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3
A First Look at BankSimple banksimple.com
461 points by ahhrrr  1 day ago   184 comments top 33
1
jasonkester 1 day ago 8 replies      
Does anybody actually think this way? As in, do people actually go to their bank's website because they'd like to spend money and want to find out how much they have to spend?

Described this way, this just seems like a tool to facilitate a fundamentally unhealthy way to think about your money. If you're thinking in terms of "How much can I spend today", you've already lost. (Unless, of course, you're 23, in which case your entire goal in life should be to sock away enough money that you never need to ask that question again in relation to food/rent/etc.)

I like the transaction searching capabilities shown in the demo, but I was hoping to see more info on how to do actual "banking" tasks. Can I initiate a wire transfer from an internet cafe in Laos? Can people send a check to an address in the US that automatically gets deposited in my account? That sort of thing. When these guys came on the scene, I got the impression that that was the kind of thing they'd be doing better than other banks. Frankly, sorting my past transactions just isn't a problem I desperately need to have solved.

2
ThomPete 1 day ago 2 replies      
As someone who have worked a lot for banks and actually already done some of this work let me offer a viewpoint.

Last year my company managed to get a large Danish bank to implement tracking into their netbank. This is no small accomplishment, which anyone knowing just a little bit about how the IT departments in the banking industry normally works, the systems they work on are arcane.

It took us 18 months from getting the bank to like the idea into actually getting it launched.

The results have been nothing but extraordinary everyone loves it.

The reason they love it is because it's automatic. They get insights into their economy that they could not previously get. There is something quite amazing about seeing your spendings categorized for the first time without you having to do anything.

The banks have a unique identifier on each transaction that can be measured up against a category list. This is something Mint and Wesabe can't do because you can't export that unique identifer from the banks.

The big advantage of BankSimple and why I think it's going to be huge is because they don't have a legacy system to deal with.

In other words BankSimple can potentially be anything you could ever dream of a bank being, because BankSimple will be able to cross reference the data in order to provide not just cost reduction but service improvement.

The banking industry are just waiting to be disrupted by someone like BS. There are thousands of ways to create a better banking experience. BS is a good first stab at it IMHO.

3
blhack 1 day ago 7 replies      
Here is where I hope/pray/etc BankSimple is going:

I want a personal financial API for myself. If you want to bill me for something, you don't write down a bunch of text on a piece of paper, stick that inside of another piece of paper, and then pay somebody to put it through a slot in my door (along with all of the coupon mailers, prepaid credit card offers, and VOTE FOR ME! envelopes that I get), you call up blhack's financial API and request a payment from it.

When this happens, I get an email, or an SMS, or whatever else telling me:

"USBank has requested a payment of $347 from you. They have requested payment by October 20th, 2011 -- Note: Car Payment"

or

"City of Tempe has requested a payment of $60 from you. They have requested payment by October 8th, 2011 -- Note: Water Bill"

etc. etc.

I can log into BankSimple and approve these payment requests (just like paypal, except [hopefully] BankSimple makes it affordable for my city, or my auto loan provider to do use).

It's an accountant for me. Except it's in one place, and it doesn't cost anything. There are companies that have tried this, and failed miserably, mostly because they appear to lack the technical expertise that something like BankSimple is bringing to the table.

The banking system, right now, is a disaster. The things I'm describing are all possible right now, but they're an enormous pain in the ass to use.

BankSimple: if you're not doing this, do it.

4
giberson 1 day ago 1 reply      
Some questions I never bothered to actually ask of my current banking system probably because I've known people that had accounts with them and have seen several branch locations but I'd like to ask of BankSimple.

BankSimple is a bank account yes or no? I mean a real certified banking system? Are they required to meet governmental guidelines of official banks?

What guarantee (if any) do I have that my money will be there in the morning? Is there some guarantee that if I go to login to bankSimple tomorrow morning and the domain doesn't resolve emails get bounced etc, would there be any recourse for me? [again, never bothered to ask that of my real bank but I suppose a brick and mortar institution instills more confidence]

Visa, MasterCard, Amex... Is the bankSimple card backed by any of these institutions? Can I walk into to some random QuickStop gas station and pay using your card like I could with my current bank card?

What kind of development and testing infrastructure do you guys utilize? Are you able to roll out updates to limited groups of real users so you can test changes on a small scale before rolling them out to every one? I'm more curious as to this aspect because I attribute to BankSimple more of a website or new software company [which I envision bugs and glitches that get worked out with feedback] rather than a traditional bank [which surprisingly even though I know is capable of making mistakes, I don't really worry about bugs]

Will BankSimple eventually if not at launch do other bank-y things like consumer loans, offer savings bonds, etc?

What about fraud protection? What if some one steals my card and buys a bunch of stuff with it? [Ok, I've asked my bank about this one at least]

5
maxklein 1 day ago  replies      
I don't get it. I don't get the point of it. Searching through a list of things? How is that making my banking simpler?

It seems to have turned into a credit card statement search & visualisation engine.

6
sschueller 1 day ago 5 replies      
US consumer banking is archaic and can't be fixed with just another bank. The whole process is broken and it requires an industry change.

I applaud BankSimple for what they are doing but in the big picture it doesn't solve the major problems.

My biggest gripes with the banks:

- Can't wire money to someone else without going into the bank and paying ridiculous fees (Last time I checked, $25 for domestic, $45 for international). INGDirect attempts to make this better but the receiver still needs to have an email address and go through a procedure to receive the money. It's also slow, average is 2-3 days.

- It's easier and cheaper for me to use checks. It costs me nothing to deposit it but I have to pay a fee to receive a wire transfer. Wires have a lot fever errors than checks and a wire of over $5k doesn't have to be put on hold because the bank has to verify a check. The banks punish you for using wires instead of checks.

- When you go online and use bill pay the bank will pay a 3rd party to print and mail a check!! How is this electronic payment. (This does not apply to large firms like the phone company which will receive the payment electronically but small business can't utilize this!)

- Why no IBAN? Swift requires intermediary banks which charge a fee on your international wire.

- No chips on debpit/credit cards. In Europe most banks issue cards with chips on them. This would eliminate the risk of getting skimmed if only the US would also start using chips instead of the magnetic stripe.

I just don't understand why the banks do this. Someone enlighten me.

7
dreamdu5t 1 day ago 3 replies      
Seems like Wesabe hooked up to the bank network.

Search and categorized transactions are cool, but does the categorization require manual tagging? I'm pressed for time in my day, and I am not going to spend more than 5 minutes to look at my bank statements, unless I'm specifically sitting down to budget. My biggest concern with a service like this is the time it's asking from you. So many services designed to "make my life simpler" actually require spending more time than just not using the service at all. For that reason, your mobile app needs to be killer.

8
sambeau 1 day ago 0 replies      
I love it. It works just like my brain does.

Sadly (for me) it also works just like my iPhone App "Payday" does (without the live bank ability) that was released last year and then sank without a trace (albeit partly due to a silly bug).

Being able to earmark money for bills in advance and set yourself saving goals is really cool (and was also the core feature of Payday).

If anyone would like to try these features before the release of Bank Simple you can find it here:

http://toccame.com/

and here

http://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/payday/id351013628

Just beware of a small bug that makes the calculations go off if you choose the last day of the month as Payday. (Yeah. I know. Sadly the talented programmer I worked with has had to move onto other projects. Maybe one day we can fix it. sigh)

9
haberman 1 day ago 1 reply      
So I'm getting more interested in banking and accounting, largely because a friend and I are starting a business for the first time. When I saw "Accounting for Computer Scientists" on HN (http://martin.kleppmann.com/2011/03/07/accounting-for-comput...) it was a revelation to me, because I didn't realize that accounting could be so cleanly modeled as a graph structure.

Ever since then I've been itching to create some git-like software for accounting, where you have a repository of accounts and transactions. I feel like there is so much unexplored territory here in terms of analysis and visualization. For example, I want a way of saying "this insurance bill is for six months of coverage" and then seeing my bi-weekly breakdown of expenses include two weeks worth of that insurance bill. I want to be able to tag expenses as non-discretionary (taxes), periodic (mortgage), or discretionary (latte) as an easy way of understanding my overall cash flow. I want to be able to amortize my vacations over the whole year. etc.

I want to be able to view what my hypothetical cash flow would be if I cut out certain periodic expenses or added others.

A lot of this is probably more complicated than what most people would want to do -- that's why I think the important part is having a standard repository model that's easily programmable.

10
typicalrunt 1 day ago 6 replies      
It's a beautifully clean design. I like the simplicity of it.

What I worry about is the security behind the scenes and the sharing of sensitive information between BankSimple and the banks.

And trademarking "Safe-To-Spend"? Come on... It's a math equation that shows how much running profit you have. You don't need to trademark such a thing unless you intend to use it in advertising or throughout the website, yet I only see it used in one place. Next thing you know it'll be patented.

Maybe I missed it in the video, but what I would like to see from any of these types of websites is a consolidated view of multiple accounts and banks. So if I have chequing and savings accounts at 3 different banks, I would like a dashboard of my entire spending and saving. It's easy to lose sight of this when you look at individual bank statements.

11
jimmar 1 day ago 4 replies      
I haven't followed news about BankSimple, and the firs few minutes of the demo I watched didn't help me understand what it is. Is BankSimple an actual bank (with ATM card, routing numbers, etc.)? Or is it a PayPal competitor? Or is it just a front end that interacts with Banks? Going to BankSimple.com, it seems like it's trying to be an actual bank. But the demo on the website made it seem more like a Mint competitor. So, BankSimple is just another bank but with a potentially super-awesome website? So far, I'm not convinced.
12
simplify 1 day ago 0 replies      
Very interesting. I like the concept of having only one account. The goals tab looks very useful.

The video states that the "safe to spend" feature calculates recurring bills and such. Is there a way to view and manage these?

13
mdoerneman 1 day ago 2 replies      
Safe-to-spend balance is great but will it be enforced? I currently calculate my safe to spend balance but nothing stops me from over spending. I don't have the willpower. It would be great if the bank simple card will only let me spend my safe-to-spend balance. So if my safe-to-spend balance is $20 and I go to an ATM and try to withdraw $50, it will decline.
14
janesvilleseo 1 day ago 0 replies      
I am excited by the 'how much can I spend' feature and NLP search. And this is the first bank that I would consider moving to. However, my current bank, rather a credit union is absolutely phenomenal in terms of online banking. I have had quite a few different banks accounts in my young life and am very impressed by the level of innovation from a relatively small institution.

My credit union is UW Credit Union. They have recently launched an updated version of their site as well as previously included Mint like features. It is great. I feel as though that as soon as UW Credit Union gets wind of BS, if they haven't already, will incorporate some of what BS is doing.

Banking is definitely an industry ready to be disrupted.

15
joez 1 day ago 1 reply      
I had thought that BankSimple was slimming down the traditional banking model and passing the savings (in the form of interest) to customers. I still love that they're tackling Goliaths but they need to be a little clearer on their vision and value proposition.
16
durga 1 day ago 0 replies      
Neat. Now gear up for some honest feedback on your blurb :)

>A First Look at BankSimple

FB: Ok, though "Sneak Peek" is easier to relate to than "First Look".

>Joshua Reich, Wed September 21, 2011

FB: Ok.

>We've been very cautious on our blog and website about >talking about what we've been building.

FB: Redundant. Why are you telling me you've been "cautious"?

>Instead, we've focused on our vision.

FB: What vision? Mention it. Mention the key value proposition.

> Today that is changing: Below is a first public sneak peek of BankSimple. We think it's far more powerful to show than tell.

FB: Check capitalization. Focus on what the user is getting is getting, rather than what you feel("we think it's far..")

>And now we are ready to show. We've been testing the product for a few months now, and it has been awesome. >The product isn't finished. It will never be finished. We're constantly improving. But we've now reached the >point where we've learned as much as possible from testing internally and in a few weeks we'll be shipping >
>cards to our first real customers.

FB: Mostly redundant. Only thing that's relevant is "We've successfully tested the product for a few months now, and are looking forward to ship it to our first customers over the next few weeks. (Click here to request a beta invite.)"

>This is only the beginning, but it is a tremendous step forward for our company.

FB: This line might be good for boosting the morale at a company internal meeting, but it means nothing to the customer. Also it seems to reinforce the idea that you're not ready yet to grab my attention.

>We will be sharing more important updates with you soon,

FB: Maybe be a little more specific than "soon"? "over the next couple of weeks"?

> but in the meantime,

FB: OK

>we hope that you enjoy this first look at our product "

FB: Redundant. What's there to enjoy?

>we'd love to hear your feedback.

FB: This looks like a call to action, with no visible action button. What should the user do to provide feedback? Maybe turn the "feedback" word at the end of the sentence to a hyperlink that points to a feedback page? Or better yet, use something lightweight like http://webengage.com/ disclaimer: it's made by a friend of mine).

17
avelis 12 hours ago 0 replies      
IMO

Banks should be good at doing one thing. Holding my liquid assets. However, history has proven to us that even that is a challenge for banks. Where banks thrive in size, most banks lack in vision. I believe that banks are not software companies, at least not in spirit. Some banks are better at utilizing technology and others are not.

My challenge to BankSimple: prove me wrong.

We have to remember what a bank traditionally is, break that down, and build it from the ground up without the walls that immobilizes it today.

18
true_religion 1 day ago 2 replies      
One thing I love is that I can have checks mailed to Bank Simple, and they'd automatically deposit the monies in my account.

I get quite a few checks, but not enough that I'd want to get a check scanning machine for.

I'm on the beta list, and hope for an invite.

19
Cherian_Abraham 1 day ago 0 replies      
BankSimple is as someone else pointed out, just a simpler, sleeker interface to banking.

Brett King's Movenbank tries to reinvent banking.

20
Griever 1 day ago 0 replies      
Love the design! While I think there is quite a ways to go, I will most certainly give BankSimple a shot when it is publicly released.

Upon seeing the video though, specifically when he was searching through for the bar that he went to, I started wondering how long it'll take before we can actually see precisely what we paid for at said location rather than having to dig through receipts.

I have no idea when that time will come, but when it does, I'll welcome it with open arms.

21
jwb119 1 day ago 2 replies      
sure, there's some cool stuff in here. but is it really enough to make anyone but a geek go through the hassle of adding yet another banking service? probably not, imo.
22
dprice1 1 day ago 2 replies      
This is something that people would want. But I have a question about business model choice here, because I'm curious why they chose to become a front-end to various banks in this way.

Why choose to be a middle-man here (with all of the pain/cost of providing customer service, etc.) when they could be an enterprise software vendor or a SaaS provider? Banks don't actually make that much off of depositors, right? I'm not saying they made a bad choice; I wanted to see if anyone could rationalize it for me.

Surely banks (especially smaller regional banks and credit unions) would pay good prices to have this software power their banking websites so that they could care for their customers in a more sophisticated way. Right now my credit union, in the Bay Area, has a functional but very ugly e-banking and bill-pay platform which has clearly been purchased from a third party vendor and customized (checkfree, I think (http://www.checkfreecorp.com/cda/corp/L5.jsp?layoutId=51501&...).

I guess I don't understand where significant revenues will come from in a model like this.

23
nathanwdavis 1 day ago 0 replies      
I'm quite happy with my bank's customer service, interest rates and fees. And I use Mint.com to get a view of all accounts including retirement, investments, etc.

So, from my view, BankSimple just does not provide enough value. Hopefully for BankSimple's sake, others are not satisfied like I am.

24
yoshyosh 1 day ago 0 replies      
Nice looking site! Why did you not use any green in the UI? For example the direct deposit of $100 is black and doesn't stand out too much, whereas if it was a nice green I immediately can make a correlation. For the users emotion's, seeing a sea of green transactions could evoke more happiness compared to black. A green background on the "Safe-To-Spend" section seems more intuitive than a red one, perhaps it can turn red as it gets close to a 'danger zone' of spending (Calculated based on their spending habits/frequency).

Lastly, everyone keeps mentioning that categorization is very important, yet categorization isn't that noticeable. I did not notice it until you demoed it. I might have found it on my own fairly easily if I wasn't being demo'd though, so its somewhat unfair to say. Rather than having users create very common categories (food, rent, transportation) make those default and more visible whether it be adding inset icons, or changing position/color of that section.

Great job! :)

25
mrbill 1 day ago 1 reply      
One of the reasons I ditched Mint was because it was 2-3 days laggy due to having to scrape and process the data from my bank. I have yet to find anything that beats simply recording all my expenditures in a spiral notebook and reconciling it with my bank's online account once a day. That, plus "When I get paid, I pay my bills first". How simpler could it be? (Frost Bank in Texas, here
26
Hisoka 1 day ago 2 replies      
The value proposition doesn't appeal to me... Slick GUI, and I'm sure you guys work your asses off, but there's no compelling reason for me to switch to another bank.. that's a huge cost.. I am get off my ass to another bank, tell them to close my account, write a huge check to BankSimple, change my direct deposit, buy new checks, etc... Do you guys replace the checkbook? If so, I'll sign up. That's my main problem with the entire banking process. I hate writing checks and signing checks. When I write a check to the IRS and somehow get a single number wrong, I have to rewrite the whole thing. It seems strangely ancient that we still have this process in place today.
27
swah 1 day ago 0 replies      
Shouldn't the Safe To Spend have changed when you scheduled 20 buck a payment to adam?
28
wccrawford 1 day ago 1 reply      
Wake me up when they have the deposit-from-phone working on Android phones.
29
braindead_in 1 day ago 0 replies      
Looks awesome. I would love to see a clone of BankSimple in India. The bureaucracy will be a pain but if you can successfully navigate it and create a simple no-frills online only bank, it will be a great success.
30
mkramlich 1 day ago 0 replies      
My two words of advice to BankSimple (well, two acronyms):

API and CLI

31
slowpoison 1 day ago 1 reply      
Now that I'm getting a better feel of what BankSimple is about, I don't think it's that revolutionary an idea. I'm not even sure I will use it. Most of what they showed, and more can be accomplished using Mint. And, Mint offers more choice by being an aggregator.
32
evlapix 1 day ago 0 replies      
I was surprised to see that they put so much emphasis on the searching in the demo. The real value is in the "Goals" interface - which is well designed.
33
sevenproxies 1 day ago 1 reply      
I imagine this is a US only Bank?
4
Very cool, but very creepy, open source project notcot.org
440 points by monochromatic  1 day ago   70 comments top 23
1
keane 1 day ago  replies      
Made with:

1. OpenCV 2.0 - C++, C, Python interfaces; BSD license - http://opencv.willowgarage.com/wiki/

2. FaceTracker - C/C++ API; "research purposes only", to download email Jason.saragih@csiro.au - http://web.mac.com/jsaragih/FaceTracker/FaceTracker.html

3. Method Art Image Clone - realtime cloning library (from gts, glew, glib); MIT license - http://methodart.blogspot.com/2011/07/fast-image-cloning-lib...

4. openFrameworks - C++ toolkit; MIT license - https://github.com/openframeworks/openFrameworks

5. FaceOSC (ofxFaceTracker) - active appearance model addon for openFrameworks; "open source" - https://github.com/kylemcdonald/ofxFaceTracker

2
apu 1 day ago 0 replies      
For face replacement in video, the state-of-the-art is this upcoming SIGGRAPH Asia 2011 work:

http://www.eecs.harvard.edu/~dale/docs/faceReplace_sa2011.mp...

http://www.eecs.harvard.edu/~dale/docs/faceReplace_sa2011.pd...

Having worked on this problem before, I know how tough it is to escape the uncanny valley when doing replacement, and these guys have really done impressively well at it (albeit with a fair amount of manual preprocessing and in controlled situations).

3
pavel_lishin 1 day ago 2 replies      
How long before this becomes good enough to fool people on Skype? And how long before someone ends up writing software to detect this?

I think this is the first time in my life that I've felt like I was living in a scifi novel.

4
ericgearhart 1 day ago 3 replies      
I think the "creepy" factor of the images is probably due to the "uncanny valley"... Pixar fought this effect when they were first rendering humans

"The uncanny valley is a hypothesis in the field of robotics and 3D computer animation, which holds that when human replicas look and act almost, but not perfectly, like actual human beings, it causes a response of revulsion among human observers. The "valley" in question is a dip in a proposed graph of the positivity of human reaction as a function of a robot's human likeness."

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

5
mcantor 1 day ago 0 replies      
Wow, how uncannily timely. Just yesterday, I read the part of a speculative fiction near-future novel, "Halting States" by Charles Stross, which includes this as an interesting detail with an eye towards technical imperfection; one of the protagonists is bemused by someone's neck glitching up into their face during a video call while they use this sort of software.
6
chaostheory 1 day ago 0 replies      
Here's where his broken link meant to go: http://methodart.blogspot.com/2011/07/fast-image-cloning-lib...
7
Geee 1 day ago 1 reply      
Really awesome. That second video shows much better results. Now, still some fine-tuning and someone could create application where people can try out different make-ups or eyeglasses.
8
andrewpi 1 day ago 0 replies      
Reminds me somewhat of the scramble suit from A Scanner Darkly!
9
cypherpunks01 1 day ago 1 reply      
Cool! The title should be edited to describe the link though.

And as for being an open source project, link/source please?

10
AdamTReineke 1 day ago 0 replies      
High-res source 3D face scans + a Kinect to track target head position and rotation better would hide the modifications quite well. Awesome project.
11
apitaru 1 day ago 1 reply      
Kyle just posted a new demo video - he's playing around with the idea of the "Scrambler Suite" from A Scanner Darkly - http://vimeo.com/29391633
12
protagonist_h 1 day ago 0 replies      
This could be used in video call centers in the future. Image you make a video call to your bank, and a blonde girl appears on the screen. In reality, however, you are talking to a dude in India. However, this would also require "voice substitution."
13
rhizome 1 day ago 0 replies      
Why aren't the videos embedded simply from Vimeo? Why do I have to wait on "uploads.notempire.com"? Not to mention that it's not behaving very "empire"-like.
14
swah 1 day ago 0 replies      
And once more, while we were discussing about a new language to replace javascript, some folk wrote a kickass software program in C++. :)
15
jewel 1 day ago 1 reply      
I imagine this will do to movies what autotune did to music. In other words, you no longer will have to find someone who is both good at acting and attractive.
16
tnc 1 day ago 0 replies      
17
cfontes 1 day ago 0 replies      
Really cool stuff. would be nice to have this feature used together with augmented reality games.

We could then use your preferred char outfit and face while playing a wii like game, so the game would present a video of you as the main char with any outfit, like playing streetfighter being Mario :D

Really ingenious idea.

18
croddin 1 day ago 1 reply      
If it is open source, where is the code? I am only seeing links to libraries it uses.
19
Aqwis 1 day ago 2 replies      
How do professional movie productions do this? For example the Winklevoss brothers in The Social Network both had the face of one of the actors.
20
zerostar07 19 hours ago 0 replies      
This will be perfect for plastic surgeon and hairdressing applications. Also to try out a new smirk before actually growing it.
21
swah 1 day ago 0 replies      
This would be much better than face pixelation on Google street view.
22
chintan 1 day ago 0 replies      
Brilliant!!
23
dadads 1 day ago 0 replies      
I approve of this!
5
Twitter's Storm (complex event processing system) is now open source github.com
440 points by harrigan  3 days ago   56 comments top 16
1
nathanmarz 3 days ago 7 replies      
Hey all, I'm the author of Storm. Just wanted to point you to a few resources:

I've written a lot of documentation on the wiki, which you can find here: https://github.com/nathanmarz/storm/wiki

There's a few companion projects to Storm. These are:

One-click deploy for Storm on EC2: https://github.com/nathanmarz/storm-deploy

Adapter to use Kestrel as a Spout within Storm: https://github.com/nathanmarz/storm-kestrel

Starter project with example topologies that you can run in local mode: https://github.com/nathanmarz/storm-starter

Feel free to ask me questions here or on Storm's mailing list ( http://groups.google.com/group/storm-user ), and I'll answer as best I can!

