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Six-Legged Giant Finds Secret Hideaway, Hides For 80 Years npr.org
1087 points by MaysonL  1 day ago   167 comments top 25
petenixey 1 day ago 1 reply      
Respect to the little feller for making it out of that egg. Any animal that starts life having to unglue their feet from the bottom of a vacuum-packed, delivery case is a winner.
tpatke 1 day ago 3 replies      
That's an amazing story. This insect was pretty lucky to live on the coolest rock climbing crag I have ever seen...which requires a special permit to climb [1]. I think I would have quite happily joined that "research" team.

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

ars 1 day ago 3 replies      
That's an awesome story!

Initially I didn't like the genetic bottleneck created by just having one pair (i.e. that they should go back and get more now that they know how to care for them, perhaps as a swap) - but then I realized the original source on the island was probably a single individual, so they are all probably virtually clones anyway.

Once they have enough they should sell some - tons of people would be delighted to keep them as pets, and it would remove the risk of having them in just one location.

juliano_q 1 day ago 5 replies      
This story gave me a weird feeling and reminded me of the Dodo (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dodo). This animal was extincted by man only 83 years of it was discovered. I am glad we have will/technology enough today to try to repair this kind of mistakes.
xbryanx 1 day ago 2 replies      
Pics of Ball's Pyramid from Bryden Allen, one of the first people to summit this wicked place:
vl 21 hours ago 0 replies      
Wouldn't it be wonderful if this article was titled "Giant insect, presumed extinct for 80 years, rediscovered, reproduces in the zoo"?
theon144 1 day ago 0 replies      
>"Eve became very, very sick. Patrick ... worked every night for a month desperately trying to cure her. ... Eventually, based on gut instinct, Patrick concocted a mixture that included calcium and nectar and fed it to his patient, drop by drop, as she lay curled up in his hand."

They look just about damn disgusting, but the mental image produced by that paragraph was just so... heart-warming.

derrida 1 day ago 2 replies      
Any HN'ers in Sydney with a spare Yacht want to go check out Ball's pyramid? I'll cook. :-)
kpanghmc 1 day ago 3 replies      
From the Wikipedia article on Dryococelus australis [1]

"The ultimate goal is to produce a large population for re-introduction to Lord Howe Island if the project to eradicate the invasive rats is successful."

I wonder what the 347 residents of Lord Howe Island think about this? It's an amazing story and all, but I sure wouldn't want a bunch of these insects introduced into my neighborhood.

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

ramblerman 1 day ago  replies      
"Step one, therefore, would be to mount an intensive (and expensive) rat annihilation program. Residents would, no doubt, be happy to go rat-free, ..."

I despise rats. Yet I find it disconcerting that the author just brushes this off as a triviality. We are perfectly happy saving one species by wiping out another.

leke 1 day ago 2 replies      
The neighbouring Howe Island, is pure island porn. Ideal, steady annual climate, no venomous or stinging life forms. There aren't even sharks in the daytime waters.
verelo 14 hours ago 0 replies      
I love stories like this! I can understand how difficult these guys will be to introduce back into their original habitat...there will have to be extensive investigation into if they will hurt the local economy (i.e. will they eat plans that people sell for profit or use for food). Australia hasnt had a good history of introducing or removing animals (take those rats as an example, and then consider the Cain toad..not cool)

Just imagine how fulfilling it felt as the first insect escaped from its vacuum pack...serious wow moment i imagine. I wish i was that valuable to this world...

kayhi 1 day ago 2 replies      
Clickable wiki page for those that want to an image of the insect:


threepointone 1 day ago 10 replies      
This is a fascinating story, but I must ask - does this belong on hacker news? Please, I ask with no intended malice.
lysol 1 day ago 0 replies      
The beetle mentioned in that article is not the same insect as in this article.
lionhearted 1 day ago 4 replies      
> The important thing, the scientists thought, was to get a few of these insects protected and into a breeding program. That wasn't so easy. The Australian government didn't know if the animals on Ball's Pyramid could or should be moved. There were meetings, studies, two years passed, and finally officials agreed to allow four animals to be retrieved. Just four.

> When the team went back to collect them, it turned out there had been a rock slide on the mountain, and at first they feared that the whole population had been wiped out.

This is why you just do things, bureaucrats be damned. Better to beg for forgiveness than ask for permission.

sitkack 1 day ago 0 replies      
Another option which they probably explored was creating more habitat for them on Ball's Pyramid. Maybe somewhere far away from the original area or increase the cricket supply?

I do not envy being in that situation, where a mistake seals the fate of a pretty awesome bug.

theklub 1 day ago 0 replies      
That is amazing. I'm glad they were found.
malandrew 1 day ago 0 replies      
How does the mobile version have photo of the island but not have a photo of the insect? Quite absurd. "Pics or didn't happen"
tommypjr 1 day ago 0 replies      
holy cow batman, am i happy to get out of there!
afterburner 1 day ago 0 replies      
My takeaway: Ball's Pyramid is one cool looking island.
gcb 1 day ago 0 replies      
Start up idea #769

Something that annihilates both mice AND giant insects

thespace 1 day ago 0 replies      
WHOA!! Look at those HUGE eyebrows!!
haldean 1 day ago 0 replies      
Warning: large, up-close image of creepy-crawly.
jimrandomh 1 day ago 6 replies      
This seems to me like a case of empathy gone awry. All that work and effort to bring back a species of insects? There is no balance to preserve; they've been gone for almost a century. Those resources could be spent preserving human life.
Raspberri PI Release Announcement raspberrypi.org
528 points by aespinoza  2 days ago   255 comments top 60
jacquesm 2 days ago 4 replies      
I love it how people are pissing on this as though it is a failure. Really, unbelievable. Here is a group of dedicated guys and girls that work their asses off to produce a $25 computer with more punch than you'd ever think possible for that amount of money.

Not only do they deliver, they are sold out in absolute record time with the sites simply collapsing under the load.

I'd chalk this one up as a success, definitely not a failure and I fully expect the second (and subsequent) runs of the RaspberryPi to have a similar effect. Kudos to Eben, Liz and the rest of the team, you guys really rock and I hope that you won't let the sourpusses ruin your fantastic day for you.

I've watched the RaspberryPi saga closely from day 1 and I'm very very happy to see it come to fruit ;)

cicero 2 days ago 2 replies      
This is a very inexpensive product produced by a charity. How can they afford what it would take for a launch like this to run flawlessly? I work for a non-profit that does all it can to provide a high quality service at a below market price, so I have sympathy for these guys. If you want first class service from day one, expect to pay a little more than $35. Even Apple with their high profit margins has had difficulty with launches for high demand products.
lancefisher 2 days ago 5 replies      
Fulfillment by Amazon would be awesome for this. Free two-day shipping and the site wouldn't go down.

Seriously, you send them a big box, and they mail out all the little boxes. Check it out: http://www.amazonservices.com/content/fulfillment-by-amazon....

fmstephe 2 days ago 1 reply      
This reaction is really surprising to me. The Raspberry Pi charity was set up in order to produce a product that could be used as an education tool. They have managed a spectacular feat, that has been 6 years in the making. This is a very exciting development but not just from a technical point of view. The Raspberry Pi represents the idea that computers are interesting to us intrinsically, that there is real value in providing a platform that allows for the development and satisfaction of a crucial intellectual curiosity. The true value of the Raspberry Pi will not be found in our mailboxes in the next few months. It will be in the possibility that the next generation will have something to hack on that prioritises learning and discovery over walled gardens.

Sorry for the preachy tone (it's not intended), I am sure that most people feel the same way (or something similar), but it feels like we have lost some perspective while getting up at 6am to order some electronics over the internet. This is a great day. (I have a son and the Raspberry Pi feels like the most exciting project I have seen to date)

egypturnash 2 days ago 3 replies      
Man, I looked at Twitter, replied to someone, and went off to do something else like ONE MINUTE before the "hey you can buy the pi now" tweet. Twenty minutes later both the people ready to sell me one were totally swamped.

Guess I don't get one from the first batch. Woe is me. Somehow I will survive!

You know, as problems for a startup to have go, "demand for your product is so strong the servers selling it go down within twenty minutes" is a PRETTY GOOD PROBLEM.

noonespecial 2 days ago 0 replies      
The production partnerships are encouraging news. Here's hoping my predictions on the Pi being more of a boutique/hobby venture that couldn't meet demand are wrong. I never thought they had much of a chance 10k at a time with weeks in between runs.

Of course, their servers (at the suppliers) seem to be meeting their little digital Gods at the moment. They just went static at the org.

handelaar 2 days ago 5 replies      
And after they spent the past couple of weeks cockily batting away concerns about how they'd handle the traffic load, too. "You're all talking like we don't know what we're doing" is the line I recall being used several times.
scommab 2 days ago 3 replies      
> We are no longer limited to batches of only 10k Raspberry Pis; the Raspberry Pi will now be being built to match demand.

To me this is the key point. No need to fight through the rush tonight, there will enough to go around.

rmk2 2 days ago 3 replies      
I am really disappointed about their choice of distributors. Neither Farnell's nor RS Components subsidiaries in Germany and Austria ship to private individuals, you have to be a corporate buyer in order to be able to order from them. And since they "have" local subsidiaries, the "international" sites of both companies don't ship to either country.

In short: in Germany or Austria, you cannot buy the Raspberry Pi unless you go through an intermediary. This seems to be a really bad choice for a platform aimed at education.

And judging by the Twitter comments, at least (potential) customers in Sweden and the Netherlands have the same problem.



I guess what bothers me is how they don't seem to care too much about not being buyable by private entities in a number of European countries, or how they at least didn't bother to check up-front...

Still, I hope I can get one of the next batches somehow

adaml_623 2 days ago 1 reply      
Given the large amount of worry on this thread about getting one of the first 10000 I'm really looking forwards to seeing hundreds of blog posts and stories about people doing really interesting thing with their hard-fought purchases.

I'm only being half sarcastic. I really would like to see people do cool things with these. And I will be disappointed if it turns out that 9500 of them end up in a drawer after the first weekend.

pavlov 2 days ago 0 replies      
I got an order in this morning at Farnell Finland, and just received an order confirmation by email.

The delivery date is quoted as "week 16", which is mid-April. Oh well.

akavel 2 days ago 2 replies      
On one hand, old wisdom creeps in: "if you really want something done well, do it yourself". But on the other hand, if they happened to fail selling at raspberrypi.com, everyone and his dog would be accusing them of hubris and suggesting they should have relied on "verified distributors".

The only thing I'm a bit sad about, is that probably the distro companies will evade any consequences. And even if they didn't, it would probably hit some random guys and not anyone really responsible for the incompetency.

Edit: I think I would feel some evil (bad, bad me!) satisfaction if R-Pi Foundation would punish the distro corps by not letting them distribute any further batches of R-Pi for as long as possible. But again, that would probably hurt most the common employees, not the management.

TomAnthony 2 days ago 0 replies      
Phoned RS and the hold message is great:

"But you don't have to wait. With our world class system you can be confident you can get what you want when want it. Did you know while you listened to this message you could have placed your order online."

mrpippy 2 days ago 3 replies      
Everyone in the US:

The Raspberry Pi is now listed on Newark/element14 (Farnell's US site): http://www.newark.com/raspberry-pi/raspbrry-pcba/dp/83T1943

It's $35, although there's also a 30 day lead time and a $20 handling fee (because it's shipping directly from the UK).

krelian 2 days ago 3 replies      
I'll admit that I haven't been following this very closely, what makes this product this craze worthy compared to something like the Arduino?
waitwhat 2 days ago 2 replies      
People might have some luck with their telephone ordering

    RS Online: +44 8457 201201
Farnell: +44 8447 111111

(Although I have been on hold with RS for a while now...)

donohoe 2 days ago 3 replies      
What do people plan to use their Raspberry PI for?

Given the nature of HN I'm intrigued to see what unique and innovate ideas people here may have...

DanBC 2 days ago 2 replies      
BBC Radio Four's "Today" programme are talking about Raspberry PI right now. They haven't mentioned server problems yet, or the fact that it's sold out already.


(7:45am Wednesday 29th Feb)

revelation 2 days ago 2 replies      
What a tremendous failure. Why check with your distributors before going live? It's not even the traffic; RS never sold any and for the rare moment that you could get to Farnell, they were already (or always have been) out of stock from minute one.
Jun8 2 days ago 0 replies      
According to their tweet 4m ago, Farnell has already sold out! How people got on the site is a mystery.
X-Istence 2 days ago 1 reply      
The electronics suppliers are not used to this kind of traffic. I remember Ti's website grounding to a halt when I was first in college when they released a new kit for free, and in the past when they have done coupons for half off certain high value items. Interesting side note, Ti for its free samples uses Digikey to process them (same address, same exact boxes, packaging and onetime when I ordered a free sample I got Digikey note rather than a Ti note :P)

The traffic for those websites generally is very low, I can't imagine that they are ready for anything to what they are seeing right now.

I do wish they had also launched with Digikey my favourite electronic parts distributor. Their shipping is always top notch and their service is absolutely fantastic.

jrmg 2 days ago 2 replies      
Curious as to why they chose 6AM UK time to launch. I wonder if RS or Farnell tech staff are actually at work ready to handle the server problems?
TomAnthony 2 days ago 0 replies      
RS on Twitter: https://twitter.com/#!/rselectronics

They tweeted at 6am to link to the page, then not since.

Farnell on Twitter: https://twitter.com/#!/farnellnews

They at least tweeted at 6.30 to say they are trying to fix the problems.

suckerpunch 2 days ago 0 replies      
Man... I currently work in the same company as Ian Livingstone and he promised a couple of us some boards to use in our next project. I hope he comes through. I started off on the Beeb and the ZX Spectrum and it's be great to come full circle 30 years later :D
hinathan 2 days ago 0 replies      
They've used a classic software engineering technique to solve a manufacturing problem " just add an additional abstraction layer. I'm thrilled they'll have more capacity but also a little sad I can't pick a few up at the Jameco will-call desk tomorrow.
xahrepap 2 days ago 1 reply      
Here's what I'm getting from Farnell:

  > Site unavailable
> Our websites are currently unavailable whilst we perform a scheduled system upgrade.

Scheduled? Yeah, if by scheduled they mean "unexpected but seriously needed" then I'll buy in to that. :)

solarmist 2 days ago 1 reply      
From the tweets. "We believe Farnell has sold out already. Blimey."
endlessvoid94 2 days ago 1 reply      
I'm sorry, but I don't know what Raspberri PI is. The site literally doesn't tell me anything about the actual product. I see an image of an arduino-like board -- is that it?

Not being snotty or anything, I just literally can't find any information on the site.

libria 2 days ago 1 reply      
> The $25 Model A has been reworked to include 256MB of RAM " double what we were originally planning to offer

So the extra $10 will only buy you an ethernet and spare USB port now; makes the $35 a harder sell (but not tonight, of course).

polshaw 2 days ago 4 replies      
I can't say I can hold zero blame for the rPi gang on this clusterfuck.. offloading the task was never going to help, it should have been obvious RS/Farnell were not ready- Amazon were the only retailer that could have handled it. But I don't see why they couldn't have handled the orders themselves (Amazon again?).

Apparently someone from RS sales has now said they aren't selling any until the end of the week! How insanely disorganised.

And 10K was also clearly never going to be close-- there were even far more forum members than this. I wouldn't be so grumpy if they didn't make me get up at 6AM for this crap.

unwind 2 days ago 1 reply      
Too late to have someone change the typo in the product's name in the title? It ends with a 'Y', not an 'I'. Aaargh.
ukdm 2 days ago 0 replies      
FYI, if you order through Farnell, the total comes to £31.86 with free delivery. The device is actually £26.55 but then there's VAT to add in the UK.
linker3000 2 days ago 3 replies      
Gosh - this person on ebay ships in 5-6 days and has already sold 28.


/Ya think?

yahelc 2 days ago 0 replies      
I'm a little peeved. I signed up for the email notifications and did the confirmation and everything, and never got the email saying they were opening up for orders. :-/
mrbill 2 days ago 0 replies      
Ordered two from Newark (I'm in the US); the order confirmation email has an Expected Ship Date of 5/10/12.

I've got a BeagleBoard C2 and a BeagleBone to play with until then...

waitwhat 2 days ago 0 replies      
The Farnell product page came up briefly for me: http://uk.farnell.com/raspberry-pi/raspbrry-pcba/sbc-raspber...

(but the servers are still melting, so the buy links weren't working)

ef4 2 days ago 0 replies      
A recurring theme in these comments has been the hassles of doing things like fulfillment (can't use Amazon) and payment-processing (can't use Kickstarter) across national borders.

If you want to build the killer app for the 21st century, figure out how to help people route money and physical objects globally, with all these obnoxious borders abstracted away. ;-)

solarmist 2 days ago 5 replies      
Anyone have a link to the product pages for either of the suppliers? I can only find an "interest in" page.
flannell 2 days ago 0 replies      
Just got a broken CSS site, now says;


Availability: Awaiting Delivery

... so back to work...

solarmist 2 days ago 1 reply      
Both sites slashdotted in under a minute. Nice. No one can say they weren't warned.
illumen 2 days ago 0 replies      
Competition in the computer education space is nice.

OLPC comes with: screen, case, power supply, battery, cam, Source Code, wifi, training, & doesn't require £400 TV that can run code already.

RobertKohr 2 days ago 2 replies      
This all seems like a pricing problem. If you don't have enough product to meet demand, you charge more.

I guess in the end it is worth it though. The amount of hype that surrounds selling out is great.

joejohnson 2 days ago 1 reply      
What cool plans do people have for these if they can get their hands on one?
marklittlewood 2 days ago 0 replies      
I believe in eating your own dog food but it's fine if @Raspberry_Pi use someone else's tech for their ecommerce.
tnajdek 2 days ago 1 reply      
I've just ordered one over the phone, Farnell adds a surcharge so the grand total is a little over £36. Surprisingly no wait time on the phone whatsoever! The number is 08447111111.
ww520 2 days ago 0 replies      
What kind of casing is there for holding the board? It would nice to have a case, like the Marvell wallplug computer.
sowbug 2 days ago 0 replies      
Probably no more than a curiosity, but http://cn.element14.com/jsp/search/productdetail.jsp?id=2081... Farnell's China site) will show you the product page. Even Google Translate seems to be slashdotted, so I'm not going to try to get through that checkout process.
switz 2 days ago 0 replies      
What's the prices in USD (I'm seeing $50.45 from Farnell)? Has anyone from the US officially ordered one? Shipping?
tomdeakin 2 days ago 0 replies      

That's from RS's Twitter feed. Not exactly the praises I'd sing right now.

rjsamson 2 days ago 1 reply      
The hard link that RS had given out on their twitter was here: http://uk.rs-online.com/web/generalDisplay.html?id=raspberry... if anyone wants to keep trying...
locusm 2 days ago 1 reply      
I managed to buy one in Australia, I had it in my cart at about 4:10PM, took till 2 mins ago(5:08PM) to finish checkout. No word if its a backorder or not...
TomAnthony 2 days ago 1 reply      
RS are apparently refusing to sell to private people - business orders only according to several people on Twitter who got through on the phone. Nice job.
w-ll 2 days ago 0 replies      
It seams neither of their distributors where shipping these to the US?
rjsamson 2 days ago 0 replies      
It looks like the RS site is coming back online - but their Raspberry Pi product page still only says "register to express an interest"...
zvrba 2 days ago 4 replies      
Maybe I'm clueless, but why would you order one if you already have a PC?
RLG_RLG 2 days ago 2 replies      
I'm sure they will be on ebay -- for $300
steeves 2 days ago 2 replies      
Was anyone here able to order?
slash-dot 2 days ago 0 replies      
What's the max resolution on the gpu?
Kaostricks 2 days ago 0 replies      
Waiting for this.
PKeeble 2 days ago 2 replies      
The one thing you can say about incompetence is that its ignorant of its own condition.

This does not bode well to the quality of the product itself, the lack of basic skills and forethought is frightening. After all that "we know what we are doing" talk I guess we can now point and laugh.

Dear Github, please fix the Watch-Button paulasmuth.com
465 points by paulasmuth  4 days ago   115 comments top 53
necubi 4 days ago 7 replies      
Really, the issue is that the news feed is broken. Even following a relatively small number of people and projects (10 and 29 respectively) my news feed is dominated by the many updates (issues and commits) from a couple of popular projects. The result is that things I might be more interested in from smaller projects are effectively invisible.

Facebook has done a really good job solving the problems of information overload and would provide a good model. The most important step is to group updates from each project. Right now half of my news feed is comments on a single repository. Those should take up only one or two slots.

The next step is to filter according to some metric of "interestingness." This is more challenging, but clearly solvable using machine learning (let us tag posts as interesting or not interesting to train the classifier).

I'd love to see GitHub make the news feed more useful. It's currently the most unpleasant part of an otherwise nearly perfect experience.

bretthopper 4 days ago 12 replies      
The solution is pretty simple: GitHub needs a "Fav" or "Star" button. Basically just a bookmark.

There's a lot of projects I want to remember but don't necessarily care about the daily activity.

And no, browser bookmarks aren't good enough. A nice faved/starred page would show stats and maybe last commit/activity. That's it.

jakubw 4 days ago 1 reply      
There is a bunch of ways to distinguish important updates from the others. First, prioritize updates from projects I am or have contributed to. Second, updates from people close to me in the social graph (i.e. the people I watch on GitHub or people who belong to the same organization as I do). The frequency and size of updates should matter too - an usually silent project with a big update should have an advantage over noisy projects. Filtering out typical bugs (or commits/PRs fixing them) from the top priority ones should be fairly easy too - all the information is already there (comments, labels). Finally, you can go insane and start analyzing the actual code or even use NLP for commit messages/pull requests/bugs and make decisions based on that (for instance, prioritize projects that use similar tech as I do, changes that mention me or touch the code I've created or touched recently).

No need to turn off anything, just make it smart.

StavrosK 4 days ago 5 replies      
Why do you care so much about how many watchers you have? I don't understand the point, certainly not to go as far as bunching commits and pushing at night to keep the watchers happy...
benofsky 4 days ago 1 reply      
This is really a problem with Github's news feed, rather than the watch button. Facebook had this problem a few years ago but put a lot of work into aggregating similar stories, etc.
metabrew 4 days ago 0 replies      
Yep i use watch as bookmark, and as such the feed is useless. There needs to be a Star/Fav thing, and leave watching for important stuff.

I've often wanted to write and broadcast a note or short msg (not a commit), that is deemed more important than a commit, about project goings-on and updates. Would be good to announce properly when there are serious changes or new features. Perhaps done with tags, but it needs to be prominence some how, it is all lost in the commit feed atm.

xyzzyb 4 days ago 0 replies      
I'd rather see the watch button replaced with a Google Reader style interface for projects. Let me see that Rails has 97 unread commits, Twitter Bootstrap 32 unread, and little forgotten project has 2.

"Little Forgotten Project has two updates? Cool! I'd forgotten all about that neat idea, let's see what they've been up to."

freshhawk 4 days ago 2 replies      
It's already been mentioned but this use case for watching a project is called a bookmark.

I watch projects where I actually care about and want to see the changes. Because I'm doing actual useful things and the social aspects of github help me do that.

I'm not on github to engage in some kind of social network circle jerk popularity contest to collect the most "watchers". I know a lot of people are and it makes them feel really important to follow a bunch of projects and pretend they're "in the know" or part of the project just because they clicked the watch button.

But every site doesn't need it's own different kind of bookmarks, that's a stupid waste of time. Other startups do it to drive viral growth or to "increase engagement" or some other BS reason. Github drives growth by being useful to developers and other collaborators. As soon as they start sacrificing power for people collaborating on code projects in order to satisfy the fanboys they risk losing their primary draw, the good projects that use github because it's useful.

I doubt this will happen, although I can definitely see why they would add an in-site bookmark to appease this crowd since they apparently don't know how to use client side bookmarks.

grayrest 4 days ago 1 reply      
I would really appreciate it if notifications were aggregated by thread and updates by project.

I generally only care that a thread/project was updated. If I'm interested, I'll go in and look at what's new. Letting me know more than once just makes it harder to actually keep track of things you care about.

joedev 4 days ago 0 replies      
This is what happens when collaboration tools are turned on their head and used as as popularity contest.
kmfrk 4 days ago 0 replies      
I have never used my dashboard, because I watch so many repos. I use it as a bookmark function, but it'd be great if they replaced it with "bookmark" with a default option of not "following" the updates.

There are a lot of interesting projects, but I only want to follow those immediately relevant to what I am doing.

city41 4 days ago 2 replies      
Just to play devil's advocate: this does force people to be more mindful of their commits. This is a good thing. Each commit should be a cohesive, logical change to the codebase. Such that if the change is later undesired, simply reverting one commit should completely remove it. This is very good practice for when you use git at your day job. In this scenarios, your 'watchers' are your coworkers, and they will rightfully get upset if you clog the repo with a bazillion haphazard commits.
pwim 4 days ago 0 replies      
I don't use the watch or follow feature of github, as it seemed kind of pointless to me. The main strength of github is collaboration, not discovery. If it were up to me, I'd remove the more SNS like actions as they just seem like an afterthought.
mikeocool 4 days ago 1 reply      
Yeah, agreed. I thought for a while that the Watch button would be a good way to keep track of what's going with open source projects I care about. But I've found I pretty much ignore the news feed completely, there's just way too much noise there.
Eleopteryx 4 days ago 0 replies      
I don't even really look at my feed. There's way too much going on in it for me to really keep track. I basically "watch" repos to bookmark them. "This might be useful in a project at some point; let me make sure I can find it later." Currently watching 92 repositories.
jon6 4 days ago 0 replies      
So I began to aggregate my commits into batches to push in the middle of the night. Unfortunately, that really slows me down.
--end quote--
How is pushing a bunch of commits that much different from pushing each commit? Slows him down.. what??
atjoslin 4 days ago 2 replies      
the news feed should just bundle together news from one user.
ryanto 4 days ago 0 replies      
I wouldn't mind seeing a version of a the Github dashboard where my feed was grouped by projects.

I don't think having a timeline where you see all commits of all projects sorted by time really helps. The commits in project A don't effect the commits in project B, so they do not need to be viewed in sequence or relation to each other.

Let me have a dashboard where I can see all my projects then some recent/popular issues and commits to that project, keeping all projects separate.

Don't add a like/favorite/bookmark button, I think that's too many options. Watch already says "I'm interested in this", so we don't need additional buttons to express the same thought.

matthewcford 4 days ago 0 replies      
I'm building a repo bookmarking tool as a google chrome extension (for github). It's in early alpha at the moment as I only really get to work on it on the weekends, but it'll be ready for a public beta in 2-3 weeks.

In the mean time you can checkout the video of it working or if you're feeling brave download the alpha version of the extension.

https://plus.google.com/u/0/b/110983919160550210204/11098391... [video & download links]

timsally 4 days ago 0 replies      
Facebook faced this exact problem with its newsfeed. The solution? Do what Facebook did. Allow people to watch projects and then subscribe to various levels of activity.
xbryanx 4 days ago 0 replies      
Maybe you should be able to subscribe to certain types of commits, like a tag, merge, or branch operation.
deadbeef84 4 days ago 0 replies      
Not sure I agree completely, "watch" is when you're actually interested in what's going on in the project. "Fork" is when you want to contribute with code changes. Maybe a "Like" button to show your appreciation would be nice?
mutewinter 4 days ago 0 replies      
I run a website that tracks watchers on GitHub projects, http://gitego.com.

What I see is that it is incredibly rare for a project to lose watchers. It seems that people are using GitHub's watch feature as a bookmarking service.

On a side note, GitEgo tracks two[1,2] of paulasmuth's GitHub repositories, and neither of them has "lost lost around 30 watchers by the evening." He may be referring to other projects on GitHub, but even Twitter Bootstrap[3] (the most popular GitHub project), almost never loses watchers. Granted, these projects could all be gaining just a few more watchers than they are losing per hour, but the net effect is almost always a gain each day.

I think the real problem is that watching a repository doesn't engage a user in its contents. Watching commit messages fly by isn't as entertaining as reading 140 characters someone groomed for public consumption.

[1]: http://gitego.com/paulasmuth/fnordmetric#watchers?interval=b...

[2]: http://gitego.com/paulasmuth/recommendify#watchers?interval=...

[3]: http://gitego.com/twitter/bootstrap#watchers?interval=by_hou...

groby_b 4 days ago 0 replies      
You don't collect watchers. People watch your project because it's interesting to them and they are _actively_ involved. If it is, it doesn't matter how often you update, only the quality of your updates matters.

It's not twitter, stop playing the "follower count" game.

rsanchez1 3 days ago 0 replies      
I'm so glad someone else noticed this. I started out watching a few essential projects I used on a daily basis, and added the feed to my Google Reader. Eventually I started using the "watch" button as a "like" button and my feed became unmanageable. I just stopped watching the feed. I wish there was some way to have only some of those items show up in my feed.
spullara 3 days ago 0 replies      
Github has terrible management for this and even for notifications. I'm a member a large organization with popular projects and the entire UI has become completely useless. I think a Mute button for people, projects and issues would work great. I'd have no problem clearing out things that way.
amanuel 4 days ago 0 replies      
I have two suggestions:

Activate a 'quiet' mode? In quiet mode nothing is sent to people's feeds.

Daily Digest mode. Daily digest would do just that. Lump all update in a day into 1 news feed.

I'd be happy with either option.

talove 3 days ago 0 replies      
Maybe the problem is how much value that you put on the amount of watchers you have? Is it somehow a bad thing that someone doesn't want to see all of your updates. Would those people somehow serve value to you had you not annoyed them and they just kept watching.

In my opinion as git being a tool to transparently see any and every thing changing. If you some how want less than that, perhaps you shouldn't subscribe to (aka watch) a "repository."

Ultimately, maybe the right thing for github to do would be to group nearby commits, but still summarize them and easily let you dive into them. This is code after all and almost any time I've updated a dependency, it's been because of the small details. In my accounts of the companies I've worked for, subscribing to the repositories we use, seeing every commit has served a lot of value. Just watching because it's some popular repository did not.

rplnt 3 days ago 0 replies      
I was expecting that author would want to literally fix the button. It always bugs me like it is designed:

[watch] [fork] [watchers] [forks]

With this I often click "watchers" when I want to watch a repository. To me, much better solution would be something like this:

[watch | watchers] [ fork | forks]

tlrobinson 4 days ago 0 replies      
Likewise, I don't use the news feed because I watch too many projects that have too high volume.

