hacker news with inline top comments    .. more ..    9 Dec 2011 Best
home   ask   best   8 years ago   
More Paypal nonsense regretsy.com
857 points by bradleyjoyce  3 days ago   246 comments top 49
danilocampos 3 days ago  replies      
I've been sitting here for the last five minutes trying to make a point eloquently. I'm having a hard time with it. So I'll just put it like this:

What else can we really expect from a product whose parent is eBay?

This company is a fucking fossil with all the hunger for customer satisfaction of a used tissue.

Is it convenient for users? Yeah. Is it worth gambling your entire business on? Given the lack of accountability these clowns enjoy, I'm going to say probably not. Neither eBay or PayPal has evolved in any meaningful way in the last decade. On the contrary: they've steadily declined in user experience and customer satisfaction. Why trust a business to such a stagnant concern?

On principle, on practicality, for the sake of all of our futures: just say no to PayPal.

saurik 3 days ago  replies      
"Donate" has a very specific meaning, at least in the US, and comes with numerous accounting connotations, including the ability to write off the expense. As many people don't realize that "charitable donations" do /not/ include "donations" to purchase toys for children, it is misleading to use the term "donation" in this circumstance.

Meanwhile, often the person /accepting/ the donations doesn't understand this either. You cannot, for example, accept a $5 "donation" and then send someone a $5 product back to them: that is a "sale", not a "donation". You do not "donate" to Ikea in exchange for a chair: you "pay" them $5 for it.

In this case, this person obviously doesn't get it. "Why? These are my customers!" <- Right, which is why they are not "donating". These "customers" are buying toys, which are then being sent to other people on their behalf. These are /purchases/, like any other. This seller even goes so far as to state they are operating "just like any other retailer would".

At which point we ask the killer question: are they collecting sales tax? This is where the theoretical issues suddenly run right into the brick wall of reality, as sites that believe they are accepting "donations" on behalf of charitable work, such as handing out toys to children, put everyone in a position where they fail to realize that they are operating an online retail store where the receipts need to be reported (to the IRS), sales tax needs to be collected (for sales made to people in the same state), and the people buying the gifts can /not/ write off the expense.

PayPal is therefore very right to be wary of these situations, and often contacts people making the claim "only a nonprofit can use the Donate button", as the PayPal representative stated in this e-mail. I know this, as they contacted me once: I had a button "Donate to saurik.com" on the top of my website, which I ended up changing to "Contribute money to saurik.com".

That said, I am actually not 100% certain that that is their official "for everyone" rule. This author was correct when they said that "worthy causes" is mentioned in the PayPal PDF [1] on this feature: a more full quote being "for your nonprofit or worthy cause"; that said, the PDF also claims that when you sign up for your PayPal account you should do so "selecting “nonprofit” as the type".

(edit: Reading some more context of the story from Regretsy, including more responses from PayPal, I think that what PayPal means by "worthy cause" may actually be those "on behalf of verified non-profit organizations", not that that is made clear at all in that PDF.)

Their website [2], meanwhile, only ever seems to talk about nonprofits, but goes into detail regarding confirming non-profit status only for obtaining a discount on processing fees. I can certainly see that this is confusing, and I also believe I see a lot of websites around that /do/ use "Donate" in weird ways; certainly, if they really cared to limit it to nonprofits, they could actually enforce your account type /was/ nonprofit before letting you use it.

So, I personally believe that they simply contact vendors who seem to be running a for-profit sales business (even one that is losing money or breaking even "for the children") using "donate", rather than people who are simply using "donate" "without being a non-profit". How do they figure that out, you ask? My guess is that users are flagging the transactions as fraudulent, or complaining to PayPal using the dispute transaction feature (which some PayPal users treat pretty flippantly), using wording that indicates that they were buying something.

(For the record: I'm pretty certain that's what happened to me. I /also/ run a retail product called Cydia, which accepts payments through a separate PayPal account for SaurikIT (my company). People can contribute money to the cause I represent (open access to devices), or purchase things from Cydia. However, some users would just send my personal account (which I use for contributions to my work) $1.00, either by sendmoney or /my "Donate" button/, and then go on to say that they paid me $1 for some product in Cydia and that I didn't send it to them.)

In the end? While I think PayPal needs to be clearer on some things, I do not actually blame them for their reaction here. This setup seems "sketchy", was probably not handling the taxes on the sales correctly, was almost certainly handling the "extra money sent to the family" part incorrectly, and in the end went over the top with this emotional appeal (seriously? I have to have crying children surrounding this text?) rather than looking at this as an intellectual debate about PayPal's policies here (which might be interesting, and might cause everyone, including them, to learn something).

[1] https://www.paypalobjects.com/en_US/pdf/PP_Online_Donations....

[2] https://merchant.paypal.com/us/cgi-bin/?cmd=_render-content&...

jdietrich 3 days ago 0 replies      
A little experiment: Apply for a merchant account, saying that you're not a registered nonprofit, but intend to take donations to buy gifts for kids. I just phoned my bank and they literally laughed in my face.

People who have customer service nightmares with Paypal are generally doing something that no other payment processor would touch. I hear complaints from people who have been accepting pre-orders of a game or pre-registration for a conference, which is obviously a massive risk for a payment processor. If you found a merchant account provider willing to take such risky business, they'd demand a huge deposit and charge well above the odds.

Paypal provide an absolutely exceptional service in allowing pretty much anyone to accept card payments without a great deal of fuss. The flipside of this is that they have to deal with risky accounts retroactively, which means they have little choice but to freeze accounts that set off their fraud detection algoritms. If you prefer to know where you stand, apply for a merchant account - in most of the world, that will involve a long, expensive vetting process.

People continue to use Paypal because for many use cases, there aren't any better alternatives. This isn't because Paypal or the card companies are abusing monopoly power, but because payment processing is hard and fraud is expensive.

geuis 3 days ago  replies      
At the risk of being perceived as the devil's advocate, let me ask a question.

I've heard of dozens of stories about Paypal along a similar vein. "They locked my account for unreasonable reason X and now are keeping the money".

Most of these stories seem anecdotal. Can someone point to a rigorously documented set of cases where both Paypal and the customer's side of things are reviewed?

Over the last few years, all of these "Paypal screwed me" stories have sounded like all the complaints a few years ago about Apple seeming to reject apps arbitrarily. As far as I know, the complaints about Apple from devs have largely died down since we've had a fairly straight-forward list of do's and don'ts to work from.

If most of the people reporting problems with Paypal are doing things that are inconsistent with their policies and then saying publicly how they're being screwed, then that creates a negative reputation for other people who have never personally had a problem with Paypal.

kevinalexbrown 3 days ago 1 reply      
PAYPAL: I haven't seen that PDF. And what you're doing is not a worthy cause, it's charity.
ME: What's the difference?
PAYPAL: You can use the donate button to raise money for a sick cat, but not poor people.

Sigh. At the risk of pedantry, it's hard for my wtf filter to believe this without more context. Is this a direct quote?

brianr 3 days ago 9 replies      
These horror stories are so common that I have to ask: why does anyone still use PayPal?

I ask this in the most constructive way possible... is there a set of use-cases that PayPal is still the best for? Is it a lack of awareness of alternatives? International availability? Something else?

TheAmazingIdiot 3 days ago 2 replies      
I'm going to be somewhat direct here.

I allege that what Paypal is doing here (holding funds over 10 days) is illegal.

In order to do what Paypal does in the USA, you need licensure. They point out that they are not a bank. Indeed, they aren't: in many states they are classified as a money transmitter. In 8 states, they have no license to operate.#1

And, Indiana also requires licensure for money transmission. IC 28-8-4-20 (a) A person may not engage in the business of money transmission without a license required by this chapter.

What is this money transmitter stuff? In essence, the law in all the locales I have checked (I have not gone through every one), indicate only a short holding period (5-15 days) and only allow holding of money of a known crime.
So indeed what they do is absolutely fraudulent. In other words, if you have a patent troll corporation with many lawyers, target Paypal for their illegal behavior.
#1 Source: https://www.paypal-media.com/state_licenses.cfm

jfruh 3 days ago 4 replies      
Yikes, are you really only allowed to use "donate" buttons if you're a nonprofit? I use them as a "tip jar" on my blog. What's the options for for-profit when you're giving money for nothing in particular?
amorphid 3 days ago 0 replies      
It looks like PayPal's site for creating a donatiom button makes it really easy to get yourself into trouble...


I don't see anything on that page to suggest you have to be a nonprofit or somehow a worthy cause. They optimize their web page for encouraging people to create a donation button and then provide you with a shitty experience on the back-end if you make a mistake. They aren't trying very hard to keep you from hurting yourself. This is why government creates consumer protection laws, so maybe PayPal needs a big warning label next next the link encouraging you to create a donation button.

knightgj 3 days ago 3 replies      
I'll be looking at alternatives after receiving the friendly "We reviewed your account and determined that there's a relatively higher than average risk of future transaction issues" email that states they'll be holding my money for 21 days...

I have never made a claim. I have never had a claim filed against me. My account receives maybe $500/year, tops. I send $500/year, tops. HUDGE risk of transaction issues.

Joakal 3 days ago 0 replies      
Google does this too for the Donate button: http://checkout.google.com/support/sell/bin/answer.py?answer...

For a kicker, you MUST be based in USA otherwise according to their terms, they'll hold the money like PayPal does.

coderdude 3 days ago 2 replies      
Fun fact: The horror that is PayPal came from the same guy who gave us our hope for the bright future of commercial spaceflight. PayPal has vertically integrated every step required to stiff you. They can do it safely and reliably, but a public mishap like this one may cost them.
dgurney 3 days ago 1 reply      
I have never seen a company more in need of competition. I realize its massive installed base makes it tough to approach, but isn't there somebody who can compete credibly? I have to think that there's enough user dissatisfaction that people would defect in droves, given a decent alternative.
sp332 2 days ago 0 replies      
This is an amazing, in-depth blog post that explores all the relevant policies and web pages regarding the use of the donate button. https://thegreengeeks.wordpress.com/2011/12/06/why-paypal-is... Still nothing! No explanation anywhere on the site that might explain this behavior.
ukdm 2 days ago 0 replies      
PayPal has unlocked the account and made a donation to Regretsy


brown9-2 3 days ago 1 reply      
So just to be clear, when the Paypal rep says "We know what you are trying to do and we aren't going to let you do it", what do they think the scam is?

That the site would accept "donations" for a fraudulent reason?

CaveTech 3 days ago 2 replies      
It really perplexes me as to how paypal can get away with withholding money from people. What is stopping them from simply picking accounts at random and saying, "actually, I don't think you deserve this money, so we'll keep it."
alain94040 3 days ago 2 replies      
I'm sorry that you don't realize what you are trying to do is nearly equivalent to a Nigerian scam, but in the eyes of a payment company, it is. So cut Paypal some slack.
rlivsey 3 days ago 0 replies      
After using PayPal on a number of projects over the years (both successfully and painfully unsuccessfully) I've come to the conclusion that PayPal is fine if what you're doing is completely standard.

Once you start doing something that could be interpreted as even slightly non-standard then it's more trouble than it's worth and the odds are that PayPal aren't going to play ball.

wbhart 3 days ago 1 reply      
I wonder if PayPal has misunderstood what Regretsy is doing.

For example, suppose PayPal think that Regretsy is buying cheap toys at cost, marking them up for profit, adding the cost of shipping, then selling them to customers as part of their ordinary business model (perhaps not even paying sales tax on them), but of course agreeing to send them to poor kids instead of the people paying the money.

PayPal would have every right to block such transactions, and I'd expect it. It wouldn't be charitable on the part of Regretsy nor would it be donation to a worthy cause, but a partial "donation" to Regretsy, a for-profit company. It would be ordinary profit making on the part of Regretsy in the guise of charity work!

I think Regretsy should just clarify with PayPal what it is they are actually doing. If Regretsy are honestly doing this for needy kids and not for their own profit, then I cannot see how it would be a win for PayPal to not accommodate this in some way.

callmeed 3 days ago 0 replies      
I hope Square buys Stripe, figures out the international bits, adds some features, and then starts eating away at PayPal's market share.
latchkey 3 days ago 1 reply      
I'm a huge fan of WePay. They don't play these games.

With all of the different competing solutions out there these days, I don't know why anyone continues to use Paypal.

kmfrk 2 days ago 0 replies      
Looks like they settled it: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=3320154.
muppetman 3 days ago 0 replies      
I am SO sick to death of "I used Paypal, Paypal screwed me over" posts. The first few times when it happened and no one was aware of how they operated, sure, I felt bad for the person/people.

Now I just think "The definition of insanity..."

I guess I'm just an elitist prick though?

james33 3 days ago 0 replies      
Almost this exact scenario happened to me a few months back, and they did the same, asking me to sign an agreement saying I knew what I did was wrong (it wasn't) and that I wouldn't do it again. I absolutely refused to sign such a thing, and thankfully a friend of a friend knew someone in a high position at PayPal that finally got it all sorted out. Two weeks of extreme stress later, but at least it got worked out. Take unusual measures and if you are lucky you'll get it worked out.
vaksel 3 days ago 0 replies      
Paypal has a reputation for stuff like this...can't exactly be a surprise
Tangurena 2 days ago 0 replies      
Paypal wants to be a bank without being regulated as a bank. If they were regulated, this sort of fiasco would get their charter revoked.

In addition, the business courses I'm taking all (in the text books and case studies used in classes) point to how eBay is trying to transition away from the auction model and turn into fix-price sales as some sort of discount Amazon Marketplace. Making life miserable for smaller retailers and auctioners is part of this goal.

taylorbuley 3 days ago 1 reply      
The donate button thing -- that's got to be because of tax reasons, right?
jrabone 2 days ago 0 replies      
Anecdotal, but anyway...

Earlier this year, Paypal notified me that they required more information about my personal account - namely confirmation that it wasn't a business in disguise. Due to my mistranslating from American English to British English, I accidentally declared that I was a charity (non-profit of course has a specific meaning), and Paypal promptly froze my personal account.

It took one phone call to the UK helpdesk, and about 20 minutes to get this fixed, and my experience with their customer support was fine. I screwed up, they were polite and helpful, no problems.

What WOULD help is if their UI translated their terms for the benefit of non-US customers (if they'd said "charity" instead of "non-profit" I'd never have chosen that option) and gave you an obvious way to say "I am not a business" (if they'd had that I wouldn't have been on that page in the first place), but I can't fault their customer support.

URSpider94 3 days ago 0 replies      
At the end of the day, Paypal is a slave to the credit card associations. To that end, whenever they find something out-of-the-ordinary, they have no choice but to act. The sad reality is, they really don't have any latitude in cases like this, if they want to prove to their credit card overlords that they are tough on fraud.

For whatever reason, it seems that they'd rather be known for having terrible customer service than own up to the fact that they are hog-tied as to their policies on what kinds of transactions they can process.

whyme 3 days ago 1 reply      
Out curiosity, why wouldn't PayPal just put categorical warnings on the payment page that allows merchants & buyers to assess the risk themselves?

So if a merchant understands these relative risks, they can opt in to a high risk warning category, in order to make sure accounts don't become locked, and buyers can then fully understand what they're getting into via the warnings.

I mean really this is all about liability right...or maybe is it that I'm expecting too much...?

dvdkhlng 3 days ago 0 replies      
Too much is too much. Closing my PP account. So far I haven't seen an online shop that doesn't have alternative payment options other than PP. In Germany (Europe?) we have ClickAndBuy [1], which works great so far. Buyer protection is usually sold separately via Trusted Shops [2] (but has to be payed for by the seller). This also eliminates the various COI arising from the payment processor also trying to police account owners. And I can choose to not add additional buyer protection costs for shops that I trust in.

[1] http://clickandbuy.com

[2] http://www.trustedshops.com

mrkmcknz 3 days ago 0 replies      
Looking at the detailed arguments in this thread, my only advice is to use a little common sense. Or does that not exist anymore?
frankydp 3 days ago 0 replies      
JonoW 3 days ago 0 replies      
I'd love to know more about the legalities of a company (that isn't a bank) withholding funds for months. PayPal must be making a pretty profit on the interest accrueing on those accounts.
radimm 2 days ago 0 replies      
Wonder what percentage of users are facing such an issues with PayPal. As somebody who's just in the middle of setting up payment solution (UK) with PayPal, such a stories are not making it easy to justify the decision to go this way.

In my eyes, PayPal is just another corporation, with all of its bureaucracy, both processes-wise and the way how they handle their customer care.

My bank is not making it easier to get started (otherwise I would have merchant account), so why would I expect PayPal would handle edge cases otherwise?

EDIT: jdietrich already made this point http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=3319045

npc 3 days ago 2 replies      
I'm sure everybody knows by now, but this is certainly not the first time paypal has done this kind of thing:

http://www.somethingawful.com/d/news/paypal-fiasco-summary.p... slightly nsfw)

InclinedPlane 3 days ago 0 replies      
No sympathy here.

Abusing "donations" on paypal to avoid paying fees and taxes is not a good business practice. Either own up to the fact that you are indeed selling something or incorporate as an actual non-profit, neither is particularly onerous.

Cyph0n 3 days ago 0 replies      
AlertPay is a good alternative. Fees are a bit high, but there is no such thing as a "limited" account, unless you send/receive fraudulent funds of course.

The problem is that AlertPay is not accepted by many online services. Once that is solved, I believe that it could probably compete with PayPal.

D_Drake 3 days ago 0 replies      
Never before have I read an article and been greeted by the mental image of a vein bursting in my brain, the blood spewing out of my eye sockets, forming itself into an axe, and traveling through a magic portal to mutilate a company's board of directors.
antninja 3 days ago 1 reply      
There's a script in this blog page that makes Firefox freeze and crash.
Hilyin 3 days ago 0 replies      
Paypal is a bunch of scumbags. They deserve to go out of business.
loceng 2 days ago 0 replies      
PayPal is just as likely to hold funds for 6+ months if you're not selling a product if using "Buy Now."
scottshea 3 days ago 0 replies      
I am so glad I turned down that job with Paypal
joshuap 2 days ago 0 replies      
Someone should start an anti-paypal campaign that recreates the paypal buttons, except they have a big red X through them, and link to a collected list of grievances. I'd put one on my site... I dealt with all this garbage in 2004 and haven't used them as a seller since.
nclark 3 days ago 0 replies      
uhm... don't use paypal?
B1aZer 3 days ago 0 replies      
Next time use bitcoins
severance 3 days ago 0 replies      
dr_ 3 days ago 2 replies      
i use dwolla
What really happened aboard Air France 447 popularmechanics.com
795 points by fr0sty  1 day ago   333 comments top 49
runningdogx 1 day ago  replies      
I've followed the discussion of the AF447 investigation on several flight discussion forums.

The PF (Bonin) apparently never became aware of his angle of attack (once the airplane fully stalled, AOA was absurdly high). He did not seem to be aware that his constant inputs had caused the Airbus's THS (trimmable horizontal stabilizer, horizontal flaps on the tail) to deflect to maximum in order to try to keep the nose up. Therefore when he tried to input stick up (nose down) several times briefly, and there was no obvious response (the computer takes a while to reduce THS elevation in response to opposing input), who knows what he thought -- maybe that all readings were incorrect.

Strangely, Bonin was the one pilot who had significant recent glider experience as I recall. The Airbus computer even in "alternate law" functions nothing like a glider (only "direct law" is sort of close to direct input), so maybe that further confused him.

In my opinion, at night, over an ocean, in a storm, with no visibility, in possibly significant turbulance, a modern aircraft cutting off Autopilot for any reason other than computer failure is completely unacceptable. A computer should be able to fly as well as a human under those circumstances.

People suggesting that on airliner forums get flamed. But it's true. Most pilots kept up the refrain that a computer cannot safely fly by gps and gyros unless they also have airspeed. Which is true. It's dangerous to fly if you don't have true airspeed (gyros and gps cannot accurate provide relative wind speed). However, if pitot tubes are frozen and the computer no longer has valid airspeed, the pilots no longer have valid airspeed either. Pitch and power is all they can do. The computer can do that just as well. All it needs to know is aircraft weight, which can be entered (maybe it is entered) before takeoff and automatically adjusted to account for fuel consumption.

There are a bunch of factors that contributed to the accident:

Pitots shouldn't have frozen.

Lack of Air France training for controlling an aircraft at altitude with the computer in "alternate law" (mode without full flight envelope protection; it's therefore possible to stall).

The command structure in the cockpit without the Captain (who had just gone on break) actually had Bonin in command, even though the co-pilot in the left seat outranked him... AF has since changed that. CRM (crew resource management) was poor; the co-pilot in the left seat didn't try to take control until way too late. The co-pilot was preoccupied with where the Captain was rather than offering constructive input on how to fly.

Bonin was not adequately aware of what his inputs were doing, or what the plane's Angle of Attack was, and did not react properly to the stall warning which in almost every case at high altitude means drop the nose, not raise it (though without valid airspeed there's a risk of overspeed which can cause a new set of problems).

The Airbus computers had some quirks; stall warnings stop if airspeed drops too low (due to some computer programming logic involving low airspeed, AOA sensors, and the result being silencing the stall warnings).

Nobody believed a passenger aircraft would be so stable during a full stall. This undoubtedly contributed to confusion about whether they were actually stalled. The Airbus's computer setting the trimmable horizontal stabilizer to max nose-up deflection, in response to Bonin's almost constant nose-up input, possibly contributed to the stability during stall.

Angle of Attack information may not have been adequately displayed to the PF (Bonin) -- the black box doesn't record data from the right set of instruments, so nobody knows what Bonin had on his screen.

There was poor notification on the co-pilot's side of what the PF (Bonin) was doing. Unlike traditional aircraft, it is not easy to see what the pilot in the other seat is doing with the stick.

There was poor notification on either side of the cockpit when the other pilot took control. When the co-pilot took control, Bonin almost immediately took control back, and it's not clear either of them knew what the other was trying to do. Apparently there's a light that indicates override, but who would notice such things under that amount of stress?

IOW, it was a disaster from top to bottom. Usually in aircraft accidents there's a chain of events, but in this case there were so many possible contributing causes that other than having better pitots that didn't freeze over, solving any one other problem may not have broken the chain.

Klinky 1 day ago  replies      
Co-pilot Robert, after finally getting full control back from Co-pilot Bonin: "Damn it, we're going to crash... This can't be happening!"

Co-pilot Bonin, who had been pulling back & stalling the plane during the crisis: "But what's happening?"

Pretty much sums it up. I am thinking that perhaps Bonin had shellshock & may not have even realized he was holding the stick back. Perhaps the more experienced Robert didn't think to ask "are you pulling back the stick?" because that would be like asking "did you make sure the computer is plugged into the wall outlet?", i.e. it's so stupid & simple, that can't be "it".

There are a few things I could think that would be worth adding.

- Add a display that shows the current positions of both control sticks. Add an alarm when the two sticks are not within a certain margin of the each other, if both are engaged. Such as if one is full forward & the other is full back.

- Make clearer warnings about the implications of the "alternate law" mode. Such as a warning like "Stalling possible". Also maybe put an alarm in the pilot resting area that would relay when warnings are detected like stall or switching to alternate law.

- Delineate command better, e.g. Captain, Co-pilot #1, Co-pilot #2 so that who is in charge is clear.

omegant 2 hours ago 0 replies      
I hope to give some light from the point of view of an airbus pilot( a320) also with B737 and MD80 experience.

First of all I must say that is very difficult to judge what happened from outside, there is a rush of adrenalin if some important alarm starts at the cockpit, it becomes worst if you are flying in the middle of the night and turbulence. Problems that would be solved or the solution evident seating at home in front of a computer, become suddenly a mistery or insolvable because you lost an stabilicer or any other physical problem to the plane( it has happened before).

The first obvious mistake is going through the thunderstorm in that lattitudes, I personally know the pilots who where flying in front of them and they took a 200miles reruting to avoid that particular thunderstorm ( as other trafics did).

Then the reaction to the lost of information : as has been said the proper way to react is using thrust power % and pitch positions, there are tables for different flight phases , they are located at the quick reference handbook, but they should be located at an sticker close to the instruments( for inmediate use as speed limits for flaps or landing gear). An automatic help for recovering such a problem would be greate but computers do fail regularly in comercial planes( if web servers that are seating in a room fail imagine something that is suffering high doses of vibration, dirt, humidity changes, temperature changes, you name it) and you there MUST be other options.

When flying that high you are at whats called coffin corner, that is you are so high that the wings will easily enter both high speed buffeting and low speed stall( both will produce a lost of altitude control, you fall but can do nothing to avoid it).
Also the engines don't have enougth thrust( as fighters do) to support the weight of the plane. So the maneuver they performed seemed to don't make sense at all, why would a pilot pull the stick to put the plane deeper in the cofin corner inside a thunderstorm?.

I think the cause is precisely training( and possibly other interface choices made by airbus helped too ), let me explain: there IS a maneuver inside thunderstorms wich is trained a lot AND will make the pilot PULL the sidestick and apply TOGA power, is called windshear( avoidment). Usually windshear is the wind state that you could find near a thunderstorm close to the airport. Is caused by the first descending burst( thunderstorm madurity) hitting the ground (please google it as it is easier to see a picture than explain it). The result is that the big wind speed changes( in seconds) may put the plane suddenly in a stall
situation. Because it happens when you have no altitude left to recover from a stall ( maybe less than 3000 feet or closer than ten miles to the airport), your only possibility is to apply TOGA power and sidestick FULL back( the protections are NOT lost and then the plane takes care of the stall, the pilot takes care of the ground). This maneuver is practiced yearly ( or almost) as one of the most important ones ( with engine fail, traffic avoiding, depresurization), so it is my opinion ( I must say is not shared by many other pilots, many of them say it was the plane or simply don't know) and the simplest cause, that they simply were trying to fight a windshear, after all they were inside a thunderstorm and had to recover the control. That is way they simply couldn't understand ( or even hear the anouncement) why the plane was in stall, because they were folloing the procedure to the point. And procedures are to be followed if you do 't want problems with the plane and the judge( in a posterior investigation)

Also there are problems with the flight controls interface of airbus that have been known from the first a320 accident, and are highly polemic between pilots. Mainly airbus tried to reinvent the wheel at the cockpits,( and the rest of plane systems)in order to save weight. So they removed the link between the pilots controls ( except the rudder-fronwheel ones) and removed the possibility of the throttle levers to move acording to the power possition while in autopilot mode ( as boeing does ), after all only one pilot is taking the controls at a given time right?. But it is wrong, control feedback is fundamental in critical situations and has saved souls in the past. Also knowing the throttle possition at every moment just resting your hand at the levers while they move, gives you an amazing information of how the plane is behaving without having to look at the engine instruments ( there are one mm dots at the indicator showing the virtual "possition" of the levers, or where the thrust is going to move next), or simply overriding the autothrottle with out having to dissengage it. This throttle problem in particular has not caused a serious problem( that I am aware) yet, but give it time... Just imaging an autothrust setting the engines to iddle at 500' and the crew worried about having the runway insight in bad weather. The " don't make me think" principles still apply with airplanes ( and save lives, not only fuel) but airbus doesn't seem to bother too much.

I hope to have clarified a bit the problem from the Point of view of an airline pilot.

Pd. Sorry for all the misspellings, I am writting from my iphone. I'll edit at home.

donaldc 1 day ago 2 replies      
Having multiple joysticks that can be in different positions at the same time and yet all simultaneously affect the flight of the Airbus is a serious design flaw.
rguzman 1 day ago 2 replies      
my dad is a captain, very experienced -- flies 777s, has > 20k hours and is trained in both airbus and boeings.

over dinner i once asked him "so what's the most exciting or difficult situation you've even been in?"

"hm... nothing i can think of, it is all pretty boring, really"

"i mean c'mon, there's got to be something!"

"you see? if you do things by the book plus a little on the safe side it usually works out that you are never in an exciting situation -- my job is to ensure that even the most unlikely exciting situations become more unlikely."

in this particular instance, it seems that there are a few actions that could've avoided the whole situation had the people in charge had the mentality of "by the book plus a little on the safe side". the most glaring one is that the other planes in the area diverted to avoid the storm. another: the captain should have made clear who is in charge.

of course, this is very easy for me to type from the comfort of my office without any situational stress.


huntero 1 day ago 2 replies      
It's interesting that First Officer Bonin is able to doom the plane by continuing to hold back on his joystick, even when that action isn't having positive results. Had the other first officer pushed his joystick forward, would the plane begin to dive? I assume that one joystick has precedence over the other...

It seems dangerous to have two joysticks, both capable of controlling the plane, that have no physical or simulated physical link. It means that one pilot could be attempting to control the plane and his actions will have no effect whatsoever if the other seat is panicking (as in this case).

Anyone have any insight into this?

acabal 1 day ago 3 replies      
That was one of the tensest things I've read in a while. My heart was pumping up until the end. The level of stress, confusion, and terror those pilots, not to mention the passengers, must have experienced must have been truly terrible.
teyc 1 day ago 5 replies      
The state of UX design has advanced so much, perhaps we need more UX testing so that even pilots who are unfamiliar with a plane could figure out what to do. Amazon probably does more with figuring how to help users checkout their shopping cart than plane designers helping pilots get a plane out of a stall.

Alternate law and normal law introduces two modes. This breaks one of the rules of user experience, especially if it is infrequently encountered. Combined with turning autopilot off on its own, it is bound to cause even more confusion. The plane could have put an alert asking the pilot to go on autopilot, otherwise, it will continue by making educated guesses. (A pilot is no better judge of airspeed than the computer)

Another rule of UX broken is "tell" instead of "announce". The voice should have said "Stall. Dive now" or "Stall. Why are you pulling the stick back?".

The flight computer can reinforce its credibility by demonstrating it has predictive capability. For instance, it can say, "decrease your angle of attack or you will stall in 5 seconds", then "4", "3" "2" "1", "stalling". The voice should demonstrate increased tension and panic as counting down.

It is high time the flight computer act as the "third pilot". It is similar to video judges in competitive sports.
Of course people may choose to ignore the computer, but we can then continually review why the computers assessment was wrong and improve on it.

What I don't understand is, how does a plane know it's stalling if the pitot tubes are frozen?

By the way, optical flow meters could have been used as a backup.

blinkingled 1 day ago 4 replies      
The men are utterly failing to engage in an important process known as crew resource management, or CRM. They are failing, essentially, to cooperate. It is not clear to either one of them who is responsible for what, and who is doing what.

I have read a few other transcripts from crashed planes and this seems to be the most common and significant contributor.

I see variations of this problem almost daily in my day to day work. It strikes me so many times that people flat out refuse to communicate or do do in an extremely ambiguous fashion, people violate responsibility boundaries all the time (faux-technical people forcing technical decisions for e.g.) and that directly results in losses far greater than they should have been if there was any notion of discipline and communication.

x03 23 hours ago 0 replies      
The pilots, mostly, acted legitatemly based on the flawed and lacking data of which they were presented with.

Initially, the captain's non-fear of the storm was based on incorrect weather data based on a mis-configured radar system. His data seemingly grossly underestimated the severity of the weather: had he had the correct data originally he would almost definitely, like every other pilot in the region, known to avoid the area to which they eventually flew into. As soon as the radar was configured correctly, the pilots banked left to avoid it as best they could. How common a misconfigured radar is and how easily it is done is perhaps the most vital piece of information here. No aircraft should be allowed to fly with such important data being incorrect, ever. This needs to be checked and re-checked far better in future. It is the original link in this fatal chain. It was wrong data, not a wrong human assessment of data, that started off this crash sequence. Given the original radar data, the captain made the right call. And there's nothing obsentibly wrong with him going to take a nap, insofar as that's typical protocol.

Due to flying into the wrong weather-zone, the autopilot turns itself off. And that's that from there. Given that this is such a rare event it's notification is relatively minor within the grand scheme of fear and confusion that one would expect to exist for such an event that so drastically affects flying itself. There exists such a massive difference between autopilot and pilot-driven flying that there needs to be an unignorable physical presentation difference between the two: perhaps gently vibrating the control stick, changing the entire colour of the cabin (to, say, orange) using some LEDs and even changing the posture of a pilot's seat to a more upright position to subtly but distincly make for a different "feel" to computer-led flying. You'd just know based on these indicators alone. Perhaps it'd be harder to mentally block the stall warnings based on the notion that "we can't be stalling, the airliner won't let us" when it feels like you're personally in control of the whole airliner. They didn't just "ignore" the 70+ stall warnings, they completely ignored the very idea that it was possible for them to be stalling at all.

Addressing either of these two issues alone could have helped save AF447. Evaluating the other problems presented, like why two pilots can input vastly different instructions through their joysticks with both being in ignorance of one another clearly needs to be addressed (perhaps even a weighted average towards the more experienced pilot's input rather than a straight up average?); why there existed no clear chain-of-command; why the captain didn't get back quickly enough and how to "force" captains to be quicker; the best way to brief exactly what you've been doing more quickly; and perhaps a new technology that's basically "Clippy" for flying, that could say things like "You're in a stall, consider pointing down?"

This was a tragic mistake that ought not to have happen. Based on so much, let's not so easily condemn the pilots actions to stupidity and instead take a moment to consider the sheer horror they suffered after commanding such a massively complex machine in such challenging conditions with so much noise, lights and general "WTF"-ness.

Consider that environment the next time you get frustrated investigating a non-obviousl compile error in your quiet, air-conditioned, well-lit office.

nikcub 1 day ago 4 replies      
I simply don't undersand (or don't comprehend) how the pilots don't know these things. My knowledge of planes is 4 hours of pilot lessons and watching a few documentaries on the Discovery channel yet I know that pulling the nose up of a plane would stall, that when you get bad readings from instruments you cross-check, and that a frozen pitot tube giving bad airspeed readings is very likely in high-altitude storms.

I even knew about the two modes of the Airbus - because I once watched an episode of "Air Crash Investigation" where the exact same thing as what is described in this accident happen to an earlier flight.

I don't know if I am jumping to judgement, but it sounds like some of these modern pilots aren't really enthusiasts - they are just people who are trained and do their jobs, and do them by the book and then go home (just like bus or taxi drivers).

edtechdev 1 day ago 1 reply      
Looks like one issue might be that all the instruments show what the aircraft is doing and what is happening outside, but it doesn't show what the pilots are doing. When we design interfaces, we of course assume the user is aware of their own actions and embodied state. But I guess when there are multiple users we need to help them be able to sense the actions/state of others.

Linking the two sticks is one way, another might be to show the state of the two sticks on the display next to the indicator of pitch, perhaps using coloring to highlight when the sticks are being pushed forward or backward. But of course there is already an overload of indicators. Really, improvements in the software/AI might be the best solution.

citricsquid 1 day ago 4 replies      
The lack of reaction to "Stall!" implies one of two things; either it was broken and the sound didn't play or the complete lack of understanding about what the word "Stall" meant with the pilots. Has either of these been proposed and discussed? The author of this piece doesn't seem to touch on why they ignore "Stall!", unless it's been confirmed the sound had been heard (on the recording maybe?) and they did indeed understand what "Stall" meant as it's "standard" pilot language?

Why would they ignore it...

rudiger 1 day ago 2 replies      
That was a chilling read.
dhughes 1 day ago 1 reply      
I don't think the average person realizes that for aircraft pilots ice is a constant worry even in tropical areas of the world.

The temperature drops 1.98C for every 1,000 feet you go up so you can see quite quickly how fast you can enter an area below the freezing point of water.

Icing of the pitot tube and carburetor are a constant worry at least for prop driven aircraft. Right from day one you're taught what to look for signs of carburetor icing and how to correct it. Water in the fuel is probably #3 on the list.

I never got far enough along to learn about wing icing I ran out of money for lessons but really everyday it's ice, ice, ice!

worldvoyageur 1 day ago 0 replies      
What impresses me most in this tragedy is its illustration of the culture of rigorous process to get to the bottom of what happened so that lessons can be learned to make flying safer. Relentlessly followed for decades, in all countries, this culture has made large airliner air travel the safest way to get between two distant places.

Ideas really can change the world.

js2 21 hours ago 1 reply      
Priority logic on the dual-sticks. Each stick has a take-over button. From http://www.smartcockpit.com/data/pdfs/plane/airbus/A330/misc...

  • Normal operation: Captain and First Officer inputs are algebrically summed.
• Autopilot disconnect pushbutton is used at take-over button.
• Last pilot who depressed and holds take-over button has priority; other
pilot's inputs ignored.
• Priority annunciation:
- in front of each pilot on glareshield - ECAM message
- audio warning.
• Normal control restored when both buttons are released.
• Jammed sidestick:
- priority automatically latched after 30 seconds
- priority reset by depressing take-over button on previously jammed

There's also a side-stick priority display on each side showing whether the opposite side is using the take-over button.

fr0sty 1 day ago 0 replies      
Also potentially of interest:


In several of these transcripts you can read the pilots reactions to various warnings (including stall warnings) which might be interesting to look at for comparison.

tcarnell 1 day ago 1 reply      
Presumably the stall warnings were ignored because in "normal law" even if you try to stall the plane, a). the plane will not allow itself to stall and b). the stall warning will still sound.

Hence the stall warning SHOULD NEVER SOUND in "normal law" mode.

Therefore, the only time a pilot should hear the stall warning is when they actually have to intervene.

Ultimately, if the plane was funcioning perfectly well and assuming the pilots weren't complete idiots, the problem was a 'usability' issue.

(think again everytime you see a bug logged as 'usability' and assume it is not important!)

deadmansshoes 1 day ago 1 reply      
I hope the analysis of the flight was more accurate than some of the translations.

02:08:03 (Robert) Tu peux éventuellement le tirer un peu à gauche.
You can eventually pull it a little to the left.

