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Understanding the bin, sbin, usr/bin , usr/sbin split busybox.net
786 points by sciurus  1 day ago   145 comments top 26
ChuckMcM 1 day ago 2 replies      
Wow. As someone who was there (I know dating my self here) reading this is kind of like that scene in Sleeper where the person from the future is trying to understand artifacts from the past.

So during the BSD / System V merge (project Lulu at Sun) the /opt filesystem was introduced as a way to keep 'packages' separate from 'system'. The difference between /bin and /sbin was that sbin was 'static-bin' which is to say everything in it was statically linked and could run without any libraries being available.

The fact that Linux starts up differently is because Linux never was UNIX they are two different OSes, pretty much from the ground up. They use similar concepts, processes, file descriptors, Etc, but they are two different species. FreeBSD on the other hand is a derivative of UNIX and last time I checked it started up in a similar way.

The lack of space on the RK05s was indeed the reason for the addition of /usr/{lib, bin} and the general consensus at Sun and AT&T in the 80's was that the root file system contained the system, and the /usr file system contained stuff that was not-system.

AT&T (the guys that 'owned' UNIX) had some pretty detailed specifications about what lived in what directory and why. It was a "BigDeal" (tm) to add a new directory in the root file system so new directories, when they were proposed, appeared under /usr. And once /opt existed it gave people free reign to create their own trees. Early package managers would build /opt/<package>/{bin/lib/share/man} and the downside was that ones path variable got longer and longer, and there arguments about if there should be more constraints on opt.

tmhedberg 1 day ago  replies      
The FHS (Filesystem Hierarchy Standard) [1] is the go-to reference for this sort of thing. It explains that `/bin` is for binaries that are essential before other file systems are mounted (e.g. in single user mode), and `/usr/bin` is for "most user commands" (all others). This allows you to keep a minimal local filesystem containing only the binaries needed for init to get the system running, and then `/usr` can be mounted, say, from a network share. This is useful because then network admins can install software to the common `/usr` share and make it immediately available to all machines which mount that share.

The `/sbin` and `/usr/sbin` directories are for commands needed only by administrators, which will not normally be used by regular users.

Most systems don't really require this separation, but it does make sense. Perhaps the historical reason for doing it is no longer a factor, but that doesn't mean it's perpetuated merely because of tradition.

[1] http://www.pathname.com/fhs/pub/fhs-2.3.html

drewcrawford 1 day ago 1 reply      
> I'm still waiting for /opt/local to show up...

Wait no longer: http://guide.macports.org/

Osiris 1 day ago 5 replies      
As someone who comes from a Windows (and further-back, OS/2) background, the directory structure of -nix systems is baffling. It's really interesting to read the background on why it came to be structured a certain way, but I feel that the current structure doesn't jive with how we use computers in a modern way. The structure seems to be optimized for single-file command-line based applications and are not well suited to today's much more complicated GUI applications.

Mac OS X, I think, has done a decent job of structuring the file system to be more user friendly despite the -nix background.

Modern use cases typically revolve around either installation and use of specific applications, often with dozens or hundreds of files needed, and data storage. In Windows/Mac, applications (for the most part) are installed into their own individual application folder and a GUI (as opposed to the PATH) is used to provide easy access to the application. This makes it easy to 1) know where to put a program you're installing, 2) know how to locate a program after install, and 3) keeps all the application components in a single place for easy move or removal.

In my somewhat limited experience with Linux, I find that the complicated nature of the file system makes package management systems necessary to simply keep track of where all the files are: executable in /usr/local/share/bin, configuration files in /etc, libraries in /usr/lib, and I'm not sure where non-binary resources of an application get stored.

I once installed my favorite browser (Opera) in Ubuntu. It didn't make a desktop or Applcation menu icon for some reason, so I figured I'd just go make a icon to point to it. It took quite a while to just figure out where the executable was at.

This could very well be one of the reasons that many people find Linux on the desktop difficult to use. They don't understand where anything goes.

I hope that one day one Linux distribution will at least step up and consider restructuring the file system to be more friendly and straight forward and to take advantage of the availability of long file names.

calloc 1 day ago 1 reply      
I still have various partitions: /, /var, /usr, and /tmp (on a single slice). When I am in single user mode the only binaries I have available are in /bin. Unless I mount /usr that is all I have access to, so the split still makes perfect sense.

A lot of Linux distributions by default suggest using the entire disk and creating a single partition named /. In that case it doesn't make sense to have the various different locations since mounting / means you have /usr/bin as well.

I don't want a user being able to fill up the hard drive stopping me from writing my logs, stopping me from logging in or various other things (yes, i've filled up my / partition at one point and was unable to log in because SSH was failing to log something or other). There are also security reasons and being able to set various security flags on mount makes it easier to secure a machine as well (such as noexec on /tmp and or /var).

saulrh 1 day ago 3 replies      
There's an interesting piece of advice at the bottom of this post - the author symlinks /bin, /sbin, and /lib to /usr/whatever. Anybody else have an opinion on that practice? It's kind of unnecessary, but it also doesn't break anything.
peterwwillis 1 day ago 3 replies      
Oh man... if only we had all statically-compiled Linux systems these days. Sure it'd be a pain to deploy changes in libraries, but less dependency-breaking consequences means you can push a patch to a single application without testing a whole suite of dependent apps.

The really hacky solution to that seems to be building versioned packages in versioned directory paths (e.g. "/opt/lib/db/4/4.2/4.2.52/libdb.so") and mess with linker paths and create a sprawling tree of symlinks and wrappers for weird use cases. With a custom package manager it works really well: run 6 conflicting versions of the same library and just build apps against the library you know works, instead of fighting to get everything running on one compatible library.

rachelbythebay 1 day ago 1 reply      
Let's not forget the whole partition split situation due to the 1024 cylinder limitation. Once upon a time, you couldn't get to certain parts of the disk from your bootloader (using BIOS calls), so you had to make something like a tiny /boot which would hide < 1024.

This situation has only improved a little. There are still lingering bits of it here and there, depending on how deeply you poke and which distribution you have installed.

cturner 1 day ago 2 replies      
I think that the motivations for shared libraries was once valid but these motivations are obsolete, and they're destructive. I think there's a lot to be said for the simplicity and reliability of static linking.

There is an argument that it's nice to be able to upgrade libraries and have everyone pick them up, but in practice that's mostly a myth because such upgrades are vulnerable to nasty small failures. Another argument is that is saves hard disk space - not an issue these days (perhaps it is in a small number of embedded systems still).

Any good counters to that?

Update: thanks for response. I found the link to the Drepper article linked elsewhere in this thread v informative also.

aaronh 1 day ago 0 replies      
much of the original traditional unix file system hierarchy is basically redundant and unnecessary in the modern age. for a good overview (from the author of a linux distribution which departs completely from this tradition), see:


vacri 1 day ago 1 reply      
I've been liking the new location /srv, where you stick things that are custom to that machine. No more trying to guess where the previous admin thought files should go (/usr/share? /usr/local? /usr/foo?).


dredmorbius 1 day ago 1 reply      
And why / /usr split still makes sense:

If it's needed to boot, it goes in root: boot images (including root filesystem) can be initrds, bootp images, flash sticks, or other similar tools. Maintaining the discipline of keeping what you need in / and what you don't need to boot in /usr helps when you're trying to minimize boot images, troubleshoot, and/or just simply keep things comprehnsible.

Different partitions can be mounted differently: There are still a few things in the root FS which are written periodically, especially in /etc. By contrast, /usr is largely static. They can be mounted writeable vs. read-only (dittos /boot BTW). Root may require device permissions. Both require suid (but /home doesn't). For various degrees of security and self-inflicted foot-gunshot incidents, mounting with minimal permissions can be useful.

Not all bootloaders handle all filesystems and storage: Applies more to /boot, but particularly for exotic / networked storage, ensuring that early-stage bootstrapped filesystems are accessible with a minimum of fuss can be useful.

The arguments from Fedora about the ability to manage a system from within an initramfs are particularly amusing given RHEL's traditional use of a non-interactive, script-only shell: Yes, that's right, you can't exit out of the initramfs shell to do maintenance. Debian's 'dash' shell is not only smaller than the RHEL equivalent, but supports interactive use. Go figure. (Apologies if this has changed recently but it was true as of the past year or so).

Shared/network mount purposes: A read-only, shared /usr filesystem can be used and accessed by multiple systems. Maintaining the root /usr split ensures that local system commands (if necessary) can be provided independently of the shared bits.

While the origins of /bin vs. /usr/bin lie in what are now largely irrelevant disk capacity constraints, there are a number of reasons why maintaining the split continues to make sense. As has been noted, a fair bit of hierarchy persistence is on account of differentiating between differently-managed packages at different parts of the system. As the guy who gets to come in, comprehend, rationalize, and clean up systems afterward, I can assure you that a logical ordering and seggregation does help markedly.

For distros with a decent package management policy and toolset, there's no particular problem to maintaining this. $PATH variables already make the end-user impact essentially nil.

For those who wish to combine things, union mounts or symlinks can certainly be used, again, with little or no end-user impact. For some embedded/small systems this makes sense. There's no reason to force one-size-fits-all on everyone, however.

I'm also generally opposed to arbitrarily adding top-level directory trees. The naming rarely stays consistent over time (business unit / institutional name changes are notorious). And it tends to complicate matters especially concerning backups and where essential local data lives.

Tempest in a teapot.

comex 1 day ago 1 reply      
It drives me crazy every time I'm on a Linux system and ifconfig is in /sbin, and not on users' PATH, even though the no-argument form works perfectly fine as a user.
lanstein 1 day ago 0 replies      
great sig:

GPLv3: as worthy a successor as The Phantom Menace, as timely as Duke Nukem
Forever, and as welcome as New Coke.

ggchappell 1 day ago 1 reply      
The title isn't quite correct. He explains /bin vs. /usr/bin, but not /bin vs. /sbin.

My understanding for the latter is that /bin is "normal stuff", while /sbin is system maintenance. But, hey, maybe that split is actually there for obsolete historical reasons, too. Does anyone know?

agumonkey 1 day ago 1 reply      

More history bits like this please.

At the same time, makes you think about dropping FHS .. yeah I said it.

xenator 1 day ago 0 replies      
Cargo cult driven development
nailer 1 day ago 0 replies      
Way, way too long. Go read the FHS:

- If it's needed to boot the system, it belongs in /

- Binaries for normal users are in bin, system (i.e., root user only) binaries are in sbin

That's all.

emillon 1 day ago 1 reply      
So, /usr really means "user", and the "Unix System Resources" acronym was put together afterwards. Interesting, thank you !
dreamdu5t 1 day ago 2 replies      
Directories that are based on objective criteria don't have this problem.

For example /dev is defined by objective criteria, and thus there's not much argument to what goes into /dev. We should only have core directory structure defined by objective criteria.

lispler 1 day ago 0 replies      
Everyone's talking about initramfs as if it would replace a self-contained /. Have you ever been there? Usually all the relevant repair tools are missing and the shell gives you a headache. Its the point where you usually give up, walk into office and boot a rescue disc.

So no, it does not replace a working /.

p0ckets 1 day ago 0 replies      
/opt/local is already used (by MacPorts).
snowape 1 day ago 1 reply      
Why did the Fedora team choose to move /bin -> /usr/bin etc instead of moving stuff out of usr into root (/usr/bin -> /bin)? What is the point of having a usr directory when there is no separation between stuff in usr and stuff in root?
triffidhunter 1 day ago 2 replies      
The Fedora changes are bikeshedding. They start with wanting to change something, and then find a justification. Why not just put all the executables files in /Program Files/?

All this to save a few bytes in $PATH, to avoid problems with systemd, and to avoid fixing udev.

drhowarddrfine 1 day ago 1 reply      
Reason #9364 why I am soooo glad I stick with FreeBSD.
Drorm 1 day ago 0 replies      
This email is clearly wrong. Anyone, who knows anything about Unix knows that the world didn't start till 1970, so all this stuff about things happening in 1969 is clearly impossible.
Fun with math: Dividing one by 998001 yields a surprising result iheartchaos.com
733 points by kenver  2 days ago   90 comments top 30
psykotic 2 days ago 3 replies      
There's some sleight of hand here. Not all the digits are exactly right. Look how it skips from 997 to 999:


Here's the math. Suppose you want a unit fraction 1/n with decimals that cycle through the 4-digit sequence abcd. Multiply by 10^4 to shift abcd into integer position, leaving repeating copies after the decimal point:

    10^4/n = abcd + 1/n

Solving for n gives n = (10^4 - 1) / abcd.

More generally, if you want to get a cycle equal to the d digits of an integer k, you want n = (10^d - 1) / k.

However, this only gives a true unit fraction when k divides 10^d - 1, so that n is an integer. Otherwise you are forced to truncate n and getting an approximate version of the cycle.

That's exactly what happened here: 10^d - 1 is not divisible by the integer 001002...998999.

Here's a small Python program that will generate the unit fraction given the number of digits to cycle through:

    import sys

n = int(sys.argv[1])
s = ''.join(("%0" + str(n) + "d") % (i,) for i in range(10**n))
print "1/%d" % ((10**len(s) - 1) / int(s),)


    $ python magic.py 3
$ python magic.py 4

This has just the right flavor for a Project Euler problem.

fryguy 2 days ago 0 replies      
A simple way to figure out how this works is to figure out another way to write it out. For the simpler case (1/9801) = 0.00010203...

+ 0.0001
+ 0.000002
+ 0.00000003

Each row is equal to x, but shifted over 2x digits. This is the same as dividing by 10^x. This simplifies to the formula:

    sum k=0 to infinity: k/(10^k)

This is fairly easily calculable, and results in 1/9801. Try it yourself on wolfram alpha: http://www.wolframalpha.com/input/?i=%28sum_%28k%3D1%29%5Ein...

tylerneylon 2 days ago 0 replies      
The general any-number-base-b rule here (as others have noticed in base 10^k) is that

1/(b-1)^2 = 0.0123456... (where '1', '2'.. are base b digits).

The original post is this fact in base 1000.

Proof for any base: 1/(b-1) = 1/b + 1/b^2 + 1/b^3 + .. = 0.11111.. (base b).

So 1/(b-1)^2 = 0.11111.. * (1/b + 1/b^2 + 1/b^3 + ...) = 0.012345... QED.

Richard Feynman beat us all to the punch here by noticing that 1/243 = 0.004115226337..., a fact which he wrote in a letter from a secret lab to someone in the outside world, and which put him under suspicion of sending secret messages! That gem of a fraction turns out to be a result of the above stuff as 1/243 = 111 * (1/999^2) + 4/999.

Here's a slightly more detailed explanation:


saraid216 2 days ago 0 replies      
I just want to repeat bdg's appreciation for the people who are explaining the actual theory, which is the interesting part. Funky results from arbitrary arithmetic is just a step short of numerology and while it's nifty in a stage magic kind of way, it's a little sad overall when you have no idea why that's the way it is.
jerfelix 2 days ago 1 reply      
... and 1/9999999800000001 =
.00000000 00000001 00000002 00000003 00000004 00000005 00000006 ... 99999996 99999997 99999999 ...repeating

Basically, the pattern is
1 over some number of 9s, followed by an 8, followed by the same number of 0s, followed by a 1.

So, 1/81, 1/9801, 1/998001, 1/99980001, 1/9999800001, etc.

archgoon 2 days ago 5 replies      
This can be seen in python with (I had to dig into the docs for this, so here are the fruits of my labor :) )

    import decimal

dec = decimal.Decimal(1)/decimal.Decimal(998001)

#now doctor it up to see the numbers
strdec = str(dec)[2:] #chop off the '0.'
nums = zip(strdec[::3],strdec[1::3],strdec[2::3])
print nums

troystribling 2 days ago 0 replies      
You can see it at Wolfram Alpha http://www.wolframalpha.com/input/?i=1%2F998001
kenver 2 days ago 1 reply      
I was searching for some iOS documentation and found this and it's totally ruined my productivity!

Can anyone explain why it repeats in this way, or link to a place that has an explanation?

onedognight 2 days ago 4 replies      
There's no 998 (and it's not a rounding issue)!

    ... 995 996 997 999

dimitar 2 days ago 2 replies      
Some fun that can fit on a poket calculator:

12345679 * 9 = 111111111

12345679 * 18 = 222222222

12345679 * 27 = 333333333

12345679 * 36 = 444444444

12345679 * 45 = 555555555

12345679 * 54 = 666666666

12345679 * 63 = 777777777

12345679 * 72 = 888888888

12345679 * 81 = 999999999

12345679 * 999999999 = 12345678987654321

m_for_monkey 2 days ago 1 reply      
The source with real (readable) text, without annoying animation:


deltasquared 2 days ago 0 replies      

  ;Here is my version in Common Lisp
;Supply your own flatten function
;or borrow one from let-over-lambda or something

(defun long-div (dividend divisor depth)
((> depth 0)
(flatten (list
(truncate (/ dividend divisor))
(long-div (* 10 (mod dividend divisor))
divisor (- depth 1)))))
(t ())))

slamdunc 2 days ago 2 replies      
Thanks for posting. I'm trying to keep a collection of these type of things so that when she's ready, it'll be another tool to get/keep my daughter excited about math.
bbloomberg 2 days ago 0 replies      
You can find the Catalan numbers buy computing 500,000,000,000 - Sqrt(500,000,000,000*500,000,000,000 - 1)....


For an explanation better than I can provide of what they are and how it works, see 6.006 lecture 11 notes!


liljimmytables 1 day ago 0 replies      
Slightly off-topic, but it bugs me that the article feels obliged to contain a picture of the number. Firstly, why the hell would you want to display plain text as a picture? Secondly, if I click through to the source, I get a slightly better picture. Did IHC take a photo of the original website with their phone camera and upload it? Mind is boggling. Encouraged by the better quality picture on geekosystem I decided to click through to THEIR source. And there's a plaintext version. Kudos to <a href="http://www.futilitycloset.com/2012/01/08/math-notes-76/<...; for having a modicum of common sense.
jrockway 2 days ago 1 reply      
Incidentally, understanding how this works is helpful to programmers. If you know why this happens, you'll know why you can't write:

   double x = 0.1;

and get something that works.

reedcat 2 days ago 0 replies      
My productivity for today went downhill! :)

Love the trick with how this can be done via differentiating the equation:

1 + r + r^2 + ... = 1/(1-r)

ilitirit 2 days ago 0 replies      
1. Take 1 as a divisor

2. Choosing a suitable dividend

3. Calculate quotient

4. Instant interesting observation!

dbieber 1 day ago 0 replies      
For all squares, http://m.wolframalpha.com/input/?i=100010000%2F999700029999&...
Tack on extra 0s and 9s to allocate more digits per square.
soosh 2 days ago 0 replies      
This reminded me of a fun fact from an old professor's paper:
1/99007599 has a binary expansion of period 48993900.


akkartik 2 days ago 1 reply      
What happens after 999? It wraps around back to 000! This is cool.
gsivil 1 day ago 0 replies      
Try taking the square root of it
monsterix 2 days ago 0 replies      
Did you read on Egyptian fractions? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Egyptian_fraction


jbdevon 2 days ago 1 reply      
Also, 1/4999 yields the sequence of square numbers.
human_error 1 day ago 0 replies      
1/49 is "almost" surprising. 0.0204081632
foobarbazgarply 2 days ago 1 reply      
Is there a number f(n) such that 1/f(n) yields all n-digit numbers, and is there a formula f to generate them?
mrobataille 2 days ago 0 replies      
Set up a recursion:
1000x - .001 (repeating) = x

The .001 repeating = 1/999, simplify, voila.

mauro_oto 2 days ago 3 replies      
The link is blocked at my workplace. I really don't understand how their filter system works.
Tim-Boss 2 days ago 0 replies      
That's nothing!
6922251 * 8 on a calculator spells my ex's nickname....
Waking up at 5am to code mattgreer.org
584 points by city41  6 days ago   195 comments top 72
nhashem 6 days 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 6 days ago 6 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 6 days 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 6 days ago 2 replies      
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 6 days 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 6 days 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 6 days 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 6 days 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 6 days 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.

tpatke 6 days 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.

radagaisus 6 days 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'.

97s 6 days 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.

dmragone 6 days 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.
GigabyteCoin 6 days 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.

duck 6 days 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.

k-mcgrady 6 days 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.

mathattack 6 days 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.

epaga 6 days 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. ;)

TomGullen 6 days 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.
j45 6 days 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.

djhomeless 6 days 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.

5vforest 6 days 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 6 days 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.

JimFMunro 4 days ago 0 replies      
There's probably little to add here, but since I've been doing a 5am coding period each morning for the last year.

First, I am 42, married with 1 kid, so that may explain some of it. ;)

Some keys:
1) Coffee maker on autobrew, but not immediately upon waking. Give yourself and your stomach time to wake up.

2) Eat and/or drink something easy upon waking. I go for the MixOne protein shakes, or OJ.

3) A clear goal of what to accomplish that morning.

4) Get enough sleep or you will burn out and have to stop for a time period of recovery. I go to sleep or rather, my body & mind collapse, at 9PM. Asleep by 9:30. I am able to get 7-8 hours of sleep every night. More than plenty.

5) Don't use anything with a screen (except maybe an e-ink Kindle) before bed. Reading helps me to get right to sleep.

Due to having a kid in preschool, I generally am limited to 1-1.5 hours in the morning. Which is just enough time to do one task and very little else, hence the need to focus on something.

notJim 5 days 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 nightsâ€"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.

samdelagarza 6 days 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.

dguaraglia 6 days 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 6 days 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
agentultra 6 days 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.

awolf 6 days 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.
nagnatron 6 days 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 6 days 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.

jyap 6 days 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.

wallunit 6 days 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.

robdoherty2 6 days 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 6 days 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.

mgrouchy 6 days 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)
wensing 6 days 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.
derekja 6 days 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...
senith 6 days 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.
zeroboy 6 days 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.

donnfelker 6 days 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.:)
liljimmytables 6 days 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.

skrebbel 5 days ago 0 replies      
Genuine interest about the doing this every day, also in the weekend: What if you got drunk last night?
jakejake 6 days 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!
messel 6 days 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!

andreiursan 6 days 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!

alanmeaney 5 days 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.

rodh257 5 days 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?
jlembeck 5 days ago 0 replies      
I find that with the insane amount of meetings and interruptions I might face in any given day that don't contribute to "coding time," this works really well to ensure that I'm getting things done and to keep my mind fresh. I can then engage on the business side of things later without having that nagging feeling in the back of my head that something needs to get done.
jayonsoftware 6 days 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.

skrish 6 days 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.

ochekurishvili 6 days 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.

veyron 5 days 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)
jseban 6 days 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.

potomak 6 days 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...

altxwally 6 days 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! :)
doc4t 6 days ago 0 replies      
For those of you, who as me, never encountered the "Kanban" method before here is a comparison with SCRUM


JoshMock 6 days 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 6 days 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.
rumcajz 6 days 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.
icodeforlove 5 days ago 0 replies      
I love this routine, but it's easy for it to fall apart for a week if you do a lot of OT at work. I found it really hard to get back into the groove after having to skip a 5am day due to OT.
firichapo 5 days 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.
iconfinder 6 days ago 0 replies      
I guess the biggest problem is that you're pretty tired at the end of the day at your normal work.
aelaguiz 6 days 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.
da5e 6 days 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."
epikur 6 days ago 1 reply      
You should buy some nice headphones, if you only have speakers right now.
guitate 6 days 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.
erkin_unlu 6 days 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 ; )
freeformz 5 days 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.
seigel 6 days ago 1 reply      
What online kanban system do you use?
kruhft 6 days ago 0 replies      
Funny enough, that's exactly what I did this morning.
Salary Negotiation: Make More Money, Be More Valued kalzumeus.com
575 points by llambda  5 days ago   192 comments top 48
bhousel 5 days ago  replies      
Like many others in the comments, I disagree with the whole "Don't be the first to state a number" strategy.

Being weaselly about your number is a very noob thing to do in a negotiation. A skilled negotiator will seize on this and anchor the negotiations in at a very low rate. You need to know your number ahead of time, and drop it on them like it's the most natural thing in the world.

Your initial offer should be high but not ridiculous. (Unless you really are that busy with work and you don't want the job anyway, then give them a ridiculous number, and see what they say. Sometimes they'll say yes anyway).

The number could be 2x whatever you make currently, or 2x whatever you think they will pay, but the important thing is that it's high, and you say it with confidence and act like it's reasonable. It's far better to work your way down from (your) high number, than up from (their) low number.

Timothee 5 days ago  replies      
One thing I often find in salary negotiation advice are lines that go like this "At my last company, I increased sales by 3% by $YADDA_YADDA".

The thing is that I can't really think of nice metrics like this, and am surprised that a lot of engineers would find something as significant as sales numbers.

For one thing, the further your metric is from strict revenue, the harder it is to put a price tag on it. A sales number is easy, but if you optimized some part of the code somewhere, it becomes much more fuzzy and longer to explain. Sure, Patrick also pushes people to get jobs were your contribution is more directly correlated to revenues, but not everyone will want a job like that, and until you do get one, you can't use that.

The other thing is that I feel it's easier to consider a sales person as directly responsible for a significant increase in revenue for their market. But engineers work in teams, so saying "I increased sales by x%" is hard to justify: what about the Product Manager that spec'ed it out? What about the rest of the engineering team that worked on that change, reviewed it, pushed it to production? If you're the only one doing all that, sure, but that's rarely the case.

So, what's a good way to come up with relevant, justified metrics like that?

jwegan 5 days ago  replies      
The suggestion to not give a number first is awful. You may not want to give your previous salary history, but you most certainly do want to give the first number. You should do your research and figure out what the company usually pays for someone of your experience (checkout glassdoor.com or ask around) and state a number that is on the very high end of reasonable. It is always easier to try and stand your ground than fight your way uphill from a low offer.

The only case you might not want to state the first number is if you can't find our what the company typically pays.

badclient 5 days ago 1 reply      
Honestly, my top advice for negotiating better: interview lots and never feel like if you don't take this job, you won't get a better one. The techniques are important. But if you don't have a solid foundation in any negotiation(options and leverage), you're fighting an uphill battle.

As it stands, patio11's advice seems to be more applicable to people who have very few job options. I'd argue most people on HN would have multiple options, even if they are shy about activating them(by applying/interviewing).

feralchimp 5 days ago 1 reply      
While I don't agree with all of the article's advice, it gets the most fundamental point right: Stop feeling guilty about asking for market compensation.

Being a nice person has nothing to do with it. It's not your fault that you're worth more than they're offering out of the gate. It's the market's fault.

Good luck out there.

run4yourlives 5 days ago 0 replies      
The best way to avoid saying the salary number is to simply ask the question of them first. In other words: "What salary range does this role warrant in your company?"

That frames the conversation really, really well. For one, if the two ideas are severely mismatched, you don't waste your time. If the number is low, you can make note of it then and explain why you are so much better than that. If the answer is non-committal, you've got a wonderful spot to review the role in detail and "come up with the number together".

If the number is high, you can reset your mid-point and focus more on their "horrible" vacation allowance that they'd need to correct to bring you on. :)

DavidChouinard 5 days ago 0 replies      
patio11 draws some content from his original "Don't Call Yourself A Programmer, And Other Career Advice"[1] which you should definitely read.