I have the same problem with RSS. I feel like this is a generic problem that needs solving.

bdon 4 days ago 0 replies      
I find that what I take the # of GitHub watchers to mean (i.e. the popularity of a project) is better surfaced by the number of downloads on RubyGems.org, at least for gems.

Better yet, RubyGems collects that information without any user input.

It would be awesome if the # of downloads could be shown on a GitHub project page.

snitko 4 days ago 0 replies      
My proposition is that the watch button means you only see important updates, like when the new major version of Rails is released. The importance should still be decided by the repo maintainer though. I don't agree with bundling commits proposition, because it is not controlled by the maintainer and will not necessarily capture the stuff that is important and present it in a meaningful way.
may 4 days ago 0 replies      
Or batch all commits into one update. That way it doesn't matter how much you commit, or push, it's a max of one entry per day per repo per user.

Then, make tags the exception -- since they are likely being used for releases.

mutant 4 days ago 0 replies      
I disagree with post almost entirely. This idea of "like" validation is flawed. Your true validation is recognition from the community, a "watcher" doesn't equate to a pat on the back, anymore than a "like" does. It's an inconsequential empty token. We need to get away from this notion of a like means anything more than an twitch response to something. It doesn't mean a person will ever return to your page if the project (or page or whatever) ever does anything again. Gaming the like/watch system is so easy, folks typically know this is hardly an indicator of usefulness except in rare circumstances.

My $.02.

haldean 4 days ago 0 replies      
What about only publishing notifications for tags? Most people only use them to tag releases (or RCs) so the creation of a new tag might be the sort of thing people would be interested in knowing about.
Pythondj 3 days ago 0 replies      
How about a "Deploy" button instead, Yes I like to "Watch, and "Share" is oh so social, but what would be much more useful is a "Deploy" button that would take requirement.txt, config.pl, manifest.yml and all those other artifacts, read them, and help me get the app running on the server, the instance or cloud. I can deal with the constant notifications that come with "watching" a github repository - what I want is a simpler path to Deployment.
blantonl 4 days ago 0 replies      
sounds to me like a "check this box to post to subscribed watch lists" would fix this?
dwyer 4 days ago 0 replies      
>You can publicly watch one of their projects; this is similar to "liking" something on facebook.

>If you commit "too often", people will get annoyed and unwatch you.

So don't watch projects you're not interested in watching and leave the Facebook mentality at Facebook. Issue closed.

I couldn't imagine not working on my projects out of fear that somebody who's feigning interest might stop feigning interest. Who thinks like this?

NARKOZ 4 days ago 0 replies      
I'm using GitHub Feed Filter extension for Chrome


nivertech 4 days ago 1 reply      
Github also add "bookmark" button with list of tags.
Of course one can use something like delicious for this, but built-in service is much more convenient.
Sander_Marechal 4 days ago 0 replies      
IMO the one who watches should be able to control which updates he sees in his feed, not the project developer (which is what the article and may commenters suggest). For some projects I'm watching I'd like to see every commit, issue update, etcetera. For others I'd only be interested in new tags that are created. The project developers don't know what I'm interested in. Only I know.
ErikRogneby 4 days ago 0 replies      
Twitter allows you to curate lists to filter through the clutter. I think that would apply nicely here. I don't think watching is broken, I think the feed needs some love.
saghul 4 days ago 0 replies      
Totally agree. My workaround for this at the moment is to use Yahoo Pipes (http://pipes.yahoo.com/pipes/) and filter my GiHub feed which I then read with an RSS reader. Not ideal, but it gets the job done.
nathan_f77 4 days ago 0 replies      
Yes, I agree with this completely. It got so annoying that I either needed to start un-watching repos, or just ignore the news feed, and I chose the latter.
If only there was a way to just 'star' projects without having them take over the news feed...
purephase 3 days ago 0 replies      
I'd love it if they added Gist support for Organizations. Much easier to manage config files that way.
scottschulthess 3 days ago 0 replies      
I think the issue is people use the Watch button like bookmarks.
entropie 4 days ago 0 replies      
No. I watch projects i find interesting. I usually dont look at the noise in my feed or something. I rarely visit github, only if i get linked to it or for browsing code. So, its totally fine (for me).
oshow 3 days ago 0 replies      
This Chrome Extension allows you to filter the flood of notifications, although you need re-watch/follow settings.
georgeg 3 days ago 0 replies      
I wanted to say this very thing and am glad you have stated it very well. I have un-followed projects because the news feed became too noisy.
vseloved 3 days ago 0 replies      
Actually watch button really does what it should: let's you keep track of the project. If you want like button, just ask for it instead.
jahewson 4 days ago 0 replies      
This is exactly why I had to un-watch ry/node - it was drowning out my newsfeed. Perhaps collating updates from individual projects would help?
kmax12 4 days ago 0 replies      
alpb 3 days ago 0 replies      
Like facebook, watch button can have options when hovered.
Introducing Collusion: Discover who's tracking you online mozilla.org
457 points by tbassetto  3 days ago   126 comments top 25
nostromo 3 days ago  replies      
All of these services / plugins / demos are incomplete without analyzing Flash cookies. I worry the result is people thinking they're more anonymous than they really are. (You can view your Flash cookies here: http://www.macromedia.com/support/documentation/en/flashplay...)

I'd really like to see the browsers take on this practice. Safari, for example disables 3rd party cookies by default, but leaves open this huge hole via Flash.

magicalist 3 days ago 3 replies      
I do find it somewhat ironic that the demo page includes the old

> If you're not paying for something, you're not the customer; you're the product being sold.


I also find the name "collusion" unfortunate. Part of my paycheck comes from advertising, and I include google analytics on my site. However, I also work hard to have a crystal clear privacy policy and I don't opt in to the shared analytics logging for my site, so the data only goes to me. But I'm lumped in with the scummiest of ad networks.

Mozilla, of course, offers a free browser. Their funding ultimately comes from the "collusion" they're talking about here and the search traffic they generate feeds it. More directly, you can argue that they sell our search data to the highest(?) bidder. Why isn't DDG the default search provider? Why aren't third party cookies disabled by default and the Do Not Track header enabled by default?

These are actually hard questions, and trite soundbites that ignore actual economics and the tensions inherent in the internet we have today do us no favors. Transparency is the answer in many of these problems we've created for ourselves, I believe, but we need to be able to talk about them with equal intellectual clarity.

edit: as an example, I really liked EFF's Peter Eckersley's quotes in the ars technica article on DNT today:


nobody_nowhere 3 days ago 0 replies      
In case anyone is curious, a couple of the key use cases for the tracking pixels are:

1. Tracking ad frequency and performance (e..g, did you buy something after you saw an ad; don't show you more than X ads for a given product)

2. ID synchronization between ad exchanges, ad buyers, and data targeters

3. Retargeting (e.g., showing you an ad after you've been to a site)

4. 3rd party data: things like guessing whether you're interested in cars or ceramic figurines and selling the ability to target you with ads

5. Site performance data (omniture, google analytics etc)

JonoXia 3 days ago 1 reply      
Hello! Collusion main developer here. I am excited to be going live with this project and thrilled to see it being discussed on Hacker News (where I am a long time lurker, first time poster). I value the input from the community here.

To answer an issue which Nostromo and others have brought up, I am well aware that the addon is incomplete until it also includes data on Flash cookies, tracking pixels, localstorage, iframes, useragent fingerprinting, etc. I plan to add all of these things; the bug for adding Flash cookies is at https://github.com/toolness/collusion/issues/22 and I would greatly appreciate help with implementation from anyone who's interested (hint, hint!)

I'm also working on making the graph actionable, i.e. you should be able to click any node and say "Block" (or "whitelist" for sites you are OK with). Firefox already has the ability to set site-specific 3rd party cookie policies, but the interface to it can charitably be described as "for experts only". Collusion could provide a much more usable way to control your browser's policies.

The graph, for those who asked, is drawn using d3.js and SVG.

The demo does not require flash; it uses SVG. You just have to click "click here".

redstripe 3 days ago 4 replies      
I find that unlike disabling cookies altogether, the web is a very usable with cookies set to expire when you close your browser. So all cookie based tracking is reset whenever I restart. In firefox you can alter rules on a per site basis. I only enable permanent cookies on my banking site which asks annoying "secret questions".

This demo only showed me 3 cookies from IMDB (which I browsed in this session I guess).

Note: the "restore my last session" link in firefox will work against this setting and reload your cookies from the last session.

jakubw 3 days ago 1 reply      
I couldn't find a link to the source code but it seems to be this project on GitHub: https://github.com/toolness/collusion
jeremyarussell 3 days ago 1 reply      
This is great, I'm a big fan of transparency, I wonder how long it will take for the site's in question to either a) throw a fit about Collusion, or b) start making some workarounds to prevent it from working right. Which of course will be followed by the Collusion people figuring out how to keep up the transparency. It's times like this I wish I had tons of money, I'd donate a grip to Collusion and anyone else helping prevent sneaky corporations from being, well sneaky.
instakill 3 days ago 1 reply      
I just, erm, browsed around in private mode on FF for a bit and when I went back to normal mode, some of those sites are on the graph.
newman314 2 days ago 2 replies      
I wonder if RequestPolicy helps block this.

My config is as follows:

1. AdBlock (+privacylist)

2. Ghostery

3. RequestPolicy

4. HTTPS Everywhere

5. /etc/hosts with common tracking hosts pointing to

6. Disconnect.me

7. Disable 3rd party cookies

8. Uninstall Flash (when I need Flash, I use Chrome)

9. Configure Chrome Flash to not allow any local storage

10. about:config set dom.storage.enabled to false.

This is just a start and it would be nice to have some consistent way to disable localstorage.

nthitz 3 days ago 2 replies      
Introducing? Here's a post about it from >6 months ago http://threatpost.com/en_us/blogs/collusion-firefox-add-pain...
rohit89 3 days ago 3 replies      
Creepy. I wonder if a possible solution (for the tracking across sites part) is to make sure that each website can access only the cookies it creates. For example, chrome creates a seperate process for each tab and the process would have a lock on its cookies such that other processes can't access it. A VM for each process in a way.
jonpaul 3 days ago 0 replies      
Tip of the hat to Mozilla for innovating and trying to make Firefox the best browser possible. It seems like Chrome usage keeps going up; I'm really happy to see Mozilla not sitting around.
glinkov 3 days ago 2 replies      
Chrome is probably not going to match this service, as google would prefer to track us. Will this drive people back to Mozilla?
dubcanada 3 days ago 0 replies      
I actually don't mind being tracked... It doesn't really bother me at all. I'd much rather have ads and stuff geared towards what I may be interested in, then some ad for girls pantyhose sale.

I know it sounds strange, but it doesn't bother me one bit.

brown9-2 3 days ago 2 replies      
Very interesting idea and well executed, but the layout of the graph nodes makes it hard to tell who the worst sites are:


It also seems to want to push some graph nodes off the screen.

donohoe 3 days ago 0 replies      
If anyone plans on porting this to a Chrome extension please let me know!
Sthorpe 3 days ago 1 reply      
Here is my version of a tracker I wrote. https://github.com/sthorpe/tracked

It sniffs your local packets and tells you all the sites that connect to your computer while you browse.

Then I organize them by number of times connected to your computer. It reveals some really weird sites. Like somehow pandora knows my age and sex....

newman314 2 days ago 1 reply      
Actually, my bigger fear is for mobile browsers which are much further behind in terms of such features as compared to desktop browsers.
zerop 3 days ago 1 reply      
Great. How does it work...
jdangu 3 days ago 0 replies      
Publishers are lacking control over who tracks what on their site. My full time project http://www.clarityad.com monitors third-party ad tags and reports pixels dropped.
Craiggybear 3 days ago 1 reply      
Very interesting, however it makes Firefox 10.0.2 crash if you refresh the page or click off the collusion tab then back on to it. At least it does in Linux.

Will try it out on OS X later ...

akashshah 3 days ago 2 replies      
Does anyone know the library that is used to plot the graphs dynamically?
joejohnson 3 days ago 1 reply      
Does the demo require flash? I can't see anything.
figure8 3 days ago 1 reply      
Does my accepting Google's new privacy policy allow them to link information possibly gained via Google Analytics (using their ubiquitous cookies like _utma, _utmb, _utmz) to my other Google product activities?
twapi 3 days ago 0 replies      
Use Adblock Plus. Stay Happy. :
TSA: Fail gmancasefile.blogspot.in
443 points by vamsee  2 days ago   115 comments top 18
verelo 2 days ago  replies      
As someone who travels regularly and is not an American, I've had nothing but frustrations generated by the "TSA". Initially it caused me to unfairly assume all Americans are like TSA agents (i know this isn't true, but i guess its just my human bias). A few things that frustrate me:

- They are not friendly, have a real attitude problem and treat you as if you are guilty before proven innocent. You are the face of the country, the first impression every traveler gets. When i say "how are you doing?" as i approach, its what i say to everyone. Have the common decency to say "Yeah i'm ok" or "Not so great" rather than just looking at me like i'm an idiot.

- The TSA doesn't make it clear that they are just specific to the USA. When boarding planes in another country you hear about the "TSA" and you're like "who the hell is this International body that rules transport?". They are private agents of the US, no different to the guards that any other country has. This should be explicitly clear, because they act like gods.

- They seriously invade my privacy and treat me as if i have no rights just because im from somewhere else. Nothing says "Welcome to the USA" like having your body photograph, fingerprints taken (the finger printing seriously bothers me...i cant explain why because i dont know why, but it seriously bothers me is all i can say) and some border guard with an attitude problem treating you like you've turned up to take all the jobs. So much freedom, give me a break...

Moving all invasions of privacy aside, forgetting about how effective or ineffective the TSA is...i just hate the way they treat people. They have a reputation to up hold, they are everyone's first impression of the US and...given the USA's global reputation today, they could really do with some advice from Rackspace on how to deal with customers.

EDIT: Fixing my spelling of "planes" :-(

DanielBMarkham 2 days ago 2 replies      
As this terrific article says in many different ways: the TSA is a fundamentally flawed institution. It's an example of something that anybody who has spent too much on consultants will recognize: if you have money, there are people who will gladly say they will solve a problem, even if the problem doesn't make sense and there is no solution. It's like that old demotivator image says about consulting "if you're not part of the solution, there's good money to be made in prolonging the problem" (http://www.despair.com/consulting.html)

Don't get me wrong, the agency can be full of the most wonderful and talented dedicated intelligent people imaginable. I kind of doubt it, but it doesn't make a difference. If the paradigm of the agency is seriously broken, it'll never do anything but prolong the problem. If anything, it'll make the problem of terrorism worse (for many reasons too involved to go into here.)

After 9-11 we overreacted and created a monster. We've created a system where the general public is the "enemy". Is the system so broken that even after this is obvious to 90% of the public we still can't get rid of the TSA? </rant>

I know when I go on like this about the TSA that I sound like somebody running around with their hair on fire, but dammit, out of the dozen or so major intrusions on my privacy and life by the security state and corporate system over the last 20 years, the TSA is like a poster child for what's went wrong. Good intentions, a real (but very small) threat, bipartisan support, a mission to support air travel safety (something everybody is for). The problem is although it's great at getting votes, it's just not worth the trade-off. And it's such a political football that nobody can touch it. We're giving up too much for way too little in return. And it looks from here like the change is going to be permanent, no matter what we say or do about it.

morsch 2 days ago 1 reply      
I'm not as convinced by his arguments as everyone else seems. He starts out with a huge -- and admittedly hugely impressive -- appeal to authority. The tilting at windmills argument -- you can't fix all security holes, prison inmates can macgyver deadly weapons out of iPod cables (not to mention laptop batteries), you'd have to tie up people naked to make it safe -- is well taken, but nothing new.

His argument for random screening was more original (to me, at least): Certain terrorist organisations shy away from risk. Make the risk of failure high enough, and they won't strike. He proposes that 10% risk of failure is the sweet spot (based on his own experience with Al Qaeda) and says that thoroughly searching a random selection of 10% of the passengers will result in 10% failure.

Two things don't add up there, in my eyes. First of all, you just told us that there is no security anyway: the iPod cable thing, naked tied up people. What if a terrorist was among the 10% "unlucky" ones, and he had simply been clever enough to think of a solution not covered by your screening process? Granted, the more thorough searches will be harder to "beat", but allegedly even very ordinary items can be used to do bad stuff. And while the fact of the search will be unpredictable, the process of the search will probably be just as predictable as before: with 10% of all passengers being searched, the procedures can't hope to remain secret. So I guess you have to rely on being extremely thorough; with the thoroughness of a search probably coinciding with the amount of inconvenience caused by it.

Secondly, he does rely on the failure probability of 10% being enough to stop an attack. That might be what it takes to stop some organisations now, but other organisations might not be as risk averse, others might change their mind in the future (particularly if such a strategy is adopted). Obviously operations other than random screening will increase the failure probability beyond 10% anyway, but that is beside the point; as is the fact that he only addresses screening while also reporting that many threats originate from persons that are never screened because they are not passengers.

Apart from the random screening argument, he addresses the impropriety of backscatter scanners. There is nothing new there at all. Apparently this is a huge issue to a large percentage of the population. Apparently, having a person of the same sex look at your naked picture would be an improvement. I don't really get it, personally. Maybe I'm a hippie.

All that said, I guess his random search procecure would be a net improvement to most passengers, with his argument standing and falling depending on whether or not you buy into the risk-aversity argument. And of course if you assume that neither procedure gets you any notable amount of security, as could be argued from his first point, the procedure with the least amount of convenience -- his -- wins.

dsr_ 2 days ago 1 reply      
TL;DR: Bruce Schneier is still right.
tptacek 2 days ago 1 reply      
It's funny to try to predict what's going to spark the inevitable huge flame war on a thread like this, given that there isn't a soul on HN that thinks the TSA is a good thing.

(I didn't flag this article; it's pretty great.)

afterburner 2 days ago 2 replies      
"I am stunned, quite frankly, that the same people who fought against the Patriot Act because it was invasive and violated privacy rights have not howled about this invasion of personal privacy rights."

Say what? I see the same people railing against both, all the time.

noonespecial 2 days ago 0 replies      
Carried to its logical end, TSA policy would have to require passengers to travel naked or handcuffed.

I always just assumed that sooner or later they'd start issuing us some sort of jumpsuits and we wouldn't be allowed to fly in "street clothes". Sadly that sounds almost reasonable in this climate. Or at least no less reasonable than some of the other stuff they do.

tnuc 2 days ago 5 replies      
I disagree, he missed a vital point.

TSA: Success

The worlds most expensive security theater. Making you feel safer for your troubles.

maeon3 2 days ago 1 reply      
There needs to be a webapp that grades airports for hassle index. So we can steer our dollars away from them.
doug1001 16 hours ago 0 replies      
My life-long dream of becoming a TSA Agent is a little tarnished, i suppose. This Post is full of excellent lines.

E.g., "Another time, I was bypassing screening (again on official FBI business) with my .40 caliber semi-automatic pistol, and a TSA officer noticed the clip of my pocket knife. "You can't bring a knife on board," he said."

"With the congressional spotlight on the organization, TSA is finally feeling what it's like to be screened."

njharman 2 days ago 0 replies      
TSA should be and should have been funded directly from air fair increases. That way it will end tomorrow or would never had happened.
richardlblair 2 days ago 4 replies      
True Story:

A friend of mine was traveling through various airports in the states. He had accidentally left his pencil bag in his back pack which had a pair of scissors in it. The scissors were over the length allowed on a plaine (Something like 4" is considered safe.)

He went through 2 security checks in the states, and boarded planes with these scissors in his back pack. It wasn't until he went through a simple, small security check in a small Canadian air port that they were found and confiscated.

I find it funny that he made it through all this elaborate security in the States, and a simple security check in Canada with a Security guard who did his job well found the scissors.

wkdown 2 days ago 0 replies      
While I agree with his points, this is yet another rant with no solutions.
Matt_Mickiewicz 2 days ago 1 reply      
But won't somebody please think of the children!
bostond 2 days ago 1 reply      
"I have a unique position from which to make these statements. For 25 years, as many of readers know, I was an FBI Special Agent..."

I couldn't believe he didn't finish the last paragraph of his background with "I am the most interesting man in the world."

orblivion 2 days ago 1 reply      
"I am, as I have said before, a political conservative, a law and order kind of guy and I get misty when the national anthem is played at a football game and jets fly over in salute. If anything, I am pre-disposed to support the United States government."

This doesn't sit quite right with me. I could be wrong but I don't imagine a conservative would fancy themselves a "supporter of the United States government." That sounds more like, right or wrong, what a liberal thinks of a conservative (and what a conservative thinks of a liberal, for that matter).

Supporter of "the troops" or "the nation" sure, but "the government" seems a bit off.

ot 2 days ago 8 replies      
I don't really buy the argument "TSA has never [...] foiled a terrorist plot or stopped an attack on an airliner.": it could be argued that the TSA measures act as an effective deterrent.

A stronger argument could be to show that in none of the countries that do not adopt TSA-like measures there have been any terrorist attempts, let alone successful.

How easy would it be to board in, say, Mexico or Canada, and hijack the flight to the US?

EDIT: looking at the comments (and the downvotes) I have the feeling that I wasn't clear. I agree with the article pretty much on everything, I'm just trying to say that where there are no body scanners deployed, for example in Europe, there have been no terrorist attacks, and I think that this is a stronger argument than "the TSA hasn't prevented any attack".

joelmichael 2 days ago 10 replies      
Does he really think potential terrorists or criminals are going to hijack a plane using toothbrushes or popsicle sticks? The purpose of the TSA is to screen all passengers for real threats like guns, blades, and most of all, bombs.

He says there was no outcry over the backscatters. That's just out of touch; it was all over the Internet and even major news media back around November of 2010. Liberals and conservatives alike found the idea of their nude images too far. This kept backscatters from being deployed for the most part; have you ever seen one?

Seems to me that the TSA has changed their backscatter approach since then. Instead of showing the full images to security personnel it will do some computational analysis of the images and then represent any anomalies on a simple drawing of a human. The people going through the machine will see the same images the TSA will. See this image: http://www.wired.com/images_blogs/threatlevel/2012/02/TSA-Bo...

Nobody likes waiting in line or taking off their shoes. But I'd much rather do that than let people get onto my plane with explosives. Forget patriotism, it's a matter of your own personal safety.

How Not To Sell Software in 2012 al3x.net
444 points by nreece  2 days ago   138 comments top 49
wheels 2 days ago 6 replies      
> Practically everyone who's paying for software is doing so through an app store

And how well's that working for them?

• All of the revenue for the thousands of vendors in the Apple App Store together for 2011: $3.6 billion

• Oracle's revenue alone for 2011: $36 billion

Notice that decimal point there? There's a reason it's in a different place. I don't like the enterprise sales process " being on either side of it, and I have to be on both at times. But the reason I'll do it is because our customers demand it and folks at that level, when a deal closes, pay enough to make it worth it.

It's the same on payment methods, actually. We got dragged, grudgingly, by our enterprise customers to allow paying by purchase order / ACH because that's how their purchasing departments expect to do things. It's not like we were going to tell them, "no".

raganwald 2 days ago  replies      

  There's no software priced between $1000 and $75,000. I'll tell
you why. The minute you charge more than $1000 you need to get
serious corporate signoffs. You need a line item in their
budget. You need purchasing managers and CEO approval and
competitive bids and paperwork. So you need to send a
salesperson out to the customer to do PowerPoint, with his
airfare, golf course memberships, and $19.95 porn movies at the
Ritz Carlton. And with all this, the cost of making one
successful sale is going to average about $50,000. If you're
sending salespeople out to customers and charging less than
$75,000, you're losing money.

The joke of it is, big companies protect themselves so well
against the risk of buying something expensive that they
actually drive up the cost of the expensive stuff, from $1000
to $75000, which mostly goes towards the cost of jumping all
the hurdles that they set up to insure that no purchase can
possibly go wrong.

Joel Spolsky, Camels and Rubber Duckies http://www.joelonsoftware.com/articles/CamelsandRubberDuckie...

The second paragraph is the key. Alex, these people aren't trying to piss you off, they're being driven by what BigCo wants from them. BigCo won't let a manager try some software and declare that it meets their needs. BigCo demands that vendors respond to RFPs and RFQs, and if one vendor puts no-nonsense pricing on their web site, all of their competitors will undercut them by a penny or so and they won't get any sales.

I could go on, but Joel has made the point: These annoying vendors have evolved to sell to those annoying customers. It isn't the vendors that need to go extinct, it's BigCo. BigCo buys cloud services in 2012 the way it bought time sharing in 1972, so the vendors are still using 1972 sales processes in 2012.

patio11 2 days ago 3 replies      
Don't automatically sign me up for a newsletter about your company or product when I give you my contact information. Ideally, don't request my contact information at all until I'm giving you money.

I agree with the first part -- always ask people for permission, probably by kicking them a sweetener (e.g. "1 month email course on X"). I have data that I cannot show you which is in you-could-run-your-company-on-just-this-trick violent disagreement with the second point here. If you don't like email, cool, but email is worth serious money in B2B software sales. (So are salespeople, by the way, even at pricepoints lower than you'd think would warrant a salesman. Think "4 figure LTV." + )

Also, at the risk of stating the obvious, every email-deleting-salesmanship-hating engineer in the world could drop dead of a heart attack tomorrow and neither buyers or sellers of enterprise software would notice until several months later when trying to figure out why the sales engineers stopped submitting expense reports.

+ Addendum: Joel Spolsky's famous Camels and Rubber Duckies article talks about there being basically two price points for sales now, but a combination of a better delivery mechanisms - SaaS - and better sales procedures/technologies opens up a bunch of very interesting options in the middle for something between BCC $30 "Every email from a customer is a wonderful opportunity to fix that from happening ever again" and steak-dinners-and-Powerpoint-decks enterprise sales for $75k+.

I have some amount of knowledge about this these days, since I help my clients implement it. If you're interested in hearing more, say so, I'll try to blog it (some day when I get out from a mountain of work and email).

unreal37 2 days ago 3 replies      
There is this space between "personal" and "enterprise" where this model works. Call it "startup" or "small business". I want something, I have a credit card, I buy, I move on. The less hassle the better.

But in real enterprises, I don't have a credit card. I don't even have authority to purchase. (There is a whole department named "procurement" for that.) But I need to see "sales decks", do webinars, talk to salesmen trying to understand my needs and saying yes to every question I ask, download trial versions, spec out requirements, do a business case, write up a recommendation to management, and figure out how complex software with lots of optional modules fits within our existing environment. It could take months to make a purchase decision on some software. In the past year, my current client has paid to fly me 500 miles away (a few times actually) to talk to salespeople face to face to get product demos and talk strategy before the ink is signed on the purchase order. These decisions are not easy nor quick nor cheap.

I understand the frustration in this post. I respect this model doesn't work at smaller scales. The current model is not perfect at larger scales. But $50,000 a year software doesn't get sold by credit card online nor through "app stores". Any company that tried to switch away from the old model and follow the new model at that level would fail, I believe.

tptacek 2 days ago 0 replies      
Many if not most of the "business-to-business" software companies that try to adopt this mindset will find themselves losing money as a result. The "enterprise" sales process is intensely aggravating, yes, but it affords software vendors opportunities to discriminate on price, get direct feedback from customers, offer advance features, and qualify their customers so they can focus sales resources on budgeted projects.

There are also pretty obvious economic reasons why companies with 5-figure customer LTVs might avoid credit card billing. There are services that work well with metered billing, but many others in which customers will demand flat licensing.

I can also absolutely see why Github would would to keep a pretty tight handle on who's trialing what is in effect a packaged-up version of one of the most important software sites on the Internet. We're a FI customer. Incidentally, on the scale of "enterprisey" sales processes, they were an absolute dream to work with.

etherael 2 days ago 0 replies      
Although in principle I agree, I have to say this is simply naive and ignorant to the way things are done in other circles. If you were to purchase say Oracle licenses this way, there is no way this model would work.

You will not go to the Oracle app store and it will not have a database of all the large corporate IPs in the world with which it can reverse engineer your available funds and likely chain of purchase decision, and it will not then just put up a few million dollar for that year figure that you can click and instantly pay with your credit card.

Strippers must be witnessed, steaks must be consumed, conferences must be attended, rounds of golf must be played, lip service must be paid to ridiculous conceptual bugaboos, the purchasing bureaucracy must be reverse engineered, the chaff must be sorted from the wheat, starched collars must be preened, ignorant men in suits must be consulted as if their opinion had worth. And this is of course only the parodied incomplete summary of the entire horrifying affair.

Oracle and their ilk are feasting on elephants. Some would even fairly say mammoths; they are big, fat and move very slowly. The entire idea that a strategy could be formulated, evaluated, shopped for signatures to the relevant parties, signed off on by the law department, agreed to and generally made in the amount of time it takes to make a purchase with the paradigm offered as an example in this scenario is likely terrifying if not utterly extraterrestrial to them.

trotsky 2 days ago 0 replies      
It's 2012. Practically everyone who's paying for software is doing so through an app store: one click or tap and you've got what you want.

Practically everyone buying software for mobile or from Apple? In the rest of the world almost no desktop software is selling through app stores, one click or otherwise.

davmar 2 days ago 1 reply      
i'm the ceo of a company that sells b2b software. we never sell a product for less than $2k annually, and our contracts are frequently in the 5 figures annually.

our current sales cycle includes a lot of the negatives that you point out. however, we're up front with our pricing while our competitors aren't.

we actually created a product that did nearly exactly what you said. we didn't get nearly as many customers with that method. people would sign up (sometimes) and when they did, they tended not to pay once their 30 day free trial was up. our conversion rates sucked. we ended up canceling that product and removing it from our site after 8 months.

when we have a webinar with a sales call, our closure rates increase dramatically. customers tend not to pay by credit card even when given the option.

i actually think you're 100% right for many, many products. but i don't think it'd work in my boring b2b industry.

edit: we probably didn't do enough experimentation on the small product as we should have, so i take some of the blame for that.

rgrieselhuber 2 days ago 1 reply      
A lot of this depends on the type of product and market that you're in. For software that costs up to a couple hundred bucks a month, all of these points make perfect sense.

Products that are more expensive tend to also be more involved. A lot of times, the sales team needs to understand how the customer is going to use the product and help them get it up and running. HubSpot is probably a good example of this. From my understanding, the way they nailed their retention problem back in the day was to go through extensive training / onboarding with each customer.

