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1
$1B of TSA Nude Body Scanners Made Worthless By Blog tsaoutofourpants.wordpress.com
1602 points by zotz  4 days ago   327 comments top 55
1
jballanc 4 days ago  replies      
While it's encouraging to see such a thorough debunking of the latest security theater technology, it's always been security theater... Allow me a few quick anecdotes:

My family is friends with a gentleman who was a green beret medic during Viet Nam, and later worked for the CIA. Once, when I was younger (and metal detectors were the norm), we had the opportunity to fly with him. He entered the metal detector before me, and was waved along. Once we were past the detectors, he turned to me and said, "Guess how many blades I have on me?" He then proceded to produce seven blades. They were a combination of ceramic blades (undetectable by the metal detector and sharper than most metal as well) and traditional blades held or placed on him so that they would not set off the detector. It was part of his CIA training to be able to do that.

I went to college at Stevens Institute of Technology. The Chemical Engineering department there has a lab known as the Highly Filled Materials Institute. When I was an undergraduate, I got a tour of the lab. They informed me that they had been working on an extruder that they were selling simultaneously to Picatinny Arsenal and Hersey. It turns out that C4 and Chocolate are both colloidal suspensions with nearly identical properties. A consequence of this is that in the X-ray machines used in airports, plastic explosives are indistinguishable from chocolate.

Shortly after 9/11 my father, a very frequent traveler, had forgotten his nail clippers in his carry-on luggage. Predictably, they were confiscated. When I greeted him at the airport, he remarked on how ridiculous that was, as he produced his fountain pen from his jacket pocket. "They let me on with this," he said. "I could have stabbed anyone in the eye with this and they'd be dead. What was I going to do with nail clippers?"

...I could go on, but why?

2
geuis 4 days ago 2 replies      
The supposition here is that since magnetic scanners are being removed and replaced with xray scanners, which do not have the feature of detecting metal with magnetic fields, the new machines are more ineffective than the old magnetic scanners. This therefore single-handedly invalidates the xray machines and they should be removed.

The entire video is produced in such a way as to say this is a major discovery and that it will single-handedly trigger Congress and the TSA to backpedal on what they've been for the last 10+ years.

I disagree.

To state, I do not like the TSA. I do not like Congress very much. I have very little respect for the people that are commonly elected to government
because of the long history of ineffectiveness, ignorance, and stupidity that continually seeps out when they talk and make "decisions". The best I can say about our government is that it mostly keeps the really bad people out of power. The kind that become Caesars and Napoleons and Hitlers and Pol Pots.

My issues with this video are that its too filled with a political tilt. There is a clear play on emotions and rhetoric with less emphasis on the purported vulnerability being shown.

Further, the actual nut of the video, i.e. the demonstration of the vulnerability, is so underwhelming that its impossible to take the video in its entirety seriously. First, the most important part where the speaker is actually going through security is sped up past the point of being intelligible. That's the part that might actually get some interest.

If the speaker just showed that clip in its entirety, demonstrating how to attach the pocket and further how easy it is for him to get through the scanners, and providing pure technical notes as to the background color and such, it would be easier to take seriously.

As it stands, any reasonably competent person's first thought should be "So we just put a magnetic scanner before or after the x-ray scanner. Ok, problem solved." Other thoughts might be, ok so make people stand sideways, change the background color, etc. Obvious tweaks to the system to patch over this problem.

The video doesn't address this simple point and goes on to argue that no metal detectors invalidates the entire concept of xray scanners. Its a very bad premise to base such an argument on.

The argument against xray scanners needs to be based around the already-proven points:

    *Violates people's privacy
*Security theater (which the Pocket Problem falls into)
*Possible negative health consequences for passengers and workers
*Over-reaching government bureaucracy
*Etc.

So in summary, I don't like this video because it shows nothing really new, makes a large claim on very little foundation, focuses attention on the wrong things, and is counter-productive to the task of convincing enough "policy makers" to start doing the right thing.

3
rogerbinns 4 days ago  replies      
Just more security theatre and corrupt politicians (guess who runs the companies the scanners are bought from).

The reality is that they can't keep weapons and drugs out of prisons where there are no freedoms, and there is plenty of time to be as invasive as you want to visitors and residents.

Additionally the security system has failed if the point you pick up the bad guys is by some low paid grunt at the airport staring at a screen. The point of airport security should be to catch occasional idiots and that is about it - something any metal detector can do.

The reality is that anyone determined can get through any security system and wreak terror. The response is to not be terrorised. It is to live well and not in fear. It is to have made their actions completely pointless.

4
ck2 4 days ago  replies      
You have to be crazy brave or crazy ignorant to do this kind of analysis and share it in the USA.

At a minimum his name will now show up on the no-fly list for the rest of his life. If he realized this, I am in awe.

5
tsaoutourpants 4 days ago 5 replies      
Hi Guys, Jon here, the creator of the TSA video you're discussing. Thanks for picking this story up. As a tech guy myself, I'll be happy to answer any questions you have.

--Jon

6
TamDenholm 4 days ago 6 replies      
Rather than get rid of the body scanners, i think they'll simply just require you to stand sideways as well, or add a scanner on the side of the machine.
7
api 3 days ago 0 replies      
One word: lobbyists.

Nearly everything of this type is a giveaway to some private vendor with lobbyists in Washington. Whether it works or not is secondary to the primary purpose: handing money over.

8
ars 4 days ago 0 replies      
Summary: The background around the person is black in the scanner.

Place the object slightly distant from the person so it's also in the background (i.e. not silhouetted by the person), and the object and the background will look the same to the scanner.

9
mark_l_watson 4 days ago 1 reply      
A pretty good video, but it is not quite convincing enough for me to email to family and friends. Still, kudos to the guy who did it.

BTW, the first time I went through the backscatter scanner, I had a killer sinus headache within about 30 seconds. I went from feeling great to shitty almost instantly. Anyone else experience this? I have refused (opted out of) the scanner ever since. My many opt-out experiences have all been OK: a quick personal search and I am on my way. That is what I recommend to my friends and family to do.

BTW, part 2: the TSA corporation employees at the security checkpoints are not the problem, so be polite to them. The problem is the bribery and corruption that lead to the privatization of airport security.

10
GigabyteCoin 3 days ago 0 replies      
I once got "sharp weapons" (a manicure kit) through London's Heathrow airport.

I was connecting from Shanghai and had stupidly left a souvenir manicure kit in my bag... they found it, but after some pleading allowed me to keep it.

As per usual, I picked up a bottle of liquor at the duty free in Shanghai before I left...

Not sure if I was meant to inform them I was connecting, or they simply forgot to do their jobs... but apparently I was meant to have my liquor in a sealed "official duty free" bag when I landed at heathrow.

Long story short, I got the full attention of about 10 security officers when checking through security in Heathrow. They were entirely concerned with the liquor I had purchased in shanghai, and were so vocal about the whole thing that I personally witnessed the xray machine man turn around and see what the problem was.

Everybody was trying to be the next big hero, when the only problem was I didn't have the right security bag, and who knows what else I might have had in my carry on? (Hint: I had "weapons", I mean nailclippers).

11
russell_h 4 days ago 2 replies      
Does the scanner not pick the object up at all (I don't see why this would be true), or is this simply a matter of needing to change the background color?
12
fab13n 3 days ago 0 replies      
Most people with critical thinking are hardly surprised by this; this needs to be shown to average Joes, not hackers.

Hence I suggest to vote this up on YouTube, rather than / in addition to HN.

13
yason 3 days ago 0 replies      
It has never been about real security. It's about the huge load of money that is funnelled through TSA who are set to spent it all, regardless of what they receive, on these magic wand devices or just angry personnel. Another reason is that security checks allow for arbitrary control of passengers. It's a powerful mechanism, just like a country with enough laws to make everyone guilty but where those laws are only enforced when "necessary", on a select few people. It's like legalized totalitarianism: all backed up by law and rules but the outcome is the same.
14
nivertech 4 days ago 2 replies      
TSA should use MRI scanners - no radiation exposure and no metal objects are allowed.

As an added bonus they can use fMRI mode and ask following questions:

    1. Are you a member of a terrorist organization?
2. Where is the Weapons of Mass Destruction?

15
jQueryIsAwesome 3 days ago 1 reply      
To everyone saying that now they will make you turn sideways i have to tell you that there are many blind spots even with those two angles, think about "corners" of yourself.

An example: http://imgur.com/Q1DTp The rolled paper represents some sort of tube)

The point is that many angles are required (or another kind of "solution")

16
togasystems 4 days ago 1 reply      
I wonder if the color of the background is a simple variable or is based off physics rules? Does anybody know if they can change the color to something different?
17
tlrobinson 4 days ago 0 replies      
So now they'll just require two scans, one turned 90 degrees.

How hard would it be to construct a prosthetic fat suit that's invisible to scanners? I bet not very.

18
alan_cx 3 days ago 0 replies      
I have a great solution to this. Its cheap and easy to set up. Just tell people that planes are a bit dangerous and might well be stacked with terrorists and bombs. Fly at own risk. Be grateful if you land. No? Oh well.

In all seriousness though, I do wonder given the above, how much passenger numbers would drop. Flying is known to be very safe, and there was a statistic that showed more people died after 9/11 than in 9/11 due to people taking to the roads through fear of flying. Plus, there are not that many planes blown out of the sky by terrorists. If they did nothing, planes would still be statistically safe. Its kinda like those stats that show people drive in a more reckless manner because they now have to wear seat belts and have air bags etc. Take that lot away and people tend to drive safer.

No, Im not suggesting and of this, just food for thought.

19
petenixey 3 days ago 0 replies      
I for one would just like to take a moment to welcome our new guests, the intelligence observers!

May you be inspired by the quality of debate and not may you not add any of the good HN folks to any lists.

20
borski 4 days ago 0 replies      
Simple, yet brilliant; equivalent to a side channel attack on most systems. I can't believe nobody had noticed that before, including myself.
21
chrischen 3 days ago 1 reply      
His statement about no one boarding a plane in the US with explosives seems to be false: http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/story/2012-02-16/underwe....

Although he seems to be right that the detectors are useless since the guy who was pretty incompetent (set his underwear on fire) and still managed to get it on board a plane.

22
lojack 4 days ago 2 replies      
Every time I've gone through the new scanners, I've had to go through a metal detectors first, which would pick up this object. Anyone know if there are actually airports that use only the new scanners without a metal detector?
23
Sniffnoy 4 days ago 0 replies      
Not made worthless -- revealed as worthless.
24
hippich 3 days ago 0 replies      
I can tell you what will happen next - instead of shutting down the whole nude-scanner program, more money will be fed into developing enhanced version of nude-scanner with built-in metal detector. All old scanner will be scraped, more billions will be pushed toward TSA to buy more nude-scanner upgrades.
25
bstpierre 3 days ago 0 replies      
It's interesting how so much is focused on airport security. Let's assume that we figured out how to make airline terminals 100% terrorist-safe and completely secure, no exceptions. (Yeah, it's a fantasy, but stay with me...)

At that point the terrorists will give up on the airports and pick something different. Remember that the first attack on the WTC, and the (domestic!) attack on OK City were TRUCK bombs. What's to stop someone from hijacking a tanker truck and detonating it? Trucker school must be easier than pilot school, right?

And if the terrorists are still hot and heavy for airplanes, they could bring down an airplane without actually going through airport security. At most airports I know of, the planes are vulnerable to ground-based attack on takeoff and landing. Not the same as crashing one into a building, but it seems unlikely that that attack is repeatable.

26
yaix 3 days ago 0 replies      
Just hope that somewone will be helt accountable for it. Anyway, the link to the relevant xkcd:

http://xkcd.com/651/

27
afterburner 4 days ago 2 replies      
So they should keep using the metal detectors then. I wonder if they'll make people go through both.
28
georgieporgie 3 days ago 1 reply      
While I think the TSA is ridiculous, can't this be solved by having the people stand at 45 degrees to the left or right, chosen at random?
29
sushantsharma 4 days ago 2 replies      
I find it a little strange that, at present, more than 400 people have upvoted the link, but the linked youtube video has less than 400 views.

Edit: I am not trolling. It was just an observation that I found interesting even though it may not directly add much to the conversation.

30
bicknergseng 4 days ago 0 replies      
The introduction to <i>Thinking, Fast and Slow</i> by Daniel Khaneman immediately made me think of security theater. He starts by discussing how humans are generally rational, but intense emotions of fear, anger, etc. often cause us to act completely irrationally. While I imagine the book goes on to describe how the individual can stop emotion from perverting what should be a rational judgement, I wonder what defense we have as a society against making bad, emotional decisions on things that shouldn't involve emotions. I understand reactionary emotional decisions and opinions tending to snowball behind them, but why does it take so long, if at all, for rationality to take over?
31
charlieok 3 days ago 0 replies      
...so what if they get images from four sides instead of two. Doesn't that defeat the "side" method demonstrated in the video?
32
queensnake 4 days ago 1 reply      
It's even easier. I was carrying a metal external hard drive, put it through the belt with no problem. You could easily take out the HD and put some explosives in there instead.

edit Also, if combining fluids really is a threat, they're allowing liquid medicine bottles, now. It really /is/ theater.

33
astrofinch 3 days ago 0 replies      
It wouldn't be hard to get a profile view of airline passengers by having them spin or installing additional scanners. Not that I disagree with this guy.
34
thewisedude 4 days ago 0 replies      
My guess is in the future...you will have to walk through both metal detectors and body scanners! I am not sure, if they will dump the body scanners based on this video!
35
samspot 3 days ago 0 replies      
Seems like they should just combine Body Scanners + Metal Detectors + Pat Downs. A weakness in one tech doesn't make the whole stack worthless.

Please don't interpret this comment as approval of the body scanners or the pat downs. I'm just trying to express that the body scanners have not been "made worthless".

36
aaronharnly 3 days ago 0 replies      
Interesting video.

However, I would like to have seen a controlled experiment " i.e., with the same metallic case placed in a breast pocket. Trials with only that variable changed, and yielding a different result (presumably being pulled for patdown?) would more conclusively demonstrate the hypothesis that with the side-pocket technique "anyone can beat them with virtually no effort."

37
nimrodreader 1 day ago 0 replies      
so, if i face the scanner frontally, and the object is on my side, the object can be lost in my contour.
then the TSA guy says, "rotate to right". now that object hidden on my side might as well have been taped to my forehead - what was lost in contour is now nicely in silhouette.
or, i go through metal detector first, then get scanned.

no big deal?

38
tuxguy 3 days ago 0 replies      
From Bruce Schneier's blog scheier.com

FBI Special Agent and Counterterrorism Expert Criticizes the TSA
http://gmancasefile.blogspot.in/2012/01/tsa-fail.html

(http://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2012/02/fbi_special_ag...)

39
alinspired 2 days ago 0 replies      
it's amazing how all governments, and monopolies are alike, whether it's US or not

they will get away with it, until smacked really hard - which is almost impossible to do

40
nizm 4 days ago 1 reply      
In case some of you haven't seen this video.

