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Bored People Quit randsinrepose.com
819 points by filament  4 days ago   151 comments top 39
edw519 4 days ago  replies      
Axiom: Boring work can never compete with Hacker News.

Axiom: Hacker News can never compete with interesting work.

Theorem: The interestingness of my work is inversely related to my Hacker News participation.

Supporting data: Today I'm regression testing. I'll be here all day, folks.

Idea: Employers, monitor your logs for Hacker News. Occasional spikes probably indicate boring, but necessary tasks. Chronic use probably means your devs are bored. Bored devs probably means you better take a deep hard look at everything else.

nhashem 4 days ago 5 replies      
I think another key point is that boredom is inevitable, at least at any company bigger than a startup.

Software engineering is about solving problems. You get hired, and solve problems. Time passes and you get better at solving these problems, so they give you harder problems in the same domain space. Eventually you get so good at solving these problems in this domain space that you become The Guy. "Oh you have a question about the FooWidget manager tool? Ask Joe, he's the FooWidget guy." By definition, being The Guy has mean you've reached a local maxima of productivity in the company.

It also means you're bored. It's not a case of possibly being bored, or eventually becoming bored. Once you are are no longer a problem solver, that means you're bored.

I've been a lead engineer at two different companies thus far in my career, and every time I end up wailing the same things to management. "You have to let me get Joe off FooWidgets. He's been working on it for nearly years and all you make him do are stupid enhancements nobody actually uses." But then who will maintain FooWidgets? "Hire someone. You could hire a college kid for the level enhancements you guys want. Or let me assign it to someone else on my team. But do something, because he is going to get bored and quit and we'll have to do this anyway, only Joe won't even be here to help transition." Will we be able to make enhancements to FooWidgets as fast if someone else works on it? "Not at first, but within a month--" Bzzt, wrong answer, Joe's still on FooWidgets. And sure enough, within six months, Joe takes another position and we're hosed.

So while Rands had some good heuristics for detecting boredom, you typically don't even need to ask them directly or look for behavior changes. Are they solving problems? If not, they're bored, and you have a ticking clock to do something about that engineer before he leaves.

1337p337 4 days ago 4 replies      
I had a boss that took the opposite approach. Whenever I started to lose productivity, he'd put me on work he knew I'd hate, telling me I'd get to do more interesting things when I showed him I could be productive. So I started working on side projects at the office just to keep my mind from going and became less and less productive until I quit.

He was a talented engineer himself and a good friend. We ended up working together again at another company. A few months after he arrived, I had a slump and the cycle repeated itself. This time we had long meetings where he accused me of being cynical and questioned my dedication; I defended it ("I'm here making much less than I was before, aren't I?"), which was exhausting in itself. I thought the problem was all on my side, so I didn't put up much of a fight when he told me I'd be writing integration tests full-time--no more "real" coding--until I proved whatever he thought needed proving. I forced myself to ignore any side projects I had going. He called me in again later to complain that the tests weren't coming along quickly enough and that they "read like sketch comedy routines". (They did, actually. I was bored, and the tests were full of things like, e.g., Eve getting unfriended by Alice but not Bob and, wounded, trying to spy on Alice. It did tehnically test our access controls!)

Because I was convinced it was my problem, I stuck around long enough to get fired this time. I'm lucky enough right now to have very interesting work (at a big company, of all places), but this article has given me an opportunity to reconsider what happened at the old job in a different light.

F_J_H 4 days ago 1 reply      
Disclaimer: The following is not related to the topic but is instead a rant inspired by reading the article.

A good article, but it is unfortunate that it starts by categorically slamming all authors who write about employee motivation and retention:

It's written by folks who actively use words like motivation and retention and generally don't have a clue about the daily necessity of keeping your team professionally content because they've either never done the work or have forgotten how it's done.

Why is this necessary? I find it nauseating. In fact, when I read or hear someone who basically states “everyone is stupid but me, and all who have come before me have been doing it wrong” in their opening spiel, it's a good sign to me that the speaker/author has some blind spots and may not be considering all perspectives.

Maybe one reason I find it so nauseating is because I have suffered from this myself, and I'm still tempted at times to point out where others have failed and where I'm so much smarter. (After all, “we judge most harshly in others that which we are most guilty of ourselves” " can't remember who said that.) It wasn't until a close mentor confronted me on it, and basically taught me that life goes a lot better when you don't walk around thinking you are smarter than everyone else. Biggest reason? It shows. You may think you are hiding it, but your face may be wearing a subtle smirk while others are talking, and they can see in your eyes that you aren't listening but instead are formulating a rebuttal.

Steve Blank teaches this same concept (i.e. don't think you are smarter than everyone else) in some of his blogs, although more related to sales. And good articles like this on the importance of humility reinforce this for me:


In a Fortune article on “the best advice I ever got”, the CEO of Pepsi, Indra Nooyi said the best advice she ever received was from her father, who taught her to “always assume positive intent” which I have found gets you a lot further than “assume everyone is an idiot”, which has been the stance of many programmers I have met. (Fortune article link: http://money.cnn.com/galleries/2008/fortune/0804/gallery.bes...),

I've heard it said that “people don't quit their jobs, they quit their manager”. Maybe in IT we are boring people by ceasing every opportunity to show our underlings how smart we are…

*Edit: Typos

newobj 4 days ago 1 reply      
Wow. This article knows me better than I know myself. I've always wondered if that slow creep-in of boredom was a personal failing of mine. Whether it is or not, it's at least nice to know that this a known phenomenon, that someone else has managed to describe to a t. Reading this has actually really empowered me. I really had a lot of shame in feeling bored and bent over backwards to hide it until I quit in a boredball of boredom. I might be more forthcoming about boredom in the future.
thirdstation 4 days ago 1 reply      
What about frustrated? Too much process, too many clueless managers, too hard to get work done?

Sometimes boredom is a result of giving up the fight.

HNer 4 days ago 0 replies      
I had a nice little company with 30 or so staff, the first employee was a major asset but made a huge mistake when left in charge, ordered 300k of stock in one day from suppliers, then went on holiday and was off sick for some time afterward. The bills wipped out the pre Christmas profits we made and very nearly bankrupted the company. It was a hard slog for a year to get back into the blank, during which time I put him out of the office in final checking and testing. However, after about 8 months of this he landed the bombshell, he was leaving. Despite all pleas for him to stay, (despite his honest blunder he was one of those people you need, would do over and above the call of duty), alas he left. When I replaced him and modernized the management it was less than 16 months later he arrived in my office after I had called him in tears ( I don't cry) explaining the bookkeeper and general manager had scammed me out of over 100k... later I explained why he was 'demoted' I was astonished to realize he was oblivious to the problem he had created, how on earth had I managed to miss that vital information while begging he stay with the company? Being too involved and too busy, along with not trying to have a blame culture is what proceeded those events. My utter shock though at his ignorance to the real problem, and in his boots I guess I would have left too.
s00pcan 4 days ago 0 replies      
This is my last week at my first programming job, my new one starts next Monday. My boss has other businesses in other states, so he was away from this office most of the time, meaning I was able to do pretty much whatever I wanted with my time here. Usually, the office consisted of just my non-technical supervisor and myself. Of course, small projects beyond my control would be requested of me would and I would do them, but this couldn't sustain my interest.

I definitely got bored. But unlike most of you, I had the choice of being bored. Once I realized this I made every effort I could to work on interesting projects. First, I had to start spending about half of my time researching the industry before I would even know what needed to be done. I was then able to identify what was wrong with our systems here and exactly how to improve them. Given lots of time to play around on projects and little supervision, some people might have wasted their time or just did the bare minimum, but I identified areas that could be greatly improved, then replaced/refactored projects as necessary. I took on new projects to address problems I had wanted to fix for a long time regularly.

Being the only programmer here, I didn't get to all of them (I was not working full time). The website was a mess of outsourced crap and it didn't even use objects - I avoided working on it in favor of other projects as much as possible. Back in 2009 I made a prototype replacement website in my favorite language, earlier this year I started work on two code libraries. I'm currently refactoring the website to use a new code library I created, which is going very smoothly. I also spent countless hours (though I logged everything I did) happily working towards PCI DSS compliance, coming from a background with no security expertise. I came up and completed many more projects like these while I've been here. When I was bored it was because I wasn't working on something interesting.

Those are the days where I can work until close and be completely happy. Well, until someone tells me it's time to leave.

gfunk911 4 days ago 0 replies      
Great article.

Your boss won't always explicitly tell you to take time to experiment. I've gone to my boss many times and essentially asked for time to experiment. If you have a good boss, he'll be right there with you. Don't be afraid to ask.

rlovelett 4 days ago 0 replies      
About 5 weeks ago I quit my job. I was becoming increasingly dissatisfied with my job role and the level of mental stimulation. So I quit my job.

I walked in told my managers, "Hey, I liked the beginning when I was challenged. Now I'm not. I want to find something new that does challenge me." They asked me what I would find challenging, I told them. They asked me to give them a few weeks before I actually left so they could try to find me something, and they did. I never had to leave and I got what I asked for, challenging and thought provoking work; they got what they wanted, not loosing a worker. It was a win-win.

I can honestly say that attempting to quit my job was one of the best decisions I've made in years.

Timothee 4 days ago 1 reply      
I'm honestly glad to see the reactions here that being bored is not (necessarily) your fault.

What I mean is that job ads tend to look for "self-motivated" people and it's easy to conclude that if you're bored, you're just clearly not self-motivated enough.

However, there are many things that a company and management can do (or not do) that contribute to a decrease in motivation. Or even the appearance of resentment since keeping you bored (or worse, not realizing you are) shows the lack of interest in what you're doing, and where you're going.

mmaunder 4 days ago 0 replies      
I think one of the problems is bad hiring. If you hire someone who wants to be a Ruby developer writing new code to maintain a PHP site, you're going to see boredom.

Marc Andreessen talks about using hiring and interviews as a filtering process e.g. "In this company we all do yoga for an hour at 2pm. Do you like Yoga? Are you going to have fun doing yoga for a hour every day?". [Real example of a yoga startup IIRC]

Here's the podcast, and it's probably ecorner's best ever if you haven't already heard it:


raghava 3 days ago 0 replies      
Where I work, the original post is actually blocked by websense; and I believe that says a lot about the firm. And not just that, there is also a strict auditing of browsing habits. They have already incorporated edw519's suggestion of monitoring logs for accessing HN/proggit etc. More than a hundred hits per day and I need to get an approval from four levels above.(SO was completely websensed and I had to fight for 10 days to get it off the blacklist).

It's not that people just quit bad managers. Many a times, they quit firms with ridiculous policies and rules, even though their immediate managers/peers are good enough.

clintjhill 4 days ago 0 replies      
I would apply the same methodologies to finding out if your problem solvers are "happy with the solution(s)". There are plenty of occasions where engineers are handed solutions they aren't totally keen on. The same trap can be landed in.

It's not always about being bored. Sometimes its about being satisfied with the solution. And in my opinion, both are equally problematic.

ikarous 4 days ago 0 replies      
Rands makes some very insightful points. I became very bored at my old job. What struck me as odd about the experience in hindsight is that at the time, I didn't even realize that I was bored. I simply became sarcastic, sullen, and generally somewhat less than the person I knew myself to be.

Perhaps it is an artifact of my youth, or perhaps it is because the situation of boredom can arise very gradually, but I strongly suspect that many people who find themselves unhappy with their employment without being able to articulate the reasons for their unhappiness are, in fact, simply bored with their work.

Directly asking employees about it is situational at best, though. Some folks might misinterpret such a query's intent and say "yes" regardless of how they really feel. I've often given thought to Google's 20% policy, where employees are allowed to work on work-related projects of their choosing. While I doubt that this policy is practical in all situations, it does seem to be a very clever way of preventing boredom and encouraging innovation simultaneously.

flipper 2 days ago 0 replies      
This article sums me up. When I started in my current job I had a really smart guy for a manager who was interested in hearing new ideas from his people and generally championed them. A couple of years ago we got bought out and I got a new IT manager with no real interest in technology or my job. Every idea I've had was ignored or shot down in flames. Unfortunately his attitude was symptomatic of senior management in our company.

I got disillusioned and got a reputation for being sullen and uncommunicative. I realized that even if I invented a perpetual motion machine he wouldn't be impressed (or even know what one was). So what was the point?

The happy ending is I got headhunted last week by my previous employer. My boss doesn't seem too worried about me leaving so I'm sure now I'm doing the right thing.

sirn 4 days ago 0 replies      
Great article. I'm bored, and I surprisingly I found myself doing almost everything described in the article: later arrivals, earlier departures, increased snark or even skipping lunch. I'm in the category of "I'm bored and nobody did anything about it" (perhaps my boss know, because I told my co-worker out loud that I'm BORED) and not I'm not sure what I should do next.
veb 4 days ago 0 replies      

I sent this to a colleague for a read, who in then... sent it to the CIO. Whom replied, "this guy sums it up well, I'm going to distribute it and then we'll talk about it at the round table."

The outcome of this is going to be... hilarious!

dskhatri 4 days ago 2 replies      
"I'm going to keep digging until you look me in the eye"

Are you sure you want to do that to engineers? There's a joke that goes something like:

How do you tell an introverted engineer from an extroverted one?
The introverted engineer stares at his/her shoes when talking to you. The extroverted one stares at your shoes.

I don't think it's a good idea to "keep digging until you look me in the eye".

gheer 4 days ago 0 replies      
We're in this exact same situation in my company.

A couple of engineers gave notice in the last week complaining about boredom. They ended up convincing one to stay(salary+ & better projects) but I feel their pain.

I think what happens in a start-up is that once the company reaches a certain size, the 'hard-part' is already done. The type of engineer that gets attracted to working at a start-up is usually one that likes to be in over their head a bit and trying to solve hard problems. Once that 'problem' is basically solved unless they move on to other things(platforms/frameworks/languages/etc), they're inevitably going to get bored, complain, hate their life and then quit.

I'm forwarding this article to management here, hopefully they'll get the hint.

a3camero 4 days ago 6 replies      
Sounds a bit abrasive to do this: "You ask, “Are you bored?” Even if you don't have a gut feeling, it's a good question to randomly ask your team. When I ask, I look you straight in the eyes and if you can't stare me in the face and answer, I'm going to keep digging until you look me in the eye."
peregrine 4 days ago 0 replies      
Finally a thread I can share some of my limited(!) experiences!

A company I worked at once told me that I shouldn't be bored, but be happy that I had work and that doing more boring work leads to better less boring work.

I probably should have gone into overdrive mode to find new work but it happened anyways about 1.5 years late. Being boring is not an easy thing to bounce back from when you main retention policy is snacks, soda, and blind loyalty.

PonyGumbo 4 days ago 1 reply      
For what it's worth, people exhibit the same kind of behavior changes when they think there will be layoffs.
gambler 4 days ago 0 replies      
Call me a cynic, but I think most managers in medium-to-big companies would never believe that there is something wrong with the structure of the work their handing down, so they would never try to fix it. Developer turnaround of X percent is expected and simply factored into the process by making people replaceable. I think that's the root cause of the problem. Not enough people in change really care that their developers are bored.
mpobrien 4 days ago 2 replies      
If you ask an employee, "Are you bored?" there's a good chance they are going to lie to you, unless you have a strong enough relationship.
biggitybones 4 days ago 0 replies      
As someone who's just reached their wit's end at a small startup (I put in my 2 weeks yesterday), I really want to send this article along as a helpful lesson on what not to do with the next guy.

As others have said, some of the points in the article are things I could feel but not articulate. Great lessons to be learned from it.

DuqE 4 days ago 0 replies      
Already said but great article, I am in this exact situation right now.
DTrejo 4 days ago 1 reply      
If your company uses google calendar, I recommend you take a look at your coworker's schedules to get an idea of how many meetings people are subjected-to.
aculver 4 days ago 1 reply      
If you enjoy this article, the author's book titled "Managing Humans" comes highly recommended.
acak 4 days ago 0 replies      
Apart from presenting an interesting problem, I'd say presenting an opportunity to learn something new and valuable is as important.

I developed and maintained an ASP.NET application for a long time and eventually became bored. My boss tried to make things interesting by giving me small new application / feature to solve a problem but having to continue using ASP.NET made my gnash my teeth.

I would have preferring having to figure out some new language/platform where the discovery process would have been rewarding and satisfying.

So give them not only new ends to pursue, but also new means.

pathik 4 days ago 0 replies      
So true. I was bored. And I did quit.
jayx 4 days ago 2 replies      
I am a college student who is currently doing my summer internship at a megacorp as a .NET MVC developer and I would not say the internship was what I was looking for. I am OK with the technologies they are using, it's just the boredom caused by endless waiting between each process that frustrates me. I got hired because I had spent a lot of my spare time working on my own RoR projects and my web development skills made me stand out. I also turned down another RoR startup internship as a result of better payment from the big company, which I regret a lot by now. Lesson learned: money is not the most important factor when it comes to job decision. The bright side of big corp job is that I have plenty of time to read hackernews and pick up technologies I want to learn, which gets me ready for the future startup environment. But nevertheless, I will never look back after this job.
emehrkay 4 days ago 0 replies      
Didn't read the article yet, but the title is true. I just quit a job two weeks ago because I was bored (and they lacked focus, and we were getting no where fast, etc.)
Troll_Whisperer 4 days ago 1 reply      
>When I ask, I look you straight in the eyes and if you can't stare me in the face and answer, I'm going to keep digging until you look me in the eye.

If anybody did anything that psychotic with me, I'd quit and head for saner pastures ASAP.

dmragone 4 days ago 0 replies      
Love that this was on top of HN this morning. Personally, step 1 is simply knowing what your employees are doing, what out of that they like, and what they want to be doing. Then jointly develop a plan to get them more of what they want.
knodi 4 days ago 0 replies      
Very true, having lots of work doesn't mean its not lots of boring work.
gregfjohnson 4 days ago 0 replies      
Great post. I sent the link to my manager.
kwamenum86 4 days ago 1 reply      
Border people who quit are weak-minded.
A lesson on the importance of encouraging your children with their projects gamesbyemail.com
795 points by TamDenholm  3 days ago   102 comments top 25
edw519 3 days ago 4 replies      
Typical enterprise developer:

  1. User knows exactly what he wants.
2. User can only express that in his own language.
3. Data flow diagrams, best practices, structured design, etc.
4. Dev still doesn't know what user wants but builds anyway.
5. 2 years later, project scrapped.

Scott Nesin:

  1. User knows exactly what he wants.
2. User can only express that in his own language.
3. Developer patiently encourages user to express himself.
4. Eureka!
5. Much learned; happy ending.

maeon3 3 days ago 2 replies      
Parents who give their kids a regular diet of "High Praise", "Agreeableness", "Supportiveness" and "Positive Interaction", but don't send them to college create children who have higher socioeconomic statuses than children of disconnected parents who send theirs to college. Multiple studies done confirm this.


Adam Savage from Mythbusters claimed his love of building came from his parents encouraging him to make all sorts of crazy inventions. Moral of the story, encourage the children to build stuff, keep them on track but don't do it for them.

Shenglong 3 days ago 1 reply      
This story has a great moral, and from a younger-person's standpoint, I think it's something every parent should consider: enable, and don't obligate.

Encouragement itself is a dangerous path, since it can lead to an unhealthy zeal and interest. Unless you're parenting in an unique way, parents usually are seen as an authority figure by the kids. Because of this, over-encouragement could be seen as forcefulness, and act to discourage the child by creating a sense of obligation. This is exactly what happened to me on multiple occasions. I swam breast stroke competitively when I was younger, and stopped training completely when my coach and my parents decided I should train for higher level competition. I also played badminton on a provincial level, and basically the same thing happened. This isn't me being lazy. I trained 9 hours a day last summer at the Shaolin temple on my own will.

On the other end, everything I've built (or done, other sports included), I've done so on my own accord, either with no support from my parents, or just a slight tinge of interest. I guess every child is different - just make sure not to make them feel obligated.

ThomPete 3 days ago 1 reply      
I have a son who is turning two.

Our local supermarket is a great primarily organic shop. They have carts made for the little ones and we normally use that to do all our shopping.

I usually let him pick things down from the shelves or give him things from them to put into his cart. Sometimes his picks are random but mostly he fetches three things that I normally get.

1. Milk
2. Pasta
3. Swarts Broot

After that we go to the counter and he fetches the things for me to put up on the desk. He now even packs it.

I have found that involving him like this makes it much easier to set boundaries because he can relate to them.

It's quite different to be told to put only some of the things back rather than everything.

It's quite amazing to experience the emergence of consciousness.

zwieback 3 days ago 0 replies      
Great story. Two comments:

- I think the people at our Home Depot would not have been as irritated and would have led the way to the paint department, maybe it's regionally different

- My girls go for spray paint 10 out of 10 times

My daughter had a 4th grade "invention convention" project and she chose to build a anti-kick board for her desk so the boy sitting opposite couldn't kick her. It also had comfy footrests. The boy's side had an Italian and her side had a German flag (the respective nationalities) spray-painted. It ended up looking really nice and the teacher let her keep it on her desk for a few days. That project encouraged her to build some tables for her room.

Joakal 3 days ago 2 replies      
Reminds me about this dedicated builder: http://jamius.com/

He builds pretty amazing stuff like indoor trampoline [0] and a robotic spider [1]. Due to his increasing popularity and requests to learn from him, he created the adventure builders club: http://jamius.com/abc/abc.html

Some more about him in this thread that propelled him to fame on Reddit: http://www.reddit.com/r/videos/comments/e5qgr/so_this_guy_li...

[0] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L6c2K_ZVj3I&feature=relat...

[1] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=86Krv3gE-c4&feature=playe...

pbhjpbhj 3 days ago 9 replies      
This sort of story makes me sad. We don't have a tree house, we don't even have a tree. We don't have money to spend at the DIY store to keep the house in shape never mind making checkers boards for fun. I thought I was getting pretty good at quenching the covetousness that society seemed to have imbued me with but when one realises that stuff is needed for many uplifting experiences.

Realising the great joy certain things brought me as a kid and realising that those things are beyond the reach of my kids ... Gah.

A happy story made me sad; I'm too easily depressed.

Aside: email games seems really retro.

JonathanFields 3 days ago 0 replies      
Awesome story. Been taking the same approach with my daughter. She's now 10 and is pretty fearless about wielding any tool or material needed to design whatever she's working on.

Reminds me of a story I once saw about Tinkering School for kids, where they let the kids conceive and builds project together. http://www.tinkeringschool.com/

wyclif 3 days ago 0 replies      
If only I had more upvotes to give. This is the kind of story I come to HN for.
chadp 3 days ago 2 replies      
This is the best story on HN I have ever read.
cpenner461 3 days ago 1 reply      
My son (5) has his own workbench next to mine, and regularly likes to go "build stuff" with me. He's built several "houses" (random blocks of wood glued/screwed/nailed together) on his own, and loves helping cut/drill/nail whatever project we happen to be working on. If I'm working on electronics stuff he likes to take the voltmeter and check the resistance of various objects to see if it beeps.

I realized all the hands-on/building/tools/etc was really paying off when he changed the batteries in a baby bouncer completely by himself. (For those unfamiliar with anything baby related, this means he had to work a screwdriver and remove several screws to take the cover off just to get to the batteries - I know adults who can't really work a screwdriver.) He even had the appropriate remark of frustration when at the end of it all he realized he'd put the cover back in the wrong way and had to take the whole thing off and re-do it...

cesarsalazar12 3 days ago 0 replies      
Really inspiring.

I don't have kids yet but when I think about parenting, this is what I always dream of. However, when I tell my "non-hacker" friends, they don't seem to get excited about it. I don't know why. For me, parenting is all about playing a supporting role in the kids journey to understand the world and learn to hack it for the better.

knieveltech 2 days ago 0 replies      
I learned last week my wife is pregnant. I was excited already, but after reading this post I'm impatient to be a father. Thanks for sharing.
michaelschade 3 days ago 0 replies      
Awesome story, and a great lesson to all out there (current parents or otherwise)"kids know a lot more than many initially think.

Like this guy letting his kid run the show in the store, my parents gave me freedom with computers (old Macs that some schools were throwing out) when I was growing up, knowing that they could fix whatever it is I might happen to break, and that's given me the confidence throughout my childhood and up to the present day to always experiment and try new project ideas, knowing that mistakes can be fixed.

Given his parent's awesomeness, I'm sure Guy has seen similar benefits with having had the freedom to make project choices typically restricted to adults.

rglover 3 days ago 0 replies      
This really brightened up my morning. A great story and surprisingly, a good twist. Much like his Dad, I had no idea what Guy was up to until the end. It really shows you how tuned in kids are. For any parent, this is a great lesson: let your kids lead the way. They may seems a bit crazy, but this is evidence that usually, they're not. Hands down, though, my favorite part of this whole story was imagining Guy running up to Home Depot employees by himself to ask for help. Adorable.
hoffer 3 days ago 0 replies      
Slightly off-topic but most Home Depot's on the first saturday of each month hold a free kids workshop. They provide everything necessary to build something (spice rack, shelves etc). My son and I have attended many and their great.
blots 3 days ago 1 reply      
That's a very inspiring story.

My experience with my parents was quite the opposite. Whenever I would ask for help they'd present me with a heap of arguments why I shouldn't "waste my time on this stuff" and even try to stop me. I finally came to the conclusion that it's best not to ask them at all but try to do it secretly myself and only show them the end result.

The only other possible outcome was them doing it all themselves. Usually saying that they will do it faster and better and won't break or make anything dirty in process. Perfect example of how not to raise children.

toyg 3 days ago 8 replies      
As the proud parent of a very chatty daughter of two, I wonder: what would be an equivalent sort of project for girls?
At the moment she likes Duplo/Lego because it's one of the few areas where we connect over the gender divide, but her other roleplay and games are all about caring and she's very empathic with other children (worrying when they cry etc). I do wonder whether pointing her towards hackerdom would really be the right thing to do.
pknerd 3 days ago 0 replies      
What a wonderful lesson given by Scott and Guy. Mapping Scott and his young kid as Team leader and a developer respectively,we could figure out how a Team lead/Someone from Management, could encourage his developers to try out new things anda set their minds free by giving them freedom to do something which they love. It's kind of Google's 20% time rule.

Every Org which trust his non-managerial staff and allow them to try out things often progress and prosper much faster than companies where politics and bureaucracy often create obstacles.

blots 3 days ago 2 replies      
My university blocks your site:

  Based on your corporate access policies, this web site ( http://gamesbyemail.com/WoodTape/Default.htm ) has been blocked because it has been determined by Web Reputation Filters to be a security threat to your computer or the corporate network. This web site has been associated with malware/spyware.

Threat Type: Othermalware
Threat Reason: IP address is either verified as a bot or has misconfigured DNS.

trustfundbaby 3 days ago 0 replies      
That writer's insistence on hanging back and not getting a little bit more involved in the project or at least helping out really annoyed me for some reason ... I had to skip to the end to find out what happened.
phil_parsons 3 days ago 0 replies      
I look forward to moments like this with my two sons, great story and really well told... thanks!
pja 3 days ago 0 replies      
I love a story with a happy ending!
dplakon 3 days ago 0 replies      
great story!
masto 3 days ago 4 replies      
This guy thinks his kid is cute, because it's his kid, but I don't like the part where he deliberately irritates everyone in the hardware store. I don't think your kid is cute, so please keep it out of my way.
Matz (creator of Ruby) joins Heroku heroku.com
569 points by jamesheroku  4 days ago   75 comments top 22
wheels 4 days ago 6 replies      
Interesting note:

With Rasmus Lerdorf working at WePay, this means the creators of the two most presently popular web programming languages, Ruby and PHP, are now working for YC companies.

(Which is a teency stretch since Heroku is now SalesForce and hence no longer really a YC company, but we'll count them to keep it interesting.)

davidw 4 days ago 2 replies      
Wow, nice move, guys!

One of the things I always admired about Linus is that he managed to stay very neutral amongst all the Linux vendors. Back in the dot com days, he could have had pretty much anything he wanted from Redhat, VA Linux, Linuxcare, etc... etc.... but he managed to stay with Transmeta, and then go to the Linux Foundation, which is neutral territory. That's allowed him to focus on Linux without having a Corporate Overlord, benign though it may be.

adelevie 4 days ago 1 reply      
I remember when RubyGems got forked as SlimGems, there was a discussion about Rails' importance in the overall Ruby community. patio11 wrote:

I use Rails, and love Rails, but back home Rails is not yet the core Ruby use case, not by a long shot. Rails has peculiar needs with regards to typical Ruby applications, and a certain portion of the developer community feels that people who write themselves peculiar needs can write their own solutions to them. [1]

With Matz working on the most Rails-oriented hosting platform, perhaps this will change.

[1] http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=2621376

petenixey 4 days ago 1 reply      
This is really great to see. It's so seldom that a company goes from strength to strength post acquisition. With notable exceptions like Android, companies at best hold their trajectory while most disintegrate.

