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Bored People Quit randsinrepose.com
827 points by filament  8 days ago   151 comments top 39
edw519 7 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 7 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 7 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 7 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 7 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 7 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 7 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 7 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 7 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 7 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 7 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 7 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 7 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 7 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 7 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.

sirn 7 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.
flipper 6 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.

veb 7 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 7 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".

a3camero 7 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."
gheer 7 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.

peregrine 7 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 7 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 7 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 7 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 7 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 7 days ago 0 replies      
Already said but great article, I am in this exact situation right now.
DTrejo 7 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 7 days ago 1 reply      
If you enjoy this article, the author's book titled "Managing Humans" comes highly recommended.
acak 7 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 7 days ago 0 replies      
So true. I was bored. And I did quit.
jayx 7 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 7 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 7 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 7 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 7 days ago 0 replies      
Very true, having lots of work doesn't mean its not lots of boring work.
gregfjohnson 7 days ago 0 replies      
Great post. I sent the link to my manager.
kwamenum86 7 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
810 points by TamDenholm  7 days ago   102 comments top 25
edw519 7 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 7 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.

ThomPete 7 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.

Shenglong 7 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.

zwieback 7 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 7 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 7 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 7 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 7 days ago 0 replies      
If only I had more upvotes to give. This is the kind of story I come to HN for.
chadp 7 days ago 2 replies      
This is the best story on HN I have ever read.
cpenner461 7 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 7 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.

michaelschade 7 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.

knieveltech 6 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.
rglover 7 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 6 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 7 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 7 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 6 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 7 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 6 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 7 days ago 0 replies      
I look forward to moments like this with my two sons, great story and really well told... thanks!
pja 7 days ago 0 replies      
I love a story with a happy ending!
dplakon 6 days ago 0 replies      
great story!
masto 7 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.
Aaronsw indicted for hacking MIT network to download millions of JSTOR docs documentcloud.org
569 points by Estragon  22 hours ago   304 comments top 54
prosa 20 hours ago 1 reply      
Demand Progress PAC's website is down, but they released a statement:

(from: http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:9k5ryiX... )

Cambridge, MA" Moments ago, Aaron Swartz, former executive director and founder of Demand Progress, was indicted by the US government. As best as we can tell, he is being charged with allegedly downloading too many scholarly journal articles from the Web. The government contends that downloading said articles is actually felony computer hacking and should be punished with time in prison.

“This makes no sense,” said Demand Progress Executive Director David Segal; “it's like trying to put someone in jail for allegedly checking too many books out of the library.”

“It's even more strange because the alleged victim has settled any claims against Aaron, explained they've suffered no loss or damage, and asked the government not to prosecute,” Segal added.

James Jacobs, the Government Documents Librarian at Stanford University, also denounced the arrest: “Aaron's prosecution undermines academic inquiry and democratic principles,” Jacobs said. “It's incredible that the government would try to lock someone up for allegedly looking up articles at a library.”

Demand Progress is collecting statements of support for Aaron on its website at …URL…

“Aaron's career has focused on serving the public interest by promoting ethics, open government, and democratic politics,” Segal said. “We hope to soon see him cleared of these bizarre charges.”

Demand Progress is a 500,000-member online activism group that advocates for civil liberties, civil rights, and other progressive causes.

About Aaron

Aaron Swartz is a former executive director and founder of Demand Progress, a nonprofit political action group with more than 500,000 members.

He is the author of numerous articles on a variety of topics, especially the corrupting influence of big money on institutions including nonprofits, the media, politics, and public opinion. In conjunction with Shireen Barday, he downloaded and analyzed 441,170 law review articles to determine the source of their funding; the results were published in the Stanford Law Review. From 2010-11, he researched these topics as a Fellow at the Harvard Ethics Center Lab on Institutional Corruption.

He has also assisted many other researchers in collecting and analyzing large data sets with theinfo.org. His landmark analysis of Wikipedia, Who Writes Wikipedia?, has been widely cited. He helped develop standards and tutorials for Linked Open Data while serving on the W3C's RDF Core Working Group and helped popularize them as Metadata Advisor to the nonprofit Creative Commons and coauthor of the RSS 1.0 specification.

In 2008, he created the nonprofit site watchdog.net, making it easier for people to find and access government data. He also served on the board of Change Congress, a good government nonprofit.

In 2007, he led the development of the nonprofit Open Library, an ambitious project to collect information about every book ever published. He also cofounded the online news site Reddit, where he released as free software the web framework he developed, web.py.

Press inquiries can be directed to demandprogressinfo@gmail.com or 571- 336- 2637

_delirium 21 hours ago  replies      
The repeated use of "stole" in the indictment is interesting, even beyond the usual metaphorical usage to discuss copyright infringement.

In this case, the indictment alleges that the documents were stolen from JSTOR, which does not even own them! In the vast majority of cases JSTOR scanned documents whose copyright is owned by someone else, and acquired or was donated a non-exclusive license to distribute copies via its service. In many cases the documents are even public domain. The indictment continues the theft metaphor by discussing the effort and expense JSTOR incurred in scanning the documents, and the alleged attempt to render this less valuable by redistributing "its" documents, analogizing this to the loss someone suffers in a theft.

But effort expended to build a private repository consisting of copies of things you don't own doesn't give you ownership of the result, any more than Google Books doing the same has given them ownership of the documents that they've scanned. If you scraped Google and "stole" their scans, you would be violating Google's Terms of Service, and Google might indeed feel subjectively like you've taken something of value (their exclusive access to this repository of scans), but I think it would be a stretch to say that you've "stolen" "their" documents.

dgreensp 20 hours ago 4 replies      
What Aaron did sounds seriously sketchy (sneaking into MIT wiring closets, trying to download the entire database, etc.), a fact that Demand Progress and several commenters here seem to be ignoring.

Defending his actions would require a very strong, multi-pronged version of the argument "if it's physically / technologically possible, it must be ok." Can MIT legally limit guest access to its network? Can JSTOR limit access to its content? Well, technically, their software didn't limit it, right? He just changed his IP address and they let him right back on, gave him permission. And then he had to change his MAC address. And then physically move to a different building.

But it doesn't matter anyway, because legal restrictions are legal restrictions. It's impossible to enforce every legal restriction in software. Put another way, we don't have to read JSTOR's server code to figure out if there's a violation of policy here -- the policy is written out as a legal document.

In the hacker world, there's a tendency to think that if something's possible, even easy, then it shouldn't be considered "breaking in" or "stealing." If my Gmail password is "password," then of course you're going to read my email! I had it coming. In the real world, though, this is still a crime.

mbreese 20 hours ago  replies      
JSTOR's statement

JSTOR Statement: Misuse Incident and Criminal Case

The United States Department of Justice announced today the criminal indictment of an individual, Aaron Swartz, on charges related to computer fraud and abuse stemming from his misuse of the JSTOR database. We have been subpoenaed by the United States Attorney's Office in this case and are fully cooperating. While we cannot comment on this case, we would like to share background information about the incident and about our mission and work with the academic community and the public.

What Happened

Last fall and winter, JSTOR experienced a significant misuse of our database. A substantial portion of our publisher partners' content was downloaded in an unauthorized fashion using the network at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, one of our participating institutions. The content taken was systematically downloaded using an approach designed to avoid detection by our monitoring systems.

The downloaded content included over 4 million articles, book reviews, and other content from our publisher partner's academic journals and other publications; it did not include any personally identifying information about JSTOR users.

We stopped this downloading activity, and the individual responsible, Mr. Swartz, was identified. We secured from Mr. Swartz the content that was taken, and received confirmation that the content was not and would not be used, copied, transferred, or distributed.

The criminal investigation and today's indictment of Mr. Swartz has been directed by the United States Attorney's Office.

Our Mission and Work

Our mission at JSTOR is supporting scholarly work and access to knowledge around the world. Faculty, teachers, and students at more than 7,000 institutions in 153 countries rely upon us for affordable and in some cases free access to content on JSTOR. Since our founding in 1995, we have digitized the complete back runs of nearly 1,400 academic journals from over 800 publishers. Our ultimate objective is to provide affordable access to scholarly content to anyone who needs it.

It is important to note that we support and encourage the legitimate use of large sets of content from JSTOR for research purposes. We regularly provide scholars with access to content for this purpose. Our Data for Research site (http://dfr.jstor.org) was established expressly to support text mining and other projects, and our Advanced Technologies Group is an eager collaborator with researchers in the academic community.

Even as we work to increase access, usage, and the impact of scholarship, we must also be responsible stewards of this content. We monitor usage to guard against unauthorized use of the material in JSTOR, which is how we became aware of this particular incident.

runningdogx 21 hours ago 7 replies      
This is the most technically competent charging document I've ever read. I guess there must have been some hackers on the grand jury.

Paragraph 35 & 36: which "protected computer" on MIT's network did he access? Certainly they're not trying to claim his laptop was a protected computer? Are they talking about the DHCP server or whatever registration frontend MIT has for the DHCP assignments? I have trouble with the concept that a violation of a computer use agreement (when there are no operative security barriers in place) constitutes a violation of the computer fraud and abuse act. Then again, I've always thought that act was vague and therefore overbroad.

Obviously what he did was bad in some sense (at least from the perspective of JSTOR and MIT), but even if it should be a crime rather than a civil dispute or internal disciplinary action at MIT, I don't like the fact that just about any misbehavior on the internet becomes a federal case because the probability of no interstate resources being used is very low.

Finally, I take issue with the notion that someone who is accessing a service through a public interface is criminally responsible for downtime if too high an access rate causes service degradation or an outage. The claims that JSTOR's servers were overloaded and (one?) even went down at some point are clearly there to set up a later claim of damages. Haven't they heard of rate limiting (in this case, since it was a rogue laptop stashed in a data closet, rate limiting by IP)? That wouldn't work against a concerted denial of service attack, but this was no denial of service attack. JSTOR seems to have been relying on manual intervention to stop article leeching that could lead to a (partial) outage. That's naive, and not a good idea.

guywithabike 22 hours ago 2 replies      
This is almost too good:

"As Swartz entered the wiring closet, he held his bicycle helmet like a mask to shield his face, looking through ventilation holes in the helmet."

acangiano 20 hours ago 1 reply      
When someone risks 35 years in jail for something like this, you know your justice system is broken.

I know he won't get 35 years, but it's nevertheless outrageous that it could happen.

maxniederhofer 21 hours ago 2 replies      
This reminded me of Jacques Mattheij's list of ideas for startups (see http://jacquesmattheij.com/My+list+of+ideas+for+when+you+are...):

"(45) OpenPapers

A place where all academic research that has been funded in part by
public funds is published, journals be damned. Hopefully with deep
pockets to fight off the lawsuits."

carbonica 21 hours ago 0 replies      
I wonder what they'll push for. He sounds pretty screwed if this evidence pans out. Looks like he could even end up with a few years' time if the prosecutors want.

1. Wire fraud maxes out at 20 years outside of a presidentially-declared emergency. No fine cap, it seems. http://uscode.house.gov/download/pls/18C63.txt

2. Computer fraud under 1030(a)(4) caps out at 5 years with no prior offense, no fine cap. http://uscode.house.gov/download/pls/18C47.txt

3. 1030(a)(2), (c)(2)(B)(iii) looks to be another cap of 5 years. Ibid.

4. 1030(a)(5)(B), (c)(4)(A)(i)(I),(VI) looks like another cap of 5 years. Ibid.

IANAL, just trying my best to read the code itself.

mukyu 21 hours ago 1 reply      

“It's even more strange because the alleged victim has settled any claims against Aaron, explained they've suffered no loss or damage, and asked the government not to prosecute,” Segal added.

Nowhere do they say he did not do it however.

cached: http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:http://...

mbreese 21 hours ago 1 reply      
This all hinges on what he was going to do with the documents. If he was looking to perform some large-scale analysis (such as he has done before) and publish the results academically, then this would fall under the academic mission of MIT, and therefore be legit. But if this were the case, why go through the hassle of hacking the system? Why not just ask JSTOR for cooperation? Or maybe he did, and they rejected it?

There has got to me more to this story, because I just can't for the life of me believe that he would download the documents to "free" them on internet (as is alleged).

troutwine 22 hours ago 4 replies      
The indictment asserts that Mr. Swartz intended to distribute the files downloaded but did not substantiate this claim. I wonder what proof they have of this? (There are, of course, a great many laws dealing with probable intent that need only convince a jury of said intent without demonstrating it's validity.)
jgilliam 21 hours ago 2 replies      
He posted on his blog yesterday that there would be a "major announcement" on blog.demandprogress.org today, but nothing has been posted.


keane 19 hours ago 1 reply      
I don't understand why the US Attorney is suggesting he be charged with such ridiculously inflated charges.

Reviewing the Indictment report, "JSTOR did not permit users... to download all of the articles from any particular issue of a journal." Further, "JSTOR notified its users of these rules, and users accepted these rules when they chose to obtain and use JSTOR's content."

So basically JSTOR is claiming Aaron violated their terms of use. Their terms of use are likely an adhesion contract with a passive shrinkwrap notification. (remember ReasonableAgreement.org ?).
It is not certain that Aaron did in fact agree to such terms, or what consequences doing so and then violating said terms should have. Regardless, JSTOR proclaiming certain terms may not be sufficient to deny Aaron of his rights as a consumer, citizen, and human.

The report goes on to claim that Aaron took action to "avoid MIT's and JSTOR's efforts to prevent this massive copying". MIT and JSTOR allowed users to access their network, with no system in place to ensure that a user was a student (by design, as MIT admits) or that they were using their real name (or a single MAC address). A researcher accessing JSTOR is really less of a concern than other potential types of access so perhaps this is not a good system. The report suggests Aaron took action to "elude detection and identification" but courts have held that anonymous speech and action are valid parts of society. They take issue with his using a Mailinator address but such an email address is just as valid as any other and simply allows others to read ones mail.

The report whines that the "rapid and massive downloads and download requests impaired computers used by JSTOR to service client research institutions". This inconveniencing of other users could have been avoided and the blame for how JSTOR allocates resources lies with the architects of JSTOR.

MIT acted to ban the IP ranges that they believe were in violation of their rules. Users were to use the network to support MIT's research, or at least not obstruct it. However, very likely Aaron was conducting research. Any hindrance to other users may have been the responsibility of MIT's infrastructure team.They further request users "maintain the system's security and conform to applicable laws, including copyright laws" seemingly suggesting Aaron was in violation of copyright. Very importantly, MIT should remember that when it comes to copyright "Reproduction for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright." The last point of MIT rules is that users "conform with rules imposed by any networks to which users connected through MIT's system" which makes little practical sense and is certainly selectively enforced. Assuming a JSTOR web server is now a network, so is my personal web server. On all html files on my webserver I link to a ReasonableAgreement-style notification that no user may browse such files between 8am and 11pm EST. Any MIT student, faculty member, or guest who connects during those hours is in violation and should be kicked by MIT, for if a rule is to be fair it should be consistently enforced. This third rule is simply a CYA clause and is its selective enforcement is arrogant.

To conclude, the document does suggest that perhaps Aaron did violate the JSTOR terms of use for their website. When a normal business decides to deal with a violation of their terms of use they deactivate that customer's accounts. However, Ithaka Harbors Inc., a “non-profit” organisation (Presidents yearly compensation is over $400,000 " see their 2009 Form 990 at http://www.guidestar.org/FinDocuments/2009/133/857/2009-1338... ) funded by the Mellon Foundation and the Gates Foundation and committed to “the core values of higher education” and to a “deep understanding of technology” (ha), decided to alert the feds. As to MIT's claims that Aaron broke their rules for using their internet connection, it seems he neither obstructed MIT's research nor violate laws or copyright laws. As to their third claim, he may have violated the terms of a "network" but so do a significant portion of MIT's users everyday.

Why is the Obama administration pursuing an investigation in Wire Fraud and Computer Fraud?

mukyu 22 hours ago 5 replies      
The title is inaccurate.

It is alleged that he signed up for guest accounts on their network with different laptops, changed his MAC address and re-registered if the IP he was using was blocked (by JSTOR) or cut off of the network (by MIT), and finally connected a laptop in a basement networking closet.

