hacker news with inline top comments    .. more ..    21 Oct 2011 Best
home   ask   best   6 years ago   
Rob Pike: Dennis Ritchie has died google.com
1924 points by fogus  8 days ago   196 comments top 82
steveb 8 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 8 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 8 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 8 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 7 days 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 8 days ago 3 replies      

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

DanielRibeiro 8 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 8 days ago 0 replies      
Black bar, definitely deserved. Thanks pg.
dgallagher 8 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 8 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 8 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.

drallison 8 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.
navs 7 days 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.
latch 8 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).
johnohara 7 days 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 8 days ago 2 replies      
jburwell 8 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 ...
moeffju 7 days 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.

maayank 8 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.

Sindisil 8 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.

spodek 8 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.

irrumator 8 days ago 0 replies      
One of the most influential people in the world whose contributions were immense. He will be sorely missed.
Hitchhiker 8 days ago 0 replies      
#include <stdio.h>

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

jbondeson 8 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 8 days ago 1 reply      
Very sad. His contributions to the world were huge. RIP.
scrrr 7 days 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.
rbanffy 8 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.
desireco42 8 days ago 0 replies      
black stripe on top of hacker news is really nice touch out of respect
zizee 8 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.

sharmajai 7 days 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

srl 8 days ago 0 replies      
c--; /* to echo a sentiment expressed on g+ */
glhaynes 8 days ago 0 replies      
An exemplar of elegance and clear thought. RIP and thank you.
peteri 7 days 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.

packetslave 8 days ago 0 replies      
Didn't know him personally, but his work has been an inspiration to me for nearly 20 years. RIP.
Mithrandir 8 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.

djmdjm 8 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...
josephcooney 8 days ago 0 replies      
very sad. I love the writing style of 'The C Programming Language'
greenyoda 7 days 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.
jmags 8 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 8 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 7 days 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.
revorad 7 days ago 0 replies      
Condolences to family and friends. C was my first programming language. Owe a lot to this man.

What a sad week.

sajid 7 days 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.

flipper 7 days ago 0 replies      
To paraphrase the epitaph of Sir Christopher Wren - if you seek his monument, log in.
chugger 8 days ago 0 replies      
Oh god. Another legend I truly admire. :(
OctaneOps 7 days 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

DodgyEggplant 8 days ago 0 replies      
RIP. It seems they are into a big project up there.
jasiek 7 days 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 7 days 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
breadbox 8 days ago 0 replies      
Very sad. RIP, dmr.
rooshdi 7 days ago 0 replies      
"I'm not a person who particularly had heros when growing up."

Thank you for being one of ours, RIP Dennis

sixtofour 8 days ago 0 replies      
I still have K&R on my shelf.

Thank you, DMR.

0x12 7 days ago 0 replies      
It's a sad month.
_THE_PLAGUE 8 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.
amanicdroid 7 days ago 0 replies      
Because of Dennis Ritchie I can type these words and others can read them.


baabuu 6 days 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!

robert_nsu 8 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.
1337p337 8 days ago 0 replies      
The |s, the |s are calling.
raymondh 8 days ago 0 replies      
Goodbye Dennis. You were a giant. You'll be missed.
codehalo 8 days ago 0 replies      
Dennis Ritchie. Hello World. May he rest in peace.
teja1990 7 days 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.
icehawk 8 days ago 0 replies      
How sad. RIP, dmr.
just4DMR 8 days ago 0 replies      
Rest in Peace, Dennis MacAlistair Ritchie. True Hacker Knight, Shinning Armor.

This is just for you. You will be missed.

mkramlich 7 days ago 0 replies      
two weeks in a row...
giis 8 days ago 0 replies      
thanks Ritchie,for your great contribution, Without you ,I'm sure,we won't be what we are now. RIP.
resnamen 8 days ago 0 replies      
petegrif 7 days ago 0 replies      
This is an unusually good piece.
velagale 7 days ago 0 replies      
RIP Mr.Ritchie !
kang 7 days ago 0 replies      
Father of modern software
jianxioy 8 days ago 0 replies      
Rest in peace.
nikhizzle 7 days ago 0 replies      
int main(int argc, char argv[])
 struct passwd
pw = getpwnam('dmr');
7h 4 days ago 0 replies      
i'm from russia and very bad know english...


stellzzz 6 days ago 0 replies      
Мир пра...у твоему, пусть земля будет пу...ом. /* Рус. /
Rest In Peace /
Eng. */
deepinit_a 7 days ago 0 replies      
We owe You Dennis...
unfletch 8 days ago 0 replies      
berserkpi 7 days ago 0 replies      
RIP master.
cyber_lis 7 days ago 0 replies      
I'm really sad...
jerrysievert 8 days ago 0 replies      
kachnuv_ocasek 7 days ago 0 replies      
I'm far more struck by this than Steve Jobs' death.
goodnight 8 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!

Ask HN: What programming blogs do you read daily?
660 points by t3rcio  3 days ago   112 comments top 60
dustingetz 3 days ago  replies      
this stuff never seems to be highly upvoted on HN anymore, and if it gets to +30 there's only a few comments, i speculate because new-school HNers don't understand or care. so i track them myself.

best two advanced swegr blogs ever:

    http://prog21.dadgum.com/ -- swegr, fp theory
http://www.johndcook.com/blog/ -- swegr, fp theory

other advanced swegr blogs. we're not talking atwood and joel, here, that stuff is for college kids.

    http://blog.tmorris.net/ -- swegr, fp/tactics
http://james-iry.blogspot.com/ -- fp/tactics
http://playingwithpointers.com/ -- philosophy, fp/tactics


    http://www.jasonshen.com/ -- "Art of Ass Kicking" (life)
http://www.sebastianmarshall.com/ -- "Strategy, Philosophy, Self-Discipline, Science. Victory." (life)
http://dilbert.com/blog -- politics & life

fwiw, after having digested much of this material, I've moved on to reading all the interesting whitepapers I can find, mostly via my social networks. That's the really advanced stuff. I've been meaning to collect them and summarize many to post to HN. nag me.

naner 3 days ago 2 replies      
http://stevehanov.ca/blog/ -- Updates infrequently. Very good programming articles.

http://duartes.org/gustavo/blog/ -- Updates infrequently. Good articles on Linux and Programming. Start here: http://duartes.org/gustavo/blog/best-of

http://catonmat.net -- He doesn't update much anymore since he's working on his startup but the archives are still good. Mostly unix tools and CompSci stuff IIRC.

http://chneukirchen.org/trivium/ -- Curates unix and plan9 articles and some lower level/systems programming stuff with a few other peculiarities sprinkled in.

http://www.foldl.org/ -- Curated programming/compsci stuff from certain subreddits. Didn't last long, archives still have some gems.

http://lambda-the-ultimate.org/ -- I actually don't read the articles that often anymore but I scan the titles as if it were a ticker of what's going on in the programming world.

If someone could point me to more curated sources like foldl, I'd appreciate it.


http://ryanholiday.net -- http://www.ryanholiday.net/an-introduction-to-me/

http://thelastpsychiatrist.com/ -- I skip the pharma articles that are way over my head. Cultural deconstructionism.

lemming 3 days ago 0 replies      
The best blogs don't have daily content. In fact, the best blogs usually post once a month, or less - often much less. Here are some:


duck 3 days ago 1 reply      
I use to have a very big list that I would consume via RSS. I kept making the list smaller and smaller as I wasn't checking it very often and thought that was the reason. Then I realized why: for the most part I was seeing the best of those articles on HN. So now, for my daily reads, it is 100% HN + some curated newsletters I'm subscribed too.
ohyes 3 days ago 1 reply      
Aggregates a bunch of common lisp blogs that are generally interesting.
_delirium 3 days ago 0 replies      
Far from daily, but Yosef K's blog is usually a good read when he does post:


Avenger42 3 days ago 0 replies      
Raymond Chen's blog, The Old New Thing (http://blogs.msdn.com/b/oldnewthing), is still my go-to site for any WinAPI discussion - and he's got plenty to say on the subject of developer & user behavior as well. Come for the brilliance, stay for the snark.
earl 3 days ago 0 replies      
Joe Damato has a great albeit infrequently updated programming blog, http://timetobleed.com/ . I think he wrote the memprof ruby gem. Posts HN may really enjoy:

an obscure kernel feature to get more info about dying processes [1]

a presentation from some ruby conf, particularly slide set 2 which details how memprof works and talks about the abi, etc [2]

plus a bunch of discussion of profiling tools to look at exactly what gcc or your vm of choice are doing. Highly recommended.

[1] http://timetobleed.com/an-obscure-kernel-feature-to-get-more...

[2] http://timetobleed.com/slides-from-mwrc-2010/

msbarnett 3 days ago 1 reply      
Mike Ash's Friday Q&A series is always a great investigation of the depths of Objective-C and Cocoa: http://www.mikeash.com/pyblog/
yread 3 days ago 1 reply      
AbyCodes 3 days ago 0 replies      
There are similar questions in reddit faq: http://www.reddit.com/r/programming/faq#Whatprogrammingblogs...

Steve Yegge's archives, http://www.modernperlbooks.com/mt/
are in my favourites, which are not mentioned here so far.

voidfiles 3 days ago 0 replies      
If you are looking for something that is more front-end specific Paul Irish has put together a really great list of blogs, and made a google reader bundle out of them.


Some standout blogs that I always read about programming are:

http://www.quirksmode.org/blog/ - Was writing about JS before it was cool, now it just has some of the most detailed coverage you can get of new things happening in js.

http://dailyjs.com/ - a great daily roundup of the news in the JS community

http://www.nczonline.net/ - A developer who lead many FE efforts inside of Yahoo, very outspoken about how JS should work.

http://www.joelonsoftware.com/ - Joels essays can be a bit cantankerous, but also paradigm changing.

http://sheddingbikes.com/ - pretty much everything that zed shaw does is fucking awesome. Take it with a grain of salt though.


Oh, I almost forgot steve yegge, http://steve-yegge.blogspot.com/ - In a few essays from steve my programming world opened into one of ideas, and not just syntax.

icebraining 3 days ago 0 replies      
Daily, none, but I have some on my RSS reader; besides the ones already posted:

http://julien.danjou.info/blog/index.html ← Julien Danjou, Awesome WM main (only?) dev.

http://ejohn.org/ ← John Resig, jQuery creator and lead dev


agumonkey 3 days ago 2 replies      
http://dorophone.blogspot.com/ ;; elisp/picolisp stuff. monads, sexp, fexpr. inspiring.

http://okmij.org/ftp/ ;; general cs ftw. too deep.

http://john.freml.in/ ;; nice http server perf in clisp.

http://www.learningclojure.com/ ;; get the most of clojure in terms of cpu cycles. refreshing.

http://vanillajava.blogspot.com/ ;; perf, lo-level details about java. refreshing.

btw, swegr ~= hacker ?

shangaslammi 3 days ago 1 reply      
The only semi-regularly updated ones I currently have in my RSS reader are:

- James Hague's "Programming in the 21st Century": http://prog21.dadgum.com/

- Edward Z. Yang's blog: http://blog.ezyang.com/

Rest of my daily blog hits I get via Hacker News and reddit/r/haskell

perlgeek 3 days ago 0 replies      

    http://planetsix.perl.org/ -- Perl 6
http://ironman.enlightenedperl.org/ -- Perl 5

taypo 3 days ago 0 replies      
More on the management side of development, but I like rands a lot
smoyer 3 days ago 0 replies      
Curious that I'm not following any of the blogs listed below ... I suspect that there are so many that we could each read quality content and have very little overlap. Of course, there are theory blogs that would apply to the whole group, but many of the blogs are also language/domain specific and so only a subset of us would be interested.
quadhome 3 days ago 0 replies      
First, go through the archives of http://anarchaia.org/
Then follow http://chneukirchen.org/trivium
olalonde 2 days ago 0 replies      
This one should be quite popular among the HN crowd although it's not strictly programming related.

http://www.lesswrong.com - A community blog devoted to refining the art of human rationality

Yhippa 3 days ago 0 replies      
I used to frequent Slashdot and DZone but all I have time for these days is HN. This place is fairly good at promoting good stories and the comments are usually as good as Slashdot so I feel like I don't need to go anywhere else (for now).
phatboyslim 3 days ago 0 replies      
The Morning Brew
Osiris 3 days ago 0 replies      
I read Alvin Ashcraft's Morning Dew, which is a .NET resource. He posts links to tons of articles every morning on 10 different topics. It's fun to read up on such a variety of different topics.


I also read the Daily WTF every day. It's great to have a chance to look at crappy code and try to re-write it in your head on how it should have been done.


nxn 3 days ago 0 replies      
http://javascriptweblog.wordpress.com/ Updates have gotten sort of rare lately, but it is hands down my favorite JS blog.
GlennS 3 days ago 0 replies      
I quite enjoy these:
http://ayende.com/blog (.NET centric, writes RavenDB/NHibernate Profiler)
http://blog.headius.com/ (JRuby creator
octopus 3 days ago 0 replies      

This is a blog with multiple authors, so I check this once a day.

sidwyn 3 days ago 0 replies      
Are my eyes playing tricks on me or is the title supposed to read 'What programming blogs do you read daily?' instead of 'What programming blogs your read daily?'

Both have subtle differences that poke at the perfectionist in me.

instigateme 3 days ago 0 replies      
I try to read from FolkLore.ORg as often as I can - it's not a daily read and there's not much new stuff, but it's off the beaten path and the old stories of Bill and Steve and Woz are pure win.
benbscholz 3 days ago 0 replies      
This summer I really enjoyed reading the joelonsoftware archives. The last update was mid-September, but the previous posts kept me busy for quite some time.
amitvjtimub 3 days ago 1 reply      
I created this app for visiting multiple sites you visit daily from one place:


Give it a try.

steamer25 3 days ago 0 replies      
Not a blog per se but I do check it most weekdays: http://stackoverflow.com/?tab=week
swah 3 days ago 0 replies      
dekorte.com (rare post on programming, but its nice to see a language implementor bashing on fp sometimes
MaxGfeller 3 days ago 0 replies      
http://www.codinghorror.com/blog/ is also an interesting blog to read.
Manuelito 3 days ago 0 replies      
kolsen 3 days ago 0 replies      
I like reading Scott Hanselman:


I also like this one with his series (back in 2008) on coding poker bots but he hasn't posted in a while:


captaintk 3 days ago 0 replies      
I can highly recommend http://blog.cdleary.com/
dlapiduz 3 days ago 0 replies      
For some Ruby/Rails stuff I follow:




nickburlett 3 days ago 0 replies      
It's not specifically a programming blog, but I find "A List Apart" (http://www.alistapart.com/articles/) to be a great resource for the design side of creating software.
dmitrykoval 2 days ago 0 replies      
Artima developer, http://www.artima.com/index.jsp - Java, Scala mostly
friendlytuna 3 days ago 0 replies      

All updated with new content almost every day, and the quality is getting stronger.

stevek 3 days ago 0 replies      
Entertaining rants, compression (data & image) & general sweng.


allan_ 3 days ago 0 replies      
http://got-ravings.blogspot.com/ by the vim-nerdtree dude. very funny.
zackb 3 days ago 0 replies      
I've always liked Ryan Flynn's blog and link collection
googletron 3 days ago 0 replies      
I tend to frequent http://www.mahdiyusuf.com The Dusty Programmer
afdssfda 3 days ago 0 replies      

I read a number of blogs when I search, but there are none that I go to daily just to read them.

sure051 2 days ago 0 replies      
BTW may i know what testing blogs do you read daily which would be more informative?
r3570r3 3 days ago 0 replies      
"Joel on software" and "Coding horror" are my all time favorite.
suyash 3 days ago 0 replies      
I only read HN for all the tech news/updates. I'm done with blogs now, it's too much out there and I only want the best. HN does a good job with that.
IGT 3 days ago 0 replies      
For a little bit on BIOS I go here: http://sites.google.com/site/pinczakko/
cpfohl 3 days ago 0 replies      
TechboyUK 3 days ago 0 replies      
It depends what posts appear in my RSS reader :-)
rektide 3 days ago 0 replies      
Programming blogs post daily????
We now have an effective vaccine for Malaria reuters.com
605 points by sethbannon  2 days ago   136 comments top 21
carbocation 1 day ago 1 reply      
This was a Phase 3 clinical trial published today in the New England Journal of Medicine: http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa1102287

Not home yet or I'd likely have more to say.

Home now. Reading the article. First thoughts:

* This is a vaccine for P. falciparum, which is the nasty form that you really don't want. Good.

* Funding comes from GSK and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

* These are interim results, looking at the older kids (5mo and up) in a 2-prong study (the younger kids haven't all hit the 12mo-duration milestone needed per protocol so this largely ignores them so far with more to come later). Caution. (Because there was no clear rationale given for why this is being reported now, in pieces.)

* Treated kids had higher incidence of meningitis. Caution.

* Treated kids had higher risk of febrile seizures. Caution.

* Generally, few deaths, so these kids seem to be well looked-after in this trial. Appropriate.

So far, so good. Interested to see the final Phase 3 results and to see how this holds up in Phase 4/postmarketing.

keecham 2 days ago 3 replies      
As someone who worked in the development world for a year, I can honestly say that if this vaccine pans out, it would be the biggest development in recent history and would change the livelihoods of so many individuals and families.

If this doesn't deserve a Nobel I'm not sure what does. Bravo Joe Cohen.

Sniffnoy 2 days ago 6 replies      
So can anyone explain just why malaria was so hard to vaccinate against by existing methods in the first place?
jfb 1 day ago 1 reply      
I'd like to recommend (without endorsing the opinions therein) this contrarian article I read about malaria, poverty, and Western attitudes towards Africa:


I found it fascinating, as someone with the intent of (eventually) studying disease ecology, in particular, that of malaria in West Africa. It's a thoughtful and well argued essay, but not in the end entirely convincing to me. But it deserves to be more widely distributed, I think.

PS: Thanks to Instapaper, which made retrieving this article a matter of seconds. Interesting how one's expectations of the rate of information retrieval have evolved, speaking as a 40-yr old who well remembers waiting around weeks at times for books or journals to be delivered to the Reg.

ajays 2 days ago 4 replies      
This is fantastic news. However, the vaccine won't be in production and available till 2015. Nearly 1 million people die every year from it; which means, about 1.5 million lives could be saved if the vaccine were in production today. I know it can't happen overnight, but still: 4 years?
dkasper 2 days ago 1 reply      
Amazing dedication to work on something for 24 years.
alttag 14 hours ago 0 replies      
It sounds like this vaccine should be combined with some of the mosquito eradication methods highlighted in a recent HN link [1]. One commenter there ("Ox12") pointed to an article in Nature which argues the reduction in mosquito population would likely not be problematic.

1: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=3043065
2: http://www.nature.com/news/2010/100721/full/466432a.html

ck2 1 day ago 0 replies      
No, in 2015 they'll have a vaccine.

And they are only taking 5% profit over "costs" which sounds promising.

grannyg00se 1 day ago 1 reply      
I was actually surprised to see no mention of Bill Gates or his foundation.
evjan 1 day ago 0 replies      
As somebody who lives in Africa (Ghana), I cannot overstate how important this could be. I hate malaria on so many levels.

Poor people die from it all the time. Wealthier people mistake it for a cold and die. It is also about as common as a cold here, so a lot of productivity is lost. Not to mention the huge amounts of money being spent on health care.

It is not a coincidence that the worst hit countries are the poorest, people can't afford treatment and the costs for the societies might actually keep many African countries in poverty.

Not to mention how inconvenient it is to not be able to sit outdoors at night, making sure your house is sealed off and spraying with poisonous insect repellants all the time.

sciurus 1 day ago 1 reply      
While this vaccine is an important development, there's still a lot of work to be done. If you'd like to develop free, publicly available tools that help researchers improve treatments for malaria and other parasites, send a resume to jobs AT apidb DOT org. We need not only people with bioinformatics backgrounds but also web developers to help us improve resources like the malaria genome database, http://plasmodb.org/
jroseattle 2 days ago 0 replies      
As I get older, I think more and more about my work being impactful on the lives of others. Not higher performance, better UI, greater convenience or less cost; rather, something that positively improves the lives of others.

That is really cool for Joe Cohen. Way to go.

yaix 2 days ago 4 replies      
This could have adverse effects, similar to medication agains HIV/AIDS. People will get a vaccine and reduce their efforts of protection against Malaria by mosquito nets and other means. I hope that will not happen.
Volpe 2 days ago 3 replies      
effective at reducing malaria incidence by 50%...

Is that what we are calling 'effective vaccine'?