Heroku just keeps getting better though. The releases of things like Cedar and node support are a huge indication of the platform's forward momentum and this news is quite the coup d'etat. Kudos to the Heroku team and Kudos to Salesforce for an acquisition gone right.

sanderjd 4 days ago 1 reply      
This is totally awesome, and is a huge boon for both Heroku and Ruby, but I'd much prefer to see them hire Rich Hickey or Guido van Rossum or Martin Odersky or ...well, the list goes on. Heroku is already knows Ruby cold, they should be on-boarding the people that can help them bring their A-game to other platforms. I look forward to a world where I can ask myself the question "which platform is quickest to get up and running on" and have the answer be a list with 10 entries. Lots of people are trying this, but Heroku has the experience to make it work.
riprock 4 days ago 0 replies      
I wonder how his Rite project is going (Ruby Lite, an "embeddable Ruby") Wasn't the project sponsored by the Japanese government? Really looking forward to its release :)
zachinglis 4 days ago 2 replies      

I like the idea of Heroku going the same way as EngineYard. And investing in technology.

But dreww is correct, he's keeping his other positions so is this merely a marketing and bragging rights thing?

sgrove 4 days ago 0 replies      
Congrats to Heroku - it's certainly a fitting parternship! I wouldn't put anything past them. With such an amazing team and insatiable ambition, they're going to be leaving a mark on history.
skarayan 4 days ago 2 replies      
Very cool. I wonder what Matz will work on directly for Heroku. I understand that he will continue to work on the language, but what new things can we expect to see from Heroku as a platform?
dreww 4 days ago 0 replies      
interestingly, the official press release mentions that matz will retain his positions at NaCL and Rakuten Institute of Technology.


clutchski 4 days ago 0 replies      
It's very interesting that the creators of Python and Ruby are working on PaaS hosting solutions for their languages: Guido at Google App Engine and Matz at Heroku.
dschobel 4 days ago 0 replies      
I can't imagine he's actually going to hack on the product, right? Is something like this a prestige move?
cantbecool 3 days ago 0 replies      
Now we only need to know where _why is working.
diego 4 days ago 0 replies      
Congrats James. Leave some Ruby luminaries for other companies :)
cdcarter 4 days ago 0 replies      
Heroku is nice so we are nice?
freddealmeida 4 days ago 0 replies      
Matz was rather excited to get the Heroku t-shirts last week. This is a few days before the RubyKaigi so the timing is indicative. I think Heroku wants some expansion in the Japanese Ruby market. (which is sadly still under-developed)
selvan 4 days ago 0 replies      
My ex-employer (a tech consulting company) tried to on-board him & I am assuming that Matz certainly have received offers from many other tech companies too..
Kudos to heroku for making offer that excited Matz.., it is an interesting move by Heroku..
trevorhartman 4 days ago 0 replies      
This has to be the most badass new hire announcement I've ever seen.
niravshah 4 days ago 1 reply      
That must have been a tough interview...
keke_ta 3 days ago 0 replies      
Great move! Congrats to Heroku.
adebelov 4 days ago 0 replies      
congrats to Jamie and team!
nanoanderson 4 days ago 5 replies      
So Heroku now owns Ruby.

Not that I think this will lead anywhere particularly bad.

Code.Google.com now supports git google.com
410 points by pixelbeat  1 day ago   74 comments top 15
cdibona 1 day ago 5 replies      
I'd say a better link is to the issue we marked 'fixed' :


Or to the project creation page:


We hope you like it.

shazow 1 day ago 3 replies      
That's great, but I'm still slowly moving my projects over to Github.

1. I get much more engagement from random developers on Github. On Github, random people will fork and add features, do code reviews and leave comments. All of these things are technically possible on Google Code but nobody does it"probably due to the usability but possibly also a cultural problem. Github has a strong culture of collaboration because they strongly emphasize it in the user's experience.

2. Managing forks and pull requests is easier on Github. I want my life as a maintainer to be as easy as possible.

3. Notifications: For a long time, Google Code notifications simply didn't work for me, at all. I'd randomly stumble on one of my older projects and noticed 5 new issues opened that I didn't know about, I felt like I betrayed my users for 6+ months. Now they seem like they do, but some trust has been lost.

4. Multiple choices of documentation markup on Github is appealing.

5. The code browsing feature on Google Code feels like its own application. When you open a Github project, first thing you see is the code. On Google Code it takes 2 more clicks (that's 1 more click than Bitbucket). Think about what's the most important thing here"the code, and Github got it right.

As far as version control goes, I'm happy with either Git or Mercurial.

cookiecaper 1 day ago 0 replies      
Lack of git support is one of the major things that has prevented me from using google code. I'm happy to hear it's resolved. :)
seanmccann 1 day ago 1 reply      
Are there really any reasons to use Google Code when GitHub is kicking so much ass?
kpanghmc 1 day ago 0 replies      
While I agree with the sentiment in this thread that developers aren't going to be flocking over from GitHub anytime soon, at the very least this should help keep GitHub motivated (not that they've given us any reason for concern thus far). Competition is a good thing.
flocial 20 hours ago 0 replies      
If they allowed private repos under your google data quota it would be a github killer because UI doesn't matter then and github is overpriced for that unless you throw all your code in one repo.
grandalf 1 day ago 0 replies      
Waiting to get invited to a Google Code drinkup.
riobard 1 day ago 0 replies      
Does anyone know if it supports authentication using SSH public key instead of another password?
zerosanity 1 day ago 2 replies      
Google Code's UI needs a lot of work. I just created a test project to try our git functionality. I closed my browser and went to a meeting. After an hour or so I come back, open my browser, and type in code.google.com. I get a nice page but no links to "my projects" or the like. After searching through links on the page I finally had to give up and had to type in the project URL (http://code.google.com/p/myproject) from memory.
diogoleal 15 hours ago 0 replies      
I like gthub.
MrMan 21 hours ago 0 replies      
I for one really like google code.
muloka 1 day ago 0 replies      
Hoorah! This is great news.
keke_ta 17 hours ago 0 replies      
That's awesome.
swasheck 1 day ago 0 replies      
MatthewPhillips 1 day ago 2 replies      
I see it also still supports horrible UI. Pass.
My experiences as a Recruiter on Hacker News voltsteve.blogspot.com
392 points by Peroni  4 days ago   114 comments top 33
edw519 4 days ago 3 replies      
How I deal with recruiters:

If they need understanding of the technology, I will gladly help them with that.

If they need understanding the domain knowledge, I will gladly help them with that.

If they need understanding of interpersonal, organizational, or "soft" issues, I will gladly help them with that.

If they want referrals, I will usually do what I can.

If they don't call back or follow up, I will eliminate them.

If they are ever dishonest in any way, shape, or form, I will eliminate them and tell everyone I know.

For a recruiter, brutal honesty can overcome any perceived weakness and enable others (even us hackers) to be on their side.

Steve, thanks for your brutal honesty here at hn. That's the best we could hope for and should be a model for any other recruiters lurking here. Respect.

Mz 4 days ago 1 reply      
I spent a lot of years being all helpful in public and had the living shit kicked out of me over it. So I spent a lot of time working on how to make peace with my internal wiring (where I am sincerely just a helpful person...and often wish I could gnaw my left arm off and escape this trap) and the kind of reactions that gets when acted on publicly. So this is my personal opinion about why this kind of thing, which you would think would be well received, typically goes over so very badly:

When speaking in public, especially on the internet, you are speaking to a very diverse crowd. It is inevitable that some of the people "listening" will have serious personal issues: They had abusive childhoods, they were badly burned in some way by someone "like" you in some way, they got taken advantage of in some gruesome fashion by someone claiming to offer help, they are still suffering for it, they are currently in an abusive situation of some sort...etc.

Any time someone as an individual offers publicly to personally do something for a bunch of total strangers, well, you can't equally "love" everyone. And some people have a very hard time accepting "love"/help...whatever you want to call it. I've worked hard at trying to put info on websites, instead of making public personal offers, in part to make it less personal. People can read it and see if it makes sense to them or not and it punches fewer of those buttons because it is more "information" and less "a person/personal favor". And someone will always be left out. You had to close the offer and only got to 80% of what was sent to you. The folks who didn't get something for free will feel (somewhat irrationally) kind of screwed over. You can't do that kind of thing for everyone. So it's best to handle things more discreetly.

I try to not make "blanket" public offers I can't back up. There isn't enough time in the day to give away everything for free to every single individual in need. I try to find ways to make the world a better place without it being so personal, without it being so much about me helping lots of other people individually. Because one of the things I have found is that making a personal offer like that gets read by the crowd as "ego". People think I am attention-mongering or something and if someone else hasn't had enough ego strokes for the day or I am threatening to steal their thunder or something, watch out! There will be hell to pay.

The people in the world who are in a lot of pain, so much pain they would piss on you to that degree, they need a lot more love and assistance than reading their resume is going to provide. And they basically feel like it's just not fair that others are getting what they need and they are not. I know that in part because I was an abused child and I spent a lot of years feeling angry and jealous and invisibly left out and so on. And it often struck me as cruel when other people would try to talk to me about things in a well meaning way but still could not/would not meet my needs. So if I can't genuinely help someone who is living with some kind of enormous suffering, I try hard to not step in it, to not say anything that will sound like rubbing their face in their suffering and all that they don't have. It's part of why I have left some of the health lists I have left: I got myself well and I share my story in hopes of helping others get well but it mostly gets rage and abuse heaped on me. I actually understand their emotional reaction: They are doomed to a cruel fate and my presence just makes them all the more painfully aware of how unfair it is. I still don't know how to resolve the situation. I don't feel right about withdrawing entirely and leaving them to their dire fate when I know it's possible to get healthier. But what I have been doing hasn't been terribly effective and seems to just rub salt in a very, very, very bad wound.

Anyway, this is not about "me". I just tell my story as an example, because I am still compulsively helpful and public lynchings have yet to cure me of that.


swombat 4 days ago 3 replies      
I don't want an apology on behalf of the very angry minority, not even close.

You may not want one, but you deserve one.

It's sad to see that even without the visibility of the mob amplifying itself in public, you still get a private lynching of sorts... Perhaps the same people who sent those emails can come out of the woodwork now and apologise. That'd be big of them.

bambax 4 days ago 3 replies      
Although I'm currently self-employed (and therefore neither trying to recruit or be recruited) I have dealt with recruiters before, both as a client and as a candidate.

I don't think recruiters are hated by their clients; they offer a service: an expensive service that they usually don't do very well, but they're willing to work hard, they can be called at any time, filter as many hundreds or thousands of CVs as needed, so it's not all bad.

The hate, I think, comes from the candidates. The reason is because recruiters treat candidates as meat, and it shows. It's not just a problem of domain expertise, it's a problem of human compassion.

I read a study a while ago that showed that people don't sue incompetent doctors more than others, even when faced with complications; they sue doctors who they think don't care about them.

Recruiters don't need PhDs, they need to be perceived as caring (and the most straight way to acheive that is to actually care).

thaumaturgy 4 days ago 0 replies      
1. Unfortunately, one of the consequences of anonymity is that it allows people to not be responsible for their actions. That's endemic to any anonymous forum; the only thing that varies is the level and amount of abuse. Anonymity has its advantages, but this is an inescapable disadvantage.

2. People's reading comprehension aren't perfect, or even all that great. People -- myself included -- often seem to miss points being made in discussions and subsequently leap to conclusions that are usually a result of some combination of their own mood, biases, and prejudices.

3. I personally don't see anything wrong with you doing recruiting work here -- so long as you advertise it clearly as such and make it entirely opt-in. i.e., there are monthly posts on HN for people looking for work (freelance and otherwise), and as long as you were clear and asked them ahead of time if they were interested, it shouldn't be a problem. That's just my take on it though, others here may have some strong aversion to recruiters or something.

You do have a lot of value to offer here, you just have to be careful about that line between offering value and taking advantage -- just as everyone else does here.

michael_dorfman 4 days ago 0 replies      
I know this wasn't a pity post, and that you're not looking for an apology, but I just have to say, I'm a bit disappointed that some portion of the community interpreted took time out of their busy day to give you flack for an act of kindness, when you specifically set things up in a way to show that your intentions were altruistic.

Your original post was classy, as was this follow-up. Well done, sir.

patio11 4 days ago 1 reply      
I am sorry that members of the community treated you shabbily.
mgkimsal 4 days ago 3 replies      
@peroni - this is a little offtopic, but hopefully not too much, and I'd like your opinion.

Many other creative disciplines offer agents/managers/handlers for the 'creative' - think sports players, writers, actors, bands, etc. I've been wondering if a model like this would work in the tech industry for developers. I'm not sure developers would go for it, since many tend to have a 'DIY' attitude about everything.

What I see in the agent model is that someone follows you and your career for the long haul, and finds you work that helps advance your careers (gets you better parts in projects, better gigs for the band, etc). I've never met a recruiter that has kept in touch with me for more than a month or so after a successful placement. They're only working for the employer, because that's who pays them.

Would developers be willing to fork over 10% of their pay to an agent who negotiated better pay and benefits for them, helped get better gigs, etc? As attractive as this model sounds on paper, I'm wondering if this has a snowball's chance of working.


Oh, and thanks for your offer to the group, even if it was abused by a few people. I do this occasionally for members of our local php user group, and it's fun to help people understand how to promote themselves more positively. :) Never done it on the scale you did, and can't imagine the time/effort involved!

alain94040 4 days ago 1 reply      
The hate mail is weird. I made a similar offer two years ago (http://blog.fairsoftware.net/2009/05/13/being-a-new-cs-grad-...), received a lot of resumes, and I can't remember receiving even one complaint.
trotsky 4 days ago 1 reply      
even if we aren't one of the 'cool crowd'

Funny what a difference a couple of decades makes. Saying something like that in 1991 about programmers would have been obvious, biting sarcasm.

maxklein 4 days ago 0 replies      
The problem with hate mail is that it's a lot more affecting than positive mail. The best way to deal with it is simply to smile and delete. Everyone is entitled to their opinion - but they are not entitled to change _your_ life.
mike-cardwell 4 days ago 0 replies      
Every community has idiots. The ones who emailed you can be easily dismissed as fools, but the guy who phoned your company went too far and owes you an apology and explanation. Stuff like that can seriously affect peoples lives and is totally unnecessary.
MattBearman 4 days ago 1 reply      
I think we can safely say it's a tiny minority of HN users that would respond in that manner.

I'm glad to see you've come back to HN, and although you say you don't want an apology, I hope those responsible (especially the one who phoned your boss) do apologise to you.

I'd like to say its a shame recruiters have such a bad rep, but 99% of the ones I've dealt with have been a lot more interested in getting their commission than getting me the right job.

That said, I've met some genuinely awesome recruiters, and you seem like one of those, so keep fighting the good fight :)

josefresco 4 days ago 1 reply      
Honestly the one takeaway I got from this is that there are roughly 45 active HNers that I absolutely do not want to interact with.

While I know Peroni will never share those email addresses (he's much to polite) I somehow wish we could see which users are that rude/psycho to send this guy hate mail and stalk him (albeit online with the exception of the one nutcase who called his boss)

skimbrel 4 days ago 1 reply      
Wow. I'm no huge fan of recruiters, but I'd also never send anonymous hate mail to one. Sorry you had to deal with that, and I'm glad you're making the effort to stick around on HN.

If I can ask one question, though: Why do some recruiters seem keen on ignoring the phrase "I'm not interested in new opportunities at this time"? I have set my LinkedIn profile to say this, and it's the first thing out of my mouth when I get cold-called, but there are some who are not stopped by it. It'd go a long way in my view if recruiters would simply take it at face value when I tell them I'm not interested at the moment.

allantyoung 4 days ago 1 reply      
It's unfortunate a few knuckleheads decided to "teach you a lesson." You can't please everyone.

Thank you for wanting to contribute to the community and giving a gift to people who were not confident of their CVs and resumes. I'm sure you were able to help at least one person drastically change their CV for the better.

Can you elaborate on your "edge" when you worked as a recruiter with a tech background?

run4yourlives 4 days ago 1 reply      
A couple of things struck me about this post.

First, the hate mail. I'm happy that you're taking it in stride, but personally, I think all of the hate mail senders should be outed and their accounts removed from HackerNews. (Yes, I know they can just make a new one.) This community shouldn't tolerate this type of bullying - which is exactly what this is - and resetting karma to zero and forcing people to own up to their actions in public is the type of response I'd think appropriate.

Second, given the response, there is clearly a huge demand here. Perhaps a business opportunity is worth exploring in this context? People are clearly not getting the feedback they need from existing services. I wonder if there is some sort of "pay per submission" service that could be linked to reputation to facilitate CV/resume reviews... like linked in without the recruiters. Obviously needs more thought but there's definitely something there given the interest you received.

xxjaba 4 days ago 0 replies      
Being the son of a recruiter and a software developer myself I've had the pleasure of meeting many good recruiters and many bad ones. I've noticed that the key differentiator between the two is that good recruiters understand how to build solid relationships with people that are based on trust, honesty, and integrity with mutual financial gain being necessary but not the foundation of the relationship.

Bad recruiters build relationships based on mutual financial gain and little else.

In the short term the bad recruiters often come out on top since treating people as numbers leads to higher short-term throughput, but long term the solid relationships are what will make a recruiter a success. They are what lead to referrals both from managers and candidates, allow bad news to be communicated without hesitation or undue stress (as honesty is a basis of the relationship), and best of all move with the recruiter as they change firms and grow as a professional.

I very much look forward to seeing your post about how being a software developer gives you an edge over your peers in the recruiting industry.

donaq 4 days ago 0 replies      
People like you make HN worth visiting. Good luck with your startup!
44Aman 4 days ago 1 reply      
It always amazes me how people will actually take time out of their day to personally abuse someone. Great response post and best of luck with your recruiting!
Alan01252 4 days ago 1 reply      
I was one of the few guys who missed out. :( If you do ever get round to it, it would be greatly appreciated still.

I also appreciate this follow up post, I looked a couple of times at the previous user name and realised you'd stopped commenting. It did make me think at the time maybe it was a (rather elaborate)scam to harvest C.V's after all. I'm glad to know I was well and truly wrong.

martswite 4 days ago 1 reply      
A nice article. It's a shame that people misunderstood your intentions regardless of how clear you were. I'd say you deserve an apology.

Just from reading this article my perceptions of recruiters has changed slightly, though I fear recruiters such as yourself are few and far between? Hope your start-up becomes what you want it to be. Good luck Peroni

praptak 4 days ago 0 replies      
Hats off to you, OP for not having gotten discouraged by the hate. Rock on.
tomjen3 4 days ago 2 replies      
I understand why those persons send you that email (not that I agree with it). Wild guess only one or two of the CVs had the personal details removed?

It would seem to be an excellent scam and since there are 80k visitors to HN, it isn't strange that a few tenths of a percent of the userbase should have encountered really unethical recruiters and be mad enough to do something about it.

Just the way things are, I guess.

agilebyte 4 days ago 1 reply      
Great post Steve! I guess much like some developers contribute to open source software projects, 1 recruiter wants to do the same in his field.

Looking forward to meeting you on the next HN London meetup.

roel_v 4 days ago 1 reply      
I think you're entirely within your right to post the abuser's email addresses / HN handles on your blog or elsewhere.
Valien 4 days ago 1 reply      
Good post. I spent 3 years in the Tech Recruiting industry. Did sales, recruiting for both direct-hire and contract. There are a lot of bad apples out there because it's a low-barrier career. But solid recruiters are a gem and take care of their candidates. Most good recruiters make more money than most developers out there and know their industry well. There are those that are idiots and don't know jack about IT (I'm an IT guy so I did well and understood candidates and clients).

Reason I got out of it was that my passion is in IT so I got back into that world. Now I get to listen to shoddy recruiters calling me and I usually laugh at them... :D

So ignore the bad candidates and focus on the good ones. They are the ones that will put food on your table.

scdc 4 days ago 1 reply      
You were smart to tell your boss ahead of time.
ajennings 4 days ago 1 reply      
Thanks for coming back!

If there were any "common themes" in the resumes you reviewed or if you have any general advice for the HN crowd regarding resumes, I would love to hear them.

shailesh 4 days ago 0 replies      
I'm sorry to learn that you're were treated in a rather indecent manner by some; hopefully the immature response of those folks doesn't deter your noble initiative.
Uchikoma 4 days ago 0 replies      
341 * 20 * 0.8 = 5456 minutes of reading CVs.

Looks like a lot of work.

Uchikoma 4 days ago 0 replies      
341 * 20 * 0.8 = 5456 minutes.

Looks like a lot of work.

jsavimbi 4 days ago 1 reply      
No good deed goes unpunished.

Also, stop calling me; I'm not interested in working with Flash/Flex, servlets and C# on a Tcl app for a Fortune 500 company within 200 miles of my local area.

Rapid DHCP: Or, how do Macs get on the network so fast? cafbit.com
339 points by timdoug  4 days ago   180 comments top 30
saurik 4 days ago  replies      
> This network recognition technique allows the Mac to very rapidly discover if it is connected to a known network. If the network is recognized (and presumably if the Mac knows that the DHCP lease is still active), it immediately and presumptuously configures its IP interface with the address it knows is good for this network.

Ok, seriously? That isn't a bug in an implementation somewhere, but in fact a feature that Apple actually is proud of? Am I the only one who finds that if you get a room full of people sitting around with Macs at least one person gets their IP address stolen by someone else?

(edit: I just got downvoted, and then asked the people in the room with me, and they seemed to agree with my perceived correlation regarding the "another computer is using" issue... instead of just downvoting, maybe reply? It is actually quite common that DHCP leases on a network get reset for various reasons, and if you just jump on the network without revalidating your lease, you are actually quite likely to just "presumptuously" steal someone else's IP address.)

pinko 4 days ago 2 replies      
This is a great example of Apple's detail-oriented focus on real-world user experience, and helps explain why people prefer Macs even if they can't always explain why. Lots of little things just work better. You (where "you" == myself and many others, even if not /you/ personally) are left overall with an experience of less frustration.
lurker19 4 days ago 0 replies      
I do not appreciate when my Mac just guesses a network setup and lies about being online instead of just waiting to see what is really there.

It not fun to delete or rename a wifi network while debugging connectivity issues, only to have m Mac lie and say it is still connected to the network that no longer exists.

dotBen 4 days ago 1 reply      
There already exists a minimal DHCP client implementation in the Linux kernel, but it lacks certain features such as configuring the DNS nameservers.

I wonder if it is possible to use the kernel-level DHCP client to instantly request the IP address while asynchronously initiating the more functional user-mode dhclient?

Once dhclient is up, and the kernel DHCP client has obtained an IP address it could just pass that to the DHClient to make another DHCP request with the same IP but the additional DNS nameservers, etc. The DHCP server would just see this as a re-request for the same IP address from the same MAC address and would just re-ACK.

This would save the time it takes to initiate dhclient to then perform the initial IP address check + request.

EDIT: in fact, I don't get (from the OP's link) why dhclient couldn't just be forced to accept the IP address passed to it by the kernel DHCP client, and bind it with the nameservers/any other info locally without needing to make another round-trip to the DHCP server.

thought_alarm 4 days ago 0 replies      
One of my favorite features from way back involved running a local X Server and a number of remote X clients tunneling over ssh. I close the lid, pick up the laptop and go for lunch. Come back and open the lid and wifi is reconnected immediately and the remote X clients and SSH shells are still alive and active.

And that was 6 years ago on a PPC iBook.

kenjackson 4 days ago 3 replies      
This implementation by the Mac feels wrong. I mean it appears to work, but it seems like a violation of the protocol and can result in problems on the network. Maybe security issues (?). I'm not an expert in any of these things, but I'd love to hear a network protocol/security experts take on this.
troels 4 days ago 4 replies      
Anecdotally, my mac is absolutely horrible at connecting to my wifi. I often have to try multiple times and some times I give up, have to walk over to the router and restart it before I can get on. Probably an issue with the router ultimately, but I don't have this problem with other devices.
pieter 4 days ago 0 replies      
Another nice trick of OS X is its use of IPv6, also for its multicast DNS (Bonjour) networking. This means you can have a bonjour session up and running long before you have an IPv4 address, especially in the absence of a DHCP server. It's what allows plugging a network cable between two macs and immediately start using NFS.
ryannielsen 3 days ago 0 replies      
I'd like one person who's claiming this behavior is causing networking issues, is non standard, or is a security risk to provide proof.

Suppose for a second that Apple's networking stack ruined things for other users, were in violation of standards, or insecure. They'd be lambasted. Furthermore, their users would have a sub-par experience. Bad press and, more importantly, a poor user experience are two things Apple tries to minimize. They'll only put up with bad press when they perceive it to be at the long-term benefit of their business, as with the iOS App Store. I assert this is not one of those cases.

What seems more likely is that Apple decided device connectivity and wake-from-sleep performance is paramount, and then aggressively optimize to ensure Apple devices are awake and connected as quickly as possible. Period.

Users hate waiting for a machine (or phone) to wake up and, once awake, they hate waiting for it to be usable. It seems Apple saw this pain point and decided to do something about it. And, as breaking standards compliance or introducing security risks would do nothing more than bring bad press and anger or frighten users, they almost certainly optimized in a standards-compliant and secure manner.

I'm happy to be proven wrong. In the meantime, I'm going to appreciate the attention to detail and respect the work that went into providing this experience.

hardtke 4 days ago 2 replies      
I've sat in many a meeting where the Macs "steal" all of the DHCP connections and I'm stuck watching the speaker instead of following TweetDeck.
flogic 4 days ago 2 replies      
Rather than asking why the mac is so fast, the correct question is "why the hell is dhcpcd so slow?". There's a full second before it does anything.
leoh 4 days ago 1 reply      
Does anyone remember this? Princeton Information Technology: "iPhone OS 3.2 on iPad Stops Renewing DHCP Lease, Keeps Using IP Address"


thecombjelly 4 days ago 1 reply      
Interesting. I have Arch Linux running on a Asus Eee pc and I was always happy that it was connected and ready to go as soon as I woke it up from sleep (including WiFi). I can access the internet within a second of waking it up. I'm using NetworkManager and I wonder if it isn't doing something similar? But then everyone else on Linux is claiming it takes much longer.
ZoFreX 4 days ago 1 reply      
It seems a little unscientific to compare logs from one machine connecting to a new networking and having to get a lease to another connecting to a network it's been on before.
zwieback 3 days ago 0 replies      
Are there any examples of corporate networks that would reject this approach? I worked on a project in a Wi-Fi environment in a warehouse and the network admins of the company pored over sniffer logs in great detail. Excessive ARP probes and non-standard DHCP behavior was especially frowned upon. I'm pretty sure the early ARP requests would have caught their attention.

It gets really problematic if you have several APs servicing one network. What to do if the client roams from one AP to another AP with the same ESSID? Assume it's the same network, in which case you can keep your IP or do you have to redo your ARP or the whole DHCP thing? In our case the client wanted to suppress everything including the ARP but in a general case that's probably not good, especially if the network is called 'linksys'.

Might be interesting to try with a Mac.

mgkimsal 4 days ago 1 reply      
Interesting on the perspectives here. My macbook is faster at reconnecting than my linux laptop was, but it's still a few seconds. When I'm opening the lid, I typically still need to wait 2-4 seconds before the network is usable, sometimes it's a bit more. In comparison, it's still faster, but not 'instantaneous' as some people seem to suggest. Neither of my macbooks have been "instant" (but again, certainly faster than other hardware I've owned).
dhess 4 days ago 1 reply      
When coming out of sleep, my Macs often get a new computer name in the form of a " (N)" suffix; e.g., a Mac named "vision" will come out of sleep and mysteriously change its name (as reported in System Preferences->Sharing) to "vision (2)", then "vision (3)" after a subsequent sleep, etc.

It's annoying. I wonder if this rapid DHCP implementation has anything to do with that.

juliano_q 4 days ago 1 reply      
The mac implementation is good for 99% of the times, since it is really fast, but the 1% of the times that it steals an ip adress it is really a pain in the ass. I don't mind to wait a few seconds to get a connection in the stardard way.
jrsmith1279 4 days ago 1 reply      
I've always wondered why my Mac jumps right on the network, while other devices such as my Xbox 360 take a few seconds before the connection is there.

I'd be interested to see how the Google Chrome CR-48 handles DHCP since it seems like it takes a bit of time before getting online and allowing me to log in to it.

TomLimoncelli 3 days ago 0 replies      
Yes, someone may have joined the network at your old IP address but that's ok. That first ARP is going to determine if that has happened already.

Am I right?

The author should try the same ethernet sniffing experiment but put a machine at the old address and see how the algorithm adapts.

signa11 3 days ago 0 replies      
reading the title i thought this has to do with RFC-4039 a.k.a rapid-commit-option for DHCP, which basically allows clients to acquire configuration parameters in 2-message exchanges rather than the usual 4...
secure 4 days ago 1 reply      
So, as far as I understand, the issue pointed out here is that the Mac is sending ARP requests with a cached source IP address (which therefore could be already in use).

I wonder why it does that, as you can also send ARP probes originating from a source IP address (and only having the MAC address set). I just tried it on linux:

arping -D -c 1 -I wlan0

The computer with will happily send me back its MAC address.

So, is Apple doing something else here? Maybe relying on the router to not poison its cache and not reply at all if the IP is already taken.

e98cuenc 3 days ago 0 replies      
Everybody is discussing whether Apple is cheating and whether is it worth it, compared to the speed of connection of the Galaxy (0.03s vs 11s).

Note that the Galaxy takes more than 10s to connect because is trying to be clever. If it started just doing the DHCP negotiation it will get an IP in 0.7s.

Are the problems Apple devices create really worth saving 0.7 - 0.03s?

BTW, 0.7s is an awful long time to get an IP. Anybody knows why a router takes so long to answer?

nickzoic 2 days ago 0 replies      
A second used to be a short time, now it seems like a thousand milliseconds.