Live on Germany TV man walks through body scanner and builds explosive with everything that passed on the scanner.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=idICUSiGcqo

41
eta_carinae 3 days ago 0 replies      
All he did to prove his point was smuggle a small empty metallic case in his pocket and he expects all the airports to take down their scanners as a result... Makes total sense.
42
downx3 3 days ago 0 replies      
Sadly I don't think the scans are their to protect lives, but rather to protect the machinery (and the industry.) Planes are expensive. It's trivial to kill people elsewhere. I just loathe the rhetoric.
43
dirkdk 4 days ago 0 replies      
good thing you are hosting your blog on wordpress.com. Hope they keep it available!
44
njtotten 3 days ago 0 replies      
I am a frequent flier and hate this stuff as much as the next guy, but doesn't this just argue (from the TSA point of view) that the TSA should be using BOTH the metal detector and the body scanners?
45
poppysan 3 days ago 0 replies      
$1B saved by having them take a side profile shot...
46
mikeklaas 4 days ago 0 replies      
Thanks. Now they'll just make us do both.
47
impunity 3 days ago 0 replies      
I always thought that the purpose of the scanners was to catch currency entering and leaving the country, not to catch terrorists.
48
cpursley 3 days ago 0 replies      
What really blows my mind is that Bin Laden pulled 911 off with about $400,000 - about the price of about two porno scanners.
49
Vixter 4 days ago 0 replies      
If the TSA has to investigate abnormalities with a pat down, you might as well opt for the groping to begin with.
50
mikejestes 3 days ago 0 replies      
What if the scanners actually take a 360 degree xray?
51
joshwprinceton 3 days ago 0 replies      
most ptz ever?
52
joezhou 3 days ago 0 replies      
epic fail indeed...
53
gringomorcego 3 days ago 0 replies      
Nobody's gonna mention Snow Crash? Really? Come on guys...
54
robgibbons 4 days ago 0 replies      
All they have to do is make you turn sideways. This video is a well intended but weak attempt
55
antonej 4 days ago 5 replies      
What a bizarre obsession. The only reason this is at the top of HN is because the word "nude" is (misleadingly) in there.

Obviously airline security in the US is deeply flawed because look at how many planes are being hijacked or blown out of the sky by terrorists! I mean there have been -- wait, let me count -- ZERO on American soil since September 11, 2001. With about 28,000 commercial flights per day in the US alone, approximately 3,800 days after 9/11, that multiplies out to 106 million fights without a successful terrorist attack. Not a bad batting average if you ask me.

With apologies to Churchill, I guess this airline security regime is the worst system there is -- except for all the other systems.

3
TSA Pressures Mainstream Media Not To Cover Story tsaoutofourpants.wordpress.com
721 points by ddelphin  2 days ago   149 comments top 28
1
tylermenezes 2 days ago  replies      
The term "security theater" has been tossed around a lot, but I think it's pretty clearly coming to that. Asking the mainstream media not to cover something like this is completely indefensible from a security standpoint - what, terrorists only learn about security flaws from TV?. It's pretty patently only about keeping their budget.

Also, just going to throw this out there, but it is fairly possible that the email is totally fake.

2
danso 2 days ago 4 replies      
Just want to point this out: "strongly caution" is what the TSA flak told the reporter (according to the reporter). That doesn't necessarily mean "don't report this or we'll send you to Gitmo". It most likely was expressed in the context of "you're going to look stupid/spread misinformation if you do."

I'm not saying the TSA flak won't be vindictive if a reporter covers the story. I'm just saying, there's not an immediate reason to jump to this conclusion. You don't get to be TSA flak by writing thinly-veiled threats that are easily retrieved through public records requests.

3
zotz 2 days ago 1 reply      
"Totalitarian democracy is a term made famous by Israeli historian J. L. Talmon to refer to a system of government in which lawfully elected representatives maintain the integrity of a nation state whose citizens, while granted the right to vote, have little or no participation in the decision-making process of the government."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Totalitarian_democracy

4
mrb 2 days ago 3 replies      
The government supporting the TSA, despite its People pushing against it, is a prime example of failure of democracy in the United States. The People elected a government who does not what they want!

Some countries hold referendums to vote on controversial topics. It would be a great solution to hold one in the U.S. at the federal level asking a very simple question: "Should the TSA be shut down? Yes/No". Direct democracy at its best. Unfortunately the U.S. constitution does not provide for referendums at the federal level... http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Referendum#United_States

5
tomkin 2 days ago 0 replies      
So, the US collectively pays for the TSA. The TSA takes your money, buys into the accountability of body scanners - somehow miss (then deny) the vulnerability " one a terrorist could successfully overcome - and they're asking, what? That no one know about it? Are you serious? Like the TSA is a newb database admin that accidentally dropped the users table or something? The TSA is literally fucking with your lives and you pay for it and seriously being told to shut up about it in no uncertain terms. Yikes.

What gets me is that the person who pointed out this flaw actually demonstrated it. I shutter to think what would have happened to this information had he only provided anecdotal hypothesis.

6
milesf 2 days ago 0 replies      
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grandalf 2 days ago 1 reply      
The TSA probably views its own mission as largely a propaganda mission. It's just creepy when we realize that it is trying to silence public debate.

The biggest oddity to me is that it's been over 10 years and this debate hasn't actually happened in the mainstream media.

I think one aspect of most orgs that have entrenched power is that they are always very deferent toward government. NPR is a great example... there is lots of coverage of various wall street schemes, mention of greed as a problem in the private sector, etc., but the underlying message in most of the stories is that government is beyond reproach.

8
georgemcbay 2 days ago 1 reply      
FTA: "For obvious security reasons, we can't discuss our technology's detection capability in detail"

The only situation that would make this "obvious" is if the technology is inadequate. Basically by saying that, they're admitting to a large amount of security through obscurity.

Imagine a bank's website saying "For obvious security reasons, we can't discuss how our passwords are store in detail". Wait, why not? If the technology is adequate to the task you should be able to explain exactly how it works without compromising anything!

9
tptacek 2 days ago 2 replies      
They're allowed to say that. The media is allowed (encouraged; morally obliged, perhaps) to ignore them. Whether he's right or wrong (and I'm sure he's right), the bureaucracy would prefer to continue working towards their quarterly MBOs than to address another controversy. This is a non-story.
10
cs702 2 days ago 1 reply      
So the TSA is "securing" airports by trying to keep vulnerabilities secret. Their thinking seems to be, "if no one knows where the open door is, no one will get in." Surely that will work out well. Not!

Bruce Schneier must be getting a kick out of this.

11
epaga 2 days ago 3 replies      
Though both the email and the blog response from TSA are incredibly unprofessional, the email is NOT intimidation or a "veiled threat", and exaggerating by claiming it is is not going to help a sane discussion about this issue. What do you think the TSA is "threatening" to do? They have no power over the media.

All the TSA are saying is "exercise caution with reporting on bloggers that make random statements because you can end up looking stupid". They're wrong in this case, of course, and most likely know they're wrong, but that doesn't make their statement be intimidation (nor should it be read as such). Let's stay reasoned and calm, people.

12
bpd1069 2 days ago 4 replies      
Overlay a thin layer of material over the metal plate (the dark/black region in the images) that has a regular repeating pattern (think checkerboard) that shows objects suspended beyond the body's silhouette.

Problem solved.

13
reinhardt 2 days ago 0 replies      
Eagerly waiting for the Streisand effect
14
reidmain 2 days ago 1 reply      
Security through obscurity.

Doesn't work on the Internet. Doesn't work in real-life.

15
reader5000 2 days ago 0 replies      
I think the problem is just that the TSA is run by unprofessional people who clearly have no idea what they're doing.
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jrockway 2 days ago 3 replies      
They're not really threatening anything, they're just asking "please don't cover this story". That's their right and it's not censorship unless the journalist faces consequences for covering the story (no future interviews, harassment by the legal system, etc.) It doesn't seem like any consequences are mentioned or implied, so this doesn't bother me. Of course the TSA doesn't want negative press. Would you?
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chao- 2 days ago 0 replies      
What really has my interest is not the TSA's request/threat. That part is unsurprising. Instead, my mind ran through a few ideas about what a news story on this topic would entail. From the last time I bothered to watch CNN, I recall they've acquired a penchant for saying "And a viral video of [topic] is hot on the Twitters today!", showing the video, getting someone in-house to do surface analysis, reading off some Facebook posts, and cutting to commercial. Ideally, a reporter does their own investigation on the topic, either by contacting the TSA and arranging to film while testing the scenario depicted here, or by doing a more undercover verification ala the video itself.

I don't wish to be specifically judgmental of CNN, and I don't wish to over-analyze my mock-scenario. Instead I'm using the thought experiment of a news report on this topic to express frustrations with journalistic practices I have already seen elsewhere. It seems to me there isn't as much motivation on behalf of larger news organizations to put together a verified report, when you can replay something from YouTube and people will believe it much the same.

But maybe there are positive aspects? Crowdsourcing the genesis of news topics allows for a better breadth of topics, clearly. And I recognize there is a need for it in situations such as the Syrian unrest, Tibet, or any place that foreign journalists can't easily access. I get the feeling though, when I go to 'old' media, that I expect old media standards and practices. When I go to 'old' media and get a replay of internet videos followed by an equally-long segment of internet comments, I wonder why I'm not just browsing the internet for myself.

18
jlujan 1 day ago 0 replies      
Apperently Sari Koshetz doesn't deny anything

http://www.popehat.com/2012/03/08/in-which-i-strongly-cautio...

19
skanga 2 days ago 2 replies      
This is insanity. I try to avoid flying as much as possible.

However, the whole controversy also seems to lack common sense. An easy "solution" to this whole problem is to ask people to go into the machine and do a 360 degree rotation before emerging on the other side. I'll call this the "Airport Dance" :-)

What? It's not like we aren't made to dance already!

20
rickdale 2 days ago 0 replies      
I remember before they were rolling out the scanners seeing a story run by the mainstream media about how congress had invested large amounts of money in the scanners before they realized how useless they were and now they were going to push really push hard for them to become the norm. I guess they succeeded. It sucks how in America a logical argument bumps heads with a touchy subject.
21
alanh 2 days ago 0 replies      
Journalism has been called the fourth pillar of the government.

Its job is not to prop up the establishment, but rather to keep it responsible.

22
DamnYuppie 2 days ago 2 replies      
I hope the email is fake. Yet I would not be surprised if it wasn't. Most government employees I have met are not really that intelligent. Add that to a bit of power and little to no accountability and you have an instant recipe for disaster.
23
todd3834 2 days ago 1 reply      
For someone who clearly values security, I am surprised to see him running Internet Explorer :-/
24
ktizo 1 day ago 0 replies      
The TSA might as well just move into Barbara Streisand's beachfront property if they are using these kind of tactics.
25
twiceaday 2 days ago 0 replies      
Security by obscurity.
26
lightyrs 2 days ago 0 replies      
I am outraged.
27
ramses 2 days ago 2 replies      
Harassment and directly attacking Free Speech? ... but somehow I suspect that this was an employee independently acting stupid, and not an institutional policy.
28
runn1ng 2 days ago 2 replies      
To play devil's advocate - he clearly has an agenda and his video is more long and boring political ramblings than something really substantial.
4
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696 points by fortawesome  4 days ago   91 comments top 29
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hornbaker 3 days ago 4 replies      
Brilliant. I absolutely love this, and will absolutely use Font Awesome in my next project.

While the name Font Awesome is catchy, it doesn't say much about the product, and won't carry seo juice or meaning for your main selling point: better icons. A name like "fonticons" (pronounced like "emoticons") might be stronger, and you could own that term which may go generic (like "kleenex") if the technique is widely adopted.

In fact, you could literally own it. After making sure a google search was relatively clean, and a USPTO.gov trademark search was clear, I just registered the domain fonticons.com, and would be happy to give it to you if you want it as a token of appreciation for your project.

2
ccollins 4 days ago 1 reply      
First, this is great. The Bootstrap Sprites definitely need some love and this is a solid forward step.

I am close to dropping in Font Awesome, but the small font sizes really need work. Here is a comparison screenshot of the standard bootstrap sprites vs font awesome sprites in Chrome on Mac: https://s3.amazonaws.com/gusta/sprites-less-vs-font-awesome-...

Again, awesome work. Font Awesome is on my short list to use once it's cleaned up a bit.

3
headbiznatch 4 days ago 1 reply      
I love font icons and these are great. Thanks for sharing.

Two notes:

1) When I first started using font icons, I encountered an issue that might be worth sharing - you need to make sure your web server properly handles the more esoteric file types that are included in the @font-face declaration.

2) Paperclip icon!!!! I'm sad when these icon sets are missing this very useful metaphor for "attachment": not "my dog just died" sad, more like "I wish I could fly" sad. I am just throwing that out there.

4
ot 3 days ago 1 reply      
The icons look great! The font rendering engine is still the cheapest and most convenient way for having small scalable graphics.

Note that this trick is as old as Windows 3.1, as Raymond Chen points out in his blog:

http://blogs.msdn.com/b/oldnewthing/archive/2012/01/16/10256...

(The blog name "Old New Thing" is spot-on as always :) )

5
jazzdev 3 days ago 3 replies      
Yes, very awesome. Makes implementation much easier. But having just removed a font from our web app to improve performance (download time and rendering time) I can't help but wonder if sprites aren't lighter weight than using a whole font when you only need a few icons.
6
cobychapple 4 days ago 1 reply      
You have licensed this under the CC-BY 3.0 license (which requires attribution 'in the manner specified by the author'), but I can't see anywhere that you've specified how it needs to be attributed if used.

Is this something you can elaborate on?

7
tnorthcutt 3 days ago 0 replies      
I don't know if it would make sense for your plans, but have you considered looking into getting fontawesome added to Google's Webfonts collection? That could help drive mass adoption. Here's their submit form: https://services.google.com/fb/forms/submitafont/
8
rplnt 3 days ago 1 reply      
I have web fonts disabled (because of abuse by many developers) and this looks like rubbish. Perhaps there is way to fall back to image icons if font is not available?
9
fortawesome 4 days ago 0 replies      
It's been moved to a proper location:
http://fortawesome.github.com/Font-Awesome/
10
remi 4 days ago 1 reply      
It says “Wide @font-face support means Font Awesome even works in IE4” but not as the way it is implemented on the demo page.

That technique is not compatible with browsers that do not support the :before pseudo-class (eg. IE7). The icons could be used though, but not that way.

11
ivobos 3 days ago 1 reply      
Looks good. Having a set of geo-location icons would make it even better. In particular:

1) Request geo-location - this icon can be used on buttons that request the device/browser to activate geo-location.

2) Location on map - this icon can be used on buttons that display locations on map.

12
jogloran 4 days ago 0 replies      
I wondered how these would look as iOS tab bar icons " I added a script to generate them using ImageMagick: https://github.com/jogloran/Font-Awesome
13
chrisacky 4 days ago 1 reply      
What application did you use to make these fonts in the first instance?
I would quite like to have a go at making my own font icons. Could be quite useful in replacement of spritesheets.
14
wiradikusuma 3 days ago 1 reply      
Just wondering, is it possible to combine this with the font we use in the website so we don't need to download two separate fonts? Maybe some command line tool?
15
thekungfuman 4 days ago 1 reply      
Does using the <i> tag have any negative effect on the semantic markup of a page? I see that it doesn't impact screen-readers but what about if someone is trying to parse your HTML?
16
logical42 3 days ago 0 replies      
This is terrific! I've ported your fonts into my variant of the many twitter bootstrap rails gems out there (https://github.com/logical42/Bootstrapped-Rails). Thanks a bunch for this great work! This is going to make my life, and many others, much easier! :
17
lostsock 4 days ago 1 reply      
Looks great,

I've just tried to implement them into a Bootstrap site (without LESS) and I seem to get a double up of icons.

