hacker news with inline top comments    .. more ..    21 Dec 2011 Best
home   ask   best   7 years ago   
An Indian Inventor Disrupts The Period Industry fastcoexist.com
676 points by wallflower  1 day ago   141 comments top 20
algoshift 1 day ago  replies      
Wait a minute...

According to the article and his website the machine costs $2,500 each, can produce 2 napkins per minute and requires 746W of power. Each machine employs a crew of four people.

A full scale industrial machine is claimed to cost $500K and, from a quick bit of google-ing can produce 350 napkins per minute and requires about 80KW of power. Each machine seems to be operable by a small team of five or so, but let's double that to ten people.

In order to match the production rate of a single industrial machine you would need:

Machines: 175

Cost: $437,500

Power: 131KW

Workers: 700

According to this (http://mahadiscom.com/emagazine/jan06/india1%5B1%5D.pdf) electricity cost in India runs around 1.5 rupees per KWh for residential and 3.5 rupees per KWh for industrial applications. Assuming ten hours per day (for easy math) the power costs compare as follows (converted to USD):

175 low cost machines @131KWh in household settings: USD $37 per day.

Industrial machine @80KWh in industrial setting: USD $52.87 per day.

The industrial machine cost a little more to run (power) but it produces 175 times more product per machine. Put a different way, around USD $0.03 of power is required per napkin with the household machine. The industrial machine --even at more than double the electricity cost-- only requires USD $0.0003 per napkin in power.

In terms of labor costs --assuming $1 per hour-- the household machine would cost about $0.033 per napkin while the industrial machine runs $0.0005 per napkin.

According to the linked statistic the TAM (Total Addressable Market) is around 300 million women:


If his dream to "make India a 100% napkin-using country" is fully realized you would need to produce a minimum of 1500 million napkins per month (assuming five pads used per period). The solutions compare as follows:

Assuming that the machines are run 24 hours per day for 30 days.

- Household solution

Machines: 17362

Cost: $43,405,000

Power: 12MW

Labor cost per 30 days: $25,001,280

- Industrial Solution:

Machines: 100

Cost: $50,000,000

Power: 8MW

Labor cost per 30 days: $90,000

Unless my numbers are grossly wrong (please check, I threw them together quickly) this is not as good a solution as it has been made out to be. In fact, it looks like a really bad solution to a large scale problem. The costs are staggering. Power consumption is at least 50% greater. I'll bet that product quality and consistency also suffers a great deal. And, of course, we haven't even covered maintenance costs and MTBF (Mean Time Between Failures) of 18,000 low-cost machines versus 100 industrial grade machines.

Good job. Lots of work. But I'd invest in a used industrial machine out of China over making thousands of these low cost household devices.

solutionyogi 1 day ago 2 replies      
What an inspiring story.

I grew up in a lower middle class family and I have two sisters. I know that my sisters and mom could not afford to use napkins because paying for the school fees was more important. As the story mentions, my sisters will take time off from school during those days.

His price of 12 rupees (25 cents) for 8 napkins is unbelievably cheap. That means a napkin costs 1.5 rupees which is less than a cup of tea you can buy at a road side stall in India. And I think 75%+ of his target market should be able to afford it.

BTW, you should visit the company's website, they have more details there:


urbanjunkie 1 day ago 5 replies      
This is both inspiring and depressing.

Female medical students not wishing to talk to a man about menstruation.

The fatalistic, egotistical and selfish attitude epitomised by women being unconcerned about losing their uterus. And of course, if you don't care about your own uterus, you're unlikely to care about litter, the environment, or pretty much anything.

(ps, as someone who has spent a lot of time in India and whose parenta are Indian, this fatalistic selfishness isn't a gender based issue. It is, however, one of the corrosive elements of Indian culture that worries me).

tantalor 1 day ago 3 replies      
I applaud the inventor's drive to lower the cost of production, but sanitary napkins aren't necessarily the best solution.

For instance, a menstrual cup is generally more cost efficient and certainly more environmentally friendly. And it can be manufactured with simple equipment (rubber injection mold).


jackityquack 1 day ago  replies      
Good story, but a strange guy. Also, he could probably do more good for his country by selling his product. He would actually disrupt the industry, instead of creating yet another charity project.
The way to fight poverty isn't to give poor people poor solution. The way to think about it is that you need to level the playing field, so even Indians would laugh at making their own napkins. If you told a white American do make their own napkin, they'd laugh if your face. But we seem to think it's reasonable for an Indian to do it. That's absurd.
If he creates a better industry, he can keep the profits in India. He can then employ persons who will be rich enough to afford to not make their own napkins. That money will trickle out in to the economy and create a richer India. The only solution to poverty is economics. And you can't become an economic super power on charity.

You can stop reading if you get the point, the rest is a rant:
Another example that everyone loves of agriculture. Have you ever heard of a success story through teaching farmers to use non-industrial machinery? Hell NO! You can't win that way. You need to find a way for farmers to compete in the real world, not coddle them. Microfinance them or something. Maybe teach them to partner with a company with the money to buy all the right supplies (tractor, fertilizer, etc) that can actually turn his land in to profit. Then he isn't charity, he's a businessman. Charity is not the solution for people like me (by which I mean a healthy person that can work, since there's no difference between me and another 23 year old in any country in the world).

lizzard 1 day ago 2 replies      
I love that this guy figured out how to make and re-sell a cheaper manufacturing machine!

I have some questions though.

One is about the suggestion in the article that not using disposable napkins results in reproductive tract infections. That seems unlikely.

Another is that while good, cheap, reliable period-managing supplies are useful and liberating for women, there are movements to use menstrual cups and washable, reusable cloths as an alternative to disposable stuff. "Rags" sounds negative but "reusable cloth pads" less so.

So while this is great, maybe there is still more opportunity for disruption in this market!

shabda 1 day ago 6 replies      
Not sure if someone noticed but the women workers are wearing the cloth-mask so as not to be identified in the photo. Interesting, weird and depressing that its embarrassing to be working building sanitary napkins.
jasonshen 1 day ago 0 replies      
I'm going to send this article to anyone who complains about how entrepreneurs only make "trivial apps" instead of solving serious "real-world problems". I love what this man has done, but to say that people unwilling to add to the stress/difficulty/risk of starting a startup by tackling a market/problem like this one is inappropriate. Yes, let's encourage entrepreneurship on all levels, but don't pretend that it's just as hard as building and selling a mobile app.
vamsee 1 day ago 0 replies      
I heard this guy tell his story to a live audience in Chennai a while ago. He's an electrifying speaker. You should see his passion for his project. He is an inspiration, reminded me of Dr. Varaprasad Reddy of Shantha Biotechnics, who also has a great story to tell.
evmar 1 day ago 1 reply      
I am sad to say when I read this I worried whether the manufacturers' samples would come back to bite him in the form of some sort of patent lawsuit. I guess it could be considered a benefit that he isn't making money, as it makes him a smaller target.
paulhauggis 1 day ago 2 replies      
I really admire this guy. It's sad that his wife left him over it though..
pardner 1 day ago 0 replies      
Thoroughly brilliant example of relentless execution of a vision with a higher purpose.
danhodgins 23 hours ago 1 reply      
Brilliant example of the design thinking process in action.

This man has certainly practiced the 'design thinking' process outlined by Tim Brown in "Change By Design" - a book about the process of innovation. The Design Thinking process involves lots of ethnographic research, and developing empathy for the user - the same tenets as user centered (UCD) or human centered design (HCD).

In this case, the inventor developed empathy by going so far as wearing a fake uterus that emitted goats blood!

I find this story and others like it to be very inspiring. However, knowing that the world can be changed for the better or worse by people who believe strongly enough about something is both reassuring and frightening at the same time.

mynameishere 1 day ago 1 reply      
Why not just buy bulk medical gauze and fold it up? That's got to be cheap as hell, and if it's good enough for bullet holes...
rachelbythebay 1 day ago 1 reply      
The world needs more people with empathy who are willing to put themselves in the shoes of others. Brilliant story. Thank you for posting it.
yalogin 1 day ago 3 replies      
I am really glad to see that he did not jump to "profit" at the end. Hope he gets enough support.
radicalcakes 1 day ago 0 replies      
Inspirational! This is a great example of the only barrier for not achieving something great...is yourself.
cezar_sl 1 day ago 0 replies      
I only saw "wife came back when he became famous (and presumably rich)"
stfp 22 hours ago 0 replies      
the. period. industry.
pressurefree 1 day ago 0 replies      
I believe my invention will disrupt the wind power industry...

send wampum.

In Memoriam: Christopher Hitchens, 1949"2011 vanityfair.com
662 points by tieistoowhite  4 days ago   220 comments top 37
TomOfTTB 4 days ago  replies      
Hitchens was essentially a Marxist (by his own admission) who was also in favor of the U.S. invasion of Iraq and the foreign policy it represented. So there was very little I agreed with him on.

But I'm terribly upset about this and I'll tell you why.

Because of his willingness to debate. I'd literally scan right wing talk radio schedules for his name because you just knew it would be a great show. In a world where so many people in our modern society hide in their little cliques I think a smart person who is willing to have their ideas challenged is the most valuable person of all.

Losing a voice like that is a true tragedy.

So, with all due respect, I hope he is wrong in his beliefs about the after life because if there is a heaven he's surely earned his place in it.

Edit: On that note this is awesome: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y4JJqXISBiI though skip the first 4 minutes of the host self aggrandizement)

davesims 4 days ago 1 reply      
As a person of long-held religious conviction I am deeply saddened to see this worthy adversary go. He had an uncanny ability to go straight for your mostly deeply held beliefs with the most trenchant rhetoric and yet somehow made you like him anyway.

I think it's because with Hitchens, you knew he spoke from the integrity of his own convictions. He was nobody's man, on no one's bandwagon, carrying water for no political agenda other than his own desire to see the world become a better place. His libertarianism or Marxism was just a function of where his own intellect led him, and he never compromised for fashion or acceptance. That gave him gravitas, ethos. How else could you go after Mother Theresa and not get run out of...the World on a rail?

Only Hitchens. He was often compared to Orwell and H.L. Mencken, and he was one of the few writers for whom the comparison was as a peer rather than a distant echo of a greater time. Who will pick up his mantle? Who has the intellect, wit or courage of their convictions that compares with Hitchens?

At the moment I simply can't think of anyone.

pessimist 4 days ago 0 replies      
The first time I read Christopher Hitchens was his takedown of Mother Teresa - "The Missionary Position". It was emblematic of his writing - shocking, irreverent, but beautifully written and argued. The most intellectually honest pundit I have ever read - even when I disagreed with him. Sad to see him go.
pflats 4 days ago 0 replies      
Above all, I really respect him for his piece on waterboarding. For those of you who didn't see it/hear about it, he wanted to try to settle the debate on whether waterboarding is torture or not.

So he let himself be waterboarded.

VF Article (site's getting hit hard): http://www.vanityfair.com/politics/features/2008/08/hitchens...

Youtube video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g7u-Wk1aU-E

The title of the article? "Believe Me, It's Torture".

zalew 4 days ago 1 reply      

Hitchens gave short shrift to the "insulting" suggestion that cancer might persuade him to change his position where reason had not, arguing that to ditch principles "held for a lifetime, in the hope of gaining favour at the last minute" would be a "hucksterish choice", and urging those who had taken it upon themselves to pray for him not to "trouble deaf heaven with your bootless cries".

bravura 4 days ago 1 reply      
Christoper Hitchens. Rest in Peace. One of the most articulate people, always incisive, even when I disagreed with him.

I saw Hitchens speak at the New York Public Library, as part of their Live! series. Everyone retired to the garden afterwards, to take drinks.

I spoke with Hitchens briefly. He called Mother Theresa "a bitch". I criticized his diction and argued that bitch was the wrong epithet. I don't recall my exact argument, but he conceded my point. I was elated, given that I considered (and still consider) Hitchens one of the most eloquent orators of our generation. In deference to him and his passing, I have mulled my choice of language in this comment.

I am still grateful that I had the chance to engage this great polemicist.

martythemaniak 4 days ago 1 reply      
There was a Munk Debate last year where Hitchens debated Tony Blair on whether religion was a force for good in the world. I highly recommend it: http://www.munkdebates.com/debates/Religion

Everyone knew Hitchens didn't have much time left, so it was great to see him doing what he does best against someone as high-profile as Blair.

andywood 4 days ago 0 replies      
I knew he didn't have long, but this still feels so sudden. I got so much out of his way of framing things. I'm grateful that he wrote and spoke so much while he was here.
Jach 4 days ago 1 reply      
"God is Not Great" is trending on Twitter right now... (Hilarious material too.) Too bad Hitchens missed it.
Vivtek 4 days ago 1 reply      
I first learned of Christopher Hitchens in the run-up to Iraq, which he espoused. I chalked him up as a Bad Guy, and moved my limited attention span on down the pike. Only recently had I realized that he was a lot deeper than I'd given him credit for - and now he's dead.

Life stinks.

mturmon 4 days ago 0 replies      
Such a sharp thinker, with unbelievable wit and depth of memory.

You can get a sense of his political style from his fascination with the remark from Israeli peace activist Israel Shahak, "there are beginning to be some encouraging signs of polarization". Meaning that usually, well almost always, you have to choose sides. Draw the line between the sides yourself if necessary.

It's Hitchens' writings that introduced me to the early, dry, humorous works of Evelyn Waugh (best known is "Scoop", but also Decline and Fall, and the Sword of Honour trilogy). Some of Hitchens' best writing was literary appreciation, not polemics.

arepb 4 days ago 0 replies      
A good landing page from VF is an excellent starter for those who are tiptoeing into Hitchens for the first time. http://www.vanityfair.com/culture/christopher-hitchens
tptacek 4 days ago 1 reply      
Ah, shit.
robertk 4 days ago 1 reply      
We shall have to work faster.


dreamux 4 days ago 0 replies      
He was my favourite thinker and orator, I'm very sad to see him go.
soitgoes 4 days ago 0 replies      
It would be nice if HN could put up the black bar at the top of the page today for Hitch.
serverdude 4 days ago 0 replies      
One of the foremost intellectuals - I disagreed with him on Iraq but scoured youtube to watch his debates - mostly against religious rabbis. There really was no one like him.

"“That which can be asserted without evidence, can be dismissed without evidence."
- Christopher Hitchens

staunch 4 days ago 1 reply      
Too short, but he won at life.
valgaze 4 days ago 0 replies      
Astroid: http://www.vanityfair.com/online/daily/2011/12/Asteroid-Name...

"An astroid...has been named after Vanity Fair contributing editor Christopher Hitchens. The asteroid orbits Mars, Jupiter, and Earth. It's an ironic but fitting honor for an iconoclast who has spent much of his life shaking his fist at the heavens and the deities they may or may not host."

dmerfield 4 days ago 0 replies      
My favourite Hitchens moment:


Nelson69 4 days ago 0 replies      
I saw him on Morning Joe about 18 months ago. I like the idea of what they are trying to do with that show, I like that they have both sides on it, but it has more than enough grab ass (it's 2 hours too long every day..) Anyhow, they were getting ready to engage him in a serious conversation but it was a grab-ass session between segments, I can't remember the subject but they were goading folks to make some statement on something really absurd (it was sexist or Jersey Shore or something, I wish I could remember it) but Mika (the news reader lady) tried to get him to voice an opinion and he very eloquently said "pass" it was a bit flowery though and had just a hint of an insult back for even being asked to talk about it.

I don't know if anyone had ever done that before, they clearly weren't prepared for it. He was there for something serious and he kept to it, regardless of views, much respect to the guy. In a pop-media bubble gum bullshit news and entertainment world he had a mission and kept to it. A tragic loss we need more of him and more like him.

arjn 4 days ago 0 replies      
Not unexpected, he's been ill for a while. I will miss his razor wit and intellect. The clarity of his thought, writing and speech was a breath of cool fresh air amidst the unfortunate smog that is modern media, especially television. Am currently reading Hitch-22, have already read "God is not Great" and would recommend it.
thomasgerbe 4 days ago 0 replies      
veidr 4 days ago 1 reply      
Hitchens was wrong about a lot in my view, but for many atheists he was an important figure.

He eloquently made the case for our faith in empirical evidence and the scientific knowing of reality, and he didn't pussy out at the end. Knowing he was dying, and soon on his way into that void, still looked that motherfucker in the face, and stayed frosty.

Wish he could have died from old age, though.

markwherry 4 days ago 0 replies      
Hitch asked us to think, to question, and to appreciate. There is surely no better embodiment of a hacker ethic than someone like Christopher Hitchens: a unique voice who challenged the world not to accept the status quo.
chjj 4 days ago 1 reply      
dammit. hitchens barely got his trousers off.
mattyohe 4 days ago 1 reply      
#GodIsNotGreat is trending worldwide. It's quite entertaining to see the live timeline of people freaking out: http://twitter.com/#!/search/realtime/%23GodIsNotGreat
andyl 4 days ago 0 replies      
He was a straight up debater who could discuss ideas on their merits, and seemed to make up his own mind on issues. Gone too soon.
tdfx 4 days ago 0 replies      
For anyone looking for a quick way to get a handle on who he was search YouTube for "hitchslap".
Benares 4 days ago 1 reply      
He's in a better place, now.


siculars 4 days ago 0 replies      
Damn. Miss you.
zotz 3 days ago 0 replies      
Not to be blunt, but I never understood why a drunken advocate of a murderous war gets such props no matter what his facility with words may have been.
robbrown451 4 days ago 0 replies      
He and his family are in my....well, in my sincere thoughts that I say in my head directed towards a nonspecific metaphorical anthropomorphic being.
randdythea 4 days ago 0 replies      
ddw 4 days ago 1 reply      
A lot of people are making this joke in these first minutes and it's ok. I upvoted you.

But I'd like to make the point that he stared death in the face and didn't finally profess his love of god and all things mighty like some wanted him to and I'll always respect for that. One of the good ones.

RomanAClef 4 days ago 1 reply      
Wow, right after America gave up the ghost in Iraq too.

From http://whoisioz.blogspot.com/2011/11/oser-dire.html:

" Why does it also not delight me that the extent of the allegations against him, at least on some showings, is “unwanted advances”? It might be argued, by the cynical or the naive, that all “advances” begin that way. True, a period of a matter of months is specified, but don't I seem to recall, in President Obama's jaunty account of his courtship, that it took him a certain amount of time to “wear down” his intended target? I dare say that many of us could say the same, while reminiscing among friends, and still hope to avoid getting too many sidelong looks. But in the present circumstances there seems to be a danger of a straight-out politicization of the sexual harassment issue, with many people deciding it in advance on the simple basis of campaign calculations, or"to put it more crudely"of whose ox is being gored. This appears to represent a general coarsening by silence, and yet another crude element in a depressing campaign. "


I have always suspected that Christopher Hitchens is really a child of Indianapolis or Topeka who spent a year in London while an undergraduate at the North Dakota State Technical and Agricultural Community College or some such and returned with an accent and a ubiquitous unopened umbrella so thoroughly does his Englishness come off as an affect. And, to crib from our friends across the pond, he comes off as a real tosser. "I dare say"? It's as if, sensing his own impending demise, he's angling to be played by Maggie Smith in the biopic.

Any man willing to gratuitously fondle the mother tongue as Hitch does above is obviously going to be an apologist for molestation. If you're a liberal, then you'll find it particularly appalling that Hitch first made his conservative bones, you'll pardon the expression, not by cheering for the death of a million Iraqis, but by stroking feverishly over Monica and Kathleen Willey. This was evidence of Clinton's despicable character, whereas here we are in grave danger of "politicizing . . . the sexual harassment issue," as if chalking it up as an issue has not by fucking default cast it into the baleful form of politics.

numair 4 days ago 6 replies      
Okay, really.

With all due respect to the passing of a fellow human, this story has absolutely nothing to do with hackers, with software development, with the startup business... I know people are going to reply to this with some reference to "but it is of intellectual interest!" -- but really, there are lots of different places on the Internet (thousands, maybe millions!) to discuss lots of different things. If you have begun to look at Hacker News as your sole source of news and information in the world -- of which such stories and their upvoting may be a sign -- you really need to diversify your life. It will be better for your health, and for your work.

It would be great if we could allow this place remain a silo of thought on technical and business matters, and seek out other places and people for other sorts of information and discourse.

Microsoft decides to automatically update Internet Explorer for everyone geek.com
616 points by ukdm  5 days ago   171 comments top 34
mmcconnell1618 5 days ago  replies      
The article points out that MS will still provide blocking tools for companies. Corporations are the major source of IE6 browsers and I'm not sure this will have any impact on them. The best we can hope for is that high consumer adoption rates will force many more sites to drop IE6 support which might spur companies to finally test and upgrade.
bgarbiak 5 days ago 0 replies      
It's a great change not because of IE6 (which, most likely, won't be affected at all) but because of future versions of Internet Explorer. These are now supposed to be released annually, which could be a curse for developers if there was no automatic upgrade mechanism (see: http://paulirish.com/2011/browser-market-pollution-iex-is-th...). Today's decision of Microsoft means it will be a blessing. Basically, all of client side web-technologies will iterate a lot faster and in 2-3 years the vast majority of users will sport the newest version of a browser by default.
dazbradbury 5 days ago 0 replies      
Perhaps I'm being overly optimistic, but this has just made my christmas and new year. If this has a genuine impact, and means people are running IE8 in the worst case, then I will be a very a happy dev.

Patiently waits to see browser usage trends once this rolls out...

apaprocki 5 days ago 1 reply      
One thing I've noticed is another niche that doesn't quite fit into the "corporation blocking updates" bucket. VMs. I've used a few services at work that run on auto-started VM images and IE8 is installed on those images. It isn't that someone is blocking updates necessarily, it is just that it takes a human to actually go and update the main VM image and update the browser on it. This seems to make it persist longer than it should because VMs are either updated on some long time horizon or there is not a push to proactively change it if the current situation "just works".
RyanMcGreal 5 days ago 3 replies      
Good news, but XP users still won't be able to upgrade past IE8.
TheCoreh 5 days ago 1 reply      
This is great news: It means IE8 won't be the next IE6. Of course there are a lot of users still restricted to Windows XP, but their market share is dropping fairly quickly. Of course there will always be large corporate environments where updates are much slower, but I would say these are under 10%, perhaps?
ma2rten 5 days ago 1 reply      
Finally! I have been waiting for this news for a very long time. I wish Microsoft would also push something like Chrome Tab to those users who opt out of the update, so a website can set some special http header/meta tag and then the website gets rendered with lasted version of the rendering engine.
dr_ 5 days ago 1 reply      
Unfortunately our hospital EMR software, which I access from my office, does not work on IE9. I had to downgrade to IE8 to get it working.
melling 5 days ago 0 replies      
It also means all IE9 users will get IE10. So by this time next year, 80-85% of users will be on a very modern html5 browser.
andrewheins 5 days ago 1 reply      
I applaud Microsoft for finally taking the step, but I wonder how much this will actually change the stats around browser market share. My understanding was that most IE6 users, even in the developing world, were admin-imposed.

Either way, it's good to finally see them moving forward.

BonoboBoner 5 days ago 0 replies      
"You'll simply be bumped to the most current version available for your version of Windows (IE9 on Vista and Windows 7, IE8 on Windows XP)."

I was so hoping for IE9 on XP as part of this process...

JoeAltmaier 5 days ago 5 replies      
I'm not a fan, and I don't understand the gushing. As developers, I suppose folks are glad to reduce their support matrix?

But as users, creators of highly customized workstations and rabid fans of particular development environments, doesn't it bother anybody but me, that the browser choice has been hijacked?

Sure, its just stupid Windows users, they don't care. Is that it?

Every IE UI is different, and they seem to be spiralling down is usability. I'm particular about optimizing my own time and changing UI to suit Microsoft's agenda is definitely going to piss me off.

robbrown451 5 days ago 1 reply      
What I don't understand is why doesn't Microsoft provide an upgrade that actually allows IE6 (and possibly other versions) to run as they did, on a site specific basis. This way corporations that need some IE6 only app can run them forever, but their employees can still use the rest of the web unhampered by this. Having it possible to run multiple "virtual browsers" within a single browser would also thrill web developers who want to test their sites on all the browsers without having to have multiple machines.

Yes it would be a bit bloated, but the default install would probably be the one that just ran the latest version.

dmbaggett 5 days ago 1 reply      
Great! Now they just need to switch their entire browser codebase over to Webkit and sanity will be restored to the web.
hkarthik 4 days ago 0 replies      
The more I see Microsoft bend over backwards for big corps to retard the web, the more I think that maybe big corps should just stay off the web.

Perhaps staying on proprietary, native platforms that don't change as often is their best course in the future.

hendrik-xdest 5 days ago 3 replies      
And here I thought that all non-updated IE versions were installed in environments where Sysadmins blocked the updates (and will in the future). It would be interesting to see a number of how many installations this change could really target. Like, how many IE 6 to 8 are actually in the wild. Can't be that much, imho.
zeeed 4 days ago 0 replies      
Microsoft once more does a fully automated update? What could POSSIBLY go wrong?!

On the same note, it literally pisses me off how companies decide to intervene with my software installation. Allowing an "opt-out" is worth as much as Google allowing me to opt out of mapping my access point by renaming it.

We are observing a notable shift where personal(!) computers and devices are being turned into consumer devices that we have no control over. Not to speak about the privacy related side effects.

Please, please, please let there soon be a pro-version of Linux on the desktop before the support cycle of Snow Leopard runs out.

miles_matthias 5 days ago 1 reply      
This is slightly making me think about adding a specific version of IE to my Crap Browser Notifier:


Maybe IE10 and up. Maybe.

noblethrasher 5 days ago 0 replies      
Interestingly (or perhaps ironically), this probably means that the IE chrome won't get updated lest it alarm the users.
hkarthik 5 days ago 0 replies      
Finally. They should have done this a really long time ago.
dhkl 5 days ago 2 replies      
Perhaps one of the reason why people are still capable of getting an acceptable Internet experience from IE 6 and 7 is because Flash 10 (and 11 for IE 7) supports them.

Thank goodness that there is a strong traction behind HTML5 stack, and the industry as a whole is less reliant on Flash to deliver good UX.

Without Flash, the capability of these older browsers will be reduced, and I'm sure they will get abandoned at an even higher rate.

shapeshed 5 days ago 0 replies      
still seeing 20% IE6 usage in my Corporate clients in the UK. I have spoken with IT administrators and they give the reason of internal tools needing IE6 to run. Some kind of backwards compatibility might help but until hardware is upgraded and there is an OS upgrade from XP IE6 will be around for a while IMHO.
nbclark 5 days ago 0 replies      
Honestly, it is about time that they did this. I worked ont he IE team for a few years, and could never understand (aside from the enterprise argument) why users were not being auto-upgraded. "Hey here's a great new security model to replace the insecure previous version...but no rush on upgrading..."
obtu 5 days ago 0 replies      
Great that they abandoned the “intranet apps still depend on IE6” talking point. XP still won't move past IE8, however.
WayneDB 5 days ago 0 replies      
I wonder if it will keep replacing the shortcuts that I've removed.
Brajeshwar 5 days ago 0 replies      
This is one hell of a bloody awesome news. I say the best ever for everyone on the Internet.
Hikari 5 days ago 0 replies      
great news but a little bit too late in my opinion.
kgc 3 days ago 0 replies      
Web designers around the world rejoice.
jrwn 5 days ago 0 replies      
So is this separate from the normal updates and installs regardless of your update preferences or is it part of the normal updates?
ajo11 5 days ago 0 replies      
Santa is real!
superyeah 5 days ago 0 replies      
muchonada 5 days ago 0 replies      
<= Happy
olaf 5 days ago 0 replies      
Welcome to the 21st century.
tomjen3 5 days ago 0 replies      
No they don't.

You can still opt out.

Of course if you do that, we may end up pushing Chrome Frame on you, through an exploit (I would, if it wasn't illegal).

Fuck MS for forcing us to deal with their crap.

The nightmarish SOPA hearings washingtonpost.com
578 points by elliottcarlson  5 days ago   166 comments top 30
nirvana 5 days ago  replies      
I think the heart surgery analogy is excellent. I would never, unless it were an extremely dire situation with no doctors, attempt any kind of surgery on someone. Nor would I ever start dictating to doctors how the perform their procedures.

Yet that is what government does, day in and day out. They regulate industries which work in ways they don't understand, and they do it primarily for political motivations.

The MPAA may want tools to fight piracy, but to politicians, who don't really care about piracy, this is an opportunity to have something to campaign on, and it gives the government more power.

More power means more prestige and more money for them, if not now, in their post career lives when they lobby, etc.

More regulations gives them more control over industry- the power to threaten to make the regulations even worse, or the threat that their opponent will do that if they don't get re-elected (so please give generously!)

I don't think these people are "well intentioned". They don't actually want to help anybody. Theft is already against the law. SOPA won't change that, it won't stop piracy, and its not criminalizing piracy.

No, they're politicians. And they're not even corrupt politicians. This is simply the nature of what they do. They pass laws, they shake down industry, and they get paid for passing ever more laws without regard for the impact of those laws.

Hell, when those laws cause massive destruction to the economy, what do they do? They turn around and say "Well, If we'd been able to pass the law I proposed, this wouldn't have happened! Here, we need to rush into force even more regulations to make sure this never happens again!"

There's a famous(?) libertarian author by the name of L. Neil Smith who's got a saying that's very applicable here:

"Government is a disease masquerading as its own cure."

I hope we stop SOPA. But the lesson I would hope a lot of you take away from this is that SOPA is not an isolated incident, it is one of thousands of incidents, most of which go by completely unmentioned each year, where the system works to undermine human rights and make people's lives worse. These guys aren't corrupt, the system is corrupt.

The constitution, in the enumeration clause and in the Bill of Rights, attempted to prevent this. The enumeration clause limits the powers of the federal government to only those enumerated in the constitution.

Regulation of the internet, or communications of any kind, is not an enumerated power of the Federal Government. This means that when the federal government does this, it is doing it without authorization. Further, the Bill of Rights forbids congress from engaging in censorship. SOPA clearly authorizes censorship so they're also in violation of the Bill of Rights.

These words in the constitution, in this day and age have very little teeth. The PATRIOT act runs afoul of them as well, but nobody has succeeded in getting it overturned.

The situation will continue to get worse. Even if SOPA is defeated-- this isn't the first attempt-- it will come back in a few years.

I think that the only possible solution is a technological one. I think that the only way to to fight them is with technology and disobedience to the very idea that they have the right to restrain speech or control the internet.

The courts will not help us, and they certainly won't, and every election is so stage managed that nobody who actually knows the difference between a domain name and an IP address will ever get elected.

Help us with technology, its our only hope!

jacques_chester 5 days ago 6 replies      
For some time now it's been clear to me that as society grows ever more technical, it's leaving legislators behind.

At the same time, the background of lawmakers has increasingly narrowed.

In Australia, for example, it used to be commonplace for the Parliament to contain people whose first careers were as teachers, farmers, train drivers, engineers, small businessmen and so forth.

Not any more. Today it's an almost wall-to-wall collection of law students who were all groomed by party machines. Go to uni, join political club, graduate and work in minister's office/a union/a politically-connected law firm, get pre-selected at the local branch, elected to Parliament.

At no point has this person a) studied something other than law or b) held down an ordinary job or run a small business. I imagine the pattern is similar elsewhere.

And so our law making bodies are filled with folk whose main skill is forensic disputation. This is problematic when technical debates are held because politicians are often mistrustful of experts outside their circle of loyalty -- because for any expert I can procure, someone else can get an expert to say the opposite.

Having experts inside the circle of trust is golden. The classic example is the banning of CFCs. Margaret Thatcher's undergraduate degree was in chemistry and so she understood the mechanisms. In turn she was able to assure Regan that the phenomenon was real and serious and the rest is history.

I have for some time toyed with the idea of forming a non-partisan organisation whose purpose is helping STEM professionals to get elected. Please contact me by email (check my profile) if you are interested.

msluyter 5 days ago 3 replies      
Nice post from Felix Salmon on the topic:


He makes the point that virtually no average citizens support this (either they're against it or they don't know anything about it.) People often worry that congress fails when they can't agree on anything, but this makes me think that the time to really worry is when they do agree. When they disagree, they're at least probably mirroring the electorate.

noonespecial 5 days ago 6 replies      
Just remember to add "in the United States" to the end of each dire prediction. Try it:

SOPA will cause rampant censorship of the internet... in the United States.

I am a US citizen, currently living in the US, and I hate this, but even so, it makes me feel better to remember that there's a big, big world outside our borders. If the US flies off the rails on this, I fully expect the rest of the world to shrug and move on. The internet and the Americans have been closely intertwined since the beginning but I don't expect it will always be that way. The America that created the internet is more or less gone now. Its time for the rest of the world to step up.

mbesto 5 days ago 4 replies      
I watched roughly 2-3 hours of the hearing. I could be wrong, but I thought in general there was actually a bi-partisan agreement that they needed experts in on the conversation. Unfortunately it didn't mean much when it came to voting on amendments (as most were shot down).