You might find RFC 4429 IPv6 "Optimistic Duplicate Address Detection" interesting ...

satori99 4 days ago 0 replies      
Is this a genuine problem for any non Mac users?

I do no use any Apple operating systems, but I have never had an issue with WIFI connection and address assignment times on any platform that I have used with regularity.

On both windows and linux I am connected before I can even start an application.

smackfu 4 days ago 1 reply      
I wonder if Apple has a patent on this technique.
known 3 days ago 0 replies      
# /etc/init.d/networking restart
swale 4 days ago 0 replies      
th0ma5 4 days ago 1 reply      
"This whole notion of being so proprietary in every facet of what we do has really hurt us." Steve Jobs, circa 1997
jarek 4 days ago 1 reply      
Congratulations! Your laptop does the equivalent of using the exit lane to jump ahead in traffic. There's bound to be an empty spot near the end, right?
PuTTY 0.61 released tartarus.org
330 points by yankcrime  3 days ago   101 comments top 19
pavpanchekha 3 days ago 2 replies      
You know, PuTTY has always been one of those tools I never consciously considered as being "developed". In the same way as the "mv" command never was. Maybe I'm being naive. But PuTTY has always done exactly what I ask of it, without fail, and my complaints about it are few and trivial. So what if it has not been updated in four years? It's not like the SSH standard changes often. Personally, I am proud of the PuTTY folks for creating a product that did not need a release for four years.
unwind 3 days ago 3 replies      
Somehow I'm comforted that there's still room in the open source universe for a project that hasn't released an update in four years. It's oddly comforting, and serves as a nice change of tone from the common "release early, release often" mantra.

I'm all for releasing early, but for many open source developers (myself included) life has a tendency to get in the way sometimes, causing focus to move away from one's projects. Of course, I haven't looked up the details of the PuTTY folks now, but from the release notes it sounds as if they at least aren't getting paid do to PuTTY.

TeMPOraL 3 days ago 1 reply      
From changelog:

  - On Windows: the Appearance panel now includes a checkbox to allow
the selection of non-fixed-width fonts(...) Thanks
to Randall Munroe for a serious suggestion that inspired this.

This Randall Munroe? I guess the word "serious" is not by accident there :D.

guelo 3 days ago 7 replies      
PuTTY is so much better just at the UI level than Window's command prompt that I wish stuff like Cygwin and msysgit could use it instead. Unfortunately it doesn't seem the code is very modular.
lightweb 3 days ago 1 reply      
My most favorite sysadmin tool on Windows is mRemoteNG (http://www.mremoteng.org/). It integrated Putty for SSH, but also gives you RDP, Citrix, FTP, HTTP, etc, all integrated with tabs and passwords automatically sent for login.

It's the one Windows-only tool that I wish worked cross-platform.

Radim 3 days ago 0 replies      
Duke Nukem Forever has been released. PuTTY has been updated.

A memorable year!

darklajid 3 days ago 2 replies      
Awww.. I was reading the list of new features and on ever 'Windows:' my heart stopped a beat. Unfortunately no cookie for me..

I was really hoping for a way to have a windows equivalent of ssh controlmaster.

On the bright side: PuTTY is part of my toolbelt for ages and I cannot live without it. I'm glad to read that it's still alive and being developed.

WalterGR 3 days ago 0 replies      
SSH-2 window management has also been revised to reduce round trip delays during any large-volume data transfer (including port forwardings as well as SFTP/SCP)

Doing a quick test, I'm seeing that PuTTY 0.61 speeds up SFTP downloads of already compressed data by a factor of 4 compared to PuTTY 0.60. Fantastic!

elliottcarlson 3 days ago 0 replies      
While PuTTY is a great lightweight application, I tend to use Penguinet for all my Windows based SSHing needs. Not free like PuTTY but well worth the ±$24 (GBP 15) - http://www.siliconcircus.com/
figital 3 days ago 0 replies      
I love you PuTTy. Even though I haven't used Windows in a few years I occasionally have to sit down at someone else's machine and .... there you are! :)
magoon 3 days ago 0 replies      
this is a huge deal for me. i've been waiting/hoping for these two changes:

"Windows 7 jump lists are now supported so you can launch saved sessions directly from the taskbar."

"Corruption of data transferred over port forwardings is _probably_ fixed "

blinkingled 3 days ago 0 replies      
Putty is far too simplistic on its own and the various mods and addons don't really work that well.

I switched to TeraTERM recently and it solves most of my problems - remembers sessions, passwords, has tabs and is stable enough.

liquid_x 3 days ago 0 replies      
* Support for Windows 7's new user interface features.
Working with jumplists
aculver 3 days ago 10 replies      
Flashback! Is PuTTY still standard issue for folks on Windows?
doodyhead 2 days ago 0 replies      
Alternative download link here:


Garbage 3 days ago 0 replies      
jwarzech 3 days ago 0 replies      
One of the first things I put on any new flash drive: http://code.google.com/p/portaputty/ Portable version of putty
natmaster 3 days ago 1 reply      
Where can I find a 64-bit installer?
Garbage 3 days ago 2 replies      
I have downloaded the latest version zip. When I am clicking on putty.exe icon, Putty screen doesn't come up. I can see the process running in taskbar, but no window is shown.

However, if I start putty.exe using command line with parameter <host_name> I can see the window.

I am using 32 bit Windows XP SP3 on Intel x86

Strange, because previous version was working perfectly fine! Anybody experiencing same?

Why I left Google. What happened to my book. What I work on at Facebook. thinkoutsidein.com
314 points by csmajorfive  3 days ago   79 comments top 12
clobber 3 days ago  replies      
Sigh. I feel like a lot of people in this generation are using their talents thinking up new ways to get users to click ads. Myself included.
gojomo 3 days ago 2 replies      
Given what Adams says about the book's contents (no proprietary information) and the prior written permission, it's hard to see how Google could block its publication.

Google could request their name not be used to imply any endorsement, and perhaps raise a stink about the similarity in title to their now prominent feature.

But prevent the publishing of its contents? On what basis? (Threats of disfavoring the publishing house in the future?)

Even if the book did have trade secrets, our legal system isn't big on placing prior restraint on authors/publishers.

ChuckMcM 3 days ago 2 replies      
Go Paul! Having experienced the 'its not a great idea until someone with an Employee # < threshold has endorsed and/or invented it' first hand, I totally understand how weird that all feels. Glad you did the right thing and got to a better place.
ignifero 3 days ago 2 replies      
He was probably ill fit for a company that "values technology, not social science" - I love google for that. And i think changing careers is always rewarding. What's more interesting is his thoughts about how the "web is being fundamentally rebuilt around people". Personally, i would not like to see that happen. The value of the web for me comes exactly because it's the information that matters, not who said it and what others think of it. I also see the ubiquity of identity information to be a blocker for radically free thinking, a factor that has given great value to the content of the web till now. It's good to have social networks for those who want to use the internet as a communication medium, but i personally dislike the way social networks become omnipresent.
redthrowaway 3 days ago 1 reply      
>Many of you have asked me why my book ‘Social Circles‘ was delayed

>The good news is that I'm channeling this frustrating experience towards a better place, and am writing a new book. It's called Grouped

Anyone think that's a coincidence?

dusklight 3 days ago 0 replies      
Hey so we know that facebook has hired PR people to try to make google look bad .. what's up with these recent anti-google posts from ex-googlers? Can anyone verify that these posts weren't paid for?
gabaix 3 days ago 1 reply      
Paul Adams' last year presentation on Slideshare had a huge impact on my work designing social products. He really put it out there the frustations caused by Facebook. I am really glad he joined Facebook to work on those problems. I can't wait for his new book to come out.
pratster 3 days ago 3 replies      
interesting timing of this "blog post"...Facebook's PR machine has been known to go to great extents in the past. Hopefully the author was not influenced by that.
TY 3 days ago 1 reply      
Quite disappointed that Google has blocked release of Paul's book, even post G+ release.

I guess "don't be evil" does not apply to this case in the house of Google. Sad.

class_vs_object 3 days ago 2 replies      
nothing says "open" like blocking publication of a book
tszming 3 days ago 0 replies      
>> Google is an engineering company, and as a researcher or designer, it's very difficult to have your voice heard at a strategic level.

So the answer? http://www.facebook.com/designjobs/

ananthrk 3 days ago 0 replies      
The earlier book was called "Social Circles" and the new one is called "Grouped"? :)
Is There Anything Good About Men? fsu.edu
307 points by simonsarris  1 day ago   196 comments top 28
credo 1 day ago 1 reply      
Previous submissions and interesting discussions at http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=589346 and http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=1634955

The first submission points to http://denisdutton.com/baumeister.htm which has the same post with better formatting than this submission)

JonnieCache 1 day ago  replies      
The problem with this essay is that is paints us as slaves to our genes. Since Dawkins became fashionable, it is now normal to portray human beings as nothing more than meat-based mechanisms for storing and transporting DNA.

This idea is dangerously embedded in society now, and it risks creating a self-fulfilling prophecy of barbarism. What possible motivation does one have for behaving in a manner other than that of an animal, if society is telling me that I cannot do so, and that any internal experience I might have of doing so is an illusion? How is it even possible to behave in a non-animalistic manner once you have internalised these ideas?

Look into the history of George Price, one of the key figures in actually developing a lot of the stuff that Dawkins popularised:


The interesting part is how he spent the latter part of his life systematically giving away all his possessions to the poor in a guilt-ridden attempt to deny his own theories and to act against the interests of his genes. He eventually killed himself. The graphic method he chose to do so also comes across as an attempt to visibly deny his own ideas.

On an entirely separate note, all this talk of inter-gender differences is useless without some consideration of their scale relative to intra-gender differences.

Once you realise that the range in behaviour between members of the same gender is bigger than the difference in behaviour between members of different genders, by quite some way, this whole argument becomes a lot less compelling.

kqr2 1 day ago 0 replies      
The author expanded his original essay into a book:


scythe 1 day ago  replies      
Obvious problem: Genghis Khan is dead. The fact that a full third of Asia and consequently a sixth of the whole world has some genetic similarity to Genghis Khan does not make him any less dead. Evolution is not teleological and genes do not "want". Genes just happen; they're chemicals. Working to ensure the continuation of your genes is not mandated or valuable -- it is likely. Your parents probably did, because you exist, and most people are like their parents; modus ponens you probably will. It's not a command or an idea or a system of value, it's a description.

The other obvious problem is that societies which played into the competitive heirarchy were only successful for some weird definitions of successful. If the Mongol empire is your idea of success, you have some crazy ideas about success, because the empire flared up and disappeared within 100 years, leaving Asia in ruins. On the other hand, the British and their methodical boringness not only conquered the world but lived to tell of it, and they did so largely by exploiting the willingness of less organized and "fair" societies to turn on each other -- how, precisely, did the tiny island of Britain conquer all of India (which had 20 times as many people)? Mostly because the Indians of the 19th century were backstabbing assholes:


And how were the British kicked out of India? Well, by none other than some pacifist self-sacrificing guy named Mohandas Gandhi.

tariqk 1 day ago 6 replies      
First off, the author misrepresents the idea of patriarchy as a "conspiracy of men to subjugate women". That's not how I've heard how it's been defined. Patriarchy/kyriarchy, roughly put, is a series of assumptions and privileges provided to a segment of the population, often at the expense of everyone else.

It's not, as far as I can see, a conspiracy -- i.e. a secret plan hatched by a clandestine group that goes against a larger society's interests. You can have a pat/kyriarchy where each member acts on their own best interests, and yet the results of that unfairly disadvantage certain groups.

A good example of the kind of decentralised, mass-action that disenfranchises a particular social group or class can be found in Michael Young's coining of the word "meritocracy", and how, through the collective action of a group of self-interested actors, a particular social group can be disenfranchised or demoralised. It doesn't require secrets, it doesn't require conspiracies, as a matter of fact it just requires everyone acting to their own best interests.

Secondly, the author doesn't make a convincing argument that the fact that the reason why men get all the risk and all the reward is because of something innate, instead of a self-perpetuating social system that actively encourages one gender to risk it all and reap the rewards, while holding back the other gender to mediocrity and risk-free existences. The possibility is raised for a few sentences, and discarded, as if it's ridiculous, and it's obvious that the reasons are inherent.

Since the arguments in the rest of the post requires me to buy the above premise without conclusively eliminating social mores and non-innate possibilities, I didn't bother reading the rest of the article.

Incidentally, as a member of a nation that was born out of British Colonialism, the statement "the British Empire did a lot more good than harm" is a disgusting, privileged statement that really doesn't elicit much more than pitying contempt from me. Since of course we wouldn't have known what our lives would have been without John Company coming down to "civilise" our barbarian asses, obviously the only feelings we should be having is gratitude, especially since we owe our broken conception of race and ethnicity, our de-facto one-party rule since we gained independence from our Magnanimous Masters, our police force, more intent in beating down dissent and enforcing "public order" that is beneficial to only the ruling class and no one else, to organisations, concepts and social structures derived from British rule.

That's right; it was this or barbarism. Yeah, I hope it helps you sleep at night too, jerk.

madaxe 18 hours ago 0 replies      
" we may need to legislate the principle of equal pay for less work. Personally, I support that principle."

There has never been a more revulsive "principle".

k_kisiel 16 hours ago 0 replies      
Hi all, earth rotated, greetings from another side of the globe. There are many good points in the article, but not this one:

"Communal (including communist) countries remain primitive and poor, whereas the rich, advanced nations have gotten where they are by means of economic exchange."

From European (continental) perspective, that statement is false. Rich countries in Europe (Germany, Switzerland, Sweden, Norway etc.) are observably more communal than poorer countries. Division is not between the former Communist countries vs. other countries. Among the former the more communal, bourgeois-oriented Czech Republic has bigger GDP per capita than more individualistic, nobility-oriented Hungary or Poland. More communal means richer, how weird! Why is that?

My favorite theory explaining it is based on historical military considerations - countries in mainland Europe have long land borders other countries of approximately equal size and development level. In order to maintain sovereignty a country (or other "culture" as defined in the article, say independent city) needs as many soldiers as possible. So it pays to offer free medical care and welfare to the population so that all citizens are stay in good health and can, if necessary, defend the country and it's culture. So it was beneficial to the country to divide resources more equally rather than based on equity. Prime example is Switzerland which was founded in exactly these circumstances and look where they are: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_GDP_(PPP)_....

Aloisius 1 day ago 2 replies      
I had no idea that the dominant view today was that women are better than men. It is my view and I haven't dissected all the reasons why I think that, but a lot of it comes from seeing so many men at the bottom. Biology wasn't kind to a huge percentage of men.

I do find it true that men seem to try harder to be different, to entertain, to exceed and to impress. The top is dominated by cocky people and there aren't a lot of cocky women.

Now is that biology or society? I have no idea. Is there a society on the planet where women have to impress men to get any attention? Do lesbians rise higher than straight women because they have to impress other women to stand out?

mitcheme 1 day ago  replies      
What I dislike about these kinds of "evolutionary" arguments is that they tend to assume that the differences between the genders are genetic, even when there's no evidence for that. Even as late as the Victorian ages, several of the traits we now think of as immutable part of being male or female were swapped around. For the Victorians, blue was for girls and pink was for boys, and all women had the potential to become insatiable, incurable beasts for sex, one reason it was so important to keep chaste. This model of sexuality fit what the people experienced in their daily lives, just as ours does to us, and they had their studies that revealed women who enjoyed sex far more than was proper. Compare the here-and-now with every other culture in the history of the planet, and most of our "innate" traits turn out not to be. It makes it very difficult to take the "innate" people seriously.

I don't think it's that surprising that so many women are opposed to the idea that we're essentially designed to live out our whole lives hidden in the private sphere. Especially when you consider the 1950s, when (white, middle-to-upper class) women were "free" to do just that. They were miserable. I know I would have been miserable too. There's a reason the Feminine Mystique exists, and the 50s housewife who drowns herself in a bottle of booze is a cliche. For most people, that's just not enough to make a fulfilling life by itself. Even women today who are SAHMs have other things going on than taking care of their household, husband, and kids. He implies that it's somehow detrimental to our survival if women like me are free to create lives that don't make us deeply unhappy. If this arrangement had been as cooperative and nice as the author claims, how does feminism fit in? If we were happy inside the home, why did women look up and think, "I want to be a CEO" in the first place? Why did they not all look up and say, "I'm glad I don't have to do that, it looks stressful"? Given that it was their job to take care of the CEOs and other assorted businessmen after they came home stressed from work, it's not as though they didn't realize the drawbacks. Vacuuming is just not meaningful work.

Guys, if you lived in a time where your choices were to latch onto a woman for financial support or pick a low-paying unskilled job, because everyone believed you were genetically incapable of doing anything better, would that be OK with you? Or would you find it personally offensive? What if they said you were incapable of making art, and labelled any creative work made by men as not art in order to reinforce that? (In the case of women, that's tapestries, embroideries, and pottery, for a start.) What if our default model of "real" sex was stuff women liked more than men (random, probably inaccurate example: doll up for us, dance for us, an hour of groping, grinding, and oral, PIV at the end optional), and "all men were frigid" because for some reason they found it less interesting than women? Come on. Women are people, like you; empathy applies. The old ways were awful.

reasonattlm 1 day ago 0 replies      
Apparently the existence of men, or more accurately some portions of the male genome coupled with the processes of epigenetic imprinting, is shortening everyone's lifespan. See:




For what it's worth.

frankus 1 day ago 0 replies      
The question this article raises for me is whether the strategy of out-breeding every other culture is going to continue to be a successful one at cultural level in the near future. The article suggests that it was, at least in the distant past.

It seems like the most successful cultures today (measured by standard of living, anyway) are no longer those with the fastest-growing populations. China (strictly speaking a nation and not a culture) explicitly embraced a policy of slowing population growth, but I'm not knowledgable enough to have an opinion on how complete a success it has been.

The interesting thing about culture in the modern age is that it is increasingly divorced from the genetic makeup of its members. If someone who is genetically foreign (to the extent that such a thing is possible) moves to the US and assimilates, their "home culture" has lost a member and "American culture" has gained one (leaving aside the plausibility of this scenario the current insanity of the US immigration system). If this "cultural switcher" phenomenon is large enough to overwhelm birthrate effects we could see culture shaped by some very different forces than in the past.

jongraehl 1 day ago 0 replies      
The author, Roy Baumeister, is behind the best-known research in willpower training/depletion - see http://jonathan.graehl.org/mitigating-ego-depletion and http://jonathan.graehl.org/evidence-that-self-control-can-be...
yread 1 day ago 0 replies      
Previous submission with a lot of comments and interesting discussion
orofino 1 day ago 0 replies      
Readability link: http://www.readability.com/articles/cdiekyuv

The typesetting makes this terrible to read.

nhangen 1 day ago 0 replies      
This is a really, really good piece.
munificent 1 day ago 0 replies      
> Women specialize in the narrow sphere of intimate relationships. Men specialize in the larger group. If you make a list of activities that are done in large groups, you are likely to have a list of things that men do and enjoy more than women: team sports, politics, large corporations, economic networks, and so forth.

...open source?

Joeboy 1 day ago 1 reply      
> Recent research using DNA analysis answered this question about two years ago. Today's human population is descended from twice as many women as men.

Does anyone know what research he's referring to?

reirob 1 day ago 1 reply      
Very nice article. It is centred about observing the past. But as evolution is going on, things change and I think that we are living in an era where things are changing and society will less favour the capability to compete but more to cope together. Think about the globalization, about global political institutions like UN, IWF, etc. Think about the fact that mankind is reaching limits of resources - oil, water, soil. I tend to think that these changes will actually change the roles and favour women, because it will be more important to share equally - that's just my personal opinion and I am actually in favour for it. I think we had enough wars and at least on this planet there is not that much territory to be conquered.

What do you think?

maren 1 day ago 0 replies      
"His misdeed was to think thoughts that are not allowed to be thought" << could not agree w/ this more, people are WAY too sensitive on both sides & fail to realize what really matters in life (including freedom of thought).
gte910h 1 day ago 1 reply      
Lots of positions, but very little citations to research, etc that backs it up.

I'm curious how many of his contentions are borne up by science (other than the outlier study).

Hisoka 1 day ago 0 replies      
Moral of the story: Next time you're in an elevator, don't hold the doors for the females. get off first... unless you're holding it for a possible mate
sandstrom 20 hours ago 0 replies      
Transcript of Lawrence Summers talk, should anyone be interested to read it:
isomorph 1 day ago 0 replies      
For people interested in this, learn about "stereotype threat"
phektus 12 hours ago 0 replies      
Try to name at least two inventions by women in under 5 seconds.
JairusKhan 1 day ago 1 reply      
"In the 19th century in America, middle-class girls and women played piano far more than men. Yet all that piano playing failed to result in any creative output."

Well, I'm convinced!

dreww 1 day ago 0 replies      
citations needed
maxharris 1 day ago 0 replies      
Is there anything bad? Neither men nor women are born with anything anything to atone for.
olalonde 1 day ago 0 replies      
Anyone else felt a sudden urge to reproduce after reading this?
How not to design a CAPTCHA google.com
307 points by DrewHintz  4 days ago   88 comments top 14
sthatipamala 4 days ago 5 replies      
Completely OT: I find it interesting that this post and several other HN posts this week are hosted on Google Plus. I definitely would not have predicted that G+ would encroach on the LiveJournal/Tumblr space.
RyanMcGreal 4 days ago 8 replies      
On a site I administer that used to be deluged in spam, I managed to eliminate it with a three-pass filter:

1. Simple mathematical question, e.g. "What do you get if you add five and three?" Answer is processed on the server.

2. Hidden form field that is supposed to remain blank.

3. Blacklist of common spam words.

Slackwise 4 days ago 1 reply      
I work in medical IT. You'd be surprised how many government sites do similar.

An example would be https://sso.state.mi.us/som/dch/enroll/reg_page1.jsp (You can enter any fake name/email, this is only step one of the registration script. The next page has the captch in question.)

The captcha is plaintext, right on the page. The data from the captcha isn't even sent to the server, it is processed locally via JavaScript.

So, the bots don't even have to do anything, but humans have to input a meaningless number...

    <input type="text" name="inputNumber" class="entry-field" size="5" tabindex="3">

<!-- ... -->

document.write('<div id="layerNum" class="verifyNumber" align="center">');
document.write('<img src="generateGIF.jsp?number='+str+'">');
document.write('<input size="5" type="hidden" name="rdNumber" value="'+str+'">');

<!-- ... -->

<input type="submit" value="Continue" name="submit" onclick="return Valid();">

<!-- ... -->

function Valid(){
// ...
return true;
return false;
// ...

function chkRandomNumber(){
alert("Please check and type the number as shown in the box");
return false;
return true;

yid 4 days ago 1 reply      
If anyone ever wondered what the phrase "cargo cult science" referred to, this is a prime example. They're going through all the motions, but sadly their understanding of the universe is gratuitously flawed.
alexitosrv 4 days ago 0 replies      
If you are in this, maybe you could find interesting this review of a paper from googlers to approach a CAPTCHA design, in which humans are asked to select the right image rotation: http://glinden.blogspot.com/2009/05/exploiting-spammers-to-m...

As always, one of the most interesting part of truly great CAPTCHA systems is that they are advancing the state of the art in image recognition. But on the other hand we still have scams like this, and no real solutions.

ghurlman 4 days ago 1 reply      
Sony... some part of me had really hoped that they would overreact to the hacking movement against them, and lock themselves down like Ft. Knox.

Instead, it would seem they're taking the "we'll get hacked anyway, so let's not waste our time" approach.

mixmastamyk 4 days ago 0 replies      
Jesus, rootkits, psn, and now plaintext captchas ... the dev/it clowns at sony need to be fired en masse.
snorkel 3 days ago 0 replies      
What about just asking the user "Why would a benevolent God allow evil to exist?" and then the server checks if the answer mentions "freewill"
adamtulinius 4 days ago 5 replies      
A few years ago, or so i think, people went all crazy talking about a replacement for captcha's: Show a range of images, and make the user pick the image described by a block of text.

How come nobody adopted that approach?

desaiguddu 4 days ago 0 replies      
Need help for Open Sourcing the CAPTCHA research project.
I have covered few points of CAPTCHA design in my presentation.

Here is my CAPTCHA research paper:



dfc 3 days ago 0 replies      
On the subject of terrible captcha systems. I found the following gem while looking for OSS games for linux:

"You are born into WHAT? (answer is one english word)* [1]

It is not entirely clear to me what the expected answer is. A google search for "you are born into" does not return any answer that is clearly correct. If I had to guess I would go with "sin" but I am hoping that nobody would be so ignorant as to design a captcha system that assumes a certain cultural/religious background.

[1] http://garden.sourceforge.net/drupal/?q=image/tid/3

Turing_Machine 4 days ago 4 replies      
A slightly less clueless (but still clueless) approach to CAPTCHA design is to 1) make the CAPTCHA case-sensitive, 2) use letters for which the lower-case representation is very similar to upper-case, and/or use both zero and the letter O, 1 and the letter l, and so on, 3) use an image munging algorithm that makes it next to impossible to disambiguate the cases in 2).
Kwpolska 3 days ago 0 replies      
DON'T use a bloody CAPTCHA.
rlf 4 days ago 1 reply      
I can't believe Google is criticizing how Sony does CAPTCHAs when I've been complaining for years about how difficult Google's are to read. But as to their point, based on Sony's recent security issues, it doesn't sound like Sony has a very good IT department.
Instantly Add Chat To Hacker News envo.lv
296 points by mayop100  4 days ago   64 comments top 36
lhnz 4 days ago 2 replies      
This is nice. But a couple of thoughts:

1. Use will die down over time as people won't want to browse with it running constantly. Perhaps you could create Chrome/Firefox addons with acceptable privacy policies which just popup a notification or display something in your status bar if you access a page with users that are chatting? Just to remind you that the functionality exists...

2. I just saw someody create a room with the same name as another room. They couldn't see the room I had created...

3. A little slow currently perhaps due to the number of users. Maybe that's just my machine.

4. Was surprised to see that everybody dropped trying to sound clever as soon as chat is realtime. Is a reputation system needed always?

5. Some way of bringing conversations back which you've closed...

funthree 4 days ago 3 replies      
I made a node.js bookmarklet about 5-6 months ago that is sort of the same concept. It is not nearly as full-featured, though. If anyone would like the source, just let me know, as it is a dead project.

It's a bit different in methodology than what OP posted, as it will run on any website, without having to go to another website (or refresh, or anything) but it violates a bunch of browser protocols in the process ;) (it is safe though)

Just make a bookmarklet out of this, or run it on any website.

   javascript:var s = document.createElement('script');s.type='text/javascript';document.body.appendChild(s);s.src='';void(0);

p.s.: no promises it wont explode ;)

davidhollander 4 days ago 1 reply      
This is the same business idea as gooey.com, a dot com bust http://www.jamesaltucher.com/2011/02/my-name-is-james-a-and-...

However, they required that you download a separate piece of software. This AJAX and feels more spontaneous, easy to get started, probably resulting in a much higher growth rate.

noelsequeira 4 days ago 3 replies      
While the envolve plugin is extremely interesting, the HN implementation would probably be far more useful if you scraped the HN username for logged-in users and displayed it. Anonymity seems to kill the utility of chat. For those that wish to participate anonymously, you can always offer the option to opt out.

Using jQuery, this should be trivial:


netghost 4 days ago 1 reply      
The floating tweet/like box is atrocious. Otherwise, kind of neat.
davidw 4 days ago 0 replies      
Seems like a good time to mention #startups on irc.freenode.net
dbz 4 days ago 1 reply      
Well, I have a couple of thoughts:

While the FB chat layout has its many benefits such as non-techy users will be (most likely) used to it, the small chat area really isn't enough for big sites such as HN or Reddit where there can be many many users online at once.

It would be nice if it could plug into fb chat, google+, AIM/AOL, etc. however, I'm not quite sure how viable of an option that is.

It also seems that anyone can make a chat (I could be wrong), but that seems like a silly add-on for a site with as many users as HN because it will only take one troll to bother everyone.


Awesome Job

sgrove 4 days ago 1 reply      
Using this as I add in this comment - talking about hackathons with somepeople in the news.ycombinator.com channel, and looks like I might have found a much more interesting way to spend my weekend!

Sites with strong identities (like HN) have a lot to gain with something like envolve. We get a bit more freeform discussion that's still organized.

The only two concerns I have are 1.) will we lose historical discussions since they're played out in an external system? and 2.) Flamewars - they're bad enough when there's some forced wait-time between replies. Bringing in real-time chat could make it much, much worse :)

Awesome job to the envolve guys!

there 4 days ago 1 reply      
this is how it looks on a maximized browser on an 11" macbook air:


not enough room to see all of the text.

klbarry 4 days ago 1 reply      
Best business application is you know you're going to get a ton of buzz in a very short period of time. Get people in a chat and get them excited, keep those customers at a much higher rate.
rokhayakebe 4 days ago 1 reply      
I had a holy s&% moment. I have seen this sort of tech before, but this is just a perfect implementation. It could become my default way to browse social sites. Hello social shopping.

