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1
Farewell Stack Exchange codinghorror.com
1204 points by dko  2 days ago   209 comments top 45
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sriramk 2 days ago 3 replies      
I feel like all of us owe a big thanks to Jeff. It's hard to imagine writing any code these days without Stackoverflow. It definitely made the web better for me, and I suspect, any other developer out there.
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martincmartin 2 days ago 2 replies      
One day when I worked at Rockstar Games I was walking through the lobby and bumped into the technical director's wife and kid. I said "hi," and the wife was very apologetic, explaining that she knew their daughter couldn't see her father for yet another night in a row, but just wanted to spend 15 minutes with him. I just remember walking away thinking "I'll never be that kind of father." I left a few months later.

Outside the games industry, though, the usual response when a company grows, and you can't give significant equity to new hires to justify crazy hours, is to change the company culture to have closer to 40 hours a week. Both ITA software (which PG mentioned in Great Hackers) and Endeca, two successful pre-liquidity-event companies when I joined, had normal working hours. Is that only true in Boston, or in SF too?

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staunch 2 days ago  replies      
> It's been almost exactly 4 years

Funny how often you read that in resignation posts. Four years is typically when one's shares become fully vested. At this point there's no way for him to make significantly more money from working at Stack Exchange.

It's perfectly logical to quit now, to either 1. Relax (maximizing family happiness) or 2. Start a new company (maximizing economic opportunity).

Considering how recently they pivoted into a VC-backed company it seems rather too soon for a co-founder to be jetting though. Wonder if Spolsky regrets backdating their vesting schedule (if that's what they did). Might be a bit of a cautionary tale for founders.

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jxcole 2 days ago  replies      
I deeply respect Jeff's decision to put his family first. I have a general question though. I am an ordinary programmer at an ordinary job working ordinary hours. From those of you who have started their own project full time, is it impossible to run a start up and work ordinary hours? Or is it really necessary to sacrifice all other aspects of your life to be successful?
5
MrFoof 2 days ago 2 replies      
Jeff's presence will be missed, but the man can't be faulted. His priority is his family, and he's sticking to his guns. Good for him -- seriously!

Honestly I had been on the fence about changing jobs until recently. I'm single and I realized that I haven't been on a date in a long time. Wolfram Alpha places it at about 3300 days (just over 9 years). I've made a good chunk of money, but all in all it's not worth the sacrifice of everything else I care about. I'd rather be at home trying to make video games and start dating again while I'm still (barely) in my 20s, so that's what I intend to do.

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bryanh 2 days ago 2 replies      
Very few things have changed the face of programming as much as Stack Overflow did. I'm not sure that the Exchanges foray into other subjects will yield as successful products, but one can dream.

For fun, I even did a quick look at my Chrome history for last month: only 2 days had my not visiting StackOverflow.com.

7
jroseattle 2 days ago 0 replies      
Good call, Jeff. From someone who made a similar decision not so long ago, you've made a very good decision.

As was explained to me with my own family: your job/company/career will never hug you back.

I used to approach my career with the standpoint of figuring out how to manage my time to wrap my family into the schedule. Now I do the opposite -- I figure out how to manage my time to put my career around my family.

Interesting thing I've found: I'm better now than I was before. Making a family investment decision, for me, has paid off in spades.

8
solutionyogi 2 days ago 1 reply      
Whenever I saw vBulletin used for programming questions (the most common option before SO), my heart ached. vBulletin may be good software for discussions, but it sucked as a programming Q&A site.

I always wondered why we, programmers, do not have an amazing software to ask questions about our craft? Jeff gave us the answer in Stack Overflow and it was everything I would have hoped for. And then some. I love the fact that Stack Overflow (and sister sites) attracted experts in their field and following their answers, I learned a lot.

Thank you Jeff and I wish you all the best for your next adventure. :)

9
ThomPete 2 days ago 2 replies      
There is much to be said about this. Personally the story is extra important as I am about to do probably the exact opposite.

I am 38, have a son at 2 and a girlfriend. Co-founded a company in 2005 here in copenhagen and grew it to 60 people in 2008 and now around 30.

March 1st I am out of there. I sold my shares in stable company and is going to New York and work with another company there.

I will leave my son and GF back in cph and hopefully convince them to move with me later on. Until then its going to be 3 weeks out of every month in NY.

It's not a rational choice it's certainly not a 100% a popular choice.

But my take on this is a little different than Jeffs and that is perhaps because I still feel I have something to prove :)

But I am thinking that even though I want to be around my son I also want to be more than a dad for my son. This I believe is going to be important especially when he grow older.

Perhaps if I did a huge exit I would think differently, perhaps I am being selfish.

But life is short and complicated and at least for now this seems to be the right thing to do all things taken into consideration.

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dazbradbury 2 days ago 0 replies      
I, and many others I'm sure, owe a huge thanks to Jeff. 99% of the time, searching an error message from a compiler/framework I'm less familiar with + "stackoverflow" yields a well written, well explained solution to the problem - this solves a huge problem with overcoming undocumented code, and corner cases.

Not only that, but StackOverflow is often the de-facto place for a response to a technical problem of any kind. Heck, some companies even use it as a method for responding to queries about their product - one example I noticed the other day: http://blog.appharbor.com/2012/02/02/announcing-pricing

This is a result of such a thriving community, which Jeff has made possible through StackOverflow. So I just want to say thank you, for advancing the pace of development on the web and beyond.

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spjwebster 2 days ago 0 replies      
As a relatively recent parent myself (with another on the way) I can definitely relate to wanting to put family first. It's terribly cliché, but little people really do grow up quickly, and it's all too easy to assure yourself that next year is the year you'll slow down.

Good luck Jeff, and thanks for heping to rescue us from experts exchange.

P.S. Am I the only one that found the accidental relevancy of the post footer amusing?

> [advertisement] What's your next career move? Stack Overflow Careers has the best job listings from great companies, whether you're looking for opportunities at a startup or Fortune 500. You can search our job listings or create a profile and let employers find you.

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epaga 2 days ago 1 reply      
"Success at the cost of my children is not success. It is failure."

I can already tell this post is an instant classic that I will return to many times in the coming years. I was left with almost exactly the same thoughts as he was after reading Jobs' biography - and kudos to him for following through.

Seeing Jobs' life being lived at the expense of a meaningful relationship with his kids (especially his daughters), for me personally it made his Stanford speech about "following your heart" being the most important thing ring hollow. What happens when your heart values your job more than your kids? Is that just bad luck for your kids?

Perhaps our own gut instinct is not the final authority we should follow. Maybe loving our kids is something that is more important than "succeeding" at our job, even during times in which we don't feel like it is.

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yalestar 2 days ago 0 replies      
I followed the entire genesis of StackOverflow pretty closely via Jeff & Joel's blog posts and the first go 'round of the StackOverflow podcast.

During that time, and to this day, I never ceased to be impressed by Jeff's committment to making the web a better place for programmers and the general public too. He never got mired in startup-speak; you never got the idea he was just in it to sell it, and even once they got some VC backing, you never got the idea he was planning to just sit back and collect the money. Just a no-BS guy in every regard.

It's obvious to me that when Jeff does something, he does the shit out of it, and I can't imagine that parenting will be any different. We could use more people like him in every part of life.

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elviejo 2 days ago 0 replies      
Why is Jeff retiring?
Couldn't he simply semi-retire?
work only 2 days a week and the rest of the time with his family?

I think he was exhausted...

maybe this books is worth a look:
The Big Enough Company: Creating a Business That Works for YOU
http://www.amazon.com/Big-Enough-Company-Creating-Business/d...

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cnunciato 2 days ago 0 replies      
The timing of these posts amazes me sometimes.

I just turned down an opportunity to join an early stage startup (would've been employee #4, engineer #2, leading a team) that was uncommonly well backed, led by a seasoned founder, and tasked to build some truly bad-ass technology. I've always been drawn to startups, and this was indeed a rare one, unique in my experience so far, and particularly well suited to my sensibilities and to the direction I'd been wanting to go in my career. Closest thing to a perfect opportunity yet, to be sure. But it required some travel (half-dozen or so trips a year overseas, week or so each, give or take, probably more), and would've surely required longer hours than I work now (generally 40, sometimes less). We have two young boys (ages 1 and 2 1/2) and a third due in August. My wife, ever my champion, did nothing but encourage me to take it.

But I couldn't do it. My dad traveled constantly while my sisters and I were growing up (still does, actually -- very successful, but physically and often mentally absent), and I've always promised myself I'd never make that mistake. It was by far the toughest professional decision I've ever had to make, was emotionally and physically draining (I lost much sleep over it, spanning several days), but ultimately right -- for me, anyway. Much as it might restrict me career-wise, I work to live, don't live to work, and I'm not willing to risk regretting lost time with my boys because of work I chose for myself over them. I can't imagine a future in which any of us would look back and say that was worth it.

Many thanks indeed to you, Jeff -- you all did build something awesome. As my dad would say, Now go have fun.

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jiggy2011 1 day ago 0 replies      
I'm a little surprised by this.
I can understand Jeff wanting to "slow down" a bit and spend more time with his family etc but unless he has enough money to basically retire I can't see how his workload will reduce from not working on stack exchange.

Stack exchange I believe is developed mostly by programmers working from home and there are enough of them and SE is well developed enough that I doubt it requires Jeff to be glued to his keyboard at all times so it would seem simple to reduce his hours at his current job. In many ways it is the ideal job for somebody with a family since he's working at home and he's already done the hard part. I imagine it's now more a process of making gradual improvements as the money comes in.

I wonder what is next for Jeff, I can't see him taking a cubicle 9-5 with BigEnterpriseSoftwareCo and if he joins/starts another startup type business he's back to square 1 in terms of workload.

Perhaps he will focus on his blog/writing more now?
He doesn't seem to worried about the prospect of being unemployed with a growing family so he must have stockpiled a fair amount of cash.

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droz 2 days ago 0 replies      
I think this is the right move for Jeff. It's good to see someone with such a high profile, putting family (and life in general) over working.
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finnw 2 days ago 1 reply      
> Farewell Stack Exchange

When I first saw the title I thought "Oh no, why is Stack Exchange closing down?"

Maybe the title should be changed to the more accurate "Jeff Attwood quits Stack Exchange"

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scrame 2 days ago 0 replies      
Good Job, Jeff!

I routinely disagreed with your blog, and self-promotion -- but in the end -- you delivered a slick site and built a great community.

It doesn't matter that I didn't like your opinions, or thought that Joel's column became pointlessly self-promoting.

All those things thrive in the tech-blog-o-sphere, and there is no shortage of people with unpopular opinions, fanbases, or self-promoting start-ups.

Instead, you guys did all those things, _and_ delivered a kick-ass tech Q&A site on _windows_ with a team of, what 4 people in the initial development?

Anyway, congrats to a job well done!

Take some time off, you've earned it!

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ORioN63 2 days ago 0 replies      
I can't believe they have been here for just four years... I would take centuries to debug if it weren't for stack overflow...
I can only thank you for what you have done Jeff ;-).
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moconnor 2 days ago 0 replies      
Never, ever underestimate the ridiculous amount of time, energy and willpower you invest to raise children. Just because billions of other people do it doesn't mean it isn't the single most demsnding, time-consuming thing that will ever be asked of you.

Perhaps you plan to outsource to a very understanding wife / girlfriend / grandparents, but if you want to do it yourself then bear this in mind: Jeff's was the only option on the table.

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jc123 2 days ago 0 replies      
Stack Overflow and Stack Exchange have been wildly successful, but I finally realized that success at the cost of my children is not success. It is failure.

As others have said, thanks Jeff for all the lessons and time saved with Stack Overflow! Super happy for your success and hard to imagine how it could have worked better. Your twins are only months old, your son is less than 3, so your success affords you all the time with your family. Your success story is well balanced and positively enviable.

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tzury 2 days ago 0 replies      
Thanks is just a word, yet, all my apps, servers, desktops and smartphones, been well supported by stack exchange sites and community.

With StackExchange, getting the correct answer is one post away, and that is a revolution!

So I will use that word of "thanks" to express my gratefulness towards Jeff and Joel and all the community members(!), and want to wish Jeff the best of time with his kids.

Thank you StackExchange!

24
TomGullen 2 days ago 0 replies      
I basically learnt how to code c# through stack overflow. An amazing resource that has given me and so many other people so much. It really has impacted a lot of peoples lives. I admire Jeff for getting his priorities right as well.
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FuzzyDunlop 2 days ago 0 replies      
Stack Overflow has been brilliant not only for finding answers, but for encouraging people like me to contribute our own answers in return.

I'd say it made me a better programmer.

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lrobb 1 day ago 0 replies      
Why not make SE a family-friendly company instead of just leaving? I'm guessing at this stage he has already lost control and can't influence that decision?
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jayferd 2 days ago 0 replies      
I love the ad for Stack Overflow Carreers at the bottom.
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djtriptych 2 days ago 0 replies      
It's amazing how Steve Jobs affected this generation of technologists. I wish I could expand that sentiment beyond tweet-length without fear of starting a flame war, but I'll leave it there.
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varkker 2 days ago 1 reply      
This exit is too convenient. Jeff left SE because Joel's a bit of an ass and Spolsky's focus is back at FogCreek with offerings like Trello.

With VC cash drying up, Manhattan office space, and fifty employees that aren't exactly cheap. Jeff (to his credit) is exiting gracefully while he can. Kudos.

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mak120 2 days ago 0 replies      
I don't think the impact that stackexchange has had on the programming community is even well understood or appreciated yet. Still for many of us it is already hard to imagine a world without something like stackoverflow.com. It is a tool that we rely upon every day, not unlike Google. Thank you Jeff.
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mathattack 2 days ago 0 replies      
Great call if his heart wasn't in it any more. You need to look forward to going to work and going home. Leave one out of balance and things fall apart.

I am curious about the culture there. FogCreek seems very family friendly. Did it not bleed over?

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Codhisattva 2 days ago 0 replies      
Thank you Jeff. Rock the future and I hope you find the balance that eludes too many of us.
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andrewkreid 2 days ago 0 replies      
My workplace recently upgraded all devs to a dual-monitor setup. Now when I walk around the office the most common thing I see is one monitor for the IDE and one for Stack Overflow in the browser.
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thechut 2 days ago 0 replies      
I never even knew of Jeff, but StackOverflow has helped me more than I can even begin to talk about. Everything from stupid questions about using Linux to valuable conversations that helped me understand $LANGUAGE in a different way.
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chrislomax 2 days ago 0 replies      
Farewell Jeff! I wonder how many other people have had the epiphany since Steve died that no matter how much money or power you have, nothing can keep you alive?

I say good luck to him and his reasons could not be more justified in my eyes.

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Kiro 2 days ago 1 reply      
The Stack Exchange podcast will not be the same without Jeff.
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tjbarbour 1 day ago 0 replies      
Which contribution is greater?
Building the canonical Q/A engine or setting an example for tech professionals that family is #1?

Thank you Jeff, I'm glad you shared some of your awesome with us!

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dbecker 2 days ago 0 replies      
I've always been amazed how the stackoverflow (and various other stackexchange communities) turned out so much better than the other communities on the internet.

Jeff and the stackoverflow team have put together something really incredible. Congratulations... and thank you.

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Wazzup12 1 day ago 0 replies      
Jeff, understand our point about prioritizing family over work, etc but clearly lots of people reading it but cannot afford to retire are going to end up sad and demoralized today :(
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nutanc 2 days ago 0 replies      
Hats off! Congrats on getting your priorities right. You have done your job, now teach your kids to do their jobs :)
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asksol 2 days ago 0 replies      
Who has the means to take 6 months at home with the
kids, anyway? Even one month would be luxury for most... Is he telling me I'm failing my son?
42
dev_Gabriel 2 days ago 0 replies      
Well, I just became addicted to Stack Overflow and for that I really owe big thanks you to Jeff: THANK YOU!
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chj 2 days ago 0 replies      
Best wishes from a programmer addicted to stackoverflow.
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hetaoblog 2 days ago 0 replies      
a big surprise!
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georgieporgie 2 days ago 4 replies      
I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that this was uninteresting for the same reason that the Stack Exchange Podcast is uninteresting: it was just a guy talking about himself (SE Podcast occasionally has interesting shows, sooo much of it is just them ruminating about themselves, with a bunch of background racket). I didn't learn anything from this post, except that a Nerd Celebrity is leaving somewhere, with no technical information, no insight, nothing.
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Producer vs. Consumer reddit.com
635 points by stevenkovar  3 days ago   64 comments top 21
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raju 3 days ago 1 reply      
I just finished reading "The Power of Less: The Fine Art of Limiting Yourself to the Essential...in Business and in Life" [http://www.amazon.com/Power-Less-Limiting-Yourself-Essential...] and this advice is spot on.

In that book, Leo recommends your days 3 MITs (Most Important Tasks). These tasks are derived from your Goals, and Projects lists (He recommends that you start with only ONE goal for year, for e.g Learn Spanish, and break it down into 6-month goals, 1-month goals, and weekly goals). Furthermore, we all have projects on our plates, but he recommends that we

  1. Pick only 3 projects (of which one should be tied to your ONE goal)
2. Finish ALL 3 projects before putting 3 more on the plate.

These projects (ideally those things that require more than 1 To-do item, otherwise they would be just a To-do item :D), along with your goals should drive your To-do list (We all have other items on a day to day basis, and these do show up on your things to do, but more about that in a minute).

With all that in place, you should, on a day-to-day basis establish the 3 things you that will take you one step closer to your GOAL, or completion of a project - These MITs (decided on the night before, or first thing in the morning) are the first things you do everyday. That way, you know you have knocked out important items without having the day, or your manager, or your email throw you off.

He even recommends checking your email at 10 am (if possible, or later than the absolute first thing in the morning, because if you are like most people, your email usually has a few To-dos in it).

I have just incorporated his advice and am attempting to apply the same and I have to say that I feel so much less cluttered and far more focused. Knowing that I am doing what I need to do and then relegating myself to the not-so-important tasks later on the day seems to free up so much of the internal chatter in my head.

[Disclaimer - The link above is an a non-affiliate link, and I have no connection with the author other than having just read his book]

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swanson 3 days ago 2 replies      
I find that this pattern works really well for me, even if it's not at the start of my day. When I get home from work, I try to "produce" something, like writing a blog post, exercising, or spending an hour coding a side-project. As a result, I don't have the mental guilt about watching a movie, reading HN, or playing xbox later in the evening.

I find if I do things in the reverse order (come home from work, plop down and start checking Twitter/reddit) then it quickly becomes dinner time and my brain has "shut down" for the day. It's easy to lull myself into thinking "Well Matt, today is almost over so no sense in starting something, just work on $FOO tomorrow".

Another trick that I've found that is highly effective for me is to "link" a producing behavior to a consuming one. I'm a bit of a TV addict so I made a deal with myself - I can watch as much TV as I want, as long as I'm doing it on the treadmill. Maybe you really enjoy listening to podcasts or sports talk radio, allow yourself to consume but only while you are doing chores or running errands. Some would argue that this is not a good way to build habits (in the sense that you are doing a behavior for the wrong motivations - in my case I am exercising in order to watch TV not to become healthier) but its been working for me so far.

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ISeemToBeAVerb 3 days ago 0 replies      
I agree with this 110%. Starting the day out with productive work was a key element for me moving from a chronic procrastinator to a productive individual.

I took it one step further though. I knew how weak I was from years of habitual web surfing, so I forced a productive routine on myself by using the open-source app "SelfControl" to actually restrict me from accessing sites I knew were a time sink.

I also knew that I was unlikely to actually start the app at the beginning of the day, so I scripted it in my calendar to start the app an hour before I get up, that way I have no choice but to work. At the end of my workday, the app quits and I can then surf to my heart's desire.

So far, I've found this to be an ideal solution.

4
zeynalov 3 days ago 6 replies      
This is a paradox. People create/produce because they want:

1. to be powerful. Being powerful makes them able to consume more, hence being more happy. People do everything to be more comfortable.

2. to solve peoples problems, make the world better place = to feed their internal ego, prove the world that he/she can be helpful. This is a subliminal instinct of humanbeing having the main goal is being powerful among other species. Being powerful - see point 1.

3. to make money. Having more money makes people able to consume more, without any problems.

Aren't there any producer without a goal gaining power to consume more? I don't know, maybe. Don't we always say that if we want people use our products first we should ask ourselves would I use it? If yes, this means you are a producer, because you made a problem-solving product. But this also means you are a consumer, because you would like to use it. Mark uses facebook. Is he a producer or consumer?

Do you know any producer that don't consume 100 times more than avarage consumers?!

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baddox 3 days ago 6 replies      
I'm curious: why exactly is being a "consumer" such a bad thing? I'm not necessarily saying I disagree, but I'm having trouble coming up with an explanation, and it seems like everyone is simply assuming that consumption is a bad thing.
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enjalot 3 days ago 1 reply      
My heart says create, my body says consume
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Jach 3 days ago 2 replies      
This motivation trick used to work for me, it doesn't any more for some reason. I expressed it as "Action precedes motivation", since it's a recognition that once you have started working it's easy to keep going. I know some people who intentionally leave their source tree in a broken state before leaving for the day so that they have something simple to work on the next morning to start the action-ball rolling. (Or using the OP's language, make the first producing action easy to achieve.) Unfortunately it's not a guaranteed trick, it was nice while it lasted.
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mekazu 3 days ago 0 replies      
I wonder how many people like myself read this and thought "hey, good point, I already knew it but this reaffirms that I am wasting valuable time that I should be using to seize the day" and then went looking for something else on hacker news to fill the void. Disclaimer: I am on my lunch break.
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joneath 3 days ago 1 reply      
While I agree with the premise that being a mindless consumer is probably not a good thing, I strongly believe that consuming is just as important as producing. Exposing one's self to as many different ideas as possible is incredibly important to being able to produce high quality work. If we go with the definition that a person is the aggregate of their experiences, then most of these experiences are things we consume from the external world and other people. Why not try and maximize these experiences?

I personally try and give myself at least an hour a day for just consuming whatever content I'm in the mood for. More times than not, I find use for this information sometime in my life. I think the hardest part is curating this content so it will be the most useful, which I think this post is getting at. Maybe the author doesn't find a benefit to reading their Twitter/Facebook stream which is fine, but this is not a producer vs. consumer problem, it's a signal to noise problem.

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prawn 3 days ago 0 replies      
Probably pushing the comparison a bit, but The Matrix is here. Only, we are not a source of direct energy but glazed eyeballs glued to television; to sticky content sites, checking news sources and aggregators to see if there's anything new in the last five minutes; succumbing to the urge to find the latest thing for Twitter or HN or Reddit to gain artificial scores; sitting through CoD intermission for the next round rather than quitting; getting worked up as the mainstream papers inflate another trivial issue to incite response.
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keeptrying 3 days ago 1 reply      
So if you consume a lot of web content in a day u sometimes get into a funk which is seriously hard to break out of. Ie you dont really want to sleep even.. Just keep consumng... Its very weird ...Has anyone else had this problem?