Eventuellement is not the French equivalent of the English. It should be "You could pull a little to the left."
Many sentences read like a straight copy and paste from Google Translate.

nhangen 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Very chilling read.
6ren 1 day ago 0 replies      
That was terrifying. The commentary lends itself to second-guessing, but anything that distances you from what's going on (e.g. controls without tactile feedback) is generally a bad idea. Addressing it with extra procedures adds complexity, which is problematic in itself.
jsmcgd 1 day ago 1 reply      
Panic seems to be so debilitating in situations like this as stress severely diminishes to ability to think.

Is it worth considering making certain fast acting drugs available to professionals that operate in life-threatening environments that would stop or minimize the stress response?

I'm not sure if such a drug exists, one that might reduce stress but not also impair other cognitive functions. But it might well be extremely useful. I can't think of any situations where the stress response is useful in a complex environment.

ookblah 1 day ago 3 replies      
Such a tragedy...

Forgive my ignorance, maybe some pilots can shed some light on this. In the article it mentions that even though the plane was flying in "alternate" mode, my understanding is that it still has limits to what inputs can be given.

That said, even if autopilot is off, why wouldn't the computer have emergency functions to negate strange situations like this? When would pulling completely back on the stick while losing altitude rapidly ever be considered within the range of normal?

bobwaycott 1 day ago 0 replies      
I am stunned at reading this. Its so awfully sad reading the narrative & detailed depictions of just how wrong things went; how wrong we can be.

What a sobering article.

orionlogic 23 hours ago 0 replies      
My question is why black box data is not uploaded to a central server while flying? Is it because of its huge size?
SagelyGuru 1 day ago 1 reply      
Hmmm, lovely reading on a day I am due to fly with Air France across the globe!

It is easy to blame Bonin for being such an idiot and pulling on the stick all the time but it is a natural reaction, just like inexperienced drivers continuing to lock the brakes while skidding off the road. How many die that way every day?

More worrying to me is that the whole plane control is inherently and crazily unsafe. Whatever were the designers thinking, making the two sets of controls without cross-feedback and even 'averaging their inputs' ?!? Whatever were they thinking introducing flabby delays between stick movements and control surfaces? Ever tried to play a computer game with a two seconds delay of the controls?

The actual cause of the crash is this. There were three pilots trying to fly that plane at the same time: the computer, plus the two co-pilots. I guess four, if you include the captain chiming in from the back. Neither of them had any information or understanding or confidence about what the others were doing, due to no particular fault of their own. In such circumstances, adding and withdrawing auto-pilots, plus adding different 'computer modes' is totally insane and only adds to the confusion.

My conclusion: design fault (over engineering)

mikecane 1 day ago 2 replies      
I'm no pilot, and I haven't read the long discussion here, but I can't see how the pilots can be blamed. That Airbus has nonsensical design. Asynchronous sticks, so the other one in the seat couldn't see the other stick being pulled back? Then averaging of the async controls, allowing one stick to work against the other? As for "alternate law," why was there no alarm like the Stall warning to repeatedly tell those in the cockpit that controls were now in Manual Override? Who thought any of that was a good idea? It was bad design that doomed that plane, not the humans inside trying to deal with a design that could thwart anyone.

EDIT: Also, I must add that it seems to me just to be able to engage with reality, a bloody string with a weight hanging from the cockpit ceiling would have shown that the airliner was climbing, from the angle it was hanging. Low-tech and it sounds stupid, but with cockpit crew so alienated from physical reality due to computer mediation and no visual cues due to the clouds, it would have immediately shown them what was really happening.

ekianjo 1 day ago 0 replies      
Very insightful. Indeed it seems that one of the main contributor was the copilot's attitude (at least one of them, pulling back on the joystick all the way)

02:13:40 (Bonin) Mais je suis à fond à cabrer depuis tout à l'heure!

Obviously they were in panic mode and did not take time to think - they were reacting to the "plane go down" message by a "pull back" mode, where they should have been trying to understand why they were losing altitude.

andrewfelix 1 day ago 1 reply      
I physically sweated and got an acid taste in my mouth while reading that transcript.
dkokelley 18 hours ago 0 replies      
If it hasn't already been discussed, could someone explain the rationale for not making the control sticks mirror each other? I know it's an artifact of old, mechanical linkages, but when two people need to be aware of the control inputs at any given time, why not relay that information by manipulating the controls to match the inputs?
sliverstorm 1 day ago 4 replies      
Could they not simply have looked out the window and understood? Or simply felt gravity in their bodies? A 40 degree incline is pretty severe, wouldn't it be obvious?
akronim 1 day ago 0 replies      
If you want to get into root cause analysis, it sounds like the incorrect radar setting got them in the situation in the first place. Obviously the way the pilots dealt with that situation from then on was suboptimal, but avoiding situations where there is a chance for bad decision making is also important.
hybrid11 1 day ago 0 replies      
Reading the last few lines of the article made me cringe:

02:14:25 (Bonin) Mais qu'est-ce que se passe?
But what's happening?

02:14:27 (Captain) 10 degrès d'assiette...
Ten degrees of pitch...

Exactly 1.4 seconds later, the cockpit voice recorder stops.

sek 1 day ago 3 replies      
One question: Why are they not speaking English?

I heard from fatal command mistakes with pilots an Asian country and now everyone has to speak English. Is this again some stupid patriotism thing (i am German, i know the French attitudes), but i seriously thought to prevent command errors everyone has to speak the international aviation language.

petsos 1 day ago 1 reply      
Where does the captain go to take a nap? I was wondering how he didn't hear the stall sounds in order to immediately return.
quattrofan 1 day ago 0 replies      
It is just me or does it sound like the simplest solution would be to have both controls react and mirror each others input, if this was done (like the older control yokes) there would've been an understanding much sooner that the co-pilot was keeping the stick back.
jader201 19 hours ago 0 replies      
For those interested and not already aware, PBS aired a documentary about this on Feb. 16, 2011.


maeon3 1 day ago 3 replies      
Pilot stalls the plane out of panic to get out of the storm, ignoring 75 reminders that you are stalling and losing altitude, does nothing to remedy the stall until it is too late.

I expect blunders like that from drunk drivers.

bjornsteffanson 21 hours ago 1 reply      
Sort of off-topic, but does anyone know anything about the software the Airbus (or any commercial aircraft, really) runs? I'd be really interested to know how abstracted the code is from the hardware.
alpswd 1 day ago 1 reply      
From the article, it seems like the plane had a downward velocity of 10,000 fpm (~110mph) upon crashing.

Would passengers have died instantly upon impact with the water? (It appears not)

tuxguy 1 day ago 0 replies      
Another good account of Air France 447, slightly less technical though & focussed more on the recovery effort .


deepGem 1 day ago 1 reply      
What really intrigues me is the fact that the captain didn't take control of the plane after returning from his nap. If a respected pilot with 11,000 flying hours to his credit made that mistake, I can't imagine what his mind must have gone through during that time.
jlla 22 hours ago 0 replies      
We need AI to control our planes.
adrianwaj 1 day ago 0 replies      
That Bonin guy was so out of his depth, he should've been thrown out of the cockpit, then again the captain was just too laissez-faire. Bonin should've deferred as soon as captain told him to fly into the storm. Instead he chose to be Manuel from Fawlty Towers.
jonah 1 day ago 0 replies      
They were way outside their OODA loop [1].

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

maximusprime 1 day ago 1 reply      
scary how incompetent they seem
bcambel 1 day ago 0 replies      
Another BS story how a plane crashed.. I am wondering what they are hiding behind..
Don't Be A Free User blog.pinboard.in
771 points by stilist  2 days ago   169 comments top 49
DanielBMarkham 2 days ago 4 replies      
This article brings up a good point: if you just found some super-cool free web application that you love? Odds are the only thing you're doing when you use it and recommend it to your friends is creating a nice resume for some large company to do a "talent acquisition" Large companies love this -- they find a couple of guys who are able to identify and engage audiences and then they kill their product and stick them on some other product that the company wants pumped. Web apps are about eyeballs, right? Start-ups are about teams, right? Well what's the logical conclusion then? Startups that gain eyeballs with income-free business models only have themselves -- the team -- to sell. And from some of these sales, it looks like there's serious money in "pump and dump" entrepreneurialism.

This also suggests that there is a pecking order. At the bottom we have start-ups that don't have traction. Then we have start-ups with traction but no income. Then start-ups who can mostly break even. Finally start-ups that have momentum (extra super bonus points for big momentum in a huge market)

The more I look at this model, the better bootstrapping looks.

gkoberger 2 days ago 7 replies      
This article operates under the very incorrect assumption that paid services never shut down and free services are never carried on by their purchasers.

See Flickr or YouTube or PayPal or Skype or Picnik or Grand Central or Picasa or Siri or mySpace or FriendFeed or FeedBurner or even pinboard's biggest competitor Delicious for examples of the latter.

As for the former, there's an unlimited number of examples (for a few, try http://techcrunch.com/tag/deadpool/)

Unfortunately, $7/month from a few people can't keep things afloat.

nknight 2 days ago 3 replies      
He keeps saying "free software", and also says "anti-free software movement".

He means "free service", which is a radically different scenario from "free software" in either sense, and should be treated as such.

Whether we're talking about Free software or just freeware, the user's use of a normal piece of software on their computer doesn't suddenly disappear when the developer goes away.

dotBen 2 days ago 1 reply      
The issue of BigCo's closing useful small services just to harvest the developers post acquisition is certainly a valid one that's worthy of debate.

However, the premise that this only happens because the startup in question was "free" doesn't hold weight. Call me a cynic but the recommendation to use "paid-for" services only to avoid this outcome just seems a little too self-serving to paid-for-only service PinBoard (as excellent as it is).

I don't have an exhaustive list of startup acquisitions that were then shut down, but here's a few just from a Google acquisition list I found:

* PostRank was a paid-for blog data service Google acquired, shut down

* Jambool was a virtual gold payment processing system Google acquired, shut down

* Gizmo5 was a VOIP service Google acquired and shut down.

In some cases even if a company is taking money that alone still doesn't make it viable. In other cases, like PostRank and Jambool where the $$$ being paid by customers was probably significant, acquirers like Google have other circumstances where they'll shut a profitable businesses for a 'higher goal' in a bigger project.

patio11 2 days ago 4 replies      
I think geeks have severely irrational expectations as to what they are "owed" by someone just because that someone has created something which they used or enjoyed.
thaumaturgy 2 days ago 3 replies      
To partly rebut what maciej is saying here, I'd point out that Backblaze is a very successful not-free service which was also courting purchase offers; paying for a service is no guarantee that you'll get to rely on that service forever, which is a major failing of web-based services in general (and a frequently-mentioned point from my clients when I suggest using some web-based service or another).

But I mostly agree with him anyway.

I paid for and love pinboard. I will probably start paying for his page archival service within the next month. I'm more comfortable with it not only because of his track record so far, but because I know I am his customer. If it were a free service, I'd be far more concerned about how many concessions he'd be willing to make for his real customers -- advertisers or metrics companies or who-knows.

kiba 2 days ago 3 replies      
Anti-free software? I don't think free software is antithetical to the movement for charging a leg and an arm.

The hard part is figuring out how to charge an arm and a leg for open source software. However, everyone take the easy way out by closing down on mission critical and open source the rest.

I thought of a possible solution that allow everyone to charge an arm and leg while still being open source, or even public domain. Mainly, I am inspired by the kickstarter idea, but I am less interested in curating projects for one time event and more interested in business model automation.

Here how it would works:

You have a webcomic and you have an ever expanding archive of past comic strips. However, the next comic strip, already finished, is not available. To make the comic strip available, you ask for a collective donation of 100 dollars. Some donate 1 dollars, others 20 dollars, until the money is raised. This ensure that you will get paid every step of the way while your comic archive acts as advertising.

The value for my users is the automation of numerous drudgery involved with the business model. That included tracking who donate what, tracking the deadline, the release, and so on. With an API for the service, people can get especially creative with how they release, or how they incentivize their customers.

Another twist to this idea is sponsorship by advertisers and allowing advertisers getting involved with the fundraising process. They can aid the fundraising in either matching user donations or offering discounts.

Of course, this will be just another idea if nobody took any effort in building the service and nobody will attempt this business model, easily. I am working on it, but it's more of a half-baked project on some private repos somewhere rather than a serious startup.

phillmv 2 days ago 3 replies      
I love Pinboard, but it's a one man operation. Maciej is extremely susceptible to get hit by a bus tomorrow, leaving me without my $9.23 and all of my bookmarks.

You're telling me that if someone offered you $1-5 mil to lead a team at insert huge tech company here you'd turn it down? Bitch, please.

That chart is overall correct, but it's not like paying is suddenly going to be a panacea. I give flickr $25 a year, but I'm actively looking for replacements because it's obvious Yahoo!'s not gonna keep running it forever.

Do you get what I'm trying to say?

todd3834 2 days ago 4 replies      
Based on their signup help page (https://pinboard.in/help/fee/) the price is "number of users * $0.001". Now there is no telling when they started with that pricing but assuming it was from the beginning they have made around $50k. Since it was created 3 years ago that is an average of around $17k/year.

I realize the archival accounts are $25/year and I have no way of knowing how many they have but assuming it doubles their profits which I doubt they are still making less than $40k/year minus expenses.

I'm not huge on selling out but I would rather build a large app and flip it vs run a company that profits less than $40k/yr

(I did not double check my math so please forgive me if I rushed through this too fast)

drhayes9 2 days ago 1 reply      
The reactions I'm seeing are mostly people zeroing in on the "paid services sometimes shut down" counterargument. And, yeah, that's true.

But I don't think charging your customers for your service means that you will never consider being acquired; I think it means that your exit strategy is to serve your customers with this great service you've built. It's the difference between a long-term strategy of "God I hope we get acquired" versus one of sustainability.

Sites that don't charge are floating on investor money, and investor money would really like to get oodles of money back eventually, instead of slowly growing a modest business that comfortably supports one or two people.

I don't have the link anymore, but there's an excellent essay that says exactly this using a metaphor about strip mining versus farming.

morisy 2 days ago 2 replies      
Seeing Pinboard's success was really helpful in getting over the sick feeling of charging a sea of free, and I think we're finally seeing a non-trivial amount of web users understand that if you're not the customer, you're the product (after they've been burned a time or twelve).

Great post, and glad to see a lot of other Hacker Newser following suit.

nhangen 2 days ago 1 reply      
Finding out that Trunk.ly, which I've grown to love, is shutting down...well it flat out pisses me off.

Great post. Thanks for having the courage to state the truth, that most startup founders don't give a about users.

tomkarlo 2 days ago 0 replies      
I'd suggest the nature of free and paid services biases how many of each we think gets "shut down" post-acquisition. Free / freemium services will tend to have tens or hundreds of times as many "users" versus a paid service of the same value.

So when one gets shut down, we all notice because so many of us had an account (even if we weren't using it.) Whereas when a paid service closes, it impacts only a tiny fraction of us in comparison, so we don't hear the same hue and cry.

The fact is that for a large company like Google or Amazon, the $$$ income from most small startup acquisitions (ads or paid) isn't large enough to be a factor in the decision to continue running that product. Either they believe that it's going to turn into a business that does tens to hundreds of millions of dollars in sales a year, or they don't and it's better to move those developers and resources off to a project that might.

I've seen this firsthand - I've had to fight to maintain services that were making lots of money with a few staffers, because a large company just didn't think they were worth the hassle of supporting from a legal and administrative perspective. And I understood that point of view from a management perspective, in many cases.

epaga 2 days ago 0 replies      
"DISCLAIMER: I run a paid bookmarking site. Every morning I wake up and dive into my vault of golden coins."

Best. Disclaimer. Ever.

tlots 2 days ago 1 reply      
"You might call this the anti-free-software movement."

While I agree with his argument (and I'm a pinboard customer), I am not for mixing the term 'free software' with 'free, unmodifiable, supported, centrally hosted web service'.

To me, free software means code sharing and the ability to modify software and run it personally as I choose. The difference boils down to resources. With free software I do get the source; however, I need to provide the environment, time, and self reliance support-wise (or a decent community).

icebraining 2 days ago 0 replies      
I prefer an alternative: use a free service, but assume it'll close next week; the key is to make them as close to a commodity as possible.

All services eventually close, free and paid, but as long as you control your data, you can move when it happens. Knowing how to script something up to push the data to the new service is important too.

For example, I use Google Apps for my email. I'm not worry that it'll be closed tomorrow, but for all I know, some glitch might kill my account and Google's support isn't. So I got my own domain, I use an email client and keep very regular backups on everything. If it closed, my only loss would be the couple of hours while the MX records update.

gbelote 2 days ago 0 replies      
I don't disagree with OP's point, but I don't think he does a good job at making it. He name-drops several popular startups that were bought out then implies they wouldn't be bought if they were making more money.

Etherpad, for example, charged for it's product. You could use it for free, but if you wanted private pads and custom domains/urls you could upgrade to Pro. I don't see how "doesn't have a business model" applies to that.

kellysutton 2 days ago 1 reply      
As someone that runs a paid service, I can tell you it's awesome to interact with customers. There's an air of respect that you don't get from completely open products.
RexRollman 2 days ago 0 replies      
No, the way it's done is that you offer everything for free and get a large userbase. Once you have the userbase, then you start ruining it with advertising or sell it to a company to will slowly kill it, like Yahoo or AOL.
orijing 2 days ago 0 replies      
The author didn't bring up the point that many of those services became successful (not yet profitable) because they were free. The years when they had no ads and charged nothing are considered loss-leaders in order to build a large network, because their services typically benefit strongly from first order network effects.

Google didn't always have such an indisputable business model. Who knew search was so profitable? Would it have been as successful if it started charging users right off the bat, or covering the results pages with (irrelevant) ads before contextual ads were developed?

neuromancer2600 2 days ago 0 replies      
Maciej Ceglowski provided more insights into his views about pricing and free services in this podcast interview from January this year (just ff to 24:19):

His major point is that users regard bookmarking sites as a bank where they want their bookmarks safe and secure. I find that a pretty compelling difference.

So the statement still holds that if you don't pay for a product, you are the product.

angryasian 2 days ago 0 replies      
its a big cycle, the service will sell everyone cashes out, some other team picks up where the last service left off.

Delicious -> pinboard anyone ?

I think theres a pattern of products deteriorating after purchase for one reason or another, either not enough attention or founders leave or consumers find another product from a hot startup thats in the same space. While having a paid option should be encouraged, no service yet is something that I can't absolutely live without where theres a free alternative, and if theres something worth paying for, someone will build a free service.

I'd rather encourage users to turn off ad block on sites they like, and click on links that are relevant.

mcherm 2 days ago 0 replies      
Oh yeah, thanks for the reminder. I just switched to being a paid user of pinboard (which I had always intended to do but hadn't gotten around to yet).
jakubw 2 days ago 0 replies      
While I agree with the reasoning, I don't like the point being made here. A better one would be to say: be prepared for a possible shutdown of the service you're using if it's free. That means, make sure you can easily take your data out and that you're not too much dependant on it.
wavephorm 2 days ago 0 replies      
The users have spoken. They want free software products. Open source, piracy, and free websites, together have burned into people's heads that software is worthless regardless of the platform (windows, ios, web, server-side).

Unless this mentality changes, expect all software to continue this cycle of froth and recycling.

Havoc 2 days ago 1 reply      
Both paid & free have their place in the world. Not quite sure why the one is being portrayed as evil?

I also don't think its the responsibility/right of the user to fix the business model of the company ("Make them charge you or show you ads.").

To me the "pump and dump" approach is perfectly legit. Just make sure nobody gets hurt. e.g. Allow customer to export their data. Companies aim to make money, not win a papal election.

drdaeman 1 day ago 0 replies      
While he has a point, I feel somehow offensed^W trolled by such one-sided opinion. Should someone fork HN and make a paid/ad-filled version of it? Doubt so.

It's probably because I totally don't get that "oh, their service is so good I want them charge more" mindset.

einhverfr 2 days ago 0 replies      
There are a bunch of ways of monetizing free use though. I work with Free/Open Source accounting/ERP software and I estimate that less than 1% of our users put money back in our pockets.... But at the same time a lot put money in somebody's pockets, and this grows the community which makes us all more successful and prosperous.
rradu 2 days ago 1 reply      
Do people just like paying for things?

If a company can find a way to make money off ads and keep the product free, I'll gladly take that over paying a subscription fee.

charlieok 2 days ago 0 replies      
I'll put in a good word for a return to the days of actually running an online service yourself, instead of just using remote services. If you are the one running the software, you have control.
j_baker 2 days ago 0 replies      
Like a service? Make them charge you or show you ads. If they won't do it, clone them and do it yourself. Soon you'll be the only game in town!

"We're just like service x, but we charge you money!"

There is no way this business model isn't a good idea.

robryan 2 days ago 0 replies      
What I dislike are companies that don't start with a business model and still don't have one after some time of operation. Makes it feel like hey are being built to flip or are trying to be the next Twitter and not many have been able to pull that off.

Sure ads don't always look the best but put say one small one and get some revenue started. Offer a premium account, even if the value proposition isn't great, even if it's just a cool badge for your use to say they are supporting the product, the users who love your product will probably take it up.

gcr 2 days ago 1 reply      
At risk of squabbling over semantics, "Free software", as used in the article, is orthoganal to open-source software. If the source code for these websites were released, even at the end, there would be no issue. Case in point: Etherpad released their source code just before taking their wave dive, starting Piratepad et al.
fuckmoney 1 day ago 0 replies      

"Like a service? Make them charge you or show you ads. If they won't do it, clone them and do it yourself. Soon you'll be the only game in town! "

If a free website service shuts down you can make your own.

Being competitive and ruthless may work financially but it isn't right and unlike a corporation in constant pursuit of profit an owner of a free website is free to act morally and avoid monetary perversion.

I'd prefer if websites were a little less stable than if the internet was exclusively for the rich by the rich.

Tcepsa 2 days ago 1 reply      
Clearly Google is going to get bought out by somebody any day now and we can kiss those searching, mapping, and mail services goodbye. As are Facebook and Twitter--better find someone that you can pay for your social networking, stat!

And obviously Hacker News isn't going to be around for long...

kd1220 2 days ago 0 replies      
If you replaced "free software/service" with "person" then a sensible title could be "Don't Have No-Strings-Attached Relationships."

I think the author is giving bad advice. If you're using a free service that doesn't appear to have any revenue stream, then just assume it won't be around when you need it. There's nothing bad about using a free service. You don't have to bug the owners to monetize. It's a technological fling. Just like with interpersonal relationships, a company isn't going to tell its users "Hey, we're not going to be around in 2 years. This is just a temporary thing."

Maybe Gowalla just wasn't that into its users.

zdw 2 days ago 0 replies      
So, where do I go to pay for Twitter?
r0s 2 days ago 0 replies      
I'm all for it, transparent business models!

Also, I will no longer tolerate advertizing in my paid content. Seems great, when do we start?

jalada 2 days ago 0 replies      
Upvoted purely for the laughs I got when I read "Every morning I wake up and dive into my vault of golden coins."
diamondhead 2 days ago 1 reply      
Question: what happens when a guy copies pinboard (in other words, the old delicious) and open sources it?

A community evolves. And some of paid pinboard users switch to the free one because it's open source, some people implement some cool stuff periodically, it'll be maintained forever.

Another question: What happens when pinboard makes less money?

These questions were answered 30 years ago by OSS community.

pbreit 2 days ago 0 replies      
The reason not as many paid services are acquired is because they don't get enough traction to entice a buyer.
blackdivine 2 days ago 0 replies      
Loved the article. It was exactly to the point, precise. No more reading first paragraph and ok.. gah...

Also the Disclaimer is a pure win

"DISCLAIMER: I run a paid bookmarking site. Every morning I wake up and dive into my vault of golden coins."

ssgrfk 2 days ago 0 replies      
maximusprime 2 days ago 0 replies      
Doesn't really mention the fact you can make far more from showing your users a few adverts. (Disclaimer: I do).
dman 2 days ago 1 reply      
Google and Facebook are counter examples of how free can be resilient. I guess it depends on the vertical. If you are aiming to scale up to world scale being free is almost essential.
smashing 2 days ago 0 replies      
Can I still use this news.ycombinator site for free or should I stop until I can be charged for its usage?
diamondhead 2 days ago 0 replies      
let me summarize the main idea for you: A bunch of people pay me because I store their a few hundreds lines of text, save their ass from the sites full of annoying ads like cjb.net or freeservers.com.

no need for the user friendly, smart business models. no need to develop a new vision. this is the hack.

jsilence 2 days ago 1 reply      
Put a Flattr button on your free cool website. (https://flattr.com/)

Problem solved.

diamondhead 2 days ago 0 replies      
See the irony: pinboard is a clone of delicious' initial version. it copied the idea, the visual design and started selling it.

In every success story of pinboard, I'm very surprised to see how people are impressed from a carbon copy.

Let me introduce myself: I'm a guy who bookmarks everyday for 5 years, on delicious. After the Yahoo acquire, it was redesigned.

And I was annoyed. I started looking at the alternatives. Most of them were crappy except Pinboard. It was a good copy of old Delicious.

And I decided to use it just because it was a good copy of Delicious!

Then, I noticed that Pinboard is not free. And what it provides is nothing but keeping some text on a database. Same idea, almost same design but it's not free. Let the owner explain why it's not free: it's unsocial. and it'll be online unless a 90% percent of users keep paying it.

It's not ethical, Pinboard. If I think that it's not a waste of time, I'll code some scripts to store bookmarks in Dropbox for your users. It'll be under WTF PL license so that you can sell it.

Mint.com turns 404 ad page into date ad for developer mint.com
657 points by punkrobby  2 days ago   144 comments top 41
chimeracoder 2 days ago 7 replies      
I love it when companies add a little personal touch to their 404 pages (though they're taking 'personal' to a whole new level here!)

I saw an incredibly great collection of creative 404 pages a few months back. I can't find the one I saw, though Fab404 (http://fab404.com/) has a bunch.

ComputerGuru 2 days ago 1 reply      
Am I the only one wondering if it was a prank on Justin? I think it's more likely that a coworker was being funny than Justin's desperate for a date :)
aaronbrethorst 2 days ago 3 replies      
Clever, reminds me of Groupon's unsubscribe video: http://www.groupon.com/unsubscribe flash required
Aloisius 1 day ago 2 replies      
Am I the only one who finds the picture a bit disconcerting? It is mostly the kissy face pose. The photo seems so over the top that it just doesn't seem sincere.

And is that a sweater vest? Nice.

josegonzalez 2 days ago 0 replies      
When I saw this page committed, I smiled quite a bit.

http://seatgeek.com/404 (Image: http://d2o7bfz2il9cb7.cloudfront.net/main-qimg-e859ed4563650...)

guelo 2 days ago 4 replies      
I know this is off topic but beware of Mint. As they say, if you are not paying then you are not the customer.

EDIT: ooh -4, I guess ya'll REALLY didn't want to be warned. It was just intended as a friendly warning but in reality I don't care what you do, go ahead use Mint all you want then.

goodweeds 2 days ago 1 reply      
If you've ever posted an ad on craigslist, then you know he's probably received hundreds of penis photos in the hour since this link was posted.
richardw 1 day ago 2 replies      
The perfect place for a really good 404 is here. Missed opportunity, I think.


http://xkcd.com/404/ <--


Cushman 1 day ago 4 replies      
Serious question: why do we still have 404 pages?

A 404 means the server can't find what I asked for, can't tell me where it went, has no idea what I'm looking for. By definition, my browser shouldn't show me the content that was returned-- it knows it's not what I want!

If I get a 404 code, the page shouldn't change. The browser should just show a message indicating that that resource doesn't exist, include the reason message if it's something other than "NOT FOUND", and let me either try a different link or correct my spelling. If I clicked a link to get there, it could even set a style on the link to indicate the resource doesn't exist.

It's strange how much we're still living in the nineties. I wonder how many of the use cases of Ajax could be replaced by an intelligent browser using the existing HTTP standard?

hirojin 2 days ago 0 replies      
I see many guys (yes, only the guys) here curious about Justin's sexuality.
Really, if you're interested in him, just email him already.
hansy 2 days ago 0 replies      
Haha this is so awesome and creative. Way to take a completely buzz-kill page and turn it into something fun and (perhaps) useful.
yogrish 2 days ago 1 reply      
Other interesting 404 page http://www.foradian.com/404
jdelsman 2 days ago 1 reply      
I emailed him; never heard back :(
rehashed 2 days ago 0 replies      
1.17MB 24bit PNG with alpha transparency on a flat color background...
Groxx 2 days ago 0 replies      
I love the description. Sharp crayons FTW!

This might just take the cake for my favorite 404 page ever.

dr_ 1 day ago 0 replies      
Since it's at mint.com/accounting I wonder if it an intentional dig at the traditional concept of accounting, or at least personal finance, as opposed to what mint offers?

Just a thought.

athst 1 day ago 0 replies      
I can't stand it when sites try to be cute like this with their 404 pages. I guess it's a good thing for getting buzz, but what about a user who is actually trying to use the site and gets that page? It's awful. You were trying to complete a task, the site isn't working how you wanted, and to top it all off, now they're trying to be funny and lighthearted. It just seems like a site failure isn't the right time to be making jokes.
yarone 2 days ago 2 replies      
Next up, ad network designed for embedding on 404 pages. :-)
jspash 2 days ago 1 reply      
Looks like a stock photo. Has the same amount of "funny" as grannies on motorcycles. Just an opinion or two...
tomlin 2 days ago 0 replies      
The points for this post are currently 404. I. Can't. Upvote.
guynamedloren 2 days ago 1 reply      
So, who emailed Justin after seeing this page? Wonder how affective this is!
noja 2 days ago 1 reply      
They should probably mention whether he wants a date with a guy or with a girl...
cfontes 2 days ago 2 replies      
Hahaha, very very nice ! It's petty that Mint doesn't work in my country... it doesn't sync with Brazilian Banks. So I am stick with Buxfer.
alapshah 2 days ago 1 reply      
Quora- What are some of the funniest 404 pages:
shibboleth 2 days ago 0 replies      
Right underneath that, in large bold letters, it says "Page not available." Also, the title of the page is "Nothing found for ..." I don't think that users will have trouble understanding what they are viewing. It may be campy, but I personally have no issue with websites being too creative or too concerned with aesthetics (if such a thing exists).
scoot 1 day ago 0 replies      
Um, why are we upvoting this dreadful stereotype of a developer (dickie bow, nerd glasses, and "slow cars, sharp crayons, awkward silences") Puhlease!
kr1shna 2 days ago 2 replies      
Well done, Mint. Now if you could get a service up and running in the UK? Pretty please?
asktell 1 day ago 0 replies      
GitHub has the 404 I've been looking for: https://github.com/404.html
JAVagueArgument 1 day ago 0 replies      
JavaScript Polaroid (you have to shake it like one) 404 http://fatjed.com/404
insraq 2 days ago 0 replies      
"The page is not available, but Justin is" - very creative.
cupcake_death 2 days ago 1 reply      
anid101 1 day ago 0 replies      
This one is awesome too - http://playcez.com/error
kwamenum86 2 days ago 0 replies      
Watch from tokyoflash.com. Nice.
kkt262 2 days ago 1 reply      
I wonder how long till he gets a date? Probably a while since it's only us nerd dudes that know about it.
jeremyt 2 days ago 0 replies      
Genius link bait.
LearnYouALisp 2 days ago 1 reply      
That man needs to shave!
ronbeltran 2 days ago 0 replies      
Is there any mint.com girl developer who wants a date? I only see Justin on 404, or maybe they dont have girl developers.
Tharkun 2 days ago 0 replies      
I can warmly recommend http://www.404.be.
brettweavnet 2 days ago 0 replies      
I recently open sourced https://www.opschannel.com. Allows for easily putting up interactive maintenance pages and engineering dashboards. Check it out.
mkjones 2 days ago 1 reply      
How is it heteronormative? I see no reference to the gender that he's interested in.
Fuck passwords veekun.com
641 points by vetler  4 days ago   239 comments top 60
patio11 4 days ago  replies      
There is a (mildly) compelling reason for every bank to have a stupid password rule which is mutually incompatible with every site in existence: it means that compromising that other site's identity:password dictionary and then running it against your bank results in zero successes. Regular users reuse passwords given the opportunity to do so, and most of them will happily cough up their bank password to, quite literally, any site on the Internet.

There's got to be some weird game-theory solution for "Maximize for security while simultaneously minimizing the sum of all accounts on the Internet which have a password that could possibly collide with a valid password on this site."

peterwwillis 3 days ago 0 replies      
I love this post, but must point out something about banks and passwords:

Malware trojans don't care about your password.

I don't know why people care about 'password cracking' when it comes to their bank accounts. Please watch "Modern CrimeWare Tools and Techniques: An Analysis of Underground Resources" (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zj4VkCB6obI) and your jaw may drop. TL;DW: Bank account sessions are automatically detected and wire transfers happen immediately to shell accounts. Login accounts are detected and sent to databases at C&C servers. People who know nothing about computers can generate a custom trojan to drive-by infect most computers.

Probably 95% of the time, if your bank account gets owned, it's not because someone cracked your magical password. It's because trojans are incredibly sophisticated and will take your money at the moment you log in, all undetected, with no fancy MITM or phishing or SSL cert faking.

Yeah yeah, they got your password and because it's unique now they won't get into some other account of yours. But carders don't care about your other accounts. You're one in a million people owned by their trojan. They'll get the other accounts once you log into them.

VonLipwig 4 days ago 5 replies      
I don't understand this whole never reuse passwords nonsense.

I have unique passwords for my email accounts, github, facebook, twitter and bank accounts. I only need to remember about 8 passwords. They are all pretty memorable. I usually write them down gasp. I then manually type them in until I remember them. I then rip the paper in two putting half in recycling and half in the trash.

For every other site I use 1 of 3 passwords. Why? Why not? I mean seriously, if a site contains no personal information apart from your email why do you need a separate password for it?

I only use unique 10+ character long passwords to guard things that are worth protecting. If a forum account, stack overflow account etc gets hacked.. oh well. I will make another. It really doesn't matter.

I would use 1 password for all non-critical sites but password restrictions means I need 3.

dexen 4 days ago 3 replies      
How's passwords an unsolved problem for any power-user? There's a ton of password management software out there that does /not/ require you to copy-paste passwords around†.

For me, kwallet & ssh public keys all the way. Kwallet makes passwords available to all programs I authorize. Authorize either on case-by-case basis, or once forever. If you really don't want to bother with KDE and/or want to be easily portable across everything POSIX, go for http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Factotum_(software) -- it has a simple protocol.

I remember literally 5 passwords:
home computer, work computer, home wallet, work wallet, auxilliary bank account (just in case something happened to all of my computers at once).

Actually, scratch that, I can /type/ those passwords, but I don't really know their content.

† using ^C^V on passwords is a bad idea anyway; (depending on browser) websites can read contents of your clipboard. And check your recent browsing history. 2+2=...?

IgorPartola 4 days ago 1 reply      
Fuck passwords is right! After having one of my re-usable passwords compromised through Mt. Gox's breach and (a small amount of) my bitcoins stolen from a different site, I have learned my lesson (BTW, the correct term for this type of event I think should be "I got Mt. Goxed.")

Here are a few things I learned:

* Banks don't need complicated passwords. Though they force you to use something that you'd normally consider ridiculous, like ^([a-zA-z0-9]){6,8}$, they also are much more quick about locking the login. On top of that you typically don't have to worry about SQLi with your bank and they do all use SSL. Phishing attacks are much more likely.

* I use LastPass and my typical password is a random 32-character alpha + numeric + all sorts of special chars string and different for every site. Some exceptions still apply: I want my main Google password to be something I remember and I feel all right about that since there I can use two-factor auth.

* LastPass knows your passwords. Or at least they could. Consider that when you log in to share your password with someone (see below for why), you can expose your password to yourself on their site. Now all they need is some JavaScript (potentially inserted by a malicious person from a third-party domain) to grab it out of the DOM.

* LastPass has the ability to share passwords with others. This works well in my situation where my wife has all of our banking and utilities passwords, and either one of use can pay the bills. Once again, the fact that every site gets a unique password means that I can share these without sharing the passwords to my employer's servers, etc. On the flip side, explaining how LastPass works to a non-geek was a challenge. Their plugin for Chrome is just sort of ugly and clunky (Chrome's fault).

* SSH agent is fantastic. I set up all my personal servers and workstations to only allow pubkey-based logins which means no more script kiddies trying random passwords. I also set up a PAM module to authenticate sudo using pubkeys and SSH agent, so I never enter a password into a remote machine.

* SSH agent forwarding may be set up in a very insecure way. The biggest problem is that if your local machine doesn't ask for permission to answer a pubkey challenge explicitly, you could have the following situation: an attacker compromised your remote machine. They have replaced /bin/bash with a clever script that executes bash, but also scans your ~/.bash_history for other hosts that you SSH'ed to. Now as soon as you log in, /bin/bash starts trying those hosts one by one, logging into those hosts and doing whatever the attacker wants since they also have access to sudo.

* Other things to be paranoid about: evil browsers, compromised operating systems, malicious browser plugins, key loggers, people with physical access to your machines, other people's dumb passwords on the same servers that you log into, MITM attacks and not checking the key signatures of SSH servers, monsoons, terrorist organizations, drug cartels, brain washing, swine flu and Soviet era doomsday devices.

