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Chosen: A javascript plug-in that makes long select boxes user-friendly. github.com
906 points by utkarshkukreti  5 days ago   76 comments top 30
pilif 5 days ago 7 replies      
And yet another control that pretends to be a dropdown box, but isn't. No. I'm not complaining about the appearance or the fact that it has a search field while the real dropdown doesn't.

I'm complaining about the way it responds to mouse actions: The real dropdown box, on my machine, expands the menu on mouse down after a no-doubt OS-specific delay. The fake dropdown doesn't - it only reacts on mouse up.

Of course, you can't make a a control work exactly like its native counterpart - but that IMHO just means that you shouldn't even try imitating them and provide its own unique look.

I really dislike nearly-native controls - they feel wrong to me.

But don't get me wrong: The controls are really cool and incredibly useful. If only they didn't try to mimic the native look without quite matching it.

philfreo 5 days ago 4 replies      
This project looks awesome. This stuff is annoying to have to replicate yourself, and I'm glad to see MooTools support as well.

That said, my first reaction when looking at the first Country dropdown example was that I liked the native one better since in OS X it shows me dozens of choices at once (fills most of the screen vertically) and then in the "after" suddenly I was constrained to only seeing 7 countries at a time. Not a huge deal but felt like a loss in usability (but a gain visually). If the faux dropdown was just a little taller in height it'd be better.

Secondly, this just killed iPhone support. Apple did a good job with <select>s on iOS and this completely breaks it. It should just turn itself off on iOS.

romaniv 5 days ago 1 reply      
The more libs like this I see, the more I feel that the core HTML controls should be improved and expanded. They are getting really, really dated and don't address a lot of common problems.

Things I feel would make a lot of sense:

Collapsible trees.
Numeric sliders (preferably done like draggable digits http://worrydream.com/Tangle/).
Native drag-and-drop sipport for elements. (And yes, this can be done with plain forms. I can explain how if you want.)
Native rich tooltips and a standard notation to show that something has a tooltip.
Maybe tabs. I think you could do tabs with CSS, but I'm not 100% sure.

If most UI libraries have something, it probably would be a good addtion to HTML spec. It would work faster and eventually have better compatibility.

geuis 5 days ago 1 reply      
This nearly completely breaks the select ui on iOS. It should do some kind of feature detection so that it can disable itself on browsers that have alternate ui's for controls like this.

For example, this converts a select menu to an input field. On iOS the keyboard comes up instead of the select control.

thristian 5 days ago 2 replies      
Apparently Chosen takes the placeholder text from the select element's 'title' attribute; does it also support the official HTML5 syntax[1] for placeholder attributes in select elements?

How about integration with jQueryUI's theming system?

[1]: http://www.whatwg.org/specs/web-apps/current-work/multipage/...

hendrik-xdest 5 days ago 1 reply      
Best plug-in of the year, so far.

Apart from what it says, I do not see problems in IE7 or IE8 (there is some style issues in IE9, though). Also, it is nearly working in IE6. I think I'll try to diddle around with some z-index and CSS stuff to get it working. Can't be much more than that.

skrebbel 5 days ago 2 replies      
Excellent. Makes you wonder why browser vendors never improved on the usability of such controls themselves.
ww520 5 days ago 1 reply      
This is fantastic. ComboBox is what's missing in HTML. This is a keeper.
mickeyben 5 days ago 0 replies      
For the multiple select, I like this one a lot: http://loudev.com/

It's way simpler for the average user.

InclinedPlane 5 days ago 0 replies      
Love it! Sure it's not perfect, but it's a huge improvement already. I've had similar ideas myself but haven't gotten around to implementing them. The existing HTML input controls are clunky and haven't kept up with the pace of web development, maybe we can improve on them using CSS & JS until we develop a new set of canonical input primitives that then become standardized.
Inufu 5 days ago 2 replies      
Um, what use this?

If I click on a dropdown box, I can already type the value on my keyboard to select it. No javascript necessary.

(using chromium on ubuntu)

d0m 5 days ago 0 replies      
I would also add a fuzzy matching. I.e. "unitd sta" should match "United States" even with the missing "e". Or "East coast" should match "The East Coast".
PhrosTT 5 days ago 0 replies      
I've been using the jQuery UI ComboBox for a while, it's essentially this. - http://jqueryui.com/demos/autocomplete/combobox.html
andos 5 days ago 0 replies      
Writing good widgets from scratch is an endless task. It's missing ARIA roles: http://www.w3.org/TR/wai-aria/roles#combobox
koblas 5 days ago 0 replies      
I think it's pretty cool, though it would be nice if they had a simplified single selection version. Which is to change a single select list into a text field with "instant search". The current incarnation make me first go for the pull down rather than just tabbing over and start typing.
tomelders 5 days ago 0 replies      
This plugin makes the case that this sort of functionality should be implemented into browsers very well.
exch 5 days ago 0 replies      
The first sentence on the linked page has a typo: "javsacript"
bane 5 days ago 0 replies      
Hopefully some of these ideas will end up in dojo/dijit (a couple similar takes are already there).

I really like the multi-select control.

shawndumas 5 days ago 1 reply      
Note: IE8 (and lower) support is done via Chrome Frame.
fooyc 5 days ago 0 replies      
The UI widgets like this all have the same defects:

1. They are slow, as all their markup has to be generated on the client side each time the page loads

2. They are not ajax friendly. I mean that if you insert a select box in a HTML document with javascript, it will remain a plain native select box unless your script specifically calls the right widget's function. So you have to update all your scripts.

3. They are not drop-in replacements for native widgets, all your script must know how to handle these widgets for things like getting the widget's value, listening for events, etc.

Points 1 and 2 could be fixed by generating the widget's HTML code on the server side and using delegated events (like jQuery's delegate()). (Progressive Enhancement can still be achieved without doing _everything_ on the client side.)

Other than that, the idea of a text input on the top of the options list is awesome.

gorm 5 days ago 2 replies      
Does anyone know if it's compatible with formalize.me?
Does it work well on android/iphone?
naeem 5 days ago 0 replies      
Sexy! I do agree with a previous comment that the more technologies like these that come out, the more apparant it becomes that HTML as a whole needs a long overdue makeover.
arctangent 5 days ago 0 replies      
Awesome. This is going into my UI toolkit.
MaurizioPz 5 days ago 1 reply      
I think this is great and would like it to be a browser extension so that I can use it all over the web
myworkipad 4 days ago 0 replies      
On the iPad, the custom control is decidedly worse. The native one is larger and more appropriate for the device. This idea of custom UI elements seems really bad. It's gonna be worse than native on any platform. The issues with native controls should be addressed on their respective platforms.
nerdo 5 days ago 0 replies      
Multi-select could use some work. Drag-highlighting, shift, ctrl, etc.
piquadrat 5 days ago 1 reply      
So... why don't they use this thing on their own web app? The "Project / Task" select box becomes very unwieldy with a growing client base. I spend way too much time looking for the correct project almost every time I have to create a new entry.
martin1b 5 days ago 0 replies      
Wow. The results are really polished!
danberger 5 days ago 1 reply      
Has anyone tried this on an iPad?
SolarUpNote 5 days ago 0 replies      
I love this. LOVE it!
33GB of public domain JSTOR articles, and a manifesto thepiratebay.org
822 points by sp332  6 days ago   179 comments top 30
giberson 6 days ago  replies      
If I weren't too timid to risk doing so, I would do the following (read I hope someone else does this).

Process the pdf's with an OCR program to extract as much text from each document as possible. The extraction should be done page by page, so the extracted text can be referenced to a PDF page#.

Then, provide a searchable/browse-able directory of the extracted content. Each page of text has link to the original PDF page so you can easily open up the PDF to the page the text was extracted from.

I'd also make all text user editable wiki style. Combined with the inline PDF page references it would be super easy for any user to fix up translation errors from the OCR process. Tie in a karma system to the users profile so that edits can be thanked/kudos on a job well done to help with automating moderation of user edits by rating the user's current karma to decide if the edit should be accepted automatically or provided as an alternate version other users can check and rate up if they think it should replace current version.

Maybe mash in an image cropping service so diagrams can be cropped from the PDF and inserted inline with the translated text. Provide simple wiki formatting markup to allow users to format the articles.

Use ad revenue/donations to alleviate/cover hosting costs.

1, 2, 3, go.

sp332 6 days ago 3 replies      
Jason Scott of textfiles.com has the whole archive downloaded here, if you want to browse the metadata before downloading the files. http://cdmirror.textfiles.com/JSTOR_01_PhilTrans/
eykanal 6 days ago 2 replies      
For those of you who aren't familiar, there is an intitution that was set up not long ago call the Public Library of Science (PLoS):


They have free journals in numerous fields, and gradually more big-name authors (in my field, neuroscience, at least) have been publishing in it. Its worth checking out.

rb2k_ 6 days ago 1 reply      
And for people interested in how many bitcoins donations flow his way:


w1ntermute 6 days ago  replies      
Can anyone explain why all these documents are not available for free? Why does the only place you can download them charge for the privilege?
showerst 6 days ago 2 replies      
Just to be clear, these are apparently unrelated to the Aaronsw case, right?
equark 6 days ago 7 replies      
I don't fully understand the logic. Even if the underlying content is free, how are JSTOR scans public domain? If Google spends millions of dollars scanning in public domain books, I don't see how that gives Bing the right to download them all from Google unless given permission.

It also seems we all benefit from allowing companies to invest in scanning public domain works since for whatever reason nobody is doing this by hand now.

tylerneylon 6 days ago 0 replies      
[[TL;DR for this comment - Publishers are taking advantage of a prisoner's dilemma / competitive closed market to monetize the near-zero value they supply.]]

Professors don't get much money from direct publication -- in fact, many conferences charge the professors who provide the content. They get paid by grants and their schools. Professors don't want their research to reach a limited audience. The universities doesn't want this either.

The only people in the chain who want limited access are the publishers, since this is how they make money. But between researchers, universities, grants, and publishers, the publishers contribute the least value by far. They generally rely entirely on other professors to edit their journals and conference proceedings, and for all the content. They charge ridiculous rates - often thousands of dollars for a single annual journal subscription - and get away with it because the system is not prone to change. Researchers are rewarded for publishing in "the best" journals, so no one wants to take the leap to publishing in a free space where there is currently much less prestige.

That's basically why academic publishing is messed up. Because there's money to made in keeping it messed up, and money to be lost in fixing it. But the ones who generate the real value _do_ want things to be as freely available as possible. If a critical mass of top-tier researchers agreed to stop publishing in non-free journals and conferences, it would probably start a revolution in this area -- but that's a lot to ask.

It's a prisoner's dilemma, in that the "traitor" researchers who keep publishing in the old journals will be rewarded.

(This is all about academia -- I guess motivations may be different in industry-backed research.)

aidenn0 6 days ago 1 reply      
FYI it's potentially NSFW if you don't have adblock
raldi 6 days ago 1 reply      
That'll teach 'em. Maybe next time JSTOR will think twice before protecting their network from an apparent DoS attack.
flocial 6 days ago 0 replies      
This illustrates the sad state of affairs. The technology is there to distribute this equitably (using torrents). Scanning these documents is a non-trivial task and most people would only need a handful of the papers in this collection for anything but intellectual curiosity. However, the pricing and legal restrictions put in place for the distribution goes against the history of scholarship. The only reason we have lots of ancient works of prose and scholarship is because monasteries of various creeds institutionally copied these works (by hand).
aridiculous 6 days ago 2 replies      
I wonder what would happen if this happened to Westlaw, one of the 2-3 industry standards for law firms. Incredibly expensive.

The irony alone in the law profession would be tremendous. It'd be interesting to see if law firms would illegally access it: It would be obvious they were if they previously only subscribed to Westlaw, but the reality is most law firms subscribe to more than one database for emergency backup.

emilis_info 6 days ago 6 replies      
Facebook won't let me post a link to this torrent. Anyone know a way around?

URL shorteners don't help.

m0wfo 6 days ago 0 replies      
Only just realised Eircom has blocked access to TPB in Ireland at the request of the 4 major record labels. The fact that this HN post is tangential to the issue of music piracy annoys me. Another step closer to censorship.
zeratul 6 days ago 3 replies      
Medical doctors were very unhappy to pay for research papers that were funded by tax paying Americans. That's why since April 2008 all articles funded by NIH have to be freely available: http://publicaccess.nih.gov/ . Remember, it's impossible for law to work backwards.
mestudent 6 days ago 1 reply      
Is this[1] the "manifesto"?

If not can someone post it so I don't have to get around the block.

[1]: http://cdmirror.textfiles.com/JSTOR_01_PhilTrans/1st_READ.tx...

y0ghur7_xxx 6 days ago 0 replies      
Link to manifesto
for people who don't have access to the pirate bay.
ck2 6 days ago 3 replies      
So what percentage is that? Is a "page" still the 2k standard these days?

per wikipedia as of November 2, 2010, the database contained 1,289 journal titles in 20 collections representing 53 disciplines, and 303,294 individual journal issues, totaling over 38 million pages of text

danbmil99 4 days ago 0 replies      
Can someone explain who exactly is so hellbent on prosecuting Aaronsw? Who's eye did he poke? JSTOR isn't even pressing charges, so I assume it's some other party.
dbingham 6 days ago 2 replies      
Someone I know is suggesting that these documents were already free and available on the web. I don't really know, since I haven't (and don't have the bandwidth to, really) downloaded the torrent and cross referenced. Here are the links he's provided:

"Unavailable anywhere else? Here's the ones from the 1600s: http://www.bodley.ox.ac.uk​/cgi-bin/ilej/pbrowse.pl?i​tem=ti... . Here's the ones from 1832-1938: http://catalogue.bnf.fr/se​rvlet/RechercheEquation;js​ession... . They're pretty widely available, for free."

"Looks like a bunch are on archive.org, too: http://www.archive.org/sea​rch.php?query=creator%3A%2​2Royal...

Can anyone confirm that these are the same articles in the torrent?

blinkingled 6 days ago 0 replies      
So is it legal to (re-)distribute those files? Or are we going to see more prosecutions AA style involving distributors as well as downloaders?
cpeterso 6 days ago 0 replies      
When is someone going to do this for the ACM's journals?
sitkack 6 days ago 0 replies      
Please seed. If you are on a mac you can use transmissionbt.


Configure the bandwidth management to acceptable always on background levels and minimize to the dock or put on a different desktop with spaces.

Atropos 6 days ago 0 replies      
How many different paywalls are there and how many articles are trapped? I'm able to access 5 different databases + one of the biggest research libraries in my state and there are still often articles that are simply inacessible. Or even more ridiculous: Single chapters of a book sometimes cost up to $ 20 online, even if the complete book could be bought for $ 30...

In my mind an easier way to disrupt this system would be to create a p2p site for article sharing - this often takes place informally anyway.
Just a place where you could ask "Does anyone have article..." and then a friendly person would upload it to some filehoster and shares the link.

slowcpu 6 days ago 0 replies      
Not terribly interesting.
Although it is one of the oldest ( if not the oldest ) journals around, it is simply not widely read or terribly important.
In addition, from the journal's web site.
"All issues back to 2001 are free to access two years after publication."

Now, a collection of all of Nature's issues would have been fascinating.

apas 6 days ago 0 replies      
That's why I love the Pirate Bay and its community.

Free art, technology and culture.
Yep, this is the internet.

nextparadigms 6 days ago 0 replies      
This looks like another case of the "Streisand effect".
nl 6 days ago 0 replies      
That is one gutsy move by Greg Maxwell.
username3 6 days ago 1 reply      
What's so good about these articles?
ivankirigin 6 days ago 2 replies      
Scribd should index and host these. I doubt that would greatly add to their current huge scale. They could make a dedicated site for it. They could also probably get the help of the FOSS community to help make the search faster.
Violated: A traveler's lost faith, a difficult lesson learned ejroundtheworld.blogspot.com
822 points by foxit  19 hours ago   342 comments top 79
edw519 14 hours ago  replies      
I get angry when I realize I will never again be who I've always been before, someone who lived strong and free by the creed that people are essentially good, that if you think optimistically, trust others.

Please don't let them steal this too.

I'm really sorry for your bad experience, but remember:

  - You can still live strong and free.
- People are still essentially good.
- You can still think optimistically.
- You can still trust others.

It's true, you will never be who you've always been. But you can be almost the same person, still optimistic and trusting, just a little less naive. You many not realize it now, but the time will come when you may actually appreciate this as a learning experience.

There are bad people out there and some of them will want to hurt you. You don't have to sacrifice who you really are because of them. You just have to live a little bit differently.

Don't let them take away you really are. Believe it or not, that would be much worse than what they've already done.

Lots of well wishes for your quick recovery.

brianchesky 17 hours ago  replies      
Hey everyone - we were shocked when we heard about this unsettling event. We have been working closely with the authorities, and we want to reassure our community that, with the help of our security infrastructure, we were able to assist the police in their investigation, and we understand from authorities that a suspect is now in custody.

We've created a marketplace built on trust, transparency and authenticity within our community, and we hold the safety of our community members as our highest priority. We will continue to work with our users to stamp out those who would put that community at risk in any way. The vast majority of our community members genuinely respect and protect each other, but we urge users to be careful and discerning with each other and to hold others accountable through reviews, flagging and our customer service channel. Our hearts go out to our host and we will continue to work with her and with the authorities to make this right.

varunsrin 18 hours ago  replies      
I always found AirBnB's model based on a surprising amount of trust - I for one would never be comfortable just handing over they keys to my place to a total stranger.

Even if they didn't ransack my place completely, as happened to the unfortunate author - I would be concerned about unintentional damage to my property that I might not discover till too late. Renting out something as private as my primary place of residence just seems like a generally bad idea, especially when I am not around to constantly check in on it. Even if I got to meet them, and they seemed like nice people whats to stop them from leaving without paying if they accidentally broke my TV ?

As the service expands, and becomes more craigslist-y (in terms of audience) I can only see problems like this getting worse, and apart from implementing some kind of guest / host rating system (like ecommerce portals do with sellers) I see no clear solution to the problem.

vladd 18 hours ago 2 replies      
AirBnB can be used without issues if you own a property and you're willing to operate it like a hotel: you're present on the premises to check in the guests, you have a room or a reception-like place from where you can monitor the situation, and you're able to inspect the place when they leave.

Operating a property remotely via AirBnB implies all sorts of risks, which makes me think that it might be an unsustainable model, because a black swan event might ruin the property to such extent that it offsets the income made in all the other cases.

AirBnB handles property promotion and property booking on the Internet -- that's fine -- but when it advertised itself it included in the message ways to do property administration (as in rent-your-home-while-away). While this is not connected intricately with their core business, it is the model that some owners assumed by default, without realizing the risks involved or the fact that you are still exposed to one-in-one-hundred unpleasant events.

If they manage to warn about this upfront similar to the way Craiglist does, without losing their brand and their community support, then owners will become aware of those issues and take the necessary protection (by i.e. requesting guarantees/deposits/passports or by using their social network to validate the guests). If they don't, I'm afraid a couple of bad PR articles will be enough to destroy their reputation.

P.S.: I haven't heard of hotels managed remotely; there are some hotels where you check in automatically and you get the keys via some sort of robot system but in the morning there is someone handling the checkout, the cleaning etc. In addition they have your credit card on file, your passport, probably your cam photo when you picked up the keys and the most you can destroy is a hotel room (still a great deal of value but somehow limited and the hotel probably has insurance for it). But automation didn't pick up at scale in the hotel industry. In the current state, it thrives partially because the reception provides the safety-checks and balances needed to prevent and offset these black swan events. I'm not sure the remote administration model is scalable or even manage-able due to this.

gojomo 17 hours ago 4 replies      
The guests sound like drug addicts. (Maybe meth? Tweakers do bizarre things like move furniture at odd hours or burn fires without opening the flue.)

I've been a happy AirBnb guest on a few occasions; the one time I had someone's whole usual studio apartment I found it a bit strange how much of their life was left on display for me " like the host's prescriptions still in the fridge! " but of course respected their privacy.

Each time I've been a guest, we've seen photos of each other on the site, and the keys were handed off in person. While I didn't expect anyone to stop by and check on me during my stays, I always had the impression the host or host's friends were nearby.

A guest with criminal intent would try to pick a place for a longer stay, in a more anonymous building, with a host known to be out-of-town. But then again, that's also what someone seeking to burglarize any vacation-emptied residence would do. More or less this same sort of crime could happen without AirBnb, or perhaps be enabled by nothing more than tracking public tweets/'check-ins' to predict unit vacancy.

(Another development I eventually expect in this progression of tech-mediated sharing: a bad-faith host who surveils their guests.)

econgeeker 13 hours ago 1 reply      
AirBnB makes us travelers vulnerable to being scammed as well. In the most recent rental, it really was a roll of the dice to see if we were going to have an apartment or not (and of course, by the time we could have contacted AirBnB to say we'd been scammed, the scammer would already have our money, due to the way AirBnB works, and their lack of any way to contact them.)

I travel full time. I'm a nomad. I would rent thru AirBnB for 365 nights a year if they provided the service that they originally set out to provide. I think they changed their focus, and rather than building an organic community of people renting their places to each other, they are pursuing the expensive travel market. This makes sense given the profits are higher and it is easier to get vacation rentals in the system than individuals. But they're not the ebay of travel anymore, they've become a HomeAway clone.

They also really need to change their policies on communication- they inhibit our ability to talk to the owners before renting, and this is worsened given that many owners may not speak english. Letting us call them or email them is not going to want us to cut AirBnB out of the deal, because the primary value AirBnB provides is the fraud protection of letting us pay by credit card.

There's no reason for any company of this size not to have a 24/hour hotline. It may be midnight in california, but it is 5pm somewhere. You have listings around the world.

AirBnB's priorities seem to have shifted away from building an organic "ebay of travel" with regular people to maximum growth in revenue, by going after the high end travel market, with a distinct lack of customer service. This may not be intentional, but I'm part of the market-- a heavy use part of the market- and that's how it is looking to me.

So, 24 hour hotline, policies for dealing with things that go wrong, to help customers, and letting the people use the site communicate are the changes I'd make. I bet you'll find that more communications means more confidence and more nights rented.

Luyt 18 hours ago 1 reply      
How is this:

"... emphasize that the customer service team at airbnb.com has been wonderful..."

reconcilable with this:

"...My next call was to airbnb.com - I tried their "urgent" line, their email address, their general customer support line. I heard nothing - no response whatsoever - until the following day, 14 sleepless hours later, and only after a desperate call to an airbnb.com freelancer I happen to know helped my case get some attention..."

Does that mean you'd have to know someone who works at AirBnB before you can get customer service? I've heard similar stories about Google, too.

rkalla 8 hours ago 3 replies      
Why was the title of this post changed? It used to have the name "airbnb" in it earlier this morning, around 400 votes.
lwhi 15 hours ago 1 reply      
I remember a while back, someone on HN commented that they preferred the AirBnB model to CouchSurfing; because they felt that they were under no obligation to spend time with their host, or try to repay their hospitality with a meal or gift.

CouchSurfing relies upon (and in turn reinforces) a culture of good-will.

Because AirBnB converts the CouchSurfing model into a simple cash transaction - I think a lot of the positive norms that are inherent to CouchSurfing are lost.

sequoia 12 hours ago 0 replies      
Moral of the story:
By using a service like AirBnB to make some cash, you are Rolling the fucking dice. It's naïve to think otherwise, and if you're not comfortable with that kind of risk, don't do it. It seems some people see the service as "easy money" and don't consider outcomes like this.

I think it's best compared to hitchhiking:
Is it cheap? Hell yes.
Is it consistant/reliable? no.
Is it as safe as a bus/plane? usually yes, sometimes no in a big way.

I travelled in my youth (5 years ago :p) around several states via thumb. It was a calculated risk I was taking, and both I and other hitchhikers I knew were aware of this risk and took steps to mitigate it (carrying mace, turning down rides" one friend would take a photo of the plates and text them to a friend each ride, informing the driver that he/she was not anonymous).

AirBnB is like this: you save/make some money, but rather than a Hotel (or bus company) being on the hook for a bad outcome, YOU are on the hook. If you're not prepared for that, don't do it. It's not "easy money."

DrStalker 16 hours ago 1 reply      
Does AirBnB offer any help with insurance? I know my home & contents insurance wouldn't cover any of this: I'd need to get (expensive) commerical insurance or some sort, and I'm guessing most AirBnB hosts don't have that.

The idea of renting out my place with no recourse to insurance if it is destroyed is far too insane to contemplate for me.

g123g 17 hours ago 1 reply      
With internet almost run over by all kinds of scam artists, spammers, pedos etc. is there any surprise that such a thing can happen? You have crackers trying their level best to install keyloggers and other tools to read the passwords to your accounts. And in this environment if you hand over the key of your apartment to some complete stranger, I think the writer should also take some blame for his naivety. Just because airbnb is current flavor of the month it does not mean you throw your basic common sense out the door.

Even if you are present in an apartment yourself, it is still too risky to allow a complete stranger to sleep in the room next to you. How much verification can be done by you or airbnb? The Norwegian shooter had no criminal history that could have been caught by any verification. So how can you be comfortable with allowing a stranger into your home with no verification done at all from your side?

I think there should be a service which will allow you to rent the room only to your friends or to friends of friends but no further than that. This friend list can be from facebook, linkedin or Google+. This will reduce the chances of getting a rental but give peace of mind that you are not letting some hardened criminal into your home.

rdl 18 hours ago 2 replies      
I am non-representatively paranoid, and have always been afraid of this kind of thing when having guests not personally known to me, visitors to "open house" office events, etc. I think there is little actual risk with almost anyone as a guest (most people ARE good, or at least non-malicious, or at least lazy), but this is why the AirBnB reputation system is so key to their value (and why they'll have a strong network effect).

Maybe the effect of this will be to make people want personal connections (via fb graph or whatever) to their AirBnB guests, or at least requiring minimum numbers of positive reviews from known sources (to prevent the sockpuppet/shill issue).

I wonder if your renter's or homeowners insurance might cover this kind of thing. If it doesn't generally, it'd be awesome if AirBnB could work with a third party insurer (per jurisdiction) to offer optional insurance to hosts (and guests) against this kind of thing.

joshfraser 18 hours ago 2 replies      
This is not the first story like this I have heard about AirBnB. They have just done a good job keeping them hush hush and talking people out of going to the cops. Obviously stories like this are horrible for their reputation and AirBnB have a big incentive to try and take care of issues on their own.
speckledjim 18 hours ago 3 replies      
Always bound to happen. Up next, the host who fits spycams in his shower and posts pics of his naked visitors to porn sites.
jakarta 15 hours ago 0 replies      
To me, this underscores one of the key risks to having an AirBnB room for rent.

I think if you are going to do it, you really have to be careful.

1. You should probably be someone that works from home / is home often. At least then you can monitor your place more often. You wont be seeing inside the room, but you could at least hear if anything insane is going on in it.

2. You should not have much by way of valuables around your place, nothing easy to steal. The first place I rented on AirBnB was like this. There was no TV/dvd player/ps3, the host had a laptop which he took with him. It consisted mostly of cheap Ikea-ish furniture. This works in my mind because it mitigates what can/can't be stolen.

innes 8 hours ago 1 reply      
Hmmm, somebody changed the title of this HN post from "AirBnB: Crimes committed against a host"...
danenania 18 hours ago 1 reply      
What happened to this person is awful and it´s understandable that she/he is very emotional at this point, but I don´t think the lesson is you can´t ever trust people, or that the AirBnB model is flawed. It´s more like: hope for the best, plan for the worst. There is always going to be some black swan risk even if AirBnB does do more vetting. There´s no reason for example to leave valuables anywhere in the residence while strangers are there. You can´t be 100% protected unless you´re willing to get insurance, which probably doesn´t make sense for the occasional provider, but you can at least remove the low hanging fruit risk-wise. Perhaps AirBnB should take a more active role in educating its providers on basic precautions.
watty 5 hours ago 0 replies      
So anything remotely related to YC companies that shed good light are immediately frontpaged but something potentially dangerous that is bad PR gets title changed?
yalogin 11 hours ago 0 replies      
The most important thing to note is this has happened even before it hit critical mass, hell its in its infancy still.
This is the reason why Airbnb never made sense to me as a business. The author is lucky there was no bodily harm done to him. It's too much of a risk to rent out your personal property to total strangers. Now they forever know where you live and more so know the complete layout of your house and what you have in it and your schedule. At the end of the day it cannot be more than bedandbreakfast.com used as a listing sits for businesses. That is why the 1billion valuation does not make sense either.
caf 13 hours ago 0 replies      
A reminder that there's more to scaling out to millions of users than ensuring your hardware is up to the task.
bluesmoon 18 hours ago 0 replies      
I haven't use AirBnB before, but I do use CouchSurfing a lot. CouchSurfing's system of verification, vouching and references makes a big difference to how much you feel you can trust someone who asks to use your home. I do still sometimes accept guests with no references, particularly if it's a last minute, but I check their IDs first, and only give them limited access to my home.
VladRussian 17 hours ago 0 replies      
whats wrong with renting through Craigslist (except obvious problem of spam from companies like AirBnB) ? Both parties may request and provide any documents/verifications until their mutual full satisfaction. We had no problem renting space in Europe from US for example though some amount of communication and search was involved - we didn't like some people, some people didn't like us as we needed full paperwork from them for visas, etc... i wonder how such fine tuning of mutual requirements would be possible through "blind renting" service like AirBnB.
jaredmck 8 hours ago 0 replies      
Why was the title of this submission changed? Was it because the old title mentioned AirBnB?
cageface 18 hours ago 1 reply      
It's yet another tragedy of the commons. As AirBNB becomes more popular I expect this is going to happen more often. Unfortunately I think this is only going to have to happen a few more times before people start to seriously question the wisdom of inviting a relative stranger into their homes.
grannyg00se 5 hours ago 0 replies      
"They ... found the passport, cash, credit card and grandmother's jewelry I had hidden inside. They found my birth certificate and social security card, which I believe they photocopied "

Why would you leave your birth certificate and social security card behind when you have strangers occupying your home?

