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Megaupload down, FBI Charges Seven With Online Piracy wsj.com
687 points by waitwhat  4 days ago   338 comments top 68
AlexMuir 4 days ago  replies      
At the risk of megadownvoting here...

Megaupload never complied with DMCA requests - I made several as part of some research and never received any response. The site charged for access to, and provided advertising around, pirated content. The site paid people (users/staff - it's a fine line) to provide popular content.

It went to extraordinary lengths to hide the identity of its operators.

Now if people believe that anyone should be allowed to set up a site, fill it with full length DVD rips,and then charge $10 a month for access then no wrong has been committed. But I think most right-minded people would say that is wrong - otherwise we'd all be doing it.

Kim Schmitz has made a lot of money over a five to seven year period doing this. But the risk that came with that was that eventually he'd face serious jailtime.

I cannot believe that Megaupload is being touted as an anti-SOPA posterchild. It is, pure and simple, a piracy site full of pirated material. I'd be astounded [see update] if anyone here uses it for anything other than pirating. But let's not pretend it's Dropbox - it isn't.

I am also astounded that people on HN are calling this a legitimate business. What was its business? Was it being used to distribute Wikipedia archives? To host videos of people's kids singing? No - it was hosting pirated content. Not torrents, not links. AVI files of films. AND THEN CHARGING FOR ACCESS.

[Update: It seems some people below did use it for sending big files. Colour me astounded. I've never had to do this so it's new to me. I guess the fact remains that they had to subsidise this activity somehow - and that they made their money off popular content. They have to hope this is enough to cover their asses.]

droithomme 4 days ago 3 replies      
Wow, that article's certainly not biased! </sarcasm>

> "MegaUpload.com is already engaged in a legal fight with Universal Music Group over a promotional video featuring some UMG artists."

I suppose there are some reading that that don't know MegaUpload hired all the artists and had contracts and copyright licenses with them and had complete rights to the video, which UMG illegally and fraudulently filed a takedown notice against YouTube. Also, the loaded term "file-sharing site" certainly confuses the issue that the site is like DropBox and sells on line storage space. Plenty of legitimate businesses and artists use it to distribute files which they own all rights to. Just like YouTube, yes, some misuse that. Is YouTube also fairly called a "file-sharing site" by the Journal now? Would not know any of the real facts from reading this article. How far has fallen the formerly great, but now Murdoch owned and controlled Wall Street Journal. I was a subscriber for years, but gave up a few years ago when the quality plummeted and objectivity flew out the window.

Update: Oh boy, today two of the programmers that worked for Megaupload have been arrested and another is wanted for arrest: http://torrentfreak.com/megaupload-shut-down-120119/ All face 50 years in prison. (20 years for racketeering, 5 for copyright conspiracy, 20 for money laundering conspiracy, 5 for copyright violation.) This will certainly send a chilling message to any talented engineers considering a job interview at a company that allows third party uploads some of which are DMCA violations, such as YouTube.

e1ven 4 days ago 4 replies      
Wow. This is a really interesting situation; I can't agree with this action at all.

1) The site complied with DMCA regulations, and removed material when asked.

2) The site did not directly promote piracy, which was Grokster decision.

3) The listed employees are all (or nearly all) not US citizens, so this required international cooperation, and extradition over copyright?

From my perspective it looks like they were follow the letter of the law on all, or nearly all counts.
The DOJ seems to have decided that if they can't really charge them with something specific, they'll go upstream, and charge them with vague broad things.

This makes me rather worried that even if you run a legitimate business, and comply with the law, if the DOJ decides they don't like you, you're done for.


dazbradbury 3 days ago 1 reply      
I have posted the full Indictment as a news story here: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=3487808

It's an interesting and sometimes amusing read. However, in case people are curious, but don't want to read the ENTIRE document here are my extended highlights:


NOMM, and BRAM VAN DER KOLK, the defendants, and others known and unknown to the
Grand Jury, were members of the “Mega Conspiracy,” a worldwide criminal organization whose
members engaged in criminal copyright infringement and money laundering on a massive scale
with estimated harm to copyright holders well in excess of $500,000,000 and reported income in
excess of $175,000,000.


Megaupload.com was at one point in its history estimated to be the 13th most
frequently visited website on the entire Internet. The site claims to have had more than one
billion visitors in its history, more than 180,000,000 registered users to date, an average of
50 million daily visits, and to account for approximately four percent of the total traffic on
the Internet.


Subscription fees
collected during the existence of the Mega Conspiracy from premium users are estimated to be
more than $150 million. Online advertising on Megaupload.com and its associated websites,
which is heavily dependent on the popularity of copyright infringing content to attract website
visits, has further obtained more than $25 million for the Mega Conspiracy.


KIM DOTCOM, who has also been known as KIM SCHMITZ and KIM TIM
JIM VESTOR, is a resident of both Hong Kong and New Zealand, and a dual citizen of Finland
and Germany. DOTCOM is the founder of MEGAUPLOAD LIMITED (“MUL”) and
Megamedia Limited (“MMG”).
In calendar year 2010
alone, DOTCOM received more than $42 million from the Mega Conspiracy.


VAN DER KOLK had stated,
“we have a funny business . . . modern days pirates :)” ORTMANN responded, “we're not
pirates, we're just providing shipping services to pirates :)”.


On or about April 8, 2011, VESTOR LIMITED transferred approximately
$616,000 to NBS for yacht rental;

b. On or about April 18, 2011, VESTOR LIMITED transferred
approximately $3,606,000 to ECL for yacht rental;

c. On or about May 27, 2011, MEGAUPLOAD LIMITED transferred
approximately $212,000 to ECL for yacht rental;

d. On or about June 22, 2011, VESTOR LIMITED transferred approximately
$1,127,000 to NBS for yacht rental; and

e. On or about June 24, 2011, VESTOR LIMITED transferred approximately
$2,394,000 to SYM for yacht rental.


The United States of America gives notice to all defendants, that upon conviction
of any defendant, a money judgment may be imposed on that defendant equal to the total value
of the property subject to forfeiture, which is at least $175,000,000.


The United States of America gives notice to all defendants, that the property to
be forfeited includes, but is not limited to, the following:
1. $175,000,000 in United States dollars;

2. Bank of New Zealand, Account No. XX-XXXX-XXXX200-04, in the
name of Cleaver Richards Trust Account for Megastuff Limited;
3. Kiwibank, Account No. XX-XXXX-XXXX922-00, in the name of
Megastuff Limited Nominee Account No. 1;
4. Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation Limited in Auckland, New
Zealand, Account No. XXXXXXXXXXXX2088, in the name of BRAM
5. Citibank, Account No. XXXXXX3053, in the name of Megacard, Inc.;
6. Citibank, Account No. XXXXXX3066, in the name of Megasite, Inc.;
7. Stadtsparkasse München, Account No. XXXX4734, in the name of
8. Commerzbank, Account No. XXXXXXXX4800, in the name of
9. Deutsche Bank AG, Account No. XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX6600, in the


Rabobank Nederland, Account No. NLXXXXXXXXXXXX7300, in the
name of Bramos BV;
58. Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation Australia, Account
No. XXXXXXXX0087, in the name of MATHIAS ORTMANN;
59. Ceskoslovenska Obchodna Banka Slovakia, Account No.
XXXXXXXX9833, in the name of JULIUS BENCKO;
60. Paypal Inc., account paypal@megaupload.com;
61. Paypal Inc., account belonging to KIM DOTCOM
62. Paypal Inc., accounts belonging to SVEN ECHTERNACH
(xxxxxx@sectravel.com, xxxxxx@sectravel.com, and
63. Paypal Inc., account belonging to BRAM VAN DER KOLK
64. Moneybookers Limited, account belonging to


66. 2010 Maserati GranCabrio, VIN ZAMKM45B000051328, License Plate
No. “M-FB 212” or “DH-GC 470”, registered to FINN BATATO;

67. 2009 Mercedes-Benz E500 Coupe, VIN WDD20737225019582, License
Plate No. “FEG690”;

68. 2005 Mercedes-Benz CLK DTM, VIN WDB2093422F165517, License
Plate No. “GOOD”;

69. 2004 Mercedes-Benz CLK DTM AMG 5.5L Kompressor, VIN
WDB2093422F166073, License Plate No. “EVIL”;

70. 2010 Mercedes-Benz S65 AMG L, VIN WDD2211792A324354, License
Plate No. “CEO”;

71. 2008 Rolls-Royce Phantom Drop Head Coupe, VIN
SCA2D68096UH07049; License Plate No. “GOD”;

72. 2010 Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG, VIN WDD2120772A103834, License
Plate No. “STONED”;

73. 2010 Mini Cooper S Coupe, VIN WMWZG32000TZ03651, License Plate
No. “V”;

74. 2010 Mercedes-Benz ML63 AMG, VIN WDC1641772A608055, License
Plate No. “GUILTY”;

75. 2007 Mercedes-Benz CL65 AMG, VIN WDD2163792A025130, License
Plate No. “KIMCOM”;

76. 2009 Mercedes-Benz ML63 AMG, VIN WDC1641772A542449, License
Plate No. “MAFIA”;

77. 2010 Toyota Vellfire, VIN 7AT0H65MX11041670, License Plate Nos.
“WOW” or “7”;

78. 2011 Mercedes-Benz G55 AMG, VIN WDB4632702X193395, License
Plate Nos. “POLICE” or “GDS672”;

79. 2011 Toyota Hilux, VIN MR0FZ29G001599926, License Plate
No. “FSN455”;

80. Harley Davidson Motorcycle, VIN 1HD1HPH3XBC803936, License
Plate No. “36YED”;

81. 2010 Mercedes-Benz CL63 AMG, VIN WDD2163742A026653, License
Plate No. “HACKER”;

82. 2005 Mercedes-Benz A170, VIN WDD1690322J184595, License Plate
No. “FUR252”;

83. 2005 Mercedes-Benz ML500, VIN WDC1641752A026107, License Plate
No. DFF816;

84. Fiberglass sculpture, imported from the United Kingdom with Entry
No. 83023712;

85. 1957 Cadillac El Dorado, VIN 5770137596;
86. 2010 Sea-Doo GTX Jet Ski, VIN YDV03103E010;
87. 1959 Cadillac Series 62 Convertible, VIN 59F115669;
88. Von Dutch Kustom Motor Bike, VIN 1H9S14955BB451257;
89. 2006 Mercedes-Benz CLK DTM, VIN WDB2094421T067269;
90. 2010 Mini Cooper S Coupe, VIN WMWZG32000TZ03648 License
Plate No. “T”;
91. 1989 Lamborghini LM002, VIN ZA9LU45AXKLA12158, License Plate
No. “FRP358”;
92. 2011 Mercedes-Benz ML63, VIN 4JGBB7HB0BA666219;
93. Samsung 820DXN 82” LCD TV;
94. Samsung 820DXN 82” LCD TV;
95. Samsung 820DXN 82” LCD TV;


110. The following domain names: Megastuff.co; Megaworld.com;
Megaclicks.co; Megastuff.info; Megaclicks.org; Megaworld.mobi;
Megastuff.org; Megaclick.us; Mageclick.com; HDmegaporn.com;
Megavkdeo.com; Megaupload.com; Megaupload.org; Megarotic.com;
Megaclick.com; Megavideo.com; Megavideoclips.com; Megaporn.com.


Signed by: United States Attorney, Chief of Cybercrime Unit, and Assistant Attorney General.

rbanffy 4 days ago 2 replies      
> According to the indictment, MegaUpload is responsible for at least $500 million in losses for the owners of the copyrights in question.

I really can no longer stand such outlandish claims. Do they mean they would have sold 50 million more movies at US$ 10 each if the site didn't exist? Or do they think they'd have sold 500 million downloads for US$1 each? Or 5 billion for 10¢? In fact, they most probably got a couple extra sales from people who really loved a movie they downloaded to the point of buying the DVD (or BD) version.

zotz 4 days ago 2 replies      
Megaupload files countersuit against Universal, FBI moves in.

Good thing I'm not the paranoid kind.

cyanbane 4 days ago 3 replies      
From DOJ Presser:

For example, when notified by a rights holder that a file contained infringing content, the indictment alleges that the conspirators would disable only a single link to the file, deliberately and deceptively leaving the infringing content in place to make it seamlessly available to millions of users to access through any one of the many duplicate links available for that file.

I assume the DMCA specifies content removal not removal of links/access to the content? It puts places like Dropbox in an interesting place. If you share a link with someone and the link is to something from "your own" storage space, and a rights holder issues a takedown (for the sharing aspect) is the company also supposed to remove the content from "your storage" assuming it is the same 1s and 0s? Should they have a right to if it is only you with access?

Vivtek 4 days ago 1 reply      
I thought the burning need for SOPA/PIPA was that there was no way for American legal processes to deal with international criminals? Have the MPAA and RIAA misled me about their sponsored legislation?!?
bri3d 4 days ago 1 reply      
Hosting files is a dangerous business - the line between being shut down for infringement and not being shut down seems to be drawn by who you know and what users you end up with, not any real actions, design, or technical differences in your site.

The indictment of Megaupload actually uses their lack of search function and censorship of copyrighted material from their "top content" list as marks against them. This means most other file sharing services which focus on one-to-one or one-to-many sharing and hence omit search and a "trending" list (looking at Dropbox, here) are vulnerable.

lhnz 4 days ago 1 reply      
Is this the Megaupload run by the producer Swizz Beatz posted on here only a little earlier? http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=3484419

So the RIAA are going after their own artists for allegedly stealing money from their own artists? What a weird industry this is...

billpatrianakos 4 days ago 0 replies      
There's a lot to untangle here. The most important question raised by this is "So why is SOPA/PIPA necessary again?".

It's pretty clear that the main use for MegaUpload is for distributing pirated works. The site is essentially the equivalent of Box.net except instead of storing your company business plan in word format everyone puts up the newest movies, music, etc.

But they're based in Homg Kong so where does the US get off shutting it down? Maybe it was a coordinated effort between governments in which case you don't have to agree with it but you can't say it wasn't legal. But then we have to ask if the US is abusing their "power" by pressuring other nations to bend to their will in cases like this.

Whether you're pro-piracy, anti-piracy, pro-copyright or anti-copyright the fact is that it's still the law and it's really hard to believe that MegaUpload is really on the up and up. The only thing they have is a disclaimer that gives them plausible deniability. Other than that they're basically a version of the pirate bay except they actually host the infringing files.

Defending MegaUpload is like a bunch of pot-heads who read a story about how a weed dealer gets arrested for selling pot. Their stance on the legality of marijuana is irrelevant because it's currently illegal and the authorities were within their rights. Even if you throw a wrinkle into the story wherein the hypothetical dealer is arrested at a border crossing in a foreign nation, the point still stands as the odds are that selling pot is illegal in most other countries too save for some exceptions but let's not be pedantic about it.

It's the same here in this case. Whatever your position on copyright and piracy is, it's irrelevant because it's been the law for a long time now.

But everything I just said is completely beside the point we should be really focusing on which is, if the authorities are able to shut down infringing sites already then why do we need more laws like SOPA? They already have the power to go after the major pains in their collective sides so more laws are totally unnecessary. SOPA-like laws may make it more convenient for them to do this sort of thing but we can't let that happen. They just want a system where they don't have to go through the "inconvenience" of actually gathering evidence and building a case. That's the long and short of it.

I'd also like to note how extremely biased this article was. They took a shot at Google and implied that our side of the debate is in favor of piracy. I think a lot of us are but we need to get off that because it's hurting our argument. I personally and against piracy and for copyright to a certain extent (I think copyright extends too far as it is but support the idea of it if it were implemented better) but I'm also absolutely against SOPA and PIPA. A person can hold those two views.

So let's put aside our piracy/copyright stances for now because we're totally playng into their game and they're using it against us. Instead we should be asking why we need SOPA if the Feds can already adequately shut down "pirate sites" and talking more about how these laws do away with due process and articulate it in a way that relates to non-techies.

benologist 4 days ago 0 replies      
Not sure why anyone's drawing comparisons to Dropbox. MegaUpload was fundamentally a paywall in front of everything you can possibly imagine pirating. Basically a direct-download TPB with heavy handed incentives to convince people to pay to do it.

As a legitimate file sharing service, which to a very small extent Dropbox is, it was absolutely terrible - wait xx seconds or minutes to download a file at a reduced speed.

mkr-hn 4 days ago 0 replies      
You shouldn't be able to shut a person's business down just by charging them with something. Any business but an enormous corporation would collapse while waiting for the charges to be dropped. A false accusation would end your business.
FaceKicker 4 days ago 1 reply      
DoJ press release with a little more info: http://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/2012/January/12-crm-074.html
delackner 3 days ago 0 replies      
At a glance this seemed like an obvious move, but the deeper you look everything stops making sense.

The emails between company officers suggest that they themselves used their own service to upload copyrighted content and share it with others, knowingly breaking the law. Case closed!

But what gives US law enforcement the right to obtain those private emails between officers of a foreign company? Reasonable suspicion of infringement? What suspicion? Suspicion of failure to comply with DMCA takedown notices?

What is the basis for that suspicion? Their failure to delete ALL links to any file for which a single link is reported. But as many others have pointed out, each of those links represents a specific user who has uploaded the same file. Without a public searchable index, each of those keys is effectively a distinct privately uploaded file.

So we come down to whether a copyright holder has the authority to say "anyone anywhere who has uploaded a copy of this file, does not have the right to share it".

What next? If a service like Dropbox borrows a hint from git and stores not just single file hashes, but distinct unique data chunks, and a takedown request calls for the deletion of say, a feature film, will they claim Dropbox knowingly infringed for failing to remove a 10 second chunk of that film that some student put in their dissertation?

brador 4 days ago 5 replies      
So in terms of precedent, if dropbox can be used to store copyright files, could they also be shut down on a whim like this?
andrewfelix 4 days ago 1 reply      
A graphic designer was one of those arrested...

I have a lump in my throat, I thought down in the pacific we were safe from your batshit crazy FBI.

sagarun 4 days ago 2 replies      
FBI doesn't have any 'job' other than chasing down bunch of movie "pirates"?
meric 4 days ago 0 replies      
I think the SOPA/PIPA blackout thing was really getting to a couple of congressmen / senators who knew about this FBI operation; They then told FBI to hurry it up so they can have something to respond. Let's watch which senator/congressman speak up to say this is an example of why laws like SOPA/PIPA are needed; $X million was required to bring these "foreign criminals impinging on American rights" to justice. With new laws they can be shutdown much more cost effectively.

When I'm looking for a job next time, it'll not be one whose primary business is hosting user content.

espeed 4 days ago 0 replies      
So what's their strategy now? -- A bunch of high-profile busts to raise the profile of the issue among the general public in an attempt to build support for SOPA and friends?
gry 4 days ago 2 replies      
SOPA and PIPA would help how? This appears successful without them.
ortusdux 4 days ago 0 replies      
The last sentence bugs me. It is ambiguous at best, but in this context it implies a criminal past. The truth is that UMG used a DMCA takedown notice to remove media that Megaupload alone owned the rights to. Megaupload felt that UMG overstepped their bounds and preceded to start said legal battle. It seems to me that the final sentence, presented without context, is editorializing; basically saying 'hey the FBI says these guys are criminals, oh and they are also in court for this other thing'.
gitarr 4 days ago 0 replies      
What a sad day for free speech and the internet.

The USA is no longer a democracy. Shady companies and the richest couple of assholes owning everything are making the decisions now and instruct their politicians and their law agencies on who to attack.

This will not bode well with "the internet", which is just another term for millions of intelligent people around the world who are not happy with this system anymore. We are waking up and it is going to get ugly.

Copying is not theft. When people download something they probably wouldn't have bought it anyway, or they did afterwards. Intellectual copyright is a fallacy.

rquantz 4 days ago 1 reply      
I'm interested in the relationship between this argument and the one going on elsewhere on HN today concerning 37signals' looking up the name of their 100 millionth file in their logs. For MegaUpload, the implication seems to be (from the government if not from commenters here) that, on top of complying with DMCA requests (obviously there are also questions about whether they did even that), MegaUpload should be monitoring files that its users upload, looking for copyrighted content. On the other hand, some people reacting to the 37signals incident seem to think that they should not even have access to the names of files, let alone the actual content.

I'm not sure where I stand on this, and forgive me if I've mischaracterized anyone's arguments, but I do think these two discussion have bearing on each other, and I want to hear what others think about it.

fatalerrorx3 4 days ago 0 replies      
I guess megavideo.com is also part of the "mega" network? I just was curious so I typed in megavideo.com and it looks like they're also down..my browser just sitting there spinning then timing out. Will be interesting to see how this whole thing plays out -- especially with that rapper just being appointed CEO...that must be the shortest time span a person has been CEO the world over..what was it a few hours?
a_a_r_o_n 3 days ago 0 replies      
"I cannot believe that Megaupload is being touted as an anti-SOPA posterchild."

The US government just proved that the US government does not need SOPA to shutdown a foreign site and physically arrest its operators in foreign countries.

I can't think of any better demonstration against the need for SOPA.

EGreg 4 days ago 1 reply      
As I said, the government could already do this, which is why they are doing it in nations that work with the US:


I also wrote my congressman about SOPA:


Man I sometimes wish that things that go against groupthink in HN were addressed too :)

wmf 4 days ago 0 replies      
The "pay to download, get paid to upload" business model does seem fishy to me; I guess I'm not the only one.
aviv 4 days ago 0 replies      
It was reported today that MegaUpload's CEO is none other than Swizz Beatz. How is it that the FBI charges the company's graphic designer but not the CEO?
nphrk 4 days ago 6 replies      
Why did they charge the graphic designer and the developers?
thebigredjay 4 days ago 0 replies      
I can't really stand up for Megaupload, but I'm frightened by the power wielded by labels. Perhaps it's time to start a movement of only consuming local and independent art.
icegreentea 4 days ago 0 replies      
Heh, feel kind of late joining the party. Just wanted to add some more perspective to a lot of the stuff going around. Strolling by my favourite 'warez' forum, it's pretty clear that MU is one of the favoured hosting solutions for distributing 'pirated' material. That along with rapidshare, filesonic, and a few others.

So actually, it's not really a case of playing wack-a-mole. If the top 3/4 were taken down at once, literally years of work would be undone. Sure, it could be reposted, but at a massive inconvenience to both the uploaders, and downloaders. With sites like MU, traffic will always converge onto a relative handful of sites, because of their business models. They give incentives to users who upload stuff that get downloaded a lot (at least 90% of that stuff got to be 'pirated'). They cap the download rate for anyone who doesn't pay for their service. Since people rather not pay for a bunch of sites, uploaders and downloaders will converge onto a select few sites to minimize friction.

elliottkember 3 days ago 0 replies      
I was outside the mansion today and took a few photos of his cars being seized. http://up.riothq.com/DUQz - more in a bit if anybody wants a look.
cafard 15 hours ago 0 replies      
Would these be the complainants who hijacked a lot of other people's legitimate content?
ThaddeusQuay2 4 days ago 0 replies      
Does anyone know how MU collected money? With all of the restrictive ToS used by payment processors these days, I am very interested to know how they were able to maintain an income stream, for so many years, while their payment processor must have been aware of the potential illegality happening at MU. I'm not making a statement for or against MU, just wanting to know how they were able to keep going when an entity such as WikiLeaks, or a small guy on PayPal who has one chargeback, are so easily financially cut off.
hackermom 4 days ago 1 reply      
What's next? Shutting down Gmail because a portion of its users send copyrighted MP3s to eachother?
treefrog 4 days ago 0 replies      
What's happening to the Megaupload databases? Are they being confiscated?

I never used the service much myself, but can you imagine the amount of people that could potentially be indicted by their download history?

wavephorm 4 days ago 1 reply      
Like the War on Drugs, it's almost quaint how the US government either isn't aware, or doesn't care that they're playing a game of whack-a-mole. As long as the the bureaucracy is strengthened, and the lobbyist checks keep rolling in, and everyone keeps their jobs, then everything is good.
squarecat 4 days ago 0 replies      
I guess I missed the press release that the announced the FBI's change in sponsorship. Are they adding the the UMG logo to their uniforms and vehicles?
kayoone 4 days ago 1 reply      
Kimble goes to jail once again it seems.. I remember people downvoting me in an earlier bit about megaupload where i said that this guy has his hands dirty and should be avoided. People claimed i shouldnt judge him by his past crimes...well there you go ;)
loopdoend 4 days ago 0 replies      
Is there any doubt that sites like these* are simply exploiting a legal loophole? They recruit people to upload third-party content to their sites and then pay based on how many downloads/paid service signups the uploader gets.[1]

So, guess what they're uploading? They say they're compliant with a wink and nudge, but affiliates still get paid if they receive a DMCA notice against them. So yes, it is a conspiracy in that sense.

My personal views about copyright/'intellectual property'/'property' notwithstanding, these types of companies are the very cause of laws like SOPA/PIPA, which threaten the rest of us.

[1] http://www.wjunction.com/95-file-hosts-official-support

* Megaupload doesn't currently have an affiliate program, but it used to. (until mid-2011)

st3fan 3 days ago 1 reply      
OMG This is about Kim Schmitz aka Kimble and his Kimpire. He was a lot in the news in 2005 or so. Insider trading, shady business etc. Wow!
rmoriz 4 days ago 0 replies      
Hah, and I was downvoted a couple of weeks ago for pointing to the HK company registry and money laundry


shareme 3 days ago 0 replies      
Beware opponents of sharing will 'USE' DOJ and FBI to bring about their goals rather than the frotndoor of US Congress.

Remember folks, DOJ is supposedly chasing down child porn..with what funds? Who do think was on the bill to fund this? Guess..

Just like the TSA..if you want kill it you remove support for the funding bill in US Congress..PIPA/SOPA are red herrings and smoke screens

bproper 4 days ago 0 replies      
Does anyone else find it suspicious that Swizz Beatz was announced as CEO and 24 hours later there is an FBI crackdown? It seems like he is a patsy in this situation...
nextparadigms 4 days ago 2 replies      
So is Youtube next? Otherwise this really is just selective justice.
downandout 3 days ago 0 replies      
My reading of this indictment leads me to believe the you could replace "Mega Conspiracy" with "Youtube Conspiracy". Youtube profits from, and is well aware, that there are copyrighted videos on the system. A "reasonable person" would be aware that YouTube hosts infringing content, and is therefore not subject to the safe harbor provisions of the DMCA.

Larry, Sergey, and Eric better not drop the soap if they forget to pay off their local crime fighters.

te_chris 4 days ago 0 replies      
That the NZ police arrested them makes me embarrassed to be New Zealander.
aviv 4 days ago 0 replies      
What about MegaUpload's legitimate users? Surely some people used it to store backups and other important (legal) data and are now denied access to it. It is unlikely they will ever be able to get their files back.
Rabidgremlin 4 days ago 0 replies      
Kinda proves that SOPA, PIPA etc aren't really needed...
ChrisNorstrom 4 days ago 0 replies      
Well FUCK, all of our Resident Evil 5 mods where hosted with them.
jmvoodoo 3 days ago 0 replies      
Regardless of how this turns out, doesn't the fact that the DoJ already has the tools to take out sites like megaupload mean that we don't need things like SOPA/PIPA?
ThaddeusQuay2 3 days ago 0 replies      
The scams have already begun.


jav her channg / avenue 2211 / tucuman, sant 9000 AR

creation date: 19 Jan 2012 18:02:00

EDIT: And now, a few minutes later, it's been labeled a phishing site by Google.

tlogan 3 days ago 0 replies      
I'm actually here on side of FBI / DOJ.

As far as I understand they collected a lot of evidence that the site was actually promoting piracy, and refusing to comply to DMCA requests - and handsomely profiting from it (about ~170M).

Hey - on every torrent site when you search for a movie to download you have ad for megaupload (or some of these sites).

And megaupload is not only one: there is http://www.downloadweb.org and many others.

paul9290 4 days ago 1 reply      
Wow how ironic - one of the heads of MegaLoad was a musician backed by the RIAA. His wife being an immensely popular pop/soul singer, Alicia Keyes.
ricksta 4 days ago 0 replies      
It looks like Anonymous took down a bunch of websites just very recently.



and more...

GigabyteCoin 4 days ago 0 replies      
justice.gov is intermittent at best, not entirely "down".

Just timed out on the first try, and loaded on the second.

th0ma5 4 days ago 0 replies      
So this happened on the 5th, I take it in secret? I wonder what the need for secrecy was, to try and obtain the offenders or something?
namidark 4 days ago 1 reply      
Who needs SOPA when we have ICE?
maeon3 4 days ago 0 replies      
Maybe we can score a jury nullification, where they are found to be rightly accused, nonetheless no crime has been committed and are free to go.
cientifico 4 days ago 1 reply      
Did someone know the email address of the fbi to sue the people I don't like? How much it cost? Are they going to use fire weapons?
gfrison 4 days ago 0 replies      
There are 1000s Megaupload around. Politicians will never stop piracy.
linuxlizard 4 days ago 0 replies      
Good thing we had SOPA/PIPA to enable this legal action. Whew.
_investigator 4 days ago 0 replies      
AlexMuir has missed the most important point: Megaupload served infringing content from machines based in Virginia, overseen by the hosting provider Carpathia. The fact that the persons involved were not US citizens or that the company was based in Hong Kong are irrelevant. The servers (some of them) were in the US, not far from a court where a warrant could be obtained for anyone with cause (e.g. the FBI, DOJ) to look at all ingress and egress from those servers.

Game over.

bbit 4 days ago 0 replies      
LOL if there is a perfect case for SOPA to be passed this is one one site that should be taken down. Are you guys kidding me ? This should be in our favor. You take down this one but this one is totally different then say "google". Show them the difference and SOPA will stay away from the real websites that matter.
nickmolnar2 4 days ago 1 reply      
Can we just take a moment and note that Kim Dotcom had two Mercedes ML63 AMGs seized in the raid. One had the license plate 'Guilty' and the other 'Mafia'. He knew what business he was in: working around the law to facilitate massive scale copyright infringement.

If we want this anti-SOPA sentiment to stick, we need to draw a line in the sand somewhere. Even on a free and open web there are going to be some people who are just plain-old criminals. I'd prefer the line to be somewhere between me & Kim.


The next SOPA marco.org
548 points by dpkendal  3 days ago   165 comments top 46
ramanujan 3 days ago 4 replies      
Marco's heart is in the right place here, but campaign finance reform actually ends up disproportionately empowering media outlets. While various kinds of direct donations to candidates are capped or made more difficult by CFR, newspapers and television outlets aren't banned from writing stories on particular candidates, even up to the day or morning of the election.

Because advertising can't happen, but articles can, newspaper coverage under CFR amounts to a (huge) in-kind contribution in the form of PR. And especially when it comes to the MPAA, many of its member companies own media outlets in addition to movie studios.

Rupert Murdoch, for example, put the Wall Street Journal and Fox News to work in promoting SOPA/PIPA as that furthers the interests of 20th Century Fox.

So because no conceivable campaign finance regulation is going to muzzle the Wall Street Journal or the New York Times during an election, we may have to look elsewhere to check the MPAA's power. I think it's going to have to be something like a souped up version of Xtranormal, which makes production of high quality movies just as easy as distribution of said movies.

This isn't that unrealistic. Blogger made production and international distribution of high quality opinion possible with a few keystrokes, which led in part to the ongoing revenue collapse in print media. Video and audio are obviously much more complex on a frame-by-frame basis than text, but I have to believe that authoring tools can get far better than where they are. Make them web based, build in all kinds of samples and templates akin to blogger templates, use some of the new HTML5 toys to make authoring easier and easier.

Most of the results will be terrible, but most blogs are terrible. As long as enough high quality open access audio/video content is produced, the MPAA/RIAA will start to face the same financial fate as print media. Producing a technically and ethically superior product will always be more effective in the long run than a boycott.

snowwrestler 3 days ago 10 replies      
But I like to watch movies. I think a lot of movies are great--great enough to pay for them. Why should I shoot myself in the foot to keep someone else from shooting me in the foot?

