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Don't use MongoDB pastebin.com
682 points by nmongo  2 days ago   291 comments top 56
ehwizard 2 days ago  replies      
From CTO of 10gen

First, I tried to find any client of ours with a track record like this and have been unsuccessful. I personally have looked at every single customer case that's every come in (there are about 1600 of them) and cannot match this story to any of them. I am confused as to the origin here, so answers cannot be complete in some cases.

Some comments below, but the most important thing I wanted to say is if you have an issue with MongoDB please reach out so that we can help. https://groups.google.com/group/mongodb-user is the support forum, or try the IRC channel.

> 1. MongoDB issues writes in unsafe ways by default in order to win benchmarks

The reason for this has absolutely nothing to do with benchmarks, and everything to do with the original API design and what we were trying to do with it. To be fair, the uses of MongoDB have shifted a great deal since then, so perhaps the defaults could change.

The philosophy is to give the driver and the user fine grained control over acknowledgement of write completions. Not all writes are created equal, and it makes sense to be able to check on writes in different ways. For example with replica sets, you can do things like “don't acknowledge this write until its on nodes in at least 2 data centers.”

> 2. MongoDB can lose data in many startling ways

> 1. They just disappeared sometimes. Cause unknown.

There has never been a case of a record disappearing that we either have not been able to trace to a bug that was fixed immediately, or other environmental issues. If you can link to a case number, we can at least try to understand or explain what happened. Clearly a case like this would be incredibly serious, and if this did happen to you I hope you told us and if you did, we were able to understand and fix immediately.

> 2. Recovery on corrupt database was not successful, pre transaction log.

This is expected, repairing was generally meant for single servers, which itself is not recommended without journaling. If a secondary crashes without journaling, you should resync it from the primary. As an FYI, journaling is the default and almost always used in v2.0.

> 3. Replication between master and slave had gaps in the oplogs, causing slaves to be missing records the master had. Yes, there is no checksum, and yes, the replication status had the slaves current

Do you have the case number? I do not see a case where this happened, but if true would obviously be a critical bug.

> 4. Replication just stops sometimes, without error. Monitor
> your replication status!

If you mean that an error condition can occur without issuing errors to a client, then yes, this is possible. If you want verification that replication is working at write time, you can do it with w=2 getLastError parameter.

> 3. MongoDB requires a global write lock to issue any write

> Under a write-heavy load, this will kill you. If you run a blog, you maybe don't care b/c your R:W ratio is so high.

The read/write lock is definitely an issue, but a lot of progress made and more to come. 2.0 introduced better yielding, reducing the scenarios where locks are held through slow IO operations. 2.2 will continue the yielding improvements and introduce finer grained concurrency.

> 4. MongoDB's sharding doesn't work that well under load

> Adding a shard under heavy load is a nightmare. Mongo either moves chunks between shards so quickly it DOSes the production traffic, or refuses to more chunks altogether.

Once a system is at or exceeding its capacity, moving data off is of course going to be hard. I talk about this in every single presentation I've ever given about sharding[0]: do no wait too long to add capacity. If you try to add capacity to a system at 100% utilization, it is not going to work.

> 5. mongos is unreliable

> The mongod/config server/mongos architecture is actually pretty reasonable and clever. Unfortunately, mongos is complete garbage. Under load, it crashed anywhere from every few hours to every few days. Restart supervision didn't always help b/c sometimes it would throw some assertion that would bail out a critical thread, but the process would stay running. Double fail.

I know of no such critical thread, can you send more details?

> 6. MongoDB actually once deleted the entire dataset

> MongoDB, 1.6, in replica set configuration, would sometimes determine the wrong node (often an empty node) was the freshest copy of the data available. It would then DELETE ALL THE DATA ON THE REPLICA (which may have been the 700GB of good data)

> They fixed this in 1.8, thank god.

Cannot find any relevant client issue, case nor commit. Can you please send something that we can look at?

> 7. Things were shipped that should have never been shipped

> Things with known, embarrassing bugs that could cause data problems were in "stable" releases--and often we weren't told about these issues until after they bit us, and then only b/c we had a super duper crazy platinum support contract with 10gen.

There is no crazy platinum contract and every issue we every find is put into the public jira. Every fix we make is public. Fixes have cases which are public. Without specifics, this is incredibly hard to discuss. When we do fix bugs we will try to get to users as fast as possible.

> 8. Replication was lackluster on busy servers

This simply sounds like a case of an overloaded server. I mentioned before, but if you want guaranteed replication, use w=2 form of getLastError.

> But, the real problem:

> 1. Don't lose data, be very deterministic with data

> 2. Employ practices to stay available

> 3. Multi-node scalability

> 4. Minimize latency at 99% and 95%

> 5. Raw req/s per resource

> 10gen's order seems to be, #5, then everything else in some order. #1 ain't in the top 3.

This is simply not true. Look at commits, look at what fixes we have made when. We have never shipped a release with a secret bug or anything remotely close to that and then secretly told certain clients. To be honest, if we were focused on raw req/s we would fix some of the code paths that waste a ton of cpu cycles. If we really cared about benchmark performance over anything else we would have dealt with the locking issues earlier so multi-threaded benchmarks would be better. (Even the most naive user benchmarks are usually multi-threaded.)

MongoDB is still a new product, there are definitely rough edges, and a seemingly infinite list of things to do.[1]

If you want to come talk to the MongoDB team, both our offices hold open office hours[2] where you can come and talk to the actual development teams. We try to be incredibly open, so please come and get to know us.


[0] http://www.10gen.com/presentations#speaker__eliot_horowitz
[1] http://jira.mongodb.org/
[2] http://www.10gen.com/office-hours

harryh 2 days ago 2 replies      

I run engineering for foursquare. About a year and a half ago my colleagues and I and made the decision to migrate to MongoDB for our primary data store. Currently we have dozens of MongoDB instances across several different data clusters storing over a TB of data and handling 10s of thousands of requests per second (mostly reads but the write load is reasonably high as well).

Have we run into problems with MongoDB along the way? Yes, of course we have. It is a new technology and problems happen.

Have they been problematic enough to seriously threaten our data? No they have not.

Has Eliot and the rest of his staff @ 10Gen been extremely responsive and helpful whenever we run into problems? Yes, absolutely. Their level of support is amazing.

MongoDB is a complicated beast (as are most datastores). It makes tradeoffs that you need to understand when thinking about using it. It's not necessarily for everyone. But it most certainly can be used by serious companies building serious products. Foursquare is proof of that.

I'm happy to answer any questions about our experience that the HN community might have.


antirez 2 days ago  replies      
I appreciate the "public service" intend of this blog post, however:

1) It is wrong to evaluate a system for bugs now fixed (but you can evaluate a software development process this way, however it is not the same as MongoDB itself, since the latter got fixed).

2) A few of the problems claimed are hard to verify, like subsystems crashing, but users can verify or deny this just looking at the mailing list if MongoDB has a mailing list like the Redis one that is ran by an external company (google) and people outside 10 gen have the ability to moderate messages. (For instance in Redis two guys from Citrusbytes can look/moderate messages, so even if I and Pieter would like to remove a message that is bad advertising we can't in a deterministic way).

3) New systems fails, especially if they are developed in the current NoSQL arena that is of course also full of interests about winning users ASAP (in other words to push new features fast is so important that perhaps sometimes stability will suffer). I can see this myself as even if my group at VMware is very focused on telling me to ship Redis as stable as possible as first rule, sometimes I get pressures about releasing new stuff ASAP from the user base itself.

IMHO it is a good idea if programmers learn to test very well the systems they are going to use with simulations for the intended use case. Never listen to the Hype, nor to detractors.

On the other side all this stories keep me motivated in being conservative in the development of Redis and try avoiding bloats and things I think will ultimately suck in the context of Redis (like VM and diskstore, two projects I abandoned).

LeafStorm 2 days ago 1 reply      
Just for comparison, CouchDB has had one major bug that could cause the loss of data, detailed here: http://couchdb.apache.org/notice/1.0.1.html

The bug was only triggered when the delayed_commits option was on (holds off on fsyncing when lots of write operations are coming in) and there was both a write conflict and a period of inactivity - when the database was shut down, any writes that happened afterwards would not be saved.

They immediately worked to develop a process that would prevent any data from being lost if you didn't shut down the server, then a week later had released an emergency bugfix version without the bug. Then later they released a tool that could recover any data lost from the bug if the database hadn't been compacted.

That's the kind of attitude database developers need to have towards data integrity.

latch 2 days ago 1 reply      
There's a lot of anonymity going on here. A new HN account, an unknown company and product, and claims with no evidence.

Why are't links to 10gen's Jira provided? Where's the test code that shows the problems they had with the write lock?

This is an extremely shallow analysis.

nullymcnull 2 days ago 2 replies      
These posts are exceptionally well-timed for me. I'm currently wrangling with one of those problems that is just not solved well with relational databases, or even the flat document store that my company already uses. I've been looking hard at Redis and Mongo, and of late I'm leaning towards Mongo. You know what? Having read these posts and the threads - and having extracted what little in the way of factual datapoints I could from them - I'm pretty sure I'll still be riding into production with Mongo.

Some of you guys who were all aboard the NOSQL UBER ALLES hype train a year or two ago now seem to be swinging back - with scrapes and bruises from some truly harebrained misdeployments, no doubt - to a reactionary 'All NoSQL are doomed to reimplement everything relational' nihilism. Back to shitty OR tools and ugly-ass joins for everyone, damnit! Harumph. I could write a novel just quoting and responding to some of the stupid pronouncements and prescriptions for correctness on these Mongo threads' comments.

Anyways. With regards to this specific post:

Let's rewind a couple of years. I work for a significantly smaller company than our anon raconteur, from the sound of it. At roughly the same time as he adopted Mongo, I was also looking hard at it, to solve some problems where the relational options available to us weren't going to cut the mustard. Damn, did Mongo look cool, fun even. The flexibility of having arbitrary object graphs in it and querying down into subdocument properties with real indexing on them, well, it sets nearly any developer's heart a-flutter, particularly those of us who work on dynamic web stuff a fair bit.

Sadly, I have to be an engineer and pragmatist first, I have to think about much more than what is sexy and comfortable for devs. I've been through my share of 3AM wake-up world-enders, I've learned the hard lessons. I considered variables like basic maintainability by ops people, credibility of the vendor, track record, robust redundancy and availability solutions, how far up shit creek we'd be in a disaster recovery scenario, etc. And after thorough research I decided that, for my much smaller company which can afford to be judiciously bleeding-edge where it makes sense to, Mongo was just not clearing the bar. I sucked it up and used unsexy properly normalized relational database tables, then utilized memory caching and async updates to try and paper over the performance issues inherent in that scheme.

What was anon doing? Charging full steam ahead into the wild unknown with Mongo, on an effort that was apparently important to a userbase of millions at a "high profile" company. That's some mighty responsible stewardship of the company, or even just the IT department's, broader concerns right there. Now, I understand that it totally makes sense to have used Mongo 1.x as a scrappy startup on a greenfield project, no problem. But this guy was in a different situation. At that scale in a BFC, conservatism rules, and it rules for a reason.

I think I am starting to understand why anon is anon.

In any case, we're likely going to roll with Mongo soon. It is indeed maturing, and I'm a lot more comfortable with it on all of my criteria these days. I have possibly read more of the JIRA issues than some of the devs, and they are prioritizing the Right Things - at least for my tastes. By my estimation it is on the right track.

Even having not used it in production yet, I can identify some things people are complaining about here as complete and utter RTFM-fail, misunderstanding of what it is they're deploying and whether what they expect out of it is realistic before they begin. I understand the tradeoffs of Mongo, and in my particular situation they make good sense.

jonpaul 2 days ago  replies      
I've used MongoDB in production since the 1.4 days. It should be noted that my apps are NOT write heavy. But, many of the author's points can be refuted by using version 2.0.

Regarding the point of using getLastError(), the author is completely correct. But the problem is not so much that MongoDB isn't good, it's that developers start using it and expect it to behave like a relational DB. Start thinking in an asynchronous programming paradigm, and you'll have less problems.

I got bit my MongoDB early on. When my server crashed, I learned real quickly what fsync, journaling, and friends can do. The best thing a dev can do before using MongoDB is to RTFM and understand its implications.

The #1 reason that I used MongoDB, was because of the schema-less models. That's it. Early on in an applications life-cycle, the data model changes so frequently that I find migrations painful and unnecessary.

My two cents, hopefully it helps.

nikcub 2 days ago 1 reply      
Links about Foursquare's problems with MongoDB. The site was down for a while when their 1.6 instance crashed:

* http://blog.foursquare.com/2010/10/05/so-that-was-a-bummer/

* http://www.infoq.com/news/2010/10/4square_mongodb_outage

* http://groups.google.com/group/mongodb-user/browse_thread/th...

I like MongoDB, it is easy to setup, work with and to understand. I think it has an opportunity to become the mysql of nosql (in more ways than one)

Foursquare and 10gen (the makers of MongoDB) share USV as an investor.

foobarbazetc 2 days ago  replies      
No shit, nmongo.

Anyone with half a brain can go look at the MongoDB codebase and deduce that it's amateur hour.

It's start up quality code but it's supposed to keep your data safe. That's pretty much the issue here -- "cultural problems" is just another way of saying the same thing.

Compare the code base of something like PostgreSQL to Mongo, and you'll see how a real database should be coded. Even MySQL looks like it's written by the world's best programmers compared to Mongo.

I'm not trying to hate on Mongo or their programmers here, but you've basically paid the price for falling for HN hype.

Most RDBMSes have been around for 10+ years, so it's going to take a long, long time for Mongo to catch up in quality. But it won't, because once you start removing the write lock and all the other easy wins, you're going to hit the same problems that people solved 30 years ago, and your request rates are going to fall to memory/spindle speed.

Nothing's free.

nomoremongo 2 days ago 5 replies      
Pastebin author here.

Refutations are going to fall into two categories, it seems:

1. Questioning my honesty

2. Questioning my competence

Re #1, I'm not sure what you imagine my incentive to lie might be. I honestly just intended this to benefit the community, nothing more. I'm genuinely troubled that it might cause some problems for 10gen, b/c, again, Eliot & co are nice people.

Re #2, all I can do is attempt to reassure you we're generally smart and capable fellows. For example, these same systems exhibit none of these problems, and we're sleeping quite well through the night, on the new database system they've moved to. I'll omit the name of the database system just so there is no conflict that might undermine my integrity and motives (see #1).


(also, there are a few comments about "someone unknown/new around here"... trust me, I'm not new or unknown. I'm a regular.)

bbulkow 2 days ago 2 replies      
Disclosure: I wrote a product called Citrusleaf, which also plays in the NoSQL space.

My focus in starting Citruseaf wasn't features, it was operational dependability. I had worked at companies who had to take their system offline when they had the greatest exposure - like getting massive load from the Yahoo front page (back in the day). Citrusleaf focuses on monitoring, integration with monitoring software, operations. We call ourselves a real-time database because we've focused on predictable performance (and very high performance).

We don't have as many features as mongo. You can't do a javascript/json long running batch job. We'll get around to features - right now we're focused on uptime and operational efficiency. Our customers are in digital advertising, where they have 50,000 transactions per second on terabyte datasets (see us at ad:tech in NYC this coming week).

Here's a performance analysis we did: http://bit.ly/rRlq9V

This theory that "mongo is designed to run on in-memory data sets" is, frankly, terrible --- simply because mongo doesn't give you the control to keep you in memory. You don't know when you're going to spill out of memory. There's no way to "timeout" a page cache IO. There's no asynchronous interface for page IO. For all of these reasons - and our internal testing showing page IO is 5x slower than aio; the reason all professional databases use aio and raw devices - we coded Citrusleaf using normal multithreaded io strategies.

With Citrusleaf, we do it differently, and that difference is huge. We keep our indexes in memory. Our indexes are the most efficient anywhere - more objects, fea. You configure Citrusleaf with the amount of memory you want to use, and apply policies when you start flowing out of memory. Like not taking writes. Like expiring the least-recently-used data.

That's an example of our focus on operations. If your application use pattern changes, you can't have your database go down, or go so slowly as to be nearly unusable.

Again, take my comments with a grain of salt, but with Citrusleaf you'll have great uptime, fewer servers, a far less complex installation. Sure, it's not free, but talk to us and we'll find a way to make it work for your project.

electic 2 days ago 3 replies      
We extensively tested this inside Viralheat with a write heavy load of over 30,000 writes per second and basically it failed our test. It is not robust for the analytics world is the conclusion we came to. Though, I hope it gets better one day...it has potential.
davidw 2 days ago 0 replies      
People seem to be jumping on a lot of the NoSQL stuff for no good reason. You can get a lot of mileage out of something like Postgres or Mysql, and they work pretty well for a lot of things. Ok, if you get huge, you might have to figure out something else, but that's a good problem to have. On the other hand, if you've lost all your data, you're not going to get huge.

I had to use MongoDB recently, and I wasn't very pleased with it. It wasn't really appropriate for the project, which had data that would have fit better in a relational DB.

ericflo 2 days ago 1 reply      
But it does 8,000,000 operations per second! http://www.snailinaturtleneck.com/blog/2010/05/05/with-a-nam...

(Sorry, possibly excessive snark. That said, I think that blog post is a good example of one of this pastebin author's points: at least historically, benchmark numbers have been a big focus for Mongo developers.)

christkv 2 days ago 1 reply      
A story from a newly created account by a person nobody can verify is real and asking other people to submit his rant (to gain what? credibility to his story?)

nomoremongo 4 hours ago | link
I'd appreciate if someone would submit this story for me.

What's up with the trolling here. Who are you and what company do you work for that has had all those problems you mentioned ?

donpark 2 days ago 1 reply      
Burden of proof is on 10gen, not frustrated customers. This post is believable enough for me to avoid using MongoDB for write-heavy apps.
mtkd 2 days ago 0 replies      
Anyone using Mongo currently has to be aware there are likely to be some teething issues as it is very new technology.

I haven't used it in production (yet), but I would have no fear of using it today. I would run regular consistency monitoring and validation around critical data just like I do with our SQL databases.

I'm willing to take my part of the pain and inconvenience in making technology like this stable.

You could have written this about any adolescent SQL server BITD. All the tools you use today had to go through this process.

For me Mongo is awesome and getting more awesome. Mongo and technology like it is the reason I still get excited about writing new apps.

woodhull 2 days ago 0 replies      
I couldn't agree more with this analysis, with the added addition that the single threaded nature of the JS interpreter can also cause really bad & unexpected performance things to happen.

Most of the people who are excited about mongo, have never used it in a high volume environment, or with a large dataset. We used it for a medium sized app at my last employer, with paid support from 10gen, and everyone on the project walked away wishing we had stayed with a more mature data store.

Of course things work well when traffic is low, everything fits in memory, and there are no shards.

chx 2 days ago 1 reply      
This rant is completely outdated and it shows: "pre transaction log" "fixed this in 1.8". You realize MongoDB is at 2.0 now and the transaction log was introduced in 1.8, right? Yes, MongoDB had problems but since the transaction log it's pretty good. I have used MongoDB since early 1.3 and I knew what I was doing and we never lost a bit of data. There is a tradeoff -- while MongoDB handled write load easily that a MySQL box with 2-3 times the RAM , I/O capability couldn't at all we understood the bleeding edge of using MongoDB back then. We have, for example, kept a snapshot slave which shot itself down often, took an LVM snapshot then continued replicating. Never needed those.

We have meticulously kept a QA server pair around and the only time when I have ran into a data loss problem was when I have hosed one of those -- but only one and even the QA department could continue (and hosing that server was me not knowing that Redhat 5 had separate e4fsprogs and e2fsprogs, only partially MongoDB fault but now it works without O_DIRECT so even this would not be a problem any more) . Never understood for example how could foursquare get where they got to -- didnt they have a QA copy similarly?

openmosix 2 days ago 2 replies      
Well, I worked in Vodafone (and Nokia) in very large (laaarge) projects, serving ~50 milions users. Years ago, no hope for NoSQL, we used MySQL. We hit at least 10/20 bugs, solved by 'hotpatch' from Sun. So? I think as developers we should get used to bugs and patches. Should I write a post "don't use MySQL?". We also hit several bugs in the generational garbage collector. Stop using Java?
I don't feel the drama here.
davyjones 2 days ago 0 replies      
I would love to see a thorough approach in which such claims are actually shown and can be reproduced. This helps everyone immensely...from 10gen to people looking to adopt.
hendler 2 days ago 0 replies      
10gen might become a victim of it's own popularity. I have heard:

* Yes, playing with Mongo is playing with fire. Know what you are doing. We don't claim that you should use us as your only database.

* We're going to fix these issues soon. The beginning days of MySQL etc were also frightening, with Oracle and MS SQL Server admins warning of all the dangerous things that can happen.

If they confront their issues, I think it's just a matter of time before Mongo wins the NoSQL race. They have what matters most - good people, a brand, and great expectations from customers.

bitops 1 day ago 2 replies      
This post is unparalleled FUD. We use MongoDB in production and all the issues we've encountered have been either environment or configuration related.

There are plenty of things about MongoDB I don't like but this OP is a total coward. If you've got something to say, put your name on it and come out in the open.

This type of post is the worst of its "hiding behind Internet anonymity" kind.

And for the record, I don't think Oracle is behind this. They're confident in their Exadata offering and have little to gain by posting this kind of crap around MongoDB. Besides, Larry Ellison has never been afraid to openly taunt his competitors.

antimora 2 days ago 3 replies      
I was planning adopt MongoDB for my big project and this post puts some doubts. Is this true? Could anyone confirm or deny this?
itaborai83 2 days ago 0 replies      
Given the current discussion about MongoDB, I think that the following post is worth revisiting.


I'm not a Riak user, but I agree with Basho's analysis on this case.

jmspring 2 days ago 0 replies      
Somewhat off topic, but mongo recently came up in a design discussion. Some of the points here are intereting to consider/evaluate against the most recent version.

My question is, given Mongo and the other NoSQL solutions, has anyone come up with a comparison of strong and weak points across different application types? Feature lists really aren't always useful - as noted about things like code maturity, etc.

pwaring 2 days ago 1 reply      
"They just disappeared sometimes. Cause unknown."

If the cause is unknown, how can you blame it on a given piece of software?

js4all 2 days ago 1 reply      
Losing data is one of the most serious bugs. When I am using a DBMS in production, I have to rely on it 100%.
I believe the complains made could be real because MongoDB is highly optimized for speed. But, as long as there is no documented and maybe reproducible case, this post can't be taken for real.
benatkin 2 days ago 0 replies      
I feel a kind of social responsibility to flag this anonymous FUD.
itaborai83 2 days ago 0 replies      
I feel like a dick, but I have got to ask. Is it Disney? Disney is on both the couchbase and 10gen sites. Both sites mention that they are using their NoSQL solutions to power their social and online games. Couchbase powers Zynga and can arguably be considered the leader on this specific market. Am I close?
chrissanz 2 days ago 0 replies      
This article should be banned for lack of references and examples. For those of you looking to learn mongodb check this out http://www.mongodb.org/display/DOCS/Production+Deployments
MikeCampo 2 days ago 0 replies      
Very interesting. I recently worked on a little side project using MongoDB and I noticed during testing that some records would disappear at random. Glad to see this has happened to others. I suppose it's time to check out Redis.
brainless 2 days ago 1 reply      
Is there someone here in HN who has used MongoDB with large data sets, high concurrency application? Can someone else share some light? And maybe a more recent version of MongoDB...
blago 2 days ago 0 replies      
Sounds painfully familiar...
yaix 2 days ago 0 replies      
Some guy posted some unproven random claims on pastebin, and people take it that serious? "It must be true, I've seen it on the Internet!" 500+ upvotes? c'mon.
ryanfitz 2 days ago 0 replies      
I think MongoDB's biggest problem is people expect mongo to take care of all their scalability issues for them. In reality once you start hitting a certain scale you need to start rearchitecting your system, no datastore can automatically handle this for you, but perhaps mongoDB let you get a little bit bigger before this became a big issue.
latch 2 days ago 0 replies      
Am I the only one who's ever forgotten the where clause in an update or delete statement? For all the proof presented, for all we know that's the cause of their lost data.
zobzu 2 days ago 1 reply      
I've had similar performance in my use case (big joins and very large tables) using PostgreSQL (in my case) and disabling sync() to disk, and tuning the buffers, as with the various NoSQL I tried.

It seems to me that NoSQL does not really bring speed. Just scalability and a different model. Hopefully most of them don't lose data at random. PG certainly doesn't, even with sync() off.

I have not tested the scalability of PG.

Encryptor 2 days ago 1 reply      
This is textbook projecting. The team deployed an immature database and tried to push its limits, and now they're saying: "it sucks!". Sure, a 2 year-old database is the problem, not your ability to make architectural decisions. Sounds like someone is looking for a scapegoat. They took a risk and failed and this is just a poor way of coping with it.
It's OK to publish your experiences on your blog (which they did a few days ago). It's NOT OK to go around the Internets publishing "anonymous" articles about how MongoDB sucked for you, as if no one will see what you did there. That's just defamation, folks.

On a side note, we also looked at MongoDB and, after running a few tests, we concluded that it is a glorified key-value pair storage. That said, we did use it in a few small-scale projects and it works great.

The bottom line: choose the right tool for the job and don't bitch about the tools when you fail.

nmongo 1 day ago 1 reply      
DISCLAIMER: I submitted this story and it is in fact a hoax that has gone too far, you got trolled, truly frightening how gullible most of you are. DO NOT BELIEVE EVERYTHING YOU READ ON THE INTERNET!
tlogan 1 day ago 0 replies      
We are all engineers and MongoDB is open source. Maybe the easiest way to evaluate the project is to review the source code. This will give at least some idea about quality of MongoDB - of course MongoDB can still be a great product even if code is not written well but it is important indicator.

What is your comment about code written? Is it maintainable? Is it modular? Doe s it seem well written?

rshm 2 days ago 0 replies      
Not sure how MongoDB deals with writes in recent versions. It used to leave everything blindly in control of mmap implementation of OS.
mark_l_watson 2 days ago 0 replies      
Yes, if people are sing MongoDB for applications requiring ACID, it is probably not the best fit. However, there are many great use cases that MongoDB is a great fit for, sometimes characterized by needing a lot of read slaves for complex analytics, where data loss is not a lose-the-company proposition, rapid prototyping, etc. I just ported a Java GWT + Objectify appengine application to run on an EC2 with MongoDB and it was shockingly easy to do. Also, you an give up some write performance for increased data safety.

MongoDB (along with PostgreSQL, RDF data sotres, and sometimes Neo4J) is solidly in my preferred tool set.

jtchang 2 days ago 0 replies      
I have never used MongoDB in production but have thought about it. To me though it is just another architectural decision that you need to base around risk and reward.

MongoDB is awesome at certain things. But it is still not at a tried and true level as say PostgreSQL or MySQL.