Edit: Holy S$^, Holy S*$^.

avgarrison 3 days ago 0 replies      
This is rather cool, however I was alarmed when another user was able to inject javascript and throw up an alert window in my browser. This begs the question, does this wrapper site do anything to protect me from XSS? Does it prevent someone from stealing my cookies?
skennedy 4 days ago 1 reply      
Pretty cool implications for helpdesks (login page of an enterprise application), website design reviews, discussions of news articles, and so much more. I really like it.
mgl 4 days ago 0 replies      
Can you imagine embedding this by Google on any search results page, so we can discuss "hotel las vegas" queries with other participants in real time, luckily with hotel agents answering questions as well? And now SEO would be used to find the most intensive chat topics. Neat!
mtogo 3 days ago 0 replies      
Very cool and very well done, but on Opera for some reason the HN background starts cycling through various colors.

Now would also be a good time to mention HN's IRC channel, which is #startups on irc.freenode.net ( http://webchat.freenode.net?channels=startups ).

tnorthcutt 4 days ago 1 reply      
Nice, except for the on by default noises. Ugh.
politician 4 days ago 0 replies      
I'd like to see this running on my Google TV, so that I can chat about the latest celeb trial that HLN is providing wall-to-wall coverage for. That's not quite true, they usually manage to mix in Tweets and Youtube videos. Anyway, the point is that it'd make certain channels far more interesting.

Edit: Via the Google TV SDK, of course.

mayop100 4 days ago 0 replies      
Strange that it's slow. Where are you located? Our servers are in the SF bay area.
mayop100 4 days ago 0 replies      
We have a bookmarklet you can install. Check out http://envo.lv
We also have a "Chat About This" button that site owners can add to their own pages.

Follow us on twitter too for updates on our upcoming developer tools launch. We're http://www.twitter.com/getenvolved

veb 4 days ago 1 reply      
I could imagine this being very useful for the initial building of a following for a startup. Let's say some people share your passion - they can talk to people about it, and rally to get some features done or something.

Good job guys, I quite like the implementation, I hope to use it myself actually.

blendergasket 4 days ago 0 replies      
What a great idea! It'd be cool if there were some way to create color coded mice/pointers so people could point to places on the page, or find some way for users to highlight some parts. I love it!
Alexx 4 days ago 0 replies      
Is there a particular reason you went with short polling over sockets? I see your building on jetty at the moment, which is pretty tried and tested I guess, but pushing a huge volume of json objects around over the http.
Pistos2 4 days ago 0 replies      
In Opera, my "this page is still loading" bar keeps popping up every 200 ms or so. Extremely distracting, and (in my case) it obscures the lower bar of envo.lv.
Tyrant505 4 days ago 0 replies      
Startups Seeking Devs chat was created 15 minutes ago.
Let us see what happens! heh
bane 4 days ago 0 replies      
really cool idea...wish I could pin a couple chat windows open at once...
mayop100 4 days ago 0 replies      
We (Envolve) are hiring developers, so if you want to talk to us, drop an email to info@envolve.com.
seanmccann 4 days ago 0 replies      
It would be great if it was just a JS plugin rather than redirecting.
kgthegreat 3 days ago 0 replies      
I think its fun. Kept lot of us engaged for a while. But you need to build context around the chats. Meanderers will meander. Great chances of it going out of control. Which are the best sites to sell this to?
massarog 3 days ago 0 replies      
Require users to sign in with their HN info before being able to chat, that way you don't have a ton of people trolling in the chat with fake usernames.
auston 4 days ago 0 replies      
Nice work! But I wish when I clicked a thread, it brought me to that URL as a room.
snguyen 4 days ago 1 reply      
I'm so impressed! It'd be nice if there was support for IRC commands since it seems to be omnipresent in chat applications. :
jechen 4 days ago 0 replies      
This is really nifty, though it's a little slow redirecting on my end (in SF). :) Great job!
rishi 4 days ago 1 reply      
This is very cool! How does it work with my websites SSL?
joejohnson 4 days ago 0 replies      
This is very well done
vapour 4 days ago 0 replies      
annnnd it's crashed.
dreamdu5t 4 days ago 1 reply      
Very well executed.

It seems slow, like it's built using AJAX/PHP/MySQL. What stack powers this thing?

The fanless spinning heatsink: more efficient, and immune to dust and detritus extremetech.com
295 points by lmathews  4 days ago   63 comments top 14
sbierwagen 4 days ago 4 replies      
I've read the paper now, so I can chime in on an informed basis.

They claim a 0.2°C/W, which would be really something. You can get down to 0.37°C/W[1] with air cooling, using heroic measures, and blisteringly awful efficiency. Doing 0.2°C/W would be a real step up.

I don't really think they've done it, here. Their experimental setup used six 1"x1" 10 watt heating elements. This is because their heatsink needs a very large cross-section to overcome the lousy thermal conductivity of the air gap between the impeller and the base plate.[2] Total area, 38.7cm^2, total power, 60W.

The Intel Core i7's heatspreader has a surface area of ~20.25cm^2, and a thermal design power of 130W. 52% smaller, 216% times the heat output. That's about four times more heat per square centimetre.

The smaller the heat source, the longer the average thermal path between the source and the air/heatsink boundry, the worse the C/W, and the less effective the heatsink will be. If they had actually used a computer processor, rather than a bunch of heating elements, then my WAG is that they would have done 0.35°C/W.

It's a beautiful idea, but their setup looks nothing like reality.

1: http://www.dansdata.com/quickshot012.htm

2: They say that, due to the high sheer speed, there's no boundary layer, which "increases thermal conductivity several-fold". Well that's a cool story, bro, but air (0.025 W/(mxk)) is still sixteen thousand times less thermally conductive than copper! (401.0 W/mxk)) If you increased the thermal conductivity of air by 6.4 times, then it would be as conductive as... rubber, something which is not world renowned as a good conductor of heat!

nathanb 4 days ago 5 replies      
Two points of confusion (for me, at least) which the article doesn't satisfactorily alleviate: first, how can something dissipate heat effectively when there is an air cushion between the base plate and the cooling vanes? And second, how is this device "immune to dust and detritus"? For instance, it seems like dust could easily enter the thin air cushion layer and cause all kinds of problems.

Can anyone help me overcome my ignorance and understand these points?

jws 4 days ago 2 replies      
…if these heat exchangers can find windespread adoption in computers and air conditioning units, Koplow estimates that the total US electricity consumption could drop by 7%.

Wikipedia says 11% of US electricity goes to air conditioning and 5% to all electronics combined. That about half of that is cooling fans does not survive the sniff test.

zck 4 days ago 0 replies      
I wonder what the production cost of this is compared to a "traditional" heatsink. It looks like it would require more metal, but I'm not sure. I don't know if it would require more precision in the construction process, but this smells like it will be more expensive. It might not replace stock CPU coolers, just high-end ones. Certainly at first that'll be the case.

It looks like the benefit of this over other high-end coolers (i.e., water cooling) is that it can be a drop-in replacement for them. It doesn't seem to require special parts, knowledge, or tools to install. It could be installed as easily as a normal CPU cooler. The reduction in electricity costs is exciting for businesses (consumers don't care about a 7% electricity reduction). That it doesn't get clogged with dust is also very useful in the long run: less maintenance.

I'll be more excited when this is in production, even at a high cost. Let's hope it gets there.

jcromartie 4 days ago 1 reply      
"Fanless" in that it is a fan itself.
rytis 4 days ago 1 reply      
"The cooler consists of a static metal baseplate [...A HEATSINK...], which is connected to the CPU, GPU, or other hot object, and a finned, rotating heat exchanger [...A FAN...] that are cushioned by a thin (0.001-inch) layer of air."

OK, there's only 0.001-inch between them, but still a heatsink + a fan, no?

stcredzero 4 days ago 0 replies      
Do away with the air bearing. Just put the whole computer in the base of the rotating heatsink/fan. Get power and data on/off of the thing using brushes. Implement an emergency mode where the CPU slows the clock if the motor fails, so that the heatsink still provides enough cooling without rotating.
dexen 4 days ago 1 reply      
There is one existing technology that could perhaps do away with the problem of the air gap (if that's a significant problem at all): heatpipe.

The good old heatpipe could extend from the stationary baseplate, as an axle/shaft of the impeller, well into the spinning part and here flange out internally. The seal/bearing would have to be quite gas-tight, but if that's achieved, heat transfer could be great.

thinkcomp 4 days ago 1 reply      
I hope to see this in systems soon.. It would be really nice not to risk hearing loss every time I walk into the data center!
JohnLBevan 4 days ago 1 reply      
This gives me a thought. . . could Dyson Air Multiplier technology be scaled down to be used in computers?


JohnLBevan 4 days ago 1 reply      
Another thought. . . could you take advantage of the thermoelectric effect to cool a system and make it more efficient in the process?
AlexC04 4 days ago 0 replies      
So where do I buy them?
chopsueyar 4 days ago 1 reply      
What about submerging it in mineral oil?
SaltwaterC 4 days ago 1 reply      
"Moving beyond 3GHz". Really?
The Problem With Silicon Valley Is Itself thenextweb.com
287 points by jmjerlecki  3 days ago   184 comments top 44
ChuckMcM 3 days ago 5 replies      
So she lives in San Francisco for 6 months and feels qualified to explain what is 'wrong' with Silicon Valley? (which is nominally the Santa Clara Valley btw) I've lived (and worked) in the actual silicon valley for over 25 years and I can tell you that evaluating the area based on a 6 month snapshot is worthless.

In 1984 I was Intel and the 'problem' was that there wasn't any real use for personal computers. A 1024 x 768 color CRT monitor was huge and cost about $3,000. Running at 640 x 480 in monochrome with a 'Hercules' graphics card didn't come close to the experience you could get with a decent minicomputer 'workstation.' But a workstation cost $50,000 and up.

In 1994 I was at Sun Microsystem (the Liveoak project, aka Java) and I would have told you that the 'problem' was that you couldn't do business over email and without an economic engine what would fund all the work. I told Eric Schmidt (who owned Sun Labs at the time) that so called 'e-commerce' was where all the money would be in 1995 and if Sun wasn't able to participate it was toast. (sounds pretty lame in retrospect, but they did sell a lot of servers to Amazon :-)

In 2004 I was at NetApp (after having my startup acquired by a company which would later be folded into Motorola in a deal which was reminescent of one of those trades in baseball where you get cash and a draft pick and oh by the way this guy over here.) I would have told you that the problem was that technologists had been pushed aside by MBA types who had lasered in on the 'rent seeking' business model and killed off innovation along the way.

There isn't a 'problem' with Silicon Valley, it simply exists like a beaker sitting over a bunsen burner. Over time different chemicals are available in the beaker and sometimes something magical happens, and sometime noxious fumes come out, but the place is an engine. A lot of startups are endo-thermic with respect to cash but a few are wildly exo-thermic. Often times the by products of those become the ingredients of the next round of innovation.

I'm not sure the author has had time to appreciate that while she may have encountered dozens of GroupOn clones, she seems to have missed that there are dozens of GroupOn clones. If you were in, say Minneapolis, how many GroupOn clone startups are there? Energy makes reactions possible, the SF Bay area is full of energy (and resources) which makes it easy to create a new company. That the companies that have currently been created are boring to you is merely a side effect.

pg 3 days ago  replies      
She seems unclear in her own mind what she thinks the problem with SV is, because this seems to be a combination of all the standard brickbats people throw at the startup world (I wouldn't even say Silicon Valley, since these complaints apply equally well to any startup anywhere): that a lot of startups are "derivative" (like Google was); that startups tend to have exits (investors need them structurally, but founders like them a lot too); that startups solve trivial problems (like writing Basic interpreters for computers used by a few thousand hobbyists); etc.
tptacek 3 days ago 1 reply      
Stupid YC companies with all their stupid IPOs.

At a BBQ last week with a group of Y Combinator graduates, the conversation went predictably back and fourth, sounding something like this: What batch were you in? How many times did you pivot? How much did you raise? From who? How many users have you got now? What's your growth rate? Who's going to acquire you? It's never about the technology or impact it's having, it's about the game of entrepreneurship; getting users, funding and exiting as quickly as you can.

Normal people call this "talking shop". Get a bunch of doctors together sometime and see if they're talking about changing the world.

grellas 3 days ago 0 replies      
Coming to Silicon Valley and expressing dismay that the typical founder is single-mindedly focused on profits and liquidity events is a little like showing up at Rick's and expressing shock at all the gambling going on. It is all well and good to pass judgment on what you see, but what did you expect? Nothing fundamental has changed in SV over the years and the Valley has no need to justify itself.
harj 3 days ago 0 replies      
"The problem is that it's all about the money; it creates emphasis on Y Combinator startups to quickly exit or IPO."

This sentence makes no logical sense, quick exits and IPO's are the antithesis of one another - there has to be an emphasis on one or the other, not both. It's based on a false premise anyway, the Start Fund has had no impact on how founders choose to run their companies. Since she's talking about investor incentives, I presume she thinks there's an emphasis on IPOs. If this were true, it'd directly contradict her argument, I struggle to think of any world changing companies that didn't IPO.

"organizations like Y Combinator attempt to marginalize, commoditize or manufacture a process that is inherently risky."

I'm not sure how we marginalize the process. Perhaps she should have asked some YC founders whether we've ever presented the startup process as anything other than the brutal, risky slog that it is.

neilk 3 days ago 1 reply      
Hey, maybe the OP isn't exactly the most informed. But you can't argue that Tim O'Reilly doesn't know what the Valley is all about. And he's said some similar things.


If I can "pivot" this discussion a little... as part of my job I've interacted a lot with Ward Cunningham, who invented wikis, helped invent Agile methodology, started people talking about design patterns, etc. This guy didn't exactly do any market research when he invented the wiki. He didn't throw up a landing page with a coming soon graphic. He didn't validate the concept with Google Ads. He didn't impress investors, or even customers. In fact it's likely that no one would have ever invested in the concept.

He created something that, based on his experience and judgment, that he thought users needed. Turns out he was right.

Maybe this kind of inspiration isn't productizable, which is why SV shies away from it. But is there no room for this sort of thinking? Even Google began in an academic environment, not in the business world. It seems to me that entrepreneur-thinking can get you only so far. Every really successful entrepreneur I know -- and I know a fairly high number -- has been a little bit crazy, and had ambitions far beyond monetization. Some of them ended up making a lot of money almost by accident.

In our time, the hackers rebelled against the suits and are now running their own companies. A magnificent achievement. But is it going to be the final irony, that hackers are now going to think and act like suits?


jonnathanson 3 days ago 2 replies      
This article raises a lot of interesting, disquieting thoughts about the Valley and its startup/VC culture. But change isn't going to come from within, because there is no present incentive for change. Why should VCs stop pushing for quick acquisitions and exits, when they're making damned good money on those exits? Why should founders want to stray from the prevailing model, when the prevailing model minimizes their risk and increases their chances of big paydays (not to mention repeat performances)? In a lot of ways, today's system seems to be working remarkably well for its participants on both sides of the equation. Arguably better than previous iterations of Valley culture and systems have.

It seems reasonable to hypothesize that the system is designed to reward its participants, and perhaps even at the expense of users or the "greater good" -- however narrowly or broadly we want to define that term. But this is just a hypothesis until we can substantiate it. Are there other regions, within and without the US, breaking SV's stranglehold on game-changing innovation? Has a competitive innovation-generating model arisen to challenge, if not shake up, the SV model? It's almost impossible to measure the success of SV's "greater good" on absolute terms, and as such, we must search for relativistic points of comparison. Measuring SV today versus What SV Could Be is fruitless without a tangible example of the latter, or else a prescriptive model of some sort.

iamwil 3 days ago 0 replies      
Most of the time, game changers don't look like game changers when they first start. So they're often dismissed as being trivial. It's true for anything that we depend upon today. cars, radio, tv, computers, internet, social networks, twitter, etc.

Most people, investors (and myself) included, are also not the most imaginative bunch. You can't hope to raise money from things that are more than one hop away from things that they know.

And lastly, innovation from a startup's perspective, is almost never a brilliant flash of insight. It's usually a gradual iterative process of discovery and learning that looks like a brilliant flash of insight in hindsight, especially to people re-telling the story. Everyone wants to hear about what was going on when the meteoric rise was happening (relatively short time), as opposed to all the time spent laying the ground work and exploration and deadends beforehand (relatively long time). You can only hope to do iterative discovery before breaking the ground somewhere. What the author complains about lack of innovation is really just what innovation looks like on the ground--feeling around in the dark. You have a better chance of finding something if you work from where you know, rather than just taking a giant hop. And really, innovation is never immediately obvious. It usually is just an inkling--a tickle.

On a macro level, innovation has flashes in the number of people that are working on it. Lots of people are doing groupon "clones" because it's still an area where variants are to be explored. If you think about us as a colony of ants, we're all looking for food (ideas), and once we find some, we'll exhaust that before looking for more. Where there is food is likely to be more food. It's not exactly a bad strategy.

arram 3 days ago 3 replies      
I was at the barbecue and can say that she took some license with the conversations there. I (and others I've asked) didn't hear anyone asking who was going to acquire x company, etc.

The entire article comes off as condescending and self righteous. The suggestion that your company isn't worthwhile if you're not solving 3rd world problems is absurd. As is the notion that founders who are in it to make money are misguided. This sort of thing is typically said by someone with money - in this case a VC.

jonmc12 3 days ago 1 reply      
Arbitrage vs Innovation - consider that startups that are using technology to make an existing market more efficient are profiting due to arbitrage of technology. Consider that startups that are using technology to create a new form of value are innovating.

Technology arbitrage is kinda boring, but can have big rewards. I imagine the profit distribution among these startups looks kinda bell curvish.

Technology innovation and commercialization is a different game - here you have a few big winners effectively creating new paradigms, followed by technologies that may add marginal value in a large number of markets.

Its part of any economy to have a mix of those who arbitrage and those who innovate. Silicon Valley is no different.. in fact, you could argue that the arbitrage plays are necessary to create the funding environment that can facilitate technology innovation. I find it a useful lens for understanding the startup infrastructure.

To further refine the lens, you can look at through the asset class that each startup is attempting to create (personal reputation, team, tech, users, profits, strategic value) - Elad Gil has a good blog on this http://blog.eladgil.com/2011/01/m-ladder-position-your-start....

So, I see what the author is saying, but really I think she is looking through the wrong lens. Funded innovation sits at the top of a complex economic ecosystem of interconnected, evolving pieces.

mburney 3 days ago 1 reply      
This article makes a good point. The problem is not that startups are derivative or solving trivial problems. The problem is that the whole startup process has been manufactured and scaled to the point that it has lost its intrigue and stifled its innovation.

Apple, Google, and Microsoft were outsiders when they were startups. Current SV incubator teams are more like elite in-crowd communities, safe and insular.

PaulHoule 3 days ago 1 reply      
To be fair, Silicon Valley "lean startups" can't get into many of the markets that are out there.

For instance, I know some folks who'd like to build a new kind of nuclear reactor that uses molten Thorium salt as a fuel. The kind of system could produce all the energy you use in your life with a ball of Thorium that you could hold between two fingers.

It would probably cost these guys $500M just to fill out the paperwork to build a test reactor... Even Silicon Valley investors don't want to spend that much cash. if you think the RIAA is bad just try the NRC.

grandalf 3 days ago 2 replies      
If you credit yourself with being able to identify "game changers" among early stage startups, then you're crediting yourself with more wisdom than the VC community. Even VCs acknowledge that they are wrong a large percentage of the time.
thingsilearned 3 days ago 0 replies      
SV startups I've always felt are significantly less derivative than any other business that I've ever known.

99% (or whatever) of businesses started are another bank, Mediterranean restaurant, carpet cleaning company, franchise, etc. that are exact clones or nearly anyway of the same company in the next town over.

If by her scale there is no innovation in SV and YC then its just not happening anywhere.

She's just dealing with an unrealistic expectation of the speed and efficiency of innovation.

localhost3000 3 days ago 0 replies      
isn't it really that web startups are "easy" and hard-tech startups (hardware, biotech, alt.en, pharma etc.) are...well, hard? (I mean this relatively speaking, of course) -- It takes close to zero education to sit down and create a product on the web (how many of us were building websites when we were 12? yup.) - hell, we're even now questioning the value of a college degree... To create Halcyon Molecular, on the other hand, you need world-class scientists culled from top universities with years or even decades of experience (never mind all the liquid capital you need). It's simply a different ballgame entirely. With this marked difference in entry requirements, of course the web-app startups outnumber the Halcyon's 1000 to 1. Is that a problem? Well, maybe. But is it a surprise? Absolutely not.
tlb 3 days ago 1 reply      
Startups often seem like clones (of Groupon or whatever) when you only get the one-sentence explanation of what they do. But there's always a much deeper difference in goals, strategy and tactics when you get to know them. I don't know any Groupon clones. Groupon's operation is complex and subtle, and there are lots of related things that are also promising.
newobj 2 days ago 0 replies      
It's ironic, or whatever the word that we mean to say when we incorrectly say "ironic", that GroupOn started off as a "change the world" kind of thing (ThePoint) and then pivoted into "just" a trivial deals site. Also that it's a product of Chi-town, not SV.
dusklight 3 days ago 0 replies      
What I think the real problem is entrepreneurs who are primarily looking for money/recognition don't look for problems that need to be solved, they look for problems that can be solved. I would love to see more cross disciplinary startups instead of companies solving problems using purely software.
Aloisius 3 days ago 2 replies      
The author seems to conflate YC with all Silicon Valley startups. This is clearly not the case and I would argue that if you are looking for big, world-changing ideas and only considering YC companies, you're looking in the wrong place.
nhangen 3 days ago 0 replies      
This is also a problem for users, who sink time into supporting/using a service only to have it yanked out from underneath them.

Right now I'm averaging 5x daily deal emails per day. I can't stop subscribing fast enough.

The valley is very insular, and IMO it doesn't get out often enough. To make matters worse, any time I argue this with my friends in SF, they get very defensive. The valley is becoming the popular kid in school, for all of the wrong reasons.

buyx 2 days ago 0 replies      
consumers in the USA clearly want to play Angry Birds, whereas in some African countries consumers are more likely to be searching for their nearest Malaria drugs clinic.

Yes malaria is a huge problem in some African countries, but in case some Rovio staffmember reads that and suffers an existential crisis, here's an anecdote to make them feel better:

My 3 year old nephew loves Angry Birds, and got his nanny to play it with him. She was intrigued by it, and started learning how to use a mouse, launch Chrome, and launch and play Angry Birds. This is a 30 year old black South African woman from a rural area, with no prior experience of computers, who was forced to leave school in Grade 9, because of a lack of funds, who began learning a new skill. Will she pursue it? I don't know. Will she encourage her own children to become computer literate, maybe buying a cheap computer for her children to play with? Quite possibly. But it wasn't some World Bank funded outreach program that got her using a computer, it was Angry Birds.

invalidOrTaken 3 days ago 0 replies      
This makes me think of ridiculous derivative startups like BankSimple. We've had banks for thousands of years. Why do we need another? Everyone knows Bank of America is innovating daily in retail banking, especially in customer service. Plus, think of everything subsistence farmers are doing with Windows Mobile phones!

Oh, wait.

ziadbc 3 days ago 0 replies      
The 'problems' described here are actually the mechanisms of why SV works.

Yes, there are lots 'me too' startups out there. However, in any thriving ecosystem there will be a trend toward replicating success, and rabid competition.

Furthermore, these startups don't represent the vision of where the founder wants to take the company, but just a miniature vs of the startup for what is possible today with the small amount of resources they have.

As these startups gain traction, their vision will expand, and their innovation will as well. Some will die off, and a few outliers will emerge. Not every company becomes Facebook or Google, it's logically impossible for every startup to be an outlier.

fecklessyouth 3 days ago 0 replies      
As an ignorant observer, I feel like the Silicon Valley has to avoid becoming Wall Street--billions of dollars given to geniuses to make a profit while filling an existing but trivial need that truly helps a small portion of the population.
lisper 3 days ago 0 replies      
Anyone who thinks there is no innovation or risk taking in the Valley, contact me. I can point you to tons of companies that are keeping the old traditions alive. Those on the leading edge always attract wannabes and pretenders when they succeed, and when the success is big enough the wannabes and pretenders can overwhelm those on the leading edge. That doesn't mean they've gone away, it just means you have to look a little harder to find them.
stcredzero 3 days ago 1 reply      
It's all relative of course, but the problems facing well-educated young people in San Francisco are certainly different from that of entrepreneurs in emerging markets.

How about a program where entrepreneurs are given a chance to live and work in cities in emerging markets for 6 months? At the end of this time, they can submit an application for a startup in that market, and if accepted, receive another 3 months room and board and $16,000 in seed money.

mbesto 3 days ago 1 reply      
I can personally relate to this perspective as someone who doesn't live in the valley but follows it very closely.

Ultimately I think what the author is trying to say is that there is a lot of "disgust" (I'm trying to use that term loosely) about the current problem solving that is being produced out of the valley. Is it a problem that I walked by an old friend at a restaurant and didn't realize we knew each other? Oh, there's an iPhone app for that!? There is a difference between satisfying a market and actually solving what is to be considered a real life problem. I do think the current nature of the valley is that of "Wouldn't it be cool if I could..." rather than "My life would be substantially better off if I could..." I suspect this is what she is trying to highlight.

So this begs the real question - what do we consider to be real life problems? For an upper class American a problem may be that you were unable to figure out the name of the last song played on the radio and for poor villagers in Africa it's having no access to water. Is solving one person's problem more advantageous than another?

fady 2 days ago 0 replies      
@ChuckMcMm @sendos great points. i've been in sf for 5 years and can vouch for how much energy, resources, and passion is in this city. i've never seen so many happy people working away at their jobs, living the life as a san franciscan; paying crazy rent but living in a great city enjoying the pleasures it has to offer. i know this because i'm doing the same thing. it seems no matter where you go everyone is connected with their mobile devices, talking about the next start-up, using the next groupon clone's deal, eating/drinking at the local hip spots, etc.. etc.. the locals use the local goods. seems like it does not stop there. im connected to all the people + their followers, friends, etc. online, while im at work! people here get things done, and enjoy it too. PG recent article comes to mind..

the author forgets that silicon valley has connected people in a way that one cannot even begin to imagine. i think people are happier with their web apps, sharing tools, social networks, etc.. i feel the article makes good points, but to say the problem is with silicon valley is rubbish. its with humans. silicon valley has done nothing but changed peoples lives and continues to be the hub for new ideas.

dr_ 3 days ago 0 replies      
The article becomes a bit absurd when it makes the implication that entrepreneurs may settle for cheaper locales like Chile or Cabo (I just returned from the latter and trust me although it's beautiful it's anything but cheap).
Success depends not only on the abundance of VCs but also the available talent pool, experienced attorneys, landlords who get it, accountants, etc.
WorkInKarlsruhe 3 days ago 1 reply      
Ugh, what a rancid, judgmental article. His arguments about changing the world are stale. The problems of a Silicon Valley person are quite different from the problems of someone in an emerging market, such as rent of like $3000/month, and so it makes no sense for someone in Silicon Valley to address an emerging market that has no chance of covering costs of living back home. The people in the emerging markets are quite capable of helping themselves, and don't need privileged, naive Americans to step in and show them how backwards they are (ironically, most other societies are more socially advanced, even if they are technologically backwards, and could teach the Americans how to actually achieve quality of life without technology). [And if you are going to step in, please read Schumacher's "Small is Beautiful", and pay attention to his arguments for intermediate technology (i.e., you don't dump differential equations on someone still learning algebra).]

If showing someone how to best locate the nearest cupcake shop makes customers happy, then that is a virtuous reason for a startup to exist. It is silly and judgmental to say that people are wasting their talents because they focus on the materialistic first-world problems rather than desperate emerging-world problems. It is about making customers happy, employees (and founders) happy, and investors happy. The question should be: are the founders actually happy doing the work they have chosen? If not, then it is a mistake.

Perhaps what the author is really trying to say is that people are focused on getting rich quick off trivial business plans, which will be easily commodotized, or will have hardly any market, causing failure and loss of the investor's money. There is some merit to this sentiment given some of the examples he gave.

NY_Entrepreneur 2 days ago 1 reply      
Okay, I'll bite at this flame bait:

First, sorry to be 'sexist', but the pattern is far too strong to ignore: For some reason, maybe part of some of the old teachings and/or attitudes of the Roman Catholic church, heavily in Western culture women are supposed to want to dedicate their lives to 'saving the world'. A belief is that, if they dedicate their lives to saving the world, then the world will be obligated to save them and will. Indeed, it is common for such a woman to be 'married' more strongly to their church or saving the world than to their actual husband. That is, she is married to her husband but 'commits adultery' with her church or the whales.

Also, the women are supposed to regard money as something they are supposed not to be interested in. Indeed, a belief is that if they do have have money, then they will no longer deserve to be cared for by the world and, thus, will have a big net loss. In addition, there is a belief that any woman who does anything that results in making money is somehow doing something immoral and, thus, causing her, again, no longer deserving to be cared for by the world.

If the above points seem absurd to you, then I congratulate you on hearing these points finally now instead of later. I hate to say this, but basically on these points I'm standing on rock solid ground. Believe me, I came to understand these points only very slowly and reluctantly and at enormous cost. Let's not go into all it cost.

But, I can tell you, it's far too common for such a woman, with a loving husband, a house, three small children, busy at home, in a job, and at church, to attend a lecture on some need on the other side of the planet and, then, to give up everything to rush to the other side of the planet to address the need. One women I know even wrote a book about her effort along these lines, and I could, but won't, give you the author and title of the book.

