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Rob Pike: Dennis Ritchie has died google.com
1796 points by fogus  2 days ago   193 comments top 81
steveb 2 days ago 6 replies      
There are several billion people using many billions of devices every day.

From the code in your microwave to massive computing clusters, virtually all of our software can trace its ancestry back to this man's intellectual output.

I'm eternally grateful for his life and contributions to humanity.

5hoom 2 days ago 3 replies      
This is really sad. Dennis Ritchie has made an incalculably huge contribution to the tech world.

I know most here would be aware, but he is a father of both Unix and the C language, technologies which are the basis for nearly everything we as developers do. He helped write K&R, which many regard as _the_ book for C programming.

This is the passing of a legend. Sincerest condolences to his family and friends.

InclinedPlane 2 days ago 1 reply      
If you have used technology of any sort over the last few decades there's a pretty decent chance that you've used technology that Steve Jobs had a significant impact on.

But the chances are 100.00% that you've used technology Dennis Ritchie has had a deeply profound impact on.

rkalla 2 days ago 2 replies      
I wonder how many people here got to know Ritchie through "The C Programming Language", I am sure half of us have it on our shelves.

It is amazing how many lives a single person can touch directly and indirectly.

I hope Ritchie passed away knowing the unforgettable contribution he made to the world as we all move forward on a platform he set down for us more than 30 years ago.

What an awesome legacy to leave behind. Thank you Dennis.

luckydude 1 day ago 3 replies      
Any chance we could get the guy who did the Steve Jobs Apple logo to take a wack at doing one for Dennis?

I've never met Dennis but I've talked to him on the phone a bit, and exchanged a pile of email over the years, all about various Unix topics. Though I was nobody, he was always polite, always patient, always willing to pass on knowledge. I'm quite grateful to him for taking the time to exchange ideas and polish them.

bwk is the same way. We were working on extending awk to be, well, different (we made awk scripts be part of awk, so any statement could be a script and it could pipe to another script). I talked bwk about the idea and asked if I could do on top of his awk and the next day a tarball showed up of ~bwk/awk, had the source, all the regressions, the source the awk book, everything.

I love these guys, they did a lot of things I admire.

bootload 2 days ago 3 replies      

    #include <stdio.h> 
printf("goodbye, world\n");

DanielRibeiro 2 days ago 0 replies      
To remember[1]:

Dennis MacAlistair Ritchie was an American computer scientist notable for developing C and for having influence on other programming languages, as well as operating systems such as Multics and Unix.

He received the Turing Award in 1983 and the National Medal of Technology 1998 on April 21, 1999. Ritchie was the head of Lucent Technologies System Software Research Department when he retired in 2007.

"C is quirky, flawed, and an enormous success."

- Dennis Ritchie, on The Development of the C Language[2]

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

[2] http://cm.bell-labs.com/cm/cs/who/dmr/chist.html

Shenglong 2 days ago 0 replies      
Black bar, definitely deserved. Thanks pg.
dgallagher 2 days ago 0 replies      
His brother was superintendent while I was in high school. We asked him to invite dmr to come in and give a speech once, but understandingly dmr was too busy and had to decline. If dmr was anything like his brother, he was a great person and will be missed greatly. RIP, you changed the world for the better.
protomyth 2 days ago 0 replies      
I learned BASIC and 6502 assembly in high school then went to college where the main language was Modula-2 on an IBM 370. I hated Modula-2 and wondered how people actually wrote those cool programs on PCs. It just seems like all the possibilities of assembly really weren't there. It just seemed wrong.

Took an optional language class in C which used the K&R C book (draft ANSI C edition) taught on the VAX and was finally able to say "Oh, I get it now". Bought Turbo C 2.0 and had a blast.

This is just a truly sucky month.

kiba 2 days ago 2 replies      
70 years. That's a long time to be alive! He was born in the middle of WW2, lived through the cold war, seen the collapse of the soviet union, etc.

Me? I was born around the time the Linux OS hatched and the internet is starting to open up.

johnohara 1 day ago 0 replies      
For some odd reason I pulled my 1978 version of The C Programming Language off the shelf and it's been on my desk for the past few weeks.

Beneath the copyright notice it reads:

"This book was set in Times Roman and Courier 12 by the authors, using a Graphic Systems phototypesetter driven by a PDP-11/70 running under the UNIX operating system."

Probably on a VT100 with drafts printed on a DECWriter.

Quiet. Brilliant. Deliberate. Influential. Modest.

May you rest in peace.

ctdonath 2 days ago 2 replies      
latch 2 days ago 0 replies      
I used to read The C Programming Language every year. As a amateur tech-writer, it has influenced me greatly (that and _why's work).
moeffju 1 day ago 1 reply      
Just looking at the stuff on my desk, the only things Dennis Ritchie has not directly or indirectly contributed to are two photos, a pair of scissors, a screwdriver and a salami.

Cellphone? Check. Harddisks? Screens? USB devices? TAN generator? Wacom tablet? Applet remote? Mac mini? MacBook Pro? Camera? Check, check, check.

Thanks, Dennis Ritchie, for helping to create the foundations of computing as we know it.

jburwell 2 days ago 0 replies      
Two visi0naries lost in one week. Unfortunately, Dennis Ritchie's passing will not get the level of coverage of Steve Jobs, but he deserves it. Without his critical contributions, the UNIX core of Steve Jobs' great products could not exist ...
drallison 2 days ago 0 replies      
Dennis was a friend. It is very sad to learn of his passing. We are all indebted to him for his many contributions to the field.
maayank 2 days ago 0 replies      
While I dabbled with the language before, The C Programming Language book was a true eye opener for me. Grokking it truly paved the way for my programming career.

RIP Dennis Ritchie.

navs 1 day ago 0 replies      
I'll have to admit, I didn't know who Dennis Ritchie was. I remember seeing his name on the Unix Haters Handbook but that was it.
Noticing the black bar, I googled and now, I'm enlightened. It's a pity many will never know his name or his contributions but if it means anything, this here Computer Science student would like to say Thank You Mr. Ritchie for all you've done.
irrumator 2 days ago 0 replies      
One of the most influential people in the world whose contributions were immense. He will be sorely missed.
Hitchhiker 2 days ago 0 replies      
#include <stdio.h>

printf("Thank you for creating me\n");

Sindisil 2 days ago 0 replies      

That hit me harder than I would have thought possible.

The family of man is poorer for his passing, regardless of how few may know why.

Wow. I don't know if I'm at a loss for words, or have too much to say, but I'm really having a hard time putting my thoughts into a brief post.

Rest in peace, dmr.

jbondeson 2 days ago 0 replies      
It almost seems impossible to imagine men like Ritchie leaving us. His efforts helped usher in the modern computing age.

While he is no longer with us in person, may his legacy never be forgotten by those of use who have had the honor to stand on his titanic shoulders.

Truly he will be missed.

ltamake 2 days ago 1 reply      
Very sad. His contributions to the world were huge. RIP.
sharmajai 1 day ago 0 replies      
C, like thousands of other computer science students, was the first language I learnt.

I have always felt that a language is only as popular as the niche it serves. For C that niche started out as OS implementation and expanded into driver programming, UI programming, embedded systems programming, graphics programming, and many many more disciplines.

There was Fortran and PL/1 before C, what made C so popular? I will let dmr's friend Brian Kernighan answer it:

C is perhaps the best balance of expressiveness and efficiency that has ever been seen in programming languages. At the time it was developed, efficiency mattered a great deal: machines were slow and had small memories, so one had to get close to the efficiency of assembler. C did this for system programming tasks--writing compilers, operating systems and tools. It was so close to the machine that you could see what the code would be (and it wasn't hard to write a good compiler), but it still was safely above the instruction level and a good enough match to all machines that one didn't think about specific tricks for specific machines. Once C came along, there no longer was any reason for any normal programmer to use assembly language. It's still my favorite language; if I were marooned on a desert island with only one compiler, it would have to be for C.[1]

If I have to pick one reason for C's popularity, it would be pointers (both function and data) alongwith type casting. IMHO this was the combination that not only gave you full control of the underlying hardware (other languages had done that too) but most importantly it enabled other programming paradigms, (functional, object oriented etc.), while doing that.

Thanks for introducing us to the wonderful world of computer programming. RIP DMR.

1. http://www.linuxjournal.com/article/7035

rbanffy 2 days ago 1 reply      
I noticed every computer around me, be it a laptop, a phone, a TV or a router, runs some kind of Unix.
zizee 2 days ago 0 replies      
I'm didn't know the man but it's always sad to see one of the greats fall.

I seem to have mislaid my copy of the 'The C Programming Language', which is a shame as it is one of the few of the many programming books I have purchased over the years that continues to be relevant in this fast changing (and exiting) field.

RIP dmr, my condolences to your family and friends. You will be missed and your contributions appreciated by hackers the world over.

desireco42 2 days ago 0 replies      
black stripe on top of hacker news is really nice touch out of respect
srl 2 days ago 0 replies      
c--; /* to echo a sentiment expressed on g+ */
scrrr 1 day ago 1 reply      
When I was a student a professor joked that computer science wasn't really a science because all its founders were still alive. Well, now it certainly must be one.
glhaynes 2 days ago 0 replies      
An exemplar of elegance and clear thought. RIP and thank you.
peteri 1 day ago 0 replies      
I read K&R at university in 1986 and found it to be a model of clarity, spent a year supporting Turbo C for Borland when it was first released (that improved my language knowledge no end)

Biggest problem was the first Turbo C compiler folded floating point constant division back to front which makes one of the early programs in K&R (Centigrade to Farenheit conversion) fail. That got fixed fairly quickly.

He leaves behind a truly amazing legacy of C, *nix and the K&R book.

Mithrandir 2 days ago 0 replies      
I wish I could say I met the man, but it doesn't really matter to me because in a way I've got to kinda know him indirectly through his work; through UNIX-likes and what little I know of C.

So RIP, you crazy tinkerer.

packetslave 2 days ago 0 replies      
Didn't know him personally, but his work has been an inspiration to me for nearly 20 years. RIP.
spodek 2 days ago 0 replies      
His great works had such amazing style -- simple, elegant, meaningful, effective. I think this sentence, which he not only co-authored but also executed on, summarizes it in plain English, all the more so when you read it from the small book in your hands.

"C is not a big language, and it is not well served by a big book."

These words have guided my writing as much as anything in Elements of Style.

djmdjm 2 days ago 0 replies      
It's a testament to the quality and reach of his vision that these words are coming to you via systems that recognisably Unix and written in C _40 years_ after Ritchie (and colleagues) created their progenitors. His work has literally defined generations of operating systems and languages and seems likely to continue to do so for some time. What a great...
greenyoda 1 day ago 0 replies      
Goodbye, Dennis. It's been just over 30 years since I picked up K&R and started programming in C and using 7th Edition Unix on a PDP-11/45. And C is still among the languages I program in today. You'll be missed.
josephcooney 2 days ago 0 replies      
very sad. I love the writing style of 'The C Programming Language'
jmags 2 days ago 0 replies      
While this is very sad, I think he would have wanted us to remember that working in a field so young that you have occasion to mourn people who built its foundations is inherently exciting.
simon 2 days ago 0 replies      
DMR was one of my heroes. Rest In Peace Sir.

I learned C from the first edition of K&R back in 1989 (iirc) on an Atari ST using the Sozobon C compiler. Happy memories (except for learning to combine pointers and loops and null terminated strings correctly! :-)

grosales 1 day ago 0 replies      
I still remember the first time I picked up K&R. I tried my best to devour it. The technical prose makes the book a tour de force.
Every time I write a new "hello world" program from now on, I will add a "Thanks dmr" at the end.
May you rest in peace dmr.
OctaneOps 1 day ago 0 replies      
RIP. His life exemplifies:

“Sharing knowledge is not about giving people something, or getting something from them. That is only valid for information sharing. Sharing Knowledge occurs when people are genuinely interested in helping one another develop new capacities for action; it is about creating learning processes.”- Peter Senge

flipper 1 day ago 0 replies      
To paraphrase the epitaph of Sir Christopher Wren - if you seek his monument, log in.
sajid 1 day ago 1 reply      
This has been a sad week.

Whenever I'm learning a new language, I always look for but fail to find a book with the clarity, conciseness and completeness of K&R.

revorad 1 day ago 0 replies      
Condolences to family and friends. C was my first programming language. Owe a lot to this man.

What a sad week.

DodgyEggplant 2 days ago 0 replies      
RIP. It seems they are into a big project up there.
baabuu 14 hours ago 0 replies      
RIP Dennis.

I was an uninterested Computer science student bored with writing stupid BASIC programs. Then I got introduced to C which made me realize what studying computers is all about. Then I got to know Unix and Linux. I still remember the day I got my Unix login. I was the first student to get one! My college projects (Linux clusters, routers), my geek friends, my first job and my professional life - all got started by learning C & Unix in a remote university lab thousands of miles away. I'm sure this is a story shared by millions. Thanks dmr! You are a legend!

jasiek 1 day ago 0 replies      
I remember attending one of his lectures on Plan 9 back in 1996 at Bell Labs. It's a shame he's gone now.
gsivil 1 day ago 0 replies      
K&R is the only book that I have currently three copies. Two editions in English and one in Greek. RIP DR
chugger 2 days ago 0 replies      
Oh god. Another legend I truly admire. :(
rooshdi 1 day ago 0 replies      
"I'm not a person who particularly had heros when growing up."

Thank you for being one of ours, RIP Dennis

breadbox 2 days ago 0 replies      
Very sad. RIP, dmr.
0x12 1 day ago 0 replies      
It's a sad month.
sixtofour 2 days ago 0 replies      
I still have K&R on my shelf.

Thank you, DMR.

amanicdroid 1 day ago 0 replies      
Because of Dennis Ritchie I can type these words and others can read them.


_THE_PLAGUE 2 days ago 0 replies      
The K&R textbook is still my programming "bible". I don't use C on a regular basis, or at least as not as much as I'd like to, but still refer to it, even so. IMO, people should learn C first - teaches the right principles.
1337p337 2 days ago 0 replies      
The |s, the |s are calling.
robert_nsu 2 days ago 0 replies      
RIP Dennis Ritchie.
I can't honestly say that I've spent an entire day at work over the last five years without looking at something that was either created by him or inspired from his work.
mkramlich 1 day ago 0 replies      
two weeks in a row...
raymondh 2 days ago 0 replies      
Goodbye Dennis. You were a giant. You'll be missed.
teja1990 1 day ago 0 replies      
I you have ever used a computer or any programming language , it means that you used some thing that has Dennis Ritchie's impact.
codehalo 2 days ago 0 replies      
Dennis Ritchie. Hello World. May he rest in peace.
icehawk 2 days ago 0 replies      
How sad. RIP, dmr.
just4DMR 2 days ago 0 replies      
Rest in Peace, Dennis MacAlistair Ritchie. True Hacker Knight, Shinning Armor.

This is just for you. You will be missed.

petegrif 1 day ago 0 replies      
This is an unusually good piece.
giis 2 days ago 0 replies      
thanks Ritchie,for your great contribution, Without you ,I'm sure,we won't be what we are now. RIP.
stellzzz 18 hours ago 0 replies      
Мир пра...у твоему, пусть земля будет пу...ом. /* Рус. /
Rest In Peace /
Eng. */
kang 1 day ago 0 replies      
Father of modern software
velagale 1 day ago 0 replies      
RIP Mr.Ritchie !
jianxioy 2 days ago 0 replies      
Rest in peace.
nikhizzle 1 day ago 0 replies      
int main(int argc, char argv[])
 struct passwd
pw = getpwnam('dmr');
resnamen 2 days ago 0 replies      
deepinit_a 1 day ago 0 replies      
We owe You Dennis...
berserkpi 1 day ago 0 replies      
RIP master.
unfletch 2 days ago 0 replies      
cyber_lis 1 day ago 0 replies      
I'm really sad...
jerrysievert 2 days ago 0 replies      
kachnuv_ocasek 1 day ago 0 replies      
I'm far more struck by this than Steve Jobs' death.
goodnight 2 days ago 5 replies      
RIP Dennis. Now that's a guy worth mourning about.

I'll check CNN and the BBC to see their special reports, surely if they had them when some marketing CEO kicked the bucket they'll give at least ten times the amount of coverage to a man who was 100 times his better!

Steve's Google Platform rant google.com
1148 points by tRAS  2 days ago   383 comments top 63
pitdesi 2 days ago  replies      
It now 404's so I've posted it here:

Stevey's Google Platforms Rant

I was at Amazon for about six and a half years, and now I've been at Google for that long. One thing that struck me immediately about the two companies -- an impression that has been reinforced almost daily -- is that Amazon does everything wrong, and Google does everything right. Sure, it's a sweeping generalization, but a surprisingly accurate one. It's pretty crazy. There are probably a hundred or even two hundred different ways you can compare the two companies, and Google is superior in all but three of them, if I recall correctly. I actually did a spreadsheet at one point but Legal wouldn't let me show it to anyone, even though recruiting loved it.

I mean, just to give you a very brief taste: Amazon's recruiting process is fundamentally flawed by having teams hire for themselves, so their hiring bar is incredibly inconsistent across teams, despite various efforts they've made to level it out. And their operations are a mess; they don't really have SREs and they make engineers pretty much do everything, which leaves almost no time for coding - though again this varies by group, so it's luck of the draw. They don't give a single shit about charity or helping the needy or community contributions or anything like that. Never comes up there, except maybe to laugh about it. Their facilities are dirt-smeared cube farms without a dime spent on decor or common meeting areas. Their pay and benefits suck, although much less so lately due to local competition from Google and Facebook. But they don't have any of our perks or extras -- they just try to match the offer-letter numbers, and that's the end of it. Their code base is a disaster, with no engineering standards whatsoever except what individual teams choose to put in place.

To be fair, they do have a nice versioned-library system that we really ought to emulate, and a nice publish-subscribe system that we also have no equivalent for. But for the most part they just have a bunch of crappy tools that read and write state machine information into relational databases. We wouldn't take most of it even if it were free.

I think the pubsub system and their library-shelf system were two out of the grand total of three things Amazon does better than google.

I guess you could make an argument that their bias for launching early and iterating like mad is also something they do well, but you can argue it either way. They prioritize launching early over everything else, including retention and engineering discipline and a bunch of other stuff that turns out to matter in the long run. So even though it's given them some competitive advantages in the marketplace, it's created enough other problems to make it something less than a slam-dunk.

But there's one thing they do really really well that pretty much makes up for ALL of their political, philosophical and technical screw-ups.

Jeff Bezos is an infamous micro-manager. He micro-manages every single pixel of Amazon's retail site. He hired Larry Tesler, Apple's Chief Scientist and probably the very most famous and respected human-computer interaction expert in the entire world, and then ignored every goddamn thing Larry said for three years until Larry finally -- wisely -- left the company. Larry would do these big usability studies and demonstrate beyond any shred of doubt that nobody can understand that frigging website, but Bezos just couldn't let go of those pixels, all those millions of semantics-packed pixels on the landing page. They were like millions of his own precious children. So they're all still there, and Larry is not.

Micro-managing isn't that third thing that Amazon does better than us, by the way. I mean, yeah, they micro-manage really well, but I wouldn't list it as a strength or anything. I'm just trying to set the context here, to help you understand what happened. We're talking about a guy who in all seriousness has said on many public occasions that people should be paying him to work at Amazon. He hands out little yellow stickies with his name on them, reminding people "who runs the company" when they disagree with him. The guy is a regular... well, Steve Jobs, I guess. Except without the fashion or design sense. Bezos is super smart; don't get me wrong. He just makes ordinary control freaks look like stoned hippies.

So one day Jeff Bezos issued a mandate. He's doing that all the time, of course, and people scramble like ants being pounded with a rubber mallet whenever it happens. But on one occasion -- back around 2002 I think, plus or minus a year -- he issued a mandate that was so out there, so huge and eye-bulgingly ponderous, that it made all of his other mandates look like unsolicited peer bonuses.

His Big Mandate went something along these lines:

1) All teams will henceforth expose their data and functionality through service interfaces.

2) Teams must communicate with each other through these interfaces.

3) There will be no other form of interprocess communication allowed: no direct linking, no direct reads of another team's data store, no shared-memory model, no back-doors whatsoever. The only communication allowed is via service interface calls over the network.

4) It doesn't matter what technology they use. HTTP, Corba, Pubsub, custom protocols -- doesn't matter. Bezos doesn't care.

5) All service interfaces, without exception, must be designed from the ground up to be externalizable. That is to say, the team must plan and design to be able to expose the interface to developers in the outside world. No exceptions.

6) Anyone who doesn't do this will be fired.

7) Thank you; have a nice day!

Ha, ha! You 150-odd ex-Amazon folks here will of course realize immediately that #7 was a little joke I threw in, because Bezos most definitely does not give a shit about your day.

#6, however, was quite real, so people went to work. Bezos assigned a couple of Chief Bulldogs to oversee the effort and ensure forward progress, headed up by Uber-Chief Bear Bulldog Rick Dalzell. Rick is an ex-Armgy Ranger, West Point Academy graduate, ex-boxer, ex-Chief Torturer slash CIO at Wal*Mart, and is a big genial scary man who used the word "hardened interface" a lot. Rick was a walking, talking hardened interface himself, so needless to say, everyone made LOTS of forward progress and made sure Rick knew about it.

Over the next couple of years, Amazon transformed internally into a service-oriented architecture. They learned a tremendous amount while effecting this transformation. There was lots of existing documentation and lore about SOAs, but at Amazon's vast scale it was about as useful as telling Indiana Jones to look both ways before crossing the street. Amazon's dev staff made a lot of discoveries along the way. A teeny tiny sampling of these discoveries included:

- pager escalation gets way harder, because a ticket might bounce through 20 service calls before the real owner is identified. If each bounce goes through a team with a 15-minute response time, it can be hours before the right team finally finds out, unless you build a lot of scaffolding and metrics and reporting.

- every single one of your peer teams suddenly becomes a potential DOS attacker. Nobody can make any real forward progress until very serious quotas and throttling are put in place in every single service.

- monitoring and QA are the same thing. You'd never think so until you try doing a big SOA. But when your service says "oh yes, I'm fine", it may well be the case that the only thing still functioning in the server is the little component that knows how to say "I'm fine, roger roger, over and out" in a cheery droid voice. In order to tell whether the service is actually responding, you have to make individual calls. The problem continues recursively until your monitoring is doing comprehensive semantics checking of your entire range of services and data, at which point it's indistinguishable from automated QA. So they're a continuum.

- if you have hundreds of services, and your code MUST communicate with other groups' code via these services, then you won't be able to find any of them without a service-discovery mechanism. And you can't have that without a service registration mechanism, which itself is another service. So Amazon has a universal service registry where you can find out reflectively (programmatically) about every service, what its APIs are, and also whether it is currently up, and where.

- debugging problems with someone else's code gets a LOT harder, and is basically impossible unless there is a universal standard way to run every service in a debuggable sandbox.

That's just a very small sample. There are dozens, maybe hundreds of individual learnings like these that Amazon had to discover organically. There were a lot of wacky ones around externalizing services, but not as many as you might think. Organizing into services taught teams not to trust each other in most of the same ways they're not supposed to trust external developers.

This effort was still underway when I left to join Google in mid-2005, but it was pretty far advanced. From the time Bezos issued his edict through the time I left, Amazon had transformed culturally into a company that thinks about everything in a services-first fashion. It is now fundamental to how they approach all designs, including internal designs for stuff that might never see the light of day externally.