This idea that the root cause of all bad legislation is political donations: it's wrong, and not supported by the data. The vast majority of political donations are made by people who are not lobbyists.

No one raised more political money in the history of this nation than Barack Obama during his presidential campaign, and the letter from his administration helped kill the bills. How about Rep. Issa and Sen. Wyden? Guess what, they got into office by spending donated money as well.

The problem isn't money, the problem is engagement. The tech industry, particularly on the Internet entrepreneurial side, has long prided itself on staying out of Washington. Well, now we see the consequence of that approach: it took a last-minute emergency OMG shitstorm to stop some bills--bills that could have easily been shaped, adjusted, or stopped much earlier if the industry had been engaged and paying attention.

The U.S. government is participatory. It will respond to citizen wishes, but only if citizens actively and continuously make their wishes known.

And it is inclusive. No matter how much you might think copyright should end, or that the MPAA should just go away forever and die, there are enough people who disagree with you that it's just not going to happen. Internet companies and advocates need to get comfortable with continuously engaging content companies in the legislative process, seeking common ground, and compromising.

IP law is not a winnable war. It is an ongoing negotiation that must be managed forever.

nostromo 3 days ago 1 reply      
Campaign finance reform is not a panacea. I notice that it's popular to blame money in politics for everything. Don't like a bill? Any bill? Obviously corrupt politicians are bought and paid for! Why else would they vote for such junk, right?

Wrong. SOPA and PIPA to a congressperson and to a large number of ordinary people make sense. The internet seems like a lawless place. To lawmakers, this is infuriating. People in government, left and right, believe in government solutions to most problems. Otherwise why would they work in government? As in most professions, there is a strong bias for action. Action feels like progress, even when the cure is worse than the disease.

Even if you got every dollar out of politics you will always see this pattern: lawmakers have one tool, instead of a hammer it's legislation, and all the world looks like a nail.

narrator 3 days ago 1 reply      
As I suggested in an earlier thread, why is noone starting a copyright liberalization campaign? If there was a strong political coalition to limit the duration of copyright to 25 years, to limit the use of overly broad patents, etc. it would provide a counteracting force that would force the copyright holders to compromise "in the middle". Instead we are doing boycotts and strongly worded letters, which while helpful, does not really do enough to stop them from steamrolling along with their agenda.
groggles 3 days ago  replies      
Given that the author is Marco (and the article is on HN because it is from Marco Arment), I wonder what his boycott position is regarding Apple? Apple has a long history of supporting draconian IP policies, and has a business model built around controlling what you can do with what you bought. Financially Apple absolutely dwarfs the combined revenue of all of the MPAA realm.

I don't mean to distract the conversation or hate on Apple, but it's a very pertinent question -- Marco and friends defend Apple's right to control their devices and their content, but are up in arms about media companies doing the same? Explain the reasoning why one company has the right to limit your freedoms while another doesn't?

(*- I will happily provide numerous citations of both Marco defending Apple draconian policies, and Apple supporting jackboot government-backed IP protections)

TomOfTTB 3 days ago 3 replies      
I think he makes a valid point but then gets lost in emotionalism.

Here's the thing. They don't hate you. The people who work at the companies that support the MPAA absolutely don't hate you. They simply like themselves and like the money they're getting now. If anything they're afraid of you because they think you want to eliminate the way they make a living.

The problem is people on the other side don't agree on what they want. Some want media to be free, some want studios to die and artists and directors to find ways to get paid directly and some just want laws that aren't as draconian as SOPA.

So to the labels and the studios people like Mr. Arment are terrorizing them. Threatening to take their livelihood away while offering no alternative system. That's why not supporting member companies won't work. Because it just reinforces their fears.

What technology companies and people who are passionate about technology really need to do is suggest an alternate solution. The world works in opposites. Republican/Democrat, Liberal/Conservative, and so on. The only way to deal with the labels is to create another side and coalesce around a common ideology. One that still allows the system that currently creates media to work but which allows people control over their media.

Because the one thing Mr. Arment is absolutely right about is this: You haven't won anything as of now. In fact, what you have done is sent a clear message that laws like SOPA need to be done under the radar from now on and that's a step backwards not forwards.

Anechoic 3 days ago 2 replies      
it would be more productive to significantly reduce or eliminate our support of the MPAA member companies starting today

The problem is that any reduction in income to the studios would be spun as "fallout from pirates stealing our IP."

Attacking campaign finance is the way to go.

edit: spelling

jjguy 3 days ago 0 replies      
Technology's favorite lawyer, Lawrence Lessig, has a new book out advocating for campaign finance reform. Like most things from Lessig, his arguments are well-considered, balanced and thought-provoking.

He includes a quote I found particularly compelling, especially in the light of Marco's link between 'the next SOPA' and campaign finance reform: For every one striking at the leaves of evil, there is one striking at the root. - Thoreau. Marco wants us to strike the root.

Book: http://www.amazon.com/Republic-Lost-Money-Corrupts-Congress/...

NYTimes review: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/12/15/books/republic-lost-campai...

jiggy2011 3 days ago 4 replies      
I don't quite understand.

Are people suggesting that congress considers legislation primarily based on campaign contributions and that this is the same for both main parties?

So they will only go against legislation proposed by lobbyists if they feel the votes they would lose would outweigh the benefit of those contributions to their next campaign?

If that is the case then I'm sorry to say but your entire government system is not fit for purpose.

If that is not the case then you should be able to beat these bills with good reasoning and debate alone.

bambax 3 days ago 1 reply      
> we're not addressing the real problem: the MPAA's buying power in Congress. This is a campaign finance problem.

This is delusional at best. I'm from France, where campaigns are paid for by public money.

France: the country that brought you Hadopi and where SOPA-like laws have been in place for a long time.

This has nothing to do with campaign finance.

jacoblyles 3 days ago 0 replies      
The focus on campaign finance reform is wrong-headed and risks fracturing the internet freedom coalition.

America has a strong tradition of individual rights and liberties, stronger than anywhere else in the world. This is especially true regarding the rights of free speech and the free distribution of information. It is possible to build on these principles to create a platform that appeals to a large swathe of the American electorate, an “Electronic Bill of Rights”.

We cannot taint this with other pet causes on the right or left. I am looking for allies right now to help push for pro-freedom legislation that will push the middle in our direction. I've explicitly written off working with freedom advocates that are too heavily invested in other high-profile political stances with a partisan lean.

For this to succeed, we need to reach both the Tea Party and the OWS crowd while not alienating anybody. The good news is that the mainstream is with us. President Obama and all four contenders for the Republican Presidential nomination oppose SOPA. Let's take this momentum and use it to erect lasting bulwarks to protect internet liberty.

Let's pass something that we can all agree on. Let's not get bogged down arguing with each other over campaign reform, or other peripheral issues.

DanielBMarkham 3 days ago 1 reply      
We can attack this by aggressively supporting campaign finance reform to reduce the role of big money in U.S. policy

Blaming money for problems in politics is just like focusing on money when running a business -- you're looking in the wrong spot.

Money is a result of something, not a cause. There's a lot of money in politics as a result of concentrating so much political power in one place. Just like in a business where the money represents value exchanged, in politics the money represents influece -- big, powerful people in groups that want to be heard. Starting off another holy crusade along the lines of prohibition simply because you've managed to distill your problems into one word isn't going to help anything.

RexRollman 3 days ago 3 replies      
Personally, I think we need to make it so that only registered voters can give money to candidates, with a maximum amount set per contributor. That would automatically disallow all direct contributions from corporations and prevent the rich from having more influence than the poor.

(Of course, something like this would probably have to be a constitutional amendment, and I doubt that would ever happen.)

nbashaw 3 days ago 1 reply      
I'm surprised Marco didn't mention the most empirically effective alternative - make our own legislative investments. Where is the tech industry lobbying firm? Are the industry leaders like Apple, Amazon, Google, and Facebook pumping money into it?

Obviously this is a short term solution that ends up making the root problem - money's influence in politics - worse. But sometimes you have to pick between the lesser of two evils. I'd rather have a good set of laws brought about by an unfair process than a bad set of laws brought on because we sat around complaining about how unfair the system is.

rglover 3 days ago 2 replies      
Perhaps the answer to this is to make it more difficult for politicians to sign off on bills. Require some sort of education on the topic at hand before making a decision. If the bill isn't understood by the representative, they shouldn't be allowed to vote. With the current organization of our government, this will never happen. A point that Marco touched on was that we won't be able to rely on protesting every single bad decision that comes our way; people will lose interest and control will eventually be back in the hands of the government. He's right and we need to really focus on the bigger picture of removing lobbying from congress and ensuring that those representing us actually can.
AdamFernandez 3 days ago 1 reply      
A solution I don't see being discussed much is MPAA and RIAA disruption. This is occurring on some platforms like YouTube, iTunes, and Spotify. If artists no longer need to use them as a middleman, they will cease to have money and power. Startups that disrupt these two, and are more profitable for artists, could wipe out this whole issue.
lux 3 days ago 0 replies      
> But what will happen when the MPAA buys the next SOPA? We can't protest every similar bill with the same force. Eventually, our audiences will tire of calling their senators for whatever we're asking them to protest this time.

Isn't this the crux of the problem with the current democratic systems though? If you never communicate with your political representatives, how do they know what you as a voter want? Part of what makes a democracy work is that connection between voters and politicians, but it has to come from us. If enough of us vocalize our concerns, they'll be heard. Politicians want to keep their jobs, and they need votes to do so.

Sure it's not perfect (nothing is), and lobbyists easily manipulate the system on behalf of groups like the MPAA, but it's a basic thing that few people actually do to uphold their part of the bargain. That's why the system can continually be eroded with the assurance that even though SOPA/PIPA failed this time, some mutated version will slip by eventually.

jobeirne 3 days ago 0 replies      
There will always exist groups of people who want to abrogate the rights of the average person for the benefit of a select class. What makes people think this struggle is unique to the MPAA or the RIAA or even media on the internet?

It's time to think about how we can restructure our government to avoid this class of problems, not just the next SOPA. In the words of Eric S. Raymond,

"For freedom to flourish, the Internet must be kept free of government control. The Internet needs to be kept free of corporate control, too. But, as we have seen with the DMCA, corporations that want to control the net have to do so by buying bad laws from the government " they can't jail or kill you themselves. Thus, the most important front in the battle is still heading off bad laws and regulations."

aptimpropriety 3 days ago 1 reply      
"It's not a waiting game, it's a game of poker. Lamar Smith has a royal flush and few people know it.

SOPA may pass. It may not. He doesn't care, and it doesn't matter. The MPAA and RIAA started working on their legislative strategy to pass a new anti-piracy bill in late 2010. SOPA was designed to raise the noise. Everyone is playing right into the entertainment industries hand. The lobbyists are laughing manically at the ignorance of the mob. Even Wikipedia and reddit have played into it."


vectorpush 3 days ago 0 replies      
I think campaign finance reform is a good thing in theory, but in practice I feel confident that big money would still find its way into the pockets of our lawmakers with relative ease. In the end, no amount of money can save an elected official if their constituents are determined to see that official ousted. We can't legislate our way out of corruption, the price of freedom is eternal vigilance.
bh42222 3 days ago 0 replies      
A LOT of people have fought very hard for campaign finance reform over the past 20 years I can remember. The result is more money in politics than ever.

Supporting campaign finance reform will do nothing. We tried that over decades, the supreme court shot it down.

You have two options:

1. Constitutional reform.

Make it specifically distinguish campaign finance from free speech. No plain law will ever stand with the constitution as it is today.

2. Greatly increase the number of representatives.

This may be a lot easier as it is just a plain law. At some point we decided too many members of the house would be too chaotic. So we hugely raised the ratio of people to representatives.

This favors the lobbying power of interest groups.

While individuals still have a lot of influence if they write or in person visit their representative, it is universally accepted that the fewer people are in your district the more influence each individual has. And the opposite is also true. This is why, unlike the senate, the house is supposed to be the people's house.

If you dramatically raise the total number of representative you bring power closer to the people.

Will this also result in grid lock? Yes! Is that still totally worth it? YES!

nova 3 days ago 0 replies      
We can argue all we want about whether copyright is good or not, but that is the wrong question. The right question is if (enforced) copyright is compatible with the existence of a free internet.

IMHO, it is not. Current copyright law means restrictions on the copy of data. A free internet means freedom to interchange data.

So either we lose the free net, or we push for a deep reform of IP laws, something like that the law should only restrict for-profit infringement.

paul9290 3 days ago 2 replies      
It's a nice thought, but you have to get your cousin, third cousin, your parents, your grandparents and etc to boycott Hollywood too.

How do you accomplish this when media is engrained in our daily lives & culture?

r00fus 3 days ago 1 reply      
A boycott is only successful if you know who owns what. Short of selling my HDTV (which would be way popular with my family), I don't see how I can avoid MPAA content.
nextparadigms 3 days ago 0 replies      
Here it is, the next SOPA, made by no other than Lamar Smith - PCIP Act (Protecting Children From Internet Pornographers Act), or H.R.1981 - a bill much more dangerous than SOPA 1.0, and very hard to attack because of its name and "intent":



skrebbel 2 days ago 0 replies      
Genuine interest: Marco calls this a 'campaign finance problem', but isn't politicians submitting bills for money usually called 'corruption'? Why aren't the Americans really mad about it?
mlapida 3 days ago 1 reply      
My thoughts exactly. While cutting out watching movies on Netfilx and TV is going to be difficult, I most definitely wont be purchasing any movies on iTunes, at Best Buy or going to a theater to watch them. If the tech community could band together to boycott these three huge money makers for the MPAA, we might see better results.
Iv 2 days ago 0 replies      
We finally have the initiative. These last years we just reacted to bad laws trying to prevent or at least weaken them. Now we have finally a voice.

Let's make this victory a durable one and let's propose a constitutional amendment so that such laws can never ever be brought back again.

joejohnson 3 days ago 1 reply      
This is why we need to find a technological solution that will make future legislation infeasible or impossible. We need a decentralized DNS and total encryption of the internet.
nextparadigms 3 days ago 0 replies      
Another interesting twist (not surprised at all, though). MPAA lied about the number of people being employed by the entertainment industry:


The tech industry employs 10 times as many. I'm glad their lies are finally debunked. We need to debunk their "lost revenue" numbers, too.

marcamillion 3 days ago 0 replies      
Here is the problem with this solution...the sacrifice is too large, from too many people. If I and the entire HN crowd (say 1,500,000 people?) decide not to watch any more movies - while that may depress their earnings a bit...I would think the net effect would be about a 20% reduction in earnings. The vast majority of HNers probably don't buy every single movie they watch.

So, the real solution needs to be one that is incremental and can be adopted more mainstream. I don't know what it is, but I don't see 'stop watching all movies' as a realistic goal.

vijayr 3 days ago 0 replies      
One good thing that did come out of this - I can't remember people protesting so much, in a united way online, against any issue. Last year it was against oppressive regimes, this year it is against stupid bills. People are using the internet to protest, that is a good thing. Right now, it is more quantity than quality - hopefully that'll change too.
dlokshin 3 days ago 0 replies      
You can think about this as a campaign finance problem or as a federal politicians have too much power problem. You don't have campaign finance as a problem if lobbying doesn't do these companies any good.
asdfasdghasdf 3 days ago 0 replies      
"Their bills have had mixed success and usually die before being brought to a vote, but SOPA and PIPA came frighteningly close to becoming law. The internet-wide protest this week seems to have stalled their progress and probably killed them for now."

Frighteningly close! One of them was almost scheduled for debate in the Senate! The other almost had a second round of markup in committee scheduled!

The reaction to SOPA and PIPA was way overblown. Like the article says, this sort of thing happens all the time, and usually fizzles out. While this bill did have more co-sponsors than most, indicating support, it still only made it to the first verse of Schoolhouse Rock.

Somehow it caught on as an Internet meme, though, and got inordinate attention. It was definitely for the best, though.

code_duck 2 days ago 0 replies      
I'm pleased to say I despise Hollywood movies and give these studios no money whatsoever. If only the public developed good sense and taste.
jgeerts 3 days ago 0 replies      
hatefully how they ignore such a huge market potential, renting movies online and streaming them... that would be so great and would generate huge profits. But yet they don't and just expect their customers to go to the store and buy a DVD so we can watch it one time and then leave it in our closets for the rest of our lives? Or they want us to drive 20 mins to a rental store each day?
Stop ignoring the market potential, try to grow, try to change, try to generate more profit. They don't evolve, but their users do and they don't like it.
They are too stupid and old fashioned to see that the way media is spread just changed, all they need is a different approach to their end users.
daintynews 1 day ago 0 replies      
I think it would be good if only registered voters can give campaign money to candidates. If they want to call it donations, then so be it. BUT only registered voters can give donations as well.
mrdingle 3 days ago 0 replies      
The best part about stopping to support companies that support the MPAA and RIAA is that they are going to say they are loosing revenue through piracy and not direct consumer withdrawal.
MarkTraceur 3 days ago 0 replies      
Also, rather than supporting the MPAA/RIAA industry, try checking out the Blender Foundation, Jamendo, and similar sites that stream or support free content that is licensed under Creative Commons licenses.

And of course, since software is as big an issue as creative content, it should be said that the FSF is having a donation drive currently: https://my.fsf.org/associate/support_freedom

peq 2 days ago 0 replies      
The real problem is, that the US has no real democracy. When the government did something similar to SOPA in Germany, the "Piraten Partei" got more votes and the bigger parties rethought their plans because of this.
But small parties do not have a chance in the US system.
antrover 2 days ago 0 replies      
"Eventually, we will lose."

That's such a pessimistic statement. With that attitude, some SOPA-like Bill will pass. As an example, if MLK had that attitude, the whole Civil Rights movement would've failed.

the_paul 3 days ago 0 replies      
A good way to support said finance reform is to follow Lessig's recommendation (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/lawrence-lessig/on-the-signifi...) and help out Buddy Roemer's campaign.
almutasim 3 days ago 0 replies      
There should be a constitutional amendment protecting the Internet and its underlying structure. Maybe not today, maybe it's premature, but one day soon this will seem appropriate and needed. It would put the Judicial branch on our side.
rikurrr 3 days ago 0 replies      
Financial reform? Use bitcoin. Ask your favorite artists to accept bitcoin purchases or donations.
jczhang 3 days ago 0 replies      
You know what Ron Paul would say about this... It's not campaign finance reform that's needed, its decreasing the power of the gov't to have so much power. That's the root cause, not the money.
bytenotes 2 days ago 0 replies      
Terms limits should help significantly. It would consume a great deal of energy and money from special interests to corrupt ever renewing congress.
Waking up at 5am to code mattgreer.org
524 points by city41  23 hours ago   180 comments top 68
nhashem 18 hours ago 8 replies      
A lot of commenters have talked about the pros of this routine, and there are many. Few interruptions, working while your mind is fresh, working within a regimen, etc.

However, if you don't have an equivalent amount of discipline on at night to get enough rest, you will quickly burn yourself out. I did this routine for a lot of the second half of 2011, and since I'm a night owl by nature (going to bed at 12 midnight is 'earlyish' for me), the lack of sleep quickly caught up with me. My project was actually getting some traction though, so I basically spent about four months in a sleep-deprived haze and consuming about 400 mg of caffeine a day just to function.

So I guess what I'm trying to say is, if you're like me and you go to bed at 1AM, wake up at 9AM, and go into work at 10AM (a very common engineer schedule), then it's not just a case of setting of your alarm clock but really adjusting your lifestyle so you're not fundamentally sleep-depriving yourself.

alinajaf 18 hours ago 5 replies      
> Enjoying the work is key

Recently I've discovered that this mindset has been detrimental.

Sometimes hard work is supposed to be hard. If you rely on passion or some sort of intrinsic motivation, then as soon as you come to a task you don't want to do (i.e. the 90% of any project that doesn't involve coding) procrastination sets in. I worked mornings non-stop on my little side project for around 6 months last year and slowed right down as soon as all the 'fun' stuff was over.

Accepting that the work is sometimes going to suck is a) more realistic and b) more empowering. If you get used to short focused bursts of work you don't feel like doing, then there is quite literally nothing you can't achieve if you put your mind to it.

alexwolfe 20 hours ago 6 replies      
I've tried this approach and others. I'm sure for some it can work but ultimately I found you can't cheat time. If you wake up at 5am by 2pm you toast (mentally at least). I've found no real secret to gain extra real hours. The reality is that your mind can only function productively for so long each day. The productivity you feel at 5am is the same you'd feel at 8:00am it just seems more amazing because it's happening at 5.

The bottom line is you have to find what is sustainable in the long run. Regardless of how early or late you wake up the key is coming up with a consistant schedule that maximizes your productivity. Only you can figure out what the schedule is. It's certainly great to try new things and see what ends up working for you. Good luck.

kabdib 22 hours ago 1 reply      
In the last six or seven years I've been up regularly at 5am or so. I can get an hour of work done before the rest of the household wakes up. It's great.

My inspiration was Gene Wolfe, who wrote _The Book of the New Sun_ in the wee hours, and held down a day job as a technical magazine editor. [I'm not claiming my code is anywhere near as great as the wonderful writing that Wolfe did, but the early hours are definitely some of my most creative time]

A few rules I have:

- No email. This just starts the whole stress machine going. I'd rather not have /any/ human contact, and if something's fallen off and broken in the last eight hours, it can wait another two or three.

- No Reddit or other black-hole-of-surfing sites (though I do check HN -- this may change if HN becomes too Reddit-like).

- Coffee is ready to go (set up the prior evening).

bri3d 22 hours ago 1 reply      
Love this - a simple personal anecdote/retrospective rather than a self-promotion or "everyone should do as I say" piece.

You could solve the girlfriend + music issue with a nice set of closed-stage headphones. I love my AKGs. But I'd actually A/B test with and without headphones - without the distraction of office noise, no headphones/music might actually be helping you focus as well. I find that even with a solid, no-thought, tried and true playlist of entirely ambient (or even classical) music, I still find music causing my mind to wander from time to time.

I might have to try to sell the girlfriend on this idea soon.

Kavan 19 hours ago 0 replies      
When starting my business, I was working as a derivatives trader. The job was stimulating but I did not love it. It was not creative enough. Creative in the purest sense of the world. We did not create businesses, rather create profits through buying and selling.

I had to be up before 6am anyway to get in before the markets opened. We could leave shortly after the markets closed though so I did most of my work time in the evenings from 6pm to 10pm, sometimes later. And then on the weekends (probably another 12 to 20 hours).

I think the important points are:

1. Enjoy the work. If you do then you don't feel like it is work, rather a hobby.

2. Make the most of your 'day job' time. I would squeeze in gym whenever things were quiet. I would answer emails on the toilet. I would read the Financial Times and then sneak in Tech Crunch (I was trading TMT so I argued it was important to view trends).

3. Stay disciplined. A lot of the time I would get excited and stay up later. Rolling out of bed at 5:30am to get into work after being up since 1am does not feel great. You can do it once during a week, but twice and you really do become a zombie for the rest of the week until you get the time back.

I did this for two years until I managed to get some funding to take it full time. It was super tough, especially for my girlfriend. But I loved it because I believed we were building a project that would change the world. Whenever I felt down I just watched SJ's Standford speech and it would pick me up.

"Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven't found it yet, keep looking. Don't settle. As with all matters of the heart, you'll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don't settle."

mnazim 20 hours ago 1 reply      
This is a really effective way to get a lot things done. In summer 2009 I used to wake up before sunrise and absolutely loved it. To this day, I still wonder why I did not continue doing it.

My 2 cents:

Make sure you have something good (preferably healthy) to eat readily available when you get up. It should be something that does not require more than 10 min of preparation. Otherwise things tend to get a bit boring.

If you happen to wake before sunrise. Take mini walk in you garden or backyard and catch those 10 - 15 minutes of sunrise. It will absolutely super charge you for rest of the day.

EDIT: Let's admit that we all have a small nest at home specifically for work or related activities. Move this nest out of your bedroom. Keep your laptops, iPads, PCs or any such devices out of your bedroom. Switch off your phones during nights and do not switch them back on until after your morning sessions.

(PS. My uncle is a neurologist and he tells me that for people who work during day and rest during nights, certain hormones are secreted in the mornings that help us in staying fresh and awake. The catch is that they are only secreted if you wake before or around sun rise time.)

tjr 21 hours ago 5 replies      
Could someone please expound upon the term "Kanban board", as used in this article? I am not understanding the connection between Kanban and what the author is describing, though I would like to.
stephencanon 23 hours ago 1 reply      
My wife is a surgeon. I'm up at 5am with her, drive her to work, then sit down and start working myself around 5:30. I find that I'm fantastically productive from then until about 9 or 10am. I take a long lunch break (and go running or xc-skiing depending on how much snow is on the ground); aside from that I don't have any trouble going straight through the afternoon, though my afternoons are less productive (I usually spend them meeting with team members and doing more routine work because of that, which works well because that's when everyone else is around).

In order to make getting up at 5 livable, we're asleep by 10pm. We were both night people once upon a time, but I really don't feel like I miss it.

notJim 4 hours ago 0 replies      
My problem doing this is the weekend. I like to go out to concerts and occasionally bars with friends, which has me out until 1 AM on an early night. Then I sleep in the following day, which destroys the whole schedule, since it's the complete opposite of what I need to do during the week.

Compare my current schedule, which has me going to bed around 2AM most nights"even if I go to bed at 5 AM on Friday, that's only 3 hours off from my usual schedule, so it's much easier to recover by Monday.

tpatke 18 hours ago 0 replies      
I have been on this routine for about 18 months. Waking up early in the morning is not easy or fun, but the alternative is to work in the evening or not at all. I find working in the evening really difficult because after a full day of work and a nice dinner with my wife - I am not really in the mood to "go back to work". Waking up early allows me to put my personal project into a set routine. 2 hours every day - not 2.5 or 3 or an all-nighter. This constraint is great for focusing the mind and making those 2 hours really productive.

There is one downside. I really need to be asleep by 9:30 (I actually wake up at 4:30). This is difficult to do when I meet up with friends. For example, this week I have two meetups planned - both of which will probably cause me to get home past 10:30 which means I am more likely lie in the next morning. ...and I agree with the OP - it is much easier to keep a schedule like this if you do it every day.

duck 13 hours ago 0 replies      
Another option that you should look into is switching to a four day, ten hour each day schedule. Of course your employer has to approve and I've seen a lot of people that can't keep up with the long days, but if 5am schedule works for in the long term you shouldn't have any issues with it.

I've done this for the last four years and it really works well for me. It gives me the option to work on my personnel projects on my off day (Friday for me). It also forces you to wake up early and the morning always seems productive. The best part is you can be flexible with that time, like on some weeks maybe you take a long trip or family/friend time.

97s 23 hours ago 1 reply      
I am a stay at home dad recovering from AML stim cell transplant. I have been trying to find time in my day to work on a personal project that I need to develop for myself and I think has a potential for profit. However with my busy 1 year old son waking up at 8AM(sleeps all night, which I am super thankful for), I can't find the time during the day to focus on a project. I get spurts during his 30-40 minute naps and when he is playing real good by himself, but as I get focused I am quickly pulled away. I have tried to be productive when I put him down at night, but I find I need to spend this time with my wife.

It is looking like I might become a 6AM coder soon. Seeing that my day starts at 8AM.

I had thought about getting up this early, but I just didn't think I could make it through the day with my semi-low energy levels.

However, I am thinking if I get up at 6AM, I can nap when my son naps for 30-40. As I read another post on HN that it actually is great to take these short duration naps.

radagaisus 22 hours ago 1 reply      
Mornings are great. Yesterday I woke up at 4 and saw that Facebook Hacker Cup is on. I finished all the problems before my work day started - how awesome is that to start your day?

One thing I don't understand is how people can focus on a couple of projects simultaneously. This year I've worked a lot with javascript and backbone, and I have a folder with ~4 open source projects I wrote that I'm not going to publish. Why? Because then I'll shift my focus from delivering the product to delivering open source.

It takes me a few hours every Sunday and Friday to get in the mood of 'this project is going to kick ass'.

rodh257 2 hours ago 0 replies      
This sounds great but my question is are you a morning person normally? I'm definitely not, so perhaps I'm doomed to not be able to do this?
dmragone 21 hours ago 5 replies      
I would love to see a simple service that groups people who are willing to commit to getting up at the same time each day in order to hold each other accountable. There doesn't need to be anything significant - maybe it's just a matching service, letting people figure out for themselves how they can "check in" to confirm they are up and working at 6am (or whatever time is chosen). I know that I definitely can commit to something like this (e.g. going to the gym early) if I have at least 1 other person I'm doing it with.
mathattack 14 hours ago 0 replies      
It wounds like the poster has managed two disciplines very well:

- Managing the sleep schedule. (Getting to bed to get up early)

- Managing the work schedule. (Kanban system)

I have no idea what his product is, but it's hard to imagine that he won't be successful over the long term with habits like this.

GigabyteCoin 19 hours ago 3 replies      
I have been doing the exact opposite of this strategy for some time now. Going to bed at 5am. Those 6 hours of coding between 11pm and 5am are some of the quietest you will ever experience in Toronto where I live at least.

If I woke up at 5am, I would bHORNe consHORNtaHORNntly distrubeHORNNNNNNNNd.

djhomeless 12 hours ago 0 replies      
I did something a bit more extreme for over a year - and I have a family to contend with. But I wasn't coding, mainly product dev a(wireframes, specs, etc) and some hacking.

Schedule was:

- Hang w/family from the time I got home until their bedtime, roughly 9:30 PM.

- 2 hours of work, then 30-45 min of useless TV (Family Guy or TAR)

- About 5 hours of sleep

- Another 2 hours of work before hopping on the train

Somehow I kept this up for over a year, though it has to be said that I curtailed the workload to just 2 hours a day (and a bit more sleep) over the weekend to spend more time w/the family.

I think that's the only real guidance here - as long as you can budget adequate time to recharge the batteries, then you can keep this up for the long haul. For me, hanging with the family kept me fresh, kept me sane.

k-mcgrady 21 hours ago 2 replies      
Interesting post. I used to do this myself but eventually found it difficult to get up so early. I've recently been trying out something similar though.

I find it difficult to get to sleep often lying awake for up to 5 hours before falling asleep. As I am a freelancer I then tend to make up for it by sleeping in late (as I don't have a job to go to).

I have recently been following a schedule of sleeping 2 nights and then staying up 1 night. This night without sleep I use for work and it also helps fix my problem of getting to sleep for the next 2 nights. I find that I am extremely productive working through the night and gain in productivity by falling asleep more quickly and getting up earlier the other 2 days.

j45 20 hours ago 0 replies      
This totally works. Why?

You put your best and most creative energy into your own project.

Instead of whatever you have left in the tank after a long day of work and then doing home stuff and then finally settling in.

Getting out of bed isn't a problem when I'm so excited to work on something and I know what exactly I need to do -- I make a list before I go to bed.

Lack of distraction plus a full head of steam and energy is a great combination.

I try to do this as much as possible because it's so rewarding. Breaking the cycle with a late night or the weekend seems to be my main obstacle, I'm thinking of waking early 7 days a week and becoming like my old man, lol.

Will work/job suffer? Our work/job often needs our attention to detail more than our best and most creative effort every day.

samdelagarza 12 hours ago 0 replies      

Thanks for sharing. I did the same for several months, I would call each session a mini iteration. And I kept a kanban board on my moleskine...which is imperative. I had times where other things would take precedence and I would stay away from my project for several days but due to my physical kanban I could easily pick up where i left off.

What I did different is this: at each iteration i would set a goal that I new I could accomplish within the mini-iteration (1-2 hours, sometimes a little more). Then at the end I would check off my accomplishments and would quickly "trim my backlog" and create a list of "NEXT:" for the next time. Then the next time I sat down I would review this list and adjust it as necessary and begin.

I found that have a physical notebook was beneficial because at the first sign of discouragement I could easily look back and see where I was just a few weeks ago or a few months ago. And nothing feels better than marking something complete. My lists are segmented by each iteration by day and have three categories: DONE, TODO, NEXT. it worked great for me.