I am skeptical of the article but only because it is all too easy to fault new projects. However I would be curious to know 10gen's development practices as compared to say Postgres or SQLite (I have heard awesome things about SQLite's development testing).

rfurlan 2 days ago 0 replies      
I just recently published an article describing my experience migrating from SQL Server to MongoDB, you can read it here: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=3203601

I agree with the author that MongoDB is green, maybe not quite ready for prime time yet. All things considered, I realize we took a risk by switching and while I am quite happy with MongoDB, I do worry that at some point we will experience a failure condition we might not be able to recover from.

xxqs 2 days ago 1 reply      
I wonder why nobody mentions that MongoDB supports x86 CPU architecture ONLY.
It keeps unaligned data in its memory structures, and all operations are explicitly little-endian.
So, no chance to get it running on any ARM, MIPS, PowerPC or SPARC
captaincrunch 2 days ago 1 reply      
The largest website on the internet uses MySQL, why can't you? (Facebook uses MySQL)
bdarfler 2 days ago 0 replies      
Yah, MySql 4.0 sucked, thats why I don't use 5.5 now. Come on.
HarrietTubgirl 2 days ago 0 replies      
If it's new and you are pushing its boundaries, you will get screwed. Always. This goes for new major releases of MySQL just as well as MongoDB.
marcf 2 days ago 2 replies      
Are we sure this isn't an Oracle employee?
aritraghosh007 2 days ago 1 reply      
Is this actually true ?
Someone from 10gen needs to confirm and accept it ,if they are.
belbn 2 days ago 1 reply      
Can we make Google's filesystem mainstream?
dblock 2 days ago 0 replies      
Remember Ingres? Me neither.
ricardobeat 2 days ago 0 replies      
10gen's order seems to be, #5, then everything else in some
order. #1 ain't in the top 3.

So, #5, #1, then the other 3 in some order :)

justin_vanw 2 days ago 0 replies      
Shhhhhhhh! As someone who works at startups, the fact that my competitors would trust something like MongoDB with their data is awesome.
Missing Person - Tracy Williams, Technorati Employee technorati.com
521 points by sbisker  2 days ago   56 comments top 14
codedivine 2 days ago 1 reply      
Technorati people, in case you are reading this, it might help to post more than one photo of her. Sometimes, it is hard to remember or recognize faces, when you have only seen one photo.

I hope everything turns out all right.

veyron 2 days ago 2 replies      
"Tracy was last seen at 7:45pm PDT on Wednesday evening at the Whitehorse Bar located in San Francisco." <-- does the bar have a security camera, and if so has anyone reviewed the footage from that night?

"After leaving the bar, we believe Tracy texted a friend to let him know she was going home." <-- Has anyone asked her friends if she sent them a text message that night?

(these should be obvious, but there was no indication, from what I've read, that these avenues were explored)

sbisker 2 days ago 0 replies      
I saw this on Twitter and thought perhaps HN could help get the word out, particularly around downtown San Francisco where she was last seen. My thoughts and prayers go out to her, her family and her colleagues.
rsiqueira 1 day ago 1 reply      
Tracy Williams WAS FOUND:

"November 7, 2011 at 9:15am PDT - We are relieved to share that Tracy Williams is indeed alive and safe at a local hospital. We want to thank everyone who helped spread the word about Tracy's disappearance."


adrianwaj 2 days ago 6 replies      
Does a product exist combining a panic button with a gps (or mobile location) that links to police, ambulance or fire. 1 click police, 2 clicks ambulance, 3 clicks fire... sort of thing?
leahculver 2 days ago 1 reply      
Has anyone checked the local hospitals already?

Tracy could have left the bar like her co-workers assumed, only to have some sort of medical emergency (heart attack? Seizure? Hit by a car?).

click170 2 days ago 1 reply      
If someone could get her to leave with them without her making a fuss, I'd suspect someone she already knows. Assuming she did leave with someone.
cpeterso 2 days ago 3 replies      
The FBI should use Facebook and RSS to crowdsource manhunts. California has "Amber Alerts" for abducted children that are announced on TV, radio, and highway signs. But the FBI might be able to get more eyeballs Facebook and RSS feeds announcing with photos of missing people or wanted criminals. They could have national, state, and local feeds so people can choose fewer but closer announcements.
geuis 2 days ago 1 reply      
Assuming that she has a smartphone, has anyone checked to see her last known gps position?
swah 1 day ago 0 replies      
Why the quotes on "smoke"?
krookoo 2 days ago 0 replies      
This doesn't sound good. :-(
malbs 2 days ago 0 replies      
I hope she is ok and has just gone walkabout. Even then, a courtesy "I'm ok" call goes a hell of a long way.
PaulHoule 2 days ago 0 replies      
Wow, technorati is still around? That's news.
Do a barrel roll - Google Search google.com
479 points by ot  5 days ago   104 comments top 36
ot 5 days ago 5 replies      
Note the bug: "do a barrel roll" skyrocketed at the top of the suggestion lists for "do a ".

So if you have Google Instant enabled, just typing "do a " will instant-search "do a barrel roll" and trigger the effect.

I'm sure this wasn't intended.

mekoka 5 days ago 3 replies      
I just realized that such popular memes, contribute in eating away at Internet Explorer's market when they don't work on it. People who for months could not be bothered to even just upgrade to IE7 or 8, are now more than willing to download and install another browser, just to see google "do a barrel roll".
ck2 5 days ago 0 replies      
revert to pre-2009 layout

drats it didn't work


lutorm 5 days ago 1 reply      
Nice. That's more of an aileron roll, though. A barrel roll has an accompanying corkscrew motion of your velocity vector along with the rotation.
antichaos 5 days ago 1 reply      
Also try "stationary" on Google. That easter egg works on all browsers.
johnnytee 5 days ago 0 replies      

search for "askew" does the same thing as "tilt"

mdda 5 days ago 1 reply      
I'm assuming this is being noticed because of the recent ANA plane aerobatics : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aunUFwyxsF0 spoiler : plane landed safely).
hackernews 5 days ago 0 replies      
no such luck for "do the dougie".
hammock 5 days ago 0 replies      
Jeff_29 5 days ago 0 replies      
Coolest barrel roll in history http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-vHiYA6Dmws

I know this isn't the original intent of the post, but this occured at a make or break time in Boeing's history and turned out to be a launching point for the company. If anything had gone wrong, Boeing would probably not exist today,

Interesting lesson in risk taking.

EwanToo 5 days ago 2 replies      
Only works in Chrome or Firefox, pretty fun :
hkmurakami 5 days ago 0 replies      
Happy to find that there's still a little humor left in the corporate world :)

It's probably a good publicity/user-karma boost that this has come out at this timing, right after the recent debacles with Gmail, Google Reader, and the iOS Gmail app. Definitely leaves me feeling warm and fuzzy inside!

TechStuff 5 days ago 0 replies      
a list of known Google Easter Eggs:
lanstein 5 days ago 1 reply      
Would be a good keyword to advertise on, startups!
sampsonjs 5 days ago 0 replies      
If you haven't seen it already, this is relevant. And hilarious: http://www.collegehumor.com/video/5633958/star-fox-in-iraq
thyrsus 5 days ago 1 reply      
Not working for me; I thought it might be https everwhere or the google https search option, but turning those off didn't produce the effect. Firefox 3.6.23 on Fedora 14.
moreorless 5 days ago 0 replies      
The attention that this is getting is absolutely ridiculous. Do we not have anything better to do? :(
kentf 5 days ago 0 replies      
why is this news.
roryokane 5 days ago 2 replies      
For those who aren't using a compatible browser: right after the page loads, a screenshot of your view of the page rotates 360° as if in a barrel roll. The page is then a normal, functioning Google results page.
moskie 5 days ago 0 replies      
This made me choke on my coffee.
bengl 5 days ago 0 replies      
You can make this happen on any arbitrary page, just for fun.


ojeffmo 5 days ago 0 replies      
for those of you looking for a video:


ColinWright 5 days ago 1 reply      
Not working for me: Firefox 3.6.23 on Ubuntu.
diamondhead 5 days ago 1 reply      
Google's new design is completely blocked to the users of non-popular web browsers. As a user of my own fork of a webkit based browser, I only see the old Google since Google thinks that my web browser is not modern.
bawigga 5 days ago 0 replies      
And wasn't there just a post about easter eggs being a thing of the past? Thanks Google for adding a little bit of fun to your product!
pcestrada 5 days ago 0 replies      
I was hoping 'do a loop' did something as well.
useflyer 5 days ago 0 replies      
This technology was demo'ed by SpotCapitan.com on HN a few months ago. So is Google ripping off cutting-edge front-end engingeering from startups now?
swah 5 days ago 2 replies      
No money for labs, but this...
entangledvyne 4 days ago 0 replies      
jasonlgrimes 5 days ago 0 replies      
Love it!
james-fend 5 days ago 0 replies      
Works on my iPhone.... niccceee
VanceRefrig 5 days ago 0 replies      
Thats super cool!
savrajsingh 5 days ago 1 reply      
Is this Google's response to Siri? :)
deano 5 days ago 1 reply      
gerrit 5 days ago 5 replies      
Nice, but I wonder how much money Google are losing delivering the animation code for this easteregg with every results page, on the off-chance that someone types this query.
I couldn't find any sign of dynamic code loading in a cursory glance in the web inspector.
Google Search's source code is otherwise ruthlessly optimised for bandwidth savings.
Stop motion video shot over 2 years with 288,000 jelly beans petapixel.com
471 points by swombat  5 days ago   97 comments top 18
pitdesi 5 days ago 5 replies      
This is the type of thing that you wouldn't have done 10 years ago because noone would have found out about it.

Reminds me of the Amazing Honda Accord commercial - the Cog... Rube Goldberg machine all done without CGI (5 months of pre-work, then 605 takes until they got to one that didn't screw up somewhere)
They did a lot of work that they could've avoided with CGI, but where would the fun be?
Making of video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kh4zWeUDW-E

Another good one that is similar in the sense that they went through a whole lot of trouble is the Sony Bravia commercial
They did a lot of work that they could've avoided with CGI, but where would the fun be?

BTW, it seems Jelly Belly was in on the fun a little bit... http://www.jellybelly-uk.com/bean-world/page/?id=47
At the very least, I'd imagine that she didn't pay for the jelly beans

thom 5 days ago 2 replies      
As a cautionary tale about the waxing and waining relevance of various online properties, remember that Kina Grannis was more or less launched on Digg:


invisiblefunnel 5 days ago 2 replies      
The behind the scenes video shows details of the process. I found it fascinating: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cIH4MJAC2Tg
hmigneron 5 days ago 1 reply      
The fact that they had to finish shooting the whole thing to have something worth showing makes this even more impressive. They couldn't just stop halfway through and say good enough.

For nearly two years they kept working on it and she couldn't really put on any weight, couldn't really age too much, etc. It really is dedication!

dholowiski 5 days ago 5 replies      
No MVP here - they went all the way the first time. Be sure to switch to 1080p and go full screen, it's breathtaking. But it makes me wonder, what is the ROI on this? Will they really make back the wages of 30 people for 22 months, and how long will it take?
kpozin 5 days ago 2 replies      
Very impressive video.

The grammar nerd in me is also impressed how, for two years, no one managed to notice that the repeated phrase "we'll lay," although it rhymes in context, uses completely the wrong verb. (It should be "we'll lie.")

joshfraser 4 days ago 0 replies      
I think the beauty comes from the simplicity of it. To a casual viewer, it's just a cute music video. It's when you realize the amount of work and attention to detail that went into it, that you have the emotional reaction that says "wow, they really cared about this". It's the same reaction I have with many of Apple's products. They look simple from a distance, but when you zoom in, you see a team of 30 people hand placing jelly beans to make something beautiful.
grusk 4 days ago 1 reply      
See also:

Coldplay - Strawberry Swing (shot on sidewalk chalk)


Maxmaber Orkestar - Malinkovec Valzer (500 People in 100 Seconds - stop-motion video is a movie within a movie)


Clarika - Bien Mérité (French stop-motion video with photographs)


queensnake 4 days ago 1 reply      
This is what we'll be reduced to doing, post-Singularity.
MichaelApproved 5 days ago 1 reply      
"22 months, 1,357 hours, 30 people"

If you consider that big budget music videos can have ~100 people working on it (casting, production crew and post crew) each putting in at least 12-16 hours, this falls right in line with the amount of people hours that's typical for a music label.

jwcacces 4 days ago 1 reply      
I would have gotten a robotic pick and place machine and sped that up a bit. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v5eR0eHknZk&t=0m18s
georgieporgie 5 days ago 0 replies      

Not to detract from it, but is the 1,357 hours combined man-hours, or start-to-finish hours?

antirez 4 days ago 0 replies      
It does not look better to what an algorithm or alike could have done with a lot less efforts.
jquery 4 days ago 0 replies      
Came for the jelly beans, stayed for the song.
suivix 4 days ago 0 replies      
Two years of hard work to get about the equivalent page views of nudity. It must have felt rewarding for them though.
jaequery 5 days ago 1 reply      
2 years ... for this? and people are complaining about the economy?
freemarketteddy 5 days ago 3 replies      
See this post is a testament to Hacker News's decline.Not because I think that post doesnt have something interesting or intellectually arousing to say.It absolutely does.I create things too and I understand the importance of creation especially when it takes two years to make something.

The reason is because of how this post got on the front page of Hacker News.In normal circumstances I can bet that this post maybe would get like three votes in five hours.But in this case the poster is "swombat" who has a huge following on twitter and a lot of them are hnusers.I noticed an instant upsurge in votes after he posted this on his twitter page.

Another reason is because "swombat" himself is also one of the top Hacker News users and when people see his name there chances of upvoting increases significantly.This I think is actually fair and he probably deserves a little more attention than the average hnuser.But what I vehemently object to is the use of twitter to gain traction.

Here are some possible solutions that I can think of.

1) If a post gets a lot of traffic from twitter and other such social media websites ,it should work against it in the rank calculation algorithm.

2) Users be advised to not use their twitter or facebook following to gain traction on HackerNews.

ScottBurson 5 days ago 2 replies      
Technically, of course, this is time-lapse video, not stop-motion. Stop-motion slows things down (hence the name); time-lapse speeds them up, which is clearly what's happened here.

Terminological pickiness aside, this is very cool. I wasn't aware of Kina Grannis before, and probably would have stayed that way but for this video, so it seems to be accomplishing its purpose.

Edited to add: the song is pretty, too.

My offer to Google Reader fury.com
401 points by aaronbrethorst  6 days ago   97 comments top 24
magicalist 5 days ago 4 replies      
I'm a long time, heavy user of Reader, but as a disclaimer: my usage consists of the letters j, k, m, and v, so I'll admit that I don't care at all about the lost social features, and my short cuts and usage patterns remain unchanged.

This article seems no different than any other of the reader articles submitted in the last few days (especially the one by the other former googler that worked on reader).

If his offer were serious because he really really cared about the product, he would have sent an email.

If his offer were serious because he really really cared about other users, he would have posted some user scripts (which lots of others have already done).

ianterrell 5 days ago 4 replies      
Dear God in Heaven please let them take him up on it. Now that I'm a few days into the new redesign my workflow has become 1. Read RSS feeds. 2. Research RSS feed readers.
confusedreader 5 days ago 6 replies      
Maybe I'm missing something, but I don't really understand the huge community backlash to the Reader rework. I spend hours in reader every day, and it wasn't until they added in G+ that it actually became easy to share.The addition made it so I could share within a community I was already involved in rather then a few people in some disconnected Reader community. From my perspective they actually removed the useless and unnecessary functions that made the old reader impossible to use to actually share content. I see it as a good first step, and when G+ actually has a solid API to build upon, they can evolve Reader to use it.

Also, rabble rabble rabble too much white space rabble rabble rabble. I tried some of the community created userscripts to see if the "UI improvements" people were making actually helped and in the large part they don't as the people writing them don't seem to understand UI design.

microcentury 5 days ago 4 replies      
It really is astonishing how much bile and vitriol can be caused by a UI change. I guess it's a subset of the general dislike of change most people have. And it's also amazing how absolutely certain some people are that their own view is the right one.

I'm not a fan of the new UI yet, but I suspect in a few weeks I will have forgotten what the old one was like.

Swizec 5 days ago 3 replies      
For me the only problem with the new Reader is that too much space is wasted on the header thing and controls at the top. Before the redesign my articles would come up to almost the top of the browser window, now the top is uncomfortably low on my screen.

I love everything else from the redesign, it's cleaner and generally takes up less space but the design should be more about the content and less about Reader.

djhworld 5 days ago 0 replies      
Publicly deriding the changes (that a lot of people have put a lot of work into) and then saying "Hey, pay me, I could do better!" seems a little arrogant to me.

From Google's perspective I wouldn't rehire this guy.

cavalcade 5 days ago 5 replies      
Wow this is a bit naive and egotistical. I HATE the new google reader but to think that it takes ONE man outside of Google to fix their product is downright silly. The redesign was made in the context of Google's near-future plans to ignore that is ridiculous. A more constructive move is to provide a short checklist of things to re-consider or build/recommend a competing product. Its not like Google cant improve it more soon to find a good middle-ground.
rsanchez1 5 days ago 0 replies      
Is it really so bad? I would never even have noticed: I use Google Reader exclusively through client apps on my phone and tablet. I would never have noticed because these apps function today the same they did last week, last month, even last year. Pick a client app you like and stick with it. If it's made by a good developer the app will keep up with API changes. It could only break if Google decides it doesn't want to allow unofficial access to the Reader API anymore and doesn't provide an official API.
porterhaney 5 days ago 0 replies      
I miss most the confined, small but important social network I had within G.reader. I wish, in addition to a better UX the follow/subscribe to others function was imported into the circles concept and reintegrated into G.reader.
joebadmo 6 days ago 0 replies      
Fantastic, constructive, mostly positive response to a somewhat frightening problem. I hope Google takes him up on it.
jacoblyles 5 days ago 0 replies      
The new Google Docs was just as bad, but at least they gave us the option of using the classic design.
dorian-graph 5 days ago 1 reply      
Problem? Perhaps for this fellow and some others. They might might not be aware there are those who don't care for the social side of Google Reader and use it as a place to keep RSS feeds in sync.
taitems 5 days ago 0 replies      
I hate to be that guy, but you need to put your line-height where your mouth is.

.entry_content needs to be 1.5em at the least.

west1737 5 days ago 1 reply      
I was pretty excited about Google moving sharing to Google+ as I like Google+ and I think making it easy to share will be crucial to success.

That being said, I hate the new Google Reader. I used it primarily as sharing tool, and the new sharing makes that more difficult. I think two fixes would make this better:

1) Being able to share easily with different circles. While I might be okay sharing publicly something interesting, there are plenty of less-than-appropriate funny articles that I only want to share with a few friends. This is one of the strengths of Google+, and it'd be great if Reader could take advantage of this.

2) Being able to see shared articles from other people. I understand they want to increase traffic to Google+, but this was always a great feature of Reader. In effect, each friend that used reader became their own feed. It'd be great to still have this feature and even though you're decreasing traffic to plus.google.com, you'd be increasing the overall use of Google+

laserDinosaur 5 days ago 0 replies      
All I will say about the redesign is: Jesus christ so much WHITE. My eyes BURN. BUUUURN.
obtino 5 days ago 1 reply      
If anyone's interested in an alternative - here's one:
gord 5 days ago 2 replies      
Why not just launch a startup and build a superb reader that solves the problem and looks nice?

Wouldn't it be better to have the freedom to implement your own version of what the ultimate Reader is, especially in newer tech [ websockets, node.js, realtime updates, drag to rearrange widgets .. whatever ]

Id love someone to make a nice reader [and a nice mail groups] web app, Id enjoy working on these myself. It must be more efficient to build these things outside of Google, as a startup.

An RSS reader with nice UI, realtime update, location sensitivity, smart filters, and unobtrusive social features .. you had me at RSS :]

GiraffeNecktie 5 days ago 0 replies      
I wouldn't hire any "designer" who center aligns (or right aligns or right justifies) his body text. Especially not for an application that is focused on reading.
watmough 5 days ago 2 replies      
Someone at Google needs to get a Goddamn clue and look at a UI design manual.

What the hell are they thinking?

Has Larry let the MBAs get out of control? There's clearly something wrong, as no sensible, actual user of these products surely could believe that this mess is an improvement?

This is on a par with the del.icio.us mess.

ThaddeusQuay2 5 days ago 0 replies      
http://kirbybits.wordpress.com/2011/10/21/wherein-i-try-to-e... Wherein I try to explain why Google Reader is the best social network created so far
adrianwaj 5 days ago 0 replies      
My only tip would be to make standard this plugin, make it look right, and have it remember its settings on a feed-per-feed basis: https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/khbjahpecnkenngkid... (Super Full Feeds)

note - the Chrome Web Store has also taken a usability hit, in my view. YouTube was done fairly well, and I think that team should be moved across to do other products, or train other teams about what and how to do things.

devnetfx 5 days ago 0 replies      
Currently I have to use "#12C" to make links blue so that I can actually read the posts! Reader UI is not consistent in that both G+ and Google uses some blue for the links and heading where as reader just uses black.
udfalkso 4 days ago 0 replies      
I've resurrected http://FeedEachOther.com if anyone is looking for a nice, social feed reading experience.
LVB 5 days ago 0 replies      
I will put my current projects on hold to ensure that Google Reader keeps its place as the premier news reader, and raises the bar of what a social newsreader can be.

That's very nice, but I think 'git checkout -f PRE_POOCH_SCREW' would probably work just as well.

Programmers' salaries at Google $250k (and up) jacquesmattheij.com
392 points by llambda  2 days ago   261 comments top 45
patio11 2 days ago  replies      
HN has a curious relationship to money some of the time.

a) Many of us watched our classmates go into management consulting, investment banking, finance, medicine, law, etc. These are all fields where $250k is not exactly outlandish for a 29 year old.

b) We have a lot of friendly, accessible fellow posters who write computer code and are financially very successful.

c) We talk about $X million valuations and $YY million acquisitions and $Z billion IPOs the way catering company owners discuss the price of tomatoes.

d) We have heard many credible people complain of how difficult it is to hire and retain engineers. So difficult, in fact, that they'd pay $10k+ just for an introduction or $50k+ for an actual placement.

e) We understand incentive structures and equity grants exist.

f) We routinely read industry news like "Google and Facebook in heated war for talent", "The going rate for an acquisition-to-hire is $1 million per engineer", "Four large technology firms were engaged in a gentlemen's agreement to conspire against their employees until the government told them it was cartelicious", "Productivity per engineer is going through the roof", "Company Z supports Q00,000 paying customers per engineer", "Efforts of individual engineers have succeeded in adding millions to billions of dollars of value to some companies", etc etc etc, and generally seem to be at least as savvy as C-students in Microecon 101.

and yet

g) Talk of engineers receiving wages above some magic threshold is met with disbelief, scorn, and a wee bit of jealousy.

It isn't hugely interesting to me what any particular person at a particular company is making, but is $250k an outlandish total compensation number? No, it is clearly achievable. Do you have to be programming demigod to achieve it? No, compensation moves along with several different axes and programming ability isn't the main one. Is this anecdote a freak of nature which we'll never see again? No, signs point that this will become increasingly more common over time.

cletus 2 days ago 1 reply      
Let me add some perspective to this as both an engineer and a Google employee.

The first thing I'll say is this: people lie about their incomes. They even do this anonymously (Glassdoor, etc). Not that I'm calling (or even suggesting) this a lie but be very careful believing anyone's salary claims unless they show you an original offer letter, employment contract or a W-2.

I'm not even sure if they're simply bad at math, lying to themselves or lying to others. Whatever the case, they lie.

With respect to Glassdoor and similar sites, another problem is different people have different ideas of what "salary" means. Does it include stock? Actual bonuses? Expected bonuses?

Likewise it's a skewed sample. I kinda have my doubts that many principal/distinguished engineers have the inclination to accurately report their incomes on such sites.

That being said, my experience in the outside world is that your salary quickly tops out as a senior engineer, architect, whatever. The only way to increase it is to move into management.

While you can move into management at Google, you can go very far (in terms of career and compensation) being simply an engineer if you're good at what you do, get things done and have a lot of impact.

This compensation can take many forms (vested stock, base salary, annual and periodic bonuses, etc).

Also, Google realizes that after you've been here awhile you become increasingly valuable. This is true for an engineer no matter where you work. The cost to a company of replacing someone who has worked there for years is huge (both in recruitment costs and getting them up to speed). Google is simply the only company I personally have worked for that seems to both recognize this and build it into the compensation system.

This really is a great place to work. That alone attracts and retains an awful lot of people. You can also get to work on some very large problems and systems (another draw card). The fact that Google does (or can) pay you very well is just icing on the cake.

strlen 2 days ago 3 replies      
This is completely believable, if you take into account the bonus and the RSUS.

Suppose the actual salary is $130k and 30% (at least that's what I heard bonus): that already brings his salary up to $169k.

Now add RSUs: over the last five years, the average price had been ~$500/share. He will only need an RSU grant of ~650 RSUs (which sounds reasonable, especially if it was granted in 2008/2009 when the stock price was lower) to be at $250k total compensation. It could also be the case that his base is higher, but he is only getting 15%-20% bonus, or didn't get as many RSUs: there are many ways in which $250k is a believable figure.

Given the near certainty of Facebook's IPOs, what other private companies are trading at on Sharespost and SecondMarket, as well as valuations/prices of recently/upcoming technology IPOs, his total compensation is actually somewhat below what he could earn elsewhere.

Of course nobody working at Google (or Facebook, or any other serious technology company for that matter) is it in purely for the money: otherwise they simply wouldn't have be at the level of proficiency needed to be hired at such companies. Taking a route optimized for maximizing _current_ income is not the same as taking a route optimized for learning. _That_ is the reason engineers will always leave Google and join startups (much like Engineers left DEC/Sun/Yahoo/etc... to join Google), provided the startups are solving interesting technical problems. Unfortunately, right now there's a dearth of that.

Corollary: you'll never lure a Google-caliber engineer into an actual startup (as opposed to a "certain pay off" pre-IPO company) with talk of compensation. When I hear companies complaining about how difficult is it to hire "because" of Google/Facebook/Twitter/LinkedIn hiring all the engineers, they're almost always startups that are _not_ building interesting technology.

Another relevant point: there is no pressure for a software engineer to live a $250,000 lifestyle. An enterprise sales engineer I know once purchased a used BMW 540i. That seemed pointless to me: you can get better acceleration and handling in in a Japanese car, if really want a BMW you could get a new 3-series (getting better handling and acceleration than a 5-series, along with free maintenance for 50,000 miles). If you don't care for performance, you easily spend 1/3 as much money on a Honda Civic or Accord. However, his explanation made a lot of sense: he frequently needs to take clients out and an executive class car certainly makes an impression that can close a sale. I'd imagine the same goes for lawyers, management consultants and the like. A software engineer can easily live on $40,000 a year and save/invest the rest (for either a startup, early retirement or purchasing what he/she truly dreams of e.g., a Porsche 911 Turbo if they're really into performance cars).

raldi 2 days ago 3 replies      
Speaking as a Google engineer: There are three components to compensation here. Base salary, annual cash bonus, and stock grants. When he says he "takes home" $250k, he probably means the sum of all three. When the author says he thought the average Google salary was $130k, he might be referring just to the base.

