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I was once a Facebook fool numair.com
1292 points by numair  1 day ago   159 comments top 41
numair 1 day ago 8 replies      
Wow, well, this got way more attention than I wanted.

First, to be clear -- I have nothing against the guy who took Dave Morin's job (who wasn't supposed to be named -- Amazon CloudFront didn't bother to invalidate its cache when I uploaded the final edit of that paper). He played his cards right, came out hundreds of millions of dollars ahead, and then he got out. He's not in this to control your social life or anything, he just played the Silicon Valley game and got his.

The issue is really about the people who are trying to control your social life, and who are trying to convince the sort of people who read Hacker News to use them as a stable, reliable piece of infrastructure for your projects and businesses. My story is just one datapoint of so many -- most of which are private, but easily discoverable by quietly asking around the Valley -- that should help you realize that Facebook is definitely not the company you want operating the world's social infrastructure. The code might work, the pages might render, but on a deep social and ethical level, Facebook and its platform are not web-scale.

Also, the "sharecropper" and "beware of your platform" arguments don't apply here. Social infrastructure isn't like being a developer for the Playstation -- this is very basic and very global stuff, similar to water or power, and you shouldn't have to question its integrity. I shouldn't get dirty water, or my power shut off, because the CEO of the utility company allows his/her VPs to play God. There's a reason these guys don't call themselves a "social utility" anymore... But anyway, that's a whole 'nother subject, and I'd rather be coding (or socializing!) than writing.

And to all of the people who question why I would even publish something like this -- chill out bro, I'm just obeying Zuckerberg's Law! /disconnect

timr 1 day ago 1 reply      
It's not especially interesting that Facebook made a deal for a music app (and subsequently supported that deal over a competitor). This is business, not charity.

What's interesting to me is that iLike -- the success story of early platform days -- was being promoted heavily from within Facebook itself. If you read the press at that time, you'd have been excused for thinking that the Partovi brothers were the victims of a random lightning strike -- just two guys who got lucky with a tiny little app. I know that in Seattle, everyone was buzzing about how iLike was caught so "unaware" by their traction that they were borrowing servers from local companies just to keep up. Now it turns out that the "overnight success" was at least somewhat pre-ordained.

It's just another bit of practical evidence about the origins of business success in the Valley. Your rolodex matters a lot.

mosburger 1 day ago 1 reply      
I once worked for a startup that got screwed trying to build a Facebook music platform - promised the world, then the rug was pulled out from under us (by both the labels and FB, and our two major investors were the labels themselves... it was quite ridiculous). I think we were probably just a pawn used as leverage for their negotiations with other players.

Anyway, yeah, I have little doubt that this story is legit.

bravura 1 day ago 1 reply      
'Chamath had been previously known to me from my friends at Winamp as "the guy who fucked Winamp," (after Winamp had been sold to AOL) and seemed like a pretty lame dude.'

Does anyone know more about this back story?

TomOfTTB 1 day ago 5 replies      
I'm not saying the author is wrong here but I think he's unfair in attacking just Facebook.

The one thing I learned from my time in the valley is that EVERYONE is looking out for themselves. That isn't meant as negatively as it sounds. People go there to prove themselves. Either by making money or making their mark on the world (which is why people like Sean Parker stick around even after they've made money). But whatever the case they're in it to win at all costs.

That's why people work 18 hours a day and pour every cent they have into their startup.

But that's the relevant point. If people are going to give up everything in their lives to win you can't assume they'll then hinder their chances by looking out for your needs. In this story the author is upset because Facebook decided they had a better chance of winning by partnering with iLike. But could you really expect any company in the valley to act differently?

There are plenty of places in the world where the environment isn't as competitive and if that appeals to you then you should go there. But if you decide to start a company in the heart of the startup world you should expect everyone to be working towards their own goals and plan accordingly. That means NEVER relying on ANYBODY more than you have to and ALWAYS having a backup plan.

brown9-2 1 day ago 1 reply      
While Dave Morin worked quietly and bravely to defend me against the moves of iLike and Facebook executives to shut down Audio, he eventually found himself as a casualty in a greater power play quietly orchestrated by Sean Parker and Mark Zuckerberg, in which he was demoted and replaced by Chamath Palihapitiya.

Do the two guys that run the company really need to "orchestrate" a "power play" to promote one person over another? I think this sounds far more Machiavellian than it likely was.

zerostar07 1 day ago 2 replies      
As a facebook app developer i am aware of what shaky ground it is. I must attest the best days of the platform was when Morin was in charge, people were actually flocking to make apps and the platform was adding features. Ever since he left, feature pruning started, policies were not enforced, facebook changed their designs every month and the platform team inexplicably started reinventing the wheel. Then at some point facebook banned our AdSense revenue stream, and soon after they required 30% cut of our virtual goods.

We have now switched to an external website using facebook connect and are happy with it. I am thrilled that Google+ is building a competing platform.

kevingadd 1 day ago 2 replies      
Sobering to see a story in which the record labels are, in comparison, the good guys.
maratd 1 day ago 2 replies      
This is not endemic to Facebook. It applies to any platform. Apple, eBay, Amazon, etc.

When you build a business on their platform, you don't have a business. You have a product on their platform and it is their product. They are simply taking a hands-off approach and reaping the benefits. They can shut you down at any time and they will, when it suits their interests.

That is the key here. That conflict of interest. Most of the time, it isn't an issue ... but when it comes to the surface, you will be thrown under the bus.

Also, the customers you think you have ... they're not your customers. If you went to a different platform, those customers would not come along. The customers, they are their customers, not yours.

kwamenum86 1 day ago 3 replies      
Interesting article and definitely a good read. But I find it interesting that it has broken the top 20 most upvoted articles of all time on HN and is threatening the top 10. This probably has to do with f8 and whatever amount of "upvote inflation" that may be taking place as a result of more users being on HN (6 of the top 10 all-time most upvoted links are from this year. Only one in the top 20 comes before 2010). Timing is everything I guess.

1 1638 Steve Jobs Resigns as CEO of Apple [2011-08-24]

2 1324 Boot a linux kernel right inside your browser. [2011-05-17]

3 1262 Introducing Word Lens [2010-12-17]

4 1232 Today you, tomorrow me [2010-12-14]

5 1196 Google Buys Motorola For $12.5 Billion [2011-08-15]

6 1129 A new approach to China [2010-01-12]

7 1100 Ooops. [2011-06-16]

8 1083 So A Blogger Walks Into A Bar… [2010-09-21]

9 1004 Airbnb Nightmare: No End In Sight [2011-07-29]

10 994 Twitter Bootstrap [2011-08-19]

11 940 Thoughts on Flash [2010-04-29]

12 929 Violated: A traveler's lost faith, a difficult lesson learned [2011-07-27]

13 906 Chosen: A javascript plug-in that makes long select boxes user-friendly. [2011-07-22]

14 859 I was once a Facebook fool [2011-09-23]

15 856 Osama bin Laden Is Dead [2011-05-02]

16 850 I don't learn anything on HN anymore, bring back the upvote count [2011-04-28]

17 832 How I Hacked Hacker News (with arc security advisory) [2009-06-03]

18 827 Bored People Quit [2011-07-12]

19 822 33GB of public domain JSTOR articles, and a manifesto [2011-07-21]

20 808 A lesson on the importance of encouraging your children with their projects [2011-07-13]

elliottcarlson 1 day ago 2 replies      
"If you are entrusting your life data to Facebook, or if you are depending on Facebook and its platform for your livelihood, beware."

I think you should always be careful when you are entrusting any third party with your livelihood. You can only plan so much, but when your business plan requires that one crucial system and you have no way to even have a contingency plan, then you have to realize that it could easily be a make or break deal at any point in time.

spinchange 1 day ago 1 reply      
I recall Chamath Palihapitiya also figured somewhat prominently in the Beacon saga. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Facebook_Beacon#Privacy_concern...

Edit: I see the FA has been edited, now referring to him as "AOL Guy"

sid6376 1 day ago 1 reply      
A google search about numair faraz turned up this article http://www.engadget.com/2008/03/26/motorola-insider-tells-al... . An interesting read mainly because it was brave.
yakto 1 day ago 0 replies      
Not the first interesting tell-all by Numair: http://public.numair.com/2006_parker.html
jakemcgraw 1 day ago 0 replies      
See Gruber[1] on being a middle man. If your business is reselling someone else's content on someone else's platform, you're going to get fucked right quick.

[1]: http://daringfireball.net/2011/03/dirty_percent

dendory 1 day ago 0 replies      
This is not new, there are tons of tales online of Facebook cutting off apps because they were working on a competitive product. Just this summer a ton of photo apps got their access removed with no explanation, only to find out that Facebook was revamping their galleries.
rblion 5 hours ago 0 replies      
"If you are entrusting your life data to Facebook, or if you are depending on Facebook and its platform for your livelihood, beware. In the real Facebook world, there is no trust, and there is no friendship -- there is only money and power. Think really hard -- really, think -- before trusting Facebook or its employees with anything. Don't be a Facebook fool."

You have perfectly worded what I have felt. I've watched Facebook evolve into Big Brother over the past few years. People seem to have no idea that they don't see us as beings but as bytes.

sunchild 1 day ago 0 replies      
"I was sitting in Jimmy Iovine's office; Jimmy personally called the GC of Universal"

That's worth the price of admission alone. Sounds like fun!

snorkel 1 day ago 0 replies      
tl;dr: Facebook offerings are skewed by corporate politics and whoever can score a better partner deal.

No surprises here. Large companies are heavily staffed by biz dev people whose job it is to make partnership deals. The key essential ingredient in all partnership deals, the brass ring, is "exclusivity" without which there often is no deal to speak of. This particular individual unfortunately was not awarded exclusivity.

tuhin 15 hours ago 0 replies      
I did not realize until this point that it was this very Numair who wrote this brilliant answer on Quora http://www.quora.com/Why-is-it-so-difficult-to-build-a-music...
shasta 1 day ago 0 replies      
I've never seen or heard Sean Parker speak, so this really just reinforces to me that Justin Timberlake is a douchebag.
blrs 1 day ago 0 replies      
Here's a prediction:
Since facebook "senior executives" are so fond of central planning, i.e., personally picking winners and losers for kickbacks, instead of creating a level playing field and letting the users pick the best services, its very likely that facebook will suffer the same fate as other centrally planned entities...viz., run into the calculation problem (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Economic_calculation_problem). They'll make one big miscalculation that will be the end of it. The most obvious miscalculation is mismanaging security, letting in a potent virus that takes down all or enough of facebook's servers.
rmc 1 day ago 1 reply      
It seems like doing any sort of business around the Music Industry is a massive pain in the head, and liable to get you sued/shut down easily.
veyron 1 day ago 1 reply      
Every time i read something like this, I think about the fred wilson quote about being someone's bitch. Anyone have that direct link?
gavanwoolery 1 day ago 0 replies      
I definitely sympathize with the story - that just flat out sucks...
Making a "feature" product is always a bad idea, IMHO, for reasons even beyond the ones the author points out. You should never build a feature for a product, if history is not a lesson on its own - very few of them make a successful exit. At any point, the company might decide they can do it better than you or it would be cheaper to build the feature than acquire you - or, most importantly, your hacks and external servers might not mesh well with their vision of an integrated platform.
ryandawidjan 1 day ago 0 replies      
Numair also has a very interesting read of a homepage. http://numair.com/

"Live your life as though it is the world's best-kept secret, as though you are living in an amazing TV show with an audience of one."

paulballen 1 day ago 0 replies      
My own Facebook developer story...going from 21MM MAU to less than 500k. In our case, we were booted off of key pages (profile pages) and replaced by Facebook's own functionality.


I do think Platforms, in the long run, if they want to win, need to treat developers fairly and honestly, as much as possible. Like other developers, I'm glad to see other social and mobile platforms to build for.

briandear 1 day ago 0 replies      
So, is getting "Zuckerberged" now a legitimate synonym for getting screwed?
properez 1 day ago 0 replies      
I agree with, But it also means that in this industry you have to have a backup plan of some sort. He knew the character of Sean Parker and his antics. The man is a player and always will be.The industry is a relentless field of battle. Doesn't excuse leading someone on though.

i know to well of having a business partner lead me on while he worked other projects.

But i dont think Facebook as a company should take all the blame for that one person.

kanwisher 1 day ago 1 reply      
Seems strange that Chamath was 'evil' wanting to get his friend's business in as the music app for facebook, but it was totally fine when the author was getting his friend in? Seems like a double standard
wccrawford 1 day ago 2 replies      
Aren't there laws against things like this?
grey666 13 hours ago 0 replies      
Facebook, the world's easiest site to hack, is on the front page 3 times yet again today. But the links are not about hacking, they are about how great Facebook is.

I submit to you that this is not hacker news, but rather victim news.com.