Where it got interesting is when Mel Watt came out and said "We all know that everyone in this room on both sides has enough resources to pull in experts that will aid their side of the argument equally, so we're going to get into the same mess we did when we talk about derivatives being the most evil things on earth by one party and the saving grace by another". Good point, but the difference here is that not all parties that are for SOPA have purely financial incentives as the banks did.

Timothee 5 days ago 1 reply      
I've listened to the hearings a little bit today and in particular I heard the amendment about not removing the ability to target IP addresses. Listening to him, it just made sense: one address can be the front of multiple websites, one website can have multiple IP addresses, addresses are moved around dynamically, etc. We all know that and his explanations were very clear.

So I was a bit confused when later on I was hearing a lot of "No"s. Had I missed the vote for that amendment and they were voting on something else? Nope. They were just denying common sense.

I'm not even sure how they would do it on a per domain basis. What about subdomains? One guy posts something on his Tumblr and all the Tumblr's go down? I'm sure they have no idea what that means and would just say "take down all the sites!"

On another note, though I don't mind the term generally, I was annoyed by them referring over and over to "nerds". "I'm not a nerd", "Bring in the nerds"… It's fine in some contexts but in the context of discussing a law, I think "technical experts", "people who have a clue" is more appropriate.

zotz 4 days ago 0 replies      
I greatly enjoyed reading this thread and peoples' well-expounded opinions on history and the Constitution. I can't add much but this quote seemed apropos. The author was a US Senator from South Dakota during the critical period of the late 19th-early 20th century.

"Two per cent of the people of the United States own sixty per cent of the property of the United States. Yet they produced none of it. By legislation, by craft and cunning, by control of Congress and the courts, they took to themselves what others produced. Sixty-six per cent of the people of the United States own five per cent of the property of the United States. Yet they produced all of the wealth and have none of it. Why do not the producers of this wealth have what they produce? Because the making of the laws and the control of the courts is in the hands of those who do not work, and this has been true from the beginning of the Government. The convention which framed the Constitution of the United States was composed of fifty-five members. A majority were lawyers"not one farmer, mechanic or laborer. Forty owned Revolutionary Scrip. Fourteen were land speculators. Twenty-four were money-lenders. Eleven were merchants. Fifteen were slave-holders. They made a Constitution to protect the rights of property and not the rights of man, and, ever since, Congress has been controlled by the property owner, and has framed laws in their interests and their interests only, and always refused to frame any laws in the interest of those who produce all the wealth and have none of it."

by Senator Richard F. Pettigrew, 1921

eegilbert 5 days ago 2 replies      
SOPA is horrifying. No doubt about it. But it's funny how many people I meet who share this view, yet think Congress is perfectly capable of regulating just about everything else. Because Congress understands that stuff. Like economies. Those things are simple. </LibertarianThursdays>
ajtaylor 5 days ago 2 replies      
I tried watching the hearings but I couldn't stay awake through the reading of the bill. My heart goes out to the poor clerk who had to read it out!

"There ought to be a law, I think, that in order to regulate something you have to have some understanding of it."

Ne'er were truer words written. Why on earth do we allow people who have no real understanding of technology to regulate it so closely? It's a train wreck in the making, one you'll be hard pressed to avoid should this bill get approved.

zmmmmm 5 days ago 1 reply      
What is it about technology that makes people proud to announce they know nothing about it while simultaneously assuming positions of authority and power over it? At least in other domains people put up a pretense of having knowledge about areas they are taking crucial decisions on. Something about technology and especially the internet seems to evoke this phenomenon.
ck2 5 days ago 1 reply      
I am not sure if you see the same ads as I've seen on TV lately from SOPA sponsors but it's pretty darn obvious that the only reason this bill exists is that the lobbyists simply paid for it to be created.

Like the "Patriot" Act they have no clue what exactly they are voting on, and I don't think they care, they are doing what they are bribed to do. The hearing is just theater, it's meaningless, they've already decided to get in on the take.

masonhensley 5 days ago 0 replies      
Does anyone have a list of where each representative is leaning on SOPA?

some reps against sopa, for an open internet:








mattvot 5 days ago 0 replies      
I've been watching all of this for the last 3-4 hours.

I am amazed at how most of the committee do not want to hear from experts, and ignore the facts with a quick dismissal like "Oh, I'm not a nerd, I don't understand, but what I do know is that piracy is theft and we must stop it.".

How can they not listen to the experts?

EDIT: Here's a livestream http://www.justin.tv/unearthed365#/w/2249527504

rorrr 5 days ago 3 replies      
I'm voting against every fucker in my district who supports it. That's the only non-violent way.
firefoxman1 5 days ago 1 reply      
My local congressman, also a co-sponsor and co-author of the SOPA bill, held a public phone conference the other night. You could press 0 to enter a queue to ask a question, so I did, but after 2 hours I was tired of waiting and I had a term paper to write so I gave up. I kind of regret it now, because I wanted everyone to hear just how little he, a co-author, knew about the subject. He's not one for listening to his constituents. I had already written him a letter and tried to call his office and no reply for either.
nyellin 4 days ago 0 replies      
"We have had no hearings and no testimonies on the technical issues"

- Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren, 20:15 (http://www.justin.tv/unearthed365/b/302702510?)

balloot 5 days ago 1 reply      
I highly recommend contacting your Representatives/Senators immediately. It amazes me that both of the California Senators are cosponsors of this turd. I would think they are among those who can be swayed.
jrwoodruff 4 days ago 1 reply      
Can someone who is following this more closely than myself (as in actually watching this on CSPAN) please post the names of all the senators, representatives and other elected officials who are blithering idiots in support of this.

I would like to vote any of them that may be in my district out of office as soon as possible.

Thank you.

antihero 5 days ago 0 replies      
It's weird, it seems like there's an amendment suggested, with lots of reason behind it, but fuck it we're going to say no anyway. WTF.
bprater 5 days ago 2 replies      
I haven't listened to the hearing, so I'm curious (and slightly facetious) -- when the RIAA inevitably flags videos on YouTube that are using copyrighted music -- will it be legally fairly simple for the industry to request a DNS take-down of the whole site? Will site owners have any recourse or will they just wake up in the morning and be completely out of business?
TheCapn 4 days ago 1 reply      
I've sort of viewed the entire circus in a defeated light. If SOPA goes down another version will crawl up either on its own or stapled to the "think of the children" act of 2012, 2014, or whenever they get enough campaign funding to draft it.

But what does that mean for Hackers? I think with enough work we could make a network off of the regulated lines. I live in a rather sparse city and even now I can throw a ball far enough to hit the next techy over. Push comes to shove we could have a mini network several blocks wide that doesn't touch a single www link.

Wireless is almost ready, security is probably the biggest issue right now but the technology is available, just not affordable. But what about the tech giants against the SOPA? If "push comes to shove" would they fund a new network that has less control?

Then at what point is the government allowed to intervene? If a sizable network was built from the ground up separate from the internet are they allowed to slap down regulations? I want to say no because they didn't fund it, but then at the same time what's really stopping them? If they're able to throw SOPA through, convincing these dweebs that a private uncontrolled network is not worthy of SOPA2.0 would not be difficult to do.

Can I get some hacker-friendly input? I know a lot of us here are software oriented but I'm certain I'm not the only one that lurks this site with background in network provisioning.

VonLipwig 4 days ago 0 replies      
I think this is a really good analysis of what is going on in Washington. I have always found it worrying when politicians walk into a field which they have little knowledge about and try to pass laws. Anyone can become an elected official and the power they yield over things they have no background in is scary. In the UK a person can effectively go from University >> Elected Official >> Misc Support Roles >> Secretary of State. Or... Student >> MP with 1 or 2 staff >> An advisor to someone >> Budget of billions, hundreds of thousands of employees.

In business you would work your way up. Employee >> Supervisor of Employees >> Manager with budgets >> Area Manager >> Country Manger >> CEO. You gain responsibility as you go. MP's do not have this. They fall into a job which they are almost never qualified for. Some do OK. However.. if you look closely at the majority you will see mistakes that anywhere else would see them fired.

In the states these dubiously qualified MP's are now looking to legislate an global network as a single nation... I am sure that some of them cannot even comprehend what the Internet is.

dreamdu5t 5 days ago 0 replies      
Thank God for government regulation. I'm so glad we have progressives like the Democrats and Republicans in office to curb the evils of industry.

Without regulation the Internet would be monopolized by big business and criminals will prey on your children.

Good thing the State is there to protect us. Don't forget to pay your taxes, and have a happy holidays!

Shenglong 5 days ago 1 reply      
Too bad we don't have some sort of upper age limit on electing officials.
evoxed 5 days ago 2 replies      
Has anyone seen the TV ad? "Illegal downloads on foreign websites, stealing AMERICAN jobs......"

It was frighteningly manipulative.

tomkinstinch 5 days ago 1 reply      
What will it take to elect technical people to public office?
kylek 5 days ago 1 reply      
Looks like a big joke to some people in the room!


jderick 4 days ago 0 replies      
The real issue here is corruption. That's why you keep get these ridiculous bills. Lessig explained the issue in a recent post:


gcb 4 days ago 0 replies      
Why is everyone so worried about SOPA?

patriot act has already passed.

BrandonM 4 days ago 1 reply      
It's rather interesting to see members here proclaim in one breath that legislators are money-grubbing old-fashioned idiots who are just out to make a bunch of laws, and in another remark complain of them calling people "nerds". Other groups garnering mentions are corporate, capitalist monsters and economy-destroying bankers.

As I see it, the biggest problem gripping our country right now is a refusal to understand someone else's point of view and come to a reasonable solution that is pretty good for everyone. All we seem to have are multiple sides shouting over each other, simultaneously ignoring everyone else and complaining that no one is listening to them. It is as though somewhere along the way we forgot how to be reasonable adults and have normal conversations. People cease to be caricatures when you understand their concerns and motivations.

I agree that some of the SOPA proposals are way out of line, and I also agree that people passing laws without a full understanding of the ramifications are not helping matters. But we also are not helping matters by trying to oversimplify everything and fit everyone and everything into neat little boxes. That's simply not how the world works.

There's no fundamental reason why Google can't provide media companies and luxury goods manufacturers with easy tools to report issues of copyright and counterfeit goods. Sure, it will cost development money that should be borne by those who stand to gain from the tools, but those are details. The point is, working together we actually have a chance to solve problems. Shouting past each other and appealing to authority (read: lobbying Congress) is never going to solve anything.

So let's try to understand the problems and work together to solve them. It's ludicrous to expect that kind of behavior from our politicians but not to exhibit it ourselves.

The Secret History of Kim Jung Il -- written by one of his high school teachers foreignpolicy.com
542 points by cynest  20 hours ago   136 comments top 17
vnorby 18 hours ago 5 replies      
"Even today, long after becoming the sole supreme leader of North Korea, Kim refuses to allow graduates of the Namsan School in his inner circle. After all, those who have known Kim Jong Il since youth are bound to see him as human -- not the center of a god-like cult of personality."

In the new Steve Jobs biography, Walter Isaacson quotes Steve on why he didn't let his parents come to his school's campus: "I didn't want anyone to know I had parents. I wanted to be like an orphan who had bummed around the country on trains and just arrived out of nowhere, with no roots, no connections, no background."

Interesting how powerful people manipulate the story of how they got to be where they are. Speaking of which, I was raised by wolves.

findm 12 hours ago 3 replies      
I found the article to be an interesting read but I wish that someone could talk about the psychology, history behind why the country became that way instead of just finger pointing on how terrible the conditions were. While its difficult to feel any empathy towards a manipulative, despotic, authoritarian regime, I also think that most westerners misunderstand and underestimate the people and their situation.

The NK brand of communism is just a thin veil for the old dynastic feudal caste society that Korea traditionally was. This is just how the country was for over 2 millennia. The north, especially due to its easily defensible mountainous terrain, has always played a pivotal role in keeping larger more powerful threats from absorbing the whole. Considering its history it sheds some light into understanding their extreme xenophobia.

Westerners always raise the question, why don't the people rise up against the injustice? This is a culture steeped in confucianism, the patriarch is supreme and group cohesion and harmony is of higher importance than the needs of an individual. Even linguistically, social order is embedded into the language with many different levels of honorifics for different rank and class.

A little off-topic but just my 2 cents.

The Caste System:

michaelbuckbee 17 hours ago 3 replies      
If you found this at all interesting, I would highly recommend watching the Vice Guide to North Korea - http://www.vice.com/the-vice-guide-to-travel/vice-guide-to-n...
irahul 12 hours ago 3 replies      
That's an interesting and a well-written story. But yet, I find his "I pray for Kim Jong", "I don't want him to meet a tragic end" et al. a bit strange.

I don't know, it seems like denial and rationalization. A dictator got his family killed(possibly tortured before killing them), there is nothing he can do about it, so he is trying to find solace by believing he doesn't want Kim Jong Il hurt; and to justify why he thinks so, he is imagining good and innocence, when none exists.

He is well aware of things Kim Jong Il did to his family and common masses, and yet he is trying to imagine good in him - I can't find a rational explanation for his line of reasoning.

ck2 16 hours ago 0 replies      
That guy strikes me as "Bridge on the River Kwai" - happens to be rarely well educated in a crippling environment and knows the "leader" is not a good person but to hell with that he is going to do his job as good as possible even if it means his own destruction and furtherment of the enemy standing right in front of him.

Evil dictators are evil - so are all the people that do their little part to help him because they cannot find anything wrong with doing their little job as best they can.

But so is a mindless military in ANY country who sign on to take directions to kill other people at the behest of a single leader that they aren't supposed to question.

refurb 9 hours ago 1 reply      
Here is a (long) story about an American who lived in SK who got a chance to go to NK. It's an incredible read and well worth the time. His interactions with NK citizens and his gov't minder are really eye opening.


I don't know about you guys, but reading his story is really sad. It's like a whole country, with limitless human potential, is developmentally frozen.

jrubinovitz 20 hours ago 2 replies      
As a computer science student, I don't really have time to read as much material unrelated to Computer Science as I would like, so this was quite a treat. Thanks for bravely humanizing Kim Jung Il and North Korea, and reminding us why we need to change the world, Mr. Kim Hyun Sik (author).
fufulabs 20 hours ago  replies      
It boggles my mind how little anyone, inside or outside, has done to change North Korea.

Maybe i am just ignorant of how difficult it is or the attempts done.

yogrish 18 hours ago 1 reply      
Touching story. But,author never mentioned why he changed so much and became ruthless...not even sparing his teachers family.
drumdance 13 hours ago 0 replies      
I found this graphic novel by a French cartoonist who worked in North Korea to be fascinating:


bitops 19 hours ago 1 reply      
rrrazdan 8 hours ago 0 replies      
Its a political post so my politically loaded question should be forgiven. Wouldn't it have been acceptable, if United States had liberated North Korea instead of Iraq?
mattparlane 20 hours ago 4 replies      
little hint:

javascript:$('body').css('margin', '0 200px');

SystemOut 19 hours ago 0 replies      
Could someone edit the link and remove the "print" query parameter? It's pretty annoying that the page pops up the print option on chrome upon loading.
rokhayakebe 19 hours ago 5 replies      
You have to wonder. Millions of people living under the dictatorship of one man ( with the help of a few dozens leaders). I feel terrible for the young women, and kids. However the rest of the population can get up and fight. Hundreds of thousands will die, but someone has to be willing to die for the sake of the liberty of others.
harryf 19 hours ago 4 replies      
Much as it's a fascinating story my BS alarm is flashing. Is there anyone at Georg Mason University who can confirm Professor Kim Hyun Sik actually exists?
The Bomb That Changed My Life swombat.com
447 points by shadowsun7  1 day ago   78 comments top 18
cstross 1 day ago  replies      
Fascinating account of post-7/7 behavioural trauma, and how hard it was to do the right thing; it shows up both in Daniel's reaction and those of other commenters who've been in similar situations. It's not just bombs ...

Accounts I've read of what happens immediately after a [survivable] plane crash are similar. Many physically uninjured passengers will just continue to sit in their seats, waiting to be told what to do, even if the plane's on fire. Another sizeable minority act through their roles as if the plane had made a successful landing; stand up to grab their carry-on luggage, then form an orderly queue. Only around 10-20% actually behave appropriately (that is, follow the emergency evacuation drill, without guidance: pop the emergency hatches and get the hell out of the danger zone without encumbering themselves).

We are creatures of habit; we have great difficulty accepting the existence of an immediate and potentially lethal threat to our existence, so some of us behave as if it simply isn't there. (Which is why it takes training to instill the right reflexes for dealing with abnormal situations.) And even among those who unfreeze and start moving again, the impulse to revert to "normal" behaviour can be overwhelming.

idan 1 day ago 3 replies      
An eloquent description which captures the essence of one possible reaction. Mine was different (I live in Israel, had a similar encounter) but the core experience is similar.

It seems cliche, but there is a fundamental truth to the fact that most westerners are simply unaware of what the "I fear for my bodily integrity" sensation is and does to your life. OP's newly-discovered appreciation of how crowded buses present a potential security threat is a great example. It isn't that you suddenly see your life in a whole new light, it's that you regard various mundane things with a new, orthogonal parameter: is this situation more likely to result in harm to me?

Like all things, eventually you become inured and looking at a situation from a security perspective becomes a routine thought passing through your head along with "shit, I forgot to pay the gas bill." Without getting into Israel/Palestine, this is a slice of what living in Israeli society is roughly like.

kokey 1 day ago 1 reply      
Thanks for that. My girlfriend at the time, got off at Euston when they evacuated the station and decided to try take a bus to get to work. While waiting for her bus, a bus exploded not far from where she was standing. Her reaction was to walk through the city to work, asking for directions along the way, walking even past my office. I couldn't reach her because the mobile network went out of action. She didn't want to come to my office because she knew I traveled in early to make it to a meeting and didn't want to disturb me (the meeting obviously got canceled). It's been hard for me to understand the thought process that made her want to take a bus when the station was being evacuated, and made her want to walk to work after that. I think it's been a case of the initial evacuation making her worry about getting to work on time and even though she didn't know about any explosions at that point she was already reacting in a panic. With the trauma of being near a blast, it must have anchored that thought process into becoming the most important mission for her to accomplish.

I was on a train when they started evacuating a station, and I was praying to myself that the train leaves the station quickly in case the evacuation was for a bomb. Little did I know the bombs were on the trains themselves and not in the station, but my initial reaction was to get out of that station and to get out of the train network and away from public places and crowds as quickly as possible. This article helps explaining this thought process to me.

joncooper 1 day ago 2 replies      
Thanks for posting that. It brought my awareness to something important.

I worked in 1 WTC and was about to get into the elevator when the first plane hit on 9/11. I was outside on the corner when the second plane hit.

When my head started to clear some time later--a week? two?--the clearest thought I had was: if my last act as a human had been connecting a data input form to a database table, it would have been a tremendous waste of my life.

Shortly thereafter I entered a new career and a new trajectory through life. The last 10 years have been amazing.

Living with the visceral awareness that sudden death is possible has changed me in many ways. Mostly for the better.

I do have some symptoms of PTSD. Low-flying planes freak me out intensely, as do sudden loud noises and low vibrations strong enough to shake things.

On balance, though, it has catalyzed tremendously positive change in my life. I'm glad that you've been able to make the same of it.

Cheers to being alive.

(Bizarrely, I was also in London on 7/7. A bomb squad truck nearly ran me over (on my bike) going the wrong way down the road near Liverpool St. station, and my wife was very nearly on the Hackney Wick bus.)

hopeless 1 day ago 1 reply      
Very well written.

I had a similar experience with the tricks the mind can play after a bad car accident a few years ago. Although I didn't know it at the time, I had broken almost everything except my left arm and neck. But I could quite plainly see that my right femur bent in an unnatural curve like a floppy puppet's leg. Yet still I insisted that the rescuers couldn't phone my wife because she was 7mths pregnant and had gone back to bed that morning after feeling sick.

Subconciously, my brain was thinking I shouldn't bother her with this and I'd be patched up and home for dinner. I just couldn't process the obvious inputs like a normal rational person.

Also, although I remained concious throughout, I don't remember much of the incident and had no idea how they got me out of the car until I saw the police photos. The mind is a strange thing.

bootload 23 hours ago 0 replies      
'I should be 1 of those people who can help others in this situation, not just a passive, helpless observer. I can help'

Kudos Dan.

I've noticed first hand as both a first-responder & bystander the different ways people react. It's broadly in 2 categories, those paralysed by the automatic Fear/Flight/Freeze response and those Individuals who shape the instinctual response with a trained response, overriding the Survival Stress Reaction [0] most people exhibit. You see 2 groups of people: those frozen by instinct and others who run towards trouble. People who are trained to respond run towards trouble.

The story Dan has written is a natural human story telling response to traumatic events. Re-telling the story(s) lets you make sense of what has happened and re-gain control over their own destiny. Safety is also being sought here. Control, safety & the knowledge you won't die.

Which brings me to my next point. Not everyone wakes up thinking, today's the day I'm going to be injured or killed then watch other people get injured or killed? Police, Ambo's, firemen, soldiers are exposed to this threat every day. They train hard and have the necessary support structures (sort-of) to survive. Civilians don't, so Scar stories of survival fulfil an important role.

People who have been in situations such as @swombat as a civvie or @mattdeboard in the military or @idan living in a potentially dangerous environment, the key thing they are striving for is to feel and be safe. Being safe is something you don't know you have until it's not there.

[0] SSR or Survival Stress Reaction is where "a state where a ‘perceived' high threat stimulus automatically engages the sympathetic nervous system.", Siddle.,B. "Sharpening the Warriors Edge: The Psychology & Science of Training"

nosequel 1 day ago 0 replies      
Amazing writing, thanks for taking the time out to lay out every detail. It is hard to put yourself into an event like this when you at home sitting on your couch watching it on TV. I watch and see numbers (56 dead) and it is hard to really get emotionally involved with people who you most likely don't know when you have such generic details. Reading this, I feel like I was there, even for a moment.

Thanks again for putting something horrible like a bombing in perspective. I'm glad to hear you came out of it stronger on the other end.

josscrowcroft 1 day ago 0 replies      
This is really great writing. Brings back very vivid memories from that day, which in retrospect I can't believe I never wrote down.

I was playing hooky from school, in a flat in Kings Cross, with my then-girlfriend, after a very late night. I was alerted to what had happened around 10am, when I answered the phone on perhaps the 7th ring, figuring I was in trouble for sciving.

I think my mum had already started planning my funeral by that stage. There's probably a decent chance that, had I gone to school, given my lateness, I might have been a bit closer to the action - the moral of which I take to be "skipping school saved my life"

Looking back now, I remember how the sense of relief I felt very quickly turned to a sense of despair and numbness, as more and more pictures came on the TV and more details emerged. The entire city was bleeding, but in a very strange way, much like what the writer of this post describes, a kind of zombie-like state where everything feels disconnected.

tlear 1 day ago 0 replies      
Very well written thank you for sharing, very few people can put this into words. What changed my life about 3 years ago was getting hit by a car (was my fault ran across a street to catch a streetcar). I clearly remember the whole thing, rolling over the hood, having the foot broken by the wheel. Lying on the pavement with people around me. Changed my life for the better.

Funny thing, I was carrying a sandwich I just bought and got pretty upset when paramedic stepped on the bag where the sandwich was!

corin_ 1 day ago 3 replies      
Daniel, do you still think that following the driver's advice to not look right was a good decision?

I ask because I don't think, in the same situation, I would have been able to resist it, and I honestly have no idea what effect that sight might have.

When you do feel fear on public travel now (and I guess it was even worse in the past), what goes on in your mind? Is it one of those things where you know really that your worry is foolish but you can't help yourself, or is your entire brain telling you that you could be in trouble?

krig 1 day ago 0 replies      
I was in the tube that day (but at a station far from the actual bombs) and probably because of that plus travelling the next day, I saw almost nothing of the coverage or what actually happened. I only noticed that something had happened after exiting the tube and getting stopped when trying to get back down at Piccadilly. It's a strange thought to look back and know that only through random chance did I happen to be on a train that wasn't involved.
alexholehouse 1 day ago 0 replies      
Captivatingly written. I know what the author means regarding taking, "paralyzed by fear" as something figurative, not literal, until it actually happens to you.

I remember a few years ago (2006) seeing two very large military transport aircraft flying incredibly close together, very low, and directly towards the building I was in (on the 10th floor). I literally stopped mid sentence - they obviously turned away and went on to the nearby RAF base but for a while my brain just seemed to freeze. After the event, I felt a bit of a fraud and worried people might think I'd done it for dramatic effect, but it was totally involuntary - I just sat, motionless looking out the window for about 5 seconds.

flannell 16 hours ago 0 replies      
My wife worked in the city for one of the big banks. A chap who worked there was in a similar situation. He missed the train that had the bombers on board, but he decided to grab a bus to work instead. This also had one of the bombers upstairs which moments later detonated killing most of the people on the bus.
What made it even worse is that everyone who died that day was taken to a makeshift morgue on Moorgate which is overlooked by the people who worked in his team. A really shocking day.
heimidal 1 day ago 0 replies      
Thank you for writing about this experience. I'm sure it must not be easy to relate something so traumatic and intimate to thousands of strangers, even six years later.

Many people who experience something like this never find the lesson from these experiences as you have, instead ending up with PTSD or similar; I hope that our governments can begin to respond more humanely to tragedies like this and help those who aren't able to find their own path out of fear with counseling and other assistance.

Our response to terrorism over the years has largely been one of fighting the threat (and understandably so). We should add to it a response of compassion for those who, through misfortune, find themselves harmed mentally in a way that most of society cannot understand.

spiffistan 1 day ago 0 replies      
Incredibly powerful writing, even more so when combined with that track.
richthegeek 1 day ago 0 replies      
Thank you for sharing this - I was 17 and away from home (and news) when this happened and it never really struck home what happened that day.
padolsey 1 day ago 0 replies      
Thanks for posting this. A poignant reminder.
Maro 1 day ago 0 replies      
Well written by a regular HN contributor, but not hacker news. If somebody is interested in Daniel's writings, they can just subscribe to his RSS.
Where's Waldo? stackoverflow.com
403 points by bkaid  2 days ago   29 comments top 12
sergeyk 2 days ago 1 reply      
This is a toy example of the kind of problem that the field of Computer Vision is actively working on: object detection. In a (tiny) nutshell, our best answer for general images and objects is:

1) Instead of using the full color pixel image, use an "edge image" with some simple additional normalizations. If color is important, do this per color channel.

2) Create a dataset with as many cropped examples of the target object as you can find (mechanical turk is useful for annotating large datasets); every other crop of every image is a negative example.

3) Train a classifier (SVM if you want it to work, neural network if you're so inclined) using this dataset.

4) Apply the classifier to all subwindows of a new image to generate hypotheses of the target object location. This can be sped up in various ways, but this is the basic idea.

5) Post-process the hypotheses using context (can be as simple as simply finding the most confident hypotheses within a neighborhood).

If you're interested in object detection, an excellent recent summary of the recent decade of research is due to Kristen Grauman and Bastian Leibe: http://www.morganclaypool.com/doi/abs/10.2200/S00332ED1V01Y2... (do some googling if you don't have access to this particular PDF).

A cool paper from a few months ago that should be mentioned when commenting on a post called "Where's Waldo?" is http://www.cs.washington.edu/homes/rahul/data/WheresWaldo.ht...

TamDenholm 2 days ago 1 reply      
Something unrelated but perhaps interesting to some people, "Waldo" is actually a localised name for the USA and Canada, his original name is Wally.


6ren 2 days ago 0 replies      
Are there other examples of it working? (if there were links, I couldn't see them).

There's a danger of overfitting, where a technique works for one instance (or a subset of instances), but not in general. Detecting stripes could work in general, but as a SO commenter noted, "Where's Wally" images often include spurious stripes to undermine this detection strategy for humans.

rgarcia 1 day ago 0 replies      
I had to play around a little with the level. If the level is too high, too many false positives are picked out.

I was impressed until I read that--the guy is basically fitting the model/procedure to the training set (of size 1). I'd wait for a more general approach before accepting the answer.

kevinalexbrown 1 day ago 0 replies      
Cool. I've done some work on things like this before. Some of the things I do to make it work on multiple images:

Template matching is your friend in this case, because most Waldos look similar. You already tried this in a basic way by searching for the stripes of a given color. You can make it more powerful by making the template include more properties, and work in more contexts. For instance: what if Waldo's a different size?

The other option is to pretend you don't know what Waldo looks like, find him in a bunch of images, label the subimages as "waldo" candidates, measure certain properties of those subimages, and find which of coordinates of feature space have similar properties. Then use these properties as your template.

Finally, you could train a classifier on subwindows like sergeyk suggested. This has some difficulty because where's waldo images are difficult to subdivide into subwindows on the scale of a single person. Do you move pixel by pixel? Do you divide it into a grid? Each grid will contain weird parts of people in each box. Etc. If you do find a way to divide the image into "people" -- perhaps by doing a preliminary "person"-template sweep that identifies locations of people in the image -- then you can use a supervised learning algorithm to say "yes, this person is waldo" or "nope, FRWONG!", based on the image properties in the subwindow around that person.

dice 1 day ago 0 replies      
The algorithm described by Heike is essentially just looking for striped red and white shirts. Anyone who's done more than a couple of "Where's Waldo?" games knows that striped shirts are often thrown in to draw one's eye. In fact, in this very example there is another striped shirt (lower left corner, just above the wall) which could very well have been Waldo that this algorithm did not highlight. Without being able to recognize Waldo's human characteristics (thin, glasses, strong chin) the approach described will inevitably fail.
ofca 2 days ago 1 reply      
Programming potential never ceases to amaze me. I want to learn more. NOW!
viscanti 1 day ago 1 reply      
This needs to be an augmented reality mobile app. The problem on the AI side of things is that a good algorithm that reliably "learns" what Waldo looks like would need a substantial number of examples.

A good solution to this would get close, then calculate the probabilities of every "maybe-waldo" and then display the one with the highest probability of being Waldo. An augmented reality app that highlighted Waldo on every page would be awesome.

re 1 day ago 1 reply      
brianbreslin 2 days ago 0 replies      
interesting problem. i'd like to then apply this concept of finding a needle in a haystack to satellite imagery. Using super-computing + giant image data sets, you could theoretically find some pretty obscure stuff if you knew what you were looking for (hidden treasures???).
danso 2 days ago 1 reply      
Amusing application, but I'd like to see the version that finds Waldo on the page in which everyone is wearing striped shirts
jastr 2 days ago 0 replies      
This is undoubtedly a data point on the path to the singularity.
I'm starting to think LEGO is evil sinker.tumblr.com
391 points by Sukotto  5 days ago   283 comments top 67
nostromo 5 days ago  replies      
When I see these stories taking companies to task over why they sell what they do, I always wonder why nobody holds consumers to task.

For example: why doesn't Lego sell to girls? Why doesn't Barbie have more realistic features? Why don't car manufacturers offer an electric vehicle? Why doesn't McDonalds sell salads instead of fries? Why do record labels offer such crappy music?

It's easy to blame the companies -- but in reality it's very hard for a single company to change the macro culture that informs their product decisions. If you want to find the root cause, look at the users and ask why they demand the products they do. In this case: "why are so few parents buying Legos for their girls?" or "why do girls feel a stigma about playing with Legos?"

ericabiz 5 days ago  replies      
As a girl geek who grew up on Legos, this makes me really, really sad.

From the NPR article linked to from the article above: "Lego also consciously aimed for boy customers when it embarked on its stunning turnaround. Boys were easier to sell to than girls."


"The new Lego girl minifigures have names like Stephanie, Olivia, and Emma, and the building sets include a veterinary clinic, a hairdressing salon, a horse academy and a clinic."

We need more women scientists, girl geeks, etc. And for every person who loves to say "But boys and girls are just different!", there's a stunning example of sexist stereotypes embedded in the very things we buy our kids because our generation cherished them too...

(By the way, if you ever want a conclusive argument that girls being raised to love pink and hate math is societal, not genetic, read "Delusions of Gender: How Our Minds, Society, and Neurosexism Create Difference". It's pretty eye-opening, and has plenty of proof to back up its assertions.)

cstross 5 days ago 3 replies      
s/LEGO/toy manufacturers/

(There, I fixed it for you!)

The trend towards highly gendered media-tie in toys that are designed to generate follow-on sales opportunities for accessories rather than to encourage kids to develop their imagination through semi-structured but open-ended play nauseates me. I am doubtless betraying my personal bias here, but the corporate discovery that the quickest way to a parent's wallet is through their offspring is a bleakly exploitative example of market amorality; it may be legal, but is it decent?

bryanlarsen 5 days ago 3 replies      
I'm having trouble understanding the backlash against the new Lego for girls initiative. As the father of a couple of pre-school girls, I'm loving the new initiative.

It appears to consist of 3 things:

- realistic looking minifigs. Not square and not oversexed.

- additional brick colors, and not just pink.