Simply leaving customers to their own devices on a complicated product is quite often horrible for conversions, which is a wasted opportunity for the vendor and inconveniences a potentially customer that might have otherwise been perfectly happy with the product after learning how it works.

suhail 2 days ago 1 reply      
The problem with most companies that do this is simply that they want ultra-qualified leads. Truthfully, it's tough to determine whether a sign up is going to be worth $10 or $10K/mo. The other problem is, depending on the product, the sales cycle can be long. It's not that any B2B company wants to spam you, but it's that they want to remind you of their existence as much as possible so that when you start thinking about your options, they are first on your list.

Here's the logic re: Alex's points:

1. Requiring a sales call helps qualify real leads.

2. Lack of trialing the software is in part due to wanting to have a conversation with you.

3. Hiding your pricing is simply the way to have a conversation and to qualify leads. It makes price discrimination also possible. Think about selling a startup vs. IBM.

4. Whitepapers are just old school. It's useful for when lower-tier decision makers need to present something.

5. Newsletters are simply a way to be in the conversation with your company prior to when you buy--constantly.

6. Larger organizations sub-divide their resources into people who can do X or Y. Where X sometimes primes the customer for Y. It's not done to the customer's benefit, but rather to the organizations.

7. Old school.

8. Well, the truth is, cold calling can work even though it has a fairly low conversion rate. You have to start somewhere.

I am not saying we do any of this at Mixpanel necessarily, but it's the simple logic of enterprise.

mindcrime 2 days ago 0 replies      
I'm on board with most of that, but I'm not sure about the "don't cold call me" bit. I mean, yes, I understand that you - the author of this piece - don't want to be cold called. But I'm not convinced that going with a pure "no cold call" strategy is optimal in the general sense. Everything I've seen / heard leads me to believe that cold-calling is still essential for companies that are selling in the b2b / enterprise space.

But, then again, I'm thinking more in terms of "companies who are willing to host their own software, want 'best of breed' solutions, have extensive integration requirements," etc. Sure Google Docs is fine for plenty of firms, but there are firms who want an DMS that integrates with Active Directory, ties into their workflow / approval systems, etc.

I guess the point is that "enterprise software" covers a pretty broad swathe of scenarios and situations...

thekevan 1 day ago 0 replies      
Sales guy here. Here's my response.

Don't require that I waste my time on a sales call " or, worse, in a “webinar” " before I can give you my money. Instead, provide all the information I need about your product on your website.

We'd love to. The truth is it is the customers who ask for demonstrations, walk-thoughs and tours of the software. I spent weeks training to learn how this software works, who it is a good fit for and who it is not a good fit for. It's simply not realistic to think every product can be explained on a website and comprehended without misconceptions. Also, a robust software suite has many, many user needs. Creating a web site which is custom tailored to each need type is a very high permutation.

Don't make it hard for me to try your software. If I can't play with a trial version or sandbox immediately, I'm moving on.

Don't assume you know how to use it and can make an adequate evaluation in that 2 - 10 minutes you will spend on the trial version. Also, the purchaser is often not the same person as the user. I want them on the phone as well to make sure they have the need and skills to utilize what I have to sell. If you buy something that is a poor fit, I may have your money now but you will bury me with support and complaints later on. That's not worth it.

Don't hide your pricing behind a sales process, and don't play pricing games. I can find and talk to your other customers basically instantly in order to determine what they paid for your product and if they're getting the value they expected from it. I will do this. So just put the price of what you're selling on your site and skip the games.

How much is a website? Just tell me how much it costs to build a web site and skip the games. /snark. How much is a house? It depends on if you are talking about an outhouse or the White House. I don't know what kind house you want when you are looking at our site. Also, if you could teach everyone to do that competitive research you claim to be able to do, I would appreciate it. If all customers could become as educated as you claim you can become before buying my stuff, I'd be printing money.

Don't make me read a whitepaper in order to get essential information about your product. Put it on your website. In HTML. Not in a PDF, not in Flash, not in Silverlight or ActiveX or whatever. What your product does, on your website, in HTML.

That's just a way to collect your contact info to follow up. It is a poor method. I am in sales and I am not giving anyone my contact info for a white paper either. But if you are getting something of value from me, I want something from you.

Don't automatically sign me up for a newsletter about your company or product when I give you my contact information. Ideally, don't request my contact information at all until I'm giving you money.

If you went through the white paper form mentioned above, you probably never read the text next to the submit button saying "okay to contact me". Businesses should not use this method, consumers should not patronize it.

Don't make it hard for me to talk to a technical person at your company about the nitty gritty details of how your product works. If you don't provide a forum for those discussions, someone else will, and you won't control it.

Sure, you can speak with my development folks. You and everyone else who wants to know how we built what we built before spending a single dollar with us. Also, don't assume that your sales person doesn't know. Ask them. If they can't answer your question, they should be able to find the answer quickly. If they can't, you just learned you shouldn't buy their product. Move on.

Don't make it hard for me to pay for your product. I have a credit card. I also have a PayPal account, a Google payments account, and an Amazon payments account. Any of those are fine (although PayPal is not ideal). Any other billing process is not.

If I charge $10,000 for something, I'm not going to give PayPal a cut of that as well. Also, you having access to those payment methods doesn't mean you have the authority to use them. I've been burned by that quite a bit.

This should go without saying, but don't cold call or spam me. If your product is good and meets my needs, I promise that I'll find out about it.

This is just a pollyanna way of looking at it. Spam is wrong, nothing to debate with on that. But yes, I will cold call you if I identify you as someone who may need what I have. If you don't want my product, don't ask me to call later, don't refer me to the intern to while away the hours with pointless questions. Just say no, you are not interested. I will listen and be happy to move on to the next customer.

Nitramp 1 day ago 0 replies      
I've once worked in a company on the other side of this. I needed a particular piece of software for work that was ~$50 on Amazon, with a $10 rebate, and something like $60 when bought from their website directly. They had a trial, and buying it was as easy as giving them your credit card number.

Now the company I worked for had a policy to only obtain computery things through a supplier, which would be a local vendor or shop selling this software. The trick is, nobody does that for some random software on the interwebs that's only $50. The purchasing process itself also cost something like $700 for any individual invoice.

So two minions and a purchasing manager set off on a journey to find a supplier for this software, with my boss, my office manager, and me constantly nagging them, as it was urgent. After two weeks they came back and said it was sadly impossible to buy this software. We ended up shipping our software late due to the delay, and buying the tool from Amazon, expensing it as a book.

Moral of the story: the old BigCos indeed force this behaviour out of suppliers.

trout 2 days ago 0 replies      
The truth is, most customers or end users for Big Software aren't capable of handling the process of researching, trying, deciding, convincing higher ups, negotiating, designing, implementing (or finding an integrator), and supporting it themselves.

If they think they are, there is an astronomically high chance something will be wrong. And you know who takes the blame for that? The company with the logo on the software that doesn't work right. That and the guy who did it wrong. The argument scales as the software and customer does, but it's still a truth. Unless your software is dead simple, if you give people enough rope they will cause problems. That prevents the company from more opportunities, makes the customer's life difficult, etc.

The solution to this is to be hands on as much as possible before things are implemented. Properly done, it's mutually beneficial spent time. It would be logical to compare the complexity of the product solution (see steps above) to the amount of pre-sales steps required.

Disclosure: Pre-sales engineer for big software/hardware

nate 2 days ago 0 replies      
"the opposite is also true" - Derek Sivers


It'd probably be best to serve a company to be able to test whether or not it serves you best to force customers into a hand held sales process or let everything remain DIY.

I've created a ton of self serve from the get go.

For example: In one thing, we have so many tire kickers startup their site and do their thing, but then we find out, that they completely screw up how to even get started. It might be we just haven't figured out how to design it better. But we've been designing it and iterating on it for years. It's simply something that's a bit hard to understand until someone explains it in words. And since people tend to hate reading and skip the manual, without knowing what's going on, they screw up, and think the product doesn't work. So the solution to that might just be "lets force them into a process so we can make sure they have the best startup experience possible, and we'll be more successful with more sales". That could very well be an outcome. But you never know unless you split test that sales/conversion process.

dansingerman 1 day ago 0 replies      
The problem here is a lack of fit between the vendor, who is geared up to sell to Enterprises, and the buyer who is not an 'Enterprise' business.

The Enterprise software sales process is about navigating big businesses' procurement processes, and helping the buyer build a business case that the enterprise will accept.

I'm going through this pain myself. I work for a startup, and some of the vendors we are talking to are clearly geared up to sell 'Enterprise' software to 'Enterprises'.

But I'm CTO of a small startup, and I just want to know what the damn software does, and how much it costs. There's no procurement process, probably not much of a (detailed) business case. I need to buy or build something, and I need to know how much it will cost to buy.

What I do think the writer is correct about, is that software selling is moving towards a self-service/appstore model (not that I see Enterprise software sales disappearing very quickly) and eventually the Internet is likely to disrupt it like many other industries.

All that said, I also found the Enterprise Software sales model really painful when I worked for an Enterprise level business ("Hello IBM, can I buy a database from you?" "Yes, please meet with our sales team of 24 people as a first step")

leftnode 2 days ago 1 reply      
I can guarantee you SpaceX has a very extensive onboarding stage with their customers, but I love how they have a no-bullshit pricing guide.


Want placement on that rocket? 10.9 million regardless of who you are. From there, if you're a serious customer they'll begin the onboarding process. I love it.

joedev 2 days ago 0 replies      
"How Not to Sell [Cheap] Software in 2012."


"How Not to Sell Software [to Small Companies] in 2012."

Domenic_S 2 days ago 0 replies      
Sales capitalizes on what works. If an enterprise sales process works for a company, guess what they're going to keep doing?

This blog post should be titled "How Not to Sell Software to Alex Payne".

ErikRogneby 2 days ago 1 reply      
I don't think this is particular to software. It's just that software has the luxury of being transmittable electronically. Say your company needs some vehicles: buying one, two, three? Probably the same as a consumer. Buying 100-300? Need to start thinking about asset tracking, depreciation, maintenance & support contracts, etc. Does it even make sense on the balance sheet to buy or is leasing better? Enterprise sales have more to do with the structures of business than what is actually sold. This is why sales guys are often hired based on who've they sold to, rather than any product experience.
bdunbar 1 day ago 0 replies      
Today's startups are tomorrow's enterprises. Many of the other startup folks I know share the same expectations about how software should be sold.

They'll change their minds when they become an enterprise.

Listen: we don't do things that way because we like layers of bureaucracy, and long, tedious meetings.

Well, some of us don't.

Enterprise customers and vendors operate that way because it's the easiest, most painless way to get stuff done.

If it wasn't, we wouldn't do it that way.

Sakes 2 days ago 0 replies      
Remember this is written from a technical person's point of view. If you are selling to technical customers by all means give them a try now button and get out of their way. But if you are selling to project managers, marketers, or upper management, you should take his Don'ts list with a grain of salt.

- Edit for typos

seltzered_ 1 day ago 0 replies      
This reminds me of steve blank article, where the salesforce burned his well-written datasheet about a product because it's cause too many folks to "get to no" quickly:


I work in the semiconductor industry which is rife with webinars, field sales/apps engineers, etc. I hate it, but in some ways it's a wacky industry where you have a garden variety of customers ranging from grad students wanting free samples for a science project, to Apple/Dell wanting to cut your margins to nothing while lying that their volumes will be huge when they're also just testing out a science project.

You end up with a problem where you don't know how much effort your apps engineers will have to spend working with a customer and whether their time was worth working with them. So you end up with negotiators called sales people/field engineers. In theory it works unless those negotiators are bent on extracting as many commissions as possible, and/or don't walk into the right markets.

nandemo 2 days ago 0 replies      
> we occasionally try commercial software. Mostly, we don't end up buying it

Given that, I'm not sure why I should pay too much attention to the rest of the post. I'd rather take advice from people who successfully sell a lot of software or otherwise have experience in buying it.

> Practically everyone who's paying for software is doing so through an app store

This is a very myopic view, though unsurprising given the previous disclaimer.

Besides the enterprise "shrink-wrapped" software market (see wheels commment), there's also a huge market for custom software.

mikeocool 2 days ago 0 replies      
While I agree in principle with this list, experience has taught me that if I have to talk to sales person to find out the price software, it's very likely that it's out of my company's budget (seed funded startup). I move on and save myself and the sales person from wasting any time.

If you're product targets early stage companies and doesn't cost 5+ figures monthly, and you sell software this way, then, yes, you're doing something wrong.

program 2 days ago 0 replies      

1) Don't ask me why/when/where/how I will use my brand-new software

2) Don't force me to "try" other software just because I bought one

3) Don't force me to give you informations that are not strictly correlated with the purchase

endlessvoid94 2 days ago 0 replies      
I don't think it's in anyone's interest to sell a $2k / month / user enterprise software product on an app store and give some third party a 30% cut.

That's the biggest reason it's still done this way. I think.

usaar333 2 days ago 0 replies      
> Heck, even free/open software people have an app store these days.

Wasn't open source the first mover here? apt has been around for.. 13 years?

stdbrouw 2 days ago 0 replies      
> I can find and talk to your other customers basically instantly in order to determine what they paid for your product and if they're getting the value they expected from it. I will do this.

The joke is, quite a few enterprise vendors will ask you to sign some sort of NDA before they'll even show you a demo. And of course you'll pay before ever having tried the software. "Trials" " are you mad?

tsunamifury 2 days ago 0 replies      
Eloqua does every single one of the the things on the list of 'wrongs' here. It was one of the worst purchasing experiences of my life, they practically talked me OUT of the service.
freshhawk 2 days ago 0 replies      
I know it's a minor thing but:

> Heck, even free/open software people have an app
> store these days

Little off the cuff remarks can expose ignorance quickly. Not something you want to do when trying to convince your readers of a more complex point.

It also makes the reader wonder what else you just threw in there because it sounded kinda right and you maybe heard it somewhere.

If you couldn't get that little thing right, I have so much less trust when I get to a part of the post that I don't know as much about.

sovande 2 days ago 0 replies      
Some sellers may have a bureaucratic sales process, but there are examples the other way around also, with customers having a long and windy buying process which is hardly worth a sale. Last year we sold our on-click download and try-before-buy product to a large US company and we had to fill out X forms and send them by hardcopy to become a "supplier". After 6 months we are still waiting for the payment.
suresk 2 days ago 0 replies      
Enterprise software purchasing is pretty broken from both sides, but the vendors make tons of money because of it and the managers who do the purchasing often don't care.

Part of the problem Alex is seeing (and I've seen) is that the startup/small business segment just isn't that big, and vendors are usually fine with ignoring it and losing out on revenue. I do a lot of stuff on the side and have tried to buy licenses for some enterprise products, and even mid-sized vendors aren't really interested in talking to me. Large vendors like Oracle and IBM are heavily optimized toward selling to big businesses who need a purchasing process to take months and aren't as sensitive to price. The App Store model is 99%+ consumer-oriented.

Unfortunately, a lot of startups and small Enterprise vendors end up recruiting sales and marketing people who have been successful at larger vendors, so the same practices get implemented.

I blame this mostly on purchasing practices that are largely centered around managers mitigating risk. The risk they are most interested in mitigating is the risk that they'll get fired for making (or approving) a bad purchasing decision. Vendors are happy to play along, since it usually means they can make more money out of the deal.

ralmeida 1 day ago 0 replies      
About trial versions, a strange idea has just occurred me: has anyone out there thought of offering a trial in two separate periods? For example: 15 trial days = 1 day now + 14 days starting whenever you want it to.

This is to solve the problem that when I stumble upon a service that has a trial period, I have a strong urge to see what it's like, but am afraid that I will forget about the service for n-1 days, when I will get an email telling me that the trial has ended and I haven't gotten around to explore it fully.

Say, for example, I want to try out a project management suite. If I have a split trial period, I can explore the features and overall feel of the product for myself on a day and then prepare my workmates to use it in a test project, and only start the second part of the period when we are ready.

Has anyone thought deeper about the advantages and disadvantages of this?

deyan 2 days ago 0 replies      
To summarize what many others are saying in this thread, unfortunately, software is currently sold not bought. That's why everyone ends up doing all this nonsense that the author describes.

I am personally in 100% agreement that it should be App Store simple but reality proves more complicated than that. It is disappointing but not surprising.

ry0ohki 2 days ago 0 replies      
Add Radian 6 to the "Doing it wrong" list.

You have to talk to a sales person.
Then watch a webinar.
Then take TRAINING?!?!!

Just to maybe get a demo.

rythie 1 day ago 0 replies      
Is this why most enterprise software has poor UIs? since they never had to optimise the UI for customer retention, they just rely on the sales process to get people to buy it.
sedev 2 days ago 0 replies      
I notice a lot of comments taking on Al3x's comments about the way things are, but almost none taking on his comments about the way things will be. It'd be a little to facile to just say "skate to where the puck will be, not to where it is," but I definitely agree with him that the demographics are changing, and that the benefits that (let's be generous) used to be in the Enterprise Sales Process, are not guaranteed to be there in the future.

If you assume that he's correct about the demographic changes and the consumer tastes, do you think he'll be right about the benefits of the Enterprise Sales Process evaporating over the next 5-15 years? I think that's a good bet.

paraschopra 1 day ago 0 replies      
Well, why can't you have the best of both worlds? Provide free trial for people who want to quickly trial it. Provide demos, webinars for those who are interested in going that route.

It is hard to optimize for _both_ kinds of customers, but it is certainly not impossible.

wtffffff 2 days ago 0 replies      
Ok, just read this and absolutely have to comment, since I used to work for a telcom services agent. I learned there that where consumer services (low monthly recurring cost) could be sold online sight unseen, customers requiring business-level services (high monthly recurring cost) wanted more handholding, more discussion, and assumed there would be more paperwork. We actually tried to provide them with instant pricing on T1s, and sales dropped considerably. This is the story in almost anything, and its the reason cars and houses are still sold primarily by people, not websites. Websites may provide the in, but people close the larger deals better in the current day and age.
nreece 2 days ago 0 replies      
> Practically everyone who's paying for software is doing so through an app store

I wrote about 'The Other App Store' (organic search) on similar lines - http://blog.roveb.com/post/12003627967/the-other-app-store

rbarooah 1 day ago 0 replies      
A major reason for buying software is because we want to trade money for time.

Making the buying process time consuming significantly reduces the value proposition for those who are time constrained.

gesman 2 days ago 0 replies      
In high priced product market ($5000+) it's a custom to babysit client and give him a lap dance with a brain massage before opening all the cards.
I think shoppers for $47 products hate it more than corporate buyer/purchasing managers.
Latter ones want to relax in a leather chair and listen to bullshit before assigning budget - it's their job and they used to it.
They certainly are not used to $5000 "buy it now" paypal buttons.
kingsidharth 1 day ago 0 replies      
This is NOT how big boys (corporates) buy their software. They like it slow, at par with their pace. If it's too easy, they won't use it.
dreamdu5t 2 days ago 0 replies      
Don't make pretentious statements like, "Get ready to leave your bank" before telling me how you solve any of my problems. It's almost insulting.
AndreyKarpov 1 day ago 0 replies      
Good article! I read this article and was glad. I am pleased that we are moving in the right direction. We watched as our competitors sell Coverity (http://www.coverity.com/) and Klocwork (http://www.klocwork.com/). The process is very complicated. We (http://www.viva64.com/) have avoided almost all of the items listed in the article. Cool.
mattdeboard 2 days ago 0 replies      
New Relic really gets all these right too.
zyeljanee 1 day ago 0 replies      
Talking about sale of software, many people are searching for App Stores. What are the consequences behind this. Talking about sale of software, many people are searching for App Stores. What are the concequences behide this.
bipolarla 1 day ago 0 replies      
Anyone think Apps will one day replace websites? I notice many individuals and businesses still having a regular website. In 5-10 years will there be no websites and only apps? I actually like working on a larger computer be it on apps or websites. I know the phone market will continue to expand especially in China, Russia, India, and Brazil. Microsoft still feels they have value in new versions of Windows. What do you think?
WikiLeaks begins publishing 5 million emails from Stratfor pastebin.com
399 points by rdp  5 days ago   127 comments top 26
steve8918 5 days ago 2 replies      
Like other HN members, I'm also a Strafor subscriber and my details and credit card information were leaked, so I have a vested interest in this issue.

At first I was pretty supportive of Stratfor, and thought that Anonymous attacking Stratfor was completely stupid.

However, a couple of things from the news release caught my eye. I guess I was naive, but I believed that Strafor was more like a news agency, and they would do their best work to uncover information, analyze breaking situations, and supply information to its members.

However, from reading the news release from Wikileaks, I get the vague sense that maybe Stratfor was gathering a lot more information than I thought, using it to their advantage, and then throwing a bone to its subscribers every now and then, just enough to keep them subscribing and generating income.

It certainly seems like there's a lot more going under the covers than I anticipated. The comment about "Control means financial, sexual or psychological control... This is intended to start our conversation on your next phase." makes it seem like Friedman is more than willing to make anyone their pawns, including subscribers.

Also, the idea of their StratCap Fund really kind of makes me question exactly what they are. I thought their motivations were really about analysis and information, but I kind of don't believe that now. At first, I didn't think the emails themselves were important, but now I'm definitely going to be keeping a close eye on whatever gets turned up from this point on.

kylemaxwell 5 days ago 1 reply      
I've read STRATFOR's intel summaries / newsletters for a while - and I generally support Wikileak's and Anonymous's goals, if not always their specific tactics. So this is grabbing my interest, both personally and professionally. If nothing else, it will be interesting to consider ways to apply their methodology to the sort of threat intelligence we work with in network security.

(Side note: it's entirely possible to support Wikileaks and still think Assange is kind of a jerk.)

SkyMarshal 5 days ago 1 reply      
An interesting article popped up on G+ the other day, outlining the effects the Cablegate release has had:


TLDR: US Government got mud on its face, but dictators around the world faired much worse, and the fallout for them is ongoing.

tzs 5 days ago 8 replies      
How is Stratfor fundamentally different from Wikileaks? They both obtain leaked information, often by methods of questionable legality. Stratfor uses the information to make reports and newsletters they sells to governments, businesses, and ordinary curious members of the public, whereas Wikileaks releases it for free but in ways that seemed designed to promote Assange, but I wouldn't say these are fundamental differences.

If Wikileaks were truly about bringing secret information to light, wouldn't they be protecting other leak organizations, rather that exposing their sources?

joeyh 5 days ago 0 replies      
Buried in the mass of text at
is this interesting thing:

"WikiLeaks is about to launch a distributed, encrypted "Facebook for revolutionaries" (https://wlfriends.org/)."


I see no evidence it's truely distributed though.

r4vik 5 days ago 2 replies      
Anyone got a full dump? I want to run the from/to's through a network analysis to understand who the 'supernodes' or connectors are at stratfor.
mr_eel 5 days ago 1 reply      
Anyone commenting about the supposed irony of Wikileaks putting an embargo on releasing this information before an agreed date is being naive.

At one point in time Wikileak's stated mission was just to leak information, and this was done without " comparatively " much fanfare.

What we see now is a change of tactics. If the ultimate goal is not simply to leak information, but to effect change, then what is the best way to do this?

A coordinated, simultaneous release has a better chance of being noticed by more people and thus a greater chance of effecting some meaningful change.

We can disagree on tactics. Assuming you believe their goals are reasonable, what else could they do? I'm not suggesting there are not other options, but I rarely read any suggestions of a better way.

biot 5 days ago 1 reply      
It's not without a sense of irony that WikiLeaks puts an embargo on the press release and asks that news organizations not leak the story beforehand.
revelation 5 days ago 4 replies      
Still think this is misguided. STRATFOR isn't the CIA; they like to pretend for marketing and what not, but they are obviously not the enemy here.
rdp 5 days ago 1 reply      
One of the more interesting things to emerge from this is Strafor's failed attempt to create a hedge fund that would use their intelligence to invest in government bonds, currency, etc.
Vivtek 5 days ago 0 replies      
Unfortunately, I don't see any timetable for release of the entire corpus; if they're going to release 167 emails per day, that's going to take 82 years.
some1else 5 days ago 0 replies      
Took a peek at a few emails. It looks like some of their 'analysts' are what people call 'social media experts'.

I was beginning to wonder what kind of job that skill set can land you.

SonicSoul 5 days ago 0 replies      
hmm.. so no one commented on pastebin being used as a newsletter CMS. i guess this is common practice? i guess this is in tune with those stories about using git as publishing platform
spitfire 5 days ago 0 replies      
I hope no one is surprised by this. If governments are willing to spend billions upon billions for intelligence, why wouldn't private corporations. Hell I've throughout of doing this a few times - then I think about the work it entails.

I bet there'll bee som interesting, actionable material in there.

wxs 5 days ago 2 replies      
I found this one particularly fun to read: http://wikileaks.org/gifiles/docs/1239829_fyi-.html Sorry, it's a doc).

A glossary of the intelligence jargon that they use, written in an entertaining style.

senthilnayagam 4 days ago 0 replies      
The one issue concerning London Olympics is Dow Chemicals sponsoring it, but there has been opposition in India and NGO for their role in Bhopal Gas Tragedy in 1984.

If stratfor was gathering intelligence and buying silence for Dow, then it would be indictment and self implication

kristianp 5 days ago 1 reply      
Where is the data itself? I can't find a link to it, possibly it's not available yet?
veb 5 days ago 2 replies      
Well... this is going to be interesting. Forgive my ignorance, but this feels like its going to hurt a lot of people.
cenuij 5 days ago 0 replies      
So which one is it?

* Fuck yeah, america!!!! killing our own troups just because
* Fuck yeah, amerida!!?! killing everyone just because.

cenuij 5 days ago 0 replies      
Manning perhaps had the guts to remind you all of your constitution. If you are prepared to ignore your constitution then I will ignore all the things that make U.S.A. great.
cenuij 5 days ago 0 replies      
manning must die/pay: What kind of backward society would prosecute this?
cenuij 5 days ago 1 reply      
Are you wankers still intent on the prossecustion[spelling] of Manning?
cenuij 5 days ago 2 replies      
The charge levelled @manning doesn't concern you all?
eta_carinae 4 days ago 1 reply      
> The material contains privileged information about the US government's attacks against Julian Assange and WikiLeaks and Stratfor's own attempts to subvert WikiLeaks.

I'm getting tired of Wikileak's bullshit. Either you have proof about this and you should just publish it in a pastebin, or you shut up. You don't publish 5 million emails and hint that there is material in there that could take down governments.

tfh 5 days ago 0 replies      
It will take some time until people will filter interesting stuff out.
Why I Don't Do Unpaid Overtime and Neither Should You thecodist.com
386 points by qw  3 days ago   253 comments top 47
grellas 3 days ago  replies      
The U.S. has a strong free enterprise foundation and its laws reflect this. Freedom of contract remains the rule even though it is much criticized in some circles and has been hedged considerably over the years. In employment, the old rule was that you could pretty much fire anyone at will for any reason and, if you did, you incurred no legal consequence. This is pure freedom of contract. In time, this unrestricted freedom came to be deemed repugnant where it bumped into important social policies - for example, that employers not discriminate on the basis of race. Hence, protective laws were passed and these circumscribed the old unrestricted freedom to have pure at-will employment relationships that gave an employer an open ticket to fire people for any reason whatever, even a repugnant one. That said, however, when you get down to the day-to-day employment relationships that most of us encounter, the at-will rules still prevail and, with limited exceptions, it really does remain the case that most people can be fired for any reason at any time and almost always without legal consequence. This may be seen as good or bad but it is the way of life under U.S. law with its strong bent toward free enterprise and freedom of contract.

The same pertains to overtime rules for employees. The U.S. does have a body of protective laws that require employers to pay overtime for excess hours worked, either by the day or by the week. But the historic relationship between employer and employee had a strong bias toward freedom of contract - that is, if an employer and an employee agreed to a certain working relationship, that was their prerogative and the government had no say in the matter. Again, this older form of unrestricted freedom led to consequences deemed repugnant as a matter of social policy (e.g., sweatshops). Thus, laws were enacted to abridge the older unrestricted freedom of contract (wage and hour laws, in the example considered here). But, as in the case of at-will rules, these laws did not disturb the large measure of freedom of contract that formerly prevailed except for the specific situations where a policy judgment was made that the workers were most vulnerable and in need of protection. Thus, U.S. overtime rules apply without question to low-skilled jobs and to low-paying jobs and to jobs where the employees have little or no independence or control over how they perform their duties. But these protective rules can and do peacefully co-exist with an equally important set of rules providing that high-skilled employees, skilled professionals, employees with substantial administrative responsibilities with managerial functions, and like positions are expressly exempted from the overtime rules. The idea is that, in a free economy, as a matter of policy, it is better for parties to retain freedom in defining the work requirements of a position than for the government to dictate protective rules where the parties are not deemed in need of protection. In other words, the employer-employee relationships for such exempt categories are deemed to be healthier if the parties are free to negotiate salary/bonuses or other compensation that is not tied to rigid rules about overtime. The laws let the parties have much more flexibility in deciding how to frame their relationships, and this basically reflects the old-style freedom of contract that has always characterized the U.S. economy. Protections were adopted as deemed necessary but they are limited as a matter of public policy. This can be seen as good or bad but it is the law in the U.S.

What does this mean in practice? It means, for example, that a computer professional can be paid a salary of $100K/yr and be asked to work like a slave, all without overtime compensation. But that same professional, if paid $30K/yr, is required to be paid overtime for excess hours worked, even if that person is on salary. One case is treated as appropriate for free choice by the parties without overriding restrictions; the other is not. And the difference, in this case, turns on the amount of salary paid - the highly-paid worker is treated as being able to protect his own interests while the relatively low-paid worker is not.

Europe clearly has taken a different approach and this too can be seen as good or bad depending on one's perspective. In general, in Europe, the idea of open-ended freedom of contract is suppressed in favor of more sweeping protective laws favoring employees. Whether this leads to a robust economy or chokes enterprise is open to debate but it clearly differs from the U.S. approach.

In this piece, the author criticizes the U.S. employment pattern as, in effect, requiring exempt computer professionals to work for free when they are required to work excessive hours tied to a fixed salary. In making this point, the author admits that his European biases are showing. The "U.S. view," if I can call it that, is not that the worker is being made to work for free but rather that the worker has not agreed to be paid by any hourly measure but rather for an overall performance to be rendered, no matter how many hours it takes. This might be regarded as "slavery," but (taking, for example, the exemption for executives) does anyone really believe that top executives have as their focus the exact number of hours worked as opposed to broader goals related to their job performance. The same can be said of professionals, as many computer professionals look primarily to the task and not to the hourly measure as the mark of their jobs. In my field, lawyers too see the hours worked as entirely secondary to their jobs. For every such executive and professional who would be deemed "helped" by overtime laws that might be extended to apply to their jobs, there would undoubtedly be many who would recoil at the limitations of suddenly not being able to do their jobs without regard to the scope of hours worked. I don't believe that most such employees see their work as "slavery" when they have to work excessive hours. I think they see it as career development. And, in any case, the U.S. law gives such employees freedom to become "slaves" if they so choose for their own reason. It is the old freedom of contract and highly skilled, highly compensated workers in the U.S. retain that freedom to choose, as do their employers.