Basically, LastPass and SSH agent are way better than using the same password, but just be careful about how you set it all up.

mike-cardwell 4 days ago 1 reply      
My passwords are all generated by mashing the keyboard, and are stored in a PGP encrypted file in my Dropbox. When I want to add a password to that file, I just edit it using Vim. Vim automatically handles decryption/encryption because I have the "vim.gnupg" plugin installed. When I want to know a password, I type "password foo", where foo is a substring of some identifier I've used, eg the domain name of the site. It searches my encrypted text file for a line containing that identifier, and selects the last string of non-space characters on that line as the password. It then displays the password, and also copies it into the clipboard. It waits for 10 seconds, and then overwrites the clipboard with it's previous value. My "password manager" is this tiny script: https://grepular.com/password.pl_txt

I'd much rather rely on the security of GnuPG for my password store, than Keypass or Lastpass etc. Dropbox provides me with backup and syncing capability for my password store.

Ixiaus 3 days ago 0 replies      

There exists a rather elegant alternative to passwords for authenticating a user's identity - it's been around for a while but the user barrier is too high: FOAF+SSL.

The idea is you generate an X.509 cert and install it in your browser(s). You then stick the pubkey in a section of your own publicly hosted FOAF file (hosted by yourself or by an FOAF hosting service) - then when you "visit" a site that requires you to authenticate all you have to do is give it the location of your FOAF file, the browser will prompt you to select which cert you have installed that you want to use. (there are cool things you can do with remembering a user too)

This solution is elegant in two ways - no password entry, it uses a cryptographically secure certificate for authorization (much more secure than a password hash), the application in question can also pull/cache YOUR FOAF DATA (name, address, alias, whatever you have in there) so you NEVER HAVE TO FILL OUT A PROFILE FORM AGAIN.

That's effing cool, man. Why don't we see it? Because it's easier to use Facebook Connect and get the same stuff nowadays then it is to try and educate internet users on A) what is a FOAF file? and B) where/how do you generate it and host it when Facebook basically has all of that already (I know, once is personally owned, the other is owned by Facebook but we can't always control the ebb and flow of internet mass consciousness even if something is "more elegant" or "stupidly better").

chimeracoder 3 days ago 2 replies      
I absolutely despise security questions.

I have a few bank accounts for my company (checking/investments/etc.) which each require different logins. That's fine.

However, the security questions for a business account are inextricably tied to an individual. Favorite animal? High school mascot? Where were you born?

These are all questions that are pretty easy to crack for an individual account, so they provide next to no added security. Furthermore, for a business account, they're just an added layer of frustration. When I took over the accounts, I had no idea how the previous president answered the questions, since they're all personal to him, not our company. Furthermore, when someone else at our company needs to access our accounts, they need to know the answer to my security questions... which are the same ones I have to use on my personal bank accounts!

In the end, it's so much of a pain to remember the answer to these questions that when I'm randomly asked to verify, I'm just as likely to call customer support and ask them to reset them. So what does this mean? I call customer support and give them

1. My name
2. My company's name
3. Our username
4. Our bank account name
5. Our tax ID number or the last 4 digits of the social-security number on the account.

...most of which would be pretty simple for a would-be attacker to obtain. And let's face it, corporate accounts at banks are much more likely to be the targets of individualized attacks, rather than random attacks over an array of accounts.

tl;dr: For business accounts, security questions actually decrease security.

earthboundkid 4 days ago 3 replies      
Dear browser makers,

Creating a password is not a job that users are good at.

Remembering passwords is not a job that users are good at.

Solve this problem for your users.

It's not super tricky. Make up a couple of new kind of input types. Say, input type=trade-keys. When you see that on a page, create a private-public key pair and swap it with the server. Take the private key you made and the public key you got and encrypt them using the user's passphrase---the only password a user should have. Store that locally and make a back up to your cloud service in case the user wants to log in with another computer or the user loses their hard drive somehow.


resnamen 3 days ago 1 reply      
I had to register my Apple ID. Apple's site disallows copying and pasting in the password field. I really REALLY hope this isn't a trend, because I use strong passwords for everything, and these 128-bit monsters will make your hands explode if you try to type them in manually.

It blew my mind because a coder had to burn some calories code the site specifically to disable copy/paste. What kind of UX is that?

apmee 4 days ago 1 reply      
I've often wondered to what extent my own password mnemonic "system" is either sufficiently secure or woefully misguided.

Each of my passwords is made up of the same eight-character non-dictionary word, plus the alphabet-position numbers of the first three characters of the name of the site I've made the password for (A -> 1, B -> 2, that old trick).

So for example, say the common word I was using in my passwords was "pizzadog", then my Hacker News password would be "pizzadog813" (H -> 8, A -> 1, C -> 3)

I admit my goal is convenience, as it's clearly only one step up from using the same password for everything, but with the added numbers making me feel a little better in the event of one of them being compromised. But is there any reason why this approach might be considered a bad idea?

DanBC 4 days ago 2 replies      
> You know those SSL certificate warnings? You know how you always ignore them? Yeah, you shouldn't do that. They're the only warning you get that someone might have hijacked the connection to your bank or whatever. It's a shame that browsers have trained most of us to ignore the warnings, because they're the only thing making SSL useful.

It's not just browsers - here's an example of a budget web / email host telling users to ignore the warning:


> When logging in your browser may warn about an invalid or untrusted SSL certificate. This is normal and can safely be ignored - the communication is fully encrypted despite this warning.

People only using one computer (that no-one else uses) have nice browser based password managers. Software like Keepass or Password Safe are handy, but not great if you use more than one computer (especially if you use more than one OS.) Keeping databases both synchronised and backed-up becomes tricky. And some companies / public computers won't allow you to use such software.

Trusting my passwords to the cloud just feels weird and unsafe.

mncolinlee 3 days ago 1 reply      
Personally, I use Keepass over Dropbox. I have my latest passwords available on any device I use. So if my phone and my computer burns up in a fire, I can still access my passwords from anywhere I can securely log in to Dropbox and my safe. If anyone hacks Dropbox, they will still need my safe key. If I lose Internet access, I can still access all but the most recent password changes.
runjake 3 days ago 2 replies      
He would have gotten his point across better if it wasn't presented as an expletive-filled "yeah? fuck you!" rant, which seems like the cool thing to do, these days.

Never mind the fact that this subject ("Use different passwords!") has been beaten into the ground at this point and if people haven't clued in by now, they likely won't until they're compromised.

BadassFractal 4 days ago 2 replies      
I completely agree with the sentiment of the post, I have to continuously go back to my KeePass database to lookup the more complicated passwords.

What's the simplest thing that could work to fix this problem once and for all? I get the impression that there simply isn't one.

lisper 3 days ago 1 reply      
If you hate passwords, check out http://dswi.net/
calloc 3 days ago 0 replies      
I wish banks in the United States started offering two factor authentication. If I want to log into my bank (Swiss bank) I input my card number, I then get a one time code from my bank, I insert my pin card into my card reader (not connected to the computer), I type in my pin number, I then type in the code I got from my bank. What I get back is another number that I then type into the browser field.

I am now logged into my bank. Now each time I try to do anything with my money (move it from checking to savings, or from checking to my dad, or savings to checking, or to investing) I have to insert my card, enter my pin, enter the number and give my bank the number that is generated.

That is secure. WAY more secure than what I currently have with BoA, ING, WF, First bank, Chase, and Capital One.

tlrobinson 3 days ago 0 replies      
One of my banks limits passwords to 12 characters. I asked a customer service representative why, her response was "because it's hard enough to remember 12".


dprice1 4 days ago 1 reply      
Awesome rant.

In my mind, someone (browser vendors? security community?) should create a standard for handling interactions to do with passwords. Covering password length, characters allowed, characters required, case sensitivity, et cetera. Or perhaps a grading mechanism. Give it a catchy name and get some noted security researchers and clueful businesses to endorse it. You could even have a browser extension which points out to users which sites are handling passwords poorly or in an inconvenient way.

With respect to the issues with banking institutions: why not take it up with your congressperson, or write to the FTC and/or SEC? The FTC is charged with consumer protection, and this seems directly in line with that. Again, if there was a grading tool, the regulators could apply that.

nakkiel 4 days ago 1 reply      
I'm by no mean an expert in passwords/cyrpto and the like but it sounds to me that his idea of generating passwords from the service name and a master password is a good bad idea.

Basically, his passwords are made of two variable strings: one is the service (easy to guess if you're target a specific account, which in his case you must anyway) and a master password that likely doesn't vary much from one identity to another.

Doing this is basically opening the door to anybody who could gain access to his generation algorithm. I have no maths to back me up but I made a quick proof of concept that I ran against /usr/share/dict/words and managed to find one collision in ~100000 tests (I was generating passphrases though).

I'm going to keep on investigating and try to generate passwords instead of passphrases.

al_james 3 days ago 0 replies      
The approach I use is to combine a master password (so only one password to remember) with a site specific name (e.g. the domain name or site title) using some difficult to reverse combining / hashing algorithm.

This way, even if one password is leaked, it should be impossible (or at least very hard) to calculate the master password.

I just uploaded a simple demo of this: http://onewheeledbicycle.com/junk/passwords/index.html

g3orge 4 days ago 2 replies      
1Password is a great tool for that kind of stuff.
I use it everyday, and it's very secure.
imperialWicket 4 days ago 0 replies      
I totally agree. I recently had the password requirements experience with quickbooks and their silly requirements (http://imperialwicket.com/quickbooks-online-password-fails).

Like many have said, I have a 6-10 password bank of relatively complex passwords that I use for services I may need to easily use on alternate computers. For everything else, I use randomly generated values (usually 24 char, including alphanum, special, hyphen, underscore, and white space) which I store in a Keepass db. I keep the Keepass db on a flash drive which I keep with me virtually all the time.

This technique is frustrating at times, but I like knowing that if a password is compromised, it's either something that can quickly and easily be addressed, or it's something that I really don't need to address.

zobzu 4 days ago 0 replies      
been preaching the same since.. 1997?
When SRP came along, we though that tied to proper keychains we'd see the light at the end of the tunnel. but nope.

too many "pros" are too tied to die hard password auth ;-)

iand 4 days ago 0 replies      
Take a look at WebID which uses client certificates to give you that SSH-like convenience for identifying with sites


jrabone 4 days ago 0 replies      
Lots of fail here, but I'm surprised no-one has mentioned www.ironkey.com yet (I just did). I've been using one for a couple of years (admittedly mostly on Windowses) and was so impressed I bought a couple more for my partner, family members etc. The identity manager does a reasonably good job, and the two-factor authentication works well for Ebay / PayPal. I use the on-board browser, which I keep as my "secure" / trusted-sites-only browser (where trusted mostly means "can cause money to change hands") or the integration with IE for some banks. The only thing that doesn't work automatically is banks asking for random digits (from a 16+ character random string, yeah, thanks). For that I use the ability to store notes alongside account credentials in the identity manager. IronKey also provide a degree of device management on their website, which is maybe the obvious weak spot - the credentials and checks needed to log on to their site WITHOUT having the device. That sort of thing is maybe best written down and stored with a will in a lawyer's safe - it's a worst-case-scenario if you need it.
Egregore 4 days ago 1 reply      
It would be better to use public keys for authentication instead of password, but it will require to many things to change for this to happen.
jiri 4 days ago 3 replies      
Ok, SSH agent is fantastic, but why it is not used to log to websites? Is it so complicated to paste my public key to some textarea during account creation at any website? What is the reason that no site is using this?
omouse 3 days ago 0 replies      
If you're using SSH, you should check out Monkeysphere: http://web.monkeysphere.info/

It allows for the use of OpenGPG keys.

There's also a web component so your website can use it! However it only has a FIrefox/IceWeasel plugin for now. It's two parts; the server side validation stuff, and the browser plugin.

juanfatas 1 day ago 0 replies      
Hi there, I think password is working perfect. And we just need to figure out a way to remember all passwords into our brain in a unforgettable way.
Here is what I do:
Password for xxx:
First GF's birthday(yymmdd)+favorite city(2 letters, first letter CAP)+ high school student no.+last 3 letters of my all time favorite movie
this would result: 760925Lu201228can
And you can store the statement in your gmail. Only you will know the answer. Then you don't forget!
Also I have 3 level passwords.
High Medium Whatever
High: I will think of a password as I demonstrated above (at least 4 questions).
Medium: I will think of a password for just 2 questions.
Whatever: would be a stupid password but for accounts I don't care if it's hacked(stack overflow, github..etc)
Among all tools, maybe it's better to write your password and put in your pillow. and forget all the technical stuff.
pwman 3 days ago 0 replies      
I love how LastPass isn't the solution because ... "it's a computer program".

What kind of Luddite computer programmer is against using computer programs to solve their problems? Yet is fine with using SSH keys?

The argument of bloat is garbage -- you can utilize LastPass bookmarklets at the cost of exactly 1 bookmark in your browser. That adds a 1K bookmark and a very small amount of JavaScript to the page if and only if you utilize it.

Password certainly are painful, and our whole goal at LastPass is to make it easier. We'd be happy to help make other scenarios people are experiencing better, we've looked at handling ssh a number of times (putty in LastPass for Applications for example) -- anyone have a preference for how we tackle that next?

gospelwut 4 days ago 4 replies      
As I posted on Proggit.


Password length is by far the most important factor to brute force attacks. Which, I presume, is most people's concerns because if we're talking about weak hashes or plain-text storage, you're kind of fucked anyways. You can have your cake and eat it too.

Take, for example, some convoluted piece of shit password like `1Liek2Progr4m35423\!#@`. First off, most people won't remember that without using a password manager or copying it from your super-secret text file in your encrypted folder.

Sure, there will be a few people that chime in saying, "Hey, I can remember complicated, crazy passwords". Okay. Can you do it when the service forces you to rotate passwords, e.g. AD? Most users can't. Trust me. They can't.

So, what now?

Just make really long passwords. Instead of `fC29ap5w78r3IJ`, make it something you will remember. For example: `$omeb4s1ePr3fix I like to cheat on my wife with the secretary I hate her so much`. The entropy of the second password, due to its length, is much better than the former.

Now, if we're talking about services don't let you have an obscenely long password, that's... a service problem. While the implications are real, we're talking about "how to make really good passwords". I feel like this has been answered, but people are insistent on some arcane notion of using some complex string of characters -- as if the computer gives a fuck. Not everything is a straight dictionary attack, and the computer doesn't give a fuck if your password has words in it or not insofar as it's not just one or two words. It's not going to break a 42 character-long sentence that much faster because it has WORDS in it.

And, there's no way somebody should be able to be trying to guess your password that many times without getting locked out. Unless we're talking about somebody hacking into the server itself, dumping out the hashes, and trying to break it that way. Even in that worst-case scenario, assuming they have done their due diligence with salts/bcrypt/etc, a 42-character length password should take them somewhere in the vicinity of for fucking ever.

EDIT: The benefit comes from the prefix and the sentences. It pretty much deters both kinds of common algorithms even if you reuse the prefix.

16s 4 days ago 0 replies      
I've posted about SHA1_Pass here on HN before, but thought it relevant to this thread, so here it is again: http://16s.us/sha1_pass/

It's an open-source, portable password generator. No ads, no gimmicks, no password storage. The basic premise is "Don't store passwords, generate them locally on your computer when needed."

yariang 4 days ago 1 reply      
I was very pleasantly surprised by the security question system used by Ally Bank recently. They let you enter your own security question.

Why haven't they thought of this before!? I can come up with very good security questions that incorporate inside jokes with knowledge only I know and things I know I wouldn't share with anyone publicly.

These are things I will remember all my life and that nobody else will know (unlike say, my father's middle name).
Unfortunately, Ally asked me for answers to three pre-determined security questions right after.

But there is hope!

tete 3 days ago 0 replies      
WebID to rescue:

Technology that implemented in every browser right now (certificates) + compatibility with stuff like USB dongles, smart cards, that have also been available for some time now. Oh and no, you don't need a CA. Problem solved?


Only thing left is using it and making browsers more friendly towards that approach. This mainly involved getting rid of scary technical warnings.

Until then I will use password maker, which isn't a store but creates the correct password when needed:


zokier 4 days ago 1 reply      
It's a shame that browser-based authentication mechanisms such as HTTP Digest/Basic Auth and Client certificates are so broken and underdeveloped. HTML5 has everything and a kitchen sink, but neglects to address this major shortcoming.
CHsurfer 3 days ago 0 replies      
I started e-banking with UBS in Switzerland around 10 years ago (it's were I live) and they provided me with a card, and a little card reader with a key pad. To log in, I have to enter and 8 digit account code (not my account number though - something random but consistent). It then gives me a random code. I type my secret pin number into the card reader and enter the given code. It gives me back a response with number and letter characters (all capitol letters) that I enter into the web page to complete the log-in.

This seems quite secure as someone would have to have my card and pin number to access my account, which is the same level of security I have when I access my ATM machine. This was my first experience with e- banking. Imagine my disappointment when I tried to open other bank or trading accounts and found out they just used normal passwords.

Now, I only use e-banking with UBS, even though their fees ares somewhat higher - I consider the security well worth it. I guess the cost of the device and administration must be less than 35USD per year, which they easily make up for in fees. My question is, why aren't the other banks doing this as well. I would totally pay for it.

motters 4 days ago 0 replies      
Passwords are not ideal, but they seem to be the best compromise available. An alternative might be for everyone to carry around a USB dongle containing a private key, along with physical keys. There's always some tradeoff between security and convenience.
chmike 4 days ago 0 replies      
While the author has a point when users reuse their password for many accounts, he ignores the time required to test a password when using bruteforce attacks. The rant on banking passwords with strongly limiting constrains may be (is?) balanced by the time to test each password. The password could be reduced to a few numbers if it is assigned randomly by the bank and can't be changed by the user, and if something like a paying phone call is required to reset the password after three failed attemps. Make the password a serie of logos to click in a specific ordre and displayed randomly, and keyloggers become history.
matthiasb 4 days ago 2 replies      
Using passwords as single factor of authentication is complicated, inefficient, insecure; and for corporations, they are also expensive because of all the calls to the helpdesk they generate.

A solution for you is using an OTP (one-time password) as a 2nd factor of authentication. Since your authentication is a lot more secure with an OTP, you probably don't need to use such complex passwords anymore.

For example, you can enable the 2-factor authentication with OTP with Google and Bank Of America. With Google, you can either request an OTP by SMS when you are authenticating and/or provision the Google Authenticator mobile application which will generate OTPs for you. For Bank Of America, you can also get OTPs by SMS. They also provide an OTP card called the SafePass card (http://www.bankofamerica.com/privacy/cf/safepass_card_popup....) to generate the OTPs.

"Speaking of usernames, i've run into more than one bank that requires a digit in your username. A digit. In. Your. Username." --> It cost me so much trouble with my BOA online account! I found out I could actually change my username and it made things a lot easier!

aprescott 4 days ago 0 replies      
I completely and utterly loathe the security question-answer system. Has there been any study into how effective they are at improving security compared to, say, being forgotten and causing a complete annoyance? I've been unable to get access to fairly important accounts because I couldn't remember which answer I gave to a generic security question 4 years ago; I know full well that I gave a perfectly correct answer at the time, I just have no idea what it was.
ward 4 days ago 0 replies      
As to the bank issue, I think they "fixed" that in Belgium. Logging in is still an annoyance, but I atleast feel pretty safe with it.

To log in on the site, you need to do the following steps:

* Load site and type in card number (this is mostly a pain, but if needed you can make your browser remember the number)

* The site provides you with a "challenge code", in the case of my bank an 8 digit number

* You take a little machine provided by your bank, it looks basically like a calculator of sorts

* Slide your card in the machine

* Enter challenge code and your pin in the machine when asked for

* Machine returns a number which you then input on the site

* Click login

This challenge code is different every time, the only (big) downside is always needing the machine when doing online banking. However, I feel that's a small price to pay given that once logged in you can make transactions, something I wouldn't trust much if there was only a password with silly restrictions.

Also note, you have to repeat the challenge->machine->reply action when signing transaction you enter online.

NHQ 3 days ago 0 replies      
I like the idea of websites using public key encryption. Would the browsers have to implement it on the client side? Could a plugin handle that?
Spearchucker 4 days ago 0 replies      
This has been a problem for a long time - which is why companies like Microsoft and IBM have been spending time on technologies like CardSpace, ADFS, the identity meta system from Kim Cameron, IDEMIX and U-Prove, and other stuff that tries but fails like Microsoft Live (erstwhile Passport), OpenID, and OAuth.

The upshot is that the technology to move away from usernames and passwords exists. What we (the IT world) haven't been able to pull off is the ecosystem, to borrow an over-used cliche.

What we need are identity providers - some kind of body that can verify who we are. A good candidate is the passport office (FCO in the UK), the drivers license people (DVLA, in the UK) or the people who issue birth certificates.

Others, like banks, credit check agencies or supermarkets might also fulfill this role, but the scope for abuse and potential lack of accountability might make these bad choices.

Typically, the technology is not the problem. People are the problem.

andrewflnr 3 days ago 0 replies      
We've GOT to get public key cryptography in the hands of the masses. My current favorite strategy is to get them all using some distributed social network that uses PK and also integrates with everything, but I don't know how feasible it is.

Any other ideas?

brendoncrawford 3 days ago 0 replies      
For secure passwords, I strongly recommend the Password Hasher extension ( https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/password-hash... ), which allows you to use a different hash-based password for every site. It also allows different password lengths.
gitah 3 days ago 0 replies      
I'm not sure it's worth all the trouble to go out of the way and adopt a complicated password generation scheme. As long as your password isn't qwery, an attacker brute forcing it seems very unlikely for any competently implemented web app: most block you after n incorrect tries and sending HTTPS POST requests seem really slow. Dictionary attacks on the password hash is another problem, but salting the password should handle this problem.

I agree reusing passwords for multiple services is risky, but shouldn't having different tiers of passwords handle this? Use a really weak password for stuff you don't care about or sites you don't trust and then use a stronger password for your bank, email, etc.

luser001 3 days ago 1 reply      
I use the PwdHash extension. It works great. You type the same password into every box; it in encrypts it using the domain name of the current web page as the key.

Also I'm using SSL client certs for a recent project, and I LOOOVE them. I wonder what sorts of problems render them "unusable" for him.

chadillac 3 days ago 0 replies      
I remember reading an article about complex passwords vs what was basically called "offensive gibberish", I've actually taken a liking to this approach more recently than relying on a password manager. The whole goal is to make your password memorable while also making it long and complex enough to avoid cracking/brute forcing.

For gmail rather than "password3" one might use "give me my god damn email you stupid machine!" It's great because it's easy to remember, and complex enough to keep you relatively safe.

e.g. 2.0 : http://xkcd.com/936/

ghostwords 4 days ago 0 replies      
> ... password managers like LastPass ..., but let's think about this for a moment. I have the choice of either making my passwords so memorable and reused that i'm at a grave security risk, or of making them so secure that i need a computer program to store them for me. This is fucked up. This is fucking broken. This should not be allowed to go on.

Uh, how are SSH keys not using a computer program to store your secrets? Just use a password manager. You discovered the hard way why your special scheme doesn't work. Use a password manager (like KeePass). Use it with Dropbox, use it with a Flash drive.

diziet 3 days ago 0 replies      
When I am able to, I make my important passwords a very long phrase that I then memorize like a poem.


mukyu 4 days ago 1 reply      
Firesheep is about session hijacking, not watching actual logins (which would normally be over ssl even if it is non-https served/https form target).
rvavruch 4 days ago 1 reply      
I've been using PassPack for a few years. It allows you to generate random passwords with your choice of # of characters and type. My default setting is 14 chars of a-z, A-Z, 0-9 and punctuation. Then if the site complains I scale back, no punctuation, less chars, etc.

This does mean that 90% of the time I need to go to PassPack before I can login anywhere. Recently I've also wondered if a public key solution could work in a browser. That would be fantastic.

droithomme 3 days ago 0 replies      
I like this guy's article and it makes good points. But dropping the capitalization of the pronoun "I" half way through a formal article that one publishes for a general readership looks really bad.
cr4zy 3 days ago 0 replies      
I generate different, easy to remember passwords for every site by using a random looking base string and slapping in a few characters derived from the domain. For example you could take the first and last letter of 'ycombinator' and use 'ut' as your changing characters (the letters to the right of 'yr' on the keyboard.)
markkum 4 days ago 0 replies      
Passwords are painful for the users, and not good for service providers either; https://www.mepin.com/2011/09/26/7-problems-with-usernames-a...

Support OpenID!

denzil_correa 3 days ago 0 replies      
There's some nice little study going around on the very same topic. In fact, they seem to agree with you. Check out "FastWords".


dzhiurgis 3 days ago 0 replies      
Oh shit. Just yesterday I've ran into precisely same problem: I've tried to change all my passwords online into something like service_password_date. I decided to do this after googling my four favorite password md5 hashes (abc123, cba321, etc). It was there :)
So yea, only several services would allow to have password longer than 15 characters, and several even wouldn't allow to use anything else than numbers and letters. I was shocked. Skype won't even let you use their name in password, how's that fucked up...
anty 3 days ago 0 replies      
Reminds me that I have locked myself out from my Google account by using umlauts (specifically an "Ä").
Sami_Lehtinen 4 days ago 0 replies      
Here's one solution for true geeks. https://www.grc.com/offthegrid.htm
How Doctors Die zocalopublicsquare.org
621 points by thomasgerbe  4 days ago   176 comments top 34
fingerprinter 4 days ago 4 replies      
So, couple of things. Just had my wife read this (she is a doc) and we chatted about this.

We are in our mid-30s and several years ago she was admitted to the ER and then ICU for 7 days for an obviously life threatening situation. (She has a near blanket NO CODE, FYI). She recovered, but there was at least 48 hours where her odds were "much worse than a coin flip" as on of her colleagues told me.

So people distinguish the different situations, in that situation she and her colleagues (she was treated at her own hospital...given that it was the best hosp in the country) knew about her NO CODE and still treated her. The reason being that medical intervention was near 100% likely to produce a positive outcome and bring her back to a normal quality of life.

However, if given a terminal diagnosis such as in the story, my wife, without hesitation, said she would choose to go without treatment. She went further and wished that this type of article could make its way to the NYT or some other outlet to get normal folks to think about. She, like most doctors, has seen way too many people "try to live" only to saddle their family with huge expenses, not dramatically effect their prognosis and basically make the rest of their lives as painful as possible.

Obviously not a fun conversation to have with your SO, but I for sure know exactly what she wants and how to ask the right questions at the hospital just in case. She also knows what I would want and how to make the right decisions.

dcurtis 4 days ago  replies      
I was in Best Buy earlier today and the sales guy who was trying to sell me a TV reminded me a lot of the doctors/residents I was dealing with during a few weeks I spent caring for a family member at Mass General Hospital a couple years ago. I don't think they do it consciously, but doctors try to sell you on their philosophies for healthcare.

But it doesn't matter. You're sitting in a small room with dim lights and someone tells you that you have two choices:

1. You can die a certain death, within months, with very little pain, or

2. You can try some heroic measure like chemotherapy for a minuscule chance of a multi-year moderately happy, but extremely painful survival.

Humans are programmed to have hope, and, regardless of any logic, the vast majority will choose option 2. It's just like playing the lottery. Even now, as I think about those two options in good health, I am compelled by my nature to choose option 2.

defdac 4 days ago  replies      
Tonight I will tell the mother of our child that if I reason in any way that resembles this article she should slap me in face and tell me to fight for my life. For my daughter and my own sake.

In Sweden medical care is free. I can fight as long as I want without them getting in trouble. I also suspect I should fight so hard as if the illnes is truly terminal I will end sooner in flames, not later.

I want all the tubing. I want the cracked ribs and surgeons transform me to a piece of blubber and then anlyze the hell out of it so anyone else don't have to go through the same thing.

Telling people to give up because of money or some sort of gentleness to yourself or your family is alien to me. Maybe it's our harsh climate uphere. Swedes seems very in tune with our suffering.

rbanffy 4 days ago 4 replies      
I was married to a doctor for 10 years. Before that, I lived with my aunt, also a doctor.

The one thing that absolutely shocked me is how they thought about aging and death. I kept reminding them their goal should be to find cures for everything, no matter how hard it seems. I approach every engineering problem as solvable. Maybe I can't solve it right now with the tools I have. Maybe I can't figure out a way to solve it and will have to leave it for the next generations. To absolve yourself because something is inevitable is a coward solution.

So, no, thank you. If that's what it takes to survive, I want to be cut open, sliced, probed, and, when everything else fails and I finally die, I want doctors to learn something from my death. I want them not to give up and, if they can't treat some condition, go out and invent a way to do it. You don't give up solving a problem just because it's hard.

It's their job and it's reasonable for us to expect them to do it.

OoTheNigerian 4 days ago 0 replies      
People should differentiate between terminal illnesses and acute illnesses like heart attacks. For the later, I am sure the OP has no problems with treatment.

The leader of the breakaway Republic of Biafra died this week. He was less than a vegetable for 8months until his death.
Here was a man who was larger than life reduced to helplessness. At the age of 78, I am wondering why he was tortured for these 8 months so he would be 'alive'.

I am certain if he had the choice, he would have preferred to go with dignity. Unfortunately, people never want to prepare for such things. When it happens, their end is determined by others.

My President Yaradua, also had the most undignified of ends possible. In theory Ariel Sharon is still alive. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ariel_Sharon

I want my end to be dignified. If God forbid, I have a terminal illness, it will not be a hard decision to make. Quality NOT Quantity.

jonah 4 days ago 0 replies      
Both of my grandfathers died in the past five months.

The one who lives halfway across the country was 97. He woke up at his lake cabin the morning before he died complaining of chest pain and shrugged it off but was soon being transported unconscious to the hospital accompanied by his paramedic neighbor. He slipped into a coma and the next day with several of his children at his side, was removed from the ventilator.

My other grandfather, who lives in the same town I do, was 93 and had struggled for the past several years with a progressively debilitating illness which increasingly kept him from being able to do the things he wanted to do. A couple weeks before his death his health took a turn for the worse and he quickly began losing connection with the world. He did go to the hospital and tests were done and drugs given, but we soon understood that he wouldn't recover and we brought him home. The hospice nurses and caregivers were wonderful. All his children came as did many old friends. He died in his sleep in his bedroom with his wife and children there.

Both had advanced directives requesting minimal effort to prolong their lives. My grandfather here wanted no heroic efforts and "no machines". Even so, a lot of intense discussion among his children was involved in coming to peace and/or acceptance of what exactly that meant, what the moral and ethical implications of different interpretations were, and how best to carry out his wishes.

This is what I'm now doing and what I strongly encourage you to do now:

* Create an advanced health care directive for yourself. You can get forms and examples online.

* Consider the various situations one might end up in and lay out as explicitly as you can what you'd like to be done or not done to you. The more specific you are, the more likely your intentions will be followed and the less your family/loved ones may have to struggle with the interpretation.

* Talk to your your family and loved ones about your desires. It's a hard and awkward discussion to have but do it. Be clear and frank.

Takeaway: Have an advanced directive. Be as clear, specific, and explicit as you can about your desires. Share your desires with your family, loved ones, and care providers. It is helpful not only you but form them as well.

Cass 4 days ago 2 replies      
To everyone considering a "NO CODE" tattoo after reading this story: Don't. If you're really that serious about not wanting to be resuscitated under any circumstances, wear some kind of bracelet or necklace with those words on it, and, just as importantly, a recent date, and contact info for a person who knows your exact wishes. Make sure to update the date regularly.

Medicine changes, and so do your life circumstances. If you're presenting an EMT with a ten-year-old, faded tattoo, you're placing them in an awkward position due to the lack of context. Is this a decision you made ten years ago and got stuck with, or are these your current wishes? They might end up disregarding your wishes just to be safe. A bracelet with a recent date will be much less ambiguous.

And remember, with all medical decisions, you want the ability to change your mind when medical advances are made or your circumstances change. Tattoo removal sucks.

derleth 4 days ago 2 replies      
pingswept 4 days ago 0 replies      
"It's easy to find fault with both doctors and patients in such stories, but in many ways all the parties are simply victims of a larger system that encourages excessive treatment."

I strongly disagree with this part. Before patients become patients, the vast majority of us have no interaction with the health care industry and certainly no significant capability to influence it. Doctors, on the other hand, spend their adult lives working as professionals in the industry. To say that they, as a group, are anything but complicit is wrong.

Consider the "Fuck passwords" article[1] that's on the HN front page now. As a programmer who has dealt with passwords, the sad state of authentication is, in part, my fault. I could make the same excuse, "Well, the users don't want long passwords, and Facebook and G+ are part of the problem, and blah blah. I'm a victim of a larger system" That would be lame.

Like the doctors, I'm one of the professionals in the field, so it's my responsibility.

[1]: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=3313790

tptacek 3 days ago 2 replies      
The CPR example that's used throughout the article is a bit weird, isn't it? Isn't CPR performed when someone has no heartbeat? What does it matter if you crack their ribs? It's only painful if the person survives.

I'm not debating whether people should attempt to prolong their lives with aggressive chemo, just picking a nit.

RobbieStats 4 days ago 1 reply      
I'm conflicted about this. On the one hand I don't want to be hooked up to a ventilator or go through extreme suffering to prolong life. On the other hand, my grandmother (who recently passed away) went through late stage breast cancer in her mid-50s, lung cancer in her 60s, had a severe heart attack in her 70s and died in her 80s. It was so bad one time the doctors told us she would die in a matter of days. After she recuperated, she lived another 8 years. She was a tough bird.

How many times have we all heard: "The doctors gave him 6 months to live and that was 5 years ago". So if I knew I could go through 3-6 months of severe pain and get another 5-10 years of high quality life with my family, I'd probably do it. The problem is you may go through 3-6 months of severe pain and then die in month 7.

Right now being in my mid-30s and with a young daughter I enjoy, I'd take on the fight. If I was in my 80s, probably not.

buyx 4 days ago 3 replies      
Just this weekend I met a relative on the street (mid fifties), doing some shopping. A few months ago, he had some chest pain, his wife thought it was a heart attack and drove him to the ER. As he was being admitted, he went into cardiac arrest, he was resuscitated, and now his four teenagers have their father back, for a few more years at least (he is back at work, and seems to be living a full and healthy life). What's interesting about this, in relation to the OP, is that his wife is a doctor, and she was the one who resuscitated him.

Yes, it's just an anecdote, but a useful one to balance against those in the OP. Obviously the situation differs if you have a terminal illness, or other serious health issues, but I think a blanket NO CODE rule is a little extreme.

ck2 4 days ago 0 replies      
Sometimes knowing too much can be bad for choice making.

As a coder, I worry every time I drive that the computer could accidentally fire the airbags because of a bug in a poorly coded sensor (this happens far less frequently now but when airbags were first introduced people were killed/injured periodically http://news.google.com/search?q=airbag+recall+deaths ).

Not the best example but things like this do affect choicemaking and corner-cutting. It's like the fable of the plumber's plumbing, never being in good shape despite his expertise.

Hence doctors probably don't always make the best decisions about their own healthcare because they are either over-reacting, or under-reacting.

js2 4 days ago 0 replies      
Two related stories I thought of while reading this:

1. A Pacemaker Wrecks a Family's Life - http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/20/magazine/20pacemaker-t.htm...

2. A Tale of Two Hearts - http://thestory.org/archive/the_story_111811_full_show.mp3/v...

The second is an audio program.

latch 4 days ago 3 replies      
This is obviously a very personal topic, but I can't help but ask whether medecine benefits from people undergoing "futile care"? Are some diseases only treatable today because 20 years ago someone went through all the crap?

The whole thing reminds me of the average mid-90s movie Phenomenon. I could always understand Travolta's character's reasoning, but I still thought it was selfish.

jballanc 3 days ago 0 replies      
For everyone contemplating the prospect of hospice care vs "fight to the very end", this study might be of interest [PDF]: http://www.nhpco.org/files/public/jpsm/march-2007-article.pd...

The salient point:

> For the six patient populations
combined, the mean survival was 29 days longer for hospice patients than for nonhospice

VMG 4 days ago 1 reply      
One alternative that hasn't been mentioned here is cryopreservation. Once I have the resources and the technology has progressed, I'd certainly choose that option above being treated and "NO CODE".
Gatsky 4 days ago 1 reply      
What's the message here? That people shouldn't have chemotherapy? That we shouldn't do resuscitation? That all advanced cancers should just receive palliative care?

This seems to be a rant ie. the author has a strongly held notion that he has disguised as an argument devoid of any nuance. The support for his argument is that doctors secretly run a mile away from hospital whenever they get sick. This is not true and a gross generalisation.

Cause guess what, not everyone has a loving family or a house in the hills or a cousin with a big screen TV to go to when they are dying from a terminal illness. Some people want to try and fight their disease, and they are tenacious and brave and admirable and that's dignifying to them and to those that try and help them.

This article is an attempted justification from someone who has lost faith in what they do, nothing more.

boneheadmed 3 days ago 0 replies      
I'm a medical doctor and I'll never forget what one of our respected (and elderly) liver specialists said when asked what he would do regarding a patient with a liver cancer with a particularly poor prognosis. During a roundtable discussion, various younger doctors came up with lengthy suggestions and lots of different chemotherapy regimens, tests, etc. When it was this doctor's turn to speak, he said: "Well, if I were to put myself in that man's shoes, I would go to the store, buy a case of fine liquor and drink myself happy for the next few weeks until I'm gone."

He had seen enough "therapies" to know enough when to forgo them.

cturner 4 days ago 0 replies      
I spent a lot of time hanging around nursing homes when I was growing up, and decided a long time ago that I'd like to do fast and well before I get to that stage. The NO CODE tatoo is a great idea.
kghose 4 days ago 0 replies      
Some people on this thread have harped on cost (and used it as a way to insert their own agenda about the economics of healthcare) but from my reading of the article it is really about being free to make an informed and personal choice about what the cost/benefit of treatment in terms of life quality vs life quantity is to you.