Does anyone know why this happens and ggod ways to stop it from happening.

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aorshan 3 days ago 0 replies      
Happens to me all the time. Whenever I sit down and bs, with the intention of doing work later, work later never happens.
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stevenj 3 days ago 0 replies      
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ashokn225 3 days ago 0 replies      
I think whether it's addiction of media, drugs, or even Facebook, most people are aware of what they're doing. This notion that we're unaware of our addictions, that "denial is the first mistake" is all bullshit. People are particularly rational (in their own respective idea of what rational is) when it comes to addictions. It's just a cost benefit analysis. The cost is time and the opportunity cost of what we could be doing versus the benefit of being connected, consuming information (even social), or the high. How each of us weighs those options is a deeply subjective thing, but to say that we're not aware or that "we have a choice" to be producers, with that pedantic tone, is just wrong.
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Stefanvp 3 days ago 0 replies      
I personally find that even just 5 minute exercise in the morning before I take a shower gets me in the right mood.

Before I eat my breakfast or take a shower, I'll do a couple of pressups until I can't any more (usually about 40) and then some sit-ups(30 crunches and 30 normal ones). I'll then do so really light stretching (no idea what the names are: fetus position to stretching my back as I try to look at the ceiling etc...)

I'm currently living in Russia right now and trying to learn the language so my whole breakfast/exercise/shower I've got some Russian audio book playing in the background as well.

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badalyan 3 days ago 0 replies      
Either you run the day or the day runs you.
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akazackfriedman 2 days ago 0 replies      
This is still a great read. But I have to admit I was more excited when I thought from the title that a super interesting article on threading had made its way to Reddit.
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jmpeax 3 days ago 5 replies      
I wonder, as a research scientist, how one reconciles the fact that your mostly a consumer of academic literature.
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espeed 3 days ago 0 replies      
So simple, but so spot on.
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FredBrach 3 days ago 1 reply      
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kolkey 3 days ago 0 replies      
Like all good advice this one is repeated again and again.

I think I heard it for the first time 10 years ago from Brian Tracy :
http://amzn.to/zv02VR

Although I am sure that others mentioned it before him.

* Gratuitous affiliate link included.

5
I have a bad feeling about this raganwald.posterous.com
504 points by llambda  14 hours ago   129 comments top 22
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redstripe 12 hours ago  replies      
The BBC commissioned a study [1] that claims the Charles Dicken's brand brings in about £280m/year to the UK's economy. This from a public domain "brand". Meanwhile companies like Disney lobby for perpetual copyright to protect their own interest at the cost of all the lost opportunities that will never exist.

I don't understand how politicians in the free enterprise countries, especially American republicans with their distaste of market regulation, could consider extremely long copyright protection to be a net benefit to the market/country. Is Disney going to stop producing movies if their copyright was only 20 years? Drug companies only receive 20 years protection and their products are ridiculously expensive to produce yet they're still very viable businesses.

I wish we could turn the argument against long copyrights to be one of the damage they do to the economy.

[1] http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-16914367

2
agentultra 2 hours ago 0 replies      
The new technology will always replace the old despite the attempts to safeguard the latter by those with vested interests. It happened to the scribes when the printing press arrived; To the telegraph when the phone came along; to radio, records, and even television. Big companies with a lot at stake tried their best to prevent new technology from invading their markets and putting them out of business.

The only one that I think is different is the development of the mobile phone and tablet computers. These are devices that are sold with locks on them and legislation that discourages tampering. I don't think we've seen this kind of thing happen before and it sets a bad precedent. I've got a Kindle and I don't really believe that I own it -- Amazon can remotely remove content from it and brick it if they wanted to. I've got a phone that that has the capability to spy on me. If I modify any of these devices to serve my interests I risk "bricking" them and voiding any warranties that they came with.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but afaik that's a first for us.

3
feralchimp 12 hours ago 0 replies      
> More jobs and businesses have been created by the decline of IBM than lost in Armonk.

Actually, IBM and its mainframes/midrange have continued to prosper along with all of the newer growth markets in business computing. That's not just a correction about IBM, it's fundamental to noticing that job growth in these sectors was not "created by the decline of" anything. It was created by a huge expansion in the total amount of computing value that businesses found needs to consume in the marketplace.

When zero-sum your ideology is, 900 years-old you will not reach.

And not stray too far OT, but this is what I dislike about the "kill hollywood" meme. There isn't anything inherently hollywood-killing about the project of expanding the meaning of media production and delivery to include new (and great!) films that aren't produced by traditional studios...and there probably shouldn't be.

4
shingen 10 hours ago 2 replies      
It's always curious when someone rails about a big government and its encroachment on freedom. Then in the same statement, talks about the use of big government to target specific companies to damage them instead.

As though you can really have your cake and eat it too when it comes to a big government. Big enough to break up AT&T, regulate IBM and Intel and Microsoft - big enough to take your freedom, silence your speech, regulate your Internet. Good luck getting something that big and power hungry to not keep getting bigger and more powerful and eventually wiping out your liberty. You give a government system $7 trillion dollars to spend regulating and growing itself, what do you think is going to happen? They're just going to be selectively hands off? You think you can negotiate with that?

5
mathattack 4 hours ago 1 reply      
Every business likes to buy from perfect competition and sell as a monopoly. This keeps input prices low and output prices high. This model is so profitable that companies bribe politicians to maintain it. Donating to a SuperPAC is more cost effective than R and D and has anshoeter payback.

I see 2 ways of fighting this:

1) Civil disobedience - Pirate everything and share while willingly accepting the consequences.
2) Shine lights on the evil doers. Support wiki leaks. Publicize. Organize voting drives.

I have bills to pay so I support number two. Great social change requires number 1.

6
twainer 12 hours ago 3 replies      
Sorry, but this post is based on a false notion that intellectual property is a beneficial crutch propping up only corporations and piggybacks on the idea that destruction of entrenched interests is always regenerative. That second point is likely so - but the battle isn't about finding new corporate captains to pay creative individuals - it's about how not to pay creative individuals.

I find the irony very sad that we are supposed to move from an industrial to a post-industrial knowledge-based economy - one presumably underpinned by the ability and right of individuals to monetize their knowledge . . . but people have had their free lunch and prefer it instead, perhaps as some salve.

I've said it 1000 times - if you don't like how corporations conduct their business, set something up yourself and if you have a better solution, you'll eventually find yourself a real market. The willy-nilly urge to destroy intellectual property rights for individuals and corporations alike is nothing more than a selfish catharsis - without any sense - neither common-sense, nor business-sense, nor a sense of history. When you take power away, it hurts the weakest first and the strongest last - all the while preserving the existing power structure. That's not a smart solution for anything.

7
dasil003 5 hours ago 2 replies      
On a tangential note, I'm wary of relying on the job creation argument to validate new technology. The reason being that new technology can kill jobs. Particularly as programmers, one of our main goals is to automate things that previously required warm bodies. I don't feel guilty about this because I would never want to do those jobs, but on the same token, not everyone wants to be a programmer. And in the long term if we ever achieve AI then we're on the path to making programmers obsolete as well, which is a bit scary on a personal level (though I'm not really worried about this happening in my lifetime). At a societal level this is not necessarily good or bad, it's just the direction we are currently moving in. I do worry that our biology is not well-suited to an automated environment, but there's nothing to do but confront the problem when we come to it I guess.
8
SethMurphy 13 hours ago 1 reply      
This artical is dead on. With this as motivation, we should all be more like Stallman and un-marginalize his point of view. His point of view is also mostly dead on, and always has been ... We can not let the mighty few rule the majority, it is not the way the internet was envisioned to be, and we should fight for it to remain as envisioned.

In response to tnicola, $10 a month, max, if I do not get that much out of an internet service, it should be free. Unlike Stallman, I do believe in a bit of capitalism, but a majority of freedom.

9
RyanMcGreal 2 hours ago 0 replies      
This is a beautiful, haunting essay brimming with sobering insights:

"At every point in the last forty years, wealth, health, and happiness in our economy have been built on the freedom to disrupt the entrenched powers, not the preservation of their rent-seeking monopolies."

10
shoham 34 minutes ago 0 replies      
But the focus is rarely on the inventors themselves. This is the hardest job of all! Consumers tend to get what they want, and eat what they're given. If we're not supporting "starving artists" what's the point in having a more open copyright regime?
11
tnicola 13 hours ago 3 replies      
Great post. But, like all good rebels, I do believe that the cooler heads will prevail and that we will not have to surrender.

For the past year, I have been touting that the future of business is benevolence. We are too smart and too savvy to be able to carry on indefinitely in a malevolent way.

Google started it with the whole don't be evil philosophy and whether or not they are still following it, is largely irrelevant. It is, however, infectious. Facebook is following suit and (I hope) it won't be long before we all realize that the doze of benevolence will get you far. And by that I don't mean philantropy.

1) Don't charge people more than you have to. Make money, by all means, even get rich, but don't overcharge just bacause you don't have a lot of competition.

2) Pay your employees well and create positive work environments. Happy people remain working hard and make you more money at a nice and organic rate.

3) Loyalty is no longer a virtue of an employee. It is a privilege earned by an employer. Don't be a DB and expect people to stick around and work hard for your just cause you are putting bread on their families tables. That worked in the 50's. Get on with the program.

4) Share the profits with your employees, share the innovation with your customers and don't be afraid to try new things even if they appear to hurt your bottom line. You will never know until you try it.

5) Vote for a party that will better the world, not the one that will serve your selfish desires (I intentionally did not use a word needs here. (This is where I will exit on this one.)

I could go on. Perhaps I am naive in my thinking, but something (my gut) tells me that if we are in Act III, the good will win in the end. Doesn't it always?

It's either that, or this rebel will need all the force I can get.

12
noibl 12 hours ago 1 reply      
TL;DR: As I enter my twilight years, I know that Star Wars will continue to comfort me long into my dotage.

raganwald: 50's nothing, get back in the game.

America: The Cold War is over. There is no Death Star to blow up. You can't fight for freedom anymore. You can only create it.

---

To be clear: I don't mean to ridicule the point of the post. Bad laws are bad. But the status quo cannot last forever. It is a peculiar feature of the current discourse around IP law that it is the so-called entrenched interests (e.g. holders of large copyright portfolios) that are disrupting us and the way of life we hold to be normal, natural and good. It is our failure as a populace to get over the shininess of our new technological toys and actively build the futures we want, that allows these people to portray us as reckless children in need of a firm hand.

Hackers are, by definition, exempt from this generalisation. We know the world is messy. We like it that way. We want what doesn't exist yet, so we make it. Vague appeals to stale, simplistic and belligerent pop culture allegory should be beneath us.

13
anxrn 13 hours ago 0 replies      
This, very much so.

"At every point in the last forty years, wealth, health, and happiness in our economy has been built on the freedom to disrupt the entrenched powers, not the preservation of their rent-seeking monopolies."

I would extrapolate this to progress in free societies at any given point in history.

Oddly, this evokes a strange feeling of comfort in the inevitability of disruption.

14
camwest 13 hours ago 2 replies      
I think things like a serious implementation of the Laws of Identity (http://www.ipc.on.ca/images/Resources/PrivacybyDesign%20Book...) are one of the missing pieces in giving back control to the people.

It's funny because the biggest players lately (Zynga, Facebook, Google etc) are building up these walled gardens like a bunch of wannabe imperialists.

Who exactly is leading the Rebel forces?

15
abecedarius 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Good story, but the only sense in which the heroes are sure to win is that whoever wins will be deemed the heroes.
16
knowtheory 13 hours ago 2 replies      
I have only one question.

Who are the ewoks in this analogy?

17
CaptainDecisive 6 hours ago 0 replies      
To continue the Star Wars analogy, the great thing about technological advancement is that as sooner or later some unknown farm boy shows up out of nowhere and bulls-eyes the fucking exhaust port and then, sha-boom, everything changes. And the powers that be never see it coming.

Now please excuse me, I have a movie to watch.

18
draegtun 6 hours ago 1 reply      
>> ... recall playing with punch cards in the 1960s ...

And I recall still using/seeing them in the early 1980s here in UK!

They were still heavily used at that time in the Market Research industry for recording data entry (of surveys). In fact the term punching is still used in the industry to this day in reference to data entry.

19
FourSquareToo 13 hours ago 4 replies      
Don't worry. Once China and India have a sufficient manufacturing, services and consumer base, I fully expect them to formally declare IP to be a nonsense and an impediment to growth.
20
draggnar 11 hours ago 0 replies      
...that as we enjoy great advantages from the inventions of others, we should be glad of an opportunity to serve others by any invention of ours, and this we should do freely and generously. - Ben Franklin
21
peterarmstrong 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Update: This is now the newest post in the Uncensored ebook (http://leanpub.com/uncensored) which we are producing to benefit the EFF. Thanks Reg!
22
asynchronous13 13 hours ago 0 replies      
Sadly, I'm more incline to think we're at the beginning of Act II.
7
Introducing Chrome for Android googleblog.blogspot.com
451 points by cleverjake  1 day ago   232 comments top 53
1
trotsky 1 day ago 6 replies      
Decoupling the browser from the OS is one of the best things that could happen for android security going forward. While it won't help people who can't get upgrades to ICS, at least it will solve the future problems of people who get stuck on 4.x while their OS browser slowly becomes more and more exploitable. I have one phone that is still on 2.2 - it is trivially easy to own the phone with a little bit of javascript on any web page.
2
klausa 1 day ago 4 replies      
It appears to be significantly faster on JS front than stock Browser.

Sunspider results:

    Stock - 3852.2ms
Chrome - 3131.8ms

(tested on HP Touchpad with CM9 A.06)

edit:

I was curious and redid it after rebooting:

    Stock - 2816.1ms
Chrome - 2928.1ms (!)

So it turns out it's faster on systems under load, but actually slightly slower on freshly booted one. Weird.

In case anyone is interested in full benchmarks:

Stock: http://u.42.pl/2HRq

Chrome: http://u.42.pl/2HRp

3
dangrossman 1 day ago  replies      
With Android 4.0 at 1% market share, it'll be a long time before most people can even try this.

http://developer.android.com/resources/dashboard/platform-ve...

4
lucaspiller 1 day ago 3 replies      
I'm guessing this shares code with Chromium, so will it be open source too?

EDIT: Looks potential: http://blog.chromium.org/2012/02/deeper-look-at-chrome-for-a...

"With hardware-accelerated canvas, overflow scroll support, strong HTML5 video support, and new capabilities such as Indexed DB, WebWorkers and Web Sockets, Chrome for Android is a solid platform for developing web content on mobile devices."

5
nuclear_eclipse 1 day ago 2 replies      
My initial perception is that all the Chrome features are great, primarily the data syncing with my desktop browsers. But the rendering is flawed; it doesn't render like the standard Android browser, doesn't render like desktop Chrome, and doesn't seem to even render consistent to itself.

For example, a few screenshots comparing the standard Browser view of this comment page and the way Chrome beta views it:

Browser: http://db.tt/kv3xP1Mk

Browser: http://db.tt/s7S6lCBN

Chrome beta: http://db.tt/p9YXoWJU

6
nickpresta 1 day ago 2 replies      
Direct Market Link: https://market.android.com/details?id=com.android.chrome
The download is a hefty 16MB.

Features:

* Chrome-to-mobile, Sync bookmarks, history, settings, Auto sign-in

* Bandwidth management (preload webpages)

* Privacy settings

* Developer tools: Tilt Scrolling, USB Web Debugging (debug web pages from Chrome Desktop via USB??)

* Incognito mode

* About screen: http://i.imgur.com/Ahr6t.jpg

The homepage has a "sync" icon with all the tabs open on your desktop: http://i.imgur.com/6eadl.jpg

It can be a little slow to sync pages between devices, but works much better than Chrome to Phone.

Overall, Chrome Beta is a welcomed improvement.

7
SandB0x 1 day ago 3 replies      
So what have we been using up till now on Android? Is this just a re-branding and overhaul of the Android WebKit browser?
8
dave1010uk 1 day ago 0 replies      
For those wondering what the differences between the stock Android ICS browser and Chrome 16 (which this is based on), Chrome has extra features such as:

    * WOFF fonts 
* Web workers
* drag and drop (not sure if this would work in mobile)
* file API
* IndexedDB
* form validation
* CSS border images
* SVG filters

Desktop Chrome currently doesn't support touch events. I wonder if the Android port's touch events implementation will make it to the desktop.

Source: http://caniuse.com/#compare=y&b1=chrome+16&b2=androi...

9
pamelafox 1 day ago 1 reply      
Since I use Phonegap for my Android apps, I've filed an issue requesting that the Chrome browser be usable in WebView somehow:
http://code.google.com/p/chromium/issues/detail?id=113088

Click the star if that's something you'd like too. :)

10
Kevin_Marks 1 day ago 2 replies      
According to MG Siegler, Chrome is in the bizdev-required proprietary 'with Google' part of Android, not the Open Source part.
http://parislemon.com/post/17215781807/chrome-for-android-th...
That means we're stuck with legacy browsers in existing Androids and in the non-Google-blessed world (Amazon Fire and the billion Chinese phones and tablets).
11
enoughalready 1 day ago 0 replies      
This is exciting news. I just got the Galaxy Nexus, so the timing couldn't be any more perfect.

It doesn't look like they allow extensions yet. :(

Big win: You can remotely debug your web application via usb and adb. (Preferences -> Developer Tools -> Enable USB Web debugging.

12
bad_user 1 day ago 1 reply      
"This item cannot be installed in your device's country"
13
rkon 1 day ago 1 reply      
This is unusable on the Galaxy Nexus due to its mysterious tendency to make fonts microscopic for random sections of the page. Guess it never occured to anyone to test their flagship browser on their flagship phone? It doesn't even resize the page to fit the screen when you pinch zoom (which the stock browser does)

Also, it has a persistent address/menu bar that takes up the top 10% of the screen, no doubt thanks to ICS' lack of a dedicated menu button. Once again, proof that removing said button was a pure stroke of idiocy.

14
trotsky 1 day ago 6 replies      
Chrome is now available in Beta from Android Market, in select countries and languages for phones and tablets with Android 4.0, Ice Cream Sandwich.

What tablets have official ICS on them? Is ICS even fully tabletized? I thought they had said they were putting that off until Jelly Bean.

15
eco 1 day ago 0 replies      
Trying it now. It's very slick. Neat little animations and effects all over. Pulling up tabs from my Desktop Chrome works great. All of my bookmarks show up. No extension support (yet?).
16
voidfiles 1 day ago 2 replies      
Wow, if they include extensions. This could be huge.
17
revorad 1 day ago 1 reply      
Can anyone please confirm if this includes access to the Chrome Web Store? That could be huge for web apps.
18
lwhi 1 day ago 0 replies      
It's a shame that this has only been released for Android 4.0. My hope is that use of Chrome for Android becomes commonplace. SVG support has been lacking in the Android stock browser in all releases up to Gingerbread - Android 4.0 (and 3.0) already have SVG support, earlier release could really benefit.
19
angryasian 1 day ago 0 replies      
Finally. If this can actually live up to the desktop experience, I hope we can finally bring an end to the app.

Only available for ICS
https://market.android.com/details?id=com.android.chrome

20
dave1010uk 1 day ago 0 replies      
Does anyone know if this is Open Source?
21
emehrkay 1 day ago 1 reply      
I've been hearing that the browser in Android is kinda bad from a lot of web/js developers. I hope that this makes the situation more palatable. Even better is when they'll ship a version for Windows Phone and ios.
22
loudmax 1 day ago 1 reply      
I had been wondering whether Google would port Chrome to Android, or they would port Dalvik to Chrome. I'm still not ruling out the latter option.
23
danielwarna 1 day ago 1 reply      
It doesn't seem to be available in Finland, found a apk at XDA tho: http://forum.xda-developers.com/showthread.php?t=1485420

Too bad, it instacrashes om my ICS GalaxyS

24
dochtman 1 day ago 2 replies      
Too bad it's only available in "select countries", which certainly don't include the Netherlands... Probably just the US and Canada? Kind of old-fashioned.
25
bvdbijl 1 day ago 0 replies      
Just a note: the rendering in this app does not use Android's webkit! For example the rounded borders on ihackersnews.com are square! It seems that it doesn't use the namespaced -webkit-border-radius but only the normal border-radius
Interesting
26
nextparadigms 1 day ago 0 replies      
Does anyone know if it comes with the same tab sandboxing it has on the PC? They say it has the same security as Chrome for PC, but they don't specify this.
27
darklajid 1 day ago 0 replies      
While I understand the appeal (and - being stuck on pre 4.0 anyway, not utterly relevant for me at this time): I really hope that this will stay an optional offer, with a simple browser being the default.

Things like "When searching, your top search results are loaded in the background as you type so pages appear instantly." make me shudder in disgust. The 'inspired by WebOS' card stuff looks nice, but I won't be having more than 2-3 tabs open on my phone at any given time (tablets might be different here).

A browser is a very central part of the user experience. I prefer it simple and stupid.

28
ashamedlion 1 day ago 2 replies      
I wonder if it would be feasible for them to put Chrome on the iPhone. Technically, Apple wouldn't be against it since it's using WebKit.
29
karl_nerd 1 day ago 1 reply      
"Swipe from the edge to switch tab" is beautiful :)
30
gavanwoolery 1 day ago 0 replies      
EEeaagh...getting tired of the upbeat-catchy-music-with-stop-motion-video-and-smarmy-narrator product demos. Who started these? I think it was Apple, not sure though...
31
SlimHop 1 day ago 1 reply      
Can anyone speak to whether or not Chrome for Android supports WebGL?
32
rplnt 1 day ago 0 replies      
Would this have any benefit if I don't use chrome on my computer (and even if I was I probably wouldn't want all my tabs syncing to phone)? Because the ad left me with impression that syncing is its only feature.
33
sunsu 1 day ago 0 replies      
All I want to know is how long till it replaces the current implementation of WebView in the Android SDK.
34
condiment 1 day ago 2 replies      
The blog post doesn't go into it, but I'm curious to know what the long-term implications of this release are for the built-in android browser and the android SDK's WebView and WebChromeClient.

If this is indeed the first step towards decoupling the browser from the Android platform itself, I would expect to see continuing development of those aspects of the SDK to dwindle and die completely, leaving them in the dust feature-wise when compared to native apps, and putting the people who work on web-wrapper-apps at an even more serious disadvantage.

35
adamrights 1 day ago 1 reply      
Firefox for android unfortunately started out real slow...might be a good move for Google. Time to go to xda-developers and see if it'll be on your phone.
36
mikeytown2 1 day ago 0 replies      
I wonder how chrome does speed wise when compared to opera mini. I'm currently using opera mini as its one of the fastest browsers for my phone; G1 running the superE rom.
37
TwoBit 1 day ago 0 replies      
The problem with FireFox on my (512 mb) phone is that the OS usually kills it when I switch to another app (even tiny apps like messaging), and it's a slow FireFox restart if I want to use it again. The OS doesn't do this with the stock browser.
38
jyunderwood 1 day ago 1 reply      
I wonder if/when the "Browser" app will get the hardware-accelerated canvas support.