- sets not based on movie tie-ins, but in real-world locations like an inventor's workshop, a café, an animal hospital and a beauty salon

These look like the perfect toys for young girls -- they encourage both creativity and role-playing. And as the latest science-based parenting books (Welcome to Your Child's Brain, etc) tell you, role-playing is the best way to develop self-control, which is the most valuable skill that can be imparted into a pre-schooler by a parent.

Sure, they're girly. So what? I want my girls to grow up proud to be girls, and aware that they can be whatever they want to be.

But to my mind, they seem better than most of the "boy" Lego sets out there, which appear to be much less repurposable, and are blatant commercial tie-ins or weapons of war.

javanix 5 days ago 7 replies      
Look: I will fully admit that these sets are really, really cool. My son is getting a gigantic Millenium Falcon set from Santa this year (DON'T TELL) and both my wife and I are excited to play with it too.

But it's a model kit. We will put it together once and we will play with it a lot and that will be that. It won't get remixed, won't get hacked. Eventually it'll come apart and be put away and not rebuilt because 1000 pieces is a pain in the ass.

This doesn't make any sense to me. Why on earth wouldn't you mix those pieces in with the rest of the pieces you already have from sets you've already disassembled? Sure, the marketing is a little much these days but unless I am sadly mistaken all the pieces still fit together like they did 30 years ago.

kellishaver 5 days ago 0 replies      
The top items on my daughter's (she's 9) Christmas list this year are the LEGO Space Center and LEGO Space Shuttle, both from the City collection. Other items on the list included some of the Alien Conquest sets.

The kid's got a ton of LEGO. The last thing she needs is more LEGO, but it's hands-down her favorite toy. She builds the sets and will play with/admire them for a while, then eventually all of the pieces get dumped into the Giant Bucket of LEGO, which is a huge 30gal bucket overflowing with bricks from sets we've bought her, and from my childhood and my husband's childhood (though oddly lacking in wheels). That's the beauty of LEGO and that huge mish-mash of a dozen sets works for any gender.

Maybe it's the fact that I already have a geek child who's into geek things (She's also getting a D&D red box this Christmas, per her request), but the marketing doesn't seem to have any effect on her. She just sees sets that she thinks looks cool and wants to buy them. I don't think that list would include veterinary clinics and pet spas from this new pinkification effort, either.... but even if it does, so what? You still end up with a bucket of mixed pieces for hours of endless, free-form creativity and building.

I do think that there are more sets available these days that are targeted toward boys, but I don't know that it's come at the expense of other options. You can still buy basic brick sets. There are still several items in the City series that aren't "cops and robbers" and things like the Mars Mission and Pharaoh's sets, or even the Harry Potter sets are no more boy-centric than the old LEGO space stuff used to be.

acabal 5 days ago 0 replies      
I've actually had similar thoughts about Lego in the past. When I was younger I used to love playing with the generic "space" Legos or the generic "castle" legos. Looking back, it was great because those sets where generic enough that you could imagine your own story for them. You wouldn't just be building sets, you'd be building universes.

Much of that is lost with movie-themed Legos. If a kid sees Star Wars and then goes to get the Star Wars Lego set, then the Luke Skywalker figure will always be Luke Skywalker, and the Vader figure will always be Vader, and you'll always need a Millenium Falcon around to join the party. Media tie-ins seem to greatly restrict (though of course not totally destroy) the potential for a kid to make up his own adventure. The universe is already imagined for you; in a sense, you become a participant, not a creator.

ahi 5 days ago 0 replies      
Got one of the castle themed products for a friend. The LEGO approved story:
"The Dragon Knights have captured the fair princess and locked her in their tower. The King's brave Knight sets forth to rescue her, but the tower is heavily fortified and well defended. Can he break through the iron gate and past the catapult to free her?"

I think my friend decided to retheme as an S&M brothel.

mhartl 5 days ago 0 replies      
A bit OT, but a fun exercise: every time you see the word "millennium", count how many "n"s there are. The answer is "one" an astonishing amount of the time, even in professionally edited copy. In fact, as of this writing the Google search for "Millennium Falcon" brings up an Amazon ad for"you guessed it"a "Lego Millenium [sic] Falcon". (Full confession: Around 2000, I was mortified to discover that I, a card-carrying spelling Nazi, had been misspelling it for years.)

N.B. You can remember the right spelling by recalling that a millennium is a thousand (mille) years (anni).

bad_user 5 days ago 1 reply      
It's simple - universal construction kits don't do well in commercials targeted at children.

The very ad he's mentioning targets parents not children. Marketing for toys used to be targeted at parents.

But not anymore - there are cartoon TV stations airing all day, filled with commercials for shitty toys. Then the child sees these toys in stores and starts crying. Parent gives up and buys them. End of story.

neovive 5 days ago 1 reply      
Here are some HN perspectives from 2009 (when Lego announced a large increase in profits (http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=768093). The article is no longer available on Yahoo Finance, but can be found here (http://www.hartfordbusiness.com/news9940.html).

Branded, themed Lego sets simply sell really well and Lego is responding to the demand with increased capacity and more focus on these markets.

Here is a scenario of why it works:
Visualize a parent and child walking down the toy aisle at a typical large retailer (e.g. Target, WalMart, ToysRUs, etc.). The shelves are full of dozens of single-focus, low cost, electronic toys that are flashy and are very appealing to kids. A big box of Lego bricks just doesn't provide the same instant gratification as a talking toy with a "demo" button. Although, the long-term value of the box of Lego bricks is clearly much higher, explaining that to a 4 year-old is very difficult as they are concurrently making a strong appeal for, an even cheaper, talking doll.

Lego has responded with purchasing shelf space in retailers for branded sets that offer instant gratification while also satisfying the parents need for a more creative toy. Regardless, most of the pieces from the branded sets end of in the "big box" of Legos :).

jrockway 5 days ago 1 reply      
I think the key is to remind you kids that once you've built something according to the instructions and you're bored, it's time to take it apart and build something else. I remember playing with a lot of LEGO kits when I was a kid, and I always did this. It's true that, like coloring books, building from kits discourages creativity. But that's easy to fix with something called parenting. Let the instructions be an inspiration, not a prescription.

(And, it's not a bad skill to be able to follow instructions. I hear people on forums like HN complaining about how difficult it is to build IKEA furniture. If they played with LEGO when they were a kid, they'd probably be able to build their bookshelf too :)

jacquesm 5 days ago 0 replies      
I'm an equal-opportunity lego distributor. Girls as well as Boys get just one kind of toy from me: Lego. Duplo for the urchins, 'regular' for 4 to 8's and technic for the older ones. Never seen a kid turn it down, whatever age or gender. For a lark I gave a bunch of it to some adults, claiming that I'd forgotten their birth dates. They ended up being at least as happy as the kids.

I've never given any 'themed' lego, just the plain stuff, no minifigs or other non constructive bits.

Lego is what made me see the power of building using re-usable blocks, the best possible primer for becoming a programmer that I am aware of outside of maths (and you typically don't start math beyond counting when you're a toddler).

amirmc 5 days ago 2 replies      
It's not Lego that's "highly-problematic". They're simply trying to give the kids(parents?) of today what they want.

If you follow the NPR article linked in the article, you'll see that Lego clearly did their homework before embarking on this new line. In light of this, I think it's odd for them to be accused of reinforcing stereotypes when their research showed that this is how (most) girls like to play.

I do think it's sad that we now have 'boy-lego' and 'girl-lego', but (for the moment), that appears to be appropriate for the world we live in. Maybe some of those girls will want to do more than just play with handbrushes and handbags and check out the Technics or Mindstorms. Who knows.

NPR article: http://www.npr.org/2011/12/15/143724644/ith-new-toys-lego-ho...

LEGO product lines: http://www.lego.com/en-us/products/default.aspx

firefoxman1 5 days ago 0 replies      
I don't think they're evil so much as just catering to modern society. Legos are from an era where way more people built, fixed, and tinkered with things. Nowadays what do you do when your computer, phone, dishwashers, tv, etc. breaks? Take it to get repaired or get a new one. No tinkering, no opening it up to see how it works before you throw it away, none of that. So rather than thinking Lego is to blame for this attitude, I think Lego is just following their market. And can you really blame a company for wanting to stay afloat instead of following a shrinking breed of people and a idealistic mindset into the grave?
tomjen3 5 days ago 0 replies      
Before you complain, you can still get a big bag of Lego:


I say still, because it is a family business and it seems those who would have gone on to run it have left the family tradition and are now much more interested in enjoying their wealth (which is considerable, in that they are one of the richest families in Denmark).

They would be the fourth generation, so I guess it was bound to happen. At least my children should be able to cut their teeth on Legos.

oz 5 days ago 3 replies      
" But if they've become toys marketed to a single gender, then we're just reproducing the already awful gender imbalance in STEM education and employment."

Why is it we never hear anyone decrying the 'awful gender imbalance' in Human Resources, Nursing and Teaching?

blhack 5 days ago 1 reply      
Just stop buying lego and start buying K-nex instead.

They are almost infinitely better. They are incredibly open ended, and can be used to build some very complex stuff.

toast76 5 days ago 1 reply      
I don't get it.

You complain that a 5000 piece lego set is movie themed, when the only thing movie themed are the minifigs and the box it came in.

As kids every single lego set we had was built into the "model" precisely once, and then dumped in with the rest of the lego. We kept the instructions, but would never rebuild the original set. That's hardly the point of Lego.

As an adult I have a huge collection of Star Wars lego sets, including the Imperial Star Destroyer and Death Star. When my son is old enough (he's not yet 3), they'll get dismantled and put in a bucket all together. From that day on they WILL be generic lego pieces. The fact that they came in a Star Wars box is then irrelevant.

samstave 5 days ago 1 reply      
Whomever decided to kill Space Legos needs to be shot into orbit.

The model kits all suck. I went and bought $15 tubs of the wall of bricks recently and my kids get far more use from those random pieces than they do kits.

ugh 5 days ago 0 replies      
This is not a new development. Lego has had sets loudly targeting girls (or better: stereotypes about girls) since 1991. Lego Paradisa set where sold all through the 90s. Here is the Poolside Paradiese from 1992: http://www.brickset.com/detail/?Set=6416-1

The Lego Belville sets are similar and are still sold today. Here is the Pony Trekking set from 1997: http://www.brickset.com/detail/?Set=5854-1

It's possible to go even further back in time for more stunning displays of sexism. In 1971 many sets had photos of kids on them. There was a boy pushing a truck or putting together a car. Now guess what the only sets with girls on them were. A kitchen and a living room: http://www.brickset.com/detail/?Set=261-4

All that does't make it better. Yes, this is a problem that has to be remedied. But it is not a recent development.

In general I have to say that Lego improved massively since the dark ages (late 90s and early 2000s). I was just looking at some new Lego Creator sets and blown away by them. You couldn't get cool stuff like that during my (late) childhood (i.e. late 90s and early 2000s). I still loved the heck out of Lego during my childhood but today's sets are just cooler.

tristan_louis 5 days ago 1 reply      
This is, unfortunately, part of a trend against "make" culture. While it does impact LEGO (the tie-in stuff is pretty useless and the LEGO city sets still have more wholesome brick sets that can be used in more than one fashion), it is going on across many facet of toy manufacturing.

Those of us who are parents of young children now may remember the days in school when they taught us basic programming as part of computer training (either logo or basic, for example) which put us on the path to learning how to get the computer to do stuff we wanted it to do instead of consuming pre-made stuff on it. In today's world, a large amount of what's offered to kids is stuff that tied in to TV shows or movies, with little interest in helping develop the next generation of makers.

Sadly, LEGO's initial downfall was because it try to keep on focusing on the makers and its resurgence was on the back of pre-made, pre-imagined tools: when a kid is given a star wars or harry potter set, he/she is now letting his/her imagination run wild but is constrained by the pre-established story lines set in place by Hollywood (because let's face it, the tie-ins are to movies, not books).

The sad part is that the long term impact of this may be that it creates grown-ups further down the line who will feel that laws like SOPA are OK.

pkamb 5 days ago 1 reply      
That cops-and-robbers LEGO advent calendar is pretty weird.

I still have this guy hanging on my tree:

hugs 5 days ago 0 replies      
LEGO is very closed source. I'm fixing that with my http://bitbeam.org project. It's an open source hardware Lego Technic compatible building toy that you can manufacture yourself. (I lasercut my bitbeams at TechShop in San Francisco.) My long term plan is to make a bitbeam-based CNC milling machine that can make more beams. I won't just sell the "bricks", I'll open source and sell the machines that make the bricks. Opening up the manufacturing process is something I suspect LEGO would never do. Also, I'd like to see a fully open source equivalent to Mindstorms - Arduino for the electronics and Bitbeam for the mechanics.
vacri 5 days ago 0 replies      
This is not new. When I was growing up with lego in the early 80s, there was a line of lego marketed at girls which were sets of lego that you made jewelery with.

Also, what nonsense is this that you won't make anything with the millenium falcon because 1000 pieces is too many? What garbage. How can lego possibly fix the issue that you refuse to make anything else with a set with lots of pieces?

Anyway, lego sets aren't atomic - buy a lego set, play with it, then mix it with your other stuff. You've just waxed lyrical about an ad where you can 'just make stuff', right after refusing to do so with a large set, with no real reason given.

maximusprime 5 days ago 0 replies      
This is really really really boring.

Yes LEGO make LEGO "sets" that make a specific model. They also make a ton of generic building sets which teach you a ton of stuff. They even have walls of bricks in the shops where you can pick and choose which individual bricks you need.

If you don't like the specific building sets, don't buy those ones.

Every so often some people start moaning about how Lego is not the same as it was in their day. Stop whining.

(I've been a massive Lego fan for the last 30 years).

Oh and AWESOME NEWS! New DC sets coming in January! Now we can have Batman Lego sets again!!!!!

billpatrianakos 5 days ago 0 replies      
Eh, they don't make 'me like they used to, right? I hardly think LEGO is promoting gender stereotypes. The new girl products and what they sell to boys aren't the problem but a symptom of a larger disease. Gender stereotypes are created within cultures and companies like LEGO don't really have an agenda like people would try to have us think. Instead they market what sells. The culture at large has put boys and girls into their respective roles and companies simply ride the trends. If boys were supposed to be in flowers and wear underwear on their heads then they'd make little Lego flower kits that came with little Lego men with underwear as hats. Companies have to look out for their share holders. If gender stereotypes are the norm then that's what they'll sell. If we, as a culture, change those stereotypes the companies will follow. It's great to be able to commend a company for taking the lead on such issues but we can hardly expect it. That change has to come from families first.
MikeMacMan 5 days ago 0 replies      
I don't besmirch LEGO for doing what is an entirely rational for them: design products whose pieces, like puzzle pieces, don't have much versatility outside the context of that playset, leading children to tire of them quickly and want a new set.

Of course, LEGO still sells the general-purpose sets with instruction books to show you how to construct dozens of different buildings/vehicles/etc. My son prefers those, but every kid is different.

The No Girls Allowed theme is pretty easy to explain: mass-market films of the type that will have product tie-ins are almost universally aimed at boys, and LEGO is simply downstream from that trend.

There are toys that give kids' imaginations some exercise, and there are those that, like video games and Harry Potter LEGO sets, don't deliver quite the same workout. It's up to you to cultivate in your child a healthy appetite for the former.

EDIT: I would add that the Toy Story movies do a good job of echoing the nostalgia that adults feel for those older, simpler toys. My son and my affection for those movies has in some way conditioned us to stretch our imaginations and breathe new life into old toys.

duke_sam 5 days ago 0 replies      
I just bought a couple of the Builders of Tomorrow Set #6177. All regular pieces, no tie-in or specialist parts. Expand with a couple of specific sets for the minifigs or custom pieces and you are set. If you are lucky enough to live near a Lego store you can also expand the collection using the wall of bricks.

I've never liked the Lego kits (even as a kid) for the reasons already mentioned. You build them once and then the (building) creativity is gone. Give me a pile of 4x2 bricks any day.

mkramlich 5 days ago 0 replies      
two reactions:

1. yes and after you buy that specific-model-guns-ships set you can (b) build anything you want with it; (b) build model put on shelf never touch (or play with it); (c) build model then tear it apart and use pieces to make something from your imagination, etc. there are no rules. there are both generic brick-like pieces and special-purpose pieces and they can be put together in literally millions of ways, and now you can even see and share photos on the web, both for ideas and showing off.

2. girls really are different from boys, overall, and in the general case; I've lost track of the number of males I've known that like/liked LEGO and the number of girls/women that were like, "meh"; and I've seen first-hand, with my own eyes, over and over again, that my young nieces LOVE to play with dolls and dresses and princesses and jewelry, whereas LEGO's and guns? meh

LEGO is like a shining beacon in a sea of sludge and noise, in terms of educational value for kids and long-term replayability into adulthood, compared to most other toys. Criticizing LEGO is a bit like criticizing Michael Jordan for missing some shots in a game. It's Michael Jordan, mmkay?

Instructions show you how to build what's on the box. You are not required to do that, nor are you even required to buy LEGO at all.

commieneko 5 days ago 0 replies      
I've been a Lego fan for, what, 45, 50 years? I've never in that time bought a single "kit" from them. You buy bricks. And other parts. But kits? Why would I want to build someone else's design. The whole idea behind Lego, as I've understood since I was 5 years old, is that you make your own cool stuff.

I've built space ships and air planes and monsters. I think I even built a Starship Enterprise once. But designing the things yourself is part of the process.

When my nieces were prime Lego age, at the advice of their mother, I did look at some kits, but was horrified at the prices. The bricks are pricy enough. I converted my money into tubs of bulk bricks. You can never have enough bricks.

(Now I did make some Tinker-Toy machines from company plans, but only enough to understand the principle. I then adapted them to my own nefarious purposes. I did the same with balsa wood flying model airplanes later.)

tlrobinson 5 days ago 1 reply      
I was also dismayed by their focus on movie tie-ins and set-specific pieces, but I really like the LEGO landmark/architecture series:


They're built with pretty much all standard pieces (though not necessarily standard colors).

RyanMcGreal 4 days ago 0 replies      
> We will put it together once and we will play with it a lot and that will be that. It won't get remixed, won't get hacked.

My kids have gotten their share of Star Wars and Harry Potter themed Lego over the years, and in every case the original set was eventually taken apart - usually bit by bit in a kind of salvage operation for needed parts - and incorporated into the Lego bin. Once the pieces go into general circulation, they're used to build an arbitrary collection of original ships, buildings and so on.

veyron 5 days ago 0 replies      
I disagree. I think, with many of the new sets, a whole class of new pieces were explored.

As a kid, the only cars I really remember were the ones with the small base (3x4 with an elevated segment for the tiny wheels). When I rediscovered legos, I noticed that many sets have larger base plates (for larger vehicles) -- width 6 stubs.

And the pick-a-brick are surprisingly deep in terms of shapes and sizes (I definitely don't remember the curved translucent pieces designed to emulate glass).

joelhooks 5 days ago 1 reply      
The BrikCrate has changed how my kids approach Lego. It was completely "build the set, forget about it" prior to installing it. Now they build like crazy in free form. http://www.brikcrate.com/

Our daughter enjoys building too.

shin_lao 5 days ago 1 reply      
I think he forgot you can now order whatever LEGO piece you are looking for online.

So basically LEGO tries to sell to people who will not hack on the LEGO with very cool models but provides formidable tools if you want to hack your own LEGO.

You can even submit your own models if I'm correct.

gus_massa 5 days ago 0 replies      
I don't know how to fix this for the whole society, but it is possible to fix this for your daughter: Go and buy a generic Lego set, for example http://www.amazon.com/b/ref=amb_link_355233462_11?ie=UTF8...

The same rule applies for yours nieces. And for the (female) friends of your children (If you really want to look more normal, you can buy the "pink" box.).

My 9 years old daughter has:

* Her own chemistry set

* An "X-100" microscopy (It is really of my wife.)

* A Meccano-like metalic cosnstruction set.

* A Snap Circuits Jr electronic Set.

And this year, one of her "Christmas" present is an Arduinos Sparkfun Professional Inventor's Kit, because she wants to make a robot, but she didn't want a robot kit. (I still don't know we will complete the robot, but the idea is to start with something simple and iterate.)

If you think that it is important to give your daughter a good scientific formation (or if you think that it is the only sensible way to raise a children), you can fight back.

To see another example, go to the Sylvia's Super-Awesome Maker Show! : http://sylviashow.com/

RexRollman 5 days ago 0 replies      
Am I the only one who would love to have a real, life-size set of Legos, big enough to build an actual dwelling? That would be a dream come true.
harryf 5 days ago 1 reply      
Side note but the ultimate evil present for parents of small kids is to buy the kid a Playmobil Castle for Christmas - http://www.amazon.com/Lion-Knights-Castle-by-Playmobil/dp/B0...

As a parent that spent over 16 hours assembling one last Christmas then watching it disintegrate again, the "joy" this gift brings cannot be described. A great present if you have a brother or sister with kids you feel compelled to annoy.

jkeel 5 days ago 1 reply      
My daughter loves legos and seems to really love the Harry Potter legos. I do agree that getting generic legos instead of boy centric seems more challenging but they are out there.

What I really connected with more in this article was the advent calendar with the cops and robbers. My wife told me a while back, "I got this cool lego advent calendar online". I was like, "cool!". Then I saw this cops and robbers theme and I told her, "Is this really what Christmas is about in the US now? <santa voice>Hey kids! Be careful out there as there are people that want to break into your house and steal your stuff!</santa voice>"

I know, I know... If I don't like it then don't buy it. I agree. I still think it's a strange advent calendar even though my son actually likes it.

ja27 5 days ago 0 replies      
My daughter grew up with LEGO and still plays with them. She doesn't need pink or purple blocks or over-sized female figures. All she wants different is a few female minifigs once in a while. I don't think there is a single one in either advent calendar. There are almost none anymore except Hermione in the Harry Potter licensed sets. Somewhat ironically, one of the few we have is the female doctor from last season's FIRST LEGO League competition set.
code_duck 5 days ago 1 reply      
While I vastly prefer the open-ended building blocks to the themed sets, I did like the semi-generic Lego space theme as a child. Also very cool were Tente, a Spanish space themed building kit series... they were very futurist and stylish: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tente_(Toys)

The more open ended toys clearly have an advantage in terms of creativity, and most children have creativity to spare.

betageek 5 days ago 0 replies      
Lego's patent on the basic block design has run out so it's actually a pretty smart strategy of Lego to move to licensed properties over the last decade - what else could they do? I've already seen some Hello Kitty "minifigs" with Lego compatible blocks, that's just the tip of the iceberg.


trout 4 days ago 0 replies      
They've also got the 'Creator' line which is more of what I traditionally think of Lego.

So, when I bought a set that's the one I chose. Now, I did have to wade through the other 30 brands to find it, but I was happy they still had at least one choice.

Now more people should buy these if the market wants it - but I'll agree these aren't marketed enough.

kin 5 days ago 0 replies      
So I played the Lego board game series Heroica recently and at first I thought it was brilliant. It's pretty much a simplified version of D&D where you build the map with Legos. Then at the end I realized that the game-play pieces were set specific and you couldn't do what I thought was the point.

What I thought was that you could use any lego piece you want and add it to the set and use any lego figure and add it to the set and simply follow the same gameplay mechanics to a map limited only by your imagination. Let's play Heroica with Harry Potter pieces. Nope can't do that. You have to purchase their overpriced sets and only play what the sets let you do.

Looks like they're just looking for cash based off of numbers. Bummer.

sceaj 4 days ago 0 replies      
My daughter is 4. She loves LEGOs. She also loves bugs, snakes, sharks, dinosaurs, Star Wars, her train set, Barbies, princesses, fairies, puppies, and sneaking into her grandma's makeup.

My son is 11 months old. He's taken a liking to cars and balls, but he also loves his sister's Barbies. Particularly, he likes to pull their hair, but I think he's drawn to the (ahem, slight) humanness they possess. They look friendly.

Separating "boys' toys" from "girls' toys" is pretty much nonsense. Of course, older boys aren't going to want to play with Barbies. Not necessarily because they wouldn't enjoy it, but because they are marketed to girls, and, most importantly, they would get made fun of for doing so. Were it socially acceptable for boys to play with Barbies, I promise they would.

Realize that when we're shopping for toys for my daughter, the toy store is twice as big for her, because she's not aware that she isn't supposed to like action figures and rc cars.

I think the genderizing of colors is just crazy. What makes pink a "girl's color" and blue a "boy's color" ? I'm convinced it's just marking influence. Most girls' clothes are pinks and purples, and similar "girly" colors. With that, most of what my daughter wears is pink or purple. Of course she loves the colors; we drape her in them daily. She chose blue, green, and red for her bedroom, and we let her do that, instead of saying "No, no, those colors are for boys."

zyb09 5 days ago 0 replies      
Buy the right thing for your daughter, that you think will influence her in the right way? How come the responsibility to raise a child lies not in the parents anymore, but rather in companys and what they want to sell to them. Nothing is stopping you from dumping a big pile of mixed LEGO pieces in her room for christmas.
batiudrami 5 days ago 0 replies      
I think you're confusing 'evil' with 'takes reasonable actions to ensure that it, as a company, is as profitable as possible'.
rglover 5 days ago 0 replies      
“With New Toys, Lego Hopes To Build Girls Market.”

That, right there, is the problem. The people making the toys don't find value in making children happy or inspiring them to be creative/innovative; when all is said and done, girls are just another market.

gavanwoolery 5 days ago 1 reply      
<sarcasm> Wait...a toy that is oriented primarily towards boys? It must be evil! </sarcasm> In that case, Barbie is evil, GI Joe is evil, Transformers are evil, My Little Pony is evil, etc...
emp_ 5 days ago 0 replies      
I buy legos 1-2 a year for my four girls, I never get anything with themes tho.

Only basic blocks and let their skills do the rest, you'd be amazed what they can do.

gibsonf1 4 days ago 0 replies      
For the most amazing building toy with great hackability, I highly recommend Uberstix - you can build planes that fly, boats that sail, robots, buildings, dynamic systems, catapults etc etc: http://www.uberstix.com/
seagreen 5 days ago 0 replies      
I'd like to make a point that applies to some (but by no means all) of the comments above. Outrage isn't a very useful emotion. It's become the default emotion for things like this because politicians like to keep people in a state of frothy indignation. That's carried over to the rest of our culture but it's not a good thing.

Resolve is a much better emotion than outrage. What can I do to encourage better behavior? Buying good LEGO sets as presents for children and evangelizing about LEGO to friends spring immediately to mind. Or maybe getting involved with the 3D printing movement.

In summary, I'm suspicious that alternating between "intellectual curiosity" and "resolving to take action" is a much better way of reading articles on the internet than the alternate strategy of alternating intellectual curiosity and outrage.

alanh 5 days ago 0 replies      
I Made Things with LEGO blocks growing up. I loved the kits and the space themes. But I would always end up creating my own spaceship.

My young sisters build… but they mostly just build very simple props and then play with the LEGO people like dolls, inventing dramas and friendships and the like.

It's the same set of LEGO bricks I used.

Is it evil to recognize this?

djhworld 4 days ago 0 replies      
What I'm struggling to understand is, why are they releasing these new style girly minifigs?

I always thought Lego was supposed to be gender agnostic

jacobr 5 days ago 0 replies      
If you want random bricks or just don't care to spend a fortune, look for used Lego and Duplo (big Legos) and just run it through the dish washer.
wgrover 5 days ago 0 replies      
LEGO's "Creationary" game always gives me pause. I suppose it's 3D "Pictionary" but the name makes me think it'll be about disproving evolution...


kghose 5 days ago 0 replies      
Oh, BTW, I just had to share this guy's work:


Especially his sand crawler. I really liked that


rokhayakebe 5 days ago 3 replies      
Does LEGO have some sort of patent on "legos"? In other words are other companies allowed to build similar kits?
codergirl 5 days ago 0 replies      
This is offensive, I will just have to stick with my computer engineer barbie instead: http://gizmodo.com/5470587/computer-engineer-barbie-has-a-ph...
joejohnson 5 days ago 0 replies      
There are LEGO advent calendars!? That is so cool. I'm definitely getting one next year.
tombell 5 days ago 1 reply      
I feel the need to point out the obvious. It's LEGO not LEGOS or legos.
littlenag 5 days ago 0 replies      
I've been extremely sad the past 5 years with lego. I graduated college in 2006 and when I got a real job I thought that for Christmas I would be getting my niece and nephew legos. I loved them growing up (technic for the win!) and wanted to get them started on this obsession as well. But try as I might the trend that I saw start when I was 10 or 12 has continued to almost completely corrupt what I recall lego as being. No longer is it a where you get to imagine and design, and then play, all the "work" of design and imagination has been removed leaving only the "play". That's all kids want right, to play? Aw well, at least I got to have some good times.
ajuc 4 days ago 0 replies      
I wonder if rep-rap can print good enough lego pieces?
twodayslate 5 days ago 1 reply      
What is wrong with Nerf? I love the new stuff they put out. I would have loved a Nerf Sword when I was a kid!
brain5ide 4 days ago 0 replies      
LEGO used to be a brand. Now it's more of a platform.
draggnar 5 days ago 0 replies      
in america this is called having a niche
Dear Congress, It's No Longer OK To Not Know How The Internet Works vice.com
382 points by nextparadigms  4 days ago   77 comments top 24
meric 3 days ago 3 replies      
We're talking amongst ourselves, agreeing with each other. This letter is targeted at us, not congressmen.

I am almost certain every letter any MPAA lobbyist sends to any congressman does not call the congressman a "jack-ass" in the second paragraph. Or any paragraph at all. I tentatively suggest we might have more success if we do the same.

What do congressmen want? Influence, votes and praise. What are we doing? Criticising ("stupid", "jackass", "corrupt", "ignorant") and telling them how to do their jobs. ("They should X, they should Y"). Naturally any congressman will feel defensive as soon as they read our "internet engineer" writing.

I propose a three point plan, to ensure the long-term security of our internet:

1. Tell congressman how important they are, because our personal freedoms and privacy are at risk, and they are the only ones who can protect us.

(Rather than important because they protect content owners from piracy, or being important because of some potential job at Universal when they retire)

2. Offer congressman the choice of being "Defender of personal freedom/privacy" vs "Distributor's stooge".

(Rather than champion of artists' rights vs protector of pirates)

3. Educate public of SOPA and tell congressman how many votes they are going to get by defending the public against the SOPA law that cracks down on small businesses on the internet, many of which are operated by your everyday man.

I'm sure every congressman, when first elected, thought to themselves about how they are going to change the way the government works and always represent the best interests of the people. I suggest we re-ignite this vision that exists in every congressman.

EDIT: I just realised I'm republican, with all my talk of "freedom", "privacy" and "small businesses". :)

noonespecial 3 days ago 2 replies      
I just wish they'd stop thinking of it as a funny, cute, or self-deprecating bit of humor to stand up and say "I'm no tech wizard, I can't even set my (vcr|alarm clock|mobilePhone).

Its not funny.

It should be as shameful and troubling as getting up and saying "I'm no 'student' and I don't know how to do this 'reading' thing, but here's what I think about books."

GigabyteCoin 3 days ago 4 replies      
In all fairness, "knowing how the internet works" is a gargantuan task. I doubt even many HN members could comment without making a mistake at the SOPA hearings as well.

The fact remains that something like congress (a group of people to vote on literally everything we do) is required in a democracy, and "a group of people" is never going to know everything there is to know about everything.

There are probably a million farmers out there as well who strongly believe that congress should understand the genetic modification of seeds, for example.

shingen 4 days ago 3 replies      
Quite frankly they don't even know how a normal economy works, how manufacturing works, what generates real middle class job growth, how wealth is created (hint: not from insider deals via political connections). They're like captains of a ship that know nothing about how a ship is built or what makes it float.
tlb 4 days ago 3 replies      
From a sufficiently conservative point of view, SOPA outlaws piracy. Of course they're not interested in the pirates explaining technical details of pirating. They know it when they see it.
GuiA 4 days ago 1 reply      
Most of us perceive this huge aberration because we are in tech, but the average person is completely oblivious to that and probably thinks that legislators know what they are reasoning about.

The scary part is when you realize that they are statistically just as uneducated in many other areas that they take decisions in (especially those that might touch on scientific issues and require rigorous analysis: ecology, medecine, etc.) and there's not much done to prevent that.

einhverfr 3 days ago 2 replies      
I wonder how far we should take this. TCP/IP training for all Congressmen? How about including detailed briefings of how MPLS works as well?

Actually the tubes metaphor is closer (particularly regarding MPLS backbones) than people are willing to accept both because of the pipe metaphor (a socket being two pipes) and the use of label switching (which acts logically as a big series of pipes).

And along these lines, bandwidth was originally a technical term in plumbing.....

suprgeek 2 days ago 0 replies      
Yes Congress it is perfectly OK to not know how the Internet works.

If congressmen/women can pass all manner of legislation without knowing how Medicine or Medical care works, How Car manufacturing works, How basic economics works, How Basic Science Research works, How Global climate works, etc, etc - Why should the Internet be a special case?