It's a major achievement, but if this is 'effective vaccine' then we already have an 'effective cure' to a number of cancers as well. A bit link baity.

mattangriffel 2 days ago 2 replies      
I hope that the discovery of vaccines like this increase in frequency over time. I'm not sure if that IS the case, but I'd really like it to be so that one day soon AIDS and Cancer are as benign as Polio.
dfriedmn 2 days ago 1 reply      
Hard to believe, but hope this turns out to be true. Would represent meaningful progress for the world.
dpollak2020 2 days ago 0 replies      
made me happy.
aidenn0 2 days ago 0 replies      
Now we just need there to be a vaccine scare in africa so that malaria mutates and the vaccine is ineffective again
chernevik 1 day ago 1 reply      
It sounds great but I don't think Africa needs an autism epidemic right now.
dewiz 1 day ago 0 replies      
Vaccine have dangers (not just risks), I can't welcome this news, I only see a new "product". I would be much happier if a cure was found.


aymeric 2 days ago 8 replies      
I saw this article and I thought: less people who die = more people on the planet.

Isn't overpopulation the biggest challenge we are facing right now?

Who is working on this problem?

(if someone I care about was ill from Malaria, I would be happy to be able to cure that person, but my belief about overpopulation remains)

24 year old student lights match: Europe versus Facebook identityblog.com
565 points by Natsu  2 days ago   213 comments top 26
jritch 1 day ago 3 replies      
I think there's a few points here and although some replies have very valid points others completely stray from the issues that "Europe vs facebook" is making.

1. Facebook has bases, and operates, in Europe. Thus they MUST abide by our data laws. This means that, under our European laws they MUST supply ALL information they have on people. Currently this is not being done and as such they are breaking the law by not providing ALL information they hold on people. If they want to have HQ's in Europe and want Europeans to use their service they must abide by our laws, this is regardless if we as a user decide to sign up or not. These laws cannot at anytime be waived REGARDLESS if it is indeed us as Europeans deciding to use their service.

2. Quite simply, if they offer the option of "deleting" posts/likes/mails, then they should do just that, delete it. Anything other than this and they are quite blatantly misleading users.

3. They SHOULD NOT be gathering information on ANYONE who does not use their service. This is not legal and should not be allowed to happen. The old saying "knowledge is power" comes to mind, but these "big corporations" should not be able to gather data on people who have no connection what-so-ever to their company/services. Britain recently has been rocked by such scandals as phone hack etc aswell as the big argument about Google cars collecting data from wireless networks that they were not authorised to do so from. Is facebook gather information on people who have no connection to them any different from hacking someone's phone and listening to their messages? Or any different from a Google car passing your home and gathering information for your wireless network? My opinion is that it isnt any different. New of the world have had to pay out massive amount of compensation to the people who could prove that their phones were hacked. It is a breach of privacy and more importantly, THE LAW. Google also had to agree to delete all information gathered by its Google cars as this was deemed to be illegally collected.

Facebook should be made to adhere to our laws if they wish to be present in our countries. Thus they should be made to supply ALL information held on people who make subject access requests, they should delete all e mails/post/likes that have been deleted by the original (or any recipicants) and should also delete ALL information they have gained about people who no longer/have never used their service.

I joined facebook when it first came out as would say i was pretty young and naive, I didnt read all the agreements etc and certainly didn't know what I was signing myself up for (alot of which has not came out until recently). If facebook want to use the argument that everyone who signs up agree to their t&c then they should respect the fact that only peoples over the age of 18 should be allowed to join in Europe. (this is currently not the case with children as young as 8 and their pet dogs having profiles)....

Facebook cant have it all their own way and must respect the laws of the land, PERIOD.

count 2 days ago  replies      
Maybe it's my unenlightened American perspective coming out here, but why is this a big deal?

You chose to use the Facebook service, you chose to provide this information to them, and you chose to agree to their terms of service.

Facebook isn't a government agency, it's a private organization that has persuaded people to give it armloads of data about themselves, and uses that for whatever completely legal purposes it so desires. It's not like they are taking out credit card applications or anything on behalf of these users.

What is it about this completely voluntary relationship that is so inherently evil? I really don't get the harsh kickbacks and complaints against things like "Facebook keeps records of pokes even if the user 'removes' them". So what? How is that something that is litigation or 'outcry' worthy?

How much of this data is just persistent in the system because they operate at a scale where data deletion or removal just cannot feasibly be accomplished[1]? Much like google - 'we dont delete anything'. Why should they legally or otherwise be required to verify something is actually deleted, instead of simply ensuring it's inaccessible in their system? Why is nobody complaining about NTFS or ext3/4 not actually zeroing out the file space when you delete something, and instead just 'marking it deleted' or 'removing the pointer in the inode'? How is that fundamentally any different at all?

Please, educate me, because I really don't get it.

0x12 2 days ago 1 reply      
I really hope that nobody here is actually surprised that that is the true purpose of the 'like' button.

After all, the users get just about nothing out of it, if you like something that much an email will do just as well (to the select number of people that you think your liking a particular subject will appeal to).

The main winners are the publishers (they hope for some more traffic) and facebook (by extending your profile, not just by being able to count the 'likes' but also by the lesser value of those sites that you simply visit).

Like buttons and other third party javascript are a huge vector for privacy violations, basically any website that places any kind of third party javascript on their pages is giving full control over the privacy of their users to the party that hosts the javascript component.

If that party also happens to host a service that a large number of people have signed up for at some point in the past, and that they are possibly signed in to right this minute the potential for abuse is staggering.

redthrowaway 2 days ago 0 replies      
In Canada, you should be able to request this information under Section 23 of the Personal Information Protection Act [1](in BC), or PIPEDA elsewhere.

[1] http://www.leg.bc.ca/37th4th/3rd_read/gov38-3.htm#section23

ckinniburgh 2 days ago 1 reply      
There are a few comments here questioning why it's really important to actually delete data. This is a serious issue for a few different reasons. If I believe that I've deleted something, then there should be no way for anyone to retrieve the information -- I no longer have to worry about security breaches at Facebook (internally or externally), Government warrants, or Facebook accidentally reinstating the information.

As for the idea that Facebook is to big to effectively delete information, that's unacceptable. If you're that big and you can't figure out a way of routinely deleting data then you need to find a way of collecting more data or making your data easier to delete, or not giving the user the 'delete' option. There are a number of alternate verbs which describe the process they are going through, none of which are as clear or commonly understood as 'delete', but which are more accurate. 'Hide' and 'make data invisible' come to mind.

I don't have as much of a problem with the saving of messages which others will also read, but on deleting a Facebook account, this could be handled more gracefully if the user wishes. This is a more difficult problem to solve, which would require Facebook itself to store messages with under the covers public key cryptography which sounds like the type of thing they wouldn't do.

nihilocrat 2 days ago 1 reply      
There is a cool German word for companies like Facebook or Google, which collect mounds of information about their users:
Datenkrake : http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Datenkrake
VladRussian 2 days ago 3 replies      
"So many people applied for their own CDs that Facebook had to send out an email indicating it was unable to comply with the requirement that it provide the information within a 40 day period."

Has Facebook considered using benefits of modern technology and delivering the requested info electronically by, for example, setting up a web site where users could access/browse/download the requested info and may be even let some other users, like their friends, to access the info as well?


nfm 2 days ago 1 reply      
I wonder what's in place to prevent you requesting a CD of someone else's data.
w1ntermute 2 days ago 1 reply      
> If you use Facebook, records of all these visits are linked, through cookies, to your Facebook profile - even if you never click the “like” button.

Ghostery[0] prevents this, IIRC.

0: http://www.ghostery.com/

Permit 2 days ago 6 replies      
Honest question: Why is Facebook governed, at least in part, by European law? The reason I ask is that the United States has a lot of trouble enforcing its copyright laws abroad (which is good in my opinion), but Facebook and Google seem to bend to European laws regarding privacy and transparency.
vetler 1 day ago 0 replies      
I remember learning about the law that organizations have to provide all information stored about individuals upon request when I was a kid in school.

We even sent out letters requesting information as an assignment. I sent to a bank, I think. Not very interesting back then, but it would certainly be a lot more interesting now!

lukasb 2 days ago 1 reply      
The "excessive processing of data" claim, if valid, would seem to make any social networking service a non-starter:

"Facebook is hosting enormous amounts of personal data and it is processing all data for its own purposes.
It seems Facebook is a prime example of illegal 'excessive processing'."

MikeGrace 2 days ago 0 replies      
Will be really interesting to see what comes of this but I can't help but think back to http://geekandpoke.typepad.com/geekandpoke/2010/12/the-free-...
dhughes 1 day ago 0 replies      
Funny, I had to take a two hour mandatory company privacy training course today and the gist of it was the company could only use personal information customers allowed for the purpose it was intended to be used for.

The personal info can't be used for anything else other than what the customer agreed to. When the information is no longer required or whatever it was used for is finished the information has to be securely destroyed, until that point it has to be stored and guarded as securely as is possible.

Anyway after all that they proudly said we have a TRUSTe rating and showed other sites which also have it one of which is Facebook. Something seems wrong with that picture.

jhferris3 2 days ago 2 replies      
So, I'm going to make a statement that I think is important for anyone reading anything on the internet.

WHAT IS THE PROOF! (also known as 'consider the author', 'read the article', etc)

Now I can't say with certainty that any of these claims are false or true, but it occurs to me that a lot of these claims are based on what facebook MIGHT be doing with your data. I decided to take a look at the complaint and attachments for the shadow profiles case, I don't see any evidence that these shadow profiles exist, just that there is the possibility that they exist.

And for those that will inevitably say that proof isn't necessary, that means you don't trust facebook. If thats the case, there is nothing they can do to prove to you what they're doing is legitimate short of open sourcing their entire stack (and even then, you must trust that what they're running == the source they give you). So either trust that what they're saying is true, find evidence that they're doing something they aren't supposed to, or stop using the service entirely.

cwe 2 days ago 4 replies      
Man I want a copy of my report. Considering they're supposedly all about eliminating privacy, shouldn't they want to make all this accessible?
tcarnell 1 day ago 0 replies      
Regarding deleted data: there are clearly two concepts of 'deleted' a). deleted in terms of the application/user interface (ie, it is no longer visible) and b). deleted in terms of physical removal from all permenant storage. Clicking on a button labelled "delete" does not necesarily imply one or the other.

For example, if I "delete" an email in google it is not deleted, it goes to my 'trash/bin' folder - is this also a breach of the law? and are we sure which definition the "Delete Forever" button is using?

...I suppose its up to the terms and conditions to define this.

poisonbit 15 hours ago 0 replies      
In Europe, consumers are persons and have rights.

In some issues, consumer rights have the same importance than big-fat-company.

I don't know if in other continents everybody is pro unscrupulous vendors.


namank 2 days ago 0 replies      
I don't understand WHY Facebook chose to not reveal the rest of the data on the first attempt. Let it be a sign of good faith! FB is not alone in this, obviously sites that I visit track usage and what not.

If its a best practices for business thing (do not bend over more than you have too) then C'MONNN! This is the post baby boomers age, bro - the digital age. Get with the show, be good.

Why would they delay sending others the data? In fact, I would use this opportunity to gain the trust that left the building with the long lost battle about privacy (settings)

Of course I presume all the data they collect is within the bounds of legal and ethical lines.

samirahmed 1 day ago 0 replies      
1200 pages of information? Why does Facebook as a service (omitting privacy) not have the ability to search through comments etc...

they need to get there shit together

apitaru 1 day ago 0 replies      
If I could drive one thing into the collective minds of FaceBook users, it would be this:

"If you're not paying for something, you're not the customer, you're the product being sold" *Andrew Lewis

01PH 1 day ago 0 replies      
Does anybody know when the story hit Reddit for the first time?
Not quite sure if this wasn't on HN first.
namank 2 days ago 1 reply      
DOWNLOAD a copy of your personal data here:


Click 'Download a Copy'

saturdaysaint 2 days ago 3 replies      
What's the deal with "Europe" vs Facebook? Is anyone else catching a little bit of nationalism?
twodayslate 2 days ago 3 replies      
If you don't like them storing your data, then don't go on the site. They won't have it if you don't give it to them.
modeless 2 days ago 0 replies      
So much outrage, and yet so little actual harm. These people may mean well but they are ushering in an era of government regulation of the internet that will (perversely) entrench incumbents like Facebook.
Video: Quantum Levitation jasonadriaan.com
566 points by jasonadriaan  3 days ago   95 comments top 24
MarkMc 2 days ago 1 reply      
Reminds me of a great quote by Benjamin Franklin:

"The rapid progress true Science now makes, occasions my regretting sometimes that I was born too soon. It is impossible to imagine the height to which may be carried, in a thousand years, the power of man over matter. We may perhaps learn to deprive large masses of their gravity, and give them absolute levity, for the sake of easy transport. Agriculture may diminish its labour and double its produce; all diseases may by sure means be prevented or cured, not excepting even that of old age, and our lives lengthened at pleasure even beyond the antediluvian standard. O that moral science were in as fair a way of improvement, that men would cease to be wolves to one another, and that human beings would at length learn what they now improperly call humanity!"

-- Letter from Benjamin Franklin to Joseph Priestly (8 Feb 1780), quoted in "How Mumbo Jumbo conquered the World" by Francis Wheen

sbierwagen 3 days ago 5 replies      
Pure marketing. "Quantum levitation" is just flux pinning[1] as seen in all "high temperature" superconductors. All you need a chunk of type 2 superconductor, a strong magnet, and some liquid nitrogen. Note the 852 videos on youtube: http://www.google.com/search?q=superconductor+levitation&...

You can shell out 80 bucks and do it yourself: http://sargentwelch.com/superconductivity-suspension-and-lev... LN2 not provided.)

There doesn't appear to be any novel physics here at all.

1: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flux_pinning

fybren 3 days ago 2 replies      
This is very cool. Another video with a bit of an explanation as to why - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VyOtIsnG71U.
sliverstorm 3 days ago 4 replies      
Quick question: If the object is the temperature of liquid nitrogen, how can he touch it for so long?
colanderman 3 days ago 3 replies      
So, the electrical engineer in me says that this is because any movement of the magnet would induce an electric potential in the superconductor. But because such a potential would create an effectively infinite amount of current requiring an infinite amount of work, the magnet is unable to move.

Or from a "cause-and-effect" viewpoint, movement of the magnet induces a current loop in the superconductor, the creation of which creates an opposing magnetic force.

Either way I believe this is the same principle behind electric motor braking (e.g. when you short-circuit the inputs of a motor). I believe you would also see a similar effect by dropping a magnet down a tube encircled with many (or perhaps one spiral) loop of wire -- the magnet's descent will be slowed by eddy currents in the loops.

Edit: Aha, this is just half the story. The superconductor is prevented from spinning due to flux pinning: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flux_pinning (or what the researchers call quantum trapping / quantum locking)

skeletonjelly 3 days ago 1 reply      
When I came into work this morning this was at the top of reddit.com/r/all (got to get the procrastination out of the way first thing right!)

A guy spoke up regarding his father who works in the field. Currently doing Q&A


jeffool 3 days ago 3 replies      
On a more serious note, I'd love to find out more about just how much weight they think this tech could support in the future. Those implications could be insane.
ars 2 days ago 0 replies      
joshu 3 days ago 2 replies      
ck2 2 days ago 2 replies      
Will this scale to train cars weighing a few tons each?

So if this was demonstrated live to congress, do you think they'd finally fund a few miles of super-conducting trains for research?

mattyohe 3 days ago 1 reply      
Is this "quantum locking" just a rebranding of the Meissner Effect?


latch 3 days ago 1 reply      
how much force (if any) is required to break it off the track? Could that disk be slingshotted around at hundreds of miles per hour and stay on tack?
Tichy 2 days ago 0 replies      
Hm, I remember getting excited about this about 23 years ago, when I was still at school.

Can't help wondering if perhaps 50 years ago people were also getting excited about it and expecting to see cool things to come out of it in the near future.

Not saying that there couldn't, but I can't help feeling vary about the "technology of the future claim".

hugh3 3 days ago 1 reply      
Not particularly quantum mechanical.

Well, no more so than everything else you might happen to see in your everyday life.

DanBC 2 days ago 2 replies      
Isn't there already a shortage of rare earth minerals, used to make strong magnets? Is that going to be a problem for extending uses of this outside a lab?

But: really cool video.

atte 2 days ago 0 replies      
As a thought experiment, could the effect demonstrated here be used for a transport system on a much colder planet with a much stronger magnetic field (I do realize that these two properties tend to correlate in opposite directions)? What about in our arctic regions, potentially over a magnetic track to interconnect enclosed "settlements"? I'm guessing it would be less cost-effective than other types of transport if even possible, but many times cooler.
coldarchon 2 days ago 2 replies      
At 1:30 the disc on the tracks stops without any outer interference, am I missing something in the video?
zerostar07 2 days ago 0 replies      
Quantum physics professors do that in their first lecture, it's getting old.
Duckpaddle2 2 days ago 0 replies      
That has to be one of the most engaging conferences I have ever seen. The science demos are just too cool. If I have the time I'm going next year!
Pointsly 3 days ago 1 reply      
Am I really the first one who immediately thinks about Hoverboards???
GraffitiTim 3 days ago 0 replies      
How does this work?
DrData 2 days ago 0 replies      
Put this in a vacuum... perpetual motion?
bgramer 3 days ago 1 reply      
How much longer before we all drive landspeeders?
marcamillion 3 days ago 1 reply      
Flying cars here we come?
IOS 5's "Cleaning" Behavior marco.org
559 points by JeffDClark  7 days ago   195 comments top 36
ender7 7 days ago  replies      
Apple's in a tight spot here - either they leave things as they are and piss off developers (and, by fiat, piss off users), or they have to start forcing users to more proactively manage their remaining space.

One can probably easily imagine an interface for showing the user how much data a particular app is using and allow them to nuke the temporary stuff. It might even look beautiful. It might even be fun to use. But it's going to introduce a lot of hand-wringing and micro-managing and lots of mental overhead that Apple really, really wants to avoid.

smokey_the_bear 7 days ago 6 replies      
I write several offline mapping apps, and this is totally throwing us for a loop. We're recommending our power users not upgrade to iOS 5. Users download gigabytes of maps to their cache directory, they don't want to eat their iCloud allotment with that, or their slow their iTunes sync. But they also don't want to have to download those maps again, or find themselves in the middle of the woods without the maps they downloaded.
qjz 6 days ago 3 replies      
Apple - iCloud - Your content. On all your devices.

That is the title of Apple's main iCloud page at http://www.apple.com/icloud/.

iCloud is seamlessly integrated into your apps, so you can access your content on all your devices.

This is Apple's definition for the iCloud service. It doesn't matter what the data is, it's your data and Apple is promising to sync it between your devices, to preserve your experience.

In the case of Instapaper, the solution is obvious: Put the files in Documents. That is Instapaper's content and part of the experience that users want synced between devices.

If Apple penalizes developers and undermines the promise it is making to users because it decides to be miserly about bandwidth, then it has to admit it launched iCloud before it was ready.

pohl 7 days ago 2 replies      
I'm sympathetic to Marco's blog post here, but I wonder if he's failing to interpret the two paragraphs from the documentation within the context of Instapaper's purpose.

With respect to point #1, and in the context of what Instapaper is for, the user is intending to read an article offline, and the local copy of the article was generated by the user's intent (and can, therefore, be considered user-generated even though the user is not the author of the article.)

With respect to point #2, the articles fail the "can be downloaded again" test in light of the app's purpose of making the articles available to the user when the network is not available. When the network is unavailable, the articles cannot be downloaded again. Edit: JeffDClark makes another excellent point here that the article may have originally been behind a paywall and therefore cannot be guaranteed to be re-downloadable. The same is true if the author removed the original article from their webserver.

Ergo, put them in the Documents folder. Whether this would satisfy the app reviewer is another question, but it's worth a shot to carefully explain to them how your app is not violating the letter of the law.

zbowling 6 days ago 3 replies      
Add .nosync to the file/folder name path and keep it in the home or documents directory. Problem solved.

edit: I'm shocked this thread is so long and no body mentioned this. It's been on the apple developer forums for months as a solution.

lukeredpath 7 days ago 1 reply      
Lots of people are focussing on Marco's particular use case in the comments, and I think it's a valid one, but this extends beyond simple documents.

There is a category of data that is aimed at offline use. Streaming apps like Spotify, that let you download playlists for offline use. GPS apps that download hundreds of MB of map data. You get the idea.

On one hand, this data is a form of cache. The data is always available elsewhere (on the content provider servers) and it can be restored if necessary in a worst case scenario. But the key word here is "offline". This is the kind of data that, by definition depends on being around if the user is offline and therefore cannot be easily restored on demand, when the user needs it.

Obviously, having all of this stuff backed up to iCloud and using up GBs of people's capacity is not feasible or even logical. So this kind of data does not belong anywhere that iCloud will back up. But it must be stored somewhere that is safe from being purged.

Yes, a users GPS maps can be restored eventually but that doesn't help them when they are stranded in the middle of nowhere with nothing but a weak GPRS signal and all of their maps gone.