It looks like both the default bootstrap icons and the Font Awesome icons are being shown. The instructions don't mention the need to download a custom version of Bootstrap, am I doing something wrong?

18
vailripper 4 days ago 0 replies      
This looks excellent, nice work.
19
ars 4 days ago 0 replies      
So, are fonts the way to get scalable graphics on websites?
20
clarkmoody 4 days ago 1 reply      
This is a great idea!

Wanting to use this font offline, I was trying to install the .ttf to my Windows fonts, but I was unable to do so. Windows claims that it is not a valid font file.

Any suggestions on why this is the case?

21
praxeologist 4 days ago 1 reply      
Request: an empty/reverse/outline icon-tint or droplet

Nice stuff, going to try to use it sometime!

22
patman81 4 days ago 0 replies      
Now if we just had a tablet computer with a super high resolution display, this would be perfect for it...
23
cwsaylor 4 days ago 1 reply      
This is fantastic. I'm going to try to use this in a Phonegap iPhone app right now.
24
Void_ 4 days ago 1 reply      
The website seems to be down.
25
TomatoTomato 4 days ago 1 reply      
Font Awesome or Fort Awesome... I'm confused.
26
pagehub 4 days ago 0 replies      
Wow, this is awesome... thanks for sharing!
27
RollAHardSix 4 days ago 0 replies      
Maybe it's been a long day, but this actually hurt my eyes. Too Perfect!! O_O

Did anyone else have eyesore issues when they first saw it?

28
zshapiro 3 days ago 0 replies      
This is seriously great. Thanks!
29
jasimq 4 days ago 0 replies      
Looks really sharp.
6
Eight years today paulbuchheit.blogspot.com
553 points by paul  1 day ago   57 comments top 30
1
paul 1 day ago 12 replies      
I know this isn't obviously startup related, but it is. Please read.
2
SkyMarshal 1 day ago 0 replies      
> Sometimes, when I write about startups or other interests of mine, I worry that perhaps I'm communicating the wrong priorities. Investing money, creating new products, and all the other things we do are wonderful games and can be a lot of fun, but it's important to remember that it's all just a game.

It's also a means to an essential end - real wealth creation - that in turn enables us to fund advanced medical research and other long-term bluesky projects that improve the human condition.

There are only a few ways of creating real wealth. You can harvest raw materials from the ground, be they animal, vegetable, or mineral, and apply labor + capital + innovation + time to turn them into products worth more than total cost of their inputs.

That delta in input->output value we call profit, or net revenue, but what it really represents is wealth that was created out of thin air that didn't previously exist. This is perhaps the greatest magic trick humanity has ever invented, and makes all else possible.

You can also provide specialized products or services that reduce the cost of labor, capital, innovation, or time in that equation, which also creates wealth. Much of the software-based startup scene is about both reducing the time and cost of innovation and labor and increasing the value of the computer hardware produced by the first method.

So just keep in mind that those of us fortunate enough to be working in this field are not just competing in a game, we're creating real wealth that can then be used to improve the entire human condition, be it medical, social, governmental, etc. Being good to ourselves and each other is not orthogonal or mutually exclusive to our day jobs, but an ultimate outcome of them.

Paul, whether you realized it or not, you were and are working to save your brother's life, and that of everyone else struck by the whim of nature. It just didn't happen quickly enough, but it's a hard task. One day we'll get there.

3
diogenescynic 1 day ago 0 replies      
This was incredibly sad, but one of the most deeply relatable stories I've read for anyone who has lost a loved one or struggled with grieving. Thank you for submitting, it brought back a lot of memories (good and bad). This part is the must read: I keep looking for meaning, but all I've found so far is that in order to be at peace with the present, we must be at peace with the past, because the present is a product of the past. Accept.
4
alaskamiller 1 day ago 0 replies      
You first learn to accept, accept, accept, then you learn to cope, cope, cope.

You must also learn when to fight, when to submit, and most importantly the balance in between.

For humanity didn't progress by simply accepting, simply coping, nor can it survive further by always fighting.

Take care.

5
cellularmitosis 1 day ago 1 reply      
those whom enjoyed the zen sentiment of this post ("accept, accept, accept") will also enjoy's Paul's "I am nothing". http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=2908015
6
mbreese 20 hours ago 0 replies      
I drove by the same tracks earlier today and I had a very similar initial reaction... I was driving my kids to daycare and couldn't figure out why Menlo Park traffic was so busy that time of day. Drivers in front of me were acting odd and I was starting to get a bit angry. I was in a hurry and people were driving like idiots.

Then I drove by the accident. And my mood shifted immediately. I didn't need to see anything more than the police car blocking the tracks. I knew that it was a tragic situation and saving a couple of minutes on the way to drop my kids off were trivial in comparison.

It's a sad what it takes to snap us back to reality.

7
darksaga 3 hours ago 0 replies      
Thanks for a great post Paul.

I had a similar experience when I was in college. I was close to finishing school, partied a lot and generally went through life without a care. One night, we were at a bar, and the trains ran right through town and right behind the bar we were at. I was waiting for a friend. When he finally got there after work, he walked up to our table like a zombie, he was completely pale, like a ghost. We asked what was wrong, and he said he just saw a guy kill himself by walking on the train tracks as the train was coming. He was just getting out of his car and saw the whole thing but was powerless to stop it. He said he didn't feel like drinking tonight and turned to walk out of the bar. My group of friends all looked at each other and we all had the same reaction. Time to go. The rest of the night we talked about the fragility of life, and to make sure you tell your family you love them everyday and to enjoy the time you've been given.

Needless to say, that night was a wakeup call. Ever since then, I try and keep a good perspective on what's really important. It's always nice to get a gentle reminder though, so thank you.

8
szany 21 hours ago 0 replies      
A purpose of human life, no matter who is controlling it, is to love whoever is around to be loved.

- Kurt Vonnegut

9
raju 7 hours ago 0 replies      
"What happened, happened. It's difficult to understand the big picture when our lives are mere brush strokes on the canvas of reality. Trusting that it all fits together to form something beautiful is the purest form of faith. Anything else is a dangerous distraction. No contracts with God, no expectations of reward, just trust."

It has been a principle of mine for the longest time - "Dust to dust, ashes to ashes. There is no reason to vie for a better unknown. Act for here, act for NOW. I can, maybe hope to leave behind a memory for my loved ones to cherish, and if I am fortunate, maybe a legacy for others to look up to."

Thank you for the sentiment, and for sharing. I have not lost anyone close but your words struck a chord with me.

RIP Stephen.

10
joedev 1 day ago 0 replies      
Well done. Thank you for sharing this intimate part of you. Please, please everyone: take heed: "Those who push only for the sake of some future reward, or to avoid failure, very often burn out, sometimes tragically. Please don't do that."

To those not taking heed: Being and Internet Celebrity today will provide you no comfort in that not-to-distant tomorrow when your spouse, children, family, and friends have realized that they are not the most important ingredients of your life.

11
tmsh 1 day ago 0 replies      
I know Paul has caveated advice before in a Startup School talk ('advice = over-generalizations + limited life experience...', I think..). But this seems like such useful advice at all timelines (in work and personal life):

I keep looking for meaning, but all I've found so far is that in order to be at peace with the present, we must be at peace with the past, because the present is a product of the past.

One of those things that's so obvious that it's easy to overlook its importance.

12
dos1 1 day ago 0 replies      
I love posts like this. It's always great to get a healthy dose of perspective. I save articles like this to reread for when I'm getting terribly stressed at work. I think it's tremendously important to recenter priorities every so often. This was well written and I'm glad I read it.
13
devs1010 1 day ago 0 replies      
I lost my brother a year ago tomorrow, he's also named steve so I found this a bit eerie.. In his case it was self inflicted after a long struggle with bipolar disorder. Thanks for sharing, its good sometimes to hear from others who have gone through an abrupt loss of a loved one too young. Its given me a new perspective on things, at least I hope. It can be hard to find meaning in a career after something like this but I feel one day I will hopefully do something to impact this world in a positive way
14
2pasc 1 day ago 0 replies      
I can relate so much, unfortunately. Reading this post, and all the details that you provide about that day - I can remember so well the day that I learned my sister had an accident... and the night that she passed.

I found out it took a lot more effort to get back to normal life afterwards and I feel encouraged that you have been able to.

The worst part is the need for meaning - in what happened and in what you want to happen for your life - and the high burden it can impose on someone.
Two years in, I feel that acceptance is indeed the only way to be able to fly again.

Thank you for this post paul... and good luck handling that day and remember your beloved brother.

15
rokhayakebe 1 day ago 1 reply      
Make it a point to talk to your parents, and siblings every other day. The absolute minimum should be once a week. Even just a quick "I am busy, but I just wanted to see how you guys doing". Just do it.
16
mrkmcknz 1 day ago 0 replies      
Thank you for sharing this Paul.

It puts 'our world' into perspective and makes you think hard about what really matters to you deep down.

When you're young out of college you don't often think about family and your personal future.

I think we should all do that a bit more.

17
gsharm 7 hours ago 1 reply      
This reminds me of Paul Graham's recent list:

http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=3686840

Except there is no mention of cancer. Is a solution really so much out of reach?

I feel like there's an identity issue here to blame, something along the lines of "we're programmers, we're not about making medical breakthroughs".

Yet I can't shake off the notion that everything, absolutely everything, is interlinked, and we're in a better position, perhaps the only position, to understand and exploit this concept fully, in order to solve such problems.

18
octotoad 1 day ago 0 replies      
"Ultimately, the people who learn to love what they do who will be the ones who accomplish the most anyway. Those who push only for the sake of some future reward, or to avoid failure, very often burn out, sometimes tragically."

This is one of the best pieces of advice I've read in a long time. Worthy of being framed and hung on the wall above my workspace.

19
JDulin 1 day ago 0 replies      
First of all, thanks a lot for sharing this Paul. I have just entered college and have only just started to see the importance of these lessons you illustrate: Accepting the past and being good to ourselves and each other.

Unfortunately, they are learned too late in life by too many people. I myself have spent too much time working for the sake of some future reward instead of the love of my work. The problem with this is that it can create unhealthy feedback loops. You keep working, certain that sooner or later this work you hate will pay off. And when it doesn't, you think you either didn't work hard enough and try again, or you finally decide to find work you love. But when you've spent the past working for a reward that never came, it's really hard to accept the past. That's where some of the most painful burnouts come from.

20
leeskye 1 day ago 0 replies      
I have never lost anyone in my immediate family but this made me choke up,

"He was gone, but his belongings were still there... It does not feel good to pack up the remains of your brother's life."

RIP Stephen

21
run4yourlives 1 day ago 1 reply      
Fuck Cancer.
22
eps 21 hours ago 0 replies      
There are people who lost their loved ones and those who haven't yet. This is something one has to live through to understand and it is life-altering. In other words, former don't need the "be good to each other" advice and latter can't really appreciate it.

It's a good piece though, Paul.

23
bootload 1 day ago 0 replies      
"... What's most important is that we are good too each other, and ourselves. If we "win", but have failed to do that, then we have lost. Winning is nothing....
Please be good to each other, and your self. ..."

Hard won perspective. I'm sorry for your loss Paul.

24
mc 1 day ago 0 replies      
Thanks for writing this paul. From time to time, it's important to recognize the things that truly matter.
25
lutorm 1 day ago 0 replies      
Having just now had a conversation about whether we should trade quality of life for an opportunity to work on something cool and make more money, this felt eerily relevant. Thanks for sharing.
26
rdamico 23 hours ago 0 replies      
Paul, thanks so much for sharing this. It's very touching and really underscores how easy it is to loose sight of the big picture in life. Very appropriate especially for those caught up in all the craziness that comes with a startup.
27
pagehub 1 day ago 0 replies      
Thanks for sharing your story, it's good to remember the truly valuable things in life.
28
Todd 21 hours ago 0 replies      
Thanks for sharing your story, Paul. I lost my young brother to a cycling accident last year. Best wishes.
29
pasbesoin 8 hours ago 0 replies      
Hey, Paul. Nicely put. Thanks for sharing it.
30
cjstewart88 1 day ago 0 replies      
Thanks for sharing that Paul, really... thanks.
7
Here is why vim uses the hjkl keys as arrow keys catonmat.net
442 points by freestyler  1 day ago   91 comments top 21
1
jgrahamc 1 day ago 5 replies      
Doesn't this go way back though?

The reason that keyboard had those arrows keys on it was because those keys correspond to CTRL-H, J, K, L and the CTRL key back then worked by killing bit 6 (and bit 5) of the characters being typed.

The effect was that H which is ASCII 0x48 would become 0x08 which is backspace. If you look at an ASCII table (e.g. http://www.asciitable.com/) you will notice how the uppercase ASCII letters line up nicely with the control characters so that just dropping bit 6 will get you there. Same thing with the lowercase (drop bits 5 and 6) and you are on the control characters.

The CTRL-H, J, K, L therefore correspond to BS, LF, VT, FF. BS is backspace (i.e. left), LF (down), VT is vertical tab (so up) and FF is form feed (which in this case takes you up). I'm not sure why FF was used for up.

This is also why CTRL-I is tab, CTRL-D ends a communication. All of that goes back to teletype days. Also for telnet users out there you'll see that CTRL-[ lines up nicely with ESC. And when you see a ^@ being printed on the terminal you can see why it corresponds to a null byte.

One other interesting thing about ASCII: uppercasing and downcasing can be done by twiddling a single bit.

If you look at this picture of an ASR-33 Teletype you'll see that come of the control characters on the keyboard correspond to those in the ASCII set. This is because ASCII evolved from the earlier teletype character sets: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/0/0b/ASR-33_2....

2
rauljara 1 day ago  replies      
Most of the answers I've seen as to why hjkl have fallen into the "so your fingers stay on the home row / it's actually quite fast once you get used to it" realm. But those answers were never completely satisfactory to me. Once you get used to it, it's fine. But I feel like it would have been fine as adsw, or jkl; (so that your hand really is on the home keys) or some other 4 key combination near the home row, too.

This explanation of the origin hjkl is the first one to satisfy me. Now I can see the others, not as explanations as to why it is, but explanations as to why it stuck.

3
ajays 1 day ago 1 reply      
Oh lord! I remember these unibody terminals. I had to use the Volker-Craig VC4404 . That thing was built like a tank. You had to hammer at the keys with great force. Soon one got into the habit of hammering on the keys all the time.

And then one day I walked into the lab with shiny new VT-100 terminals with their soft keys; but started hammering on them by habit. And everybody turned around and looked at me as if I was possessed..... :-D

4
wavetossed 1 day ago 1 reply      
ADM3a was a terminal, not a computer. I used to use these two in around 1976 or so. And the hjkl pattern has nothing to do with this or any other terminal. The ASCII control codes for Ctrl-H, Ctrl-J, Ctrl-K and Ctrl-L were used to make the Teletype's printing carriage move left, down, up or right. Bill Joy's innovation was "modes" so that Ctrl-H did not delete the character when it moved left, etc...
5
robtoo 1 day ago 2 replies      
It would have been a lot more useful if the link had said how/why the ADM-3A used hjkl as cursor keys.
6
jff 1 day ago 0 replies      
I've got one of those sitting in my spare room... I'd be using it right now were it not for a busted flyback, which emits a whine capable of giving me a headache within 15 minutes. It's really a rather nice terminal, with an oddly attractive screen font and a keyboard that is well-suited to UNIX.