Good luck fuckers.

carnivore 13 hours ago 0 replies      
I was once a Facebook fool, now I'm just a Facebook tool.
grey666 13 hours ago 0 replies      
Facebook was designed to provide corporate America with your email addresses. There are over 400 known hacks. Every-time you click on a link to Facebook - it's moron+1.
One_adm12 1 day ago 0 replies      
This is a great insight, thanks for sharing!
tresjuh 1 day ago 1 reply      
Why is Facebook special? Twitter supported bit.ly and Google supports Google Reader. They all act the same.
itswindy 1 day ago 0 replies      
Nasty business so watch your back
vvpan 1 day ago 0 replies      
Too much DRAMA.
brain5ide 1 day ago 0 replies      
Could have happened at any other big company. No biggie. "Facebook" here is just headline making.
I don't deny it being u-g-l-y and bad, just that it's not a Facebook issue.
Bring a stick man to life. drawastickman.com
838 points by kgthegreat  2 days ago   64 comments top 30
danilocampos 2 days ago 1 reply      
I tapped this link on my iPad, dunno why. I get there and see a loading screen, and assume it's some placeholder waiting for Flash that's never going to load.

Just as I'm about to tap the back button... Boom.

What a delightful surprise. Perhaps the tide really is turning.

neovive 2 days ago 1 reply      
It's a shame that few people mention the book that seemed to inspire this genre: "Harold and the Purple Crayon" (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harold_and_the_Purple_Crayon) -- originally published in 1955. It's still a classic in my mind. Max & the Magic Marker and Crayon Physics are also excellent.
gojomo 2 days ago 3 replies      
People who like this will probably also like the game 'Max & the Magic Marker' " a side-scrolling platformer where reified stick-drawings are your main tool.


I played it on the iPad, for which the game seems perfectly matched, but it's available on Mac/Windows/iPhone as well.

scottkrager 2 days ago 2 replies      
That was highly entertaining.

I think the best part was that I really had no clue what was coming next.

I wish some of the animations moved a bit quicker though. Other than that....bravo.

latch 2 days ago 1 reply      
Wonder how much effort/time it takes. Seems like a huge potential for something like this geared towards children..especially on iPads.
ender7 2 days ago 0 replies      
This is really awesome.

Reminds me of a game a friend and I back in college for stylus tablets that was essentially Pokemon, but where you had to draw your Pokemon before you could battle with them. This was for a class in pen stroke recognition, so we spent all our time inferring the "skeletons" and "body features" of your Pokemon, and never actually made it to the "game" part. It was cool, though! Once you had the skeleton, you could animate the monsters in fairly cool ways (to simulate attacks, dodging, etc.). You could also infer the "stats" of the monster based on how fat its limbs were, how much armor it had vs. how many spiky bits, etc.

Might be a cool project for someone, now that this kind of thing is possible on the web (and now that touch interfaces are ubiquitous).

krmmalik 2 days ago 2 replies      
I love stuff like this. Im hearing the raphaelJS name a lot so it's nice to see what can be done with it. I just assumed the library was for drawing charts? But I guess it's more for vectors.

Anyway - what I'm really looking forward to is realtime multiplayer / multiuser versions of all these great demos. Just think of the viral/network effect. I'm sure it's all quite possible now that we have node.js?

5hoom 2 days ago 3 replies      
This is really impressive.

Does anyone here know what was used to produce this? I'm guessing HTML5 canvas trickery, but I'm not a web-dev so I'm really curious if that's the case.

However it was made, this is one of the best web-demos I've seen in a long time. Thanks for sharing!

Zaronian 2 days ago 0 replies      
Creative and very entertaining. Definitely a good way to break up work for 10 minutes.

@latch - i think you're right about the kids angle. Having a truly interactive story like this would be awesome for kids!

ExceptionRaiser 2 days ago 1 reply      
Love it! For web-based animation, does anyone know how Raphael.js differs from processing.js? Why would I choose one over the other? Trying to differentiate the two.
Vivtek 2 days ago 0 replies      
Drawing a really little key breaks it.

Drawing just a circle for the stickman is very funny. Drawing a vertical line for the stickman breaks it.

wavephorm 2 days ago 0 replies      
That was wonderfully fun and indeed creative.
madiator 2 days ago 2 replies      
Is this the only post on HN that is above 600 points? http://news.ycombinator.com/over?points=600. The next highest is like 558 which was posted a month ago..
earbitscom 2 days ago 1 reply      
I would really like to be able to share my stickmen.
pat2man 2 days ago 0 replies      
I wish there was more of this on the Internet.
SurfScore 2 days ago 1 reply      
I wonder how many peoples keys ended up looking like penises...
abhishekdelta 2 days ago 0 replies      
Really awesome. I wonder the complexity of the algorithm used behind it to identify the objects. It works fine, except when the length of the legs are too small or the angle between them is too wide, it walks like a retarded. But that's fine. Really awesome work!
Omnipresent 2 days ago 0 replies      
Loved it. You should let the player move the stickman as well
JeffHutton 2 days ago 0 replies      
Reminds me of Winky Dink and You (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Winky_Dink_and_You).
xedarius 2 days ago 1 reply      
Outstanding! I've been thinking about doing some HTML5/Javascript stuff for a while. What kind of dev environment do you guys use? I was thinking of Eclipse ...
rnernento 2 days ago 0 replies      
Awesome work, very fun and well made. This is the kind of content that really shines on the web.
golgo13 2 days ago 0 replies      
Sword of Omens and Lakitu saved my life!
dudurocha 2 days ago 0 replies      
Very nice. Made me smile. Me and a pal, both in early twenties were arguing for the best stickman.
sailfast 2 days ago 0 replies      
Amazing work that made me smile, especially when I looked at the source!
derwildemomo 2 days ago 0 replies      
Made me smile, thanks for sharing.
sygeek 2 days ago 0 replies      
Doesn't work for me, the site takes eternity to load.
tonyg 2 days ago 0 replies      
"Be... sure.... to drink.... your Ovaltine?"
vladsanchez 2 days ago 0 replies      
Fcking brilliant! Never seen it.
zavulon 2 days ago 0 replies      
This is great! I drew penises each time and it made it 10 times as good
lulzzz54 2 days ago 7 replies      
This is what happens when one guy practices art every day for nine years conceptart.org
558 points by sadiq  1 day ago   87 comments top 27
markerdmann 1 day ago 4 replies      
The site seems to be under a lot of load. In case anyone (like me) is having trouble viewing the images, I wrote a quick script to scrape the images:


The naming format is "page_X_image_X.jpg".


Here's a video slideshow of the images:


texel 23 hours ago 0 replies      
This is fascinating. I think a really interesting project for someone (other than me) would be to collect each image, and have a whole bunch of people rate each one on a subjective scale from, let's say, 1 to 100. Then, draw a scatter plot of the ratings against time. I wonder what curves might show up? I also wonder whether there are any other datasets that might be used to determine if there's any common thread between learning processes like this.
mortenjorck 5 hours ago 0 replies      
This is basically how I learned one of my great loves, composing music.

Ten years ago, I was goofing around with an old copy of Cakewalk and clumsily aping elements of cinematic soundtracks in General Midi with a keyboard at my parents' house. I just kept at it, though, observing how the pieces worked together in music I liked, developing an ear for harmony, composing lots of throwaway stuff and a few occasional good ones. Over the years, I acquired a bit of synth hardware, took a tiny bit of music in college, later moved from hardware to soft synths, picked up bits of music theory and sound engineering, and never stopped making things (at least for long). I still don't consider myself a master by any means, but I enjoy what I compose. Perhaps most importantly, it's a creative process I find incredibly rewarding, even if I'm not scoring any indie games or films.

larve 1 day ago 1 reply      
I've started something similar 1.5 years ago, but with drawing, as painting is not really my thing (maybe it will). It is kind of my concept that to learn any skill/art/job/whatever, you have to want it really really hard, copy/copy/copy/copy the masters, and not judge yourself at all while doing it. I think that's one of the big reasons that kids learn so fast, they want it, they have no apprehension whatsoever about what they are doing, and very importantly too, nobody tells them anything about the quality of the stuff they do, while with adults it's all to easy to get nervous about not being good, or being too good, or whatever.

I didn't capture my output all to regularly, but I filled about 18 notebooks (that's about 3000-4000 pages) + a shitload of drawings. Because I never keep anything I produce, it's hard to measure, but I think I did an additional 500 drawings on different media. My very early stuff is at: http://flipflipflop.tumblr.com/archive/2010/5 , in fact the very first picture I drew when I set out to do this. Please note that a lot of stuff that looks "good" is copied from somewhere on the internet.

I joined a local figure drawing class, but that's about all the "formal" training I got. I read about 80 books from the library though, got a lot from the internet, followed a lot of lectures from TAD, etc...

Here is stuff that I do currently: http://larvecode.tumblr.com/

The journey is super cool, and my ideas kind of seem to come together as well.

Corrado 1 day ago 0 replies      
Check out his website[1] for quicker loading examples of his more recent work.


artursapek 1 day ago 1 reply      
Very impressive stuff. His work is reminiscent of some of the best stuff I see in my charcoal classes at RISD.

A very important thing worth noting is he switched from mostly digital art to completely traditional; there is just no matching with a tablet/mouse what one can do with real materials.

jaredsohn 1 day ago 2 replies      
Interestingly, he's pretty close to (but still under) the ten year mark for getting mastery that Peter Norvig wrote about in an essay about mastering programming. (http://norvig.com/21-days.html).

(This was before the rule changed to 10,000 hours.) It could be interesting for someone more knowledgable about art to indicate at what point he hit 'mastery' (assuming that has already happened) and to then estimate how many hours it took him to get there.

nzjames 1 day ago 1 reply      
This reminds me a lot of Penny Arcade, I started reading it 10 years ago for the video game commentary but I've really enjoyed watching the quality of the writing and comics improve to such a world class level over time.
forkrulassail 20 hours ago 1 reply      
"Nothing in this world can take the place of Persistence.
Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent.
Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb.
Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts.

Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.

The slogan 'Press On" has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race. ~ C Coolidge

jnorthrop 15 hours ago 3 replies      
Its great to see this person's progression! He is obviously very talented and has a real gift.

I went through a similar progression as a child. My mother worked as an art teacher at the local YMCA while I was growing up. After school each day I would take the bus to the Y and sit in on her art classes. I became a pretty proficient artist -- technically speaking anyway -- but I never really developed into what I would call a creative artist.

I just didn't have that "gift." My brother did (and does) however. The lesson I learned is that anyone can learn to draw and be able to reproduce what they see fairly well (it is really just techniques) but to actually create takes something beyond technical skills. You have to have a vision and courage to express it. MindCandyMan has it.

melling 23 hours ago 5 replies      
He mentioned getting a Wacom Intuos tablet. I've been considering getting one, or maybe this new device:


This video turned me on to the Wacom:


He discusses tablets at about the 2m mark.

jgmmo 1 day ago 2 replies      
Pretty impressive. Just keeps pounding the 10,000 hrs rule into my head. I need to make a program a day for 9 years.
mason55 1 day ago 0 replies      
So inspiring... and... I want to cry when I look at what I've done with the last nine years. Tagged with "inspiration" in delicious
morrow 18 hours ago 0 replies      
For those who keep mentioning the 10,000 hour rule, I wonder if anyone has heard of any tools for tracking this number? As in, a tool for logging hours spent practicing different subject areas with the specific goal of reaching 10,000 hours. I wonder, too, if you could quantify smaller subsets of the 10,000 to provide more immediate feedback and goals along the way.
parallel 16 hours ago 0 replies      
The lesson I'm taking from this is be ok with slow progress and early failures. The trap I fall into is being discouraged too easily and giving up. What this guy has done is the opposite. He just kept going and got good.
pheaduch 21 hours ago 0 replies      
There are internal and external roadblocks when trying to learn a new skill as an adult and sadly both become reinforcing. Externally I think there's a lot of cynicism from other people wondering why you are bothering trying to learn something new as an adult. They doubt that you can do it for various reasons including the favorite that you're too old to learn and that you must have started when you were five because the brain is so ripe.

But I always thought that belief was illogical, especially if you believe learning itself is an actual skill. If learning is a skill as much as say drawing, then you should only become better at trying new things as you get older.

john2x 23 hours ago 0 replies      
I've been looking for that thread for a long time. I remember seeing it a few years ago when I was getting into drawing myself. But I sort of got lost along the way. Ended up spending more time on coding than drawing. I guess one can only focus on so much. But it's still definitely something I want to get into.
zmanji 1 day ago 1 reply      
I found the detail on this face: http://www.conceptart.org/forums/showpost.php?p=2660638&... to be really good. If you go to later posts you can see how the painting evolves.
JL2010 21 hours ago 0 replies      
Wow, now that I think about it, I haven't committed 9 years to anything remotely productive yet.

Coming on 5 years with electronics, programming, and guitar/music (started all of these in college!). The electronics and programming are part of my job(s) but I'm at least happy to be pursuing music purely out of my own interest and doing it nearly every day. Would be interesting to see how I've progressed in these fields in another 4 years or so...

georgieporgie 23 hours ago 0 replies      
Absolutely fascinating, and inspiring me to get out the sketch pad I've had laying around for years...
fgsgdsfg 1 day ago 2 replies      
Can someone convert this into a readable format?

The image hosting appears to be spotty, it's on a message board, it's paginated, the dates are unclear, there are now hundreds of comments congratulating the guy, etc. etc. etc.

baddox 1 day ago 1 reply      
His initial drawing are much, much better than anything I could currently muster.
pycassa 1 day ago 2 replies      
someone should do the same with programming
tianshuo 16 hours ago 0 replies      
Definitely Inspiring!!
anonInd 1 day ago 0 replies      
This is exactly why i come to HN for. Stay classy HN
absconditus 1 day ago 6 replies      
How is this relevant to HN?
bootload 21 hours ago 1 reply      

I had to look that up. Turns out it's French for "artist workshop". [0] Why not just use the plain English equivalent? But that's not what was interesting. Digging around I noticed http://www.classicalartonline.com Did everyone miss this?