Face it Median Age at which Senators take office is 51* years (with a few exceptions) Ignoring all the special interests, Politics, etc etc - How many 51+ year olds (non -IT) are really comfortable with the Web?


JoshTriplett 3 days ago 1 reply      
Actually, I have no problem with Congress lacking knowledge about how the Internet works, as long as they keep their hands off of it.
jen_h 3 days ago 0 replies      
Dear Congress, it may be okay to not know how the Internet works. "Math is hard!" and all that. However, your oath of office dictates that you uphold the Constitution, including and especially the Fifth Amendment.
ggchappell 3 days ago 0 replies      
I don't agree.

It's quite acceptable to me for Congress not to know how technical stuff works. But they do need to pay attention to the input of their constituents and experts in the field. They also need to make sure constituents get enough information, in a timely manner, to allow them to advise Congress appropriately.

P.S. Why the endless mockery of the late Ted "Series of Tubes" Stevens? (Because he said "tube" instead of "pipe"?)

dcaldwell 3 days ago 1 reply      
I understand the author's frustration that Congress does not understand how the internet works. But does anyone know of any simple article or books that would be able to teach non-tech savvy Congressmen how the internet works? The material would probably need to be short enough for them to digest in 1 full day at a maximum. If anyone has any great suggestions, I would be happy to pass them along to my Congressman.
vaksel 3 days ago 2 replies      
Frankly, it's about time Google gets into politics, and starts throwing their weight(and money) around.

Google makes more money than the entire opposition combined. Create a internet freedom pac, fill it with a few hundred million, hire a few lobbyists, and buy back the government.

cmcewen 3 days ago 0 replies      
Dear Congress,

It's no longer okay (and never has been) to listen to people who are paid to convince you to pass a law that benefits only them. Instead, you should listen to the people who know what they are talking about and aren't being paid.

aj700 3 days ago 0 replies      
rather than post lists of ip addresses somwhere (which, btw, won't work on virtual servers that have multiple sites on one ip) we need something the rest of the world can link to if we expect Americans to use the links on our site, so we can write for example href="


which returns http-equiv refresh; url=

-- essentially a web-based, but trustworthy dns service.

there are sites like


but they're presumably just doing a lookup on a us-based nameserver, we need a site that uses an uncensored server and that provides an http redirect.

Is there to be direct blocking of ip addresses at all? Will everyone nerdy in America just be able to change their OS DNS settings to something outside the US?

SODaniel 3 days ago 1 reply      
Actually, it's 100% OK to not know how the Internet works. What is NOT OK is to have no idea, but still vote on Internet exclusive issues.

THAT is just outright stupid!

megablast 4 days ago 4 replies      
I don't agree with this. Congress can only know so much, and I would prefer them to understand how health care works, how wars work, and how spending money works way before they understand the internet. In fact, there are dozens of things they should know before the internet.

Actually, if they just outlawed lobbyists that would be a big start.

meow 3 days ago 0 replies      
"well meaning"

I don't think we can assume that any more. Not with every amendment being shot down with glee and contempt.

radarsat1 3 days ago 0 replies      
Not that this would solve _all_ the issues raised by this bill, but it's really way past time for a decentralised replacement technology for DNS.
nsomaru 3 days ago 0 replies      
This is what happens when you let companies contribute to the campaigns (i.e. ability to rise to power) of politicians.

The American system is broken, get with the program.

yuhong 2 days ago 0 replies      
I have been thinking about dividing Congress/Parliament into working groups focused on a specific topic instead of political parties focusing on a specific ideology for a while now.
chrisbennet 3 days ago 0 replies      
I really doubt that they are hell bent on passing this (just) because they are ignorant of how the internet works. I imagine they need to pass this in order to justify certain campaign donors.
drunkenmasta 4 days ago 1 reply      
I know that this is slightly off topic, but can someone tell me what the site is built with? I looked at the source did not figure it out. Back on topic, I agree that no law should be passed in ignorance and with no intention of expert testimony. The way it is done now makes it seem as if they already made up their mind but they want and go through the motions to make it look like they are debating.
meanJim 3 days ago 0 replies      
"This used to be funny, but now it's really just terrifying. We're dealing with legislation that will completely change the face of the internet and free speech for years to come. Yet here we are, still at the mercy of underachieving Congressional know-nothings that have more in common with the slacker students sitting in the back of math class than elected representatives. The fact that some of the people charged with representing us must be dragged kicking and screaming out of their complacency on such matters is no longer endearing " it's just pathetic and sad."


Trolls (2008) paulgraham.com
350 points by evo_9  6 days ago   303 comments top 63
edw519 6 days ago 3 replies      
Discussions like this remind me of my favorite scene from "Roadhouse", the best bad movie ever. Discussion forums are kinda like bars and hackers are kinda like coolers...

  All you have to do is follow three simple rules.
One: never underestimate your opponent.
Expect the unexpected.
Two: take it outside.
Never start anything inside the bar unless it's absolutely necessary.
And three: be nice.
Come on.
If somebody gets in your face and calls you a cocksucker, I want you to be nice.
Ask him to walk, be nice.
If he won't walk, walk him. But be nice.
If you can't walk him, one of the others will help you.
And you'll both be nice.
I want you to remember that it's a job.
- It's nothing personal. - Uh-huh.
Being called a cocksucker isn't personal?
No. It's two nouns combined to elicit a prescribed response.
What if somebody calls my mama a whore?
Is she?
I want you to be nice...
..until it's time to not be nice.
Well, how're we supposed to know when that is?
You won't. I'll let you know.

Sometimes we hackers work too hard to make things more complicated than they need to be.

Be nice.

(Oh, and by the way, I'm letting you know now when it's time to not be nice here: never.)

zedshaw 6 days ago  replies      
I normally find that, unless an essay is about mathematics, if it is based on a binary argument then it's just false because it's too simplistic to be based in reality. In this case saying there's only "trolls" and "super awesome people!" is childish. There's a much more interesting spectrum of human behavior online that doesn't fit into these convenient categories. To then say there's only two types of "trolls" is again to reduce the argument to just two boolean options.

For example: I know for a fact that the various people who run HN use it to selectively market what they want, but maintain that it is some trust worthy news source for hackers. Since there's no way to distinguish between the astroturfed "top stories" advertising for YC companies and a real news story the entire forum becomes suspect. I consider this just as bad as trolling, except the leadership does it so people don't comment on it.

I've also seen huge double standards on here, again because people in charge can do whatever they want. They'll yell about ad hominem attacks and then do them two comments down. They'll post one-liner attack comments and call that "enlightened discourse", then call someone else's similar comment a "troll". Shit, people on here have outright called me a cocksucker and posted whole presentations vilifying me personally and nobody bats a wee little eyelash at it.

All of you are heavily manipulated on this forum and yet, here you are complaining about trolls? At least trolls can't hellban you to defend their little astroturf empire.

DanielBMarkham 6 days ago 2 replies      
One might worry this would prevent people from expressing controversial ideas, but empirically that doesn't seem to be what happens. When people say something substantial that gets modded down, they stubbornly leave it up. What people delete are wisecracks, because they have less invested in them.

I am not seeing this any more on HN.

This is the second time I read this essay, and my concerns are still the same: people who have minority opinions might not be able to express them in such a polite way as to be considered "thoughtful" by the majority.

I'm a bit of a contrarian commenter. That's because forums such as this one naturally gravitate to extremes. The programmer who lost his dog, and suddenly everybody is looking for him. The news story that causes us to be concerned about an intrusive government, and suddenly everybody sees Nazis everywhere.

People in groups naturally gravitate towards extremes. Whether they are right or wrong, other people may choose to try to persuade them of their error (and most times, the crowd is wrong because it takes things too far). In a highly-emotional discussion, it is almost impossible to convince the crowd that they might be wrong, no matter how you phrase it. People who try this are called trolls by the definition I see here, and they don't belong in the same category as folks who aren't part of the group but drop in to throw rhetorical hand-grenades at the rest of us. Quick test: if there were topic on HN titled "Final proof that the Earth is Still Flat" that linked to a reputable source and all the commenters were in agreement (stretch your imagination a bit) could you comment in such a fashion to show thoughtful consideration of the majority's opinion yet ask for people to really think this over? If you can follow along in my thought experiment, you'll find this is not a very easy thing to do at all. Most folks would just throw out a snarky rejoinder.

In my opinion a bit of nuance is required in this essay which is not present. EDIT: J.S. Mill, is on the money here: "...He argued that even if an opinion is false, the truth can be better understood by refuting the error..." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Stuart_Mill#Views_on_freed... Note the conflict between how the real world has to act, and how the online community is desired to act by the site owner (and the majority opinion) The short-term interest of the site, perhaps "a happy majority pushing forward to a new understanding in a specific field of study" and the strategic interest of a well-functioning society are very much in conflict here. This is a hugely important point, and in my opinion PG does not recognize this except in passing.

interlagos 6 days ago  replies      
I've been hellbanned here on HN on at least three different IP addresses and accounts...that I am aware of. Probably more.

In each case nothing I'd ever said would be considered trolling by any rational observer. Here on HN, however, as with most communities where you start to recognize the regulars (tptacek, raganwald, etc), "trolling" is redefined to simply mean "going against the grain".

There was one discussion that I participated where I predicted that Apple would see declining profit margins due to increased competition. Remarkably this completely benign, seemingly obvious observation saw me declared a troll, and shortly thereafter yet another account was hellbanned from HN (whatever the mechanism -- is this the verdict of a bored PG, or has he anointed some particularly under-employed members to apply it? -- it is horribly broken).

Troll is, more often than not, a term used to circle the wagons.

pg 6 days ago 1 reply      
"But we still only have about 8,000 uniques a day."

Wow, now it's more like 120,000. If I was already worried about the problem then (which I must have been if I took the time to write about it), I'm surprised the site is even usable now.

angersock 6 days ago  replies      
Good post, but as someone who dabbles in trolling as a hobby, I'd like to suggest the following:

Trolls are important.

Trolling, especially as seen on places like slashdot/4chan/somethingawful/etc., can oftentimes be a mechanism of critique for ideas and rhetorical styles.

One of the best things about the 'net is that, frankly, none of this really matters. None of it. It's a big joke. My twitters and my wikis and my posts don't mean anything. They're bits in the stream. My karma is an int on a server somewhere, incremented and decremented by the whims of my fellow users.

Trolls can help remind all of us that hey, this is all light-hearted. They say outrageous things, they stir up trouble, they cause annoyance, they sully the pristine conditions of these high-minded realms of discourse.

In short, folks, they keep us all honest. They call us on our bullshit. And when a community takes itself so seriously that it becomes a habitat for trolls, it usually is a sign that that community needs to be dispersed, cleaned, and reformed elsewhere.

HN is a pretty cool place, and I hope it lasts a long while before ossifying and becoming infested with trolls.

boredguy8 6 days ago 3 replies      
I think one particular line got me thinking:

  Graffiti happens at the intersection of ambition and incompetence: people want 
to make their mark on the world, but have no other way to do it than literally
making a mark on the world.

Paul Graham has to make a caveat because it's too easy for someone to say, "WELL, sir, you have clearly missed that some graffiti is amazing. Banksy!" But there's a very important filter that should kick in: "Can I trivially amend his point in such a way that his argument still holds?" It turns out that I can, and PG should never have need to caveat his statement.

Let me propose, for what it's worth, that a "Banksy!" reply to a statement like the one above is the sort of accidental troll that invites the slow degradation into real trolls. Whether or not Banksy is graffiti or whether or not graffiti is art: these aren't the question of the submission. This isn't to say that tangents are always bad. It's rather that these sorts of discussions quickly turn in to "what color should we paint the dog house?"* That is: lots of firmly-held beliefs with little that can dissuade someone.

So: when posting why someone is wrong, first see if there's a small or trivial way in which you can 'fix' their point. If you can, their point wasn't really broken in the first place.

*I've long been trying to find the original 'why meetings go bad when you're talking about something everyone has an opinion on', but I can't. If anyone can help me out: much appreciated.

rjd 6 days ago 2 replies      
There is a couple more cases which add to the mix.

1) Devils advocate. People that interject with an opposing view, even one they don't believe. I often do this one myself cause another poster to go into deeper description. Often just asking for an deeper response will be ignored, but opposing a view will always bring out an argument.

2) Denial and Righteousness. Essentially nasty fan boys. People who have brought into a belief and refuse to acknowledge any second point of view at all. I had this explained at a trolling seminar at a hacking conference quite well and they picked on the audience themselves to explain how to manipulate IT people.

With most IT people they have the myers-briggs archetype finishing with --TJ. This means they are thinkers and judgmental. They will look at a problem, find the evidence, evaluate it, and make a judgmental decision on what is correct. The facts don't lie.

However the facts can be like quantum variables, you chang angles and then entire structure changes. Making judgmental calls leads to obvious one set of true factual analysis being completely wrong in another setting.

Challenging a judgmental person is challenging there core makeup. Saying they are wrong undermines there very basic personality, drawing on the opposing variable to "thinking" on the myers-briggs scale "feeling". So intelligent people do not react with intelligence first.

Instead of reacting with an "oh ok I didn't realize that was the case in your area" they respond with a protective "I don't think so Tim" and things go down hill from there, especially if the second person is also judgmental.

3) Tribalism. This is the us vs them mentality. Either you are with us or against us. A non ordained view/comment against a group of people who maybe self validating can be seen as a extremely contrasting. Becomes the group has created a false sense of security it can draw out primal responses (like feeling over thinking mentioned above) when that sense of security is threatened.

Many groups become polarising and when confronted with opposing views become more and more fundamental, close ranks. This often forms tight knit groups but also leads to a side effect of making everyone an enemy, including people with in the group who aren't are right as they should be, or people with neutral opinions.

There was an article I read a week or two go about how to talk skeptically to people. If I can find it I'll post it. It addresses how to oppose a view and avoid the bottom two responses.

hooande 6 days ago 1 reply      
I think the reason that troll behavior seems so much worse online is because most of us spend our time in environments where trolls are self-selected out. Assuming that most of us don't regularly deal with assholes in our work and home life, the place we're most likely to interact with them is online forums.

I'm not sure that anonymity or distance are the driving factors in online trolling. Most of the assholes I know have no problem saying mean spirited things when they're standing right next to me. I think the bigger issue is that it's easy for me to avoid those assholes in real life. In an online setting, I can't see them coming and they are Legion...for every one that we vote down, two more will rise up to take its place.

I understand Paul's frustration, but I don't know if we'll be able to find a technical solution. I think this is just one of the drawbacks (balanced by many benefits) of unfiltered communication.

scrrr 6 days ago 1 reply      
Interesting post.

I find unsubstantial / uninteresting / obvious / superfluous comments (like "I love it!" <send>) worse than very controversial or insulting comments. As long as the general information in the forum stay interesting and enjoyable.

Also isn't the "naughtiness" (some pg essay used that word I think) part of what some of the best contributors here have in common? And aren't entrepreneurs trolls, too, according to the OP's definition?

They disagree with something, they choose a path that is more fun than an ordinary life, they want to leave a mark.

mindstab 6 days ago 2 replies      
Do we have any more recent stats about the viewership of HN now for 2011? How big is it, and more subjectively, how do people feel we are doing with trolls?

I for one think on the whole conversation is still good and worthwhile checking out :)

mixmax 6 days ago 0 replies      
Technical tweaks may also help. On Reddit, votes on your comments don't affect your karma score, but they do on News.YC. And it does seem to influence people when they can see their reputation in the eyes of their peers drain away after making an asshole remark.

After points stopped being shown on comments this point seems ironically moot.

Any chance of getting them back? Personally I think it's the worst decision in the history of HN.

mcrittenden 6 days ago 0 replies      
OP, you might want to change the title to show that this article is from 2008. That was confusing to me, and a few other people in this thread.
chrishenn 6 days ago 1 reply      
I hope that trolling can be kept out of HN by the simple goodwill of the people using the site. I can't think of many forum systems that can effectively remove the incentive to troll.

I put up a forum online for people in my journalism class. They're nice people, but something about the fact that the conversation was online turned the discussion into something pretty dumb.

My hope is that people who grow up with the internet their whole lives will realize that you still have to be civil online. It's no different than real life, yet no one is teaching you manners online.

jvandenbroeck 6 days ago 1 reply      
Well because down voting influences karma I'm probably posting 70% less than I would. I see HN more like a news site in which I sometimes share my view on something but not to comment or to discuss something (sadly).

First I saw HN as something to have an intelligent discussion, but after a few "controversial" posts, and having negative karma, I don't bother. I only post something when I think it's "safe" to post, or when I have time to write a detailed essay.

I think some people can have an intelligent discussion on HN, not for me, maybe because of my dyslexia I'm bad with words. But then again, maybe that's the price to pay to keep the trolls away.

Sukotto 6 days ago 2 replies      
My go-to commentary on this general topic is the classic penny-arcade comic "John Gabriel's Greater Internet Fuckwad Theory"

(Normal Person) + (Anonymity) + (Audience) = (Total Fuckwad)


antirez 5 days ago 0 replies      
There are much better trolls than the one described here, that are guys using trolling to show a point about a controversial subject. For instance the flying spaghetti monster thing is a form of trolling, and it is a good one.

I think that in programming forums the biggest source of trolling is due to clueless people that still want to say something... in the real world they would be put at the door, but you can't do this in a forum, and even after a ban it is too simple to re-enter.

The simplest form of protection about this is to associate a cost to username creation in a forum. Even 5$ is enough. This time the ban is a real cost for the troller that will likely stop after the first 5$ rounds.

Another widely used form of "cost" is badges, that is, you start with an account that can do very little and it takes time (and a good comportment) to grow in features. However there is the risk of trolls opening N accounts in parallel just to have reserves of usernames, so it is also very important to penalize non used accounts.

daenz 6 days ago 0 replies      
The fact that official moderators (read: people with super-user powers) are needed on a forum indicates that the regulating powers are broken by design.

Back in late 2009 I built a forum that allowed every user to temporarily ban any other user. There were restrictions... bans lengths were temporary (and voted on democratically), expiring after the voted time limit, you could only ban a person you replied to, and everyone would be able to see that you were the person who banned the parent post. Other than that, the forum was completely anonymous, and it was able to regulate large numbers of trolls (mostly from 4chan). They seemed to appreciate the equality and the natural regulation.

tripzilch 5 days ago 0 replies      
This article sounds like someone that doesn't understand trolls, trolling, or how to deal with them. Which is strange because he does mention the origins of trolling on Usenet in his footnote.

Anyway, he's wrong on several accounts:

> Trolling tends to be particularly bad in forums related to computers

This really makes me wonder what other forums that aren't related to computers PG frequented, probably not very many. Let's see, there's forums related to wicca, libertarians (the nutty kind), religion/spirituality, failed startups, "magick", seduction, conspiracy freaks ... all those topics attract significantly more trolls than computer related forums. Both of the "broader" definition ("assholes") and the sports trolling type.

> There's a sort of Gresham's Law of trolls: trolls are willing to use a forum with a lot of thoughtful people in it, but thoughtful people aren't willing to use a forum with a lot of trolls in it.

This is just false. Of all the forums I've seen, the two most thoughtful and intelligent communities just happened to be largely made up of trolls and people very familiar with trolling. It's because they won't stand bullshit and call people on it. Regular forums or forums that can't really deal with trolls always tend to plateau on a certain level of intelligence and thoughtfulness, which can be high, but limited. This is not at all a rule btw, most trolls anyone is going to find will be forums filled with screaming kids, obscenities and bug porn.

I just mean to say this "Gresham's Law" thing is false, sometimes the trolls are the thoughtful people and the ones that get driven away are good riddance.

phzbOx 6 days ago 2 replies      
There is a difference between trolling, making a funny statement and saying a contrived opinion. On HN, all of these get down-voted equally.

Often time, I find something funny, say it as a comment, and get down-voted. It's not a stupid joke or something inappropriate, just a comment that'd make the reader smile. And I know it's hard to judge because I keep saying the score of these comments oscillating (I.e. people upvote it because it's funny, and people downvote it because it's funny (or they don't find it funny.))

About contrived opinion, that one is sad. There's a difference between something wrong and saying your opinion. For instance, someone saying "I don't like Backbone.js because x, y, z" will get on average a really small or negative score. Why? People who agree with this statement in small minority +x, people who disagree with this statement but agree that it was some good arguments and points: +y, majority of people who disagree with the statement -z. It just so happen that z>(x+y) with controversial statements.

Lastly, trolling is more about searching for trouble or pissing of people. For instance, they'll say "Wtf, stop wasting your time with perl. It's a DEAD LANGUAGE, WAKE UP". This kind of posts should just get deleted and the user warned and then banned from HN imo. Note that there're a couple of wrong things with this statement. First, it's extremely aggressive and provocative. Personally, I hate this but some well known people act like that and are really appreciated so I won't judge. Secondly, there's no argument or fact.. it's just trash talking without ground to base yourself on. Lastly, there's usually lots of words in caps and 'wtf' 'lol' 'trololol' which make it look unprofessional for readers of HN used to read well written text. (Ironically, I know this current text isn't well written but it's because english is not my main language, not because I'm trying to skip words or be unprofessional).

Anyway, what I'd suggest is to have a way to differentiate between theses.
1- A 'flag as spam/troll/non-respectful'.
2- A +1 (like what we have) to say this is an interesting post/comment.
3- A Agree/Disagree button to express your opinion.

So basically, someone saying "You guys are fucking stupid; 1+1=2" would be flagged as unrespectful but could still be valid and agreed by the majority.

But in the end, is it worth it? As they say in engineering, it it works, don't fix it. HN is not perfect, but I still enjoy reading the comments and I learn quite a lot.. is it worth trying to fix it for a minority of trolls or disrespectful people?

zerostar07 6 days ago 0 replies      
Downvoting is a sort of trolling too. People don't like unconventional opinions here. Say something bad about the late S. Jobs and you re certain to be buried. Even scientifically proven facts get buried sometimes. The problem is not solved. Let's try something radical, like, ban all adjectives.
TomGullen 6 days ago 0 replies      
I'm quite a big fan of a well placed witty troll. It's one of the most delicate, subtle and hilarious forms of humour. That's when it's done well however, not all trolls are like that.

Some of the heartiest laughs I've ever had are sourced from trolls.

My troll spotting ability is falling at the wayside though. I used to be really good at spotting trolls, nowadays I come across something every now and think, "Is he trolling?". And that's the beauty of the best trolls, they border on insanity but keep it just within the realms of believability.

cwilson 6 days ago 0 replies      
I'm curious if anyone else is seeing a trend of passive aggressive, or light hearted, "trolling" on social networks with family and friends.

For example, on Facebook, a troll might play out like this:

Sarah posts "Having the worst day ever, ugh!"

David "likes" this post.

Link baiting, tagging people places they are not actually at, and other forms of this exist as well. At least in a few of my friend circles they do. In fact, at one point, one of my friends and co-founders created a Facebook group called "Operation Troll Cullen". He invited around 20 of our mutual friends, and the idea was to respond to anything I said or posted with extremely positive messages. "You're doing so great Cullen! Well done!" or "This was the MOST insightful, amazing, article I have ever read. Thank you so much for sharing Cullen, you're amazing!" would be two examples.

I of course had no idea this was going on, but suspected something was amiss. It was quite the week for me, to say the least (and I did find it quite funny, after the fact).

zobzu 6 days ago 1 reply      
The issue with votes is that they don't fix all that much.
People often downvote other people they simply disagree with. In fact, most often do that.

So it does not just shut off the "trolls" as in the "assholes". It also shuts off any unpopular opinion.

That is sad, because unpopular opinions are generally interesting by nature, and sometimes insightful. That is because popular ones are well-known, thus cannot be "interesting".

For example, if you bash a popular company by saying what they do is wrong (whichever it is, Google, Apple, you name it), you will get down voted a lot. No matter how insightful and righteous you were.

hansy 6 days ago 1 reply      
This is an interesting article that sort of answers a question I've had for a while: would the quality of Hacker News remain the same without the novelty of individual karma points?

PG mentions that people seeing "...their reputation in the eyes of their peers drain away..." is motivation enough to keep delivering high-quality content.

robbrown451 6 days ago 1 reply      
I think the fact that you don't allow downvoting posts contributes to this. I get that you want to keep things positive. But when you don't provide an outlet for people who want to simply disagree without forcing them to come out of the woodwork and defend their position, it is inevitable that some people will come out with a lot of ugliness.

I think there are a whole lot of reasons internet forums are different than real life communication. I think there are technical solutions that can change the balance. We all know there is a big difference between, say, the comments on YouTube and the comments on Slashdot. Do you think it is all "culture"? I don't. I think it is mostly that Slashdot has technical solutions that discourage trolling (and substanceless posts, etc), while YouTube doesn't. If the culture is different, it mostly because of the karma system (or lack thereof).

DiabloD3 6 days ago 1 reply      
Being a recent "victim"[1] of trolling here on HN, I understand pg's sentiment. However, the question is, has HN (since 2008, anyways) fallen into the pit with the trolls?

For example, recently there was the thing with Rob Malda's resume. The entire thread on that was rather derailed into either sucking up to Rob, or saying Slashdot is full of trolls.

Or rather, it had a rather unfavorable signal to noise ratio. I tried to vote comments accordingly, but it didn't really seem to help.

[1] Tried to stick up for FOSS and expose Microsoft/Mono for what it really is, got downvoted for doing the right thing. Oh well, the trolls got me, not really a big deal.

VonGuard 6 days ago 0 replies      
I dunno guys, there seems to be a big worry here about HN degrading, or trolling being more prevalent and mods banning non-troll entities...

If you've been to Reddit recently and tried to engage that community, you might not be so worried about things here at HN. It's like hot and cold running compassion/rape over there. They either flood you with love, or ransack your house and ruin your life. Dangerous stuff, that Reddit Hive Mind.

It's just something that happens on the Internet: more people = more trolls and perceived-but-not-really tolls. I wonder if someone could do a paper on the average parts per million for trolls in any mass of words on the Internet.

oscilloscope 6 days ago 6 replies      
That's 8,000 unique visitors per day? Didn't realize HN readership was so small. I catch people in San Francisco scanning new articles, but it must be location bias.


Edit: That number was from 2008

metachris 6 days ago 1 reply      
Which means that once trolling takes hold, it tends to become the dominant culture. That had already happened to Slashdot and Digg by the time I paid attention to comment threads there, but I watched it happen to Reddit.

Reddit actually has a fascinating, rich culture. Trolling is just a part of it, but the community seems to be managing.

firefoxman1 6 days ago 0 replies      
I was thinking along the same lines yesterday about why there are so many negative comments online and not offline. I think one of the main reasons (that PG didn't cover) is that in the real world, people associate together in groups.

Nobody wants to be around a negative person, so not only does the negative person have a minimal negative impact on the people around him (since no one will listen), but the main problem arises when he gets online. Not only is this troll frustrated that no real people will listen to his negativity, but when he jumps online he's equal to everyone else. There are no groups. Nobody looks at his username like they would his face in the real-world and says "oh he's an ass, don't listen to him." I think it's partially because faces are easier to remember than usernames, and partially because we associate a whole personality with a face so we can avoid this person next time.

When everyone's equal they each have the same impact. This would be a beautiful system if there was 0 negativity online because the new guy with great ideas would be heard just as well as a 10-year online veteran. But in the online social world its strength seems to be its weakness. How am I supposed to know if the person commenting is a really cynical person or a constructive criticism-type person until I've fully read his comment, and by then he's already made his impact on me.

I don't think modern social networks have this problem as much though. I only socialize with my real friends on FB, Twitter, and G+.

sambeau 6 days ago 4 replies      
I wonder how much worse road etiquette would be if we had no license plates? I suspect there is a reasonable argument against net anonymity hidden in the history of the motor car.

Does anyone know what the tipping point for license plates was?

int3rnaut 6 days ago 0 replies      
I wonder if there's an age and cultural divide when assessing trolls on the internet.

I say this in that reading the post, and then the comments from you all-- I see a bit of disparity between philosophies. I mean, for the most part I think from it's very root, trolls are trouble makers, and we can all sort of agree on that. But, there are people here who revel in that, see a symbiotic nature (good needs evil), people who think trolls are important, and that they keep things interesting--people who've even been trolls (full disclosure, when I was younger and immature I partook in such acts...nothing malicious, but acts none the less). When I read things like this I wonder where and at what time these people were introduced to the internet and forums and the like. A lot of younger people (at least the ones I know) are familiar with the trolling culture, and share many of the same previously mentioned opinions, however when I think of my Dad who was introduced to things much earlier when the internet was much more "pure", he loathes such things, "there's no place for that".

As a non-formal study, purely for my curiousity would anyone interested write down their age, the time when they were introduced (ballpark it) to the internet and forums, and their stance on trolls.

billpatrianakos 6 days ago 2 replies      
I like the measures HN has in place to combat trolling. Karma, up/down votes, the downvote threshold, dead links, etc. are all really good and seem to work. The biggest thing though is just making sure everyone understands the kind of unspoken spirit of the site. I'd also argue that we want to keep this place kind of hushed as not to attract too broad of an audience.

What I don't like that I have seen a lot of, is what I like to call "karma police". People who abuse the downvote button to silence perfectly valid comments that they just happen to disagree with. That's a problem. I think we need to be more judicious about the up and down votes. It's easy to just up vote something with a title we agree with but does it really call for it? I liken it to how easy it is to press the Facebook like button everywhere. As for downvotes, that button should be reserved for off-topic, vulgar, or otherwise obvious trolling cases and not just because "I didn't like what he said, he's stupid, or whatever".

_pius 6 days ago 0 replies      
Please add (2008) to the headline.
nodesocket 6 days ago 0 replies      
Love what Ryan Dahl has to say about being humble. http://youtu.be/SAc0vQCC6UQ?t=55m58s Honestly, happens almost daily, especially in SF. We meet awesome developers, but they are frankly arrogant assholes. This sort of entitlement results in those people trolling and flaming. Be humble, there are many smart people in the world; you're not that awesome.
biznickman 6 days ago 2 replies      
Really only 8,000 a day? I've received 10,000 visitors from a single post on hacker news ... am I missing something? I definitely do agree however that the conversation on this site is top notch.
sytelus 6 days ago 0 replies      
Currency in the economy of trolls is attention. When forums are small, trolling is much less rewarding and vice versa. Troll economy also feeds on to itself and upvoting/downvoting/karma mechanisms would be less and less effective as forum membership grows. To boost the attention economy, trolls would resort to upvote each other more frequently eventually outweighing votes of others.

From theoretical perspective this is very similar problem to links and webpages. A troll is equivalent to a spammy web page. Upvotes/downvotes are equivalent to traffic you get on your web page. When UserA upvotes UserB, a link is created between two. The goal of a troll is to get as much traffic as possible. They are incentivised to give each other upvotes in the hope of return favor, or in other words, create as many links to each other as possible. It would be mistake to think that few "good guys" can be used as gate keeper to protect the system against these trolls. In nutshell that is the hope and approach many early search engines had and they failed as the size grew out of their hands. The solution has to be technical and automated. Algorithms like PageRank or machine learning models is highly applicable to trolling issue. For instance, the real value of karma should not be a naïve count of upvotes (in the same way that real important of the page is not how many other pages points to it) but rather who has upvoted it. I think algorithms like PageRank can be easily applied to calculate the value of karma. If trolls upvotes each other 1000 times, their net karma would be much less than 1000 de- incentivising them for putting in the efforts for upvoting. Of course, there are many ways to fool PageRank and but I think algos like this should be sufficient for forums were you don't have to deal with more sophisticated folks like search marketers.

guscost 6 days ago 0 replies      
There are few feelings on this Internet better than the one you get while "spending" points on something that needs to be said.
angus77 6 days ago 0 replies      
I hate it when I don't know why I'm being downvoted---did I make some kind of error? did I word things wrong? or do people just disagree with me?

What if there were a separate "flag" that people could click for trolls and spam, but when you downvoted someone, you were forced to post a reply explaining why?

sukuriant 6 days ago 1 reply      
Personally, I "troll" in real life. It's usually among friends and just taunting them, lying to them, etc, for the purpose of teasing them. They're trolls too, and it's a bit of a game between us.

Really, in communities I frequent, there are so many trolls, we troll them back. Perhaps we're using the term differently from how pg is?

eric-hu 6 days ago 0 replies      
Almost every day I use HN, I wonder why it hasn't implemented collapse-able comments, comment sorting by rank, and auto-collapsing comments.

I understand this could introduce agreement bias, but I feel like that's something that could be fixed by tweaking the numbers (i.e. only auto-collapse comments with -20 votes).

As it is now, it's easy to game the comments thread by piggybacking off the top comment of a post. This can be abused for trolling or just plain discussion visibility (unfairly, IMO).

wpeterson 6 days ago 1 reply      
Trolling is the spice or salt that keeps things interesting.

Too much can definitely turn everything brackish.