[1] http://old.kalzumeus.com/2011/10/28/dont-call-yourself-a-pro...

bryanh 5 days ago 0 replies      
I think a lot of what Patrick does well in this article is "reframing" the situation. I find once you get out of the "I don't want to offend them and lose my shot" mindset, negotiation and other "money talk" becomes really routine.

I wonder if there is value in creating "mock hiring sessions" that require you to negotiate your pay up. There are millions of "mock interviews" done in colleges every year, why not go that extra step? It seems learning to reframe the situation is easy enough to do given the proper coaching.

corin_ 5 days ago 1 reply      
"If you're sane only about 25% or so of your gross income is subject to the results of real estate negotiations. Close to 100% is subject to the results of salary negotiations. Thus, your salary negotiations are probably going to be the most important financial decisions you will ever make."

That's pretty irrelevant really, what's relevent is the difference it can make. First, if you negotiate a 20% discount on the 25% you're doing better than negotiating a 1% pay rise for the 100%. Second, a negotiated salary recurrs annually, it's not a one-off sum. So yes the conclusion is right, but for the wrong reason.

lrobb 5 days ago 2 replies      
"Applicant: Great, I can't wait to get started. Getting me that extra $4,000 would make this a much easier decision. Considering that this is conceivably worth millions to you, we'd be silly not to do business with each other."

I think the problem is that you don't have a verifiable skill that will increase sales by X%... Because if you did, then you'd be silly for only asking for an extra $4000 based off of increasing sales by millions.

inerte 5 days ago 0 replies      
The part about managers thinking less of you because you do not negotiate is completely true. Everybody wants an awesome negotiator under them. Just like if you solve P=NP on the white board on the interview will mark you as the wizard, negotiating will mark you, right from the interview, as someone who fights for what he wants, and will fight for what the project/team/company wants.
alexwolfe 5 days ago 1 reply      
I think there are a lot of people disagreeing with "Don't state the number first" but it's important to be open to new ideas.

This article is meant to make you stronger and offer some new tricks in the negotiating process. You're certainly not learning and expanding your game if you're convinced that you don't need to do anything different.

I think its important to think about what the author is really saying: Can you find out what cards their holding before they know what cards you have? Can you? It's tough, its challenging, that's the point.

The more information you have before you start making decision the better decision you're going to make, period. When you start throwing out numbers a very big decision has just been made, theres's no going back at that point.

If you're worried they are going to laugh at you, or be offended, they won't be. This is not a war, it's an interview, a chance to make an introduction and meet somebody new. Sometimes you can make connections in the interview even if you end up not taking the job. You're dealing with people, not robots. No one is out to get you. In fact, they're considering hiring you and working with you everyday!

The point is learn new tricks and push back a little.

rdouble 5 days ago 1 reply      
I'm not convinced by this article that the author has ever done a salary negotiation.
dexen 5 days ago 0 replies      
Details of strategy sure are important, but, above all, do negotiate.

A comment† by http://news.ycombinator.com/user?id=jfoster that really opened my eyes:

> You might also look at it another way, and Google probably will, too.
If you're being considered by Google and you don't negotiate, perhaps they are the ones making the mistake [by attempting to hire you].

† http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=3496512

lazerwalker 5 days ago 0 replies      
In your guys' experience, how relevant are these tips to someone speaking with relatively young startups (say, seed or Series A stage)? I know that good negotiation skills are good negotiation skills however you slice it, but I'm curious to hear from folks if they've needed to use a different set of tactics when not dealing with an "HR department" as much as a founder.
brador 5 days ago 0 replies      
I'll just say be careful when taking free negotiation advice from professional writers rather than professional negotiators..That's not to take anything away from patio11 here, just be careful and keep the salt handy.
xiaoma 5 days ago 1 reply      
>"I received a comment that this is untrue for startups by someone today. For a funded startup which has enough engineers to warrant a foosball table, the company payroll is well north of $100,000 a month."

I'm 90% sure that was in reference to this post:

Our most recent round of funding at the start-up where I'm working was 750k. (http://techcrunch.com/2011/10/24/smartots-raises-750000-offe...)

That has to cover everything for about half a year, including developers, artists, lawyers, rent, travel expenses, regulatory costs, etc... And we've made it go pretty far and will likely raise a much larger round in the near future. I'm sure everyone at the company would love to be making more money, especially those who have worked in richer countries. However, even a couple of developers pushing for the kinds of salaries that pattio11 is would mean the start-up burns its cash, the founders lose their invested time and money and worst of all, we don't improve kids' education.

Of course there is always the chance that those two guys have such beastly skills that they can get us market dominance (and profits or a much larger investment) before that happens. Would you take that gamble?

Disclosure: I don't speak for the company, I'm not privy to top level strategy discussions and I don't own any of it or represent it, etc... I do like what we're doing, though.

ssharp 5 days ago 0 replies      
I think these discussion tend to get a lot of people debating on who should offer a # first.

I don't think this is a question with a binary answer. Statistically, you may be able to determine which works better as a whole, but nobody will negotiate their salary enough times to render a proper sample. I'd guess that treating each salary negotiation uniquely will produce a higher mean salary than simply changing the "who says $ first" variable.

swanson 5 days ago 4 replies      
Any tips specifically for negotiating a higher raise? Most of the advice is targeted to the "new job"-salary negotiations.
jrockway 5 days ago 2 replies      
This is all kind of obvious, and I boil it down to: if you're moving to a new company, they should pay you more than your current job and any other offers. Ask each company for what you want to make, then let them compete against each other.

The real difficulty I had in the last round was pricing relocation; is $XX in New York better than $XX-10% in Seattle?

fragsworth 5 days ago 0 replies      
For those of you who suck at negotiations and how to go about them, I believe the single best thing you can do is to get more than one employment discussion going at the same time. Then you can be totally honest and open in your negotiations and still maximize the offer made by each company. It is quite difficult to mess it up at that point - you might not get the highest salary possible between the companies, but you will get close to the highest possible salary that at least one of the companies is willing to offer.
skrish 5 days ago 0 replies      
@patio11 Thanks for writing such a detailed blog on this.

As I read your rephrasing of questions, I remembered reading this book "In the line of fire" by Jerry Weissman. There is a concept explained in this called "Roman Column".

The key message is: Do not answer the question till you fully comprehend the roman column i.e., the key issue. You can get to your own interpretation of roman column or ask the person to clarify the question to understand better. Then paraphrase the question and address the issue head-on focussing on the roman column.

I found the book to be very interesting with lot of real examples about press meets & other negotiations.

sethg 5 days ago 0 replies      
One question I've been asked, interviewing at startups, is: “how do you feel about cash vs. equity?” For my personal financial needs, this is a no-brainer: cash is king, baby. But other HN readers might be in a position where their market-rate salary is $100K cash but they could see themselves getting by at $75K or even $50K... how should they answer that question?
vimalg2 5 days ago 0 replies      
Thanks Patrick. This was a long time coming.

I can tell you've had quite a personal journey about this topic.

sliverstorm 5 days ago 1 reply      
I always struggle internally with posts like this, or the other one I remember, "Don't Call Yourself a Programmer". To fully follow the advice underpinning these pieces, I would generally risk sacrificing a lot of personal enjoyment in my work in pursuit of money.

I know HN leans strongly towards money whenever money is at hand, but I tend to lean the other way.

dsolomon 5 days ago 0 replies      
Author drew numbers from thin air resulting in horrible advice.

Throw in - "For a funded startup which has enough engineers to warrant a foosball table, the company payroll is well north of $100,000 a month." - yet still require that employees provide their own hardware/software to do the job.

mhartl 5 days ago 0 replies      
I'd like to suggest a "comfort challenge" for patio11: apply the principles in this article to increase your stated income ($70,000 [1]) by a factor of three without compromising your quality of life. I bet it can be done.

[1] http://www.kalzumeus.com/2011/12/21/bingo-card-creator-etc-y...

geekfactor 5 days ago 0 replies      
A friend of mine turned me on to the audio version of this book, "Negotiating Your Salary: How to Make $1000 a Minute" [1], many years ago.

It's more about a mind shift than rocket-science techniques, but I can attest to increasing my income by tens of thousands of dollars by putting its ideas into practice.

[1] http://www.amazon.com/Negotiating-Your-Salary-Minute-Revised...

cgopalan 5 days ago 0 replies      
There are many people that are not comfortable with negotiation. They see it as a game, and want to avoid it. They would rather just produce something and get paid for it for a living, and cut all the bullshit. For those people, maybe the template below will help (just a suggestion).

1. Find out what you really like to do (technology or domain-wise etc)

2. Find out where you break even on your daily/monthly expenses.

3. Add to that a savings cushion that you are comfortable with. Thats your number.

4. Find out companies that do 1, and drop that number right away so that they know where you stand.

5. If company rejects, keep looking.

6. If the company okays it because they think its well below market rate, and you come to know of it, work for them for a couple of years and then jump ship.

You may have been low-balled for sometime, but you worked on something you liked, and have some experience under your belt to search for other opportunities in the same field.

tlogan 5 days ago 1 reply      
All negotiations need to end with both parties thinking they are winners. In that spirit, you need to give a number (high-end) (so called anchoring) so that other party can feel good when they convince you for less.

Also, other things (i.e., vacations first 6 months, or some small perks) mention only after you negotiated the salary and pretty much you close the deal.

chrisbennet 11 hours ago 0 replies      
"What's it going to take to get you into a top of the line
Engineer today?"
therandomguy 5 days ago 1 reply      
Always be the first one to give a number. That sets the bar. Let's say your current salary is $100K. You want $130K. You say call the number first, $160K. Now the company is negotiating against that number. If you accept $140K they will perceive it as a win for them.
mikeklaas 5 days ago 1 reply      
The advice to "never be first to state a number" should really be "never divulge your current/previous salary".
larrys 5 days ago 0 replies      
First let me say that this appears to have plenty of good information and I will definitely read the entire piece.

But I've been stopped right away by this paragraph near the beginning:

"I think that middle class Americans are socialized from a very young age to view negotiation as something that is vaguely disreputable and engaged in only by poor people. Think of the associations you have with the word “haggling”: do you think of a successful young professional talking about thousands of dollars in a brightly lit office? No, you probably think of an old woman arguing over a trivial sum of money in a dirty flea market."

Nothing could be further from the truth for people that are, as only a few examples, jewish, indian, asian and I would imagine other immigrant groups.

As a member of one of the above mentioned, it's exactly the opposite. I was raised to think if you don't negotiate you're stupid. And not only that, but if you give someone a price and they don't negotiate so is the other party.

Of course this all depends on the product or service in question obviously as well as the dollar amount.

By the way, negotiation doesn't mean someone giving you a price and you saying "will you take $x". That's something that any good negotiator will recognize as essentially saying you will pay the asking price or maybe you want them to throw you a bone.

positr0n 5 days ago 1 reply      
Great advice here, now I want to see something about negotiating a raise within your own company. I could use this information to get huge raises by changing jobs every couple years for the first decade of my career.

But what if I like my job? I want to stay here and negotiate large, fair raises. How?

jaryd 5 days ago 0 replies      
http://salarytutor.com/ this is a pretty good and fast read on the subject with some actionable advice that will help prepare you for the conversation.
rb2k_ 5 days ago 0 replies      
Speaking of salary negotiations, there is something I always wondered about the US:

What is the difference in "pure" salary vs additional costs to the empolyer?

Things like 401k contributions and benefits (e.g. dental or health) certainly come with a pricetag. Seeing as I'm doing remote work from another country, I'm not sure how much that actually saves the company. The same goes for simple things as not needing office space / electricity / ... which I provide for myself over here (as I'm working from home).

Does anybody have any insight on that?

rapind 5 days ago 0 replies      
Jut like everything in life, confidence is key. You gain confidence through experience. Try, fail, try again. Little tricks like not being the first to say a number is about as useful as pickup lines are for dating.
gleb 5 days ago 0 replies      
Real estate purchases in US are usually highly leveraged, say 5x for a typical purchase with 20% down.

So, negotiating those will have proportionally larger impact than immediate cashflow changes suggest.

The article incorrectly suggests otherwise which detracts from its authority.

spicyj 5 days ago 1 reply      
Can anyone say how applicable these suggestions are to getting internships while still in college?
throwaway1979 5 days ago 3 replies      
So here's an issue I've faced. Instead of being asked ... what's my number? I've gotten asked .. "what's your salary?" How do you deal with this one?
Anm 3 days ago 0 replies      
Random note on the site theme: This detail looks horrible, adding unnecessary high frequency contrast when selected: body { text-shadow: white 0px 1px 0px; }
mitchie_luna 5 days ago 0 replies      
I think the people who has the right to negotiate is the one who has the skill to do the job being offered. Because you know your capability, definitely, you should know what is your value in the market.

Anyway, article is interesting.

publicus 5 days ago 0 replies      
Key: never tell them your salary. Then, be the first to give the number at 2X your current salary. Then come down a little eg, 5-10% lower then 2X.

Get a bunch of offers, let them bid it even higher.

forax 5 days ago 0 replies      
Any advice for negotiating over email if you don't receive an offer until after the interview?
kurtvarner 5 days ago 0 replies      
Anyone want to give a TL;DR explanation?
nnythm 5 days ago 0 replies      
how do you negotiate equity?
Wat destroyallsoftware.com
497 points by abahgat  2 days ago   96 comments top 30
eggbrain 2 days ago 1 reply      
Wow, this title suffers from some serious editorializing. What's next, "10 ways to know if you are a hacker? (cracked.com)"
there 2 days ago 1 reply      
that weird behavior of javascript can actually be used for xss attacks, by being able to assemble strings. for example:


produces an "a".


program 2 days ago 4 replies      

   $ php -r '::'
Parse error: syntax error, unexpected T_PAAMAYIM_NEKUDOTAYIM


baddox 2 days ago 1 reply      
How does this have anything to do with a sense of humor specific to hackers? Don't all professionals enjoy jokes about their field?
flatline 2 days ago 4 replies      
Guess I'm not a hacker? It's like watching a rerun I've seen twice over with the laugh track turned up to 11 (just to clarify, someone said it was a repost but I haven't seen it before).
nodesocket 2 days ago 2 replies      
Interestingly the results from jsc, are different from node.js:

----- jsc ------

   [] + []

> [] + {}
[object Object]
> {} + []
> {} + {}

------ node.js ------

   > [] + []
> [] + {}
'[object Object]'
> {} + []
'[object Object]'
> {} + {}
'[object Object][object Object]'

farnsworth 2 days ago 0 replies      
I guess this is where we all complain about HN finally jumping the shark and turning into Reddit.
phzbOx 2 days ago 0 replies      
For some reason, what I find the most hilarious here is reading the extremely serious HN comments. It's a weird contrast.
glhaynes 2 days ago 1 reply      
Have I been pronouncing "wat" wrong all this time? I just assumed it was like "what" but ... not.
angli 2 days ago 5 replies      
This is incredibly funny, but does anyone know why the interpreter makes such bizarre decisions? Why wouldn't it be preferable to just throw up errors?
libraryatnight 2 days ago 0 replies      
Even with my limited programming knowledge I laughed a lot through this.
jrockway 2 days ago 1 reply      
I guess you had to be there. I can see why someone might find this funny, but honestly, nothing is that funny. Some behavior in Javascript is surprising, but not that surprising.
bgarbiak 2 days ago 3 replies      
What's the "correct" ("less funny"?) result of

   Array(16).join("wat" - 1) + " Batman!"


Empty strings separated with NaNs look perfectly logical to me (I'm a JS guy though, so, well, bear with me).

nessus42 2 days ago 0 replies      
I think that a hacker would also realize that the title makes no claim whatsoever about the hacker status of those who don't laugh.
hchinchilla 2 days ago 3 replies      
Does anybody knows which is the javascript interpreter he is using on the screencast?
nabilt 2 days ago 0 replies      
The presenter also has a catalog of screencasts here https://www.destroyallsoftware.com/screencasts. Haven't listen to them, but the topics look interesting.
orbitingpluto 2 days ago 1 reply      

That's 15 commas, not 16.

iapetos 2 days ago 1 reply      
why do i have to signup to know who much it costs to subscribe. I think it should be apparent on the home page.

EDIT ok my bad it was mentioned on the screencasts homepage

tylerritchie 2 days ago 1 reply      
What presentation software is he using? Is he just jumping from his slide deck into a shell?
conbtl 2 days ago 0 replies      
Congrats to all of you who laughed. You are all great hackers. I don't find this remotely funny.
baby 2 days ago 0 replies      
if you laugh, you know ruby.
greenpizza13 2 days ago 0 replies      
This is hilarious!
chetan51 2 days ago 1 reply      
franciscoapinto 2 days ago 0 replies      
This is a repost, but whatever. Hopefully people who haven't seen it before will enjoy it.
qqqqqq 2 days ago 0 replies      
Hilarious! This reminds me of a StackOverflow question which asked the users for the weirdest language quirks they could think of. I laughed pretty hard at that too.
stevenou 2 days ago 1 reply      
Wow, I laughed so hard I cried! This is hilarious...
murphysbooks 2 days ago 0 replies      
I laughed so loud I scared myself. Now, I know why my wife looks at me funny.
overshard 2 days ago 0 replies      
This is the greatest video ever.
brudgers 2 days ago 0 replies      
Quicktime? We don't need no stinking web standards!
felideon 2 days ago 0 replies      
At work people always tell me "You IT guys are all so funny."
What if Hollywood had to use tech like we have to watch movies? aaronklein.com
472 points by aaronklein  15 hours ago   81 comments top 16
fleitz 12 hours ago 1 reply      
I think this is great, we should add a licensing clause for this, if you work for a subsidiary of an MPAA member you have to check a box to get the Hollywood edition else you are not entitled to use the software, perhaps even a Hollywood IP database for internet companies.

If Hollywood execs had to sit through 5 minutes of ads to use Google they'd soon get the message.

Anyone have any ideas on how to get the IP blocks of MPAA member companies? Is there anything better than just whois'ing every class A/B/C?

I'm thinking of a javascript that creates a black modal dialog with a youtube video queue of startup video ads. Use the chromeless video player, I'll even max the volume for them.

Simple one line addition to your site and voila your startup/site/blog is Hollywood Edition.

rockarage 13 hours ago  replies      
This is just sad, I get the impression from the comments and
up votes that tech does not get Hollywood. Hollywood business only work
because only Hollywood is willing to give Christopher Nolan 200+ million
dollars to make Dark Knight, ditto with James Cameron's Avatar. When Google, Microsoft, Apple, Facebook or Yahoo decides to give a Christopher Nolan or James Cameron $200million+ to make a movie, things will be different. Then these multinationals can distribute to everyone who wants to buy the movie without DRM, without regional restriction and at a competitive price. Until then everything is just
posturing, indie budgets will not change Hollywood.
Tech world has competition, but only Hollywood is making these big budget productions.

edit: not sure why this is getting down voted, it would be interesting to see a counterpoint.

MarkTraceur 4 hours ago 0 replies      
I love this article for its irony, intentional or no.

The author cites perfect examples of why the software industry is exactly like Hollywood with its products. Word? Need a license key. Can't open or save ODT files without annoying popups. Apple? Don't even try to partition the system or it will break, and don't use the software on non-Apple hardware. Certainly don't try jailbreaking it. Google? Can we talk about privacy policies?

Of course, the biggest problem is that none of those instances of software are even accessible (fully) by their users. The user can't change the software, they can't even use the software in every capacity.

So I guess the real question is, why are we still acting like Hollywood?

blhack 14 hours ago 2 replies      
pre-edit: nevermind, Aaron removed it. Better now :)

Whatever that black popdown thing is called is really, really obnoxious.

Here is what it looks like in my browser: http://imgur.com/cKiYN

Chrome 16.0.9 on Snow Leopard.

The problem is that it covers text as I'm scrolling through the page.

To recreate it: start scrolling down the page.

gerggerg 12 hours ago 0 replies      
Most importantly, we should send them extortionate threats of law-suit based on easily fake-able evidence that claim they owe us thousands of dollars just to get us to not send them more letters.

And then when they stop using our service we'll say it must be because they're doing something illegal.

sounds 14 hours ago 3 replies      
Pure genius. You can, by the way, offer better licensing to specific companies and unaffiliated individuals -- leaving Hollywood with the unskippable ads, "premium tweets," and all the rest.

Good luck, however, winning in court to enforce your license.

ericflo 14 hours ago 1 reply      
Hollywood business aside, I think you just came up with Twitter's business model. I'm joking, but only somewhat.
quink 14 hours ago 0 replies      
You, Mr. living in San Diego, are trying to get KWIK24, PBS Wikipedia LA, instead of KOSA13, PBS Wikipedia San Diego, aren't you?

Well, unfortunately we know that you can't get it over 3G or 4G because you're outside the reception area and we've encrypted KWIK24 to be received by people in LA only on Fibre or ADSL.

KOSA13 might have 30 second ads before each article, doesn't carry half of the most popular articles and re-compresses every image with a watermark, but that's not our problem.

DanBC 6 hours ago 0 replies      
> Since they're so persnickety about licensing agreements,

I'm not convinced that they are. I'm sure that an audit of Hollywood software licensing would find many unlicensed copied (their word "stolen") bits of software.

zimbatm 2 hours ago 0 replies      
We're sorry, this tweet is not yet available in your country but we are working hard to make it possible !
mrebus 2 hours ago 0 replies      
They probably do. I download movies and they probably download tech.
paul9290 9 hours ago 0 replies      
The Twitter one sounds good then you realize an entrepreneur will come in and create a Twitter for Hollywood types. Twitter would lose millions of users to this competitor, as following celebrities draws millions.
d5tryr 13 hours ago 0 replies      
Thankfully we can use a user's ip adress to ensure this only effects Hollywood executives.
dirtbox 12 hours ago 0 replies      
Hollywood are not in the business of offering a service, only a product. This is mostly why the two aren't compatible and why they aren't interested in developing it.

The thinking is that a product is far more profitable and has higher gains than a service which bleeds money by comparison due to it's constant maintenance costs, upkeep and customer care and that drop in profit would make their pyramid business model unsustainable.

hunterp 14 hours ago 0 replies      
This is petty and immature.
mrleinad 14 hours ago 2 replies      
I think Hollywood is just a facàde for the US government. A while ago, Hillary Clinton admitted the US government is losing the "information war"[1]. What could possibly be better for winning an information war, than to pass legislation like this, under the guise of "fighting piracy"? The government could not be seen as promoting this kind of legislation.. otherwise, they´d be on the same league as Iran or China..

Hollywood´s not the problem. Your government is.

[1] Hilary Clinton Admits US Is Losing The "Information War": http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xMoeDaLV2WA

Html5please html5please.us
408 points by cleverjake  6 days ago   34 comments top 22
sushi 6 days 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 6 days 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 6 days 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.
pbhjpbhj 5 days 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/

highace 6 days 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 5 days ago 1 reply      
A link to the W3C spec or MDN page for each tag/feature would be a nice addition.
estel 6 days 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.
TomGullen 5 days 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!
tnorthcutt 5 days 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 6 days 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.
abhisec 5 days 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.
dazbradbury 6 days 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.
derleth 5 days ago 0 replies      
It scrolls really slowly and clicking the titles doesn't do anything.
vilius 5 days 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.
mattadams 5 days ago 1 reply      
How about "please don't use stuff that makes rendering horrifically slow on relatively modern hardware?"
digitallimit0 5 days 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.
kylebrown 5 days ago 0 replies      
I was expecting to see examples/demos when clicking each feature (hint hint).
phalasz 6 days ago 0 replies      
Useful site.

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

richardg 5 days ago 0 replies      
WoW! Great work.. A good resource.
supar 5 days ago 1 reply      
This page represents everything I hate about "HTML5" so far: flashy for no reason, slow as hell and for all for very little content.
gerbera 5 days ago 0 replies      
Very useful, thanks!
Supreme Court rules 9-0 that warrant absolutely needed for police GPS tracking wired.com
405 points by ck2  6 days ago   115 comments top 21
DanielBMarkham 6 days 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 6 days 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.


padobson 6 days 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.

suprgeek 5 days 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.

ck2 6 days 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

bri3d 5 days 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.
pflats 6 days 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.

blahedo 5 days 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.

thucydides 5 days 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."

jessriedel 5 days 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:


raldi 5 days 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?
pash 5 days ago 0 replies      
More interesting than the decisionâ€"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 boringâ€"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]

pwf 6 days 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 5 days 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 5 days 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 5 days 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 5 days 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 6 days 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 5 days 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 5 days ago 2 replies      
Does this mean that Facebook, Google and Apple need a warrant to track people? Or just the police?
unreal37 5 days 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.

Larry Page to Googlers: If You Don't Get SPYW, Work Somewhere Else pandodaily.com
405 points by benjlang  4 days ago   282 comments top 47
danilocampos 4 days ago  replies      
A few decades from now, when someone writes up an HBS case study on Google, how will it read?

My suspicion is that Google is going to treat us to a very painful object lesson: what happens to your business when you compromise the values of a beloved core product.

Here's the thing: having the most complete, most accurate, most relevant search results means never having to say you're sorry. You can add ads, you can do additional products, you can add a kind of clunky single-signon, whatever. Because at the end of the day, the user needs the thing you have that no one else does.

Now, Google had this. But one day, maybe around 2009, something happened. Where once I was delighted with Google's search, it started getting annoying. Things like automatically showing you a SERP for a different spelling of your query, because Google thought you were looking for that. Then they started matching to synonyms (tear and rip, say). And so this tool that used to do exactly what it was asked became too clever by half.

Meanwhile, SERP quality began to deteriorate as well. We suffered for something like 18 months under the regime of those Stack Overflow scrapers and their ilk, with plenty of equivalent nonsense in other verticals (hello, ebooks!).

So, already, Google took its eye off the ball for the one thing that previously had been inviolable. And now there's the comically titled SPYW.

Google's not stupid: they get that the rise of mobile and specialty apps/services that go with it are going to whittle away at the searches they'll be asked to do.

They've bet the company on Android and Google+ giving them an out. Android was a good call, as it puts them in the driver's seat for a lot of this mobile action. But they need the web, too. Can they get away with compromising their search with this nouveau portal strategy?

My hunch is that they're going to pay dearly in the process of finding out the answer is no. They're too big and too smart not to make the transition to whatever the next big thing is after search.

But boy â€" screwing with the golden goose that earns both reputation and cash?

Well, give 'em this: they're willing to take risks.

pg 4 days ago 4 replies      
You don't have to get a job at another company. You could also start your own.
Kylekramer 4 days ago 7 replies      
It is quite the jump from “This is the path we're headed down â€" a single unified, ‘beautiful' product across everything. If you don't get that, then you should probably work somewhere else" to "Agree with SPYW or GTFO". One is an admirable goal for a whale of a company and the other is a stubborn denial of contrary opinions. I thought Pando Daily was suppose to be a "different" tech news site.
redthrowaway 4 days ago 2 replies      
I'm seeing a whole lot of hyperbole around here for what still seems to be pretty much a non-issue. Don't like SPYW? Don't use it. It's one button. Click it, and move on. Between the Don't Be Evil script stunt from facebook/twitter and the content-free blogspam from Sarah Lacy/pandodaily, it seems like there are a few people out there who really, really want this to be an issue.

It isn't. Get over it.

staunch 4 days ago 4 replies      
I would be much more interested at working at the new Page dominated Google than the old Schmidt one. At least he's trying to do what Steve Jobs did so well: make big leaps forward.