2
phren0logy 3 days ago 1 reply      
Woah. Launch a Storm cluster on AWS with one line:

https://github.com/nathanmarz/storm-deploy/wiki

All of these storm projects with their project.clj files betray the Clojure roots (using Leiningen as the build tool, which is amazingly great). Here's to hoping for more Clojure examples/docs.

3
michaelbuckbee 3 days ago 2 replies      
It is a little buried in the github wiki, but this 'Rationale' page is a good overview of the project - https://github.com/nathanmarz/storm/wiki/Rationale
4
buss 3 days ago 3 replies      
If you don't want to read through the wiki, here's what I've gathered (though I may have misunderstood what they're doing).

This looks like a workflow management system, where you define a dependency graph and their system automatically puts messages in queues, pops them, and executes a step. It seems like it solves the boilerplate part of distributed computing - managing message queues and fault tolerance. Please correct me if I got this wrong or missed something.

5
beagledude 3 days ago 2 replies      
nathanmarz does the work at BackType, Twitter gets the credit
6
DevX101 3 days ago 1 reply      
What are some potential applications of this?
7
jevinskie 3 days ago 0 replies      
I'll be taking a look at this today. I'm most excited about it's fault tolerance features. If this sufficiently abstracts out the details of providing robust fault tolerance, it could be a great tool to use with cloud computing.
8
mstanley 3 days ago 1 reply      
Hi Nathan! this is awesome. I'm really excited to dive deeper.

some questions:

- I'm trying to understand the relationship between ZeroMQ and Kestrel in your architecture. is ZeroMQ used for message passing? and Kestrel used as a stream source/sink - aka a sprout? in other words, my assumptions are: zookeeper helps manage node discovery and coordination while message passing between nimble managed bolt processes' are through zeromq. kestrel queues are used for external integration (data stream sources). Is this correct or am I missing something?

- do you have any tutorials on using cascalog with Storm? are they compatible or have you developed a different clojure programming model/DSL for working with Storm?

thanks and again - nice work!

10
mdaniel 3 days ago 1 reply      
Is it common practice for a corporation to release code via one user's Github account? I would expect that if Twitter were open-sourcing something, it would show up as something like https://github.com/twitter/storm that link is 404, to save you the trouble).
11
ldng 3 days ago 0 replies      
Really glad that you guys now release and than announce !
the best way to avoid the let down of ending not opening something announced earlier (whatever the reason).
Keep the trend going !
12
grantjgordon 3 days ago 0 replies      
This is fantastic! My mind is spinning with the industries that you could benefit from this, but didn't have the time/resources/focus to roll this sort of (very difficult to scale) system on their own.
13
gfodor 3 days ago 0 replies      
This is awesome, really excited to see this get released!
14
sherkund 3 days ago 1 reply      
Just out of curiosity, to what degree was Clojure chosen because of the ability to use Java libraries vs the language design + community?
15
scotto 3 days ago 0 replies      
Yeeeeessssss! Thank you Twitter!!!
16
schiptsov 3 days ago 1 reply      
Someone want to implement something like that without 100 jars of dependencies and 8Gb of memory required to just run, in old-fashioned C/Lisp way (or more modern nginx-way)? Update: on top of Plan9?! ^_^

Or, at least, in more suitable Erlang? ^_^

Isn't it an obvious startup-idea?

7
What Netflix Could Have Said This Week appleoutsider.com
352 points by barredo  2 days ago   110 comments top 37
1
ctdonath 2 days ago 7 replies      
Unified queue.

Regardless of media, business structure, delivery mechanism, company name, etc. methinks what all customers want is a single place to choose & queue content, filtered by whatever options they desire, delivered on whatever medium is available and they pay for via a spectrum of contracts (from unlimited-per-month to single order).

Just make sure it's all on one queue. If multi-queue, then only because one customer may be grouping for multiple individuals (ex.: husband wants ultraviolent scifi, wife wants sappy romances, kids want Elmo galore). Whatever you do, don't force the customer to spend time/effort along such artificial differences as media (ex.: I want the DVD of "Scarface", but it's not on streaming anymore and I don't want to pay extra for the BD version - let me pick those options based on my single content choice, don't make me search 2-3 different sites for the same title which, I notice, have unreliable availability).

Amazon faces the same issue: vast business differences between warehouses of books & other physical stuff shipped by mail, vs. server farms for Kindle, streaming video, cloud storage/processing, etc. - same problem as Netflix, yet they're doing well under one website. I can search for Moby's latest album, and when ready to order can with ease choose between CD, MP3, DVD, and instant video: same content pool, same checkout, easy delivery, user doesn't care how it all happened.

2
brown9-2 2 days ago 3 replies      
It's not just the tone of the email or the new name that bugs people - it's the complete separation of their sites, pretending that the DVD-by-mail site can't communicate with the streaming-only site, etc.

People are annoyed that their ratings/suggestions won't carry over to the new site, and that the streaming-site won't let them add a movie to their DVD-by-mail queue when they search for a title and find it's not available on streaming (or vice versa, the DVD-by-mail site won't tell them when they could be watching a title via streaming).

You have to fix that to fix the customer response.

3
rumblestrut 2 days ago 2 replies      
Reed Hastings makes me wonder what kind of company Netflix is.

Does Netflix listen to its customers? I've hated the website redesign since it launched and from what I've read, I'm certainly not alone. I find the redesign to be much less user friendly than the old one, which I loved. I don't login as much as before to browse, review and add to my queue. I avoid the website and stick to watching stuff on my Roku. In my opinion, the redesign took the Netflix website from one that was fun to use, to one that devalued the company to being just another company that provides movies. The charm is gone.

And now this odd, Qwikstupid thing. That site isn't even up yet. Is it because they planned it that way, or are they looking for customer feedback first before making any concrete changes?

And that takes me back to my original point: does Netflix care about customer feedback?

(edited for my terrible typos)

4
lukifer 2 days ago 4 replies      
It's downright embarrassing how badly Netflix has botched this transition. Not only was Netflix sitting on 25 million happy subscribers, but subscribers who were notoriously brand-loyal, and whose word-of-mouth promotion effectively acted as an unpaid sales and marketing force. Now they seem to be doing everything they can to alienate their most dedicated users, essentially saying "We don't want your business anymore".

As a Netflix user for 5+ years, I for one can't wait until a viable competitor with equivalent selection emerges.

5
tibbon 2 days ago 1 reply      
I'm guessing someone in PR wrote a letter just like it. Then the CEO decided that it didn't really have the emotion and humility that the one posted had.

Sure, PR can spin anything to seem pretty, but sometimes its really just better to admit failings (pricing changes) and show that you're not perfect.

7
dugmartin 2 days ago 0 replies      
The problem with using "Netflix Classic" is it wouldn't allow them to sell it in 12 months as a distinct brand so they can get the dropping subscriber numbers off their books.
8
foulmouthboy 2 days ago 2 replies      
The whole point of the original email was to recognize that their pricing changes made them seem out of touch. What's so bad about a CEO apologizing to his customer base? Also, I'll always take product name critiques with a grain of salt. I remember when people were complaining about how awkward MacBook Pro sounded. Don't even get me started on "iPod". If the service is good, then people will use the name and avoid the confusion that's been happening with the soon-to-be previous Netflix configuration.
9
griffinalliance 2 days ago 2 replies      
I think they renamed the DVD service so that it allows them the flexibility to sell it off at a later stage, I dont see anyone mentioning this but it is quite common for businesses to sell parts of the business to gain cash to pump into their future expansions. In this case it makes sense to put 100% into streaming.
10
tomkarlo 2 days ago 0 replies      
The name change and web site split is obviously the prelude to a spin-off. They split their stock between the streaming business and the mail business, shareholders get shares in both (and the right to hold or sell the portion they prefer) and the two businesses go their separate ways. It's a really smart way to deal with a company that has a developing business and a mature but declining business, and it will probably unlock significant value in the stock market value, because it lets people cherry pick which business they want to invest in.
11
wccrawford 2 days ago 0 replies      
I think that would solve the crisis of people hating the name, but it's not going to stop all the people who are angry about having to maintain 2 queues.
12
kreek 2 days ago 0 replies      
I like the idea of keeping it under one brand but Netflix "Classic" reminds of me of "Classic" Coke. It's like AT&T calling home phone service "Classic" phone :)

It could be Netflix:Online and Netflix:Offline or Netflix:Instant and Netflix:Delivered etc.

13
steve8918 2 days ago 0 replies      
I still think the separation of the DVD and streaming businesses was to "firewall" the cash flow of the DVD business, so that content providers couldn't use that against the streaming business in negotiations. This would severely limit the amount of money that a content provider could charge Netflix streaming.

But it's fairly obvious that this plan was too qwikly put in place, without proper due diligence. They didn't even bother to get the rights for @Qwikster on Twitter BEFORE announcing this, which was a huge PR blunder. 2 weeks ago, they could have bought the name for $1000 from this pot-smoking kid, but now I think it's worth at least 6 digits to them, just to end the embarrassment.

14
yesimahuman 2 days ago 1 reply      
I think "Netflix Classic" would be a poor name for the old service. It would be shortened to "Netflix" in conversation and cause a whole host of problems and confuse customers which "version" they were on.
15
dave1619 2 days ago 1 reply      
This letter is genius. If Netflix had sent it out I think it would have averted the entire crisis.
16
superkinz 2 days ago 1 reply      
Would have been better if they attributed the change to getting squeezed by Hollywood. At least people could sympathize rather than make Netflix into a villain. I suspect the change came in large part due to payment terms on all accounts as opposed to accounts consuming media.
17
Jun8 2 days ago 1 reply      
"Common sense is not so common"! This is incomparable to the actual post, it highlights the positive points and addresses some (though not all) FUDs.

Similar to HP, Netflix made the huge mistake of announcing big changes in one big lump, creating a chaotic reaction. They probably should have waited a little to announce the split.

Keeping the Netflix name for both companies would have been a great idea (see the two Motorola companies), as commented here it was done this way most probably because they will sell the DVD business and use that money to invest in streaming.

18
jmilloy 2 days ago 1 reply      
A DVD-by-mail queue makes sense to me. What does "queue" mean in a streaming service, especially one where availability is frequently changing? In fact, DVD-by-mail and streaming services require and invite dramatically different management by the user.

I don't want a unified queue, because I don't want a queue for my streaming service. I can think of many ways in which I would want integration between my activity in each service, of which a unified queue is one of the least innovative and least helpful.

I have to believe that, even if Netflix/Qwikster can't provide useful integration, someone can. Despite my initial negative reaction to the split, these opportunities actually make me a little excited.

19
mdda 2 days ago 0 replies      
Even if they're separate companies, Qwikster and Netflix should license (for pay) the queue information between themselves.

That way customers will remain happy, and the Qwikster brand could be sold to someone that wanted a business that has a sustainable deal with the content providers...

20
jerrya 2 days ago 0 replies      
Netflix has handled this so badly for customers and investors, and so obviously badly at that, that I can either believe they are incompetent, or that there are hidden factors (lawyers) at play.

The conspiracy theorist in me leads me to suspect it's somehow related to cost of licensing content for streaming, and negotiation positioning with Hollywood. That by burning the DVD bridge, Netflix can somehow lower costs dramatically or make their position in negotiations better. (But don't ask me how.)

Otherwise I have to believe Reed Hastings picked the wrong week to start sniffing glue.

21
rglover 2 days ago 0 replies      
Regarding this suggested letter, the author is spot on with how this should have been handled. There's really little reason for taking the DVD portion of the company and rebranding it under a totally different (and poorly selected) name.

I don't understand why Reed and the rest of the team at Netflix are throwing away such an incredible business. Like any business that offers both old and new options, they should have merely announced a plan (much like what was suggested in this letter) to slowly phase out DVDs and educate their customers on the benefits of streaming (as well as developed a plan for making more DVD-only content available via the streaming service). This just feels like that scene in the Beach where the guy gets his leg bit off by a shark and is taken out into the woods to die slowly. Despite this mistake, I still love Netflix (it's my primary source of television save for torrents). I hope they can recover from this and really turn around the brand. If not, I'll be really sad if I have to subscribe to cable again.

22
sambeau 2 days ago 0 replies      
By keeping one brand it becomes more difficult to sell-off the silver disk business without impacting the download business negatively.

Better to make a clean break now.

The only way the Netflix Classic plan makes any sense is as a staging post to splitting the company in two. This would have been good PR as well as a sensible internal business step. It lets everyone get used to the idea gradually.

23
brackin 2 days ago 0 replies      
The core issue here is the pricing change wasn't just about making more money, the main reason was Netflix had to pay a lot of money for users with Streaming included but had never used it.

As they had to say in the licensing "x amount of users have streaming" when only a percentage had ever used it".

The idea was they could now say "These users are specifically paying for streaming". They'd already split up the two plans into two different business departments.

In my opinion they should have offered a streaming plan, DVD plan but let DVD users pay a small premium to access streaming instead of doubling their core users bills, if they wanted to sort this licensing issue.

24
codeslush 2 days ago 0 replies      
25
janesvilleseo 2 days ago 0 replies      
In order for them to survive, they have to split their customers. It sucks, big time. They don't want to do it, but those who own the content are holding a gun to their head. So they have to chop their customers into two so that 7.99 is palatable to both their customers and their bottom line. And they are playing nice so that gun doesn't get bigger and blow a larger hole in their wallet.
26
deweller 2 days ago 1 reply      
Keeping the logo and the word Netflix in the new company name makes it less attractive should they wish to sell it off. Just sayin'.
27
sbkirk 2 days ago 0 replies      
I prefer the original. I got the email as a customer and felt like it did a decent job for what it was trying to do.
28
iradik 1 day ago 0 replies      
Change the implementation, not the API.

Netflix broke their API with their customers, so they're gonna be confused and upset. No explanation, no matter how good, will fix that.

It's like when you write a long comment in some code to explain why your code is goofy. Just fix the code!

In this case netflix needed to make their site more usable and make the pricing distinctions between streaming and dvd more clear.

New company, new prices, new billing options. Wayyy to much info for your avg customer. Netflix is way too confident if they think, customers won't cancel their plans with all these questions being raised. Once a customer starts to think about all these options, they might just think I don't really use Netflix much anyway!

29
absconditus 1 day ago 0 replies      
People would have bitched no matter what they said. The level of entitlement in modern society is pretty shocking.
30
lubujackson 2 days ago 0 replies      
The problem is everything wrong with the Netflix changes makes sense... if you're Netflix and hellbent on selling off your DVD business. Of course they didn't consider the users in all of this - the whole point is to shed Quikster as quickly as possible, probably by selling it to Redbox or Amazon or something.

That's why we can't have a shared queue or keep the same name or keep the pricing unified on the bill. All of this is simple to do if Quikster is a subsidiary but I wouldn't be surprised if Netflix already has a buyer for Quikster lined up. These changes have the stink of "buyer requests".

31
lubujackson 2 days ago 1 reply      
An interesting point about the name Quikster - they took the ONE weakness of the DVD by mail service (you have to wait a few days) and made it the centerpoint of their name. Completely tone-deaf branding. Not to mention archaic domain naming (-ster? Friendster was a long time ago and doesn't have a nice shine anymore). I don't work in marketing, but I couldn't imagine much worse unless they tried on purpose. Maybe "Shitster."
32
kcurtin 2 days ago 0 replies      
This letter isn't in line with Netflix's strategy. They want the Netflix brand to be completely unassociated with by-mail DVDs. Sure Qwikster is a stupid name, but in a years time we will think of it as it's own entity/brand. Netflix classic would not accomplish this.
33
pshapiro 2 days ago 0 replies      
Just me or does that sound awfully close to Apple's marketing language? "We think the benefits are going to be huge."?
34
ckenst 2 days ago 0 replies      
I'm fine with the changes Netflix made, although I would prefer to login to only one site.
35
neduma 2 days ago 1 reply      
Impressive discussions. I like the Spotify model compared to Netflix. Care to comment?
36
durga 2 days ago 0 replies      
Terrific - couldn't have phrased it better. Only missing item is maintaining ratings/carrying them over.

I wonder if Reed hastings was drunk or high when he made these announcements and wrote that blog post. Hard to believe someone who built a business so shrewdly could screw up like this..

37
plink 2 days ago 0 replies      
Quikster sounds too much like Amway's failed Quickstar. Classy.
9
Quake 2 Source Code Review fabiensanglard.net
334 points by DanielRibeiro  2 days ago   19 comments top 8
1
xedarius 1 day ago 0 replies      
I really respect Carmack, he is one of the few programmers I'd describe as an industry trend setter. I've worked on many games in my career, and seen a lot of engines. When you read through the Q2 and perhaps a better example is the Q3 engine source, you sit there and think, hang on .. where's the rest of the code? He takes a complex problem and reduces it to a set of simple components, and reuses those components. This is incredibly hard to do.

What the article doesn't impress upon people is the effect Carmacks code has on the industry. The shaders in Quake 3 were a huge thing, now seems so obvious. I have no evidence for this, however I wouldn't be surprised if Q3 shaders are the reason we have vertex/pixel shaders in hardware today.

2
kleiba 2 days ago 2 replies      
3D graphics is something I've always wanted to look into more once I have a lot of time on my hands. Watching a good deal of Notch's ludum dare already whetted my appetite.
And now just glancing over this article makes my finger tips itch, I'd like to take a week off and start diving into it. It's just great. I love the extra work Fabien put in to link to many external books and articles.

This is so bookmarked!

3
wccrawford 2 days ago 0 replies      
"I have no idea why id software decided to trust the C Standard Library at this point"

This quote reminds me why I liked watching Notch's video for Ludum Dare. We not only get to see the final result, but the way it got to be that way, and some of his thoughts on it as well.

4
0x0 2 days ago 3 replies      
I noticed this comment in the "notes.html":

  // Set the floating point precision ...
_controlfp
// Question: Why do that for every frames ? Probably because precision is altered during the loop execution.
// Answer: The is no other call to this function. It appears that floating point precision remains the same during program execution.

I seem to vaguely recall reading something about some versions of Windows not preserving the FPU state across task switches. Could it be that this call to configure the FPU for every frame is a workaround for that?

5
quux 2 days ago 1 reply      
Dammit... first the workings of Thief and now this!

I have work to do!

6
VMG 2 days ago 0 replies      
Excellent. I had a lot of fun recently looking at ioquake3 code and picking up a thing or two.
7
Agathos 2 days ago 1 reply      
On a totally different note, my wrists hurt just looking at that picture of Carmack in front of his Intergraph monitor. Lower your keyboard, man!
8
msftguy 2 days ago 0 replies      
"Since I was running Windows on a Mac with Parallels it was uneasy to hit "printscreen" while the game was running. I hardcoded the '*' from the keypad to produce the same"

Umm.. educational, sure, but can't you just:
alias +shift "bind 8 screenshot";
alias -shift "bind 8 whatever_was_bound_to_8";
bind shift +shift;

11
Why do Windows functions all begin with a pointless MOV EDI, EDI instruction? msdn.com
313 points by cabacon  1 day ago   43 comments top 8
1
jswinghammer 1 day ago 4 replies      
I have basically no background writing applications on Windows outside of .Net but I love reading posts by Raymond Chen. I always enjoying learning about things that seem crazy from the outside from have a real purpose that you're just missing information to understand. That's pretty much what looking at someone else's code is often like so it's helpful to remember that even seemingly crazy things have a purpose.

I feel like I've learned a lot from reading his blog over the years. I even bought his book years ago because I felt like I was getting a lot of value from the blog.

It's really too bad Microsoft doesn't seem to value backwards compatibility as much as they did during the times Chen often writes about. It seems like an interesting challenge that they've pretty much given up on. I can't even count how many conversations I've been in where people complained on one hand that Microsoft focused on that backwards compatibility too much and on the other that their driver from 2001 doesn't work right in Windows 7. Often these statements happen moments apart.

2
tptacek 1 day ago 5 replies      
If you're never had a chance to play with it, Detours, the more complex alternative to the hot-patch strategy Chen is talking about, is really slick.

What you do in Detours is, freeze the process, disassemble the first several instructions of the function you want to hook, copy out enough of them to make room for a full jump instruction, copy in your hook function somewhere in memory, followed by the instructions you stole to make room for the jump, followed by a jump back to the original function. Then you patch in a jump to that location and unfreeze the process.

The example programs for Detours do this, for instance, on every libc function to implement library tracing.

That this "just works" with Microsoft's Detours package is kind of mindboggling.

This is a great project to tackle if you want to write programmable debuggers. We've done it for Win32 (you need a full build environment to use Detours; we have the whole thing in Ruby), OS X, and Linux. It's crazy useful.

3
rwmj 1 day ago 0 replies      
For those that are interested, the Linux kernel does almost the same thing (if compiled that way):

https://lwn.net/Articles/264029/

The mcount feature piggybacks on the profiling instruction added into every function when you use the gcc -pg option.

Edit: better link is probably this one:
http://www.mjmwired.net/kernel/Documentation/trace/ftrace.tx...

4
ajross 1 day ago 1 reply      
NOOP sequences in x86 are a fun subject. There's an interesting section in Intel's optimization guide somewhere (I'm too lazy to find it) that details "best practice" noop instructions of 1, 2, ... up to something like 9 bytes. These are used for alignment puposes too, where you need a few bytes of padding to make a loop-back target cache-line aligned or whatnot.
5
cousin_it 1 day ago 4 replies      
Okay I have two questions that might be very clueless but I don't know the answer to them so I will ask them anyway.

1) In the comments Raymond says, "Hot-patching is not an application feature. It's an OS internal feature for servicing." Then why does the compiler put hot-patch points in my code? Why not use a special compiler flag when building Windows DLLs?

2) Why do we need a special hot-patch point at all? What's wrong with just overwriting the first few bytes of the function you want to hot-patch?

6
alexwestholm 1 day ago 1 reply      
Wow awesome explanation - about 6 years ago while hacking gtk+ and Mozilla I used those instructions to hack into the main event loop to get gtk+ embedding gecko 1.7 and had no idea that those my perceived hacks where actually some what valid method for doing what I needed to do - modify how window events from gecko where propagated to gtk+ event loop and vice versa. I think that my bug report is probably still open and might even be worth revisiting if anyone is still interested in gtk+ with Mozilla embedded - would likely need to make lots of changes... Latest gecko is 1.9?? Anyways awesome explanation
7
giardini 1 day ago 3 replies      
Whatever happened to the old idea of separating program and data spaces and write-protecting the program space?
8
wwwww 1 day ago 0 replies      
Then why do I need to restart the computer after I install anything?
12
Tim O'Reilly on OccupyWallStreet google.com
299 points by BrentRitterbeck  3 days ago   91 comments top 15
1
AndrewMoffat 3 days ago 6 replies      
> The smirk on the face of the Fox News reporter who was interviewing various participants said it all. "These people are easy to dismiss."

https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-X-DagzpHhDU/TnevQadAJeI/A...
https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/-Che5TfKQre8/TnevQT7sqZI/A...

2
neilk 3 days ago 0 replies      
I don't know if these protests are going anywhere, but it's good to remember that movements can start very small.

In Egypt, half a year before Tahrir Square January-February 2011, they had the "silent stand"[1] -- which consisted of just showing up in public places en masse and saying nothing, in memory of a young man who'd been tortured to death by security services. I'm pretty sure I heard Wael Ghonim say that even he thought it was a slightly daft idea until it actually happened, and then it seemed that they'd found a catalyst for average people to join in a protest.

I too hope for some sort of movement that can bridge the artificial divide between Tea Partiers and scruffy leftist kids. Fundamentally, nobody is asking for particularly radical reforms here; so it should be possible to have widespread support.