I guess you could say that is 'hacking' in the unauthorized access sense, but not in any meaningful sense. It isn't breaking and entering if someone repeatedly trespasses somewhere (say, banned from a store) even if they change their clothes to avoid detection.

Aloisius 14 hours ago 0 replies      
There is a riser closet in my office with various internet service providers wiring in it feeding the entire building.

If I were to enter this riser closet and plug into my laptop into one of these lines, I would be charged with theft of service and deservedly be sent to jail. It doesn't matter if the door is locked or not. It doesn't matter what kind of security they put in place or not. It doesn't matter if I only sent a few bytes of data on their network and didn't harm anyone elses' service. It is still theft of service.

snikolic 20 hours ago 2 replies      
Ignoring legality, Aaron's actions, case specifics, etc., I have to admit: I really wish that the data in question was free and publicly available.
woodall 19 hours ago 0 replies      
Posted in another thread: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=2782752

This is not the first time he has done something like this if memory serves me. In late 2008 Mr. Swartz and Carl Malamud went to select libraries, ones with free PACER access, and proceeded to download ~700 GB of information that was behind a paywall. After which they made all of it available on Mr. Malamud's website.


sp332 22 hours ago 5 replies      
How did Aaron get access to the for-pay articles (page 9)?

Also: nice going, Aaron! Drag research access into the 21st century, kicking and screaming!

Does anyone think it's odd that an Acer laptop could write these files to disk faster than JSTOR could serve them?

flocial 9 hours ago 0 replies      
It's hard to trivialize downloading 4 million articles using a web scraper's bag of tricks and then some. If the information was publicly accessible these charges wouldn't stand unless he tried to distribute it. If it was something so commendable, why would you cloak your activities or go to a different university to do your dirt instead of Harvard (where your a fellow of some sort) or Stanford (where you attended). Regardless of the motives and ideals or the excess of the charges, this isn't one of those hapless grandma versus the RIAA stories. He must have known what he was doing.

The pricing and restrictions on the dissemination of academic papers is by any rational evaluation nothing short of ridiculous and contradicts the academic ideal of free exchange of ideas for the advancement of knowledge. However, history of scholarship is also a history of patronage, academic politics and in-fighting for greater prestige.

It's sad that someone like Aaron has to be treated like a domestic terrorist. It's sad that we have a vindictive justice system willing to flaunt the Constitution in this day and age with what effectively amounts to cruel and unusual punishment so they can "make an example" out of someone.

However, it's no one's fault that Aaron was so emboldened to take this initiative without sufficiently ensuring that he would be free from criminal prosecution.

Am I alone in thinking that these "hacktivists" will only prompt government to push more frivolous data theft laws and heavier punishment for offenses that may one day victimize hapless, innocent people? It's going to get a lot worse before it gets better.

tlrobinson 19 hours ago 0 replies      
Ballsy, considering his previous brush with the FBI over similar things: http://www.aaronsw.com/weblog/fbifile
blinkingled 21 hours ago 2 replies      
Why the hell is MIT stashing information in closed systems in first place? I thought the idea (OCW etc.) was to enable more people to learn, participate and benefit from work of academics and researchers. Hell I even donate a few hundred bucks every now and then to OCW.

It is mind boggling how the supposedly smart people are not getting their heads out of their asses so late in a world frighteningly short on distribution of knowledge that can be effectively used to solve the wicked problems that are crippling it for so long.

We really need a global, openly accessible knowledge network and a platform where all eligible can contribute and collaborate to research at least when it comes to areas that impact human society at large - medicines, natural resources etc. It is hard otherwise to see how things like Cancer and Energy shortage can be tackled.

ojbyrne 21 hours ago 2 replies      
From the JSTOR website (http://about.jstor.org/participate-jstor/worldwide-access)

"Our ultimate long-term objective is to make JSTOR available to everyone who wants access to it, while doing so in a way that ensures sustainability of the service."

Cynically, it seems like the bit about "ensures sustainability" can be translated as "we will aggressively prosecute in order to protect our bloated salaries."

rryan 22 hours ago 2 replies      
"Aaron Swartz ... was a fellow at Harvard University's Center for Ethics"
sigil 20 hours ago 0 replies      
Consider showing your support for Aaron here:


Demand Progress is an organization Aaron co-founded. They've done some great watchdog work on things like PROTECT IP, the Patriot Act, the Internet Blacklist Bill etc.

feydr 21 hours ago 2 replies      
can someone please explain what the deal is here for us uninitiated? sounds like they are throwing the book at him for stealing books? seriously? why is the prosecution being so aggressive? did he profit from it or something? this sounds so petty
andymboyle 22 hours ago 0 replies      
The Boston Globe's got an article written on this that they're updating: http://www.boston.com/Boston/metrodesk/2011/07/cambridge-man...
queensnake 14 hours ago 2 replies      
I'm probably Advocating Crime but, couldn't a bunch of people coordinate and do what he was doing, over a year or two, distributed, from several universities? You totally could. The more, the less noticeable, and punishable.

edit: it wouldn't surprise me if something like that showed up; the problem has been highlighted, the legal issues made clearer, and JSTOR bloodied. Go Aaron.

spinchange 20 hours ago 0 replies      
Is the DOJ trying to 'make an example' here? JSTOR and MIT aren't pursuing this, the Feds are.
a3camero 21 hours ago 0 replies      
Context: JSTOR blocks you automatically if you download articles in quick succession.
peterwwillis 20 hours ago 2 replies      
Wait a minute. All he needed was a guest account to access JSTOR? That's like saying, ANYONE IS ALLOWED TO DOWNLOAD FROM JSTOR. This isn't just bad security, this is no security.
budu3 18 hours ago 0 replies      
Is this what our tax money is going into. Aaronsw just presents a soft target for the Feds.
ramidarigaz 22 hours ago 5 replies      
Why would he do this? What is the purpose of having all those documents?
bricestacey 20 hours ago 1 reply      
I don't understand why he was so desperate to access it via MIT. There are dozens of libraries in the Boston area with access to JSTOR with guest access to their network. If he wasn't in such a rush, he could have easily bounced around campuses and likely have avoided detection.
tibbon 17 hours ago 0 replies      
If all academic papers were released under a Creative Commons license, would this even be an issue?

Aside from the allegations about breaking into various physical hardware infrastructure at MIT, wouldn't that be like being charged with downloading too many Jonathan Coulton albums?

Deutscher 21 hours ago 2 replies      
33. Swartz intended to distribute a significant portion of JSTOR's archive of digitized journal articles through one or more file-sharing sites.

How do they know this? Has he said something to that effect?

--edited for formatting.

jpeterson 22 hours ago 1 reply      
Alternate link, in case these are taken down: http://pastebin.com/9vjfkigY
cpeterso 17 hours ago 0 replies      
> The indictment alleges that Swartz, at the time a fellow at Harvard University, intended to distribute the documents on peer-to-peer networks. That did not happen, however, and all the documents have been returned to JSTOR.

All the documents have been returned?!

danso 22 hours ago 2 replies      
So he allegedly goes out and buys a laptop just to do this heist...and then he blows his cover by doing a scrape fast enough to apparently bring down some of the MIT servers? Why was he in such a rush?
teyc 16 hours ago 0 replies      
This is beyond belief. If the prosecutor tries enough charges, some of them will stick, especially before a jury who may think this is a hacking case or a file sharing case. He'd do well to avoid the "hacktivist" label in court.
xer0x 19 hours ago 1 reply      
I admire Aaron's persistence. Sadly it was quite rude of him to repeatedly crash JSTOR's servers. If only he'd throttled his script back a bit.

Liberating those documents from JSTOR would have been quite a gift to society.

pbreit 12 hours ago 0 replies      
There were some poor judgment on display and I generally don't condone breaking the law but it would be a shame to lose Aaron's epic productivity and ingenuity for any period of time.
andreyf 17 hours ago 0 replies      
Why do the charges all end with "and aided and abetted the same"?
neuroelectronic 17 hours ago 0 replies      
Did he ever manage to republish the articles? Doesn't look like it.
acak 16 hours ago 0 replies      
Aaron's Twitter page which has been active today.


donpark 14 hours ago 0 replies      
As the saying goes, the end does not justify the means, more so if selection of means was driven by impatience.
kaerast 19 hours ago 1 reply      
One hopes he is smart enough to have a solid legal argument for what he has done. If he loses the legal battle then it's going to set a bad precedent for all these academic document stores to continue keeping hold of this information. On the other hand, if he were to win then it may make it harder for groups like JSTOR to continue restricting access to their data.
white_devil 19 hours ago 0 replies      
There must be a reason why the US government wants to harass/bully/imprison Aaron.
mian2zi3 15 hours ago 0 replies      
> Aaron Swartz lived in the District of Massachusetts and was a fellow at Harvard University's Center for Ethics.

Oh, the irony.

ErikRogneby 21 hours ago 0 replies      
This was a good reminder of the importance of physical security.
keane 21 hours ago 0 replies      
executive 20 hours ago 2 replies      
Fantastic news! He deserves to rot in jail for wasting so much precious bandwidth.
asciilifeform 22 hours ago 5 replies      
The man is a heroic martyr, who risked everything to set knowledge free. (Knowledge most of which was produced at the public's expense!)

He may very well die in prison.

Or perhaps he will be forced to publicly recant and merely be forbidden from using computers. I hope that in the latter case he will have the good sense to emigrate.

One day, his tormentors will be harshly punished. Unless, of course, "the future is a boot stamping on a human face " forever."

"Keeping medicines from the bloodstreams of the sick; food from the bellies of the hungry; books from the hands of the uneducated; technology from the underdeveloped; and putting advocates of freedom in prisons. Intellectual property is to the 21st century what the slave trade was to the 16th."


Matz (creator of Ruby) joins Heroku heroku.com
569 points by jamesheroku  7 days ago   75 comments top 22
wheels 7 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 7 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 7 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 7 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 7 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 7 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 7 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?

skarayan 7 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?
sgrove 7 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.
dreww 7 days ago 0 replies      
interestingly, the official press release mentions that matz will retain his positions at NaCL and Rakuten Institute of Technology.


clutchski 7 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 7 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 7 days ago 0 replies      
Now we only need to know where _why is working.
diego 7 days ago 0 replies      
Congrats James. Leave some Ruby luminaries for other companies :)
cdcarter 7 days ago 0 replies      
Heroku is nice so we are nice?
freddealmeida 7 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 7 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 7 days ago 0 replies      
This has to be the most badass new hire announcement I've ever seen.
niravshah 7 days ago 1 reply      
That must have been a tough interview...
keke_ta 7 days ago 0 replies      
Great move! Congrats to Heroku.
adebelov 7 days ago 0 replies      
congrats to Jamie and team!
nanoanderson 7 days ago 5 replies      
So Heroku now owns Ruby.

Not that I think this will lead anywhere particularly bad.

Nginx established as a company nginx.org
454 points by rplnt  1 day ago   71 comments top 13
markbao 1 day ago 9 replies      
This is incredible news. Congratulations to Igor and the rest of the nginx team.

Does anyone know if the model of open-source with a consulting/premium support company behind it works? I've paid 10gen for MongoDB assistance before, so I know there has to be some legitimacy behind the model. And, you know, MySQL.

wensing 1 day ago 0 replies      
Ah, now that is better news than 1,000 TC funding articles.
nginxorg 1 day ago 1 reply      
Thank you all for most kind and warm responses. Lots of work to do to make nginx an even better foss product.
powertower 1 day ago 9 replies      
I really wish he would not throw away Windows as a platform, considering Apache.org win32 builds make up more than 50% of their downloads. Even MySQL downloads in 2009 where something like 60% win32 and that was 2 years ago.

There is so much potential here that not having good Windows builds basically means you're missing out an extra 30% of production systems and 70% of development system. As in: you could double your numbers easily.

It's extra adaptation and growth.

*Windows builds exist.

powertower 1 day ago 1 reply      
Author of G-WAN webserver had this to say:

  I have been fascinated by Igor's code, its rigor, its almost *geometric nature*...


jdp23 1 day ago 0 replies      
Congrats! nginx has been such a great success so far, very exciting to see you take it to the next level!
someone13 1 day ago 1 reply      
In a slightly related vein, does anyone know if there's an official "donate" page? For all the help that nginx has been, I'd happily contribute some money to the author(s).
newman314 1 day ago 0 replies      
I sure hope this gives Igor the time and cycles to implement SPDY now.
michaelschade 1 day ago 0 replies      
Incredible news indeed"congrats nginx team! Looking forward to their focus on new features.
fedd 1 day ago 0 replies      
i am proud for the guys and have a sort of white envy (if there is such a notion)

i was flattered when once somebody called our "vsetec mety" project an nginx of databases. though it's definetely not true (even maybe vice versa)...

RocknRolla 1 day ago 1 reply      
congratz guys (if you read this)

getting money flowing for dev of Nginx can only benefit the FOSS community. Hopefully some of that money will go into developing more documentation :)

shapeshed 1 day ago 0 replies      
congratulations! nginx is a great piece of software
aclark 1 day ago 0 replies      
Congrats! Very excited to hear this.
Code.Google.com now supports git google.com
437 points by pixelbeat  4 days ago   77 comments top 15
cdibona 4 days 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 4 days 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 4 days 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 4 days ago 1 reply      
Are there really any reasons to use Google Code when GitHub is kicking so much ass?
kpanghmc 4 days 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.
grandalf 4 days ago 0 replies      
Waiting to get invited to a Google Code drinkup.
flocial 4 days 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.
riobard 4 days ago 0 replies      
Does anyone know if it supports authentication using SSH public key instead of another password?
zerosanity 4 days 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 4 days ago 0 replies      
I like gthub.
MrMan 4 days ago 0 replies      
I for one really like google code.
muloka 4 days ago 0 replies      
Hoorah! This is great news.
keke_ta 4 days ago 0 replies      
That's awesome.
swasheck 4 days ago 0 replies      
MatthewPhillips 4 days ago 2 replies      
I see it also still supports horrible UI. Pass.
My experiences as a Recruiter on Hacker News voltsteve.blogspot.com
398 points by Peroni  8 days ago   114 comments top 33
edw519 8 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 8 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 8 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.

thaumaturgy 8 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.

bambax 8 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).

michael_dorfman 8 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 8 days ago 1 reply      
I am sorry that members of the community treated you shabbily.
alain94040 8 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.
mgkimsal 8 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!

maxklein 8 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.
trotsky 8 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.

mike-cardwell 8 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 8 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 8 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 8 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 8 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 7 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 8 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 8 days ago 0 replies      
People like you make HN worth visiting. Good luck with your startup!
44Aman 8 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 8 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 8 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 8 days ago 0 replies      
Hats off to you, OP for not having gotten discouraged by the hate. Rock on.
agilebyte 8 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.

tomjen3 8 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.

roel_v 8 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 8 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 8 days ago 1 reply      
You were smart to tell your boss ahead of time.
ajennings 8 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 8 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 7 days ago 0 replies      
341 * 20 * 0.8 = 5456 minutes of reading CVs.

Looks like a lot of work.

Uchikoma 7 days ago 0 replies      
341 * 20 * 0.8 = 5456 minutes.

Looks like a lot of work.

jsavimbi 8 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.

Remove any Site From Google (even if you don't control it) jamesbreckenridge.co.uk
382 points by feydr  14 hours ago   86 comments top 14
staunch 12 hours ago 2 replies      
This bug could have been exploited for millions of dollars. Imagine giving a mafia boss control over the heartbeat of every rival. One blackhat SEO could have dominated any number of lucrative keywords.

If this bug has existed for a long time it's quite possible some guy is sailing around on a yacht that this bug paid for.

It's such a blindingly obvious bug that I really do wonder whether this might have been a backdoor/inside job by an employee. Google should very closely inspect the code change history.

Hopefully they also maintain a history of all page removal requests to see who might have been exploiting this.

wccrawford 13 hours ago 4 replies      
I think it's sad that he had to resort to publicly releasing this exploit because he couldn't find a way to contact Google about it.

In the past, when I've had problems, I couldn't contact them either. They've done a great job at making sure there's no human contacts available. You have to post something in a public forum and hope they'll contact you. (They won't.)

retube 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Does this _actually_ work though? You get the message "URL pending for removal" but does that mean it's really going to be removed? Perhaps this is just a default response.