Apple found it necessary to own more and more pieces of the stack to innovate. Google is finding itself in the same position. Almost all of the best products are restricted/closed/proprietary systems. Macs, OSX, iPhone/iPad, Facebook, Twitter, Gmail, etc.

It certainly would be nice if there was a real competitor to Google like Android competes with iOS.

kmfrk 4 days ago 1 reply      
I think the most important part of this HN thread is that people have gone from giving Google the benefit of the doubt to assuming that everything they do is a part of trying to fuck over the users in any way imaginable in a depiction that is beginning to exceed a vilification greater than Mark Zuckerberg. Google are having the biggest crisis of trust in their entire history. A Gmail alternative seems more welcome than ever before, because who knows what they will do next.

I don't really see anything newsworthy nor controversial in the article, but people are just fed up with everything Google are doing now.

It actually reminds me of the binary ways people tend to hate politicians: either, they find them evil, or they find them incompetent. Microsoft went from being evil to bumbling idiots (to wit, try to remember the Seinfeld ads) - to being sort of neutral in the game.

Now, Google have gone from being regarded as bumbling idiots to evil profit-maximizing clueless assholes who've eroded their brand and goodwill and danced on the line of antitrust suits.

Facebook seems to be viewed as consistently evil, although some developers just seem to hate them for their API and "move fast and break things" philosophy, so YMMV.

It's probably not doing them any favours that they of all the giants have the most invisible CEOs and owners of all, which makes the Google seem like an amorphous corporate blob of evil whose tendrils reach into our data and private lives. Even Ballmer adds some humanity to Microsoft, especially in the recent interview with him: http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/steve-ballmer-reboots-0....

yanw 4 days ago 1 reply      
So instead of commending the CEO on articulating a vision and being determined about it the author somehow spins the words to fit the Google bashing theme of her previous posts.

To be clear: "This is the path we're headed down â€" a single unified, ‘beautiful' product across everything. If you don't get that, then you should probably work somewhere else" != “Fuck off”.

There is plenty that could be said about the sad state of tech blogging but some of the blame falls on Google because they are losing the PR battle. It's obvious that PR staff from Twitter/Facebook and others are doing a much better job at selling their rhetoric to these tech blogs, specially to the newly formed blogs looking for audience and traffic.

brador 4 days ago 4 replies      
Leaders should lead with a unique style. Their way.

Larry's playing catchup with Facebook while thinking he can be Steve Jobs, and that, together with guarding the cents by removing the little things that made life @Google awesome (bagels anyone?) has led to low morale among the workforce.

Geeks with low morale don't get shit done.

They don't innovate. They don't create.

Google staff aren't code monkeys, they're not going to stick around to keep the seats warm.

The good ones will spend every hour of the day doing the bare minimum required to still get a paycheck while finding a new job.

It's money not passion that's preventing them leaving. And that's a pretty depressing atmosphere to work in.

cbs 4 days ago 1 reply      
Guys, unless you're actually a player, save yourself the headache and don't get caught up in this little valley tiff.

I think SPYW is dumb, but google is trying something to improve search results, it happens to use data that they have on the user. I don't think they need permission from everyone in the valley with a sign-in service they can't crawl before they're allowed to make changes that are meant to improve search. So all the bitching about it really smells like the big guys trying to SEO through telling google that they can't change their algorithm in a way that they lose rank.

knowtheory 4 days ago 0 replies      
I misread the title and clicked expecting an argument about why Google thinks SPDY (http://www.chromium.org/spdy ) is vital to internets or something :(

This is much less cool/interesting.

moocow01 4 days ago 1 reply      
Ah yes... and everybody thought Google was immune to the tech company lifecycle. My guess is this is where the downslide begins (which will probably be decades for a company of Google's size).

I've seen this play out in small and large companies alike ... once the business model gets solidified and turns into a cash cow all the execs go into defense mode which manifest itself in a number of ways but my way or the highway is usually a big one.

mekoka 4 days ago 0 replies      
How did it go from

This is the path we're headed down â€" a single unified, ‘beautiful' product across everything. If you don't get that, then you should probably work somewhere else.


If you don't get SPYW, work somewhere else.

I understood the first as "if you don't understand our goals, you should probably not be working here" and the second as "our way or the highway".

jordan0day 4 days ago 0 replies      
I really like how the article speculates that talented Google employees who value "don't be evil" enough to consider quitting over SPYW would take jobs at... Facebook.
rhizome 4 days ago 3 replies      
SPYW: "Search Plus Your World"
Hominem 4 days ago 1 reply      
Am I the only one that thinks SPYW is the right direction? We have seen that rankings were increasingly being gamed. Algorithmic search is a never ending arms race. SPYW aligns with what google has been trying to do for a while, provide results that are relevant and worthwhile to the user. If my mom searches for digital cameras , she would rather have a link to something written on G+ by someone in her circle than a blurb on a content farm.Algorithmic search is a no win situation, there is no way to judge the value of the link, they need to do that through +1 and other social features. It is just wisdom of crowds.
kls 4 days ago 1 reply      
I can't help but feel like this is the equivalent event of Ballmer throwing the chair.

It's good to have decent among a company so long as it is promoted in a healthy manner, having employees grumble about it at the water cooler only serves to infect the ranks but promoting an open forum where any person can decent and others can rebut allows people to at least understand why the decision where made. In some manner the conflict may be resolved for all parties through a unforeseen solution and by having a forum you promote solutioning. If I worked at Google I would be looking for the door, not because of the issue at hand but because when someone else is told to GTFO, I take it as a signal that it's probably time for me to go to because the open forum has died. It's sad really they where the Bell Labs of this time, a dream and people need dreams.

funkah 4 days ago 0 replies      
Well, sounds like the man has a vision, and is being unambiguous about what it is. I can appreciate that, at least. Count me among the folks that don't "get it", though.
RobertKohr 4 days ago 1 reply      
I don't care much about google+ infiltrating search.

What I care most about is that searches are now more fuzzy.

If I want to search for terms : A B C D

The results will consist of things with any combination of those items, and sometimes things that are similar to those items.

There used to be a + operator to force things, but that has been removed in the last half year.

They supposedly added back something similar when you wrap things in quotes, but that doesn't work either.

Now when I go to bing and search for +A +B +C +D, it really does just return only the results I am looking for.

This is critical for searching for tech stuff.

Not convinced? Try:
+trueskill +javascript
In google, bing, and duckduckgo.

g1x 4 days ago 2 replies      
> There's a full-on war for developer talent that the company has already been struggling withâ€" along with every single startup and sexier large companies like Facebook, Twitter and Zynga.

What makes Zynga, Twitter and Facebook "sexier"?

> Then again, a lot of what we're hearing is from X-Googlers. Google has been competing for employees for a while by simply shelling out more cash. Perhaps newer hires are just there for the paycheck, more than the much-vaunted mission.

What percentage of Zynga hires are there for the paycheck as opposed to the "mission"?

trotsky 4 days ago 0 replies      
I wonder which of the prestige investors that Sarah just closed told her to write these Google hit pieces. Good old valley "journalism".
steve8918 4 days ago 0 replies      
Let's hope that the quote isn't true. There's nothing that signals "jumping the shark" better than arrogance and the sense of untouchability. It's almost cliche how people at their peak think they can say and do whatever they want without consequences.
nazar 4 days ago 1 reply      
Meta: Throwing the new terms as SPYW around as if they have been around for at least for decade I believe is wrong. At first I thought its some kind of certificate, or even some kind of vaccination.
Wrap 4 days ago 0 replies      
I'm not going to discuss the article itself as others have already said what I wanted to say,,
rather let's take a look at the author of the article: Sarah Lacy.

To give you an idea of who Sarah Lacy is, let's check out a video titled:
"Mark Zuckerberg Interview with Sarah Lacy at SXSWi"

After you've checked out that, read the article again and you'll see what I'm pointing at; Sarah Lacy is not an unbiased source, rather she's an FB mouthpiece.

peterwwillis 4 days ago 1 reply      
Spent over 20 minutes to disable all of Google's bullshit personalization of search. I swear to Bob, if they shove one more god damn "feature" into Search i'm gonna make my default engine Yahoo.
Stormbringer 4 days ago 0 replies      
While I agree with the premises that

(a) doctoring the search results is killing the golden goose


(b) Google is essentially just a big advertising company

The reality is that even with watered down results they are still better than their competitors.

If I want to search MSDN then Google gives better results than Bing.

Think about that for a moment. How can Bing be a serious competitor to Google when they can't even search their own site properly???

So I think that there is some wriggle room for Google here. They can water the beer down... but it is still better than the cow piss the pub down the road is serving.

silkodyssey 4 days ago 0 replies      
I would much prefer to see Google fail trying to stay relevant than fail (like RIM) for not being able to adapt.
loceng 4 days ago 0 replies      
This has nothing to do with "if you don't get SPYW"

Search Plus Your World itself can change and evolve.

All of this negative media is being perpetuated by Twitter and Facebook who are losing massive amounts of free traffic they used to get.

If Twitter and Facebook want to be guaranteed to be in Google's results, then they should guarantee that Google/Google+, etc. show up in Twitter and Facebook's search, though that's probably not a very good deal for Google - and Facebook wouldn't do that because of their closed/controlled ecosystem, and Twitter wouldn't want that traffic leak either.

I would point this to being hypocritical and just trying to stir up negative public opinion about the whole thing - because it's all Twitter/Facebook are able to do.

Don't you think Google is tracking the effects of their changes?

And they likely did small tests first too. They can still measure the user's experience and maybe it actually is providing results people care and benefit from just as much.

JulianMorrison 4 days ago 0 replies      
I think this is just mistaken. How is mixing your social circle into your search NOT relevant? Given that people routinely move in tight cliques, whether or not they know it. If all your buddies are into kink, a search for "horse" or "crops" is likely to turn up something rather different from if they are into agriculture, and this is not uncool.
resnamen 4 days ago 0 replies      
I don't understand why the TC diaspora gets so much attention. Have they earned the spotlight for reasons other than just being inflammatory?
lifeisstillgood 4 days ago 0 replies      
I'm dubious just how much relevance social signals add.
And for me this is the crux of the matter.

It looks like google is just chasing after facebook,
with the sole intention of monetizing those lovely social graphs.

That might not be evil, but it loses you a lot of goodwill. Telling the cows they are monetisabke beef units will hurt Daisy's feelings.

If the google search page came with some means of showing the raw search and the adjusted ones, we might be willing to give them the benefit of the doubt (I.e. Your results, plus the raw duckduckgo equivalent, plus the ones based on your past search history but ignoring your google+ account etc)

google is search, and the other posts are right - they forget that at their peril. But they can be forgiven the other dalliances if they can show us how those products made search better

dbin78 4 days ago 0 replies      
First, I honestly do not understand the notion that Google is being “Evil” with Search Plus Your World. How is changing your product, whether it ends up being good or bad, evil?

Second, my friends and family have no idea what SPYW is and don't notice a difference. Heck, the majority of the searches I do are not drastically change to any large degree.

zak_mc_kracken 4 days ago 0 replies      
Yet another "Google is turning evil" article. We've had these regularly since Google went public in 2004.


zizee 3 days ago 0 replies      
SPYW -> Search Plus Your World.

This is the path we're headed down â€" a single unified, ‘beautiful' product across everything. If you don't get that, then you should probably work somewhere else.” -larry page memo

misterbwong 4 days ago 1 reply      
I wonder why Bing/Yahoo isn't making a fuss about this. It'd be a good time for them to capitalize on the bad pub.
skeltoac 3 days ago 0 replies      
Eventually Google's algorithms will be so smart that they will index your sentiments to give you the experience most likely to retain you as a user. Maybe your Google will look like 2008.
apg 4 days ago 2 replies      
This all makes no never-mind to me, as I'm going to turn that right off (you can do that, right?). I prefer to evaluate on my own what information is relevant and what isn't. Happy accidents, you know.

Did Google ever announce what the rationale for this is, from a revenue perspective? Is a link with content that a person is likely to recognize also likely to generate extra revenue?

rogerchucker 4 days ago 0 replies      
<fantasy> Google will have a mutiny where someone will kick out Larry and spin off Android, Google+, Youtube and Chrome OS and shift the focus back to basic Web search </fantasy>
salimane 4 days ago 1 reply      
what I haven't seen in the previous comments is that people naively don't learn from past experiences or other failures. Now let me explain :

- CURRENTLY, we can safely say Google core product is search and at least CURRENTLY people still needs "google search".

- will it be the same in the FUTURE ? well, you don't have to know the answer, but I'm sure some crazy numbers crunching happen every day at Google and those would signal some trends about "google search" in favor or not.

- Now let's learn from "some failures"...Microsoft didn't want to reinvent itself, they thought their cash cows (windows & office) will always give them a foot ahead, so never wants to let them go and try something totally new without "windows" in them...well u know their history.

- Apple once was "Apple Computer", changed to "Apple Inc", entered new industries, created new ones, planning to enter new ones, never cared about "ideals, fair treatment, transparent", never care about what their users think they want, they controlled all their products like never seen before, they basically do what they want and their customers just take it or leave it...basically in short, 13 billions of profits in a quarter!!!

Now with all above, assume you're smart, can learn quickly, , you're Larry Page and you don't want to become something of the past, what will you do ?

tocomment 4 days ago 1 reply      
Hey guys, should I know what spyw is? The article doesnt see, to say.
bjdixon 4 days ago 8 replies      
So, what are people using as alternatives these days? I use gmail, google talk and google.com exclusively for email, chat and search. If (for arguments sake) I wanted to switch what is there of similar quality that still be around and relevant in 3 or 4 years?
scoot 4 days ago 0 replies      
I didn't know what SPYW was, and swear my first thought was it must be an abbreviation for SPYWare. Which is more than a little ironic now I know what it actually stands for.
zmonkeyz 4 days ago 0 replies      
I'm just amazed that this is such a big deal.
code_pockets 4 days ago 1 reply      
I think duckduckgo works like google should.

That's why I changed , and will never go back.

BiosElement 4 days ago 0 replies      
This nonsense gets voted up? Why cater to Google bashers, because that's all the author is doing.
latj 4 days ago 0 replies      
dhruvbird 4 days ago 0 replies      
It's not even 1st of April today.
Show HN: We made an addictive way to browse pictures on reddit mongout.com
396 points by bwm  4 days ago   138 comments top 69
m0th87 4 days ago 3 replies      
I can't imagine using this over reddpics. Their tiled interface allows me to browse posts faster than the normal reddit interface. This in contrast feels slower than either, since you can only see a single image at a time.
nostromo 4 days ago 1 reply      
I like it. Imgur actually has left / right arrow support as well. (Example: http://imgur.com/gallery/ExxXR then hit â†') I find it works well for a few chuckles if I happen to be eating at my desk in search of some web bubblegum.
thebdmethod 4 days ago 3 replies      
I'm surprised you aren't getting more love on this one. I've already added the site to my bookmarks bar. I love reddit primarily for the images.

Usually my browsing of reddit is done like this.

1. Click homepage.

2. Determine which links are images.

3. Click image link

4. Chuckle, or shrug

5. Two finger swipe back on my trackpad on lion

6. Scroll

7. Repeat 2 - 6

Now its

1. Go to Mongout
2. Click right
3. Repeat 2 ... again and again

I'm also a big fan of the progress bar. If there was no bar I'd feel ungrounded in the infinite space of reddit. Additionally, because its so addicting to look at reddit images, I can say to myself "I'll look at enough images that fills one progress bar"

Its super simple, and really well executed. Big time props!

dotBen 4 days ago 3 replies      
It's probably worth noting that in other parts of the English speaking world, the word "mong" is derogatory and offensive.

I'm not sure if "MongOut" is a derivative of MongoDB, but if you're aiming at a maintream global audience you might want to consider the sensitivities.

yarone 4 days ago 2 replies      
You should preload the next image, so when I hit [right] key, it just shows up without delay.
goo 4 days ago 1 reply      
Awesome work! -- I've also built something that is, awkwardly, nearly exactly the same. Check out http://imgist.com
sendos 4 days ago 1 reply      
I just use a bookmarklet I wrote (https://gist.github.com/1572878), which enables me to go to any reddit page, and then click the bookmarklet to see all the images inline.
peterwwillis 4 days ago 0 replies      
This is basically why I hate the internet.
MengYuanLong 4 days ago 1 reply      
Very enjoyable.

Feature Requests:

1. Preload next image? My connection sucks so pre-loading would be extremely valuable.

2. I would also love to see the top comment for each photo. Though, I suppose that may make it less addicting and cause traffic to bleed back to Reddit.

Great work ^_^

franciscoapinto 4 days ago 4 replies      
Right, I'll just round up my suggestions and those I agreed with from other comments:

- In portuguese, and I imagine a lot of other languages, "mongo" is a pretty nasty word. Think "retard", only worse.

- Have this linked with your reddit account so you can up/down vote. Also, then you could, by default, show pics from the user's default subreddits. You should allow an user to add/remove subreddits to get pics from, independently from the user's default subreddits.

- Gamify this. Think up some sort of achievements (opting out has to be an option, of course). First step: you have that bar filling up, what about having a counter nearby, which increments everytime the bar fills?

- You should do some preloading up to a max of USER_CONFIGURABLE_NUMBER images, have a sane default like 1 or 2.

That's it for now.


- I just got a imgur "this image is no longer available" thingy. I think you can scratch those from showing up entirely.

- You could add some sort of sharing feature. A permalink would be a nice step in that direction. I just found an image I'd like to share with a friend and I noticed mongout wasn't gonna be a part of that process.

aaronf 4 days ago 1 reply      
I like the idea - but it doesn't feel "addictive" yet.

Feature request: filter out photos of cats.

symkat 4 days ago 0 replies      
I made something similar last week (http://image-roulette.com/), but it just uses imgur itself, instead of the reddit-curated images.

I think your approach was better.

Bockit 4 days ago 2 replies      
I've been using Flipboard[1] on the iPad to read pic heavy subreddits that I don't necessarily want to see everything from but like to browse from time to time.

Yahoo pipes[2] turns the subreddit's top stories .json representation into an RSS feed, and then Twitterfeed[3] posts that RSS feed to a custom twitter account which I can then follow on Flipboard.

I got this setup from http://miguelrios.org/reddit-in-flipboard/ and a handy trick is to combine subreddits. So for example I have the 'SFW Porn Network' reddits all combined using the + e.g., /r/earthporn+cityporn+... etc.

[1]: http://flipboard.com/

[2]: http://pipes.yahoo.com/pipes/

[3]: http://twitterfeed.com/

joshu 4 days ago 0 replies      
I love the idea of this, but one of the problems with building products like this is that it's basically other people's content (or other people's other people's content...) and is probably hard to scale a business around properly.
artursapek 4 days ago 2 replies      
Very nicely made. My only criticism is the purple progress bar- what's the point of it? I thought I was going to run out of images when it filled up, but it just kept going. Is that filling an indication that it's going to yesterday's posts? It feels unneeded, it's distracting.
program 4 days ago 1 reply      
Put on bigger controls for embedded devices that have no keyboard.
nodata 4 days ago 0 replies      
1. Make ESC close zoomed images.

2. Let me get the URL of the reddit page somehow.

3. Add tooltips for the arrows - what does the down arrow do?

scoot 4 days ago 1 reply      
Well done. Kept me engaged to the last picture. A couple of observations though:

The left-right keys still advance to the previous / next picture in the background, when the comments are in the foreground. Suggest that a left or right hides the comments as well as moving forward or back.

I second the comment made elsewhere on pre-loading the next picture to save your users waiting for the load-time.

How do I navigate the comments with the keyboard? I use the cursor keys to scroll down, and it doesn't work, as up / down is mapped to show / hide comments.

jbox 4 days ago 0 replies      
monkeypizza 4 days ago 0 replies      
If you only want to see the images I made a bookmarklet [1] that inlines them, & does imgur images smartly too. It's good for f7u12, at least.

[1] http://fuseki.net/home/linked-images-bookmarklet.html

mwhooker 4 days ago 2 replies      
Here's a lower-fi version;funny;humor;comics;reddit.c...

hack the URL to control subreddits

source here

nc 4 days ago 0 replies      
Thanks for the feedback!

We've pushed up a new version:

- preloads the next image, slightly faster than before.

- smarter ordering, the newest and best content is pushed in hourly.

- finally, a tweet button to spread the love.

fluidcruft 4 days ago 0 replies      
Thanks. There went 40min.
gitarr 4 days ago 1 reply      
I do not like these kind of services because they take away ad revenue from the sites providing and generating that content.

"Mongout" seems to do this for reddit and imgur, both sites where I willfully disable my ad-blocker.

lucisferre 4 days ago 0 replies      
Addictive is an understatement. You should all be killed before you murder and further productivity!

Seriously, nice job, very cool.

davidcollantes 4 days ago 0 replies      
I am in love with it. Never browsed Reddit with so much enthusiasm as I am doing it now. Like it so much, I created an account; I never cared for one before.

Thank you!

bwm 4 days ago 0 replies      
We've got some pretty granular analytics on the site. It'll be interesting to measure how much people are engaging with it. We'll probably write a blog post sometime over the next few days regarding this if anyone is interested.
jkap 4 days ago 1 reply      
You mean other than just using reddit?
g3orge 4 days ago 0 replies      
wow. this is amazing, I always wanted some like this. Is there any way we can choose subreddit?
mrchess 4 days ago 0 replies      
Might defeat the purpose but you should add top comments as well. Part of the fun of browsing is the added contextual humor :)
wasd 4 days ago 1 reply      
Down arrow isn't working for me. What is it supposed to do?
marknutter 4 days ago 0 replies      
Now all it needs is some good content
jmau5 4 days ago 0 replies      
You must be against the advancement of the human race. Don't we all spend enough time on Reddit already?

Just kidding, this is excellent. Great job!

samnm 4 days ago 0 replies      
The only thing I really want is better urls. If I see an image/thread I want to share I would love to just be able to simply copy the url.
MichaelApproved 4 days ago 2 replies      
Tech issue, can't scroll comments on the iPad.
wavephorm 4 days ago 1 reply      
Sorry, clicking next, and waiting 5 seconds before seeing the next image is not what I'm after.
malingo 4 days ago 2 replies      
Wow, the image came up when I first loaded that page was absolutely NSFW. Yikes. Be careful.
mrphoebs 4 days ago 0 replies      
I love the interface. It would be great if you could add the ability to login, upvote/downvote (near the comments icon). Realtime reddit content would be great.
raheemm 4 days ago 1 reply      
Great site! What's the stack this is built on?
lowglow 3 days ago 0 replies      
What about imgur's ad revenue? If you're circumventing that, then you're shooting your very platform in the foot.
denysonique 4 days ago 0 replies      
Would be cool if you added pushState or /#/ history.
You can for example use history.js: https://github.com/balupton/history.js
paintAcquaint 4 days ago 1 reply      
This site's really slick! Do you think you could add an auto-play feature so it'll be a slideshow? I've got two monitors hooked up and it'd be a good screen filler to have that just running on one screen.
FigBug 4 days ago 0 replies      
I made something similar, but as a desktop app. It does all web pages, not just images.


dman7 4 days ago 0 replies      
Neat! Intuitive, no explanation needed except for the diagram of the arrow keys below. Suggestion: Add a timer to show people how much time they waste (of course, not everybody wants to see that).
johtso 4 days ago 0 replies      
Slick site! It would be good if going back through the navigation history took you through the images you had viewed. Currently it just goes in and out of thread view.
noonat 4 days ago 0 replies      
I like this a lot. It's very difficult to hit the arrow buttons on an iPhone, though. An alternative navigation method or larger hit areas would be helpful.
henryl 4 days ago 0 replies      
I would put the title on top.
dholowiski 4 days ago 0 replies      
erenemre 4 days ago 0 replies      
Delicious. An easy up/down vote way would be great.
cefarix 4 days ago 0 replies      
I just wasted 3 hours on this (in a good way).
kcvv 4 days ago 1 reply      
I've been using http://pics.fefoo.com for a long time for the same purpose.
vivekjishtu 4 days ago 0 replies      

I had made something similar a while back.

shubsengupta 4 days ago 0 replies      
I really like this idea and the simplicity of it! Great work, and can't wait to see what future iterations bring!
overworkedasian 4 days ago 0 replies      
you might as well use this: http://imgur.com/gallery
rheeseyb 4 days ago 1 reply      
Great job guys. Add in the support for subreddits and you've got yourself an instantly addictive product!
jeffdechambeau 4 days ago 1 reply      
Something needs to happen when you fill the bar, otherwise, why is it changing?
jasimq 4 days ago 0 replies      
Good work. It's pretty clean.

Consider mapping a key to share links too

__abc 4 days ago 0 replies      
Isn't the addictive way to browse pictures on reddit, reddit?
pentarim 4 days ago 0 replies      
Y u post it here instead of reddit? jackiechan.jpg (its nice btw :)
shaunpud 4 days ago 0 replies      
Seriously, I enjoy visiting HN and loading all the articles and comments in a new tab that appeal to me then slowly going through them but since first landing on this beauty I've been clicking through images for the last hour!
Baba_Chaghaloo 4 days ago 0 replies      
It is addictive but the little arrows are a pain on the iPhone.
ryanmarsh 4 days ago 0 replies      
Thank you, I just lost an hour of my life. Addictive, check.
realschool 4 days ago 0 replies      
My internet connection maybe slow, but there was a lot of load time between pictures.

But did use it for like 10 minutes.

overworkedasian 4 days ago 0 replies      
so basically, you are just relinking imgur images? really?
daniel_iversen 4 days ago 0 replies      
Awesome man, well done its so captivating!!
tr 4 days ago 0 replies      
you should show the top couple comments
fbpcm 4 days ago 0 replies      
I love not having to use my mouse.
shinji97 4 days ago 0 replies      
I think you need a favicon =)
vld 4 days ago 0 replies      
Make this for 9gag! Please.
A Brief, Incomplete, and Mostly Wrong History of Programming Languages james-iry.blogspot.com
385 points by DanielRibeiro  5 days ago   45 comments top 13
bitops 5 days ago 0 replies      
Only two minor quibbles:

1) did not mention Clojure.

2) broke the amusing narrative a bit in the middle by including a true story (Perl).

Really funny otherwise.

skrebbel 5 days ago 1 reply      
I hate the factual inaccuracies in this post.

For example, it says that Rasmus Lerdorf got the idea for PHP at a neighbourhood Italian restaurant, but Qeqertarsuaq has no Italian restaurants.

f4stjack 5 days ago 4 replies      
"1996 - James Gosling invents Java. Java is a relatively verbose, garbage collected, class based, statically typed, single dispatch, object oriented language with single implementation inheritance and multiple interface inheritance. Sun loudly heralds Java's novelty.

2001 - Anders Hejlsberg invents C#. C# is a relatively verbose, garbage collected, class based, statically typed, single dispatch, object oriented language with single implementation inheritance and multiple interface inheritance. Microsoft loudly heralds C#'s novelty."

Hands down epic definition win.

chalst 5 days ago 1 reply      
We've had this story here several times before, most notably:




antirez 5 days ago 0 replies      
a rare instance of programming humor that is actually fun
mafro 5 days ago 1 reply      
Absolutely brilliant. As a relative HN newbie, this really should posted about once a year.