Apple have made an almighty cockup in overlooking the "offline data" use case.

In Marco's case, I'd agree that the articles represent user data that should be stored somewhere like Application Support, which will be backed by iCloud but I think that's probably fine in this case.

sjwright 7 days ago 1 reply      
There are a number of possible scenarios for file storage, the problem is a lack of clarity or documentation about the properties of the various locations as they stand now. As a developer, I could imagine desiring the following choices:

1. Temp: No backup, cleared regularly

2. Cache: No backup, cleared when space is tight

3. Local: Local backup only, never cleared

4. Documents: Local/cloud backup, never cleared

5. Cloud: Cloud backup, cleared when space is tight

The problem seems to be that #3 doesn't exist. Yet you'd think it would be a common requirement for stuff like in-app purchases of large and essential content packs, for example, turn-by-turn navigation maps.

I'd hate to be on holiday and have a 10 megabyte podcast download automatically trigger the erasure of 1000 megabytes of navigation data.

rubergly 6 days ago 2 replies      
I'm definitely at risk of running into this predicament as a user. I'm more worried about the hundreds of megabytes of podcasts I download when WiFi is available for use throughout the day when WiFi isn't available.

To avoid this issue and enjoy the benefits of iOS 5, I'm going to have to clear out a bunch of apps, music, and photos and ensure that I always have a sufficient amount of "buffer" space so the cleaning is never triggered. I cannot be alone in this, and the fact that Apple is making this kind of thinking necessary for end users is kind of ridiculous. I really can't see this behavior lasting for very long, and I'm sure Apple will address it soon; this is the antithesis to the traditional iPhone experience. The only scenario where I could see this being purposeful is if Apple is really trying to hurt offline apps to increase data usage and appease carriers (maybe for pissing them off with iMessage?).

wrs 7 days ago 2 replies      
It seems fair to say that Instapaper's version of an article can't be "redownloaded" for various reasons (offline, paywall, article removed, etc.) so it would be OK to put it in the Documents folder.

The argument against that is that you're now syncing that article with iCloud in addition to Instapaper.

But I wonder whether the correct answer is instead to eliminate Instapaper's sync feature, and just let iCloud do it. Once you have system-level cloud sync, don't you want to let Apple do the work? Sync is hard, and it isn't really the core value of Instapaper.

Edit: I was wondering about iCloud only for iOS 5/MacOS 10.7.2 devices with iCloud accounts. But that story does fall apart for people with mixed devices. So never mind.

smackfu 7 days ago 1 reply      
I don't understand Apple's logic here. You can't reconcile the idea of "cleaning because you can redownload" with "available offline". As soon as you clean up, you are going to break offline uses.

I would guess the idea is to help enable these 500 MB per issue magazine downloads. You download a new issue, you nuke some old issue, no one cares. As long as that wasn't an issue you cared about.

jackvalentine 7 days ago 1 reply      
The first time that one of my several hundred megabyte foreign language dictionary files isn't available and needs to be re-downloaded when I need it in say, a meeting will trigger a severe re-evaluation of my use of the phone.
psychotik 7 days ago 2 replies      
Isn't NSApplicationSupportDirectory for stuff that isn't "Documents" and yet needs to be managed as app state (not in 'Caches')? Why not just use that instead? That's what my app does and it seems to be OK with iOS 5.
euroclydon 7 days ago 0 replies      
Seem like the Dropbox app will have this quandary but on an even larger scale.
hernan7 7 days ago 3 replies      
I wouldn't say that the articles' metadata (URL, title, date of download, maybe thumbnail of the 1st page) is downloaded content. It's clearly user-generated, and should be in the "home" of the app IMHO.

The articles themselves, yes, send them to the cache. If the user needs to reclaim the storage used up by the articles, let the OS delete them. Then, when the user needs to read the article again, it will take some time to download. But don't get into an "all articles gone" situation. Just my 2 cents.

JeffDClark 7 days ago 1 reply      
The whole idea of an app like Instapaper (or any of the other examples presented) is that the "stuff" that is saved for later is all user-generated content. Some articles may even vanish (different location, move behind a paywall, deleted, etc...). In this case those articles would become inaccessible when the OS deletes the cache.

It seems that the argument that only the list of metadata is user-generated can apply to any type of media (music, movies, etc...). Technically speaking all of the music on my phone could be downloaded on demand. Of course this requires an always connected, fat, and cheap network connection. Which is pretty much the opposite of what most folks have.

This also breaks the user's expectations. I was annoyed/surprised when I upgraded to iOS 5 and Instapaper had to re-download everything.

theatrus2 7 days ago 0 replies      
Has anyone figured out where the high water mark is? When will the cleaning behavior kick in?

This is an interesting twist especially with the 16GB devices which tend to actually be above 50%.

j_baker 7 days ago 1 reply      
What about apps like spotify and rdio? Where do they store music if those two directories are constantly cleaned?
MatthewPhillips 6 days ago 0 replies      
I think the problem is that Marco sees Instapaper users as his customers. I sympathize with this, but I think iOS is an assertion by Apple that App Store customers are Apple customers. App Store Developers are providing a service to Apple's customers. But everything that happens must point back to Apple's servers, not their own.

In the same way Apple doesn't want every developer operating their own independent payment system, they also don't want developers operating their own cloud storage services. If Apple holds the data they can guarantee its security. They likely see these problems as temporary, until developers and customers learn to adjust to the fact that iOS data is controlled by the iCloud service.

xpaulbettsx 7 days ago 0 replies      
It sounds like what Marco is looking for is something equivalent to Windows's AppData\Local, machine local, doesn't get nuked, but doesn't sync over roaming profiles either
sidwyn 7 days ago 0 replies      
I develop Definition (http://definitionapp.com) and I store the database in the Caches directory as well, after receiving the email from Apple to move. This is bad news for me, the entire offline dictionary could be wiped out.
tjmc 7 days ago 1 reply      
DHH declared the solution in 2007 [1] - apparently nobody needs offline applications!

[1] http://37signals.com/svn/posts/347-youre-not-on-a-fucking-pl...

Scorponok 7 days ago 2 replies      
Maybe the solution is to make it a choice for the user? An option to "clean up documents when space is low on the device" in the instapaper options. If checked, stuff gets stored in cache. If not, in documents.

That way, the default behavior is that "download something = want to keep it on device", but users can do the other one too if they want. I don't think the option is particularly useful, but it might make the app reviewer happy?

jmcnevin 7 days ago 2 replies      
Is it possible that a user could use Instapaper to save a document that they wouldn't be able to download later, even if they had access to an internet connection? If that's possible, I think Instapaper would have every right to store things in the Documents folder, since you're asking it to create something more akin to an archive than a temporary cache of data.
nrser 6 days ago 0 replies      
manage it yourself: put things that need to be persistent in Documents. put the rest in Cache. move 'em as needed. do it automatically by download and access dates and/or provide an interface for people to manage it.

your app absolutely needs tons and tons of data to function? doesn't seem like your day. it's their device, their cloud, their decision. Apple doesn't give a shit about your day; they're going cloud. they may be wrong, but i'd guess they're going to have to find that out for themselves.

i'd assume they acknowledge this may kill some apps. i don't think they ever promised anyone a business; on the contrary, they seem to remind developers that they are there at their good grace all the time. as someone that built Facebook apps since '07, trust me, i know what this is like. start coding and start calling. best of luck.

cschep 7 days ago 1 reply      
So, people (developers) are going to have to put their stuff in Documents, and instruct users to disable the iCloud sync for their particular app, unless the user really wants to have it eat into their iCloud storage.

Would that work?

droithomme 7 days ago 2 replies      
That's pretty interesting. So, the three non-backed locations are tmp, Caches and the Application Bundle. tmp and Caches are now swept. So, if you store your real cache stuff in the Application Bundle, it won't be backed up or auto-deleted. But maybe it gets trashed when you update the app.

I wonder if OS X, in line with its trend to be more like iOS, is going to start automatically clearing the ~/Library/Caches directory as well.

charlieok 7 days ago 1 reply      
I must be missing something. What is the problem with backing up pages stored in InstaPaper to iCloud? That's exactly the behavior I would want if I were using InstaPaper.
wmf 7 days ago 1 reply      
Clearly, apps that cache data need to be modified to show the difference between having no data and having no data cached. IMAP clients have dealt with this, for example; they show a message like "the contents of this folder are not available offline".

Perhaps Apple could have made cache cleaning opt-in on a per-app basis until iOS 6, though.

zamfi 7 days ago 0 replies      
There needs to be a file storage location that behaves the way Caches did before iOS 5

I'm confused. If the goal is for documents to be available in the near future in offline form, why not keep documents in /Documents until the user has read them (or some sane amount of time has passed), and then move them to /Caches or some temporary storage?

I've never used Instapaper, so perhaps documents are only stored until read anyway?

mw1234 7 days ago 0 replies      
This is also particularly problematic for my own apps, which are offline photo browsers that sync your collection of photos. Keeping GBs of data in the Caches folder was the only way to have iPhone backups occur reasonably fast. Sure, they can be re-synced, but that will be a very time-consuming process for thousands of photos.
staufman 7 days ago 2 replies      
Could you use NSUserDefaults? I don't think there is a limit on the data stored there.
minga 6 days ago 0 replies      
"Prior to iOS 5, the system never deleted the contents of Caches and tmp, so they were safe places for apps to put data that should always be available"

Not exactly.

martinbech 6 days ago 0 replies      
I dont get it.. he get furios because he saves files he needs in a folder called /cache , and /cache gets purged when the system runs low on space.... What did you think cache meant?

Why dont you just update your app?

peterclary 6 days ago 0 replies      
What about offline web apps which are saved onto the home screen? Are they also "cleaned"? If we can't depend upon an offline web app to be there when offline then that would fundamentally defeat the purpose.

Of course, one could argue that the cleaning behaviour fundamentally defeats the purpose of a lot of apps, as already covered above (Instapaper, Offline Maps, etc.).

My iMac is packed up for building work, so I can't upgrade my iPad and check this out for myself. Sorry.

falling 7 days ago 1 reply      
He says he knew about this behavior, and he also explicitly said (on Twitter, can't be bothered looking for it) that he was not going to report bugs to Apple during the beta.

I guess Marco just prefers venting after the fact.

RIP, dmr muppetlabs.com
555 points by breadbox  8 days ago   21 comments top 11
stevelosh 8 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 8 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 8 days ago 1 reply      
RIP, Dennis Ritchie.

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

rhdoenges 8 days ago 1 reply      
Something about C saying that is incredibly depressing.
I cried.
bgarbiak 7 days 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.
oracuk 7 days 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.
jgrahamc 7 days ago 0 replies      
jmagar 7 days ago 0 replies      
This marks the end of all my "Hello World!" first programs; replaced by "goodbye, dad\n"
adgar 8 days ago 1 reply      
I know it's kinda tasteless, but `puts` is more appropriate.
ryfm 7 days ago 0 replies      
nicks22 6 days ago 0 replies      
Legends like DMR don't die, they just gosub without return
Lights elliegoulding.com
552 points by citricsquid  7 days ago   91 comments top 39
citricsquid 7 days 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 7 days 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 7 days 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 7 days 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 7 days 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 7 days 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 7 days 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 7 days 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 7 days ago 1 reply      
WebGL is a helluva drug.

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

tsunamifury 7 days ago 4 replies      
FYI, the Bassnectar remix of this song is very good.
navs 7 days 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).

DanielRibeiro 7 days ago 1 reply      
Guess it did not get enough traction yesterday: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=3102979
matdwyer 7 days 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 7 days ago 0 replies      
Wow, the last few seconds of the video are so beautiful.
voidfiles 7 days 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.

alanh 7 days 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

tomlin 6 days 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.

dangrossman 6 days ago 0 replies      
I wish the visualizations in my media player looked anywhere as good as that.
aiurtourist 6 days 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.)
ranza 7 days ago 1 reply      
I love that none of the js code is minimized! Great use of Mr. Doob's Three.js library

For reference:



taylorlb 7 days 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.
agravier 7 days 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 7 days ago 0 replies      
Not working for me on FF 7.0.1 or Chrome 14.0.835.202 on Windows XP. :(
DanBC 7 days 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.
trurl123 1 day ago 0 replies      
Does not work. I try to use Firefox 7 and Chrome.
sandieman 7 days ago 1 reply      
anyone know the developer(s) behind this?
flink 7 days 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.

tambourine_man 6 days ago 0 replies      
Frame by frame animation here.

ATI Radeon X1600 256 MB, 10.7.2

jpulgarin 7 days ago 0 replies      
Doesn't work on Chromium 12.0 in Ubuntu 11.04
nixarn 7 days 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.
kruhft 7 days ago 1 reply      
Crashed my browser, Linux Firefox 7.0.1...
spot 7 days ago 0 replies      
if you want real interaction: http://sp0t.org/videoriot
mistertrotsky 7 days ago 0 replies      
Really well-done! This impresses me a lot more than dropping a sphere in a box of water.
filthylucre 6 days ago 0 replies      
I thought it was great stuff.
kevinchen 7 days ago 0 replies      
Did this remind anybody else of a cell membrane with proteins and stuff attached?
hm2k 7 days ago 0 replies      
This really impressed me.
rymedia 6 days ago 0 replies      
This looked effing amazing on my 27inch monitor
jklipton 7 days ago 0 replies      
This is awesome.
ajsharp 7 days ago 0 replies      
Dizzying but invisible depth google.com
528 points by rhdoenges  5 days ago   105 comments top 24
Timothee 4 days ago 3 replies      
This is part of the things that I list under "human-built things I technically understand (more or less) but are still completely baffling if I stop and think about it".

Amongst these:

- same example with Google Instant: the fact that what I type goes to Google and back that fast and that I never get somebody else's page is pretty amazing;

- CRT monitors: a flow of electrons is bent with electric current to hit a specific point on the screen, for millions of dots at least 30 times a second and it never misses its targets; (leaving aside that we were able to get a constant flow of electrons in the first place…)

- car engine: fuel is injected, compressed, lit up in cylinders at 3000rpm to make a 4,000 vehicle move at 65mph and the engine barely ever have hiccups.

- cell phones: I'm driving in California and can talk to my Dad who is in a high-speed train in France. It works and you can't even notice a significant delay.

And there are obviously so many more things like these…

It's like this Louis C.K. bit about people who complain about being stranded 40 minutes on the ground before taking part of "the miracle of flight". We should spend more time amazed at when it works than pissed at when it doesn't.

ChuckMcM 4 days ago 0 replies      
I found this disheartening. Life is complex but its not unknowable.

One of those 'life choices' I faced when I entered college was whether or not I wanted to 'program' computers or to 'build' them. These would guide the choice of EE or CS degree. My father asked if people with EE degrees were allowed to program computers, I said of course they were. Then he asked if people with CS degrees were allowed to build them, and the answer was no they were not generally. So if I didn't know what I wanted to do, I should get an EE degree since then I could do either.

Turned out to be pretty sage advice and knowing how the computer does what it does really helps program it. Especially if you are trying to wring every erg of performance out of it. When I graduated with my EE degree (and a minor in CS) I was proud of the fact that I could write a database in a languge for which I wrote the compiler on a computer architecture that I designed using circuits that I understood down to the physics of the PN junctions that governed the behavior of semiconductors. (It really is math all the way down sadly)

That being said, I firmly believe the human brain has a limit (which may be case by case) of how much stuff it can hold at one time. And the notion of abstraction, especially modularization and testable components, makes complex systems possible.

This comes up in a variety of contexts. Sometimes I interview folks who can draw a nice architecture on the white board with boxes and arrows and such. So I ask them do go into one of the boxes, and lets draw that out in detail. And then those sub boxes I want to go into their detail as well. My goal is to understand that the candidate understands that 'boxes' are only a good way of thinking about something if you understand what the box is really modelling.

A good example of this is that naive people treat a hard disk drive like a box. It has a port you tell it to read logical block A or write logical block B and it does some magic and makes it happen. But really it screws up now and then, and it has very variable performance. So if you can't explain how you have accounted for these properties of your box then you're not thinking deeply enough about it.

Sometimes an 'architect' type (you know the type, Joel called them Architecture Astronauts as I recall) they dismiss your whole area of expertise as a box in their model. This can lead to some pretty dismissive thinking by the 'doers' in the crowd, but it is important to know that without abstracting that thing you're working on, the architect person wouldn't have enough brain capacity left over to see the 'bigger' picture. As long as their picture of your box is accurate, you should cut them some slack.

The bottom line for me is that it can be 'amazing' at how the complex system runs but words like 'mystifying' and 'dizzying' make me nervous. If you're a software developer and its 'mystifying' how your program can do what it does that is a problem you should address. There was an excellent pointer to 'what every programmer should know about memory' and there should be equivalents to 'networks', 'processor architecture', and 'disks'.

kiba 5 days ago 5 replies      
The technology that civilization creates is only possible because humanity specializes. Humans aren't so smart by themselves, but we can do a lot of thing if humans possess specific knowledge.

For example, one guy specialize and dedicate his life to metalworking. If I try to know everything in the world, I could barely scratch the surface of what that guy learned.

People can even specialize in multidisciplines. They don't know as deeply as a specialist in a subject area but they know two area well and combine them into useful combination.

It would seems that today's problem is more about the limit of human beings' ability to store and synthesize information across vast disparate field. In other words, we generated so much knowledge, but so much is just kept there not being used.

Spaced repetition is a good example. It's a very powerful memorization technique, but it is not being used in colleges and schools, except those who discover it on accident.

It's also a timesaving tool in the programming profession. Instead of googling and wasting 5 minutes for answers to our programming problem, we can save 5 minutes for many common tasks we memorize. It won't save us from debugging woes but at least we get to the important programming problems faster.

There's also a storehouse of reliable information on self improvement written by psychologists who done experiment and research things like willpower and discipline, why it fails, and so on. Instead, we got distracted by techniques that seems to work but have no scientific basis, or we get distracted by self improvement gurus that have no idea what we're talking about.

We are specialists but we miss a ton of useful stuff that would be useful to our specialization. It's like missing a thousand useful book every year because you can never read them fast enough.

erikstarck 4 days ago 1 reply      
I have my 14 months old daughter playing right next to me. Two cells merged and there was life, giggles, tears, words, laughter.

Now, _that's_ dizzying.

BoppreH 5 days ago 0 replies      
Reminds me of "Nobody knows how to make a pencil":


It's the same thing at every human technology. And this in turn reminds me of Mostly Harmless, by Douglas Adams, where the protagonist finds himself in a simple rustic village. He is unable to reproduce any of the technology from his civilization and settles as a sandwich maker.

tamersalama 4 days ago 0 replies      
This article brings to mind "If Software Is Eating The World, Why Don't Coders Get Any Respect?" discussion - http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=2919708

Perhaps by making technology a Black box, we unintentionally shielded those who deserve the credit (social and monetary) from receiving it. Maybe even allowed some grey-area experts from controlling an industry with ones and zeros at its core.

rickmb 4 days ago 0 replies      
In my opinion this post ignores the significant divide between the general understanding of hardware and software.

Most people have a general idea of how an internal combustion engine works, how their fridge works, how a tv works, hell, even about how a nuclear power plant works. Most people wouldn't know how to make any of these things, but it's not exactly a "dizzying invisible depth" either, and most people are capable of making informed decisions without being engineers.

When it comes to software however, most peoples understanding remains completely at the surface. I don't believe this is something we should accept as "normal", because this is exactly what leads to many of the issues our society is currently struggling with. Not just software patents, but many of the current security and privacy issues or the huge unemployment.

The general understanding of software was not, and still isn't part of peoples culture and education in the same way a basic understanding or hardware has always been. This significantly undermines the decision making on all levels of society, from government policy to personal choices. The patent mess is just a symptom.

teyc 5 days ago 2 replies      
The real problem is in people patenting ideas that are of dubious innovation. In fact, the patent office should negate patent applications if identical ones appear within months of one another. This is because it shows that there is no genuine leap of innovation that has occurred.
idan 4 days ago 0 replies      
I often try to explain this to friends, but in a shorter way:

Driving a car is essentially a controlled explosion taking place every second about three feet in front of your face"and yet this very dangerous and messy process "just works" for millions of drivers every day. We are more afraid of other cars than we are of the fireworks right in front of our face. That's pretty amazing.

icebraining 5 days ago 1 reply      
Obligatory XKCD: http://xkcd.com/676/
Splines 5 days ago 2 replies      
Reminds me of a thought I had about babies: How does that little bunch of cells grow into a living, breathing human being? Surely there isn't enough information in there to do that.

Answer: It can't, and it doesn't. Not without the mother.