Currently, some of the canvas apps I've tried on ICS run worse than on Gingerbread. However, those same apps run acceptable in this Chrome beta.

39
dahlia 1 day ago 0 replies      
It reminds me of the truth that speed is the best user experience.
40
ssn 1 day ago 1 reply      
Why only "in selected countries"?
41
sathishmanohar 1 day ago 0 replies      
This app is incompatible with your Nexus S. :(
42
potomak 1 day ago 0 replies      
43
Shank 1 day ago 0 replies      
Crashes on start on my HTC Incredible (4.0.3 via Evervolv), and on my Nook Color it can't load pages.
44
ARolek 1 day ago 1 reply      
Will this replace the browser that ships with Android in ICS, or will the user have to download Chrome?
45
gcb 1 day ago 1 reply      
A browser with that many permissions? what good is sandboxing and everything if the browser can access 100% of my device, including microphone?

i'm thankful this is not available for my ancient, 11mo old, nexus one.

46
jgnatch 1 day ago 0 replies      
It was about time!
47
TechNewb 1 day ago 2 replies      
Chrome for iOS please.
48
porterhaney 1 day ago 0 replies      
Much like Facebook's S-1, Google is seeing a huge increase in mobile traffic but not strong way to monetize it via advertising. I'd wager the preview pane (and maybe even the browser itself) is a play to increase the interaction they get on mobile advertisements.
49
its_so_on 1 day ago 0 replies      
I never thought I would see the day that a BlackBerry can run Chrome. I still never think so, but I never thought so, too.
50
wavephorm 1 day ago 1 reply      
I think is the death knell for ChromeOS. Android browser has always sucked, it was the primary reason I haven't bought an Android device. Google had the resources to make Chrome on Android a long time ago, so I presume they were dragging their feet in a "wait and see" approach for whether ChromeOS had any chance on its own.
51
nod 1 day ago 1 reply      
I'm rather confused that Google seems to be aiming to fragment the browser market for its own platform. I already wasn't looking forward to supporting/testing both Browser and Firefox on Android... Is Google just this disorganized internally?
52
benologist 1 day ago 6 replies      
Douche move making it require Ice Cream Sandwich while they don't require telcos to ship any of us upgrades.
53
sern 1 day ago 6 replies      
And in typical Google fashion, they have assumed that devices have an infinite amount of memory: https://imgur.com/zkh7C this is with the app in the background!
8
Roger Boisjoly dies at 73; engineer tried to halt Challenger launch latimes.com
366 points by pwg  1 day ago   94 comments top 21
1
damoncali 1 day ago  replies      
I spent 6 years as a structural engineer on space shuttle flights. A few thoughts:

While I don't know the people involved with Challenger - I was in 6th grade at the time - it goes well against my own experience that NASA management had anything but the interests of the crew in mind. To a fault. In fact, your average NASA employee doted on astronauts like a star struck little girl. What the crew wanted, the crew got. You could always tell who the astronaut was when you saw a group walking about the centers - he/she was the one whose every semi-whimsical comment extracted voluminous and polite laughter from the others in the group.

I was, however, working when Columbia blew up. In fact, my mission was supposed to fly on it when it got back. Although sad, I feel comfortable saying that most of the people working on these things sort of know it's going to happen from time to time. It wasn't exactly surprising to us or the crew.

Blaming managers and celebrating engineers is overly simplistic. The line is not as well defined as you might think. I had few - if any (I can't think of a single one, actually) - managers (either contractors or NASA employees) who were not experienced engineers.

The safety rules for a shuttle payload, let alone the actual orbiter, are voluminous and arcane. It is the primary reason that very little new technology comes out of the manned space flight program. Everything new is considered too dangerous because it hasn't been flown before.

This stuff is insanely dangerous. It is pretty damn easy to come up with a way some piece of hardware you're working on could kill someone. The complexity is enormous. The number of people involved is in the thousands, and they're spread all over the country. Different centers have different rules.

As a result, you make life-and-death decisions literally every day. It's not such a big deal, because there is a lot of formal process in place to make sure it gets done right. The the "standards" are what keep space flight as we know it as safe as it is. Are they or the processes by which they are enforced perfect? Hell no.

The system failed. People failed. But we knew this would happen, and we did it anyway because it's the price of exploring the frontiers. We learned from Challenger. We learned from Columbia. We will learn from the next catastrophic failure. NASA isn't perfect. In fact, you might say the bloated organization and government involvement makes this sort of thing inevitable. But I bet the small privateers exploring manned space flight will run into their own challenges.

Basically, what I'm saying is that we need to keep this in a larger perspective. Obsessing over one failure in what is a centuries-long quest is not helpful. Dissect it, learn from it, and move on.

2
raphman 1 day ago 1 reply      
From the Rogers report [1]:

Engineers at Thiokol also were increasingly concerned about the problem. On July 22, 1985, Roger Boisjoly of the structures section wrote a memorandum predicting NASA might give the motor contract to a competitor or there might be a flight failure if Thiokol did not come up with a timely solution.

Nine days later (July 31) Boisjoly wrote another memorandum titled "O-ring Erosion/Potential Failure Criticality" to R. K. Lund, Thiokol's Vice President of Engineering:

"The mistakenly accepted position on the joint problem was to fly without fear of failure and to run a series of design evaluations which would ultimately lead to a solution or at least a significant reduction of the erosion problem. This position is now changed as a result of the [51-B] nozzle joint erosion which eroded a secondary O-ring with the primary O-ring never sealing. If the same scenario should occur in a field joint (and it could), then it is a jump ball whether as to the success or failure of the joint because the secondary O-ring cannot respond to the clevis opening rate and may not be capable of pressurization. The result would be a catastrophe of the highest order-loss of human life."

Boisjoly recommended setting up a team to solve the O-ring problem, and concluded by stating:

"It is my honest and very real fear that if we do not take immediate action to dedicate a team to solve the problem, with the field joint having the number one priority, then we stand in jeopardy of losing a flight along with all the launch pad facilities."

[1] http://history.nasa.gov/rogersrep/v1ch6.htm

3
dmethvin 1 day ago 2 replies      
The fate of the Challenger engineers is depressing because they were essentially kicked out of their profession for knowing the right and moral answer. Thankfully, very few of us will be faced with these honestly life-or-death technical decisions.

I think there are parallels to right-or-wrong issues that we face in our own industry on a regular basis, for example:

http://johnnye.net/articles/ios-apps-want-your-contacts,-not...

Are phrases like "standard industry practice" and "covered by the click-through license" today's weasel words that rationalize us implementing immoral management demands?

4
cellularmitosis 1 day ago 5 replies      
While watching the new iPad UI course from CMU ( http://www.cmu.edu/homepage/computing/2012/winter/ipad-cours... ), the lecturer touched on what happened with the Challenger, using it as an example in a point he was trying to make.

However, I was struck by wrong he got it. He was making a point about how just having the data available isnt enough - the modern challenge is to make sense of big data in a meaningful way through visualization. And to back this point up, he made it sound like a bunch of engineers didn't look closely at the data sheet for the rubber used in their o-rings and oopsy! The challenger blew up. Shrug, Who knew?

I'll tell you who knew. Roger. "The engineers" knew perfectly well what was going to happen. It was management who refused to listen to them and launched anyway.

Feyman's account of his involvement in investigating this disaster in "the pleasure of finding things out" was excellent. In one exercise, he bad the engineers and management write down what they honestly thought the failure rate of the shuttle was. Management quoted 1 in 100,000, while engineering quoted 1 in 100. The challenger disaster was a symptom of a complete breakdown in communication between engineering and management at NASA.

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kevinalexbrown 1 day ago 1 reply      
What strikes me about the episode in terms of "general life lessons" isn't just "Listen to the engineers" (you should, though); it's that under the pressure to Get Stuff Done, there's a huge temptation to brush legitimate concerns under the rug. "These guys tell me this shuttle is unsafe, but space launch is never completely safe" --> "These guys tell me this user data isn't secure but no software is completely safe." Now that the newness of the space program has worn off a bit, it's easy to say "why didn't they just delay the launch?" but back in the day, it was an issue of national pride, and the managers, simple-minded as they may have been, were under an extreme amount of pressure to pull the launch off.

I guess it's just worth remembering that even if you're under pressure to ship, launch, or publish, if the guys whose job it is to know tell you to reconsider, you probably should.

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crikli 1 day ago 0 replies      
"Their pleas and technical theories were rejected by senior managers at the company and NASA, who told them they had failed to prove their case and that the shuttle would be launched in freezing temperatures the next morning. It was among the great engineering miscalculations in history."

Horsepucky: the engineers calculations weren't mis-anything. The historical record has long since proven that the engineers were repeatedly ignored by their management and by bureaucrats at NASA.

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mcdillon 1 day ago 4 replies      
"When he was pressed by NASA the night before the liftoff to sign a written recommendation approving the launch, he refused, and later argued late into the night for a launch cancellation. When McDonald later disclosed the secret debate to accident investigators, he was isolated and his career destroyed."

This is quite simply astonishing; everything I have ever learned in my engineering classes said to do what McDonald did and look what happened to him.

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3lit3H4ck3r 1 day ago 1 reply      
Stunning.

"When the space shuttle Columbia burned up on reentry in 2003, killing its crew of seven, the accident was blamed on the same kinds of management failures that occurred with the Challenger. By that time, Boisjoly believed that NASA was beyond reform, some of its officials should be indicted on manslaughter charges and the agency abolished."

"NASA's mismanagement "is not going to stop until somebody gets sent to hard rock hotel," Boisjoly said. "I don't care how many commissions you have. These guys have a way of numbing their brains. They have destroyed $5 billion worth of hardware and 14 lives because of their nonsense." "

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asynchronous13 1 day ago 1 reply      
Ronald Reagan was supposed to give a state of the union address a couple days after the launch. He wanted to use the success of the space program as part of that speech. While there was no direct order, it's clear that NASA management felt significant political pressure to push the launch forward or risk reduced funding from congress. It's clear they screwed up, just wanted to add some context to the climate when they made these decisions.
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mithaler 1 day ago 0 replies      
For more background on the engineer-manager disconnect that led to the Challenger disaster, it's worth reading about Richard Feynman's famous appendix to the Rogers report (even Wikipedia's summary is a fascinating read):

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rogers_Commission_Report#Role_o...

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snowpolar 3 hours ago 0 replies      
I don't know science so please pardon me if my comment makes no sense in this context.

What if by some stroke of luck, Challenger was extremely lucky enough to not explode on that 1st launch...What would happen to these righteous people such as Roger? Condemned by the people around them as some over worrying, insane self righteous people who thought they know everything. If you get what I mean...

It's sad that the challenger explosion happened, but at the same time it helps to highlight an important issue which may otherwise remain buried.

In software/web development context, it's of course harder to say this thing is going to blow up because a serious technical debt usually only climbs in after a much longer time for which by then, the people responsible may have left . Leaving the next victim to clean it up. This also is a sad state when it comes to final year projects, where students try to do everything that could impress to the graders on the outside to get the top grade. While students who make the extra effort for a clean and maintainble backend did not get the top grades because the lecturer only looks at the outside during presentation.

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arto 20 hours ago 0 replies      
The story in more detail at NPR:

http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2012/02/06/146490064/rem...

[...] "We all knew what the implication was without actually coming out and saying it," a tearful Boisjoly told Zwerdling in 1986. "We all knew if the seals failed the shuttle would blow up."

Armed with the data that described that possibility, Boisjoly and his colleagues argued persistently and vigorously for hours. At first, Thiokol managers agreed with them and formally recommended a launch delay. But NASA officials on a conference call challenged that recommendation.

"I am appalled," said NASA's George Hardy, according to Boisjoly and our other source in the room. "I am appalled by your recommendation."

Another shuttle program manager, Lawrence Mulloy, didn't hide his disdain. "My God, Thiokol," he said. "When do you want me to launch--next April?"

These words and this debate were not known publicly until our interviews with Boisjoly and his colleague. They told us that the NASA pressure caused Thiokol managers to "put their management hats on," as one source told us. They overruled Boisjoly and the other engineers and told NASA to go ahead and launch.

"We thought that if the seals failed the shuttle would never get off the launch pad," Boisjoly told Zwerdling. So, when Challenger lifted off without incident, he and the others watching television screens at Thiokol's Utah plant were relieved.

"And when we were one minute into the launch a friend turned to me and said, 'Oh God. We made it. We made it!'" Boisjoly continued. "Then, a few seconds later, the shuttle blew up. And we all knew exactly what happened."

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SoftwareMaven 23 hours ago 0 replies      
You can go through any catastrophe in a complex system and piece together a chain of events that show how "obvious" it was that it was going to happen. What you miss are all the chains that say every complex system is going to end in catastrophe, because when they don't end, nobody looks. It is kind of an anti-survivor bias.

It is also why it is a bad idea to make policy changes strictly off the cause of a single failure, and that is where things like commissions should help: you can move the focus to looking at the entire problem set for weaknesses instead of just leaving it with "make a better o-ring".

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jgrahamc 1 day ago 0 replies      
RIP Responsible Engineer
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ctdonath 1 day ago 2 replies      
In “Visual Explanations” http://www.edwardtufte.com/tufte/books_visex Edward Tufte wrote a must-read analysis of why admonitions to postpone the launch were ignored.
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sheepthief 1 day ago 0 replies      
Here's the memo in which Boisjoly warns of a potential "catastrophe of the highest order - loss of human life."

http://www.lettersofnote.com/2009/10/result-would-be-catastr...

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bconway 20 hours ago 0 replies      
What I find most interesting is the contrast this article's discussion paints with the one we saw only 2 weeks ago, How Much Is an Astronaut's Life Worth?[1]. Some of the highly-rated HN comments included:

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.

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 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."

[1] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=3518559

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InclinedPlane 22 hours ago 0 replies      
For the curious, I ran into an excellent document which is an excerpt from an after the fact risk assessment of the Shuttle System over time: http://traffic.libsyn.com/sciencefriday/NASAShuttleRiskRevie...

It's quite fascinating and pretty eye opening.

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mcantelon 1 day ago 0 replies      
What are the names of those above Boisjoly who ignored him and made the call to launch? Good to know the names of the heroes in this story, but good also to know the names of the villains.
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shareme 1 day ago 0 replies      
Now for contrast what happens when those lower field engineers are management in the SpaceX case?

Hopefully no loss of life ever..

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dennisgorelik 18 hours ago 1 reply      
"Boisjoly could not watch the launch, so certain was he that the shuttle would blow up."

One thing is to believe that the chance of blowing up is ~1% (which is enough to prevent launch).

Another thing is to be certain, that it WILL blow up (I assume 90%+ probability here).

If he was so certain, why he could not convince his management?

10
Differences Between jQuery .bind() vs .live() vs .delegate() vs .on() elijahmanor.com
320 points by elijahmanor  3 days ago   60 comments top 8
1
jd 2 days ago 2 replies      
What I really like about the old style bind/live/delegate is that it's so grep-able. The new on()-based API makes it much harder to search through a codebase.

In addition, when you see something like:

    $('.table a').click(function() { ... } )

it immediately looks wrong, because there are probably multiple links in the table. Wrong code that looks wrong is great, because you can then refactor it as you come across it. But now you have to check if a second selector argument is passed to "on", to see if unnecessary event handlers are created.

2
emehrkay 3 days ago  replies      
The more I use jQuery, the more of a mess I see that it is. Don't get me wrong, I'd rather use it than rolling my own cross browser solution, but it is not the library that Id choose first. I simply do not like the api choices, the lib works well, the api, as seen in this article, isn't too pretty.
3
bluesnowmonkey 2 days ago 2 replies      
> The method attaches the same event handler to every matched element in the selection.

Why is that a con for .bind()? This used to be considered a performance benefit compared to onclick.

4
ars 2 days ago 1 reply      
That html snippet at the top is quite strange - it's not legal to put an H3 or a P in an A.
5
wnoveno 2 days ago 2 replies      
on a slightly less relevant note.
is live() pronounced as live as in live wire or live as in die/live?
we had a little debate going here on our office about this and we need closure dammit!
6
easymode 2 days ago 0 replies      
I experienced this dilemma first hand. Thank you very much for explaining it clearly.
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blueprint 2 days ago 1 reply      
Don't forget to check out livequery.

http://docs.jquery.com/Plugins/livequery

"Live Query utilizes the power of jQuery selectors by binding events or firing callbacks for matched elements auto-magically, even after the page has been loaded and the DOM updated."

Oh so awesome.

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baddox 2 days ago 0 replies      
I see "it's" used as the possessive pronoun so often and so deliberately by educated authors that the descriptive linguist in me is starting to think "its" has been deprecated. Still, the prescriptive linguist in me is repulsed.
11
Honeywell Files Patent Lawsuit Against Smart Thermostat Developer Nest techcrunch.com
289 points by ryanwaggoner  2 days ago   108 comments top 20
1
_delirium 2 days ago 2 replies      
For reference, here are the seven patents in question.

7,634,504 - Natural Language Installer Set Up for Controller (http://www.google.com/patents/US7634504) - The claims really are as broad as the title implies, claiming to cover any system that presents the user questions in natural language, allows the user to select among multiple choices, and then modifies the HVAC settings based on their response.

7,142,948 - Controller Interface with Dynamic Schedule Display (http://www.google.com/patents/US7142948) - Claims to cover any controller that can change temperature from one temperature to a second temperature, while displaying an ETA for reaching the second temperature.

7,584,899 - HVAC Controller (http://www.google.com/patents/US7584899) - Claims the idea of having a movable housing over a display that, when rotated, changes an HVAC-system parameter that is reflected on that display.

7,159,789 - Thermostat with Mechanical User Interface (http://www.google.com/patents/US7159789) - A rotatable selector with several selectable positions, and a potentiometer. For an HVAC system.

7,159,790 - Thermostat with Offset Drive (http://www.google.com/patents/US7159790) - Some more rotatable-selector inventions, involving linking mechanical position and electrical signals.

7,476,988 - Power Stealing Control Devices (http://www.google.com/patents/US7476988) - Something to do with switching between primary and secondary power sources. My EE is too rusty to figure out exactly what this one is claiming without spending more time than I'd like on it.

6,975,958 - Profile Based Method for Deriving a Temperature Setpoint Using a 'Delta' Based On Cross-Indexing a Received Price-Point Level Signal (http://www.google.com/patents/US6975958) - Claim 1 is even broader than the title, claiming to have invented and patented the idea of adjusting an HVAC system's setpoints based on communicating with a remote host.

They strongly have the flavor of taking some standard control method (rotating knobs attached to potentiometers, 1950s-style feedback control & rate prediction), tacking on "for an HVAC system", and deeming the result, which applies standard control techniques in the obvious way to the domain, an "invention".

2
zach 2 days ago 0 replies      
This is a sign that Nest has found a great market. I don't mean smart thermostats, but in accessible premium home technology (as you can tell, their name is more general than thermostats).

There are many areas of technology in the home that are controlled by very old companies that are in markets that are very slow to innovate. The real proof of this is in these patents (q.v.), which detail seemingly near-archaic technology. Seriously, this is their state of the art? These are exactly the kind of competitors you want to have.

That is a byproduct of the fact that brands and design for home technology last a long, long time. Recently, I replaced my gas water heater valve and discovered that it's a part that's been around since the 1950's in its current design. Proven technology sticks around. Similarly, Honeywell has been in thermostats since forever.

Finally, the margins in this business can be pretty impressive. There are home appliances and technology products whose premium versions cost twice as much as the regular version even though they're not much different. Some people are just willing to spend a good bit more for the absolute best. Very much an Apple market strategy (i.e. high-capacity iPods).

I hope to see Nest introduce more devices like their learning thermostat soon, as well as a new way for them to communicate and be controlled which can hopefully improve on and replace the ancient X10 automation standard. Nest is in a great position right now.

3
glimcat 2 days ago 4 replies      
Congratulations, Nest!

You're officially successful enough to be sued by entrenched non-innovators who took out overly broad patents so that they would be able to milk anyone who successfully built and marketed a product.

Honeywell makes damn near every wall thermostat I've ever seen, so it's not like they haven't had time to think about this application area.

4
Alexx 2 days ago 5 replies      
Nest is an interesting piece of hardware.

They have over 100 people, and if rumours are true have quite significant backing. Which is particularly interesting as it's hard to see on the surface where their margins come from on a device most could consider as novel and expensive.

Though there are potentially gains to be had from a smarter thermostat, the headline figures in their white papers will most likely never be realised in the real world. Most reviews and bloggers seem to get caught up in focusing on the simple heating and cooling experience.

The company on makes sense once you look at it in the context of the larger market. The silent but important features are zigbee integration (current unused), and excessive processing power. We are just on the cusp of huge smart-grid rollouts in many western countries. British gas in the UK has decided on the zigbee standard and are starting to roll out over 1000 new meters a day; with government backing for an £11bn rollout to 27 million households by 2019.

In light of these rollouts, the energy companies will be looking to capitalize on their investment (which will be mostly funded by the consumer, via higher bills). The hardest part is figuring out what the consumer face of the smart grid should look like. Expensive 'home hubs' and touch screens are a red herring - the future is distributed (every household members phone etc), yet you still need a link between the rather 'dumb but integrated' meters, and devices in the house.

In my opinion nest's game plan is to become that link. Your thermostat controls around 50% of the energy usage in your house. Eventually it has the potential to control 100%. With smart GPS integration into your phones it becomes realistic to have houses that react silently to it's various inhabitants patterns and blend those needs with the energy grids demand levels; now this is a valuable proposition. If you're an energy company absorbing several billion because of government pressure, suddenly the hardware cost of a nest doesn't seem so bad, especially if it can be offset or laid off over time.

edit; footnote - All figures are rough (off the top of my head)

5
meow 2 days ago 0 replies      
I'm betting that any start-up company that comes out with a truly usable home robot in US will go out of business within its first year of operation. If a tiny thermostat can infringe on 7 patents, imagine how many patents will 'infringed' upon by a fully functional robot. If the same environment that we have now existed in 1970's I doubt if apple-2 would have been released.
6
LVB 2 days ago 1 reply      
I'm not ready to cry for poor Nest just yet. The company has substantial funding, experienced backers/advisors, and is clearly aware of the patent environment they operate in. Heck, their About page touts how the founder Tony Fadell has authored more than 100 patents. They knew they were entering a well-covered market. If their patent work left them confident that there were OK, then the courts will see if they're right. If they chose to take a chance... this is what can happen.

Like another commenter mentioned, these are the rules of the game in the US. Complain about them and try to get them changed... I'm all for that because I think the rules are hurting innovation. But Nest is no victim here, and Honeywell isn't the devil. I'm more sympathetic to the garage shops that get hammered by big companies, but Nest is far from a garage shop. They knew what they were getting into.