The coolest part is that there is no microprocessor, just a bunch of 7400 series ICs and some DIP switches to configure things.

7
ldh 1 day ago 1 reply      
I worry that the tone of the article seems dismissive of the choice that went into mapping those keys to arrow directions in vi ("That's the whole story"). As if to say it was mere happenstance that vi uses hjkl, and any other outcome was equally likely.

It seems more the case that the designers of that computer chose those particular keys on the basis of a desire for efficiency that vi also followed, so there was no need to create a new convention.

8
ehsanu1 1 day ago 2 replies      
If anyone is apprehensive about vim's hjkl keys, and you like the arrow keys better, you can use ijkl instead and get all the benefits of the muscle memory you have built up for arrow keys, while still keeping your hands on the home row. Use this mapping:

    " remap h to i and use ijkl for inverse T cursor movement
map k g<Down>
map i g<Up>
map j <Left>
noremap h i

Then the 'i' key will be replaced by 'h'. So press 'h' to insert, or for inner selections, instead of 'i'. Also note the 'g' for up/down motions, which means it won't skip the wrapped part of lines - just remove the 'g' if you don't like that.

If you're worried this breaks anything else, I've had this interfere with just one other thing: a plugin that let me select text based on indentation of the line the cursor was on, but I made a few minor changes to the vimfile for the plugin and fixed that pretty easily. The other thing is that random servers won't have these mapped, but just copy the config over if you'll be doing a lot of text editing on that server. Otherwise, you can just fall back to using hjkl awkwardly.

9
pigs 1 day ago 1 reply      
Perhaps just as enlightening is the location of the Esc key (to the left of Q):
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:KB_Terminal_ADM3A.svg
10
ajross 1 day ago 0 replies      
The ADM-3A was a dumb terminal (well, it had to have had some level of screen addressibility, but was definitely not ANSI-compatible), not a computer. They were sold as kits, and about 1/3 the price of a VT-100. I remember reading somewhere that they were the first glass teletypes available to the BSD folks, and Bill Joy wrote vi purely because it allowed him to monopolize one for his own use.
11
truncate 3 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm used to H, J, K, L now. But when I wasn't aware of the history of vi, I always wondered why on earth he didn't use J, I, K, L!
12
danso 1 day ago 0 replies      
I wonder if being right-handed also affected that choice...either the vim implementation or the hjkl keys as arrow keys.
13
pacoverdi 1 day ago 1 reply      
Another reason to use HJKL is that over a 1200bauds line, it is faster to send a single byte than the 3 bytes generated by the arrow keys (^[[D^[[A^[[B^[[C)
14
afterburner 1 day ago 0 replies      
So, since the vast majority of users didn't start out on that keyboard, the reason to keep doing it that way now is: tradition.
15
ef4 1 day ago 0 replies      
You will find similar reasons for why Emacs chose many of its common keys if you examine the [Space Cadet keyboard](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Space-cadet_keyboard) for which it was designed.

All those awkward Control reaches originally laid comfortably under the thumbs.

16
saddino 1 day ago 0 replies      
Wait, I thought Rogue popularized hjkl? ;-)
17
SkyMarshal 1 day ago 1 reply      
I'm actually glad it worked out that way, I hate using the regular, out-of-the-way arrow keys. They're even more annoying than the mouse.
18
phzbOx 1 day ago 0 replies      
Wow, thanks for sharing this. I really thought it was for efficiency. (Well, it is also, obviously).
19
rabidsnail 1 day ago 0 replies      
That is the coolest looking thing with a keyboard I've ever seen. I want one.
20
hallnoates 1 day ago 3 replies      
This feature of vi/vim along with not being able to save and quit as quickly as I can in emacs (ctrl-s ctrl-x, baby, none of that :q! shite) is the reason I use emacs. I totally respect those that use vim, but I'm not a freaking machine.
21
artursapek 1 day ago 0 replies      
That's a pretty sexy terminal.
9
Pinterest, We Have a Problem whatblag.com
436 points by CMartucci  3 days ago   151 comments top 28
1
billpatrianakos 3 days ago 4 replies      
What we have here is manufactured outrage. Total non-story. I hope others don't start piling on now that this has been written.

The real deal is that Pinterest is screwed either way. These terms sound scary but so long as they are enforced sanely there should be no problem. What do you expect them to do? Assume liability for users posting content they should not be posting? They might as well not exist. A lot of startups these days may as well not even try to get traction as long as bloggers keep getting their panties in a twist over every TOS they see.

Pinterest provides a service for free that people seem to love. So long as no one is paying them and they haven't gone public they're damn smart to have these terms. If I ran Pinterest I wouldn't want to assume liability for some asshole who leaks a top secret photo on my site that I let him use for free and as long as I'm giving that service for free I'm going to make some cash out of my users. This is nowhere near evil. It's business. If someone doesn't like it they don't have to use it.

Question: How do you get over writer's block?
Answer: Start reading some terms of service or privacy policy docs from any popular online startup and manufacture some outrage over it. Truth is, if you read any TOS or privacy policy you're going to find something you can turn into a big deal most of the time. I've had it with the TOS/privacy policy outrage blogs.

2
jfarmer 3 days ago 3 replies      
I have one direct comment and one meta-comment about the issue of Pinteret and copyright.

First, I see no issue with their Terms of Service. That language is 100% cover-your-ass boilerplate, and any site that allows people to upload content will have a similar clause in their ToS. Facebook, YouTube, SoundCloud, etc. all do.

See, e.g., section 6.C of YouTube's ToS: http://www.youtube.com/static?gl=US&template=terms

If you find people are sharing your copyrighted material on Pinterest you should file a DMCA claim with them. That's how the mechanism is designed to work, for better or worse.

Second, when you react viscerally to what Pinterest is doing or enabling, think carefully about your opinion of YouTube. With respect to content, is there a substantive difference between these early days of Pinterest and the early days of YouTube?

The MPAA is probably saying, "See? You don't like it when it happens to you, either."

3
OneBytePerGreen 3 days ago 6 replies      
Pinterest has a market valuation of > 200 million dollars...

30%+ of its images are flickr images...

... 99%+ of which are "All Rights Reserved".

How many

... page views,

... new subscribers,

... and $$$

have the most-pinned flickr images generated for pinterest, with the author not seeing a single cent... not even having the satisfaction of seeing their popularity on pinterest reflect in their flickr stats?

And: Pinterest does not even have the decency to display the author name and license info next to the image.

Pinterest's business model is flawed; it is based on systematic violation of copyright. At some point, someone will start a class-action lawsuit and invite flickr photographers whose works got "pinned" to sign up, to reclaim part of that >$200 million pie.

In fact, this seems like a valid startup idea to me: Create a one-page website explaining to flickr users what has been going on. Do a systematic reverse image search to find out which authors have been affected and invite them to join.
Arrange with an interested lawfirm to get a % of their fee in exchange for delivering the list of potential plaintiffs.

4
yuvadam 3 days ago 10 replies      
Oh please, not again.

Absolutely any and every product you use has ridiculous Terms of Service.

These documents are drafted up by lawyers. Their job is not to please the end users who care to read through the legalese. Their job is to create a document that will protect the product vendor in court, if and when the time comes.

Lets put an end to finding eccentricities in ToSs/EULAs, it's getting kind of redundant. If this is some sort of game to see who can find the most absurd clauses in these documents, we're all losing.

5
aiscott 3 days ago 3 replies      
I'm an amateur photographer, and I wasn't too concerned about this until I read that by Pinning something, their TOS says I am granting them rights to sell my work.

I don't like that very much.

  By making available any Member Content through the Site,
Application or Services, you hereby grant to Cold Brew Labs
a worldwide, irrevocable, perpetual, non-exclusive,
transferable, royalty-free license, with the right to
sublicense, to use, copy, adapt, modify, distribute, license,
sell, transfer, publicly display, publicly perform,
transmit, stream, broadcast, access, view, and otherwise
exploit such Member Content only on, through or by means of
the Site, Application or Services.


The rest just seems like standard CYA stuff.

6
chrisacky 3 days ago 2 replies      
There was a similar HN post/Google+ post last week. I can't remember where I read it.

Something along the lines of an avid lawyer decided to kill her account because she read the ToS and drew exactly the same conclusions as what you had just wrote.

While it's quite easy to regard this as been a ticking timebomb, a few things to probably note.

If you are a photographer or someone who holds copyright in a work you would most likely just issue a DMCA.

Now, lets assume that you aren't content with that. You might argue that you have incurred losses and want some form of damages. You are first going to have to contact Pinterest to get the information of the user who has listed this said work. Are Pinterest goijng to give up this information so willingly? Probably not...

7
Alex3917 3 days ago 2 replies      
So you're claiming that pinterest should pay your legal bills for you? That's ridiculous. If you upload a photo that's copyrighted by someone else and get sued, why should pinterest foot the bill for that? There is no way the service would ever be viable under those conditions, because it would create an enormous moral hazard.
8
otterley 2 days ago 2 replies      
I am an attorney (and as far as I can tell, the author is not one, so take his "analysis" with a pillar of salt). This is not legal advice though.

With respect to the following paragraph:

"So, if you snap an awesome photograph, upload it to your blog, and someone pins it, that person is either (1) claiming exclusive ownership of it; or (2) giving Pinterest your consent to reproduce it (and you just thought you were being flattered)."

Actually, no. You can't transfer a right you don't have. All rights to a work are vested in the author of a protected work; only the author can consent to any of the activities protected by copyright.

It's just like selling a house you don't own. First, you're committing fraud if you falsely represent that you have the right to sell it; and second, the actual owner isn't bound by anything you have done (the deed doesn't go to the putative buyer).

9
fotoblur 2 days ago 0 replies      
Pinterest and Tumblr are by far the worse offenders when it comes to sharing content from other providers as its not 100% clear, or sometimes elusive, on how visitor can view the original content. Its as if these sites are cutting content providers out of the loop which is like throwing out the baby with the bathwater. They are essentially going to injure the entire ecosystem of sharing if they keep up with these practices (http://www.sv411.com/index.php/2012/02/pinterest-gets-caught...).

What's worse is that these shady sharing practices have begun to support a broader ecosystem of image finding scavengers such as http://www.whattopin.com see below).

Here is a support ticket we received today at Fotoblur which illustrates the problems we are seeing (a bit of broken English but you get the picture):

"I am user the http://www.fotoblur.com/portfolio/agnieszkabalut?p=1&id=...
Another user Elinka used my photo art- senza titolo2 by Agnieszka Balut.......
(via Elinka) in the web-site http://www.whattopin.com/topic/photography/?id=283634 - Printerest (commercial use)

and in the
http://elinka.tumblr.com/post/18734723798/senza-titolo2-by-a... without my permission.

All my images are protected by Copyright (reproduction and printing). All images on these are the exclusive property of Agnieszka Balut and protected by the Copyright . Therefore prohibited the publication and reproduction without written permission from Agnieszka Balut. Any violation will be prosecuted."

As you can see, this type of sharing confuses people. We usually explain "fair use" to them but they really don't care. They feel they have rights and they want action taken. I can fully understand why Flickr blocked Pinterest if they have been getting the complaints such as we've seen. In the end the burden falls on the image owner and what ends up happening is they have to chase down every site owner whose members improperly post their content. They then lose faith in participating at all because of their inability to control their content.

10
zaroth 3 days ago 1 reply      
Speaking of the DMCA Safe Harbor...

Images on Pinterest, in some cases, were not even uploaded from a user's hard drive; they were pulled in via a the 'Pin It' button (http://pinterest.com/about/goodies/)

In this case, Pinterest even acknowledges that the images are not the property of the user, "When you pin from a website, we automatically grab the source link so we can credit the original creator."

I'll bet the 'Pin It' button ultimately gets them in hot water, because it's hard to argue the content is 'user generated' when they know, via their 'Pin It' code, exactly where the content is actually coming from.

§ 512(c) [DMCA Safe Harbor] also requires that the OSP: 1) not receive a financial benefit directly attributable to the infringing activity, 2) not be aware of the presence of infringing material or know any facts or circumstances that would make infringing material apparent,

I wonder if 'the original source URL' of a image may be construed as a fact that would make infringing material apparent. IANAL.

11
maqr 3 days ago 2 replies      
Maybe all the buzz about Pinterest is because so many people think that finding an image online makes it publicly redistributable. "Pinning" is just another way of sharing.

I get the impression that there's much wider public acceptance of sharing (pirating?) pictures than music, movies, or software. I don't have a good answer as to why this might be, but I'd be curious what HN thinks.

12
mtgentry 3 days ago 1 reply      
'The “pin” button remains inactive until the user types something. Anything. Might this count as “criticizing” or “commenting”?'

Interesting. I'd like to see a court case further define what constitutes a "comment" on the web. Other sites do this too, for example Buzzfeed.com's entire business model is based on taking content from bloggers and then hosting it on their own site, without providing any kind of insightful comment.

http://www.buzzfeed.com/mjs538/if-both-of-angelinas-legs-wer...

13
mikeknoop 3 days ago 0 replies      
So here is a thought. I presume the article is mostly critical of the terms based on comments here. But consider a service without any "ownership" terms, etc. Two scenarios:

1. When a user "pins" an image elsewhere online, the image is downloaded by Pinterest to their server. When other users browse Pinterest, it is served directly by Pinterest's servers.

2. When a user "pins" an image elsewhere online, the image URL is saved by Pinterest to their server. When other users browse Pinterest, they are downloading the image directly from the original source.

Scenario (1) I see legal issues with. But scenario (2)? Isn't Pinterest simply providing a link (ala a search engine)? Moreover, isn't this just how the internet works?

Surely this has come up before yet I am having trouble finding a similar case.

14
brador 3 days ago 1 reply      
Could this argument also apply to sites like Readability? Since it removes advertising (hence income for the writers) from articles.
15
edwinnathaniel 3 days ago 2 replies      
Watermark the pictures in your blog?

By the way, I found out that you can watermark all of your images that you're about to upload to Picasa Web via Picasa Desktop (there's an option to do that before you Sync to Web). I found that feature very useful if you organize your pictures using Picasa (and show them on your blog).

16
zaroth 3 days ago 2 replies      
If I'm a copyright holder who feels like my work is being misappropriated by Pinterest, I'm going to sue Pinterest, not the user. Their Terms of Service won't stop them from getting sued, and the indemnity clause won't magically make money appear in their pockets to pay for their defense. If they decide to start suing their users for recovery, that would be pretty amusing.

"I trusted the person who gave me the image" is not a legal defense for copyright infringement. Their only chance is to stay within the DMCA safe harbor or else they will eventually be shut down.

17
EGreg 2 days ago 0 replies      
This is the problem with importing PUBLIC CONTENT YOU FIND ON THE INTERNET into a website. Not uploading from your computer, or importing from your own account somewhere on another site. If the website actually makes a copy of the media (picture, etc.) and stores it on their servers, they should hope that the DMCA still considers them a safe harbor.

I think their best bet is to store the images only as a cache, and not as a permanent import. If the site owner decides to take down the original, then the cache should disappear soon thereafter.