Passports, ids, hard drives, diamonds .... these are all small but very important items that fit perfectly into a safety deposit box.

ffffruit 17 hours ago 1 reply      
Is there anything stopping the renter from taking extra precautions? Like for example photocopy the tenants passport?

I am finding it hard to believe that somebody would drop off the keys to his own apartment to a total stranger, regardless of any guarantees the site does, without even wanting to briefly meet them.

matdwyer 11 hours ago 1 reply      
I just was quoted in a national article here in Canada (the Globe & Mail) that talked about using AirBNB... I've passed this story along to the author who is going to see about a followup.

This wont stop me from using AirBNB as a guest, but I was never comfortable with renting my own home anyway.

edit - if AirBNB kept a drivers license scan on file to confirm the credit card was the users, that would be helpful. I know that is difficult with privacy laws, etc, but when I check into a hotel I always have to show my ID to make sure it has my name on it....

varunsrin 6 hours ago 0 replies      
Can someone please explain why the post name was changed? If it was to 'protect' AirBnB I find that in poor taste - this is a legitimate problem that occurred with the service, though it is likely not a specific problem. if the OP (foxit) requested or made this change, let us know.
prawn 17 hours ago 2 replies      
Looks like a couple of reporters have already hit the comments area looking for more info for a story. It goes far, far beyond a basic theft or incident of vandalism and could easily blow up internationally and do a great deal of damage to the AirBnB brand.

I don't know the blogger in any way at all, but have to admit that my first thought was to wonder if this might've been arranged by a competing industry or service at all. Sounds a bit over the top to be a pre-conceived plan though. Doubt various hotel associations would be desperately unhappy to see this story though, you have to admit.

Between Google and AirBnB, I'm sure the police could have IP addresses of the perpetrator(s) and track them down unless they were particularly smart (and if they are particularly smart, they'd be picking bigger targets...).

nhangen 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Why would you ever rent your place, important valuables inside the property, without being home?

I can understand leaving the place empty of valuables and renting it remotely, but to rent your primary residence while you are away is incredibly foolish. I just don't get it.

rdl 17 hours ago 1 reply      
I'm curious what the specific crime is if you're in a place like NYC or SF (where <30 day rentals are illegal for zoning reasons), you legally permit someone entry to your space, and he just trashes (vs. stealing) stuff. It should be a crime, but what is it? Not theft, not trespass.

"Criminal damage to property", or vandalism, probably counts, but that's really up to the jurisdiction on what it includes.

I wish this guy would try this in Singapore; 3 years in prison and/or caning.

morganwarstler 18 hours ago 1 reply      
Airbnb should willingly do MORE to verify users than CarFax, Paypal, Facebook, etc.

Screw your bizmodel.

Run a credit and criminal background check - and charge 4%.

jv22222 16 hours ago 2 replies      
This could resolved if airbnb insisted on a refundable deposit of $500-$1000 per visit.
jarek 10 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm shocked by some things I've read in this article. I don't want to blame the victim, but the author has rented out their home for a full week and left identity and financial documents behind a plywood or MDF door. Data, passport, birth certificate, and cash. Trusting people is nice, but surely there's a limit at which it becomes insane. I get a little nervous when I leave my documents in my (empty) apartment over a long weekend; I'm flabbergasted as to why the author seemingly wasn't bothered until after the crime.
gord 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Heartbreaking to read this.

Hang in there.

It may help to think that
a) these people are broken in some profound way, possibly from some early abuse
b) this may not be directed at you personally, you did not deserve this, and this was not your fault

I do think the AirBnB business model needs to take into account some kind of insurance cover, or set aside some percentage of funds to apply to help in the edge cases like this - so that some of the practicalities are taken care of [ such as cleaning the apartment, temporary accommodation ] giving the victim some breathing space to heal from this.

pabloiv 6 hours ago 0 replies      
I really hope this incident doesn't break her spirit. As someone who's been shot at, beat up, robbed, held up, and still trusts people: What doesn't kill you makes you stronger.

That said, I also rent out my place through AirBnB. (http://www.airbnb.com/rooms/106355) I interview everyone who stays with me through Skype before confirming any reservation. AirBnB, has a very classy membership, and we've had great experiences with all our guests, but due diligence is still a must. Communicating with your potential guests is essential, as is reading between the lines. You should also make an effort to look at their face at least once before booking. Skype is perfect for this and AirBnB doesn't block it.

justin_vanw 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Reading this article, my spidey sense was tingling the entire time. For whatever reason, I instinctively do not believe that the story this person is telling is the truth.
prayag 3 hours ago 0 replies      
AirBnb is not legally liable. They are however morally liable. Every company does legal. It's the moral compass that differentiates a company and their founders.
prof 18 hours ago 2 replies      
I cannot believe he did not meet them in person first. And left valuable things behind.

edit: or she..

njharman 6 hours ago 0 replies      
Yeah, guess people are different. I would NEVER invite strangers to be in my house alone. Esp not with my stuff still there. I can't comprehend why anyone would. Can't understand how airbnb is popular service. But, it is. Like I said people are different...
buster 16 hours ago 0 replies      
Wow.. that's terrible! I really enjoyed all my couchsurfing and airbnb experiences so far, they resulted in the best travels i ever had.. it's sad to see such a thing happen, and i hope the criminaly will be catched and punished.

Still, i am looking forward for my next airbnb trip, it's a great way to travel!

zeteo 11 hours ago 0 replies      
Welcome to the real world, such things are bound to happen. The main question is: to what degree does AirBnB know the identity of the perpetrator? Let alone helping the police catch them; but is AirBnB even able to prevent this person from making a new account and repeating the deed?
hluska 17 hours ago 1 reply      
There is a big chicken or egg problem right at the core Of this sad case. On one hand, why would anyone trust someone they have only had limited conversations with to stay in their home...alone? On the other hand, if Airbnb allows renters to do background checks before the agreement is finalized, how do they avoid private sales?

I can't resolve this, so I wouldn't dream of renting my place out unless I was going to be there. And even then, I'd sleep with one eye open!

bignoggins 7 hours ago 0 replies      
My wife and I been traveling around the world staying at airbnb's for the last 4 months (www.shenventure.com is our travel blog). During our stay in Hong Kong, our host required a photocopy of our passport or driver's license. I think this was a clever deterrent on his part.
inmygarage 11 hours ago 3 replies      
I wouldn't be surprised if this was organized and executed by an AirBnB competitor.

It is just too malicious and meticulously done to constitute a random crime (do I watch too many crime shows? maybe.) AirBnB just closed a gigantic $100m round and they are doing phenomenally well, and here comes someone who makes "everyone's worst fears" about lending out their apartment to a stranger come true.

blinkingled 11 hours ago 0 replies      
I so wish he had a camera at least on the entrance of the apartment. Besides I hope that since the burglar used Internet for communication the IP address is recorded with AirBNB or Google and that will help track him/her down.

Horrible story to be sure. Trust no one goes too far but trust and verify should be the norm. I for one would have thought twice before giving out house keys to a person who misspelled his/her own last name. I guess as he seems to indicate AirBNB model/markting fooled him into 100% trust.

hobbsmeter2 6 hours ago 0 replies      
Why isn't the title the original one explicitly mentioning AirBnb? Bad PR for YC's portfolio company?
deathflute 13 hours ago 0 replies      
I have always been skeptical about such services. It is like collecting pennies in front of a steamroller. Sooner or later, a tail event like this is bound to happen. A distribution of hosting experiences has to be fat-tailed. It is okay to deal with that risk when even the worst case scenario is acceptable. But, for your own home how can it be acceptable?
Uchikoma 14 hours ago 1 reply      
Woman gives apartment keys to complete stranger. Gets robbed.

279 points and 124 comments on HN.

Omnipresent 15 hours ago 1 reply      
victim is correct, this was bound to happen to someone and as the service goes popularity, there will be more victims in the future. AirBnB should have other security measures in place like providing driver license #, ssn, etc. so that identity of the person renting the place is assured. With all the recent funding leading to great PR, bad elements will start coming in. Site is no longer bound to the nice educated customer base.
fakeer 16 hours ago 0 replies      
Trust me, be it AirBnB or FairBnB, just never hand over your home keys to a stranger - a stranger to "you". Make it a thumb rule.

PS. sad to hear the loss and trauma BTW.

jmm 11 hours ago 0 replies      
Call me insensitive, but I think the drama here is overblown. Renting out your room to strangers comes with risks. Theft is an obvious one. Could have been a one or two paragraph post, but maybe this is part of the catharsis in getting over a robbery.

And now call me a cynic, but I kind of have the feeling that the the public drama of this complaint is a way of getting the sweetest customer service response ever from AirBnB. Like, new gear, near apartment, moving costs, all of it. Almost like a cooked up insurance claim... if it's not that, AirBnB will probably experience that kind of scam at some point.

rglover 12 hours ago 0 replies      
This is one of those things that made me weary about the home rental business (not necessarily just AirBnB). While I do feel the idea is great, I'm not sure I'd be as composed as this person; especially coming back to a destroyed and violated home. I guess there's no way around it, but this should definitely add an extra layer of thought before posting your home on AirBnB or any other service. Scary stuff.
Syama 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Personally I think the poster is stupid as f@#&, leaving her apt to complete strangers and then blaming her loss on someone else. What did she expect? B&B's usually have someone onsite to prevent things like this from happening. The person to blame here is the poster and of course the tweakers, not Airbnb.
int3rnaut 10 hours ago 0 replies      
I wrote a comment 2 days ago about some of the psychological barriers of this model that AirBnB would have to overcome--and I never even considered the traveler to be the one who's sketchy/troublesome.


On that note though, it'll be really interesting to see how AirBnB tries to counter this problem--there's a reason why people are so secluded and things are so private and fenced.

jasonshen 18 hours ago 0 replies      
This sort of thing is bound to happen when you have helped over 1 million stays between two people who are usually strangers. I think what's more impressive is how long it took for something this big and this public to happen. Human beings act in strange ways and you take a risk anytime you interact with one. I feel awful that this happened to this woman but I don't think it means Airbnb has a flawed business model or needs to dramatically change the way they sign up users.
peterwwillis 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Does AirBnB have owner's/hoster's testimonials like CouchSurfing? It really goes a long way to show someone is trustworthy if they've stayed at 100 people's homes and everyone said nice things about them.
shareme 17 hours ago 0 replies      
It sounds like AirBnB need to educate first-time users more..

It obviously is not for those people who have property that cannot remove personal items from said property before doing a earn-my-trust AirBnB person trial run..

eric-hu 16 hours ago 1 reply      
Is no one else struck by the peculiar behavior of the tenants?

Scattering bleach powder across the apartment and taking the time to hang up strange photos seems a bit too erratic to me.

I wonder if the renter has serious mental issues or if this was part of some intelligent plan (i.e. hired by couchsurfing).

This is PURE speculation, don't cite this post as anything else.

dools 17 hours ago 0 replies      
"I certainly cannot and do not blame the agency for what has occurred. If anything, I blame myself"

Yeah no shit. You let strangers stay in your house for a week and all your valuables were still in the apartment?

I guess Airbnb could have a "safety" section but this type of warning would be similar to the "Caution! Hot!" they're forced to put on coffee cup lids now.

jackpirate 18 hours ago 1 reply      
How could you, in principle, even tell that it was the bnb'ers who did it? What's to say that they didn't accidentally leave the door unlocked when they left, and someone else broke in?
Creyels 17 hours ago 0 replies      
I like the (security) services offered by Onefinestay http://www.onefinestay.com/hosts

Everyday someone checks your home and cleans it.

Additionaly they actually turn your home into a more hotel-like experience - so guests are provided with towels etc. At least for higher priced accomodations a good choice.

timsally 18 hours ago 1 reply      
After someone has copies of your passport, birth certificate, social security card, etc, what do you even do? Isn't your identity compromised forever?
hnsmurf 10 hours ago 1 reply      
Does homeowner's/renter's insurance cover the property damage from renting out your place?
mrinterweb 18 hours ago 1 reply      
It is unfortunate that stories like that could really harm AirBnB's reputation. I am sure that there are plenty of vacation rental stories of people trashing and burglarizing properties, but the difference is that this was not a vacation rental. I hope that thieves do not make a trend of preying on AirBnB hosts to gain access to their private residences.
jackwagon 18 hours ago 1 reply      
"They found my coupons for Bed Bath & Beyond and used the discount, along with my Mastercard, to shop online."

Are you kidding me? Seriously.

danberger 13 hours ago 1 reply      
Just out of curiosity, why didn't the victim post any pictures of the damage?
justhw 18 hours ago 2 replies      
She trusted them and left for the weekend?
badclient 18 hours ago 0 replies      
With a name like Dj Paterson I'm not sure you could even sign up on google+ or fb.
lurker19 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Good explanation of why hotel rooms cost more than AirBnB rooms.
veyron 11 hours ago 0 replies      
Of all of the items discussed, the birth certificate, social security and passport are the most important (imho). Supposing I kept them in a bank safety deposit box, what would a thief need to get access to that box?
cookiecaper 18 hours ago 3 replies      
I hate that the author broke out the short skirt rape thing. I don't think someone that leaves their house to strangers while they go out of town for a week is quite as innocent as a rape victim that was targeted for lack of modesty.
chris1024 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Is this real? It sounds like a fictional story.It's awfully flowery prose for someone who was just victimized and "laying in fetal position in her stairwell." Nowhere does it say this isn't fiction. Awful lot of buzz and no further response from the author?

The journalist who commented on the blog who checked with SFPD was unable to find the case.

So -- real or fiction? Someone call in SNOPES!

swah 11 hours ago 0 replies      
There is no way those guys lived there for a week and left no fingerprints.
katieben 10 hours ago 0 replies      
It would be interesting to see AirBnB's response to this.
imaverickk2 17 hours ago 0 replies      
It begs the question, what would be a good verification system for online identities so that sites like AirBnB can leverage?
Also, will your property insurance cover this or would this be considered albeit rightly to some extent a carelessness on your part. Come to think of it, like any other insurance industry, providing insurance (dedicated?) for such people for an additional X% wouldn't be a bad start - though it might need more volume for it to be profitable.
asciilifeform 13 hours ago 1 reply      
Cui bono?


It seems likely that this "mysterious" crime was paid for by an organization serving the interests of hotels.

extension 15 hours ago 1 reply      
I wonder if the hotel chains would hire goons to do this.
Steve Yegge quits Google in the middle of his speech [OSCON Data 2011] youtube.com
507 points by kodisha  13 hours ago   122 comments top 33
mad44 9 hours ago 2 replies      
while listening to the talk, I took notes. (Not exact notes, I probably reworded several things, hopefully not twisting the meaning too much.) Here they are, if you don't have time to watch the talk.

Google, "where I work right now", they are doing great work to attempt to change the work. At least more than other companies.

I work on compilers. I like to work on big data, learn about data mining. Because even for compilers work I need to do large data analysis, and face
tremendous scaling problems.

Hollywood blockbusters summer 2011: why is this slide here? These summer movies are all crap, because corporates are greedy, they are incremental, not trying to shoot for real quality, real game changers. They chase money.

Except for "auteurs": people making money while keeping principle. E.g, Pixar. They show their passion, make every one look bad, but make money as well. Apple is also a great example.

Social networks; this is what I work on at Google :-( (lolcatz pictures on the slide). Is this principled? This is fun, and making money. But not principled? Is there anyone in this crowd not working on social networks? This is a hype. Why is everyone working on this? This is money chasing.

You are interested in social networks but when you are 60 you will be interested in your health. But then it is too late. You will wish we had solved these fundamental health problems when you are 60. These are hard problems that require math statistics and big data.

Human genome project: This will be an inflection point in human history. It is also a data-mining project. Reverse engineer the source code (genome) with respect to how treatments work/are-effective. The people who can solve it, data mining people, are working on crap problems, lolcatz social networks :-(

We need to change this culture. In this new culture: everyone is a mathematician. But how do we learn math and science? challeng to O'reilly publish books on math for developers. But, they already do. They have severeal stat and bioinformatics books. These books aren't selling. :-( They are trying to change the world, but we are not helping. Developer popular topics are javascript ipad, php, etc. :-(

Let's affect a culture change.
short-term: infrastructure and scaling
medium-term: math, data mining, bioinformatics
long-term: important problems

I had a midlife crisis instantly after rehearshing this speech once. I am not following my own advice. I had started work on math every evening. And I am officially quitting that social network job at Google. (Is he also quitting Google?)

This way I will be ready when we are in a position to face those important problems in five years.

yanw 5 hours ago 1 reply      
Bad hive-mind; Hacker News fires Steve Yegge: http://steve-yegge.blogspot.com/2011/07/hacker-news-fires-st...
rkalla 9 hours ago 0 replies      
That talk had a really inspiring energy to it.

When it started I thought Yegge sounded nervous and jittery and seemed a little intense, like he had a chip on his shoulder and I thought "Oh boy, I hope he doesn't do a melt-down".

Then as the talk progressed, I realized he was just excited/nervous and that's how he talks.

He gradually hit his stride and the message that his talk was meant to convey slowly started to take shape for me... and it's a hell of a positive message.

It is a call-to-arms to give a damn and use our powers for the advancement of everyone. To stop spending out free time working on icanhascheezeburger SMS alert apps and pickup a book on mathematics, bioinfomatics, data mining and other hard topics and start learning.

It is a call to arms to send yourself back to school (in a sense) that don't be afraid to start learning about other topics that have always seemed interesting to you but maybe you figured were outside of your area of effect, e.g. "I'm a server guy, I'll never do anything interesting in 3D visualization!"

It is also a call to arms to make money and effect change with principle; like a Google or an Amazon.

You don't need to scrape every last piece of skin off of your customers hide in order to post big quarterly profits to be successful. You can develop positive relationships with your customers, employees and the world around you and STILL make the money necessary to continue growing an innovating.

The "quitting" part of the talk is unimportant, it was just his way of illuminating his point. The value is in his message.

tom_b 10 hours ago 6 replies      
So I'm not really an ask me anything type guy, but I work on a bioinformatics team at an academic cancer research center. We have genomic sequencers and a software stack running 24/7/365 plus your normal collection of IT and small dev projects here.

If you have questions about what it's like to be a hacker in this type of environment, post them here and I'll share what my experience is like.

BTW, I completely wish I knew more stats and bioinformatics, so I probably should purchase the Yegge book collection myself . . .

yanw 10 hours ago 0 replies      
He only quit the 'cat picture' project he is still on the GOOG's payroll.

It's an inspiring notion if you're into that sort of thing, a bit unfair to his would be colleagues though.

wccrawford 10 hours ago 4 replies      
Am I the only one that fails to be inspired by this? I think I'm not inspired because it's something I've already thought about. We've always had the option to go make money, or go try to fix the world... And whatever that brings us.

I am very clear on my chances of making big changes to the world: Almost nil. Instead, I decided long ago that I'd do my best to make money and improve my own life.

I'm not saying I don't do little things to help the environment, but there's no chance that I'm going to be on the team that cures cancer. There are too many people out there that are both smarter than me and more learned in the topics needed. The best I could do would be to get in their way.

david927 12 hours ago 4 replies      
Please change the title to:

Stevey gives up the being part of the chase for the superfluous (in money), and calls for us to do something about the necessary

No one needs a million dollars. No one. Why are we chasing it and dying of heart disease -- heart disease we can cure if we start chasing that instead?

Our priorities are absolutely messed up and it's time we start realigning them. This isn't a speech; this isn't a funny resignation. This is a clarion call to join in. We can do so much better. We can achieve something valuable, if we start to realize where true value lies.

Steve's in. I'm in. Who else around here is in?

abijlani 10 hours ago 2 replies      
Let's stop focusing on the fact that he quit. And focus on WHY he quit. I'm sure we all can relate with what he's saying at some level. He's talking about tackling hard problems and not just low hanging fruit that might (emphasis on might) make a buck. And most of all he's leading by example. I haven't seen this much bravado from anyone in our industry in a long time.
dstein 12 hours ago 0 replies      
More importantly he has revealed that Google will be adding cat picture features to Google Plus. Facebook is in trouble.
orangecat 9 hours ago 1 reply      
I'll watch this tonight, from the summaries I generally agree with him. I feel the same way about brilliant math and physics people doing HFT for Goldman Sachs. But I'd also point out that from a comparative advantage perspective, it may be optimal to earn lots of money in a "useless" area and then donate where it makes a difference. If you can earn $500k/year at a hedge fund and give half of that to SENS, that's probably better than quitting your job to learn molecular biology from scratch.
kbutler 10 hours ago 1 reply      
tl;dr Work on data mining and bioionformatics to change the world, rather than just seeking money by doing trivial things.

Plus publicity stunt of quitting so you'll listen [at 14:15, sounded like quitting a cat-photo-sharing project, rather than quitting Google].

Plus implication that bio is the only domain that is world-changing.

angrycoder 9 hours ago 1 reply      
As someone who was originally a science major, then switched to comp sci, I always get a romantic tingle when I hear about bioinformatics. Most of the science I've learned is gone by now, but I am sure it still there somewhere.

What are the good starting points for learning about bioinformatics?

boredandroid 10 hours ago 0 replies      
He didn't quit Google. He just quit the project he was working on at Google. I talked to him the day before and am quite sure that is what he meant.
ZackOfAllTrades 10 hours ago 1 reply      
Normally I lurk and don't vote. But this is worth people's time to watch.
wmat 12 hours ago 2 replies      
Watch the whole talk. It's fantastic. And as a 40 year old, I completely concur.

But what to do about it? Hmmmm.....time to go shopping for books, or search for online courses.

jganetsk 6 hours ago 0 replies      
I have just talked to Steve. I have confirmed that he has not quit Google.
bartonfink 12 hours ago 2 replies      
I'm not sure I agree with his premise that, in order to change the world you must work on a problem with "big data." I can't see how the energy crisis is fundamentally data-driven, for example, and it's hard to say that you couldn't change the world by working on that.

Regardless, best of luck to him wherever he winds up (within Google or elsewhere)! And I hope he keeps writing!

shareme 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Folks he has not quit Google..post Title is incorrect
kenjackson 7 hours ago 0 replies      
You want to change the world for the better? Be respectful of others you interact with on a day to day basis as a start. Steve should have given his boss heads up on this.
spinchange 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Watch it for the talk, not the sensationalism. It's a good talk.
p_h 7 hours ago 3 replies      
I've had multiple math professors tell me to study as much math as I can while I'm young, because once you're over 30 it's a lot harder to learn math. I'm in my 20's so I'm not sure if this is true.

It also seems to me that the math you would learn in an O'Reilly book isn't in depth enough to contribute to research.

conorh 13 hours ago 2 replies      
At around 14:10 in the speech - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vKmQW_Nkfk8&feature=playe...

Also I'm not sure if he quit Google, or if he just quit the project he was working on.

btrask 8 hours ago 0 replies      
This past week, I decided to start working on a project to build a new type of speech synthesizer. Did I know anything about acoustics or linguistics? No, but I've been reading what I can find about them since then.

I used to have a philosophy of intentionally choosing easy, "overlooked" problems. I figured I wasn't that smart, so I should just stick to the simple stuff. The software I built was good and useful, but a lot of it is already becoming obsolete. I want to make software that will last 50 years, not just 5.

This talk came at a great time for me, and it's strengthened my resolve. I'm going to keep learning about speech synthesis and acoustics (which means a lot of math and physics that I slept through in school), and hopefully I can push the field forward a little bit.

T_S_ 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Can anybody see the books on his dining room table (at 13:49)? I think I spotted Concrete Mathematics at the bottom, Duda and Hart, and Hastie, Tibshirani and Friedman. Good places to start.

What would your list be for Steve?

thornad 6 hours ago 0 replies      
Everyone should work on the problems that are close to their heart, that they have a passion for.
He says something similar in the begining but then he confesses he's gonna do exactly the opposite.
this is major bulshit and I would not take this guy advice even if he payed me a million. Because he himself is not following it.
And even if he did, it is bullshit.
You should work on what YOU find important. Not on what someone else decided somewhere else.
YOU have intuitive intelligence that knows what's important and what you and ONLY YOU have a UNIQUE talent for (because you are unique).
cpeterso 5 hours ago 0 replies      
I am reminded of Richard "Hamming code" Hamming's quote:

"What are the most important problems in your field? Are you working on one of them? Why not?"

thom 8 hours ago 0 replies      
c.f. http://boingboing.net/2011/07/14/far.html, which tempers some of my optimism for seeing really big problems solved with really big computers and datasets.
jsavimbi 7 hours ago 0 replies      
While we debate the merits of Mr. Yegge's principled talk at OSCON Data 2011 and the potential ramifications that a sudden shift in priorities would cause in the developer universe, #imisswhen is trending from my local cat-picture dissemination outfit.

Personally, I believe we've done enough for humanity already.

hollerith 10 hours ago 2 replies      
Anyone care to post a summary of the OP (a 15-minute video)?
avgarrison 7 hours ago 0 replies      
After we solve all of the hard problems in the world, can we go back to looking at cat pictures?
rektide 7 hours ago 0 replies      
ryan-allen 12 hours ago 2 replies      
Wow, he really did. How this isn't on the front page, I don't know. It should be!
zavulon 9 hours ago 1 reply      
What an ass.
Greece defaults reuters.com
492 points by MaysonL  6 days ago   145 comments top 25
adulau 5 days ago 2 replies      
"The total official financing will amount to an estimated 109 billion euro. This programme will be designed, notably through lower interest rates and extended maturities, to decisively improve the debt sustainability and refinancing profile of Greece."

Markets and especially the financial sector like banks (especially French banks) owning debt from Greece (or CDO) have positively reacted to the announce for a different reason that the one shown in the press IMHO. The major risk for the banks is the inability from a customer to pay their debt. With the current proposal the risk is again moved to the public sector where they will take the part of the debt that Greece cannot pay or pay with difficulties.

So for the banks, it's a great move as their current contribution is just a small part from their revenue removed of the interest rate on the debt while lowering down the risks of unpaid debt.

Without forgetting that the ECB is feeding the banks with a preferential rate (around 1%) for credit given to other countries by the banks with a higher rate (around 3-4%).

So the winner is clearly the financial sector. We removed the risks for you and States will cover by public financing. It's just like the "refinancing" for CDO in 2008...

kahawe 5 days ago 3 replies      
What I can still not understand: how could this have happened at all and how come just like with the financial crisis following the housing bubble, it is nobody's fault really, nobody gets the blame and has to answer and step down and get locked up for it... and ultimately banks or the countries just get their bail-out and that's it. Few months from now life will just continue as usual as if nothing ever happened, just like it did on Wall Street. They went right back at it.

The funniest thing, a few weeks ago it was a very popular opinion in the media in Greece (even in respectable papers) that Germany should absolutely have to pay since they got allegedly SOOO rich and happy on all those imports Greece bought from Germany. Which in reality were an absolutely ridiculous amount of like 1 or 2% of all of Greece's imports but it shows how quickly a scape goat was conjured up in the media to direct people's attention and hate away from their own politicians.

Seriously, how can you not blame the politicians in that country and blame whoever was responsible for accepting Greece into the monetary union in the first place when they downright faked their economic statistics and obviously noone did any due-diligence?

There is a constant decline in voters and a general sense of "disenchantment with politics" here; people just care less and less and I can really see why... it doesn't really matter who you vote for anyway, they all get away with whatever they want and the biggest crises of the last 10, 20, 30 years just get brushed off like nothing happened. Insane amounts of bailouts are paid out on the backs of the working citizens and then that's it. It is never anybody's fault so certainly this does not scare off ANYONE to refrain from careless, negligent conduct.

I am not trying to troll, I just really honestly do not understand it... in my own understanding by all that is right, a few people who were actually responsible or in charge and did not do anything to prevent it should be hanging from trees or burning on stakes by now, figuratively speaking (but I would not mind having it literally).

In any company a CEO conducting business like these countries are doing on a daily basis would have been locked up a hundred times over looong time ago for a multitude of very grave misconducts, evasion, falsification of accounts etc etc etc.

When you rob a bank for petty cash, you get locked up; when you "steal a movie" you get locked up even longer. When you frakk over the whole world or the whole EU, then most everyone was joining in anyway so "shit happens", "tough luck", let's write a check and shake hands for the media.

Can someone with more political understanding than I have put all this clusterfuck-shitstorm into perspective for me, please?

lefstathiou 6 days ago  replies      
FYI there is no such thing as a "kind of" or "selective" default. It's binary. You either pay back creditors what they are owed or you dont. It's rare that a company or country defaults on ALL obligations all at once. As a member of Wall Street, I appreciate the WSJ's noble attempt to sugar coat this (article below) but that doesnt change the facts.

Ditto watchandwait below.., glad it finally happened.


flocial 6 days ago 2 replies      
The EU sort of rescued Greece, now Greece sort of defaults. Portugal, Spain, and Italy are not that far behind. The biggest problem, aside from Greece's fiscal mess, is that Germany can't muster up enough political support to clean up after their mess more decisively despite the fact that they are now in the same monetary union. The catch 22 of these financial crises is that inaction will result in financial meltdown, decisive rescues political suicide.
marshray 6 days ago 0 replies      
The WSJ's article is like all "I have a friend who thinks she might be a teensey weeensey little bit pregnant...".

Tomorrow, the markets make an example out of Greece in order to send a message to the US. But they'd better watch out, it could backfire. Congress now has a taste of the thrill of writing a (raise pinky) one trillion dollar check. If another AIG starts to look shaky...

mbateman 5 days ago 0 replies      
From the info box on this story in the print edition of the WSJ article this morning:


Q:There has been concern about a "credit event" that could trigger payouts on credit default swaps, a type of insurance against default. Will this happen?

A: Probably not. The deal for private-sector contributions is voluntary. If a deal doesn't bind all bondholders, it's unlikely to be considered a credit event.

Q:What use is default insurance if there's a default and no payouts?

A: Good question. It may lead to some soul-searching in the CDS market.


