I generally liked this review, but I really had a hard time choking down the sections on Concurrency (which was"charitably"poorly written and confusing) and OO (which classically mis-defines OO).

It makes me wonder, why is concurrency really that much of a black art in 2011? I still see people confuse parallelism and concurrency and just the other day an article got upvoted here describing why JavaScript programmers don't need to learn about concurrency; as if the continuation-passing callback style of JavaScript isn't a concurrency technique.

stephen_g 2 days ago 1 reply      
This seems like a fairly poor article overall... His point about GTK is nonsensical - C is a very good language to use because it means that bindings can be made for pretty much any language any language - which is why you can use GTK in any language from C++, to Python, to C# and Java, PHP, Javascript and so on... And C is used on thousands of projects more than 10K LOC, so I don't see how it's 'not suitable'...
Johngibb 2 days ago 3 replies      
I'm wondering why they don't mention C#? Is mono non-viable at this point, and he's only considering truly open source languages?
zitterbewegung 2 days ago 1 reply      
C isn't suitable for projects with more than 10k LOC? Ever hear about the linux kernel? Or even libc?
natesm 2 days ago 1 reply      
The author says that he doesn't particularly care about speed if development is nicer, but it's good to know anyways:


sigzero 2 days ago 3 replies      
What the Go folks are trying to do is get traction. Without traction the Go language won't be the "next big thing". So I expect we will see a lot of these "types" of articles coming out.
p0nce 1 day ago 0 replies      
> Well, actually there are semicolons, but they are discouraged. It works like JavaScript, there is a simple rule that makes the parser insert a semicolon at certain line ends.

I find it ironic that this "feature" is #1 in the list.

itsnotvalid 1 day ago 0 replies      
I thought the ideal language he was talking about is Haskell.
jannes 2 days ago 1 reply      
I'm not a C++ programmer. Does anyone know how C++0x is coming along? Does it address some of his issues with C-like languages?
daitangio 1 day ago 0 replies      
Some objections are questionable.
The writer regret ObjectiveC for the lack of a GC. Then blames Java for its size.
Then he exalts GO for the GC.
You can find disavantages in every programming language, but are the advantages which drive the choice.

You can also squeeze java a lot, running in less then 16MB.
So have I miss the point, or the writer is a GO-addicted?

silon 2 days ago 0 replies      
Ceylon looks to be much better C-like language than Go. Go simply has too divergent syntax.
briancray 2 days ago 0 replies      
I really like this comment regarding C-oid languages vs. scripting languages: "Premature optimization is usually not worth it."
jasonjackson 1 day ago 0 replies      
tdlr: C < Go < Lisp
Richard Dreyfuss' dramatic reading of the iTunes EULA cnet.com
214 points by iwwr  1 day ago   53 comments top 12
DanielStraight 1 day ago 0 replies      
The "termination" one highlights a particularly absurd aspect of the EULA. You are supposed to do something specific on termination of the license, but they aren't required to tell you it's terminated?
leftnode 1 day ago 1 reply      
There's a recent South Park episode parodying the length and absurdity of Apple's EULA's and terms of agreement. The whole episode is great and does a pretty good job of goofing on Apple fanboyism.
peterwwillis 1 day ago  replies      
Can you imagine if companies did this regularly? If people actually "listened" to what they're agreeing to when they use common software? They might actually look for alternative software.

New idea: A table on Wikipedia of software and the rights you give up by using it, compared to Free software and the rights you retain.

pornel 1 day ago 2 replies      
I do not want to accept iTunes EULA, but I feel like I'm blackmailed to do it: if I don't, I'll loose ability to synchronize/activate/restore my phone, I won't be able to update or download any applications for it. With cable-free iOS5 it looks like there isn't even a choice " you either accept iTunes EULA or you won't get past Welcome screen.

I'm locked-in and I have to perpetually "agree" to whatever Apple comes up with.

edkennedy 1 day ago 1 reply      
I find the link at the end of the article most interesting of all. http://www.thedreyfussinitiative.org/
dave84 1 day ago 1 reply      
I imagine this is what Wil Wheaton hears in his head when he's reading EULAs.

With that out of the way, would it be possible to represent EULAs in a simpler manner while still satisfying a company's legal department?

cpg 1 day ago 0 replies      
Hilarious. What we need is Shatner reading it, with bongs and all, a la Palin http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vpbSwSlP4Yc http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2mLvzARScak
pama 1 day ago 0 replies      
Excellent! This is the best answer to the question: "Who reads the EULA?"
napierzaza 1 day ago 0 replies      
Does he take requests, I'd like to hear him do the "Think Different" ad again.
danssig 1 day ago 0 replies      
So when is he doing one for MS, Adobe, Oracle, ....
itswindy 23 hours ago 0 replies      
Stop bashing Apple if you are using a MAC. Read its EULA, you agreed not to say anything bad about Apple when you first bought your Mac. :)

God knows what I agreed to when I installed XP.

michaelfeathers 1 day ago 1 reply      
I'm aching for someone to put a dub beat behind this, bongos, or some Greek Bouzouki.
Lessons From a Coffee Entrepreneur geekatsea.com
220 points by kirillzubovsky  3 days ago   86 comments top 15
jpadvo 3 days ago 7 replies      
> To fix the conversion rates, John moved the "cash only" sign inside, and on top of that started accepting checks, foreign currency, and even the I.O.U's.

In my mind, this is the highlight of the article. If you carry out your business in a friendly and unique way you can win customers and do things that are very difficult to pull off otherwise.

jonnathanson 3 days ago 1 reply      
An important side lesson here is not to take common industry practices at face value. (In this case, it was the conventional wisdom that 'All coffee shops are expected to have baked goods, and they sell baked goods at a loss').

In any business, big or small, tech or otherwise, there are hundreds of strategic and tactical levers we can pull on a daily basis. Many of these levers we don't even realize exist, because we're so used to thinking of them as fixed in place.

scottporad 3 days ago 1 reply      

One of the coffee shops I frequent also accepts IOUs, plus they do one other thing: you pay as you leave, not when you get your coffee. Now, this has two benefits:

First, means that the barista has to keep track of things...they have to actually have a relationship and interaction with the customer. That's very positive.

Second, it means that I often go get a second cup, or a pastry, because I haven't closed out my bill yet.

haberman 3 days ago 0 replies      
I have bought these donuts before, and definitely did not care that they came from Fred Meyer (I remember him mentioning it, slightly apologetically).
railsjedi 3 days ago 1 reply      
Nice post that reminds us that customer development techniques are not new to the tech community, and we can learn a lot from watching traditional brick and mortar stores use these same techniques to enhance their business.
colson04 3 days ago 0 replies      
Good article, but the most interesting part of the story (for me) was casually summarized in one sentence. What amazes me is that he decided to start his first business at the age of 61 - wow! Major kudos to this guy for finally deciding to take a leap at an age when others are merely contemplating if their savings will be enough to fund retirement - that takes serious balls.

Sure, John made some great changes and saved his business, but that's what good entrepreneurs do - adapt and move on. He certainly deserves the credit for that, no doubt.

napierzaza 3 days ago 3 replies      
Sounds like his business is dying as he cuts parts away. If he could get the right amount of pastries ordered, why would he not make money? You sell half, so order half. It just sounds like he wasn't paying much attention when he wasn't in financial trouble.

Sounds like a pretty reactionary guy. I might agree that credit companies exploit small businesses, but a bakery too? Everyone is out to get this guy.

I just hope he doesn't get his own ATM in his business instead of taking credit cards.

wyclif 3 days ago 1 reply      
There's a typo: "Steady" not "stead" under Lesson 1.

EDIT: Actually, this piece has quite a few spelling errors and typos in it. This needs a once-over by an editor.

aviel 3 days ago 1 reply      
His deck is also the best place to work in the Summer in Seattle IMHO.
sib1013 3 days ago 0 replies      
Good story about the power of experimenting an making decisions quickly.
bluekite2000 3 days ago 0 replies      
My lesson as a coffee entrepreneur: hire cute asian waitresses with big boobs (working exclusively on tips) and have them wear nothing but pasties http://www.ocregister.com/articles/says-126730-nguyen-coffee...
languagehacker 3 days ago 10 replies      
Being a cash-only business is an annoying disservice to your customers. It's a sign that you're not interested in the value of convenience. It's a regressive attitude to lean on cash, and oftentimes a sign that you're not interested in keeping honest books.

If you're not willing to pay what is almost universally accepted as an operating cost in modern society, you're setting yourself up to be left in the dust, and quickly. People are about to start paying for everyday transactions using their phones! If you have a problem with payment processors biting into your margins, then pass the buck onto your customers (even as a credit card usage fee), but never take away a payment option.

adaniali 3 days ago 1 reply      
I like to have an IOU iphone app.
redrussak 3 days ago 0 replies      
The Seattle tech community rocks!
vnorby 3 days ago 6 replies      
Are we sure these are lessons we want to take? Forcing a user to pay with currency (let alone foreign) makes accounting harder, and renders their shop useless to compete with other shops that do have card readers for a very large percentage of people. Then he moved the cash only sign inside instead of realizing that customers want to pay with their cards and adapting to his customers' needs. Lastly, he decided on taking the easy, low-quality route with his baked goods. Is that really future proof? I don't think he's acquiring any new customers by reselling boxed donuts - and his margins are very low. Why is he getting into the competitive baked goods market in the first place? Why not partner with a local bakery that produces high quality food stuffs as a barter?
Apple's iCloud will automatically store, sync data for free appleinsider.com
213 points by sandipc  3 days ago   197 comments top 25
ender7 3 days ago 6 replies      
In general the service seems really neat, but I have to admit I find their storage and pricing system a bit confusing. How is the average consumer going to react? I can't imagine explaining this to my parents...


So...it stores all my files?

Yes. Well, sort of. If your apps use the iCloud API.


Nevermind. Yes. It stores your files, and sync them across all your computers.

What does it cost?

It's free.

Awesome. And I can access them any time?

Yep. Except photos. Those are only stored for 30 days. But the copies stick around on your devices. But only your PCs - your phones only keep the last 1000 photos.

Oh. But what if I want to look at older photos on my--

Put it in an album. Then it's always available.

Oh...kay. I guess that makes sense. What about music?

If you buy it from the iTunes store, then it syncs automatically to all your devices!


Up to 10 devices.

Eh, that's fine, that seems like a lot of devices. What if I don't buy it from the iTunes store?

You can sync that too!


It costs money though.

Wait. I thought you said it was free.

Non-iTunes Store music costs a yearly fee to store ($24.99). Although you're not really storing them. See, iTunes will scan your music and try to guess what music you have, and then grant you access to the iTunes Store copies of it. Unless it gets confused and thinks your Bob Dylan is Jimmy Hendricks. But that probably won't happen.


But you can "store" an unlimited number of songs!

Unlimited? That's a lot!

Yeah, you can also store things like mail, documents, and backups on there too!

Are those unlimited too?

No, those have a max of 5GB. Except for Apps, iBooks, and iTunes music. Those don't count. Oh, and neither do photos. The ones that we store for 30 days.

What happens if I use up all 5GB?

We're guessing that most people won't.

You should see my inbox.

We'll probably have a plan where you can pay more money to get more storage.

Ah, okay. So...


It's free. Unless I want to upload my non-iTunes store music, in which case it's $24.99/yr. And it has unlimited storage for App backups, iTunes store music, and iBooks, and a 5GB limit for documents, e-mail, and "other stuff", and a 30-day cache of all of the photos I've taken. And it happens automatically in the background, provided whatever App I'm using is correctly hooked into the iCloud service, which may or may not be apparent at the time.




My parents have started to use Dropbox ("put stuff you want in the folder") and really like it. I'm not sure they'll understand how this service works, if they understand that it exists at all.

nlawalker 3 days ago 2 replies      
"iCloud" seems to be an obvious name to those that have been paying attention to the current state of technology, but if you think about it for a second, it's actually pretty genius. Taking the name "iCloud", as opposed to "iSync" or something else that more clearly and directly describes the service, is a masterstroke.