7
bborud 2 days ago 0 replies      
A couple of days ago I talked to a very gifted friend of mine who is spending his days finishing up a truckload of patent applications for his current company. Something I find very sad because I think patents are inherently bad and I wish he would spend his time doing more worthwhile things.

However, in the space they operate they need patents to ward off other companies with large patent portfolios. In fact, he likened what they do to creating mine-fields. To make it really, really dangerous for other companies to even try to compete with you. And to make sure that no challengers will get uppity with you.

In any case, what stuck with me was what he said about his next startup; in his next startup he would spend most of the money on patent lawyers. Because inventing, developing and bringing an invention to market is just too risky these days. The money is better spent on rigging whatever IPR you have with patents to "increase the number of possible exit strategies".

This makes me really sad.

8
kstrauser 2 days ago 4 replies      
I just sent this through Honeywell's contact page and
I mean every word of it:

I'm in the market for a programmable thermostat for my house. I had been considering several units, including yours and one from Nest Labs.

Apparently you've decided that it's more important to batter competitors with the legal system than actually, you know, put your supposed patents to use building a thermostat that your potential customers actually want to buy. You seem to be under the impression that suing other companies over patents on obvious ideas will make your own products look more attractive.

It's clear that you're out of touch with your market. I don't know what unit I'm going to buy for my house, but I can promise you that it won't be a Honeywell thermostat.

9
lr 2 days ago 3 replies      
I know we all want patents to die, but until then, perhaps a more palatable way to deal with the problem...

How about: If a patent is not implemented in a marketed product within two years (for a mechanical product) and 4 (or 5 years for a chemical product), the patent is void. In other words, no more patenting things and then sitting on them and suing others. Also, only certain entities would be able to patent something and then license it out (like the government, universities, legitimate research outfits, etc.).

Just thinking off the top of my head here.

10
msutherl 2 days ago 0 replies      
You can let this comment float to the bottom, but I just want to say that this makes me want to cry. When this product came out, it gave me so much hope for a few ideas that I've been working on related to tuning HVAC and lighting with better interfaces and control systems. Now I'm incredibly discouraged.

Thanks US patent system.

11
djtriptych 2 days ago 1 reply      
This is the sort of patent suit that I find revolting, and I suspect I'm not alone on HN in feeling that way.

But does anyone else see a continuum between this and the dustup over the 5-word already-derivative "stay focused & keep shipping" poster last week?

Should we be upset about this and not that?

12
URSpider94 2 days ago 0 replies      
The Nest is the thermostat that Honeywell should have made. I hope that the two parties can come to an agreement that allows the Nest to stay on the market and the Nest team to continue innovating.
13
tsumnia 2 days ago 0 replies      
As someone in the startup HVAC Optimization industry, it really pains me to see this. To be fair, Nest scares the crap out of me as the proverbial Goliath to our David, luckily we're not in the same markets (for now). If Honeywell is throwing these types of accusations at them, what chance does my company have?

I understand that tech patents are just a part of the business, but coming from the little guy here, how do I not get slapped with a lawsuit for having an idea?

14
madao 2 days ago 0 replies      
They look pretty smart to me

http://yourhome.honeywell.com/Home/Products/Thermostats/Summ...

seriously every time someone sues someone else about a patent the whole world screams bloody murder.

sure Honeywell's devices does not look like they come out of an apple lab but I think they have a right to protect their IP.

15
duzour 2 days ago 1 reply      
This is likely extremely naive: But would requiring a patent-filer to demonstrate a working implementation help mitigate this sort of thing? From what I can tell, Honeywell at least had the foresight to know where the tech was heading, but seemingly exerted no actual effort in getting there. Maybe I'm wrong about that - but this pattern seems to be true for patent trolls, at least.

If that's the case, they're basically building an artificial moat. So what now? Does Honeywell sue Nest out of existence? Require Nest license their patent? What are some likely goals and motives? What happens now?

There's a big difference between saying we WANT to go the moon, versus we WENT to the moon, or even we CAN go to the moon.

16
narrator 2 days ago 0 replies      
Patents should be about encouraging inventors to reveal their inventions and methods that would otherwise remain secret and granting them the 20 years monopoly for that. It's not a license to choose any idea that is obvious to one skilled in the art after a purely superficial observation of the device in action.
17
malandrew 2 days ago 2 replies      
I'm not a fan of patents at all, but at the very least we should make having a product in the market as an absolute minimum for defending it. No product in market === no patent for you.
18
brianobush 2 days ago 1 reply      
If you can't innovate, sue. Sad to think that this line of reasoning will persist.
19
designium 2 days ago 1 reply      
If I were Honeywell...

1. I sue Nest, freak them out.
2. I offer to buy them out on the cheap.
3. Nest sells themselves "gracefully".
4. Techcrunch: "Honeywell acquires Nest for $1 million!"
5. Honeywell says: "Nest acquisition will enhance our shareholders value."
6. Honeywell sells a little bit of Nest product.
7. End game: Honeywell decides that there's not enough demand for Nest product. Nest team is fired. Product dies.

20
hyperbovine 2 days ago 0 replies      
Ahh, the Streisand effect.

Show me where to buy one of these!

12
Suffering-oriented programming nathanmarz.com
291 points by jkkramer  2 days ago   59 comments top 16
1
mekoka 2 days ago 2 replies      
It's a mistake to try to anticipate use cases you don't actually have or else you'll end up overengineering your solution.

I wish more people would think like this before sabotaging their perfectly good APIs with noise. I'm a huge fan of the Pareto principle in that regard. First and foremost, expose the 20% that allows me to be 80% effective. The rest can be figured out as we go, but at least, what you'll teach me today, I'll learn fast and will know well.

2
3pt14159 2 days ago 2 replies      
"With Storm, I distilled the realtime computation problem domain into a small set of abstractions: streams, spouts, bolts, and topologies. I devised a new algorithm for guaranteeing data processing that eliminated the need for intermediate message brokers, the part of our system that caused the most complexity and suffering."

As someone who has gone through the storm source in very fine detail, let me tell you how he did this. He hashed each tuple that needed to be processed then XOR'd it into a variable that started at a value of zero.

When the piece that needed to be processed was complete it would get XOR'd back into the variable. Once the variable hit 0 he knew everything was done! Pretty neat if you ask me.

3
shadowfiend 2 days ago 2 replies      
This is really an extension of the advice to make sure you build a product that scratches an itch you have. Extend it to developing frameworks, and you have “suffering-oriented programming”.

Of course, the real problem is that there are certain spaces that wouldn't really be serviced if that's all we did. Education is an excellent example: the people who really feel the pains of education, students, won't really start having the ability to help solve those pains until they're further along in their education, at which point the earlier pains don't necessarily apply as well. In a similar vein, learning to program is a problem that's been on the map for a long time, and, while the situation is constantly improving, we're dealing with the problem of, by the time we've got the skills to really help solve it, we've already learned to program, and have lost some amount of sight of how learning could be improved, because we're no longer in the proverbial trenches.

So while “scratch a personal itch” is awesome advice, and almost certainly helps in product development and framework development, sometimes it isn't enough. Sometimes just following your curiosity or intuition and exploring a space that doesn't produce regular hurt for you can lead to an equally good result. At that point, what you need to make sure you have is external feedback from the people whose itch you're trying to scratch. Maybe the chances of failure are greater in these cases, but the opportunities for success are also probably greater.

4
jacques_chester 2 days ago 2 replies      
"First make it possible. Then make it beautiful. Then make it fast."

This mantra closely resembles the rule attributed to Kent Beck that one should "Make it work. Make it right. Make it fast".

5
duggan 2 days ago 0 replies      
A few other commenters have suggested that they don't get a chance to get past "First, make it possible." to making things beautiful, then fast. The person writing the checks doesn't care if the implementation is horrible, as long as it works, etc.

Thing is, both points of view are correct, in different ways.

The kind of long development cycle Nathan alludes to here is not something a lot of people can do, but is one of the risks you can take / benefits you gain if you're your own boss. I wonder if it's more common in larger companies, who can afford to polish some projects before putting them into production? With a startup, it's more likely that there's one or two projects, and both are P1-CRITICAL.

For people wanting to explain it to a boss, I think it's best put in terms of technical debt[1]. This project will be expensive, but by spending more time/resources up front, there is a much lower cost to adding features or fixing bugs in the future; this includes getting new coders up to speed on the codebase, turnaround of critical features, etc. The cost is initial time to market - it will be longer before you see version 1 going out to people who can use it.

Taking on technical debt is a perfectly valid business decision under the right circumstances. If time-to-market is critical and you're planning on having enough money when it's successful to pay off that debt in the future, then maybe you want to throw out making it beautiful / performant just to get something in front of people.

Planned technical debt is a business decision. It's the folks who buy up front and ignore their debt that end up with problems, but that much is something we're all familiar with. One way or the other, that debt is paid eventually, whether with cash or time.

Even if you're in the unfortunate position of turning out software that sucks for people who don't care though, there's light at the end of the tunnel! The best thing about programming is that the more you do it the better you get at it. The faster you get at it. This means you can build refactoring into your projects and estimations without making a big hoo-hah (as it were) about it.

Open source projects are another outlet people have to scratch their perfectionist itch; if you start a project, you decide the timelines, features, level of polish, etc.

[1] http://www.codinghorror.com/blog/2009/02/paying-down-your-te...

6
csl_ 2 days ago 3 replies      
The biggest problem I have with this approach (and believe me, I love this approach), is that it makes it hard to finish things.

For example, over Christmas, I built a small pretend-natural-language CLI controller for iTunes. I made a working version in something like four hours, spent a few days adding in crazy half-thought-out features like speech recognition and a web interface - and then I basically stopped development.

I didn't stop development because it got boring - I stopped development because I'd solved my own problem. Not beautifully (certainly not from a coding perspective), not efficiently, but the problem I had was solved.

The problem, then, is that once the "suffering" is gone, or sufficiently lessened, there is no real reason to keep building.

(oddly, my password for my old account no longer seems to work. I was hebejebelus)

7
ctdonath 2 days ago 1 reply      
"First make it possible. Then make it beautiful. Then make it fast."

Alas, the guy writing the checks all too often doesn't see past step 1.

8
reinhardt 2 days ago 1 reply      
Well written, I especially loved the definition: Suffering-oriented programming can be summarized like so: don't build technology unless you feel the pain of not having it.

Having said that, it would be cool to hear from a "devil's advocate". I am particularly thinking of cases where "making it possible" gives an 80% solution but a fundamental flaw or limitation makes the remaining 20% prohibitive, basically requiring a complete rewrite to move forward. Is this a problem in practice or are 80% solutions usually "good enough"?

9
tim_h 2 days ago 2 replies      
This resonates:

> The most important characteristic of a suffering-oriented programmer is a relentless focus on refactoring. This is critical to prevent accidental complexity from sabotaging the codebase.

I can't tell you how many times I've seen accidental complexity creep in because someone adds a new feature without taking the time to refactor to the simplest set of abstractions. But - and here's the flaw in the approach - you have to be an expert in the code to produce such a set of abstractions, which is a potential bottleneck when your codebase is big enough to require multiple developers. Not everyone has the time/capability to be an expert.

10
bwarp 2 days ago 4 replies      
The art of thinking about a problem appears to be lost. What happened to getting it fast, beautiful and possible first time by thinking about it?

I come from an engineering background and "right" is the only way to do it.

11
BadassFractal 2 days ago 0 replies      
Great read, I have a question:

I would very much love to find out what kind of techniques you folks used to ensure some degree of quality (or sanity) in the "make it possible" phase.

I'm basically wondering if you used anything like CI / TDD / Code coverage or any other quality ensuring techniques at such an early stage. One might argue that it's counter-productive, since you're going to likely rip-out most of that code anyway during the "make it pretty" phase. Others will state that keeping high code quality throughout even prototyping will make you waste a lot less time on debugging and therefore make you overall on the long run.

To me it feels like it'd have to be a very delicate balancing act.

12
jt2190 2 days ago 2 replies      
Suffering-oriented programming rejects that you can effectively anticipate needs you don't currently have.

I do anticipate, however, I never do it in code. Rather, I find that just thinking through some scenarios helps me to see where the code might start evolving, and to make sure that that part of the code is isolated enough to change without having to change everything else, if the time ever comes.

(Perhaps Nathan includes this in his "make it beautiful" phase, but I felt it deserved to be made explicit. I've too often heard YAGNI used as an excuse to not even think about a problem, let alone code for it.)

13
fatalerrorx3 2 days ago 0 replies      
Awesome. I have this exact same methodology...Now can you write an article about how to explain how this works to Business people/non-tech people, who have no experience in "iterative program development" or why the programming process MUST be iterative?

Everytime I mention code refactoring to a non-tech person the response is similar to "Why would you program the same thing again?" And your article is the exact reason why. You can't know everything you need to know in the beginning of developing some brand new technology. If that was the case, then every startup would be successful.

14
pejapeja 2 days ago 0 replies      
So in agile terms, besides splitting down the work by user stories it can also be split down by function (make it work), design (make it beautiful) and last performance (make it fast). Quite a natural approach to prioritize that order depending on what stage the project is, early, mid or late. It requires a continuous refactoring but in the business man's point of view it's rework. But the end result will probably look more like a second generation product rather than a first gen with mediocre function, design and performance.
15
Kmanicka 2 days ago 0 replies      
LOL. The title really attracted the attention
16
ilaksh 2 days ago 0 replies      
Storm sounds awesome. Can you make something exactly like it but built on Node.js (CoffeeScript if possible but not important) instead of Java?
13
1k Rose - How a 3D Rose was made in under 1K of javascript romancortes.com
281 points by cleverjake  3 days ago   38 comments top 10
1
willyt 3 days ago 2 replies      
Meta comment: This is a perfect hacker news submission. I started reading hacker news because of articles like this.
2
zobzu 3 days ago 4 replies      
This is scary. js1K is what 256bytes was in "my" days.
Thats right, 256 bytes of asm to get a nice demo.

And guess what. The 256 bytes demos are nicer and more complete than the js1k! They've sound, better 3d effects, etc.. plus they actually run those nicer demos on much, much older hardware without lagging (js demos use quite a bit of cpu even on modern hardware)

Four times as much space, not nearly as good. Show how much went into "language abstraction". Scary!

Reference: http://www.256bytes.net/

3
rplnt 3 days ago 0 replies      
I remember this site because of another 1k js competition, result of which was a Christmas Tree -- http://www.romancortes.com/blog/how-i-did-the-1kb-christmas-...
4
kragen 2 days ago 0 replies      
That's pretty nice. I wonder if you could squeeze my <canvas> font rendering engine under 1K? The base64-encoded PNG font is 635 bytes, but you could probably use the 4-6 font by Janne Kujala to cut that down to ≈512 bytes.

http://canonical.org/~kragen/sw/dofonts.html

Edit: yes; a 1023-byte version, specialized for the 4-6 font, is now linked to from that page. The 1023 bytes includes the entire HTML file, including both the font and the code to render it.

5
nhebb 3 days ago 4 replies      
1k is impressive as a coding feat, but I'm not sure of the practical application of this - i.e., I'm less impressed with 1k of code when my CPU meter gets into the red zone - and stays there.

My tinfoil-hat conspiracy theory is that the Canvas element was spec'ed into HTML5 by CPU fan manufacturers.

6
hartror 3 days ago 2 replies      
This a great piece of code but the author does one thing that has gets my goat.

A lot of these cutting edge HTML5/WebGL demos are put on a separate page from the thing explaining it. One of the reasons we have this technology is so we can put this stuff right there on the the page, seamlessly available to the user.

Sometimes it makes sense for performance or aesthetic reasons to have it separate, but certainly in many cases including this one it doesn't.

Keep a separate demo page sure, so people can link directly to your demo. But have it right there in your blog post as well, personally I think it adds to the wow factor!

7
lnanek 3 days ago 0 replies      
Beautiful. Lots of interesting techniques detailed too that could be useful. I'm a big complainer, but even I'm having trouble complaining about it not being practical. Nice.
8
RvbNews 3 days ago 0 replies      
Now I know why I should have taken math in school :)
This is very impressive. This is sooo far removed from my daily job as "business application" developer, which makes it the more interesting. Thanks for posting.
9
dpakrk 3 days ago 0 replies      
awesome piece of hacking! great job
10
visegrip 3 days ago 0 replies      
I'm giving a dozen of 3d flower to my sweetheart on Vday.
15
Advanced Data Structures MIT mit.edu
264 points by vj44  18 hours ago   30 comments top 14
1
zvrba 8 hours ago 2 replies      
Too bad that you can't easily judge upfront which of those data structures and algorithms are really usable in practice. For example, fusion trees may seem like a cool idea, but they're totally impractical, as also admitted by the authors (Fredman and Willard) in their original paper.
2
gammarator 17 hours ago 1 reply      
Impressive: the video syncs with the lecture notes: http://courses.csail.mit.edu/6.851/spring12/lectures/L01.htm...
3
jacobolus 17 hours ago 0 replies      
4
miggaiowski 14 hours ago 1 reply      
This is awesome. I've asked professors at my university to have this class, but didn't happen. Couldn't be better to have Erik Demaine teaching it. The video has a great quality and the synced lecture notes are indeed impressive.
5
dhruvbird 12 hours ago 1 reply      
VIDEO LECTURESSSSS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! http://courses.csail.mit.edu/6.851/spring12/lectures/L01.htm...
6
karamazov 18 hours ago 1 reply      
This looks like it's going to be a great course, Prof. Demaine is an excellent lecturer.
7
perfunctory 17 hours ago 2 replies      
This is great! Only one video seems to be available at the moment. Are other videos going to be released at some point?
8
JOnAgain 18 hours ago 1 reply      
What's the message here? Is this course going to be online? or is just a CS course page from MIT?
9
mprat 12 hours ago 1 reply      
This isn't an online class at MIT - it is just a course webpage for a class that is offered at MIT this term.
10
ricksta 13 hours ago 1 reply      
are there any other classes like these with video made recently?
11
javadyan 14 hours ago 1 reply      
So, can "outsiders" like myself submit solved problemsets for grading?
12
nsomething 13 hours ago 2 replies      
Must be typeset in LaTeX? That seems ridiculous.
13
Varun06 18 hours ago 0 replies      
Time to refresh data structure and learn some new things...I can see that they have a link for video there...
14
willhunting 17 hours ago 0 replies      
Hope they keep it up to date, looks great!
16
Show HN: Favicon alert bubbles github.com
264 points by tommoor  2 days ago   63 comments top 17
1
tommoor 2 days ago 5 replies      
Tinycon is a javascript library that allows easy manipulation of the favicon to include nice looking alert bubbles. This means that users can pin your site and still see when their attention is needed!

It's been done before, but in my opinion not in a way aesthetically pleasing enough for production use. This library also falls back to the standard number in page title approach for browsers that do no support canvas / dynamic favicons.

Thoughts welcome.

2
josscrowcroft 2 days ago 1 reply      
Excellent stuff. I find the best javascript micro libs are built with one specific purpose in mind, like at work or on a startup, then extracted out and open-sourced :)

I'd suggest adding a config option for how to handle certain digits or multiples - personally I would prefer to have 1..20 and then 20+, 30+, etc. because they're easier to grok at a glance. I guess that could be wrapped into it pretty easily for any given use case though.

3
joshmanders 2 days ago 2 replies      
I see in the demo it stops at 99, does it not handle 3 digits very well? If it doesn't would it be good to make it do say 99+ like Gmail does?
4
verelo 2 days ago 1 reply      
Just a bit of feedback about the landing page, there is a css issue i think.

http://i.imgur.com/yVXLg.png

5
paramaggarwal 2 days ago 0 replies      
This is what makes checking Hacker News worthwhile every morning. Small things that make developer's lives easy.

Motivates me to stop being intimidated by the difficulty of implementation, and concentrate on the power of the idea.

6
drivebyacct2 2 days ago 0 replies      
This was the next item on my list to hack on this week. This is awesome, I'd love to see more apps use these, I love pinned tabs in Chrome but I lose info.
7
simcop2387 2 days ago 2 replies      
Anyone else seeing this not work in firefox? In the javascript console i see several "Tinycon not defined" problems on firefox 10.
8
malandrew 1 day ago 1 reply      
The only thing I hate about these kings of notifications is that they pollute the names of my pinboard bookmarks if I don't manually edit them.
9
pedalpete 2 days ago 0 replies      
This is awesome. I was hoping to get something like this for 'save to home screen'. Any idea if this will work with a large favicon running on a mobile device?
10
twodayslate 2 days ago 0 replies      
This should be turned into a chrome plugin. Similar to http://www.howtogeek.com/92562/add-an-easy-to-view-notificat...
11
paintAcquaint 2 days ago 1 reply      
This is very cool. Great job! I wonder how cpu intensive it'd be to generate a simple bounce animation.
12
ericbogs 2 days ago 0 replies      
I would argue that the favicon styling used in this Gmail Unread Message Count userscript is a bit nicer looking? http://userscripts.org/scripts/show/39432
13
ScottMFisher 2 days ago 2 replies      
Brilliant! One problem I've found is that it can't handle icons larger than 16x16 (it crops them).
14
wilhelm 2 days ago 2 replies      
This is cool, but why does it only work in some browsers?
15
rehashed 2 days ago 1 reply      
16
masonhensley 2 days ago 0 replies      
Cool, great job using a timer in the demo to show how it can behave dynamically.
17
sambenson 2 days ago 1 reply      
What license is this being released under?
17
Vim University - Screencasts and Articles for Serious Vim Students vimuniversity.com
262 points by mcobrien  1 day ago   34 comments top 11
1
r00k 1 day ago 1 reply      
Hey all.

I'm the author of the site and totally agree that RSS is desperately needed. It's next on my list.

2
mcobrien 1 day ago 2 replies      
If you're hungry for more, http://vimcasts.org/ is awesome, but sadly hasn't been updated in a while.
3
readme 1 day ago 1 reply      
Would just like to mention these: http://vimeo.com/6999927

These videos cover most of the basics and show the true power of vim. They would be a great warm-up course before taking on OP's videos.

4
stewbrew 1 day ago 2 replies      
Do people here have suggestions about how to best make vim screencasts? What would be the best way to capture key presses and their results in vim? Any recommendations? Since it's basically about text and key presses, I'd assume that one would choose slightly different tools than for more graphically oriented UIs.
5
nuttendorfer 1 day ago 1 reply      
The site offers a newsletter and Twitter, I'd much rather have a feed to subscribe to.
Is it hidden/is anybody working on, for example, a Yahoo Pipe?
6
etrautmann 22 hours ago 2 replies      
r00k, thanks and keep them coming. The tagline at the top "Detailed Vim content...." seems to target the site at more experienced users, whereas most of your content (so far) is focused on the first-week vim user.
7
nsomaru 1 day ago 1 reply      
i see the URL for the posts contains "sample". Is the author intending on charging for content?
8
scrrr 1 day ago 2 replies      
I think in this special case, it's much faster to google and read instead of watching a relatively long video.