Work-life balance is very important as well, a point the author emphasizes. He seems to have made that choice later in life (as did I) and I commend him for it. But, while I can exhort others too to strive for such balance, I will not begrudge them the choice to work exceedingly hard (especially as they are first developing in their careers) to achieve other "unbalanced" goals. People do accomplish insanely great things by working insanely hard. If they choose to do this in their work as employees, that is their privilege and, as long as they are highly-skilled and highly compensated, I say more power to them if they do it without the benefit of protective labor laws.

snprbob86 3 days ago 1 reply      
When I worked for a big company, I had a very simple rule:

If I make a promise to my team that I can reasonably keep, I owe it to them to do so.

I'd generally aim to under-promise and over-deliver, while feeling like I'm making a comprable (or bigger!) contribution in comparison to my peers. After some practice at this, I got reasonably good at estimating work. I'd work 20 to 50 hours per week depending on how accurately I estimate, usually aiming for (an achieving) about 35 hours of work. Only once or twice did I ever feel like I really put in any serious "overtime" and I blame that on estimation inexperience.

I made it a point to explain this philosophy (sans actual target hours) to every manager I've ever had. I always fed them the "Work/Life Balance" party line and reminded them that if I wanted my work to be my life, I'd join a startup (I have since founded one). They all seemed to appreciate my being forthcoming.

Once or twice I got a panicked email. The team was going to miss a deadline unless I stepped up to help out! Each time I replied that I had expressed my concerns about scope and timeline during the planning meetings. I'd remind the panicked person that we could simply cut the feature (always an option for a previously shipped product) and would offer my help and time in doing so. No one ever took me up on it.

alan_cx 3 days ago  replies      
I don't know much about US employment law, and what I do know, I don't like. But what I do know is this:

No employer has ever, ever given me free money, and I have never expected it. There for, I have never ever given an employer free time, and never ever will.

To do different is insane. It lowers one's worth since the deal is an exchange of money for time. It makes the employer think your free time is theirs to exploit and frankly damn wrong.

Like I say, the day employers give out free money is the time I give out free time.

spinlock 3 days ago 2 replies      
Here's my problem with people who put in 80 hours a week: they don't write good code. At my first job - way back in the last millenium - we were creating a carrier class network device. I was hired to run the mail servers but ended up building an embedded linux that ran the PowerPC on our hardware - we also had a Strong ARM that ran a gig ethernet but that was under another guy. So, how did I go from mail server to an integral piece of the product? I took over for the guy who put a lot of time into not solving a problem. Before you can even get linux running on your hardware, you need a boot loader to initialize your hardware and get it into a state where linux will run. Our "hard worker" volunteered to write a boot loader and spent 60+ hours a week for the next 6 months writing it. But it never worked.

Management decided to let me take a crack at the boot loader. Now, I was in my early 20's. I had bars to drink at, a girlfriend to get some lovin' from, and parties to go to. I didn't want to spend 60 hours a week at my desk. So, I did what any lazy hacker would do: I found an open source project that was close to what we needed. The project I started from was PPCBoot and it was started by Wolfgang Denk for the purpose of booting hardware running a Power PC processor. I spent 2 weeks telling everyone else in the company that I needed their help on X, Y or Z; getting them to write some code; and burning the new version of PPCBoot onto the flash chip. After 2 40 hour weeks, something amazing happened: it worked. It configured the hardware and handed control to linux which booted up.

Anyway, that's my reason not to spend more than 40 hours at work in a week. All of the people who I've seen put in all those hours aren't really working. They're just playing with a neat project because they've always wanted to write a boot loader. The purpose of you job isn't to write code, it's to ship a product. If you keep that in the front of your mind at all times and focus your efforts on shipping product, you can "work" 40 hours a week and code a pet project on your own time.

cletus 3 days ago 6 replies      
This is a rant that's a bit all over the place.

The author points out a lot of exceptions (eg working at a startup or somewhere where you might get something out of it). If you take out all those exceptions, you basically end up with the crap jobs.

The real problems with a crap job isn't the unpaid overtimes... it's that it's a crap jobs.

The fact is though, you get as much out of pretty much anything in life as you put in. If you want to working 9-5 5 days a week, you can probably find a job that'll let you do that if you try, which is fine, but I probably wouldn't expect anything but stagnating in it.

I too have been a contractor. Never again. It's the ultimate in transactional work [1]. When I did do it though, I always negotiated an hourly rate. Employers love a daily rate because what is a day exactly? An hour is unambiguous.

Health insurance in the US is a problem. This is known. The lack of vacation here is (IMHO) a problem too.

I now have a great job and I have it because I put in effort (both at work and outside). YMMV.

[1]: http://cdixon.org/2009/10/23/twelve-months-notice/

forcefsck 3 days ago 1 reply      
I agree with the author. We work to make a living, not live to work.

However, he thinks that in Europe there are more human conditions. Well, this is rapidly changing towards the american system. E.g. the bail out for Greece was offered with the exchange of passing new employment rules. Some of them are enabling employers to demand for more work time without extra compensation, or to fire much more easily without specific reasons. Another nice change, not yet implemented but soon to be, the employee will not get the full monthly salary if he had any sick days.

Furthermore, the public pension funds and health care is being demolished. Soon the only option will be to get in a insurance plan offered by your company (big companies have already started to offer such plans). So except if you're one of the very few top talented people, soon you'll be very depended on your job and will be forced to accept to work more working hours without any additional benefit.

Romania has already moved that way, and Italy will follow soon. And the rest of Europe after that.

This mentality that you must sacrifice your life for the benefit of your company, it is just absurd. If the law was enforcing less working hours and bigger compensations for overtime, there wouldn't be any competitiveness excuse. And the developed world should enforce the same work rules to the developing countries.

It's absurd, especially if you think about how much the unemployment rates have risen and how much the technology today automates tasks so no humans are needed, and the production of material goods is so high that most products are never sold and end in the recycle bin. It screams about lowering the working hours and the retirement limits instead of raising them.

TDL 3 days ago 0 replies      
Please stop comparing overworking or non-optimal work conditions as slave labor. Slavery means you can not, either because of the law or threat of violence, leave the service of your master.

I've had bad jobs in my day. One I left (I was a "partner" @ startup) and it was a financially bad decision, yet it was one of the best decisions I ever made. Here is the difference between slavery & a crappy job; a person can choose to leave the crappy job even if it means living hand-to-mouth a slave can't.

I generally agree with what this author is saying. The best way to start thinking about your job is as though you are a contractor and your employer is your client. Remove the boss/employee template from your mind and start using the client/contractor template.

leppie 3 days ago 0 replies      
Like the old saying goes:

"I work for money. If you want loyalty, get a dog."

minikomi 3 days ago 1 reply      
I work 3 days a week for quite a large social game / mobile web company here in Tokyo. They are asking me every 3 months to become a "Seishain" - full time employee - but I will continue to take the no-benifits, paid by the hour option. The pay's not great but I'm learning a lot. And I can go home on the dot at 6.. However, everyone who is not part time is here before I arrive, and stays after I leave. . . .
wisty 3 days ago 2 replies      
Towards the end, he gets to the main point - the US health system is not set up for people who aren't wage slaves for a big company. The idea that a company should pay your pension is also kind of dumb.
buff-a 3 days ago 2 replies      
If you lose your job you may have to pay a lot more (COBRA) for a limited time

No, you'll pay the same as you were paying. Its just that before, you thought you were being paid $100,000 when in fact you were being paid $120,000, and out of that came your health insurance and the other (more-than-) half of your social security and income taxes.

justinhj 3 days ago 0 replies      
I have worked at game development companies for nearly 20 years. Initially I worked a lot of overtime for free,but after a couple of years I started to feel the effects on my life. After that I mostly just did not do OT unless it was paid. One year on a badly run project I doubled my salary through OT pay, and though my life outside work was not good I was able to put a significant amount of money aside. The following year hourly OT pay was gone, but the expectations were not. I made it clear I would only do OT on rare occasions, such as my work falling behind and a colleague being dependent on it at the weekend, when he would be working and I would be having a life. Even this caused resentment and I had to do the walk of shame at 5pm every day, and I was laid off as soon as the game shipped. The sense of personal failure was very hard on me at the time, but 12 years down the line, I've had a successful career in games, while being upfront at the hiring stage about my attitude to OT. I have worked a handful of weekend days and never later than 8pm in the week. I didn't miss my son growing up, and I read him a bedtime story every night. I don't think this is possible for every programmer and every company, but you can make it work.
x5315 3 days ago 8 replies      
I work at Twitter, where i regularly work longs hours (my standard work day is something like 10 - 19:30) and am frequently on call. I even spend time at the weekends thinking and hacking on specific problems.

I feel that the author's post doesn't apply in my case, because:

- Some of the problems i work on are amazing. They're interesting and fun, and i enjoy them outside the normal "work hours".

- Twitter has an "unlimited""be respectful to your team"holiday policy. I've probably taken about 6-7 weeks off in my one and a quarter years here.

- Breakfast, lunch, and dinner are served for free. While you might not count that as 'being paid overtime', the costs of food can add up.

- This behaviour is not required. I know people who do 9-5 and that's it. They get their work done within deadlines, and there's no issue with that.

So, am i to assume that Twitter is a huge exception? I'm not so sure. I think that while Twitter is a special environment, there are many companies that offer similar benefits.

Maybe the real statement shouldn't be "don't do unpaid overtime", but:

"Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven't found it yet, keep looking. Don't settle." - Steve Jobs

gnosis 3 days ago 0 replies      
The culture of overwork in America in general (not just in IT) seems simply pathological, and I just don't understand it.

The crazy overtime that people in the medical profession are expected to put in is probably one of the most egregious examples, because lives could literally be lost as a consequence of errors made due to lack of sleep and overwork.

Lawyers are typically worked to death at law firms.

Wall St is famous for making people slave away virtually non-stop -- making work your life and having no life outside of work is quite common. Of course, big bonuses are promised -- and delivered to senior people -- but more junior people often aren't so lucky.

Even teachers, who many people think "have it so easy", actually spend a huge amount of time outside of school hours grading papers and making lesson plans. Their "long vacations" are also typically filled with work-related activities.

And don't even get me started on how low-wage employees and undocumented workers are typically treated.

It seems no matter where I look, people are working their assess off in America -- and suffering the consequences: burnout, a shitty life/work balance through which their families, friends, and their non-work lives suffer.

And for what? It's not like many of the companies these people work for couldn't afford to hire more people to reduce the workload to sane levels.

I'm really amazed at how highly skilled employees at prestigious law firms and Wall St firms are made to work like mad. Those firms could easily afford to hire more junior people to pick up some of the lower-level work -- but they don't.

As a result, a lot of these firms are like revolving doors, with people dropping like flies. The carrots of money are dangled in front of their faces, but otherwise the firms don't really seem to care about their employees -- and will often drop them without a second thought (even if business suffers as a result, which it often does).

And it's just so incredibly dangerous and downright unethical to make doctors and nurses work a crazy amount of overtime with little or no sleep.

Why is it so difficult for these companies to offer their employees a healthy life/work balance? Why is a big paycheck is supposed to solve everything? Why don't more companies offer their employees a healthy amount of time to sleep at night instead of just more cash?

Business will improve as productivity improves as a result (and business should know this well by now, as there have been tons of studies to show it). Employees and their families will be healthier and happier. Healthy and happy employees are clearly better employees, especially compared to the super-stressed near-burnout heart attack candidates that so many of these firms seem to prefer to cultivate.

Improving the life/work balance seems like a huge win-win situation for both employers and employees, and a no-brainer. What am I missing?

orblivion 3 days ago 0 replies      
Well, I have an American way of looking at things. Why is 40 hours the magical number? Why is it that you're working for free after that point? He was correct in the first place that it's devaluing your hourly worth (assuming time is fungible). But guess what, if you can't get the job done that the employer wants to pay you the given salary for in the 40 hours you expected to satisfy him with, and the employer would let you go if you told him that this wasn't what you signed up for, you are devalued. The employer hired you for a certain amount of work and was willing to pay a certain amount of money for it. If you made an agreement about the work to be accomplished, and did not make an agreement about hours, and you end up working 80 hours a week, you are being paid overtime. Your base salary is just much lower because you're not worth very much to that particular employer at the base salary.

Now, if the employer would not fire you if you put your foot down, it's a matter of knowing your true worth. And I definitely agree it's worth doing this if you end up in this sort of situation. Either you part ways from a job that isn't worth it to you, or you get the conditions that are worth it to you. Negotiations have some leeway, you don't really know what the other person is willing to give up.

wyclif 3 days ago 0 replies      
which is not all that common in this industry

In context, it sounds like he means "which is not uncommon in this industry."

kamaal 3 days ago 0 replies      
Its not always about the money I earn now, or over the next two weeks. Looking at thing from that perspective is not just a narrow minded way of looking but a very destructive thing over the longer run.

I push 16 hours work day packed with productivity at the extreme, why? Sure I don't get paid for all that immediately. But bear in mind incrementally over the years I have learned tons more than the average guy. I am also better trained to perform on my current job than my peers. The chances of me doing some thing big are higher, I am better aligned to a good job/promotion or a raise.

Basically when somebody is talking of career development and over time this is what they mean.

I joined this industry 5 years back. Without fancy degrees, Ivy league brand, marks and grades. Today I'm far ahead of most of my peers who joined with me then. Ofcourse I have faced a lot of ridicule, mockery as to why like a fool I do so much work for free. I am not doing anything for free, I am just ok with temporary loss in compensation for a premium later.

In you and your research by Richard Hamming - http://www.cs.virginia.edu/~robins/YouAndYourResearch.html , This point is mentioned:

Now for the matter of drive. You observe that most great scientists have tremendous drive. I worked for ten years with John Tukey at Bell Labs. He had tremendous drive. One day about three or four years after I joined, I discovered that John Tukey was slightly younger than I was. John was a genius and I clearly was not. Well I went storming into Bode's office and said, ``How can anybody my age know as much as John Tukey does?'' He leaned back in his chair, put his hands behind his head, grinned slightly, and said, ``You would be surprised Hamming, how much you would know if you worked as hard as he did that many years.'' I simply slunk out of the office!

What Bode was saying was this: ``Knowledge and productivity are like compound interest.'' Given two people of approximately the same ability and one person who works ten percent more than the other, the latter will more than twice outproduce the former. The more you know, the more you learn; the more you learn, the more you can do; the more you can do, the more the opportunity - it is very much like compound interest. I don't want to give you a rate, but it is a very high rate. Given two people with exactly the same ability, the one person who manages day in and day out to get in one more hour of thinking will be tremendously more productive over a lifetime. I took Bode's remark to heart; I spent a good deal more of my time for some years trying to work a bit harder and I found, in fact, I could get more work done. I don't like to say it in front of my wife, but I did sort of neglect her sometimes; I needed to study. You have to neglect things if you intend to get what you want done. There's no question about this.

And trust me this incremental learning and productivity give mindblowing results over time.

Androsynth 3 days ago 1 reply      
I used to work at a company that routinely worked people well over 40 hours/week. I left because I felt I was losing the best years of my life doing tedious projects, however I know a lot of people who stayed and who still work there. Its not like people don't know the situation. No one looks at routine 60 hour weeks and says 'yeah, this is about right'.

Everyone has their own reasons for staying, or for leaving. One big reason is the 120k yearly salary they make (in SF). But NONE of these people are slaves. Anyone who uses the term slaves loses all credibility. Feel free to call them sheeple all you want, but they're not slaves.

People need to learn from their own mistakes. You can't teach people lessons on a grand scale. Everyone needs to find their own career paths.

The biggest problem with employment is not that we need more regulation (no no no we dont), its that we have a culture where we view jobs as privileges rather than simply: me exchanging my time for your money. (as others have pointed out, health care issues are a big factor here)

thurn 3 days ago 5 replies      
You should be paid to do a fixed amount of work (generate a certain amount of value for your employer), not work a fixed number of hours. If you can get that work done in 10 hours a week, everybody wins. If you need to work 70 hours a week to do that work, well, maybe you're not a good fit for the job.
jcromartie 3 days ago 1 reply      
All I want to know is: why do I have to work as many (unpaid) hours as necessary to get the job done, but I have to count the hours I take off?
ggwicz 3 days ago 0 replies      
"For men fright at relinquishing their material goods, but shackle their time to others willingly."

This is a paraphrased quote from a weird version of the Stoic Philosophy of Seneca; I'm sure the correct quote is out there, but hopefully you get the point:

Your time is your most valuable asset. Dole it out like your employers (or clients, etc.) dole out their money: carefully.

I know people who'll complain about taxes, drive further to get to a cheaper gas station, order goods in bulk to save money, etc. all to save some cash. Rarely do these people have this diligence with the allotment of their time.

Be careful and cautious with how you use your time. View it as something being spent, and if higher dollars means less free hours then don't do it.

This philosophy, in my (albeit small amount of) experience, helps you avoid a lot of the issues OP brings up.

Be careful, people. Paper money can blow away in the wind but then be recouped fairly easily. The few seconds you spent reading this comment, for example? Permanently gone. Be wary of how you spend your time...

smadam9 3 days ago 3 replies      
What about the part where programmers work overtime, but not because they are demanded to?

I consistently see programmers, even in my own team, who happily stay 60-70 hours per week because the idea/concept they are working on means something significant to them.

I find this phenomenon to be the exception of what your post has mentioned. Although the post was mostly accurate, I encounter this exception on a daily basis.

While those 60-70 hrs./week aren't at 100% efficiency, the idea that a programmer will stay the extra time to produce high quality work while maintaining their own personal life says a lot about their view of their job and career. To some, it's just that - a job. However, others see it as an art (just as any profession, I suppose) and strive to increase their skills - they understand that invested time equals increased knowledge and a more refined skill set.

Strom 3 days ago 1 reply      
In Europe your health is not tied to your employment in any way.

This statement is just wrong. In Estonia, health insurance is subscription based, paid as a tax from your salary.

ChuckMcM 3 days ago 0 replies      
Wow, that's a pretty disjoint rant. It boils down to this:

"I'd rather have a work and life balance that I can enjoy."

Which has nothing to do really with working overtime and everything to do about how you approach work and life. I think one could boil down the philosophy into 'if you're working too much and your balance is out of whack, then quit.' And it is quite reasonable. In the Bay Area families can be especially hard hit by people who over commit.

That being said, in spite of the Author's disdain for economics, the interrelationship between who is available to work, pay, and whether or not they are willing to stay, does 'fix' the problem magically.

smallegan 3 days ago 1 reply      
I'm not a big fan of unionized work but it is worth mentioning that when developers agree to work in poor conditions like this it changes the social norm and negatively impacts the economics surrounding software development.

If 2 developers are working 60 hours a week they are essentially putting a third developer out of work. (I understand that studies show you can't be as productive over a certain number of hours but the principle remains the same) Unless there is a large pool of unemployed developers in the market this need for developer number 3 will in turn drive the cost for a developer up as the market will be more competitive. This is simply supply and demand at work.

mefistofele 3 days ago 4 replies      
Many industries are forbidden, by law, from unpaid overtime. The law specifically exempts the software industry from this requirement. Like so many other things about the culture here, this issue seems to come down to the US being afraid of its own shadow. We're the greatest country on Earth... we say so all the time. But to change the law and forbid unpaid overtime for the software industry, something that will make people's lives better here in the greatest country on Earth, is to risk losing all these programmers jobs overseas. A terrifying prospect. So we do nothing out of fear.
mathattack 3 days ago 0 replies      
Sometimes the overtime is implicit in the rate. If you joint a sweatshop that pays 100K, you know going in that it's not $50/hour for 2000 hours, it's more like $40/hour for 2500 or $33.33 for 3000. It's not unpaid, it's built into the expectation.

The real question is, "How much do you want to work?" If you are a talented hacker, you can answer that however you want. If you are 21 and looking for someone to teach you a trade while paying a good wage in a tough job market, it is a more difficult choice.

SonicSoul 3 days ago 0 replies      
i'm never a fan of these blanket statements such as "i won't work unpaid overtime". Some jobs are 35 hours, and some jobs are 70 hours. Some jobs pay 40k, and some jobs pay 200k. Who said that 40hr week is the holy and undisputed threshold everyone should abide by? Look at construction workers, some of them work from sun up to sun down, 6-7 days a week (i sure did when i was younger) and there is no such hour standard. Sure they are often paid on how much work gets done, but at the end of the month, many won't make more than someone with a good salary working in an office writing code. I am not trivializing writing code. that's what i do, and i often work 60-70hr weeks, and sometimes it's a stressful time. But i do get paid accordingly (not in overtime, but i consider my salary to be great), and i do get a lot more done than average person would in 40hrs. I guess if your employer tells you it will be 40hrs and it turns out to be 70, thats a problem. but in my experience most of the time you know exactly what you're getting into when accepting a job (besides occasional crunch times couple times a year).
phomer 3 days ago 0 replies      
When I get paid to work I really care that the work I do is worth the money I am paid. That is, if I'm paid for 40 hours, I feel its important to give my employer 40 hours of good solid work. From time to time, I don't mind going above and beyond, things happen and sometimes it takes a significant effort to correct them, a bit of overtime is fine. But I strongly feel that any of those companies that pay people for 40 hours of work, but generally expect them to work 60 or 80 hours most weeks are abusing the relationship on their side. What they are looking for is a seriously large discount in labor costs. Unless there is some 'other' form of compensation that balances it out, then it is clearly abusive (and quickly leads to burnout, so they aren't even getting value for the hours worked).


leventali 3 days ago 0 replies      
If you are constantly needing to work 70-80 hours a week that generally implies an issue with planning and/or engineering practices.
djhworld 3 days ago 1 reply      
There is no contract stipulation in my contract that says I might need to do overtime. The only mention of overtime is the fact that it is unpaid.

So I've never done it. I get in at 8:30am and leave at 5pm every day.

brudgers 3 days ago 0 replies      
The title is misleading.

[IANAL] In the United States, for a person in a salaried position, work week hours beyond 40 are not legally classified as overtime.

For salaried positions, the length of the workweek and compensation for additional hours are always subject to negotiation (for hourly positions compensation for overtime is also negotiable but cannot be less than the statutory minimums).

In my opinion, the author's analysis of economics entailed by salaried positions is rather naive. Hourly rate of pay is often less important than the monthly or weekly or yearly rate, i.e. cashflow is often the more important consideration. For example, if one's household maintenance is $10,000 per month, then monthly income, rather than hourly rate, is likely to be a more critical issue in regards to compensation.

mirsadm 3 days ago 0 replies      
I have noticed that the example you set when you start somewhere new is what is expected of you for the rest of your time at that company. To clarify, if you start a new job and work for free an extra 40 hours a week then you will forever be expected to do that.

I made the mistake of doing that to 'prove' myself and I ended up working very long hours at a place which I wasn't particularly fond of. The person sitting close to me worked exactly 8-5 from day one. Everybody knew he wouldn't be at work after 5 and they never expected it.

latch 3 days ago 2 replies      
This is stupid. Why? Because you are getting legal advice from someone who isn't a lawyer. The spirit of his post is fine, but the reality, for a lot of people, is very different.


In Ontario, the Employment Standards Act, which defines all of this (and a lot more) has a ton of exemptions. Here's the exemptions for "Information Technology Professionals":


Notice that we are exempt from "Hours of Work", "Daily Rest Periods" and "Overtime" to name a few. This means that, aside from your employment contract, there are no laws that protect your right to refuse unpaid (or paid) overtime.

joedev 3 days ago 0 replies      
fiznool 3 days ago 0 replies      
Whilst I agree with the general principle of not working yourself to death (nobody ever says on their death bed, 'I wish I'd spent more time in the office'), I think the author of this piece is missing something crucial.

I regularly work more than 40 hours a week, not because I have to, but because I want to learn. One day I'd like to go freelance or perhaps start up a business, but I need to skill up first. I'm lucky that I have a job in my chosen sector of mobile web development, something which pays me to learn about the technologies I am passionate about. I am seizing the opportunity to learn as much as possible so I can be in a position to just work when I want to in later life.

IMO the author is looking at this from an experienced point of view. Juniors and those starting out often have no choice but to work a little longer to get where they want to be in 20 years time. There's nothing wrong with that, surely?

spiralpolitik 3 days ago 0 replies      
Generally IMHO not paying overtime usually masks inefficiencies in your business. If someone is having to work 70-80 hour weeks to get the job done then something is messed up somewhere in your process.

Paying overtime is an easy way to spot these area as its immediately visible to any half brained manager.

jac_no_k 3 days ago 2 replies      
This doesn't work when one works in a multi-national company. My colleagues in other locations will eat my lunch because they are less concerned about work/life balance and a lot more hungry.
railsmax 3 days ago 0 replies      
That's really true And you are right about over hours. Why should I work more hours and receive money only for 40 hours a week? But sometimes(I mean my case) if you like your work and project and it is intereting to you to do this job, why not to work a little more for example, because sometimes you should finish task today - for your own purpose - not to forget smth. tomorrow. But I said that only for 1-or max 2 hours a day and only sometimes, and you can use this hours if you want for example leave work in friday earlier.
Flow 3 days ago 0 replies      
If there are no cost of overtime, I think the company lack a feedback on how well planning, estimation and execution do.

With no feedback there are less reason to change the company for the better.

hpguy 3 days ago 0 replies      
If you hate your job and have no interest in the success of your company, good advice. If you love your job, there's nothing wrong doing it a bit more. I sometimes see myself work 12 hours a day just because I can't get my mind of a coding problem. And I sincerely hope the company I work for become successful.
dustingetz 3 days ago 0 replies      
you get a bad deal when you negotiate without leverage.
ngokevin 3 days ago 1 reply      
Coming from a student, for those who might really enjoy the project they are working on and have a comfortable enough lifestyle to not worry about money, working more is its own reward. I am only paid for a maximum of 20 hours a week though I work more than that since I enjoy working.
joedev 3 days ago 0 replies      
"Work hard and go home!" - Amen, amen, amen!
eli_gottlieb 3 days ago 0 replies      
If you don't like unpaid overtime, move to Massachusetts! Programmers aren't overtime-exempt here.
pullo 3 days ago 0 replies      
first world problems
utkarshsinha 3 days ago 1 reply      
Do you know there are people working in sweatshops at really low wages? Be glad you're not there yet.
Balsamiq integrates with UX.StackExchange.com balsamiq.com
384 points by asder1  4 days ago   28 comments top 9
giberson 4 days ago 2 replies      
Whoops, here's an unfortunate UX hiccup in the implementation:

Here is how to edit someone else's mockup for your own post:

     1) edit the original question/answer containing the mockup you want to improve

2) copy the part between
<!-- Begin mockup
End mockup -->

3) hit cancel

4) .. more steps

This seems poorly planned to me. Instead, like the edit link, there should simply be an iterate link.

But otherwise, I think this is a very positive and helpful integration. Perhaps similar positive integration might be sites like JS fiddle that allow you to run code in the browser would be great integration for the programming stack overflows.

spicyj 4 days ago 5 replies      
I wonder how they can do this without compromising sales of their main product -- it seems like many people can now just use the free version linked from ux.se instead of getting a proper myBalsamiq account.
alanh 4 days ago 2 replies      
Always crazy ironic that Balsamiq requires Flash, possibly the most UX-hostile platform out there.

Strategically speaking it's awkward because Flash is literally dead†, and unavailable on the most popular couch computer ever, the iPad.

What's the UX look like for someone coming across one of these posts on their couch, now?

†Officially abandoned on mobile & Linux, as Adobe realigns Flash to niches like gaming

epaga 4 days ago 0 replies      
This is one of those beautiful win-win-win situations - everyone in this situation is happy - StackExchange, Balsamiq, and the users. What a great idea, and props to all involved for making it happen.
vessenes 4 days ago 0 replies      

My first words after reading, (and I'm alone in my office, so totally unsolicited) "Ohhh, how awesome is that!"

It's always nice when you can do something to make the world a better place at scale.

jessegavin 4 days ago 0 replies      
My company uses JIRA (with Balsamiq integration) and it rocks! I am so glad to have this implemented on the UX.SE site. Thanks.
lancefisher 4 days ago 0 replies      
Great idea. Having Balsamiq integrated into ux.stackexchange.com seems to be a win-win for both companies. Stackexchange get more tools for describing Q & A, and Balsamiq gets more people aware of and using their product.
kemka 4 days ago 1 reply      
Very cool indeed, but ironically, I don't think editing the wireframe is very "user friendly". Anything requiring me to click "edit" on someone's post, copying code, canceling, pasting, and THEN having the ability to edit the mockup isn't ideal.
robee 4 days ago 0 replies      
This is really awesome. I will use this a ton.
Verisign seizes .com domain registered via foreign registrar easydns.org
382 points by StuntPope  2 days ago   146 comments top 29
heyitsnick 2 days ago 4 replies      
The domain seizure is nothing out of the ordinary. At least a dozen have been seized over the last 12 months, including those during the indictments of Black Friday (nb pokerstars.com, fulltiltpoker.com have been handed black) and Blue Monday (at least 10 domains still under seizure including truepoker.com).

The domain itself (bodog.com) was unused. The operation continues under bovada.lv (for US) and bodog.eu/co.uk for European custom.

Nearly all US-facing gambling operations have been moved to non-dotcom domains (dot.eu, dot.co.uk and dot.ag - for Antigua and Bermuda - the most common) for this very reason.

To read more from an industry perspective [full disclosure, i am co-editor of this site]:

The domain seizure itself was of interest only as it showed the DOJ/DHS have a continued interest in trying to take down what it sees as illegal online gambling operators; that they can order a dot-com domain name seizure is par-for-the-course these days.

lhnn 2 days ago 5 replies      
“Sports betting is illegal in Maryland, and federal law prohibits bookmakers from flouting that law simply because they are located outside the country," DHS said.

LOL what? "You can't flout the law just because you're outside the jurisdiciton of the law".


Also, the crux of the article is that a .COM domain registered an operated by Canadian entities was "taken over" by Verisign at the behest of DHS. Verisign added NS records at the root to redirect the affected domain to a takedown page.