Making a dollar in art is difficult. It's so difficult that markets exist to make art to order, to solve some problem. Usually selling a product. Advertising. This really isn't art but design. Fine art doesn't solve any problem other than the artists own. As a result, fine art can be an acquired taste and difficult to sell. So how would you go about making a business online with fine art? That was an idea pg had and became "The Artix Phase" [1] before Viaweb. Art galleries online. At the time the idea didn't work.

That's what makes "classical art online" interesting. Learning art online would be difficult though. A lot of the learning happens as a tutor looks over your shoulder, sees the result & makes suggestions in technique, subject and a multitude of other related tasks that make up the craft. The learning happens in the dynamic of pupil, tutor. It's personal and I don't know how you make this process scale without a tutors presence.

[0] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atelier

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

A First Look at BankSimple banksimple.com
464 points by ahhrrr  3 days ago   189 comments top 33
jasonkester 3 days 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.

ThomPete 3 days 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.

blhack 3 days 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"


"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.

giberson 3 days 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]

maxklein 3 days 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.

sschueller 3 days 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.

typicalrunt 3 days 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.

dreamdu5t 3 days 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.

haberman 3 days 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.

sambeau 3 days 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:


and here


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)

jimmar 3 days 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.
simplify 3 days 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?

mdoerneman 3 days 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.
janesvilleseo 3 days 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.

joez 3 days 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.
durga 3 days 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,


>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).

true_religion 3 days 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.

Griever 3 days 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.

Cherian_Abraham 3 days 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.

jwb119 3 days 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.
dprice1 3 days 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.

nathanwdavis 3 days 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.

mrbill 3 days 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
yoshyosh 3 days 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! :)

avelis 2 days ago 0 replies      

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.

Hisoka 3 days 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.
wccrawford 3 days ago 1 reply      
Wake me up when they have the deposit-from-phone working on Android phones.
braindead_in 3 days 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.
swah 3 days ago 0 replies      
Shouldn't the Safe To Spend have changed when you scheduled 20 buck a payment to adam?
slowpoison 3 days 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.
evlapix 3 days 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.
sevenproxies 3 days ago 1 reply      
I imagine this is a US only Bank?
mkramlich 3 days ago 0 replies      
My two words of advice to BankSimple (well, two acronyms):


Very cool, but very creepy, open source project notcot.org
446 points by monochromatic  3 days ago   75 comments top 24
keane 3 days 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

apu 3 days ago 0 replies      
For face replacement in video, the state-of-the-art is this upcoming SIGGRAPH Asia 2011 work:



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).

pavel_lishin 3 days 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.

ericgearhart 3 days 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."


mcantor 3 days 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.
chaostheory 3 days ago 0 replies      
Here's where his broken link meant to go: http://methodart.blogspot.com/2011/07/fast-image-cloning-lib...
andrewpi 3 days ago 0 replies      
Reminds me somewhat of the scramble suit from A Scanner Darkly!
Geee 3 days 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.
cypherpunks01 3 days 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?

AdamTReineke 3 days 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.
apitaru 3 days 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
rhizome 3 days 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.
protagonist_h 3 days 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."
swah 3 days 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++. :)
jewel 3 days 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.
tnc 3 days ago 0 replies      
cfontes 3 days 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.

croddin 3 days ago 1 reply      
If it is open source, where is the code? I am only seeing links to libraries it uses.
Aqwis 3 days 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.
atomicdog 1 day ago 0 replies      
Online dating just got a whole lot riskier...
zerostar07 2 days ago 0 replies      
This will be perfect for plastic surgeon and hairdressing applications. Also to try out a new smirk before actually growing it.
swah 3 days ago 0 replies      
This would be much better than face pixelation on Google street view.
dadads 3 days ago 0 replies      
I approve of this!
chintan 3 days ago 0 replies      
How Github uses Github to build Github zachholman.com
372 points by brown9-2  3 days ago   66 comments top 15
socratic 2 days ago 7 replies      
Every time I read one of these (Github, Etsy, ...), I feel a bit guilty that our tiny startup doesn't do continuous integration/deployment. I mean, we git push to Heroku to deploy (maybe once a week), but there is no automated push once the tests pass. It seems like this is a big psychological leap (deploy every week vs deploy every hour).

When does setting up something like Jenkins CI become worth it? When you have 2 people? 10 people? 100 people?

Is there tons of custom code to set it all up with Github or whatever deployment scripts exist? What CI systems are dominant? (I'm mostly curious about Ruby-centric ones, but don't really want to bias responses.)

icandoitbetter 3 days ago 3 replies      
Zach, what software did you use to make those slides? They are beautiful. Thanks.
phillco 2 days ago 2 replies      
I like the idea of teaching a chat bot to run various commands for you. Not only is it faster (one place to go), it probably makes it easier to teach new people the ropes. ("How do we do x?" "Tell Hubot to do it.")
markbao 3 days ago 1 reply      
This is an awesome talk.
patrickod 2 days ago 1 reply      
Some great nuggets of wisdom from what is obviously a very high-throughput and productive team. Zach always has something very interesting to say. The beautiful slides are a nice plus as well. What are you using to make them Zach ?
kellysutton 3 days ago 0 replies      
GitHub is a great Strange Loop. Probably why it's so good.
Yhippa 2 days ago 1 reply      
I love it when companies eat their dogfood and make it work while having the employees not hate it at the same time. That says a lot about your product.
phzbOx 3 days ago 0 replies      
The slides were very well done. Here's another set not-that-much-related that I found: http://speakerdeck.com/u/pengwynn/p/accelerating-titanium-de....
there 2 days ago 0 replies      
was "don't reinvent the wheel your authentication can be free" intentional?
rbreve 2 days ago 1 reply      
Loving that typeface
sthulbourn 2 days ago 1 reply      
I really love GitHub's way of working. I think this is the future of working in a team.
p_ch 2 days ago 0 replies      
"internal twitter"? What's that?
cheez 3 days ago 0 replies      
This is amazing.
arriu 2 days ago 3 replies      
Also, CMake uses CMake to create its project files. Any others?
mhartl 1 day ago 0 replies      

This is one of the most commonly misspelled company names in hackerland, right up there with the various mutations of "37signals". Details like this are worth getting right.

GitHub Hits 1,000,000 users github.com
368 points by bkbleikamp  3 days ago   76 comments top 17
xorglorb 3 days ago  replies      
They provide a great service, and I use them all the time, but I don't like how their pricing scheme works for freelancers. You end up with a million small private repositories, and BitBucket has much more reasonable options.
guelo 3 days ago 5 replies      
Wow, that number almost doesn't seem believable. A million people must be a good chunk of all programmers in the world. This Wikipedia article[1] says there are 612,000 programmers in the US and 522,000 in India. Admittedly old incomplete data but it's easy to see how a million people might be 10-20% of all programmers worldwide. In corporate drone offices I've been in my guess is maybe 10% of programmers have even heard of git.

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Software_engineering_demographi...

frisco 3 days ago 2 replies      
How are they measuring users here? Is this all-time-registrations? Or "actives"? Because if this is registrations, I thought they were a lot bigger already. Regardless, awesome!
zoul 2 days ago 0 replies      
I love GitHub and when our company recently migrated its code to Git, we were much interested in hosting the code on GitHub. I was surprised that they have a repository size limit, or more precisely I was surprised by how low the limit is. They have no hard quota, but they "don't recommend repository size over 1GB". Plans don't make a difference.

We're a small four-people workshop, but our repos are easily several gigabytes in size because of the artworks, source photos and similar stuff. We would probably have squeezed under their limit, but did not want to live under the constant threat of growing out of it.

So, I love GitHub, will continue using it for my public stuff, but I am surprised you can't easily host 10-15 GBs of private code even though you're willing to pay $50 a month for it.

pestaa 3 days ago 0 replies      
I'm very happy for their success, I really see GitHub as one of the most rapidly evolving services; my only wish is for BitBucket to receive the same care.
dasil003 2 days ago 0 replies      
This made me curious what my user number was. You can see it on your Account page source:


Unfortunately I couldn't figure out a way to explore user numbers like going to /users/5603 for example. That is actually the route for DELETEing your account, but it doesn't have a GET redirect or anything.

bprater 3 days ago 0 replies      
Well deserved. The team has consistently brought the kinds of functionality we need as developers since they launched the service. Kudos guys!
derwiki 3 days ago 0 replies      
".. and as a gift to you all, we'll be building side by side diffs!"

(j/k -- congrats to the Github team, you can pry my account from my cold dead hands)

bambax 3 days ago 1 reply      
When was this reached? I setup an account a few hours ago and have to wonder if I am the millionth user?? ;-)
bad_user 2 days ago 0 replies      
GitHub is basically the Facebook of software developers and I think it is eating LinkedIn's launch.
thomasfl 2 days ago 0 replies      
If you don't like GitHubs pricing model, just download and install Gitorious on your own server. It's open source.
thedjpetersen 3 days ago 0 replies      
Good work GitHub team! Using github as part of my workflow has greatly helped my efficiency. Their interface makes reviewing code and making comments much easier.
prudhvis 3 days ago 0 replies      
Github is the best place for Social Coding. Can't tell you how easy it is to manage a Repository being a Release Engineer with Github.
frabcus 2 days ago 0 replies      
If anyone's interested in their growth curve, this scraper of their search engine using date ranges gives you figures for their number of users every month since they started. https://scraperwiki.com/scrapers/github_users_each_year/
karlzt 3 days ago 0 replies      
such a coincidence that this happens the day I created a Bitbucket account :)
bitops 3 days ago 0 replies      
Well done GitHub! Keep up the good work.
jcborro 2 days ago 0 replies      
How many users does the biggest public SVN repo have?
Dave Winer on Why You Should Log Out of Facebook scripting.com
366 points by moses1400  12 hours ago   188 comments top 36
orijing 11 hours ago  replies      
I am a software engineer at Facebook. Bear with me because I don't have any PR-quality answer to give you. I am not on the platform team, but I have built apps before in the wild-west days.

The app requires explicit permission from the user in order to post activities automatically. The idea, if you watched Mark's presentation, is called "frictionless sharing." A lot of people don't share because it's another step, but if they could install an app like the Washington Post Reader (a great app--even Mark has it installed), they are happy with sharing articles they've read with their friends.

I understand you might be concerned, for example if you added that app without realizing that it will post content. If you are concerned about the privacy implications, you can always change individual permissions for an app by going to your account settings, then selecting the 'app' tab on the left, or by going to https://www.facebook.com/settings?tab=applications. If you are concerned about spamming your friends' news feeds, that's why we built ticker, for the light-weight activities like "watched a movie" or "listened to a song" or "read an article".

If I remember correctly, the exact wording of the app permission request was alarming enough to get my full attention ("I, the application, can post as you" or something like that), so I'm worried less about a user missing that part. In my known experiences, the app was installed with the knowledge that it will share your experiences--because the idea is you want to share your activities with your friends. As soon as I read an article, my first action is to either send the link to specific people who are interested, or post it on my wall if I think everyone is interested.

We operate under the assumption that users will not do what they don't want to do, as long as we make it explicit what might happen. And if they make a mistake, they can always go change their settings. So I'm not so worried about users who sign up for the Washington Post Reader app, which is marketed as a social reading experiment, and subsequently complain that it shares your read articles.

You might still be concerned, in which case, please let me know why (users being misinformed?), and I'll try to pass it onto the platform folks, who were really heads-down the past few months.

Terretta 11 hours ago 7 replies      
I recommend Ghostery: http://www.ghostery.com/


Ghostery is your window into the invisible web " tags, web bugs, pixels and beacons that are included on web pages in order to get an idea of your online behavior.

Ghostery tracks the trackers and gives you a roll-call of the ad networks, behavioral data providers, web publishers, and other companies interested in your activity.

Choose to block - or not. You get control at a company level - are there some marketers you trust, but others you'd rather turn away? Ghostery lets you open the valve of your web behavior as wide or as narrow as you'd prefer.

badclient 12 hours ago 6 replies      
I recently decided to RSVP for a meetup on meetup.com. It was a meetup I don't, in fact, want most folks I know to know about. I made sure to use my junk email account that doesn't have my name tied to it.

So I was scared shitless when after RSVP'ing I see faces of all my facebook friends and an offer to invite them. I always thought you had to do the whole facebook connect crap before websites could just splash your fb friends list at you? Then I thought about all the billion different ways facebook has to integrate them into your site and figured this must be one of the ways.

patangay 11 hours ago 4 replies      
I'm an engineer at facebook. I want to clear up a few things that you guys are talking about.

For starters, it's true that a visit to a news story or watching a video will trigger a feed story. The point that most people seem to be missing is that this requires you to knowingly allow a social application. For example, in my case, I installed the social plugin for rdio (rdio.com). When I listen to a song on rdio, it publishes it to my friends ticker feeds. (Ticker is the bar on the side where likes, listens, reads, etc go). There are a couple websites that are doing read social browsing, for example the Washington Post's social reader (https://apps.facebook.com/wpsocialreader/). Again, just by visiting this page you will not trigger anything unless you have already allowed the application access.