[1] http://www.demotix.com/news/394309/khaled-said-silent-stand-...

3
chrismealy 3 days ago 3 replies      
Financial capital has always been at war with productive capital. Because it's more concentrated in power (and even geographically) it's easier for financial capital to be aware of its interests and work together towards them. Productive capital is dispersed and varied. Tim O'Reilly is the rare CEO who's smart enough to know what's going on and what side he's on. Good for him.
4
chernevik 3 days ago 3 replies      
"Occupy Wall Street", and their buddies "We are the 99" and "Days of Rage", dislike Wall Street because they dislike wealth. The Tea Party dislikes Wall Street because the wealth comes from implied government guarantees and regulatory barriers to competition. They could agree on cutting the Washington / New York interconnections.

But that's not actually in the interests the smart money actually funding the "Occupy Wall Street" types. The last Congress gave us "finance reform" that left us Too Big Too Fail and a bunch more regulatory levers. The pols got more scope for favors and campaign donations, the bankers got more regulatory barriers to competitive entry.

The chief author of that "reform"? Progressive Barney Frank.

The Tea Party is the GOP's reckoning for failing their principles. The Democrats has yet to come.

5
OstiaAntica 3 days ago  replies      
O'Reilly is wrong about the Tea Party-- the entire movement got started during the crisis in 2008. The Tea Party and conservative Republicans initially defeated the TARP bailout in the U.S. House. And the Tea Party and Ron Paul are the main reason that the Federal Reserve -- the kingpin of America's corrupt banking regime -- is under political fire.

The Tea Party doesn't have much presence in NYC and its leaders weren't involved in this particular protest, and "Occupying" is a sixties lefty word that's not going to turn out the Tea Party rank and file.

6
tmsh 3 days ago 2 replies      
I don't know if anyone here watches Suits. But basically the reason the Harvey character wins is the reason Wall Street has not been held accountable. A lot of people pay a lot of money and there is enough ingenious strategizing to protect assets for large Wall Street firms (and enough tangential interests among any large American investor), that it makes complete sense that Wall Street has not and will probably not be held accountable.

However, if you truly want to fix a problem like that, you have to out-strategize back. Which doesn't necessarily mean legal measures. E.g., no need to occupy Wall Street, as long as the lessons are learned and it's replaced by something better.

7
pkaler 3 days ago 4 replies      
Silicon Valley should look itself in the mirror if it wants to throw stones at Wall Street.

Tim O'Reilly is posting to the site of a corporation that funnels money to Bermuda so that it only has to pay a 2.4% tax rate.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Double_Irish_Arrangement
http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2010-10-21/google-2-4-rate-sho...

And O'Reilly probably has Eric Schmidt and Larry Page's phone numbers.

8
wisty 2 days ago 2 replies      
Since 1967, real median household income in the USA has risen from ~$40k to ~$49k, a growth of about 0.5% a year. (http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/b/bd/US_...)

Since 1967, real GDP of the USA rose from 4T to 13T, a 320% increase (2005 dollars), or a growth of about 2.8% a year. (http://www.data360.org/dataset.aspx?Data_Set_Id=354)

This would be my sign:

US household income growth: 0.5% a year since the 60s.

US GDP growth: 2.8% a year since the 60s.

Who is stealing our growth?

9
nhangen 3 days ago 2 replies      
Why does every political argument resort to "tea party this" or "liberal that." Drives me nuts we can't have conversations without sweeping generalizations and broad attacks.
10
ddw 3 days ago 2 replies      
Ironic isn't it that the people that are most effected by financial polices - the working class and poor - usually don't come out to these kind of things.

But I wouldn't give up on it yet, a core seems to be prepared for long-term occupation and it could grow.

11
azulum 3 days ago 0 replies      
loved one of the posters about the student loan crisis being the next housing crisis. i have a bachelors with three majors. i graduated in 2008. my education has been worth (45000) plus (5 years) plus an ability to recognize bullshit. yep, 45k. i thought i'd get a decent job. now i realize that i have to manufacture my own job.

edit: shame sallie mae loans can't be bankrupted anymore.

12
S_A_P 3 days ago 1 reply      
The Tim O'Reilly Factor?

In my only semi informed opinion, it seems that this sort of crime is so distributed and hard to prove that it likely is just too difficult to create a convincing case to a jury of folks who may or may not really grasp what really happened on wall street. I am not even sure that many of the fraudsters even knew the full consequence of their actions. I am by no means defending anyone here, I just think that the "crime" is too difficult to package up neatly.

13
twoodfin 2 days ago 0 replies      
> There are a set of people who constructed a set of financial products with intent to defraud. They took our country to the brink of ruin, then got off scott free, even with multi-million dollar bonuses.

I have a feeling this movement would be much more effective if it could actually name names and link to evidence. "Read Taibbi" isn't enough. I've read all of Taibbi's pieces, and it's hard to see a real criminal case succeeding out of what he presents. Some of it might seem outrageous, but investors were aware of the risks in CDOs well before the bubble burst and wanted them anyway. Claiming a little marketing spin from Goldman Sachs is a criminal attempt to defraud doesn't pass the laugh test for me.

15
maxogden 3 days ago 0 replies      
... in which the Radar rises to face the Factor
13
Netflix Splits DVD And Streaming Businesses techcrunch.com
297 points by ssclafani  3 days ago   197 comments top 56
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Jun8 3 days ago  replies      
It seems I'm in the minority who thinks this is an over the top reaction to Wall Street pressure. It was clear for a number of years now that Netflix saw streaming as the future. But cutting off the DVD business like that... it's extreme. A lot of the movies are not available for streaming. Yes, their streaming portfolio is probably still the best (and has excellent children's content, my son watches it every night) but why force your users to decide?

The problems, as I see them:

1. The two parts (DVD & streaming) had different characteristics (bigger collection vs. instant gratification) that balanced each other. This synergy is now gone.

2. The attack surface for other companies has just doubled. Netflix's DVD handling is super streamlined (they have special sorters in postal centers) but there are other strong players like Redbox here. The streaming biz is nothing unique, Amazon can easily get to that level of collection in a short time. Divide and conquer? They just did it to themselves!

3. As others have pointed out, the reviews, and user histories will be split. From a subscriber perspective this is most undesirable, now I have to deal with two sites.

4. The quality of recommendations will suffer with less data (they weren't great to start with) after the split.

5. How will this affect developers using the Netflix API?

6. What will happen to Netflix's original content creation efforts, this will be a huge distraction to those. And they are vital.

Overall, this has a heavy handedness to it that makes you wish for the comfort of the likes of Amazon.

EDIT: This also makes my suspicions that Amazon is gearing up to a massive upgrade of their offering soon. Netflix probably tried to focus on streaming and stay ahead in the game. How? I don't know.

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bryanh 3 days ago 2 replies      
In my opinion, this is definitely the obvious and correct move. It isn't a surprise that Netflix wanted to head towards a stream only business model, but this makes it crystal clear that Netflix is (at the moment) a premium streaming video company. I mean look at them, thats all they do now!

The still face some big hurdles with all their streaming content deals, and the outcome will likely be what makes or breaks the Netflix we all know and love. Premium content providers (HBO, Starz, and now AMC, etc...) will always hold the upper hand here, and many already have streaming products in place. If not, its rather trivial to create nowadays.

My prediction: Netflix becomes an original content powerhouse that harnesses the sort of democratic whimsey of the web. "House of Cards" is their toe in the water. I really see no other direction that is feasible with content providers fragmenting into their space and hoarding their popular original content.

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TomOfTTB 3 days ago 3 replies      
I think this is a good move simply because the two divisions have contradictory goals at this point.

For example, the Qwikster division should be looking at finding ways to deliver DVDs quicker (Kiosks for example). But that's not something that would ever occur to Netflix because they're focused on streaming as the future.

Which is where the contradiction comes in. It is hard to run a business unit when the goal of the company overall is to kill off your unit.

That said I think announcing it today is foolish. Even if it was their original plan to do so announcing it right after a stock drop makes the decision look rash. IMHO they should have put this announcement off for a couple weeks.

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crgt 3 days ago 4 replies      
I'll throw it out as a side note, because in all the discussions I've read on Netflix of late no one seems to mention it: Netflix has FANTASTIC kids content available for streaming. My kids would revolt if we cancelled our service. That alone guarantees my business until there is a truly compelling replacement. I cannot believe we're the only family like this. And while this is probably not a large enough market to sustain them (let alone power growth), they do seem to have a pretty good sense of how people engage with their content - and my guess is that their deep long-tail of streaming content actually holds more appeal than might be guessed. To be honest, my only frustration with them of late has been the fact that my streaming queue is overrun with "Bob the Builder" & "Caillou" when I'm actually looking for something to watch. Perhaps this new, sharper focus on the streaming side will enable them to improve things like this? Here's hoping they survive this transformation and emerge stronger for it.
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foobarbazoo 3 days ago 2 replies      
Qwikster is a terrible name, and this is a terrible move.

Hastings is now in competition with that guy running HP to see who can destroy their company first.

Maybe Ballmer will get in the game and spin off Windows/Office from Microsoft, and rebrand them "Facetown", while proclaiming Bing to be the future of the company.

Unbelievable.

Update: I predict Qwikster is dead and buried within 5 years, and someone else pushes past Netflix on the streaming side to be the leader there.

This move is unbelievably stupid. Any trust I had in Netflix over the long haul is gone.

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aaronbrethorst 3 days ago 2 replies      
This decision was not made over night, and this change has been coming for quite a while. In fact, if you go look at this post on Netflix's API blog dated 27 June 2011[1], you'll see:

As of Oct. 14th, 2011, the Netflix API will be focused exclusively on offering content and functionality from the streaming catalog. As a result, we will be discontinuing the support of DVD-related features in the Open API.

They go on to say that this is to support long term goals around internationalization, but that does not, by any means, preclude this split.

[1] http://developer.netflix.com/blog/read/Upcoming_Changes_to_t...

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encoderer 3 days ago 0 replies      
I posted this on their blog before I saw the thread here:

Remember the quote by Henry Ford? It went more or less like: "If I asked customers what they wanted, they'd have told me a faster horse." The truth is, all the customers here -- myself included -- are probably the least qualified people to say this is a bad idea.

I do think that some communication between the 2 sites is important. But it's not as if that's off the table. Once they get around to developing it, it won't be hard to have an "Available On Netflix" link beside entries on your Qwikster queue. In fact, doing so would be effective cross-promotion.

The truth to me seems to be this: These really are very different businesses. And it's true streaming is the future. I expect Blu Ray to be the last optical disc player people ever buy. From there on, it's all streaming.

A future we could've faced is one where Netflix devotes more and more resources to streaming license fees and data centers, they close regional netflix warehouses, dvd delivery goes back to 2+ days instead of the 1 day it currently is for most the US population. In general, the DVD service is choked of leadership talent within the company and capital improvements.

Now, there's a CEO of DVD's by mail. A man who has full budgetary powers over just the DVD business. A business NFLX KNOWS how to run profitably and repeatably. It's a franchise. They've got that stuff DOWN.

I'm not an apologist. I currently opted to pay for both services and I'm not happy about the price increase. But, I'll wait and see. In 6-12 months, if we don't see some big improvements in stream selection, I'll probably chose to cancel that side of my account, and use Hulu Plus and Amazon instead. But for now, I respect the hard decisions businesses make when they see the need to pivot.

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losvedir 3 days ago 0 replies      
Just for posterity's sake, I'll join in on the "this is a great move" side.

I know there's a lot of wailing and gnashing of teeth by current Netflix customers with established movie watching habits who will now face more inconvenience.

However, I use Netflix exclusively for the streaming, so I'm very excited about the future here. If they can sell off the Quikster (sp? dumb name) business and then use that capital for all sorts of good streaming stuff, then that's good for me.

I remember reading an interview with Hastings a long time ago where he said his vision was all about streaming content (hence the name, "Netflix" from the start, and nothing locking him down to DVDs, which he felt would someday be obsolete leaving his company with an anachronistic name). At that time, though, so many people only had dial-up that it just wasn't feasible.

It's interesting and somewhat amusing to me that the interim "send DVDs by mail" business got to be so huge and successful, but I see Hastings as finally trying his hand at his initial dream.

More power to him, I say, as a decade or two down the line, it will be streaming all the way, no doubt.

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Lukeas14 3 days ago 3 replies      
The elephant in the streaming office is the lack of blockbuster titles, many of which are only available through their DVD by mail business. If they're betting everything on streaming i'm guessing (hoping) that they've also figured out a solution to this problem. Otherwise, they've lost the big benefit of credibility that DVD by mail brought to their service.
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morrow 3 days ago 2 replies      
"...the Qwikster.com and Netflix.com websites will not be integrated. So if you subscribe to both services, and if you need to change your credit card or email address, you would need to do it in two places. Similarly, if you rate or review a movie on Qwikster, it doesn't show up on Netflix, and vice-versa."

Wow. I had previously thought that their pricing change was forcing consumers to effectively choose between streaming and disc-based services, but didn't expect that they'd actually go this far and completely cut the cord between the two.

Considering the how much less efficient it is to mail movies than it is to download them in an age of high gas prices and fast internet, Netflix killing or spinning-off it's dvd service was an inevitability. I'm just not sure that right now the streaming service by itself has the selection to keep subscription numbers high enough to maintain sufficient leverage with content providers.

Momentum is very important with the type of model they have: the more content Netflix loses to studios who start their own streaming services, the less appealing the Netflix service becomes to subscribers, which both weakens the argument for studios to stick with them due to the size of their subscriber base and also sets a positive example of succeeding without Netflix that other studios can follow.

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nihilocrat 3 days ago 1 reply      
For the record, since Netflix Canada launched sometime last year, it has been a streaming-only service. We have a kind of sucky selection that is getting better as time passes, but I can understand why they went streaming-only. From this perspective, it's pretty odd seeing people disapproving of the choice or showing attachment to the DVD service.
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sandieman 3 days ago 0 replies      
Biggest downfall here will potentially be the separation of ratings. Dvd and streaming customers will have to rate dvd first and then see it as unwatched in streaming later?

I think of Netflix as my repository for "what I have watched" and teller of "what you will want to watch". I don't tie the brand to a specific delivery mechanism (dvd or streaming).

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beagledude 3 days ago 2 replies      
has everyone forgotten how limited the streaming service is? They should have waited until they at least have a selection. I'm going DVD service, and Amazon for streaming.
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icefox 3 days ago 1 reply      
"Qwikster will also now offer video game rentals through the mail"

While I wouldn't sign up full time for a game rental service I would be interested in getting a game now and then rather than a dvd. Suffice it to say for my needs a dvd in the mail fit my needs exactly and I will continue paying for that.

Edit: not to mention from what I hear games always have a long waiting list on other services. I am more than happy to put a game at the top of my list and getting it at some point in the next two months, but meanwhile getting dvd's that I want.

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cek 3 days ago 5 replies      
That Netflix needs to keep making these changes is simply a symptom of a brutal endemic problem:

    In general, subscription business suck.

Most subscription businesses suck because they are dependent on CAC (customer acquisition costs; the cost required to land a new sub) and churn (the percentage of subs that leave the service).

For example, a typical gross CAC for a business like netflix is $200. At $10/mo the subscriber has to stay a sub for almost 2 years before any profit is made. Meanwhile the company had to spend the $200 up front, burning through capital. Also, meanwhile, 15-20% of the customers leave every month. Those customers will never pay off the costs the company spent to aquire them. It's an never-ending spiral of death. As seen by Vonage, Netflix, etc...

But Netflix has another endemic problem: They are the bitch of the content providers. Netflix owns NOTHING (especially in their streaming only biz). All it takes is one content provider to balk (Starz) and the only way they'll get new subs is to spend more on marketing which raises CAC. Which accelerates death.

Name a few successful subscription businesses. Successful (in my mind) means PROFITABLE. Revenue does not mean sh. Come-on, name 'em. (Those that you do name will have some sort of monopoly or exclusive right to a physical asset).

This is why, as an investor, I will never invest in companies that think they can be successful with a subscription business model.

This is also why Apple is kicking ass. Apple gets paid up front. The only way to go.

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steve8918 3 days ago 1 reply      
Gasp, this is turning into a joke!

I had Netflix for a few months, I used it to watch the entire Battlestar Galactica. After that, I went through and searched for 30 different movies to watch, and they weren't available, and I'm not talking about new movies. None of the Indiana Jones', Star Wars', Rockies, Bladerunner, etc. Now with the Starz debacle, and with content providers getting ready to pound them with price increases, Netflix is in real trouble.

Yes, streaming is the way to do it. I love streaming. But I don't think it will be through Netflix. This sounds like a company in its death throws.

I simply don't understand why they would split themselves up into 2 companies. The only reason why I can think of why they would cut themselves into 2 companies, is so that the content providers can't use the DVD business' cash flow to pay for the content. So content providers can't charge an arm and a leg because the cash flow of the streaming side would be much smaller.

However, the miscalculation here is that content providers can simply make their own content available themselves through streaming. Which is already happening in other continents, and even in the US through Google, Facebook etc. I think Netflix has severely miscalculated itself, and this may be the end.

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superkinz 3 days ago 4 replies      
People always go up in arms about change of price like this. For a long time, the prices at Netflix mostly stayed the same because they started with DVDs, and later added streaming. The streaming catalog wasn't built out enough for them to monetize it with confidence. So what did they do? They gave us a break and let us have free streaming. Now that it's a significant catalog, they want us to pay for the service... which they have to license! And it aint cheap for them to do that.

Now that it's doubled, people feel it's outrageous! But it's not because of the value they're receiving, it's because they're conditioned to expect one price and it's now higher. They lost a million subscribers, but Netflix will get those back after people realize they were being idiots.

Let me ask you a question, would you rather pay $15 a month for unlimited streaming and DVDs, or $50 to Comcast for basic cable? In my book, $15 is a pretty damn reasonable price.

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dr_ 3 days ago 0 replies      
In theory, however, Qwikster doesn't have to limit itself to DVD's in the future. If it's real focus is shipping speed for items that are rented (or more likely purchased), it could expand into other product lines. Speed of shipping is a process in and of itself, something that very few companies, like Amazon, have gotten down.
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ollysb 3 days ago 0 replies      
The greatest opportunity for netflix is to become the global leader in streaming films. They've been slow to expand in this regard. I've been waiting for netflix to hit the UK for a long time. By dropping DVDs they avoid any expectation of a service that requires significant investment in infrastructure. This presumably also makes negotiations far simpler and faster. With a race to penetration in each new market this could be critical.
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9999 3 days ago 0 replies      
As a user of their service, I found it very frustrating when they removed the ability to add movies to your dvd queue that were not available via their streaming service from within the streaming service interface on the ps3, xbox 360, etc. A further separation will probably just force me to drop the disc by mail service altogether, since I really, really, don't want to put up with the hassle of logging into an entirely different site to manage my queue.
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nhangen 3 days ago 1 reply      
As a once happy customer turned unhappy customer for a variety of reasons, I believe this signals the beginning of the end for Netflix.

By the way, thanks for destroying Blockbuster on the way down. I had more options 2 years ago than I do now.

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hesdeadjim 3 days ago 2 replies      
I read this and my brain immediately thought it had to be an April Fools joke. It took a second or two to remember it is September.

Regardless, my hat is off to them for betting the company's name on their streaming business. I know that's the only part of their service I use anymore -- I've had the same DVD checked out for over a year because I couldn't be bothered to deal with the perceived hassle of managing my queue and planning what I want to watch in advance.

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barrybe 3 days ago 0 replies      
Side note: TechCrunch got back to doing real news. Good for them!
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cmelbye 3 days ago 0 replies      
I really wish they would address the lack of many movies and TV shows for streaming. I'd love to just subscribe to Netflix instead of Qwikster, but the streaming catalogue is just not there right now.
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krashidov 3 days ago 0 replies      
I researched Netflix for a project back when they had around 8 million subscribers and the biggest part of their business was direct mail DVD.

The strides they've come to have the Netflix brand as more than just a DVD rental service are immense. My only worry about this move is that they lose all of that brand recognition with "Qwikster."

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bethling 3 days ago 0 replies      
I kept my account even after planning on dropping it when the price increase happened, but now I don't really see any reason to keep my streaming account. At least when they were integrated, searching in one place, and having all my reviews in one place provided some additional benefit for me.

Now I don't really see any benefit at all for keeping the streaming portion over Amazon Prime (which I have) and maybe adding Hulu Plus. I'll have to see if having the game option makes it useful for me to keep the DVD portion of my account.

As soon as the sites split, NetFlix looses a great deal of value to me as a customer. Before it was a single place where I could pick movies to see - whether streaming or on DVD, now it becomes a repository of a bunch of okay television shows and (esp. once they lose Starz Play), a mediocre movie selection.

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dotBen 3 days ago 0 replies      
Seems pretty obvious that the plan here is to sell the DVD business (perhaps to PE), raise capital, and use it to do a combination of original content creation and for leveraged with the main studios to get the same premium titles into the streaming service that would already be available on the DVD service.

However if I'm right the CEO Reed isn't being any more forthcoming or communicative about his true plans then he was before.

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davidjade 3 days ago 0 replies      
Every time I've looked at my Netflix queue and seen how few of the items in it are available via streaming, I've question whether to drop Netflix streaming now that it's a separate plan. Now that it's a separate non-integrated service, it's an easier decision for me. I wonder is this is part of the plan though? If you can't add non-streaming content to the streaming queue in the first place you're not constantly being reminded of what's missing or how little is available to stream.

Every conversation of late about Netflix streaming seems to focus on the lack or pending lack of content when the Starz deal expires. A streaming service that didn't make lack of streaming content front and center to the user experience would seem to have a better chance of succeeding, especially for new users that quickly try and build up a queue only to find that particular item they now browsing isn't available to stream. Once you separate out the everything's availability of a huge DVD catalog, perhaps user won't miss what's not there quite as much.

I also wonder if those users that care about DVDs primarily care about having access to more than just recent movies and content that will never stream via Netflix (HBO shows?) and that perhaps the future of streaming is more about more recent movies and TV shows. However, if Netflix streaming doesn't progress to the point where it has a catalog breadth like the current DVD catalog, I worry what that means for those who enjoy having access to all of that long-tail content, especially now that local DVD stores with large catalogs are pretty much non-existent.

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jjm 3 days ago 0 replies      
Clearly this will be disheartening to the true user such as myself. By splitting functionality as to prevent easy access to either material nor allowing usage of existing ratings they're continuing the trend toward customer alienation.

I say this almost all the time, but even if Netfix renegotiates for retaining Starz it is still not yet an adequate amount of viewing content for me to wholely dismiss DVD by mail, regardless of where I even stand on the matter in terms of philosophy.

In the end I still gain a larger bill, continued limited streaming content, and a split in usability.

And what of netflix when Hollywood continues to charge into extinction taking Netflix with them?

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meemo 3 days ago 0 replies      
The real question to ask is: Is this good for customers?
It doesn't matter if the goals of the two businesses are different. What matters is how it affects customers. Do customers consider the services as separate entities or as two parts of the same whole?
I think they'll lose a few customers who like both services, but feel awkward about dealing with two companies now instead of one (like me).
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eternalmatt 3 days ago 5 replies      
What an absolutely awful name "Qwikster". I'm still frowning in disgust.
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whichdan 3 days ago 2 replies      
I wonder what Netflix will show for search results that are only available on Qwikster.
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WalterBright 3 days ago 0 replies      
To me, dvd+streaming is worth more combined than separate. I guess Netflix will find that out. Without the DVDs, Netflix is just another streaming company with little to differentiate it. There will no longer be any barriers for me to switch to another streaming service, like Amazon.

80% of what I want to see is DVD only. It is far, far too soon to dump that - I'd dump the streaming first.