So the financial instruments designed to insure against default are being bypassed by deliberately circuitous arrangements and language, to the point that people are wondering what they are even for anymore? That sure seems like strong evidence in favor of the OP's position.

ww520 6 days ago 0 replies      
I've gone through the News channel in topchan.tv, which has multiple sources. Out of 180 of news clips for today, only four are related to the Greek bailout. AlJazeera has more details and it mentioned partial default, in the sense that the lenders would take a loss.

france24: Fresh multi-billion euro bailout expected for Greece

france24: Sarkozy and Merkel strike deal ahead of Greece talks

Euronews: Nervous Greeks await their economic fate

AlJazeeraEnglish: Greece's second bailout

afiler 6 days ago 0 replies      
Seeing the title "Greece defaults" made me things had taken a turn for the worse compared to news I'd heard earlier in the day, but no, this is just the title of an opinion piece. Other news articles are more nuanced, and in particular, the Wall Street Journal asks "What Constitutes a Greek Default? And Who Decides?": http://online.wsj.com/article/SB1000142405311190346110457645...
Loic 5 days ago 1 reply      
Nearly off topic, but all these debt issues make me think that this is why "world level" currency like bitcoin can be interesting. If it starts to spread enough to reach a critical mass over several economies, this kind of electronic currency can be the only currency disconnected from a single economy. The value of such currency would be function of the volume shared in each economy using it, where economy would be the US, EU, Japan, China etc.

You could say, a bit like gold, but easier to pay with.

Note that I am not saying I endorse bitcoin or any kind of crypto currency and recommend you to exchange your Euros/Dollars for some. For me, it is too speculative at the moment. This is just the concept which I find interesting.

parallel 6 days ago 2 replies      
As I understand it you default on a loan, you don't default as an entity. So it's doesn't really make sense to talk about Greece defaulting without saying which loans they defaulted on. Hence the "kind of"/"selective" etc.

I read this as Greece defaulted on kind of all it's loans, so defaulted on some and not on others. The others may have been renegotiations, longer terms etc.

eegilbert 6 days ago 1 reply      
Greece ^kinda defaults. More context in NYT, of course: http://nyti.ms/pyJ9Ho
tybris 5 days ago 0 replies      
This is called debt restructuring, not defaulting.
pandaassembly 5 days ago 0 replies      
Finally the only right move to do. If you look at greece's huge debt, it was clear that - even in booming economic times - they could have never managed to pay it all back.

Yes the greece default rating, will bring some pressure to the (mostly europrean) banks, but I'm sure the world will not stop moving, it might actually be the first step out of the euro crisis.

antimora 6 days ago 3 replies      
is Greece in default or "kind of default"?

I don't see in other headlines news.

teyc 5 days ago 0 replies      
Greece has been in fiscal deficit for so long, a loan which stays on the books but never gets paid off reminds me of CPS where functions never return.
rajpaul 6 days ago 0 replies      
"kind of default" doesn't mean "Greece sort of defaulted", it means "Greece defaulted in a specific way".
orenmazor 5 days ago 0 replies      
everybody is concentrating about the loans, but there was nothing being said on the lack of social contract in Greece. sure, they get some more loans/time, but the fact remains that the greek dont seem to want to pay their taxes.
senthilnayagam 5 days ago 0 replies      
start of a chain reaction :( but who would be next
joshu 6 days ago 1 reply      
well, tomorrow is gonna be fun.
shareme 6 days ago 1 reply      
Translation...Greece gets a bailout for itself, bondholders offered bailout if they commit to increase time-periods of loans, Greece bond rating gets clobbered to default rating....
Maven911 5 days ago 0 replies      
Does anyone know where I can get more in-depth analysis of the debt soverign crisis ?
I am quite interested in the topic but most articles are just fluff in terms of deep economic analysis
naeem 5 days ago 0 replies      
This is terrifying. The possibilities of a double-dip recession turn depression are growing by the day. Excuse me while I start working out, learn how to use a shot-gun and develop a taste for cider while deepening my voice.
melvinng 6 days ago 1 reply      
Finally, that took a while. Why didn't they do it earlier?
paulocal 5 days ago 0 replies      
Does this mean gold and silver prices will go up? I HOPE SO!
TheAlan 6 days ago 5 replies      
The raping of Greece's assets will now begin. EVERYTHING will get privatized, just like a third-world country.
A pound of flesh: how Cisco's "unmitigated gall" derailed one man's life arstechnica.com
461 points by diogenescynic  6 days ago   101 comments top 23
grellas 6 days ago 5 replies      
The win-at-any-cost mindset of modern litigating is here on display at its very worst:

1. Disregard truth when it gets in the way of the advantage you seek to attain with the aid of law.

2. Say whatever it takes to get judges to go your way, even if you not only omit important facts in making your petition but also affirmatively misstate whatever inconvenient fact gets in your way.

3. Disregard your duty as a prosecutor - which ultimately is to ensure that justice is done even as you pursue alleged criminal wrongdoing - and place the formidable powers of your office at the disposal of a private civil litigant with whom you want to cozy up.

4. Don't give a second thought to wasting the legal and judicial resources of two governments to help put on a charade that is wholly unnecessary to any legitimate goal of the legal system but that serves the interest of a private litigant only.

5. And, perhaps worst of all, don't hesitate to misuse the law to try to ruin the life of an innocent man in order to protect the market dominance you once had but now see as slipping to the point where it can be upheld only by resort to vicious legal tactics aimed at crushing potential competitors.

One recoils at the thought of it and can only wonder who within Cisco would have countenanced it all.

kwantam 6 days ago  replies      
Unfortunately, there is nothing that will prevent Cisco from doing this again in the future. They didn't get the result they wanted, but in all likelihood they aren't going to see any further rebuke for this ridiculous perversion of justice.

At the end of the day, someone at Cisco made the decision to try and completely ruin this guy's life. My sense of justice tells me that person should face criminal liability for his actions.

My sense of cynicism tells me he'll get promoted instead.

_delirium 6 days ago 2 replies      
It might be worth contacting members of Cisco's board of directors to inquire whether they plan to do something to avoid this kind of illicit behavior in the future. A board of directors doesn't manage day-to-day affairs, but is ultimately responsible for high-level oversight. The Cisco board of directors includes a number of people with generally solid reputations (including the president of Stanford University) who ought to be shocked if a company under their watch has engaged in this sort of behavior.

Here is a list, though you'll have to search elsewhere for contact information: http://investor.cisco.com/directors.cfm

Alternatively/additionally, many of us have occasion to do business with Cisco now and then, and if you currently do, you might mention a concern to your local Cisco office/representative.

Create 6 days ago 0 replies      
Earnest urged a lawsuit and even raised the idea of criminal charges against Bosack. He e-mailed colleagues: "The fundamental problem is: how do you negotiate an equitable agreement with crooks?"

"1985-88 Back at Stanford as associate chair of Computer Science and also involved in parallel processing research, I discovered that the founder of Cisco Systems, who I was supervising, was selling Stanford technology. I prepared for legal action and induced him to resign but later discovered that the Stanford administration avoids suing corporations whenever possible, thinking of them as potential donors. After a couple of years, during which Cisco illicitly made millions, Stanford gave them a sweetheart licensing deal. A few years later I ran across an endowed chair at Stanford in the name of the chief crook and funded by Cisco. There was additional dirt beneath the surface of these transactions but that story will have to wait till later." -- http://www.stanford.edu/~learnest/net.htm


smhinsey 6 days ago 3 replies      
This is part of a pretty disturbing general trend of large corporations using the criminal justice system as if it were an extension of themselves. I honestly don't see how anyone at Cisco who signed off on this sleeps at night.
anigbrowl 6 days ago 1 reply      
You might want to read the filings in the civil case (http://dockets.justia.com/docket/california/candce/5:2008cv0...) and poke around Mr Adekeye's websites before taking everything in this story at face value. There's a lot left out, and the reporter's backgrounder on page 2 is simply cut'n'pasted from Adekeye's own bio at http://www.multiven.com/about

The Vancouver Sun, whose reporter wrote this story for Ars, strikes me as a rather sensationalist paper. YMMV.

Shenglong 6 days ago 1 reply      
It seems to me Ronald McKinnon was one of the only sensible authorities in this entire ordeal. I can't believe someone didn't hit the reality check button earlier.

With that being said, I'm not defending him breaking into Cisco's system, and I think the entire act of doing so should lead to actions against him (but not so extreme). Rather than criminal action, I would've thought an injunction, or something to that effect, would've been more appropriate.

RegEx 6 days ago 1 reply      
I always assumed that court rulings were cryptic and overloaded with legal jargon, so I never attempted to read them. However, the ruling provided was very easy to read and just as informative as the article.

(Link to the ruling: http://www.multiven.com/media/news/pdfs/USAvsAdekeye-BC_Cana...)

kenjackson 6 days ago 0 replies      
I was just thinking of buying some Cisco routers (low-end for them -- I'm sure it's a drop in the bucket for them), but I'm definitely not going to now. This image of Cisco will be hard for me shake.
meow 6 days ago 1 reply      
Now any future litigant will think twice before tackling Cisco. I'm sure they consider that part a win, even if they had to finally settle.
sutro 6 days ago 0 replies      
Well done, Ars Technica - the best tech journalism in the business.
evilswan 6 days ago 0 replies      
I've never really followed Cisco before, but this story has really tainted my view of them. I'll think twice next time I see the Cisco logo on something.
absconditus 6 days ago 0 replies      
This and the News Corp. situation seem like real-life examples of what goes on in the show Damages.
davidjhall 6 days ago 0 replies      
Cisco has proven itself an evil company. In other recent news, Cisco promised to create jobs for a "tax holiday" and instead, is laying off employees: http://www.googlemonopoly.eu/index.php/2011/07/19/cisco-want...
forgotAgain 6 days ago 0 replies      
As a US citizen I've found it hard to accept the idea that the US justice system is a thing of the past. At the end of the day though an endless string of examples is proving the fact to be undeniable.
roschdal 6 days ago 0 replies      
Boycotting Cisco.
twilsndfdf 5 days ago 0 replies      
This guy has the most ridiculous set of balls. The audacity is just out of this world. To suggest that Cisco "derailed one man's life" is not doing him justice at all. Rather the opposite - one man derailed a massive company's plans for dominating its industry. The really amazing thing is that he is alive at all, given the amount of money Cisco isn't going to have going forward.
buff-a 6 days ago 1 reply      
In no way am I excusing what was done to this guy, but when will people learn that accessing a computer without permission has anything other than serious consequences. As far as the law is concerned, he might as well have raped the CEO's wife.

No - the damage done is not remotely equivalent, and yet the criminal penalties are the same.

sliverstorm 6 days ago 1 reply      
You can be arrested in the middle of a court testimony? That just doesn't make sense.
t413 6 days ago 0 replies      
Human depravity at its best.
hariis 6 days ago 0 replies      
I was told by my financial advisor to buy CSCO because of its sound fundamentals, BUT after this, I will stay away from them, it is the least I can do.
naeem 5 days ago 0 replies      
Peg me down as sickened to the core. I've given up complaining about corporate influence. I don't even know why they bother putting up a farse anymore, they may as well just cut the crap and come out and say: we will destroy you if it stretches our margins in any way.
jerf 6 days ago 0 replies      
That's an utterly nonsensical argument. People aren't allowed to do whatever they want either. Less sniping, more thinking, please.
Anonymous & Lulz Security Statement to the FBI pastebin.com
449 points by p4bl0  6 days ago   241 comments top 25
nathanb 6 days ago 6 replies      
"it's entirely unacceptable to break into websites and commit unlawful acts"

This is quite the hypocritical statement coming from the FBI. As far as I can tell, the only difference between Anonymous, Lulzsec, and the FBI is that the FBI act by executive fiat. I don't support Internet vigilanteism, but I also don't support the concept of the FBI as an untouchable force who are no longer held accountable by the public they are theoretically serving.

At this point, I'm not sure which one I find more scary.

flocial 6 days ago  replies      
The Lulzsec crew and Wiki Leaks strikes a nerve like modern day Robin Hoods. It makes you wonder if those of us in wealthy democracies are actually experiencing a peculiarly 21st century form of passive aggressive oppression where we may be "free" but monitored and essentially feel helpless and the fact that these unknown hackers are able to duck and evade the same forces that can hunt and kill terrorists with disregard of sovereignty makes them look like folk heroes. We'll see how this saga unfolds.
lhnz 6 days ago 1 reply      
If I had the nerve I would join them.

Bad-taste jokes and troublemaking.

Badly written manifestos.

But I think there are some in the groups who have their heart in the right place and want to do the right thing. And, illegal or not, I've yet to see any other form of western activism that is as disruptive as leaking/hacking.

mike-cardwell 6 days ago 2 replies      
Their Twitter status from about half an hour ago is far more interesting:


"We're currently working with certain media outlets who have been granted exclusive access to some of the News of the World emails we have."

jxcole 6 days ago  replies      
Why does Anonymous focus so much on attacking the US government (and related rich democratic countries) when it could instead be focused on fighting the governments that are actually oppressive? Nothing the US has ever done, even at it's most oppressive, could ever compare to what North Korea does to it's own citizen's on a regular basis. I would probably be much more sympathetic towards their cause if they focused most on attacking the organizations that are the worst rather than attacking the organizations that will get them the most attention. I read somewhere that an Anonymous hacker used to fight oppressive governments in Africa. Why did he stop? Why does he all the sudden need to deface PBS because they printed negative press coverage of their favorite website, WikiLeaks?

Are they really doing this for the good of mankind or are they just trying to get attention? Anonymous though they may be, they still seem to be just trying to get on the 5:00 news.

rauljara 6 days ago 2 replies      
I think there is room for illegal activities in the name of a free and open society. If this is truly the author's goal, however, they need to stop associating with LulzSec.

There was nothing noble about 9/10's of the crap lulzsec did, and the somewhat decent stuff they did was undercut by the whole "for the lulz" philosophy. If you really are fighting for freedom, you need to be better than DDS'ing game servers, because if you aren't the people who you are opposed to will use that shit against you. Like the FBI is doing now.

I won't shed a tear if the Lulzsec folk get put away. I will be quite upset if Lulzsec turns the public against those who would do the modern day equivalent of releasing the pentagon papers.

madmaze 6 days ago 1 reply      
I certainly agree with their Goals and I see very similar flaws in many governments. I am not sure their way is the best way to make governments listen, but it certainly is one way that gets publicity. The issue with their publicity is that news networks do not broadcast their message, they broadcast their actions which in turn intimidates and scares the less tech-savvy portion of society. This does not achieve their goals, but they make a statement. A statement is better than no statement.
DanielBMarkham 6 days ago  replies      

Let's see, "Make impassioned speech then go break into the neighbor's house and scatter his secret documents all over the lawn"

That makes a lot of sense now, doesn't it? Perhaps if you're seven. And drunk.

Aside from the validity of the charges, this manner of social justice never ever works for the people who try it. Good grief, did we learn nothing from Ghandi or MLK Jr.? There's a perfectly legitimate and effective way to denounce injustice. I think either you understand the problems with what they are doing from looking at history or you become so enamored with their cause you allow yourself to become feeble-minded.

I hate the security state that we're living in. But I hate even more people taking it on themselves to administer justice in this fashion. If you make me pick, I'm going with broken security state over anarchists every time -- and there are hundreds of millions of folks just like me. And the the thing I hate worst? Somebody taking _my_ legitimate cause and crapping all over it by doing things like this. It's an attack on freedom-loving people everywhere.

If the local prosecutor lets a murderer go free? I don't go burn the prosecutor's house down. If the local sheriff is corrupt? I don't break into his house and publish his papers in the newspaper. If the guy next door is crooked and in cahoots with the mob? I don't get to break in his house and hand out his property to the poor. In short, the minute I start deciding on my own when to break the law and disrespect other people's property rights because of a cause -- even a legitimate cause -- I become an enemy of everybody. You don't get to wave your hands around angrily pointing out how worthy your cause is and get a free pass. At least not from me.


Shenglong 6 days ago 7 replies      
This is absolutely ridiculous.

I don't agree with a lot of the things that various government organizations are allegedly doing either. However, I also understand that I probably don't have all the facts. I also know that even if I had all the facts, I would probably not commit much time to analyzing all of them, in order to make a sound decision on the best course of action. Why don't other people realize this?

We leave the economics to the economists, the physics to the physicists, and the medicine to the doctors. There are people--incompetent or not--who spend their entire lives dealing with government/country related issues. Yes, some of them might be corrupt, but are we naive enough to believe that an entire country is corrupt? Who are we to judge corruption, and what sources of information do we really have?

At one point or another, this argument for civil liberties gets repetitive and overblown. No one I know has ever felt like their freedoms were at stake, and the few government mistakes that the media captures should not be precedence to act against them. I make mistakes, you make mistakes - everyone makes mistakes. Hacking into their servers, getting people fired (and therefore replacing them with less experienced people), and leaking sensitive information so the uneducated public can get their opinions in, is -NOT- going to solve anything. At all. Ever.

Edit: Edited out a preface - wasn't aware. Sorry.

fleitz 6 days ago 0 replies      
The government is the potent omnipresent teacher. For good or ill it teaches the whole people by its example. Crime is contagious. If the government becomes a lawbreaker, it breeds contempt for law; it invites every man to become a law unto himself; it invites anarchy. To declare that the end justifies the means -- to declare that the government may commit crimes -- would bring terrible retribution.


nextparadigms 6 days ago 0 replies      
Anonymous and Lulzsec are more like 21st century revolutionaries, on a global scale. Revolutionaries are always seen as the enemy by the Government. So it's no surprise that the US Government wants to declare war against them and wants to catch them.

If they win, then the Government changes, and the whole society changes after that. If they lose, they end up dead or in jail for whatever crimes the Government said they committed (and if there isn't a crime they can use, they'll make a new law for it like they tried with the SHIELD bill against whistleblowers)

The hacktivists aren't doing any real damage to society, and in fact they may actually end up helping it a lot, in the same way Wikileaks changed some things for the better, and they were also hunted down by Governments.

The real damage they are doing is to the people in power, and those people will fight to keep things the same and get away with their own crimes against the people they should represent.

I think we'll experience major changes in the way our democracies work by the end of this decade. For the fast times we live in, and real time information and feedback, we can only give some feedback once every 4 years, and it's usually just 2 choices: the one that has been in power, and another one. Politicians need to become a lot more accountable, and our feedback should be a lot more direct and often than once every 4 years through the voting of a party or a president.

click170 6 days ago 1 reply      
I read "Lobby conglomerates who only follow their agenda to push the profits higher" and instantly pictured an executive somewhere rolling his eyes as he reads that.

I understand the feelings disgust with the current state of the system, and I get how in leu of an actual solution one would feel frustrated enough to act out in the ways that they have, but I stand firm in my belief that there is a better way of accomplishing the changes we/they want to see, even if nobody has figured out what that is yet.

ibejoeb 6 days ago 4 replies      
Who writes this stuff? It comes across as silly, hyperbolic, and even melodramatic, and detracts from the actual content.

Lulz: consider this constructive criticism. Take it down a notch.

pxlpshr 6 days ago 1 reply      
Reminds me of the hacker's manifesto, but a lot less eloquent.
peterwwillis 6 days ago 3 replies      
What are they gonna do when every govt/corporate website starts sanitizing its webapps' input and patching its network services? All they'll be able to do is DoS.

Wouldn't it be funny if the FBI & associated agencies actually worked to increase the security of the nation's networks instead of acting surprised every time they get penetrated?

tRAS 6 days ago 0 replies      
"Your threats to arrest us are meaningless to
us as you cannot arrest an idea."
Jeez, I got goosebumps reading that. Straight out from V for Vendetta.
rheide 6 days ago 0 replies      
Fairly well phrased, although the arguments against 'corporations' and 'conglomerates' are fairly unsubstantial. (in the pastebin, that is, IRL is a different matter)
joelmichael 6 days ago 0 replies      
A trite leftist screed ripped straight from the Bush years.
dwilson718 6 days ago 1 reply      
I'm sure most of the people here missed the fact that this is a wake-up call. its meant to make people THINK long and hard about the real issues at hand.

I don't know about you, but I'm seeing a lot of critical thinking going on. It's this reason I support these groups.

feal 6 days ago 1 reply      
Can someone rehost this elsewhere like pastie.org or something?
Pastebin is blocked by websense. :/
andrewcamel 6 days ago 0 replies      
I really do not understand why they cannot find someone to write for them who understands English grammatical rules. All I can think of when I'm reading that document are some troublemakers trying to justify malicious attacks. If they could write a decent press release, it might actually convince people that they are trying to do some some good in the world.
darksaga 6 days ago 8 replies      
I wonder if they'll ever understand the people they're trying to protect are actually the victims in their actions.

They hack Sony. Sony loses millions. How do you think they're going to recapture their loses? By passing the loss onto consumers. Increased prices for TV's, games, anything Sony makes is going to increase in price to recoup their loses.

Clearly they haven't thought this all the way through.

sidcool 6 days ago 2 replies      
How do we know this is for legit?
samkiller18 6 days ago 0 replies      
These kids have become the subject of their own joke. But it's funny watching them and reading them on twitter though
tannerc 6 days ago 0 replies      
This is why we can't have nice things online.
The Brilliance of Dwarf Fortress nytimes.com
434 points by pcestrada  5 days ago   144 comments top 27
DanielBMarkham 5 days ago 5 replies      
Some notes:

First, these guys are the real hackers. Not Carmack, Woz, Bill, or Zuck, or all the super-cool guys that made the bucks and then coasted (technically). These guys are living the life just because they love it. They're a much better representation of the inner hacker in all of us than those stories of riches and fame. I got the impression they would continue doing this no matter what their financial circumstances.

Second, they've done their time. Somebody should set them up with an annuity so they can a) continue, b) learn to live without worrying about money, and c) tell stories to kids 40 years from now about how it all came together

Third, this article left me gobsmacked. I'm left with one conclusion: this is art. If you're collecting these crayon receipts? Save them. They're going to be worth something one day.

Of course, just like the game plays out, it might all amount to nothing. If I had to bet about the value of their work, I'd say it drops off short-term (next 20 years) then becomes super valuable around 2030 or so. This seems to be the pattern with semi-famous labors of love with cult followings. Seriously. Save whatever you can get from these guys.

Very cool story.

MrFoof 5 days ago 1 reply      
A few things.

First, as mentioned in the article, the Museum of Modern Art in NYC will be featuring Dwarf Fortress as part of its "Talk to Me" exhibit. The exhibit will be open from July 24th through November 7th. http://www.moma.org/visit/calendar/exhibitions/1080

Second, for those looking to get into the game, the two recommended video tutorials are SippyCup's (humorous) http://www.youtube.com/51ppycup, and Captain Duck's (down to business) http://www.youtube.com/user/captnduck#p/a/u/1/yn1iW1QN7_s.


Tarn has The Fisherman Parable philosophy and I have a tremendous amount of respect for that. Doing what you love, no matter the "sacrifice", above everything else. He's probably the biggest reason why I've been working on the side to try to create my own games, so I can get the heck out of finance and do what I wanted to since I was 6 years old. Until that works out for me, I send a monthly donation to ensure that at least someone can fulfill their dream.

jgfoot 5 days ago 4 replies      
Very interesting: "Tarn sees his work in stridently ethical terms. He calls games like Angry Birds or Bejeweled, which ensnare players in addictive loops of frustration and gratification under the pretense that skill is required to win, 'abusive' -- a common diagnosis among those who get hooked on the games, but a surprising one from a game designer, ostensibly charged with doing the hooking. 'Many popular games tap into something in a person that is compulsive, like hoarding,' he said, 'the need to make progress with points or collect things. You sit there saying yeah-yeah-yeah and then you wake up and say, What the hell was I doing? You can call that kind of game fun, but only if you call compulsive gambling fun.' He added: 'I used to value the ability to turn the user into your slave. I don't anymore.'"
joshklein 5 days ago 3 replies      
For those of you who are seeing this for the first time and have any love for games like Minecraft, Civilization, etc... please take the time to break through the very steep learning curve to give this game a fair shake. It is truly a work of art.

Please note that the Wiki helps make the game playable: http://df.magmawiki.com/

Natsu 5 days ago 1 reply      
I've never heard of other games spawning threads like these:





I've never seen other games where people use that as a reason to study geology, farming, beekeeping or whatnot. One person, not satisfied with the material properties of Saguaro wood and unable to find good data online went so far as to track down a sample and measure them.

One person even mentioned that they neglected to study for their geology test and played Dwarf Fortress instead. They got an extremely high score because so many of the questions were relevant to DF, such as asking for the names of common iron ores. Any good DF player can list at least magnetite, limonite and hematite without any trouble.

pohl 5 days ago 1 reply      
My teenage son - who, raised right, grew up on Nethack - absolutely loves this game, and will occasionally stay up all night and be found still feverishly working on some elaborate construction in the morning. From what I have seen, it is ASCII crack.

edit: I guess it's modified code-page-437 crack:


edit again: This article really is a very interesting story behind the development. Even if you don't play, it's worth reading.

dpritchett 5 days ago 1 reply      
Don't miss the chance to read through the "Boatmurdered" Dwarf Fortress succession campaign:

Perhaps most fascinating are the stories that fans share online, recounting their dwarven travails in detailed and sometimes illustrated narratives. In a 2006 saga, called Boatmurdered, fans passed around a single fortress " one player would save a game, send the file to another player and so on, relay-race style " while documenting its colorful descent into oblivion. (After a vicious elephant attack: “A single untrained marksdwarf stands ready to defend the crossing, but I doubt he'll be enough.”) Boatmurdered spread across gaming sites and made the front page of MetaFilter, a popular blog. “That did a lot to make people aware we existed,” Tarn says.


jokermatt999 5 days ago 4 replies      
If you're ever worried that a feature will be too complex to implement, take a look at the ridiculous number of things Dwarf Fortress keeps track of and simulates some time. The article briefly touches on it, but like any look at Dwarf Fortress, it bared dips its toes in the water. Just a quick list off the top of my head...

In world gen, it simulates geology and erosion, climate/biomes, growing civilizations, politics, war, trade, attacks by various "megabeast" creatures and their battles (in which injuries down to losing a tooth will be kept track of), migration and refuges as a result of war, (I believe) deforestation as a result of logging, and probably a lot more that I'm forgetting. That's just in world generation, before you're actually playing it.

Remember, what one person can program when they're truly dedicated is a pretty incredible feat.

ghotli 5 days ago 2 replies      
I have long assumed that it will eventually be unethical to turn off dwarf fortress.
bcl 5 days ago 1 reply      
Here's the game's homepage - http://www.bay12games.com/dwarves/

This looks very cool, and there are versions for Linux/OSX/Win

cydonian_monk 5 days ago 1 reply      
If I had to choose a single game to play for the rest of my life, Dwarf Fortress would be an easy choice. The ability to build massively complex systems in a massively complex world appeals to the part of my brain that made me an engineer. There is so much potential in this game. So many things... hidden. So many stories to share.

Just watch out for the Elephants. Or Carp. Or Badgers. Or the random, world-swallowing bugs.

mvzink 5 days ago 2 replies      
Having never been really involved with the Dwarf Fortress community/cult, but having played the game quite a bit, this exposé on the creator is extremely interesting. I always thought it must have taken a certain level of cleverness to build such an impressive simulation, but I honestly didn't think he'd be a Stanford Ph.D. Also, I'm honestly surprised they get that much in donations. It's very well deserved indeed and I'm happy to hear that they do.
klbarry 5 days ago 1 reply      
Dwarf Fortress is an outstanding game with features not available anywhere else, and I would highly recommend it. The background music, which the creator also composed and performed, is very soothing, as well.
praptak 5 days ago 1 reply      
Being a Nethack fan who has also lost countless hours managing civilizations, space fleets, cities, insect colonies, zombie apocalypse survivors' camps, I have three words to say:

Must... not... play...

aycangulez 5 days ago 1 reply      
I have always had an inkling that video games should be considered as applied math. According to Tarn, the author of Dwarf Fortress, who also has a Ph.D in math, making games "scratches all the same itches" as math. That sounds just right to me.
gnosis 5 days ago 2 replies      
DF does have very impressive depth and game mechanics. Unfortunately, its interface is one of the worst of any game I've ever played.

It's a pity that DF isn't open source either, as then its interface problems would have long since been fixed. But, as it is, its lead (and only) developer doesn't seem to care enough to fix it himself.

shin_lao 3 days ago 0 replies      
I seriously discourage you from checking out this game if you're on a deadline, building a startup or have any project you'd like to take on.

On the other hand it's a must have if you have a nuclear shelter in your backyard.

cageface 5 days ago 2 replies      
Just as an aside, a game like this with deep algorithmic complexity but trivial graphics seems like a natural fit for a functional language like Scala or Haskell. I wonder why Tarn chose C++ instead. Was it just out of familiarity? With his background in math I'd imagine he'd be very comfortable in an FP language.
devindotcom 5 days ago 0 replies      
Great article. Funnily enough, the Metafilter post referenced is actually the one I put up in 2007:


jl6 4 days ago 0 replies      
For those of you worried about losing your life to another simulation game, I present:

How Dwarf Fortress cured me of my Dwarf Fortress addiction once and for all - even though I've never played it:


LakatosI 5 days ago 0 replies      
Nice to see such a great game receiving some well deserved exposure.
Swannie 4 days ago 1 reply      
Nice article.

Reminds me a little of the two lead characters of "Makers", the Cory Doctorow book. But this is real, and mildly depressing. You want guys like this to be successful, and to have the choice to live the spartan lifestyle if they choose, or one with a better choice of food, beverage, sleeping, etc. options.

Sad to read that relationships are not important though :-(

anactofgod 4 days ago 0 replies      
"Dwarf Fortress unfolds as a series of staggeringly elaborate challenges and devastating setbacks that lead, no matter how well one plays, to eventual ruin."