Though I never delivered my product it was a great talking tool at an interview that led me to a job with a 30% pay increase. And I'm ok with this.

TomGullen 21 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm coding at 6am now, because I've been up all night! I don't enjoy it, but I find it very difficult to want to go to bed at the right time. Working in a startup time doesn't seem to matter so much I guess.
epaga 22 hours ago 1 reply      
Quite the coincidence - I just started doing exactly this a few weeks ago, and am fact am reading this at 5:30am my time (when I should be coding :P). It has worked quite well for me as I work on my app.

I'm a bit more tired in the evenings and go to bed a bit earlier than I used to, but seeing as how I would just waste time in the evenings playing Jetpack Joyride, it's a very good trade to make.

I bought a coffee machine that has coffee waiting for me at 5am, and I also use the Sleep Cycle app which at the very least provides a placebo for making me wake up more alert. ;)

agentultra 12 hours ago 0 replies      
5am sounds a little extreme.

I just arrive at work a half hour before I "should" be there. That's when I do a little code kata or read HN. Then I grab a coffee and it's work time. After work I go to the gym and coming home from that I find I have enough energy to put in another hour or two on my side projects.

However, having kids might change that and make 5am more sensible... you might at least get an hour before they're up and you have to get them ready for school.

5vforest 23 hours ago 4 replies      
This sounds horrible... and like it would ruin my productivity towards the end of my work day.

How about waking up early to exercise?

plasma 22 hours ago 2 replies      
Thanks for this post, I will need to try it.

I agree the few times I've been up early to code (even to catch up on some work) its been good, felt like I got extra hours to the day (well, I guess I did!) even before I officially started.

I think then after 5pm going to the gym or relaxing can be a good choice because I've already done my 2 hours on my side project.

It does get exhausting doing extra work after 5pm (after you've taken a break, eaten, done other things etc) so I like the idea of doing it early.

I may wake up even earlier to get to gym in the morning, as I liked that too.

I definitely waste several hours at night just messing around, avoiding going to sleep, which would be better spent being asleep so I can get up early.

veyron 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Are you in california? If so, you should keep in mind that 5 AM is like 8 AM in NYC (i.e. lots of people awake)
dguaraglia 23 hours ago 0 replies      
I used to do this a while ago, while working from home. I woke up at 6am and had my breakfast right next to the computer, then would only do the 'morning routine' (shower, walking the dog, etc.) after my wife had woken up and gone to work.

It was incredibly productive. As the author say the cost of those two hours keep you focused (you know you are making that extra effort, so distraction isn't an option.)

devs1010 22 hours ago 1 reply      
I've thought about doing something like this but I've realized I just can't until I figure out a better commuting situation, either having a very short commute or using public transportation. Sitting in traffic for almost an hour on the way to work is rather draining to where if I'm going to do that I can't seem to bring myself to get up any earlier than I have to as I'd rather use the time spent driving to wake up so its not completely wasted
wallunit 15 hours ago 3 replies      
Why is waking up two hours earlier in order to do stuff like coding on personal projects so much better than staying up for two more hours at night?

It won't make the day longer. Each hour you wake up earlier you will also probably go to sleep earlier. Of course you could also sleep less, but also in that case IMHO it doesn't make a large difference whether you add those extra hours to your night or to your morning.

Some might argue, that morning hours are more productive. But for me that is only true if I have slept well and long enough and it also implies that whatever you do in the evening will suffer by starting your day earlier.

awolf 22 hours ago 1 reply      
Another advantage: the first two hours of exerting your programming mojo each day are likely to be the most potent. Applying this potency to your own products and initiatives is a beautiful thing.
mgrouchy 14 hours ago 0 replies      
I do the wake up at 5am routine, but I use it to go to the gym. I think a healthy body helps you maintain a healthy mind. (keep in mind this "healthy body" is very much a work in progress, like many of my coding side projects)
nagnatron 22 hours ago 0 replies      
Interesting that this is posted today as I woke up 45m ago and decided to code on a side project. It's not voluntary but because I've got some time difference issues.

Everything about the benefits is true, and since I'm not forcing myself to do it, I have almost none of the side-effects. The biggest problem with it is that it's incompatible dancing in clubs.

Frostbeard 22 hours ago 1 reply      
I wish it were possible for me to do something like this during the week, but it isn't. I wake up at 05:30 as it is, and I'm out the door and heading to work by 06:30 (that's an hour to SSS, prepare and consume breakfast, take out the trash, scrape the windshield, and whatever else might need doing). I don't get home until after 17:30. I'm typically occupied being a loving and attentive father up until 20:00 or so. Assuming I want to get 8 hours of sleep, that means I'm left with one and a half hours to split between personal projects and my wife during the week.

On the other hand, I do get up just as early on the weekends, and it's probably my most productive time of the entire week, up until my kids get up.

robdoherty2 23 hours ago 0 replies      
I did this for several months while I was taking the Stanford AI class. I got up at 6, did coursework for two hours or so, and went to work by 9.

I found it to be highly beneficial for several reasons (some of which were mentioned in the blog post):
-since I am usually exhausted by the end of the day, I found the early time to be really conducive to clear thinking
-early part of the day is so quiet-- no interruptions
-I felt like I accomplished quite a bit even before arriving at work, so I somehow felt more productive even though I should have been more tired

I intentionally did not keep up the early time on the weekends and slept in-- btw, 8am felt like sleeping in :)

Since the class finished, I kept up the habit and wake up early to code or read.

I admit it isn't for everyone, but it is worth a try for anyone who wants to code after work but feels too tired or easily distracted.

falcolas 21 hours ago 0 replies      
This seems highly related to a recent poll - how many hours of sleep do you need a night?

For example, if I tried this, I would have to go to bed at around 7:30pm at night. For a number of reasons (including eating dinner at 6pm), this is completely infeasible. A shame too, since a few hours of uninterrupted time would be great.

alanmeaney 10 hours ago 0 replies      
We're currently doing our football pre season training and for the first time this year there it involves a Thursday morning session from 6.00-7.00am (we normally train 8.00-9.15p.m.).

This hasn't been as unpleasant as I thought it would be and I've noticed that the morning session ‘feels' like it is evening time. Several of my team mates have made the same comment.

I'm guessing this is due to an association in the brain (several years reinforcement) between the activity (football training) and the time of day.

senith 19 hours ago 0 replies      
Mary Kay in her book called this the 5 am club! She said the 2-3 hours she got before the rest of her family were up was so productive that it was "almost as if she had 24 hours a day extra to work with" Paraphrasing here but she said he enabled her to manage her traditional roles of being a husband & mother in addition to a full time & demanding business role.
messel 13 hours ago 0 replies      
I wake up at 4:30 to read for a bit and some days squeeze in 30-40min of development work. After getting ready I head out for walking between 6:30-9am (depending on the day) then head to work. This gives me room to do a little project work in the evenings.

Glad to see more early risers!

wensing 20 hours ago 0 replies      
I woke up at 4:55am for a year while working on Stormpulse. Specifically, 2007, when my first child as 3. I was so excited that I never had a problem launching out of bed and walking down the hall to work by 5:00.
zeroboy 19 hours ago 0 replies      
I did something like this writing my first book Zero to Superhero: http://zerotosuperhero.com

I'd wake up a 3 am every morning (except Sunday) and write until about 6 am, which is when I got ready for my 7 am shift.

I agree with the author that being super-motivated was key and I had already invested several years research and writing the book. I was becoming worried the book would never get done.

I was also able to avoid cognitive burnout because my day job was at a metal foundry and consisted of mostly repetitive work.

One drawback was I was completely zonked by late afternoon, and had no social life, but I still tried to eek out something for the book before bed (which was sometime between 8-9 pm if I remember correctly).

Afterthought: I can't wake up so early now. Lack of sleep gives me a short temper. Something to consider.

liljimmytables 18 hours ago 0 replies      
I did something similar for a while but other concerns pushed my routine out of the window, and for the sake of my sanity I shouldn't have kept on with it as long as I did. If I could recommend one thing to anyone thinking of doing an early-morning stint, it would be to keep an escape route clear. Don't commit to more than a week's work at once (you shouldn't be doing this anyway) and make sure that you can unconditionally drop the project at short notice if something comes up. Otherwise you will find that your work strategy is very fragile and very explosive.

That said, the particular issues I faced were external to my early-morning work strategy, and on a level playing field it is a wonderful way to do some of your best work.

derekja 23 hours ago 1 reply      
was a post a day or two ago about creativity being highest in the early AM as well. I do this in spurts but can't maintain it for long stretches...
donnfelker 23 hours ago 0 replies      
This isbexactly how i lauched two products with a family with 2 kids
5 am kicks ass. That remibds me... i need to go to bed.:)
jakejake 22 hours ago 0 replies      
I code at 5am too... when I've been kicking ass and rocking in the zone all night! Going to bed at 9pm every day? No thanks!
jyap 18 hours ago 0 replies      
He mentions he gets between 7-8 hours of sleep. So he is going to bed around 9pm to 10pm... Yeah, not really feasible for a lot of people because it would mean family avoidance.

I usually work from 11pm to 1am on personal projects.

andreiursan 18 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm almost in the same boat with the guy that wrote the article.
Like him I also read 1year ago, on hn, about a guy who started to code on his projects starting with 5 a.m. because in the evenings he spent time with his fiance.

After I read it I tried it for a while, and it worked, I had to stop because then I was also a student and I was also working full time + I also had allocated gf time.

I will try it again, I hope I can get more things done in this way.

P.S. Thank you for/for posting the article!

ochekurishvili 13 hours ago 0 replies      
With 7+ months of experience being an Early Bird I will definitely recommend it.

For me 1-2 hours of a fresh-brained morning work is much more productive than working whole night. I usually sleep between 11:30 and 06:30.

In general it depends on personality, some enjoy working at night and vice-versa.

JoshMock 11 hours ago 0 replies      
This is a great idea. I, too, often end up coding if I'm not tired when my wife is going to bed, but it often ends up being a marathon until 1:30 or 2 in the morning. Restraining myself to 2 hours a day, but doing it every day, seems like a good discipline.
eipi 11 hours ago 0 replies      
This is essentially what I have been doing for the last 6 months and it works great for me. But it only works great because 1) I go to bed at 9 pm - I am literally falling asleep with 5 minutes. 2) Coffee is only allowed before 9am.
jayonsoftware 17 hours ago 0 replies      
I wake up at 4.30 AM but code between 7 AM and 11 AM. So what do i do between 4.30 AM and 7 AM. I meditate, do a goal review and do my blog / book writing work.

I wrote about this on my blog "Daily Routine of a 4 Hour Programmer" http://www.jayonsoftware.com/home/2012/1/9/daily-routine-of-... if any one is interested.

firichapo 10 hours ago 0 replies      
I am going to start doing this. Right now after 8 hrs of work, dinner and working out I am dead. I push myself for a couple of hours to work on personal projects but I am far from 100% by this time of the day.
jseban 17 hours ago 0 replies      
One thing that he fails to mention is that this only works if you live with a partner, as he does, since you're guaranteed some company throughout the day.

Otherwise it's going to be pretty damn lonely, since you'll be in bed by 10 pm when most socializing starts.

You can't go to the movies, go to a bar, go dancing, go on a date, or even watch a grown ups movie on tv.

doc4t 15 hours ago 0 replies      
For those of you, who as me, never encountered the "Kanban" method before here is a comparison with SCRUM


skrish 22 hours ago 0 replies      
I have been slacking for quite some time; want to do it but have been postponing it.

I guess its high time to just make a start. Thank you for the blog.

freeformz 9 hours ago 0 replies      
At one point in my life I decided to start my day at 2:00 AM. It was an awesome schedule for getting shit done.
altxwally 20 hours ago 0 replies      
This idea has also stuck in my head since sometime ago (I think it was a comment by @jrockway who said that he got up really early because at that time there is nothing else to do but work), though I do not do it everyday, only occasionally when I want to finish something... I will follow the site for updates! :)
iconfinder 16 hours ago 0 replies      
I guess the biggest problem is that you're pretty tired at the end of the day at your normal work.
potomak 18 hours ago 0 replies      
It remembers me of Jolie O'Dell's post about her "secrets to productivity"[1]

[1] http://blog.jolieodell.com/2011/11/03/my-secrets-to-producti...

aelaguiz 16 hours ago 0 replies      
I've been doing this for a long time, it's the only way I can stay sane. I get several hours to myself with no interruptions and I can work on personal projects and be totally unaccountable to anyone.
erkin_unlu 16 hours ago 0 replies      
your girlfriend slashed because you want to work all night for the project, you didnt she? :) anyway, it is a great idea, i am thinking about doing the same too ; )
rumcajz 22 hours ago 2 replies      
I am doing this right now. The point, I believe is, that you spend the most productive part of the day working for yourself rather than for your employer. Still, I believe in certain jurisdictions your employer owns your work even if done in your free time.
da5e 23 hours ago 0 replies      
Sounds like a great habit. There are some studies that indicate problem solving ability is highest when you're "groggy" so maybe skip the coffee. Many authors have developed the same habit during their early days when they had a day job. Mark Cuban said, "You're only at your best once a day."
guitate 22 hours ago 0 replies      
I need a habit like this, maybe I can be more productive on morning than nights (who knows), also some days can go to do exercise, yeah, everything sounds great but the getting up is so painful.
epikur 23 hours ago 1 reply      
You should buy some nice headphones, if you only have speakers right now.
kruhft 12 hours ago 0 replies      
Funny enough, that's exactly what I did this morning.
seigel 22 hours ago 1 reply      
What online kanban system do you use?
MPAA Publicly Threatens to Stop Writing Checks techdirt.com
508 points by nextparadigms  2 days ago   101 comments top 27
redthrowaway 2 days ago 4 replies      
The minute they stop writing checks is the minute they stop having power. They may back republicans, but I doubt it.

So Hollywood's finally figuring out their representatives can't be trusted to act in their interests? Shame, that. Must be tough. They have my sympathy. No, really, I mean it. Can't imagine what they're going through.

ivankirigin 2 days ago 4 replies      
Lobbying is legal. Donating to campaigns of politicians you like is legal. I'm not sure why people are surprised.

The answer isn't to kick these specific bums out. It is to change campaign finance laws to make contributions illegal. I'm not sure what people here would agree to that doesn't amount to censorship though. Should the MPAA be disallowed to make a political commercial and pay for its broadcast?

Bud 2 days ago 2 replies      
Extraordinarily blatant. I'm amazed that 30 years (thirty years!) in the Senate didn't teach Dodd to be more subtle in the uses of power than this. I mean, this guy ran for President. This is the best you can do, Dodd?

My cat would be a better lobbyist.

mmaunder 2 days ago 3 replies      
Perhaps those of use who truly care about intellectual freedom should be writing checks too. I have no problem buying politicians for the right reasons. It appears to be the way business is done in the United States. Anyone interested in starting a lobbying organization that supports real patent reform and a free Internet?
cjoh 2 days ago 3 replies      
The minute Barack Obama does something I really don't like, the minute I stop donating to his campaign.

There, I said it!

That statement is neither proof that I am a corrupt insider, nor is it sufficient evidence that I have control over Barack Obama.

Eeko 2 days ago 2 replies      

"Bribery, a form of corruption, is an act implying money or gift given that alters the behavior of the recipient. Bribery constitutes a crime and is defined by Black's Law Dictionary as the offering, giving, receiving, or soliciting of any item of value to influence the actions of an official or other person in charge of a public or legal duty."


Nrsolis 2 days ago 1 reply      
Honestly, I would LOVE to see the MPAA and RIAA stop writing checks to politicians.

Many folks think that there is already way too much money in politics, particularly to those politicians who are incumbent. Consequently, if the MPAA/RIAA stop buying our politicians out from under us, maybe we'll get them to pay attention to us again.

That's really where the MPAA should be spending its money anyhow: convincing individual voters that piracy is hurting their business and what the effects will be. Honestly, I do think we need some modifications to the copyright regime in this country (US). I just want the MPAA/RIAA to stop bypassing the voters and appealing to the folks we elected to represent our interests.

If the MPAA/RIAA stop funding elections, that means victory for the rest of us.

abraxasz 2 days ago 2 replies      
First, I'd like to say that what follows is in no way an attempt to justify what Dodd said, or find excuses for him. I believe what he said was chocking.

However, it does raise questions about lobbies in general. I'm not american, so when I arrived here, I was surprised by how widespread the phenomenon was, and I've been trying to understand the reasons behind it. From what I read, lobbies basically give money to politicians for their campaigns is that right?

My first question is: why do they need that money? I mean, where I'm from (France), politicians don't spend a tenth of what their american counterparts spend for there campaign. So how did the US arrive to a point where so much money is needed to win an election?

My only guess is that they noticed that the probability of being elected was proportional to their media visibility. Meaning that some people vote for the guy they see the most on tv. And when I say "some people", I mean a lot of people. So my second question is: "Is our voting behavior not responsible for the phenomenon of lobbying"?

Again, this is an external point of view. Please do tell me if I'm missing something.

Edit: grammar

SeanDav 2 days ago 1 reply      
Wow, the only time this guy takes his foot out of his mouth, is to shoot himself in said foot.

Actually let us hope he makes a few more comments like this one so that even more people can see what the MPAA are really about.

Aloisius 2 days ago 0 replies      
Money in politics is a huge problem. I'm not one to actively campaign, but I do recommend people check out Larry Lessig's Rootstrikers - http://rootstrikers.org/.

There are some local rootstriker groups starting up in SF and what not trying to come up with a sane solution.

rbanffy 2 days ago 3 replies      
I am absolutely shocked by the thick layer of spin that goes around a couple seconds of actual edited footage:


Shenglong 2 days ago 1 reply      
It's actually really sad, that it took a a joint effort on some of the web's largest companies to shove it in the faces of ordinary people, what could happen if such destructive legislation would pass.

It goes to show how apathetic the general population is, how representative democracy really hinges on funding from corrupt corporations, and how the entire government structure of the United States needs reworking. It might be the people who vote, but right now, every politician knows that money buys more votes (campaigning, etc) than doing the right thing.

beedogs 2 days ago 1 reply      
I am ashamed Chris Dodd was once my senator. :(
MrJagil 2 days ago 1 reply      
Does anyone have a link to the actual video?
CharlieA 2 days ago 2 replies      
I don't understand how he (or anyone) can get away with saying things like this--it's practically a straight up admission that they're buying votes.

How is this not corruption?

RealGeek 2 days ago 1 reply      
Does anyone from MPAA ever read what Internet industry, bloggers or customers have to say? Do they read any articles like these or it is just falling on deaf ears?
funkah 2 days ago 0 replies      
I tend to think they will get what they want, eventually. Congress is bought and paid for, and if they keep trying to pass bills like SOPA, issue fatigue will set in at some point among common folks. Blacking out Wikipedia can only work so many times.
mathattack 2 days ago 0 replies      
And this is the same Dodd who supposedly reformed WallSteet
fleitz 2 days ago 0 replies      
This sounds like influence peddling I think a prosecutor needs to look into this.
twelvechairs 2 days ago 1 reply      
Is it wrong that he is saying this on the record? I dont agree with the lobbying system either, but dont shoot someone just for being transparent about the way the system works.
kidmenot 2 days ago 0 replies      
Someone finally took the time to say publicly how things work... what's all the fuss about?
middayc 2 days ago 1 reply      
When writing checks with ROI expectations to politicians happens in (for example) eastern europe it's called corruption and hopefully penalized (and I agree with it). when it happens in "developed" democracies it's called "that's how the gov. works"?
yuhong 2 days ago 0 replies      
I hope Google finally starts writing bigger checks in response.
shampoo 2 days ago 0 replies      
Rather then purchase content from Hollywood, where else could one place their entertainment dollars to help squeeze Hollywood ? Games ?
daniel-cussen 2 days ago 0 replies      
SV will have to multitask. Kick ass and lobby at the same time.
shareme 2 days ago 0 replies      
Yeah, and there is no drugs in any Hollywood studios, right?
gavanwoolery 2 days ago 1 reply      
"Corrupt Politician" is an oxymoron.
A Word to the Resourceful paulgraham.com
449 points by anateus  4 days ago   167 comments top 60
nostrademons 4 days ago  replies      
Applies to employees as well. One of the better things about Google is that with most engineers, you can raise some concern or some alternative way of doing things, and they'll just get it, understand all the implications, and be able to implement it with no further direction. (The ones that can't are pretty infuriating to work with, because it takes you longer to hand-hold than it would to just do it yourself.) I had an intern last fall where I could just give him the name of a product or technology to look into, or a contact e-mail for the team in charge, and he'd go look into it and come up with a working implementation. He's just been given an offer, so with any luck he'll be a coworker next year.

The thing is - I'm not certain this is entirely a property of the person involved. Yes, there are certain skills that make it easier to find information on your own. But this is also a function of the problem domain and how well you know it. If you give me a credit card and a problem statement, chances are that I can come up with a working webapp that solves the problem. But if you give me the name of a VC and tell me to go raise money - where do I start? How do I approach him? What will burn bridges and what won't?

So my question to PG and any other resourceful folks out there is: how do you approach a problem domain in which you know nothing, and manage to gain enough of a map of the territory so that you listen to someone's one-word suggestions and instantly grasp the implications?

jonnathanson 4 days ago 6 replies      
A very good mentor of mine once put it succinctly: when thinking about a problem, he said, "don't start with the barriers." Don't frame the thought process as "Here are all the reasons why not; now I need to figure out why." Instead, start from a place of "Absent all barriers or obstacles, here's what I would like to accomplish." There will be plenty of time to address obstacles, but it's best to be energized by them when you get there. If not, you'll see every obstacle as a crushing defeat.

If this sounds new-agey, well, perhaps it is. It's a mindset thing. But mindsets can be extremely critical. There's a huge difference between someone who sets out to succeed and prepares for failure, and someone who sets out to avoid failure and hopes for success. The former will exhaust every option to circumvent the obstacles; the latter will almost look at the obstacles as vindication of a deep-seated suspicion that he's wrong.

tpatke 4 days ago 2 replies      
While I think that PG is probably right in his observation, it is not actually very helpful. It is kind of like when he said, "When we haven't heard from, or about, a startup for a couple months, that's a bad sign. If we send them an email asking what's up, and they don't reply, that's a really bad sign." [1] Well... ok. But is that cause or effect? I doubt business was booming and they just decided to stop responding to email.

If you have a startup that is growing I am sure it is easier to take advice and get funding. ...all sorts of things. If the business is not doing as well I can see where it is more difficult to see the correct action.

[1] http://www.paulgraham.com/die.html

konaaceo 4 days ago 1 reply      
@pg Coming from an outsider looking in, I wonder how much of the issues is with you and other YC mentors. I know you have an incredible amount of knowledge but how you impress that information on people is very crucial. I wonder if the process of sharing your knowledge with people needs some refining.

Watching you do office hours and other interactions, you often make the situation uncomfortable to people who are already unsure of whats next. When you ask them a question, you cut them off as they are trying to explain what they see, only to try and answer the question for them. This has been feedback from many who have experienced the YC process.

There are people like me who have built a company and held true to our vision. We make money and we know how to run our business. We have applied to incubators not to have someone tell us what to do, rather to get advice from people who have experience similar challenges and the apply them to our structure. Granted there are groups coming through YC that don't have that experience and those people need some direction. But for both sets of groups, they want you to actually listen to them. When you bring them in for their hour each week, listen to them. The wall is not that they cannot communicate or motivated to take down leads. They are put out because every time they try to communicate they feel the door is slammed in their face as if their thought or idea doesn't matter.

In a recent blog post I wrote "When people feel comfortable, essential and free to be individually themselves, a person can become a solar flare of focused energy that fuels the world we call business." So make them feel like they are not only essential to their company but that you actually care enough to listen and hear them. People going on rants are an altogether different issue, but sometimes people need to just talk out loud to work their head around an idea. As a matter of fact, you are one of those people! But you have to give people the sense that their voice is relevant in the direction they are taking and not driven. Give people time to understand why your suggestions should be heavily considered, so they can figure it out for themselves.

Again, this is from the outside but maybe it is a place to start.

jseliger 4 days ago 3 replies      

My feeling with the bad groups is that coming into office hours, they've already decided what they're going to do and everything I say is being put through an internal process in their heads, which either desperately tries to munge what I've said into something that conforms with their decision or just outright dismisses it and creates a rationalization for doing so. They may not even be conscious of this process but that's what I think is happening when you say something to bad groups and they have that glazed over look. I don't think it's confusion or lack of understanding per se, it's this internal process at work.

is precisely what happens with students, too. A few weeks ago a former student wrote to me about career choices and whether she should major in biochem or English, because she'd struggled in biochem classes. My girlfriend was a biochem major, so together we wrote a thorough response that turned into an essay called "How to think about science, becoming a scientist, and life" that should go up soon. After spending a couple hours on the response, we sent it, and I got back an e-mail from the student saying. . . she's going to go to law school and "become a judge."

So all of the considered reasoning and description and discussion was merely "put through an internal process in" her head. Experiences like this teach me why a) a lot of professors aren't eager to interact with students and often distance themselves from students and b) why writing "How to get your professors' attention, along with coaching and mentoring" was useful, if only for the relative handful of students who get it: http://jseliger.com/2010/10/02/how-to-get-your-professors%E2... .

dotBen 4 days ago 0 replies      
Honestly I think this same observation is true of engineers (good ones you can give them the direction and they'll go work out how to solve whatever problem they're having, the bad ones will look at you blankly and you end up doing the work yourself).

And then, as someone who has been a founder, an engineer and a corporate worker in enterprise during my career to date, I realized that this is also true of people in big companies.

I guess in startup world the stakes are greater (your company will fail vs you won't get promoted or make bonus) but this is no different to middle managers who reach a glass ceiling.

The bottom line is this: if you identify with the negative character trait PG identifies, you need to snap out of it anyway regardless of whether you're being bold and doing a startup or whether you want to play it safe and take a corporate job.

raganwald 4 days ago 2 replies      
Reminds me of an anecdote about Tim Cook:

  In a meeting convened to tackle a problem in China,
he had said: "This is really bad someone should be in
China driving this." Thirty-minutes in the meeting he
chided Sabih Khan, the then operations executive,
saying "Why are you still here?". Khan responded by
immediately booking a ticket to China, sans a change
of clothes.


mhartl 4 days ago 1 reply      
While it's tempting to treat "resourcefulness" as a trait intrinsic to founders, in my experience it can be a sharp function of the founder/startup fit. When I did YC, I didn't feel resourceful at all, but that's because I was working on the wrong problems. (Don't ask; it was painful.) As soon as I switched to education and technical publishing (the Ruby on Rails Tutorial, started after YC), I was suddenly resourceful as all get-out"and I started to feel unstoppable. I suspect that if I ever do YC again, the resourcefulness transformation will appear miraculous, not because of any change in my intrinsic resourcefulness, but because the new startup will be a much better fit for my interests and abilities.

One could argue that truly resourceful founders will iterate until they find a good fit. That's probably true"and it's exactly what I did. It's just that sometimes the penultimate "iteration" involves shutting the old thing down and starting something new. Chalk it up to my Artix Phase (http://www.paulgraham.com/bronze.html).

aswell 4 days ago 7 replies      
I think a huge portion of the blame of this is on the YC partners.

I'm extremely comfortable debating and discussing ideas in an extremely logical and thoughtful way. My favorite question every day to myself is "If I was starting over today what would I do". And Joe Kraus's "Face reality".

I found it impossible to do that during my YC interview though. From minute one it was a series of arrogant and condescending statements after another. Their ideas were nuggets of golden insight and my (far more educated in many instances) responses were dismissed out of hand.

I've had countless discussions of the same type with many other smart people (successful founders, investors, regular smart people) before and since. Some who raised far more difficult questions. I have reason to suspect the biggest problem was the YC partners and not some problem I have being flexible or thoughtful.

I think the essay as well as this quote are very revealing:

With the good groups, you can tell that everything you say is being looked at with fresh eyes and even if it's dismissed, it's because of some logical reason e.g. "we already tried that" or "from speaking to our users that isn't what they'd like," etc. Those groups never have that glazed over look.

I think you're mistaking some founders ability to placate you with thoughtfulness in many, but certainly not all, cases.

One person who publicly talked about this phenomenon (in a joking way) was one of the founders of Heroku. He said that pg said "You're an Oracle killer" so he "smiled and nodded because I wanted to get in" (paraphrasing).

I think that's very indicative of the way many founders probably feel when talking to the YC partners. The ones who disregard that idea are likely marked as "difficult to talk to."

I think there's a very real danger you guys aren't hearing stuff like this because who in their right mind would tell you and who would you listen to? You would probably just say they're difficult to talk to.

The problem with being so damn smart (which all the YC partners truly are) is that you can start to think that any problem you run into (like founders who seem hard to talk to) you're assumption is that it's their fault instead of your own.

I do think there's some unbiased truth to the essay and maybe the founders who are good at placating will make better founders. But you have to consider: would Bill Gates or Steve Jobs really have smiled and nodded or would they have said "What the hell are you talking about, that's stupid." (We know what Jobs would have done anyway.)

I'm still a really big fan of YC and all the YC partners, but I do think you might have let some arrogance creep in to your process. You guys are doing alright though, so feel free to ignore little ol' me.

zach 4 days ago 1 reply      
The note at the end is priceless.

I think there is something in operating under a fearful authority that spoils people in this way " that causes them to make excuses, obfuscate, counterattack, pass the buck or shut down when confronted by a sound argument against their way of thinking.

Once someone has succumbed to the politics within a large organization, they have likely internalized these patterns of dealing with objections.

jcromartie 4 days ago 3 replies      
It bothers me to hear this, because I know that I tend to fall on the "hard to talk to" side. I used to be really bad at this kind of resourcefulness, and I would have a hard time "chasing down" those various implications. I like to think that I'm better now.

I think that, as with many areas, deliberate practice has helped.

ChuckMcM 4 days ago 0 replies      
So here is a reference, 'Confronting Reality' by Bossidy and Charan [1] it's worth a read. (Their book on execution is better but they are both worth reading)

The core thesis is exactly what Paul writes about, successful enterprises are successful at confronting a reality which does not agree with their world view, or their desired world view. Fundamentally, if there is a problem, or more importantly a problem in a place where you won't look, it needs to be dealt with. If you don't deal with it sooner, then you will be forced to deal with it when it does so much damage that you cannot deny it any more.

People who can confront those issues fix them when they are small and thus don't waste any time on excess damage control.

[1] http://www.amazon.com/Confronting-Reality-Doing-Matters-Thin...

sawyer 4 days ago 0 replies      
This effect goes both ways; resourceful people should be wary of people who are hard to listen to. I feel like when I'm speaking to someone on the same wavelength about a specific topic it's quite easy to take shortcuts through a lot of the conversation with a simple nod and a word.

The opposite type of conversation feels like you're walking through a swamp with no end. You know exactly where they're going with their point many sentences before they reach it, however they continue to drag out the thought.

tnuc 4 days ago 0 replies      
At a company I used to work at they used to put the new engineers through kindergarten. They had a few tasks that needed doing and the way to get these tasks done needed a little bit of resourcefulness.

One of the tasks was to get a set of data from a very old computer (PDP-11) into excel. Of course there were lots of problems with doing this and of course most things were broken.

I was working at some crappy desk hidden near the PDP-11. The easiest solution I would tell everyone was to type the numbers into a laptop, it would take them about 2 hours.

The difference in the way people would listen to what I would tell them was as different as their responses. Most people would try something for about an hour or so then type it in. A few resourceful people would implement some very amazing solutions and then tell me about it, I was impressed. And then there were quite a few people who would spend two days trying to implement a technical solution only to end up typing it in or just give up completely.

Some of the resourceful results where quite simple. The main thing I found was that trying to tell the difference between the resourceful people who came up with a solution in 30 minutes and those who took 2 days was impossible. Neither of them really wanted to hear my answer. Observing the differences in how people would deal with the problem and then with the advice was enlightening to say the least.

The people who gave up because they didn't want to type in data for 2 hours ceased their employment rather quickly.

aarlo 4 days ago 0 replies      
It's all about the anxiety caused by the fear.