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jontsai 1 day ago 0 replies      
tldr;

I read through probably half of the comments and then skimmed the rest, so sorry if this was already mentioned:

What if Netflix streaming service improves A LOT, and their movie collection grows to encompass pretty much every movie out there? A lot of the discussion has assumed that Netflix would remain the same, but with their focusing exclusively on streaming, I could see how they would have more leverage to negotiate with content owners to license movies--for one, they could charge a higher subscription fee and offer more revenue share for streaming and a more comprehensive catalog, something that I'd be very happy to pay an extra $5 for (I currently only have the streaming plan)

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biot 3 days ago 0 replies      
For those who think Netflix has been smoking a bong with this move: https://mobile.twitter.com/Qwikster
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badclient 3 days ago 0 replies      
To reduce risk, I think they could have pushed the Quickster brand within the Netflix UI harder before putting all this on its own domain.
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lliles 3 days ago 0 replies      
Question for anybody more familiar with the content licensing business:

How does Netflix becoming stream-only affect their negotiating position with the content license holders?

One comment points out that both Netflix and content holders can't lean on the DVD mailing business to supplement licensing costs. Is it really the case that content providers could hold Netflix to higher licensing costs or more catalog restrictions if they (both sides) know Netflix has the DVD mailing business to supplement the streaming business?

I wonder if there are other reasons behind this split more directly tied to licensing. Would content providers be more willing to open up their content catalogs with a stream-only business?

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outside1234 3 days ago 2 replies      
what a terrible idea. the best part of Netflix is that it was integrated between DVD and streaming queues. dfm. how much does Amazon cost with Prime?
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pcj 3 days ago 0 replies      
Something just doesn't seem right here. Netflix could have easily worked on both DVD and streaming and each team could have focused on strengthening their services without causing any inconvenience (2 separate websites and queues?) to the customers. Had this been an Merger between two companies who were in DVD and streaming business, markets would've hailed the decision (just because of the synergy).

I am sure Hastings is not naive enough to not think about these obvious things, which makes me think, how does this help them? I can't think of even one angle where splitting the companies makes sense?

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fatdogs12 3 days ago 0 replies      
This move is simply idiotic. It doesn't matter what netflix wants, it matters what the customers want. Now I have to go somewhere else to manage DVD's by mail? With a horrible name like kwikster?! Are you serious? Why do I need netflix again? They don't have the budget to get the best movies and now they are making my life harder. They are like the opposite of Apple. I didn't mind the price increase from a couple moths back at all, I know it costs money to have a good selection. But now they have basically said "Oh hey we made a really stupid decision before so we're gonna make things better by making a worse decision."

I now hate netflix, I can cancel everything and move to amazon's streaming service. I think it's hilarious that an employee of netflix on HN said that netflix excels by being very focused. That makes no sense. You can't just treat your customers like crap and expect them to love you. I shorted their stock before the 20% and I can't wait to watch it go down further.

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antidaily 3 days ago 0 replies      
Sidenote: http://instantwatcher.com is a great companion site to Netflix streaming.
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dustyreagan 3 days ago 0 replies      
Why is Netflix performing seppuku?
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aninteger 3 days ago 0 replies      
Does anyone else see ISPs putting caps on bandwidth restrictions in the future and thus hampering Netflix (and other streaming companies) effors? I thought some residential internet plans already have caps in place.
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scdc 3 days ago 1 reply      
This reminds me of Apple killing the floppy.

Anyway, this is all about negotiations to get more content in the streaming service. If newer movies and more tv shows appear in the streaming service, no one will care about DVDs by mail.

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mrbill 3 days ago 0 replies      
I never signed up for Netflix until they offered the streaming service, and then never used the physical DVD delivery option - and changed to streaming-only as soon as they made it available. Some of us don't want physical discs. Having such a wide variety of content - even if it's not as varied as the physical media selection - for less than $10 a month is awesome.
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urbanturbanguy 3 days ago 0 replies      
Whatever happens this will make a B-school case study very soon. The case where a company decided to be pro-active in picking a market vertical based on incomplete data. Weather case will have a positive spin or a negative one, only time will tell.
As a streaming customer I hope they will work on enriching their library.
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dennisgorelik 3 days ago 0 replies      
Looks like Netflix is killing its DVD branch and focuses on streaming branch.

It's hard to say yet how it would work out.

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fastspring 3 days ago 0 replies      
I'm buying NFLX shares at $147. Down from $300, I think people are overdoing how much impact the recent issues will have on the company value and future prospects.
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JeffDClark 3 days ago 0 replies      
I think that everyone is missing the really big thing here, the US Post Office is screwed...
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brigadier 3 days ago 0 replies      
Early morning my phone buzzed that i got this email from: Reed Hastings, Co-Founder.

only reading the title, i thought poor prince of Nigeria...

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badclient 3 days ago 0 replies      
Make your bet. Two years from now, is Netflix still going to be doing DVDs in some form--whether via Qwikster or otherwise?

I say yes.

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mschonfeld 3 days ago 0 replies      
I wonder what they'll do with customers who are already signed up for both...
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hrasm 3 days ago 0 replies      
A poorly thought out point: a defensive move against the whole company folding due to some reason?
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ByteMuse 3 days ago 0 replies      
This seems like an act of desperation.
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finin 3 days ago 1 reply      
Netflix steaming is the new Blockbuster. I disliked Blockbuster because their stores had many copies of currently popular movies and not much else. I liked Netflix because it had an enormous catalog that let me work on seeing all of the great films that had been made in the last 100 years that I'd missed. Netflix streaming is like Blockbuster. At any given time it lets me access only a fraction of its catalog and that fraction is biased toward what is popular. Netflix steaming is the new Blockbuster. :-(
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Google+ Opens to All googleblog.blogspot.com
296 points by Umalu  2 days ago   175 comments top 41
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Kylekramer 2 days ago  replies      
The fact that dozens of comments think 90 days is too long for a service to be invite only shows we are really in a instant gratification news bubble here. 90 days! People act like we are talking about Chinese Democracy or Duke Nukem Forever here (not to mention that for about 80 of those days getting in was merely a five minute search process for anyone who really cared).

The majority of comments here are about too long of an invite window, nymwars, and Google Apps. While I appreciate those are important issues for people, acting like they are going to kill Google+ is extremely shortsighted and uninteresting. They are about as much of a factor in Google+'s success as the quality of the concession stands at Fenway to the Red Sox's success.

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sjs382 2 days ago 8 replies      
...almost everyone.

"Google+ is not yet available for Google Apps. Learn More."

I should have known better than to get my hopes up...

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naner 2 days ago 1 reply      
The whole "real names" fiasco[1] diminished my excitement for the platform.

1: http://www.zephoria.org/thoughts/archives/2011/08/04/real-na...

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xnxn 2 days ago 6 replies      
I'm alarmed that the comments here are so bitter. Am I the only one who's had a positive experience with G+ so far? (Is my perception rose-tinted because I really, really want Facebook to die?)

The new Hangout stuff is great, and the addition of screen sharing has now obviated my need to use Skype. Maybe when On Air opens up I'll be able to broadcast my programming sessions.

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sp332 2 days ago 3 replies      
Why is everyone complaining about Apps accounts not being able to sign up? It says right on the "features" page http://www.google.com/apps/intl/en/business/features.html "99.9% uptime SLA" which means that if they add a service with less than 99.9% uptime, they're going to lose money. They haven't even finished writing Google+ for normal users, there's no way they can make promises about support yet.

Edit: according to this, you're not even logging in to the same service. http://www.google.com/support/accounts/bin/static.py?page=gu... That's... not optimal.

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calloc 2 days ago 1 reply      
I've been using Google+ since it was first made available, I've got may main personal account on there, and several accounts for fake persona's and a business account for my business (still hasn't been tagged or removed by Google for not being a real name).

The only people who I've seen are affected by the "nymwars" seem to be celebrity accounts or people that like to go by pen names on social networks. With my various fake accounts I have had no issues yet, most likely because they don't get a ton of traffic and fly under the radar. It is not like Facebook hasn't had these issues either, whereby they will lock people out of their account until they send in a photo ID (locking out out of your Facebook mail/text messaging stuff as well).

I keep hearing stories about how people consider it a desert or that certain articles and stories are claiming that there is 40% less activity. I've noticed that I have started to become more careful as to who gets to see my posts and if they are allowed to share them. More information is shared in specific circles rather than publicly. I've also found that there is much more engagement on Google+ than any other social service.

When I post something on Google+ I get more feedback, more people commenting on my posts and more people having intelligent discourse than on Facebook or Twitter, or even my blog. Since I can target specific circles I am able to categorise my friends based on what I think they would be interested in, so instead of having non-tech friends get techy stuff from me and thus becoming disinterested they only get my personal stuff that they might find interesting, like how it is going in my life.

Yes, Facebook has had that for a while as well, however it was always more tedious to set it up, get people into the various circles, and now that it has been made easier they have cocked it up royally:

http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=3018403

For me so far Google+ has become more interesting, more targeted and has much less noise compared to the signal. Will that change as more people join? Maybe, I'm not so sure, as I think people will realise that with circles they don't have to include me in a conversation (nor will it show up in my stream) with a mutual friend... (public walls ...)

7
kadabra9 2 days ago 6 replies      
Too late, guys.

Facebook is already copying the features that make G+ cool/useful (circles, etc), and the one big, inherent advantage you had in your favor (Your user base, e.g every Google account) you alienated by keeping it "invite only" for too long.

Either open it to everyone sooner, or hold off on this prolonged "invite period" so you don't risk confusing / alienating people that want to try G+ but can't.

G+ feels like its the same 10 guys posting the same thing over and over, while Facebook feels like, well.. Facebook.

8
hasanove 2 days ago 1 reply      
I find it interesting that out of ~50 comments in supposedly early adopter crowd, there is not a single positive comment about Google+. As much as I want them to succeed, this looks like a pretty bad sign.

And yes, I am one of those who cannot participate with my Google Apps account.

9
0x12 2 days ago 0 replies      
This is like the person that plays 'hard to get' for 15 years, then finds out everybody's taken.

Windows of opportunity come and they go just as fast. Google+ had a chance, I think they've missed their connection.

10
jsz0 2 days ago 2 replies      
Is anyone actually using Plus? My stream is so dead I don't even bother checking it anymore. It's a ghost town over there.
11
BvS 2 days ago 0 replies      
For me the public Hangouts (Hangouts On Air) seem even more interesting.
12
muyuu 2 days ago 1 reply      
Google+ first didn't let me to use a different name for my account, and then showed me a nice dialog, in words to this effect: "do you want to link Picasa to your account? (yes) (cancel Google+ account creation)"

So long, Google+

13
w1ntermute 2 days ago 2 replies      
Too little, too late. Facebook already aped all of their innovations.
14
twidlit 2 days ago 0 replies      
Here is why Facebook will not lose any momentum over Google+. They are too agile, well-run and nimble at the moment. That and google+ architecture is too similar to Facebook.

Facebook is doing a good job matching Circles, improving photos on the feed, improving chat, etc. Almost every unique features of G+ are now competing with a 'good enough' counterpart on Facebook. Expect Facebook to match any new ones popping up from Google's camp all the while rolling out more new stuff around music, videos and photos.

15
sssparkkk 2 days ago 1 reply      
I got all excited when I saw 'Huddle' had been replaced by 'messenger'; thinking this would mean google talk and huddles had been integrated. I mean, wouldn't it be great to have an alternative to the closed stuff like whatsapp/kik/etc? Google would have to start by releasing a native google talk client for the iphone (why isn't there one yet?!).

I'm amazed that after all these years there's still no real open standard for instant messaging that is also actually the defacto standard.

16
joelhaus 2 days ago 0 replies      
If Google+ doesn't become a much more integral part of future Android releases, it will be a huge surprise. For me, the Google+ Android app has a killer feature: instant upload of pics/video taken with your phone to a Google+/Picasa folder that you can set to private or share with select circles.

To the extent that Google does integrate these two products, G+ will greatly benefit from having the huge Android user base as a source of growth and content, attracting many more engaged users to the platform.

17
thunga 2 days ago 0 replies      
Google+ Opens to All other than for people with google app accounts...
18
carterparks 2 days ago 2 replies      
Except for Google Apps users
19
glhaynes 2 days ago 1 reply      
Not at all sure if it was stupid of them to wait this long to let everybody in (you want socializing on your social network!) or brilliant because now they'll get a lot more press right when the buzz seemed to be dying down.

One also wonders how this route will affect their demographics long-term... it's got a bit of a "geeky" slant so far, which seems to be working for them, but might not be in their best interests against Facebook.

Edit: kadabra9 makes a good point in saying that Facebook can (and rapidly seems to be!) copying/nullifying any advantage that Google+ provided so perhaps they shot themselves in the foot by not growing as big and as fast as they could. Time will tell.

20
Jun8 2 days ago 0 replies      
I didn't have a bad experience with G+. I didn't have a uniquely good experience either, though. My only friends over there are techie types. For my circles, after the initial chatter, the postings have decreased significantly, and coming to HN is better than the technology news posted there.

Many people talk about how quickly G+ achieved N million users, but the import part is the engagement from users. I don't think G+ has achieved anything like that yet. Many people start using it due to the integration with Gmail but then just stop and go back to FB and Twitter.

21
infinite_snoop 2 days ago 0 replies      
Great! It's just a shame that all of my friends have died of old age waiting for the invite period to finish.

Seriously, what was the reasoning for this? It's not like Google don't have the infrastructure/capability to scale quickly.

22
pycassa 2 days ago 1 reply      
google plus is like the bing of social networks
23
diamondhead 1 day ago 0 replies      
Everyone except the users of Google Apps. Nobody talks about this bullshit.

http://www.google.com/support/+/bin/answer.py?answer=1407609...
http://www.google.com/support/forum/p/Google%20Apps/thread?t...

They blocked lots of active users of many Google services, this way.

24
eps 2 days ago 0 replies      
The line-up at the door must've been starting to thin out :
25
yason 1 day ago 0 replies      
Is there a Facebook application already that posts from Google+ to Facebook and imports replies and likes back to Google+? The mass of people on Facebook is a barrier to entry and they have to consider it somehow.
26
tnorthcutt 2 days ago 1 reply      
Could a mod edit the title? As it is right now, it's rather misleading to those of us hoping that they've finally made + open to apps accounts.
27
bad_user 1 day ago 0 replies      
It isn't open to Google Apps users.
28
goldensaucer 2 days ago 1 reply      
Why is there even a set number of invites left for each G+ user? I see that I still have 94 Gmail invites even, and in both cases, I'm not seeing the point.
29
zeratul 2 days ago 0 replies      
I wish there was a way to merge this post with a related one:

http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=3018236

Google+ offers quick and continuous iteration of new features.

30
radq 2 days ago 1 reply      
Looks like you still need to be "over a certain age"... :(
31
gurkendoktor 2 days ago 0 replies      
One thing that could maybe have won me over to G+ is a great iPad client. Tablets are almost made to relax and scroll over your friends' updates. The nymwars ruined it too, though.
32
zerostar07 2 days ago 0 replies      
They 've released a hangouts api, yet there's still no way to retrieve someone's friends? (or is there such an API? couldn't find it). Come on google, we haven't got all day!
33
samrat 1 day ago 0 replies      
And when will it be open for those under eighteen years of age?
34
sorennielsen 2 days ago 0 replies      
Open to all... Unless you're using Google Apps like I do ಠ_ಠ
35
badclient 2 days ago 1 reply      
Google+ is dead.
36
gamma_raj 2 days ago 0 replies      
Its high time they opened it. Google+ seemed like desert.
37
Hyena 2 days ago 2 replies      
Time to see whether it will fly or the slowdown was a sign of trouble.
38
sheabarton 2 days ago 0 replies      
Except google apps users..
39
jigs_up 2 days ago 0 replies      
+1 for pissed off Google Apps users.
40
cwp 2 days ago 0 replies      
Well, everyone except Google Apps users.
41
willy1234x1 2 days ago 1 reply      
Maybe I'm just missing something but does anyone else here not give a flying fuck about the "real name fiasco"? What's so damn bad about using your real name? Can't be an internet tough guy when you have to use your real name? The most I think all Google should do is allow you to use a screen name for following purposes but still show your real name as well (kind of how Twitter has the screen name and name fields.)
15
PG's Rarely Asked Questions paulgraham.com
290 points by wallawe  4 days ago   212 comments top 26
1
jackfoxy 4 days ago  replies      
What should I read to learn more about history?

I used to consider my knowledge of history better than at least 95% of the population, but while reading The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire I realized how sketchy my view of history really was. So at the ripe old age of 35 I set off on a course of study centered on two series of books, The Story of Civilization, by Will and Ariel Durant, and Timeframe, a Time-Life series focusing on a timeframe in human history and what was going on in all parts of the world inhabited by man: lots of pictures and of course superficial, but it painted in a lot of gaps I othewise would have never covered. The Timeframe series starts much earlier than the Durant's, but once both series were in sync I would read the books in both series for an epoch, as well as at least two other books, either written in the era or about the era, drawing mostly from science, culture, and biography. For instance I read all the books of Euclid, Newton's Optiks and Principia (I slogged through the Motte transaltion before the first modern English translation became available), The Wealth of Nations, Shelby Foote's 3-volume history of the Civil War, and The Origen of Species. (It's real easy for me to spot folks who spoot-off about Wealth or Origen who have not actually read the books.) My program culminated with Tragedy and Hope, which being such an inflammatory work, I did not trust to read without the full background of history. The process was like watching Western Civilization unfolding.

Now for the unintended consequences: I became a bore at cocktail parties. I wanted to talk about the ideas in the fascinating book I was reading. I used to love arguing politics. Even with my prior knowledge it was hard enough finding opponents who would engage in rational discourse, now it is impossible. It's been so long my debating skills have totally gone down the tubes. The sad thing is I believe my problem is really society's. Political correctness (among other problems) in academia, has produced a generation of intellectually crippled intellectuals; and the entertainment industry, including the 24-hour news cycle as entertainment, has just stupefied people. I fear for democracy and republican government.

2
onan_barbarian 4 days ago  replies      
The tendentious answer on philosophy is an invitation for what would be another "Dabblers and Blowhards" drive-by shooting.

It's not enormously surprising that this question is 'rarely asked'. One would learn a lot more about philosophy ("what questions are these guys asking?" "what are some of the answers they've come to?") from even a mediocre introductory text or a chat with a TA/tutor, than by assuming that this rather sophomoric answer represents a reasonable response to the entire field. Calling it 'sophomoric' doesn't properly engage with the claims, but the claims are so smug, random and content-free:

"Books on philosophy per se are either highly technical stuff that doesn't matter much, or vague concatenations of abstractions their own authors didn't fully understand (e.g. Hegel)... It can be interesting to study ancient philosophy, but more as a kind of accident report than to teach you anything useful."

... that I can't find anything remotely meaningful to engage with.

Someone recommended Russell's History of Western Philosophy as an option; this isn't bad (although its treatment of Continental philosophy is hopelessly biased, it would still be enough to get you oriented).

The fact that whenever PG makes statements on some area I understand more about (philosophy, politics, economics) seem to be incredibly shallow, juvenile crowd-pleasers, makes me wonder at his expertise in areas that I don't know much about (history, painting).

3
dgreensp 4 days ago 6 replies      
>I never had to manage anyone in our startup, even though I was the president. The other hackers were my peers, and would have given me the raspberry if I'd tried to "manage" them. We operated by consensus. And the rest of the company reported to our experienced COO, who was also more of a peer.

Operating by consensus and not valuing the role of "manager" only goes so far. It may work when you're a few people living together, but I think it ultimately leads to cultures like Google's, where every decision requires a room full of engineers to agree.

4
sthlm 4 days ago 4 replies      
The pointy-haired boss is a manager who doesn't program. So the surest way to avoid becoming him is to stay a programmer. What tempts programmers to become managers are companies with old-fashioned corporate structure, where the only way to advance in salary and prestige is to go into management.

I have to disagree with that. I've met many people, especially in larger enterprises, who started in development but then became more abstract over time. They weren't bad people, in fact, they were excellent at their job.

Programming to me has never been something that has to be continually pursued in order to stay fluent or able, but merely something that reflects your more basic skills and talents.

It's like playing a musical instrument. Almost anyone can learn playing the guitar, but it takes a special talent to excel at it. For the guitar this requires hearing, sense of rhythm, and others; for programming, this is analytical thinking, systematic thinking, and more. Some people will try to program but never be really good at it. I studied with people like that. It's not their fault, their skills are just in another area. Some others are great at it. Once they learned, it doesn't matter if they don't develop anything for 3 years; after their break, they look at a piece of code / framework / technology, understand what it does, and continue programming.

And the traits that make you a good programmer help you in other fields, even management. Yes, large corporations have structures, but we need structure to manage them. And we need managers. And a manager who was a distinguished developer will be much better suited for leading a team of developers -- even if he doesn't program any longer. This is a valid career path, and an interesting one at that.

My general opinion is that if you want to stay a programmer, find yourself a role where you can do that. If not, don't bother pursuing programming at all costs. It won't lead you in the right direction.

5
richcollins 4 days ago 4 replies      
6
rwmj 4 days ago 3 replies      
He's really wrong about LISP macros. Would suggest pg takes a look at camlp4.

Edit: maybe instead of downvotes, you could reply explaining what's wrong with this position. Or just look at camlp4 and see how it provides macros that are better (with a better underlying language) than LISP. And yes, I've written a LISP compiler.

7
siglesias 4 days ago 4 replies      
Re: philosophy, I think understanding the difference between representing the world in language and representing it in logic is critically important to programmers. It has implications for natural language processing as well as artificial intelligence. I personally recommend to anyone endeavoring to understand Wittgenstein's transition from Tractatus Logico Philosophicus to Philosophical Investigations. In fact, Google used the family resemblance concept from PI to inform its search algorithm early on to attribute diffent meanings to the same search term.

What you take away is a very precise way to pose questions that make sense and to avoid questions that don't make sense.

8
muhfuhkuh 4 days ago  replies      
"I want to start a startup, but I don't know how to program. How long will it take to learn?

I would guess a smart person can learn to hack sufficiently well in 6 months to a year."

Hmm... interesting take considering the source, especially when contrasted with the general mentality that programming and software development is the finest of all trades and takes a near preternatural mastery only found elsewhere in classical musicianship 300 years ago. I quite enjoy the feeling that I could be good in a year.

9
urza 4 days ago 0 replies      
I clicked through to the Return of the Mac [1] article and it would be of interest to me to know how this community and PG sees the Macs today? Recently some people on HN said that they dont like where the Lion is heading [2] or that OS X is goining to be more closed than open [3]. So.. what are you hacking on today?

[1] http://www.paulgraham.com/mac.html

[2] http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=2933895

[3] http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=2368932

10
breck 4 days ago 1 reply      
> The pointy-haired boss is a manager who doesn't program. So > the surest way to avoid becoming him is to stay a programmer.

I agree. One of the absolute worst pieces of advice I got over and over again was "don't go into programming. It's all being outsourced overseas anyway. Just learn how to manage programmers." Luckily for some reason I finally decided to ignore that advice and strive to become a great programmer myself. One of the, if not the, best decisions in my entire life.

Even now, although I certainly could become more of a "manager", I choose to stay in the pit coding. Although I now do tasks that can be called "managing" such as helping out other coders with their bugs and problems, mentoring, communicating with people outside of engineering, recruiting and interviewing, the biggest chunk of my time is spent programming and working on my skills.

It's worked for PG. It's worked for Paul Farmer(replace "programming" with "doctoring"). I'd bet it's worked for nearly every master of their field. I think it's an essential rule to follow.

11
denisonwright 4 days ago 4 replies      
Interesting, now that I think of it, I have never met someone (except pg) who is a painter and programmer. I've met several programmers who are writers, musicians, carpenters, etc, but never painters.