(I have no idea if this is indeed true, but I like the loopyness of the idea).

texel 4 days ago 1 reply      
Sort of puts arguments about "leaky abstractions" in the appropriate perspective. Even assembly has a lot of turtles holding it up...
tripzilch 4 days ago 0 replies      
Well, this kind of puts a new spin on the saying "any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic"!
dos1 5 days ago 1 reply      
Was I the only one who was thinking: "Jeez, I've seen some of the code that runs these complex systems, and the really amazing thing is that they ever worked at all!" :)
sylvinus 4 days ago 1 reply      
As Matt Ridley puts it in his TED talk ( http://www.ted.com/talks/matt_ridley_when_ideas_have_sex.htm... ) :

Nobody on earth knows how to build a computer mouse (all by himself).

Dn_Ab 4 days ago 0 replies      
Keep going and it gets simple again.

You put a bunch of leptons and quarks in a specific ordering and they start arranging other atoms in ways to help them understand their own specific arrangement.

That they can is why I think it is simple. in the sense of elegant.

hsuresh 4 days ago 0 replies      
This is similar to one of my favourite interview questions. I usually ask my candidates to explain everything that happens from the time they type an address in their browser till when the page they requested is rendered. You can find a lot about candidates with this question.
Hitchhiker 5 days ago 0 replies      
People who got somewhat of a buzz reading the above may enjoy James Gleick's new book @ http://around.com
Aissen 5 days ago 0 replies      
Same submission from a few hours ago:

(Apparently multiple sign-on URI leaked on my earlier submission)

ScotterC 5 days ago 0 replies      
I've understood this for quite awhile but have had a really hard time articulating it. This piece is a godsend.
jagatiyer 5 days ago 1 reply      
We need a new human layer to truly make meaning and create value over all the technology.We need all this to come together to change our lives in ways that parallel the invention of the wheel and the computer.Its clear the next big thing is Personal webs!
ctdonath 5 days ago 0 replies      
Google "I, Pencil".
pavedwalden 4 days ago 0 replies      
I simply could not get past the Groundhog-day intro.
zerostar07 5 days ago 8 replies      
I actually find the simplicity of computing devices staggering and beautiful. If the earth was wiped out tomorrow, one would only need to remember what a turing machine is and how to make a semiconductor to rebuild them.

Also, the rant becomes too broad to have a point.

OpenClassroom: Free video courses from Stanford University stanford.edu
477 points by hoffmang  3 days ago   63 comments top 25
barik 3 days ago 3 replies      
It seems that there is a digital divide between universities that "get it", and universities that don't. I applaud universities like MIT and Stanford for opening up education for everyone.

Other universities, like NC State and Georgia Tech, give platitudes about equal access to education for all but then fail to deliver. At the end of the day, this is because online education for them is not about equality, but rather, it is about creating a revenue stream for the institution. These institutions will charge thousands of dollars for what is effectively access to pre-recorded videos, with a Teaching Assistant that grades your work to provide that key "certification". If you just want to learn for
the sake or learning, and aren't concerned with having an official credential, you're simply out of luck.

For example, I find NC State's policy simply draconian:

"Accordingly, this policy also relates to the downloading of video lectures for Engineering Online classes. You are allowed to download a lecture and to keep it on your machine until the end of the semester you are enrolled in the class. After this time period, you must delete the downloaded files."

That's the type of contract I expect from the MPAA, not an educational institution. Contrast this with MIT OpenCourseware, which provides lecture notes, exam, and videos without any registration:


So, good job MIT and Stanford. Hopefully other institutions will follow your path.

nkassis 3 days ago 2 replies      
After the first week of the AI and Machine Language class I'm truly impressed. I feel I'll be putting more effort into this than most of my classes in college simply due to the metrics and ease of UI for the in video question. Now they should add achievements like for the ML class, "3 perfect first attempt"... or stuff like that ;p

Also anyone knows of a good online video lecture on Computer graphics? Something with some accompanying material?

ashamedlion 3 days ago 3 replies      
I really respect Stanford's willingness to share content for free. They seem to have let go of the elitist notion of the past wherein content is worth so much to universities. This feels like they actually want people to learn.
dpatru 3 days ago 1 reply      
There are tens of thousands of students taking these courses. There's probably a business opportunity here. How could a startup make money by hiring, say, one hundred of the best Machine Learning graduates?
brackin 3 days ago 0 replies      
This is incredible, all of this makes me think higher of Stanford as an institution. The fact they're both giving all of this away for free and that they're putting so much of it up. I was impressed after the first two but now they're adding more and making finding the courses more structured.

Khanacademy showed alternative education methods, Stanford didn't try and discredit services like this, instead they put many of their courses online too. I'll be going through these courses later.

webspiderus 3 days ago 2 replies      
I'm actually taking the Applied Machine Learning class at Stanford, and I'll be honest - I'm a little disappointed that most of the content is delivered through video instead of lectures. I find it difficult to actually watch through the videos, mostly because there's no easy way for me to skim or jump around the content. I've actually ended up using the notes from the class I took last year (http://cs229.stanford.edu/materials.html) if I need to refresh my memory on the finer points.

Prof. Ng did remark that they decided to switch to videos because they saw dropping attendance rates in the past as students begin to utilize our remote learning solution later in the quarter (i.e. get lazy to go to class), but I wish that there was also a transcribed version of the videos that could be made available for people who prefer learning that way.

drallison 2 days ago 0 replies      
This is not a comprehensive list of Stanford free course offerings. For example, it misses the Stanford EE Computer Systems Colloquium (EE380), http://ee380.stanford.edu. The website has archive of videos going back to Fall 1996.

EE380 is a colloquium not a course, but many of the videos will be of interest to HN readers. In addition to the archived talks, which can be viewed on-demand, it's possible to watch the current (W4:15-5:30 Pacific) in a real time webcast or attend live in person. A significant number of “not students” attend live because there's always something that the camera misses and because you can ask questions.

The talk this week (Oct 19, 2011) is Professor John P. Weyant, MS&E, Stanford speaking on Integrated Assessment of Climate Change: dealing with massive Complexity and Uncertainty.

algorithms 3 days ago 0 replies      
I think these Stanford courses are even superior to the MIT OpenCourseWare ones. The quality of these videos along with the feeling that the teacher is directly speaking to YOU is just impressive.

I also have to say, that I absolutely love the "khan"-Style presentations

natasham25 3 days ago 0 replies      
This is truly incredible. I have been trying to learn how to code, but am having a hard time, mostly because I'm used to the university lecture style. The Stanford Courses are amazing - the provide lectures, handouts, homework assignments, reading assignments. It's just like being in class, and I'm loving it. I have mad respect for Stanford and all the other colleges who are being progressive and opening up their education to everyone.
antimora 2 days ago 0 replies      
Too bad videos dont work in iPad
pixcavator 3 days ago 1 reply      
I'd take a good book over this any day.
karls 3 days ago 0 replies      
truly amazing!

about the stanford ML course (i'm not taking any others) -- i especially like the fact that i can always rewind, re-watch, pause-take notes-play, answer questions during the "lecture" without the embarrassment of getting it wrong the first time, unlike in real lectures. the forums are there in case of questions/problems. the content is presented in a clear and concise manner. and the length of each "lecture" is 10-15 minutes, no need to focus heavily for an hour straight.

for people who have not seen the ted talk by salman khan http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/eng/salman_khan_let_s_use_vide... which, along with increasing number of online courses from prominent universities, suggests that the educational system is changing.

people who are behind this, i salute you.

robyates 2 days ago 0 replies      
I'm actually taking Introduction to Human-Computer Interaction Design with Prof. Klemmer and Design and Analysis of Algorithms with Prof. Roughgarden. Interesting to see the videos of them teaching the exact courses from last year.
Casc 3 days ago 0 replies      
HN now has serious go to links for anyone posting on here asking where to start in any of these subjects. This is extremely helpful, and I'm extremely excited to start. The web applications is the most comprehensive course I've seen.
sumukh1 3 days ago 0 replies      
Seems to be down temporarily:
Fedora Core Test Page
This page is used to test the proper operation of the Apache HTTP server after it has been installed. If you can read this page, it means that the web server installed at this site is working properly, but has not yet been configured.
Fliko 3 days ago 0 replies      
Every release of new free classes from Stanford or MIT just makes me giddy and jealous of everyone that goes there. A lot of extra work goes into these classes and I think it says tons about the awesome ideals that these institution holds, which is very different from the ideals that the education system I have been fighting for over half a year holds.
Nic0 3 days ago 0 replies      
The content seems to have been removed, as it's now a 404 link. Does anyone knows if the content has been place somewhere else, or simply removed (temporary?).
I checked it earlier, it seems to have some nice topics through.
sidconn 3 days ago 1 reply      
Any idea if the database videos can be downloaded, just like the computer science lectures
sundar22in 3 days ago 0 replies      
In order to learn from Ivy leagues, you need not get into one. OCW started by MIT early 2000 is a really good initiative, and I see that Universities which are not open are not good like open source.
JTxt 3 days ago 0 replies      
403 Forbidden

It's down?
I hope it will be back soon.

bomatson 3 days ago 0 replies      
Jackpot. Love all of these open learning programs, especially when supported by universities. Definitely helping me learn RoR!
untitledwiz 3 days ago 0 replies      
Fantastic! This is how education needs to be: open and free.
amnigos 3 days ago 0 replies      
Great for open content, hope all universities adopt this kind of approach.
penetrarthur 3 days ago 0 replies      
Just wow
Signs that you are a bad programmer yacoset.com
426 points by okal  1 day ago   164 comments top 47
edw519 1 day ago 2 replies      
I found the "Alternative careers" hilarious.

My version:

  Your code sucks.
Alternative careers: "Do you want fries with that?"

OP's version:

  1. Inability to determine the order of program execution
Alternative careers: Electrician, Plumber, Architect, Civil engineer

2. Insufficient ability to think abstractly
Alternative careers: Contract negotiator, Method actor

3. Collyer Brothers syndrome
Alternative careers: Antique dealer, Bag lady

4. Dysfunctional sense of causality
Alternative careers: Playing the slot machines in Vegas

5. Indifference to outcomes
Alternative careers: Debt collection, Telemarketing

So the real test of a good programmer is one who can write a routine that crawls the source code of a bad programmer and tells them what they should really be doing.

rickmb 1 day ago 8 replies      
The opposite approach is much simpler. There's only one sign that you are a great programmer:

Clients and fellow programmers are still happy with your work two years after you've delivered it.

(Of course: "still" implies that they we're happy at delivery, which includes actually shipping working software in a timely fashion.)

mcantor 1 day ago 4 replies      
I wish articles like this would namespace their assertions by telling us what they mean by "good" or "bad", so we could avoid the perennial echo chamber debate that goes like this:


God forbid we agree on what words mean before we talk about them...

skrebbel 22 hours ago 3 replies      
What a condescending piece of junk. It serves absolutely no other purpose than to make programmers who do grok everything mentioned feel good about themselves.

Worse yet, programmers who could actually benefit from an article like this (i.e. programmers who shouldn't be programmers) won't understand it. E.g. "(Functional) Creating multiple versions of the same algorithm to handle different types or operators, rather than passing high-level functions to a generic implementation" - a bad programmer won't understand what is meant here, so he will simply skip over it and not get the hint.

Finally, I find the notion that you can't be a good programmer if you've never really used Lisp laughable.

substack 1 day ago 2 replies      
I suspect that people who don't "get" pointers (#4 in the article) actually have a much harder time with the pointer declaration and manipulation syntax in C than actually understanding how pointers work and what they let you do.

For instance, in C the * character is used both to declare a pointer and to dereference one and they can be stacked to dereference nested structures. Then & references a variable memory location but is also used in method signatures to change the semantics of calling a function into pass-by-reference. To complicate & further, & is often seen alongside const declarations, which are a whole other thing that people have to keep in their heads.

On top of all of this, * and & have their own operator precedences and associativities that you have to memorize, which is a whole discussion about binary versus unary operators and precedence tables. And I didn't even mention [].

I really don't think that people fail to comprehend pointers because their mental models need updating nearly as often as they just haven't fully internalized all the hoops that C makes you jump through to mess with pointers.

mcknz 1 day ago 0 replies      
"You're not reading this article."

But seriously, it probably never occurs to bad programmers that they should be finding articles like this.

Perhaps a better title/approach would be "A Bad Programmer Taxonomy, And How You Can Help."

joe_the_user 1 day ago 3 replies      
The problems described by the article are certainly real problems I've seen and seem like an indications of someone who indeed hasn't taken the time to deeply understand the programming process. But the term "bad programmer" and the general attitude of the article seems deeply mean-spirited,

I would rather work with an actual "bad programmer" than with the kind of person who'd spend their time thinking up "alternative careers" for these people.

clawrencewenham 1 day ago 1 reply      
I wrote this years ago to get it out of my system, and after Infogami went to the big web host in the sky I ported it and my other nonsense to Google Sites. The slightly updated version of the same article is now here:


larsberg 1 day ago 1 reply      
Interestingly, his enumerated set in the "Bad Programmer" list is almost exactly what I was grilling for when I asked people to implement stupid algorithms on a whiteboard and then step through them, debug them, etc.

I somewhat disagree with:

> 6. Cannot fathom the Church-Turing Thesis

Truly understanding the Church-Turing thesis probably requires more computability theory than the two-week overview even top CS students and otherwise great programmers get in their ABET-required Discrete Math course. It would be great for more people to have an understanding of what a computable function is and isn't, because it would make it easier to explain why we don't have more fancy-pants type systems around,\footnote{Inference is undecidable for most interesting ones.} but it certainly isn't a requirement for great or even good programmers.

barce 1 day ago 1 reply      
I paused for a bit when I read, "A programmer can't acquire this kind of knowledge without slowing down." It seems that many businesses that rely on programmers are unwilling to give them the time to be better.

I have seen coders with CS degrees from top-tier schools believe that they couldn't code anymore when placed in environments that do not mentor them, that treat them as horses to be run until their backs break.

If you feel this way, take a part-time job and focus on becoming a better coder. If you are a business that does this... no wonder you waste money on recruiters.

jedberg 1 day ago 1 reply      
My first thought was, "wow, infogami is still up?" I guess I left it in a good state. :)
onan_barbarian 15 hours ago 0 replies      
I suspect that #1 sign is that you go trolling for self-assurance in articles like this, or worse, by writing smug, random articles like this.

The best possible signs either way will be in your career so far.

eru 1 day ago 1 reply      
Sounds quite arrogant to me. And didn't get the biggest problem: Not finishing stuff.
jwingy 1 day ago 2 replies      
A lot of these make sense, but I would caution against being discouraged if you show any of these symptoms. Like another front page article that says IQ is not static, I think this also definitely applies to programming ability.

I hope this isn't used by some to push the mantra that 'not everybody can code'.

clu3 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Signs that you are a mediocre programmer

Adding columns to tables for tangential data (eg: putting a "# cars owned" column on your address-book table)

I thought this is actually good for performance in different cases? Why is this considered mediocre?

bauchidgw 1 day ago 1 reply      
my ruleset is much more liberal

signs that you are a good coder: you enjoy coding, you enjoy a good piece of code

signs that you are a bad coder: you don't enjoy coding, you can not appreciate beautiful code

if you enjoy coding it jut doesnt matter if anyone else thinks that your code sucks. you will get better. if you hate your job (programming) then you code stinks and will get worse.

in my careere i went from good to great to bad to i dont code anymore to good

bitops 1 day ago 1 reply      
The OP may be being ironic/sarcastic to a certain degree but I'm always wary of these types of articles.

"You are a bad programmer". How would it make you feel to hear that? Probably not open to further suggestions on how to improve.

While I agree that as programmers we should always strive to be getting better, these types of put-downs and belitting don't foster a culture of communication and trust.

Personally, I'm most receptive to hearing that I could improve when it's coming from someone I trust and respect. If a random person or poster on the Internet sent me this article and rubbed it in my face, I'd probably write them off as a major a-hole. And, I might miss out on a great opportunity to learn.

It reminds me of this post: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=2322696 - I read it and at the time thought it was great. But, sadly, not much has changed and this post is sad evidence of that fact.

njharman 1 day ago 1 reply      
Why is "Performing atomic operations on the elements of a collection within a for or foreach loop" a symptom of mediocre programmer "inability to think in sets"?

How should one do that if your "thinking is sets"?

ducktype 1 day ago 3 replies      
> "Bulldozer code" that gives the appearance of refactoring by breaking out chunks into subroutines, but that are impossible to reuse in another context (very high cohesion)

I feel like this might give people the wrong idea. Surely some amount of cohesion is desirable. Also, I'm not quite sure how one "gives the appearance of refactoring" without actually refactoring. Whether it's useful or not may enter into it, but I would usually consider the breaking out of chunks into subroutines refactoring.

krobertson 1 day ago 1 reply      
Hilarious, but some of the alternative careers I don't agree with. Particularly the first example of order of execution.

If you can't grasp that and decide to be an architect, I wouldn't want to drive on your bridge, work in your building, or live in your home. Same for the options!

yaix 1 day ago 0 replies      
> eg: the "Delete Database" button is next to "Save", just as big, has no confirmation step and no undo

That was common practice all over the Web for over a decade, it only stopped recently (on most sites). [Submit] [Reset] Argh!

fatalerrorx3 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Where does the "gets shit done" programmer fit into all of this though? I'll admit that some of my code is confusing and not always "clean" but it does what it's supposed to do, and I'm able to get more "shit done" when I focus on the end goal vision rather than the cleanliness of my code... which in a prototyping phase of product development is really rather meaningless anyway, since you don't even know yet if there's a market for your product/service offering
sliverstorm 1 day ago 1 reply      
How do I know that list is a little off? Using it as a metric, I am mediocre-to-good, when I know for a fact I haven't yet reached mediocre.

For example, I grokk pointers, but I use them so infrequently I make foolish errors and have to stop and block everything out.

pookiesbutt 1 day ago 2 replies      
"You seriously consider malice to be a reason why the compiler rejects your program"

Of course it's malice.

its_so_on 1 day ago 2 replies      
There is one surefire sign you're a bad programmer: faced with a problem, your reaction is "pshaw, I see how I can solve this..."

Whereas a good programmer has the reaction,
"uh-oh. I see how I can solve this..."
And knows that this is just half the battle, and what he's getting himself into.

xarien 1 day ago 0 replies      
To me, everything in that article can be addressed with a little experience.

My one indicator that someone is going to be a bad programmer actually has little to do with technical skill sets, but rather personality. As my sanity check, I make sure to examine the open-mindedness (willingness to research and use unfamiliar tools) of programmers. More often than not, you find programmers who are very comfortable in given languages, environments, tools etc, but once you take away their comfort blanket, they keep reaching back for it.

An extreme example would be a scenario such that a programmer who knows C very well decides to do a decent amount of parsing in C instead of researching better languages for the job such as python or perl.

Don_Wallace 11 hours ago 0 replies      
This article is mean spirited, too serious and not well written.

Bad programmers I have known generally:

- Are oblivious and clueless. They just lack cleverness.

- They lack problem solving abilities and willingness to solve problems.

- They are usually slow witted.

- They are very conventional-minded - external approval means a lot to them.

- They are willing and ready to work too hard at programming for a result.

- They lack abstract reasoning skills.

And most bad programmers don't like Star Trek or science fiction, but I can't figure out why other than simple correlation with the mindset of a programmer.

The first set of six "real" causes pretty much encapsulate 99% of the mediocrity I've witnessed in industry in this field. Bad programmers usually have two or more of these problems. Even one of them is a serious problem if you are looking for a great developer.

All other badness, such as "meal ticket" thinking, usually radiates outward from these things.

I say this because if you lack the quickness and the desire to seek simple and elegant solutions, the work becomes like drudgery and your work reflects the other deficiencies that the article described.

A specific example: if you care too much what non programmers think (including your managers) and if you are a bit of a toady, you will not take the time to learn what is going on in-depth, and you will look for quick solutions. So it's important to strategically ignore your bosses from time to time and if you are trying to be politically popular, software development isn't a good place for this.

Another example: if you "want" to work very, very hard, you will not seek ways to simplify the code. You will instead cope with growing complexity and spaghetti.

I question the article writer's programmer instincts because he did not figure out a much more efficient and concise way of expressing the same things. Above all else, a real programmer figures out how to say it just once - not repeatedly cast in different ways.

jroseattle 1 day ago 0 replies      
I'm presently repairing a project that violates nearly every one of these principles. Literally, it's like they had a checklist made from this post and went down it to ensure they did everything wrong.
chris_dcosta 1 day ago 0 replies      
I think this stuff comes from someone who has a colleague with these "symptoms", and is either frustrated because they can't educate them into better techniques, or is a subordinate with no power.

In any case it's pretty unforgiving.

I have had a colleague who fits the bill here, but actually I just let them get on with their work and I got on with mine. Sure, it was hard when he delivered something that was excruciatingly poorly conceived and executed and I had the task of taking it to the the next stage. But you know this isn't a life and death business, he was a really nice guy, and I wasn't going to rock the boat. The next project, I was working with someone else and everyone was happy.