I kid you not: A LOT of Western women are out to 'save the' world, whales, environment, polar bears, kitty cats, puppy dogs, poor people in countries X, Y, Z (mostly NOT their own countries), etc. E.g., even the movies understand as in the remark in the second 'Jurassic Park' movie: "80% women, Greenpeace".

So, she's out to save the world and is upset because SV is not.

Okay, now lets set aside her point about saving the world.

I'd make another point about 'finance': Yes, we would value a company based on 'discounted future cash flows'. But we nearly never have any way to know about cash flows very far into the future. So, net, a lot of financial evaluation is based on just the latest data, adjusted for 'variance'. Are the short term traders making a mistake? They are watching many times a second and will sell at the first evidence of a change in the status of the company and, thus, don't get caught when the price falls. If the cash flow indeed lasts, then the short term traders will again be doing the right things.

VCs and their entrepreneurs can't sell in a fraction of a second, but, still, a short term horizon for evaluation seems to be ground into pricing in finance.

So, that she is concerned about short term pricing is nearly inevitable.

Next, that there are clones for GroupOn is not an example of something silly about SV: Instead, GroupOn is quite obviously vulnerable to a different clone in each of Peoria, Paducah, and Pleasantville. Indeed, a clone in Peoria might have better connections with the businesses in Peoria and have an advantage. Net, the many clones of GroupOn are mostly due to what GroupOn is doing instead of SV.

So, why can GroupOn have such a high market capitalization? Because of the practice of pricing companies based only on very recent data.

I would have another objection about SV:

I can believe that the biomedical VCs know what they are doing. I believe that the 'problem sponsors' at NSF, NIH, DARPA, ONR, etc. know very well what they are doing. But for the information technology (IT) VCs, I ROFL and then crying. The incompetence is astounding, outrageous, off the wall, out of some Alice in Wonderland, beyond belief. Actually, YC is a grand exception: Most or all of the partners actually have some solid qualifications in IT. Otherwise, we're looking at history majors who got an MBA, worked in 'management consulting', 'development', 'marketing', analyzing stocks, and, thus, accumulated "deep domain knowledge". What a LAUGH: They don't know the first thing about IT, even the old stuff, and they have not a clue about evaluating things for the future.

What technical IT founder would want to hire one of these ignorant, arrogant blowhards? These blowhards are not qualified to do anything technical, teach a technical course in a university (or even high school), write a technical paper, review a technical paper, get a research grant, etc.

Again, at biomedical VC, NSF, NIH, DARPA, ONR, and YC, the situation is wildly different.

The non-technical situation in VC IT is so uniform that I have to look for a single cause, and my guess is that the situation is not due just to the VCs but to their LPs. It's very much as if some of the leading LPs wrote the criteria for each of seed, Series A, B, and C rounds on one side of a 3 x 5" card and insist that the VCs follow these criteria.

In particular, the criteria demand that the VCs just ignore the 'secret sauce'.

What to pay attention to?

Seed round: Look at the prototype software and estimate if many users will like it and give their 'eyeballs'.

Series A: Have the number of unique eyeballs per month at at least 100,000 and growing rapidly.

Series B: Have revenue growing rapidly.

Series C: Have earnings, and buy a chunk of the company based mostly just on the earnings and exit possibilities.

For any estimate of building a serious company, ignore that.

At an IT VC table, without YC, now tough to find an A. Viterbi or G. Moore on either side of the table.

That 3 x 5" card IT VC criteria explains the trivia she sees. On this point, I agree with her.

csomar 2 days ago 0 replies      
Made me suspicious about her claim of other countries start-ups hub. I checked the Chile ones, and well, they are just poor.

I picked two start-ups randomly: Askbot (http://askbot.org) which is an awfully designed clone to StackOverFlow.

The other start-up I picked is AI Merchant (http://www.aimerchant.com/) which does commodities exchange in a lower abstraction level. The realization, however, is very poor. I prefer the Silicon Valley clones and crap.

jjm 3 days ago 0 replies      
I want to exit so I can have enough money to not worry about if something I work on or come up with isn't 20 years ahead of it's time putting me in the poor house.

I worked in big corp thinking I could make a change but that didn't happen. Reached the top technically, and that was it.

So I can't blame these guys as I know some of them think like I do. However, like any good thing you can get caught up in it and forget why you started it in the first place.

forensic 3 days ago 1 reply      
This author sounds to me like she wants Silicon Valley to entertain her.

She sees the valley not as a normal participant in the Western economy, but rather as some kind of vehicle for the creation of her utopia.

If you're going to condemn people for not sacrificing their lives for the Africans, why start with programmers?

When doctors, lawyers, plumbers, bus drivers, real estate agents, elementary school teachers, civil engineers, security guards, 7-11 owners, and bloggers stop trying to make money, I will too.

chrischen 2 days ago 0 replies      
> "But for every Airbnb and Udemy there are always more Netflix, Evernote and Spotify clones."

She clearly has not spent much time using or even understanding what the companies (Moki.tv, Noteleaf.com, or earbits.com) do... because those are not even close to clones.

ChrisBeach 2 days ago 0 replies      
Author makes some valid observations but misses something important.

Who's changing the real world today? People like Bill Gates, putting billions of dollars into the fight against malaria.

What process generated that wealth?

protagonist_h 3 days ago 0 replies      
One big thing the author overlooks is how first-world technologies tend to eventually "spill-over" into the third-world where they find their uses. Just look how Facebook and Twitter are bringing democracy to the Middle East. Yes, these things were created to solve problems of an American yuppie, but people in the poorer parts of the world find how to apply them to solve their problem. It's hard for an American entrepreneur to build a startup which solves problems of the developing world, because they are not exposed to those problems. You can only solve problems you understand.
hxf148 3 days ago 0 replies      
I'm working on a startup (http://infostri.pe) that is way out side of SV and we feel it. I have no idea what it's like to be there in person but I imagine it would be a lot easier to meet, know and get interest from people if we were. Getting noticed as a super small (but tenacious) outsider to SV is.. difficult. That I do know.
zackelan 3 days ago 0 replies      
> I've interviewed around two hundred startups and there's only two, out of two hundred, I think are game changers.

Breaking news: only 1 in 100 startups will significantly change the world. Film at 11.

saygt 3 days ago 0 replies      
This is nothing unique to Silicon Valley. A hub of any kind attracts opportunists of all qualities and intentions without discrimination.
barce 3 days ago 0 replies      
Some universities and clever ads have brainwashed non-technologists like Ms. Way into thinking that software do a lot of things that they do not really do. In some cases, the illusions are lies; in other cases, these folks are hoodwinked into believing that what software can do is done without much effort.
vlad99 3 days ago 0 replies      
What SV needs to do is help the GDP go boom so they can chip in enough tax money to cover NASA's expenses for their groundbreaking discoveries. +1 if you agree!
h4x0r111 2 days ago 0 replies      
just want to chime in real quick: she's a smart brit plus she's hawt.
epynonymous 3 days ago 1 reply      
"At a BBQ last week with a group of Y Combinator graduates, the conversation went predictably back and forth, sounding something like this: What batch were you in? How many times did you pivot? How much did you raise? From who? How many users have you got now? What's your growth rate? Who's going to acquire you? It's never about the technology or impact it's having, it's about the game of entrepreneurship; getting users, funding and exiting as quickly as you can."

right on!

Nginx doesn't suck at SSL after all matt.io
277 points by seiji  3 days ago   106 comments top 21
tptacek 3 days ago 3 replies      
In case you're wondering what "Perfect Forward Secrecy" is: SSL/TLS, like most protocols, uses (expensive, dangerous) RSA to exchange (cheap, simple) AES or RC4 session keys; bulk data is encrypted with session key.

In the normal protocol, if you lose the RSA key, an attacker can retroactively decrypt the session keys, which are protected only by that same RSA key.

In ephemeral DH mode, instead of encrypting a session key with RSA, both sides run the Diffie Hellman protocol to exchange a key†. DH allows two unrelated parties who share no secrets to exchange a secret in public; it's kind of magical. But it's also trivial to man-in-the-middle. To get around that problem, ephemeral Diffie Hellman mode in SSL/TLS signs the DH exchange with the RSA key.

The win here is that losing the RSA key now only allows you to MITM future SSL/TLS connections. This is still a disaster, but it does not allow you to retroactively unwind previous DH exchanges and decrypt earlier captured sessions.

DH is unbelievably simple; go read the Wikipedia page.

ccollins 3 days ago 1 reply      
From the article, to find out what your website is doing:

openssl s_client -host HOSTNAME -port 443

I ran this for my own website and a few bigger websites

  openssl s_client -host www.gusta.com -port 443 (My site, hosted on Heroku)
Cipher : DHE-RSA-AES256-SHA

openssl s_client -host www.google.com -port 443
Cipher : RC4-SHA

openssl s_client -host www.airbnb.com -port 443
Cipher : AES256-SHA

openssl s_client -host www.facebook.com -port 443
Cipher : RC4-MD5

openssl s_client -host www.paypal.com -port 443
Cipher : AES256-SHA

openssl s_client -host www.amazon.com -port 443
Cipher : RC4-MD5

benblack 3 days ago 1 reply      
An article about configuring SSL that doesn't 1) discuss trade-offs of security vs. resource consumption, 2) how to figure out your performance requirements, and 3) indicate the author really understands implications of decisions about crypto is an article you should probably disregard. Modern CPUs are so ridiculously good at crypto, and most sites have such ridiculously low connection rates, that optimizing for maximum performance at the expense of security is a fool's game in most cases. Instead, focus on measuring your real performance requirements first, and things like sane configuration of SSL, for example by explicitly listing ciphers instead of using the impenetrable +aNULL:-yourMom syntax.

Here's my vintage code for scanning SSL configs: https://github.com/b/tlscollect

Here are a couple of must read posts from someone who really knows his SSL business:



It's great to learn.

Lil' B

cbetz 3 days ago 3 replies      
I can't tell if this is an apology or a non-apology. It seems to have elements of both.

Clearly the moral of the story is: "Don't claim that X sucks unless you are are damn sure".

Saying something sucks is fightin' words. Don't expect to people be nice if you are wrong.

jeremyw 3 days ago 0 replies      
Unlike the above post, this fellow actually did some broad cipher testing (http://zombe.es/post/4078724716/openssl-cipher-selection), particularly around AESNI instructions in recent Intel chips.

With AESNI, use AES-128, AES-256, RC4-SHA, CAMELLIA-128.
Without AESNI, use RC4-SHA, AES-128, AES-256, CAMELLIA-128.

In nginx, this looks like:

  # (wo/AESNI): ssl_ciphers RC4:AES128-SHA:AES:CAMELLIA128-SHA:!MD5:!ADH:!DH:!ECDH:!PSK:!SSLv2
# (w/AESNI): ssl_ciphers AES128-SHA:AES:RC4:CAMELLIA128-SHA:!MD5:!ADH:!DH:!ECDH:!PSK:!SSLv2

You eliminate weak ciphers. You retain RC4 for compatibility and speed. You order by performance. (Note that AES-128 is still ranked as secure through 2030 [at least]. You don't need to prefer AES-256.)

thirsteh 3 days ago 1 reply      
So Nginx got unwarranted hate for having the most secure defaults. That sucks. I hope the user nginxorg -- whom I assume is Igor Sysoev -- who dropped by the previous thread (http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=2752136), sees this post too.

Either way -- based on his attitude in the first post, I'm really surprised by how Matt owned up and did his homework for this one. (He should have done it from the beginning, of course, but none of the people bashing him in the previous thread actually provided anything to support what they were saying.)

tlrobinson 3 days ago 4 replies      
"Final feeling: Twitter is better than HN in all social dimensions of engagement, kindness, and authenticity."


WestCoastJustin 3 days ago 0 replies      
changes: slow ssl encryption ciphers on by default, keepalive

before: nginx (ssl) -> haproxy: 90 requests per second

after: nginx (AES256-SHA with keepalive 5 5;) -> haproxy: 4300 requests per second

clintjhill 3 days ago 0 replies      
It's great to follow up. Especially with such a particular detail.

It's also good to have thick skin. HN can be aggressive. But for good reason. I'd be willing to bet this tiny sting will result in more rigor in the future. I know it has worked that way for me.

giberson 3 days ago 1 reply      
I use a similar directive in my apache2 configuration. Would I see an performance improvement in removing the DH option from the cipher suite? Or is this only directly related to ngix and how it implements its ssl protocol?

Secondly, by removing the DH method do I restrict any browsers from connecting my site? Ie, are their any browsers, or security settings on browsers that prevent the site from being trusted if DH isn't available?

alnayyir 3 days ago 0 replies      
Well at least he followed up. Most people don't bother to correct their mistakes.
grandalf 3 days ago 0 replies      
Any serious article ripping on the performance of something should at least link to the config file used.
mmaunder 2 days ago 0 replies      
Thanks to Matt and everyone who contributed to figuring this out - and then figuring it out again. Comments on the nginx mailing list (which I encourage you to subscribe to if you're a user):


ldar15 3 days ago 0 replies      
So, are these the new numbers? I copied the numbers from the original and the new post:

  haproxy direct: 6,000 requests per second
stunnel -> haproxy: 430 requests per second
(OLD) nginx (ssl) -> haproxy: 90 requests per second
nginx (AES256-SHA) -> haproxy: 1300 requests per second
nginx (AES256-SHA with keepalive 5 5;) -> haproxy: 4300 requests per second

Did other things change or is nginx more than twice as fast as the next best solution?

newman314 3 days ago 0 replies      
Guess I was right about the cipher used.


alexkon 3 days ago 0 replies      
If you are exploring and testing SSL, the SSL Labs tools come in handy. For instance, see what Gmail and Github are doing:



ynniv 3 days ago 0 replies      
Ah, if only we had an occasional second upvote! This is far more useful than the original post, which was already well above average. If you are deploying nginx with SSL, you need to know about the configuration details in the article.
dfc 3 days ago 0 replies      
This is why security is such a wierd/nice/confusing/irratating line of work to be in. Newsflash SSL is not a one size fits all secure you against anything technology. I did not see the original article so I won't pretend that I knew the answer ahead of time. I just hope that I did not accept SSL as being a onesize fits all completely uniform technical conmponent.

There is a Dave Chapelle joke about cops sprinkling crack-cocaine over a crime scene in order to make the case quick and easy. Too many developers trest SSL like magic pixie dust for security.

Or as ptacek says "thanks in advance for putting my kids through college."

lanstein 3 days ago 2 replies      
keywords in footer:
nginx, openssl, ciphers, DHE-RSA-AES256-SHA bad, AES256-SHA good, hn, twitter, glee soundtrack
epi0Bauqu 3 days ago 0 replies      
So what should ssl_ciphers be? Can't you just move that one to the end somehow?
beachaccount 3 days ago 1 reply      
I ran this against the slowest SSL website I know of. This site absolutely kills my phone web browser and I've been wondering about this problem for years. The site: manager.skype.com. The result? DHE-RSA-AES256-SHA. No wonder! Fix this guys!

In regards to this post, if this is the default configuration of Nginx then I agree that Nginx sucks. This is not a good default configuration for the Internet.

Comcast cuts off customer for going over 250GB of legitimate use 12160.info
269 points by ek  3 days ago   277 comments top 48
bradleyland 3 days ago  replies      
The author had me up until the moment he claimed that internet access is a "right". Ok, so let's say internet access is a "right". Rights often come within a framework. You have many rights that are yours for the losing. Your freedom to come and go freely, for example. If you break a law, you lose your freedom by being put in jail.

To say something is a "right" is to say that it ought to be available, or that the government should not infringe upon your ability to seek that right unduly. In this case, the author broke the rules of the framework, and thus his right was suspended.

What a right to broadband is not: an irrevocable license to use as much of a shared resource as possible for a fixed price you deem appropriate.

Author, if you're reading, this is why people are saying you sound entitled. You're conflating "rights" with your own viewpoint that you should have unlimited internet access at a fixed price.

scelerat 3 days ago 1 reply      
Internet access is required to file a police report in Oakland, or so I was told by the OakPD switchboard operator when I called to report my car being broken into and vandalized.

i.e. they would not send a car; they would not take information over the phone. I was told I must file the report online.

When an essential service like Police require you to use a service, it definitely seems like that service has moved from the category of "novelty," or "luxury," into "utility."

There are possibly good reasons for internet providers to continue to be private, but like water and power and other utilities, they should be heavily regulated. Going over a bandwidth cap should not land you in a position where you cannot (e.g.) file a police report after you have been the victim of a crime.

naner 3 days ago  replies      
I listened to him read his canned warning that if I exceeded their cap again I'd be cut off again.

Ok. Sure, the data cap sucks, but this guy broke a Comcast policy, got a warning, and then broke the policy again. I'm not surprised he got cut off.

I do not recall details on how long the cut off would be, likely because I spent the next few minutes working with the service agent to add notes to my record about my detailed displeasure with Comcast's policy here. I specifically noted (and asked that it be recorded) that if this happened again I would contact the FCC, various news organizations, and otherwise make a stink. The CS agent was polite and reactivated my broadband.

Wha? Why would the FCC or news orgs care that you exceeded your broadband cap? And why are you threatening the service rep?

This whole thing stinks of irresponsibility and entitlement. This guy ignored or didn't care about the whole data caps thing (which was announced a long time ago), didn't pay attention to his warning from Comcast, and now he got burned by it and suddenly decides unlimited broadband is his right. Too late.

xenophanes 3 days ago 2 replies      
You have to switch to a small business account instead of a residential account with comcast. Then you get genuinely unlimited use, no bandwidth cap. That is the only way to get past their 250GB cap. It's absurd that they won't sell you more bandwidth on any residential plan at any price, and that they kick people off the service rather than charging overages.

You do not need to have a business location to do this, or actually have a business. They will sell you small business cable internet at your residential apartment.

dbingham 3 days ago 1 reply      
I am entitled. I am entitled to a competitive market. I am entitled to companies that have to compete for my business, not take it for granted. I am entitled to companies that always try to move forward and improve their products, not jack up the price while offering less.

Right now, that doesn't exist in the broadband market. And as with any other market that requires high levels of infrastructure investment, I'm becoming less and less convinced that it can exist.

slavak 3 days ago 2 replies      
I've seen a lot of posts about US telecoms having "soft caps" for usage on what they call "unlimited data" plans, and I can't for the life of me figure out how in the hell something like that can possibly be legal.

If you have a written service contract with your provider that does not explicitly state the service has a bandwidth cap, then how can them shutting off or artificially limiting your access speed /not/ be a breach of contract?

Even if there is a clause in the contract about the traffic cap - without them explicitly informing you of the clause, wouldn't you be able to claim deceptive advertising?

VonGuard 3 days ago 5 replies      
The worst thing about this is not the cutting off of the service, but the fact that this guy has no reasonable alternative to Comcast in his area.

Tyranny of the last mile still exists, and isn't going away any time soon.

peapicker 3 days ago 3 replies      
Seriously, this is a technology company? If they mean to cap at 250GB per month, just halt service during the month when 250GB is hit. Don't let the customer go over, warn, go over, and then suspend them for a year. Seriously, if they are metering it, they can implement a technology solution to halt when the cap is hit that month and not even have this ridiculous abuse of customers having to 'self monitor' the behavior of all the software they have running.

If they want to cap, they need to cap customers with a technical solution.

wccrawford 3 days ago 2 replies      
I totally disagree about broadband being a right. And neither is electricity, insurance, or clean water.

However, I do agree that it's a necessity for modern living, just like the rest of the above. As such, I think it should be protected in the same ways.

nestlequ1k 3 days ago 0 replies      
I posted 1.2TB of usage last month. I love the little graph on their comcast.com homepage. Nice big and red bar way way over the 250GB limit. No one contacted me about it.

But I'm paying for the super extreme 50mb/sec burst plan for 120/mo so I'm guessing that's the reason they leave me alone

"what are you downloading" -> starcraft replays, also downloading video backups to S3

etheric 3 days ago 0 replies      
From Comcasts AUP:
What will happen if I exceed 250 GB of data usage in a month?

The vast majority - more than 99% - of our customers will not be impacted by a 250 GB monthly data usage threshold. If you exceed more than 250 GB, you may receive a call from the Customer Security Assurance ("CSA") team to notify you of excessive use. At that time, we will tell you exactly how much data you used. When we call you, we try to help you identify the source of excessive use and ask you to moderate your usage, which the vast majority of our customers do voluntarily. If you exceed 250GB again within six months of the first contact, your service will be subject to termination and you will not be eligible for either residential or commercial internet service for twelve (12) months. We know from experience that most customers curb their usage after our first call. If your account is terminated, after the twelve (12) month period expires, you may resume service by subscribing to a service plan appropriate to your needs.

They say they will help you identify the reason you went over your cap. "When we call you, we try to help you identify the source of excessive use and ask you to moderate your usage, which the vast majority of our customers do voluntarily." Which they clearly didn't do in this case. This would be acceptable if we had another option for broadband internet, but we don't.

Oompa 3 days ago 1 reply      
I'm worried about this. I live with 4 other internet heavy users, so I checked our usage last week, and saw that we've consistently been blowing past the 250GB cap. Last month, we hit 566GB.

Comcast hasn't contacted me or shut off our service yet, and I hope they don't.

meow 3 days ago 2 replies      
Indian ISPs found a curious way of tackling these situations. Since they sell their plans as unlimited, they can't fully cut off the internet access. So as soon as the fair use limit is crossed, the speed drops to punishing 256kbps till the month gets over :|.
Thangorodrim 3 days ago 1 reply      
If he is using the circuit for work, then pay the additional cash and get a commercial class circuit which is, effectively, uncapped.

He already had one disconnect and chose to ignore it rather than take appropriate steps to modify usage. He agreed to their cap.

The idea that internet service is a right is bizarre bourgeoisie bollocks.

emelski 3 days ago 1 reply      
How is it reasonable for somebody to expect to be able to upload "terabytes of RAW images, musics tracks ripped in lossless format, etc."? That seems to be substantially outside the scope of what both Comcast's home user internet service is designed for, and, I would guess, Carbonite as well -- although I note that Carbonite does offer "unlimited" backups for home users. I agree with other commenters -- this sounds like a serious case of entitlement. I don't know whether Internet access should be considered a right or not; but even if it is, I would say it only really works if people are reasonable and responsible in their usage of it. Just like it's a right for me to speak my mind, but people will still shun me if I insist on doing so at full volume in all venues at all times, in a way that impedes others from enjoying _their_ access to that right.
jrockway 3 days ago 2 replies      
This is why I pay $130 a month for Speakeasy broadband. They give me 6M and I can use 6M 24/7 with no complaint.

Bandwidth costs money. So consumer "ISPs" (and I use that term in a very loose sense) tell you what the burst bandwidth is, and then hope that you don't burst very often. When you do, they drop you, because you cost them money. The solution is to just get a real Internet connection. "Business" is the magic word.

The alternative to Comcast's cap strategy is that everyone would be paying $500 a month for Internet access, or you'd be limited to 768kbps with no burst.

noonespecial 3 days ago 0 replies      
He went over his usage, broke his eula etc. Comcast has the right to restrict him, perhaps by slowing his connecttion or charging overages. But seriously, "No net for you! 1 YEAR!"????

Who wrote that policy? Seinfeld?

That's damn ugly monopoly behavior that should be brought to the attention of the FCC.

fourk 3 days ago 0 replies      
Interesting. I'm on their 50/20 (mbps down/up) plan and regularly go WAY over the 250GB 'limit' in San Francisco's Mission district and have had no repercussions for doing so. I wonder what the specific conditions are for when/where they choose to enforce this limit, or if it is entirely arbitrary. I've hit a TB down in a single month, and have never heard a word from Comcast about it.

Do they turn a blind eye because I'm on a more expensive plan, or is it because of lack of network congestion in the Mission, or maybe due to the availability of alternative internet service providers?

ctingom 3 days ago 1 reply      
I am surprised Comcast doesn't just offer a 500GB month plan. Or 750GB month... just set a price and tell him he needs to pay it.
gst 3 days ago 2 replies      
Is Comcast really a monopoly in some parts of the US? Aren't there any other viable options?
zzzmarcus 3 days ago 1 reply      
I have Comcast in Seattle and have gone over the limit 2 of the last 3 months uploading backups to CrashPlan. 260gb in April and 455gb in May. I haven't gotten a warning and my service hasn't been cut off.

I'm not sure what he did to incur their wrath, but it makes me think he was probably exceeding the limit for at least 3 months prior to the warnings.

bugsy 2 days ago 0 replies      
The basic problem here is that 250GB per person is not sustainable with the current networks, nor is it sustainable at rates people are willing to pay for access.

Cloud and other services that depend on enormous bandwidth costs to be absorbed by others leads to the free rider problem. NetFlix is the biggest free rider around. Their rates do not cover the cost of bandwidth because their basic business model is parasitical.

joelhaus 3 days ago 0 replies      
If only the market was competitive, this would be a non-story. "Right" or not, our future economic success depends on driving broadband prices down and service quality up.
smackfu 3 days ago 0 replies      
This is stupid. Comcast makes it very easy to monitor your monthly bandwidth, and the 250 GB limit is clearly stated. You may disagree with the entire concept of limits, but they aren't selling the service as unlimited, so it is what you agree to.
svin80 3 days ago 0 replies      
HA-HA-HA. Living in third world country (Moldova) i have real unlimited 20Mbs. 500Gb a month is the minimum traffic i have.
henryw 3 days ago 0 replies      
I think I broke the 250GB cap for 6 months straight (using around 280GB to 350GB), and they didn't care. When I did 1TB in a month, they called me and thought my WIFI was hacked and warned me to not go over. The next couple month I think I did like 275GB. Overall, they are pretty nice about it. I still have my Internet.

I'm curious how far over this person went.

daimyoyo 3 days ago 0 replies      
I have cellular Internet and while the speed is not ideal (about 2Mb/s during the day and 7Mb/s at night) I have unlimited data. I even asked their customer service "so I could run 100Tb of data a month and that would be ok?" And they told me it would be. Granted it's not ideal, but I can stream 360p video on it(my laptop resolution isn't enough for anything higher to make a difference) and since I use it at night most of the time I never have a problem with slow download rates.
pragmatic 3 days ago 1 reply      
What amazes me is only having one broadband option in Seattle of all places.

I live in a small mid-western city and have as of now 3 wired choices plus N wireless choices (depending if you you 4g providers, etc).

ankimal 3 days ago 0 replies      
...and that if I had any decent competitive options in the neighborhood I'd dump Comcast in a heartbeat. Since I don't .."

I think its important to note the lack of competition. I wonder what that cap and price would be if there were even one other provider in the same area?

jeggers5 2 days ago 0 replies      
Oh come on. You're completely abusing Comcast's Service and now you're telling some sympathetic story about how it's unfair. 250GB/month is massive, and you knew full well that you were on your last chance, and it's not surprising that they measure upload data as bandwidth (what on earth did you expect?).

If you were going to be using the service like that, you should've asked first. Don't try and tell us you 'forgot' that you had a server down stairs moving gigabytes of data around. I wouldn't want you as a customer either.

beatpanda 3 days ago 0 replies      
This is only going to get worse, and claiming that internet is a "right" or a "utility" will evnetually invite government regulation, which will amplify the pervasive and inevitable problem of corporate malfeasance.

We need to build an internet without ISPs if we want to keep what we have.

ddelony 3 days ago 0 replies      
I'm surprised no one's noticed all the conspiracy theories mentioned on the main site.
peterwwillis 3 days ago 0 replies      
Talk about first world problems. This guy is acting like his access to water was denied because he can't stream movies or use Dropbox.

I lived without internet for a year. I was fine. Nobody shunned me from society and I didn't lose the ability to make money. For a while i'd walk over to Starbucks or Dunkin Donuts if I needed an hour of 'net access. When I had to do some interviews from home I went and got a month of Virgin Mobile 3g data for $40.

I do believe everyone should have the right to use the internet, since as a communication tool it's more ubiquitous than the telephone and some things like government services require online registration (ex. vehicle inspection at the DMV where I live requires an online-only form). I also believe the poor should get free access, and maybe some day free 'loaned OLPC netbooks.

However, he's going about explaining why being banned from the internet is wrong in entirely the wrong way. His defense is basically "I should have the right to be entertained and use free services that there are offline alternatives of!!" If I were an ISP i'd want to ban a guy who uploaded 3 copies of the same song and RAW images too.

mrbonner 3 days ago 0 replies      
Not sure if this is a right. The fact that ISP limits the data cap is ridiculous but it is only for the good of others. This story I think only applies to say less than 1% of normal population. Ok, 250GB/month is not that high, may be making it 500GB/month is more appropriate.

What ISP could do is still put the cap on and charge extra for every 10GB after that with a small fee. I think most people dont want to pay extra even if it cost several dollars a month. This models the way we pay for gas, power, water too.

But the points are:
- Increase the cap to 500GB for example
- Don't penalize, charge for each extra 10GB

gte910h 2 days ago 0 replies      
If you have a monopoly, your rights as a service provider go waaaaaaay down.

I think the monopoly should be stripped from them if they can't handle proper pricing.

Zarathust 3 days ago 0 replies      
In Montreal caps are around 20gb up+down per month.

While 250 gb seems "unlimited" for most of you, 20 gb is not. I suggest you start fighting now.

dennisgorelik 3 days ago 0 replies      
In Russia internet providers simply trim the bandwidth of the customers who use too much traffic. Internet still works, but slower.
Comcast may consider doing the same.
alphaoverlord 3 days ago 1 reply      
Implicit in the title of "250GB of legitimate use" is the assumption that torrenting or things of that nature are not legitimate.