For example searching how to save a Vim-macro yields this very useful result: http://vim.wikia.com/wiki/Macros

9
desireco42 18 hours ago 1 reply      
r00k as someone who really like vim and use it daily, I have to say I have fairly negative impression of your effort here.
I wish you well as fellow vim user.
10
ebrink 21 hours ago 1 reply      
This is amazing, thank you very much. I look forward to beingg done with nano and notepad++!
11
cdi 1 day ago 2 replies      
This obsession with text editing efficiency is getting out of hand.
18
Romanian Prime Minister Admits He Has No Idea Why Romania Signed ACTA techdirt.com
259 points by sirwitti  2 days ago   62 comments top 11
1
JanezStupar 2 days ago 4 replies      
I am really glad that eastern European people are so vigilant about censorship and government control.

It should still be known, that a lot of bad stuff has crept into EU law. But people are starting to gain awareness on these issues. And East EU people have no enthusiasm about reliving the Iron Curtain days.

2
ck2 2 days ago 1 reply      
Funny how all the regrets are AFTERWARDS.

Much easier to beg forgiveness than ask permission.

"Oh well our bad, we'll just have to be plagued by these pesky rights-stripping laws."

3
Nate75Sanders 2 days ago 1 reply      
This is so absurd that it sounds like a headline from The Onion. Truth is stranger than fiction, I guess.
4
savramescu 2 days ago 2 replies      
I'm not surprised at all at Boc. I'm glad he resigned, but I don't think there will be a big improvement any time soon.
For the rest of HN: there were mass demonstrations lately requesting his resignation; even the President asked him and he kept refusing. In the end it looks like he left.
5
rsanchez1 1 day ago 0 replies      
It happens when a treaty is drafted in secret and the leading countries behind it don't have open debate on it before signing it.
6
mtarnovan 2 days ago 2 replies      
Is the article really suggesting that there might be a connection between ACTA and Boc's resignation ? Because that would be hilarious. (He resigned for an entirely different reason)
7
bad_user 1 day ago 0 replies      
Just a note: the resignation of the prime-minister had nothing to do with ACTA.
8
rprime 2 days ago 1 reply      
Romania (its administration) has proved many times that it cannot think by itself, it just fallows others, with the mentality if others say so who are we to say otherwise.

PS: I am romanian.

9
hexagon 2 days ago 0 replies      
Romania has lobbyists, and i'm sure that RIAA or some Motion Picture association paid for someone's car or vacation or something. Of course, they didn't have to work as hard as in the US for SOPA, because as it was said before, our politicians are little copying puppets.
10
mariusmg 2 days ago 0 replies      
He signed because he was a puppet.
11
hurrycane 2 days ago 0 replies      
The Prime Minister actually quit yesterday so it's the "former" Prime Minister.
19
What Happens When You Swear At Your Users fetchnotes.com
254 points by alexschiff  3 days ago   91 comments top 30
1
patio11 2 days ago 0 replies      
You shouldn't say radioactively stupid things to your customers, but you should get their permission to talk to them and then proceed to do so, because that will predictably raise engagement, retention, and many other things you might be interested in tracking. Look at the graph. Look at the "I had totally forgotten about you until you sweared at me, now I might actually use the service" testimony. These things can be yours without swearing.

I've been worried for the last five years that I don't send enough email. After having worked closely with some clients who have figured things out, this strikes me as less "a missed opportunity" and more "an oversight as glaring as being unable to spell SEO." They get tremendous value out of connecting with their customers on a semi-regular basis, and (this part truly blows my email-hating-spam-squashing mind) so do their customers.

2
bradleyland 2 days ago 1 reply      
This probably goes without saying, but your user demographic has a lot to do with how this kind of mishap will be received. Our product sells to Fortune 1000 companies in the procurement software space. I can tell you, unequivocally, that the users of our product have a distinct lack of tolerance with regard to "lack of attention to detail".

We've had a debug message or two slip through to production, and the conversation that follows is never comfortable. The inevitable conclusion they reach is that if we miss one small thing, we're likely to miss another. Sometimes you really do have to sweat the small stuff.

3
MicahWedemeyer 2 days ago  replies      
I've learned over the years to never put profanity or anything even mildly offensive in test data. Too many times have I had to give an impromptu presentation off my test database, only to see user names like "Asshat Joe" and "Jack Off" show up big and bold on the projector screen.

Always, always use plain, non-offensive vanilla boilerplate text in everything you do.

4
SoftwareMaven 2 days ago 3 replies      
I really hope every brand doesn't decide to start swearing at me. Personally, after having a product that was supposed to be "the next step" in our company's evolution get blasted in the press because a developer left a smartass comment in (Google "you have to install directx dumbass"), my policy is NO profanity, period, in any string, any test message, anything.

If you are trying to build a brand around it, great. Make a conscious decision and go with it. But doing it to be funny, "just amongst the team", has a nasty way of biting you.

5
andywood 2 days ago 0 replies      
This really would have been more responsibly titled "What Happened When We Swore At Our Users That One Time".
6
rickmb 2 days ago 1 reply      
> we're definitely going to try to take a more “real” tone rather than the false formality that pervades most company communications

This makes me wonder if by now there is an entire generation of tech entrepreneurs that has never read the Cluetrain Manifesto: http://www.cluetrain.com/

7
mindcrime 2 days ago 0 replies      
We won't be throwing around profanity in our emails, but we're definitely going to try to take a more “real” tone rather than the false formality that pervades most company communications.

This, to me, is the key takeaway from all this. That "false formality" is a killer, IMO. I personally try very hard to avoid it when writing Fogbeam Labs stuff, like our blog[1], but it's SOOO easy to slip into that mode. Keeping that out and maintaining a "real" conversational tone is tough, but I believe it's better in the long run. (No, I haven't A/B tested this or anything, it's just a hunch).

[1]: http://fogbeam.blogspot.com/

8
krmmalik 2 days ago 2 replies      
Personally, i really don't like to see profanity in a professional context, but having said that...i really like the way these guys handled it, and not only that, their honesty and transparency really endears me towards them.

Edit: Interestingly enough, come from Britain, i think something like this would fair worse of in the UK. I think we're a little more 'stiff' than our US counterparts.

9
gergles 2 days ago 0 replies      
Even not using profanity but just failing to have someone else review all your translation strings can cause a serious problem:

http://homepage.mac.com/bradster/iarchitect/images/acidiot.g...

10
roel_v 2 days ago 0 replies      
The problem (well it's not even really a problem I guess) is that nowadays you're not sure any more if this was an 'accidental' slip up, or a bold marketing tactic. They surely are getting a lot more exposure with the 'slip up', and if it had backfired, well who cares really - in 2 months time nobody will remember.

Maybe I've been on the internet for too long and have become too skeptical.

11
GnomeChomsky 2 days ago 0 replies      
Sorry this is slightly off-topic, but I'm curious about the product here. Why should I use it? What problem is it solving for me?

Halfway down the homepage it says, "Don't Change: Use Fetchnotes with Google Apps, Evernote, Outlook and all the other services you already love." Which was a great reminder that I already have a ton of other services trying to get me to keep notes in them... what's different about Fetchnotes and why isn't this plastered all over the homepage?

/unsolicited feedback

12
DanBC 2 days ago 0 replies      
Today you accidentally send out a test email (with the word bitches).

That makes me worried that tomorrow you'll accidentally send out another email leaking my details, or something similar.

I'm glad you didn't suffer too much for this small error, but the small errors can have big consequences.

13
wiradikusuma 2 days ago 0 replies      
I was working on some XML stuff and put superhero names in the test XML file. A week or so, some QA guy asked for sample XML and I gave it to him. Before I knew it, my test file was circulated in QA and Business Analysts for testing.

I guess they didn't read what's inside or didn't bother.

Then our client came and the BAs gave demo to them, using my XML file (I didn't know if they're going to use that!). The client were very upset with it.

14
verelo 2 days ago 0 replies      
I know the feeling!

I was once part of a team who accidentally sent a communication where we updated our privacy policy, stating specifically that we would never share your email address with anyone.

Sounds normal right? The catch is, we sent it to 1000 people per batch, and rather than bcc'ing everyone, we used the "to" field. Whoops? Luckily we caught the issue after the first batch, i have no idea to this day how it slipped through QA however.

Similar result however, people didn't like it but many just wanted to point it out to us (and we did our best at saying sorry) I totally got where they were coming from, however we're human and life went back to normal eventually. Lesson learned!

15
adavies42 2 days ago 0 replies      
can i just say your combination of background and link color is incredibly annoying?
16
ggwicz 2 days ago 0 replies      
I like swearing in copy because I don't want to take money from somebody stupid enough to be offended by "bad words". It's a great filter.
17
goblin89 1 day ago 0 replies      
I think it should be ‘What happens when you accidentally swear at your users and properly apologize afterwards.' It's only the latter that softens and makes swearing look fun"IMO even for (most) young techy people.
18
stefs 2 days ago 1 reply      
they've been lucky. it might work once for a small, "personal" startup or a company that centers its marketing strategy on being political incorrect. but it also could have gone terribly wrong.
19
harryf 2 days ago 1 reply      
As they say - the only bad press is no press at all.
20
runjake 2 days ago 0 replies      
Demographics are everything. To this old dinosaur, I'd question your maturity and whether I'd want to be a customer in the future -- especially if you have any of my personal data.

Unlike some of the other commenters below, I don't think it's an issue of whether you have a "sense of humor" or not. YMMV.

21
alexschiff 2 days ago 0 replies      
Hi all,

Alex Schiff, co-founder and CEO of Fetchnotes here (and author of this post). The quality of discussion on the things we post to Hacker News never ceases to amaze us! I just wanted to point out that we posted an invite link by which 1000 people can get access to our beta on the blog post itself. You can also get in directly with this link:

www.fetchnotes.com/invite/blogpost

Thanks!

22
petercooper 2 days ago 0 replies      
This would make for an interesting split test. Patrick..?
23
djsla 2 days ago 1 reply      
It is a clever (accidental?) marketing, but will the traffic stick?

Naturally, after reading the post, I went to check what fetchnotes is all about and... could not figure it after 30 seconds of scanning the homepage and left.

Anyone else had that problem?

24
bomatson 2 days ago 0 replies      
Alex - Great job handling this, I received the bitches e-mail and got a good chuckle out of it!

Hope the traffic sticks for your team

25
ndefinite 2 days ago 0 replies      
I just noticed there's nt link to your product or homepage from your blog. I wanted to click to learn about what your product is but there's nothing there.

Not the end of the world for me, I can copy from the address bar but I wonder if you're missing out on conversions.

Cool story though. I got a kick out of the customer responding back "...bitches"

26
AtTheLast 2 days ago 0 replies      
I've always been a fan of connecting to users on a more human and personable level. This might have been an accident, but it made FetchNotes feel more human and have a sense of humor. I think most people really appreciate this, considering the majority of websites are bland and full of generic marketing text.
27
itmag 2 days ago 0 replies      
The bitches who got offended over this are drama queens who should get the sand out of their vaginas and redirect their attention to something worthier than petty trifles and smallminded grudgebearing.
28
5teev 2 days ago 1 reply      
It's minimizing the offense a great deal to call the word "bitches" a "swear" and not misogyny.
29
alexrbarlow 2 days ago 1 reply      
Interesting, I think its a nice reminder that the same old emails are boring to most users
30
cq 2 days ago 0 replies      
Please don't beat yourselves up about this, only men use the internet anyway. Men definitely wouldn't be offended by this misogynist word
20
Apple's great GPL purge ath0.com
234 points by jamesbritt  2 days ago   203 comments top 22
1
i386 2 days ago  replies      
Reposted here since it seems the page linked is no longer visible (at least for me).

------------

Apple's great GPL purge

Posted on 5 February 2012 by meta
Apple obligingly allows you to browse and download the open source software they use in OS X. Since they have listings for each version of OS X, I decided to take a look at how much software they were using that was only available under the GNU public license. The results are illuminating:

10.5: 47 GPL-licensed packages.
10.6: 44 GPL-licensed packages.
10.7: 29 GPL-licensed packages.
This clearly supports the idea that Apple is aggressively trying to remove all GPL-licensed software from OS X. While the removal of Samba and GCC got some attention, the numbers show that there's a more general purging going on.

The 29 remaining GPL-licensed packages aren't too healthy either. Lion apparently ships with bash 3.2. That's from 2006. The current version is 4.2.10. Why no upgrade? Because Apple's shipping the last version of bash that was under the GPL version 2.

The message is pretty obvious: Apple won't ship anything that's licensed under GPL v3 on OS X. Now, why is that?

There are two big changes in GPL v3. The first is that it explicitly prohibits patent lawsuits against people for actually using the GPL-licensed software you ship. The second is that it carefully prevents TiVoization, locking down hardware so that people can't actually run the software they want.

So, which of those things are they planning for OS X, eh?

I'm also intrigued to see how far they are prepared to go with this. They already annoyed and inconvenienced a lot of people with the Samba and GCC removal. Having wooed so many developers to the Mac in the last decade, are they really prepared to throw away all that goodwill by shipping obsolete tools and making it a pain in the ass to upgrade them?

2
X-Istence 2 days ago  replies      
This comes as no surprise at all. At least to those of us who have been looking at the various BSD projects, and how businesses are shunning the GPLv3.

On paper the GPLv3 is awesome, but it adds some major restrictions that make it unappealing to corporations. I did some contract work for a company whose lawyers forbid the use of LGPL'ed libraries in their software even-though it means re-inventing the wheel a couple of times or using inferior libraries. They were deadly afraid that their code would somehow become infected and that they would have to open source they wouldn't allow it. Quite a bit of the code I ended up writing was later released under the BSD license free for use by the world, and one could replicate their product with their own libraries and a couple of weekends. (Company not named because 1, my name isn't attached to it so it won't be easy to find, and 2, I am under NDA still)

Why wouldn't it be in Apple's best interest to use BSD replacements for GPL licensed software if those are available and are comparable. Apple's LLVM/clang compiler for example is available under a BSD license and even-though they hired the project lead the entire project is still open source and being openly developed. There has in the past (I haven't paid attention lately) been code sharing between Apple's Darwin Kernel/Userland back to FreeBSD and vice-versa.

The same movement to remove GPL licensed software is being done in two major BSD based projects, FreeBSD and OpenBSD. Both for very different reasons but with the same end result. I don't necessarily think this is a bad thing, more competition is a good thing.

I am still hoping that FreeBSD picks up the CIFS stuff that Sun released with OpenIndiana because it works much faster/better compared to Samba and I've had WAY less issues with it.

The GPL isn't so much fostering or creating an atmosphere for open source development, it creates traps and makes it harder to use the end product. btrfs will most likely never be available within any OS other than Linux. Isn't that the opposite of what you'd want as an open source developer, isn't the idea to spread your code as far and wide as possible, to have people use it no matter where? ZFS by comparison is available in FreeBSD, it is now available on Linux and Mac OS X. If I release something as open source I want people to use it, modify it, play with it and spread it around as far and wide. Would I like for people to contribute their changes, absolutely, but do I think that forcing them to do so under a license is the best way to go about asking for changes? No.

3
sc68cal 2 days ago 4 replies      
Apple's failure to update GNU software was actively impacting the security of OS X. Charlie Miller made mincemeat of OS X because of the sorry state of security of 3rd party utilities (http://rixstep.com/1/20080422,00.shtml).

As Charlie Miller noted in his '07 BH presentation:
(https://www.blackhat.com/presentations/bh-usa-07/Miller/Pres...)

How to Find a Mac OS X 0-Day:

1) Find some open source package they use that is out of date

2) Read the change log for that software

3) Find a good bug

4) Profit!

"The Samba on Mac OS X (on Monday) had an exploitable remote root vulnerability in it...it hadn't been updated since February 2005!"

If anything, Apple removing GPL software creates a better situation, because fink/macports/homebrew will be available to pick up the slack and provide more timely updates.

Plus, it seems like FreeBSD is trying to get rid of as much
GNU stuff as they can, so that more of what they release is covered under a BSD license (see BSD grep, for example).
It may be that Apple is just picking up some of these changes from FreeBSD and doing a little bit of housekeeping on their end.

4
getsat 2 days ago 2 replies      
Businesses don't like GPLv3 because... it's (arguably) bad for them. BSD licenced software surges. News at 11.
5
forgottenpaswrd 2 days ago 0 replies      
What about Google's great GPL purge? Also called "Android".

Google modified all what was going to interface with the programs, like the libc so they did not have to use GPL.

There is nothing bad on this, people is free to use whatever they want.

As a company, GPL sometimes is too restrictive.

6
dorianj 2 days ago 3 replies      
>I'm also intrigued to see how far they are prepared to go with this. They already annoyed and inconvenienced a lot of people with the Samba and GCC removal. Having wooed so many developers to the Mac in the last decade, are they really prepared to throw away all that goodwill by shipping obsolete tools and making it a pain in the ass to upgrade them?

The answer is: all the way. I don't understand any other conclusion you could draw from this. Other than a few non-essential command line tools (like emacs), Apple will clean the system of anything they can't control.

A lot of code is shared between OS X and iOS, so the 'tivoisation' clause means that they can't use GPLv3 on iOS, so best to avoid it on Mac OS X too.

Homebrew will still be around to install all the command-line goodies you need. No pain in the ass required.

Regardless of Apple's goals in this action, a lot of the OSS world is moving to permissive licenses, so this isn't a terribly surprising move.

7
farmdawgnation 2 days ago 0 replies      
I don't really see any malicious intent here. I've started avoiding the GPLv3 myself just because it makes code that I publish harder for people to take advantage of. What's the point of me writing some code if it's only going to sit on Github, as if it were ment for some sort of museum?

Apache and MIT Licenses are generally my goto these days.

8
rsynnott 2 days ago 1 reply      
He missed this one, which may also be problematic:

> You may not convey a covered work if you are a party to an arrangement with a third party that is in the business of distributing software, under which you make payment to the third party based on the extent of your activity of conveying the work, and under which the third party grants, to any of the parties who would receive the covered work from you, a discriminatory patent license.

This was intended to avoid situations similar to the Microsoft/Novell patent grant agreement, but could have quite broad scope.

9
revertts 2 days ago 1 reply      
This is nothing new. A number of large companies avoid GPLv3 because the potential of losing IP is too high; it's a difficult license to interpret, and the legal implications of some of its clauses haven't been fully defined yet (eg. what all is covered by "convey"?).

So, I wouldn't say that them avoiding it suggests anything sinister like some of the posters are mentioning... they're probably just playing it safe.

10
TheAmazingIdiot 2 days ago 2 replies      
We only have the iPod, iPod touch/iPhone, apple TV, battery covers on newer Apple laptops, and Apple's hardware for their computers to show where they are headed. Some may accuse me of a slippery slope argument; I look at it as a continuation of a linear regression and projection. And where that's going doesn't look peachy.

It is a rather interesting point they do not have any GPL 3 software distributed, and for probably for both the reasons stated. However, the way the whole Mac feel is as it was a curated device (regardless the actual platform). Both Apple and Microsoft seem to want to converge on a "trusted platform"; where the trust is against you.

11
redthrowaway 2 days ago 4 replies      
Apple's PC sales are a rapidly diminishing part of their business, and the share made up by hackers far smaller still. They're perfectly happy to let those devs for whom up-to-date tools and FOSS are important go elsewhere; look at any college classroom and you'll see they have way more new customers to replace them.

This isn't to say they'll actively discourage hackers from using their products, but if it comes down to a product being hack-friendly or adhering to Apple's core principles, hack-friendliness doesn't stand a chance.

12
alwillis 2 days ago 1 reply      
BTW, anyone who wants GCC for Mac OS X can easily do so using the OS X GCC installer: https://github.com/kennethreitz/osx-gcc-installer
13
Hemospectrum 2 days ago 2 replies      
I wasn't aware Bash had also moved to GPLv3. Wonder how long till that gets removed.
14
binarycrusader 1 day ago 0 replies      
They're smart -- several organisations I know of stopped contributing upstream to projects once they went GPLv3. They're now looking for BSD-licensed alternatives and plan to contribute to them instead.

A few game development projects I follow also switched from LGPL licenses to BSD licenses (and saw contributions go up!). (See SDL, Ogre3D, etc.)

It's actually kind of refreshing to see many people going back to the basics.

15
vog 2 days ago 0 replies      
Unfortunately, the article is no longer available. The page shows "Access Forbidden".

Google cache: http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:-r0zoo9...

16
chj 2 days ago 1 reply      
I vote for BSD. If only I can enjoy good food, why should I care about the recipe used? It is the working software that matters, I could not care less for source code.

Open source is important only after the people working on the software decide they will no longer work on it. From that point on, I do hope they open source the whole thing so other people can carry on. However if we impose a GPL-like license on the code, it may discourage people from taking the project full time and doing more interesting stuff. Again, what matters most is the survival of the software.

17
idspispopd 1 day ago 0 replies      
This is a GPLv3 problem, and it's not limited to Apple. v3 is incompatible with many existing business policies.

The trend of dumping GPL will continue in many of the for-profit tech businesses.

18
sudont 2 days ago 0 replies      
This isn't to say that Apple's implementations were that great, though. I know a few IT techs happy to see something other than the buggy install of Samba for CIFS.

Personally, Apple's exclusion of the "nounix" option in mount_smbfs was a HUGE pain in the ass, to the point where I was a click away from submitting it as a bug. Not that it got better with Lion.

19
ejfinneran 23 hours ago 0 replies      
Everyone is battling over why corporations or Apple specifically doesn't like GPLv3, and noone has mentioned Linus has said he doesn't like GPLv3 either and will stick with v2 for Linux.

Linux is still shipping under GPLv2.

http://git.kernel.org/?p=linux/kernel/git/stable/linux-stabl...

22
wadesworld 1 day ago 0 replies      
GPL purge would be a good thing, since GPL has done more to hurt free software than help it.
21
BBC confronts Facebook troll cnet.com
229 points by alvivar  1 day ago   125 comments top 28
1
bilbo0s 23 hours ago 8 replies      
Commenting on this particular troll is probably beneath the majority of us.

However, on a general note, I think it is important to realize that every text message you send, every cell phone conversation you have, every post to the CNN forum you make, every tweet you send ... is directly attributable to your IP whether you use your own name or not. With Facebook and Google tracking everything you do, whether you are logged in or not, I would go one step further, and say all of these things are directly attributable to you personally.

I would strongly urge young people to really think about what they are putting out there. Consider this, the military was doing the equivalent of credit checks for sensitive positions during the 60s. Now you need a credit check to do ANYTHING, even things that don't require credit. How long before an internet and phone background check is standard in the background checks organizations do before offering jobs?

I can tell you the military is doing this sort of screening right now for sensitive positions, but at least you are confronted about it. It still basically ends your career, but they will give you a chance to explain your posts. In the private sector in the future, they will just deep six your application and you won't know what happened. Or they'll let you in at entry level, maybe, and subsequently you'll start running up against an invisible barrier as you try to advance beyond the first or second layer of management. Or you will find resistance to you advancing into management at all.