Were any non-owned sites/urls actually removed?

suking 14 hours ago 0 replies      
I suspect some googlers are going to have a long night :-).
latch 13 hours ago 1 reply      
His first blog post...talk about setting high expectations.
yaix 4 hours ago 0 replies      
I am always amazed how experienced programmers can make such obvious errors when processing user input. Why would I ask for a URL of the WMT account in the query string?

I just hope that there is no "for the lulz" guy running a batch script to see how many million URLs he'll be able to remove before this gets fixed.

pbz 10 hours ago 1 reply      
Somewhat related: I wish GWT had a "pattern" removal.

With one of my sites, by the time I noticed that certain pages were missing the "noindex" tag Google happily indexed over 4000 pages. Considering the rate Google is crawling those pages it may take years to be removed from the index. Obviously, submitting each link one by one is rather tedious.

Hopefully the author is going to release that extension after Google fixes this bug. I may actually bother clicking 4K times just to see that site "fixed"...

brownie 14 hours ago 1 reply      
Despite it being "fixed" not long after the blog post went live, I wonder how long/how many people knew about this bug. Seems like it would be a great trick for SEO (build page to certain PR/remove opponents ranking above you)
Hisoka 1 hour ago 0 replies      
4 months ago one of my sites totally disappeared from Google. I wonder if this is because of this??? It's not a shady site, and there's no reason Google would remove ALL the pages.. if anything they'd penalize it.
juliano_q 13 hours ago 2 replies      
I don't know how is possible that a so obvious bug passed their quality department, and I wonder if someone didnt discovered it before and was doing this to take out competitors indexes..
ImperatorLunae 8 hours ago 3 replies      
<i>otherwise although it is a loophole I am pretty sure it is illegal.</i>

It would <i>seem</i> that this is illegal, but I've never heard of a law protecting one's right to be listed in a search engine.

Perhaps, if this process requires you to be the owner, it qualifies as fraud?

MNUO 3 hours ago 0 replies      
that's really funny but very serious
orblivion 12 hours ago 2 replies      
Imagine if LulzSec found this first
amritayannayak 9 hours ago 0 replies      
The link is broken. I'm not able to load the page.
Introducing BrowserID: A better way to sign in mozilla.com
357 points by joeshaw  5 days ago   179 comments top 36
SeoxyS 5 days ago  replies      
They seriously need to work on their communication skills. It took me a good 15min to figure out what this thing actually does. And I'm still not sure I got it right. OpenID failed because it was too complicated for mere mortals. This, I fear, may be too confusing. At least form the way it's presented.

After reading the protocol spec, I have a somewhat better understanding of this. If I got this right, this is basically what this does:

* asymmetric crypto authentication in the backend.

* control over email address == authentication.

* allows a trusted third-party to authenticate the user. This could be a user or a web service (like browserid.org?).

* falls back to regular email authentication we see every day.

I'm still unclear how you can securely verify email ownership thru cryptographic means. Anybody care to explain it?

ora600 5 days ago 9 replies      
What I'd really want to see is public-key authentication for website.

Let me upload my public key when I create an account on a website, and let the browser interact with my ssh-agent to authenticate.

kpanghmc 5 days ago 3 replies      
Am I the only one who kind of wishes we never went down this "let's fix authentication!" rabbit hole? It feels like we've just replaced one problem with another.

Now, instead of simply having to remember what username/password combination I used, I have to remember which (if any) OpenID provider I used, how much information about myself does said provider expose, and how to merge my accounts when I inevitably end up choosing the wrong provider and create a duplicate account on the site.

sirn 5 days ago 4 replies      
How is it different from OpenID, apart from it's not decentralized?
superuser2 5 days ago 1 reply      
My first ever programming project (I was 11) was basically this (edit: from a UI perspective, not under the hood), in PHP. I had no idea what I was doing, the architecture was questionable and at this point decentralization and OpenID were new and hot. It flopped horribly; it would have been a nightmare had it taken off, but it was fun.

My flow was basically this: website links to http://my-site/login?to=http://site.com/authenticate. User logs in against my MySQL database with an email I verified and a password. If successful, I generate a "ticket" number, my site makes an HTTP post to http://site.com/recevive with md5(ticket number + secret key) and the user's details, and then the user is redirected to http://site.com/authenticate?ticket=12345. Site.com verified the ticket using its API key and stuck it in its database. When the user hits site.com/authenticate, it looks it up by ticket number and has that person's details.

Obviously a terrible idea for a number of reasons (MD5, the race condition between the user and the ticket, and the reliance on my shared server being up) but my 11-year-old self thought it was pretty cool. Just thought I'd share.

rlpb 5 days ago 0 replies      
This looked great until I got to certification. At this point I think they've just re-invented X.509 and added browser/Javascript integration.

Why not have a new way of using X.509 in the browser? I'm not talking about client side SSL certificates as they are at the moment. I mean that on login to your mail provider the browser will automatically generate a keypair and get a certificate either from your mail provider or from a third party which has verified that you own the email address in the traditional way. This certificate will contain a Subject of mail=me@example.com, Issuer of either CN=example.com or CN=trustedverifier.com. Then the browser can just present that certificate as normal to destination.com, and perhaps only on request (so the user can choose whether to "log in" or not). If the issuer matches my email address domain then destination.com will fetch the public certificate of example.com to verify. If the issuer matches trustedverifier.com then destination.com will already know whether it wants to trust it or not and have the public key if it does.

This does seem to be what the article describes, only the article has more optional elements and re-invents some of the cryptosystem rather than re-using X.509.

ams6110 5 days ago 1 reply      
AlexeyMK 5 days ago 1 reply      
BrowserID is a good first step, but ultimately as a website owner I'd much rather authenticate with Twitter/Facebook, since it makes it easier for me to figure out who the user is/ask them to share with friends.

Identity is cool, but Facebook is winning the 3rd party connect game right now because it offers websites syndication, which is more valuable than just authentication.

I'd love to see a BrowserID that can also grant permissions to Facebook, Twitter, etc.

stickfigure 5 days ago 7 replies      
One huge problem: Email address != identity.

I should be able to change my email address (and/or email hosting provider) without changing my identity on a bazillion sites around the internet. Facebook got this right from the beginning. Google is sort-of getting this, although the chasm between Google Accounts and Google Apps Accounts makes this really messy.

Really this product should be called BrowserEmailAddress, not BrowserID. It doesn't serve identity.

dendory 5 days ago 1 reply      
How is this any different than current single signon systems, like Microsoft Live, Yahoo, Google, Facebook Connect.. I mean sure maybe this is open and anyone can run their own but lets not forget users dont care at all about that..
yarone 5 days ago 1 reply      
So, it's basically a traditional single-sign on system? Is that right? Like, in the old days, I integrated one of my products with AOL. You could click a link and it would automatically sign you into my product using you AOL Screenname and Password (behind the scenes, AOL would verify that the screenname and password are correct and my app would create a new user in my database).
ignifero 5 days ago 1 reply      
You can try it live at http://textchannels.com/ . I like it , it's pretty simple and neat. Easier than oauth login.
nikcub 5 days ago 0 replies      
can't see it taking off only because it solves a problem that 99% of internet users do not know exists. I have never had a regular, average, non-tech internet user say to me 'you know what is a real pain in the ass - signing up for web applications'. Most of those users only ever signup for a handful of applications, and are using oauth for everything else (twitpic etc.)
drfloob 5 days ago 0 replies      
Say you're signed in to BrowserID already ... is there anything that would stop an attacker from being able to log you into some other BrowserID website without your knowledge or consent? With login reduced to two mouse clicks, it seems like a well-crafted webpage could log you in wherever it wanted. If that were the case, a CSRF-vulnerable BrowserID webpage could easily be exploited at a large scale.
tobylane 5 days ago 0 replies      
I hope that one of these services is on the user's side, so much that the ID isn't enough for, say, advertisers to track users over different sites. And how graceful is it for versions of IE that aren't 'recent'?
bruceboughton 5 days ago 1 reply      
Can someone explain what makes this a browser ID? I don't get it...
bergie 5 days ago 1 reply      
Somehow I find WebID (http://www.w3.org/wiki/WebID) more appealing. There are already countries that give their citizens SSL client certs.
newman314 5 days ago 2 replies      
Thought that popped into my head. Instead of having separate passwords for different sites, now you are trusting your email provider to be absolutely secure (with that one ultra-secure password you are using, right?).

So if a BrowserID user were to ever get their email service compromised, it's keys to the kingdom.

IMO, I think this needs a rethink.

shockie 5 days ago 3 replies      
What's the advantage over openid?
ams6110 5 days ago 4 replies      
This seems to encourage using the same credentials everywhere which I think most agree is a "bad idea." If BrowserID is compromised, the attackers have access to all the sites where I use browser id, right?
NHQ 5 days ago 0 replies      
This is just another web based open sign-in. Why did they tie this to email, of all things?

My immediate thought was that a browser-based ID implementation would let you keep secure credential on the computer, saved by the browser, up to and including pics, profile, etc. In other words, take social credentials native.

jerrya 5 days ago 0 replies      
I like this idea, and I hope mailinator supports it.
rnicholson 5 days ago 0 replies      
Interesting that in the demo video he used in-browser Gmail vs. using Thunderbird.

I realize its nitpicky, but figured for a demo like this Mozilla would use the opportunity to showcase all their offerings in the workflow.

flashmob 5 days ago 0 replies      
Email != authentication

Websites providing a disposable email address are mainstream - even hotmail allows you to create them these days.

orijing 5 days ago 0 replies      
Does that mean this is as secure as the user's email provider? What if I have an AOL email and AOL gets hacked?
lojack 5 days ago 0 replies      
Do people really consider OAuth2 difficult to implement?

Also, not trying to knock BrowserID or say that it'll never work, but due to browser compatibility this is still probably 5 years off before I'd begin using it. From what I can gather it requires postMessage which alienates IE7 users.

pavel_lishin 5 days ago 0 replies      
Was that... was that a blink tag?
latchkey 5 days ago 1 reply      
This is full of fail. Your email address is not your identity. I must be able to change my email address without having to change my identity.
nolliesnom 4 days ago 0 replies      
By what mechanism does BrowserID require RPs to respect the valid-until field?
omarqureshi 5 days ago 1 reply      
Whilst I understand and really like the non-tied in aspect of it, I'd probably implement some sort of facebook/twitter/google account authentication alongside of it.

Reason being is that, it too is just another authentication service that I'd rather users not have to make the effort to sign up for.

alecbenzer 5 days ago 0 replies      
anyone else notice the video is recent enough to have google+ enabled?
Raphael 5 days ago 1 reply      
And then you get phished for your one password.
ukaszg 5 days ago 1 reply      
so, its an easier way for sites to track users?
detay 5 days ago 0 replies      
I don't want to see another browser-specific feature from mozilla. As mentioned here several times it doesn't seem too different from openId and it's for mozilla!

seemed pointless to me.

rkalla 5 days ago 0 replies      
I interpreted this as OAuth + Gravatar... is that the gist?
NathanKP 5 days ago 0 replies      
When I tried to sign in on the demo site I got a 502 Bad Gateway error. This isn't an encouraging sign.
Rapid DHCP: Or, how do Macs get on the network so fast? cafbit.com
340 points by timdoug  7 days ago   180 comments top 30
saurik 7 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 7 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 7 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.

kenjackson 7 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.
thought_alarm 7 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.

dotBen 7 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.

troels 7 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 7 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 7 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 7 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 7 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 7 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 7 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 7 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 7 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 7 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 7 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 7 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 7 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 7 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 7 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 7 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 7 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?

satori99 7 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.

nickzoic 6 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 ...

smackfu 7 days ago 1 reply      
I wonder if Apple has a patent on this technique.
known 7 days ago 0 replies      
# /etc/init.d/networking restart
swale 7 days ago 0 replies      
th0ma5 7 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 7 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
336 points by yankcrime  7 days ago   102 comments top 19
pavpanchekha 7 days ago 3 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 7 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 7 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 7 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 7 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 7 days ago 0 replies      
Duke Nukem Forever has been released. PuTTY has been updated.

A memorable year!

darklajid 7 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 6 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 6 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 7 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 7 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 6 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 7 days ago 0 replies      
* Support for Windows 7's new user interface features.
Working with jumplists
aculver 7 days ago 10 replies      
Flashback! Is PuTTY still standard issue for folks on Windows?
Garbage 7 days ago 0 replies      
doodyhead 6 days ago 0 replies      
Alternative download link here:


jwarzech 6 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 6 days ago 1 reply      
Where can I find a 64-bit installer?
Garbage 7 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?

Old TechCrunch + really fast, clean, customizable layouts tcfast.com
330 points by tcfast  5 days ago   66 comments top 30
nir 5 days ago 2 replies      
Very cool. Reminds me of an app I once co-built (with the now famous Mr. Bragger ;) that lets you skin an RSS feed with a customizable HTML/CSS template (compatible with Tumblr's template markup)

http://feedvolley.com/ code: https://github.com/niryariv/FeedVolley ) - could use a little UI love, but pretty stable. If anyone's interested in building this further I'd be happy to help you get started.

coderdude 5 days ago 4 replies      
So basically it's all of TechCrunch's content with none of their ability to make money off it. This'll last long.
toni 5 days ago 1 reply      
The links on the top bar of an individual article page are in the form of http://tcfast.com/?backTo=/2011/07/14/larry-page-earnings-ca...

But "backTo" parameter also accepts full URLs, so something like http://tcfast.com/?backTo=http://cnn.com/&t=g will happily redirect to CNN.

This might not be desirable for you, because in effect it will transform your site to a free redirect service ready for use by spammers.