"Later still, in an effort to cash in on the popularity of skin diseases the language is renamed ECMAScript."

johnx123-up 5 days ago 0 replies      

  2003 - A drunken Martin Odersky sees a Reese's Peanut Butter
Cup ad featuring somebody's peanut butter getting on
somebody else's chocolate and has an idea. He creates Scala,
a language that unifies constructs from both object oriented
and functional languages. This pisses off both groups and
each promptly declares jihad.

Nice take:-)

ThomPete 5 days ago 1 reply      
If you haven't already I would really recommend you to read the book:

The Information: A History, a Theory, a Flood


Great detailed historical perspective and lots of aha moments.

vvnraman 5 days ago 3 replies      
This has to be the best line - It is a syntax error to write FORTRAN while not wearing a blue tie.
laconian 4 days ago 1 reply      
I wouldn't mind an entry about the metastasis of Javascript beyond the confines of the browser. The awfulness of JS refuses to go away!
aussiegirl 4 days ago 0 replies      
The oldest use of programming was in ancient times. They even had automated plays that were "programmed" with ropes and spindles.

Sadly, the records of much of which were probably lost with the library of alexandria.


v33ra 4 days ago 0 replies      
//Programmable Hyperlinked Pasta (PHP)//

No wonder it is being served by a 'server'! :)

daniel_iversen 5 days ago 0 replies      
LOVE it! :) :)
Hastebin hastebin.com
372 points by neilparikh  5 days ago   66 comments top 21
kingkilr 5 days ago 4 replies      
I don't care how elegant everyone seems to find this, it took me more than 0 seconds to figure out how to use, I'm sticking to http://paste.pocoo.org/
Dobbs 5 days ago 5 replies      
I'm very confused how everyone thinks this looks good?

I can only speak for myself but I find the font hard to read. The background color is very distracting (and frankly ugly). When using code highlighting the foreground colors clash horribly imho.

The icons are small and on a large monitor hard to see. This is made worse by similarity between the icon color and background.

When I see this all I can think about is John Nunemaker's statment: "But we are hackers and hackers have black terminals with green font colors!"

On the bright side I like the name, and the command line tool is neat.

shocks 5 days ago 2 replies      
My favourite pastebin is https://gist.github.com/

No account needed, public/private, pastes are git repos, and history.

franciscoapinto 5 days ago 3 replies      
Very beautiful, but I think the future is actually something like http://ideone.com. I'd also like to be able to manually set the language for syntax highlighting purposes. I have to give these guys major props on the simplicity/prettiness of the UI and providing keyboard shortcuts for everything (even for twitter!).

EDIT: Oh, and like some other commenters I liked how the URLs are made of consonant-vowel pairs, so as to make them pronounceable. Very cool touch!

EDIT2: I promise to not edit this further, but I'd also like to congratulate them on the sane colorscheme. Very easy on the eyes, espec. compared to something like pastebin.com

lubutu 5 days ago 2 replies      
I like the simplicity of the interface, though it seems to insist that everything I save is Erlang code. I also wish the haste command wasn't a special Ruby client; something POST-driven like http://sprunge.us would be fantastic.
kennywinker 5 days ago 1 reply      
language detection is a bit broken. Both documents I tried were wrongly detected. ascii text was read as .vbs, and a rails controller was read as .py.

I see in the comments I can just change the suffix to get different highlighting, but just thought I'd mention this.

aleem 5 days ago 0 replies      
First impressions is that the minimalism compromises usability. I did have to think for a moment.

(1) The control panel hides really long lines.

(2) Really long lines! A bigger gutter would be good on the right hand side. In fact, that would free up the entire right hand side for the controls and whatever else.

(3) The colour scheme got in the way for me, especially with syntax highlighting. Increasing font size drastically improved it for me so I have to ask, have you considered a bigger default font.

(4) Would be cool if you showed a list of recently edited documents (via cookies or whatever). That way I wouldn't accidentally lose stuff.

mwmnj 5 days ago 0 replies      
This is awesome! If you start getting a lot of traffic and want to monetize, I suggest making sure your ads are completely unobtrusive and keep them with the minimal design of the site. Ugly annoying ads are the downfall of most other paste sites.
pkulak 5 days ago 0 replies      
Wow, this is really nice. 30 days seems a bit short though. I'd love to use this for testing (for projects that download from services on the internet) but if I don't run the test for a month, it'll break.
Arkeus 5 days ago 2 replies      
There are quite a few things I really like about it. It makes it really easy to quickly share something without having to choose the language for it to reasonably syntax-highlight (and the ability to change the URL for more precise highlighting is very nice).

My main gripe is the hotkeys. In the latest stable Chrome, some hotkeys (control+n, control+t) don't work, as they perform the native chrome operations (open new window, open new tab).

Achshar 4 days ago 0 replies      
what is it really? it took me some good effort to figure out what it was.. i still like pastebin more. Minimalism is apparently not always a good thing.
sigvef 5 days ago 0 replies      
I love how the generated URLs are crafted to be pronounceable - nice touch.
moe 5 days ago 0 replies      
Hands-down the best pastebin design I've seen.

Gonna use this instead of pastie from now on.

nilved 5 days ago 1 reply      
It might already be available, but I was unable to find it at first glance: is it possible to set pastes to expire? Private, expiring pastes are why I prefer Pastebin over sites like Pastie.
grusk 5 days ago 0 replies      
Other alternatives for publishing notes (not code):

* http://pen.io - for example PAGENAME.pen.io -- no account required, and you can edit if you have the password to the page, however you can't format the text)

* http://hackpad.com - account registration is quick and you can format your text

cangencer 5 days ago 0 replies      
I like it, simple and gets the job done and has keyboard shortcuts.

Seems to be developed in node.js and supports Redis, Memcahced or File based storage and uses phonetic key generation.

Impressive to see how little code there actually is in the actual application too.

sycren 5 days ago 0 replies      
I like what they did with the text area, but how could they change the style of its scroll bar?
logn 5 days ago 1 reply      
you should add a linux utility so i can pipe stuff to it... like
$ cat mydata.tab | cut -f1,2,3 | sort | uniq | hastebin > hasteoutputurl.txt

and hastebin puts the url in std out
and maybe an option to put the url in std err and pass thru the input

xxiao 5 days ago 0 replies      
don't even know how to use it, what is it for? one more hacknews junk
TCS 5 days ago 0 replies      
I like it very simple to use
How Much Is an Astronaut's Life Worth? reason.com
357 points by johno215  2 days ago   178 comments top 31
DanielBMarkham 1 day ago  replies      
This is about 25 years too late, but good.

The problem here is that NASA is a political agency, not a scientific one. Each year, elected politicians sit down and decide how much they're going to get.

This means the number one rule is don't make us look bad. You can't waste too much money, you can't go making a bunch of controversial statements, and good grief, whatever you do don't have astronauts getting exploded on TV.

The analogy with the mission-centric military was a good one. Unfortunately, as we involve the U.S. military in more and more missions that look highly political, we're going to end up with a badly broken military, for exactly the same reasons.

NASA should have but one mission: lower cost to orbit. If they can reach a 1000-fold reduction in cost to low-earth orbit, a lot of scientific research, exploration, and commercialization can take place.

noonespecial 1 day ago  replies      
Space is dangerous. We should stop pretending it can be made "safe". It just gives politicians something to wag their tongues at when something inevitably goes wrong.

If you go to space you might not come back. That's why explorers rock and everyone else watches TV.

The article also misses an important variable. How much is discovery worth? Once that's added to the plus column, all of the other costs seem insignificant.

mechanical_fish 1 day ago 2 replies      
Mars is key to humanity's future in space. It is the closest planet that has the resources needed to support life and technological civilization.

... well, except for air, and food. But there's water! Which we can detect with sensitive instruments!

This whole article has no point. As everyone in the military knows full well, if the benefit is great enough humans will happily risk other human lives, even expend lives, by the thousands and even millions.

The "problem" is that there's nothing for humans to do in space that is worth so much as a single human life. This isn't 1937 anymore; the transistor and the IC have been invented and we know how to build robots. These days even the military pilots on Earth spend more and more time in chairs on the ground, steering robots, often from halfway around the world.

tokenadult 2 days ago 5 replies      
This article ended up being more interesting than I expected. Particularly noteworthy is the point that if a program sets an unusually high value on human life, it diverts resources from other programs also intended to protect human life, and thus brings about LESSENED protection of human life through that drain on resources. This provides thoughtful perspective on policy trade-offs. As Thomas Sowell has written, "The first lesson of economics is scarcity: There is never enough of anything to satisfy all those who want it. The first lesson of politics is to disregard the first lesson of economics."
chernevik 1 day ago 1 reply      
Apollo was a national security project -- demonstration of our system, exploration of technology of potential military importance.

Fixing Hubble was really important. I'm not sure how much the shuttle's work was of the same magnitude, or couldn't have been done with automated gear.

BUT bureaucratic and political imperatives called for continuation of the space program, at scale, and that called for justification of the costs. The money is no big deal, but if those justifications aren't that good, the collision of those weaknesses with the human risks will cause cognitive dissonance. If the people concerned haven't the will to rethink the whole thing -- and there are many examples of much, much larger failures -- you're going to see some strange behavior along the way. Shuttles failed twice in 100 missions, is the milestone of first senator in orbit really worth a 2% fatality risk? No, but rather than admit that and cancel the mission the response is to imagine that risk can be driven down to negligible. And if that isn't possible, the standard is going to shift from "known but justifiable risk" to "we're doing the best we can / no expense has been spared".

Of course it doesn't make sense. But if they recognized that, they wouldn't have flown such missions in the first place.

joshuahedlund 1 day ago 2 replies      
This article answered for me one of those things I'd always wondered but never took time to figure out: why no one has been back to the moon even though our technology has advanced exponentially in the last 40 years. An irrational emphasis on risk makes perfect sense.

Still doesn't explain why no other country has done it, though. Well, except for the boring explanations about high costs and no immediate benefits besides bragging rights...

mlwarren 1 day ago 1 reply      
"We are going to have failures. There are going to be sacrifices made in the program; we've been lucky so far. If we die, we want people to accept it. We are in a risky business, and we hope that if anything happens to us it will not delay the program. The conquest of space is worth the risk of life." â€" Virgil 'Gus' Grissom.

It seems like most of the Mercury/Gemini/Apollo era astronauts felt like their lives came second to mission success. I'm sure there are plenty of astronauts that feel the same way today.

With a pool of astronauts willing to take reasonable risks to advance space exploration, it's the NASA management that has been responsible for disallowing the more dangerous missions. On the one hand that's tragic, but on the other it makes sense from a PR perspective. With each spaceflight tragedy there has been a backlash from taxpayers and Congress. Politicians will use spaceflight accidents to push agendas that cut funding, etc.

NASA has to walk a fine line between keeping the program safe enough to maintain funding and adventurous enough to make gains in space exploration. I think in early NASA it was easier to justify the human cost of accidents because of Cold War pressure, but now there is a harder time with this justification and thus the huge emphasis on safety.

wiredfool 1 day ago 2 replies      
When discussing the 2 rovers with a 90% success rate, the author comes to the conclusion:
<blockquote>The right answer is to go for two rovers, because if you do it that way, you will have a 99 percent probability of succeeding with at least one of the vehicles</blockquote>

Which is not exactly right. It's correct if you're looking at random, uncorrelated factors. However, two rovers from the same program are not going to be uncorrelated. If one rover is hit by a software blunder, it's likely the other one will have the same problem. (e.g. using mks instead of english units in the flight computer, using a 16 bit counter that overflows to name two)

SudarshanP 1 day ago 0 replies      
What is the risk a mountaineer or fighter pilot or car racer facing? Should we ban these people from taking calculated risks? Are there some stats about how risky various adventure sports are compared to Space Exploration?

Another question is what is the worth of revisiting the moon to set up a hyper expensive tourist camp there? Should it not be NASA's job to focus on research that lays the groundwork for entrepreneurs like Elon Musk to expand human presence beyond Earth?

moe 1 day ago 0 replies      

  "It's a very sobering feeling to be up in space and
realize that one's safety factor was determined by the
lowest bidder on a government contract." --Alan Shepard

vannevar 1 day ago 1 reply      
The article is thought-provoking, but marred by an enormous and unsupported leap of logic at the outset:

Yet despite vastly superior technology and hundreds of billions of dollars in subsequent spending, the agency has been unable to send anyone else farther than low Earth orbit ever since.

Why? Because we insist that our astronauts be as safe as possible.

Safety concerns undoubtedly carry a cost at NASA, but they are hardly the central reason there have been no manned missions beyond Earth orbit. During Apollo, when presumably the agency wasn't so safety conscious, NASA's budget (adjusted for inflation) was twice what it is today, and as a percentage of the Federal budget it was over 5x today's level.

natep 1 day ago 2 replies      
As he barely acknowledges, the problem isn't necessarily that NASA is too risk-averse when it comes to human lives, it's society at large. After every failure, there is a massive outcry along the lines of "how much money did we give you again? And you still couldn't get it right?"

The argument that the money could be spent elsewhere has been around since the beginning of the space program, I think. Do the people making this argument know that NASA's current yearly budget is around 0.6% of the entire budget (and only ever as high as 4.41%[1])? So really, the question should be flipped around. Think of what we could accomplish if all the money spent inefficiently elsewhere were instead given to a space program (not necessarily NASA, because I won't deny it has its problems)

It also seems silly to me to use large-number probability analysis on what are usually one-time occurrences. If a $2 billion mission fails immediately after launch, and it could have been prevented by $0.5 billion in more testing, then spending the extra money does make sense, especially if the failure would also cause public outcry. And it would not mean that an identical mission would also have the same risk. If the failure was due to bad design or a systemic error in a part (the more likely scenarios than a random failure[2]), then that failure would also happen in the next mission.

So yes, I agree that NASA needs to have a focused goal and shorter timelines, but I think this article might have been better directed at the public, then scapegoating NASA administrators.

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

[2] Source: a talk by the founder of AeroAstro, sorry it's not online

lutorm 1 day ago 1 reply      
Interesting, but I thought it sort of built a straw-man argument in that the main premise, that all the delay on a Mars mission is just to lower risk to the astronauts, isn't really substantiated. The calculation that ends up showing that the cost of a Mars mission is a hugely inefficient way of reducing risk to human life assumes the entire cost is to lower human risk. So it's only an upper limit, and there is no way to judge whether it's a useful upper limit.

Besides, the fact that there is a difference between risk to human life and risk of mission success is only relevant if there is a significant probability of mission success. You can only play the game with multiple missions for redundancy if an individual mission has a probability of success reasonably close to 1, otherwise it doesn't buy you much.

Of course, this whole affair assumes that we actually have some hope of a priori estimating the risk of failure of complex systems. I doubt it's possible, and I think that's confirmed by the observed 2% shuttle failure rate compared to what the "acceptable risk" of the mission was supposed to be.

ap22213 1 day ago 1 reply      
If an astronaut dies during a mission, there's a lot more indirect cost incurred than just the astronaut's life. There are the endless investigations and media coverage and related activities that are hard to put a number on.

Simply put, government funded programs receive more scrutiny than commercial ventures. If a private inventor dies while experimenting with their own invention, there isn't the massive, longtime affecting fallout similar to a government disaster.

Now, sure, I am a proponent of space exploration and its advancement. But, having worked with the government in the past, I kind of understand why their risk management is so heavy handed. Few government leaders will take on that much risk themselves.

tedsuo 1 day ago 0 replies      
Total aside, bug this article caused me to gawk once again at the technical progress in the US during the mid-20th:

State of the Art, 1945: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:F8F_Bearcat_%28flying%29.j...

State of the Art, 1965: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Lockheed_SR-71_Blackbird.j...

State of the Art, 1971: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Apollo_CSM_lunar_orbit.jpg

After that, I think we hit a technological wall, you can almost see the asymptote after the mid 70's. Though I think Space X is poised to knock some things over again if they succeed in their "cheap but reliable" approach, which basically amounts to attacking the problem as if it were a commercial airline engine as opposed to a rocket engine, and subjecting it to those standards of rigor. But that's a different kind of progress.

More on topic, this article completely fails to support it's hyperbolic "costs thousands of lives" subtitle.

waffle_ss 1 day ago 0 replies      
I've also heard this argument used by libertarians such as Milton Friedman to denounce the FDA, saying that it has costed lives through being overly cautious by delaying the approval of life-saving drugs. The proposed alternative is to not have an FDA, but rather sue the drug companies directly in civil court if their drug ends up being harmful and they haven't performed adequate testing/trials.
emmelaich 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Oddly enough I think one of hackernews's heros (and mine) Richard Feynman is one of the causes (but not blame).
His appearance at and commentary of the Challenger disaster made people extremely allergic to risk. You can argue his message was taken to the extreme but perhaps his scientists attitude was not so attuned to the engineering mindset of compromise and risk assessment.
hartror 1 day ago 0 replies      
Starting with near zero space capability in 1961, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) put men on our companion world in eight years.

The whole premise of this article, that we can't send people beyond LEO any more because of risk aversion, is based on this line and it is wrong. There are several differences between today and the 1960s that make manned space flight less feasible. This can be summarised as political and manufacturing, with the former driving the latter.

Politically the world and the US are different places, the cold war is over so the need for grand gestures for moral building and propaganda has gone.

However the OP's line of near zero space capability is wrong, ICBMs were being designed and tested at a furious rate throughout the 1950s. This created a massive pool of people with first hand knowledge, and a massive manufacturing base from which to draw upon.

svmegatron 1 day ago 1 reply      
Lost me after defining the worth of an astronaut to be $50 million, and the value of scientific knowledge obtained from a longer-lived Hubble to be incalculable.

Even though I think the author makes a point worth considering, I found that a really sloppy justification.

joshuahedlund 1 day ago 2 replies      
the multi-decade preparatory exercise adopted as an alternative to real space exploration has already cost the lives of 14 astronauts, and will almost certainly cost more as it drags on...

Seriously? Does anyone have more information on this? I like Reason but sometimes they can be a little biased. If there's no missing context and we're literally killing astronauts in safety training then there is no excuse not to just get them in space already.

ctdonath 1 day ago 0 replies      
It's worth exactly what the guy is willing to risk to go out there.
pippy 1 day ago 0 replies      
Statistically, the Russian space program is safer than the American. They're not exactly famed for their health and safety, in a hilariously stereotypical tradition Russians piss on their rocket (it dates back to Yuri's flight) and until recently they carried shotguns to ward of bears after returning.

The problem is outlined in the article, but not expanded. Every year politicians change NASA's goals. If the project you're working on keeps changing spec it's going to expand the timeline. Didn't Bushes plan call for us to be on the moon by 2015?

Another problem is the way NASA makes their vehicles. Private companies make products with the goal of making a profit. NASA's goal is to get people into space. The space shuttle is an example of this failure: it was overpriced, so dangerous cutbacks were made which ruined two of the vehicles. In an ironic twist, the soviet Buran suffered from none of these issues.

shareme 1 day ago 0 replies      
Author premise only half right. The cost over-runs of the shuttle program were composed of two deep expensive factors.

Infinite human safety and the costs of having a horizontal system of sub contractors building the shuttle system instead of a vertical approach.

But, conversely while close to infinite safety costs can reach military objectives, for example using tracked-light heavy armor in places of urban combat(less civilian casualties thus locals want to work with our forces), the same cannot be made for civilian space agency in terms a full benefits.

uberalex 1 day ago 1 reply      
I like the article but I wonder a little about the figures. He seems to assume that the extra research measures push the likelihood of a successful mars mission from 90% to 95%.

I think this underestimates the complexity of the problem. Two thirds of automated mars missions have failed, with an especially dark period around the time of the 1980s, when we were to have sent out the first Astronauts.

I think that there is also an issue with the military/contest aspect. The moon mission had a cold war battle feeling which would be hard to ignite now -- deaths in space just seem tragic and expensive in a way that they did not before (his description of the finger paints being a good example). Would people have the stomach to spend billions to kill 5 people on their way to Mars? How many times before they lose interest?

dennisgorelik 1 day ago 0 replies      
That's a wise policy:

To avoid such deadly waste, the Department of Transportation has a policy of rejecting any proposed safety expenditure that costs more than $3 million per life saved.

lnanek 21 hours ago 0 replies      
They forgot to price in the cost of a politician's power into the life of an astronaut, which is worth everything the politician can put to bear to keep it...
ChrisArchitect 1 day ago 1 reply      
maybe in bad taste, but made me think of this 'art' http://www.astronautsuicides.com/
DMalloy 1 day ago 0 replies      
One cost-effective proposal for a mars mission that was actually discussed:


Btw, -many- people died during early space travel.

squarecat 1 day ago 0 replies      
hattrick 1 day ago 0 replies      
Epic fail. The author starts off with the moral premise that all lives are of equal monetary value. Moral laws != mathematical laws! We put #s on people all the time: net worth? Garbage in gives garbage out.
wbienek 1 day ago 2 replies      
Here is where you supposedly "smart" people are morons.

We didn't go to the moon in the first place.

They jumped the shark when they showed people on dune buggies on the moon.

They won't go back because when people see how hard it is to land and relaunch with human life in tow, the world will know we didn't go in the first place.

Nobody will be going to the moon until it doesn't matter that the world finds out we didn't go in the first place.

Ask yourself. What is easier: scamming a trusting, patriotic 60's public on TV or landing a human being on a foreign planet.., whats harder? Having people drive a dune buggie, then relaunching and landing safely back on earth or setting up a desert set piece to look like the moon. Or maybe a Hollywood studio to look like the moon. I've seen the video. It's a joke.

And you're shocked we never went back to the moon? Please! How gullible can you be?

Introducing the HUD. Say hello to the future of the menu markshuttleworth.com
356 points by Symmetry  5 days ago   198 comments top 76
jasonkester 4 days ago  replies      
Even casual users find typing faster than mousing.

Casual Linux users, perhaps? I can't imagine anybody who's ever watched a casual computer user use a computer saying anything like the above quote.

Most people have the mouse in their hand the entire time, and usually don't have their other hand anywhere near the keyboard. Typing involves not only clicking into a box and dropping the mouse, but actually leaning the entire body forward in order to reach the keyboard.

Even I, computer programmer by trade, spend the majority of my life in "first person shooter mode" rather than "typing mode" because most of a web dev's life is debugging things that happen in the browser (a mousish place), and pretty much anything you need to do along the code-analysis line can be done with a combination of pointing and left-handing.

If you make me drop my mouse every time I need to interact with an application on your OS, I don't think I'll use your OS.

daleharvey 4 days ago 3 replies      
Heh as with most announcments where ubuntu makes changes to the UI the tech community is pretty dismissive, I for one love the fact that canonical are pushing forward a linux desktop experience in a way nobobdy else is, I didnt like unity much, but I trust these guys to fix it.

I find well done command interfaces much better than traditional menus for quite a lot of reasons

* they scale better, 10 items is a similiar experience to 100

* they are more discoverable, just start typing a word and go through the list of match (where help can be included)

* they can show information, each command can have a descriptive sentence (and a link to help), icons in a menu sometimes get tiny alt text

* they can adapt to your behaviour, if I use firefox all the time, pressing f in alfred give me firefox

stevelosh 5 days ago 3 replies      
If you want something similar in OS X right now (though not with super-fuzzy matching like this seems to have) you can just use the search box in the help menu to search for menu items.

It looks like this, and you can press return to activate the item: http://i.imgur.com/uJPgD.png

I've mapped Ctrl+M to move me there instantly with Keymando:

    map "<Ctrl-m>" do

EDIT: Turns out there's already a shortcut for this: Ctrl-Shift-/. XCode overrides it though, so I'll be keeping my mapping.

EDIT 2: Ah, yeah, it's Cmd, not Ctrl. I still like my two-key version though.

nickolai 5 days ago 1 reply      
I may have missed it, but have they actuelly had real users(i.e. not ui designers) do some usability testing (i.e. actual real work) on this? Coming up with it an pushing it into a public release in 4 months looks risky to me. Given how frustrated some users were with Unity, I really hope they learned the lesson.

This as presented this has a very high risk of turning into a "guess what the designers were thinking" game. While very flattering to the designer, it is frustrating as hell to the user. Arguably the current interfaces offer pretty much the same issue : a "guess in which menu I put the option" game - however there is one crucial difference : we got used to the current one, and actually have a really good idea how the designers were thinking - and where they put that option.

EDIT : Right. I did miss that. Thanks.

andrewgodwin 5 days ago 2 replies      
My main concern with this is discoverability - menus are helpful in that they convey a very precise listing of the app's possible actions (when designed well), something that's hard to otherwise come by.

Blender is perhaps the extreme example of this - it has an incredible amount of features, so they can't be placed into menus, and you spend some time learning where (in the hundreds of panels) or which of the thousands of keyboard shortcuts to use.

That said, I find keyboard-driven user interfaces very powerful, so I'm curious to try this out. Fortunately, there's been a way to turn off Crazy Ubuntu Features in most releases if you know how, at least so far.

tomp 4 days ago 3 replies      
Oh my...

> will ultimately replace menus in Unity applications

Why? Obviously, HUD and menus have different functions, and different use. GUI menus might be more appropriate for GUI applications, since you have your hand on the mouse already and you don't need to move it to the keyboard to type the command.

> fuzzy matching, and it can learn what you usually do so it can prioritise the things you use often.

Every time that I saw something like this in any application/OS (Android is a prime example), it was such an epic fail that it is almost beyond words.

1) I usually learn faster than a computer, so the way I see it is not computer "learning", but computer arbitrarily "changing" its behaviour. So, instead of memorizing "to call Jack, I have to press J and Down and Down", I have to always pay attention when the interface changes...

2) If there are some actions that I do much more commonly, then give me a way to access these actions more directly (interface buttons, scripting, keyboard shortcuts). But, in any case, my shortcuts will be almost always better than "automatic" ones, and also, mine won't change.

Fuzzy matching can be good, but I've yet to see a good implementation, and it, above all, has to be consistent! Not as in Android, where matching is "fuzzy" for calling, but exact for SMS...

rcthompson 4 days ago 1 reply      
I think there's an interesting behind-the-scenes change that is being demonstrated here: the transition from "every app handles displaying its own menu" to "apps just export their menu structure over DBus, and another program handles displaying them" is what makes it even possible to add the HUD to all applications instead of just developing a single app that uses a HUD instead of menus and leaving the rest behind. Now that all the applications are exporting their menus over DBus, if you don't like Canonical's menu interface, you can write your own and it will work with all applications. That's pretty cool.

For instance, any one of the Quicksilver-alikes available for Linux could add a plugin that turns it into a frontend for all your application menus. The KDE Alt+F2 run dialog could do likewise. Hell, you could write a menu interface in Emacs Lisp if you really wanted to, and control all your applications from the Emacs minibuffer.

mbq 4 days ago 2 replies      
This is based on a stupid idea that keyboard shortcuts are fast only because they are done on a keyboard. But this is simply false -- they are fast because they are simple gestures I can train and perform without thinking about it. Same applies to mouse -- in a well designed GUI, one can easily train to select an option or go through a dialog box with a blink of an eye.

Now, typing anything is just a complex procedure involving quite a lot of attention; what's worse, it cannot be trained since this HUD's response for a certain input will be mostly unpredictable depending of the state of its fuzzy AI. Not to mention that it additionally makes one constantly waste time on reading HUD window to check what action it is planning to execute.