Why? Because up until now, "cloud" has been a vague term whose value is extremely difficult to explain to consumers (trying to explain that gmail or Skydrive or Facebook are all kinda-sorta "cloud" in a few different ways will just get you "oh, so it's just the internet!"). By tying it to a clearly-defined product or service that has real value for regular people, Apple now owns the term "cloud" as used in general discourse.

It's like how in the 2002-2003 timeframe, every non-Apple MP3 player was "a different-looking iPod", but this is in reverse. Every mention of "cloud" or "cloud computing" will evoke "oh yeah, you can get your phone pictures on your PC without hooking it up!". They've given a buzzword-bingo term a real definition that a lot of people can relate to.

Contrast with Microsoft's "...to the cloud!", a desperate attempt to get back into the consumer space that shows just how firmly they are trapped by enterprise thinking. It'll make your kids smile! It can edit photos! It will give you movies to watch when you're bored! Even the masses won't fall for something that vague - they need clearly defined products. "To the cloud" reminds me of the first couple years of "the .NET initiative": wind and stars that would do everything from control your house to drive your car and make the world happy again.

As someone interested in technology, I despise that Apple has further conflated an already massively overloaded term, but I have to give them recognition for their marketing skills. I can't wait to see how much more difficult it's going to get to explain "cloud computing" to a CIO who has spent the last week enamored that cloud computing means that he can get his music on his iPhone and his Mac.

powrtoch 3 days ago 5 replies      
I'm curious to see how well the iTunes Match feature works. Naturally it will have to use audio fingerprinting rather than just trusting user-supplied metadata. The catch is that this technology is probably based on Lala (who Apple bought out), and Lala's software was extremely dodgy. I had records where <50% of songs were correctly identified, the others "matched" to seemingly random tracks from completely unrelated genres.

If Apple has not earnestly dug into and improved on this software, users will be completely mystified and the whole thing will be a big embarrassment for Apple.

extension 3 days ago 2 replies      
I was hoping they would have something to say about privacy/security, but they didn't so I guess there isn't any. That's too bad because I don't think I can live with all my photos being instantly sent to Apple. Probably some other document types too.
starnix17 3 days ago 4 replies      
Coolest news for developers, there are APIs for this for use with third party apps.
dsplittgerber 3 days ago 10 replies      
A little arbitrage idea:
How about going on an illegal downloading-binge and getting every album one possibly could ever like from the past, I don't know, 30 years? Then when you've got your several thousand albums, you go legalize it all for $29.95.

Sounds like value?

MatthewPhillips 3 days ago 1 reply      
Interesting service. I really like the cloud APIs. I know that this was available in past versions of MobileMe, but so few used MobileMe so it wasn't a big thing for developers. If people are opted into iCloud you can pretty much assume that your users have an account and plan to store on Apple's dime instead of yours.

It almost seems too good to be true. I wouldn't be surprised if some developers abuse this by storing massive amounts of data in iCloud and Apple sets up some limits.

As for the music stuff, my consumer perspective is that if "anywhere" doesn't include a web browser, you're not really offering it any where. I don't expect you to build a separate client for competing platforms, but a web player I do. Google and Amazon are already doing this. I don't always use Macs and iPads so I need a way to access my music when I'm away from those.

pilif 3 days ago 2 replies      
It's a real shame that there's still no real podcast support. Granted, now the devices can sync via WiFi, but what if I'm away from my main machine and I just want to download all new episodes of the podcasts I'm subscribed to?

Something like this CAN'T be that hard to do - at least it shouldn't be.

craigmccaskill 3 days ago 3 replies      
A concern I always have over services like this, is that they tend to back up at the most inopportune times. Holding a VC and your call suddenly drops? Playing an FPS or RTS game and things start to become unresponsive? Uploading your latest project files, wondering why it's going so slowly while a is client clamouring for it yesterday?
Chances are one of your many automatic backup services just kicked in. With devices like the iPad and iPhone being 'always on' and connected to the wifi in the background, I can see this becoming a problem. When these sorts of services were confined to a desktop or laptop, you could always shut them down with a simple right click on a task bar/menu icon. Now you have multiple devices that could potentially be bogging down your network, how do you easily diagnose where the network drain is coming from?
zoul 3 days ago 2 replies      
“Music features are available only in the U.S.” Sigh.
MatthewB 3 days ago 6 replies      
Shouldn't dropbox be a little nervous?
upthedale 3 days ago 0 replies      
The music matching service does sound genuinely interesting, though I am unsure about how it works as a yearly subscription. Surely once you've matched your songs, that's it (until next time). Would the pay per use model not make more sense?

But as for TFA, the non-music sync features of iCloud seem underwhelming. At the risk of playing the "other-phones-already-do-it" card, Windows (both Phone and PC) already does this with the Live services and Skydrive. Contacts, Calendar, Office documents and Photos can all be synced automatically. In addition, you get 25GB of space - no silly 30 day limits as with photos in iCloud.

What's the current state of play for Android?

redler 3 days ago 1 reply      
It seems like the music part of this offering amounts to Apple cutting a deal with the music labels that, in part, allows billions of bad old BladeEnc rips downloaded from Napster to be "laundered" into legitimate AAC tracks. Apple pays the music labels a hundred million or two, so the labels have retroactively turned the old downloaders into paying customers, of a sort. And for these laundering services, each of them reimburses Apple to the tune of $25 per year (storage and sync notwithstanding).
funkdobiest 3 days ago 0 replies      
So if I have music that I wrote and have the copyrights to and give a copy of it to a friend and they then use the iCloud service. How would Apple then handle the licensing, as it seems they have some sort of deal with the big record labels to give them a cut of this 24.99, what about independent musicians?
6ren 3 days ago 0 replies      
Sounds like dropbox, but one step closer to the user: instead of interfacing at the directory level, it interfaces at the application level.

Also underlines dropbox's tremendous success, to be casually mentioned by Jobs to define the problem/solution.

inthewoods 3 days ago 1 reply      
Anybody surprised that there was Twitter integration but no Facebook integration? I know they probably don't want to get in bed with Facebook, but it's strange to me to have one and not the other.
stashdot 3 days ago 5 replies      
Itunes Match service seems mind blowing. "Even 20,000 songs" will cost only $24.99 per year it seems.
bennesvig 3 days ago 0 replies      
But I don't care about owning music. I only want access to it. Rdio still seems like the better option for music, despite this being a step in the right direction.
dr_ 3 days ago 0 replies      
I love my iPhone but I'm sticking to dropbox.
Ill probably limit icloud to music I've purchased via iTunes
mrvc 3 days ago 3 replies      
This is great, but can cell networks handle the load? They're already struggling from a significant lack of investment and this could well be a straw that breaks the camels back.
joe24pack 3 days ago 0 replies      
err ... no thanks. I'll keep my data local ... and private.
maercsrats 3 days ago 1 reply      
Syncing with things can happen over 3g. Being transparent can be nice but not with unlimited plans gone from carriers. I'm wondering if there will be an option to say not to sync over 3g unless you are on wifi.
tvon 3 days ago 1 reply      
A less than ideal setup for non-iTunes music, but IMO that was to be expected.
xbryanx 3 days ago 0 replies      
I'm just not that excited about pointing all my devices at a big metal cloud on the wall. Wonder if I can paint it.
hnsmurf 3 days ago 1 reply      
Meh. I still can't go PC-less on my iPad. I have plenty of music that didn't come from updates and isn't for sale on iTunes, and I don't see anything about OS updates OTA. Exchange and Gmail already do most of the rest for me.
Apple Reverses Course On In-App Subscriptions macrumors.com
211 points by whiskers  1 day ago   154 comments top 22
cpr 1 day ago  replies      
Why is everyone assuming Apple's being evil here?

Not that they're perfect by any means, but the pattern seems pretty clear: they start off with a restrictive situation, see how it works, and then adjust. (Sometimes they restrict more, then relax; sometimes they stay more restrictive.)

They're engaged in a learning process, folks. Nothing quite like the App Store has been attempted before on this scale, and you know they've gotta be rather conservative at each step. You would if you were in their shoes.

Yes, they're trying to make money, but I see lots of signs that they're also trying to accommodate the needs of users first, then developers.

Never assume malice when it could just be incompetence (i.e., learning from mistakes), etc.

(I'm not shilling for Apple. I didn't even attend WWDC this year for the first time in many years. ;-)

statictype 1 day ago 2 replies      
Is it possible that Amazon was playing 'chicken' with the Kindle app, and finally at the last moment, Apple relented and Amazon won?

On an episode of The Talkshow, Gruber was speculating that this would come to a head in early June and that something had to happen either way: The Kindle app gets pulled or Apple makes some kind of exception to the rule.

pieter 1 day ago 2 replies      
The problem with in-app purchases was always that Apple HAS to use the same 30% fee. If they use another percentage, developers just create free apps and make 'premium' features available for the same price as their paid app would otherwise be, thereby handing over less money to Apple.

Because Apple's in-app purchases don't distinguish between features and content, Apple can't use different pricing schemes.

I think Apple may try to change this situation with their News Stand system in iOS5. The content appearing there are still normal apps, they're just grouped together in a special folder and feature automatic downloads.

My guess is that content purchased in those News Stand apps will be less taxed than other in-app purchases, for example just 10%. That way Apple will keep some of their most important 'partners' happy.

jarin 1 day ago  replies      
Essentially Apple wanted to see if they could get away with being greedy, and when it didn't work out they abandoned it.

It's similar to what they've done with app approvals, features, terms of service, signal strength bars, location data, etc.

schrototo 20 hours ago 0 replies      
It makes perfect sense now that they have Newsstand in iOS 5.
Netflix, Amazon Kindle, SaaS apps and what-have-you can do what they want subscription-wise and still provide immense value to the platform, while magazines and newspapers will want to be part of Newsstand and will give Apple their 30% without much of a fuss. Everybody wins.
guelo 1 day ago 1 reply      
I don't know how it is you're supposed to build a business on top of Apple's platforms. I'm staying as far away as I can.
pseudonym 1 day ago 1 reply      
I'm pleased that they've made at least this change, but saddened that so many good services that used this functionality have already disappeared.
sylvinus 1 day ago 2 replies      
Looks like Apple is (successfully?) copying Facebook's policy strategy... Two big steps forward, then one little step backwards!
silverlight 1 day ago 1 reply      
Wow, this could not have come at a better time, since I was just wondering the other day if our companion app to our SaaS offering would be approved. Very pleased to see them reversing their position on this, and further clarifying that even this guideline excludes SaaS subscriptions (which I think is why they specifically spell out audio, video, etc. as the types of content). Thanks, Apple!
whiskers 1 day ago 0 replies      
The key difference between the old policy...

"provided that the same content is also offered in the app using IAP at the same price or less than it is offered outside the app."

...and the new...

"that is subscribed to or purchased outside of the app, as long as there is no button or external link in the app to purchase the approved content. Apple will not receive any portion of the revenues for approved content that is subscribed to or purchased outside of the app"

Now it appears that it's fine to show content that is subscribed for outside of the App Store ecosystem (but you may not link directly to your payment pages).

pdenya 1 day ago 0 replies      
Planned the whole time?

1) Apple introduces a strict requirement for using IAP with a deadline

2) All the devs who were planning to comply to keep their apps in the store have likely done the work integrating IAP already

3) Apple reverses policies

4) Devs have the option to drop IAP in their apps but it's not likely that many will IMO

MatthewPhillips 1 day ago 1 reply      
Probably their lawyers got to them. They have a near monopoly in legal music downloads (market share at 70%), so if their app store policies led to Rhapsody or Rdio going out of business it would look pretty bad in the eyes of regulators.
sambeau 21 hours ago 2 replies      
I would like to point out to people who say that Apple is being greedy: until they came out with their 30% deal it was normal for Phone companies to ban all software from their phones except for their own. When phone companies did include outside developers software, deals of 90%+ were common (as they still are in the games' industry
lini 1 day ago 1 reply      
Does this mean that people like iFlow (https://www.iflowreader.com/Closing.aspx) can start selling eBooks again now? Or is it too late for them already?
Qz 20 hours ago 0 replies      
That is, these apps can't have a "buy" button that takes users to an external subscription page.