You should check the value of "backTo" parameter and redirect only inside your own site.

treematohs 5 days ago 2 replies      
Unfortunately this doesn't make the quality of the reporting any better.
citricsquid 5 days ago 2 replies      
There is a reason the majority of news sites (well, any good news site) limits the width of text; wide text is hard to read. Although the HN version that lists everything with just the title is great, but the actual post display is awful, even though it's supposed to be inheriting how HN displays posts it should still be limited :(
ladon86 5 days ago 1 reply      
Awesome job! Are you just using the RSS feed?
ChuckMcM 5 days ago 0 replies      
Oh that is very very cool. Now Arianna will no doubt sue the crap out of you but still, it makes the site usable which was not something I thought was practical with just reskinning.
runaway 5 days ago 1 reply      
In past few months or so I've found TC to be unusably slow. I don't know if it's all the ads/tracking/js being loaded but it takes 20 seconds or more for me to be able to actually interact with the page and so I've just stopped reading it. This is a very welcome new way to read it.
mtogo 5 days ago 0 replies      
I don't read TC much, but this has got to be one of the coolest things i've seen all day.
BenSchaechter 5 days ago 0 replies      
As a previous(albeit short-lived) developer at TechCrunch -- I approve.
chl 5 days ago 0 replies      
The HN layout is so good and scannable, it almost makes me want to read TechCrunch again.
noinput 5 days ago 0 replies      
Nice work. add a ?t=json option and this could get fun.
Finbarr 5 days ago 0 replies      
Nice work. I was going to do something very similar and call it bettercrunch.com - you beat me to it.
tcfast 5 days ago 2 replies      
You can also filter posts by authors.
cesar 5 days ago 0 replies      
Hah, I prefer the hacker news version. The nyt one is kinda not appropriate.
jgmmo 5 days ago 0 replies      
My favorite part is how fast it loads in the HN style compared to normal.
danielhfrank 5 days ago 0 replies      
Wow, you just rolled all my most visited sites into one. And now I can read techcrunch again without my brain melting. Actually, that might not be a good thing, but thank you anyway. Great work
mrpollo 5 days ago 0 replies      
Great app man, you deserve heaven, and by heaven i mean endless happiness while you are alive
tushar199 5 days ago 0 replies      
Thanx... and must say its awesome... Really, the annoying layout of TC now dumped into the gutter for good.. :D
kjames 4 days ago 0 replies      
Ha! I like the new design! That would be great if they made a piratebay and 4chan version!
manishm 5 days ago 0 replies      
Its cool..a good demo of how the same content looks readable in different UX , neat!
johnx123-up 5 days ago 1 reply      
I'd love Digg theme, SCR
Raykhenberg 5 days ago 0 replies      
Nice solution for all of those people complaining about the redesign.
bhaile 5 days ago 0 replies      
I'm not a huge fan of TC but this is good way to skim articles.
mbrzuzy 5 days ago 0 replies      
Wow, this is very cool!
pkrefta 5 days ago 0 replies      
Any chances for Readability ? :
jfdi 5 days ago 0 replies      
hobby project? nice work
sygeek 5 days ago 0 replies      
TC should hire you
hxf148 5 days ago 0 replies      
Nicely done.
amritayannayak 5 days ago 0 replies      
Is There Anything Good About Men? fsu.edu
323 points by simonsarris  4 days ago   222 comments top 28
credo 4 days 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 4 days 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.

scythe 4 days 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.

kqr2 4 days ago 0 replies      
The author expanded his original essay into a book:


tariqk 4 days 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.

frankus 4 days 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.

mitcheme 4 days 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.

k_kisiel 4 days 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 4 days 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?

reasonattlm 4 days 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.

madaxe 4 days 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".

yread 4 days ago 0 replies      
Previous submission with a lot of comments and interesting discussion
jongraehl 4 days 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...
orofino 4 days ago 0 replies      
Readability link: http://www.readability.com/articles/cdiekyuv

The typesetting makes this terrible to read.

munificent 4 days 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?

nhangen 4 days ago 0 replies      
This is a really, really good piece.
Joeboy 4 days 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?

maren 4 days 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).
reirob 4 days 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?

isomorph 4 days ago 0 replies      
For people interested in this, learn about "stereotype threat"
sandstrom 4 days ago 0 replies      
Transcript of Lawrence Summers talk, should anyone be interested to read it:
gte910h 4 days 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 4 days 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
JairusKhan 4 days 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!

phektus 3 days ago 0 replies      
Try to name at least two inventions by women in under 5 seconds.
dreww 4 days ago 1 reply      
citations needed
maxharris 4 days ago 0 replies      
Is there anything bad? Neither men nor women are born with anything anything to atone for.
olalonde 4 days ago 0 replies      
Anyone else felt a sudden urge to reproduce after reading this?
Why I left Google. What happened to my book. What I work on at Facebook. thinkoutsidein.com
318 points by csmajorfive  7 days ago   79 comments top 12
clobber 7 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 7 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 7 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 7 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 7 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 6 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 7 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 7 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 6 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 7 days ago 2 replies      
nothing says "open" like blocking publication of a book
tszming 7 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 6 days ago 0 replies      
The earlier book was called "Social Circles" and the new one is called "Grouped"? :
Estimate your English vocabulary size testyourvocab.com
310 points by mike_esspe  3 days ago   308 comments top 95
Eliezer 3 days ago  replies      
I got 37,300. They claim this is not quite 95th percentile, which I am a tad skeptical accurately represents my vocabulary-size percentile relative to the general population. Perhaps this survey is being forwarded around unusually literate people at the top end, or more than 5% of responders are cheating. Where are the fake words to catch cheaters? I Googled a lot of what I didn't recognize, and everything I checked was real.
gimpf 3 days ago  replies      
I'd be really interested in the percentiles of the non-native speakers. With an alarmingly low 10.700 words, there is not even a percentile for me... And I know that my fluency of English is at least above the median around here (edit: here = where I live).

This also shows how extremely time-consuming it is to learn a second language. I started in school, 10 years old, am moderately well educated (some college drop-out), and use English on a daily basis. I also watch most movies in English (very seldom for people in a German speaking country to do), read some English novels, and also most non-fiction books I have are in English. Internet use is nearly English only.

Still, I probably have the vocabulary of an average 12 year old native speaker. After 17 years of learning and using the language, and at least 10 years of that using it _daily_.


KirinDave 3 days ago 0 replies      
For those of you concerned with your score, you are deovting an undue amount of your time in discussing the results of what is"let's be honest with ourselves"the literati version of a "Are U A Vampire Or A Werewolf?" quiz.

P.S., 36,700 .. I took this before it got a lot of general circulation, and my standings have improved considerably. I suspect this makes me more worthy of oxygen.

apl 3 days ago 4 replies      
I strongly doubt that their methodology has any validity at all for non-native speakers. Extrapolating from a selection of 60-80 words presupposes a relatively normal developmental history; otherwise one would not be able to draw the primary inference at work here, namely that somebody who knows a definition for "mawkish" knows definitions for all words of similar difficulty and frequency.

Atypical language acquisition (e.g., as a second language, or through a non-standard channel like technology or fantasy literature) disrupts this extrapolation step. For instance, a German programmer that knows the word "polymorphic" via OOP is less likely to know similarly frequent and difficult but programming-unrelated words than British or American peers. So adding, say, 100 to the total would be utterly unfounded. Same thing for a science-fiction nerd: Acquaintance with obscure words from one domain doesn't extrapolate to other domains.

Unless they somehow control for domain specificity and atypical acquisition, let's not get too frustrated. (Disclaimer: Not a native speaker -- result around median.)

diN0bot 3 days ago 4 replies      
lots of people here are saying they scored lower than what they expected, and that maybe other people cheated. that could be it, but it could also be that hacker news folks tend to be overconfident. this would match the stereotype of this group being mainly male nerd entreprenuers, which could score worse on things like this but perceive themselves to score much higher (a feeling not a fact backed by studies that i can remember). who knows; just voicing this thought since no one has mentioned it yet.
natural219 3 days ago 11 replies      
19,600. I'm willing to accept this, although I'm not going to lie -- I'm very upset at myself. I'm used to scoring 99th percentile in every standardized test; it's kind of a shock to realize that I'm nowhere near the median of even my age group, let alone the general populace (I'm 20).

That said, I'm currently reading A Dance with Dragons and there are tons of words in this series (A Song of Ice and Fire) that I'm not familiar with. Most of the ones I missed are words I recognize from this series, although since I'm not 100% sure of them, so I left them unchecked.

mortenjorck 3 days ago 2 replies      
The psychology of these things is interesting to me. My reflexive reaction was, of course, "I have to know!" and then my immediate counter-reaction was "This is just intellectual phallometry and is ultimately of no consequence to me."

Of course, I very quickly rationalized away the counter-reaction and took the test anyway, and then considered sharing it with my friends. What drives this?

joeyh 2 days ago 2 replies      
"Don't check boxes for words you know you've seen before, but whose meaning you aren't exactly sure of."

This is a bewildering instruction to me, since I've learned most of my vocabulary through reading, and rarely look up the definition of a word, instead learning its meaning through repeated exposures to its use in context.

Take for example "garron" -- like many of us I've been reading GRRM lately, so I've seen the word used some 78 times in the past few months, and I'm sure I've encountered the word a few dozen times before. I know it's a slightly undesirable horse of some kind. Likely this means it's a gelding or a small pony-ish horse. Do I need to have looked up and remembered the three specific submeanings of the word, or that it's a specific breed of horse from Galloway to be able to say I am "exactly sure of" the word?

I don't think that's how language works, but it's how this test seems to want it to work. My score of 35,300 is suspect on multiple levels.

onan_barbarian 3 days ago 0 replies      
I scored 38500 - seemed to be a test that would be helped by reading a lot of older fantasy literature, where 'terpsichorean' and 'turpitude' (to give a couple 'terp' examples that spring to mind) are the sort of words that authors like Jack Vance liked to wheel out in order to create a mood.

I'm not sure that the people suggesting that the failure to correlate with the SAT adds much; I don't think the SAT really goes all-out of the more flowery bits of archaic vocabulary in the way that this test did.

My 3rd grade son got 10200, and enjoyed discussing the words he didn't get. I think every 3rd grader should know "mawkish". :-)

mike_esspe 3 days ago 0 replies      
Their statistic is probably inflated due to linguistic subreddit, where this test originated:


lliiffee 3 days ago 1 reply      
They ought to include some fake but plausible words to correct for cheaters. (Perhaps they do?)
mdda 3 days ago 1 reply      
Just as a test, ticking all the boxes scores 45,000 words. Which seems to indicate that they haven't seeded the quiz with fake words to weed out cheaters : Pity, since there was an opportunity to unbias it in at least one dimension. (I also tried deselecting just 1 of a few of the really tough words : Each one caused the score to lower).
mdda 3 days ago 1 reply      
Obvious point : The only people interested in finding out their scores will be the kind of people who think their vocab is something worth competing on. There's no way this is a fair sample across all English-speakers.
matwood 3 days ago 0 replies      
I only scored 24k which seems low based on the statistics at the end. I also only selected words that I absolutely knew the definition of, even though some I think I knew based on the root.

Memorizing trivia words is just something that has never interested me. Instead I keep a thesaurus and dictionary handy at all times :)

coolestuk 3 days ago 0 replies      

37,100 I'm ashamed I didn't do better. I'm considerably older than the average HN reader. I did degrees in 4 different subjects (mind you, I was classed officially as retarded at my high school - in the same classes as the arsonists).

So no-one should feel the score is that important. I'm a very mediocre programmer. I'd much rather halve my vocab score to double my maths ability.

fhars 3 days ago 1 reply      
Ah, cool I know 80 english words. There must be something utterly wrong with how this test works in opera mini, clicking on continue on page two brought me to page one, going back and clicking continue again gave me just a subset of the choices from page one... (at least I guess it is 80, the number was displayed right over the middle of the word "words" in the result captcha).
sanxiyn 3 days ago 0 replies      
Learning to program did help. I could check "shard" and "bloat", which are apparently quite rare in general context compared to words I know.

How about you? Were there words you could check because you encountered it often in programming context?

NnamdiJr 3 days ago 1 reply      
Don't care too much for percentile and age stats at the end.. clearly doesn't represent general pop.

What IS interesting tho, from a language learners perspective, is the vocab size estimation. A metric a lot of us use as a rough benchmark of vocab needed for fluency in a foreign language is 10,000words.
Comparing this with what an educated adult native speaker knows in their own language (using my own truthful score of 24k) is pretty interesting.

Would love to have something like this to quickly gauge my vocab in other languages!

codex 3 days ago 1 reply      
The population is self selecting; I wouldn't trust their percentiles.
blntechie 3 days ago 3 replies      
Think I have the lowest score here. 16,400 words. English is not my native language but I speak English daily and I wouldn't say my English is bad. Pretty disappointed with the score and also surprised the median is way way higher than I expected.

Edit: And, also to add, I followed 2 criteria for whether I know the word or not.

1. What's the absolute definition?

2. And can I find the equivalent or meaning of it in my native language? (which is Tamil, an Indian language, if anyone cares.)

lawn 2 days ago 0 replies      
I'm a non-native speaker and I fare pretty well with reading stuff but I'm a bit chocked at my result (< 19k).

The thing I find a bit funny is that of all the words I didn't check I've seen almost all of them in books and articles. When I see them in a sentence and in context I do understand them fine but I can't give a definition for them.

I wonder if this is common when reading another language? It might be a better idea to look up the words in a dictionary when seeing them but I just can't be bothered, after seeing them in context a few times I can usually get a feel for their meanings. There are a few exceptions to be sure, adjectives are particularly bad at this.

olegp 3 days ago 1 reply      
"The Second Edition of the 20-volume Oxford English Dictionary contains full entries for 171,476 words in current use"
Jach 3 days ago 0 replies      
I got 28,800 http://testyourvocab.com/?r=38317 So apparently I should be 31 instead of almost 21.

I had a phase around 7th through 10th grade where I thought learning lots of vocabulary would make me smarter, especially words others didn't know well. (And so I'd use them in English essays for Extra Points since your grades are often determined by how little sense you make, because if the reader doesn't understand it obviously it's too smart for them!) I also had a general grammar nazi-ism.

Anyway, I think this exchange kind of tipped me over the edge to stop caring. (Of course that's led to forgetting a lot.)

William Faulkner, on Ernest Hemingway: "He has never been known to use a word that might send a reader to the dictionary."

Hemingway: "Poor Faulkner. Does he really think big emotions come from big words? He thinks I don't know the ten-dollar words. I know them all right. But there are older and simpler and better words, and those are the ones I use."

Of course, having some background in French and Latin probably helps for inferring a few words.

cduan 3 days ago 1 reply      
I didn't see any science-related words when I took the test. Not sure if this is because of the process by which they made the word lists, or because there truly are not many common science-related words.
Mithrandir 3 days ago 1 reply      
Very interesting. The details on how it works are here: http://testyourvocab.com/details.php

(My result:)

antirez 3 days ago 1 reply      
I just just "5,340" as a result, this is an hint for me that I spend too much time trying to improve my hearing skills and too little trying to learn words outside the domain I mostly use English for (computers, programming, technology, ...).

I wonder if there is some good web site that helps you learning new words. An iPhone application will also work for me, but I need one that is able to also tell me the sound of the word. I searched a bit in the past without good results.

sanxiyn 3 days ago 0 replies      
12,900: http://testyourvocab.com/?r=39955

I am not a native speaker and I was happy to get more than >10,000, really.

Pistos2 2 days ago 0 replies      
I scored only 20400, but it makes me ask myself: Perhaps I was being too honest? There were certainly words I'd seen before, and could make educated guesses as to the general meanings of, but I chose not to check those off.

I'm Canadian born and raised, with English as my first language. Honestly, I'm surprised to be told I'm that far below the median and average.

Terretta 3 days ago 1 reply      
I only checked words that I can use in a sentence: left one blank on the first set, a handful blank on the second set.

42,500 (http://testyourvocab.com/?r=37216)

Apparently the OED has 7 times more words I don't know. That's offal...

schleyfox 3 days ago 0 replies      
37,700 http://testyourvocab.com/?r=36826 without cheating and not counting ones that I only thought I could puzzle out.

Maybe working on that English Minor is panning out...

diN0bot 3 days ago 3 replies      
anyone know of something like this for other languages, eg german?
lostmypw 3 days ago 0 replies      
"You will never become proficient in a foreign language by studying vocabulary lists.
Rather, you must hear and speak (or read and write) the language to gain proficiency.
The same is true for learning computer languages."

Coincidentally, I just happened to come across this quote in Peter Norvig's "Paradigms of Artificial Intelligence Programming".

scscsc 3 days ago 0 replies      
I got ~12K, but I highly doubt the accuracy... I suspect that I know ~1K words, maybe 2K. I remember hearing that people usually use around 100 or 200 distinct words/day.

According to http://math.ucdenver.edu/~wbriggs/qr/shakespeare.html, Shakespeare used ~32K words in all of his works.

fiesycal 3 days ago 0 replies      
Just from getting some friends to do this it seems to me the median score overall and the median score for each age are a bit inflated. Just my thoughts, but I think people aren't being 100% truthful. Although I may just have a poor vocabulary http://testyourvocab.com/?r=36208
Detrus 3 days ago 0 replies      
22,700 http://testyourvocab.com/?r=38336

What difference does it make? The site doesn't say what it means in everyday life. I'm guessing if you exclude high achieving SAT vocab nerds, it finds the difference between people who care about the meaning of each word and people who will guess through context because they have no patience for a dictionary. Or people who don't read fancy texts, like the Scarlett Letter for example, after failing to read that I stopped reading books.

virtualritz 3 days ago 1 reply      
I am a non-native speaker (NNS) and got 15.700.

I think this test is not very telling for NNSs as it doesn't consider specialist vocabulary which many of us have a lot of of, because of how we /really/ learned the language.

When I left school my English was very average. When I started communicating with email with people from all over the world, but mostly the US, it improved a lot in 1-2 years.
When I first went to a congress in the US in my med 20's I was blown away by my aptitude to communicate in that language.

But these were all people from my field. What I'm saying is that the distribution of words pertaining certain subjects in my vocabulary is severely skewed by the field I work in -- visual effects (and IT).
I believe this goes for many NNSs.

hristov 3 days ago 0 replies      
Pretty interesting, but I do hope they do not try to extract any meaningful statistics based on this. I guarantee you 95% of the people are cheating.
martingordon 3 days ago 1 reply      
I'm almost 26 and I scored 26,500.