But seeing some humor/sarcasm even if it's pointed mixed in with all of the serious discourse keeps it all manageable.

kin 6 days ago 0 replies      
I definitely feel like the term isn't used correctly in the context of the article but in any case there is definitely a certain attitude of nastiness on HN that I experience all the time. I always find myself carefully choosing words and being incredibly specific because any amount of vagueness can lead to flags on my comment. Sometimes I just delete everything and say "I agree" or "Congrats!" or "Good work" and I get a few points. Toss in a "but..." and I get flagged. How about reply to my comment and ask my why I said what I said? And actually most of the time I say something I say why I say it and I still get a backlash.

Anyway, it doesn't happen all the time but it's definitely out there.

peter_l_downs 6 days ago 0 replies      
Top sentence according to bookshrink [1]:

> There's a sort of Gresham's Law of trolls: trolls are willing to use a forum with a lot of thoughtful people in it, but thoughtful people aren't willing to use a forum with a lot of trolls in it.

I think that pretty much sums it up. Trolls are attracted to the forums with the most interesting/intelligent users (the "best" forums). I think that news.yc has been very successful in terms of the amount of trolling that takes place, especially since:

> The core users of News.YC are mostly refugees from other sites that were overrun by trolls.

[1] http://bookshrink.com

alexcharlie 6 days ago 0 replies      
Facebook has an interesting solution to the content quality problem, and trolling is a very specific type of content quality problem. Positively reinforce good content and HIDE everything else. The "Like" button accomplishes this well.

If you've used facebook for a few years, you might remember the introduction of the "Like" button. Facebook before the "Like" button was very different from a UGC perspective. People did a lot more bitching and moaning. People posted much more inane ramblings about what they ate for lunch lunch or random happenings in their day. The "Like" button created a positive reinforcement loop and consciously or not people started to try to post content that would get more likes. Someone being emo about their shitty boyfriend or girlfriend is probably not going to get likes, probably wont get surfaced in the news feed and will never be heard. Eventually when people stop seeing those posts they are less compelled to post those things themselves. Facebook describes this as the virtuous cycle of sharing. Someone posts something, they get patted on the back. YOU see their post and their pats on the back and you tend to want to do the same thing. If you have friends on twitter and friends on facebook, just put the two feeds up next to eachother. You'll see a HUGE difference in the types of updates that people post.

anonymoustrolol 6 days ago 0 replies      
With the recent adoption of voting systems in forums (like this one) we are seeing troll comments often buried, and this will perhaps continue to discourage that behavior. On a bigger note, articles that draw clicks with bold conclusions or headlines (like that nerd baiting article we saw on Gizmodo) are still grabbing eyeball share and thus will continue to propagate instead of real news/information. How that fight for eyeballs is resolved is one that I don't really see a solution to yet.
efsavage 6 days ago 0 replies      
"The conversations on Reddit were good when it was that small."

When reddit was small, it was full of, and dominated by, crackpots. It was barely even at the level of being entertaining, and I'd hesitate to call it a community at all. Intentional trolls generally don't mess with crackpots, for some reason. I don't know if it's because it's too easy or unsatisfying, but the trolls usually come with mainstreaming.

(There are still lots of crackpots there, but it's gelled to a far more coherent community that is much more fun to incite).

oacgnol 6 days ago 1 reply      
When it comes down to it, many trolls feel the need to bash another language, OS, etc. because it's a form of self-validation: your choice says something about you. You'll see the same kind of thing with the "wars" over PC/Mac, Xbox/PS3, Emacs/vim, etc., even if the person doesn't really understand the differences: picking sides just seems to be natural.

Unfortunately, as the article says, the anonymity of the Internet allows these thoughts to rapidly bubble to the surface, where in most cases there's little repercussions for posting whatever the hell you want. I've encountered very little of this attitude when it comes to meeting people in real life. For most people, it's hard to be a dick in front of a real life person.

adnam 6 days ago 2 replies      
I used to be able to "flag" posts on HN, but a few weeks ago that right appears to have been revoked. No idea what I may have done wrong; perhaps I'm a "troll" and I don't know it?
pvillega 5 days ago 1 reply      
Someone should send the first part to stephen colebourne, as an explanation on why spreading Scala FUD and acting like a victim will only spread hate about his behaviour.

Yes, I should write this, but I'm not smart enought to stop myself to type it. After reading the definition my mind instantly draw his face...

cq 5 days ago 0 replies      
Trolls are an important part of anonymous communities. They prevent people from having their heads so far up their asses that the community becomes an echo chamber. Too much moderation will contribute to echo chambers, as well.
joejohnson 6 days ago 1 reply      
>> I've thought a lot over the last couple years about the problem of trolls. It's an old one, as old as forums, but we're still just learning what the causes are and how to address them.

That's crazy. We still don't know what causes Trolls?

realschool 5 days ago 0 replies      
There is something about the hacker news community, people here are a little less 'cordial' sometimes. It probably has something to do with the way people who are technological have to deal with regular people (when it comes to technology) and then how they feel they can deal with people who are peers.

This is good when it allows honest feedback about an idea and products, but can also come across as coarse sometimes.

rjurney 6 days ago 0 replies      
Hacker News lacks a feature that would 'close entire thread,' and so the top troll comment is disproportionately rewarded with attention.

You could fix this with a simple feature.

scottmcleod 6 days ago 0 replies      
Trolls can play an important role in discussion but often only when they play devils advocate. I think 75% of trolling is bruised ego's lashing out.
baby 5 days ago 0 replies      
I feel like some people here are going to say that it went downhills. I personally find HN to be the one of the most civilized and the most interesting (in terms of discussions generated) place I visit.
chris_gogreen 6 days ago 0 replies      
Sometimes the trollish comments on articles/threads/posts are more entertaining and enjoyable that the content itself.
TechboyUK 6 days ago 0 replies      
This reminds me of the Gardening Trolls of Pennadomo, Italy


theviciousfish 5 days ago 0 replies      
switz 6 days ago 1 reply      
HN is great because you can say controversial things and still get voted up. Most comment voting systems are often: agree (vote up) or disagree (vote down). HN seems to be more along the lines of: Does this comment make empirical sense or is this person talking out of their ass.
chris_gogreen 6 days ago 0 replies      
Does PG see trolls today in the same light as he did in '98?
tle9 5 days ago 0 replies      
I love reading Graham's essays. Wealth and Why to not not start a start up
Why is Windows so slow? greggman.com
329 points by kristianp  1 day ago   149 comments top 27
evmar 1 day ago  replies      
I don't know this poster, but I am pretty familiar with the problem he's encountering, as I am the person most responsible for the Chrome build for Linux.

I (and others) have put a lot of effort into making the Linux Chrome build fast. Some examples are multiple new implementations of the build system ( http://neugierig.org/software/chromium/notes/2011/02/ninja.h... ), experimentation with the gold linker (e.g. measuring and adjusting the still off-by-default thread flags https://groups.google.com/a/chromium.org/group/chromium-dev/... ) as well as digging into bugs in it, and other underdocumented things like 'thin' ar archives.

But it's also true that people who are more of Windows wizards than I am a Linux apprentice have worked on Chrome's Windows build. If you asked me the original question, I'd say the underlying problem is that on Windows all you have is what Microsoft gives you and you can't typically do better than that. For example, migrating the Chrome build off of Visual Studio would be a large undertaking, large enough that it's rarely considered. (Another way of phrasing this is it's the IDE problem: you get all of the IDE or you get nothing.)

When addressing the poor Windows performance people first bought SSDs, something that never even occurred to me ("your system has enough RAM that the kernel cache of the file system should be in memory anyway!"). But for whatever reason on the Linux side some Googlers saw it fit to rewrite the Linux linker to make it twice as fast (this effort predated Chrome), and all Linux developers now get to benefit from that. Perhaps the difference is that when people write awesome tools for Windows or Mac they try to sell them rather than give them away.

Including new versions of Visual Studio, for that matter. I know that Chrome (and Firefox) use older versions of the Visual Studio suite (for technical reasons I don't quite understand, though I know people on the Chrome side have talked with Microsoft about the problems we've had with newer versions), and perhaps newer versions are better in some of these metrics.

But with all of that said, as best as I can tell Windows really is just really slow for file system operations, which especially kills file-system-heavy operations like recursive directory listings and git, even when you turn off all the AV crap. I don't know why; every time I look deeply into Windows I get more afraid ( http://neugierig.org/software/chromium/notes/2011/08/windows... ).

portman 1 day ago 4 replies      
I'm disappointed HN! There is a lot of pontificating, but not much science here.

It takes all of 2 minutes to try this experiment yourself (plus ~8 minutes for the download).

1. Download chromium http://chromium-browser-source.commondatastorage.googleapis....

2. Unzip to a directory

3. Create this batch file in the src directory, I called mine "test.bat"

    echo start: %time% >> timing.txt
dir /s > list.txt
echo end: %time% >> timing

4. Run test.bat from a command prompt, twice.

Paste your output in this thread. Here is mine:

    start: 12:00:41.30 
end: 12:00:41.94
start: 12:00:50.66
end: 12:00:51.31

First pass: 640ms; Second pass: 650ms

I can't replicate the OP's claim of 40000ms directory seek, even though I have WORSE hardware. Would be interested in other people's results. Like I said, it only takes 2 minutes.

hristov 1 day ago 4 replies      
Interestingly enough Joel Spolsky mentioned something related to the directory listing problem more than 10 years ago. See:


In Joel's opinion it is an algorithm problem. He thinks that there is an O(n^2) algorithm in there somewhere causing trouble. And since one does not notice the O(n^2) unless there are hundreds of files in a directory it has not been fixed.

I believe that is probably the problem with Windows in general. Perhaps there are a lot of bad algorithms hidden in the enormous and incredibly complex Windows code base and they are not getting fixed because Microsoft has not devoted resources to fixing them.

Linux on the other hand benefits from the "many eyes" phenomenon of open source and when anyone smart enough notices slowness in Linux they can simply look in the code and find and remove any obviously slow algorithms. I am not sure all open source software benefits from this but if any open source software does, it must certainly be Linux as it is one of the most widely used and discussed pieces of OS software.

Now this is total guesswork on my part but it seems the most logical conclusion. And by the way, I am dual booting Windows and Linux and keep noticing all kinds weird slowness in Windows. Windows keeps writing to disk all the time even though my 6 GB of RAM should be sufficient, while in Linux I barely hear the sound of the hard drive.

tankenmate 1 day ago 0 replies      
The problem as I understand it is that Windows's file metadata cache is broken. I remember reading many years ago a posting by Linus about this but I can't find it at the moment.

According to this document (http://i-web.i.u-tokyo.ac.jp/edu/training/ss/lecture/new-doc...) it would appear that directory entries have one extra level of indirection and share space with the page cache and hence can be pathologically evicted if you read in a large number of files; compiling/reading lots of files for example.

On Linux however the directory entry cache is a separate entity and is less likely to be evicted under readahead memory pressure. Also it should be noted is that Linus has spent a largish amount of effort to make sure that the directory entry cache is fast. Linux's inode cache has similar resistance to page cache memory pressure. Obviously if you have real memory pressure from user pages then things will slow down considerably.

I suspect that if Windows implemented a similar system with file meta data cache that was separate from the rest of the page cache it would similarly speed up.

Edit: I should note, this probably wouldn't affect linking as much as it would affect git performance; git is heavily reliant on a speedy and reliable directory entry cache.

shin_lao 1 day ago 2 replies      
NTFS is a slower file system, that's probably the main reason why. Also console I/O is much better on Linux than Windows.

Our software builds everyday on FreeBSD, Linux and Windows on servers that are identical.

The windows build takes 14 minutes. The FreeBSD and Linux build take 10 minutes (they run at almost identical speed).

Check out is more than twice slower on Windows (we use git).

Debug build time is comparable 5 minutes for Windows, 4 minutes 35 on Linux.

Release build time is almost 7 minutes on Windows and half that on Linux.

VS compiles more slowly than gcc but overall it's a better compiler. It handles static variables better and is not super demanding about typenames like gcc is. Also gcc is extremely demanding in terms of memory. gcc is a 64-bit executable, Visual Studio is still a 32-bit execuable. We hope Microsoft will fix that in Visual Studio 2011.

Its easier to parallelize gmake than Visual Studio, which also explains the better Linux build time. Visual Studio has got some weird "double level" mulithreading which is eventually less efficient than just running the make steps in parallel as you go through your make file.

However our tests run at comparable speed on Linux and Windows and the Windows builds the archive ten times faster than Linux.

blinkingled 1 day ago 0 replies      
1) Windows FS operations are slower than Linux in general but when you add 'Realtime' Antivirus on top it gets worse.

2) Linux forks significantly faster than anything else I know. For something like Chromium the compiler is forked bazillion times and so is the linker and nmake and so on so forth.

3) Linux, the kernel, is heavily optimized for building stuff as that's what the kernel developers do day in and day out - there are threads on LKML that I can't be bothered to dig out right now but lot of effort goes in to optimizing for kernel build workload - may be that helps.

3) Linker - stock one is slower and did not do the more costly optimizations until now so it might be faster because of doing lesser than the MS linker that does incremental linking, WPO and what not. Gold is even faster and I may be wrong but I don't think it does what the MS linker does either.

4) Layers - Don't know if Cygwin tools are involved but they add their own slowness.

prewett 1 day ago 4 replies      
I suspect it has something to do with NTFS updating access times by default. So every time you do anything with a file, it gets its access time updated (not modification time, access time). I don't have windows to test on, but you could try the suggestions [1][2] below.

[1] http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ms940846(v=winembedd...

[2] http://oreilly.com/pub/a/windows/2005/02/08/NTFS_Hacks.html (#8)

etfb 1 day ago 5 replies      
Someone posted the question on StackOverflow and it got closed as "not constructive". Is there a way to browse the "not constructive" questions on SO? They seem to be all the best ones.
niyazpk 1 day ago 1 reply      
Here is a link from the comments:

NTFS Performance Hacks - http://oreilly.com/pub/a/windows/2005/02/08/NTFS_Hacks.html

barrkel 1 day ago 0 replies      
Probably a big reason for him seeing slowdowns in incremental builds with MSVC is because of link-time code generation. What seems to be link time is actually code generation time, and it's delayed because intra-procedural optimizations can be run. This kills off a lot of the benefit of incremental building - you're basically only saving parsing and type analysis - and redoing a lot of code generation work for every modification.

NTFS also fragments very badly when free space is fragmented. If you don't liberally use SetFilePointer / SetEndOfFile, it's very common to see large files created incrementally to have thousands, or tens of thousands, of fragments. Lookup (rather than listing) on massive directories can be fairly good though - btrees are used behind the scenes - presuming that the backing storage is not fragmented, again not a trivial assumption without continuously running a semi-decent defragmenter, like Diskeeper.

WayneDB 1 day ago 1 reply      
I run Windows 7 in Boot Camp every day and it easily outperforms OS X on the same exact hardware for most common tasks (browsing files, the web, starting up apps, etc).

The Windows desktop GUI system is more stable than anything else out there (meaning that it's not going to change drastically AND that it's a solid piece of software that just works) and it's as flexible as I need it to be, so that's why I stick with Windows. With virtual machines, WinSCP, Cygwin and other similar utilities, I have all the access to *nix that I need.

ervvynlwwe 1 day ago 1 reply      
The author doesn't mention whether he is using cygwin git, or msys git. msys is faster. But even with msys, UAC virtualization is a common cause of slowness with git:

More details here: http://code.google.com/p/msysgit/issues/detail?id=320

johnx123-up 1 day ago 2 replies      
FWIW, try disabling your AV
markokocic 1 day ago 1 reply      
I'm not sure if it is related, but the fact is that file system operation on windows are much slower that on Linux. I remembering that copying large ISO image from one windows partition to another windows partition using Total Commander under Wine on Linux was faster that doing it directly on Windows.

I also remember that I was able to create file copy utility in assembly as a homework assignment that was couple times faster than windows/dos copy command.

The only two reasons I can think of that explain this are:
1 - noone cares about windows fileystem performance.
2 - someone decided that it shouldn't be too fast.

idspispopd 1 day ago 0 replies      
separate point:

while photoshop isn't on linux, there are plenty of replacements for that unless he's doing print work, which I don't think is the case, as photoshop isn't the beginning and end for print. (actually, TBH, photoshop is pretty shit for pixel work.)

Also maya is available for linux, autodesk just doesn't offer a free trial like they do with windows/mac os. (Including the 2012 edition.)

With no offence intended to the 3dsmax crew, as it has it's merits, but a sufficiently competent maya user won't find much use for 3dsmax.

jcromartie 1 day ago 1 reply      
Don't forget forking.

To benchmark the maximum shell script performance (in terms of calls to other tools per second), try this micro-benchmark:

    while true; do date; done | uniq -c

Unix shells under Windows (with cygwin, etc.) run about 25 times slower than OS X.

malkia 21 hours ago 0 replies      
A possible faster way to read directories with one (okay, few at most kernel calls) is to use GetFileInformationByHandleEx.

Here is some example:


frooxie 1 day ago 1 reply      
What I can't wrap my head around is the amazingly slow file search (I'm using Vista). Searching for a filename I know exists in a small directory (say, 100 files) often leads to Windows searching for several minutes and then NOT FINDING THE FILE. How can that happen when Windows is able to list the contents of the directory (including the file I'm looking for) instantly?
false 1 day ago 0 replies      
Git under cygwin is so painfully slow, and gets exponentially slower as number of tracked files grow. Even SSD can't fully smooth out the difference :(
tintin 1 day ago 0 replies      
Maybe this has something to do with the file indexer? 2 years ago I heard a lot of XP users complain that Windows was suddenly getting very slow. After some digging around I noticed that they turned on the file indexer by default after an update.
Since then I always turn it of (properties of your disk) and shut down the service (Indexing Service).
peterwwillis 1 day ago 0 replies      
I'm pretty sure the "dir" takes longer than "ls" because "dir /s c:\list.txt" sorts the entire c:\ drive before looking for "list.txt". "ls -R c:\list.txt" first checks if "list.txt" exists, and fails if it doesn't. Just take out the "list.txt" and run both commands again.
chris_gogreen 1 day ago 0 replies      
Hard drive swap file usage, my windows machines always have a huge swap file going, my Linux and OS X machines almost never do.
nikcub 1 day ago 0 replies      
This is a comparison of file systems, not operating systems.
jstclair 1 day ago 3 replies      
Wow, so if you want to test file system speeds, you do it by listing files - I know this just an example, but perhaps it has something to do with the speed of the terminal?

There are a plethora of disk benchmarking tools - I doubt that they consistently show 40x differences.

Hooves -> horses, and all that.

vmmenon 1 day ago 0 replies      
"Why is Windows so slow?
I'm a fan of Windows, specifically Windows 7."


brudgers 1 day ago 0 replies      
Overall, the author's argument is somewhat dependent on a premise that Windows 7 should be optimized for edge cases such as compiling code written for multiplatform implementation (e.g. Chrome) rather than using the managed code model around which Microsoft's development of Windows has been centered for many years.

If one were optimizing Windows performance, none of the specific areas used as examples would receive much attention given user demographics. What percentage of Windows users use the command line, much less compile C programs, never mind using "cmd" shells to do so?

Windows command line gurus will be using Powershell these days, not the legacy encumbered "cmd" - elsewise they are not gurus.

iradik 1 day ago 2 replies      
Hmm.. I've had an opposite experience on an atom netbook. Tried Windows Vista and Ubuntu on a netbook. The Windows netbook worked great while Ubuntu regularly would crash. Ubuntu on the netbook was unusable. Now probably I did something wrong? But just installed the latest version with default settings. Anyway I returned the netbook.
Famous Last Words by Bosses I've Had edweissman.com
305 points by edw519  4 days ago   182 comments top 43
edw519 4 days ago 2 replies      
OP here. I just threw this together to have a little fun on a Friday morning. I knew I wasn't alone, but it's still nice when you guys remind me how much I'm not. It seems like there are two worlds for programmers these days: never having enough time to crank out that which must be built and dealing with alternate human reality in some institution.

These were just the tip of the iceberg. I'll probably have a bunch more next week.

Some specific feedback:

georgemcbay: When different stakeholders don't agree, I've learned 3 things: 1. You rarely make progress. 2. The only way to get them to agree is to put them in a room together and don't leave until they do agree (That's one time when you DO need a meeting). 3. My boss rarely understood (1) or (2). He was just worrying about his personal likes/dislikes. It's tough enough to convey this in a serious piece, but obviously a lot tougher in a light piece. Thanks for the feedback.

RyanMcGreal: I enjoyed Dilbert until the stories started striking too close to home. They became too real to be funny. Sad but true.

veyron: Actually, this company used 6 digit Ticket numbers. I shortened them for clarity. Remember it's a sequential numbering system, so that's the number of tickets since the beginning of time, not currently open tickets. Sadly, a typical meeting:

  Joe: How are we doing on 112182?
Fred: I don't have that Ticket.
Joe: Oh, maybe it should be 112128.
Mary: No, that's in Ron's group.
Fred: I must have written it down wrong. I mean the MJC Project.
John: The MJC Project is on hold.
Joe: Sorry, the MCJ Project.
Mary: Who brought a laptop?
Sue: I did. I'll search for MCJ.
Fred: No, you'll get 500 tickets. Search for Joe Smith, open.
Sue: OK, here it is. Ticket #118128.
edw519: Kill me now.

EDIT: I am NOT making this up. Five minutes ago:

  Customer: I called you 10 minutes ago but you didn't answer.
Me: I was here. Sometimes the IP phone doesn't ring.
Customer: Why? Is it raining there?

jonnathanson 4 days ago 2 replies      
Oh man, these almost hit too close to home to be funny. True story below.

Me: So, just to remind you, I'm going in for surgery on Saturday. They're removing a gland from the side of my neck, so the recovery time will probably be three or four days.

Boss: Will you be back in the office on Monday?

Me: Probably not. Like I said--

Boss: --When will you be back?

Me: The recovery time is three or four days, so hopefully Tuesday or Wednesday.

Boss: Will you be taking any meetings on Monday?

Me: I will probably be bed-ridden, and I won't be able to speak.

Boss: That's not what I asked.

georgemcbay 4 days ago 4 replies      
"Me: You've been invited to a meeting with 3 department heads to hash out their differences on Project 249.

Boss: I hate meetings."

A couple of the boss responses listed here are totally reasonable and their head-scratch-inducing inclusion weakens the piece.

Meetings are a (sometimes) necessary evil, but I'm pretty skeptical of anyone who doesn't, at some level, hate them.

I mean, fuck, who wouldn't hate the idea of going to a meeting of 3 department heads to hash out differences? Sounds DREADFUL.

jroseattle 4 days ago 2 replies      
Here's my favorite personal story. I was a consultant, brought in on a project on-site at a client's location. This is my first day, and I'm meeting the VP of Marketing.

  VP: We need to get these Cognos reports up and running.
Me: Hmm, ok. What can you tell me about these reports?
VP: Mostly that we need them up and running.
Me: Who uses these reports?
VP: Not sure. Ask so-and-so.
Me: What information is on these reports?
VP: Look, let's not get buried in details. We just need these reports up and running, mmm-kay?

babebridou 4 days ago 3 replies      
This quote from the OP hit home.

    Me:   The program was written with 3 SQL selects 
inside a loop. It ran OK when we had 500 parts.
Now that we have 10,000 parts, it runs real slow.
Boss: I don't understand.

I could say "true story" here... with a twist. Saying "I don't understand" is basic social engineering & management 101. The boss actually understood every single word and implication in that statement, he just wants to buy some time to decide silently on the best answer. Saying "I don't understand" puts the pressure on the dev who is lead to believe it's his fault and needs to think of a better description, maybe less technical and more to the point to express the problem. While the dev reformulates, the boss has finished thinking of an answer and can give it instantly. In the end, the dev has managed to express a problem with "simple" words, and the boss has proved he has great skills at solving problems once they are reported in the correct form.

I hated my boss when he did it to me, but I have to admit I used this in turn countless times when I became "the boss", to the point it's become a private joke in my former company, anyone saying "I don't understand", whatever their position, instantly got thrown balls or clips in their face.

mattmanser 4 days ago 2 replies      
Hang on a sec.

Not liking mornings or meetings.

Or forgetting what you'd prioritized someone to do.

Or being spam CCed by 'useful' emails.

I think when you look at a lot of these from the boss perspective and change the words slightly, they're totally normal human responses.

Periodic 4 days ago 3 replies      
This really happened to me in the last month. I was contracted with a company that has a contract to build a company for a bigger client with customers.

PM: We need you to fix a bug. One of our client's customers couldn't complete the form.
Me: What error did they get?
PM: I don't know, but it's very important we fix this.
Me: Do we have steps to reproduce it?
PM: No, can't you just fix it?
Me: Did they retry the submission process?
PM: I don't know.
Me: Does it happen often?
PM: Just this one customer as far as we know.
Me: Well, do we at least know when it happened so I can find it in the logs?
PM: Sometime last week. Look, this is really important to the client, can you just make this top priority? We want it fixed ASAP.

The "bug" has not been fixed because the devs still don't even know what the error is. We had another high-priority bug shortly before this because the client didn't understand that something wasn't allowed according to the access rules in the spec they (theoretically) helped write.

monochromatic 4 days ago 1 reply      
Boss (via email): Email me the results as soon as this thing is finished.

Me (replying to email within less than a minute): It's already done. Here you go.

    [Hours pass.]

Boss (via telephone): You're still not done with this?

Me: I finished hours ago. I replied to your email right away.

Boss: Oh, I didn't read your response. I thought the results would come via a separate email with a different subject line.

Me: ...

hkarthik 4 days ago 2 replies      
Me: This vendor software you purchased is not going to scale well on EC2, it needs physical hardware to work well.
Boss: Well, we don't have time to go purchase physical hardware and get it racked. That'll take 3 months.

...3 months later...

Boss: This stuff isn't scaling, we need to all come in over the weekend to work out the kinks with the production servers.
Me: Purchase some hardware and get it racked. EC2 just isn't working out.
Boss: I can't. I already sold our executive team on the cloud and we don't have room in our budget for hardware.

...Another 3 months go by...
Boss is gone.

elliottcarlson 4 days ago 2 replies      

    Boss: You did great this year. I'm giving you a 2% increase.
Me: I hate you. I quit.
Boss: Then I'll give you a 4% increase.
Me: I still hate you. I still quit.

Had the same situation years ago - fought tooth and nail to even get a review - by the time they gave me one I was accepting a position elsewhere and the 2% they offered was a joke.

orbitingpluto 4 days ago 2 replies      
Boss: How long will it take for you to make the program? We're running low on other work.

Me: 30 seconds.

Boss: That's too long. #### could have it done in... wait, what did you say?

Me: Well that sheds some light on your style of management.

phzbOx 4 days ago 4 replies      

  One month ago: 

me: Hey, everything is alright with project X?
boss: Yep, perfect.

Next monday, employee call me.
employee: Can you walk me through the code.
* me explains everything*
employee: Ok, just to let you know you are fire.
me: :-/ Why?
employee: Boss will call you
me: ok

next day, boss don't call
I write an e-mail
No answer
Another email 6-7 hours later
Boss: Sorry, I'm really busy. Calling you tomorrow

no call
*next day, for a week*
no call.

I go to the office to talk to him.
boss: I have a meeting, I have to run. I'll call you when I get back.

And he still haven't call me back, and I have no idea why I got fired.

16s 4 days ago 1 reply      
The best compliment I got from a boss once:

"Normally, fuck-ups like this take three guys a week to fix. One guy fixed your fuck-up in two hours. You don't fuck-up as well as most."

bartonfink 4 days ago 4 replies      
"Foreign keys don't buy you anything - I leave them out. If we program right, we'll never have inconsistent data anyway."

"Superclasses don't buy you anything - you should just copy the code everywhere that might need it."

"Unit tests are nice, but we should be able to write code that works and not need to rely on tests to tell us that."

No, I'm not there anymore.

ary 4 days ago 0 replies      
On 99% of the projects I've been involved with:

Boss: So you can do <anything> in two weeks then?

Me: No, what I just talked about is a multi-month endeavor.

The reasoning behind this is probably formed from a multitude of influences. Executive desire, manager's attempts to look good, and a complete lack of comprehension of what building software is about all rank high on the list. The one I, for the life of me, cannot understand is why programmers insist on pushing the "I can hack that together in 48 hours" mythology. Surely it has had an effect on the management psyche and influenced the mental math used to conclude that the maximum time it should take any feature to be developed is fourteen days.

clawrencewenham 4 days ago 0 replies      
Boss: "This new feature is similar to one that's already in another program, so you can just copy that code. You can do that in a couple of hours, right?"

Me (coining a metaphor): "The fuel distributor in a Pratt & Whitney Turbojet engine will not work in a Norelco Electric Shaver, even though both can be used to cut grass."

When you combine gross underestimation of effort with the re-prioritization cycle, you get a monster that probably destroys millions of hours of productivity every year around the world. As soon as it becomes clear that the project won't get done as early as expected, the boss re-assigns you to a new priority. What would have taken 4 weeks to do 3 projects now takes 4 months and only results in the completion of one.

singular 4 days ago 0 replies      
"You're just doing X, how can that take Y days?!"

Where X is something seemingly simple. What makes it more frustrating is that it is often very difficult to precisely describe why it is that X involves so much unintuitive complexity.


"The users don't care about how it's developed"

Except that code quality defines the readability, maintainability, and often-times performance (deeply coupled code can make optimisations very difficult, for example) of an application both during development and afterwards.

badclient 4 days ago 1 reply      
Boss: Do you know excel? I need to make this graph look better

Me: Okay, what do you wanna change?

Boss: Well I want them to show things going up, especially towards the end so it shows us really growing to the VCs

Me: How is that possible?

Boss: It's definitely possible. I just don't know Excel.

coenhyde 3 days ago 0 replies      
Here's one. I ended up hating this place. I stuck around way too long.

Jim: We need to be first search result on Google by Monday.

Me: It doesn't really work like that. We can buy ads on google though.

Jim: No I don't want to spend any money. What do we need to do to get to the top of google by Monday?

Me: Well we can implementing some of the SEO improvements we have been suggesting for the last year. But we won't get to the top of Google by Monday.

Jim: We need to be first search result on Google by Monday. What do we have to do to be the first result on Google by Monday?


Conversation repeats its self 3 times, while I patiently explain how google works.


Me: You really have to stop asking that question, it doesn't work like that.


I was a partner at this place. I left after many repeats of similar discussions.

Oh god this place gave me nose bleeds. I have to stop thinking about it now.

drumdance 4 days ago 0 replies      
My favorite. Back in the mid-90s I consulted on a Lotus Notes project at a major company. We built a prototype and started showing it various VPs who would be using it.

One of the VPs was really terribly with a mouse. The tutorial was as much about the basics of navigating a GUI as the application itself.

Afterwards I asked the project manager "What does that guy do? He doesn't seem to know anything about computers."

"He's the VP of Technology." (!)

ArbitraryLimits 4 days ago 0 replies      
Some of these are like Yogi Berra's sayings - they're both stupid and brilliant at the same time. Compare

""You give 100 percent in the first half of the game, and f that isn't enough in the second half you give what's left."


"No, I meant, 'How do we fix this with software?'"

kellishaver 3 days ago 1 reply      
My own "never have I been so glad to leave a job" story:

Me: I think it's time for me to move on. To be quite honest, I see no potential for advancement here and I'm being expected to work dozens of hours of unpaid overtime each month. As we've discussed previously, my hourly rate is already low compared to industry standards and my experience level, and you've told me that the funds simply aren't available to rectify that. I sympathize with your position, and I wish everyone here nothing but the best, but that still doesn't change the fact that this job simply isn't paying well enough to cover my expenses.

Boss: I wish I could talk you out of it, but if that's really what you want to do, I can't stop you... but honestly, I don't think you're good enough to make it anywhere else.

Zarathust 4 days ago 0 replies      
Monday : Ticket 453 is your top priority, fix it asap.

Tuesday : Ticket 923 is your new top priority, fix it asap.

Wenesday : Client xyz needs ticket 1921 to be resolved, this is your new top priority, fix it asap.

Thursday : ...

You get the pattern. Running around with duck tape makes awesome products in the long run

RyanMcGreal 4 days ago 1 reply      
Are you sure you didn't just transcribe some back-issues of Dilbert?
xpose2000 4 days ago 2 replies      
This was one of many reasons why I had to quit my last job:

ME: According to the newsletter stats, more people have opted out than actually clicked on any links last week.

BOSS: We need to increase subscribers to the newsletter.

kephra 4 days ago 0 replies      
I wonder why 'famous last words':

- Did someone fire the boss for those?
- Did you quit your job and started a new one?

imho, famous last words should sound like: "I will not leave it nor depart it until I am buried in the ground." (rough translation) Mubarak 10th of Feb on TV.

PS: The most famous last word to quit a job in Germany is: "Ich habe fertig", you should note the wrong grammar here.

cafard 4 days ago 2 replies      
Cute. But unless a boss describes himself as technically capable, why should I expect him to understand about 3 SELECT statements inside a loop?
matwood 3 days ago 0 replies      

Mgmt: We need to replace this system ASAP!
Me: What does it do?
Mgmt: We don't know.
Me: Who knows?
Mgmt: Maybe this girl.
Girl: I'm too busy to talk, but make sure nothing breaks.