DanBC 2 days ago 1 reply      
I'm a bit confused by this thread. Can someone check this?

i) Doing trade with someone who is located in America means you have to obey those American laws? This seems reasonable, unless you've taken measure to exclude Americans ("Click here to agree that you're not in US" and using filters etc) and you're still getting done.

ii) It doesn't matter what domain name you use. But if you use a .com (and some others) the US can seize the domain names.

iii) Depending what country you are in the US may ask for an extradition because you broke an American law; even if what you did was legal in your country. Depending what country you're in (UK) that extradition request may be granted.

mike-cardwell 2 days ago 1 reply      
Seems to be down. Here's a clickable Google Cache link:


JumpCrisscross 2 days ago 2 replies      
There is a difference between a Canadian company doing business with Canadians on a .com domain and a Canadian company doing business with Canadians and Americans in the United States.

The analogy for finance, my industry, would be a hedge fund registered in the Caymans either trading US securities or trading with Americans in the United States (it gets sketchy if an American citizen comes to Switzerland to do a transaction) not getting to ignore SEC rules just because they're "not based in the US".

I'd get concerned about jurisdictional over-reach if a Spanish company doing business primarily in Spain (where American customers aren't specifically marketed to but may be picked up indirectly) got DMCA'd :). Though at this point I'm starting to think any content-based company should have a non-US domain and server at the very least ready as a fall-back in case of regulatory lunacy on the order of SOPA/PIPA.

rayiner 2 days ago 0 replies      
The gambling charges are pre-internet jurisdictional law. By doing business with citizens of Maryland, you bring yourself within Maryland's jurisdiction, at least to the scope of that business. Domains have nothing to do with why Maryland can enforce its gambling laws against a Canadian company.

The internet-age wrinkle is that by virtue of ".com" domains being property located in the US, they can be seized pursuant to these charges. Jurisdiction over property is very specific to the locality where the property is located. Maryland couldn't, for example, seize the company's real estate assets in Canada pursuant to its criminal charges for violation of Maryland law. Since all ".com" domains are logically located in the United States, that becomes a pretty substantial piece of leverage the U.S. has over other countries.

mbowcock 2 days ago 2 replies      
This seems to be the same issue as megaupload. A company outside the US, marketing a service that's illegal in the US to US citizens. Money paid for the service is then moved overseas. (I understand there may have been users in other countries, like megaupload)

While not something I necessarily agree with - I don't think this particular move indicates all .COMs are now threatened.

snowwrestler 2 days ago 1 reply      
Aren't there two elements to the question of jurisdiction here? The fact that .com is managed by Verisign is one (on which this article focuses), but the other is that Bodog was executing financial transactions with residents of Maryland. Thus, by doing business in the state, they expose themselves to that state's jurisdiction.

The big question is whether U.S. jurisdiction can extend beyond U.S. based border based solely upon the fact that Verisign is located in the U.S. For instance, if a Canadian set up a .com gambling site, but only did business with other Canadians, could MD prosecute the site owner based on MD state laws against online gambling? I would guess no. But I'm not a lawyer.

joejohnson 2 days ago 4 replies      
What is the safest ccTLD be for businesses to register under? .se?
veyron 2 days ago 0 replies      
Title of the article is

    Verisign seizes .com domain registered via foreign Registrar on behalf of US Authorities.

charlieok 2 days ago 1 reply      
One of the building blocks of developing an internet more resistant to abuses of power, alongside efforts such as Tor, is a distributed directory service as an alternative to the centralized DNS service.

I hope to be able to contribute toward some real progress in this area.

guan 2 days ago 1 reply      
How long before they pull something from the root zone using the same reasoning?
redthrowaway 2 days ago 1 reply      
>Of course, the replacement of ICANN will never happen

What's the reasoning behind this? I agree that we will likely not see a new body in charge of that which ICANN currently does, but there's no reason why a parallel system couldn't arise should DC go overboard with its malfeasant retardation.

ICANN has inertia, but if it continues to fail to protect the Internet, something else will pop up.

greedoshotlast 2 days ago 0 replies      
At least a warrant was filled. In the recent JotForms takedown no warrant was filled. It just disappeared off the face of the planet. That is mainly my argument: the US Secret Service or any government organization has no right to make sites, it JotForms's case a legitimate business, just disappear from the face of the planet without due process.
ghshephard 2 days ago 0 replies      
At least it should now be clear to anyone purchasing a .com domain that they have to comply with all US laws and regulations or risk suffering forfeiture of their property.

If you want to work under the laws of the UK, acquire a co.uk site.

overshard 2 days ago 0 replies      
Good to see that the .com tld will finally start to become a non-priority thanks to this. People/startups/companies in other countries will hopefully start to think twice before they purchase a .com domain name and consider using their own countries tld or a tld more appropriate to their website.
jacquesm 2 days ago 1 reply      
High time to relieve verisign of their .com registry freeride and move it to an international body.
AJ007 2 days ago 0 replies      
Everyone everywhere is subject to US law. On the extreme end of the spectrum, the US will send their military and remove your government if you are non-cooperative.
jrockway 2 days ago 0 replies      
I can live with this. DNS is an insecure and non-robust system, and the modern Internet has broken it. The good news is, we know the weaknesses and how to defend against them, so at some time in the future, DNS buggery will no longer be possible.
gbaygon 2 days ago 1 reply      
I have a doubt, if megaupload would have been megaupload.hk instead of .com, could the fbi have acted the same way?
AshleysBrain 2 days ago 0 replies      
Could this set a precedent in the SOPA vein of things?
schwit 2 days ago 2 replies      
Not just .com. US law applies to any TLD managed by a US registrar. An example is .tv which is managed by Verisign.
elb0w 2 days ago 0 replies      
Next, U.S. Government declares anyone buying a non us domain (.com, .net, org, .biz and maybe .info) will be considered a terrorist.
vlnul 2 days ago 1 reply      
Hypothetically, how difficult should be for civilians build root servers? After that what we need is to update the bind package right?
jenncom 2 days ago 0 replies      
playnow.com is a gambling website operating in Canada but registered in the US through Verisign/Netsol. The only difference in this case is the BC gov't owns and operates playnow.com. I wonder if the US will seize this domain name too because gambling is illegal in the US?
mariuolo 1 day ago 0 replies      
I was waiting for this to happen.
dpearce 2 days ago 1 reply      
It looks like all Bodog did is relaunch as Bovada.lv
desaiguddu 2 days ago 0 replies      
isn't it ridiculous??????
bryanlarsen 2 days ago 1 reply      
I'm getting a database error so I can't see the actual article, but I disagree. One case is enough to prove that it can be done, and it may possibly happen again. Even if this gets successfully challenged, in the interim all .COM registrations are potentially at risk.
Comparing PHP, Perl, Python and Ruby hyperpolyglot.org
370 points by charlax  3 days ago   87 comments top 22
raymondh 3 days ago 2 replies      
This is a wonderful recap of the different ways of expressing the same idea in different languages. It is a fine Rosetta Stone.

That being said, it would also be useful to characterize features that are completely unique to a given language. For example, Python has 1) a unique and powerful version of super() for working with multiple inheritance; 2) it has generators (the yield statement) that allows state to be suspended and restarted (and allows data and/or exceptions to be passed back in to the generator); 3) the with-statement for managing contexts and for providing a new way to factor code; 4) easy-to-write class and function decorators; 5) metaclass support that provides full control over the creation of classes; 6) and descriptors for fine-control over attribute/method binding behavior.

Collectively, these capabilities make the language more than just another syntax for expressing the same ideas as other languages.

rll 3 days ago 1 reply      
Note that anywhere you see array() in that list for PHP 5.4 you can replace it with [ ]'s. So the example that has:

  $a = array(1,2,array(3,4));


  $a = [1,2,[3,4]];



works in 5.4.

notJim 3 days ago 1 reply      
This is a really great effort, but I noticed a handful of areas where the PHP example was off. I wonder if people with more experience with the other languages noticed the same thing for their language.

Some examples:

Null test:

    $var === null // omitted
isset($var) // actually checks if $var exists and is not null (apparently--
I actually didn't know about the not null part)

Undefined variable access: it's a notice. Many people consider it best practice in PHP to treat notices as error, because things like this are notices.

Add time duration

    strtotime('+10 minutes') is more typical than the objects

Array out of bounds behavior again issues a notice.

verelo 3 days ago 1 reply      
This is great. Very handy for explaining to others the differences between various languages, and surprisingly enough until you get into the array functions i'm starting to feel like PHP isn't really that messy since reading this!

Thanks for sharing, ill pass it on whenever a comparison is needed.

ars 3 days ago 0 replies      
Previous discussion: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=2882070 with lots of bug reports. I wonder if they incorporated all the changes suggested.
citizenkeys 3 days ago 4 replies      
sed begat awk.

awk begat perl.

perl begat python and ruby.

python will get you a job at google.

ruby will get you a job at twitter.

php will get you a job at facebook.

tikhonj 3 days ago 0 replies      
Here's a simpler comparison with way more langauges: http://rigaux.org/language-study/syntax-across-languages/Str...
berntb 3 days ago 0 replies      
A very useful page if you know one or two of those languages and need to do something in another one.

A suggestion: For people doing some work in Perl, a review of the OO syntax might be critical. Both Moose and the old way.

A note, re the repl part: I don't use a repl for Perl, I just write one liners in shell. Afaik, Perl is the best command line tool that exist, it is even a superset of awk.

Edit: For named parameters the page might want to reference one of the CPAN modules doing that. Same goes for exceptions. The use of do to create blocks most everywhere might also be noted in e.g. the ternary operator. Unicode support should probably also be discussed. And so on.

jablan 2 days ago 4 replies      
"Passing by reference" section is wrong about Ruby (not sure about Python). Ruby passes everything by reference, it's only that integers are immutable so that the function can't alter them. Strings, though, are mutable:

  def foo s
s.concat 'foo'
a = 'bar'
foo a
# => "barfoo"

smsm42 3 days ago 0 replies      
Unfortunately tests page for PHP does not mention PHPUnit: http://www.phpunit.de/manual/3.6/en/index.html
which is the best solution for testing in PHP. Neither it mentions xdebug for debugging and xhprof for profiling.
laichzeit0 2 days ago 1 reply      
Perl's treatment of regex still trumps all. It's so pleasant to use in so many ways. It's for this reason alone I will probably never bother "switching" to Python or Ruby.
kirinan 2 days ago 1 reply      
Very good comparison between all the languages, and like other people said: a nice Rosetta stone. With that said, it would be very useful to add a comparison of the database layer syntax as that it is, at least for a me, a common task in all of the scripting languages. I also agree with the comments about adding the features that are unique to the languages, as that would be extremely helpful.
alberth 3 days ago 0 replies      
Wish Lua was added to the list.

Edit: Found Lua compared on the same site here: http://hyperpolyglot.org/embeddable

methoddk 3 days ago 0 replies      
Bookmarked and forever using this to explain the differences between these. Thanks for the awesome resource!
devy 3 days ago 1 reply      
Even though there is no native "switch" statement in Python, the same control flow structure can be done with a dict construct:


powersurge360 3 days ago 1 reply      
PHP repl is actually php -a
alexm920 3 days ago 2 replies      
Wonderful reference for comparison! I admittedly haven't had time to pursue the whole table, but wanted to point out that there is indeed an increment and decrement in python:

x += 1

x -= 1

joewadcan 3 days ago 0 replies      
Very helpful!! Like a quick & easy Rosetta stone
snampall 3 days ago 0 replies      
Nice. Useful and handy.
youlost_thegame 3 days ago 2 replies      
Very, very thorough. A great resource, thanks!
Arabian 3 days ago 1 reply      
The Perl described in this article is COMPLETE SHIT. He calls deprecated and improper libs for some functions, unnecessary libs in others, assumes improper or unoptimal syntax in other examples. The list goes on. Learn languages before releasing articles on them.

He never even uses Perl's foreach in equivalency examples!! WTF.

rwmj 3 days ago 2 replies      
[I wonder if this is a personal watershed for Hacker News?]

These languages are essentially the same thing. I often write code in at least 3 of these languages most days, and I simply translate the minor differences between them in my head.

"Hyperpolyglot" -- excess in many tongues -- I don't think so.

Learn at least some static languages, assembler and some functional languages, and then post something interesting on HN.

Well, I have plenty of karma to waste on noobs.

Open Web Device openwebdevice.com
320 points by bergie  4 days ago   94 comments top 23
daeken 4 days ago 5 replies      
Wow, what a thing to wake up to! At the heart of the Open Web Device is Mozilla's Boot2Gecko project. I just joined up with Mozilla on B2G a couple weeks ago and it's been an honor to work alongside so many amazing people, with a great goal: building a truly open mobile ecosystem. If you guys have any questions about B2G itself, feel free to ask and I'll do my best to answer.
benihana 4 days ago 2 replies      
Until I use this, I'm going to hold off on the excitement everyone seems to have for it.

The tagline is "The Device the developer community is waiting for." That's great for the developer community. Unfortunately, the developer community is a small minority of people and honestly, people don't really care if their device is easy to develop for. People care how good their device is. If a device is easy to develop for, but it's slow, or clunky or crashes all the time or doesn't have features that people expect out of a mobile device, what's the point?

bergie 4 days ago 0 replies      
I'm amazed how quickly they seem to be moving this. It wasn't that long ago that I first heard about Boot2Gecko (the wiki page is from last July), and now they already have some hardware partners and operators lined up. Quite a difference to the momentum behind MeeGo and Tizen...

I guess a big difference is that the driver here is Mozilla, a foundation that most players in the field don't see as a direct competitor, and which already has a very good name in the web space.

mikehuffman 4 days ago 2 replies      
This is actually a big deal. It is a step in the right direction to take care of the missing pieces of mobile app development. I really believe that in 5 years time, "application development" will be just assumed to be web app development and not desktop application development.
drivebyacct2 4 days ago 0 replies      
Wow. Judging by the number of nay-say commenters, it's obvious they should have included a hands on video. Sadly each one I've found seems to be a fairly different build. The one The Verge has is decent.


josegonzalez 4 days ago 2 replies      
Doesn't support + signs in email addresses. Awesome. Does not inspire confidence in a platform that is based on internet standards, where email is an important part of communication.
eaurouge 4 days ago 0 replies      
"Qualcomm currently delivers the chipset for a large volume of Android based smartphones, which is the DNA of the device. By tightly integrating the Open Web Device with the chipset we will guarantee that any OEM will be able to manufacture a device with very little effort: it will be almost a plug & play procedure."

I think this is a bad idea. Why would you want to lock down the hardware at such an early stage?

goatslacker 4 days ago 0 replies      
I for one am very excited to see B2G finally ship. I'm anxious to see how well this OS performs and how well thought out is user experience is. I trust Mozilla, they build quality products. The competition is fierce though and the carriers ultimately have too much power here in the US. I really hope B2G is committed to competing in the mobile arena.
icebraining 4 days ago 2 replies      
Maybe it's prejudice, but I feel uneasy with their connection with Telefonica, after seeing so many Spanish users (including some family members) complain about them
malandrew 4 days ago 1 reply      
I hope that some sort of support for inter-app linking is supported.

One of the biggest problems with native apps on iOS and Android is support for moving from one app to another, but still allowing the user to easily return to the originating app.

At the moment, the only native support for this kind of feature that I can think of is maps support. For example, if you click on a Google Maps directions link on OS X, the Google Maps application is opened automatically instead of maps.google.com in the web browser.

Dunno if this would require a dedicated link button that remembers the app you came from to take you back there or not. Perhaps there is a more elegant solution. It's possible that Hypermedia JSON APIs could play a role in helping people move between apps.

Whatever solution is adopted, making it easy for the user to return to the originating app with ease is of utmost important, because this will create an environment where app developers will fill comfortable partnering with other app developers by including inter-app links.

AndrewDucker 4 days ago 5 replies      
It looks like all "apps" are web pages. I'm looking forward to seeing how well they can make it run things like Angry Birds.

And how well they deal with background tasks. On Android I can upload my photos in the background, or play music through Spotify (or my MP3 app) while I'm doing other things. Will I be able to do similar things here?

Corrado 3 days ago 0 replies      
Isn't this exactly the same as Google Chromium[1]? Boot a minimal OS and load a web browser to do all the heavy lifting. Don't get me wrong, I think doing it in the open is much better than behind closed doors, I just want to make sure that I'm not missing something.

1: http://www.chromium.org/chromium-os

notatoad 4 days ago 3 replies      
How is this going to handle updates? Obviously the UI/html5 portion will be trivial to update, but Firefox gets updated every six weeks. Is the system core going to lag behind the rest of the Firefox ecosystem, or ami I going to have to rely on my carrier or manufacturer to push out system updates every six weeks?
tucson 4 days ago 1 reply      
Can someone explain what this is all about and why this is interesting, for non-savvy?
samarudge 4 days ago 0 replies      
Not sure why, but it amuses me that the "For more info, read our FAQ." link points to an element with the ID myModal
Thomaschaaf 4 days ago 0 replies      
This seems a lot like a webOS with Gecko instead of webkit. This seems interessting as I hope the projects open webOS are building are going to be on which both plattforms can build on.
xlevus 4 days ago 3 replies      
How does this differ to WebOS? Isn't it pretty much the same concept?
dannyr 4 days ago 2 replies      
Now that Chrome has made its way to Android, my guess is that Chrome Apps on Android are not far behind.

I hope an app built for Chrome will work for OpenWebDevice & vice-versa.

bradt 4 days ago 0 replies      
I've always seen mobile web apps winning over native mobile apps in the long term. Jacob Nielsen described as much last week as well but was careful not to put a timeline on it.[1]
Hopefully this project helps make it happen sooner than later.

[1] http://www.useit.com/alertbox/mobile-sites-apps.html

akoumjian 4 days ago 1 reply      
Last time I checked, Gecko and all the other browsers still had a long way to go before being fully HTML5 compliant. Chunks of the File API, postMessage, and a variety of other specs are incomplete and underdocumented.

Sites like caniuse.com vastly overestimate what has been sufficiently implemented.

mrsebastian 4 days ago 1 reply      
Me gusta!
jasonabelli 4 days ago 0 replies      
Facebook aims to whip the mobile Web into shape

Read more: http://reviews.cnet.com/8301-13970_7-57385707-78/facebook-ai...

rb2k_ 4 days ago 3 replies      
While I think the idea is interesting, I will say what I always say in these situations:

Talk is cheap.

I wish people would announce projects when there is actually something to look at rather than just having a vague list of goals. It's like the "I have a great idea for an app and just need somebody to do the software development". I always like to think of products consisting of 15% Idea and 85% implementation.

I Was a Warehouse Wage Slave: Inside the online-shopping shipping machine motherjones.com
303 points by brownie  4 days ago   197 comments top 24
nostromo 4 days ago  replies      
It strikes me that these sort of manual warehouse picking jobs will be completely gone in a few years as robots automate the picking process (as seen here with Diapers.com: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6zXOW6v0c8s
lukifer 4 days ago  replies      
These conditions aren't unique to warehouse jobs; the customer call-center industry is similar in many ways. Time is tracked down to the second, you are being recorded and/or monitored at all times, tardiness and absenteeism are ruthlessly enforced with no excuses, and there is relentless pressure to "hit your numbers", which are often nearly impossible. And of course, you're still expected to "always put the customer first" under these insane conditions.

If you don't live up in any respect, they're happy to let the next batch of trainees have your job. In fact, they prefer it; those with 5+ years of experience have the most to fear, as they acquire raises and cushier benefits over time, and so are often fired for the same infraction that gets a newbie a write-up.

I suppose that call centers are preferable to warehouses, in that there is little risk of injury, and there are more opportunities to move up or transfer careers. Still, this is one of the human costs of corporate capitalism in general: if you don't have rare or specialized skills, you have no negotiating power, and have to take whatever you can get. And don't even think about uttering the word "union".

noonespecial 4 days ago 2 replies      
If you ever find yourself in a situation where static electricity is a problem as in this article, find a regular wooden pencil, break it in half, sharpen both ends and then blunt them a bit so they don't poke you. As you approach the metal object, touch the end of the pencil to it first. Make sure you are in good contact with the other end. The graphite "lead" is a conductor. You won't feel the shock.
ck2 4 days ago  replies      
It's interesting how we put down companies for their abusive labor conditions in China but at least 50% of the population will rally behind forces that prevent any sort of government regulation or unions that help prevent this kind of abuse "in the homeland".

Oh and I don't just mean the right wing, fun fact, Hillary Clinton was a bigtime lawyer for walmart to help them prevent unions. Walmart even has a swat-like team to respond to possible union formations.

fleitz 3 days ago 0 replies      
Honestly, the article sounds pretty good for warehouse work.

About 12 years ago I was working in a warehouse at -25 C slogging sides of beef at 25 to 50 Kg for at least 10 hours, my record shift was 26 hours. The pay was even less, $10/hr. It had to be -25 in the freezer because there was ice cream in there too and if it didn't leave at -25 it would melt by the time it got to the destination.

The only odd thing about the job was the look I got like I was crazy when I left to work tech support in the city for a dollar an hour less.

JohnnyBrown 4 days ago 0 replies      
>Temporary staffers aren't legally entitled to decent health care because they are just short-term "contractors" no matter how long they keep the same job.

This to me actually sounds illegal. I've worked in other industries where significant hoops were jumped through to make it possible to call workers contractors. If I recall one test often used is whether the worker is on a set schedule, which the situation described would utterly fail.


winestock 4 days ago 0 replies      
Mike Daisey's book, 21 Dog Years, briefly discussed conditions at Amazon's warehouses even though cube farm hell was the focus of the book. I don't have the book, anymore, but, going from memory, Daisey's account matches those of the author of the Mother Jones article.


That's right; it's an Amazon link. Ironic, I know.

paulhauggis 4 days ago 0 replies      
Amazon is the worst e-commerce company I've ever dealt with. They treat their marketplace sellers like garbage.

I have been selling for the past 5+ years. They put a review on my account and when I called them to find out some more information about it, I was met with a call center rep in India who gave me absolutely no help.

They don't actually have call support for marketplace sellers. You have to email them. When you do, you get mostly automated responses.

After this ordeal, I finally left them for good. I still can't believe people are giving Amazon this much money (most categories are between 8-16% commission) to sell their goods (plus $40/month if you have a pro-account).

It's a slap in the face when you can't even talk to someone when you have any sort of account issue. On top of this, Amazon doesn't even abide by the same harsh rules they expect all of their 3rd-party sellers to follow.

skurry 4 days ago 0 replies      
I spent the first five years of my professional life developing software for these places. I've seen lots of warehouses and even worked in them briefly to test our software. Not the most glamorous work, but I could do fun stuff like use genetic algorithms for optimization problems or create a dynamic 3D visualization of the warehouse space.

It took me a while to realize that my work is making other people obsolete and replaceable, but I guess so does a big portion of software and technology in general. But it was surprisingly refreshing to switch off your brain for a few hours and do whatever the scanner tells you to do. Though of course I didn't have any pressure to do more than 1,000 picks a day, that is insane!

This was in Germany though, so the unions and worker's council made sure that the working conditions were more humane than described in the article.

rw 4 days ago 1 reply      
This reminds me of the novella "Manna":

> He looked at me for a long time, "A computer is telling you what to do on the job? What does the manager do?"

> "The computer is the manager. Manna, manager, get it?"

> "You mean that a computer is telling you what to do all day?", he asked.

> "Yeah."


jrockway 3 days ago 0 replies      
Sounds about right. Amazon is great for their investors and customers. Employees? Not so much, it seems.

In this case, it doesn't seem unreasonable. The pay rate and overtime they get means they make around $40,000 a year. In rural America with no skills other than the ability to walk and use a barcode scanner, that's not bad money. I'm all in favor of educating people so they can work 8 hour days behind a desk, but the reality is that that won't work for everyone. So having jobs available that let people good at manual labor have a decent life doesn't seem that horrible to me. I may be wrong, though.

tsotha 4 days ago 2 replies      
I worked at a company developing the warehouse management software. This was back in the mid '90s, but we didn't have a single customer that ran his warehouse like the one in the article. Picking is a crappy job, and everyone knows it, so pickers weren't expected to move too fast. If you showed up to work for a few weeks as a picker you'd get promoted to another position. Most of the people who got hired were ex-cons and drug addicts, so only about one in three lasted more than a day or two.

I don't know if the industry as a whole has changed, or if the place the author worked is far on the bad end of the spectrum.

to_jon 3 days ago 0 replies      
More than call centers, this industry reminds me of the meatpacking industry. Warehouse workers fill a crucial step in a larger fulfillment model that unnecessarily imposes harsh conditions on its workforce. The writer mentions picking 500 items during her last morning on the job, which probably represents anywhere from 200 to 300 orders (assuming the average book or dildo order is small). Over a 5 hour period, that represents 40 to 60 orders per hour, picked at real hourly cost of perhaps $14. In other words, a slower picking rate and higher wages might cost consumers several extra dimes per order. It's reasonable to say that passing this additional cost to consumers would have a trivial impact on shopper's wallets, while fueling a strong wealth creation effect in the community where the warehouse is located as its workers can actually afford to spend their way into a middle class lifestyle.

Likewise, the meatpacking industry is infamous for its brutal working conditions and low wages. It has bred many low income, working poor communities plighted by gangs, crime, and despair. The solution to righting the industry and its communities is obvious- pay employees real, middle class wages. But the industry has been fighting a race to the bottom, as the wholesalers of meat products will obviously pick the meatpacking company that can sell at the lowest cost. Because better wages would only increase the price supermarkets pay for meat by several cents per pound, one meatpacking company CEO has openly called for imposing higher wage levels across the entire industry (easier than done). The introduction of higher wages would boost local economies and in aggregate that contributes to the nation's prosperity.

The industries are examples of capitalism at its most efficient and of capitalism utterly failing society as well.

SurfScore 4 days ago 3 replies      
It always comes down to price. The vast majority of people in the world aren't so self-righteous that they'll pay $10 more for something that was produced "the right way."

This has always been the nature of these kinds of businesses, and until robots and technology take those jobs away completely (which opens up a whole other can of worms), it will just keep happening

pmorici 4 days ago 1 reply      
"I probably look happier than I should because I have the extreme luxury of not giving a shit about keeping this job."

Great quote there. That's really a key to being happy in any job. Her description of this job doesn't sound all that bad you get exercise and paid above minimum wage plus overtime.

click170 4 days ago 0 replies      
I've worked at one of the warehouses for an electronics retailer, and I rather enjoyed it.

They didn't outsource to a temp agency, instead they had their own HR department. The starting pay was far above average for similar jobs with other companies and they readjusted for cost of living increases every few years, and the employee discount was wicked.

It's interesting to read about perspectives from employees of other warehouses, it sounds like I had it good.

bostonvaulter2 3 days ago 0 replies      
I'm actually surprised that the workers are getting so much over minimum wage yet are being so poorly treated. Why not just pay them closer to minimum wage since there are so many willing workers?
b1daly 4 days ago 1 reply      
People are making comments here about how unions diminish competiveness. What about incompetent CEOs who make big decisions that wreck a company and still get paid millions. Why is it always the lowest paid workers who are expected to take a pay cut to make the company viable? I'm thinking of high profile CEOs who brought havoc and failure to theieto company: Stephen Elop, Leo Apotheker, Carol Bartz,Carly Fiorina...
But really, the insistence that the peons take the hits, I don't get it.
jennya 4 days ago 0 replies      
Contrast this with the comments for the Amazon Prime article a few stories down :(
VMG 3 days ago 0 replies      
Were you able to leave?


Then you weren't a slave.

Jinzang 3 days ago 0 replies      
I've got a modest proposal. Let's bring back slavery. Then employers would worry about employee injuries, have work for them year round instead of only hiring during peak season, and in general treat their slaves with the concern that posters here seem to reserve for robots.
namidark 4 days ago 0 replies      
More ads and I wouldn't even have to read the article! Popup's and unders included!
ontIgnoreRealit 4 days ago 0 replies      
It's a shame that there aren't unions in China and the United States.
cynwoody 3 days ago 0 replies      
Would you rather be idling excess machines or firing workers?
Submarine Cable Map submarinecablemap.com
305 points by T-zex  3 days ago   109 comments top 32
Stratoscope 3 days ago 2 replies      
Here's a 1901 version of the map:


And somewhat related, a wonderful book called The Victorian Internet:


If you ever wondered whether the Internet really is a "series of tubes", here are the tubes:


That photo is from an interesting article (by my namesake James Geary) about undersea cables:


Enjoy! :-)

adriand 3 days ago 1 reply      
While reading a bit about these cables I found this unusual fact on Wikipedia:

> Because the [TAT-8] cable was the first fiber optic cable and not coaxial cable, the electrical interference shielding for the high voltage supply lines was removed. This removal did not affect the fiber, but it did cause feeding frenzies in sharks that swam nearby. The sharks would then attack the cable until the voltage lines killed them. This caused numerous, prolonged outages. Eventually, a shark shielding was developed for the cable.


troymc 3 days ago 1 reply      
Wow, there are two cables running from northern Norway to Longyearbyen, on the island of Svalbard! According to Wikipedia, "Longyearbyen has approximately 2,060 inhabitants (at the end of 2007..." The total population of Svalbard is not much more.

Edit/Add: The cable length is 2,714 km.

gk1 3 days ago 2 replies      
For anyone curious as to how they're actually laid, here's a simple diagram of a typical cable layer ship (CS):


And a simplified diagram of how it operates:


kbrowne 3 days ago 1 reply      
It's getting kind of dated now, but Neal Stephenson's "Mother Earth Mother Board" is great reading if you're interested in both the history and the process of laying submarine cable: http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/4.12/ffglass.html
muriithi 3 days ago 1 reply      
I cannot help but salivate at the dense links connecting US/Europe and US/Asia.

Here in Kenya we only have 3 cables. Since last week the internet has been very slow after the main cable was severed by a ship anchor. The second cable seemed to have problems upstream so all the traffic has been routed to the third cable.


falcolas 3 days ago 5 replies      
I found it absolutely fascinating how some continents use underwater cables to connect different locations within a continent (Africa, notably, seems virtually surrounded), while others seem to only have significant outbound connections (North America, Australia).

I can only guess it has more to do with whether you cross national boundaries (since even the US has underwater cables bridging the mainland to Alaska) than land features.

shimonamit 3 days ago 2 replies      
I see no cables actually get routed through the Suez canal, even though many cables come up the Red Sea. The same is true for the Panama canal. Is it because they are too shallow? Maybe too concentrated?
adulau 3 days ago 1 reply      
Another map that is quite complete (more older cables) too: http://www.cablemap.info/
tomgallard 3 days ago 0 replies      
If you find this interesting, I can highly recommend Porthcurno Telegraph museum in Cornwall (UK). http://www.porthcurno.org.uk/

Its where many of the first underseas telegraph cables came ashore, and was a hub for the British Empire's telegraph network.