Not sure I buy the results though. I would think that the rate of increase would start to decrease quite significantly after high school/college but it appears to stay pretty much linear throughout the data.

toot 3 days ago 1 reply      
I realise that the ego-stroking scoring is the driver behind this site's popularity , but I would also like to see definitions of words that I missed. It's pretty daunting to spend hours copying and pasting words into Google (well, ahem, maybe it is for some of us!)
jamesbkel 3 days ago 0 replies      
Along with many of the flaws already adressed, the most relevant for me was "absolutely sure of" and also taking the words out of context. There were a good number of words that I was pretty sure I knew and had I read them in context would have been correct in my meaning and never given it a second thought.

I'm certain that if I took this same test using a base of 'novel in fulltext' vs. 'list of all unique words in the novel', my recog would be FAR better on the novel.

crazygringo 3 days ago 1 reply      
Site creator here -- what a surprise to wake up this morning, see my inbox full of messages about this site, and discover that everyone was coming from Hacker News, which I visit every day!

Thanks for all the participation, and comments -- I didn't submit this myself, so thanks, mike_esspe.

I've responded to a few points down below; there's a lot more info on the details of the test at:


angus77 3 days ago 0 replies      
I got 35,900, and haven't lived in an English-speaking country in 10 years. I often get frustrated at myself when I feel like I'm losing my vocab. There were a couple of words on the list that I'm sure I once knew, but couldn't conjure up the meaning on the spot, so I skipped them. I was never a sci-fi/fantasy fan, but I do like to read literature for fun.
Toucan 3 days ago 1 reply      
I strongly suspect learning Latin and Greek at school helped more than a little with this particular test.
6ren 3 days ago 0 replies      
Most interesting to me were the words I recognized, but weren't sure of their meaning (e.g. malapropism, which turned out to mean ludicrous misuse of a word).

BTW: a nice thing about online dictionaries is they have sound files for pronunciation. e.g. http://www.thefreedictionary.com/malapropism With a plugin, you can highlight and right-click to open in another tab.

tep 3 days ago 0 replies      
German, 22 years old

I had 9 years of English in school. Because of my hobbies I read a lot of stuff in English. I also watched many TV shows and spent about 6 month living in Australia.

Yet I feel insecure even typing this. Knowing lots of words is one thing. But what makes it hard are all the subtleties you have to take care of when building sentences. I also think that I get grammar wrong most of the time.

Another thing is that my sentences are almost always way too long.

As someone else pointed out before: I don't want my former English teacher to read this, either.

sgt 3 days ago 0 replies      
Got 21,500 or so. Even as a non-native speaker I was slightly disappointed with this result. Many of the words were just ridiculously obscure and esoteric, and I haven't even seen some of them anywhere in the literature I read.
maurycy 2 days ago 0 replies      
No matter how many I did (I'm fine, thanks), I would love to see a similar system that estimates one's vocabulary using already existing articles.

To put aside the ego matters, I'm curious if there are any interesting correlations for writings published in magazines. For instance, between the estimated vocabulary size and the average price for ads (I bet that there is a huge correlation.)

Mindful 2 days ago 0 replies      
I was actually a bit surprised, not by the specific number of words (that seems reasonably fair given some statistics posted above on this thread), but on the percentage ranking. I'm a doctoral student whose vocabulary score was in the 96th percentile on the GRE and I knew every word when I took the WAIS-IV. Here, my score of 28,300 is just a bit above average. Either people are lying (possible) or this curve is clearly not a normal curve representative of the population (most likely). I'm a pretty avid reader, even though most of the older authors like Dickens bore me (thanks ADD!), but the person that came up with those words is possibly the most voracious reader I have ever met.

I also just realized that taking the test primed me to write in a way more intelligently sounding manner than I usually do. Not an LOL in sight!

parfe 3 days ago 0 replies      
Wouldn't a multiple choice quiz with definitions be more accurate? Force people to choose a definition (or none of the above?) to show they actually know the word. You'd still have the issue of cheaters but at least you would know people just don't assume they know the definition of "like"
wolfrom 3 days ago 1 reply      
I'm not sure if vocabulary size matters once you reach around 25,000 words. The words I didn't know were in part because I've never had any need to know them; if I had run into any of them while reading anything written in the past 80 years, I'd be angry at the author for showing off.

When I was young, I thought that if I wanted to be a writer I should have a huge vocabulary... but now, when choosing words/synonyms I dismiss most options because they're much too obscure.

JoeAltmaier 3 days ago 0 replies      
Speaking English does not expand your vocabulary. You must read to encounter the larger portion of the dictionary. Does this test select for computer-users who don't read?


lawlit 3 days ago 0 replies      
"Is English your first (native) language, or a second (non-native) language?" my english is actually my 3rd non-native language :)
burgerbrain 3 days ago 1 reply      

Clearly my American public school education has served me well. >_<

shii 3 days ago 0 replies      
My result[1] isn't too bad but there's still quite a few words I can learn especially at the end. I did cheat a little since I learned a few of the more curious looking ones when this showed up on /b/ 2 nights ago.

[1] http://testyourvocab.com/?r=36123

bliss 3 days ago 0 replies      
If you found this test engaging, then it might be time to give this a go again... http://freerice.com/
auganov 3 days ago 0 replies      
I got to be in the 1st percentile :-).
But well, considering that I have never read a book in my life I guess it figures.
Cyph0n 3 days ago 1 reply      
It seems to be fairly accurate. Maybe it isn't. My score: http://testyourvocab.com/?r=35822

Edit: I just had a look at the median word count for adults who took the survey. It's around 27,000. I wonder whether that's true or not.. it seems to me that I'm lacking.

thret 3 days ago 2 replies      
40,300 and I am astounded that there were words I hadn't seen before.

Funambulism is my new favourite word.

Troll_Whisperer 3 days ago 1 reply      
I was really surprised by the result of this. I was flipping through a friends learner's Chinese-English dictionary that claimed to contain over 150,000 words and in a couple minutes of thumbing through it I didn't find any I didn't know. But on this test, I didn't even get 50,000. Then according to the info at the bottom, the median was far less than that.

Honestly I think the evaluation method is terrible. My collection of sci-fi/fantasy books alone probably contain over 100,000 headwords. A single biology text book might be as many as they claim the median person knows. Avid WoW players would similarly destroy the curve (if the test included the kinds of words they'd know instead of archaic religious words),

dmazin 2 days ago 0 replies      
I moved to the US from Russia when I was 10, and my vocabulary is a pathetic 18,000 or so.
Which is funny, because I consider myself pretty well-read. I usually just infer the meaning of new words through their context without looking them up so I don't feel comfortable saying I know the definition of those words.
lucian1900 2 days ago 0 replies      
I only got 23k, I'm quite humbled. English is my second language and I'd hoped to have mastered it by now.
pacaro 3 days ago 0 replies      
39,000 I use more of the words on page 2 that I should, I'm probably unbearably obnoxious to be around...
KevBurnsJr 3 days ago 0 replies      
Your sample is heavily skewed toward the literate.

Add Education (None,HighS,BS,MS,PhD) as a research statistic and compare it to the national average. I would bet that your sample is greater than 2 Standard Deviations from the mean.

beseku 2 days ago 0 replies      
I scored far lower than I thought I would, and am genuinely surprised given that I tend to write a lot and have always thought I had a decent vocabulary.

I would love to be able to compare my score to what it would have been before moving to a non-English country and learning/speaking a new language. I definitely feel that a large part of my memory is now dedicated to Japanese and not English...

Mvandenbergh 3 days ago 0 replies      
I'm guessing they selected words from a large corpus of written English based on their relative frequency.

It isn't surprising that there isn't any technical vocabulary. Most technical vocabulary falls into one of the following categories:
a) Acronyms
b) Overloading of existing non-technical words
c) Names and other proper nouns
d) Phrases longer than one word

There's actually an argument for excluding highly specific vocabulary (some corpuses explicitly exclude textbooks for this reason) because knowledge of them doesn't correlate as well with overall vocabulary.

kurumo 3 days ago 0 replies      
29,500, non-native English speaker (but studied in the US). Retook the test and omitted all the words I could not define with total confidence on the spot; the original score was 31,400. The test is peculiar in that the distribution appears to be uneven. Subjectively there is a sharp break between words that one would know from Shakespeare, Tolkien and Dunsany, and words no one would ever know unless they studied the OED. For statistical significance they would need more words.
mcphilip 3 days ago 0 replies      
lampoon: verb: Publicly criticize (someone or something) by using ridicule or sarcasm.

I knew lampoon had something to do with criticism, so I checked the box, but I had no idea that the definition specified a public context. Does that mean I didn't know the word?

I suspect a problem with the test is that it's easy to know enough to figure out the gist of a word's definition without having any knowledge of the specificity of the definition, if that makes any sense.

mkr-hn 3 days ago 0 replies      

27 year old native speaker in the US. I talk good English. I even properize capital nouns.

georgieporgie 2 days ago 0 replies      
I scored a mere 25,700-something. Based upon my ability to regularly, inadvertently stump spell-checkers and random humans alike, I will continue to assume that I have an above-average vocabulary. :-)
ahrens 3 days ago 0 replies      
I got 19 800. As a Swedish non-native speaker I thought it was OK. The test needs to also show the averages for non-natives and natives separate.
sandstrom 3 days ago 1 reply      
14,000; though English isn't my vernacular. Reading more English fiction seem to be a recurring suggestion, guess I should!
tommyudo 2 days ago 0 replies      
I took the opposite approach.

I checked all the boxes on the first page but one, "vibrissae" (roughly, whiskers), and saw even more boxes on the second page and groaned. So I punted, and went back to the first page, reloaded it, and checked only one box: vibrissae.

After finding 17 words on the second page, I left them all blank, following the same methodology. My vocabulary size was estimated to be 20 words.

From this, I deduced that my total vocabulary size was all the words ever known to any English speaker anywhere, anytime - minus 20.

This made me very pleased with myself, even though I knew my assumptions were pretty terrible.

(Interesting that the spell check in my browser doesn't recognize vibrissae.)

gibybo 3 days ago 2 replies      
I got 17,200. I'm 22 with a Bachelor's degree and I was pretty surprised with how low I scored. Anyone in a similar category?
gary4gar 3 days ago 0 replies      
14,000 Words

I am non-native speaker. I guess that's a excuse for such poor score. Need to improve :(

kunjaan 3 days ago 0 replies      
Finally some use of the GRE English exam that I had to take before joining CS program!
johnsonjohnson 3 days ago 1 reply      
Putting aside all the comparing. Many non-native speakers here say they read and watch many things in english. I do that do and I'm quite positive that 95% of all the reading and listening I do each day is in english.

Now with a low score of 17500 I wonder, if it isn't enough to completely endulge oneself in the language, what is?

Of course, watching the Simpsons all day won't teach me some of the rarely used words. But there must be some stepping stones. I still haven't read Wuthering Heights because I don't want to have a dictionary lying around just to understand the story. And looking up something, reading on and forgetting it at the end of the day is quite common for me.

Also I'm sure that 15 year old americans haven't read that many novels, still their vocabulary is supposed to be larger than most of the well read non-native speakers around here.

tlammens 3 days ago 0 replies      
OK, time to read that dictionary book again.
gabebw 3 days ago 3 replies      
Some of these don't look like real words (e.g. splarge, which is definitely something that you could make up). I assume they're real, though.

Anyway, my score: http://testyourvocab.com/?r=36192

jacis 3 days ago 0 replies      
There were some obscure words in there. Interestingly, I only ticked boxes that I could envision Pip Boy (Fallout VG) drawings of. Ending up with a score of ~23k, which was below average.
Timmy_C 3 days ago 2 replies      
I think I did really poorly. My score was around 21,000.
codabrink 3 days ago 0 replies      
It appears that this is accurate within 4 or 5 thousand words.. I've taken the test a few times, and my results are relatively distanced..
badclient 2 days ago 0 replies      
Non-natives who have studied English intently may well score higher than natives on a strictly vocab test like this.
etfb 2 days ago 0 replies      
I'm a native speaker, and I got a server error. Does that mean I'm illiterate?
derrida 3 days ago 1 reply      
I was honest and was shocked by my result being in the bottom third! I have an IQ > 125! I think I need to read more.
qusiba 2 days ago 0 replies      
Oh, I got only 16900. I think I will do the test again each year to see if I'm improving.
homemadejam 2 days ago 0 replies      
My score was 10,700. Not too bad considering I'm dyslexic right?.... Right? :|
fedd 3 days ago 0 replies      
i understand why i can't read Alexia Tsotsis articles on Techcrunch without a dictionary, with my shameful 8,560 vocab
bitanarch 2 days ago 0 replies      
20,700, Hong Kong Chinese living in the Bay Area.
4J7z0Fgt63dTZbs 3 days ago 1 reply      
Shocking, 9885. I acquired current command on English via Internet, Harry Potter and Klan Academy - and I was pretty comfortable making points in English than in Japanese

I could use some help boosting my vocabulary...

evilswan 3 days ago 1 reply      
Too much clicking.
derleth 2 days ago 0 replies      
38,800 here.
slowcpu 3 days ago 2 replies      
I am a non-native speaker
astrofinch 3 days ago 0 replies      
Vocabulary is trivia...
taliesinb 3 days ago 0 replies      
My god, none of this shit matters! Why does anyone put any stock in any of this kind of thing? The best a test can do is make you feel smug, the worst it can do is totally destroy your confidence. It's a lose-lose proposition.
zoowar 3 days ago 1 reply      
Just a survey in disguise. Anyway, here's my score http://testyourvocab.com/?r=35380
How not to design a CAPTCHA google.com
307 points by DrewHintz  7 days ago   88 comments top 14
sthatipamala 7 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 7 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 7 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 7 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 7 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 7 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 7 days ago 0 replies      
Jesus, rootkits, psn, and now plaintext captchas ... the dev/it clowns at sony need to be fired en masse.
snorkel 7 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 7 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 7 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 7 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 7 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 7 days ago 0 replies      
DON'T use a bloody CAPTCHA.
rlf 7 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  7 days ago   64 comments top 36
lhnz 7 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 7 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 7 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 7 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 7 days ago 1 reply      
The floating tweet/like box is atrocious. Otherwise, kind of neat.
davidw 7 days ago 0 replies      
Seems like a good time to mention #startups on irc.freenode.net
there 7 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.

dbz 7 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 7 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!

klbarry 7 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 7 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$^, Holy S*$^.

skennedy 7 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.
avgarrison 7 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?
mgl 7 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!
politician 7 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.

tnorthcutt 7 days ago 1 reply      
Nice, except for the on by default noises. Ugh.
mayop100 7 days ago 0 replies      
Strange that it's slow. Where are you located? Our servers are in the SF bay area.
mtogo 6 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 ).

mayop100 7 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 7 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 7 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 7 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 7 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 7 days ago 0 replies      
Startups Seeking Devs chat was created 15 minutes ago.
Let us see what happens! heh
bane 7 days ago 0 replies      
really cool idea...wish I could pin a couple chat windows open at once...
mayop100 7 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 7 days ago 0 replies      
It would be great if it was just a JS plugin rather than redirecting.
kgthegreat 7 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?
auston 7 days ago 0 replies      
Nice work! But I wish when I clicked a thread, it brought me to that URL as a room.
massarog 7 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.
snguyen 7 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 7 days ago 0 replies      
This is really nifty, though it's a little slow redirecting on my end (in SF). :) Great job!
rishi 7 days ago 1 reply      
This is very cool! How does it work with my websites SSL?
joejohnson 7 days ago 0 replies      
This is very well done
vapour 7 days ago 0 replies      
annnnd it's crashed.
dreamdu5t 7 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  8 days ago   63 comments top 14
sbierwagen 7 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 8 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 8 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 8 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 8 days ago 1 reply      
"Fanless" in that it is a fan itself.
rytis 8 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 7 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 8 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 8 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 7 days ago 1 reply      
This gives me a thought. . . could Dyson Air Multiplier technology be scaled down to be used in computers?