At this point they don't even do it out of fear of being fired. I mean, they're still afraid of that; it's pretty much part of daily life there, working for the Dread Pirate Bezos and all. But they do services because they've come to understand that it's the Right Thing. There are without question pros and cons to the SOA approach, and some of the cons are pretty long. But overall it's the right thing because SOA-driven design enables Platforms.

That's what Bezos was up to with his edict, of course. He didn't (and doesn't) care even a tiny bit about the well-being of the teams, nor about what technologies they use, nor in fact any detail whatsoever about how they go about their business unless they happen to be screwing up. But Bezos realized long before the vast majority of Amazonians that Amazon needs to be a platform.

You wouldn't really think that an online bookstore needs to be an extensible, programmable platform. Would you?

Well, the first big thing Bezos realized is that the infrastructure they'd built for selling and shipping books and sundry could be transformed an excellent repurposable computing platform. So now they have the Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud, and the Amazon Elastic MapReduce, and the Amazon Relational Database Service, and a whole passel' o' other services browsable at aws.amazon.com. These services host the backends for some pretty successful companies, reddit being my personal favorite of the bunch.

The other big realization he had was that he can't always build the right thing. I think Larry Tesler might have struck some kind of chord in Bezos when he said his mom couldn't use the goddamn website. It's not even super clear whose mom he was talking about, and doesn't really matter, because nobody's mom can use the goddamn website. In fact I myself find the website disturbingly daunting, and I worked there for over half a decade. I've just learned to kinda defocus my eyes and concentrate on the million or so pixels near the center of the page above the fold.

I'm not really sure how Bezos came to this realization -- the insight that he can't build one product and have it be right for everyone. But it doesn't matter, because he gets it. There's actually a formal name for this phenomenon. It's called Accessibility, and it's the most important thing in the computing world.

The. Most. Important. Thing.

If you're sorta thinking, "huh? You mean like, blind and deaf people Accessibility?" then you're not alone, because I've come to understand that there are lots and LOTS of people just like you: people for whom this idea does not have the right Accessibility, so it hasn't been able to get through to you yet. It's not your fault for not understanding, any more than it would be your fault for being blind or deaf or motion-restricted or living with any other disability. When software -- or idea-ware for that matter -- fails to be accessible to anyone for any reason, it is the fault of the software or of the messaging of the idea. It is an Accessibility failure.

Like anything else big and important in life, Accessibility has an evil twin who, jilted by the unbalanced affection displayed by their parents in their youth, has grown into an equally powerful Arch-Nemesis (yes, there's more than one nemesis to accessibility) named Security. And boy howdy are the two ever at odds.

But I'll argue that Accessibility is actually more important than Security because dialing Accessibility to zero means you have no product at all, whereas dialing Security to zero can still get you a reasonably successful product such as the Playstation Network.

So yeah. In case you hadn't noticed, I could actually write a book on this topic. A fat one, filled with amusing anecdotes about ants and rubber mallets at companies I've worked at. But I will never get this little rant published, and you'll never get it read, unless I start to wrap up.

That one last thing that Google doesn't do well is Platforms. We don't understand platforms. We don't "get" platforms. Some of you do, but you are the minority. This has become painfully clear to me over the past six years. I was kind of hoping that competitive pressure from Microsoft and Amazon and more recently Facebook would make us wake up collectively and start doing universal services. Not in some sort of ad-hoc, half-assed way, but in more or less the same way Amazon did it: all at once, for real, no cheating, and treating it as our top priority from now on.

But no. No, it's like our tenth or eleventh priority. Or fifteenth, I don't know. It's pretty low. There are a few teams who treat the idea very seriously, but most teams either don't think about it all, ever, or only a small percentage of them think about it in a very small way.

It's a big stretch even to get most teams to offer a stubby service to get programmatic access to their data and computations. Most of them think they're building products. And a stubby service is a pretty pathetic service. Go back and look at that partial list of learnings from Amazon, and tell me which ones Stubby gives you out of the box. As far as I'm concerned, it's none of them. Stubby's great, but it's like parts when you need a car.

A product is useless without a platform, or more precisely and accurately, a platform-less product will always be replaced by an equivalent platform-ized product.

Google+ is a prime example of our complete failure to understand platforms from the very highest levels of executive leadership (hi Larry, Sergey, Eric, Vic, howdy howdy) down to the very lowest leaf workers (hey yo). We all don't get it. The Golden Rule of platforms is that you Eat Your Own Dogfood. The Google+ platform is a pathetic afterthought. We had no API at all at launch, and last I checked, we had one measly API call. One of the team members marched in and told me about it when they launched, and I asked: "So is it the Stalker API?" She got all glum and said "Yeah." I mean, I was joking, but no... the only API call we offer is to get someone's stream. So I guess the joke was on me.

Microsoft has known about the Dogfood rule for at least twenty years. It's been part of their culture for a whole generation now. You don't eat People Food and give your developers Dog Food. Doing that is simply robbing your long-term platform value for short-term successes. Platforms are all about long-term thinking.

Google+ is a knee-jerk reaction, a study in short-term thinking, predicated on the incorrect notion that Facebook is successful because they built a great product. But that's not why they are successful. Facebook is successful because they built an entire constellation of products by allowing other people to do the work. So Facebook is different for everyone. Some people spend all their time on Mafia Wars. Some spend all their time on Farmville. There are hundreds or maybe thousands of different high-quality time sinks available, so there's something there for everyone.

Our Google+ team took a look at the aftermarket and said: "Gosh, it looks like we need some games. Let's go contract someone to, um, write some games for us." Do you begin to see how incredibly wrong that thinking is now? The problem is that we are trying to predict what people want and deliver it for them.

You can't do that. Not really. Not reliably. There have been precious few people in the world, over the entire history of computing, who have been able to do it reliably. Steve Jobs was one of them. We don't have a Steve Jobs here. I'm sorry, but we don't.

Larry Tesler may have convinced Bezos that he was no Steve Jobs, but Bezos realized that he didn't need to be a Steve Jobs in order to provide everyone with the right products: interfaces and workflows that they liked and felt at ease with. He just needed to enable third-party developers to do it, and it would happen automatically.

I apologize to those (many) of you for whom all this stuff I'm saying is incredibly obvious, because yeah. It's incredibly frigging obvious. Except we're not doing it. We don't get Platforms, and we don't get Accessibility. The two are basically the same thing, because platforms solve accessibility. A platform is accessibility.

So yeah, Microsoft gets it. And you know as well as I do how surprising that is, because they don't "get" much of anything, really. But they understand platforms as a purely accidental outgrowth of having started life in the business of providing platforms. So they have thirty-plus years of learning in this space. And if you go to msdn.com, and spend some time browsing, and you've never seen it before, prepare to be amazed. Because it's staggeringly huge. They have thousands, and thousands, and THOUSANDS of API calls. They have a HUGE platform. Too big in fact, because they can't design for squat, but at least they're doing it.

Amazon gets it. Amazon's AWS (aws.amazon.com) is incredible. Just go look at it. Click around. It's embarrassing. We don't have any of that stuff.

Apple gets it, obviously. They've made some fundamentally non-open choices, particularly around their mobile platform. But they understand accessibility and they understand the power of third-party development and they eat their dogfood. And you know what? They make pretty good dogfood. Their APIs are a hell of a lot cleaner than Microsoft's, and have been since time immemorial.

Facebook gets it. That's what really worries me. That's what got me off my lazy butt to write this thing. I hate blogging. I hate... plussing, or whatever it's called when you do a massive rant in Google+ even though it's a terrible venue for it but you do it anyway because in the end you really do want Google to be successful. And I do! I mean, Facebook wants me there, and it'd be pretty easy to just go. But Google is home, so I'm insisting that we have this little family intervention, uncomfortable as it might be.

After you've marveled at the platform offerings of Microsoft and Amazon, and Facebook I guess (I didn't look because I didn't want to get too depressed), head over to developers.google.com and browse a little. Pretty big difference, eh? It's like what your fifth-grade nephew might mock up if he were doing an assignment to demonstrate what a big powerful platform company might be building if all they had, resource-wise, was one fifth grader.

Please don't get me wrong here -- I know for a fact that the dev-rel team has had to FIGHT to get even this much available externally. They're kicking ass as far as I'm concerned, because they DO get platforms, and they are struggling heroically to try to create one in an environment that is at best platform-apathetic, and at worst often openly hostile to the idea.

I'm just frankly describing what developers.google.com looks like to an outsider. It looks childish. Where's the Maps APIs in there for Christ's sake? Some of the things in there are labs projects. And the APIs for everything I clicked were... they were paltry. They were obviously dog food. Not even good organic stuff. Compared to our internal APIs it's all snouts and horse hooves.

And also don't get me wrong about Google+. They're far from the only offenders. This is a cultural thing. What we have going on internally is basically a war, with the underdog minority Platformers fighting a more or less losing battle against the Mighty Funded Confident Producters.

Any teams that have successfully internalized the notion that they should be externally programmable platforms from the ground up are underdogs -- Maps and Docs come to mind, and I know GMail is making overtures in that direction. But it's hard for them to get funding for it because it's not part of our culture. Maestro's funding is a feeble thing compared to the gargantuan Microsoft Office programming platform: it's a fluffy rabbit versus a T-Rex. The Docs team knows they'll never be competitive with Office until they can match its scripting facilities, but they're not getting any resource love. I mean, I assume they're not, given that Apps Script only works in Spreadsheet right now, and it doesn't even have keyboard shortcuts as part of its API. That team looks pretty unloved to me.

Ironically enough, Wave was a great platform, may they rest in peace. But making something a platform is not going to make you an instant success. A platform needs a killer app. Facebook -- that is, the stock service they offer with walls and friends and such -- is the killer app for the Facebook Platform. And it is a very serious mistake to conclude that the Facebook App could have been anywhere near as successful without the Facebook Platform.

You know how people are always saying Google is arrogant? I'm a Googler, so I get as irritated as you do when people say that. We're not arrogant, by and large. We're, like, 99% Arrogance-Free. I did start this post -- if you'll reach back into distant memory -- by describing Google as "doing everything right". We do mean well, and for the most part when people say we're arrogant it's because we didn't hire them, or they're unhappy with our policies, or something along those lines. They're inferring arrogance because it makes them feel better.

But when we take the stance that we know how to design the perfect product for everyone, and believe you me, I hear that a lot, then we're being fools. You can attribute it to arrogance, or naivete, or whatever -- it doesn't matter in the end, because it's foolishness. There IS no perfect product for everyone.

And so we wind up with a browser that doesn't let you set the default font size. Talk about an affront to Accessibility. I mean, as I get older I'm actually going blind. For real. I've been nearsighted all my life, and once you hit 40 years old you stop being able to see things up close. So font selection becomes this life-or-death thing: it can lock you out of the product completely. But the Chrome team is flat-out arrogant here: they want to build a zero-configuration product, and they're quite brazen about it, and Fuck You if you're blind or deaf or whatever. Hit Ctrl-+ on every single page visit for the rest of your life.

It's not just them. It's everyone. The problem is that we're a Product Company through and through. We built a successful product with broad appeal -- our search, that is -- and that wild success has biased us.

Amazon was a product company too, so it took an out-of-band force to make Bezos understand the need for a platform. That force was their evaporating margins; he was cornered and had to think of a way out. But all he had was a bunch of engineers and all these computers... if only they could be monetized somehow... you can see how he arrived at AWS, in hindsight.

Microsoft started out as a platform, so they've just had lots of practice at it.

Facebook, though: they worry me. I'm no expert, but I'm pretty sure they started off as a Product and they rode that success pretty far. So I'm not sure exactly how they made the transition to a platform. It was a relatively long time ago, since they had to be a platform before (now very old) things like Mafia Wars could come along.

Maybe they just looked at us and asked: "How can we beat Google? What are they missing?"

The problem we face is pretty huge, because it will take a dramatic cultural change in order for us to start catching up. We don't do internal service-oriented platforms, and we just as equally don't do external ones. This means that the "not getting it" is endemic across the company: the PMs don't get it, the engineers don't get it, the product teams don't get it, nobody gets it. Even if individuals do, even if YOU do, it doesn't matter one bit unless we're treating it as an all-hands-on-deck emergency. We can't keep launching products and pretending we'll turn them into magical beautiful extensible platforms later. We've tried that and it's not working.

The Golden Rule of Platforms, "Eat Your Own Dogfood", can be rephrased as "Start with a Platform, and Then Use it for Everything." You can't just bolt it on later. Certainly not easily at any rate -- ask anyone who worked on platformizing MS Office. Or anyone who worked on platformizing Amazon. If you delay it, it'll be ten times as much work as just doing it correctly up front. You can't cheat. You can't have secret back doors for internal apps to get special priority access, not for ANY reason. You need to solve the hard problems up front.

I'm not saying it's too late for us, but the longer we wait, the closer we get to being Too Late.

I honestly don't know how to wrap this up. I've said pretty much everything I came here to say today. This post has been six years in the making. I'm sorry if I wasn't gentle enough, or if I misrepresented some product or team or person, or if we're actually doing LOTS of platform stuff and it just so happens that I and everyone I ever talk to has just never heard about it. I'm sorry.

But we've gotta start doing this right.

nirvana 2 days ago  replies      
I worked at Amazon from before Steve left to sometime later. I remember being excited when Larry Tessler was hired, and dismayed at the way he was treated. Everything Steve says about Amazon is true, only, it was much worse. Amazon was, by far, the worst employment experience I've ever had. I'm not saying that lightly, I worked for a dozen startups, a couple of which crashed hard in the most gut wrenchingly painful way you could imagine. (Though by far most of my experiences were positive.)

Amazon was a purely political environment where, if you weren't watching your back you'd get stabbed and become a rung in someone else's ladder. In our group, the manager had zero engineering experience (literally had gone to college to be a prison guard, somehow ended up "managing" programmers, though barely computer literate.) In fact, it was so bad that when I'd finally had enough, and quit[1] (because my transfer to the AWS team was blocked by the prison guard) I vowed never to work for anyone else, ever again. Which means, I had to do a startup.

Anyway, the SOA effort was in full swing when I was there. It was a pain, and it was a mess because every team did things differently and every API was different and based on different assumptions and written in a different language.

But I want to correct the misperception that this lead to AWS. It didn't. S3 was written by its own team, from scratch. At the time I was at Amazon, working on the retail site, none of Amazon.com was running on AWS. I know, when AWS was announced, with great fanfare, they said "the services that power Amazon.com can now power your business!" or words to that effect. This was a flat out lie. The only thing they shared was data centers and a standard hardware configuration. Even by the time I left, when AWS was running full steam ahead (and probably running Reddit already), none of Amazon.com was running on AWS, except for a few, small, experimental and relatively new projects. I'm sure more of it has been adopted now, but AWS was always a separate team (and a better managed one, from what I could see.)

Regarding Bezos's micromanagement: I do remember, one fall, in the run up to christmas, surfacing an issue with the site several times. My manager told me that his boss didn't want to change it, but I knew it was a bug. I went above his bosses head and told that guy (who was a Bezos report) about it. I even cced Bezos on an email about it, and of course, the VP chewed out his underling who chewed out his boss, who chewed out me.

Then, at 3AM, the night before I was supposed to fly out to visit my parents for thanksgiving at 10AM, I was awakened[2] and made to fix the problem. The problem I'd wanted to fix 2-3 months earlier. The problem I'd gotten chewed out for trying to surface but been told "won't fix" all the way up and down the chain of command. Because Bezos had gone to buy something on the site and had seen the problem himself. So, my thanksgiving trip was ruined, of course, and I had to do it- RIGHT THAT MINUTE- in the middle of the night.

The icing? After fixing it and going back to bed, and coming in the next day (which was a vacation day, mind you, as I was supposed to fly that day...) I got chewed out by my boss for coming in at 10am.

I don't know about you, but if you get woken up at 3am and spend 2 hours coding, you should be allowed to show up for work the next morning at 10am.

Bezos was right that it needed to be fixed. However, he must be a B player because his direct report was a C player who wouldn't let me fix it when it was discovered.

Yeah, I wouldn't recommend you go work at Amazon.[3]

Sorry if I've gotten off topic. It's rare that you can find candid descriptions of what it's like to work somewhere.... since Steve felt free to be candid, I figured I'd share my experiences. I also worked for other large companies, like, for instance, Microsoft. Microsoft was weird in a sort of cult like way, and had its own management problems, but was much more enjoyable... and really treated their employees a whole lot better. At MSFT, hardship was having to share your office with another programmer. At Amazon, I was literally in a hallway, with a dozen other people, with major foot traffic walking past my desk (And right behind my chair) all day long, a lot of noise and a very large window over my shoulder reflecting right into my monitor... all day long.

Worst Job Ever.

Thank you for indulging my venting.

[1] It wasn't just me either, by the time I left, %60 of the team had already gotten internal transfers or resigned. I was being loyal, and went to HR to try and get some advice or mediation, but despite being promised confidentiality, the notes of my meeting with the HR rep were forwarded to my boss.

[2] At amazon they have this crazy idea that engineers should have pagers. I'm sure it sounded great at the time. I didn't have the pager that week, but that didn't matter to the boss[4], who knew I'd been the one to find the issue. So he called me. I think the phone rang for a good 20 minutes before I woke up.

Never let your employer give you a pager, unless you're an ops guy.

[3] After I left, and after my team was literally decimated by the hostile environment created by our boss, I found out he got promoted! Yep, now he's managing managers.

[4] Why was the boss up at 3am? Well, Bezos called him, but he'd been up already... he was a hard partier who, just between you and me, also was selling drugs on the side. Most of the stoners in PacMed were getting their bags from him.

nhashem 2 days ago 2 replies      
What really struck home for me was Steve's line, "I hate... plussing" because I actually think his entries like this one are a great niche for Google Plus -- it's basically a built-in blogging platform/RSS reader. Facebook and Twitter are pretty bad platforms for posting 5 paragraphs (or 25 paragraphs, in Steve's case) worth of thoughts, but Google Plus works pretty well. It has all the sharing/social goodness of those platforms without the overhead of having to create your own blog and tell people about it.

So I thought about a web application that would basically provide a wrapper to post blog-esque entries on Google Plus, and sure enough I looked up the API, and like Steve, you pretty much just get the Stalker Method[0]. Not a POST method to be found.

Then it made me recall an earlier life where I worked on an SEM optimization platform, and the most common thing we heard from our Google Rep was, "oh, um, yeah, doing that is not available in our API."

Short of a directive from Larry and Sergey and the willingness to follow through for the 3-5 years it took Amazon to reap dividends, is there anything Google can do?

[0] https://developers.google.com/+/api/

msg 2 days ago 2 replies      
Amazon engineer here, just a couple of observations after a few years at the company.

As many people said, there's a wide variability in experience at Amazon depending on the team. And I would say even more, depending on where you sit in the graph. The bottlenecks at the center have more clients, higher TPS, more stringent latency requirements. And their support burden is worse and the engineer's life is worse. It's hard to move everyone forward together. Once you add enough constraints the problem gets too hard to solve. But like working at Microsoft, you pay these prices in order to have high impact, a high number of customers, and high influence. A big question for large service federations like Amazon is how to smooth out these bottlenecks. Like Stevey's rant about code size though, first you have to admit you have the problem, service size.

I joined with a team that was not service oriented. It was like a collection of cron jobs that ran single threaded applications directly updating the DB. It was painful and very hard to alter these stateful applications without breaking things.

I moved to a team that ran a collection of services and it was so much better, like night and day better. The path forward for us became obvious when we started thinking about how to migrate between APIs and decompose our services still further (and by the way, our support burden is comparatively low).

What makes service oriented architecture at Amazon great is that it is cheap. The other two Amazon advantages Steve mentioned are not coincidences, they are what you need to make service rollouts low-friction. They are what makes it possible to shoot first and rollback later. With rare exceptions they are used by the entire company.

Remember Sinofsky's "don't ship the org chart"? It is a lie. You cannot avoid it. You always ship the org chart. So the real question is, what is the org going to look like so that we ship something good-looking? That's the real purpose of Steve's rant. No matter how much politicking or boosting you do for this important service-oriented architecture, it doesn't work unless you have a service-oriented org chart. And Google does not, apparently.

The big big question for the internet and decades in the future is, you say you're going to organize the world's information. What is the organization going to look like? I think it'll be more interactive. The API will be there, there will be writes. It will be less centralized, with the appropriate authorities owning data and providing an interface to their small piece of the world's information. I think that's eventually going to mean you own your identity and provide as much interface as you care to. The arc of the internet is long but it bends toward decentralization (assuming we keep it out of the hands of the fascists).

For me Amazon is a microcosm of that future, and it's going to be interesting to lead the way there.

pragmatic 2 days ago 0 replies      
What's ironic is that Amazon is "so bad" yet they are one of my favorite companies.

They always seem to do right by the customer.

Where as google, it's behavior isn't always customer friendly (disclaimer: this is my opinion/perception).

To an outsider like me, Google seems almost schizophrenic...adding features, removing them, and then Gmail on android is just "not good". Customer service is non existent. Have a problem with Google product, good luck buddy.

Contrast that to Amazon where customer service is prompt and courteous and they always give the customer the benefit of the doubt.

Maybe it's the focus of the companies? Google is focused on engineering for engineering's sake. The focus on developers and algorithms.

Amazon is focused on customer service/satisfaction. Keeping the customers coming back.

Google is a monopoly in many of it's services (search, ad[sense|words]) whereas you can get a lot of Amazon's products somewhere else.

wouterinho 2 days ago 5 replies      
It seems to 404 now, a copy is available at https://raw.github.com/gist/933cc4f7df97d553ed89/24386c6a79b...
espeed 2 days ago 0 replies      
Is Steve Yegge Google's new secret recruiter agent? :)

A few weeks ago he publicly quit his "cat pictures" project (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vKmQW_Nkfk8) to pursue more noble a quest in data mining. I loved what he said, and at first glance this seemed like a jab at the newly released Google+. But it's actually a bigger knock on Facebook since the "cat pictures" app is Facebook's primary gig, and so far it's only a side gig at Google. I wonder how many FB peeps started to wonder if there really is any meaning in cat pictures.

Now it's Amazon -- "Amazon does everything wrong, and Google does everything right", except for 3 things, one being "platforms." But his Amazon jabs are not as subtle as the cat pictures one -- "Their pay and benefits suck, although much less so lately due to local competition from Google and Facebook. But they don't have any of our perks or extras."

Maybe Steve is Google's new unofficial recruiting agent. He makes reference to it here, "I actually did a spreadsheet at one point but Legal wouldn't let me show it to anyone, even though recruiting loved it."

When you think about it, he's the perfect person to have run a psyop designed to get the Facebookers and Amazonians to lay down their cat pictures and join the Googlers building the next generation platform, while partaking in all of their perks. Google can just play it off as, "oh, that's just crazy uncle Steve on one of his rants again". I don't know what it is, but I think it's great on multiple levels :)

wouterinho 2 days ago 4 replies      
Werner Vogels did an on-stage interview recently at the Kings of Code conference in Amsterdam. A question from the audience was: "Does the Amazon shopping site run on AWS as well or on a more private/shielded AWS-cloud?". Werner answered that they use the same infrastructure as everybody else and that they could not justify doing anything else. It gave me tremendous trust in the AWS platform.
latch 2 days ago 1 reply      
The rant is absolute gold. It is well written, it's entertaining, it's funny, it's insightful. Most importantly, it's right (about platforms at least, and from what I've heard, about Amazon and Google's culture). It is as near to perfect as a rant can probably ever get.