Deep-down the unresourceful founders are afraid, which causes anxiety that their decisions are wrong, so anything that approaches being wrong causes the anxiety to repress and get in the way of the freedom to explore things.

Resourcefulness is also about letting new ideas and opportunities come to you, which helps if you listen to your unconscious, which you can't do if anxiety makes your conscious mind jumpy.

tom_b 4 days ago 2 replies      
The "hard to talk to" test is almost the perfect description of how I feel about working with certain clients (for lack of a better phrase) in my current job.

Prior to this gig, I would have said one my strengths was actually working and communicating with users of software I helped write or support.

Now, it seems like our team is mostly "walled off" from the external people we could do the most for.

Any tips out there for breaking through that wall? It is really discouraging . . .

dmethvin 4 days ago 2 replies      
> I could never quite tell if they understood what I was saying.

Still it seems this is just coming down to communication. Is it possible that the less successful ones were doing things in areas where you personally had less expertise? Perhaps your advice was impractical or irrelevant, but they felt intimidated into silence rather than feeling they could discuss the problems honestly and see how the advice could be adapted.

bh42222 4 days ago 3 replies      
This is going to sound mean, but I don't mean to be mean. I am genuinely curios:

Could you describe "hard to talk to" as not having very high social skills? I would say that a lot of average folk could be described as hard to talk to, but super smooth people are never hard to talk to.

So I mean to restrict my question to well above average social skills.

And this leads me to my next question. Could it be that social skills require more brain power than traditionally intellectual pursuits?

We know from AI work that things which come naturally to humans are some of the most computationally intensive and most difficult to replicate.

Whereas things like math and playing chess are much easier to implement in software.

Doing math in your head can feel much more difficult than just having a conversation with someone. But what if having a conversation feels easier only because a huge amount of brain power is genetically devoted to vision, language processing, face recognition, and reading other humans' emotions?

(This is what's going to get me grayed out)
What if socially awkward geeks are truly lacking brain power compared to socially super smooth but not particularly intellectual people?

And does pg's experience prove that social smoothness provides higher fitness even in the high-tech startup environment?

Are then technically brilliant but socially awkward people truly less fit in almost all areas of life?

Do socially awkward people only out-compete socially smooth people strictly in situations where interaction among humans is truly minimal?

brador 4 days ago 0 replies      
Hmm...not sure about the conclusion from the data here.

Maybe they lacked "resourcefullness" (noticed by a difficulty in closing) because their startup wasn't so hot...maybe they were hard to talk to because, again, their startup wasn't so great and they didn't want to talk about it.

It's the old "basketball players are tall because they are good at basketball" thinking...

Look deeper, I suggest the cause-effect be inverted.

maxklein 4 days ago 1 reply      
I think both are just manifestations of intellectual curiosity - some people, when they talk to you, are asking themselves: "what is this guy trying to say?" So they listen. Those same people, when they see something unusual, for example, a new type of design, they ask themselves - why did these people do this? So they are constantly discovering, and it's that discovering of methods and ways that ultimately leads to them discovering the path that works.

The other people - the non-listeners - are not observing what's going on. They are looking inwards, so are unable to react to changes, and they are unable to see the path when they stumble across it.

hristov 4 days ago 0 replies      
I think Paul is only partially right. There is another side to this. It is the people that do ask a lot of questions that are usually more able to look at things from a different perspective and to be innovative. A man of action is great for getting things done but he (or she) will usually always do things the same old and usual way and not think much about what he is doing.

A more contemplative person will ask a lot of questions and figure out the problem in its entirety and then be able to test the boundaries and question the implicit assumptions.

I think a good team requires one of each, although having at least on man (or woman) of action for a team is important.

Jd 4 days ago 1 reply      
An even older adage (from Confucius) : "I will hold up one corner. If the student does not return, with enthusiasm, having raised the other three, the Lesson ends."
MattGrommes 4 days ago 0 replies      
I would love to see more stories of YC companies that didn't work out (no personal details needed of course). It seems like the weeding process is good enough to have a very high success rate so the ones that don't do well should be good examples to keep in mind.
nodemaker 4 days ago 0 replies      
I think entrepreneurs/founders are inundated with so much advice from every direction that their brains train themselves to ignore all advice at the present moment and maybe give it a thought later.

This is actually a good thing since a founder needs to have capacity for independent thought but it misfires when the advice is from someone like pg.

My recommendation would be to consciously admit when you are doing this and then to consciously stop yourself from doing it when someone really knowledgeable is talking to you.

martinrue 4 days ago 0 replies      
The partner note at the bottom is spot on. I have reflectively seen myself doing it. I used to get so focused on the particular idea I had that I lost sight of the fact I was solving a problem, for which there were likely many solutions " blinded by wanting to simply do it the way I had in my head. Conversations would just be a way for me to validate my concrete idea, not to search for additional ideas or entirely new approaches to the problem.

I like this essay because it serves as a personal reminder to always avoid that. As soon as you close your mind off from the ideas others may give you (directly or indirectly), you've lost.

jameslevy 4 days ago 0 replies      
The unsuccessful founders weren't stupid. Intellectually they were as capable as the successful founders of following all the implications of what one said to them. They just weren't eager to.

Startup founders should read 'The Denial of Death' (http://www.amazon.com/Denial-Death-Ernest-Becker/dp/06848324...)

Of course, as a founder, you could make it a point to embrace the reality not just of your inevitable death, but also your startup's inevitable eventual death.

I say this because I'm guessing a lot of the things pg says to the least successful startups involves the reality that their startup will die if there are not quick and radical changes to some part of the business.

I'm sure many physicians must have this problem when talking to their patients who smoke, binge-eat, do not take their medicine, etc.

johngalt 4 days ago 0 replies      
Another indicator of this is verbal ping-pong. How granular you have to answer questions/give direction. If you get a lot of "What do I do next?" or "you never told me to do that!" A non-resourceful person would say "How am I supposed to know that an introduction means X, Y, Z?!"
joebadmo 4 days ago 0 replies      
I have of late been grappling with Dunning-Kruger, which I'd like to apply to this topic.

How do I know if I have this problem? Because everyone filters advice through their brain in one way or another, right? How can I tell if my brain is filtering in such a way to conform advice to my preconceptions, or if I'm truly grappling with the advice?

And if I do have this problem, how do I fix it? Is it remediable?

ozataman 4 days ago 0 replies      
To further explore this topic, I would recommend reading the book Iconoclast[1]. It identifies "a lack of fear and mental laziness" as some of the key qualities rare extraordinary individuals possess. Having a child's mind and looking at things fresh was another way of putting it for me at the time I read it.

Reading PG's post, it immediately reminded me of the detailed analysis of this quality in the book.

[1] http://www.amazon.com/Iconoclast-Neuroscientist-Reveals-Thin...

jroseattle 4 days ago 0 replies      
I agree with Paul's comments here, and think they hold true far outside the bounds of this conversation. However, there is something about the context in the original post that doesn't seem clear to me. It relates to what qualifies as "being hard to talk to."

It sounds like the label is being assigned to those who don't jump at something, take a ball and run with it, or whatever metaphor you'd like to insert. And the summary reaches a point of "hard to talk to yields lack of resourcefulness." And as evidence, those who weren't hard to talk to were those who closed funding, grabbed users, or some other metric. And those who were hard to talk to were the ones who didn't.

Those who succeeded at something were easy to talk to, but those who didn't succeed at something were more difficult? Not really a surprise, but what's smoke and what's fire? Seems to me there exists the possibility that failure in those areas may be the cause, and hard-to-talk-to was merely a symptom representative of a point in time.

I imagine this is contextual in the relationship of YC to its member companies, but from an outsider's perspective I could see this working out differently.

philwelch 3 days ago 0 replies      
> My feeling with the bad groups is that coming into office hours, they've already decided what they're going to do and everything I say is being put through an internal process in their heads, which either desperately tries to munge what I've said into something that conforms with their decision or just outright dismisses it and creates a rationalization for doing so. They may not even be conscious of this process but that's what I think is happening when you say something to bad groups and they have that glazed over look. I don't think it's confusion or lack of understanding per se, it's this internal process at work.

This sounds suspiciously like a rousing game of "Why Don't You/Yes But". http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transactional_analysis#Why_Don....

frasertimo 4 days ago 0 replies      
I think the primary flaw that PG has identified in start-up founders who fail is the inability to acknowledge and deal with potential weaknesses in your plans.

This can come as a result of many things, but here are a few off the top of my head:
1)Having a set idea about a product or feature and not wanting to adjust it to user feedback due to being enamored with that idea.
2)Not wanting to accept that something will take many hours of tedious work and then having to put in that tedious work.
3)Worrying that if X essential feature is necessary that you don't have the ability to create X
4)Having to learn and work hard in an area that doesn't come naturally to you (tech founder doing sales/marketing or non-tech founder doing programming)
5)Social encounters that require one of the following hard to master traits: charisma, confidence, tact, or stubbornness. Social anxiety or nervousness are a given for most people trying to employ these (VC pitches are the obvious example here, but closing a big deal or just talking to your users also applies).
6)Having to seek/turn down investment after working on the basis that you were going to do the opposite.

I don't think the communication with the YC partners is necessarily the problem (although if you can't communicate well with them, then it's likely you can't communicate well in other crucial areas. Even socially awkward types like Zuck and Houston have found a way over time to communicate well where they need to), it's just a symptom of it. If you can't communicate well with them then it's likely because they're exposing you to some uncomfortable truths that you don't want to hear. But there are still founders who are bad communicators who have the necessary honesty about their business to succeed.

abarringer 4 days ago 1 reply      
Reminds me of the historic "Message to Garcia" http://www.foundationsmag.com/garcia.html

"The point I wish to make is this: McKinley gave Rowan a letter to be delivered to Garcia; Rowan took the letter and did not ask, "Where is he at?"

By the Eternal! there is a man whose form should be cast in deathless bronze and the statue placed in every college of the land. It is not book-learning young men need, nor instruction about this or that, but a stiffening of the vertebrae which will cause them to be loyal to a trust, to act promptly, concentrate their energies: do the thing""Carry a message to Garcia."

jorleif 3 days ago 0 replies      
This was a very insightful post which confirms my experience that generally working with people you can't communicate easily with almost always leads to bad results. What I'm wondering though, is if it really is a property of the person, or the fit between the two parties. Some people just don't get each other. Maybe their values are too far apart or something. Maybe they try to follow the other parties implications, but it leads somewhere they don't want to go, or then they cannot even fill in the blanks correctly because of different mental models.

So an alternative explanation for pg's observation is that when there is founder-advisor fit, communication is easy, because both parties can follow the implications of the other party and value similar things. Then the startups with better founder-advisor fit do better in the outside world, because they can actually benefit from the advice they are getting, whereas for the ones without founder-advisor fit the advice is pure noise to them, and does not guide them in the right direction (that is the one they want to go).

cwilson 4 days ago 0 replies      
I've spent much of my professional career thinking about this concept, because I've experienced it so often, but more out of frustration for my peers who DON'T seem to work this way.

There is nothing better than the feeling of clicking with someone intellectually, or even on a romantic level, when either of you can say one word and the other just gets it.

That said, there is nothing more frustrating than watching a peer, co-founder, or employee doing the exact opposite. PG doesn't mention the situation where you're witnessing someone over-explain something, when the other party clearly understood after one word, but the person explaining hasn't realized it. This infuriates me to no end (especially when pitching), but it's almost impossible to explain this to the guilty party!

forensic 4 days ago 0 replies      
It's called "Will"

Schopenhauer and Nietzsche figured this out a long time ago.

markkat 4 days ago 1 reply      
This just crystalized something for me. I like to create stuff with people. Once I find that someone is thoughtful, reflective, or whatever you want to call it, I like to talk with them in a manner that prods the abstract. It now makes sense to me that my most successful collaborations have happened with people with whom I can easily speak in the abstract. Details and competence are real things, but they are not the most important things by a long shot. Details can't be accounted for except for the fact that they will arise and they will have to be dealt with in one manner or another. Also, besides a reticence to talk in the abstract, one thing that puts serious doubt in my mind about people is self-help books.
revorad 4 days ago 0 replies      
I want to know about the successful exceptions. Which groups succeeded despite being hard to talk to?
itmag 3 days ago 0 replies      
This elegantly summarizes some thoughts I've been having myself the past years.

PG applies it to founders, whereas I apply to potential friends.

The word I've been using internally for this: pounceability. As in, with high-quality friends they will POUNCE on stuff you say to them and return to you later having independently researched whatever it was that you told them about. Whereas others have to be hammered into submission pretty much.

bitops 4 days ago 1 reply      
Though I'm not otherwise a big fan of Donald Trump, I read one of his books to see what he had to say. The book was called "Think Like A Champion" (I suppose that says something about Trump, but let that go by).

He pointed something out which I thought was a great business lesson: if you can't explain yourself in 5 minutes or less, you are going to be in trouble.

Relating this to pg's story, it means: you have to be able to express your ideas cleanly, succintly, and then forget all about them so you can take feedback. You have to drop the fact that it's "your idea" and just listen to what is being said.

I've worked with a number of people who were really, really, really excellent technically, but you could literally see the cogs churning in their head as you were speaking to them. And it was very much like what Paul describes, a sort of glazed over look. Afterwards, you'd have to rev the same idea with the a few times until they got it, or until you had to give up and make a decision by yourself.

I think it's a hard habit for some people to break, but it can be done.

chegra 3 days ago 0 replies      
Is this a play on "A word to the Bad" - Jermaine Jackson ?


lionheart 4 days ago 0 replies      
I wonder how much this "resourcefulness" characteristic is innate vs learned?

Can you learn to be more resourceful? To be easier to talk to?

I think you can, but aside from going out there and doing your thing and failing and trying again, I don't see how.

danielharan 4 days ago 0 replies      
@pg are you giving founders psychometric tests?

Resourcefulness might decompose into several well-defined traits or aptitudes. If I had to guess, I'd expect successful startup founders to score low for neuroticism, high in conscientiousness & openness as well as having an internal locus of control.

This could be invaluable, both in selecting the companies as well as for coaching and teaching.

EGreg 3 days ago 0 replies      
I like that at the end they added:

"With the good groups, you can tell that everything you say is being looked at with fresh eyes and even if it's dismissed, it's because of some logical reason e.g. "we already tried that" or "from speaking to our users that isn't what they'd like," etc. Those groups never have that glazed over look."

Because honestly ... sometimes it suck when someone with general knowledge tells you to do something you've already tried, and you have been having success with your own paradigm. Sometimes it's hard to work with someone who has a different paradigm but is also successful. Which is a shame! It would have been great to know that there's more than one way to approach things.

studentrob 4 days ago 0 replies      
Please. This is the manager's side of the argument whenever there is miscommunication. There are 100 you things you can do to fix communication problems.

Besides being overly general without any anecdotes, this article completely overlooks that there are solutions to miscommunication on both sides of the table, and that some people simply are not suited to work together, whether in a investor-to-founder relationship, or at the manager-employee level.

tlogan 3 days ago 0 replies      
The note at the end perfectly described myself :(
Now the question is: how to improve? How to be better?
6ren 3 days ago 0 replies      
True, it can be hard to think about something, if it means we have to then do something irksome, or terrifying, or beneath us etc.

But why not ask them? They mightn't know (or be right), but they have inside information.

doubleconfess 4 days ago 0 replies      
A great deal of this article seemed to be concerned more about flexibility than resourcefulness.

"Like real world resourcefulness, conversational resourcefulness often means doing things you don't want to. Chasing down all the implications of what's said to you can sometimes lead to uncomfortable conclusions."

"My feeling with the bad groups is that coming into office hours, they've already decided what they're going to do and everything I say is being put through an internal process in their heads, which either desperately tries to munge what I've said into something that conforms with their decision or just outright dismisses it and creates a rationalization for doing so."

This sounds like a testament to the lean-startup movement, where success is more dictated on the ability to iterate on user feedback rather than being stuck in one static idea of what your business is or is meant to be.

adrianwaj 4 days ago 0 replies      
Sounds like executive intelligence coupled with a willingness to take personal responsibility if it fails - that's why they chase up the implications. Hard to talk to can also translate into talking to users. The paradox with startups comes in building something very much for yourself, but also very much for other people: possibly a similar maturity in talking to others, requiring a mental leap of faith.
steder 4 days ago 0 replies      
Regardless of profession I think listening and reading are the most important skills.

Unfortunately I find many technology people are programmed to discount or deprecate any and all "soft" skills.

ericb 4 days ago 0 replies      
How much of a factor in pg's perception is the know-it-all phenomenon, I wonder? I find the most unteachable folks to be the ones who already "know."
eande 4 days ago 0 replies      
"bad groups is that coming into office hours, they've already decided what they're going to do"

If someone has this kind of set in mind and not listening to the context what the other end has to say meritocracy is at best the outcome.

heed 4 days ago 1 reply      
I don't know if 'resourcefulness' is the right description for trait pg observed. I think 'assertiveness' is more accurate.
dennisgorelik 4 days ago 1 reply      
It looks like PG is talking about the need of being flexible and open-minded.
NDizzle 4 days ago 1 reply      
How do you say that you actually have this skill on a resume without sounding like a pompous d-bag?
troll24601 4 days ago 0 replies      
I'm not an investor, but I've had a parallel experience having been involved with roughly 150 tech contracts in my career.

A strong predictor for mediocrity is when communication is troubled. If we're unable to have two-way conversations with all project stakeholders, it's almost a guarantee that we'll end up delivering something that has less value than it could, at a higher cost than was possible, and that nobody is thrilled with.

caublestone 4 days ago 0 replies      
"A Word to the Resourceful" or "Do or Do not, there is no try"
anantzoid 3 days ago 0 replies      
Paul Graham is my idol! Always looking forward to getting more and more stuff from him.
PaulHoule 4 days ago 0 replies      
word to the wise pg, watch out for getting nailed for age discrimination...
alexwolfe 4 days ago 0 replies      
This reminds me of the book "Blink" by Malcom Gladwell. Something doesn't seem right and our instincts pick up on it way before we understand it.

Communication is such an import part of business, relationships, and life. If there is a lack of communication it can spell trouble in many different areas down the line. In this case it seemed to be an indicator of many other problems as well.

Thanks for sharing, interesting to see how the pieces are connected from a business/startup perspective.

Jon Stewart calls out congressional nerd bashing over SOPA msn.com
412 points by aepstein  3 days ago   155 comments top 18
pinaceae 3 days ago  replies      
it points to a big shift in society and the economy.

software is now a cornerstone of the world economy. modern life runs through the internet. even if you personally avoid the internet, you depend on it.

but the baby boomer generation, represented by these politicians has not understood it. they know engineers as the guys building houses, bridges, aeroplanes, rockets. but software? it is an invisible world to them. child's play. how hard can it be to build the internet vs. the hoover dam.

i don't think this will change soon nor can it be actively changed. we need to wait till this generation simply dies out and gets replaced by the ones who grew up with computers. for a larger part of society in the western hemisphere, that means birthdates in the 1970s. yes, gates, jobs were born earlier, but the majority of their users were born later. they were visionaries, outliers.

and the circle will begin again, facebook generation vs. privacy defenders. and who knows whats after that...genetics?

bravura 3 days ago 4 replies      
On the plus side, all the conspiracy theorists who claimed that Jon Stewart and The Daily Shows were pawns of their parent multinational media conglomerate, and thus wouldn't negatively cover SOPA, these people were wrong.

On the negative side, no one in the news media or whistleblowers and WTF-watchers like Jon Stewart knew what SOPA was until two days ago.

That's even scarier.

thebigshane 3 days ago 3 replies      
Everyone here (besides `jerfelix` apparently) is missing something crucial:

Jon Stewart showed 4 people using the word 'nerd'. Three of them were anti-SOPA! These were the congress(wo)men that were trying to bring in experts/techies/geeks/nerds/whatever. So, I'm sorry that the techies here were insulted by that word (I wasn't!) but most of the people using the word were actually fighting for your side! And if you listened to them in context (instead of such a short clip) I think you would have thoroughly agreed with them.

I can excuse Jon Stewart for ignoring this important fact here because he is, after all, a comedian.

Lofgren (Anti-SOPA) [http://lofgren.house.gov/index.php?option=com_content&vi...]

Issa (Anti-SOPA) [http://issa.house.gov/]

Watt (Pro-SOPA) [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mel_Watt#Support_of_SOPA]

Chaffetz (Anti-SOPA) [http://twitter.com/jasoninthehouse]

ck2 3 days ago 2 replies      
Is "geek" too cool of a word now that they have to reach for the calculated more insulting "nerd"?

(my apologies to proud nerds - but my point is that's not how they were using it)

So if people who know what they are doing with computers are the equal of geeks, do politicians think they are the dumb jocks in this high school infantile throwdown?

trun 3 days ago 1 reply      
I'm glad to see Stewart finally give this issue some coverage. I actually think the more interesting part of this bit was his montage of Daily Show clips using "copyrighted" content. It really underscores the importance of fair use and the grey area that makes copyright violations such a difficult area to police. The nerds bit was funny, but it was just the usual mockery of our elected officials he usually does.
sage_joch 3 days ago 2 replies      
Fun fact: the SOPA page on Wikipedia was still accessible during the blackout.
jerfelix 3 days ago 2 replies      
I thought that Stewart made the congresspersons on the Nerds clip look all look like ignorant supporters of SOPA.

The last speaker, Jason Chaffetz, who said "maybe we ought to ask some nerds what this really does" was in opposition to SOPA.

Chaffetz has spoken out against SOPA since at least December 7th. See this clip: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KQJrNpAcT84 , where he also uses the term "nerds", but he's saying it in opposition to SOPA. And this clip about keeping the internet open, which dates back to 12/7: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4t0Pl83_Apo .

So, yeah, Jon Stewart is funny, but he'll use clips to make his point. This sometimes leaves the viewers with an unfairly tainted view of the person in the clip.

AgentConundrum 3 days ago 3 replies      
I was glad to see him call them out on that. I made a similar comment here on HN about a month ago[1] saying that calling on "nerds", to me, implied a lack of respect. The replies I received, however, seemed to disagree.

[1] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=3358472

hko 3 days ago 0 replies      
Really? "Nerds?" I think the word you're looking for is "experts."
bane 3 days ago 0 replies      
When I was a kid, nerds were picked on...now Congress is feeling threatened by us and calling our class out by name. That is a change as big as the technology the nerds brought about.
wrs 3 days ago 0 replies      
I suppose this is only fair, as I certainly use the term "politician" with the same dismissive tone of voice on occasion. And I have to admit that there are skills involved in being a successful politician that I don't much care to understand or appreciate. So henceforth I will use the term with more respect. Perhaps they will do the same someday.
nekojima 3 days ago 1 reply      
I am happy to be called a geek, nerd or expert. Thank you for the complement. :-)
mjwalshe 3 days ago 0 replies      
And we are surprised by this? as the US is like the UK where a lot if not the majority of politicians and the 1% are lawyers.

Out in the real world "engineers" are considered the little chap in oily overalls (and a flat cap) who "fixes up the roller dont cha know"

Oh and that's how real engineers are seen in teh UK not some hobby php programmer cobbling together some online shoe shop by cutting and pasting

galaktor 3 days ago 2 replies      
The video linked in the article was not available here (Ireland), so for all others affected, this should be it:
nodemaker 3 days ago 0 replies      
On the positive side, this whole anti-"nerd" attitude actually inspires people to become tech-entrepreneurs who are financially and socially powerful.
salem 3 days ago 1 reply      
This is where it's all heading http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Idiocracy
nsxwolf 3 days ago 0 replies      
That's one tough to parse headline.
The Trello Tech Stack fogcreek.com
405 points by elehack  4 days ago   93 comments top 32
edw519 4 days ago 5 replies      
Use things that are going to work great in two years.

This is one of those remarks that is obvious to someone who knows what it means but mysterious to someone who doesn't. So what does it really mean?

- Don't use a technology that, no matter how good, is just too niche for widespread adoption?

- Don't use a technology that we'll have trouble finding programmers to support?

- Look for stuff that will take better advantage of impending improvements in hardware and communications?

- Avoid frameworks for which support may wane?

- Avoid technology that we may have to support ourselves?

- Avoid anything proprietary whose owner may disappear?

- Make sure that whatever you choose, it will work well on mobile technologies, even as native apps?

- Choose technologies abstract enough to minimize our costs but not too abstract to be inefficient?

- Any combination of the above?

- What considerations have I missed?

davesims 4 days ago 2 replies      
Not to pick on him, because I think the overall received wisdom on new tech has shifted and morphed a great deal over the last few years, no doubt including Joel's...but I can't resist pointing out that, my how times have changed...


In other words, it's nice to see Joel greenlight something like this, I'd say it's kind of a sign of the times in terms of the industry's overall comfort level with what would be termed 'hip' technology, or 'new' or whatever moniker you want to attach to it.

DanielBMarkham 4 days ago 1 reply      
Nice job, guys. I love this architecture. This looks a lot like my dream stack for future web work.

Would love to hear some more about the "bleeding" experiences you've had.

trotsky 4 days ago 3 replies      
How vulnerable are all javascript approaches in terms of injection type attacks? Do apps like node and mongo effectively prevent them, or is it still possible to shoot yourself in the foot? I've read some off hand comments along the lines of "as long as you're not a total moron you have nothing to worry about", but that sounds a lot like what was said about sql injections and xss before exploiting them went mainstream and it turned out everyones apps were filled with them. Has anyone audited a real world app built with a stack like this and come away with any experience to share?
nirvdrum 4 days ago 0 replies      
This part caught my eye:

"The Socket.io server currently has some problems with scaling up to more than 10K simultaneous client connections when using multiple processes and the Redis store, and the client has some issues that can cause it to open multiple connections to the same server, or not know that its connection has been severed."

I wonder if they ran into redis's hard-coded 10k connection upper-limit. As it turns out, their configuration for "unlimited" connections actually has a cap of 10k. I believe in master this is going away, but if you need more than 10k connections on redis <= 2.4, you need to manually patch the daemon, in case anyone else runs into this.

radagaisus 4 days ago 0 replies      
Just had to share this:

Our stack is Redis, MongoDB, Nginx, SCSS, HAML, Coffee, Rails and NodeJS. I'm extremely happy with these choices.

Recently me and a friend did a small weekend project: www.bubblefap.com (nsfw) The design and code is a homage to ugliness. We only used PHP-ActiveRecord and that's it. and I had so much fun!

I just hacked away! I was cowboy coding, hacking away, and I didn't need to think about frameworks and architecture and integration with fog and hacking Rack to support flash uploads. Oh, good times :-)

jcromartie 4 days ago 0 replies      
Node.js, Redis, and MongoDB? They've gone full web-scale!

In all seriousness, though, it looks like they are using Redis for exactly the right reasons, and the larger architecture is pretty much the definition of a sane forward-looking design.

padobson 4 days ago 0 replies      
I think this is the best write-up I've seen of a full Javascript/CoffeeScript stack.

I've always been hesitant to get too far away from my LAPP(ython) stack, but I'll almost certainly be hacking something together with these components to see how I like writing everything in CoffeeScript.

drewda 4 days ago 0 replies      
"We custom-built a client-side Model cache to handle updates and simplify client-side Model reuse."

Is this related at all to backbone.iosync.js?* Or, if not, is it something that Fog Creek will be open to sharing in the future?

* https://github.com/logicalparadox/backbone.iobind

geekfactor 4 days ago 1 reply      
Does anyone know of any open-source projects out there using a similar stack? I'm particularly interested in learning more about client-side view rendering with Backbone and Mustache... server side can be any of Node, Rails or Django.
techscruggs 4 days ago 0 replies      
Question: They tout MongoDB's "generally fast" read speed. Any idea what this is in relation to? In "fast", are they suggesting that it is faster than a typical RDBMS? If so, does anyone know of any supporting benchmarks or breakdowns of how they accomplish this and to what extent?

Its news to me.

praxxis 4 days ago 2 replies      
"We use a really excellent async library"

Does anyone happen to know if this is an open source or in house library?

alexhaefner 4 days ago 0 replies      
This is a great write up. We have a very similar stack for a separate team based project we're working on. The only difference is the front end stack, and we have tornado sitting back on the backend to serve http requests when needed. What's the benefit of Mustache/Backbone over just writing your own client side templating, in a practical sense? Last time I used a KVO framework, there was a performance penalty that I did not like. Does Backbone have any performance issues? Or even mustache? What's the trade off of having these frameworks versus generating custom tempting code?
djb_hackernews 4 days ago 1 reply      
Great write up. Hopefully that ephemeral data in Redis can scale.

They could have used something like Pusher for about half of their implementation (the websockets, message pushing, polling, etc)

I bring this up because I built an OSS Pusher clone[1], for those people that want to deploy their own, built on the Play! framework.

[1] https://github.com/danbeaulieu/PushPlay

barmstrong 4 days ago 0 replies      
Great writeup!

Can you guys share what (if any) test suites were used? Was curious on this point.

prodigal_erik 4 days ago 0 replies      
"Client-side MVC" is kind of unfair to backbone.js. I haven't confirmed it myself, but I've seen people explaining how it's also suited to server-side rendering, which means it's not ruled out for competent authors doing progressive enhancement.


jroseattle 4 days ago 0 replies      
Love the stack, already working on something similar (mine involves nginx, though.) Given we haven't deployed, it's refreshing to see a similar diagram from those already out in front.
eaurouge 4 days ago 1 reply      
If you could do this over again, would you still choose socket.io for websockets, or would you go with something else like PusherApp?
karterk 4 days ago 1 reply      
I have read about various issues in using HAProxy and socket-io (websockets mode). I am currently working on a project that's heading towards that direction - anyone has anything to share on that front?
apg 4 days ago 3 replies      
This post raises a few questions for me... and perhaps some one more versed in these stacks can provide answers.

- Does the use of CoffeeScript alleviate the MC Escher-esque quality of callbacks within closures involved in working with Javascript on both the server and client (and the data store)? I can totally see the appeal of CoffeeScript's syntax. Giving the programmers something different to look (and learn) at probably provides some cognitive benefit as well.

- Is there an acronym/name (ala LAMP) for the Node/MongoDB/Redis stack?

wowzer 4 days ago 0 replies      
When I first saw Trello I "felt" that something cool was going on under the hood. So I did a little poking to see what JS technologies you guys were using. The piece I was most excited to learn about was backbone. Had never seen it before and was really impressed by the space it was filling and what it's capable of. Thanks for the write up.
jslabaugh 4 days ago 0 replies      
Great write-up... It made me want to go play with these exact components!
wuher 3 days ago 1 reply      
Great writeup, I wish more companies did this: be open about their tech stack and experiences.

This inspired me to write about how I think, they could've gone even further: http://wuher-random.blogspot.com/2012/01/single-page-web-app...

strictfp 3 days ago 2 replies      
" sending changes to Models down to browser clients". _Down_ to the client? He draws the stack with the client on top and the storage at the bottom, and then says 'down to the client'? I have a collegue who also does this. I never figured out why. Can anyone explain possoble reasoning behind this wording?
crescentfresh 3 days ago 0 replies      
Does it just go without saying these days that jQuery is required? Trello uses it, as well as jQuery UI, date.js, and highcharts.js far as I can tell.

I mention it because they mention other parts of the client stack (Backbone.js for ex), but not said libs.

Smrchy 4 days ago 0 replies      
I am wondering where and how you terminate the HTTPS connections for websockets. Can you share some details on that?
sifi 4 days ago 0 replies      
Awesome job guys. I'm really digging this stack. It is giving me motivation to learn more about Backbone.js
skeletonjelly 4 days ago 0 replies      
Surprised that they didn't incorporate any ASP.NET MVC in there. I was under the impression they were a Microsoft shop?
swah 4 days ago 2 replies      
It seems Socket.io has not had any contenders yet..
sandwiches 3 days ago 0 replies      
Pretty cool; any insight as to how they deploy code to production servers?
nigma 4 days ago 1 reply      
Very cool. What do you use for search?
jeswin 4 days ago 0 replies      
The UI could be less cluttered.
Supreme Court rules 9-0 that warrant absolutely needed for police GPS tracking wired.com
400 points by ck2  11 hours ago   112 comments top 21
DanielBMarkham 11 hours ago  replies      
This is a victory -- if you can call a victory taking something back to where it was all along.