JohnLBevan 7 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 7 days ago 0 replies      
So where do I buy them?
chopsueyar 7 days ago 1 reply      
What about submerging it in mineral oil?
SaltwaterC 8 days ago 1 reply      
"Moving beyond 3GHz". Really?
The Problem With Silicon Valley Is Itself thenextweb.com
295 points by jmjerlecki  6 days ago   188 comments top 44
ChuckMcM 6 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 6 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 6 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.

neilk 6 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?


grellas 6 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 6 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.

jonnathanson 6 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 6 days ago 1 reply      
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 6 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 6 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 6 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 6 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 6 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 6 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 6 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 6 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 6 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.
Aloisius 6 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.
dusklight 6 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.
nhangen 6 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 6 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 6 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 6 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 6 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 6 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 6 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 6 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 6 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_ 6 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 6 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.

jjm 6 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 6 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.

NY_Entrepreneur 6 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 6 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.

ChrisBeach 6 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 6 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.
chrischen 6 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.

hxf148 6 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 6 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 6 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 6 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 6 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 6 days ago 0 replies      
just want to chime in real quick: she's a smart brit plus she's hawt.
epynonymous 6 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!

If Dropbox Used GitHub's Pricing Plan usersinhell.com
287 points by joshuacc  1 day ago   133 comments top 30
patio11 1 day ago  replies      
Dropbox is targeting a B2C market and started with poor twenty-somethings.

Github, and virtually every other thing that costs more than $20 a month, targets primarily a B2B market. It might be popular with some local poor 20-somethings, but honestly, you're just an infection vector to get your day job on board.

The pricing is designed to extract maximum value out of business customers. If they have 125 simultaneous projects, they officially have More Money Than God. "The price of a residential Internet connection" is not a pricing anchor to them. (Should they need one, they're probably going to be persuaded by "We have 500 man-years of labor in our projects, one man-month costs us $15k, lemme break out Excel for a minute, oh it seems all my options cost pigeon poop.")

I strongly, strongly encourage you to listen to the Mixergy video about Wufoo or talk to anyone who runs a SaaS business if you do not understand where most of the money is likely getting made. That topmost plan which costs $$$$$ prints money, primarily from people who don't need all that it offers and couldn't care less because it costs less than pigeon poop on their scales.

If you don't use Github for your projects because $100 is a lot of money for you that's perfectly fine for Github because it does not make them meaningfully worse off.

pjhyett 23 hours ago 5 replies      
We're trying to fundamentally change how people write, collaborate, and discover code and the sooner people stop thinking of us as just a repo depository, the better, because we've never been about that.

Ask yourself what kind of markup we'd have to charge on storage space and still be able to grow our business when most of the repos we host are less than 1 MB.

We charge what we do because it makes money. Money that allows us to continue hiring really talented people that are all focused on building an even better service.

Doing things like including private repos with our free plan would eat into our margins and only satisfy the people that are likely to never convert to a paid plan. Frankly, I think being able to use all of the tools we provide for the price of a pint of Guinness every month is a damn good deal.

programminggeek 1 day ago  replies      
Nerds are so cheap it's ridiculous.

Let's look at the standard plans for smaller teams - it maxes at $22/month for 20 private repos and 10 collaborators. Not bad.

On the business side the max is 125 repos for $200/month.

Even in the midwest a full time dev costs say at least $4,000 a month. Assuming you have a team of 10-20 devs, that is what $40,000 - $80,000 a month.

So, at the high end to keep your team of 10-20 devs happy it costs you an extra $200 a month on top of the $40k+ you are spending in salary and so forth. Drop in the bucket.

And if you're an indie dev and you can't afford $22/month for awesome code hosting for all your projects, you are the kind of cheapskate that you might as well look elsewhere. Also, there are a TON of options out there like bitbucket, assembla, and so on if you want "cheaper" hosting.

Seriously, you could put out a crappy android app that makes you $100 a month in a weekend and that pays for your github hosting.

Why complain?

grandalf 22 hours ago 1 reply      
I think people are misinterpreting the frustration with Github's pricing.

It's not that people have a problem paying $22 for 20 repos, it's that the 21st repo costs $23 per month!

Github's pricing structure has friction in this area. Without a controlled experiment it's impossible to determine whether this pricing model is best for Github or not.

Imagine if when you bought toothpaste there were two options, a small travel-size tube for $1 or a crate full of 500 full size tubes for $250. Or imagine if a restaurant served ice cream at $0.25 for a spoonful and then your next option was a full gallon.

The friction occurs b/c people don't like wasting money, and the pricing model Github has chosen feels like unused repos are costing money but not being put to use.

In other words, there is a nonlinear relationship between money spent and usefulness gained per dollar, which makes it difficult for people to maximize utility over. This is friction and it probably has mixed results. I think the most important thing to note is that we don't know whether it helps or hurts Github's business to do things this way. Assertions that it does one vs the other are only speculation.

davidedicillo 1 day ago 3 replies      
I don't mind GitHub pricing, but I wish it had a "Archive" option for the private repo, for those projects that aren't active anymore but still want to keep the repo on GitHub just in case. And of course the archived repos wouldn't count towards your total repo unless they are reactivated.
watty 22 hours ago 0 replies      
Many of you are missing the point. It's not as much about the actual cost but about the model of charging per repo rather than data usage (or both options). This model is not cost effective for small businesses and contractors who have many small projects.

For example, my company has two full time devs and a few contractors for small projects. We have accumulated over 30 projects and that number will continue to grow. It's not uncommon for an older project to be re-opened after a period of inactivity for new features or fixes. It's not cost effective to shell out $100/month. We've moved to Springloops which allows 10 active repos and unlimited archived for $15/month.

masnick 1 day ago 1 reply      
This is why https://codeplane.com/ was created. 2GB worth of private repos for $9/month.

See http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=2674417 for the discussion of Codeplane on HN.

skrebbel 1 day ago 0 replies      
It's called "Software as a Service" for a reason. Hint: it's not "Data storage as a Service".
zavulon 1 day ago 4 replies      
And that's reason #1 we don't use Github. Assembla lets us host all of our git, SVN and Mercurial repos for free.. currently we have 32 and counting, no issues ever, without paying a single penny.
DannoHung 23 hours ago 1 reply      
Man, I totally would love it if my company would let us use github for our source control. Unfortunately, we are strictly not allowed to store anything outside of the company servers for security reasons and I'm reasonably sure the local github service cost would necessitate making a successful case that we should transition the entire company to it. Which involves not just proving that github is a better source control management suite, but that the git model is superior to the centrally managed, monolithic perforce model we use.
frankus 23 hours ago 1 reply      
I guess I always saw github as more of a flickr for code than a private repo hosting service for hobbyists.

I'd still like a good way to back up my private solo-project repositories off-site using git, but I suppose DropBox works pretty well for that?

g123g 22 hours ago 0 replies      
How about providing a github like interface on top of dropbox? Has anybody done this? The best thing about this will be that 2GB of storage is free from dropbox which is quite sufficient for most of the needs.
canistr 1 day ago 1 reply      
This is why BitBucket's price plan makes more sense.
nzoschke 23 hours ago 0 replies      
Just make your small projects public, and with a proper copyright. It's incredibly hard to get someone to pay attention to you and your code even if you want them to. Nobody will notice one way or another.

GitHub is the Library of Alexandria, not a safety deposit box.

jedbrown 23 hours ago 1 reply      
Academic research is one more data point. Sometimes you have faculty and students from multiple institutions. It's not so much the cost that's the problem, rather the paperwork to bill it to various grants over the lifetime of a project. In many ways, it's simpler for one of the leaders to just pay for it personally.

I personally prefer doing public development, but this has been cited by a number of colleagues as a reason not to host at github.

overshard 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Would work great for me. I store everything on dropbox in one giant lump truecrypt file...
JoelMcCracken 11 hours ago 0 replies      
Any big reason not to have an archive repo, with tars of your archived projects?

You still have git for your tars, and thus all your versions. It seems like a fine idea, to me.

To archive a project, tar its project directory, copy it in to an archive repo on github, commit and push it, and remove the directory locally.

To unarchive a project, pull and untar the project in its own directory. When done, tar it back up into the archive repo, commit, and push.

Revisor 16 hours ago 0 replies      
It's a simple price segmenting. No one says the axis of projects makes financial sense on the expense side. It makes sense in distinguishing the type of customer.

Ironically it's nicely illustrated by the employee/owner of a web agency complaining in the comments. Obviously it worked and Github managed to extract more value from a larger customer.

bphogan 21 hours ago 0 replies      
I don't get the problems that people have with Github's pricing.

I can have all the private repos I want by creating repositories on my computer. Git is decentralized. Putting it in a central location is centralized. :)

But seriously, I can have as many private repositories as I want - all I need is a server with SSH support.

What I want is the user interface for adding comments and collaboration on my private repos that I get for public repos. If I find that valuable to me, I'll pay it. If it's a "toy" project that I'll never touch, a local repo and a backup of my computer is all I need - I don't need others to have that code.

eLobato 1 day ago 0 replies      
To be fair, the markets of Dropbox and Github are dramatically different. In fact I'd say that the Github pricing model is quite better in terms of adjusting the price to the demand. As I've read in some other comment here in HN, if you don't use Github because $100 is a lot of money to spend in your project, then you probably shouldn't be using Github.
Still, they offer great and FREE micro accounts for students (I have one) and the support is great.
chow 17 hours ago 0 replies      
Funny article, but it misses the fact that GitHub's pricing is less about code separation, and more about access management.

There's nothing stopping a customer from cramming several projects into a single Git repository. You could theoretically take advantage of GitHub's "unlimited" storage for cheap this way. The problem is, you need separate repositories if you want to manage access for different collaborators.

Folders aren't expensive, but access management can be. Github understands this, which is why their Business plans, which are differentiated by having finer-grained access control features, are more expensive.

dools 23 hours ago 1 reply      
I don't actually understand why anyone pays for github when it's so trivial to set up a central git repository on a $10/month VPS and you can have unlimited repositories.

Surely developers aren't that desperate for a nice UI for their git repos?! I assume that there are a bunch of web based repo browsing tools you could install for free if you were that hell bent on looking at your code in a web browser

marcf 23 hours ago 0 replies      
For businesses looking to be cost effective, remember there is www.projectlocker.com

Not as sexy as GitHub but it has Trac (or Agilo Trac) and a choice of GIT/SVN. Unlimited projects, but it has disk space limits and user limits that differentiate the levels (similar to dropbox.) Cost structure is here:


There is no public visibility on projectlocker.com, thus it is best for teams that don't want their stuff public (which actually most companies.)

Disclaimer: I have used PL as a paying customer for 4 years at the Equity level (<30 users, <30GB of repos) and am a very happy with it. I haven't noticed it go down in all that time.

nivertech 17 hours ago 0 replies      
When using git every library/dependency is a separate repo. So 125 private repos limit for $200 is only enough for 3-4 real life projects, or one really big project.
mcantor 20 hours ago 0 replies      
Yeah! What a bunch of dickbags.

What if Western Digital used Dropbox's pricing plan?

Duff 22 hours ago 0 replies      
I know this is pretty much a joke, but never underestimate the ability of people to do ridiculous things.

I've personally witnessed individuals with email Inboxes with over 50,000 items in them -- total size 30GB. No use of folders, no meaningful search capability.

rmc 1 day ago 1 reply      
Not really a fair comparison. GitHub is aimed at open source development, and is doing quite well at that. So for github you want your data to be visible to everyone in the world.

Imagine if someone thought a blogging software was like a diary in days gone by. "You mean everyone can see what I write in my diary?! How terrible!"

necenzurat 23 hours ago 0 replies      
http://www.syncany.org/ will kill you all
roel_v 23 hours ago 0 replies      
I expected this to be a post on how Dropbox is too expensive.

Also, putting my grumpy hat on, what's with all the cheapskate whining? "Give me more, I want it FREE!"... bleh.

a3_nm 22 hours ago 1 reply      
Actually, "all your files are visible to everyone" isn't a restriction at all if you're using crypto.

Likewise, it's funny to think that you could encrypt your git repositories and use github public hosting for private projects. I wonder if someone already did, but I guess github wouldn't care (if you're doing this, you wouldn't be paying for the service anyway).

Nginx doesn't suck at SSL after all matt.io
278 points by seiji  6 days ago   107 comments top 21
tptacek 6 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 6 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 6 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

thirsteh 6 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.)

cbetz 6 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 6 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.)

tlrobinson 6 days ago 4 replies      
"Final feeling: Twitter is better than HN in all social dimensions of engagement, kindness, and authenticity."


WestCoastJustin 6 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 6 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 6 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?

grandalf 6 days ago 0 replies      
Any serious article ripping on the performance of something should at least link to the config file used.
alnayyir 6 days ago 0 replies      
Well at least he followed up. Most people don't bother to correct their mistakes.
mmaunder 6 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 6 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 6 days ago 0 replies      
Guess I was right about the cipher used.


ynniv 6 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.
alexkon 6 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:



dfc 6 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 6 days ago 2 replies      
keywords in footer:
nginx, openssl, ciphers, DHE-RSA-AES256-SHA bad, AES256-SHA good, hn, twitter, glee soundtrack
epi0Bauqu 6 days ago 0 replies      
So what should ssl_ciphers be? Can't you just move that one to the end somehow?
beachaccount 6 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
270 points by ek  6 days ago   277 comments top 48
bradleyland 6 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 6 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 6 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 6 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 6 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 6 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 6 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 6 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.

nestlequ1k 6 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

Oompa 6 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.

etheric 6 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.

meow 6 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 :|.
wccrawford 6 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.

Thangorodrim 6 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 6 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.
noonespecial 6 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.

jrockway 6 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.

fourk 6 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 6 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 6 days ago 2 replies      
Is Comcast really a monopoly in some parts of the US? Aren't there any other viable options?
zzzmarcus 6 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 6 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.

smackfu 6 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.
joelhaus 6 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.
daimyoyo 6 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.
svin80 6 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.
pragmatic 6 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).

henryw 6 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.

ankimal 6 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?

ddelony 6 days ago 0 replies      
I'm surprised no one's noticed all the conspiracy theories mentioned on the main site.
peterwwillis 6 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.

jeggers5 6 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 6 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.

mrbonner 6 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

dennisgorelik 6 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.
Zarathust 6 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.

gte910h 6 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.

alphaoverlord 6 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.

donpark 6 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.
code_duck 6 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.
rajpaul 6 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 6 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 6 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 6 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 6 days ago 0 replies      
I wonder why he did not agree to pay more for his extra traffic?
rudle 6 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.

Google+ for iOS is out apple.com
267 points by davidedicillo  23 hours ago   112 comments top 29
saturdaysaint 21 hours ago 2 replies      
Huddles are even more confusing here - when I target my "Friends" circle, it populates the field with specific the names of everyone in that list, including people who aren't in Plus yet. Are they going to get an annoying nag e-mail that I do NOT want to send? I don't know, so I'm not using Huddles yet.

This problem is arising frequently for me with Circles - I'm not exactly sure what the impact will be beyond blanket posts to Friends and Public.

joshu 22 hours ago 5 replies      
this is impossible to find in the app store.

conveniently, i have a meeting with the plus folks so i will tell them :)

chacha102 22 hours ago 7 replies      
Can any experienced iOS developers please tell me if it is really 'that' hard to make an app iPod Touch compatible?

I mean, come on, you just alienate a ton of users without implementing iPod or iPad compatibility...

pnp 20 hours ago 0 replies      
I found it on my iPhone by searching for "google social huddle" as that seems to hit the description.
shinratdr 7 hours ago 0 replies      
...no iPod touch or iPad support? Honestly? Why? That's insane. Judging by how ubiquitous support is for those devices across iOS apps, I almost thing Google specifically disallowed them to be pricks, which is supported by the fact that it runs on the iPhone 3G. Either way to not be aware that this is an issue floors me. Maybe they really DON'T see the value or market in the iPod touch at all?