Also be mindful, it can affect more than your professional life. Think about what the background checks for apartments will look like in the 2020s. Or what 'dating sites' will be like in the 2020s.

Please consider your future before you make comments on ... say ... Hurricane Katrina ... that might be misconstrued. Or post an opinion on ... say ... American soldiers in Afghanistan ... that could be taken out of context and viewed in a negative light.

All that said, the absolute best defense against these sorts of situations is just not to be a douche, which isn't very hard. If a guy or girl is dead...leave them in peace. If you can't say something nice...just don't comment.

2
JanezStupar 23 hours ago 1 reply      
Trivia:

Nimrod 7 is an asshole cyborg character from a Cyberpunk game Bloodnet (Microprose 1993).

Basically Nimrod is an excellent cyborg warrior. But if you have him on team you will face A LOT of unprovoked attacks.

http://www.sysabend.org/champions/characters/mweisler@rz.uni...

This guy seems to have his character covered pretty well.

3
lucisferre 23 hours ago 2 replies      
It's good to see Facebook has it's moderating priorities straight. Just for the record its:

Holocost Deniers: Tolerated

Breastfeeding Mothers: Not OK

4
maeon3 23 hours ago 3 replies      
I do not agree with the statements of the troll but will defend his right to say it. The internet is making the world like a small town. Piss on people on the internet will be like pissing on people in line at Walmart. You can, but people are going to hate you, and you will never be forgiven by anyone for anything bad you do unless you hire a professional to erase your histories.
5
betawolf33 23 hours ago 2 replies      
I saw the whole episode this snippet came from, and I feel it should be mentioned that the whole thing was very much an assault on online anonymity.

The angle was that people can be very immature and very nasty via the Web when their identity is obscured, which is hardly something to dispute. However, the programme seemed to be hinting that public forums should be more regulated to prevent this being possible, which seems to be a poor alternative.

One of the more memorable snippets involved them contentiously asking a Facebook representative why Facebook can't run phonelines to manage abuse complaints from users.

6
darklajid 1 day ago 1 reply      
I have the feeling that this is the ultimate 'feed the troll' reaction. Actually caring enough to track them down, talk to them and reason with them about obviously attention-seeking and ill-meant content? Why?
7
kbatten 16 hours ago 1 reply      
I fail to see the relevance of this.

In addition it somewhat upsets me that someone could get jail time for making an offensive comment. Depending on the jurisdiction or culture, I know I have said things that would be offensive to someone (specifically regarding religion.) To be faced with jail time over something like that does not sound like something I would expect from a western country.

8
sien 16 hours ago 2 replies      
It's ironic on a site called 'hacker news' where everyone knows what the older 'proper' definition of hacker people don't seem to care or even to point out what the older, 'proper' definition of troll is.

Fortunately wikipedia still has in their definition:

In Internet slang, a troll is someone who posts inflammatory,[2] extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community, such as an online discussion forum, chat room, or blog, with the primary intent of provoking readers into an emotional response[3] or of otherwise disrupting normal on-topic discussion.[4] The noun troll may refer to the provocative message itself, as in: "That was an excellent troll you posted".

So, a proper troll on HN might pop and point out that functional languages, while pretty and amusing, are largely unused because their performance is insufficient and make a comparison about, say, perl, provoking people to correct them and argue the point.

Look up adequacy.org to learn about proper trolling.

This guy is just a jerk.

9
coryl 1 day ago 2 replies      
Hmm, this is actually an entertaining idea.

I'd like to see a Chris Hansen style confrontation, where they track down trolls, confront them with what they've written, and then see how they justify or apologize their way out of the situation.

10
abalone 16 hours ago 0 replies      
Maybe it's my American 1st amendment ideals but I'm almost more disturbed by the tone of the report than the troll (who is obviously a huge douchecanoe).

First of all, how did they track this guy down? Sure, there are legal ways of doing it if the guy is sloppy. But how does a report on the ethics of the Internet perpetrate a huge invasion of privacy without so much as passing comment on it? Disturbing implications for what actions are justified when directed at people with the "wrong" ideas.

Second, notice the reporter's repeated emphasis on the illegality of racist speech. He's not just shaming this guy. He's beating the drum of state censorship. Again maybe it's just my ideals but this is just obviously disturbing, maybe even moreso than trolls themselves.

I am not able to watch the whole program but judging from the synopsis it doesn't sound like it entails any substantive discussion of the ethics of privacy and censorship on the Internet, e.g. interviews with civil libertarians, which is what any serious report on trolling should include. As it stands it reeks of sensationalism.

11
xedarius 23 hours ago 1 reply      
"Burton looks like so many large, smoking men whom you'd see in a British pub"

What a ridiculous stereotype.

12
anons2011 1 day ago 0 replies      
I watched this last night. On the whole it was a pretty stupid programme with equally stupid people not knowing how to report and block people. Why not just ignore sites like littlegossip, and why have a formspring account.

"I love that the whole thing is narrated like they're tracking down an animal in nature. I loved the end "So, there you go, an internet troll. That's what they look like." Yep, that's what they look like." - this did make me giggle though.

13
delackner 8 hours ago 0 replies      
While it would be lovely if we could find a way to get rid of harassing trolls on the internet, suppose someone on Facebook posts a comment disparaging [the founder of a certain faith known to try to assassinate people for disparaging said founder], then members of that faith might make formal complaints to the service demanding his account be deleted. So yeah, probably best to just try to make options to permanently block specific users/ip addresses from EVER posting to your feed.
14
ck2 21 hours ago 2 replies      
It's mental illness folks.

We don't accept it because it's abhorrent behavior but these people need mental health help. Getting them to seek help is a nearly impossible task though.

15
danso 23 hours ago 1 reply      
So...how did they find his real identity? Was that covered in the entire episode?
16
motters 21 hours ago 1 reply      
I have no experience in this area, other than having seen trolling on mailing lists, but my guess would be that a face-to-face confrontation with the troll would only give them further ammunition for subsequent enraged outbursts, or serve to make the situation even more dangerous/volatile.

Probably the solution is not to react to the troll, and for their outbursts to be met with silence. Don't read their content, and avoid forums or lists where trolling regularly occurs. When that's not possible report them to the list/forum admin, without engaging with the troll directly.

17
tosseraccount 19 hours ago 1 reply      
Difference between US and rest of world.

US has free speech.

Rest of world doesn't. (yeah yeah .. "we have free speech except for obectional material" ... right.

American develop an "idiot filter" and get good at using it: "dude's an idiot. whatever. move on".

Europeans don't and find the need for authorities "e.g. The BBC" to police their brains.

Big deal So what? Some clown is an offensive troll. I'd rather deal with that with big brother smashing anonymous complaints, no matter how off base.

18
stfu 21 hours ago 0 replies      
Ah, good times when BBC Documentaries had actually high quality documentaries. Fascinating how their investigative journalism got all the way down to hunting people who talk trash on Facebook and exposing them. Are these really the most substantial social conflicts Britain has to worry about?
19
lightyrs 9 hours ago 1 reply      
The tone of this article is downright chilling. Sure, this guy is a complete nuisance but he should have every right to spread his hate speech wherever property owners condone. The current anti-bullying meme that is being propagated by mass-media and politicians is just another in a long line of ruses designed to limit the human rights of the electorate.
20
gk1 1 day ago 3 replies      
What are we to gather from this? That assholes on the Internet are also assholes in real life?

"Confronting" people like this does little to change their behavior. At best, it publicizes their identities, and causes some minor level of disgrace, but why would that matter to them?

21
bioskope 23 hours ago 1 reply      
Is it just me or does that BBC dude come off as pro-censorship?
22
asg 23 hours ago 0 replies      
It was a documentary investigating online bullying. Not a 'news' story of the day.
23
mediacrisis 23 hours ago 2 replies      
Not being familiar with privacy laws in the UK, did he have to sign a release to have his face shown on that program? If so I fail to see how its effectively shaming someone if they willingly submit to be filmed.
24
amouat 22 hours ago 0 replies      
On a side note, how can CNET claim credit on a screenshot of a BBC program?
25
justncase80 13 hours ago 0 replies      
I love how they call him a troll right on the BBC. Talk about a slap in the face. Anonymity isn't always a good thing.
26
mathattack 21 hours ago 0 replies      
Am I the obliging who dislikes giving this jackass notoriety? Ignore the trolls, don't feed them.
27
djbender 23 hours ago 0 replies      
This validates his existence, why even give this troll a voice?
28
54mf 23 hours ago 0 replies      
"...trolling community..."

I'm out.

23
Stealing Your Address Book dcurt.is
226 points by maccman  18 hours ago   77 comments top 20
1
droithomme 14 hours ago 6 replies      
We develop software for Windows and Macs. On the Mac the address book files are certainly available to read, and also available through an API. We don't read these files, we don't upload them, and we don't analyze them. We don't touch them at all. We also don't touch anything else on our customer's system that they wouldn't normally be expecting, and we don't send any information back to our server without the user explicitly saying it's OK when it happens.

Here's one reason why we don't scan people's system for interesting private files and secretly upload it for our economic benefit:

1. It violates the user's trust, expectations and privacy.

Here's a second reason:

2. It is a criminal act to do so.

I don't buy these discussions about how it is Apple's fault. It's not. It's illegal to steal private data like this. The companies doing this should be raided and shut down by the FBI immediately. All of them. Whether or not they issued a tearful apology.

2
pclark 17 hours ago 2 replies      
I find the whole thing really rather curious. I too am baffled as to why Apple has allowed this functionality from day one. I am also surprised that there has not been considerably more malicious usages of this data.

Apple clearly does not enforce the the guidelines 17.1 strictly - but some developers are rejected for this. I can imagine it being possible (and I have no idea) that Apple turns a blind eye to developers that break this rule on the assumption they are doing it as a reputable company and doing it for "clear" value to the end user. (e.g.: not just acquiring all your contacts despite being a fart app.)

> 17.1: Apps cannot transmit data about a user without obtaining the user's prior permission and providing the user with access to information about how and where the data will be used.

Apple traditionally will happily leave functionality users or developers deem critical out of iOS until it is done right - push notifications, geo-location, background applications. It seems to make so much sense that "contacts" are part of something that Apple would want to do right - after all - it can create significant value for the user. (as discussed here: http://parislemon.com/post/11647475506/your-true-social-netw...)

But that doesn't explain why allow it in the first place in its current state? Its a really odd thing to simply offer developers on a whim (all their SDK blurb says is "Your application can create new Address Book contacts and get existing contact info.") Why can I import all of a users' contacts but it is not possible to populate an iMessage with a recipient and content?

(I mean, Game Centre, the nearest thing to an Apple "social network" uses contacts to find your friends but in a truly terrible - albeit more ethical - manner. Which is both parts fascinating and infuriating as GameCentre is mostly crippled by being incapable of finding your friends.)

At a guess: internally Apple iOS development is under resourced and they have a todo list a mile long. This simply has not been a severe enough problem that it has warranted being fixed yet.

Whatever the reason, I hope it gets fixed.

3
feralchimp 16 hours ago 3 replies      
The biggest problem with all of this, and which I'm surprised no one else has mentioned, is that my Address Book isn't principally "personal data about me, which I wish to keep safe." It is "personal data about other, often more important people, who have entrusted me with the security of that data"!

If you pull my CEO's private contact info off my phone, or pull a high-level contact from some company we've been privately looking to acquire, you best pray that theft doesn't result in a leak of privileged business information.

4
polemic 17 hours ago 2 replies      
It's interesting that one side effect of the Apple 'walled-garden' and the perceive strictness of the app approval process has led to the idea that:

> ...this issue is a failure of Apple and a breach of trust by Apple, not by app developers.

That's a cop-out, of course. There is no lesser responsibility on the part of an app developer to "do no evil" if you've simply bent your definition of evil to "whatever Apple DOESN'T let me do to their users".

Let's look at this statement:

> ...there's a quiet understanding among many iOS app developers that it is acceptable to...

That should be a big red flag to the writer. Quiet understandings have led to all sorts of problems - certain financial collapses come to mind.

Ultimately, this is something Apple needs to confront. Consistency is far more important that any specific moral position - for users and app developers. But that's not a get out of jail free card for the developer.

5
zbowling 15 hours ago 2 replies      
Apple avoids the Vista like "ask for permission" on access design like android by requiring you to justify your needs to the app reviewer as an app developer. Not having an untrusted source of apps that can install on the device that is allowed on the iPhone means Apple can, in theory, improve user experience by not having as many of these dialogs bugging the user.

Apps, should just work.®

Constant permission prompts just train users in to muscle memory to accept these dialogs without thinking. Instead Apple sees it better make developers justify their needs to the APIs when they submit. Then Apple tests the app and looks for anything fishy. In the end, they reserve the right to pull them when they violate their terms.

The article is wrong in that the camera roll is secure. It's technically not. Through the asset library API you can get at it. See docs here: https://developer.apple.com/library/ios/#documentation/Asset...

One of the issues Android had up until recently was that you couldn't update all apps in one shot. The reason is that app update may have required permission changes from a pervious version. You would have to acknowledge each of these before installing the update. This was a crappy user experience and it's still the current experience when you install 3rd party APKs and update them.

The problems with these "list of permissions wanted" screens is they don't let the developers justify to the user why they need access to these different features inline with the request. The users see it at install or update often.

There are often very simple reasons why I need access to data on the device on Android in my app. I had people not install my app because I asked to send SMSs (which tells the user I can charge them money that way) in my music app, but it's only because I had a share button that is user invoked and clearly is sending a text message to user.

Sure, be clear with your intent with your users, but these permission models don't always scale for the everyday users.

6
phuff 17 hours ago 2 replies      
I think it's a bit conspiracy-theorist to say that companies do this because they want to use everything they can get. The relatively easy privacy maintaining alternative (hash address book contents and store the hash, and check against hashes when people join) is simply not as obvious as simply uploading what you get from the API.

Most app developers are just trying to get a job done as quickly as they can, and are in that hustle are choosing the path of least resistance, rather than thinking, "I really want to exploit this data as much as possible and invade as much privacy as possible."

7
gojomo 15 hours ago 0 replies      
Apple doesn't just allow this; it seems they do it (for Twitter's benefit) themselves, in the official iOS5 Twitter integration settings panel:

http://cache.gizmodo.com/assets/images/4/2011/06/ios5twitter...

(It's possible they're scraping Twitter handles/photos in some way that doesn't link the 'email addresses and phone numbers' to the requester's Twitter handle... but almost any straightforward way of implementing this has the de facto effect of informing Twitter of all your contacts' emails and phone numbers.)

Everyone's at it.

8
stevenou 18 hours ago 2 replies      
It is super curious why Apple decided to allow apps to access the Address Book freely. I'm releasing an app on the App Store next week and I definitely thought about all the evil things I could do to my users because Apple provides them no protection. And as a developer looking for success on the App Store, it is very tempting.

I once considered the possibility of uploading the entire address book to my servers, too. In fact, I even considered email/sms spamming everyone in those address books with "invitations" from the address book owner to download my app. Of course, I did not end up doing any of that nefarious stuff. Not even uploading the address book for innocent "Add Friends" features. But the fact remains that given the freedom to do so, almost every developer will be, at least, tempted to take advantage of it. Most will.

I honestly don't think Path did anything wrong and I'm sure they kept the information secure on their servers. It's Apple that somehow let this one slip through.

9
WestCoastJustin 17 hours ago 1 reply      
Am I missing something? I'm not a iPhone/iOS user so please forgive me. Does iPhone/iOS not ask if you give permission for this App to view your Address Book?

If not, then I can see why this might be Apples fault for allowing developers to abuse this.

If yes, then how can this possibly be Apple's fault? It seems almost absurd to blame them. The buck stops with the end user for not protecting their Address Book. If you allow some weather app to download your Address Book, why should Apple care? You cannot trust every developer (turns out we are all data hungry), and they even asked to peak in there too.. You explicitly gave them permission!

10
enobrev 8 hours ago 0 replies      
It's a lazy mistake. The tools are provided by way of a command or two on just about any platform available to any programmer. Hashing information and matching against said hash are problems that have been solved and simplified in as many languages as asking for the bathroom.

It's easier to send the raw data. It's foolish to send the raw data. It's a lazy mistake. We all know it happens. We all know WHY it happens. Stop fucking with our data. Pay attention because sometimes you should not be quite so lazy.

Path gets off easy because they're Path. I'm ok with that. But I would fire your ass if you did this under my watch because I know for a fact that this is a stupidly easy problem to resolve. Don't be so damned lazy when it matters.

11
jacques_chester 15 hours ago 0 replies      
It seems to me that all of these applications would be in trouble under Australia's fairly strict privacy laws. In particular, you are allowed only to collect details reasonably useful to your business and you must give a great deal of notice that this is happening[1].

Persons wishing to bring this issue to Apple's attention might wish to engage an Australian lawyer or bring the matter to the attention of the Attorney-General's department.

I don't have an iPhone, so I'd have no standing. Fellow Australians, call your lawyers and start raising a stink.

(IANAL, TINLA).

[1] http://www.privacy.gov.au/materials/types/infosheets/view/65...

12
spwmoni 17 hours ago 4 replies      
Not really related to the content of the article, but my pointer wandered over some dot on the page. Suddenly it started animating, with the caption "DON'T MOVE." So I didn't. Then it changed to a checkmark, with the caption "SENT." What the hell did I just do?
13
nantes 17 hours ago 0 replies      
So, let's see if I can turn this into a positive ...

A while back I casually nuked my iPhone 3G back to factory to give to a friend. I did so without realizing there were some contacts on there that failed to backup to my Mac.

What are the odds some startup or other company out there has my contacts? Do any of them offer personal data dumps? Sadly, these contacts never made it to Google, where I can dump the data.

Just curious.

14
idspispopd 12 hours ago 1 reply      
I'm curious why Apple allows this also, but making this an excuse to render a blame and bash Apple article is misguided.

I say misguided because there are many ways that your personal information, behaviours, interests and usage history can be fettered away from you all outside of Apple's control, this is a privacy and transparency issue.

Not only should there be some level of respect for the information you possess (especially information you possess on others), but many countries already have legislation that address these privacy concerns specifically.

This means that there are real legal consequences to this address book saga, but contrary to the article's spin this is again not directed at Apple.

In short: Apple can do more to protect users, but shovelling them with the full blame over apps that are deliberately designed to gather and produce results from your contact information to provide is misguided.

15
twsted 8 hours ago 0 replies      
I think that it is important that at least 2 levels of access can be asked by an app per resource (location, contacts, etc):

1. Permission to access a resource just locally for the benefit of the user;

2. Permission to transmit the data about a resource for social purposes.

16
dredmorbius 18 hours ago 0 replies      
Why can I not lock down my phone information and describe, at the device level, what I'm willing to share? The present alternative (on Android) is to allow/deny applications on a case-by-case basis. Fuck up once and I've let slip data I don't want to share. Some apps cannot be deleted (on an unrooted, phone -- only with difficulty on a rooted one).

Why can I not query each and every application vendor for all data held on me, and either modify or correct this as I see fit?

I've enjoyed playing with my Android phone for the past while, but I'm increasingly very unhappy carrying a persistent snitch in my pocket.

I'm waiting for the Perl Harbor / 9/11 day for this stuff. It's going to happen, it's a matter of when.

17
creativityland 17 hours ago 0 replies      
There are many legitimate uses and I know I've downloaded many apps that uploaded my phone book for backup purposes, syncing purposes so on. Anything can be abused if used wrongly however, that's my philosophy.
18
copenhagencoder 17 hours ago 0 replies      
"I fully believe this issue is a failure of Apple and a breach of trust by Apple, not by app developers."

So the companies that willfully ignore Apple's app rules and normal ethics are in no way to blame?

19
four 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Unacceptable. What craven view of ethics puts any concept of "user experience" above treating others truthfully and respecting their privacy, property and personal domain?

This is not a "mistake". Why would anyone want to have anything to do with such people, much less be their customer?

This warrants punishment, not forgiveness.

20
geoffbp 17 hours ago 2 replies      
I wouldn't really care if a company had access to my address book, different if they were reading my memos or something though.
24
Zap your brain into the zone: Fast track to pure focus newscientist.com
219 points by fuzzix  3 days ago   57 comments top 17
1
bdg 3 days ago 1 reply      
I read a neat book that partially covered this topic, called "Click" : http://books.google.ca/books?id=RK3OHBGj2SkC&printsec=fr...

The book talks about how interactions between people/things/events work. The author talks about how we can feel more connected based on vulnerability, proximity, flow, similarity, and environment.

The part on flow discussed how a champion racecar driver gets "in the zone" or "flow". As someone who's done programming competitions in the past (in a room where others are writing code against you) I could absolutely relate, time outside just washes out of sight, the curly braces become an extension of you, it's a down-right magical feeling.

There's another concept I feel is related to this, and I don't want to jump the shark here but, if you think about how we reach mastery of things we know (or, in other words, you can read sheet music, but can't play the guitar like a pro because every few notes you make a small pause and think about the next few notes), we're focusing on our impulses, or rather, eliminating them. This TED video does a much more fun/elegant explanation of impulses: http://www.ted.com/talks/benjamin_zander_on_music_and_passio...

I find it interesting that when I'm personally in a state of "flow", I'm working without any "impulses". To me it appears like the two are related: you need to be able to work without impulses in any given skill before you can enter flow (otherwise, you break out of flow). Now, this isn't enough, and I feel this is where we get back into the "connections" or "relationships" discussed in Click. To me it appears we as programmers have a better predisposition simply because the computer can create for us a synthetic reality free of normal distractions, we can tweak our proximity to a machine should we need to (mod your PC case and feel proud, love your mac book, set up your desktop just the way you like it), we know how vulnerable it can be to different things (viruses, long running programs, leaky memory), we experience it enough that it's very familiar and similar to things we've experienced before (try switching editors or color themes for a day, you'll understand how your similarity impacts your ability to get into flow), we can control almost all of the environment. In this synthetic universe we are better predisposed to making all the mental connections we need to feel like we're using an extension of ourselves rather than a machine.

This goes back to what we've long known: programmers need to know their stuff in and out, and need to work in an environment they have control over.

2
kghose 3 days ago 3 replies      
I'm really trying to get a grip on trans-cranial electric stimulation. The specificity of effects claimed from from such a general manipulation (enhanced learning, better mathematical skills) is a little unbelievable.

Statements like "warns me that if I remove an electrode and break the connection, the voltage passing through my brain will blind me for a good few seconds." which may be a misreporting, don't help to bolster credibility. It may indeed blind you due to some neurophysiological effect, but breaking the connection of a direct current circuit will simply stop the current (unless there is a huge inductor in the circuit somewhere, in which case there will be a spark to your scalp as the SAME current tries to keep flowing).

3
api 3 days ago 7 replies      
I find it frustrating and depressing: this stuff just never seems to get operationalized in a way that's accessible to folks outside university labs.

Where are the startups? Where are the hobbyist groups?