Most of the comments in this thread are similarly ambiguous. If you post a comment, please be clear about whether you're talking about base or total compensation!

garethsprice 2 days ago 3 replies      
This is very dubious - the Glassdoor stats at http://www.glassdoor.com/Salary/Google-Salaries-E9079.htm have 1,500 entries for Software Engineers that max out at $190k and average $100k.

The position above, Senior Engineer, averages $130k.

There doesn't seem to be an incentive for 1,500 people to understate their earnings by 50%+ on an anonymous poll, especially a poll of engineers at one of those most engineering-centric companies in the world, where corrupting a dataset would likely feel akin to high treason.

Not inclined to trust second-hand information from one individual - sounds like they're either working at a much higher level than regular programmer, inflating their salary by including perks/stock/etc to make it seem higher, an extreme outlier, or just lying (people who tell their friends how much they earn in casual conversations also sound like the kind of people who would inflate that number).

googlethrowaway 2 days ago 5 replies      
As a point of data, I work at Google and am at a similar point in my career. My base salary a year ago was $136k, but there was a companywide 10% raise last winter, and now my base is $150k.

You get a cash bonus each year that's around 15% of your base, but if you're a superstar it can be double that, or if you're a total disappointment, it can be nothing. But if I perform as expected, that's another $22k.

Finally, I was granted 300 shares of stock that vest annually over four years. So each year, I get 75x the value of a Google share. GOOG is trading around $600, so that's another $45k.

So my total annual compensation this year will be $217k. If I were bragging to an ex-employer, I'd probably round up to "a quarter million" too. :)

SandB0x 2 days ago 0 replies      
It seems like we're missing some important information. I'd be interested to know what he did before going to Google - i.e. he didn't go there straight from university. So he worked for Jacques, then left and some unspecified stuff happened in the middle, and now he's at Google. What did he do in that period that made him so valuable?
nikcub 2 days ago 0 replies      
A few months ago I heard a first-hand account from within Google of a developer who was paid a $1M annual bonus, a team that divided a cash and stock bonus between them that was worth $1m+ to each team member, a PM who was paid $40M (and another who got ~$20M IIRC) not to go to Facebook and many other similar stories from Google that make $250k a year sound rather normal.

The theme is that Google has upped compensation in the past 12-18 months in order to retain top talent, with a lot of cash bonuses and base salary increases since competing against Facebook stock options with Google stock options isn't a fair fight any more.

Edit: apparently they also don't like developers talking to each other about this (although team bonuses are highlighted within the company), since they don't want developers interviewing with Facebook or another co. just for the purpose of getting some cash out of Google.

veyron 2 days ago 4 replies      
I have no clue why people are obsessing over 250K. If you care about money as a programmer, you are better off working at a hedge fund.

My programmer friends at hedge funds (all between 22 and 26) are averaging 500K salary with 100K bonuses (note: as a programmer, base is much higher but bonus is lower). So if google isn't paying those types of numbers to people, then money cannot be the only factor at play.

asknemo 2 days ago 0 replies      
I too recently lost a co-founder to a Valley company of similar size. Considering that he is very green, not exactly the best in our startup and that we are based somewhere with rather low pay for engineers in general, the offer he received was very hard to believe for everyone. It's hard to convince people to stay when those work in Valley could be as interesting without the stress and come with a big fat cheque.
dev_jim 2 days ago 1 reply      
I'm not sure why people find this so unbelievable.

The revenue per employee at GOOG is $1.2M in a very high margin business. That means some of their best developers, the guys whose products generate all the revenue, take home only 20% of the pie. In finance, this would be laughable.

Corporate America baffles me sometimes.

bluesmoon 2 days ago 0 replies      
I recently interviewed with several companies, and my experience shows that including bonuses, this isn't an unrealistic amount to expect. I had only one offer that ended up under $200K and that's only because the company didn't have a bonus program at the time. Many of the offers were much higher.

It was a really had choice to turn them down to start my own company, but I figure that being my own boss had some value, and being able to create something that was completely my own vision was more enticing. However, at the same time it gave me some confidence that if my startup didn't go according to plan, I did have a decent fallback.

maeon3 2 days ago 0 replies      
The 250k/year is to keep these best of breed programmers from leaving. No doubt their email inboxes are completely spammed with job offers. It's capitalism, supply and demand. If Google could get away with paying them minimum wage, they would. What prevents them from doing that is that their company will crash and burn in 6 months if they did.
shin_lao 2 days ago 3 replies      
$ 250,000 a year must include stocks, bonus, 401k and healthcare. As is, it doesn't match the insider information I have about Google's salaries.

Let's be realistic a minute, $ 250k/year is a lot of money.

mmahemoff 2 days ago 0 replies      
Google's one of the few big companies that's smart enough to let engineers' careers progress without forcing them over to a management track.
nateberkopec 2 days ago 2 replies      

During a boom time, wages rise. Wages are "sticky", meaning they lag behind the current state of the economy. Wages for programmers have really gone out the roof in the last few years due to lack of US computer science graduates, stingy visa provisions, etc.

In a few months, the funding wave will start to level off and dip, but wages will still be as high as ever. That's the crunch. Winter is coming.

EDIT: Think about it this way: in 2009, a 1M seed got you 10 engineers for a year. Now it gets you 6, maybe 7. Ouch.

rachelbythebay 2 days ago 3 replies      
At Google, Sr. SWE makes about $155K if female, about $180K if male. Base salary. Bonuses and refresher grants are also skewed accordingly.

These are 2011 numbers, personally researched.

keiferski 2 days ago 3 replies      
Another effect this will have on the start-up scene is that if you build your company in 'The Valley' that companies like Google will be competing with you for talent. You may have an upside from being in the SV eco-system in the first place, however you may find yourself paying a lot more for developers than if you were in a place where parties with pockets as deep as Google are rare.

Headquarters in Silicon Valley, development somewhere else might be a good strategy if you want to keep the burn rate under control.

Any thoughts on this? Can a small startup compete with the Googles and Apples in the Valley?

thibaut_barrere 2 days ago 1 reply      
A lot of people seem to find this incredible (from my twitter feed), but I don't, really.

I know a couple of people running brick-and-mortar shops (think: selling furniture etc), or lawyers, or other professions that earn just as much too.

Aloisius 2 days ago 0 replies      
I do not compete with Google for talent. Well, certainly not talent that I want anyway. Don't get me wrong, there are a lot of fine engineers at Google, but they aren't startup engineers.

Because I don't compete with Google for talent, I, nor anyone I know, pays engineers anywhere near $250k/year. Personally, I believe Google pays that much because they have to just to keep people from jumping ship.

If you're an academic, I believe Google may be the perfect place. Your meals are provided, there is always something intellectually interesting to research and the stress level is quite low. The fact is, nothing you do as an individual is going to make or break a $30B/year company and that has its pluses and minuses.

Luckily for me and other startup founders, there are a whole lot of talented engineers out there that don't find the slow, calm, quiet life particularly appealing.

wtfcisco 2 days ago 2 replies      
Maybe I can shed light on why some of us are "shocked" about this number, while others seem to think it's no big deal.

I work for Cisco, which is certainly not considered a Google or Amazon, these days, but still a fairly respectable place. I'm a software engineering doing embedded work for the last three years out of my BS in CS. I got hired on at $73k with 300 options (now underwater).

I have had consistently good reviews, though only given one promotion and one raise - with a whopping $79.5k in salary afterwards. A bonus is typically 6%, though this year I've got the highest rating possible, so I had a 12% bonus. I've been given RSUs once, at a value of about $10k, though the stock price dropped and they are sitting at around $5000 now.

So, my yearly compensation is about $90k or so, though they've jacked up our medical costs, taken away free drinks, raise prices in our cafeteria, taken away the home broadband reimbursment, etc etc since I've been here.

So, Anyone need an embedded engineer with a network security focus?

socratic 2 days ago 2 replies      
Ignoring passion, does it make sense economically to join a startup in the Bay Area?

It doesn't seem uncommon for very young (25+) top engineers in the Bay Area to be making anywhere from $175k/year -- 250k/year in base salary + bonus + equity. Over 30 years, that's a more or less guaranteed $5m -- 7.5m before taxes from a single income. (Ignoring things like promotions and older engineers possibly needing to retrain.)

If you're not an early employee at the next Google, or a co-founder of a to-be-talent-acquired company, is it likely at all that you will beat those numbers at a string of startups? And if you do beat those numbers at a startup, is it because you're basically doing the same work you would be doing at Google anyway, likely ads or infrastructure?

gwillen 2 days ago 1 reply      
This smells funny to me. From everything I saw when I worked at Google, Glassdoor had the salary range right. For all the guy's self-deprecation, if he was really making $250k, even after bonus and stock, he must have been promoted multiple times, or hired at a fairly high level.
brown9-2 2 days ago 0 replies      
It's really dangerous to take one anecdote as data.
rayiner 2 days ago 0 replies      
This is a good sign. Market salary for a 30 y/o corporate lawyer in NYC was north of $250k this year, and for a 30 y/o banker it was probably 1.5x-2x that. Yet Google makes more revenue per employee than any law firm or investment bank.

Professional salaries are a function of both objective factors (supply and demand), and subjective factors. Engineers have long had a disadvantage on the subjective side because it is difficult to quantize their contribution to the revenue of the company. Hopefully signs like this mean the perceptions are changing.

Like it or not, the Valley needs to pay more to attract top people. If you're a science/engineering major at a top school at the top of your class, how much would you be willing to give up to go into engineering? Prior to these recent salary spikes, you were looking at making $30k less to start versus finance, growing to $300k-$400k less by 30. It takes a lot of love and dedication to turn that down for what is at the end of the day just a another job.

ntoshev 2 days ago 4 replies      
Tl;dr: someone's ex-employee is now working at Google, says he gets $250k salary and he's under 30.

Why is this even on HN, let alone #1?

iradik 2 days ago 0 replies      
This article does not give a good feel of how smart this engineer really is. The programmer says he feels stupid at google. Well, truth is often the smartest people are often more humble!

Being the stupidest person among your peers is probably the best things you can do for yourself if you want to learn. Who better to learn from than a bunch of brilliant people!

there 2 days ago 0 replies      
takes home one quarter of a million dollars annually.

did you really mean "takes home" as in, $250k after taxes and social security?

anonsalaryqtion 2 days ago 2 replies      
I've been meaning to ask some of my founder friends about this.

I've casually heard that Google and Facebook have driven the starting salary for Bay Area developers up above $150k/yr for college kids with no experience.

I'm a talented 25 year-old web developer who jumped from contracting to full time a year ago. I received a $110k/yr (not eligible for bonus) offer. The people I asked at the time said it was a competitive salary and not worth negotiating.

Now I'm wondering if it's time to move on. I see boxes in on job applications for "expected annual salary" and I don't know what to put. I know the money you save when you're young is what allows you to retire/start a company/etc., and want to make sure I'm being paid competitively. At the same time, I don't want to misread the market and come across as out-of-touch on one of these apps.

Guys, what's the going rate for a talented front-end web developer in the Bay Area about 4 years out of school?

kabdib 2 days ago 0 replies      
For someone with ~ 10 years of experience who has a very good track record, I could see a total compensation package of that order.

Joe Shlub is not going to get this. But I've worked with very good developers (e.g., guys at Apple who were instrumental in making whizzy stuff happen in the Mac's graphics stack) who are worth this, and more.

tryitnow 2 days ago 2 replies      
This is a nice data point. But if you want to know the real deal, don't talk to fellow programmers. Talk to guys in finance who support the R&D function at tech firms. We know all and see all, everybody else except HR only sees data points. And are you seriously going to trust anybody from HR to interpret numbers?

My advice: Do this work because you love it. But negotiate aggressively. Programmers don't push as hard as other types of employees, there's no real cost to pushing on compensation, just don't be a jerk about it. Read books, blogs, etc on compensation negotiating tactics.

Bottom line: This compensation will not last and plans are already in the works to put an end to it. I will bet money that 2-3 years from now people will be wailing about the drop in programmer comp.

baddspellar 2 days ago 2 replies      
Does anyone know if they have an active program to cut the bottom performers? If not, I suspect they have quite a collection of overpaid mediocre programmers.

I worked for many years at a company that paid significantly higher than average salaries. Even with a program to cut the bottom 10% per year, we had quite a few people who were mediocre at best.

It's easier for a busy manager to hold onto the people they have than to hire and train new ones. Paying high salaries is an easy way to do that if you have the cash.

drumdance 2 days ago 0 replies      
I've heard this is part of the reason Google is expanding in non-SV offices. They can recruit someone right out of school, move him/her to Boulder or Portland or Austin, pay them less and not worry so much about Facebook stealing them.
vaksel 2 days ago 1 reply      
nothing is stopping these guys from coding something up after work/on the weekend. Sure it'll take twice as long to release a project, but it's a small price to keep getting $20K a month salary
feralchimp 2 days ago 0 replies      
The numbers in this comments thread are staggering.
teratau 2 days ago 0 replies      
I know profitable companies like Google, Microsoft, and Amazon typically offer you more options and stock grants (in addition to cash bonuses) at annual reviews or whatever.

Do (not yet profitable) startups do the same? From what I've heard, most don't offer bonuses in the form of options and stock grants, but this seems kind of weird to me. I can understand not offering cash bonuses if they're not yet profitable, but it seems like if I do a great job, I should get extra stock (since otherwise, basically the amount of stock I ever get is purely determined from my status when I joined, which could be much different from my status four years later).

codenerdz 2 days ago 0 replies      
I wonder how many of these non-Google $200K+ salaries are for developing in non-Java languages/frameworks
creativityhurts 2 days ago 1 reply      
'at Google I feel like I'm stupid most of the time'

Is that let's-pay-them-enough-not-to-leave-for-Facebook-even-if-they-don't-do-much strategy still on?

darylteo 1 day ago 0 replies      
Beginner level engineer - barely pushing 80k.

I'm working at the wrong place =(

dogfu 2 days ago 0 replies      
They have to. Some really talented engineers could re-imagine google search fairly easily. At this point, they have to pay them not to jump ship and become competitors. Google was both "the search engine" and "the best search engine". They are rapidly becoming a shopping site and "karma whores" have gamed their ranking algorithms. What you are looking for is no longer in the top 3 google results. I wouldn't be surprised if facebook or Apple took a run an their core business.
no4clipper 2 days ago 1 reply      
Could any engineer(with 1~3 years of experience) at Google NYC office share some income information? How's the pay at NYC Google generally compared with Mountain View?
barce 2 days ago 1 reply      
tl;dr There was a hasty generalization based on one dibious number made about Google salaries being higher than Glassdoor's poll-based estimate.
matheusalmeida 2 days ago 0 replies      
I don't know if one can easily find a similar compensation given from an European company... So, distinguished persons like Brian Kernighan or Rob Pike should earn at least 1M$ ?
CedriK 2 days ago 0 replies      
Hard to believe.
iradik 2 days ago 1 reply      
I don't understand the article, the author says the current googler was one of his "ex-employees" but he is "the guy he just met". Am I missing something here?
Eclipse launches new language to cut down Java boilerplate - Extend eclipse.org
387 points by dnene  4 days ago   220 comments top 49
sreque 3 days ago  replies      
I'm pretty disappointed in the discussion that has gone here. There's been so much argument over things that don't matter much in the end, like whether or not optional semicolons and parenthesis are a good thing. These things are so superficial! It makes me believe that few people appreciate what actually makes a language good or bad.

The fact that Xtend can be easily translated to Java source code is a big sign that it probably won't have any dramatic impact on your productivity. I think the comparison that has been made between Xtend and Coffeescript is most accurate. Xtend will likely be more pleasant to work in than Java, but it won't be a game changer in terms of what you can accomplish with it. Still many people are happy with Coffeescript, and if Xtend does thing right many people might be happy with it as well.

And, I'm pretty sure David Pollak is the only Scala evangelist who is worried Scala won't or shouldn't overtake Java. Everyone else seems to be committed to making Scala a better and better out-of-the-box experience, and there continues to be initiatives and commercial investment in improving things like IDE support, documentation, coding standards, training opportunities, and more.

dustingetz 4 days ago 2 replies      
scala's own evangelists are worried that scala won't overtake java: "...Scala (the language, the tool-chain, the ecosystem, nothing about Scala) is not mature enough to be a Java replacement and barring an order of magnitude or two more investment into Scala commercialization, I don't see Scala becoming a Java replacement"[1]. this is despite seeing twitter and foursquare adopt scala at scale. and Scala's team, Odersky et al, are credible. they've already been through the extend java approach[2]. it didn't work. i see no reason xtend will be any different.

  [1] http://www.infoq.com/articles/barriers-to-scala-adoption
[2] http://www.artima.com/scalazine/articles/origins_of_scala.html

anyway, i think the biggest problems with java are lack of first class functions, and no tools to enforce or nudge towards referential transparency. If Xtend helps with this, their page sucks because i skimmed it and i can't tell. verbosity and syntactic sugar seems to be the focus and incremental improvements typically aren't worth the inherent risk of changing pieces of our stack.

edit: xtend does seem to have first class functions per below, so my argument is weakened. i'll leave this post for discussion though since its going through some pretty wild vote swings.

  val predicate = [ Person person | "Hans" == person.name ]

Lewisham 4 days ago 2 replies      
This basically looks like Kotlin, except it explicitly compiles down to Java.

I'm not sure how I feel about this. Pre-Kotlin, I would have thought "hey, neat", but now it seems like we're on the verge of a number of half-supported half-hearted attempts at being Java.next, each with their own pros and cons. I wish that IDEA and Eclipse could have worked together on this.

hopeless 4 days ago 4 replies      
Oh, it looks like Xtend is to Java as Coffeescript is to Javascript. Although I'm sceptical about it compiling to Java source.

Java seems to be going through a period of experimentation, and alternative Java-like and JVM languages. Interesting times.

mbreese 4 days ago 2 replies      
You know that when even Eclipse is coming out with an updated JVM/Java.next language that Java proper has some major issues.
phzbOx 4 days ago 6 replies      
So, "Extend is for the Java Programmer". I'm curious to see how this will turn out as there are some pretty cool features in this language. (Particularly the multiple dispatch, closures and type inference). However, any Java programmers could have made the switch to Clojure or Scala to keep working with the JVM. But, Extend is different in that it generates Java code instead of JVM. So, I'm wondering who will use that.

- Java programmers who are still stuck with old version: Even though they'd dream about using this, I'm guessing that won't compile to java 1.4/1.5.. right?

- Java programmers who already switched to high level language on top of jvm (Scala, clojure, etc.): Maybe the few who are still with Eclipse would switch back.. but I guess the majority of programmers in this scenario wouldn't want to switch.

- Java programmers who refuse, for various reasons, to learn newer languages/tools: Since it's still Java.. and still in Eclipse, it might be easier for them to give it a try? But then, if they refused to switch to newer language, it might be surprising to see them switch to Extend.

I'm a bit puzzled (as you can see). Personally, if I have to use the jvm, I'd go with clojure all the way.

nyellin 4 days ago 8 replies      
Parenthesis for method invocations are optional, if the method does not take any arguments.

obj.compute instead of obj.compute()

That seems silly. The optional semicolons also irritate me.


I imagine a committee of Java developers, in a penthouse boardroom at Oracle, meeting with management to discuss Java's descent into disuse.

"Lets make Java more concise," suggests a senior developer.

"Yes! Lets get rid of the parenthesis like Ruby!"

"And the semicolons like Javascript."

All falls silent. Everyone stares at the programmer.

"But... But..." stammers an important board member. "I thought we needed those."

"We could make them optional."

"Yeah, we'll be multi-paradimatic like Perl!"

And so Extend was born. A cargo cult at its best.

ebiester 4 days ago 0 replies      
While it bothers me that it's Yet Another JVM Language when we have too many anyway, this is exactly what I want from a "blub" language. It adds the syntactic sugar that I care about, but since it compiles to java rather than the JVM, I can actually debug it, and stack traces make sense. It has IDE support.

In my personal projects, I love playing with the newest technology. However, when I'm in the enterprise, the point of the language is to communicate effectively to another programmer the intention of the code, because that code will outlive my time at the company. This looks perfect for that purpose.

bartonfink 4 days ago 4 replies      
This reminds me quite a bit of Groovy, just with a different compiler back end (outputting Java source instead of bytecode). However, this makes me wonder what the point is.
Groovy is more-or-less source compatible with Java already (a valid Java program is also a valid Groovy program), so I'm not sure what Extend brings to the table.
rapind 4 days ago 1 reply      
I wish they'd taken it just a little further and made surrounding brackets optional (using indentation instead). I.e.

  def greetABunchOfPeople(List<String> people)

devs1010 3 days ago 1 reply      
Eclipse is painful to use, just switching to using IntelliJ Idea IDE I have felt a lot more productive. I still have to use both since my company's "official" IDE is Eclipse and if I'm working on a problem where another developer might be looking at something with me I have to use it or they'll get really uncomfortable. The auto-completion in IntelliJ and better responsiveness of the UI make it a much better expiernece IMO. I really think one of the main problems with Java IS Eclipse, if more Java dev's used a better IDE I can't help but wonder if things like this wouldn't be thought of as being as necessary
davidhansen 4 days ago 0 replies      
This looks to be an also-ran related to the Project Kotlin that JetBrains launched some time ago:




linuxhansl 3 days ago 4 replies      
Meh. I don't understand what is so bad about Java.

Yes, there's boilerplate, which can addressed with the right development tools.

New languages are a good thing. But a language whose sole purpose is to remove boilerplate from Java, does not really get us anywhere.

discreteevent 4 days ago 0 replies      
Check out xtext which this is based on. Is even more interesting: Define a grammar and it will generate an editor with code completion etc. For a full programming language (as opposed to a small DSL) its important to be able to "debug at the level of the abstraction" as Dave Thomas (not pragprog Dave) says. This looks like it generates code, so you can't do that.
itsnotvalid 4 days ago 2 replies      
I don't know, but, often get irriated by the usage of "closures" when it means "anonymous function/expression".

  > The term closure is often mistakenly used to mean anonymous function. This is probably because most languages implementing anonymous functions allow them to form closures and programmers are usually introduced to both concepts at the same time. An anonymous function can be seen as a function literal, while a closure is a function value. These are, however, distinct concepts. A closure retains a reference to the environment at the time it was created (for example, to the current value of a local variable in the enclosing scope) while a generic anonymous function need not do this.

typicalrunt 4 days ago 1 reply      
Very cool. One nitpick (unless the video glossed over the details) is that the double arrows in the video for "personToGreet" looks weird because it's not a basic key on the keyboard.
snorkel 3 days ago 1 reply      
(5 years from today) Extend is too low level ... I think we need another meta language on top of it.
haldean 4 days ago 3 replies      
What is Xtend supposed to provide that Scala doesn't already provide? It looks like their setting out to solve a subset of the problems that Scala deals with already.
gurkendoktor 4 days ago 0 replies      
On the new switch statement:

> Type guards let you switch (or match) for types, which is much nicer and less errorprone than the usual lengthy instanceof-cascades we write in Java.

Ruby can do this too, but it never seemed like a really good idea where I've seen it. The new switch() is better (equals!!), but this particular use case seems so out of place in an OO language like Java.

Using «» for interpolation is also a big jump when Eclipse still defaults to MacRoman. (Or have they changed it recently?)

LeafStorm 3 days ago 0 replies      
As far as I can tell it's only shipped as an Eclipse plugin. Are there any plans for a standalone Xtend compiler that doesn't depend on Eclipse?
limmeau 3 days ago 0 replies      
When I read the title, I hoped they had built a replacement for the tedious XML declaration of plug-ins, with Commands and Workbench Core Expressions and all that.

http://help.eclipse.org/indigo/index.jsp?topic=%2Forg.eclips... )

Am I right that Eclipse Xtend is just not targeted towards extending Eclipse at all, despite the name?

rbanffy 4 days ago 1 reply      
Operator overload would be nice.

But I don't think declaring variables whose type can be inferred from the right side of the attribution, semicolons or parentheses for parameterless methods are the biggest problems with Java.

bartwe 4 days ago 0 replies      
My favorite features du jour are missing, generics on value types and structs.
vilya 3 days ago 0 replies      
There's an assumption that compiling to Java source will make this easy for Java developers to transition to, which I believe is completely misguided. If you edit the generated java source you give up the ability to use Xtend at that point; if you don't then it's no different to using a language which compiles directly to jvm bytecodes. Their example of being able to debug through the generated java sounds like a drawback to me: you have to maintain two models of the program in your head instead of one. Much easier to debug through the original source!

I applaud any effort to cut down on the amount of boilerplate required in java though.

coryfoo 4 days ago 0 replies      
First thing I thought when I read the headline:
"Oh boy, half ass Kotlin, here we come".

First thing I thought when I saw the website:
"Oooh look, Twitter Bootstrap"

spaznode 4 days ago 0 replies      
How can we honestly accept anything coming from the people who gave us eclipse? What a giant stinky pile of pooh that turned out to be.

I think that the current stewards of the java language are actually going down the most helpful/likely to succeed path to helping fix java by fixing java. What a novel f-ing concept. As much as it can be anyway, and despite the serious reservations of the giant doucheball they inherited with most of oracle. (despite Larry himself possibly being a pretty cool/legit engineer himself)

6ren 3 days ago 0 replies      
"multi-line string literals" are very useful, because they enable you to create DSLs that are easy to use. As in the example, you can have HTML; or XML; or make up any language you want.

Of course, it doesn't help you implement it (you'll have to parse the string yourself); but it makes it usable. A downside is that it makes that code hard to understand for developers unfamiliar with the specific DSL.

bitwize 4 days ago 1 reply      
Quick, list reasons I should use this over Mirah.
Sandman 3 days ago 1 reply      
I'm actually kind of worried about what the generated Java code will look like. From what I can see from the greeter example, it's.. well, not very pretty. It certainly looks nothing like what one would normally write if one was writing pure Java code. Imagine having to maintain that.
Yeroc 3 days ago 0 replies      
I'm surprised there's been no mention of Lombok (http://projectlombok.org/) since the goals seem to be the same. Lombok of course, is not a language but just a set of annotions and annotation processors to handle the code generation behind the scenes. Will have to look at this more closely to see how the two compare...
PaulHoule 4 days ago 0 replies      
How do I make it work with mvn?
sjwright 2 days ago 0 replies      
According to that page, their new switch expression is very egelent.
shareme 4 days ago 0 replies      
okay folks..

Quick explanation..

Its a text based java dsl..so in other words I could develop in xtend an android application model that covers my dev use cases and than have an Eclipse plugin that is for that model.

hamrickdavid 4 days ago 1 reply      
Good use of Twitter's css framework, bootstrap. Makes it much easier to launch a website with a decent UI without too much thought.
nickand 2 days ago 1 reply      
The reason I never used Java is that every time I tried to learn it I would get type errors. So in order for my programs to work I needed to constantly define what type things were. The other big problem I had was whenever I tried to follow examples they didn't work because there is an arcane system of importing libraries or knowing some long function name. The language doesn't seem to have any universal functions. You have to import everything. If this changes any of that then I might use it. I really like the idea of programs being able to run on any operating system. Oh one more thing is the eclipse IDE seems to have so many different set ups and ways to download it how can you know which is the right one?
ehynds 3 days ago 0 replies      
No one else is upset about the HTML 2.0 doctype on the examples page? WHERE IS THE OUTRAGE? http://www.eclipse.org/Xtext/xtend/#templateexpression
rshm 4 days ago 0 replies      
Does this remind anyone of Borland era ? At least for now it is an editor centered solution.
roestava 4 days ago 3 replies      
I'm sorry to say, but I think the Go programming language has just been owned by this Extend programming language for Java. Go missed the boat when it did not include some minimum class support to appease the developers used to Java, C++, and so on.
mkramlich 3 days ago 0 replies      
Does not look impressive to a Pythonista. yawn
martiell 4 days ago 0 replies      
I don't see any mention on how to build outside the IDE (say, on a CI server). Are there Ant tasks? Maven/Tycho integration?