Soooo.... One can play this game, or one can be in charge of a real country's economic policies. Same outcome. ;)

jmelloy 5 days ago 1 reply      
I haven't played it much, but I've always felt it would make an interesting iPad game. Seems like it wouldn't be too complex to put an objective-c wrapper around the code.
VirInvictus_ 3 days ago 0 replies      
I was terribly happy to see this article all over my Twitter feed. This game is an inspiration for budding programmers, even if the game is terribly difficult to get into comfortably. I've been playing it for quite some time now. Very happy to see it.
ErikRogneby 5 days ago 0 replies      
Wow. I thought Realm of the Mad god (http://www.realmofthemadgod.com/) had low-fi appeal...
petegrif 5 days ago 0 replies      
Cool piece.
When Patents Attack npr.org
414 points by simon_weber  1 day ago   129 comments top 28
moultano 22 hours ago 6 replies      
Throwing an idea out there: Software patents should last no more than 1 year.

If you come up with something worth patenting, you get a year lead on competitors. That's it.

almightygod 1 day ago 4 replies      
I get anxious every time I read another patent troll story wondering when my weekend creations will end up costing me $ when they accidentally infringe on a patent because I roll out some seemingly ubiquitous feature.

I'm deeply saddened by this mess and doubt it will ever be resolved. There is far to much money at stake now to revert things - money = lobbying.

dstein 22 hours ago 1 reply      
As the article only touched on, this is precisely why the next computing giant will not come from Silicon Valley or anywhere in the US. The current software patent situation has ensured it.
danshapiro 19 hours ago 3 replies      
Did anyone else click the "someone patented toast" link and actually read the claims? It's for toasting bread at 2,500-4,500 degrees, with specialized infrared ovens.
daimyoyo 1 day ago 1 reply      
There is a simple solution to this problem. Make maintenance fees payable yearly, and make a requirement of getting the patent renewed proof that you're actually using it. People filing patents only to sit and wait until someone else infringes is a cancer on American innovation.
enduser 1 day ago 0 replies      
Is this an issue for companies owned by HNers?
Poll: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=2809951
lukejduncan 1 day ago 7 replies      
Intellectual Ventures recently posted a rebuttal http://intven.com/newsroom/insights/11-07-25/Disruption_Invi...

They like to say things like "ideas have value" and that they are "disruptive."

Are there examples where the patents they own and monetize actually represent valuable "ideas" and not after the fact claims of invention? I'm guessing not, but open to being proven wrong.

And who, or what, do they think they are disrupting? Isn't IV the incarnation of the status quo?

Reading their website feels like reading a politicians...

preinheimer 1 day ago 2 replies      
As a co-founder of a startup, my most worrying thoughts are not finding customers or improving the product. They're "when will I get a scary legal letter that asks for millions over a patent I've never heard of".
daniel-cussen 21 hours ago 0 replies      
It's interesting to see more mainstream media outlets (npr and This American Life (public radio?)) talk more about patent trolling lately. As of a few weeks ago lay people I talked to had no idea programmers generally disliked patents.
shmulkey18 13 hours ago 0 replies      
Two very interesting Econtalk podcasts on IP issues and economics, both of which argue that innovative industries can thrive in legal regimes which offer very limited IP protections:

Boldrin on Intellectual Property

Blakley on Fashion and Intellectual Property

pg groupies may also want to check out the Econtalk interview with Paul Graham. Finding it is left as an excercise for the reader, primarily to encourage people to check out this amazing resource.

andreyf 1 day ago 1 reply      
In the audio version, they mention several times that patent law is founded in the constitution. I wish they would actually read it though, as it's not very complicated:

The Congress shall have Power To [...] promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries.

adorton 23 hours ago 2 replies      
One of the best TAL episodes in recent memory. The story mentions that modern patents (specifically software patents) lack the novelty that the patent system was originally designed to encourage. Did patent laws change at some point in history to allow this to happen?
dedicated 23 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm curious as who are the VC's who invested in IV? Are these typical tech VC's, or are they more of the private equity type that relish in making money off these so called opportunities or arbitrages that don't require actual productive work.
spenrose 22 hours ago 2 replies      
Can someone please tell me what Myrvolhd actually DID when he was leading MS Research? I remember no innovations from MS in that era.
danvideo 1 day ago 0 replies      
it's time this issue got more exposure than just the tech world... reporters aren't worried about their company being sued out from under them.
pom 23 hours ago 0 replies      
For some reason, every time I read the name Intellectual Ventures I sound it in my mind as Intellectual Vultures.
dredmorbius 19 hours ago 0 replies      
If you're looking for an organization which is actively working to fix the software patent problem, you can look to End Software Patents: http://endsoftpatents.org/
parallel 1 day ago 1 reply      
Is this sort of thing an issue in other countries. I'm a tech founder in Australia. I don't think we have the same level of anxiety about being sued for unknowingly breaching a software patent. Can anyone comment on this? Is our patent system different or can we expect to see our industry similarly affected in the future?
dangrover 1 day ago 2 replies      
What if you could pay for some kind of insurance product to protect against patent lawsuits? Or perhaps some kind of co-operative that owned a bunch of bullshit patents to be used for defensive purposes in such a scenario?
vinced 20 hours ago 1 reply      
The solution is very simple. Create a simple how to patent template website, then have every developer apply for patents on any business and software process that they can dream of. Within two years you'll choke the entire system into change. Make it impossible for anyone to do anything.

1st idea, the collection, aggregation, and transmittal of electronic messaging data during a waste evacuation process. (i.e. checking your email while on the toilet)

arvinjoar 6 hours ago 0 replies      
I wonder why people waste their time and money on defending themselves in court, why don't they hire Tony Soprano to fix their problem instead? It would be a pretty appropriate response.
cpenner461 23 hours ago 1 reply      
Serious question: can/do patent trolls go after open source projects? I'm not thinking of businesses who sell/support open source software (e.g. Red Hat), but would it be a viable "defense" for an indie dev to simply release their project as open source? I've got an idea for a "weekend project" or two that I could conceivably make a few bucks with, or I could release them as open source so that I can at least benefit from the idea without worrying (as much?) about being sued for violating a patent. On the one hand if I'm not making any money from it one would think that the trolls would go elsewhere, but then again...

Just looking for a general idea here, I'm not looking for official legal advice here... :-)

clc 1 day ago 0 replies      
I actually just heard this story over NPR Radio. It's concerning to think about how companies like this can strong-arm smaller startups. But at the same time that doesn't mean that we should hide in fear. We've got to keep on doing what we do best: developing innovative products and solutions for users everywhere. Torpedoes be damned.
crizCraig 19 hours ago 0 replies      
Poll: What's you take on Intellectual Ventures with regard to innovation? http://wepolls.com/1510009
kanetrain 18 hours ago 0 replies      
perfunctory 18 hours ago 0 replies      
Is it fair to call Intellectual Ventures an arms dealer.
vacri 1 day ago 1 reply      
Admittedly I stopped reading the article when I got to "IV isn't a patent troll, we're simply just a big patent market connecting suppliers to consumers"

No, you're not simply a 'market'. A market doesn't come and sue you for buying your milk somewhere else.

Andy Rutledge Redesigns NYTimes.com andyrutledge.com
342 points by ecaron  2 days ago   123 comments top 45
donohoe 1 day ago  replies      
Dear god, where to start. I worked on the Times web site for 7 years (dev, not design). Before I even saw his "redesign" I read his preamble. First, lets be clear, he is working from the wrong assumptions. He demonstrates clearly what is wrong with many news outlets but then he lumps the Times in with them too. Since his piece is about the Times I have to feel all assertions he makes are about that too, and not just media in general.

  Digital news is broken. Actually, news itself is broken. 

No its not. The business model is broken. Print is declining. Online revenue is being experimented with. Could be better, could be much worse.

  Almost all news organizations have abandoned reporting in
favor of editorial; have cultivated reader opinion in
place of responsibility; and have traded ethical standards
for misdirection and whatever consensus defines
as forgivable.

Please don't lump the Times in this category. They have a small amount of clearly stated Editorial content. Separate from that is the Opinion pages, and what is completely separate from that is News (thats the bit where they try their damnedest to keep Opinion out of it and cite sources, provide analysis and present facts).

  And this is before you even lay eyes on what passes for
news design on a monitor or device screen these days.

We'll get to this part...

  In digital media"websites in particular"news outlets 
seldom if ever treat content with any sort of dignity
and most news sites are wedded to a broken profit model
that compels them to present a nearly unusable mishmash
of pink noise…which they call content.

Actually that "broken profit model" isn't broken for some but thats another argument. If you have ever sat in a newsroom meeting, or a design review, or a meeting where product people spar with editorial who spar with developers you would realize that dignity is a big deal. A big FUCKING deal. You might not like the fruits of that but don't never say they don't give a shit. The Times prizes content to a fault.

  In an effort to disguise and mitigate the fact that they
have little idea how to publish digital content
properly"often sneakily called "differentiation""some
news outlets release apps for digital devices. These
apps typically (but not always) do a better job of
presenting content and facilitating navigation, but
they're a band aid on a festering abdominal wound.
Digital media is simply digital media; if you do it
right you publish once and it works anywhere. If you're
using an app to deliver content, you're doing it wrong.

First, its not clear that this criticism is Times specific. However its still wrong. I've been in plenty of meetings with bright people from inside and outside the company where we started off with the goal that, as he put it, "if you do it right you publish once and it works anywhere". It didn't work. These were not just "old media" types either - these are talented people, some of whom who don't even read the print edition. gasp

Its something thats very easy to say - hell I wish it were true. It is not. Devices, apps, platforms, whatever. They have strengths and weaknesses. You can not have one magic solution for all. This is a crappy comparison but its a bit like saying you have one single car for every type of terrain - same car for soccer-mom and deer-hunter alike! Sweet!

  Instead of working with a handful of redundant, 
mitigating formats (websites, mobile sites, apps, etc...)
for content delivery to popular devices, news
organizations should simply deliver it correctly in
the first place, one time; using html, css, JavaScript,
...oh, and design. The employment of content design
would be quite refreshing, actually.

Sadly, this is very much an example of a person looking in. I'm not sure how to counter this. Its simply a matter of not knowing what happens on the 7th floor of the Times Building. Nor could he. However I can only assure you that a very dedicated group of Designers are actively working on NYTimes.com and they know their shit.

There is definitely a crap load of work to do to fully redesign a web site that was last done in 2005 - but it does happen. A couple of URLs come to mind which are not illustrated in his piece:

Opinion (redesigned last year)




Times Skimmer


Books / Best Sellers List


T Magazine (CHECK THIS ONE OUT - you seem to have missed it Andy!)



Dealbook Blog


Business Day Sectionfront




Times Machine


Opinionator Blog (my favorite design)


Slide Show (Great Homes)


So whats next... well too much actually. I do not have the time nor the patience to dig at all of Andys points. Im sure not all of them are bad, but there is enough there to make me wonder whats wrong with this guy. Again, he is a professional. I am sure he has had critics of his work, and he knows that there was an inner process where a lot of those points were brought up and shown not to hold water. He is now doing the same thing.

So I'll leave it on one final point. Mobile Sites. Its an example of what happens when you don't know that the Times is aware of his point and we discussed it and there was a damn good reason we made the decision that we made.

What am I talking about? He shows the iPhone with the full NYT homepage and has the caption "Um, are you frisking kidding me?". In other words why not a mobile site.

Well, very simple. The iPhone is capable of rendering and interacting with the full page. It was the first browser to do so - it don't require a lite version. You could tap, zoom, pinch, drag and get the full depth of the page. Other browsers - like those for Nokia, RIM etc couldn't handle that.

This was talked over to death. There were compelling arguments about going down this road - or not. In the end, the decision was made to NOT redirect those advanced browsers to the mobile site. You can still go to m.nyt.com if you like, we just wont force you too.

  but it should not require anything more than a media 
query fetching different CSS and perhaps some additional
scripting so as to simply restyle the content experience

Andy does say that all you need is media quires for the CSS and such and bingo. Well, no. No its not that simple. If you want to redo the homepage for a specific mobile experience then you probably want to serve different sized images, maybe not have some Flash stuff on the iPhone, maybe drop the bandwidth intensive stuff that works well on desktop.

CSS media queries does not solve the problem. It is never that easy and shame on your for saying so. You are a professional. You should know better. Bad Andy. Bad. No biscuit for you.

Man, this makes me bitter. RANT OFF.

rjd 1 day ago 6 replies      
Well having been in the person in charge of a major news website myself I can say we all have lovely designs like this pinned to the walls next our desks.

And while I really like his designs and have turned to Andy many times for inspiration, there are some serious context problems... and while I'm bored and off work I might as well write a critique...

I had an near identical sports section to the one he designed pinned to me wall. But I can say he's screwed a few things up, gallery needs to be higher, users can't find a gallery that low (I know user testing surprises them hell out me to), no ads again. To use templating that image has to be shrunk, the quality you get through from external sources if often extremely poor, a reality he doesn't seem to have considered. Nothing screams amateur news like big pixalated images some non technical journo uploaded, and credibility is your only asset really.

Another reality is the business requires as many ad units as you can fit on a page, big media is expensive. Way more than a blog with 10 or so staff. Flying people all over the country, investigating stories, hotel rooms. Its like covering CES every day, which for most tech blogs would be there biggest yearly expense. Moan all you will but most people are out of touch with exact what it takes to make decent news.

And you can't win an argument about ads, you get dragged in front of finance, and if you convince them sales will drag you in front of the board, if you win that you get dragged in front of agencies to justify changes which may effect upcoming campaigns. Its a horrible process and really have to have solid arguments and research, essentially you are risking entire revenue streams, for what in a lot of cases isn't even break even business.

He's got what appears to be a lot of promoted content, thats expensive from a support point of view. I had a guy working under me whose job was literally to make the decision about what story superseeded the next.

The back lash you get from people for having a story up too long or not long enough is amazing. I've been called every name under the sun. Your audience isn't a defined well behaved demographic at all. Its like 4chan discussing politics, just a complete mess always on the attack.

..but at least when thanks comes its usually really good, for example this year I got a hand made Christmas card from the Indonesian Fishing Association for getting a reporter in touch with them. Somehow it made up for a year of insults. It was real touching.

The only real solution, and we worked damned hard with Google on this is indexing getting people to the page directly, forgetting all about overview pages and landing pages.

We ended up constructing a 24 hour social media team. We pushed the news via automation, blood, sweat, and tears to the people. And Google rewarded us, we entered the elite list of news suppliers whom google monitor for breaking stories. It works, it really does, but its hard work. I bet there aren't many people hear who have brought Google employees to an argument with your boss ;)

Anyway he's also under estimating the sheer volume of stories being generated. He's designed a nice blog template, not something that produces several hundred of stories a day over dozens and dozens of subsection. He's hasn't considered the scale, and the unreliability of content. You can do editorial pages like that for major events, but not the daily drab. The real solution to the problem was as noted above social engineering, you need to get people (super nodes) who act as conduits to propagate good stories for you.

The next is the infographics. Again beautiful, I used to kill for decent info graphics coming in. If I wasn't snowed under I'd try and create them myself.

But the reality is graphic designer can't do it, they have huge work loads already, and remember you can't just hire more staff, its break even business. THEN you need a subject matter expert to assembly it and give it to the graphic designer.

Infographics takes time, and its something that Google and Twitter have taken away from news journalists by the creation of an attention economy. You need to break a story immediately or you run the risk of not covering your production costs.

You don't have time to crunch numbers, you are literally scrambling for eyeballs to stay in business. You can do it with editorials fine, and one trick I learnt quick was guest bloggers are GOLD. They often bring a crowd with them, they often have great researched stories, infographics you name it. So it became my goal to build those relationships.

But alas 3 months without weekends, high pressure workload, high pressure targets, unyielding worldwide competition take a toll. So I quit. Theres still an open position for me if I want to return, but I don't think I'm ready just yet ;)

EDIT: I don't mean to be harsh towards Andy. I love his work, and his intellectual exercise into improvement is great. I even forwarded it onto my old team for review.

But what I guess my point is sometimes there a reason why things are crap, and fixing may be a hell of a lot harder the moment you try than you expected.

So don't judge people/teams to harshly, instead offer a hand like Andy has done, sometimes they need it (especially in big media)

patio11 1 day ago 1 reply      
It is easy to create a redesign for a website. It is less easy to pivot a billion-dollar business which has the agility of an aircraft carrier while she is sinking. If your answer to that question is "What do we really need the planes for, anyway?" and "I think the conning tower would look much better in teal.", you might find a wee bit of difficulty getting taken seriously.
faramarz 1 day ago 3 replies      
Obviously he's not a NYT reader. I love the times. It's not broken. Their website is fantastic in every way. You can spend hours upon hours on it and digest more content, in whatever style you wish to navigate. It has a certain unity within the chaos. But it's not really chaos. The content is the layout. You won't find any other News organization who understands design more than NYT. They let the content design the layout, not the other way around.

Andy turned NYT into a Wordpress blog. :|

I'll give him credit for the work though, but I personally think NYT is an exception. But go ahead, every other news website, you have Cart Blanche.

cc: Khoi Vinh

adamhowell 1 day ago 1 reply      
I know everybody hates ads, but it only reinforces the "naive businessmen" stereotype of designers when people say stuff like this:

"Since news is accessed only via subscription, most of the ads can be eliminated from the pages."

That's like saying because you pay for magazines they also don't need to have ads. That's in no way at all how the content business works.

arn 1 day ago 0 replies      
The final result looks nice, but I hate these exercises, because if you are not fitting the same number of ads in the page, then you are not actually solving the same problem. You are solving a much easier problem, as almost all sites look better without ads.

Also, there's a major divide between what people seem to think looks nice and what seems to succeed. The Huffington Post is the biggest example of recent success in the news realm. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/

Is that despite of its design or because of it? I don't know. It's hard to separate out the effect of the editorial content from presentation.

dredmorbius 1 day ago 3 replies      
I don't like the final result, and Rutledge dismisses many of the realities of site design.

I think the existing NYTimes site is among the examplars of good Web news site design. My principle gripe is that there's too much whitespace around the primary content. That's probably a consequence of both a 1920x1080 display (laptop), and highly aggressive ad blocking. (Yeah, yeah. I'll stop blocking ads when advertisers stop being complete fckwits about making annoying ads, and/or when hell freezes over, whichever comes first.)

There are a few valid points Rutlege makes. Many of the navigation elements are little (or never) used by me, including the left and top sidebars.

I want my microcontent.* That means a brief story summary. I have an RSS reader and subscribe to the NY Time site on it. I rarely read it. Why? Because there's no microcontent. For most news stories, the first paragraph is all I need (actually, in all absolute truth, the headline itself is far too much). If I want to read more, that paragraph really helps make the decision to do so. Jacob Nielson's covered this topic very well.

Presenting the content on the homepage, while making for dense page, does make a good jump point. My eye can scan far more quickly than I can click back and forth through pages.

The classic wastes of time for me on the Times are:

- Video content. Really, text tells the story far more quickly most of the time. A video feature can be a benefit (and for some rare stories it's hugely useful), but I _don't_ think it belongs on the homepage.

- The "Talking Heads" features. There's something in how these are set up that frequently makes for a compelling lede, but fails to deliver. The format just doesn't work for me.

- The formulaic three-headlines-per-section on the front page. Some days some sections deserve far more news, and some sections (sorry, but "Dining", "Fashion", and "Automobiles" hold little or no interest) deserve none. To me.

Rutledge has succeeded in vastly simplifying the Times's front page. By removing most of the informational content and utility from it. His design works for mobile (and as he notes, the Times has a good mobile site). It's not a good full-featured site design.

dotBen 1 day ago 0 replies      
I was involved in a major redesign of the BBC News Website - when it went form a sigle column approach to the current two-dimensional layout.

What is interesting about Andy's designs is that he's basically taken the current thinking in 'modern' news website design (two dimensions) back to the single column layout. I think this is a fundamental flaw in his design.

People come to a news front page to see the editor's prioritization of the days news agenda. With a single column approach it is very difficult to editorially prioritize stories of similar importance. It works for blogs because they don't have an editorial prioritization as they usually sort by chronological order.

Two-dimensional layouts, like NY Times and BBC, allow for editors to give several articles (perhaps a politics story, a business story and a sport story) equal visual importance. If you have a mainstream appeal you need to be able to give different audiences something of relevance.

sjwright 1 day ago 1 reply      
Andy's redesign is a disaster for various reasons stated by others, but this is possibly the most important and underlying reason for its failure: The existing design visually demonstrates that 'there's a lot going on here'. His does not.

He failed to communicate the good type of busyness in his re-imagining -- the redesign makes the site look like a five-articles-a-day blog.

catshirt 1 day ago 0 replies      
so, remove the ads... and replace them with infographics?

forgive me for being crass but this whole post seems naive. don't get me wrong, it's pretty; but we're talking about the new york times. i think this is more accurately "andy rutledge redesigns nyt for andy rutledge". which is fine, but not at all the same thing.

"broken news" is a big claim. i'm not sure a sleek blog theme is going to fix it.

natesm 1 day ago 0 replies      
The iPhone example is funny because Apple themselves used the New York Times as the example in their "it's not the mobile Internet ... it's just the Internet" advertisement.


verisimilitude 1 day ago 0 replies      
I really think this looks amazing. It would likely function amazingly well, too.

However, for this to work, you have to eliminate the space for ads. To deal with this, Rutledge suggests "Quality news is subscription only. You pay for valuable information. Fluff you get for free."

I somehow don't think it's that simple.

If you slam the digital door shut (much more than it is now at the Times), and only allow subscriber access, you'll do two things:

(1) vastly reduce your readership; if you want to go back to showing ads, you can't, because you no longer can brag about the vast numbers reading your website daily
(2) create a hyper-focused pirating scheme around disseminating NYTimes content for free

I love news. I love good reporting. When I'm no longer a student, I'll pay to get the Times at home. BUT, we've got a serious problem here; this design, while well thought-out, fails to acknowledge that it can't exist (eliminating ads) without changing the industry (changing readership drastically).

I very much look forward to seeing this movie: http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/page_one_inside_the_new_york... which touches on these issues.

lukeschlather 1 day ago 0 replies      
>The Times politics page. I think the object of the game must be to fit as much “content” onto the page as possible in an effort to overwhelm the reader, tricking them into believing that the NY Times is just bursting with a mindbogglingly-bottomless array of important information. If only the reader could learn to ignore 60% of what's here, she might have a chance at a pleasant experience. Please stop helping. What you've got here is not content, but noise.

You can't get a good coverage of world events in the number of items that Rutledge wants. The world is noisy, and what Rutledge is suggesting vastly oversimplifies. I'm sure it would convert wonderfully, raise ad revenue, all that. It wouldn't be good journalism. Even if the NYT is full of pointless noise, it's still better than a handful of painstakingly crafted articles. A handful of pretty, well-formed articles cannot accurately reflect a disordered world. If the NYT isn't noisy it's not doing its job.

jamesteow 1 day ago 0 replies      
As one of the designers of a major news organization redesign, it's very nice to do a pretty page but to honestly think you can get away with no ads is a not only a losing battle but one that doesn't take the needs of the client seriously.

I also like how the NYT's website looks like a newspaper with a variety of content. The redesign looks like a Wordpress template.

tjogin 1 day ago 1 reply      
I think Andy's design is very stylish and presents the content in a tasteful way. I have no significant qualms about his design in any way.

When he goes into business territory, however, he loses his shit. This is the money quote:

"Since news is accessed only via subscription, most of the ads can be eliminated from the pages. Story pages could still have one or two tastefully-presented ads, but preservation of the content is what will keep readers happy, engaged, and willing to continue paying their subscriptions…just like in olden times."

People didn't pay for news in the olden times. They paid for printing and distribution, and then the advertisement covered the rest, with some tiny variations on that theme. Not significantly different from today.

If you were to make the content subscription only, and some publications have tried this recently, you'd lose 90% of your readers. That means also losing 90% of your ad revenue. Now the remaining 10% of your readers need to make up for that loss. That makes it a rather expensive subscription, losing a lot more subscribers, and around it goes, the vicious circle.

That doesn't mean digital news isn't horribly broken, it is. Just that making it subscription only isn't the solution.

flocial 1 day ago 0 replies      
The design has its moments but I actually like NYT. The only thing I would like more is fixed dimensions for items on the front page, maybe 2 column layout with both sides perfectly aligned per item. The draw of newspaper sites is both the quality content within articles but the curation of articles themselves so having everything in uniform lists is too confusing. Additions I wouldn't mind are most tweeted or tweeted by your friends type social media integration.

If design was the only thing killing the newspaper industry their problems would be solved.

solipsist 1 day ago 0 replies      

  Popularity has nothing to do with news

If you've been on the internet before, you'll know this is not true.

prayag 1 day ago 0 replies      
The problem with such a post is that it violates the first principle of user centered design. Talk to your users. Did anyone tell him that NYT is broken? Did he go and ask a single user who goes to NYT everyday to figure out what his problems are? Or saw him use the site.

It's easy to re-design something from outside in. It's much harder to design it inside out when you have a more complete picture of what users are doing and have a rough idea of what they want.

rayboyd 1 day ago 0 replies      
Martin Belam (IA guy at the Guardian) wrote an excellent rebuttal to this yesterday. http://www.currybet.net/cbet_blog/2011/07/andy-news-redux.ph...
dasil003 1 day ago 0 replies      
Andy is a talented designer, but his style shows through a bit too strongly here. He knows how to utilize whitespace to create an aesthetically pleasing visual flow, but I don't think he pays enough respect the essence of a newspaper"namely density of information.
petercooper 1 day ago 0 replies      
I suspect that while this is a reasonable and logical redesign, it misses out on some non-rational behavior of the majority of people who read news. I know that, non rationally, I quite like a bit of "jumble" from my newspapers and news sites so I can just "wander" around from thing to thing for a while. The redesign showed here turns it more into a blog and I think I'd have trouble wandering around it.. I'd need to know what I was looking for.

I dislike the Daily Mail but I know their site is almost entirely driven by numbers and what catches on (and what doesn't): http://www.dailymail.co.uk/ - it has a certain formula to it but it still has an element of randomness and chaos because, I suspect, that's what readers are going for, whether we like it or not.

newhouseb 1 day ago 0 replies      
To me it is incredibly important that an abstract is presented up front before I click through to the article. For other news sites (like CNN) that are more about breaking news and less about well written and researched journalism - just the headline is fine (because chances are the article won't say much more than the headline).

NYT's strength is that it is a professional journalistic organization and thus taking words _off_ the page would only serve to betray the value that the NYT offers.

yarone 1 day ago 0 replies      
Andy's designs look beautiful, but I'm reminded of the old saying: "No battle plan survives contact with the enemy".

I'm afraid that if you take his designs as a starting point, and revise them based on the needs of the NYTimes and the expectations of its millions of visitors, they would require a large number of changes and would more closely resemble the current NYTimes.com

josscrowcroft 1 day ago 2 replies      
Am I the only one who thinks his 'redesign' just looks like any other blog?
code_duck 1 day ago 0 replies      
This is in the vein of just about every 'xx person redesigns yy site'. The elaborate comments from others have done a better job than I could of laying out the details. I don't know why people insist on publishing articles such as these. Oddly, as in in this case, often they end up with a pleasant, but rather common looking, design which is blissfully unaware of all the different constraints and special issues that guided creation of the original.

The conclusion of this article is a rather bland design, in my opinion, which looks like 50 other sites out there and has no space for ads. Hardly worth the wall of text created to herald it.

spacemanaki 1 day ago 0 replies      
"If you're using an app to deliver content, you're doing it wrong."

He's completely wrong about this. I love the NYT Android app. I can start it at home, while I have decent coverage, and am then able to read the paper any where I am throughout the day, including the subway, because it caches every story on sections you open, even if you don't open those stories. It's one of my favorite Android apps because of this.

brownie 1 day ago 0 replies      
The one thing I dislike (on the main page at least) is the separation of news and opinion/analysis. I can't think of many times where I've visited a news site and wanted to read only opinion or only news, but I can think of times where I've visited a site to read about a particular story - and read related articles that happen to be opinions/analysis.
prawn 1 day ago 0 replies      
Design is always so much easier when you don't have to incorporate ad spots. Very naive.
rs 1 day ago 1 reply      
Not to be a pain, the design is good, but there's no place to actually put an ad, considering the advertisements are one of their sources of revenue
webjunkie 1 day ago 0 replies      
He designed a blog... the whole of NYTimes ist not a blog.
niels_olson 1 day ago 0 replies      
A few years ago, I laid out head-to-head comparisons of the top newspapers in the US with and without adblock and noscript. NYTimes, on a screen, is easily the best newspaper. Unfortunately, the pressure of jamming more and more links and stories above the fold seems to have eroded the NYTimes usability.


We should do a poll too: I think a lot of netizens would support NYTimes to the same degree they do NPR, but I don't think the average netizen donates $260 to NPR annually (the price NYTimes is asking for their tablet app).

antidaily 1 day ago 0 replies      
Digital news is broken

/rolls eyes.

TamDenholm 1 day ago 0 replies      
Got to say that is a really beautiful redesign. Someone go and make this functional or i will...
spullara 1 day ago 1 reply      
Not entirely different than Yahoo! News is designed on the desktop and on mobile. http://news.yahoo.com
sgdesign 1 day ago 0 replies      
While we're on the subject, I recently did a news site design myself, even though it's not my main area of expertise (I'm more of a UI designer). I can attest that news sites are probably among the hardest sites to design, since there are so many parameters (and yes, ad units are very important!).

Anyway, I'd love to get some feedback on the design:


MrAlmostWrong 1 day ago 0 replies      
There is no need to redesign when you can read the NYT in basically any format of your choosing with the NYT Skimmer:


danso 1 day ago 0 replies      
"Since news is accessed only via subscription, most of the ads can be eliminated from the pages. Story pages could still have one or two tastefully-presented ads, but preservation of the content is what will keep readers happy, engaged, and willing to continue paying their subscriptions…just like in olden times."

Rutledge hasn't apparently visited the NYT often and maybe hasn't picked up a newspaper in awhile.

1. Not all of the NYT's traffic is through subscribers: it lets the average user access at least 20 articles a month, and its "paywall" is very permeable.

2. Even when you pay full price for an issue at the stand, that newspaper still comes with ads. Subscriptions have not accounted for the entirety of newspapers and magazines revenues in a while...

ImperatorLunae 1 day ago 0 replies      
I think the object of the game must be to fit as much “content” onto the page as possible in an effort to overwhelm the reader, tricking them into believing that the NY Times is just bursting with a mindbogglingly-bottomless array of important information.