I can see "What did you think of Steve's Google Platform rant" as an interview question.

bambax 2 days ago 3 replies      
What he says about Chrome doesn't seem to be really true?

> And so we wind up with a browser that doesn't let you set the default font size

You can set the default font size and zoom size in Chrome (chrome://settings/advanced then "Web Content").

But more to the point, although it's obvious Google Search is trying very hard NOT to be a platform, it would seem Chrome is already a platform.

No other browser in history has had a more straightforward way to build extensions -- and, for that matter, apps.

Also, Yahoo is not mentioned; Yahoo built many nice platforms (remember Pipes?) and it didn't quite save them.

vnorby 2 days ago 1 reply      
When I worked at Myspace, there was one (small) team dedicated to creating and maintaining internal services. The platform was called "slayer," short for service layer. It was built very well, for the most part. All the documentation and calls were in one place. And the few teams who used it built cool products (including my own) that leveraged data from a wide variety of services.

I think the simple reason that our products were better was because we could easily see all the data sources available to us every time we checked the documentation to do some simple things (say, retrieving a user's data). We can get friends data from here, music data from here, analytics from there. And what do you know, putting all that data into one place can make a cool product or feature. Without that, you spend so much time worrying about what your own product and team is doing that you forget about working together.

maxwin 2 days ago 1 reply      
"Google+ is a prime example of our complete failure to understand platforms from the very highest levels of executive leadership (hi Larry, Sergey, Eric, Vic, howdy howdy) down to the very lowest leaf workers (hey yo). We all don't get it. The Golden Rule of platforms is that you Eat Your Own Dogfood. The Google+ platform is a pathetic afterthought. We had no API at all at launch, and last I checked, we had one measly API call. One of the team members marched in and told me about it when they launched, and I asked: "So is it the Stalker API?" She got all glum and said "Yeah." I mean, I was joking, but no... the only API call we offer is to get someone's stream. So I guess the joke was on me.

Microsoft has known about the Dogfood rule for at least twenty years. It's been part of their culture for a whole generation now. You don't eat People Food and give your developers Dog Food. Doing that is simply robbing your long-term platform value for short-term successes. Platforms are all about long-term thinking.

Google+ is a knee-jerk reaction, a study in short-term thinking, predicated on the incorrect notion that Facebook is successful because they built a great product. But that's not why they are successful. Facebook is successful because they built an entire constellation of products by allowing other people to do the work. So Facebook is different for everyone. Some people spend all their time on Mafia Wars. Some spend all their time on Farmville. There are hundreds or maybe thousands of different high-quality time sinks available, so there's something there for everyone.

Our Google+ team took a look at the aftermarket and said: "Gosh, it looks like we need some games. Let's go contract someone to, um, write some games for us." Do you begin to see how incredibly wrong that thinking is now? The problem is that we are trying to predict what people want and deliver it for them.

You can't do that. Not really. Not reliably. There have been precious few people in the world, over the entire history of computing, who have been able to do it reliably. Steve Jobs was one of them. We don't have a Steve Jobs here. I'm sorry, but we don't."

Interesting comment on Google+ as a platform. I love google products. There will be lots of innovation (gmail, google voice, g+ etc) if google provides good APIs to external developers and treat these APIs as first class citizens.

ilamont 2 days ago 3 replies      
No mention of Android. I know it was an acquisition, but Google built it out into a platform. Yes, it has flaws, but overall I would consider it a success.
martincmartin 2 days ago 2 replies      
Larry would do these big usability studies and demonstrate beyond any shred of doubt that nobody can understand that frigging website, but Bezos just couldn't let go of those pixels ...

When I interviewed at Amazon, they were at pains to point out that the company is data driven. One person told me that even Bezos would put a lot of weight in numbers that disagreed with is intuition. Is Steve's anecdote an outlier, or is Amazon not really data driven at all?

locacorten 2 days ago 2 replies      
There is one thing that Google has done well that no other company (Amazon, Microsoft, Facebook) seems to understand. Hire experts. They call this hire Ph.D.'s, but that's slightly inaccurate because having a Ph.D. does not make you an expert. They understand that building systems at large scale requires people who have a deep understanding of distributed systems that goes much beyond "My code is on SourceForge" mentality, or "Git is better than SVN because it is a distributed repository".

To this day, I am still shocked as to how many devs have no clue on what I'm talking about, yet they are in charge of Internet-scale systems. Here's a list of symptoms, I've heard over the years:

- I'll put something quick together.

- I implemented Paxos last night.

- I found an optimization in the two-phase commit protocol.

In my opinion, being expert means becoming humble and doubtful about your code when implementing large-scale systems. If your code runs on thousands of machines and serves 100K+ people and you think you rock as a developer/architect then you're doing something wrong.

Facebook doesn't get this. Look at their systems. They barely work. Good thing it doesn't matter. Yet. But it will eventually.

Amazon gets a little of this. Bringing Werner showed signs that they started to get it. They are still in this mix where a small group of people gets it and continues to bring in experts and push amazing things out. We'll see how long this will last.

Microsoft clearly doesn't get it. But that's ok, because they have no Internet-scale systems anyway. They built MSR which is capable of building such systems, but they make sure MSR remains isolated from their code. MSR seems happy to have no role in the company and to continue to publish amazing research.

radagaisus 2 days ago 0 replies      
He has a new 'clarifying' post on his wall: https://plus.google.com/110981030061712822816/posts
chubs 2 days ago 1 reply      
My first thought when reading was 'wow, he must be confident about how open to criticism the bosses at google are, to be posting this'.

And now i've come back a few hours later to find his post has been removed...

Let's hope he was right when he claimed he could easily get a job at facebook, for his mortgage's sake :)

TruthPrevails 2 days ago 10 replies      
Hello All,

I was an intern at Amazon this summer and they extended a full time offer. I read Steve's rant with great interest. Since many people in comments have confirmed the points raised by him about Amazon, I am not feeling good right now :( I still have 18 days to accept the offer. I am currently interviewing with Microsoft. I have applied to Facebook just now. Sadly, I screwed up my Google phone screening last week. It was just not my day :( I am confident of getting MS offer. Do you people suggest I reject the Amazon offer? Or should I work at Amazon and form my own opinion? I can always change jobs.

EDIT: I am not able to reply to comments at all! It gives me dead link message. I have been trying for almost 30 mins now. Frustrating.

estel 2 days ago 0 replies      
Looks like it was supposed to be internal only: https://plus.google.com/110981030061712822816/posts/bwJ7kAEL...
guelo 2 days ago 0 replies      
It's too bad he screwed up the internal posting. It's a great read for us outsiders but utltimately it just amounts to industry gossip. But internally the embarrassment might overshadow the impact of what Steve was trying to say.
iamelgringo 2 days ago 0 replies      
gods, I miss Stevey's drunken rants.

And... after spending an evening looking at Google's calendaring API's... he's got a couple'a points.

nextparadigms 2 days ago 1 reply      
This post reminds of me of why I couldn't believe Google would launch Honeycomb with almost no apps optimized for it, when Microsoft managed to have 2000 apps at the launch of WP7.

Also, why they didn't try to bring the content owners on board for Google TV, and why I think they will be missing a huge opportunity to turn Google TV into a "console platform" . But I feared they won't "get" this, and this post is setting my expectations even lower for that.

I knew Google didn't have much experience with an OS, compared to Microsoft or Apple, and I think they are learning, but they need to learn much faster, and they really need to put some "design thinking" into everything they do, from the ground up. They are starting to learn about good design/polish on the surface, but it really needs to happen at the core of the product from day one.

redwood 2 days ago 0 replies      
The unmentioned take-away here is not simply the focus on Platforms, but the reminder that 'Circles' are a weak feature to build a social network on. Why? because user's had already build organic circles across multiple social spaces (e.g. professional-only on Linkedin, perhaps family or college-safe on Facebook, close social on gmail, etc).

What's the advantage to multiple platforms for multiple circles? you don't accidentally post your internal company rant to the whole world. You don't post pictures of red cups and beer bongs on Linkedin and you don't talk about work on Facebook. This is how users were operating before G+ launched, and is precisely why users aren't diving in.

rachelbythebay 2 days ago 1 reply      
I'm surprised this is an external post.

Stubby services, eh?

ThomPete 2 days ago 1 reply      
I seriously hope Jeff Bezos reading HN.
imrehg 2 days ago 3 replies      
Seems like it was removed? Too bad I haven't copied it off earlier....
mieses 2 days ago 0 replies      
The problem is how to isolate the Google brand and product from the effects of platformization so that you don't kill the world's best cat while using shock therapy to turn him into a dog.
tmsh 2 days ago 0 replies      
google search: 'malcolm gladwell third'.

Sort of relevant. Different mindsets.

I don't completely buy the argument (the marginal utility of learning from the first and second iteration isn't always as meaningful as you might think) -- but I partly buy the argument. And it's sort of relevant here. I.e., it's hard to be both inventive and an integrator. Though once you're aware of the problem it might not be that hard.

yarapavan 2 days ago 1 reply      
So, there is a platform rule now -

A product is useless without a platform, or more precisely and accurately, a platform-less product will always be replaced by an equivalent platform-ized product.

crizCraig 1 day ago 0 replies      
I think this is a bunch of BS. Google didn't have to create a platform, it took control of the world's biggest platform. Google benefits from most things built on the web sans Facebook. Now it's leading the way in the most promising platform of the next few years with Android. Chrome is a platform. Google+ is a platform for content creation that solves the problem of the Facebook crawl wall. It also sets the stage for a more complete solution to your problems (aka searches) via increasing its knowledge on individuals.

I don't think Google will accomplish its goal with plus however, because it's not being aggressive enough in collecting user data and integrating it with search. I think the Universities are in the best position to do this as they did with email and the web. The killer app will be a light bulb that makes extremely useful suggestions based on context.

This rant expounded here:

aangjie 2 days ago 3 replies      
Hmm.. Great level of detail in steve yegge's post for a rant....Infact one of my pain points with google+ is not being able aggregate(#tags) and publish feeds from my blog.
slightly OT: does anyone else think there seems to be a trend of ranting recently, i mean Ryan Dahl,ted dziuba, and now steve yegge??
44Aman 2 days ago 0 replies      
For those that want to read the post: http://steverant.pen.io/
nathanb 2 days ago 0 replies      
If Amazon understand APIs and platforms so well, why doesn't Amazon Cloud Drive have an API?
abbott 2 days ago 0 replies      
which came first, the product or the platform? I remember when twitter switched over their public site and services to run on their API. Instagram just built theirs earlier this year. If the platform has an outage, so does the product. It's tough to justify a platform until you have traction, and unfortunately the industry track record reflects this.

Excellent insights in Steve's post.

bozho 2 days ago 1 reply      
I have one odd guess about why Google can get a decent "platform". They hire "hackers". Their recruitment process involves 99% computer science and almost none software engineering. So the people there, being amazing at the most complex computing tasks, just aren't seeing the "big picture".
mun2mun 2 days ago 0 replies      
Sorry for commenting same comment again. But check the post posted here 3 years ago


At that time everyone was praising about bezos, amazons culture.What circumstances changed the views about amazon? Honest question.

rythie 2 days ago 1 reply      
Has someone still got it open in tab to repost here? since it seems to have been removed.
superasn 1 day ago 0 replies      
I found this post on hn-daily so I feel I'm a bit late to the party but still this is one of the most profound and interesting things I've read lately regarding technology and had me pondering on hours how this approach can even really benefit my small small company.

Anyway, after reading this I feel really hungry to read more of such posts which tell you what the turning points were of a company and why you should be doing it too or not. Anyone have any links to similar such-must-read posts?

coob 2 days ago 0 replies      
He's taken it down, here's the original text:


gms 2 days ago 1 reply      
I find it hard to believe that any significant number of people use things made using Facebook Platform. Vast majority of people simply use the product itself.
nextparadigms 2 days ago 0 replies      
Wave may have been a great platform, and it's probably why many still want to continue it to this day, but it was a terrible product UI wise, and I think that's the biggest reason it failed.
swah 1 day ago 0 replies      
"There are dozens, maybe hundreds of individual learnings like these that Amazon had to discover organically."

From the examples, this would be a very valuable documentation to have access to.

ramkalari 2 days ago 0 replies      
It would be interesting to take Salesforce also as a case study. Didn't they move from a product to a platform?
tmsh 2 days ago 0 replies      
google search: 'malcolm gladwell third'.

Sort of relevant. Different mindsets.

I don't completely buy the argument (the marginal utility of learning from the first and second iteration isn't always as meaningful as you might think) -- but I partly buy the argument. And it's sort of relevant here. I.e., it's hard to be inventive and an integrator. Though once you're aware of the problem it might not be that hard.

danmaz74 2 days ago 0 replies      
The first thing that this post, and the comments, make me think is just how difficult it is to run a big company.
yetanotherkosta 2 days ago 0 replies      
aab1d 2 days ago 0 replies      
The article is no more available. I read it and then sent it to a few friends and now its the links dead.

That was the best and most truthful article I read in a long long time.

redmoon91 1 day ago 0 replies      
Steve, you rock! Don't do the Jerry Maguire and recant your memo to everyone. If Google's executives have risen so high in their own self-estimation that they can't smell the dogpoop sticking to their shoes, then you are better off riding your own wave that started here. Follow your heart and the original inspiration for this rant. I believe in Google, and hopefully you will get a raise instead of a pink slip. Google is a good company that a lot of people want to keep rallying behind. Sometimes it takes a lone wolf, the sound of a gunshot, to shock the cows out of the self-induced trance inspired by their own mooing. Everything you said was true, and those who CAN and WANT to know, KNOW it. Your rant rides to a vast body of water - let's see if the big horse drinks.
djhworld 2 days ago 1 reply      
Very insightful and interesting read, a good way to spend a few minutes during my lunch break!
rprime 1 day ago 0 replies      
I don't see why people tag this is a bad thing? He exercises his freedom of speech in a constructive matter, both Amazon and Google should get this as a pro thing.
yonasb 2 days ago 1 reply      
The fact that he didn't mean to post this is proof enough that G+ sucks. And he's spot on about everything he said. Google doesn't get platforms at all. Look what happened to Blogger, arguably their most successful platform (which they didn't even build).
swah 1 day ago 0 replies      
1000 points and I can't find the place we discuss what he said.
swah 1 day ago 0 replies      
Can a thrift service be externalizable?
piglet99 2 days ago 0 replies      
Google's "stubby" technology hasn't been talked of publicly before has it ?????
chris_gogreen 1 day ago 0 replies      
getting 404 error
djohnsonm 2 days ago 0 replies      
Looks like google deleted this article...
badclient 2 days ago 0 replies      
No platform can save Google+ from dieing. Steve himself seems to hint at that by saying a Platform is not enough.
catch23 2 days ago 0 replies      
Wow, looks like he got slapped by some Google VP or something -- the post ceases to exist.
Zadoc 2 days ago 0 replies      
Well, I don't know if it's a pathetic after thought (Okrut, anyone?). But it's definitely a "me too" kind of a product. One that still needs to appeal to a wider base.

POLL: Is Google+ little more than a pathetic afterthought?
Vote: http://www.wepolls.com/p/3740179

kalusn 2 days ago 1 reply      
I'm pretty sure this got upvoted because people thought Steve = Steve Jobs. Congratulations!
Jun8 2 days ago 1 reply      
Isn't this the second highly public data point (that I know of) of him slashing and burning G+ and Google and then backtracking and saying how Google is the best place to work for (the previous one: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=2811818). That one, he claimed, was a misunderstanding, this one is a late night permissions error. I am sorry but for someone of his caliber these sound like made up excuses.

I think he sees the problems, goes off the deep end, then either sobers up or is muzzled by Google's PR machine. Or Google may be thinking any publicity is good publicity.

andrewljohnson 2 days ago 0 replies      
This document offers no solutions at all, it's hard to follow, and it was played in the wrong forum.

1) No solutions - What exactly should Google do? What string of thought should we start with to make any sort of improvements?

2) Hard to follow - Yegge shocks you by seeming like he's insulting Amazon, he tells you some anecdotes to give himself creedence, and he starts to get to his point about accessibility and platformification a million paragraphs in.

3) Wrong forum - Why is this on the public internet? If it wasn't, Yegge wouldn't need to spend the first half of the article establishing his credibility. If he would talk to his peers, then they could discuss the meaty technical and strategic issues without meandering around in a nostalgic haze for thousands of words.

Yegge is not Bill Gates, and this is no Internet Tide Wave memo. It would be an embarrassment for Google to have this out there, if it weren't instead just an embarrassment to the author. It sounds like Yegge is more interested in stirring the pot and publishing unrefined thoughts than working on actual solutions.

Rant indeed. Get some sleep bro.

Up and Down the Ladder of Abstraction worrydream.com
693 points by macrael  3 days ago   71 comments top 21
danso 3 days ago 2 replies      

This is simply one of the best guides I've seen to anything...ever. It's uncommon for an online guide to have well-written text, even rarer for it to leverage HTML's structure and organization, and almost unheard of to incorporate interactive useful elements that gel with the textual sections.

Well done.

macrael 3 days ago 2 replies      
Definitely read the appendix "Tools & Implementation". He expresses frustration with the current state of the art in building visualizations.

My guess is that he is using his javascript library for "reactive documents" called Tangle http://worrydream.com/Tangle for all the demos in this article.

I'll just add that I really find this whole piece astounding and many levels above the majority of things I find on the internet.

phzbOx 3 days ago 5 replies      
Looking at his website, his resume and his project, I just feel like stopping everything I do. A little bit like if you start to run for a couple miles and after 5-6 when you're pretty tired, you ask your friend how much remains. And he smile at you, start running even faster and says 195miles.

Or, it's like playing Starcraft agains a good player. You get beaten pretty hard but you still played your best and are proud. But then, somehow, you play a real professional gamer.. and you just feel like stopping playing that game. Nothing works, you look like a total beginner, you get 5/0-ed, and then, you learn he was on the phone the whole time.


nagrom 3 days ago 1 reply      
I'm a physicist studying nucleon structure. This is a field so complicated that other physicists typically shake their heads and mutter "must be mad". We typically work at several layers of abstraction.

This (Tangle) is the one tool that I've seen that is capable of communicating well to non-physicists what I do, without their needing to know Mathematica or C++ in detail. I really need to get around to writing a web page that does that. Awesome. Inspiring. Ridiculously, breathtakingly good. Bret's entire website is outstanding.

xtacy 3 days ago 1 reply      
Very impressive, but I am not sure his comment about Mathematica is right. The Wolfram Demonstrations project is about aiding such explorations in Mathematica. It may not look as pretty, but it's definitely capable of enabling explorations using the Manipulate[] command.




asolove 3 days ago 0 replies      
Totally speechless. Feel like this is what I ought to be working on/with. I look forward to the day when online news sources take advantage of the medium to cover wars and budget proposals in this format.
icandoitbetter 3 days ago 2 replies      
Bret Victor is one of the great people working in computing (not computer science) today. I expect something paradigm-shifting from him in the coming years.
arkitaip 3 days ago 1 reply      
Fascinating read and absolutely gorgeous to look at. This is the guy behind Magic Ink http://worrydream.com/#!/MagicInk
gfodor 3 days ago 0 replies      
Bret Victor, as usual, is a humbling reminder of how much I don't know and how constrained my thinking is. Bravo!
enjalot 3 days ago 1 reply      
This is the future of education. He just laid the blueprints.
colanderman 3 days ago 1 reply      
Beautiful site. But I hope anyone actually trying to solve the example problem of guiding a car on a road uses a PID controller and not a binary threshold. Here's an interactive example for those interested: http://fstutoring.com/youlearn/pid/controller
michaelchisari 3 days ago 0 replies      
This is definitely one of those moments where something inspires me to look at everything I'm working on and want to throw it all away, and rebuild it at this level.
yariang 3 days ago 1 reply      
I think the best part of it is the car at the top. I can easily play with that for a few minutes. They do say 80% of the gains come from 20% of the effort right? :)
rottencupcakes 3 days ago 3 replies      
Does it bother anybody else that he fails so miserably at solving the example he uses for this article: keeping the car on the road?
jpitz 3 days ago 0 replies      
I see what this author has done, and I wonder to myself if I could ever possibly have the time to write myself tools to do the things he suggests. Then I wonder if I have the time not to.
tambourine_man 3 days ago 0 replies      
Damn this guy is good. Check the whole site out, well worth it.
defdac 2 days ago 0 replies      
The intro is a really good guide on how to build interesting (exploration) games. Minecraft comes to mind, for example people making charts of ore beta distributions in effort of understanding the inner workings of the world they play.
AdamTReineke 3 days ago 1 reply      
That was fantastic. In case you missed it, use the arrow keys to move the car in the header to jump up the ladder.
jonnycowboy 3 days ago 2 replies      
Is this behaviour supported (and easy to use) on mobile devices as well?

A great use of this would be for electronic math textbooks for showing students (high school) how various parameters influence graphs, etc.

nitrogen 2 days ago 0 replies      
The only thing that could make this better is if the arrow keys still worked for scrolling (Firefox 7).
jsilence 2 days ago 0 replies      
RIP, dmr muppetlabs.com
547 points by breadbox  2 days ago   21 comments top 11
stevelosh 2 days ago 3 replies      
I love the `return 0;`. Something sad has happened, but it's not the end of the world and everyone continues on.
foenix 2 days ago 0 replies      
Man, I was just diving into C this week with Shaw's learn C the hard way and K & R (I'm beginning to wrap my head around pointers. Quite beautiful, really).

This snippet made me tear up. RIP, Dennis Ritchie.

ineedtosleep 2 days ago 1 reply      
RIP, Dennis Ritchie.

I love that the tribute code is short, concise and has enormous meaning.

rhdoenges 2 days ago 1 reply      
Something about C saying that is incredibly depressing.
I cried.
oracuk 1 day ago 0 replies      
I know change happens, maybe it's a function of my age but this increasingly feels like I am living in a different world to the one I started my career in. Interestingly it's no the technology that that feels different, it's the loss of people and companies that shaped the older world.
bgarbiak 1 day ago 0 replies      
I'm going back to this page almost every hour today and every time I get to "goodbye, dad\n" part I'm getting emotional... Excellent homage.
jgrahamc 1 day ago 0 replies      
jmagar 1 day ago 0 replies      
This marks the end of all my "Hello World!" first programs; replaced by "goodbye, dad\n"
adgar 2 days ago 1 reply      
I know it's kinda tasteless, but `puts` is more appropriate.
nicks22 20 hours ago 0 replies      
Legends like DMR don't die, they just gosub without return
ryfm 1 day ago 0 replies      
Lights elliegoulding.com
535 points by citricsquid  1 day ago   88 comments top 38
citricsquid 1 day ago 2 replies      
So uh, not to cause a fuss but why was the title edited? I can understand removing the word "impressive" as that is an opinion, but removing the explanation (interactive html5 / webgl presentation built with threejs) seems silly? How are users who casually browse news.yc supposed to look at this and have any clue what they're clicking? Titles that are descriptive should be more important than... well I can't think why it was changed to just "lights"? Surely the title containing some sort of description about the content is a courtesy that users would appreciate.