Along those lines, I noted this in the article:

In a footnote, Scalia added that, “Whatever new methods of investigation may be devised, our tsk, at a minimum, is to decide whether the action in question would have constituted a ‘search' within the original meaning of the Fourth Amendment. Where, as here, the government obtains information by physically intruding on a constitutionally protected area, such a search has undoubtedly occurred.”

If that broader interpretation would hold, that would be awesome news. But by putting it in a footnote, as I understand it, it's more of a dream than anything else. Great philosophy, though. Here's hoping it plays out that way.

The problem -- and the reason it won't, probably -- is that this kind of interpretation needs to be put into a constitutional amendment. If you rely on judicial interpretation, between the legislature and the courts, they'll make a muddled mess out of it.

nextparadigms 11 hours ago 4 replies      
In the meantime Lamar Smith is pushing a bill so ISP's track and log everything you do online for 18 months, and then to give the data away without a warrant.


ck2 11 hours ago 4 replies      
I'm curious what the next step is going to be, maybe try to use "onstar" gps data without a warrant, because the way this is worded, it maybe seems the action of placing the tracking device that is the violation, not using an existing one, and they can still do it for "segments" (ie. tracking you for just one leg of a journey and removing it afterwards is legal without a warrant?)

Next we have to fight for our bodies not to be searched without a warrant as Rand Paul is currently experiencing personally: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=3500715

suprgeek 10 hours ago 0 replies      
The funny thing in this case which the Govt LOST in a big way is that the Govt actually HAD a warrant. They failed to comply with it (Attaching the GPS after the date granted by the court and for longer than granted.)

Basically the Govt. tried to convince the court that their bungling did not matter because a "warrant" not needed to begin with as it was not a "search" as defined in the 4th amendment. The Supremes slapped the hell out of that argument and thus created a major ruling that now impacts all govt. actions on GPS. The irony is awesome.

padobson 11 hours ago 6 replies      
What sort of twisty-turvy world have we found ourselves in?

A right-leaning Supreme court upholds tennants of the 4th Amendment - the go-to civil liberties ammendment - at the same time a Democratic administration seeks to weaken said ammendment.

When Democrats are attacking our civil liberties and Republicans (looking at you, Lamar Smith) are removing our economic freedoms, it's time to take the crackpots seriously when they say we're not living in a republic anymore.

bri3d 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Kozinski's dissent from a similar 9th circuit case (United States v. Juan Pineda-Moreno) is an awesome bit of reading ("Some day, soon, we may wake up and find
we're living in Oceania."): http://www.ca9.uscourts.gov/datastore/opinions/2010/08/12/08... . I'm also glad the supreme court ruled more sanely than the 9th circuit did on this matter.
blahedo 10 hours ago 0 replies      
The decision 9-0 but with two separate opinions, and boy is the split weird: Scalia-Roberts-Kennedy-Thomas-Sotomayor on the broader interpretation; and Alito-Ginsburg-Breyer-Kagan on the narrower interpretation.

Good news on either interpretation, though.

pflats 11 hours ago 0 replies      
One of the things the article doesn't point out (but the linked case law does) that I was curious enough about to look into:

The "beeper" was essentially a short-ranged RF transponder used as a tracking device. The officers were actively following the suspect, and using it as an aid to tailing the suspect's car. The suspect lost the tail, and the cops used the beeper to find where he went.

This is contrasted with a GPS device, which was placed, tracked for a month, and then retreived, and the data of the month's movements used to convict the drug dealer.

thucydides 10 hours ago 0 replies      
The headline for this link is incorrect: the Court did NOT rule that a warrant is necessary for police tracking.

So what was the government trying to do? They really wanted the Supreme Court to rule that installing this GPS receiver was not even a SEARCH within the meaning of the 4th Amendment. The Court said no, this is a search. In the future, they will subject similar GPS installations to 4th Amendment scrutiny.

But on the warrant issue, Scalia explicitly wrote the Court will not answer the question of whether the government needed a warrant on page 12 of the opinion. Why? "The Government did not raise [this argument] below, and the D. C. Circuit therefore did not address it... We consider the argument forfeited."

pash 7 hours ago 0 replies      
More interesting than the decision"in which Scalia so narrows the scope of the case (to whether attaching a device to a car constitutes a search) that it's pretty boring"are last November's oral arguments.[1a, 1b]

In the oral arguments, there's considerable discussion about whether pervasive GPS or other technologically enabled surveillance in itself is constitutionally permitted. The discussion on this point makes for interesting listening/reading because everyone agrees that the police are permitted persistently to monitor someone over any indefinitely long period (in public, where there is no search) without a warrant. Would equivalent surveillance carried out not by human police officers but rather by technology be allowed? Even though the relevant technologies will soon be so cheap that the authorities would be able to monitor anyone (or everyone) in the country?

Another interesting point brought up in the oral arguments is that the government owns your license plate, so placing a monitoring device on that, rather than the car itself, would not constitute a trespass and so may not constitute a search. Nothing in this decision refutes that logic, so the police may still be able to track you by GPS without a warrant so long as they put the transmitter on your license plate.

1a. Transcript: Oral Argument - Supreme Court [PDF]

1b. Audio: http://www.c-spanvideo.org/program/302576-1 [Flash]

raldi 10 hours ago 2 replies      
If I were to ask an FBI agent why obtaining a warrant first would have been onerous in this case (or similar ones), what would they say?
jessriedel 10 hours ago 4 replies      
Anyone know how this is squared with US v. Knotts? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_v._Knotts

>United States v. Knotts, 460 U.S. 276 was a 1983 United States Supreme Court case regarding the use of electronic surveillance devices. The device in question is described as a beeper and can only be tracked from a short distance. The court unanimously held that the use of such devices did not invade a legitimate expectation of privacy, and was therefore allowed, without a warrant, under the Fourth Amendment.

Is it just a distance thing? Or length of time of the surveillance?

Here's the full opinion:


pwf 11 hours ago 2 replies      
Does this ruling cover tracking via cell phone as well? According to the Wikipedia article on mobile phone tracking, "The U.S. Justice Department has argued that current laws allow them to track suspects without having probable cause to suspect a law is being violated."

This case only seems to cover devices the suspect doesn't already willingly carry.

benwerd 8 hours ago 0 replies      
Great judgment. But if I was an overly cynical person, here's where I could see this going:

Data gathered by voluntarily-placed GPS units aren't covered by the ruling. If they want the data, the onus is then on cities to create incentives to place GPS units voluntarily.

Initiatives are started to link road tax to miles driven in any given county - which requires GPS to check.

Cars suddenly begin to have built-in GPS transmission not just for OnStar, but for other applications, like Facebook.

The car becomes a platform, and suddenly laws are enacted that effectively require private citizens to report data to law enforcement.

Law enforcement gets to track _all_ drivers without a warrant.

(Not that I'm arguing for a different ruling - this is great - but I don't trust the government not to take surveillance to its maximum possible level given current technology.)

kmfrk 9 hours ago 0 replies      
I like the way @alex_gaynor put it:

    When the Supreme Court rules 9-0 against you,
there's a good chance your argument was fucking stupid.


kiloaper 10 hours ago 1 reply      
Doesn't matter. As always the government is 2 steps ahead. Drones are already being deployed in the US: http://usnews.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2011/12/15/9476623-domesti...
SoftwareMaven 10 hours ago 0 replies      
"""The government told the justices during oral arguments that that GPS devices have become a common tool in crime fighting, saying it is employed “thousands” of times annually."""

So sad to think all those investigations will now have to have proper court oversight (not that I imagine that is too hard to get).

Anybody know how this could effect other, already completed, cases? Could I ask for a retrial/appeal if my conviction was heavily based on this type of evidence?

joshuahedlund 11 hours ago 1 reply      
The government told the justices during oral arguments that that GPS devices have become a common tool in crime fighting, saying it is employed “thousands” of times annually.

Wow. So I guess that number is supposed to shrink to zero now? That transition could prove to be very interesting...

electic 9 hours ago 1 reply      
This is a victory, sure. But sadly, getting a warrant is a five minute affair nowadays. Judges sign those like water. In fact there are judges that just sign warrants exclusively. That's all they do.
tosseraccount 10 hours ago 2 replies      
Does this mean that Facebook, Google and Apple need a warrant to track people? Or just the police?
unreal37 8 hours ago 2 replies      
The irony is that the govt HAD a search warrant in this case, they were 1 day late in installing the device - the search warrant expired after 10 days, and they installed it on the 11th day.

What's somewhat sad is that a drug dealer, who was caught with 97 kilos of cocaine, 1 kilo of cocaine base, and $800,000 cash, gets to go free. But small price to pay to retain the freedom of 300 million people I guess.

Feds, Please Return My Personal Files Stored at MegaUpload torrentfreak.com
388 points by nextparadigms  3 days ago   206 comments top 36
jsilence 3 days ago  replies      
"Welcome to the cloud!(tm)"

Some heuristics for evasion of the observed colateral damage scenario:

* Store your files in several places. For example use Dropbox and link two machines with it. One at home and your laptop maybe.

* Rent a cheap vserver and install your own URL-Shortener (http://freecode.com/search?q=url+shortener&submit=Search)

* For files you'd like to distribute, put them into the Dropbox public folder. Generate your own short links with your own shortener.

* distribute the shortened links

* If Dropbox goes down, copy files to other webspace. Adjust URL-Shortener entries to new location.

If you don't trust Dropbox or any other file storage service, rent some webspace and sync your files there. There are a couple of 'How to build your own OpenSource Dropbox clone' recipies out there. (https://duckduckgo.com/?q=dropbox+clone). AFAIR they all suck in different regards. Simply choose the one that does the job and sucks least.

If you are not capable of doing stuff like that, then contact your friendly neighbourhood tech collective. Where to find them? Start here: http://www.hackerspaces.org . Don't ask them to do stuff for you. Ask them to teach you how to do it. Then donate. DONATE!? Yes, donate. And remember, with all the commercial services you have been cheapsurfing on, if you are not paying for it, then you are not the customer, but the product.

The interwebs have offered us the opportunity of an empowered, self organized distributed digital information society. But alas! we lazy bums are opting for the cheap consumerism solution. And on top we are whining and sobbing, when the freebies are being taken away from us.

I have little compassion for people who store their files in the cloud only.


noonespecial 3 days ago 6 replies      
I used it to store embedded linux distro images that I made up for flash cards. 250meg each. Now I've got a bunch of broken links and some work to do. Looks like I'm going to have to suffer through all of Rapidshare's junk now.


scotty79 3 days ago 7 replies      
So basically police raided and closed off post office and now they feel entitled to hold and read throuh all letters and all the security deposits of random people because they have a valid suspicion that some of them contain cd's with copied music?
Animus7 3 days ago  replies      
There's nothing right about this, but I honestly can't have much sympathy for people who store their only copies of work files at a site that's notorious for its association with illegal activity.
mootothemax 3 days ago 1 reply      
I feel really bad for some of these users; certainly, for the less technically-inclined or interested, how were they to know that an otherwise legitimate and professional-looking website would disappear with their data overnight? Whether it's RapidShare, MediaFire or Amazon S3-backed others, to the regular user they all look the same.

In the long run, if high-profile removals happen like this, I can see it causing a general lack of trust in SaaS for the average home user.

YetAnotherAlias 3 days ago 3 replies      
Ignoring the backing-up data issue, this seizing of sites raises a couple of questions. I had never used Megaupload and I don't have a clue about what that site did. Assumming, I had stored a bunch of files on Megaupload:
1. Shouldn't the Feds return my files? After all those files are my property. Irrespective of whether or not I had back ups, what gives the Feds the right to seize my property indefinitely.
2. Does seizing the site, give the Feds the right to read through my files? what if I had been working on the next big super-duper idea, and they steal my ideas?
3. Would the 'unreasonable search & seizure' amendment apply to people's files?

These questions would apply to all cloud-storage companies. Can someone with more legal experience shed some light?

billpatrianakos 3 days ago 1 reply      
This is ludicrous. How anyone can call MegaUpload a legit site is beyond me. Everyone knows MegaUpload has been primarily used for storing and sharing pirated works and while the site can be used for legitimate purposes, by and large it wasn't. I do feel for the people who honestly did have legit stuff stored there but I think TorrentFreak's attempt to spin this story like a legit site got shut down for no reason is laughable.

So every major city has one of those "massage parlors" that are really just fronts for getting a happy ending. I'd liken this story to a hypothetical "Massage Parlor/rub and tug shop" getting shut down and then having a major local newspaper like the Chicago Tribune run a piece on how we should be outraged that a legit massage place got shut down because of a few bad employees and customers.

Give me a break, everyone knew what MegaUpload was doing and while I don't doubt the possibility that some people didn't know and really were using it legitimately, overall stories like this only give the pro-SOPA people more ammunition to try to make our side look like a bunch of entitled, unethical, lawbreakers. Or, as they like to say, "pirates" except when they say it it implies something totally different than what some of us see it as.

Only the most pedantic of the pedantic could not pick this story enough to try to make a case for defending MegaUpload. It's not like MU were hiding what they were doing very well. They only had plausible deniability with their cute disclaimer in the FAQ and the fact that it could be used legitimately but largely wasn't. There's no shortage of affordable, popular "file locker"/sharing sites that are legit out there.

When you try to defend MegaUpload and say "this is what happens when laws like SOPA take effect" what people outside this community actually hear is:

"look how SOPA can stop those law breaking pirates" and it actually makes us look bad.

Instead, the message shouldn't be supporting MegaUpload but actually beating the opposition at their own game by framing it as "look, the Feds can shut down pirate sites just fine as it is so why do we need SOPA-like laws?" then go into the dirty details of how SOPA is bad. Definitions and opinions on piracy, copyright, sharing, etc. are irrelevant in this case. The fact is, it's illegal right now and so it got shut down.

its_so_on 3 days ago 3 replies      
Guys, I have some spare time. Any interest in a cross-platform app that acts as a kind of "raid-1" (mirror) across two or more of these popular services (e.g. DropBox), any one of which you more or less "trust", but, on the theory that the Government can take them away? (or if you don't consier that likely, then just on the theory of "don't put all your eggs in one basket")

The idea is that each service would think you're "just" using them; meanwhile, you're really hedging your bets. Should ANY ONE of these disappear, in spite of general internet connectivity on your part, software panics and downloads ALL your data to your local hard-drive instead (on the theory that perhaps the government is about to make ALL of them inaccessible to you), sends you an email and SMS?

Another feature would be local encyrption. Let me know if there's interest in this. Basically, this is like a raid-1 layer on top of two or more disjoint services such as DropBox, optionally with local encryption.

guelo 3 days ago 0 replies      
The EFF should collect these and enlist them in a class action lawsuit against the FBI.
jrockway 3 days ago 0 replies      
I'd like to get upset about this, but the legal precedent for seizures is already well established. The government takes something, you get it back When They Feel Like It.

Your files are gone. Restore them from your backup.

janus 3 days ago 1 reply      
This is what scares me about backing up your files only to the cloud. They could go down any day and you would lose everything.

The fact that a local copy is kept is what I like about dropbox, and why I also keep local backups in an external HDD.

wildmXranat 3 days ago 1 reply      
How hard would it have been to give people a warning and let them pull their legitimate files first ? There's a whiff of malice behind seizures of this kind.
drcube 3 days ago 0 replies      
Law enforcement steals personal property all the time, with no recourse for the owner. All they need is an excuse to link it with an investigation. Even if nobody is ever accused of a crime, and nothing goes before a judge. Then later they sell it at auction and put the proceeds in their own pocket.

Worried about your files? Try worrying about your car or house, they're equally at risk. Not all cops are evil, but they'll all stand behind each other regardless.

qdog 3 days ago 0 replies      
Putting your files on a 3rd party site like MegaUpload is a lot like buying food at a random food cart in a 3rd world country. You might not get sick, but there's no guarantee. If there was a motto for life, it would be Caveat Emptor.

If they are governed by US laws, it's possible the FBI would return assets to lawful owners, much like the wind-down of MF Global, but that type of thing takes quite some time. Also, as possibly bad as that sounds, if MegaUpload had actually been the cause of data loss instead of an FBI take down, there is no recourse...other than pursuing MegaUpload via a court system! While I don't actually think this take down was reasonable, any expectation of warranty in MegaUpload's service can only be assumed by accepting the laws of the countries MegaUpload operates in.

talos 3 days ago 0 replies      
is there any legal recourse against the federal government available to those who lost property in the seizure?
TomGullen 3 days ago 0 replies      
If they are just backups, can't they make a new backup?
pbhjpbhj 3 days ago 0 replies      
Are Universal going to access server logs and start suing individual users to?
chris_dcosta 3 days ago 1 reply      
I'm pretty sure dropbox wouldn't be affected by this if the feds decided to do this to them, as the files are also stored in the computers' folders.

Although it's not clear if a removal from Dropbox servers could trigger a deletion into my own Dropbox. Perhaps someone at HN knows? Please advise...

av500 3 days ago 1 reply      
Megaupload terms of service:


Whoever stored files there and had the idea they were "safe" should read point (8) of the above...

a9 3 days ago 1 reply      
My prediction: Client-side encryption is going to become more popular. All users encrypt files before sending to cloud. Then users decide who gets access to their information. This is just common sense. It might help in areas like medical records (HIPAA) as well.

If you give Dropbox write-access to your Desktop and all your unencrypted original files, you are 0wned.

16s 3 days ago 1 reply      
If you're storing your stuff in a crack house and the cops close it down and take all the stuff, you're probably not getting it back.

Edit: Even if your stuff is legal.

gcb 3 days ago 1 reply      
So, how about some real-world analogy?

if someone rents a storage space, and dump a truckload of cocaine there. what happens to the lawful customers of said storage company?

thetabyte 3 days ago 0 replies      
This is both a volatilte issue, and a huge opporunity. Someone who hosted business (or even personal, but business would be stronger) files with MegaUpload should immidiately contact their lawyer and pursue a court order demanding the return of their property, just as they would if a delivery service was shut down for drug smuggling. Whether or not not they are able to get it back, the ensuing legal and political battle (including whether or not one occurs at all) may prove to be an important factor in the building copyright war. I didn't personally have anything stored on MegaUpload, but I'm making a plea for someone who did to contact their lawyer and find out how to pursue a court order for the return of their property.
MarvinYork 3 days ago 1 reply      
Just use their IP:
AlexC04 3 days ago 1 reply      
Could this ban not be bypassed if people knew the IP address megaupload was hosted on?

How was it taken down? Just DNS or soemthing else?

dbbo 2 days ago 0 replies      
I made a FOSS gnome icon theme whose sole host was megaupload (the tarball was too large to upload to gnome-look.org). I hope I have the original on an old computer somewhere.
melling 3 days ago 3 replies      
Why is this the #1 story on HN? Keeping anything important in one place is a bad idea.

Btw, we all have our source in git or mercurial (vcs with full history) with an offsite repo, right? also, RAID isn't a backup. How many lessons do people need to keep relearning?

michaelfeathers 3 days ago 0 replies      
It's time for some proactive civil rights legislation.
im3w1l 3 days ago 0 replies      
This gives new meaning to the imperative that you should have off-site backup.
MarvinYork 3 days ago 0 replies
res0nat0r 3 days ago 0 replies      
Shoula used S3.
Skitzor 3 days ago 0 replies      
DropBox and MegaUpload are where I keep copies of software that I purchased. They are commercial software backups.


haakon 3 days ago 0 replies      
JPEGs for twitter screenshots, how annoying.
jonhendry 3 days ago 1 reply      
Am I the only person who would never consider uploading important stuff to a site mostly full of warez and bootleg videos and whatnot? That is run by a known crook?
quattrofan 3 days ago 0 replies      
DanBC 3 days ago 1 reply      
It's the 21st century. People on HN are supposed to be tech-savvy.

There is no excuse not to have suitable back-ups of your files.

Anonymous takes down Department of Justice and Universal Music rt.com
360 points by coupdegrace  4 days ago   97 comments top 16
redthrowaway 4 days ago  replies      
Anonymous has never had the firepower to take down those three sites simultaneously using LOIC, so I'd be interested to see what the mechanism is. I suspect it's one or more of the Sabu-types firing their botnets. If this is the case, to what extant can this action be attributed to Anonymous? I'm sure there's likely broad support for it, but if it is just the actions of one or two botherders it makes attribution a bit of a grey area.

Edit: Add mpaa.org to the mix, as well as an attempt on fbi.gov. They'd have to have several gigs worth of bandwidth available to be able to hold all 4 sites down simultaneously. With average upload speeds in the hundreds of kilobits, that's a reasonably large botnet (50k-100k, as an pulled-from-ass guestimate).

zmmmmm 4 days ago 2 replies      
I'm trying hard to think of what could be more counterproductive to the gains made in combating SOPA and PIPA over the last week than this, and I basically can't think of anything. Unbelievable.
Zirro 4 days ago 1 reply      
While it's a bad way to protest in many ways, I somehow feel that it's pretty fair considering that Megaupload was taken down without a trial. Both sides taking the laws in their own hands, except that the media industry gets away with it.

(Yes, I do consider taking a site down without a trial an abuse of the system.)

scott_s 4 days ago 2 replies      
This is another case of: http://xkcd.com/932/
ypcx 4 days ago 2 replies      
"Megaupload had been brought down by federal authorities and four people linked to the site, all outside of America, were arrested and charged with a conspiracy related to copyright infringement."

Are they also held in Guantanamo, or were they executed on the spot?

abraxasz 4 days ago 3 replies      
I'm not sure this is the kind of PR that SOPA opponents need right now. I'm not saying that attacking UM website is good or bad, but the timing is certainly awkward imho.
46Bit 4 days ago 0 replies      
I hate to be the guy who bemoans fun, but I'm sure this makes the Senators who changed their minds over SOPA lately feel great about who they're on the side of.
stfu 4 days ago 0 replies      
Anonymous operative Barrett Brown
So that guy still goes around pretending he is some Anonymous official?
What a weird character:
dmix 4 days ago 0 replies      
Based on the extremely slow loading of both sites, it seems to be a DDOS.
codezero 4 days ago 1 reply      
Don't feel too sorry for megaupload, they did manage to rake in several hundred million dollars.
trotsky 4 days ago 0 replies      
Ahh, pure e-thuggery. I'm sure the DOJ will think twice about using international treaties to enforce federal law next time?
pavel_lishin 4 days ago 1 reply      
> “It was in retaliation for Megaupload, as was the concurrent attack on Justice.gov,” Anonymous operative Barrett Brown tells RT on Thursday afternoon.

I hope that's a pseudonym.

fady 4 days ago 2 replies      
i'm just amazed when i read about hacks like this. i can't help to think that these guys really know their shit and seem kinda "powerful."

not because they did it, but because they know how to. i wish i understood the web's infrastructure more.

user8204 3 days ago 0 replies      
I just downloaded their page (not via browser) and saw that they've just taken this code: http://pastebin.com/grNdf3Mj safe to visit, plaintext) and wrapped the js in a self invoking function. At the end of the function they included a call to another function which starts firing.

The original script required users to click the fire button but this does it by itself on load.

Strangely the current 'attack' page also features the google ad script, a twitter widget, kontextua ad script and whos.amung.us visitor tracking.

_investigator 3 days ago 1 reply      
Well, let's see Anonymous host a website. I'm sure the DOJ or FBI could take it down, by legal or technical means. What is the point? There's no such thing as a webserver that "never goes down", or a network that is "always up". Things fail under stress, things are taken offline and put back online, and redundancy or rerouting usually covers it all up. Not all organisations put 100% of their efforts into maintaining an external public website that "stays up" 24/7. I doubt any member of the public is pounding their keyboard because they can't access the FBI, DOJ or UMG websites. How many visitors do you think those sites even normally receive?
mrleinad 4 days ago 1 reply      
It´s indeed a LOIC on all those sites.
Death sentence for Iranian web programmer thenextweb.com
365 points by waitwhat  4 days ago   109 comments top 21
shadowfiend 4 days ago 5 replies      
It's always said that one of the huge advantages of programming compared to other disciplines is the extremely low barrier of entry and the extremely low cost of taking a risk. You can develop something and all it costs you is time, so scrapping it is far easier than in any physical design situation.

I don't think it's possible to discount how critical to this point of view our freedoms are. When you have a certain faith in the justice system (one generally corroborated by experience) and in the law, you have one less thing to worry about. We innovate because we not only don't fear wasting $N in materials in addition to our time, we also don't fear being dragged off to prison. Indeed, even if we did fear being dragged off to prison, I can't think of any situation where you could unintentionally get the death sentence for programming. Programming!

Yes, SOPA and PIPA are bad, and yes, we should oppose them. But sometimes it's good to take a step back and look at what “bad” really looks like. And take a minute to think “Wow. We are fighting such minor battles in comparison.” Just a minute. Then it's time to get back in the fight. Because the minor losses slowly, imperceptibly, take you to the major battles.

relix 4 days ago 5 replies      
He was living in Canada for several years and apparently made some free open source software that was subsequently used in a porn site (without his further involvement or knowledge), as is oft the case and the reason FOSS exists.

He then was arrested on a visit to Iran.

Disregarding the ridiculousness of this specific case, it sets a dangerous precedent: anyone who has written open source code that is used by sites, and possible porn sites, could be just as guilty as this guy according to Iranian law.

I think I'll skip Iran on my next vacation for now.

robterrell 4 days ago 2 replies      
That's deplorable. So basically, anyone who has code on GitHub that a pornographer (or other Islam-insulter) could use should never visit Iran.

Seems like a clear case of a coerced confession -- he confessed to something that isn't even possible. Why isn't the Canadian government going bananas for him? They've got their own damn oil, right?

its_so_on 4 days ago 3 replies      
what's an Iranian engineer to do. If you develop porn software, your government kills you. But if you work in nuclear engineering for your government, Israel kills you. I think the best policy would be for Israel to have a secret extraction program for Iranian engineers who are ideologically motivated and want to get into Internet porn engineering. Win-win-win-win (the last one is me.
rbanffy 4 days ago 0 replies      
Does anyone have data on how he was arrested? Was there some investigation of Iranian names in porn web sites or was he arrested because he was a Canadian resident visiting Iran and the porn accusations were pinned on him after arrest? The article says authorities spent a year assembling a case before any accusations were made.

Is this a risk any Iranian citizen returning from the West faces? To be arrested and have charges fabricated after the arrest? Are there any other cases of this?

rglover 4 days ago 2 replies      
So wait a minute, the Canadian government is doing something about this, right?

“Canada condemns Iran's reported decision to execute Mr. Malekpour. Sadly, his case is far from the only example of Iran's utter disregard for human life. The regime in Tehran frequently ignores principles like due process for its citizens domestically, and international human rights obligations generally.”

From that I gather that this is being looked at as "out of our hands" by the Canadian government. Is that right? I know that relations with Iran are murky for many nations, but this is kind of ridiculous.

AUmrysh 4 days ago 2 replies      
I think the real thing to take from this story is never travel to Iran (until the people of that nation replace their totalitarian government with something respectable).
cies 4 days ago 6 replies      
In reply to all the Iran hostility...

Iran is not such a bad country. I can know because I've been traveling it for 5 weeks. It's a weird place, with a govt that is not much supported by the educated-youth. But not all that bad as the media try to make us believe.

US has not closed Guatanamo, where they do their own share of trial-less, unfair-trail and/or unreasonable-trial sentence execution (including death penalty). Should we all now boycott the US?

"Porn" is quite clearly just the flag under which this guy is punished for leaving (deserting) his country. Prisoners in Guatanamo similarly have an "official reason" for being there.

Believe me, here in the Netherlands I know some folks with strong sentiments agains the US, and I tell them the same: "The US is not such a bad country". So maybe it is just me :)

dazbradbury 4 days ago 0 replies      
Iran's recent history is fraught with human rights violations. Each time stories like this are raised (on an almost daily basis), we need to support those who are actively campaigning to improve situations for Iranians, and do our part by informing our leaders of these concerns.

People can learn more about Iran's denial of education and send messages to UN members here:


Or help support campaigns such as "The International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran":


If anyone has any other information on campaigns/activists tackling human rights violations, I would love to hear about them.

viraptor 4 days ago 3 replies      
> "Canada condemns Iran's reported decision to execute Mr. Malekpour"

Is that really all Canada and other countries can do? Send a very, very angry letter using politically correct wording?

guard-of-terra 4 days ago 1 reply      
I find that the article lacks the details about the software in question. In the age of hypertext no links are to be found. The problem with it is we can't for sure show how ridiculous the accusations are without having access to that information.

Or is it unknown?

ianshward 4 days ago 0 replies      
More than on any other thread I've read on Hacker News, I'm driven to say on this in particular: what can we do? Iran's government site runs IIS. Pressure Microsoft to revoke their license (if it's even legit). I'm ready for war. I donated to TOR (I'll never travel to Iran) a couple years ago around the Iranian elections. This scumbag government must tumble.
zeroboy 4 days ago 0 replies      
Iran's death by stoning is particularly brutal, as you can see by this infographic (warning: if you are easily upset, don't read this): http://www.nationalpost.com/m/wp/news/blog.html?b=news.natio...
nazar 4 days ago 2 replies      
This is just a screwed up verson of Islam they are having in Iran. If thats what Islam stands for, I don't want to be a muslim anymore. I am sick of these stupid gready people representing any religion( in this case Islam) from wrong perspective. There is no such a thing as killing a person if he/she disgraced Islam.
sliverstorm 4 days ago 0 replies      
What I want to know- of what country is this man a citizen? It is no less awful of Iran if he is an Iranian citizen, but it might help explain Canada's seemingly lax reaction.

(The article says he was a resident of Canada. Residency doesn't usually mean citizenship, right?)

Stormbringer 4 days ago 0 replies      
Stupid question time:
Why isn't the title "Death sentence for Canadian web programmer"?

My naive reading of the article indicates that the man in question is a canadian citizen who was arrested when he visited Iran.

justindocanto 4 days ago 0 replies      
Wow. Poor guy. You try to make something useful, it gets into the hands of somebody that a country like IRAN hates... and you're to be killed. Never would have guessed this stuff happened/was possible when i was younger. blows me away.
zobzu 4 days ago 2 replies      
Well, as usual, fuck religion
dev_Gabriel 4 days ago 0 replies      
Until when people are going to die in the name of religion?
caycep 4 days ago 0 replies      
can he be extradited to canada to avoid this sentence?
jk5sj7 4 days ago 1 reply      
Is there a chance he was a spy? I ask because there are other Iranians who have been arrested (and sentenced to death) for espionage when visiting Iran from overseas.
Investment Firm Y Combinator Goes on Offensive Against Hollywood nytimes.com
360 points by invisiblefunnel  2 days ago   91 comments top 19
ajb 2 days ago 2 replies      
I think what we need to work on is improving the political clout of engineers, not destroying hollywood. We've won this one (I hope) but it took rather extreme measures. Blacking out wikipedia isn't something which can be done every time congress threatens to do something stupid. It's a bit like going on strike - a negative act which can turn people against us if overused. We need mechanisms which can influence politics on a day-to-day level, so we don't need to do these last-ditch operations.

Nevertheless, defeating SOPA is hugely significant, because it shows that we CAN be politically effective. Politics can operate as a kind of nonviolent intimidation: if our opponents have the reputation of being politically effective, and our group has the reputation of being politically ineffective, individuals think it's not worth their time trying to influence politics.

Take software patents. Whenever this comes up, there are always gloomy posts saying that we will never defeat the patent lobby. This perception deters everyone from trying to.

EFF does a good job. But I think more of us need to be active as individuals, on a day to day basis rather than just when the trumpet sounds like this. Suppose there was a website where you could sign a pledge which said: "I will spend 1/2 hour a week working against internet censorship". and then provided stack-overflow-like facilities whereby activists could suggest useful actions and vote on which are the best; and collect data on which arguments seemed most effective. Not only would this make us more effective, it would declare that we were a force to be reckoned with.