In the past I've setup my music player on the laptop to publish the songs I'd been listening to, to my IM client (as away messages) - Adium let's me do this out of the box. It's kind of the same idea, instead this is just built in to the website you visit or music you listen to.

You can also disable any application you previously installed by going to Privacy Settings and clicking on Apps and Websites. It should all be there. You don't have to log out of facebook or close your account. Just delete all your social apps. (https://www.facebook.com/settings/?tab=privacy)

nextparadigms 9 hours ago 0 replies      
If people think Zuckerberg had "vision" doing this, I suppose I agree. But his vision wasn't "how can I help people have better online connections and experiences?" or anything like that. His vision was "how can I get people to share everything about their life, so Facebook can make more money?"

They are not one and the same thing, because in the latter, the priority is put on optimizing the experience for Facebook, not for the user.

Zuckerberg actually believes that there should be no privacy - at all. This is where he's leading Facebook. I believe that's a flawed vision, but he's probably sticking to it, because the less privacy you have, the more it helps the company.

codeup 9 hours ago 0 replies      
The apologetic posts by Facebook engineers give deep insights.

Of course they can argue well on what are, for average users, technical details. On that level, it is possible to get entangled in endless discussions.

The real problem is that these posters seem to totally lack (or ignore) an understanding of the bigger picture of what they are contributing to.

Bo102010 11 hours ago 2 replies      
I ditched Facebook this morning when I realized my carefully-constructed "Don't show this part of my profile" list was wiped out in the last redesign.

I've always thought the complaints people make after each redesign were simply resistance to change, but this time it doesn't seem worth it to continue.

suprgeek 11 hours ago 0 replies      
A good time to point out the Ghostery Browser extension. Use this at the most paranoid setting so that when FB and others pull stunts like these you have at least some measure of protection.
kragen 9 hours ago 1 reply      
I've been logging in to Facebook and Google+ only in a Chrome Incognito window for this reason for a while now. I recommend the practice to everyone.

However, yesterday Facebook locked my account because I was browsing "from an unknown device" (the netbook I've been using for years, on the IP address of PyCon Argentina). I unlocked it by identifying five of my Friends from 15 photos. So it's not without its drawbacks.

sneak 12 hours ago 3 replies      
Logging out doesn't necessarily disable the tracking, though, as the cookies are still there. You could delete them, but I bet the like buttons reset new ones, which correlates your history to you the next time you log back in.

Much better is to just nullroute their netblocks at your router. That's what I do.

codecaine 11 hours ago 1 reply      
I think Ghostery deserves some promotion here :
available for all major browsers. It blocks near to all webbugs including the facebook social plugins.
martingordon 11 hours ago 2 replies      
As the two FB engineers mentioned, you have to allow access to the app before it can know anything about you or take action on your behalf. See Step 2 of the Open Graph tutorial: https://developers.facebook.com/docs/beta/opengraph/tutorial...

Publishing actions requires the publish_actions permission, so if the app previously didn't ask for it, I believe you will be asked to re-authenticate the app with the new permissions.

I, for one, am going to be reviewing the apps I've previously added to ensure that none of them are doing anything I wouldn't want to. Not sure where to file FB API feature requests, but it would be nice to not have an "all or nothing" approach to authentication (this is a problem with the Twitter API as well, FWIW). For example, if an app requires X, Y and Z permissions, I might want to only allow X and Y and just not use the features that require Z.

mtogo 8 hours ago 1 reply facebook.com www.facebook.com connect.facebook.com fbcdn.com

mike-cardwell 11 hours ago 0 replies      
RequestPolicy users are protected against this entire class of problem. When I'm looking at a webpage, I know it isn't pulling in content from any other site, including Facebook, unless I specifically allow it to.
dasil003 12 hours ago 0 replies      
This is the wild west and Facebook is doing a land grab.
zerostar07 12 hours ago 2 replies      
As always Winer is worried, rightfully so, but people aren't going to log out of facebook. It seems Zuck really wants to get back at people for making him pull "Beacon" back then, so he reintroduced it. Of course it's a privacy concern, but i think people no longer have illusions about their privacy on facebook.
jfb 1 hour ago 0 replies      
One idly wonders if it is possible to turn the (to me) useless ticker feature off.
wedesoft 5 hours ago 1 reply      
I can recommend Fanboy's "Annoyance Block List". It will block requests to Twitter, Facebook, ... unless you are opening one of their sites directly.

(*) http://www.fanboy.co.nz/adblock/

stfu 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Oh, so Facebook already sent their minions to HN?
That was fast!
Lately the negative stories are gaining a bit of a momentum. Very much like that development.
erikpukinskis 2 hours ago 0 replies      
Facebook needs to let you uncheck rights when you Connect to a site.
molecularbutter 11 hours ago 1 reply      
LOL at all the facebook employees who are chiming into this thread (and others) to defend the latest creepery from their professionally invasive advertising company. I know you're just waiting for the IPO to cash in, but come on, how can you defend this nonsense?
Garbage 12 hours ago 0 replies      
I guess, I should always browse Facebook in "Private Browsing" mode, without any other site open in that session.
Angostura 4 hours ago 0 replies      
I've been ensuring I log out for quite a while now. I also have all platform functions disabled in my settings. It's all extra work though. There's a lot of friction involved in remaining private
dmoney 12 hours ago 1 reply      
From the RWW article, it looks like you have to enable a "social news app" for this to be an issue. I don't know why anyone would do that.
guelo 9 hours ago 0 replies      
The latest url for app permissions is http://www.facebook.com/settings?tab=applications
mwsherman 10 hours ago 1 reply      
Wouldn't disabling third-party cookies take care of this? (And many other questionable things?)
chailatte 11 hours ago 1 reply      
Switch to other services (Instagram, Twitter, Google+). Problem solved.

Unless you like to be in S/M relationship. You're the S.

keeran 11 hours ago 0 replies      
This is why I block FB in the hosts file (https://gist.github.com/1197453) and only use my mobile devices for FB messaging.
brudgers 8 hours ago 1 reply      
Am I the only person who has a virtual machine which is used only for Facebook?
pointyhat 10 hours ago 0 replies      
All the Facebook engineers on here sound like I imagine IBM executives do when asked about the involvement of IBM in the holocaust...

I'm genuinely surprised that the EU haven't stepped on Facebook yet. It's the creepiest, most invasive thing ever developed.

haberdasher 5 hours ago 0 replies      
You can use this Chrome extension to kill cookies when logging out: https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/bgonpegbhnjepleakg...
xpressyoo 12 hours ago 0 replies      
jordinl 11 hours ago 1 reply      
So it seems the solution would be to have different browser profiles. For instance, one for regular browsing, one for FB and one for gmail?
ngmcs8203 11 hours ago 1 reply      
This really comes down to Winer's tin foil hat obscuring what's actually happening and writing the story to reflect his lack of facts. For these "reading a story" posts to get to your timeline, you have to opt-in by installing the app and giving it permission to do that. If you're dumb enough to do that and get offended, maybe you should close your Facebook account.
What Netflix Could Have Said This Week appleoutsider.com
352 points by barredo  4 days ago   110 comments top 37
ctdonath 4 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.

brown9-2 4 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.

rumblestrut 4 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)

lukifer 4 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.

tibbon 4 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.

dugmartin 4 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.
foulmouthboy 4 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.
griffinalliance 4 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.
tomkarlo 4 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.
wccrawford 4 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.
kreek 4 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.

steve8918 4 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.

yesimahuman 4 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.
dave1619 4 days ago 1 reply      
This letter is genius. If Netflix had sent it out I think it would have averted the entire crisis.
superkinz 4 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.
Jun8 4 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.

jmilloy 4 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.

mdda 4 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...

jerrya 4 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.

rglover 4 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.

janesvilleseo 4 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.
codeslush 4 days ago 0 replies      
sambeau 4 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.

deweller 4 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'.
brackin 4 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.

sbkirk 4 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.
iradik 3 days 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!

lubujackson 4 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".

absconditus 3 days ago 0 replies      
People would have bitched no matter what they said. The level of entitlement in modern society is pretty shocking.
lubujackson 4 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."
kcurtin 4 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.
pshapiro 4 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."?
ckenst 4 days ago 0 replies      
I'm fine with the changes Netflix made, although I would prefer to login to only one site.
neduma 4 days ago 1 reply      
Impressive discussions. I like the Spotify model compared to Netflix. Care to comment?
durga 4 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..

plink 4 days ago 0 replies      
Quikster sounds too much like Amway's failed Quickstar. Classy.
Quake 2 Source Code Review fabiensanglard.net
335 points by DanielRibeiro  4 days ago   19 comments top 8
xedarius 3 days 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.

wccrawford 4 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.

kleiba 4 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!

quux 4 days ago 1 reply      
Dammit... first the workings of Thief and now this!

I have work to do!

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

  // Set the floating point precision ...
// 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?

VMG 4 days ago 0 replies      
Excellent. I had a lot of fun recently looking at ioquake3 code and picking up a thing or two.
Agathos 4 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!
msftguy 4 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;

Betty Weissman (mother of edw519) 1930-2011 edweissman.com
333 points by edw519  3 days ago   65 comments top 47
edw519 3 days ago 16 replies      
I realize this isn't exactly Hacker News, but sharing the source of my inspiration brings me more comfort than just about anything I've ever posted here. She was the perfect mother for an introverted, achievement-oriented nerd trying to find his way in the world. Thanks for letting me share.

[UPDATE: Thank you all for your kind words. It really means a lot to me.]

jacquesm 3 days ago 1 reply      
hey Ed,

I just woke up to your email.

First of all my condolences to you

This stuff really hits where it hurts. The 'behind every great man' quote more often than not refers to a mom rather than a spouse and I think it is beautiful of you that you wrote this and I hope that those who don't think this is 'hacker news' can keep their hands of their mouse buttons.

To all of you wondering how many pomodoros worth of productivity you can squeeze out of today: Keep an eye on the rest of your life it is more fleeting than you probably realize.

I love you is so much better than goodbye.

You're a lovely person Ed, now I have a bit more insight into why.


mcrittenden 3 days ago 0 replies      
When my dad died suddenly a couple years ago, I found a surprising amount of relief from this poem.

Death is Nothing at All by Henry Scott Holland

    Death is nothing at all. 
I have only slipped away into the next room.
I am I and you are you.
Whatever we were to each other,
that we still are.

Call me by my old familiar name.
Speak to me in the easy way
which you always used.
Put no difference in your tone.
Wear no forced air of solemnity or sorrow.

Laugh as we always laughed
at the little jokes we enjoyed together.
Play, smile, think of me, pray for me.
Let my name be ever the household word
that it always was.
Let it be spoken without affect,
without the trace of a shadow on it.

Life means all that it ever meant.
It is the same that it ever was.
There is absolutely unbroken continuity.
Why should I be out of mind
because I am out of sight?

I am waiting for you,
for an interval,
somewhere very near,
just around the corner.

All is well.

mechanical_fish 3 days ago 0 replies      
My condolences, Ed. Your mom sounds like an awesome person.
vimalg2 3 days ago 1 reply      
My condolences. May you find comfort in the good memories.

Last year, I lost my dad. He was 57; He died on his birthday.
I miss his quirky sense of humor.

scrrr 3 days ago 0 replies      
I like this post on HN. Because of the content, thanks for sharing that, but also because I think it is important to think about death. For many reasons.

My condolences to you, edw519.

larrys 3 days ago 0 replies      
I was raised the same way and can relate to all
you've said about your mother. (My mother is about the
same age and was raised in the same era.)

These two are my favorites:
When others said, "We need a time-out," or "This is a teaching moment," she just looked at you in such a way that you knew that there would never be a worse feeling than disappointing her.

When you played a song on the piano and she didn't recognize it, she said, "For this we need lessons? Go practice some more!"

pstuart 3 days ago 0 replies      
You are a lucky man to have such a wonderful mother, and to realize it as well. We are equally lucky because she did a great job with you and all of HN has benefited greatly from your contributions.

I've taken note of what she has told you and will try do do my best to absorb and apply it to my own children.

Peace to you and your family.

johnnyg 3 days ago 0 replies      
That was a lovely blog post and I've upvoted you with my humble amount of karma. I am sorry for your loss, but hey, you had a lot of good time and clearly spent it well.
smoyer 3 days ago 0 replies      
Wow ... I hope my kids feel that way about me when I leave this world. I know you'll miss her physical presence, but I get the sense that you carry so much of her with you that you'll never feel that she's left you.

But I'll add my condolences for that physical loss.

edanm 2 days ago 0 replies      
edw519, my condolences.

You're one of the most interesting and inspiring people on Hacker News. I'm sure I speak for many other when I say Thank You for all you've done here.

nasmorn 3 days ago 0 replies      
I sometimes like to think I could cope well with losing my mom now that I am married and have a child but in reality it scares the shit out of me.

My condolences to you

maaku 3 days ago 0 replies      
My condolences; I am sorry for your loss.
kirubakaran 3 days ago 0 replies      
I am sorry for your loss, Ed.
dlevine 3 days ago 0 replies      
My condolences on your loss. Losing a parent is hard - I lost my father almost two years ago, and I still think about him almost every day. Hopefully the happy memories of her will help you to get through the tough times.
yesbabyyes 3 days ago 0 replies      
My condolences to you, Ed. Now I have a clue to why you always come across as such a wise man in your posts.