19
veverkap 3 days ago 1 reply      
Didn't Pinterest address this to a certain degree? At least from the content creators - http://blog.pinterest.com/post/17949261591/growing-up says that you can add a meta tag marking your content as not pinnable.
20
danboarder 2 days ago 0 replies      
Pinterest is more like a visual social bookmarking service than a blog. When people save bookmarks or share links on delicious or reddit or even twitter, of course they don't claim ownership of that content, it's just a bookmark. Similarly, with Pintrest people are saving a visual bookmark of something they saw that was interesting out on the web or on other social streams, tumblr, etc. I think a lot of people are missing the point here.
21
npsimons 2 days ago 0 replies      
I think many are dismissing this as "standard TOS/EULA legalese" and missing the point. Let's consider a scenario: let's say you post some photos online, and license them under the CC-By-SA license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/). Then someone pins the photos you took to Pinterest. Next, Pinterest sells the photos you took, then catches someone copying or modifying the photos you took and sues them for copyright. To top it all off, Pinterest doesn't even give you attribution.

This is exactly the sort of thing that CC and GPL were created to combat: ruining someone's life through the legal system based on abuse of the copyright system. You want to sue someone over copyright violations of information you have copyright on? Fine. You want to sell something licensed under CC-By-SA? Fine. But you better be ready to comply to the license and allow whoever you give those works to the right to copy, sell and modify those works. I highly doubt Pinterest is prepared for this, and their TOS is overreaching.

22
xn 3 days ago 1 reply      
If posting an image with a comment is fair use, then arguably the combination of the image and the comment constitute the Member Content for which the poster is claiming ownership.

If I publish a review of a work of art, including a reproduction of the work, in a magazine, my copyright would cover the entire article including the reproduction. I wouldn't be claiming copyright on the original work.

23
treelovinhippie 2 days ago 0 replies      
I was under the assumption that all social-based sites/companies follow the same policy, not so they can resell user content, but so they can eventually go through an acquisition without facing a class action lawsuit from its users who would demand a % of the sale. e.g. Geocities.
24
villagefool 3 days ago 0 replies      
Funny thing is that Pinterest in their terms of service are asking people to follow rules they are breaking for other services...
25
yonasb 2 days ago 0 replies      
One phrase comes to mind after reading this: "so what." It's not about what the terms say, it's about how they're enforced. I don't see any users getting sued, just a bunch of stories on how you could potentially get sued.
26
kfcm 3 days ago 0 replies      
Just opening the door for business casual G-men [video]:

http://www.southparkstudios.com/clips/382781/business-casual...

27
cmiles74 3 days ago 1 reply      
Pinterest is caching these images on their servers, not their customers who are only pasting in links. I find it hard to believe that these end-users will be held liable for an implementation detail on Pinterest's end. And linking, I believe is legal.

These are images that are publicly available on the internet and have been made available, in most cases, by the owner. Is there really a case that copying these images off the internet is illegal?

28
rjurney 3 days ago 1 reply      
I am SO fucking sick of douchebag angst driven attacks by sniveling failure-driven wannabees on legalese in terms of service that are essential to make any and every successful consumer Internet site, application or platform work.

If you don't like it, don't use it. Go back to the pre-social web with your mom and grandmother. If you are going to criticize it or upvote it, think for a moment about the reasoning behind it. Yesterday Path. Today Pinterest. Let's hope someone else makes something great for you to kick in the teeth tomorrow.

Shut the fuck up already.

10
Advice From An Old Programmer learnpythonthehardway.org
414 points by bemmu  2 days ago   121 comments top 34
1
edw519 2 days ago  replies      
Thoughts from an Older Programmer...

I've been programming for a very long time.

Me too.

So long that it's incredibly boring to me.

Actually, it's more interesting to me than ever.

...I knew about 20 programming languages and could learn new ones in about a day to a week depending on how weird they were.

I have a cursory knowledge of quite a few myself. But I know one really, really well.

Eventually though this just became boring and couldn't hold my interest anymore.

That may be because you're too focused inwardly and not toward your users.

This doesn't mean I think programming is boring, or that you will think it's boring, only that I find it uninteresting at this point in my journey.

Not me, and I'll tell you why shortly...

What I discovered after this journey of learning is that it's not the languages that matter but what you do with them.

Yes!

Actually, I always knew that, but I'd get distracted by the languages and forget it periodically. Now I never forget it, and neither should you.

Yes fellow programmers, this is a trap! Even after 33 years of building stuff for my users, I'll have a day when I realize that it's already dinner time and I haven't done a damn productive thing all day long. Just played around for the fun of it. (This is not a bad idea every once in a while, just as long as you know its a trap, and eventually you have to get back to work. Do this for months and you can really lose your way.)

Which programming language you learn and use doesn't matter. Do not get sucked into the religion surrounding programming languages as that will only blind you to their true purpose of being your tool for doing interesting things.

Yes. I've made about 4,500 Hacker News comments, but I don't think I've ever participated in a language war. Fortunately, I instinctively knew that this was pretty much a waste of time for me.

Programming as an intellectual activity is the only art form that allows you to create interactive art. You can create projects that other people can play with, and you can talk to them indirectly. No other art form is quite this interactive. Movies flow to the audience in one direction. Paintings do not move. Code goes both ways.

What about stand-up comedy? By definition, the audience is part of the act. Anyone can tell jokes to their cats, but killing a room is an entirely different story. (I found this out the hard way.)

Oddly, with the users I've had lately, I often forget whether I'm doing comedy or programming. I have to check to see if I'm sitting or standing to be able to tell the difference.

Programming as a profession is only moderately interesting.

Take out the words "as a profession" and re-read that sentence. It shouldn't make any difference. If you love programming, you can easily love it as a profession (in the right conditions, of course). If you don't love programming, do the world a favor and do something else as a profession.

It can be a good job, but you could make about the same money and be happier running a fast food joint.

Money really shouldn't have anything to do with it. You can earn a living many different ways. Do what you love.

You're much better off using code as your secret weapon in another profession.

I disagree. I've met a lot of non-programmers who knew a little programming. They were more dangerous than effective.

People who can code in the world of technology companies are a dime a dozen and get no respect.

This was a nice post from OP until this sentence. This is just stupid. There may be lots of mediocre and poor practioners in any vocation, but good programmers and not a dime a dozen. Also, respect is relative. If you're worried about getting respect, you're worried about the wrong thing.

People who can code in biology, medicine, government, sociology, physics, history, and mathematics are respected and can do amazing things to advance those disciplines.

People have often asked me how I've used my programming skill to help the world. I always answer immediately, "With everything I've ever done." Sure, the disciplines OP mentions are sexy, cool, and important, but so is manufacturing stuff, distributing it, accounting for the money exchanged, and a million other "boring" things. Programming to keep the world working is just as important as all that sexy stuff too. (Maybe even more important, what were all those "sexy programmers" doing for food, shelter, and essentials when they were busy changing the world? You better believe that a "boring programmer" built something to help bring those things to them.)

Of course, all of this advice is pointless.

Not really. Even though I've disagree with OP on a lot of stuff, his advice is not pointless. There's something to be learned from everyone else, especially those with lots of experience.

If you liked learning to write software with this book, you should try to use it to improve your life any way you can. Go out and explore this weird wonderful new intellectual pursuit that barely anyone in the last 50 years has been able to explore. Might as well enjoy it while you can.

Great advice. I did it and I'm so glad I did. Many others should, too.

Finally, I'll say that learning to create software changes you and makes you different. Not better or worse, just different.

This is true of just about anything. And most definitely true of programming. I can't imagine what my life would have been like otherwise. (In another century, I probably would have been a cook or something. I probably would have been happy, but I'm so glad things worked out the way they did.)

You may find that people treat you harshly because you can create software, maybe using words like "nerd". Maybe you'll find that because you can dissect their logic that they hate arguing with you. You may even find that simply knowing how a computer works makes you annoying and weird to them.

Another hard lesson: others' opinions of you should not matter. If it does, slow down and think about this again. You should be focused on your work and your users. Don't worry about the naysayers.

To this I have just one piece of advice: they can go to hell.

My feelings exactly, but I'd like to think I'd use different words. Be nice.

The world needs more weird people who know how things work and who love to figure it all out. When they treat you like this, just remember that this is your journey, not theirs. Being different is not a crime, and people who tell you it is are just jealous that you've picked up a skill they never in their wildest dreams could acquire.

It took me a long time to realize that I was an "outlier". Once I understood that, lot of other things came into perspective. That's probably true for lots of other programmers, too.

You can code. They cannot. That is pretty damn cool.

Please remove the sentence "They cannot." That's bad attitude and doesn't matter. The resulting paragraph, "You can code. That is pretty damn cool." pretty much sums up exactly how I've always felt about it. Thank you, OP!

2
DanielBMarkham 2 days ago 4 replies      
Edw's comment aside, I can understand being bored with programming. After you learn your way around a dozen or so different platforms, if you're not getting bored you might want to check to see if you don't have a bit of Asperger's.

But he nails it when he points out that all of this programming talk is bullshit. It's just stuff to chat mindlessly about while you're not helping people. Programming is making computers help people. Never forget that. The more you focus on the computers part, the unhappier you are going to be.

I will extend my analogy. If after the 50th article you read on HN about some upcoming technology you haven't figured out that something is wrong with your focus you should seek help. If you want theory, computer science is a great field to study. For the vast majority of us, it is not an end to itself.

It's all very easy to get good at critiquing Judy arrays and suck at making something people want. You can carry on like this for the rest of your life. Don't do that. You provide a bridge to the future for millions of people. Please, the rest of us need your help.

3
api 2 days ago 1 reply      
"People who can code in the world of technology companies are a dime a dozen and get no respect. People who can code in biology, medicine, government, sociology, physics, history, and mathematics are respected and can do amazing things to advance those disciplines."

That is the best thing in his advice column.

It's hard to pull off though. I started programming at 5 and am at a skill level comparable to this poster, but I studied biology in college with an eye to doing exactly this sort of thing. Then I discovered that bio is a Ph.D's only club and that you cannot get any kind of job in the industry if you don't at least have a Masters'. I didn't want to do this for various reasons (money, not liking school), so I found myself back in IT/programming where the pay was 3X higher than what I could get in the bio world with a BS only.

4
nadam 2 days ago 9 replies      
"People who can code in the world of technology companies are a dime a dozen and get no respect"
Generally in business, those people whose job title is 'programmer' or 'developer' or 'software engineer' get relatively little respect even with lots of experience. (I am 37 years old and programming since 12) Previously I thought the only way out of this is to become a 'manager', which I never really wanted to do... Recently I have discovered 'quantitative finance' which is a quite respected and interesting geek profession (with lots of math, which i like), and I am planning to transition into that in the long term. (Theoretically a relatively smooth transition is possible because there are 'quant developer' jobs out there.
5
amirmc 2 days ago 2 replies      
> "People who can code in biology, medicine, government, sociology, physics, history, and mathematics are respected and can do amazing things to advance those disciplines"

True. I have a theoretical physics friend who's now applying a ton of machine-learning techniques to biophysics stuff (in an academic setting).

I've no idea exactly what he's doing other than he's always snowed under and people keep coming back to him for more.

6
padobson 2 days ago 0 replies      
When I read pieces like this, it reminds me there are many reasons for learning to code. Some learn just because the technology is interesting. This is a fine reason, but what's interesting today will not continue to be interesting tomorrow.

Some have learned to code because they want a steady job. This is an ok reason, but being an accountant, plumber, carpenter, or "running a fast food joint" has the same benefits.

The best reason to learn to code, and the reason I did, is because your head is full of..... stuff. Stuff that is always there, choking out simple thoughts like "I'm hungry" or "I'm tired". And the supply of stuff never runs dry, it constantly increases and overwhelms other thought and builds up immense pressure on the sides of your cranium until your head feels like it'll burst.

And the only way to relieve the pressure is to turn that stuff into code.

That's why you should be a programmer.

7
ferids 2 days ago 1 reply      
Also a part of this problem is that many programmers are assholes. Going out to the world while thinking "im to smart for the rest of the world, tha hell with them" is just a big social failure in general. One need to be able to see things out of different perspectives, a bit more open minded. Just because a person like to do other things in life then CS-stuff, does not mean they are automatically stupid.

Programming is not everything in life as many would like to think. Handling different kinds of people in different kinds environments for example is much, much harder then learning how to code.

Connecting this all together has made up a history of non sympathetic people doing "the coding stuff" at the office where everyone else just stop caring about these guys cause you can't really talk to them. Now im just talking about the stereotype thats has been biting us in the ass for ages. Portrayed in media etc etc

This has been covered well in the beginning of the social network where Mark get lectured up by his girlfriend at the bar....

So really from experience, a good way out of this is not going to management, but just to "listen" to other people and open up your mind a bit...

/coder since age of 13, 29 years now, startup, the whole 9 yards

8
phatbyte 2 days ago 0 replies      
"Finally, I'll say that learning to create software changes you and makes you different. Not better or worse, just different. You may find that people treat you harshly because you can create software, maybe using words like "nerd". Maybe you'll find that because you can dissect their logic that they hate arguing with you. You may even find that simply knowing how a computer works makes you annoying and weird to them."

This is very true, unfortunately being a programmer requires dedication, non-stop learning to keep up. And this can lead to a very lonely life in a way that you don't socialize too much by favoring what we love to do. If you live with a tech-oriented city you should be fine, but for the rest of us it sucks a little, knowing that most of your friend/relatives don't understand what you do, and why do we spent so much time in front of a screen.

9
vacri 2 days ago 1 reply      
"Programming as an intellectual activity is the only art form that allows you to create interactive art." (his emphasis)

Kinetic sculptures? Fashion? Hell, go to a science museum and you'll find endless halls of interactive art, little of which involves programming.

10
loup-vaillant 2 days ago 1 reply      
> Which programming language you learn and use doesn't matter. Do not get sucked into the religion surrounding programming languages as that will only blind you to their true purpose of being your tool for doing interesting things.

That, is a dangerously double-edged wording. I see two ways of interpreting this, which are almost opposite.

(1) "Languages don't matter, in the sense that whichever you chose doesn't change the end result." Which is flatly, provably false. Different languages have different strengths and weaknesses, which makes them suited for different sets of problems. Use the wrong tool for your particular job, and you will find that your program took too long to write, or has too many errors, or is too slow to execute. Just thinking about C, Python, video encoding, and quick sysadmin work should make it obvious to about anyone here.

(2) "Languages don't matter, in the sense that they are a mean, not the end." Which is true for exactly the same reason the first interpretation is false: what should control your choice of language is your end goal. Personal preferences only matter to the extent you expect to have more fun. Given that your choice of language will change the end result, you'd be wise not to give it too much weight.

I think the author meant the second interpretation. The key words are "their true purpose [is] being your tool for doing interesting things.". A tool is only good to the extent it serves its purpose. For any given purpose, some tools are better suited than others. If no such tool suit some purpose of yours, consider crafting a custom one. In this regard, programming languages are no different.

11
zerostar07 2 days ago 2 replies      
I think this piece keeps coming up every so many days. It's a great piece of advice, and i think most developers come to the same conclusion after a few years. I think a useful corrolary from this is "Do not reinvent the wheel all the time by changing programming styles, instead try to extend the frontiers of technology" (I 'm looking at you, web frameworks).
12
opining 2 days ago 0 replies      
Would have been a great article except for the last 3 paragraphs.

Instead, I like the letter from _why in this post:
http://delicious.com/redirect?url=http%3A//www.smashingmagaz...

It goes:

I do not write tests for my code. I do not write very many comments. I change styles very frequently. And most of all, I shun the predominant styles of coding, because that would go against the very essence of experimentation. In short: all I do is muck around.

So, my way of measuring a great programmer is different from some prevailing thought on the subject. I would like to hear what Matz would say about this. You should ask him, seriously.