(For reference the original title was "Lights -- impressive html5 / webgl presentation built with threejs" and is now "Lights")

SnowLprd 1 day ago 1 reply      
For those on Mac OS X 10.7 with Safari and who are seeing a message saying that your browser doesn't support WebGL, that's only because WebGL isn't enabled by default. You can turn it on by first going to Safari Preferences > Advanced and then checking the box labeled "Show Develop menu in menu bar". Close preferences, and then under the "Develop" menu, choose "Enable WebGL". If you go back to the "Lights" page now, you should be now be able to check it out!
marcamillion 1 day ago 1 reply      
This is SURPRISINGLY mesmerizing. Something about the music and the animation and interaction just hooked me.

Plus the fact that it wasn't in Flash was a major plus. But not sure what it was...but had me going for a while.

ck2 1 day ago 2 replies      
It's amazing. At first I was like - oh shoot, how did they license the music but then I was "oh".

Try banking hard right (or left) and then when the sky starts to go technocolor pull up hard. Wow.

Works great in Firefox 7, unless I go full width (2048x1152).

Chrome seems to spaz out if I try to change the window size.

Opera fans with full OpenGL drivers can now use WebGL too http://my.opera.com/desktopteam/blog/2011/10/13/introducing-...

moe 1 day ago 2 replies      
Beautiful, but "interactive" seems a bit of an overstatement here. Unless I missed some interactivity other than popping those bubbles and steering.
5hoom 1 day ago 1 reply      
WebGL is going to be huge very soon.

Developers that are fluent with the technology are going to be in high demand once more people know what you can do & stuff like this is what everyone wants.

Time to get reading!

ck2 1 day ago 1 reply      
Try changing LIGHTS.releaseBuild = true to false.

Interesting debug data.

This must have been a beast to build, sync and debug.

I'd like to see the author post a "making of" entry.

parfe 1 day ago 1 reply      
I think I miss the point. Do I control anything happening with the music or in the scene? This link reminds me of a Winamp visualization from 10 years ago, but now I can fly through it, in a web browser.
DrCatbox 1 day ago 1 reply      
WebGL is a helluva drug.

Have they solved or answered the security considerations from letting a website issue graphics commands?

tsunamifury 1 day ago 4 replies      
FYI, the Bassnectar remix of this song is very good.
DanielRibeiro 1 day ago 1 reply      
Guess it did not get enough traction yesterday: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=3102979
navs 1 day ago 0 replies      
I don't care much for the track but as the environment pulsated, I found myself smiling. Simply amazing.

Running perfectly on MacBook Pro 5th Gen with Google Chrome Canary (16.0.x.x).

tomlin 14 hours ago 0 replies      
I am currently working on a project that indexes beats and sounds to a .json object tied with a JS library that dispatches events based on the timing of a media file associated.

Eventually, it would be nice to have all forms of equipment taking queues from the events dispatched. ie, stage equipment, lights, etc.

This example serves to show that these types of applications are coming soon.

alanh 1 day ago 0 replies      
In case anyone is wondering: In Internet Explorer (IE9 is the only desktop browser to not support WebGL, or will be once Opera 12 ships [1]), you get an error message that WebGL was not detected [2].

[1]: Source " http://caniuse.com/#feat=webgl

[2]: Screenshot " http://cl.ly/0b3W0p251C0A2t2X2934

matdwyer 1 day ago 0 replies      
Not freezing on me. Wow, very interesting.

I didn't even realize I could control where it was going till half way through. Had a blast trying to avoid the spotlights. Nice job!

gourneau 1 day ago 0 replies      
Wow, the last few seconds of the video are so beautiful.
aiurtourist 19 hours ago 0 replies      
If you're interested in learning WebGL, a fantastic resource is http://learningwebgl.com/ " especially the weekly summary of "WebGL Around the Web." (I have no affiliation " I just found it useful.)
voidfiles 1 day ago 1 reply      
Feels static compared to what the arcade fire did with google.


The web is a new medium, and browsers can be more expressive then pretty viz. Push the boundaries with this stuff don't just do your radio show on camera.

dangrossman 23 hours ago 0 replies      
I wish the visualizations in my media player looked anywhere as good as that.
taylorlb 1 day ago 0 replies      
Really cool. I get that the Twitter usernames come in with the lyric "they're calling me" but it might be more sticky if the usernames show up sooner. Not sure everyone would want to keep flying around for so long.
tambourine_man 12 hours ago 0 replies      
Frame by frame animation here.

ATI Radeon X1600 256 MB, 10.7.2

ranza 1 day ago 1 reply      
I love that none of the js code is minimized! Great use of Mr. Doob's Three.js library

For reference:



agravier 1 day ago 1 reply      
It's pretty, but it systematically freezes about 2 minutes in on my Mac with Chrome 14.0.835.202.

Also, if it's laggy, try resizing the window.

RyanMcGreal 1 day ago 0 replies      
Not working for me on FF 7.0.1 or Chrome 14.0.835.202 on Windows XP. :(
DanBC 1 day ago 0 replies      
Really nice. But whenever I see stuff like this I always wonder if it fits into less than 4k; some of that demo-scene stuff is amazing.
sandieman 1 day ago 1 reply      
anyone know the developer(s) behind this?
flink 1 day ago 0 replies      
Wow, it works for me with FF 7.0.1 and nouveau on Linux. A little laggy when I go fullscreen, sure but the last time I tried viewing WebGL FF told me that my 3D setup wasn't supported.

Anyhow, cool presentation. It's impressive to see how WebGL is progressing.

jpulgarin 1 day ago 0 replies      
Doesn't work on Chromium 12.0 in Ubuntu 11.04
filthylucre 21 hours ago 0 replies      
I thought it was great stuff.
nixarn 1 day ago 2 replies      
Says it doesn't support my browser :S Got a new iMac with OSX Lion and tried with with both Chrome (15 beta) and Safari.
spot 1 day ago 0 replies      
if you want real interaction: http://sp0t.org/videoriot
kevinchen 1 day ago 0 replies      
Did this remind anybody else of a cell membrane with proteins and stuff attached?
mistertrotsky 1 day ago 0 replies      
Really well-done! This impresses me a lot more than dropping a sphere in a box of water.
rymedia 23 hours ago 0 replies      
This looked effing amazing on my 27inch monitor
hm2k 1 day ago 0 replies      
This really impressed me.
kruhft 1 day ago 1 reply      
Crashed my browser, Linux Firefox 7.0.1...
jklipton 1 day ago 0 replies      
This is awesome.
ajsharp 1 day ago 0 replies      
Steve Jobs Book Excerpt: Why he wore the black mock turtleneck uniform 9to5mac.com
413 points by kposehn  3 days ago   144 comments top 32
michaelpinto 3 days ago  replies      
The point of this article isn't the damned turtleneck -- the lesson to learn is that Jobs was best friends with Issey Miyake. Think about that for a minute: How many other folks who work in tech in the valley have any friends who even work in fashion design? Add to that that this is the same guy who hired Paul Rand the grandfather of American graphic design to come up with the logo for NeXT. This is also the same man who hired I. M. Pei as an architect and powered the team that made the first computer animated motion picture. You can start to see why none of his peers even come close...
huntero 3 days ago 0 replies      
I was always curious why he would wear such ill-fitting turtlenecks after he lost so much weight in his sickness. I guess his supply of turtlenecks had more of a personal story behind them and it wasn't as simple as ordering a size smaller from the local department store.
nirvana 3 days ago 1 reply      
To my mind, the bow-tie Steve and the turtleneck Steve are almost two different people. Long hair, sometimes a mustache, vs. short hair, the and maybe stubble. I've been following Apple and Steve for over 20 years, and there doesn't seem to be a transition between the two in my memory.
nostromo 3 days ago 4 replies      
Many articles have been written lately about how an outsider drop-out like Jobs would have never been given an opportunity to succeed in East Asia.

So it's interesting that here we have a story about how Steve Jobs tried to introduce a company uniform at Apple that emulated Sony. Especially odd given the "think different" slogan of the era.

In any case, I love the idea of a personal brand that doesn't change -- and also the practicality of never deciding what to wear.

JunkDNA 3 days ago 1 reply      
A bit of a meta-comment, but I'm starting to think that I'm going to end up reading all the surprising and interesting segments of this biography as blog posts. By the time the book arrives, I fear all that will be left to read is the boring stuff.
cubix 3 days ago 0 replies      
This reminds me of an interesting story I heard about Honda. Apparently the workers are made to wear white uniforms on the factory floor. If a smudge of dirt is found on a uniform, it is deemed a flaw in the system and supposedly the line is shut down until its origin has been determined.
ary 3 days ago 2 replies      
When reading this keep in mind that the Mac was still a skunkworks project inside of Apple when Jobs attempted to institute a uniform policy. Some of the comments have suggested this doesn't jive with the "Think Different" ethos he pushed. The Think Different campaign was initiated in 1997 shortly after his return to Apple. Many things transpired and he matured quite a bit in the intervening ~16/17 years.
endlessvoid94 3 days ago 2 replies      
I'd LOVE to know any other "failures", however tiny, Jobs had after he came back to Apple. The idea of him getting booed of the stage is not something you hear every day.

He's defined publicly by his old failures and recent successes. I'd love to hear more about more recent failures as well.

mathattack 3 days ago 3 replies      
I find it very strange that non-conformist Jobs who hated 1984ish IBM would be pro-uniform. It's a good story in the overload of Jobsian mythology. It shows a different side of him - that he worried about culture in addition to product, that he wasn't always consistent, and that even He could make design mistakes. Much more human a story than the usual fluff.
Jun8 3 days ago 3 replies      
"...its ability to convey a signature style..."

This is important yet overlooked! There is a lot of advice for up and coming founders on HN (and other places) ranging from scalability minutiae to naming your company, which are all important of course, but there is very little advice on how to dress to create a personal signature style.

Why hasn't a site that aims to do this hackers/startup founders crop up, with advice like, what sort of sweater would look good with your Timbuk2 bag, etc.

egiva 3 days ago 0 replies      
>>So it's interesting that here we have a story about how Steve Jobs tried to introduce a company uniform at Apple that emulated Sony. Especially odd given the "think different" slogan of the era.<<

I'd say that to be different in the areas most important to you (usually creative endeavors), you strip all the layers and unnecessary fluff off of your life and boil everything down to pure essence. For that reason, wearing the same thing every day actually liberates your senses and allows you to focus creative energies elsewhere.

This obviously doesn't apply to you if you are a fashion designer =) Jobs was a pretty busy guy, so i'm guessing that removing that extra decision each day actually helped his productivity and creativity.

ankeshk 2 days ago 1 reply      
Interesting. I always thought how Jobs made the decision to wear the same clothes was similar to how Feynman made a decision to eat the same icecream (chocolate) all the time. They both thought it was pointless to decide about mundane things and would rather spend time on other more worthy problems.

Interesting to read about how he wore a uniform for better bonding purposes.

alabut 3 days ago 1 reply      
It's the same rationale as the fashion designer Michael Kors and why he's been wearing the same black shirt, black blazer and dark jeans for years - to become "post-fashion" and have his own signature style that he doesn't have to think about and coordinate every day.

And much like Jobs, he used to dress like a hippie flower child early in his career and he realized sometime later how dated that looked, so he needed a timeless look.

ForrestN 3 days ago 2 replies      
I've read a number of times references to the sweaters coming from St. Croix, for example:


An interesting mystery! A lifetime's supply of Issey Miyake would surely obviate the need to by them from this random shop, right? Am I missing something?

For what it's worth, I hope they come from Miyake, who's a genius in his own right.

Bonus: another person who is staggeringly good at her job, wearing a black turtleneck:


ludwigvan 2 days ago 0 replies      
I don't understand how the turtleneck was the outcome of a design by Issey Miyake, i.e. isn't it just a standard black turtleneck, or are there some design aspects I'm not seeing? I would love some design-centric person to explain this "uniform" in detail.
philwelch 3 days ago 0 replies      
The funny thing is that, watching some of Apple's product announcement videos, some execs wear a similar black-shirt-and-jeans outfit. Scott Forstall jumps to mind.

I actually have, from a friend of a friend, a black long-sleeved sweatshirt made for Apple promoting iMovie. It's not quite a turtleneck but the resemblance is interesting.

wfwef 3 days ago 1 reply      
“I have enough to last for the rest of my life.”
iamwil 3 days ago 0 replies      
Just like Mr. Rogers has a closet full of the same clothes.
minikomi 3 days ago 2 replies      
Very odd. I can find no reference to Sony's uniform having been designed by Issey Miyake, even in Japanese, other than this one anecdote.

Edit: There is some allusion to it, yet no direct reference .. However, it seems he was generally interested in using Japanese fabrics to make clothes for workers in the 1970s, so it is definitely possible.

Steko 3 days ago 1 reply      
I think the lesson to take away is not about the designers or fashion so much but to see this as one aspect of Jobs getting past the bullshit to spend more time on the important stuff.

Five minutes less spent thinking about what to wear each morning translates to 30 more hours a year you have to focus on the big things (products, strategy, family, exercise, whatever).

Prolly also has something to do with why he drove a Benz 55 AMG with 500 hp.

mvkel 3 days ago 1 reply      
This is something I've thought about for a while. If you find something you're comfortable wearing and eliminate the "what am I wearing today?" process from your daily routine, your mind is that much more engaged in thoughts that matter.
rastafark 3 days ago 1 reply      
I always figured he was inspired by Tom Wolfe, who always wore a white suit in public. Wolfe emerged in the sixties and wrote novels about the counter culture movement. Job's references to things like 'the whole earth catalog' and other 60s icons always seem to point to his style.
donniefitz2 3 days ago 1 reply      
I always wondered what the story was behind the outfit. I thought the shirts were made by an European designer though.
warmfuzzykitten 2 days ago 0 replies      
Actually, if all I'm going to get from the book is Steve's turtlenecks, I wouldn't buy it. Who planted this link and why does anyone care?
DrewHintz 3 days ago 1 reply      
Does anyone have a photo of the Sony employee uniform?
infocaptor 2 days ago 0 replies      
anyone remember the episode from Seinfeld where his girlfriend is wearing the same dress everytime they go out and Jerry suspects if she has closet full of same dress..
orionlogic 2 days ago 0 replies      
I wonder how apple related sites spoil most of the book content before it arrive at my door.
thenewgreen 3 days ago 1 reply      
What is a brand? It's a symbol that identifies a good or service. The best brands are instantly recognizable, and apple with a bite missing... or a guy in black turtleneck. Both were brilliant moves.

He branded himself as "the" innovator of our times. Was the turtleneck intentional marketing?

itaborai83 3 days ago 0 replies      
I'm sorry he didn't get to order another batch from Issey Miyake
frsandstone 3 days ago 0 replies      
As if I needed more incentive to buy the book.
zargath 2 days ago 0 replies      
I see it as: remove focus away from anything but the product. The stage is boring, the screen is boring, the slides maybe not boring but simple, the person is not interessting. Steve was already rock star. Just like the ring in LOTR movies. How you make impact with such a small product. Steve wanted everybody to hunger for creations and his work.
j45 3 days ago 0 replies      
A uniform to remind him of his own discipline towards achieving his goals. Interesting.
Bjarne Stroustrup on Dennis Ritchie: They said it couldn't be done, & he did it herbsutter.com
390 points by ColinWright  1 day ago   33 comments top 9
toyg 1 day ago 2 replies      
"C is a poster child for why it's essential to keep those people who know a thing can't be done from bothering the people who are doing it."

Being a "can't be done" person is easy, being a "I'll do it" person is hard... but it's so much more fun and liberating. True story.

acqq 1 day ago 1 reply      
ALGOL had almost everything that C had including portable types at least 10 years earlier:


and really innovative guys, Burroughs computers had their operating system written in an ALGOL dialect:


all before C. Personally I appreciate the terseness of C and its closeness to assembly a lot, and I believe it all reflects the good taste of Ritchie, but still he didn't do anything "impossible" from my perspective.

To compare, you can read again:

"The Summer Of 1960 (Time Spent with don knuth)"


where Knuth writes an ALGOL compiler for Burroughs in 1960 working 40 hours a week in violation of Cal Tech's policy that limits the number of hours that a Ph.D. candidate can work.

mhartl 1 day ago 0 replies      
The title is a bit misleading: there's a quote from Stroustrup in the post, but the author of the article is Herb Sutter.
beza1e1 1 day ago 1 reply      

  we now have the new ISO C11 standard. C11 includes a number of new features that parallel those in C++11

Did i miss something?

groby_b 1 day ago 0 replies      
"C is a poster child for why it's essential to keep those people who know a thing can't be done from bothering the people who are doing it."

C++, on the other hand, is a poster child that just because it can be done, you shouldn't necessarily do it.

evincarofautumn 1 day ago 1 reply      
The opening sentence bothers me. “Rob Pike reports that Dennis Ritchie also has passed away.” (Emphasis mine.) As though he's just some kind of footnote in light of the death of Steve Jobs! Both Jobs and Ritchie were “I don't care if it's impossible, I'm doing it” types, but I feel that Ritchie contributed more to computing as a whole, while Jobs's innovations were mainly in user experience.
dextorious 1 day ago 1 reply      
And one by me for Bjarne Stroustrup:

"They said it shouldn't be done, & he did it".

(yeah, a joke. Humor's not only for Reddit).

andrewflnr 1 day ago 0 replies      
As a young whipper-snapper upstart with some big ideas, this is inspiring. Maybe I'm not quite so crazy after all to think I can pull them off.
pnathan 1 day ago 0 replies      
What a wonderful tribute to a pioneer in our field.
Google Wave and the mythical man month rethrick.com
389 points by michaelneale  3 days ago   99 comments top 20
cletus 3 days ago  replies      
It's an interesting post and raises several cogent points but it misses the biggest problem with Wave: it was a solution in search of a problem.

I say this simply as someone who was, at the time, outside looking in. I know little more than that but it had all the hallmarks of what happens when engineers are running the asylum. Here's this communication medium in which basically all other communication media can be implemented (Email, IM, forum posts, Twitter, etc). It's the kind of general solution that engineers come up with it.

I read a post from someone else (can't find it now but I think it was on Quora) who was familiar with the matter and they were saying the risk-reward thing (which this poster mentions in passing) was all messed up. Basically the incentive structure rewarded mediocrity.

I can't speak with any knowledge of those matters but I can believe it. After all, in a startup what happens if the startup fails? You find a new job. There is a strong incentive to make your runway last and get to your next funding round (or, Heaven forbid, profitability). Inside somewhere as cashed up as Google, those incentives (IMHO) disappear.

If the "startup" fails, what happens? You just move to another part of Google. What do you think the odds were that with Wave going away, any extra Wave incentives became worthless (as would happen in a startup)? Basically zero (IMHO).

rachelbythebay 2 days ago 1 reply      
I was there when "Walkabout" started being bandied about. It irked me to no end that I could jump through all of the hoops and finally get behind the NDA curtain by being hired and then be told "nope, you can't hear about that". That was a severe jolt to the internal culture of the whole company.

There had been other projects which had been kept under wraps successfully. Chrome and V8 were demoed in Seville long before anyone on the outside heard about it. They said keep it quiet, and we did. Google TV had been knowable for ages before it went anywhere externally. There was no reason to think someone would leak Wave.

Instead, they started playing the "we're special and you are not" card, and that started a sense of resentment growing. Not even the infrastructure teams which were going to provide services to them were let in on what was really going to happen in there.

Then after far too long, demo day of Wave arrived. I only stayed long enough to see them hit backspace and have it echo out to everyone else who was connected. I remember my exact comment at the time: "packets". As in, lots and lots and lots of packets flying around to generate RPCs for all of those deltas. Then those turn into XML or whatever going out to web browser clients, and ... yeah. SO many packets. That right there worried me greatly.

So then I see this thing about it not scaling properly and choking JVMs and suddenly it all makes sense.

Oh well. All of the secret code depots and restricted access areas must have been practice for what is now happening with Plus. Entire floors of buildings you can't open as a full-time employee? Yep. More code depots being locked down? Yep.

johnfn 2 days ago 2 replies      
> And this is the essential broader point--as a programmer you must have a series of wins, every single day. It is the Deus Ex Machina of hacker success. It is what makes you eager for the next feature, and the next after that.

I liked the whole article, but this paragraph really stood out to me. It's something I've never thought to put into words, but is so true. Going for days and weeks and not seeing any success in what you're doing is horribly demoralizing. It's happened to me only once, and that was enough to reconsider my appreciation of programming entirely.

It's because the real appeal of programming is, like he said, the incremental gains, the constant moving forward, the iterative process. It's why small side projects are so much fun, because there's nothing getting in the way of your next small accomplishment. It's what draws people (like myself) to programming in the first place. And in its lack, it's the slow killer of large projects.

Thanks for the article.

robfig 3 days ago 2 replies      
"Now, I don't mean to imply that Wave did not have some very smart engineers working on the UI, we certainly did. But talent is different from experience. The latter is a guard against 3.5MB of compressed, minified, inlined Javascript. Against 6 minute compiles to see CSS changes in browser. Against giving up on IE support (at the time, over 60% of browser market share) because it was simply too difficult. Against Safari running out of memory as soon as Wave was opened on an iPad."

I wonder how much of the failure was this sort of thing vs just having a product that people didn't understand. (I definitely agree that if the UI had been simple and snappy it would have been better)

On the bright side, I feel pretty confident that some real startup will take the open sourced Wave technology and do something good...

dilap 3 days ago 1 reply      
You need the same mix of experienced talent working in the UI as you do with traditional "serious" stuff. This is where Apple is simply ahead of everyone else.

Not only does Apple not shunt n00bs at the UI, it actively hires extremely brilliant people to do UI invention/R&D.

E.g., consider the CV of the (obviously brilliant, IMO) "Up and Down the Ladders of Abstraction" guy, Bret Victor (1).

That's about two lightyears removed from "UI is boring and easy; make the junior programmers work on it while we do the algorithmically hard stuff on the backend."

(As an aside, Holy Shit is BV impressive and refreshing -- incredible tech chops combined with awesome aesthetic/design sensibilities, all wrapped up in a humanistic focus on usability...just, damn.)

(1) http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=3099595, http://worrydream.com/#!/cv/bret_victor_resume.pdf, and http://worrydream.com/Bio/

jamieb 3 days ago 6 replies      
UI is hard

hear hear. ui is harder than back-end stuff in my opinion.

nostrademons 3 days ago 0 replies      
I really wish Larry would read this, and the Mythical Man Month in general.
xbryanx 2 days ago 1 reply      
Please stop trying to reinvent the browser scrollbar on your blog. Can't page down with this junk.
mathattack 3 days ago 3 replies      
Great post but I don't follow the connection to the Mythical Man Month which is about having the wisdom to avoid tossing bodies at a late project.

The article seems to be more about making sure you have experience on the GUI.

All this said, i shouldn't complain about the title - rather i should just be happy the author shared hills lessons.

heat_miser 3 days ago 1 reply      
Fantastically generous post. I wish more engineers were as publicly honest about their own, and their team's failures so that other engineers and engineering teams can learn from the experience.
acak 3 days ago 0 replies      
The 20% time policy that Google allows for one's own projects has probably served as a nice way to experience those "small wins" he is referring too (though the win may not be in the main line of work). I wish I had a similar policy at the place I work - I feel I could have avoided a burnout phase.

I'd be curious to know if Google revokes that policy for focus teams like the ones that worked on Wave and Google+.