Between that sheer ridiculousness and the Android-esque navigation bar, this is shaping up to be one underwhelming iOS app launch from Google.

nc 22 hours ago 6 replies      
Can't believe they went for the same Facebook style launcher, when it's a) used by Facebook b) only got 5 icons c) it's explicitly regarded as bad UI design by Apple (at this WWDC).
jonknee 22 hours ago 0 replies      
Quicker than the mobile site and supports photo uploading (annoying attribute of Mobile Safari). I like it.
injekt 23 hours ago 6 replies      
Interesting. I'm running iOS5 beta3, and when I attempt to hit the Stream, the app dies. Does this happen for anyone else? EDIT: Also when I click on someones profile in the 'cirlces' list.

I can't really give any impressions on the app without these things working, but viewing photos and photo comments feels nice and responsive.

rryan 20 hours ago 1 reply      
Apparently there was some kind of bug in the app store and it started serving up an older test version. If you downloaded within the first hour or two of release, you should re-download.


Groxx 20 hours ago 0 replies      
Can't test it, as I have an iPod (which is wtf-worthy...), but from what I'm seeing... have they released an API yet? Surely someone can come up with something better.
dstein 22 hours ago 2 replies      
I would much rather them spend the time to make the regular website iPad compatible. But Google has some funky JavaScript on the inputs capturing every keystroke and sending each keypress to the server and none of it works on iOS. You can't type, and you can't paste anything in the textboxes. And similar bugs effect Firefox, like you can't select text in the textareas using the keyboard.
inam 21 hours ago 3 replies      
I'm using 2-factor authentication. Couldn't create an application password. Had to use my main pwd+token which is only good for 30 days. Shouldn't they allow the use of a 2-factor application password for an iOS app?
robert-boehnke 22 hours ago 1 reply      
It only works on iPhones with GPS, that's probably why it does not work for you.

(That's what it says when I try to install it on my Wifi iPad and it did not show up in the App Store on the iPad either)

j79 19 hours ago 0 replies      
If you're having a hard time finding the app via search, try going to Categories -> Social Networking -> Release Date

I was able to find it there.

runjake 12 hours ago 1 reply      
Many people are having trouble location the app by using the obvious search terms.

However, if you search for the words "google huddle" it should come right up.

sbarre 22 hours ago 1 reply      
I couldn't fine it in the App Store on my iPhone, but I installed it via iTunes to my computer, then went to the App Store on my phone, went to Update -> Purchased and "Not on this Phone" and it showed up there, and I clicked to install/update from there, and voila!
dxShen 23 hours ago 2 replies      
Very interesting to see how much an improvement this is to the mobile site, which is a chore to use on the iPhone. Also here's hoping for a decent iPad app, since the mobile Google+ site looks ridiculous on the iPad and the desktop version is buggy.
joejohnson 22 hours ago 0 replies      
It's not showing up for me in the app store yet :( Must be rolling out slowly or regionally.
adig 20 hours ago 0 replies      
Since google+ launched I thought that the "Photos from your phone" is a really good idea. I haven't found any option for syncing in the iPhone app. Is it only available on the Android app ?
beej71 17 hours ago 0 replies      
Searching for google+ in the app store got me nothing. But searching for "google+" (with quotes) in the app store found it.
dkokelley 23 hours ago 3 replies      
The link is not working for me, and it doesn't show up in the app market search. Released and pulled? False alarm?

Update: I'm reading that it's only available on the iPhone currently. Alas, my iPod Touch and iPad are not the iPhone. If this is the case, then that's too bad.

aufreak3 14 hours ago 0 replies      
Looks like it is available in the US store only? Can't get in Singapore.
jdelsman 17 hours ago 1 reply      
Interesting. Using this app, I'm able to use Google+ in China. However, going to plus.google.com doesn't work. Does this use a different communication method we & China aren't aware of?
clobber 20 hours ago 1 reply      
Cool - another medium for more baby photos and emoting.
carvaka 19 hours ago 1 reply      
I can't use it to post a message to a specific person (can only select circles). This means I can't use Agent G to post to FB / twitter. Will stick with the mobile app for now.
bhartzer 19 hours ago 0 replies      
I really need to ditch the blackberry and get an iphone.
farnulfo 22 hours ago 0 replies      
Can't find where huddle messages are stored on the web interface !?
kodisha 21 hours ago 0 replies      
Not available in Croatian store.
Titanous 22 hours ago 2 replies      
It's interesting that Apple allowed Huddle, which is a direct competitor with iMessage.
How Stuxnet was deciphered wired.com
260 points by paulsilver  6 days ago   71 comments top 14
landhar 5 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 5 days ago 4 replies      
This is easily the most interesting article i've read in the past 6 years.
sambeau 6 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?

ugh 6 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
yread 5 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?

Swannie 5 days 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.

aorshan 5 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.
bshep 6 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.
Amincd 5 days 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.

cesar 5 days 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 5 days ago 0 replies      
This is a particularly well-written article by Wired.
evilswan 5 days ago 0 replies      
Have to agree with other posters - Best article I've read on Stuxnet - good job.
hammock 5 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.

Skeleton: A Beautiful Boilerplate for Responsive, Mobile-Friendly Development getskeleton.com
251 points by wslh  3 days ago   29 comments top 21
thatcoolguy 3 days ago 1 reply      
I don't like it too much. It's still based on designing for desktop first.

I prefer the ones that use a mobile first approach, which is more future-proof and is supported on more devices.

Also, another thing to consider is fluid-width vs fixed-width. Fluid width layouts are harder, but much more future proof. The mobile device landscape changes fast, and there are lots of sizes to design for. A fluid-width website would be much better in this case.

Some of these are Gridless[1], HTML5 Boilerplate[2] and 320 and Up[3].

[1]: http://thatcoolguy.github.com/gridless-boilerplate/

[2]: http://html5boilerplate.com/

[3]: http://stuffandnonsense.co.uk/projects/320andup/

dhgamache 2 days ago 0 replies      
Hey All,

This is @dhg (creator of Skeleton)and just wanted to say I was pumped to see it on Hacker News. All feedback is well received and I'm actually in the process of releasing an update that will remedy the text-resize issue when font-size is bumped up or down, along with some other small bug fixes.

In terms of fluid vs. fixed I chose to have a set number of fixed resolutions because it allows for a bit more control at those sizes and has a set of associated media query sizes . It also allows for a nested grid which is not really achievable with a fluid grid.

Thanks for the feedback again everyone. I just started a new job that is keeping me busy (in an awesome way), but am going to try to get out an update next weekend.


uggedal 3 days ago 0 replies      
I would prefer a fluid grid. The fixed grid of Skeleton even overflows at certain device widths. I featured it on http://mediaqueri.es/ske/ a few months ago.
ludwigvan 3 days ago 0 replies      
How should one solve the menu issue for mobile devices? When the device is mobile, the menu on the left disappears with Skeleton. If one displays the menu, the user has to face it for every page.

Take a look at http://isit2013.org/ to see what I'm talking about, a page I made last year (it uses media queries, but not Skeleton). I'm open to any ideas on improving this site.

overshard 2 days ago 1 reply      
I despise frameworks like this. They cater to a crowd that I don't believe exists. Who goes and wants to just toss together a mobile-friendly site but doesn't have the skill set to do it without a framework like this? The huge companies that do this rather write their own and the little guys generally have hackers who can write something more efficient. The simplicity of HTML and CSS make frameworks for it seem rather silly.

Edit: That is, of course, unless it's something like YAML or SASS or LESS which completely redefine how to write the code.

michaelschade 3 days ago 0 replies      
I've used this a number of times already and it's made rapid deployment of pages a breeze. It's used on my little sandbox site, Rawr: http://rawr.mschade.me/

@dhg (the creator) seems quite nice and responsive to people tweeting him about it as well, which is a definite plus.

naeem 11 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm giving my personal recommendation for this. It's cut my front-end development times extensively.
iaskwhy 3 days ago 0 replies      
Nitpick: the text size on the button is smaller than the default text size. I find this on a lot of CSS frameworks and think it's wrong, it's an action, should be at least the same as the default text size, if not bigger.
detour 2 days ago 0 replies      
I actually just used this as the base for a project I'm working on. It is nice just to have a starting point design-wise so I don't get caught up wasting time styling when my strong suit is coding.
danneu 3 days ago 1 reply      
Love the scaling. Especially how the grid becomes stacked at mobile-width.
trickjarrett 3 days ago 0 replies      
Am in the process of planning a redesign of a site, looking forward to working with this.
SkyMarshal 3 days ago 0 replies      
Skeleton first got my attention a few weeks ago when I noticed Paul Irish had forked it to his Github account.


artursapek 3 days ago 0 replies      
It's really great to see open-source resources like this emerging all the time, as opposed to the likes of Flash. CSS, HTML5, and JS were all pushed pretty hard at a mobile hackathon I went to today.
poissonpie 3 days ago 0 replies      
Looks neat thanks. I tried Less Framework a while back and for some reason, just didn't quite get on with it...so it's nice to have an alternative
jjm 3 days ago 0 replies      
How does it compare to Less? http://lessframework.com/
jemeshsu 3 days ago 0 replies      
How does it compare with Less Framework(http://lessframework.com/) ?
terhechte 3 days ago 0 replies      
I like what I see here. Will try to use it in my next project.
drivebyacct2 2 days ago 0 replies      
Very cool. I'm just sad that it is limited to 960px :/.
jechen 3 days ago 1 reply      
Can definitely see myself using this with jQuery Mobile. Thanks.
KarlFreeman 3 days ago 0 replies      
Been using this a lot lately, really love it thanks @dhg
Why My Father Hated India wsj.com
239 points by watchandwait  3 days ago   112 comments top 20
DanielBMarkham 3 days ago  replies      
One of the things that consistently puzzle me is how different cultures handle change.

Over the past 150 years, the world has seen all kinds of terrible wars, killing hundreds of millions of people and causing all sorts of hatred and ill will.

Some of these cultures get up, dust themselves off, and go on -- sometimes achieving greatness. Other cultures, sometimes with far less injustice done (if you can measure these things, which I doubt) carry grudges seemingly forever.

Even in personal relations, I've known people in the states who suffered terribly by some criminal, only to have them forgive the criminal and move on with their lives. On the other hand, there are those who suffered the same thing who carry hatred in their heart until they die.

I remember seeing a person on TV from Jerusalem. They were talking about how their great-great grandfather lived in a house but was evicted by the Israelis. And how angry they were about it all. I could see that this was really bothering them.

Hell, if I spent my time emoting over wrongs my entire ancestry both committed and suffered through, I wouldn't have much left of a life left.

Why the difference? That's above my pay grade -- hence the reason I find it so fascinating. I can unequivocally say, however, that hating someone or some culture is a fool's game that hurts the hater much more than the object of hatred. There is a terrible strain of nihilism alive in the world. So many lives wasted by it. Very sad.

scarmig 2 days ago 2 replies      
I'm torn about this. India is a much more pluralistic society, and Pakistan is a failed state. But one of the points made early on in the article makes it seem as if the Partition was entirely Pakistan's idea, and the hundreds of thousands (millions?) of people who died were all innocent Hindus being slaughtered at the hands of murderous Muslims. "But violence erupted, and it quickly became clear that in the new homeland for India's Muslims, there would be no place for its non-Muslim communities. Pakistan and India came into being at the cost of a million lives and the largest migration in history." Which is far from the reality; it was a clusterfuck all around, and communal violence was the rule of the day on both sides of the partition line.

It wasn't just Muslims in the 30s who called for two separate states. Many Hindus did too. It's true, the most prominent Hindu in the struggle (Gandhi) wanted a single state and tried to (in theory, at least) accommodate the large Muslim minority. For those efforts he was assassinated by a religious extremist.

Of course, you hear religious extremist and you might assume it was some Muslim who thought Gandhi was too effective a voice for unity. To the contrary, it was a Hindu nationalist who thought Gandhi was a sellout to the Muslims.

This strain of Hindu nationalism that endorses the use of violence has appeared again and again. As recently as 2002 a riot occurred in which a Hindu mob murdered around a thousand Muslims.

All this isn't to say the Muslims on the subcontinent are all paragons of virtue and liberalism. They aren't. But the story the author tells is just a pleasant story, meant to appeal to the baser instincts of Wall Street Journal readers. Maybe more than that, it's a story meant to appeal to India's own self conception, where it's as pure as snow and it's those dastardly Pakistanis who've made everything terrible.

g123g 3 days ago 2 replies      
Very good and balanced article overall. The hatred of each other has become so deep rooted in both the countries and the mutual suspicion so strong that it is too late that the relationship can be changed. But we still owe it our next generation to work towards peace so that the wealth that belongs to them does not get spent in keeping up the needless hostility. We cannot let the past ruin the lives of the poorest people in the world who live in this region.
It is time for the Pakistani people to call a spade a spade. They cannot take refuge anymore in the filmsy excuses and their needless obsession with Kashmir anymore. If they don't do anything now and continue to behave as they have done till now for the last 60 years, it will be too late. Pakistan as a nation is literally on its last breath and it needs an immediate shock treatment by its own people if it wants to survive. India will continue to grow and survive but it is Pakistan whose survival at stake. If Pakistani people continue to behave like ostriches with their heads in sand, then they will have only themselves to blame and not any of their make believe enemies like US or India.
jkic47 3 days ago 6 replies      
The article was unexpectedly heart wrenching to read. India takes its very name from the Indus valley that lies in Pakistan, while the most famous example of Islamic architecture is the Taj Mahal in India. It is sad watching the two countries' governments waste time, energy and lives in a conflict that is essentially at a stalemate.
qasar 3 days ago  replies      
Being a Pakistani (and Punjabi) American myself, I do not agree with some of the views the author puts forward.

First, Pakistanis do define themselves primarily as 'non-Indians'. However, the view that Pakistan has somehow carved out a new identity is the past 60 years is false. 5,000 years of shared heredity, language, customs and political history don't shake off that easily. Even Pakistanis and their relationship to religion is very similar to Indian Hindus and their relationship to Hinduism. Just as there are extremist groups in Pakistan, there are extremist Hindus in India. Pakistani's are more Indian that they want to believe and vice versa - especially if you live in the West where the two groups meld together indistinguishably.

The second point I disagree with is that minorities left only Pakistan (because of communal violence). History shows that there was a reciprocal exodus of Indian Muslims to Pakistan. Communal violence is one of the defining aspects of the sub continent.

Lastly, many of the poets, philosophers and British bureaucrats did predict one thing correctly - being a minority in a Hindu majority India ultimately would have a ruinous effects on Indian Muslims - formerly some of the most educated and economically prosperous citizens of India. South Asian culture is one of rabid communalism and today Indian Muslims are less educated, less wealth and less politically represented than in any part of India's long history.

Sometimes I wonder what impact it would have had on both sides of the border if the new nation had been called "West India".

Cherian_Abraham 3 days ago 0 replies      
"Resentment is like drinking poison and then hoping it will kill your enemies." " NelsonMandela
sharjeel 3 days ago 0 replies      
Most of the people calling it off-topic are being downvoted. So let me refer to the HN Guidelines:

What to Submit

On-Topic: Anything that good hackers would find interesting. That includes more than hacking and startups. If you had to reduce it to a sentence, the answer might be: anything that gratifies one's intellectual curiosity.

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

zmanji 3 days ago 1 reply      
Has there ever been a case where defining yourself as a negative of something resulted in a success?
digamber_kamat 3 days ago 0 replies      
I think rest of the world should stop mirroring India with Pakistan. There is hell lot of difference between these two countries. India is developing fast, its diverse, secular and no threat to global peace.
Pakistan on other hand is a failed state.
paulnelligan 3 days ago 1 reply      
I found this article extremely interesting. If you haven't watched the 'beating retreat ceremony' video, make sure you do, it's one of the most bizarre things I've ever seen.
rajpaul 3 days ago 0 replies      
this conflict is a waste of human capital. i hope the fog of ignorance is lifted very soon and the desire for profit brings people together.
anxrn 2 days ago 0 replies      
This article is timely, in light of (yet another) terrorist attack on Mumbai by allegedly Islamic militants. I'm going to go out on a limb here and claim that this attack is only the latest in a long bloody series of consequences of Partition.