I did end up writing a replacement system. What I found out was all the people who were 'too busy' to talk or email me back with information suddenly responded when I took down their part of the system as I worked to replace it. I've never had to do a worse project and I'm happy it's over.

zem 4 days ago 0 replies      
i can really empathise with the "start the year off right" commenter - my last boss (ceo of the company) once insisted on several long phone conferences during the christmas break, so we could "hit the ground running" when we returned. he was a firm believer in permanent-crisis mode.
chrislomax 4 days ago 2 replies      
Do you really work at a place where everything is so impersonable that it is all referenced by project number or was that used to obfuscate your clients in this example?

None of the comments surprise me to be honest, I find that managers have come from no background to instruct people on a technological level and are taken on for simply their management ability.

akg 4 days ago 0 replies      
Boss: We have too many customer support calls. Can you work on fixing the open tickets so that these issues go away.

Me: Sure thing.

Boss (2 hrs later): Why aren't you answering the phone for our customer support calls!?

yuvipanda 4 days ago 0 replies      
You get to the point when you no longer believe a word of what they say.

And then you quit.

SeanLuke 4 days ago 0 replies      
Is it me or has this guy quit from an awful lot of jobs? I'm not sure I'd hire someone so transient.
Hominem 4 days ago 0 replies      
One Sunday I got a call from a help desk guy involving an application I had worked on. This was the first call I had ever gotten about this app. I am pretty sure I was last on the contact list
PM calls me 10 minutes later and says we need to discuss my level of commitment, Says I have been shirking my duty and letting everyone else handle support.
All I could say is that it was the first call I had ever gotten, maybe bump me up on the call list.
He didn't know there was a call list they followed in sequence, still I should have been doing more.

I made sure this guy never PMed me again.

veyron 4 days ago 3 replies      
I'm impressed that there are places that have 432 projects ...
doktrin 3 days ago 1 reply      
Humorous, however the following is actually a semi pet peeve of mine :

Boss: I'm really upset that no one has updated me on Project 127.
Me: I cc'd you on all 9 Project 127 emails I sent this week.
Boss: I haven't had time to get caught up on my email.

Depending on the scale and structure of the company / department, getting "caught up on emails" can range from "completely reasonable" to "fundamentally impossible".

For example, at a previous job we received no less than 250 work emails daily and often more. Needless to say, simply being CC'd was not a guarantee the recipient would be up to speed on the contents of said email string.

16s 4 days ago 0 replies      
I had a boss once who thought IPv6 had something to do with car engines. I kid you not.
chrisdroukas 4 days ago 0 replies      
Pretty funny list, but this seems like a case of poor management of expectations. It shouldn't be your job to explain why things matter (as in 'Boss: What difference does that make?'), but sometimes that's reality.

Here's a set of slides on taking control of poor communication situations and learning to efficiently keep managers in the feedback loop. Sometimes it doesn't work out ('Boss: I haven't had time to get caught up on my email.'), though it's certainly a start.


AznHisoka 4 days ago 0 replies      
At first I thought these were last words by bosses that died afterwards
cosmez 4 days ago 0 replies      
"You're Fired"

that one is pretty famous

dsolomon 4 days ago 0 replies      
You work for the government don't you?
dawsdesign 4 days ago 1 reply      
A bunch of babies. Start your own company then.
OoTheNigerian 4 days ago 1 reply      
Me: The server crashed. IT Services is working to bring it back up.

Boss: Don't confuse me with all these technical details.

I bet your boss among those deciding on SOPA.

The real reason you can't hire developers....
304 points by up_and_up  6 days ago   264 comments top 61
nirvana 6 days ago  replies      
I think the fundamental problem is that companies want a "Sr. Software Engineer" with >7 years of development and >4 years of development in their particular language, who also is young enough to think that "Nerf guns" and "xbox's" [sic] are an appealing "Benefit" and that aren't going to ask anywhere near $115k a year. (a totally reasonable salary, by the way, but I think you lose edge in negotiations by putting that up front. What if they think you're worth $125k? They're now going to offer $110k and let you talk them up to $115k.)

Basically, companies want the impossible, and they are driven by a culture that is very out of touch with the market.

For instance, this is also why they're not so keen on telecommuting.

There are exceptions, of course. But when they can't hire according to their plan, they're going to tell reporters "there's a shortage of good engineers!" where "Good" means "recent college graduates with 7 years industry experience 4 years ruby experience who will work for $60k and nerf bullets."

I see posts like yours and think its a damn shame. You're missing out, and at least some of those 50 companies are missing out... its a lose-lose situation.

jemfinch 6 days ago  replies      
I'm going to say it because it seems no one else is. I apologize ahead of time for my brutal honesty.

You need to consider the possibility that you're not as competent as you believe yourself to be. Dunning-Kruger[0] is real, and your post doesn't demonstrate the self-awareness the best developers seem to possess.

Your writing is sprinkled with emoticons and rife with reduplicated punctuation, both of which (especially the exclamation points) are common signs of immaturity. Reading this diatribe--and assuming your 50 emails were written similarly--I am forced to accept one of two conclusions: either you're not aware that your writing is unprofessional, or you're aware that it's unprofessional and unconcerned. Either option does not reflect well on you. To put it bluntly, if I received an email from you in this style, I would archive it without response, assuming it was from someone who lacked the requisite introspective capability I expect from the people I want to work with.

I found it particularly telling that you claim that all five of your phone screens went "very well" but marveled that only three companies tried to set up an onsite interview with you. Unless both the two companies that stopped at the phone screen simultaneously filled the position immediately after your phone screen, you really need to recognize that at least those two phone screens did not go well. I do interviews at a large Internet company, and one of my goals--one of the goals that I've been trained to seek--is to ensure that the candidate, no matter how bad, walks away from the interview feeling good about himself/herself and the company. If you're doing really poorly in an interview, I'll toss you some easier questions than I normally give, because I have all the information I need, and I don't want you to have a negative experience with my company. You may have felt good about the phone screens, but the most likely explanation for the two companies that didn't bring you onsite is that you didn't actually do well enough to justify additional interviews. These people want to hire someone, and if you were someone they wanted to hire, they certainly would have continued to interview you.

I think your experiment was less valid than you think it was because you're less competent than you think you are.

EDIT: I should add that whatever the case, whether I'm right or wrong about you, the best response to the situation you're in is to seek to improve yourself, not to embark on a quixotic venture to change others. Read CS theory books, create and modify open source projects, solve fun programming puzzles: sharpen your skills and--no matter what your level of competency--your prospects will improve.

[0] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dunning%E2%80%93Kruger_effect

Pewpewarrows 6 days ago 1 reply      
This post pretty much reflects my observations back when I was job hunting a year or so ago. I had a good amount of experience, was willing to relocate, wasn't looking for a telecommuting position, and was very flexible on salary. I advertised myself to several high-profile companies, many of which have affiliations with YC. None of them were through recruiters, and a few were even direct contacts with some core developers happening to advertise the company on twitter: cough Disqus cough.

The number of responses I received even acknowledging that they got my personalized cover letter and resume? Zero. Nada. Zilch.

I ended up getting a job by being referred through a friend to a company completely outside of the whole startup/valley/YC culture. The absolute worst thing you can do is have your job search and advertisements become a black hole.

So every company reading this comment: get your shit together.

patio11 6 days ago 4 replies      
People trying to hire developers through Dice/Monster are demonstrably clueless. Get introductions direct to the decisionmaker. You won't be in a pile of 200 resumes from people who list "Computers: Expert, especially with MsWord" and apply to developer positions. You'll also be dealt with in more reasonable timeframes.

Job sites are job hunting for people who enjoy unemployment.

goodweeds 6 days ago 2 replies      
<sarcasm> 1998 called and they want their resume blasts back. </sarcasm>

I find work (contracts) by looking for interesting companies whose money I would like to take, then I look them up on LinkedIN to see how connected I am to them. Sometimes I ask my friends to connect me to them, sometimes I just google stalk them to find the appropriate hiring manager's twitter address or email address, then I email them, whether or not they're hiring, and whether or not they're open to contractors. I pitch my value proposition and tell (not ask, tell) them to meet me for coffee or lunch, my treat, and offer three dates that work for me. In 15 years, be it a VC, a VP of a bank, an unfunded founder, or an incredibly busy CTO at a high growth start-up, nobody has ever turned me down for a free lunch.

Then I close them.

waterlesscloud 6 days ago 3 replies      
A lot of comments here miss the point.

80% did not respond at all . They did not acknowledge his contact attempt in any way whatsoever. Not a canned response confirming contact, nothing. Nothing.

I'm willing to bet very heavily on this representing complete incompetence at the organizations contacted.

jrockway 6 days ago 2 replies      
The reason companies can't hire good people is because good people already have good jobs, and many of these companies suffer from "sticker shock" when they see how much money good developers are already making.

I recently interviewed at a major online retailer and cloud computing provider (heh). The person interviewing me said, "wow, you're the best person of the last 50 we've interviewed". They followed up by making me a shit offer. If you want me to move to a different state to work for you, I want a 25% raise and an extra week of vacation. Not a salary match and two fewer weeks of vacation. Their justification was "it wouldn't be fair if you negotiated a better offer than other people on your team".

That's why you can't hire people.

compay 6 days ago 1 reply      
After many years I was back in the job market earlier this year. I ended up writing to 6 carefully-chosen companies. I got responses back from 5 of them, interviewed at 4, and got job offers from all of them.

The fact that you applied at 50 places is a bit of a deceptive statistic, because first of all, there's no way you carefully crafted your initial contact to each one.

At each of the places I contacted during my job search, my initial email was very carefully worded. I spent about 3 hours writing and revising one fairly short email, to make sure it conveyed exactly what I wanted.

If you just send a generic form letter to a company, they're going to give you the same consideration you have given them: very little.

Even if you did tailor the email to each company, there's no way you as a candidate are going to appeal to more than a handful of the companies, because they all have their own quirks and cultures. NOBODY is a viable candidate for 50 different Ruby-oriented companies.

Also, no offense but I have to concur with other comments here that your writing may have had something to do with it. If what you sent them was worded at all like what you've posted here, then you probably lost a lot of potential responses because of that.

If you want to get your foot in the door at a company, the first impression you make is everything. Sending a poorly worded email is a surefire way to shoot yourself in the foot.

gatlin 6 days ago 3 replies      
I applied to a kind-of sinking ship in Palo Alto last year. Got through a few interviews, answered all the questions right, and was gently let down. It was a stab in the dark.

My friend who worked there (and, in fact, recommended me) told me the developer doing the interviews has never actually recommended a single candidate and is no longer allowed to do interviews.

This could still mean that I'm stupid and incompetent but it seems like they missed out on a lot of talent because of the egotism of a single dev they had hiring.

Also I did a fair amount of the interview on a rooftop, trying to quietly and safely get down without a ladder. Fun times.

rcavezza 6 days ago 2 replies      
I don't think this is why companies can't find good developers.

To sum up your email: Hi, You've never met me before, but I like your company. I expect to get paid $115K to lead a team as a senior developer, but don't want to relocate in order to be with the team.

I feel this type of email should get a response; however, I'm not surprised no one hired you. I'm sorry none of these companies replied. If hiring is as tough as everyone says it is, they should at least be willing to followup - they might find a diamond in the rough that way.

80% of jobs are filled informally, especially senior positions. If you know someone on the team, or if the team knows of your work and respects it, you should be able to find a position faster.

pg 6 days ago 4 replies      
Ability to relocate: Open to idea, can't right away

That's why few were interested.

byoung2 6 days ago 3 replies      
I had a similar experience. I just left ClearChannel last month to go work at a startup, and though I went through a recruiter to find my new job, I also applied to a handful of job postings at YC-funded startups (through the jobs link at the top of HN). I believe there were 5 total, and 2 of them had puzzles that I completed correctly. I have an impressive resume, and I was willing to relocate (I live in Los Angeles, so SF isn't too big a change). Not one response, even to say we got your email, thanks for doing the puzzle. Through the recruiter, I was interviewed and hired within a week, at a 37.5% salary increase. Go figure
robotresearcher 6 days ago 0 replies      
It's just ordinary courtesy for a company to acknowledge your application, and then send you a "thanks, but no" letter after a human has reviewed it.

But if you want unusual arrangements like remote working, you are going to have a hard time going through the blind CV channel. What works in these cases is either personal contacts, even over several hops, and/or establishing an online reputation that creates a virtual contact network. Your github projects, blog, JS experiments, history of patches to TeX [1] will make you stand out. Even a little contribution to an Open Source project will get you a CV line and maybe a reference from someone with name recognition.

You are a grown up with kids, so you don't have time to waste. You can't hack demos all day like an undergrad. But a little time spent this way might pay dividends in career development.

The point is not to be a CV in the pile. Get noticed some other way, and don't expect your CV to glow like Charlie's Golden Ticket. The more senior you get, the more important this stuff is. A few years out of school and you should forget about CVs until someone asks you for one, so they can tell their colleagues about you.

[1] Joke.

jqueryin 6 days ago 1 reply      

    If you want to steal some of the best talent in the
industry, open yourself up to the idea of letting them
telecommute or work remotely.

Offer up a 3 month introductory period to ensure there's
a mutual fit and they actually do the work as promised.

Don't make them shitty offers because they aren't on
site; there is fudge room depending on their cost of

If you're in the valley, get your head out of your ass.
Talent is everywhere. We don't all need to move to the
valley to prove anything.

We likely DO love your team and product; that's why
we applied in the first place. Devs are a funny beast,
most of us apply to things that interest us.

Loving your team is not necessarily justification to
up and leave everything we've grown to know and love.
We're not all recent college graduates with no ties to a

Open yourselves up to change and boundary pushing.
Consider opening satellite offices in different large
cities for your remote devs to work at, together.

::end rant::

shadowfiend 6 days ago 5 replies      
Specifically in response to the time gaps: it's true that time gaps are bad, but keep in mind these are startups, which means they're juggling about twenty thousand different things at the same time. I think in that domain in particular, some slack may be in order as compared to a 20,000-strong corporation with a dedicated HR department.

Re: weird extra steps: the idea isn't that they're cool. The idea is that if you are willing to attempt it and solve it successfully, it says something about your problem-solving skills. It's not the be-all end-all, but it seems like a decent first-pass filter.

Re: cultural mismatch: if it's a cultural mismatch, you probably shouldn't apply anyway. The thing about a startup is, there are five or ten of you. This isn't just another job. You generally don't just come in at 9, work work work, maybe take lunch with your teammates, and trip it out at 5. You don't just attend the company Christmas party. A startup is typically very much like a family, because everything is riding on everyone. When someone quits IBM, the teammates write it off as a “whatever”. When someone quits at a startup, you spend some serious time looking around to make sure there's nothing scaring them off, because every individual counts a great deal.

In short, culture is critical, and even as a married father of two, signing up for a startup is signing up for a culture and a tight-knit group of friends as much as it is signing up for a job.

euroclydon 6 days ago 0 replies      
If you're being paid 115K, working from home, and defining architecture, the biggest thing that sticks out to me about that is, you have a lot of control.

Are companies that post developer positions to job boards really looking for someone to delegate a lot of control to, or do they already have that person? How much room is there at the top? If you got that architect job, would you turn around and hire another architect-y person?

Many of these positions are heads-down, in the office and managed. And of course you've got to be a super coding wizard who is more concerned with nerf battles and ping-pong than dirty lucre, jeez!

Companies that hire many intelligent, mature, well-paid peers, are rare, I think. So you either have to go network and find someone who will give you that position of power, and then, how will you hire? Or, start a company. Or, become a consultant, which requires more networking than option one. Or hold out for a job with someone like Mozilla -- they seem to treat developers like adults.

fuzzythinker 6 days ago 1 reply      
Counter data:

semi-active search time span: ~4-5 weeks

where: just craigslist & python.org

what: sr. level web frontend or backend

companies: all small/startups, but none are well known in HN

emails sent: I'm quite choosy actually, only applied to ~4 positions a week, which equates to ~20 sent.

results: ~75-80% replied,

out of those replied:
~50-60% replied within a day or two, 2 took more than a week to get back to me, which strangely enough, followed thru with deeper phone interviews.

no on-site interviews (although ~25% I applied are remotes) until one of those turned out to be a recruiter.

Note: I wanted to avoid recruiters since didn't have good experience with them before. But this time it turned out pretty good, got to interview a few companies and landed a decent gig. But since this thread is about no response from direct emails, I did not include these data points from recruiter in my results.

jfno67 6 days ago 0 replies      
At one company I was working the career section was listing open position and we were actually doing cost cutting layoffs. Not listing position on your company website is seen as a bad signal to send to the public and your investors. Sometimes, it's more a marketing statement than anything.
synnik 6 days ago 2 replies      
If you complete phone screens on 1 out of every 10 inquiries you send, you are doing very well in my opinion.

If those phone screens do not turn into full interviews or offers, that is a statement on how they went, not on company responsiveness.

Frankly, I don't think your stats show a lack of response at all. I think they are very reasonable, as some level of non-responsiveness is natural, when you account for the fact that you gave them enough information to summarily dismiss you from consideration if you don't match their needs or culture.

josephmoniz 6 days ago 0 replies      
I wish i could agree. However, my experiences in getting jobs as a software engineer have been vastly different. I've never spent longer then a week seeking a job in the software industry. This might be some what biased because i haven't been working in the industry all that long (just 2 years now). I'm a self educated hacker/programmer that has been writing hobbyist code for myself for 8 years and have never attended a day of college in my life. My average salary for the past 2 years i've been programming has been 90k-100k and my first job was a full time employee for a multi-million dollar corporation in Pleasanton CA and now i work for a startup in San Francisco thats in the alexa top 300 sites.

When i set out to get my first job as a software engineer i was currently working as a system administrator for a conference center in Redwood City. It was the first job i landed when i got back from my first tour of duty in Iraq as a light infantryman. I was still young at the time, 20 years old, still not legally able to consume alcohol yet old enough where most of my friends were already halfway through college. Discontent with going back to college to study computer science with a bunch of people younger then me and knowing that my work as a systems administrator is not what i'd need to be doing on my path to achieve happiness in life i set out to apply to companies seeking software engineers on craigslist.

I spent maybe an entire day sending my resume out over email directly to companies seeking software engineers. I remember being somewhat selective, i'd say i had to have sent my resume out to less then 10 companies that entire day. Although i don't precisely recall the amount of responses i got, i did get a decent amount of responses and almost all of them came in the next day (yes this was 2 years ago). This shocked the crap out of me, i had no previous software experience on my resume, my only previous work experiences were as follows: a warehouse clerk, light infantry and systems administrator. Never the less, i was doing phone screens (and killing them btw) and setting up in person interviews. The very first interview i went to lasted 2 hours and was the first time in my life where i was ever asked to write code on a white board (idk, maybe this is an academia thing). It was a group of engineers interviewing me so that also spiked up the intensity a bit. However, when the interview ended and the HR person came in, she extended me an offer right then and there and said that this is something she's never had to do before. So i went back to my systems administrator gig the next day, turned in my two weeks notice and two weeks later i was officially a software engineer.

My second job seeking experience was very different and also very recent. Having put up enough with the offshore teams crappy code and a horde of rushed employment contractors that couldn't code their way through fizz buzz, it was time for me to look for a new job.
So instead of doing any direct applies immediately i just put my resume up on dice.com. That same day my phone was getting barraged with voicemails from technical recruiters. This was going on during work too so i had to turn my phone off for the day. When i got home that night i did do one direct apply and that was to Yelp. I responded to one of the technical recruiters and she set me up with some options and some phone interviews. The next day i got a call from the technical recruiter at yelp to do a quick prescreen and to set me up with a more in depth phone screen with an engineer so i did that. At the same time the contacts from the recruiter were all doing the same thing, calling me and setting up phone screenings that is. The current company i work for right now was moving slightly faster then everyone else though. I did both phone screenings with Yelp and where i work and they both sent me programming challenges to complete and send in. I did them but where i work got back to me faster and set up an in person interview first. So i went and it was a 3 hour interview this time. This time i left without a job offer after the interview but the technical recruiter ensured me that things were looking good. He called me back later that day and gave me an offer over the phone. That was that.

jarek 6 days ago 0 replies      
Reading some of the comments here, I think the real reason companies are having problems hiring might be that they're unwilling to pay someone with 7/4 years of experience 25% more than a bigco will pay an undergrad straight out of school.
mgkimsal 6 days ago 1 reply      

I tend to agree with the OPs thoughts - companies often don't respond, even when, in general, the industry (and perhaps some of those same companies) publicly moan about not being able to find people.

When did having 7 years of experience make someone a sr level developer? I don't think I started using that level for myself until I had 10 years experience. I guess to each his own. Just like everyone's a "founder" these days, everyone else is a "sr level developer"???

What's a "CTO of a side project" look like? I understand it shows a lot of initiative, but depending on the types of companies applied at, it wouldn't come close to what they expect of a "sr level developer".

I guess I'm just old (sorry, senior) and grumpy this morning. :)

wavephorm 6 days ago 1 reply      
A lot of companies have a permenant jobs page just to have the appearance of growth, but aren't really hiring.
aiurtourist 6 days ago 1 reply      
LESSON: riddle/puzzles/challenges might seem cool to you but might just seem like another hoop to me.

I understand this sentiment, but pre-interview homework (provided that it's reasonable) is one of the best indicators of enthusiasm, attention to detail, creativity, and ballpark of coding skill. Most importantly it reveals how you will react to solving one of our problems which, if hired, is what you'll be doing most of the time.

tlogan 6 days ago 0 replies      
Yap - 80% will not even reply. When I was doing "market discovery" for my startup I sent resumes (real one - no fake things) to all these potential competitor to see how competent they are.

I narrowed down to two competitors and amazingly these two companies did end up leading the entire market.

In order words, the first contact with the company tells you much more about company than any other things. So if somebody does not answer on your email with resume you probably should assume they will not be around for long.

gallerytungsten 6 days ago 0 replies      
I think part of the problem you've identified is that many companies are constantly in "resume trawling mode" even if they have no intention of hiring immediately.

HR people like to keep lots of resumes on file, the fresher the better, so that when they're tasked with filling a seat immediately, they're not starting from zero.

The fact that this practice sucks for the job-seeker is of little concern; they've optimized their process according to their own needs.

polyfractal 6 days ago 0 replies      
I'm going to call shenanagins. I've been contacting startups recently for my job listing newsletter and have been getting excellent replies. To be fair, I'm asking if they want to be interviewed and have their job position sent to the email list, not asking to be hired.

But people are reading incoming emails and are interested in hiring. Maybe they just didn't like your email/tone?

mrchess 6 days ago 0 replies      
It took me 2.5 months to interview start to finish with a several mil backed startup, and I had to constantly bother them to set up my interviews despite they had a person recruiting full time. Compare this with an top company in the valley I interviewed with and the process was streamlined and only 1 month. Both included on-site interviews.

I think the problem is every startup is making up their own hiring formula/process, and until it is internally figured out, anyone who tries to interview will get delayed. Product is being developed PLUS they have to figure out their perfect hiring process... That being said, luck with timing is also important in interviewing for a startup IMO.

matwood 6 days ago 0 replies      
Number 1 reason is your lack of ability to relocate right now. It's hard for companies to hire someone remotely and give them a lot of control without knowing more about them.

I do agree with some of your points though. Anytime I hear the "we have xboxes" I immediately translate that to we pay crap and hope the kids we hire don't notice in between games of CoD. The other day a guy was giving me a pitch to come work at his startup and kept talking about the xbox and the office location. Note to companies pitching to potential employees. Idea, equity cut, and salary in that order are way more important than having Aeron chairs.

SeoxyS 6 days ago 3 replies      
For what it's worth, I'm involved in the hiring process at chartboost.com. (Company tripled in employee size the past couple months!) When we get a resume / inquiry from somebody who wants to work remotely, it's instant rejection. Telecommuting is a long debate whose scope is outside of this discussion, but for a lot of companies that's a tough sell. Especially at 115k.
guynamedloren 6 days ago 1 reply      
You're not trying hard enough.

www.lorenburton.com - Airbnb flew me from CHI to SF less than 24 hours after I put the site up, with absolutely no existing connections or contacts.

mikeocool 6 days ago 1 reply      
Did you customize your email at all for each company?

As someone on the receiving end, I'm way more likely to send you a personal response if you've sent me a personal email, regardless of whether you seem like a good fit for the job. Even if you don't know the recipients, include a sentence about why you're interested in working on their product or space.

If it's clear you're just blasting out your resume, and you don't seem a 100% perfect fit, I'm probably not going to take the time to send you a personal response. I'd like to reply to every applicant, I just don't have time.

Am I missing out on qualified candidates? Maybe. But interviewing and hiring takes a lot of time and resources away from building product. And I've found that applicants who have done their due diligence on our company and product are way more likely to be solid candidates and get all the way through the interview process, making the time spent 100% worth it.

T_S_ 6 days ago 0 replies      
3. Weird extra steps...riddle/puzzles/challenges might seem cool to you but might just seem like another hoop to me.

I can't wait until this business fad is over.

nodata 6 days ago 4 replies      
Wild card: the reason is that tech companies want an excuse to hire cheap immigrants.
WilhelmJ 6 days ago 0 replies      
I want to add something from my own experience.

One particular company I was interested in had few puzzles on their website. I once worked the whole weekend to solve them as good as I can. Spent lot of time writing a custom cover letter, resume and attached the C++ solutions to the puzzles.

Its been several months and I am still waiting for the damn reply!

jroseattle 6 days ago 0 replies      
What this really reflects: how bad people are at hiring. Not at hiring poor performers, just the execution of a hiring process.

Hiring is not easy, and doing it well requires a lot of practice. Most people in the position of hiring for many startups are doing it for the very first time. And they usually suck at it.

Mostly, those companies get out of it what they put into it.

alinajaf 6 days ago 0 replies      
I think that if you're really keen to get a position, it's worth following up. People are busy, you get the wrong email address, there are a dozen reasons why your application may not have got to the person it needs to for the hiring process to begin.

Every job I've applied to directly has had at the very least one email and one call, potentially a follow up if they drag their heels. I've rarely failed to get an interview (though to be fair, I've only applied to 10-20 companies at a time, not the 50 the OP has).

I agree though that with all this 'lack of talent' the companies should be chasing us at the merest whiff of interest. Unfortunately people don't always act rationally in there own self interest, so we sometimes have to take the initiative.

kamaal 5 days ago 0 replies      
Some things from your post are spot on! Especially the riddles. Seriously, you got to tell me how many people deal with riddles in your day to day programming jobs? Do you pick up blank sheets of paper and work on puzzles a considerable part of the day.

Even if you were, I would personally never want to work at a place which has this kind of a culture. I am out looking for a job where good business problems get solved in the most practical way. Which helps both the business and me make money.

Second kind of questions are asking the candidate arcane and rare facts that can be known only through rote memorization. Like asking him to work on some concept/data structure/algorithm from a CS text book taught in semester 3 on page 345 of a text book 2000 pages big.

There is nothing great about knowing an algorithm, inventing a new algorithm is special but not knowing one. Worse case anybody can know what you know by searching.

Asking irrelevant questions to the job, gives you a very high rate of false negatives. You are missing out on some very good and productive people.

This is exactly what happens, you ask some irrelevant questions and consider the guy useless. The same guy goes works at some php shop which is solving some business problems which get him and the company good money. And here you are searching and filtering candidate as per your requirements. Meanwhile you see, your start up failing and the average guy there winning. Suddenly you shout out 'Worse is better'.

You've got be brutally honest and practical in software engineering. If you are academics its a different game.

Remember your fantasy elitism in building a dream product and plans to hire rock stars to do it is nothing if it fails. The average guy still ends up winning even if he has 1/10 decent the product of your dreams, if he has a product to sell now.

jyothi 6 days ago 0 replies      
3. Weird extra steps
It is not really that weird. Puzzles or math problems are just a faster and highly probable measure of one's aptitude not just for the silly puzzle but how sharp you are even in business decisions. The mind has to be sharp. Trust me this is as important as knowing if you did multi-threaded cluster based algorithm blah blah.

Puzzles as a selection criteria - there will be false positives but too few false negatives.

Recently I was hiring for an online marketing position where being sharp with math actually matters, a lot. The candidate of 2 yr experience refused to take a screening test on aptitude. Very well, rejected as we have no data points of how sharp he was.

thinkingthomas 6 days ago 2 replies      
You didn't post your full resume, but as a hiring manager I can tell you that the telecommuting preference and the previous listed experience as CTO might have disqualified you from a number of companies, even if they are presumably open to distributed development and multiple levels of talent.

On the other hand, the fact you didn't receive a response at all from so many (we typically send a note to every applicant who makes the effort to contact us) is surprising. Many companies use a tracking system of some sort to classify and manage recruiting workflow - most of these are utter tripe.

kfcm 6 days ago 0 replies      
Here's some news for you: the vast majority of companies don't respond, and it cuts across all economic sectors and positions (tech, non-tech). Myself, friends and colleagues have determined companies which do respond are the (rare) exceptions.

Rack this up to such a large influx of resumes for each announced position that responses just aren't feasible, to HR folks who can't be bothered to lift a finger after seizing hiring control away from the managers.

To me, this is just indicative of how a company treats its employees.

triviatise 1 day ago 0 replies      
I would be interested in seeing your resume and the actual emails you are sending. Perhaps you should be doing some more formal A/B testing with variations on your resume/cover letter.

This could be an interesting startup opportunity :)

cloudhead 6 days ago 0 replies      
I have always gotten replies from job applications, but where this hits home for me, is the delay. I've had recruiters take a month to reply, at which point I've probably already accepted an offer from another company.

The companies I ended up strongly considering are those which replied the day after, they are the ones actually interested.

xrd 6 days ago 0 replies      
I think the most important part of your research is that there is a myth that you have to hire young people who like playing video games. You reap what you sow when those are your hiring goals. Many talented senior developers are completely turned off by that type of ad.
daly 6 days ago 1 reply      
I agree. I have been on the interview trail for 10 months
and do not get responses to either emails or phone calls.
I have a masters degree, loads of experience, and a strong
work ethic. I have a patent, have published cited papers,
and have 4 commercial languages I co-authored. I am a lead
developer on 3 open source projects, one of which contains
about a million lines of code. All I see are "ninja/super/god-like" developer ads. Something is broken somewhere.
billpatrianakos 6 days ago 0 replies      
I agree and disagree.

I agree that we don't check emails. Im guilty of that myself. Very guilty. No contest guilty. But then again I think a lot of companies are looking to hire but end up getting recommendations from people they trust. I know I'll hire a person that was recommended by a friend over someone who sends me a resume using the contact form or other official means of applying. It isn't always right but when you run a company there are so many things to juggle that we often do without a lot of times and neglect the "jobs@" inbox even though we could use a hand.

On the other hand I'd say that maybe you overestimate your qualifications. It's usually the people who think they're the greatest that are the worst. I don't know you personally but it could be the case.

So all in all, I think you're right that we may not be checking the applicant inbox as often as we should. But I also think that just because you think you should have been considered as competent as you claim to be it just doesn't make it so.

rickmb 6 days ago 0 replies      
Boilerplate applications that show now interest whatsoever in who we are as a company will be go straight to /dev/null along with all the other spam. We deliberately write our job postings so that's it's easy to check if an applicant is actually interested in working for us.

People who don't have the ability to understand and communicate with the people they will be working for (clients, users) and with (us), or who simply can't be arsed to make the effort are not what we need.

Serious applicants are usually invited within 24 hours, but we will never, ever respond to boilerplate CV-spam.

jgarmon 6 days ago 0 replies      
I expect that telecommuting and/or salary are the dealbreakers here.

These auto-resume sites apply pretty dumb filters right off the bat, and you probably got kicked out of the responder queue the second you ask for a six-figure pay rate and/or the option to telecommute.

ig1 6 days ago 0 replies      
A lot of them probably chose not to reply because there were other candidates that were a better match or you didn't meet their minimum criteria.

Generally at most companies you have to be significantly better than the other candidates to be worth considering as a remote candidate.

I don't think they chose not to respond after deciding that you were a suitable candidate.

pclark 6 days ago 0 replies      
What is your nationality?

In my experience startups are terrible at operationally executing hiring processes, and developers are terrible at selling themselves.

padi_n 6 days ago 0 replies      
The statistic of 80% of companies not responding is pretty stark. I'm curious if you applied exclusively to start ups. I think the "resume black hole" complaint is a pretty common one, no matter the size of the potential employer. If you're applying online, to relatively larger companies, there might be more feedback available to you than you might think.