It is true the writer writes from the point of view of his own choice, but on a topic such as this, that is really the only way to do it authoritatively.

The point of the article, I thought, was to make us think - what would I do when/if the time comes?

thisisnotmyname 4 days ago 0 replies      
It would be nice if the author provided a citation or two to back up the sweeping statements he or she is making.
mmmmax 4 days ago 0 replies      
Cached version: http://max.mu/uvwxRf
maurits 3 days ago 0 replies      
Very interesting story, but I do wonder if its assertions universally hold.

This looks like an excellent research question for the guys at freakonomics (http://www.freakonomics.com/blog/) to me.

pedoh 3 days ago 1 reply      
What are the best ways to make our preferences to our loved ones clear? Is it sufficient enough to have a living will, for example? Are there documents out there that I should be carrying in my wallet, and do paramedics seek these documents out in an emergency?
martin1b 3 days ago 0 replies      
While this article is interesting, it should make clear that basic necessities for life MUST be maintained. Everybody needs food and water to live by ordinary means, all medical technology aside. However, life support is not required and is considered extraordinary.

Quality of life is something to achieve with the inclusion that these basic needs are met. If not, the quality of life is a personal opinion and can be interpreted in any way, from conservative, to ridiculous.

conorh 4 days ago 0 replies      
My wife is a surgeon and sees these situations constantly, a patient whose family has asked that everything be done for them. They spent months in the ICU hooked up to machines, incredibly uncomfortable and often, if they are aware, extremely depressed. And then they die. This is traumatic for everyone involved.

She (and I) would never go through this by choice. I can't stress that enough. This is not about money, this is about leaving life in the best possible way, on your own terms, with your family and as comfortable as possible.

gbak 3 days ago 0 replies      
For some reason the site is down and the cache link on google takes a while to load. For everyone that wants to read it I created a public Google Docs file with the article. You can access it here:


pauncejones 3 days ago 0 replies      
Hospice nurses helped both of my parents die as quickly and peacefully as possible. My father had congestive heart failure - a slow death over months, and my mother had dementia, and eventually started losing the ability to control her basic functions like breathing and swallowing.

If it weren't for the kind advice of my mother's doctor, who instructed all of her caregivers NOT to allow her to be taken to the hospital or be picked up by an ambulance, she might have ended up in a vegetative state in a hospital as well. He explained how it's a hospital's duty to do everything in their power to resuscitate someone, regardless of whether it's really humane or not.

It was awful watching them both die, but sitting with your family while you're given liquid morphine is much better than going through a frightening, painful, lonely death in a hospital.

dennisgorelik 4 days ago 0 replies      
Original URL does not work at this moment.


AznHisoka 3 days ago 0 replies      
can someone please post this entire article or a cached version?? been trying to read what the commotion/drama is all about for the past 6 hours and I'm dying here...
biesnecker 4 days ago 1 reply      
Never been a big tattoo fan, but after reading that, I might consider a big "NO CODE" tat on my chest.
iguanayou 3 days ago 1 reply      
Is it possible that "get medical treatment" or "go in peace" is a false dichotomy?
msimonovic 4 days ago 1 reply      
Feds Mistakenly Shut Down Popular Blog For Over A Year techdirt.com
509 points by taylorbuley  23 hours ago   111 comments top 18
rkudeshi 20 hours ago 3 replies      
If you're not familiar with hip-hop music blogs like the one cited in the article, please visit http://nahright.com or http://missinfo.tv to get a better idea of what they look like (since dajaz1.com doesn't seem to be back up yet, understandably).

Almost every track posted to sites like these are released by the artists themselves (or by their labels). Many hip-hop blogs (including the two I linked) will not post songs if they weren't legitimately authorized by the artists (e.g. if a track was stolen and leaked on the web).

Something you won't ever see are full albums. These sites aren't designed to replace album sales, they actually encourage them. They will only link to individual songs or freely released mixtapes.

(Also, you'll note that a lot of the music posted is from unsigned artists. A lot of newer rappers actually rose to prominence after having their music posted on these sites.)

There are many, many sites that willingly infringe on copyright and the government has good reason for shutting down. This was not one of them.

PS. For more information on how music gets released to these blogs, read this excellent piece, also by Techdirt:


wisty 19 hours ago 2 replies      
Weird, the way the government said they had a secret court extension, but couldn't even give a redacted copy. It almost sounds like they didn't have a court extension, and were lying that they did, and eventually had to hand the domain back out of sheer embarrassment.
unreal37 17 hours ago 3 replies      
Serious question. This article seems to be about censorship and the First Amendment. The opening paragraph equates this to a magazine being shut down and the printing presses seized. But I don't think this hip-hop blog was saying something the government wanted to stop. I don't get why the prevalent "bad thing" the government did is being called censorship.

Isn't the real story the government put a company out of business for no reason? They took a "top 10" website in a category and shut it down for a year, allowing their competitors an unfair advantage. No due process, no communication, not even a case number. They picked a random company and put it out of business.

I guess that's not protected by the constitution.

zmmmmm 17 hours ago 3 replies      
It always amazes me how quickly abuses of power seem to occur once such power is enabled. I always expect that at first the recipients of the power will be very cautious, bound by the social norms and expectations set by the previous situation, and it will take many years or even decades for the abuses we complain about to actually happen. However it doesn't seem to work like that. Abuses seem to happen almost immediately the minute it is possible for them to occur.

It's almost comforting in a way - at least truly terrible laws don't just slip in unnoticed and get established without us noticing. Their bad effects get manifested almost straight away.

aero142 19 hours ago 1 reply      
What I don't understand is why a meeting with the government lawyer was the final action and why what they say matters? What prevents the blog owner from filing a suit to get the property returned? The government failed to provide proof that they were legally in possession of the property. File a suit to get the property back and then they have to produce the legal order allowing them to keep it. I know money might be a major factor in this but the article's author acts like there was nothing else that could have been done.
Nelson69 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Is there a complete lack of quotes on the record in that article? I see the lawyer's name for dajaz1.com but no quotes from him, no owner is named, no quotes from him... Just sayin'.

Everything is not right here. This is pretty basic stuff though, an accused man deserves to face his accusers, who is accused? The whole story is just better when there is an actual victim of the government tyranny. I expect it has something to do with payola but .... the feds will never defend themselves and who knows how much traffic this site is going to get now.

davidu 16 hours ago 0 replies      
This is outrageous. If you aren't doing something about it, you are tacitly approving of it.

You could, quite literally, have your domain taken away tomorrow.

brc 17 hours ago 2 replies      
It's obvious to me that as time goes by, governments are going to want to shut down more and more internet services for whatever reason.

It seems to me that the thing that is needed most is an even-more distributed internet system, so that things like DNS and ISPs cannot be controlled by governments.

A peer-to-peer DNS system and someway of easily setting yourself up as an ISP would mean that this type of intervention would be impossible.

nidennet 2 hours ago 0 replies      
I am really shocked and disturbed by this article. From reading it I believe that this is a total violation of the trust towards the Government and the whole legal system.

The lack of due process is what is most disturbing. Someone (the Government in this case) can accuse one of a crime, but they have to prove it. Hijacking a domain and not producing evidence on why it was hijacked and not following the proper procedure which is outlined by the law and finally hiding behind the Government blanket of 'no' is simply wrong and must not be allowed to happen again.

To me this read as abuse of power by certain employees of the Government. Not allowing due process is illegal and I hope that Dajaz1's lawyers will get to the bottom of this.

eykanal 20 hours ago 3 replies      
The techdirt article repeatedly makes reference to seizure laws as they apply to confiscated PROPERTY. Is there legal precedence for the blog to immediately assume that such laws apply to digital domains, where nothing physical was confiscated?
dshanahan 11 hours ago 1 reply      
This happened in a different way to me. They didn't take my domain; they threatened my ISP and they deleted everything on my domain, include six other sites that lived there - the music blog was a subdomain.

The thing I couldn't believe was that I'd never posted a track I hadn't gotten approved by the artist; I'd estimate 70% was sent to me by promoters, artists, or the label themselves. If it wasn't, it was likely found on another blog and I only let readers download content that was available for free from the artist themselves.

Totally ridiculous. Trying to get a response for their grounds was impossible, and I eventually had to switch ISPs and rebuild all my sites.

loopdoend 15 hours ago 0 replies      
Mistakenly implies that it wasn't a direct result of policy and an inherently malicious protocol of operations. This, in my opinion, was not a mistake, but rather the result of systemic incompetence and technical illiteracy on the part of the US government. The ladder climbers that pulled this off are headed straight to a nice private job just as soon as they get done making a name for themselves.
neilparikh 7 hours ago 0 replies      
The right to innocence until proven given guilty is quite fundamental to our legal system, and laws like SOPA and Protect IP go against that very ideal. Right now these laws that take away these fundamental freedoms are only in the copyright domain, but if these laws stand, I'm assuming they could be used as a precedent and used to justify other laws that take away the presumption of innocence. I'm not a lawyer, but this is what these laws seem to be heading towards.
crististm 4 hours ago 0 replies      
I'd like to see a peer-2-peer DNS system take over. Now go and shut this down.
speleding 19 hours ago 1 reply      
IANAL, but this sounds like they didn't have a very good lawyer.
click170 11 hours ago 0 replies      
And people wonder why we have no faith in The System..
ck2 18 hours ago 1 reply      
And remember, there is a document advising you might be a terrorist if you have more than seven days of food onhand.

Oh that guideline would never be abused, would it?

lhnn 20 hours ago  replies      
Someday, perhaps populists and socialists will realize that the very structure of American government combined with our culture leads to complete incompetence in government. We are better off with every power we take away from them.
Mythbusters experiment goes awry, sends cannonball through two houses cbslocal.com
490 points by viggity  2 days ago   298 comments top 41
garyrichardson 2 days ago  replies      
Wow, watching that news clip reminds me about why I never watch the news. So much bias and unneeded anger. There's no explanation as to why the canon ball missed. There's also no mention of the fact that:

a) the had firing experts on hand
b) the fire/police departments were notified ahead of time and probably had someone on site. They also probably had veto power and input on how it was staged.

(* I don't know this for a fact. I'm basing this on every other Mythbusters episode I've ever seen)

My favorite line: "his elderly mother thought the sky was falling." Makes her sound like a simple nutcase. The son then says, "Yeah, she thought it might be a tree falling on the house or a meteorite."

A few months ago my brother and some friends went on an epic multiday hike. The previous year, someone attempted it and was never seen again.

They were all experienced and were very prepared. In the end they found themselves in a situation where they had to have search and rescue pull them out -- going forward or back wasn't an option. They had a locator beacon (part of being prepared) and decided to pull it. The other option was to head back, miss their return date and have S&R come looking for them anyway.

The local news portrayed them as inexperienced idiots who were totally unprepared. They misinterpreted or manipulated quotes. They didn't actually understand anything -- just regurgitated facts with their uneducated and biased tones and extrapolations.

In conclusion, TV news should be ended in all forms. Reporters aren't experts in the subject matter they report. Even though they should be trained to know better, modern news programs make no effort to disguise their bias.

DanielStraight 1 day ago 4 replies      
A general reply to everyone saying this was unacceptable or that insufficient precautions were taken:

This experiment was performed at a facility designed for such experiments under the supervision of people who are trained to handle such experiments.

The result, while upsetting, was a freak accident. It could not realistically have been predicted. It is not necessarily anyone's fault, even if human error played a role.

Life is risky.

Sometimes surgeons slip and kill patients. Sometimes food producers slip and ship contaminated products which kill people. Sometimes parents turn around for 1 second and their kids drown.

All of these are caused by human error, but there has to be a point where you can say that reasonable precaution was taken so no blame is warranted. Because the alternative, only doing things that are 100% certain to be safe, means never doing anything at all.

There is no way to guarantee 100% safety. The building you are sitting in has been checked for safety. But something could have been missed, leading it to spontaneously collapse.

And here is the most important point of this entire post:

This will be true regardless how thoroughly you check the building.

ryandvm 2 days ago 1 reply      
I don't believe it. If only there was a group of people that could test the plausibility of this story...
noblethrasher 2 days ago 4 replies      
"Instead the cannonball flew over the foothills surrounding Camp Parks Military Firing Reservation, before spiraling back toward Dublin like a cruise missile."

Wouldn't it be more like a ballistic missile?

akavlie 1 day ago 1 reply      
The physics at play here (at least as reported in the article) are hard to fathom.

It went through the front door, bounced around the home, UP to the second floor, THROUGH the back wall...

And enough energy still remained to send it across a road 50 yards, UP again to a roof, and finally smashing through a van window.

I wish they could have captured this with high-speed cameras from multiple angles, like they do with experiments that go as planned.

dholowiski 2 days ago 11 replies      
Has anybody noticed that mythubsters experiments seem to be getting more daring and un-necessarily dangerous? For me it started with the 'curving bullet' myth, that just didn't seem to have the necessary safety controls. Since then I've seen many myths that could have easily ended in disaster, had one simple thing gone wrong.

There's a lot to be said for teaching experimentation and the scientific method, but I'm worried they're teaching a whole generation of kids that science is inherently dangerous.

xd 2 days ago 0 replies      
Reminds me of the convertible car mishap: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oy872Fb1ad8
TamDenholm 2 days ago  replies      
One mishap in eight years* is a very good record, the Mythbusters put a LOT of time and energy into safety and it was clearly an accident, they obviously weren't being reckless.

I dont have any firm numbers but i'm pretty sure that more space debris and meteorites fall from space every year than mishaps from Mythbusters.

* I've no idea if there have been any more serious accidents, but this seems to have been the first since the news story didnt mention precedent.

viggity 2 days ago 2 replies      
Watch the video, it is surreal. Now the show is probably going to suck because their insurance won't let them do anything remotely interesting with explosives.
tlrobinson 1 day ago 0 replies      
I'm looking forward to the Mythbusters episode where they bust/confirm the myth about a cannonball flying through two homes and a minivan.
surlyadopter 1 day ago 0 replies      
Just yesterday Kari (one of the Mythbusters) posted pictures on twitter of her standing next to the cannon. They appear to have been removed now though.

This isn't the first time one of their tests has accidentally damaged property, there was an explosion a year ago in a lake bed that was stronger than expected that ended up blowing windows in a nearby town.

darklajid 2 days ago 5 replies      
Hmm.. Would have liked to see more details about the accident itself. The cannonball was cast iron? Any estimation about speed and weight?

Actually the biggest surprise were the walls of the house shown (mostly the exterior wall): Is this a brick and mortar house/wall? Or is this wood/insulation mostly?

Edit: In fullscreen that looks to be a wall made of concrete, with a network of iron/steel to support it? Even if it's a ~thin~ wall by some standards, this is a lot stronger than I initially guessed.

knightgj 1 day ago 0 replies      
Here in UT they use a couple 1960s-era Howitzers for avalanche control in Little Cottonwood Canyon. They once loaded a shell with too much gunpowder and left a crater in someone's back yard 10-15 miles away.
signa11 2 days ago 2 replies      
i hope that they don't get judged too harshly for this unfortunate incident. it is a nice and fun program to watch, and would be a real shame if it got canned...
grannyg00se 1 day ago 0 replies      
Those involved must've felt horrible when they realized that the projectile was going to miss the hillside and go into residential territory. So glad nobody got hurt.
fecklessyouth 1 day ago 0 replies      
Honestly, HN? I clicked "comments" expecting to see a bunch of insight and analysis on the physics involved, and instead it's just a bunch of rage against local news stations because the station committed the unforgivable sin of making the beloved Mythbusters look bad.
latch 2 days ago 0 replies      
Local news coverage with good details of the damage:


ward 2 days ago 5 replies      
I could be wrong on this, but aren't a lot of houses in America made from softer material than stone bricks? Something like gyproc comes to mind.

I have to admit, the only reason I think this is because of seeing an episode of that awful house makeover show[1]. I believe the walls they used there were all wood/something similar.

1: Extreme makeover, house edition

mjgm 1 day ago 0 replies      
No one got hurt, and I'm sure they were careful. It's something they are always very clear about on the show... but eh someone/people genuinely could have been killed... so not quite all precautions were taken.

Also how amazing is it that the canonball burst through a front door and then went UP the stairs and out the back through the wall on the second floor?! Seriously. I didn't know canon balls would bounce/ react in that way... Kinda reminds me why I love Mythbusters...

ajays 2 days ago 1 reply      
As I was reading that story, the sequence at the beginning of each episode was flashing through my mind, in Adam's voice: "do not try this at home. We are, what you call, professionals"...

// yeah, I know, mistakes happen.

D_Drake 1 day ago 0 replies      
I'm disappointed. Hyneman especially should have recognized the danger of combining energy levels like those with the elastic properties of a cast iron ball. If the firing range was within five miles of inhabited area, stone canonballs should be used. They've obeyed this rule in the past.
jasonkolb 1 day ago 1 reply      
Wow, what a great story! Although, I kind of doubt they'll be able to continue using that air base.

I hope they team up with Survivorman to do some really wild stuff in remote wildernesses. The thought of a Survivorman/Mythbusters series makes me giddy.

bluesmoon 1 day ago 1 reply      
The story page is now a 404, looks like they pulled it
frankus 1 day ago 0 replies      
Love how the page reloads halfway through the video (no doubt in a lame attempt to get more ad impressions), and how I then get to sit through another 30 second ad before watching a two -minute news clip.
Splines 2 days ago 0 replies      
I really hope they share what went wrong. When they deal with explosives they usually (always?) have an expert on hand to ensure things are done right, so it'll be interesting to see a post-mortem.
daemin 1 day ago 0 replies      
It certainly goes to show how lethal these weapons were, through two houses, bounced a few times, and even into a mini van. They would have been monstorously lethal on the battlefield, just imagine ranks of soldiers rather than a house.
christo16 1 day ago 0 replies      
Here is an official statement from the city http://www.dublin.ca.gov/civicalerts.aspx?AID=351
mkramlich 1 day ago 0 replies      
Mental note: don't live near firing range.
dnaquin 1 day ago 0 replies      
sounds like at least one of these was broken.

"ALWAYS keep the gun pointed in a safe direction.

ALWAYS keep your finger off the trigger until ready to shoot.

ALWAYS keep the gun unloaded until ready to use."

Gustomaximus 1 day ago 0 replies      
What I want to know;
- Will they air this, please do.
- Can Jasper (the minivan owner) keep the cannon ball.
ektimo 1 day ago 0 replies      
"Incredibly, no one was injured in the mishap."

It's not incredible. Most space isn't filled with people.

orenmazor 1 day ago 0 replies      
unfortunate, but I bet they have a lot of data now!
panzagl 1 day ago 0 replies      
The real question is why were the houses built so close to the firing range, not why was this experiment done in a residential area. I'd be willing to bet money that the base was there first.
b2spirit 1 day ago 0 replies      
Did the canonball also go through cbslocal's server room? That page cannot be found.
forcefsck 1 day ago 0 replies      
When you're playing with guns, eventually an accident will happen, no matter how careful you are.
foxhop 1 day ago 0 replies      
The hosts don't "creatively try to prove things true or false". They use science.
christo16 1 day ago 0 replies      
This is crazy, happened only a couple miles away from my house...
snorkel 1 day ago 0 replies      
So Confirmed, Plausible, or Busted?
bborud 1 day ago 0 replies      
I hope Jamie's walrus moustache is okay.
reader5000 2 days ago 4 replies      
Wow, lawsuit city. Hell, possibly criminal charges. This may spell the end of the show.
ck2 2 days ago 0 replies      
While I guess explosions sell to a certain crowd, I am more fond of the useful things they do like prove MPG increases with just 5psi more to the tires and how to get out of a car that has been submerged. Guess that isn't "sexy" enough for some.

I'm curious if the day they do finally kill or seriously injure someone if the show will be retired.

Not wishing for it, just wondering if that's the right thing to do.

The Unintended Effects of Driverless Cars google.com
403 points by mbrubeck  1 day ago   325 comments top 70
orijing 1 day ago  replies      
Guys, some of you who are criticizing the precise "assumptions" are missing the point! He's not saying that utilization will go up to 96% precisely, or that there will be 20x fewer cars. He is challenging us to imagine the possibilities ourselves, seeding it with some immediate (potential) implications. On first sight his assumptions seem reasonable, and it's up to us individually to determine what the ramifications are.

Indeed the potential is enormous for freeing up a lot of human time/etc. We will need less parking certainly, cars will be running newer models (since they're used more, they'll likely last less time) with better technologies, and potentially there will be more efficient routing algorithms to save energy, time, etc.

I like how HN is often first to criticize, but sometimes you're just missing the point. The point is to imagine for yourself the possibilities. For me, it's enormous.

ccc3 1 day ago  replies      
A couple of comments:

And if cars are receiving 20 times more actual use, that would imply that there would be 20 times less cars sold

Actually, no it wouldn't. If cars are getting 20 times more use they will wear out much more quickly than they do now. That means cars will have to be replaced much more frequently. There would be fewer cars sold than there are now, but it wouldn't be 20x fewer.

The operating percent of a car will go from 4% to that 96%

This seems wildly optimistic to me. The driverless cars may be capable of driving around 96% of the time, but that doesn't mean they can be carrying people 96% of the time. No matter how efficient the system, if there are enough cars to handle peak traffic during the day, then a lot of those cars will be sitting around doing nothing at night.

moultano 1 day ago 2 replies      

As the efficiency with which a resource is used increases, the tendency is to use more of it rather than less.

Concretely, if I don't have to drive the car myself, I wouldn't hesitate to drive anywhere. I'd go to the city every day if I could read on the way, and sleep on the way home.

modeless 1 day ago  replies      
There's another unintended effect I haven't seen talked about anywhere: when cars no longer require human drivers, the cost of driving in human terms (time, frustration, danger) will be drastically reduced, but the energy cost will only be reduced by a small amount. The logical consequence of this is that cars will be doing a lot more driving and as a society we will spend a lot more energy on transportation overall.
nl 1 day ago 5 replies      
I'm not sure if anyone else has realized it yet, but driverless cars will have to be taxed on a time-on-road basis, rather than at a flat rate.

The reason? The economics of electric cars and parking.

Initially it seems that they will fix the parking problem - driverless cars can be sent to park outside the CBD, reducing traffic and freeing up space.

But the problem is that people/software will optimize for price, and for electric cars the cheapest scenario is for them to be stuck in a traffic jam on a public road.

Instead of going to a parking bay, the software will route them to the nearest traffic jam, where the car can sit with the electric motors off for a large amount of time. Inevitably, some software will misjudge how long their charge will last, their batteries will run flat and the traffic jam will get worse.

As far as I can see the only way around this is to increase the cost of being on the road.

zohebv 1 day ago 1 reply      
Interesting post. However, I think the primary consequence of driverless cars could be more mundane - everyone will end up using cabs/taxis far more often. This is the life I lived in Bombay a decade ago. The parking, cost overhead of a car is so high and rickshaws/cabs are so cheaply and plentifully available, that walking out of your home and hailing a cab to go wherever you want is the best option.

Cabs in the West are expensive because drivers need to be paid more and cartels are at work. If both these costs are eliminated then what works in a country like India is, suddenly, the best option for commuters in the West. Realtime pooling of cab passengers is a possibility, a traveler could be offered a choice of picking a co-traveler for a reduction in fare(or even cash back!) when already travelling in the car.

Families could still own cars, but they will probably pay for insurance on a per-mile basis, rather than a per-month basis, so that the incremental cost of owning a car is minimal. Effectively, you end up owning a cab that only you use and pay cab fare to the insurance company :-) The ratio of cabs to private cars would then be an interplay of insurance costs/parking costs and ride sharing benefits, with cities leaning towards cabs to escape parking costs. So, things wouldn't be too different :-)

One unfortunate consequence could be the increase in suburban sprawl and traffic congestion with driverless cars as people start caring lesser about longer commute times. Automated cars will probably be better behaved in traffic, but the road capacity will be pushed to its limits.

9999 1 day ago 2 replies      
Unfortunately there are a few assumptions being made here that don't really jive with car usage in practice. 96% usage? People's schedules aren't that flexible, my spouse and I commute at the same time to different places, and a large chunk of the people in my apartment do as well. This is known as rush hour.
eftpotrm 1 day ago 3 replies      
What this seems to ignore for me is the car-as-status / car-as-identity case. Speaking personally when I had to trade from a rather nice executive saloon to an MPV / minivan, much as I knew it was sensible I hated it because of the self-image connotations. Which is possibly why I've now got a 350Z ;-)

Why does anyone buy a BMW or a Mercedes when a Ford is substantially cheaper for the same space and performance? Image. That's a sector which is always going to buy their own cars rather than leasing one from a pool, because even a shared 'prestige' car (a rather meaningless tag given current BMW sales figures, but I digress...) starts rapidly losing its lustre.

Which then may well mean that we gain a new social stratification - prestige car, own car, driverless pool car. Which could well see older used cars and taxis dropping out of the market, but I doubt it'd have an effect on the general car market on quite the same scale that the writer envisages.

Natsu 1 day ago 0 replies      
Driverless cars are a great idea and I really want to see them succeed.

But I can see more than a few problems. As they say, there are entrenched interests that won't like that. For example, if you can rent cars that way, I don't see the people with those very expensive taxi medallions being any too happy about that. Yes, getting rid of that would be a good thing, but the people who own them won't be any too happy about the value of their investment vanishing.

Also, there's what happens with accidents. For example, look at that story we have right now about the autopilot flaking out for what? A minute? Only to have the pilots get confused and crash the plane. People underrate intentional risks because they feel that they have control. Conversely, they overrate risks where they do not have that feeling. Driverless cars are firmly in the "don't have control" pile. Sure, the computer is likely to be a much safer driver than most people, but that also means being a nicer driver (which will really piss off some people, passengers and other drivers alike), and people with low skill overrate their abilities. Throw in any actual programming errors into the mix and I just have to hope you have good insurance and a good PR department.

joe_the_user 1 day ago 3 replies      
I don't think the article's argument justifies the idea that fewer cars will be sold.

Cars wear out primarily through driving. If you simply switched to automatic driving, what you would have is fewer cars being driven more often and so being worn more quickly. If car-mile consumption stays the same, new-car production would stay the same.
On the other hand, if the auto-drive cars increased carpooling, then you'd see a decrease in car-miles consumed and so a decrease in production. But if auto-drive cars drove around empty more, you might have even more car-miles being consumed.

Moreover, you'd have a "big bang" where people decide to mostly stop driving the old, non-automatically-driving cars and so there'd a huge spike in consumption at that point.

The space saved by avoiding parking could be really large, still.

A nice thing would be that at the start, a person might be able to finance their self-driving car by renting in out when they didn't need it. Those economies might make the phenomena spread really quickly.

frankus 1 day ago 0 replies      
When I was young and naive I used to dream about how a Personal Rapid Transit system that would whisk people around in private little pods along elevated monorail tracks could work. Clearly the answer is "it couldn't", not so much technically but economically and politically.

But it turns out we already have a really comprehensive network of ground-level "tracks" that lead up to nearly every residence and business on the planet. The missing ingredient thus far has been the ability for a vehicle to stay on this "track" without a driver, but it looks like Google and friends might have cracked that nut.

A second impediment might be powering these cars in an efficient manner, but batteries have vastly improved over the last decade, and as they are standardized, battery swapping and even third-rail-type power (at least on limited-access roads) become possible.

The land use implications alone are going to be huge, but I'm not entirely sure which way they'll flip.

On the one hand, we will no longer need vast parking lots adjacent to activity centers like malls, stadiums, office complexes, big-box stores, and airports. That means that stuff could be built in those parking lots, which could potentially greatly increase the density of current cities and suburbs.

On the other hand (h/t Karl Smith at Modeled Behavior) driverless cars would dramatically lower the cost of living in exurban areas, so people interested in peace and quiet would no longer have to compromise as much as they do now.

idspispopd 7 hours ago 0 replies      
I like the idea. If only we had a system of cars, that for a small fee could drive us anywhere we wanted. That fee could be based on the number of kilometres travelled and the time spent in the car. We could call that fare a "taximeter", based on the latin "taxa" and the Greek "metron" meaning measure, together as "taxed metre", as that's a bit long - in time we could shorten it to "taxi".

Then we could have certain cities where only these "taxis" (and other kinds of public-transport) were allowed entry. Normal cars could enter, but would need to pay a special "congestion" fee.

Maybe London could try this out as they have a problem with congestion.

Aissen 1 day ago 0 replies      
Hacker News side note: it's time to show plus.google.com instead of google.com in the domain preview.

Apparently it's already done with appspot.com,
wordpress.com and others, so it shouldn't be too hard.

codelion 1 day ago 4 replies      
The post is misleading, people do not have multiple cars because they cannot drive, it is because they have to use it for multiple things at the same time. Morning going to work, dropping kids etc. will happen all at the same time. Peak car usage will not be affected by self driving cars.
stevecooperorg 1 day ago 3 replies      
I think I've missed an important part of this discussion -- if driverless cars would be revolutionary, what do they provide that an existing taxi service doesn't?

A taxi has many of the listed benefits;

- you don't need to buy the car
- you don't need to drive the car
- it's available on demand through your phone
- the utilisation of cars is very high

So what is the functional difference between a shared-ownership, driverless car, and a standard human-driven taxi?

johngalt 16 hours ago 0 replies      
Decouple the drivetrain from the cabin. The drivetrain is automated, and has standard connection types for the personal cabin. So you can have a mobile space that is "yours". Still has all the benefits listed in the article, and handles a few of the problems that "community car sharing" would create.

If a bunch of people are all going the same direction you can pack them into a 10 cabin bus, or a 100 cabin train. When their paths diverge you can have single cabin drivesets routed in advance to the destination. Tailor the drivesets for their intended use/range; short range electrics for small commutes, long range diesels, catenary powered on high traffic areas, perhaps a large multicabin driveset with wings?

jsvaughan 1 day ago 0 replies      
One unintended effect is that accidents are going to be quite different. Although driverless cars are bound to be safer, I wonder what people's reaction will be to computer error causing death. The style of computer error is not likely to correspond to reasonable human factors (like bad conditions, icy roads etc - all that can be programmed in), but bugs / bad radar echo zones / new roads not yet mapped etc - there are going to be deaths caused by circumstances that a human would have easily, safely dealt with.
luigi 1 day ago 2 replies      
I brought this up in Matt Maroon's post about the topic back in January, and he brought up a good point: People like to own their car because it's a moving storage locker.


iandanforth 1 day ago 0 replies      
How has no one mentioned EC2 in this whole thread?

Automation, centralization, capacity planning, many of the problems are the same.

Now IF that analogy is correct I propose:

1. A few large entities will dominate the automated car business while enthusiasts and finicky users will happily continue to buy their own.

2. Manufacturers will see demand explode for a small set of highly efficient commodity vehicles.

3. Excess capacity will be resold for new businesses.

- Package delivery
- Mobile Advertising
- Portable infrastructure. (Need wifi coverage at an outdoor event? I'll send over a half dozen networked cars)
- Portable storage (Think of those delivered storage pods, but that only were there when you called)
- Entertainment (Rent a dozen cars and have them do some sweet driving)

Also, though this doesn't fit into the Amazon analogy, talk about a captive audience! Imagine, you're puttering along on a family trip to Yellowstone in your rental, it's around lunchtime, and the car suggests stopping at Burger King .. out loud ... with your kids listening. Can you imagine what BK would pay for that privilege?

georgieporgie 20 hours ago 0 replies      
Why would a family need an entire car to themselves?

Because sitting on your own child's vomit is less horrifying than sitting on your neighbor's child's vomit.

I'm similarly excited for the arrival of automated cars (I'll be able to ride my motorcycle with a higher percentage of predictable drivers around me), but there's a point where personal property has a unique advantage.

nostromo 1 day ago 0 replies      
Another unintended (or maybe intended) effect: cheap cabs.

Without cab drivers, there's no reason for the antiquated medallion system. That would lead to more cabs. Without medallion costs, drivers, tips, presumably cheaper insurance, and more efficient route-finding -- it should also be much cheaper.

With cab-bots, you could also do some awesome things like model the areas and times of greatest demand and make sure they are there immediately. Or, similar to UPS, route to avoid left turns to increase fuel performance.

mousa 1 day ago 3 replies      
How about employment? It will make millions of jobs disappear. Truckers/taxi drivers/bus drivers/etc. make up a pretty huge group of people.
joshsharp 1 day ago 0 replies      
Ars Technica did a good series on self-driving cars where they came to many of these conclusions already.


JulianMorrison 1 day ago 0 replies      
I have said before, driverless cars will end the private car.

First you get your car doing taxi work for money while it would otherwise be parked in your workplace. Then you get a social stratum of people who only ever use other people's cars, because it's simpler than buying one. Then you get commercial fleets of driverless taxis out-competing the per-individual car in the taxi role, until it's not economic to run one. Then you get the collapse of the economic/logistic infrastructure for per-individual cars.

And yeah, driverless taxi fleets will only park to fuel, be serviced, or wait on a fare.

redthrowaway 1 day ago 1 reply      
The biggest opportunity I can see here is Cars as a Service. Basically an automated taxi service you pay $50/month for to use a car whenever you want. You fire up the caas app,order a car, and the nearest one comes and grabs you. The best part: not location dependent. Your membership is good in any city (heck, even any country). It would be the end of taxis and even public transportation.
politician 1 day ago 0 replies      
Speaking of unintended effects, what happens when the government begins to abuse its new capability to geo-fence areas that driverless smart cars aren't allowed to drive into?

Like protest meeting areas.

skizm 1 day ago 1 reply      
My first thought about driverless cars is that stock in alcohol companies would skyrocket. I know a good many people who would go to the bar on a more regular basis and now that they have a driver for the ride home. Also on a week day after work, why not have another beer? No risk of hurting someone or a DUI, right?
VladRussian 1 day ago 0 replies      
like any progressive technological development it will bring only improvements, including refusing to go to specific places specified by a transmission from central traffic control or automated blocking of doors and delievering you to court/jail/administrative hearing ...
piinbinary 1 day ago 2 replies      
I expect that at peak use (rush hour), the total number of cars needed would not be so substantially lower than the current number of cars owned. Perhaps a factor of 2 or 3.

Of course, with driverless cars, people may begin to stagger the starting / ending hours of the work day to allow for owning fewer cars.

dmnd 1 day ago 0 replies      
I don't agree these effects are unintended rather than highly desirable benefits.
nickthorn 19 hours ago 0 replies      
I can't believe this has so many upvotes! This is based on a silly assumption; aircraft are relatively more expensive than cars to buy, maintain, and use. So it is cheaper and affordable for more people if we time share them.

Cars are much cheaper, so we don't - the value of having a personal car ready right now is worth more to people than taking public transport. If aircraft were as cheap/convenient as cars to use/maintain/store/etc, then I'd have an aircraft parked up outside my house!

Driverless cars will have an enormous effect on society in lots of ways, but I highly doubt reducing the number of cars on the road will be one of them. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if there are more cars on the roads, given that people who currently can't drive (because they're elderly/too young/disabled) will be enabled to.

ajays 1 day ago 0 replies      
Being nerds and geeks, we automatically focus on the numbers: is 96% utilization too high? Will there really be 20x fewer cars sold?

Those exact numbers are beyond the point. But a more realistic number for utilization may be close to 50%: half the time, the car would be on the way back to the next pick up point (or home or office or ....).

One of the main reasons planes have such high utilization is to recoup the high cost of the initial investment. You don't see _every_ plane being utilized 96%; heck, drive by any small airfield and you'll see lots of planes parked under a canvas, seemingly not going anywhere.

wavephorm 1 day ago 0 replies      
If you can just network the driverless cars up to the existing public transportation systems then we'd have a truly useful device.

Just walk outside your house and a car drives on up, opens its doors, and takes you to the most convenient location to transfer to a public bus, or if economical to pick up other passengers going near your destination.

ajuc 1 day ago 0 replies      
It's not about average throughtput, it's about peak throughtput (during rush hours). Big percentage of families will want their cars at 8-9 and 16-17.

So utilisation of cars will never be 90%, more like 45%, which is still big change, I agree.

It's also possible that companies will do the sensible thing and adopt adjustable working hours (many software companies do this already here).

tryitnow 1 day ago 0 replies      
The value proposition here is basically replacing cab drivers.

This offers some really interesting challenges because there should be some sort of optimal routing algorithms that would allow a car to carry more than one passenger at a time.

I am sure Google is already working on something amazing in this regard.

The most exciting thing is the potential to radically reduce transportation costs. The cost reduction won't be an order of magnitude but it would probably be at least half the total cost of transportation we incur now.

namank 1 day ago 1 reply      
This is a far down the road vision. It calls for a huge shift in the mindset of the consumer AND the manufacturer, to say nothing of the society. Then there is the infrastructure and error handling - what happens when it gets a flat tire on its way to pick up the kids after dropping you off?

Lets give it 15 years. 15 years is a long time for technology but not so much for societal evolution.

I can see the driverless car being on the road in 5 years and I see it being used for carpools. But the vision as painted in the post? Yes, I'm a skeptic.

Very interesting stuff though...I can't wait till they hit the road.

b1daly 1 day ago 0 replies      
While this is a fascinating thought experiment are there really so many people who think there will be mass adoption of driverless cars in the near to mid term?

The technical, political, socialogical, and psychological barriers to the OP vision seem huge. Just to mention one that I haven't seen mentioned: winter driving. In snowy climates the driving conditions are very unpredict able. Cars get stuck and require all sorts of creative driving techniques. If the sort of seamless automatic driving doesn't work in such an environment then human driven vehicles will still be on the road in large numbers. Being on the road means they can be driven to the dense, warm urban areas where automated driving might work better.