Hitchhiker 3 days ago 0 replies      
Great post. Reminded me of the following for some curious reason :

" If the land mechanism as a whole is good, then every part is good, whether we understand it or not. If the biota, in the course of aeons, has built something we like but do not understand, then who but a fool would discard seemingly useless parts? To keep every cog and wheel is the first precaution of intelligent tinkering. " - Aldo Leopold

j_baker 2 days ago 0 replies      
With apologies to jwz:

Some people, when confronted with a problem, think "I know, I'll hire more engineers." Now they have two problems.

johnx123-up 2 days ago 0 replies      

   At the end we were close to 60 engineers

I guess, this is the reason for the failure. Probably 2-7 would be ideal for this kind of experimental projects.

bane 2 days ago 0 replies      
Start small, grow organically, don't use Java.
brok3nmachine 2 days ago 0 replies      
I really appreciate this post. I'm going through a very similar experience myself. Was at a startup, which was recently acquired by a larger corporation. Since I've previously worked at both small(and fast growing) and large companies in the past, I thought I possibly had the experience to make the new larger team I would be working with more "agile". But taking months to do what I normally accomplish in a week or two definitely is hurting personal morale. I'll try to achieve some daily small wins though=)
yuhong 3 days ago 1 reply      
I wonder if Google Wave inspired creation of Chrome Frame, and if IE9 would had enough HTML5 features to support Google Wave.
vegai 2 days ago 2 replies      
One of the lessons: Do not use Java for production applications.
perfunctory 2 days ago 0 replies      
> I don't regret a single moment of being associated with it

This is a human nature. It's very hard to admit you just waisted your time.

gunz_rozez 2 days ago 0 replies      
Like most acquisitions a great concept gets stuck in neutral....not sure why....wave fundamentally is a fantastic idea....but a complex problem to solve....the fact that no one else has solved what wave attempted to solve is in itself a testament....but having said that I don't think it was an issue of programmers coming up with a problem and then trying to solve it....I think virtual communication as we know it is still pretty bad....and this post gives you a good insight into how complex problems cannot be solved by adding more people to the team....that just adds more complexity to an already complex problem.
RIP, Dennis Ritchie, Father of Unix and C tagxedo.com
385 points by HardyLeung  1 day ago   3 comments top 2
bilalhusain 1 day ago 1 reply      
can i get a t-shirt?
The last time I saw Steve Jobs pluckytree.org
379 points by stevenleeg  2 days ago   44 comments top 11
nirvana 2 days ago 3 replies      
I've been following Steve Jobs since I was a kid, about 30 years ago. Woz was more my hero then, but I read everything I could about Jobs even then, and ever since.

I think Jobs transformed himself on a fundamental level. The young Steve seemed arrogant and self centered. Getting pushed out of Apple seems to have been a kick to the soul, and then in his 10 years away, he seems to have changed everything about him that was bad. Just check out how he responded to the insult given to him at the 1997 after WWDC session. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FF-tKLISfPE

Now that enough time has passed, all the people who were bashing Jobs from 1990-2011 are back bashing Jobs again.

But I think these stories are the real guy.

I was in his presence on a couple of occasions. You can fake some things, but its really hard to fake who you are. Everyone has their good and bad days... but one thing I can say about Steve, he was always genuine.

Made him a great salesperson, too, cause even if he was wrong, he believed.

So, I am grateful for these anecdotes. I'm eternally grateful for the 2005 commencement address. He was so private, and for good reason, and until the biography comes out these are some of the few views we have to him as a person. (I think the biography is going to be very revealing, and surprising when it comes out, since he's such a "control freak" but I think he didn't exercise any control, and people will be shocked.)

tptacek 2 days ago 1 reply      
I think one of the things that made Jobs death such a punch to the gut for me was the fact that until very recently, we all had some hope that his health problems were chronic, debilitating, but not terminal (Joe Nocera had, for instance, reported that Jobs cancer had not recurred at his last medical L.O.A.).

When Jobs' death was announced, I immediately began reevaluating the little moments and snapshots we had of Jobs in the last year; his head resting on his wife's shoulder after a talk, his voice at the Cupertino city council meeting. Someone else pointed out how remarkable it was that Jobs had achieved all he had while staring death in the face. Remarkable, yes, but also very sad.

So, I'm relieved at stories like this, showing Jobs enjoying his life even as he knew it was drawing to a close.


Samuel_Michon 2 days ago 2 replies      
As I too was (and am) a nobody, who got to meet Steve Jobs on several occasions, I bring you: My first encounter with Steve: http://dailyperry.com/post/11206943414/my-first-meeting-with...
joshaidan 1 day ago 2 replies      
I like the tidbid about Jobs knowing how to focus the iPhone by tapping a part of the screen. He's one of the few CEOs who know how to use their products. What was it, Eric Schmidt never used Google Buzz or Wave?
philwelch 13 hours ago 0 replies      
A story about Steve taking a photo, and his attention to detail in doing so, is especially fitting because of his apparent passion for photography. You could tell in his keynotes that he was especially proud of iPhoto, which seemed to be his favorite application to demo, and he is said to have served as photographer at Larry Ellison's wedding.

This story isn't about an important, busy man with his own problems stopping to have a normal interaction with naive strangers. It's about a man appreciating the important, everyday moment in life when a family asks a bypasser to take their picture to document their memories of going to a special place, and seeing through their eyes the difference his work has made.

watmough 2 days ago 2 replies      
The man seems to be an infinite source of eye-moistening stories.

Really nice, thanks.

_THE_PLAGUE 2 days ago 1 reply      
What a wonderful story. Just when I thought I had shed all the tears I was going to shed over this over this past week, it just all comes right back. He was a legend, but also a good human being. A true rarity.
teja1990 1 day ago 0 replies      
It's a great story.
Steve is a human being , yes humans do make mistakes , else who else will. Its the ones who change themselves are the ones to talk about, he is one of them. Steve was arrogant and cocky during the starting days of apple. Come on guys, he was still in his 20s and owns millions, all self made who wouldn't be ? After his return he was a completely different man. These days i see some posts talking about Steve's grey days , this story shows what kinda person he really was at the end. SO lets forget about his past grey days and lets try taking the good in him :)
tonio09 1 day ago 0 replies      
ok. wtf is going on. why does this story have 314 points? it's about a man taking a photo of a couple. Is this supposed to be a top quality post or what? Why does it matter that the man was Steve Jobs and not some random dude? Did you get more out of this story one way or the other? HN FAIL.
napierzaza 2 days ago 6 replies      
That makes no sense. If you are as much a fan as you bring your family there, but you don't know what Steve Jobs looks like? Has he not be on the cover of absolutely everything since 2007?
lhnz 1 day ago 5 replies      
I just started laughing after reading this article but I mean no disrespect.

It's an inane story about a man that takes a photo for some tourists.

Take a step back. I know many consider him your hero but he was a human being. It should not be surprising or interesting that Steve did normal things.

It's very interesting to me how society both elevates leaders and then humanizes them while adding modern societies virtues. It reminds me of how heroic and chivalric virtues were mixed into Arthurian literature.

I'd love to read a parody. Perhaps there could be a set of parables with Steve doing normal human things which represent modern human virtues.

250x Speed Improvements with Microcaching (and No New Code) fennb.com
330 points by taybenlor  1 day ago   69 comments top 19
patio11 1 day ago 3 replies      
A national radio campaign is likely to bring hundreds or thousands of visitors spread over hours, not hundreds of thousands of visitors spread over seconds, so I probably would not take any particular action to harden a site in anticipation of it. It is a poor use of engineering resources and adds technical risk with no corresponding benefit. (n.b. Pasting code you got from a blog post, particularly code marked as kinda broken, is not a risk-free endeavor! I love nginx, don't get me wrong, but paste in snippets from two different blog posts and watch the sparks fly if you don't understand how nginx handles, e.g., location priority.)
nirvana 1 day ago 6 replies      
"If you have personalized pages (ie: majority logged-in users) this approach isn't going to work. "

I've considered this problem, and am working on a solution for nirvana[1]. The biggest challenge to this project has been to take a language (coffeescript) that is sequential and run it in a distributed environment, without the programmer having to know distributed programming. One of the techniques I'm applying is making a response (in this case, a web page) the result of a collection of components, which are rendered separately in the same context. (EG: The context is the headers of the request, plus the user record if the user is logged in, etc.)

So, the request comes in, the components are loaded from the cache, they are executed (in parallel) all with a copy of the state, their results are aggregated and that result can run thru templating to produce a webpage that is returned.

The idea then becomes, instead of executing the code for every component in every request, if the component has no context specific requirements (e.g.: it is the same for every user, it's a static element, or it's dynamic, and but doesn't need to be generated every time) .. then it can be flagged as cacheable. The caching would also have a staleness factor (Eg: 1m, 5m 10m).[2]

My hope is that you can have pages that are custom per user, but that also contain heavy impact results (say a graph produced by an expensive operation), where the results come form cache, the static components come from cache, but the user specific parts are dynamically generated each request.

This component approach not only lets the code be rendered in parallel, and often not even rendered, but instead pulled from cache, but it should allow for more convenient re-use of common elements and features across a site.

I hadn't considered caching for just 1s, though. Will have to think about that.

[1] Nirvana is CoffeeScript web development backed by erlang and Riak. Instantly distributed coffeescript. It will be open source, hopefully soon. Follow @nirvanacore on Twitter if you're interested in being notified.

[2] Planned. There are some implications of this that will require tradeoffs, so initially it may just be a flag of Yes/No for "Cache for up to 1 minute." or some value like that.

wheels 1 day ago 3 replies      
> This is fine, up until the point where you get on HN and Reddit at the same time

Incidentally, you don't actually need much to handle that. Our web server is a wimpy 256 MB VPS and we've had (Wordpress) blog entries hit the front page of HN and Reddit simultaneously and weather the storm without missing a beat. An appropriately setup Apache + Wordpress SuperCache does the trick just fine. (Hint: The default Apache configuration isn't "appropriate".) You're not going to hit anywhere even close to 2k requests per second on the front page of those two.

jbyers 1 day ago 1 reply      
Nice technique. The number of distinct dynamic pages you expect to get hammered still must be regenerated within that second. With a longer window, some wp-admin or logged-in-user detection, and a third-party comment service, I could see this being a standard nginx wordpress configuration.
zzzeek 13 hours ago 0 replies      
Microcaching at the page level is of course a great idea for a dynamic app, but only works if the content being served is identical for all users - in which case why not just use static pages. Oh right, because we only know how to use Wordpress. Ditching wordpress for a static generator should be the preferred route, if possible. (use disqus or similar for comments).

The vast universe of truly dynamic apps that we write in Rails or Python or whatever usually have page elements that are specific to the user's session - "Welcome John Smith" and all that (edit: oh i see he mentioned that at the bottom). So page-level caching isn't feasible there, unless like in the case of disqus you're using javascript to inject personalized content from another server. But for a really interactive web application where coarse grained solutions like this aren't feasible, I'm still a proponent of page-component level caching, something you normally do in your app layer, not the web server layer.

mopoke 1 day ago 2 replies      
I like this solution and am definitely tempted to give it a go.

Anyone got any thoughts on the best way to do this on a page with personalisation? (and this is really simple personalisation - one section of the page changes depending on whether you're logged in or not).

My solution would probably be to have the personalised section load as an async request but then you'd need to make sure that the async request can handle the same load as the microcached content.

Any other ideas?

eli 8 hours ago 0 replies      
I think I'd rather just install Varnish than try to reinvent it in my ngnix config. As a bonus you'll get faster serving of static assets too.
simonw 22 hours ago 1 reply      
I really like the idea of setting a cookie that bypasses caching for a few seconds - I've heard the same technique used by Facebook, who set a cookie that ties you to the MySQL master server rather than the slave after you perform a write action so that you'll see your update without waiting for replication lag.

It relies on using the Max-Age Cookie argument though, and I was under the impression that IE doesn't implement that correctly. Anyone know what the status of IE and max-age cookies is?

michaelbuckbee 1 day ago 1 reply      
This seems pretty similar to using Varnish or Squid as a reverse proxy (though likely easier to setup).
jbarham 18 hours ago 0 replies      
Given that I'm currently personally setting up a caching cluster to host www.melbournecup.com (aka "The Race That Stops a Nation"), being able to gracefully handle a huge spike in traffic is something that is very much on my mind! :)

The site itself is developed in Django and so far I'm just planning on putting a bunch of Varnish caches (behind a load balancer) in front of the Django server. I'm using the very nice Django Varnish app (https://github.com/justquick/django-varnish) in the Django instance to automatically purge pages from the cache as they're updated.

I'm deliberately trying to keep the setup as simple as possible, but the goal is to have a fast site and fresh content.

Tips from others who have handled similar traffic loads would be very welcome!

brown9-2 1 day ago 1 reply      
Is it fair to compare those ab benchmarks when the concurrency value is different for each (4 and 500)?

Would be curious to see how the original config handled 500 concurrent requests.

ck2 16 hours ago 0 replies      
The only way to make wordpress fast and responsive is to bypass wordpress entirely.

You don't need to do anything complex - just install wp-super-cache, set a long timeout, and most importantly add the .htaccess rules it generates to bypass wordpress entirely and serve the cached static files directly.

todsul 20 hours ago 2 replies      
The big issue here is the application type. This only works well for a very particular type of application. That is, a highly dynamic site that is NOT dependent on user logins.

1) If the site is only moderately dynamic, you can just use plain Nginx and set fastcgi_cache to a few minutes or hours. Much less load on the server. I like to keep things simple, I wouldn't even bother with Apache. Porting rewrites to Nginx is super simple.

2) If the site is customised on a per-user basis, 'microcaching' will break the site and have disastrous consequences. Every user will see the system customised for whichever user primed the cache.

My primary website is user based. That means this 'microcaching' concept wont work at all. It would be catastrophic.

That's where Varnish comes in with ESI. I really wish I didn't have to use Varnish. It's slower than Nginx, it adds another layer of complexity, and in testing, it seems slightly flaky. But what Varnish+ESI allows is caching of parts of my page that aren't user specific. I.e. header, footer, etc.

If you want to see my test results of Nginx vs Varnish, see http://todsul.com/nginx-varnish

crikli 1 day ago 0 replies      
Is this using nginx in lieu of Apache or nginx in front of apache, acting as a reverse proxy or similar?
mike-cardwell 19 hours ago 0 replies      
The few times I've been on the front page of Slashdot it has eclipsed the traffic that I've had from being on the front page of Reddit. Hacker News barely causes a blip.
splitrocket 1 day ago 1 reply      
I've been doing essentially the same thing with my wordpress install. Went from a few hundred reqs/second on a cheap linode to over 4k reqs/second. (I think the limit was the benchmarking tool, not nginx) I've got the nginx config if anyone is interested.
bbrizzi 20 hours ago 0 replies      
Anyone know of an equivalent in Apache?
dangrossman 1 day ago 0 replies      
APC on its own is an opcode cache, not a page/data cache. Did you write your own code to save pages into it and retrieve them? Or is there a cache plugin for WordPress you're using which uses APC as its data store?
rymedia 1 day ago 0 replies      
Very impressive.
Faster-Than-Light Neutrino Puzzle Claimed Solved by Special Relativity technologyreview.com
326 points by dhimes  15 hours ago   94 comments top 11
DanielBMarkham 13 hours ago  replies      
Okay. This should be an easy one but somehow I'm getting stumped.

I understand the difference in frames between the GPS satellites and the ground, but the sats themselves are fixed to each other, right? And the ground stations are also fixed to each other. Each pair is in a separate frame.

But the measurement was on the ground, and the ground stations are not accelerating relative to each other, not from the satellites. So is this saying that the ground stations set their clocks initially wrong because of their relative movement to the satellites? If so, wouldn't this be proven out by comparing the neutrinos time to the time of a photon?

kiwidrew 15 hours ago 2 replies      
But the GPS satellites and receivers already correct for these relativistic effects. Specifically:

"The engineers who designed the GPS system included these relativistic effects when they designed and deployed the system. ... Further, each GPS receiver has built into it a microcomputer that (among other things) performs the necessary relativistic calculations when determining the user's location." [1]

[1] http://www.astronomy.ohio-state.edu/~pogge/Ast162/Unit5/gps....

martincmartin 15 hours ago 0 replies      
If true, this just goes to show how many effects you need to take into account when dealing with numbers that are 2 thousands of a percent. Effects that can normally be ignored because they're in the noise, turn out to be in the signal instead.
thegrossman 15 hours ago 8 replies      
This is an almost trivial application of special relativity. It was be absolutely shocking if the dozens of scientists involves in the neutrino experiment didn't take this into account.
jasondavies 15 hours ago 1 reply      
Link to arXiv paper: http://arxiv.org/abs/1110.2685
daimyoyo 13 hours ago 1 reply      
Until the faster than light result can be recreated in an independent experiment, I am treating this like cold fusion. Neat result and absolutely deserving of further investigation, but not definitive.
alain94040 14 hours ago 1 reply      
Wouldn't an obvious test involve sending something else than neutrinos through the same path, and measure that they are slower?
ck2 14 hours ago 1 reply      
Why don't they have synchronized atomic clocks on the ground?
martinkallstrom 15 hours ago 1 reply      
And Einstein snickers high up in the heavens, his hair as white and woolly as the cloud upon which he partakes his afternoon slumbers.
crizCraig 10 hours ago 0 replies      
What's the general consensus on whether or not this was actually debunked?
macaroni 14 hours ago 2 replies      
could someone please explain this, i wish i could say i get it, but i am so confused. i don't understand, are they not using gps just to synchronize the clocks on both ends? what does it matter if in orbit the distance seems shorter or longer if observed (viewed) from the satellites (is this what they are saying?)?
Why your new programming language won't work colinm.org
301 points by mcmillen  3 days ago   64 comments top 16
Cushman 3 days ago 6 replies      
I understand how it gets here, but I wish people wouldn't upvote this kind of pointless pandering. I'm sure it has a place somewhere, but it's not HN.

Some new things fail because of obvious flaws. Some fail because of non-obvious flaws. A very few things succeed despite both kinds. Nothing succeeds because it's perfect-- and that includes every programming language we use today.

If there's one thing HN drills into our heads, it's that failure is the only path to success. Yes, your new programming language is very unlikely to take off. It might be for reasons that occurred to this one dude, it might not. Either way, failing to make a new programming language is one of the best ways to come to understand the decisions that went into the development of the ones that succeeded.

There are useful criticisms to be made. "Here are some things you probably haven't thought of. Here are some projects you probably aren't aware of." Many people have managed to write such essays quite lucidly, without discouraging people from experimenting with failure on their own.

"You won't succeed because you suck, and I hate you," which (s/snark//g) is all I read here, is completely unhelpful. Cleverly though it may be written out, and apropos as it may be on a programming humor blog somewhere, it's antithetical to everything HN is about.

And anyway, none of this stuff applies to MY language.

srl 3 days ago 2 replies      
I actually read this the opposite way from the way the rest of you ([ ] appear to be [ ] are ) reading it.

No language dodges all of these checkboxes - or even 70% of them, really. I mean, just look at the "Unfortunately, your language (has/lacks)" list. A language which correctly had or lacked all of those as appropriate (jeezus - jut determining what the correct combination is would light half the blagoblag on fire...) would obviously be quite sucky.

The point, then, is that no language can make it through this checklist - and no language should have to. If your objection can be found on this checklist, and you don't have anything significant to add, then your feedback isn't really helping, is it?

Your feedback

[ ] Can be expressed as a linear sum of items on this checklist (see "trash can")

[ ] Cannot be expressed as such (see "internet")

drblast 3 days ago 6 replies      
About ten years ago, a similar checklist was the default response to proposed solutions to spam problems.

And then someone wrote a proposal that checked many of the boxes on that list, but had the odd feature of actually working quite well.

I think that guy quit went on to start a news web site. I guess he was discouraged by the checklist.

jeffreymcmanus 3 days ago 0 replies      
"You have reinvented Brainfuck but non-ironically" is classic.
pnathan 3 days ago 2 replies      
That's pretty win. I nearly laughed tea through my nose.

In particular, this was win:

    [ ] You have reinvented Lisp but worse
[ ] You have reinvented Javascript but worse
[ ] You have reinvented Java but worse
[ ] You have reinvented C++ but worse
[ ] You have reinvented PHP but worse
[ ] You have reinvented PHP better, but that's still no justification
[ ] You have reinvented Brainf*** but non-ironically

orenmazor 3 days ago 0 replies      
I enjoy this final check item:

"[ ] Programming in this language is an adequate punishment for inventing it."

derleth 3 days ago 0 replies      
Really, it only needs one:

    [ ] It is a new programming language.

Not really a judgement of the language, though, and it equates 'work' with 'be used by people who did not develop it'.

alttag 3 days ago 0 replies      
Most excellent. Timely too, given the recent HN links on Dart, PHP.reboot, etc.
nprincigalli 3 days ago 1 reply      
They should add this one too:

  [ ] the language name sounds too much like 
clojure, closure, clozure, clojurescript or clojureclr

zobzu 3 days ago 1 reply      
"[ ] You have reinvented PHP better, but that's still no justification"
I always like this one. Even thus I have no real thing against PHP, it makes me smile.
ericdykstra 3 days ago 0 replies      
Wow, I don't think I've seen this presentation of a joke in at least 10 years.
Not exactly sure it's worth bringing back.
defdac 2 days ago 0 replies      
It's kindof funny that when you paste this url to Google+, the url will read "C Programming Language Checklist" (because of the favicon..)
rwmj 2 days ago 0 replies      
He should add:

[ ] Manual memory management is not free.

wbhart 3 days ago 0 replies      
A lot of languages fill a much needed gap in the universe.
mathsive 3 days ago 0 replies      
[ ] Clever but I'm not eager [ ] to

   [ ] take thoughts on programming languages from

[ ] someone [ ] (s) incompetent at markup.

[ ] Sorry.

DiabloD3 3 days ago 5 replies      
I can pretty much tell anyone who asks why your new programming language won't work.

Its because people like me, the used C for 15 years, Perl for 10, and can't stand Python/Ruby/C#/OtherNewFangledLanguage types... simply do not care about your language.

Yup, its that simple. If you can't hook the guys who've been around the block a few times, what hope does your language have?

Forced Exercise's Effects on the Brain nytimes.com
271 points by robg  1 day ago   55 comments top 13
scotch_drinker 1 day ago 2 replies      
I'd be interested to see the difference in "forced" versus "high intensity" exercise. What if the animals are forced to run at a much lower pace than they prefer? Do we get the same results?

My guess is that the forced part of this has little to do with the effects. It's the increased intensity that is providing benefits.

brudgers 1 day ago 1 reply      
I am not an exercise physiologist, however, moving people from an inefficient noodling cadence of 60 rpm to a highly efficient 90 rpm may have played a role in shaping the results.