It was later dug deep into the rock to protect it during WW2.

A great day out- highly recommended.

leeoniya 3 days ago 1 reply      
this network is probably the 8th man-made wonder of the world. it makes the Great Wall of China seem benign by comparison.
mgkimsal 2 days ago 1 reply      
Two random thoughts:

1. I'm always amazed that anchors can seemingly hit a cable at the bottom of the ocean floor. Given how hard it usually is for us to find anything on the ocean floor with any precision, we seem to be able to drop anchors and cut cables with surprising accuracy.

2. Do the cables have slack in them to account for continental drift? I don't know how much we drift, but I'd imagine over time the cables would need some slack in them to make up for it.

trimbo 3 days ago 0 replies      
Here's what an endpoint looks like.. one of "America's Best Kept Secrets" in this Wired Photo gallery:


samstave 3 days ago 2 replies      
I want to know what optics they are using. On segments that are 7,000 miles long - are there active optic splice boxes along the length of the cable? Or are they using lasers that actually push 7K miles?
kahawe 3 days ago 1 reply      
I know this is incredibly childish and probably impossible given the elasticity of the cables laid out BUT I would really like to tug on a submarine cable or even just a thread that goes from Euroland over to the USA and have it move and wiggle over there. And then next up: a submarine miniature tunnel/hose/pipe to send a small little vehicle across. I can't help it.
verelo 3 days ago 1 reply      
I've always wondered where they are. Can you imagine just how long it took to wrap a wire around the whole world a few times over?

The thing that shocks me is how recently these were added. I was checking out the cables in Australia, expecting them to have been added in the 60's or something....however most are around the year 2000-2010.

ilitirit 2 days ago 0 replies      
I remember working on the application that was used for administering the SAT-3/WASC cable. At the time I was excited because I knew it meant South Africa would be getting faster internet pretty soon after that. 5 years later I was still stuck on a 56k modem. ADSL launched about two years before that, but it was just way too expensive. At the moment I'm paying about $185p/m for a shaped (20kbps between 7am and 7pm during the week) uncapped 8mbps ADSL line.
RobertKohr 3 days ago 1 reply      
Anyone know how to get the gray/white land/ocean view in google maps. I want to use it for another project.
bdunbar 3 days ago 0 replies      
Am I the only reader who was disappointed that there is no thick line of undersea fiber leading to the island of Kinakuta in the Sulu Sea?
maxhaot 3 days ago 0 replies      
jyturley 3 days ago 0 replies      
For anyone interested, here is an excellent quora post on how undersea cables are laid out on the ocean:


kenrikm 3 days ago 0 replies      
That's so awesome, I remember seeing a special on the Discovery Channel years ago (10+) on how they laid cable for the phone lines I would love to see how it's done now and how it's connected to backbones etc..
wtvanhest 3 days ago 0 replies      
Mombasa Submarine Cable disrupted by anchor. (sort of unrelated but related).


jarek 3 days ago 1 reply      
As a Canadian, this map worries me from a sovereignty perspective.
bnewbold 3 days ago 0 replies      
It's unfortunate that TeleGeography, while on the one hand demonstrating beautifully how closely connected many of us have become, seems at the same time to collaborate with BlueCoat, a company that helps censor the content coming down these tubes on a national scale.

This mash-up paid for by... ?


dotBen 3 days ago 0 replies      
Think about how many of these cables are tapped by governments, and the technology + skill needed to implement that tapping.
grahammather 3 days ago 3 replies      
Why are there so many cables to Alaska?
abruzzi 3 days ago 1 reply      
wow...Mercator Projection!
takameyer 3 days ago 0 replies      
Last night I was curious about physical wire connections across oceans for communications. So I started researching and learned about the first ocean line implemented in 1858 for telegraph communication. Seeing this link on the top of HN today was pretty much exactly what I was trying to conclude my research with last night. What a strange coincidence.
giardini 3 days ago 1 reply      
Would not many of these be military targets in case of a war?

What failover capability does the USA have?

squeed 3 days ago 3 replies      
I'm surprised at how well connected Australia is. Why is their internet still so expensive?
spoiledtechie 3 days ago 2 replies      
Interesting how you don't see cables going through Cuba or North Korea...
Why Anti-Authoritarians are Diagnosed as Mentally Ill madinamerica.com
298 points by cycojesus  3 days ago   134 comments top 23
DanielBMarkham 3 days ago 4 replies      
I like where this article is going a lot, but let's be clear on terms.

"Anti-authoritarians" are people who question and/or reject authority aggressively.

"Assholes" are people who have emotional and/or maturity issues that cause them to irritate others.

Neither of these are diseases, and you can be both, but don't confuse one with the other. I'm a fairly asocial person, but I've learned to be more diplomatic at times. On the other hand, the world is full of angry immature people who just want to "tear it all down!" without actually at heart being for or against anything. They're just a bundle of emotions looking for a place to vent.

But the underlying thesis here, that the professionals diagnosing people as mentally ill carry lot of bias with them that even themselves are unaware of? Spot on. Psychiatry has always been about introducing conformity (both in a good way and in a bad way) to society. Of course, that doesn't mean that there aren't a lot of really mentally ill people who need help, just that when you have a hammer, the world is your nail. :)

ADD: I would just be very careful about working this problem backwards, from effect to cause. That is, simply because somebody or another supports a cause you believe in doesn't necessarily mean that they aren't emotionally ill. My personal opinion is that there are a lot of emotionally-struggling people who choose politics as a socially acceptable way to vent on the world.

JonnieCache 3 days ago 4 replies      
Please try and remember that while there may be many problematic practices and practitioners in the world of psychiatry, the majority are just trying to heal the sick like all other doctors. There is a big difference between putting someone on pills to stop them from presenting a problem in school or at work, and putting someone on pills to stop them cutting out their own eyes, or to help them regain their desire to breathe in and out.

A large number of mental disorders are extremely debilitating and often fatal to the patient. When successfully healed, sufferers are usually extremely grateful to their psychiatrist, feeling that they owe them their life.

You only hear in the media and online about the times when it all goes wrong, because it makes a good story. Who wants to hear blog posts about how someone was sick, and then they got well? Especially when talking about your experience with mental illness is seen as an admission of weakness or personal failure by society, which it is.

This is not to discount the fact that there is a huge amount of malpractice, abuse, and just plain poor quality thinking out there in the world of psychiatry. Most of it is connected to big pharma and their big dollars, as you might expect.

You also can't absolve the patient of all responsibility. Go to any psychiatrist, particularly here in the UK with our NHS where doctors don't sit around hoping for more ill people, and they will tell you that they are sick and tired of the parade of perfectly healthy middle class idiots shuffling before them with non-problems, or worse, dragging children with non-problems.

You can't really just turn these people away, it's unethical (illegal?) to just deny someone treatment. Unless you can invoke something like Münchausen syndrome, you have to treat these people or their charges in some way if they are in distress. Doctors are reduced to giving them some pills and complaining to each other behind closed doors about the endless stream of "worried well" affecting their ability to help those with the actual problems discussed at the start of this now overly-long comment. Actually, increasingly they send them off to a homeopathy clinic or something like that. That in my eyes is the one good use for alternative medicine, it keeps little jemima off the hard stuff when her dangerously irrational mother decides she needs to be fixed.

The DSM and it's ilk make this worse by giving the public cosmo-style checklists they can run against themselves, without all the other contextual understanding that a diagnostician has. It is then made worse again with the DSM published on the internet.

neilk 3 days ago 3 replies      
The whole concept of authority fascinates me. I've had a lot of troubles with this, although I'm not disobedient at all. In fact I'm kind of a goody-two-shoes, am eager to please, and often wish I were bolder and more concerned with my own agenda.

Yet I've been told multiple times in the past five years that I'm undermining authority. By both management and peers. (Sometimes admiringly, by colleagues who think I'm the only person who isn't subject to the leader's reality distortion field.) I've asked what I can do to not be as "disruptive" and nobody can quite produce anything concrete.

I think there's something about my attitude that people can detect -- I do believe that authority needs to be earned with results. And even though when I have defended the current authority, again this is not good enough, because I'll do it in terms of "we need to be unified", "we don't know everything X knows", "X has taken on this leadership role and it costs him a lot, no one should question X's dedication", etc.

The one thing I'm not saying is that we should all bow down to X just because "he's the man". There is something about this atavistic concept of authority which demands a posture of submission, often literally. You don't look the other person in the eye any more, you allow yourself to be swept up in his obsessions, his sense of humor leaks into yours, and you treat his ideas as automatically superior. You're supposed to be happy even if he snatches a slice of cake right off your plate. I just don't have it in me.

steve8918 3 days ago  replies      
This is basically the premise of the book "One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest". The major question of the book was: "Who was really crazy, the inmates or the System?"

It's kind of frightening that views haven't changed in the 40+ years since the book was written. I guess the difference is that they will simply overmedicate rather than lobotomize.

itmag 3 days ago 3 replies      
Good reading to become a mature (ie not just childish) anti-authoritarian: "Prometheus Rising" by Robert Anton Wilson and "No more Mr Nice Guy" by Robert Glover. I would also throw in "King, Warrior, Magician, Lover" by Robert Moore, and maybe an occasional dose of LessWrong.com (helps to know of cognitive bias pitfalls if one wants to dance to one's own tune). Rand, Aurelius, Thoreau, Emerson and Nietzsche might be cool too, for the philosophically inclined (what they all have in common is the belief in defining your own values, not just following others blindly).

Of course, the way I see it, being anti-authoritarian is just a corollary effect of being a mature, competent, self-validated man who is following his own purpose in life. Of course such a man is going to have trouble with those who want to foist their value-systems on him through threats, psychological manipulation, or subterfuge.

scrrr 3 days ago 5 replies      
"The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man."
firefoxman1 3 days ago 2 replies      
That was a really good analysis on why people are diagnosed, but I would like to take a guess at why people want to diagnose their fellow man as such.

First, I'm no psychologist or historian, so feel free to disregard everything that follows...this is just a hypothesis.

I've noticed (but I'm probably far from the first) that every seemingly "modern" human behavior can be traced back to a handful of primitive instincts or tribal behaviors (fear, greed, prejudice, etc.). So my guess would be that diagnosing someone as mentally ill because they act anti-authoritarian comes from the tribal instinct that allowed, or even required, all humans to work together without questioning their orders. It was necessary to hunting, protecting the tribe, etc. that everyone act as one. Not acting as one would cause the hunt to fail or the tribe to lose a battle, either way they would die. It's the same way that packs of animals like wolves behave. Shun the outlier because he could put all our lives at stake.

So expanding on this theory, maybe the reason we as humans act this way is because our cousin species died out because they didn't act as one. Perhaps those other semi-human species that died out were more independently-minded, but for the first few hundred thousand years that was a negative thing that led to natural selection filtering them out?

I guess I get this idea from Seth Godin's talk about "Quieting the lizard brain." Pretty interesting, if anyone is interested: http://vimeo.com/5895898

ctdonath 3 days ago 0 replies      
Hence the propensity of authoritarian governments to declare opponents mentally ill.

Beware political positions quick to write off differing views as clinical insanity. When they start committing people, that's a sign the line has been crossed.

choros12 3 days ago 6 replies      
I'm not sure if too many people nowadays take Psychiatry and Psychology seriously. Most problems they label as illnesses are legitimate issues people have that need resolution not pills.

I had severe allergic reaction to shrimp. Ended up at the ER where I was treated with Epinephrine, Prednisone and Diphenhydramine (Benadryl administered directly to bloodstream though).

Guess what, I had serious panick attacks for another2 days. When the following day I showed up at the ER, I was told by a Doctor who originally treated me day before that I clearly have mental issues because this reaction shouldn't last so long. Psychiatrist didn't even ask questions and prescribed me anti-depressants. Obciously, anxiety diminished on its own next day. FDA.GOV confirms that all 3 medications I was given may cause anxiety (severe) and panick attacks. Including benadryl that does cause anxiety in me. This was widely studied and is believed to be caused by liver enzymes. So, all in all I had never had mentall issues before, never had issues after. But had 3 days of panick attacks and severe anxeity causeb clearly by medication. Hey, but I'm considered depressive, anxious now. It is in my medical records. Just amazing how fast they are to label you and how difficult it is to clear the record. All result of ignorance, but what can I do? Recently I went through cholestycomy procedure outside my insurance, just because I didn't want to be treated by medical stuff with suspicion.

I don't believe psychiatrists now at all. I mean this is some type of witchcraft, not science for sure.

derefr 3 days ago 2 replies      
> After he did enter college, one professor told Einstein, “You have one fault; one can't tell you anything.” The very characteristics of Einstein that upset authorities so much were exactly the ones that allowed him to excel.

I find it an amusing corollary that later in life, no one was able to convince Einstein of the truth--or at least the usefulness--of quantum mechanics. A failing of the anti-authoritarian mindset is that if you have an opposed opinion to an authority on an issue--and that authority happens to be right--you'll never figure this out until you work it out for yourself.

bbeaudoin 3 days ago 2 replies      
I believe "Anti-Authoritarian" is a misnomer. People labeled as "Anti-Authoritarian", myself included, are more likely "Auto-Authoritarian"; they trust their own authority first, rather than blindly believe the asserted authority of others.
CPlatypus 3 days ago 2 replies      
The true test of whether someone's really anti-authoritarian is how they behave when they're in authority. 99% of people who use "question authority" as an excuse for what is really anti-social behavior fail this test.
jcarden 3 days ago 0 replies      
Any 'anti-authoritarian' diagnosis is bunk. This is one aspect of the DSM (of many actually) that seriously bothers me. Since there is no objective scale for delineating behaviors that are acceptable to "authorities", how can one claim this is a valid diagnosis ? THIS is why we can't have nice things.
seles 3 days ago 1 reply      
There was a seemingly related hacker news page on the top page along side with this one http://qaa.ath.cx/LoseThos.html , about the 64 bit OS LoseThos and the mental insanity of its author. It was a very interesting read and I wanted to see the comments, but now it appears gone. Was this flagged and if so why?
Tooluka 3 days ago 1 reply      
During reading I always thought about Sheldon, from The Big Bang Theory, in one of the first series when he was sacked from his job. And when he comes to apologize with his mother, he says "I've called you an idiot during our first meeting. I'm sorry... for pointing that out.".

I suppose it's the same with many doctors who stamp "mentally ill" diagnoses on people. "If you disagree with me, then you should be treated."

cdcox 3 days ago 0 replies      
This is mostly inaccurate. He starts by cherry picking his definition of ODD describing it as “a pattern of negativistic, hostile, and defiant behavior without the more serious violations of the basic rights of others that are seen in conduct disorder" and "often actively defies or refuses to comply with adult requests or rule". This is ridiculous, and leaves out a half a dozen or so other symptoms including

"Have temper tantrums
Be argumentative with adults
Refuse to comply with adult requests or rules
Annoy other people deliberately
Blames others for mistakes or misbehavior
Acts touchy and is easily annoyed
Feel anger and resentment
Be spiteful or vindictive
Act aggressively toward peers
Have difficulty maintaining friendships
Have academic problems
Feel a lack of self-esteem"

Those aren't authority problems, those are major social issues that must persist for greater than 6 months and make the home or school environment hostile. Also, he acts like all psychologists and psychiatrists do is prescribe medicine. This is silly, most psychiatrists and all psychologists would advocate combined therapy or behavioral therapy to help them with parent child interaction and problem solving skills. These authoritarian behavioral treatments include things like "Recognize and praise your child's positive behaviors, offer acceptable choices to your child, giving him or her a certain amount of control." ODD should NEVER get a drug prescription except in the case of comorbitity. Read more here: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/oppositional-defiant-disord...

ADD and ADHD are over-diagnosed and ODD might also be, but there are people who legitimately suffer from major crushing behavioral deficits which can make properly learning difficult. Sloppy historical analogy with 'famous people would totally be ADD' is a terrible marginalization of this disorder and it's sufferers.

Also, lots of people are mentioning the Rosenhan experiment and claiming that psychology hasn't changed at all since then. This is largely inaccurate. I would direct them to this askscience thread http://www.reddit.com/r/askscience/comments/orf88/how_has_ps... about changes that have occurred including the rise of counseling and patient bill of rights.

jakeonthemove 3 days ago 0 replies      
Authority (and people in power) are currently seen as "once accepted, never question", and that has served humanity well for thousands (even millions) of years because it's effective - you have a leader, you acknowledged he's at least good enough and you start working on common goals under their supervision.

But that doesn't work as well anymore because there's so many of us, so much stuff to do and so much information. That's why we've been moving towards increasingly democratic societies and organizations for the past several hundred years, and the trend will only accelerate.

Questioning authority usually stopped the whole organization, and people couldn't move forward unless they found a consensus. Today it's easier to question/review/change authority without having to stop everything - it's like it's a separate module instead of a core piece, but obviously, that doesn't sit well for those whose authority is questioned, hence the struggle against anti-authoritarians...

cbodolus 3 days ago 1 reply      
I've grown up diagnosed as ADD (and ADHD), ODD, and Bipolar. The bipolar was because I was not mature yet, and had trouble communicating effectively. I get angered when I hear people talk as if these aren't real. My ADD makes it to where I have a tough time evaluating priorities to the point where my impulsiveness can cause me to 'not' do thing. I just can't. Like I recently tried doing a bit of homework on paper (first time to write on paper this semester) and my mind raced faster than I could write (I just saw the answer), but most importantly I had trouble just writing. I just couldn't force myself to do it. The hyperactive portion of ADHD is just because I'm either 150% going all out, or I'm asleep. (This makes 60 hour work weeks a breeze because I just keep going and going and going, as long as I have someone around that can help keep my focus, or if my attention isn't needed (like large compiles for programs, somehow I can focus better in the spurts between compiles). The ODD part comes in because I love to challenge people, especially authority, but only when I feel like they are incorrect or misguided. Interestingly though, I find that, for example, I can't bring myself to do the dishes when at my Parents house, but at anyone else's house I'm the first to clean the table up after dinner.
cjensen 3 days ago 2 replies      
I can't help but notice we are all discussing the opinions of one guy, who is not a psychiatrist, regarding what he has seen in his practice. And this one guy, if you look at his "about the author stuff" is basically an activist left wing hates-the-system damn-the-capitalists kind of guy.

This is not science, it's opinion untethered from the constraints of evidence. If we want to have a long conversation about this, it would behoove us to start from science so that actual facts might be involved.

jfoldi 3 days ago 0 replies      
I'm no psychologist but I hope to see those in that profession read this article. I've noticed that many are quick to label a patient mentally ill and prescribe medication. The brain is one of the most misunderstood organs in the human body. While the drugs help some, the profession is far from ready to alter brain chemistry.
blisper 3 days ago 0 replies      
Non-conformance, and non-compliance against authority runs the risk of being separated out from the pack, and being treated differently... Does this have any relevance to the debate over ADHD - i.e. there are some that believe a 'good old-fashioned spanking' would set things right.
guscost 3 days ago 0 replies      
Prussian schooling is the most counterproductive and expensive ritual ever foisted on innocent kids.
ilaksh 3 days ago 1 reply      
The reality is that political dissenters are often diagnosed with schizophrenia if they, for example, accuse their government of crimes. Of course governments do commit crimes, but one can only acknowledge the crimes of someone else's government, or crimes that occurred long ago.

Even in the United States, the automatic reply to any significant claim of criminal behavior against the US government is "bat-shit crazy conspiracy theorist".



http://thejcl.com/pdfs/munro.pdf The Ankang: China's Special Psychiatric Hospitals

Governments, including the United States, project through their propaganda and education, a false reality in which the most important state actions are always moral and justified.

There is a type of mass pathology going on in which almost everyone ignores facts that contradict the official reality presented by authority.

I think this is unfortunately a normal aspect of group behavior because I have observed it even in a small technical group where the manager decided that Windows Communication Foundation worked differently than it actually did and everyone went along with it even though the documentation clearly stated otherwise.

YouTube Identifies Birdsong As Copyrighted Music c4sif.org
283 points by frankydp  5 days ago   79 comments top 18
ryanjmo 5 days ago 1 reply      
This just happened to me with a parody video I created. I created all the music from scratch and obviously rewrote all the lyrics. And UMG review my video and said that it was indeed their property. So, I can not run ads against the video, which at this point has probably cost me $500-$1,000. There is nothing I can do right now but wait and hope YouTube changes its mind...

The video:


Here is what I see:

These content owners have reviewed your video and confirmed their claims to some or all of its content:
Entity: UMPG Publishing Content Type: Musical Composition

These content owners have reviewed your video and agreed with your dispute:
Entity: Music Publishing Rights Collecting Society Content Type: Musical Composition

Your dispute is still awaiting a response from these content owners:
Entity: Social Media Holdings Content Type: Musical Composition

What should I do?

No action is required on your part. Your video is still available worldwide. In some cases ads may appear next to your video.

What can I do about my video's status?
Please note that the video's status can change, if the policies chosen by the content owners change. You may want to check back periodically to see if you have new options available to you.

Please take a few minutes to visit our Help Center section on Policy and Copyright Guidelines, where you can learn more about copyright law and our Content Identification Service.

fragsworth 5 days ago 5 replies      
I am pretty sure this amounts to fraud on the part of Rumblefish.
Tyrannosaurs 4 days ago 0 replies      
So there are two things here.

The first is Google's algorithm incorrectly identified something as another work. This is bit is a bit "yeah, whatever". False positives will happen, what's important is the processes that are put in place around the algorithm to help resolve the errors.

And that's the second bit and the foobar bit, where a "human" check has confirmed it. Now, I may be skeptical but it feels very much like no-one ever looked at this, that Rumblefish basically automatically reply "yeah, that's ours" to any request or question and then leave it up to the poor video owner to show otherwise.

What I'd suggest needs to happen here is, at the very least, Google, Rumblefish or whoever need to state the piece of work that's being infringed. On Google's part this should be trivial - it's algorithm must have got a match against something specific which is cataloged.

The "copyright owner" at that point has a far more straight forward check (if they bother with it) and the video producer at least knows more about the claim rather than ending up in a slightly Kafka-esque position.

lukeschlather 5 days ago 2 replies      
During the SOPA mess, a lot of people on this site were saying that the DMCA is fine, we don't need a new law.

However, it seems pretty clear that the DMCA is not fine. There need to be better protections against this sort of thing - no hiding behind "it wasn't a DMCA takedown notice" when your automated takedown bot fraudulently implicates someone.

Also, and this almost goes without saying, we need to modify the anti-circumvention provisions of the DMCA to at least legalize jailbreaking, whether the device is an iPhone, a PS3, or whatever. Though ideally the anti-circumvention provisions should be repealed wholesale, since they're unreasonably broad and create huge damages for a wide class of perfectly valid uses.

KristianRoebuck 4 days ago 1 reply      
I was so furious after reading this article, I wrote to Rumblefish demanding an explanation.

Anyway, it's good news, I've just received this email.


Thank you for your note, just read your email and I share your concern.  The YouTube content ID system mis-ID'd birds singing as one of our artists songs.  We reviewed the video this evening and released the claim that YT assigned to us.  One of our content id representatives made a mistake in the identification process and we've worked diligently to correct the error once we were made aware of it earlier today.

Thank you for voicing your concern.  Very much appreciated.  We're doing our best to improve the process as it's very challenging for our team to keep up with the massive amount of claims coming through which grow every day.

All the best,

Paul Anthony | Founder and CEO | Rumblefish

dpearson 5 days ago 2 replies      
What is truly appalling here is the claim that the video had been reviewed by humans, who had determined that birdsong was copyrighted music (although the birds ought to be flattered by that), and, as such, Rumblefish is either lying (about having looked at all), hoping to make a quick buck, or criminally incompetent. I wouldn't be surprised if Rumblefish was trying to make a buck or two off of ads here, but I'm guessing that that's their standard response, and they hope whoever made the video will give up.
extension 4 days ago 0 replies      
This is a massive problem on YouTube right now. Essentially, there are a few large troll operations that abuse Google's "Content ID" system to steal ad revenues from random accounts, while Google shows no interest in fixing the system or shutting down the fraudulent accounts. The targetted videos often contain original music or no music at all. It's so common that it seems to be a fact of life for anyone as soon as they start monetizing their videos, and it's enough to remove any desire I have to do business with Google.
utunga 5 days ago 1 reply      
has google published anything about how their audio copyright detection algorithm works? i ask because i know some people faced with the (clearly related, it seems) problem of automatically recognizing birdsong (as in - identifying from background noise, and figuring out what species).
bnr 4 days ago 1 reply      
rorrr 5 days ago 1 reply      
Small claims court. Sue them for damages (and punitive, if small claim courts allow).

Also, report Rumblefish for sending fake DMCA requests, it's illegal.

nextparadigms 5 days ago 1 reply      
The question here is not about Youtube's algorithm being perfected or not, but about why they are having such an automatic censorship tool in the first place?

They aren't doing anything illegal by not having the tool, which means they are doing it voluntarily, and since the tool is not perfect, Youtube itself can be more abusive than the copyright owners asking for takedowns. Google needs to stop this practice.

tensafefrogs 5 days ago 2 replies      
Just more evidence that the DMCA is broken. This isn't YouTube's fault, it's a problem of Rumblefish harassing YouTube users.
frankydp 5 days ago 0 replies      
The interesting part is that Rumblefish is the largest sync/track provider and has a vested interest when it comes to increasing copyright ultra-protectionism. Which is sad because you would think that there "process" as they call it would be the non-legislative answer to audio copyright billing.

5,345,377 Social Soundtracks Licensed(and counting)

felixmar 5 days ago 1 reply      
The video in question: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nPBlfeuZuWg

Due to the low quality microphone the sound is a bit metallic. Perhaps that throws off YouTube's recognition software. But if there are a lot of false positives then Google should adjust its algorithm.

cgmorton 4 days ago 1 reply      
Geezus internet. How and why are so many people getting so damn angry about this?

Rumblefish presumably gets thousands upon thousands of copyright infringement claims every day. And so far, there has been one guy who had birdsong mistaken for music. Instead of just writing an email and getting it fixed, he decides to make a post about it to make people angry, and then once Rumblefish hears what happens it gets fixed.

Let's look at the key elements here.

1) It got fixed!

2) Of course they use an automated system for confirming copyrighted audio content. It's a second line of defense after Google's initial scan. The third line of defense is called customer support, and in any other situation that would be the obvious and trivial solution.

3) It's one guy! This happened ONCE!

4) It got fixed!!

And if you're still worried about your own stuff being falsely identified as copyrighted music, rest assured you can always make an internet s*storm about it and your problem will be solved (this is clearly the ideal solution, yes?)

Now can we please get on with our lives?

murrain 4 days ago 0 replies      
The CEO of Rumblefish did an AMA on reddit as a result of all the press this story received: http://www.reddit.com/r/IAmA/comments/q7via/im_the_ceo_of_ru...
bipolarla 5 days ago 0 replies      
It seems big companies fold to pressure from large companies and political pressure. It is sad they see a creator as less valid then a bigger company. I think they fear the legal teams of these larger companies. Many of them have legal teams waiting around to file suit and since they are salaried lawyers it costs the companies nothing extra to sue. On the other hand music companies already lost billions on free music being used. It appears every industry is either going through or will go through a lower cost or free model. Examples are books, music, newspapers, and the list goes on. Who pay 15 for a cd when it is easy to download for 0. I am happy many top music acts still make so much that it doesnt matter. Firemen, teachers, and cops make pennies compared to Snoop Dogg? Who deserves more? That's the dizzle for schizzle my nizzle!
chjj 5 days ago 4 replies      
Youtube is only complying with DMCA safe harbor by doing this. It requires a speedy takedown of whatever content the claim was filed against. I'm getting slightly sick of people claiming this is Youtube's fault. YT is required by law to do this.
Linus Torvalds on C++ cat-v.org
280 points by NARKOZ  4 days ago   180 comments top 33
kabdib 4 days ago 5 replies      
I use C and C++ extensively (30+ years writing C, 25 or so writing C++).

I much prefer C when writing systems-level code. It's simpler and a lot more predictable. You don't get the illusion that things like memory management are free.

I /have/ written drivers in C++. Here you have to be very careful about memory allocation (calling 'new' in an interrupt handler is usually death, though I've also written very specialized allocators that work in IRQ contexts). STL isn't going to cut it, especially if you're writing something real-time that needs very predictable performance.

So, my basic prejudice is that while you can use C++ for systems stuff, you still really need to be close to C semantics, so you're basically buying namespaces and "C with classes" at the risk that some yahoo later on is going to #include <map> and utterly hose things . . .

stephen_g 4 days ago  replies      
Has anyone really not seen this in the last two years?

Anyway, Linus may be a very experienced C programmer, but that doesn't mean his opinion on C++ carries much weight... I'd be more interested on what someone who actually has a lot of experience in using C++ says. Especially with modern C++ and recent tools, libraries etc, which are very different from what was around five or ten years ago.

I suppose it is nice for a change for someone bagging out C++ (however inaccurately) to be advocating C instead of a managed or interpreted language though!

srean 4 days ago 4 replies      
Now this has me a bit confused, why no love for STL ?

I wish Linus had added more detail. Is the complaint that the binaries are too big (not quite, if you strip them of the unnecessary symbols) ? or is it that it can be a tedium to go over the reams of error messages that compilers spit out when things go wrong. The second point I am willing to concede, it requires you to read messages inside out, which lisp does train you into doing. Or is the complaint about something else entirely ?

Something else that I hear often that bothers me is the claim that STL adds huge runtime overhead. Maybe it was true with the old compilers, but with the current ones, GCC4.5, Intel its not true at least not in a noticeable way. The whole point of STL was the ability to generate optimized code. I have actually verified that the iterator based access patterns on vectors for instance gets optimized away into simple pointer based indexing into memory blocks.

I like STL, in fact I will go so far and admit that I will not code in C++ unless I sense that I will benefit from STL and or templates. Though STL gets used often merely as a container library I think you get more out of it when you use its algorithms. I really like it that I do not have to write for loops (and potentially get the indexing wrong).

If one squints the right way, it has map, reduce, filter and
map-reduce all built in (transform, accumulate, innerproduct) though I miss a vararg zip function. An un-ignorable side benefit to using the STL primitives is that if a parallelized version comes along the way, you get a fairly painless way to make your code parallel. You do have force some of your snippets to be sequential to account for the fact that there is not enough work to parallelize. This is the direction were GCC's STL library is headed with its parallel_mode. http://gcc.gnu.org/onlinedocs/libstdc++/manual/parallel_mode...