And also supports Comcast's claim that 99% of people do not use that much bandwidth. Sure a bandwidth cap is not a one size fits all solution, but if this is the only guy complaining, it sounds like a one size fits most solution.

code_duck 3 days ago 0 replies      
250GB is a rather absurd amount. But there's no reason Comcast couldn't just cut him off for the rest of the month, right? Seems pretty dumb.
donpark 3 days ago 0 replies      
I doubt anything one has to pay for could be a 'human right' but, if so, my bet is on '3 meals a day' becoming a human right before 'internet access' does.
rajpaul 3 days ago 0 replies      
Comcast fired you as a customer. I can imagine scenarios where this would be a profitable business tactic for them.
etfb 3 days ago 0 replies      
Convinced of his rights, and completely oblivious to his obligations, particularly the one that involves reading the details of any contract he signs. Sounds like classic Entitlement Queen behaviour. I'd sympathise more if I weren't paying AUD$90 (about USD$100) for 200Gb -- granted it's with Internode, one of the most magnificently customer-focused businesses on the planet, so I'm not complaining...
t_krupicka 3 days ago 0 replies      
The most neutral resolution to this is instead of comcast denying service to this user, they need to install fees for excessive amounts of data used. While this person thinks of bandwith as a utility and a right, a utility is not based on a flat rate, and the writer obviously voided their agreement of their right to use data.
parsifal 3 days ago 0 replies      
I'm not sure that I totally trust this guy. We stream things all the time, and I actually don't feel like it affects our usage at all. I sort of wonder if things like Netflix, et al., aren't whitelisted.
dennisgorelik 3 days ago 0 replies      
I wonder why he did not agree to pay more for his extra traffic?
rudle 3 days ago 5 replies      
> My opinion on all this is simple. The ability to access broadband internet is a right, and should be defined as an essential utility.

Yawn... first world problems.

Broadband is assuredly not your "right", it's a privilege. If the terms of the contract are broken (and they were, twice) you have very little recourse.

More to the point, get a Comcast business line. You will get hassled less, and I hear it may actually be unlimited.

How Stuxnet was deciphered wired.com
256 points by paulsilver  2 days ago   70 comments top 14
landhar 2 days ago 1 reply      
"On June 17, 2010, Sergey Ulasen was in his office in Belarus sifting through e-mail when a report caught his eye. A computer belonging to a customer in Iran was caught in a reboot loop " shutting down and restarting repeatedly despite efforts by operators to take control of it. It appeared the machine was infected with a virus."

I am curious as to what in Stuxnet code and/or the client computer caused this. From the rest of the article, Stuxnet went to great lengths to stay undetected. Anyone has clues ?

Roritharr 2 days ago 4 replies      
This is easily the most interesting article i've read in the past 6 years.
sambeau 2 days ago  replies      
As software now sits between pedal and brake and cars are beginning to be increasingly connected should we expect to see more assassinations performed this way?

Google now has a fully-functional driverless car and at least one US state has approved their use on the road.

Who needs polonium when you can send a virus out to seek a car?

Swannie 1 day ago 0 replies      
I enjoyed reading along about this on the Langner blog during late last year and early this year.

He was often the first to break news about new understanding in the PLC related code, and at the time was given very little credit for it. Yet without him it would probably have taken a LOT longer to get to the bottom of this.

If you want an example of an interesting post from his blog:
Here he talks about a nice attack vector, that seems obvious if you have access to bits of the postal infrastructure in Germany...

Here he talks about the man in the middle attack, which meant that the PLCs reported back correct frequency/speeds to the operators, whilst doing something nasty underneath.

I'm waiting for a good book to come out that details all of the stuff in this attack. It's pretty stunning work.

yread 2 days ago 2 replies      
The article made me remember of this virus I've heard about. Supposedly, it was accessing a rotation media (harddisk, floppy disk? I don't remember) in different patterns and monitoring the failure rate for each pattern. Then it would keep accessing it in the pattern that caused most errors which would kill the hardware device - as the errors were supposedly from resonances caused by movements of the reading heads and would cause physical stresses in the device.

Anybody else heard about that?

ugh 2 days ago 0 replies      
I always liked this talk by Bruce Dang at 27C3 (December 2010), telling (part of) Microsoft's side of the whole Stuxnet saga: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=73HlkCI-GwA
aorshan 2 days ago 1 reply      
http://vimeo.com/25118844 is a really cool video that helps explain a lot of the same information about the virus. Not as technical, but it is still very interesting.
Amincd 1 day ago 2 replies      
It's funny that the US is spending so many billions of dollars trying to sabotage Iran's economy and nuclear plant, when the country poses zero threat to the US, and the US faces enormous fiscal challenges.

When I write funny, I mean utterly tragic, wasteful and a result of a relentless propaganda campaign which has resulted in every political candidate falling over themselves to prove how committed they are to facing down the menacing Iranian threat.

bshep 2 days ago 1 reply      
Very interesting read. Although I would have preferred if they hadn't said the ending at the beginning of the article.
cesar 1 day ago 0 replies      
This is an extremely well put article. The series of events and the way that it was written kept me reading it to the end. It was a very interesting article.
pnathan 2 days ago 0 replies      
This is a particularly well-written article by Wired.
evilswan 1 day ago 0 replies      
Have to agree with other posters - Best article I've read on Stuxnet - good job.
hammock 2 days ago 4 replies      
I dislike these magazine articles posted online that are some 8 pages long and the entire first page is simply the hook, no real info. Sorry, I am not going to read you, espeically if I came to you not for a feature story, but for a piece of specific news info, e.g. "how stuxnet was deciphered."

Am I the only one who feels this way?

edit: not sure why opinion = downvoted.

Edward Tufte's "Slopegraphs" charliepark.org
225 points by charliepark  5 days ago   38 comments top 13
aresant 5 days ago 2 replies      
Long lost in that they're not quite as useful, not as simple to discern info, and don't function in the same ultra-compact way the sparklines work.

But Charlie, damn fine post on the subject, seriously -I enjoyed the formatting and style as much as the content.

jws 5 days ago 4 replies      
If you don't like the jaggies in your HTML Canvas pictures, you can make the canvas size be twice as big and use CSS to set its size on the screen back to what you want.

Then you get nicely antialiased graphics.

Don't go crazy on the expansion though or iPhone users will hate you.

You should also be careful to drop your endpoints of horizontal and vertical lines on the xxxx.5 boundaries (in screen space) to keep nice sharp lines, otherwise you get a two pixel wide smear.

macrael 4 days ago 1 reply      
The cancer survival rates graph is magnificent. Super easy to understand, very information dense, and shows some very interesting trends. I never really thought about how different the slope of some of those diseases could be. That some cancers give you just about the same chance of being dead in five years as 20, and other drastically different odds.
CWuestefeld 4 days ago 0 replies      
I thought the most enlightening part of this article wasn't about the slopegraph itself, but on visualization in general. To me, this was a very effective message about the care necessary to avoid imposing an interpretation on the data.

By selecting the two scales used, the designer of the graph -- whether intentionally or not -- is introducing meaning where there might not actually be any.

For example, should the right-side data points have been spread out so that the highest and lowest points were as high and low as the Switzerland and Mexico labels (the highest and lowest figures, apart from the US) on the left? Should the scale been adjusted so that the Switzerland and/or Mexico lines ran horizontally? Each of those options would have affected the layout of the chart. I'm not saying that Uberti should have done that -- just that a designer needs to tread very carefully when using two different scales on the same axis.

biot 4 days ago 1 reply      
One minor point in an otherwise excellent post:

  > Another difference I should note: This type of forced-rank chart
> doesn't have any obvious allowance for ties. [...] In Fry's case,
> he uses the team with the lower salary as the “winner” of the tie.
> But this isn't obvious to the reader.

I wonder if this isn't random. It appears to be the case for the 91-71, 90-72, and the 69-93 ties. In the 80-81 and 80-82 ties the higher salary team is on top.

jamesbkel 4 days ago 0 replies      
Not in a web device/timeframe combination to give this a proper look, but definitely like what I briefly had a chance to read. Already saved to revisit later.

For anyone else that enjoyed this and is not aware of Parallel Sets: http://eagereyes.org/parallel-sets

Personally, I've found few good real-world use cases for PSets. But I've found it to be helpful for experimenting, even though I rarely use it for any end-product charts.

[edit: One last thing before I'm out of range. I'm sure most folks interested in this are familiar, but if not... BumpCharts: http://junkcharts.typepad.com/junk_charts/2005/07/in_praise_... ]

john_horton 4 days ago 0 replies      
Great article---I once used the "slopegraph" in a paper to show how the types of gov't contracts (e.g., fixed-price versus cost-plus) is different at each step of the litigation process:


starwed 4 days ago 1 reply      
Back in 2004, Edward Tufte defined and developed the concept of a “sparkline”. Odds are good that " if you're reading this " you're familiar with them and how popular they've become.

Really? I've definitely read about sparklines, but I've never seen one used naturally, as it were.

zipdog 4 days ago 0 replies      
Interesting post. I think that two-column comparison tables are similar to the slopegraph and (if designed well) can convey the information almost as well, particularly if they have different coloured rise and fall arrows (with number of places). The bonus is that its a simple formatting since nothing breaks its line it can be done with text and inline symbols, instead of as an image chart. The loss is that the connection between elements is not as strongly emphasized, but its fairly easy to tell anyway.

I don't have examples off-hand, so I hoped I've explained what I mean well enough.

sixtofour 4 days ago 0 replies      
A nice interactive feature would be: for the line graph that a slope graph is a "zoom" of (according to charlie's explanation), be able to slide or drag over the line graph and have the slope graph for the current focused period appear, either over or next to the line graph depending on available space.
louhong 4 days ago 1 reply      
One of the most enjoyable posts I've read in a long time. Great topic, analysis and beautiful site. Thank you Charlie.
spodek 4 days ago 2 replies      
The post says "There's absolutely zero non-data ink."

The names of the countries are printed twice. As far as data is concerned, one set contains none. The second printing may help readability, but readability isn't data.

You can tell one set isn't necessary because the cancer graph at the bottom leaves them out of the middle columns.

The bullet point at the bottom "Include both the names of the items and their values on both the left-hand and right-hand axes" could add "If your goal is zero non-data ink or your space is tight, you can leave out one set of names."

wyclif 4 days ago 1 reply      
What is that bold font called? I keep seeing it everywhere lately.
Own Your Identity marco.org
224 points by thisisblurry  5 days ago   55 comments top 12
BenS 4 days ago 0 replies      
One of the most valuable parts of an online identity is the attention you receive from other people. Social networks make getting attention more efficient. In this way, proprietary tools do a lot to enrich your online identity.

For me, this is a great tradeoff. For example, I'm happy to put my pictures on Facebook because my family and friends see those pictures and leave comments that I enjoy. In comparison, my local copies feel like those dusty old photo albums in my parents' basement that nobody ever opens.

nikcub 5 days ago 3 replies      
'owning it' doesn't mean your own domain. you are only leasing that domain name until you either no longer pay for it or the government in control feels you no longer deserve access to it.
dvdhsu 4 days ago 1 reply      
Interesting that he mentions Hotmail.

Hotmail addresses are indeed notorious for their lack of permanence. Last time I checked, if you do not log in for 270 days, your account is deleted, and your username is up for grabs. [1] If somebody else were to come along and take your username, they could easily gain access to your passwords that can be restored restored via e-mail, as well as your whole online identity.


1. http://www.redd.it/ej321

Fargren 5 days ago 6 replies      
Going on a tangent, but hotmail is really good nowadays. My non-serious-mail-from-friends account is on hotmail, and it's as good as gmail, a bit better in some stuff and a bit worse in others.
BrianBerk 5 days ago 1 reply      
As he mentions in the post, this is from one of the creators of Tumblr, who's elevator pitch at this point is "a social network that gives users control of their identity". It is one of the easiest ways for someone to practice what he's preaching.

Still, the people who are converting everything over to Google+ aren't crazy (well, they are a little bit, no search and no RSS is kinda a big deal). The design of G+, particularly the permalink pages, does a good job of making the first thing you see the actual content, not the fact that it is on G+.

masnick 4 days ago 3 replies      
However, tumblr does not provide an easy way to export your content.

This makes it not viable as a blogging platform for me.

russnewcomer 5 days ago 2 replies      
It's not just individuals that need to own their identity. I work with small businesses and have helped numerous clients move from @aol.com or @hotmail.com addresses to their own domains. And it's not just businesses, either. I have worked in third-world countries and seen governments print "countryforeignerregistration@yahoo.com" on official documents.

The only reason I don't own my identity online is that I've been too cheap to pay for domain registration. And that's an ever less meaningful excuse.

spodek 4 days ago 0 replies      
Take his arguments farther and you reach Eben Moglen's (co-creator of free software licenses) goal of the FreedomBox, which would enable all to own all their data currently in the cloud.

The project is getting started. It's bold and far-reaching, but so was a free encyclopedia anyone could edit. This page http://wiki.debian.org/FreedomBox gives more background and the videos it links to are inspirational.

If you agree with owning your identity, you may like what you read.

mmaunder 5 days ago 1 reply      
I wonder if TLD's will ever be perceived as government lock-in e.g. bit.ly, ow.ly, 3.ly are at the whims of Libya and yourname.com is subject to US legislation and enforcement. Great post and 100% agree.
william42 5 days ago 0 replies      
Going to post this here, since it seems relevant to tumblr discussion: http://spinor.tumblr.com/post/7113243594/decentralized-tumbl...
kefs 5 days ago 1 reply      
http://www.kevinrose.com/ should read this.
mise 4 days ago 1 reply      
My issue is not being able to decide which domain name to use. My surname is complicated for people unfamiliar with it.
Google+ can now hide your gender "in response to user feedback" google.com
222 points by bdr  4 days ago   69 comments top 11
jdp23 3 days ago 2 replies      
Google is clearly listening to user feedback on Plus. This is at least the third change so far in where I've seen Google folks engage in the initial discussions, describe their reasoning for why it was initially implemented the way it was, and (after a few days) come back with changes. Very impressive.

There's a transcript at https://plus.google.com/106912596786226524817/posts/KCUbRMKQ...

pkulak 4 days ago 2 replies      
Wow. The people spoke and Google re-wrote all the gender specific language in their product to listen.
redthrowaway 3 days ago 4 replies      
I wonder what it feels like to be Randall Munroe and have this kind of influence over the web.
andrewcooke 3 days ago 1 reply      
no you can't. not yet. at least, i can't.
cel 3 days ago 1 reply      
This is good. Now they just need to allow people to use pseudonyms. (maybe.)
cies 3 days ago 1 reply      
the gender thing was prominent when signing up for g+, that i think they might have anticipated this fix + "we do listen"-media-spin on forehand.
nealb 3 days ago 0 replies      
This is nice, but I'd love to see some more important features opened up instead- things like huddle on mobile web and working video playback in the Android app would be great.
BonoboBoner 3 days ago 2 replies      
Nice to see them react so fast, but I dont get the point about the feature.

Are people really gonna switch a button that lets them hide their gender, something that can usually be easily found out by looking at the user's firstname and/or profile picture?

jigs_up 2 days ago 1 reply      
Bob added you to his list

Bob added you to his or her list

Zakuzaa 4 days ago 0 replies      
Google is cool again. Yay!
nhangen 3 days ago 3 replies      
Of all the things people want to fight about, it's gender?
Erlang creator on how to get started and learning to program erlang.org
223 points by stevefink  5 days ago   72 comments top 21
asymptotic 4 days ago 0 replies      
There are several important threads that Joe Armstrong brings up that people are completely missing.

1) Typing in code directly into a shell necessarily implies you ignore all the tools and IDEs that many beginners clamour for. In fact, in my experience, coding into Notepad is a far superior learning experience than using an IDE. Nothing stands between you and your gaping ignorance, and you're forced to grapple with all the hideous details without pretty colours or intelligent auto-completion.

2) Typing in code offers you the chance to _deliberately type it in incorrectly and see what happens_. This is my favourite method of learning. Take a known good example, and say "Hmm, if I just do...that...to that line, what happens?". And then stare at the error output, immerse yourself in it. Just as with people, there is no better way of learning about a language, a tool, or an idea than when it is put under stress or unusual circumstances.

3) Tools necessarily abstract away some process, whereas when you're learning a new concept or idea the last thing you want is to shy away from the details of a process. This point reminds me of learning about long division in Year 7 at secondary school, and being forced to draw all these long arrows making clear which digits were going where. My maths teacher explained the rationale as "You have to go through all the motions, regardless of how silly or tedious they may seem now. Eventually you'll just naturally drop them to one side and not need them any more."

leftnode 5 days ago 2 replies      
One key point he mentions is actually typing in the examples while you're reading and understanding what they mean. This is essential when learning a new language. You simply won't memorize the syntax without doing it (at least us mere mortals won't, there's always super-programmers who can just get it by glancing at it once).
ukdm 5 days ago 3 replies      
"After 30 years you will get the hang of this and be a good programmer."

I wonder if a genuine beginner reading that line would be put off instantly or encouraged to find out if it really would take that long?

econgeeker 5 days ago 0 replies      
Joe Armstrong (one of the erlang creators) wrote a book for Pragmatic Programmers. This is the book I used to learn erlang. It was quite an interesting ride, and I think it is an excellent book for learning the language.

I think erlang is a really fantastic language, and the only language that I personally trust for concurrency. It is battle tested, and once you spend a couple weeks learning the syntax, quite a delight to develop in.

malkia 5 days ago 1 reply      
Reminds of this - Peter Norvig's - "Teach Yourself Programming in Ten Years" http://norvig.com/21-days.html -

Nowadays I setup cygwin, have cl.exe in my PATH (too bad the 64-bit bit version is separated). Have the WindowsDDK installed (liked it better than Windows SDK, as it allows me to compile for old systems)

Same for Linux (arm, x86, x64 machines) and OSX. The terminal is always there.

Along with FAR (Windows), Midnight Commander (OSX, linux), emacs (aquamacs on OSX) and build tools - make mainly, or shell script, batch files.

Now why? Well because I can manage it better this way. XCode4 brings the things very nice, yet the created project is quite big to control outside. MSVC same thing, but worse when comes to do multiple settings or dependencies.

Still... for a big company, studio - MSVC is the easiest for most people (I wish otherwise).

TY 5 days ago 0 replies      
Code examples in that message have bugs. This doesn't work:



It should be:



I wonder if the author has much programming experience, particularly in Erlang.

On a serious note, I totally agree with Joe - the best way to learn programming is by doing it (unless your initials spell EWD) - one step at a time.

ovidiu 5 days ago 1 reply      
I remember the time I wanted to learn "C++" and bought a Visual C++ book. There were so many references to MFC and sdk-specific things that it made the learning process truly frustrating.

This is why I always pick learn-by-example guides when studying a new programming language and this is why I try to understand the core first.

Erlang is also a great programming language to start programming with because it's so simple and based on existing mathematical knowledge that many beginners already have (functions).

nivertech 5 days ago 1 reply      
It's important to be as "close to the metal" as possible, when you learning. But once you understand the basics - find and use tools. For example, if you Erlang/OTP programmer in the open-source environment - you need to know rebar PERIOD.
jbp 5 days ago 1 reply      
That's the approach Zed's LPTHW (http://learnpythonthehardway.org/) takes.
signa11 5 days ago 0 replies      
Another thing that I have found useful, is to play with the same toy programs in different languages. For example once I am a bit familiar with basic constructs of the language I try out a simple newton-raphson, taylor series calculation, sieve of eratosthenes, a tftp server (protocol is trivial) etc.

To me, at least, this gives a real feel for the language in something more involved than either fibonacci, or hello-

Oh yes, emphatically agree to emacs and the shell thing. No distractions, while learning the core of a language...

the_cat_kittles 5 days ago 1 reply      
A little extreme, but I like the sentiment. Hard to argue that syntax highlighting is a learning impediment thought.
ams6110 5 days ago 0 replies      
I learned C# and ASP.NET this way. Emacs, csc.exe, and Microsoft .NET for Programmers by Fergal Grimes (Manning). Great book if you like learning languages this way.
mikhailfranco 3 days ago 0 replies      
The 'Zen of Joe' follow-up


  "Zen development - no tools - just your brain - 
all we are doing in making pleasing patterns of
zeros and ones that follow the way of programming.
If we follow the way the programs will please us."


malingo 4 days ago 0 replies      
I'd say in addition to shell, editor, compiler, one should also have a version-control system handy. After manually working through a handful of simple examples, a more complex undertaking will be very nonlinear; what better way to reinforce the learning than to keep track of the enhancements, improvements and fixes, and reasons for each change?

This falls into the same category as copying examples by hand: being very deliberate, thinking through and providing rationale for each change you make.

kidmenot 4 days ago 0 replies      
I agree with most of what Joe has said.

But I love IDEs with features that help me with refactoring. That doesn't seem to be a dangerous shortcut to me.

Granted, by the time you know what refactoring even means AND you know that you should do it, you most probably already know a thing or two about programming, but hey.

perspective 4 days ago 0 replies      
I'm constantly telling off my friend (an established programmer, just not with C#) for using Resharper with VS2010. He responds with "But it helps! It's easier to use!", then asks me "What's the difference between a reference and a 'using' statement?".
alexmr 5 days ago 0 replies      
I agree with this. As a newbie, it's easy to get caught up in finding the perfect tools and waste a lot of cycles with that. I do use textmate because the syntax highlighting makes it easier for me to read, but anything more complex than that seems pointless (at least at my stage).
schiptsov 4 days ago 0 replies      
Yeah, most of amateurs think that they must have Eclipse^Wa typewriter to write a poetry. ^_^
kennywinker 5 days ago 4 replies      
Yeah, that's a terrible tutorial.

a) so much magic going on. He argues against magic (IDE's, build tools), and yet there are about 5 magic commands in 5 lines of code. (module(), compile(), export_all, ->, c()). As a reasonably experienced programmer who's never seen erlang code, I ought to be able to infer most of what those operators/function are doing but I can't.

b) Why would a super smart programmer be the right person to tell me the best way to start learning to program? I would like to hear from a highly successful TEACHER of programming.

c) I started with IDE's (HyperCard, RealBasic, and Xcode). Yes he is right that there is a lot of magic going on you don't understand, but you can slowly chip away at that all the while making useful things.

All that said, I really liked his comment about
"After 30 years you will get the hang of this and be a good programmer." That's a great attitude. You'll be a novice for most of your life. Possibly all of it. That's a big part of why I like programming... there is always more to learn.

humanfromearth 4 days ago 0 replies      
Forget about git? U crazy?
nomeatno 4 days ago 0 replies      
There is no meat here. Just use an editor and in 30 years you should be able to program, don't use tools. That's all.

Hey boys, poor content for HN, the only valid point is who is the author of the post.

You Weren't Meant to Have a Boss paulgraham.com
218 points by helwr  3 days ago   83 comments top 27
quanticle 3 days ago 5 replies      
You weren't meant to have a boss. You also weren't meant to read, work on computers, drive cars, fly, or even practice agriculture. Its very easy to criticize any modern institution on the grounds of, "Our H. Erectus ancestors didn't do it, so it must be unnatural." Rather than snark about how the phenomenon is bosses is somehow unnatural and antithetical to human existence, why don't we work on creating institutions that preserve the advantages of having a boss while ameliorating the disadvantages?
mannicken 3 days ago 3 replies      
There's just one thing about this article that makes me feel eerie. It sounds like a piece of propaganda. PG tries evoking an emotional response out of the reader, pulling some random unsupported facts out of nowhere, like a religious preacher who'll do anything to support his point of view. What doesn't help is that since he's an investor, he is directly profiting from people working for rates below market rates and making it big. Nothing wrong with that. But still. Eerie.

" The root of the problem is that humans weren't meant to work in such large groups."
WHOA! really? I mean, I don't disagree but this is a fairly huge statement. He should back it up or <every intelligent reader> will assume that he's holding them for idiots.

"I was in Africa last year and saw a lot of animals in the wild that I'd only seen in zoos before. It was remarkable how different they seemed. Particularly lions. Lions in the wild seem about ten times more alive. They're like different animals. "
Oh, no! I'm not an animal! And if I am, I'm certainly the WILD TIGER FROM THE JUNGLE rather than a zoo-domesticated kitten. I SHOULD QUIT RIGHT NOW.

Again, very broad connection. Full-time employees are nothing like zoo animals. They can leave any time they want, for one.

The question is -- did PG ever work at a big company like Microsoft/Google/etc? Hard to tell from the article. Perhaps PG's intense imagination caused him to believe certain things are true while in reality they're illusions.

"It's the job equivalent of the pizza they had for lunch. "
This smells. Smells bad. This would be a lot better and believable:

I worked at <a huge company> and it sucked. I spent most of my time figuring out how to impress my boss and come to the office on time, and how to log my hours properly. When I quit because it got unbearable, I realized that my logging-hours-properly skills and and getting-to-the-office-on-time skills are unmarketable, and quite frankly, a bunch of bullshit.

techiferous 3 days ago 3 replies      
What if you agree with this article, you do feel constrained in an unhealthy way by your job in a large organization, but you don't feel that leaving for a small company or startup is an option (or at least not an option anytime soon)?

Well, here's a coping skill that can help you. Focus on doing your duty as well as you can, regardless of the context.

In other words, imagine your boss says that the web app must be written in C++ for political reasons, and you cannot convince him to switch to Ruby on Rails, and you just know that the project would die a slow painful death if written in C++. Well, supposing you are correct, you are in a crappy job: constrained to do the wrong thing and with a boss that cannot be convinced otherwise. And for whatever reason you've got to stick it out through this project.

Focus on being the best C++ web developer in the world. Do the absolute best job you can on the tasks that are assigned to you. Throw yourself into your work 110%. But to do this you have to shift your point of view. You cannot think about this as "wasted effort" since you know the project will ultimately fail. You must think about this as training. You are putting your mind through intense training, keeping your skills sharp, so that when the opportunity finally does come to leave your job (or perhaps a new boss comes along), your mind is in top form and ready to go. Sure, you've probably acquired some less than useful skills for web development (managing pointers) but you've probably acquired and maintained some very good transferrable skills.

Whatever you do, don't give up, because then your skills will atrophy.

dkokelley 3 days ago 2 replies      

How is it that this article is getting reposted? It's a great article, I know. But couldn't the HN community submit and upvote new and current articles? Wouldn't the community be better served by this? I suppose if enough members haven't seen it then the upvotes and front page placement are a net gain, but please don't let this stuff rise to the top just because pg wrote it. If it must stay up here, let it be because users who have not read the article prior find value in it.

/self-righteous rant

Gormo 2 days ago 0 replies      
This concept relates to a thought that I've had for a while regarding why large organizations always seem so inefficient and tend toward stagnation.

In a small group, formal rules and processes exist as layers of abstraction built on top of a substantive social context established by the complex interactions among the individual members. All of the cues, feedback mechanisms, and communication channels inherent in human nature are in full effect, and these usually generate appropriate and efficient responses to changing circumstances in real time.

But once you've gone beyond a certain level of scale, those mechanisms no longer function, and the more natural, emergent social context no longer forms a consistent substantive base layer. The rules and processes that originally existed as an abstraction layer instead become the lowest available level of complexity; and since these rules are the product not merely of design, but of design that originally took place within constraints that are no longer present, the formal rules are usually quite insufficient as a substitute.

Even those who recognize this problem at this point can do little about it, because there's no longer a workable context in which to generate and implement a solution. It may only be possible to avoid in advance by being very deliberate in the process of scaling, and building the organization as a 'confederation' of smaller groups divided along natural functional 'seams'.

This phenomenon may actually be more evident in politics than in business.

mindcrime 3 days ago 1 reply      
Or rather, a large organization could only avoid slowing down if they avoided tree structure. And since human nature limits the size of group that can work together, the only way I can imagine for larger groups to avoid tree structure would be to have no structure: to have each group actually be independent, and to work together the way components of a market economy do.

That might be worth exploring. I suspect there are already some highly partitionable businesses that lean this way. But I don't know any technology companies that have done it.

This is the most interesting bit in the whole article, to me. I honestly believe firms can be organized like this, and probably should be organized like this. Interestingly, there was a book that I read a few months ago.. I think it was this one (http://www.amazon.com/Adaptive-Enterprise-Sense-Respond-Orga...) that argued for something similar, and went into a lot of depth about how it could be done.

jleyank 3 days ago 0 replies      
quanticle says it well, but I wanted to add that some things require a scale that's unavailable to "a small bunch of guys". Say, for example, you'd like to cure a disease. Can't be done on the small, as you need various flavors of lab people, slugs of lab hardware and then a number of suits required to get $COUNTRY approval.

You can do this, I guess, with outsourcing (assuming you can protect the IP), but then you need even more $$ to get people to do what you want - doubt they'll work for equity.

In short, there are good large companies and bad large companies (as I suspect they are good/bad small companies and startups). Hunter/gatherer people had no excess capacity, so you died if you couldn't keep up. It's a nicer society when there's sufficient scale to tolerate old, expert or otherwise non-critical path people.

This goes with life as well as work.

justinhj 2 days ago 0 replies      
There's a really great book written by an anthropologist living with a group of pygmies in the Congo. They literally have no leader. Very interesting and a similar vibe to that of PG's lion http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Forest_People
wccrawford 3 days ago 0 replies      
While I disagree with the title (even in the hunter-gatherer days there was always a leader), I agree with the theory that people work better in smaller groups. I actually thought the number was more like 4-6, but 8 is pretty close to that.