As any cyclist knows, over the long term, 90 rpm's is far more comfortable than 60 and it is my understanding that 180 strides per minute (i.e. 90 with each foot) is also optimum for distance running.

codex 1 day ago 0 replies      
Wankerish speculation: Involuntary exercise may tell the body that it needs to work smarter, not harder. Hence, more brain cells. In prehistoric times, it would be a warning signal that risk of death or is elevated. In a world of few calories, the body must prioritize, and relies on certain signals to set priorities. Voluntary exercise doesn't indicate nearly as much danger.
Almaviva 1 day ago 2 replies      
How are you forced to produce power output on a tandem bicycle? You can force the cadence but what happens if you just relax and let your legs go around with the pedals? I would think you would be producing zero power on your own, not exactly a grueling forced workout, or am I missing something?
fferen 1 day ago 1 reply      
Is it the "forced" part that yields results, or the simple fact that it was more exercise? The article said they were forced to go at a speed faster than what they were comfortable with, yet the rodent study had them forced to go slower than their natural pace, with better results. A follow up study forcing people to go slower than usual would be interesting.
tremendo 1 day ago 4 replies      
In Parkinson's disease equilibrium is usually very impaired, yet from this article apparently the subjects are still able to ride bicycles. I wonder how big of a confounder that is, or perhaps it's patients in very early stages of the disease, or relatively young. Having an elderly patient risk falling from a bike or a forced-effort threadmill machine doesn't seem to me like a reasonable risk to take. What other forms can this forced exercise take? Swimming, running on sand, these can be taxing but how do you incorporate the "forced" factor in?
Parkinson's is an auto-immune disease, so other approaches involve trying to minimize immune responses, via diet. Apparently ketogenic diets have also been used with varying degrees of success.
javaru 1 day ago 0 replies      
"In one study from 2008, rats forced to run wound up with significantly more new brain cells after eight weeks than those who ran when they chose, even though the latter animals ran faster. "

This earlier study's conclusion that the forced aspect was more important than pushing the exerciser outside of their comfort zone. It seems like they should experiment with 45rpm forced exercise to see if that has the same effect. Though, it may have been just the article making that logical jump.

orky56 1 day ago 0 replies      
I'm curious to find out if what they're trying to isolate is "discipline." I'm not talking about the colloquial definition of discipline but rather exercising the ability to do what's best even if it's not convenient.

I'm talking about the foresight of the intellect over the mind and body. Often times, when we rationalize things or activities just become habits, the mind and body passively agree. I'd argue that's not actually practicing discipline anymore since there's nothing within ourselves (mind & body) to fight.

nphase 1 day ago 2 replies      
I'm by no means an expert, but from my reading of body hacking and dieting etc, it seems that higher intensity workouts lead to increased cortisol release, a hormone released in response to stress. I'm not sure if this is the hormone they're referencing though, because IIRC extended periods of elevated cortisol levels are associated with Parksinson's/Alzheimers...
danso 1 day ago 1 reply      
Can't wait for the first standing-desks-chained-to-a-treadmill to pop up.
jmitcheson 1 day ago 0 replies      
It's pretty clear that "forced" in the context of the experiment is being physically forced to do more work, not being "forced" like being forced to eat your vegetables.

I think it has something to do with external energy being added, and the subject not having control over the speed.. I don't know if a treadmill really meets this criteria. I think you would have to be physically strapped into the treadmill :P

kb101 1 day ago 0 replies      
So running on a treadmill going so fast you can barely keep up actually makes you smarter? Great, quit my corporate job for nothing.
eitally 1 day ago 4 replies      
Honestly, this seems like one of those experiments which, in retrospect, provides obvious results. Exercise is a net positive for physical health. Why wouldn't forced exercise provide an additional cognitive/neurological health benefit in addition to the cardio/muscular benefits? I know this is a completely simplistic and unscientific opinion, but it seems to make sense.
Google Killing Off Buzz and Code Search googleblog.blogspot.com
259 points by thisisblurry  10 hours ago   110 comments top 39
saurik 9 hours ago  replies      
So, in 2005 I was involved in a company that thought "man, it would be great to build a search engine for source code". I even started putting together components for it, such as a model for finding text inside of larger documents that had statistical properties similar to code, auto-detecting the language, so you could find code snippets inside of blog posts.

However, by the time we got organized enough to actually do it, Google Code launched, and had this really awesome code searching feature, that everyone considered to be "more than good enough" and "comprehensive, as Google is indexing the hell out of stuff like this".

But, now, Google has now determined that that wasn't sustainable, and has shut down the project. Which means that both our company, and any other company, that thought it had a sustainable model for running such a project, and at this point would probably be "pretty awesome", never started, and we are all suddenly thrust back into 2005, unable to search for code.

This... (I now emphatically point at the previous paragraphs) is why I don't like Google very much: they have such large resources available to them that they tend to just swoop in and offer an unsustainable service at a loss, training users that "things should be so free it hurts: in fact, they must be losing money on every use of this" (Google Voice being a great example), thereby stifling innovation by people who can't possibly undercut that.

Note: this isn't even a problem specific to Google... startup companies that get VC money tend to also cause this problem. They get tons of money, offer a service at a heavy loss while they use that burn time to determine a business model, actively knowing that they are operating at a loss in order to get users as fast as possible from other people who might try to get them.

Of course, the result is that the company usually either totally implodes (typical of any startup) or, even more insidiously (for the projects that actually becoming successful, even quite popular / common), come up with a business model so ludicrous that the users actively revolt against the entire concept of the service...

... and, where do they go? To some other free service offered by another company that managed to get equally large sums of VC money because they point at that other company that had hundreds of millions of users that just failed because of a bad business model, something they will know how to fix (in a couple years or so, once they get around to figuring that part out...).

:( I liked Google Code search, and I'm going to miss it.

CJefferson 10 hours ago 5 replies      
I'm very disappointed to see google code search go.

It was very useful (for me at least, don't read this as a comment on the whole committee / process) in finishing the new C++ standard, and answering the question "Well, did anyone ever really write code like X?" (the answer was usually yes).

Buzz makes a lot of sense, although I imagine some users will be disappointed it couldn't be more 'cleanly' imported into google+.

ajays 9 hours ago 2 replies      
I may be biased, but: I feel like Google's "geek cred" is slipping. It feels like PMs (and their "monetization strategies") are gaining control over at El Goog, shutting down anything that isn't "revenue positive".

You can't measure geek cred. You can't measure the second-order effect of services like Code Search.

So the slow slide of Google turning into "just another tech company" starts...

chaosmachine 9 hours ago 1 reply      
Google Code Search has been pretty broken (for my use case, anyway) for a while. I build Drupal Code Search[1] on top of their API back in 2008, and a few months later, they stopped indexing code from Drupal.org. Since then, 2 new versions of Drupal (6 and 7) have been released, and none of the new code has been indexed, making my site largely useless except for legacy code searches.

I guess I will just shut it down completely come 2012, I don't have any way to do grep-style searches at the same speed Google's API could.

[1] http://drupalcodesearch.com/

kingkilr 10 hours ago 0 replies      
No! I loved code search, I'd use it as evidence when proposing the deprecation of API methods in open source projects :)
blauwbilgorgel 8 hours ago 1 reply      
Very saddened to see 'University Research Program for Google Search' go. Google's index offers an exciting corpus for linguistics and AI study.

The current search API's just don't cut it for proper research (for example: just 64 results per query and 1000 queries a day [1] and the "estimatedResultCount" being off by a factor of 10-100 [2]).

I believe spammers were abusing the Google translate API to spin articles in different languages. This contributed to it being closed down. I don't hope that Google's search API is crippled to thwart the bad apples. Because then those that follow the TOS (don't crawl Google's results) have little recourse, but to halt their research (Yahoo Boss and Bing Api give little solace).

[1] Too few for either deep analysis or learning queries like:

  "X is a *" and "X, such as *,"

[2] Estimated results for "test". With API: 257.000.000 vs. manual search 2.750.000.000

ch 10 hours ago 1 reply      
Sad to see Code Search go. I just tried a simple search for 'pthread_t' on both Koders (http://www.koders.com) and Krugle (http://opensearch.krugle.org). Both are mentioned elsewhere in the comments as possible alternatives.

Krugle found no results. Koders found results, but the response time was very large.

Both have a long way to go in being a viable Code Search replacement.

Hopefully Code Search just gets rolled into the primary Google search product.


I was just looking over the Koders results. It is tokenizing 'pthread_t' as 'pthread' 't', so the top results are not what I would consider useful. I'm sure I can change some settings to get proper tokenization for my languages identifiers, but that is more work up front.

MatthewPhillips 6 hours ago 0 replies      
Headline should be: Search company shuts down search product to focus on social networking.

I suppose their Blog Search is next.

antimora 5 hours ago 1 reply      

"Google's mission is to organize the world's information"

How is so when code search is going away? Google did excellent job at indexing the code, so why to throw away what's already working?

bdonlan 10 hours ago 0 replies      
It's too bad about code search - that was really helpful for finding example code (and linking to specific snippets of code within open-source projects!)
chintan 8 hours ago 0 replies      
Speaking of focus, we went from

"Organizing Worlds Information"


"Organizing People in to Circles"

Indeed exciting times!

spiffistan 10 hours ago 1 reply      
There's a competitor to google code search at least: http://www.koders.com/

Actually, I'm kinda glad they're phasing stuff out. It shows courage to do that, a lesson probably hard learned at google. They have a myriad of products, but would probably do much better with them if they thoroughly finished them before release.

sdfjkl 8 hours ago 0 replies      
I wouldn't miss Code search much if the regular Google search would understand regular expressions or terms with underscores. But it does not, and also increasingly annoys me by misinterpreting my search terms and searching for the things it believes I meant instead of the things I told it to search for.

And while DuckDuckGo has a much nicer search frontend, it's Bing-fed index sadly sucks, making it no universal replacement for Google's declining frontend.

sx 4 hours ago 0 replies      
At Pattern Insight (http://patterninsight.com) we have build a source code search engine. We do not give this to our customers as a standalone tool most of the time but it's the underlying technology for our product, Code Assurance, which helps companies eliminate bugs from their releases.

We use it internally to search our code / libraries, if anyone is interested in indexing/searching his own code, especially if it's open source, I would be happy to provide a copy. Email: spiros at patterninsight.com

kpozin 10 hours ago 2 replies      
This is awful. Code Search is an indispensable tool for finding reference code and real-world uses of various libraries. I don't know of anything on par with it.
EGreg 10 hours ago 0 replies      
I can understand about Google Buzz ... they are replacing it with Google+. But what about Code Search? It's like they mention it once, and then don't give a reason. I think that was useful for many people! I wonder why they are closing it...
tambourine_man 7 hours ago 0 replies      
It never worked all that well for me.

What I want is a "curl | grep" for the web. Just something that searches the entire page, including <head> <!--> etc. I can do without fancy semantics.

But Google tries to be smart even on quoted queries. And that annoys me deeply.

pbreit 10 hours ago 1 reply      
I'm surprised about the Code Search news. That seems to be squarely within Google's mission.
mahmoudimus 10 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm actually really surprised that code search is getting phased off. It's a great resource to see how libraries are implemented in the wild -- it also exposes some common errors that lots of library authors make.

So sad to see this one go -- but I think it will make for another opportunity to allow a competing site like koders.com to iterate on building a product that developers would love to use...I hope.

dustingetz 10 hours ago 1 reply      
buzz was awesome for link sharing via a bookmarklet to my professional audience (compare to facebook bookmarklet for life stuff). plus isn't there yet -- plus doesn't expose RSS feeds to work with my audience's existing workflows. damn.

any word on a plus RSS api? i want my stream, and i want my +1 feed. i was looking into the +1 stream yesterday, seems like google made it as hard as possible to hit from javascript -- nonstandard http post, no JSONP = i don't know if its possible to do client-side. damn x2.

BrandonM 3 hours ago 0 replies      
Louis CK (you might know him from the popular "Everything's Amazing and Nobody's Happy" video) frequently appears on Opie & Anthony. He makes a similar point regarding chains driving out local stores then closing up shop in this show: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N95IMKRkcBw
siddhant 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Buzz is fine. But what was wrong with Code Search?
alanh 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Why I expected Buzz to be a failure, based on a cursory UX analysis & comparison with existing social products: http://alanhogan.com/buzz-is-already-dead Feb. 2010
kpanghmc 9 hours ago 1 reply      
Does anyone know what they mean by this?

"we will remove iGoogle's social features on January 15, 2012. iGoogle itself, and non-social iGoogle applications, will stay as they are."

Are they referring to Google Chat or are they referring to iGoogle widgets that have "social features" (e.g. Twitter widgets, Facebook widgets, etc.)?

lithiumn 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Hate to see code search go. I always found it useful when having problems with some less-well documented libraries to see how they were used in the real world.
cygwin98 8 hours ago 0 replies      
I hope Google open source the code behind Code Search. They don't have to release all supporting libraries that are specific to Google's infrastructure though. Such that those of us who actually use the service can figure out a scaled-down implementation to serve ourselves.
mcfunley 10 hours ago 0 replies      
I used code search just yesterday. Super lame.
plq 9 hours ago 0 replies      
i don't understand why codesearch has to go. granted, it felt a bit neglected lately, but it was truly useful.

i wish there was a way for google to open source their abandoned projects. i'm sure someone would be willing to offer a similar service by basing it what the google code search already does.

madmath 2 hours ago 0 replies      
I could see a product similar to code search being integrated into services like github and others. Code search wasn't perfect, it basically just searched code. What if you had a product that could, like an IDE, follow method declarations and the like? That'd be cool.
heydenberk 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Also: there will always be people decrying Google's tendency to launch and phase out new products and there will always be people decrying its reticence to try new things even if they fail, and they're probably doing a good job if they're attracting roughly equal amounts of these responses.
suivix 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Google's profit margins greatly exceeded expectations for the last quarter[1]. In response they are shutting down Code Search?


heydenberk 9 hours ago 0 replies      
I liked Buzz's idea of integrating a social inbox with the an email inbox, and in particular I liked Reader integration with Buzz. If Google doesn't integrate Reader and Gmail with Plus more effectively, I'll be spending _less_ time being social with Google than before.
saibotd 7 hours ago 0 replies      
seltzered_ 10 hours ago 2 replies      
does this mean google reader sharing now goes to plus? Me and a close group of friends use google reader a lot for sharing and commenting, personally more than i ever use plus or facebook.

sharing on google reader also shared on google buzz as well though.

antimora 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Oh no, not the code search!
lost-theory 8 hours ago 0 replies      
Nullege is still great search engine for python code.


tlogan 10 hours ago 3 replies      
What is the best alternative to Google Code Search?
boomboom 8 hours ago 0 replies      
rockerarj 9 hours ago 0 replies      
That's what I really like about Google. A company with too many products just hanging in there making losses is a company with a low morale. I think accepting the loss and shutting down low performance products is very important.
It takes three years to build a business jacquesmattheij.com
252 points by swombat  18 hours ago   69 comments top 20
edw519 15 hours ago 4 replies      
Great post, Jacques. Thanks for your kind words.

People might even consider doing business with you, but nobody wants to be 'first' for fear of being burned.

This can also work in your favor...

It's rare, but sometimes you can find someone who does want to be your first customer. When this happens, it's solid gold and one of your fastest shortcuts. Others call them "champions"; I prefer "sugar daddies".

I have had this happen several times with great success. This is how it usually worked...

Sometimes they knew me, but sometimes I was introduced. In every case, they were desperately looking for something they couldn't find, sometimes for years. They would say, "If you could build this, you'd be my hero." (or something like that). They have offered me office space, access to their people and systems, and often an advance because it was in everyone's best interest that I'd succeed. Sometimes, but not always, they wanted equity. And all of them had peers with similar problems, so Prospects 2 thru x were already lined up.

We should all be building stuff people want. When you find one of them with their checkbook open, take a good hard look. It doesn't happen often, but when it does, it can save you a lot of runway.

malux85 17 hours ago 7 replies      
You're right, and this doesn't just apply to I.T. Startups. My step father (who is 70 years old, and still on the board of 6 companies) used to always say to us kids it takes "2 years" to start a company. In the article it says you break even somewhere through year two, which I think is what my father was referring to.

My own experience this seems likely too, I started my own startup about 6 months ago,( solo founder, I'm doing it all myself) and extrapolating my current customer base, and success rate, I think I will break even and then continue to grow organically at the 1.5 year mark.

On a side note here's some stats to keep you new founders going (just a little positive news to add to the mix):

- I'm a solo founder, you can do it too! It's less common, but I have determination like you wouldn't believe, I am up every morning at 4am to go for a run before I put in 3 hours of coding before leaving for my day job.

- I have invested about 500 pounds so far for the cost of the domain and hosting, that's my total expenditure (excluding my time coding it) I have made about 7000 pounds so far, in the last few months with my first customers etc.

- I consider my 'break even' part, to be when I can pay myself a 50,000 pound a year salary and can live comfortably , I think this will be about the 1.5 year mark as stated above.

Keep going all you solo founders, you can do it!

mattmanser 15 hours ago 5 replies      
I thought he'd stopped reading HN?

The original guy he's talking about was just freelancing. I'm a freelancer and I made money from day one. A friend of mine quit his job 2 months back. Again, made money from day one. Difference between us and the guy in the story? We had contacts and relationships already built from working a few years.

What I'm saying is that most of this article is way off the mark for freelancing, you won't lose money the first year as long as:

1. You know how to network and get business

2. See 1

I'm not even very good at it and I still make money.

Also my old company's MD loved recounting how they were profitable within 8 months. The way they did this as a software vendor was to land a big juicy enterprise contract and get paid 30% up front. Just as a counterpoint to the 3 years thing.

There are plenty of businesses you can found which can make money very quickly. It all depends on whether that's the company you want to build, larger vision, longer lag.

Periodic 11 hours ago 1 reply      
A post like this makes me question myself. How do I know when it's right to declare a business failed?

I joined another person on a startup about six months ago. We have one client and it might start expanding, but then again, we are two months past our expected initial launch and at our current rate we won't be launching until January. He has been getting more excited, but I have been getting less excited. I'm pretty sure I want to pull out because our delays seem to mostly be due to poor management by him (it was his project and is his baby) and I don't really trust it in the long run, however there are some other factors. I see our growth plateauing when he runs out of friends who he can convince to pay us, and I am not enjoying working with him.

I get frustrated when people seem to be saying I should just stick it out. Am I just a wimp who is fleeing at the first sign of trouble? Am I just getting jitters about the amount of investment? Or am I wisely investing my time in other activities that will grow my career in other ways? I don't want to invest three years of my life if the warning signs are all there.

I think my saving grace may be that we haven't formally set up a vesting strategy, so I could exit full participation and become an early investor instead. Our lack of paperwork is another one of the warning signs.

csomar 9 hours ago 0 replies      
When I started (3 years ago) I didn't know this. But I was decided: I must make it. And I didn't really care. I saw/read/knew people who made it, I didn't know how much time/work/effort they put to get to such point, but they made it anyway.

I pointed a goal, and I realized that my mental abilities can get me there. Since there are people who did it, why can't I?

I started in my dorm room, living with my family, and having no income for more than 2 years. Well, I knew little about programming at that time, so it's fair that it took me lot of time.

Now things started to move, I'm renting my own flat, purchasing my own Laptops, screens, hardward... I have one full year of savings, so I'm going to work on projects of my own.

TL;DR: Don't give up. You'll get there. Don't worry. Make sure you don't get broke and you have enough savings. Leave your job or plan to. Be Happy.

(Anyone has an idea how to have a good GF? I failed in this)

mikeleeorg 9 hours ago 0 replies      
This reminds me of some casinos (perhaps not the more sophisticated ones though), where playing certain games had a higher chance of success - if you had enough of a bankroll and staying power to last.

I like the underlying premise of how businesses take time to succeed. The timing varies significantly with the type of business though. For restaurants, I've often heard "5 years" as the tipping point. For certain kinds of web-based businesses, it can be shorter. And for capital-intensive businesses, perhaps much, much longer.

But basically, you need enough of a bankroll and staying power to last.

FollowSteph3 7 hours ago 0 replies      
I concur, it takes much more than 6 months. That's barely enough time to build the product/service, nevermind trying to build a customer base.

I recently posted my companies revenue chart over the last 8 years, and if you'll notice in the first 3 years even if there was growth (year 3 was almost double year 1), it still took a while to really get some good growth: http://www.followsteph.com/2011/08/23/landlordmax-2010-best-...

I'd say if you can do it in less than 3 years, that's amazing. Trying to do it in 6 months is unrealistic, you'd need way too much luck to achieve that.

The good news, as you can see from my revenue graph, is that once you get momentum behind you, it makes all the difference. After some time you learn what works and what doesn't, you start to get systems in place, you have a network of customers, and so on.

Btw, 6 months is barely enough time to even just do split testing on a website, nevermind trying to implement what you find and test it again. Any marketing effort takes at least a few months to really get the hang of.

I salute you for being brave enough to share your failure, that's a major step. As someone else said, you will most likely succeed in the future because you can see and admit your mistakes. But please do expect it to take more time. I agree that 3 years is a pretty standard timeframe to get a business going...

happyfeet 12 hours ago 0 replies      
Great post.

When I quit my job in big services firm, I went for advice before moving out & also to say goodbye to one of the vice-presidents (who had run his own start-up which was eventually acquired by this big services company).

His specific message to me was: make sure you have enough money to last 3 years and make sure all your partners will also be able to stick together for 3 yrs. Because anywhere between 2 to 3 yrs is the inflection point when people are forced to quit due to whatever circumstances. If you guys can successfully see through 3 yrs I am sure you'll all figure out ways to make money with your business.

He advised me to start looking at alternate channels to generate revenue right from day one: network & find training / consulting opportunities even while you are building the product. Even one or two weeks of such work in 2 to 3 months will go a long way in sustaining the business was his advice.

swombat 17 hours ago 0 replies      
I almost agree I actually think it takes three years to build an entrepreneur. My thoughts in more detail here: http://swombat.com/2011/10/14/three-years-business not going to repost it in full, since it's quite lengthy).
hv23 17 hours ago 1 reply      
Another data point to support the three year number being thrown about, this one from the founder of Yipit writing about their early struggles: "It took us almost three years to know what exactly we had to do during those three days."


Duckpaddle2 16 hours ago 4 replies      
I just have a small quibble about the statement "3 years to be exact". Having built several companies over the years, no time line is exact. That doesn't mean it's not a good estimate, just that the cliche may be taken literally.

However, how does this fit into the "fail often, fail quickly" advice I have seen so often in this forum? Does quickly mean 3 years? Just a thought...

ja27 13 hours ago 1 reply      
I'm struggling with this idea right now. Some background: I was laid off recently and am torn between getting another coding job or trying to build a business. I'm a bit older, married with kids, and only have about 9 months of savings ready.

So I'd normally never consider starting a business because of this long ramp-up time, but the "gold rush" of mobile apps is still very appealing. It seems quite easy to ramp up quickly there. I know a lot of apps linger in obscurity but I think I understand social / viral marketing well enough to do some decent app launches. I don't need a big exit, just enough to support a family.

What I can't shake is the persistant question of "why isn't everyone doing this?"

richpalmer2 15 hours ago 0 replies      
It's tough to overstate the amount of savings you should put aside. I'd say that even if you save for "18" months - there is a lot that can happen that you wouldn't even think to put on your expense plan, both in your personal and business forecasts.

My cofounder and I quit our jobs and had "12" months saved up according to our plan. 9 months in, and no revenue yet, we found ourselves with no runway left, and needed to get contracting jobs on the side. As Jacques mentions, when you take this approach, a lot of your "good time is spoken for".

tchock23 11 hours ago 0 replies      
Great post. I would add some advice to this based on my experiences... If you're just starting out and are having trouble gaining the trust of your target customers, you should consider seeking out channels through which to sell your services.

In my example, we built credibility with our desired end clients by building great case studies working through channel partners. Once we had these examples under our belt, bigger companies were more likely to trust us. Plus, the channel partner acts as your sales rep until you can get your own sales funnel working in-house.