I can't see how this is good for the user at all.

davidedicillo 1 day ago 2 replies      
I wonder if I can use In-App subscriptions to subscribe to a service instead of content. And, if not, if I can link to the external site.
dageshi 1 day ago 2 replies      
I truly don't understand why apple does this, I can only assume its because they have nothing but contempt for the people who develop apps for their platform.
codiist 20 hours ago 0 replies      
I think this also has to do with the in-App Patent trouble. Now Apple can say, hey, we did not force you to offer in-App purchase in your app, you can sell your subscriptions just outside the store; in the end, you as the developer of the app are responsible for any resulting legal trouble.
hnsmurf 23 hours ago 0 replies      
The logo certainly makes Apple guilty of a trade dress infringement. This guy will have no shortage of IP attorneys willing to take his case pro bono.
alecco 23 hours ago 0 replies      
IMHO, they probably freaked out everybody is eyeing HTML5 as a viable cross-platform app alternative.
Straubiz 1 day ago 1 reply      
Is it confirmed?
MatthewPhillips 1 day ago 1 reply      
What does this mean for Readability?
My life in Accenture before startups swombat.com
207 points by swombat  1 day ago   114 comments top 23
edw519 1 day ago 8 replies      
My typical day working for a Big 5 firm:

   7:00 - drive to client in Redlands
8:00 - arrive in Redlands
8:42 - client arrives for 8:00 meeting
8:51 - client leaves for emergency
8:52 - review project with programmer - still 18 months behind
9:15 - daily email to 6 bosses about dire status
9:38 - take call from boss #4 - debate "strategic direction"
10:20 - coffee, snack, & bitch session with lead programmer
10:45 - drive to client in Century City
12:20 - arrive in Century City, everyone at lunch already
12:30 - have hot dog at sidewalk cafe, look for Christina Applegate
1:15 - meet with client for daily status
1:22 - client leaves for emergency
1:28 - review project with programmer - still 18 months behind
1:40 - daily email to 5 other bosses about dire status
2:15 - take call from other boss #3 - debate "strategic direction"
2:28 - referee dispute between contract & employee programmers
3:20 - coffee, snack, & bitch session with lead programmer
4:20 - drive home
5:50 - arrive home
8:10 - take calls from 4 other bosses debating strategy
9:20 - end day knowing tomorrow will be exactly the same
Total work done: 0

My typical day working for an enterprise:

   7:30 - drive to work
7:50 - arrive at work, turn on Windows workstation
7:51 - get coffee, greet co-workers
8:10 - workstation finally up, check overnight logs
8:15 - check email
8:30 - resume programming on current project
9:15 - take calls from 6 customers, changing scope
10:00 - go to daily status meeting
10:12 - everyone else arrives at daily status meeting
10:48 - drop current project, work on daily emergency
12:10 - go to lunch at mall foodcourt
1:00 - check email
1:10 - resume programming on current project, drop daily emergency
1:40 - take 4 calls, give project status
2:00 - go to Special Planning Session for Project #127
2:12 - others arrive at Special Planning Session for Project #127
2:48 - candy bar break, bitch with other programmers about code review
3:10 - resume programming on current project
4:00 - go to daily stand-up meeting for project status
4:08 - others arrive at daily stand-up meeting for project status
4:45 - email project status to 8 bosses
5:10 - drive home
5:45 - day ends
Total work done: 2 hours

My typical day working for a start-up:

   6:00 - code
8:00 - breakfast at desk while coding
10:00 - coffee break outside
10:10 - code
12:00 - lunch at desk while coding
2:00 - break outside
2:15 - work on everything else except coding
4:00 - review & print code
5:00 - exercise
6:00 - dinner with SO
7:00 - visit mother, watch Jeopardy & Family Guy with her
8:00 - code
10:00 - turn off monitor, review code, plan next day
Total work done: 8 hours

fbnt 1 day ago 5 replies      
I left Accenture (Italy) this january, after 3 years, and just like you I was hired right after graduation thanks to my 'mad' java skills, after about 1 year I wasn't writing much code anymore and SQL, Word & Excel became my only daily companions.

Negatives/things I didn't like during my experience in Accenture:

  - Working 10-14 hours a day (^). If you were to leave at 6pm your supervisor 
would joke about it ("hey, did you get that part-time thing?").
It's alienating and can be done only if you're young & single.
You are supposed to immolate yourself for the company.

- Procedures & timetables to fill: I were required to follow the
most cumbersome procedures even for the simplier tasks and file every
single small detail of what I've done in a form somewhere for monitoring
While this is a good practice in general, what was going on there
was beyond absurdity. I spent more time reporting what I was doing
than working on the actual task.

- Dressing code = compulsory business attire, Suite + tie (!)

- Managers overlydramatic speeches. Laughable attitude.

- Strong pyramidal scheme. If your non-technical supervisor closed a deal
with the client on a specific feature, it didn't matter if it was technically
unfeasible and risked to put in jeopardy the whole system, you were -ordered-
to do it. obey. Reworking was then very common.

- What matter isn't the quality of your work, it's the amount of time
you spend on it. You're consultants and your company charges the client by
the hours you do. The more you stay in the office, the better is for the company.
Optimization? who cares.

- Most of my coworkers there were really, really, really bored.
Their life was sucked into the office, and the only thought they had on a
typical monday morning was how to make it through the next weekend.


  - I found some truly talented people, and I learned lots of both technical 
and people skills.

- You get to learn some self-discipline, especially when it comes to schedule
your time to reach specific goals.

- On a professional point of view, I grew up a lot, it's a good 'gym',
an eye-opener.

Anyway, in all honesty, I'm glad I've been working there and I do not regret it at all. If I were to run a startup right after university, I would have bit off more than I could chew, probably.

(^) I don't mind working 10-14 on my own stuff, things that I'm crafting with my hands and that I find exciting. Pretending to work 14 hours on a bi-monthly report just because you've got to leave at the same time as everybody else is another thing.

cubicle67 1 day ago 1 reply      
I spent a number of years working as an employee of one of the big IT outsourcers on a Australian government department (better not say which one) contract. During this time I was required to assist a team from Accenture who had won a contract to write some software that needed to be integrated with a number of systems.

Accenture had "all their best people" on the job. This meant almost an entire floor of staff; managers, project managers, BAs, god knows what else. Oh, they also had two young devs, you know, to actually do the work. These two guys were nice, seemed pretty smart, but fresh out of uni had no experience at all and were just so far out of their depth it was embracing. I tried to help them where I could, but didn't get much opportunity.

Accenture originally gave a timeframe of three years for this project, but when I left they were two years in and still not even a working demo in sight. I have no idea if it was ever completed or what happened

ben1040 20 hours ago 1 reply      
A few years ago I quit my job in academia to go work as a field delivery consultant for a large ERP firm. This whole thing was a ridiculous culture shock to me. I quit because I wanted to try something different -- it was different, all right.

For the first year or so I was doing some development work on the client side as well as requirements gathering and dealing with integration. I was cool with this, because I was doing something technical but wanted something that would flex my people skills as well.

At one point I was tasked with requirements gathering for a customer who wanted some custom work done to their installation of our product. They bought two weeks of my time to draft a spec, and no development -- my deliverable was basically to draft the SOW for the next consultant who was to write a technical design for someone else who was to write code.

I finished the spec, in spite of a client who really was extremely hard to deal with. The client sat on it for a few months and decided they wanted to revisit the issue, so I got on a plane again and spent two more weeks trying to tease some answers out of them so I could revise things.

The final specification amounted to approximately 95 pages including screenshot mockups. The spec went back to the home office, where our development team reviewed it and quoted something like three or four months' time to develop it, test it, and hand off back to the customer for acceptance testing. They planned for the invariable back and forth on that as well. This was in February of that particular year; they were looking at taking the feature live on January 1 of the following year.

The feature they requested? Four simple web forms, the code to validate their input, and a report generator to dump back out what was put into the form.

After we finalized the spec for this I turned in my two weeks and went straight back to academia, where four web forms and a report is something you write, wrap automated tests around, and deploy before lunchtime.

Lewisham 1 day ago 0 replies      
I remember when I was at university in the UK (a Top 10 one, and Top 5 for Computer Science). One of my graduating friends got hired by Accenture. When he told on of the (well-respected) professors, the professor literally laughed in his face.

I decided not to apply to Accenture.

localtalent 18 hours ago 0 replies      
My story is nearly identical (US, NY). I left after 5 years. No kool-aid drinking here.

Accenture is a culture you either fit into or you don't - a very 'up-or-out' mentality.

Some of the problems that commenters have noted are definitely attributed to the internal culture: an over-emphasis on face-time, long hours with no real work to do, and occasionally selling work that was undeliverable (technically unfeasible, impossible delivery schedule, etc).

Some management was good, a lot of it was poor, and generally the focus was on selling and looking good rather than delivering a viable product. At all levels, you're ranked against your co-workers for a very small number of promotion slots, particularly in recent times. This creates a strange dynamic: you're both trying to work with people at your level to create something useful for a client and prove that you're better/smarter/faster than your peers, some of whom are on the same project and most of whom you've never met.

Many of the complaints, however, are an effect of having large numbers of stakeholders on a complicated project. Clients are often unpredictable, and incented by a completely different set of goals. There's generally a lot of money and a lot of management involved, and people have their careers staked on these projects - disagreement is normal. Rework was extremely common due to constant spec changes, and I had to go to bat for my developers numerous times.

It's not a great work environment. Low and mid level people are generally dropped into a project with no background and the client has been told that they're experts on whatever giant, 30-year-old legacy system that the client is running. They fake it and learn on the job. There's often a hostile reception from the client employees - the perception is that you're a highly paid consultant coming to take their job or fire them. Travel is the norm, and you're expected to work long hours since you aren't going home to a family - just a generic hotel room.

Ultimately, what drove me out was the lack of interesting and rewarding work, the internal politics, and the isolation. Wish I had left sooner, but I hadn't figured out what I wanted.

wallflower 1 day ago 3 replies      
I know a few friends who worked for Accenture (back when it was called Andersen Consulting). I always thought the most fascinating thing (aside from the instant credibility of having the company on your resume) was their training program which was designed to take mostly liberal arts majors and teach them C programming (with unknown long-term success but at least enough to not totally drown at a first client engagement). The training program was very intensive and immersive, and I wonder what became of it and if the basic principles of the program could be applied to retraining willing liberal arts graduates.
binarymax 1 day ago 1 reply      
I can vouch for this. I never worked for any of the big 4, but worked with them on many occasions, when I was a consultant with a much smaller firm (<50 employees when I started, >200 when I left).

Consulting really is a great way to learn the ins and outs of business while earning a good salary and getting to travel. Combine it with writing lots of code and its a fantastic real-world education for a multitude of endeavors.

tekp2 1 day ago 1 reply      
Interesting discussion here. A few things spring to mind:

- Consulting training still has an element of programming, but I suspect that will go when Core Analyst School moves to Bangalore later this year. The value is not that those guys will ever code, but to give them a feel for the types of problems that the engineers face.

- Solutions delivery (offshore or on) has pretty much taken development work off the plate of a consulting analyst.

- Consulting recruitment is swinging to favour engineering and technical disciplines more than it has historically.

- This group naturally favours high risk/high reward, deep technical competance, and engineering as a craft. This is antithetical to firms like Accenture that favour low risk (imply your own corrollary), relationships and business knowledge, and engineering as an industry. This is also favoured by our clients, which is why it's a very successful business.

- I've seen some projects in pretty dire straits, and I've seen over-committments. I've also seen some very effective cross-discipline teams dealing very well with difficult client situations. I've met a lot of very impressive people, and I've learnt a great deal from them.

- It's a truism that Accenture wouldn't be there unless there was a difficult business problem that the client felt that they couldn't solve on their own. Sometimes they couldn't have, but more frequently, in my experience, they could have done it themselves if it weren't for a paralysing fear of change.