You could outlaw human driven vehicles in certain places, but it highlights the need for the creation of parallel infrastructure to be created in areas where land is scarce. The transition period would be stretched out and chicken vs egg type problems could be insurmountable for the foreseeable future.

wtvanhest 1 day ago 0 replies      
Airplanes are not utilized 96% of the time. Most are sitting on tarmacs all night long.

Just like cars will be sitting when it isn't rush hour. There may be a few less cars sold on the margin, but this will not impact things as much as you think.

I could possibly see more rental/share programs, but those exist in big cities and are called cabs.

Which, brings me to a bigger problem which is cabs, those guys are definitely not going to have jobs.

benihana 1 day ago 0 replies      
It seems that to most Americans, the draw of the driverless car won't be "hey, this is more efficient and is costing me less overall." Rather, I think it will be, "hey I don't have to pay attention in the car anymore, I'll be on my phone playing on the internet the entire way home!!!!!!!" Followed shortly thereafter by, "hey why doesn't this car have the internet in the front seat?"
supar 1 day ago 0 replies      
I'm all for driverless transportation, but let's face some important facts.

Why didn't we _already_ remove the drivers on trains? The train/metro system is basically a closed system which is much easier to control than a car in traffic. This is a genuine question: why? It looks like a much easier to solve problem.

Second problem will be certainly be fuel. A 20x increase in utilization means at least a 20x increase in fuel, unless the car is _transporting_ something at all times (which basically means car sharing). Sending your car home empty is crazy in terms of fuel.

Legislation is also going to be a hell of a problem, at least in EU.

ldng 1 day ago 0 replies      
Ford is kind of already aware of this, see Bill Ford's TED talk :
there 1 day ago 2 replies      
sending your car home for your spouse to use and then back again to pick you up at the end of your day means it's using twice as much fuel on wasted trips with no occupants.
michaelfeathers 1 day ago 0 replies      
Driverless cars seem like a great idea, but I've never seen anyone address the legal/insurance issues.
danssig 1 day ago 0 replies      
Once we have automated cars why would anyone own one? Cars are the biggest waste of money we have right now. On a house you spend more but you have the potential to get it back or even make a profit. Not so with a car, it's just loss and a lot of that.

The sensible thing to do would be to have cars as a service. Why tie yourself to one type of car when you can just order what ever you need for that specific trip? Why does every family need 2 cars when nearly all our time is spent in one place (e.g. home, the office, the golf course).

Cars as a service can enjoy the same kinds of economies you have with e.g. the phone network. You don't have to have enough for everyone because everyone won't be using them at the same time. You need only worry about peak time, which you even have some control over since you're making the driving schedules.

rythie 1 day ago 0 replies      
You have to wonder if people would even learn to drive manually in a world of driverless cars, maybe only a minority of enthusiasts would want to (cost/time concerns).

Also, if some enthusiasts were perceived to be driving dangerously compared to the computer controlled cars, that all manually controlled cars might be banned.

drblast 1 day ago 1 reply      
Cars will be designed so as not to run over children. Children will stand in front of cars as a prank to cause massive traffic jams and make the evening news.

People will use cars as advertising. You will receive free cars as "samples" and this will cause problems because it will happen too often.

Automotive spam and script kiddies would not be pretty. I'm pretty sure a driver will always have to be behind the wheel.

maigret 1 day ago 0 replies      
Two unrelated comments:

- The most massive impact of driverless cab will be to send all taxi and truck driver to unemployment all of a sudden. Many post workers and pizza guys also nearly after.

- Google is not the only one working on that. Audi has some very nice driverless tech going on, as do a few other universities. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Autonomous_car

Edit: formatting

naa42 1 day ago 0 replies      
All these economic points can be applied to public transportatipon (i.e. trams, trolleys, subway). They also have much higher utilisation of equipment and number of drivers is negligible comparing with the number of passengers.
So the problem is the same as
Well, maybe Google can introduce public transportation once again.
joshu 1 day ago 3 replies      
Cars aren't engineered for high use. We'd have to radically redesign the car itself to go 250k miles/year.
cellis 1 day ago 1 reply      
[3] - Is all that matters. The industry and their constituents could easily push back driverless cars 20 years, and this is without any catastrophic accidents happening. So I'd say about 35 years before we see driverless cars disrupting anything.
emehrkay 22 hours ago 0 replies      
"Yeah, because cars aren't a personal item? why don't we just make it public transportation? oh wait, they already have that. It's called a bus, train, subway, taxi. Sorry I like my gas car, because I can modify it and make it go fast."

What is wrong with people?

niccl 19 hours ago 0 replies      
There's an aspect of this that I haven't seen mentioned. It seems trivial but I think it's got to be solved before pooled vehicles like this can work: cleaning the vehicles.

There's no incentive for the individual user to keep a shared vehicle clean. So what happens: squalor, or perhaps a new service industry of grooming self-driving vehicles?

MichaelApproved 1 day ago 1 reply      
"And if cars are receiving 20 times more actual use, that would imply that there would be 20 times less cars sold."

Incorrect conclusion. Cars being used 20 times more will break down 20 times faster. Less might be needed on the road at the same time but they'll break down and need to be replaced at a much faster rate. Over a serval year timeframe the amount of cars turned over will remain roughly the same.

I also wouldn't send my car home to pick up my wife and drive her to work because my fuel bills will skyrocket through all the extra driving around.

The shared resource makes sense. It'll be similar to taxi services that exist now. You call for a driver and the closest shared car will come to pick you up.

ondrae 19 hours ago 0 replies      
The effects of 20x fewer vehicles in our cities will have enormous impact on urban design and planning. The very shape of our metropolises will be realigned away from the auto-dominated patterns of the last 60 years.

Walkable, livable, green urban cores will become the new standard.

izend 1 day ago 0 replies      
The largest unintended effect will be the massive loss of employment in the transportation industry.
maximusprime 1 day ago 0 replies      
Driverless cars will never go mainstream. It's not something the masses want or need. Just a project for techies to have fun doing for the sake of doing it.
UrbanPat 1 day ago 0 replies      
Here's a related question: What will cities look like with driverless cars being shared by groups of people? Parking needs will diminish significantly, allowing cities to become more dense, yet because the cost of driving will be reduced (by splitting the ownership costs of cars, by increasing the rate of shared commuting, and by allowing commuters to spend their transit time being productive), demand for urban land for residential areas may decrease overall. So my best guess is that in many cities commercial areas will become more dense, but residential areas could enter a decline. Any other ideas?
EGreg 1 day ago 0 replies      
I agree with everything except the last part. Cars will still wear out after the same number of miles.
yuxt 1 day ago 1 reply      
According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, Americans spend more than 500 million 'commuter hours' per week in their automobiles. Once driverless cars take over this time can be spent on browsing web (clicking ads)
ednc 23 hours ago 0 replies      
Seeing this and the MythBuster's cannonball debacle next to each other gave me a scary chill.
majmun 1 day ago 0 replies      
I love driving car.
Only problem that I have and this could solve is parking in zone where it is expensive and somehow park car somewhere else.
But I could possibly solve this problem NOW by paying students or someone to park, and get your car for you. The prize has to only be cheaper than parking expanses.

driverless car cost will be higher than this I imagine.

napierzaza 1 day ago 2 replies      
So the effect of a driverless car is going to be a driverless taxi. Why doesn't everyone use a taxi now? I'm sure it would cost less than cars do. But nobody really does the cost-benefit analysis of these sorts of things.
Tichy 1 day ago 0 replies      
Unintended? For me, those were always the main motivation for driverless cars.
switz 1 day ago 0 replies      
A [nice] motorhome that's driverless would be awesome. Have to be in New York at 9, but live in Philadelphia? Fall asleep in your motorhome the night before and wake up at 8 a.m. already in the city. Not to mention the gas/electricity/emissions benefits from a machine controlling the acceleration and motor.
Papirola 1 day ago 0 replies      
read some sci-fi: last chapter of flashforward (the book)
ccourteau 1 day ago 0 replies      
I wonder what the potential would be for vehicles to be hacked and their destinations rerouted by third parties. Would there be a centralized automation system or would the cars be independently smart and networked?
johnwall 1 day ago 0 replies      
he forget to mention the ability to drink and drive legally.
lasonrisa 1 day ago 0 replies      
Nah, people will sell their houses and buy a truck with their home which would follow them around. What we will actually rent is the parking space.
dman 1 day ago 0 replies      
What happens to people who want to drive the car themselves by choice. How long before the idea of a mere human driving the car is seen as too reckless because automated cars are doing lane merges at surgical precision at 120mph.
choxi 1 day ago 0 replies      
post is so good, read it 3 times
Facebook security hole allows viewing of private photos bodybuilding.com
368 points by zone411  3 days ago   137 comments top 22
mkjones 2 days ago 5 replies      
This was indeed a bug, and shouldn't work any more. We turned off the system that lets you report content through this flow (and thus made this bug's code inaccessible) as soon as we became aware of the issue.

In the future, if you find a security / privacy bug on Facebook, feel free to report it via our whitehat program, which will get things looked at more quickly than random blog posts. You can get credit for the find and even make money with bug-bounty payouts: http://www.facebook.com/whitehat/.

For what it's worth, a few people were alluding to this meaning that we don't check privacy by default. In fact we do have a pretty robust default-deny system for running privacy checks. This was an edge case where it was forced to work in a way that was incorrect.

(I work at Facebook, but not on this system.)

tzury 3 days ago 6 replies      
someone [1] pulled this trick on Zuck's account [2]

1. http://twitter.com/#!/flyosity/status/144065873743839233

2. http://imgur.com/a/PrLrB

CWuestefeld 3 days ago 2 replies      
If that doesn't prove that FB's developers aren't thinking about security, I don't know what would. Nobody who is in a culture of protecting security would even consider building this.
hannibalhorn 3 days ago 3 replies      
Funny how something like this is originally posted on a body building forum. I think the first reports of the recent Penn State scandal were posted there too (around a year ago.) Who would have thought that's where you'd first find such things?
ianhawes 3 days ago 7 replies      
This is a security hole and nothing more. Developers make mistakes. This is not some vast conspiracy by Facebook to undermine your privacy. Why, of all places, is HackerNews unable to comprehend this?
kristopolous 3 days ago 2 replies      
General form appears to be as follows:


After you get that initial hash then you can swap out the CID and the RID and get everyone else (I tried it for 3)... it's pretty easy.

This issue is probably going to make mainstream news by noon.

robertjordan 3 days ago 1 reply      
Excellent find. You can even access around 25 photos from Mark Zuckerberg's profile.

http://imgur.com/a/PrLrB ps: what a nice photo of them on halloween. very generous too I can see!)

einhverfr 3 days ago 1 reply      
Facebook is an excellent personal marketing tool. However, I think at this point you'd have to be a fool to put material on it you want to be private. Of course, what PT Barnum said....
pasbesoin 2 days ago 1 reply      
Seriously, FB, do you have no QA whatsoever?

I wonder whether this is limited to photos in the profile album, or whatever it is called, these days.

EDIT: I'll add this suggestion that I've made before, since you're going to have a LOT of people wanting to delete photos, if this problem proves to be significant. Delegate someone to spend a few hours writing a routine that will replace a cached photo with an identically sized, all white (or black, blue, whatever), no metadata generated image. So, you don't have to rebuild your image caches in order to ensure that a photo is really gone (well, except for the fact that it once existed, as demonstrated by the working URL and white image).

I've read the excuse made in the past that aggressive, large, integrated image caches made actual photo deletion "not an option". As long as you can overwrite existing bits in place, this should solve that. (Although I don't know about all the tagging you've now since overlaid onto the images.)

citricsquid 3 days ago 1 reply      
It would seem based on the screenshot ("Message x to ask them to remove the photo...") that they must have specific permissions set to cause this to work as I can't replicate on people that I can't message.
Archio 3 days ago 1 reply      
This isn't even a security hole, it's a complete security disaster. Did they even think through the process for five minutes before they built that? I mean, there aren't even any hacks involved.

Nice find.

DrinkWater 3 days ago 3 replies      
Seems to be already fixed. The last option described in this tutorial is not there anylonger.
kmfrk 3 days ago 0 replies      
This is how many days after the FTC settlement?
Zhenya 3 days ago 0 replies      
Boy, I wonder what the FTC will say about this...
djbender 3 days ago 0 replies      
still works.
dpeck 2 days ago 0 replies      
The more often this happens, maybe the more normal people will understand that anything put online should be considered to be public. The illusion of the walled garden eventually comes down, either through a vulnerability, policy change, or simply user error.
ricksta 2 days ago 0 replies      
I wonder how people discover this
lobster45 2 days ago 0 replies      
This is why I never post private pictures on Facebook
blob4000 2 days ago 0 replies      
mirror to exploit instructions + pictures
mrgreenfur 2 days ago 0 replies      
Ugh, JW blue
simondlr 2 days ago 0 replies      
Moving fast and breaking things.
digitalsushi 3 days ago 0 replies      
Don't do it, kids. You'll find photos of that girl you pined for 2 years after you never made your move and she's way more fun and in way better shape than you ever guessed. It's rough to ruin the fantasy, but torture to augment it.
Follow up to “Android graphics true facts”, or The Reason Android is Laggy google.com
325 points by andrewmunn  3 days ago   115 comments top 16
saurik 3 days ago  replies      
"""It's because on iOS all UI rendering occurs in a dedicated UI thread with real-time priority. On the other hand, Android follows the traditional PC model of rendering occurring on the main thread with normal priority.""" <- AFAIK this is simply wrong: the events that are later described as blocking rendering are coming in on the main thread, not some special "dedicated" one. The reason things block is because of the way the event loop on that thread is managed (and in fact is directly caused by all of that activity operating on the main thread, which we even often call the "UI thread"), and has nothing to do with threading, and certainly has nothing to do with "real-time priority".

"""On iOS when an app is installing from the app store and you put your finger on the screen, the installation instantly pauses until all rendering is finished.""" <- This is certainly not true. The update of the display for the installation progress might (...might) stop, as that's happening in the UI (aka, "main") thread of SpringBoard (and the event loop management might ignore incoming events that are not related to the touch event until after the gesture completes), but the installation itself is being managed by a background daemon (installd) and will not stop because someone is touching the screen. The operating system is /not/ doing something hilariously insane here, throwing out all computation on the device because someone is accidentally touching it.

yellowbkpk 3 days ago 0 replies      
The great part about Android being open source is that you can go look at the source to see that the UI thread is not a "normal priority" thread [0]. There are very few things that run at higher priority (and they're listed right there): the threads related to audio and the hardware interaction (power buttons, etc.).

Last time I tried it, Android did not let you create a thread with higher priority than the UI thread.

[0] http://developer.android.com/reference/android/os/Process.ht...

babebridou 3 days ago 1 reply      
As I said in the other thread, there are two patterns, one is a Delegate pattern (IOS) where draw method lookup per pixel coordinate is trivial, and the other is a listener pattern, where view layout, composition and superposition is trivial. One is easy 98% of the time and super hard 2% of the time (iOS) and the other is relatively slow all the time but with much more potential for cross-process interactions.

In Android, you can have a translucent popups from App#1 appear on top of any sort of screen of App#2. You can't have this on iOS. At all.

On the other hand, animations and scrolling are blazing fast on iOS without any need for superior hardware.

I honestly believe that this alone explains the "lacking" in performance that Android suffers from: it targets super high-end multi-core devices, with JIT compilers and optimizers that don't exist yet, in order to allow functionalities that are unclear to everyone of us.

Shameless plug: I made an app (1) that illustrates what iOS will never be able to do. The question is, will anyone ever need that sort of app on their phone?

(1) https://market.android.com/details?id=com.fairyteller.linkpr...

code_duck 3 days ago 4 replies      
I'd be interested to learn what the deal is with sound on Android. I'm a musician and love the software instruments on the iPhone/iPod touch... they're a joy to play. On my relatively modern Android phone (Motorola Droid 2), instruments are so laggy they are absolutely unplayable. A key press results in a sound up to half a second later, sometimes never. The response improved slightly with the upgrade to Gingerbread, but not enough. iOS instruments are responsive enough you could play them in concert if desired... on the other hand, I can't even entertain myself with the Android music apps.

Is this just the difference between Java and Obj. C?

sedev 3 days ago 5 replies      
The takeaway for me is this: Android and iOS' creators made different tradeoffs in their UI programming. The iOS creators, overall, correctly predicted that a fast, smooth, responsive UI was something that users would care about enough that it was okay to pay a performance cost in other areas in order to make the UI as responsive as it is on iOS devices. Android's creators made a different tradeoff, and the UI on Android devices showed clearly - and continues to show - the problems with that tradeoff.
interlagos 3 days ago 5 replies      
This isn't a "follow-up", per se.

Nonetheless, while Android continually works to smooth out the rough edges -- helped along by the march of technology -- this is something that is a bit overblown: Minor jutters of the interface is something that primarily irritates people as a relative thing, not as an absolute thing.

If you are a developer or a reviewer and you regularly use an iOS device and an Android device, the difference is evident and jarring. If you're an end-use it quickly disappears and is a non-issue. It just isn't a real problem for end users.

It's the same as getting an upgrade to your PC, a new video card, etc. You were perfectly happy before, but relative to your new reality the old one seems subpar, and you overestimate how much it interferes with your enjoyment of the device.

jcizzle 3 days ago 1 reply      
Pretty close on the iOS stuff:

1. All* rendering takes place on the main thread in iOS.

2. The main thread doesn't always have the highest priority. In fact, its priority level changes throughout an application.

3. There is more than just one reason iOS rendering is so fast. Here are two important ones:

a. Animation is actually the basis of the entire rendering system. On desktop Cocoa, the drawing system was a little dated. The mistakes learned from this system and the desire to have fast animation led to the Core Animation framework and the idea of "layers". The ability to quickly composite layers (without moving any data from between the CPU and GPU) and only redraw when necessary is huge.

b. The batching together of drawing updates at the end of an event instead of on an as needed basis allows for huge performance gains.

* It is possible to draw in a background thread, but is reserved for particular situations (maps, web content, etc.). Table views do not fall into this category.

davesims 3 days ago 1 reply      
“...a lot of the work we have to do today is because of certain choices made years ago... ...having the UI thread handle animations is the biggest problem...An easy solution would of course to create a new UI toolkit but there are many downsides to this also.”

What would such a re-write look like, from a practical coding point-of-view? Couldn't this be done in a way that is transparent to the calling code, or would there have to be a fundamental re-write of the SDK, i.e., the UI thread no longer be the main thread?

rayiner 3 days ago 0 replies      
This is almost certainly the right answer. Synchronization/priority is the #1 culprit when people complain that a UI is "laggy." It was why BeOS was so renowned for being snappy--all rendering was done in a separate high-priority thread. It's also one of the reasons Linux has always been criticized for a laggy UI: the X server/application/window manager triumvirate isn't so much slow as it is a total mess from a priority point of view. You end up needing priority-shifting schemes UNIX doesn't have (quickly shifting priority from the WM to the app to the X server as an event flows from the X server through the WM to the app).
Legion 3 days ago 0 replies      
I don't know if his technical explanation is correct or not, but he is absolutely right about the importance of responsiveness. I was an Android early adopter (G1) and while I could put up with slower HTML rendering (for example), I could not tolerate the poor responsiveness.
nkoren 3 days ago 1 reply      
Good article! But I have to question the default assumption that iOS isn't laggy. I'm using an old iPhone 3G and it has become laggy as hell over the years. Scrolling on a web page is only ever smooth once a page has finished rendering -- and often not even then. The map application has become so laggy as to be completely unusable; every scroll or keypress takes 20-30 seconds to register (not exaggerating). Installing an app more or less bricks the UI throughout. I'm sure that these problems do not exist on modern iOS hardware -- but on that basis, the only fair comparison is with modern top-of-the-line Android hardware.

(In other news, I just ordered my Galaxy Nexus yesterday and am rather looking forward to it. Can you tell?)

The trick is that there is effectively only ever one model iPhone / iPad at a time -- so right now it's the 4S, for example, that captures all the mindshare and forms the basis of comparison. Legacy iOS devices simply cannot keep up, and certainly do not maintain the buttery-smooth experience that people identify with iOS. But nobody appreciates this, because legacy iOS devices aren't an active force on the market. Android devices, meanwhile, come in many hardware configurations, some of which are much more analogous to my old laggy 3G than to the latest iOS hotness.

This isn't an excuse: it just means that Android has set a harder task for itself than iOS has. But that's no reason not to succeed at that task. 15 years ago, my hand-built BeOS box gave me an unbreakably buttery UI -- even during obnoxious geek demos such as simultaneously playing 30 different videos in 30 different windows -- so there's no reason that ANY computing device, even a very cheap one, should not be able to match that performance today. This article gives a good insight into how Android is failing to do so, and what some of the solutions might be.

sssparkkk 3 days ago 0 replies      
Interesting to finally see some informed discussion about this going on. In the meantime I've scripted my Galaxy S to turn off syncing when the screen is turned on. It helps a lot to combat lag, as the phone often had the annoying (but understandable) habit of starting a sync when it was awakened by me: resulting in slowness just when I tried to use the device.
pragmatic 3 days ago 1 reply      
Can someone explain what is "laggy" about android?

I have a Droid bionic (second Android phone) and a Kindle Fire. What lag should I be suffering?

dshep 3 days ago 0 replies      
Finally an answer and seems like a reasonable one. For a time I had both a Nexus One and iPhone 3GS. The Nexus One was faster in just about about everything, but using it just felt like work. The iPhone comparatively was a pleasure to use.
therockhead 3 days ago 1 reply      
Hmm ... is this still an issue with dual core Android phones ? I have two Android phones, Galaxy S2 and Galaxy Nexus and both are as smooth as butter. Both feel faster than my first gen Ipad.
pace 3 days ago 4 replies      
Isn't Google's staff working under NDA?

I love the open discussion about Android's weakest point and I appreciate opinions from all side, in particular those from inside Google -- but this uncoordinated communication on G+ addressing problems w/o delivering a solution damages Android's image to some extent.

I Don't Understand What Anyone Is Saying Anymore hbr.org
323 points by azazo  3 days ago   128 comments top 34
albertsun 3 days ago 8 replies      
I understand this critique, but I also think there are times where jargon, abstract expressions and acronyms make communication a lot faster and clearer for people who share the same context and domain knowledge.

Trouble is, if you don't have the domain knowledge it's really hard to tell if what you're listening to is really condensed, specific info or meaningless blather.

A lot of times I might say something like "we did data analysis with Python, NLTK and R. The stack is on EC2 running Django with memcached and varnish serving up json and the frontend uses jQuery, underscore and backbone to render it"

To some people, that's a ton of info. To others it probably sounds like gibberish.

The same even applies to the "valley-girl" talking. It sounds like meaningless half-sentences to someone listening in, but to people who know all the social relationships being discussed there might be a lot of information going back and forth.

jrockway 3 days ago 5 replies      
I don't have any trouble understanding people when they say something like "I'm in the sort of sustainability space around kind of bringing synergistic value-add to other people's work around this kind of space." They're simply saying nothing. I remember watching some cartoon where some aliens are watching humans converse and they interrupt by saying "ritual gum flapping time is over". That's all this is: ritual gum flapping. When two people flap their gums at each other for a few minutes, it increases their comfort with each other and that social comfort helps keep society glued together. Sometimes conversations are about exchanging ideas, other times they are purely about socialization. In this case, the conversations aren't about the ideas, they're about having a conversation.

It may seem pointless, but a lot of being human is pointless.

jpdoctor 3 days ago 2 replies      
I think the author missed one of the motivations behind some of the behaviors: Pure unadulterated bullshitting.

Some folks figure out early in life to talk past their listeners, and some listeners will be intimidated. I found this out by simply playing stupid a number of times (it comes quite naturally for me) and making them explain it fully.

You will be surprised at the number of charlatans exposed by this tactic.

RyanMcGreal 3 days ago 4 replies      
I've been on a conference call where everyone was banding around acronyms that I didn't know, so I jumped in and asked if they could define a particular TLA that was coming up frequently.

It turned out that not a single person on the call knew what it stood for.

revscat 3 days ago 0 replies      
A part of me wonders if this isn't a factor of people trying to give more importance to the importance of their roles than is, in fact, justified. The doorknob example from the article is a good one in this respect. Instead of calling it a "doorknob", a complicated, important-sounding analog is used. Who's using it? Someone who feels that doorknobs are not that important, and that putting "doorknob salesman" on their resumé won't look nearly as impressive as "residential access tool marketer".

Human nature, I suppose. Still, it makes the language less useful.

kls 3 days ago 2 replies      
Valley Girl 2.0

Sadly this is me, I hate it, but I know it is true, my mind works far faster than my mouth and when I am excited it comes out as half sentences, joined by "likes" and "you knows". I have to concentrate to focus on pulling myself back and then I worry that I am not getting my thoughts across, but at least I know I am not getting them across when, I am doing it at thought speed.

Someone said to me once "Dude you use likes like other people use ums". If there was one thing I could change about my speaking style that would be it. Funny part is I speak at conferences and when I monolog it is not an issue. Q&A is a different story all together.

Splines 3 days ago 2 replies      
Here's a real life example I ran into a week ago:


We've made some changes to the Open AIM program to better align with AOL's new direction and clear focus on our core strategy areas. Going forward, we're shifting our focus to select partnership opportunities that will help us move the needle in the communications space.


SoftwareMaven 3 days ago 1 reply      
No discussion on this topic is complete without George Orwell's "Politics and the English Language" essay[1]. It shiws this isn't a recent issue, and is systemic throughout the English world.

Everybody who wants to communicate well should read this regularly. It is far easier to write abstractly than it is to write concretely, so people who aren't striving to be concrete will trend towards abstraction.

[1] http://www.mtholyoke.edu/acad/intrel/orwell46.htm

bbarthel 3 days ago 1 reply      
I have the same problem. Once I realized that I was not just stupid and the other person was simply not communicating well, I began to try repeating what they just said back to them in "normal language" to ensure I had understood them correctly.

When I did this, two things happened: people began to think that I was really smart, and I realized that I could usually repeat whatever I wanted and the person would agree with me.

pak 3 days ago 0 replies      
For anybody that needs a quick and humorous guide to all the terrible tropes of Business Guy Language, check out http://unsuck-it.com/browse/ (warning, some bits may be NSFW). An indispensable dictionary for the common man.
adamtmca 3 days ago 2 replies      
I'm not saying these and other business phrases aren't widely misused or used as a way to sound smart while saying nothing. But in case anyone is interested:


The term comes from M&A and refers to scenarios where the whole (after a merger or acquisition) is worth more than the sum of the parts. For example, a steel foundry which acquires a competitor and can now buy iron at a lower price because it buys in higher volume. The increase in profitability of both foundries from the decreased cost of iron is a "synergy".


Comes from Michael Porter (I think) and refers to the idea that each of the activities a company performs on their inputs before the final output should add value to the final product. If the company is unable to add value through one of those activities it's something they should pass to another party. This leads to phrases like "is our customer service call centre a value-add or should we outsource it?"

bradleybuda 3 days ago 0 replies      
I'm in the advertising industry where I frequently find myself surrounded by this kind of jargon (the word "media" is a tell that you're about to get an avalanche of bullshit).

I've found one trick for turning these conversations about abstract business models into something meaningful; ask "Who writes a check to whom, and for what?" If you get a quick answer, then you have a chance that there's common sense lurking around somewhere; if not, flee.

gallerytungsten 3 days ago 2 replies      
Using real words that made sense would vastly decrease the grandiloquent feeling of self-importance that puffs up these enemies of clear communication.

I sentence them all in absentia to ten readings of "The Elements of Style" by Strunk & White.

snorkel 3 days ago 0 replies      
I call it "biz dev jargon". The corporate hierarchy trains you to speak this way. The people at the top of the org chart have no clue what "we need a REST API for our Hadoop cluster " means or why they should even care, and if you do speak that way to them then they'll nod kindly at you then ask you to surrender your red stapler. You instead have to say "We're providing the customer with automated control over their own data processing." If you don't speak biz dev then the business owners don't understand you.
buff-a 3 days ago 0 replies      
If the presentation is by a technical* person to other technical* people, and you are just sitting in, then its fine. You just don't understand. The techies do. Its just domain knowledge speeding communication.

If the presentation is to non-technical people, then its probably jargon intended to bullshit you into thinking the speaker knows what they're talking about, and also a game brinksmanship to dare you to call their bluff. Call them on it. If they do know what they are talking about, you'll learn something (and probably so will everyone who was keeping quiet). If they don't, well, you learned something too.

* substitute lawyer, doctor, {domain_professional}

mrshoe 3 days ago 0 replies      
As a great example, contrast a Mark Zuckerberg interview with a Steve Jobs one.
cnorgate 3 days ago 0 replies      
Too true. Some guys over at college humor are on to this problem already... Anyone who has spent time in Silicon Valley will find this clip awesome!



johngalt 3 days ago 0 replies      
Consider what your audience wants to know, not what you want to say. Try to avoid metaphor or analogy.

"We recommend games based on what their friends play. Someday books and movies." = good

"Our EC2 based cloud platform combines social dynamics for consuming a range of media types. Like facebook for apps." = bad

jiggy2011 3 days ago 0 replies      
This reminds me a bit of when I watch a Movie or a TV Show and there is some geek or hacker character who is supposed to be doing something related to computers in order to resolve a plot point.

They will often say something like "oh I just.." then spiel of a load of technical phrases some of which I recognize and others which are clearly made up, this is supposed to sound highly complicated and clever but not understandable to the average viewer. Of course if you know anything at all about technology you realize it sounds completely ridiculous.

I always wonder why they do this, since it is something viewers are not supposed to be able to understand anyway. Why not at least make it accurate enough to at least give the geeks watching a chuckle (references to nmap in the matrix for example and apache/perl in "the social network" being examples of this) rather than just roll their eyes.

srdev 3 days ago 0 replies      
Kind-of tangentially related, but I find that there's a high tendency for people to interrupt other people and speak over others. This often leads to poorly-thought-out discussions, because people are rushing to get a word in edge-wise. At one point, I had to implement a "Lord of the Flies" style conch system to make discussions bearable. Lately, it seems endemic to programming style discussions. I'm not sure why.

I find that when everyone slows down, thinks before speaking, and uses deliberate language, understanding improves greatly.

absconditus 3 days ago 0 replies      
This would not typically be appropriate for HN, but it is relevant:


thewisedude 3 days ago 0 replies      
In my experience, its over abstraction that is the real hard nut to crack. I have heard people using very abstract statements which everybody seems to agree on, but most of them understand it differently.
denzil_correa 3 days ago 0 replies      
I believe the author wants to let us know that the phenomena of Proof by Intimidation is catching up with most of us.


josscrowcroft 3 days ago 1 reply      
Hahah, this is one of the truest articles I've read recently. I think everybody on here knows at least one person who speaks like the latter example in this piece, and the takeaway advice is immediately relevant and usable
fedd 3 days ago 1 reply      
I am extremely bad at this kind of talk. I like it when it's clear. But I am in a middle of preparing a presentation for some employer whom I want to offer some consultancy. What should I do not to give him an impression that hhe can move on without me because the topic is so clear and simple?
duncans 3 days ago 0 replies      
Reminds me of this quote from Aditya Chakrabortty:

> One of the best gauges of whether a statement actually means anything is to stick a not in its middle. If the opposite sounds ridiculous, then the chances are the original proposition is mush.


rokhayakebe 3 days ago 0 replies      
Sadly enough that is the kind of talk that gets you hired as a manager in some places.
murrayb 3 days ago 0 replies      
Death Sentence (http://www.amazon.com/Death-Sentences-Management-Speak-Stran...) by Don Watson is the seminal work on the topic.
MattGrommes 3 days ago 0 replies      
I recently interviewed somebody who had previously been an elementary school teacher. Their resume had the following line: "Instructed a diverse group of up to 29 students in a self-contained classroom on a daily basis." I laughed at that bit of buzzword padding for quite a while.
celticninja 3 days ago 0 replies      
Reminds me of this Finding Nemo quote:

Marlin: It's like he's trying to speak to me, I know it.
[to Squirt]
Marlin: Look, you're really cute, but I can't understand what you're saying. Say the first thing again.

dsimms 3 days ago 0 replies      
It could be that the techie tendency to not be able to put them(our?)selves in others' shoes makes this kind of communication much more difficult.
lucian1900 3 days ago 0 replies      
You should listen to a Geordie for a few minutes. They literally use 'like' as punctuation.
vijayr 3 days ago 0 replies      
The word "like" - just casually pay attention to the number of times this word is used (abused?) in conversations, especially by teenagers - unbelievable. It is probably the new filler word, in place of "Umm", "Hmm" etc
JonnieCache 3 days ago 0 replies      
All I know is, anyone who uses the word "space" in any sense other than the mathematical one of "a set with dimensionality" needs a slap in the face.

If they use it in a sentence where it could be substituted for "room" or "place" with no difference in meaning, then they get two slaps in the face.

(Just realised this means I now have to slap people at my local hackerspace. So be it.)

NASA Confirms Its First Planet in Habitable Zone of Sun-like Star nasa.gov
319 points by DonnyV  3 days ago   110 comments top 16
cletus 3 days ago  replies      
Kepler has certainly made a lot of discoveries. It should be fairly clear to us now that planetary systems are pretty common and, by extension, sentience must (by sheer odds) be out there too.

But I have to wonder how many assumptions go into this so-called "habitable zone". Doesn't it greatly depend on the atmospheric composition? With a different atmosphere, couldn't Venus be habitable (actually it might be in our Sun's habitable zone)? If Mars were larger, couldn't it support the kind of atmosphere that would allow liquid water.

Particularly if such planets were geologically active.

Even if all this stacks up, at 600 light years away, like pretty much any other star system, this planet is across a gulf I'm not sure we'll ever cross, which is a somewhat depressing thought.

yread 3 days ago 1 reply      
I highly recommend reading the wikipedia article (which, of course, has already been partly updated from this press release).


you will find out that:

- it has 42 sensors with 95 MPixel resolution total

- they only cover 10 square degrees of sky

- only 150k stars were selected for monitoring the rest of the pixels is thrown out

- they are read out every six seconds and every 30mins the pictures are combined and stored

- it sits on an orbit similar to Earth's, trailing it somewhat

- it can communicate with the mission center in Boulder at 4.3Mb/s in bursts of ~100Gbits

- it has a 16GB SSD

- from the frequency of finding planets somebody estimated that there are 2 billions of Earth-like planets in our galaxy and 6 sextillions in total :)

kabdib 3 days ago 0 replies      
I recommend reading _How to Find a Habitable Planet_.

The first half of the book is about why Earth is habitable, and then it goes to project that against what the search for a similar world requires.

The "snowball earth" scenarios were terrifying (basically, you get an ice ball that is very reflective and thus stays ice, unless you have something like plate tectonics to dirty-up the atmosphere to the point where some insolation can be retained).

einhverfr 3 days ago 0 replies      
Sometimes us history buffs get laughs out of these things. I was listening to a Catholic thinker make a case for the uniqueness of Earth, and what came to my mind was how Augustine accepted the possibility of other continents and how the world was round, but concluded based on the Bible that humans could not possibly be inhabiting anywhere beyond Asia, Africa, and Europe. This view remained the standard view until after it became clear that Columbus had in fact not reached Asia but instead a new continent, and that it was INHABITED.

I wonder how much theology of so many people will have to be discarded or rethought as we find more reason to think there are inhabited planets elsewhere in the universe.

dwiel 3 days ago 1 reply      
The idea of a 'habitable' planet is a cool one, but how relevant is it? Do we really expect that climate is going to be a concern by the time we are colonizing planets 600 light years away?

Now that I think about it, I guess it could be that they are looking for life on other planets and figure that alien life that is recognizable to us will likely be on planets in this zone. I looked at Kepler's mission and they don't really specify why they are looking:

"The Kepler Mission, NASA Discovery mission #10, is specifically designed to survey our region of the Milky Way galaxy to discover hundreds of Earth-size and smaller planets in or near the habitable zone' and determine the fraction of the hundreds of billions of stars in our galaxy that might have such planets."

portentint 3 days ago 0 replies      
When do we leave? Oh, yeah... WE DON'T HAVE A MANNED SPACE PROGRAM ANY MORE. Grrrrrrr.

Yes, I know it's impossibly far away. I just find it harder to get excited about this these days. And yes, I know that's not totally rational.

But yeah, what cletus said. Depressing.

gruuk 3 days ago 1 reply      
I remember when Carl Sagan's "Cosmos" series was first shown on PBS; the episode when the Drake equation was covered was one of my favorite, although even as a teen I understood how small were the chances of finding other sentient life as we hadn't found a single extrasolar planet at the time, let alone in the Goldilocks zone of a star.

Planetary discoveries (like this one) in the past few years are so cool to me.

diego_moita 3 days ago 1 reply      
> Kepler-22b is located 600 light-years away

So what we are seeing now are the light that came out the planet when Lorenzo Di Medici was inventing capitalism and financing the renaissance in Italy in 15th century.

Not very good chances we'll get there soon.

jjcm 3 days ago 2 replies      
What's the gravity on the surface? It's 2.4 times the size of earth, is the density the same? If so, that amount of gravity may very well make it uninhabitable.
AdamFernandez 3 days ago 0 replies      
All these comments are fun conjecture, but no one commenting (or on this planet) will be able to reasonably assume anything regarding life or sentience on other planets based on our utter lack of data. There may be life that exists outside of 'habitable' zones. There may be several different types of 'intelligence' that may or may not match our own. No one here can definitively claim that anything is or should be with so many possibilities.