Anyone up for making such a website?

jcampbell1 2 days ago 4 replies      
In the risk of being down voted to hell, this whole thing seems completely misguided to me. I love the product that hollywood produces. I love great movies and great TV. I frankly think "The Wire" is the best example of story telling I know of. I can think of nothing that silicon valley has produced that even comes close. If Zynga disappeared tomorrow, I could care less, and Hollywood and Zynga are both selling entertainment. Zynga's entertainment value is less than worthless to me. I hope hollywood continues to be a massively successful industry in the hope that the next David Simon is created.
mekoka 2 days ago 1 reply      
The project has an objective find an alternative to Hollywood. But like everything else, baby steps are in order. I don't know why it is assumed that a beta solution should ship with the ability to produce "Avatar" caliber productions.

When it comes to technology, I'm optimistic that it has almost limitless potential to revolutionize. My instinct tells me though that a startup aimed at competing against Hollywood doesn't have to be about inventing alternate forms of entertainment, but rather to work at optimizing on alternate means of production and distribution of the already successful form of entertainment. Recent efforts with other media have shown that most optimizations are about cutting out as much unnecessary intermediary layers as possible.

I'm convinced that a number of people currently working within the Hollywoodian system are unhappy with the present arrangements and I would not be surprised if a few were to come out the woodwork because of this YC invitation. Their expertise will be essential, because if my guess is correct, I think that a large majority of people on HN are complete ignorami when it comes to making a movie or a tv show. We're more consumers and critics than we are creators or producers of such material.

Another thing would be to look at what currently exist that tries to spearhead such alternate efforts. Is it successful? What are the problems? What has been tried? Where's the data?

First, let's ask the people who currently work on the fringe of Hollywood how they're doing it.

ajhit406 2 days ago  replies      
What hollywood has going for it, is a track-record of executing on the operations behind producing movies that make money.

People who invest in movies invest for the same reasons all of us invest in anything-- to make money.

Hollywood is a business, albeit one rooted in entertainment, but let's face it-- many artists are also just in it for the money.

I don't think our world view of "entertainment" is going to shift the way that YC suggested in it's call for action. I think most of us (unfortunately) are still going to want to watch movies like Transformers 3 at a $200 million budget than a $1million dollar indie flick.

So, once we've recognized that uprooting involves figuring out how to finance movie production instead of shifting the realm of entertainment (at least, for our generation, perhaps future generations will just want to watch WOW and starcraft online), then we're getting somewhere.

Unfortunately, figuring out a way to finance a film that costs tens or hundreds of millions to produce is a pretty tricky endeavor.

Still, it will be pretty awesome when Brad Pitt signs onto his first crowd-sourced flick =)

ck2 2 days ago 0 replies      
It's ironic Hollywood itself WAS a group of rogue startups, just over 100 years ago.

But here's the thing - you can probably make a dent but "killing it" ?

Wouldn't that be like making professional sports obsolete?

There is just too much money and organization and you are never going to get all the fans to try something else instead and stay with it.

waterlesscloud 2 days ago 0 replies      
Relevant- Hollywood tries new online network for connecting established filmmakers with investors.


jezclaremurugan 2 days ago 0 replies      
Or how about a way to fix the congress and the election process? A startup to provide information on the promises kept/broken, campaign financing, how much someone is influenced by lobbyists etc, so that only people who can be trusted get to vote on these issues. I think having politicians who can be trusted, who are informed, is more important. The recent blackouts swayed so many of them, but we can't do this every time. Some dashboard kind of thing, to let them know what their constituents want would be very useful for them, since I'm afraid they dont read opinion polls...
eck 2 days ago 4 replies      
I am sort of surprised that pg chose movies rather than music. Movies are hard. You need a lot of things to make a movie. I liked Avatar. You can't do that kind of thing on the cheap. Actors, sites, makeup, lighting, special effects, etc. For music, you need the band, which are essentially founders from an equity standpoint, and own their own instruments already since they know how to play them. You need like $1000 of recording gear and some dude to hit the "record" button.

Eventually movies will be democratized, but killing the RIAA/iTunes cabal seems like the obvious first step.

powertower 2 days ago 1 reply      
If you want to get rid of Hollywood, there is only one way to do it...

Start funding shows, movies, and productions.

Or figure out how to get 100MM people (or more) subscribed at $10/month (or more) to check-mark which shows and movies they want created. Then use the revenue from that to make the production.

Maybe even make the process completely democratic, where actors (known, and unknown) can send in their auditions and you get to vote on it. Then use YouTube or NetFlix for distribution, and provide downloads.

There is more to it than the above, but that pretty much cuts the studios off, and Hollywood in general, at the knees, and gives control to the consumers.

frankydp 2 days ago 1 reply      
It is so very true that financing is the real issue here.
thret 2 days ago 0 replies      
“Such ridiculous, destructive bills should never even pass committee review,” Mr. Arment wrote. The real problem, he added, is “the MPAA's buying power in Congress,”

The real problem is that money has buying power in Congress. Money shouldn't buy votes. I don't know what the solution is but I'm fairly sure that's the problem.

pentae 2 days ago 0 replies      
Am I the only one who believes that this notion of 'piracy stealing jobs' is simply a catalyst for Rupert Murdoch and his billionaire friends who collectively own this industry to personally control the Internet? This is absolutely a power struggle. They want to control our information, like they always have--look at Fox news.

As more and more people switch to online sources of entertainment, their industry is simply being diluted by Youtube's, Hulu's, Reddit, HackerNews and the Apple App Store.

So in their dying breaths, they are spending $100 million a year trying to take control of the very industry that is diluting their power over our information and their control of our minds. It sounds very George Orwellian, but I mean really.. have you seen Fox news? It's a parody of itself.

Rupert Murdoch tried his best to have a go at the online industry with Myspace and we all know how well that turned out for him, so I guess the self-professed billionaire tyrant figures if he can't beat them, why not just try and own them?

phzbOx 2 days ago 0 replies      
Woa, that went huge fast. I mean, every startups is an offensive against something already existing, no? Yes, you can have an original idea but more often than not, it's based on something existing and enhancing it in some ways.
vellum 2 days ago 1 reply      
Does getting rid of our Old Entertainment Overlords really matter, if our New Entertainment Overlords are going to be doing the same thing? As long as one group of people is getting rich in an industry, the temptation is always there to start rigging the rules in your favor by working the refs. Look at the current mess we have with patents. Disrupting Hollywood is great, but we should also innovate by coming up with new ways to discourage and punish companies from attempting things like SOPA.
chaostheory 2 days ago 2 replies      
How much money do indy film makers need for a minimum viable product? How can we help them bring it to an audience and make money?
signalsignal 1 day ago 0 replies      
Bookmark this article and remember this date, as YCombinator has altered its focus and embarked on this political venture. Once it had worked hard to stay clear of political entanglements, now it dives wholeheartedly into the grift of politics. No one play politics and plays clean, not even angel investors.
jasonabelli 2 days ago 1 reply      
I don't believe we can blame the politicians for campaign finance corruption. It is our own complacency that has allowed this system to take a firm root in our government. How can you blame or get mad at one of our representatives for playing the game we make/allow them to play. I guess what I am saying is if you can't get elected unless you use the corrupt campaign financing system that we allow to be in place how can we be upset when our elected officials are a pawn to the system?
omarchowdhury 2 days ago 0 replies      
When all is said and done, more is said than done.
bane 2 days ago 0 replies      
Engineers love to solve problems. Hollywood has become a problem.
Html5please html5please.us
345 points by cleverjake  14 hours ago   30 comments top 21
sushi 13 hours ago 2 replies      
Nice work. However I'd suggest you reduce the focus on search box (probably even remove it) . It's not working for most searches and is taking far too much attention. I probably would have left the page, had I not scrolled down by chance.

You might also want to add new input attributes like number, date, time and search etc.

samwillis 12 hours ago 1 reply      
I prefer http://caniuse.com/ as there is far less scrolling and a better brake down of browser support. It doesn't suggest polyfills and shims though and this one does.
ender7 11 hours ago 0 replies      
This site is great not only for its recommendations, but also as a list of cool things that I didn't know about but may want to use.
TomGullen 2 hours ago 0 replies      
Great work! And thank you for linking to our blog post (http://www.scirra.com/blog/44/on-html5-audio-formats-aac-and...) in the Audio tag!
pbhjpbhj 6 hours ago 0 replies      
I hadn't heard of the term polyfill before (despite having used them) ... just means providing browser specific code to patch the renderer for the lack of an otherwise supported feature.

It was the first thing I searched for on-site, didn't leave me any the wiser.

eg http://remysharp.com/2010/10/08/what-is-a-polyfill/

cleverjake 14 hours ago 0 replies      
highace 11 hours ago 1 reply      
Perhaps include a brief explanation as to what each feature does or is for so trips to google aren't as necessary?
ErikRogneby 8 hours ago 1 reply      
A link to the W3C spec or MDN page for each tag/feature would be a nice addition.
derleth 9 hours ago 0 replies      
It scrolls really slowly and clicking the titles doesn't do anything.
gerbera 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Very useful, thanks!
tnorthcutt 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Some formatting issues on (my) mobile (EVO 4G, Android 2.2, stock browser). The small text (html, css, api, js) next to each feature gets cut off some when in portrait mode.
MatthewPhillips 13 hours ago 0 replies      
Calc() is going to be a killer feature when it gains support on iOS and Android. It seems to me that a polyfill should be possible.
mattadams 5 hours ago 1 reply      
How about "please don't use stuff that makes rendering horrifically slow on relatively modern hardware?"
estel 12 hours ago 0 replies      
I love the site, and can see myself using it in the future.
It'd be great if you could get Back behaviour working as expected, though.
supar 4 hours ago 0 replies      
This page represents everything I hate about "HTML5" so far: flashy for no reason, slow as hell and for all for very little content.
dazbradbury 12 hours ago 0 replies      
Thanks! Could come in handy when I start to look at cross browser compatibility at our start-up. Have been debugging issues solely in Chrome/Firefox to ensure I don't kill myself with IE issues prematurely.
abhisec 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Wow, this should be your one and only starting point for anything which starts with HTML5. Kudos to the team, great job guys, makes life lot easier for everyone.
kylebrown 4 hours ago 0 replies      
I was expecting to see examples/demos when clicking each feature (hint hint).
vilius 10 hours ago 0 replies      
It is becoming hard to keep up. Sites like this shows that the pace of HTML5 is incredible. And since with every new feature introduced there are hundred ways to use it, we can just guess what the web will look like after a year.
digitallimit0 9 hours ago 0 replies      
In Chrome, Windows 7 the CSS3 circles in the background shift around when you highlight anything or expand one of those info boxes.
phalasz 12 hours ago 0 replies      
Useful site.

Will definitely use it in the future to look up features.

MPAA lied to Congress about the jobs number thebestpageintheuniverse.net
335 points by nextparadigms  3 days ago   37 comments top 15
malandrew 3 days ago 5 replies      
AFAICT, the statistics in this infographic only lists people involved with theaters and cinemas. I didn't see any categories that addressed people that perform jobs like actors, lighting and special effects, props, costumes, writers, directors, etc.

To have an honest discussion on this debate we need to stop talking about raw job numbers lost in one industry and instead talking about:

(1) net job losses and gains
(2) discounted by the number of jobs that are likely to be eliminated due to changes in consumption patterns and increased productivity (read: automation) in those industries.

The whole debate about job losses is dishonest if you don't accept the fact that change happens.

This isn't HN quality material. Give us deep analyses instead of a poorly made and misleading info graphic.

jcromartie 3 days ago 0 replies      
Not to mention the rather dubious claim that puts millions of jobs at risk. If piracy were going to eliminate any jobs, then they'd already be gone, as piracy is easily within reach for nearly everybody that would otherwise be buying movies.

That is to say, if you can afford $30 Blu-ray movies and a player, or going out for a $50 trip to the theatre, you surely have a high speed internet connection.

freejack 3 days ago 2 replies      
The infographic glosses over an important point - many of the production jobs are contract and as far as I could tell, not included in the job count. I wouldn't rely on this as an indication that the MPAA lied although I wouldn't hesitate to say they "exaggerated" for sure. :-)
marknutter 3 days ago 1 reply      
Everyone with half a brain know that those jobs numbers are pulled out of thin air. Only problem is that there are a lot of people out there with less than half a brain.
joeybaker 3 days ago 1 reply      
Actually, it's interesting to do the math a different way. Based on Senator Reid's statement earlier today, Congress believes that

> Counterfeiting and piracy cost the American economy billions of dollars and thousands of jobs each year, with the movie industry alone supporting over 2.2 million jobs

Doing that math, for every 1000 jobs lost, the MPAA looses 0.045% of it's workers. So "thousands" could mean as much as what… 5,000 " (2.25%) of their workforce?

How are we wasting Congress's time!?

thebigshane 3 days ago 0 replies      
I'm okay with this instance but I really don't want to see a habit of linking directly to images. I assume we did this time because this image was an update to an existing post already on HN (front page yesterday) [http://maddox.xmission.com/]
gwern 3 days ago 0 replies      
stretchwithme 3 days ago 0 replies      
All sorts of things become more efficient over time. Less people are employed in accomplishing them as technology is deployed.

This is not a bad thing. It is the reason we have the standard of living that we have.

So waving a jobs number around as a justification for something is somewhat dubious. What matters is the benefit derived for the cost of doing it.

If something were invented that healed all illness instantaneously, health care would be over as an industry. But the resources freed up would be spent on other things, with jobs in those areas increasing.

The same thing happened when we automated farming, manufacturing, basket weaving. Its how an economy evolves.

jemfinch 3 days ago 0 replies      
Pardon, but do you really think the government is taking the MPAA seriously because of its claims and not its members wallets and Washington friendships?
georgieporgie 3 days ago 1 reply      
Assuming this is correct, there is an obvious issue: is the movie industry employing a lot of low-skilled people who would be jobless if tech were favored?

Flagged for being really low quality, anyway.

snowwrestler 3 days ago 0 replies      
A large portion of the work in the TV and film industries are not wage or salary jobs, they are contract gigs.
scrollbar 3 days ago 0 replies      
Could this be the only serious thing ever created by Maddox? His new homepage header is more like the Maddox I remember though: "I hope SOPA PASSES. Update: it didn't :("
deepkut 2 days ago 0 replies      
It brings me joy to my heart to see Maddox on here after not having been to his site in 7 years.
ruswick 2 days ago 0 replies      
The MPAA lied. Big surprise.
Zarathust 3 days ago 0 replies      
Imputability? Close to 0
Joel Spolsky's Totally Fair Method to Divide Up The Ownership of Any Startup. onstartups.com
328 points by hartleybrody  3 days ago   90 comments top 18
autarch 3 days ago  replies      
Here's the thing about each layer after the founders owning 10%. In his example, layer 2 (first employees) consists of 5 people, each of whom own 2%. Those employees probably took a pretty significant pay cut to work at this startup.

Let's say a programmer who could make $120,000 a year joins the startup at a $70,000 salary. The next year it gets bumped up to $85,000, and then the year after $95,000.

After three years that programmer has now forgone $110,000 in income. If the company sells the programmer has to earn at least that much back (and we're ignoring lost opportunities from not having the money). So the company has to sell for $5.5 million dollars.

And of course, the programmer may have worked way more hours than she would have at that $120,000 hour job. Let's assume she average 50 hours a week. In any sane world she would earn 25% more for that amount of work. So if we value her time based on her possible $120k salary, the sale needs to deliver $200,000 to her to be worthwhile.

Now we're looking at a $10 million dollar sale.

Oh, and that's assuming that the company doesn't have investors with preferred shares who will take a 3x return. So maybe the sale really needs to be $15 million just to get that $200,000 back. And of course many sales are not all in cash, so maybe she just gets stock in some other company, and that stock may not even be liquid.

All of this assumes that there is an exit as opposed to a bankruptcy.

She's gambling on an amazing exit (not necessarily Google, but something like VMWare buying Zimbra for $100 million. That happens, but it's pretty damn rare.

All of this is compounded by the fact that for the founders, a smallish ($5-20 million exit) is entirely worthwhile. They walk away with a few million dollars each.

Early startup employees get completely and utterly screwed. I'd never consider being one of these employees again unless I was offered a lot more than 2%. I think a fairer number might %10. But really, if you're willing to take that much risk, you might as well just be a founder. That's where the real rewards are.

raganwald 3 days ago 1 reply      
As he points out, most people feel that being treated fairly is the most important thing (this has more to do with not being demotivated by an unfair split than being motivated by the equity itself). The beauty of this kind of post is that once it achieves a certain level of notoriety, it automatically becomes “fair” in everyone's mind.

For example a new employee comes on board. You explain, “We use the Joel method for allocating and vesting equity.” Oh! Great! That's fair...

johngalt 3 days ago 1 reply      
Try to avoid getting bogged down in 'fairness'. If your startup makes a nice exit, chances are that someone will get more money than they 'deserve' (hardly ever you), and someone will get less money than they 'deserve' (almost always you). Alternatively you could spend all your time fighting to make it 'fair', and end up with a fair slice of zero because your startup failed. Keep this in mind when choosing co-founders as well. If your college roomate says he doesn't want to share the electric bill equally because his lights are off more often than yours; what will he be like when there is real money on the table?

Go ahead and negotiate equity with the goal of maximizing your absolute monetary return. If fighting over $100k in equity costs you $200k of lost opportunities, you are not winning.

biot 3 days ago 0 replies      
alain94040 3 days ago 1 reply      
Mandatory link: the co-founder equity calculator http://foundrs.com/calculator

Because I don't always agree with Joel on this. By the way, the recommended way to use this calculator is that each co-founder tries it separately. Then compare notes.

Timothee 3 days ago 3 replies      
I know it's a back-of-the-envelop affair, but one thing I'm a bit unclear is that hiring is not done in batch in January.

So, how do you separate your stripes?

In his example, employee #4 gets 250 shares, while employee #5 gets 50. But in reality, you won't hire the 4 employees at the exact same time, and the next 20 a year later. It will be spread out over time.

I'm sure it's possible to think up a more continuous function for spreading the shares with a similar approach. (but I'm wondering if that's not what already happens somewhat naturally with offer negotiations…)

brador 3 days ago 3 replies      
Solution I personally use and has yet to fail: Auction system trading monthly wage packet vs. unit equity.

It just works, and by it's very nature is fair, everyones happy.

wjessup 3 days ago 0 replies      
Two points:

1. It's not always about the salary for employees. Some people just don't have the DNA to work at the type of company who gives the 120k salary ( assuming large-co ). They like small companies, being empowered, and all of the other benefits of being part of a team building something. They expect to get 70k and not recoup the difference because they consciously "buy" the lifestyle with the difference in pay. They are driven by the passion of the founder and want to be involved in building "something big". They can't miss the chance to get this experience that would take years in a big company.

This type of employee sees equity in two parts: First as an emotional connection that they're working on something they "own" and second as the dream of a potential payout that gives them the vision / hope of a great future. Both are important emotional motivators that enable the team to gather round a vision and kick-ass nights and weekends to make something valuable.

A startup employee who says, "4%, so you need to sell at 15m or i'm out of here…" is the same person who says they should pay less for electricity because they didn't use as many lights as you. That employee shouldn't be choosing to work at startup A because they offered offered 5k more salary and 1% more equity than startup B. Which one are they passionate about? Where do they want to spend their life for the next few years? The equity is just gambling.

2. Not all founders will share the risk equally even if they all work full-time, quit their jobs, etc.

Scenario A: Founder A is a serial entrepreneur with a few M in the bank while Founder B is an engineer who needs a paycheck. Does Founder A give B 50% or does he just pay him for his work as employee #1?

Scenario B: Founder A doesn't take salary from the company but has a consulting gig that pays 10k/month and takes ~4/hrs a week. Founder B is wealthy and doesn't take salary but doesn't need to spend 4-8 hours a week doing "other obligations" and says Founder A isn't dedicated.

Things get more complex once people become serial entrepreneurs.

xarien 3 days ago 0 replies      
Here's my totally fair method of dividing up the ownership. Talk it out with your co-founders. Whichever cut is chosen at that discussion is fair. Why? Because it was discussed and not proposed..... Furthermore, because it was agreed upon.
Jun8 3 days ago 4 replies      
"What if one of the founders doesn't work full time on the company? Then they're not a founder. In my book nobody who is not working full time counts as a founder."

This point, which I fully agree, seems to generate a lot of comments. When he landed on Gibraltar in 71, Tariq ibn Ziyad (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tariq_ibn_Ziyad) immediately burned his ships and gave a speech to his men starting with: "Oh my warriors, whither would you flee? Behind you is the sea, before you, the enemy. You have left now only the hope of your courage and your constancy." The point is, if you don't have this sort of desperate courage, most probably your startup won't succeed. And you cannot do that while holding on to your day job and salary.

johnkchow 2 days ago 0 replies      
At my startup, we have talked about this issue several times about how we can fairly compensate employees for their contributions to the company. Our company is a bit different in that we have a lot of young employees who are eager to learn and believe in the vision rather than people who maximizes reward and minimizes risk. Because of our employee makeup, we're adopting a revenue sharing plan. In my eyes, that's as fair as you can get: getting a ton of experience with the latest technologies for a temporary cut in pay. As a lot of commenters have said, it really depends on your situation, but I believe the reward is potentially great if you're a young engineer who's seeking a long-term reputation as a good programmer.

(And for those of you who think I am mad, my company is great in that it's fun, the work is extremely challenging yet exciting, and the vision aligns with my own personal vision. It's my dream job.)

radikalus 3 days ago 0 replies      
I think it's totally reasonable that, if one founder is putting a significant amount of capital at risk, he should hold a higher share of the company going forward.

I would think that dividing things equally really only makes sense for pretty lean startups.

I'm not sure I really see the point in obsessing over how "fair" the deal you're getting is -- it's not like there's a basket of equivalent startups you're deciding between. Ultimately, your opinion of the EV of the particular business seems likely to trump obsessing over a few hundred basis points of ownership. (At least that's how I justify to myself not being an "equal" partner)

bri3d 3 days ago 0 replies      
I especially like this because it flattens series / preference. There's no "Series FF"-style shenanigans where founders can convert and cash out in later rounds while their VCs hold out for a fanciful exit, leaving employees high and dry, and there's no opportunity for broken preferred/common conversion that lets VCs exit with a much better deal than their founders or employees get - everyone owns the same shares.

Sadly, because it actually aligns VCs, founders, and employees in the same pool, I don't see this being accepted by very many investors.

fady 3 days ago 0 replies      
good post, but most cannot afford to pay them out-of-pocket for their time (nor do they expect that), and we're all approaching this as a project we'll do on our nights and weekends, right?

isn't "vesting" traditionally determined as "in service" with the company, ie: full-time employment?

side projects are a flake factory. everybody is "busy." you split 50-50 w/ some guy and then he disappears for 6 months. you're pretty pissed.

logn 1 day ago 0 replies      
so are these numbers accurate? is he saying employee 50 should get .7%?
jean_valjean 3 days ago 5 replies      
I disagree with his assessment that it's fair for some founders to take cash now and others to receive only IOUs payable later.

The second group face not only a time value of money problem, but they're also accepting the risk of default (which is fairly likely in startups). They deserve substantial additional compensation for their willingness to leave capital in the company during early growth. One potentially fair way to do this would be to give them convertible notes with the same terms as whatever your first external angels get.

After all, leaving $100,000 in the startup's bank account has the same net effect as drawing the salary, then investing $100,000 in the startup.

plumber12 3 days ago 1 reply      
There is a company in India which has not taken any outside funding and doing great business so far. There are many employees who has been toiling there for 10-15 years with expectations that they will become rich sooner as company started doing really well with all hardwork. Recently, one fine day "the founder" in his internal memo says that you can call me the super rich. All shares has been distributed to himself and his family members and now all employees are monkeys with hand full of peanuts. Wake up with shattered dreams.
Guess who is this company?
Yes, you are right, its ZOHO. Period.
Tichy 3 days ago 3 replies      
What is an IOU?
Microsoft keeps it old-school with a pricey text adventure game arstechnica.com
319 points by robin_reala  3 days ago   55 comments top 15
phren0logy 3 days ago 1 reply      
It's a pleasure to see such straight-faced parody. Bravo to Ars, although I was kind of sad to see them include the disclaimer at the end for those who don't get the joke.

As someone who prefers to develop on Mac and Linux, I'm still a bit jealous of F# and the IDE integration it enjoys. And yes, I know about MonoDevelop.

Hominem 3 days ago 3 replies      
The reaction to VS achievements is kind of interesting, people seem to be taking it seriously, at least as some sort of symbol. Who knows, maybe it is the thin edge of the knife that will lead to the "gamification" of programming. At any rate,anyone who uses VS and C# with any frequency probably understands it to be tongue in cheek. I don't think I will change my coding practices to get achievements... Well maybe I will, I've just got to get those last two!
bad_user 3 days ago 1 reply      
I sometimes love Microsoft. This is one of those cases.

Software development tools, especially those meant for the enterprise, are sometimes too serious, boring and soul-sucking. Turning it into an RPG game is genius if you do it right: not only do you have some innocent fun, but it might make you learn some good practices in the process.

Zirro 3 days ago 5 replies      
Downvote me if you feel like it, but I'm honest when I say I enjoyed this article, and the way it was written. Sometimes, it just doesn't have to be fully serious to make a point.
jgw 3 days ago 1 reply      
As someone who thinks "Photopia" is one of the greatest pieces of fiction I've ever read, I got a kick out of this article. Nicely done.
JadeNB 3 days ago 2 replies      
I wonder if whatever censor approved the final headline didn't notice the URL, or just thought it wouldn't offend anyone?
soofaloofa 3 days ago 0 replies      
It's not meant to be taken seriously.
jmilloy 3 days ago 0 replies      
Of course, one reason this works so well is that programming really can be like a game. Growing up, I didn't play console/pc games, I wrote code!
mjwalshe 3 days ago 2 replies      
Do you get a bonus achievement for unwinding your loops gwbasic style to avoid the memory leak.
nluqo 3 days ago 1 reply      
When did ars technica become The Onion?
spdegabrielle 2 days ago 0 replies      
Humor aside, is MS trying to shoot themselves in the foot. Why drive potential devs away with a crippled free version, and outrageously expensive full version.
nsxwolf 3 days ago 1 reply      
I found this article to be so abstract it could apply to any IDE. XCode, Eclipse, whatever. It didn't specifically address any of VS 2010's actual shortcomings.
hiccup 3 days ago 0 replies      
Pretty sure a Social Gaming plugin is part of TextMate 2 also.
waldes 3 days ago 0 replies      
Haha. I am embarrassed how long it took me to catch on.
a9 3 days ago 0 replies      
Text-based. That's why they call it "Visual". Perhaps it would be nicer to have a text-free touchscreen with big buttons?
Every Linux screen locker bypassed with a keypress seclists.org
312 points by Jonhoo  4 days ago   88 comments top 22
tmhedberg 4 days ago 0 replies      
For Arch Linux users, a patch has already been applied [1] to the xkeyboard-config package in [extra] this morning which corrects this issue by disabling the problematic "debug keys" in the X keymap. Update your system and restart X, and the issue should go away.

[1] http://mailman.archlinux.org/pipermail/arch-general/2012-Jan...

drivebyacct2 4 days ago 2 replies      
Just reminds me of more usability/security concerns in GNOME.

If you have any popup dialog box open anywhere, it completely inhibits the screensaver. Try it. Open Rhythmbox and open the volume slider and walk away from your computer. Open Chrome and open the Google Voice popopen box. Your computer will not go to sleep. Also, it breaks mouse focus and more. The GNOME developers don't seem to care at all.

stewbrew 4 days ago 5 replies      
The headline is simply wrong.

"So from a superficial analysis anything since could be

That's not _every_ linux screen locker. E.g. ubuntu 10.04 isn't affected.

naner 4 days ago 3 replies      
I don't understand the key presses used. Is the "Multiply" key the asterisk (Shift+8)?

And also the + key on the numpad works?

I was unable to get slock to crash, using a US laptop keyboard. :/

zokier 4 days ago 1 reply      
How did this happen? I mean, I understand the debug key combinations, but how did they get mapped to actual keys? The commit says To use these, you need to modify your XKB maps.
rbanffy 4 days ago 1 reply      
Since it's been demonstrated not every Linux screen locker is vulnerable, how about changing the title?
CPlatypus 4 days ago 0 replies      
I tried this on my very recently installed Fedora 16 desktop at home, and it worked. All of my applications were accessible, alt-tab and other selection methods worked, etc. The only thing that was missing was the panel at the top, and I couldn't be bothered figuring out how to bring it back so I just rebooted. Good thing I don't rely on that feature too much.
lucian1900 4 days ago 1 reply      
Doesn't appear to work on Ubuntu Oneiric. Perhaps because it's running LightDM?
cookiecaper 4 days ago 1 reply      
Man, that is pretty crazy. Ctrl+Alt+* and the whole screensaver goes away just like that and everything on the workstation is accessible. Glad this vulnerability is getting more attention; I think it's obvious the feature should only be enabled in debug builds.
mrinterweb 4 days ago 1 reply      
Just tried it on Ubuntu 11.10. Did not work.
mrb 4 days ago 0 replies      
Of course, if you think you are safe because your keyboard does not have a numeric keypad: you are not. The attacker can just plug in a USB keyboard with a numpad and use it. Yay plug-n-play!
Adaptive 4 days ago 1 reply      
I often use physlock from X. It drops you to a virtual console and locks from there.


Dylan16807 4 days ago 5 replies      
While this may be a 'debug' feature it sounds useful for when a fullscreen app locks up. If not these key combinations, what are you intended to do in such a situation?
patricklynch 4 days ago 1 reply      
Doesn't appear to work on Linux Mint 11 (katya)
Tinned_Tuna 4 days ago 1 reply      
I attempted to replicate this (attempted being the operative word, I could've been doing it wrong) with Ubuntu 11.10 and a GB keyboard layout. It didn't seem to work.

Key combos:

Ctrl+Alt+* (num pad)

Both with numlock on and off.

zalew 4 days ago 1 reply      
Just tested on Debian sid. Damn, it worked.
NanoWar 4 days ago 3 replies      
Very interesting. How do you find things like this?
clebio 4 days ago 3 replies      
For some reason, I read 'Android' when I scanned this headline. But since Android is a linux variant, would this be possible? My phone doesn't have a physical keyboard, but maybe the Asus Transformer with the attachable keyboard, for example?
Ubersoldat 4 days ago 1 reply      
Doesn't work in Ubuntu Maverick with X.Org 1.7.5
literalusername 4 days ago 1 reply      
Never use an X11 screen locker. Use vlock -san. Problem solved, and several other problems with it.
shmerl 4 days ago 1 reply      
Posted workaround doesn't really work.
Amazon studios amazon.com
306 points by garrydanger  1 day ago   80 comments top 17
FreakLegion 1 day ago 3 replies      
I'm disappointed in the shallow look people are giving this. You can't just read the marketing copy and take it at face value. Amazon Studios is actually pretty terrible for creatives, as many successful screenwriters et al. have been pointing out for over a year now:



Since those were written things have improved slightly, but anyone thinking about participating should still have serious reservations:


ashleyw 1 day ago 1 reply      
So they'll pay you $200,000 for a theatrical release (but regardless of if your movie is chosen, you can't sell your work anywhere else for 18 months because they've got exclusive rights to buy it…all without giving you a penny), and you only get an extra $400,000 if it makes $60,000,000 at the box office?

It sounds like a cool concept, but sounds like a very lousy deal. Or am I missing something?