4
udp 3 days ago 1 reply      
And there was me expecting one of those motivational self-help articles. Christ, things are getting strange.
5
startupfounder 2 days ago 1 reply      
I just read this article in what felt like 5 seconds, then I looked up at the clock and 5 minutes had gone by. I looked at my girlfriend and said, "How many of the words did I just read?" and she said, "All of them".
6
plf 3 days ago 1 reply      
I know it's probably harmless, but this is one of those things that I rather wait before trying it out. You never know, there could be very small hidden side effects. The brain is so complex and poorly understood that I rather not mess with it in this way.

Examples: maybe this will make you likelier to have a brain seizure when you are just 60 years old, maybe after prolonged use one region of your brain is more active making you behave differently (could be positive or negative), maybe it will make you more susceptible to Parkinson, Alzheimer, etc...

That being said, if everyone was as coward as I am, we would have missed on lots of inventions.

7
barefoot 3 days ago 2 replies      
I wonder how much of the documented improvement is placebo effect?

Even if it didn't directly improve focus it seems like it would be a great placebo. Nine volt batteries are probably commonly perceived as being powerful. They are used in stun guns, for example. You also experience unusual side effects after it's applied, further removing any doubt that something unique is happening to you.

8
Tichy 3 days ago 5 replies      
"He sticks the anode - the positive pole of the battery - to my temple, and the cathode to my left arm"

Does this even make sense physically? I mean, wouldn't the skull work a bit like a Faraday cage, not allowing any currents into the brain?

I am highly sceptic of this new hype.

9
itmag 3 days ago 2 replies      
Someone, please make some kits for this and sell online. :)
10
TheSOB88 2 days ago 1 reply      
Shouldn't it be that getting into the zone and becoming an expert are two different things? I've definitely been able to get into the zone as a programmer, have been for a long time, but I'm far cry from anywhere near expert level. So why do they couple those in the article?

>Yet you don't have to be a pro to experience it - some people report the same ability to focus at a far earlier stage in their training, suggesting they are more naturally predisposed to the flow state than others.

Or maybe flow is what happens when your brain is concentrating, regardless of your knowledge/experience level.

11
bitsoda 2 days ago 0 replies      
Around 6th grade I decided to take up roller hockey, but was pretty bummed out when I tried to learn how to move around in rollerskates. I couldn't make much progress for the life of me, until one day, I stumbled across the solid advice of learning to skate _with_ a hockey stick while chasing a tennis ball. I was skating as fluid as a twelve year old could within one week. I had always attributed the accelerated learning to that tennis ball and the subsequent "desire" to chase after it out of necessity, but now I see that focusing on the tennis ball was helpful because it muted my prefrontal cortex activity. Neato.
12
itmag 3 days ago 0 replies      
I wonder if the part about removing critical thoughts and going into flow would be good for people with poor social skills? Perhaps it would be a way to "get into state", as it's known in the PUA world.
14
gtani 3 days ago 0 replies      
http://www.sott.net/articles/show/216086-Mental-muscle-six-w...

the above talks about TDCS, but also meditation, bright lights, playing music. Good read

15
JoshTriplett 2 days ago 3 replies      
Did anyone else think of Larry Niven's "wireheads" when reading this and other recent articles about it?
16
LarryMade 3 days ago 0 replies      
Reading around one paper's abstract on testing the after effects of prolonged tDCS, suggest there might be a migraine risk, I dunno, I never have much headaches, so it could be a risk I would not want to take.
17
aorshan 2 days ago 0 replies      
We're getting closer and closer to The Matrix. Before you know it, you're going to be able to upload knowledge straight to your brain.
25
A $5000 Chair battlehardened.wordpress.com
212 points by kentonwhite  1 day ago   58 comments top 19
1
bitanarch 1 day ago 2 replies      
One of the lessons I've learned in my startup life (2 years) was to never deal with people who aren't competent with execution - what's the right thing to do, how to reason about it in a logical way, how to do it, how to finish it, contingency plans, etc.

"Try him out for the junk drawer job in the startup " CEO" is a terribly easy mistake to make, when you're still at early stage with nothing to show. I've done this for almost all the positions in my previous companies - programmers, "product" guy, all the way up to the CEO and investors look-alikes, and I regretted it every time.

When my CEO was still a business school student of a certain prestigious university, I thought he's well connected and would be a valuable partner later. The company did well for a time - but mostly besides him. Once he took over the reins, everything went downhill and the company never came back to its former glory - despite the CEO's claims of "funding is near", "I'm good friends with <insert big name here> and he'll cough up $50k without a blink" for a full 2 years. Every time I called him out for non-performance, he plays the "CTO is not a team player" card. But I believed him, for 2 years - all the way until he badmouthed his partner - me - to his friends right in front of my eyes. And for quite some time I actually thought I should keep the company breakup somewhat secret. Silly me.

Bad "product" guy... got him because he's a friend and he looked somewhat experienced. Ok.. now we've agreed the product would do this and that, now draw me something please? Uhh... wtf is that? He stayed for a few months, was fired, but caused the company some trouble after that.

Bad programmers.. went through quite a few of them, mostly contracted. Some even from big named universities with very impressive looking resumes. Again, hired them because of a sense of urgency (e.g. need to demo X to VCs soon!), so I lowered my bar to what I thought I could get. Wrong - those ended up wasting time rather than contributing.

At the end of the two years, I think I must have went through 2 dozens of people, co-founders included. Of the 2 dozens, only 2 of the choices were right - one programmer, one junior product guy. The others are all a waste of time.

If I were to do a startup again, I'd be super careful at picking who I work with. PG's advice at getting a co-founder? Yes it's definitely needed. But trying to do something investors like while sacrificing quality? That's the #1 startup mistake to make, IMHO. Don't do that.

2
dsr_ 1 day ago 4 replies      
It wasn't the chair that cost $5K. It was the lack of the most basic possible written employment agreement.
3
wtvanhest 1 day ago 1 reply      
"How can you honestly not remember this guy's name" - A commenter from the original post.

This comment makes me think about whether this story is even true. I'd say it probably isn't based on that one statement alone. How can the guy not remember the lawyer's name? He has emails exchanged and the guy supposedly stole money from him. I like to forget negative stuff, but I can assure you I would remember this guy's name.

4
staunch 1 day ago 3 replies      
They got rid of an asshole for a mere $5k. I've seen people pay 100x more than that in extreme cases.

A great bargain!

5
ssharp 1 day ago 2 replies      
To anyone more familiar with the law: is this the type of thing that could be recovered later?

I think the lawyer was smart enough to ask for an amount that he'd be okay with, but kept it small enough to make paying it easy enough to not warrant the startup being distracted.

But say the amount was more and the amount was low enough to pay the guy off, but high enough to be concerned about. Maybe you still pay it right away because you have to in order to get your funding, but is there any case law that supports recovering this money later on because the startup was essentially held hostage by the lawyer?

It seems fairly reasonable that a contract made under duress could not be enforced, or could at least be brought up at a later date.

6
danko 1 day ago 1 reply      
At first, I read this and thought to myself -- "charming, but they didn't really pay $5K for the chair, so much as for their lack of proper legal documentation."

Then I thought on it a bit more and realized -- it was the chair that cost them $5K, because if they hadn't established the paper trail via the e-mail chain about giving the chair back, they wouldn't have had the hangup on 'without prejudice'.

Be careful with email, folks. In the end, that is your paper trail.

7
capkutay 1 day ago 1 reply      
It's interesting that saying "without prejudice" is a keyword for "I'll sue you later if it's worth my while". It seems like lawyers get a lot of power purely from that fact that our legal system makes no sense and they can just warp it against you at any time.
8
leak 1 day ago 1 reply      
Can someone please enlighten me on how to avoid this kind of situation? Is this because these guys didn't have any papers signed with the guy about him being a temp until they decide later?
9
TwoBit 1 day ago 2 replies      
Their real mistake was dealing with a lawyer in the first place. My dad told me years ago that you want to avoid dealing with lawyers at all costs, because most of them are vicious selfish sharks. Sure there are exceptions, but there are few, if any, occupations with as high a percentage of people like that in it.
10
PStamatiou 1 day ago 0 replies      
I thought this was going to be a story about the Eames lounger or Le Corbusier haha. Know one too many Facebook designer friends that have them..
11
ajhit406 1 day ago 0 replies      
$5000 is a gross understatement of the actual costs at play. Drafting a full release can sometimes cost thousands of dollars, and the emotional toll and time-sink of negotiating the terms of release should also be considered.

The author was lucky it only took one phone call and that he didn't mention the cost of drafting up the release perhaps signifies it didn't cost him too much.

12
sunchild 1 day ago 1 reply      
I think the investor's lawyer was being overly cautious. Anyway, small price to pay for peace of mind. Always get a release!
13
kahawe 1 day ago 0 replies      
> Damn. That chair just cost us five grand I remember thinking.

The chair was still only 99 bucks - what cost you only measly 5k was a lesson in "swimming with sharks" and why you do not frakk around in business matters and why a lot of things in business (sadly) work and run the way they do...

And chances are he understood the situation and was nothing but an opportunist and took advantage of it, so you woke those sleeping dogs - but your lesson should be: make sure such things cannot happen, make sure everyone knows and understands the terms and get things IN WRITING.

14
hartror 1 day ago 0 replies      
Something I have come across when dealing with frustrated investors. I have heard it said since and it still gives me butterflies :/

Some more background on the term: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prejudice_(legal_procedure)#Com...

15
meiji 1 day ago 0 replies      
I was expecting an interesting nugget of info. Too many companies employ someone to do something vague because they like the person. It rarely works out and then someone has to deal with the fallout. As loads of others have said, that was a relatively cheap lesson. People pay hundreds of times that amount to learn things sometimes.
16
stankal 1 day ago 1 reply      
Interesting story with a lesson to remember. But can anyone comment on how did his or investor's attorney find that email? Is it common practice to give attorneys full access to all your company's email accounts and then have them search through for any land mines as part of due diligence? Seems a little extreme and very labor intensive. And who pays for it?
17
Drbble 1 day ago 0 replies      
The "without prejudice" is phony storytelling. It sounds like they got a legal threat letter and ignored it.

Also, if this lawyer was good enough to get $5k for nothing, maybe they should kept him on. Or paid him a fair wage or equity for his work.

18
Mordor 22 hours ago 0 replies      
He sounds prejudiced to me :-p
19
damian2000 1 day ago 0 replies      
Only three things are certain in life: death, taxes and lawyers behaving like aholes.
26
Announcing Wolfram Alpha Pro wolframalpha.com
205 points by cleverjake  12 hours ago   41 comments top 12
1
edanm 8 hours ago 16 replies      
I love Wolfram Alpha. Every time I think about it, I think it's a grand achievement and an absolutely amazing tool.

I just wish I had any idea what to do with it.

Once in a long while, I'll think of trying a query on it. Mostly for city populations, past Academy Award winners, etc. But I have nothing to do with it on a day-to-day basis.

What do Hacker News users use it for?

2
jwr 1 hour ago 0 replies      
I breathed a sigh of relief. I was worried that Wolfram has been investing so much into Alpha, all the while not making any money from it. Such unstable arrangements do not last.

This looks like a viable way to earn money with that excellent service, which means it won't disappear any time soon. I'm glad to see that.

3
staunch 10 hours ago 1 reply      
The thing I wish they would do is have data analysis/visualization API. I send data in predefined supported formats ("User Retention Data", "Google Advertising Campaign", etc) and they send back deep/amazing/interactive/visualization reports.

Some companies have tried to create reporting/dashboard services, but I bet Wolfram could do far better job than anyone else has. I could easily see tens of thousands of businesses powering their back office dashboards off Wolfram and paying $100-$200/mo for the privilege.

4
markerdmann 10 hours ago 1 reply      
The problem with Wolfram Alpha is this: it's awesome when a query works, but often it either doesn't understand your query on the first try, or it just doesn't have the data or computation you're after.

Siri has the same UI problem. You either have to read through the list of commands and memorize a few, or you have to deal with the constant frustration of trying something three times before giving up and doing it manually.

That said, these UIs are fun for a coder. :-) It'd be cool if somebody were to track and curate interesting Wolfram Alpha queries in a blog/tumblr/subreddit. The closest thing I could find was this:

http://www.makeuseof.com/tag/10-search-terms-put-wolfram-alp...

5
aorshan 10 hours ago 0 replies      
That is huge. Completely changes the dynamic of how you can interact with Wolfram Alpha.

It is also sure to help plenty of new students with their homework in a completely different way.

6
Shank 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Is it me or is the site running at an unbelievably slow pace right now?

Also: Large datasets can apparently screw off, their filesize limit is 1mb.

7
Schwolop 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Wow. When they start offering site licenses for this, every university in the world is going to buy one.

(edit: my bad, they already do)

8
the_cat_kittles 9 hours ago 2 replies      
Has anyone actually used wolfram alpha regularly? What did you use it for? Not that I think its dumb (well... maybe I'm a little skeptical), but I just haven't thought of any way to use it.
9
davyjones 10 hours ago 0 replies      
As a sucker for 3D models, I was drooling all over this:

"When one says “downloading data”, one might think just of data behind tables and plots. But Wolfram|Alpha Pro can download all sorts of other data too: 3D geometry data (say to use for a modeling program or a 3D printer), sound data, graph connectivity data, molecular specification data, etc."in altogether more than 60 formats."

10
veb 8 hours ago 1 reply      
I love Wolfram Alpha and I'm definitely excited to trial the 'pro' version. I find it more helpful for looking up conversions, anything to do with money/finance and looking for a short history on stuff.

It's quite exciting watching what they do, definitely one of the few companies I respect, for some reason! :)

11
twodayslate 2 hours ago 0 replies      
I hate monthly subscriptions. I would much rather pay a flat fee. Why do no companies do this anymore?
12
notknotnot 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Query: how many edges has a complete graph?

Result: Consult complete graph.

So not a very intelligent algorithm, no AI

27
Star Trek as a purely symbolic artifact of past times antipope.org
206 points by CountHackulus  1 day ago   124 comments top 21
1
philwelch 22 hours ago  replies      
I think the main point to remember is that Star Trek, even DS9, mostly portrays the lives of idealized people in, effectively, the military. When I think of the most talented and driven people I know (and surely it takes driven and talented people to make it in Starfleet), I think of people who work long hours, spend much of their spare time cultivating their talents, and generally don't waste much time. One such person whom I know actually watches Shakespeare productions for entertainment. Some particular examples strike true--O'Brien's always tinkering with things when he isn't drinking and carousing with Bashir, Bashir has an endless supply of research projects to work on when he isn't drinking and carousing with O'Brien, Odo is an introverted workaholic.

The prevalence of things like Shakespeare and classical music is mostly a writing conceit--it always comes off as contrived and awkward when Star Trek writers either invent futuristic forms of art or awkwardly shoehorn in the 20th century.

I would posit that the world of Star Trek eliminates the alienation of everyday life on Earth that leads one to social networking in the first place. Furthermore, and this is admittedly handwavy, but any analog to the internet would either only cover the station itself (in which case why bother, because the whole station hangs out at the bar anyway) or require subspace radio to communicate with thousands of planets at once, which is very plausibly impractical if not outright prevented by security requirements.

More nitpicks:

> 90s! YOU WERE THE BEST! With your adorable WE ARE SO DARK plots that seem like Strawberry Shortcake Goes to Space by today's standards.

Well, compared to BSG I guess there's no on-camera rape scenes, but all the rest, torture and genocide included, is there. It isn't portrayed with the same realism, granted.

> In fact, the war correspondence he so longs to write--and he believes he is the only one who can write it--would be one of many, many voices escaping from occupied DS9 in the post Arab Spring networked news hivemind.

Well they evacuated nearly all the civilians. Jake is quite possibly the only civilian left who doesn't have anything better to do than to be a war correspondent. Quark has his bar, Rom has his undercover mission, and the Bajoran crew are still military officers who have to run the station and pretend to collaborate with the Dominion.

To the point that "nobody blogs", the actual crew all keep "personal logs", and while they're classified and not shared to the world (more on that later), it's not that far off.

> Can you imagine the subreddit for the station? How many atheists would tear down Sisko the messiah, how every decision would be questioned, mocked, dissected where the actors and the acted upon could see it?

Who, exactly? The crew? No, that would be insubordination. The crew's families? Not technically insubordination but still awkward. The business owners on the Promenade? Right, Quark and the owner of the Klingon restaurant are going to openly criticize the one thing that makes DS9 a tourist destination for Bajoran pilgrims.

> Because of this, and because of the lack of a social network, it is possible to be alone in the Star Trek world in a way which I would have to deliberately take action to achieve in my world. Even when we are alone, most of us check a number of communication vectors and leave them live--Twitter, email, text messages, Facebook, our blogs, Reddit, news feeds. We are a baby hivemind spinning our training wheels. To be alone as profoundly (to me) as Sisko, Kira, and the rest often are, I would have to make a decision to shut down all of those streams.

These people are living in space. Only the highest ranking officers have their own quarters, and the unmarried ones seem to spend half their leisure time dating or hanging out in the bar. Even the station commander's son has to have a roommate when he moves out of his dad's quarters. There's even a scene where Worf and Odo, the introverted loners of the cast, discuss their respective strategies for getting away from it all to finally spend some time alone.

EDIT: Come to think of it, the station does have a network. Quark is constantly hacking into it, probably with Rom's help. In one amusing scene, he does it to spam everybody with poorly produced advertisements for his bar: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w-9tw2mx_gE

2
petercooper 20 hours ago 2 replies      
My favorite comment on there:

What, no mention of the Borg? They have constant awareness of each other and consider it jarring when someone "drops off the grid"... they suffer real problems with an environment that fosters "epistemic closure"... better analog for social networking than the Great Link, IMHO.

I think we might be heading more to being like the Borg.. :-)

3
arethuza 23 hours ago 1 reply      
The observation about nobody wasting time in Star Trek made me think of the Culture - where 99.9999% of the human population are effectively doing nothing other than "wasting time" - having a jolly good time along the way, of course.

Then I saw a comment that explains it:

"Star Trek and the Federation actually depict a Space Amish splinter group from the Culture."

4
barrkel 23 hours ago 3 replies      
SF shouldn't see itself as being in the business of predicting anything; or if it does so, then that's a niche subcategory of minority interest. I don't want to read about SF predicting Facebook, and nor do I want to watch compelling dramas played out on comment threads.

SF is always an artifact of the time in which it was written. It's not about the future. It's about the present with a frame shift, and what that tells us about ourselves here and now, from a different perspective. Prognostication - especially about the future - is a fool's game. A compelling story should relate to the reader / viewer here and now, not in 20 or 40 years on the haphazard chance that a bunch of predictions play out.

5
lnanek 20 hours ago 1 reply      
The article says no one wastes time and just kicks back and watches videos all day and how unrealistic that is. I think there was a character that did that, though. Lt. Barclay (sp?) or something like that got addicted to the holodeck to the degree where it interfered with his work.

Additionally, it's a very different world. Didn't they get rid of money in the federation, for example? Surely living in a no money environment where everyone has their basic needs covered for free would change how people behave.

Also having super smart computers. Maybe no one posts on Facebook because they can just talk outloud to a computer or a badge and it will get deliver to the recipient as text, newsfeed, or voice - whatever their preference. I already know people who prefer I always call them instead of text. If they are there we can have a conversation with some back and forth, if not, Google Voice transcribes the message and it is the same as a text message anyway.

Lastly, being in the tech industry and the US I tend to run into some blindingly smart immigrants. I think part of why they are that way is that they already had the money or education or talent to be able to get to the US when they wanted to. Many people are too poor to leave their home. So the people we mainly see in Star Trek could be similar, they are the people who had all the opportunities or talent to let them go out into the universe or become super well known politicians or doctors on the planets we visit, etc.. Making assumptions about everyday live based on the people we usually see might be like making assumptions about everyday life in the real world by only looking at Wall Street.

6
pavel_lishin 23 hours ago  replies      
> Battle re-enactments are eminently useful for military officers

But what good are they for a doctor and an engineer? To paraphrase Ender's Game, how do you apply the lessons learned at The Alamo, or on the fields of ancient Ireland to three-dimensional warfare (not even thinking about the wormhole at this point) in space?

Another thing that struck me is that perhaps nobody wastes time because of the culture the Federation has become. They don't have money, either, and don't seem to particularly miss it. Perhaps Star Trek depicts a humanity that has finally decided to better itself consistently, on a mass and individual level.

Or perhaps when anything is accessible via subspace radio, holodecks and replicators, the only thing that truly brings peace and a sense of accomplishment is actually accomplishing something instead of clicking on cows.

7
InclinedPlane 19 hours ago 0 replies      
Star Trek is an interesting example of Science Fiction, as it's actually only quasi science fictional, but in a very fascinating way.

The foundation of speculative fiction is exploring the implications of certain ideas that represent deviations from the way the world works today. (Aside: also, the difference between fantasy and scifi is that the former is teleological while the latter is mechanistic, but that doesn't bear on this discussion.) However, Star Trek is rarely about exploring the implications of the setting of Star Trek. This is because that's not what Star Trek is about. Instead, Star Trek is about creating a setting with certain character archetypes that we grow to care about, a familiar setting, and a world where almost anything can happen. This allows Star Trek to dedicate each episode to vignettes where different individual premises are explored in true scifi fashion.

In short, Star Trek is not a scifi series per se it's more of a scifi anthology. The constant aspects of Star Trek (the world, the crew, the ship, and the associated technology) are just stage setting that enable and make more meaningful individual stories from the anthology.

8
xiaoma 2 hours ago 0 replies      
>All of the episodes involving Jake's incipient writer-hood (besides being pretty weaksauce in general)...

The most critically acclaimed episode of the entire 7 seasons and my personal favorite was about Jake becoming a writer.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Visitor_%28Star_Trek:_Deep_...

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warfangle 22 hours ago 3 replies      
I /just/ finished re-watching "Past Tense" last night - a two-episode arc where Sisko, Dax, and Bashir get stuck in 2024 San Francisco.

Everyone poor is isolated into ghettos - those without ID, those with no job, those with mental illness. They aren't allowed to leave, and thugs rob people of their ration cards all the time.

It's hard (but possible) to see this kind of future in the US. What struck me about the arc was the complete lack of mention of the constitution - had it been suspended? why? I mean, this is only set 29 years after it aired.

All communication is semi-internet, but done over channels - like cable tv. The user interface for it looks like the graphics used in "Who Wants to be a Millionaire?". The internet wasn't quite commercialized, yet - that would come the year after air. But we already had BBS' and other connectivity. Surely the writers worked on some sort of network at their office.

We also already had user interfaces more interactive than what they showed - giant desk-size consoles, a 5" monochrome screen and a series of menu options. Is this what people thought of computers, even in 1994?

The entire premise seemed to be 24th-century Federation, but regressed ~200 years -- instead of present-day, progressed 30 years.