The history of armed communal militancy, both Hindu and Muslim, began with the Kashmir movement in the late 80's; this itself was a side-effect of Partition. This was the first time communal tension took on a decidedly dark tone with armed militants entering the picture. Since then, things have only become worse, with the Pakistan establishment actively supporting and arming anti-India militants and Hindu nationalists in India attempting to derail any possibility of reconciliation by repeated acts of religious intolerance. The current situation vis-a-vis Mumbai is quite pathetic, with politicians falling over each other to get a quote out; and the people of Mumbai developing a horrible sense of resigned apathy, touted regularly as 'resilience'.

What is the solution? I don't know. (War, of course, is guaranteed to always be the wrong answer). A reasonable answer, as always, is economics. If the economies of both countries improve, the resulting improved education and decrease in poverty might provide a solution. India seems to be on the right track here; Pakistan, not so much.

vamsee 3 days ago 2 replies      
Interesting, but not relevant.
known 3 days ago 0 replies      
Pakistan(83) is a better nation to do business than India(134)
known 3 days ago 4 replies      
During Indo-Pak partition in 1947 the agreement is that all Muslim majority regions should be merged with Pakistan and all Hindu majority regions should be merged with India.

India betrayed by annexing Muslim majority Kashmir and Hyderabad.

UNSC passed multiple resolutions since 1948 advising India, Pakistan & China to give Independence to Kashmir, Tibet & Aksai Chin.

Obsession with Kashmir is burning rest of the India.

known 3 days ago 0 replies      
As per New Economics Foundation, Bhutan(17), Sri Lanka(22), Pakistan(24) nations are happier than India(35).
known 3 days ago 0 replies      
known 3 days ago 1 reply      
Compared to India, a higher percentage of women in Pakistan feel they are treated with respect.
As per National Crime Records Bureau, every 26 minutes a rape is committed in India and out of which 30% are against minors.
Zarar 3 days ago 1 reply      
The author had daddy issues. BTW, what is this article even doing on HN?

My take: Kashmir == root cause. Fix that first, grant independence.

programmerx 3 days ago 0 replies      
I will probably get downvoted but articles like these do not belong on HN.

This is just a propaganda article from the Indians, to make Pakistanis look bad.

Now there will be propaganda articles from the Pakistanis next, to make Indians look bad.

To pass propaganda is very normal for these two third world countries, they have faught 3 wars since independence in the last 60 years and still half the population in both countries live in poverty.

Netflix for baby clothes plumgear.com
231 points by daviday  1 day ago   100 comments top 40
aresant 1 day ago 4 replies      
I love the look and feel of the landing page, the typography is concise and clear.

That said a couple of landing page suggestions:

a) You need to turn the "subscribe" call to action into a button or underline it, it's not clear to avg web user what to do. Suggestion for A/B is a less scary action than "subscribe", maybe "Try it Now!"

b) Get the "stains or spills" content into the top paragraph, it's fundamental in closing the sale. As a parent the #1 thing i wondered was how do you address the "ewwww" factor of sharing baby clothes, shouldn't have to scroll to see that.

Hope you guys crush it, sending along to my wife :)

raldi 1 day ago 1 reply      
To everyone posting a variant of, "Ew, I don't care if it's been laundered.. who wants to use pants that were on some weird stranger's baby?" .. I have to ask: Do you bring your own sheets and towels when you stay in a hotel?
troels 1 day ago 4 replies      
Very good idea. I see a problem with the business model though. My son is 6 months now and we have only ever bought a couple of cheap body stockings. Everything else was donated to use by friends and family who have had children recently. Even though I like this idea, I probably wouldn't have used it simply because I didn't have to.

And I don't think we're unique in that sense; My impression is that people either want new clothes (And thus aren't your target customers) or they are second-handers like me. But maybe there's a third group; I definitely think you should test the marked.

OstiaAntica 1 day ago 2 replies      
The smart thing is the marketing comparison to Netflix. I get the service immediately.

I actually think a better market is offering a cloth diaper service, but I'm sure the USPS would have some issues with those packages!

JangoSteve 1 day ago 3 replies      
Seems like a very good idea, considering baby clothes can be expensive and are generally needed for only a short time. I think this model would also work well with women's evening gowns and men's tuxedos (much like tuxedo renting currently happens, but mailed to me and I can return it whenever).

I've talked with people who started a similar service a year or so ago, called Bebaroo (recently renamed Bebarang). In fact, they use the same description, "Netflix for baby clothes".



jerf 1 day ago 2 replies      
To everyone saying "too expensive", I think perhaps you are not the target market. I found the "Egg Baby" outfit that is pictured on the plumgear.com homepage: http://www.egg-baby.com/lightweight-knit-layette-p1ck400-lgr... It is currently selling for $42.25.

Perhaps it's a little expensive, but I believe "plum" here is not just a random word, but is referring to the quality of the goods being rented.

Now, one may separately question whether there is anybody in the target market, who wants these clothes but won't drop the funds to just buy them, but I can't speak to that either way; my family is more the "$5 for the all-the-clothes-you-can-stuff-into-a-garbage-bag special" sort of family. No rental service can compete in that part of the market, as fixed costs to ship one box would eat half my wardrobe "budget".

bmurphy 1 day ago 2 replies      
As the Father of a 19 month old I can only say this is a complete rip-off.

Craig's list, friends and family, birthdays, holidays, garage sales, second hand stores, 50% off coupons, the list goes on and on.

$16/mo for two outfits? Really? Maybe $1/mo/outfit or something like that and I'll bite. Right now, one years subscription would be more than her entire wardrobe and we're pretty much done until age 4.

jawns 1 day ago 3 replies      
Marketing question:

Any problems with using somebody else's trademark in your service's tagline?

Can I market my business as the "Netflix of ..." or the "Apple of ..." or the "Hacker News of ..." without getting permission from that trademark holder?

(I know a lot of generic products use a tiny line of type like "compare to Kellogg's Frosted Flakes," but it sounds like Plum Gear is taking it a step further than that.)

pdenya 1 day ago 0 replies      
As others have said this works out to $21-24/outfit...but that's a rental fee, you don't get to keep the outfit to pass down to other kids (of your own or of your family and friends).

I suppose there's some value in being able to trade in the outfits once a month to get new ones but it's not enough of an appeal for me to justify the price. We currently pay ~$10-20 for an outfit for my 9 month old daughter which lasts her about 3 months and $15-$30 for my 2 year old son which last him 6-9 months.

I likely won't use this service unless the price drops although I appreciate the idea and the utility. Nice site too.

zavulon 1 day ago 1 reply      
You should use something like Recurly or Chargify + a real payment gateway/merchant account for subscriptions. Using Paypal is just asking for trouble. We've been using Recurly for our clients and it's been working flawlessly (kind of expensive at $70/m, but IMO it's completely worth it for any kind of business.)
kemiller 1 day ago 2 replies      
Holy cow. We're expecting our first, and this just looks like an amazing idea.

You should totally cross-market with the diaper services.

jgoewert 1 day ago 0 replies      
I hope you guys crush it as well. This really taps into the market of people who don't want to spend the time going to thrift stores (or be caught seen in them), but want to save a buck.

I wonder if this type of market is going to expand out more and more to put future generations into the "Why buy when you can rent?" mentality for their entire lives. Makes sense for being able to borrow something when you need it and then return it instead of having it take up space in your house.

A similar toy rental business was on Shark Tank this season: http://www.toygaroo.com/blog/?p=1734

The lady got what I thought was a decent deal with her main problem being that she diluted the heck out of the company by giving out 10% of the shares to anyone who even sneezed near the company.

Best of luck.

BenSS 1 day ago 2 replies      
I'm sorry, but I don't see this working for complete strangers. It's true that extended families regularly exchange clothes, but they're not the real competition.

Your real competitors are the (fairly regular around here) mom swap events. You can buy the same quantity of clothes for less than your monthly charges and see what you're getting in person.

dpcan 1 day ago 0 replies      
Your market is probably people who garage sale for baby clothes - or go to second-hand shops and don't care if their kids are wearing hand-me-downs.

However, those people are finding full outfits for $0.25

Will the same people pay $16.95 per month for this? Not in my opinion.

We buy new clothes for our kids. We hand-down clothes. But we were never comfortable putting our kids in hand-me-down clothes because we see what kids do to clothes.

It seems like a pretty narrow niche.

rapind 1 day ago 0 replies      
The pricing is a bit confusing. You can go with the 7 outfits plan however you can still only return one of those outfits per month before you get dinged.

The alloted shipments should scale with the plan imo. If I'm on the 7 outfit plan I should be able to cycle all 7 of those outfits within say 3 months as part of the plan's price.

You may need to raise the monthly to cover this, but at least it feels more inclusive and less nickle and dime. Just my opinion though.

timjahn 1 day ago 0 replies      
As a new father of an 11 month old (and a very generous family that won't stop finding cute outfits), I have a few thoughts:

1. Just read your FAQ page, and it says if my return package is over 13 oz, I need to take it to the post office. While this sounds trivial initially, how many people know how much their packages weigh? I don't have a postal scale handy, so would I always have to go to the post office to ensure I can get my package out?

2. As numerous people have commented here, you have a lot of competition just with family alone. Granted not everybody's family will be as generous as mine. But we've bought a small percentage of clothes for our little guy compared to our family buying every cute outfit they see at Kohls or Target, and a lot of hand me downs from a little cousin a year old than our little guy.

Your bio on your site seems to suggest that you haven't had your baby yet (unless I've misread it). I wonder if, once you have your baby, you might realize that you yourself have no need for your service (if your family is anything like mine).

Then again, maybe this will take off with a small niche. Nobody can predict the future, right? :)

carolineoconnor 1 day ago 2 replies      
Thanks so much for the great comments and feedback! I'm the founder, had this idea 12 weeks ago in the Launchpad class at Stanford's d.school. The site is extremely beta, I built in in a weekend to test the idea. We've taken on a technical co-founder who's rebuilding for us as we speak.
bitsm 1 day ago 0 replies      
This is a great idea, and there is a market for this, as anyone with a baby will tell you. But have you done any customer development? As others have mentioned, you have a lot of competition.

First you have relatives. They buy lots of new clothes for you. Then you have consignment shops for lots of basic items, which as a new parent, you are suddenly very aware of. Finally, you have the parents themselves, who can usually afford to splurge on a nice outfit here or there, after the bulk of clothing's been supplied by #1 and #2.

I just don't see a burning need here that will get you across the chasm.

b_emery 1 day ago 1 reply      
This is basically what my family and friends have going on right now, so I know it will work. We're constantly shipping boxes of cloths around to each other. Great idea.
mrkurt 1 day ago 0 replies      
This works out to about $21-24/outfit you'd need for a 0-12 month old (assuming new clothes every 3 mo). It's a good abstraction and solves the "I'm drowning in boxes of unused baby clothes" problem pretty nicely.
yalogin 1 day ago 1 reply      
Is there market for sharing clothes like this? I understand if its between family or extended family members but I did not think one would purchase used clothes for babies.
6841iam 1 day ago 1 reply      
[I don't have kids] Nice idea, but I had to crunch the numbers. I'm not sure this service is cost effective. Take the 7 outfits plan at $49/month. Since you can only return these outfits at the end of 3 months that translates into $21/outfit over the 3 months. And if you make 3 returns within the 3 months, that effectively translates to $24.4/outfit. A brand new designer outfit from http://www.egg-baby.com/ will set you back by $40/outfit (probably lower, if you hunt for a good deal). So for gasp, 84 outfits a year, renting outfits through this service will set you back by $2049/year. Buying 84 new outfits will cost you $3360/year. So renting is cheaper by 39%. But, if OTOH, at the end of the year, you were to launder (Cost to you: $200; worst case) these outfits that you've bought and sell them on Ebay at 30% (worst case) of the cost, you'd net ~$800, bring down your total cost to $2560 for buying new clothes yourself.

Plum: 84 outfits. $2049/year
DIY: 84 outfits $40/outfit. $3360/year. Launder them at the end of the year. -$200. Sell them for $1000 on craigslist or Ebay. $2560/year.

Lukeas14 1 day ago 0 replies      
I agree with some of the new parents that this service is essentially useless to me if I get the first 2 years of clothing for free thanks to family and friends. You might want to think about cannibalizing this by allowing my friends to instead give me a 'gift certificate' good for however many months of clothing from your service.
Turing_Machine 1 day ago 0 replies      
Nifty idea. I like the environmentally-friendly detergent, etc. but my first thought was to wonder how effective it is at killing bacteria. Some parents are going to be concerned about that, so it might be good to have some data.
softbuilder 1 day ago 2 replies      
>We donate anything in less-than-perfect condition to foster care.

Ouch. Perhaps it could just say 'donated to those in need' without calling out foster kids as a second class?

earle 1 day ago 0 replies      
This is great. I seem to remember something in a slightly different niche back in the mid-late nineties that ran into issues shipping worn clothing.. have you looked into any potential regulations with this?
lifestyleigni 1 day ago 0 replies      
How does this compare to http://www.thredup.com/ ? Anybody know of any others in this space?
craigmc 1 day ago 0 replies      
Its a great market (massive numbers of babies born every year, 4m+ in the US alone) and it is not one that a lot of entrepreneurs automatically think of, so anything that can get traction is clearly going to do fairly well. The problem with this particular model (and this is only from my own personal experience), is that you get baby clothes (both new and old) as gifts for a lot of different sources (friends, family etc) and quickly most parents regardless of household income come to view baby clothes as a disposable or at least very low value commodity and thus renting expensive "boutique" clothes is perhaps moving towards to the "niche" end of the market... although I definitely, think if you kill the execution you could do something that made a bit of money.
jimmarq 1 day ago 1 reply      
I sincerely wish you luck. I have a 2 month old daughter who wears clothes sized for a 6 month old. It pains me to think about what we spent on clothes she only wore once or twice. I'll send the link to my wife since I have just about zero say (I'm not complaining) about the clothes my daughter wears.
shii 1 day ago 0 replies      
Reminds me of Manpacks: http://manpacks.com/
patorjk 1 day ago 1 reply      
My wife and I are getting ready to have kids soon. This is a really neat idea. However, I'm not sure how she'd feel about sharing clothes with people she doesn't know. However, expanding on this theme, something like this could also useful for things like Halloween, Christmas or other holiday outfits.

One note about the site though, at the bottom, the boxes under "Our brands" highlight when you mouse over them, but nothing happens when you click on them. It seemed a little strange since the boxes above them don't highlight when you mouse over them.

kogus 1 day ago 0 replies      
This is awesome, as a parent I can say this is something I would have loved up to just a few months ago. Come to think of it, I could use an adult version for myself :)

Having said that, here is some constructive criticism:

1 - If you subscribe, what kind of commitment are you making? Can you cancel the service @ any time?

2 - Make the available sizes known before you actually get to the point of subscribing. Our son is right on the line between 3-T and 4-T, but I didn't know the max size is 3-T until I got to the "subscribe" page.

callmeed 1 day ago 0 replies      
I'd like to see more info in the FAQ. For example, what sizes do they go up to?
jdunck 1 day ago 0 replies      
See also, thredup.com
kirpekar 1 day ago 0 replies      
Sorry, but WAY overpriced.
periferral 1 day ago 0 replies      
seems kinda pricey. renting 2 sets for $16/mo. I could hop on to target and buy 2 sets for the same price and I get to keep them till they outgrow them.
I guess they need to deal with the overhead costs on shipping + cleaning + just plain gets old or torn.

Can't see the value in this.

dkrich 1 day ago 1 reply      
While I was in bschool at Michigan, a few classmates were working on an almost identical business called Bebaroo. Not sure where it went, and as a single male with no children, I have no idea about the viability of the model. That said, a good friend of mine who is a mom said that the idea was flawed to her because she could go to Target and outfit her kid for $10 in brand new clothing.
tylerritchie 1 day ago 1 reply      
>To keep that fresh-off-the-line feeling, our bundles are packed with a sprig of organic lavender in a muslin pouch.

Great care seems to be taken with the laundering process to reduce allergens and be generally baby friendly... And then a hepatotoxic flower, allergen, and estrogen mimic is thrown in.

extramoose 1 day ago 0 replies      
Regardless of the first version sales pitch, I'd totally use it if I had a kid.

Just to contribute some valuable info.

namank 1 day ago 0 replies      
Another is Netflix for toys.

Theres a Netflix for everything

       cached 20 July 2011 15:11:01 GMT