I admire programmers who take risks. They aren't afraid to write dangerous or “crappy” code. If you worry too much about being clean and tidy, you can't push the boundaries (I don't think!). I also admire programmers who refuse to stick with one idea about the “way the world is.” These programmers ignore protocol and procedure. I really like Autrijus Tang because he embraces all languages and all procedures. There is no wrong way in his world.

Anyway, you say you want to become better. I mean that's really all you need. You feel driven, so stick with it. I would also start writing short scripts to share with people on the Web. Little Ruby scripts or Rails programs or MouseHole scripts to show off. Twenty lines here and there, and soon people will be beating you up and you'll be scrambling to build on those scripts and figure out your style and newer innovations and so on.

" _why

13
msluyter 2 days ago 0 replies      
I'm also pretty old, relatively speaking, but I think of myself as young programmer because I started somewhat later in life. Early in my career I made the mistake (for me) of going into software testing and I found myself pretty bored and unmotivated. But now that I'm a dev, I've found that my passion and dedication to the craft has only grown over time. All that stops me from coding all night when I get home from work are the physical barriers (hands/back).

Well, that and my girlfriend. So my advice is that if you want to stay in it for the long haul, play a long game: be passionate and consumed with what you're doing but don't burn out. Have friends, hobbies, and a life outside of work.

14
narag 2 days ago 1 reply      
Maybe you'll find that because you can dissect their logic that they hate arguing with you.

I'm glad I don't need to argue with "them" in my current position, but I've seen this effect a lot: the most manipulative people in a company are against any logical processes.

15
oconnor0 2 days ago 1 reply      
This ("the language you use doesn't matter") has never made sense to me. I get that what we produce is of value to others while the tools we use isn't of value & doesn't - directly - matter.

But, I know that certain languages are closer to how I want to think & how I want to be able to solve problems while other languages inhibit that or restrict the ways I think about & am able to express problems.

I only have about a half dozen years of professional experience so perhaps I am simply naive here.

16
revorad 2 days ago 0 replies      
You're much better off using code as your secret weapon in another profession.

That's why Bezos is my hero.

17
juliendsv-mbm 2 days ago 3 replies      
"People who can code in the world of technology companies are a dime a dozen and get no respect" , I disagree with that, I think you got a lot of respect in a company that is focused on technology. But If you are working into a marketing company in the development team, then yes you will not get much respect..
18
j45 2 days ago 1 reply      
This is brilliant advice.

"What I discovered after this journey of learning is that it's not the languages that matter but what you do with them."

For those developers who have only discovered the nirvana with one, or two languages, and love their rails, djangos, closures to death, just know that if one exists, there's always the possibility that there's more.

Just because you aren't aware of them doesn't mean it doesn't exist. Get building. Customers simply don't care what you code in, and very few languages give an overall edge to developing, most languages have very capable frameworks that all have their pros and cons that even out.

The question is, can developers stop foaming at the mouth and seeing the world just one way? Seems a little fanatical.

19
demallien 2 days ago 1 reply      
"Programming as an intellectual activity is the only art form that allows you to create interactive art"

Well, except for architecture. And industrial design. And pretty much most art that requires someone to interpret it (it depends on who you think you are making your art for - the person interpreting it, or the person watching the interpretation...)

20
JVIDEL 2 days ago 0 replies      
People who can code in the world of technology companies are a dime a dozen and get no respect

Last time I went to a startup meetup the people who could code were a very small minority, and they were always surrounded by others trying to poach them for their startups.

21
bicknergseng 2 days ago 0 replies      
"You're much better off using code as your secret weapon in another profession."

Exactly. So many students and young people see programming as an end, rather than a means. They might take a class in Java or Python or somethign, hoping to learn how to write code. What needs to be impressed on people is that you don't write code to write code, you write code as part of creating an online network connecting a billion people around the world or write code to create an immersive world that tells a unique story every time someone enters it. Despite the rise of DIY blogs and webpages, people still talk about programming as if they were an artist talking about learning how to paint in order to use a paintbrush.

22
exor 2 days ago 1 reply      
The meta-topic is about disillusionment, which in this profession comes from having to learn new libraries and knowledge that you know will soon become obsolete. Reduce the risk by focusing on learning what interests you (language & industry), and accept only interesting work if possible (or create your own fascinating projects, if you're the entrepreneurial type) -- or work as a contractor, where you pick your projects, focusing on your favorite language.

Don't let yourself become a cog in the machine, learning one company's proprietary library after another; to me, this is what leads to programmer burnout.

One of the challenges of a programmer (among other professions) is leading a balanced life; do not let your work define you too strongly.

23
redthrowaway 2 days ago 1 reply      
>People who can code in the world of technology companies are a dime a dozen and get no respect.

I guess it just wouldn't be a Zed post without a little light trolling.

24
leeoniya 2 days ago 0 replies      
"Maybe you'll find that because you can dissect their logic that they hate arguing with you."

QFT

25
commieneko 2 days ago 1 reply      
I would disagree that programming is the only interactive art form. Drawing and painting are quite interactive when you take into consideration the interpretation that the audience must perform, and, more importantly, the back and forth of artists as they see and react to each other's work with their own work.

In that sense programming is very much like the visual arts.

For what it's worth, I've been visual artist for around 40 years and a programmer for around 35.

26
stretchwithme 1 day ago 0 replies      
"Programming as an intellectual activity is the only art form that allows you to create interactive art."

I will have to let the car designers know that. And the great chefs of the world. And probably dozens of other artists.

27
_k 2 days ago 0 replies      
I worked for a company where they had a student (internship) set up the LAN, among other things. He got the job done, they liked to boss him around and pretty much everyone agreed the guy was lazy and there was no way they were going to hire him, blah blah.
Truth be told, you could see he didn't like it there.
But they couldn't have been more wrong about that guy.
And I've seen this over and over again: it has nothing to do with technology.
It has everything to do with the people you work for and how big of an influence your job has on whatever it is a company is trying to sell.
It's very discouraging to a lot of people when they're in a situation like that guy was.
Fortunately, he only stayed there for like 6 - 9 months (too long, imo, but he had no choice), so when his time was up I asked him where he was going.
He was going to work for a company that offered network solutions, he figured that was a better choice than to go work for a company similar to the one he just interned for.
And he was right.
I happened to know the company and the owner, so I assured him he made the right choice.
I checked up on him a few months in and all I can say is: time to move on when you're in a situation like he was.
28
demian 1 day ago 0 replies      
I would like to think that the sentiment of this piece is to move programmers to go and explore more disciplines.

Or to make the point that computer programming is such a powerfull tool that it's a shame to see that a lot of competent programmers are "just programmers" who think of code as an end to itself. Higher levels of manipulation and appreciation are available. Like a car mechanic, stuck with the beauty of the engine and the physics involved, but not the freedom and happiness and excitement of the car runing .

29
thewisedude 1 day ago 0 replies      
The author suggests to not get caught up on a programming language and use that as just a tool. I think I agree. I also want to add that people get caught up on using some other tools like vi or emacs or things like that. I think they should not be taken too seriously either. Creativity and building a useful product are the most important things of all.
30
cleaver 2 days ago 0 replies      
"The world needs more weird people who know how things work and who love to figure it all out."

At your best you can become antibodies in the global cultural organism.

31
blahblahhhhhh 2 days ago 0 replies      
> You can code. They cannot. That is pretty damn cool.

If it weren't for the last 3 paragraphs, I'd agree completely. But seriously- who makes fun of developers anymore?

32
MRonney 2 days ago 0 replies      
You may find that people treat you harshly because you can create software, maybe using words like "nerd". Maybe you will find that because you can dissect their logic that they hate arguing with you. You may even find that simply knowing how a computer works makes you annoying and weird to them.
To this I have one just piece of advice: they can go to hell.
:D It was worth it for that alone.
33
rtisticrahul 2 days ago 0 replies      
Loved this article. 100 % agree with the point that the technology doesn't matter, what matters is what you do with it. Simple and evergreen advice :)
34
ankurdhama 2 days ago 1 reply      
Which programming language you learn and use doesn't matter?

Really ?? It doesn't matter for most people because they only know C/C++/C#/Java/JavaScript/Python and other similar language as they all provide same kind of "thinking technique" and you have been programming using same techniques your whole life.

Try to learn languages like Lisp and Haskell and over a period of time they will change the way you think about programming and if something can change the way you think about solving problem, it does matter.

11
A 1-star, unfiltered user review of Yelp sfgate.com
386 points by hardtke  3 days ago   193 comments top 34
1
cletus 3 days ago 7 replies      
Yelp is fundamentally flawed.

Firstly, they have a clear conflict of interest, which has been discussed many times, when it comes to selling advertising. Buying advertising (anecdotally) seems to make bad reviews magically disappear.

Secondly, and this has always been the problem with "local", is you need a certain critical mass for it to be usable. You can argue that Yelp has reached this point in many cases (although see the next two points) but there are many businesses with <5 reviews.

Third, there is too much friction in asking people to review (and even rate things). Most people simply don't and probably never will. This exacerbates the "critical mass" problem but also introduces a selection bias. The people who comment and rate aren't necessarily representative of general opinions or you (the personalization problem).

I've gone to eat at some places in NYC that are 3.5+ stars that have varied from average to terrible. In some cases I've gone with someone who shared this positive review but--and I realize the counterargument to this is that it's subjective--they're just wrong.

Fourth, there is a clear fraud problem with reviews and ratings. People are clearly paid to give positive reviews (eg you see someone rate a given car dealership in the Bay area on one day and then another in Maine the next day and so on). Of any of the companies in "local", IMHO Google is in the best position to deal with this particular problem (disclaimer: I work for Google).

Lastly, as such reviews become increasingly important, there is the issue of extortion. If this hasn't happened already it will. Criminals already target websites with DDoS attacks that go away if the site in question pays what amounts to "protection money". There's nothing really to stop such criminal enterprises shaking down businesses with the threat of a bad slew of reviews.

It's worth making extra mention of personalization. Many (Google included) seem to view "social search" and "social recommendations" as some kind of panacea to some or even all of these problems. I disagree. I know a couple of people who, say, like Adam Sandler movies. I do not. Not even remotely. Their movie recommendations are so diametrically opposed to mine that I can pretty much take the opposite of what they recommend.

The way forward with this will be something like the Netflix model (IMHO) where these great data mining systems will attempt to find people who are like me and have similar tastes whose recommendations will likely coincide with mine.

2
unoti 3 days ago  replies      
Yelp has really let me down. I'm new to San Francisco, and initially used Yelp to help me figure out where to eat and hang out. Over time I learned that some of its 4.5 star places are dirty Taquerias that really suck, and some of my favorite places to be are poorly rated. (Note: I've got nothing against dirty taquerias, but the food better be good if it's a dirty run down taqueria with 5 stars.) I'm not sure what services are better than Yelp.

I've heard people say in casual conversation that Yelp is "over" and all the people in the know have gone elsewhere. What services should I be using to know where the best places to eat are in San Francisco and Marin?

Sol Food in Marin county, for example, is just worshiped on Yelp with 5 star reviews. But I go there, I wait in line for 30 minutes, get crammed in on a bench with 5 strangers, and get served a steak sandwich that's too tough to chew. What's up with that? I feel like I'm better off using Google Maps and just guessing than looking to Yelp for advice. Anyway, are there better services than Yelp to help me figure out what's actually worth going to?

3
jeremymims 3 days ago 1 reply      
This issue comes up quite a bit. Since OwnLocal works with a number of small businesses, we've heard many so-called "horror" stories.

What it boils down to is Yelp filters positive reviews for effusiveness (and ALL CAPS), personal connections with the business owner or employees, rapid review acceleration from first-time Yelp users, or users from the same IP address.

What this article doesn't mention is that many small business owners understand how important Yelp is and actively try to game the system in blatant and unsophisticated ways. Their friends write five star reviews about how wonderful the owner is and how they always have their anniversary dinner there. They create multiple fake accounts and complain loudly that their positive reviews have been filtered.

We've also noticed a certain tone businesses and their friends use. They don't typically describe a particular experience, they describe a business in generalities and will often refer back to what other reviewers are saying. They also appear to take what other people think very personally.

The very first four-star filtered review this business has mentions the waitress and host by first name (she goes on to sign it). Many of the other reviews for this business are similar and come across as fake or by people who mean well, but go overboard on behalf of their friends.

A common looking filtered review (notice effusiveness, caps wording, and referencing other reviews):

"This is a NICE restaurant - one that you go to when you want a quiet meal away from the kids - it's definitely not family-oriented, but then again, not every restaurant needs to be. If you're used to Olive Garden as your Italian "go-to place", then you will probably be disappointed in Fior d'Italia. If you want REAL Italian food, then ignore the naysayers and come here."

Yelp itself has rough stats for the breakdown of reviews:

5 stars: 38%
4 stars: 29%
3 stars: 14%
2 stars: 8%
1 star: 11%

Yelp's little secret is actually that the star ratings don't provide very much granularity for the casual review reader to make a decision and that most restaurants average out to ~3.75 or in Yelp parlance ~3.5 - 4 stars.

4
danso 3 days ago 1 reply      
I've been a Yelp user for years, and I was even an "Elite User" for awhile...and I had never heard of "filtered reviews" until now. In fact, if you go to the page of the OP's business, once you actually find the "Filtered Reviews" link (which is in very light gray), clicking on it brings a CAPTCHA...

http://www.yelp.com/biz/fior-d-italia-san-francisco

What the hell??

Even as a user determined to see what the fuss is about, I don't even jump through this hoop. So I'm guessing nobody actually clicks through to the filtered reviews, whatever they actually are.

I love that Yelp helps me find interesting places in a dense area like NYC, but their business model is appalling.

5
parfe 3 days ago 1 reply      
A single helpful Yelp review lays out what happened with this establishment: It ain't what is used to be. They've moved from North Beach to a new location closer to Fisherman Wharf. They probably get alot of tourists. The food is okay...but not as delicious as it was when the other "Italian" owners had it. Where are the Italian waiters who brought so much harm and courtesy to their customers.

Instead of acknowledging these changes as the source of discontent, he blames customers and the review site for pointing issues out. Instead of penning op-eds he should be training his staff, buying higher quality ingredients, and listening to customer complaints.

Owners who hate Yelp ignore the near real time feedback they would never get in person. Complaints posted Fri - Sun more often than Mon - Thur: maybe it you need to look at who works what shifts? Calamari rubbery: Did someone properly train the line cooks? Food called bland, mediocre, bad, or unremarkable: Maybe you should go back to the higher quality ingredients you decided to skimp on to "make more money"?

Yelp looks to be a great way to avoid the death spiral restaurants commonly find themselves in.

Not making enough money? Buy lower quality ingredients. Still not making enough money? Raise prices. Repeat until you lose all regular business and rely on unsuspecting first timers who begrudgingly pay and never return. Eventually close it down.

6
jpdoctor 3 days ago 1 reply      
Consumer Reports was way ahead of their time.

Any site that accepts advertising is automatically tainted. (CR never takes advertising.) Yelp wants its reviews to be believed and for establishments to pay for advertising.

Maybe they're good at balancing the two, but when it comes time to close the quarterly report, you know which one is going to win out.

7
sedev 3 days ago 7 replies      
I wish the article headline had said that the piece was by a restauranteur. Most of what they have to say about Yelp falls under the heading of "more of the same."