However, I don't recommend this forever, as selling through a channel has its own set of challenges (e.g., lack of pricing controls, inability to sell into the account without approvals, potential for the channel to copy your product/approach, inability to control the client relationship, etc.).

neovive 10 hours ago 0 replies      
At YCNYC the AirBNB presentation showed the startup curve and dreaded "Trough of Sorrow" (http://adam.heroku.com/past/2008/4/23/the_startup_curve/). It's definitely hard to overcome.
vaksel 16 hours ago 0 replies      
I think it also has to be mentioned that you actually need to be able to extrapolate that with existing growth.

i.e. have enough realistic potential numbers to make it happen without having to rely on the hockey stick growth model. "Oh yeah this month we made $300 profit, but with hockey stick growth, we'll be making $50K in 12 months"

PonyGumbo 13 hours ago 1 reply      
If you can manage to do it while you're working for someone else, it eliminates a considerable amount of risk. Not always possible, though.
teja1990 15 hours ago 0 replies      
Really good post Jack. It will help to plan your future in accordance to your startup.
brador 17 hours ago 3 replies      
I think it was freakonomics that said it takes 10,000 hours to become an expert...which is pretty much 3 years full time. Could this be a universal law?
Ubuntu 11.10 (Oneiric Ocelot) released ubuntu.com
247 points by micrypt  1 day ago   74 comments top 18
Garbage 1 day ago 0 replies      
For me, the most interesting features are:

* 32-bit compatibility on amd64 systems

Ubuntu 11.10 provides "multiarch" support for installing 32-bit library and application packages on 64-bit systems. For all amd64 installs and upgrades, select 32-bit software (like Skype and Flash), will now be installable directly using the same 32-bit packages that are used on i386 installations. You are not required to install the ia32-libs compatibility package. For users, this change means that the 32-bit libraries will always be available at the same time as their 64-bit counterparts, even in the case of security updates, and users will only need to install those 32-bit libraries required by the user's application(s).

* Hybrid CD/USB images supported

All ISO images released with Ubuntu 11.10 are hybrid CD/USB images that can be written directly to a USB disk and booted without the use of special software. Users who wish to enable persistent storage on a USB stick can still use the usb-creator tool to configure the USB stick.

Iv 1 day ago 6 replies      
I wonder if unity can work on my recent laptop. It has a recent nvidia and like most of these, it has the optimus "feature" which for now requires the hackish bumblebee.

It has been years since I had to go in the xorg.conf file, that was the main reason I switched from debian to ubuntu. That is the only feature I wish of any Ubuntu release. Can someone tell me if it has now been implemented ? From the release notes, they don't seem to mention it.

47 1 day ago 2 replies      
Checkout the online tour http://www.ubuntu.com/tour/
I am curious are there any software/libraries which can build a demo/tour like this for any Desktop application?
hristov 1 day ago 2 replies      
I cannot believe they removed the option to run classic. I literally cancelled my update the moment I learned that (on slashdot). I hear there is a way to bring it back but I am worried about compatibility at this point. So I will have to wait a bit and see whether others can get classic to work for ubuntu 11.10 and look for alternative distros.

This is really annoying because the main reason I run ubuntu is so I do not have to deal with testing and installing distros.

lhnn 1 day ago 2 replies      
Ubuntu 11.10 has removed simple configurable items like font size and screensaver into a non-default tool, making them much less accessible to non-hackers.

Combine this with all the usability changes in Unity (alt-tab affects all workspaces, etc.) and you have an environment I'm not too excited to work in.

morrow 1 day ago 1 reply      
Question about the "dash" (menu that appears after clicking the top-left ubuntu logo) - for those who've tried it out - does it let you customize it now? More specifically, does it let you change the main shortcuts like "Browse the web", "View Photos", "Check E-mail", "Listen to music" to other functions? Thanks in advance if anyone's able to help with this.
nphrk 1 day ago 1 reply      
My experience so far:

* Looks nicer.

* You can't modify the panels. I always had some shortcuts there, now I have to go through the menu.

* You can't even change the default icon theme using the customization app. You have to get gnome-tweak-tool (IIRC).

* ALT+F2 doesn't do anything by default. I guess the key bindings are changed/some are disabled by default.

* It tried to install the new ATI drivers, then miserably failed. Trying to fix it, I purged the old drivers, but it still didn't work. This only caused it to freeze at boot time, so I had to the recovery console to fix it.

* Bottom line: never ever upgrade from an old version. Always do a clean install (or pick up a different distro/OS).

* Note: I'm using Gnome (now not so) classic.

clarkevans 1 day ago 1 reply      
It doesn't appear that XMonad works as nicely, at least, I'm unable to get the panel to work. It seems gnome-panel is no longer used, furthermore, right-clicking on the new unity panel to configure it doesn't seem work. XMonad works... I'll just be panel free for a while.
aqrashik 1 day ago 3 replies      
Any reason why Ubuntu just doesn't seem to make the switch to DVD based installation ISOs?

I end up burning the CD images on DVD anyway and would definitely prefer to have a larger selection of available packages on the installation media, even if I didn't end up installing some.

kleiba 1 day ago 1 reply      
Perhaps a more informative link: http://www.ubuntu.com/ubuntu/whats-new
navs 1 day ago 2 replies      
I ran Ubuntu 11.04 on a netbook and performance was terrible. Switching to Unity 2D helped a bit but it was still struggling. Any indication 11.10 will work better?

Of course I'm gonna give this a try regardless but I'd like to hear from netbook owners if they've noticed better performance.

jaz 1 day ago 0 replies      
If you're on a laptop, and the trackpad stops working after upgrading, try one of these solutions in the terminal:

synclient TouchpadOff = 0


sudo gedit /etc/modprobe.d/touchpad.conf and in that file type "options psmouse proto=imps" (no quotes).

The second solution worked on my Lenovo T510. Credit goes to Hopper122 here http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=1479286

sireat 1 day ago 1 reply      
The online tour really makes me like Unity, but of course that is too brief an impression. Might have to give it a spin on a home machine.

I used to upgrade religiously every 6 months, from 7.10 to 10.04LTS. Been waiting for next LTS to upgrade work machines.

kenny_r 19 hours ago 0 replies      
Check out the new content on their Ubuntu countdown site:

They released a soundtrack for this release of Ubuntu.

jwingy 1 day ago 1 reply      
Maybe this isn't the best place to ask, but does anyone know if you can do the 'aero snap' with windows when running unity in 2d (non-accelerated) mode?
pavelkaroukin 1 day ago 0 replies      
unity... ability to install and run 32-bit apps along side with 64-bit apps - is what huge! :
asianexpress 1 day ago 0 replies      
Did the release take down linux.org somehow? 509 Bandwidth Limit Exceeded right now
carussell 1 day ago 2 replies      
I flagged the other 11.10 submission[1] for the reasons in mgunes's comment, and it's dead now. The same should happen here.

1. http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=3106857

Show HN: my 4-y-o son drew a video game. He drew then we hacked together. audenneedham.com
243 points by mneedham  3 days ago   64 comments top 34
JonnieCache 3 days ago 1 reply      
Very nice!

A little tip: preload all your images so that they don't get downloaded as you perform the different moves, that caused the characters to disappear briefly for me. Doing so is as simple as creating an Image object and setting its src:

    var preload = new Image();
preload.src = "/path/to/image.png"

elliottcarlson 3 days ago 1 reply      
A while back I got my niece started with DS Game Maker - so she could make her own games for the Nintendo DS. I just got back from my sister's house and she showed me the progress she has made and it's amazing that after 9 months she hasn't lost interest and is still building her game.

Good job and keep your son interested in building his own world and making the computer do what he wants - and he will be smarter for it.

51Cards 3 days ago 0 replies      
Cool! I did a forward jump then started kicking. I levitated in mid air able to kick indefinitely. I have never felt closer to the Matrix than that moment. :) Great work!
antihero 3 days ago 2 replies      
I have been having what appears to be sex with the dinosaur for like 10 minutes now and it is still not dead.
bprater 3 days ago 3 replies      
Would be pretty cool if a kid could draw this stuff with this fingers on iPad and have it turned into a real video game. I bet kids would love this! "Draw your hero here." "Draw your monster here."
mynameishere 3 days ago 1 reply      
That is some wanky gameplay. I think your son is paying you too much.
codeslush 3 days ago 2 replies      
I have a four year old, and a five year old. My four year old is getting to be a master at Angry Birds, my five year old has no interest. I would be VERY interested in a write-up on how you went about this with your child. Step by step...starting at the piece of paper that had the drawings, to how you turned it into this end result. I don't care if the game has bugs or not...the concepts would be fascinating to know and I would love to see if my four year old could do it. I would even be willing to pay a small price for a guide like this.
damoncali 3 days ago 0 replies      
There is a business in this. My six year old would be all over it. Let customers upload the images (sprites, background) from their kids' drawings.
leeHS 3 days ago 1 reply      
I'm playing this while my 6 week old son is asleep and strapped to my chest.

I can't wait to share with him the joy of programming.

But I sometimes worry that today's technology has come too far to be used as a stepping stone to teach kids. I remember as a kid messing around with a Commodore-64, then moving on to Q-Basic. These were not only the technologies of the time, but perfect for a child to pick up.

Maybe I'm underestimating the little guys. :)

chrislomax 2 days ago 0 replies      
I think this is great father son time. I wish I could get my little one interested in programming. I can't hold his concentration long enough. He is very interested in video games but I think 99% of that revolves around mario and I don't think anything short of a 3d mario would keep him interested!

I will not critique the game, I think it's flaws and all are a great result of some good bonding time

esalazar 3 days ago 0 replies      
Really cool. Teaching kids early is very important. Cool initiative in Ireland to teach young kids programming early, http://coderdojo.com.
zacharycohn 3 days ago 0 replies      
Awesome jobs! Found a few bugs:

If you jump, then jump again, you land level to where you jumped the second time (I suspect you have the character descend by C pixels, instead of back to X,Y coordinate)

I can walk past the dinosaur, and then I can face him, but if I punch or kick it turns me back around.

If I walk past the dinosaur, it can still hit me, even though it visually misses.

TomGullen 2 days ago 0 replies      
Hi there!

It's great to see someone so young who is getting into game design. We have some software called Construct 2 which is aimed at non programmers and as a time saving device, you can see it at http://www.scirra.com a quick video of how it works at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5RlSmkSbleI). You and your son might really enjoy using it! (Also exports to HTML5 games)

I'm not aware of us having any users as young as 4 years old, but we would love to hear if he enjoys using it and can make games in it!

I'm happy to give you a free license for it in return for some feedback if you want, don't worry if not :) Just send me an email if you want it.


happyfeet 3 days ago 0 replies      
Super cool.

I had been thinking if I really need to buy a domain now for my kid (or conserve cash now as I bootstrap my startup).

You just inspired me to buy a domain for my 2 yr old so I can do similar things when he is old enough. Done!

Thank you! :)

kragen 2 days ago 0 replies      
This is great! I think there are some problems with the gameplay though. I was able to walk way past the dinosaur, but every time it attacked, I would start bleeding even though I was nowhere near it.
antidaily 3 days ago 0 replies      
Total rip of the Reptyl stage of Silver Surfer (NES). Don't be surprised when you get sued.
michaelschade 3 days ago 0 replies      
Very nice, and good job involving your son in coding that way"that's an awesome way to start!
mattdeboard 3 days ago 0 replies      
Wow good for you guys. Now I feel bad; my 7-year-old daughter was doing great with Scratch but the power supply on the ancient laptop I had given her went bad and I haven't replaced. Guess I need to start looking around for another.
CPlatypus 2 days ago 0 replies      
I know the internet discourages "me too" responses, but...

This is awesome. Thanks for sharing it.

antimora 2 days ago 1 reply      
I realized I can't play on my android phone because keyboard doesn't show up. Is there any work around?
cnlwsu 3 days ago 0 replies      
This is amazing! I hope to be able to do things like this with my son once he is old enough.
marcamillion 3 days ago 0 replies      
Love this. I think I might do something like this with my son.
tantalor 3 days ago 1 reply      
Am I a robot?
dquigley 2 days ago 0 replies      
Great idea and execution. From my perspective the point isn't how great the programmin is, but that you got your son to view himself as a creator, and to recognize that he can make things! Awesome father-son idea!
vorbby 3 days ago 1 reply      
Is that a domain name for your son in the future? I love the idea.
mamacker 3 days ago 0 replies      
Very cool! If you add peerbind to it, it can be multi-machine. I wrote peerbind - and I added it to a game my boys built too. No more fighting over keyboard space. ;
aspelund 2 days ago 0 replies      
I actually did something similar, had my kids drawing sprites for a javascript/css game, but we did a shoot-em-up. Great fun!
philikon 3 days ago 1 reply      
Is it just me or does it not work at all in Firefox? My keyboard inputs don't have any effect.
jason_slack 3 days ago 1 reply      
This is very cool. Would you consider sharing the code so I could teach my 13 year old? He is pretty good with HTML, but really wants JavaScript. My E-Mail is in my profile
101north 2 days ago 0 replies      
You're an incredible father. I know he'll remember this forever.
cpearce 3 days ago 0 replies      
Game doesn't work for me in Firefox.
white_raven 3 days ago 0 replies      
That is awesome!!
trusko 3 days ago 0 replies      


tedjdziuba 3 days ago 1 reply      
This game sucks. I don't know why you want credit for it.
Dennis Ritchie wikipedia.org
238 points by Anon84  2 days ago   1 comment top
JoshTriplett 1 day ago 0 replies      
The discussion page and the edit history provide a fascinating view into Wikipedia policies.
Dear Mozilla: Fix Your Damn Browser jasonlefkowitz.net
237 points by smacktoward  1 day ago   198 comments top 44
thaumaturgy 1 day ago  replies      
Now that AdBlock Plus is fully functional in Chrome/Chromium, we've been moving all of our clients -- a few hundred individuals and businesses -- off of Firefox. So far, everybody's been a lot happier with that.

Firefox is terrible. It's embarrassing. And, I've completely lost interest in arguing over it anymore. The responses from Mozilla, Asa especially, have either been, "We don't think that's a problem", or sometimes, "go piss up a rope". Other people constantly chime in and say, "But I don't have that problem!", as if that somehow makes it better for the many many people who do have problems with Firefox.

Fortunately, this isn't quite Netscape versus Internet Explorer all over again; this time, we have a well-supported third option, too.

asadotzler 1 day ago 3 replies      
Jason, we've been working on this. There were some big performance improvements in Firefox 6 and 7 and we've got a big hang fix that's just about to hit in Firefox 8.

Can you grab an Aurora or Beta build and see if things are better?

azakai 1 day ago 4 replies      
> Firefox, on Linux at least, is busted. It's busted so bad that it's painful to use. And it's been this way ever since Firefox 3 launched " three years ago.

This is an odd statement, considering that many Firefox devs run Linux. I'm running Firefox on Linux right now, and it works great.

I guess the author of the article is hitting a specific bug. It isn't a general issue that affects all users of Firefox on Linux.

jbk 1 day ago 1 reply      
I am a bit in the same situation as the author, using Firefox since before it was called Firefox, on all platforms and advocating it very widely.

But, it is hard to go on advocating it. True, they fixed many issues on JS speed and memory with the latest releases (after denying the issues for a loooong time).

However, the slowness of the SQlite backend is quite annoying, as mentioned on the article. The SSL management is beyond ridiculous, especially when the whole model of Certificate Authorities is broken, as the news showed us. The breakage of extensions at each update is abnormal. The Linux integration is abysmal... And yet, at each release, it seems the focuses on UI changes are the more important...

IE9 is now decent, Chrome is really good and Opera too.
All most of my developers friends have moved to Chrome...

cookiecaper 1 day ago 1 reply      
I used Chromium on Linux for 2+ years and switched back to Firefox during the 4.0 beta cycle. I'm much happier with Firefox's extensibility and interface and I haven't had any major issues since going back. The main reason I used Chrome was because it was so much faster in terms of WebGL and JS execution, but now that Firefox is regularly improving and competitive, I am much happier with the experience.
kemayo 1 day ago 5 replies      
I remember one of my co-workers telling me that Firefox was running great for him now that he'd upgraded from 4GB of RAM to 8GB. It finally wasn't slowly grinding to a halt any time he had more than a handful of tabs open for more than an hour or two.

Seemed a bit like Stockholm Syndrome to me.

hoverkraft 1 day ago 3 replies      
It's endearing that for each comment presenting a criticism of some aspect of Firefox, there's at least one reply from somebody saying, "But /I/ don't have that problem" (see thaumaturgy's top-ranked post).

So great. You don't run into problem x or problem y.

But a LOT of people do. And when I sit down at somebody's computer, and they use Firefox, and they have more than a couple tabs open, it's slow. Inconceivably slow. Especially in light of how snappy Chrome manages to be with a big stack of tabs open.

And then on a modern computer, a nice shiny new computer, things are pausing erratically, and there's lag, and it's slow, and it feels like 2005.

I can hear you leaping to Firefox's defense now: "Sure, but that was only true until 5.323, when they fixed the 'FF is slow as shit' bug!" Or, "yes, but that has never happened to /me/, and I run Firefox on a Pentium I that I spilled a bunch of grape juice on and kick every day."

Congrats, you're either an anomaly, incredibly fortunate, or you limit your number of tabs, restart Firefox regularly, and clear out your history daily. All things that I can assure you, ordinary, non-technical people NEVER DO.

Chrome managed to make a browser that doesn't become unbearably slow under normal usage patterns. Firefox, for all its moral superiority (and I gladly concede that point), has never managed to do that.

tytso 1 day ago 4 replies      
The fundamental problem with Mozilla is that it is trying to do database queries in its UI loop, and it wants every single piece of state safely on disk after every single click. This results in a huge amount of disk space to get written to disk as you visit every single click. Now I don't know about you, but if my computer crashes, do I really care if everything up to the last click is safely on disk? I wouldn't care at all if the last 10 or 15 minutes of browser history; I don't care if the link colors are a little off due to a some history getting lost on a system crash.

Compounding this is the fact that SQLlite was never intended to be a high performance database. It was designed for portability, and ease of setup. Which is fine, but it means that SQLlite uses many more I/O's and issues many more fsync()'s than would be strictly necessary. (In fact, Oracle doesn't issue a single fsync operation on a transaction commit; it uses direct I/O instead.)

So even if Firefox manages to get rid of all of the various problems that cause its UI thread to block, this fundamental design mistake will cause them to do excess I/O's, which burns battery and burns SSD write cycles. They would be much better off if they kept all of their state in memory, and 10-15 minutes, updated the on-disk database in a completely asynchronous fashion.

And if that means losing some history on a crash, is the fact that a user has visited one web site, but not another, really that important?

masterleep 1 day ago 1 reply      
This longstanding bug has been found and fixed in the past few weeks. There's a workaround as well (use the Places Maintenance addon to properly index your Places database).


sciurus 1 day ago 0 replies      
In Mozilla's defense, they've handled Places-related issues well in the past.


mahyarm 1 day ago 0 replies      
Chrome hang's too, especially when I have 12 engadget tabs open on engadget. Firefox not so much then I have those same 12 tabs. This is on OSX.
crikli 1 day ago 0 replies      
Here here!

I've completely given up on Firefox on my MBP (3.06 Core2, 8GB, 480GB SSD). Between the egregious javascript memory leak and constantly increasing resource utilization it's just unusable. And my fans are running full tilt within 60 seconds of starting it.

alanh 1 day ago 1 reply      
Since we're on the topic of longstanding Firefox issues: Add support for `display: run-in` already. You are the ONLY browser not to support it. http://www.quirksmode.org/css/display.html

Last I brought this up, I was told:

1. that it wasn't completely defined, and some edge cases can arise

2. that it 'wasn't necessary' as you could 'solve' the problem by adding more (wrapping) markup

3. that `run-in` was going to be dropped from CSS2.1.

None of this is very valid.

1. So do what the other browsers do, and/or when you encounter a weird edge case, fall back to `display: block` (as suggested by the spec).

2. Adding more markup (A) because one browser is being pissy (B) goes against the fundamental philosophies of both CSS (A) and web standards (B). Clearly!

3. It's only being dropped from the spec because they can finalize the spec if it is 100% implemented by 100% of the major browsers. So this is circular reasoning caused by your ten-year rolling decision to ignore `run-in`.

Run-in is a very useful concept (I'm always tempted to use it on /about.html). Please, reconsider.

plasma 1 day ago 0 replies      
I use to be a fan of firefox, but switched to chrome because:

1) it became slow to open. FF use to open within a few seconds, it now opened in no less than 30 seconds.

Strike 1.

1) I then noticed during the 30 seconds that ff was accessing my dish access was crazy. A bug report said it was "working as intended" because it was needing to derive encryption keys for ssl by reading my temp data files on disk.

So 30 sec load time from hdd access at startup is working as intended? Strike 2.

3) ff updates brick extensions. They aren't usable after an update. Just annoying to experience each update.

3) I switched my mums pc to chrome after the resent few ff updates. Too much mental energy and effort to click next/yes to each update wizard step, to then see the plugins out of date too etc, just silly.

She asks "whats this" each time ff asked about updates, after doing it a few times recently and teaching her it was ok to say yes to, I sill just replaced it with chrome that eliminated the support overhead for me.

So I had switched to chrome and it opens fast. No crazy disk access.

It doesn't pester me at all about updates, or break things due to new versions. It just works and gets out of my way.

jroseattle 1 day ago 1 reply      
As a dev, FF was my go-to utility browser due to Firebug. Google released Chrome, and I found myself using FF rarely.

I rebuilt a laptop recently. After loading it up with software, it was a good 3 weeks before I even noticed that I didn't have FF installed.

drivebyacct2 1 day ago 0 replies      
What happened to Firefox focusing on Linux responsiveness? They even acknowledged it as an issue and promised to work on it, but I've yet to see that occur at all.
Jach 23 hours ago 0 replies      
Why does there have to be one? I'm happy using both Firefox and Chrome, they each have their own workflows for me.

I have a personal gmail account, and a work google apps gmail account, and recently Google decided you can only stay logged into one gmail account at a time per browser session. So if I want both open, I have my personal one in Firefox and my work email in Chrome. That in general leads to the use of using Firefox for personal browsing and Chrome for work-related browsing.

In Firefox I have all my bookmarks and Stumble Upon, along with RSS feeds and about 400 tabs opened (not loaded with the Bartab Lite addon and organized in a tree with the TreeStyle Tabs addon). In Chrome I have work-related things open, like our issue list and email, so very few tabs, and I use it for quick googling (work or personal). I also have Firefox using websync so I can get at my tabs from school or other computers. Chrome's also nice for having a Private Browsing mode instantly launchable without closing your other non-private session.

Firefox only crashes completely these days, sometimes, when java applets load. Chrome only crashes on pages.

bigohms 1 day ago 1 reply      
I dropped FF b/c of the memory leak. As a test, on a spare mac I wrote a script that launched FF and Chrome simultaneously and visited 10 websites I frequent. They both had similar clean profiles. After roughly two days of continuous refresh/load cycles, Chrome's memory was at 148MB, FF was 988MB.
fletchowns 1 day ago 3 replies      
At least with Firefox you don't have to deal with things like this: http://code.google.com/p/chromium/issues/detail?id=41467

When Firefox dropped http:// at least they gave you the ability to turn it back on!

kijin 1 day ago 1 reply      
Yep, same problem. Firefox hangs whenever I try to do anything "intensive" with Places, such as selectively deleting stuff from the history or reorganizing a large number of bookmarks. It's gotten much better than before, though.

Weird thing is, Firefox is still faster than Chrome on my computer (Win7x64). I don't know what's wrong with my computer, but Chrome is noticeably slower than Firefox in day-to-day use. This only happens on this particular computer. Chrome is indeed faster in every other computer I've tried. Very strange.

timjahn 1 day ago 0 replies      
Couldn't agree more. For the past year+, Firefox has been getting noticeably slower and slower, to the point that I would cringe when clicking that little fox planet and thinking of what I could do in the next 3 minutes while Firefox opened.