Finally, when drawing or using any heavy mouse-dependent application one usually can fire keyboard shortcuts with one hand while the second is constantly holding mouse -- typing requires two hands, so it makes one waste additional time to grab the mouse back and re-adjust hand.

davidw 5 days ago 6 replies      
I upgraded to Ubuntu 11.10 yesterday, and the experience sucked. It broke Firefox and Emacs, and it took me a lot of fiddling to get back to a desktop I can live with. Turns out, for instance, that you have to alt right click the bottom and top bars in Gnome classic, to modify them. Not exactly an easy thing to figure out if you've just been right clicking them for years.

Time for Ubuntu to stop dicking around with all the UI stuff and go back to making something that is solid. I really liked it when it first came out: it was a fairly dependable system that had regular updates, and was 'good enough' in the polish department. I could use it on desktops and servers alike and be pretty happy with it.

mrdingle 4 days ago 2 replies      
Man we really despise innovation attempts for some reason today on HN. Canonical is trying to push computing into the future and progress user interface by doing really hard stuff. They're sailing uncharted waters and giving us all a lot of good research, and all for free. This is honestly awesome. Not because it's going to be a UI revolution but because we get to see a well funded company, that cares about user rights, genuinely trying to innovate and make our lives better.

Plus the HUD sounds great. Anyone here use Quicksilver or mac spotlight or gnome do? I use them non stop, I can launch/search/command my computer using a simple interface without leaving my keyboard. Now I have this built into each application. And soon developers will start to build applications with this in mind and it'll get even slicker.

Theres no reason to poo on Canonical. They are trying super hard in the face of an ungrateful tech community. It's not about developing the system you personally would enjoy. It's about innovation and the future.

Think different mother fuckers.

joebadmo 4 days ago 0 replies      
I'm not sure I agree with this direction, as this system seems like it has a high cognitive load, that doesn't allow a lot of relegation to muscle memory (ie it seems like you have to keep the feedback loop between your keying and the options that appear open for the duration of the command-invocation), which is what I find attractive about keyboard interfaces in general. But I could be wrong. I'll have to try and see.

In any case, I'm glad that the direct-manipulation paradigm, which I find to be generally and intrinsically impoverished, isn't the only avenue UI innovation is going down.

I have other ideas about a keyboard-oriented interface in this essay: http://blog.byjoemoon.com/post/9325300749/a-different-kind-o...

Derbasti 4 days ago 1 reply      
Hmm, I did not like the idea initially, but then I started thinking of how Emacs and (more importantly) Sublime Text work ... I must say, this very system works amazingly well for Sublime Text, why am I presuming that it is an automatic failure for menu bars?

Actually, I think that menu bars in general are a horrible crutch for pretty much every task. There is a reason why Windows introduced the "Ribbon". The Ribbon is Microsoft's way to get rid of the menu bar. Maybe Ribbons are not perfect, but they definitely improved discoverability of content.

ido-mode in Emacs introduces fuzzy matching for file navigation and it is awesome. CMD-T is a similar mechanism in Textmate. Sublime Text is pretty much built on the concept of fuzzy matched palettes.

All these are programs I very much like. Maybe Ubuntu is actually on to something there.

ericb 5 days ago 1 reply      
Is there some way to browse this new type of menu? How do you shop for functions that you aren't aware of?
casca 5 days ago 0 replies      
It's Google vs Yahoo on the menubar! Currently we use the Yahoo method (hierarchical information based on someone else's curatorship), Mark is proposing the Google model (everything through a single search box).

Either one will not be as universally useful as combining them.

samstave 4 days ago 0 replies      
The only thing I dont like about this is that it appears that you have to type for everything you're looking for.

With the example shown in inkscape - this is good if you dont know where something is -- but anyone who is proficient with a graphic(s) program knows that the more you can do with a left hand keyboard shortcut and a button which reduces the number of times you take your hand off the mouse the better.

What I would far prefer is if the HUD would allow me to assign arbitrary keyboard shortcuts (contextually) in any program.

This way - when Inkscape is active, I can use whatever shortcut I want to assign to "glow" and then that same binding can be set to a different command in a different program, say, GIMP - and I configure it all in one location.

I dont want to type for everything I want to do...

amalcon 4 days ago 0 replies      
Does it bother anyone else that this is actually the opposite of an actual heads-up display? The whole point of a HUD is that the user is given information without going out of their way to get it. This gives you less passive information than a traditional menu does.

I like the idea in principle. I just don't like nondescriptive names.

tnajdek 4 days ago 1 reply      
Seems like there have been mostly negative comments here, admittedly I haven't used this yet but I think it's a great idea. Ultimately this is not supposed to replace key-bindings but rather allow me to quickly access features that I normally don't access without hunting for it in the toolbar menu. Sounds especially useful in applications where you heavily use keyboard (like text editors for example).

I believe/hope that experience will be similar to the 'command palette' of Sublime Text 2 where you can execute a feature that you don't use very often (e.g. convert to lower case <ctrl+shit+p> low<enter>) without hunting for it in the menu.

For me theory sounds good, I need to test it myself to decide whether I like it in practice or not.

fdb 4 days ago 0 replies      
IntelliJ IDEA has this feature for years now. (Command-Shift-A) It shows a list of all commands and you can fuzzy-find through them.

It is very useful and often faster than digging through the menus to find the right command. It also shows the shortcut for the command, which is useful for learning commands that you use often.

hemancuso 4 days ago 2 replies      
It sometimes feels that Linux developers haven't ever seen a non-Linux user interact with a computer before. This seems doubly true for the folk who do UI/UX.
Symmetry 5 days ago 0 replies      
Let it never be said that the people at Ubuntu are trapped by convention...
willidiots 4 days ago 0 replies      
What do I do when I forget the wording of a menu item? (or I guess a "HUD command")

Menus form a strong spatial association - I remember a lot of options by their placement, and only recall the exact wording when I see it. (Is it "re-open last tab", "reopen last tab", "re-open closed tab", or "reopen closed tab"?) Not saying that HUD is inherently bad because of this, but I'm curious how they deal with it? Am I missing something?

tree_of_item 4 days ago 4 replies      
overgard 4 days ago 2 replies      
Who is this for?

Is this actually solving a problem someone has stated they have?

This feels like an attempt at solving a problem that nobody has. In an effort to differentiate themselves, I think they've lost sight of what users actually want.

Here's what I want from ubuntu, as a (past) user: a solid distribution that gives me a reasonable default setup without a lot of fuss. I mean, I'm installing linux, you can probably already assume I sort of know what I'm doing. I want something that gets out of my way, not something constantly asking me to adapt and "rethink" how I go about using my computer. I know how to use my computer just fine, thank-you-very-much, leave me with my menus.

david_a_r_kemp 5 days ago 0 replies      
To this, this seems like a lot more unix-y way of doing things, and certain for someone like me who prefers to keep their hands on the keyboard, this is top-banana (yes, I know there's ctrl+alt+shift+X to doing something in one app or other, but remembering every combination in every application is a PITA).
If you've used Cloud9IDE's command line, I see this more like that -> you type git, and a popup shows you the completions for git.
There's a lot of haters, but I'm really keen on unity. It's like having gnome-do baked in. Sure, it's not quite polished, but at least it's trying different things than the identikit window managers out there.
agscala 5 days ago 0 replies      
One quote from the article which I found interesting: “it works so well that the rare occasions when it can't read my mind are annoying!”

I interpret that as, "While it's great being able to search for commands, it's an absolute pain in the ass to find the command if the search fails."

He mentions being able to look at the list of commands like a "table of contents" for an application, but I really don't see how that is possible considering what he has described.

All I know is that I'm going to be even more lost in GIMP with this update.

imurray 5 days ago 0 replies      
Ubuntu's current (11.10 oneiric) menu cleverness breaks things for me using a non-standard window manager. (The gnome-terminal menu appears even when set to hidden.) Solution: purge every package with appmenu in the name and reboot. I hope it remains as easy to opt out from the next batch of little-tested, slightly buggy innovations.
RobH 5 days ago 0 replies      
I quite like this it reminds me of Firefox Ubiquity project. Which should act as a warning to Ubuntu as that never gained any real traction beyond power-users.

The fact that Mark mentions that they one day wish to replace menus is odd. Menus work and are universally understood. This system could be great in a complimentary fashion, the blender example seems like a great use of the system.

I really hope that Ubuntu don't throw the baby out with the bath water in their attempt to innovate.

strictfp 4 days ago 0 replies      
This is awesome. The current system doesn't work so well since menu items don't fit well into separate categories. In fact, nothing does. One example is the quite arbitrary division into 'File, Edit, View etc'. A discussion I hear quite often between people sitting together in front of word is -'Try that menu. Oh, that one then? No? Let me have a look'.Another example is the windows control panel, who didn't switch to flat view straight away? And grouping on the start menu into categories of programs? Largely gone. Sorting your music collection on disk? Gone. Structuring your HD in general to avoid searching? Gone. Categorizing websites? Gone.

This is just the last relic. As it is right now I'd rather google how to do something in Word than look through the menu, so this solution _has_ to be better!

thesash 4 days ago 0 replies      
This is a beautiful and interesting concept, but isn't this really just a dressed up command line interface? This is a feature I would absolutely love to have, but I don't see it replacing the menu in the form demoed for the simple reason that this violates one of the core principles of user-centered design: visibility. If the user has no visual indication of what is possible within the system, how can we expect them to learn the interface?

One super simple example of this: http://cl.ly/082D441E2D0L1l3d3g2Y

Most readers of Hacker News are probably aware of the calculator feature in the Spotlight in Mac OSX, but if I had a dollar for every time I've blown someone's mind by showing it to them, I'd be counting money right now rather than writing this comment. The bottom line is, visibility is an extremely important design principle, because it informs the user what they can do within a system, so hiding possibilities is probably not a good idea.

For detailed reading on the principle of visibility, check out Donald Norman's Phenomenal The Design of Everyday Things, which I firmly believe should be required reading for anyone thinking about building anything: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0385267746/ref=as_li_ss_tl?... [yes, it is an affiliate link]

newhouseb 4 days ago 0 replies      
Putting the keyboard back into computing is a strange direction to move considering the wild success of tablets and smartphones (namely of the Apple variant) that drop the keyboard entirely in favor of better touch interaction. An ideal interface has a low barrier between what you want to achieve and the way you achieve it, using a keyboard requires that written language always be between the two.
DTE 4 days ago 0 replies      
3D modeling software such as Rhinoceros (http://www.rhino3d.com/) uses this model with great success and I'm sure there are others. The program has a GUI that is very modular and customizable but the command-line interface is the primary interface. It takes a short while to get used to but after you do it scales very well as your experience grows. I have thought for a while that Photoshop/Illustrator would do well with a CLI but this is a compelling case for a contextual but system-wide implementation of this concept. The closest we have is Quicksilver or Alfred and while they are indispensable, making this part of the OS would open up some interesting possibilities.
edanm 3 days ago 0 replies      
I once worked on a project with some friends that gave Windows this functionality. It basically scanned the menu of the current window, then gave a Launchy-like interface to choose any menu item. It worked pretty well, although some programs bypassed the Windows API so didn't work with our program.

We also gave it one other awesome ability, which I have yet to see in other such tools - a "search for window by name" feature. This searched your open windows in a Launchy-style interface, letting you switch to Chrome by doing "Ch<enter>" or to Visual Studio by doing "Vis<enter>". It also searched open tabs in all your browsers, letting you switch to gmail by typing "gm<enter>", etc.

The program was meant as a startup, way back many years ago when we didn't know any better :)

drats 4 days ago 0 replies      
After two iterations of this I can se it being pretty good for my parents as they will be able to say "bookmark" or "back" to the voice recognition in the browser and not have to worry about the UI much at all.
nkassis 4 days ago 1 reply      
Looks to me like we are going full circle back to the command line with this. I mean, what's the difference between this and a command line shell with fuzzy matching?

I like Ubuntu being experimental but right now I'm having pains with Unity on my setup (multiple monitors and apps that don't quite fit with the UI). I'm seriously considering moving to a different distro while they sort the details out .

yaix 4 days ago 0 replies      
That's another novel thing for Ubuntu, publishing a major change first in an LTS. Until now the philosophy was that an LTS was more stable, a non-LTS was more experimental. Sad that this policy was abandoned.

The "HUD" interface (silly name) looks like a good idea though, hope it is fast enough for netbooks and other small PCs. After using Unity for some time I abandoned it for XFCE because my netbook was just not fast enough.

bryanh 4 days ago 0 replies      
Strangely enough that core functionality (searching menu items) is kind of built into OSX. Along with ⌘-space for Spotlight, I use shift-⌘-? to search the menubar from keyboard. Its a great multi-tool as it hooks into the stuff you already know.
jamesgeck0 4 days ago 0 replies      
I'm pretty excited about how this could make voice recognition a first class citizen on the desktop.

The simple voice tool baked into Windows* is sorta usable, but changing contexts to find things in menus or click buttons is a huge pain. You're constantly reminded that the interface you're using was originally designed for a keyboard and mouse. This has the potential to eliminate a lot of the pain associated with that.

* I don't know if Dragon improves the context-shift situation significantly. The last time I tried it was several years ago.

jiggy2011 4 days ago 0 replies      
This doesn't seem like it would be very good for using with applications that you are familiar with. With context menus
you can remember the ALT + <key> combinations required to navigate to a feature quickly. With this you would have to type the name of the feature and then select it which might involve navigating a fair way down the list.

The only other option would be for all apps to assign keyboard shortcuts to everything

Also for applications that you are not familiar with you will have to guess what a particular feature is called and if it even exists in the first place. They would have to load all the apps up with synonyms and since Open Source developers can't agree on anything I'm not sure how many would even design their app around this.

Not to mention problems with users who have poor english or just poor spelling.

Having said all this, this feature is an excellent idea to supplement existing UI functionality. I've been integrating "feature search" type functions into some of my web apps for a while now and I'm surprised Apple and MS haven't done this more.

yason 4 days ago 0 replies      
I think it would be better to offer the whole menu bar as an expanded tree in a vertical strip rendered to an overlay on the whole screen.

This would help the user get an at-a-glance view of all the menus' contents, sectioned logically by each top-level menu entry. It would also reduce menu navigation to mere up/down (and pgup/pgdown), and allow for some sort of an instant search (start typing letters) would also work. It would even work for touchscreens because we've already observed that scrolling up and down is one of the best and natural UI concepts that you can do with a touchscreen.

DrCatbox 4 days ago 0 replies      
Another invention which will alienate even more casual users from GNU/Linux.

Users, even I as a progammer, do not like to have to re-learn and assimilate a new interface-model every few months or years. Ive learned a few times, why cant people stick to what is working already? The menu is super nice, the global menu, not so much but fine thats what some people nice. Now Ill explain to my girlfriend that there is the HUD menu? And after that youll invent something else something new, for what!? All that work and you just have a different kind of menu. Too bad, too bad.

Why not do some real user tests to find out where they are failing right now? Why users dont feel comfortable in Ubuntu? Yes, even those users, like me, and Ive used most distros for a decade. Its just something fishy about both Unity and Gnome2.

tsunamifury 4 days ago 0 replies      
This seems to illustrate how painfully how out of touch the linux community is. As all the other OSs head towards touch, Linux wants to become more keyboard oriented.
lucisferre 4 days ago 0 replies      
Absolutely love this. Really like the direction Unity is moving, was quite pleasantly surprised after using it recently to find all the hate I had read about was greatly overstated.
SpikeX 5 days ago 1 reply      
So basically... it's like the Windows 7 start menu search functionality, put into applications. It's not a terrible idea, but it should extend the current menu-based UI, not replace it.
Pound6F 4 days ago 0 replies      
This is a great idea and as they note its really beneficial to the power user, BUT I can't see it replacing traditional menus for novice users (and potentially some intermediate users).

For novice users, discoverabiliy is extremely important. For any application new users want to learn what it does, and they aren't going to read the manual. Traditional menus allow users to browse available actions without having to know what they want to do. They don't know what they don't know, and well designed menus/UIs allow them to learn the application really quickly.

I also wonder about the older generation and their ability to pick up on this. I would be very curious how well less technically skilled 40+-year-olds pick up on the keyboard-based navigation over the traditional mouse-based navigation/interaction.

54mf 5 days ago 0 replies      
Whenever I see anyone write, "say hello to the future of the ______", my immediate reaction is to assume the author is an idiot. The only person or company who has ever been able to say that with any authority is Apple, and that's only because they have a track record of consistently creating the future of ______ for decades.

Considering this HUD is basically "let's take Quicksilver and make it for menus", I think my immediate reaction was correct again. The idea isn't completely terrible, but it's not "the future" and it's riddled with problems. Hope you're the type who likes keeping cheat sheets around, because unless you know the exact name of every single command in your application, you're going to be in trouble.

"We'll resurrect the (boring) old ways of displaying the menu in 12.04..." This guy's hubris is astounding.

grannyg00se 4 days ago 0 replies      
This seems useful for exploring menu options when you don't know where things are, but not as useful for executing frequently used menu options. For exploring, it's great to be able to type "pref" and have all menu options for preferences show up. But if I know that the preferences I'm looking for are under Edit - Preferences, I'll just hit ALT-E, P and be done with it in less than a second.
sown 4 days ago 0 replies      
I'm leary. The reason we've used menus and windows for so long is because it just works. Improvements are always welcome but it's always going to be easier for me to say Alt-F, O.
tdoggette 5 days ago 1 reply      
The site isn't loading-- does anyone have a mirror?
wind_whisper 4 days ago 0 replies      
Another hyped super-feature which implementation quality likely will render it unusable. Dear Ubuntu developers! I respect you very much! Why aren't you respecting me? Why do you release seemingly untested stuff? Why your product is so unstable and buggy? Please stop making systems that hang when I lock my screen or fall apart when I switch to another window with Compiz enabled. I do not need your new fancy features. I need a system that just works. Thanks.

And the other take. Did you ever use mobile tablet device with multitouch? And after that are you really want to use that 70-ish WIMP interfaces? If you saw it one single time, when you manipulate your photos/videos "themselves", when you interact with your information and not with some buttons or menus or stuff like that, you'll never want to come back. Ones who demand full support for multitouch gestures across modern OS interfaces are not "future-oriented" people IMO. They are now-oriented. Next-generation interfaces are already here! They are the state-of-the-art for many users right today. And are you really want to impress us with tinkering around that 70s stuff? Than you guys stuck in 90s. Come on.

gooddelta 4 days ago 1 reply      
OS X has had this since Snow Leopard -- you can go to any application's help menu, and begin typing the name of a menu item, even if it's nested. Using the arrow keys, you can navigate down the list of results, and as you select each item, the menus expand to show you the location of the item with a large, blue arrow next to it. You can then either click the item next to said arrow, activating it -- or simply press enter.

Apple had this years ago; they just made a conscious decision to keep using menus.

tikhonj 4 days ago 0 replies      
This sounds like a good change.

Also, just skimming the article and looking at the pretty pictures, it seems similar to ido-mode for Emacs. Just with more eye-candy.

Since everybody I know loves ido-mode, I am fairly confident in this change.

alexchamberlain 5 days ago 0 replies      
I have yet to find anything I like about Unity. As many of the other commenters have said, was there any real user testing on PCs the users actually own?
pnathan 4 days ago 0 replies      
This is not a terrible idea.

It could be implemented awfully though.

sciurus 4 days ago 0 replies      
Developer Ted Gould's description of how search the menu works: http://gould.cx/ted/blog/Searching_menus
ekianjo 4 days ago 0 replies      
I fail to see how this will apply to tablets and mobile phones, where you want people to use their finger as a mouse and not as a keyboard to type. (since Canonical said they were moving towards tablets and phones in the near future, I expect they follow the same design guidelines, but I could be wrong...)
sp332 5 days ago 0 replies      
brudgers 4 days ago 1 reply      
I think it's great to see Ubuntu innovating.

However, I don't see search as the future of application interfaces.

I've been using autocomplete in Quickbooks long enough to know that typing "Next P" to execute <next page> rather than <next layer> is just going to suck.

Tichy 4 days ago 0 replies      
How do you discover and explore, though?
hotice 5 days ago 0 replies      
By the way, you can already test it in Ubuntu 12.04: http://www.webupd8.org/2012/01/hud-ubuntus-new-smart-menus-a...
Qz 4 days ago 0 replies      
This is basically Search for telling your computer what to do. People currently do this all day long at google.com.
firefoxman1 4 days ago 0 replies      
The only downside: you have to use Unity to get it :(
EvilLook 4 days ago 0 replies      
Hey Mark, how about you get the current user interface right and quell the anger of your users about Unity before you move your UI wankery forward?
abahgat 4 days ago 0 replies      
Sounds like a smart idea, to me. Since I started using Alfred on my Mac I'm able to control almost everything from the keyword and I'm faster at almost everything.

Being able to guess the user intentions from the context would be a great advantage, but the challenge would be balancing context-dependent commands from the most general ones, in my opinion.

ddemuth 4 days ago 0 replies      
Serious, you're going to try and get me to use an interface by using a website that has justified paragraph text that spans 70% of my 1920 x 1080 21" monitor?

Much like these comments on HN, it's hard to read long, wide paragraphs. It makes me question the usability of a HUD's interface

chetan51 4 days ago 0 replies      
It would be nice if the first option was always selected by default.
justnearme 4 days ago 1 reply      
What a horrible idea. What happened to thinking about international users, for whom typing is a hassle? Learn from Japan, where Yahoo is more preferable over Google because you can find what you want rather than type it out...
jebblue 4 days ago 0 replies      
I think someone at Canonical ate some old pizza or something. Taking us back to the keyboard .. the keyboard? For menus? Seriously? Wasn't Unity bad enough? Lenses? Really?
gte910h 4 days ago 0 replies      
Ubuntu integrated Launch/Alfred into it's apps...
YoukaiCountry 4 days ago 0 replies      
Have they come full circle and reinvented the command line interface?
codex 4 days ago 0 replies      
Only Linux could turn the GUI back into the command line.
naughtysriram 4 days ago 0 replies      
HUD -> "Horribile UI Design" I guess
HardSphere 4 days ago 1 reply      
So... the future of the menu is... Zork?
asdfpoiu 4 days ago 0 replies      
So far, a lot of Ubuntu-specific software has been very buggy and low quality for me (indicators, Unity). Why should this be any different?
mariuolo 4 days ago 0 replies      
Madness goes on.
ColdAsIce 4 days ago 0 replies      
Mark Shuttleworth, promoter of the worse UX changes for GNU/Linux since 1892!
tintin 4 days ago 0 replies      
Change the status of your chat client:

  Normal: klik on icon right top -> set status
HUD: drop your mouse/stylus -> type the HUD command -> type to change your status.

In the future you will be less productive but have the gloss.

Show HN: my database engine for GPU sourceforge.net
351 points by antonmks  3 days ago   60 comments top 15
breckinloggins 3 days ago 2 replies      
Excellent work! I have a very small (marketing-related) nitpick:

Would you consider hosting your project on github instead of SourceForge? I don't say this to be trendy, github just has a much more pleasing interface in my opinion. It's also faster, subjectively at least.

mrich 3 days ago 3 replies      
Congratulations, well done!

Our team has built an in-memory DB (hybrid, both column and row store available, also using advanced compression). We have investigated GPUs for scans, we found that while they can outperform CPUs, the bottleneck is the transfer of the data to the card. Since the card's memory is only in the GB's, and our databases are typically much larger this is kind of limiting, since you have to copy data back and forth.

Do you know what the maximum amount of GPU memory for a blade-like system currently is?

beagle3 3 days ago 2 replies      
Super cool, and thanks for sharing!

Are you familiar with APL/K/Q/J ? These implement column store databases which a programming language significantly more expressive and usable. K and J are also significantly faster than any other SQL database -- it would be interesting to compare K's ultra-optimized in-memory processing to the GPU -- I'm not at all sure GPU is going to win here in practice.

See https://github.com/kevinlawler/kona for an open source K implementation (the wiki has docs). Same language, newer version (with database integration) and english language instead of ascii chars is called Q see http://kx.com/q/d/ kdb1, q1 if you like longer, kdb, q if you like terser), and http://code.kx.com/wiki/Main_Page

joshu 3 days ago 1 reply      
now this is the kind of thing i come to HN for... but why oh why sourceforge?
corysama 3 days ago 1 reply      
Very, very cool. I'm always happy to see more ways to utilize the tremendous performance/price of GPUs.

So, what are the pros and cons of this approach? For a given hardware and energy budget, what kinds of task would be better suited to this kind of GPU implementation? Conversely, what kind of tasks would still be faster to run on a Core i7?

foobarbazetc 3 days ago 0 replies      
This is awesome. :)

Someone did something similar for PostgreSQL here:


chubs 3 days ago 1 reply      
That looks absolutely brilliant. So is the database all stored in the GPU memory? Or in main memory? Or does your engine handle storing to disk as well?

Pretty novel use of a GPU though, and if it's quick, it could be really useful.

pavelkaroukin 2 days ago 1 reply      
antonmks, did you consider using OpenCL instead? If yes - why CUDA outweighed it?
ericflo 3 days ago 0 replies      
Interesting. I wonder how a GPU could best be put to use in a database engine. Joins, I suppose? Would be cool to read more about this implementation, however the readme is a bit sparse.
grundprinzip 2 days ago 1 reply      
Looks like a very interesting approach to me given the recent developments.

Still I have a few questions regarding your numbers. Can you specify how much data you actually stream from disk? Because when doing some back of the envelope calculations (8 columns out of a 1.8B rows assuming 4b each) you would need to stream ~300MB/s from disk. Which seems very unlikely for your setup (except you have a super fast SATA drive, or SSD).

Now, with only 4GB RAM, your are constantly filling your RAM and transporting data to GPU. Plus you need to compress the data somewhere (on GPU?).

Do I understand the manual.txt correctly, that you can only achieve the performance when the data is written compressed to disk before? (While sorting it?)

I may be wrong, but the group by and join looked like versions requiring sorted data.

Can you please give a little more details on that?

alecco 2 days ago 0 replies      
Column store, compare it with MonetDB (open source) and similar. This design is suitable for read-mostly databases. It's a trade-off, faster reads and much better compression. But the price is writes usually become an order of magnitude slower. It isn't good for transactional work (OLTP).


Also the author talks (other comments) about transfer rate when the real issue with GPUS is latency. Most GPUs don't have decent RAM caches and it's very hard to cover the latency.

Also: http://reddit.com/r/programming/comments/oxq6a/a_database_en...

jrmg 3 days ago 1 reply      
I love this kind of novel thinking. I'd definitely like to read more detailed articles on how this works.
toblender 2 days ago 0 replies      
Very nice. I'm glad people are using their GPU's for something more productive than farming bitcoins.
2AM 3 days ago 0 replies      
nvidia gpus only, right? does it work with ati as well? CUDA is probably more advanced, so it's no surprise.
TobbenTM 3 days ago 3 replies      
What is the point of using "ĂĽ" instead of "a"?
UK network o2 send your number to every site you visit lew.io
358 points by wgx  4 days ago   174 comments top 65
JonnieCache 4 days ago 2 replies      
Here's a statement from the Information Commissioner's Office:

"When people visit a website via their mobile phone they would not expect their number to be made available to that website.
"We will now speak to O2 to remind them of their data breach notification obligations, and to better understand what has happened, before we decide how to proceed."