DrJokepu 1 day ago 4 replies      
I am a little concerned that such a democratic creative process will lead to the redditification of motion picture; only kumbaya-style movies that make you warm inside, approved by the hive mind will ever be made, while controversial pieces of works that ask questions or raise issues most people are not prepared to listen to yet will never be realised. Which would be a shame because that's one of the important roles of contemporary art in our society.
pdenya 1 day ago 3 replies      
Crazy timing. Could be a first step towards the things mentioned in http://ycombinator.com/rfs9.html
trobertson 1 day ago 2 replies      

    > What is a test movie?
> An Amazon Studios test movie should be an inexpensive, full-length movie
> that tells the whole story of the script in a compelling way, with very
> good acting and sound.

Somehow, I don't think this will work. "Make a movie, to make a movie" doesn't seem like an attractive offer.

I'm not a filmmaker, but from what I understand, it is much more convenient to send out a script than it is to produce and edit a movie, and then send that out. Going by what's presented in Jordan Mechner's "The Making of Prince of Persia" [1], sending out a script sounds very easy, and very common, and it sounds like the people who receive scripts will actually read them to determine if they're good. It sounds like there is a lot of professional feedback.

I don't see how Amazon Studios is going to improve on that, or even match it. Getting feedback from professionals is very different from getting feedback from Youtube junkies.

[1] http://jordanmechner.com/category/prince-of-persia/

easp 1 day ago 0 replies      
This is an interesting experiement.

It's been a long time since I really paid close attention to the movie industry, but I remember that one way money was raised, and risks shared, was in the divvying up of distribution rights (and or options on those rights) between domestic theatrical release, DVD sales, cable TV rights, and rights for same in overseas markets.

Amazon is in an interesting position in this regard, they are positioned to make money on physical and digital distribution to consumers through both individual sales and amazon prime subscriptions. They also make money on the home theater systems people use to consume this stuff. And, of course, they are getting into the eBook publishing business. Controlling the film rights to books gives them even more leverage over holywood.

It wasn't until now that I made the connection between the squeeze Amazon is putting on book publishers, and how much leverage that gives them over Hollywood. Good for amazon, but good for Apple too.

I also note that IMDB is an Amazon property, and that IMDB is both a way for consumers to discover media, but also it has made some headway in helpingsource the skills needed to make movies.

EGF 1 day ago 0 replies      
Creation (via this studios play) and distribution (via Prime) are making Amazon well positioned in the content wars.
paul9290 1 day ago 1 reply      
I've always wanted to write the following exposition and climax story.

Two strangers separately receive a note in the mail detailing how the other will die. The notes details the day and date of the strangers' deaths, an approximate location and a vague notion how it will happen. The notes provides small clues of their identities and thus both set out to id each other and prevent their deaths.

Ultimately, though, their quests to save one another ends in tragedy, as they mistakenly kill each other. Sorta you can't fight "Fate," type story.

Well if that sounds like a good idea for a movie or short-film I'd love to see it made

Edit: Offering script ideas (crowd-sourcing scripts) could possibly be a good "kill Hollywood," idea. Where the most popular crowd-sourced scripts get funded thru either KickStarter or Amazon Studios.

aditya 23 hours ago 1 reply      
I'm not sure if Amazon Studios represents real democratization of movie-making, or if Primer: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Primer_(film) does. Of course cult classics like Primer are few and far between, just like successful startups.
nicklovescode 1 day ago 0 replies      
Amazon's product introductions are like a mixture of Apple's product videos and Sesame Street
geuis 23 hours ago 0 replies      
Interesting until one reads to this part:

"To that end, we have established a first-look development deal with Warner Bros., the biggest movie studio in Hollywood."

I'll pass. No one should be making any deals with Hollywood anymore.

If this was Amazon's attempt to fund movies for its own distribution, that would be awesome. But it's not.

slig 1 day ago 1 reply      
> Get your movie made. The goal of Amazon Studios is to work with Hollywood to turn the best projects into major feature films.
robertp 23 hours ago 0 replies      
Does anyone in the comments actually have experience in working with agencies like CAA & William Morris besides watching Entourage?
It is hard to tell the full details & long term prospectives with Amazon studios but Hollywood is about 100x harder to work into compared to any online app or service. An online service you can build & market anywhere and it doesn't matter who you know. Hollywood is exact opposite, you can write it from anywhere but you need to be working in LA and be friends with plenty connected people and work with good agents, lawyers, management, etc.
jenius 22 hours ago 0 replies      
I can't believe there hasn't been a single comment on how ridiculously horrible the introduction video is. I honest to god cannot figure out if this is some absurd conspiracy or joke, but that video looks like it was produced by a middle schooler with an istockphoto account using imovie.

Am I retarded? Is this really a joke? I don't get it...

richcollins 21 hours ago 0 replies      
Sounds like its designed to feed into the existing system
oron 1 day ago 1 reply      
Amazon has got it's fingers in so many pies ...
and they all taste so good,
colinm 22 hours ago 0 replies      
Hmm, concentrate power into a single company? And you thought Holywood was bad?
Stallman: Facebook is Mass Surveillance rt.com
295 points by couchnaut  18 hours ago   143 comments top 10
jiggy2011 17 hours ago  replies      
I find it somewhat ironic that people like Stallman have battled for years to get so much FOSS out there.

What did we do with all this free software?
Used it to build things like facebook, google and various SaaS sites that not only tie our data into proprietary clouds but due to the nature of the GPL etc don't really have to share their code anyway.

What they have really achieved is to turn everything they touch into a commodity and moved the "value" of software elsewhere.

We seem to be moving to a world where most of our devices and the servers powering our apps will be running some form of Linux or BSD under the hood but we are actually more restricted than ever.

tezza 13 hours ago 4 replies      
I just don't see what the big deal is...

The set of information people publish on their own about themselves (like blogs) is almost exactly the same as the set of information they disclose via Facebook.

Anyone can datamine people's blogs for similar surveilance.


From Stallman's blog & email history on newsgroups I could work out:

  who he knows
what projects he participates in
his age
infer his sexual preference
infer his religion (may even be explicit there)
where he lives
where he was on any day (conference speaker history)

People shout and scream about themselves as often and loudly as they can.
Facebook is just the medium du jour.

Those concerned with privacy have oodles of crypto-tools to do so with.

It's just people can't be bothered. That's the root problem.

DanBC 17 hours ago 2 replies      
There are people who are uncomfortable about the intrusions of various websites, but who use those websites anyway. These people "just" need a better alternative to switch.

But I have no idea what to do about the people who just don't care.

For example, OKC recommended a person to me recently.

EDIT: Redacted a bit more.

She lists her blackberry pin; her facebook account; an email address; her cell / mobile phone number; and her twitter account.

That's enough information to find her profiles on a wide range of websites.

Craiggybear 4 hours ago 0 replies      
There are a lot of people here who don't seem to understand you can earn money and a good living with 'free' software.

The term 'free' is very misunderstood in this context. Its free as in freedom/free speech, not (necessarily) free as in beer.

Although sometimes (most times) its both. This doesn't stop you using it to earn a living. It allows you to freely use and modify it to your own purposes. Contrast that with non-free (i.e. locked, obfuscated and proprietary).

I've written freely available stuff that people have (never the less and willingly) paid me rather handsomely for the privilege of using or modding to their own needs. They didn't have to, but people can be inherently decent that way.

I could have made it entirely closed and I think I'd have made less out of it if I had. I would have had to market it for a start -- and that's a fucking headache. I'm not a salesman and don't want to be.

Anyhow, Stallman is 100% right. Everything he's been warning us about for years is already upon us. With much worse to come.

savramescu 17 hours ago  replies      
“The Anonymous protests for the most part work by having a lot of people send a lot of commands to a website, that it can't handle so many requests. This is equivalent of a crowd of people going to the door of a building and having a protest on the street. It's basically legitimate."

No it's not. This is just a few persons coming in buses and stopping the entry. If you want to equal it to protest then all the requests have to come from real people, not some bots.

I'm also not agreeing with this:
"I won't use the non-free software at all! I dedicate my effort to getting away from it! So if they stop making it " that would be great!"

This is ridiculous. I understand that the current IP legislation is a load of crap but trying to get ALL software to be free is absurd. How are developers going to live? How about groceries? Can I pay for that? Or that should be free as well?

lelele 4 hours ago 0 replies      
RMS: "Free software literally gives you freedom in the area of computing. It means that you can control your computing. It means that the users individually and collectively have control over their computing. And in particular it means they can protect themselves from the malicious features that are likely to be in proprietary software,"

Open-source, proprietary or not, gives you control over your computer compared to closed-source software. It's not free software versus proprietary software.

Free software goes beyond open-source, and besides safety gives you freedom.

ppod 16 hours ago 3 replies      
Is it true that sites with a facebook like button send the IP address of hits back to facebook?
VMG 17 hours ago 6 replies      
Except that it is completely voluntary.
dotemacs 17 hours ago 2 replies      
What has to be noted here is that this is published on Russia Today. From my understanding of it, it tries to offset the US crazies like Fox and its ilk...
majmun 17 hours ago 1 reply      
Stallmans reminds me of Ted Kaczynski unabomber. (no offence) similair world view, he doesn't care of inovation because probably thinks that it leads to more controlled society. both are Neo-Luddites. only Kaczynski was more radical in his actions. If you want more of the same I suggest you read unabomber manifesto http://editions-hache.com/essais/pdf/kaczynski2.pdf
How Can A Free Conference Call Be Free? feefighters.com
292 points by startupstella  11 hours ago   66 comments top 17
soult 6 hours ago 0 replies      
Reminds me of a very similar story from Austria.

Back story: Austria is one of the most competitive countries as far as mobile phone plans go. There were three big companies, A1 (previously state-owned, a bit similar to AT&T), One (now Orange, owned by French Telecom) and Max (now T-Mobile, owned by German Telecom). In 2003 a new company, Hutchinson 3 (branded as "Drei") emerged. Backed by (for a small country like Austria) seemingly unlimited money from Hutchison Whampoa they built a completely new network (again: Austria is pretty small). They only cared about getting customers and started a price dumping war with the other three players.

In 2007 Hutchison 3G introduced a new kind of mobile plan called Sixback. Because of the - in their opinion - high termination fees they offered 6 (Euro-)cents per minute on incoming calls from the three other providers. In Europe you don't pay for incoming calls like you do in America, but getting paid for incoming calls was new. The plan became quite popular, there have been reports of peoply having over two dozen SIM cards from other providers just so they could "load" their Sixback plan using the free minutes from the other plans and then transferring the money via a 0900 number. (0900 is the area code for phone sex and similar numbers where you pay a lot of money per minute and the receiver of the call receives most of that money).

Of course the other providers hated Hutchison 3 for that plan, but that quickly turned around when the regulation body lowered the termination fee, so that every Sixback call now loses money for Hutchison 3. They don't offer that plan anymore, but there are lots of customers who still have that plan and obviously refuse to be switched to a newer plan.

shad0wfax 8 hours ago 2 replies      
Interesting, I dint know that.

I had an interesting experience with ATT. I was into the 6 month of a 2year contract back in 2007. I wasn't using my phone much (non-iphone). But then I went on a road trip to Yellowstone, which included driving through ND, SD, MT and WY. During this 7 day trip, I was using my phone a lot (work + personal). The total amount of minutes I spent in those 7 days were way more than my usual monthly usage (in fact it ate into my rollover minutes as well).

After a few days from returning, I received a letter from ATT telling me that they could not afford me on their network for using so many minutes, as they had to pay their partner n/w in those states (not just major cities in those states). They wanted me to leave their network, in return they would let me have the phone (under contract for free).

I was happy to oblige as I wanted an iphone. I switched to Tmobile for a week and then went back to ATT again (iphone plan).

danso 11 hours ago 3 replies      
Pretty fascinating...the OP describes the regulation as "outdated"...but are there rural companies that depend on it? Or is it truly outdated and due for a change?
zr52002 6 hours ago 1 reply      
This type of scam is big business in rural Iowa (and I'm sure other areas).

I used to work in rural northwest Iowa. We had a "programmer" (to use it loosely) quit to work for a company who's sole purpose was to abuse this system.

They ran a "phone company" in a small town and then connected a big asterisk box at their local exchange to accept free conference calls. They then installed smaller asterisk boxes in other businesses that were a long-distance call away with for the sole purpose of keeping the lines coming into their conference box 95% full 24x7 with bogus calls from 5-45 minutes long.

jballanc 10 hours ago 7 replies      
Bear with me here, but it seems to me like this is a good argument for socialism.

Consider: why do termination fees exist? Clearly, as America was being wired with telephone service, the cost to run lines to rural areas was prohibitively expensive. So what's the capitalist/Randian thing to do? Well, charge more for phone service out there. If people can't afford it, then they'll move to where it is cheaper to have a phone line, right?

Except you have to consider why people would live in these rural areas to begin with. For a large number of individuals, they are probably farmers (or involved in food production). If they have to pay higher rates for phone lines, then they would have to raise the price of food to make living in rural areas viable. But there's obviously a really big incentive to the government and everyone that's not living in rural areas to not have the cost of food increase. So what does America do?

To remain somewhat loyal to pristine capitalist ideas, America decides that it's going to let competition and corporate interests resolve the issue, but to make things "fair", the government will put its finger on the scales, just a bit. Unfortunately, when you forget to take your finger off the scales, then you end up with AT&T spending $250mil unnecessarily!

Efficiency of the market, eh?

Of course, a more socialist-leaning country would've just had the government pay to install rural phone lines.

smoody 9 hours ago 1 reply      
I once read that this is how MagicJack makes most of their money as well.
stanleydrew 10 hours ago 1 reply      
This is all true. One technicality though is that Google Voice is not a VOIP solution (yet) which is why the fight with ATT over terminating rural calls is interesting.
srehnborg 11 hours ago 0 replies      
AT&T and Google Voice had a dispute over this a few years ago because AT&T must terminate all calls and GV was blocking calls to the freeconferencecall.com numbers.


steveh73 8 hours ago 1 reply      
A similar thing happened in New Zealand (and likely elsewhere) in the late 90's, before broadband became prevalent. There were a number of ISP's who provided free dial-up internet, because they made money from termination fees when the majority of people called from a large telco to their smaller one. Eventually the large telco reached a commercial agreement and the service was scrapped, but it was good while it lasted.
jakejake 7 hours ago 1 reply      
Getting rid of the regulation altogether seems like tossing out the baby with the bathwater. It seems like it would be possible to correct by removing the loophole of routing calls through a rural region that are not terminating at a resident of that actual region. I don't understand telephony enough to know whether that's a simple thing to detect or not, though.
biot 10 hours ago 0 replies      
timbre 3 hours ago 0 replies      
As VOIP becomes more common, I've found that some people consider it rude to use these free services. Things have shifted from a VOIP setup not being a proper phone because it can't connect with these numbers, to these numbers not being proper conferencing because VOIP users can't call them.
MichaelApproved 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Even though the high cost to setup the lines have been collected, it's still expensive to maintain these lines so some version of this needs to be in place.

My solution would be to figure out what it costs annually to maintain this and limit the fees imposed on other companies to this fee. At the end of the year you calculate the percentage of calls your company terminated to the area and pay that percentage of the fixed fee.

8ig8 10 hours ago 1 reply      
That explains why I can never connect using Vonage.

Thanks. I always wondered about this, but not enough to dig into the details. Interesting.

hiroprot 4 hours ago 2 replies      
So, given all this, why wouldn't AT&T offer a competing free conference service where they keep the termination fee?
danielson 4 hours ago 1 reply      
Related: Cameras May Open Up the Board Room to Hackers " NYTimes

< http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/23/technology/flaws-in-videoc... >

eli 11 hours ago 6 replies      
This seems like a good example of SEO-driven linkbait.

It's not quite spam -- the story is interesting, if not exactly breaking news -- but I'm pretty sure the main goal is to get inbound links to feefighters.com

Vim ported to iOS applidium.com
285 points by stevelosh  4 days ago   127 comments top 23
6ren 3 days ago 3 replies      
Vim is for coding. How does this work out on the iPad?

Does one edit remote files locally, and compile/run remotely? (the benefit is the editing feels instant - no keystroke latency.)

Or has Apple let up on the "no coding for you!" iPad/iPhone terms? (I thought they would eventually, once their dev environment is firmly established - and they'll have to, if/when they adopt iOS on their {lap,/desk}tops - but maybe today is not yet that day. iOS devices sell macs as dev machines)

0x0 4 days ago 1 reply      
Interesting that they actually exit on ":q", which is prohibited by the iOS Human Interface Guidelines: http://developer.apple.com/library/ios/#documentation/UserEx...

Also, ":Explore" and then "-", "-", "-"... works to browse the file system, or at least the parts allowed by the app sandbox

apaprocki 4 days ago 3 replies      
... and the one feature they don't list: iCloud .vimrc sync!
edanm 3 days ago 0 replies      
I've been wanting vim support on the iPhone for a while.

I actually think it's a big thing that would work well on the iPhone. The whole point of vim is that, with only a few keys, you can navigate anywhere you want extremely quickly. Most of the limitations of the iPhone are things like "can't see many keys at once", and "hard to go to specific lines by dragging your finger around the screen", etc. Vim on the iPhone can fix all that.

Haven't seen this app though, off to play with it. Hope they did a good job :)

toblender 3 days ago 0 replies      
Nice work. It would be nice to add a few extra keys like you were suggesting like "tab", "ctrl" and "escape". Maybe slide them down from the top when you swipe the edges.

Another comment, this looks great for editing a fresh file on the run, but it would be nice to ssh into a server with existing files.

Great effort!

cleverjake 4 days ago 3 replies      
I'm confused, how does one use the esc key without a keyboard?
its_so_on 3 days ago 1 reply      
ahahahahahahahahaha. This is hilarious. The author of vi says:

"It was really hard to do because you've got to remember that I was trying to make it usable over a 300 baud modem. That's also the reason you have all these funny commands. It just barely worked to use a screen editor over a modem. It was just barely fast enough. A 1200 baud modem was an upgrade. 1200 baud now is pretty slow.

9600 baud is faster than you can read. 1200 baud is way slower. So the editor was optimized so that you could edit and feel productive when it was painting slower than you could think. Now that computers are so much faster than you can think, nobody understands this anymore.

The people doing Emacs were sitting in labs at MIT with what were essentially fibre-channel links to the host, in contemporary terms. They were working on a PDP-10, which was a huge machine by comparison, with infinitely fast screens.

So they could have funny commands with the screen shimmering and all that, and meanwhile, I'm sitting at home in sort of World War II surplus housing at Berkeley with a modem and a terminal that can just barely get the cursor off the bottom line.

It was a world that is now extinct. People don't know that vi was written for a world that doesn't exist anymore - unless you decide to get a satellite phone and use it to connect to the Net at 2400 baud, in which case you'll realize that the Net is not usable at 2400 baud. It used to be perfectly usable at 1200 baud. But these days you can't use the Web at 2400 baud because the ads are 24KB."

source: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2003/09/11/bill_joys_greatest_g...

In other words, the PRIMARY design constraint with VI was how long it took to update a screen. All these keyboard modes and so on are about getting as little over the wire as possible while still having a full screenful to look at locally.

Sure, this idiom actually is very useful on a locally-running vi too (not to mention vi over an ssh), the keyboard commands are a powerful way to interface with the text.

But the idea of porting this to a machine that 1) will run vi locally (not on the remote machine through an SSH session), and 2) has no keyboard

is so funny it hurts! Still, A for Effort.

tambourine_man 4 days ago 3 replies      
What's the biggest advantage over SSHing to your server?
Is the interface optimized?

I mean, you're almost never offline these days, so local storage can't be it, right?

I suggest mapping 'jj' to ESC rather than '\'

superchink 4 days ago 3 replies      
How about file management? Anyone know how files are stored/accessed?
DrHankPym 4 days ago 2 replies      
Wow, the only thing missing now is Git / Github.
oacgnol 4 days ago 2 replies      
Awesome news! I was searching on Cydia the other day to see if there was a vim package available... but I'm definitely happy to see this.
kurrent 3 days ago 0 replies      
I'll check this out app out. I've tried using the touch screen keyboard on an ipad thru ssh and using vim. it was unbearable, to say the least.

i ended up getting an asus transformer prime that has a keyboard dock and the keys can be rebound to your like (esc, ctrl, etc) and it's the closest to the "real thing" experience i have found on a tablet

kylebrown 4 days ago 5 replies      
Yet another emacs/vim article, and I always look for an excuse to get excited but never can.

It seems that the speed at which I think/code is much slower than the speed at which I type. So I can't imagine that I would benefit from skills in emacs/vim-fu.

Is this preconception valid, or can anyone debunk?

hack_edu 3 days ago 2 replies      
Does anyone know what they keyboard skin/layout is on their splash page screenshots? Its definitely not stock.
nwest 4 days ago 2 replies      
"Unfortunately, without an escape key it's not possible to leave insert mode. That's why by default the backslash key (‘\') is mapped to the ‘Esc' key. You're free to overwrite this setting by unmapping the backslash key."

from http://applidium.com/en/applications/vim/support/

fpotter 4 days ago 0 replies      
If you don't feel like downloading it, here's a web-based live demo --


As the docs say, if you want to leave insert-mode, you have to use the '\' key since there's no ESC.

g3orge 4 days ago 2 replies      
I was always using "Prompt" to connect to an ssh server and then use vim there with an external keyboard. But that's a nice touch.
nerdfiles 3 days ago 0 replies      
One could use Prompt and the vi/m or whatever server she chooses.

I imagine _intuitive_ navigation through the FILE SYSTEM will come shortly.

huntaub 4 days ago 2 replies      
Does anyone know how this will go down after what happened with Applidium's attempt to port VLC?
wsxiaoys 3 days ago 0 replies      
I cannot wait for the port of NativeClient
platzhirsch 4 days ago 4 replies      
Does this make any sense without plugging an external keyboard?
nerdfiles 3 days ago 0 replies      
Pretty epic. Nothing more.

I think I'm crying.

zerostar07 3 days ago 0 replies      
Vim is an editor. What is there to edit in an ipad?
Fields medalist Tim Gowers: Elsevier " my part in its downfall gowers.wordpress.com
280 points by randomwalker  2 days ago   43 comments top 12
impendia 2 days ago 3 replies      
I am an academic mathematician (albeit one with significantly less clout than Gowers). A few comments on both the article and some of the other comments:

(1) I wish I could upvote this article 100 times. I am in complete agreement with Gowers. I published a couple of articles in Elsevier journals in grad school, because my advisor thought it would be important to get my first job, but I'm pretty confident I can avoid this from now on.

(2) There are free online-only journals, e.g. http://www.integers-ejcnt.org/, unfortunately they are not very prestigious. I don't know what can be done to remedy this.

(3) One commenter suggested that peer reviewers should be compensated, but I disagree. First of all, you don't really "sign up" to do it; typically editors pick someone they know and just ask them to referee. I do a fair bit of this. It is not an unproductive use of time, as keeping up with research literature and thinking critically about it is already part of our job.

In addition, we are paid in a somewhat unusual way; we get flat salaries (plus grants) and are expected to do "service" in addition to research and teaching. If refereeing paid substantial money, where other informal methods of participating in the mathematical community do not, I think this would lead to an odd system of incentives. For example, for me a referee report might well take anywhere between five minutes and twenty hours. What amount of compensation would be fair? And would there be pressure for more favorable reviews?

(Note that "informal methods of participating in the mathematical community do not pay" is only mostly true.)

Feel free to ask me questions.

randomwalker 2 days ago 0 replies      
Summary: Gowers outlines the extraordinarily oppressive business practices of academic publisher Elsevier, explains why they are able to continue to do so in spite of widespread anger amongst the community (collective action problem), and goes on to explain how we might be able to solve this problem by publicizing the actions of people who've taken a stand.
toyg 2 days ago 4 replies      
Considering the entire system of journals and papers is about reputation rather than profit (from what I understand, nobody in academia gets money from the publishing process), it's a prime candidate for disruption. If a small group of universities started publishing all their papers on an official website (maybe with an opportune system of ranking, to somehow reflect quality of the reviewing process and make it really equivalent to traditional journal publishing), then the incentives to publish in an Elsevier paper would disappear. The system could then grow as more universities join.

I'm surprised nobody has done it yet, there must be some stumbling block I'm not aware of.

nohat 2 days ago 0 replies      
This is quite important. The main lock in effect of a Elsevier journal is the impact factor. Researchers careers are made on the regard for their papers, and the most visible component of that is the citation rate. The academics who can afford to refuse to publish in Elsevier journals are the well known and well regarded ones. So getting the top academics - such as Gowers - to publicly disavow Elsevier is the first step.
rd108 2 days ago 1 reply      
The currently pending Research Works Act is a SOPA-like debacle that seeks to impede the free flow of scientific information to a degree previously unheard of. Thank you for lending your voice to stop this counter-productive madness.


zyfo 2 days ago 0 replies      
Tim Gowers is also the editor of the extraordinary mathematics companion Princeton Companion to Mathematics (http://www.amazon.com/Princeton-Companion-Mathematics-Timoth...)
6ren 1 day ago 2 replies      
Wouldn't a more effective boycott be of citation of articles in Elsevier journals?

Rough on those articles, and will leave (some) gaps in your references, but that is Elsevier's actual source of power.

saurabhnanda 2 days ago 3 replies      
Okay, so where's the Reddit/Digg for scientific research papers and articles? There could be some sort of "dual voting system" where against each article two vote counts are maintained -- one set of votes by the editorial team ("peer review") and the other set of votes by the community at large.

The editorial team could be selected through a semi-democratic process, if required.

Is it that tough? How many big names in science are required to pull this through? The technology is dead-simple - the main problem is to cross the critical threshold of number of articles submitted and number of editors.

Gatsky 1 day ago 0 replies      
This whole situation is doubly absurd when you consider clinical trials, where patients have risked their helath or died to prove that certain treatments work or do not work. That data then gets locked down by these shameless monopolising profiteers.

I think it is completely unethical that such a patient cannot access the final report about the trial they participated in without paying $31 to Elsevier, or just settling for an abstract.

lhnz 2 days ago 1 reply      
Is the peer review process explained in enough depth anywhere for a non-academic to try to build a tool to support it into some kind of publication web app?

edit; It turns out there is something worth taking a look at on the front page right now:


zerostar07 2 days ago 0 replies      
Shouldn't someone suggest credible OA journals to use instead of Elsevier's?
rotskoff 2 days ago 1 reply      
Another reason the arxiv should pursue a serious refereeing system. Perhaps it should work something like Hacker News--high quality work could be measured by community support.
Google's "free food" is not free rachelbythebay.com
274 points by andrew_k  1 day ago   171 comments top 41
patio11 1 day ago 5 replies      
I'm writing a post on salary negotiation today, so I zeroed in on two supporting details here that you should remember for later: when pressed on price, savvy negotiators said:

1) Give us some time to think about it.

2) We are going to re-focus the discussion on a different compensation lever where we can present something you're already going to get as if it were a new incentive justifying your concession on a lever you're currently interested in.

You can do both of these as a job seeker.

(For example, if you have extra-curricular interests like many desirable tech employees do, the extra-curricular interests can be used to justify an increase in your compensation vis-a-vis a hypothetical employee who punches out of the Internet at 5 pm. It doesn't particularly matter that you're going to continue blogging and OSS regardless of the outcome of this negotiation, you just frame the discussion such that that becomes newly discovered value which gives the other party something to hang their hat on for getting you that last $10,000.)

ChuckMcM 1 day ago 3 replies      
Pretty much spot on of course, anyone who was at Google 'before' can trace the dots to today.

One of the benefits of a generous set of perks is that management can adjust the expense once they get close to the end of the quarter so that the 'numbers come out right.' Google is losing that ability. It makes things like their Q4 'miss' [1] more likely.

It is of course entirely Google's prerogative on how they spend their money. And if you look at their Q4 results [2] they deposited 2.97 billion dollars into the bank in cash based on the work done by their 32,467 employees. That is $91,477 in cash for the 90 days that ended December 31st. Lets say every employee ate 3 gourmet meals a day, at a cost of $15+$25+$50 or $90, and consumed another $25 in snacks so $115 per employee per day. (and those are gonna be some fat employees!) That is 32,467 x $115 x 90 days or $335 million dollars. Or about 11 cents of each dollar they dropped into the bank. The numbers of course reflect the costs that a typical restaurant would charge that was profitable, and $25 a day in snacks? That is probably way beyond what most anyone would eat so these numbers are way over if anything.

But at some point between the original prospectus where Larry and Sergei told potential investors that they were going to spend a lot on perks like this so get used to it; to today, where sometimes elaborate explanations about social consciousness and environmental justice precede the denial of those perks. Someone decided the company's interest was to build a cash pile, not invest in quality of life benefits for the rank and file. Sad really, they are the kind of company that can afford to do it, and now they choose not to. So much for being different.

[1] http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/20/technology/googles-strong-...

[2] http://investor.google.com/earnings/2011/Q4_google_earnings....

moocow01 1 day ago 9 replies      
Maybe Im just a calculating, cold, emotionless engineer but when it comes to pay packages Ive stopped caring about the fancy 'perks'. I only try to gauge how much Ill get paid, how much Ill enjoy the work and learn, and how many hours Ill be putting in.

Ive seen perks too many times used against employees. (The following rant is nothing towards Google - never worked there.)

- Free food and onsite amenities usually is a sign that they want you there for extra long hours and that you'll probably need to use that stuff.

- Unrestricted vacation days can mean you don't really get any vacation because its always crunch time.

- Fancy employee outings are not so thrilling to me - I like my coworkers but I already spend the majority of my waking hours with them.

I'm not trying to completely debase the value of these things - I'm just saying that in terms of negotiating salary I weight these types of perks at 0 or negative dollars.

cromwellian 1 day ago 1 reply      
I read a previous article by her about no one being able to like Apple products after Android and decided she has a totally warped view of reality. I was there when they handed out Android phones. I still use an iPhone. Many Google employees use iPhones. No one has ever given me crap about it, and I haven't seen anyone look at anyone funny in any way.

I mean, Google gives MacBook Airs/MacBook Pros to every employee for christsakes.

And if you want to know how the recruiters talk you into accepting a lower salary, it isn't the value of the food, it's the value of Google's bonuses. Google HR talks to you about "Total Compensation" and the dollar value of the food is not (AFAIK) part of this discussion.

Personally for me, I have no complains about my salary, but the real reason I decided to work for Google was the chance to work on world class infrastructure with access to an incredible pool of talented people, plus the culture.

Google is the only large corporation I've worked at (and I've worked at others like IBM and Oracle), that didn't feel so much like a suffocating bureaucracy, and whose employees generally care about trying to do the right thing, and care about openness and honesty.

You've all no doubt seen the Steve Yegge rant. That's par for the course on Google internal mailing lists, and I like the fact that people challenge management frequently with rants like this.

noonespecial 1 day ago 2 replies      
Google claims to want to hire smart people.

Google claims to these ostensibly smart people during the hiring process that the 'free food' is worth (cough) 20 grand in salary?!

I sense a disturbance in the force.

overgard 1 day ago 4 replies      
I find myself in a weird situation, in that I find this writer's writing intriguing exactly because of how much I vehemently disagree with almost all of it. It's like somehow it manages to push all the wrong buttons, in a very precise way. Usually when I read things that I disagree with it doesn't really prod at me, but for some reason almost this entire blog does. The controversy this blog always digs up on really minor topics makes me think I'm not the only one.

I think what always strikes me in her writing is the lack of any empathy in any of the rants/complaints. When I read credible arguments, I always feel like there's a bit of understanding involved, as in "these people think this, for certain reasons we've actually bothered to explore and will treat fairly, but it turns out this other thing is the case because.."

The problem is, if you don't bother to look into the other side of things, you can't have real understanding. I saw nothing in that article as to /why/ google might have done what they did, only some really petulant complaints and vague innuendo about "rogue contractors". I got the same impression from other posts, like where she accused ruby programmers of being "hipsters", because, you know, obviously you can just do everything in C++ so why bother to learn something new?

Hominem 1 day ago 2 replies      
I worked at a place with free food and this exact thing happened. At first it was order any two meals off seamlessweb.com a day. Then it was order one meal, which meant people ordered enough food for two or three meals once a day. Then there were spending limits. Then there was a "town hall meeting" the CEO claimed he had been doing some investigations an came across a worker who was drinking ten cans of coke a day. Out of concern for our health, they would be eliminating all beverages except water coolers. Then meals were only free for certain people. Then free meals went away.