That's just what paper newspapers look like. I don't think that's an accident, either.

robgough 1 day ago 0 replies      
Why haven't news sites like this tried the "spotify" model. Where you can pay to have the ads removed?
RossDM 1 day ago 0 replies      
Those look nice, but I still prefer Google News' two-column layout. I can't stand when news organizations try to force everything into a single Twitter-like stream (Google News included).
karl_nerd 1 day ago 0 replies      
Oliver Reichenstein, a swiss/japanese news designer, has been writing about some similar thoughts: http://www.informationarchitects.jp/en/business-class-news/
benjash 1 day ago 0 replies      
Seems odd that he points out that the business model is broken.

Yet, doesn't make any room for advertising on his redesigns.
The main source of income for most newspapers.

Jason757435 1 day ago 0 replies      
Anyone else see the irony in the fact that the very bottom of Rutledge's web page where this article is found is improperly formatted on the iPhone (background color not extended far enough to the right to cover all offered links). Petty? Yes, but if you're going to blast away at NYT, you better make sure your house is in order.
AverageAtasi 1 day ago 0 replies      
Looks ok, but I'd rather them use shitty design than take advice from a right-wing asshole.
bryanallen22 1 day ago 1 reply      
For very brief, clean, non partisan news check out 24in60.com. It saves me lots of time and makes news fun for me to read.
EBay Patents 10-Click Checkout steve-yegge.blogspot.com
334 points by timruffles  5 days ago   40 comments top 16
dpapathanasiou 5 days ago 1 reply      
"The newly-patented buying system guides users through an intuitive, step-by-step process of clicking 'Buy It Now', entering your password, logging in because they signed your sorry ass out again, getting upsold shit you don't want, continuing to your original destination"

If that were a real patent, GoDaddy would owe Ebay millions.

corin_ 5 days ago 2 replies      
What I find most depressing is that you hear such moronic examples of patents that on reading this title a tiny part of me was thinking "well.. maybe..".

Not sure if that says more about the patents system or my awakeness, I hope the former.

revorad 5 days ago 0 replies      
Oh he's so good. I hope he's back.
InclinedPlane 5 days ago 1 reply      
Ebay is frustrating. They haven't changed the functionality or even the fit and finish of their site substantially for about a decade. They're still the de facto leader in online auctions but I feel as if they're slowly being bled by a lot of more specialized sites (amazon, craigslist, etsy, etc.)
locci 5 days ago 2 replies      
Yeah, but what if someone comes up with a 9-click checkout?


scottkduncan 5 days ago 1 reply      
I bid on something on Ebay for the first time in years this week and although I didn't win and make it to the infuriating checkout process, I was still amazed at how frequently I had resupply my user name and password. When you go back to a site like Ebay you realize how far some other parts of the web have come in promoting user-friendliness and how much some sites are being left behind.
marknutter 5 days ago 1 reply      
Man, this space is ripe for disruption.
craigmc 5 days ago 1 reply      
Fantastic! I used to do lot via the eBay platform as a "Power Seller", and I always thought they were a most bizarre company: one part incredibly innovative, one part money-grabbing corporate and one (big) part terrible UI/UX designers. Glad to hear nothing has changed....
tlrobinson 4 days ago 0 replies      
Has anyone tried to patent the 1-touch checkout for touchscreen devices?
d4nt 5 days ago 0 replies      
For a minute there I though this was going to be a real attempt at challenging amazon's 1-click buying patent by patenting the non-1-click approach. This was funnier though.
Produce 5 days ago 3 replies      
I honestly couldn't tell if this was satire or real for a while. It looks like satire, smells like it, tastes like it but it really isn't. EDIT: It really is satire. Some damn good satire, had me fooled.
Raphael 4 days ago 0 replies      
End patents.
rwtaylor 5 days ago 0 replies      
... ?
swah 5 days ago 1 reply      
When I saw this in my RSS feed, I thought it was spam, the text being so strange.
melvinng 5 days ago 0 replies      
Didn't amazon did something similar? All of this patents are so closely linked if someone sues, it will start a war..

Look at the Apple vs HTC case..

sfboy88 5 days ago 1 reply      
I'd much rather use Amazon's 1 click instead.

One click and the item is at my house the next day.

Humble Bundle #3 is Live humblebundle.com
328 points by Dysiode  1 day ago   116 comments top 22
joshuacc 1 day ago 5 replies      
The way that they preselect an amount $1 above average is extremely clever. It appeals to people's need to see themselves as above average without costing them anything substantial.

Screenshot: http://screensnapr.com/v/QciSbr.png

thristian 1 day ago 1 reply      
For people who are interested in the business story behind the Humble Indie Bundles, the creators gave a talk covering Bundles 1 and 2 at the 2011 Indie Games Summit:


One of the take-away messages they had was "always target Mac and Linux, because it's a bit more work but you'll double your revenue".

sequoia 1 day ago 2 replies      
vvvvvvv is awesome by the way. You can try it here (assuming you have flash installed/enabled): http://www.kongregate.com/games/TerryCavanagh/vvvvvv-demo
cookiecaper 1 day ago 0 replies      
Always excited to see another Humble Bundle. I purchased right away and gave a greater proportion to Wolfire in hopes of encouraging further bundles sooner (not that I paid that much, but I don't have that much money right now :\). The Linux support is what makes this such a happy deal for me.
listic 1 day ago 2 replies      
A commenter on habrahabr.ru+ noticed (http://habrahabr.ru/blogs/gdev/124990/#comment_4110999) that there are Russian black marketers buying bundles for $ 0.01 and reselling for around 50 rubles ($1.50) that, unfortunately, may drive the average price down. Supposedly, people who can't be bothered to get a credit card or Webmoney account buy from them.

I'm worried how the pay-what-you-want model accommodates this behaviour? I hope clients buying directly for a reasonable price will always outnumber the black marketers or people intentionally buying for $0.01 to cause loss, but I don't know for sure.

+ habrahabr.ru is Russian IT news blog filled in large part with content translated from Hacker News.

jrockway 1 day ago 2 replies      
Interesting stats. There appear to be as many Mac users as Linux users, and Linux users pay 2x more than Mac users.

I guess Mac users spend all their money on OS upgrades :)

SageRaven 1 day ago 2 replies      
Lame question: What techniques are used to show real-time stats like that on a web page? I assume those are truly real-time, anyway.

I'm no web developer, but this feature really strikes me as cool in this particular instance. I rarely fancy overly-busy web pages, but these stats seem very nicely executed; interesting in and of themselves, yet clean and nice visual presentation.

jentulman 1 day ago 4 replies      
These bundles are all great. I keep pointing them out to my non-gaming friends as much as possible.

I've dumped my consoles in the last year and moved to finding 'indie' game devs like these because, as the old saying goes, 'It's not about graphics, it's about gameplay'[citation needed] and I don't care how many polygons you can throw at /next big game/ it is almost invariably yet another FPS.

neovive 1 day ago 0 replies      
I wonder how the Mac App Store and any upcoming App Stores for Windows will impact these various software bundles. Does the Mac App Store allow bundling? If not, this would be a nice add-on feature.
chanux 1 day ago 7 replies      
Linux version pays the best average amount. Is there any message?
BenSS 1 day ago 3 replies      
This is always absolutely awesome. I chipped in over average this year but I'm dismayed by the people throwing in less than a buck, you're just making the developers pay the CC companies!
r0s 1 day ago 0 replies      
Hammerfight is an excellent game, very fun and beautifully rendered.

I hope they make a sequel.

voyvf 1 day ago 0 replies      
I'd like to thank the Wolfire crew for making these marvelous games available at a reasonable price - and especially for the Linux support. :D
JoshCole 18 hours ago 0 replies      
The youtube video showing the youtube video was a nice touch. Recursion: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E4c6PWtE9mI&feature=playe...
kin 1 day ago 2 replies      
these are awesome, i just do a $25 and let them decide how to balance it all out. question though, any chance for an iOS humble indie bundle!?
tobylane 13 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm starting to feel foolish every time I look at a indie game in the steam store. Bought all four bundles, which are about a quarter of the steam games I own.
Indyan 1 day ago 4 replies      
The average is less than 5 bucks. That's simply pathetic. If I remember correctly, it was a couple of bucks higher in the earlier editions.
mgkimsal 22 hours ago 0 replies      
Anyone else get 'cogs' to work on the mac? 10.6.6, 13" 2010 mbp, and cogs won't start.
tete 16 hours ago 0 replies      
I don't consider myself to be a fan of that kind of music, but I always enjoy the Humble Indie Bundle ad. It's so awesome. :-)
twakefield 1 day ago 1 reply      
The promo video is fantastic. Reminds me of those car demolition show commercials:
slowpoke 1 day ago 3 replies      
As awesome as this is, I'm quite bothered with the payment options. As it stands, I can't pay even if I wanted. I don't have a CC and all of Paypal, Amazon and Google are utter no-gos for me. It makes me a sad panda that options like PaySafeCard aren't as widespread as I would like them to be.
hesdeadjim 1 day ago 0 replies      
These guys rock, they always do a great job on the pitch video too and this one might be their best.
How I Raised $350k as a Solo Founder using these 4 Email Templates toutapp.com
317 points by revorad  6 days ago   47 comments top 13
DevX101 6 days ago 1 reply      
I love how this post both educates and serves as a great ad for your product. Kudos.

How far along was your product when you were raising? Were you making any significant revenue at the time?

InfinityX0 6 days ago 1 reply      
This is absolutely brilliant. Incredibly well executed. I have never seen a post at once hybridize promotion and great content so well.
kordless 6 days ago 4 replies      
I hate getting emails that ask me for two or three time blocks that work for me. Be respectful of people's time and just pick a few times that work for you. If they don't work for them, they'll usually tell you what does pretty quick.
nostromo 6 days ago 1 reply      
I'd suggest removing the all-caps in those emails. It seems like it's just the author's style, but it can be a bit jarring when read without that context.
budu3 6 days ago 2 replies      
I think it's a great time to be a founder but at the same time I'm also worried about the exuberance that the current market place is showing when a sole founder can raise $350k by sending out a ~10 line email.
socialmediaking 6 days ago 4 replies      
I recommend using a free service called SpyPig to include an invisible image in the email that will notify you when the email is opened (if images are enabled). I usually wait about 10 minutes after the notification and call the client or lead and ask them if they had a minute to check my email. They usually say something like "Yeah you have perfect timing, I just took a look at it..." It's a pretty slick little trick http://www.spypig.com/ Good luck!
fuzzythinker 5 days ago 0 replies      
Side note, I find your right panel bouncing up and down extremely annoying. If you don't want it to be hidden when scroll, why don't you set it as fixed?
MetaMan 6 days ago 1 reply      
So you raised finance for a business based on an app which can be used (amongst other things) to raise finance for an app?


ed209 5 days ago 0 replies      
Reality check: the portion of the process these emails cover are not going to make or break a deal.

What would be more useful is detail on "During the fundraising process, I met a ton of investors both through soft introductions, straight out stalking and also through AngelList."

Once you have someones attention, the rest is down to whether they like you and the idea, no amount of email templates will solve that.

So come on TK, give us some detail on how you got in front of those investors in the first place ;)

tnorthcutt 5 days ago 0 replies      
To be fair, the email templates were ancillary to your execution, drive, and skills. Of course, they weren't ancillary to your product, in a very meta way :).
alexro 6 days ago 1 reply      
So, before raising capital you were an ordinary founder, but now you are a "fouder". Nice job!



Hisoka 6 days ago 1 reply      
Is the target audience for your product entrepreneurs, or salespeople in the enterprise?
techcofounder 5 days ago 0 replies      
The Moment Of Truth For AirBnB As User's Home Is Utterly Trashed techcrunch.com
314 points by ssclafani  5 hours ago   186 comments top 42
tc 4 hours ago  replies      
> I spoke to Airbnb about EJ's situation. They won't reimburse her for damages

This is bad news.

They're going to backtrack on this. The sooner they do it, the better for them politically.

I understand the problems of setting a precedent. And there really is no getting around the fact that the hosts do have the final responsibility for screening travelers (and travelers for screening hosts).

But rightly or wrongly, they're going to end up on the wrong side of this story unless they make things right for this gal and can tell Arrington and other journalists, "we've made sure our customer is whole."

After saying that, they can use this as a learning exercise for their community about how screening hosts and travelers yourself is important.


[Edit]: Is she in San Francisco? It looks like she is. She called SFPD. This is an easy one. Brian, Joe, or Nathan needs to be out there to provide a shoulder to cry on and an open checkbook to fix anything that money can fix. Nothing in that apartment costs more than the value of the ammunition this is going to give to their enemies.

The earlier they do this, the more quietly they can do it, which serves their purposes as well.

[Edit #2]: Some form of insurance might be a worthwhile addition to their offering, but that's something they can debate and decide on after they put out this fire. [added:] Also, insurance doesn't solve the safety issues involved here, so they're still going to need to emphasize the importance of screening travelers (and hosts) carefully.

[Edit #3]: EJ doesn't sound particularly litigious in her post, but consider what happens if she does decide to sue AirBnB and any part of it makes it to a jury. I mean, HackerNews is lining up against them. Consider what 6-12 normal people might decide. The wise move would be to make sure that she's fully satisfied with the way they treated her.

[Edit #4]: Arrington updated the article after speaking with Brian Chesky. Brian, Joe, Nathan and company did the right thing here, as you would expect.

danilocampos 4 hours ago  replies      
"I spoke to Airbnb about EJ's situation. They won't reimburse her for damages, they say, and they do not insure against losses. They are helping police track down the person who did this, but their help ends there."


Fuck. That.

I don't care what the long-term implications are, I don't care about precedent, I don't care about policy, I don't care about cost.

If my business does this to someone I make it right. Even if that means going into my own goddamn pocket. Anything less is simple villainy.

If you are going to enjoy the rewards of your business, you have a moral obligation to ensure that you make things right when that business harms someone else. And let us be clear: this is harm. This isn't "oh dear, my careless guest spilled wine on my TV. Buy me a new one guys."

This is "the guest you sent me destroyed my home and sense of safety." This is completely beyond the pale, an incredible stretch no one, clearly, bothered to imagine. Crucially: it's completely documented by law enforcement.

If it's true these guys aren't going to make this right, Airbnb is dead to me. Fuck Obama O's, to hell with their Cap'n McCains, and all the struggle that earned my admiration. I'd say that to their faces, I'd say that if I worked there, and I'd quit if I worked there and this wasn't made right. This is a test of human decency. I hope they don't fail it.

pg 3 hours ago 0 replies      
Before you all rush to judgment again, notice the update at the end of the article:

"Update: I spoke with Brian Chesky. He says the company has offered “to assist financially, find new housing for the host, and anything else she can think of to make her life easier.” He says they intend to “go above and beyond” to make the situation right for her."

mapgrep 3 hours ago 0 replies      
Sorry, but the moment of truth has already passed because the moment of truth was when Airbnb didn't bake effective safeguards against this sort of behavior into the very heart of their website for lending your home to complete strangers.

Honestly, if you explain the business model of Airbnb to any ordinary run of the mill US citizen not residing in Silicon Valley, their very first question is going to be, "Why would I trust a stranger in this situation?" Airbnb's response was a joke in their FAQ about a grand piano.

It shouldn't have been. I have rented vacation apartments in Europe and there are plenty of ways to do this RIGHT, starting with identity exposure. There should have been a set of procedures for people to identify and vet one another BEFORE completing the sale. Of course this would have meant that some Airbnb customers would cut deals directly with one another and screw Airbnb out of its revenue share. OH WELL. Safety has a price and a clever entrepreneur would devise incentives - rental history, quality public feedback and ratings - to discourage people from going outside the system.

This isn't just one incident Airbnb needs to respond better to. It exposes a deep flaw, not only in their systems for preventing these types of incidents but for responding to them as well (it took 14 hours and a friend's intervention to get a call returned from the "urgent" hotline, wtf?).

What is especially infuriating about this is that, in an effort to bolster their income statement and become a hot company, Airbnb has created very bad publicity for a FANTASTIC and growing form of lodging.

dotBen 5 hours ago 5 replies      
When someone first told me about AirBnB I immediately dismissed it - just like Fred Wilson did. It fell in the group of ideas which I just find puzzling because the concept is totally alien to something I would want to do/buy/participate in.

I don't get why anyone would want to rent out their couch or spare room to a transient stranger - even 'vetted' within a community (and we can see that vetted is very lose here).

Sure, I sort of get the appeal for the renter but I'm lost as to why a homeowner would want to do this - especially considering the risk/reward here. The upside is a few dollars here and there, the downside is $10k's of damage - like this.

If you've never owned a house, you won't know that it's a labor of love and something you invest more than just your money into. Why you would want to risk someone destroying it, I don't know.

AirBnB needs to offer insurance as part of the deal - just like the car sharing programs seem to have negotiated their own insurance for the duration that the other person is driving your car. Otherwise it just seems an unwise risk to offer accommodation on AirBnB.

jonknee 4 hours ago 1 reply      
It may just be that Breaking Bad is back in season, but it sounds like she unknowingly rented her house out to be a meth lab with cooks who probably used a bunch of meth in the process.

> The death-like smell emanating from the bathroom was frightening (and still is) and the bathroom sink was caked with a crusty yellow substance. Various pairs of my gloves were strewn about

kwis 4 hours ago 1 reply      
The only blessing in this story is that the miscreants made their damage so plainly obvious that the problems were identified quite quickly.

If they'd been a bit more subtle and a little patient, they could've engaged in massive identity theft and financial fraud without ever making it clear that AirBNB was the attack vector.

efsavage 3 hours ago 0 replies      
I own a summer home and I was genuinely considering using Airbnb next year. No more.

I can understand that they can't be too forthcoming, as people will trash their own place in hopes of a free remodel.

However, if law enforcement says this is a legit case and even caught a suspect, Airbnb should have had someone onsite with a check in their hands the next day. How much amazing free press would this have generated for, what, $25k? Even if they offered $5k to get her place livable again they could have demonstrated some integrity.

I don't know how much money they think they saved by betraying one of their business partners, but they should debit 5 or 10 years of my waterfront rental from that amount...

jerrya 5 hours ago 3 replies      
How long before AirBnB offers some form of insurance, much as ebay started offering buyer protection.

Related: how long before your home owner / rental insurance specifically excludes AirBnb type activities?

robtoo 4 hours ago 1 reply      
AirBnB is one rape case away from disaster.
skmurphy 4 hours ago 0 replies      
AirBnB will lose control of the narrative if they frame this on narrow legal liability grounds: they are too large and well established and will be judged by a very different standard than is this had happened a few years ago. This will be a part of someone's advertising and PR campaign, either AirBnB, a plaintiff's attorney, or a hotel lobbying group. AirBnB looks like they are mindful of the legal liability and oblivious of the public goodwill risks.
rwhitman 1 hour ago 0 replies      
So I definitely got partly scammed in NYC a few months ago by a friendly-seeming girl who found an apartment for the weekend on AirBnB and then promptly turned around and posted it for sublet on Craigslist as her own, raking in thousands in cash "security deposit" money from a number of un-suspecting apartment seekers.

I love Airbnb but there are so many loopholes for disaster like this. As Airbnb goes mainstream, I expect there will be many more similarly unhappy stories on their way...

ForrestN 4 hours ago 2 replies      
I feel really bad for all involved, including AirBnB. They must feel awful, and this is obviously incredibly stressful. I agree with the consensus that they have thus far failed to use this as a marketing opportunity (a la Tylenol) or even to mitigate much of the damage.

That said, I would be absolutely fascinated to learn how this is playing out. It would be a huge service to the community for someone to release a blow-by-blow timeline from inside the company about all these responses and the thinking behind them. I have enough humility to know that they have a lot of really smart people thinking through this stuff, and it's likely much more complicated than we all realize. I'd love to hear about that thinking.

patrickod 5 hours ago 2 replies      
Am I the only one that would have presumed that AirBnB would not be financially responsible? They're a forum for helping people find short term tenants. They can't possibly vet everyone who's going through the system.
helipad 4 hours ago 1 reply      
IMHO AirBnB is no more responsible than CouchSurfing.

Whilst AirBnB charges a fee, that's purely as middleman for connecting two parties.

Of course it's horrific for the person, and this is an extreme example, but it's a lesson learned of how to rent out a property.

Take AirBnB out of the equation, and they've just let a complete stranger free reign over their apartment with a key for a week whilst leaving their own possessions on view.

To not ask a neighbour to hold onto the key, or meet the person beforehand, or get them on video chat, or remove all sensitive documents, or require a deposit, or a way of monitoring the property, is negligent on the owner's part.

Could AirBnB do more to vet users? Sure. Should they be responsible for the combined actions of two parties? Not at all.

A tough, hard-learnt lesson for the owner.

arepb 5 hours ago 1 reply      
The part in here about the FAQ really burns, now more than ever. Language used regarding renter protection should be as forthright and above-board as that used in payment checkout. Just the facts.
watty 5 hours ago 2 replies      
Lets see if YC changes this title too...
AndyJPartridge 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Big discussion on this tragic situation here:
ArchD 4 hours ago 1 reply      
I found it ironic that the renter's 'name' is Dj Pattrson when I read this in a related article:

"This week, New York Governor, David Paterson, signed a bill outlawing the use of private dwellings as makeshift hotels."


code_duck 42 minutes ago 0 replies      
I can't imagine leaving my house for a week, to rent it out to complete strangers, with all of my possessions in it. I'd be afraid they'd rifle through m belongings and perhaps steal some, or even something like this would happen. Maybe they'll copy the keys and come back and rob the place three weeks later. How would one be sure? All in all, being an AiBnB host is a questionable enterprise.
da5e 2 hours ago 0 replies      
Arrington reported on her blog post and didn't get his facts straight about the financial help. What he quoted as an update was, in fact, already stated. The impression he gave of airbnb's indifference was unfair.
lclaude01 20 minutes ago 0 replies      
Ebay had the same kind of customer nightmare cases in their early days and still are in business today.

The following news from March 09, 2001


hnsmurf 1 hour ago 0 replies      
If I were AirBnB I'd be talking to an insurance company right now about offering supplemental insurance to renters. AirBnB could make a nice chunk, the way Best Buy does when it gets you to purchase those stupid protection plans, and simultaneously offer users peace of mind that this will at least be taken care of if it happens to them,
dkokelley 3 hours ago 0 replies      
While the right PR thing for Airbnb to do is cover the damages done, I am a little disappointed by the Airbnb hate I'm reading here. Why should they be held liable for the damages? Were they negligent? Airbnb offers a service. They match renters with houses. Do they make any warranty as to the reputation of the renters? Go to http://www.airbnb.com/terms and read the very first section.

I'll admit that the victim has a good point about the secrecy imposed between the parties by Airbnb, but that's just a policy, not a liability, and it can be changed. It's like buying a car that isn't as safe as it could be. Sure you could pay more and get a very safe car, but as long as the manufacturer didn't misrepresent the safety of the car, you will have a hard time holding the company liable when you get injured in a crash.

PedroCandeias 2 hours ago 0 replies      
The news and the hotel lobbies are going to be all over this. VCs are probably tapping their fingers on the table.

Like others said already, If I were Brian, I'd have lunch with EJ, like, today. Whatever solution they find financially, Brian can't let ABnB's cool image turn all corporate and aloof by leaving this one to the lawyers and bean counters.

VladRussian 4 hours ago 0 replies      
>I was wondering, why is the reaction to this incident so different than the tech community's response to all of the CraigsList incidents? (Which include theft, prostitution and even murder.)

CraigsList isn't a party in the transaction.

>Seems like as soon as you pay for a service, your expectation goes much much higher.

How it could be otherwise?

dhbanes 3 hours ago 0 replies      
What about this from her own blog post?

> I would be remiss if I didn't pause here to emphasize that the customer service team at airbnb.com has been wonderful, giving this crime their full attention. They have called often, expressing empathy, support, and genuine concern for my welfare. They have offered to help me recover emotionally and financially...



ChuckFrank 3 hours ago 0 replies      
No brainer. Build insurance into the site. Renters can either opt for it or not, or AirBnBcan be provided it universally, their call. AirBnB needs to step up their protections. (my apologies if others have already suggested this.)
maeon3 3 hours ago 0 replies      
If AirBnB comes to the rescue with lots of zeros on their donations to make the person whole. I can envison people taking advantage of this, Have your buddy ransack your house and steal all your stuff, then split the gain of having it all replaced.
da5e 1 hour ago 0 replies      
airbnb has had the advantage of having a mainly "geek" clientele so far. As it expands it's going to get less savory users.
aklein 5 hours ago 1 reply      
It's horrible but inevitable that something like this would happen.

I can imagine it'd be useful for a third party service that provides identity checks and insurance or escrow for AirBnb customers. Why play with fire (without hazard insurance)?

chrismanfrank 4 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm curious, how would you guys handle this situation if you were running Airbnb?
seagaia 3 hours ago 0 replies      
Most unfortunate, but letting a complete stranger into your house with VALUABLES was never the best idea, moreover, with a company that hasn't said anything about this kind of issue before. I suppose this system has worked, but it's beyond me how you could ever trust a stranger to live in a place that you live in regularly and store many valuables in.

I want to sympathize with the victim, but it's somewhat hard to given the circumstances. In any case, AirBnB should suck it up, fix this one situation, then go into full throttle with trying to come up with a plan to prevent future things of this sort.

Bogdanp 4 hours ago 0 replies      
I had to check the FAQ question about the piano. It used to be at http://www.airbnb.com/help/question/31 but they seem to have removed it.
luckyeights 4 hours ago 1 reply      
Anyone else find TC's stock image annoying for this story? I guess it fits the tone, but it twisted my imagination a good deal, even after I'd read the original story. A real photo would have been valuable, but a generic one is distracting.
JanezStupar 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Events like this present a pretty big moral dilemma about Internet anonymity - at least in context of this category of services.
forgot_password 4 hours ago 3 replies      
Doesn't AirBnb require a credit card from the renter? Wouldn't it be straightforward to find the vandalizing renter using their credit card information? I'm sure that I'm missing something here...
maxklein 4 hours ago 0 replies      
An agressive competitor (say, a hotel chain) could do things like this every month, and kill airbnb as a business.
jordank 4 hours ago 0 replies      
I wonder if there is a reporting bias for people who have had bad AirBnb experiences, given that renting out your apartment is not always legal.
ashbrahma 4 hours ago 1 reply      
Dream come true for a law firm. I bet they can make Airbnb pay up in court.
DrewG 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Not having used AirBnB, I was incredibly surprised that they don't have a policy like getarounds, where the owner is fully insured by getaround.
lhnn 2 hours ago 0 replies      
A related article talks about how David Patterson and the state of NY has made it illegal to rent your house to others a la AirBnB.

If people want to trust others enough to risk this sort of crime, let them. Get the fuck out of my life, State.

Google Deletes Last 7 Years Of User's Digital Life, Shrugs consumerist.com
303 points by tshtf  5 days ago   235 comments top 25
sgentle 5 days ago  replies      
I think there's an important lesson here that you can take home right now: If your primary email is an @gmail.com address, you have your head firmly in the lion's mouth.

You can backup your data. You can have fallback tools and services. You cannot backup your identity. And if that identity is controlled by Google, you are tying your online existence for the duration to the foibles of a publically traded company with a shitty track record of customer support.

Tell me with a straight face that you know Google won't mess you around like this - not just now, but for the next decade. Hell, tell me you know your account won't be algorithmically disabled tomorrow. If your last name isn't Gundotra, I don't think you can. Why, then, are you taking that risk when the cost is so small?

.com domains retail for about $10/year, Google Apps Free Edition is here: http://www.google.com/apps/intl/en/group/index.html - you can keep the services you like while retaining control of your email address.

Disclaimer: I have an @gmail.com address that I'm suddenly realising is a sword over my head.

c2 5 days ago  replies      
Google has a support problem. I'm amazed after almost a decade of offering services like email and advertising, they still haven't done anything to develop a reasonable support system for customers to address issues like this. Maybe they have a few open lines with their top 1% of customers but the attitude that "it's free, you are a meaningless statistic in our giant revenue stream so too bad" for the rest of their customers in unacceptable.

Your data in Google could disappear in an instant, and you may never know why. That is just scary to me. Advertising, email, - everything - with no one to call and no recourse to get it back.

I will be actively trying to move all my services off of Google starting today.

nhashem 5 days ago 1 reply      
I used to play World of Warcraft and I used a separate email address for all my WoW activities on web -- emailing, blogging, commenting on blogs, etc.

One day I was about to leave a comment on a blog when I got a message saying Google disabled my account due to the fact that they "perceived a violation." There was a little form I could submit an appeal/explanation to, and they said they would review my account within 30 days.

Being cut off from the WoW blogosphere wasn't the worst thing in the world. About three weeks later I did get access to my account. Turns out I was hacked and the hacker used my account to spam a bunch of people -- not surprising especially since I used a pretty crappy password. Luckily my actual Battle.net account was under my main e-mail address, so ultimately no damage was done.

Still, all I could think was, "man, if this happened to my main email address, I would be so incredibly hosed it wouldn't be funny."

Natsu 5 days ago 0 replies      
Why doesn't Google just give people a way to download their email & contacts after they've been locked out? I assume it's already bouncing any new email.

At least then, the guy wouldn't be completely screwed, and it's the sort of solution that scales, given that they're not interested in creating expensive support infrastructure for free products.

wccrawford 5 days ago 0 replies      
This isn't the first post on HN about this. The other one has the reply from Google.


GvS 5 days ago 2 replies      
Google+ makes getting backup of all your data really easy (https://www.google.com/takeout/). I'm really worried about Google horror stories but I like using their services, so I'll just settle with doing regular backups.
vaksel 5 days ago 1 reply      
I don't think we'll see a change in Google's approach to ignoring customer service, until they get hit with a class action lawsuit

The problem is with bots...Google automates everything, so they hit a lot of people with false positives.

eighty 5 days ago  replies      
FWIW, Brett Slatkin at Google reached out via Google+ to try and help this guy. Looks like they made the connect:


srl 5 days ago 0 replies      
I'm not sure why this problem (the general problem - the risk of valid accounts being arbitrarily blocked) isn't an easy fix for google. Most spammers/fraudsters seek efficiency, so just take that efficiency away. When an account is first suspected, start requiring a CAPTCHA for every email sent. Then, when the time comes to block, let there be an annoying but doable automated procedure for unblocking (perhaps involving emails sent from the addresses of several of your frequent contacts), with a time delay - after your first block, it takes 5 hours to unblock, after your second, 1 day, and so on.