O2 are in trouble.

Torn 4 days ago 7 replies      
I'm filing a Data Protection complaint now. I'd encourage other UK HNers to do the same: http://www.ico.gov.uk/complaints/data_protection.aspx
urbanjunkie 4 days ago 1 reply      
O2 have responded


Selected highlights:

Q: How long has this been happening?

A: In between the 10th of January and 1400 Wednesday 25th of January, in addition to the usual trusted partners, there has been the potential for disclosure of customers' mobile phone numbers to further website owners.

Q: Has it been fixed?

A: Yes. It was fixed as of 1400 on Wednesday 25th January 2012.

[edited to add]

I find this a bit weaselly:

Q: Which websites do you normally share my mobile number with?

A: Only where absolutely required by trusted partners who work with us on age verification, premium content billing, such as for downloads, and O2's own services, have access to these mobile numbers.

kgutteridge 4 days ago 1 reply      
A lot of mobile network operators wash this information about or have it hashed into some other form (which means it can still be used as a unique identifier)

Some popular headers to check









jarofgreen 4 days ago 4 replies      
Confirmed on a Google Nexus.

In his webpage he also says "They downgrade all images and insert a javascript link into the HTML of each page."

The image downgrading has been know about for ages, the JS I have not heard about before. I have asked for more info on Twitter but will investigate myself if I can find time today.

dazbradbury 4 days ago 1 reply      
Glad this is being brought to attention finally (as it seems it's been discovered before), but this is just yet another case of a UK mobile operator losing my trust.

O2: Send number in plain-text to every website visited. [1]

Orange: Increase fixed contract price by RPI through use of dodgy contract clause. [2]

Three: Place a non-payment flag on my credit report for no apparent reason. When I realise years later, they remove it and don't even apologise.

I'm running out of operators which haven't negatively impacted me, and to be honest, I think some of the blame must land with OFCOM.

[1] - http://news.sky.com/home/technology/article/16156276

[2] - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orange_%28UK%29#Controversy

michaelfeathers 4 days ago 1 reply      
The link insertion reminds me of an ISP in another country that was rewriting HTML before sending it. If we want to get very technical, if this happened in the US, couldn't an ISP be dinged for creating a "derived work" of a copyrighted page without permission?
cornet 4 days ago 4 replies      
Firstly I don't work for O2 but I work in the mobile industry. O2 should only be passing your number to trusted sites (and to get on that list is pretty hard).

We have reported it to them via various internal contacts we have. Hopefully they will fix this soon!

JCB_K 4 days ago 2 replies      
I'm on Giffgaff, which is a daughter company of O2, same problem. Started a support thread on the website, let's see what they say.
wgx 4 days ago 1 reply      
Additional write-up on another site here: http://www.thinkbroadband.com/news/4990-o2-shares-your-mobil...
edandersen 4 days ago 3 replies      
You should be able to bypass the proxy that inserts the HTTP headers with the following APN on O2:

  apn: mobile.o2.co.uk
username: bypass
password: password

Worked in 2008 when I tried it (http://www.edandersen.com/2008/07/13/iphone-o2-fix-the-image...) as they used to screw with images on the App Store. I don't have access to O2 anymore, can someone try this and see if it still works?

Edit: It still includes your phone number, thanks msmithstubbs.

jgrahamc 4 days ago 1 reply      
It's not just O2 in the UK. This happens all over the place. See this talk done in 2010: http://mulliner.org/security/httpheaderprivacy.php

It mentions: Orange (UK), Rogers (Canada), H3G (Italy), Vodafone/BILDmobil (Germany), Pelephone (Israel), and on and on...

edlea 4 days ago 0 replies      
I've built a simple Twilio script that shows how easy it is to exploit this here: http://edlea.net/

Vistors on an O2 phone will receive an SMS on their first visit. An MD5 hash of their MSISDN is kept in memory to prevent multiple SMS being sent.

Leynos 4 days ago 2 replies      
Using Opera Mini seems to disable this "feature". Of course, doing so means all of my web traffic goes via Oslo. And of course, any apps using an http API are presumably affected too. I'm rather disappointed to hear about this.
urbanjunkie 4 days ago 0 replies      
Tested an iPhone 4S on Three (UK)'s mobile network - no phone number passed in the HTTP headers.
peterclary 4 days ago 1 reply      
If an image is loaded from a third-party site then presumably that request's header also includes the phone number. Can anyone confirm? That would mean that it's not just the website you're visiting that's getting your phone number, but advertisers too.

Here comes the SMS spam...

MrKurtHaeusler 4 days ago 2 replies      
Just tested on o2 Germany, and no such header was inserted. It would probably be illegal here anyway.
rix0r 4 days ago 0 replies      
I'm using Vodafone and I'm seeing an "X-VF-ACR" header in my headers that contains a very long base64-encoded string.

Anyone any idea what it is?

(Edit: Looks like a big bunch of binary)

jsvaughan 4 days ago 0 replies      
I'm on o2 business / htc desire / cyanogen and my phone number is in the header. wtf.
richardburton 4 days ago 3 replies      
As bad as this may seem, SMS spoofing is way, way worse.


Nothing has been done about it.

jiggy2011 4 days ago 2 replies      
Wow, just tried this and my number is right there in plain text within the HTTP header.

I would never have signed the contract if I was aware that this would be happening.

Does anybody know if this is a new development or been happening forever?

Hopefully they fix this pronto, if not I'm not quite sure what to do since I'm really not comfortable using the service if this is happening and it's something I'm already signed up to pay for monthly for the next year at least!

DrJokepu 4 days ago 1 reply      
Apart from the obvious data protection issues, perhaps an even more interesting and frightening aspect of the issue is that that phone number is probably there for a reason. It's entirely possible that some O2 or O2 partner sites use that header field to associate a visitor with an O2 customer.

It would be interesting to see if that could be abused somehow, e.g. fake a phone number header to see if it's possible to "prank your friends" who use O2 or do something ever more malicious. (I'm not advocating anything like that, it's illegal and immoral and bad, I'm just curious if that would really work.)

wgx 4 days ago 4 replies      
Tried it on my iPhone using o2's network and my number was indeed inserted into the headers.
mike-cardwell 4 days ago 1 reply      
Mobile networks seem to do all sorts of horrendous shit to peoples Internet connections. I found out this morning that T-Mobile UK's transparent web proxy breaks web sockets. They also break some websites by minifying javascript badly.

This is exactly why my phone has a VPN to my Linode server and routes out all Internet traffic over it. Mobile phone companies don't provide a clean Internet connection.

jarofgreen 4 days ago 0 replies      
Unrelated story from yesterday but slightly funny in it's timing:

"Head of PR for O2 Nicola Green has been promoted to director of comms and reputation for O2's parent company TelefĂłnica UK."

Wonder if this means they have no head of PR in place at the moment? Ouch.

jarofgreen 4 days ago 0 replies      
I just checked again and it's not there any more. Anyone else seen the same pattern of seeing it in the past but not now?
Hopefully that means fixes are being rolled out.
danbee 4 days ago 1 reply      
The header is no longer being inserted for me. I think O2 must have fixed the problem.
kgutteridge 3 days ago 0 replies      
If you have ever used any payforit service to pay for goods, the intermediary you went through will at the very least have your MSISDN hashed and most likely in the clear (depends on your mobile network operator)

List of the Payforit intermediaries

gpapilion 4 days ago 0 replies      
Sadly I can say this is true for at least two US carriers.

One had obfuscated the number by padding it in a unique identifier header, and the other would send it along in some cases (i can't remember if it was on a partner by partner basis).

Also, almost every HTTP request on a mobile phone still passes through a HTTP Proxy. Generally, so avoiding opera, won't do any good. That is what the APN does.

What typically will get you off the carriers proxies is to use wi-fi, despite what the author says. They tend to get out of the loop if you're using someone else's network.

mattyohe 4 days ago 1 reply      
Well, their twitter guy just woke up: https://twitter.com/#!/o2
1880 4 days ago 0 replies      
A similar thing happened in 2010 with Orange Spain: http://certificateerror.blogspot.com/2010/08/orange-spain-di...

It looks like it was fixed immediately.

VMG 4 days ago 0 replies      
slightly OT: there was a page that displays your full http request but I forgot the name. It was on the HN front page not too long ago. (I'm curious to see what my phone/provider sends
mseebach 4 days ago 2 replies      
This does not happen on giffgaff, a MVNO owned by and operating on O2s network.
bjnortier_hn 4 days ago 0 replies      
They have a twitter bot that responds to everyone who tweets about the issue - "we are investigating these reports and will provide more information as soon as we can.'

Their twitter account is a disaster zone:

ukgent2 4 days ago 0 replies      
UK South Iphone 4s Headers in plain sight

Called o2 support, stating I believe this is a breach of contract and wish to cancel my contract. The guy on the phone was not really sure how to handle this. Does anyone had any luck forcing o2 to cancel their contract based on this information? I kinda like Orange, no headers, and orange wednesdays

MattBearman 4 days ago 0 replies      
I got the header inserted on my iPhone 3Gs, not happy about this.
wr1472 4 days ago 1 reply      
My colleague just tried it with Tesco Mobile which runs on O2 on his Galaxy S2 and his number was in the header.
doismellburning 4 days ago 0 replies      
So apparently this has been going on for some time - see this paper from October 2010: http://www.mulliner.org/collin/academic/publications/mobile_...
ffffruit 4 days ago 0 replies      
T-Mobile UK, no phone number in HTTP headers.
dvd03 4 days ago 0 replies      
To stop your o2 iPhone exposing your number through http headers, go to Settings > General -> Network -> Cellular Data Network, and change both APN to mobile.o2.co.uk and username to o2web (leaving password as is).
ploureiro 4 days ago 1 reply      
I don't find my number. Galaxy Nexus with a contract on O2 (uk) using HDSPA connection. shows just "This is a personalization server index page created by Bytemobile" but the rest of the page is blank. Nothing to setup...

birger 4 days ago 4 replies      
Isn't this information used as an extra security layer when using your mobile phone for payments or bank transactions?
Here in The Netherlands when I want to use my mobile phone to log in to my bank account and do transactions, I first need to confirm my phone number and a special code. I can imagine that then they need the phone number in the header to verify it is my phone.

And how is this information different then an IP adress that they also have with each request?

rheeseyb 4 days ago 0 replies      
This doesn't appear to be happening with the Samsung Galaxy Nexus

*edit scratch that it is happening now. Both attempts were on 3G only. Seems it doesn't always happen.

shocks 4 days ago 0 replies      
Orange UK here - nothing in my headers. Clean as a whistle.
sambenson 4 days ago 0 replies      
Someone hit the damage control button @O2: https://twitter.com/#!/O2
jiggy2011 4 days ago 0 replies      
This seems to be fixed for me now, anybody else still getting issues?
atomicdog 4 days ago 0 replies      
My number didn't show up in the header but I think my data might be going through Blackberry, not o2.
yankcrime 4 days ago 0 replies      
O2 / iPhone here. My number doesn't appear in the HTTP headers sent.
alexchamberlain 4 days ago 0 replies      
Not inserted on Dell Streak.
mpunaskar 3 days ago 1 reply      
As per statement from O2 - They share data with their "trusted partners" for age verification purpose.

Does that mean they share my birth date with their "trusted" partners?

iamichi 4 days ago 0 replies      
I had the header at 9.30 this morning. I just refreshed the page and my number has gone, so either they've fixed it or I'm using a different proxy that doesn't have the issue.
webmonkeyuk 4 days ago 0 replies      
Tested using a HTC HD2 (Windoze Mobile) device in Opera and IE. No IP or location information sent in the headers.
J_Darnley 4 days ago 0 replies      
Now that is how a web page should look! It uses my preferred font at the preferred size and fills the entire width of the page with text. Congratulations!
neave 4 days ago 0 replies      
Here's a demo I made to better illustrate the issue: http://neave.com/temp/phone-headers/
Dexec 4 days ago 0 replies      
Just tested on o2 Ireland (iPhone 4S), no header inserted.
hm2k 4 days ago 0 replies      
It doesn't seem to send it if you're going over wifi.
alexchamberlain 4 days ago 0 replies      
I think we should write to the ICO about this.
bravolima 4 days ago 1 reply      
I'm not seeing the header - HTC Desire.
declan_traynor 4 days ago 0 replies      
Confirmed on iPhone. Have received generic O2 response after mentioning this thread on twitter...
c_mac 4 days ago 0 replies      
I must say I am encouraged to see that some media coverage and, what seems to be an influx of emails to 02 by worried customers has managed to prompt a response from the company. Sadly, the concerns of who these nameless "trusted partners" are will no doubt have some people concerned.
netmute 4 days ago 0 replies      
Just tested this on O2 Germany. They don't do it.
burnsie_la 4 days ago 0 replies      
Good to see the power of social networking used for good
mbrit 4 days ago 1 reply      
Here's a proof-of-concept to get the user's location too: http://mbrit.com/o2numberandlocation.aspx.

(Albeit they need to give permission to access the HTML5 location APIs.)

How Can A Free Conference Call Be Free? feefighters.com
334 points by startupstella  6 days ago   77 comments top 18
soult 5 days 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 5 days 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 6 days 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?
jballanc 5 days 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.

zr52002 5 days 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.

stanleydrew 5 days 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.
smoody 5 days ago 1 reply      
I once read that this is how MagicJack makes most of their money as well.
steveh73 5 days 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.
eli 6 days 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

srehnborg 6 days 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.


jakejake 5 days 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 5 days ago 0 replies      
8ig8 5 days 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.

MichaelApproved 5 days 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.

GigabyteCoin 5 days ago 0 replies      
So... AT&T is suing Google to force them to pay these antiquated fees as well?

Why wouldn't they use their combined legal power to abolish the fees together, instead of fighting each other?

Because sure, at some point, Google may easily be forced to pay them too.

hiroprot 5 days ago 2 replies      
So, given all this, why wouldn't AT&T offer a competing free conference service where they keep the termination fee?
timbre 5 days 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.
danielson 5 days ago 1 reply      
Related: Cameras May Open Up the Board Room to Hackers â€" NYTimes

< http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/23/technology/flaws-in-videoc... >

Scaling GitHub zachholman.com
336 points by pascal07  2 days ago   67 comments top 14
aiurtourist 2 days ago 1 reply      
Promoting these practices does little good for companies that aren't GitHub, and believing in them might be woefully idealistic.

Let's look at GitHub:

* Most of GitHub's 50 or so employees are engineers[1], not sales or marketing or product management or art directors or logistics or accounting.

* GitHub's primary product is github.com[2], a product which is primarily used by engineers.

* The company hasn't taken funding outside of friends & family[3].

* They claim to be "very profitable"[4].

* Their team is distributed[1], which can work well for engineers who enjoy time alone.

Compare this to my startup: Engineers are < 33% of the company, we're all in one location, we have a range of web and mobile products, and we've taken funding from VCs.

Our customers are normal humans, not engineers (no offense, I'm one too), and our products need to be sold and marketed so that people understand why they're good. We don't have the benefit of a customer base who intrinsically know why the product is great once they use it like engineers do. Our products want to make our customers come work for us.

We're all in one place because we need to collaborate with non-engineers to build our product. Good in-person relationships with the sales and marketing people lets us work together very well and is important for non-engineers, who especially can't use a DVCS to collaborate.

We iterate quickly, so systems like Campfire or wikis are useless. There's no point in writing documentation and employee on-boarding instructions if they're going to be out of date in two weeks or if it's easier to walk over to The Guy Who Knows That Stuff and ask. Yes, our bus factor is horribly low, but it's not worth documenting a system that will change wildly in two months.

We also have a board of directors who are demanding. We have monthly and quarterly goals we need to meet. We don't have time to work on cool things like bots and music players because we're busy experimenting and building products which we're still defining. Sure, we add a few easter eggs here and there, but I need to finish the damn CRM improvements, otherwise the sales team can't handle our customers in the way we want, the customers won't have the best experience, we won't hit our January numbers, and the board will be angry.

I love GitHub. It's one of the greatest things to happen to open source and software project collaboration. But whenever Zach Holman shows off a well-manicured presentation or blog post about how awesome GitHub's ideals and work environment are, I have to roll my eyes a little. His intentions are good and he's a swell writer and presenter, but I can't help but wonder what kind of magical, mystical fairyland he think's he in.

(No offense, Zach. I think you're great. Let's get a beer.)

  [1] https://github.com/humans.txt
[2] Probably. What else do they do?
[3] http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=1454597
[4] http://techcrunch.com/2010/07/24/github-one-million/

aiurtourist 2 days ago 4 replies      
I'm usually wary of Holman's presentations and writing. GitHub is such a unique, special place â€" an engineering company with a product engineers use and are devoted to.

This presentation is pretty good and has some good tenets. However, I have trouble believing that all of these ideals will work when you have a PM screaming at your engineers to finish the internal CRM system, or something else that engineers must work on but don't necessarily care about.

epenn 2 days ago 1 reply      
One thing the slides mention in passing that I cannot stress the usefulness of enough is an internal wiki. There are so many common tips, issues, ideas, etc. that can be more effectively communicated and expanded upon when they're in a centralized location for all to see. So many conversations of the form "I've never dealt with that, but I know $coworker ran into that once. Go ask him." can be reduced or eliminated if the ideas are already visibly detailed. In short, setting up an internal wiki helps improve/scale your team's productivity.
akg 2 days ago 1 reply      
I once worked at a "startup" that was the anti-culture. It hired a programmer after the current team had turned them down. That person was hired b/c she was a recommendation from of the VPs friends. At one point, we had more "Managers" in the company than people to manage...needless to say, no one got anything done.

I think most companies don't realize that businesses are always about people; they are composed of people, run by people, and sell their products/services to people. When it comes to the composition of a company, having camaraderie and talent goes hand in hand. The moment you hire someone who is average or doesn't fit, the entire work force degrades gradually.

Thomas C. Shelling developed a statistical model that actually describes this behavior and shows how a class of people clump together (http://www2.econ.iastate.edu/tesfatsi/demos/schelling/schell...). This is why talent attracts talent and mediocrity attracts mediocrity.

antirez 2 days ago 1 reply      
Github is a bit special but I guess this can work every time you have a few basic ingredients: a product that has final customers (no busines-to-business), and a company that is completely focused in developing this single product.

It is not very common but also not rare either for web startups to have this kind of setup, so I think this may work for many... of course a fundamental thing here is that they hire smart guys, you can do something like that only if every piece of the company is skilled and independently able to handle his own work.

SkyMarshal 1 day ago 0 replies      
>Every internal GitHub talk is automatically recorded, uploaded, and viewable to every future employee.
... on a Kinect-powered Arduino-based motion-detecting portable video recording platform.

Um, more please! Wtb a video of that in action or meetup presentation or something.

msumpter 2 days ago 0 replies      
I'd be interested to hear more about the Kinect/Arduino video recording platform. We are always looking at better ways of capturing and storing video archives for later use internally.
bengl3rt 2 days ago 3 replies      
This is of particular interest to me because I'll be starting my full-time job hunt early next year (or even earlier because I get neurotic about these things), and I really only want to work somewhere that understands the appeal/necessity of "work where you want/when you want/on what you want".

How do I filter potential job opportunities on that criteria without being rude to anyone? I don't want anyone to think I turned them down because I thought I was too good for them or something, but the reality is that in a world where workplaces like GH exist, there's no reason to work somewhere that doesn't "get it" yet (and maybe never will).

nodesocket 2 days ago 1 reply      
What graphing utility/service do you guys use at GitHub?
DanielRibeiro 2 days ago 0 replies      
Related presentation: Hacking Your Organization[1]

[1] http://www.infoq.com/presentations/Hacking-Your-Organization

ans 2 days ago 3 replies      
Totally devoid of information. I would be more interested in reading actual technical reports of higly scaled infrastructures. These flimsy half-truths gleaned from such scaling, I can do without.
victork2 2 days ago 1 reply      
Pretty nice, but the slides are only interesting from page 45 to 74 the rest is totally useless.

I must be allergic to PR aimed at hipsgrammer (hipster programmer)...

GMali 2 days ago 1 reply      
Can someone explain what exactly he meant by "throttling the google bot"?
neduma 2 days ago 0 replies      
Liked it and compare with 'Netflix Culture' too.
Show HN: I'm tired of corrupt US politicians, so I created this politicianmarket.com
330 points by pmarket  5 days ago   144 comments top 32
scott_s 5 days ago 1 reply      
I'm going to crib from my own post from two days ago:

Donations don't literally buy votes, but what they do literally buy is face time. That is, people in Congress will hold fundraisers, and lobbyists pay to attend those fundraisers. The understanding is that the lobbyists who attend those fundraisers will have time to talk to the politician about the issues their clients care about.

This episode of Planet Money clearly demonstrates this: http://www.npr.org/blogs/money/2011/11/01/141913370/the-tues...

Edit: I remove the SOPA specific stuff, and didn't realize that in doing so, I removed the punchline. The implication of the above is that politicians' agenda becomes set by those who have the money to pay lobbyists. When you spend a lot of time talking to a bunch of people with an agenda, you will start to think about that agenda a lot. It's a natural consequence of the circumstances and the incentives.

I've harped on this point several times in the last few days. My reason is simple: we must understand the real problem before we can fix it. And the real problem is not "Vote for x and I'll give you money." That is illegal. What I described above is legal, and while it is not illegal corruption, it is a corruption of how we want the system to work.

And I stole that last sentiment from Lawrence Lessig: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ik1AK56FtVc Someone else here linked to that a few days ago, and it's worth watching.

scottdw2 5 days ago  replies      
I don't think that public funding of elections or free advertising (see the bottom of the page) are the solutions to government corruption. That would just force bribers to be more covert. It's analogous to the fact that SOPA wouldn't stop piracy.

It seems to me that the real solution is to dramatically limit the size of government, so that there is nothing to be bought, rather then just changing the currency used to make the purchase.

bad_user 5 days ago 3 replies      
This is a parody, but something like this could work:

(1) show a list of bills that are passing Congress / the Senate

(2) for each proposal, show a list of politicians that supports or opposes it

(3) have a way for the user to flag politicians he wants to reward

(4) plus a way for the user to setup a recurring monthly donation, distributed towards the politicians he supports, with a note pointing to your online profile that exposes your interests

kitsune_ 5 days ago  replies      
I know this is a parody, but a model like this could actually work. A frightening thought.
jimmybot 5 days ago 1 reply      
Isn't this some kind of explicit, well-organized, distributed bribery? Legislation for dollars?

Not saying it doesn't happen anyways. But not sure how this helps.

Edit: Ha. Okay, completely missed the parody disclaimer.

vladd 5 days ago 0 replies      
At large scale, there's something even better than money: votes.

Make a website where I can express my point of view about some legislation (SOPA, PIPA, etc) and then, given a list of candidates for the elections in my district, show who should I vote for based on their voting history.

georgecmu 5 days ago 1 reply      
Excellent idea!

Consider adding a separate sign-on for politicians promising them a campaign funds dashboard, real-time tracking of most profitable causes, political profile tuner, etc

Limit sign-ons to .gov email addresses, restricting early stage use to elected officials and representatives only.

danso 4 days ago 0 replies      
Why not go the SUPERPAC route to make this viable?
ttt_ 5 days ago 0 replies      
I think that we should be trying to limit what incentives there are today for politicians to become corrupt. The biggest one IMO is the campaign as it exists today. They are long lasting and very expensive, hence a politician has no chance other than to find ways to fund their campaign.

The resulting factor is that this attracts the attention of parties that do have large sums of money and that comes with an implied exchange of favors.

An option would be for campaigning to be restricted to low cost media such as the internet and maybe government provided TV time.

Another alternative to be considered. Every cent spent on campaign should be divided equally between parties, where if you buy a 20 second ad on TV than that time will be equally divided between your campaign and all other oponents.

Ryan_Shmotkin 5 days ago 0 replies      
What we need is KickStarter for Bills !

Let the people fund the bills they want.

Its time to stop poor people having soo much say..

pdelgallego 5 days ago 0 replies      
Too late, Bloomberg government[1] its already doing it.

[1] http://about.bgov.com/

noonespecial 5 days ago 1 reply      
The people we really need to be able to get our bribes to are the un-elected, appointed positions like the "czar of this and that".

Feature request: Bribes to those in appointed positions for special favors. Thanks.

brador 5 days ago 0 replies      
Why not skip the middle and just field our own candidates?

Viral marketing > any other marketing known to man.

kermitthehermit 5 days ago 0 replies      
I don't normally wish people any kind of death other than a good natural one when they're extremely old, but I can certainly wish the corrupt politicians slow excruciatingly painful deaths.
joering2 5 days ago 0 replies      
I think wise politics is about wise decisions that are based on todays situation but reach out in the future. The worst case scenario are politicians who make up their mind today and change it 180deg later on. While some may say they may be uneducated, lack experience, etc, corruption is also a big deal.

what I would love to have is a website like politicopedia where i could see all politicians enlisted and each vote on each bill with date they voted and why they voted this way. this would be a great tool to run statistics down the line: see who voted right/wrong way on certain issues, etc.

molmalo 5 days ago 1 reply      



Over Quota

This application is temporarily over its serving quota. Please try again later.

funkdobiest 5 days ago 0 replies      
Isn't this essentially a PAC or Super PAC. Give money to a middle man, who then "gives" it to the politicians in exchange for a vote.
jrabone 5 days ago 1 reply      
Hate to be "that guy", but there's a typo: "Note: Your opinion is important for us to ignore. If you must recieve a reply, donate $500 and try again."
edandersen 5 days ago 1 reply      
Bootstrap Hint: Check out the bootstrap-scrollspy.js code to make the navigation at the top change when you scroll down to the matching anchor tag.
un1xl0ser 5 days ago 1 reply      
I was hoping for assassination politics, but this was amusing. Maybe I'm a bit thick, but this couldn't be legal, could it?
mrkmcknz 5 days ago 1 reply      
I think the US election system is fundamentally flawed.

Why wouldn't a UK like approach work of limiting campaign budgets?

Focus more on politics and not lobbying/fundraising.

epynonymous 5 days ago 1 reply      
what the world needs are more robin hoods. anonymous is a partial example of this, an elite group that fears no organization (big or small) and the means to exact change.

checked out the site, personally i think the money angle defeats the purpose of politics, politicians should be bred to enable positive changes in society based on their core beliefs and principles, dangling a carrot in front of them is not going to foster this behavior, imho.

a better idea would be some site that promotes discussion amongst the people for certain topics and would have some angle to bring politicians into those conversations. that would really help connect the two.

pmarket 5 days ago 0 replies      
Jesus! I'm using JotForms for the email signup and the traffic just took them down.
aleksandrm 4 days ago 0 replies      
Isn't this what http://www.wethelobby.com/ is trying to do?
mw63214 5 days ago 0 replies      
what about a political triple bottom line? Cost, Constitutionality, Efficiency.
jebblue 4 days ago 0 replies      
Is the site serious? If it is then shouldn't it be reported for the conception of a political corruption scheme?
gcb 4 days ago 0 replies      
You can't say "give the money"

Say "attend his next fundraising"

pmarket 5 days ago 0 replies      
Edit: The main domain is back up.
daintynews 5 days ago 0 replies      
Wow. Bribery at its most sickening.
jcslzr 5 days ago 0 replies      
where are the social media buttons?
hobin 5 days ago 0 replies      
This is absolutely brilliant.
james-fend 5 days ago 0 replies      
Oh no.. Site's down!
Stallman: Facebook is Mass Surveillance rt.com
306 points by couchnaut  6 days ago   144 comments top 10
jiggy2011 6 days 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 6 days 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 6 days 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 5 days 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 6 days 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 â€" 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?

ppod 6 days ago 3 replies      
Is it true that sites with a facebook like button send the IP address of hits back to facebook?
lelele 5 days 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.