I am so lucky that I still have both my loving parents, but I have experienced the loss of loved ones. I find solace in knowing that while they can't make new decisions, their light cone will keep shining in eternity, so they will always be a part of the world.

rglover 3 days ago 0 replies      
What an excellent way to remember your mom. She sounds like a great woman and I can tell she'll be greatly missed. Thank you for sharing this with everyone.
bane 2 days ago 0 replies      
Deepest condolences.

"Mother is the name for God in the lips and hearts of little children.", William Makepeace Thackeray.

Vivtek 3 days ago 0 replies      
Excuse me, I have something in my eye.

Lovely writing, as always, Ed, and I think she probably would have smiled for this one.

mcenedella 3 days ago 0 replies      
Oh, Ed. I am so sorry to hear this.

Welcome to the very unfortunate club of those of us who have lost a parent. It will always hurt, and it never goes away, but you do come to be at peace with it over time.

I am really thinking about you and this wonderful tribute you've written for your lovely mother right now. You've done something beautiful and she is so proud of you.

My advice at this time is to fully allow yourself to mourn. It's OK. Only you can experience your mourning and it may be the same or it may be different from how other people experience it, but just remember that only you can experience your mourning in the way you need to.

And that is totally cool because you are a beautiful piece of your Mom that is here right now.

Plus... Betty would've wanted it that way.

My sorrows are with you / Marc

joshuacc 3 days ago 0 replies      
Requiescat in pace.
Omnipresent 3 days ago 0 replies      
Sorry for your loss. I hope Sharing this among your community will ease the pain.
startupcomment 3 days ago 0 replies      
My deepest condolences to you and your family. Thanks for sharing such a heart-felt and moving tribute. She seemed like a model parent and a wonderful person to spend time with. Many lessons for us all to learn from. I know from my own experience that much benefit can be derived from writing about our deceased loved ones. I plan to save your blog post among other files in my "inspirational" folder.
runjake 3 days ago 0 replies      
I obviously don't know you or your mother, but I enjoy your writings and it's now obvious she played a big part in building you, so my condolences.
ajju 2 days ago 0 replies      
She had to have been a really wonderful person to have raised a son who is such a nice human being. My condolences Ed.
Mithrandir 3 days ago 0 replies      
I'm sorry for your loss. May she be always remember by the ones who loved her dearly.
rbanffy 3 days ago 0 replies      
My most sincere condolences. There is nothing that can be said in the face of such loss.

We all face it one day or another. It never gets better, but we get used to it and we move on.

wgrover 3 days ago 0 replies      
Nice lessons here for parents. Thanks for sharing and my heartfelt sympathies for your loss.
kfalter 3 days ago 0 replies      
Ed... I don't know you, but as another hard working person, I can honestly say that your post has reminded me of what is important in life. It's those that love me who support my hard work and sometimes reclusiveness/introverted-ness.

Thank you for posting this. Your mother's story has had a compounded effect with your post. Her legacy lives on, and this is just one way: inspiring others on HN to cherish those who love them, which she obviously did with you.

Thanks, and I am sorry for your loss.

thehodge 3 days ago 0 replies      
That was simply beautiful, I hope when I have kids mate, I inspire that in them... bookmarked for future reference..
raju 3 days ago 0 replies      
My condolences Ed. She sounds like a terrific person, and a great inspiration.
spinchange 3 days ago 0 replies      
Your mom sounds really remarkable. I want to share my condolences.
TeMPOraL 2 days ago 0 replies      
My sincere and deepest condolences, Ed.

Thank you for sharing this.

hernan7 3 days ago 0 replies      
My condolences Ed.
gommm 3 days ago 0 replies      
Sorry for your loss Ed, that was beautiful and sad writing. My condolences.
simplegeek 3 days ago 0 replies      
Beautiful writing. I'm really sorry for your loss!
grosales 3 days ago 0 replies      
My most sincere condolences. May the inspiration she instilled in you be eternal.
mleonhard 3 days ago 0 replies      
I'm sorry for your loss. I went through this last year.
zafka 3 days ago 0 replies      
I am sorry for your loss. She lives on through you.
TheSmoke 3 days ago 0 replies      
mothers, in my belief, are the most beautiful, most precious creations. i felt your mourning in my heart. my condolences.
freemarketteddy 2 days ago 0 replies      
This post made me call my mom after about a month!...Really sorry for your loss man!
calloc 3 days ago 0 replies      
My sincerest condolences.
redouane 3 days ago 0 replies      
my condolences ed, words seem inadequate to express the sadness we feel.
hurt 3 days ago 0 replies      
That's a wonderful if very sad blog post. I'm sorry for your loss Ed.
david927 3 days ago 0 replies      
My deepest condolences, Ed.
d99kris 3 days ago 0 replies      
My condolences, sorry for your loss.
rediah 3 days ago 0 replies      
Thank you for sharing this. My condolences to you and to all whose mothers have passed away.
Why do Windows functions all begin with a pointless MOV EDI, EDI instruction? msdn.com
316 points by cabacon  3 days ago   43 comments top 8
jswinghammer 3 days 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.

tptacek 3 days 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.

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


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:

ajross 3 days 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.
cousin_it 3 days 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?

alexwestholm 3 days 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
giardini 3 days ago 3 replies      
Whatever happened to the old idea of separating program and data spaces and write-protecting the program space?
wwwww 3 days ago 0 replies      
Then why do I need to restart the computer after I install anything?
Google+ Opens to All googleblog.blogspot.com
296 points by Umalu  4 days ago   175 comments top 41
Kylekramer 4 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.

sjs382 4 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...

naner 4 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...

xnxn 4 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.

sp332 4 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.

calloc 4 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:


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 ...)

kadabra9 4 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.

0x12 4 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.

hasanove 4 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.

jsz0 4 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.
BvS 4 days ago 0 replies      
For me the public Hangouts (Hangouts On Air) seem even more interesting.
muyuu 4 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+

w1ntermute 4 days ago 2 replies      
Too little, too late. Facebook already aped all of their innovations.
twidlit 4 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.

sssparkkk 4 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.

joelhaus 4 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.

thunga 4 days ago 0 replies      
Google+ Opens to All other than for people with google app accounts...
carterparks 4 days ago 2 replies      
Except for Google Apps users
glhaynes 4 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.

Jun8 4 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.

infinite_snoop 4 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.

pycassa 4 days ago 1 reply      
google plus is like the bing of social networks
eps 4 days ago 0 replies      
The line-up at the door must've been starting to thin out :)
diamondhead 3 days ago 0 replies      
Everyone except the users of Google Apps. Nobody talks about this bullshit.


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

yason 3 days 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.
tnorthcutt 4 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.
zeratul 4 days ago 0 replies      
I wish there was a way to merge this post with a related one:


Google+ offers quick and continuous iteration of new features.

goldensaucer 4 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.
bad_user 3 days ago 0 replies      
It isn't open to Google Apps users.
radq 4 days ago 1 reply      
Looks like you still need to be "over a certain age"... :(
gurkendoktor 4 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.
zerostar07 4 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!
samrat 3 days ago 0 replies      
And when will it be open for those under eighteen years of age?
sorennielsen 4 days ago 0 replies      
Open to all... Unless you're using Google Apps like I do ಠ_ಠ
badclient 4 days ago 1 reply      
Google+ is dead.
gamma_raj 4 days ago 0 replies      
Its high time they opened it. Google+ seemed like desert.
Hyena 4 days ago 2 replies      
Time to see whether it will fly or the slowdown was a sign of trouble.
sheabarton 4 days ago 0 replies      
Except google apps users..
jigs_up 4 days ago 0 replies      
+1 for pissed off Google Apps users.
cwp 4 days ago 0 replies      
Well, everyone except Google Apps users.
willy1234x1 4 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.)
Help, I'm on the IRS hit list theglobeandmail.com
276 points by DanielBMarkham  4 days ago   218 comments top 18
patio11 4 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.

DanielBMarkham 4 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.

jellicle 4 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.

noonespecial 4 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.

matrix 4 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.

rickdangerous1 4 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.
daniel_solano 4 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

mark_l_watson 4 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?

jedberg 4 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.

Vivtek 4 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!

azulum 4 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

viraptor 4 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?

gopi 4 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.
DirtyCalvinist 4 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.
cheez 4 days ago 2 replies      
So the solution is don't be a US citizen. Jesus Christ, what insanity.
stevep98 4 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.


mbeattie 4 days ago 1 reply      
Here's some advice:

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

Easy as that.

parfe 4 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)


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.



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

Windows 8 OEM specs may block Linux booting itworld.com
270 points by ramen  4 days ago   139 comments top 34
jrockway 4 days ago  replies      
I doubt any major vendor will do this. First off, they don't want to be locked into selling Microsoft-only machines. If they can't pretend Linux is an option, Microsoft can charge them $1000 for a Windows license and there's nothing they can do about it. If they have Linux hanging over Microsoft's head, though, they'll get better pricing on Windows. (Think this won't happen? It already did with XP on netbooks. When Microsoft realized that everyone was happy to get $100 off the price of their laptop to run Firefox under Linux instead of under Windows, they had no choice but to make it nearly free.)

If that doesn't work, the need for booting non-standard Windows images will save us. I've never worked for any company that ran a stock Windows install -- everyone rolls their own. If new machines won't boot this image, guess what, that new machine is bought from some vendor that doesn't do this to them. And the only reason most people use Windows at home is because they use Windows at work. If big companies started migrating away from Windows, Microsoft could be in serious trouble. (Yup, Microsoft Word is much nicer than LibreOffice Writer or AbiWord. But you don't know that if you've never used it. Or, you don't care, because you're writing a memo, not a book. And that's $600 Microsoft loses right there.)

Next, we're forgetting the all-important server market. Nobody uses Windows as a server OS, so all those servers are going to have to be able to run Grub. Since servers are what make the OEMs money (they actually need that quad core chip, you don't), keeping users of that market happy will be the hardware companies' biggest concern. If Intel chips stop booting Linux, guess what, AMD is the new king of the market.

Finally, many of these companies are in markets other than consumer computers, and they won't want to alienate their other partners. If, say, Samsung says "our hardware will only run Windows", then they won't be manufacturing Android phones or Chromebooks anymore. And that's a big deal, because they won't be manufacturing iPhones either, and that means they're out of the mobile market. (Have you ever seen anyone without MVP certification anywhere near a Windows Phone? I didn't think so.)

Basically, Windows is important, but not so important that anyone would want to be the first to go Windows-only in hardware. Hardware companies want to provide nice computers at a nice price. End users mostly want to browse the web. This puts Microsoft in a position to do exactly what the market wants, not what it thinks it can bear. When you're at the top, the only place to go is down. And that is where Microsoft is going.

dpark 4 days ago 2 replies      
Unless I'm misunderstanding something, this is silly FUD. Microsoft isnt stupid enough (or evil enough, despite what some like to believe) to attempt to force PC oems to effectively block all OSes except Windows. They know this wouldn't work, and there'd be no point in trying to force it.

Supporting hardened boot is not the same as requiring it. Microsoft already utilizes this for BitLocker. You can still install Linux on a machine that supports hardened booting and signed images. You just can't enable hardened boot unless you use signed images.

ghshephard 4 days ago 1 reply      
The first paragraph is just silly:

"After years of trying to cut off Linux growth as a desktop platform on x86 and x64 PCs, Microsoft may have actually figured out a way to stop Linux deployments on client PCs dead in their tracks."

I'm quite certain Microsoft has (A) not put any significant effort into cutting off growth as a desktop platform, and (B) If they had, they were almost completely successful, and characterizing it as "trying" implies that they had limited success.

sciurus 4 days ago 2 replies      
Here is a direct link to Matthew Garret's blog post so that you can skip itworld's paraphrasing.


daeken 4 days ago 3 replies      
This could block Linux from booting, but realistically speaking, does anyone believe that will happen? It seems very, very unlikely to me that you won't be able to disable signing restrictions at the firmware level.
lhnn 4 days ago 3 replies      
Wouldn't this draw anti-trust battles? Since complying with EFI signing is against the license of one of the only other major alternatives to Windows, this would not bode well for Microsoft.
rdl 3 days ago 0 replies      
This is overblown. However, if this means secure boot hardware is even more widely available, it is a win -- if the keys are under control of the user or his organization, it is a huge security win.
krschultz 3 days ago 0 replies      
It won't happen, and if it does happen, it won't matter.

Can you imagine the Anti-Trust problems this would create? Microsoft is still a big fat target for anti-trust lawsuits and this one is pretty blatant.

And if it does happen, while we're waiting for the Justice Department to end it I'm pretty sure the Linux hackers will find a way around it. When there is a will, there is a way.

dramaticus3 3 days ago 0 replies      
Summary : Machines that have the "Windows 8" logo must have UEFI, which means the bootloader must be signed with a key that's in the BIOS. Additionally the OS can use the keys to check other signed code : device drivers etc.

My conclusion : A smart vendor will include a signed program that will manage said keys in the BIOS.

tbrownaw 3 days ago 0 replies      
> The two alternatives here are for Windows to be signed with a Microsoft key and for the public part of that key to be included with all systems, or

Does it have to be directly signed by that key, or does it work like the CA system that web browsers use?