I think that restaurant and venue owners are wrong to hate Yelp - but it's understandable that they do. The reasons that they do are interesting. My take on it is that Yelp is disruptive to a lot of the traditional restaurant practices. Restaurant owners resent Yelp because it feels like they're adding more work to what is already a job that requires 80-hour weeks. Previously, restaurant owners had more message control about their venue's location, because social information like "is the Foo Pizzeria any good?" had more friction, it spread more slowly, and it degraded over time.

A Yelp review has low friction because it gets automatically ingested into Yelp's data set, it spreads quickly, and it doesn't degrade over time - it stays around on the site. If you're a business with a small number of reviews, it doesn't take many one-stars to make you look unappealing, and Yelp's attempts to be user-friendly mean that you're presented among a crowd of your competitors unless you earn a clickthrough. Like being on a crowded shelf at the supermarket, you're at the mercy of the visitor.

One interpretation of this would be to say that restauranteurs' reaction is "Hey! Shouldn't my success be tied to what I do, not to what a stranger on the Internet inflicts on me?" That's a reasonable objection - and that's why Yelp has invested a shit-ton of engineer-hours into filtering reviews. Filtering reviews is something that benefits both restauranteurs and users - it's just that the former tend to be ungrateful pricks about it because "filtering" includes "removing algorithmically detectable friends-and-family five-star reviews." Which leads to the other big interpretation - that restauranteurs are reacting badly to their customers' newfound ability to hold them accountable. We humans are dumb monkeys with a truckload of cognitive biases: we hate being held accountable. I look at articles like this one and I see big parallels to other whiny people who suddenly are brought into accountability and are resisting it.

The thing is that the restauranteurs, like the MPAA or the newspaper industry, cannot win this one in the long term (at least not on the terms that they now use to define "winning"). There's no way to keep people from talking about your business. There's no way to keep people from talking about the things they enjoy. There's no way to keep people from taking the easy way - "I feel like pizza, I'll look it up on Yelp" - instead of a harder way - "I feel like pizza, let's see which of my friends knows where the pizzerias are around here, which of them are available, what their phone numbers and/or locations are, or I know, I could go get the huge inconvenient yellow pages and make a choice based on how much they spent on advertising!" Computing devices will get more convenient to use, not less, knowledge will get easier to share, not less, and the cost of querying the Internet's collective opinion will be cheaper, not more expensive. The restaurant and venue owners are never, ever going to win this the way they want to - again like the MPAA and newspapers, the cat is entirely out of the bag.

Basically what I think they should do about it is

* Stop whining

* Read Seth Godin

* Compete instead of sue

As an aside, I've found Yelp very useful over time with the addition of a few mental filters.

* Judge places by the review histogram, not by individual reviews

* Trust the collective opinion far more than individual reviews, especially for places with 100+ reviews

* Assume that anything at 3.5 stars or above is Good Enough, and use other sources when you want to have rarefied tastes catered to (Yelp started out as being mostly for foodies - I think it's moved out of that, and that if you are or desire to become a serious foodie, you should release yourself from caring about Yelp)

8
jambo 3 days ago 1 reply      
One of the problems with Yelp in my city is the "Yelp elite". To bootstrap in my city, Yelp hired a community manager (part of their job is also writing reviews), and enlisted a bunch of people to become "Yelp Elite", earning access to parties in exchange for posting (it seems) daily reviews.

The result has been a high quantity of lengthy, some-times entertaining, low-information reviews posted by people whose advice I wouldn't likely take if I met them in person.

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/43344769/ns/business-local_busin...

9
jrockway 3 days ago 1 reply      
I disagree with all of his points. You shouldn't be able to opt out; if I want to post a review of your business on the Internet, that's my decision to make, not yours. (What's next, politicians opting out of news coverage? Yeah right.)

Review filtering is similar; Yelp is allowed to express editorial oversight over their website. Specifically, they try to reduce fraud. Your credit card company doesn't discuss their fraud detection algorithms, so why should Yelp?

All I see here is, "I like my own restaurant, but other people don't. Shut down the review site so nobody can tell anyone else!"

10
dminor 3 days ago 1 reply      
I think his worry for the investors is misplaced - the BBB has been running a similar racket for years and seems to be doing just fine.
11
ericd 3 days ago 2 replies      
Interesting view from the restauranteur. I don't think Yelp would be wise to use his advice directly, though. Allowing businesses to opt out of Yelp would be a terrible idea, because Yelp is much more useful when it has everything. Also, there is doubtless a substantial amount of attempted gaming with the reviews, so attempting to catch this and filtering it out is very important if Yelp is to maintain a reputation of being a trustworthy source of reviews. They should try to reduce false positives, but saying they shouldn't filter anything is silly.

The implications of only being able to help the restauranteur with his bad reviews for money are really terrible, though. I wonder if they still do this after all the bad press surrounding that a while back.

12
crikli 3 days ago 0 replies      
Nobody gives a crap that the restaurant has been there 125 years, but that's what the owner leads with in defense of his enterprise. Looking at the reviews for Fior d' Italia, it looks like service leaves quite a bit to be desired and the food isn't that good.

Maybe Yelp is polluted and biased...or maybe Fior d' Italia just sucks. Occam's razor says it's the latter.

My wife and I travel all over the country on business, often finding ourselves in cities where we've never been. Yelp finds us a great place to eat every single time.

13
arscan 3 days ago 2 replies      
The lack of transparency isn't surprising to me, as that's basically industry practice when it comes to the "special sauce" algorithms that power these recommendation engines (google, tripadvisor, whoever).

But the extortion part does surprise (horrify?) me. I'd love to see some more concrete proof that advertising on yelp results in a friendlier filter function for that business. I assume that there is enough publicly available information (just by scraping their site) to establish some kind of correlation between advertising and filter-friendliness, if one exists. Any of you up for the challenge?

I'd settle for seeing those communications w/the sales team referenced in the article, though.

14
msg 3 days ago 0 replies      
I found this response elsewhere in the thread so interesting that I had to say something.

PS - The best taqueria IMO is in the outer mission, most the menu is in spanish, and I'm trying to keep it a secret, but yelpers seem to be catching on :(

If you're trying to keep a taqueria to yourself, do you have incentive to leave a bad review? After all, your interests are not aligned with the rest of Yelp's customers. Or even, necessarily aligned with the taqueria's success. Maybe it's to your codependent advantage that they always stay small and delicious and hidden and yours...

preciouss.

This is the problem Yelp hasn't solved yet: how to align the interests of Yelp, Yelp reviewers, Yelp readers, and restaurants. Yelp succeeds if reviewers leave bad reviews because they are upselling bad review protection (they say they aren't several times in the FAQ, but they protesteth too much for me), or if restaurants buy ads. Yelp readers succeed if reviewers are honest and they can use reviews to optimize their personal quality/dollar equation. Restaurants succeed if Yelp drives Yelp readers to them, if reviewers leave good reviews.

Reviewers have many incentives to game reviews. One of the Yelp FAQs is about payola. If they review enough they gain community prominence through badges/titles. If they review too much, their reviews look suspicious (because they could be making them up instead of actually attending). If they become untrustworthy due to a secret Yelp algorithm, their reviews are obscured from prominent view. If they have a bad experience at a place everyone thinks is great, they run a risk writing a contrarian review and being labeled untrustworthy. And on and on.

15
tatsuke95 3 days ago 0 replies      
I've never used Yelp, beyond stumbling on the site when looking for restaurant reviews through Google. But as a follower of technology news, I have read much about it and its controversies. Add this one to the pile. It definitely calls into question their slogan, "Real People. Real Reviews."

But even if the controversies are unfounded...$1.5BB blows my &!%#ing mind. My personal perception is that I'm not even sure I trust the reviews.

16
localhost3000 3 days ago 0 replies      
I have a product in the local restaurant space. As a result I talk to lots of restaurant people - staff, primarily. It is overwhelming the vitriol I hear from them toward Yelp. Many people downright despise it.
17
mLewisLogic 3 days ago 0 replies      
So... I might be a bit biased (co-founder at Fondu http://fondu.com), but this really is a major problem.

Most restaurant owners we've talked to are afraid of Yelp and the power that it wields. From an investor standpoint it does a great job monetizing it's community. The problem is that Yelp essentially weights the scales, depending upon who is paying them ad money.

Whereas Google did a great job by separating church and state (search and ads), Yelp happily blends the two together. The end result is a little bit of fact and a little bit of fiction.

YMMV, but we think discovering through trusted friends rather than group averages is how the future looks.

18
RayJR 2 days ago 1 reply      
I cannot believe the coincidence! My father owns a small pizza business (small as in 1 store, 22 years) and yesterday a yelp power user got upset because I didn't give her free jalepenos. She knew we charge extra for things like ranch but still expected jalepenos for free. She got so mad she changed her review and said there was a "hair" in her pizza "months ago." She is obviously saying this to damage us because she was treated the same as all customers and expects special treatment. Extortion? That's how it felt but I don't care because our true customers know better and are great people. See the whole thing here: http://www.yelp.com/biz/rays-pizza-irvine. Sort by date, most recent review.

This was yelps response when I reported this user: Hi there,

Thank you for inquiring about the reviews of Ray's Pizza on Yelp.

We've looked at Jayne L's review, and since it appears to reflect the personal experience and opinions of the reviewer, we are leaving it intact. Unfortunately, we don't take sides on factual disputes, and suggest instead that you contact the reviewer again to clarify any misunderstandings.

We think it's important for businesses to be part of the conversation, and have created a suite of free tools to help business owners get the most out of Yelp. It looks like you've already unlocked your business page. As a reminder, you can:
- Communicate with your customers via private message or public comment
- Track how many people view your business page
- Add photos and a detailed description of your business
- Convert Yelp users into customers by posting a Yelp Deal to your listing
You can login to your account here: https://biz.yelp.com/

Regards,
Summer
Yelp User Support
San Francisco, California

I am a yelp user and it was great but for businesses its getting out of hand when there is no transparency. What if people are paid to yelp a lot and then use their influence to sell reviews? It could happen.

19
18pfsmt 3 days ago 0 replies      
I lived in roughly the same place for the last 20 years, so yelp is very interesting to me. I often notice poor ratings where I believe high ratings are deserved, but also low ratings where high ratings are deserved.
20
gphil 3 days ago 0 replies      
This is not the first time this has come up on HN:

http://www.hnsearch.com/search#request/submissions&q=yel...

21
bumbledraven 2 days ago 0 replies      
Filtering legitimate reviews is a big problem. Once I discovered that Yelp filtered most of my reviews, I stopped writing them. It's not even like I'm some anonymous coward (not that there's anything wrong with that, of course): I have had a photo of myself on Yelp for a long time, my account is linked to a few friends of mine on Yelp, and I even went to a Yelp event. I wonder how many other people like me stopped writing reviews for the same reason?
22
syeren 3 days ago 0 replies      
I'm really looking forward to the day that this 'business practice' of Yelp's comes to a broader audience.

While I agree that you can say this is a business model, I can't agree that it is morally correct in anyway, even in a world of capitalism.

23
peterwwillis 3 days ago 0 replies      
When I want to find a good place to eat, first I 1. ask somebody where a good place is and what they liked that they ate 2. figure out what kind of food i want and look for the best rated places near me 3. compare the menu with what i know about the cuisine, pictures of the place and any details i can scrounge up 4. then I just go and try to pick something I think i'll like.

Food isn't rocket science. Good places are open for a while and have lots of people and you avoid chains and franchises. Don't complain about the service, nobody cares. Don't complain about the prices, nobody cares. Don't complain about the clientele or the ambiance, nobody cares. It's about the food, stupid.

24
damncabbage 3 days ago 0 replies      
Yelp really is the cool-startup version of the Better Business Bureau.
25
micheljansen 2 days ago 0 replies      
I first read about Yelp's extortion practices in 2009 [1]. I thought that now they have grown so big, the extortion would have stopped. Apparently not :(

[1] http://www.eastbayexpress.com/ebx/yelp-and-the-business-of-e...

26
dbcfd 2 days ago 0 replies      
As a business owner, I have also seen the extortion for advertising model. Businesses that advertise with Yelp have low star reviews filtered, while businesses like mine that do not, have reviews from valid customers (often with friends and other reviews) filtered, to lower star ratings.

I have also seen reviews that are blatantly fake (e.g. reviews from Santa Claus, comical reviews, etc.) persist, until a significant amount of time passes. This indicates manual removal, and no actual Yelp filter.

27
zephyrnh 2 days ago 0 replies      
I think this makes sense. Filtered reviews are reviews that yelp considers to be fraudulent. They may be reviews created by multiple accounts from the same computer to inflate a restaurant's rating. Or they may all be negative reviews created by one person with multiple accounts to try to hurt a business they weren't happy with. Either way, I think it's perfectly reasonable that such a system of filtering should and does exist.

Now maybe their filtering system is so horrendous that it makes a 4-star restaurant seem like a 2.5 star restaurant, but I find this hard to believe.

As for asking people to advertise with them to make "bad reviews disappear", that would be terrible, so I can't speak to that, since all we have to go on is this particular owner's word vs Yelp's. Is there any proof of this happening?

28
danbmil99 3 days ago 0 replies      
Funny story. I recently was going to order out from a Chinese restaurant that I had recently ordered from before and recall enjoying. I had to google the number, and in so doing came up with a couple terrible Yelp reviews. For some reason I decided to listen to the toobz instead of relying on my own judgement. Ended up ordering horrible greasy food from a better-rated, well-known jaunt.

TL; DR: I let Yelp override my own experience, what's up with that?

29
lhnn 3 days ago 0 replies      
Yelp apparently does what the BBB does: Extort people by offering "brand cleanup" in exchange for advertising dollars. A disgusting business practice, and I'm sure to pass this along to my "social network".
30
sheraz 3 days ago 0 replies      
Mr. Larive is spot on in his opinion, and I think he offers good solutions to the dilemmas of business response and participation.

Yelp is representative of a fundamental problem with so many review sites, and our society at large -- namely that it attempts to coalesce many dimensions of data (a person) into a single score.

And, just like FICO, and the SAT/LSAT/etc, Yelp and its predecessors (BBB) attempt to do the same for businesses.

Worse still, they rely on the "Wisdom of Crowds" when it comes to qualitative measure and taste. An average 2.5 stars tells me nothing, especially because I'm an elitist prick and think the average Yelp commenter is an idiot.

I fear that people substitute a Yelp rating for their own critical-thinking, and that is wrong. It is just as wrong that schools judge students largely based on a single test score. It is wrong that lending happens based on a opaque algorithm.

I fear that Yelp is just another symptom that our society is sick. Our brains have atrophied to the point where we only look for one number that determines the succes or failure of our education, our lives and our livelihood.

Or is that a touch melodramatic?

31
cft 3 days ago 0 replies      
I find that the star rating of places/reviews in Google maps in Android is more reliable. Presumably, it does not suffer from the extortion bias either.
32
tmchow 3 days ago 0 replies      
Shameless plug:

We just launched Chewsy (http://chewsy.com) last year after years of frustration with these aggregate business review sites. We're focused on rating what you ate and sharing recommendations with friends. It's similar to other food apps on the market but different in significant ways. For example, it's not like a vertical instagram like some of those other popular food apps.

We're very much in growth mode, but San Francisco is getting some good traction and our hometown of Seattle is thriving.

I encourage you to try it out and perhaps it can help you find your next best meal (and help you recommend something to your friends).