VMG 6 days ago 6 replies      
Except that it is completely voluntary.
dotemacs 6 days 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 6 days 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
Amazon studios amazon.com
306 points by garrydanger  6 days ago   85 comments top 17
FreakLegion 6 days 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 6 days 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 6 days 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 6 days ago 3 replies      
Crazy timing. Could be a first step towards the things mentioned in http://ycombinator.com/rfs9.html
trobertson 6 days 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 6 days 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 6 days ago 0 replies      
Creation (via this studios play) and distribution (via Prime) are making Amazon well positioned in the content wars.
paul9290 6 days 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 6 days 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 6 days ago 0 replies      
Amazon's product introductions are like a mixture of Apple's product videos and Sesame Street
geuis 6 days 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 6 days 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 6 days 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 6 days 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 6 days ago 0 replies      
Sounds like its designed to feed into the existing system
oron 6 days ago 1 reply      
Amazon has got it's fingers in so many pies ...
and they all taste so good,
colinm 6 days ago 0 replies      
Hmm, concentrate power into a single company? And you thought Holywood was bad?
Udacity and the future of online universities reuters.com
308 points by iamabhi9  6 days ago   69 comments top 15
ramanujan 6 days ago 6 replies      
Part of the backstory here is that ai-class.com is by Udacity (Sebastian Thrun), while ml-class.org and pgm-class.org are by Coursera (Andrew Ng and Daphne Koller). Formerly colleagues from the same department, now competitors with very similar education startups, all the way down to the naming conventions. Lot of fur flying about who copied who.

Coursera has been launching a ton of classes[1]. Probably Sebastian feels that to beat Andrew and Daphne, he has to go full time.

[1] http://www.cs101-class.org/hub.php

mtrn 6 days ago 2 replies      
Took the AI class and it was just amazing. I never had a professor more passionate (yet still rational :) about a subject.

Even though the course made the math and the background sound simple, it wasn't. There is a probably thin line between breaking-down things into a set of well-partitioned and easy to understand statements and oversimplifying really complex systems.

Also, the applications (edge detectors, robotic cars, particle filter based localizations, ...) kept me very motivated throughout the course.

johngalt 5 days ago 0 replies      
Prof. Thrun is an amazing teacher, but I think the 160,000 student sign-ups were due to the Stanford affiliation. Giving up that affiliation will cut enrollement sharply. Any likely business model will cause another sharp decline in enrollment. Thrun has all the right ideas, but on his own it will be tough to execute.

Education is ripe for disruption. Thrun+Ng+Norvig+Stanford as a cohesive team could have made a history altering change in education. It's unfortunate that they aren't a team.

silverlake 6 days ago 2 replies      
It looks like Khan Academy for college-level, semester long classes. He should target the University of Phoenix's crappy online program. Their parent company, the Apollo Group, has a market cap of $7B. Thrun could easily take a huge bite out of that.
sown 6 days ago 1 reply      
I think Stanford is more for keeping things closer to the status quo. Students in seats is how they make their money, after all. Not to say that they won't make courses online. I think they would be more than happy to charge $5,000 like they do through SCPD. However, if this develops the way I think it does, the economies of scale have to take over, right, especially after reading about Professor Norvig's discussion last month (http://remotelearningproject.com/interviews/peter-norvig/) about potential business models that try to keep it mostly free.

I'm very excited.

PS: I've noted that the PGM course website says it'll start in Feburary.

johnohara 5 days ago 0 replies      
It all comes down to certifying student proficiency (course credit).

Udacity and Coursera are not really competitors in the area of course content. They are competitors in the area of student certification. In the reputation behind the process. Meaning rigorous final exams, independently administered, suitable for inclusion on curricula vitae, etc.

By offering courses for free, Udacity and Coursera compete directly with Stanford. But Stanford can compete with them just as well, by allowing students to enroll in the free classes, mentoring them, and then offering their own certification exams -- for credit.

My guess is they won't do that. They'll just find someone else to teach the course. But I bet in the future they intend to keep a very close eye on the department.

ap22213 6 days ago 1 reply      
I hope this is just a first step toward big future ideas.

Many highly sought professors already have great brands, and I'm surprised that they are so highly underpaid for what they do. Many of them could be getting paid a lot more in scale. Further, they could also be providing value-add services to directly validate some of the best on-line students and grant certifications of expertise. Think of the mozilla badge model [1]. There are hundreds of ways to spin out revenue and scale that model.

[1] https://wiki.mozilla.org/Badges/About

andreyf 6 days ago 1 reply      
The actual website is here: http://www.udacity.com/

For those interested, looks like they're offering two classes (CS101: Building a Search Engine and CS373: Programming a Robotic Car) starting in February and hiring actively, as well (http://www.udacity.com/jobs).

dhawalhs 5 days ago 4 replies      
I have built something to keep track of all these courses http://www.class-central.com. Currently tracking just Coursera(Stanford's online learning initiative) courses, but would be adding UDACITY and MITx courses(when they are announced) soon.
lazerwalker 5 days ago 2 replies      
What I find problematic about all of these new online education startups (Udacity, Khan Academy, etc) is that they tackle the problem by simply providing online equivalents to traditional didactic learning methods like lectures and textbooks.

A professor standing in front of a group of students lecturing is definitely easy for the professor and cost-efficient to scale up to larger class sizes, but that's just not how a lot of students learn. I'd wager that most HNers learned programming through actually writing code, even those who learned CS through a formal program. In the humanities, I'd argue that the most effective way to learn is through small discussion groups, not a distinguished professor explaining literature or philosophical works to you. Just throwing that up on the internet is an easy way to expand your audience, but providing higher-quality educational materials doesn't do anything to improve the quality of how we educate.

The internet has a lot of potential to improve the quality of education, and there are tons of awesome startups working on it (companies like Codecademy and Coursekit come to mind), but I personally hope the future of online education doesn't look too much like Udacity.

ilamont 5 days ago 1 reply      
Relevant to this article is a blog post written by a Stanford Student taking the machine learning class:


HN discussion here:


waterlesscloud 6 days ago 1 reply      
I wonder if his departure has anything to do with the delay of the other courses? Maybe he took some students/staff/resources with him that were key to the infrastructure?
jasonMalcolmHz 5 days ago 0 replies      
Since doing the online AI course,
I have been hoping Thrun would teach Robotics.

I have signed up - woohoo.
It looks awesome - I am stoked - Sebastian Thrun is an amazing teacher, he really makes me think hard and gives me the scaffolding to investigate further on my own.

melling 6 days ago 1 reply      
What happens to the self-driving car? That was his life's dream.
Twitter's Bootstrap 2 ready for testing and feedback markdotto.com
302 points by iamhenry  4 days ago   84 comments top 22
tptacek 4 days ago  replies      
Have been using and loving Bootstrap for the past few weeks. Can't recommend it highly enough. I thought Themeforest templates were a great secret weapon, but the thoughtfulness that went into the actual markup in Bootstrap makes working with it fast and painless.

That said: no idea what's in Bootstrap 2. Someone got a concise summary?

esmevane 4 days ago 1 reply      
Fantastic, guys. Great job.

Question: I notice that the button styles are still static (as are a lot of the color styles). Are there any plans to implement project-wide color changing based on the primary color variable?

I ask because I've hacked this out manually in a project at my day job, and another in my own free time. [Edit]: + I'd be more than happy to contribute this.

(Probably should crosspost this to Github.)

sheraz 4 days ago 2 replies      
I've been using the new twitter bootstrap with backbonejs for some prototypes and have progressed much faster than I anticipated.

The learning curve on this one was not bad at all -- the examples are great!

chefsurfing 4 days ago 0 replies      
I've been using Twitter Bootstrap on a two projects for months. It has a huge upside, even for designers who write their own CSS. Version 2 seems to be filling in some gaps ( like responsive design and navigation lists/tabs ) and "filling out" with many nice-to-haves ( like progress bars ). I'm really looking forward to using version 2. Thank you Mark and Twitter team for the great work!
mrchess 4 days ago 2 replies      
Does anyone know why LESS was picked over SASS for Bootstrap?
tnorthcutt 4 days ago 0 replies      
When you find a bug or have feedback, open a new issue on GitHub. Tag it as 2.0-wip right away so we know to prioritize it.

It seems non-admins cannot tag/label an issue, FYI.

masonhensley 4 days ago 0 replies      
jeffclark 4 days ago 0 replies      
Awesome. Can't upvote this more.

Used Bootstrap while building my new (launched today!) project. It sped up overall development more than I could have imagined.

Really excited for the responsive upgrades.

neovive 4 days ago 1 reply      
Great job and many thanks for this excellent framework!

I've been waiting for this release for an upcoming project. I assume the use of HTML5 specific tags is optional. I noticed that the page used for the docs uses "<ul class="nav">" instead of "<nav>", but does utilize the "<footer>" tag. Is there a specific advantage to not using the "<nav> tag?

nsxwolf 4 days ago 2 replies      
I recently used Bootstrap to skin the initial version of my paste bin project, and it produced a very nice result with no effort, especially for someone who is not a front-end guy.


Looking forward to digging into Bootstrap 2.

gizzlon 4 days ago 1 reply      
Seems to be growing pretty fast: lib/ went from 76KB to 172KB ?

Seems like a very big increase.. Should we be worried?

(edit: Looks great though ;)

RexM 4 days ago 0 replies      
As a developer who just doesn't seem to "get" CSS, I love bootstrap. I can understand how it all works and it's so simple to use and quick to get things up and looking nice.

Thanks so much to the twitter team.

medius 4 days ago 0 replies      
Markup and CSS are the ones that generally slow me down the most. I really like where Bootstrap is going. It's a great boon for developers in my opinion, not to mention quick prototyping of designs for everyone.
mrgreenfur 4 days ago 0 replies      
Bootstrap is incredible. Incredible generosity! Thank you twitter!
joshmanders 4 days ago 0 replies      
I am really liking how this bootstrap is going. I may give it a try in a project or 2.
Dachande663 4 days ago 0 replies      
Does anyone know if there are more detailed upgrade docs available? The ones provided in the repo (http://markdotto.com/bs2/docs/upgrading.html) mainly cover features and I don't fancy finding all the various classes that have changed since 1.4.
cpolk 4 days ago 0 replies      
I'm really liking some of the new js additions and looking forward to trying it out.
ricksta 4 days ago 0 replies      
I used Bootstrap 2 for my weekend Hackathon project. The best feature I find is the media query. Also dividing the grid from 16 to 12 makes dividing the page up into 3 columns possible.
johnx123-up 4 days ago 1 reply      
Supply download link (nowhere it's linked)
JustinMowka 4 days ago 1 reply      
I have used Zorb's Foundation for all of my projects, just because of the responsive layout.

Should I bother "porting" them to Bootstrap or is there no real advantage?

I still am reluctant to move to Bootstrap, but due to its popularity I think it will get more updates and will attract more people willing to improve it ...

plf 4 days ago 0 replies      
Thank you!
overworkedasian 4 days ago 1 reply      
how i felt when i read that bootstrap2 is coming out very soon: http://i257.photobucket.com/albums/hh209/qxm_photos/Ghosts/r...
Applications open for Y Combinator's summer 2012 funding cycle ycombinator.com
302 points by pg  2 days ago   106 comments top 31
nicholasjbs 2 days ago 0 replies      
I've said this before, and so have many others, but it's worth repeating: Choosing to apply to YC was one of the best decisions of my life.

Some reasons I love YC:

- My cofounder and I were in the Summer 2010 batch. We've changed our idea, made mistakes, and failed repeatedly. Yet in all that time, pg and co have had and continue to have our backs 100%.

- One thing I've learned in life is that who you choose to surround yourself with matters immensely. Doing YC means surrounding yourself with great people.

- Every single YC partner is a genuinely lovely person. The other week we got a heartwarming and encouraging email from Kate, YC's architect.

- The YC network is unparalleled. In the past week, I've relied on it half a dozen times.

- I don't know how to put this, but YC has taste. Where others are political or indirect or care about appearances or do things without thinking about them, pg and co are the opposite: Direct, thoughtful, and good. YC is good in much the same ways pg's essays are good, if that makes any sense.

I cannot recommend YC highly enough.

(Sorry if that was too effusive.)

abstractbill 2 days ago 7 replies      
If you want a little honest feedback on your application before you submit it, feel free to contact me. I was the first engineering hire at justin.tv, I'm the cto of ZeroCater now, and I love talking about startup ideas.
michael_nielsen 2 days ago 2 replies      
Would YC ever fund a not-for-profit startup, as a form of philanthropy?

Part of the reason I ask is that for-profit and not-for-profit organizations have different kinds of leverage, and for some activities not-for-profits have big advantages. It's striking that some major success stories like Khan Academy and Wikipedia are not-for-profit.

I imagine that having a YC-like model applied to not-for-profits might produce some remarkable new startups, maybe even entirely new types of startup.

pclark 2 days ago 3 replies      
One of the things I have heard a lot of founders say when asked if they are considering doing YC is that they are already "down the road" with their company - as in, they have already launched, or have customers, or investor attention.

I know dozens of startups that went through YC at this stage, and they will all reiterate how beneficial YC was for them.

If you're running a startup I really cannot think of a singular reason as to why you wouldn't apply. (the biggest testament to this is probably the YC alumni doing YC again with their new company.)

richardburton 2 days ago 0 replies      
Just over a year ago I drove my friend, Josh Buckley, from LA to SF for his YC interview. Since then I have had the pleasure of watching how YC can help transform a number of things:

1.) His product, www.minomonsters.com, has evolved from a nearly-finished Facebook game into beautifully designed and highly engaging iPhone app.

2.) Josh is now an alien (with extraordinary ability) due to his O1 visa.

3.) He has grown the business from a one-man-band hiring freelancers into a proper company with an office and staff.

4.) His network has expanded exponentially.

5.) He has found a truly great cofounder who makes him raise his game.

6.) He has ridden the emotional roller-coaster of fund-raising on his own and that has transformed him into an even better businessman.

7.) The process has taught him the art of focussing on one huge, seemingly-insurmountable goal. He has sacrificed a lot but gained even more.

8.) Despite his incredible work-ethic and dedication to his startup, one thing hasn't changed. He is still a great friend and always makes time for those he cares about.

I met Josh about 4 years ago. He was on a mission. YC was a fantastic catalyst for that mission. He provided the spaceship, they have provided the rocket-fuel.

plusbryan 2 days ago 1 reply      
I'm happy to offer feedback on your application as well. I was in the YC summer 2006 batch, currently a cofounder of Sincerely. You can reach me at bryan-at-sincerely
Mc_Big_G 2 days ago 2 replies      
My potential co-founder is currently here (S.F.) on an H1B visa and it will be a year or two before he receives a green card. Does this rule him out as a co-founder? We've been investigating the options but so far a definitive answer has eluded us. I'm hoping someone here has dealt with this situation before and can enlighten us.
jasonshen 2 days ago 1 reply      
Going through YC was an incredible experience and even just going through the application process really forced our team to answer a lot of important questions for our business. If you want to do a startup and are in a position to give it your all - it could only help your chances of success to apply.
amirmc 2 days ago 2 replies      
"How do we choose who to fund? ... We look for brains, motivation, and a sense of design. ..."

I'm aware little things change each time this is posted but it's the first time I've seen design mentioned. Just curious, when was it added (or was it always there and I just missed it?).

alexhaefner 2 days ago 2 replies      
I'm curious to know the financial situations of those who apply to YC. You don't have to give specifics, but has anyone gone through YC with a lot of school debt? (>$20k, >$40k?) How did you manage this?

For those who haven't gone through YC but do have a lot of school debt or otherwise, how do you think you'll manage?

abbasmehdi 2 days ago 0 replies      
We're in the current cycle and I'm personally willing to help with applications, but only those who are hyper motivated and are willing to help themselves. Couldn't say enough good things about people behind YC. We feel lucky to be a part of such a wonderful community. Our startup is health focused and I feel that's the area I can help with the most.
kerryusry 2 days ago 3 replies      
There are lots of people with great ideas and products out there who are not able to just up and quit jobs and move somewhere for months on end. It would be nice to see an option for people like this. Not everyone is single college student, what about established tech professionals with houses and mortgages, or even a family.
ninthfrank07 2 days ago 1 reply      
I'm extremely interesting in applying for this summer. The only problem is that I'm still in Cegep (a two-year college for Quebec students before they go to university - I'm 17) and so if ever I get chosen, I still have one more year remaining to complete my program (International Baccalaureate in Pure & Applied Science).

I don't think I would drop it, because I ultimately intend to go in computer science at Stanford. Therefore, I would have to leave the Bay Area at the end of August in order to move back in Quebec and stay there during the year and come back in the summer when I'm finish my program.

I would still have time to work on my startup during the year, but at a much lower pace (2-3 hours each night and 8-12 hours on weekends). The other guy on my team (he's 17 too) is in a much less intensive program then me and he could continue working almost full-time on the startup.

But I'm the only one writing code. My co-founder (who's currently studying in Business Management) will be working on the marketing (posting on the blog, making videos showcasing the app, posters in schools and other places, talking with other companies so that they use our app, etc.) I also have a graphic designer that will not be directly involve in the startup but that will do my logo and help me design icons, textures, etc.

Without even knowing anything about my idea (I can tell you though that even if I'm the only technical founder, it's not an overwhelmingly complex app and I am confident that I could manage the coding alone. Our first goal is to get as much users as possible so I think it's appropriate that my co-founder will be more focusing on marketing the app), because really I don't want to be chosen for my idea but rather for my team (I've got this interesting idea that I want to work on, and I like it because I would actually use the app, and actually, I've got a bunch of startup ideas (I'm the kind of guy that always has tons of projects going on and new ideas in mind: I want to code apps, make movies and crazy edits, learn new monologues by heart, run marathons, travel around the world and learn new things!), but this particular one is not too complex to implement, yet if it turns out that I choose to do a completely different project, then so be it! Anyway, I don't think the idea I apply with matters that much (but it ought to be good obviously), because anybody could apply to YC with a similar idea and develop a similar app. But would they really be as much passionate as us about the app and as much caring about the users, would they achieve to convince companies of using it, would they convince people of using it? I know we would. My point is that I'm expecting to be chosen a lot more because of my team than because of my idea. (If you're interested to know what my app is though, email me (frabrunelle@gmail.com) or skype with me (francisbrunelle)). Yet why do I want do be chosen? I want to build useful products and it thrills me that with the internet millions of people could be using them! But what thrills me even more is that if ever I do YC, I would be hanging around with dozens of other developers that are in the same situation as me. I want to discuss and debate about ideas with those developer. It would be an insanely great and enjoyable experience. And that's exactly why I want to do YC: for the experience.), do you think I have any chance of getting selected? Or should I wait for next summer, when I will have finish my program? The thing though is that I will still continue to go to school (Stanford, MIT, McGill or somewhere), so again I will have the same problem as the one I have right now.

I truly enjoy school but the real reason I want to go in c.s. at Stanford is to meet other c.s. students and start a startup with them. I'm also interested in studying in theatre, so I'm really not dropping school soon. But I don't want to wait after university to finally apply for YC, I feel ready now. The reason I want to go through YC is to meet interesting people, discuss ideas and because I'm sure it would be a tremendous experience. If I don't get chosen, I will still develop my app over the summer, but I just think YC is an outstanding opportunity and that I ought to at least submit an application. I will continue submitting applications every summer until I'm chosen.

P.S. As a developer, I'm not that skilled, but I always manage to figure things out by myself and find a way to do what I want. If I'm stuck, I don't easily give up. Nevertheless, I'm more of an idea guy. I'm currently following tutorials from http://www.raywenderlich.com/store since December in order to get more familiar with the iOS 5 SDK. When I'll finish them, I'll look at the Parse SDK (http://parse.com) and then at the Facebook iOS SDK (https://developers.facebook.com/). I will then code an app similar to FML but it will be called "You know you're in IB when...", IB being the program I'm currently in. I will integrate the Parse SDK and the Facebook iOS SDK in this app. It's a simple app that I want to do for testing purposes and also because I know that my other classmates would actually use it and that motivates me a lot. I will then start working on the real app that I want to do for my startup. My goal is to have a working app with bare minimum features for the end of May so that I have something to show if ever I move to the Bay Area. I'm working toward this goal 2-3 hours everyday and 8-12 hours on weekends.

Alex3917 2 days ago 1 reply      
The timeout on the application is now exceptionally fast. I can go maybe three or four minutes at most before it doesn't let me save anymore.
plasma 2 days ago 0 replies      
Can someone elaborate on the idea changing after being accepted?

Do you go a month of working on your idea, only to realise you're at a dead end - and be asked to think of something else?

Do you fall back to one of your second ideas?

Do mentors suggest working on something else?

I'm curious - cheers.

benrpeters 2 days ago 2 replies      
I'm curious why YC likes 2-3 founders over 4-5. Do more people = more potential for internal drama? Or are larger groups more resistant to changing on the fly? I would think that 4-5 talented go-getters would be better than 2-3.
jaysonelliot 2 days ago 0 replies      
Does it matter how early you apply? We'd like to have a working product to show before applying, and could have it before the deadlineâ€"but might it be better to apply earlier while we're still in the concept & design stage?
itmag 2 days ago 0 replies      
I would like to apply but I feel stumped. I have a bunch of ideas and I'm a very resourceful and personally developed person (heh) with a big network of useful contacts / potential cofounders, but I don't know how to translate that into a compelling pitch.

Someone should start a business that writes these applications for you. :p

RockyMcNuts 2 days ago 0 replies      
If anyone's in NY and wants to work on social news aggregation with a view toward applying for summer, check out my profile and drop a line.

(possibly quickly before this desperate plea for cofounders gets rightfully buried or I delete it out of sheer embarrassment LOL)

vyrotek 2 days ago 1 reply      
How does YCombinator feel about startups which have gone through a local incubator and raised a seed round?
throwaway1979 2 days ago 3 replies      
Now that YC has gotten bigger (=more competitive), does an application without a prototype still have a shot? I'm incredibly paranoid about getting exposed to IP-related problems (working for a large corp and not in California). I suspect a few other people are in the same situation.

The sad thing is that when I think about it, I wouldn't fund someone without a prototype (if the roles were reversed). It is only when you build something do you realize if the materialized idea has any wings. Quite the mess I'm in :(

dmragone 2 days ago 1 reply      
I'm curious about the RFS's: Is YC still looking for responses to all 9? Are there any in particular you feel have been met, and any that have disappointed in solutions?
Iroiso 2 days ago 0 replies      
We are an international team and we can't get a Visa interview before the 29th of June, will we be too late? How will this work?
callmeed 2 days ago 1 reply      
Exciting, can't wait to keep my rejection streak going :)
littlegiantcap 2 days ago 0 replies      
Just applied. We all happened to be working together when we saw pg's tweet about it being open for applications, which is why we were able to get it in so quickly. Good luck to everyone applying.
alpb 2 days ago 1 reply      
I have several questions. I'm co-founding a global social network startup and our team is of 4 Computer Science senior year students studying and living in Turkey.

Do the startups located outside the US and has no chance to relocate for 8 months can be elected in YC? Is there a chance out there for us do you think?

zupa 2 days ago 0 replies      
PG: do you feel you burned your hands with those kind of startups not transferred from RFS2008 to RFS2009?
( For others: http://ycombinator.com/ideas.html , http://ycombinator.com/rfs.html )

If I may go specific, does the idea of a web OS make you go "OMG, forget it"?

dpn 2 days ago 0 replies      
Hey YCombers.. regarding RFS #9 it explicitly mentions SOPA and related topics but only in the context of Hollywood and not music. Do you think a music play that that addresses copyright issues would be of any interest?

We're applying anyway so it doesn't matter, I'm just wondering if we can say we are responding to RFS #9 :)

rjurney 2 days ago 0 replies      
My team of 8 eminent scientists are going to caffeinate tomatoes. We calculate, that among the YC classes alone, there is a $1 million market for tomatoes and a $5 million market for caffeine. We're going to be crazy profitable.
sirwanqutbi 2 days ago 1 reply      
I wish I can make it !! But my product isn't finished yet! #cry
yurka 2 days ago 0 replies      
Has YC rejected applicants despite impressive early traction?
Why does that QR Code go to justinsomnia.org? justinsomnia.org
289 points by jacobr  1 day ago   65 comments top 15
gerggerg 23 hours ago 6 replies      
QR codes are a massive phishing scam waiting to happen. I'll just go cover up the one at my bank with a sticker of the same exact size that links to my own site that looks exactly like the bank's site. Or maybe I'll put one on the ATM and see how long I get traffic before someone takes it down.
mortenjorck 22 hours ago 0 replies      
When I worked in marketing communications, we had a policy that anything that could be mistaken as final, approved assets in a printed piece had to be covered with a big, diagonal, magenta "FPO" label (for position only). Whether it was an inaccurate placeholder image, or a justinsomnia QR code, it had to be obvious it was not the final art.
pak 20 hours ago 1 reply      
This only supports my long running contention that normal people (outside of Japan) do not understand QR codes, and wherever they are printed, you would be better off writing a short URL. They are 1) opaque, 2) ugly, 3) impossible to memorize, 4) confusing to non techies and 5) no faster than typing the URL for the majority of viewers.
muyuu 36 minutes ago 0 replies      
There is a Vietnamese restaurant here in London where waiters have QR-codes in the back of their tees. Just last week I was there and some older guy was following a cute tall and slim waitress around with his iphone, trying to scan it. Creepy as fuck, but I guess it was justified by the QR code placement.
sp332 1 day ago 1 reply      
Does anyone know of a FF plugin that will decode QR codes in images on a page, and maybe even turn them into live links? Here's one for Chrome: https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/bfdjglobiolninfgld...
dholowiski 23 hours ago 2 replies      
We use QR codes extensively where I work. We use them in print ads and on TV commercials and I have a re-occurring nightmare that we'll use the 'wrong' QR code somewhere disastrous... like printing a link to our competitors on 10,000 brochures or something like that.

I insist that I check all QR codes before they're sent out, and I scan them with 2-3 different QR scanning apps.

As another commentor mentioned, I often send our QR codes to a redirector URL - either a branded redirector service I built, or to a WordPress site with the redirection plugin, or even to it's very own domain name which is configured for forwarding.

eliaskg 1 day ago 2 replies      
I made the experience that it's never a good idea to point a QR code to a fixed domain. Always create a little redirect app where you can define later on what target the link should point on.