> A system that ships with only OEM and Microsoft keys will not boot a generic copy of Linux. [ from the blog post rather than the article ]

Which tells us that either systems will not ship with only those keys, or there will be a simple way to disable this ("Press F2 for setup"), or somebody will be getting sued on antitrust grounds (which maybe would be ignored again in the US, but not the rest of the world) and forced to provide a workaround.

ableal 3 days ago 0 replies      
LWN notice and discussion of "Garrett: UEFI secure booting" at http://lwn.net/Articles/459569/
yason 3 days ago 0 replies      
I've long thought that the only place where I allow Windows is in a virtual machine. This seems to hint in that direction: buy a machine that isn't broken (can boot Linux) and do your Windows duties under VirtualBox or something.
jsz0 4 days ago 1 reply      
Linux (on the desktop) is probably of little or no concern to Microsoft at this point. They've got bigger problems to worry about. If they want to focus on making computers sold with Windows offer the best possible experience it will benefit the most people. Possibly it will make things harder for Linux users but from Microsoft's perspective if the OEM is shipping Windows there's no reason to consider Linux as part of the equation.
tree_of_item 4 days ago 1 reply      
To everyone saying "I doubt anyone will do this": wasn't the consensus also against Microsoft restricting application distribution to their app store?
TallGuyShort 3 days ago 1 reply      
No one seems to have mentioned the impact this will have on Live systems. I'm frequently called on by Windows users to recover lost data on corrupted systems, which I do using a Live Linux distribution (especially when they have discarded their installation media & access keys, and have no interest in investing money in continuing using Windows if I can give them a free alternative to getting online). How will I be able to do that for people with Windows 8 computers?

I'm sure I'll be able to find unsigned hardware for my personal use, but it's the interoperability that concerns me.

sunyc 4 days ago 0 replies      
chromeos has similar thing, with a developer switch at back basically turns off the signature validation in firmware. what they should worry about is, which CA root to put in there.
wedesoft 3 days ago 0 replies      
It certainly won't get easier to install a Linux dual-boot. It is already difficult enough as it is:

* Windows PCs without installation medium

* Windows installation with a full partitition table (four primary partitions)

* (intentionally?) corrupted partition tables

I.e. installing GNU/Linux requires you to resize partitions with a potentially corrupted NTFS file system and/or delete backup partitions. Alternatively the user uses a Windows image file as Linux file system (Wubi) which is slower and a more fragile solution.

pointyhat 3 days ago 0 replies      
Like I suspected, this entire thread has been turned by zealots into a Microsoft-bashing exercise.

I genuinely dispair for people who spend their entire time platform bashing and don't add something constructive to the discussion or tar and feather a side religiously. It paints a very bad picture of the "startup culture" amongst more established organisations.

gizzlon 3 days ago 0 replies      
The articles doesn't say, but this would require an TPM in the machine to be successful.. right?

Without a TPM how can the EFI be trusted? You just have to replace it as well as the boot loader and kernel.

christkv 3 days ago 0 replies      
If this makes it into real hardware I expect the EU to reopen their case against Microsoft fairly quickly on anti-competitive grounds. There are to many governmental institutions and businesses dependent on linux for their day to day work for this to go unchallenged.
dhimes 3 days ago 0 replies      
If the UEFI could be made to handle multiple keys, and allow the owner to enter them into the firmware, then this could work. One more step in the setup but a more secure system overall.
bitops 3 days ago 2 replies      
Agree that its a non-issue. Linux is established, would be a really dumb move to block it like this.

In two weeks we'll have forgotten all about it.

RexRollman 3 days ago 0 replies      
Why is this being written like it is solely a "linux" problem? It seems to me that it effects every non-Windows operating system.
moontear 3 days ago 0 replies      
"We will continue to support the legacy BIOS interface, but machines using the UEFI interface will have significantly richer capabilities."

== Will not block Linux or any other OS booting. Secondly anti-trust cases would kill MS if they would block any other OS, so they won't.


prayag 4 days ago 1 reply      
I bought a Windows machine from Amazon. The reason that I wasn't able to install Linux was acceptable enough for Amazon to pay for return shipping.
mkup 3 days ago 0 replies      
There was a time when Windows Logo was considered prestigious, respectable and trendy thing.

With such a practice Microsoft is quickly approaching a time when Windows Logo will be perceived like a hot-iron branding of robbers and other criminals in the medieval era.

karolisd 4 days ago 2 replies      
Does this effect dual booting OS X? I doubt the side-effect of blocking Linux boots was anything but a coincidence. But could Microsoft be fearful of Hackintoshes becoming more popular and a increase of OS X running on non-Apple hardware?
braco_alva 4 days ago 1 reply      
But even if this was true, there is still ways around this right? I mean rEFIt does a pretty good job booting up Linux in Mac, so wouldn't this be possible in those PC's as well?
nagnatron 3 days ago 0 replies      
I know I'm speaking through my reality distortion field, but who cares about this?
paulja 3 days ago 0 replies      
Thats one way to stop all the shops that slap XP on modern hardware, due to corporate IT policy.
kvk 3 days ago 0 replies      
The start of a Windows jailbreaking scene?
ivanbernat 3 days ago 0 replies      
It looks to me like it's designed with tablets in mind, not desktops / laptops.
guard-of-terra 3 days ago 0 replies      
Does this also mean that you won't be able to boot Windows 8 on a PC you assembled yourself? Oh, they did not think of that.

One more reason to hate MS and want it die everywhere.

brokensystem 3 days ago 0 replies      
I use ubuntu but surely my harddrive is full of malware (boot system compromised). Linux is for hacker playing with backdoors. I like free software and linux, but if I need a secure system, I should have to pay the prize of using windows 8.
OnStar Begins Spying On Customers' GPS Location For Profit zdziarski.com
259 points by jzdziarski  4 days ago   92 comments top 20
politician 4 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.


"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..."

yock 4 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.
raphman 4 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.


icefox 4 days ago 1 reply      
If anyone actually thought OnStar wouldn't be used for that from day 1 they were just fooling themselves.
suking 4 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?
dreww 4 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.

jroll 4 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.

dlikhten 4 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.

greentiger 4 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.

moab9 4 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.

jen_h 4 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:


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).

SoftwareMaven 3 days 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.

RexRollman 4 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.
gentle 4 days ago 1 reply      
This is really not ok, and means I'll never buy any car that has OnStar.
InclinedPlane 4 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?
joelhaasnoot 4 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.
Bud 4 days ago 1 reply      
This situation cries out for Congressional oversight.
ShawnJG 4 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.
badragon 4 days ago 2 replies      
That is why I would never consider buying a GM car
doctoboggan 4 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.

White House Petition to End Software Patents Is a Hit technologyreview.com
251 points by bane  14 hours ago   59 comments top 12
bane 11 hours ago 4 replies      
Interesting to note that this is currently #1 with >100 points, while my link to the actual petition was flagged and is now marked dead.


According to the guidlines

"Please submit the original source. If a blog post reports on something they found on another site, submit the latter."


hugh3 13 hours ago 4 replies      
The only thing less useful than an internet petition is... actually I can't finish that sentence because I can't think of anything less useful than an internet petition.

But I'm sure the White House had a fun time harvesting all those email addresses to spam throughout the coming fourteen months of election season!

guelo 9 hours ago 1 reply      
It's a shame that the petition that gained traction was so poorly written to the point of not being understandable.
raldi 11 hours ago 1 reply      
The headline "White House Petition to End Software Patents Is a Hit" is slightly misleading. It makes it sound like the petition came from the White House.
vadiml 13 hours ago 4 replies      
I wonder i somebody took a time to really read what the petition says. The title is anti-sofware patents but the body is more complicated:
"The patent office's original interpretation of software as language and therefor patentable is much closer to reality and more productive for innovation than it's current practice of issuing software patents with no understanding of the patents being issued".

I think it should read:
"The patent office's original interpretation of software as language and therefor not patentable is much closer to reality and more productive for innovation than it's current practice of issuing software patents with no understanding of the patents being issued."

Or am I missing something?

jaywhy 11 hours ago 3 replies      
This is a liitle offtopic, but I have a simply question, one that I've had for awhile but cannot find the answer to, can anyone give an example of a legitimate software patent -- a patent that beyond its superficial veneer doesn't seem utterly absurd.
Francon 12 hours ago 0 replies      
If there arent any software patents would we see new competetion to the big giants of industry. A competetor to Google for example? (no, bing doesnt count) Seems to me that the entire reason that the internet has been so successful and innovative is that there (was) little litigious battles and it was just smart people solving problems. I'd be in favor of eliminating the anti-competetive behavior of patents.
ninjaa 13 hours ago 0 replies      
Here's my petition to pass the StartupVisa


Please sign it if you are so inclined

delinka 13 hours ago 1 reply      
If by "hit" you mean "we still need many signatures," then OK. Just that it's the most popular petition amongst a few hundred people who have signed petitions at all does not smack of "hit material" to me.
ajju 9 hours ago 0 replies      
The link from Technology review to the application is broken. If they fix it, the number will probably go up!
missy 7 hours ago 0 replies      
I wondered if, there were no software patents would the community be better off ? Does anyone know off a statistic were there are cases where it shows that companies that sued others and won, ended up paying more in the end for breaching someone elses patent.

Google bought Motorola recently and some say just to have security that android is used on the phones. They then used ,and still are, the patents as an leverage against rivals competitors.

I think as indiviudal company you can gain, but with these wars the eco system is weakend and in turn everyone is worse off.

How can C Programs be so Reliable? tratt.net
240 points by ColinWright  2 days ago   150 comments top 25
mechanical_fish 2 days ago 3 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.

0x12 2 days 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++).

cperciva 2 days 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).

stygianguest 2 days 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.

rkangel 2 days 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.

jim_lawless 2 days 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.

aklein 2 days 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.
jjr 2 days 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'.
akkartik 2 days 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-....
hackermom 2 days 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.
charlesdm 2 days 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.

beej71 19 hours ago 0 replies      
Oh, I love C. So simple and so powerful. God help me, I barely write anything in C anymore, but it will always hold a dear place in my heart until the day I die.

Thank you for allowing me this nostalgic indulgence, hackernewers. I know for at least a few of you, it will resonate.

gte910h 2 days 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).

ScottBurson 2 days 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.
diolpah 2 days 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.

cageface 2 days 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.

swah 2 days 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...
TelmoMenezes 2 days 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.
sktrdie 2 days 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.
fbomb 2 days 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)

jayfuerstenberg 2 days 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.
snorkel 2 days 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.
dicroce 2 days ago 1 reply      
C is beautiful because
is possible.
hack_edu 2 days ago 0 replies      
"Error. Unhandled exception."
Wikileaks Takes Down the Head of Al Jazeera readwriteweb.com
238 points by mwilcox  4 days ago   60 comments top 12
potatolicious 4 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?

robchez 4 days ago 4 replies      

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

sliverstorm 4 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.

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


r00fus 4 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.

nir 3 days 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.

noarchy 3 days 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.
aheilbut 4 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?

0x12 3 days 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.
oldstrangers 4 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...
bh42222 3 days 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?

andyv88 3 days 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
Groupon Restates Revenue, Revenue Fell In Half, COO Exits wsj.com
226 points by chailatte  1 day ago   120 comments top 32
gojomo 1 day ago 2 replies      
This miscalculation of revenue was one of the major issues highlighted by these two business/accounting professors:

http://blogs.smeal.psu.edu/grumpyoldaccountants/archives/281 "TRUST NO ONE, PARTICULARLY NOT GROUPON'S ACCOUNTANTS"

Their two other major concerns:

• Groupon's positive cash-flow is a temporary illusion:

"After downplaying the ACSOI, Groupon has begun touting its 2010 free cash flow of $72.2 million (operating cash flow of $86.9 million less property and equipment purchases of $14.7 million). Unfortunately, operating and free cash flows are driven solely by the fact that Groupon is dragging its feet in remitting coupon sale payments to its merchants. Had merchants been paid in a timely fashion, the Company's free cash flows would likely have been closer to zero and possibly even negative. Seriously, in a competitive market space, how long does Groupon believe that it can get away with a 60 day payment delay (or longer) to merchants? Merchants simply cannot stay in business by providing services (even discounted ones), two months ahead of payment. Simply put, Groupon's free cash flows aren't real. They come from an unusual (and likely temporary) vendor financing model, and are not sustainable."

• Groupon's internal controls are inadequate to make their self-reported numbers credible:

"It is absolutely ludicrous to think that Groupon is anywhere close to having an effective set of internal controls over financial reporting having done 17 acquisitions in a little over a year. When a company expands to 45 countries, grows merchants from 212 to 78,466, and expands its employee base from 37 to 9,625 in only two years, there is little doubt that internal controls are not working somewhere. Any M&A expert will agree. And don't forget that Groupon admitted to having an inexperienced accounting and reporting staff. Note that Ernst & Young supplied an audit opinion about the financial statements but not about the entity's internal control system. E&Y instead points out, “We were not engaged to perform an audit of the Company's internal control over financial reporting. Our audits included consideration of internal control over financial reporting as a basis for designing audit procedures that are appropriate in the circumstances, but not for the purpose of expressing an opinion on the effectiveness of the Company's internal control over financial reporting.” So we ask how have these weak or nonexistent controls affected the numbers Groupon reports? Can we trust these numbers?"