- Internally, the firm changes org structure most years. This results in a very strong culture of personal network above business organisation. People are astonishingly willing to help someone they've never met, even when they are on the other side of the planet, and there's absolutely nothing in it for themself.

- I've never seen behaviour that I would regard as remotely unethical.

- The comment about NHS is right - Accenture UK took a massive financial hit, which resulted in a promotion freeze, and pay rises of less than inflation that year.

- My feeling at the moment is that Management Consulting will become much more distinct from Technology, which in turn will become more like a "normal" technology company.

Finally, it strikes me as a bit ironic that no one has yet highlighted the similarities between a "classic" Accenture project team and a startup. Both arrogantly believe that they can change things for the better by working very hard, learning a lot as they go and blending a variety of hard and soft skills. Sound familiar?

gaius 1 day ago 1 reply      
but which I saw I could now do with almost all subject areas.

Mmm, but you can't tho'. No-one can. What consultants do is fake expertise, then actually learn it on the time the client is paying for an expert. Not that that isn't a skill mind, but don't confuse it for something it's not.

kitsune_ 1 day ago 3 replies      
My experience (off and on-work) with Accenture was horrible.

A small anecdote (out of many):

I visited a good friend of mine, a true math and programming genius, who was in the middle of his PhD at the ETHZ. An acquaintance of my friend started to tell bullshit stories about his "heroic" job at Accenture. An untalented money whore if I ever saw one. If you know nothing and have the moral integrity of a human trafficker, it looks like you end up in consulting @ Accenture.

Buzzwords. Check. "Play the game or get lost" mantras. Check. "People making less than 100k are lazy bastards". Check. "All companies are rotting from within, our external consulting work is basically a gift of god". Check. Blah blah blah. He got a hard on from riling us up, the "naive idealists" we are.

Get real, son.

brendino 1 day ago 3 replies      
As a current Analyst (1 year out of college now) at Accenture, I have a few points to add:


- Accenture greatly helps develop one's people skills and networking skills which can help prepare you for a startup. Building these skills in college is difficult, so jumping into a professional setting right after college helps.

- The work enables you to understand real-world problems that clients are facing, so you have a better base of ideas upon which you can launch a startup (see http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=2634665)

- In working with enterprise software, you gain an appreciation of how complex (and how messed-up) some of this software can be. Enterprise software is incredibly different from typical software created for the masses in some cases. It is also rarely user-friendly. Compared to consumer software, enterprise software has much less documentation and support available, so you learn to figure things out with missing information.

Negatives (or "Deltas" in Accenture terminology):

- The work is not always interesting and engaging. Since it's consulting, you sometimes have to work on the boring, but necessary things, and to deal with several levels of managers. Furthermore, working for someone else (vs. your own startup) makes inspiration or dedication hard to summon at times.

- Change is slow in enterprise software. Unlike a startup where you can think of a new feature and implement it in a day, it can take months or years to go from inception to roll-out for a new feature or innovation. There are so many stakeholders that must be satisfied, and so much red tape to break. These restricitions can stifle your personal creativity.

- Working hours are inflexible and excessive. Management sets the expectation that you must be in the office and working before the client arrives and long after the client leaves. This leaves little room for work-life balance, which gets very frustrating. On a positive note, however, everyone at Accenture in the consulting workforce (in the US at least) gets five weeks of paid time off per year (on an accrual basis).

Overall, Accenture is helping my professional growth and positioning me to later start my own startup company. It's certainly a worthwhile experience and a useful precursor to entreprenurialism.

patja 22 hours ago 2 replies      
My two favorite quotes about Accenture are:

"Accenture is a great place to be from" <-- not a great place to be at long term, but your learn a lot, you get to see how the enterprise world works, you make connections with other smart people who will help you for the rest of your professional career, and it is great on a resume.

"At Accenture the great employees leave, the weak are fired, and the mediocre become partners"

blueplastic 5 hours ago 1 reply      
I work for Accenture R&D in San Jose, CA. Everything I've read here is very different than my typical work day. We're hiring analysts (entry level) and consultants (experienced hires) to work in our research lab. Both on the Research (typically PhD) and Development (typically BA/MA) sides. Click on my username and you'll find my email if you'd like to apply.

The people I work with are doing things like studying NoSQL databases (Cassandra, Riak, HBASE), MapReduce (Hadoop, Cloud MapReduce), cryptography, biometrics, language/sentiment analysis, data visualizations, cloud computing (Amazon, Rackspace, VMWare) etc. We're not like the typical consulting arm of Accenture. We're also not like a typical theory focused research lab.

We're a fun bunch. Recent company sponsored trips have included sailing the bay, indoor skydiving at iFly, snowboarding in Tahoe, white water rafting, wine tasting, hiking, a vegas trip and behind the scenes tour of the SF Giants stadium. We're also known to throw some pretty wicked happy hours.

americandesi333 20 hours ago 0 replies      
This post really hits home for me. I have friends in consulting and I join a small tech company in bay area instead. I cannot believe when I hear about their experiences with consulting and how miserable they are in their jobs.

The struggle with consulting is that you never get to 'own' any decisions. There is not much accountability between conception, design and implementation. From my experience with big three consulting firms, they are brought in by execs to either 'validate' a path that was already determined or to get contract work done for short-term. In both cases, there is very little impact you can have on the overall business.

In my experience, if you want to be a good entrepreneur, get a job where you can own decisions and implementation. You will make mistakes, but you will learn from them and can implement those learnings in your startup.

jlees 10 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm glad you wrote this, Daniel! I applied to Accenture three times, in my final year of undergrad, a year after graduating and then again when I was doing my Master's. I only got to the final stage of interviews once, and apparently cocked it up simply because I didn't exhibit my listening skills (despite, as I was coached, being the whiteboard monkey in the group exercise).

I was devastated - I had felt challenged by the recruitment process and was excited at the prospect of working there. Somehow now I feel a little better about taking a different path in life. :)

bengl3rt 23 hours ago 1 reply      
I've looked into consulting as a potential career, not with a behemoth like Accenture, but with smaller more specialized boutique shops (Art & Logic) or mid-size ones (Thoughtworks).

All I really want is a wide array of domain experience in different verticals, and travel to lots of different places.
However, everyone I've interacted with has painted the services business as a cruel and hierarchical (and underpaid) place.

That coupled with the fact that they seem to be so disorganized they never even get back to you has left me pretty discouraged about the space.

punchfire 1 day ago 0 replies      
ok so this is in Asia, i can't say how we operate in the bigger offices: i feel that Accenture's one of the few companies that can provide you with maximum exposure and experience in the shortest amount of time...there are ups and downs but on the whole if you work well, you'll see great results...
dartland 1 day ago 0 replies      
Great post! I came from consulting into start-up world also (although I'm non-technical) and while you definitely have to re-learn many things to adjust to building a company, there are many many valuable lessons from working in that environment that entrepreneurs are all too quick to dismiss.

But the bottom line of your post is definitely the right summary: Do what feels right when it feels right, and you'll be fine. You can't lose when you're choosing between multiple interesting options. And as soon as your current path becomes uninteresting, look elsewhere.

Thanks for posting.

44Aman 1 day ago 2 replies      
"The height of absurdity was reached, I believe, when I was asked to prepare the proposal for the preparation of a plan to produce a proof of concept for a module of a tool the client was implementing."

Wow, that sounds pretty inane.

sfard 17 hours ago 2 replies      
Seriously, since when is Accenture considered Prestigious? It's not even a top consulting shop.


rs3123 1 day ago 3 replies      
Interesting post. What was that bit about the three heads?
peachananr 1 day ago 0 replies      
Mac OS X Lion: Coming In July For $29 techcrunch.com
204 points by sandipc  3 days ago   200 comments top 28
callahad 3 days ago 3 replies      
Hallelujah! "OS X Lion [Terminal] includes editable ANSI colors in preferences and support for 256 colors and BCE (background color erase). The default TERM value is xterm-256color."

Cite: http://www.apple.com/macosx/whats-new/features.html#unix

recoiledsnake 3 days ago  replies      
Not sure why below comment is dead. The account seems ok and not hell banned. Was it flagged to death? If so, anyone who flagged it,why?

dsplittgerber 24 minutes ago | link [dead]

Anyone else surprised by how many hugely popular apps Apple is going to kill with new Lion/iOS? Instapaper built-into Safari now, all kinds of messanger apps killed by iMessage, some of those photo apps going down the drain as well, Reminders app is a huge one as well. All targeting really popular app categories.

Sure, some people care about thing X being done supremely well and will still pay for some apps. But the huge majority will probably be really fine with Apples version.

mortenjorck 3 days ago 5 replies      
This App Store-only distribution has me concerned about small business upgrades.

Let's say I have an office with 10 workstations. How do I upgrade? Do I have to create an iTunes account for each computer, and enter a company credit card number on each one? Can multiple iTunes accounts even share the same credit card number?

Perhaps I could get by with two accounts, since iTunes allows sharing on up to five Macs. But that's still far from an elegant solution, and it doesn't scale any better. And what about users who already have their workstations activated with their home iTunes accounts?

recoiledsnake 3 days ago 4 replies      
>This isn't actually the first time Apple has offered an OS upgrade at a steep discount compared to its Windows rival (which typically runs over $100) " Snow Leopard made its debut at $29.

A pretty flawed apples to oranges comparison. OS X is more similar to bios updates... you buy the hardware, the vendor makes money off it and gives away the software. With Microsoft, you're paying the OEM money for the hardware(with razor thin margins usually but that's another story), so Microsoft doesn't make bank on expensive hardware and upgrades to RAM/HDD/CPU that Apple makes.

Edit: Not to mention that 10.5 to 10.7 is not upgradeable, you have to buy and install 10.6 first, install the App Store and then install 10.7. Windows 7 may not be upgradeable directly from XP without a format, but atleast you don't have to but and upgrade to Vista first!

tvon 3 days ago 0 replies      
dsplittgerber seems to have a valid point, though one that is understood by anyone who has followed Apple for long. Still, unsure why the comment is [dead].


To respond, Apple has never had a problem re-implementing a 3rd party app and integrating it into the system, Dashboard is a classic example of this. It's a bit hostile towards 3rd party developers, but generally good for users (at least that's the argument).

thomasgerbe 3 days ago 2 replies      
Great news.

Now if only they just did away with the optical drives on MBP's. I have used mine about... twice in three years since owning my current laptop.

mark_l_watson 3 days ago 3 replies      
The download only distribution will be a nuisance for 64G SSD MacBook Airs like my wife's laptop. She often only has 5 or 10 GB of free disk space.
furyg3 3 days ago 10 replies      
Hmm... so what happens if my hard drive crashes and I replace it myself?
follower 3 days ago 2 replies      
4GB isn't insignificant in countries with bandwidth caps.
vault_ 3 days ago 0 replies      
There's a complete list of new features here: http://www.apple.com/macosx/whats-new/features.html

To address the concerns of re-installation, they're including a partition with the system install disk on it (which can get to Time Machine or whatever else you need).

rythie 3 days ago 1 reply      
Title is misleading, $29.99 to zero decimal places is $30 not $29.
wildmXranat 3 days ago 0 replies      
Will they offer a usb stick option for $29 ?
koenigdavidmj 3 days ago 1 reply      
I wonder how much of a wrench in the works that will be for Hackintosh people.
frou_dh 3 days ago 1 reply      
If Lion supports TRIM for all SSDs, I want to zap my Intel drive and do a fresh install so that there are no mystery regions on the drive.

I hope a normal DVD will be available on the quiet.

Newky 3 days ago 2 replies      
I don't mean to be off topic, but I really feel, although this is an improvement on the price of Windows upgrade, I think that there is nothing in this release that would drive me off any Linux, particularly a rolling release distribution.

I know that for certain fields, such as multimedia, apple offers a lot, but with new offerings such as Gnome 3, a mature KDE 4, and Ubuntu's unity, for the standard desktop user or developer for that matter, I argue that Linux should enthrall and for one of the first times the difference in price tag isn't the only plus. Stability, Safety and polish are quickly becoming relevant keywords for Linux desktops.