Here's my 2 cents:

I'm part of a start-up (StartWire) created by former HR professionals, aimed at dealing with the pain point of not hearing back from employers. We work with the resume submission platforms used by most major companies to provide feedback to applicants - from confirmation that your resume was received, to notice that you've been disqualified or that the job is no longer posted. This isn't going to make you like a potential employer who couldn't find the time to get in touch with you personally any better, but it could give you some valuable feedback as what is going on when you don't hear anything. Maybe something about your resume has gotten you frequently disqualified before a person ever sees it. Hopefully it can be a helpful idea to those who are frustrated by the current process.

mynameishere 6 days ago 4 replies      
Most companies are going to put it right in the bin at 115K. Not sure if you understand that.
ivankirigin 6 days ago 0 replies      
The single biggest reason it is hard to hire is that good people most often aren't looking for work. They are embedded in other companies or starting their own.
giltotherescue 6 days ago 2 replies      
Your salary expectations are awful high for a telecommute position. Next time you could consider letting them warm up to you before throwing that out. Also, how can you have expertise in "a bunch of other stuff"? The point of expertise is focus.

Maybe the 40/50 are reading your email. How do you know they are not deciding up front that you're not the right fit?

jayzalowitz 6 days ago 0 replies      
I applied to YC a few times ago with something to the ends of "In order to apply, you have to rate 3 other resumes for this position" Does anyone else think this is a good idea? I feel like there are too many people applying that suck, and it would be better to know where you stand/get feedback from other seekers?
hnwh 6 days ago 0 replies      
You are soooo right on the money on this.. I've got 3 years of Rails experience, and had the same result when applying to several companies. I also come from a top 3 school, and have alot of degrees..
Terretta 6 days ago 1 reply      
The plural of API is APIs.


When hiring devs, I definitely look for language skill and attention to detail in syntax. A buggy cover letter or resume suggests buggy code.

up_and_up 6 days ago 0 replies      
Some take-home points/assumptions based on comments and further thoughts etc (not saying I agree with these at all):

1. Remote < In house. Remote developers should not ask for market rate.

2. Putting a CTO role on your resume (even for side project) disqualifies you from consideration for Sr. Developer positions.

3. Positions advertised as "remote friendly" probably aren't.

codef0rmer 5 days ago 0 replies      
I have also faced the same problem with Yahoo India. An HR used to call me about the interview schedule everyday but the interviewer would not be calling on time. This happened for 2 consecutive weeks and then the HR stopped replying my emails and calls. Totally Ridiculous!!!
bearzilla 5 days ago 0 replies      
Reading through some of the comments and have come to the conclusion that A LOT of people have no sense of humor. I read this post and chuckled a few times with the understanding that this was not how you actually composed your emails. I cannot believe that someone read this seriously thinking it was similar to what was submitted to companies. Let's hope that the "pretentious arse" learns to take a joke on the future. Thank you for sharing your experiment in a humorous way.
corkill 6 days ago 1 reply      
Make a 3 minutes video of yourself on webcam talking through your resume and past projects, or even just stuff you like to do not work related.

Many candidates don't get past the subject line of the email. It's nice to think that someone sits there and reads every resume then makes an informed decision, just isn't the reality though.

Remember that person has a million other things to do and probably an already overflowing inbox.

You could use something like Tout app to work out if your email is even getting opened and if people are clicking on your resume link.

Nvidia Opens CUDA Platform, Releases Compiler Source Code nvidia.com
298 points by Garbage  6 days ago   28 comments top 9
srean 5 days ago 0 replies      
There have been few comments about using specialized code generators, for example Theano[1] written in Python and as mentioned in a comment quda. I do not have the background to understand them well, but I find them very interesting.

One question that I have is whether anyone has looked at adapting or using the IF2 backend of the Sisal programming language [2] for these. I ask because some of the optimization that Theano does reminds me of things that IF2 is supposed to be doing too. Sisal was written with the old school vector machines and supercomputers in mind but has a backend that depends only on the availability of pthreads. I suspect that it might be possible to add support for SSE and its ilk.

[1] http://deeplearning.net/software/theano/

[2] http://sourceforge.net/projects/sisal/

japaget 6 days ago 0 replies      
The title of this post is slightly misleading. The actual article does not state that Nvidia has released the source code yet, but only that they are planning to do so in the near future. A signup form is provided so that you can be sent an e-mail when Nvidia actually does release the source code.
melonakos 6 days ago 2 replies      
IMO, open sourcing their GPU libraries would be a much bigger deal than only open sourcing the compiler. I would like to see CUBLAS, CUFFT, CUSPARSE, CURAND, etc all get opened up to the community.

The pain is not in compiling GPU code; rather, the pain is in writing good GPU code. The major difference between NVIDIA and AMD (and the major edge NVIDIA has over AMD) is not as much the compiler as it is the libraries.

Of course, I'm biased, because I work at AccelerEyes and we do GPU consulting with our freely available, but not open source, ArrayFire GPU library, which has both CUDA and OpenCL versions.

danieldk 6 days ago 1 reply      
Unfortunately, it does not say what license will be used, which is probably relevant if they want to create an ecosystem around the compiler.
varelse 6 days ago 0 replies      
This answers the #1 objection to using CUDA instead of OpenCL: vendor lock.

What it doesn't answer is who's going to write the compilers and if they will ever happen.

But it does prove NVIDIA is still a player in the many-core game and that there are still a few more rounds to go before there's a winner.

justincormack 6 days ago 3 replies      
we just need documentation to understand what the generated code does then, as AFAIK the output is code for undocumented hardware.
binarycrusader 6 days ago 0 replies      
Key wording to observe here -- they said they'd release the source code, not that it would be under an open source license.

They're "opening the platform". We'll see what they actually do.

DiabloD3 6 days ago 0 replies      
Until Mesa/Gallium implements a CUDA stack, I see no point in caring what Nvidia does or doesn't do with their source code.

And, most likely, CUDA will never be done by Mesa/Gallium unless quite a few people porting legacy CUDA get together and make it happen.

OpenCL is a multi-vendor supported actual standard, even Nvidia is part of the Khronos OpenCL group, slightly implying that even Nvidia has admitted defeat.

adrianscott 6 days ago 1 reply      
This sounds very exciting! I guess it's not totally related, but I hope VLC Player will get better Nvidia hardware acceleration soon...!
How to stop SOPA: Don't build it. greaterdebater.com
291 points by imgabe  4 days ago   152 comments top 47
pg 4 days ago  replies      
This is an intriguing idea. The majority of hackers hate this bill, and yet if the lobbyists and politicians pass it, they are going to need us to implement it for them. So maybe it would be some sort of solution, in the worst case, to organize a boycott of any person or company that works on it.
davidu 4 days ago 3 replies      
This is an idiotic post. I run OpenDNS. If SOPA passes and I don't implement it, I will be sued out of existence.

The 60 jobs I provide now, and the 60 jobs I'm hiring for, will vaporize.

And there will be programmers who will do the work required to implement it.

This is not the right way to fight laws. In fact, this is one of the Brocard's -- Dura lex, sed lex -- "The law is harsh, but it is the law." In other words, you must obey the law, even if it is wrong. You must work to change the laws if they are unjust.

jpdoctor 4 days ago 4 replies      
I disagree: Somebody will build the thing, because there's always someone desperate enough to take the job.

However, there is a better way to accomplish the goal imho: A truly shitty implementation. Those who are already in the position to implement it would not have to quit; they would instead commit to implementing it in the least-efficient way possible.

As a nice side effect, we will open up whole new disciplines for inefficient coding, and create all sorts of employment as people need big iron to run bad code.

mindstab 4 days ago 2 replies      
This is unfortunately a very American-centric and hacker/san-fransisco-centric view.

All the tech for SOPA has been build and used for years in countries such as China and Iran. They already have their great firewalls and have had them for a long time.

What's more, a lot of the tech they used was built and sold to them by american companies. This war was lost probably 10 to 15 years ago.

All this bill is about is dog-fooding your own censorship products. ;)

tibbon 4 days ago 0 replies      
With this theory, if we wanted to stop wars, we could encourage arms builders to simply stop building weapons of war. Yet, there will always be some people who view opportunity over everything else, and will be more than happy to build the weapons of war, even if 99% of the population disagrees.

On the flip side, the government may see any organization to halt such as illegal (I don't know what law it would violate, but I'm sure they could find something appropriate to give the organizers a nice cell in Gitmo).

Best idea if asked, is to build it, but do it incompetently (but intentionally). Poor UI, poor filters, bad tests, etc. Obfuscate the code as much as possible. Claim that its for optimization. Write it in an esoteric language that few will be able to audit properly. Pull out every trick in the book. I suppose some could call this sabotage, but it seems one way to do it. The US Government never seems to have a problem with hiring those with a strong record of incompetence.

markbao 4 days ago 0 replies      
I find it doubtful that General Dynamics or some other massive government contractor will get a contract for $x million, look at it for a minute, and turn it down because of the ethical ramifications. Not only is that not a factor, but it would mean giving business to a competing government contractor. Everything about this would be against the contractor's shareholders, so it won't happen.

Unfortunately, someone, somewhere, will be happy to take money to build it.

raldi 4 days ago 1 reply      
I don't get this. SOPA has penalties for companies that don't comply. The rallying cry has been, "If SOPA passes, {Wikipedia|reddit|YouTube|etc} could not exist."

If their engineers don't build SOPA takedown tools and their organizations get their pants sued off for the ensuing noncompliance, it's the same outcome. The sites will cease to exist in their current form.

ktsmith 4 days ago 0 replies      
> Maybe some of these technologies can be bought off the shelf from, say, China or North Korea, but at the very least someone is going to have to administer the servers that make this all work.

Unfortunately much of the technology used for censorship in places like China was developed in the US. Refusing to deploy it seems to be the only option. If we already have engineers willing to build these technologies it seems very likely there are going to be engineers willing to deploy it as well.

nextparadigms 4 days ago 0 replies      
SOPA would have a much harder time to pass if we had some kind of Constitutional Amendment or at least some strong Human Rights regarding the Internet. Because right now it seems that when something important to the infrastructure of the Internet clashes with the ability to enforce copyright, they say that the copyright side should win. This is possible because there aren't that many defenses set-up for the Internet itself besides the 1st Amendment.
fleitz 4 days ago 1 reply      
Don't do that, just build better tech a little further out west. Read the declaration of independence, act accordingly.

Recall what the net was like before the masses, perhaps something truly free is worth more than whatever you're giving up by not being able to sell coupons on it. Who cares if the masses never come. They just wanted to sell their freedom for a pay cheque anyway.

maeon3 4 days ago 0 replies      
People who are unable to comprehend the internet want to tax and regulate and censor every bit and byte.  As the programmers and engineers who built the thing.  Lets give them what they want.  When it turns out what we built actually makes censorship harder and the imbeciles become angry, shrug and apologize then promise you will do it right if you get another chance.  Knowledge is power, they cant take away our superiority there.  They can only ASK us to tie ourselves up and put ourselves in the oven and serve ourselves up for lunch.  You want root on the global net?  War on freedom begins now.  
radicalbyte 4 days ago 1 reply      
Why don't we just build a new internet?

They're blocking DNS records and IP address? Then why don't we design and build a new system. Using the knowledge we've gained from the Internet v1 we'd be able to do a much better job with Internet v2.

We have to do a lot of work to switch over to IP6 anyhow, so why not just go the whole hog and built a new infrastructure?

johngalt 4 days ago 0 replies      
Don't bet on this. Too many people will build anything they are told to, and won't pay attention to what it means. Or at least they will be able to rationalize it. I've seen this in person with CALEA in the late 90s.
cpeterso 4 days ago 0 replies      
I am reminded of Pigdog's 2002 open letter/rant to the Sony engineers who wrote the DRM code that would brick iMacs that played certain Celene Dion CDs.


"d00d, Quit being a FUCKING ASS": http://www.pigdog.org/auto/software_jihad/link/2581.html

tomelders 4 days ago 2 replies      
What would happen if all the ISP's simply switched off the internet for a day? As a protest, a strike against SOPA if you will.

Or if Google simply shut down it's service for a day? And Youtube, and Facebook et al.

It's an outlandish proposition, but not as outlandish as SOPA.

Governments need to understand that they don't control the internet. The people that do could switch off their parts of it, and in these tricky economic times, a co-ordinated strike by the major players would send a very clear message.

"Back off, or we'll grind the country to a halt and it'll cost you billions".

These politicians are playing dirty tricks. Their mind was made up a long time ago. They'll not be beaten by due process and fairness.

incomethax 4 days ago 1 reply      
Is there a cached version? The site seems to be down.
jrockway 4 days ago 0 replies      
An even better idea is to do a really bad job implementing it. If all the smart people quit, that will take care of it. If the smart people want to stay on, though, perhaps they could be a bit more lax about their coding standards for this project. Widely-deployed bugs are hard to fix. Look at Windows.
ahi 4 days ago 0 replies      
This won't work, but we should do it anyway. Just because someone is going to do it, doesn't mean that someone should be me or any of the people I am responsible for hiring. Unethical is unethical. I won't be responsible for it and I don't want to work with any of the assholes that are.
trout 4 days ago 0 replies      
A lot of what SOPA is black holing US internet traffic. All it takes is one person at one service provider to do this. India and China have done this on accident before. (They create a black hole route and accidentally advertised it)

Sure there are some more specific details to make it smooth to the end user, but from a technical level it is 3 commands on a service provider router to bring down a public network.

toblender 4 days ago 0 replies      
The problem is not the engineers. If the executives of the companies are obligated by law to build this system or go out of business/be fined, they will pass that pressure down the chain.

I know this bill upsets people, but getting fired would be more upsetting to those programmers/engineers.

kevinchen 4 days ago 0 replies      
Looks like they went down. Cached in Google: http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:http://...
robbrown451 4 days ago 0 replies      
While you are at it, please talk programmers out of writing programs that send spam. Oh, and what the heck, if that works, please talk people out of being greedy in general.


dbattaglia 4 days ago 0 replies      
The part here about not hiring anyone who has worked on SOPA-compliance software feels a bit absurd to me, unless you take the same line with every personal belief. Does that mean you should never hire any engineers that have worked on software for a predator drone? Or even just things that annoy you like telemarketing call center systems? I use that example because I'm guilty of it myself at my first programming gig. I'm against this bill as much as most are on here, but I think we need to be realistic about people's need to feed themselves and even the percentage of computer programmers that would qualify as the hacker types who would even give a rats ass (I don't know too many personally).
polemic 4 days ago 0 replies      
Interesting that many people here think that software engineers, as a population sample, have a 'moral disposition' spread fundamentally different from any other profession. I think we all know that is not the case. Some would even go as far to say that tend to be more morally ambiguous relative to everyone else, purely as a function of the type of personality the profession attracts (although it might just be a matter of perspective or priority). There's a more than enough engineers in the long tail of people financially desperate, intellectually interested or simply pro-SOPA to build it.

And then let's not forget the miserably misguided geniuses who created a airborne H1N5 virus in the name of research. Evil comes in many forms.

psawaya 4 days ago 0 replies      
Just out of curiosity, has anyone here applied the same refusal to work with/hire someone who was affiliated with building DRM? Or any other example of Big Content trying to cripple technology.
foxylad 4 days ago 1 reply      
Another idea: if the MPAA and RIAA break the internet, let's break them. How about a petition of people who pledge not to go to the movies or buy mainstream music if SOPA passes?
praptak 4 days ago 3 replies      
Boycott never works, for all practical values of never, sorry. If you're thinking of a boycott, you've already lost.
Apreche 4 days ago 0 replies      
General nerd strike. We run the world. If we actually unite, we can get everything we want. Not just stopping SOPA, but complete copyright and patent reform, net neutrality, and everything else we care about.

The problem is we are a bunch of sissies. If there was actually a general strike, would you seriously refuse to go to work until SOPA was stopped? Could you do it? Are you willing to fight for what you believe? If enough of us do it, we will get our way. We have to be willing to refuse to go to work and to cause serious suffering on the part of others until we get our way.

I'll do it, but unless enough people join me it won't matter.

vital_sol 4 days ago 2 replies      
Ok, so let's say SOPA is implemented and my Internet provider is blocking some sites through their DNS server.
Who would stop me from using another DNS server (located perhaps in Russia or China) that is not blocking those websites?
This is pretty much the same way that people in China use when they want to see blocked content. It works both ways, I suppose.
peterwwillis 4 days ago 0 replies      
SOPA is going to get challenged on first amendment grounds at a minimum. There's still a chance that if it takes a really long time to implement the provisions of SOPA, they can get it struck down before it does any real damage.

Stall. Stall. Stall.

vlasta2 4 days ago 0 replies      
I do not think this has any chance to be effective. There only need to be few people, who decide the money for implementing SOPA is too good.

A better response will be building a technology that cannot be controlled like this. Why not just let the DNS die and replace it with something better? It is a dinosaur anyway.

grecy 4 days ago 0 replies      
An interesting idea, but as the article and others have mentioned, our society already has an excellent motivator that is used to make people do things they would rather not do.


rbanffy 4 days ago 0 replies      
There is always someone who will consider something like SOPA a shining beacon of progress compared to whatever lawless state they live in. At least SOPA does not propose stoning movie pirates to death... yet.
fatjokes 4 days ago 0 replies      
Don't boycott it---just do a half-ass job. Take the government's money and make it super-easy to get around.
ken 4 days ago 0 replies      
It's not quite like a Professional Engineering license, but the ACM does have a Code of Ethics: http://www.acm.org/about/code-of-ethics
quellhorst 4 days ago 0 replies      
If Americans don't build it, they'll find some coders in India to do it
funkah 4 days ago 0 replies      
Well, that's a nice thought. But there's a depression on and people need money, so someone will do it. The US government will find a way, I'm sure.
pithic 3 days ago 0 replies      
It is painful for me to see this effete hand waving be taken as seriously this. A trivially simply thought experiment is all that is needed to grasp the obvious futility of this strategy.

I'm not saying, "Go ahead and work on SOPA." But if we really want to stop it (or any act of Congress), we must do better than such passive-aggressive smoke blowing.

JDulin 4 days ago 0 replies      
This essay admits the fact that there will always be someone willing to "come out of the woodwork" to implement the SOPA. However, the reason this idea could work is that the programmers you have building the law will never be as smart as the hackers not. Or even actively working against it.
JWLong 3 days ago 0 replies      
Heh... for all the hating on Ayn Rand that goes on around here, you seem to have found the idea behind her magnum opus quite useful...
ctdonath 4 days ago 0 replies      
"Your terms are acceptable."
cmillllllls 4 days ago 0 replies      
Someone will do it when they offer a ton of our taxpayer money to fund it. Its sad, but some people will do anything for a buck :/
atc 4 days ago 0 replies      
Ain't gonna work. Noble, yes, but it'll just push the salary up 'til someone who doesn't care takes the job.
superpanic 4 days ago 0 replies      
Atlas Shrugged
EdSkrillex 4 days ago 1 reply      
So if SOPA passes and "regulates the Internet" to the point where the current internet becomes useless, why not get all the "programmers" together to build a new internet that functions just like the one the U.S Government wants to control?
EmilENewton 4 days ago 0 replies      
I think Onymous may have already thought of this ;-
sunils34 4 days ago 0 replies      
scalability fail
SOPA creator received half a million dollars from the TV/Film/Music lobby slashdot.org
292 points by gasull  2 days ago   64 comments top 11
waffle_ss 2 days ago 3 replies      
This is the same representative who's former chief of staff / parliamentarian, Allison Halataei, got hired by a lobbying firm to get SOPA passed after helping write it.[1]

If this country ever undergoes a revolution in my lifetime, I sincerely hope that the lobbyists that acted at these levels of scumminess get tried for treason.

[1] http://yro.slashdot.org/story/11/12/10/226238/two-sopa-write...

rorrr 2 days ago 2 replies      
And that's how this country is sold for peanuts.

The political system is really brilliant from the point of view of the rich. You only have to buy 100 senators and 435 representatives (actually, only 67% of them) to decide what 307 million people do, how their tax money is spent, etc.

tzs 2 days ago 3 replies      
This is rather misleading. First, it sums over his entire career. Second, it doesn't mention the large amount he's received from industries that oppose things like SOPA. Third, it doesn't mention that the TV/movie/music industry has donated large amount to those who are currently opposing SOPA.
_delirium 2 days ago 0 replies      
Though I usually eat these sorts of stories up, this particular one seems like pretty thin evidence. It seems that he received about $50k/year from these industries, which as far as campaign contributions go, is not really a huge amount. I suspect it wouldn't by itself be enough to swing his vote if he wasn't already basically in favor; on really contentious issues when the campaign contributions start to become a real factor, they're measured in millions per year, not $50k--- for example, Chuck Schumer received $1.7 million from financial companies in 2009, according to a quick search (http://motherjones.com/politics/2010/01/big-finance-donation...).
ck2 1 day ago 0 replies      
Remember how Obama promised to remove lobbyists and not take their money?

It almost as bad as Guantanamo still being open (except some innocent people there without trial for half a decade).

When lawmakers make their own laws, they are certainly going to guarantee they can always take money and get big benefits (and skip the TSA lines at airports, etc. etc.)

ldar15 2 days ago 0 replies      
This is a shake down. If Facebook, Google, reddit, etc have something to gain from this, then they need to step and replace the money our poor senators will lose. This is how america works. You want legal "protection", you pays your "taxes".


untog 2 days ago 2 replies      
What is missing every time things like this are brought up: how much do others receive? Yes, the creator of SOPA has received over half a million dollars, but how does that compare to the average?

I'm sure that it is above average, but it still needs to be clarified.

Shenglong 2 days ago 0 replies      
So, why is insider trading illegal again?
gizzlon 1 day ago 0 replies      
The Eric S. Raymond link posted at the end is worth a read as well (although it's kind of off topic):


gee_totes 2 days ago 0 replies      
I like how the first slashdot comment is about the article itself, then the next open comment I see is something about abortion... Go slashdot
thekevan 2 days ago 2 replies      
This angers me. It angers me because people don't realize that most often, a politician gets donations from organizations that already know he agrees with their goals.

I worked for a politician from a Western State. He got tons of money from mining, gaming and defense contractors. He openly stated that without those three industries, his home state would barely exist. Those three employed a vast majority of his constituents and would thus would always have him in their corner.

Interestingly, he had a hard time raising money when running against an opponent who also agreed with the above points.

How Super Mario Bros. 3 was made chrismcovell.com
286 points by bpierre  4 days ago   29 comments top 13
tpatke 4 days ago 4 replies      
I love the picture of the programmers at the bottom of the page. Clearly not the best working conditions even though the office has nice desk space available (see background). Just shows how much more developers are respected now. ...thanks in part to these guys.
iqster 4 days ago 0 replies      
Like many of you (I suspect), I got into CS because of video games (had an Atari 2600, a C64 and an Amiga 500). Sometimes I get really nostalgic for the good old days. I came across a hilarious series called "Code Monkeys" a few years ago that seems appropriate to point out here ...


javanix 4 days ago 1 reply      
Here's a cached version from Google. Seems some of the pictures didn't make it through though :(


Luc 4 days ago 0 replies      
This reminds me of Iwatani's sketches for Pac-Man: http://www.control-online.nl/gamesindustrie/2010/06/22/iwata...
sonnyz 4 days ago 0 replies      
"Since game systems are computers containing high-density and highly-integrated ICs and LSIs, even a single speck of dust can cause a malfunction."

They aren't kidding. I think I remember this being a problem...

code_duck 4 days ago 0 replies      
I can't read the article at the moment, but I was thrilled when I found out that the programmers, musicians and artists who made most of my favorite Sega Genesis and Master System games were using Amigas.
wazoox 3 days ago 0 replies      
In case you're interested in Mario's history, here's an incredibly detailed book:
Groxx 3 days ago 0 replies      
Neat. Anyone up for some proper scanlation work, though? It seems this would benefit from in-place translations.
pjbeardsley 4 days ago 0 replies      
It's crazy"I taught English in Japan circa 2002-2004, and those pages are laid out exactly the way our school newsletters were (and I'm guessing still are to this day). Right down to the oval portrait shot.
cosmez 4 days ago 0 replies      
the reason i became a programmer,i should have read this article 15 years ago.
Pedrom 4 days ago 1 reply      
HN effect? probably this news got into reddit and slashdot too.
tudorizer 4 days ago 0 replies      
503. Overload?
Design is Horseshit yongfook.com
278 points by thesethings  4 days ago   141 comments top 53
danilocampos 4 days ago 8 replies      
This stuff was bizarre to me:

> Design enhances value, it does not create it. Stop creating shitty startups that look amazing.

> It is to a massive degree much, much easier to spend a week pushing pixels to create something beautiful

> If there's one thing you can rely on everyone having an opinion on, it's how something should look.

(my emphasis)

The author's conniption would appear to be around graphic design. Graphic design is a subset of design, and covers nothing close to the full scope of what goes into the design of a new product. Design is about how things work and, often, what feelings they evoke in the process. How they look can be a part of that, but it needn't always be.

For example: how delightful is it to work with a great API? Something straightforward, well-documented, but nonetheless powerful? It's such a joy. But it requires effort: planning, understanding, experimentation, adjustment, refining, etc. In a word, design.

As a test, consider the following:

Is it first engine design or is it engine making? Airframe design or airframe building? Circuit design or circuit assembly? You can't make the engine until someone designs it first. How it looks doesn't much matter " how it works is non-negotiably essential.

Something that works well is said to be well-designed. Something that merely looks nice can be pretty " and terribly designed.

So a startup can't have something be both shitty and well-designed at the same time.

The notion that design is a differentiating characteristic for startups comes from the fact that many incumbent products simply do not work well. By designing a product that addresses a given workflow faster, with greater convenience, with greater fun, you're making something that works better.

We're past the point where you can build technology that fits requirements and stop there. Everyone else has done that already. Now success comes in making things that are satisfying, not obnoxious, that are easily learned, that make users excited to show their friends.

tl;dr: Someone doesn't grasp the difference between design and making nice graphics, throws a tantrum of a non-sequitur.

mortenjorck 4 days ago 6 replies      
A startup blogger writes a polemic with a blatantly baiting headline. Within 24 hours, another startup blogger will write a rebuttal with an equally baiting headline. Both will incite winding debates on Hacker News.

Meanwhile, other people will somehow manage to create value, ostensibly the goal of both bloggers, without writing confrontational screeds, perhaps even writing insightful blog posts intended to inspire and challenge rather than stir up conflict.

Maybe it's writing polemics that is horseshit.

keiferski 4 days ago 2 replies      
And yet Apple is/was the most valuable company in the world, largely due to design.

Saying "design is horseshit" makes about as much sense as saying "engineering is horseshit" or "writing well is horseshit". Read: it makes absolutely no sense.

commieneko 4 days ago 1 reply      
Design is clarity.

Design is intention.

Design is function.

Design is appeal.

And, sure, design is appearance.

It should be no surprise that, yes, if you can pump enough raw "value" into something, however you care to define value, that you can ignore or short shrift design. Go ahead, limit your chances by killing your first impressions. Write poorly in your presentations while you are at it.

I mean if gold starts pouring out of your user's computer's USB ports when they load up your web page, you're right. They won't care what the background color is or what that blob in your logo is supposed to represent. If the reward is high enough, they'll kill themselves finding that magic button among all the log ins, captchas, and cryptic navigation tools.

But if you're trying to sell a new idea, one that may be unfamiliar, or if your "value" depends on the size of your user base, you might want to spent the time and effort to respect your user enough to make it clear what you intend to do. And what's in it for them.

Good ideas, and value, are sometimes not enough. They require a context to be useful and acceptable. Good engineers know this.

And, sometimes, a nice little shrubbery, in just the right place, and a splash of color, can make all the difference.

Jach 4 days ago 0 replies      
Fun rant. I wish he defined what exactly he means by design. (Amusing exercise: replace all occurrences of 'design' with 'blub'.) The core of the post for me was:

> Stop creating shitty startups that look amazing. A product or service that is indispensably useful yet looks like ass is infinitely more likely to be successful than a product that solves zero problems but looks like a work of art.

I'd say sure, in general, though that does beg the question for what problems so many "useless" but successful apps solve. (Mindless entertainment, I guess.) More importantly, though, "design" and functionality and usefulness are not at odds.

For some fun (probably less comprehensible) rantings in the other direction, have a look at http://richardkulisz.blogspot.com/2011/05/engineers-are-infe... and http://richardkulisz.blogspot.com/2011/06/design-principles-...

lojack 4 days ago 1 reply      
> I love good design and I am good at design. But I've never called myself a designer.

> 1. Designers tweet and blog

> 2. Design is a cheap way to appear like you're creating value


> I've created products / services in the past that have garnered praise for their design.

> 3. Everyone's a fucking designer now

Face it, you're a designer.

> Design enhances value, it does not create it. Stop creating shitty startups that look amazing.

I don't understand how enhancing value doesn't create value. Value is value, there isn't good value and bad value, there's only more or less of it. If pushing pixels does a better job enhancing value than creating features then I am absolutely going to (have someone else) design the shit out of that product.

I see design much like I see testing. Both of these are meant to build integrity in your product. Design is perceived integrity, while testing is conceptual. If you don't proactively maintain the integrity then the lack of quality compounds. Treating them like a second class citizen will do nothing but cause troubles.

lisperforlife 4 days ago 1 reply      
Alright Captain Obvious.

Design alone is horseshit.
Engineering alone is horshit.
Blogging alone is horseshit.
Marketing alone is horseshit.

But put these together in the right proportion and you get a beautiful product. The proportion depends on your product/service. It takes a lot less selling, if the visual design of the product is impressive. It releases dopamine in your customer's head which urges them to put their credit card number in the checkout form. It may not be important for enterprise product as the person signing the cheque does not use your product. But it is vital for consumer and small business based products. But I agree with the author that pretty design is not a substitute for good engineering, good customer support or good marketing.

thesash 4 days ago 1 reply      
Design is not a pretty facade to a product, and designers aren't just responsible for aesthetics. Design is as much about how the product works as how it looks, and a designer worth their stock options understands that they aren't drawing pretty pictures of websites, they're designing with a purpose: to create an enjoyable experience and ultimately a functional, beautiful product that adds value to users lives.
6ren 4 days ago 0 replies      
"The Design of Everyday Things" talks primarily about functionality, and frames design so broadly as to be almost indistinguishable from "solving a user problem".

As an example, Roy Fielding describes the URLs that a RESTful webservice includes in its representation of a resource (for what transitions are available to other states) as "affordances".
It could even be argued that Codd's relational model was a better "design" for thinking about databases, which he presented in terms of the problem of data models being too closely coupled with storage representation.

Of course, even this broad sense of design doesn't address whether there's a market for a solution; but it does address whether you can make a solution that's better.
I can see the sense in seeking a problem that needs to be solved - in being "market-driven"... but personally, I'm much more excited about creating something better (which is only possible when you already know the problem and some existing solution, because "better than" takes two operands). And that seems to be the history of all the products I admire.

alexwolfe 4 days ago 0 replies      
The author makes some interesting points but should be more specific that he is referring to Aesthetic Design.

Design is everywhere not just in the shiny stuff. Design is a workflow, response, messaging, interaction... These are all areas of design you might not be able to see immediately but are often the key components of making a great product.

My guess is that every one of the companies he considers successful had good design baked into their products somewhere (even if they had terrible aesthetics).

To categorize all design in this way is very misleading to those starting a company.

andrewfelix 4 days ago 1 reply      
While that's a ridiculously trolling headline, I agree with the argument. I'm a designer(check my profile) and my job is to communicate ideas and products not create them.
fookyong 4 days ago 2 replies      

Some final words on this. Some people have interpreted this as me not understanding the value of good design. I assure you I do from experience, tweet at me if you want specifics.

However - create value before exploring how design can enhance the experience. Solve a real customer problem. If you're an early stage startup with no revenue, don't even think about design! Think hard about what problem you can solve that a customer will give you $10 for and work your ass off at delivering that $10 of value as fast and as cheaply as possible. It doesn't even matter if you're not aiming to make a paid service. If people won't give you money to solve their problems, it's not a real fucking problem. It's just another novelty echo-chamber startup that you might get a chance to flip to a bigger fish if you win the startup lottery. Don't be an idiot and buy into that. Solve a problem, live forever. The idea that design is what early stage startups should be busying their time with is a notion I find utterly wrong.


lominming 4 days ago 0 replies      
Design is not just about pixel pushing and pixel perfecting. It is more than that. The blogger purely equates design = making things pretty, which is not true.

Design starts from understanding and empathizing with the user. Design helps to shape the product and connect with the users emotionally.

The Design Fund highlights the importance of designers in startups not just because they make things look pretty. Designers are usually trained to understand users emotionally. An engineer look at a problem and start using equations to solve it. A designer look at a problem, start by understanding the user, and develop a way to solve it.

Design teams in big companies have User Researchers (on the ground, understanding users, find out needs, etc), User Experience Designers (connecting the dots from research to product, how the product should function and flow), Interaction Designers (that transition effect you see in iOS? not just pretty. Helps users to orientate where they are at), Visual Designers (make things pretty).