These things are important. Where're the docs?

perfunctory 3 days ago 0 replies      
Building a language on top of java is a deadend.
zackb 4 days ago 0 replies      
I like seeing the JVM becoming a platform. Even if this particular language looks a bit silly compared to the others.
mike_ivanov 3 days ago 0 replies      
> compiles to readable Java code

[insert your favorite Ratfor joke here]

longpants2 3 days ago 0 replies      
I tried out Xtend, but got stuck on a deal killer: no apparent support for defining static fields or methods.


Roybatty 3 days ago 1 reply      
Scala had its chance, and it didn't work...no matter what Martin and his boys, and his minions want.

Kotlin will take over Java. That is fact. Mark my words on 11/05/2011.

srik 4 days ago 1 reply      
Granted Im not the target market, but Implicit returns do not seem like a good idea.
mrerrormessage 4 days ago 0 replies      
you can dress up a pig...
siasia 4 days ago 2 replies      
yet another Scala
joelbirchler 4 days ago 0 replies      
this is stupid
A Brief Rant on the Future of Interaction Design worrydream.com
366 points by tbassetto  5 hours ago   71 comments top 27
aphyr 4 hours ago 4 replies      
The article focuses on "everyday object" manipulation, but he's right about technology too: there are a wealth of common HCI tools that glass cannot accommodate.

- The textual keyboard remains one of the fastest methods of text entry. It can be used without looking, offers high bandwidth, affords both serial and chorded inputs, and works well for precise navigation in discrete spaces, like text, spreadsheets, sets of objects like forms, layers, flowcharts, etc.

- MIDI keyboards are comparable, but trade discrete bandwidth for the expressiveness of pressure modulation.

- The joystick (and associated interfaces like wheels, pedals, etc) are excellent tools for orienting. They can also offer precise haptic feedback through vibration and resistance.

- The stylus is an unparalleled instrument for HCI operations involving continuous two dimensional spaces. It takes advantage of fine dexterity in a way that mice cannot, offering position, pressure (or simply contact), altitude, angle, and tip discrimination.

- Trackballs and mice are excellent tools for analogue positional input with widely varying velocities. You can seek both finely and rapidly, taking advantage of varying grips. Trackballs offer the added tactile benefits of inertia and operating on an infinite substrate.

- Dials, wheels. A well-made dial is almost always faster and more precise than up-down digital controls. They offer instant visual feedback, precise tuning, spatial discrimination, variable velocities, can be used without looking, and can be adapted for multiple resolutions.

- Sliders. Offers many of the advantages of dials--smooth control with feedback, usable without looking--but in a linear space. Trades an infinite domain for linear manipulation/display, easier layout and use in flat or crowded orientations.

And these are just some of the popular ones. You've got VR headsets for immersive 3d audio and video, haptic gloves or suits, sometimes with cabling for precise pressure and force vector feedback, variable-attitude simulators, etc. There are weirder options as well--implanted magnets or electrode arrays to simulate vision, hearing, heat, taste, etc...

Dedicated interfaces can perform far better at specific tasks, but glass interfaces offer reconfigurability at low cost. That's why sound engineers have physical mixer boards, writers are using pens or keyboards, artists are using Wacom tablets, nuclear physicists are staring at fine-tuning knobs, and motorcyclists are steering with bars, grips, and body positioning; but everyday people are enjoying using their ipad to perform similar tasks.

Glass isn't going to wipe out physical interfaces; it's just a flexible tool in an expanding space of interaction techniques. More and more devices, I predict, will incorporate multitouch displays along dedicated hardware to solve problems in a balanced way.

mrshoe 2 hours ago 3 replies      
I can't help but think that the success of the iPhone and iPad has caused a big step back in usability among devices that try to copy them.

Two similar examples:

Garmin's newer aircraft GPS units have touch screens instead of knobs and buttons. The iPad has proven very popular among pilots. I can see why Garmin would decide that "touch is the future." But, while I'm flying an airplane, for my money I'd rather have knobs to grab and twist, and buttons to push and feel.

Tesla's new Model S uses one huge touch screen for its in-dash interface. Surely, if you want to change your music's volume or turn on air conditioning while driving, it's harder to hit touch targets that are Pictures Under Glass than to grab and twist a knob.

feral 4 hours ago 1 reply      
I just watched the video, and typed my reactions, as I had them; no idea if this will be of interest.

* * *

People still travel for meetings?
By plane?

Wait, someone is driving the car?
Thats not very productive.

There are bellhops?
Why are there still bellhops in the future?
What do they do?

Why is the screen so small?
Why have a screen, if you have those perfect augmented reality glasses?

'Creating reply interface'? We still have to wait for computers?

There's still global poverty, and benefit concerts? When these people have all that fancy tech?
Damn it.

Copy and Paste is still around?

Kids are still taught long division? Why? Why do they use a pencil?

Also, won't the future be one of neural interfaces? Isn't there something wrong with interfacing two electrical signal processing machines (brain + computer) via all these muscles and optical sensors and so on?
I know there's a lot of science to be solved first; but surely the future of interfaces is that they are invisible, and built in to us?

xpaulbettsx 23 minutes ago 1 reply      
Disclaimer: I used to work in the group that produced this video.

You have to remember, that while the "wow" factor (to some folks) is the screens and form factors, this video is made by a group in Office - the things they're really researching and trying to demonstrate is the vision of how your personal information and your "work" information (i.e. your social circles, your coworkers, your job) interact with each other.

How can context really be used effectively with productivity in an office setting? Context is this huge term here - device form factor, the people you're with, the things you're doing, where you're at; there is a ton of information available to apps / services now about who you are, what you're doing, etc - what are scenarios in which that information is actually combined and put to good use?

They really should've made the Director's Commentary to go along with this, there's a lot of research and data behind this video along with the special effects.

ender7 4 hours ago 0 replies      
This used to be a computer's model of a human being: http://librairie.immateriel.fr/fr/read_book/9780596518394/ch...

The iPad is really, really awesome. But. All that's really changed is that they've added an extra finger. (sure there are three- and four-finger gestures but those just boil down to a different kind of single-finger gesture)

Sadly, we're probably going to have to wait for the advent of supersubstances that can dynamically reconfigure their physical characteristics before we get beyond the finger-and-eye, which I doubt will happen in my lifetime (tears).

zach 4 hours ago 1 reply      
When you rescale the human body in proportion to how much of the brain is concerned with each part, you end up with this:


The hands are huge because so much of your brain is devoted to skillfully moving and precisely sensing things with your hands.

Your hands are basically the focus of the human body in interacting with the environment around it.

This explains how moving from buttons and sensors to a touch-sensitive experience is a major and hard-to-explain qualitative difference.

It also underscores the great point made here, that we can make devices far more suited still to the primary way we're designed to interact with the world.

msutherl 2 hours ago 1 reply      
Another major problem with "research visions" like this is that they portray a thoroughly "bourgeois" future. We know already that in order for every human on this planet to have basic needs taken care of, highly consumptive 1st world lifestyles like the one portrayed in the video will need to be replaced. If you've ever built anything, you'll know that it takes an immense amount of resources to obtain that kind of polish. I know that some designers like clean, shiny things, but perpetuating the meme that the future won't be characterized by rough-edges is escapist if not simply irresponsible. If we don't imagine a future for ourselves that involves patterns of behavior that are conducive to conservation of resources and supply-chain+community resilience, then I'm afraid that the only people using tools other than shovels and guns will be a super-elite living in fortified micro-cities (so perhaps it's accurate after all).

Some more silly videos:

- Nokia (w/ AR goggles): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A4pDf7m2UPE

- Cisco Songdo City: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f1x9qU-Sav8 this one's real!)

For those sympathetic to the argument of the OP, you may be interested in Bill Buxton's papers on bi-manual interaction. Bill is a huge (and early) proponent of this point of view (that computer interfaces should make full use of the capabilities of the human body): http://www.billbuxton.com/papers.html#anchor1442822

joebadmo 4 hours ago 3 replies      
This was similar to my own reaction [0], that these concept videos don't look far enough forward.

And, maybe because I'm just a born contrarian, as the world moves toward touch-based direct-manipulation paradigms, I've personally been moving toward a more tactile, indirect paradigm. I recently bought a mechanical-switch keyboard, for example, that I'm growing more and more fond of every day. I've also started looking for a mouse that feels better in the hand, with a better weight, and better tactility to the button clicks.

The lack of tactility in touch screen keyboards has always been especially annoying to me. There's just so much information there between my fingers and the keys. I mean, there's an entire state -- the reassuring feeling of fingers resting on keys -- that's completely missing.

I accept the compromise in a phone, something that needs to fit in my pocket so I can carry it around all the time. But this makes me lament the rise of tablet computing. This is the sort of place that I refer to when I talk about tablets privileging consumption over production.

I don't think the problem is relegated to UI hardware, though. I think part of what's holding back a lot richer and more meaningful social interaction online is the fact that current social networking paradigms map better to data than to human psychology. It's the parallel problem of fitting the tool to the problem, but not the user.[1]

I'm not sure I agree with the direction he points to (if I understand him correctly). Making our digital tools act and feel more like real, physical objects is akin to 3D skeuomorphism. It's like making a device to drive nails that looks like a human fist, but bigger and harder. Better, I think, to figure out new ways to take advantage of the full potential of our senses and bodies to manipulate digital objects in ways that aren't possible with physical objects. And, please, Minority Report is not it.

[0]: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=3184216

[1]: More here: http://blog.byjoemoon.com/post/11670022371/intimacy-is-perfo... and here: http://blog.byjoemoon.com/post/12261287667/in-defense-of-the...

losvedir 2 hours ago 0 replies      
Man, Bret Victor seems to have some of the most consistently interesting and inspiring articles I've seen.

I suppose he's just pointing out one area of the future to think about, but I wish he'd mentioned other ideas. I think voice and language, in particular, have some of the most room to grow to make interfaces more intuitive.

edit to add: Along this line, I've often wondered if it'd be worth learning Lojban to interact with the computer more easily. Supposedly the language is perfectly regular and well suited to that sort of thing, but I don't know for sure.

It could be easier to teach humans Lojban than computers English (or however many other languages).

jerf 1 hour ago 1 reply      
I would submit that part of the problem is that nobody really has a clue how to use your hands. Are we going to have a thingy for every subtask that we want to do? Are our computer workstations going to resemble carpenter workbenches? Probably not, if for no other reason that lack of cost effectiveness. We've got something like the Wiimote as pretty much the epitome of hand-based interaction, but it's not very precise for anything that isn't a game.

I don't mean this as a criticism of the post, I mean it as a stab at an explanation. It is a good point and I've been complaining about the primitive point and grunt interfaces[1] we've had for a while, but it's not even remotely clear where to go from here without (touchscreens are only an incremental point & grunt improvement over mice, you get a couple more gestures at the c another huge leap in processing power and hardware, at the minimum encompassing some sort of 3D glasses overlay for augmented reality or something.

[1]: The mouse is point & grunt. You get one point of focus and 1 - 5 buttons (including the mousewheel as up, down, and click). For as excited as some people have been about touchscreens, they're only a marginal improvement if they're even that; you still have only a couple kinds of "clicks", and you lose a lot on the precision of your pointing. Interfaces have papered that over by being designed for your even-more-amorphous-than-usual grunting, but when you look for it you realize that touchscreens are a huge step back on precision. They'll probably have a place in our lives for a long time but they are hardly the final answer to all problems, and trying to remove the touchscreen and read vague gestures directly has even bigger precision problems.

mattiask 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Oki doki, so given plausible future technology let's try to brainstorm a solution that addresses the issue of tactility in interaction, I give you the ... drumroll KinBall (Kinectic ball). The Kinball would essentially be a wireless ball, like a small juggling sack (the smaller ones) that you could interact with to control devices.

So the Kinball would have the following features

* Gyroscope/acceleratometer so it knows which side is up and how fast it's being moved and where it is.

* Sensors so it can feel where it's being squeezed/pressed and how hard

* Some kind of detecting mechanism for when two balls (cough) are touching each other.
* Ability to vibrate in different frequencies and also only partially on different parts of the ball

So with a device like that you now would have to come up with a gesture language, some ideas

* If the future allows it, ability to change color

* Holding the ball and moving the thumb over it is "cursor mode, pressing in that mode would be clicking (and you could "click" and hold for submenus )

* Pinch-squeeze could be a specific gesture, perhaps combined with a gesture (like spritzing cookies :)

* If you hold the ball in the whole hand and move it from your chest and forward you could simulate resistance by varying the frequency of the vibrating to "feel" interface element

* you could roll the ball in your hand forwards and backwards, for instance for scrolling

* Double the balls, double the fun. With two balls you could perhaps do interesting things with the distance between them and again simulate resistance by vibrating the balls as you bring them closer to each other

* Social balling, you could touch someone elses ball (ahem) to transfer info, files etc

* You could have the ball on your desk and it could change color or pulse in different colors for different notifications.

This kind of interface would have some interesting features. You get tactile feedback and most gestures are pretty natural. You don't have to get smudge marks on your screens. The ball is pretty discrete and hardly visible in your hand. Heck with a headset (for getting information, like reading smss) you could just get away with a ball and the headset and skip the device altogether for some scenarios.

On the other hand it's another accessory you can lose and a ball in your pants might not be the best form factor.

Anyways, if Apple introduces the iBall you know where you read it first

WiseWeasel 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Another avenue for substantial progress in interface design, in the same vein as the article's proposition, is tactile feedback, available today from vendors such as Senseg:


This technology has the capacity to bring us beyond "pictures under glass", and seems ready for integration in today's devices, with proper OS and API support.

I could see combining an e-ink display with this kind of tactile feedback surface to replace the user-exposed lower half of a laptop with a device capable of contextual interfaces. Something like this would offer great potential benefits to the user, with no apparent drawbacks.

deepkut 11 minutes ago 0 replies      
"Rant" may not have been the best word choice for the article title. I got the impression that designers shouldn't be so closed minded in futuristic thinking that may or may not be that far away. And I agree with him. Nor did I realize this until reading this excellent post.

Thanks for a great read.

jayfuerstenberg 40 minutes ago 0 replies      
Great article!

I'm not too worried because I think voice manipulation (Siri, others) is as natural as hand manipulation and one at which digital devices will become more adept in the coming years.

Voice control and speaking interfaces, backed up by visual ones would completely overcome the concerns raised here.

joe_the_user 4 hours ago 0 replies      
I see the article as pointing to incremental improvements by advocating fine motor manipulations with feedback over touching-glass-and-seeing-the-result (which is in ways harder than hitting a keyboard and at least getting some kinesthetic feedback). But I think we need to consider things in greater generality:

1) Interface designers seem universally fixated on designs that are visually and touch/kinesthetically oriented. What's missing in this is language. In a lot of ways this winds-up with interfaces which indeed look and feel great on first blush but which become pretty crappy over time given that most sophisticated human work is tied up with using language.

2) Even the touch part of interaction seldom considers what's ergonomically sustainable. Pointing with your index finder are fabulously intuitive to start with but is something you'd get really annoyed at doing constantly. There are lots of fine motor manipulations will get hard time as well.

notatoad 4 hours ago 5 replies      
the problem with revolutionary user interfaces is that nobody knows how to use them. when you see a "picture under glass" of a piano keyboard, you know that in order to make noise you tap the keys. if your interface is a minor incremental change from the status quo, it doesn't require education.

this vision of the future isn't just cool, it's relatable. anybody can look at the products displayed there and think "hey, i know how to use that". if you dream up some amazing new tactile user experience, it might be revolutionary but will people understand it?

kirillzubovsky 4 hours ago 1 reply      
Love the effort put into the presentation of this blog post.

Although I personally love all the shiny finger gestures, must agree that this "vision" is only a sexy marketing trick and contains very little actual innovation, and probably even less actual innovation that Microsoft will actually build in the near future, or the long future.

As per the abundance of motors skills that we have, it would indeed be lovely to have those utilized in the future, along with voice and vision, all combined in some complexly simple and elegant way of interacting. Baby steps at a time?

RyLuke 2 hours ago 0 replies      
The OP is rehashing the concepts around pervasive or ubiquitous computing: the notion that computing will expand out to meet us in tangible products, as opposed to being solely accessed on dedicated computing devices.

There's been much more than "a smattering" of work in this area. Lots of really smart industrial designers and engineers have been working on these ideas for quite some time. I personally based my Industrial Design degree thesis around these concepts almost 12 years ago. Hiroshi Ishii's Tangible Media Group at the MIT Media Lab comes to mind. The Ambient Devices Orb was a well-covered, if early and underdeveloped, attempt to bring a consumer pervasive computing device to market.

These products are here today and will continue to emerge. A recent example would be the thermostat from Nest Labs, a device that beautifully marries the industrial design of Henry Dreyfuss' Honeywell round thermostat with a digital display, the tangible and intangible interfaces working seamlessly in concert.

dirtyaura 4 hours ago 1 reply      
Great post.

Has there been any interaction research done on using something like a stress ball as an interaction device for digital environment? In my imagination a ball would have standard accelerometers and gyroscopes, but in addition fine-grained sensing capabilities to sense different kind of grips. It could also provide tactile feedback.

jeswin 1 hour ago 0 replies      
I think this is the problem with TED-talk style Interaction Design. More in line with hollywood, than grounded in reality. We all know its nice to hold stuff, but that technology just isn't ready yet.
gliese1337 3 hours ago 0 replies      
I feel like I have just undergone a major epiphany. And just after the epiphany, I realized that pretty much the exact same content is hiding as one of those relatively insignificant background world-building details baked into Neal Stephenson's _Anathem_.

And in the non-fiction realm, Wii-mote and Kinect devices. We've totally got the beginnings of tactile, full-body interface technology that's just as reconfigurable and programmable as pictures under glass.

togasystems 4 hours ago 1 reply      
What about the rest of our capabilities using our other senses (sound, smell, taste)? Does anybody think that we will incorporate them into future interfaces more?
gourneau 3 hours ago 0 replies      
"There is no 'technology', there is no 'design', there is only a vision of how mankind should be, and the relentless resolve to make it so. This is the way that I teach."

I have committed this to memory Brad, it is my mantra.

nchuhoai 4 hours ago 2 replies      
Excellent Post. More of that please.

I think some sort of HUD in glasses will be the future. Doesnt take up much space (presumably) and allows for rich gesture interaction (like whats already possible with Kinect)

lightcatcher 4 hours ago 0 replies      
I've never considered the richness of normal interaction in comparison to the "picture behind glass" model. Very eye opening read. However,

"Do you know what it's called when you lose all sense of touch? It's called paralysis, and they push you around in a wheelchair while you calculate black hole radiation."

isn't cool at all.

chadlundgren 3 hours ago 1 reply      
This post would make a lot stronger case if it didn't use an eye-bleeding, small gray font.
Volpe 2 hours ago 2 replies      
I think I disagree with the rant.

It's a little inconsistant as well. On the one hand, he argues that Pictures behind glass isn't where we should be heading, and instead we should come up with better visions, as an example he uses the someone who came up with the original idea for a "goddamn ipad"...

But wait, didn't he just say pictures behind glass was a bad model to work towards?

Personally I think if we could implement a fraction of the things in that vision video, the world would be a better place for it. If some of the things don't work, or the interaction feels wrong... we can always change the vision.

The Apple Knowledge Navigator doesn't resemble the iPhone at all... But it was/is a good vision to work towards.

Apple's Supply Chain Secret businessweek.com
342 points by Cadsby  4 days ago   146 comments top 16
binarray2000 4 days ago  replies      
OK...I cheer to so many things Apple does regarding operations. But when I read

Apple [..] sometimes doesn't pay until as long as 90 days after it uses a part [...]

I think only "lame". With $80B and 40% margin, company with that reputation...

Manufacturing is hard. And very expensive. Organize processes, buy machines and raw materials, pay the labor. And then comes Apple and gives itself a loan (basically, it's a loan) from a manufacturer.

No, sorry. It's lame.

PS - Just as a perspective: I help part time in a company my father and brother own (retail and manufacturing company). Even thou other businesses in the industry and the country do the same thing as Apple, they don't. I'm disgusted by that practice here...so, why not be disgusted by it when Apple does it?

nailer 4 days ago  replies      
> Most of Apple's customers have probably never given that green light a second thought

Most, I'm sure. But personally the first time I saw light shining through my metal laptop, I was amazed, a little delighted, and slightly confused about how they were doing it (because, as the article mentions, the holes are too small to see).

padobson 4 days ago 3 replies      
I think Apple's supply chain management is a greater competitive advantage than their product design.

There are many factors beyond the quality of product that go into a purchasing decision - things like hype, accessibility, and most importantly, price.

Apple never had much a problem with great design or building hype, but the real reason for their success over the last 15 years has been their ability to provide customers better access to their products and to provide them at more competitive prices.

The iPhone is ( by most accounts ) a superior product to the Blackberry. However, no one was going to buy an iPhone for $900, and without this impressive supply chain, Apple wouldn't be able to get the profit margins they want at $600 ( or $200 subsidized, which is also supply chain management ).

Product is important, and as a culture that builds things, HNers tend to focus on that ( the green light conversation in these comments being proof of that ), but all the logistics of how a product is delivered are just as important as the product itself - and maybe more so - in building a successful company.

wallflower 4 days ago 4 replies      
> When the iPad 2 debuted, the finished devices were packed in plain boxes and Apple employees monitored every handoff point"loading dock, airport, truck depot, and distribution center "to make sure each unit was accounted for.

When I went to WWDC10, I was struck by the small detail of the conference security wearing black polos with the Apple logo and "Security" under the logo. At most conferences, the security is wearing jackets straight out of action movie central casting (e.g. "SECURITY"). I thought that was a nice small detail - to attire the rent-a-cops in Apple gear. But, now, reading this, I think they may have been full time Apple security staff. Security is paramount.

fredoliveira 4 days ago 0 replies      
I very highly recommend listening to a couple of episodes of Critical path if you care about Apple's supply chain strategy. I was amazed at the level of detail in which this was discussed (and going through this article I couldn't help but think that part of the information in it is due to the analysis on that podcast):

http://5by5.tv/criticalpath/10 and http://5by5.tv/criticalpath/11

yassim 4 days ago 0 replies      
Seems to me to be an extension of the 'People who are really serious about software should make their own hardware.'.

Say 'People who are really serious about making and selling a product should make their own production, supply and store chains' or 'People who are serious about their product should take ownership of all stages of that product.'

bravura 4 days ago 2 replies      
"This operational edge is what enables Apple to handle massive product launches without having to maintain large, profit-sapping inventories."

Could someone explain what that means more specifically? That they don't have to have a large stock?

Doesn't this controvert the earlier statement: "Because of its volume ... Apple gets big discounts on parts, manufacturing capacity, and air freight."

antics 4 days ago 0 replies      
What is argued in this article was argued much earlier this year on Quora.


endlessvoid94 4 days ago  replies      
Interesting parallel to walmart.
CoffeeDregs 4 days ago 3 replies      
These kinds of articles were novel 10 years ago when Apple was coming back and was doing so while beating Dell at supply chain optimization and that was, justifiably, a huge story. Ironically, I read them in BusinessWeek back then, too.

Now, the ODM/OEMs have become brands and the folks who once were the main participants in Apple's supply chain are now directly competing with Apple. Breathless articles aside, are we really sure that Apple's supply chain is much shorter/faster than those of Lenovo, Dell, HTC, Sony or, holy hell, Samsung?

I also have a hard time seeing how $25M worth of lasers is a supply chain innovation; most other manufacturers would probably prefer to make the laptop for $6 (amortization) less. I have a ThinkPad T520 [with Linux] because it's rugged, comfortable (no wrist razor), has a TrackPoint (I know, I know, but I love it) and about $1200-$1500 less than a comparable Macbook Pro. Clearly, the majority of hackers disagree with me, so I'm convinced that 90% of Apple's incredibleness is their marketing (not ads, but understanding how to design and build excellent products which are very well targeted at their audiences).

irrationalfab 4 days ago 1 reply      
This is a great proof of the strategic advantages of totally controlling your operations. In the start you are at disadvantage, but if you manage to gain steam you end up with a competitive advantage that is almost unfair.

In Apples case this strong position is not only visible in the supply chain management but it is clearly present in all their stack. Another example is their supremacy in software.

I think that this is one of the great lessons from Steve Jobs, takin your time to control and develop everything internally it is feasible competitive approach.

mkramlich 4 days ago 0 replies      
Speaking as a contractor, I have a bias/tendency to eventually "fire" any client that takes too long or is too sketchy about paying me. Too much risk on my part. I work, I get paid. With all bullshit set aside, it should only take on OOM of about 1 minute to write a check, put in envelope, put stamp on it, and put in outbound mailbox. Anything longer than that is self-imposed bureaucracy, not physics.
CWIZO 4 days ago 1 reply      
And yet we have to wait 2 months to get MBAs here in Slovenia (due to supply shortage) ...
datsro 4 days ago 1 reply      
They also don't have to pay for storage costs which eats up money for their competitors!
swombat 4 days ago 0 replies      
> According to Martin, the logistics executive, Cook uses a catchphrase to hammer home the need for efficiency: “Nobody wants to buy sour milk.”

That's a bit of a floppy ending for an otherwise excellent article.

tripzilch 4 days ago 2 replies      
Interesting article, but this quote is absolutely sickening:

> Because of its volume"and its occasional ruthlessness"Apple gets big discounts on parts, manufacturing capacity, and air freight. “Operations expertise is as big an asset for Apple as product innovation or marketing,” says Mike Fawkes, the former supply-chain chief at Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) and now a venture capitalist with VantagePoint Capital Partners. “They've taken operational excellence to a level never seen before.”

Crediting a company that until very recently employed slave labour with "occasional ruthlessness" and "taking operational excellence to a new level" is just disgusting.

There is still no excuse for that. They should be grovelling on the ground begging for forgiveness, not being commended for it!!

At least thanks to this article we know how that situation came to being... Just a little harmless "occasional ruthlessness".

JQuery 1.7 Released jquery.com
331 points by dmethvin  5 days ago   46 comments top 14
vessenes 5 days ago 1 reply      
My favorite part of the release notes: "Despite jQuery.isNaN() being undocumented, several projects on Github were using it. We have contacted them and asked that they use jQuery.isNumeric() or some other solution."

This is an excellent reminder of how much things have changed in the last 10 years in our space; a popular tools vendor can go query a massive source code repository and reach out proactively for transitioning deprecated functions.