Contrast that with making an issue of it, and you might find yourself being labelled as a trouble maker, even if you did have the best intentions for the development.

If you run the show however, don't stand for it, because it's your business, and it calls for the best at all times.

ericdykstra 1 day ago 0 replies      
I don't need an article to tell me I'm a bad programmer.
LeafStorm 13 hours ago 0 replies      
> "Yo-Yo code" that converts a value into a different representation, then converts it back to where it started (eg: converting a decimal into a string and then back into a decimal, or padding a string and then trimming it)

The other day I was at a hack night and some guys were working on something written in Node. They were having all kinds of problems with an object, so they serialized it to JSON and loaded it back, and somehow it magically started working.

VBprogrammer 1 day ago 2 replies      
I think one of the biggest errors a bad programmer makes is seeing 'bad' code everywhere. Sure, some code stinks but just because some code doesn't do something the way you would have done it doesn't make it bad.

If you do have to complain about some piece of code then do so in concrete terms:

- Presense of bugs

- Lack of error handling

- Preformance issues (real ones, that cause real problems)

- Security issues

- Poor robustness

- Redundancy

chegra 21 hours ago 0 replies      
It's easier to fix the technology than to fix the users. I don't think in my wildest dreams I could walk away from a program I created and say the user of said program is bad. I would find a way of fixing it. Programs should serve users, not the other way around. Likewise, Programming Languages should serve Programmers. Clearly, we aren't properly being serviced if programming makes us constantly look bad.
malkia 1 day ago 0 replies      
Whooops... One of the symptoms is:

"(Functional) Manually caching the results of a deterministic function on platforms that do it automatically (such as SQL and Haskell)"

Isn't that what memcached is doing?

rwmj 20 hours ago 1 reply      
I wonder who wrote this article originally? Google finds about 9 identical copies:


Okvivi 1 day ago 2 replies      
A sign that I found missing from the list: you are totally devoted to a particular programming language and believe it's a silver bullet. All good programmers that I know understand that languages are just tools and all have tradeoffs of some sort.
buckwild 1 day ago 0 replies      
I'll admit, when I was a C programmer, I was victim to "Dysfunctional sense of causality."

I remember taking a C class in my undergrad, nailing the code to perfection, and getting an F because I had written the code in under different architecture and compiled with a different compiler (not specified in the prompt by any means). It ran well on my computer (and I proved it), but since it wouldn't run on my professors computer or TAs computer, I still received an F.

So yes, I still maintain strong malice towards C :-)

Void_ 22 hours ago 0 replies      
> (OOP) Writing lots of "xxxxxManager" classes that contain all of the methods for manipulating the fields of objects that have little or no methods of their own

How about writing lots of xxxxController classes that manipulate objects that have little methods of their own.

dustinupdyke 1 day ago 3 replies      
Is it odd that any tense of the word "ship" does not appear in this article?
jgn 1 day ago 0 replies      
I'm a student in the third year of my CS degree and I constantly worry about not being a good programmer. There's things on that list I need to work on.
bbrizzi 19 hours ago 0 replies      
Signs you're a bad writer:

- Your blog post only consisting of lists

- Using only -ing verb forms in your lists

- Not having an introduction in your article

- Not having a conclusion either

- Having only short 2-line paragraphs

- Lack of any style

scubaguy 1 day ago 1 reply      
If you are reading this article, you are not a bad programmer; you are a programmer learning to master your craft.
buff-a 1 day ago 0 replies      
Another sign: not reading this article because you couldn't possibly be a bad programmer and therefor this article can't have anything to offer.
juanfatas 19 hours ago 0 replies      
I think the bad programmer won't see this post as they don't check Hacker News on a daily basis... :P
itsnotvalid 1 day ago 0 replies      
The best part is at the very bottom... if you think it's TL;DR, you could have missed a lot of points.
madrox 1 day ago 0 replies      
There are no bad programmers. Just bad programs.
kno 1 day ago 1 reply      
oh my! I love when you recommend specific career base on specific issues. You made my day! I can't stop laughing. "Bag Lady" seriously looool
TakeThisLollipop - really clever/creepy use of the Facebook API takethislollipop.com
422 points by wesleyzhao  2 days ago   132 comments top 44
slapshot 2 days ago 4 replies      
Looks like it's connected with the ad agency Evolution Bureau ("EVB") (clients: [1]), the same people who did the Office Depot-braded "Elf Yourself" sensation [2].

Why do I think it's EVB? This is the only other site on the same IP as manipulation.com, and manipulation.com is registered clearly to EVB. The agency's creative work is consistent with this project too.

[1] http://evb.com/work/
[2] http://elf.evb-archive.com/

cubix 2 days ago 0 replies      
I saw a Second City improve last winter, and one of the better sketches exploited Facebook similarly, albeit in a more lighthearted and humorous way.

Prior to the performance they would find an audience member's Facebook page using their credit card or mailing address (presumably), and write a sketch based on the details extracted from his or her page.

They incorporated the lucky patron's inevitable reaction into the sketch under the pretense of reprimanding him for disrupting the show. After letting him squirm a bit under the spotlight, the punchline was projecting his Facebook page on the screen across the stage.

0x12 2 days ago 6 replies      
Funny, my hosts file seems to interrupt the flow of this prank slightly.

We'll see how my s.o. reacts to it, but on my machine it does absolutely nothing.

In case you're wondering what is in my hosts file: www.facebook.com facebook.com connect.facebook.net facebook.net fbcdn.net www.fbcdn.net badge.facebook.com blog.facebook.com en-gb.facebook.com developers.facebook.com touch.facebook.com de-de.facebook.com stories.facebook.com it-it.facebook.com hu-hu.facebook.com peace.facebook.com et-ee.facebook.com az-az.facebook.com 0.facebook.com apps.facebook.com

A nice side-effect of this seems to be that the web has become a lot more responsive. No more 'like' buttons popping up all over the place.

edit: regarding my s.o. it's been an interesting morning, this app seems to have opened her eyes to facebook in a different way. No more apps.

lukejduncan 2 days ago 2 replies      
I don't have facebook. Anyone mind writing a tldr?
mindstab 2 days ago 2 replies      
One interesting thing about how this was designed, it for some reason doesn't get your location from your facebook profile. It uses your IP address, which led to hilarious results because while my facebook rightly says where I am, I was using a SOCKS proxy to access this in a different city and when it showed him looking at a map it showed the route to my SOCKS proxy instead of me.
I guess I'm safe and the crazy guy won't kill me :)
driverdan 2 days ago 3 replies      
Why would anyone authorize Facebook access for a random site like this? No privacy policy, no about page, no terms. You have no idea what they're actually doing with your data.
flexd 2 days ago 4 replies      
This actually just freezes for me/nothing happens after I click "Connect with Facebook". Chromium 12.0.742.112 (90304) Ubuntu 10.10.
SecretofMana 2 days ago 0 replies      
For me, this was rendered hilarious by some of the images people have tagged me in on Facebook that don't actually have me in them. Seeing the serial killer erotically stroke a picture of a T-Pain coffee mug is rather amusing.

That being said, is there any way I can be sure besides the disclaimer that this isn't actually saving/using my personal data outside of the video? I guess that's part of the point, that I really can't, though.

Pfiffer 2 days ago 4 replies      
Care to explain for those without Facebook accounts?
toast76 2 days ago 0 replies      
This could be exactly what I need to finally get my wife off Facebook....
stef25 2 days ago 2 replies      
I wonder if it would be possible to for the app to send you an sms (or even call you!) with some creepy "I'm outside, baby" message at the end of the movie.
caryme 2 days ago 0 replies      
It looks like this was made by Jason Zada (https://twitter.com/#!/jasonzada) according to a tweet by the actor (https://twitter.com/#!/billoberstjr/status/12614080094496358...).
steilpass 2 days ago 1 reply      
Revoked access to tons of applications.
VonLipwig 2 days ago 1 reply      
That was amazing. You know its a joke.. but the production value is so high your can't help but be really creeped out by it. I have removed every app which I have signed up to from accessing my Facebook account. I have also bolted my front door.


rane 2 days ago 4 replies      
I gave the guy all those details and pics while authorizing the app!

There's no way too see those things without being my friend.

hiraki9 2 days ago 1 reply      
That was very, very well done.

How did they do video compositing on top of an embedded browser window in Flash?

Perhaps they pre-rendered the webpages server-side using WebKit or some such and sent a screenshot to Flash....

codezero 2 days ago 0 replies      
My guess is that this is an advertisement for LCD monitors... the guy went crazy because he's still using a CRT... poor fella.
runn1ng 2 days ago 2 replies      
What exactly happens after the one hour on the end? Can't afford to wait right now
lzell 1 day ago 0 replies      
Google street view would have been a nice addition too, depending on the accuracy of the geo lookup.
strickjb9 2 days ago 1 reply      
This is a genius idea. I'm sure it will go viral and everyone (including their mother) will give this site a test drive.

I can only assume that it is designed to do one thing - data mine.

paul9290 2 days ago 0 replies      
Here's a similar thing from summer 2010. You and your friends inserted into a horror movie trailer.


robinduckett 2 days ago 0 replies      
It's nice that you can disallow the permissions granularly, for example, I didn't mind it accessing all my data, but posting AS me on facebook? No. Disabled. Happy days.
tomasienrbc 2 days ago 0 replies      
This is a pretty disruptive use of the Facebook API. Personalized entertainment content, I love it!
bteitelb 2 days ago 1 reply      
The production value is very high. FB Open Graph Protocol meta tag found in source:

  <meta property="og:type" content="tv_show"/>

Perhaps it's a viral media stunt to promo a new TV show.

itsnotvalid 2 days ago 0 replies      
If you don't want sites like this to view your stuff, please also set the privacy setting for applications your friends use to a better one. Or else you would be next.

P.S. Since you connect to that application by yourself, that is pretty clear that they can read your friends list, your feed and post as you.

kennywinker 2 days ago 0 replies      
Oooh! Well played. I really want the candy, but I know they're going to do something bad with the information they take from me... I'm still tempted.

Ok, so I did it and now I'm never sleeping again.

Hitchhiker 2 days ago 0 replies      
Brilliant.. could help people think more clearly. Another play on these issues, http://youropenbook.org
jmilloy 2 days ago 2 replies      
I don't think I get it... when I let a facebook app access my facebook, it can... access my facebook and look at my pictures? anyone can look at my pictures, anyways. i'm missing something here
gurraman 2 days ago 0 replies      
A little video that gives you the feeling of this, without the personalization:


Cushman 2 days ago 0 replies      
Mobile Safari: "You need at least Flash Player 10 to view this page."

Apple saves the day again!

alanh 2 days ago 0 replies      
Hilarious that the content & domain name could lend this to being classified, in some filters, as a “shock site” ;)
sebastianhoitz 2 days ago 0 replies      
There was something similar with "Notruf Deutschland": http://www.notruf-deutschland.com/teaser/

They had a similar "approach" :)

Still, very nicely done!

klausjensen 2 days ago 0 replies      
Would seem like the viral success has overloaded the site... I can't get it to play any longer, and it worked an hour ago.
ben_hall 2 days ago 1 reply      
What happens when the countdown gets to zero?
technogeek00 2 days ago 0 replies      
Quality is fantastic, I too am curious as to how they are generating the pages into the movie.
hermannj314 2 days ago 0 replies      
It killed the mood when he searched for ,(null) in Google Maps, but otherwise pretty freaky.
oscardelben 1 day ago 0 replies      
Geoffrey Grosenbach is next. Oops
mikeburrelljr 2 days ago 1 reply      
Amazingly well done... Now, I'm going to cry myself to sleep.
snaveint 2 days ago 1 reply      
That is impressively creepy. Wow. Anyone know the background?
omid 2 days ago 0 replies      
My 64bit flash player 11 on Linux crashes right away!
Axsuul 2 days ago 0 replies      
Doesn't work for me? Do I not have enough info?
chippy 2 days ago 0 replies      
crashes flash
polemic 2 days ago 0 replies      
Keeps cutting out part way through, but VERY well done.
mahen23 2 days ago 0 replies      
Good luck finding me in the middle of the Indian Ocean dork
Bjarne Stroustrup on Dennis Ritchie: They said it couldn't be done, & he did it herbsutter.com
393 points by ColinWright  7 days ago   34 comments top 9
toyg 7 days 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 7 days 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 7 days 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 7 days 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 7 days 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.

dextorious 7 days 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).

evincarofautumn 7 days 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.
pnathan 7 days ago 0 replies      
What a wonderful tribute to a pioneer in our field.
andrewflnr 7 days 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.
RIP, Dennis Ritchie, Father of Unix and C tagxedo.com
387 points by HardyLeung  7 days ago   3 comments top 2
bilalhusain 7 days ago 1 reply      
can i get a t-shirt?
Ubuntu 11.10 Released (Online Tour) ubuntu.com
387 points by mgunes  7 days ago   111 comments top 29
kanwisher 7 days ago 1 reply      
Wow this is one of the cleanest demos of any product i've seen, hats off to the web guys on this they did an amazing job. I only use ubuntu on my servers but this definitely is enticing.
marknutter 7 days ago 1 reply      
It's turtles all the way down http://i.imgur.com/4ba4w.png
selectnull 7 days ago 0 replies      
Awesome demo. I kinda got scared when I saw that I'm logged in with my google account, inside firefox browser inside the demo...

Until I figured it out: it's an iframe. Brilliant for a demo, kudos to the team for the idea and implementation.

Naturally, I'm posting this from inside the demo. :)

sp332 7 days ago 3 replies      
Try opening the Dash (top icon on the left) and you can browse apps. That's a really cool demo!

Edit: You can also read and write (but not send) emails in Thunderbird, and emails you write show up in the "Sent" box.

drivebyacct2 7 days ago 4 replies      
This seems like a lot of effort for something that will be unnecessary and unused in a month. I mean, it's cool, but they already have infrastructure for "demoing" remote apps, they could have demo remote instances with websocketed/vnc (noVNC, very cool).
nl 7 days ago 3 replies      
Did anyone else notice that the webbrowser in the tour works? You can enter new urls, click around - even form submission works.
jstepien 7 days ago 0 replies      
Initially I though that they're using Broadway, the GTK3's HTML5 canvas backend [1]. But no, it's all done with CSS3. That's impressive.

[1] http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=1935499

kraemate 7 days ago 1 reply      
Earlier, i would actively anticipate new ubuntu releases.
These days, its replaced by dreading what parts they have completely broken this time.
va_coder 7 days ago 2 replies      
An OEM laptop with 8 hours of battery life please
vacri 7 days ago 0 replies      
Very clever idea. Couple of spelling mistakes in Ubuntu One, but pretty slick otherwise.
usaar333 7 days ago 2 replies      
Kubuntu user here. I'm a bit confused on how the left bar in this tour of unity works. I see that if I click home folder, the file manager opens up. However, if the file manager is already opened, clicking home just switches to file manager (even if it is not in the home folder!). So, how do I actually launch multiple instances of a program?
s00pcan 6 days ago 0 replies      
Anyone know how to get the old alt-tab behavior back? This is the biggest problem for me since upgrading. I generally move between workspaces often and used alt-tab to access only programs on that workspace.
reinhardt 7 days ago 0 replies      
I'm still on the LTS but would like to give it a spin to a separate partition. Any idea if it can be installed with Lubi or other no-cd/usb method?
kin 7 days ago 3 replies      
Wow I haven't looked at Ubuntu since Gutsy. This demo certainly makes me want to give it a whirl again. Before I spend hours playing with it, can anyone clue me in on its media performance (playing flash videos, dual screen, music software, etc.)
teja1990 7 days ago 0 replies      
Awesome demo. Best things are the Office and Apps :)
forgottenpaswrd 7 days ago 1 reply      
It seems they fast prototyped unity using web.

There are two things that I can't stand about it on a real laptop:

1)When you maximize files folders, and it seems it is default, the desktop icons occlude the links on the file browser, and is SO UGLY.

2)My laptop hangs when I try to restore compiz with --restore. I really miss the 3d cube.

So I'm downloading fedora or anything that makes it usable again.

oscarleung 7 days ago 0 replies      
Looking great! But unfortunately the unity framework is still no good. And no customization - that's not in the spirit of linux
liljimmytables 6 days ago 0 replies      
It looks great! One word of warning is that quite a lot of bugs in each Ubuntu release get fixed in the first month. If you're patient, you can sidestep a lot of stabilisation issues that might not have been found in the RCs.

But in a month's time, this is definitely going on my lappy.

swah 7 days ago 1 reply      
Still the gamers theme, though :(
minikomi 6 days ago 0 replies      
Wow. Hiding the re-size icons on full screen really threw me off. Otherwise looks fantastic.
henryksarat 7 days ago 0 replies      
Wow props to the team.
jasim 7 days ago 0 replies      
This demo is also another indicator that HTML5 has come of age. It is by far the best desktop-like interface I've seen on the browser.
va_coder 7 days ago 2 replies      
Does Ubuntu One still suck?
nodata 7 days ago 3 replies      
The tour doesn't really fit on my 1366x768 screen (running Firefox 7). Not a good first impression.
v1nce 7 days ago 0 replies      
this is one of the coolest demo's i've seen. congrats.
rookiejet22 7 days ago 3 replies      
IMO Ubuntu is poised to make a serious dent in the desktop market share. Maybe next year is finally going to be the year of the Linux desktop :).
sebastianavina 7 days ago 1 reply      
I almost orgasmed when I saw open office load.
lukejduncan 7 days ago 2 replies      
Looks a lot like Windows 7
The last time I saw Steve Jobs pluckytree.org
383 points by stevenleeg  8 days ago   44 comments top 11
nirvana 8 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 8 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 8 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 7 days 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?
watmough 8 days ago 2 replies      
The man seems to be an infinite source of eye-moistening stories.

Really nice, thanks.

_THE_PLAGUE 8 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.
philwelch 6 days 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.

teja1990 7 days 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 7 days 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 8 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 7 days 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.

Dropbox: The Inside Story Of Tech's Hottest Startup forbes.com
373 points by blurpin  2 days ago   101 comments top 24
pg 2 days ago 2 replies      
Drew's case shows how hard it is to generalize. We're generally reluctant to fund single founders. And yet the most successful startup we've funded had a single founder at the time he applied:


We strongly encouraged Drew to get a cofounder, and he found Arash before the summer 2007 cycle began. Arash turned out to be the perfect cofounder. So Dropbox is pretty much the best case scenario for a single founder applying to YC. And the variation in startup outcomes is so great that even though we have such a large data set, the best single founder outcome is so far better than any of the multiple founder outcomes.

This is why one of our rules is that we'll break any of our rules.

luigi 2 days ago 5 replies      
Then come Chris, Jason and Joe (who has a Dropbox tattoo on his arm because he feels “Drew is changing the world”), more MIT brothers aiming to live a California dream they all imagined back in Cambridge as “billionaires, bottles and babes.”

Eww, that's offputting.

dr_ 2 days ago 4 replies      
Jobs never changed his interpretation of things. He did in fact feel cloud storage was a feature and not a product, and that's exactly what iCloud is. For Apple it's a feature that will hopefully tie people in to their iOS devices. And with the likelihood that over time they will offer greater amounts of storage for free or a minimum payment, that's not good for Dropbox.
I like Dropbox, I use it almost daily. But so far I've never actually paid for it. Same, so far, with iCloud. To Apple, this would be largely irrelevant, but for Dropbox, that's not so great.
JacobAldridge 2 days ago 1 reply      
"Ferdowsi from the start insisted Dropbox's home page be a simple stick-figure video showing what the product does. No table of features and pricing; instead, a story about a guy who loses stuff and goes on a trip to Africa."

This made me realise I'd never been to the Dropbox homepage. I heard about the company here on HN (Drew's YC Application form is a great read), and I didn't have a need at that time - about 6 months later I took on a global project and one of the first emails I got from the client was asking me to sign up for Dropbox so we could collaborate.

As the article notes, that word of mouth (I've passed it on numerous times since) has driven growth, perhaps more than the homepage. After all - it just works.

physcab 2 days ago 0 replies      
While I love Dropbox and have it installed, I think they are right to fear ICloud. After getting a 4s and being able to simply type my AppleID, I instantly had all my contacts, videos, photos, music, settings, and bookmarks instantly and seamlessly synced. Best part of it all was that I didn't even know I was using ICloud. I didn't have to setup or download anything. It was so simple. Since I'm a mac user, I really don't have much use for Dropbox anymore.
simplekoala 2 days ago 3 replies      
"Jobs had been tracking a young software developer named Drew Houston, who blasted his way onto Apple's radar screen when he reverse-engineered Apple's file system so that his startup's logo, an unfolding box, appeared elegantly tucked inside. Not even an Apple SWAT team had been able to do that."