It would reduce what is now a very scary prospect for people who (like me) put too many eggs in G's basket, to a minor inconvenience rarely encountered. And I can't see that it would make life much easier for spammers.

hannibalhorn 5 days ago 3 replies      
I use Backupify to at least maintain a copy of everything with a second, separate service, just in case. It's free at my volumes, and I think a prudent idea for those of us with everything in "the cloud".
ditojim 5 days ago 0 replies      
i wouldnt be surprised if it turns out he did something to violate google's tos.

regardless, they need to communicate with their users if they close an account, and give users an opportunity to take their data.

mark_l_watson 5 days ago 0 replies      
I also rely on Google for most online services but I do take a few precautions: I use my own domain for email and route it to GMail and configure outgoing email to look like it is from my domain, I backup GMail, Docs, Blogger blog, and Picasa on a regular basis, and I route my Blogger based blog to blog.MYDOMAINNAME.com.

Sure, it would be awful to lose my Google account but I could recover from it.

6ren 4 days ago 0 replies      
Maybe "reverse backup"?

Instead of using the cloud to backup your local data, backup your online identity locally. 1TB is about $50-$100 now; and (e.g.) Windows 7 has backup built-in. Someone just needs to extend this to the cloud.

guard-of-terra 5 days ago 1 reply      
I wonder why google lets that happen. They don't have blog monitoring or something? Or are they too arrogant to fix a problem even when it's clearly there (for one person, anyway).

Or is it that you just can't find the one person responsible and empowered with the ability to fix?

Everyone have bugs (another use for blog monitoring), but this one seems pretty loud.

Same for facebook.

dfxm12 5 days ago 0 replies      
It's funny because this would be a feature for Facebook that people want...
ja27 5 days ago 1 reply      
It's a little old now, but I followed this and created a "backup" Google account a while ago, just in case.


16s 5 days ago 1 reply      
If you do anything remotely important via email, you should own you own domain name, and pay for a hosted email solution. I can suggest tuffmail. They are awesome and affordable.
dendory 4 days ago 0 replies      
Btw with Google+ this will only be more common. Now it's not just a matter of did you spam someone with your Gmail account or did you break the Adsense ToS... but did you post anything at all on Google+, status update, photo, link, etc, that Google didn't like.... boom, no more Google account for you.
dendory 4 days ago 0 replies      
This is why i have my own personal blog, and am considering moving from gmail to my own domain email
paul9290 5 days ago 0 replies      
Just forward everything to a comcast or ISP email address and make that forward to a yahoo address so you have multiple backups.
gerds2007 5 days ago 2 replies      
Startup idea: Sync all Google services with local hard drive
Limes102 5 days ago 0 replies      
This is why I have my own server... If everything gets deleted, it's my fault (I should have been backing up). I'm not going to punish myself for not paying attention to my non-existent terms of service.

I recognise that with the 'cloud', comes simplicity... but I'm not sure if I will ever be able to let go of my own data.

nevinera 4 days ago 0 replies      
Headline suggestion:

"User trusts invaluable data to free service with no SLA, upset at inevitable result"

aj700 5 days ago 0 replies      
I lost very important data to stikipad.
He's ignored me on facebook when I've asked about it. When my inheritance comes through I'll see him in court.
rwolf 5 days ago 0 replies      
I cannot find that string in the linked article, or the TweetLonger post that the article links to.
What are you talking about?
Aaron Swartz v. United States harvard.edu
297 points by edsu  2 days ago   158 comments top 16
pmb 2 days ago  replies      
This whole thing weirds me out. Here we are on Hacker News, and yet there is a super-large contingent of people going "Well, he DID technically commit a victimless crime...".

So yes - he did do something that was against some terms of service. But jail time? For breaking a clickthrough "license" and computer hacking at MIT in the service of public knowledge? This sucks unutterably.

MIT: Playful physical hacks okay, but don't try to mass harvest the knowledge of the world or the DOJ will come down on you like a sledgehammer.

JSTOR: All the world's knowledge, as long as you don't try to access all of it.

DOJ: We'll break you just because we can (or for other reasons that we are not stating).

Hacker News: Well, they do have a point - he did access semi-public data in a non-approved way, and he had to plug into the network in a strange way to do it.

ender7 2 days ago  replies      
I don't understand why people are bringing issues of the availability of scientific journalism into this. I agree that the prices and paywalls involves are ridiculous and a bad idea for a variety of reasons, but that seems orthogonal to the issue here.

I don't think anyone is denying that Swartz committed a (possible series of) minor crimes. Claiming that "information should be free" doesn't stop them from being crimes. What's shocking is the response from the government, which appears to be using this incident for its own purposes rather than to preserve the rule of law. No one seems to really be asking why this is happening, and I think that is by far the more interesting question. Is the justice department trying to expand its reach, as the article suggests? Is this a deterrent for future "hackers"? Has one of Swartz's numerous hornet nest-kickings pissed off someone high up, who wants him removed from the playing field?

lisper 2 days ago 1 reply      
To paraphrase Feynman, this might have some relevance to the situation:

"...he also worked with Shireen Barday at Stanford Law School to assess “problems with remunerated research” in law review articles (i.e., articles funded by corporations, sometimes to help them in ongoing legal battles), by downloading and analyzing over 400,000 law review articles to determine the source of their funding. The results were published in the Stanford Law Review."

there 2 days ago 1 reply      
shouldn't that be United States v. Aaron Swartz because the US is bringing charges against him? Aaron Swartz v. United States makes it sound like he is suing the government, but there's nothing on that page that says he is.
anonymous246 2 days ago 4 replies      
Nice spin: he's been charged for "excessive downloading".

Way to ignore the physical break-in to install a computer directly on a network switch. I, for one, hope that he gets a criminal record at the very least (plea deal). This really puts the crime in a different league.

Unless I have my facts wrong, in which I'm willing to be corrected.

mark_l_watson 2 days ago 1 reply      
Empires in decline get progressively more brutal. Sounds like Aaron Swartz became an embarrassment so is being side-tracked from the good work he does.

I am not 100% sure of this, but I think this is probably true: similar to the case of Eliot Spitzer who as governor of NY was investigating Wall Street. So, I think that Wall Street had their lackey the US Government (via the FBI) dig up something on Spitzer to bring him down. I believe that this situation is called a plutarchy.

jrockway 2 days ago 2 replies      
Why aren't Google and Bing going to prison every time one of their bots crashes some web server?

(Perhaps because "systematic downloading" isn't actually a crime?)

perfunctory 2 days ago 1 reply      
> ... and Aaron faces a possible fine and up to 35 years in prison, with trial set for September.


> Under Norwegian law, Mr Breivik faces a maximum of 21 years in jail if convicted...


mildweed 2 days ago 2 replies      
Regardless of who was hosting them before and how much their hosting costs were that were used to justify the paywall, Google Scholar should be brought in to host them all going forward. They're out in the open, might as well put them to good use.
anigbrowl 2 days ago 0 replies      
So he's suing the United States now, eh? Because usually the first person named is the complainant. Getting the simplest and most basic details wrong like this is a reliable indicator that everything which comes afterwards is going to be similarly ill-founded. This is a prime example of the yawning gulf between blogging and proper journalism.

Kindly do not misread that as support for the legal status quo, JSTOR, or anything else.

plainOldText 2 days ago 0 replies      
I'm super curious to know if there is someone else out there who believes that there is a connection between Aaron's political activism and his indictment. Not that his political views would represent the major cause of his indictment, but still.
Anyway, just ranting...
darksaga 1 day ago 0 replies      
Well, Mr.Swartz should probably thank Anonymous and Lulsec for provoking the US Government. They're fed up and have determined whoever they get their hands on (minor hacking or not) they're going to drag you into federal court and make an example out of them.

This reminds of back in the 90's when there wasn't any laws in place to address hacking. But man, the Feds did not like kids making them look like fools. Once they got the laws of the books, it was open season on hackers.

I'm pretty sure the next few years are going to see a major crackdown on hacking again. Just like the recent arrests of supposed Lulsec and Anon members.

This guy will be lucky to get out of federal prison in 15 years.

mrich 2 days ago 0 replies      
To me this looks like a career move by the prosecutor who wants to get some convicted hackers on his CV, which will look good when it comes to promotion time as these crimes get more and more relevant. The US justice system seems to have degenerated so that prosecutors do anything to get some people convicted, as long as they are a) popular or b) it helps them in some way, regardless of the quality of thee evidence or the merit of prosecution to the general public.
mrschwabe 2 days ago 0 replies      
We must evolve & develop economic & political systems that eliminate the government's authority to railroad a person like this. It's disturbing and a blatant flaw in a free nation.
kgo 2 days ago 2 replies      
I'm just curious why someone who did this is still a fellow at a center for ethics. It seems like the whole situation, even if it's been cleared up with MIT and JSTOR, is completely unethical, regardless of the legal case.

Is the position tenured?

rokhayakebe 2 days ago 0 replies      
Correction: Aaron Swartz v Some Powerful Politicians or People Who Are Afraid Of What Playing With This Data May Reveal.
ClojureScript github.com
290 points by icey  7 days ago   85 comments top 14
runevault 7 days ago  replies      
Node.js + clojurescript just came up in the Demo. Part of me says awesome, another part says "How many hipster programmer brains blew up" <_<.

Overall I'm excited about this and anxious to see how far it can be taken, because if you can write an ENTIRE webapp in clojure is thought provoking.

funcall 6 days ago 0 replies      
ClojureScript is a fantastic piece of engineering. I'm the author of ClojureJS, one of the few Clojure libraries that implemented Clojure to JavaScript translation (with predictable scoping semantics). After having looked over the ClojureScript sources, I'm convinced this is a far more sophisticated compiler with a sound namespace strategy.

The namespace and compile time checks alone are worth the price of admission. Plus macros, which was the biggest motivator for building ClojureJS.

Suffice to say, if ClojureScript (in its current form) had existed 7 months ago, I'd never have considered building anything on my own. That's not to say I'm not proud of ClojureJS. It was born out of a real need that I had, and has been enhanced by some very valuable contributions by people who also shared my excitement for writing browser clients in Clojure.

I still need to understand the Google Closure integration impact, but from what Rich said at the ClojureNYC talk, it sounds worthy of study and adoption.

Kudos to Rich, and the Clojure.Core team.

vdm 7 days ago 0 replies      

> ClojureScript seeks to address the weak link in the client/embedded application development story by replacing JavaScript with Clojure, a robust, concise and powerful programming language. In its implementation, ClojureScript adopts the strategy of the Google Closure library and compiler, and is able to effectively leverage both tools, gaining a large, production-quality library and whole-program optimization. ClojureScript brings the rich data structure set, functional programming, macros, reader, destructuring, polymorphism constructs, state discipline and many other features of Clojure to every place JavaScript reaches.

sleight42 6 days ago 2 replies      
I'm both curious and surprised by the lack of comments/questions about the quality of the generated JS. Can anyone who has played with it speak to the quality? How does the generated code stack up against say Coffeescript's?
ivanzhao 7 days ago 3 replies      
Given a radical departure from the JavaScript core (comparing to Coffeescript), I wonder how easy the debugging would be.
markokocic 6 days ago 1 reply      
I havent look at the implementation yet, but the question that comes to mind is is this one step closer to "Clojure in Clojure"?
jgrant27 7 days ago 3 replies      
Now we have a "solid" Lispy alternative to imperative languages that compile to JS.

Nice surprise Rich !

robobenjie 7 days ago 2 replies      
I am a clojure intermediate-beginner who would like to use it to learn about web technologies, which I know almost nothing about. Would people recommend this as an entry point? If not what would you recommend instead?
andrewvc 7 days ago 5 replies      
I'm wondering if this has the refs, agents, and atoms that make concurrent clojure so awesome. If not, it would feel.... strange.
kennystone 7 days ago 3 replies      
It's interesting how closely tied to Google Closure this is. I wonder if that will present issues in the future. Regardless, ClojureScript has definitely made really smart use of it.
JoelMcCracken 6 days ago 0 replies      
The biggest reason I've avoided Clojure in the past was because of the JVM. I know the interop is useful, but I really do not like Java, and the whole thing just stinks.

This, on the other hand, I can get behind.

aidenn0 6 days ago 0 replies      
Currently ClojureScript numbers are just JavaScript numbers"

Boo. I'm sure this is for performance reasons, but JS numbers really need an overhaul.

schiptsov 6 days ago 0 replies      
Yes, pile it up! Now we all need Coffeescript for Clojurescript. ^_^
mo1stt 6 days ago 0 replies      
> ClojureScript seeks to address the weak link in the client/embedded application development story by replacing JavaScript with Clojure, a robust, concise and powerful programming language. In its implementation, ClojureScript adopts the strategy of the Google Closure library and compiler, and is able to effectively leverage both tools, gaining a large, production-quality library and whole-program optimization. ClojureScript brings the rich data structure set, functional programming, macros, reader, destructuring, polymorphism constructs, state discipline and many other features of Clojure to every place JavaScript reaches.
WebPutty: CSS editing goes "boink" fogcreek.com
291 points by acangiano  7 days ago   88 comments top 31
patio11 7 days ago 2 replies      
Fun stuff. I'd be tempted to either a) run a deployment step to freeze CSS locally or b) do some nginx reverse proxy magic to grab the latest CSS and cache it for a long time (I.e. only grabbing it from GAE once per revision).

That's a fairly consequential thingee to have on a server with availability independent of one's own.

If folks want I'll OSS code for this, although at a dozen lines in Rails it is barely worth typing git clone...

dolinsky 7 days ago 5 replies      
OK, I guess I'll be the wet blanket that goes thud here, but I really don't see this being very useful. In fact, I see it encouraging bad practices. Maybe it's because I'm approaching this from the standpoint of a company that has more than a few users coming to the site, probably (hopefully?) has an existing release process in place and has multiple stages of their environment to go through (sandbox/dev/qa/staging/live). If this is how you slap lipstick on your pigsite, then you're probably building a site that very few people go to and you don't even have a local version of your site to test against first (because if you had a sandbox environment this tool is pretty much moot), in which case I can see the usefulness of this tool.

Not sure how I feel about the inclusion of the link/script tags in order to make this work but it all seems geared to someone who maybe has their own blog or very low-trafficked site and this would be their alternative to editing the files on the live server.

sp332 7 days ago 3 replies      
Here's the transmogrifier storyline: http://members.shaw.ca/newsong/calvin.html

The "scientific progress goes boink?" line is from the duplicator story (which I can't find). The duplicator is the cardboard box on its side, which is obviously completely different from the transmogrifier. And if you turn the opening to the top, it's a spaceship!

SeoxyS 7 days ago 1 reply      
Not to rain on WebPutty's parade (I think it's a great app, and it looks sweet), but I think the problem has been solved much more elegantly a long time ago by CSSEdit: [1]


It's a really great app. Forget about the GUI css editing view and switch to the code only view, and enjoy live updating, and x-ray inspection.

[1]: If you use a Mac.

nlh 7 days ago 2 replies      
This looks nifty and all, and I agree that their two "options" (edit -> browser -> reload vs. Firebug cut-n-paste) are indeed two options that many people consider, but they seem to have left out two other options that solve this problem quite elegantly, at least for Mac users:

1) Coda has real-time CSS editing built-in, and you can relatively easily fire up multiple windows to edit in a "real" editor (if you consider Coda a real editor) and view changes in real-time as you type

2) CSSEdit does one better -- you can edit using their editor and see changes in key-by-key realtime in their preview window. OR, and this is how I've settled on working, you can edit files using the editor of your choice (MacVIM, for example) and still see changes instantly upon save in their preview. So it reduced the need to reload the browser (saving half the steps). Now it's just a matter of make changes, Cmd-S (or however you save in your editor of choice) and it's all updated in real-time.

vog 6 days ago 1 reply      
I personally prefer a different approach. I open both the browser and my favourite editor on the same desktop. I edit my HTML/CSS stuff and as soon as I hit "save", it is shown immediately in the browser. All you need to do is:

1. Add a <meta> refresh tag to refresh the page once per second. Alternatively, with one line of JavaScript you can refresh even more frequently, e.g. immediately after "on load".

2. Bonus: Use a tiling window manager such as WMII, which automatically adjust the size of your editor window if you resize your browser window, and vice versa. That way, you get some kind of "split mode" and don't have to struggle with resizing multiple overlapping windows.

In summary, using auto-refresh + tiling window manager resulted a big increase in comfort for me. Not only during CSS development.

A bit off-topic, but related: If your target runs in the command line, the Unix command "watch" is a perfect auto-reloader:

    watch --interval=0 your-app

For instance, debugging some PHP code by auto-rerunning the test suite might look like this:

    watch --interval=0 php run-tests.php

This gives you immediate feedback after hitting "Save" in your editor, without even having to struggle with your browser.

jwdunne 7 days ago 1 reply      
I don't know. The SASS stuff seems awesome. Though, Firebug can handle a lot of stuff that it's making out it can't.

For example, the article says that you have to do a lot of tweakage with the element inspector. This isn't 100% the case and I think that paints Firebug in a less than positive light. The element inspector is a really useful tool but you're just not restricted to that.

There's a CSS tab next to the HTML tab. This presents the full stylesheets to you pretty printed, editable like you would an inspected element. I can often author a lot of CSS in this window in:

a) A much shorter space of time.
b) Less amounts than I usually would.

Why point a? When you can see the CSS changing in real-time, you don't have to constantly refresh. Yes, there are ways to reload CSS and I use them often but it's not quite live like Firebug is. The second point is pretty much for the same reason: since you're making the changes in real time you can see exactly what changes what. This makes it less likely to over-step, in which you could be writing redundant CSS.

Firebug has it's downsides, such as it's clunky way of editing with pretty printing. There's also how it assumes the formatting of your CSS. You can use it in a similar way to an editor too but this removes pretty printing. Another big thing is the ability to lose work on refresh if you're not careful.

I can indeed live with the above. I don't think there are many instances where I would like to add in extra assets. I am quite a forgetful person.

Either way, the issues with Firebug can be patched over and I'm certain can be fixed. I don't think linking additional JS and CSS can easily be rectified with this.

What could be missed is the publish feature but not exactly ideal in a fair few number of situations.

This is from somebody who has to work on a lot of static websites and restrictions insist on pure CSS and HTML.

astrofinch 7 days ago 0 replies      
Here's a bookmarklet that reloads CSS only: http://david.dojotoolkit.org/recss.html
Flam 7 days ago 0 replies      
This is EXACTLY what I needed and wanted. I was literally about to code my own version of this today but decided to procrastinate and check hacker news, and I'm sure glad I did!

I even made a thread on reddit webdev about it yesterday:

ChrisArchitect 7 days ago 1 reply      
am I the only one to clicked this thinking it was some sort of SSH client...;-)
kaichanvong 7 days ago 2 replies      
To avoid a new browser to worry about... how about LiveReload? http://livereload.com/
cfinke 7 days ago 1 reply      
Couldn't the same effect be achieved through a bookmarklet that reloads the CSS for the page every 1/5/30 seconds? That would let you continue to use your preferred editor and browser, and the cost of reloading local CSS is slim to none.
ctek 6 days ago 0 replies      
It seems like the market for html/css tools is so vast, it doesn't seem hard to build yet another tool that can end up being profitable. I've been working on a grid-based rapid html prototyping tool
and I was looking to incorporate live css editing similar to this into it. Of course Fog Creek put a twist on it I never would have considered (editing/modifying css of an already live site). I'm very curious to see how (and learn from) how this will evolve as I assume this is their feedback/iteration phase.
Fzznik 7 days ago 1 reply      
I'm surprised at how many people don't know about a feature they probably already have, found in the Web Developer plugin for Firefox. The Edit CSS lets you see your changes live as you type. I use it all the time.
krashidov 7 days ago 0 replies      
Wow I honestly thought I was the only one stuck in the save -> alt tab -> upload -> refresh loop. I didn't know this was how some people were doing it. Great tool, trying it out right now
acangiano 7 days ago 0 replies      
pbhjpbhj 6 days ago 0 replies      
I've a framebreaker on my blog which means I can't use this without disabling that first. Not saying this is a huge problem just something that might not have been thought of. I guess the user would spot it pretty quickly.

Slightly off-topic, why is there a 350k image file that's dynamically resized (smaller) and only there for decoration. Slowed page load considerably for me (I'm having problems with my connection mind you). Pretty but way off optimal IMO.

plasma 7 days ago 0 replies      
Damn, was interested until I found out you need to include some external code at the top of the page.

Was looking forward to it just editing my css file I have stored locally on disk, so I could review the changes and commit to source control.

DTrejo 6 days ago 0 replies      

Vogue auto-reloads your css and you can still use your editor of choice (vim, emacs, textmate, notepad).


less.app auto-compiles your less whenever it changes. Similar tools exist for sass, stylus, and whatever other superset of css you prefer.

philc 5 days ago 0 replies      
I wrote LiveCSS for this purpose.


It's far simpler in that it just reloads your CSS continually. We use it all the time at Ooyala to put our favorite text editor and a web browser side-by-side and hack away.

richardofyork 6 days ago 0 replies      
I tested it and it works fairly well. Although, it is not exactly real time for me, there is a 5-second delay (could be my DSL connection) before the page updates.

It would be even more useful to use it with localhost, however, since I develop on my local computer and then upload the finished code to the server.

figital 7 days ago 0 replies      
I'd like to have something like this in a relational database. Probably just to try sharing styles across many different elements, sites, etc.
lovskogen 6 days ago 0 replies      
Sad to see alot of people thinking SCSS is the latest version of SASS, and not supporting the latter syntax.
calloc 7 days ago 1 reply      
This looks cool, but what does this have over CSSEdit? Will this work with internal only pages? Stuff like that?
marcf 7 days ago 1 reply      
For a second I thought it said it supported sccs... I figured that come on, at least go with csv...


swah 7 days ago 0 replies      
I suppose the alternative to solve this I really would to see is much harder to code: a text editor based on Chromium. But would it be snappy.
kang 6 days ago 0 replies      
Please increase the font or bold or linespace with icons at the last line of the article; should increase clickthrough.
ehc 6 days ago 1 reply      
Interesting, but I simply would never develop without a real editor. (Whatever a real editor is to you, it's not a text field on a web page.)
apalmblad 7 days ago 2 replies      

Doesn't seem to work as advertised in Chrome (dev channel).

Not bad, but I was never able to really get into CSSEdit, which is sort of what I imagine it to be similar to. A lot of missing editor features - or maybe it just not being vim.

My biggest gripe here is that I have to trust someone else to host my CSS. I just can't do that.

I guess I was hoping for a better CssEdit and it wasn't.

justhw 7 days ago 1 reply      
what if I need to add a div?
josscrowcroft 6 days ago 0 replies      
Google Labs Winding Down googleblog.blogspot.com
277 points by snikolic  7 days ago   73 comments top 26
ChuckMcM 7 days ago 4 replies      
The scary thing about that announcement are it uses the exact same terminology Sun Microsystems used. 'All the wood behind one arrow' being the most relevant. Since I know some of the ex-Sun, current-Google folks I"m guessing at least a few of them flinched reflexively at that.

That being said, I hope this does not mean they are killing off their research group. If they did I think it would be a colossally poor move on Google's part. While Google is famous for it's 20% time initiative its also infamous for having folks deny it or 'target' it (which is to say you can spend 20% of your time working on anything you want as long as it helps this department's goals) which made it difficult to be a source of innovation.

scottyallen 7 days ago 3 replies      
This doesn't come at all as a surprise to me. Google Labs was well known internally for being a graveyard for projects that, ironically, was really hard to launch stuff in. Anything that Google launches anywhere automatically gets a huge amount of traffic, and, because it has the Google brand on it, it's expected to meet a fairly high quality, stability, and scalability bar. In practice, this meant was never really possible to use Labs for throwing something up quickly to see if it stuck. This, combined with the maintenance overhead of keeping the various projects running (which were often grafted onto other larger codebases), makes shutting it down a pretty obvious decision.
forgotusername 7 days ago 0 replies      
We're deprecating our platform for releasing technically interesting experiments that don't make us money
russell 7 days ago 1 reply      
Corporate labs are funny things. Where would the valley be without Xerox PARC or America without Bell Labs? But from the corporate view they are fairly inefficient. They are a very academic environment, working at a leisurely pace, not at all like startups or even the lean-and-mean among established companies. Self-education and publication is as much a goal as improving the bottom line. Eventually the suits take notice and start reorganizing things to bring the fruits of their labor immediately to market. It happened at Bell, at PARC and at a lab where I was resident. Unfortunately, the shift in focus doesnt really work. The researchers cant shift their timelines. Partially baked ideas dont easily become marketable products and the future becomes sacrificed to the immediate.

If you want short term results, the policy of engineers working on their own pet projects 20% time is really fruitful, but the promising ones then need time and resources to become fully realized. I think thats where Google failed.

Maybe Google is inventing something better than Google Labs. I can see a successful approach being to sprout mini-labs around promising projects where the developer(s) get resources like additional developers, designers, market researchers, QA and the like. This of course sounds a lot like internal entrepreneurial startups, which havent been notably successful. I can hope that Google has something more innovative up its sleeve than the bottom line.

macrael 7 days ago 1 reply      
Relatedly, Steve Ballmer a few weeks ago at Microsoft's earnings:

"We increasingly are only working on things that are actually very important. The day and age of idle, smaller things [at Microsoft] is a little bit behind us. We're putting more energy behind fewer things than we have historically."[1]


jambo 7 days ago 0 replies      
I hope this isn't bad news for Swiffy, the very cool Flash->HTML5 converter they launched not long ago. Hopefully they'll commit to licensing the runtime so that people can continue to use their converted files. If they take it down, existing Swiffy conversions will stop working, and right now it says "All Rights Reserved" at the top of the runtime they host.

Anyone know if there are any plans to open source projects like this, or if there's a way to get in touch with someone who could do so? I've submitted feedback to their feedback form, but I'm not sure if it will be seen.


flocial 7 days ago 0 replies      
I remember a quote from the person who worked on Google+ before heading for Facebook saying "things got to bureaucratic and political" or something to that effect. It feels like a downward spiral or at least seems like a common pattern where an organization loses its agility (not to be confused with "agile") and starts compensating with cutting down.

Labs had an amazing run but Google surely needs to re-invent itself to handle the challenges ahead. Honestly, their setup is not that different from Microsoft where they have cash cows concentrated in several areas whereas Apple has more flexibility with a wider range of services without being spread out too much.

tomkarlo 7 days ago 2 replies      
Given the first-day issues with launching experiments under the Google brand, would it make sense for them to sometimes 'stealth launch' projects without an explicit Google branding? Experimentation is important for innovation.
contextfree 7 days ago 8 replies      
I don't know anything about archery, but this strikes me as a weird metaphor - is the amount of wood that goes into an arrow really what makes it hit the target?
ck2 6 days ago 0 replies      
I thought the new google was going to have more engineers in charge.

This does not feel like engineers in charge.

It feels like public relations people in charge.

brandonb 7 days ago 0 replies      
Sometimes you hear people say "we're like a startup inside of a big company." This is a great example of why it's hard to make that work. In a big company, you have one source of funding, and they can pull the plug at any moment--sometimes because your project is doing badly, and sometimes just because you don't fit into the overall corporate strategy this year. At a startup, you only die if you run out of money (which doesn't happen overnight), and if an existing investor says no, you can still raise capital on the open market.
redthrowaway 7 days ago 1 reply      
I liked the customization that Labs offers (undo send in gmail being a brilliant example), but I can see where they're coming from on the focus front. So long as I get to keep the features I currently have enabled, I'm happy.
zipdog 7 days ago 0 replies      
Given the issue of launching projects under the weight of the Google brand, I don't see why Google doesn't borrow the idea of Hollywood studios to just have a 'separate studio' brand for things that aren't ready for the big time, while still letting them go live to users

(I realize this is about focusing energy on Google Plus, I'm just concerned they won't bring Labs back)

bauchidgw 7 days ago 1 reply      
goodbye pagespeed / pagespeedonline / mod_pagespeed ...
usaar333 7 days ago 0 replies      
How does this affect existing labs products? For instance I use apps like Google goggles, Google listen, My Tracks, and Shopper
sharjeel 6 days ago 0 replies      
This isn't April Fool joke, is it?
acak 6 days ago 0 replies      
Google's '20 percent time' will still allow employees to keep experimenting.


natasham25 6 days ago 0 replies      
This is a big mistake for Google. One of the big allures of working for Google as an engineer is doing something that gets millions of views. Google Labs is one of the most exciting aspects of this idea, since it lets engineers showcase anything they create to millions of consumers. Now only products that are already in line with the Google products will have the same amount of publicity. This is a very sad day for Google engineers. I will not be surprised to see Google loose even more talented geniuses because of this. Goodbye innovation, hello corporation.
Shenglong 7 days ago 0 replies      
Does this mean I might lose my Multiple Inbox on GMail? ... I hope at least that one sticks.
shapeshed 7 days ago 0 replies      
so the strategy is we'll just buy innovation or we don't care about innovation?
rachelbythebay 7 days ago 0 replies      
Fewer arrows? Is that how you say "fewer sharp people"?
sytelus 6 days ago 0 replies      
More dead wood behind fewer sharp ideas.
traldan 7 days ago 1 reply      
Does this include Gmail labs? If so, fuck.
shacker 7 days ago 0 replies      
it really was just a matter of time.
invisiblefunnel 7 days ago 0 replies      
Google labs lab winding down
What happened to all the female developers? fogcreek.com
268 points by buzzcut  1 day ago   268 comments top 32
Locke1689 1 day ago  replies      
And she said that one of the things that happens is that women don't even think they're qualified for something because it's advertised in competitive language. The language of competition not only doesn't appeal to many women, it actually puts them off.