Our only frame of reference is this planet, and while diverse, doesn't represent steadfast laws that all life in the universe follow (convergence, carbon-based, etc.). These questions will only be answered when we send probes, people, or find some other way of observing these planets directly.

rokhayakebe 3 days ago 1 reply      
How can a planet 600 light years away be habitable for humans?

Please forgive my total field ignorance and educate me.

martin1b 3 days ago 0 replies      
Who cares?

US is financially fledgling and we're pumping over $20B/year into this behemoth money pit called NASA to tell us there is another Earth we'll never get to. We can barely get to Mars!

Let's focus on problems here!

mcteapot 3 days ago 1 reply      
first class M planet!
__abc 3 days ago 0 replies      
Frak it, I'll move in.
gordonbowman 3 days ago 0 replies      
This is why I love Hacker News.
maeon3 3 days ago 2 replies      
We are rapidly approaching the day where humans can colonize other worlds. maybe that is how we got here.
Why we ditched PayPal for Stripe gc-taylor.com
321 points by gtaylor  17 hours ago   101 comments top 26
michaelschade 15 hours ago  replies      
The post is spot on.

My initial attraction to Stripe was because of a reason mentioned in the post: not wanting to redirect or otherwise interrupt the normal order process of my site with another company's (branded) checkout form just to handle credit card payments. The other reason for initial attraction was of course their elegant API, which was very refreshing to see after having dealt with Intuit's QBMS API (shudder) in the past.

Stripe really sealed the deal though when I tweeted them to ask my first question about signup and one of the co-founders reached out to me. Since then, I've been in contact to share my feedback or ask other questions, and the quality and timing of their responses is one of the best I've ever seen.

When a customer of ours had an issue placing his order, I wrote Stripe to see if they could offer any insight as to what errors they might be seeing on their end. While the error was unrelated to Stripe itself, they were so awesome that they actually took the initiative to browse through our checkout page and point out the spot that they thought to be the issue.

A company that stands beside you when debugging your checkout page, maintaining swift response times on an issue that isn't even theirs? That's customer support.

I probably sound like I'm gushing right now, but I just have mad respect for this company. The product isn't the only thing that's top notch, the people behind it rock too.

templaedhel 15 hours ago 2 replies      
The better question would be "why wouldn't you ditch paypal for stripe?"

Stripe is much easier to integrate than the x.com/paypal.com family of conflicting api's, all of which lack easy to read documentation.


Compared to


Stripe doesn't have a history of randomly locking accounts, and even if they do (if you process payments, I can understand the legal need to now and then) their customer support is so responsive and helpful I wouldn't really mind.

Stripe is easy to use. The web UI is fast, the api makes sense, I get joy out of it.

Stripe sent me a real, physical letter, to thank me. I was one of the early users of the beta, and we all got real letters, on thick cardstock, I wish I had taken a picture of it. That may be a virtue of being a small userbase startup, but if you start with that mentality, it means a lot.

Paypal does have slightly lower fees, but Stripe is worth it.

Paypal also makes it easy to add a paypal pay button to sites, but those a fraught with stories of accounts shut down, and are ugly.

phatbyte 14 minutes ago 1 reply      
Why on earth Europe doesn't have something like Stripe or WePay ?? This is such an amazing opportunity, and I can see lots of people who would invest in it.
LeBlanc 15 hours ago 1 reply      
I'm the lead API engineer at WePay, so I'm definitely biased toward the WePay API, but I do think Stripe is a great service.

The WePay API does allow you to embed the entire checkout experience on your own site with our iframe checkout. The iframe contents are customizable (header color, button color, etc), but as Greg mentions in the comments, it's not quite as customizable as Stripe or another merchant account based system.

Unfortunately, even with Stripe, you are still liable for most of the PCI spec (our iframe checkout gets around this). We made a bet that there are a lot of developers out there that who are willing to give up a little on the customization side to not have to deal with the headache of PCI compliance (we've gone through that process ourselves and it is complicated and expensive).

wenbert 6 hours ago 1 reply      
Both WePay and Stripe are US only.


So for now, I am stuck with Paypal.

MattBearman 7 hours ago 0 replies      
I would love to be able to use stripe instead of PayPal, can't wait until it's available in the UK.

Unfortunately they don't even have a timeline for availability outside of the US yet - http://twitter.com/#!/stripe/status/144951134795218945

dcaldwell 16 hours ago 1 reply      
From what I understand, one of the differences between WePay and Stripe is that WePay allows marketplace transactions where the app creator can take a cut of the transaction (similar to Paypal's adaptive payments API). I don't believe that Stripe allows marketplace transactions. WePay doesn't currently handle the dunning process for recurring payments but they plan to do so at the beginning of the year. Stripe currently handles the dunning process. At Bellstrike, we use WePay's API and have had nothing but good things to say about them. Their customer service is outstanding and we always have access to their developers, usually within minutes. We're getting ready to implement their iFrame solution as well. I've talked to some others that are using Stripe and they are pleased - particularly with the fact that Stripe only requires the credit card number and expiration date for a transaction - no other info. I guess it just depends on what you're looking for but I'd recommend WePay from my experience. We had a terrible time with PayPal.
JulianMorrison 3 hours ago 1 reply      
Redirects are a good idea. Redirects mean that you don't have to juggle legally sensitive credit card data yourself, and your customers see a browser indication that they are talking to the genuine Paypal (or whomever).

Paypal sucks, blocks your account and keeps your money on the least excuse, and is a bureaucratic hell, those are good reasons to not use them. Redirects aren't, IMO.

james33 16 hours ago 5 replies      
I don't really consider Stripe a replacement for PayPal. You don't accept PayPal because it can process credit cards, you accept PayPal because millions of people want to pay with it. Don't get me wrong, I hate PayPal just as much as the next guy, but unfortunately it isn't a viable option to stop using it in favor of simply accepting credit cards right now (though Stripe is an awesome product!).
latchkey 16 hours ago 1 reply      
WePay doesn't require you to redirect them to their site.


mattmillr 13 hours ago 0 replies      
"We investigated some traditional payment processors like Braintree and Authorize.net ... A lot of traditional gateways have long, complicated setup processes, often involving sales calls and working with banks. ... They also typically require you to send credit card data through your servers, which means obtaining a level of PCI Compliance (not that we aren't already security-conscious)."

I've used both of these. Braintree may not have been the right choice in their situation, but grouping them with Authorize.net for these reasons isn't really fair. Braintree's bundled merchant account and gateway services are much easier to set up, and their transparent redirect eliminates the need to handle card data on your own servers.

And in my experience, their "We (heart) developers" motto is, well, true. They have really great, friendly support. Braintree and Authorize.net are miles apart. At least as far apart as Stripe and PayPal.

adamtmca 15 hours ago 0 replies      
Can anyone recommend something similar to Stripe or WePay for Canadians.
jinushaun 16 hours ago 0 replies      
More positive news about Stripe since the last time they were posted on HN. http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=3053883. I will give them a try on the next e-commerce project I work on.
alapshah 9 hours ago 0 replies      
I feel like I am becoming a ridiculous Samurai supporter in a world of Stripe supporters on HN (odd because we know they have many large customers), but my large (seasonal business, 8-figures a month for 5 months a year) contract employer chose Samurai last month and we've been very pleased. We still are splitting our transactions between them and another provider but we've been very satisfied w/ Samurai thus far and will probably migrate all of our transactions to them over the next couple of months. They have an amazing API - can do the stuff referenced in the above article... See: https://samurai.feefighters.com/developers/samurai-js and were fantastic to work with. They also have a campfire room that is usually staffed and helpful

I ended up choosing them for my non-day-job gig as well (saas business) and am very happy. Happy that both of these services exist, really.

kemo 4 hours ago 0 replies      
So how exactly do you replace Adaptive Payments with Stripe?

I'm probably missing out on something here.. I know that flaming PayPal is popular nowadays but I can't find an alternative with both Authentication and Adaptive Payments (which our app is completely based on)

pbreit 7 hours ago 0 replies      
I hear you. However I would like to point out that the two PayPal services I designed 10 years ago, Web Accept and IPN, continue to work in the same way they did a decade ago. I was fanatical about not breaking and not needing to version.
moses1400 15 hours ago 1 reply      
We switched to Stripe from Paypal and Google Checkout a month ago and so far I've been very, very pleased. I plan to do a writeup of why we switched soon - wanted a bit more results first. FYI, Stripe launched a new web interface 2 days ago.

The net bottom line was this:
1. our customers (business people who are not super tech savvy) just don't understand that you can pay with a credit card on paypal and google checkout requires a google account
2. the "go off and pay" somewhere else and come back to the main site is messy

I have no real complaints with paypal over the years we used them so I can't bash them but I found that over time, we lost sales because people were confused. Now there is no more confusion - fill in a few fields and instantly you are done.

We also considered Braintree which I was also impressed with but decided on Stripe because of the non-need for a merchant account.

I am happy to answer any questions here or privately if needed.

plasma 15 hours ago 0 replies      
Please come to Australia; I'd love to use Stripe for new projects.
foxylad 14 hours ago 2 replies      
The usual gripe - my company is based in New Zealand, and it's well nigh impossible to open a US bank account so we can't use Stripe or Wepay. I'd love to know how many of PayPal's merchants are non-resident, it's the only reason we use them.

In fact, if it wasn't for PayPal non-US websites selling to the US would be almost impossible. The US has a massive advantage in that the rest of the world is happy to pay in US dollars, but US citizens won't pay in other currencies.

So here's a very lucrative challenge, Stripe and Wepay: the one that figures out how to allow non-residents to set up an account first simply has to post the news to HN and will be flooded with new accounts. I'd switch within 24 hours if there was a viable alternative to PayPal.

ssgrfk 6 hours ago 0 replies      
Sigh. another great looking payments service thats only available in the US. doesn't anyone want my ruples?
ggwicz 13 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm not enough of a developer to integrate completely with stripe, but we've been making the change to Dwolla.

Anything is better than PayPal. I appreciate their contributions to epayment, but their time has passed.

Other great options out there include Square, MoneyBookers, and Dwolla (if anyone is looking to leave PayPal after this article and the recent Regretsy one).

80cols 13 hours ago 1 reply      
Sounds like one of the main advantages of stripe is the API.

I wonder if anyone is working on making payments platform-independent so it's easy to switch between payment providers.

treelovinhippie 11 hours ago 1 reply      
US only. The only reason I hate living in Australia.
_exec 11 hours ago 0 replies      
I cannot recommend Stripe enough. We will be posting a blog post about our (seamless, instant) transition very soon. Kudos!

EDIT: By seamless, I mean "Sign up and get an API key", and by instant, I mean "Read this article, sign up, instant activation, plug in API keys, start charging, switch complete!"

irunbackwards 15 hours ago 0 replies      
I was absolutely enthralled with the support I received in their Campfire chat.
CNet's Download.com now bundling Nmap with malware seclists.org
309 points by taylorbuley  3 days ago   67 comments top 23
ComputerGuru 3 days ago 8 replies      
Shit. I just found that my application which was updated last week and is the 10th most popular system utility app on Download.com is also being similarly bundled [1]. This was not the case last week.

I think Softpedia and FileHippo are the only big sites left not doing this ridiculous practice. I'm debating whether or not to pull the application listing. What do you guys think?

[1]: http://download.cnet.com/EasyBCD/3000-2094_4-10556865.html


The benefit of our freeware not being open source is that we retain full control over distribution and packaging. Unlike nmap and others, we actually have a legal right to demand that CNet, et. al. either host the unaltered EXE or pull their listing.

I have just sent CNet a "cease and desist"-ish open letter, which we've also published on our blog. We will be forwarding this to any and all download sites we find bundling EasyBCD with their intrusive downloaders and installers, as that goes explicitly against the products' licensing agreements, which are there to prevent exactly this type of behavior.

Link: http://neosmart.net/blog/2011/open-letter-to-cnet/

tl;dr of link: C&D bundling of EasyBCD with installers and downloaders or pull the listing.

nhebb 3 days ago 0 replies      
C|Net / download.com has been doing this a while. They're even doing it to companies that pay to have their product(s) promoted on download.com. From what I understand, a C&D isn't necessary. If you email cnet-installer@cbsinteractive.com, they will remove the wrapper from your application.

BTW, here's a discussion about this from ~three months ago:


tux1968 3 days ago 2 replies      
This is one upside to using trusted repositories with signed applications in the Linux Distribution model. It's not perfect but at least this kind of sadness doesn't happen. There's no good reason this couldn't be done for Windows as well; it's just that users are conditioned to download from assorted random sites to collect the apps they want.

Would be a good community project which would likely attract the kinds of people who use nmap anyway.

asadotzler 3 days ago 2 replies      
This is disgusting behavior from what could be considered the first "app store". What a shame.
rmason 3 days ago 0 replies      
There's often a huge divide between business people and consumers on what is fair.


That's why companies trying to increase revenues are continually blind sided when their actions outrage people.

marshray 3 days ago 1 reply      
I remember the first time I found Sun bundling the Yahoo! toolbar along with the Java runtime.

I knew at that moment that Sun had lost its self respect and had no credible strategy for Java. I immediately went back to developing C++ for MS Windows and Perl for Linux.

d_r 3 days ago 1 reply      
This, and preinstalled "crapware" on newly bought computers/phones happens because vendors have no incentive not to do it, except perhaps out of goodness their heart. Yes, it disgusts me too, but moral issues aside:

(a) Vendors are looking to make money (simply speaking) and bundling crapware is a low-hanging fruit to do so. They have a choice between making $X per customer and $X+30 cents. Which choice should they pick?

(b) Users are not savvy or discerning enough to notice that they are getting the said crapware. We, techies, care. Do mainstream users care? They buy a new computer (or download an app), and they get the computer or the app, as far as they are concerned. How can grandma know that the "monthly anti-virus subscription" popup is "unwanted"?

People will buy/download from $VENDOR with or without crapware. Companies want to make more money and they have no reason to be "good." They gain more than they can lose. Until these variables change (say, if users revolt, or class action suits arise, or $CONGRESS_PERSON complains, or advertising revenue somehow diminishes, etc.), this will sadly keep on happening.

resnamen 3 days ago 2 replies      
What an egregiousness abuse of user trust. I hope this destroys their brand forever.
davidmurphy 3 days ago 1 reply      
Way to destroy one of the remaining strong brands from the (relatively) early days of the web, CBS. (CBS owns CNET.)

Hope it was worth it.

InclinedPlane 3 days ago 0 replies      
There's something gone very wrong with download sites in the last few years. Aside from this nonsense I've noticed a predominance of very misleading advertisements on download sites (attempting to misdirect you into thinking an ad is your download link). The site owners have to know about this but it seems they don't care enough to do anything about it.

Given the cheapness of s3 storage and such-like I'd say it's smart to avoid hosting on download sites in general.

orijing 3 days ago 1 reply      
I'm confused. Did Microsoft make a deal with Cnet to include this on every download, or did a third party do this? StartNow (startnow.com) is run by an independent company:

"The StartNow Start page is owned and operated by Zugo Ltd, a start page platform company. Our start pages are usually official operated on behalf of one of our clients or partners. Some pages may be "unofficial" and in support of/dedicated to improving the user experience for an existing product or extending a product's existing functionality."

This sounds like really bad PR for Microsoft. I wonder what they will do.

mahmud 3 days ago 0 replies      
People who have Symantec anti-virus will already have this flagged. No, not the malware but nmap itself!

Many anti-virus software packages flag nmap, netcat & other network utilities as malware.

Thankful for apt-get install beauty.

jeffh 3 days ago 1 reply      
This happened to software from my company (ActiveState), and we made a request to remove the extra wrapper bits (very much not the user experience we wanted), and CNet complied. Someone just has to ask.
[edit: of course, we did also find out _after_ the fact, which we didn't appreciate. We would have pulled our various bits, had they not complied ... but they did]
jiggy2011 3 days ago 1 reply      
This seems to a phenomenon unique to Windows and growing.

No wonder everybody complains about Windows being slow and full of popups and spam, almost everything you try and install on it seems to want to also install some free trial/browser toolbar/sign up for some online service etc.

feir 3 days ago 5 replies      
Off the topic here, are there still many people download software programs from download sites, like download.com, brothersoft.com or softpedia?
bigethan 2 days ago 0 replies      
I work for CBSi just got this response from the dowload.com team:

"We remove the installer from pretty much all publishers who request it removed, and the wrapping of nmap was an error. Fyodor has been contacted and had the issue explained. The Download.com Installer has been removed from the product, and we shouldn't be wrapping open-source software. It was a mistake and when Fyodor contacted us, we fixed it."

monkeypizza 3 days ago 0 replies      
That is a nicely written & researched complaint. I hope he finds someone to actually sue c|net for this, and not just make them stop doing it for this particular product only.
rmc 3 days ago 2 replies      
Surely this is a case for a DMCA take down notice? If they are distributing the copyrighted software outside the terms of the licence, then they are violating copyright and the DMCA can come into play?
rlpb 3 days ago 1 reply      
This should be sufficient cause for all web filters and security software to block access to CNET due to the malware. But will it actually happen, or are they treated with a special standard?
titel 3 days ago 0 replies      
I'm not saying this is right or wrong.. but there is something worth pointing out.

Technically speaking Download.com is not modifying the original EXE file as some people alleged but using an 'download manager' to intermediate the download of the file.

The bundled 'malware' comes inside this intermediary application and does not touch the original installer other than downloading it to the disk.

RexRollman 3 days ago 0 replies      
This is why, generally speaking, you want to get software directly from the developers.
laconian 2 days ago 0 replies      
CNet's reviews are also worthless too. So little content, so many skeletal SEO keyword pages.
hmart 2 days ago 0 replies      
This top download site in spanish also use this scheme http://nmap.softonic.com/descargar
Man with multiple degrees fails standardized test for children washingtonpost.com
313 points by joejohnson  4 days ago   218 comments top 46
tokenadult 4 days ago  replies      
From the submitted article: "A longtime friend on the school board of one of the largest school systems in America did something that few public servants are willing to do."

Oh, well, that's the problem. He is on a public school school board. School boards have been known to have adverse selection for dullness for more than a century. Here is Mark Twain's harsh comment on that: "In the first place God made idiots. This was for practice. Then He made School Boards." -- Mark Twain, Following the Equator (1903) 2:295

Other than that, the author of the submitted article simply describes the school board member as a "success" who makes money. The genius of the American political and economic system is that people who desire money more than they desire deep understanding can often achieve that goal. America is a wealthy country, and by world standards a lot of Americans are more successful than what you would expect if you look at the success of people in developing countries who know more and who work harder.

The submitted article is by a guest author, but it is part of a regular column series in the Washington Post that takes the consistent line that criticisms of the United States school system for inefficiency and waste of resources are misplaced. As an American who has lived overseas, spending the first part of the 1980s in a developing country, I can't agree with that party line. United States schools could do a LOT better, particularly in teaching mathematics in elementary school,


and while it may be that many current United States standardized tests in core subjects have poor validity (being designed by state governments more for political than for educational purposes), the answer is NOT to throw away reality checks on how the school system is doing. Rather, the answer is to align reality checks on United States schools more closely with testing programs that identify the most successful countries,


and to look to the practices of the most successful countries for policy guidance on how to reform United States schools.


It is still possible for United States school to improve a lot simply by bringing in better management practices,


and efforts to improve United States education shouldn't be sidetracked by a single anecdote about the occasional well-off school board member who has limited academic ability.

noonespecial 4 days ago  replies      
"Not a single one of them said that the math I described was necessary in their profession."

I know I'm biased. Geek is as geek does, but $deity almighty am I tired of that line. If simple math isn't valuable to your profession, it might at least be worth a think about how valuable your "profession" might be in the first place.

Some of the huge systemic problems we are facing right now may have something to do with the fact that we have entirely too many professions where it really doesn't matter if one could master simple math.

patio11 3 days ago 1 reply      
Success, education, intelligence, and credentials are all available independently of each other. If they were binary, you could find all 16 combinations in spades. (Probably not uniformly distributed, but I'm sure I could come up with anecdotes for SeIc or SEiC or any other combination if I needed an editorial written.)

With particular relevance to this article, "I am successful and well-credentialed, ergo, if a test suggests that I am not educated or intelligent, that test must be faulty" is not by itself very persuasive to me.

petercooper 4 days ago 1 reply      
On detailing the contents of the test to his business peers: "Not a single one of them said that the math I described was necessary in their profession."

Close to none of the history, RE, French, geography, music, phys ed, or even science (heck, nearly every subject) I took in high school has proven directly necessary for my profession. But the standardized tests aren't for adults, they're for students. (Should we expect to pass their agility/phys-ed tests too? :-))

Being able to learn these things, and developing the skills necessary to learn them, is a worthwhile experience and hopefully provides a lot of the inspiration, brain-shaping, and knowledge exposure necessary to get by as an educated adult, even if you can't pass the tests to some arbitrary standard.

I barely remember any of the French I learnt, but I can't help but feel the exposure has given me a better insight into, and a better ear for, my own language. It's a similar story for most of those other subjects.

raganwald 4 days ago 3 replies      
A lot of the criticiscm of the article seems to be missing the point it makes. The author and subject are criticizing the standardized tests as having been put in place without evidence linking its scores to outcomes. Neither the test nor its champions have any accountability for it.

To refute this, we either have to come up with a way of measuring whether streaming students based on their scores is a benefit, or we have to come clean and say it's arbitrary.

Saying that high school doesn't teach you anything vocational but you learn how to learn is interesting, but to answer the OP directly we need some evidence showing that students are indeed learning to learn. Otherwise, it's just faith.

We should be especially wary of survivor bias hre. Most folks here are educated and pleased with their career arc. It's easy to assume from n=1 that our education is the reason. But many who took the same classes aren't doing so well. Maybe our education isn't the reason for our success.

One criticism of IQ tests is that they measure the ability to pass IQ tests. Do we have the data to refute the accusation that standardized tests measure only the ability to pass standardized tests?

beloch 4 days ago 3 replies      
On the test-taker's failure:

In order to perform well on a math test you don't always have to really understand the fundamental principles behind what you're doing. Sometimes you can get away with wrote memorization. e.g. You can come up with equations for a lot of things yourself if you understand Gaussian distributions but, if you're being prepped for an exam by teachers who know roughly what's on it, they might just give you equations to memorize for the things that are likely to be asked. You may perform nearly as well as someone with deep understanding of the material, but you are unlikely to remember those equations long after you've taken the test!

It is quite likely that the person who took and failed this test was the sort of math student who was able to get by memorizing what he was told to without really understanding things. If he had written the same test in high-school he likely would have done much better because he would have been prepared for it with memorized methods and equations that he never understood and has long since forgotten.

On teaching methods:

When teachers teach students to pass tests, short-cuts like wrote memorization tend to happen. The useful knowledge learned from this kind of teaching is minimal. Unfortunately, many teachers are unable to teach the deep meaning behind mathematics because they were taught by wrote memorization themselves. When they were assigned to teach math class they probably had to look everything up themselves since, like our test-taker, they never understood the basis behind it and have forgotten most of what they memorized.

It seems that we must overcome the problem of educating teachers before they can overcome the problem of educating students.

dos1 4 days ago 4 replies      
This makes me angry. How did this man get to his current position? I can't possibly understand how he did not know any of the math questions. I'm sure even I would have forgotten some of the trig, but to not know ANY? But I hear people saying, "his job didn't require much in the way of math." Granted, but I'm sure his job requires lots of reading, and he got a 62%?

The real tragedy is that this man was able to rise as high as he did, and our current system supports it.

rdouble 4 days ago 3 replies      
I'm skeptical this happened. The guy is anonymous, the town and state are unnamed, and there are no examples of the test questions.
drblast 3 days ago 0 replies      
The fact that someone is comfortable saying "all of my friends haven't used math in their successful careers, therefore math isn't useful and shouldn't be stressed and tested" is the exact reason that math should be stressed and tested.

This is hindsight bias. Knowing math helps cure you of the affliction of hindsight bias. The fact is, you don't know what career a person will end up choosing, and math is important (as is art, music, philosophy, chemistry, physics) in a subset of them. Therefore, if you want ANYONE to be able to do the math for you later on, you need to expose everyone to it to find the future mathematicians.

Not everyone grows up to be a writer, but we all read Shakespeare. Is that a waste of time? Only in hindsight.

And maybe, just maybe, this guy isn't all that smart and the test is valid. But of course, the article doesn't address that, as it's more interesting to write about anecdotal evidence and drama for the innumerate audience.

gmichnikov 3 days ago 3 replies      
I tutor all sorts of math students, from middle school and high school students to people preparing for the GRE and GMAT. The most common question I hear, by far: "Why does any of this matter? Will I ever use it again?"

Until 8th grade or so (pre-algebra), students learn math that (I think) everyone should know. After that, it can be hard to give a good answer. Why does someone who is not interested in studying math after high school need to know the quadratic formula? Why does someone studying for the GMAT need to know anything at all about geometry? Math curricula simply cover the wrong things (and as a result math tests test the wrong things).

Take a look at these two sample 10th grade math tests (the level taken by the guy in the article): http://www.doe.mass.edu/mcas/2011/release/g10math.pdf http://ritter.tea.state.tx.us/student.assessment/resources/o...

There is TONS of focus on geometry and coordinate geometry. There is NO focus on math concepts that are much more important (in my view), like basic finance, basic statistics, basic probability. These are things people need to know in order to be informed citizens, understand policy, process things in the news, rent/buy a home, take on college loans, etc.

None of this means that tests are bad of course. I think tests are, generally, a good way to understand what people know (in math).

Finally, the guy says: "The math section had 60 questions. I knew the answers to none of them, but managed to guess ten out of the 60 correctly."

If he really knew the answers to NONE of them, I have a hard time taking him seriously. I love how he gives himself credit for managing to guess 10 correctly. These tests are mostly multiple choice!

tibbon 4 days ago 0 replies      
Despite all the comments about this guy and his incompetence, it might be even better if a public version of these tests were made available (and could be graded automatically) for the public to take and review. Instead of speculating about this guy's ability, of which I know nothing, I'd rather just take it myself and then draw my own conclusions. That being said, I was always very good at taking tests, even if I had no idea on the subject matter. Unless you put in "none of the above" as a choice, I could pass almost any test. It wasn't until the LSAT that I had any problems at all with a test.

Here's a novel idea: publicly commented and curated testing system. Wikipedia-like. People write questions, other people can take the test, leave comments, suggestions, etc and those can be factored in to build a smarter and better test.

kahawe 4 days ago 0 replies      
> "I help oversee an organization with 22,000 employees and a $3 billion operations and capital budget, and am able to make sense of complex data related to those responsibilities."

...which all requires a completely different skill-set than what kids are being taught in school. Politics, opportunism, cold-blooded back stabbing if necessary and clever PR being just a few of those.

Also, when he actually was in school, the curriculum was probably (at least somewhat) different, different tests and questions. He cannot really base an educated opinion on the school system and standardized tests from just that alone - leaving what you personally feel about the school system out of the equation for a second.

josefresco 4 days ago 0 replies      
I know this will come off as critical of the test, but maybe the real criticism should be directed at the institutions where this particular adult received his degrees. Maybe both systems are flawed.
talmand 4 days ago 1 reply      
I think it's a matter of being up-to-date on the material, which he himself sort of admits to. I learned a great deal of things in high school and college that if I were asked to take a test today I'm fairly sure I would fail. The only way I would pass is if I was able to spend some time to prepare.

But that's the thing, what I got out of my education was HOW TO LEARN a subject.

I'm confident that you could pick nearly any subject that I know little about and, with a proper amount of time, I could become somewhat proficient at it. The level of my ability will, of course, depend upon the subject and various factors to do with me as a person.

Standardized tests are a tricky thing, they are needed to determine a student's progress but at the same time they assume that all students are the same. To me that's the problem with education systems in the US, they assume that they can teach all kids the same thing the same way with the same results.

As a father of two children with completely different personalities, attitudes and interests, I can tell you treating kids as emotionless puppets to force-feed information to is a path to failure.

jellicle 4 days ago 0 replies      
It's easy to fail a test if you go in deciding to fail it, because you have a already-extant political bias against testing.
dmbaggett 4 days ago 3 replies      
Can someone who actually knows tell us what kinds of math questions were on the test? It's hard to come to any conclusions without any details, and the article didn't seem to include any pointers to the test itself.

My personal axe to grind is that number theory and basic finance, rather than calculus, should be taught to teenagers.

And in my own US public schooling, I found the teachers completely unable to provide any intuition whatsoever behind calculus. It wasn't until two decades later, when I was studying computational finance for fun, that I actually really understood integration as something other than symbol manipulation. Seriously, this whole "teach to the test" mentality may get kids to answer correctly by rote over the short term, but doesn't help them to learn much in the long run -- at least if they're intuitive learners.

apgwoz 4 days ago 0 replies      
I can understand doing badly at the math portions, but the reading portions? Presumably he needs to be reading and comprehending what he's reading in his day to day job responsibilities.

Why can I understand the math difficulties? Well, I too forget stuff that I don't use very often. I'd have to go look up the all the trig identities if I needed them. But, I wouldn't take this test blind without any refresher.

The advantage "kids" have when they take these standardized tests is that it's very close to fresh in their minds, or at least relatively fresh. That has to count for something.

tryitnow 4 days ago 1 reply      
In most organizations corporate politics and personality play a greater role than ability.

This will change with the continuing revolution in data and the data driven decision making it makes possible. Eventually corporations that reward politics and personality will become weaker and those that reward data driven decision making will become stronger (except in cases where the corporation can depend on government handouts, e.g. Wall Street).

po 4 days ago 0 replies      
For the most part, I think the point of school - elementary through college - is to learn how to learn. Yes, we try to teach students things that will be useful in their careers but I think it's more important to teach students things that are hard. It is the process of learning to internalize difficult concepts that makes you 'college ready'.

If you don't use that knowledge for your profession, then yes you will forget it. However, if you don't use it for your profession, it doesn't mean learning it was useless. I would be more worried if he still sucked at math after preparing for the test for a semester or two.

I have a degree in Chemistry and yes, that knowledge is slowly slipping out of my mind. However, the skills I learned while learning chemistry - logical thinking, ability to memorize and recall, building a mental model of abstract concepts - these stay with me.

jacquesm 3 days ago 0 replies      
There is a very simple explanation for this: If you are out of the school system long enough then you will forget 'basic' stuff unless you exercise it regularly.

It doesn't mean that you're dumb, it just means that you haven't flexed that particular muscle for long enough now that you may simply have to re-learn those things or you will have to invent them on the spot from first principles.

The brain is great at throwing out unused (unreferenced) memories.

Given proper preparation (like the ones students go through), say a couple of years of relevant re-education I'm sure the author could pass the test.

martin1b 3 days ago 0 replies      
Immediately, this story looks like link bait. Even the title misses the point of what he's trying to say, true or not.

Even more entertaining is all of the discussions of those who have 'real' degrees and who are 'not like this man'. They believe he must be a ignorant bureaucrat who lucked his way to the top. They believe it's inconceivable that schools are to blame, even though many are sold a bill of goods from schools that degrees set the social classes apart from others and they really are more human than others. While in fact, schools have become one of the most clever profit centers ever created. While there, you are indoctrinated to believe only those going through here are human. So, when you go out to the world, only hire those from here (plug for more school business!)

Remember, some of the most financial successful people in the US, in the world, do not/did not have degrees > Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Mark Zuck, the list goes on. Although, my personal believe is financial success is not the true success (even stated by Gates recently)

This belief that you must be part of academia to be innovative and this near prejudice of non-academia citizens is appalling.

Learn what this man is saying rather that trying to prove him wrong and self-justifying. Yes, we can count, read, apply studied principles learned from books and media. His point is, are we the principle authors? Are we the ones innovating, improving society by our ideas, helping our fellow man/woman by our work? If not, perhaps something IS missing from our schools. Perhaps that is part of the problem. Let's fix it and make our world a better place.

yummyfajitas 4 days ago 3 replies      
Here is a question for everyone who agrees with this editorial:

Suppose that this man is correct - that the material being taught/tested is useless and unnecessary for a successful career. In that case, shouldn't we stop teaching it, remove the material from the curriculum, allow students to graduate a year or two earlier and fire a bunch of useless teachers?

If not, why not?

jarin 4 days ago 0 replies      
Hmm, yeah I'm not really so sure that the problem with our educational system is that the tests are too hard.
nene 3 days ago 3 replies      
What struck me most was having multiple-choice answers on a math test... WTF?

You shouldn't be able to just guess the answers one-out-of-four. When I was in school (not in US) there never was such a thing. You simply solve the problem and write an answer, which usually is a simple number.

mikealle233 3 days ago 0 replies      
The man's multiple degrees are meaningless without knowing where they're from. We live in a world where literally anyone can enroll in the University of Phoenix. In fact, I've heard many people in the education field do so because union contracts guarantee them raises, regardless of where a degree is from.

That one man rose to power in government and obtained degrees, despite poor math and reading skills, doesn't surprise me much less outrage me.

memset 4 days ago 0 replies      
Possibly I missed it, but is there somewhere we can see the test itself? It seems almost silly to try and discuss the pros and cons of testing, or of this gentleman's position in society, without seeing the exam.
Mc_Big_G 3 days ago 0 replies      
School, in general, isn't for learning shit. It's for learning how to learn. He obviously knows how to learn things, has learned the things he needs to know and could (re)learn the material covered by the test. The fact that he failed a test covering material he hasn't (re)learned doesn't mean a fucking thing.
kevinalexbrown 3 days ago 0 replies      
Note that this is a person who makes budget decisions. Whenever people tell me math isn't important, I can't help but compare it to spelling/grammar mistakes: a member of the school board would never send out a professional document that had spelling errors, but a math error, hey, what's the problem? It's just the budget.
richieb 3 days ago 0 replies      
Have you guys considered that the test could have been written by someone who does not understand math at all? My wife is a teacher and occasionally I look at the crap questions that come on standardized tests and I am appalled.

I saw a 8th grade textbook that explained how compute square roots by hand - but the algorithm was wrong. It only worked for examples in the book.

ejgejg 3 days ago 0 replies      
The problem is the author went to school too many years ago and missed the ubiquitous "how to take standardized tests" curriculum.

These days kids are taught from kindergarten on how to take standardized tests. My sixth grader can look at a test question and narrow it down to two answers before even reading the question. And for math, he doesn't solve the problem, he plugs the two answers in to see which is right.

I teach math at a community college and it is common to have students test into math classes that they don't have the basic prerequisites for - just because they test well.

dragonsky 3 days ago 0 replies      
Education kills the joy of learning!

Situation: I have three children, current ages 11, 10 and 5, parents are University educated and engaged in the children's learning.

The progression of learning for each child has been:

Age 3: Starting to learn to read at home. Enjoying being read to, and discovering that letters and words have meaning. Starting to understand counting, and a one to one relationship between a number and a quantity of objects. Learning that numbers of objects can be added and subtracted. Really excited to learn, and will try new things if they give a chance to learn.

Age 5: Starting formal schooling, with pre-school/prep. Getting readers to take home, very excited at the time that is being spent being presented with new words. Fully understanding numbers and how to count things. fascinated by the idea of infinity and zero. Learning the concept of fractions (of apple). Loves learning.

Age 5.5; half a year into formal schooling.... I'm board at school...
Parents still introducing new ideas at home and encouraging reading of material to extend ability... Trying to introduce new maths concepts to encourage interest.

Age 6: Bringing home standard worksheets for maths and literacy, some conflict to get homework completed... Not really interested in school. Loves reading, not interested in maths.

Age 8: Don't want to go to school, Don't want to do homework... What is going on? Just wants to spend time reading. Loves an argument about the physical world.

Age 10: Discipline problems at school, no interest. Loves reading, loves computer games.. Still loves a good argument...

Age 11: OK We have a problem, High school in one year... he's missing a bunch of the basics What happened? Looks like lots of remedial work over the Christmas Holidays.

How is it that kids who are engaged and excited to be learning at five years old can so quickly have this interest buried when confronted by formal learning? How am I to prevent this from happening to my youngest (currently 5yrs) as well? She is very bright, some would say "gifted", I don't want here to start to hate learning as well. There has to be a better way!

Digging deeper and talking to the older kids it quickly becomes obvious that they do enjoy learning, they just can't be stuffed doing the boring repetitive stuff once they have grasped the concept being covered. We go over maths concepts at home... They get it, they are interested in it, they just don't want to do it at school.

Looking through the kids school books it becomes obvious that what they have been doing all year is not "learning", but more "drilling". Now I'm not an education expert, but I do understand the value of repetitive drill when practising to become an expert at a particular procedure or action, it has great value if you are a dancer, gymnast or swimmer... I'm just not sure at how good it is at instilling enthusiasm for learning and an ability to take what has been learnt and apply it to new situations.

My understanding is that the current methods of education came about shortly after the industrial revolution in Europe, and were a way of training people in a standard way that would make them suitable for employment as workers in factories and offices. We are no longer living in industrial Europe c1850, surly we should be looking at better ways of educating our young.

bwooceli 3 days ago 0 replies      
I could not agree less with the conclusion the board member came to. In my experience, the general education is dual purpose. There is surely a foundation-building aspect to it, where the student's body of general knowledge is expanded. But more importantly, the process of learning builds discipline and habits for success. A successful educator and educational system balances these two purposes.
teyc 3 days ago 0 replies      
The man on the school board is drawing the wrong conclusions.

His role today is one of management, and he has no need for anything beyond basic maths. However, there would have been a time when mastery of things technical meant a promotion, or an opportunity to supervise younger graduates. I know of many brilliant managers who no longer have their technical chops.

For all we may know, his degrees may be in Biology and Marine Science. It means that his profession would be one that doesn't have to worry about differential equations, or chemical reactions, or American History.