Kudos to the jQuery team for the great attitude; and of course all hail github, but they know I feel that way since they charge my card every month. :)

untog 5 days ago 1 reply      
There is one ambiguous case: If the data argument is a string, you must provide either a selector string or null so that the data isn't mistaken as a selector. Pass an object for data and you'll never have to worry about special cases.

I'm being picky I know, but wouldn't it just be easier to use something like:

    $("#div").on("click", {
selector: "span",
data: "blahblah",
handler: function()

Perhaps it's far too verbose, now that I've typed it out. But it just seems like it would do a good job of removing ambiguities like this.

drewda 5 days ago 4 replies      
Can someone describe to me how these jQuery releases make their way into Rails 3.1 land? Does the maintainer of https://github.com/rails/jquery-rails do an update and then it's up to us Rails users to execute a "bundle update"?
bad_user 5 days ago 5 replies      
One thing I don't like about jQuery's evolution is the size. This version weights at 92K minified / 33K gzipped, which for mobile phones is a PITA.
kenjackson 5 days ago 2 replies      
Is there a good set of jQuery tutorials that uses 1.7 (so you don't learn non-best practices)? I know it was just released, but these things are often built along with the development.
weixiyen 5 days ago 1 reply      
Anyone have the documentation on jQuery.Callbacks?
scarmig 5 days ago 0 replies      
The best thing is the new, unified event API.

They've also improved event delegation performance by a factor of 2.

ghc 5 days ago 0 replies      
This makes me so happy. Those of us developing on Chrome 16 have been suffering through a storm of event.layerX/Y deprecation warnings.

This new release fixes the issue and I can confirm the fix works like a charm.

huskyr 5 days ago 0 replies      
I'm really excited about being able to load jQuery as an AMD module. This means you can load jQuery with RequireJS and write nice, modular code. I highly recommend anyone doing large-scale web projects to use Require, it changed the way how i write Javascript.
vailripper 5 days ago 0 replies      
Love the delegate event performance improvements!
brunnsbe 4 days ago 2 replies      
It's always nice with new features and enhancements but some bugs should first be fixed, like e.g. this one (i cannot update my code to a version higher than 1.5.x due to customers still using IE7):
clarkmoody 5 days ago 0 replies      
I can't wait for the Closure Compiler extern file for this new version!
HeroNote 5 days ago 0 replies      
Free jQuery & jQuery UI eBook (Reference Manual) has been updated:


suyash 5 days ago 0 replies      
Very interesting, the chart show significant performance gain in IE 7, 8 etc compared to the previous jQuery version. Congratulations.
BankSimple invites first customers; rebrands itself as Simple simple.com
321 points by Q6T46nT668w6i3m  11 hours ago   249 comments top 46
cynicalkane 11 hours ago  replies      
I thought BankSimple was a great brand, because it tells you what it is and fits well with the current zeitgeist.

What is "BankSimple?" A way to bank that's simple. Sounds interesting! Everyone hates how complicated banking is, right? Let's go to the website to find out more.

What is "Simple?" Who knows. A website that has something to do with banking--or so I'm told--with yet another web 2.0 one-word "brand", a really uninspiring one too. Hey, I wonder what's on Reddit.

buro9 10 hours ago  replies      
I'm not sure I understand the proposition now.

Who is the relationship with?

As in... who has my money?

I read it as them hiding that from you for simplicity... you get this one interface and customer service which is wonderful, but to achieve this they are the proxy to your bank?

So... do they set up the bank accounts, or do you? Do you have the ability to go straight to your bank, or does Simple preclude that ability?

In this text:

> Simple is not a bank. Simple replaces your bank. We build the services and support you need to manage, understand, and automate your everyday spending and saving. Meanwhile, we integrate with chartered banks who manage your deposits in FDIC-insured products. We take care of you, our partner banks take care of your money, and jointly, we've designed a better financial experience.

I come out confused. Who has the money, can I go straight to them to get it?

That's the missing bit of clarity that would make me feel the love (trust).

smackfu 11 hours ago 1 reply      
I wonder if there were issues with calling themselves BankX when they are not regulated as a bank. Edit to add, there are definite laws against this in some states, for instance CT (I'm not sure if this would apply in this case, but it's indicative of what is out there):

"No partnership, common law trust or association, or individual using a trade name, shall use, either as a part of its name or as a prefix or suffix thereto or as a designation of the business carried on by it, the word "bank", "banking", "banker", "bankers", "trust" or "savings", "


steve8918 11 hours ago 3 replies      
Does someone know exactly what they are? If we deposit money with them, how do we know we will get our money back? What does it mean when they say: "we're not a bank, but we deposit your money in FDIC-insured funds"?

I'm all for introducing new types of banking entities, and I'm willing to even try this company out, but in the age of post-Madoff and personally having my identity stolen, how do I know who these guys are, and that they will protect my money and my information?

Lewisham 10 hours ago 4 replies      
Did anyone else see this in the FAQ?

Who can use Simple?

To be eligible, you must:

- Be a resident of the United States and over the age of 18;
- Have a Social Security number; and
- Own a smartphone (iPhone or Android).

Do I really need to have a smartphone?

Well, you need to have an iOS (version 4.2 or higher) or Android device. Android phones and iPhones are preferable so that you can deposit checks using your smartphone's camera and receive push notifications when you buy things.

I can't believe you need a smartphone to sign up. That seems absolutely crazy to me. Why can't you just accept scanned checks from a scanner? I would hazard more people have access to a scanner (even the one at work) than own a smartphone.

martian 10 hours ago 0 replies      
From the Simple FAQ:

Q: Are you like Mint?

A: No. ... Also, we hate pie charts.

Couldn't agree more.

Aloisius 8 hours ago 0 replies      
Man, whoever their PR person is, they're sure good at getting to be #1 on HN. It seems like every month there is a new BankSimple story and every month the same comments pop up asking who they are and how they work.

I do think maybe they should pick a better username though.

lhnn 10 hours ago 1 reply      
I don't get what the confusion is. "Simple" (generic name, weak branding..) is a middle-man between banks and you.


-They have multiple backend banks, so I suppose that keeps you the customer from getting locked into one bank's crappy fee policy.

-They can focus on customer satisfaction and UI rather than be bogged down by becoming a "real" bank.

Any doubts about their trustworthiness because they're not a bank is nothing but FUD, since they explicitly stated multiple times that your money is in a bank.

ben1040 6 hours ago 1 reply      
I already use a small local bank. They have only a handful of branches and it's pretty easy to get stuff done with them.

I don't want to change that relationship because I am happy with it, and I certainly don't want to abstract the whole thing through a middleman. It doesn't look like Simple is really right for me anyway as I have several joint checking accounts and a business account as well.

But, I really wish my bank had some of the really slick online banking/mobile deposit capture features that Simple is promising. I hope that if Simple gains some traction, they can offer white label online banking services to banks or brand it as "LocalBankCo online banking, powered by Simple."

xradionut 8 hours ago 2 replies      
Unfortunately they need to make their web site cross-browser functional. Doesn't function well in IE8.

I still have no idea why I would need their service. My current financial institutions provide awesome service without cryptic bs. Consumer banking and small business banking is simple to the moderately educated.

maxklein 7 hours ago 1 reply      
So the "change banking startup" has morphed into a credit card reseller?
antoncohen 8 hours ago 1 reply      
What if I need to bank in-person? I know it seems odd these days, one example is if you need a lot of cash. I hit my maximum daily ATM withdrawal limit last week, it was extremely annoying. I happen to have accounts at two banks, so I used my other account to get around it. I used to exclusively use online banking (E*TRADE Bank). Not being able to go to a bank in-person, for things like cash or money orders, become a real problem. I switched to normal retail banking.

How would I handle these issues with Simple?

hemancuso 10 hours ago 1 reply      
Burning money on outrageously priced domain names instead of executive bonuses. I love it!
beforebeta 10 hours ago 1 reply      
Anyone notice the name "Joeseph Schumpeter" on the sample card? Its a reference to Schumpeter's Creative Destruction - further implying them to be in the process of destroying the old ways of doing things (in this case banking) with a radically different approach. Love it!
inmygarage 8 hours ago 1 reply      
I wish Simple would consider supporting all ATMs, not just in-network ones. And by supporting, I mean reimbursing all ATM-related fees. Ally does this. Although Ally is a bank rather than a front-end-for-a-bank, this feature has become increasingly important to me as I find myself increasingly patronizing cash-only establishments.
netmau5 7 hours ago 1 reply      
I really like what you guys are trying to do here, but you still haven't made it more appealing than getting frequent flyer miles on my credit card. I know you want to use the normal card fees to make some cash, but why do you need those + deposit interest?

My brick & mortar bank provides me with a free-to-use checking account w/debit card in exchange for the interest made off my deposits. My credit card, paid in full each month, provides the same free service with flyer miles. The value proposition of making my data easier to search and filter from the information already given to me at my current bank/CC websites doesn't do it for me.

Love what I've seen, but I hope you guys find a better value/price point.

ck2 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Whoa - what did that domain name cost them.
basseq 10 hours ago 2 replies      
My checking account is fundamentally a revolving cash account between a portion of my paycheck and my monthly bills (cc, mortgage, utilities, etc.). Other than autopay bills, all my purchases go through my credit card (which is then another autopay against my checking acct.). I manage all this at a macro level through Mint.

I never visit my bank website, partly because it sorta sucks, but partly because I have no reason to"I really just care about the balance. Additional views would be nice, but I need it at the macro level to incorporate all my accounts (which Mint, admittedly, falls short on). I don't use my debit card for anything other than ATM cash.

My checklist for a checking account is pretty short:

1. No fees. (Including ATM fees. I'm reimbursed if a third-party charges one, too.)
2. Smartphone check deposit.
3. Features / Customer Service / Interest Rate, etc.

Simple's down in that third bucket (and they don't meet criteria #1).

powertower 9 hours ago 1 reply      

Seriously broken website, at least it is in IE8.

losvedir 9 hours ago 1 reply      
Sigh, still waiting for an invite. Got an email in October of last year saying I could get an account "at some point [this] year", so hopefully soon.

One question, though, I can't find on the site, is whether I receive any interest. And, if so, at what rate?

smarmius 11 hours ago 4 replies      
Honestly, I don't understand this rebranding. Are they making things other than banking simple? I love the idea of making banking more simple and easier, and that's why I thought their previous name, BankSimple, was better. Can someone help me understand this?
tucaz 4 hours ago 0 replies      
I don't live in the US but I do some business there sometimes.
It would be really nice if foreigners could open an account, but I think that because the lack of a Social Security Number this is not possible, right?

Actually, I have a bank account (and debit card) in a small bank in Iowa so maybe this is not an issue at all.

Now I'm confused. Can someone who knows or lives in the US clarify this one?

burnstek 10 hours ago 1 reply      
This move strikes me as being a little too quaint for a financial service. I can't tell what I'd be signing up for. While their language is very friendly, it's also obtuse, and that doesn't foster trust.
ohyes 9 hours ago 1 reply      
So... lets say someone hacks my Simple account (or simply phishes the password) and drains all of its funds.

What happens then?

cleverjake 11 hours ago 0 replies      
Ah, wonderful. I hope I can get in soon. I've been waiting forever. Congrats to them for finally getting public.
darrenkopp 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Just out of curiosity, how much did the domain name cost?
paulocal 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Love the new name and domain. Love the design of the card!

Two questions though:

1) Are actual branches in the roadmap at all? Digital banking is great but has its limitations.

2) How about deposits? Can we take pictures of a check? Or make deposites at an ATM?

csears 10 hours ago 0 replies      
I suspect the (Bank)Simple guys went down the list like this when deciding on their new domain...
SimpleFinanceTechnologyCorp.com (too long)
SimpleFinanceTechnology.com (long, but register anyway)
SimpleFinanceTech.com (meh)
SimpleFinance.com (already taken)
Simple.com (perfect!
AznHisoka 10 hours ago 1 reply      
People aren't compelled to try a financial service to spend more wisely. They're compelled to try it because it "earns" them more (more interest, cash back, etc). Might be the same thing, fundamentally, but psychologically, it's not. Greed is good.
kristaps 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Any info on how much the domain cost?
klbarry 8 hours ago 1 reply      
Will Simple ever integrate with, say, kingstrade or another investment program? That [!] would make things amazingly simple. I suppose that would take away their own income, though :)
kjell 7 hours ago 0 replies      
I signed up for the waiting list 04/2010. Anyone here that's already in? When was your sign up?
middayc 9 hours ago 1 reply      
looks good, but I'm not sure if necessary very-good-modern-design == simple ?

not trying to be down on you, just asking about it now because when I make stuff for others I don't have this corellation and to me the simplest thing is many times command-line.

adamio 10 hours ago 1 reply      
I already have a checking account. The website interface works. Its not trendy glossy HTML5, but that's ok because my money isn't handed over to a third party who gets to profit off its interest on my behalf. What problem are you solving? The user interface for bank's sites are not good? So you are a different user interface and all I have to do is put my money in a black box? Who is funding these startups, wow. I have no confusion over the terms of my checking account, its already simple.
kevinherron 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Great! Why haven't I gotten my invite yet? :)
gourneau 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Dear Simple Folks, may I please have an invite? Thanks!
vijayr 8 hours ago 0 replies      
How much did the "simple.com" domain cost you? :)
cloudhead 8 hours ago 0 replies      
So I'm guessing this is US-only?
phi1618 9 hours ago 1 reply      
Interesting concept, but I'm skeptical how successful it can be. Banks are trying to get more money out of customers, in large part, to compensate for the costs of cyber-theft. Banks would rather reimburse your stolen money and recapture it through xyz fee, than lose your confidence.

Simple does nothing to solve the bigger issue of our insecure networks. From what I've seen, they're no different from any other company offering online banking services. Add in the fact that they don't have any physical collateral, and maybe they're even more vulnerable than traditional banks...

jackgavigan 2 hours ago 0 replies      
So the main thing I take away from this thread is this: Simple isn't.
andrethegiant 8 hours ago 0 replies      
Can the user choose for their money to deposited in a credit union rather than a bank?
jason_slack 10 hours ago 0 replies      
I hope I get an invite too. I requested one from the start...
moizsyed 7 hours ago 0 replies      
"Drop the 'bank.' Just 'Simple'. It's cleaner."
kr1shna 10 hours ago 1 reply      
How soon can we something like this in Europe?
jamgraham 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Looks like most invites will go out in 2012.


warmfuzzykitten 10 hours ago 1 reply      
Do you really want to let Simple take care of your money?
How Can Anyone Still Hate Bill Gates? alearningaday.com
311 points by rrohan189  4 days ago   255 comments top 48
zdw 4 days ago  replies      
We've had this trope before - Andrew Carnegie, for example. Gates is just copying the idea...

Honestly, the company he built makes some good stuff, and also makes a lot of trouble for everyone else. The Embrace/Extend/Extinguish methodology which was created under Gates is something that anyone working in infrastructure is going to be fighting for the next 30 years, and it's holding innovation back. Does anyone out there love IE6, or Active Directory? Both are primary examples of this.

I don't hate Gates. I just think that he did a great job of making money at the expense of others, and in ways that still hurt the industry today.

Paying penance after the fact doesn't excuse the original actions.

neebz 3 days ago 0 replies      
I am an okish software engineer from Pakistan who has been in touch with the tech industry for quite sometime.

I have followed what Google has done all these years for the web. And what Apple has done in the mobile computing. It's all awesome.

But when I look around as a human and see what Bill's foundation has done to simply eradicate malaria and polio from my nearby villages which were the hub of these diseases only a couple of years ago. It's amazing. It's far too easy (even as an engineer) to ignore his previous short-comings.

cooldeal 4 days ago 1 reply      
The answer is easy. As someone who has most experience with such types of people said:


recoiledsnake 4 days ago 2 replies      
Related article:



Since leaving Microsoft, Gates and his wife Melinda have made their foundation into one of the world's premier charities. Since 1994, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation amassed an endowment of more than $31 billion in funds to fight the world's most difficult issues. But it hasn't merely accumulated funds, the foundation has already given away more than $25 billion, as Wessel notes in his HBR essay.

I don't know what Jobs did with his money. He may well have been a substantial donor to many a good cause. But at the end of his life, he was focused on business, while Gates is focused on broader and ultimately more significant concerns.

In a note to the members of the Harvard community, Gates wrote, "I hope you will reflect on what you've done with your talent and energy. I hope you will judge yourselves not on your professional accomplishments alone, but also on how well you work to address the world's deepest inequities, on how well you treat people a world away who have nothing in common with you but their humanity."

shriphani 4 days ago 1 reply      
Mr. Gates has become what Mr. Jobs wanted to become. After seeing Gates' UWash talk I am sure that the brand of philanthropy he is practicing is extremely mathematical, very involved and most certainly not the type that one eases into.

And what a resume Mr. Gates has - Personal Computing, conquering the enterprise and now polio + malaria. Man's in God Mode.

hrktb 3 days ago 0 replies      
I have to thank Bill Gates for changing my life.

I was in contact with computers quite early, as at 7 or 8, playing games on green and black monitors, doing some report printing on OS 7 Macintosh, programming some small stuff at school for belts and robotic arms on TO-8 dinosaurs reading K7 tapes.
But I never really cared, it was just some tool sitting on the desk. You used it, got done and just forget it. I preferred to play outside.

It was relentless nights trying to create full reports on win 95 in Word and Excel(what a wonderful name) that taught me that a modern computer was not just a tool that did what it had to, and you could forget about it afterwards.
Even doing mundane things like formatting properly white space in a report, removing programs that annoys you, installing the right drivers for you modem and just have it work, having the OS stay up more than 8 hours straight needed quite a lot knowledge, dedication, and problem solving skills.

I thought for the first time that all this was not something that just works by itself, but needs a lot of talent, and the world must have been really short of that talent for a long time.

I just thought, you could actually dedicate a life making computers actually do what you want them to do.

And I became a programmer.
Thanks Bill.

joezydeco 4 days ago 1 reply      
One question has still bugged me since the passing of Steve Jobs:

"What if Apple had decided not to port iTunes to Windows back in 2003?"

Let's pretend that the iPod stayed Firewire 400 - Macintosh users only. Would we have seen the explosion in iPod sales later in the decade? Would there have been enough money and courage to press ahead with the development of the iPhone?

Jach 3 days ago 0 replies      
I can't say I hate him, but I don't think the past decade of his various efforts has "redeemed him", as it were. I don't think he's "unredeemable", and he certainly deserves a lot of positive credit for a lot of things.

To me it seems like many people laud his charity efforts, but for them it's frequently an unexamined praise because "charity" is an effective applause light. It's hard to imagine that much cash attached to a charity not doing something good. (For some older criticisms, see http://blog.givewell.org/category/gates-foundation/ There's also http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bill_%26_Melinda_Gates_Foundati... )

Anyway, it's worth remembering why people didn't like him in the first place. Most of those reasons have to do with long-term effects of our world, not petty things like he ate toe fungus or yelled at someone. It's not like Bill Gates stole some candy which is easy to redeem for, it's like he (excuse the very loose analogy) killed people, which is much harder to make up for and has longer (in that case, permanent for the dead person) consequences. I think Erik Naggum captured part of the problem of Gates as opposed to Microsoft pretty well in one of his rants: http://www.xach.com/naggum/articles/3141310154691952@naggum....

"the problem I see is not that Bill Gates has shaped the world of useless
trinkets in software, but has also managed to spread his competitiveness
and his personal fear of losing to imaginary competitors to businesses
and homes everywhere, so now everybody is _afraid_ of losing some battle
which isn't happening, instead of getting about their own lives. like,
if you aren't using today's fad language in the very latest version of
the IDE, you'll be left behind. aaaugh!"

MarkMc 3 days ago 0 replies      
"Bill is basically unimaginative and has never invented anything, which is why I think he's more comfortable now in philanthropy than technology. He just shamelessly ripped off other people's ideas."

Am I the only one who read that and thought, 'Wow, Steve Jobs could be a bit of an asshole'...?

heyrhett 3 days ago 0 replies      
This email Bill sent out, pleading for anyone at Microsoft to care about usability, made me like him a little better:
zerostar07 4 days ago 2 replies      
There's no point in making comparisons like these. On the other hand it's interesting to compare some of the IT-made billionaires to the traditional billionaires. Bill Gates was not born into money* but ended up drowning in them. He probably sees both the diminishing marginal utility of exorbitant wealth and the tendency of profits to accumulate exponentially. As a nerd, he's probably unable to give into a lavish lifestyle anyway, so he does the best thing of giving back. He can hope to be remembered in history for that, because, after all, how many rich people made history just for being rich?

[*] he wasn't poor, probably more than middle class; in any case, there's no doubt he's self-made

mkramlich 3 days ago 2 replies      
If a man has $1000 dollars and gives half away I'd think he's foolish but since he did something that hurts him he deserves respect.

If a man has a billion dollars and gives half away he's smart, he makes himself look good (buying it) and yet experiences no pain or personal downside in exchange. In effect it cost him nothing. While I'm glad he did it, I'm also not impressed. Also it seems to be rare that someone becomes a billionaire without being an asshole and screwing over other people along the way, whether employees, partners or competitors. So this makes me even less impressed. Also I know several people who have much less wealth, who didn't come from Gates silver spoon background, yet perform charity and never engaged in the shady pratices, or shoddy craftsmanship, that Microsoft and Gates have done. So again, color me not impressed, and everything needs to be evaluated in the context of the larger ecosystem, and what everybody else out there is doing.

mixmastamyk 3 days ago 2 replies      
Bullshit. Computing advanced despite Gates, not because of him. I was there thru the nineties and win9x was a heaping pile of shit. Os/2 and BeOs were both five times better. Nt finally matured (now retarding) but the whole industry was set back at least ten years. Fuck you Bill; yeah i'm glad to hear you're giving to charity, thanks.
artursapek 4 days ago 0 replies      
The point on the humility is pretty spot-on. At a talk he gave at University of Washington recently he said that being a billionaire is overrated. He said comically that it's really not much different from merely being a millionaire, because "Dick's doesn't raise their prices." (Dick's is a famous Seattle burger chain) [1]

Doesn't shock me that he's donating his money by the billions.

[1] http://blog.seattlepi.com/thebigblog/2011/10/27/bill-gates-b...

jfb 4 days ago 2 replies      
Hating Bill Gates was never a particularly intelligent stance. He was a great businessman and technician, pushing a really lousy technology. That doesn't say anything about his value as a person, and his subsequent work (while I differ to some degree with the means) has been of tremendous worth to the world.

That his company produced a whole raft of wretched technologies is germane, but hardly dispositive.

Carlfish 3 days ago 1 reply      
To paraphrase the argument: "If you steal more money than you can possibly spend, giving the rest away makes everything OK."
dendory 3 days ago 4 replies      
I heard a story the other day where a new computer magazine was starting up in Brazil in the late 1990s. Microsoft went to them and offered to take full page ads. But when the price came into question, Microsoft PR said they would not pay, and that the magazine should just run Microsoft ads for free, because "nobody trusts a computer magazine if Microsoft isn't advertising in it."

This is classic Microsoft practice, and this is why so many people hate the company. I don't hate Bill, and I'm sure most people don't hate him personally either, but he was CEO of this company that has made many, many bad things happen.

meow 3 days ago 0 replies      
Steal the money - doesn't it bother anyone that if we equate earning money in business (in what ever way) with stealing, we have to equate what most of the oil companies, most of the investment banks, most of the media companies, most of pharma companies do as nothing but stealing.. The only difference is that there is no apparent 'master mind' to attack.

Is anyone naive enough to believe that if bill gates didn't end up crushing the competition as he did during Microsoft's rise, some one else would not have done so ? Sure, we may/may not have Microsoft as powerful, but there would have been some other draconian-soft to fill the void.

And though we should probably not pull Jobs in to this, if we are to imagine Jobs at the head of Microsoft when it is in a position to crush competition, I can't imagine Jobs (and many other business leaders) deciding otherwise (going by the current set of apple law suits). It's just like the lord of the rings - doesn't matter who wears the ring. The heady power of the monopoly is just like the ring (the governmental laws for fair competition should be such a way that they never form). If monopolies do form, there is no point blaming individuals for that.

vegai 3 days ago 1 reply      
He capitalized on the idea that the consumer is not allowed to choose the operating system of the computer they buy. That idea hasn't yet faded.

That's why I hate Microsoft.

protomyth 3 days ago 0 replies      
I never hated Bill Gates since I never met the man and he never did horrific things. I am still mad after all this time that some of the money I spent buying a machine to run OPENSTEP was paid to Microsoft. I despise them for that and they should of had to pay all of it back in the settlement.
quinndupont 3 days ago 0 replies      
Ever read Zizek? tl;dr: so-called charity is just the entrenchment of capitalism, which requires considerable income disparity to function. So, far from eradicating poverty, he's deepening it. Another commenter mentioned Carnegie (could add Rockefeller or any of the other robber barons), it's a good parallel (look into the history, e.g., these men where so awful they would even sell known-to-be-faulty guns to the army during the civil war, so soldiers would end up blowing off their limbs while in battle)
xborns 3 days ago 0 replies      
I always wonder when people say Microsoft is holding back innovation why they don't say the same at Apple. I think Apple does some great marketing and design for their products but from a developer perspective I can see the noose closing more on Apple's platform versus Windows/Android these days.

The App Store removed a dictionary app (don't remember the name) that had foul language in it, really? I like that the App Store ensures quality from an operational perspective, BUT I hate that they can filter out content of the apps that they personally don't agree (illegal items excluding). Where does the line get drawn? Now with this sandboxing for the MacOs App Store apps it seems that they are creating a gate keeper like iPhone apps. Apple tries to block competing apps on its iTunes store while if Microsoft did the same people would scream bloody murder. I hate the word fanboi but I see quite a few Apple ones that after he passed like he was some saint, he was a business man don't forget. Holy shit.

Yeah Bill Gates did questionable things to get where he was but I respect him more for not being and arrogant dick about the products he releases, and now he is GIVING most of his wealth away. Steve Jobs was quoted as saying philanthropy would be distracting, and understandably stopped the charity program when the company was on the urge of bankruptcy but never reinstated it when it was flying high. I respect Apple more now that Tim Cook is in charge for re-instating the charity program.

Did I like Steve Jobs? No he was arrogant and kind of an asshole, traits I don't admire. But I respected him for taking quality products to market and marketing it to people making them think they absolutely needed it. I say he made technology fashionable, and fashion changes every season. That was good for business.

singingfish 3 days ago 0 replies      
Hmm, Gates' approach is responsible for some monumental inefficiency in the PC landscape.

The fact that microsoft's technology is more or less irelevant to anybody who works outside of the internal corporate ecosystem these days is a nice, and fitting testament to Gates' failures. Kudos to him to leaving the industry to do something more useful with his cash at the right time. Jobs appaears to have died at a fitting time, considering he never had to re-position himself the way that gates' has had to. <disclaimer>I have relatives who benefit from the B&MG foundation</disclaimer>

BuddhaSource 3 days ago 1 reply      
Yes Apple has shipped some amazing products but they were limited with only few products. Now that does't mean somebody else has to compete in the same respect, Microsoft had different focus & vision. They wanted to go the IBM way, consumer & businesses. I feel they have done a good job.