So for example point the link to http://mysite.com/qr

where you have a little redirection-php file that you can edit at all time.

nowarninglabel 13 hours ago 0 replies      
Side note, Justin's an awesome guy, he just did a short stint as a co-worker at Kiva for the last 4-5 months, but is now working on a startup. We had a great laugh around the office last month when he was still here.
GigabyteCoin 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Odd, I thought it would have created a larger ripple after reading. See here: http://www.alexa.com/siteinfo/http://justinsomnia.org
franze 18 hours ago 0 replies      
ohkhey, that explains, why http://miniqr.com/justinsomnia is one of the most visited pages on miniqr, the QR code was scanned via http://miniqr.com/reader.php more than a 100 times. (a nice gallery of people scanning the QR code visible if you visit the first URL)
mkramlich 20 hours ago 1 reply      
QR codes are the new XML. great technology that's perfect for a certain role but being used in far too many other roles whether it's a horrible fit. But it's another buzzword for a resume!
mnutt 1 day ago 3 replies      
Interesting story, though I don't understand what he says at the end about not being able to redirect the QR Code to another link because the QR Code is the link. Why not just send a 302 redirect?

He sounds like he wouldn't do it on principle, but I don't understand the technical reason why he couldn't.

kenrik 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Funny. I used his QR code to test my barcode scanner when I first got it working in my iPhone App.

+1 pageview.

habudibab 1 day ago 0 replies      
Would be great for viral marketing. As far as I know it is possible to forge codes that are valid but have an image embedded. A stickfigure giving another one oral pleasures for example. Place it in the streets and people who think of QR codes as random jumble will see it as a funny coincidence, take a picture for the funny pages and maybe decypher it and visit your erotic gadgets shop.
What I Learned From Opening a Bookstore salon.com
289 points by fogus  2 days ago   67 comments top 20
Jun8 2 days ago 3 replies      
This was a funny and somewhat insightful read; however, it misses some interesting points. Opening a bookshop (much better name than a bookstore, and if you think "what's the big deal about naming" you probably shouldn't even attempt to open one).

Allow me to offer my own list:

1. Opening a bookstore is very much like starting a startup in that a really high percentage of the attempts will fail. The big difference is that if you do succeed, you won't get rich.

2. If you think (1) is a sad consequence of today's soulless dominance of Amazon, people not reading, etc., then read Stuart Trent's The Seven Stairs where he chronicles his adventures in opening a bookshop in Chicago after WWII, where he details pretty much the same difficulties as today's bookshops face.

3. In order to succeed, you have to have a specialty, e.g. maps and map making, the classics, books on New York, etc. Stock a very good collection on the topic (or two) of your choosing and strive to be the best source of information and books in your state, than in the US for that topic.

4. Of course, in addition to (3) you have to have generalities, throw-away popular fiction, cookbooks, travel books, etc. But that it let dilute your niche.

5. Your store should have a unique atmosphere. Additional points if this correlates with your chosen topic niche.

6. Know and love your customers, even when they're weird (you'll encounter these much more frequently than would be expected from a normal distribution) and their flies are open. You have to earn their respect with your knowledge and collection. Again, refer to The Seven Stairs for a wonderful example of how this is done.

7. In case you skipped 1: remember that the wonderful Stuart Brent also failed (I had a chance to see his store on Michigan Ave in 1996, ran by his son, I believe; it was reduced to a standard B&N type of store and was closed in the late 90s).

8. Reread 6! If someone with a classical bent asks for historical fiction and you take them to the romance section they will never come back. If you don't have even a small collection of timeless classics, say Aurelius' Meditations, Khayyam's poetry, Ulysses (and, of course, Odysseus) yours is not a bookshop.

9. Learn how to use the Internet! Understand that probably a good percentage (if not the majority) of your sales will come through the Web, so have Web presence as good as your store. Put useful information on your web page.

10. Lastly, you just have to love books, this is no endeavour that a truly sane or financially dependent person should attempt. If reading Parnassus on Wheels doesn't truly move you (to tears), you are in the wrong business.

bootload 1 day ago 0 replies      
"... What I really would like to know is how book stores will look in 20 years? ..." @sunnysideup ~ http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=3518193

This is really the most insightful question here. What would a book store look like? I'll have a stab.

Eighteen years ago the Internet existed but the Web was just being born. I come from Melbourne. Melbourne really is a book city with bookshops catering for different interests. Those who liked comics, science fiction or books on artwork gravitated towards Minotaur in Swanston St, classics or first editions One Tree Hill on Collins, old books and out of print first editions a small shop at the top of Swanston St. The general public might go to a chain bookshop like "Collins" or "Angus or Robinsons". But if it was anything technical, you turned to McGills.

McGills was a second home to people needed fast access to very specific information. You would probably buy the source of the information if you needed it in a hurry or read it if out of interest. Remember the Web was in its infancy. To gain access to technical information to build things (software) there was no other choice. McGills was a hub for nerds. You'd find programmers, engineers and scientists who would pop in, look for a particular reference book at lunch time. As the afternoon wore on it would fill up with students too poor to buy monthly subscriptions to Wired, Game programmer or the latest Dr.Dobbs. The era at this time was disconnected but strangely connected.

Now we have seen what's happened in the last 20 years. The publishing industry is changing their distribution technology from print to electronic displays. The demise of the bookshop and books. Even so, the prices are similiar.

What might happen in the next 20?


    Everyone has a little Nancy Drew in them.  Stock 
up on the mysteries.

It is both true and sad that some people do in fact
buy books based on the color of the binding.

We used to go to book shops to find books but the next 20 years is going to get more frustrating when choosing. Twiddling your thumbs over the "next" button is the new walking down the isle looking for one particular book. You want the google equivalent of book finding. It might be by colour, author, a quote, a film reference, music or voice of a character that played it on the successor of Hollywood. Companies are still working on this hard problem. How to see the product readers want from millions of titles on one small device.


    If you open a store in a college town, and maybe even 
if you don't, you will find yourself as the main human
contact for some strange and very socially awkward men
who were science and math majors way back when. Be nice
and talk to them, and ignore that their fly is open.

Books have a social element. Instead of going to a bookshop you now go to your favourite cafe who have installed a new WIFI gadget. It's only found in particular cafe's catering for the intersection of coffee lovers and technical book readers. It has all the latest Open Source manuals, blog articles collected into books. We dropped the ePub or electronic reference to books years ago. This place is "hacker friendly" so you can chat to other hackers. Specialist WIFI gadgets are appearing all around the place in food outlets catering for particular audiences. The social aspect of books hasn't disappeared, just morphed.


    If you put free books outside, cookbooks will be gone 
in the first hour

Sharing is now a problem. There are free books and restricted books. If you can't afford a book you can book it at the library to download it. It ceremoniously burns on your machine when the time to hand it back has passed. Another person can now borrow a digital copy. The concept of digital ownership becomes a political one. Book owners don't take up the "Cloud" concept after the great cloud hack in 2028. Millions of books are electronically burnt on owners devices as rouge elements of "Anonymous" take their "Library of Alexandria" action too far. All in the name of freer access to live news feeds. We still hook up to bookshops; glorified websites with sparse text and images of book titles and a google like search engines with predictive analysis software. Sharing of books is difficult. The hardware detects who is using the book. Sharing is not impossible but difficult and risky. Hacks for reader devices are there, if you want to risk being detected and black banned from device sellers. There is always the black market. One of the unintended consequences in ownership restrictions, is if you move from one area to another your book becomes locked and you can't read it unless you pay a regional fee.


    No one buys  self help books in a store where there's 
a high likelihood of personal interaction when paying.

The price of certain types of "information of value" skyrockets. Value is dependent on information usage in the market. There are market indexes for everything. Even childrens books like Dr.Suess. Censorship is rife but regional. You can't access certain types of information in books in certain areas. Old printed books that contain this information go up in price if they can be found. Information is bought and sold on ones ability to locate valuable information in private libraries. Enterprising companies that use software to mine old or cheap information and repackaging it as specialist books thrive. Software companies specialising in producing software to extract the essence of book classics like Shakespeare and write alternative scripts for media-vision networks. There's the Chinese version of "Macbeth" portraying the past regime and a portrayal of the Steinbeck classic, "Grapes of Wrath". Recast to the present show the migration of Californians moving east to escape the water crisis bought on by severe temperatures and drought. New publishing empires are formed.


    You will have no trouble getting books, the problem is 
selling them.

There's also no need to perpetuate the myth by pricing
your signed Patricia Cornwell higher than the non-signed

The economics of book production change. The cost is now reflected in popularity, the sophistication of the language, translation, region and censorship restrictions. Books that have been simplified are now more expensive than complicated books. The cost of books fluctuates as the numbers of people who buy it increases or decreases. Books that are popular in certain areas of restricted information become expensive. Some people set up companies to monitor the costs and allow customers to purchase books at their lowest cost.


    People are getting rid of bookshelves.

The display is the new bookshelf. People spend lots of money to purchase the latest hardware. When at home, bookshelves are projected on the TV screen to show what you might want to read. The constraint of the reader is size. Large screens solve this problem scanning personal readers and the network feed then showing a physical representation of the book on the screen for users to see and pick.

Psychologists work out that humans are still optomised to scan for titles laid out in physical space. Humans can't interface directly with the reading devices yet. That invention happens 10 years in the future.

jdludlow 2 days ago 1 reply      
People are getting rid of bookshelves. Treat the money you budgeted for shelving as found money. Go to garage sales and cruise the curbs.

I found this amusing as the first bullet point, since it pretty much screams, "Don't open a bookstore."

bryanlarsen 2 days ago 2 replies      
When people make lists like that, they usually come up with an odd number, like 8, and then think "Hey, if I think of two more I can make a list of 10". That's one of many reasons why such lists usually aren't reading.

With this list, I get the impression that instead she crossed off a few less worthy items to get the round number because it's pretty hard to find any fluff.

mseebach 2 days ago 4 replies      
Turns out mild loathing towards users isn't unique to software.
jimminy 2 days ago 1 reply      
Having just come in to work at an independent bookstore, I find most of it accurate, particularly the part about checks. We have an abnormally high-quality customer in that regard.

The one gripe I have is the thought that when people ask for historical-fiction they want romance, that's hardly the case here. That probably comes with the fact we're primarily a niche store focused on the sale of West Virgina History, and related, and West Virginian Authors. We rarely carry supply of Best-Seller list titles, with the exception of children's titles, because Amazon has severely undercut that business. We handle special-orders in this case, which take on average about 4 days.

johnohara 2 days ago 2 replies      
8. If you put free books outside, someone will walk in every week and ask if they're really free, no matter how many signs you put out .

That's because the book has a physical existence. It's made of paper and ink, has a cover, etc. Adults understand it costs money to make such things, so it's better to put an inexpensive price on it, like $0.50, than to try to give it away.

It's odd that the opposite is true of e-books and e-media. The low cost of frictionless delivery gets confused with the true cost of production.

Kids will always go for free gum btw. That's in chapter 3 of the "being a kid" handbook.

newandimproved 1 day ago 0 replies      
Reading her list reminds me of when I worked in a record store back when I was a teenager.

One thing I quickly learned is when a grandma asked what album/artist do I recommend for her grandson, she wasn't asking for MY recommendation (i.e. Zodiak Mindwarp and the Love Machine or whatever the heck I was listening to).

The correct answer was almost always Rick Astley.

rnernento 2 days ago 0 replies      
Great morning read, I'll have to be more careful about my fly...
sunnysideup 2 days ago 2 replies      
This was much fun too read. What I really would like to know is how book stores will look in 20 years? It seems the author sees her store more as a hobby and is not really concerned about the future?
alanfalcon 1 day ago 0 replies      
I saw the Salon domain and made a point of grabbing a beverage before settling in and clicking the link, hoping to read an engaging, well written, lengthy article.

While I was initially disappointed to see that this wasn't at all what I was expecting, I was pleasantly surprised to find that the list was engaging and well written, even if it wasn't a lengthy magazine article.

This is a rare case where the HN headline would be better, to me, if the "25 Things" was left in the title, even if that is technically against the submission rules.

johnwatson11218 1 day ago 0 replies      
One thing I do is keep old books in the trunk of my car. Whatever a store won't buy I put back in my trunk. Every couple of weeks I add some newer books and try again. Sometimes books that were rejected the first time are bought later.
A few months ago I was on a short road trip and tried to sell
my stuff in another town. They bought everything I had, even some old pc games.
itmag 22 hours ago 0 replies      
I asked this on her blog:

As a programmer who's always looking for new projects, this made me curious.

What is a piece of software that would make your life as a used book store owner easier?

What is a piece of software that would help your customers?

Please give me some ideas if you have any :)

markwong 2 days ago 1 reply      
in my country, the biggest sections in bookstores are self-help and "how you get rich [really really fast]"
arjn 1 day ago 1 reply      
I wonder if these smaller, indie bookshops would benefit by being a bookshop+cafe . A place you could grab a coffee and snack while catching up on reading or news. There was this very nice place back where I went to grad school. Old used books, good coffee and snacks. I really miss having such a place where I live now.
habudibab 1 day ago 4 replies      
I'm suprised bookstores are still viable business. I can not come up with any real benefit of buying books in a store.

The only reason that comes to my mind is the joy of browsing, maybe buying something you've seen somewhere recommended before. Are impulse buyers a huge part of the market?

I've been to a local private bookstore twice and the only customers I've seen there are people who probably prefer face-to-face and resent the distant and modern way of buying things, where the only social interaction is saying hello to the mailman.

Could the bookstore provide me with anything amazon couldn't? Books that were unavailable to amazon were unavailable to them. Imports took even longer and due to not living in an english speaking country, 99% of the books on the shelves were translations which I don't want to read.
Which is even more of a problem in bookstore chains. We have one with four large floors and a cafĂŠ. How many shelves of Twilight in German the day on release? About 10. How many shelves constantly filled with english literature? 1. Out of a number that probably goes in the hundreds.

Tichy 1 day ago 0 replies      
"people do in fact buy books based on the color of the binding"

Come on, tell us which colors sell better than others?

dpapathanasiou 2 days ago 0 replies      
After trying to run an ebook marketplace, I can empathize with #14.
davidwparker 1 day ago 0 replies      
I thought this was great, and rather humorous. Funny thing is, unlike #1, I just bought a bookshelf less than two weeks ago.
quizotic 2 days ago 0 replies      
Apple Reports First Quarter Results: $13.06 Billion Net Profit apple.com
280 points by yoda_sl  4 days ago   261 comments top 29
Steko 4 days ago 2 replies      
If you're following the call (fantastic liveblog from Jacqui Cheng at Ars[1]) really great exchange when they try to shoehorn the mac-windows analogy into mobile OS's:

Tim: I wouldn't classify it like Mac and Windows at all. The Mac has outgrown the market for over 20 quarters in a row, but still has a single-digit percentage of the worldwide market

whereas iOS, if you look at phones and tablets and iPod touch, we've sold over 315 million iOS devices

If you look at the NPD data, it shows in the US, and this is just looking at October & November, so part of our launch in October and all of it in November, it shows iPhone at 43% and Android at 47%

the Nielsen data from a few days ago shows iPhone at 45% versus Android at 47%

Comscore data that came out on October/November shows iPhone at 42% and Android at 41%

it seems that all of the data from the US would seem it's a very close race for iPhone, and I think on the iPad side, I think all of us inherently believe the iPad is way ahead

there's really no comparable product to the iPod touch out there

I wouldn't say it's a two-horse race. There's a horse in Redmond that always suits up and always runs and will keep running

So what we focus on is innovating and making the world's best products. We'll just keep doing that and somewhat ignore how many horses there are.

[1] http://arstechnica.com/apple/news/2012/01/apple-q1fy2012-liv...

solutionyogi 4 days ago  replies      
This is mighty impressive. To put things in perspective:

Apple's profits ($13 billion) exceeded Google's entire revenue ($10.6 billion).

Source: https://twitter.com/#!/fmanjoo/status/161932440737296386 via gruber)

yequalsx 4 days ago  replies      
The truly astounding statistic to me is that Apple sold 26% more Macs than the same quarter a year ago. This while PC sales for other manufacturers declines or remained stagnant. We expect to see increases in the tablet and smartphone markets since those markets overall are increasing. But to increase 26% in a stagnant sector is remarkable.
ChuckMcM 4 days ago  replies      
'We are very happy to have generated over $17.5 billion in cash flow from operations during the December quarter,” said Peter Oppenheimer, Apple's CFO

Ok, I'm impressed. That is a literally almost 200 tons of cash when printed in 100 dollar bills [1]. I sure hope they go back to paying dividends.

[1] If you can believe this source ... http://answers.google.com/answers/threadview?id=441929

DavidChouinard 4 days ago 5 replies      
Also, Apple makes 409,000$ profit per employee. (last quarter)

From the ever useful Wolfram Alpha: http://www.wolframalpha.com/input/?i=apple+profit%2Femployee...

marcamillion 4 days ago 2 replies      
For those keeping tracking, that means their growth rates are absolutely mind-blowing.

Revenues, YoY, grew at about 75%.
Profits, YoY, grew at about 117%.

Keep in mind this is billions of dollars we are talking about. It's "relatively easy & common" for a "small" company to grow that fast on say revenues up to $400M or even $1B range. But on QUARTERLY numbers of $25B and still be growing that fast...that's...just...mind blowing.

To show how mind-blowing this is, let's do some speculation - what will those numbers look like for the next 4 years (assuming that growth rates remain constant):

Next Year (Y1) - Revenue = $81B, with Profits = $28.34 in Q1.

Year after (Y2) - Revenue = $141.75B, Profits = $61.49B in Q1.

Y3 - Revenue = $248B, Profits = $133B in Q1

Y4 - Revenue = $434B, Profits = $288B in Q1

Before you dismiss these numbers as fantastical, keep in mind a few things.

a) The tablet market is still nascent and is likely to continue exploding.

b) The smartphone market is nowhere near as big as the mobile market - even the mobile market still has room for growth.

c) We haven't even seen other products that will likely come out of the pipeline that could create new categories (iTV anyone?)

d) iCloud was just launched. It's like AWS - but for everybody. Give it some time, but I can guarantee you it will be a major, major source of revenue and profits for them (just like Amazon) in the next few years (more than likely towards the latter part of the next decade).

The truth is, seeing these numbers makes me very skeptical myself, but I would have never imagined that I would see a company as old as Apple, doing $26B in revenues per quarter and still growing at 75%/year.

bgentry 4 days ago 1 reply      
Gross margin for the quarter: 44.7%

Holy shit.

shingen 4 days ago 4 replies      
I wonder how long it's going to be until the monster in DC wants a bigger slice of Apple.

Big oil gets targeted constantly for windfall tax proposals. As Apple marches toward $50+ billion in profit, it seems impossible the government will just leave the world's richest and most powerful corporation alone.

timae 4 days ago 2 replies      
The $13.1B profit is the 4th best quarterly result in world history, the 2nd best in US history (Exxon Q308), and the best by far of any company outside of Oil & Gas. Not inflation adjusted of course.

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_largest_corporate_profi...

deyan 4 days ago 10 replies      
Quite impressive indeed. I was particularly interested in the insane iPad numbers, which surprised me.

I thought I would use this opportunity to ask the HN community: what do you think people use their iPads for? Honest question - I have had one for a long time now and barely use it as it sits in this awkward middle between a "full" PC and a smartphone. With so many millions of iPads sold and Tim Cook saying "There Will Come A Day When The Tablet Market Is Larger Than The PC Market” I am trying to form an informed opinion but just fail to see what the use case is for the iPad (perhaps reading a book? casual web browsing? netflix/youtube?).

So what do you think the future of tablets holds? Link to studies on the topic are much appreciated as well!

Steko 4 days ago 0 replies      
Here's the roundup of estimates, even the rosiest forecast is below the actual quarter:


Just revealed on the call: they sold 1.4 million Apple TVs this quarter (vs 2.8 million in the 4 previous quarters).

r00fus 4 days ago 0 replies      
After hours snapshot: AAPL is up 32 points (7.78%), at $453/share, now has more capitalization than XOM (ie, largest cap stock in the world).
mcdowall 4 days ago 0 replies      
In december I bought a Macbook Air, iPhone and passed down my iPad to my nephew. I don't begrudge any of their profit, well done to them I say.
mladenkovacevic 4 days ago 2 replies      
I wonder what's Apple's strategy when everybody who wants/needs an iPhone gets one (and I'm sure they have one in place). This is a very deep well right now and the record profits will likely continue to be posted for years to come, but the demand is bound to subside eventually right?

Once everybody has a decent iPhone/smartphone is there really a need for anyone to upgrade more often then let's say every 2-4 years?

Can Apple/Samsung sustain their growth when the only really new prospects are the next generation of teenagers entering the market?

shawnee_ 4 days ago 2 replies      
And this is a company allergic to paying dividends. If I were a shareholder, I would be asking some questions.
chj 4 days ago 1 reply      
The success of apple , in my opinion, is largely built on the work of app developers. Without the effort put into the software, they would not be able to have so much profits.

We, the developers, are in fact the cheap workers in the Apple Empire, not those factory workers from China. Funny thing is they even charge money from us.

blantonl 4 days ago 1 reply      
Congratulations to Apple on a blow out quarter. BUT, I've got to ask the hard question. What the hell is Apple planning to do with their $97.6 BILLION in cash?

Apple's recent acquisitions pale in comparison to other's in the tech space so this cash pile is even more acute.

erikpukinskis 4 days ago 0 replies      
It's worth noting that iOS is pretty conclusively outselling Android at this point. 60+ million devices in Q112 vs. at most 50 million Android devices. Android may be selling more phones, but at the operating system level, there's no contest.
mkr-hn 4 days ago 1 reply      
It's great that Apple is reviving a stagnant market, but this isn't going to last forever. It's an artifact of soaring market share and turning smartphones and tablets into more than an executive toy.

It could go on for a long time, but all it takes is someone figuring out how to compete, and that's going to become more likely as their profile grows. Apple has earned its wealth, but it's too easy for them to forget what made it possible and slide into mediocrity.

bjgraham 3 days ago 0 replies      
The $46.33 billion in revenue is insane. The Airspace broke it down in comparisonsâ€"over $5,000 per second! http://theairspace.net/events/apples-q1/
georgieporgie 4 days ago 1 reply      
If only they put their record-breaking profits into building factories and inspiring local workers, rather than relying on near-slave labor in a faraway land.
nicholasblack 4 days ago 0 replies      
tintin 4 days ago 0 replies      
Impressive but I can't help to think about the people who create all the Apple products.
thedangler 4 days ago 2 replies      
who is in charge of that bank account... I wonder do they get interest? :
greenpizza13 4 days ago 0 replies      
Iv 4 days ago 0 replies      
How I read it : Apple shows that their hardware is overpriced.
johngalt 4 days ago 1 reply      
Not a fan of apple products, but those are awesome results. Nice work apple.
olalonde 4 days ago 4 replies      
Any chance it might have something to do with Steve Job's death? Edit: Why is this being down voted? There are typically record sales following the death of cultural icons (Elvis Presley, Michael Jackson, John Lennon, etc.). Steve Jobs is arguably one of those icons.
Andrew_Quentin 4 days ago  replies      
Is it just me who is slightly uneasy at the idea that one company can generate billions in profit at the expense of millions of people who had to pay much more than the product was actually worth to produce. Is that a fair bargain, or is it exploitation of a monopoly of invention?
Let's make TCP faster googlecode.blogspot.com
282 points by flardinois  5 days ago   36 comments top 11
Karellen 5 days ago 2 replies      
Hmmmm....the article prelude, and points 1 and 3, and the rationale document linked for point 2, all seem to be about optimising TCP for HTTP/the Web.

The thing is, a heck of a lot more runs over the Internet/TCP than just HTTP/the web. Also, it can very well be argued that a lot of the "end-user" perceived problems they are trying to fix (e.g. HTTP total request-response round trip latency) are acutally problems with HTTP, rather than TCP - notably the fact that for "small" web requests all HTTP effectively does is re-implement a datagram protocol (albeit with larger packets than UDP) on top of TCP, with all the consequent overhead of setting up and tearing down a TCP connection.

It's an interesting set of fixes. But are they the right fixes, at the right level? Would moving to SPDY instead of HTTP fix the problems better, at a more appropriate level? With less chance of impacting all the other protocols that run (and are yet to run) over TCP?

ajross 5 days ago 1 reply      
OK, dumb question which I'm too lazy to look up for myself: what is TCP Fast Open, and how is it different from T/TCP? My vague memory is that the latter was dropped because allocating port numbers without requiring an explicit round trip simply could not be made robust vs. DDOS attacks. What tricks is TFO using that T/TCP didn't?

(edit: Not so lazy after all I guess. The draft RFC here: http://tools.ietf.org/html/draft-cheng-tcpm-fastopen-00 and after a very quick perusal I don't see an attempt to solve the DOS problem either. It seems like it just requires apps to handle the transactions really fast and then close the connection?)

tmcw 5 days ago 2 replies      
I hope that this really actually helps everyone. SPDY has been in Chrome & on Google Maps and such for a long time, but not elsewhere: it's disabled on Firefox, unavailable on Safari and the like. And it's not implemented elsewhere: node-spdy is getting awesome but has taken a while to get there. Working for a place that could really benefit from something like SPDY, it seemed a bummer that only a duo of competitors products would work with an open protocol, for lack of documentation, interest, or what-have-you.
giulivo 5 days ago 0 replies      
I found this part to be the real great news:

All our work on TCP is open-source and publicly available. We disseminate our innovations through the Linux kernel, IETF standards proposals, and research publications.

JoeAltmaier 5 days ago 1 reply      
Lots of things about TCP&Co are stale, and don't work well in a modern network. That paper covers connection establishment. Other issues include network address establishment, device discovery and LAN broadcast.

In my last job creating mobile wireless drivers, we had a problem with wireless roaming. TCP/DHCP are set up assuming IP address establishment is a very infrequent operation. Typically it could take several seconds, which is fine if it only happens at boot or when a human trips over a cable and plugs it back in.

But wireless devices 'plug back in' each time they roam to a new AP. In an industrial environment (warehouse, 60 APs installed over several acres, forklift driving 20MPH) you may need to roam every second or so.

Its time to examine every aspect of TCP for large (huge) installations, very frequent device discovery (power-save in handheld devices), rapidly changing network topologies and so on.

necro 5 days ago 1 reply      
2 years ago we were discussing a few of the direct advantages of this in a comment here http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=1143317 including tcp_slow_start_after_idle which also interacts with icwnd.

Also it's much easier as of late to get the benefit from a larger initial cwnd. Back then you needed to recompile the kernel with source tweaks, now you just use a backport or depending on your distro version you already have the benefit as kernel 2.6.39 has the change... http://kernelnewbies.org/Linux_2_6_39

wazoox 5 days ago 1 reply      
Of course I don't know much about this, but I find the first call to action a bit surprising:

1. Increase TCP initial congestion window to 10 (IW10).

It seems contradictory with the general concept that too much buffering harms latency and may actually be aggravating congestion:

newman314 5 days ago 1 reply      
I can't see to find kernel patches for #2 or #3. Anyone else have better luck?

Also, I would like to see more emphasis given to research on mobile networks, which is my area of interest. Perf for large stable networks is not the same for choppy 3G-ish mobile networks.

DrCatbox 5 days ago 1 reply      
Will this effect other uses of TCP than HTTP? Like IRC or SSH?
vy8vWJlco 5 days ago 1 reply      
TCP fast open (TFO) effectively fires data in the blind in the establishment phase and then handles the timeout gracefully. That sounds like vanilla UDP (or your favorite best-effort protocol) to me.
exor 5 days ago 0 replies      
Why do us small business owners care about optimizing TCP?

Why does Google? Because web search is behind billions of dollars of revenue. Micro-optimizations matter to them.

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