However, there is an interesting point whether too much irrelevant material is taught at school. I hear this in universities too, that professors keep adding material to the curriculum. I don't have an answer for that. I think schools focus too much on abstract thinking, and too little on effectual thinking.

baby 4 days ago 1 reply      
Link to the tests? Because really, I don't want to say anything before seeing the test.
swah 3 days ago 0 replies      
Can we see the test?
peterwwillis 3 days ago 0 replies      
Before I went to high school (maybe 8th grade?) I took some kind of test to determine what kind of career I was best suited for. It said the least likely position was computer programming because my math skills were so poor. I was already programming in C and Perl at this time. (I'm still not a "real" programmer; I learned early on that sysadmin was easier and pays more on average. I now regret going the easy route
scotty79 3 days ago 0 replies      
I think that schools are not so much about learning stuff as about training and testing ability to learn dull things that you don't like and/or care about. That's invaluable skill in life.

Most people forget 90% of things they've learnt in school after 5-10 years after finishing.

If you take a look at the things you were learning in college, you'd be amazed how much of even interesting and seemingly useful things somewhat associated with what you currently do, you can't even remember learning.

pandaman 4 days ago 0 replies      
I am willing to bet that none of the subject's degrees has been in a real science or math.
popplebop 4 days ago 5 replies      
>It seems to me something is seriously wrong. I have [...] 15 credit hours toward a doctorate

This statement is suggestive of where the problem lies. A doctoral thesis is supposed to be an original piece of work. The idea of assigning credit hours towards it is meaningless. We don't honour creative people for the number of hours they put in but for the works they leave behind.

grot 3 days ago 0 replies      

Successful man fails 10th grade standardized test, concludes that success is not correlated with being able to do math.

Aside from the obvious logical/statistical falacy of making an overreaching conclusion from a sample size of one, and various other illogical claims("if this guy doesn't need math, why does anyone??") this article assumes that the purpose of education is developing vocational skills.

Why should that be? Kids should learn to appreciate the world, get exposure to different things. There's no reason to make them hunker down at age 5 and start preparing for their future careers. If they don't like math, that's fine. Likewise for history, science, whatever. But it's a shame for anyone to miss out on the beauty inherent in all of these subjects.

refurb 3 days ago 0 replies      
This is sort of silly.

I'm sure if the man actually prepared for the test, he would have done much better. Hell, I've taken standardized tests, gotten very good scores, but if I had to take them RIGHT NOW without any preparation, I'd probably fail them.

absconditus 4 days ago 0 replies      
This article is superficial and conflates several issues.
zephjc 3 days ago 0 replies      
Are his degrees in psychology, sociology, pedagogy, political science and a teaching qualification?
swdunlop 3 days ago 0 replies      
That's a safe position to take for the readership of the Washington Post: "kids don't need all that education -- we're doing fine, despite forgetting basic operations and failing reading comprehension."
nuje 3 days ago 0 replies      
"By any reasonable measure, my friend is a success. His now-grown kids are well-educated. He has a big house in a good part of town. Paid-for condo in the Caribbean. Influential friends. Lots of frequent flyer miles. "

Sounds more like a disaster from the rest of the biosphere's POV.

tyohn 3 days ago 0 replies      
Wow - after reading the comments on this thread I have to say that I am thoroughly disappointed in the HN community. If you replaced the word math(ematics) with a religion of your choice you'd see the same kind of fanaticism you often see from religious zealots.

The God of math has spoken: obey, conform or be cast out...There is nothing other than Me. All other gods require Me to make them whole - in fact you can't even think without Me... Now go forth and preach my wisdom because there is no other wisdom other than Me.

Zendesk CEO calls Freshdesk a freaking rip off - Freshdesk responds ripoffornot.org
304 points by girishm  4 days ago   188 comments top 66
teyc 4 days ago  replies      
HackerNews readers, watch and learn. I'm about deconstruct what is going on.

Anybody who brushes off FreshDesk because of its Indian roots is doing FreshDesk a favour. This is a sharp mind at work and it is lethal.

FreshDesk is executing the standard modus operandi of upstart against an incumbent.

Jobs is a master at it (I'm Apple I'm Microsoft), Calacanis too (remember the SEO controversy, and then the Angel controversy?), and Girish is in the same league. The idea is to frame everything as a controversy, and linkbaits people into discussing it.

Notice how a custom domain is used and it is a mini website, not just a blog post? It is a custom website intended to fuel controversy and will drive a lot of SEO juice from bloggers all over the world. Sit back and watch its PageRank explode.

Girish is also running very hungry by executing a social media campaign. People may not buy from Twitter, but it buys mindshare. It will be a matter of time before FreshDesk gets a good recall rate, as long as it acts heads above other people. The name itself enjoys co-recognition from Freshbooks as well as ZenDesk.

Don't forget, Girish comes with a Zoho pedigree, and this is a company that has bootstrapped itself in India and no one would say the software is anything but world-class.

As for ZenDesk, Girish has stuck a fork into Ben Keepes for the lack of disclosure (by the way, I've been a long time reader of CloudAve, always insightful, even if [I now have to perceived it as potentially] biased), and then masterfully weaves ZenDesk CEO's twitter reply with the overtly racist overtone that cloudavesyd (onya Aussies) "Indian cowboys"-tweet. Note that mikkelsvane wasn't party to the "Indian cowboys" comment, but the way it is put, mikkelsvane sounded like he was in agreement (although to anyone who pays close attention to this type of things, he clearly was talking about something else).

Girish, if you are reading - I'm in Australia, if you could - please don't turn this into a wider "Australians enjoy India bashing meme". We already have a hard time here, and race doesn't factor much if at all in business.

As for ZenDesk, the important thing is to stay above the fray, establish their incumbency, but emphasize their own underdoggedness. Both can play the jingoist game and appeal to emotions.

ecaron 4 days ago 4 replies      
As much as I'd like to side with the guy getting picked on (Freshdesk), Zendesk is completely right. Ignoring the interface and naming similarities, you can't complain about ZenDesk on Twitter without multiple Freshdesk spammers bombarding you. Sure there's nothing illegal about it, but they're obnoxious with the "a customer of a rival is complaining, I MUST CONVERT THEM!" concept.

(I called them a rip-off of Zendesk back in late October - http://mobile.twitter.com/ecaron/status/123594375560302592 - and it took several days for @vshankar90 and @mrgirish to stop harassing me on Twitter...)

hajrice 4 days ago 2 replies      
Disclaimer: I'm the founder of Helpjuice.com. We compete with Zendesk's knowledge base.

This is so rude from Zendesk. In case you think someone has ripped of your product, in any way, you (as the CEO of a 30+ company with 10,000 customers) SHOULD NEVER, EVER write something like that.

I'm 100% with Freshdesk on this one specifically because of the tone of Zendesk and Freshdesk. The way Mikkel responded to Freshdesk is silly and childish.

If someone were to make a knock off of my product, I wouldn't tweet at them like Mikkel did. Or support one of my buddies (who is perhaps disguised as a blogger for blog XYZ) that's trolling a company's image, saying that they're the same as Zendesk. Or calling them Indian cowboys.

Zendesk, I hope you understand that you've turned me (an actual person who supports everything you do, and someone who talks to the folks at Assistly with a great and friendly tone) into someone who honestly hopes you loose this "battle" and have left a nasty look in a lot of people's eyes.

I don't know much about Freshdesk's product, but I know the way they reacted was nice and professional (exactly the opposite of how you responded). +1 on that.

Lesson learned: You don't do marketing by bashing on someone's product without looking like an ass (and perhaps loosing a couple customers).

P.S.: (to the Freshdesk folks) Congrats on stepping up and putting time in to create a page like this. I would have maybe included screenshots of the product to further help your customers understand that you're not a knock off of Zendesk.

sunir 4 days ago 2 replies      
Christian Marth (@cloudgroupsyd)
has a lot of explaining for that ridiculous and risible "Indian cowboy" dig. Twenty times worse because he doubled down on it while backpeddling.
mmaunder 4 days ago 2 replies      
Regarding the initial dispute over trademark: The "desk" part of the name is 'descriptive' and so isn't the strong part of each trademark. The "zen/fresh" parts are arbitrary so are the strong part of each mark. These are distinct, so I don't think there is a valid claim to trademark infringement here. One could argue that "desk" is 'suggestive' in trademark law which makes it a bit stronger, but I don't think that would fly.

If one of the companies can show actual instances of customer confusion, then there may be a case as this is an important test in a trademark case.

The fact that zen haven't filed suit speaks volumes.

jen_h 4 days ago 1 reply      
If you're on the right track, competitors are going to rip you off.

If you're on the right track, competitors are going to try to poach your customers.

If you're on the right track, some competitors are going to talk trash about you when they think no one's looking. Or even when everyone's looking! Using profanity in their Twitter feeds, even!

But just because you're on the right track doesn't mean you can't derail; take the high road and let your customers decide. How you deal with unethical competitors is just one mettle-proving battle in a much larger campaign.

I sympathize with Zendesk, but there are times where it's wiser to just let your tongue bleed out. Let that extra salt sustain you for the more important battles ahead.

tzs 4 days ago 0 replies      
The help desk field is crowded. A quick search reveals that at least half a dozen of the large number of companies in that space have "desk" in their name. Any analyst that thinks that putting "desk" in the name of a help desk product is a "blatant attempt to piggyback" off of another help desk product with "desk" in the name is an idiot or is being paid to make that observation. (In this case, it was the latter, although that doesn't preclude the former).
DevX101 4 days ago 1 reply      
Hey girish,

Can you write a post in a week to let us know how many customers you gained from this? If you can find out how many came from ZenDesk, even better.

j45 4 days ago 2 replies      
This might be a good lesson in don't feed the monster so it gets more attention.

When the big guy talks smack about a presumably smaller guy, it's because they're threatened?

Who cares if their pricing is a rip off, it's good for Zendesk if Freshdesk is a ripoff, because no one will use it. By saying and doing nothing Freshdesk could spiral into a blackhole of me never hearing about it.

Instead Zendesk put Freshdesk on it's own level by talking about it as an equal.

Zendesk used it's brand power to legitimize Freshdesk as an option just by talking about them like this.

Instead of never seeing Freshdesk, I checked out a Zendesk competitor because of Zendesk, with more than normal scrutiny. One feature I now like about Freshdesk is that it manages multiple SLA's.

P.S., I use neither Zendesk or Freshdesk.

omfg 4 days ago 0 replies      
Zendesk should've left this alone. I can't even fathom why they'd start. The products don't look alike. They are takes on the same name, help / support desk, which is a standard name.

I don't want to rag on Zendesk. I've been using them for years. But with stupid remarks like this, their incredibly slow / almost non-existent development on the product, and lackluster support have me keeping an eye out for replacements.

Kind of dangerous with stuff like Assistly looming out there.

That said, I'm not sure an entire domain name was warranted for this. I thought it was just a blog post at first.

kevingadd 4 days ago 2 replies      
Hey, look, Ad Hominems on a domain name registered for the express purpose of an internet flame war between two competitors! It must be Sunday.

I wonder if these tactics actually have a measurable impact on sales?

bjtitus 4 days ago 2 replies      
Looks like I won't be using either of these products.

Think of all that could have been accomplished on the product had they not been squabbling and setting up websites to argue with one another.

No one comes out on top in situations like this. I think it's best to end it with something like: "I'm sorry you feel that way. We'll let the customers decide."

dotBen 4 days ago 0 replies      
Just to point out this was posted to HN by Girish Mathrubootham himself (the Founder/CEO of FreshDesk).

It's worthy of debate, but we'll all feeding this PR stunt (and if some people feel Girish is a troll, then you're feeding a troll too).

And usually it's considered 'poor form' to submit your own stuff to HN.

preek 4 days ago 1 reply      
Quoting Mahatma Gandhi and then immediately writing your name and title under it just seems wrong.
alex_c 4 days ago 1 reply      
All I see are a bunch of self-promotional trolls, on both sides of the "issue".

Is setting up an entire website really a proportionate response to a dumb tweet? (Obviously, it is if you're stirring up controversy).

Seriously, guys... don't feed the trolls. You should know better than this.

billpatrianakos 4 days ago 0 replies      
This is going to hurt Freshdesk more than help. Creating that site was an immature move. They're framing it like this is an issue that anyone besides the guys at Freshdesk cares about. And calling the site "ripoffornot"? Cheap move. I honestly thought I was about to visit a website dedicated to comparing products and deducing who is ripping of who. Then I saw it and I thought "damn, what a cheap, crybaby, attention whore move".

Freshdesk is playing dirty all while trying to convince us that it's the other guys that are playing dirty. I hope we all see through the BS. You don't win hearts and minds by being a bully and they're being bullies while trying to look like victims.

When I see a company do something like this, that's so cheap and obvious, I immediately wonder how desperate they are. They're also doing themselves a disservice by calling attention to the fact that they've been called a ripoff. People's first reactions will be to wonder why they feel the need to defend themselves so vehemently against that sort of thing. If they're not a ripoff then why do they have to work so hard to convince me otherwise? Am I saying they're a ripoff of Zendesk? No, but their actions have now put the idea in my head. Major backfire.

coryl 4 days ago 1 reply      
This is some sort of PR stunt marketing ploy?

Either way I'm not really impressed (I'd guess most consumers aren't impressed) by pointless personal bickering. Marketing based on negative sentiment is not effective.

yangez 4 days ago 0 replies      
This whole thing is really juvenile. The Zendesk guys look a lot worse here, but by making such a big deal out of it and turning it into an obvious PR stunt the Freshdesk folks aren't doing themselves any favors either. I understand it's difficult and highly offensive when a competitor blatantly bashes you but don't overreact and bring yourself down to their level.
freejack 4 days ago 0 replies      
All I want to know is how this got to be the top story on HackerNews. Its a blatant PR grab on one side, and borderline infantile on the other.

Yuck on both counts.

mstroeck 4 days ago 0 replies      
Being first is worthless in and off itself. Execution and customer service are what counts. If you are:

a) an entrepreneur; and

b) think that "rip-offs" like this one are in some way unethical...

... you need to get your head out of your ass, ASAP!

Taking other peoples' great ideas and applying them to make your own product even better is not called "ripping somebody off". That process is called "business".

taylorbuley 4 days ago 0 replies      
Related discussion from when this company launched almost a year ago: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=2341454
nickpp 4 days ago 1 reply      
Zendesk CEO was stupid for paying them attention.

Freshdesk is SCUM. This kind of strategy, of generating controversy and creating "noise" around your company is rooted in the "there is no such thing as bad publicity" belief. It's immoral, and ungentlemanly.

And yes, it is very common with 3rd world companies. I've seen it before. Very often their products ARE rip-off of established market products as well (no idea if this is true in this case though). I suppose it comes from the social corruption and "everything goes" that surrounds life around there. Basically lack of civilization.

It would be very sad if the market rewards them instead of the companies focused on developing a good product, improving it and keeping an atmosphere of cooperation and civility in the industry.

stfp 4 days ago 0 replies      
Interestingly enough, Freshdesk apparently got started when Zendesk raised their prices - and a comment on HN about how this created a market for a cheaper competitor gave them the initial idea. So, at least partly a rip-off in my book.

Source: http://blog.freshdesk.com/the-freshdesk-story-how-a-simple-c...

kennystone 4 days ago 0 replies      
Absolutely a rip-off, but Zendesk was stupid to comment on it.
polemic 4 days ago 1 reply      
This whole spat just highlights one of those truths that's evident to those in the industry:

There is no such thing as a good idea, only good execution.

Being first doesn't count for anything. Having a vaguely similar name doesn't count for anything. In the end, only how well your product works, how many users you can attract and retain, and how much value it provides matter.

benkepes 3 days ago 0 replies      
OK - here goes....

My tweet, "“Seems to me that #Freshdesk is an unethical troll trying to cash in on #Zendesk‘s good name.
But that could just be me….”" was an off the cuff remark. I still think Freshdesk is trying to leverage Zendesk's brand but hey, hat's just my opinion. I do note that other folks in here have commented on the similartiies between the two products, I've reached out to Freshdesk asking to ommuncate with them to review their product - am looking forward to comparing them with Zendesk.

The image on Freshdesk's site showing a Zendesk post with my name on it actually relates to a CloudCamp that Zendesk was helping to spread the message about earlier this year. I run CloudCamps in aus/nz (for free, as in gratis, voluntary, unpaid). So that image is kind of irrelevant - it's kind of like saying that a Red Cross volunteer is somehow in the pocket of a large corporate that sponsors the Red Cross.

That said I did do some writing for Zendesk for their blog - around a year or so ago and not since then. So saying I'm a paid blogger for zendesk is kind of like saying I'm an advocate for mcdonalds since I worked there when I was 15. And for anyone who really cares, I have possibly the most complete disclosure statement of current and past engagements - feel free to cross check any other comments I make... http://www.diversity.net.nz/diversity_analysis/ben_kepes_dis...

Finally, in relation to the comments from Christian Marth about he country of origin of the Freshdesk founders - that I obviously don't condone. Those who know me will see (from the size of my nose if nothing else) that I'm Jewish. My mother spent time in a concentration camp and my Grandfather was murdered by the Nazis because he was Jewish - with that background it's unlikely that I'd be a candidate for pulling the race card.


jmedwards 4 days ago 1 reply      
The whole thing is completely overblown (intentionally so and calculated, of course, by Freshdesk) and was very unnecessary to begin with (on Zendesk's part).

As an Indian-started helpdesk software company ourselves, the 'Indian cowboy' comment raised our brows a bit. It was very unfortunate. But then I realised it was said by a relative nobody. That didn't stop it being used to inflame the situation, though.

Disclosure: I'm from Kayako.com, competitor, the original Original helpdesk and bemused bystander ;-)

jerhinesmith 4 days ago 0 replies      
I was with them up until the quote at the end. At best, it's disputed[1]. It's strange how one small oversight took the wind of the entire argument's sail (so to speak).

[1] http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Mohandas_Karamchand_Gandhi#Disp...

smoyer 4 days ago 3 replies      
I like how MRGirish admits that FreshDesk wouldn't exist if it wasn't for ZenDesk. Doesn't that prove the point?

So my question for FreshDesk is this ... How is your service more innovative than ZenDesk?

tbrooks 4 days ago 0 replies      
There's a political saying that should be heeded, "never attack downward."

You risk more by attacking downward and you have less to gain.

chintan100 4 days ago 0 replies      
Great response. :)

I will be reminded of this incident every time i see the Zendesk logo when i submit a ticket on a site that uses them.

What an awful way to lose respect and damage credibility.

WestCoastJustin 4 days ago 0 replies      
You know you are doing something right when people hate you.. Seems like a odd thing for them to get into a pissing contest with these guys. First of all, you're acknowledging their existence and what can you do to prevent them from doing what they're doing?
lucianomt 4 days ago 0 replies      
"Rip-off"? It's a help desk service for Pete's sake, not the Xerox GUI or the Page-rank. If Freshdesk can deliver the same value to customers for a fraction of Zendesk's cost, kudos to them.
marcamillion 4 days ago 0 replies      
This is a stroke of PR genius.

Agree or not, look at the attention they are getting.

The sales numbers will tell whether or not it was worth it - given that this is essentially free...I can't see how it won't be worth it.

As for Zendesk, anyway you take it, they have a crisis on their hands.

wildgift 4 days ago 1 reply      
They're all freaking rip offs of Request Tracker. :)
jtchang 4 days ago 0 replies      
Wow what a craptastic response from Zendesk. I think it is fine to have a bit of a spar over features in competing products but you have to keep it civil.
paraschopra 4 days ago 0 replies      
As CEO of another Indian startup, I am furious that anybody would drag nationality into this. There are no boundaries on Internet, and certainly Girish rightly says that commenting on nationality simply reflects poorly on his own maturity level.

Aren't most of the products rip-off in some sense? Take Apple, Google, Yahoo or any other company out there. Rarely, if ever, a company comes up with something totally new and innovative that it doesn't resemble anything else in the market. A new category, that is. ZenDesk didn't invent helpdesk system. Instead, like all other companies, they are evolving and perfecting helpdesk systems. FreshDesk is also an attempt at this, (and so is our product Visual Website Optimizer for A/B testing tools).

I wish companies compete in a professional and respectful way, this war of words simply disgusts me.

kumarm 4 days ago 0 replies      
If desk part of the name is Zendesk's issue. There exist multi billion companies with desk in their name (Autodesk) much before anyone thought of Zendesk.
Freshdesk really did good with their response. I never heard of them before and now anyone talks about Zendesk, I will remember Freshdesk.
vbrendel 3 days ago 0 replies      
Freshdesk is a cheap clone. I've tried it.

Once all the dust settles, it will be clear that Freshbooks IS a complete rip-off of Zendesk. 'RipoffOrNot.org'... errrm yes. You could think of worse products to rip off, so in that sense they've done well.

I'm not going to point out the obvious stolen elements. Anyone can see the app is not just inspired, but clearly deliberately copied. They've also spent a lot of time reading all the feature requests on the Zendesk forums. There is also an import feature from only one competing helpdesk product. Guess which one.

At the end of the day, Freshdesk is built exactly like any Zoho product (Girish worked for Zoho). And based on how it feels it might as well be a Zoho product: feature wise it ticks a heap of boxes and it's low cost. But to live with it has many limitations that won't stand up in actual real life, as in this case, the running of a help desk. It's seriously lacking workflow, custom widgets, the 100+ 3rd party integrations, and plenty more settings and customizations that make Zendesk what it is.

Zendesk has many decent alternatives but Freshdesk isn't one of them. If you're actually considering Freshdesk there are a huge amount of alternatives including freemium ones. Mojo Helpdesk comes to mind but really the web is full of them.

foobarbazetc 4 days ago 0 replies      
It's kind of irrelevant, since both services are handily beaten by Assistly.

Well, Assistly before they got bought and couldn't keep their service up.

gws 4 days ago 1 reply      
Very well executed response. If they can execute that well on this I can imagine that they are even better on product development and customer service.

I don't understand the comments against their response. I find shameful that a paid blogger tweet against a competitor with a subjective attack without disclosing the conflict of interest and that the guy paying the blogger chimes in insulting the competitor.

And Ghandi's quote at the end fit so well, I am still smiling :)

nethsix 4 days ago 0 replies      
I'm not arguing for either but trying to state a point. Putting a side-by-side feature list face-off showing you have more features than the incumbent does not in anyway, prove that you are not a rip off. In fact, it probably proves that you are and just trying to outdo the incumbent. There would be little to compare if both were playing in a different area.
collypops 4 days ago 0 replies      
I think everyone's still getting caught up in the Steve Jobs-ness of the past couple of months. CEO's are acting cocky, cause that's what Steve would have done. They're calling out people who they think have stolen their ideas, cause that's what Steve would have done.

What they're completely missing is Steve's greatest lesson: If you want to trample your competitors, just build a better product.

techhacker 4 days ago 0 replies      
Any startup worth its passion will use these opportunities to grab attention (you will be a dumb fool if you don't). So arguing whether Freshdesk is right vs. wrong in putting up this site doesn't really mean a lot.
The only person who has lost credibility in this entire episode is Ben Kepes (ofcourse he started the fire).
orthecreedence 4 days ago 0 replies      
TL;DR: Nu uh!!!! ='''( [Quote comparing us to Gandhi]

I think their response was a bit too involved. They were insulted by some blowhard (CEO or not) and instead of rolling with the punches, they write an emotionally-charged, whiny blog post. Not to mention a name is the stupidest thing to fight over. If you want to see a real rip-off, check out github vs bitbucket.

Just focus on making your product. If you're doing well, some people may turn into little girls and get jealous and throw tantrums. Ignore them and focus on your goals. Engaging in back and forth like this shows nothing but weakness.

Just noticed they actually bought a domain for this. Even worse. I don't see good things in the future for Freshdesk if this is how they respond to an affront. Also, why are they comparing themselves to Gandhi? You've got to be kidding me...?

tlrobinson 4 days ago 0 replies      
I'm less likely to give my money to either of these companies now.

I hate when companies publicly bash each other, even if it's in retaliation.

therandomguy 4 days ago 0 replies      
You must be awfully naive to think that there will be no competitors (with similar features) when you build a product which is relatively simple. If it wasn't listed in bold under the "threat" section of your business plan then something is off.
keeptrying 4 days ago 1 reply      
There's nothing like bad publicity. I never heard of freshdesk before this.

Use the publicity That you've been given freshdesk but don't overdo it!

blissofbeing 4 days ago 0 replies      
I have used both freshdesk and zendesk and have to say I prefer zendesk, freshdesk offers nothing substantial over zendesk.

Having said that I am grateful freshdesk is there to spur some innovation.

haxplorer 4 days ago 0 replies      
http://fakeoffice.org/ - This is how Zoho took advantage of the words of Ron Markezich to get some good publicity and recall against MS Office.

No wonder Girish who is an ex-Zoho did the same with this tweet.

Seems to be a nice way to market your product as a replacement to the current market leader.

diamondhead 4 days ago 0 replies      
What Freshdesk tries to do is redirecting your attention to the similarity of the names. If you really check out Freshdesk, you'll see that they copied Zendesk with no piece of difference!
omouse 4 days ago 0 replies      
It's funny because they could be co-operating instead of competing and be making much more money by targeting different markets.
dools 4 days ago 0 replies      
Man this is classy. Well done Freshdesk.
viveksec 4 days ago 0 replies      
I am Indian and I wish we would lighten up. Things aren't pure as milk here either. There are quite a few Indian companies which ask their employees to use Western names while creating online content such as on support forums, twitter accounts, etc.
yogrish 4 days ago 0 replies      
A fitting response from Freshdesk.Zendesk has to pay for its badmouthing. They started it and Freshdesk is milking the controversy surrounding. May be FD scripted this long before, expecting this attack from zendesk.
avlesh-singh 4 days ago 0 replies      
Blame it on me being a dyslexic kid. What is there to rip-off? I fail to understand what is rocket science in Zendesk that any other customer support tool should not have? Zendesk's reactions are uncalled for.
sarahsflowers 4 days ago 0 replies      
An obvious PR campaign that damages Freshbook's brand perception in my mind. I had no opinion of them before, but this sleazy tactic creates a negative image. I think it helps them to build awareness, but at what cost...
eduardordm 4 days ago 0 replies      
Both sides look silly to me. That's exactly the type of emotional reactions you get from young, technical entrepreneurs. EQ is just as important as IQ if you really want to be relevant in business.
BadassFractal 4 days ago 0 replies      
Delicious drama. Go on.
jblow 4 days ago 0 replies      
Why is this here? How do I downvote the post or recommend it for the "stupid twitter he-said-she-said" category?
therandomguy 4 days ago 0 replies      
Without much research it sounds like Kepes and Svane got pwnd hard.
nemik 4 days ago 0 replies      
szcukg 4 days ago 0 replies      
Krish123456 3 days ago 1 reply      
I started the day off sympathizing with them because I thought Ben was not right in saying they ripped off the name. But now Freshdesk has proved that many of the commentators here are right. They are spammers and they even spam your Google Docs. See the screenshot here. http://twitpic.com/7p0m3o
itmag 4 days ago 0 replies      
Slightly off-topic: anyone got any ideas on how to innovate in this niche? I am always looking to add to my idea pile :) (See here: http://ideashower.posterous.com)
diamondhead 4 days ago 1 reply      
If the Hacker News people need a guide to notice how FreshDesk guys are motivated to draw the attention of people by making bullshit, I'm going to stop reading HN. Shame on you the readers voted this article up.

This is completely bullshit. If you take a look at the website of Freshdesk, you'll see that they stole the design of Zendesk. They probably did it to draw the attention of Zendesk and gather some angry tweets that can be used in such a way you see.

This is the last article I've seen in HN. I'll never enter this website again. Seriously, enough bullshit for a coder.

Time to leave HN alone with the embarrassing promoters and gossip girls.

Thoughts on Python 3 pocoo.org
298 points by michaelty  2 days ago   118 comments top 20
wladimir 2 days ago 3 replies      
"JavaScript is becoming more and more an ubiquitous scripting language that challenges Python"... The Python dev team cannot change these conditions; even if they came up with the perfect programming language tomorrow.

Python3 has some nice features and some that could have been better designed, but personally I don't think it's as bad as this author makes it to be. It's pretty much a logical progression of the 2.x series. Python 3 is being adopted, slowly. I still think it's simply a matter of time, as Linux distributions have plans to move on. No one expected it to go quick.

And I like that Python 3 makes Unicode versus Bytes explicit. There's working with sequences of symbols (for humans) and working with bytes (for machines). I regularly hoped this would be done when working with binary data and making hw interfaces in Python, as there is a lot of confusion regarding bytes/unicode in Python 2 also in libraries...

It was interesting to read some discussion and arguments for/against 3.0, but it could have done with a little less "Python is now doomed" attitude...

jnoller 2 days ago 0 replies      
An excellent Python-Ideas post from Nick Coghlan on things we can tweak:

As well as some other discussion here:

arethuza 2 days ago 4 replies      
"The multimethod based design of the language"

I've only just started looking at Python, but I wasn't aware that it has true CLOS-style multimethods (or multiple dispatch). I know that there are ways you can add multiple dispatch to Python - but is it really accurate to say that the entire language has a design that is based on multiple dispatch?

Note that I'd be rather pleased to find that multimethods are an integral part of Python - they were one of my favourite features of CLOS and I still miss them.

dmbaggett 2 days ago 3 replies      
Key line from the article: "Python 3 [...] changed just too much that it broke all our code and not nearly enough that it would warrant upgrading immediately."

To my thinking, Python, Ruby, and Perl make people productive primarily because of the availability of tons of high-quality packages that "just work". The Python Package Index (http://pypi.python.org) lists 18 thousand packages now. Many are very high quality and require essentially no "impedance matching" to use with Python 2.7 except "import package". If there's a genuine issue with a package, you can usually use a several-line monkey-patch and leave the package source completely untouched. Beauty.

Put simply: there's no way for a language design to make writing code easier than not writing code. IMO, this is why, despite the warts, these languages are winning. JavaScript doesn't have a standardized module/import system, so its packages are fragmented across a dozen frameworks. But this may change if the world settles on "one framework to rule them all" (or maybe two: jQuery for UI and node.js server side).

But Python 3 breaks many of the available Python 2.X packages, and in exchange for improvements that in most cases seem more like tweaks than major design fixes. Things that should be fixed in both branches (e.g., OpenSSL cert validation support) are now relegated to ad hoc patches to Python 2.X, because all the development effort is going into the 3.X series now.

Finally, the biggest improvement to Python IMO hasn't come from the core team at all: it's the absolutely brilliant work being done by the PyPy team. I would love to see "Python 4" merge some of the ideas from the 3.X branch in a fully compatible way with Python 2, and move the standard implementation to PyPY. Among many other benefits, this would allow the Python community to start seriously exploring adding static type-checking facilities to the language, which would make it far more suitable for larger projects. (I'm not saying make Python into Java, but it would be nice to be able to declare types as one can in modern Lisp implementations, and have the compiler both check correctness and optimize using such hints.)

cageface 2 days ago 3 replies      
In fact if you go back in time and look at some of the first versions of Python it's a very, very ugly language and it does not come as a surprise that not too many people took notice of Python in the early days.

This is why I've always found it difficult to love Python. It just didn't seem to me that Guido was familiar enough with previous language designs or had a sufficiently refined sense of language esthetics to be a world-class PL designer. Over time the community has built Python into an extremely practical and useful tool, but I don't think I'll ever derive the same sense of pleasure from writing Python code that I do from languages with a stronger unifying concept like Ruby or Lisp or even OCaml.

nicpottier 2 days ago 2 replies      
I'm actually pretty new to Python, using it daily for the past few years, but I do have to say I have a real uneasy feeling about Py3.

Adoption seems very slow from the various libraries, and without those people just won't move over. And if that's the case, then the language will stagnate, along with the myriad of great libraries that make it so excellent.

Python 2.x suits me just fine right now, it is a pragmatic language that lets me get things done quickly and predictably. But I would be lying if I didn't admit to gazing over Ruby's way now and then and thinking that the grass sure looks green over there.

zephyrfalcon 2 days ago 1 reply      
"In fact if you go back in time and look at some of the first versions of Python it's a very, very ugly language and it does not come as a surprise that not too many people took notice of Python in the early days."

I don't know... Python in the early 90s looked pretty much the same as it does now. Unless you mean that some features (or lack of them) required inelegant workarounds?

I think most machines were just not powerful enough yet in the 90s to make Python a viable solution for many problems. As computers got faster, that became less of an issue. Also, there was already a scripting language with a large following back then (Perl, naturally). Whether it was "ugly" probably had little to do with it. (Quite the contrary in fact, I recall that Python was often perceived as clean, elegant, concise and very readable.)

plq 1 day ago 1 reply      
Yes, porting to Python 3 is more cumbersome than it should be. Yes, some of the decisions (like crippling the byte types, or implicitly changing behavior based on environment variables) turn out to be bad decisions, but it still sounds like there's already some work towards fixing these. As more and more people gets to work with Python 3, that seems normal to me. As we know, "There are only two kinds of programming languages: those people always bitch about and those nobody uses." It seems to me that Python 3 has started to get its healthy dose of bashing, and that's a good thing.

As for my anectodal experience with 2to3: I've recently been working on porting rpclib to Python 3. After skimming the diffs it produced for a simple `2to3 src/rpclib` call, I chose to ignore most of the transformations it applies.

Replacing commas in except statements by the "as" keyword or adding parentheses where missing work just fine. But wrapping every call to dict.keys() inside a list() call? That's bold.

Once 2to3 is tamed[1], I think the code it generates can be maintained. Certainly beats having to get the current exception from sys.exc_info.

[1]: https://github.com/plq/rpclib/blob/master/2to3.sh

yason 2 days ago 5 replies      
I thought Python 3 was already D.O.A. I haven't seen anybody using it nor have I seen any compelling reason to start using it myself, or any reason at all to even keep it on my radar.

When v3 was announced, IIRC even the Python folks themselves actually suggested that people just continue with v2.x until later when v3 becomes mainstream and it never did. In fact, I was surprised to see negative criticism about Python 3. It seems to me that nobody has been using Python 3, and therefore not complaining about it either.

viraptor 2 days ago 1 reply      
Could someone explain this part?

> Now this all would not be a problem if the bytestring type would still exist on Python 3, but it does not. It was replaced by the byte type which does not behave like a string.

I was under impression that bytes is just an array of bytes and provides pretty much what `str` provided. What big thing is missing from that interface?

pitiburi 2 days ago 2 replies      
Are you upvoting it because you agree with the rant, because you think it's time for a new debate over Python 2.8, because you think Python is losing space and turning into the future Pascal, because you hate 2to3, just because you think is nice to have some news about Python...
It would be very interesting if some of you elaborate a little bit on what parts of this article you agree with.
zbowling 2 days ago 0 replies      
I agree on the `estr' idea. I agree that it "punishes you" when you want to try and deal with byte strings. It really gets in the way with handling decoding and encoding of email.
perfunctory 2 days ago 1 reply      
"Python 3 ... does not offer much besides being more “correct”.

Since when correctness is not much?

kbd 2 days ago 1 reply      
What are the downsides of Ruby's alternate approach of having strings be bytes that carry an encoding object around?
dpkendal 2 days ago 3 replies      
Might Perl 6 suffer the same problems? Or will it be saved by virtue of its compatibility mode for Perl 5 code?
DrCatbox 2 days ago 0 replies      
It is very difficult for a developer to support two code-bases, for the "same" language.

The `estr` suggestion is quite welcome.

swdunlop 2 days ago 1 reply      
Python 3 has one really significant problem for me -- many of my dependencies don't support Python 3 well or at all. That keeps me and my own modules locked in Python 2. Python used to be the language that bragged about coming with "batteries included", but it is slowly becoming the language that requires new batteries.
perfunctory 2 days ago 2 replies      
"The multimethod based design of the language"

What is he talking about?

dcolish 1 day ago 0 replies      
For me, the strongest point is about which version of Python everyone uses at work. When you have many commercial users its really difficult to get everyone to move. Python3 is not currently a target for my code at work because just writing the features is a full-time job. The difficulties in porting would not currently be worth the effort and I would have an extremely hard time justifying the ports business value.
ricardobeat 2 days ago 2 replies      
It strikes me that a developer working on the server side doesn't have at least an idea of what POSIX is.
What Eric Schmidt actually said julianyap.com
298 points by jyap  1 day ago   48 comments top 11
officemonkey 1 day ago 1 reply      
This needs to be brought to the attention of most of the bloggers out there that are making hay with that misquote.

Journalism is really in a sad state when a (deliberate?) misquote like that gets all the attention. It's nice to see that someone is actually fact-checking instead of piling on.

Like Android or not, Schmidt has been pilloried in the past 12 hours for a comment he didn't make. I'd expect that some of the more outspoken bloggers print retractions.

d_r 1 day ago 2 replies      
FWIW, if you're interested in how misquotes happen, I highly recommend grabbing "Words that Work" by Frank Luntz [1]. Luntz analyzes extensively how companies and politicians we know regularly get misquoted/misinterpreted due to an unfortunate/awkward choice of words, negligence of the transcribers, etc, etc.

This book has also opened my eyes to the importance of copywriting and clear communication. Each sentence you form to an audience or a customer must be reframed from the point of view of the potential listener, and not from what you think you are saying.

(Not to say that the reporter(s) weren't being negligent here, of course.)