I draw cartoons/caricatures (examples here: http://www.smileecards.com) and have painted a few times, but I don't quite call myself a painter.

About teachers, I totally agree that good teachers earn the respect of the students by having high standard, calling students out on bad quality work. I once suspected a teacher only read the beginning and the end of essays, so I submitted a 4 page essay that contained a recipe for banana cake in the second and third pages; I received a B+!

12
shin_lao 3 days ago 0 replies      
I'm not sure the advice about "not becoming a pointy haired boss" is any good.

Not all structures can stay small enough to avoid management. The startup phase is just an initial phase that will dysfunction as the number of employees grow.

Additionally, I don't think that having a manager who programs is a way to increase management quality.

So how do you get good management? There's no simple answer to that, it's a central problem to all companies as they grow.

13
Estragon 4 days ago 2 replies      

  > Couldn't you add something equivalent to Lisp macros to languages like
> Perl or Python?
>
> Not without turning them into dialects of Lisp. Real macros need to
> operate on the parse tree of the program.

Actually, I've thought about porting some of On Lisp to python using
lib2to3 (http://docs.python.org/library/2to3.html) It's probably an obscenely bad idea, but I keep getting drawn back to it...

14
moomin 4 days ago 0 replies      
Bertrand Russell's History of Western Philosophy is a great place to start. Of course, it's as much an introduction to his thinking as anyone else's, but it's accessible and thoughtful. Memorable for the phrase "existence is not a predicate".
15
draegtun 2 days ago 0 replies      
Couldn't you add something equivalent to Lisp macros to languages like Perl or Python?

Perl6 comes with full Lisp-like macros: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Perl_6#Macros

See previous HN discussion on this: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=1279238

16
corin_ 4 days ago 3 replies      
Does anyone have any insight into why painters are less common among hackers than other artistic persuits, such as music?

I've never met anyone who bridged visual art with anything tech-related, but composers, singers, pianists, orchestra members... hell yes.

Is it just that painters are less common that musicians and that ratio stays true in the tech world?

17
ecocentrik 4 days ago 1 reply      
PG lost me at the first question. A better answer would be; they are both highly technical skills with almost no overlap that take boatloads of time to master. We all know the bene gesserit mantra...
18
shithead 4 days ago 1 reply      
I wish some people would bless us with dates on their timeless essays.

(You too, Peter Norvig.)

19
extramoose 4 days ago 0 replies      
I must say that one of the things I value most is the fact that as a Hacker, I have also worked extensively in Landscaping, Kitchens, Coffe houses & Hotels. A wide range of interactions & processes in one's past can always be used as perspective when approaching the next fork in the road.
20
larrys 4 days ago 0 replies      
"Two startups want to hire me. Which should I choose?

The one with the most determined and smartest founders (in that order) is the more likely to succeed. "

All else being equal this is true and it's good advice.

But unfortunately when you are choosing from two startups to work for all else is not equal.

21
seanmccann 4 days ago 1 reply      
How important is knowledge of history when it comes to building a startup? What are the most important periods of time to learn about?
22
ekm2 3 days ago 0 replies      
All of you have covered Western History extremely well.Which are the best books to study Asian and African History?
23
shoham 3 days ago 0 replies      
"I'm about to become a teacher. How can I be a good one?"

Also, be ready to put up with bullshit from parents, admins and other teachers who insist on the path of least resistance.

24
zackattack 4 days ago 3 replies      
If somebody compiles the history books into an Amazon shopping list, I would gladly use your affiliate link. I haven't read any of them, which is shameful.
25
NY_Entrepreneur 4 days ago 2 replies      
Nice. He covers several topics that would be good to have covered on some "What I wish my father had explained to me when I was 12, however, I've come to expect that mostly he didn't understand very well.". But among topics it would have been good to have had Dad cover, PG omits the biggie, especially for hackers, maybe for painters -- how to make an A in Women 101-102!
26
NY_Entrepreneur 4 days ago  replies      
"I want to start a startup, but I don't know how to program. How long will it take to learn?"

A year? Depends! To be very useful on Windows, really need to be okay on the content of several books, each about 1000 pages long, have worked through about 2500 Web pages of documentation at Microsoft's MSDN, along with more pages from other sources. Then need to write some code, at least as exercises, using what learned. For writing code, need to learn either an integrated development environment (IDE), e.g., Visual Studio, or get good with a powerful text editor (I use KEdit) and its macro language (I have about 150 such macros) and a scripting language. And need to get good with Windows, e.g., have traversed much of the obscure tree of things to click on. And need to be good at software installation, e.g., .NET Framework, service packs, IIS (for a Web server), Internet Explorer and some other Web browsers, likely some version of Office, maybe Knuth's TeX, SQL Server or some alternative, etc. Should learn some Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. Should learn some T-SQL, HTML, CSS, ASP.NET, and ADO.NET. Also need to be good at backup and recovery, ESPECIALLY of the operating system and boot drive. A year? Want to give up sleep for a year?

16
Help, I'm on the IRS hit list theglobeandmail.com
276 points by DanielBMarkham  2 days ago   217 comments top 18
1
patio11 2 days ago  replies      
This issue periodically makes the rounds in expatriate communities, and I think panicked blog posts outnumber actual enforcement actions by about 10,000 to 1. Anecdotally, most Americans living abroad are probably non-compliant on this one. They're not going to suddenly decide to break the kneecaps of a couple million people, for the same reason that they don't audit every $50k per year small business' office expenses every single year. They'd end up hated and not meaningfully boost revenue.

All bets are off if you have signatory authority on a $30 million dollar account in the Caymans and have forgotten to report interest for the last 10 years running.

P.S. Orthogonal to the disclosure of accounts issue but worth mentioning since folks often commingle them: If you're an American living abroad, you should file your taxes every year whether you think you need to or not. Same for Americans in the US, by the way. The statute of limitations on unfiled taxes is essentially infinite, but the window to audit a return is only six years, so if you just file a 1040 with a zero on it every year and 20 years from now the IRS decides to get frisky, you're covered for all but the last 6 years automatically.

2
DanielBMarkham 2 days ago 2 replies      
I've been watching this story develop over the last few years, and while I think that the current impact is overblown, I don't think that reduces the importance or the future impact of the story at all.

The way this story gets spun is that the law is for big tax dodgers and the IRS has better things to do than pursue the little guys. I think that's a bit of misdirection. The problem is that, as far as I can tell, every ex-pat is guilty of something and that the U.S can come take large amounts of money from them. It's just a matter of whether they want to or not. It's usually said that the amount of money is just too low and the politics of abusing so many people abroad are idiotic.

After 9-11, that doesn't wash with me any more. If citizens living in the states are subject to draconian security measures and it doesn't much seem to matter what sorts of protests there are then it's only going to be worse for people who are more out-of-sight. People in the states can easily be made to feel like every ex-pat with a dual citizenship has something to hide. If you can treat folks who live here like they do, folks living overseas are nothing but a bunch of numbers. Worse yet, we'll see monetary laws made for terrorism being brought to bear in the process.

Which leads me to my conclusion that the only thing slowing down the IRS is data processing. They're plugging more and more into the international banking community and will begin automating collection and processing on all of these opportunities. I understand my opinion is just guesswork, but there it is.

I think you have two choices. Either collection is a political activity, in which case you're saying that your wealth and freedom is basically dependent on political connections, the optics of the processing, and the mood of the IRS -- a terrible situation to be in. Or you're saying that collection is owed and it simply costs too much to pursue, which I believe to be the case. If this is true, collection is only a matter of time.

I'd love to see a U.S. politician stand up for ex-pats, but I don't think it's going to happen anytime soon.

P.S. And don't even get me started on the fact that if you're a corporation you are allowed to make money overseas and keep it overseas without paying US taxes, but if you are a regular citizen any money you make could be subject to US taxation on top of local taxation.

3
jellicle 2 days ago 2 replies      
Let's be clear about this.

The U.S., alone among the multitudinous nations of the world, asserts that people who live and work outside of the U.S. and have no financial connection to it should pay taxes to it.

These include people who have never set foot in the United States in their entire lives and have never done anything to interact with the United States in any way whatsoever.

These include people who are not allowed to vote for any U.S. office (don't correct me; you're wrong. Some of the people affected by this are allowed to vote, but not all).

It is the very definition of taxation without representation, which one might have thought would be a foundational principle of the U.S.A.

Every single other nation in the world taxes people on their income earned in that country. The U.S.'s policy is an embarrassment; a clearly unjust, illegitimate law.

There is a bright side. The happy truth is that the U.S. has zero enforcement power outside the country and that this edict can be ignored by anyone who truly does not live or work in the U.S.

4
noonespecial 2 days ago 4 replies      
I've filed my FBAR's (my wife calls them f(u)bars, I can't argue). Unfortunately, the rules for money abroad fill books. If you're an American with money abroad, you're probably unknowingly violating a list of federal laws as long as your arm.

Many contires have reciprocal tax agreements with the US so that income taxed by your host nation isn't taxed again by the IRS. It may just be a matter of paperwork for the authors of this blog to demonstrate that they've been paying Canadian taxes.

It is very difficult to stop being an American and getting harder all the time. Its like a giant invisible curtain... (like its made of iron or something, heh) Not to keep you from leaving, but to make sure your money can't.

5
matrix 2 days ago 0 replies      
If you have worked overseas or are an immigrant or otherwise a reside of the US, you may be unwittingly in violation of this law, and at risk of penalties so extreme that it defies belief.

In some countries your employer is required to open and contribute to a retirement fund similar to a 401(k). In Canada, it's called an RRSP, in Australia, Superannuation. If you have such an account, it's considered a foreign account and subject to FBAR - nevermind that you can no longer contribute to it, or benefit from it until you are at retirement age. In some cases, the law in the foreign country prevents you from closing or withdrawing from this type of account until you are at retirement age.

If you forget to report one of these accounts, or had no idea that you were supposed to report it, you face a $100,000 fine, seizure of the account, and jail time. If you cooperate with the IRS you might "only" lose the account.

This law was designed to target off-shore tax shelters, but the way it was written, the definition of "account" is vague, and the threshold levels so low that it affects millions of people. There is simply no justification for a law this broad and sweeping which such harsh penalties - it's an example of legislative overreach if I ever saw one.

6
rickdangerous1 2 days ago  replies      
It used to be that there were two countries which taxed citizens regardless of residency, USA and Libya. Now I guess there's just one.
7
daniel_solano 2 days ago 0 replies      
> Nobody can explain why the IRS has suddenly decided to enforce this law, which is aimed at money-launderers with offshore bank accounts. I guess the Americans need the money.

I don't think the law is necessarily aimed at criminals. The law is primarily sold as targeting people who try to avoid or evade taxation by keeping significant wealth and income overseas.

In any case, the reason for renewed vigour in enforcing the law is clear: the federal government is spending record amounts of money and needs to milk every source of income it can.

edit: fix typos

8
mark_l_watson 2 days ago 1 reply      
I have heard that during the fall of the Roman Empire, the tax collectors were so brutal that Romans living on the outskirts of the empire sometimes welcomed invaders because they were thought to be better than dealing with the Roman Roman tax collectors.

Similar situation now?

9
jedberg 2 days ago 2 replies      
> It's taxation without representation.

No it isn't. She still gets to vote in US elections if she wants to. That's WHY they still collect taxes.

I'm not saying it is right, but that is the explanation usually given. Because even though you don't live in the US, you still receive benefits, like protection from the military and other benefits that all US citizens get.

I actually don't think it is entirely unreasonable to tax ex-pats, especially since the first $80K is exempt.

10
Vivtek 2 days ago 2 replies      
It's easier to shake down non-voting overseas residents for money than it is to require GE to pay fair taxes, so ... there you go. Gotta pay for those missiles somehow, after all.

We're #1!

11
azulum 2 days ago 3 replies      
i for one am in favor of abolishing the IRS completely. i'm convinced a more inefficient and backwards institution does not exist in the US. sadly, though, the best solution i have seen proffered is the fairtax http://www.fairtax.org/ which has, sadly, been hitched to the tea-party horse). the fairtax is a consumption tax (basically a sales tax, but stated as inclusive like the current income tax not exclusive like state sales taxes) on any new final goods or services within the US.

a consumption tax, however, is the most regressive form of tax in existence. so to combat that, you do simple math. every citizen receives a something they call a prebate, a check in the mail or direct deposited for the amount in taxes up to the poverty level at the beginning of each month (about $200/month). no individual pays taxes by filling out a form, they only have a yearly form to fill out to receive the prebate. all taxes are collected at the point of sale (used goods are exempt) reducing compliance costs and the incentive to tax dodge. so illegal immigrants pay taxes without getting a prebate. corporations that manufacture within the US but export their goods do not. corporations that import goods do. tourists pay taxes. people who are crazy and live off the grid do not. SS and medicare are not collected separately. investment is not taxed. and it's price and cost neutral (that is, the myriad taxes we pay but don't realize: SS, medicare, income, payroll are already hidden in the price of everything we buy and this just makes it transparent).

as a libertarian that knows markets fail all the time, i believe the policies should be dynamic and robust. that is, use the reduction of the market to make quick and dirty decisions and heavily regulate those areas that are prone to failure (or just prone to negative externalities while promoting the positive externalities). enough with the waffling centrism"certain things need to be as libertarian as possible while others, particularly dealing with OPM (other people's money) and general welfare of individuals need to be as socialist as possible. and i am fairly confident that that will never happen. alas

12
viraptor 2 days ago 4 replies      
Does anyone know if there's any universally recognised way to cut off all connection to some country? It might be of course impossible if you have citizenship of only that country - but for people with dual citizenships it seems like there should be some way...

IANAL of course, but how is USA saying "you cannot renounce your citizenship" different from another completely unrelated country saying "according to our laws you are our citizen now"? Why is it binding if you do not have and do not want any relation to that place?

13
gopi 2 days ago 2 replies      
This is not only affecting the expatriates but also foreign people who work in US temporarily (like in a h1b visa). Most of them were not aware of this rule and now they have to pay 25% of the money they have in bank accounts in their native country.
14
DirtyCalvinist 2 days ago 1 reply      
The fact that a person who has not lived in the US for 30 years, has been a citizen of a foreign power for 30 years and has never earned a penny in the US nor held directly any US assets must now worry about the long arm of the IRS is ridiculous and unjust. Regardless of whether the law's aims are necessary and just or not.
15
cheez 2 days ago 2 replies      
So the solution is don't be a US citizen. Jesus Christ, what insanity.
16
stevep98 2 days ago 1 reply      
Just want to point out that you could have reported missing reports of foreign bank accounts under the IRS amnesty disclosure initiative which just ended on august 9, 2011.

This program also covers 5471's, which hit me pretty hard. If you own even a single share in a foreign business AND your parents own shares, those shares are attributable to you in terms of determining if you have a controlling interest in that company. If you have over a certain percentage, you are required to file 5471's.

I just filed over 80 5471s for various companies for tax years since 2003. My tax accountant said that the IRS has been nothing other than 'foaming at the mouth insane' about collecting penalties, and that it is their attitude that any failure to disclose is treated as an attempt to defraud or conceal information from IRS, and that without exception, IRS always levies the maximum penalty possible. So, that would have been 800,000$ penalties for me.

Bear in mind that I already declared to IRS and paid taxed on any and all income earned from these foreign companies.

I can only hope they enjoy perusing my 400+ page filing. Apparently someone has to type it all in. Love to do my part to keep federal employees employed.

http://www.irs.gov/newsroom/article/0,,id=210027,00.html

17
mbeattie 2 days ago 1 reply      
Here's some advice:

If you are an American citizen, file your tax return.

Easy as that.

18
parfe 2 days ago  replies      
If you want the protection and support of US embassies and military while abroad then pay your American taxes.

If you don't want to participate in American society renounce your American citizenship to the IRS.

Took about 30 seconds to find the form. http://www.irs.gov/instructions/i8854/ch01.html (expatriation 1994 or later)

EDIT:

First, you renounced your citizenship THEN stop paying taxes, obviously. You don't get to stop paying taxes and then renounce your citizenship back in time.

Second,
http://www.businessinsider.com/senior-us-marine-says-multipl...

http://www.marinecorpstimes.com/news/2011/03/ap-us-to-evacua...

The US Marines will come get you if you're stranded in a foreign country when shit goes wrong.

17
Cracking OSX Lion passwords defenceindepth.net
276 points by eis  4 days ago   79 comments top 7
1
jballanc 3 days ago 1 reply      
Two points:

1. When it comes to security, from the point of view of an OS vendor, if you have gained unauthorized access to an interactive shell on a target machine it's already "game over, man". You cannot protect against physical access, and you can pretty much assume that there are a plethora of unknown privilege escalation bugs so that any account is effectively a root account. Every company has limited security resources, and at some point there are trade-offs between usability and security. This is why efforts are typically focused on keeping the baddies out.

Once the bad guy gets in, you can only mitigate potential harm. This is the goal of things like File Vault (which will still protect your stollen laptop, assuming you put on a screensaver password). This is also why merely being able to change a password is not nearly as bad as...

2. Being able to recover the plain text of a user's password. I'm not going to discuss how or why, but this was possible on earlier versions of OS X and fixed only in Lion. In this regard, "cracking" passwords is much harder on Lion than it was on Snow Leopard and earlier.

Of course, that sort of level-headed approach to this kind of topic seems to be rarer and rarer on HN these days...unfortunately...

2
kulpreet 4 days ago 3 replies      
You can also just boot your Mac in single-user mode (Command-S), then mount the main filesystem and type "passwd bob". Much easier and produces the same effect.
3
maximilian 4 days ago 5 replies      
In the article, it mentions that the password are hashed using SHA-512. As has been mentioned before, using such a fast hashing scheme for passwords is a terrible idea. Any idea as to why they do it this way? (instead of using bcrypt
4
KonradKlause 4 days ago 2 replies      
TL;DR:

There is no need to crack the password.
You (as non-root user) can just reset the currently logged in user's password by calling:

dscl localhost -passwd /Search/Users/bob

5
dotBen 4 days ago 3 replies      
This feels a little bit like a naughtily published zero-day exploit.

I'm disappointed the post doesn't mention any appropriate disclosure to Apple prior to publication. Sure, it's not an out-right crack of the shaddow password algo but this vector could still be used in damaging ways.

6
drivebyacct2 4 days ago 1 reply      
I suppose it's different if an unauthenticated user can perform a password change with the system powered on, but similar things can be done with Windows and a Linux live cd with some tools, and Linux passwords can be changed in "single user" mode.
7
emehrkay 4 days ago 0 replies      
I know this isn't the same, but I feel like mission control set to a hot corner bypasses the password screen from time to time. I never really notice it though
18
SSL broken. (TLS 1.0 cryptographic attack that works. Not just fake certs.) theregister.co.uk
273 points by willvarfar  3 days ago   83 comments top 21
1
agl 3 days ago 4 replies      
I happen to know the details of this attack since I work on Chrome's SSL/TLS stack.

The linked article is sensationalist nonsense, but one should give the authors the benefit of the doubt because the press can be like that.

Fundamentally there's nothing that people should worry about here. Certainly it's not the case that anything is 'broken'.

2
caf 3 days ago 2 replies      
The underlying vulnerability in TLS1.0 is described here: http://www.mail-archive.com/openssl-dev@openssl.org/msg10664...

Surmising from this and the scant details released: It is a chosen-plaintext attack. Requests to the logged-in SSL site are made by injected Javascript in a separate non-SSL page. By changing the length of the requested URL (easily done by appending GET variables), the authentication cookie header is pushed out so that the first unknown character is right at the end of a cipher block. This allows us to make guesses at that character, testing each guess using the method described by Wei Dai in the linked email (using another crafted request to the server). Once we've found the first character, we push the cookie one byte further back and work on the second character, repeating until we have the entire unknown portion of the cookie.

If this turns out to be somewhat accurate, a workaround could be to have the browser force the HTTP headers to be block-aligned, by inserting a dummy first header if necessary.

3
mkup 2 days ago 3 replies      
The attack works in such way:

1. A user opens any HTTP website like http://google.com/ in Iran (for example)

2. Government-controlled Iranian ISP intercepts HTTP traffic and injects some rogue JS code.

3. Rogue JS code opens https-AJAX-connection to https://gmail.com/ and transmits some constant nonsense there (chosen plaintext attack).

4. The key point of TLS 0.x-1.0 vulnerability is deterministic calculation of IV in all sessions except first one. Initialization vector (IV) is computed using (pseudo)random numbers for the first session, and subsequent connections to the same website use new IVs computed with deterministic algorithm from previous IVs, without using random numbers.

http://eprint.iacr.org/2006/136

It's a specific form of key integrity probably intended to counteract partial MitM. Or at least that way it was thought in 1994 by Netscape.

5. Rogue Iranian ISP intercepts resulting https traffic for https://gmail.com/ and by comparing known (chosen) plaintext versus ciphertext, computes initial IV. Here is where the novelty of the research is: popular belief in 2006 was this computation requires 2^1000 operations, in 2011 it turns out that could be handled in 10 minutes [see my remark below].

6. User navigates to https://gmail.com/ to read email. Browser chooses new IV different from old one, but Iranian ISP can compute it independently because algorithm is deterministic and previous IV is known to them.

7. By knowing second IV, Iranian ISP is able to decrypt all https traffic of the second session and extract user cookies from it. (Not necessarily in real time.)

8. Now Iranian government is able to read user's email by substituting his cookies on any computer and navigating to https://gmail.com/.

You may replace Iranian govt in this story with your neighbour in public WiFi, equipped with enhanced version of FireSheep.

---

My remark: I think this is fixable on the client side and somehow related to low-entropy PRNG used to generate IV for the first TLS session.

4
onedognight 3 days ago 0 replies      
It looks like it uses a chosen plain text attack that exploits the multiplexing of multiple requests over the same SSL socket level connection that by design share the same key.

More information at http://permalink.gmane.org/gmane.ietf.tls/8822

5
moxie 3 days ago 3 replies      
No details about this attack have been made available to anyone who can publicly corroborate them, and yet the researchers are doing press interviews and speaking publicly about how they've broken SSL. I have no idea what the details of this attack are, but in my experience, when people hype an exploit for weeks before making details available, it's because the exploit isn't really very good.

I realize that the security industry is built on hype, but this is fucking dumb.

6
kijin 3 days ago 4 replies      
If I'm reading this correctly, the attack requires specially crafted JS to be slipped into the target browser. But aren't you already screwed if third parties can slip arbitrary JS into your pages? It would be great if somebody could explain this in more realistic terms.
7
aclimatt 3 days ago 0 replies      
Here's a little more explanation on how it works: http://threatpost.com/en_us/blogs/new-attack-breaks-confiden...

They still require access to your browser to, I'm assuming, modify certain data in some way such that they can actually perform the chosen plaintext attack on the encrypted cookies.