Although the new Unity and Gnome Shell may lack the stability, you can always fall back on the watertight Gnome default desktop.

ary 3 days ago 1 reply      
After all the talk about delta updates in the keynote I had hoped that Time Machine would be doing file deltas now. A read through the Lion features page doesn't turn anything up. Anyone know?
Groxx 3 days ago 1 reply      
>Resize from any edge

You can now resize a window from any side or corner.

Interesting that they did finally do this. And without adding huge-ass borders to everything...

config_yml 3 days ago 2 replies      
It's only available through the Mac App Store. So how can people upgrade from 10.5 without going the extra step to 10.6, which is required for the app store?
ojilles 3 days ago 0 replies      
"Auto setup for Gmail and Yahoo! in Mail[.app]

When you first log in to your Google, Yahoo!, or AOL accounts in Safari, you'll have the option to use them with Mail, iCal, Address Book, iChat, and other applications on your Mac."

Thats pretty smart to keep Mail.app relevant in the web age! (I hope it handles "guest" logins on the web gracefully though!)

jevinskie 3 days ago 3 replies      
It will be interesting to see how the OS installs over itself now that it is being distributed through the app store. I wonder if they will create a new partition with the installer and reboot into it.
MatthewPhillips 3 days ago 1 reply      
Really wish this was coming out sooner. I plan on getting the Samsung Chromebook on the 16th, which will be my primary "fun" computer. I'll keep my Macbook for development, but I'm not sure I'll use it in the way that these consumer features are meant for. If it was coming on now I'd go ahead and get it just to play around with. Now I don't know.
eapen 2 days ago 0 replies      
While they are at it, I am surprised Apple didn't integrate LaunchBar/QuickSilver/Alfred functionality into Lion (and take those guys out). It would go really well with the full screen apps.
dongsheng 3 days ago 1 reply      
Oh come on apple now we have to do everything through your stores?
toomanymike 3 days ago 1 reply      
Curious for one of my favorite apps, can anyone comment on BetterTouchTool (http://www.boastr.de/) quality on the new build?
iramiller 3 days ago 1 reply      
Has anyone seen references to how the server tools will be distributed? The rumor mill had indicated that there would be a mac app store version but I have not seen a confirmation on if these pieces are in the regular 10.7 upgrade or not.

The server edition of 10.6 was $500 and distinct from the $29 regular edition so I am expecting a separate paid download to be required...

blinkingled 3 days ago 0 replies      
Finally high res larger cursor that is crisp.

The other updates/features are looking solid too. Well worth the $29.99.

enterneo 3 days ago 3 replies      
any news on whether it is for 64-bit processors ONLY? my core-solo mac mini wants to know :-S
jrockway 3 days ago 0 replies      
I love the Apple hype cycle: an incremental OS update for $29, and it's one of the most-commented HN articles of the day.

I get an incremental OS update every day for free. It's called apt-get. After you've done it every day for nearly 15 years, it gets a little old...

What's next, a central Mac software repository? (Oh yeah, "the Mac app store". Innovation!)

Why we are unlikely to ever leave the solar system. antipope.org
204 points by shalmanese  13 hours ago   129 comments top 37
cletus 12 hours ago  replies      
That's a good, grounded assessment of the scale of the problem. I too believe that the human colonization of space, even near-space (ie within the orbit of the Moon) is a long way off. The energy costs are simply too high and resources too cheap on the Earth to make it viable (in spite of typical SF fodder of asteroid mining).

This is a problem because with 6.5 billion people we're using up resources. Fast.

Anyway, I see two potential solutions to this problem: one not-so-far-fetched and one incredibly far-fetched.

The not-so-far-fetched version is... hitch-hiking. Our understanding of the Universe is that it is full of mass wandering between stars. IIRC recently a planet-sized body was detected traveling between the stars.

Simple probability dictates that it is only a matter of time before a sufficiently large body travels through the Solar System with sufficient velocity (including direction) to reach somewhere else in sufficient time (but not too fast that we can't perform an orbital intercept) that we can essentially build a colony on it.

The far-fetched version is to use back holes as power sources [1] as this is, as far as I've read anyway, the only remotely viable method of providing propulsion without reaction mass to speak of and reaction mass is the death of any form of interstellar propulsion.

The answer to the Fermi Paradox [2] may simply be that it's too hard to leave our comfortable gravity wells and most (all?) civilizations simply run out of stuff before they get there.

I've also given the thought to "footprints". If you think about, say, a primitive tribesman. What do they need to survive in a sustainable fashion? They need a sufficient sized population (measured in the hundreds or low thousands) to avoid inbreeding and sufficient land area to provide a food source. This is probably measured in the tens or hundreds of square miles.

Imagine all they need as the footprint of a sustainable colony as that then dictates the minimum size of any spaceship.

Now imagine a more advanced society. 1000 modern humans would need an ENORMOUS footprint. Just think about computer chips. On any long voyage they'd break down so you need to be able to make new ones. That means a sufficient lab, technology, materials (or, in reality, the means to get more materials), all that knowledge and so on. Plus the size of the population goes up given required specializations.

This of course assumes that people would do all of these things instead of, say, an AI of some kind (which would actually solve a lot of problems).

That footprint is currently way too large to build any kind of interstellar vessel (IMHO). One of the trends I see in coming centuries is that footprint will reach a point of reducing in size. By 2100 I expect we'll be able to keep the sum of all human knowledge (or a close enough approximation) on an essentially mobile device. Advanced manufacturing techniques and materials may solve many of the footprint problems and so on.

As the footprint goes down, the viability of any isolated colony being able to survive increases.

The hitchhiking idea would also be ideal for the survival of humanity overall. With sufficient isolation, there will be cultural and genetic drift. If we're able to influence each other, that's a recipe for conflict. But a large mass passing through the Solar System is very likely a one-way ticket. There's no way to follow and no way to return (barring astronomically small odds of a repeat or inverse body).

[1]: http://arxiv.org/pdf/0908.1803v1

[2]: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fermi_paradox

DennisP 9 minutes ago 0 replies      
"Ever" is a pretty strong word, and I think he's going to look pretty silly in a century or so. For example, here's an estimate of travel costs with boron fusion rockets:

If either Bussard's polywell fusion or focus fusion turn out to work, that'll be achievable within a couple decades. As Moore's Law continues and we get better at simulating plasma, it's not that unlikely that some form of fusion will work out.

There are a lot of possibilities for non-rocket launch, including various space-elevator-like schemes, laser launch, and mass drivers. Even without fusion, thorium fission could provide plenty of power.

It'd be pretty expensive and slow to travel to another star with fusion...but eventually, with large solar panels in close orbit around the sun, we'll have an awful lot of energy to play with, and just maybe we'll figure out efficient laser or microwave power transmission sometime in the next thousand years.

On the other hand, maybe we'll just colonize the Oort Cloud and gradually migrate to other stars over the next million years or so without really trying.

(And, not that I'm holding my breath for this one, but if Woodward's right about the Mach effect we'll get to other stars pretty quickly.)

As for the reasons...the resources of the solar system are millions of times what's available on Earth. Once launch is cheap it'll be a no-brainer to start mining the asteroids.

mmaunder 10 hours ago 1 reply      
I dislike the word "never". As individuals and as a species we are addicted to short term gratification measured in years or decades. We also have a narrow view of the concept of "self" and what constitutes consciousness and experience.

If we could stand building for the future and experiencing by proxy, a few more options become available:

e.g. We could transport a set of human "blanks" or a "blank" creating machine to a distant star at 10% of c. It would take a few hundred years. When it arrives and deploys, we upload our consciousness at the speed of light with no acceleration and deceleration into a "blank" human.

Copies of ourselves could be regularly transported to and from a distant star over a few decades.

A few technological breakthroughs would be required to make this a reality:

* True Artificial Intelligence. A machine that is capable of self-awareness and analysis.

* A complete understanding of the human brain and how to replicate the organism and it's contents.

* A complete understanding of the human body, the life support mechanism for the brain - and how to duplicate it.

* How to turn nuclear fission or fusion into propulsion at a high level of efficiency.

* How to build factories that can stay dormant for a thousand years, wake up and operate as well as the day they were built. This probably will be solved as a result of AI and the ability to create self-repairing and self-improving machines.

Many of these problems are in the CS and Biotech fields. That's what we do. Now get to work!

benwr 12 hours ago 4 replies      
"The future extinction of the human species cannot affect you if you are already dead": I thought one of the implications of evolution was that we have a vested interest in protecting our genes, rather than acting solely on individual-level self-interest.

Edit: What on earth would cause you to downvote this?

Edit2: Thanks. I would still appreciate a comment if I'm 'doing it wrong.'

guelo 10 hours ago 1 reply      
As impossible as the physics seems I think the social problems are bigger. Scientists are currently unable to convince people to act against the potential catastrophe of global warming. Humans are too stupid to organize a planet wide self preservation effort that requires any significant amount of resources. I think the more likely scenario for humanity over the next 10 thousand years is several cycles of civilization and population collapses with a constant degradation of the environment and fewer and fewer available resources. This century might be the zenith of human achievement. It might take a smarter species a few million years from now to escape this rock.
Groxx 6 hours ago 1 reply      
>Try to get a handle on this: it takes us 2-5 years to travel two inches [in their relative scale - e.g., Voyager probes]

What? No it doesn't. We can do massively better than this, right now. As in, today's technology. No problem.

Why haven't we? It's frickin' expensive.

But the long-range probes we've launched have been pretty damn near coasting their entire trip, with a few course corrections. They were pushed, and now they float until they gain sentience and come back to say "hi". If they had a huge-ass rocket attached to them, such as would likely be on anything interested in going any distance at any kind of speed (ie, human-carrying ships), they'd get where they're going a lot faster.

Next up, to get to proxmia centauri in 42 years with some hand-waving to make things simpler and 100% efficient energy usage:

>To put this figure in perspective, the total conversion of one kilogram of mass into energy yields 9 x 1016 Joules. (Which one of my sources informs me, is about equivalent to 21.6 megatons in thermonuclear explosive yield). So we require the equivalent energy output to 400 megatons of nuclear armageddon ...

Where did 400 megatons come from, if it's equivalent to 21.6? And if 400 is "the same as the yield of the entire US Minuteman III ICBM force", I say that's a miniscule amount of energy, especially once it's divided by 20. Crank it up another 10-fold beyond 400, and we're still talking modern-day terrestrial-level achievable energy without breaking a sweat.

>So it would take our total planetary electricity production for a period of half a million seconds " roughly 5 days " to supply the necessary va-va-voom.

Not bad, really. We're pretty inefficient right now. Make it cost a few times that - we'll be producing that in a week before we can even get a lame v0.1 ship built and in trials.


All in all, an interesting read. But it feels more like a half-accurate rant. We're waving magic wands to get 100% efficiency and 2000kg, but we're not waving magic wands to get away from conventional rockets and today's energy production levels?

I'm entirely on their side that our tech today can't get us to the stars. Totally. I agree, the energy needed is quite literally astronomical, and we're not even close to it. But we keep finding weird things with our science - I'm not writing it off entirely. And I don't see why people seem to imply that we must leave from Earth - why not mine the asteroid belt to provide the fuel at our leisure, and build a truly massive ship? We're not going to aim for the stars on our first go, we'll be living in space for a long time before then.

saulrh 11 hours ago 1 reply      
I agree with this pretty well, in that it's likely that flesh-and-blood humans will never physically travel to other planets en masse without some fundamental discoveries in physics. You'll note, though, that he explicitly disregards both starwisps and strong AI, and there's a reason for that: putting human-descended AI out into the universe is a much, much more feasible endeavor, and one that I personally believe we'll eventually accomplish.
redthrowaway 9 hours ago 3 replies      
He's already allowed for nanofactories and artificial wombs, so why send humans at all? Send frozen sperm and eggs and have the robots make the people once they get there. Now, all of a sudden, the length of the journey doesn't matter. Fling probes off willy-nilly at nearby and distant stars. If they get there, great. If not, you've only lost cash.