I was actually just remarking about that the other day when enumerating some advantages that startups and other small companies have over large ones.

masto 2 days ago 0 replies      
People who are successful by accident sometimes develop a tendency to preach that the only way to be successful is to do what they did. It's almost like a kind of auto-cargo-cultism. "I had a pear tree in my front yard when I made my first million, so if you want to be rich, go out and plant pear trees!" Paul Graham is one of the better examples of this phenomenon. I would say he's gone off the deep end, but from what I can tell he's always been there. Of course there are nuggets of wisdom in his large accumulation of writing, but they're much fewer and further between than, for example, Joel Spolsky.

Also, could people stop spouting nonsense about what "humans weren't designed" to do or eat?

ww520 3 days ago 1 reply      
Whether you meant to have a boss or not, one thing I notice when working for myself is this - absolute creative freedom. There is no boss to tell you to finish a project you don't like. There's no boss to tell you to start a project on someone else's idea. There's no boss to tell you to use a certain technology or tool. If you want to suspend a project to pursue another one, no one would stop you. You have complete control over your creative process.
Sandman 2 days ago 0 replies      
This is article is really not so much against bosses per se as it is against large companies. But it seems to me that even small startups, if they are successful, grow into large companies with strongly defined structure and teams, and team leaders (or bosses, if you prefer that term).. and there's really not much that can be done about it. It's just natural - if you grow, you need to change your organizational structure. If there's 500 people in your company you can't pretend to be a small startup consisting of 5. You need to accept the fact that you've grown large and act accordingly. That means having a structure that's suitable to your current size.

Although this article idealizes the romantic picture of a small creative, innovative startup that disrupts large behemoth-like businesses, the fact is that most game-changing startups these days are, in fact, middle-to-large companies. Facebook has over 2000 employees. LinkedIn, 1000 in 2010. Groupon reportedly has over 3000 people in 29 countries [1]. The exception here is Twitter which only has about 450. If you want to be big, you got to grow big, and once that happens you got your teams, and bosses and so on.

But I disagree with the statement that big companies necessarily stifle your creativity. Google, for example, is a great example of a company that actually fosters creativity. As for not being able to learn as much working in a large company as working in a startup.. Well, I'd say it really depends on the company and people there. I learned a lot from my mentors at my first job working as an intern at a large company, and I would definitely say that, if anything, it made me a better developer.

[1] http://www.businessinsider.com/3000-people-in-29-countries

alexro 3 days ago 1 reply      
The food analogy is ingenious. Like junk food kills my real hunger and makes me a less active hunter/farmer, so the "junk" job makes me want to learn less and keeps me with safe choices.

Both in the not so long term destroy me as a competitive creature.

callmeed 3 days ago 0 replies      
I recall reading about Dunbar's Number in a Gladwell book.

I'm curious if this jives with what pg is saying about group size"or am I comparing apples and pears?

zipdog 2 days ago 0 replies      
Small companys have an advantage, but the potential influence of a large organisation suggests that there's a great benefit in size if you can effectively overcome the natural tendency toward stagnation through a tree structure.

I think technology can certainly help an organisation work effectively together with weaker integration, but ultimately a huge portion of it will be culture and personality.

Developing effective technology that assists in the development of the right sort of culture for a fluid, large organisation would be an interesting challenge. I think it might address the same sort of things that 'team building' exercises and retreats usually spectacularly fail at.

scythe 2 days ago 0 replies      
>It's not only the leaves who suffer. The constraint propagates up as well as down. So managers are constrained too; instead of just doing things, they have to act through subordinates.


kennystone 3 days ago 0 replies      
I agree with this article. What I find strange, however, is how he implies silicon valley is the normal way for humans to act, and yet the default way to do business there is to take huge amounts of venture capital. VC results in all sorts of restrictions employees and an impetus for the company to radically grow into the kind of large, unnatural company he's writing about. "Come to y-combinator to act more human so you can build a less human company if you're really successful!" The 37signals style relaxation bootstrapped business, however, well that seems to fit much better.
hxf148 3 days ago 0 replies      
I am leaving a full time and very good IT job with the federal government at the end of August. I don't have a super solid alternative income lined up but I am going after my dreams and that feels right. Having several layers of management and "bosses" has been so wrong for me in the last decade that it began to affect my health.
nfriedly 2 days ago 0 replies      
> [1] When I talk about humans being meant or designed to live a certain way, I mean by evolution.

Do you think that humans will eventually evolve to work better in larger groups if they keep getting pushed that way?

jscore 2 days ago 0 replies      
Really? I know plenty of people that aren't meant to be bosses and need someone else to guide them.

Not everyone is cut out to be a CEO or President, etc.

etruong42 2 days ago 0 replies      
What are we "meant" to do? Some people enjoy the active lifestyle full of exercise and unprocessed foods. Others don't mind eating whatever is convenient and enjoy other pursuits. Some don't even have the choice and would be (presumably) happier with either.

We can talk about what diet leads to greater cardiovascular health or what employment strategy is more productive. But trying to talk about something as amorphous as having more "meaning" is a lost cause.

paulnelligan 2 days ago 0 replies      
I'm presuming that Lions in the wild have a far greater chance of death and injury as well - a good reason to stay in the zoo perhaps ?

Eitherway, good luck to us all!

giaskaylee 2 days ago 0 replies      
PG offered some intriguing and keen insight with this article.

Think of YC as a company, and all the YC-founded startups as tiny, self-governing units under this big brand, you'll come to realize that despite the company lacks any form of management and a real boss in the traditional sense, it's working well and profitable.

ececconi 3 days ago 1 reply      
I think Paul makes some great points in this article. One thing he might overlook, however, is that people can have great mentors even in large organizations. Freedom is great and all, but is it really detrimental to work in a large organization? There is a reason that the organization as a whole is still around. Not everybody has the ability nor drive to run wild, come up with brand new ideas, and be revolutionary straight out of college.
rimmjob 2 days ago 0 replies      
didn't the prehistoric groups of our ancestors probably have some kind of leader or hierarchy?
adnanymously 3 days ago 0 replies      
Humans as small groups have always had a leader. And that leader in earlier times was the guy who was most powerful. When bosses are actually capable of being a boss (in terms of their ability), we're okay with it. It's only the dumb boss that irritates.
derrida 3 days ago 0 replies      
The suit is back.

EDIT: Reference -> http://paulgraham.com/submarine.html

The Problem with the iPhone's Home Button ignorethecode.net
216 points by joshuacc  2 days ago   198 comments top 33
modernerd 2 days ago  replies      
He's right. The default Home button behaviour should be to go the first page of the SpringBoard. The current behaviour even appears to contravene Apple's own iOS Human Interface Guidelines:

"Give people a logical path to follow. Make the path through the information you present logical and easy for users to predict."


"In most cases, give users only one path to a screen."

From: http://developer.apple.com/library/ios/#DOCUMENTATION/UserEx...

ohyes 2 days ago 3 replies      
I have fat fingers, I mis-click apps a lot. Sometimes I just graze safari or something when I am scrolling. Current functionality takes me back to the place where I left off. I easily click the app that i actually wanted.

Imagine my frustration when I mis-click an app, and instead of taking me back to the place where I was just a moment ago, it warps me back to the first page of applications. I have to rescroll through a few pages of apps.

After doing this a few times, I curse Steve Jobs' name and hurl the device from the driver's side window... lamenting the day I bought it. I hollar to my driver. He snaps his whip, urging my fine brace of stallions on-wards... to my local Verizon store where I purchase The Jitterbug: a testament to Human Interface Guidelines and ease of use.

Shenglong 2 days ago 0 replies      
I've been using iPhone for a year, and this seems perfectly intuitive for me. Maybe this is a bad assumption - but most people have common applications on a page or in a folder. Remembering home screens should make it easier to access other applications that are USUALLY used with the current one.

For example, I group all my work (let's say .doc, .xlsm, .ppt) into one folder. When I exit or alt tab, should it switch to the last thing I was on, or should it go to my desktop?

You only need to hit Home once anyway and the bit about the double tap is a little silly. A simple tap on the screen will get you out of the folder, and a finger swipe is a reliable method to change screens. I use my phone A LOT: text, email, twitter, fb, linkedin, lal, bloomberg, fxtrade, google voice, skype, and calender on a daily basis... and it's organized in patterns, so it minimizes browsing time.

parfe 2 days ago  replies      
I have a similar problem on my Droid X. Sometimes the back button goes back a page (such as in a web browser) or while reading a message back will go to my contacts list (in google talk or google voice).

But sometimes, in the same apps, the back button might take me back to the home screen (If i answered a message from the notification bar), or a previous app if something launched a browser.

It's incredibly aggravating that the behavior changes, and especially so as Android devices have a home button! Back should be constrained to a specific application. Otherwise in google talk I have no reliable way to get back to my contacts and usually have to make a trip back to the home screen to directly launch the talk app.

monochromatic 2 days ago 0 replies      
Apple should hire this guy. He eloquently described something that's bothered me for a long time about my phone, and the solution he came up with was one that hadn't occurred to me... but now that he's mentioned it, it seems clearly like the right answer.
panacea 2 days ago  replies      
If the iPhone had a home button and a back button, this wouldn't be an issue. But adding a physical back button is completely anathema to Apple's DNA.

Similar to the lack of out-of-the-box right-click functionality with their meece.

S_A_P 2 days ago 0 replies      
At first read, I found myself disagreeing with his assessment, mainly because app folders have allowed me to have a single page of apps. I do find that the state of the folder remaining open is slightly annoying. As to his point, I agree with him when I think that home should bring you home, not to almost home.

As a counterpoint to this, I do find that I use the same 3-5 apps most of the time on my phone so double clicking home as actually most efficient as I can double click and tap to get to where I want most of the time, though sometimes I do need to swipe through the list a page or two.

jinushaun 2 days ago 1 reply      
I like the physical home button (as opposed to Android's capacitive buttons), but I do agree that it's way too overloaded with functionality. Single click. Double click. Click and hold. App switching is a chore and takes way longer than it should to complete a task. However, more buttons is not the answer. iOS needs WebOS's multitasking gestures badly.
mrseb 2 days ago 0 replies      
Aza Raskin has written about the Home button before:

And other iPhone buttons, too:

algoshift 2 days ago 0 replies      
Apple's insistence on trying to overload one and only one button with all of this functionality is the real problem. I understand "cool" design. However, you can't beat hardware buttons and controls when used correctly. The iPhone should have several buttons. Gamers would LOVE this. It should also have a scroll-wheel on the side. I've had several devices with scroll-wheels, most notably blackberry phones. I happen to think that they are fantastic. Need to scroll through your contacts? You can do it with ONE hand. Use your thumb to scroll and click the scroll-wheel button to select.

Touch is neat, but it is also a PITA. Typing on iPhone or iPad is decidedly decades backwards with respect to hard-button keyboards. In addition to this, if you regularly communicate in multiple languages it is impossible to use the auto-completion feature and, therefore, you are relegated to making horrible spelling mistakes.

I like the devices for what they've done to push tech forward but it'd be nice to see Apple put out a new iPhone with something like a clamshell design and a real keyboard along with some multi-function buttons. It would make the platform so much more useful and easy on the users.

yesimahuman 2 days ago 1 reply      
I found the iPhone search functionality basically useless. Having search be part of the home screen made my experience worse.
zuppy 2 days ago 2 replies      
I have a different problem with that button: it brakes on all ios devices that I own. I broke it on a 3g, on a 4 and now i'm very close to do that again on an ipad. In the past, I had to push it just when I wanted to exit, now there are many new actions assigned to it.
hnsmurf 2 days ago 0 replies      
Remembering state intuitively makes sense because the real world remembers state. Apple uses a lot of real world metaphors, such as the inertial scrolling, for this reason.
jrockway 2 days ago 1 reply      
The problem is that it's not the "Home Button", it's the "Back Button".

I use Android, but I do see the value of the single-button UI. Although it may not be the "get me home ASAP button", it is easy to learn what happens. The only thing you can do with the phone is press that button. That makes it very easy to learn what's going to happen, and it's easy to predict what will happen in the future.

lukeschlather 2 days ago 2 replies      
I'm not entirely sure what the purpose of the search button and the menu button is, but I really hate using a phone that lacks hardware back and home buttons.
dgeb 2 days ago 2 replies      
I've always found the tactile experience of physically pressing the home button to be disruptive to the iPhone experience. I'd rather see them do away with it entirely, widen / lengthen the screen, and switch to a breadcrumb style navigation bar.

Imagine a swipe up scenario from the bottom that would show your full location using symbols (and allow you to navigate back with a press):
Home > Home Screen 4 > Running Apps > Current App Home > Current Page in App

evilswan 2 days ago 1 reply      
Good analysis.

I've definitely noticed the creep of more and more being added to the Home button in subsequent iOS releases.

I've not seen iOS 5 yet, but I hope that no more functionality is triggered by the button.

rchowe 2 days ago 0 replies      
I find it interesting that this is a reversal from the days of the spatial finder[1] in OS 9: Apple is implementing the spatial metaphor and people don't want it compared to when they took the metaphor away and people complained.

[1] I can't find a great link to describe this. Suffice to say the paradigm was that each folder had a new window and the windows stayed where you put them.

molecule 2 days ago 0 replies      
another problem: iOS waits to see if you're going to press the home button a second time, and this pause effectively introduced a performance regression to the User Interface. thanks, Apple!
9999 2 days ago 0 replies      
I group my applications roughly around similar functionality (language learning apps on one screen, games on another, utilities on another, etc.). When I use the home button to return to the SpringBoard, I usually want to open an application from the screen I launched from, not an application from the first page (which are in all likelihood accessible from the task switcher anyway). So Apple's way works for me.
micampe 2 days ago 1 reply      
I'm willing to bet that if it always put you back to the first screen, he would be saying that the Home button makes you lose context.

Design is always trying to find the best compromise.

pkamb 2 days ago 1 reply      
I have a similar issue with many iOS apps I use occasionally. I'll start up the app, weeks after last using it, and instead of the app's main screen it'll take me somewhere deep in the app. The screen where I last left off, weeks ago.

I don't care about that task, that was weeks ago. I'm opening up the app to start a new task right now. Take me to the main screen.

Safari has a similar issue. It will constantly save the last search you did. Every time I want to search, I have to delete the old search term first. Even 10 days after searching that term. A 2-minute timeout would be better.

fictorial 2 days ago 0 replies      
I would like a different SpringBoard in which there's just a single vertical scrolling list of icons with the app name to the right instead of the current horizontal pages and app groups. This list could be sorted by last-used-date or alphabetically. Hit the home screen once to go to this list.
buff-a 2 days ago 1 reply      
I'm somewhat wary of jumping into an issue that is obviously extremely personal and emotional for people, but this remark struck me as odd:

  You can't even resort to just hitting the home button
blindly a bunch of times, because if you hit it too
rapidly, the iPhone will interpret it as a double-tap.

What I find odd is that double-tap is the number one way that I launch apps. The author mentions the double-tap as if its a bad thing (in the context of finding an app to launch) and yet double-tap is the way to get to the recently-used apps to display.

I can't fault him on the other points, but this seemed like a blind-spot.

tobylane 2 days ago 0 replies      
Everyone needs some basic instructions on how to use something, in this case it's what is a click or a double click, what a slow double click does. When you simplify it that much it makes perfect sense to remember which springboard page you are on.
vectorpush 2 days ago 0 replies      
The real problem with the iPhone home button is that it requires a metric ton of force to register the depression.
gabiruh 1 day ago 1 reply      
Is this guy nuts? I'm on iOS 4.3 and I only need to hit the home button twice in a row to get from Safari to the home screen. One hit to send Safari background, and another hit to scroll from the current screen to home screen.
dkberktas 2 days ago 0 replies      
If you have many pages or folders, going directly first page will make start from scratch every time you hit the home button which for me very annoying. Say I am reading news from CNN app, when I close the app, I am expecting to see the news folder for BBC.
Cyph0n 2 days ago 1 reply      
Good point. It always bugs me when I hit the home button and end up in one of my custom folders when I actually needed something from the home screen.

Perhaps a Cydia developer could make a tweak to avoid this problem?

zentechen 2 days ago 0 replies      
I don't quite recall but isn't there a setting that you can change the behavior of Home Button, both single click and double click?
NormM 2 days ago 0 replies      
Absolutely agree. How do we communicate this to Apple?
ralphsaunders 2 days ago 1 reply      
I don't have an iPhone, but I thought holding the homebutton down returned you to the homescreen, making this a non-issue?
vxpster 2 days ago 0 replies      
For comparison, a visual guide to the Android's home button: http://i.imgur.com/JHlPD.png
What Google's Famous Cafeterias Can Teach Us About Health theatlantic.com
205 points by sasvari  2 days ago   66 comments top 13
cletus 2 days ago 4 replies      
One correction and one comment:

The article says cafeterias are available 24/7. That is not technically correct. The cafeterias are open for various meals on various days (eg one might do breakfast and lunch 5 days a week, another might do lunch 5 days a week and dinner 4 days a week).

What are available 24/7 are the micro-kitchens, which have coffee machines, breakfast cereal, various snacks, sodas, ice tea, etc. It is true that these do tend to have a healthier focus but it depends on what office you're in.

Also, I don't know what vending machines there are. I haven't seen any but then again I'm based on New York (although I've spent quite a bit of time in Mountain View).

So I'm not sure how the article reaches the conclusion it does because, at least in Mountain View, it's entirely possible to eat nothing but Oreos and Kit-Kats from the MKs 24/7.

It is true however that those items do tend to be on the lower shelves.

Lastly, this article seems very focused on Mountain View but that's only one of many offices, although it is by far the largest. In New York for example there are no bikes but there are scooters (the building we're in is an entire downtown city block and one of our floors is the entire floor so scooters actually do come in handy for traversing level 4).

I haven't seen bikes or scooters outside of these two offices however.

edw519 2 days ago 1 reply      
The pricing strategy is based on nutrient content, again according to the Harvard pyramid plan. For the vended products, you pay: one cent per gram of sugar, two cents per gram of fat, four cents per gram of saturated fat, one dollar per gram of trans fat...

Reminds me of the time I encountered a world renowned nutritional expert...

edw519: "I'm having trouble understanding these food labels."

expert: "Don't eat anything with a label."

michael_dorfman 2 days ago 5 replies      
The only place on the campus where employees pay for food is from a vending machine. The pricing strategy is based on nutrient content, again according to the Harvard pyramid plan. For the vended products, you pay:

  one cent per gram of sugar
two cents per gram of fat
four cents per gram of saturated fat
one *dollar* per gram of trans fat

That's very cool. I'd love to see this concept get wider usage.

scottyallen 2 days ago 2 replies      
The vending machine isn't quite what the article makes it out to be. For starters, it's one vending machine in all of Google (as far as I know).

It magically appeared one April Fool's day, and has been attributed to some of the SREs in charge of keeping web search running, but credit has never been claimed. There was a rather funny "I am spartacus" thread about the vending machine that appeared on a major email list after one of the facilities or kitchen management asked who was responsible, ostensibly so they could congratulate them.

I no longer work at Google (though I used to work downstairs from the vending machine), so it's awesome to hear it's still up and running and being stocked. I believe, at least for a while, facilities/cafe staff were officially condoning it if not restocking it. Definitely one of the more clever pranks I saw around campus.

acconrad 2 days ago 1 reply      
Trying to include vegetables in everything? Smart. But in no way are SunChips "eat anytime" food...certainly not healthier than walnuts. You don't see a page like this (http://whfoods.org/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=99) about SunChips.

If you want sound nutritional advice, I would tweak the Harvard pyramid in two ways: there's nothing you can gain from whole grains that you can't gain from fruits and vegetables. They should generally be regarded as yellow. The other thing is that they feature some really unhealthy fats that they consider to be healthy: soy, canola, sunflower, peanut, and other vegetable oils. Truly healthy fats would be red palm, coconut, olive and macadamia.

And while I applaud the idea of making junk food more expensive, their implementation based on macronutrients is horribly flawed. Sugar (which could include high-fructose corn syrup) is cheaper and offers virtually no benefit unless you are priming for a workout and require the energy and insulin spike. Fat provides satiety and promotes hormonal balance, particularly if the omegas (3,6,9) are balanced. They're off to a good start, but the article did a horrible job of illustrating how healthy they are.

grannyg00se 2 days ago 0 replies      
Sun Chips get a GREEN while 0.8 ounces of walnuts get a YELLOW label. What the hell?!
warmfuzzykitten 1 day ago 0 replies      
It's crazy to charge twice as much for fat as for sugar. Sure, fat has a little over twice as many calories as sugar, but fat won't give you diabetes and kill you. Sugar is actively dangerous. The country is still in the grip of the low-fat diet fad which has had the result of...wait for it...making us all fatter. And sicker.
vvpan 2 days ago 0 replies      
I really dislike these "what X can teach us about Y" titles, especially when they are misused. Like in this case, where "Google's Famous Cafeteria" has nothing to teach us about health which we did not know. It can make us jealous, though.
zentechen 2 days ago 1 reply      
My fav:

Smaller plate -> smaller portion.

That should be something easy to get started for any company.

hzay 2 days ago 0 replies      
1. The food is not available 24/7. There are snacks 24/7 but not the "famous food program".

2. Not all of it is totally free. There are paid breakfast services in some offices.

Tharkun 2 days ago 4 replies      
I do wish more companies would take lessons from this. Sadly it seems like this will only ever work for relatively big companies. Having to hire someone to cook for a team of 10 doesn't really seem worth it. And feeding a team of 10 anything other than sandwiches seems impractical.

There are many catering services out there that (pardon the pun) cater to smaller crowds, but in my experience their food is invariably crap. Think hospital chow. I'd like to see this void filled. Surely there's room for a "health lunches delivered on your doorstep"-startup? Because face it, we programmers need to be fed healthy food, because our natural instincts seem to direct us to the nearest pizza place.

fedd 1 day ago 0 replies      
i think i would be hungry all the time at google
quadrant6 2 days ago 0 replies      
In our office, the cupboards are stocked with Coke, V, Potato Chips and snack bars.
Lesser known cool features of HTML5 html5-demos.appspot.com
203 points by whalesalad  3 days ago   49 comments top 24
bugsy 2 days ago 2 replies      
Got some error messages, then a stalled page. If this is the future of the web, we are doomed.
Silhouette 2 days ago 1 reply      
If that sort of page is cool, please give me back an HTML4 page I can just browse through without wasting several minutes waiting for the content to appear.
radarsat1 2 days ago 0 replies      
My ears!

I know it's not the point but his audio synthesis sounds terrible, and that makes me feel like nit-picking:

- 8-bits at 20 kHz really?

- He's actually specifying 20480 Hz in the code, so it's not in tune

- He's using the range 255, but it's 8 bits _signed_ so it should be 127, so he's getting lots of distortion.

His wav header should be:

   0x44,0xAC,0,0,       // 44,100 samples per second
0x88,0x58,0x01,0, // byte rate: two bytes per sample
2, 0, // aligned on every two bytes
16, 0, // 16 bits per sample

and then in the synthesis:

  var samplespercycle = 44100 / frequency;
var samples = new Uint16Array(44100 * duration);
var da = 2 * Math.PI / samplespercycle;
for(var i = 0, a = 0; i < samples.length; i++, a += da) {
samples[i] = Math.floor(Math.sin(a) * 32768);

jarin 2 days ago 2 replies      
I'm just going to take this opportunity to shake my fist at Internet Explorer, because much of this stuff is useless on production websites (some things are usable with Javascript hacks).
bzbarsky 2 days ago 1 reply      
This presentation is pretty evil (or maybe incompetent?). It mixes up proposed standard features that are broadly supported, proposed standard features that are not well supported, and proprietary WebKit extensions that have no chance of being standardized as they are and presents it all as "HTML5". It also has code snippets that try to look like they'll work cross-browser but are actually broken in non-WebKit browsers due to relying on some of those extensions...
icode 2 days ago 1 reply      
Too slow. Didn't read.
unfletch 2 days ago 1 reply      
Element.classList is a bit of an odd addition. No doubt it'll be useful, but wouldn't something more generic have served us better? Class isn't the only attribute that takes space-delimited values. (Or is there also Element.relList?)
andybak 2 days ago 0 replies      
Anyone got a transcript so I can read it at normal human speed?
Kilimanjaro 2 days ago 0 replies      

    <body style="display: none">

I see nothing... as expected, I guess.

smashing 2 days ago 3 replies      
I tried the link on a Mac using OS X 10.6.8 with Firefox 5.0.1 (latest) and I get this quasi-popup error

"https://html5-demos.appspot.com/static/html5-whats-new/slide... (line 480) : slide.dataset is undefined"

speleding 2 days ago 0 replies      
I clicked the "speech input" element on the webpage and said "this is cool" and... the element showed "this is cool". It just works, no configuration or anything. This is so cool.
benatkin 2 days ago 1 reply      
About half the demos worked for me. I'm running Chrome for Mac, with the Developer Channel. Will Canary Build (only available on Windows) run them all?
NHQ 2 days ago 0 replies      
You all are bums. There are some excellent features to be up and coming. The point is not that some features do or don't work in some other browser. The point is you can point your users to an free, cross platform app they can download that runs you web-app with native implementations.

X.platform > X.browser

smashing 2 days ago 1 reply      
I'm using an iPad. I see nothing.
exogen 2 days ago 1 reply      
Page appears totally blank in Mobile Safari.
Joakal 2 days ago 1 reply      
Is it really HTML5 if it requires javascript? I saw more with no javascript than with javascript.
jrubinovitz 2 days ago 0 replies      
A lot of these examples are not working for me (I'm running Google Chrome 12.0.742.112), especially the Audio example which I really wanted to use. I'm really excited about the features this presents, I just wish they worked on my browser.
wisty 2 days ago 0 replies      
The video and audio recording APIs look cool. Though what people will end up using them for them will probably be dreadful.
p0nce 2 days ago 0 replies      
> Chrome caps sampling at 60fps (no big, your monitor is ~60Hz)

No. My monitor here works up to 85 hz, a lot of LCD screen out there are capped at 75 hz. By limiting the framerate to 60 hz on a 75 hz screen you'll force it to look inferior to 60 fps because of duplicated frames (20% of them). It may actually matter in a game.

zobzu 3 days ago 1 reply      
this is kind of bad because it mostly uses webkit specific tags, so thatll only work on webkit, even if other browsers would support the tag too
homemadejam 2 days ago 0 replies      
I spotted a few typos, then came across the Spell Check API! Either way, I learnt a few new things, so I'm happy!
wesley 2 days ago 0 replies      
Blank in safari, stops at slide 2 in chrome 12 and firefox 5... Safe to say that these features are not worth exploring yet.
bleblanc 2 days ago 0 replies      
Couldn't get it to work in Chrome, Firefox, or IE
nin_appa 2 days ago 0 replies      
Press F11 to to better appearance.
Dyslexie: A typeface for dyslexics thenextweb.com
199 points by pvilchez  4 days ago   65 comments top 18
giberson 4 days ago 4 replies      
A few questions for dyslexics:

1) Is it consistent? Do you have have trouble with the same letters/letter pairings? Or do different words tend to have different effects?

2) Normal readers tend to read the "word" and not the individual letters. Do/Can dyslexics do the same? As an example, if for instance dyslexics commonly were to transpose the "o" and "u" combination "ou" to "uo" I'm wondering if dyslexics read the jumbled "yuo" immediately as "you" or, does dyslexia prevent you from even recognizing the pattern and you have to laboriously read "y" "u" "o", transpose "o" and "u" and recognize "you".

The reason I ask is because I'm curious if such a typeface might actually be hurtful to dyslexic readers. While the typeface is easier to read for dyslexics I wonder if using such a type face for initial reading education would have a side effect. When the reader switches to non dyslexic type faces, %99.99 the rest of all digital type, they will have diminished capacity for reading those texts (more so than having learned to cope with the frequent errors of those type faces)?

In other words, might the best solution to be educating dyslexics by recognizing they may see different or multiple letter patterns for certain words and simply train them to recognize each possible version of those letter patterns?

IE. Here's a vocabulary sheet for Johny, a non dyslexic child:

    "mouse" - a small four legged mammal.
"house" - a building you live in.

The same vocabulary sheet for Mikey, a dyslexic child.

    "mouse", "muose" - a small four legged mammal.
"house", "huose" - a building you live in.

Granted I'm very ignorant of this disorder and I may be over simplifying it. But my ultimate question and I don't mean it to sound cold or callous, but might it be better to focus efforts on teaching dyslexics to deal with it?

hammmatt 4 days ago 4 replies      
This is very anecdotal naturally. But I am a dyslexic and it was really a struggle for me as a little kid. I don't like reading very much because it is a frustrating endeavor. I like information, I like thinking, and I guess I have favored smaller condensed pieces when reading. Perhaps why I love this website

I can attest though that upon seeing the paragraph written at the end of the video that the text was much easier to read. I was really quite blown away with it. I'm all for this, and really hope it can get spread around.

I don't think you can make someone who is not a reader become one. But I think like anyone who can't do something by a limitation when it is removed you have a new found respect for what you didn't have. It may not be a big market, but trust me there is a market here.