9
donpark 3 days ago 0 replies      
We won't know for certain until details are released but their claim that "exploit works even against sites that use HSTS, or HTTP Strict Transport Security" is disturbing.
10
dekz 3 days ago 2 replies      
TLS(SSL) broken != Browser Exploit Against SSL/TLS (BEAST). Please change the headline.
11
itsnotvalid 2 days ago 0 replies      
As mentioned in the article, the attack only works on TLS 1.0 (and below). Now the question would be, why are we still stuck with TLS 1.0 (at least with Mozilla's NSS) and not migrated to newer versions of the protocol,
12
xtacy 2 days ago 0 replies      
As people point out, at least according to this RFC, this issue should have been fixed with TLS 1.1:

http://tools.ietf.org/html/rfc4346#ref-CBCATT

13
mike-cardwell 2 days ago 1 reply      
RequestPolicy users should be safe from this attack. The attacker can inject arbitrary javascript into a http page, but RequestPolicy will by default block that javascript from causing any cross site requests to the target https site.
14
uiri 3 days ago 1 reply      
Did anyone really trust it anyways? I mean, with fake certs floating around, in order for it to really be secure you need to guarantee that the cert you got is the real cert anyways, which most people (read: average users) don't bother with.
15
0x12 3 days ago 1 reply      
What are the practical consequences of this?
16
wladimir 2 days ago 1 reply      
This is scary. Would this also affect SSH (which uses OpenSSL) and SSL-based VPNs? Or is it specific to SSL in the browser?
17
angel122 1 day ago 0 replies      
Rss

What's that and how do I make the phone stop talking out loud

18
licketysplit 3 days ago 1 reply      
Anyone know if what netty uses by default or SSLServerSocket are vulnerable? The article says SSL > 1.0 is ok.
19
elke-park 1 day ago 0 replies      
The government can seem to do everything else but they can't stop this yeah right . Sometimes this government really ticks me the f... Off.
20
schiptsov 2 days ago 0 replies      
Oh, come on. the same bullshit as openssh 0-day. Have you ever tried to imagine how many audits have been done on SSL protocol and most common implementations by all those corporations, banks, and other organizations with a lots of money and time? And how many individuals spend weeks with sources and debuggers and wiresharks?
Unless you're complete idiot (who uses weak ciphers or allows re-configuration) current SSL implementations will suit you well.
21
peterwwillis 2 days ago 1 reply      
Another MitM attack using the browser's inability to force you to only use SSL for a given domain. We need a function in our browsers to specify domain XYZ only should use SSL. I know it sounds ghetto, but I would love to force domains matching "ssl.* . *" in my browser to only work with strong SSL on port 443 and nothing else (by default).

I know, why not just use https:// ? But it's hard to train users to act a different way and understand what's going on under the hood when they leave out a single letter in the protocol prefix. Just giving them a new address which they type in verbatim anyway seems like an easier fix. Plus, you disable all unencrypted connections for that domain and you don't need to worry about complex attacks like the current one and previous ones.

19
Why 80 Percent of Web Projects Are Total Bullshit: A Freelancer's Rant betabeat.com
272 points by alexkehayias  3 days ago   123 comments top 32
1
cletus 3 days ago  replies      
> They're not hackers, but they understand that programming is a craft; that programmers are artisans, not serfs.

Gold. Pure gold.

I've long wandered in the wilderness. I've had years of writing bullshit business applications. I've even dabbled in investment banking (where programmers, excluding quants, are the second lowest paid professionals at the bank, only higher than support/IT people). I've worked on bullshit semi-startups.

Now I work for Google where ironically... I write internal applications. This may seem like a cruel joke but it's really not. There is so much respect for engineering as a craft here that it occurred to me that it's not the writing bullshit business applications that was sapping my will to live, it was the business-types who so consistently treated engineering as an interchangeable cost center.

I've done the freelancing thing too. Never again. The world is full of delusional people who think they're the next Steve Jobs and that their idea, by itself, is worth something (it's worth precisely nothing).

2
replicatorblog 3 days ago 4 replies      
FWIW, the "Sticker Comapany Guy" is really cool and helpful to the startup community. He donates his products to almost any tiny technical gathering, shares a lot of info on his business, and provides a great product and excellent service to customers large and small. Also, his site has anywhere from 80-150K visitors a month who pay for his products so he may know a thing or two about running a business online http://siteanalytics.compete.com/stickergiant.com/
3
bradleyland 3 days ago 1 reply      
I'll see your rant and raise you one.

I posit that there are two kinds of people: Those who are good at what they do, and those who are not. Granted, it's far easier to find people who are good at some tasks than others, but the list of "difficult to find" skillsets isn't as focused in the tech industry as you might believe.

Case in point. My father has run his own lawn & landscape company for the last 15 years or so. In that time, he's discovered that it's actually really difficult to find people who are good at that job. That job being running a lawn mower, weed-whacker, and hedge trimmer. I'm a determined individual. I consider myself up to any challenge, but on my best day, one of his crewmen is worth two and a half of me in the field.

After the Florida hurricanes in 2005, I worked with my father's business for about a week in an effort to help them catch up. Two Guatemalan men on the crew called me "el burro", because while I wasn't much good at anything else, I'd pick up and drag tarp after tarp full of debris back to the trailer without question. They were half making-fun, and half serious. I ended up gaining their respect, but I'd have received my pink slip after three days if I were a hired hand.

I've taken the long way around to get to my point. From the businessman's perspective, most programmers we deal with suck pretty hard too. Care to know how many developers I've wasted time on, only to find out that they didn't know what they were doing, or were incapable of meeting me half-way in understanding a project?

Some will be quick to point the finger at me for having a loose spec, or allowing scope creep, or failing to understand the technical challenges. I'll be quick to point to the fact that I have a great network of talented, motivated programmers who jump at the chance to work with me.

I'm not asking you to talk to bullshit entrepreneurs who can't walk the walk, but I am asking you to set aside that chip on your shoulder until you take the time to know the difference.

4
bobbywilson0 3 days ago 1 reply      
The irony of the article is that Mr. Case doesn't want to share his identity because he himself works for these people he is making fun of. He then goes on to call out the Sticker Giant Guy and Kyle Bragger instead of protecting their names too. Kyle took it in stride, asking for more feedback in the comments.

Using a pseudonym to anonymously whine about people's bullshit projects is so cowardly. I generally agree with what he is saying but don't have much respect for this faceless ranter. Is it so hard to say no to the people who approach him with these bullshit projects, and move on? This isn't a new problem. There are plenty of clients especially in Brooklyn that are willing to pay a decent wage to work on a project that isn't completely soul crushing.

Building a good freelance client base is all about word of mouth. If you work a gig for a low wage and they walk all over you, chances are you will get more clients from the first client that want the same thing, to pay you a low wage and walk all over you. If you are choosy about who you do projects for, you will probably have a better portfolio because you didn't work on a bullshit project, and you will land more clients like first ones you chose to work with.

If you are choosy and still think the clients suck and the projects are bullshit, freelance probably isn't for you.

5
georgieporgie 3 days ago 2 replies      
So … what's his qualification? He runs stickergiant.com, a site that sells stickers

Uh. That sounds like exactly the sort of superficially boring thing that turns out to be a reliable, profit-generating engine. Like the story about the guy who started a website selling bowling balls. Or a tax client of an ex, who was making millions annually selling hop-up engine parts.

I thought everything else was pretty spot on, attacking this guy for his business and for telling a non-technical guy to stay non-technical is... weird. Do you really want some guy dicking around with the website's CSS when he's supposed to be interviewing people and finding a marketing consultant?

6
praeclarum 3 days ago 4 replies      
Guys, if you don't like clients and don't like most clients' ideas, then, uh, don't take on clients.

Programmers can:

1. Work at Big, Co. and make a decent living.

2. Work on your own projects and sell them directly to consumers (App Store)

3. Take on potentially douchey clients and their ideas.

If you can't stand the thought of #3, then just don't do it!

7
0x12 2 days ago 0 replies      
They may be bullshit to you but they are not bullshit to your customers.

The free market sucks, especially when you're competing with 3rd world countries. The only way to improve that is to make sure that the standard of living in those countries goes up sufficiently high that everybody gets to make a living. Give it a thousand years or so. Meanwhile enjoy your cheap goods from China.

Guess what, building infrastructure is really boring. And to the people that employ freelancers (like you and many others) you and your product are not the goal but simply a means to an end. And that end may be boring as hell but it probably makes a lot more money than freelancing writing software does.

If you want to practice software as an 'art' then you should get really good at it, rather than to be mediocre and to bitch anonymously about how terrible your customers are.

The great thing about freelancing is that you are under no obligation to take on a particular client. But you are under the obligation of once you do take on a particular client to treat them with dignity and respect and to deliver the job with a minimum of fuss, on time and within the budget. And even just that can take some skill, even if not all of it is technical.

8
josscrowcroft 3 days ago 0 replies      
Can anyone say "linkbait"?

Hate to be a party pooper, but this was total garbage. We all know what's wrong with freelancing.

No need to pick on the sticker company guy, either - I've heard he's a great fellow.

Zero intellectual substance here.

9
Tichy 2 days ago 0 replies      
I hate that stuff like this gets upvoted. Yeah, we get it, you can code, therefore you are superior. An artist even. If only everybody would ask your opinion first, but people seem to have the nerve to get by without you. Boo-Hoo...
10
mcantor 3 days ago 2 replies      
From the article: "(coders think businesses are just code)"

Requesting this on a t-shirt. White text, black background. Nothing else. Maybe a cheeky clip art of a stereotypical neckbeard-sort-of-guy.

11
ataleb 3 days ago 1 reply      
As a business student always getting new tech related ideas it quickly became obvious I was going to need to know some programming. I'm trying to learn some Java right now and attempted an iOS programming class...I dropped it.

I have a new found great respect for you programmers...I am very envious of your skills. So thank you all for creating the great software and technology that I use everyday.

12
rorrr 3 days ago 2 replies      
What I'd like to see is high budget short-term projects.

$1000 for 14 days is what, $9/hour.

13
rogerjin 3 days ago 0 replies      
IMO what the "sticker company guy" wrote is actually true. And while I agree most web projects are bullshit, the article as a whole reeked of arrogance, especially the part about the "sticker company guy".
14
mksreddy 3 days ago 2 replies      
While I agree with most points on the article, Its ridiculous to single out a person (in this case founder of Stickers company?) who only gave a decent positive advise to someone else.

Correctly so someone in comments of original blog pointed out the stickers guy is not a nOOb and a successful entrepreneur.

15
michaelpinto 3 days ago 2 replies      
Best quote from the rant "vague snowball requirements, language barrier, and low pay"
16
cienrak 3 days ago 2 replies      
The link points to an article demonstrating how people who play Magic the Gathering are marginalized by mainstream society.

The freelance programmer who wrote this piece is not Jon Finkel, a full time Magic the Gathering and poker pro.

Try harder.

17
ohboy 2 days ago 0 replies      
Every founder should have studied programming at some point, at least CS101 and CS201, at least enough to know what's possible and what's not.

I have a bootstrapped startup. I also left CS my junior year several years ago after running out of money. I haven't touched programming since so it's easier and less time consuming for me to hire a freelancer for a few bucks than it is to hit the books again. Even though I'm not doing the programming I'm grateful every day that I have that programming experience since I know if what I'm asking is possible or not. I have friends with ideas that ask me about programming or websites all the time and some of the things they think programming can do is shocking, the average person is completely clueless when it comes to how things work. Possible: "when someone signs-up on the website send them a confirmation message with a link asking them to like us on Facebook". Not possible: "when someone signs up send them a confirmation message and automatically have them click Like on our Facebook fan page".

18
rglover 2 days ago 0 replies      
While I do agree with the main point of this, the tone and delivery made it a bit hard to read at times (not to mention that it seems to skip focus part way through from freelance jobs to the definition of a founder). Granted, this seems to be framed as a rant less than it is an article. Regardless, it would have been nice to get a positive spin on these gripes (e.g. the author is working on a ratemyclient type site or creating a means for educating clients on good vs. bad projects).
19
dramaticus3 2 days ago 0 replies      
I work on projects from http://www.vworker.com/

Some of the project descriptions are comedy.

The thing that usually bugs me the most is that the client has already decided the platform and programming language before searching for programmers.

The next sadness is the "half finished PHP project needs finishing". So often it's like arriving at the scene of an accident. SQL injection and XSS everywhere. Zero factorisation. Top down everything. Terrible MySQL schema. The list goes on.

20
rada 2 days ago 0 replies      
Freelancers Union has an excellent tool named Client Scorecard for rating clients:

https://be.freelancersunion.org/client-scorecard/

It's anonymous and well-curated, if a little thin as of yet.

21
akanet 3 days ago 0 replies      
I can't be the only one who got to the end and thought, "Man, 80 is a really conservative number."
22
knodi 3 days ago 1 reply      
"Just because you do something, does not mean you're good at it." -- Count

This goes both ways.

23
agravier 2 days ago 0 replies      
Next up: why 80 percent of statistics found on internet are made up: a statistician's rant.
24
dolphenstein 3 days ago 2 replies      
Most successful tech company CEO's are originally techies (Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg,Eric Schmidt and I'd classify Steve Jobs as one too). This would indicate that business skills can be acquired and ultimately it is us techies that should be dismissive of those "business" types.
25
sbochins 2 days ago 0 replies      
I agree with his points on the Tinyproj stuff. Most of the projects there remind me of the job postings that label every fucking programming language/framework as a requirement. And then say you need at least 3-5 years experience with them. These were a little more focused than that, but extremely vague.
26
dohkoxar 3 days ago 0 replies      
This hits too close to home.
27
orenmazor 2 days ago 0 replies      
I can't upvote this enough. I might print it and have it posted at every coffee shop I visit within a 10 block radius of my office.
28
bluesnowmonkey 3 days ago 0 replies      
Every line of code written by a founder as he learned to program is a line I have to rip out when I come on board to do it right. By all means, scrounge up a little capital and let the professionals handle it from the start.
29
melvinng 2 days ago 0 replies      
It's not about the code in a project, it's about how you excute it. Compare Yahoo vs Google, AOL vs Google, Facebook vs Myspace, Apple vs PC.
30
schiptsov 2 days ago 0 replies      
You said web projects? That's right. In corporate world the ratio is around 90% ^_^

And everyone should be happy - without BS projects jobless ratio among mediocre coders and ctrl-c-ctrl-v sysadmins will be much higher.)

31
reagan83 3 days ago 1 reply      
You just posted a rant about a tech related bit while splitting your piece on to 2 pages. You sir, are a douchebag.
32
throaway39283 2 days ago 0 replies      
Fuck the business-type, and fake entrepreneurs. Just hire a sales-guy on commission to get you good clients, and make sure he doesn't get paid until you get your final check. Next, make sure you get 50% up-front. If the client is shit, just walk away, and keep the money. Those idiots aren't going to do anything useful with their website, anyway. Tell them it costs a $1000, and get $500 up-front. Spend a day on it, and then make excuses or whatever. If you aren't into making excuses, spend $100 an expert. If they keep complaining, demand more money.

Those business idiots don't deserve anything. They just want bullshit excuses when their bullshit doesn't work. Don't try to please them. it is a losing endeavor.

21
Facebook Timeline facebook.com
261 points by arnorhs  10 hours ago   144 comments top 51
1
mrshoe 10 hours ago 6 replies      
Does anyone here remember when Facebook had this feature back in 2004/2005? It was a little simpler, but exactly the same idea. They killed it a long time ago, but I guess they just decided to bring it back.

The dude in the video has sure aged and accomplished an impressive amount in Facebook's 7 year history.

2
muppetman 9 hours ago 7 replies      
I'm amazed I'm the only one it seems that things this is pretty lame and not going to be that popular. People _already know_ your life story, that's usually why their your (at least close) friends. Do you really want to see your workmates "life story"?

For those that think this is genuinely going to be a good and popular thing, could you explain why? You probably all know much better than me, so I am interested to hear why people think this'll be popular (which they obviously do, looking at every other comment here!)

I guess it could be useful to turn Facebook into a dating site - is that the bit I'm missing?

Edit: To downvoters: I'm more than happy to accept I'm wrong, I'd just like to know why I am. Cheers.

3
tuhin 10 hours ago 6 replies      
This in short is a great piece of design. Especially coming out of facebook this is amazing (well they now have one of the most talented designers so not that surprising).

However, as a business this is killer and shrewd. Everyone would want to save a log of their life. More app permissions to add to timeline > more auto posts in ticker > more connection for Facebook.

Well played!

Disclosure: I am working on something similar as a place for all the memories of your life (http://momment.com) so the above text comes in view of having actually thought about this problem for months now.

4
toyg 8 hours ago 5 replies      
I can't help but think of bitrot.

You spend an afternoon "scrapbooking" in real life, and you get something that your grand-grandsons might, one day, inherit and read in awe.

You spend an afternoon scrapbooking on FB, and in ten years FB goes bust or whatever (Geocities, anyone?), and you've got nothing.

I guess the real test will be my wife -- she loves scrapbooking.

(this, and the first time I went through the presentation my brain was screaming MYSPACE really, really loud.)

5
keiferski 10 hours ago 3 replies      
Whatever happened to just "being a utility"? All of these new features really don't line up with Zuckerberg's vision of Facebook.*

*At least my impression of his vision, given that he often describes Facebook as a utility.

Edit: sorry, what did I say that was so offensive? In every single interview I've seen with Zuckerberg, he talks about Facebook being a utility. How does adding various features (like the timeline) correspond with that at all?

6
blantonl 3 hours ago 3 replies      
Interesting to note that Facebook Timeline uses Microsoft's Bing maps for all mapping presentation. Direct shot across Google's bow?

I'm a Facebook developer and followed these instructions from none other than TechCrunch to get my timeline profile up and running.

http://techcrunch.com/2011/09/22/how-to-enable-facebook-time...

In any case, I thought the Bing Maps integration is a pretty significant item to note the growing competition between Facebook and Google on the social scene.

7
jamesjyu 5 hours ago 1 reply      
This is great.

The majority of social networks and social sharing sites are obsessed with the now. This stemmed from Facebook and Twitter pioneering the UI with the timeline format. However, try to go back really far in any timeline, and you'll usually be greeted with a wall.

Timeline will hopefully make Facebook (and other sites) realize the potential there is in browsing through and curating older content. Sure, people will still be obsessed with the newest stuff, but at least there will be a way to open up the time horizon a bit and reflect on the forest.

As the FB generation grows up to become grandparents, it'll be fascinating for the grandkids to actually see a complete and browsable timeline of their grandparents. Just imagine if you had that today.

Sidenote 1: FB is now starting to encroach on 1000memories's space.

Sidenote 2: FB should really sell automatically generated (but high quality) timeline storybooks. Parents and relatives would go crazy for that.

8
kwamenum86 9 hours ago 0 replies      
I've heard a lot of people on HN call Facebook a toy, which at some point was probably a fair criticism. This is the first thing I've seen from Facebook in a long time that truly feels like important and worthwhile work.
10
rglover 7 hours ago 0 replies      
This was the first time in awhile I got that "evil empire" vibe from something. Not to say that what Facebook is doing is inherently evil, but something about cataloging life into such a precise order seems...strange. From a technical standpoint, however, what Facebook has achieved is quite impressive. The design is gorgeous as is the interaction (and that's speaking without having actually used it). This definitely marks an exciting and encouraging time to be in this industry, but I hope it doesn't mean that we'll be living life via the timeline.
11
Pheter 9 hours ago 0 replies      
It will be interesting if/how this affects Facebook as a platform for apps.

Apps appear to be more visible in this design, as well as having more of a purpose. Perhaps part of the motivation of this design was to encourage developers to make use of the Facebook platform.

It may be a good opportunity for web apps to make their users more public about their choice of apps. While apps can currently publish to a user's wall, I prevent this from happening because it seems spammy and pointless, but I wouldn't have an issue with an app having a dedicated space on my profile where it displays specific information.

12
jagatiyer 1 hour ago 0 replies      
I have been an internet junkie for ages, but i beg to differ. While fb has made it a norm it seems about sharing information, i dont think it is as inherent in the human psyche to share everything than getting what you need.While it served its purpose of making the web more open and engaging, a more fundamental trait is the concept of need and selectivity, which is what makes each individual unique.And due to the traction FB has gained over the past half decade, i think the web overall has missed the point, addressing individuality in terms of what you do instead of who u are, and what you need.
13
rmason 8 hours ago 0 replies      
So the question is if you want to live your life on Facebook are you also willing to document your life on Facebook?

What comes next? Genealogical charts? Medical records? That's not how I want to use Facebook.

14
ryansloan 10 hours ago 4 replies      
Looks like a digital, semi-automated scrapbook. From my understanding, it's not an overhaul of the profile, but another view of your online identity. If they pull it off it could be pretty cool.
15
xtacy 10 hours ago 2 replies      
Is this similar to http://path.com?
16
smackfu 10 hours ago 1 reply      
Have they added a way to change the date on a photo? Because those scanned 80's photos in the demo aren't going to show up in the 80's if you uploaded them in 2010.

Edit: Sounds like you drag the existing photos to the timeline to add them in the appropriate place. Better than nothing...

17
hammock 10 hours ago 2 replies      
Looks like a ripoff of Google's Dear Sophie, without the emotional impact.
18
egypturnash 9 hours ago 0 replies      
My only response is "sweet, now I can quit trying to do that banner-across-the-top-photo-thumbnails thing on my burlesque identity's page". Anything else is lagniappe.
19
swies 9 hours ago 0 replies      
This is really smart.

Those years of updates and photos on the timeline are data that only Facebook has. It's a unique asset and they're putting it front and center.

If people like the timeline a lot it will be an enormous barrier to entry for competing social networks.

20
watty 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Looks really interesting. Wonder if G+/Picasa will be creating a similar feature - I've almost moved away from facebook completely.
21
mark_l_watson 4 hours ago 0 replies      
A tangent: I allow G+ to auto-upload the pictures and short videos that I take with my Droid. Since I spend a little time deleting all but my favorite pictures and videos, this will eventually be a good private timeline (private because auto-uploaded material is not public until you share it).

If someone spent a few minutes a day also annotating pictures and videos then this would be a good resource for remembering the past.

Hopefully Google Takeout exporting facility will soon also provide download ZIPs for auto-upload materials.

22
nchlswu 7 hours ago 0 replies      
I didn't watch the Keynote, but based on Nicholas Felton's feature on the timeline page and what I've read, Facebook gave him a lot of credit.

For those who don't know, Felton is a graphic designer hired in April [http://www.fastcodesign.com/1663718/facebook-hires-infograph... for more info].

The simple graphical layout of Timeline in the preview page reminds me of MySpace. But given how Felton is a big part of this. Facebook's designs have largely ebbed and flowed, but this looks like a cool concept and Felton's involvement has me excited.

23
JacobAldridge 10 hours ago 2 replies      
Have I missed any Spotify - Facebook announcements? I know there's been some buzz on FB live-streaming music - this seems to indicate (in the Apps section) that it will do so using Spotify.
24
kickingvegas 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Wonder what Freeman and Gelernter think about it.

http://cs-www.cs.yale.edu/homes/freeman/lifestreams.html

25
tedjdziuba 50 minutes ago 0 replies      
I like how every picture on that page is of a white person.
26
jh3 9 hours ago 0 replies      
I think a lot of mom's are going to enjoy this. Younger people may like it too, especially girls, but mother's are going to have a field day creating a scrapbook like this with Facebook.
27
byrneseyeview 9 hours ago 0 replies      
It's lifepath.me with features! Not necessarily an improvement.
28
fleitz 10 hours ago 0 replies      
This feature is giving me visions of "The Final Cut"
29
erikpukinskis 9 hours ago 1 reply      
How wide are Facebook's designers' screens? My laptop is 1280 pixels wide and I can't see the full width of this page.

Please cap your designs at 1000 pixels.

30
lachyg 2 hours ago 0 replies      
Does anyone have a mirror of this, or screenshots? Facebook is blocked here!
31
ThomPete 7 hours ago 0 replies      
I wonder how many businesses and hopes facebook killed today. Many of those features are things that you could imagine someone might offer as an app.

Soon they will begin to bet against their own market.

32
fecklessyouth 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Spotify is alright, but I use iTunes far more and wish it could integrate.
33
richbradshaw 10 hours ago 0 replies      
This does look quite cool. Will be interesting to see it for real.
34
ashrust 10 hours ago 0 replies      
I imagine this just killed erly.com's collections.
35
artursapek 6 hours ago 1 reply      
Facebook is moving further and further from the "young and cool" demographic.
36
bruceboughton 9 hours ago 0 replies      
The design of this About page looks remarkably similar to an Apple product page, the title font especially. Very well done.
37
bengl3rt 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Isn't this basically what Path was trying to become?
38
jbredeche 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Looks like a Flipboard of your life, plus you can customize its content for different groups of visitors. Glad FB is focusing on design, it looks beautiful.
39
kposehn 10 hours ago 0 replies      
...this rather awesome. I think this'll be a good way to make the profiles more engaging and visually interesting. Good move!
40
faizanaziz 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Google - "Tell me more about you"
Facebook - "Show me your friends and I will tell you who you are"
41
ithora 6 hours ago 0 replies      
What would be great to use the timeline to create slideshows with the music you were listening at that time. Like a life radio station.
42
tmsh 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Ring structure! (The microphone.)
43
jfeldstein2 9 hours ago 1 reply      
This is a very nice thing to have, if it were detailed enough that I could scan it and reminisce.