Edit: The cool thing about this is that, assuming these technologies come to fruition, the entire project could likely be financed privately by a group of wealthy backers. You wouldn't need the massive bureaucracy of NASA or their dependency on Congress. You'd simply develop, test, then manufacture the (likely quite small) probes, then send them up and out on commercial rockets.

forgottenpaswrd 3 hours ago 2 replies      
Oh, the ego, what a marvelous thing!

Believing that what we currently know is applicable to humans in the future, that our current limits are immutable.

We know all the laws of physics, right? We know if the universe is finite or infinite(because we had traveled there and seen the limits), we know what creates gravity and exactly how electromagnetic attraction really works... the same way the people Socrates asked 2500 years ago knew it all, and Socrates himself did not knew anything(in his own words).

The same way people already knew everything about the small things before microscope invention(in their own words it was unnecessary because "why we want to see what we already know smaller?").

That someone develops better ways to control active fission(atom by atom) and fusion reactions, that someone discovers something new about the universe,that someone discovers how to create antigravity because understands what gravity really is, that someone discover the way to crack the code on aging on our DNA, that someone discovers why the light limit on vacuum is what it is and some way of going faster, all of this impossible, because we know it all.

weavejester 2 hours ago 0 replies      
Given that several Stross novels deal with uploaded intelligence, I was surprised that no mention of this was made. In Accelerando, for instance, his characters travel three light years in a coke-can sized spaceship powered by a laser stationed around Jupiter.

It seems unlikely at best that we'll ever attempt interstellar travel in our current organic bodies. The idea of taking along an atmosphere, food, water, and enough space to move around just seems ridiculous when you could stuff a human consciousness into a volume that, at worst, is the size of a melon, and at best considerably smaller. You'd also be able to add error correcting and redundancy to make the ship robust from radiation damage.

I suspect that any future spaceship will consist of perhaps 100 tons of computer and memory, designed with considerable redundancy and error correction. Perhaps 200,000 tons of shielding/fuel will be required, sufficient to protect the core computers and memory from interstellar particles, but also from the radiation from the ship's drive. Finally, you'd have a 1 million ton black hole sitting at the tail end of the ship, sufficiently large not to explode, but sufficiently small to have hardly any gravity. This would be fed by taking matter from the shielding to keep the black hole stable.

For further redundancy the ships might travel in small fleets, each acting as a backup store for each of the others. If one ship gets taken out by a stray piece of matter, at least you'd have a few more containing the same colonists.

RomP 9 hours ago 1 reply      
A little over 100 years ago the humanity just learned how to overfly one football field.

In space, today, we're in pre-aviation days: we're still using hot air balloons for transportation. We make them lighter than air (i.e. shoot them up in space) and let the wind (i.e gravity) to carry them places.

Imagine the most educated human 120 years ago is being told about planes heavier than air, air transportation over oceans, jet-powered planes, autopilots and fly-by-wire, not to mention people on the moon. He would say it's impossible, due to energy constraints. Today a daily JFK-NRT flight uses more energy than all the horses which lived two centuries ago would be able to produce in their lifetimes, combined (my math may be off by one order of magnitude: it's late here). Today we're this person. Educated enough to have valid arguments against it, but utterly incorrect.

rbanffy 2 hours ago 0 replies      
In the 20th century we went from thinking that heavier-than-air flight was impossible to it being a major economic activity and the dominant form of medium-distance travel. We went from conventional explosives to nuclear explosives. We landed people on the Moon. We went from dying of dental caries to antibiotics and (very limited) genetic therapies.

In one short century we published more books and amassed more knowledge than all centuries past. Together. And we built the tools to search it and process it into meaning.

Traveling to another star is a formidable problem and doing it Newton style is not impractical. But if the past century teaches us something, we are a species prone to invent magic wands.

Besides that, we all know how futile is to try to predict the future. We can only see and express it in our own terms. The future is as alien to us as Twitter would be to my grandmother (who would be turning a century if she were alive).

suprgeek 3 hours ago 1 reply      
It comes down to which side of the human spirit you are betting on. Do you think that no matter how hard and how smart we try in the next 200-300 years we will never overcome some of the fundamental challenges of space and time? Then yes, what Stross says would make sense.

Personally I am an optimist on these things - in 1711 you could not have imagined regular Aircraft - something we take for granted today much less Spacecrafts. Electricity, Computers, Cell-phones, Internet, etc would have been inconceivable.
Today we have been to the moon ~40 years ago. Villagers in India use cellphones and electricity and a fifth of humanity is interconnected via the net.

So I have to believe that by 2311 we will have cracked the problems around Interstellar travel and be living around a different Sun than our Sol.

Anything else is just underestimating the Human Spirit.

nostromo 11 hours ago 0 replies      
I agree that humans will likely never leave the solar system. However, I think it's very possible -- even likely -- that human intelligence will.

One interesting thing about sending some future human AI into space is that it could in theory 'power down' higher functions for hundreds or thousands of years as it travels to its destination. Upon reawakening, it would be in a new star system, with the cumulation of human knowledge in memory and enough tech to reproduce and start anew.

jacques_chester 11 hours ago 0 replies      
There's two levels of magic wand here.

The first is some breakthrough in physics that makes interstellar travel feasible. Not likely, but a staple of sci-fi.

The second is a series of improvements in nanotechnology making interplanetary colonies feasible (though less necessary).

And the looming confounding factor is that a "singularity" event might make all of this moot.

chmike 2 hours ago 0 replies      
I had the same conclusion initially and called it the horizont of space reachability principle. There is a limit to the travel distance defined by the energy consumption. Reducing the energy consumption to the minimum would allow to extend this horizont limit. Pushing this reasonning to its limit I noticed that we have plenty of examples on earth of live forms able to extend this limit to infinity by mean of seeds or spores form. In such form the organism is totally passive and consumes no energy. It has a trigger which induces reactivation of life and development that may be activated by external energy and appropriate condition.

So it is possible for a life form, human or extraterrestrial, to build such a civilization seed which contains enough energy reserve and machinery to sustain life activity restoration and live form rebirth. Throw such civilization seed vessel like a bullet toward a distant solar system so that the energy of the target can be used to trigger start of development and we have our space travel capacity.

This is not how we'd naturally imagine interstellar travel, but the important point is that this proves that it is possible without relying on exotic or hazardous hypothesis. We should also keep in mind that there is still the possibility to tap into the dark matter as source of energy. While this is still very uncertain, it should be known and well accepted By now that interstellar travel and space colonization is possible.

I would like to add to this that if human life is a result of a natural process, there is a very high likelyhood that we are not alone in the univers and that other entities are likely to have started colonization already a long time ago. As we can see from earth civilization history a key factor to perserve its liberty and life autodetermination is the mastering of science and technology, intelligence and defense capacity. While there is still a need to protect ourselves from oher humans, in which we spend and waste a lot of ressource, the clock is ticking, and other civilizations may be developping much faster and efficiently than humans. It is no hard to see what it all implies.

tluyben2 3 hours ago 0 replies      
I too believe we will (unfortunately) never leave the solar system. But for a quite different reason; consumerism. People are much more interested in stuffing burgers into their faces, living comfortably to a very old age while living unhealthy, buying tons of inane crap which they will never use. Downloading ringtones, spending 99% of their working day glued to Facebook, not cooking but ordering in every single day. Having a nicer car and house than the neighbors and getting their education while preferably not spending more than a month a year with their noses in books.

The smart/educated few are not enough to offset the masses and for the masses it's simply not 'comfortable' to work on space travel; why would you, you already have a pool? Maybe poorer countries where people are not comfortable could be of use? Nah; you see around the world; when GDP gets over a certain level, out come the gadgets, mobile phones, ringtones, bentleys and other useless crap.

A very small (fractional) % of humans is busy with the problem of energy and space travel. If it would be a few actual %s of humanity we might stand a chance, unfortunately, the rest of the collective brainpower is spent arguing if the latest X Factor was won fairly.

I don't think we'll ever meet aliens either; after a certain time in the evolution, every race of 'intelligent' beings will invent paid ringtones, after that all chances of interstellar travel are gone.

chaostheory 9 hours ago 0 replies      
“Those who say it can't be done are usually interrupted by others doing it.”

James Arthur Baldwin

That being said, I don't disagree with most of the post.

rsheridan6 2 hours ago 0 replies      
The problem with this analysis is that it assumes people will only do things that make economic sense, and only if it will benefit themselves or their descendants in a short time frame. In fact, we've done all sorts of useless, expensive things "because it's there," and we spend money on things like radiation shielding for nuclear waste that will last thousands of years.

Granted, space colonization would be much more expensive than any very long-term or symbolic project we do now, but it's not out of the question that future societies would be more inclined to do stuff like that than 21st century anglophones. If so, none of Stross's barriers are necessarily deal-breakers.

For example, I don't think Hitler would have spared any expense to seed another world with Aryans, regardless of whether it made any economic sense (since when do humans only do things that make sense?), and the 420 year time frame wouldn't seem like much to a man who thought he founded a 1000 year Reich.

VB6_Foreverr 8 hours ago 0 replies      
I was watching a documentary about the wright brothers recently and right up until they actually did it many bright people doubted it would ever be possible to have powered human flight.

Like it always has, something will come along that will change everything.

rsaarelm 9 hours ago 0 replies      
The stirred-up crazy in the comment thread there is almost more interesting than the post itself. I never realized how religion-like this stuff has ended up being for a lot of people before seeing that.
scott_s 11 hours ago 0 replies      
I reach for this whenever someone mentions the inevitability of humans colonizing other planets - which I did earlier today. Nice to see others thinking it's worth highlighting.
shin_lao 8 hours ago 0 replies      
I can't spot any flaw in the reasoning.

But one could sum up the essay as such:

"A man from the XXIst century said it it's impossible to leave the solar system"

Perhaps we should wait for what the man of the XXIInd century might have to say?

We'll need a couple of magic wands, but we've already built a lot of them.

Remember that in the early XXth century going into space was still science fiction.

liquids 10 hours ago 0 replies      
While the author makes a good point about how humans will never leave the solar system, there are a few possibilities to continue human legacy. Ethics aside, sending seeded capsules to a habitable exoplanet could one day (millions of years) evolve into an intelligent species. Although not human, a DNA signature or some other artifact could be engineered to validate it as a human colonization.

Additionally you could explore the possibilities of fleets of nano sized probes, which over the course of thousands of years, confirm the habitality of an exoplanet, and build a crude nursery for sperm (which could be sent at a later date). This method makes the energy/momentum problems slightly less impossible.

mikk0j 7 hours ago 3 replies      
This one is gold:

"As Bruce Sterling has put it: "I'll believe in people settling Mars at about the same time I see people settling the Gobi Desert. The Gobi Desert is about a thousand times as hospitable as Mars and five hundred times cheaper and easier to reach. Nobody ever writes "Gobi Desert Opera" because, well, it's just kind of plonkingly obvious that there's no good reason to go there and live."

hackermom 4 hours ago 0 replies      
There's one great flaw in this article: the gross underestimation of man's potential, drive and constant progress.
pers3us 11 hours ago 1 reply      
I guess i have heard this kind of argument before. In the movie book "Around the world in 80 days". Its not possible or you can't do travel all around the globe in 80 days. Still someone did it, sooner or later someone will do it, and see it takes us nearly 24 hours to make a complete rotation around the earth. Some day we will even reach to Proxima Cetauri.
Joakal 6 hours ago 0 replies      
Interestingly, a non-profit [charity] foundation is dedicated to interstellar travel: http://www.tauzero.aero/

Brief article summary: https://secure.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/wiki/Breakthrough_...

thematt 11 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm actually okay with humans never leaving the solar system. Our robotics and technology is advancing at a fast enough pace to satisfy my curiosity about what's out there. Look at the amazing stuff we've gotten back from a couple of Mars rovers, without ever having set foot on the surface. Let's just send robots out. It's much cheaper, comparatively easier...and can certainly be done much sooner.
wolfrom 11 hours ago 1 reply      
I agree with the notion that no human society will purposely invest money in a trek to another solar system, but I strongly disagree with the notion that humanity is stuck in this solar system for eternity.