Beside they are not thief, its business. Apple products are far more expensive than Microsoft, the difference between 16GB & 32GB iPhones are not justified. People have a notion that Mac OS is far more refined than Windows. Well I feel they are wrong, windows 7 is far more customizable & stable on many devices etc than Mac OS. Apple is a good hardware company, they build brillant product that you can look & feel but they are not good at softwares. Mac OS is an extension of unix under a limited environment where as Ms Windows which was build in house can virtually run on any machine.

I am not a Microsoft Fan but using Ms products for quite some time, I always liked Apple's products, I would say Steve just knows how to sell. A good example is the way he packaged & sold the 1st iMac in a translucent box which looked amazing, with the same hardware inside.

Now when I started exploring the world of Apple I realized its little too over hyped that what its actually worthy of.

If you think about it now, Steve Jobs had more failures than Bill. Both had ups & downs but I feel Bill was more consistent when he was at Microsoft.

powerfulninja 4 days ago 4 replies      
Who hates Bill Gates? I can understand some people not approving of Microsoft in general (and for me specifically Internet Explorer) but Bill Gates as a person has done amazing things-- both for technology and humanity.
giardini 3 days ago 0 replies      
Easy. One sees the destruction he left in his wake.
T_S_ 3 days ago 0 replies      
Gates did an amazing job of taking advantage of my many bosses ignorance in the early 90's. We all still pay for that, though less and less it seems. Thank goodness he left Balmer in charge.

As for the the whole redemption through philanthropy thing, it's fun to watch the wealthy compete in the legacy game. Go Bill!

Zarathust 4 days ago 1 reply      
At the time of Windows 98/ME, I really hated Bill Gates. We had no viable alternative for an OS and the current state of things wasn't likely to change for a long time. Now over a decade later, Windows is much better, up to a point that I no longer feel ashamed to use it.
chernevik 3 days ago 0 replies      
Philanthropy demonstrates good will as well as indulgences demonstrated sanctity.

There's nothing more materialist than associating virtue with the scale of one's donations.

lispm 3 days ago 1 reply      
Gates and his company were responsible for several releases of a very depressing operating system and a lot of shitty business software. I use Microsoft Word and it is amazingly bad. It is full of bugs, has a complex user interface but simple things don't work correctly and Microsoft hasn't been able to fix it for a decade. Currently I work for a company which uses Microsoft Sharepoint. It fulfills all expectations I have about Microsoft software and their services.
Still, Microsoft does deliver from time to times some good stuff, but their core software (the operating systems and their software for business) is a huge ripoff.
Tycho 2 days ago 0 replies      
I hate how in HN discussions like this, philanthropy is always exalted as some untouchable trump card. I admire Gates more for the products/achievements of Microsoft (I don't remember too many people ever saying to me 'oh i wish i had a Mac, Windows is like a hellish prison I cannot escape from' - it was more like 'you use a Mac? lulz') than the achievements of the Bill and Melissa Gates Foundation. Personally.

And much of the moaning about Microsoft's so-called monopolies just sounds like sour grapes.

Limes102 3 days ago 0 replies      
I love Mac OS, but I definitely do not hate Bill Gates. He made computers affordable and accessible, while making a lot of money. A lot of that money has gone to charities which is great.
chunkyslink 3 days ago 0 replies      
>> How Can Anyone Still Hate Bill Gates?

For being a part of Internet Explorer. I just cant let it go!

nks 2 days ago 0 replies      
I've always been a little confused as to why whenever Jobs and Gates come under discussion, there is an instant contrast drawn with either one placed on completely different extremes. One was good other was bad, one was creative other was not, one was spiritual and zen-like and the other was stuffy and corporate. It's almost like they cannot be reconciled in any way possible.

I feel like people often conflate people with their creations and forget that they both are human beings who change, evolve and behave differently under different contexts.

I mean, they both are/were great visionaries and their greatness was manifested in different ways just like their weaknesses in personalities. They both created lasting companies which changed the world at an age where most of us are still figuring out what to do with our lives.

You don't have to hate BillG in order to like Steve Jobs or vice versa.

I personally find inspiring traits in both of them.

tnicola 3 days ago 0 replies      
This kind of makes me angry as well. Partly because I was about to write almost identical blog whilst deciding whether to buy a MacBook Air or a Lenovo IdeaPad. MacBook won, but only because Apple insists on me owning Apple in order to publish to their bookstore. A move I deem despicable and rude.

Until recently, Apple was also the biggest polluter in their sector and their philanthropic side is non-existent.

That and, does nobody remember that Jobs ripped off Xerox?

"Every OS wastes your time, from the desktop to the lap. Everything since abacus, just a bunch of crap. From Mackintosh to Microsoft to Lin, Line, Lin, Line-ux. Every computer crashes, cause every OS sucks!"


coup 3 days ago 0 replies      
Well, whether the market competitors were innocent victims of Gates' savvy schemes or whether he was just better at executing the same tricks and basics in that business is up for debate.
For me, he's just another, rather due to his economical than technical knowledge, financially successful person in our brutally unfair world.
What he does with his money is comparatively pretty noble but on an absolute scale neither very effective nor intelligent.
bediger 4 days ago 0 replies      
Two famous saying come to mind:

"Trust, but verify."

and as Ben Franklin once said, "Keep your eyes on it, and feel for your hatchet." I'd add to keep the other hand on your wallet.

VikingCoder 3 days ago 0 replies      
If I was Tim Paterson, I'd be pretty pissed at Bill Gates.
Apocryphon 3 days ago 0 replies      
I wonder what Larry Ellison will end up doing.
omlette 3 days ago 0 replies      
im skeptical that any amount of damage bill gates might have done to technology is outweighed by millions of vaccines and thousands of schools in developing countries.
uris 3 days ago 0 replies      
Reads something fabricated by Newsmax.
toddh 3 days ago 0 replies      
rayhano 4 days ago 0 replies      
Here here
keeptrying 4 days ago 0 replies      
I dont hate Gates. I hate windows because its so annoying.
tobylane 4 days ago 1 reply      
Bill Gates definitely agrees with Occupy Wall Street. He hates the 1% and helps the 99%. But he didn't get the full message, so he thinks its the top 1% in the world, which is roughly the group with good access to a good computer. So he gave a crappy OS to the top 1% in the world, and a lot of well needed help (medical/etc) to the 99%.

Just to point out, joking. Timeline doesn't work, and Windows isn't so bad.

kwanbis 4 days ago 2 replies      
Well, if Hitler was alive today, and he started doing charity, people would still hate him. Obviously BG is not Adolf, but is a on purpose exaggerated example. He did so much damage on the beginning.
napierzaza 4 days ago 1 reply      
Jobs is right. Gates gave up and lost interest. He lifted his head up and realized he needn't work ever again and didn't get any satisfaction from working. So why not give away the money you made since you couldn't possibly give enough away in your lifetime. Gates couldn't even make a dent in his lifestyle at the rate he's going.

As for Steve Jobs. He kept his head down and kept working. And when you talk about CEOs you're talking about 24 hours a day working. No time to start funds and foundations.

But where did Job's money go? He apparently lived very simply. Is his family just really filthy rich? It seems odd. Maybe it was a strange thing where he ignored that he had money and didn't want to think about? Maybe he was stockpiling it because he was poor or sick.

Just a bunch of speculation.

TomOfTTB 4 days ago 5 replies      
Here's a reason: He poisoned the world.

When Microsoft had control of the world's technology they had a choice. They could backtrack and use their enormous money reserves and 90% or more profit margins to make their products stable and reliable or they could stay the course. They chose to stay the course.

As a result people were forced to use systems that really didn't work. Yes Windows 7 crashes less than Windows 3.11 but if Microsoft had adequately tested Windows 3.11 it wouldn't have crashed so much and Windows 7 wouldn't crash at all. Think about it. How much more stable would Windows be if Microsoft had made a still respectable 20% profit rather than 90%?

People cite Apple's hardware/software coupling as a reason for its stability but let me ask you this: How many malware/virus outbreaks were brought on by Hardware flaws in the PC?

Now you have 2 generations that have grown accustomed to crap. People who shrug off their DVR locking up or their phone crashing because they're used to it. Technology has come to mean unreliable. Much of Apple's popularity has been based around the idea that Apple products "Just Work". Because in our modern world working correctly has become a rarity.

And that's Microsoft's fault. They set the tone.

And how much has that tone cost us? How much good technology could be implemented if people trusted it more? How much further could we have gone if we could have focused more of humanity's intelligence on Curing Cancer and less on Curing the newest malware that exploits one of the endless bugs in Windows?

As far as his charitable contributions I'd point to the enormous amount of money spent fixing problems with Microsoft's crappy software and ask this: How much of that IT money would people have donated to charity if they hadn't lost it maintaining shoddy solutions? I don't know the answer but between viruses, malware, and Windows bugs you have 300 billion a year in the U.S. alone. It wouldn't take a large percentage of that to match the roughly $60 billion in Gates' personal fortune.

So don't tell me Gates is Superman because he's not.

Teachers write their own online textbook, save district $175,000 therepublic.com
305 points by tokenadult  2 days ago   100 comments top 22
VengefulCynic 2 days ago 2 replies      
Have you ever been party to textbook adoption time? The textbook companies are buying dinners and drinks for the teachers, "conferences" for the department chairs and offers of all manner of paid amenities for the school district.

Obviously, with a pricing model that can afford sales costs like that and a price tag like $175,000 for district-wide adoption of a single textbook, the industry is ripe for disruption. At the same time, the industry probably has lobbyists poised to protect their model with "think of the children."

I know that my wife (who has been through several of these textbook adoption periods) is frustrated beyond belief based on the cost/benefit ratio of these textbooks as opposed to what the district could probably pay its teachers to produce themselves. I can only imagine that if this sort of thing spreads beyond a negligible percentage of schools making their own texts, the textbook makers will probably become more actively involved in stopping it.

HilbertSpace 1 day ago 2 replies      
Okay, the book they wrote is at


and I started reading it.


No one should take a course from that book. The authors of the book don't know the subject.

That book won't be a prerequisite for anything important.

So, if want a first course in probability and statistics, then get a college textbook and/or just go to college.

More generally, in college in the US, in math, physical science, and engineering, quite good texts are easy to find, and the best texts are excellent. Moreover, the prerequisites for college are quite basic, essentially just the '3Rs' where for 'rithmetic' we do include algebra and plane geometry (trigonometry and solid geometry would also be good).

So, in K-12, just get the 3Rs and then start with college texts and/or just college.

In particular, for anything much past the 3Rs, just f'get about K-12. Bluntly, as illustrated by the book of this thread, the K-12 system is rarely able to teach anything worthwhile much beyond just the basic 3Rs.

This conclusion is not new: Once I looked at AP calculus. Don't. The people who wrote the AP calculus materials don't understand calculus. Instead, for calculus, just get a good college text and dig in. I learned from Johnson and Kiokemeister, taught from Protter and Morrey, and have seen several other good college calculus texts, e.g., from Thomas. When I was studying and, later, teaching calculus in college, there was no shortage of good texts. Just why K-12 has so much trouble getting good calculus texts is strange and tragic.

Once I looked at some materials on optimization, i.e., linear programming, developed by the K-12 system in North Carolina. Don't. Those materials fill several much needed gaps on the library shelves and would be illuminating if ignited. The authors didn't understand linear programming.

The site


has some excellent quotes from Feynman looking at K-12 texts. Feynman was correct, and apparently the situation has not changed.

My qualifications: I hold a Ph.D. from one of the world's best research universities; there I did research on optimization and also on stochastic optimal control. For calculus, I've done well studying it, advanced calculus, and well beyond, taught calculus in college, applied calculus in business and to problems of US national security, and published peer-reviewed original research using calculus. For optimization, I've studied it at advanced levels, applied it in both in business to problems of US national security, taught it in college and graduate school, and published peer-reviewed original research in it. My startup has some original, crucial, core, powerful, valuable 'secret sauce' that is based on some advanced topics in applied math including 'analysis' (way past calculus), probability, and statistics.

edtechdev 2 days ago 2 replies      
Yeah there are hundreds of examples of open textbooks for both the K-12 and college levels. It's nice to see a few school districts (and colleges - like Western Governors) officially adopting them and replacing the old books. However, again, thousands of instructors are already doing so individually ('edupunks' :)

Here are some open textbook sites:





Related are the many wiki-based books & notes created in or for courses. For example:



stock_toaster 2 days ago  replies      
It is a bit sad that things like:

> The problem with mass-produced textbooks, Engelhaupt explained, was that they can cost $65 each and aren't aligned with Minnesota's math tests so the district would be paying for whole chapters that are never used.


> She said most high school textbooks are written to the requirements of Texas and California, the two biggest markets for the book publishers. It means often a third of the books go unused in Minnesota, she said.

appear to be the current state of things. Instead of targeting a good education in the subject, the norm today seems to be to teach k-12 students to pass the aptitude tests, not necessarily to learn the material itself.

cturner 2 days ago 0 replies      
Oblig. feyman link on textbooks in schools:
mgkimsal 2 days ago 3 replies      
How long before textbook publishers start threatening to sue districts that use these sorts of texts? Or start playing with prices, such that districts are 100% "publisher X" get discount pricing, while other districts get "a la carte" pricing at 3-5x other districts?

Yes, I'm a bit far out about this stuff, but education is big business and the more this sort of idea spreads, the more it erodes publishers' profits - they'll fight back sooner or later (maybe it's already happening?)

chrishenn 2 days ago 4 replies      
One of the physics teachers at my school wrote a textbook for his students. He did so because he wasn't happy with whatever you can buy. I haven't taken the class yet, but it's supposed to be one of the best at my school.

The district won't let him sell the book to his students, so they have to print it out online. (It's here for anyone that's interested: http://www.tamdistrict.org/Page/3217)

TWSS 2 days ago 0 replies      
As someone with a failed education startup in my past, this makes me deliriously happy. It means that there are still teachers out there who haven't had all the initiative beaten out of them yet.

That said, yes, education publishing is a huge business. It's really only a matter of time until the publishers take over the digital publishing space, too.

brudgers 1 day ago 0 replies      
I remember seeing Clifford Stoll on CSPAN saying something along the lines of "Rich Schools will have good teachers, poor schools will just have computers."

The article reminds me that this will extend to textbooks.


protomyth 2 days ago 2 replies      
I applaud the effort, but I will bet money on a follow-up story about a copyright lawsuit filed by some publisher.
daemin 2 days ago 1 reply      
On the one hand this is brilliant and a good 'rebuttal' to the expensive textbook market. I think that this style works particularily well with subjects such as Maths where there is little to no disagreement or controversy on the subject matter taught (unlike say biology in the USA).

But that raises a concern of mine, where every school creates their own textbook, they are free to include their own side or angle of a particular topic, much to the detriment of their students. Sure this can be done in the current situation, but I would wager it would be easier to get experts to review one or a handful of textbooks rather than one for every school.

Maybe some sort of cooperative organisation is what is required here, to share the best of the cooperatively created textbooks around.

artursapek 2 days ago 0 replies      
a third of the books go unused in Minnesota

The regional issues raised in this article are a great example of how computers still have a lot of world-changing to do. Doing things the old-fashioned way is sometimes just senseless when there's an alternative.

mixmastamyk 1 day ago 0 replies      
A compelling article. I'd love to see open-source textbooks on github/bitbucket to be built to html/pdf and easily portable to kindle/ipad, etc, etc. The ability for students to submit bugs and patches would be awesome and empowering for them.
bd_at_rivenhill 2 days ago 0 replies      
I've been waiting for something like this to happen. If the teachers' unions could get behind this on a national level and coordinate the creation of open access online texts for all subjects, then I might start thinking that they're something other than dinosaurs worthy of extinction. They have no reason to support the publishers' goals of keeping prices high since less money spent on textbooks is more money that can be spent on salaries, and their political power would counterbalance the corporate lobbying.
motowilliams 2 days ago 0 replies      
I'm curious about how an Amazon Publishing house stepping into the education arena might offer some disruption to the Texas Board of Education on their indirect grip on textbook standards. I suppose there is a chance of lobbing being replaced by a gaming of the system, as it were, but it might allow more visibility into the content that is being used in the your child's district. There is still the problem of the electronic media versus physical copies but maybe a Raspberry PI at ~$25 would make it more appealing.
grandalf 2 days ago 0 replies      
It should be a requirement to be hired as a teacher that a person be capable of writing (or significantly contributing to) a quality textbook of the subject matter they are going to teach.
WalterBright 1 day ago 0 replies      
It's a mystery to me why school textbooks are not a solved problem, after 100 years and tens of thousands of schools.
dquigley 2 days ago 2 replies      
Maybe I missed it in the article, but what online tool were they using to develop the textbook?
mquinlan 2 days ago 0 replies      
This type of approach seems to beg for collaboration between schools. If something like this can be done for such a fraction of the normal price, what's stopping a school from molding this existing text to their own curriculum or building their own book from a repository of texts and other existing "open-source" books? Then they could allocate spending elsewhere.
biaxident 1 day ago 0 replies      
The thing that I was most amazed at in schools was the lack of sharing resources. There was very little sharing between teachers in the same school and even less between schools.

This seems like a massive waste of time as most of these teachers spend a large amount of time creating these resources and most of these schools teach very similar syllabuses.

Creating resources like this textbook is a great step forward, if more teachers could collaborate to create really great resources it would not only improve the education provided to students but also free up teachers from spending all of their time creating custom resources.

ajaimk 2 days ago 1 reply      
This is great but the reality is also, "Professors write their own textbook, cost students $175,000 and an arm"
teja1990 1 day ago 0 replies      
Book Manufacturers instead of worrying about what this might do to the book industry, it'll help if they think how to make it an advantge to us. Tweaking always helps:)
Why the Mac App Sandbox makes me sad lacquer.fi
295 points by pavlov  5 days ago   187 comments top 30
nhaehnle 5 days ago 4 replies      
In general, this type of sandbox is a Good Thing. I would love to live in a world where the default environment for any program is a very limited sandbox that can only interact with the outside world via standardized UI elements. That is, outside a data store specific to the application, it can only access files via the standard dialogs, and so forth.

The potential for malware distribution would be significantly reduced in such a world, because yes, there will always be stupid users, but you cannot blame all the stupidity on the user.

Even I as a power user would like to try out little programs that I find on the internet - and that includes small games and screensavers, which are cliche carriers of malware. Yet I simply cannot safely try them out without an exorbitant amount of work. Having a proper sandbox environment as de facto standard outside of web browsers would be awesome.

That said, it absolutely sucks that Apple combines an idea that is a Good Thing in principle with idiotic policies - if it is indeed true what the article claims.

ryannielsen 5 days ago 2 replies      
Some points of clarification to eliminate some FUD, especially around plugins:

- Signed and sandboxed applications are not prevented from using plugins. No code loading restrictions are placed upon such processes. Furthermore, Lion-only apps could employ an XPC based plugin architecture and entirely avoid loading code into their address space.

- Plugins do not need to exist within the app's bundle. Plugins don't even necessarily need to exist within a sandboxed app's container, if that app requests an exception to read its plugin directory (e.g. ~/L/Application Support/MyApp/Plug-ins).

- Plugins can be signed and distributed independently from their host app.

- Calling out restricted Thunderbolt access is a misnomer. AFAIK, there is no public Thunderbolt API now and as Thunderbolt is largely PCI Express + DisplayPort, any kind of access would have required kexts anyway. As kernel extensions already aren't allowed on the App Store, this isn't (just) a sandbox restriction.

- Bluetooth devices can likely be accessed via AppleBluetoothUSBHCIController, which provides a USB HCI interface to any compatible BT devices.

- You can read/write files in a known location on a network disk (or any disk) if you simply ask for permission once per launch. In fact, if you opt-in to auto termination, that user-granted entitlement will persist across most app relaunches, as long as the app's serialized state is preserved[1]. (And if you filed a radar requesting such a feature, it's very possible Apple would find a way to persist that user-granted entitlement across all app relaunches.)

Regarding other points, it is true that Firewire access is restricted, as is general filesystem access and frame buffer access. Likewise, a sandboxed app is prevented from sending Apple Events to arbitrary applications, breaking a good bit of IPC. It's fair to complain about these restrictions (some of them affect my apps, and working around them will not be simple and may require removing popular features), but please don't cloud the issue with misinformation.

[1] http://www.cocoabuilder.com/archive/cocoa/308884-sandboxing-...

kstenerud 5 days ago 2 replies      
One problem with sandboxing is that it stifles innovation.

Many of the innovations in computers (dynamic libraries, drivers, plugins, screen grabbing, password managers, etc) came from being able to do anything on your computer. Once the sandbox lockdown is complete, you won't be able to invent new techniques that require entitlements the gatekeeper hasn't thought of already.

The sandbox marks the end of the open system. Protecting users from malware is a noble goal, but I don't see sandboxing as an effective enough tool to justify the loss of freedom. iOS is still to this day being compromised with ease despite its massively locked-down design, and I don't see the cat-and-mouse game ending any time soon. In fact, the malware danger from email and web pages is FAR higher than that from shady apps.

The motivation for the app store is purely financial, of course, which means that over the coming years it's in their interests to command as much control as possible, even to the point of eliminating unsigned apps altogether once the app store ecosystem is mature enough (plus it will allow them to finally kill Flash off all Apple platforms for good, as well as hobble all competing browsers, and, well, pretty much any software they decide to compete with). I don't see this scenario playing out well.

dmbaggett 5 days ago 3 replies      
This is all so well-played by Apple: evolve ever more locked down systems in seemingly consumer-friendly ways. Once consumers forget they can even install their own applications (except through the app store), OS X distribution will be just as heavily moderated by Apple as iOS distribution.

Expect Apple, Microsoft, and Google to exert ever more control over distribution. The software industry is evolving into the "studio model" just as the movie industry did decades before: 5-7 huge players controlling absolutely everything that sees the light of day. Everything else is small-time "indie" stuff that hits big every once in a while, but is otherwise irrelevant. (It took Apple to make Microsoft realize this was something they could actually get away with -- thanks, Apple!)

Nintendo's been doing this for years with their consoles. It's not good for developers, and not good for innovation. But it's very good for the studios, because it gives them complete control, and makes a new player emerging out of nowhere (as Google themselves did circa 2000, or Facebook did circa 2009) much less likely. The cartel stays nicely entrenched.

How long 'til websites are similarly locked down? Will users forget they can just type a URL in, and instead install everything through their friendly neighborhood web app store? (Don't laugh.) Who will approve websites? Oh right, the 5-7 huge players. Got it.

I don't want to sound like a tin-foil hat here, but having spent my youth in the console game business (Naughty Dog), this seems all too familiar...

saturdaysaint 5 days ago 6 replies      
This article mostly seems to ignore the fact that you can still distribute apps outside of the App Store. In fact, considering the falling costs of hosting and easy access to marketing tools (look at the quality of the website for any Mac App), it's probably never been easier.

For pro apps with dedicated audiences (see: Adobe, Ableton, Avid, Nuance) which is just about anything with a plugin architecture, the App Store's distribution is unnecessary. These are established companies with deep links into creative communities. As a consumer, when you're looking at spending hundreds of dollars on, say, music software, you don't care what's in the "Top 25" or on Apple's "Featured" list (if you're smart) - you care about what the people you're working with are using and the opinions of specialized professionals.

lallysingh 5 days ago 1 reply      
I just bought a new laptop. The last 3 were powerbooks/macbook pros. I saw the app store on os x and decided on a lenovo this time, running linux (xmonad helped tip that scale).

I'm really glad I went that way. I'm sure that this is a good thing (tm) for most users, and will help avoid all sorts of problems. But the Mac's becoming more of an appliance, and while it's safer, easier, and more convenient for most users, it makes it a substantially less desirable machine for me to hack on.

There's a tradeoff between making the developer environment and user environment closer together -- to make the machine more amenable for hacking, to reduce the wall for development, and to make the platform a good place to learn how to write code -- vs farther, to make it a simpler, safer environment for users. So far, the bias has been on the former, but it's changing.

What's interesting is that this may, for the time being, push app development server-side (to the web) as the client environments become more hack-inhospitable.

statictype 5 days ago  replies      
This would worry me if there weren't at least two other major Operating Systems available to choose from.

The Mac is moving more towards simplicity and safety - targeting normal consumers.

That's fine.
Ironically, now Linux and Windows (and anything else that comes up down the line) will have to serve as the 'Computer for the rest of us'

sirn 5 days ago 1 reply      
I thought 1Password 3.9 (the MAS version) was already using App Sandboxing and I don't feel limited at all. Dropbox syncing works fine like before and browser extensions works better than before (without all the ugly InputManager hacks). Basing on this one app I often use, I'm overall happy with sandboxing so far.
heyrhett 5 days ago 1 reply      
I think that it demonstrates that we've passed the era where people
want "a computer" to do things. People want a smartphones, tablets,
notebooks, etc. People are not buying these devices for their raw
computing power, and they don't want the freedom to access all of it.
People want these devices to "work" at their respective tasks.

Apple is becoming the sole gatekeeper of apps to their devices. For
example, after begrudgingly allowing 22 or so "fart" apps into the app
store, they said, "ok, we gave you some fart apps, now you have enough
fart apps, we aren't going to allow any more fart apps into the
store". If some developer comes up with the best fart app ever, there
is no practical way for him to distribute it any more.

I see this as an insane amount of power for one company to have.
Imagine if MS did the same thing with windows. If they did it 10
years ago, they would have been sued for monopolistic practices, but
now that Apple's doing it, and Apple is a viable competitor to MS,
can't MS do the same thing, and now we are stuck with basically 2
companies deciding all of the software that can be installed on 99% of
the computers that people use?

This is a sad future to me.

nknight 5 days ago 2 replies      
I can think of only two GUI apps I semi-regularly use that can't fit within those restrictions: VMware Fusion, and Steam.

Plugins are a red herring. Some poorly-designed plugin infrastructures will not be workable, boo-hoo. Valid use cases can be accommodated with proper message passing. Maybe we'll finally get applications that don't crash horribly because of buggy plug-ins?

guard-of-terra 5 days ago 2 replies      
Don't they distribute xcode via appstore? it obviously dould not fit in the sandbox. If they make it an exception, can't they be hammered for monopolizing the development tools in the app store for themself?
CHsurfer 5 days ago 1 reply      
One possible strategy may be to offer a 'limited' version of your app that is compatible with the Sandbox constraints for a low price. When a user tries to do something that is not possible due to the constraints, you can inform them that the pro-version (not installed through the app-store) can eliminate this and other inconveniences.

If you are worried about destroying the market value of your app, then just charge full price on the app store and allow customer's to 'upgrade' to the unconstrained version.

This is far from ideal as it incurs lot's of overhead by maintaining two versions and extra work for the customer, but it will probably be worth it to stay on the App store.

tjogin 5 days ago 2 replies      
We don't know that much about the Mac App Store sandboxing yet, it could be perfectly benign. This is mostly a bunch of conjuring of ominous fantasies.
feralchimp 5 days ago 0 replies      
"If you choose not to sandbox your app now or to use a temporary exception entitlement, use Apple's bug reporting system to let Apple know about the issue you are encountering. Apple considers feature requests as it develops the Mac OS X platform."