But if it were that detailed, I wouldn't want it made public.

Can we timeline privately?

44
zerostar07 10 hours ago 0 replies      
It looks tumblr-inspired. I expect tumblr to get back at them with a similar timeline.
45
32ftpersecond 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Now all they need is a text-to-speech feature to fully rip off Qwiki in this new(ish) innovation.
46
Chunkinator 8 hours ago 0 replies      
For extra points they should have ended the timeline with Andy Sparks in a coffin.
47
ridave 10 hours ago 0 replies      
the myline ipad app offers a similar functionality with a cool interface.
48
xster 8 hours ago 0 replies      
huh?
49
sudonim 10 hours ago 0 replies      
This looks like a new feature rather than reinventing the main way you interact with Facebook. Your comment seems directed at the changes they made in the past few days rather than the link in this thread.
50
BasDirks 9 hours ago 2 replies      
Disgusting. Who would put their life story on Facebook? A crippled kind of human. Life is not pictures and facts, and this product pretends it is.
51
quizbiz 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Facebook just announced their Timeline feature. The first beautiful interface from Facebook. A product with a lot of feel good elements but a great way for Facebook to integrate themselves even further into the life story of it's millions of users.

Facebook is trying to be a place for social groups to interact online and also for the individual self to be discovered. I don't think both can be done effectively. There's just too much noise on Facebook as it is. I think this feature, really just a visualization of the feed, will just lead to more stalker type behavior.

22
OnStar Begins Spying On Customers' GPS Location For Profit zdziarski.com
259 points by jzdziarski  2 days ago   92 comments top 20
1
politician 2 days ago 2 replies      
If OnStar is collecting data after you cancel service, I would think that they've made themselves liable to "duty to rescue" if they observe you getting into a wreck.

If they aren't doing this -- that is, if they are observing and ignoring wrecks -- then I hope that someone starts a class action.

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

"In the United States, as of 2009 ten states had laws on the books requiring that people at least notify law enforcement of and/or seek aid for strangers in peril..."

2
yock 2 days ago 1 reply      
I would think this isn't limited to in-vehicle hardware like OnStar, but rather it seems applicable to smartphones too. That smartphone in your pocket is moving just as fast as your car and could just as easily be used to gather such data. Perhaps not as fine grained as the OnStar information (talking coarse vs fine location) but there's certainly enough data casually collected by your dormant smartphone to enable much of the same exploitation.
3
raphman 2 days ago 0 replies      
For context: GPS navigation device manufacturer TomTom sold anonymized traffic data to the Dutch police this year, police used data for setting up targeted speed traps.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2011/apr/28/tomtom-satn...

4
icefox 2 days ago 1 reply      
If anyone actually thought OnStar wouldn't be used for that from day 1 they were just fooling themselves.
5
suking 2 days ago 2 replies      
Pretty scary that they collect data after you cancel unless you unhook it. What if you buy a used car that had OnStar - how is that legal?
6
jroll 2 days ago 3 replies      
Disclaimer: I work for GM, but do not know much about OnStar, especially internals. My reply is purely speculative.

I can't speak as to what OnStar actually does with this data, but I CAN tell you that GM wants to use it as a platform for the best customer service platform in the business.

Imagine that the "marketing" they do with this data is something like selling it to dealerships ("affiliates"); the marketing call being something like "Hi Mr. Smith, we noticed your fuel pump is going bad. You pass by our Main St. service center daily; would you like to schedule an appointment?"

They could also "sell" that data to GM engineering, to make future (or current, through controls software updates) products better.

7
dreww 2 days ago 3 replies      
It's true that OnStar's TOS is awful, but the author leaps to several inflammatory conclusions that, to me, seem unjustified.

The most obvious one is when he mentions the boilerplate about a part of OnStar being sold, and then theorizes that they are actually planning to sell, perhaps even to one of those great boogeymen, Apple or Google.

8
dlikhten 2 days ago 1 reply      
Anonymized gps data can be troubling. For example:

If I was an insurance company having to pay a claim. I could buy the GPS data, look at some anonymous GPS device that constantly goes to/fro the house of the person in the accident, followed by noticing that this person was speeding a few miles an hr and denying claims or claiming more responsibility, even if it is not warrented.

The flip side is that it can be a good thing. Funny thing about speed traps though... Guy gets pulled over for speeding 10mph above limit. Claims that hes moving with traffic (60mph). Gets ticket. 10 min later gets pulled over for creating traffic going 50mph, the speed limit, and gets off with a warning after showing the original ticket.

End of the day, this is very tricky, can be good and bad for society. However in the end OnStar is profiting so its not intended to help anyone but OnStar.

9
greentiger 2 days ago 1 reply      
This is the wave of the future; sharing data. Unfortunately, the way the model currently works is that our data is collected by others and used by others. We need to define a framework where can establish sovereignty over our data, decide how and with whom we wish to share it, and finally, be able to capture some of the income derived from the use of this data.

I might be OK with OnStar selling my data, if I get a piece of the action. Otherwise, what's the point? My job is not to further enrich these companies after I've purchased their product/service; they are making use of what is currently a free resource, my/yours/our data, and it's high time we started charging them for this privilege. They are essentially capturing economic rent, and it's really my income that they are capturing.

10
moab9 2 days ago 0 replies      
I know for a fact that OnStar provides incriminating information about its users to the police. For example, if you are in a wreck and you sound intoxicated, they will inform the cops. (I've heard police talking about this on scanners).

Given their enthusiasm for ratting out costumers to the authorities, I would be concerned.

11
SoftwareMaven 1 day ago 0 replies      
Apple and Google are nt the companies you need to worry about. The truly scary ones are companies like Axcion (http://www.acxiom.com/ ). When a company has so much private info on you that only the federal government is allowed to see some of it, and they are gathering this information on every transaction you make, then i think you have to worry.

Not that Google and Apple [and Facebook] couldn't be on their way. I just think they both have competing agendas that will limit how awful they are with the data. People feeling Google and Appke are awful data companies are suffering badly from Familiarity bias.

12
RexRollman 2 days ago 1 reply      
Does anyone know if it is hard to physically disable an OnStar system? I don't have a car with OnStar; just curious.
13
jen_h 2 days ago 0 replies      
This reminded me of a case back in 2003...the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against the FBI in a case where they were tripping "recovery mode" to surreptitiously monitor drivers under Federal investigation:

http://news.cnet.com/Court-to-FBI-No-spying-on-in-car-comput...

The court ruled against the FBI here, apparently not for anything related to privacy, but rather due to the fact that such surveillance could constitute an interruption in emergency services.

Note also that the decision is only binding in states that fall within the 9th Circuit's jurisdiction. (And no clue whether this decision applies also to local law enforcement; would assume that it does, but IANAL/LLE).

14
gentle 2 days ago 1 reply      
This is really not ok, and means I'll never buy any car that has OnStar.
15
InclinedPlane 2 days ago 0 replies      
First they make you need them, then they make you subservient to them. Has empire building ever been any different, from the 21st century BC to today?
16
joelhaasnoot 2 days ago 0 replies      
Sounds like to me they're getting into what TomTom does with their Traffic HD service (think that's what it's called). Cellular modems report location and speed, based on which traffic reports are shared with other navigation units.
17
Bud 2 days ago 1 reply      
This situation cries out for Congressional oversight.
18
ShawnJG 2 days ago 0 replies      
I think the larger issue here, that legislation is not caught up with the digital world. And I don't suspect it will for some time. There is little incentive for companies and governmental agencies from restrictions on what they can or cannot track without a warrant. Law enforcement agencies want easy access to your entire digital footprint and companies want to continue to pilfer that information for profit. Unless sweeping legislation is introduced or broad enough case is brought before the Supreme Court your digital life will remain an open book to anyone with enough money, technology or know-how.
19
badragon 2 days ago 2 replies      
That is why I would never consider buying a GM car
20
doctoboggan 2 days ago 5 replies      
OP's outrage rests on the fact that OnStar claims they are anonymizing the data and he says they are not. Why should I believe him over OnStar? He gave no evidence that they were not anonymizing the data properly, he just assumed they were not.

EDIT: There are other ways to anonymize data than simply removing the name associated with data.

23
Bada Bing, Bada Boom: Culture inside Bing worldofsu.com
241 points by xpaulbettsx  5 days ago   97 comments top 17
1
sriramk 5 days ago 2 replies      
For those who may not know Philip.

I worked with Philip shortly back at MSFT. He was one of my favorite people and had all the right core values one would ever want. Someone who got stuff done and cared about it. I thought losing him to FB was a terrible loss for MSFT (he went on to do the FB/Skype integration almost single-handedly). He is not just another disgruntled employee, he is someone MSFT needs to listen to.

No comment on the stuff on Bing. Or Yahoo :).

2
jonnathanson 4 days ago 2 replies      
"People look out for themselves when there's nothing to look forward to."

This is what it all comes down to, whether at Bing, or at any other large organization. The other bullet points on Philip's list are fine, but this one is perhaps wholly sufficient. Politics exists in every organization. And every organization has some folks who are more Machiavellian than others. But all of this crap comes to the forefront, amplified and accelerated, when an organization is in turmoil. (And that atmosphere of turmoil usually trickles down from the top; a divisional leader who's always politicking and maneuvering inspires his lieutenants to do the same, and on and on it goes).

I've had the distinct displeasure of working for at least three large divisions of megagiant companies in varying degrees of peril or stagnation, and all three of them -- despite wildly different corporate cultures and people -- became similar hotbeds of political intrigue. Declining quarterlies led to re-orgs, and re-orgs led to chaos, and chaos bred more chaos. And in this crucible people forged schemes, machinations, alliances, and double-crosses that would make A Game of Thrones look like a Dr. Seuss book.

This phenomenon is notable because the same people, operating in the same groups, did not behave so politically in better times. Like I said, I'm sure that a few of them were always plotting and conniving. But only when the division went into steady decline did the sheep cast off their clothing and reveal the wolves beneath.

3
hello_moto 4 days ago 1 reply      
Programmers think that they hate politics but when it comes down to the actual technical stuff, they do politics as well.

Some programmers want to be "relevant" in the HN sense so they push new technology that they just picked up last week religiously (node.js for a CRUD app, which most websites are anyway, comes to mind) like it is the next big thing.

Or they just read 37Signals books and drank the 37Signals + RoR kool-aid and push 100% 37Signals mindset to the workplace that doesn't fit with that (different target, client base, market, etc). Come back in 3 years time and you'll see the same guy pushing for MVC in client-side/browser as opposed to stick with simplicity yet still pushing 37Signals mindset whenever he refused to do work that doesn't inline with him for whatever reasons (laziness, or else).

Or perhaps they came back from Agile meeting and think that Scrum is the only way to run a project that everybody else must follow it. (Hint: Scrum is hard to understand and to apply to a large group of people who don't know Scrum 100%). On the flip side, cowboy coders hate a single addition of "process" even if that process is called Continuous Integration. They'll do whatever it takes to make sure they can continue to code like cowboys.

Even the unit-test debate can be considered as politics. Some people want the company to rely on themselves so they prefer no unit-tests. Programmers are notorious with locking in the knowledge in their brain only hence no unit-tests, no documentations. Just Read The F... Code they say. C'mon, don't give me excuses that these are useless except for your weekend projects. We all know that most startups develop from prototypes. They almost rarely re-write their main (with odd codebase) products.

... more reasons to be an indie developer I suppose...

4
eric_boyd 4 days ago 2 replies      
What an odd blog post!

I've been on the Bing Ads side for the past two years. I overlapped with Philip very briefly at MSFT. When I started, he was working in a group that had nothing to do with Bing. I had a couple pretty positive email exchanges and generally thought highly of the guy, but certainly didn't know him well.

Today, out of the blue, about a year after he left MSFT, he writes a scathing critique of a culture that he hasn't been a part of for 3+ years (I don't honestly know when he was at Bing), and writes about it in the present tense without any clarification that the events are in the past. On his Facebook post, Philip comments that the test director incident happened 5 years ago. His blog reads like it happened last week.

Qi Lu joined MSFT less than 3 years ago to take over Bing and all of online services. When Qi took it on, it was called Live Search. It had been losing market share every month for years. Since Bing launched, it's market share has risen every month. It's quite possible that the culture Philip worked in was every bit as broken as he describes. But the team I work in, I can speak to it being a fantastic place to work now. Qi has been upgrading the talent top down and now I find it filled with very smart people making real progress, both in the quality of the search engine, and in the market share gains over the past two years.

Are there still some political people? Of course, every large organization has them. But the company Philip writes about doesn't sound like the one I work in.

Obvious disclaimer about the fact that I'm a current employee and thus biased.

5
jmillikin 5 days ago 7 replies      
Independent of the post, does anybody else find the OCCASIONAL BOLD PHRASES very distracting? I can't make up my mind whether to READ THEM WITH EMHPASIS, as one might hear in verbal speech, or try to find a CLEVER HIDDEN MESSAGE from the author.
6
mynameishere 5 days ago  replies      
unless Google, like most of Microsoft's previous competitors, summarily shoots itself via a series of disastrous decisions

It's possible. Corporations change. The difference in quality is slight, but google has been making some ludicrous mistakes lately (IMHO, obviously):

1. Google instant. This is such shit I can hardly believe it. Yeah, I can turn it off, but the average person is going to be charmed by the gimmick of it without realizing how awful it is. On unfamiliar computers, I go to bing automatically.

2. The disinclusion of search terms. This happened all the time pre-google, and now it's happening at google with every query. You have to affix a plus sign on every term if you want it actually searched. Again, normal people are unaware.

3. The debasement of the brand. I'm talking about the non-stop cutesy-pie logos. What if Coke did this?

4. Very public flops outside their area of expertise. Google+, etc.

...these four things aren't going to hurt google too much, but they tell me that the lunatics are now in charge.

7
Cherian_Abraham 5 days ago 2 replies      
From the post: Yet the same people who led the 30-person MSN Search team retained key leadership positions in the 3,000-person Bing team. How, exactly, does this happen?

I would say, more often than not when you work in large corporations where either teams have grown uncontrollably, or where certain people who happened to be present in key positions early, has enough clout organizationally to warrant the same position even when the team grows or its responsibilities grow.

I have seen where consulting firms at Client organizations, where the Team Lead on the first client project who is managing three developers end up being the Program manager years later overseeing 40-50 consultants, with no real leadership experience.

8
rachelbythebay 5 days ago 2 replies      
I decided to do a test and switched my in-browser search bar to Bing. So far, I haven't had any reason to object. I still get results which do what I want.

Also, I could swear that Bing Maps is actually faster than Google in terms of loading tiles, scrolling around, and all of that. Google Maps just sticks at times, for some reason. It's amazing to see it fall so far, considering that smooth-scrolling maps at Google is what brought me over from Mapquest years ago.

I'd love to see someone continue the result comparisons with the brands filed off. It might surprise people.

9
dreamux 5 days ago 1 reply      
Anyone have a link to the study referenced in here which says people prefer bing results to google's when logos are reversed? This seems like something MSFT's marketing department would be trumpeting at every opportunity...

EDIT: The closest I've found is this - http://blindsearch.fejus.com/ which lets users vote up anonymous result sets. However, the last reported numbers (from 2009) show Google in the lead. Oh well.

10
nostrademons 4 days ago 1 reply      
Are there seriously 3000 people working on Bing?
11
rafaelferreira 5 days ago 0 replies      
The post starts out sending a disgruntled-employee vibe, but it improves later on. The OP conjectures about how an organization becomes more heavily political than the rest of a company are pretty interesting.
12
bconway 2 days ago 0 replies      
I once witnessed a debate between two leaders in Bing about whether Microsoft network proxies should be modified to redirect all employee traffic targeted at Google towards Bing instead. Never mind that employees were using Google; someone actually thought the way to win was to force them to use Bing. “I know, we'll make them use it!”

I love this mentality. With everyone else, it's dogfooding and is a highly recommended practice, especially here on HN. With Microsoft, it's forcing your employees to use something against their will.

13
parallel 3 days ago 0 replies      
Apologies in advance for making a fairly trivial observation but I really like this guys use of bold in the text. It's a little like a tabloid newspaper but I found that it genuinely added to the writing making it more readable and more amusing.
14
ck2 4 days ago 0 replies      
did you know that employees yodel at the end of their company meetings

Sure hope that is voluntary or they have the Walmart management of the web. (google "walmart cheer")

15
foxit 4 days ago 0 replies      
The question I have after reading this post is: What about his NDA? At a higher level, do they not demand signing of those? I certainly had one.
16
pcj 5 days ago 0 replies      
Any insights on how this (sustaining a healthy and positive culture with growth) is handled in Google/Apple/even Facebook?
17
jroseattle 4 days ago 0 replies      
I found Philip's article to be remarkably uninteresting. He observed political machinations in a large company -- what a shock! I don't care if he has been out of the space for 3 years, or if he's in the middle of it today -- he didn't identify anything about organizational behavior that isn't already known. Move along, nothing to see here....
24
Wikileaks Takes Down the Head of Al Jazeera readwriteweb.com
237 points by mwilcox  2 days ago   60 comments top 12
1
potatolicious 2 days ago 5 replies      
> "The incident illustrates that not even Wikileaks' former media partners are safe from the wrath of the organization's radical, pro-transparency agenda."

Wait, pointing out a clear conflict of interest and censorship is being "radically pro-transparency"?

I don't believe in WikiLeak's mantra that all information, regardless of context, should be transparent, but since when is releasing information about a clear abuse radical in any way whatsoever?

2
robchez 2 days ago 4 replies      
http://english.aljazeera.net/news/middleeast/2011/09/2011920...

Sheikh Ahmad bin Jassim bin Mohammad Al Thani has been appointed as new director general.

I guess their credibility is now completely out the window

3
sliverstorm 2 days ago 4 replies      
I continually wonder if Wikileaks has considered that, in their fiery no-compromise campaign, they may actually be setting back progress?

What on earth could I mean? Well, in this particular case- I respect Al Jazeera. I am generally pleased with their journalism as compared to many American firms, and they have a different perspective from many American journalists, which is valuable. It could be a really good thing if Al Jazeera became a popular source for news in the USA. In that light, I can't help but wonder if a little co-operation with the US government is a small price to be paid compared to potential future payoff.

4
reidbradford 2 days ago 2 replies      
"Don't Assume WikiLeaks Brought Down Al Jazeera's Director":

http://www.theatlanticwire.com/global/2011/09/dont-assume-wi...

5
nir 1 day ago 0 replies      
It's funny this is what causes people to question AJ credibility. Merely being based in a Monarchy and financed by the ruling family wasn't some cause for concern, you think?

(BBC comparisons commence in 1..)

This is not to say AJ should be ignored. But it should always be taken with several grains of salt. The fact people consider it more ethical than, say, Fox News is ridiculous. It just seems that way since it's closer to what you want to believe, just as the people watching Fox love it since it confirms their biases.

6
r00fus 2 days ago 0 replies      
So the took down the head of Al Jazeera who censored articles from it's own journalists to placate the US government?

Another way of looking at this: perhaps it's not that Wikileaks is going against Al Jazeera, but saving it from internal corruption.

7
noarchy 1 day ago 1 reply      
"The coverage in question was to include images of injured civilians, which were allegedly removed by Khanfar."
When was the last time that the major media in the US showed injured or dead civilians? The tendency to sanitize the effects of war is hardly limited to Al-Jazeera.
8
aheilbut 2 days ago 2 replies      
Is this referring to a leak distinct from the origianal wikileaks set?

From the wikileaks.org site: "The cables, which date from 1966 up until the end of February 2010"

Yet the nytimes article cites "the leaked U.S. diplomatic cable dated October 2010"

Is the actual cable available anywhere?

9
0x12 1 day ago 0 replies      
If wikileaks was the cause of this - and that is unresolved as far as I can see - it would actually increase their standing.
10
oldstrangers 2 days ago 1 reply      
Wadah Khanfar still has more journalistic integrity than anyone at Fox/News Corp. Or really any American media outlet. Our media outlets can't even show pictures of American coffins...
11
bh42222 1 day ago 0 replies      
...the organization's radical, pro-transparency agenda

This is an unsettling turn of phrase. I wonder what percentage of the population agrees with it?

12
andyv88 1 day ago 0 replies      
Compare the events to the News of the World hacking scandal. Good to see that the Head of the company stood down immediately
25
Pirate Party Germany gets into the parliament for the state of Berlin piratenpartei.de
251 points by FrojoS  4 days ago   65 comments top 16
1
Luyt 4 days ago 6 replies      
Arrrr, me hearties, I still can't get used to the term 'pirate' that is slapped upon people who copy digital music.

A pirate is a criminal at sea, who inititiates violence against sea travelers. Pirates steal property (like vessels) and valuables, and it's not uncommon that pirates murder their victims, or take them hostage for a ransom.

How the term 'pirate' ever could be used to denote kids swapping MP3's, is unfathomable to me. The analogy is ludicrous. But maybe it could be because pirate (the seafaring kind) communities in the 18th century had a liberal approach to freedom, which was unusual in that time, and maybe that extrapolates somehow to the liberal file swapping in our digital age. Which doesn't, by the way, harm anyone, nor takes away things from people.

2
FrojoS 4 days ago 0 replies      
There is a funny fact, that shows that even the Berlin Pirates them self did not dream of a greater success: According to the current exit-poll estimations, they would get 15 seats in the parliament. That's exactly the number of candidates they assigned. Would they get more seats, those seats would have to stay empty.

Though, as others have pointed out, its more likely, that their share will go down once all votes are counted out.

3
loevborg 4 days ago 1 reply      
The German political spectrum is interesting to watch at the moment. There are substantial changes, with real consequences on all levels. So far I think this is democracy doing its job well. Thus established parties, like the "liberals" (FDP) and the Greens, have neglected topics like data privacy, net neutrality. The creation of a new party, like the Greens in the eighties and the Pirates in the aughts, is a drastic sign that the agenda needs updating. Let's hope that the German political system is stable enough to sustain substantive changes to the political landscape without instability.
4
nextparadigms 4 days ago 1 reply      
Glad to see that the party that actually fights for Internet liberties, rather than for the companies lobbying them, is starting to get more and more political power in all these different countries where it exists.
5
aw3c2 4 days ago 1 reply      
For what it's worth, the linked page currently does show pre-vote estimates, not the current numbers. The results will be official later.
6
Create 4 days ago 0 replies      
I can't help not to wonder, who's counter-revolution this is exactly...

http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/adamcurtis/2011/09/the_curse_of_t...

7
cabalamat 4 days ago 1 reply      
This is an exit poll rather than the actual result. Nevertheless, WELL DONE PIRATES!
8
mdariani 4 days ago 0 replies      
Good Job. Let's see how they will perform over time. At least there will be some very young and motivated people in the berlin parliament.
10
aualin 4 days ago 0 replies      
Great stuff, let's hope this happens in Sweden as well
11
etaty 4 days ago 0 replies      
Is it because of Apple suing Samsung?
(PP is against patents)
12
jaryd 4 days ago 2 replies      
*Parliament?
13
melvinng 4 days ago 0 replies      
Nice this is just like the Swedish party that took seats in the European Parliament in 2009.
14
zeynalov 4 days ago 1 reply      
No, they doesn't get into the parliament, it's only an exit-poll, not official.
15
NanoWar 4 days ago 0 replies      
Yarrrrr! Still voting green, but good job!
16
oemera 4 days ago 4 replies      
I'm little confused that this is a popular news at HN. They fight for Internet stuff but they also deny that there was an Holocaust in Germany.