Can anyone throw more context around this hack. Technical challenges to accomplish this will be bonus.

gr366 2 days ago 5 replies      
Does Forbes.com have a print URL? I couldn't find one (did find a print.css which does almost nothing to optimize for printing), and I'd rather not encourage their splitting the article onto 4 separate pages by clicking through.
keithpeter 2 days ago 3 replies      
2 gig free, next step up is 50Gb. Anyone else find the big jump means they use the dropbox just for day to day projects? A 10 or 20 Gig price point at $5 a month would be something I could rationally use.
staunch 2 days ago 0 replies      
Been amazing watching the entire process, from YC hopeful to Forbes cover. Way to go Drew.
DodgyEggplant 2 days ago 2 replies      
How many people would sit in front of Steve Jobs, refuse to a hundreds of millions acquisition offer, just before Apple enters their market.
You got to admire Houston. He might reach the moon.
joejohnson 2 days ago 0 replies      
I really like Dropbox. I wish they were actually encrypting users' data in a manner like they originally advertised they were. This is my only concern with using their service.

I understand that they wish to save space with deduplication and that this requires them to look at your files a fair bit prior to encryption. I just prefer they let users opt into using their own private keys.

rdp 2 days ago 1 reply      
My biggest issue with Dropbox, and I am probably not alone in this, is still security. After the lapses earlier in the year, I still store most files in a TrueCrypt share in my DropBox folders. Since I can't access the TrueCrypt volume from my phone or other mobile devices, it limits the portability of the data.
marcamillion 2 days ago 0 replies      
$240M Revenue? Holy CRAP!

As I predicted some time ago - http://marcgayle.com/how-dropbox-is-printing-money - I am pretty sure that once Dropbox reveals their profit margins, the world will be stunned.

Mark. My. Words.

algoshift 1 day ago 0 replies      
I think context is important here. I don't think I am wrong in saying that most YC startups consist of 20-somethings, perhaps even in their low 20's. At this age few are truly prepared for the stress, conflict and issues that running a business could bring to the table. And, in this context, it is probably far better to have more founders rather than less.

I've been an entrepreneur ever since I can remember. And, retrospectively, I know that I did a lot of dumb things when I was younger. It takes a while to develop the business smarts, thick skin and, if you will, intestinal fortitude a business requires. I've experienced business issues as I got older that I know would have totally decimated me when I was younger. You are simply not prepared for that sort of thing. Particularly things like impending catastrophic failure, when you need to be mentally and emotionally in your strongest mode.

Barely-out-of-teenage-years entrepreneurs (not meant with disrespect at all, just chronological fact) need a support system in order to stay the course, learn and not derail. That's why I think that in these cases the multiple founder "rule" is probably a very good idea.

I would say that older solo founders with previous skin in the game are probably a good bet (all else being equal). One young founder thrown into the jungle that business can become is probably a formula for almost certain failure.

While, of course, there are always exceptions to every rule, I do think that what I am saying is a reasonable characterization of the problem.

esalazar 2 days ago 0 replies      
I use dropbox everyday for work and my personal life. I have two problems with dropbox though.
1. There is no paid plan between the free 2 gb account and the $100 50 gb account. A nice 10 or 25 gb account would be great. It is hard for me to justify spending the 100 a year when I don't need all that space.
2. There has not been a huge change in dropbox since it's inception. I find myself using it less and less, since it is so easy to share documents with google docs.
skadamat 1 day ago 0 replies      
Inspirational story, thanks for that Forbes. I wish I had started programming from an earlier age (I only started 4-5 years ago, I'm a junior at UT Austin) but Drew is still an idol for me for both his crazy development skills and entrepreneurial talent. I use Dropbox on a daily basis and definitely laude him for seeing the idea through and not selling it to a big fish.
kwamenum86 2 days ago 0 replies      
I think one lesson of the Dropbox story is that you can build a company around a feature of minimal product if you have a savvy team and crisp execution.
hosh 2 days ago 0 replies      
This story sounds like the story of Audion, SoundJam, and iTunes nearly 10 years ago:


rottendoubt 1 day ago 0 replies      
Just curious if Dropbox had a MVP? If so, what was it? Was it ready and launched by Demo Day? Was it a purely free model, or were they already going with the freemium model at launch?
hosh 2 days ago 1 reply      
I don't closely follow the changes to Apple developer APIs, so this may be blindingly obvious to others but not to me. Does anyone know if Apple is providing iCloud APIs for iOS/OSX?

I suppose, something similar to the file/db libraries, only these would go let you persist files and settings to iCloud (similar to Valve's SteamCloud for games).

billtx 2 days ago 1 reply      
Dropbox is written is Python correct? Would it be faster/more efficient/smaller footprint if it was written in C++?

I just have this (likely) wrong perception about Python from the original BitTorrent vs uTorrent.

MikeGrace 2 days ago 0 replies      
See a need, fill a need. Love it!
blurpin 2 days ago 0 replies      
Press release (and TC) says 45+ million users. Forbes says 50 million. I think 50mm is more like it.
mike55 2 days ago 0 replies      
Sorry, I don't read articles divided in pages. Fuck you Forbes.
Serving at the Pleasure of the King codinghorror.com
372 points by tmcdonald  5 days ago   124 comments top 26
cstross 5 days ago  replies      
If Microsoft added a feature to Windows that duplicated a popular application's functionality, developers would be screaming bloody murder and rioting in the, er, blogs and web forums

Utter rot.

This used to happen all the time in the 1980s and 1990s, before the DoJ anti trust lawsuit really got rolling.

It was most obvious in office apps (ever wonder where the third-party spelling checkers and grammar checkers went? Or the standalone mailmerge applications? Microsoft added their functionality to Word and killed an entire add-on market at a stroke each time they did so), but a load of that stuff happened in Windows too (the graphical shell that became an OS in its own right). The most flagrant late example was web browsing; the most recent one I can think of (not being a Windows user) was their antivirus/malware add-in.

(Honestly ... young 'uns these days ... wanders away mumbling into beard and waving walking stick in the air.)

raganwald 5 days ago 1 reply      
Did I really just read Jeff complaining that Apple shipped something that duplicates third-party behavior and compare them unfavorably to Microsoft in that regard?

I won't excuse Apple for acting like a King, but I think Jeff should find another poster boy for benevolent dictators. Microsoft is famous for steamrolling third-party developers, both from their applications group and their systems group.

I think this rant would read better if it complained about ALL proprietary platforms and used Apple as an example, rather than disingenuously implying that they are the rotten fruit in the barrel.

p.s. Joel Spolsky once said that companies always try to "Commoditize their complements." If you as a developer can create something that adds value to the platform in a broad way, it's inevitable that the platform owner is going to want to commoditize it, either by giving it away or making it easy for your competition to drive prices down to negligible levels.

Building it into the platform is the ultimate commoditization.

DanielBMarkham 5 days ago 0 replies      
It's tragically ironic that the very thing Microsoft would have been very happy to do -- lock down windows and control all apps on it -- is what is taken for normality everywhere else but windows.

I'm not trying to defend Microsoft. It's all too clear they have been very anti-competitive. But if windows had the controls on it that apps on iOS had we'd be hearing folks call for criminal prosecutions.

I understand the gee whiz factor of Apple. I own a bunch of Apple stuff and I love their design. I also understand that if you don't control your garden, all kinds of weeds grow in there. But geesh, folks, Jeff is correct. Perhaps this is the best future we could hope for, but it is an extremely sub-optimal destination compared to where we thought we were going.

sjs 5 days ago 0 replies      
What a long winded, and hyperbolic, story of doom.

Marco needs to get over his fears[1] and store the offline data in Documents. It is user generated and is absolutely not transient nor re-downloadable given that a core feature of Instapaper is offline reading.

Apple will get a deluge of bug reports and questions from all app devs that make apps that need to cache content for offline use - but not back it up or store it in iCloud - and will rectify the situation in some way. (I don't think Instapaper is in that camp but that's kind of beside the point.)

I know that most people hold Apple to a higher standard than many other companies but let's not forget Hanlon's Razor: "Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity." This is merely an oversight. Apple is never this hostile to the user experience, and the current guidelines make for a positively horrid user experience. It will be rectified. Is there a short-bets website? I'll make that bet any day.

[1] I think he was correct not to take chances in getting the first iOS 5 version out, but I hope that the minute it was "Processing for App Store" he had a build ready for submission that stores content in Documents to feel out the review team's reaction to it.

programminggeek 5 days ago 3 replies      
He's right and certainly more levelheaded about these kinds of issues than most, but what most don't realize is that many of the software platforms we love have had worse policies for years. Nintendo, Sony, Microsoft, and Sega all have/had extremely rigorous review process that was even worse than Apple's if you want to be on their game platform. Phone companies had all these build processes if you wanted to write Java ME apps to work on feature phones. And so on and so forth.

The problem is, as devs we are spoiled by the web, where you can just push out new code that says or does whatever you want it to without any consequence because the web is a "relatively" safe runtime, so nobody cares.

We are like children who grew up with a silver spoon in our mouth and we've been asked to endure plastic. Sure, it's still a spoon, but it's not silver and that pisses us off.

nirvana 5 days ago 7 replies      
It strikes me that this is exactly the position every web developer has with google.

Google can arbitrarily and capriciously exclude them from their index. When google excludes you from the index, there is no appeal, there is no explanation, and, unlike Apple, google will not publish a set of (reliable) rules. (It gives a lot of advice but is inconsistent.)

Also, like Apple, if you are not able to get in the big leagues for distribution, you can distribute your product thru other, less popular channels that are more of a hassle.

Unlike Apple, however, which give you explicit feedback on the feature that was the problem (with screenshots if needed) and always cites chapter and verse from the handbook for the exclusion, google will not tell you why, or give you any way to resolve it.

With Apple, you can resolve the issue and resubmit it. Your app will be on the store in about 7 days. With google, even if you figure out what the problem is, and you resolve it, you have no way of knowing if you'll ever be let back into the index.

nickpp 5 days ago 0 replies      
That post rings true. But then it is true about every single platform provider and 3rd party external dependencies on the market: Windows, Mac OS X, iOS, Facebook, Twitter

Even big apps will eventually include features initially provided by plugins. See Photoshop or Jira.

Not to mention the strategy of web giants like Google who will purchase existing successful commercial companies and the offer their product for free, thus crippling entire markets. See Google Analytics, Earth and Sketchup.

Vivtek 5 days ago 2 replies      
1. Windows has always done this. Occasionally people complain; usually they don't. Honestly, I normally consider it a good thing - the Windows functionality is usually bland and relatively feature-free, but works perfectly. There was a time when TCP/IP support was a purchased add-on, after all. I think we all agree that's better to have built in from the get-go and consistent on every aged uncle's machine we're asked to fix on Thanksgiving.

2. The cleanup feature doesn't really support his point. If I store data on my phone and the phone deletes it all without warning when it thinks I have too much, that's not protecting me at the expense of the app developer - that's just plain screwing me and the developer at the same time. Honestly, I find it incomprehensible that any professional could possibly have considered it a good idea, and I think it's indicative of Apple's manic secrecy that it wasn't headed off early instead of being ignored until release.

I know Apple's doing really well in the market lately - by innovating quicker than anybody else, which has been fantastic for everyone. But in the long run, this arrogance is not going to be good for them. It shot them in the foot for two decades with the Mac, and it's going to bite them now.

AndrewDucker 5 days ago 1 reply      
This is one of the reasons that I hope Metro apps crash and burn - if the only way to get hold of them is through the MS store, with all the same issues that the Apple store has, then I just don't want anything to do with them.

I know that the Android equivalent has problems (piracy, for instance), but I'd rather have that than something completely locked down.

earl 5 days ago 1 reply      
I love that the iphone and ipad are locked down. I gave ipads to family members and I'm finally done with tech support. My parents, girlfriend, and brother were bit by endless amounts of spyware, spam, and trojans because they used windows. I had to reinstall windows on my gf's laptop 3 times because adobe are useless worthless fuckwits who fill flash and pdf with security holes and her computer was repeatedly infected. Every time I went to my parents house I had to clean endless amounts of crap off their computer. My brother's laptop was infected with a virus that tried to get into bank accounts. He owns a pair of pizza stores and does his accounting on his laptop, and he accesses bank accounts with significant funds in them. Using ios fixed all the above.

While in theory it's nice that people can run any application they wish, in practice, it sucks. People end up having to be experts on computer security. As a group of computer professionals we've pounded on this for twenty years and it simply isn't fucking working. If telling people to be careful what programs they run or what websites they visit worked, it would have worked long ago.

Instead, I give them ipads for casual browsing and they're finally secure. My parents don't need my help to get pictures off their camera. There finally is a way for non experts to securely use the internet and applications -- just buy stuff from the app store. It won't spam you, it won't steal information, it won't install spyware, and it will most likely do what it claims to do. If not being able to run arbitrary apps is the price we pay... well, we tried doing it the other way for 20+ years and it didn't work.

mechanical_fish 5 days ago 0 replies      
Did Apple really once provide a direct link to Instapaper as the inspiration for their new built-in features?

If so, did they actually ask Marco before they took that link out?

If so, did Marco ask them to take it out?

And, if he did - which, having heard Marco speak on this topic, I do not assume, but merely suppose - was that the right call?

My understanding was that an App Store developer might kill for that kind of free publicity. Could it be, for example, that Apple stopped linking Instapaper so as to avoid playing favorites? Might one of Instapaper's competitors have complained about that link?

dsr_ 5 days ago 2 replies      
Even ordinary users are beginning to understand this. My sister was upset at Amazon because the Kindle app on her iPod would not let her buy books directly. After she found out that Apple was demanding a 30% cut of those sales, she changed her mind. Now she's unhappy with Apple.

I understand the impulse to look at however many millions of IOS devices and to immediately want to get into that market, but the long tail is not a comfortable place to be in a land of 99c standard prices. Having an arbitrary and capricious landlord makes it worse.

michaelfeathers 5 days ago 0 replies      
About a year ago, someone asked me why I don't write apps for the AppStore. I told them I have too much self-respect.
Androsynth 5 days ago 1 reply      
So Apple pushed out it's browser sync feature at the same time it pushed out the cleanup feature which effectively broke the competition? How Microsoftesque.
praptak 4 days ago 1 reply      
It is just the most recent (I wanted to write last, but I'm sure it is not the last) of many similar stories and articles, which can be summed up as "Do not be a sharecropper." Some previous ones:


0x12 5 days ago 0 replies      
When you are developing for a platform that is active on multiple layers (say, both OS, GUI or APP) then you are essentially validating the market for whatever you come up with. You have to calculate that in, if you are successful you will have competition, and if you are very successful the entity controlling the market will re-implement what you have already proven works.

If you develop something that is just an 'add on' or a missing feature you are setting yourself up for eventual trouble.

Such products have a life cycle and you can't reasonably expect the situation to continue unchanging forever.

dos1 5 days ago 0 replies      
These are the exact reasons that I decided to quit developing for iOS. I loved the APIs, I enjoyed the platform and access to millions of users. In the end though, I just wasn't willing to bend the knee.
adabsurdo 5 days ago 2 replies      
I think the Apple app store policies is the bigger problem, because Apple is using it to control not just quality, but content, and forcing applications to use its payment gateway; which in itself, wouldn't much of a problem if they didn't take this gigantic 30% cut (10x more than other payment gateways), and prevented you from knowing your customer.

This is truely unprecendented. Microsoft could screw you by cloning your app, but they never blocked third-party applications, nor tried to be the commerce gateway to the internet.

If Apple succeeds in making webapps obsolete, and competition cannot be strong enough to force it to be fairer and more reasonable in its app store policy, than to me an ipad/iphone app world sounds like a regression from the webapp world.

And this is why I never understand why so many Apple users want Android & Windows to fail. As a customer, you should want other platforms to be succesful, so that we don't end up again with a monopolistic platform that screws us all. Didn't we try this before??

ugh 5 days ago 1 reply      
So Apple can never ever implement bookmark sync in their browser? Because that's what they did and there is nothing whatsoever wrong with that. It's a minor obvious feature, not some big complicated thing.

You know what I also don't understand? What this has to do with the big open vs. closed debate. Apple implemented a new feature in their own browser. Google can just as well implement the exactly same feature in their browser. Open vs. closed doesn't figure into this. At all.

That whole cleaning behavior of iOS debate is just stupid. Apple screwed up. So what.

nestlequ1k 5 days ago 0 replies      
Funny how Android Instapaper (a 3rd party app) is infinitely better than the iPhone version (the official version) since it plugs right into the browser.
jp_sc 5 days ago 0 replies      
I guess Jeff doesn't remembers "After Dark" anymore.
DodgyEggplant 5 days ago 0 replies      
He is a bit unfair. Good platforms vendors paved the way for everybody. And they ALWAYS do it THEIR WAY (ask Netscape, Novel and Real).
One can argue that Instapaper is actually a missing browser feature.

But Apple is pushing the envelope: they are the first platform to break the "specific device limit".
Android competes on phones, Windows on the desktop, Amazon with content, Samsung on hardware.
But Apple is everywhere. And they are not the underdog anymore. This is Tim's Cook real challenge, and we wish him luck.

ethank 5 days ago 0 replies      
Reading List doesn't have an API, so for the moment it doesn't come close to what instapaper provides in terms of instapaper and third party apps.
andrewcooke 5 days ago 2 replies      
the final image is wonderful. where did you get it from?
dbkbali 5 days ago 0 replies      
I think some good ant-trust regulatory lawyers would have a field day with this. But one would have to have deep enough pockets to pay the legal bills!
mikerg87 5 days ago 1 reply      
Nobody has a monopoly on ideas.
Faster-Than-Light Neutrino Puzzle Claimed Solved by Special Relativity technologyreview.com
357 points by dhimes  6 days ago   108 comments top 12
DanielBMarkham 6 days 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 6 days 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 6 days 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 6 days 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.
zb 5 days ago 0 replies      
This paper: http://tycho.usno.navy.mil/ptti/1996/Vol%2028_16.pdf
states that "the time rate is appropriate to observers on the surface of the rotating earth, that is, in the ECEF". I'm interpreting that to mean that the issue raised in the OP is not correct, but I am by no means an expert in relativity.

Interestingly, the paper also states ('Missing Relativity Terms?', pp. 195-197) that there has been confusion in the past caused by people thinking the time is measured in the ECI frame. It shows that the uncorrected-for relativistic effects have an error on the order of only 2-3mm for a stationary observer on the earth's surface (the same is not true for e.g. other satellites). 'In short, there are no "missing relativity terms."'

jasondavies 6 days ago 1 reply      
Link to arXiv paper: http://arxiv.org/abs/1110.2685
daimyoyo 6 days 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 6 days 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 6 days ago 1 reply      
Why don't they have synchronized atomic clocks on the ground?
martinkallstrom 6 days 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.
macaroni 6 days 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?)?
crizCraig 6 days ago 0 replies      
What's the general consensus on whether or not this was actually debunked?
Introducing Instapaper 4.0 for iPad and iPhone marco.org
356 points by illdave  3 days ago   93 comments top 20
sudonim 3 days ago  replies      
It's great to see a one man show like Instapaper doing so well. His space is becoming more crowded yet Marco's focus and drive means Instapaper keeps delivering more and more value. The changes in 4.0 look great.

Kudos Marco. You're an inspiration to solo founders (and anyone) looking to start something online. P.s. check out Marco's show with Dan Benjamin, Build and Analyze. I've been listening while I walk to work. It's interesting and insightful.

ugh 3 days ago 0 replies      
This is a brilliant example showing what great visual design and typography can do for an app. I never liked using Instapaper because I thought it looked so ugly. Now it's on par with the likes of Reeder and Twitter and I'm much more likely to use it.

I'm not sure how many people think like me but I just can't stand using software I think is ugly. It's no fun for me.

(That said, I think the actual user experience has also improved " which is equally as important.)

joebadmo 3 days ago 2 replies      
tl;dr Instapaper is great for iOS. A Kindle + Readability's Send to Kindle bookmarklet is an excellent alternative.

I was an avid Instapaper user on my iPod Touch until I got an Android phone. Marco has publicly stated his reluctance to support Android, and the third party apps for instapaper were all pretty pathetic. So I switched to Read it Later for a while.

Until I got a Kindle, which changed the game for me. Reading on the Kindle is so much a better experience than on another glowing screen that I don't even bother to try to read long form on the phone anymore.

I went back to Instapaper for a while, using a Windows app called Wordcycler to sync, but now use Readability's Send to Kindle bookmarklet. It cuts out the syncing part (the Kindle just downloads content automatically when it has an internet connection), and I've found that it retains author and publication data more reliably.

achompas 3 days ago 2 replies      
I've got a question for my fellow long-form-reading HNers.

I check my phone for quick hits of information, but I hate reading long-form articles on it. Do you guys know of any "Send to Kindle" apps or bookmarklets for iPhone/iOS?