It is easy to eliminate these kinds of perks because many people will be in favor of cost cutting. Not so for salary, not many people will argue in favor of across the board salary cuts. I'll take salary every time.

jxcole 1 day ago 0 replies      
Negotiator: Our free lunch costs us about 15 to 20k per year per employee, so add at least 15k to our offer to find it's true value.

Me: If I were left to my own devices I would make myself a PB and J sandwich and have an apple every day. That comes down to about $2 a day for lunch. So there's 365 days in a year, take away about 104 for weekends, and you are left with about 261 free lunches a year. Hence to me the free lunch is only worth about $522. Just so you know, that's not a lot of money.

Fun fact: It doesn't actually matter if you really would have PB&J every day.

ajays 1 day ago 4 replies      
Google is located in an area where there aren't many restaurants close by. By offering on-site lunches, they keep the employees on campus. So instead of wasting, say, 1.5 hours getting to MtView, hunting for parking, waiting at a restaurant, eating, getting back into your car, etc., the employees just walk over to the cafe, still in work mode; or even better, take the lunch back to their offices.

Even if Google gets 1 hour of work per employee per day out of this arrangement, the lunch more than pays for itself.

So people shouldn't naively think that Google (or, for that matter, any other company) offers these perks out of the goodness of their heart; it's because it makes fiscal sense to keep employees on campus, working.

georgieporgie 1 day ago 3 replies      
Sure, go ahead and screw the employees while the economy is bad. They'll stay on and grumble about it, because they can't go anywhere.

People got laid off and were unable to find work, possibly ending their careers, and you're complaining about bagels being cut? Seriously?

_shane 1 day ago 2 replies      
The author complains that she was dissatisfied with her offer six years prior but took the job anyway. Then it turns into a rant about how she was robbed of her entitlements.

"But what happens when the economy improves? Those wounds will never heal. Anyone with half a brain will say "hey, these guys are evil!" and will bail for greener pastures."

Because they don't have bagels in the microkitchen Google is evil?

As someone who works at Google, I can assure you that the microkitchens are overflowing with drinks, snacks, fruits, coffees, and candies, The cafeterias are plentiful(24 in mountain view alone) and the food is incredibly delicious, even for a foodie like myself.

Plus, the pay is very competitive. The author must not have stuck around for this:


It's unfortunate that her experience didn't end well, but this article comes across as hyperbolic and catty.

veyron 1 day ago 1 reply      
The real lesson for employees is to ignore the cash value of the perks when evaluating offers. Perks can be taken away, but cutting salaries is much more controversial.
philwelch 1 day ago 1 reply      
This is the second post from this blog I've had the displeasure of reading on HN, and both of them make this person seem to be a congenital malcontent.
jcampbell1 1 day ago 2 replies      
It is amusing that Google offers "free lunches". I wonder how many compensation discussions include the quip, "there is no such thing as a free lunch".

Just out of curiosity, does Google gross up salaries for tax purposes? I really think the IRS needs to crack down on companies using excessive perks as non-taxable compensation.

If Google is using the perks to justify a "lower but equivalent salary" then they should be paying taxes on the non-cash compensation. If they are not, then Google is taking advantage of a shady tax dodge.

steve8918 1 day ago 2 replies      
I was at Google's campus last month for lunch.

The food is better quality than a Las Vegas buffet with all the trimmings, except it's all free.

The author complaining about Google being "evil" for cutting back or "screwing the employee" is so incredibly ridiculous and so self-entitled it sickens me.

It's like someone complaining that the company used to drop free $100 bills on the ground, but now they're only dropping $50s. The employees were "WOUNDED" because they closed a few locations, or they had to wander an extra 30 ft for donuts? For F*CK'S sake get a grip! The food there is pretty damn good and if you don't like it, there's something wrong with you, not Google. Too bad they closed a couple of locations and you have to walk an extra 30 seconds or be in line an extra 2 mins. IT'S FREE FOOD AND IT'S GOOD.

ryguytilidie 1 day ago 0 replies      
I have worked at both Google and Facebook and this was an annoyance for everyone. People would come into the job and be promised the normal salary+benefits and then be told about the unlimited Odwalla and Aldale being open all day and how the food is amazing and then suddenly the most profitable companies in the world "realize" that these things are expensive, cut back, and expect something other than to have their world class employees go somewhere where they are treated a bit better. I will never understand not continuously investing in your employees, especially at the best companies on earth.
jergosh 1 day ago 1 reply      
$15k / 250 business days, that would be $60 per day AND they would get the food at much lower prices then you do when you sit in a restaurant. Really? If it was a random company that kind of BS would put me off working there big time.
MattLaroche 1 day ago 3 replies      
One thing this article doesn't point out: it wasn't Google who argued that the supposedly lower salary was offset by food - it was a person (sure, an employee or contractor of Google). Perhaps this person was reading from a recruiting script sanctioned by management. But it wasn't the big overarching company that made this argument to the author - it was a person.

Recruiters often have the wrong incentive structure. They have numbers to hit - and so they use classic high pressure tactics (exploding offers, "accept the offer now" durring the offer, misinformation, tricks) to convince people to accept. It's unfortunate that the recruiter's goals don't line up with the applicant's, but it's true. How one fixes that isn't obvious to me tonight.

I also hate the victim mentality when an employee no longer feels like they're getting what they want from their employer. If you don't like what you're getting, if the economic transaction is no longer acceptable, leave. (I respect employment laws, I think everyone should treat each other, I don't condone abusive behavior or manipulation) Employees aren't victims trapped by evil employers, they're participants in an economic transaction. If the transaction is no longer as profitable as one at another company, then that doesn't make the employer bad or wrong, it's simply time to move on.

(I worked at Google for 5 years, I left in April 2011. And when I went back for lunch one day in November with former coworkers, I had the best meal I'd had since I left.)

andrewfelix 1 day ago 0 replies      
There's a possibility that a lot of un-eaten food was being wasted, so Google cut back to reduce food waste.

ie. being green.

Lot of conjecture in this article.

kamaal 1 day ago 0 replies      
Organisation must focus on paying people well and then they must just leave people on their own. We are clever enough to know how to figure out what to do with our money. We can buy our own food, snacks and ice cream if we want to.

Instead, every company that I've seen so far seems to come up with every possible reason to pay people as little as they can. Generally its like this, "Hey we are giving you x,y,z perks and you sit around in a beautiful office so the peanuts we pay is sufficient, now get back to work and slog for us until your bones hurt."

Companies know damn well, that not everyone is eating these Ice creams, drinking coffee of eating stomach full everyday. And not everyone is taking the free transport. Some will, not all. On an average they pay every body less for these reasons, and the money they save by not paying in cash but by perks is often huge.

Salary offers are the most fraudulent documents. Minus taxes, and some other 'hidden' deductions which always exist. Because most companies have a component of salary with string attached. What you get in hand is always close to 50% of what is promised on paper.

This is every where, no matter which company you will every work at.

notaddicted 1 day ago 0 replies      
Employment isn't a transaction, it is a relationship. If one is not being paid enough nothing prevents revisiting the discussion.

Having said that, I don't see a lot of advice on the topic online. Obviously after spending some time at a company you have a better idea of what the talent level is like and where the money goes, so you should be able to negotiate better with the extra information, and the history of what you've done.

molmalo 1 day ago 1 reply      
At the end:
Or, worse, they'll assign blame to "rogue contractors" and say it was never their policy to do that. Right.

Now where have we heard that before? Rogue contractors?

I may be wrong, but... Is she implying that (in her personal opinion), Google knew and instructed them about OpenStreetMap sabotage? That's controversial at least.

Edit: I mean, I'm not defending anyone, but without proofs, I think that's a very harsh sentence.

linuxhansl 1 day ago 4 replies      
The most important rule of salary negotiation:
Always let them make an offer first. If you're lucky it's higher than what you would have proposed, so you'll just accept it.
If it's lower you just continue to negotiate.
wonnage 1 day ago 2 replies      
I'm having a hard time sympathizing. At the end of her negotiation, this was the state of the world: the company didn't want to go any higher, and some handwaving about how much food was worth was enough to convince her to fold.

Why bother calculating "effective salary"? Personally, anything that isn't cold, hard cash I view as tangential to my compensation. Even options are questionable - sometimes the salary hit over 4+ years is comparable to the additional options' value. Sure, perks can make the work environment nicer. I'll take that into consideration given competing offers. But it seems silly to attempt to fix a monetary value on these things that the company has no contractual requirement to fulfill.

basman 1 day ago 1 reply      
I found it interesting that their claimed value of 15-20k a year went unquestioned. At ~300 days a year, that's $60 a day. I'd value free food at a quarter of that at most.
cluda01 1 day ago 0 replies      
You could also use this as a potential lever in discussing future compensation increases. If they claimed perk x was worth $y but now they are scaling it back to $z then $y-z should be put back into your base as you no longer receive the perk.
temphn 1 day ago 5 replies      
Has rachelbythebay ever written a post that is not about bashing Google as evil or all engineers as sexist?

Notice what she does not mention: Google massively increased salaries during the same time period, including the 10% across the board bump.

jaggederest 1 day ago 0 replies      
I always think it's interesting when companies try to negotiate compensation by perks... They're basically giving away more cash.

"Well our health benefits are worth $15,000 a year, you know. It's a very good plan."

My answer is always "Wow, I didn't know you guys thought I was worth X+$15,000, I'll take that in cash, thanks." My health plan is comparable and costs me $200 a month + $1500 a year in deductibles, tax free.

resnamen 1 day ago 0 replies      
This is SOP for negotiation. Candidates do this shit too, trying to claim some sort of inflated salary boost for every thing they give up from their previous employer. It's a game and the lesser negotiator loses out.
cleverjake 1 day ago 2 replies      
better perks can mean less money. this is not news.
stretchwithme 1 day ago 0 replies      
The whole idea of free food is not good. I'd prefer to have a wide variety of the highest quality food and pay something reasonable for it.

I really don't want an incentive to maximize my consumption of food. What matters is how much you enjoy what you do it and being as healthy as you can be.

Caffe Macs at Apple does it well. The healthiest options are clearly subsidized, and desserts are not.

egfx 1 day ago 0 replies      
My only comment after reading this story. Is he seriously complaining about having to walk around and hunt for food, (donuts) rather then finding it in a kitchen next to his desk? If that's the case I would be complaining about the lack of a good gym at Google instead.
JoeAltmaier 1 day ago 0 replies      
Kind of a first-world problem.

A lot is made of a company 'culture', and frequently perks are pointed out. Well, sorry, culture is what is left when the chips are down, the perks are gone, and its time to work your way out of the hole.

At Google, as the article said, when perks dried up folks left. Those folks were never part of their culture, they were what's known as freeloaders.

So why not be a freeloader? I don't know, I just feel kind of sticky when I find myself in that position. I would much rather be part of a small company, doing whatever it takes to be successful because its MY company.

amirf 1 day ago 1 reply      
This reminds me a lot of one company I worked for. While I can understand cutting costs when the economy is bad, his last question hits the spot: "But what happens when the economy improves?"
napierzaza 1 day ago 0 replies      
It's an advertised perk so sure. Just like they might convince you to work somewhere because it's more geographically convenient for you or it has a day care. It offers better quality of life in lieu of cash money. I know cash is what most americans want. They want it over better health care or fairer lifestyle. But some people just want to live more comfortably instead of being able to tell people how many "figures" they make.

As for the cuts, maybe they decided to be more "honest" and cut that program and just give new hires more money?

laserDinosaur 1 day ago 0 replies      
daintynews 1 day ago 1 reply      
So I multiplied the $30/day by the 9,600 employees in Mountain View and New York by the 251 days Google is open every year. Remember that Google probably spends a lot more than this, because there are employees outside those offices, and because visitors are there all the time eating.

The grand total: By our guesstimate, Larry and Sergey are spending at least $72,288,000 per year to fill their workers' pie-holes. How can they afford to do that? Easy, of course: Last year Google (GOOG) earned $4.2 billion.

logn 1 day ago 0 replies      
ITT an ex-google employee complains about google cutting some on-campus cafe hours and morning bagels/donuts being more difficult to find. Complains that during the job offer they mentioned food as a perk. Yawn.
anil_mamede 1 day ago 0 replies      
I wish the company I work would offer me free meals. Not only free meals but an infrastructure and environment where I could spend more time in my intellectual growth and personal achieviements. Of course all this requires an huge investment not only in buildings but in human resources (someone has to do the dirty work).

If some company offered me free food, nice, clean and complete bathrooms, restrooms, libraries, lockers, an office arranged in manner where I could work without any disturb in trade of less but still acceptable salary I would accept it.

If they cut me on sallary I would not mind but if they took me the free food completely I would be pissed off.

funkah 1 day ago 0 replies      
Wow, no thanks. I'd prefer they skip the bi-weekly trip to Whole Foods and I'll keep the $20k.
jayzalowitz 1 day ago 1 reply      
Came here to say this... as a former google intern... if this was your reasoning for hating google, you weren't right google in the first place.
How Google Code Search Worked swtch.com
276 points by basugasubaku  4 days ago   45 comments top 16
gruseom 4 days ago 3 replies      
Google made a mistake in killing code search. Indexing the world's source code and making it searchable is so obviously part of their core mission that I wonder how this decision even got made.

Yeah, code search is a niche market numerically speaking, but intellectually and economically (considering the economic impact of software) it is vital. Google was doing so much better a job of it than anybody else that they completely owned the space. How could that not be worth what it cost them to run it? And now we are bereft of anything good.

I used to use Google Code Search like this: encounter an unfamiliar language or API construct, go to code search, get page after page of real-world usages. Or like this: wonder how to do X, imagine what code that does X might say, search for snippets of that until hitting a working example of X. It was a powerful learning device that I am sad to lose. I sure hope a startup comes along to get search right for the world's source code. Github ought to, but their search sucks.

In any case, congratulations Russ Cox et. al. on a brilliant piece of work.

singular 4 days ago 1 reply      
I sometimes wonder whether Russ Cox is actually human or is in fact a collective pen name for a group of very talented hackers :)
bambax 3 days ago 0 replies      
This post is very interesting and informative, esp. the part about indexing trigrams instead of words:

> Regular expression matches do not always line up nicely on word boundaries, so the inverted index cannot be based on words like in the previous example. Instead, we can use an old information retrieval trick and build an index of n-grams, substrings of length n. This sounds more general than it is. In practice, there are too few distinct 2-grams and too many distinct 4-grams, so 3-grams (trigrams) it is.

As he explains, in order to perform a search using regular expressions, the RE is first converted to an "ordinary" query string, which finds a set of candidate documents; the candidate documents are then loaded in memory, and the "real" regular expression run against them, in order to find only the matching documents.

He used Google's retrieval engine in order to build the trigram index, but he doesn't say how he identified "code" amidst the ocean of ordinary web pages?

He does say this regarding an example implementation:

> The indexer (...) rejects files that are unlikely to be interesting, such as those that (...) have very long lines, or that have a very large number of distinct trigrams.

so maybe that's what Code Search did too.

What I'm wondering is this: wouldn't it be interesting to have a full web index based on trigrams, that would let us search not only using RE but also using wildcards (at the end of words or at the beginning)?

Maybe it would be too complex to build such an index for the whole web, but for limited corpora (such as one's mail) it would be very useful.

bri3d 4 days ago 0 replies      
This is the most awesome kind of solution: built off of few mostly-off-the-shelf moving parts, simple and easy to understand, and entirely perfect for the problem at hand. This write-up would be awesome teaching material for anyone moving from "I know how to write a program" to "how do I build a clean, elegant system to solve a specific problem?"
boyter 4 days ago 1 reply      
Interesting solution. I did something a little different for searchco.de when I was implementing regex search.

Essentially I took the regex such as [cb]at and then expand it out to get all of the terms, in this case cat and bat and then do a standard fulltex search based on those terms to get as close a match as possible. I then loop over the results to get back those which are exact matches.

Its actually more complex then that but with some other trickery (infix and prefix indexing) but it works reasonably well although I am still ironing out some kinks.

staunch 4 days ago 0 replies      
I'd love some idea of how large the index was for code search, how many machines it required, and how much total code it was searching.
ch 4 days ago 0 replies      
And here I had always thought Google Code Search was based on some kind of fancy federated radix-tree. Very nice design Russ.
toddc 4 days ago 1 reply      
Russ's articles are an excellent write-up and explanation.

However, many finite-state automata regex implementations have existed for years (e.g. Java http://cs.au.dk/~amoeller/automaton) without the backtracking feature, of course. Also of interest is the benchmark data at: http://tusker.org/regex/regex_benchmark.html

petdog 3 days ago 0 replies      
This is a really great tool. If it could take the first .csearchindex going up the tree as the current index (somewhat like git does with .git dirs), it could easily top rgrep/ack for searching into projects. (just add line numbers and some match coloring)
arnsholt 4 days ago 1 reply      
To be fair, the reason Perl, Python and PCRE (which all use pretty much the same regex syntax) don't use the linear-time algorithms is because they can't. Features like look-around and matching what you've already matched (/(\w+) \1/ to find repeated words for example) give you more expressivity than regular languages, but also takes away linear time algorithms.
ximeng 3 days ago 0 replies      
Not only does Russ Cox write code and English really well, but he's also on HN. Thanks for the article rsc!


brown9-2 3 days ago 0 replies      
Wow, is there anything at Google that Jeff Dean didn't have a hand in?
dmoy 3 days ago 1 reply      
What were the criteria for determining that there were too many unique 2-grams and too few 3-grams? Did it just come down to too much memory for the former, and barely enough memory for 3-grams?
dr_rezzy 3 days ago 0 replies      
I like. Word splitting is very interesting. Today, 2012, I would be hard pressed to provide a reason to use this technique. Splitting an index is a classic complexity/resource trade off (your index has a very predictable compact footprint). Again, today, memory is cheap, wide, uniform, and predictable. Indexes are now cheap and highly specialized. Complexity can be reduced for simplicity. Index specialization now becomes natural. My point here is that this solves a class of very expensive searches with ease, leading wildcard searches et al. Also, couldnt really tell from your code (you may be doing this), but reverse your trigrams in your generated query. If ordered properly, your search will be a lot more efficient.
_investigator 3 days ago 1 reply      

The original basic RE and extended RE (when backreferencing is not used) are significantly faster than implementations that most programmers traditionally rave about, e.g., Perl RE.

Tell me something I didn't know.

He thus used such 30 year old code as a model and easily topped the speeds of the built-in RE capabilities of today's popular scripting languages.

Common sense is underrated.

dennisgorelik 4 days ago 1 reply      
It's a nice design (in particular Trigram Index), but overall product still failed.

My guess is that regular expression search is not as useful as full-text search that general Google Search does.

The Audacity of the iBooks Author EULA venomousporridge.com
275 points by pooriaazimi  4 days ago   135 comments top 30
nirvana 4 days ago  replies      
Over the years I've seen a large volume of creative software, often free, that is used to produce output, that requires, as part of its license, that you give the creator of the software a cut if you sell any of the things you make with it.

This includes everything that is "free for non-commercial use", such as, if I recall correctly, Blender (in the past), most of the Free Fonts out there, and a lot of free software.

Edit to add: This means everything under the CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 license. There is a huge amount of content distributed this way.

The iBooks Author Software is an Apple provided development tool specifically for the purpose of creating iBooks for the iBookstore.

You can give your books away free in the iBookstore, and you can also, as you note, output the results in a variety of formats not suitable for the iBookstore. Those are a nice bonus.

Sometimes I get the impression that people think that everything should be free, for any use, and that the people who create these free things should have no right (or that its "audacious" to exercise some right) over what terms on which they distribute these free tools they create. (Or maybe only the "right" to distribute them on terms you agree with.)

Apple is providing a free tool, and the restrictions that come with it are the cost. Either the value of that tool to me exceeds the cost, or it doesn't. (and the "glovebox" example is nonsense, the EULA is part of the Mac AppStore sales process, you could read t before downloading the app.)

It is the same way with the Free Software Foundation. If they made a tool called "ePub Author" and that tool-- especially if it included templates and copyrighted imagery and other work, as iBooks Author does-- required you to license any works created with the tool under the GPL, then I'd make the same evaluation- is that restriction a cost that exceeds the value of the tool or not?

If you don't like the EULA, feel free not to use iBooks Author and use whatever tool you like that's value proposition is one you prefer. To rail against Apple for providing this tool seems to imply that you feel they owe you something.

Very often today we've seen Apple offer all kinds of new and innovative things, and I've seen a content stream of comments along the lines of "these are bad because apple profits from them". Of course Apple profits. We all profit, though, because they changed the economics of the education situation. If you want something different, create it.

We're not entitled to demand people to produce things for our benefit in ways we dictate, at no possible benefit to themselves.


Further points:

1. iBooks produced by the iBook Author software contain with in them Apple copyrighted code, both javascript and HTML, and thus are derivative works. It is not just images and layout. Since every open source or GPL project imposes restrictions on derivative software, it seems reasonable for Apple to do so as well.

2. Imagine if this product had been released to ONLY support iBooks in a proprietary format. Apple released a tool last year called iAd producer. This produced ads but only for the iAd network. It is completely proprietary. Nobody complained.

Would those who think these terms are unreasonable have complained if Apple hadn't included the ability to output in a standard ePub format, and the ability to distribute derivative works for free?

Is it really the case that making this tool more restrictive by limiting its interoperability would have removed these complaints? If not, how can you complain about Apple producing a tool to support their proprietary book format? Is Apple required to make all software capable of supporting whatever you want to do with it ? Should Xcode be require to produce Android apps?

tstegart 4 days ago 3 replies      
I think this guy is wrong. He's mixing apples and oranges when it comes to who owns what. Apple is requiring people who use its software to create an e-book to give Apple a cut of the proceeds of the Apple created e-book. The author still owns his or her content. If you want to sell your book, just don't sell the form of the book made by Apple's software. You can still sell a PDF, for example. Or you can sell your Word file. You can sell anything really.
But if you want to sell the nice design Apple lets you make, you have to give them money.

I believe you can simultaneously sell an e-book in the iBookstore and sell a non-Apple created e-book with the exact same content somewhere else. For example, a word document turned into an e-book on Amazon. Just don't try and sell your Apple created e-book on Amazon, that's all.

ryanwhitney 4 days ago 3 replies      
I'm not seeing why this is so unreasonable, if someone could fill me in.

The program is for creating iBooks, not eBooks, to be sold through their iBookstore. I'm seeing these more as apps than something like .ePub files or .PDFs.

Unlike apps though, which require an developer license to load yourself, Author gives anyone the ability to run these books on your iPad. It also gives anyone the ability to distribute an iBook outside the iBookstore.

Since licensing every person who wanted to create an iBook would be a pain in the ass for Apple and a barrier to creation, this seems to be the next good option.

It prevents anyone from creating their own iBook marketplace (reasonable) and profiting off of a software that Apple is giving away for free, under the agreement that products of it are sold though their marketplace. No?

alexqgb 4 days ago 0 replies      
If the cost of using the software is giving up clear title to your work, then it's a very high cost indeed. A deal that big needs to be advertised - boldly - up front, not buried in the ELUA, then popping up after you've committed time and effort to a work.

I can understand them saying that wanting to use the Apple store means giving them the same 30% cut that they charge for in-app subscriptions, and demanding that you adjust your prices on all other platforms to remain competitive. That's hardball, to be sure, but it respects the integrity of ownership.

This, on the other hand, is the same pattern that gets people hauled in on anti-trust charges. They're not a monopoly (yet), but I have a hard time seeing how this extraordinary claim of ownership in the work of others is anything less than the type of platform-abuse the anti-trust law specifically bans.

cjoh 4 days ago 1 reply      
Can someone explain this a bit better to me?

Let's say I write a book called "My Awesome Comments from HackerNews, Unabridged" (MACFHU) using Microsoft Word.

And I send that to my publisher, retaining all rights to publish the book still.

Then I adapt MACFHU for iBooks using the iBook Author tool. Would I then be prohibited from selling my book in the iBookstore because it's already available in hardcover? If I published it first in iBookstore, would my publisher be prohibited from publishing it in hardcover?

Or does the iBooks EULA basically say: "This is a specialized tool that you should use to publish books on the iPad." You can certainly publish your content on other platforms as well, but you'll need to format it using other tools. Check out InDesign, for instance.

I need some clarification.

__david__ 4 days ago 2 replies      
Initially I had an unfavorable opinion on this. But I started thinking about game engines: When you use the Unreal or Unity game engine authoring tools, you don't expect to be able to sell your game without giving the game engine company a cut. It might be a flat rate, but that's basically the same thing.

Apple are providing authoring tools for their "iBooks 2" engine and are not out of line expecting a cut of the profits...

eob 3 days ago 0 replies      
There's another bit that nobody has brought up: no author ever ends up owning the entirety of his or her work. If I write a book for Harper Collins, I am not allowed to reproduce or distribute that content via any channel not approved by them, and they give much worse than a 70/30 cut.

As hackers, we are debating these books as if they are software, but remember that they are products at the intersection of two industries, and publishers have had authors in restrictive and less-than-lucrative contracts for a long time.

fleitz 4 days ago 0 replies      
Use iBooks Author to generate works for iBooks use another tool to generate works for other media.

IANAL but I don't think they're saying that if you use iBooks Author to make your work available for iBooks and use amazon's tools to make your work available for Kindle that you'd owe Apple a cut of your Kindle revenue.

delackner 3 days ago 0 replies      
What lead us to this point in history where people whine and go on tantrums about the injustice of being given powerful free tools produced at great expense?

I think the root cause is the anti-piracy war, going on ever since the dawn of the computer age. The endgame may be an angry backlash of anti-copyright extremism gaining mainstream support. We may see a day soon when the voters demand an end to all copyright. Who knows what the end result of that would be.

drcube 4 days ago 1 reply      
When is Microsoft going to get the bright idea to incorporate everything anybody writes in Word or Visual Studio into their own IP portfolio? Or Adobe appropriates the copyright of any image edited with Photoshop? Here's to the crazy ones.
Locke1689 4 days ago 1 reply      
You can certainly put anything you want in a EULA. Whether or not this is enforceable is another matter. Has any court ever upheld this kind of contract?
aidenn0 4 days ago 0 replies      
I don't see how this is substantially different from EULAs that restrict usage to non-commercial. It's basically "non-commercial, except" so you have strictly more rights than with e.g. the non-commercial version of CadSoft eagle.
pmr_ 4 days ago 1 reply      
I recently thought a lot about the relationship between user input and program output and what implications the transformations performed by the program have on the copyright. Consider a heavy optimizing compiler: The program you feed into it will often be entirely different in terms of execution, but not result, from the user input. Some optimizations might even hide bugs that the original program might have had. At what point would it be justified to consider the program (or the creator thereof) to have some implied copyright on the produced output. Do we need to consider the smartness of the applied algorithms? Is it necessary for a program to be considered a true AI to hold the copyright to something?

Anyway, I don't see how that applies to a pretty printer for books. A mere tool is only that. I don't see why it should restrict my ability to commercialize my product. If someone were to suggest that the producers of pens, paper or canvas should have a say in how artists are to sell their works people would just laugh at him.

wazoox 4 days ago 0 replies      
Hardly surprising coming from Apple. Gosh, that stinks nonetheless. On the other hand, this probably would be nullified by any reasonable court, wouldn't it?
extension 3 days ago 0 replies      
Is Apple claiming this restriction applies to the content of the book, or just the output of their app? Can I transcribe my book into another program and then sell it independently? What if the book is already written and published and I'm transcribing it into an iBook?

And of course, if transcribing bypasses the restriction, then simply converting the file to a different format must do the same, right?

nchuhoai 4 days ago 0 replies      
I think the important thing to note is that the author is not complaining that Apple wants a cut. The author is complaining that you have to do it through the App Store. And in that regard, I do agree that this case is unprecedented, that a EULA restricts the distribution channel.
jinushaun 4 days ago 0 replies      
Don't see the problem here. The app makes iBooks"not eBooks. The iBookstore sells both iBooks and eBooks. Publishers can sell their book in iBook or eBook format. If you want to sell iBooks which only works on iOS, you have to go through the iBookstore. Nothing prevents them from selling eBooks instead.
shaggyfrog 4 days ago 0 replies      
Apple would be smart to change this ASAP. It's bad PR to have this kind of problem present on your launch day. Not to mention a really bad clause to have in the first place.
cjensen 4 days ago 0 replies      
In the Good Old Days, you had to pay a royalty to your compiler vendor when you sold a copy of your own program.

So what Apple is doing is legal and has precedent. But it's stupid so I hope and expect that they will fix this.

unsigner 3 days ago 1 reply      
How is this different than Microsoft giving away a version of their C++ compiler as part of the Xbox development kit which can only produce executables that can be sold via Microsoft to people having Xboxes? The comparison is favorable to Apple, as they allow free books, unlike the console vendors.

In both cases, the platform vendor is giving away nice dev tools in order to get more content to sale on his platform.

(read Microsoft as "Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo")

ekianjo 3 days ago 1 reply      
Get an Apple typewriter. Write your Book. Once it's done Apple knocks on your door, tells you that you have to sell their book in their store, and they will take a cut from it. And if you are against that, you can't sell it at all.

So much for the 21st century progress and freedom to own what you create.

petrovg 4 days ago 0 replies      
Don't use it then... Simple. Write your thing in what you like and sell it as you like. Write it on paper even. And sell it. Or don't sell it, just give it away for free and see how many people get your superior thinking and go downloading you on a scale that will bring the Internet down...

You can get the payment, thats easy, you only take cash, there an ATM round the corner. Distribution is easy too isn't it.

If someone is unhappy about it, you can handle the returns. Or, no, sorry, of course you don't do returns. This is YOUR intellectual property - once they've got it, they may have photocopied it, you don't want your work to go around for free, do you.

In all fairness, you really don't need this - your website is already drawing an enormous attention and everyone wants a cut of it....

xaxa2000 4 days ago 1 reply      
why not just use vi, nano, writemonkey or even word for writing your book and leave apple behind?
mkr-hn 4 days ago 1 reply      
Someone with legal expertise should go over this looking for something that's less obviously harmful. I can't imagine Apple's legal team not realizing this would come out.
drivebyacct2 4 days ago 1 reply      
For better or worse, why do people continue to be surprised when Apple does these things? They make good stuff, their users don't care and developers still flock to them. It's like raging at Adobe because Reader sucks, even though plenty of decent, light-weight PDF readers exist.

If you don't like the EULA, don't agree to it and use something else.

lelele 4 days ago 0 replies      
It's reasonable to ask for a cut on your software output, if the author is giving it out for free. While should they give out their work for free to people who are going to make money out of it?

Actually, asking for a cut could become a standard option for selling software where you would offer at customer's choice:

- GPL;

- commercial license, paid upfront;

- commercial license, paid by royalties.

That way, people who don't agree to the GPL, but still think your commercial license is too expensive compared to their expected earnings would have a further option: no gain, no pain.

As a side note, one of the reasons I prefer software which comes with standard licenses (GPL, BSD, etc.) is that I know what those licenses say, and I can click on "I agree" without worrying about the fine print. If the license text differs in some way from its template, authors are explicit about that.

Nick_C 3 days ago 0 replies      
I think it stinks. But...

Give it to your wife/husband for free.

Wife sells it for whatever and however she wants. Apple have no comeback.

rshm 3 days ago 1 reply      
More of a precursor to apple centered DRM for books i would say. And as always apple using its market advantage on everything it touches.
Firebrand 4 days ago 0 replies      
Isn't this sort of the same thing Amazon requires for their Kindle Direct Publishing program?
manmal 4 days ago 0 replies      
I say, let the consumers (=authors) decide - evolution happens through disruption, and this surely is a disruption. If the authors fall for it, well, they are ok with the consequences. If the thing really takes off and public really cares and puts pressure on them, they will loosen the EULA, I'm sure.
       cached 24 January 2012 03:11:01 GMT