As you can see, in the whole field of design, only Visual Designers are the ones who really make things pretty. Once again, The Design Fund values designers because they look at things differently, and they can build products with emotion. (Apple products have a lot of emotion tied to people)

*I am not part of The Design Fund.

quique 1 day ago 0 replies      
Wrote a brief response here: http://enriqueallen.tumblr.com/post/14480645124/design-both-... Here's a couple excerpts: “Focus on value creation. Design enhances value, it does not create it.” This statement represents the core contradiction and flaw in his argument which barely makes this discussion worth having. Let's look at the word “creation” which is a fascinating word generally associated with “the action or process of bringing something into existence.” So if you re-write the sentence with this definition, it becomes, “focus on the action or process of bringing value into existence.” But what comes before an action or process whether conscious or subconscious in your DNA? Design. Borrowing from a Google definition, design means, “purpose, planning, or intention that exists or is thought to exist behind an action, fact, or material object.” Therefore to create value one must design how to do it, thus making the rest his post null.

If you agree with the flawed logic of Jon then you must substitute the word “Design” with any discipline concerning the action or behavior of creating value. Thus making a series of useless posts like “Engineering is Horseshit” and so on. You don't see the design community getting mad at engineers who spend weeks designing an optimal database sharding strategy for building things like a daily-deal aggregator which has 0 users and a growth rate of “Divide by Zero Error” and no viable user acquisition strategy. Of course entrepreneurs should focus on value creation and finding product market fit before spending an inappropriate amount of energy on other activities whether that be visual design or backend infrastructure. Any entrepreneur I invest in should know that elementary lesson from experience or reading the Lean Startup etc.

ianstormtaylor 4 days ago 1 reply      
Design != making things beautiful.

In fact, the design community faces a huge problem because almost everyone thinks design == make things beautiful and that is one of the things that has been holding back design in startups for so long.

commieneko said it well:

"Design is clarity.
Design is intention.
Design is function.
Design is appeal.
And, sure, design is appearance."

So yes, spending a ton of time altering the drop shadow on your button and the RGB value of your logo might be time wasted in a startup. But spending time clarifying what your product does, or devising a smoother way to onboard users, or figuring out a way to highlight your more expensive plan, or any number of other things good designers are thinking about while also "making things beautiful" is not wasting time.

ugh 4 days ago 2 replies      
It sounds like he is attacking a straw man. It doesn't seem like anyone is making the arguments he is attacking, especially not on the page he is linking to and saying he is responding to. Specifically (for example) no one seems to claim that designers are “the new kings of startups”.
zdw 4 days ago 1 reply      
Design is how it works, not just how it looks.
shalmanese 4 days ago 0 replies      
Lean Startup has been, for the most part, a trojan horse to get design thinking into engineering driven organizations. Everything the lean startup movement talks about with getting out of the building and customer validation is essentially principles of good user research that the design community has been advocating for since forever.

It's unfortunate that designers still have to battle ignorant misconceptions that their work is about pushing pixels and making things look pretty. At it's heart, design is exactly what this article is advocating for; understanding a deep user need and developing an elegant experience that fulfills that need.

ehutch79 4 days ago 1 reply      
I think people are missing the whole point.

The author is not suggesting not having quality design. He isn't even saying design isn't an itegral part of product development.

he's saying everyone is skipping step one, namely figure out what problem you're going to solve. No one asks the proverbial question 'How is my product going to get them laid' (to paraphrase jwz) They just skip straight to having a great way of doing the same exact thing everyone else does just as well.

SeoxyS 4 days ago 1 reply      
The author of this post is so misguided it boggles the mind… I'm a developer, but I chose to study design in college rather than computer science, because in my opinion design is much harder to master than programming is, and can be a much greater catalyst to success than pure engineering alone can be.

I see design as an enabler. Engineering is where the heavy lifting is done, but design is what makes that possible. I hate to bring up Apple as an example, but when you look at, for example, Siri: voice recognition, understanding grammar and meaning within human sentences and the all technology behind it is fantastic engineering. But what differentiates Siri from anything else out there is the design. The fact that the AI has a personality, that it jokes around and does not feel like a machine, that's what makes it accessible to humans and what makes it so insanely great. And that's design.

I agree with the author to the extend that glossy buttons and a textured background does not a good product make. Indeed, there's a lot of good-looking crap out there"but that's not design, and the author's argument that that's what design is makes him look like an ignorant fool.

sbuk 4 days ago 0 replies      
Another individual conflating design with aesthetic styling. The article has plenty of merit but it is lost in the continuing abuse of what the practice of design is.
cateye 4 days ago 0 replies      
Every reductive reasoning is horseshit. Someone needs to write an article about: "Start ups are frequently so complex that their behavior is emergent: it cannot be deduced from the properties of the elements alone."
steele 4 days ago 0 replies      
Horseshit has been getting a pretty bad rap lately.
freyrs3 4 days ago 1 reply      
Design is a buzzword these days. And as a result I have no idea what this guy is railing against.
cwilson 4 days ago 0 replies      
I am continually baffled, on almost a daily basis, that people continue to argue extremes. The secret to most things in life is balance. A balance between having a great product that solves problems, and good design, is the key. Sure, you can have success on both ends, but to truly shine you need a good balance of both.

Why is such a simple concept so hard for people to understand in practice?

wasd 4 days ago 0 replies      
Although I may agree with the premise in the article, I'm sick of this meme like quality of HN headlines. Must we parrot popular, sensationalist headlines to get a point across? The purpose of these articles is to stir up enough controversy to get to the front page of HN.
billions 4 days ago 0 replies      
This article hits a note with the startup community. It actually redefines design from "look & feel" to "practicality". IMO this is a much needed awakening, given all the media hoopla around path's new button. Nobody buys buttons.
lwhi 4 days ago 0 replies      
It's an interesting rant - and quite amusing, but it sounds like the author is debating against aesthetically pleasing visual design, rather than design in general.

Graphic design is visual engineering.

Sometimes the value proposition put forward by a company is 'a way to [do x] better'; if better is equivalent to 'more efficiently', 'more cheaply' or 'more easily' - chances are design is going to be factor that allows the change to happen.

radley 4 days ago 0 replies      
Design is the saddle, the ride, and the journey.

Articles like this are the real droppings. The submitter merely the bowels.

azharcs 4 days ago 0 replies      
Some Startups with bad Design have managed to do very well (Craigslist, Ebay etc), but doesn't mean all the startups with bad design will do well.
Good Design is necessary, it is what makes you subconsciously love something and use it more often.
yonasb 4 days ago 1 reply      
Great post. The only thing I disagree with is your distaste for the designer fund. I think helping designers build startups is a good thing. And it's also important to note the difference between visual design (UI) and UX. You can't create value without good UX. And good designers do both UI and UX. So design is important, the visual aspect not so much, before you have something ppl want
tomelders 4 days ago 0 replies      
You could write the exact same rant about engineers in response to an info graphic titled "Did you know about billions worth of value created by tech startups with technical co-founders?"
mbrzuzy 4 days ago 1 reply      
If you're an early stage startup with no revenue, don't even think about design! Think hard about what problem you can solve that a customer will give you $10 for and work your ass off at delivering that $10 of value as fast and as cheaply as possible.

I don't understand what the author is so riled up about. Why not just delegate responsibilities? Let a designer focus on design, while the engineers focus on the actual product. Does it hurt to have a designer? I don't see why it would.

Good luck trying to sell something to the general public that looks horrid. No matter how well it works.

jt2190 4 days ago 0 replies      
[Edit: I wrote this while thinking that we're debating "design" without a common defintion. I've made an attempt to express two different sides of "design".]

Those who aren't building the product often can't express ideas about what they don't see or know about. To them, the design is the surface, the user interface. So naturally they assume that if they want to create a product with "good" design, they should hire someone who does the visual part, and make their product look just like other products that they think are well designed.

If you want a good counter-example, about good design that is very subtle and runs very deep, read "The Pencil: A History of Design and Circumstance" by Henry Petroski.

rooshdi 4 days ago 0 replies      
Linkbait is Horseshit. See the irony? If it wasn't for the manner in which you communicated I and many others probably would've never seen your article on top of HN, let alone read it, even if it did have "value". Design isn't everything, but it's definitely not horseshit.
dustingetz 4 days ago 0 replies      
+1, but lets not confuse "how it looks" with the people crafting groupon's experience to maximize conversions. world-class designers are more than pixel-pushers, and pixel-pushers aren't world-class designers.
tzm 4 days ago 0 replies      
It's not what design looks like, rather it's how you use it that helps to determine value. Otherwise it's a work of art.

Design with utility has inherent value that can be quantified. It's silly to categorically say design is horseshit.

pascal07 4 days ago 0 replies      
This is a silly article. It once makes the fatal mistake of equating design with "pushing pixels". Solving the problem is part of the design process. Silly linkbait is silly.

Did I mention it's silly?

b1daly 4 days ago 0 replies      
Holy cow what an ill-informed article. Many on this thread have illuminated it's weaknesses, here's my two cents.

To single out design from any other process involved in creating value makes zero sense. In fact in many products design, including visual design is a key differentiator that actually gives the product value (think iPod vs all other mp3 players).

Only programmers or engineers creating extemely cutting edge products that have no competitors could take this attitude than design issues can be set aside till later.
What serious person would consider starting a business without incorporating design from the beginning?

Whatever meme out there about design being an edge in a startup is responding to what I see is an incorrect undervaluing of design in the tech community.

Another subtext in the discussion is many tech start ups are making software, web based or otherwise. On a typical program huge amounts of value are delivered as pixels. The user interface is also pixels. A lot of software are tools. Graphic design is mandatory for the thing to exist! Widgets are make or break whether a software tool even works at all.

I use audio software in my job (all day) and many competing applications in this space are at feature parity. UI and Ux is what separate apps that work really well from apps that are painfully slow and frustrating to use. Just consider how color is used in a complex app. It communicates feedback, breaks up function grouping, it helps you find and remember features, it provides a hopefully not unpleasant visual experience since one is staring at for extended periods.
I think we are in the Dark Ages of human computer interaction and that bad visual design is a huge contributor to the problem.

BTW, anyone have examples of web services with great design don't offer value?

martindale 4 days ago 1 reply      
"I've created products / services in the past that have garnered praise for their design."

...you've also [wisely?] abandoned projects that had great promise without to due diligence necessary to hand them off to a willing steward (Sweetcron).

I was pleased to see your domain here on HN, but I still have a bitter taste after being forced to abandon Sweetcron in favor of Chyrp. Regardless, I've been quite impressed by what you've delivered thus far and am pleased to see your weight provided in the direction of reason.

dbkbali 4 days ago 0 replies      
An obvious conclusion if your definition of design is "how something looks". I would suggest that your attitude would doom any startup relying on a human to machine interface to failure. Without a focus on designing for useability or user experience I would argue that your startup will not solve any users problem, as they will give up on even trying to use it. So I think anyone giving credence to you views with respect to their startup will quickly find themselves with a lot of wasted effort and a pile of horseshit.
TorbjornLunde 4 days ago 0 replies      
“Solve a real customer problem.”

This is exactly what design is.

myspy 4 days ago 0 replies      
I like his article. He's right. You should first solve the problem, then enhance it with great look and feel. Making it accessible.

The update is worthy to read too.

jsavimbi 4 days ago 0 replies      
1. Step into a public place almost anywhere in the world.

2. Count the number of Apple devices in use. White earbuds are a dead giveaway.

3. Go hire a designer that knows what they're doing and try and accomodate their ideas into those of engineering without making a capon out of anyone.

4. Keep iterating.

scottmcleod 4 days ago 0 replies      
I call my self a designer, and i bet i assist in every other business process more valuable. I think you're mixing up the college kid who messes in photoshop and the evolved interaction designer/ui/all print media etc.

There is huge value in being able to communicate problems visually that comes with the experience provided by being a designer early career.

godDLL 4 days ago 0 replies      
You keep using that word.
I don't think this word means what you think it means.
verroq 4 days ago 0 replies      
The whole thing is a strawman. The blogger defined design as a "nice looking user interface" and then proceeded to knock it over.
tbod 4 days ago 0 replies      
There may well be many startups which have a great design and no substance - but then there is also the situation where multiple startups exist in a similar space competing for traction - and in that situation having the design 'edge' is never a bad thing..

Personally I find myself in that situation, early stage startup where whilst I have the tech background, design has never come easily to me (and my co-founders are even worst). As we have bootstrapped we didnt have the money for great design and did the best we could! That said it hasnt been the make or break as we have executed well, however first impressions always count... and when looking for investment we have more than once had potential investors misjudge how far we have come or compare us negatively to others in our space as we did not have the design 'edge'. Its a shame, but its a fact of life appearances mean a lot..

Perhaps off topic but be interesting to know how others have managed to overcome gaps in skillsets when bootstrapping? we dont seem to have any contacts with good design skills and available time..

skbohra123 4 days ago 1 reply      
Can anyone care to explain, what do you consider design? It's pretty amazing to see how a word can have different meaning for everyone and being debated.
bokardo 3 days ago 0 replies      
gavanwoolery 4 days ago 0 replies      
+1 for the use of the word "Horseshit." That's all...
antidaily 4 days ago 1 reply      
everything is horseshit.
nvk 4 days ago 0 replies      
This is such a short-minded and troll post, surprised it didn't get deleted.
An Open Letter From Internet Engineers to the U.S. Congress eff.org
272 points by ryeguy_24  5 days ago   44 comments top 9
snowmaker 4 days ago 7 replies      
I noticed Vint Cerf specified "signing as private citizen". Does anyone know why Google tied his hands?
zotz 4 days ago 0 replies      
> ... a group of 83 prominent Internet inventors and engineers

This topic is probably the first thing they've all ever agreed on.

Joakal 4 days ago 1 reply      
They should have made a request to not only demand such bills to cease, but to demand bills that reverse parts of current laws controlling the Internet.

Otherwise politicians will reduce some of the bill, but the bill will still implement more and more Internet controls [0].

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Door-in-the-face_technique

logn 5 days ago 2 replies      
They need to include $2,000,000 checks to each member of congress. That's about how much the media companies are paying everyone who supports this.
tlrobinson 4 days ago 2 replies      
This question isn't specific to the letter, but I've been wondering...

Wouldn't SOPA's effects on DNS be negated by simply hosting your sites' DNS and setting your machines' DNS servers outside the US? Of course this would have major negative impact on DNS performance.

driverdan 4 days ago 0 replies      
I'm curious where this list of people came from. Some are much more notable than others. Are they part of a group, have common investors, or what?
spiritplumber 5 days ago 1 reply      
I think it's the wrong approach. How about:

"Dear Congresscritters, we made the internet. It is now everywhere. If you pit the full force of the law against it -- the law will lose. Do not make yourselves irrelevant."

lincolnwebs 5 days ago 3 replies      
Conspicuously absent: Berners-Lee and Bray.
swordswinger12 4 days ago 0 replies      
This is apropos of nothing, but it's nice to see L. Jean Camp represent my alma mater.
Dropping a Magnet Through a Copper Pipe makezine.com
273 points by jashmenn  6 hours ago   66 comments top 18
jacquesm 4 hours ago 1 reply      
I've played around with some pretty bad ass magnets during the time that I was building wind turbines and one of the more interesting effects was that if you dropped one near anything made of steel you were actually in danger of getting shrapnel embedded in your body.

They move so fast it is scary, sometimes they explode on impact. This makes you pretty nervous about dropping them.

Then, one day one got dropped over a chunk of solid aluminum. It floated gently to the metal landing with a soft 'click'. Besides the initial surprise (I realized the eddy currents induced a magnet field of opposing polarity in the aluminum) what struck me most was the force of that opposing magnet. If you tried to force the magnet close to the aluminum at speed it would resist so strongly that you never managed to smash it into it with any kind of effectiveness. Always just that soft 'click'.

I still have a bunch of 3"x2"x1" neos waiting for some project, and whenever someone visits that's interested in technology I show them what those things can do, if you have tried to pry one of those from a chunk of solid steel (or if you're unlucky, another magnet) you know what I mean when I say I have a lot of respect for those little golden blocks.

swombat 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Most of the other "zen magnet" videos linked as "related videos" are pretty damn awesome. I strongly recommend watching them all, right now. Really, there's nothing more important for you to do at this point in time.

Exploding zen magnet: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=q...

140-sided zen magnet: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eRiMexbocBI&feature=relmf...

Interlaced dodecahedron: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P2qfCn3gclQ&feature=relmf...

"Hell's Diamond": http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OF2i8eG7KhA&feature=relmf...

jtchang 4 hours ago 1 reply      
Imagine an amusement park ride where they put you in a suit full of magnets and then drop you down a copper tube.

That would be one hell of an experience.

presidentender 5 hours ago 1 reply      
It is not often that something runs so strongly against my intuition. Today, I am reminded just how little I know.
tzs 5 hours ago 3 replies      
"I could do this all day. It's so cool".

Am I correct in assuming that if he did it all day, it would not actually be so cool, as the copper tube would be heated up by the induced currents?

CognitiveLens 5 hours ago 1 reply      
I was fascinated by this demonstration in my high school physics class. The teacher went further and dropped the same magnet through another copper pipe of the same diameter that had a slit cut along its length - the magnet dropped straight through the slit pipe without slowing down. This provided an important "counterexample" demonstrating that the induced currents were circular around the circumference of the solid pipe - breaking the circle eliminated the braking force.
jtreminio 5 hours ago 2 replies      
This is amazing to me as I've never seen or heard of it before.

Question: If this same thing were to be done in a circular copper pipe that feeds into itself (ie a hoola hoop made of copper), and that hoop were rotated at the correct speed, would the magnet in effect never actually move and just hover in mid air?

felipemnoa 4 hours ago 1 reply      
So in a nutshell what seems to be happening is that the moving magnetic field is causing the electrons in the copper to move, this electrons then give rise to a magnetic field which repulses the original magnetic field which is why the magnet slows down.
digitalsushi 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Admit you're doing the right hand rule right now. And that you just googled what was going on, and for 2 minutes you felt like the young geek that forged your path here, whatever the discipline. (Ok, the physicists are not doing the right hand rule, they are rolling their eyes)
michaelf 2 hours ago 0 replies      
This video made me curious about what a magnet factory would look like and I found a really great video that goes step by step through the process at a neodymium magnet manufacturer in Shanghai:


I was sort of hoping that the factory would look like that plexiglass prison in the X-Men movie that was designed to prevent Magneto from using his powers.

Alas, it's nothing like that, but it's an interesting video nonetheless.

zafka 2 hours ago 0 replies      
This is pretty funny. I just did this demo two weeks ago at work. We had two motors that were neck and neck for a project, then when we put them both in am aluminum housing, one drew 50% more current at full speed idle. I found both this demo, and the demo of dropping a big magnet on to an aluminum sheet. I for sure need to play more with magnets, In fact I am lusting for the big magnet that
jacquesm talked about.
petercooper 5 hours ago 4 replies      
At the time of writing, the linked site is down, but I found what I suspect is a similar demonstration at http://www.bbc.co.uk/bang/handson/magneticcopper.shtml
untog 5 hours ago 0 replies      
I cannot shake my perception that this video was, in fact, created and narrated by Zack Galifianakis.

"Just weird stuff. Eddy currents."

joejohnson 3 hours ago 1 reply      
Here is a really easy to understand explanation of eddy currents and Lenz's Law http://www.youtube.com/watch?NR=1&feature=endscreen&...
MaggieL 5 hours ago 1 reply      
At the Franklin Institute Science Museum years ago, they had a huge (2 foot diameter? More?) copper disk attached to a crank suspended in the gap of a big-ass electromagnet. The idea was you spun the crank, and then operated a foot pedal that applied current to the electromagnet, which braked the wheel with eddy currents.

The disk had slotted sectors, so you could tell that the braking effect was less when those sectors were in the gap.

I don't know if the exhibit survived the themparkification of fi.edu... I hope so but somehow I doubt it.

jurre 5 hours ago 1 reply      
So tempted to go and buy a magnet and copper pipe now!
ineedtogroove 4 hours ago 1 reply      
Have you guys ever seen a magnetic vortex?


Please explain to me how this works, I will buy you a donut

jamgraham 2 hours ago 0 replies      
I need a magnet suit and a big pipe
In case SOPA passes: IP addresses of popular websites reddit.com
265 points by RyanMcGreal  4 days ago   133 comments top 27
fleitz 4 days ago 5 replies      
I think we should stop viewing this as a bad thing and start viewing it as a huge opportunity. Phone your congress person or senator and encourage them to vote for it.

As the torrent sites go down they'll come back up as tor hidden services. Once we're on tor or something like it the game changes entirely. As we stop trusting the root DNS, we'll start trusting something like a bitcoin hash chain based DNS system, as we create an anonymized, decentralized internet freedom of expression increases exponentially. No URDP, no SOPA, no unencrypted protocols, security of the person in their effects will be guaranteed by mathematics and not the good will of politicians.

With all the monitoring, etc thats already in place it's only a matter of time. We have the opportunity to lay the foundations of a decentralized internet over something as trivial as copyright rather than freedom of speech. We'll stop having to rely on a government to respect our liberties and instead instill them in the design of the system.

Decentralized information, decentralized currency, decentralized control over the future of humanity.

While it's true that this system created by SOPA will inevitably be abused to curtail civil rights, the important thing to remember is that most people care far more about getting their music than getting their rights.

Lets give the people their music, and they'll get their rights as they go along for the ride.

blhack 4 days ago 3 replies      
Okay, first, the chances of youtube.com, or wikipedia (why?) disappearing tomorrow are approximately 0.

That said, a lot of these "solutions" that people are coming up with just end up getting closer and closer to what the DNS already accomplishes.

The worst case scenario here is just a fragmented DNS, and the US losing control of the .com TLD. The "doomsday" scenario here is that DNS servers stop trusting the root servers, and don't take updates from them.

This is a gigantic headache for network and system administrators. It is not the end of the internet.

If you guys really really care that much, here: http://www.verisigninc.com/en_US/products-and-services/domai...

Apply for access to the .com zone files, download them, and up your own DNS servers. Don't accept any updates from anybody ever and you'll have a much, much, much more complete, much more "you can query this as a daemon" version of these silly lists.

there 4 days ago  replies      
i'm as big a hater of SOPA as the next guy, but this fearmongering is getting a bit silly. as if SOPA is going to pass and overnight all of those popular commercially-run websites are going to vanish with no notice or court hearings.

and from a technical standpoint, most of those websites listed use CDNs for static assets, so unless you list the constantly-changing IPs of akamai and other servers for all of the weird random-looking hostnames used by those CDNs, many of those sites will not even load to a usable state. (and porn sites? really?)

also, from the reddit thread:

As some posters suggested, you can use another DNS server. The two server I'm reasonably certain about are OpenDNS and Google DNS. Both of them are US based but I think Google will move it's server to Europe if SOPA passes.

using a resolver in the EU from the US would be frustratingly slow due to the latency. you're better off showing users how to setup their own caching servers to bypass their ISP (i've always run my own caching server just for technical reasons).

and do you really think google cares about SOPA? they have done practically nothing to stop it; no notice on their homepage, no public awareness, only one legal representative sent to the preliminary hearing, etc. this is the same company that partnered with china and supported their censorship just to make some additional ad revenue.

larrik 4 days ago 0 replies      
The BoingBoing link is a worthless waste of time.

Use this one to go there directly:


flyt 4 days ago 0 replies      
I would recommend against using these IP addresses for large sites. Most of them (Facebook, Google, Amazon, etc) use geographic load balancing to redirect users to servers as logically close to them as possible. Using this list could result in accessing much slower services via server clusters on the other side of the world.
forsaken 4 days ago 0 replies      
Sounds like the eventual outcome of this is a dark/grey net DNS system. I wouldn't be surprised if something like this already existed, but now it will be much more useful and interesting to everyday people.
EGreg 4 days ago 1 reply      
If SOPA passes, can lots of people call the financial companies, ad companies and others doing business with the RIAA, MPAA, and so forth, and "allege" that they are "facilitating" copyright and trademark infringement. According to the SOPA law as it is now, they will have to be shut down.

At the very least it will tie up the system

Or it might actually show these guys what kind of monster they have brought about ... kind of like Sarcozy's household being disconnected from the internet



But it's OK when THEY do it, right?

However, if there are only foreign sites (registrar is abroad), then I doubt any major sites are hosted there, besides


Correct me if I'm wrong, but under the current SOPA, only FOREIGN SITES can have their financials cut off, right? I thought the Operation In Our Sites is able to already seize domain names registered locally. So it seems to me that the SOPA simply adds provisions to censor sites registered abroad, in American DNS only, because their registrar is beyond US jurisdiction.

For example Russians use vkontakte.ru to listen to any song. What would SOPA do about this?

However, YouTube contains lots of uploaded songs and the US government could have seized their domain for a long time already, but didn't.

So I think the threat is more to the purity and security of the worldwide DNS system, as well as to the costs of the ISPs, than it is to social networking sites. At least, I hope. Does SOPA override the DMCA for locally-registered sites, or did Operation In Our Sites just give carte blanche to the government to take out sites?

koenigdavidmj 4 days ago 0 replies      
It's not the popular websites that will get hit. The public will flip out if their bread and Facebook, er, circuses, go away, and SOPA will not be in effect for very long.

The trouble will come when websites get blocked that do not have enough public support to bring them back again.

As long as Facebook and Gmail are up, it's only nerds like us who will care.

nikcub 4 days ago 0 replies      
SOPA is definitely having the opposite effect because I just found a couple of great sites that I didn't know about
leeoniya 4 days ago 3 replies      
wonder if it's time to code an FF extension that aggregates and stores IP addresses of sites i visit and bypasses the resolver/DNS from this DB.
andrewcooke 4 days ago 0 replies      
i wrote a small python script that helps handle DNS updates like this. if anyone is interested it's at https://github.com/ghettonet/GhettoNet

it allows for dated updates, distributing in web pages, etc, but it's only a command line interface. i hoped someone might add a gui...

yangez 4 days ago 0 replies      
On a surface level, most of the items on this list are pretty absurd. Sites like Facebook, Amazon, and Youtube aren't immediately going down as soon as SOPA passes, except the torrent sites. There's a good chance they won't be affected at all by SOPA.

However, this list is interesting because it draws attention to the fact that these huge sites COULD legally vanish without a trace. Although I doubt anyone's going to seriously try to take down Facebook or Amazon using SOPA, it's still scary to imagine.

bgarbiak 4 days ago 0 replies      
Facebook (and, probably, some others too) redirects you from IP address to the domain anyway, so...
TallGuyShort 3 days ago 0 replies      
The list saddens me, to be quite honest. Yes, SOPA is morally wrong and technically stupid, and I don't think the government can or should fight piracy like this. But I think it devalues the cause if such a large portion of the "emergency list" is porno and piracy web sites. Seriously? The real reasons this is dangerous is because of civil rights and the damage that's already been caused to legitimate businesses by government incompetence (e.g. erroneously changing the DNS of small businesses to forward to an accusation of child sex crimes because they happened to share infrastructure with the real criminal).

The fact remains that piracy is dishonest, and only serves to legitimize the claims of Big Media. Say what you want about DRM, copyright law and ridiculous terms of service, but if you're really someone who believes in free government and the important role of the Internet in preserving it, I hope you join with me in rolling your eyes at people who torrent illegal media and worry about the effect of SOPA on their porn viewing. There are plenty of ways to buy inexpensive, DRM-free music, and plenty of ways to actually support the artists who make the music.

Permit 4 days ago 1 reply      
If people have serious concerns, would it not be possible to build a Google Chrome/Firefox Plugin that acted as a sort of DNS service? It would be a lot easier for the average user to install one of these in one click than it might be for them to change their DNS settings.

Just a thought.

leeoniya 4 days ago 2 replies      
maybe google in their fight against SOPA can come to the rescue and release a database publicly of all its crawled websites, which can be syndicated somehow via p2p. i mean they gotta have this info.
IvarTJ 4 days ago 1 reply      
I have often wished for a way to see a history of what IP addresses domains are resolved to, from my system's resolver or a DNS server. This, in contrast, seems awfully primitive.
dholowiski 4 days ago 0 replies      
Does anyone notice the irony... back when the internet was new, dns was just a bunch of dns/ip mappings in a text file... then we went to a big distributed system... now the US government is going to force us to go back to distributing text files.
pavelkaroukin 4 days ago 0 replies      
Please, adopt Namecoin. There are already open source DNS servers available I believe. :) Using google document or hosts file do not scale at all, while namecoin now have all hashing power of bitcoin thanks to merged mining.
evo_9 4 days ago 0 replies      
HN's IP, just in case:
micheljansen 4 days ago 0 replies      
I really hope that the internet anthropologists of the future will someday read this thread and have a hearty laugh on our behalf in the knowledge that all our worries were for nothing.
ryanwhitney 4 days ago 0 replies      
Hm, that Reddit thread and the corresponding Google Doc both link to sites with illegal and pirated content on them.

Call your local representative and get them to shut down Reddit and Google Docs via SOPA!

showdog 4 days ago 0 replies      
Don't fix your hosts files, fix your broken political system!
nu23 3 days ago 0 replies      
I thought blocking IP addresses itself was a part of the proposed law. If that happens, this wont help. Using proxies is a solution, but this will make things much slower, especially for videos.
AdamFernandez 4 days ago 2 replies      
I'm sure we could come up with some sort of host file synchronization application to circumvent the DNS changes. It would be awful compared to DNS, but at least it would be more workable than remembering and saving IP addresses.
randomtyler 4 days ago 1 reply      
I'm not sure why this is being up-voted so much. It won't work. SOPA works by not routing specific IPs, not by failing to resolve domains (which is why it fundamentally breaks the internet). Additionally, a single IP won't work for a major site like YouTube or Facebook, which work off multiple data-centers and CDNs (which also complicates how to "block" a site served by 50 IPs that may also be distributing content for another major brand). This is bigger than a hosts file.
maximusprime 4 days ago 1 reply      
Flagged. Up-voters should be ashamed perpetuating scaremongering propaganda.

The sky is not falling. Shame to see the "I need to be outraged by something, regardless of whether it's true or not" spilling over here from Reddit.

SOPA Hearings Delayed, 140,000 Americans watched the hearings gigaom.com
261 points by kposehn  4 days ago   57 comments top 11
darrenkopp 4 days ago 5 replies      
During that time we should compile a list of all representatives that support this bill and any/all donations and from whom those donations came from to support this bill. When the money trail is out in the open, I think both the representatives and the donors may be more timid about pushing forward against an unpopular bill like this.
hastur 4 days ago 1 reply      
I live in Poland and I watched almost the whole hearing because I care.

(Although we have a bigger problem in the EU right now - ACTA is about to be signed by the Commission, Parliament vote pending in a couple of weeks.)

Big thumbs up for Congressmen Issa (R-CA), Polis (D-CO), Lofgren (D-CA) and Chaffetz (R-UT) for their performance. Remember those names if you vote in their districts.

Bobby_Tables 4 days ago 3 replies      
Lamar Smith needs to be sent a very clear message, in the form of a landslide defeat in the next election to someone along the lines of Darrell Issa. What would it take to make that happen? How do we (the tech community) recruit someone that has the poise and fundraising ability to win an election? What do we do once we find someone?

Smith seems to be Public Enemy #1 on this issue, and I believe he represents a part of Texas with some tech presence (Austin). There may be others who are good targets as well...if the message is "support this anti-technology bill and you'll lose your job", maybe other Congresspeople will think twice about supporting MPAA-written legislation.

(Or maybe they won't. But we won't know unless we try.)

clumsysmurf 3 days ago 0 replies      
"Update.... Or not. Despite the fact that Congress was supposed to be out of session until the end of January, the Judiciary Committee has just announced plans to come back to continue the markup this coming Wednesday. This is rather unusual and totally unnecessary. But it shows just how desperate Hollywood is to pass this bill as quickly as possible, before the momentum of opposition builds up even further."


JeremyBanks 4 days ago 1 reply      
The title says "SOPA Hearings Pushed to 2012", but this is nowhere in the article. Edit, please.
wavephorm 4 days ago 4 replies      
Is there a list of representatives that support this bill anywhere? Just so voters know which people and political parties to never vote for again.
aj700 4 days ago 1 reply      
As a European, just let me say, oh great, now I have to run a Tor relay/bridge for the entire United States, and I'm not sure my basic adsl or my poor little mac mini can cope with that...

  " ...and routes around it! "

chris_gogreen 4 days ago 0 replies      
This is a result of not having a limit on the amount a corporation can donate to a political campaign. The maximum should be 0, this is more like a government by the people for the corporations.
maeon3 4 days ago 1 reply      
I hope they don't pull a "1913" and pass the bill on Christmas day like they did with the federal reserve act, legislation which caused the great depression and the 2008 subprime mortgage crisis and leaves us about 15 digits in debt here today. sopa is kind of like that. Replacing free market currency/internet with regulated currency/internet.
electromagnetic 4 days ago 3 replies      
I fail to understand why taxpayers pay $174,000 as a salary to Congressmen given that 261 of them are millionares. Furthermore, I don't get why they're given a wage when dozens of them are being handed this salary or more on a single issue. McCain got paid almost 12 times as much on this bill as his wage.
       cached 21 December 2011 03:11:01 GMT