This doesn't make sense to me because easily the most competitive path I've ever seen is premed. Almost all of the premeds I know are competing for the best grades, the best resumes, and the best internships. Organic chem is like a giant free-for-all where everyone tries to beat the curve. And yet, at least 50% of biology and medical students are women. Why are women turned off by competitiveness in CS (which I think is less common in my engineering classes where people often try to help other people and don't compete for the best grade), but not in medicine?

Aren't we just applying cultural influences to both genders in either case?

blahedo 1 day ago 1 reply      
I'm so glad to see this message out there; a frustratingly small number of people are aware of the 1984(ish) peak in females in the field. My mom taught computer programming (Fortran) in a Chicago high school from 1967 until 1984, and was actually kind of surprised when I first asked her about gender balance issues in the field"they just weren't an issue then, and her classes were always more or less balanced.

But what they also were was everyone's very first exposure to a computer. Without exception, her students had never written any sort of program before, and they were recruited from good students in the math and physics classes, coming to programming with an open mind and no preconceptions. (A lot of them, girls and boys both, went into technical computer-related fields.)

The change, as has been noted elsewhere on this page, surely has to do with the introduction of computers, but my hypothesis is that it wasn't just home PCs (not in the 80s) but classroom PCs that were the problem: in a lot of places, computers in the classroom were a fad and showed up with no training of the teachers, so they sat in the back or the side, mostly unused... unless one or two of the students pestered the teacher to play with the computer, and then used the manual and/or trial and error to figure it out. Guess which students were doing that more?

But that, I think, wouldn't be enough. The knowledge should equalise after one or maybe two terms of college CS, right? But I'm pretty sure the real problem was that professors inadvertently reinforced and magnified the difference between students who'd had previous computer experience (primarily boys) and students who hadn't (of both genders). It turns out that as a teacher, it's very, very easy to look around the classroom, see that X% of the students seem to be getting something, and decide to move on. (You can't wait for 100%, usually, so it's always a judgement call.) That's fine if it's something you've taught well and only the weak students are struggling, but what if it's something you absentmindedly glossed over? Half the class understands it, so you must have covered it, right? This is very insidious, and even being aware of it is not always enough to combat it; and if the divide of "has experience" vs "no experience" partially reflects a gender divide, that divide will only get reinforced.

joe_the_user 1 day ago 1 reply      
I worked many years ago as a substitute teacher in Oakland, CA. During that time, there was interesting pattern. The vast majority of the older teachers were black and the vast majority of younger teacher were white. At a glance, this would seem strange given that discrimination was being actively attacked. But what was happening was more socially prestiges opportunities were opening for black college graduates and so few of them wanted to go into teaching, a field with less prestige than, say, law or business.

I suspect something different but with related qualities is going on with women and programming.

* Women now have more and more opportunities in a number of fields (I recall a statistic claiming the average income of a young woman college graduate in New York was higher than that of the average male college graduate).

* Programming has become a less desirable, less socially prestiges occupation.

* Programming became a more hobby-based occupation - the expectation is more that a programmer have been tinkering with computers forever and thus (as per the article).

* Programming became a more male-identified occupation through the media and through the hobby aspect.

* Age discrimination pushes the previous women programmers out of the field (and contributes to the field losing social prestige).

true_religion 1 day ago 3 replies      
It's my understanding that in the early days working with computers was considered manually labor, something akin to data-entry of today. The "real" scientists and business people would instruct their CS conterparts to do a task, and how that task was accomplished was neither interesting nor remarked upon.

As computation became cheaper, CS still retained many qualities of data entry especially in the business sector.

As such, the whole profession was looked down upon. Men didn't want to enter it since after all they could simply be scientists and businessmen instead. So those who took it up were first women, then social outcasts (I'm exaggerating a bit here).


Around the 90s, everything started changing.

CS was still looked down on, but computing was so cheap and easy that you didn't need to trust it to someone with a specific degree to do so.

As such, the scientists and business people I remarked upon earlier began using their own computers. And where they didn't, they didn't hire someone with a CS degree to do it.

Also, the programming aspects of CS were better separated from data entry. Programmers which once were reviled, now could command healthy incomes and thus it became an attractive job for men.

Women on the other hand could get any job they preferred, and did prefer to get jobs in their own interest instead of CS which they might have only taken before because it was one of the few 'low class' labors that still made use of the mind and education.

curtis 1 day ago 2 replies      
I wonder what the percentage of high school graduates who can program is, broken down by gender. My guess is there's close to an order of magnitude more 18 year-old males who can program than there are 18 year-old females, at least in the U.S., anyway. Furthermore, I'd guess that many if not most 18 year-olds who can program (male or female) are largely self-taught.

My thesis here is that teenage boys are much more likely to learn to program on their own than teenage girls are, regardless of raw aptitude. This might be true of technical skills in general, but programming (I would contend) is unusual in how easy it is to learn on your own.

This is just a hypothesis on my part, and I don't have hard numbers to back it up. It's a question I'd like to see asked, though.

diolpah 1 day ago 4 replies      
A cursory look at the graph indicates that the only place women suffered was on their own code. Resume, phone skills, interpersonal skills, all great.
flocial 1 day ago 0 replies      
Forgot where I read it but like true_religion said, some female programmers came into the field by way of secretary. As they kept typing instructions, they eventually figured out how computers work.

This photo set from Bell Labs taken in the 1960s is pretty interesting:


One thing to note is that despite computers being a novelty back then is that primary education was in a much better state and students had a stronger foundation in science and math regardless of sex. Many long-time teachers would say (with some nostalgia premium) that high school graduates of the 1960s are equivalent to college graduates of today.

Another thing that isn't touched on is that computer programming as it stands right now is not a very female friendly profession. Women will usually factor in the possibility that their careers may get derailed at some point by having a child. Careers where time away from the field doesn't obsolete your skills is a big plus for women. Medicine and law are excellent fields in that regard.

"Partly because it is so tricky to juggle kids and a career, many highly able women opt for jobs with predictable hours, such as human resources or accounting. They also gravitate towards fields where their skills are less likely to become obsolete if they take a career break, which is perhaps one reason why nearly two-thirds of new American law graduates are female but only 18% of engineers.

A study by the Centre for Work-Life Policy, a think-tank based in New York, found that, in 2009, 31% of American women had taken a career break (for an average of 2.7 years) and 66% had switched to working part-time or flexible-time in order to balance work and family. Having left the fast track, many women find it hard to get back on. "


peterwwillis 1 day ago 0 replies      
Why did I (a boy) get into computers? I was a nerd and I had one friend and no social skills. I played no sports and did nothing but play with action figures and watch TV - until I found the computer. I never gave it up until I grew up, and now it's a job and sometimes a hobby (when i'm home long enough to play with it). Would you say it's more likely or less likely that an equal percentage of girls to boys would have similar experiences? Or would you say that girls might just have an easier time socializing and might be less prompted to lose themselves on the computer?

Why do we even care about which sex works more in that field? If we had the answer to this question, and somebody decided to increase the population of women in the field... Is it going to produce better code or something? What's the point other than just playing with social structures for fun, or exercising some strange need to reach some kind of artificial equilibrium anywhere we see what we perceive as an imbalance?

tl;dr there's not as many friendless geek women and who cares who's coding anyway

dpritchett 1 day ago 1 reply      
This post is presumably part of the patio11 campaign to boost Fog Creek's SEO and conversion rates by publishing "content you can't get anywhere else". Looking good!


gaius 1 day ago 5 replies      
This question makes no sense unless it is also asked in conjuction with "what happened to all the male primary school teachers"?
pflats 1 day ago 0 replies      
"In the past year, the number of women majoring in Computer Science has nearly doubled at Harvard, rising from 13% to 25% (still nowhere near the 37% of 1984). [...] In the past three years, the number of female Computer Science majors at MIT has risen by 28%. And, at Carnegie Mellon, the portion of Computer Science majors who are women has moved from 1 in 5 in 2007 to 1 in 4 last year."

Focusing on the elite computer science schools obscures the overall statistic (which I don't see mentioned in the article). These schools specifically recruit and admit as many qualified females as they can into their program. At CS4HS, a CMU/Google conference for high school CS teachers, we were told as much, and tasked to do our own part to diversify our CS classes.

fauigerzigerk 17 hours ago 0 replies      
But the most common explanation is that the rise of personal computers led computing culture to be associated with the stereotype of the eccentric, antisocial, male “hacker.”

I think that's right, but the question is why girls did not use the opportunity that presented itself and put their own cultural stamp on it.

frossie 1 day ago 0 replies      
Irrespective of context, I second the recommendation for Red Queen.

As to the question, since my college years are in the "drought" years described in the OP: there is no way I would have done a CompSci degree in those days. The CompSci programme was in the mathematics department, and was primarily a pen-and-paper discipline (very algorithmic). In the meanwhile, the physics department had Vaxes! And Internet (well, DECnet at least). Nobody in their right mind who loved computers would have chosen CompSci over Physics.

Obviously things have changed now.

ohyes 1 day ago 1 reply      
"But that means that I can't really talk to my friends about the stuff I do for my classes, which is frustrating. Sometimes, there's a really cool idea presented in class, but it's only cool if you already know the background information to understand it " to grasp how and why it's cool. Trying to present enough background to explain why this concept is awesome during the course of a conversation really just doesn't work, as they don't get a deep enough understanding of the background to see why it's cool and spending several minutes attempting to explain frustrates me and bores them."

As a male software developer, this frustrates me too. You just get eye-rolls and snarky replies of 'flux capacitor?'

jwwest 1 day ago 0 replies      
I can barely put up with all of the jerks in our industry as a man, I don't want to think about what it would be like as a woman.
WalterSear 22 hours ago 0 replies      
For better or worse, the thing that jumps out at me from that graph is that the numbers all look similar until you get to the code review, where half as many women made the cut as men.

If this is a statistically significant difference, it speaks volumes.

kamaal 22 hours ago 0 replies      
While we analyze why there isn't much gender diversity as it is before. We must also understand how much the industry has changed over years. The volume of work that existed back in the pre - 80's era and now isn't even comparable. And with volume the culture of our profession has changed drastically.

If its your usual 9-5 job, where you have to apply routine steps everyday then it would have been OK. But being progressive in programming requires you not just to work hard(And in most cases working under difficult deadlines and overnight) you also have continuously keep learning and update yourself with things that come along everyday. This is pretty demanding if you have a family, kids and especially when you are pregnant etc. There are physical limitations in those issues. If I look at the way my career has been, I sort of had to stay and overnights and work on difficult deadlines many times over long periods. It becomes very difficult for a mother with kids to accommodate work and family in that kind of schedule. So she has to often opt to be one side. A general counter point presented to this argument is to ask the Project manager to be more come with a more accommodating plan.This is often not possible due to economic reasons, given the time, money and resource something needs to be delivered. This has nothing to do with male domination in the society, these are just unavoidable situations.

This is typical of many other professions. Why don't we find as many female cab drivers as male ones? Why don't we have as many frontline female soldiers/nurses?

Let alone all that, if the current biological situation was reversed. And men could stay at home(Do the house choses, kids, food etc) and women had to take all responsibilities of house, family, money and security for their whole life. How many women in mass(not individual cases) would be happy with such a tiring and demanding life?

Well I guess everything in the nature and the way things go have a purpose.

afims 1 day ago 0 replies      
Based on the handful of women I know who can program, there seems to be a few reasons why not many go into CS:
1) It seems they aren't exposed to it as much. They're less likely to read about it on the internet. Or learn about it from relatives. Or take classes in it.
2) The handful that I know who took programming in high school never (or barely) turned it into a hobby, even if they later declared CS as their major.

Meanwhile, I know tons of guys who got into programming by themselves, or because their parents did it. Also, all of the CS guys I know who took programming classes in high school did some outside of class for fun.

So, when some women become CS majors, they get intimidated. They see "everyone" outperforming them, since everyone is mostly guys with a pre-built set of skills. Even guys who are so-so at something quite frequently talk like they know stuff; that's just the way guys behave. This worsens the above impression. There's an actual culture difference. Can't stress the importance of this enough.

As a result, instead of thinking "These guys have years on me and I need to catch up and put lots of work in," many women think "I suck at this," and quit. Then next set has the same problem.

EDIT: removed a bit of unintentional italicizing

wisty 1 day ago 0 replies      
It could also be about riskiness. Computing moved from stable and secure to very risky and with nightmare hours, though I'm not sure when.
6ren 17 hours ago 0 replies      
Do the influxes of women correlate with industry stability?

Women tend to not like to waste their time, but men will take high risks for high returns (according to http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=2767867). So, men will explore, discover, invent. Some get rich; most get nothing. Women prefer reliable reward for effort e.g. law and medicine.

But the computer industry has been characterized by periodic disruptions of new hardware (mainframe, minicomputer, desktop), and while those revolutions were opportunities to make a fortune, they were not stable. Currently, the early land-grab of the web seems to have subsided and its future looks secure (e.g. smartphones aren't dethroning it). If we have entered a period of stability, it may be more attractive to women.

elehack 1 day ago 0 replies      
The pictures in the article show an old IBM-style computing facility, the domain of the sages in white robes who tend the machine. This raises two questions in my mind:

1. Have hackers and the hacker culture risen in importance and influence in the broader tech ecosystem since, say, 1985?

2. Has this resulted in a change of computing culture contributing to the decreasing numbers of women entering the field?

One of the things present in Levy's Hackers was that the vast majority of the movers-and-shakers in the hacker community were men. Roberta Williams was, I believe, the only woman mentioned in the book with any direct involvement in computing. Has that culture risen in influence, and is it (partly) to blame? The IBM terminal & mainframe rooms with their hospital-clean appearance don't make press much any more.

flomincucci 1 day ago 4 replies      
I'm a female developer. I'm not going for CS, but a Systems Engineering degree. I share classes with lots of women (well, in the best of situations, we're 1/3 of the total population of a classroom). Even knowing lots of women going for a SE degree, I can count with one hand the female developers I know. Most of them aren't interested in developing, but in functional analysis and leading teams.
maeon3 1 day ago 3 replies      
Of all of the female computer programmers I've gotten to know well and worked with (maybe 4 or 5), none of them were half as good as the average male programmer I've gotten to know.

Programming is, and always will be a male profession. The only thing that will change this is if we force women to learn programming, but even then you can't make them like it. I think the solution here is to realize that there is a physical pre-programmed revulsion to everything that Higher math, Physics and Programming have to offer.

ig1 1 day ago 0 replies      
"What happened to all the talented female teachers?"

In the 1960s teaching was one of the few professional occupations considered "suitable" for women, and as a result many of the best and brightest women went into education. As other occupations opened up to women this resulted in a huge brain drain, with the average ability of teacher to drop dramatically.

I imagine the same happened in programming as well, as women has more choices open up to them they naturally moved on to other fields.

almost 1 day ago 0 replies      
The sample size is small enough that I don't think there's any reason to believe that it means anything.
lutorm 1 day ago 0 replies      
If you plot women's share of doctorates in different fields, it's pretty telling that CS is the only field in which the fraction of women dropped significantly between 1920 - 1960. In 1920, 20% of mathematics and CS PhD degrees went to women, by 1960 it was down to 5%. It took until around the turn of the century for it to get back up to 20%. (See http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/nsf06319/)
sp332 1 day ago 1 reply      
Here you go: It seems like sometimes the family computer is bought mainly for the boy to use and then he's kind of forced to share it with his sister.

That pretty much explains it, doesn't it? Girls are discouraged from using computers because they learn from a young age that computers are the "domain" (property / territory) of boys.

cjzhang 1 day ago 0 replies      
I personally feel that women get turned off to CS and in general tech courses because they're male-dominated and usually somewhat misogynistic, which makes being in CS classes and interacting with CS majors sometimes unpleasant and encourages them to do something else.

In general, women are perfectly intelligent and capable of studying (see: women in premed, women in law, etc, etc).

CS isn't some mystical major that's harder than every other major ever (me, I'm scared of business majors; those guys are cutthroat), and I don't think "women can't commit themselves and women can't study the same way and women don't do research" is really a good explanation for why there are fewer women in CS than there are in premed.

fossuser 1 day ago 2 replies      
"In 1987, 42% of the software developers in America were women. And 34% of the systems analysts in America were women. ... the percentages of women who earned Computer Science degrees rose steadily, peaking at 37% in 1984."

While that's definitely higher, still seems like the field was male dominated (the majority were male).

andreiursan 1 day ago 0 replies      
my experience:
Where I work, on my floor we are either a proportion of 50% - 50% or 40%-60% (in favor for the Girls). Hey, but this is Romania, we don't have feminist movements and so on. Different society. Even in college we are something like 40%-60% (males win here) but we don't take it as a big deal... Btw found CS girls in college that were smarter than me on some fields of this domain :), and I know where to ask if I have a question about those fields.

other answer:
Depends on the "society" although while I was in the USA everybody was blaming it... and believe me is not because of it, is because of those who like to blame it ;).

Last but not least... my girlfriend is a developer.

ladyphp 19 hours ago 0 replies      
Asking why there aren't more female developers is like asking why there aren't more guys who go into nursing or more guys who wanna be fashion designers or a chef.

Perhaps its personal interest, societal view that industries like games and computers are more masculine...

Honestly, who cares if the developer is a chick or a guy as long as the application or site being built is useful

SanjayUttam 1 day ago 0 replies      
Totally off topic, but, is that Font intended?
What everyone should know about the human eye gazehawk.com
267 points by bkrausz  5 days ago   47 comments top 13
btilly 5 days ago 1 reply      
The information about faces and direction of gaze leads to an important tip on presentations. Always choose images that are facing your text. Flip the image if necessary to make it happen.

See http://perl.plover.com/yak/presentation/samples/slide023.htm... for an example of this advice being given. (And read the rest of that presentation if you have to give presentations - it is quite good.)

extension 5 days ago 3 replies      
What I was surprised to learn about the eye is that the area of foveal vision, the central part of the image that can see fine details, is about the size of a quarter held at arms length from your face. You can only ever clearly see a tiny dot, but your eyes dart around and paint a picture for your brain to show you.
Tutorialzine 4 days ago 0 replies      
This reminds me of a book I read a few years ago - Mind Hacks [1]. It discussed all kinds of interesting mechanisms that our brains use to fool us into thinking that we are always aware of our environment.

In the eye chapter, there was an interesting side-effect of the saccade movement - the "broken watch". This is when your brain fools you into thinking that the picture you see after a saccade has been the same during the movement itself. When you look at your watch and your timing is just right, you will be left with the impression that the seconds arm stays fixed for longer than it should.

I highly recommend the book - it really demonstrates our inner-machinery.

[1] http://mindhacks.com/

timmy-turner 5 days ago 1 reply      
The fact that humans like to look at faces and are pretty good at identifying differences between them has been exploited in http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chernoff_face.
dhughes 4 days ago 0 replies      
The best one was left out the blind spot everyone has where the optic nerve connects.

Wikipedia has a simple test: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blind_spot_(vision)

ristretto 5 days ago 1 reply      
There is also another kind of movements, smooth pursuit movements where the eyes move smoothly following a target. While we use saccades when reading text, an smooth page animation would trigger them. That's why i find jerky animations annoying and disorienting
eof 5 days ago 4 replies      
Somewhat related:


William Horatio Bates (1860-1931) first published his treatise, The Cure of Imperfect Sight by Treatment Without Glasses (title page), also known as Perfect Sight Without Glasses (cover), in 1920.

This guy has some kind of crazy ideas; but the general thing I learned from him is that the shape of the lens of the eye is a function of three sets of muscles that can be trained/relaxed to help vision come back to 'normal'.

A great read. The HN worthy title would be "hacking your crappy vision"

bobmoretti 5 days ago 0 replies      
anyone interested in this topic should check out Visual Intelligence, by Don Hoffman:


The book deduces a set of rules that your brain must follow in order to construct a (mostly) correct interpretation of the limited data that it gets. It does this with a series of experiments that the reader can test. While possibly no longer up to date on the latest research, it's simply a delight to read.

malux85 5 days ago 1 reply      
With my conscious perception being on the 'processed' side of my neocortex, I used to think that the human eye was basically a hi-res camera .. until I read Jeff Hawkins 'On Intelligence'

In the book he explains how our brain gets a crappy, distorted image from our eyes, and manages to assemble it using a hierarchy of cells [regions] in the neocortex. It's really interesting, I would recommend getting this book, it's only a couple of hundred pages long, and really opened my eyes (ha!) to how the human brain learns.

devindotcom 5 days ago 0 replies      
This was good. If you're interested in some further tech/visual neuroscience crossover, the intros to these two posts I made have some relevant information:



AltIvan 4 days ago 0 replies      
I do that all the time when people look at me. Look away like you are staring at something important; they very quickly try to see what you are interested in.
taeric 5 days ago 1 reply      
See... I have always felt the opposite. The various parts of your eye are much more like the various parts of a camera than people admit.

Now, your perception of the visual world is a lot more dynamic than a simple still shot, which seems to be what this is really saying. No argument there.

shawndumas 5 days ago 1 reply      
"[P]eople love to look at faces, but we often use them as clues as to where else to look. Following a person's gaze is almost a reflex. James Breeze demonstrated this really well in a blog post called “You look where they look.” His experiment was simple: about 100 people were shown a picture of an advertisement with a baby and some text. Half the time, the baby was facing the reader, while the other time, the baby was looking at the text. Breeze found that not only did the people shown the baby looking at the text pay more attention to the text, but they actually stopped looking at the baby faster in order to follow its gaze."
Infinite Mario in HTML5 fromlifetodeath.com
228 points by creativityhurts  4 days ago   72 comments top 22
JoshTriplett 4 days ago 3 replies      
This seems to have the same property I've seen in quite a few other HTML5 games: the arrow keys get used for movement but also still get interpreted by the browser to scroll the page. Both seem important: I usually don't want anything to break the arrow keys for scrolling, but on the other hand for something like this I don't really want the page to move around as I play. (Of course, for something like this perhaps the page just needs to become small enough to not need scrolling, which would fix the problem, but the general issue still applies.)
JonnieCache 4 days ago 3 replies      
The original java infinite mario was used in the fascinating Mario AI competition.

Details and papers here: http://www.marioai.org

Video of last years winning entry at work here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DlkMs4ZHHr8

It's pretty interesting, a lot of people wrote/are writing high falutin' machine learning algorithms, but they are consistently trounced by good old A* techniques.

beaumartinez 4 days ago 2 replies      
Its source is on GitHub[1].

[1] https://github.com/robertkleffner/mariohtml5

simias 4 days ago 3 replies      
It's very cool, however I have yet to find an html5 game that will let me change the keybindings. Think of the people who don't use QWERTY!
fiblye 4 days ago 2 replies      
I don't mean to sound cocky, but I don't get why people are still impressed by simple game demos in javascript. I've been working on a full Metroid-like game (some very old screenshots here http://ektomarch.com/games/) that'll have ~100 rooms, ~40 enemy designs, and a full plot for a year now and I've been doing it at a glacial pace, yet it's still nearing completion. How is it that seemingly nobody has made any real games in HTML5/javascript yet? We've had over a year of nothing but basic demos.
bprater 4 days ago 3 replies      
Too bad the source is obfuscated. This is the kind of thing that could draw a young person into digging deeper into programming.
Groxx 3 days ago 0 replies      

  // in Enjine.KeyboardInput 
Initialize: function() {
var self = this;
document.onkeydown = function(event) { self.KeyDownEvent(event); }
document.onkeyup = function(event) { self.KeyUpEvent(event); }
IsKeyDown: function(key) {
if (this.Pressed[key] != null)
return this.Pressed[key];
return false;

KeyDownEvent: function(event) {
this.Pressed[event.keyCode] = true;

KeyUpEvent: function(event) {
this.Pressed[event.keyCode] = false;

Sheesh. That's why it's jumping up and down when you use the arrow keys. All keyboard input is based on checking `IsKeyDown`, and nothing else. `event.preventDefault()` please. Why do people do this? .preventDefault() is missing in a huge amount of HTML5 demos that aren't full-screen; surely it's not that obscure.

edit: seriously, that's all there is to it. Pop open the console / inspector in your browser of choice, and run this:

  document.onkeyup = function(event) { Enjine.KeyboardInput.KeyUpEvent(event); event.preventDefault(); }
document.onkeydown = function(event) { Enjine.KeyboardInput.KeyDownEvent(event); event.preventDefault(); }

Viola. No more jumping. No more keyboard scrolling either, which is why you check if the cursor location / last-clicked location is within your canvas.

edit2: that aside, very nice work. Smooth playing and so far no glitches, and highly readable code :)

edit3: if you're on IE, that code is `event.returnValue = false` btw. Yaaay, IE :|

alttab 3 days ago 0 replies      
Can't play on iPad. Which is dissapointing because when you have a good web game that works with touch you have won
wccrawford 4 days ago 1 reply      
Win7/Chrome. Can't jump! Up and down move up and down the page, space moves down the page. S and Left and Right are the only things that do anything.
_phred 4 days ago 1 reply      
Infinite (in the practical sense) lives for Infinite Mario; pop open your JS console and run:

  Mario.MarioCharacter.Lives += 1024

Now the challenge is: how far can you get before the game locks up?

keyle 4 days ago 2 replies      
"Background music currently does not work in any browser besides Firefox 4."
swolchok 4 days ago 1 reply      
Can't seem to jump while holding down the run key, which is usually my method of playing mario...
mshron 4 days ago 1 reply      
I'm confused. All I see is a copy of Mario in HTML5. Can someone enlighten me?
ayanb 4 days ago 1 reply      
Really nice work, here is what git clone says

"Receiving objects: 100% (113/113), 1.07 MiB | 164 KiB/s, done."

Just 1 MB. Further

ubuntu mariohtml5 $ du -k code Enjine/

364 code

68 Enjine/

roughly 400K of code

rebelidealist 3 days ago 0 replies      
Awesome work! I am always curious about the copyright implication of cloning an old game like Mario. Does anyone know?
progolferyo 4 days ago 1 reply      
Does anyone know what javascript engine this game is using. It appears to be 'Enjine' but I can't seem to find any information about it.
robkleffner 2 days ago 0 replies      
Thanks for crashing my website guys. Any ideas where to put it so I don't have to pay an exorbitant amount for hosting?
robjohnson 4 days ago 0 replies      
That is absolutely incredible - makes me want to dive into learning HTML 5.
ahmetalpbalkan 2 days ago 0 replies      
Bandwidth Limit Exceeded... too bad.
kand 4 days ago 0 replies      
Amazing work. Love it.
Arxiss 4 days ago 0 replies      
Amazing! HTML5 rocks my world. Too bad sound doesn't work.
JackWebbHeller 4 days ago 0 replies      
Finally lost my Mario virginity...
US debt visualized wtfnoway.com
230 points by nuromancer  6 days ago   87 comments top 19
tmorton 6 days ago 6 replies      
This is exactly the wrong sort of visualization. It provides no information other than "big number is big, lol."

The US debt is a big number. So big that people have a hard time wrapping their head around it. They need a point of comparison. So what's a good point of comparison for the US debt? Hmm... we could use the federal budget, or GDP, or the world GDP, or the debt of other large nations. Or we could break it down per capita, and compare it to other per-capita things, like income or tax burden. Or... I know! We can convert the thing to hundred dollar bills, and put it next to the statue of liberty! That's a meaningful comparison!

scarmig 6 days ago 2 replies      
Not a particularly useful exercise. Imagine 100 years from now we've maintained the same debt level. This graph will show just as much information (big numbers are big!) as it does now, but the analytical value of it (if it exists now) will obviously be totally dissipated, as we'll be an order of magnitude richer.

A better comparison would be to take a single person, and put the per capita amount of debt in $100 bills next to them. If you want to get really histrionic, do it with a baby. Still, it won't come up past the ankles (around $15,000).

This isn't a small amount, but at the same time it's not the end of the world. My college loans come out to that amount, and I barely notice paying them monthly.

It's equivalent to having a mortgage-sized to around five times your annual income. An annual income that typically grows 2.5% a year and comes with a machine that prints out money whenever you need it.

Edit: typo in Google search, it's more like $50k than $15k. So a bit worse than that analysis would suggest.

nl 5 days ago 1 reply      
For that graphic to be any use at all, it needs to show the size of the US economy in comparison.

A $400,000 home loan looks pretty big if you visualize it in 1 cent pieces, but if you put it next to a $100,000 salary it looks pretty reasonable.

"US Unfunded Liabilities" is a stupid thing to measure anyway. That's like putting all your household expenses for the next 30 years on mortgage graph. Yes, you will need to pay them, but they aren't a debt at all.

Personally, I prefer seeing debt as a percentage of GDP: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_public_debt#Measu...

nkassis 6 days ago 3 replies      
It would have made sense to compare that to total GDP or something other than a building, I find it kind of useless as it is. It's big but seriously you're talking about the largest economy in the world. I don't get all the irrational fear this is supposed to engender in the mind of people.
ljf 5 days ago 0 replies      
The sites creator should watch themselves suggesting people click on the adverts... Good chance they won't end up with the payments, as this breaks nearly all PPC companies ad rules...
maguay 5 days ago 2 replies      
Wait, wait: "Unless the U.S. government fixes the budget, nation's CREDIT CARD debt will topple 15 trillion by Christmas 2011."