So everyone with grave concerns about sandboxing is filing Radars, right?

vasi 5 days ago 1 reply      
While it's possible that Apple could ban non-App Store programs, I don't see this as the likely threat. More plausible to me is that new APIs in OS X will, like iCloud, become available only to App Store apps.

Eventually anything that's not in the App Store will feel like the most ancient Carbon apps feel now. Why prompt an exodus of users over a mass ban of apps, when you can just slowly and surely take over the market instead?

makira 5 days ago 3 replies      
The problem with the current sandboxing is the missing entitlements, for simple things like:

- Using the burning framework (cd & dvd burning)

- Interfacing with Apple Remotes

- Having a shared container between a main app and a helper app

Also, many utilities will have to be removed from the App Store because of sandboxing, and that will likely cut revenues dramatically for those developers.

iuguy 4 days ago 0 replies      
I'm concerned about this move. As long as you can continue to install things outside of the sandbox and Mac App Store, I'm happy, but there's a massive flag going up in my head over this, I'm really not sure Apple would be able to resist the urge to integrate the locked down nature of iOS into OSX. This concerns me to the point where I'm now rethinking 3 MBP purchases as I'll be stuck with them for 4 years at work, and I don't know what OSX will be like in 4 years time.
mevodig 5 days ago 3 replies      
Ultimately, for me, this is about creating a reasonable user experience for the majority of users.

While it's easy to forget this when spending a lot of time in forums such as HN, _we_ are not that majority. This constant expectation that platforms used everyday by millions of people should be tailored to us is untenable.

rayiner 4 days ago 0 replies      
People are forgetting that as consumption apps move to the iPad/iPhone, more of the people left on the Mac will need the extra power of a non-locked-down environment.

Apple's goal is still to sell hardware. As long as they can create a newbie-safe experience on the Mac without locking out people who need to tinker, it buys them nothing to do so.

andymoe 5 days ago 0 replies      
I understand that people are worried that Apple will abuse their power and be unreasonable about granting exceptions but honestly after building many apps on the outside and seeing how things work from the inside for a year (during Lion dev) I don't think that will necessarily be the case.

Sandboxing will make OS X more secure, and that's a good thing, especially as the OS X install base pushes towards the 15% range and beyond providing a juicy target for our friends on the dark side.

Let's hope I'm right and Apple plays fair because I would like the two App Stores to keep paying my bills while there are still people who are wrong on the Internet.

dubya 5 days ago 0 replies      
I'm a bit wary of this, but it really does seem like a decent model for most things in the App store. It's pretty clear there needs to be some exception mechanism, since Xcode and Lion won't run in a sandbox, but there were already restrictions. TextWrangler in particular removed some functionality in its App store version. And things like TeXLive and the Haskell Platform and most other developer tools never appeared in the app store.
podperson 5 days ago 0 replies      
I don't think he mentions that every app has full access to its own "container". Plugins, per we, are already not possible via the app store, but it's early days yet, and I think the author needs to understand that apple will adapt to user requirements.

Comparing a software security model's trade offs between flexibility, user safety, and developer convenience with being a sharecropper is just another example of hysterical Godwinism.

Limes102 5 days ago 0 replies      
The only time I'm going to feel concerned about the sandboxing on Mac OS apps is if it's forced onto all applications.

If that happens, I shall leave Mac just like I did Windows and be forced to use Linux... I can't say I particularly like the new layout of Ubuntu so maybe I should just quite computing completely :'(

duncanwilcox 5 days ago 1 reply      
The Sandbox makes me sad.

Remove exploits of a single poorly written app spreading to the rest of my Mac and taking over make me sadder.

neanderdog 5 days ago 0 replies      
Well I've been considering a linux on my macbook pro for sometime as os x has (e|de)volved. This pretty much clinches it for me.
shampoo 5 days ago 0 replies      
Does anyone know what the adoption rate is for the App Store for Mac ? How many apps in the App Store cannot be downloaded outside of the App Store ? How many apps converted from being downloaded outside the App Store to inside. My question is, can Apple put the Genie back in the bottle ?
amartya916 5 days ago 0 replies      
It seems that the sandbox may allow for easier iCloud syncing. Since even Apple's apps like Pages, Keynote etc. cannot sync data to iCloud, it seems like an obvious feature to implement. I hope they allow App store curated 3rd party apps iCloud access as well.
super_mario 5 days ago 1 reply      
As a die hard Mac user, fuck Apple and the Mac. Honestly. After the rumor they are killing off Mac Pro, and this insane gestapo shit already under way in Lion (which I don't use), I really don't want to be associated with Apple in any way.
egsmith 5 days ago 0 replies      
Is that really the complete list of privledges? It says a child process can inherit the sandbox but not that a child process can be created. I mention it because I think the plug-in issue could be solved with child processes and sockets, or something similar.

Also, a typical program now can't access a generic thunderbolt device directly (it would be done via the file system which is a possible privilege). Thunderbolt devices are in PCI address space and this needs to be done via the kernel even now.

But it does raise a question: What about 3rd party device drivers?

All in all, I think most of these sandbox arguments underestimate developer creativity.

atwhn 5 days ago 0 replies      
I am altering the deal. Pray I don't alter it any further.
About Userlook userlook.com
286 points by Uniosguru  5 days ago   69 comments top 24
stevanl 5 days ago 1 reply      
This is great, though accidentally noticed it can be taken out of context: http://cl.ly/2M1b273Q0A2Q2e2z1N2t :)
creativityhurts 5 days ago 3 replies      
The original is actually this one http://www.technologywithpassion.com/about-us/team/

When others copy you it must be a good thing.

jmhobbs 5 days ago 3 replies      
I love this one, just watch the guys for a bit to see it: http://secretpenguin.com/about/
Nemisis7654 5 days ago 4 replies      
I have to wonder, with about pages like this, do some people not take them seriously? I'm a young guy (22) and I find it interesting. To me, it shows that they are a company that can have some fun. Which is a good thing, in my opinion. But I know there are a lot of experienced entrepreneurs on here, ones that probably are more business oriented. What are your guys' opinions on this?

(I hope this comment doesn't sound like a backhanded compliment or anything. I'm really just curious).

ishi 5 days ago 1 reply      
Pretty sure they made this page specifically to get to HN front page. Userlook was posted to HN a month ago, then 3 weeks ago, then 3 days ago... The previous attempts were more straightforward but not very successful.

See http://www.hnsearch.com/search#request/all&q=userlook

tudorizer 5 days ago 1 reply      
Come on guys, make that top left logo clickable.
kabir_h 5 days ago 1 reply      
Here's a great one: http://wistia.com/about/team
Type 'dance'.
sethg 5 days ago 2 replies      
The company address is in California, but the phone number given is “+77071120122”. Do they actually have a landline in Kazakhstan, or is that a typo?
PonyGumbo 5 days ago 0 replies      
Twitter links for the two guys on the left are broken. Also, no bios or expertise? It looks more like a contact page than an About page.
njharman 5 days ago 2 replies      
Really? I don't see what's so awesome. Not saying its bad, just it's not much different than others.

Edit: reading comments I get impression it has mouse overs and other stuff that doesn't do anything on touch devices

Now I think it's kind of fail

Nic0 5 days ago 1 reply      
I almost miss the thing as I use vimperator+firefox, I don't use the mouse that much.

Funny anyway.

jeffreymcmanus 5 days ago 0 replies      
If you do it just right you can make them do the head-bobbing dance from "Night at the Roxbury". WHAT IS LOVE? BABY DON'T HURT ME.
nicoslepicos 5 days ago 0 replies      
Just was listening to classical music while i came across this... directing them to the music was incredibly entertaining.
true_religion 5 days ago 1 reply      
I like the about page, but as for the site---what's to differentiate this from Google Analytics Realtime?
da5e 5 days ago 0 replies      
Fun page. Even has a little easter egg when you point to the cheese. I think this spawns an adage: It's not whether you're first, it's whether you're first to hit HN front page.
mcterry 5 days ago 0 replies      
Awesome about page. Awesome that the creators are on here taking feedback/recommendations and implementing some of them. Thanks for sharing! Keep up the great work and keep having fun.
ralph 5 days ago 1 reply      
What's the 11th image for in the background sprites?
lionyo 5 days ago 0 replies      
ButcherMan 5 days ago 1 reply      
Great, now I have the Brady Bunch theme stuck in my head.
casca 5 days ago 1 reply      
Cute, but I'd have thought that one of the purposes of the Team pages is to associate that person with the company through a search engine. So this might look good, but in my mind doesn't meet the primary requirement of the Team page.
bdclimber14 5 days ago 1 reply      
Personally I think this is very clever and a great hack. However, I'd like to know how long it took to create this and point out that the time would probably be better spent directly building the product given the startup's stage, rather than superficial pages. Then again, maybe the intention all along was to get traffic from HN, in which case I'm sure it was worth it.
Online graduate-level machine learning course from CMU's Tom Mitchell cmu.edu
265 points by ilcavero  3 days ago   31 comments top 8
monk_the_dog 3 days ago 4 replies      
I'm enrolled in the online Applied ML class from Stanford, and I've also been watching this course from CMU (I'm up to the Graphical Model 4 lecture - almost the midterm). If you've taken at least one stats class you'll get much more out of CMU's class.

BTW, here are some good online resources for machine learning:

* The Elements of Statistical Learning (free pdf book): http://www-stat.stanford.edu/~tibs/ElemStatLearn/

* Information Theory, Inference, and Learning Algorithms (free pdf book): http://www.inference.phy.cam.ac.uk/mackay/itila/

* Videos from Autumn School 2006: Machine Learning over Text and Images: http://videolectures.net/mlas06_pittsburgh/

* Bonus link. An Empirical Comparison of Supervised Learning Algorithms (pdf paper): http://www.cs.cornell.edu/~caruana/ctp/ct.papers/caruana.icm... Note the top 3 are tree ensembles, then SVM, ANN, KNN. Yes, I know there is no 'best' classifier.)

drats 3 days ago 2 replies      
Silverlight? Are these people serious? Whether you are an educational institution or a for-profit media company, you are trying to get to the largest number of people and cause them the fewest problems. Silverlight fails spectacularly at both those objectives.

Edit: I know there seems to be a flash player component as well, but it's failing for me and can't get to the .mp4. Which doesn't speak well of the joker who cobbled the site together either.

amirmc 3 days ago 1 reply      
"To view a video you will have to login with your CMU Andrew username and password, ..."

Also, requires Silverlight (which I don't fancy installing)

Edit: This is the Tom Mitchell that Andrew Ng refers to early on in the Stanford ML lectures (when defining Machine Learning)

Maven911 3 days ago 3 replies      
I hope this question doesnt come off as too new naive but due to the amount of links on the front page about ML - what is so fascinating about ML??
Why is there not the same level of interest/links on topics such as cryptology, graphics, circuits, comp architecture ?
igrekel 3 days ago 0 replies      
I'm disappointed that there isn't a video for hidden markov models and other models for time series tough, just slides. The schedule says that session is in march, maybe by then there will be a video online.
kky 3 days ago 0 replies      
I love that open source mentality (sharing and collaborating for the love of the work, community, and result) is reaching higher ed. I can't wait for it to reach lower ed! If kids start seeing this model at a young age...
zeratul 3 days ago 1 reply      
Three most important issues in ML are missing for this course:

* Feature selection, Overfitting, Bias-Variance tradeoff

Maybe one of the prof Mitchell's students can make the missing slides available online?

ya3r 3 days ago 0 replies      
As Tom Mitchell says on the first video, this course is recommended for Phd students.
Facebook detects if you are logged in Gmail stackexchange.com
261 points by phwd  3 days ago   87 comments top 16
raganwald 3 days ago  replies      
Not sure how they are doing this, but I have gotten tired of having to play “whack-a-mole” with FB scraping private information from my browser in other ways, so what I have done is sandboxed it: I have a separate “Facebook” account on OS X, and I assume that anything I do on that account is shared with Facebook.

I don't log into Facebook for any reason on my normal user account, and I don't log into anything else on my Facebook account. They can still sniff certain things using browser fingerprinting and so on, but this seems like the best I can do for the moment on my desktop.

the_mitsuhiko 3 days ago 5 replies      
It's not very hard to do. The trick is to know a resource that only the user can access and then trigger an HTTP request to it.

For instance if you have website a and say the user profile "mitsuhiko" can only be edited when you are logged in as "mitsuhiko" on http://a.example.com/profile/edit/mitsuhiko you could use this code to see if the logged in user is "mitsuhiko":

    <script type="text/javascript" src="http://a.example.com/profile/edit/mitsuhiko"
onload="user_is_logged_in()" onerror="user_is_logged_out()" async="async"></script>

Why does this work? Because onload is fired if the resource answers with 200 OK, not if it's a valid script. onerror is called for any other error code.

So if you know what you are probing for: easy.

// Edit: Yes, this is most likely not what Facebook is doing if that's their only method of security. However see my reply to the first comment here about the security aspect for a possible way to solve this problem.

antimatter15 3 days ago 0 replies      
When I tried the same thing, it popped up a OpenID dialog the first time, and I confirmed it by seeing facebook.com on https://accounts.google.com/b/0/IssuedAuthSubTokens Revoking the facebook token causes Facebook to prompt again.

Subsequent attempts make the auth dialog flash briefly without displaying any content and still present the "You can change your password immediately because you are logged into your email account on this browser" message.

irrumator 3 days ago 1 reply      
That's pretty neat, I wish they'd publish on how they did this so others could use it. Sounds like another great way to remove friction for the user, always a great thing.
nikcub 2 days ago 0 replies      
It must be using oAuth. I think it was a mistake in the oAuth protocol to not build in a default, short, expiration for secret keys. Now users (most of them non-tech savvy) have to rely on visiting the apps page and manually removing authorizations.

Edit: I just profiled the process, and it is using OpenID. It pops open a new window that will check your OpenID login and call back with a success and will close the window if it is. I had to slow down my connection to actually see it.

nchuhoai 3 days ago 1 reply      
I think they should have used that information differently. Given they know that you are already logged into your gmail, any visitor to your machine will therefore know how to reset the password to his advantage.

Instead, they should have make a block, so that you are forced to logout of your gmail and login to your gmail to enhance security.

enneff 3 days ago 0 replies      
The latest Chrome dev channel release includes multiple profiles, where you can have multiple browser windows each running in their own sandbox. Pretty neat.
jvandenbroeck 3 days ago 1 reply      
So Facebook uses oauth to login with google, I don't get why this is worth 114 points..
whackberry 2 days ago 0 replies      
Facebook is amateur when compared to Google
zecg 2 days ago 0 replies      
This is really handy: http://disconnect.me/
dylangs1030 2 days ago 0 replies      
Question...has anyone noticed if this relationship is reciprocal? I keep an eye on my Gmail ads to see how far along they track my activity while I am logged in and browsing, but has anyone noticed Gmail ads showing content that wouldn't be there without placement or data from Facebook? Obviously this doesn't apply if you sandbox Facebook as some commenters have, but if you use both in one browser I mean. I may use Firebug and see if the two communicate while I'm logged in...
zerostar07 2 days ago 0 replies      
I ve seen this screen, but it only comes up after you give facebook Oauth access to your Gmail.
jarin 3 days ago 1 reply      
I ran into that the other day, and was pleasantly surprised. This is how interconnectivity is supposed to work.
MartinMond 2 days ago 3 replies      
I bought http://fluidapp.com/ just for Facebook.

Now I have a nice separate window for browsing Facebook and nothing but Facebook.

Separate cookie store is awesome.

Canada 2 days ago 0 replies      
This is why facebook never gets on my noscript whitelist, why I only use it in a private browsing session and why I hardly ever login.
res0nat0r 3 days ago 0 replies      
Another day, another post up in arms about Facebook privacy. This is getting old.
Apple's 1978 office floor plan cdespinosa.posterous.com
255 points by ryannielsen  5 days ago   40 comments top 7
jaysonelliot 5 days ago 2 replies      
It's interesting to see that in such an early year, Jobs and Woz's offices are almost as far apart as they could possibly be in the building.
Yopie 5 days ago 2 replies      
It's interesting to see the toilet is in the center of the building. When Jobs took over Pixar the new campus development was planning to build three separate buildings: for creatives, for producers and for business people. But Jobs insisted that they be brought under one roof, with toilets at the centre " because that's where everyone meets and talks.
ethank 5 days ago 1 reply      
My grandparents had an Advent when I was a kid. That thing probably spat out more radiation than I ever would care to research.

It was a beautiful beast though and could heat a room.

dsr_ 5 days ago 2 replies      
Sign of the times: three secretary/receptionists for a 20 person company. I suspect they were the only female employees, too.
johnyzee 4 days ago 1 reply      
Funny how everyone is mentioned by their first name except Steve and Woz.
umjames 4 days ago 0 replies      
I also think it's interesting that with Jobs and Woz's offices being across the building from each other, that forces them to walk past everyone else to talk to each other in person. That has to make it easier for founders and executives to keep track of how things are going in the trenches. That could also make employees feel that management doesn't consider themselves "above" them.
jonerickson 5 days ago 2 replies      
Tennis Courts!
The Number One Trait of a Great Developer engineyard.com
252 points by elainejgreen  4 days ago   68 comments top 29
mekoka 4 days ago 5 replies      
This post just listed traits very prominent in hackers - deep fascination for technology, perfectionism, need for deep focus and few distractions, concern for efficiency - and wrapped this package under the label of "lack of judgment".

The problem I have with such generalization is that these scenarios are always a bit caricatural and are usually presented in a way that nicely fit the argument.

The experimental developer is required to build simple stuff, but goes to extremes just because he wants to toy with new technology, while the great one is praised for her conservative approach. It also helps that she asks exactly the right questions and receives the right answers.

“How many devices do we expect to have?”
“Well, we hope to sell 500 in 12 months.”
“How often will they need to report in?”
“Roughly once an hour.”
“How reliable is the network?”
“It'll use WiFi, so fairly reliable.”

In reality, sometimes you ask these questions, you get very accurate answers and based on that, you pick some technology that you believe will spot on address the problem. You might even make the judgment call that you have enough wiggle room to include one or two new concepts you've been curious about, that are yet still very relevant to the task at hand.

Then something happens mid-project and it turns out that what was originally requested wasn't actually what was needed. How many times has that happened?

Two possible conclusions in these situations, for either developers:

- the "rockstar" either looks like a god, for having foreseen some problems, or he'll be the guy who brought a tank to a knife fight.

- whereas the "great developer" will just look incompetent, or she'll just be, well, great.

Judgment is a nice trait for a good developer, but it is subjective. There are some hits and some misses.

What I believe makes a _great_ developer is the fact that they might work to push their own boundaries, which is the reason you're interested in them in the first place, but most importantly, when they do, they stand by their work.

I can't embrace a definition of a great developer, where the primary quality is to avoid causing trouble for the company, the project, the team or their boss. That has almost nothing to do with the discipline. You're describing a "great employee" or a "great team player".

The exact description of a great developer given in this article might absolutely not work in other environments, where developers are required to push the envelope and think outside the box. In such context, your great developer might be thought of as mediocre at best.

axiom 4 days ago 2 replies      
This article is totally true, but almost impossible to act on.

It's very very hard to differentiate people who have a passion for doing good work and people who just like to play with the latest trendy technology. Especially since the latter is often just an immature stage of the former.

danso 4 days ago 2 replies      
This essay seems to beg the question. A "good" developer, by its definition, is the who picks the most reasonable, easy to maintain technology, because she knows anything "much more complex would be beyond her current skill." Yet, if she is lacking in skill, how can we be sure her judgment is sound on what a "reasonable" and "easy" technology is? Doesn't the basis for that judgment require superstar-like experience and curiosity?
drawkbox 4 days ago 1 reply      
What this article is saying is you need someone with experience to make the right judgement. This means you need to find someone that has already gone on the 5-8 year roller coaster that a developer goes through. This from the 'just get something working', to astronaut over-architecture, to practicality that might come with running many projects and being through many successes and failures.

A good developer might be at any stage in that process and it is really a timing thing. Typically after 10 years most developers have this as long as they have not become too pessimistic and have experienced many platforms, not religious to any of them.

Experience with a beginners mind that is willing to innovate still, is the perfect balance of a 'great' developer.

6ren 3 days ago 0 replies      
HN has a lot of link bait titles these days, making you click just to find out what they are talking about. How about

  Judgment is the number one trait of a great developer

jjguy 3 days ago 0 replies      
I find the volume of defensive comments a little amusing, since three times a day we all vote up and universally agree ideas are cheap and execution is king. The author is drawing the same parallel to characteristics of individuals.

Unlike most of you, I read that and found myself saying "yes!" It's the tortoise and hare argument: good dev teams are disciplined, focused and stable. I suspect the backlash is because it stung a bit, since many here saw themselves in flighty Jack, versus measured Diane. I was there too, but have learned from a few failed projects and disappointed clients. I encourage you to reflect upon yourself a little more carefully; good execution is decidedly unsexy and needs more Diane than Jack.

CPlatypus 3 days ago 0 replies      
The real fallacy in the article is an unstated assumption - that developers should be homogeneous. Why not have a "rockstar" Jack and a "sensible" Dianne, in dynamic tension? Teams of one are the exception. In multi-person teams, focusing on the same attribute not only misses an opportunity to hire developers who complement one another but often leads to outright conflict as multiple developers lay claim to the same decisions or assignments. The author's point is slightly more applicable to choosing a lead developer, where judgment is at even more of a premium and many people would make the mistake of promoting Jack over Dianne because of his higher profile, but even then I think the article does more harm than good.
elliottkember 4 days ago 0 replies      
Seems a bit pigeon-holey to me. I'd think twice before applying such broad stereotypes.
arctangent 4 days ago 1 reply      
The article is a good example of a false dichotomy.


ryanto 4 days ago 0 replies      
I agree with the gist of this article, but there is an opposite side to this piece as well.

We do need those developers that pick the most wild, crazy, and bleeding edge technologies. New technologies shouldn't and certainly don't solve every problem out there, but they often tackle a couple of really interesting areas quite well. At the very least they allow us to question and rethink our current development stacks. Also, being one of the first to adapt to a technology has it's benefits, not saying that it justifies the risk, but it should be considered.

Also I think node js and cassandra are pretty easily maintainable, but thats not really what this is about :)

johnrob 4 days ago 0 replies      
I agree wholeheartedly with this concept. I previously used the term "instincts", but I think "judgement" is better. A solution is more than a technical implementation: it should address the actual requirements of the product as well as the characteristics of the maintainers. A combination of familiarity + ease of development + enough scalability.
lian 4 days ago 0 replies      
I think the truth of this article depends on the size of your team.

If you're hiring only one to a few developers, it's likely that you need your employees to self manage. They need to strategize, have realistic expectations, and fulfill them to the best of their abilities. "Dianne," the good developer, demonstrates these skills. So, judgment is important from this kind of developer.

However, I think that "Dianne" would be best suited to a more managerial position, focusing on her strategy skills and ability to relay needs to other developers. Handing off the implementation details to a team of rockstars, with deep and varied proficiencies, would make for a spectacularly complementary team.

And in the latter case, your best developers are - and should be - rock stars. You need to consider not only how you want your code to scale, but how your company will.

petercooper 4 days ago 1 reply      
When I look around at other companies hiring Ruby on Rails developers, I see them focusing on three major traits: Super-smart; Large community following; Deep Ruby knowledge.

I definitely agree with the thrust of the article, but I run community sites and have run Ruby job ads for a few years and I can't recall seeing anyone looking for a hire with a "large community following."

In aggregate, across all the listings I've run, companies are most usually looking for experience, team working skills, familiarity with Agile practices, TDD experience and, sadly, the ability to commute to a certain location.

SeanNieuwoudt 3 days ago 0 replies      
I would say a great developer should have the followed waxed:

1. Accurate time estimation & communication skills

2. Not suffer perfectionism

3. Know where to find the right answers

4. A good understanding of general programming concepts and when to apply

5. Ability to write code in a way that it's easy for future dev to understand

6. A good understanding of tasks other than programming and how they all fit together in a business environment

7. A good dose of enthusiasm - things can get tough, how are they going to deal with it?

I'll end my comment by saying that you won't know the extend of the damage caused by a bad developer until it's too late.

rbranson 3 days ago 0 replies      
Remember when Sinatra and Ruby on Rails were the new, hot, trendy technologies? I'm sure EY was humming a different tune back then.
azov 3 days ago 0 replies      
Judgement is indeed an important part of being a great developer, but I don't think the article is doing a good job of explaining why, or what kind of judgement.

First of all, the story about Jack & Dianne doesn't illustrate much. Why Jack ended up with unmaintainable code and Dianne didn't? And what does it have to do with the tools they've chosen? You can write unmaintainable code in any language.

It sounds like Dianne did a better job of understanding requirements. Okay, fair enough, understanding requirements is important (though I wouldn't call it "judgement"). But requirements change. They always do, that's why software has to be maintained - to reflect changing requirements. Which means that whether the code is maintainable does not depend on the code per se - it depends on how requirements change (unless the code is so bad that it can't be changed at all).

Say, if tomorrow the new requirement is to add a new API to the backend, Dianne's solution is probably more maintainable because it's simpler. But if the new requirement is to scale to 10K users, Dianne's solution might have to be rewritten from scratch, and thus completely unmaintainable.

So, to write maintainable code developer has to anticipate future changes in requirements and make tradeoffs based on those predictions. Now, that's a hard problem, that's where we need judgement and experience. This kind of judgement makes a great developer - mere conservatism in selecting tools and technologies does not.

einhverfr 3 days ago 0 replies      
I think the fundamental problem exposed in the article is actually not the hiring criteria, but rather that resumes are usually screened by HR departments who have no clue about what a job entails. So the hiring managers have to provide hiring criteria that the HR resume screener can understand. The HR resume screener is not a programmer and has no way to judge the capabilities of programmers. The hiring manager may not be either.

As seen in a Slashdot sig some time ago, "Light travels faster than sound, which is why some people appear bright until you hear them speak." Unfortunately appearances win to those who cannot understand what is being said.

va_coder 3 days ago 0 replies      
One fallacy in this article is the portrayal of the typical "regular programmer". The reality is that many regular programmers would pick something horrible but established in the enterprise like Java Struts or Oracle Web forms, not Rails, because that's "what they know".
tlammens 4 days ago 1 reply      
How do you know/decide what a "good" solution is?

It all depends on what you already know and what your team is best at.

And although a "simple" solution may look like the best choice, it too can have the same problem of maintainability.

sliverstorm 4 days ago 0 replies      
This hearkens back to what one of my professors used to tell us- "Always draw a conclusion (from your data)".