I'm going to download all of these on every part of my system that I can tonight.

wccrawford 4 days ago 4 replies      
In the video is says that dyslexic readers made fewer errors when reading the text than normal readers, and they think that means that it helps dyslexics read easier.

What kind of experiment is that? If you want to know if it helps dyslexics, you don't change out the dyslexics... You change out the font!

It sounds like they either don't understand experimentation at all, or they borrowed someone else's results and tried to read things into them.

Edit: As noted below, they apparently actually did test whether dyslexics could read that font better or not. They just also happened to test normal people as well, to see if they were affected. The video confuses this.

JeanPierre 4 days ago 4 replies      
Interestingly, the much hated font Comic Sans is another good font for dyslexics because the letters look more different from each other than e.g. Times New Roman. Therefore, if you're making invitations to your son's 7-year old birthday, Comic Sans is a great font for the text.
tokenadult 4 days ago 0 replies      
The statement in the video "dyslexics rotate the letters" is largely untrue. For some really cool details on reading research, see Reading in the Brain: The New Science of How We Read


by a neuroscientist who has studied these issues for years and who is familiar with the difference that different scripts make in reading difficulties.

kaddar 4 days ago 2 replies      
Does the kindle support custom fonts? It would be cool if one could experiment with this and other modern fonts focusing on readibility
petercooper 4 days ago 1 reply      
I admit I know little about this area so I'm just throwing this out there for wiser people to comment on. I heard on a reasonably authoritative radio show/podcast (can't remember what, but something like a BBC Radio 4) that the incidence of dyslexia in countries with simpler relationships between letters and phonemes (sounds) had significantly lower reported levels of dyslexia. Italy and Spain, for example. They were trying to make the point that languages with more consistent phonetics are less likely to bring up issues that would identify someone as dyslexic.
bauchidgw 4 days ago 0 replies      
warning: dont visit the nextweb.com with an ipad, they use some horrible horrible swipe/touch/die suckware, go to the source instead http://www.studiostudio.nl/en/project-dyslexie/
george_morgan 4 days ago 2 replies      
Related, the Read Regular project: http://www.readregular.com/english/background.html
antihero 3 days ago 1 reply      
Can anyone find a TTF/OTF on that site? Incidentally, the text on this page looks like utter shit:


At least in comparison to the video.

cpeterso 4 days ago 0 replies      
A similar idea is DPCustomMono2, a font adapted by "Distributed Proofreaders" project to make proofreading for mistakes easier. It's not the prettiest font, but it is effective.


pasbesoin 3 days ago 0 replies      
For those who are not color blind, what about varying the colors? For different letters. Or, working from the presented idea of letter shapes to reinforce orientation,changing color within a letter (e.g., "blue = bottom")?
dholowiski 4 days ago 0 replies      
I know it's totally off topic but did anyone else read thar article on an iPad? The theme they're using is a bad attempt at making the site work like an ebook and it sucks.
VladRussian 4 days ago 0 replies      
emphasizing the differences between letters reminded about the hand writing recognition on Palm.
mike_ivanov 4 days ago 0 replies      
I really want a fixed-width version of this font.
gte910h 4 days ago 1 reply      
Where do you get the font?
tarkin2 4 days ago 0 replies      
The font is rendered via HTML5's canvas, incidentally.
shoesfullofdust 4 days ago 0 replies      
Additional information can be found on the designer's website: http://www.studiostudio.nl/en/project-dyslexie/
What G+ is really about (pst it's not social) google.com
194 points by fttechfounder  2 days ago   84 comments top 23
ulvund 2 days ago  replies      
On Facebook you buy ads for ~$1+ because you can set target demographic to something as specfic as "women; 42-47 years old; looking for relationships with other women; with a degree in biology or computer science; attened Harvard; Works at IBM; who likes horseback riding or skiing"

Imagine if google knew BOTH your search term and your complete personal history. Then the ad price and conversion would increase enormously.

That is what Google is trying to get a piece of.

JonnieCache 2 days ago 0 replies      
Why can't it be many or all of these things?

I find it highly implausible that google has as strong a desire to form simple, narrow narratives around its strategy and ambitions as bloggers and the media do.

arkitaip 2 days ago 2 replies      
It's times like this that I wish HN was curated. It seems that everyday we get posts like this where some random person - "I'm a first time tech founder; I'm also a first time programmer." - conjures up a bunch of ideas supported only by their imagination.
code_duck 2 days ago 0 replies      
I'm not quite used to seeing a photo of myself in the top bar across Google sites, but I can certainly see where they're taking this is more than the 'facebook killer!!' the media would make it out to be. Google has a lot more to offer as a company than Facebook - YouTube, Docs, two OSs, a vast ad network, search and news - in addition to their features which overlap with FB, such as Blogger or Picasa. Google+ is unifying all of that into a very impressive product, which is rather unprecedented. I'd be looking at what Apple thinks, too. And Amazon... it's definitely not just about Facebook.
podperson 2 days ago 2 replies      
Right now, G+ is populated by a bunch of early adopters and it's pretty nice, mostly because 90% of the folks you know and only keep in touch with out of a sense of duty haven't gotten in, and G+ doesn't support superpoke and Zynga yet.

Even so, with a smallish population of users and the spammers still figuring out how to operate, G+ has some serious usability problems (like you can only see 2-3 items in your stream at a time on a high resolution display) and it's already getting kind of spammy. In to succeed, Google needs to maintain laser-like focus of usability and continue to innovate on a small number of features -- it can't just glom random stuff onto it or integrate random GoogleLabs projects.

For those whom Google Docs is a suitable replacement for Sharepoint, I doubt integrating G+ will make a huge difference. For those for whom Google Docs is inadequate, G+ won't tip the balance. If G+ takes the proposed approach it will actually alienate many potential users. It's better to embrace the outside world than replace it. (And, in fact, it contradicts the "blue ocean" strategy.)

Frankly, from a big picture strategic viewpoint, it's great to see Google annihilating Facebook, but it's fiddling while China burns. It's losing search, and no-one in China aspires to own an Android phone -- they're saving up to buy iPhones and using non-Google Android phones while they wait.

currywurst 2 days ago 2 replies      
Great usage of the G+ photo viewer for slides, but I don't think G+'s main focus is about moving apps/games into the cloud ..

The most convincing argument I have heard is that 'social signals' are (going to be?) a fantastic resource for cutting through the spammy, link-swapping www of today.

rmc 2 days ago 0 replies      
Summary: Google+ is an attempt to move applications/things onto the web, and make sharing and coloborating easier. The goal is not to take on Facebook/Twitter, but to take on MS Office and App Stores
drdaeman 2 days ago 2 replies      
G+ is about moving everything into the Google "cloud". In a same way Facebook (and VKontakte, and whatever else) is about moving everything into their "cloud".

Cloud is a buzzword, it doesn't really mean anything here.

G+ is just a Buzz (thus, GMail) + GTalk + Picasa + Latitude + Google Profiles, covered under one convenient interface. You can't peer with it, you have to actually use it itself (i.e., have and maintain an account there). Yes, there are some APIs to control that account (FB has some, too), and you could have a backup copy of your own data, but doesn't really matter.

It's still almost exactly the same as Facebook.

nl 2 days ago 0 replies      
No, it's about social.

The other stuff is already happening, and Google is winning.

MaxGabriel 2 days ago 0 replies      
Why can't it be about both? Also, from the perspective of Google, why let Facebook enjoy the 'blue ocean' of social, if the blue/red ocean is such an important concept for new products?
radarsat1 2 days ago 1 reply      
> "do you know how often people still email documents / photos / spreadsheets?"

Great, so G+ is yet another attempt to get people to stop using common communications standards like email and instead break the internet up into a set of distinct one-provider-oriented services that can't talk to each other?

contextfree 2 days ago 0 replies      
So ... social networking isn't "blue ocean", but office suites and app stores are? Huh?
mirkules 2 days ago 1 reply      
FYI, it's really hard to see the blue ocean / red ocean slides on my mobile device, and enlarging them only makes it blurry (samsung galaxy s). It's funny because I got to the punchline and couldn't read it. I still don't know what it says other than guessing that it's all about the apps.
jwingy 2 days ago 1 reply      
I remember reading somewhere that Google's overarching policy is really a "scorched earth" policy where due to the "fuck you" money afforded them by their search business, they are able to offer services and products from which their competitors (probably anybody in tech) derive their core business from for almost nothing. Effectively this creates a moat around the Google castle with the surrounding land razed, allowing no one else to subsist or grow large enough to ever challenge them.

Sometimes I believe this...sometimes I don't. Any thoughts?

nwmcsween 2 days ago 0 replies      
G+ is a move into social media, what's a better way to have live data on your user base than the data generated by a service you control, and maybe why profiles must be public.
leot 2 days ago 0 replies      
G+ is also about giving Google a much richer social relationships graph than anyone has ever had. I can only wonder at the long-term effects of the information asymmetries that are developing. At least with twitter (and fb, for that matter) most of the relationships were public.
david_a_r_kemp 2 days ago 0 replies      
From where I stand, G+ is about advertising - the more information Google have about you, the better they can target ads at you, and therefore the more likely you are to click on their ads, thereby making them money.
fabjan 2 days ago 0 replies      
I really don't see Google allowing people to share apps they bought.
gcb 2 days ago 1 reply      
it's not mobile either... completely impossible to read that on android
quinndupont 2 days ago 0 replies      
I can think of better ways of displaying that information. Ugh.
siphr 2 days ago 0 replies      
Nicely done and easier to follow. Although I think just like any good business Facebook cannot let it's guard down no matter what this presentation says.
Ryan_IRL 2 days ago 0 replies      
I just like how G+ helps me share internet jokes with my friends, and at the same time, still be within my anti-social comfort zone.
hm2k 2 days ago 1 reply      
I guess this is why there's no Google Chrome App to compete with Tweetdeck.
How to Cure Deep Procrastination calnewport.com
188 points by joshuacc  1 day ago   64 comments top 25
thaumaturgy 1 day ago 4 replies      

I can't believe everyone's actually discussing this as though it were insightful.

Look, you're sitting at home, you're a student, and you have, let's say, three things you can choose to do right now:

1. You can study for your class tomorrow, working towards a degree. Effort required: high. Reward: far future.

2. You can go out with friends. Effort required: medium to low. Reward: near future.

3. You can play a video game. Effort required: low. Reward: immediate.

So which one do you really want to do?

Before you answer that, let's add one more little piece to our hypothetical: let's imagine that you have all the time in the world. You're immortal. There is absolutely no rush to get your degree. Whether you do it this year or in thirty years will make absolutely no difference.

So which one do you do?

This is procrastination. I should know. I'm an expert procrastinator. There are about eleventy-seven things I should be doing right now -- and they are all things which require a lot of effort right now, and won't pay off today. What am I doing instead? I'm wasting time on HN: low effort, immediate reward. If I couldn't be on HN, I'd probably be in my garden. Again: low effort, quick reward.

This guy's a book author. He wants to sell more books. He probably wants to make a little extra money doing speaking engagements. So he has to set himself up as an expert, and to do that, he's put together this notion about "ancient brains" and evolutionary psychology (which is mostly bunkem) and the "wasting" of energy.

And it sounds sort of OK, except that it skirts around the basic notion that we're largely reward driven, and all of these distractions that we have today are really good at pushing our little reward button, and we'll keep triggering our reward button for as long as we can -- until we become that little mouse that starved itself to death pushing its feel-good button.

Short-circuiting this requires two forms of self discipline: one, you have to tear yourself away from pushing the reward button occasionally (and no amount of telling yourself why you're trying to get a degree will do that). You have to have enough self-awareness to realize that you've just blown your entire afternoon on a game or online and you have nothing to show for it, and maybe you should try to squeeze in some actual work before the day's over.

Two, you have to have the discipline to recognize the things that make you procrastinate, and engineer around them. For me, it's barriers. Once I get working on something, I'll plow through it like a bullet through jelly. But, if I'm not yet working on it, and there's the merest little speed-bump of a barrier to overcome before I can work on it ... then I don't want to start.

So, for that reason, I put a lot of extra effort into making it really convenient to get things done. I write scripts that do things for me with a single command. I keep things organized so that I don't have to find things (which is a barrier) before I can get started. I try to keep things simple.

But that's just me. Maybe it's different for you.

But I seriously doubt that the approach in this guy's article will actually help anybody.

gfunk911 1 day ago 3 replies      
BODY OF THE ARTICLE (currently 503):

The Deep Procrastination Crisis

Above is a snapshot of my blog e-mail inbox, filtered to only show e-mails from students struggling with deep procrastination. Notice that there are close to 60 such messages. If I include blog comments in the search, the number jumps into the hundreds.

Deep procrastination is a distressing affliction. Students who suffer from it lose the ability to start school work. Deadlines pass and they hand nothing in. Professors provide special extensions, but the students still can't bring themselves to do the work. And so on.

As evidenced by my inbox, this issue is surprisingly common, especially at elite colleges. Yet it's also almost entirely off the radar of traditional student counseling, which is why I dedicate time to it here.

In my previous post, I introduced a dubious evolutionary explanation for an otherwise very real phenomenon: procrastination, in my experience, is not a character flaw, but instead evidence that you don't have a believable plan for succeeding at what you're trying to do. In this post, as promised, I want to apply this evolutionary perspective to help better understand, and therefore better combat, the deep variety of this common issue.

The Question of “Why”

Deep procrastination usually strikes students later in their college career, when the difficulty of their courses ratchets up. At this stage, their work load gets harder and harder, and at some point some powerful part of their brain says “no more!”

An evolutionary perspective on procrastination helps explain this reaction. The student is asking his or her brain to expend lots of energy (from a biological perspective, studying for an orgo exam is an expensive thing to do). One way to see this process is that there's an ancient part of our brain that has evolved to evaluate any such plans " a filter, of sorts, to prevent the wasting of precious energy.

“Why are we going to expend so much precious energy?”, it asks.

The more modern, abstract-reasoning, rational part of the student's brain is quick to respond: “Because we need to expend this energy to pass the test which we need to earn our degree!”

“What the hell is a ‘degree' and why do we need one?”, the ancient brain counters.

“Because that's what you're supposed to do,” the rational brain responds.

And this is where the problem occurs.

The rational part of the brain is promoting an abstract societal value. It knows that for a middle class American, earning a college degree is an expected milestone on your path to integration into the middle class economy

But the ancient brain doesn't do well with abstract societal values, which are a recent addition to humankind on the scale of evolutionary time. One way to understand deep procrastination, therefore, is as a rejection of an ambiguous, abstract answer to the key question of why you're going through the mental strain required by the college experience.

(As in my previous post, I'm using an evolutionary explanation metaphorically " as a way to help explain a concrete phenomenon I've observed in my research and writing on this topic. Whether the evolutionary explanation for the phenomenon is strictly true is somewhat beside the point and beyond my expertise.)

The good news is that this understanding provides a clear strategy for combating this scourge: form a more concrete and personal answer to the question of “why.”

Combating Deep Procrastination

From my experience, an effective answer to this question of why you're at college can be constructed through the following process:

First, devise a (tentative) answer to the following question: What makes a good life good? This is the foundation on which everything else in your life will be built. Your goal is not the identify the “right” answer, but to instead identify a working hypothesis. This answer will evolve along with your life experience, so this is not a time for perfectionism. If you're religious, your starting point for finding this answer is obvious. If you're not religious, you could jump into philosophy " as this question has been at the core of human thinking since the time of the Greeks " but I've found it's more approachable to start with biographies of people whose life you admire, looking for evidence of their own responses to this prompt.
Second, decide how your experience at college can best be leveraged to support this vision of a good life. If, for example, you decide the key to a good life is to master something useful to the world, this might lead to you to see college as an opportunity to master a hard skill while exposing yourself to examples of people applying this skill in useful ways.
Third, identify the set of specific student tactics that will help you succeed in this leveraging. In our above example, this thinking might lead you to the concrete strategies I espoused in my romantic scholar series.
This process provides a more personal and concrete answer to the fundamental question being posed by your ancient brain.

“Why should I expend all this difficult energy?”, it asks once again.

“Because it's part of a well-thought through plan for leading a good life,” you now respond.

“Sounds good,” it agrees while you head to the library.

As I noted in an earlier post on this subject, this self-reflection is not an easy process. But college really is a fantastic time to face these basic questions. Deep procrastination, once you understand its source, doesn't have to a Jobian affliction. It can instead be seen as the prompt you need to get your internal shop in order.

If you've had success combating deep procrastination with answers to these basic questions, please share your experience. Concrete examples help deep procrastinators commit to a way out.

diiq 1 day ago 1 reply      
This is an excellent suggestion --- though anyone who uses this method should be prepared to discover, sometimes, that they not only have no motivation to complete the given task, but also that the task does not lead in any clear way to what they have decided is a good life. The task can be happily dropped at that point iff they were totally honest in defining "a good life" and completely informed about the path from here to there.
gwern 1 day ago 0 replies      
> In my previous post, I introduced a dubious evolutionary explanation for an otherwise very real phenomenon: procrastination, in my experience, is not a character flaw, but instead evidence that you don't have a believable plan for succeeding at what you're trying to do. In this post, as promised, I want to apply this evolutionary perspective to help better understand, and therefore better combat, the deep variety of this common issue.

Instead of fumbling with folk intuitions and deeply dodgy evolutionary psychology (hard for even the experts to not embarrass themselves doing), why not look at what the psychologists have actually found?

http://lesswrong.com/lw/3w3/how_to_beat_procrastination/ covers the literature. (You will notice that the equation includes 'expectancy' as only one of the related variables. This is a simplified form; the full equation with the details can be found in all the linked PDFs. http://lesswrong.com/tag/procrastination/ also has a lot of interesting reading which are much better than this guy.)

And heck, while I'm at it, the overview of research on how to be happy: http://lesswrong.com/lw/4su/how_to_be_happy/

mattmillr 1 day ago 3 replies      
I had this same issue in college, and later as an employee. I've discovered I don't perform very well when I have to ask "why" too many times to figure out the value of the work I'm doing.

"Why am I studying this material? To pass the test. Why? To pass the class. Why? To get a good GPA? Why?..." You lost me several Whys back!

As a professional, it was the same way. The worst was when my short stint in Finance, but even working for nonprofits and social-conscious startups, it's tough for me to get motivated when the end goal is too many layers of abstraction away.

(I think that's strange, because when I'm actually dealing with technology, abstraction is one of my strengths.)

This was one of the factors in my decision to start my own company. I want to get rid of the layers of Whys and let them have more weight. Why am I working on this project? To make this client happy, so I can pay the rent this month.

Another approach that has helped me in the last year or so has been phrasing my goals and aspirations in the form, "I want to be the kind of person who ___." Then do ___!

wccrawford 1 day ago 1 reply      
Had me at "procrastination, in my experience, is not a character flaw, but instead evidence that you don't have a believable plan for succeeding at what you're trying to do" but lost me again at "ancient brain" and not putting out unnecessary energy.

While I've experienced procrastination that had nothing to do with not having a good plan, I've also had the kind that does. And it's far worse.

Some procrastination occurs because we know we have time, and other things seem more important or fun.

Lack-of-plan procrastination is worse, though. You delay until you have a plan, but without a plan, you can't know if you have time to finish. That -should- push you into making a plan immediately, but the whole enormity of the situation causes a panic reaction that prevents you from thinking rationally about the plan to start with. In the end, you put it aside until you can deal with it. It doesn't matter what reason (tired, no time, need something/someone, etc) you give, it all ends up the same.

The only way out of that kind (that I've found) is to seek help. Complain to random people about it, ask people with specific knowledge, etc etc. Just find help somewhere. Sometimes you just need a direction to start heading in.

btcoal 1 day ago 0 replies      
"Deep procrastination usually strikes students later in their college career, when the difficulty of their courses ratchets up. At this stage, their work load gets harder and harder, and at some point some powerful part of their brain says “no more!”"

My mileage definitely varied. I found that after my second (Sophomore in the US) year in college I rarely procrastinated. It was getting through the required classes the first two years, where the why at the end of a long chain of questions was "because you have to to graduate from MIT." That's not as motivating as it sounds.

Eventually I was taking only classes I wanted to be in. And if I didnt want to do an assignment and wasnt going to destroy my GPA I just didnt do it.

Fast-forward to the real world and it returns. Deadlines from bosses help to avoid procrastination but if the work isn't too challenging and expectations are low enough you can still do some deep procrastinating.

But then again, maybe the reasoning my work isn't challenging enough is because I didn't get the most amazing job in the world because I didn't just push through those assignments in college that I really didn't want to do. Hmmm...that's some meta-circular evaluation right there[1].

[1] No it isnt.

yread 1 day ago 0 replies      
503 Service Temporarily Unavailable

That works as well :)

ForrestN 1 day ago 2 replies      
This strikes me as a somewhat naive understanding of human motivation. While these kinds of reframing techniques might have some impact, most people procrastinate because of subconscious motives they have rather than conscious ones. If you procrastinate to the point that it negatively impacts your ability to function effectively, by definition you have a psychological disorder (of whatever severity) and would do well to tackle that in some form of therapy.

Cognitive psychology might offer a more sophisticated version of this article's strategy, where psychodynamic would try to identify and work through the underlying cause of your motives not to work (e.g. part of you wants to experience the sense of crisis that comes from being incredibly behind on a deadline, so let's try to understand that part of you).

MaxGabriel 1 day ago 0 replies      
Hmm, Cal is the only one who has pinpointed a very real, seemingly unexplored phenomenon. The problem is, he's just one person and seems to really struggle to grasp this phenomenon. Not struggle like he doesn't have any clue where he's going, but a kind of grappling with the essence of dp. So, his theories sort of feel like hypotheses that hes refining over time. This is very much how I read Cal, as if I'm reading a log of his ongoing research and suspicions
Produce 1 day ago 0 replies      
As an alternative explanation for why we procrastinate, I'd like to introduce the idea that modern society is fundamentally broken. If we have social structures (software) in place which go so deeply against the grain (wetware) then the problem is not the grain but the direction that we are sanding in. In essence, modern society is trying to run ARM instructions on an x86 CPU. It's a testament to how broken it is that someone would suggest that the effect is the thing to be cured, as opposed to the cause.

The fact of the matter is that we have orders of magnitude more knowledge about how we work and what makes us happy than even 50 years ago. Yet we do not apply it. It's the same as the issue in software development where we have accepted industry standards for producing quality work yet relatively few teams use them, and hardly any use all of them.

Ofcourse, the reason for these inefficiencies at processing new information is the same as the one which causes procrastination - the wetware simply isn't built for it. And so we have a vicious circle. There is, however, light at the end of the tunnel. Whatever we are aware of at a given point in time will shape the next moment. Yes, our wetware is at odds with the environment it has created, but our wetware is capable of self-modification, hence the author's suggestion being a perfectly good one until we can reach the tipping point as a collective. But I still argue that curing procrastination is putting a bandage on a rotting limb which desperately needs to be amputated and replaced with a tentacle.

snorkel 1 day ago 1 reply      
I found that tackling a project is easier if you just do one fast and simple setup task without obligating yourself to do anything more than that.

The fast simple setup task could be something that takes less than one minute of your time, such as open an application, create a new document, type a few notes, save the file.

Procrastination is friction. Doing the first simple task without any direction or commitment gives you that initial push force needed to get the project moving.

qaexl 1 day ago 0 replies      
The general doctrine sounds great. The specific solution outlined sucks. My hypothesis: easier to get in touch with primal survival instincts and twiddling that directly. The author is still answering those self-reflection questions with abstract thoughts that has nothing to do with survival instincts.

Meaning: Interrupt yourself every time you feel procrastination -- that heavy, draining, depressing, oppressing feeling -- that sudden drop in energy when thinking about taking the next step -- or even planning and deciding the course of action to take you to your goal. Catch yourself feeling this. Then directly manipulate that.

smcl 1 day ago 0 replies      
503 error - "Please try again later"

Oh the irony

bitwize 1 day ago 0 replies      
"Choose life. But why would I want to do a thing like that> I chose not to choose life; I chose something else."
lincolnwebs 1 day ago 0 replies      
Conversely, sometimes you decide it isn't worth it. My senior year of high school, I was being pushed to take 3 AP courses. I thought about what I wanted out of my senior year, and decided I already had what I needed to get into college and wanted to enjoy it. I took 1 AP course instead - and procrastinated in it horribly, but at least my GPA didn't suffer horribly from 1 course.

Sometimes you don't need to convince yourself of anything, you need to change course.

keeptrying 1 day ago 0 replies      
I wish I had read this post in college! Any course I didn't like ended up with me being happy with a "D"...
squasher 1 day ago 0 replies      
If you liked/needed this post, you'll LOVE The Now Habit: http://www.amazon.com/Now-Habit-Overcoming-Procrastination-G...
sardonicbryan 1 day ago 1 reply      
How to stop procrastinating:

1) Stop reading articles about procrastination.
2) Start doing what you're supposed to be doing, you lazy asshole.

bborud 1 day ago 0 replies      
I added it to my Read-It-Later queue.

I win.

swah 1 day ago 0 replies      
Now I'm curious about the Good Will Hunting email.
checoivan 1 day ago 0 replies      
Do something you love.
Uthros 1 day ago 1 reply      
Suggestion 1) Stop looking at Hacker News
garyrichardson 1 day ago 0 replies      
I'll read it later.
pier0 1 day ago 0 replies      
I've been meaning to contribute something helpful to the discussion, but I keep putting it off.
VMWare Screw Customers vmware.com
188 points by wilhil  3 days ago   90 comments top 14
malandrew 3 days ago 1 reply      
Having worked with VMware in the past and spent literally millions of dollars in licenses, I had the opportunity to meet lots of VMware employees. My observations is that the company had some very technically brilliant people, but also a lot of people that epitomize the super smart MBA that but naïve MBA that can understand high level business models and financial cleverness, but that are terrible business people because they are completely oblivious to the skill that all great business people have and that is empathy for your customer. This is ridiculous. I'm glad I'm not in a position where I am their customer anymore.
bshep 3 days ago 3 replies      
On the original page's comments some people mention it might even be cheaper to buy hardware instead of licenses, anyone have a take on that?


a) 1 x Large Server + VMware licenses


b) N x Small Servers

If b) is more cost-effective then VMWare definitely dropped the ball here...

sc68cal 3 days ago 2 replies      
Red Hat and Oracle should start making some sales calls, right about now. They should capitalize on this opportunity to convert some disaffected VMWare customers, and fund software development for migrating off the VMWare stack.
hillad 3 days ago 1 reply      
VMware Customer here.

Lots of FUD coming from the community- at first glance it sounds bad, but a lot of us should do the math before getting the pitchfork ready. ( Script to help "do the math" http://www.lucd.info/2011/07/13/query-vram/ )

We will actually be saving money with the vRAM licensing changes.

aliguori 3 days ago 1 reply      
This is really the primary value proposition of Free and Open Source Software. No matter what happens down the road, no one can suddenly jack up licensing fees. Even if one company decides to try to change the direction of a project (Oracle; OpenOffice), another group can fork it to keep it going (LibreOffice).

Alternatives to VMware like KVM aren't just a better version of VMware that happens to be free, but it's fundamentally better because it is free (as in speech, of course).

wazoox 3 days ago 6 replies      
I know this is getting old, but here's another nice example of why you should be using Free Software for everything that's really important. KVM works very well; I know it misses some of the nice, pretty interfaces but at least it won't stab you in the back at the next upgrade.
schiptsov 2 days ago 2 replies      
Why use proprietary (less tested, less stable) solutions while there is community-tested and community-supported ones? ^_^

People still stuck with a stereotype that most brilliant programmers work for corporations. This is, obviously, not true. Most of corporations outsource their R&D and QA and spend for marketing instead. That is a very common strategy.

Now tell me - how this strategy correlates with a quality of a code or services? ^_^

Oracle vs. MySQL is a very good example - high quality community code is usually much better and well tested. (hint: it is about comparing the code quality, not a feature lists)

Being attached and depended (that is exactly what their marketing department is for) or not is your own choice. In some cases, like SAP, there is no community-supported alternatives, but it this case there is more than one.

Some people could say that we really need all those modern features, such as iscsi per lun mirroring, etc. But it is exactly this code is less tested and lower quality.

One cannot compete with Linux (Ubuntu/RHEL/CentOS) communities in matters of testing and code quality. No code is better tested than those included in mainstream kernel or a polular distribution.

jjm 3 days ago 2 replies      
This is a mean price increase.
patrickgzill 3 days ago 0 replies      
Proxmox.com integrates OpenVZ and KVM virtualization with a decent Web GUI. Might be just the ticket for those not needing all of the ESX features.
westajay 3 days ago 1 reply      
I think the conceptual switch in licensing model is fair.. from cpu-cores to vRAM entitlement.. But the vRAM allocations per license are not right. It puts sysadmins in a real bind.. having to report bad news to mgmt.

They need to to the right thing and adjust the vRAM untitlements. Sad thing is.. people are so locked in to VMWare infrastructure that they'll likely make money short term, at the expense of pissing of customers. Oracle plays this game too..

chaostheory 3 days ago 2 replies      
A strong open source alternative is sure to come now.
tcarnell 2 days ago 1 reply      
VMWare have started Screwing their Customers? Thats quite a diversion from virtualized operating systems. Does it scale?
hm2k 2 days ago 0 replies      
Did anyone else see this?


known 3 days ago 0 replies      
Companies care about Profits.
Everything else is secondary for them.
       cached 17 July 2011 04:11:01 GMT