@cube Appreciate your comment. For writing kernels and VMs I gladly buy your argument, to add to what you said there is the ABI mess.

redthrowaway 4 days ago 2 replies      
I tend to take everything Linus says with a grain of salt. Not because he's wrong, or because he doesn't know what he's talking about, but there's enough of the puckish troll in him that I tend to read his posts more with an eye to their intended effect, than to what he's actually saying.

There are plenty of applications for which c++ is a perfectly sensible language choice. Git isn't one of them.

georgieporgie 4 days ago 2 replies      
sigh not this flamewar repost again.

The fact that he leads with "language X sucks because it attracts type Y programmers" is quite possibly the worst, cheapest, and lowest attack I've ever seen in technology. It's sad that a technical hero like Linus would basically behave like such a tantrum-throwing child. It reflects poorly on the whole tech community.

davvid 4 days ago 1 reply      
Linus' rant is grounded in practicality. Portability concerns are huge for git. Read the source code.

Git compiles on lots of (arcane and ancient) Unix flavors, and has to deal with the compilers on those platforms. C is still the right choice for git.

willvarfar 3 days ago 0 replies      
Symbian was written in C++.

It was basically C with encapsulation. So using C++ as a better C.

It worked well. It didn't use STL nor boost and the exceptions weren't as you'd know them. Memory management was much more carefully counted than is normal in C/C++ programs, and reservation meant commit.

It was programmed by a pretty clever disciplined bunch. Well, most of us were ;)

balloot 4 days ago 1 reply      
This feels like it was written by a guy who wrote a popular OS and has had people kissing his ass for 15 years. Basically the coding version of a diva musician.
mtrn 4 days ago 2 replies      
A discussion which was inspired by this rant by Linus Torvalds on Stack Overflow: http://stackoverflow.com/q/1995471/89391 Is learning C++ a good idea?
api 3 days ago 0 replies      
I don't completely agree, though I do completely agree when it comes to kernel, embedded, or performance-critical stuff.

One thing I love about Torvalds and that makes him great is that he has zero respect for fads. CS is unfortunately very, very faddish. Good ideas like OOP and Agile become fads, and then become universal hammers with everything becoming a nail, destroying whatever virtues these ideas once had.

WalterBright 3 days ago 1 reply      
C'mon, guys, that posting was 4.5 years ago. It's old news, and has been repeatedly hashed to death.
jon6 4 days ago 1 reply      
I have used C and C++ extensively (10+ years both). I once tried to implement the C++ inheritance model in a C program (basically just fill up the virtual table manually). It was a complete nightmare, wrought with silly mistakes all over the place.

Probably Linus is right that C++ does not belong in the kernel but for application level code reinventing all the basic C++ things in C seems like a waste of time. Linked lists, virtual methods, some form of exception handling.. why waste your time? I laughed pretty hard when I understood how the linked list implementation in the Linux kernel works (pointer arithmetic tricks + sizeof). People don't even invent anything different from whats already in C++.

The key to using C++ is to find a comfortable subset and stick with it. I haven't used C++ on projects with more than 3 people yet so I don't know the pains of agreeing on exactly which subset to use but I imagine it could be done.

16s 3 days ago 1 reply      
Why not take the kernel (it's gpl code) and re-write a major part of it in C++? And then fork that and get others to use it? That would either prove that C++ can be used in kernel or disprove it. We could call it C++nux ;)

Then, the BSD guys would have even more reason to call Linux garbage and the OS/language/superiority wars would rage on for even more generations. Wouldn't that be so cool.

mckilljoy 4 days ago 1 reply      
In principle I agree that C is a more appropriate choice in many situations, but I think his pure hatred for C++ is kind of funny.
strags 4 days ago 2 replies      
Linus's objections seem centered on the fact that it makes it easier to generate bloated code. While this may be true, there's nothing a little self-discipline can't control.

STL and Boost may not make sense for the kernel, but there's nothing wrong with using C++ classes at their most basic. The kernel would be far more readable if it used classes and simple inheritance rather than re-inventing the wheel with structs full of function pointers.

C++ gives you more flexibility with regard to encapsulation as well - it's hard to argue that that doesn't lead to cleaner, safer code.

dubajj 4 days ago 1 reply      
This saddens me as C++ is growing into such a beautiful language. C++11 is a major step forward, and I don't really buy in to complaints that are not about the current standard.

Bad programming is language agnostic. Disliking a language generally implies that you don't know enough about it to really get it.

bleakgadfly 3 days ago 0 replies      
I find it interesting how 'everyone' seem to hate C++, yet, so many uses it. If C++ is so bad, why does people continue to code with it? Personally I have just started to look at C++ due to Microsofts integration with it on WinRT/Metro for Windows 8.

I mean, MongoDB, Node.js, Microsoft's Windows Runtime (which provides access to the systems API for both JavaScript, C#/VB.NET and C++), MySQL, Membase, Haiku, Chromium are all notable examples of software written in C++ that seems to be quite well.

Symmetry 3 days ago 0 replies      
May I recommend that if you're looking for a more considered critique of the C++ programming language you look at the C++ FQA (Frequently Questioned Answers) instead?


nodemaker 4 days ago 1 reply      
I wonder what Linus thinks about Objective C as another as an alternative approach to Object Orientation in C.

IMO Objective C gets much farther in implementing polymorphism and dynamic binding than C++ can even dream of.

Although I hear good things about Boost, I think thats like patching the language instead of fixing the fundamental flaws in its design.

kung-fu-master 3 days ago 0 replies      
But Mercurial was written in Python and performance is comparable to git. So, his argument is not correct about the performance reason on choice of C over C++. Even interpreted Python which was used in Mercurial was not speed bottleneck. Yes, I know that most of speed critical sections was written in C. But almost all project in Python.

Also Darcs was written in Haskell and Bazaar with Python.

I hate C++ too (over 10 years of experience). But Linus is full of BS too.

Yes, choice of C language in Git is right choice. But source code of Git is horrible and unmaintainable mess.

rburhum 4 days ago 1 reply      
Although it is true that certain languages give you the flexibility of writing "utter crap", I can also write pretty crappy unmaintainable code in pure C just as easily. Nevertheless, after 14 years of coding in C++, I love how beautiful my C++ code comes out. All that "OO crap" makes my code easier to understand, debug, maintain and extend. I would take that at the expense of how much more difficult it is to create binary compatible libraries in C++ (something quite easy in C). I can see how for a kernel, that would be more important.
captaincrunch 4 days ago 2 replies      
Linus is probably the %1 of people in the world who actually needs to get the performance gain that C has over C++ - as for the rest of us? Probably doesn't matter.
truncate 3 days ago 1 reply      
avgarrison 3 days ago 1 reply      
What is this site? It's full of what appears to be anti C++ propaganda. I am left wondering, did Linus really say any of this?
andrewflnr 4 days ago 0 replies      
Why does the guy Linus is replying to think C's portability is BS? Anything besides the fact that any libraries used in your "portable" program must also be portable?
thepreacher 3 days ago 0 replies      
Its quite fascinating seeing heavy weights have a go at each other. Most of the discussion here is right over my head but I find myself quite enjoying it. At least its better that the current boxing heavy weight scene. This is about the only post on hacker news that I have read comments on from start to finish. Brilliant all!
mad 3 days ago 0 replies      
I submitted an interesting response to this rant a while back.

It makes some good points, despite the inflammatory technique of characterizing Linus' rant as being caused by a "C-hacker syndrome".


chj 3 days ago 1 reply      
I've read this "news" like dozens of times, and every time I can't help laughing. What he is speaking of is generally true. If I am not writing in C, then I am writing in ASM for speed, or in LISP for less code. C++ just doesn't fit in my tool chain, because it really doesn't excel in any aspect.
Alind 3 days ago 1 reply      
But no one can deny that c++ is the most fascinating programming language in this world. You can either spend or waste as long time as you want to __LEARN__ this language and never can say I understand ALL.
Moschops 3 days ago 0 replies      
For all his skills, there are no two ways about it. Torvalds is a jerk. The kind of jerk who leads a technical rebuttal with a personal insult.
nebiros 4 days ago 2 replies      
again? sigh
danbmil99 3 days ago 0 replies      
Breaking news this hour: Linus hates C++
yzhou 4 days ago 0 replies      
I guess what he meant was signal to noise ratio, i mean, Aplayer/Cplayer ratio. Too many Cplayer programmer start learning c++ without any idea how cpu and memory works, if you let them to mess with the kernels it would be a nightmare for Linus.
If you want reproducible science, the software needs to be open source arstechnica.com
276 points by llambda  5 days ago   67 comments top 21
rgejman 5 days ago  replies      
A Github for scientific code doesn't go nearly far enough. The transition from paper journals to electronic publications has only converted dead-paper into "electronic" paper. With some exceptions, e.g. video recordings, animations and supplementary figures/documents/spreadsheets/code, the document that you download from any major science publisher is a PDF that looks almost exactly like the printed publication. Most don't even include links to referenced publications[1]!

Today, we know a lot about how to make documents that have complex formatting (think micro formats, links) and even more about making abstract document formats that can be presented and styled in different ways (think XML and stylesheet type separation of data and presentation). Having a standardized scientific publication format (with open-source user or publisher generated extensions as needed) would completely change the way we produce and consume the literature. Imagine the possibilities for meta-analysis!

Yes, code should (in most cases) be released together with a paper. But even better would be if the code were released as part of a standardized data format that would allow you to, for instance, selectively download raw data and re-run the computational experiments on your own computer (think: re-running simulations in Mekentosj's Papers as you read the paper).

Even simpler (and possibly more useful): provide both low and original (high) resolution versions of figures that can be examined separately from the main document. I can't tell you how many times I've been annoyed by the low quality of the published images and wished I could zoom in to the level of detail I know was in the original image. Even more frustrating: why should I have to take screenshots of images in Preview to add to a figure in my lab meeting. Separate the presentation and the data!

[1]although some now include intra-document links from a citation in the text to the reference in the coda

jgrahamc 5 days ago 0 replies      
Nice to see that my (co-authored) paper is top news on Hacker News. Direct link to the paper: http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v482/n7386/full/nature1...
mjwalshe 5 days ago 3 replies      
erm as an ex technical programmer and research assistant for a world leading rnd organization not sure I buy this for all experiments - an experiment needs to be reproducible yes but…

Most science is based on physical observation of the experiment the code is just a offshoot of the test equipment.

In the case where you are modelling some thing you do experiments to prove your mathematical model. I once spent a sweltering afternoon in a bunny suit and rubber gloves and mask helping prepare a dummy fuel rod from a Breeder Reactor so that we would do experiments to see if our model of two-phase flow was valid.

And surly saying you can reproduce my experiment but only using my code can everyone not see the danger here - you would want to repeat the experiment and implement ones own version of the maths behind it.

rflrob 5 days ago 2 replies      
There is the factor that a lot of the code scientists write is hacky, one-off, and fragile. The kinds of people who care about releasing their code also feel at least a little embarassed about the code quality. There's at least one license that recognizes and embraces this fact: http://matt.might.net/articles/crapl/
reitblatt 5 days ago 0 replies      
There is a difference between reproducibility and repeatability. Reproduction is an independent experiment producing commensurate results. Repetition is the same lab repeating the experiment and finding the same results. Sharing code actually reduces the independence of experiments. Worse, sharing buggy code introduces systematic errors across "independent experiments". Scientists already deal with similar issues due to a small number of vendors of various tools, but software is pretty different. Systematic measuring biases can be detected and calibrated, but software bugs rarely lend themselves to such corrections. Because science depends upon independent reproducibility and NOT repeatability, there's an argument to be made that blindly sharing code is actually detrimental to scientific reproducibility.

The real question we should be asking is whether opening and sharing these code bases will result in an increase in quality that offsets the loss of experimental independence.

eykanal 5 days ago 0 replies      
It's worth noting that there already are many open-source research packages. My graduate and postdoc work was using magnetoencephalography in neuroscience, and the majority of the packages are open source. The authors were happy to welcome bug reports and source code contributions, and any code used for an analysis can be easily re-used.

By way of example, my postdoc work was all completed using FieldTrip (http://fieldtrip.fcdonders.nl/), free for both MATLAB or Octave. All the source code is on Github (https://github.com/eykanal/EEGexperiment), and anyone could reproduce the majority of my analysis on their dataset.

luriel 5 days ago 0 replies      
And the journals it is published in should be open too.

I know it is offtopic, but it makes my blood boil that we allow scientific research, in great part paid for with tax dollars, to be locked up in what basically are proprietary journals only a few privileged have access to while they should be freely accessible to absolutely everyone.

larsberg 5 days ago 0 replies      
The soon-to-be-released data retention policies for the NSF's CISE (basically, the arm of the National Science Foundation that funds all research) will most likely require complete and free access to not only the code for your implementation but also all scripts, input data, and configuration settings required to completely reproduce the experiments.

I can't wait. I've been doing some GPGPU research, and less than 10% of the authors of _published_ papers are willing to release their code or even a binary for benchmark comparisons.

spitfire 5 days ago 1 reply      
Fantastic! I'll do that just as soon as someone gives me an open source Mathematica, ansys, risk modelling packages.

On a serious note, I agree source should be available. But it isn't, because these sorts of specialized packages are very, very hard to write.

antirez 4 days ago 1 reply      
Same code == less reliable independent verification. So open code is good but independent verifiers should try to reimplement the software needed to verify an experiment.
thomasballinger 5 days ago 0 replies      
After three years of writing CRAPL-worthy code at an academic institution, I'm convinced this needs to be required of academic research. I've made plenty of mistakes that could have dramatically upset experimental conclusions - I assert that I've caught all the important bugs, but the odds will always say I haven't.
Irishsteve 5 days ago 1 reply      
I've a few publications out there and if I had to release my code I would. However the reason I don't instantly publish the code is because its kinda embarrassing. My code works and it has some level of unit test coverage to make sure numbers make sense etc. But the code itself has a number of inefficiencies or ridiculous variable names... or in some cases serious example of breaking DRY.

However if everyone had to publish their code, I know the elements of my code which cause me distress would be nothing compared to a variety of other implementations people create.

Oh also trying to reproduce someone else's algorithm from a paper is so painful. There are a number of experimental values that exist which aren't really mentioned in papers as they are deemed trivial so you've to do no amount of tinkering to get similar results.

cwhittle 4 days ago 0 replies      
Speaking as a scientist who deals with genomic data, I wholeheartedly agree with many of the comments here. Code and raw data should be available at publication. I shouldn't have to try and figure out what you did from the three lines of text and poorly documented software you mention (that has been updated several times since you used it (no mention of version). Personally, I think pseudo-code would be most useful for reproducibility and for illustrating exactly what your program does.

Let me add to a few points here about the practical obstacles to this.

1) Journals don't support this data (raw data or software).

* You can barely include the directly relevant data in your paper let alone anything additional you might have done. Methods are fairly restricted and there is no format for supplemental data/methods. Unless your paper is about a tool, then they don't want the details, they just want benchmarks. Yes, you can put it on your website, but websites change; there are so many broken links to data/software in even relatively new articles.

* As many people have said, lots of scientific processing is one-off type scripting. I need this value or format or transform, so I write a script to get that.

2) Science turns over fast or faster than the lifetimes of most development projects.

* A postdoc or grad student wrote something to deal with their dataset at the time. Both the person and the data have since moved on. The sequencing data has become higher resolution or changed chemistry and output, so its all obsolete. The publication timeline of the linked article illustrates this. For an just an editorial article it took 8 1/2 months from submission to publication. Now add the time it took to handle the data and write the paper prior to that and you're several years back. The languages and libraries that were used have all been through multiple updates and your program only works with Python 2.6 with some library that is no longer maintained. Even data repositories such as GEO (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/geo/) are constantly playing catch-up for the newest datatypes. Even their required descriptions for methodology for data-processing are lacking.

3) Many scientists (and their journals and funding institutions, which drive most changes) don't respect the time or resources it takes to be better coders and release that data/code in a digestible format.

* Why should I make my little program accept dynamic input or properly version with commentary if that work is just seen as a means to an end rather than as an integral part of the conclusions drawn. The current model of science encourages these problems. This last point might be specific to the biology-CS gap.

Craiggybear 4 days ago 0 replies      
All scientific software should be totally open and transparent -- indeed a lot of it already is. For years, for example, people were erroneously making the mistake of trusting Excel's statistical functions without being aware they were deeply flawed.

Software that is in use for scientific purposes must be open to review and assumptions about their efficacy or correctness should not just be taken for granted. They need to be checked and their outputs verified for correctness.

Even when flaws in commercial proprietary code are found it can take years (or never) before they are corrected. Chances are that if the same flaws show up in OS software they be fixed sooner. Failing that, you can fix 'em yourself -- or at least be in a position to potentially detect them and alert other users.

Create 5 days ago 0 replies      
some of it is available, like https://svnweb.cern.ch/trac/ or sometimes locally, as a http://gitorious.org/ instance combined with other tools, like http://dtk.inria.fr/
bryanh 5 days ago 2 replies      
Is there a niche out there for the GitHub of science? My cofounder (mikeknoop on HN) puts a lot of his scholarly research code stuffs on GitHub, but perhaps a more specialized place with emphasis on peer review would be more appropriate.
altxwally 5 days ago 0 replies      
I'm not a researcher myself, but I have seen the efforts done in this field by the org-babel project very interesting. It is a literate programming mode for Emacs that attempts to make conducting this style of research more straightforward.

I attach here some links and example works done in the reproducible research style of org-mode.

"A Multi-Language Computing Environment for
Literate Programming and Reproducible Research"


Reproducible Research and Beyond


Example work: https://github.com/tsdye/hawaii-colonization

Org-babel wiki: http://orgmode.org/worg/org-contrib/babel/uses.html

bipolarla 5 days ago 0 replies      
Health and codes are much like any business. The talent wants to maintain their edge. Many health companies, universities and even non profits find value in holding onto what they create. I understand we want everyone to be healthy but it will never work that way. So much cost and competition is involved that it will never be a "free" open source world. I would bet if Bill Gates and Warren Buffett each put 5 billion dollars toward find a cure or sharing code and paying creators there would be more people willing to share. Try asking Coca Cola for their secret recipe. Oh and tell them you won't pay them and will be using this recipe to make your own sodas to compete against them. I believe you will be waiting a long time for them to call with the info.
docmarionum1 5 days ago 0 replies      
Open-sourcing the code would only be the first step. To make the experiments truly reproducible, you also need to know the hardware and software configurations used to run it. Different package versions could lead to different results. And, for instance, if you're running your code on one of those old Pentium chips with an error in the FPU, that needs to be know.

I'm currently working on a platform for scientific programming. One of the ultimate goals is to include a provenance system which will be able to tell you everything about what generated the final results, including that of input data if it was derived on the system. That way you might be able to have a complete history of where a particular result comes from.

zerostar07 5 days ago 0 replies      
A successful example of code sharing: ModelDB (http://senselab.med.yale.edu/modeldb/) , a database of neuronal models and mechanisms. It contains lots of validated, reviewed simulations that are now commonly shared in the comp-neuro community, making it extremely valuable.
singingfish 5 days ago 1 reply      
I deal with this problem in the social sciences, where the problem is even worse. Data analysis by convention with an overwhelming reliance on expensive propietary software ... I'm actually talking to a bunch of academics on this topic later this week, so this article is very timely.
Gigabit Internet for $80 arstechnica.com
269 points by Nogwater  5 days ago   86 comments top 19
veidr 5 days ago 5 replies      
I'm from Sebastopol; sonic.net is a truly great ISP. I've cited them as an example of great customer service in general, not just within the (typically awful) ISP industry.

I now live in Tokyo; I enjoy synchronous gigabit fiber access for a similar price. (It's actually closer to $50, but that's because my whole building is wired for it, and the building management has negotiated a group price.)

The difference is, here in Japan, pretty much anybody in any major metro area can get cheap gigabit Internet service (or synchronous 100Mbps at the very least). That's because here we do have a level of (intelligent) regulation; precisely the kind of regulation that this article points out the FCC eliminated during the Bush administration. There can obviously only be a tiny number of companies who run last-mile cables (telco and electric utilities here). So if those companies aren't required to reasonably resell that acess, you will never achieve the kind of competitive landscape that drives rapid progress.

It's pretty awesome that Sonic is able to do this in sleeply little Sebastopol, but it's pretty sad that most of America languishes under with barbarously primitive connection speeds of just a few Mbps because of its dysfunctional government.

EDIT: My anecdote about their service harkens back to when DSL was fairly new. My connection was flaking out one day, so I called. It rang twice. "Hello, Sonic.net." What, no menu tree? I explained the gist of the problem. "Do you mind if I connect to your DSL modem and check it out?" Of course not. "OK, I'm seeing the problem. Some of these units unfortunately shipped with slightly incorrect settings. I've updated those for you; is it working now?" It was. Total time on the phone was maybe 90 seconds. Even getting a human on the phone in that time was pretty astonishing (and still is).

ajays 4 days ago 0 replies      
This is all the more reason why we need a municipal fiber network in major cities (dense urban areas). Don't get me wrong: I love what Sonic is doing, and plan to move to them as my ISP very soon. But the fact that it's so hard for Sonic to build out the fiber infrastructure shows that this is where a government run infrastructure makes sense; after all, isn't the government supposed to take on the massive infrastructure projects?

I live in San Francisco. I've been reaching out to my supervisor about this community fiber thing, but to no avail. In the meantime, he goes along with AT&T's plan to install 100s of refrigerator-sized boxes on sidewalks, to provide their "uverse"-brand Internet (which is not GbE). A handful of citizens -vs- highly-paid suits of AT&T? Citizens always lose.

Here's the problem with letting AT&T build out these boxes: they then become a monopoly. If Sonic wants to come in and provide fiber, they also need 100s of such boxes. And then Comcast. And maybe MonkeyBrains (there is such an ISP here). And so on. This is not sustainable! You can't have every ISP putting up large boxes on sidewalks!

A solution is for the City to lay fiber and maintain it; and then you buy access from AT&T/Sonic/MonkeyBrains/Comcast. Only 1 set of boxes; and Internet access can come from any of the myriad gateways available. As for funding: thats what bonds are for. And plus: the increase in property values will pay for this in no time at all (via increased tax revenues).

But trying to convince the politicians to listen to a citizen is impossible. They just go along with the lobbyists, who are just looking after their own short-term interests.

zanny 4 days ago 3 replies      
Nobody seems to be asking, but I will - why isn't network cable grouped under the same class of utilities provided by local governments that include roads, sewers, and in some countries, electricity?

I know in America we have the completely stupid system where electricity is at a regulated rate but privately provided by a given monopoly company at any given household.

That is actually another example of the problem. If governments didn't suck, and our collective interests were not clouded and in general ill thought, we would have fiber to the home be a national works project to help pull the country out of the recession.

It is currently so expensive to lay fiber because the demand and supply are in this convoluted state, where no one demands it due to the monopolies so no one makes it in great quantity so prices are artificially high so no one wants it.

If we had a gov't project to lay fiber, the massive demand (unless the gov't did the entire supply chain like they did with the NHS) would spur industry growth, and we could then export our huge fiber industry (which is high tech manufacturing, like carbon nanotubes would be in bulk) to everyone else and actually have industry again.

Of course, that would never happen, because governments almost never do anything right. And if they do it right, they do it insanely over budget and late. But it is nice to dream.

I think it might possibly work at the local level. It doesn't have the huge instantaneous demand boom of the material as a national project, but regions that have access to the raw components used in fiber tubing (sand is a silica right? Not pure enough I assume, we make the stuff somewhere out of silicates though) could subsidize and start the industry, and then sell the company after they spur demand by using their own fiber supply to give every home 100 gigabit internet connections.

Fast forward a decade and the initial cost investment to build the industry would be paying dividends in national productivity and the export market we would have for fiber. Rather than go from (on average) 56 kbps internet in 2000 to 300kbps in 2012, we could have a third of the population on fiber in a decade.

It really comes back to infrastructure. Nobody makes subways or national transit systems or lays railroads across the nation unless there is a huge unrealistic demand that forces businesses to act or if the collective power of representational government uses the investment potential of taxpayers to create and fund the services that make everyone's lives better but no one can justify giving on a case by case basis for a quick profit in the next quarter financial report.

Alas, pipe dreams. I wish I had sonic, I get the lovely fun of picking between the staunchly competitive only ISP in my area that provides single banded DSL at 300 kbps for $50 over the copper phone lines that have been in the ground for half a century. God bless America.

lukev 5 days ago  replies      
At this point in history, would most users even be able to benefit from gigabit connection speeds?

I have 20mbps FiOS, and I feel like my connection is almost never the limiting factor in delays online. Sites that are actually serving at full speed load in a fraction of a second. Lots of sites are slow, but it's almost always the server side or intervening networks (overseas sites, etc.)

For the vast majority of content, 20 reliable mbps completely meets my needs. I can stream HD video with no buffering. I can download ISO images in much less time than it takes to boot a VM. My Dropbox syncs within a few seconds: I can't recall actually having to wait for a file to be available.

Not saying that gigabit internet isn't awesome. But I don't feel like connection speed is the major bottleneck on the internet experience right now for those who can get a > 15mbps connection. I'd rather focus on expanding the availability of that, before we move on to the next tier of bandwith-heavy applications.

jedberg 4 days ago 0 replies      
I love Sonic. I wish I could get them at my house in Cupertino (hint hint). I would drop UVerse without hesitation.

We got Sonic for the reddit office and it is awesome. One day, a Sonic rep stopped by, unannounced, just to make sure everything was satisfactory. It was amazing.

saryant 5 days ago 1 reply      
Back when I lived in the North Bay (2001ish) I switched from SBC to Sonic.net for my DSL service. After setting up the new connection I got a call Dane Jasper asking if everything was satisfactory. Needless to say, I was completely blown away by this.

Their service was absolutely amazing. No phone menus, techs who wouldn't make you run through their script if you knew what was going on, simple pricing. I miss having them as my ISP.

(The 4 static IPs were pretty awesome too)

muhfuhkuh 5 days ago 2 replies      
I thought because of various fallacious reasons, gigE was highly improbable in the US. At least, that the was the reason given when S. Korea, Japan, and major cities in China were blessed with it.

I've heard everything from geography (even in NYC, one of the densest population on Earth, we couldn't get it together for consumer gigE) to culture (yes, culture! As I understand it from various explanations, we're too culturally "heterogeneous" for gigE connections. No seriously.)

I wonder how Sonic made the highly improbable not only possible but, apparently, profitable?

shrike 4 days ago 0 replies      
I recently moved to Seattle where CondoInternet offers unmetered 1Gbps symmetric Internet access for $200/month or 100Mb for $60. Having access that fast changes the way you think about using the Internet; I'm able to host TOR bridge nodes, mirror OSS projects, move VMs around, etc.

It's actually meant consolidating a lot of my non-critical stuff back home, I've been able to decommission a couple of Linodes and AWS instances in favor of a machine running XEN in the closet.

marshallp 5 days ago 2 replies      
Areas with high speed internet might see their house prices go up. If this happens, it might become profitable for homeowners to band together to finance high speed internet installation. Of course, they will need internet based coordination for this to happen efficiently. There might an opportunity for startups in that space.
nazgulnarsil 4 days ago 0 replies      
It's really depressing that small regulatory changes are playing such big roles in whether a business is a runaway success or a bankruptcy spiral. That barriers to entry have sharply gone up in several key industries should be the huge story for the US economy.
bwarp 4 days ago 1 reply      
At the risk of sounding like a whinging old man, but do we really need 1Gbit to the home at the moment?

If you take the UK as an example, a lot of the country (outside major cities and metropolitan areas) is still stuck on 512kbit. The same is true worldwide with even parts of SA on dialup. Shouldn't we be concentrating on throwing more resources into getting these connections usable rather than feeding crazy large bandwidth to the rich?

As the broadband speeds are controlled pretty much by consumer demand, isn't it better to have more people than an elite few?

On the same subject, I'm sitting here on approximately 12Mbits and I genuinely have no problems with it streaming HD iPlayer and with three computers on it. I don't need any faster and it costs a whopping $20 a month equiv (unmetered consumption).

Also, if you consider the cost of bandwidth and caps thrown on people in Europe, a gig connection would suck up your entire allocation in about 48 seconds...

GigabyteCoin 5 days ago 1 reply      
Currently living in the same setup in Toronto (same price point for 100mbps unlimted), although it's not available to new subscribers anymore unfortunately. They upped the price $5 and added a 300GB cap. That's with Telus in downtown Toronto. It's been available for the last 8 or so years I believe. Since 2004.

I noticed Hamilton Ontario (and much of it's south-easternly towns) of all places has unlimited 100mbps available via Shaw Hamilton. That only costs ~$100/month: http://www.shawhamilton.ca/index.php?internet

I am seriously considering moving to hamilton after I move out of this place literally just for the internet connection.

mike-cardwell 4 days ago 1 reply      
I have access to about 20Gbit at work (University). At home, I think I have about 8Mbit or something. I don't notice the difference. 8Mbit is (currently) more than fast enough for the vast majority of people using the vast majority of services on the Internet. I doubt I'd even notice if my home connection dropped to 2Mbit.
openbear 4 days ago 0 replies      
The price is actually ≈ $70 per month. From the article ...

Update: the initial version of this article mistakenly listed the price of Sonic's gigabit service at $79.95; it is actually $69.95.

That's amazing. Here I thought I was getting a bargain with 15Mbps SDSL for $25 per month (our mid-rise condo building in downtown San Jose, CA struck a deal with our ISP if some percentage of residents signed up).

kev009 4 days ago 1 reply      
I've only bought up to one gigabit at the transit level, and it bottoms out at about $1/mbit currently at that commit.

So what are you really getting for $80/mo? If you try to really use (or abuse in some people's minds) that last mile gigabit, how long till you get cut or prompt crap like deep packet inspection and throttling? The "Internet" as we know it is a tricky thing.