Groupon's business-professor cofounder, Eric Lefkofsky, has dumped about $382 million of his shares in the prior private financings.

grandalf 1 day ago 2 replies      
All this finger shaking is misplaced.

Groupon's accounting was legitimate as a management accounting approach, and any savvy investor should have realized this.

Do you think that Google's acquisition offer was naive to the basic accounting approach used by the firm? Of course it wasn't.

The knee-jerk criticisms of Groupon's accounting are coming from the same naive viewpoint as those who demanded mark-to-market accounting practices (which helped trigger the housing crash).

The use of accounting to measure business valuation is more an art than a science, and no savvy person should be fooled either by a firm's decision not to mark the price of an asset to market or to consider ramp-up costs temporary.

If you're thinking of investing, be sure you understand how the accounting works and that you are comfortable with why management is doing it that way.

There is no reasonable way to compare two companies in different industries using a standardized accounting method. Even GAAP is not designed to do that. It's a nuance of business valuation and ultimately in the case of a company like GroupOn the valuation is mostly due to what investors are willing to pay.

And yes, it's reasonable for a firm to choose one accounting approach over another b/c it makes the company easier to manage, or b/c it makes it easier to show the company's true strengths to the market (aka investors).

danilocampos 1 day ago 8 replies      
"Previously, when it sold a restaurant gift certificate for $10, for instance, it would book the full amount, even though a portion went to the business owner."

I keep trying to think of something to say about this. I'm speechless.

What else do you need to know to accept that these guys are dishonest?

physcab 1 day ago 2 replies      
I'm not sure saying "revenue fell in half" is accurate. It looks like they are clarifying what revenue it actually makes ie, instead of counting the full value of the coupon as revenue, they are now adjusting revenue numbers to reflect what their cut of the coupon is. Still sort of shady that they were quoting the first number to begin with...unless that is totally common, which I wouldn't know.
Pewpewarrows 1 day ago 4 replies      
This really begs the question: who the hell is in charge there? How do you not take one look at your finances and immediately jump on a multi-billion dollar buyout that a giant internet company offers you? Or did Google get a closer look at their books and see this coming?
maukdaddy 1 day ago 3 replies      
They really should have taken the $8 billion from Google.
vacanti 13 hours ago 1 reply      
Headline could be improved.

While revenue fell in half, gross margin just increased 50%! In other words, this is just perception and has no bearing on the performance of the actual business.

Also, headline seems to imply that COO left because "revenue fell in half". There's no reason to believe that.

clobber 1 day ago 0 replies      
So much for that spectacular business model that revolutionizes local business. The Groupon pump and dump will make a good chapter in a finance textbook someday.
antimora 1 day ago 1 reply      
"The chief operating officer, Margo Georgiadis, is returning to Google" ... nice way for Google to get an inside into Groupon
_delirium 1 day ago 0 replies      
On the plus side, at least this happened pre-IPO. It'd be a giant legal shitstorm if they restated revenues after selling shares in an IPO.
vaksel 1 day ago 2 replies      
the groupon rise and implosion has been pretty spectacular
InclinedPlane 1 day ago 3 replies      
Can someone explain to me why Groupon's margins are so thin/negative? Don't they basically take half of the revenue that comes in as part of a groupon? Shouldn't their overhead be little more than the site, plus sales staff, plus devs? Where does their money go?
linuxhansl 3 hours ago 0 replies      
I still cannot believe that Google was willing to $6bn!
The non-scaling nature of GroupOn always seemed obvious to me.
SurfScore 21 hours ago 1 reply      
I've always thought Groupon was funny.
I could start a business where my sole business plan was that for every 95 cents you gave me, I would give you a dollar, no strings attached. I'd probably have a billion in "revenue" even quicker than Groupon, and I would probably be more profitable too.
This might be a gross oversimplification, but it's still true.
sunchild 23 hours ago 0 replies      
Remember this quote from Mason's leaked memo: "We are generating cash, not losing it " we generated $25M in cash last quarter alone, adding to the $200M we had before. In other words, we're doing the opposite of running out of money."

He chose the words "generating cash" carefully. If it wasn't contrary to his point, he should have addressed revenue instead.

mikeryan 1 day ago 1 reply      
How much longer is Andrew Mason going to be in charge at Groupon? His head has to be on the chopping block at this point right?
blantonl 1 day ago 0 replies      
A past discussion that seems to be playing out:


dennisgorelik 1 day ago 0 replies      
Would Groupon survive for another year or would it file bankruptcy?
RexRollman 1 day ago 0 replies      
This IPO is looking more and more like a scam.
jprobert 1 day ago 0 replies      
It's amazing to me how far Groupon has fallen recently. I'm curious to see if investors file lawsuits against the founders for misappropriation of funds given that the founders took so much money off the table.
mkramlich 1 day ago 0 replies      
the technical MBA term for this is "oops!"
8ig8 1 day ago 0 replies      
Has Jason Fried added anything to this discussion after announcing he left the board? I'd be interested in his take as a past insider.
callmeed 21 hours ago 0 replies      
Is there any possibility that current/past investors in Groupon sue the company because they invested based on bad financials?
krobertson 1 day ago 2 replies      
It is kind of entertaining watching Groupon slowly implode...
tlogan 23 hours ago 1 reply      
I don't know. As far as I know, Priceline (PCLN) is doing the same thing. Are they going to push PCLN do the same?
djiddish98 1 day ago 0 replies      
OT - When I first read this article, the former COO's last name was spelled 3 different ways.

Yes, there are a handful of vowels there, so I can understand how the WSJ still left one misspelling at the end of the article after editing the original.

itswindy 10 hours ago 0 replies      
I smelled a rat, especially when they started to open offices in places like Bulgaria just for the hype.
marcamillion 1 day ago 0 replies      
Definitely the beginning of the end...if there was ever one.
dreamdu5t 1 day ago 0 replies      
Didn't we all see this coming for a long time?
zmanji 1 day ago 2 replies      
How were their initial steps legal? How can a company file for an IPO with such bullshit metrics?
Hyena 1 day ago 1 reply      
Wasn't there a post a few months back claiming the current tch market wasn't a bubble because during the last bubble firms bent over backwards to claim revenue and now they don't?
arctangent 1 day ago 0 replies      
I really don't know how some of these people aren't in jail already. It's as if everyone forgot that Enron happened.
Guys buy island on Craigslist, use Kickstarter to turn it into artist community coldsplinters.com
209 points by whalesalad  3 days ago   55 comments top 13
krobertson 3 days 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.
citricsquid 3 days 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

klous 3 days 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.
diziet 3 days 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!
yardie 2 days ago 1 reply      
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.
bh42222 2 days 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.
wtn 3 days ago 0 replies      
I hope they have liability insurance.
pasbesoin 3 days 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...

javanix 2 days ago 2 replies      
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.

mtgentry 3 days 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.
stevederico 3 days ago 1 reply      
Another michigander here, this would be the ultimate Airbnb rental.
zoobert 2 days ago 0 replies      
excellent. Crazy americans I would say. This is a great idea. Hope it will be sucessful
angryasian 3 days 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
CERN press release regarding neutrino experiment cern.ch
206 points by AndreiVajnaII  1 day ago   76 comments top 17
saulrh 1 day ago 1 reply      
This press release is a perfect example of how to write a press release for a high-profile, possibly groundbreaking discovery. Understated, but still properly summarizes the importance of the result, and above all doesn't make any hysterical claims. Instead, it just presents the discovery, cites the paper, gives some background, grabs quotes from the scientists to show the reasoning behind their actions, and leaves it at that. Beautiful.
gammarator 1 day ago 0 replies      
This result is from a legitimate experimental group. It's much more likely to be experimental error than new physics, though: previous observations of neutrinos coincident with the light emitted by supernova 1987a (much, much farther away) indicate that neutrinos travel at light speed to 1 part in 10^8 [1,2]

[1] http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/1989ARA%26A..27..629A
[2] http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/badastronomy/2011/09/22/fa...

Also, https://www.xkcd.com/955/

mootothemax 1 day ago 2 replies      
There are a few interesting explanations in a Guardian article[1] published today:

Heinrich Paes at Dortmund University and colleagues believe it might be possible for neutrinos to move through hidden, extra dimensions of space and effectively take shortcuts through space-time. "The extra dimension is warped in a way that particles moving through it can travel faster than particles that go through the known three dimensions of space. It's like a shortcut through this extra dimension. So it looks like particles are going faster than light, but actually they don't."

Another potential explanation for the observation was given by Alan Kostelecky at Indiana University, who has devoted his career to violations of the limiting speed of light. He proposed in 1985 that an energy field that lies unseen in the vacuum might explain the finding. The field allows neutrinos to move faster through space than photons, the particles that make up light.

"It may very well be that neutrinos travel faster than light does in that medium. It is not at all unreasonable that that would be the case."


arethuza 1 day ago 2 replies      
Although it is CERN that is getting most of the attention the lab receiving the neutrinos is pretty impressive - 1400m underground:

"three large experimental halls, each about 100 m long, 20 m wide and 18 m high and service tunnels, for a total volume of about 180,000 cubic metres"


ivan_ah 1 day ago 3 replies      
I watched the news conf. this morning.

The neutrino production "curve" looks like a a square wave pulse as a function of time

____| |_____

and the detection points look like this

___________________________________| |_____

with ∆t ~= 700km/c time distance between the two pulses.

The claim is that the "most likely guess" of the received
pulse shape (obtained from many measurements) is too far right to be consistent with speed of light, but the ∆t measured where?

between the onset of the pulses?
between the place where the pulses go down?

What they did some mega calculation (maximum likelihood stuff), to predict the best approximation to the shape of the pulse at the receiving end -- so somehow they take on the approximation of the whole pulse (which is much wider than the claimed discrepancy).

They should downgrade the claim from: "speed of neutrinos is...." to: "speed of pulses of neutrinos ..... on average, as predicted by the maximum likely shape of the pulse",
which sounds much less profound.

The conf was good though, the speaker stood up to a lot of
serious scrutiny. My guess is the problem is with the ML curve shape calculation.

sprovoost 1 day ago 2 replies      
My guess is there's something wrong with the statistical modeling, but I realize that's not a very useful statement. I missed the press conference, but I did read the paper
and I even understood a few things. :-)
It was good to see they even thought about seismic activity (centimeters).
One thing I noticed in both the article and the media is that the effect is never expressed in terms of distance (about 15 meters), but only in terms of time and speed.
It surprises me that they're able to determine the point of creation and detection of neutrinos in such huge instruments, but of course they know their stuff. I did get the impression it took a lot of modelling and advanced statistics to achieve that, hence my earlier "gut feeling" that there lies the problem.

A few other possible explanation that crossed my mind and I'm sure are wrong and already thought about:

* the distance between both sides was measured very accurately, above ground. The earth is not flat, so the distance underground is shorter. I'm too tired to calculate how much shorter.

* relatistic effect of the beam going deeper underground on its way over; I read elsewhere that they already considered the effect of altitude difference between the two stations and that it was orders of magnitude smaller.

* some other mistake in distance measurement; have they tried sending other, easier to measure, signals over to figure out the distance? Or some other independent
way to measure that distance?

guelo 16 hours ago 0 replies      
This article from a couple days ago did a good job of dampening any wild hopes http://io9.com/5843112/faster-than-light-neutrinos-not-so-fa...

A probably nonsensical idea about the super-nova point they make: maybe what it means isn't that neutrinos are traveling faster than light but that they are traveling just ahead of light. In other words, they are some kind of shock wave moving through space at speed c but at a location just slightly ahead of the disturbance. Maybe we are detecting the supernova neutrinos a few nano seconds before when we're supposed to be.

Still, it's probably a measurement error.

joeyespo 1 day ago 2 replies      
From the release, there's a live webcast going on right now (16:00 CEST, Sept 23) at: http://webcast.cern.ch/
jchrisa 1 day ago 1 reply      
lotsa basic FTL stuff here if people wanna get a broad picture http://www.weburbia.com/physics/FTL.html
simplegeek 1 day ago 5 replies      
Guys, I'm sorry I missed this recent news but I've a question that I hope some people can answer for me. So does this mean that Einstein's theory might not hold? Do we see any well-established theories break as result of this? I'm totally naive about this but curious so any answers will be appreciated.
TeMPOraL 20 hours ago 0 replies      
http://xkcd.com/812/ - relevant xkcd.
mladenkovacevic 1 day ago 3 replies      
A great article on various disagreements between Tesla's and Einstein's view of the physical world.


Will Tesla have the last laugh?

hernan7 1 day ago 2 replies      
Do they at any time say how much faster than light are those neutrinos moving? 1% faster? 100 times faster? I couldn't see that info anywhere.
Symmetry 1 day ago 0 replies      
The path from the things people observed to "and neutrinos travel faster than light" travels down a long string of inferences. Inferences about the equipment working properly and inferences about other aspects of physical law.

Most likely this is a problem with the equipment. I'm sort of hoping that some other aspect of our knowledge of physics has been revealed to be off, though, since that is where real progress comes from.