I know, I know: this is a hell of a first-world problem, but I'd like to read on glowing screens as little as possible.

luigi 3 days ago 1 reply      
I've switched to Spool:


Both text and video. First-class Android and iPhone support. Alas, no iPad support, but I don't use that much anymore.

jrnkntl 3 days ago 2 replies      
Great update Marco! Did you work with a (graphic/interaction) designer on this update or did you do it all and maybe threw in some stock icons along the way?
pflats 3 days ago 1 reply      
The way this version handles footnotes[1] looks absolutely outstanding. More e-reading software should have a pop-over like this. I'd pay way more than $5 to get this feature on my Kindle.

[1] http://www.marco.org/media/2011/10/ip4-footnote.png

Also, a footnote of my own on the search subscription: Marco's talked a bit on his podcast about people wanting to subscribe to Instapaper via in-app purcase rather than through PayPal. However, Apple won't let you have an in-app purchase that doesn't add any functionality. Putting 2 and 2 together gives you a "search subscription" that is identical to a normal Instapaper subscription.

naner 3 days ago 1 reply      
Seeing those images side-by-side, the matte black with simple icons on the iPad looks clean and appealing and the glossy beveled borders on the iPhone look a bit garish. Also the type for the iPad interface is much more pleasing.

I don't think I would have noticed if they images weren't right next to each other.

devtesla 3 days ago 0 replies      
The bad news: a change in how iOS manages files in version 5 means Instapaper's ability to store articles for you to read offline has reached something of a limit. If you get low on space iOS will now delete Instapaper's copies of articles:


This is less of a problem if you are online all the time as Instapaper will redownload them, but it still kinda sucks.

coob 3 days ago 1 reply      
This is great, looking forward to installing it. However looking at the screenshots I can't help but wonder if something other than an ellipsis would be better for indicating footnotes, especially now the voice dictation in iOS has commandeered it.
goforth 3 days ago 1 reply      
Do you still have to fetch the full page view before sending to Instapaper? That's the one thing that annoys me about this app/service. Readability does it all for you. I hate getting to the end of a piece in Instapaper and realizing there are more pages, but they weren't downloaded.
avolcano 3 days ago 1 reply      
While I love Instapaper for bringing me back to reading long-form articles, I personally moved to Readability a while back. It's $5 (minimum)/month, but it has a lot more polish, and I actually prefer the mobile app to Instapaper's iOS ones - it's nice knowing if I decide to leave the iOS ecosystem, I'll still have my articles, while Marco has refused to make official Instapaper clients for other mobile OS's (understandable, as he's only one man). I also like a handful of features in Readability's desktop web app that Instapaper lacks - scroll tracking, more options for how it looks, etc.

However, if I get an iPad, I may move back just for Instapaper's iPad app. Looks beautiful.

yesimahuman 3 days ago 3 replies      
Of course, it looks beautiful, and I really want it.
Is there any solution for Android? I've messed with some of the 3rd party apps but I haven't had any success.
john2x 2 days ago 0 replies      
I have an iPod touch and even though Safari now has a similar feature for free, I still want Instapaper. Because I use Chrome everywhere else.
tomjen3 3 days ago 1 reply      
Do this mean I can no longer move articles to the archive with one click?

It may sound a little trivial but I tend to remove the articles when I have read them and it gets annoying when I have to remove 15 (I tend to add a lot of articles).

stuartmemo 2 days ago 0 replies      
I kinda feel like I'm stuck using Instapaper regardless of how good it is. I use the official Twitter iOS app, which only has Instapaper or Read It Later support, meaning there's no way I can fully jump to the likes of Spool if I wanted to.
timkeller 3 days ago 0 replies      
Fantastic update, as always. There aren't many developers who'd continue updating a $4.99 app this long... not to mention that its a universal app!
nickburlett 2 days ago 0 replies      
Is there a way to get the old list view back when using the iPad? I prefer the old view!
james33 3 days ago 0 replies      
Just another reason why I need to hurry and get an iPad, that app looks incredible!
wtn 3 days ago 0 replies      
Only took four major releases to get proper text encoding support.
250x Speed Improvements with Microcaching (and No New Code) fennb.com
341 points by taybenlor  7 days ago   73 comments top 19
patio11 7 days 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.)
wheels 7 days 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.

nirvana 7 days ago 7 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.

jbyers 7 days 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 6 days 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 7 days 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?

simonw 6 days 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 7 days ago 1 reply      
This seems pretty similar to using Varnish or Squid as a reverse proxy (though likely easier to setup).
jbarham 6 days 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!

todsul 6 days 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

eli 6 days 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.
brown9-2 7 days 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 6 days 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.

crikli 7 days 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 6 days 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 7 days ago 2 replies      
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.
dangrossman 7 days 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?
bbrizzi 6 days ago 0 replies      
Anyone know of an equivalent in Apache?
rymedia 7 days ago 0 replies      
Very impressive.
Inserting Artificial Objects into Photographs cgchannel.com
332 points by ThomPete  3 days ago   41 comments top 11
jxcole 3 days ago 0 replies      
Read the linked paper, it's actually very good. It looks like they used good science in testing this:

"From our study, we conclude that both our method and the light probe method are highly realistic, but that users can tell a real image apart from a synthetic image with probability higher than chance. However, even though users had no time restrictions, they still could not differentiate real images from both our method and the light probe method reliably."

sp332 3 days ago 0 replies      
This is a great example of using humans for what humans are good at (interpreting photographs) and computers for what computers are good at (lots of light modelling).
nhebb 3 days ago 3 replies      
Very realistic. My first thought was that if this can be done without leaving detectable artifacts, then it will inevitably impact the admissibility of photographs as evidence in trials.
Stasyan 3 days ago 2 replies      
Funny thing is that this was posted 3 days ago :

and it only got 5 points

And the link was to the page of one of the guys who did research.


rmc 3 days ago 4 replies      
Can we please not use OTT descriptions like "Mind-Blowing". It sounds a bit... tabloid-y
spydum 3 days ago 0 replies      
pretty cool... i can see this being used as a pretty slick "try before you buy" feature for an online furniture/home goods store.
rbanffy 3 days ago 1 reply      
I love the extensive use of teapots. On a previous life, I had one (a physical one) on my desk.
defdac 3 days ago 0 replies      
I see they use Luxrender. Any one dares to take a guess at what algorithm they used? The animations seems noise free so I guess particle/photon mapping? IGI perhaps?
TechnoFou 3 days ago 1 reply      
That is very impressive. I used to do a lot of photorealistic modelling using mental ray or vray in 3ds max, andt he level of precision of this is quite frankly extraordinary. This could very be a game changer in the 3D industry.
vsl2 3 days ago 1 reply      
As technology progresses, it seems like only a matter of time before all photos and videos can be perfectly modified to suit whatever purpose. At some point, perhaps movie stars will do no more than lend their likeness (airbrushed of course) to productions.
jQueryIsAwesome 3 days ago 1 reply      
Papers: http://kevinkarsch.com/publications/sa11.pdf

Looks like film makers and others will save a lot of money in decorating scenarios.

How I live on $7,000 per year earlyretirementextreme.com
334 points by jfoucher  6 days ago   213 comments top 22
nirvana 6 days ago  replies      
I've been living on $13,754 per year for the past 4 years. (Average as of last month.) There are two of us, so, double that and you have the average cost over that period. While we've been doing it, we've been traveling full time, spent the last year in europe living in AirBNB pads, and doing our startup. We buy a MacBook Pro each year and an iPad or iPhone each year as needed, with the old one going to the other person to replace the even older one they were using. We don't live poorly, either. How good our food is depends on where we are-- it wasn't so great in england, but it was fantastic in italy.

Prior to those 4 years, I lived on about $18,000 a year, and in the 1990s, I was living on about $22,000 a year. I made much more, of course.

Starting in the early 1990s I knew I'd want to start a company at some point, and I knew that the less you spent the more profit you had to sock away for retirement. At one point I bought and lived on a boat. Living on the west coast[1] where my friends were paying $1,200-$4,000 a month in rent-mortgage, while I was paying $300 a month in marina fees--- AND I had the best view-- was pretty nice.

Like anything, it is something you can do if you practice it, and you just have to have the right attitude. I had an immediate turnaround in my spending when I started tracking my expenses. Just looking at where things went each month had a huge impact... I started buying less pointless stuff ,and cut out whole swaths of things that I didn't need, and conversely, started eating out more, because I realized it was relatively cheap. I didn't even miss the things I got rid of, because I didn't cut any of the things that were important to me.

I remember, in 1994 buying a TV thinking that I'd be using it until 1997 when I expected that HDTVs would be out, and planning on buying an HDTV. In 1997, HDTVs ware REALLY expensive, but by then I'd made the change. I kept that TV- which I'd only meant to keep for 3 years-- until 2007 when we went nomadic. 11 years longer than "budgeted". We don't do cable, but we do, luxuriously, do BOTH hulu AND netflix. And the occasional iTunes rental.

I got rid of my land line phone over a decade ago, when I moved onto the boat, and then never got it back afterwards. Cellphones were always cheap plans, and then, given up completely years ago. (Reaching me urgently means calling my google voice number or sending an email, which I get in a couple days.)

I kept my vehicle for a very, very, long time, but don't even have that now. That right there got rid of over $600 a year just in insurance. Public transportation is a hassle (except in berlin!) but its cheaper.

One thing that's really helped-- we set a budget. We have the food/transportation budget, and then we have the personal-spending money. Each month we get a bit of money that we don't have to spend responsibly, and the rest of the money goes into specific budget items. We have all of our major purchases planned out, and on schedule. Actually had to accelerate the computer purchases because we were using them past the end of AppleCare. (Traveling all the time, we want AppleCare.)

One important thing to know, to help with all this, is to understand money. I think a lot of people don't really understand money... not on a fundamental level.

Money is just a medium of exchange, right, but have you ever wondered what it is you're exchanging? It's life. Not just in the sense that you need food and shelter to live, but in that you rented your body to some labor in exchange for the money. I think people who don't think of money as valuable as that-- as literally being part of their lives-- tend to respect money very much, and so they don't keep an eye on it. Old timers called it "knowing the value of a dollar".

As for the nomad thing- yeah, plane flights are expensive (but we take relatively few big ones)...but compared to the cost of living in america, most of the world is cheaper. Europe was more expensive, but we wanted to make sure the idea worked before going places where english was even less common.

I expect our cost of living to be significantly lower this year than last.

[1] originally types "west cost", which is about how I think of it.

PS-- I've done a poor job of explaining "How", but it really is an attitude more than a method. There are probably lots of things we don't have, and don't miss, because we simply changed our priorities. Since I don't miss them, it's really hard for me to name them.

There's a line in fight club that is apropos here: ".. learn to let slide what truly, doesn't matter."

rorrr 6 days ago  replies      
Sorry, but this story is garbage.

Rent/mortgage, retirement completely ignored.

Plus he has the shittiest $82 health insurance plan he could find, and he doesn't calculate the costs of what will happen if he gets sick.

On average people after 65 spend $2,920 per year on medical out of pocket expenses (Source: http://www.newretirement.com/Planning101/Rising_Medical_Cost...)

Then his food comes from his garden, which means he has to work on that, and he conveniently didn't calculate the opportunity costs, tools, irrigation, chemicals, seeds, etc.

What about transportation costs, electric/gas, phone, internet, household supplies, upgrade of your old computer, clothing, shoes.

Then if you want to have a car (and it sucks to live pretty much everywhere in the US without a car), what about car insurance, maintenance, new car every X years?

Yeah, it's fucking easy to live on $7K per year when you own a house with a garden, don't pay property taxes, use 1995 computer, and have no safety net in case of a serious sickness.

scarmig 6 days ago 2 replies      
Depends on your goals in life. $7,000 is definitely doable. But I don't want to live in an RV. Indeed, I want to live in a walkable neighborhood with groceries, low crime, and easily accessible entertainment.

The site probably isn't a convincing case for a general audience. Which is a real pity, because a lifestyle of $10,000 to $12,000 a year is very doable, even for a single person, even in the Bay Area, even with regular outings and entertainment, and even with flushable toilets.

Abundnce10 6 days ago 1 reply      
At some point during my college career I learned about the Rat Race and was propelled to discard my desire to climb the corporate ladder and decided to live a life similar to jfoucher (How I live on $7000 per year). However, after living frugally for a couple years I saved up enough money and decided to travel the world. Fast forward to today - after witnessing first hand the lives of those less fortunate while traveling in SE Asia I realized how self-centered I was to sit out of the "Rat Race" and meander along the road of my meager existence while there were other people wishing they had the knowledge, opportunity, and capacity to live and succeed in our society. There are people all over this planet that don't possess the means necessary to make impactful changes in others' lives, let alone their own, and so I asked myself: What if I took my determination and drive (clearly demonstrated in my previously frugal lifestyle habits) and applied those characteristics to actions that might benefit other people? Would those actions then be better, or more worthy, than the actions of squeaking out a living on $7,000? Personally, I decided they would be and have since then devoted myself to helping bring about change in this world.

I'm not saying everyone should view their life this way, but I understand what the author is describing and I have went through the internal struggle of trying to decide what to do with my life. Recently, I decided to go back into the world of the Rat Race and try to make the lives of those around me and myself better (building interesting software, spreading joy and wisdom, raising awareness of certain issues, etc.). I don't unconsciously spend money on things I don't need but I do if it deems fit. More over, I don't think you need to have a garden or be a homebody to live frugally.

I hope other smart, determined people don't take the route of sitting idly by the side as hoards of unaware, materialistic consumers perpetuate a system of greed and excess.

Sodaware 6 days ago 3 replies      
The title of the article is slightly misleading in that it's $7,000 per person, so it's actually $14K in this case. I know that's a little nit-picky, but things like rent would eat a good chunk of that $7k.

Living on $14k is certainly possible, and the usual suspects can be cut to save some cash:

* Drop cable TV

* Same for cell phone - keep one pre-pay for emergency and use Skype for business/personal

* Stick to one car if at all possible (easier if someone can work from home or has flexible work hours). Negotiate lower insurance rates if possible.

* Don't eat out

* If internet is essential, go for the cheapest package available.

There are usually offers for new internet customers that give low rates for the first year. However, when your year expires you can call them up and ask to be put on a new special. This worked for my wife and I when our rates went up, and we got upgraded to a faster connection to boot.

That's really the biggest money saving tip of all - ask politely. It doesn't always work, but you lose nothing and can gain some decent savings over time.

diiq 6 days ago 1 reply      
I've been living on $6000 a year for the past five years. Next year, I intend to spend 10 months in New Zealand on <$8000, including travel, room, and board.

It's very doable. I rent a very nice room in a pleasant suburb. I eat well, if repetitively. I have enough pocket money to go out somewhere nice with friends now and again. I don't make much more than I spend --- product, in part, of a BFA --- and sure, an extra few thousand would improve my lifestyle considerably. But I don't need much more, and I've been very happy and very comfortable.

sliverstorm 5 days ago 1 reply      
Takeaway: If you can score dirt-cheap rent, you've won half the battle.

He pays $250 for rent in S.F. You'd be pretty hard-pressed to NOT have an impressive budget in that kind of scenario.

gergles 6 days ago 1 reply      
The article is mistitled, as there is literally nothing in there about how he allegedly lives on 7K a year, other than what he eats for dinner (apparently every night.)
lionhearted 5 days ago 0 replies      
Some nice points, but this one is dead wrong:

> Regardless of how much I made, I think I would pick up a goddamn broom myself before I started talking about my financial struggles. The gall!

Paying someone else to do cleaning is one of the easiest positive ROI moves for your life. Not just because it frees up your time, but also because living somewhere clean and organized just does wonders for your sanity, mental health, physical health, productivity, ability to entertain others without cleanup lead time, and has follow-on effects of making you want to be better groomed, prepared, and organized because that's what happens when you live in a hyper-clean environment. Also, everyone else treats your place nicer because it's clean, and messing up a clean place is bad.

So yeah, pay someone to come clean every week. It's cheap, it's like $10 in developing countries and $50 max in developed countries. Well, well worth it. Especially if you're any sort of skilled professional at all that works from home ever on anything.

6ren 6 days ago 4 replies      
He doesn't seem to include rent or mortgage.
shareme 6 days ago 0 replies      
The article is miss-titled, it should be:

Leveraged Retirement....

not in the Donald Trump way but the concept is similar...now for the bonus question what is he leveraging and what benefits does he get in return for that leveraging? He did somewhat obtusely answer it..and no the previously earned and saved Six figures is not what he is leveraging..

sayemm 5 days ago 0 replies      
This is an amazing blog, just ordered his book - thanks for posting this.

I love the overall theme of his blog, which is that society brainwashes us, or most people, to derive utility out of life through consumerism and materialism.

Jacob Fisker, the blogger behind ERE, I think is far richer than what his finances and personal budget indicate because he's actually living life for himself and optimizing it for maximum utility (spending the time wisely to do what he really loves doing).

ctdonath 6 days ago 2 replies      
The article comes from the same reason I'm running the A Buck A Plate blog http://abuckaplate.blogspot.com - doing it because so many think living well for cheap can't be done.
wes-exp 5 days ago 0 replies      
For those living in RVs, boats, and so on, can you comment on the amount of time you spend maintaining your living space?

As a startup founder, as much as I am concerned about cutting costs, I am also concerned about the opportunity cost of spending time doing maintenance. E.g., even if you fully own a house, a house can be a lot of maintenance work. Depending on how you value your time, that can reduce how much you "save" on rent.

Any comments?

tlogan 6 days ago 1 reply      
When you have kids then you really live on $7000 per year. Believe me.

So maybe when you are younger it is good enjoy a little because when middle age crisis comes (and it will come) and if you didn't enjoy when you were young all kind of crazy shit can happen. Happen to my father in-law: all his millions are worthless...

doc_larry 5 days ago 0 replies      
It's all about perspective. As physician and entrepreneur I like what I'm doing and enjoy my life. The money is a side effect that grew over time (when I started in the ER I was paid less than $200 for 24 of work).
Money isn't the objective, but creating a meaningful lifestyle, being a good husband and leave something positive behind is what really matters.
My two cents of happiness :-)
leot 6 days ago 1 reply      
You're not taxed on work you do for yourself (, yet).
rymedia 6 days ago 1 reply      
Interesting perspective. Definitely not for everyone living that frugally though. 1 Charlie Sheen weekend in Vegas would blow the years budget :P
Cl4rity 5 days ago 1 reply      
I was going to complain about how this was extreme, but that would be redundant given his URL. The point isn't that we all can/should live off of ~$7,000/year, it's that we can cut down on the crap we don't need, or things that will be gone or obsolete in a year or less.

However, the great thing about this article is that it reminds me to find some kind of balance. The impression I got was that the author spends nearly half his time budgeting and penny pinching, with little room to enjoy life. Or, if I could be a little more presumptuous, convinces himself that he enjoys this life so that he doesn't have to go out and earn far more money.

barryfandango 6 days ago 1 reply      
I agree with the author that there's much to be gained by shrugging off the consumerist expectation that we spend all of our income on junk. The next step in that progression though, in my opinion, is to learn to obsess over money exactly as much as is necessary, then start paying attention to what really matters in life. This guy's OCD approach to money sounds exhausting.
ahsanhilal 6 days ago  replies      
Basic economics tells you that this is not a good growth strategy to adopt especially if you have a consumption-based economy, and not savings-based one (aka China, India). In short population is going to increase over time, resources are going to decrease over time, in order to keep GDP per capita in line with an increasing population, you cannot just decrease your spending (or tighten your belt). You have to grow by increasing income levels, and thereby increasing aggregate demand.

If we only increase incomes, and dont spend, then aggregate demand goes down, leading to less consumption, less investment, which leads to lower employment opportunities, which leads to even lesser consumption, and so on so forth until we get to a severely regressive cycle, where our industries shut down.

Point is, more power to you if you want to spend less, but making everyone else adopt your way of life because it works for you, does not mean it will work for them, and in entirety would not promote greater economic growth.

PS for those arguing 'well it works for China'; well the USA is not China, and they are big structural differences which make it unnecessary and useless to adopt that model.

cnxsoft 5 days ago 0 replies      
I'm also on that budget, but I don't live in California...
4chan's Chris Poole: Facebook & Google Are Doing It Wrong readwriteweb.com
314 points by jonmwords  3 days ago   151 comments top 23
toyg 3 days ago  replies      
The problem with the multiple-vs-unique-ID debate is that people tend to ignore what these systems are really built for: data mining, behavioural analysis, targeted advertising etc.

Users will agree with moot that separate identities are better and safer, but this is not how the real FB/Google customers see it; advertisers and marketeers want to know that user-A is an engineer AND loves cooking AND has a pet AND goes on 4chan.org/tv, not just one OR the others.