Don't just routinely foist gobs of data off onto others; you were hired for your brain. Use it.

jorangreef 3 days ago 0 replies      

For it to be judgment, it must be living and active in a programmer's mind. It can't be switched on some of the time, it must be switched on all of the time, for the mundane and the monumental. It must be sharper than a double-edged sword; it must discern the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.

pg_bot 4 days ago 0 replies      
I think that for any type of problem solving there is a clear workflow you must go through in order to efficiently come to a solution. 1.) Break down the problem to see what you are actually required to do. 2.) Think of ways in which you have solved previous problems and check whether you can do something similar to what you have done in the past. 3.) If you need to do something that you haven't done before do some research and find the tools that you need to solve the problem; if there are multiple paths to solution apply Occam's Razor. 4.) If step three didn't work, you haven't looked hard enough or you have found a problem that no one has solved before, it is most likely the former. 5.) Implement your solution; if it works great the problem has been solved. If it doesn't work retrace your steps and then take a break and come back to the problem when you have a clearer head. 99% of your problems can be solved in this manner
jgh 4 days ago 1 reply      
When I do my first interview (as the interviewer) one day, I'm going to ask "Do you read blogs by software developers?" and if they answer "Yes", I will not hire them because these blogs are a bunch of horse shit.
andrewingram 3 days ago 0 replies      
I like to think that I don't try to solve hard problems, instead I like to rephrase them as easy ones.
ww520 4 days ago 0 replies      
Great developer is relatively easy to identified. Three things: 1. get shit done, 2. good decisions on trade-offs (cost, performance, etc), 3. maintainable work.
_grrr 3 days ago 0 replies      
I always go by the maxim: "(build) the right thing at the right time". I think John Bentley said that.
ysilver 4 days ago 0 replies      
I agree with this article and have a proposal for another trait of a great dev:

A great developer is not necessarily one who writes the most elegant code, but one who knows how to walk the line between elegant code and speedy dev time.


harichinnan 3 days ago 0 replies      
The awesome ruby developer following all tenants of Martin Fowler vs the curious Joe who hacks with nosql and clojure.

The story ends with OMG!!! Ruby is still awesome.

freemarketteddy 3 days ago 1 reply      
Straw Man is the name of the fallacy!
The Knife Maker thisismadebyhand.com
253 points by rglover  13 hours ago   149 comments top 26
patio11 10 hours ago  replies      
I'm torn between "This guy clearly enjoys his work, bully for him." and "The handmade movement is an extravagantly wasteful alternative to a factory in China to give rich white people an opportunity to demonstrate their social superiority over people who use functionally equivalent objects produced in an efficient fashion." (c.f. organic food, fair trade coffee, etc etc. This topic makes me positively Marxist. There was a time when only wealthy folks could afford goods. Capitalism happened and now everyone can afford goods. This really discomfits some people, so they get very creative at inventing reasons why the goods they are using today are the right goods and the goods they were using ten years ago are now the wrong goods since poor people now have access to them.
evlapix 9 hours ago 1 reply      
Making something from nothing has always given me the greatest high. This video reminded me that it is that high that got me into software development.

When I was young (and had no money):

  - Made origami
- Learned sailors knots
- 3d sculptures of science fiction aircraft from index cards
- Bow and arrows from q-tips and underwear rubber
- Sailboats from 2x4's, coat hangers, plastic garbage bags, and fishing line
- Skateboard ramps (usually bigger than I was capable of using and with
none of the right tools)
- A workbench
- Peg board (hand drilled from scrap wood)
- Dozens of hand drawn replicas of video game/anime art
- Repaired the broken fin of a surfboard purchased at a garage sale (never used)

In high school I exploited my auto shop classes:

  - Replaced the rear differential on a 80's Mustang
- Removed a motor from an early 90's Camaro
- Built and installed a roll cage in an early 90's Camaro
- Taped and sprayed flames on a fiberglass replica 32 Ford hood
as a demonstration of a new paint line for local body shops
- Completely dismantled the engine of 87 honda civic
- Resurrected an 80's Volvo with 300k miles on it
- Made a functioning 6" cowl induction hood for my 89 SR5 Toyota Corolla

From there I got a job at a hot-rod shop:

  - Teardown of a 52 Chevy Bel Air
- Teardown, body work, and assembly of a split-window Corvette
- And countless others

In college majoring in Mechanical Engineering (what a joke):

  - Built a marshmallow launcher
- Convinced a big angry muscle man with a knife to my throat not
to hurt me, and steal a keg from a party instead

Once admitted to college, I was given a computer:

  - Pirated software
- Converted drawings to vector graphics
- Made techno songs
- Made 3d models
- Designed album covers
- Frankenstein'd countless scrap computers

After I dropped out of college I became a restaurant server:

  - Documented everything I could about HTML/CSS
- Created custom MySpace themes (and never made a dollar for it)
- Built my profile in Flash to overcome MySpace's limitations
- Hid all of the generated MySpace content (minus comments)
and built my profile from scratch

From there I became a developer. Software has been an incredible way for me to create and learn. Sadly, the projects my employers provide aren't always challenging enough. Additionally, the complimentary benefits of working with my hands versus sitting at a computer have drawn me to other projects:

  - Built an engine lift
- Restored a 1987 19' Galaxy boat that I bought
for $200 on CL (engine had collapsed into the floor)
- Bootstrapped a prototype analytics app for the last year (not launched)
- Insulated, ran electrical, and drywalled my garage
- Built a workshop (bench, storage, etc) in the garage of my new house
- Buy/restore/sell furniture on CL

Currently I'm restoring a pool table I bought for $100 on CL:

  - Built strong/true cabinet from cheap construction grade lumber
- Carved, antiqued, and stained the cabinet to make it not
look like cheap construction grade lumber
- Built a slate sled for moving the 1" thick slate pieces up to the 3rd floor

snikolic 12 hours ago 2 replies      
This series really got me thinking about the programmer as a craftsman or an artist. I know pg has written about this before, but I felt the connection for the first time as I watched these videos. I really empathized with these guys: the obsession, the passion to perfect some skill, wanting to create utility for others, the risk of failing or looking crazy, the excitement of using something you've built, chasing perfection. It all clicked for me. I think we've all caught the same bug, in some way.

Check out the other video in this series about a distiller: http://thisismadebyhand.com/film/the_distiller

All in all, this series is really beautiful and really well done. I'm looking forward to what's to come.

mapleoin 11 hours ago 5 replies      
This is the most inspirational/life-changing video I've seen all year. I really think that there is a huge amount of stuff that we could start building or making locally, individually with skill, craft and dedication.

I would love to be able to work with my hands in a workshop, learning to make unique and masterful things from a master craftsmanship instead of sitting for 8 hours a day in the office dealing with things so abstract that they disappear when you switch off the electricity.

kitcar 12 hours ago 5 replies      
I don't totally get the thought that handmade is always better.

Specifically, reminds me of a skit from Portlandia (IFC) about hand made light bulbs - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P85vZpYF3Yg .

willyt 10 hours ago 1 reply      
These are nice knives, but is this not also a really slick piece of lifestyle marketing?

Also, these knives are quite expensive. I'm not so sure if they are really up there with the handmade japanese knives[1], seems like theres a bit more to it than just sharpening a piece of hardened stainless?[2] Please correct me if I'm wrong.



pcestrada 11 hours ago 1 reply      
I found this fascinating. I love seeing people develop and demonstrate their craft in a authentic, passionate way. There is a physical component to his work where you use all your senses, such as when he feels the edge of the sharpened knife with his thumb, that you just don't have with programming. To produce a physical artifact that has the right balance, heft, lines, and finish requires the integration of a lot of different skills that when done properly, is deeply satisfying.
holdenc 11 hours ago 0 replies      
This video reminds me of why I loved living in New York. And, it epitomizes what is great about that city -- many people who believe that great art is worth the sacrifice.
efsavage 12 hours ago 0 replies      
A small part of me wishes that I didn't enjoy coding so much, or that I wasn't good at it, or that it didn't pay so much better than woodworking, which I find just as enjoyable.
wmat 11 hours ago 0 replies      
Just watched both available videos in the series and can't help but be inspired. The point that the "art is in the details" of a hand made item really resonates with me with respect to handmade guitars. Factory made guitars, from the big manufacturers such as Fender, Gibson, Martin, etc. are excellent guitars, but there's something about the attention to detail in a hand made guitar that makes it special, makes it art. I really hope they plan a film focusing on an small, independent luthier.
codeslush 11 hours ago 1 reply      
The part that struck me was when he said something along the lines of: It takes 10,000 (or 15,000) hours just to get the necessary knowledge. Then, you are at step one. You may or may not be good, but don't know until you've put in the required time.

Also, the immediate authenticity I felt by this man and this story is something amazing. Great way to start my day.

davidjhall 10 hours ago 0 replies      
If anyone finds this interesting, I recommend trying a blacksmithing/bladesmithing course in your area. I took a weekend course in knife-making and, while nowhere near the quality in these videos, it was a lot of fun to create a knife to my specs from a thin scrap of steel. In the US, take a look at ABANA.org.

Shameless plug: I've tried to start a new stack exchange on blacksmithing here: http://area51.stackexchange.com/proposals/36172/blacksmithin...

js2 8 hours ago 0 replies      
In the same vein, but I found http://devour.com/video/moroccan-woodturner/ a lot more satisfying to watch.
chrislloyd 4 hours ago 0 replies      
There's another great interview with Joel as part of the Chow.com Obsessives series (all of which are worth a look for themselves):


mml 11 hours ago 0 replies      
The thing that struck me about this film, is that he's not wearing safety goggles. Stupid move.
keiferski 6 hours ago 0 replies      
There's a lot of similar material on http://www.coolhunting.com/video

There's actually one about this same guy from 2008:

e_g 11 hours ago 0 replies      
Reminded me of this post http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=2646501 about a guy who created a knife from scratch, starting with the construction of this own smelter.
apechai 11 hours ago 3 replies      
Beautiful knives.

I hope the handmade movement really takes off. Maybe people could consume less but unique artifacts that have a real story behind them rather than accumulating mountains of mass produced, generic stuff that ends up in a trash heap a couple of years later.

xbryanx 10 hours ago 1 reply      
It's important to remember that he's not entirely making these tools by hand. He's use mass produced drill presses, sand paper, lumber, and metal alloys. I think what he's doing is nice and pretty, but let's not wrap it too much of a handmade ethos.
ambertch 6 hours ago 0 replies      
These comments are so fascinating because they illustrate with a fair degree of uniformity, the personality profile of the HN crowd.

Two kinds of people we're all aware of: logical/rational vs. emotional/creative. That whole left vs. right brain stuff.

Remember, you need to think with both points of view to tackle the big consumer tech problems (where a looooot of the $$$ is) in the coming years... so

pkamb 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Hope you didn't have anything to do today:


jjanzer 11 hours ago 0 replies      
The parallels between Joel Bukiewicz's passion and many startups are striking. Some people understand that extreme amounts of money isn't what makes them happy, rather being able to completely explore their own medium in the ways they choose is where the love is.

Amazing film, very well done.

brador 11 hours ago 1 reply      
Aside: What is with the proliferation of vimeo usage? I've found it more likely to crash my laptop, making me reluctant to click. Never had a crash from youtube.
powertower 11 hours ago 0 replies      
The other video is here: http://vimeo.com/28408829

I can't view it through their website in IE8.

marcamillion 10 hours ago 1 reply      
Where can I see the price and/or link to buy a set?
The End of the Credit Card? New Square app: Card Case slate.com
242 points by qxb  6 days ago   133 comments top 37
patio11 6 days ago 3 replies      
That is what disruptive innovation looks like. "Oh look, a multi-billion dollar problem people were trying to solve by getting two sides of the market to simultaneously ubiquitously install new hardware. How about we solve it with stuff they already own plus new software instead?"
Cherian_Abraham 6 days ago 2 replies      
I love Square, and they are a classic disruptor. They started slow, at the low end, and created their own blue ocean before starting to chew at the heels of the entrenched incumbents in the payment ecosystem.

That being said, the payment ecosystem is a pretty messed up place, even though the ugliness is all pretty much abstracted from the customer. The interchange fees charged to the merchants at times rival their margins on the items they sell. And it got ugly because it was essentially a duopoly and the stakeholders including Acquirers (MC, Visa etc) and the Issuers (Credit Card Issuers) and the POS vendors all had a pretty good reason to keep things the same.

When things are messed up because we do not have enough choice, do you think it would be preferable to hand over the keys to this to a single player - in this case Square? If Square controlled both ends, owned the customer as well as the merchant POS, and cut off everyone else in the process (by going directly to your bank account), then how long before Square starts bumping up the fees it charges each merchant? Couple that with the fact that Square will own the customer, and is in control of delivery of targeted merchant offers, and you get a sense of the size of the pie they would like to own. Anyone agree if that is a good thing? I certainly dont.

The reality is, the ecosystem will be a lot more fragmented this time around than it currently is. The various mobile wallet initiatives (and there are over 70) will eventually coalesce around a few major players, but we will be using NFC driven mobile wallets (GWallet) and Cloud based mobile wallets (Paypal/Square) and the traditional plastic form factor for a long time to come.

Square is a disruptor. And they have created a beautiful customer experience and has spurred the reinvention of the check out process. They inspired several, including me, to see how the status quo was so messed up.

Figs 6 days ago 3 replies      
> Paying for stuff with your phone sounds awesome until you stop to think about it.

Uh, it doesn't sound awesome to me at all. It sounds annoying and frustrating. Swiping a credit card is already pretty simple.

> then tell the cashier your name

Yeah, because that works great. My name is fairly common, and cashiers still manage to get it wrong, especially if it's noisy. Also, what happens when three "John Smiths" walk in?

EDIT: They do address the multiple "John Smiths", missed that in the article.

> For instance, because Card Case can notify a coffee shop when you walk in the door -- and because the cashier can see your profile, and can see that you usually get a medium mocha and a croissant -- the barista can get your drink started for you while you're standing in line.

If a restaurant's going to go to all the trouble to install a system like this and set it up so that my phone can pay them, why couldn't I just order on the phone? Then I wouldn't have to stand in line at all, and they won't have wasted their time if it turns out that I want something else instead of what I usually get.

Adolph_Jobs 6 days ago 3 replies      
<token dude posting about privacy issues>

This is amazing in terms of ease-of-use. However, the privacy implications are a bit worrying...

I don't really want to rubbish this, I hate the naysayers when something disruptive comes around (note that Japan rolled out pay-by-cellphone on their subway systems something like 10 years ago) but...

"She saw my name and photo on her iPad, tapped it, and I was done. A receipt was sent to my phone."

So all employees at stores using Card Case can see the name, identity and photo of every single person using card case within a 100 foot radius of the store. Completely regardless of whether they want to buy something or enter the store. What if you don't want random stores to know when you walk past? What if your abusive ex-husband is working at a store and sees your name come up on the list.. etc.

Additionally, if you use the app, Square knows exactly where you are at all times. I'm not at all comfortable with that. Apple had a massive scandal when it was revealed that it's technically possible to retrieve location history from iOS. This is legit human tracking - police and three letter agencies everywhere are probably throwing parties right now.

HN was up in arms when retail giant Westfield was tracking number plates entering their car park. Just number plates.

</token dude posting about privacy issues>

6ren 5 days ago 2 replies      
A malicious cashier could order things in your name, whenever you were nearby.

This might not happen much in practice, because the cashier would be found out later (assuming they must login). However, the opportunity doesn't arise with existing transactions, where you must physically hand something over (cash/card), and usually get an opportunity to verify the amount, so there's no evidence either way. It will be interesting to see if this is actually a real issue, in practice, in the current roll-out.

Many, many cash-alternatives have been tried and failed, but this one has a new technology (iPhone geofencing) and smart founders. If it does work, they could quickly revolutionize cash - globally (not to mention be the killer-app for the iPhone).

ryanwaggoner 6 days ago 0 replies      
But I heard that Square was totally irrelevant because they were only "innovating" based on the outdated paradigm of the credit card system.


Don't confuse where a startup is today with where they're headed. Sometimes you have to tack against the wind to get to where you ultimately want to end up. The best startups are those that can make money while also setting up for a huge play that no one else is positioned to pull off.

Osiris 6 days ago 3 replies      
What I find the most fascinating is that the same company is running both the seller and buyer sides of the transaction. Without middlemen, they have a lot of flexibility to determine how the transaction should occur. Right now credit cards rely upon a fairly complex system of gateways and processing and so it's really complex and difficult to change the process.

I wonder if a security feature they could add would a two-factor authentication where your phone would display a one-time use auth code that you'd give to the cashier to approve the transaction, for those that are worried about automatic billing.

refulgentis 5 days ago 3 replies      
I am the cofounder of a startup that builds an iOS/iPod/iPad POS Ambur, and it's absolutely astonishing to me to see people claim Square is doing anything useful for merchants.

Their software is far too simplistic for anyone running more than a very basic coffee shop with tech savvy customers to use. Even something as simple as most customers demand paper receipts, and Square's functionality is taking basic orders, one a time, with no conception of any business analysis functions. That does not cut it for any business bigger than a small coffee or retail shop, where customers pay and are served instantaneously. no matter how cheap Square is, or how many brilliant designers they hire, they're not going to get into businesses bigger than this without expanding what they're doing.

They really, really, need to launch a platform for people like us to innovate on. We're young, forward-thinking, and as an ex-restaurant employee I know how much CC companies and traditional POS companies screw businesses. 

We're trying to change that on the POS side, and I desperately wish Square would be less egotistical and let us use them to change the payment side. It would be tremendous for them, because it lets POS companies solve adoption for them, instead of them trying to engineer 1000 solutions for 1000 different types of business, and let's them focus on their core compotency - beautifully designed software for consumers.

akavi 6 days ago 0 replies      
If this works, Square will join the narrow ranks of companies who I want to succeed because my life would be dramatically worse without them.

Please let it work.

georgieporgie 6 days ago 0 replies      
Not that this isn't neat, but regarding the opening:

Wait a second: Why is this supposed to be any better than pulling out a credit card? It's not faster, it's not more convenient, and it's not any safer.

Yes it is. Just having an RFID card + POS reader is awesome. Putting the chip into a phone is even more awesome. If you don't believe me, move to Japan for a few months and live the dream. ;-)

rs 5 days ago 1 reply      
This does look interesting, but TBH, I don't think its the end of credit cards per-se. One main reason:

What if my phone's battery is dead ? Does that mean I can't buy anything ? What happens in an emergency ? Credit cards are easy as they're quite low tech physically (a magnetic strip, a chip and some plastic).

Other things would be stuff like: not everyone has a phone, but would still like a credit card, etc. There are countries where phone penetration (and not even smart phone) is not very high, but the population still need to have credit cards.

Granted, I can see it being used as an alternative, but doubt it will be the "end of credit cards"

trjordan 6 days ago 1 reply      
So, this is cool, but...

Why do you have to have a smartphone to do this? If you're going to get businesses on board and use photo IDs to verify every transaction, why not just have the signup process be a webcam and a form?

There's a couple of cool usability things you can do with a smartphone (proximity pushes users that are there to the top of the list in case of name conflicts, whether it's from geofencing, manual inputs, or side-channel geo info), but the basic idea of registering for a store doesn't seem that novel. Why not slap a decent search UI on it and give all the cashiers iPads?

Is this idea so novel that nobody thought you could look up a name and photo via the web at point of sale before today? And if the idea isn't novel, why hasn't anybody successfully executed it?

vsl2 5 days ago 0 replies      
My questions regarding Card Case:

1) How is it going to move away from being based on credit cards?

Most savvy people I know use credit cards wherever possible because of the no-liability fraud protections that are not present in debit transactions. Clearly, Square users are younger and savvier than the general population. No way should anyone use bank account-based payments on a mobile device that could be stolen/hacked/lost because you're not going to get the money back that is fradulently charged.

2) Do you really want to have a shopping experience where store cashiers and other customers standing around know your name?

Most people I know would prefer to remain more anonymous than that.

3) Where is the verification of customer payment (e.g. signature on CC receipt)? What happens when there are customer chargebacks?

4) Is it really that hard to pull out and use a credit card?

I'm all for improving the current payments environment where a few major companies (Visa, MC, AMEX) dominate and as such, are able to extract large fees from merchants (which get passed along to consumers), but I don't see Square (or anyone else) as having found the answer yet. Their attempts seem to be more "cool to have" and technologically impressive than actually solving the underlying inefficiencies in the payments industry.

And frankly, the major credit card companies are going to come out with their own NFC apps at some point and if Square is still relevant, they'll be just another player in the oligopoly (but still dependent on the others' back-end processing component).

koevet 5 days ago 0 replies      
I like the idea, minus the client tracking feature. I hope that they will add a opt-out for clients who don't want to be tracked (so basically every time you walk into a store, you are like a brand new customer, system-wise).

Also, I have some doubts about the human face recognition bit. Will it work in a crowded environment, with stressed-out clerks?
Phones get stolen all the time and it doesn't sound too remote that someone picks your phone and walks into a shop with a big pair of shades and a 4 days beard.

plasma 6 days ago 0 replies      
Very cool.

This also brings with it a new source of analytics and marketing opportunities (for better or worse?).

A coffee shop cashier could be told (through product suggestions on the iPad they use) that you've missed your regular lunch up the street and to offer you something to eat.

Online ads could now be targeted towards you further, based off what you purchased in the real world (that coffee and muffin) because the purchase was matched to you, and your iOS Device ID.

A new round of marketing is possible by tying in real world/daily purchases and being able to push that information back to retailers (in the form of product recommendations or analytics for them), as well as advertisers.

mechanical_fish 6 days ago 1 reply      
Hmm, perhaps I need to find the time to become an Apple Developer and sign the NDA, for much the same reason that folks who want to write screenplays move to Hollywood: To find out what the industry is going to do, years in advance.

Geofencing is a big deal and I first heard of it... today. How long have iOS devs known? Since WWDC?

Yhippa 6 days ago 1 reply      
Is this really the end of the credit card? It sounds like an abstraction layer for payments. The backing money used to pay will still be some sort of payment source like a credit card or debitable bank account.
hugh3 6 days ago 1 reply      
My problem with all of these systems is the same: I'm disorganized, I forget to charge my phone or bring it along, and so the chances of me having a fully charged, working, switched-on phone with me when I want to buy something are far lower than my chances of having a wallet.
thinkcomp 6 days ago 1 reply      
It's ironic to see this article coming from Farhad Manjoo.

I wrote a response to his original piece a while ago:


What Square has done with card case is pretty slick, but at present it doesn't scale. Paying with your name doesn't work at Wal-mart. And funding with your plastic credit or debit card doesn't work especially well for most coffee shops or other small businesses that want to save on interchange fees, not pay more of them.

I look forward to competing with Square again when I get my California license.

sp332 6 days ago 0 replies      
This reminds me of "The Future of eBusiness" from 1999 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xnwaFxFru5k Funny it took so long to get here, and that Square beat IBM to market :)
dminor 6 days ago 1 reply      
I have to admit when Square first came out I didn't see what the big deal was. A little doohickey to plug into your iPhone to swipe cards - sure, sounds useful for certain merchants, but not something world-changing.

It's cool to see that there's a larger plan unfolding. Credit card networks are tough nuts to crack and it looks like they've found a way. Kudos.

jakeonthemove 6 days ago 1 reply      
It's also pretty interesting to see them build a whole new payment system using normal everyday tech like smartphones and tablets (plus of course remote servers). No expensive custom mainframes and ancient software. The trick now will be to get as many businesses to use it (preferably all of them and preferably worldwide).

I also think using photos is one of the most surefire ways of identifying the buyer, as well - it had a nice effect on credit cards (with photos on them, you can't just steal one and use it for whatever) and it can definitely help curb fraudulent purchases with Card Case.

pbreit 6 days ago 1 reply      
The Square dongle is the most brilliant customer acquisition tool in the history of marketing to small businesses. But Square probably needs to also offer a swiping solution that makes more sense in a permanent location like a physical store. And it should also acknowledge that customers are going to ask for a paper receipt for some period of time. Not every retailer is Apple.

Getting rid of the flat fee that traditionally accompanies credit card transactions was also a smart move to further open up new credit card processing markets.

The Card Case? I'm not sold in its current state. This article, like pretty much every article describing the latest "wouldn't it be great" payment product story, describes a process that sounds quite a bit worse than a simple swipe of a 2mm thick plastic card.

cynusx 5 days ago 1 reply      
What happens when the merchant doesn't care he's paid by the right customer?

How does the system handle the common use-case where you give a third party (wife,friend,kid,..) the money to go and pay the bill.

Both Facecash and now Square Card Case have this problem, but maybe I have missed something.

zobzu 6 days ago 0 replies      
On the other hand:

- anyone in the room knowing your name can get free cookies (or anything else)
- signal travel through air, so physical hack is not necessary anymore
- its still tied to your phone ;-)

the rest is pretty cool, but i'd like to confirm manually each transaction thank you very much. I want to keep control of MY stuff, my money, my phone. My my my.

wolfish 6 days ago 2 replies      
What happens when your chilling in a coffee shop and your arch nemesis orders a latte with your name?
hsshah 5 days ago 0 replies      
Card case is elegant and innovative. As a user, I love it. However, calling this a harbinger of end of credit cards is jumping the gun. If that would have been easy, PayPal would have already ended credit cards (for online purchases). I see no signs of that.

A completely different set of competency and technology will be required to replace the credit cards with their own payment solution (credit risk assessment, fraud prevention etc). Their impressive track record so far means they can certainly develop these; but it won't be that quick or easy.

hansy 5 days ago 1 reply      
When I turned 16 and was excited to drive everywhere, I would volunteer to pick up groceries for the house. My dad would give me his credit card so I could purchase the groceries.

How would a similar scenario play out in the Card Case universe? I wasn't allowed to have my own credit card until college and I would never use my debit card for common house purchases.

pnathan 5 days ago 0 replies      
I am looking forward to the IPO. I expect big things from Square.

They are really kicking butt.

jerfelix 5 days ago 0 replies      
Almost 100 comments, and no one mentions Bitcoin. I'm surprised.

Seems to me this same app could be built for Bitcoin, and you could eliminate or reduce the 2.75% service fee. Or you could make it 1% and give it back to the purchaser in the form of points (like credit cards).

Bitcoins could be instantly converted to cash, for a fraction of that fee (about 0.6% using a Bitcoin exchange).

fauldsh 5 days ago 0 replies      
So every time I buy something I end up declaring to every-one in the shop that I have my smartphone on me, not only that but I publicly tell them everything they need to buy stuff from that shop if they did manage to get my phone?

Chip-and-pin means I rarely carry cash, I don't really see this as an improvement on putting my card in a reader and entering my pin.

callmeed 5 days ago 0 replies      
I use card case at one of our local coffee shops in SLO. It's pretty slick.
jwallaceparker 5 days ago 1 reply      
Sounds interesting. But also a bit risky compared to a credit card, which to me isn't a hassle to use.

And does it offer reward points?

If not I'll stick with plastic.

Causification 5 days ago 0 replies      
Are there really people that walk around with their phone GPS switched on all day? Security concerns aside, what a drain on battery life that must be.
rzbn 5 days ago 0 replies      
Jack Dorsey is going to be one of the biggest innovators of our time.
2 huge companies already in his belt
the_grind 5 days ago 2 replies      
What prevents competitors from creating their own app that does this? If this takes off and Square charges X percent, I assume that Competitor Y will develop a similar app and charge X-z percent. I'm having a hard time seeing the barriers to entry for this particular approach.
suivix 6 days ago 0 replies      
I just bought buffalo wings from next door using LevelUp on my phone. It's fantastic how they offer that service, you'd never expect it because they're a little pizza shop. LevelUp uses QR codes and you can quickly scan it. They have this phone-looking thing set up with the camera facing out, and you just hold your phone in front of it to pay.
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