Is this meaning US consumer credit card debt? If so, that's hardly the US government budget's fault. That one is odd at best.

chrismealy 6 days ago 2 replies      
Public debt = net private sector savings. Nobody gets worked up over the private sector saving too much.
csomar 6 days ago 2 replies      
What's wrong with debt? With loans I was able to speed up my progress. I took loans two times and ready to take it the next time. You'll need just to be certain that you'll pay off. There is risk, but risk is everywhere you do business.
winternett 6 days ago 1 reply      
Where is this stack of money located? I'd like to visit it and take a souvenir.
th0ma5 6 days ago 0 replies      
Some other physical comparisons that could have been included are actually the size of stacking 400 million people on top of each other, how big that would be, and also how much food they would eat in their lifetime, and how much oil and/or plastic goods they would consume. Other than that, I agree with a lot of the other comments here, big numbers are big. "I mean, you may think it's a long way down the road to the chemist's, but that's just peanuts to space, listen..." - HHGTTG
Vivtek 6 days ago 1 reply      
Man. Those graphics are beautifully rendered. What would be the best tool to do something like that?
grepittech 6 days ago 2 replies      
I would love for him to visualize how much we pay towards our debt each year in comparison to the actual debt.
username3 6 days ago 1 reply      
We need 11.45 billion volunteers to work for 92 years.
draggnar 6 days ago 0 replies      
al jazeera did a very good video showing the greek debt also using pallets (http://www.wesoscrewed.com/2011/07/19/pallets-upon-pallets-o...). there is just something about seeing that amount of money in cash on pallets that makes me sick to my stomach. Talk about a huge hole to climb out of...
astrofinch 6 days ago 1 reply      
So what country should I flee to?
brimpa 6 days ago 0 replies      
I know this wasn't the point but I definitely didn't know a 747 was that big.
known 5 days ago 1 reply      
between 1944 to 1963 US personal income tax rate was 92%
known 5 days ago 0 replies      
America is safe as long as dollar is world reserve currency
Google Tried To Buy Color For $200 Million. Color Said No. techcrunch.com
230 points by csmajorfive  6 days ago   112 comments top 29
natural219 6 days ago  replies      
I might be the only person in the universe who thinks Color is a fantastic idea, but not because it's trying to be an uber-cool new social network.

Location-based photo sharing is an incredible idea. When I'm at an event -- say, a concert -- there are hundreds of people around me taking lots of different pictures. I want those pictures, but I don't know any of those people. Imagine going to a venue, not bringing a camera, but still coming away with awesome, memorable photos of the band, from people that have nice equipment and know how to take photographs.

I'm not sure it justifies the huge valuation, but I can easily see why this product had the potential to be a huge player in the photo-sharing space. I feel like the press from their first round caused such an unnecessary uproar around their brand that coming back and producing a humble, useful app was nearly impossible.

That said, I probably would have taken a $200 mil payoff for an idea for an iPhone app.

joshu 6 days ago 2 replies      
i feel like HN is fascinated by but has relatively little understanding of how deals work.

companies don't just show up on your doorstep with an acquisition offer and a giant check. many times the deals are staged and dependent on progress. consider google's acquisition of dMarc, the talked about price, and the actual price.

SeoxyS 6 days ago 1 reply      
For me, the brilliant idea behind Color, (which they did absolutely not realize in their app), is the idea of an elastic social network.

In real like, friendship isn't binary. It's a scale of how close we are, what we talk about, what we share in common, etc. If you came up with a social network that would figure out who your friends are based on how often you talked, hung out, what you talked about etc., I'd call you a genius. A social network where there's no awkward friend requests to accept or reject. A social network that shows me feed items based on how much I currently care about the person and the kind of content...

zoul 6 days ago 11 replies      
I feel like I live in a different universe. Can please someone explain to me what rational thinking might be behind such offers?
jsherry 6 days ago 0 replies      
TMZ is to Lindsay Lohan as TechCrunch is to Color. Constantly reporting upon (and clearly enjoying) the precipitous demise.
pclark 6 days ago 2 replies      
I think that Color is an incredible idea for an application, and when I read their pitch I wanted to bang my head on the desk for not coming up with that concept because it is so beautifully simple yet obvious yet useful!

Isn't it obvious that if you are at an event, say, a birthday party, you'd want to see what photographs your friends are taking as they take them? What about at a sports game or concert, can you imagine how amazing that'd be?

Raising $41M, selling for $200M, all irrelevant versus the grand scheme of this idea. I worry that they have this awesome idea, and are poor at actually building the product, and this makes me sad because I really want someone to do it right.

I really do not understand the hate at Color, they have made mis-steps, but their concept is actually a good idea - compared to a lot of stuff that Hacker News thinks is dumb.

badclient 6 days ago 1 reply      
More likely: Google offered a few bucks for Color and millions if they met milestones 1, 2, 3...; Color knew they couldn't so they turned it down.
nextparadigms 6 days ago 1 reply      
In Groupon's case ($6 bn offer), Twitter's case ($10 bn offer) and now Color, I feel as if Google got lucky those companies didn't want to sell, because it seems they would've been a huge waste of money. Google seems to be pretty happy about over-spending on these companies, but is extremely cautious about over-spending for patents that could save Android in the long term.
localhost3000 6 days ago 0 replies      
i keep reading in the press that color had a "superstar" team and this was a main driver of the massive funding. Yet, I've never seen an explanation - why are (were?) these guys generally considered "superstars" ?
trotsky 6 days ago 1 reply      
Nobody pays $200MM for nothing. It's exceedingly hard to believe google valued a small pre-funding startup at over low eight figures. While most of the time I look at tech crunch leaks and believe they're real albeit spin infused, this just doesn't pass the wtf test. Arrington has appeared to have a grudge against color in the past based on the tone of the TC coverage. I'm inclined to believe this is entirely made up.

This is why you don't want to get your news and journalism from the people who are also financing deals. Now I'm not sure when to trust them at all.

hamner 6 days ago 2 replies      
A lot of the comments below are criticizing "irrational investors" that were "duped" or the product as "vaporware."

This is not the case. Color had a very talented team attempting to attack multiple technically challenging problems, that remain unsolved today.

The first is the discovery of your implicit social network, as defined by your virtual and real-world interactions with others. Facebook currently uses this to determine what information is shown in your News Feed and make friend recommendations, but is not using it to its potential. Google Buzz tried to do this directly via your emails and flopped partly since it did not account for the privacy implications. The ability to transform people's natural interactions into strong recommendations of what they should pay attention to and who should meet each other is still an open problem.

The second is the mapping of real-world events (initially defined by the pictures and people) onto the virtual world. There is potentially a lot of value, both to participants and outsiders, to say (1) who came to real world events, (2) how they interacted, and (3) what happened, while properly dealing with the corresponding ethical implications.

For both of these to work, Color needed a viral social product to gain data and users. They failed on product/market side, especially because they did not have enough focus on "what is the experience we want our users to have the first time they launch the application?" The opportunity remains open, for Color to redeem itself, for the big players to improve their products, or for a new startup to come along and show the world how it's done.

slackerIII 6 days ago 0 replies      
I guess that explains the valuation.
acrum 6 days ago 1 reply      
(Sorry-- Off-topic) HN Powers That Be: How did this get submitted twice? The URL is the same as far as I can tell... except a trailing slash? (see: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=2790700)
agscala 6 days ago 0 replies      
Color's service would be a killer feature for Google+. Color is an excellent idea assuming that there are users who are willing to post pictures and share location data. Unfortunately for Color, it will be a long hard road to get these users. Google, on the other hand, already has a ton of users, the beginning of a social network, and a really strong presence in the phone market. If Color-like functionality was built into Android, Google would find themselves with a very valuable service right from the get-go. A lot of the hard work is behind them.
null_para 6 days ago 5 replies      
Something must be there in their product that everyone is willing to pay top dollar. And these are all smart people who are ready to pay btw, not any average joe investor
lazy_nerd 6 days ago 0 replies      
Did Google dupe Sequoia and other VCs into thinking that Color was actually worth investing $40million dollar into even though eventually when they launched it turned out to be vaporware?
corry 5 days ago 0 replies      
If the average employee of Color didn't already know this... wow, talk about an upsetting topic. Imagine doing the math on your options, seeing that you could have made a killing, then thinking about how the founders said 'no' to the deal, then thinking about how some of the guys who made that choice jumped ship... it all would make for some bad morale.
clobber 6 days ago 0 replies      
Maybe this just looked like a good idea to Google at the time. Sometimes you have to make acquisitions to look progressive to your shareholders. Now, I'm betting they're glad they didn't make this purchase.

Look at Google Ventures and you might see some questional investments as well: http://www.googleventures.com/portfolio.html

arihant 5 days ago 0 replies      
Color's elastic network would be if only here were more people in it. I think they suffer with a massive chicken and egg problem. I hope they figure things out.

I am yet to use Color with another person in the same room.

I think Google is after their sound technology.

parfe 6 days ago 2 replies      
Is this just pure greed? Did Color think they had a billion dollar idea? From my understanding they're a public photo album. What revenue source did they target?
rdl 6 days ago 1 reply      
Remember Microsoft offering to buy Yahoo for $45 billion back in 2008? It is worth about $18 billion now (less, actually, especially if alipay goes badly)
pinaceae 5 days ago 0 replies      
as an outsider, i don't understand the allure behind color at all.

elastic social network? is this something a 16 year really thinks when using facebook? oh i wish it was more elastic? sounds like nerdvana.

proximity photo sharing? why would i want to do that? i am careful about which pics i share with the world. they transmit my persona, so i don't share shots that suck. or maybe i am taking pics no one else is supposed to look at - as in private. why would you want to look at my kids, perv?

honestly, not all ideas by talented and bright people are good. just look at asana, yet another project tool.

mkramlich 5 days ago 0 replies      
I have a few rules in life. Somewhere pretty high up there is, "Never turn down a buyout offer for $200 million."
ristretto 6 days ago 0 replies      
I agree with most here that it's a good idea, but it's been out for months, so maybe this idea was another dime in a dozen. I guess Google has lots of cash to spare on a domain name and a hype machine.
moheeb 5 days ago 0 replies      
Wouldn't Color be the worst copyright/privacy infringer ever created unless they setup some system to blackout certain areas? Sounds like a nightmare.

What happens when Tool and Madonna don't want photos at their venue?


suneliot 6 days ago 1 reply      
$200 million. For the domain!

At the rate the value of that domain was rocketing, seems like a decent investment at the time. Too bad no one's going to want to be associated with it after what team Color did to itself.

csomar 6 days ago 1 reply      
I didn't try the iPhone application, but it has 1411 ratings with 2 stars. How is this a good idea if people don't actually like it?
SODaniel 4 days ago 0 replies      
$200 million for a start up excluding hard patents is almost always a clear sale. Yeah, it's a good idea but not by any means something completely revolutionizing.
njloof 6 days ago 0 replies      
$200 million isn't cool. You know what's cool? Uh, $0 million.
Donut math - How donut.c works a1k0n.net
225 points by dmuino  7 days ago   21 comments top 6
a1k0n 7 days ago 4 replies      
In a highly technical post like this I'm never sure how well I'm explaining it. I tried to keep things at the high school trig/algebra II level for this one. I've proofread it a billion times now but is there anything I can clarify?
kqr2 6 days ago 0 replies      
If you like deconstructing obfuscated c, then you may also enjoy Obfuscated C And Other Mysteries by Don Libes. In addition to coding advice, it looks at some of the top entries from the Obfuscated C Contest, 1984-1991.


Also appears to be available as a reprint:


Obfuscated C Contest website:


acangiano 7 days ago 1 reply      
Would you really need to see a resume before hiring this guy?
mrpollo 7 days ago 0 replies      
I'm starting to grow even more jealous, this guy has some serious knowledge of his craft
identitycrisis 6 days ago 1 reply      
As a fellow Yahoo good to still see people like andy *STILL around
swah 7 days ago 1 reply      
In the 90's, I always wondered how this stuff worked.
NASA's Successful Quantifying of Comedy Timing (By Penn Jillette and Teller) symftr.tumblr.com
224 points by wallflower  5 days ago   31 comments top 12
TravisLS 5 days ago 4 replies      
I'll always regret not seeing a shuttle launch. I went once and it was cancelled due to poor weather.

Hopefully NASA will replace it with something equally spectacular, or perhaps I'll just have to wait and enjoy a private launch (from on-board).

yanowitz 5 days ago 1 reply      
As the last Space Shuttle flight flew, I remembered this essay as well. I never saw a launch live, unfortunately. But 14 years later, this writing has stuck with me. Others have also written about the experience, but none (that I've seen) is quite as vivid. Unsolicited but related trivia: in Jay Barbree's "Live from Cape Canaveral", he mentions that the SS blast offs were more impressive than the Saturn V, which I found surprising, since the Saturn V could lift more.
JunkDNA 5 days ago 0 replies      
Thanks for sharing. Despite being a P&T fan for years I had never read that before.
rglover 5 days ago 0 replies      
I recall a family vacation when I was younger, driving down the Florida coast; my dad screaming (not a bad scream, but a hurried, excited, educated scream). He kept asking my brother and I in the back seat if we wanted to see the astronauts go into space. Circa 12 years old, you fucking bet we did. We tried to find a good spot, but unfortunately, weren't able to (the launch was also cancelled that day for a reason I can't remember).

I'm fairly happy to know that my parents tried to show this to my brother and I. After reading this account, I can say that at some point in my life, I'd like to see humans going into space.

It may be cheesy, but this just set a wonderful tone for my weekend.

soulbow 5 days ago 1 reply      
Living in Florida, I've been fortunate enough to see a few shuttle launches, as well as various rockets. The sound is really an incredible thing. I watched the last one from the bridge stretching from Titusville to the Kennedy Space Center, about the closest one can get without needing a pass. At that distance, the sound takes around 30 seconds to reach the viewers and it's not even that loud, but you can feel the power behind it.

Even more impressive, I watched STS-131 from my hometown one morning. Even from the West Coast of Florida, I could hear the unique sound and power from the shuttle.

I drove around 400 miles round trip to see the last Shuttle Launch, but it was completely worth it to see, in person, humans going into space. If every member of Congress could experience that at least once, NASA would likely not have any more funding problems.

drinian 5 days ago 2 replies      
I think government needs to use tax money for “police, courts, and defense” and that's it. If I were king of the world, there wouldn't be a king of the world and NASA would be private. But who cares what I think? We have NASA and they do the coolest things. It can't be justified with Tang and Crazy Glue. Exploration of space is worth it because humans need to explore.

Cognitive dissonance much?

ianferrel 5 days ago 0 replies      
The magnitude of experience pales in comparison to the shuttle launch, but I've always been glad I got to see the X-Prize winning SpaceShipOne launch.

If Florida were closer than Mojave, I'd have loved to see the shuttle, too.

ANH 4 days ago 0 replies      
I was able to see two shuttle launches at KSC: a night launch and John Glenn's return to space. The comedic timing also works from the non-VIP viewing area there. Just as you're starting to furrow your brow and wonder if some acoustical law hasn't been violated, you hear/feel this rumbling that starts low and quickly builds to an extended crackling locomotive of noise. It's impossible not to get giddy about it.
spullara 4 days ago 0 replies      
I took my 5 year old daughter to STS-132. Tried to get tickets to it on the website and failed to ever get in. Bought 2 tickets for the closest (non-VIP) public viewing area with no parking and 2 tickets + parking for the second closest off eBay. Ended up getting to invite my Dad and his cousin to view from there. It takes a patient 5 year old to get through a hot day and wait hours to watch a 5 minute event. She made it though without even much fuss. Thankfully, it went off just 30 minutes late due to a screw they found rolling around in the cargo bay. When it finally did launch, she was ecstatic and loudly proclaimed: "It is building a pile of steam!" http://www.flickr.com/search/?w=32354567%40N00&q=sts&...
jmagar 5 days ago 1 reply      
I took my two boys to a launch because I knew the end was near. STS-125 the first and last time two shuttles were prepped to launch at the same time: Hubble makes the ISS unreachable if a problem occurs. (The second shuttle was the rescue plan since they couldn't get to the reentry vehicle parked at the ISS.)

Yes, I cried like a little girl.

Good times.

specialist 4 days ago 0 replies      
I've seen Penn & Teller live. Fucking great. Really amazing. I was a huge fan. Even bought their first book.

Then they came out as anthropocentric climate change deniers. Plus, their cable show "Bullshit" was little more than Leno's Jaywalking, only meaner.

So I had to flip the bozo bit on them. Meaning I've lumped them in with the neocons, creationists, libertarians, homophobes, 9/11 truthers, and other antisocial fruitcakes.

peterwwillis 5 days ago 2 replies      

"The NASA definition of comedy timing is the difference between the speed of light and the speed of sound over a distance of 3.7 miles. The speed of light is 186,000 miles per second (I knew that off the top of my head). The speed of sound is 1,116 feet per second (I had to look that up). With the two traveling over 3.7 miles that's 17.505 seconds."

On Succeeding Steve Jobs daringfireball.net
224 points by ddagradi  5 days ago   102 comments top 34
jonnathanson 5 days ago 2 replies      
Cook was palatable to both Wall Street and Apple employees while SJ was on medical leave. IMO, he's passed the test already. Everyone was willing to accept him then, back when there was serious doubt about whether Jobs would return after his leave. So there's no reason why they wouldn't be willing to accept him in a genuine succession event.
brianwillis 5 days ago 3 replies      
There is a better chance of Apple choosing its next CEO through a raffle of ten golden tickets hidden inside iPad boxes distributed around the globe than that they'd give the job to Eric Schmidt.

Quote of the day right there.

barredo 5 days ago 1 reply      
Easily the best post in Daring Fireball in months.

Reminds me of 'The Tablet' (http://daringfireball.net/2009/12/the_tablet) and others to just how different Gruber is from other tech writers, even apple-related-tech writers like Andy Ihnatko, Jason Snell, etc. He throughly thinks about the topic with tremendous insight and unique points of view.

This post is an interesting view on the world of tech, finance and journalism.

kenjackson 5 days ago 1 reply      
Who on that list would want to succeed Steve Jobs? I agree, for once, with Gruber that Apple's best bet is to change as little as possible. Don't fix what ain't broken.

And conversely, there's virtually no upside for any high profile CEO to take this job. You'll get none of the credit for keeping the company on a roll, and take all the blame if it begins to turn downwards.

With that said, Apple w/o Steve Jobs and MS w/o Bill Gates just aren't the same companies. They're the Magic Johnson/Larry Bird of my generation. You have to pick one to cheer for, but you respect them both.

beaumartinez 5 days ago 0 replies      
Aaron Swartz' response[1] is quite interesting.

> If Apple is to continue, it will be with a tastemaker at the top. And there are no serious candidates besides Ive.

(He remarks on Twitter[2] to Gruber, "I think we had this debate briefly over email many years ago, but nice to revive it in long form in public".)

[1] http://www.aaronsw.com/weblog/howappleworks
[2] https://twitter.com/#!/aaronsw/status/94550094199783425

Mz 5 days ago 3 replies      
Historically, there were probably more gays and such in public life than the history books would suggest. One American president (never married) is thought to have possibly been gay. Lots of historical figures who were very successful were minorities of some sort and hid it and tried to blend: Jewish, Hispanic, etc. They altered their names, dyed their hair, learned to dress more "white" and so on. (Rita Hayworth comes to mind -- half Spanish, dyed her hair blonde and made her name more anglo.)

I wear my health issues and alternative medicine approach to them on my sleeve when online but have gone out of my way to downplay it without lying when at work. There is just not enough time in the day to explain my situation to everyone I interact with for five minutes and it is too distracting. It's not important.


dr_ 5 days ago 1 reply      
This also goes back to how News Corp has changed the Wall Street Journal since it's acquisition. The quality has deteriorated. And it's shows what News Corp real focus is - it's not news, and it's not really conservative or liberal issues either - it's sensationalism, in any form. Because thats what gets peoples attention.
phillco 5 days ago 0 replies      
> Name one outsider who'd be accepted both inside the company and on Wall Street.

Maybe somebody from Pepsi?

far33d 4 days ago 0 replies      
Ed Catmull is the only plausible external possibility. He would be excellent at making sure what works at Apple stays that way.
SoftwareMaven 5 days ago 1 reply      
I think Tim Cook would be a mistake as awesome as he is (see http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=2134181). Tim is too operations-focused, and that will bleed over into the products.

Apple needs a design-oriented CEO. Tim can balance that and make the company amazing from an operations-perspective. I don't know who the person is, but I do think he (or she) exists.

kenjackson 5 days ago 0 replies      
One other reason Apple will make Cook the CEO -- it will make the least waves. No one at Apple will quit if Cook becomes CEO. If Apple were to hire anyone from the outside I think there's a decent chance that they lose Cook for starters (Cook can write his own ticket anywhere he wanted).
tomlin 4 days ago 0 replies      
Imagine you're dying of cancer and you have raised a few intelligent children to a certain age. Now you have to ask others to raise your children in your image. Not in their image, but yours. You might not trust anyone with your children, moreover, expect them to see the same vision you had for your children - which is based on the progressive iteration of your children's development.

Can anyone raise Apple like Jobs? Probably not. Does that mean Apple is doomed? No, it doesn't. Anything beyond is speculation.

IdeaHamster 5 days ago 2 replies      
Speculation on Steve Jobs' successor strikes me as, well, pointless. The dynamic that drives Apple today is very much the same dynamic that drove it at the start: Woz and Jobs. We saw, in the late 80s and early to mid 90s what happens when the "Jobs" half of that dynamic is not there. The "Woz" dynamic, however, has had a good line of succession to cary it forward the entire time. Looking forward, it seems pretty clear that with a few more years of grooming and practice on stage that Scott Forestall will replace Jobs and keep that part of the company moving forward. Astute observers, however, would also be focusing on Federighi. It seems less clear to me that he will be able to carry on Woz's legacy...but I could be wrong.

Apple with Jobs, but without Woz, is just an empty suit...a really, really well hand tailored $6000 fine Italian 3-piece suit...but still just a suit

wallflower 5 days ago 0 replies      
To better understand the role of Steve Jobs, I recommend reading this excellent article from Technologizer (that got buried on HN as some good submissions do) about Edwin Land of Polaroid and the innovative product of the time, the SX-70.

"Edwin Land was brilliant, prescient, prickly, and demanding, and hounded his employees into doing great things they might never have accomplished otherwise. That sounds like Steve Jobs. Land described photography as “the intersection of science and art.”

Jobs likes to cite Land's quote and says that Apple's work sits “at the intersection of the liberal arts and technology,” a location which is surely in the same neighborhood. Land demoed new Polaroid products himself at corporate events that were famous for their hypnotic effect. Jobs carries on the tradition.

And both Land and Jobs were forced out of the companies they founded, in two of the more preposterous decisions in business history."


mojuba 4 days ago 0 replies      
I think a bigger problem is that there is still no competition to Apple in the market in terms of design and the drive.

Dell, Samsung and others could have learned something already but amazingly they keep manufacturing crappy hardware locked to crappy software, probably just a tiny bit better than before the MBP era, but overall their approach and philosophy hasn't changed.

Sony looks good compared to them, but unfortunately it's too expensive (you'd rather buy a Mac for that money, wouldn't you?) plus Sony has never been a company that designs stuff with users in mind. Their hardware can be solid looking but there is usually nothing new or exceptionally well executed for the user.

Now that's the saddest part of the story for me, rather than when and who will replace Steve Jobs.

mlinsey 5 days ago 0 replies      
I agree with Gruber's analysis, but one part that worries me is the idea of having each SVP accountable for product decisions for their own area. I think that so much of Apple's advantages stem from hardware and software that are designed with each other in mind, that it would be much better to have a single person be SVP Product Design under Cook, so that there was always someone responsible for the entire cohesive user experience. Unfortunately, choosing such a person for this role among the three product SVP's that Gruber names is itself a very difficult political problem, and any choice could result in other talent leaving.
antics 5 days ago 1 reply      
Ok, Gruber's answer is probable, maybe even correct. But what exactly is Jobs responding to[1] here? Not the ramblings of a tabloid magazine, but the reporting of a world-class newspaper. And before we band together behind a blogger it's worth at least considering exactly why (or if) his position is better.

Where the WSJ seems to have black-box-trusted someone else's expertise, Gruber seems to depend only on facts that he has a good command of. In other words, yes, it's easy to side with Gruber here (I know I do), but the problem is that even if he has actually named the correct successor, in at least one crucial aspect of the debate, he is still wrong: it is a disservice to the transformation Apple will have to undergo to simply name the CEO. Who's next is an important fact, but it is not the most important fact.

One thing to notice here is that Apple is a huge and complicated machine, and from the perspective of the CEO who knows all of this, it must seem absolutely precious that people like Gruber, and organizations like the WSJ believe they have a firm grasp on what's going on internally. In a lot of ways, this seems to have inspired the "Hogwash" comment, and on a darker note, it suggests something about the discussion as a whole: that the important bits, the descriptive and interesting bits, the more useful bits, lie in a discussion about what Apple should decide to be post-Jobs. What goals are realistic? What can and can't it be?

The work here is paving the way for who's next, and ensuring that there are clear objectives. THIS is the discussion worth having; points about who the next CEO are subsidiary, and only useful insofar as they give us information about these important questions.

[1] Particularly with his "Hogwash" comment.

michaelpinto 4 days ago 0 replies      
I hate all of this talk because it's disrespectful to the man who has given his all and is very much present (and a man who certainly reads the Wall Street Journal). It's interesting to note that prior to this meme of "who an replace Jobs" the #1 meme was always "when is Apple going to die?" For my money on both accounts you'd be foolish to write off Steve Jobs until the fat lady sings.

The fact of the matter is that Steve Jobs on "medical leave" is doing a much better job of managing Apple than quite a few other tech companies where the CEO shows up each day and is in perfect health.

blinkingled 5 days ago 0 replies      
"Put another way, the obvious structure for a post-Jobs Apple is simply Apple as we know it, without Steve Jobs."

Steve Jobs is as unique as it gets and if that wasn't already obvious - the one line summation was more than enough to express everything written in preceding lines. "Proving" other people as not being Steve Jobs was optional.

Although it remains to be seen how much of Apple as we know it remains after Jobs (things may warrant a change who knows).

evo_9 5 days ago 0 replies      
Jonathan Ive - He's creative and brilliant similar to Jobs. Apple needs an unconventional leader - Tim Cook is too convetional to lead and inspire from the top.
chalst 5 days ago 1 reply      
Gruber makes a good point about the likelihood of a successor coming from within Apple, but the following seems paranoid to me:

>I can't see how a speculative and sketchily-sourced story such as this, published 30 minutes before Apple announced overwhelmingly positive financial results, was not intended to dampen, to some degree, the positive effect of those results on Apple's stock.

What interest does the WSJ have in manipulating Apple stock? This is effectively what Gruber claims.

statictype 5 days ago 1 reply      
Beloved within Apple, but he's been out of the game for decades, and, let's face it, is a bit of a flake.

What makes him a flake?

cpeterso 5 days ago 0 replies      
In Daniel "Fake Steve Jobs" Lyons' book Options: The Secret Life of Steve Jobs, the real Steve hires a stand-in so he can finally take some time off. Are we sure this hasn't already happened? :)
mw63214 5 days ago 0 replies      
even though I'm anti-Apple, I've always thought James Dyson would be a perfect fit, along with his company. Apple -> Dyson -> Sensor Network -> Internet of Things(with some design love)
panabee 4 days ago 0 replies      
some of these choices are designed to be provocative, not necessarily legitimate. "built to last," the wonderfully insightful book on technology entrepreneurship by jim collins, contains interesting analysis about the difficulties in replacing a charismatic, controlling founder like jobs. suffice to say, the odds are against apple. but so they were in 1998. http://www.amazon.com/Built-Last-Successful-Visionary-Essent...
jayfuerstenberg 4 days ago 0 replies      
What's most important is what Steve Jobs has taught us.

If you have a relentless drive and a vision to make products better people will flock to you. It doesn't happen overnight but it does happen.

The next CEO will or won't embrace Steve Jobs' vision and the company's success will reflect that. It's inevitable, but the lesson has been learned and can be applied again and again by anybody who cares to.

avjinder 4 days ago 0 replies      
Jack Dorsey would be a good candidate for Apple CEO but I cannot imagine how he's going to handle three rapidly growing companies. He is the CEO of Square and the Chief of Product Design at Twitter and according to a recent interview, he mentions that he works 18 hours a day managing the two companies. Though Jack Dorsey is a good fit for Apple, he will never be CEO of Apple.
Raphael 4 days ago 0 replies      
Let Apple figure it out.
anactofgod 4 days ago 0 replies      
As usual, Gruber is right.

And, the Wall Street Journal turned into the Yellow Journal years ago. I wouldn't wipe a parrot's ass with it, let alone lend any credence to what's printed in it.

donnaware 5 days ago 0 replies      
I think I would be perfect for the job. he he, but seriously, they should look the the startup world, that is the only way to match the creativity of the jobster.
spage 5 days ago 0 replies      
Ashton Kutcher would be a near-perfect replacement for Steve Jobs. I'm not a fan of either, just sounds right to me.
wallflower 5 days ago 1 reply      
Just to throw it out there, Mark Zuckerberg could be a candidate if Apple ever acquired Facebook.
hluska 5 days ago 1 reply      
Sorry to be this thread's grammar troll, but I would be very happy if OP (and the person who wrote this article) would edit the title to read:

On Seceding Steve Jobs

Succeeding means something totally different than seceding!

That bit of ugliness aside, I agree with the basic premise of this article. It would be tremendously risky for the board to bring in an outsider, and when you consider the structure of Apple's management, Tim Cook is the only reasonable choice to secede Jobs. However, Mr. Cook will have his work cut out for him as Jobs has an iconic stature, both within his company, on Wall Street and throughout the technology community.

However, on a strictly personal note, I feel sorry for whoever does eventually replace Mr. Jobs. There will inevitably be a few years when every time the new CEO makes an error, someone (either within the company, on Wall Street or within the media) will say, "If Steve Jobs were around this would never have happened."

In that regard, getting Steve Wozniak to firmly and publicly support the new CEO will be a major factor in his/her success.

mrshoe 5 days ago 2 replies      
Apple needs someone who has wired their mind to think just like Steve Jobs. Someone who is able to rationally explain all of the decisions made at Apple, even the ones that look downright crazy to most outsiders. Someone who has spent the last 10 years trying to make themselves one with the Apple brain trust so that they can accurately predict Apple's future game plan. Someone who has immense support from Apple employees and customers alike.

It's obvious why Gruber omitted this, but you know it crossed his mind, and I'm surprised no one here on HN has mentioned it: Apple should hire John Gruber to replace Steve Jobs as CEO.

       cached 28 July 2011 02:11:01 GMT