It might even be that the most straightforward but most improbable case is right, and these neutrinos actually are traveling faster than light. That would be awesome, but also terrifying since then its only a matter of technology to get a device that would permit communication with the past.

gfaremil 1 day ago 1 reply      
Does anybody know why they were doing this experiment (measuring speed fo neutrinos) at all? Were they assuming that neutrinos travel faster than speed of light in the first place?
shimsham 1 day ago 0 replies      
inches vs centimetres. damn those units.
mrb 1 day ago 2 replies      
My SWAG: the relativist effect of time being slowed down in Earth's gravity was not taken into account. (Time is slowed down, therefore neutrinos appear to arrive 60ns "early".)

They spent a lot of time triple checking the accuracy of their instruments without seemingly thinking about higher level factors such as the Theory of relativity...
http://static.arxiv.org/pdf/1109.4897.pdf Of course there are 99% chances I am wrong, but just throwing this out there :)

SPDY: What I Like About You bitsup.blogspot.com
204 points by robin_reala  1 day ago   38 comments top 8
wladimir 1 day ago 1 reply      
He forgot one: SPDY is a bidirectional protocol, finally asynchronous notifications from server-side can be delivered without hacks such as long-polling or separate connection like websockets. This is long overdue. Huray!
ck2 1 day ago 1 reply      
I look forward to SPDY support in Firefox. Now web server software needs to keep up.

It took me (years?) to upgrade from Firefox 3.x to 6, but then only a week to upgrade to 7.

6 to 7 was seamless and added handy features - so I am changing my mind on the rapid release schedule as long as extensions aren't broken (often).

(7 is in release candidate build 2 already, give it a shot - it feels insanely fast)

icebraining 1 day ago 1 reply      
One thing I dislike about SSL (and SPDY by extension) is that it destroys shared caching. My college has a transparent Squid proxy which they use to block Rapidshare/Megaupload, but also to cache static content, and it does speed them up significantly (latency to the US can be a bitch sometimes).

I guess the upsides make up for it, but I have a feeling we wouldn't need CDNs so badly if HTTP caching was used at ISP level.

udp 1 day ago 2 replies      
SPDY is indeed always over SSL, but it requires TLS NPN (Next Protocol Negotiation), making it impossible to implement with older versions of OpenSSL or with any version of the Windows SChannel API.

This doesn't make it a particularly inviting protocol to use. I'd have to switch my entire SChannel layer for OpenSSL on Windows, and probably link statically to the version of OpenSSL with NPN on *nix.

Corrado 1 day ago 1 reply      
I really like SPDY and welcome including more clients on the bandwagon, but where are the server implementations? Nginx is quite popular as of late but it doesn't plan to implement SPDY any time soon. There is mod-spdy for Apache but it is still experimental and there doesn't seem to be support in IIS or LigHTTPd at all. :(
TamDenholm 1 day ago 0 replies      
For those, like me, that didnt know what SPDY was.
StavrosK 1 day ago 1 reply      
Does anyone know how SPDY ensures backward-compatibility? How does an SPDY-enabled browser detect a non-SPDY-enabled server without getting it confused?
Zash 1 day ago 2 replies      
There is this thing called Stream Control Transmission Protocol (SCTP) already, which does sort of what SPDY does, without breaking the OSI model. Ie multiple concurrent streams over a single session.

Not sure how it interacts with SSL/TLS thou.

Running a startup on Haskell github.com
204 points by DanielRibeiro  4 days ago   70 comments top 13
michaelschade 4 days ago 1 reply      
For background, Bryan gave this talk at the excellent Strange Loop 2011 conference (https://thestrangeloop.com/).

Abstract: https://thestrangeloop.com/sessions/running-a-startup-on-has...

He also gave a workshop on Sunday (which I unfortunately was not able to attend): https://thestrangeloop.com/sessions/haskell-functional-progr...

socratic 4 days ago 10 replies      

  I must hunt down and learn to use a QuickCheck-like library for my language.

If I can't find one, I should write one.

So what's the (best) equivalent of QuickCheck in Ruby? In other languages?

scarmig 4 days ago 2 replies      
It appears he's teaching a course at Stanford on Haskell starting next week, MW later in the afternoons.

Taking a class just to learn a language is a bit dodgy, but Haskell is probably a forgivable exception.

thurn 4 days ago 1 reply      
Interesting that he comes down in favor of Snap. I've been looking at the Snap vs. Yesod question for my own projects, lately, and there's interesting arguments both ways. Yesod is big and comprehensive, with four or five custom DSLs that have compilers implemented in Template Haskell. Snap is tiny, really just a routing engine and server with a small template library tacked on.

Yesod reminds me of Rails, while Snap reminds me of Servlets + JSP.

abhijitr 4 days ago 6 replies      
Can anyone comment on the claim "QuickCheck is shockingly more effective at finding bugs than unit tests"? I'd be interested in hearing other opinions.
narain 4 days ago 2 replies      
So what is "the best compiler bug ever" (slide 31)?
hristov 4 days ago 4 replies      
It is pretty disappointing that they decided to go with c# for the local client. This pretty much guarantees that it will not work on Linux.
tel 4 days ago 1 reply      
Anyone know what the "best compiler bug of all time" was?
pragmatic 3 days ago 0 replies      
Any reason to use C# instead of F#, considering F# is more functional?

Wonder if it has something to do with COM...

shogunmike 3 days ago 1 reply      
I really like the idea of QuickCheck. Presumably it is -best- used in conjunction with unit testing. It seems to me though that it would be suitable mainly for numeric type code, given the random nature of the inputs?
olliesaunders 4 days ago 0 replies      
A related talk: http://vimeo.com/27192476 (video
dubya 3 days ago 1 reply      
What is Reshaper in slide 35? Google suggests ReSharper, which seems more likely, since searching just for reshaper finds a pretty goofy product.
hugues 4 days ago 1 reply      
Hackers News is boring because of this type of post. What is the purpose of your link?
John Carmack coded Quake on a 28-inch 16:9 1080p monitor in 1995 geek.com
198 points by ukdm  4 days ago   92 comments top 21
guelo 4 days ago 4 replies      
It's really sad how it seems like we're stuck with the 1080p craze for monitors, we've made negative progress in this area, it's becoming really hard to find higher resolutions. Which is weird because normally computer marketing is to absurd levels all about bigger numbers, but the HDTV crap has apparently trained everybody that 1080p is the ultimate in video. Luckily mobile seems to have dodged the HDTV bullet and they're competing on DPI.
illumen 3 days ago 2 replies      
There's lots to learn from Mr Carmack, and other impressive programmers for that matter.

He had/has an amazing talent for producing truly great work at great speed. Is it just magic that he can do this? Or does he have techniques that help him?

It seems obvious, but great tools help a great craftsman. So can great methods. He combined so many techniques from different disciplines.

What tools can a developer use today that propel them above what others are doing? If you're just using a standard issue macbook at this point, your tools are not better than what others are using.

His techniques for focusing on development tasks are also very useful. It boils down to a bubble sorted todo list, constantly refined and structured for high throughput.

I also like his approach to C, and learned a lot about being pragmatic and keeping things simple. For example, his approach to file io. He would read in a whole file at once, rather than reading chunks at a time. This was at a time, when most file readers were mixing file io in with their parsing code - making them slower and more complicated.

His business techniques have always been amazing to watch too. Like how he used blogging in the 90s to gain a wide audience. As well as doing demo software for shareware. Finally his move into space craft after his successful game development career has been inspirational too.

ck2 4 days ago 5 replies      
Sony FW900, last, best CRT ever made (that was affordable).

23 inch 16:10 CRT, 1920x1200 - weighs nearly 100 pounds and draws 150 watts if I remember correctly.

Originally like $2000, down to $300 at the end (refurbished).

Had variable phosphorus pitch, denser at the corners and an internal cpu adjusted the corners to correct for (earth?) magnetic field.

Only went to LCD when mine finally died and there was no one who could repair it and getting another was out of the question because shipping prices have gone through the roof.

There is a huge fan thread on them in [H]ardForum with lots of photos.

The colors on them are unbelievable.

andrewf 4 days ago 1 reply      
I doubt this is Quake in 1995. Maybe WinQuake / QuakeWorld / GLQuake, or even Quake2.

* It looks like Visual Studio on a post-Windows-3.x GUI, which means Windows 95 (unlikely) or Windows NT 4+ (1996 or later)

* Quake was developed on NeXTSTEP and DOS.

* John Carmack blogged (well, as close as you'd come to it in those days) that he was going to start looking at Win32 in the "near future" on Jul 1, 1996: http://www.team5150.com/~andrew/carmack/johnc_plan_1996.html...

cellularmitosis 4 days ago 8 replies      
Ugh. Dear intarweb, please stop trying to outsmart safari on iOS. It works just fine as-is. We don't need your fancy-pants JavaScript-based paging implementations.
pmjordan 4 days ago 1 reply      
"I wonder what Carmack uses now? Whatever it is, he could probably have several of them hooked up to a machine each running at 1920 x 1080 and still come nowhere near close to drawing 180 watts."

That's a little optimistic. The 27" and 30" TFTs which are becoming increasingly commonplace consume upwards of 100W, at least at or near full brightness so you'd only need about 2.

biot 4 days ago 2 replies      
That reminds me of this: http://xkcd.com/732/

Speaking of which, what is the highest resolution monitor available today that isn't outrageously expensive? Apple's 2560x1440 Thunderbolt/Cinema display is nice. Any WQUXGA (3840x2400) monitors available like Toshiba's $18000 one[0] but that don't come with a "medical imaging" price tag?

[0] http://www.theinquirer.net/inquirer/news/1032529/toshiba-lau...

prawn 4 days ago 0 replies      
This would bring back some expensive memories for a few on HN I'm sure. I remember, as a multimedia trainee in around 1996-97, buying a 21" NEC CRT for $2,200 second hand. I couldn't give it away today, so it sits in the shed along with a few other CRTs.

Seeing Frank Pritchard's CRT "sculpture" in Deus Ex: Human Revolution certainly made me think...

awongh 4 days ago 3 replies      
does anyone know what those glasses they show at the bottom are for? And that strange looking charging station thingy?

Also, the monitor, by itself was $10k back in the day: http://www.thefreelibrary.com/New+Ultra-Wide+Format+Monitor+...

spektom 3 days ago 0 replies      
Here's the answer to the question "what monitor does he use now?":


ethank 4 days ago 0 replies      
I loved my Intergraph. I had a TDZ-2000 but for monitors I had a Sony GDM-F500 monitor, which was amazing and weighed a ton.

For a bit I had SGI 1600 LCD, but it required a special video card which died.

The Intergraph TDZ-2000 was a great computer though. I bought a floors model after Siggraph in 1999 or 2000. They were pricey: http://www.digitalvideoediting.com/Htm/Articles/intergraph_g...

ohboy 3 days ago 0 replies      
Why is a 1080p monitor for 1995 "amazing"? It was quite common for 21" monitors to be 1600x1200 and 1920x1080 isn't a giant leap from that. I picked up a cheap 21" CRT capable of 1600x1200 in the late 90s and I'm no John Carmack.

I think it's because that sounds amazing to average consumers, who were lucky to have 1024x768 on a dot pitch better than 0.28, but why is this on geek.com? Shouldn't most of their readers remember having large, heavy monitors in the 90s? Really makes me wonder what Matthew Humphries (author of that story) was using in 1995.

CRTs weren't like LCDs, the image didn't push off the side if you pushed the resolution too far, you could pretty much push them as far as they could go until you couldn't read it anymore or until it became all vertical lines. Ah, the good ole days...

WalterBright 3 days ago 2 replies      
I have a hard time believing today how much code I wrote years ago on a 24*80 tty.
chrissnell 4 days ago 0 replies      
I had a SGI 1600SW LCD and a Sony FW900 CRT on my desk in 1998. That was a bitchin' desktop setup back then. The SGI required this special graphics card from Number Nine, which ended up going bankrupt, thus ending driver availability. Even by today's standards, the quality of the SGI display was outstanding.

Still, one of the most expenses displays I've seen belonged to a dorm mate of mine in 1993. He had a 20" CRT (Viewsonic maybe?) that was connected with four component cables to a Matrox video card. I'm sure that it would be laughable today but damn, in 1993 that thing was unbelievable.

gallerytungsten 4 days ago 0 replies      
I had an Intergraph machine like that back in the day. Same giant case, except in blue. I think that one was dual Pentium II, 400MHz, running Windows NT 3.5 or so. Came with a fast array too and a similar keyboard.
sifi 4 days ago 4 replies      
Anyone know what machine he was using? I guess it was some SGI machine but it didn't say the exact model.
baddox 4 days ago 1 reply      
Was 1080p relatively unheard of in 1995? What about 16:9 displays in general?
zandorg 4 days ago 3 replies      
I like the way it looks like his hands are a blur, for moving so fast.
zbuc 3 days ago 0 replies      
That was a $10,000 monitor back in the day. Seriously.

"The InterView 28hd96 Color Monitor is priced at $9,995 (U.S. List) and will be available in May 1997."

Source: http://www.allbusiness.com/government/government-bodies-offi...

kenotic 3 days ago 0 replies      
I never cease to be amazed by Carmack.
swah 4 days ago 0 replies      
Also, Diet Coke.
       cached 25 September 2011 04:11:01 GMT