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

andrewfelix 1 day ago 2 replies      
smackfu 23 hours ago 1 reply      
Marco updated his blog post, but with the typical "I don't really want to admit I was wrong" stance. A quote goes from remarkable to unremarkable, you probably should just nuke your entire post and say it was based on a mistake. Not try to say "the basis for me making this post was wrong, but I stand by the rest of it" with the reader left to determine what rest of it is even valid anymore.
damncabbage 1 day ago 0 replies      
I recommend not putting the incorrect quote directly under the "What Eric Schmidt actually said" heading; first skimming that page was rather confusing.
carldall 1 day ago 1 reply      
The sad thing is that, as with most media, this will hardly reach anybody. I guess that the wrong quote will still be around in one years time.
He who screams the loudest defines truth.

I've long wondered if there shouldn't be a better way of handling updating / correcting news items. Especially in newspapers, the wrong headline was largely visible on the front, while the corrected information comes one week later in a small box somewhere in the middle (if it comes).

gautaml 1 hour ago 0 replies      
This is like Fox News style reporting; misquoting everything.
benatkin 1 day ago 0 replies      
I like the mangled quote better, though I don't appreciate the mangling. It doesn't sound negative to me; it would have just been plain speaking about a competitive advantage. The correct quote says essentially the same thing with another thing that isn't interesting (the chairman of a company likes one of their flagship products).
gonzo 1 day ago 0 replies      
Hey, Julian. #1 with a bullet. Cool.

Thanks for the correction.

brudgers 1 day ago 3 replies      
>"The basic stance from Google's perspective is that the Android platform has a significant market share and volume."

There is a bit of jumping to conclusions here.

Given that Schmidt was talking about ICS rather than Android in general and the proportion of Android devices not intended to facilitate OS upgrades, the market for ICS specific applications may not be so well established as to make the author's conclusion the slam dunk as which it is presented.

In other words, Android's existing market share is predominately running pre ICS versions and ICS only fragments it further.

blub 1 day ago 1 reply      
Yes, doesn't sound so nefarious in the video, however I don't particularly want to develop for Google platforms so the outcome concerns me if his prediction turns out correct.

Furthermore, I do not think it is desirable for Google (or Apple) to own a majority of the market.

Please Donate to the Internet Archive archive.org
285 points by cleverjake  2 days ago   44 comments top 13
lincolnwebs 2 days ago 1 reply      
I now own a vibrant community website, started in 2000, that was compromised & erased in 2003. The previous owner had no backups. Hundreds of articles, tens of thousands of forum discussions, and hundreds of thousands comments were lost. We regrouped, and rebuilt the community. Archive.org was the only record left of any of the content, and we grabbed & distributed lost member avatars to quickly make the new site feel like home. I still reference it from time to time to piece together gaps in our history.

If the Internet has any institutions at all, Archive.org is first among them. Donation sent.

mironathetin 2 days ago 1 reply      
The internet archive does a really good job. Why isn't it possible to establish a payment for good work in the internet? The fact that everything has to be free lead us to the really evil use/abuse of private data by the likes of Google, Facebook etc.

I think we need a good idea to assure payment also for internet services. Lets face it: nothing is free in this world. It sometimes just looks as if.

Donation send for this time. But if someone has a good idea how to finance good services, please speak. (I think, Mozilla might listen too).

groaner 2 days ago 2 replies      
I had to dig through their site to find this, as it wasn't immediately noted on their donation page, but they are a 501(c)(3) non-profit and donations should be tax-deductible for US taxpayers.


jmspring 2 days ago 0 replies      
Going to http://archive.org the only notification for "donate" is a text link in "announcements". It seems like they could make the link a bit less subtle, but still be tasteful.

I specifically went to the page looking for how to donate (rather than going through the linked to blog post.

Groxx 2 days ago 0 replies      
Absolutely. It's the only way to find a huge chunk of the internet, and it's been endlessly useful to me. Second only to Wikipedia, I'd say, though it's a lot less well-known.
cleverjake 2 days ago 0 replies      
If there ever was a perfect example of "don't be a free user", this would be it.
djenryte 2 days ago 1 reply      
I was walking home yesterday and saw a small sign denoting the Internet Archive building on Clement and Funston St. in Inner Richmond, SF. A bit surreal seeing the Archive of the Internet(!!) housed in white pillared building. And today, here it is on the fp of hn.


plusbryan 1 day ago 0 replies      
I had the pleasure of meeting brewster through a free event I was putting on some time ago. He is a remarkably generous man, in all senses of the word. Donation sent.
sneak 2 days ago 2 replies      
Fell out of the funnel when they asked me to create an account on JustGive. I don't use PayPal.

Give me a form I can type my payment details in, and I'm game.

av500 2 days ago 1 reply      
when I read the headline, I thought they meant content, not money. I was ready to mail them a few harddrives with worthy "stuff"...
wootish 2 days ago 2 replies      
It would have been nice if they did not have the "minimum $10" clause. I am sure there should be a lot of students and third world people willing to help within their means.
VoxPelli 2 days ago 0 replies      
They have twenty donations waiting for them on Flattr: https://flattr.com/thing/425480
maximusprime 2 days ago 2 replies      
160 employees? that seems like a lot to me. So no, sorry, I'm not going to donate. I'd rather donate to charities that really need money.
Instant CSS, JS, HTML or DOM documentation dochub.io
279 points by steren  3 days ago   48 comments top 24
jsdalton 3 days ago 5 replies      
I continue to enjoy keeping an eye on these single-page style web apps for very basic content applications. I have a feeling this was pretty quick and easy for the developers to put together.

That said, a few things jump out at me that make me think this approach isn't ready for primetime (or to be more precise, takes a lot more work to make it ready for primetime)

* Individual properties are not reflected in the URL, meaning I couldn't copy and paste a link to someone

* This is using a plain hash instead of a hash bang, which, correct me if I'm wrong, means sub pages are not hit by search engines

* If javascript is disabled and I load this, I get a blank screen.

It's this kind of thing that makes me fearful of pursuing this approach for more serious projects...

rgarcia 2 days ago 1 reply      
A little background: this started as a hack I made to have quick access to CSS docs: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=3222253

Since then, with the help of HNer vecter, it's expanded to encompass some more things. The goal right now is to expand this into a more general documentation/code search.

Thanks for the feedback!

maratd 2 days ago 0 replies      
For those that want to install this locally or just to look at the code, see here:


hswolff 2 days ago 0 replies      
Awesome job! I wanted to do something similar and I'm glad I was beaten to the punch. Keep iterating on the project, the idea itself and the execution has a lot of room for growth and 'betterness'. Kudos.
2arrs2ells 2 days ago 3 replies      
Does anyone else read the url as "do chub"? DocHub.io might be a better way of presenting the URL.
generalk 2 days ago 0 replies      
There was another "instant docs" site posted to HN a while back that had the same issue this one has: there's no delay between keyup and pushState(), so if I mistype and backspace a few times I've got a dozen entries in my history.
morrow 2 days ago 0 replies      
I created a similar project (CSS docs only) after seeing the original version of this posted here and thinking of some improvements (instacss I think it was called). My version uses the HTML5 history API and runs off of static files (scraped with ruby). If anyone is interested:



kirchhoff 3 days ago 0 replies      
Seems to break the back button.
paulrouget 2 days ago 1 reply      
The content comes from MDN (Mozilla Developer Network).
kaichanvong 3 days ago 1 reply      
It looks great... but why so slow?
adrianwaj 2 days ago 0 replies      
Great. Ideas:

- outline the currently selected item in the left column as clicked (and remember the setting between sessions)

- allow the shifting of the left column over to the right side (and remember the setting between sessions)

- allow searches by the url (that can jump to the first result)

- optional: dot each property/function that is new to the latest release of that modality (for learning purposes)

perfunctory 2 days ago 0 replies      
It took more than 10 sec to load. How is that instant?
dlf 2 days ago 0 replies      
This is a gem. For someone who just recently learned HTML and CSS (about 6 months ago) I can usually remember just enough to get it wrong. It's handy that you can just start typing and get to the right thing.
mrjd 2 days ago 0 replies      
It's cool but the lack of unique url's and back button is a shame. Hopefully that gets sorted.
deepkut 2 days ago 0 replies      
Wow, extremely helpful. Thank you for this tool. Though it did take 2-3 seconds to load (which resulted in me refreshing the page thinking it wasn't working), the documentation is fantastic. I appreciate the contribution!
jQueryIsAwesome 2 days ago 0 replies      
A lot of info missing, including insertBefore and appendChild on the DOM section
blorenz 2 days ago 0 replies      
I'm hoping this becomes my source of front-end reference goodness! It is quite usable in its current state and has potential for reference of jQuery and other library/API inclusion. Great work!
theprestig3 2 days ago 0 replies      
Why is it that every time I see a .io domain, I'm not surprised there using the cliche twitter bootstrap. Other than the lack of originality in design, I think it's pretty useful. Although I would like to see some decent HTML5 documentation. It's not unusual for me to search several websites for HTML5 docs. Would be nice to have a 1 stop place for HTML5 and the related languages. Keep up the good work, great project!
sealo 2 days ago 0 replies      
Why this hasn't existed in some form on the W3C site from day 1 is beyond me. good job!
Hexx 2 days ago 1 reply      
It doesn't seem to be working in IE8 at all for me. Like blank page except for the feedback button on the right.
strager 2 days ago 0 replies      
Similar, but more speedy, less comprehensive (ES5-only), and doesn't break your back button: http://www.javascripture.com/
jtokoph 2 days ago 0 replies      
Thank you for locking my back button.
abailin 2 days ago 0 replies      
Nice use of Twitter Bootstrap
The Rise of Developeronomics forbes.com
264 points by ryanackley  3 days ago   118 comments top 25
bambax 3 days ago  replies      
> if you are a baker with a small business, you are effectively useless, not because bread isn't important, but because surviving in the bread business is now a matter of having developers on your side who can help you win in a game that Yelp, Groupon and other software companies are running to their advantage

I don't think this is true right now; I very much doubt it will ever be true.

I live within walking distance of not less than five excellent boulangeries and have never used any sort of "social" tool or other technology to select the one I'm going to buy bread from. I try them all regularly, know what they do well or less well (one is better at croissants than the others) and basically go to the one that offers the best version of the product I'm looking for.

Looking for "bargains" in bakery is asking for trouble; choosing your bread according to your "social network" (who's composed of people who do not live right next to you) sounds completely useless.

It doesn't seem like bakers need to worry about Groupon, or Yelp. Is this just a poor example or am I missing something?

sumeetjain 3 days ago 5 replies      
At the end of the article, the author explains how "once a good developer recognizes his/her own value, [she turns] to either an individualist-mercenary mindset or a collectivist guild-like mindset."

He elaborates on the "guild-like mindset":

> The other kind of developer turns to guild-like structures, which serve as centers of balance-of-power politics in the constant wars against the developer-capitalists. Except that instead of taking on the dynamics of class warfare along an upper-lower dimension, the conflict takes the form of exit warfare along an inside-outside dimension. Rather than form a union to negotiate with management, the talented developer will simply exit a situation he/she does not like, and use guild-like resources to move to a better situation. Stock options are simply not as effective in limiting mobility as the power of Russian nobility to whip serfs into immobility once was.

I've tried to make sense of what that means, but I'm lost in the balance-of-power, upper-lower/inside-outside, and guild references. If someone has a moment, could they please explain this paragraph in clearer terms? Perhaps as a basic narrative of what a guild-minded developer would do when she recognizes her value?

msluyter 3 days ago 1 reply      
As a developer ages, and finds it harder and harder to switch technologies, at some point, he or she is considered hooked for the rest of their natural lives to some technology " Java or C++ or the Facebook API say " that they can be expected to grow old with.

Sigh. ::Closes eclipse. Googles "ruby tutorials"::

jerf 3 days ago 2 replies      
My "telling me what I want to hear" cognitive alarm bells are going off.

On the other hand, this is simply the flip side of the frequently-heard argument around here that technology is driving people who can't cope out of the ability to hold a job at all, because they become unable to produce value in excess of what they cost. If that is true, then it follows that as the supply of people who can still be productive in the new economy drops, then they must also go up in price.

dpritchett 3 days ago 1 reply      
The individualists turn into hard bargainers as they carefully probe their own market value and frequently re-negotiate relationships. They carefully invest in keeping their skill-base current and avoiding being shunted into the sunset end of the ecosystem for as long as possible. This sort of developer likes to hedge bets, stay invested in multiple projects and keep one foot in the open source world at all times. They position themselves for massive upsides when that is a possibility, and the ability to walk away from failures with their own reputations intact where there is real risk.

Full agreement on this point. Once I started looking at my own career from this perspective I couldn't stop. Books like The Passionate Programmer and The Pragmatic Programmer as well as heaps of prose from pg, patio11, edw519, and tptacek guide my continuing quest for increased leverage.

localhost3000 3 days ago 1 reply      
if this guy believes what he writes, why isn't he a developer? certainly these are skills that would be worth investing his time in. is it because he fancies himself a 'capitalist'? The cat fell out on this one when I reached his parenthetical, half-joking-but-not-really-wink-wink plea for a 'star' iOS developer to come out of the woodwork and build whatever ipad app is on his mind...nice of the forbes people to give him an audience for his recruitment pitch... content on the web has become so self-serving... i miss reading, and awkwardly trying to fold, the printed nytimes. yea, i said it.
pnathan 3 days ago 1 reply      
There are several layers the author is arguing.

First, he is telling developers that they are awesome. That's nice to hear, and of course will guarantee a friendly reception by developers. :-)

Secondly, he is arguing that all businesses will be heavily software driven, and if they don't invest in IT, they will be winding up buying from a "cloud" provider.

Thirdly, he is arguing that management needs to take a long position on hiring(non-pedantic note: a long position is where you expect a stock to go up, it is the "buy low sell high" approach), because it will pay off massively. Investing into software creators on the 50-year plan will provide heavy returns, because business are becoming software-ized, and it will pay off.

I think in the scope of the next fifty years, the author is correct in that software will be one of the core strata of societies across the board (I don't see us there yet by a long shot - some places don't even have electricity still).

brc 3 days ago 1 reply      
I enjoyed this article, with the mindset of there are kernels of truth overlaid with layers of rhetoric and bandwagon hitching.

I think though, that for the general audience it is intended for, it might wake a few people up to the fact that software is a core competency for just about every business and not a cost centre, and that competitors who can use software well are well positioned to outstrip those who can't.

Further to that point is that, to get good software, you need good developers. And if you aren't actively trying to work out how to get the best developers, you're getting the leftovers.

This fits neatly into the point I was making recently about government projects always being doomed because they end up with bad developers on projects with too many owners, and that governments everywhere should just buy off-the-shelf solutions and fit their way of working to them, rather than the other way around.

zwieback 3 days ago 0 replies      
After the first page I was waiting for the "but seriously" part of the article. Are we already too young to remeber WebVan? And the promised method of investing in developers never really materialized.

Anyway, I don't think this article is going to help the author find the "technical cofounder" he's looking for. The fact that he even uses that term pretty much guarantees that he's not going to find a 10xer, even if that mythical creature existed.

I for one can't wait for the social bubble to burst so programmers can flow back into the currently neglected branches of software development - we're getting old and lonely and could use some fresh talent.

berntb 3 days ago 0 replies      
Reading stuff like this reminds me of 1999, when the bottom fell out of the job market a few years later:

>>You need to find a way to invest in software developers.

Sigh, the gold rush will start again...

lazyBilly 3 days ago 0 replies      
Ok, I'm calling it-- when I find myself getting a bunch of hot air blown up my skirt by Forbes, we're officially in a tech bubble.

That said, I found the point about being a capitalist or a commodity relevant to the startup scene in many important ways. There are a lot of people who want me to be very smart with code and very stupid with money.

hn_reader 3 days ago 4 replies      
I'm on page two of the story but I am already starting to doubt the writer's basic understanding of technology and question whether continuing to read it is a waste of time:

1) "If your bakery doesn't have an iPhone, it will soon be at the mercy of outfits like Yelp." - What does that even mean?

2) "A little known fact about Google, for instance, is that its investment in Python (one of the three languages the company uses for its work)" - Gonna go out on a limb here and state that Google uses more than three languages.

tryitnow 3 days ago 0 replies      
I think this "Developeronomics" article is a perfect example of what this other article was referring to: http://blogs.hbr.org/pallotta/2011/12/i-dont-understand-what...

Honestly, I think there are some interesting ideas there but I am not sure if those ideas are the author's or just a random collection of memes he picked up from the Internet.

veyron 3 days ago 0 replies      
Key takeaway: "For practical purposes, [developers] are [products], since the vast majority of them haven't found a way to use their own scarcity to their advantage"
victorbstan 3 days ago 0 replies      
For a Forbes article on developers, there sure are a lot of markup mistakes showing up throughout the text...
pw 3 days ago 4 replies      
Anyone know how to toggle a single-page/print view for this?
moocow01 3 days ago 1 reply      
This guy is a bit too heavy handed in technology is everything and provides some not so convincing examples. I get his point but I'm pretty skeptical that the bakery's core business is now software - in fact I'd rather not taste the products of a bakery that has a core business of software. Yes software is becoming increasingly important to business but many times (ouside SV) software is a tool to better the core service but not the core service itself.
mncolinlee 2 days ago 0 replies      
Clearly, there's one thing critically wrong with his hypothesis. A developer is never actually tied down to any one technology. We're human beings, not cogs, and our fundamental programming technologies are all derived from the same basic, mathematical algorithms.

I started programming when I was six years old. BASIC on the TRS-80 Model 1. I aggressively studied programming because I thought computer games were cool, not because job prospects were hot.

If a recruiter today tried to tell me that I had to stick to BASIC on TRS-80 because I started out there, I'd think he was nuts. Many recruiters actually believe this ludicrous idea and ARE nuts. It's not "re-inventing yourself" to learn a new programming language mid-career or at any time. Good hackers know it's simply learning another way to apply your skills to a new set of challenges.

TheRevoltingX 3 days ago 0 replies      
I've noticed in my industry that those who can't program, manage.

Those who manage, tend to blog more because they have less to do in front of a computer.

Kind of a useless and filled with false assumptions.

josscrowcroft 3 days ago 0 replies      
I read all of this but had the uncanny feeling that it could have been said in about 10% of the space. Lots of waffle and fluff. Good points though ... I think? I can't hardly even remember what page 1 was about.
devilant 3 days ago 1 reply      
The ideas in this article are eerily reminiscent of what people were saying in the late '90s/early '00s, particularly with respect to companies like Enron. Malcolm Gladwell wrote an article making the opposite point to this one. http://www.gladwell.com/2002/2002_07_22_a_talent.htm

I suspect after the bubble pops we'll be reading 'the talent myth'-type articles in Forbes.

siculars 3 days ago 0 replies      
"When the last veterans of the earliest still-in-use software layers start to die, we will be in historically unprecedented territory."

So true, so true. We have already seen a spate of that this Fall, unfortunately.

IsItSafe 2 days ago 0 replies      
He may not get every single detail right, but his overarching thesis is correct (or at least very useful), IMO. The author provides a good model for /thinking/ about these issues, even if some things could use a cleanup (including the formatting.)
kandu 3 days ago 1 reply      
How hard is to convert to developers adults with training in other areas, but with presumed cognitive skills suitable for programming? I am thinking of people of 35-50 years old, that would be intelligent enough (i.e., there would be just a percentage of this cohort that would be fit for becoming developers), but who, from various historical and personal reasons, work in industries where the prospects are less interesting than in programming.

Are there any studies showing how the potential to learn programming decreases (or not) with age? I have looked on Google Scholar but I found nothing.

cliftonk 3 days ago 0 replies      
> Risk Management in Software Talent Investment

Stopped reading one paragraph into that section.

Knyle Style Sheets warpspire.com
260 points by fbuilesv  3 days ago   26 comments top 11
jeremymcanally 3 days ago 0 replies      
I love this; I've needed this on nearly every project I've ever worked on for various reasons. Either someone doesn't remember what a class looks like or doesn't apply it properly or the designer named things ambiguously on accident. You end up with some styles applied properly and others ignorantly thrown around because no one really understands how the CSS is laid out besides the designer.

Adding it to a project will put some more work on designers, but it's nothing they probably shouldn't be doing already.

akdetrick 3 days ago 0 replies      
Duplication is probably the easiest mistake to make with CSS, and using authoring languages like LESS and SASS won't necessarily help. Duplication not only causes bloat, but it can lead to specificity wars and poorly performing selectors. Worse yet, it becomes more difficult to trust the code already in place, and easier to write your own styles to perform tasks that some other code already handles.

This is the death spiral of CSS, and it's refreshing to see someone take on this problem directly (aside from teaching a methodology for writing CSS).

Automated documentation for CSS is a fantastic idea, and this looks well executed.

FuzzyDunlop 3 days ago 3 replies      
CSS is almost too flexible to be able to stick to some sort of convention. I find myself trying to code in one style, and then doing it differently or disliking it on a different project.

I try to make some of it self-documenting, so will only class out a particular element then, through CSS, enforce a strict order of child elements by using the direct descendant/sibling selectors, etc. I'll usually include the element hierarchy in the definition where necessary. But then I don't like it because there's so much repetition.

    body > header { ... }
body > header > h1 { ... }
body > header > h1 + small { ... }


    div#sidebar > form#login-form input,
div#sidebar > form#login-form select
{ ... }

Why is there nothing (without Less/Sass/some other package) like

    div#sidebar > form#login-form (
input, select { ... }
label { ... }

That KSS attempts to better document CSS is great, and I'll certainly look into that more. But in some ways I think the difficulty comes from CSS itself being pretty flat when a DOM tree is anything but. And for the sake of easy re-use and documentation, sometimes you'd rather not just have a huge list of styled classes and IDs to wade through when you really don't need that many.

Meai 3 days ago 2 replies      
This seems complicated, it would be cool to have something like this for non-ruby guys. If I understand correctly, I need to write a ruby parser myself in order to use this. Much easier would be a binary which just takes all files in a directory by default, and creates an html with a default template. If I want to customize it, let me customize it by comment syntax, not ruby code.
dfischer 3 days ago 0 replies      
Yay, I'm glad it's happening.

I've been saying this for a while now (yes, I should be doing more than saying)... CSS needs a modern agreed-upon community standard for implementation.

This is really important at the front-end development layer when you're doing CSS inside of an application. There's too much variance in style between projects and frameworks. We need to commit to a general guideline, especially one that incentivizes good standards.

This is a step in the right direction.

I was supposed to do a presentation on this very topic but then a hurricane got in the way (magma rails).

jharding 3 days ago 2 replies      
Great idea. My one issue with it is that it seems kind of difficult to use. Ideally, using this would consist of passing the files I wanted a style guide generated for to KSS and it would take care of the rest.

I'm definitely going to keep my eye on this project over the next few weeks. Something like this is badly needed and I can't wait to see where KSS goes.

superk 3 days ago 0 replies      
I had a similar idea - a living styleguide derived from the css. I envisioned it in 3 parts:

* A way to transform css into html (https://github.com/aglemann/css2html)

* A simple webserver that would detect a stylesheet, run it through the transformer and serve up the html styleguide (https://github.com/aglemann/instant-styleguide)

* A methodology for architecting your css for use with the two technologies (coming soon?)

All the pieces work, I need to do a blog post about it ;)

jostmey 3 days ago 0 replies      
I'm upvoting this simply because of the author's statement that "few people truly comprehend" CCS and that "CSS is complicated". So true.
thedaniel 3 days ago 0 replies      
10 points to Griffindor for the Knylefile.
agscala 3 days ago 2 replies      
What makes this any better than SASS or LESS?
bjornsteffanson 3 days ago 0 replies      
Who names shit after themselves anymore?
Tell HN: You said not to. So I quit my job and started. 5 mos later: OpenPhoto
238 points by jmathai  2 days ago   137 comments top 49
physcab 2 days ago 4 replies      
You should try A/B testing your copy.

I don't understand the concept of openness and liberation as it applies to photos. To me, those are political concepts, not technological ones. Maybe I'm not in your target market, but to me it makes much more sense to tie "sync" and "share" to your copy more so than "open" and "liberation".

For example, if the name of your service was PhotoSync, and then if I went to the front page and saw a comparison between your service, Facebook, Flickr, and ICloud, I'd be very curious to see what you could offer over the options available to me.

Best to ride the coattails of those companies that have invested orders of magnitude more money to educate the market than to educate them yourselves.

viraptor 2 days ago 3 replies      
> curl https://... | /bin/bash

Really? At least it's https, but how about building a proper package nightly, or commit-ly? You already assume ubuntu and apache, so this could be just a static, easily uninstallable deb. The script makes loads of dangerous assumptions.

"apt-get upgrade --assume-yes --quiet" - please don't assume stuff about other people's systems.

"apt-get install loads_of_stuff" - this effectively makes it impossible to remove all unneeded deps later on.

"ifconfig eth0 | grep 'inet addr:' | cut -d: -f2 | awk '{ print $1}'" - that's bound to fail in many cases - either return just, or try to find the actual default interface:

    DEV=$(ip r l match 0 | grep -Po '(?<=dev )\S+')
IP=$(ip a s dev $DEV | grep -Po '(?<=inet )[^/]+')

Otherwise - I like the idea :)

wasd 2 days ago 5 replies      
If I could make one suggestion, please make it more clear what your website and service does. The front page mentions that I have total "photo liberation" but that's just sort of buzz. I clicked on "overview" (not sure how many people would make it that far) and the headline is "Like WordPress for Photos" but if I wasn't tech savvy, I would have no idea what WordPress does. I spent about 2 minutes on the website (much longer than any consumer) and I still didn't quite get it.

Also, on the see the difference page it might help to compare yourself to Flickr and other photo services.

I don't mean any disrespect or offense, I just don't think your website is immediately clear.

tsunamifury 2 days ago 1 reply      
Have you considered that professional media organizations currently pay north of 15-20k dollars a year for cloud photo storage apps that merely read and organize the metadata?

In fact I have someone at NPR right now looking for this exact service, but made whitelable/private for internal use.

Not saying thats a direction, but just an FYI

joebadmo 2 days ago 1 reply      
This makes me kind of tingly inside. It feels like the beginning of a viable 'personal cloud.'


I can't seem to find anything about access control, though, (who can see which photos). Is anything like this in the works?

Anyway, this looks awesome, and I'm excited to get started when I get home from work tonight!

OoTheNigerian 2 days ago 1 reply      
Hey man,

Great idea. I have a few suggestions.

1. Take advantage of the traffic!! Even though I do not have an invite, create a way take my email address so when there is more space, you can tell me. You have my attention now, use it.

2. Describe Open-Photo in English. I am sure you do not want this to be for developers only. 90% of people do not really care if it is open source or understand the 'liberated data' terminology. :)

Here is what I think you are building: The ultimate photo backup and organization platform. The very first place you put all your photographs. From there you decide what to post on FB, Picassa or Flickr. Best of all, you control it all.

3. Use the Gowalla shut down as PR. Imagine all the photos that were shared there; people have suddenly been told to take their shit by Jan. Describe how with OpenPhoto would have made things different for the user. tptacek things the users are owed nothing, therefore with open photo, they can take care of themselves. See (http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=3318527)

4. Find how to make money out of this. We want you to be on this project in 10 years and for that to happen, you have to make money. Your bills will only keep increasing. You can think of the WP model or something.

All the best and keep us updated.

angdis 2 days ago 2 replies      
This is an extremely compelling idea for users who run their own websites. However, it is not clear what the pricing trade-offs are for a consumer (for example flickr) user.

I would want to transfer my stuff out of flickr right away if there was a non-painful way to determine how much I'd be paying to amazon for s3 storage of my photos. I have thousands of photos, but haven't actually counted them. Is there an easy way from within flickr to compute the total storage I'd need?

Flickr-pro has been a very good deal at $25/year (for virtually unlimited storage with some annoying terms/conditions). What will OpenPhoto be priced at?

Maro 2 days ago 1 reply      
Some feedback:

I think you should make your landing page clearer. Having looked at it, I don't really know what OpenPhoto is. It's not clear where to click to get a simple explanation. Maybe you should put up a short 1-minute video.

I think the liberation angle is not a good pitch. I'm a paying Flickr user, but the primary storage for my photos is iPhoto / my hard drive. I just use Flickr for sharing, so I'm not worried.

I don't think you should compete on price. As you know, Flickr costs $25/year, which is already low enough to just not matter.

Some issues:

1. My 'Pictures' folder is currently 76GB. On S3, that would cost $127.68/year to store. There's no way I'd pay that much.

2. Once it's on S3, browsing and photo editing would be dog-slow.

3. Would your Web UI be as nice as Flickr's?

yllus 2 days ago 1 reply      
I'll join the others in saying congratulations and good work. I'm interested in using OpenPhoto myself, but like a few others who commented I'm a little unsure of what I get out of it.

If you don't mind a bit of hopefully helpful criticism, perhaps change the three-item rotator at the top of http://theopenphotoproject.org/ to the following:

- A gorgeous web album to show off your photos (getting across that a Flickr-like interface to view photos comes with the product)

- Free mobile app for iOS and Android (getting across that a mobile app interface to view photos comes with the product)

- Take back your photos (change the long description here to state more clearly that you have full file-level access to your photos, hosted on a server you "own")

- Free, open and easy to use (perfect as it is)

- Flexible API & apps (perfect as it is)

That initial point-form section should get across everything you need to know, and I don't think it currently does. Lastly, I'd love an invite if you wouldn't mind sending one to sully AT yllus DOT com.

libraryatnight 2 days ago 1 reply      
I was one who donated to your Kickstarter for early access, and I am pleased with your results so far. I just wanted to comment and thank you for your hard work.
a3camero 2 days ago 1 reply      
You're living the HN dream by quitting your job to do your own thing, so how's it going? Are you better off doing this than working at Yahoo?

I'm sure other people are curious too.

ljlolel 2 days ago 1 reply      
This is a brilliant idea. Screw diaspora, this is a trend toward the first viable open source Facebook killer. Disruptive innovation in a product with not enough features redefining the game.
jmathai 2 days ago 0 replies      
nhangen 2 days ago 0 replies      
You are indirectly competing with something I'm working on, so I won't comment on the business, but I will say that I thought your old site design was 100x better. Why did you change?
__ingrid__ 2 days ago 0 replies      
I agree with other comments you need to change your wording on the home page. I'm not really sure who you're pitching this to, but if it's to a non-technical crowd you need to simplify it. It would also be great if you made a page with examples of how to use OpenPhoto, because there seem to be many possibilities, but reading the home page didn't make me think of them.

That being said, I majored in Game Development and I could definitely see the artists in the program using this for their portfolios. Most of them use Deviant Art portfolios (http://portfolio.deviantart.com/) which is not fully customizable and doesn't look very professional. Some of them bug a technical friend to help them make a real site but then it becomes hard for them to maintain it on their own. There are artists at my schol who make their own site, but it is a small group, and an even smaller subset of them have NICE looking sites.

EDIT: Oops, typo.

tgrass 2 days ago 1 reply      
Screen capture.
Your heading elements are off (javascript issue?) - Chrome


dazbradbury 2 days ago 1 reply      
I find it strange you suggest web users should no longer trust services like flickr/facebook/picasa to stay around and keep hold of your precious photos, but you're aiming at consumers and guiding them to services such as S3/Dropbox...

Why is S3/Dropbox more likely to stick around than anything else?

I get that you offer hosting on essentially any filesystem, but the main message is somewhat mixed, don't you think?

tmcw 2 days ago 0 replies      
Hooray! When this becomes generally available, I'll be totally in. Love the concept.
EvanYou 2 days ago 1 reply      
You really need to think about how to make your website more consumer friendly. I read through the entire front page and couldn't figure out what exactly this product is and how it works to achieve all the liberation you're talking about. If your front page fail to pinpoint the core value to a non tech-savvy customer, it's unlikely to be picked up by mainstream attention.
ark15 2 days ago 1 reply      
Great start! +1 to the fact that you got something out.

In one of the comments you say "You should use this if you care about having a central repository of all your photos, owning and controlling them and want some level of choice."

Sounds nice except that I still don't understand what it exactly means.

If you take some typical photo management workflow/use cases of typical people-who-take-photos-of-their-family-and/or-pets, and then explain how openphoto improves it, it will help.

My typical use case -
-Photos (& videos) are dumped into a folder on a computer. (Usually sub folder in the format YYYY-MM-OptionalOccasion)
-Use Picasa to upload to, er, picasa (paid picasa user)
-Selectively share albums with friends and family
-(Separate backup process backups everything on computer including these photos)

If you can tell me how openphoto will improve this part of my life, I am willing to listen and maybe even open my wallet.

samstave 2 days ago 2 replies      

Can you please send me an invite code? sam [at] sstave.com

Seriously - I MUST have this. I have wanted this for years.

Please email me an invite.

perssontm 2 days ago 1 reply      
Really nice, I've been waiting for this and checking it out from time to time during the autumn.

A few screenshots of a real gallery would have been nice, or a feature list. Its really technical as of now.
The oneline installer looks really cool, but a bit scary, the script looked safe though, so I might try that.

Great work, will try it out in the near future. :)

mikegreenberg 2 days ago 1 reply      
I haven't had an opportunity to delve into the technicalities of your value prop, but why not dovetail your efforts with projects like LockerProject or ThinkUp which are also open source. They have a vision very much in-line with yours (at first glance) and have an established userbase which is growing as well. Wouldn't some consensus between these data-liberation projects benefit the userbase more than having a separate photo-liberation app?

These are honest, sincere questions and not intentionally poopoo-ing on your well-earned success.

BasDirks 2 days ago 0 replies      
You might want to tweak your css, whitespace especially, it's all just a bit off. ik@basdirks.eu if you want me to take a look at it, of course gratis.
thom 2 days ago 1 reply      
It seems like every year a product comes along that "changes everything", just when I'm getting the hang of everything. :(
viggity 2 days ago 1 reply      
this looks like an awesome project, I'll definitely sign up, but how are you going to make any money? Sure, the $25K from kickstarter was nice, but how are you going to continue to make money?
jgeerts 2 days ago 1 reply      
Great site and I wish you the best of luck, there is (was?) indeed a need for a personal photo storage service that is not Flickr, Picasa, Facebook or Dropbox.

One thing that I would change in the overview, give a hint of how the pages for the user will look like, not a bunch of small text. I don't think that anyone will read the text, but they will take 3 seconds to check out your sites features.

And also, add more invites... ;)

richardkmichael 2 days ago 1 reply      
This is very inspiring and congratulations! The overall site design is quite nice, and others have commented on the amount of text on the Overview page.

Could you discuss 1/ your business model (is it just paid premium features on the hosted version?) ; 2/ how you decided $25k would be good to start with on Kickstarter ; and (unrelated) 3/ what happened to thescholarapp.com (ad-parked now - whatever was there is gone)?

Excited to see where you go with OpenPhoto!

angryasian 2 days ago 1 reply      
at this time is this basically just a prettier s3 console/dropbox, interface ?

edit: honest question cause I can't use the service.

ednc 2 days ago 2 replies      
Like the concept, and have been looking for something like this for all the baby photos.

- The checkboxes for DropBox vs S3 should be radio buttons.
- The hover text for Dropbox vs S3 should also work on the selection control (not just the text). It was not obvious how to find it. A little (info) icon on the end would be even better.

Add some more invite codes, and I'll get in there and send more feedback. :-)

carlsverre 2 days ago 1 reply      
More invites would be awesome! This looks great! :)
jmathai 2 days ago 0 replies      
Completely respect your perspective but you should read the comments on this thread now that the service exists. It's much different from before it did.

Also, the idea did raise $25k on Kickstarter from over 400 backers. Curious why you feel that no one is interested in it. From what you said, you're probably not the target market.

I've spent the entire day responding to inquiries, here's a sample: https://twitter.com/#!/OpenPhoto/favorites

I have no idea if people will use or pay for this type of service. So far it's looking good though.

four 2 days ago 0 replies      
Yup. I'm in. Been waiting since Kickstarter announcement.
Yes, website copy, UX need work.
Tweeted you for an invitation.
Thinking of putting OP+S3 under the tree for family gifts.
Go get 'em!
chintan 2 days ago 1 reply      
Great project. Any special reason why you chose PHP? Was it to attract WP-devs?
test001only 2 days ago 1 reply      
The font you used for heading seems to be not working in my chrome browser. I have never had a problem with fonts before. Here is a screenshot http://i.imgur.com/N4xO9.jpg .
AznHisoka 2 days ago 1 reply      
Sounds like Diaspora for photos...
urza 2 days ago 2 replies      
Is it possible to store the photos on my own sever instead of Amazon or Dropbox etc?

How are the photos and tags stored on the filesystem layer?

naithemilkman 2 days ago 1 reply      
Others have said this but I too don't quite get completely what your site is about.
ashr 2 days ago 1 reply      
This is a nice idea executed well. Don't stop here.
epikur 2 days ago 1 reply      
I would just suggest more screenshots of the interface, on openphoto.me and theopenphotoproject, because that lets me understand it much faster than reading copy.
juiceandjuice 2 days ago 1 reply      
A Django plugin would be rad.
organico 2 days ago 1 reply      
Hey, congratulations on not taking the advice of others, and going with your heart - The project looks fantastic, and I'm really excited to migrate my photos!
tait 2 days ago 2 replies      
Congratulations! Looks interesting; what are some use cases?
kposehn 2 days ago 1 reply      
Glad to see another success on here as well :)
adib 2 days ago 1 reply      
Do you make more (as in the money that you keep for yourself) from OpenPhoto than what Yahoo paid you?
lforrest 2 days ago 1 reply      
Great update! It's exciting to have you in the Mozilla WebFWD program.
salimmadjd 2 days ago 0 replies      
Congrats for the move and much success!
__sImius 2 days ago 0 replies      
Right on man, keep the dream alive.
mapster 2 days ago 1 reply      
Why should I use this anyway? (btw - useless invite codes)
       cached 9 December 2011 16:11:01 GMT