There seem to be two common misconceptions about the colonization of space:

1. People will colonize other planets. The notion that future generations will desire to burrow into other planets is as strange as expecting people to build a new city by digging caves in a cliff wall. Just as we now build apartment blocks and ranch houses, we will someday build custom habitats that aren't continually ravaged by earthquakes, tornados and spring floods.

2. Reaching the next solar system will be momentous. People will populate neighbouring solar systems just as our ancestors moved from Africa to other parts of the world... gradually from one generation to the next, each one drifting a little further into the Oort. One day a habitat that has its own artificial star within will move from the most recent piece of raw material to the next, not realizing that the one orbits our distant sun while the other orbits another star entirely.

Barring catastrophe at home, this future is likely. It's just the same story that's been happening since Lucy's family left the Great Rift Valley.

syncopated 11 hours ago 2 replies      
"That's the same as the yield of the entire US Minuteman III ICBM force."

So you're saying there's a chance!

yaix 7 hours ago 0 replies      
I remember an article here on HN a few days ago about the storage of antimatter for about half an hour.

In a few decades from now, the energy necessary for such a long distance space flight could come from half a ton of anti-hydrogen.

civilian 6 hours ago 0 replies      
The Lifeboat Foundation, http://lifeboat.com/ex/main is relevant. They're a (religious?) organization promoting humanity's colonization beyond Earth.
apedley 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Quantum entanglement, zero point energy, just to name a few things. While I agree these technologies might not be viable for a while, saying we are never going to leave the solar system is fairly short sighted. We always find a way :)
hsmyers 12 hours ago 3 replies      
What was that limit on data transmission via copper again? 300baud? Or was it 1400? Nice the way science always ends for idiots like this...
Steko 12 hours ago 0 replies      
Spoilers: his reasoning does not involve Vogons.
nazgulnarsil 11 hours ago 0 replies      
don't care. give me a thorium reactor and a holodeck and I'll explore the universe from the safety of cave a mile beneath the earth's surface.

alternatively upload me and I'll put myself in a more suitable interstellar body.

Show HN: Log.io (Realtime log monitoring, powered by node.js + socket.io) logio.org
203 points by msmathers  4 days ago   53 comments top 19
viraptor 4 days ago 1 reply      
> Log.io has no persistence layer. Harvesters are informed of file changes via inotify, and log messages hop from harvester to server to web client via socket.io.

This struck me as really odd. Why is it done that way? Most stuff is logged via syslog. Those things are already in the buffer and it seems the local nodes are doubling the seek+read of what was just written. Downsides:

- double disk action for every log line

- inotify overhead for the system

- logging requires local disk space

- disk io delays mean collection delays

- when disk get full / fail on write you don't collect the message about the failure if one was attempted to be written

- when syslog daemon decides that messages are coming in too fast, it might drop them from the for_the_disk buffers - this way the only copy was lost (not 100% sure, but I believe syslog-ng can send to one destination even if another is blocked)

I really can't see positive sides of this approach. Logstash seems to handle everything log.io does and much more... am I missing something?

joshklein 4 days ago 0 replies      
I know very little about system administration, but the comment I want to add to this conversation is: wow, this is a tremendously good product website.

1. Show the glamour shot (even just a screen shot of text makes it compelling).
2. Quickly explain the problem you're solving.
3. Quickly explain how you solve the problem.
4. List the most compelling RTBs ("reasons to believe")

Just a heads up: it wasn't immediately clear that I could click on the screenshot for a demo. I'd make that a huge call-to-action. The product can sell itself.

xal 4 days ago 1 reply      
Also realize that if you are connected over websockets all data will be transferred unencrypted even if you put log.io behind https. A much better fit for these cases is SSE which works fine over https:


alex1 4 days ago 1 reply      
It's cool to see log files streamed in real time to your browser but most of the time it scrolls too fast to get any useful information out of it (unless you use regex filters of course). It would be cool to have graphs that show, say, browser usage (or IP geolocation or operating system or page visited or any other metric that can be gathered from log files), being updated in real time.
panarky 4 days ago 1 reply      
I like this, and I'd use it in my projects if I knew it was reliable.

I've seen socket.io drop messages and I wonder if it's happening here.

Open both Chrome and Firefox at the same time and watch logio_server in each browser. After several minutes I start seeing different messages in each browser. Is socket.io not delivering every message to each socket?

tedjdziuba 4 days ago 2 replies      
Cool, you just reinvented syslog, poorly.
skrebbel 4 days ago 0 replies      
Oh man, and I just coded essentially the same (with persistence through, for we need history) with CouchDB over the last 2 months. If only you'd have launched a bit sooner!

ps. Maybe it's me, but 2 hours ago your site worked great in Opera, and now the design seems broken. If you changed some CSS, then that might be it :)

ericflo 4 days ago 0 replies      
I built something similar a while back during the Django Dash, but there's no server software to install because it just uses ssh and tail: https://github.com/ericflo/servertail

This looks more polished and complete though from a user interface perspective, nice job!

franze 4 days ago 0 replies      
very, very cool.

node.js is also my (current) tool of choice for real time logfile analysis, i use a slightly different approach.

i ssh funnel the logfiles to my machine i.e.:

   ssh server.example.com sudo tail -f /var/log/nginx/example.com_access.log > test.log

then use this (disclaimer: coded it during a hackweek) lib
to attach events to the logfile

   nolog('./test.log').shoutIf('googlebot', /Googlebot/i ).on('googlebot', function(data) { ... });

basically you

   - watch a logfile
- shoutIf you come across a given pattern (can be regex or function)
- listen if a shout event occurs

i will definitly look into log.io and see if there is a way to plug nolog somewhere in there.

an important addition to log.io would be log servers in php, asp(x) and all the other legacy languages. my experience is that webservices that allow and/or use modern development approches already have a suitable logfile observation, but all the millions of sites stuck with yesteryear really struggle with it.

sciurus 3 days ago 0 replies      
This looks similar to logstash, which has been on my tools to try list for a while.

"logstash is a tool for managing events and logs. You can use it to collect logs, parse them, and store them for later use (like, for searching). Speaking of searching, logstash comes with a web interface for searching and drilling into all of your logs. It is fully free and fully open source."


ianl 4 days ago 0 replies      
This is really cool; very impressed!
mmaunder 4 days ago 1 reply      
ssh user@server tail -f logfile

It's even encrypted.

marcamillion 4 days ago 0 replies      
This would be awesome as a plugin/add-on for Heroku - if that's not already in the works.
coenhyde 4 days ago 1 reply      
You know what would be cool. Write your own npm that does logging which would open up a socket connection to your server bypassing sending logs to disk and being watched by inotify.
robinduckett 4 days ago 0 replies      
Cool, but doesn't run on CentOS. Init files are coded exclusively for Debian, and I don't have time to convert them.
oomkiller 4 days ago 1 reply      
Couldn't get it to start in Ubuntu (couldn't find module "connect", totally unsupported on Centos.
prule 4 days ago 0 replies      
vsConsole is a similar application that solves the same problem, but based on java technologies.

* Java Agents run on the servers
* vsConsole is a web application that runs on Tomcat

Use a browser to select the desired log file, and you can tail it. (When the browser polls the web app, the web app will contact the agent for the latest changes to the file).

View the demo at:

* http://demo.vamonossoftware.com/vsconsole/file/index#1:DEV:8...

More information at
* http://demo.vamonossoftware.com/

vsConsole is aimed at development teams, not as a production log monitor. For example, while developers and testers are working with an application, when they want to see whats going on in the log, they can just click a button - no unix accounts, ssh, tailing, needing to know where the logs are etc.

A new version which looks a lot better, and has simple messaging and application monitoring will be out soon.

jschrf 4 days ago 0 replies      
Very cool!
noinput 4 days ago 1 reply      
nice, however unless you left it out deliberately to fire the error log, you should add a favicon to your site.
Done, that was easy. Keep your money, we do it for the lulz blackbergsecurity.us
203 points by kevinburke  16 hours ago   41 comments top 11
dsl 14 hours ago 1 reply      
A bit of background for HN: Most security folks consider Joe Black (of Black & Berg) to be a total joke and snake oil vendor.

See http://attrition.org/postal/asshats/joe_black/

Joakal 14 hours ago 1 reply      
If LulzSec had accepted the money, it's likely to become a money trail. "According to Richardson and Lyon, the NHTCU encouraged Richardson to wire two [DDoS] extortion payments of a few thousand dollars each to separate Western Union offices in Eastern Europe. The NHTCU wanted to nab anyone who showed up to take the cash. (NHTCU won't confirm this; the spokeswoman said the unit does not discuss investigative tactics.) [0]"

[0] http://www.csoonline.com/article/220336/how-a-bookmaker-and-...

rdoherty 15 hours ago 3 replies      
Honestly they were asking for it. Kudos to whomever hacked them and took the high road.

Are there any security firms that actually know what they're doing? I'm beginning to think there isn't.

eck 14 hours ago 1 reply      
Everyone here seems sure that "Black & Berg" is an actual security company that issued a challenge and actually intended to pay someone money. Does anyone have any independent sources on that?

Just from the look of the site, it seems so much like a farcical joke on HBGary-type companies, I wonder if it's not a viral marketing campaign.

arkitaip 14 hours ago 1 reply      
Is this still up?! Now that's embarrassing.
clark-kent 8 hours ago 0 replies      
I think Joe Black is a parody http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5ywUK2Jat5k
prayag 12 hours ago 0 replies      
This is not even worth the time it takes to click and wait for the god awful page.

Attention is what this guy wants. Why are we even bothering about this on the first page?

JackDanger 14 hours ago 1 reply      
That domain name is running an open FTP server. I'll bet a dictionary attack against the 'root' or 'admin' user was all that was necessary.
tribeofone 5 hours ago 0 replies      
These LulzSec guys are GREAT
bitwize 12 hours ago 0 replies      
"Done. Hacked."
Intel significantly speeds up graphics under Linux (X.org) freedesktop.org
201 points by valyala  4 days ago   49 comments top 14
chaosfox 4 days ago 1 reply      
The title is a bit misleading, it sounds like its a general improvement, when actually its a patch for the intel driver, so it only affects those that use intel cards and this driver, or did I missed something ?
1337p337 3 days ago 2 replies      
This is great. Now if only the newer Intel drivers didn't make X segfault!

This seems to be a common problem. I had to downgrade to 2.14.0; some bug introduced in 2.14.903 and still present in 2.15.0 break it thoroughly. Fast is nice, but stable is better.

etherealG 3 days ago 2 replies      
I'm struggling to understand what this means from the description, anyone mind decoding for me?
robgough 4 days ago 1 reply      
I probably didn't follow correctly, but doesn't this only affect Sandy Bridge processors?
MostAwesomeDude 3 days ago 0 replies      
For non-X people (IOW, everybody except me and Josh):

This commit speeds up general desktop rendering, in both general and pathological cases, for nearly all Intel graphics chipsets, causing everything to feel snappier and more responsive. It's a universally Good Thing.

paines 4 days ago 2 replies      
So, as a Debian User, I can have use of this in 5 years.
bgruber 3 days ago 1 reply      
could someone point to a source identifying the different generations of chipset referred to in the test? (gen3, gen4, etc.)
nagnatron 3 days ago 1 reply      
Any way to get this in Ubuntu soon?
ComputerGuru 4 days ago 1 reply      
The link's now broken?
smbwrs 3 days ago 1 reply      
My current laptop is a Dell C510 running Arch Linux, rocking a massive 384MB of RAM and LXDE. It's relatively (surprisingly) snappy as is, but any improvement is going to make a huge difference. Great work.
mrspandex 4 days ago 1 reply      
Is this link working for other people? I just get a "No repositories found"
mrothe 4 days ago 3 replies      
I like the size of this commit! Makes bisecting all so easy!
snikolic 4 days ago 0 replies      
Link broken? update: working now?
tropin 3 days ago 0 replies      
It'd be more useful if it had a list of hardware expected to improve with this patch.
Piracy: are we being conned? smh.com.au
197 points by MetallicCloud  4 days ago   108 comments top 14
cletus 4 days ago  replies      
The entertainment industry--music, television and movies--is living in the past. Content is distributed through physical media and balkanized distribution deals. Movie and TV studios cannot envision a world without traditional cable distribution.