A few months ago, I finally switched to Chrome 100% and very rarely use the bloated software that is now Firefox.

I used to recommend Firefox as THE browser. Now I recommend people uninstall it.

wazoox 1 day ago 0 replies      
I see lots of unfair complaining here. I'm still running FF even on machines with 1GB of RAM, and I actually had troubles with memory leaks on Mac, that were mostly related to some extensions.
pnathan 1 day ago 0 replies      
Firefox after 3 ran like a crippled dog.

I switched to Phoenix, because it was a relief from the bloat of Netscape 6. It's been a long time since then, and running a modern Firefox tends to seem like Netscape 6 bloat.

So I use Chrome. I am agnostic about my browsers. I like speed, speed, speed.

dbbo 21 hours ago 1 reply      
The _only_ reason I have stuck with Firefox so long is that Vimperator and later Pentadactyl blow all Chromium vim-like addons out of the water. I have finally got so sick of paging issues and unresponsive scripts in Firefox (sometimes to the extent that even the Magic SysRq key could save me) that lately I've been using Chromium + vrome exclusively.
bilban 1 day ago 1 reply      
Oh well, I've been using Firefox since it's pheonix, firebird days!

I've never evangalised so hard about a piece of software, and every Linux and Apple user owe it a debt of gratitude, in as much that it was a good cross platform browser.

Performance wise, some upgrades have been for the better some for the worst. But don't get too sentimental about past incarnations. I remember there being memory issues in the 2.x line. I saw the browser eating over a half gig of ram once - and I nearly fell off my chair.

Those that have dozens of tabs open - I do think you need to ask yourself why? It just slows your computer down. I think we use them as replacement for bookmarks, which says something about the browser UI.

I've only recently left 3.6 to try out TenFourFox on my power pc - which at first felt a million times better, but after my initial excitement, I noticed it's a bit of a cpu hog. Idling with Gmail open, it seems to be quite greedy. Which suggests to me that there is an inherent problem with the browser - imagine if I had a handful of web apps open.

To say Firefox is broken is a bit strong. It would be better to say it has it's faults and could be faster. If it's DB is a bottleneck - could it be swapped for something else?

I do however think the browser UI is in serious need of some love, and could do with some innovation. It's barely changed. For example tab management is dire.

acabal 1 day ago 0 replies      
I'm excited for Ubuntu 11.10 if only because it means I can flatten and reinstall, thus relieving me of Firefox's performance woes for another few months. It's really crazy the amount of memory it uses and the slowdowns that happen when you keep it open for more than a few hours.
dsrikanth 1 day ago 1 reply      
I share the same feeling. It is becoming a pain. If I keep it open for few hours, it inevitably crashes and needs a restart. I started using firefox few years back only because it won't crash and is stable. Not anymore I guess!
cluboholic 9 hours ago 0 replies      
whats surprising is how well Internet Explorer turns out to be.. when IE10 final comes out I might actually switch to IE for a change.

I turned my pc's screen this morning only to find out that the firefox session i had running from the previous day was consuming 2.5gb of memory.. with 3 tabs open.. whatever those tabs were doing all night .. that amount of memory can only be accounted to a memory leak a river can pass through. and yes i'm using the latest version thanks.

Havoc 19 hours ago 0 replies      
I've had a hanging issue too. Fixed it by disabling MSE real-time protection (20 hangs per day -> 0). Somehow I don't see MSE causing the hangs on *nix though so perhaps a separate issue. Worth a try though for anyone battling.
ck2 1 day ago 0 replies      
I've also been using firefox since 1.0 and had such problems through 3.6

But 7.0 is the best version yet for me and radically faster on startup and operation (and I use a ton of extensions).

It just took a weekend to get 7.0 to behave like 3.x and then I was happy.

dendory 1 day ago 0 replies      
I have a few issues with the current Firefox, but I use it as my full time browser and I never see a crash.. I'm not sure it's fair to criticize Mozilla itself and not some other piece of the ecosystem like plugins or extensions.
jerhewet 1 day ago 0 replies      
> totally kills the value of the Awesome Bar

I disable the (air quote) Awesome (end air quote) Bar every time I do a fresh install of Firefox.

I hate this damned feature with a passion (thank you, but I already know how to type, so get the hell out of my way!), and if the product doesn't have a switch to turn this damned feature off I'll find a competing product that does. Note that so many people loathed this feature that Mozilla added an option to turn the damned thing off.

And yes, I always do my Google searches by launching a bookmark that has their damned look-ahead feature disabled as well.

codexon 1 day ago 0 replies      
I noticed this problem in Windows along with huge memory leaks.

I've switched to Firefox Nightly and this lag seems to have gone away.

As a bonus, the browser feels as fast as Chrome and it takes several weeks more usage before needing a restart due to slowness.

sova 1 day ago 0 replies      
The version of Firefox that is my favorite is actually pre-firefox. Phoenix was an amazing browser -- it was lightweight, incredibly fast, and the UI was simple and _very_ customizable.

Phoenix, in my opinion, is the original idea and message behind Firefox: a fast and friendly alternative to bloated browsers. Over the years, Firefox has become HUGE. Why make a Firefox 7, 8, 9 etc. if it just keeps adding more things instead of cutting through the glut with the sword of speediness and optimization? Really, all I want a browser to do is pass the acid3 test and be up and running as quickly as possible. Cut everything else out.

I think of Phoenix as like a pamphlet, Firebird (Firefox 1) as a novel, and current Firefox as an encyclopedia. Tucked somewhere within... on a select number of sheets in that amassed bramble of pages and thorns... in there is a browser we all know and love.

"I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free" ~ Michelangelo

Firefox+Mozilla: please don't stop carving. We appreciate all you do, but it's time to get back to basics.

nirbheek 19 hours ago 0 replies      
Deleting your places.sqlite file is the easiest, but the worst way of defragmenting it. The easiest (if you're using btrfs) is to run:

`btrfs filesystem defragment ~/.mozilla/firefox/*/places.sqlite`

or use ioctl(fd, BTRFS_IOC_DEFRAG, NULL).

As far as I know, this can only be done as root. I'm not sure if other filesystems have similar defrag hooks.

So the correct approach is to make this facility accessible from unprivileged userspace.

pythoning 1 day ago 1 reply      
Disable unnecessary extensions and plugins and Firefox 7 will be instantaneous and memory efficient.

Right now on OS X Leopard I have Hacker News, Slashdot, CNBC and Huffington Post (yuck) open in FF 7.01 and FF is using 179 MB.

When I had Firebug and the Stumbleupon tool bar enabled as well as some useless plugins that were enabled by default for media types I don't use, these same tabs were using 440 MB.

Google controls my email, phone, SMS and search information, I will not give them browser level access even if they let you opt out of data collection.

I like Firefox, it works great now and is rapidly improving. Mozilla's rapid release cycles should be applauded.

smoyer 1 day ago 0 replies      
I feel the same pain ... I've switched away from Firefox now and only use it when I'm compatibility testing my applications/sites.
mzarate06 1 day ago 1 reply      
"Firefox, on Linux at least, is busted. It's busted so bad that it's painful to use. And it's been this way ever since Firefox 3 launched"

I'm suprised I don't see posts like this more often, specifically about the Linux version. I've been on Ubuntu since 7.04, and Firefox has always felt like beta software, especially when running any Flash media. I get far less crashes on Chrome, so I've started moving away from Firefox and find the Chrome experience much more reliable.

BadassFractal 1 day ago 0 replies      
I'd kill for multi-row tab support in Chrome (TabMixPlus in Firefox or by default part of the browser in Opera). It's the only thing that keeps me from switching 100% from FF.
gabyar 1 day ago 0 replies      
I was going to say that Firefox's lack of innovation and quality in the last couple of years, as compared to Chrome, could be due to lack of funding. But it turns out their revenue is well over $100 million annually, which should be enough to fix bugs. http://goo.gl/g5Upc

Still a good browser, but there's no question they've lost quite a bit of mojo.

emp_ 1 day ago 0 replies      
The problem with FF is that it came to beat something really bad, now they have to beat something really good and are kinda lost in the inversion of priorities.
daltontf 1 day ago 2 replies      
The new rapid release development cycle has bit Mozilla in the rear. For example, FF 7.0.1 on Vista needs to be run as Administrator. I didn't find this out until it just stopped working on my wife's laptop.
Finster 1 day ago 0 replies      
Sounds like he needs to fix Linux.

Good Luck!

ketralnis 1 day ago 3 replies      
This seems a bit overblown for what amounts to a performance bug in a feature that few people even use (bookmarks).
Stop asking me for my phone number spottedsun.com
237 points by veb  2 days ago   80 comments top 26
bradleyland 2 days ago 10 replies      
According to some brief research, it looks like somewhere around 0.33% of Americans under 85 are deaf, and around 4% are hard of hearing [1]. I find it preposterous to optimize for that small section of the user population at the expense of the overwhelming number of our users who tell us that phone is their preferred method of contact. We're probably going to continue asking for a phone number, because many users would be frustrated if email were the only method of reply available.

What I'm NOT suggesting is that we fail to accommodate deaf users. We don't have a policy on how to accommodate deaf or sight impaired customers, but we rely heavily on non-phone based means of communication, like Skype, so I'd imagine we could accommodate deaf users relatively easily. We use well formed HTML with semantic markup, but could probably stand to do some testing with screen readers.

Come to think of it. This request has moved me to action. Staff resources are going to be updated with notes on accommodating users with disabilities, including links to TTY services in the resource handbook. Solving this problem is probably easier than you think. All the major phone carriers are required to provide TTY services [2].

1 - http://research.gallaudet.edu/Demographics/deaf-US.php

2 - http://www.google.com/search?q=tty+services

nirvana 2 days ago 0 replies      
Not even my parents have a real phone number for me, I'm sure as hell not going to give you one when asked by some 19 year old cashier! But, I no longer have to debate with these people about whether they really need my phone number or not, I just give them the google voice number.

As a programmer, I've found that interruptions are the most problematic thing that keeps me from being more productive, and nothing is more irritating than being interrupted by a pointless phone call. So, over a decade ago, I stopped having a landline, and only gave my cell number to a small number. Then I stopped carrying a cell completely.

I'm kinda amazed, in this day and age, how many organizations primary method of communication is the phone. I've had people, on multiple occasions, say "I can't do that for you via this forum, please call us at XXX".

The only reason I want an iPhone 4Steve (unlocked, of course) is because I want to have data access everywhere. The ability to make the occasional phone call for those people (usually government offices it seems) still stuck in the 19th century is a minor bonus.

If you require a phone number in order to do business with you, I simply will not do business with you.

johngalt 2 days ago 1 reply      
Someday unified communications....

It will seem anachronistic that phones/email/txt/vm/video were all so disconnected. Each with different rules, and methods of connection. The first thing to go will probably be phone numbers. I can already imagine my future grandchildren saying "You had to memorize a ten digit number for anyone you wanted to talk to?!"

Makes me wonder what it will look like in the long run. Probably something like a chat client. Where you list modes of communication that are currently available (voice, video, text, draw), and indirect status messages.

A mismatch in communcation level could be handled with automated middleware. So if a company demands a "voice" channel, the author could send it through an automated text to speech, and the same translation would happen in reverse. In a pinch you could do something similar with language translation (text to text only).

I just hope it's a distributed and open system. Similar to how email operates today. I'd hate to think we'd embrace another communications gatekeeper (Facebook or Google as the new Ma Bell)

rmason 2 days ago 4 replies      
I liked the one comment in the article where the guy recommended a public service that gave the deaf a real phone number which just contained a recording informing callers that the person was deaf. That way they could enter a real phone number of forms that insisted on one.

I don't know anyone at Twilio but if they want to perform a public service and gets lots of karma it wouldn't be a bad thing to go do.

scott_s 2 days ago 2 replies      
Are we talking about asking or requiring? I agree no one should require a phone number, but it's completely reasonable to ask if people want to use that rather than email.
xbryanx 2 days ago 0 replies      

Contrarians, please remember that, regardless of your opinion or business size, you are required by federal law (ADA of 1990) to make your services accessible to the deaf and hard of hearing. For some great examples, scroll down to "Ten Small Business Mistakes" on this page - http://www.ada.gov/videogallery.htm

FuzzyDunlop 2 days ago 1 reply      
I've nothing against phone calls (except being asked for my number for no reason), but Bill Bailey had a bit in one of his earlier stand-ups (can't remember which one) where he said the phone call is the most impolite form of communication.

It's like shouting in someone's ears saying, "I WANT YOU TO STOP WHAT YOU'RE DOING AND SPEAK TO ME RIGHT NOW!"

kylec 2 days ago 0 replies      
I'm not deaf, but I share the sentiment. If we are not very close friends or related, I don't answer your call. And I've taken to giving my Google Voice number to some of the more persistent callers with it going straight to voicemail. I get what I want (an email with a mediocre speech-to-text version of the message) and they get what they want (to use a phone).
amalcon 2 days ago 1 reply      
There are so many problems with telephones as contact. They of course work by voice. They are synchronous, and so require timing. They are very expensive. They don't internationalize well. They are a link to a lot of personal information.

I don't mind being asked for a phone number, so long as it's optional. I will not sign up for any service where my only means of contact is by phone (though I do permit "I physically walk into your office", for local-ish services).

pestaa 2 days ago 1 reply      
I couldn't agree more. The annoying part is when they ask you to call them so they can verify your identity.

It is a safe assumption that they don't do voice recognition, so why do they think I can't just spell the same numbers out loudly I'd have sent in an email...?

rokhayakebe 2 days ago 2 replies      
I agree with you, but for different reasons. Calling someone is as intimate as you could get, next to seeing someone, plus it's realt-ime. I rather email. If I want to talk to you I will call you.
dredmorbius 2 days ago 1 reply      
The phone has its place.

Generally it's buried somewhere far from me under a pillow.

I'm a non-deaf, high-functioning normal. I hate phone calls for all the reasons iterated here (intrusive, annoying, inconsiderate, lossy, non-searchable, difficult (or illegal) to record, etc.). I'll just include reemrevnivek's post by reference, it's excellent: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=3104873

I might check voicemail once a week (sorry, Mom).

My voicemail message basically says "don't leave a voicemail".

My biggest present gripe: recruiters who call at all hours of the day. Actually, thanks to them I found a call-blocking app for my phone, such that only known numbers will ring.

Even with blocking, phone calls interrupt current activity on the phone (not so hot when you're buried deep in a technical problem and it's the only link out to technical resources which might help).

What I'd like to see is the ability to classify contacts by who is or isn't allowed to actually ring through to the handset.

And that null-voicemail feature others have suggested.

gmantastic 2 days ago 0 replies      
I'm not deaf, but I strongly dislike companies calling me. Why do they think I am using the web or email to contact them? SMS spam is a growing problem too, and hard to filter (at least with the old phone I use). It all feels like an invasion of privacy, and companies should be aware I'm unlikely to buy anything from them if they force me to provide contact numbers.
alttag 2 days ago 0 replies      
For some instances where I know it's for marketing purposes but also that they'll use it as a lookup key for my account (e.g., loyalty cards) I give my parent's phone number.

Between that and being on the national do not call list (U.S.), I get no sales calls.

Occasionally, I'll use a 555 prefix (like in books or movies) which is a reserved designation for fictional numbers.

pnathan 2 days ago 0 replies      
I don't like phone calls. SMS is tolerable.

I prefer email or IM (or a forum).

Phone is very susceptible to noise and hearing issues; it's not searchable without fancy transcription equipment, and frankly, I don't have time to think and give the answer that a quality question deserves.

rdl 2 days ago 0 replies      
I just use a google voice number set to transcribe all incoming calls and email. Unless someone has a very inconvenient accent, it seems to work well. I'm not deaf, merely antisocial.
kirchart 2 days ago 0 replies      
Tottally on your side, we stop the phone support in the company since we started lol .. email ist a way more helpful without a doubt
bschlinker 1 day ago 0 replies      
This is the reason why most online relay services, such as i711, provide their users with free inbound numbers.

When a call is received, the user is notified via a variety of mediums, including instant message, SMS, and I think some other desktop/mobile apps they have. If the deaf user accepts the call, the relay informs the caller that the other individual is deaf and begins to transcribe the call.

2-way conversation (text<----->relay<----->caller)

In addition, these services provide transcriptions of voicemail / etc and are completely FREE (sponsored by individual state tax dollars in US). I'm really surprised that the post makes no note of these services, since I have known about them for years and am not hard of hearing.

colinplamondon 2 days ago 0 replies      
A signup form is there to make money. Optimizing against 0.5% of the population at the expense of 99.5% is a poor way to make money.

If they require a phone number for activation, that's straight up annoying to everyone, and a terrible way to make money. If they just ask for the number, you can enter a fake, no harm, no foul

yesreally 1 day ago 1 reply      
Whenever I notice customer service requires speaking on the phone, I'm fairly sure that they do that to avoid having a record of their conversation. +1 to public pressure to force these guys to support the sense disabled. But you can't combat that with government regulation- at least not in any sensible way. Instead, lobby Mozilla, Google, Microsoft, Apple, and Opera to enforce accessibility via page warnings, etc. That may actually be something that the government could help with - working with these companies and standards committees to ensure representation of the disabled.
john2x 2 days ago 0 replies      
I prefer email myself since I work on the night shift and pretty much miss every call during the day.
TobiasCassell 2 days ago 0 replies      
T-Mobile wont let me not have voicemail even if I offer to continue paying for it and not employ it. I just dont want it on. I never check it and I'm unclear why we must absolutely have to have it... I am not hearing impaired.
chadp 2 days ago 0 replies      
Just put a fake phone number with the right number of numbers.
vegasbrianc 2 days ago 0 replies      
Finally a reason to get away from the contact forms that have not changed forever.
moses1400 2 days ago 0 replies      
I repeat my comment from the blog post - the real question here is whether we should expect companies to communicate with us using the method we want or should we communicate the way the company wants. The internet is moving us more towards the former every day.
pyrotechnick 2 days ago 0 replies      
If you didn't dress like such a slut you wouldn't have this problem.
Tim Bray on Dennis Ritchie tbray.org
231 points by DanielRibeiro  2 days ago   9 comments top 5
steve-howard 1 day ago 2 replies      
To be fair, agreement is not universal that null-byte termination is a good thing. Though that doesn't detract a thing from the man's greatness.
kreek 1 day ago 0 replies      
Of course we all stand on Mr. Ritchie's shoulders, and it's really just a footnote to all this, but it's my understanding is that Brian Kernighan contributed "hello, world" to 'The C Programming Language' book.
jtchang 1 day ago 0 replies      
I would almost say there is not one piece of modern computing today that is not touched by something Dennis Ritchie did.
spitfire 1 day ago 0 replies      
When did we agree asciiz was a good string format? I didn't agree to that!
comex 1 day ago 0 replies      
Another nitpick:

> Creating processes by duplicating existing processes.

Most systems have moved away from that toward posix_spawn.


TopCoder: Algorithm Tutorials topcoder.com
227 points by sayemm  21 hours ago   22 comments top 4
Hitchhiker 19 hours ago 4 replies      
je42 17 hours ago 2 replies      
Am I the only one that thinks the tutorials are a bit weird.
For example: their QuickSort implementation looks pretty much "sub-optimal"". ( They allocate new arrays in each recursive call )
Another example: Shortest-Path search. A-Star is not mentioned.
theycallhimtom 5 hours ago 0 replies      
One note to make is that these tutorials are specifically designed for programming contests not for the real world. A lot of the stuff applies to both, but things like constant factor optimization and heuristics are generally not part of programming classes and a huge part of the real world.
jim_kaiser 18 hours ago 0 replies      
I think the Top Coder tutorials are really thought provoking and they cover a lot of ground. A really good summary of the core concepts which you can further research.
Dennis Ritchie: The Shoulders Steve Jobs Stood On wired.com
215 points by duck  1 day ago   42 comments top 8
icandoitbetter 1 day ago 6 replies      
I feel very uncomfortable with the constant comparison between Ritchie's death and Jobs' death. Even Rob Pike ended up doing this. [1] Why are we trying to create conflict and see injustice where there is none? The amount of media coverage a person gets has no correlation with his importance. Can we blame people for not knowing him? Don't give me the tired "everybody is using his software, so everybody should know about him" argument. It's so hypocritical. We use a lot of things whose inventors we don't know.

[1] https://plus.google.com/101960720994009339267/posts/33mmANQZ...

pessimist 1 day ago 2 replies      
I don't think this is the correct way to think of things. I think there are 2 different cultures that have contributed to the computing world today. The first is from academics and big company research. This is the legacy of IBM and AT&T Bell Labs - hackers wearing ties.

The second is tha hacker culture of Woz, Gates and the rest who developed the PC, brought the rarefied computing of AT&T and IBM to the masses. I dont think its fair to say that the latter stood on the shoulders of the former, as much as they had their own unique contribution.

Uchikoma 1 day ago 1 reply      
If you take an iPhone, it has so many thing invented by people, this article does not make any sense to me.

Someone invented wireless communication, someone plastics, someone metal, someone thin glass, someone a touch screen, someone RAM, someone a CPU, someone transistors on a lower level, someone invented software, someone icons, someone wrote an email client for the first time, some invented the machinery to build this, someone "invented" power, someone invented WLAN, some invented the battery, someone invented circuit boards, ...

benreesman 23 hours ago 0 replies      
for a piece intended for a general audience I think the author did rather well, I can imagine a nontechnical person appreciating the world in a broader way having read it.
recoiledsnake 21 hours ago 1 reply      
>Windows was once written in C

Isn't Windows still in C/C++ ? Not to mention Office, Windows Phone, XBox....

dbattaglia 1 day ago 0 replies      
In a place like here (hacker news), the passing of Ritchie is obviously a very big deal. But I'm not surprised that my mom (for example) doesn't know who Ritchie was, regardless of how many devices and applications she uses written and designed in C. Hell, I'm not even sure every software dev out there knows the history of C, to be perfectly honest. But that doesn't take anything away from the amazing things Ritchie did for technology and mankind.
tmcb 1 day ago 0 replies      
I found the article to be quite informative and, why not, just. Readers that are not acquainted with hacker culture will be able to know who Dennis Ritchie was and comprehend his importance after reading it.

Moreover, it is not one piece of the 'sad elitism' that took place after the news about dmr arrived. I saw some dozens of comments splattered over different places following the line 'you must definitely know who he was,' accompanied by some generic complaint about unfair coverage by news media over Mr. Jobs passing. Though I agree with some of these views, I don't think it makes the fair eulogy Dennis Ritchie deserves.

Dennis' importance will never be measured by any kind of comparison or relativization; it is hugely obvious, it persisted and is going to persist by many decades. We here know it. Those who don't, though, have the right to understand what he made possible. I think the article succeeds on this purpose.

acqq 1 day ago 2 replies      
Early Apple computers used BASIC and assembly, Apple Lisa and early Apple Macintosh were Pascal oriented... Steve Jobs did just fine without C and Unix. It's true that there's Unix in OS X and iOS, but there there's Linux which powers Google and most of the datacenters today, it's in Android and almost any gadget you look at... and the article authors don't mention it because then it wouldn't be in any way anything specific to Steve Jobs...
Dennis Ritchie RIP lwn.net
208 points by zoowar  1 day ago   1 comment top
RyanMcGreal 1 day ago 0 replies      
> Time (epoch-seconds) starts on 1/1/1970 for a reason.
       cached 15 October 2011 04:11:01 GMT