10
mhurron 23 hours ago 4 replies      
People are wasting time in Star Trek all the time, more so in the Next Generation spinoffs than in the Original Series. DS9 probably showed the most time wasting of them all.

Quarks Bar? Those aren't business meetings. Those holodeck/holosuite episodes? They weren't there for training. Picard is always reading or trying to read a book, Sisco does baseball and Janeway paints and whatnot with Da Vinci.

Its just that it is also a TV series. It's just not interesting watching Keiko tweet that O'Brien's favorite food is horribly unhealthy and she hates eating it.

Keeping the show interesting is basically the most important thing for the writers, so its probably best not too look too deeply at what is portrayed as if it is some realistic situation.

11
gee_totes 23 hours ago 1 reply      
I agree with the author that the social subtext on DS9 (and Star Trek in general) was very old fashioned (i.e. no gay crewmen). But to it's credit, DS9 had a very modern political subtext.

DS9 was a show set in space dealing with an occupied peoples that suffered decades of repression and were trying to regain their sovereignty. The show was filmed as the first Intifada and Oslo peace process happened in the real world, and I feel the a major part of the series arc is about Israel/Palestine. I have not seen a show on TV since that attempts to have a smart political discussion about this issue.

12
noblethrasher 21 hours ago 2 replies      
At some point, there will be a generation whose entire life history, from cradle to grave, will be documented online.

Soon thereafter, the archives containing all of that data will be made public.

At that point, I think it's plausible that people will adopt radically different attitudes towards online sharing. By the 23rd century personal logs would tend to stay more personal, parents would think more carefully about putting their child's life-story into the public domain, and willfully living in social silos may come to be seen as pathetically parochial.

13
narag 23 hours ago 1 reply      
War is what I found more anachronistic in most sci-fi. And I believe it works as a justification: showing advanced civilizations at war makes us forget the shame that we're still primitive enough to kill one another in highly organized ways. It's always been like that, it always will. Really?
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daedalus_j 22 hours ago 1 reply      
I always assumed this was because in the Star Trek universe people were freed from a lot of the drudgery by the systems, and used the time to go do the interesting things that they wanted to do.

I suppose it's because I see reddit and facebook as a weird form of escapism from reality. I know that when I don't have any pressing issues I'm much more likely to sit down and read. reddit/hn is for when I need a quick "don't think about work" break, never for when I have the whole weekend stretching out in front of me.

The utopian dream of Star Trek is a never-ending weekend where _you_ get to decide what's important without being overly concerned that you'll starve to death on Monday.

15
arctangent 22 hours ago 0 replies      
You could argue that a lot of sci-fi isn't really meant to be a description of events in the future: instead it's often a thinly-disguised morality play set in the then-present.
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otakucode 17 hours ago 3 replies      
Star Trek was always a very fascist dictatorship-esque vision of the future. What you wear is dictated by a central authority. "Primitive" cultures are deemed too inferior to be permitted to decide their own future, so it is decided for them by the Federation. Most of the worst anti-human flaws of current time are not simply maintained, they are amplified and made so oppressively constant that they disappear unless you're looking for them. And, as is actually said directly several times, humanity has 'improved' to the point where they are perfectly happy to live with extreme restrictions on even the most mundane freedoms, so long as they are handed down by a militaristic hierarchical power structure.

There is a degree of limitation imposed on anyone trying to create popular entertainment. You can't be too imaginative. There are many aspects of human society that modern people believe are 'natural' and endemic to human nature, even though even cursory glances at history show those exact things to not only be 'not natural', but exceedingly bizarre. If you line up the social mores and values and the like of every culture that we know has ever existed, you can spot things which are common to all cultures, and you can spot things that are strange aberrations that emerged and eventually went away. And, you can see several aspects of our culture that are so diametrically opposed to the common components of every culture ever that it's very foolish to imagine that our wholly unique take on the matter will endure for long.

Science Fiction is fascinating, but often disappointing when presented for a popular audience. For a popular audience, you can't question their basic assumptions. You would not get too far presenting a decentralized society which understands that centralized control of power is a guarantee of abuse and tragedy. You can't show a society where sex is used as a basic social interaction. And a society where eating is treated as stigmatized and for-marriage-only as many see sex today would simply be confusing (even though there are tribes which adopted exactly this practice, believing eating around others to be inherently extremely shameful, something only to be shared with someone you are married to).

And, if the creators look at history and they see the aesthetic of military organizations doing a lot, it makes sense that they would presume that in the future all of the 'important' stuff would be handed over to militaristic agencies. That smacks of a complete lack of understanding of WHY military agencies are structured in the way they are. The military does not adhere to rigorous discipline because that is an effective way to accomplish general human endeavors. They do it because committing violence against other human beings is extremely difficult to get human beings to do. And when they do it, they are torn apart with post-traumatic stress disorders, depression, anxiety, and all sorts of negative effects. In order to be able to overcome the conscious brains prohibition on violence, soldiers must be trained so that their muscle memory can kill before their conscious mind can prevent them from doing it. And sticking to a simple routine with no allowance for individual diversity and the like makes it easiest to continue functioning in traumatic situations. These techniques don't work in any other human endeavor at all. They are exclusively useful for the purpose of getting human beings to kill other human beings. That is certainly an arguably useful thing (another topic entirely), but the techniques do not extend to non-soldiers.

Humans function very poorly in situations where their freedom is significantly hindered. This is why there has never been a successful dictatorship or fascist regime that lasted. People naturally, even subconsciously, resist being controlled. And people put in control of others suffer just as many negative psychological effects as those they dominate. The reasoning, or sensibility, of the rules do not seem to matter. Whether you are preventing someone from drinking a bottle of poison, or forbidding them from considering an alternative political ideology, the result is the same. On the societal scale, restriction leads to self destructive behavior, gang behavior, and eventually revolution. We see this in prisons, we see it in restrictive nations, etc. The same pattern repeats over and over again, and mostly people take away 'oh well, that wouldn't happen if the people involved were better people' or 'that wouldn't happen if the rules were better'. It would. It always would. No system, no matter how complex, can possibly account for human behavior.

Anyhow, older scifi is at least slightly better than modern. Watch a modern scifi show. See how many episodes follow this pattern: 'Smart' character has idea. 'Not smart' but intuitive character warns that the idea might be dangerous. 'Smart' character ignores the warning, and leads everyone into lethal danger. A character, usually military, follows his gut and saves the day.

You'll find it difficult to find any modern scifi that does not fit this formula. The hero is always the person who is "reasonable" by ignoring reason, and who refuses to carefully consider the situation, just going with their gut. And, of course, pretty much every single scifi show presents the military as the savior of all humanity. I especially loved watching the first episode of that new terrible show 'Terra Nova'. They go back in time to 'start over' and right all the wrong choices humanity made. This time they're not going to screw it up. Oh, and how is this announced? By an unelected military god-king who controls every facet of the lives of every person there. Right, off to a roaring start, throwing away all that 'democracy' hoo-ha and giving all control to people whose training was designed solely to teach them to kill most effectively when needed.

17
DannoHung 19 hours ago 1 reply      
Presumably the new Star Trek universe introduced with the Abrams film can allow for some of this cruft to be broken off.

I still think it's kinda charming that people read the classics in the future though. I mean, I don't always read high falutin' books, but I try to read something from the English cannon every once in a while.

Also, you have to consider that since they have replicators, why not read on a real book? You can just toss it in the replicator whenever you want and get a fresh copy when you sit down to read.

18
prawn 16 hours ago 3 replies      
Has any (mainstream) sci-fi besides Wall-E shown a future where laziness and preoccupation with the mundane is the norm?
19
brudgers 21 hours ago 1 reply      
I read "Star Trek" and thought of the show with female aliens wearing push-up bras and a computer with large blinking lights.

Man, I'm feeling old.

20
mathattack 21 hours ago 1 reply      
All Science Fiction writers miss big trends. Asimov missed computers. Whoops! This makes it all the more impressive when they do hit it. And the greatest science fiction renders technology irrelevant. When Star Trek broke racial stereotypes and attacked bigotry - that was a cultural message.
21
bluekeybox 20 hours ago 0 replies      
When it comes to retro-futurism, I'm having a hard time finding a more uncannily accurate past prediction than this one by Andy Warhol: "In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes."
28
Fast enough VMs in fast enough time tratt.net
203 points by ltratt  1 day ago   30 comments top 7
1
haberman 23 hours ago 5 replies      
> RPython badges itself as a meta-tracing system, meaning that the user's end program isn't traced directly (which is what Figure 1 suggests), but rather the interpreter itself is traced.

Isn't that exactly what would happen if you wrote an interpreter in any language with a tracing VM (ie. LuaJIT)? How is writing an interpreter in RPython better than writing one with LuaJIT? RPython makes you insert these hints to the trace compiler (can_enter_jit, jit_merge_point) about when to start/stop running a trace, does this buy you anything? If I had to guess, I'd suspect that this is actually a net loss because you have to guess ahead-of-time where it would make sense to start tracing. This sort of guessing is notoriously hard to do. An implementation like LuaJIT automatically decides when to start tracing based on run-time behavior, which seems like a more robust approach.

The one thing I do find very interesting about RPython is how it subsets a dynamic language such that types can be statically analyzed. I always wondered whether this was possible and what kind of restrictions you'd have to enforce. It's great to see an actual example of this -- it will be very instructive to anyone trying to do a similar thing.

But as far as using RPython as a "meta-tracing system," I'm not seeing what's ground-breaking here. I'd bet 50 cents that writing an interpreter in LuaJIT will be faster than writing it in RPython. And if I'm wrong about that, I'd bet 50 more cents that the reason RPython wins is because it's statically analyzable, not because of anything that's unique about its "meta-tracing system." I'm not sure that term really means anything.

2
sjwright 1 day ago 2 replies      
This is the most interesting thing I've read on hacker news for months. And that's despite its subject matter being way beyond my skill level. I actually understand how a tracing JIT works now.
3
sb 23 hours ago 1 reply      
While I find it good that the article explicitly addresses issues with trace-based compilation (usually this is not the case), a completely fair account needs to present the additional memory requirements for using the PyPy tool chain. Quite recently, somebody here has addressed this by mentioning that he does not really care for all the performance speedup he gets, if the memory requirements become outlandish at the same time.

It would also be very informative to know what the differences in automatic memory management techniques are (i.e., what did the previous implementation do?) Personally, I am also interested in interpreter optimization techniques, and it would therefore be interesting to me what--or if at all--the previous VM used for example threaded code or something along these lines.

4
wisty 1 day ago 3 replies      
I'm surprized there's not a PyPy version of Ruby. _why's unholy showed it's trivial to compile Ruby into Python (in many cases). It shouldn't be too hard (famous last words) to make a Ruby VM with PyPy. If they don't like the idea, they could make a RPython <-> RRuby translator, and port the whole thing to RRuby.

Yes, I've heard about Rubinous (the Ruby equivalent to PyPy), but it doesn't have the resources.

5
j_s 1 day ago 0 replies      
"What RPython allows one to do is profoundly different to the traditional route. In essence, one writes an interpreter and gets a JIT for free. I suggest rereading that sentence again: it fundamentally changes the economics of language implementation for many of us. To give a rough analogy, it is like moving from manual memory management to automatic garbage collection."

(RPython being the foundation of PyPy.)

6
codebaobab 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Squeak Smalltalk bootstrapped itself (back in 1996) by implementing its virtual machine in Slang, a subset of Smalltalk that can essentially be pretty-printed into C.

Back to the future: the story of Squeak, a practical Smalltalk written in itself. http://www.vpri.org/pdf/tr1997001_backto.pdf

Its a neat twist that RPython is taking the same engine that optimizes the VM to JIT code that runs on the VM.

7
iskander 1 day ago 1 reply      
Very cool article. I have to admit I'm a little frightened of the bulk and complexity of the RPython translation pipeline. I'm not happy about the prospect of waiting an hour to learn my code runs afoul of poorly documented type inference logic. Perhaps when PyPy stabilizes the team can trim back some of the abandoned paths and speed up translate.py?
29
Turn.js - The page flip effect for HTML5 turnjs.com
207 points by blasten  3 days ago   79 comments top 31
1
georgemcbay 3 days ago 2 replies      
This is cool and I don't mean to disparage the work that went into it, but at the same time I hope nobody actually uses it because just plain old vertical scrolling web pages are way more practically usable.
2
toast76 3 days ago 1 reply      
The reason why flash is (was) such a horrible horrible thing for the web is only partially because it was a shitty shitty plugin.

The real reason is things like this. Just because you CAN doesn't mean you SHOULD.

3
rorrr 3 days ago 2 replies      
Emulating old paradigms with the new technology is one of the biggest fails of UI designers in general.

Why not got a step further, force your app users to walk to a virtual book store in a 3D world before they can start reading.

4
antidaily 3 days ago 2 replies      
Solid effect but not a fan of how it breaks the back button.
5
ceejayoz 3 days ago 1 reply      
Why do people put QR codes on websites (the credits pane)?
6
shocks 3 days ago 2 replies      
Nice effect, but the fact the page becomes blurry when I have my mouse over the "next page" button is annoying. I have to move the mouse away while reading and back when I want to turn the page. I'd prefer to just not move the mouse and roll a scroll wheel. (Actually, that's a lie - I'd rather not touch the mouse at all and just press j.)
7
dendory 3 days ago 0 replies      
Am I the only one who finds this highly annoying? It seems almost every news site is now starting to serve some advanced layout, especially when they detect an iPad, involving this kind of horizontal scrolling. Invariably it's longer to load, breaks half the time, and breaks the back button.
8
moe 3 days ago 0 replies      
Wow, that's the best impl I've ever seen of this effect. It looks and feels very realistic in chrome.
9
NanoWar 3 days ago 1 reply      
The font on the "page" gets blurry when the corner becomes clickable (at least on my machine, and it uses a ton of resources).
10
kyberias 3 days ago 0 replies      
This really highlights the font rendering problems (blurriness) of current browsers when using HW accelerated CSS.
11
orcadk 3 days ago 0 replies      
As there are lots of comments lamenting the fact that anyone might actually use this, let me give my perspective. I currently work for, and have been since the start of this whole online 3D-pageflip catalog business started back in ~2006.

To start out - I hate the pageflip effect. In the beginning, clients would drop the jaw to the floor when they saw the effect. They'd go into a coma when they saw you could drag the corners. We didn't have to do any sales beyond that - the effect alone sold it and the catalogs spread like wildfire. Sorry.

As time progressed, the pageflip effect alone didn't really cut it, especially as competition appeared. Since then we, as others, have gone in different directions, usually in the form of offering different addon modules, integration, etc. As time went on, the effect got diluted as well - we no longer offer the user the ability to actually drag the corners - usability testing proved that to be bad and cumbersome to use, instead you only get the option to flip the page by click big "Next/Previous" bars next to the catalogs. The effect is only seen while the pages flip automatically after an arrow click.

So why use the format at all? As many others say, normal scrolling is much more web friendly. However, there are billions of catalogs out there today, and millions more produced each and every day. Companies have hundreds of thousands of product manuals lying around, and they'd like to show them in a lightweight format that doesn't require you to download the 200mb PDF.

There are many retail chains that still send physical catalogs to your physical mail boxes each and every day. These catalogs are usually produced by print agencies on a weekly basis, and to also produce the same content in a webfriendly manner, that'd require tonnes of extra work. Instead, they can utilize what they're already producing and just put it online in an interesting format to read, for the common user.

To sum up - the flip effect was overused, but has now found a decent niche where it can be used. Lots of material warrant the format, even though it's not the optimal one.

I think turn.js looks very interesting. I have a boatload of catalogs running on Flash today, and I'd love to change that.

12
FuzzyDunlop 3 days ago 1 reply      
It looks snazzy, but the example does a brilliant job of defeating the object. It works with flipping pages to see more content, but then you have overflowing content on one page that requires vertical scrolling* to see it all.

I've never come across a book that requires me to do something other than turn the page to read more.

*This is also broken (presumably in an attempt to prevent scrollbars appearing), and requires a click and drag to work normally.

13
nodata 3 days ago 1 reply      
I hate things like this. Take the iPad: to turn a page, I have to wave my hand over the screen, obscuring the text in process. For no reason beyond familiarity.

There is no other benefit. It's a step backwards.

14
goblin89 3 days ago 0 replies      
Neat! It reminds of Google's book http://www.20thingsilearned.com/ without hard covers and with only corner active. (I once had an idea of making a reusable lib based on their book's code at http://code.google.com/p/20thingsilearned/, but never finished.)
15
nazar 3 days ago 0 replies      
Cool man, great implementation!

Several years ago I had to buy flash version of this for some 70pounds or so.

16
anonhacker 3 days ago 1 reply      
Overall very nice, there is some weird page folding going on when you act weird but probably just some small quirks.

On a side note, please make your own arrow on the corner of that front page of the book. I think almost everybody knows where that's from...

17
paintAcquaint 3 days ago 0 replies      
This thing crawls to the next page on my iphone 4. Is this really a good alternative to flash if the only machines fast enough to handle this animation smoothly already have the horse-power to handle flash?
18
stdbrouw 3 days ago 1 reply      
Nitpick: don't call an animation lightweight when it's half the size of the entire jQuery library.
19
smiler 3 days ago 1 reply      
Performance on IPad 1 is abysmal
20
brador 3 days ago 0 replies      
Good stuff, Add some shading for a 3d effect, looks "2D"/flat.

Vertical would also be awesome (think notepad [of paper])...

21
earle 3 days ago 0 replies      
Lot of flickering and flashing under Safari
23
miles_matthias 3 days ago 0 replies      
I hope the Kindle Cloud Reader uses this. One of the things I like about iBooks is the turn animation that makes it feel so familiar.
24
daniel_iversen 3 days ago 0 replies      
Wow, this is really good (and the best example of page turning I've seen done in HTML+js) well done!

Wonder how stable and smooth it is with large HTML pages, do we know?

The back button stuff you could make work with the html5 history API, correct?

25
johanbrook 3 days ago 0 replies      
Also check out Boardflip. A Flipboard style interaction implemented in JS (experimental).

http://joecritchley.com/demos/boardflip/

26
cmer 3 days ago 0 replies      
It doesn't seem to load on my iPad. Works in Chrome, however.
27
pjtaipale 2 days ago 0 replies      
This is so cool. It allows me to identify stupid web sites immediately, and never return to them. I could probably even create a browser plugin that warns me before I enter such sites that want to apply a broken paper paradigm to the web.
28
gumba 1 day ago 0 replies      
Nha! no torn effect :-(
29
lbotos 3 days ago 0 replies      
Is that the Amazon Arrow? It'd be cool (By my standards) if it was similar, but it looks like a straight rip. :(
30
Kevindish 3 days ago 0 replies      
Works really good on iPad 2!
31
weixiyen 3 days ago 1 reply      
it's glitchy and flickers. chrome latest on PC
30
Canonical will no longer fund Kubuntu kde.org
197 points by hotice  2 days ago   82 comments top 11
1
andrewcooke 2 days ago 7 replies      
"[...] a regularly released community-friendly distro with a strong KDE focus. There is no other major distro out there that matches that description [...]"

Then WTF is OpenSuse? http://www.opensuse.org/en/

This makes me really mad. OpenSuse is a major distro and has supported KDE for years. It's not so popular in the USA, but is pretty big in Europe (I have used it for years and it rocks; so does KDE). I don't see how the quote above is excusable. Before reading that you had my sympathy, but if you're going to trash-talk the rest of the community then good riddance.

[I just noticed some people are actively downvoting this comment. Just how far does mindless Ubuntu fanboyism and intolerance of alternatives go?]

2
tzury 2 days ago 1 reply      
Following the Unix philosophy Write programs that do one thing and do it well -- perhaps we can assume that Canonical is willing to maintain one OS, and do it well.
3
ChuckMcM 1 day ago 0 replies      
This comment stood out for me in that article:

If it does then we need people to step up and take the initiative in doing the tasks that are often poorly supported by the community process. ISO testing, for example, is a long, slow, thankless task, and it is hard to get volunteers for it. We can look at ways of reducing effort from what we do such as scrapping the alternate CD or automating KDE SC packaging.

This is the biggest single challenge that free software has to over come if it every hopes to challenge proprietary versions. Testing, and verifying bug fixes, and bugs, and documenting. Its not the 'fun' work of building a distro, its not the 'glorious' work of building a distro, its not something that makes people want to sit at your table during a 'con.

But the reality is the for most software products the number of people who are 'users' and the number of people who are 'developers' are generally very different, with successful products having many more users than developers. Users have no option when they hit a problem or an incompatibility but to stop using, that is their only choice. They aren't going to learn C, they aren't going to try to fetch and build a newer version of a kernel module, all they really can do is try something else.

Everything else pales in comparison to that problem.

4
markokocic 2 days ago 2 replies      
I don't understand what is the problem.
I installed Ubuntu multiple times just to uninstall Gnome and install KDE as a first step after install. Never bothered to actually try KUbuntu.

Is this method of installing KDE still supported, or they are dropping support for KDE completely.

5
lawnchair_larry 2 days ago 0 replies      
That's a shame. I never liked KDE since I first tried it about 15 years ago. Unity and Gnome 3 are so bad that on my latest ubuntu install, I decided to see if KDE was fixed yet. It's now my primary desktop environment. There are a few issues with it, but I felt like it was far better than the alternatives.
6
arguesalot 2 days ago 1 reply      
The reason i prefer xubuntu is the fact that Kubuntu is going the way of ubuntu by investing heavily on eyecandy, touch-like interfaces and excessive UI bloat. KDE seems to be the best overall platform for development, but the interface is trying too much to be everything. I think they should reconsider falling back to a simple clean default desktop, because they are doing a disservice to the developers of thousands of great KDE apps.
7
puzzler314 2 days ago 10 replies      
I've recently switched Linux Mint as a result of Canonical's new focus on eye candy rather than functionality (I couldn't take the new interface in Ubuntu). Have others gone the same way or is there another distribution I should look at?
8
brainsqueezer 1 day ago 0 replies      
I liked that mix o Debian base + latest KDE + some Ubuntu graphical extras (printer, package update, etc). KDE needs it's own distro focused on a great KDE user experience. Sorry for Mandriva and others but for me I need something based on Debian. My real opinion is that KDE should make itself a distro to get a good vertical integration.
9
jebblue 1 day ago 0 replies      
Canonical should consider dropping Unity and getting the Gnome people to drop Gnome 3 and then get them to come out with Gnome 4 based on Gnome 2 with some very small Ubuntu twists. Oh right, that would be all Ubuntu versions up to 11 which were successful.
10
amirf 2 days ago 1 reply      
It's always sad to see a project failing. There are other alternatives, both to a KDE linux distro (i.e: openSUSE) and gnome/ubuntu (mint being my favorite).

It's a business decision I understand, they want to shift focus completely to ubuntu, especially since they are losing a huge user-base over their last gnome3 releases.

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zerathul 2 days ago 2 replies      
really, what's the problem with installing kde on ubuntu/ubuntu server?
       cached 9 February 2012 16:11:01 GMT