Pretty much everyone who reads HN knows this.

The gaming industry has largely ditched these old world models. Titles are generally available worldwide within days of initial release. Games are AFAIK not region-protected (they could be on at least console platforms). Digital distribution, at least for PC games, is widespread (ie Steam). What's more that distribution is awesome. Delete a title? Want to re-download it? Not a problem! Not so with iTunes.

Take Game of Thrones, a series produced by HBO with immense worldwide interest. I imagine piracy of this is enormous. Unfortunately, HBO, which seems stuck in the premium cable model, will look at this of evidence that we need more regulation and prosecutions.

What it actually means is there is unsatisfied demand. If people could buy it on iTunes or buy an HBO subscription on their PC on iPad without having to have a cable subscription (which HBO Go requires) then there would be a lot less piracy IMHO. Of course international distribution would also interfere with HBO's traditional distribution deals.

Basically, HBO is just leaving money on the table when I'm sure people would pay $3-5 per episode of GoT as long as they could watch it when they wanted and re-download or re-stream it as desired.

Most, if not all, US networks distribute their content via the Web, either directly or via Hulu (or both). Some place further restrictions like a window in which you can watch the content or a one week delay (as Fox does).

I like this model. I have no TV. I don't want a TV. I don't want a cable subscription (other than for internet).

The problem is that the experience is so awful the choice becomes either pirating it or not watching it. The ads break, they will switch you out of full screen mode, if you have to go back to the content (because it breaks, which it does) you will have to endure a half dozen ads to find the spot you were at and the inventory is repetitive and pointless (1 in 3 online ads are for Geico I swear, and I live in NYC and have no car so why am I being tortured with them?).

Part of the problem there is that advertisers are also stuck in traditional media. I wonder why this is. My best theory is that there are no accurate metrics on audience or conversion with, say, TV advertising so advertisers are basically buying into the lie that networks sell them.

Another theory is that traditional media reach audiences that online media don't.

But why can't I pay for a Hulu with no ads? I would. I have two theories about this too:

1. Hulu likes having a relationship with advertisers; and

2. The people most likely to pay not to see ads are the ones of most value to the advertisers.

So instead Hulu tries pointless differentiators to get me to buy Hulu Plus, like being able to watch it on my iPad. That would actually be nice but if I have to watch it on my laptop instead so be it.

The one company that seems to get online distribution is, of course, Netflix. Watch as much as you want, whenever you want, on whatever device you want for a flat fee. They've obviously solved the problem of distributing royalties and so forth to content owners. Why can't anyone else?

That'll probably change today with iCloud. Ironically, the record companies don't like how powerful Apple is but they've created the monster that is iTunes by first insisting on DRM and then shutting out other players. They wanted Amazon and Google to pay for playing music you own when it comes from a hard drive in the cloud rather than one you own. Neither did.

The result seems to be that they've turned to Apple as their saviour, which will probably make Apple even more powerful.

The whole situation--music, movies and TV--is utterly stupid.

modernerd 4 days ago 2 replies      
The Internet, like DVD, VHS, cable, radio, and sheet music, is just the latest in a long line of transmission mediums.

Use of each medium to transmit work that was once locked down and overseen by a controlling influence has always been considered piracy when that medium was in its infancy -- right back to sheet music -- as Cory Doctorow notes in a video interview with the Guardian[1]:

"The copyright wars aren't new, of course. In the first part of the 20th century you had sheet music composers who represented the only real 'music industry'. They were an industry as a pose to a trade because they had an industrial apparatus; a copying machine that made sheet music. And so they could sell it even when they weren't there.

"Then you had performers who weren't really an industry; they were just a trade, because you could only make money as a performer if you were actually performing; there was no industrial component. And then someone invented recorded music, and the performers who were buying their sheet music down at Tin Pan Alley and performing it all these years started performing it into recording devices.

"And the composers said, 'What are you doing? You're selling our compositions without our permission! You must stop this -- it's an act of piracy!' And the performers said, somewhat understandably, 'You sold us the sheet music, didn't you? Didn't you think we'd perform it?' And different states came up with different answers, but at the end of the day, all the countries that made the transition to having a successful recorded music industry said that composers actually don't get a say in whether or not their music is recorded. They may get some money from an automatic royalty system, but you don't get to say 'this can only be performed here' or 'only that guy can perform it'. Once it's been performed once, everyone can perform it and everyone can record it, because that's how music is.

"So here you have the great pirates of the first decade of the 20th century: the music performers; the record labels. And the record labels turned around, not that long afterwards, and pointed at the radio stations and said, 'What are you doing playing our records on the radio? You have no business doing it! What we did when we took those compositions without permission, that was progress! What you jerks are doing... that's just piracy!' And, of course, the broadcasters went out and they said, 'no, you should let us broadcast' and they eventually won that fight and then they were the brave pirates who became the main stream.

"And so when cable channels started taking broadcast signals and pumping them over cable wires, the broadcasters said, 'Well, you know, when we took that music from the record labels that was progress, but when you take our radio diffusion and pump it down over a cable that's just piracy'. And the cable operators fought that fight.

"Then along came the VCR, which could record programmes off the cable, and the cable operators, having won the fight with the broadcasters, said, 'You know, when we took the broadcasts that was progress! When you take our cable transmissions and record them on a VHS cassette, that's piracy!"

"And then, the company that invented the VCR, Sony, joined with the major studios in suing the Internet for taking movies that had been diffused on DVD or VHS cassette or over the air and said, "You know, when we put your cable diffusion on a VHS cassette, that was progress, but when you take it and put it on the Internet, that's just piracy."

"The biggest difference now, I think, is the extent to which they're being taken seriously. I think it used to be true that no lawmaker believed he could be re-elected by breaking the thing that his constituents use to entertain themselves. And now there seems to be an awful willingness to go to Corfu with a music composer and come back and propose that the Internet should be censored and that people who are accused of file sharing should be locked out of it and so on. And I guess that's the major difference and the thing that gives me anxiety about the future of the Internet.

[1]: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/video/2011/may/30/in...

ryan-allen 4 days ago 7 replies      
As an Australian, hypothetically our US counterparts are often viewing and discussing brand new popular television as it comes out in America.

In Australia, hypothetically said episodes tend to come out a number of days later for very popular shows and often weeks or months later for less popular shows.

This is due to hypothetical dinosaur age licensing of said programs from hypothetical Australian media companies.

I have heard hypothetically on a number of occasions, hypothetical Australians downloading hypothetical series only hours later than they were literally aired in America.

The exact same things happens (hypothetically) with DVDs and whatnot. Contextual shows like South Park make less sense when aired in countries like Australia many months after they were aired in the US.

What do these companies expect is going to happen?


On a side note, a television series that portrayed the story of a number of gangland murders was produced, and was to be aired WHILST THE TRIAL WAS STILL ONGOING. Now the magistrate in their epic wisdom decreed that the show was not to be shown in the state that the crimes were committed, as it may contribute to biasing the jury of the case (there's a correct legal term, which I forget).

What happened was that the show was aired in all other states except Melbourne, as ordered by the judge, and the very next day there were people STANDING ON STREET CORNERS IN THE MELBOURNE CBD selling DVDs of the episode to people as they were stopped at red lights. I kid you not, this actually happened.

Anyway, long story short the main man was convicted and later murdered in prison, but I hope this illustrates the utter lack of understanding and wisdom of Australia in these matters. Hypothetically no wisdom at all.

scythe 4 days ago 1 reply      
>claimed piracy was costing Australian content industries $900 million a year and 8000 jobs.

Is it just me or does even this clearly inflated figure seem like pocket change? The economy of Australia is some $900 billion a year and counting. The costs of enforcing such legislation and the impact on people's freedom and privacy is surely not worth a mere 0.1% of the overall economy even in the best case.


paul9290 4 days ago 2 replies      
Piracy would not be an issue in other countries if these countries too had access to Netflix, Hulu, Crackle (Sony stuff), TV.com, CBSnews.com/video and the others. Though there is justin.tv and youtube, but both are not marketed and cant be marketed as a place to watch copyrighted material.
systemizer 4 days ago 1 reply      
I agree: piracy is a problem. But here's an even bigger problem to worry about: the government believes statisticians. I have come by so many stats that are clearly wrong, and no one (sometimes not even the government) will question the math behind it. It is just believed that the source is valid and everything makes sense; especially in a case like piracy that people are aware of its effect (but not the magnitude of that effect).

My heart sank when I read this: "Ferrer said that, even if the numbers were not completely correct, there was no denying that piracy was a significant issue for the industry that was only expected to increase with the arrival of the National Broadband Network."

nhangen 4 days ago 1 reply      
The war on piracy is like the war on drugs. Giant waste of time and resources, will never end, and no gets out without losing an arm.
te_chris 3 days ago 0 replies      
Is it just me, or has iTunes Match finally made this whole world a slightly better place?

I mean of course, in terms of actually finding a way to monetise content acquired through any means - i.e. I download album over BT, pay itunes match sub, sync lib, then artist gets royalty. It seems like we're finally approaching a sensible business model.

pflats 4 days ago 1 reply      
I think one of the best ways to at least look at why the music industry is really reeling is to take a look at album sales and singles sales.

When CDs hit the market, there was no compelling way to get singles. CD singles were relatively rare, and few people wanted to buy cassingles instead of CDs. This is at odds with the the music industry existed up until that point.

Take a look at the list of best-selling albums and best-selling singles on Wikipedia. Sort the categories by year. There's fewer than 10 high-selling singles there from 1992-2004, while there are dozens of multiplatinum albums from the same era.



fleitz 3 days ago 0 replies      
The best way to reduce piracy is to shorten copyright. Lets give the industry what they want, 6 month copyright length. This would vastly reduce piracy, by the time the DVD comes out it's legal to copy. I think after that they'll be begging for the return of piracy.
bastiat 3 days ago 0 replies      
For so long as you continue to believe in intellectual property, you are not being conned. It's not about whether the IP laws are being used to your benefit (as per the GPL) or whether they are being used to your detriment (as per the major record labels.)

You must be willing to argue that for as much as they do not have a right to make a living from a failed business model.. you do not have a right to the work of other people on "your software."

jneal 3 days ago 0 replies      
I love music - but I'll be honest, I rarely buy my new music. However, the music industry still gets my money, and here's how.

If I had to spend let's say $10 per CD, and on average I get a new CD every week (I do) that's over $40 per month. Instead, I get my music for free, and I spend the $40 going to a concert almost every month. So far this year, I've been to 4-5 concerts.

Now, I'm not saying this is legal or this is even "right" but it's just what I do. Besides, bands don't see much money from CD sales, they get money from touring, so I much more prefer to spend my money in the way that more directly affect's the band's paycheck.

I do still occasionally buy CD's. For example, Linkin Park's new album "A Thousand Suns" I downloaded before it was even released so I could listen to it, although I had already pre-ordered it and received it a few days after it was released (it's still unopened)

Natsu 3 days ago 0 replies      
Yes, we're being conned by lobbyist-written "research" that contains wild (but always bad) guesses about the piracy impact but which has nothing to do with the real world.

It's been going on for a long time now. Remember how they compared the VCR to the Boston Strangler? Yeah, only to go on and make billions of dollars off of it.

If they really want to investigate something that's hurting the industry, maybe they should look into that Hollywood accounting thing.

goodspeed 3 days ago 0 replies      
Another view would be to look up publicly available company revenues and see that their annual revenues are totally not affected at all. You can see an increase in year on year. No were are those figures dipping or near bankruptcy like what they claim.

I'd love to see these revenue

       cached 10 June 2011 15:11:02 GMT