For me this is pretty bad news to hear that they will get into the parliament.

Source for denying the holocaust: http://translate.google.com/translate?sl=de&tl=en&js...

26
HTML5 Map of the the World Migrations using SVG, Raphael.js and offline storage migrationsmap.net
236 points by madewulf  4 days ago   64 comments top 23
1
nl 4 days ago 0 replies      
People who like exploring statistics like this (as opposed to just being impressed by the nice technical implementation - which I love, btw) should take a look at GapMinder.

Eg:

http://www.gapminder.org/world/#$majorMode=chart$is;shi=t;ly...

http://www.gapminder.org/world/#http://www.gapminder.org/wor...

The Hans Rosling TED talk is fantastic too: http://www.ted.com/talks/hans_rosling_shows_the_best_stats_y...

2
CoreDumpling 4 days ago 1 reply      
It's understandable that several places don't have data (NaN), but I found it curious that Burma/Myanmar is missing from the map [1], much like the "Poland Sea" in a Microsoft Date/Time screen from yesteryear [2].

Did you create this map data or get it from somewhere else? Is this some kind of joke?

[1] http://i.imgur.com/m8Wce.png

[2] https://blogs.msdn.com/b/oldnewthing/archive/2006/10/27/8804...

3
fbnt 4 days ago 2 replies      
Nice and interesting, well done! I also like the offline caching feature.

The only tiny imperfection I see it's in the lines connecting two countries, I'd like to see an arrow so I know if I'm looking at arrivals or departures.

Is there a way to filter the GMO database to see only the current migration flow (say, last 5 years)?

4
narain 4 days ago 2 replies      
This is really informative, and very well done to boot. Great work!

The colour scheme struck me as a little odd, though. It goes from darker (more migration) to lighter (less migration) but then abruptly to dark grey (no migration), making it harder to interpret at first glance. It would be nice if it were somewhat monotonic: bright colour = more migration, darker/duller colour = less migration, dark grey = no migration.

5
SudarshanP 4 days ago 1 reply      
The blue arrow next to the arrivals and departures selection, acts like a radio buttion, but looks like an arrow. This is misleading... I was wondering why it said "Arrivals => Deprture" which looked weird... only after i clicked around, it was obvious that it was acting like a radio button.
6
ofca 4 days ago 1 reply      
Fascinating how boring data may be presented interesting and fresh by simple vizualisation. This remings me of the TED talk given by Hans Rosling about global statistics of population, mortality, internet access etc. Whoever made this map should contact mr. Hans, I smell collaboration there.
7
davidwparker 4 days ago 0 replies      
Great job and I really enjoyed the visualizations. If you have the data, I would love to see migrations over time.
8
bencevans 4 days ago 3 replies      
Really Responsive too and it all works in Opera or seemed to anyway, so many developers forget about Opera because it doesn't have the same amount of marketing as the others. But anyway Sweet Build!
9
brianbreslin 4 days ago 1 reply      
Some data seems strange to me.
Why would 123k mexicans go to pakistan?
Or 30k mexicans go to Congo?
http://migrationsmap.net/#/MEX/departures

and I understand this is lifetime, but still those two destinations seem unlikely to me.

fascinating map nonetheless.

10
corporalagumbo 4 days ago 1 reply      
What is this data? Is it last year's migrations? Averages? More context is needed.
11
fauigerzigerk 4 days ago 3 replies      
Very nice. I was wondering how difficult it would be to capture a particular state of the map (say UK departures) as a PNG for embedding or generating a PDF. Could you do that on the server side?
12
dropshopsa 4 days ago 1 reply      
This is awesome really enjoyed it, spent about 20 mins checking out how people and moving around the world.

I would include a zoom function, some small countries are hard to find.

13
wyclif 4 days ago 1 reply      
The English on the About page needs some work. Pay attention to singular and plural, for example.
14
zalew 4 days ago 1 reply      
I see various migrations lacking - f.ex. Polish to Brazil, and Vietnamese to Poland. why is that?
15
rue 4 days ago 0 replies      
I'd like to see this in the Peters projection, but otherwise quite fun!
16
majika 4 days ago 0 replies      
There's an ordering issue for Faroe Islands departures. I think it might be doubling single-digit quantities - everything below Panama (10 departures) is a duplicated number. I'm on Firefox 6.0.2, Linux AMD64.
17
paulkoer 4 days ago 1 reply      
Very impressive, nicely done! Spent a couple of minutes exploring migrant streams.

Minor nitpick: When I click on 'Macedonia' the origin point appears in Sweden. When I click on 'Serbia' it appears in Canada.

18
mhidalgo 3 days ago 0 replies      
Kind of crazy to see how almost every Country on the list has the United States as a destination.
19
bwblabs 4 days ago 1 reply      
Looks great! The population of Saint Helena is NaN and also there is something wrong with the arrows..

BTW changing #hashcode based on the country looking at would be great too.

20
qikquestion 4 days ago 1 reply      
Interesting...there is a huge migration from Brazil to China..can someone point out whats the reason?
21
edswangren 4 days ago 1 reply      
The GDP of Somalia is apparently so low it is NaN.
22
ronmac 3 days ago 0 replies      
For more data visualization check out www.bricbracs.com/splash
23
sudobear 4 days ago 0 replies      
Fantastic
28
How can C Programs be so Reliable? tratt.net
221 points by ColinWright  19 hours ago   139 comments top 24
1
mechanical_fish 14 hours ago 2 replies      
"C is unreliable" is the wrong way to conceptualize the problem. The argument against C is that it is inefficient. It's not that C programs are broken; it's that if you spend six hours writing C code your code will either do less, or be more broken, than what you would have produced had you spent those six hours writing, e.g., Perl or Javascript or Lisp instead.

There's no reason why you can't write correct C code, or correct assembly code for that matter. The challenge is to do so without wasting a lot of time: Any amount of time that you spend consciously thinking about correct memory management or hand-optimizing your opcodes could probably be spent doing something more important, unless you are working on one of the few problems where that kind of optimization is actually the bottleneck.

Of course, the flip side of having to think about every layer is that you get to see and potentially tweak every layer. It's nice to work on something transparent. It's nice to know what is going on down there among the sockets and the buffers. I've been thinking about practicing some C for just that reason, and it seems to be why the OP likes C. But I don't anticipate being very efficient when writing my own web server in C. My website will be better if I just install a big pile of other people's C and get on with designing or writing.

2
0x12 18 hours ago  replies      
Great article. My personal take on this is that C programs are so damn reliable because there is nothing under the hood, the building blocks are so simple and transparent that you can follow the thread of execution with minimal mental overhead.

That means that when you lay out your program the most important parts (memory map and failure modes) are clearly visible.

IF you are a good programmer.

And that's the reason there is an obfuscated C contest, if a C programmer sets his or her mind on being deliberately hard to understand that same power can be used against any future reader of the code. Incompetence goes a long way towards explaining some of C's bad reputation. You can write bad code in any language, but none give you as much rope to hang yourself with as C (and of course, C++).

3
cperciva 17 hours ago 2 replies      
when one calls a function like stat in C, the documentation lists all the failure conditions

Actually, no. When the documentation says

    This function shall fail if:

[EFOO] Could not allocate a bar.

it doesn't mean that this is the only possible failure; POSIX states that functions "may generate additional errors unless explicitly disallowed for a particular function".

Except in very rare circumstances, when you make system or library calls you should be prepared to receive an E_NEW_ERROR_NEVER_SEEN_NOR_DOCUMENTED_BEFORE and handle it sanely (which in most cases will involve printing an error message and exiting).

4
stygianguest 18 hours ago 6 replies      
I would contend that C does very little in the way of preventing errors and debugging them if they occur. The claim that "[..] only two C-specific errors have thus far caused any real problem in the Converge VM," is completely beside the point. Language specific errors have never been the problem. Java's infamous null-pointer exceptions are not java specific: the C equivalent would be a segfault. And please do note, that Java prints a stack trace by default to help correct the mistake. A huge step forward from C's generic segfault.

The real reason that most C programs in daily use are so robust, is because they are ages old. Many, many man-years have been invested in the production of e.g. BSD, unix tools, POSIX libraries, and even web browsers and word processors.

Why do we use Javascript and even PHP to program web-applications? Because we need fewer lines to get the same result. Moreover, given the correlation between number of lines and number of bugs, shorter programs are better.
If we had been limited to C "web 2.0" would have been decades away.

5
rkangel 17 hours ago 0 replies      
My problem with this article is the use of the word 'flaw' to describe the potential pitfalls of programming in C.
Use of that word seems to imply that these things are accidental, and maybe if it had been better designed the problems wouldn't exist.

The original idea of the language (or at least a major part of it) was to be a portable alternative for the many processor specific assembly languages in use - rather than having to write the same functionality for each one, you could write it once in C and then compile it for each platform.
If that's your aim, then you will end up directly manipulating memory, and you open yourself up to that whole class of errors - memory leaks, array overruns, pointer arithmetic mistakes.
All C gives you is portable access to how processor hardware works, with a few conveniences (y'know - function calls).

If you want to protect against these problems you have to add some extra layers of abstraction between the language and the underlying hardware, and that comes at a cost. That cost is mostly performance, but thanks to Moore's law these days that is a much lower priority hence the abundant use of higher level languages - Java, Python etc.

My point is that C is how it is _on purpose_. This direct access to the hardware comes with some downsides, but they aren't 'flaws', they come hand in hand with the power.

6
jim_lawless 16 hours ago 1 reply      
> compilers were expensive (this being the days
> before free UNIX clones were readily available)

I'm not sure what era the author is referring to, here. In the late 80's, Turbo C broke the price barrier for a decent MS-DOS C compiler at the $79-$99 price range. Shortly after that, Mix began offering their MS-DOS Power C compiler for $20. Tom Swan's book "Type and Learn C++" provided a tiny-model version of Turbo C++ on a disk provided with the book.

The GNU ports djgpp and GCC were available for MS-DOS and Windows in later years.

> the culture was intimidatory;

I'm again wondering what time-period he's talking about. When I started learning C in the late 80's, most of the trade magazines were full of articles that used C as the primary language for whatever programs or techniques were being presented. Dr. Dobbs Journal was full of C code. Before Byte quit publishing source code, one could find a fair amount of C there. Of course, the specialty magazines like The C/C++ User's Journal and the C Gazette contained nothing but C and later C++ code.

> This is a huge difference in mind-set
> from exception based languages,

Yes. C is a language that was designed two decades before Java.

At first, I was really taken aback by the author's take on C, but as I tried to digest why he has these perceptions of the language, I ventured to guess that a number of developers who came of age when languages with more modern niceties were available probably also have this view of C. From the perspective of someone who has been able to use more modern languages, C must seem like a rickety bridge that could be dangerous to cross.

A number of points that Mr. Tratt makes, though, pertain to the programmer; not the language. Certainly there are library routines that allow for buffer overflows, like gets(). It's been known for quite a while ( since the Internet worm was unleashed in 1988? ) that fgets() should be favored so that buffer boundaries can be observed. Certainly people writing their own functions may not write them correctly, but this is a matter of becoming conversant with C. It's a matter of attaining the right experience.

7
aklein 14 hours ago 3 replies      
I've recently been curious why Ada isn't more popular in industry and academia beyond its niches in avionics and defense. Seems close in speed & memory usage to C/C++, has good GNU tools, and claims resiliance to the pitfalls of C.
8
derleth 16 hours ago 1 reply      
9
akkartik 11 hours ago 0 replies      
A week ago I would react differently to this article. But I just had my belief system overhauled by reading http://blog.vivekhaldar.com/post/10126017769/smeeds-law-for-....
10
jjr 15 hours ago 0 replies      
I have a gut feeling that there is some merit to the idea that exception handling isn't all that great. Just so much code out there does not really handle the exceptions, it just exit(1)s. C will teach you to check return values (usually easy enough: if (result==NULL) {fatalerror(1,"result not OK");}) . If you don't, the program will continue to run (derailed).
Most 'high-level' programmers will consider an abortion of execution just fine, while C programmers will put more thought into handling an error situation.
Few C programs will automatically abort with a core dump on the first occasion of 'record not found'.
11
charlesdm 16 hours ago 1 reply      
In the end it all boils down on what you're building. If you've done your fair share of programming (C, C++, Java, PHP, Python, Ruby) then you just go with the tools that are best for the job.

Would I write a complete web service in C? Probably not. Would I write a fast image manipulation/modification library for that specific website if needed in C (or C++)? Probably -- because I like the performance gain when I'm converting 10.000 images.

I love the fact that you can just build components in different languages and then glue them together so you can build awesome products.

12
ScottBurson 10 hours ago 0 replies      
C programs are reliable because either they're small, or, in the case of the few large reliable ones like the Linux kernel, they have undergone a tremendous number of eyeball-hours of review.
13
hackermom 17 hours ago 0 replies      
This kind of "FUD" surrounding C is definitely exaggerated. There's an awkward knee-jerk glow to the whole article, not least from the fact that the writer admits his inexperience in C. At times it even seems as if he lacks experience in programming, silently admitting his failure to comprehend the computer/software symbiosis altogether. After reading the article I played around with a funny exercise in my mind: I replaced the semantical mentions of C and programming with "tightrope walking", moving his arguments out of the computer programming sphere, and suddenly the general, ridiculous tone of the article stood out even more clear. Tightrope walking can be really, really tricky. Running with scissors can be done in a risky way, I suppose. Practicing pistol marksmanship incurs some risk, too.
14
gte910h 14 hours ago 0 replies      
I don't find C programs to be very reliable at all.

Heavily used ones are as reliable as other heavily used programs, but barely any C programmers even use clang (static analysis) or even the elderly lint and its more modern cousins.

This on top of half of people calling themselves C programmers are really C++ programmers (they really are quite different how you use them in the correct manner), I don't really think he's correctly summarizing the field at all.

edit: I have been a C programmer for most of my career, including embedded linux, cli linux (including research robotics), and C-Servers to communicate to the above

I'm not some guy who just knows python and bitches about "the hard compiled languages" (although I do like python and ruby and objective-C).

15
diolpah 14 hours ago 1 reply      
"pointers... arguably the trickiest concept in low-level languages, having no simple real-world analogy"

Arguably, indeed. The analogy is quite simple - a gigantic roulette wheel with 2^$membusbits slots, except the numbers are sequential. The ball is the pointer and pointer arithmetic involves moving the ball around the wheel.

16
swah 16 hours ago 2 replies      
I had posted this a few hours ago (http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=3024495) - I suppose the success of this one has something to do with the submitter? Or the time submitted...
17
cageface 17 hours ago 3 replies      
I don't see how any language that depends on manual handing of error return codes can ever be considered "reliable". It's far, far too easy to leak memory and other resources. As other posters have noted, the only reason a lot of popular C programs are reliable is that they've been groomed with a fine-toothed comb.

The only low-level language that has any innate claim to reliability is C++ with proper use of the RAII idiom.

18
jayfuerstenberg 5 hours ago 0 replies      
I wrote about some of this on my blog back in Feb. ( http://www.jayfuerstenberg.com/blog/hot-potato-thoughts-on-j... )
Java's exceptions cause Java applications to break often.
It's not something that Java engineers want to hear but it's true.
19
TelmoMenezes 18 hours ago 1 reply      
There could be some filtering going on, both on the type of programs one tends to write in C and the type of people that write C. It could be that problems for which C is chosen tend to be intrinsically more well defined (command line applications, kernels, libraries, etc). It could also be that C intimidates less talented programs so some self-selection could be happening.
20
sktrdie 16 hours ago 4 replies      
I don't understand the exception argument. You can choose which Exceptions to catch in languages such as Java, just as you would choose which error to deal with in C, but exceptions are so MUCH more powerful because they allow you to check for the error in user code rather than at each function call. In C, errors don't trickle down and you need to deal with them in each level of abstraction, which can be totally useless and time consuming.
21
snorkel 13 hours ago 0 replies      
C apps are reliable because C programmers embrace C's direct simplicity. Other languages aspire to be more complex by adding new features and syntax, where C remains stubbornly simple. Still dangerous, but still simple.
22
fbomb 17 hours ago 0 replies      
> if we're being brutally honest, only fairly competent programmers tend to use C in the first place.

Oh, if only that were true. I've seen some not-so competent programmers churn out lots of C code (and then move on to C++ in order to do some real damage)

23
dicroce 14 hours ago 0 replies      
C is beautiful because
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Duff%27s_device
is possible.
24
hack_edu 13 hours ago 0 replies      
"Error. Unhandled exception."
29
SSH Tricks tychoish.com
215 points by ahalan  4 days ago   59 comments top 18
1
ary 4 days ago 4 replies      
> /dev/null .known_hosts

This is not a good idea (and far from "awesome"). I get why he's doing it, but suggesting that weakening the security of a tool that is meant to enhance it is bad advice.

2
beagle3 4 days ago 2 replies      
The most magical command he didn't mention is 'ssh-copy-id'. If you can log-in to a host with password, you just 'ssh-copy-id myuser@thishost', supply the password once, and from that moment you can ssh with public key authentication. Extreme magic.

Also, sshfs works great, but has some issues with memory mapped files that silently lose writes. Luckily (?) most programs don't use mmap to write files, so it's not very noticeable.

All in all, ssh is one of the greatest tools.

3
JoshTriplett 4 days ago 2 replies      
Another handy trick: put this script on your path somewhere, and name it "ssh-argv0":

    #!/bin/sh
exec ssh "${0##*/}" "$@"

Then create symlinks to ssh-argv0 for common hostnames you ssh to, shortened using host aliases as suggested in the article. You now have a command for each host, which you can use as a prefix like sudo to run a single command on that host. For instance, "myth sudo reboot".

If you're used to using "ssh user@box foo", and not always for the same user (in which case you could use "User" in .ssh/config), you can do the same thing via "box -l user foo"

4
xtacy 4 days ago 1 reply      
The ssh escape sequence "~" (without quotes) comes in handy at times.

    "~ C" Gives you a ssh command prompt.
Press ? for help.

"~ ." Closes the ssh connection; useful for
unresponsive ssh connections!

5
dotBen 4 days ago 2 replies      
Ok, not techically part of SSH itself but I think SShuttle[1] is one of the most awesome SSH tricks around.

[1] https://github.com/apenwarr/sshuttle

6
jerrya 4 days ago 0 replies      
I hadn't known about sshfs - that sounds great and I'll have to look it up.

One of my favorite features is ssh forced commands, http://oreilly.com/catalog/sshtdg/chapter/ch08.html#22858 which I use on infrequently used remote servers to present menus of pre-defined commands to me or to others. And at other times, I can use it to kick off a daemon on a remote server just by ssh'ing to that remote server with the proper key.

It's a simple way to create a "compile server" and then use one command line from my preferred machine to tell the compile server to check a certain directory and compile everything within it.

Yeah, ssh is nice.

7
there 3 days ago 1 reply      
many shells can be setup to autocomplete a list of hosts parsed from ~/.ssh/known_hosts.

for tcsh, see http://www.opensource.apple.com/source/tcsh/tcsh-63.1/tcsh/c...

8
0x12 3 days ago 1 reply      
my personal favorite, a one liner to set up an email tunnel on a non-privileged port:

ssh -f username@mymailserver.com -L 2000:mymailserver.com:25 -N

9
jpdoctor 4 days ago 0 replies      
Anyone know how to ensure 8 bits worth of keyboard are passed? (Run emacs over ssh and you sometimes get stuck without the meta key working.)
10
RyanMcGreal 3 days ago 0 replies      
+1 for sshfs, which comes in handy for backing up my hard drive to an external machine.
11
koenigdavidmj 3 days ago 0 replies      
12
darrikmazey 3 days ago 0 replies      
Another trick I especially like is to use the command="" syntax inside of an authorized_keys file to allow a user to execute certain commands via ssh, especially handy for git-shell.
13
sneak 3 days ago 0 replies      
I'm not sure how this could omit "ssh -D".

Also, is it just me, or might his ssh-reagent bash function add keys to some other user's ssh agent process if they've sufficiently modified the permissions on their socket file in the temporary directory to allow you to write to it?

14
jvogt 3 days ago 0 replies      
I have a lot of machines I regularly connect to. Parsing the known_hosts file and adding to my shell's tab completion was a nice timesaver. Here's the line from my .bash_profile

complete -W "$(echo `cat ~/.ssh/known_hosts | cut -f 1 -d ' ' | sed -e s/,.*//g | uniq | grep -v "\["`;)" ssh

15
Spoutingshite 3 days ago 0 replies      
I use SuperPutty on my Windows PC to manage many putty sessions at a time...it is a little clunky, however it is better than having putty open 5 or 10 times.
16
gnu6 3 days ago 1 reply      
Nice use of /tmp, I hope you're the only one on your machine.
17
primo44 3 days ago 0 replies      
In case the article's author stops by:

- loose rhymes with "goose". The word is "lose".

18
zobzu 3 days ago 0 replies      
gpg-agent. ;-)
30
Guys buy island on Craigslist, use Kickstarter to turn it into artist community coldsplinters.com
209 points by whalesalad  1 day ago   49 comments top 13
1
krobertson 1 day ago 0 replies      
Holy crap, small world. My grandparents were from that area and several of them have cabins on Rabbit Bay (the land the island is 3 miles from). I used to go hiking around Rabbit Island as a kid.
2
citricsquid 1 day ago 1 reply      
About a year ago there was a reddit project* to purchase an island and have a reddit community on the island. Although the idea is crazy it's entirely achievable, I love the idea of internet communities inhabiting an island. It's wonderful to see this actually happening somewhere else, can't wait to see how it all turns out.

*fell apart because of poor management

3
klous 1 day ago 0 replies      
Getting to Rabbit Island is not a stroll across an inland lake in a little boat. Six miles of open, frigid water and sizable waves.
4
diziet 1 day ago 2 replies      
I wonder how much it cost them to buy the island, because if they're having trouble getting $14k together to build a lodge, it could not have been that much. I'd like to buy my own island!
5
yardie 17 hours ago 0 replies      
I hope the 4th boat works out better than the previous 3. And I hope 3 sunken boats isn't an indication of how this project is running.
6
bh42222 11 hours ago 0 replies      
The rabbit island artists community will have a lot of people who are very good at getting into special artist designated jewels like The Cloud Club ( http://dresdendolls.wikia.com/wiki/The_Cloud_Club ) and this island. But being good at that, implies nothing about their artistic ability.
7
wtn 1 day ago 0 replies      
I hope they have liability insurance.
8
javanix 14 hours ago 1 reply      
Am I the only person who can't find any hard information about the project on their website?

Everything seems to talk about the principles of the project - I can't even find a decent picture of the settlement's current state.

9
pasbesoin 1 day ago 0 replies      
That is nice country (if you like it quiet and you can make a living). And they're not even very far from Houghton/Hancock (which has the technical university).

I guess I'll have to enable Javascript for the flavors.me site (whatever that is) and have a closer look. Wonder what they paid...

10
mtgentry 1 day ago 2 replies      
This guy is a better human being than me. I would have used the island for the sole purpose of wooing ladies.
11
stevederico 1 day ago 1 reply      
Another michigander here, this would be the ultimate Airbnb rental.
12
zoobert 19 hours ago 0 replies      
excellent. Crazy americans I would say. This is a great idea. Hope it will be sucessful
13
angryasian 1 day ago 2 replies      
what a bunch of scumbags, bought a beautiful island and puts easement on it to keep it in native state, and now wants to develop it
       cached 23 September 2011 04:11:01 GMT