I'd prefer something like 20mbps sync to the home that you're free to use as you see fit at that price point. The economics of this should work out fine.

hackermom 4 days ago 0 replies      
This is American news. Speeds like these, for this and smaller price tags, are not the least unheard of in Europe or Asia. I'm glad to see that some American ISPs dare to move things forward.
easp 4 days ago 0 replies      
Grrrrr. I wish someone would give Comcast some competition in Seattle's neighborhoods of single family homes, because CenturyLink, the telco, doesn't seem up to it.
vgoel 5 days ago 3 replies      
Don't get tempted by this. I live in Palo Alto and allowed myself to be enticed by the Sonic.net's advertised promise
of "... Broadband at up to 20Mbps ...".
I actually got 1.5 Mbps download speed.
I would not have been tempted had they been
advertising "Broadband speeds 1.5 Mbps - 20 Mbps.
You may get lucky and be on the high end or you may not."
Tossrock 4 days ago 1 reply      
I think the authors of this article may not realize that a gigabit is equivalent to 125 megabytes. The caption saying that it's "actually much faster" than the 134 Mbps listed by speedtest is silly.
The Forgotten Founder: A Silicon Valley Tale of Humiliation and Revenge inc.com
260 points by bgossage  3 days ago   103 comments top 25
lkrubner 3 days ago 4 replies      
So, in theory, he is fired for stealing from the company. But then this happens:

"Eventually, after months of negotiation, Shaikh says, he got a $50,000 severance payment. He agreed to sell his 317,000 shares in the company for $73,000, less than a fourth of what they had been worth in the Series A round."

Does this mean the company was uncertain about whether he was really stealing? I don't think it is normal to pay someone a severance payment when they've been fired for good cause. I think one would have to conclude that the company was unsure of how much it could make stick, and therefore paid some small amount simply to make him go away. Or possibly the severance was in exchange for his agreement to sell his shares at a discount? That would make more sense to me.

The FBI was not involved over this incident. Instead the FBI was involved over this:

"So, on a chilly Tuesday morning in December, Shaikh ran a piece of testing software, called ApacheBench, that flooded YouSendIt's servers with traffic. The servers keeled over immediately. Later that day, a sentence appeared on YouSendIt's Wikipedia page: "Looks like the company may be out of business, their site is down." (Shaikh says he didn't write it.)"

The FBI took this very seriously, and got a friend of Shaikh's to wear a wire and get him talking.

I appreciate that the FBI needs to look into any incident where there has been hacking, but it strikes me this cooperation between the FBI and the various corporations is open to abuse.

I once had a bad breakup with a company, and the ending was frightening to me. This was in 2009.

There was a fellow acting as impresario for a startup. He called himself the CEO, though he also ran a small investment firm, and he had multiple investments that he had to keep an eye on.

The goal of the startup was to build something like Quora, but find a way to get people pay for information (they would pay to ask questions).

The CEO lined up 4 investors who put in a total of $100,000 to get the operation going. 4 programmers were hired, including me. 3 of the programmers were remote, and I was in the New York, where the CEO and project manager were. The other 3 programmers were in the USA and Europe.

We worked hard during the spring and early summer of 2009 to get to the point where we could launch.

Half way through the summer, the decision was made to hire an Indian firm to do the development. They were much cheaper. I would be the technical point of contact. We relied less on the programmers in the USA and Europe and more on the team in India. However, we had very serious problems with the quality of the code coming from India. Almost every time something got checked into Subversion, something broke. I raised my concerns to the project manager, and I cc'ed the project manager on several emails to the team in India, where I tried to educate them on the mistakes they were making. I was inclined to get rid of the team in India, although the CEO and the project manager liked how cheap they were. I suggested we find a different company in India. We all knew that firms in India were of uneven quality -- some good and some bad. If you want to hire a team in India, one often has to do a lot of digging to find a good team.

I tried selling the project manager on implementing unit tests and functional tests, and he suggested that we wait till the site was launched. There was an attitude that we could clean things up once we launched.

There was some funny business with the money that I never fully understood. I was working as a contractor. I was billing at the end of each month, and the company had 30 days to pay, so it was a 60 day cycle from start to finish (from the 1st of one month to the end of the next month).

They only paid me for June at the very end of July, which made me wonder about their money. However, the project manager and his wife invited me to their house upstate, and we spent a week working together, and the project manager assured that there was enough money to pay me. They cooked some wonderful meals and it was a pleasant week and we got a lot of work done. At that moment, I thought of the project manager as a friend, and our work relationship seemed very positive. I was single at the time, and his wife said she had a friend that she wanted to set me up on a date with.

Still, I was suspicious about the money, so half way through August I stopped putting in billable hours. I trusted the project manager, but I did not trust the CEO.

As of September 1st and they had not yet paid me for the work I did during July. This was in violation of the work agreements that we had signed.

I demanded to know whether they had the money to pay me. I wrote to the other contractors and asked if they'd been paid. None of them had. Most of them were only owed small amounts. At this point, the company owed me $10,000. I had been the main programmer for most of the summer.

September gave way to October. For awhile they made vague declarations about paying me part of the money. I began to suspect that they had no intention of paying. I found out that they were still using the team in India, and apparently the team in India was being paid.

In November I had my lawyer send them a letter, urging them to send me the money. I notified the other contracts in Europe and the USA of what I was doing.

After that, everything changed. They had their lawyer write up a counter letter that basically said that all of the bugs on the site were my fault. There was a suggestion that I had maliciously tried to undermine the site, and that I had interfered with the team in India and damaged their ability to move the site forward. The CEO was apparently especially angry about the fact that I'd contacted the other contractors in the USA and Europe, and their lawyer's letter referred to this as tortious interference with their contractors.

The purpose of that counter letter was to frighten me, and to some extent it worked. I realized that if I wanted to get my money, it would involve an ugly fight, with a lot of ugly accusations. I gave up the fight.

I never got paid.

After reading this article at Inc, I have to wonder how far the company could have gone, if they had wanted to take a very aggressive approach with me. On the personal level, I could wonder: If they had made accusations to the FBI, would the FBI have investigated me? What would that entail, and would I have the prove the bugs in the code were not my fault? But aside from the personal level, there is the general issue: companies with aggressive lawyers could potentially use these aggressive tactics to get out of paying contractors. I wish that I could have faith that the folks at the FBI are smart enough to avoid being suckered by these companies, but I don't really have such faith.

cperciva 3 days ago  replies      
It seems to me that the lesson to learn here is to be careful about agreeing to vesting. Pre-series A, the three founders owned most [1] of a company which had a $6M pre-money valuation and was "on track to hit $1M in revenue" for the year. Post-series A, they each owned less than 3% of the company outright, with the rest of their shares vesting over four years [2]. What sort of idiot takes a deal which reduces them from owning stock valued at $1.5M to owning stock valued at $300k and an employment contract which gives them $300k/year of stock if they stay at the company?

Obviously if you're running out of runway, you take whatever terms you can get, since your company is worthless if it goes bankrupt; but if your company is profitable and your only concern is about allowing it to grow faster, why the heck would you take a deal which is practically begging your investors to fire you?

[1] We're not told how much Cambrian Ventures took, but for $250k it presumably wasn't a huge amount. I'm going to arbitrarily guess 25%.

[2] Based on the way the numbers work out, I'm guessing they kept 20% of their stock outright and gave back the remaining 80% to be four-year vested. This fits with the fact that the company was about a year old when they took the funding.

jacquesm 3 days ago 1 reply      
I really don't get why you'd take money off the table while at the same time growing like crazy and diluting the stock significantly.

Porsches and houses worth well over a million $US within 6 months of picking up $250K funding in a year when revenues were projected to hit 1M makes absolutely no sense.

They should have simply matched growth to income and ridden the growth-curve instead of diluting and splurging on luxury goods.

Lots of bad decisions here, including vesting for founders, a culture of blame and so on.

ChrisNorstrom 3 days ago 0 replies      
Wow. Who would have known this would all happen at a file sharing site like YouSendIt. It makes you wonder about all the stories out there that you'll hear or know about.

A really nice read. Worth every word. I wish everything were written like this. Straight and to the point. Constantly progressing, no BS, no filler. The writing was transparent and didn't get in the way.

jpdoctor 3 days ago 1 reply      
> He says his termination agreement prohibited him from contacting them [other employees]

That pretty much tells you everything you need to know about the management and board. The clowns probably included a one-way non-disparagement clause as well, which is quite humorous in light of this article.

BTW: Standard etiquette in the valley is for the employees to contact anyone who has just left the company, usually in email from the company, so there is a written record of who initiated contact.

jwr 3 days ago 3 replies      
Oh, how I wish it were mandatory for everyone to include a "view as single page" button, instead of planting a bunch of tiny clickable digits at the bottom.

These days it happens more and more often that I will not read an article if I can't get it into Instapaper.

rdl 2 days ago 2 replies      
1) Who the fuck were their lawyers?

2) This seems to be the inevitable consequence of third-tier investors, weird family politics, and founders with less than fully developed ethical sense (which is fine; I would expect young founders and first time founders especially to learn somewhat what things are considered ethical, starting from a personal moral framework -- that's what advisors, lawyers, investors, etc. are for).

3) The Mahler character's first instinct (this will end in tears and disaster) perhaps was right; gut instinct is a good check on decisions like that. Necessary but not sufficient.

4) Wow, now I remember what it was like when people still built stuff on windows. Using linux (or bsd) was a huge competitive advantage 1998-2005 or so; I guess like having the Internet was in the early 1990s. Macs for desktop/laptop use became this in the mid-2000s; what is the current unfair advantage held by anyone competent? Maybe the cloud, and devops vs. individual system sysadmin? Single-command deployment?

_sentient 3 days ago 2 replies      
Did anyone else get the impression that this guy is a major slime ball? I'm sure YouSendIt has issues at the top, and it does sound like Kumaran may be a little glory hungry.

But when you happily engage in vengeful DDOS attacks, shitty app spam, and flip apparently stolen websites, it paints a pretty clear picture of your character. I know I sure wouldn't want a guy like Shaikh working for me. Not in a million years.

api 3 days ago 1 reply      
Honestly, this whole thing looks like a big clusterfark. Lots of mistakes.

Fundamental to them all is the idea that being "funded" equals "arrival." It doesn't. Revenue and customers equals arrival. Ideally it would be best not to be "funded" at all, since OPM == debt.

kenrikm 3 days ago 0 replies      
Wow what a great example of "the law of attraction" E.G. negative people bring negative things, positive people bring positive things. It was clear from the story that he had serious integrity issues and was not great at dealing with people. When I got to the part where they started buying Porches and 700k houses I was like oh great this is going to go downhill FAST. I think that if you're only in it for the Money/Ego I think you might as well become a Lawyer at least then you're just doing what's expected of you.
mirsadm 3 days ago 2 replies      
I can't help at being annoyed at the part where he has a group of programmers churning out 5 iPhone apps a day.
jccodez 3 days ago 1 reply      
Great read. I feel for the guy. It was a foolish decision, but I sympathize with his continued struggles and wish he and his family all the best.
chrisacky 2 days ago 0 replies      
The takeaway from this for me was:

"The three co-founders would each be left with less than 3 percent of the company."

Yet they hired an advisor to guide them through the raising stage? Is this normal?

uzair88 3 days ago 1 reply      
Ecellent read because it provides an alternate (and ugly) perspective of the often glorified (read techcrunch-ified) world of startups in the Valley.

Shaikh has obviously made some big mistakes but take a minute to feel for the guy. He literally bled for the company to save some money so I can imagine the emotional rollercoaster he must have been on.

Well written piece Inc.

CamperBob 3 days ago 1 reply      
(Kumaran recalls telling the investor he couldn't speak because of confidentiality and antidisparagement agreements.)

Memo: when writing an antidisparagement agreement, the first rule of antidisparagement agreements is that you agree not to disclose the existence of the antidisparagement agreement.

andyl 3 days ago 1 reply      
It would have been valuable to Shaikh if he had someone he trusted who could counsel him to just chill and not shoot himself in the foot. What happened to him at YouSendIt doesn't seem fair to me, but sometimes life is that way. Now he could learn from his experience and give it another go. Good luck to Shaikh and his family.
ohashi 3 days ago 0 replies      
>"Once you break even, to me, that's the best point," he says, "because at that point, you have complete control over your own life."

My favorite line.

yaliceme 3 days ago 0 replies      
This was a good read. I try to read one or two startup horror stories for each startup fairy tale I hear. Though I've not yet considered simply abandoning startup life, so perhaps I should up the ratio? :-p
jamescarr 2 days ago 0 replies      
The real joke is YouSendIt's servers were brought to their knees by running apache benchmark off of one machine.
rjohnson008 3 days ago 0 replies      
A mixed bag of lessons including hiring, funding and wrestling with inner demons. Enjoyed it.
jccodez 3 days ago 0 replies      
It would make a great screenplay for a tragic comedy (with a happy ending of course).
djangonian 3 days ago 0 replies      
One of the very few looong HN stories i read completely. :)
Nice read,feel for that guy.
justjimmy 3 days ago 1 reply      
Thanks for the read and ditto on the 5 pages needing to be viewable in just 1 page.
np1782 3 days ago 0 replies      
Nice read.
How To Build a Naive Bayes Classifier bionicspirit.com
258 points by zhiping  4 days ago   37 comments top 13
jgrahamc 4 days ago 2 replies      
Years ago I wrote about this for Dr. Dobbs. That article is here: http://drdobbs.com/article/print?articleId=184406064&sit... The important differences are that the DDJ article used log probabilities instead of simple probabilities because underflow is a real problem.

The other thing is that simple thresholds aren't the only solution to using the output of naive Bayes for determining whether a message is ham or spam. Back in 2007 I looked at calibrating the output to deal especially with the problem of messages that have a probability near 0.5: http://blog.jgc.org/2007/03/calibrating-machine-learning-bas...

Also for spam filtering it's worth testing whether stop word removal and stemming are actually worthwhile: http://blog.jgc.org/2007/03/so-how-much-difference-do-stopwo...

juanre 4 days ago 4 replies      
Nice article, but I suspect the implementation will not work. I did essentially the same for an AI-class exercise, and was thrilled to see that you could write a working Bayes classifier in 60 short lines of Python code. But later I landed a free-lance job that required writing a classifier that could be applied to real world data, and I soon realized that repeated multiplication of numbers between 0 and 1 sends you to zero too fast for the implementation to actually work. I might have missed it in the code, but I think he's doing the same mistake: you need to normalize or move to logarithms for the estimation of probabilities to work for medium or large datasets.
sigil 4 days ago 1 reply      
We wrote a Naive Bayes Classifier for http://linktamer.com/ that learns what news articles you find interesting. It's in C and uses a cdb for the database of frequencies, so it's pretty darn fast. Maybe we'll throw it up on github one of these days.

Some resources and other reference implementations that were useful in building it:

http://www.gigamonkeys.com/book/practical-a-spam-filter.html - Siebel's "Practical Common Lisp" book has a very readable implementation

http://www.paulgraham.com/spam.html - pg's essay that revived interest in using NBC for spam classification

http://spambayes.svn.sourceforge.net/viewvc/spambayes/trunk/... - a Python implementation that's been out there in the real world for about 10 years

https://github.com/WinnowTag/winnow/blob/master/src/classifi... - a C implementation used in another news classifier

Jach 4 days ago 0 replies      
This is a good explanation, though like the Dr. Dobbs article linked on this page I prefer the exposition of logs. (Looks like the author updated for it.) I also have a personal displeasure of Venn diagram and set-based and event-based versions of probability, and non-conditional probabilities rearing their heads, but that attitude comes largely from reading Jaynes...

I wrote my own Naive Bayes function for helping me tag my blog posts back in January. I did a longish explanation and implementation (PHP), it'd be cool if someone wanted to check my math/intuition since while my button has worked out so far (that is, no really surprising results have crept to the top as most likely) I wouldn't be surprised if there's an error or justification for a better calculation of a particular probability term that I missed. http://www.thejach.com/view/2012/1/an_explanation_and_exampl...

tmcw 4 days ago 0 replies      
Pretty good explanation - my only gripe is that all bayes classifier tutorials like this build the 'spam detector' type that's specialized to text. Though it's a common use case, that isn't the only thing that the classifier can do - you can use it for raster classification, other types of predictions, etc: and building a non-specialized version would make this point more clear.
chrisacky 4 days ago 1 reply      
Really enjoyed that read.
I'm looking at implementing some simple spam detection for personal messages that are sent between users of my application. (They are enquiries for sales and users are billed per enquiry so it's important to make sure that they don't get billed for spam), do you think Akismet would be suitable for this kind of thing? Any alternatives that you could recommend, I will probably get around to building my own at some point, but as a proof of concept I'd like to just get something running.
shearn89 4 days ago 0 replies      
Another useful toolkit for stuff like this (and anything to do with natural language), but only available for python at the moment is the Natural Language Toolkit: http://code.google.com/p/nltk/

It's a very powerfull toolkit, with a lot more functionality than is needed to write an NB classifier, but may be of interest to anyone looking at NLP!

nailer 4 days ago 0 replies      
Thanks. It's refreshing to see algorithms written using real variable names and your tutorial is made much better because of this.
lrvick 4 days ago 0 replies      
Here are the basics of putting together a Naive
Bayes sentiment classifier with NLTK https://gist.github.com/1266556

Here is a full project I started to to the same backed by redis adn built to scale for large applications: http://github.com/tawlk/synt

redact207 4 days ago 1 reply      
One thing which is missing from this implementation is the use of lemmas. Rather than treating words like "house", "houses", "housing" all as separate terms, they all get reduced to the stem "house". http://lemmatise.ijs.si/ is a good resource for this.
jgmmo 4 days ago 0 replies      
Great article, all these Bayes articles have really piqued my interest in Machine Learning. Love it! Good stuff!
atrilla 3 days ago 0 replies      
In response to some of the comments:

In my experience, all variables are important, but on testing, using only the ones (i.e., the words) observed in the text to test yields the best effectiveness rates, following the implementation from Manning, Raghavan and Schütze (2008).

In addition, the considered Laplace smoothing is of utmost importance to deal with out-of-vocabulary words, thus avoiding the annoying 0's.

My implementation:


B0rG 4 days ago 1 reply      
can you build one to dig for interesting stuff in:
Windows 8 Consumer Preview released. microsoft.com
257 points by klausa  2 days ago   196 comments top 23
nextparadigms 2 days ago  replies      
Engadget's conclusion:

"We really liked Windows 7 when it launched. It felt like a big step forward in the short time that had passed since Vista. Now, as we creep closer to a likely release near the end of this year, we can't shake a sense of doubt. Windows 8 still feels like two very different operating systems trying to be one. The potential is hugely alluring -- a single OS to rule both the tablet and the desktop -- and with each subsequent version we keep hoping this will be the one that ties it all together. Sadly, as of the Consumer Preview, we're still seeing a lot of loose threads.

As it stands, Windows 8 is a considerably better tablet operating system than any previous version has managed to be. However, it's still a clumsier desktop OS than Windows 7. That's a problem Microsoft must fix before release."

I feel the same way. By trying to please everyone, Microsoft will please no one, and will frustrate 95% of the Windows users out there who will be very confused not just by the tile interface, who is much different than what they are used to, but also by the disconnect between these two interfaces.

Microsoft is trying to win the few who want a tablet interface at the expense of the vast majority who want a PC, mouse-oriented interface for their...PC's and laptops.

ChrisNorstrom 2 days ago  replies      
Competition from Apple and Linux (but mostly Apple) is the best thing to happen to Microsoft in a long time. No, the UI isn't perfect yet, the design decisions (for this beta) not always logical, but Windows is finally going somewhere amazing after many years of going no where. Because some of Microsoft's best products were great but went no where.

Take the Zune and Windows Phone 7. People who own them love them, especially the Zune. My neighbor had an iPod and Zune and always stood up for his Zune despite loathing Microsoft. But everyone else refuses to touch them. Why? Because they're Microsoft products and the stigma around them is that MS products have no future and become abandoned quickly or go nowhere fast. A reputation that's going to take consumers at least a decade to forget about and move on. So hopefully MS keeps these "revolutionary redesigns" going at a constant rate and not just kill them once profit comes in and market share returns.

cooldeal 2 days ago 0 replies      
Thanks, pulling at my max speed right now (~2MB/s).

Live coverage of the preview event here.


zaatar 2 days ago 2 replies      
I hope you like IE10; It's been a lot of work for a lot of people to make it happen. If you don't, please do not fail to voice your concerns. Thanks, and enjoy!
lini 2 days ago 0 replies      
Visual Studio 2012 beta is out as well - http://www.microsoft.com/visualstudio/11/en-us/downloads
melling 2 days ago 3 replies      
How is IE10? It sounds like it's going to be competitive with Chrome in both HTML5 compatibility and performance.


Is Microsoft still doing the silent update for IE?

Achshar 2 days ago 1 reply      
why don't they give an official torrent..? the file size is very big and direct download for slower connections is not feasible.
jakeonthemove 2 days ago 1 reply      
Just tried it - it's pretty much as I expected... awesome! It's like Windows 7, only more polished.

Metro UI is quite cool, but you can spend most your time in the desktop mode if you wish (you'll have to use Metro to search for stuff and open apps).

One big drawback is that my favorite tool, Dexpot (virtual desktops manager) does not work - I hope it's not because they removed VD support, that would seriously suck...

jakeonthemove 2 days ago 2 replies      
OK, the latest beta version of Dexpot works - I'm good!

Metro is also surprisingly intuitive - I've picked up everything on the first try (the corner actions are cool, too).

Now, what I don't like:

- All of the advanced settings (Control Panel and everything) are hard to access;

- WIN-TAB shows only Metro apps, but ALT-TAB shows Metro and the normal apps, cluttering the interface.

- While I like the Metro apps and will probably use them, the desktop should be loading by default on a laptop/desktop - there's no reason not to do it, and it looks like it's easily doable with some tweaked settings;

- The dumbed down everything feeling of Metro is cool at first, but gets annoying on a laptop after a while;

- I had to register a LIVE account to login to the OS - what if I don't have an Internet connection?

But that's about it - Windows 8 looks like a great OS, I like it. I still don't get why Microsoft had to make it an all-in-one OS for tablets and desktops when they could've packed Metro only for a tablet edition, but whatever...

jstepien 2 days ago 2 replies      
I'm intrigued by the 0.8 GB difference between the x64 and the x86 build. It's even more interesting given that this difference must be caused solely by different machine code, which, by its nature, shouldn't pose a big challenge for compression algorithms. Assuming that 32 extra bits per pointer and a different instruction set aren't enough to generate such such an increase in size, I'm wondering what might be the reason. Extra binaries and portability-related code for for 32-bit compatibility? Any ideas?
RexRollman 2 days ago 1 reply      
Personally, two things I would like to see added are a Metro-based file manager and a Metro-based command prompt, but I fully expect that will not happen.
kijin 2 days ago 4 replies      
Anyone tried this on VirtualBox? How well does it work?
Permit 2 days ago 3 replies      
I'm currently running the Dev Preview, and I was curious if anyone knows if there are any differences worth switching for?
malkia 2 days ago 0 replies      
Stands as an example of how to shoot a bird with two guns.
Someone 2 days ago 0 replies      
I hope they will improve the installation experience for the real thing. The product key we are used to, but the rest is more horrible. Do they really _have_ to have my email address? Mobile phone number? Country info? Zip code? Birth date? Am I getting old, or is that CAPTCHA system incredibly hard? Why have on, in the first place? Or does that stuff only turn up when one makes semi-random selections elsewhere?
molecularbutter 2 days ago 2 replies      
Has anyone tried using this with Boot Camp on a Mac yet?
emehrkay 2 days ago 0 replies      
This thing doesnt seem to like mouseclicks via Parallels on OS X Lion
ThinkEzy 1 day ago 1 reply      
mustafak 2 days ago 0 replies      
I do not understand whether I am using tablet or a laptop, it's too complicated. And, I install K-Lite Codec Pack -> bom that lovely metro ui is screwed.
paulovsk 2 days ago 1 reply      
How much time I'll be able to use this version? Does it expire?
jeromeparadis 2 days ago 2 replies      
Has anyone tried running it under Parallels Desktop 7? Thanks.
kumarm 2 days ago 1 reply      
Seems like a decent release. I am unable to find search in Store. Anyone else know a way to search in store?
leeoniya 2 days ago 0 replies      
20GB needed for install, ouch.
Ask HN: Help a Hacker Out
254 points by lesterfremn  3 days ago   93 comments top 32
gcampbell 3 days ago 1 reply      
I just shot you an email, but this seems like a reasonable place to note that my employer (Twitter) is hiring like mad, and we definitely have some big data to work with:


reinhardt 3 days ago 6 replies      
I hate to be "that guy" but how on earth with such experience and credentials you resort to HN to find a job? Does not compute.
angersock 3 days ago 2 replies      
Come to Texas. We have cheap cost of living and baller-as-hell problems to work on, whether you want games or graphics or oil & gas.
bkruse 3 days ago 3 replies      
I own a company that currently indexes/sorts/sells different algo-based trending information to hedge funds. We also do big-data management for a few of them as well (think processing/storing 4 million messages/second). I'd be interested in some consulting and possibly a full-time position. We have excellent programmers/mathematicians now, but always like to bring on someone with some experience/new things to bring to the table. If you actually worked as a trader, we could get you on our prop floor with some stability track record. Respond here to gauge your interest, and I'll shoot you an email. Thanks!
campnic 3 days ago 0 replies      
I saw a presentation by the Founder of Dwolla which suggested they were working on some interesting monetary software. Located right in Des Moines : http://blog.dwolla.com/another-ramp-looking-for-more-team-me...
haasted 3 days ago 1 reply      
Good luck! I hope you'll make a follow-up post to tell us how it all went at some later point.
gcv 3 days ago 1 reply      
I'm curious about your experience in the HFT field. Have you ever considered starting your own trading shop?

If this isn't something you feel comfortable discussing in public, feel free to email me " address in my profile. I don't have a job to offer you right now, but would like to talk. When you get to SF, lunch or beer on me.

iopuy 3 days ago 1 reply      
I'm in SF, I own a company that writes scripts to moderate internet access at mobile RV parks. We use some Python and sharepoint. I think you would be a great match to work well in the office with my other 2 guys. Keep an eye out for an email.
jrockway 3 days ago 1 reply      
How about Google? Happy to start the process for you if you send me an email (my-hn-username AT google.com).
AHorihuela 3 days ago 0 replies      
UChicago math undergrad? I have complete confidence you won't be acting this role for long...

You should reach out to people from your class (and years around it) that ended up in SF. Check out RethinkDB for example - part of their team is UChicago. Lollihop is another one.

AdamTReineke 3 days ago 1 reply      
I'm a student at Iowa State and know of plenty of opportunities in the Des Moines area. Have you looked around Des Moines? Seems like the insurance companies (or maybe even a big startup like Dwolla) would have a use for someone with a Math masters.
HistoryInAction 2 days ago 0 replies      
Come to Startup Weekend Des Moines before you go! This weekend, March 2-4: http://dsm.startupweekend.org/

Also, you should try Dwolla, who are awesome, committed to building the Des Moines hacker ecosystem.

EDIT: Emailed to offer help.

lesterfremn 3 days ago 1 reply      
I forgot my email address (I'm the OP)

kozjob at yahoo.com

thebigredjay 3 days ago 1 reply      
I love the positive response this is getting! Sometimes I fall back into thinking HN is just another list of news, but a real sense of community pops up at a moment like this. Good luck finding work lesterfremn!
nodemaker 3 days ago 0 replies      
Good luck dude!.Being a fellow job seeker myself I can understand how hard it is to find any decent job without connections or an ivy league degree even when you have decent skills.

Also I see you have some writing skills too.You can be a great asset for companies who are trying to get some good content on their blogs and gain traction.

leeskye 3 days ago 1 reply      
My team is looking for mathematicians to help solve huge problems in the world of YouTube/online video. I just sent you a message.
beaumartinez 3 days ago 0 replies      
Wow, you sound really optimistic (and who shouldn't be? You'll slay SF!)

Good luck man :-)

evanmoran 3 days ago 0 replies      
I hope you get the girl.
fawce 3 days ago 0 replies      
Your quant skills (and humor) sound like a great match for http://quantopian.com. If you signup for the alpha using the kozjob email you shared below, and we'll let you through. If you like what you see, drop us a line, maybe there's more we can do together.
andrewcamel 3 days ago 0 replies      
Make sure you check out Addepar - they're developing a wealth management platform that seems like a good thing for you to work on given your experience. Only negative is that you'd have to learn Java, but it's a small price to pay to get involved with an up-and-comer.
gtani 3 days ago 1 reply      
Put your github, stackoverflow, blog, research papers, web apps etc in your profile, and possibly work the confidence index up, and let folks know your'e avail for remote work now

I know C++ and Python ok

(never took math classes at U of C, but spent lots of time in Eckhart library)

calbear81 3 days ago 2 replies      
Let me start by saying welcome to San Francisco!

We've got lots of opportunities for smart guys like you and we love C++ here at Room77.

We may not have the "big data" opportunities like Twitter has but we have a big dream, to build the best hotel shopping site in the world and we've got amazing VCs and people backing us and we have a lot of interesting problems to solve.

Your quant and derivatives background is especially interesting since we have a new project that's basically custom made for someone who wants to build a highly algo-driven engine.

Send me an email roger[at]room77.com if you're interested in finding out more or just shoot us your resume here and complete a few of our problems https://www.room77.com/jobs/se_resume_form.html?p=SWE&s=...

devs1010 3 days ago 0 replies      
I don't have close to what you have as a background but I've been able to get interest in my resume and just landed a position in sf, I havev the fortune of having family out there so maybe that helped, but you should be able to get a lot of interest I would think... Have you been applying like crazy and networking on linkedin, etc, posting resumes?

Id be happy to help in any way I can, my email is rick_developer at gmx dot com

benhamner 2 days ago 0 replies      
"I'm particularly interested in working on challenging problems dealing with algorithms and big data"

Give one of our competitions a shot - http://kaggle.com/. They're a good way to experiment with algorithms and machine learning on well-defined problems, and collaborate with people who have similar interests. Also, we love hiring people who win competitions.

ektimo 2 days ago 0 replies      
We're seeking a smart guy/Python/big data engineer. Please send your resume (or other evidence of ability) to jobs(at)proximiant(dot)com. Proximiant is developing a touch-and-go digital receipt service.
zackattack 3 days ago 1 reply      
Hit me up when you're in SF; we can reminisce about Eckhart Hall.
yitchelle 3 days ago 1 reply      
Post a link to this story on G+ to give you more exposure. Plenty of folks from the valley hang out there as well. Good luck!
dabent 3 days ago 1 reply      
Contact me, email is in profile.
Killswitch 3 days ago 0 replies      
Good luck man, fellow Iowan myself.
rtrocc 2 days ago 0 replies      
Hope this goes through for you, goodluck!
dmor 2 days ago 0 replies      
MIT_Hacker 3 days ago 0 replies      
Why not take the Steve Jobs route and walk into a company's office and refuse to leave until they offer you a job. Square is in downtown San Fran.
       cached 3 March 2012 05:11:01 GMT