That's why FB/Google try so hard to reconcile all your activities under one ID: to better represent the unique intersection of interests that will be resold to marketeers. Any feature they implement to "manage your faceted identity" will only give you an illusion of separation, and will inevitably link all your activities anyway, because that's necessary for their business model.

Note that this is not a rant (I use FB and G+ every day), I just think this point tends to be overlooked when talking about "social" websites, almost like it was not polite to point out where these businesses make their money.

jeffool 3 days ago 8 replies      

  We present ourselves differently in different contexts,
and that's key to our creativity and self-expression.
"It's not 'who you share with,' it's 'who you share as,'"
Poole told us. "Identity is prismatic."

moot just kinda blew my mind. And it makes total sense. I'd go so far as to say it's almost painfully obvious once it's pointed out to you. I hope someone's got it on video and posts it somewhere.

joshu 3 days ago 3 replies      
Heh, he spent the evening at my house working on and fretting about this presentation. While my dog watched:


ianl 3 days ago 2 replies      
troymc 3 days ago 0 replies      
I'm reminded of a quote:

"Do I contradict myself? Very well, then I contradict myself, I am large, I contain multitudes." - Walt Whitman

grandalf 3 days ago 1 reply      
Chris came up with a great metaphor to explain online identity.

Most of the people leading major product decisions in this area either have very common names or are already famous. But for the rest of us, using our real name online means that anyone who meets us can discover our online identity with a google search.

When I "meet" someone online (such as reading a comment he/she wrote on HN) I really don't care what his/her real name is. I don't understand why Google cares.

jarin 3 days ago 5 replies      
As someone who used to post a lot on forums, I agree that being able to have multiple pseudonyms is great. On the other hand, I also appreciate the value of enforcing real names in online discussions.

If you've ever read the comments on news articles on Facebook (MSNBC/Breaking News/etc.), it's amazing the hateful, racist, bigoted shit people will post under their REAL NAMES. I can only imagine how bad it would be if people could choose to post anonymously.

mey 3 days ago 5 replies      
They may be doing it wrong from a psychology perspective, but seem to be doing fine from a business perspective.
jroseattle 3 days ago 0 replies      
The most insightful discussion of online identity I've heard to date.

Facebook has painted themselves into a corner, and Google isn't creative enough with their approach. Twitter is better, but only because they don't have the same policies and don't try to get in the way.

twakefield 2 days ago 0 replies      
Seems that email is the unifying online id and emphasizes the importance having an email address at a domain that you own and control so that you don't lose it when these social networks disappear or violate your privacy to the point that you need to walk away.

Would it be worthwhile to have a service that managed all of your online identities? You could register multiple avatars/aliases and the service would create email addresses for each of them that could be used to sign up for different networks. Then all of those email notifications, etc. could be forwarded to one confidential email address at a domain that the user owns and registers with the service.

artursapek 3 days ago 3 replies      
Identity is prismatic, but the faces of that prism aren't disjointed. They're all part of the same whole and for this reason I'm not sure his metaphor works with his point about how we present ourselves differently in different contexts.

I've always used my real name on everything I do since I got in trouble in high school for being part of a group prank under a pseudonym. My father told me that unless I want what I do to be associated with my real name, I just probably shouldn't do it. I've found those to be good words to live by. And if you've ever explored 4chan for even a minute you'll see why this is important, the anonymity there turns those people into, well, freaks. I think "real names" can be considered a product of evolution, they came about for a good reason.

bteitelb 2 days ago 1 reply      
Poole is spot on. I'll add as a corollary, that users also don't want real-time communication that is a mirror. This is one of the reasons that videoconferencing has failed repeatedly since 1964. The entire cosmetics and fashion industries exist to provide avatars for when we must endure the gaze. And yet, we continue to work on videoconferencing and tele-immersion. Sigh.
apollo 3 days ago 2 replies      
So why require Facebook to register on Canvas?
teki 3 days ago 0 replies      
Rings a bell, changing nickname on IRC was essential part of self expression.
traveldotto1 2 days ago 0 replies      
Google captures your intent, Facebook captures your social graph. It's not Google and Facebook does it wrong, they just represent part of us. A service that tries to generalize the whole embodiment of human interaction where they only capture a piece of what we do is not going to work. I think it's human tendency to have multiple identities on the web based on context.
abava 2 days ago 0 replies      
I think multiple ID is a working idea. We have used it in safe location sharing WATN: http://servletsuite.blogspot.com/2011/10/where-are-they-now....
And yes, it is good for users but bad for advertisers
yuhong 3 days ago 0 replies      
As I said before, personally, I am not for real name policies, but I am for fixing the problems with using real names if possible.
bteitelb 2 days ago 0 replies      
Another corollary is that we need better tools for lying. Prismatic identity management require that you can manage the persona on each facet and lie about the occluded personas. One of the killer features of the telephone that is often overlooked is how well it has supported lying.
taariqlewis 3 days ago 0 replies      
This is a problem for Linkedin, as well. We have many facted personalities for work, but we are only allowed one-dimensional presentation. It's terrible, but most folks don't care or just don't know.
josh_miller 3 days ago 0 replies      
moot and Scott Heiferman argue about online identity here: http://www.atroundtable.com/onlinecommunities
tomasienrbc 3 days ago 1 reply      
I'll never understand why people are so afraid of having their information sold by Facebook in order to better target ads to them. Do you like seeing shitty ads that don't matter to you? I don't.
whackberry 3 days ago 0 replies      
Both Facebook and Google are doing it right. They just work for the wrong interests?
gnu6 3 days ago 3 replies      
Chris Poole operates the world's most popular child pornography web site. Let's all listen to what he has to say.
Google Killing Off Buzz and Code Search googleblog.blogspot.com
312 points by thisisblurry  6 days ago   144 comments top 44
saurik 6 days 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 6 days 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 6 days ago 4 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 6 days 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/

blauwbilgorgel 6 days ago 2 replies      
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 6 days 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.

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

I suppose their Blog Search is next.

bdonlan 6 days 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 6 days ago 0 replies      
Speaking of focus, we went from

"Organizing Worlds Information"


"Organizing People in to Circles"

Indeed exciting times!

spiffistan 6 days 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 6 days 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 6 days 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

antimora 6 days 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?

mahmoudimus 6 days 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.

EGreg 6 days 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 6 days ago 1 reply      
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.

kpozin 6 days 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.
pbreit 6 days ago 1 reply      
I'm surprised about the Code Search news. That seems to be squarely within Google's mission.
siddhant 6 days ago 0 replies      
Buzz is fine. But what was wrong with Code Search?
dustingetz 6 days ago 2 replies      
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.

lithiumn 6 days 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.
kpanghmc 6 days 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.)?

mcfunley 6 days ago 0 replies      
I used code search just yesterday. Super lame.
plq 6 days 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.

cygwin98 6 days 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.
alanh 6 days 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
heydenberk 6 days 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 6 days ago 0 replies      
Google's profit margins greatly exceeded expectations for the last quarter[1]. In response they are shutting down Code Search?


tlogan 6 days ago 3 replies      
What is the best alternative to Google Code Search?
BrandonM 6 days 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
acpmasquerade 5 days ago 1 reply      
If Google can't backup the resources required for Code-Search, then who will ?
Just googled to see if any other code search service is available. It listed one more result other than the Google Code Search. Will koders.com remain alive. It will probably be a single. Lets hope, there will be someone backing up Koders.
iam 5 days ago 0 replies      
Great. Now what are we supposed to use to search code? I can't think of any alternatives.
madmath 6 days 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 6 days 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.
seltzered_ 6 days 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.

saibotd 6 days ago 0 replies      
JabavuAdams 4 days ago 0 replies      
Damn. I'll miss Code Search.
lost-theory 6 days ago 0 replies      
Nullege is still great search engine for python code.


johnx123-up 5 days ago 0 replies      
Anyone knows the reason?

I thought that it's their robot working hard (no human resources allotted for it)

antimora 6 days ago 0 replies      
Oh no, not the code search!
jonutzz 5 days ago 0 replies      
That makes me sad. I use it a lot!
boomboom 6 days ago 0 replies      
rockerarj 6 days 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.
Amazon kindle source code amazon.com
308 points by sundar22in  5 days ago   40 comments top 10
wheels 5 days ago 2 replies      
I thought it was kind of neat to that a library I'd written was one of the 45 included. I was kind of curious to see what they'd changed, but it ended up being a little boring:


It's a library for reading / writing audio meta data (tags) and they basically just removed support for several formats. What's perhaps more interesting is what they didn't remove: I don't have a Kindle, but from the code this would seem to imply that it supports Ogg Vorbis and FLAC in some capacity.

Also noted that they're using a version from early 2008, even though there have been 5 more recent releases since.

Edit: I also went back and grabbed the very first Kindle release, which contained only 22 packages (TagLib still being one of them), and there they used an even older version (meaning they do at least sometimes grab newer versions of the libs).

markbao 5 days ago 2 replies      
Like Palm's WebOS open source releases [0], this is the code of the modifications they made to open-source projects, some of which they are supposed to release under GPL.

The title should be updated to reflect this.

[0]: http://opensource.palm.com/packages.html

skeletonjelly 5 days ago 0 replies      
For some reason I thought it would be the source code for the reader component but it looks like it's just conforming to the GPL license requirements for things they've modified.

Kindle_src_3.2.1_576290015.tar.gz contains:

dfc 5 days ago 1 reply      
Why did this get upvoted so many times? It has been available for years now.

I'm afarid to say that I think people upvoted this without even reading the link. I'd bet that 200+ people who voted for this thought it was the source to amazon's proprietary components. Its not, its gpl'ed code that has been available for as long as amazon has sold the kindle.

jrmg 4 days ago 1 reply      
I'm really surprised to see so much GPL and LGPLed code in here. Doesn't the license require that, in addition to having the source code, that it be possible for the user be able to re-compile and re-link the binaries? Isn't this impossible with the Kindle hardware?
ctz 5 days ago 1 reply      
Unfortunately, still no SDK and no sign of movement. This is really sad, as I'd love access to the Kindle's market.
Achshar 5 days ago 0 replies      
yup, they have to release the code due to the license..
jasiek 5 days ago 0 replies      
For a split second there I understood that as "Kindle SDK being released today".
smallegan 5 days ago 1 reply      
Will the Fire be on here when it launches?
mih 5 days ago 1 reply      
Does this mean the community can finally add support to epub books?
How I retired in 9 years on a corporate programmer salary mrmoneymustache.com
286 points by usedtolurk  4 days ago   155 comments top 27
edw519 4 days ago  replies      
I admire OP's financial project and appreciate his sharing it. I imagine quite a few people may benefit from it.

But make no mistake about it, the #1 reason for any "How I did <anything regarding money>" is really, "I am cheap."

We only get one chance at this life, and the thing that bothers me the most is, "What are you missing that you're too frugal to consider?"

Some of the greatest pleasures of my life came as a result of a discretionary purchase. Incredible people, experiences, even business opportunities came my way because I bought a product, went to an event, or took a trip that most frugal people I know wouldn't have.

Once you decide to be frugal, you'll probably be stuck that way for life because you'll rarely be in position to take advantage of those opportunities that would break the cycle.

If that works for you, fine. But not for me. I may not be extravagant, but I don't want to miss any wonderful opportunity because I was too worried about my bank balance. In the grand scheme of things, how sad that would be.


[EDIT: Yes there is a difference between "cheap" and "frugal". Every time I mention "frugal" above, I really meant "cheap", but I was trying to be nice. I will leave it that way to make the thread below make sense. Also, I failed to mention that there's a big difference between being cheap because you have to and being cheap because you choose to.]

mattmanser 4 days ago 4 replies      
How is being self employed retired? Is this a new meaning of the word retired that I have not heard of?

He notes on his 'start' page that a mere 1 in 9 Americans are self employed like him. Only a few 10s of millions of people then?

I think your office of national statistics would disagree with you buddy, you're a handyman, your wife's a realtor. You're not retired.

What a plonker.

eliben 4 days ago 5 replies      
This is a nice article, but two observations:

- He made a great home investment, apparently bought cheap and later was able to rent it for a lot of money. This is good for him, but somewhat lucky (or, alternative, a spark of insight into real-estate)

- He made nice returns on stocks

Both are fine, but not a part of "corporate programmer salary"

wheaties 4 days ago 3 replies      
Let me get this straight, he thinks 900k is going to be enough to retire on, send a kid to college, and lay for his future medical bills!? That home building business started during the home building boom better be earning more than 50k.
steve8918 4 days ago 5 replies      
Sorry, but his stock trading seems bit hard to believe.

He's saying that he made money on stocks during the dot com boom and during the bust as well? I don't think that's possible, unless he was psychic enough to short at the top.

Anyone who made money on stocks during the bust got their heads handed to them during the bust. No one believed that the bust was going to happen. One of my coworkers turned 50k in 1999 into 250k by 2000, and then 6 months after the bust started, he was down to 20k. EVERYONE during that time thought they were stock picking geniuses, so when stocks went down, they thought it was a buying opportunity. I can't imagine there were any stocks you could have bought during the bust where he could have made money, let alone increase in value by 50%!!! During those years he went for 67k to 150k to 250k!

Unless he was shorting stocks, there really wasn't any stocks that survived the bust very well, especially if he was investing in the likes of Cisco, etc.

The same goes for 2008/2009. Unless this guy is some sort of stock trading guru, he would have lost 50% of his stock portfolio yet he made $35k. It just doesn't sound right.

vetler 4 days ago 1 reply      
Wikipedia defines retirement as follows:

  Retirement is the point where a person stops employment completely

Obviously not what the author of this article did. It seems that the author's goal was to get out of the IT industry. Why? Was he unhappy? Whatever the case, he seems much happier building houses. That's great!

Personally I love software development, and don't really want to do anything else. Sometimes, when the stress gets to me, I find myself imagining doing something else, but it's usually just a phase.

If you want to change your line of work, then by all means do it, but it's not retirement.

skrebbel 4 days ago 7 replies      
i don't understand this sudden focus on retirement. You could've had a nice programming job and done it for years with enjoyment
tl 4 days ago 1 reply      
So, let me get this straight. You:

1. You and your girlfriend were making more money individually than the 2009 median household income [1], and you had been doing so since 1999.

2. You ended up on the good side of a stock market that robs as many people as it enriches.

3. You cut expenses whenever possible.

And your end result is a nest egg that might be enough if you stay frugal and work part-time? How is this useful financial advice?

[1] http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/00000.html

padobson 4 days ago 2 replies      
I think this is completely feasible starting with a $0 net worth and having a college education. I am not remotely surprised he got to a $100k salary working full time plus nights and weekends. You'd be surprised how many people you can pass up in the work force just by showing up on time and working more than them.

Frugality is also huge. If you can save 15-25% on products you knew you were going to buy anyway by clipping coupons or buying in bulk or searching for deals, that's far better than making 15-25% in the stock market because there's no risk.

The real estate thing, too, isn't as hard as you think. Multi-unit dwellings can often be purchased at the price of a normal house and rented for 2-3x what a normal house would go for. If you can find a three or four unit building for $100-$150k and live in one of the units while you pay down the equity and fix up the other two to increase they're rental value, then getting $500-$600 per unit becomes very possible. That's $1500-$2400 a month to go towards mortgages, which would easily support two $100-$150k houses.

JoeAltmaier 4 days ago 3 replies      
I'd love to hear his wife's take on this frugality. "I didn't miss the 2nd car a bit" - I imagine the Mrs. has a different idea about that.

So pretty much, have a high-earning wife and buy a firecracker realestate deal that pays 2 mortgages. Doesn't sound so much brilliant as lucky?

wallflower 4 days ago 0 replies      
My landlord used to vacation in a nice coastal area. For a number of years, he went to the same town, same rental. At one point, the cottage came up for sale. $200k. He dismissed it as too much of a risk for his financial situation at the time. Less than five years later, the boom and bubble in coastal properties had exploded the market value to $600k. For a humble cottage. That regret (he could have bought the cottage and rented to cover) - missing that opportunity is why he purchased multiple properties in an up and coming area before it became the young professional magnet that it is today. He had done quite well for himself, a liberal arts major who has minored quite successfully in real estate.
pragmatic 4 days ago 1 reply      
The timing of the housing market and stock market couldn't have been better for this guy.

I'm not saying he didn't have anything to do with this for being frugal (I'm doing the same thing), but stock and housing gains seem to account for a large portion of his wealth.

suivix 4 days ago 1 reply      
So marry someone who makes a lot of money, and get lucky with investments? Ok.
davidu 4 days ago 0 replies      
It's worth pointing out that this man is exceptionally frugal. It's a great strategy if you can be happy with a modest spend throughout your life.

This is why the guy who owns the laundromat down the street is a millionaire -- great stable income, but he and Mr. Money Mustache are far from having a lavish lifestyle.

Murkin 4 days ago 4 replies      
Can someone explain how a combined income of $150K (before tax) allowed the OP to save $100K/year ?

And why is the idea of stopping being a productive member of society at 30+ is a good thing ?

malbs 4 days ago 1 reply      
Here in Australia, the commonwealth bank provided a guideline on how much super you needed to retire on to main various life styles, and what struck me as scary was how much you needed at retirement age 65, to survive for 20 years, if you wanted such first world pleasures as running a dishwasher, going out to dinner once a week, and so on. 800k was not anywhere near the amount needed.

I'm not calling this guy out, but you would be living a minimalist lifestyle in order to make 800k last you 40 years..

If you had it all in a 6% long-term savings account, you're barely making 50k pa before tax, for two people to live on. Sure, you have no mortgage, but you still have all the other costs of life involved. They'd be able to do it, but they certainly wouldn't be living the high life.

shinratdr 3 days ago 0 replies      
You can, if you want to live like this guy. I don't. I would rather work and spend the way I want to on my off time than spend every waking hour managing my budget without a job. If always going to the library rather than grabbing a book on Amazon or always bringing stuff from home rather than eating out or getting a coffee is key to living like this, then count me out. If $5 is unacceptable discretionary spending, then a coffee or meal out once in a while is the least of what you're giving up.

Frankly, I also think the guy is a little delusional about the future. You've got everyone on board now, something tells me that might change once you have a kid. Or multiple kids. Perhaps you already "agreed" to only have one kid, but then you are truly being naive in assuming that will stay the case. It may, but I wouldn't bet on it like this.

huhtenberg 4 days ago 2 replies      
Retiring on 900K? Here's a breakdown for 3-4 mil range and, no, it's not enough under conservative assumptions - http://www.tonywright.com/2010/no-you-cant-retire-rich-at-30... - though this is not to say that this analysis is accurate.
Sindrome 4 days ago 0 replies      
I'm convinced money grew on trees in the 90's... Too bad I missed out. Maybe it's just beacuse OP highlights what went right, I'd be much more interested in hearing what went wrong w/ his plans.
Tycho 4 days ago 1 reply      
The key thing for me was that he was able to clinch such big pay-rises. Not complaining or anything, but I wonder how universifiable the abilities/opportunities are which made that possible. He just mentions them almost in passing.
mark_l_watson 4 days ago 0 replies      
With only one piece of income property, I am a little surprised that the author of the blog post thinks that his family has enough for the rest of their lives.

That said, if they maintain their job skills, they should be fine because of part time work income when the will need it.

apieceofpi 4 days ago 1 reply      
Step 0: no debt. You could attribute that to luck or smart early decision making, but that's definitely a large step ahead of everyone else.

Personally, I have measured it will take me approximately three years of post-college work experience to get out of debt (with my current income, budget, amount of debt, etc.). I haven't heard of any startup founders that go into a startup with debt already in their wallet so I feel that the amount of student loan debt universally shrinks the space of potential new entrepreneurs.

1point2 4 days ago 0 replies      
Wait till the family arrives... That's when the fun begins - more rewarding than anything - and the fastest way out of retirement u will ever find. Not into kids(?) - time will tell.
incosta 4 days ago 1 reply      
I am assuming the author and his wife are both Canadian citizens. If he moved to the U.S. in year 3, and his wife a year later, I wonder how the guy has retired (without moving back to Canada)? He got his green card in 4 years or less? Not likely. Did he already have it? Also, if he was on H1 visa, it's very unlikely (if possible at all) to become less-than-full-time worker (as he did in year 8) in this status. Lots of questions..
gcb 3 days ago 0 replies      
Deciding to live near work. House on 1st yr/job. Several other jobs.

Or boulder have one single building with all companies, or this guy can sell houses for homeless people

grimen 4 days ago 1 reply      
I don't want to retire. I could not live without creating stuff. Maybe I missed the pointof the article, but it all felt very sad - capitalistic.
brianobush 4 days ago 0 replies      
I find it interesting that people strive to retire from their work by living frugal (or cheap!). I have always enjoyed what I do and don't mind working till I am in my seventies if so allowed. I still save a large portion of my income and have a high net worth, accumulate little material possessions but still do not feel like a slave to the machine.
       cached 21 October 2011 04:11:01 GMT