33
matan_a 3 days ago 0 replies      
This is my rule for Yelp:

1. Listen to bad reviews.
2. Ignore good reviews.

34
jadc 3 days ago 0 replies      
Even though the article mentioned restaurants specifically, I believe the point about Yelp being fundamentally flawed extends much beyond food.

I have heard similar reports from doctors saying that Yelp is filtering out their 5 star reviews unless they advertise with them.

13
OpenStreetMap: Welcome Apple osmfoundation.org
354 points by sambeau  2 days ago   150 comments top 24
1
sambeau 2 days ago  replies      

  "It's also missing the necessary credit to OpenStreetMap's
contributors; we look forward to working with Apple to get
that on there."

2
ugh 2 days ago 8 replies      
Then congratulations Apple, for making a not so great map even worse. I can't really judge map quality in the US, but in Germany it sucks. Cities show up twice or are missing completely, labels are often small, unreadable and ugly. There is no consistency in the placement of lables.

OSM has its fair share of inconsistencies but it's not that bad.

The map is ok for what it is: Just for presentation inside of iPhoto, not for browsing or finding your way. I really hope that Apple doesn't plan to use this anywhere else and hat they just didn't go with Google because they can't customize their maps any way they want.

(That missing credit is also shameful. I was looking everywhere inside of iPhoto but couldn't find it. Stuff like that sould at least be moderately easy to find.)

3
petsos 2 days ago 1 reply      
I wonder if this is a temporary quick and dirty solution from Apple, pending a full-scale switch to their own maps in iOS 6.0.
4
5h 2 days ago 0 replies      
This is (for me) a very timely validation of OSMs efforts, congrats to them!
5
NameNickHN 2 days ago 2 replies      
There are two things that Apple should do in order to avoid being viewed as a jerk once again. Put in the credit to OpenStreetMap and make a sizable donation to the OpenStreetMaps Foundation.
6
mrinterweb 2 days ago 0 replies      
I can see a big migration away from Google Maps with Google's new pricing. Google's pricing can potentially get prohibitively expensive quickly. 25000 map views per day and $4/1000 map views that exceed the free 25000 map views. I am starting a new project that is focused around mapping. There is no way Google Maps will work for me with their pricing model. Open Street Maps is great.
7
mokus 2 days ago 1 reply      
In addition to the attribution, I'd like to know how they are going to comply with the "share-alike" part of the license. Where can I download "Apple maps"? According to the OSM FAQ, it should contain not only the OSM data but all other data they have merged in.

It also seems like they should be required to release all the styling parameters and/or code needed to render the maps exactly as they appear in iPhoto - does anyone know how far CC-BY-SA reaches in a case like this?

EDIT: for that last part, I guess they probably would be fine just releasing the whole thing pre-rendered.

8
rmc 2 days ago 0 replies      
There are some licence and copyright matters to be dealt with, but it's good to see another company switch to OpenStreetMap
9
dan1234 2 days ago 1 reply      
Has it been confirmed that they're using OSM data or could the data be a product of their acquisition of Placebase (back in 2009)?

Apple have actually been using this tile set for a while (it's used in the slide show mode of the current version of iPhoto for OS X).

10
stevenp 2 days ago 1 reply      
We know that Apple is working on using their own map technology based on some of their acquisitions. Is it possible that OSM is just a stop-gap until their own maps are ready to go? Perhaps they didn't want to enter into another licensing agreement with Google if they're going to be ready to switch to their own solution later this year with iOS 6?
11
JVIDEL 2 days ago 1 reply      
What is the word I'm looking for, "disappointed"?

The lack of given credit to OSM doesn't seems like an accident, and I was looking forward to see what Apple was doing with that amazing mapping technology from SAAB.

This is underwhelming to say the least, I was expecting much more from Apple.

12
sharmi 2 days ago 0 replies      
I see this as a favorable move to OSM. Hopefully the OSM's data would be enriched further considering the huge volume of people who would come in contact with OSM. OSM still lacks in a few places like middle east (Kuwait). But what was surprising was, wikimapia has several orders of magnitude better data for the same region compared to OpenStreetMap or other commercial map providers ( That includes google maps, yahoo maps etc )
13
MRonney 2 days ago 1 reply      
The map for my hometown shows a train station that hasn't existed since the early 1900's.
14
Shank 2 days ago 2 replies      
I thought someone compared the terrain with OSM and in certain locations it differs?

Edit: They're apparently combining map data in some places.

15
nchlswu 2 days ago 1 reply      
Could someone clarify using a service like OSM or Google Maps vs. using their data for map tiles?

After the announcement I read tweets that basically said Apple was still using the Google Maps service, but the tiles were rendered by Apple?

Based on what I'm reading it sounds like I misunderstood or am misremembering what I read.

16
X-Istence 2 days ago 1 reply      
The Apple tiles are completely missing the street I live on ...
17
dutchbrit 2 days ago 0 replies      
Someone at Apple definitely deserves a good spanking..
18
chpolk 2 days ago 0 replies      
With many of these larger map-based apps switching to OpenStreetMap, does anyone know any apps that receive a large amount of traffic that are currently/going to stay with Google Maps? And if so, how are they dealing with the charges (is it doable with a large amount of traffic without a significant source of revenue)?
19
Metapony 2 days ago 1 reply      
Link is down. I'd ask for a google cache link, but the irony would make me implode.
20
dbkbali 2 days ago 1 reply      
Great Apple, do no evil! How can we get better coverage for Asia?
21
Tycho 2 days ago 0 replies      
Just when I thought they couldn't get any more evil.
22
robertgaal 2 days ago 0 replies      
How can a project this cool have such an ugly website? It's shit like this OSM...
23
phil 2 days ago 2 replies      
I don't get it. Where's the evidence that these maps are based on OSM data versus, say, Navteq or TeleAtlas data?

The tiles use terrain data that nobody thinks is from OSM, and when I look at North American cities, the street grids certainly don't seem to match any better than you'd expect.

This post sounds pretty confident but they don't explain why.

24
tseabrooks 2 days ago 1 reply      
It feels a bit silly to fawn over map tiles... and I'll probably be accused of being an "Apple Fanboy"... But I'll be damned if those aren't some gorgeous tiles.

Hopefully, this signals apple will move away from google for the built in maps app and provide something superior themselves with something comparable to the kick ass turn by turn in the current Android devices.

14
Learning from 20 years of personal analytics stephenwolfram.com
327 points by hendler  2 days ago   58 comments top 18
1
nod 2 days ago 3 replies      
The scope and scale of this data is breathtaking! However... it strikes me that the best that he could do with this data was plot it and say "oh, I remember those events". I wouldn't feel like all of that effort was worth it, if I were him. What did it DO for him? Apparently very little.
2
sr3d 2 days ago 3 replies      
As someone who's trying to optimize his life better, what strikes me the most is this part of the post:

  For my consistent experience has been that the more 
routine I can make the basic practical aspects of my life,
the more I am able to be energetic"and
spontaneous"about intellectual and other things.


This reminds of the book Uncertainty that I'm reading. Very interesting indeed.

3
siavosh 2 days ago 4 replies      
This is amazing. I think the quantified self movement is going to be huge. With more personal tracking gadgets (fitbit, jawbone, nike fuel), measurements are going to become more and more seamless, passive, and complete. Not only will you get historical insights into your blind habits, but you can finally have an objective feedback loop on your behavior, and make necessary adjustments.

But one of the biggest challenges is going to be privacy...

4
Sukotto 2 days ago 0 replies      
If this sort of thing interests you, check out Kevin Kelly's Quantified Self collaborative project.

http://quantifiedself.com/

5
kayoone 2 days ago 1 reply      
wow, so he was and is writing a minimum of 50 up to 200 emails per day ? Insane, that would take up my whole day, but since hes mostly managing his company his job probably is mostly about writing stuff to people, but still amazing to keep that up for so long.
6
citricsquid 2 days ago 1 reply      
For anyone that wants to track their own typing, check out the whatpulse project: http://whatpulse.org/

My typing (http://whatpulse.org/stats/users/210575/) seems to match his in frequency, around 10 million per year.

7
pofla 2 days ago 1 reply      
If you're curious about the setup he uses there's more here.
http://stephen.wolfram.usesthis.com/
8
10char 2 days ago 1 reply      
My side project http://AskMeEvery.com helps with personal data tracking. It asks you a question of your choice (ie how many phone calls did I have, how many commits, anything) every day and graphs your responses over time. Might be useful if you're interested in this.
9
mhansen 1 day ago 2 replies      
If this kind of thing interests you, I made an app that graphs last.fm song listens in the same way as Wolfram's graphed his emails.

I find changes in listening habits correlate well with big life changes.

http://markhansen.co.nz/scatter.fm

10
commanderkeen08 1 day ago 0 replies      
When I was reading James W. Pennebaker's "The Secret Life of Pronouns," I started consciously collecting as much personal data as I could for this exact reason. I'm 23 and I've got most of everything I've ever done on a computer since I was around 14 logged. I started thinking about the amazing insights that all of this data can reveal to me in the future. Every IM conversation, email, blog entry, text message, tweet everything I've liked on Facebook. I can only imagine in 20 years, having a psychiatrist ask me what my childhood was like and being able to show them a piechart of how many times I complained about something to someone.
11
peter_l_downs 2 days ago 0 replies      
I would love for all of the little tools and scripts he uses to keep track of this data to be released publicly. Half out of curiosity (how exactly does he do it?) and half out of interest in doing this myself. Although his post doesn't seem to make any important conclusions from the data, I'm sure that there are some really interesting correlations, patterns, etc.
12
ramblerman 1 day ago 1 reply      
This kind of data would be so cool for body related things

- Calory intake per day

- caffeine

- minutes exercised

- blood pressure

I could imagine in the future this would be quite feasible. The biggest barrier probably isn't technological, rather the resistance to the idea of injecting/carrying a little digital monitor

13
Drbble 1 day ago 0 replies      
> one can type and use a mouse just fine while walking on a treadmill, at least up to"for me"a speed of about 2.5 mph.

Anything you can do while typing and talking on the phone isn't much exercise.
This seems far more annoying and inefficient than simply taking a 10 minute 5-6mph jog on the treadmill around the block before lunch.

14
sneak 1 day ago 0 replies      
All of this data is already going into our computers. I bet people would pay for a slick app/service that visualizes it well, like RescueTime but more holistic.
15
wr1472 2 days ago 1 reply      
I wonder how he reliably recorded the phone call data?
16
jpalley 2 days ago 0 replies      
If you are interested in seeing this sort of data for yourself - it is exactly this experience we are building at BrainPage.

Leave your email on http://signup.brainpage.com - we'd love your feedback as it gets ready.

17
m_a_u_r_i_c_e 1 day ago 0 replies      
i can measure so i can mess with it. What did the person learned more then if he would have asked collegues and his fam members. Humans are imho the more important data filters and aggregators. I prob.missed the point.
18
jl6 1 day ago 1 reply      
How do you scan 230,000 pages of paper?
16
Why Are Lawyers So Expensive Even With The Excess Supply Of Lawyers? forbes.com
294 points by mirceagoia  4 days ago   208 comments top 39
1
grellas 4 days ago 1 reply      
A few quick thoughts (am about to go into a meeting):

1. Lawyers are not immune from market forces. This is easily seen at the micro level: a new practitioner with no established reputation can charge $800 per hour and see where that gets him (of course, precisely nowhere). On the macro level, law has been a boom business ever since at least the 1960s when expansive liability theories came to be widely adopted by the legislatures and the courts. So, what used to be regarded as a dispute over garbage at the local dump becomes a massive environmental enforcement action by which dozens of parties face multi-million dollar liabilities; what used to be a distribution chain in which only the end-point seller typically bore liability to the consumer becomes massive product liability suits going back to the manufacturers and imposing strict liability on them in ways that can ruin a multi-billion business; what used to be the $.25 that a cab driver overcharged you because of some shifty trade practice becomes a major class action in which all the vendors in the area are swept in to face a protracted legal fight and potentially substantial damage exposure; etc., etc., etc. The point being: the legal landscape has changed dramatically and, for example, the Big Law firm that I worked at in the early 1980s grew from 23 lawyers in 1965 to about 250 in 1980 and is today over 1,000 lawyers. Demand is up in a huge way over the decades and law remains a boom business in this respect (certainly Big Law remains so) notwithstanding the recent economic calamities that have beset us all. That is the main reason why the very high fees are charged: because businesses are willing to pay them (when they are not, overt or disguised discounting occurs with great regularity).

2. That said, I am no fan of the Big Law model and have expressed my criticisms at some length elsewhere (see, e.g., http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=1648342). I also have stated in some detail why I think the large firms have been left reeling from the recent economic shock and how this has caused a general revulsion against the billable fee structure used in these firms (see http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=1649507).

3. In reality, the legal field is pretty diverse and price does matter for those who consume legal services (why shouldn't it?). The providers of those services who remain stuck in old ways will need to adapt to the short-term problems but they obviously hope to keep the old structures in place in hopes that the good old days will return. For the broader legal market, however, there is already wide variety in the range of services and pricing offered. As a consumer, you need to do your due diligence and shop around. In the broader market, lawyers want your business and will adapt as needed to get it.

2
thinkcomp 4 days ago  replies      
There are all sorts of reasons, but first and foremost is the lack of transparency in all things legal. This is why I'm working on PlainSite (http://www.plainsite.org). The opacity creates the illusion of difficulty, the need for (arbitary) specialized knowledge, and uncertainty as to the real price because so many factors are hidden from view.

For example: you're expected to follow the law even without knowing what the law says. When you want to find out what the law says, it's not easy--it's certainly not available in a standardized format. When you want to interpret what you find, assuming you find it, that's not easy either. Courts interpret things in new ways all the time.

The federal court system charges you to access public information contained in court proceedings, with limited exceptions--that is, if you even know where to look for it. See http://www.thinkcomputer.org/20120209.pacer.pdf. The interface is terrible and hard to use. The way in which you write lawsuits is obscure, counterintuitive, and creates additional needless work.

In addition to all of these factors, and perhaps because of them, lawyers (especially at big firms) have institutionalized fraud. It's taken for granted that legal billing is often fraudulent. If you charge $500 per hour and your system only resolves to the tenth of an hour, that means if you spent four minutes writing an e-mail, you can charge for 0.1 hours, or $50. But really you only did $33.33 of work. That's a nice cushion. But what actually happens is that an attorney might do 45 minutes of work and round it up to an hour--even though that work is formatting in Microsoft Word that the client could have done; or printing out a Word document in order to scan it in as a PDF. Still seem worth $500 per hour?

For those lawyers not at large firms, they're covering expenses (such as law school) that are enormous. High rates are a necessity, and who would charge far lower than market rates anyway? It might be interpreted as a signal that something is wrong.

Of course, don't for a minute think that paying $800 per hour will get you a better lawyer than paying $300 per hour. It might. Either way, you'll be paying someone in a staggering number of cases to unscientifically guesstimate What The Government Might Do, when the answer is, "who knows?". That doesn't mean all lawyers are the same; some are definitely better than others. But it has nothing to do with price.

More lawyers could afford to charge reasonable market rates, and not work for large firms, if it weren't for the ABA mandating that you have to attend a law school (that results in huge piles of debt) or clerk for years (four in California) in order to join the bar. See http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/25/opinion/are-law-schools-an....

Lawyers know, too, that you can't get rid of them (also thanks to the ABA), and so you're locked in. There's a monopoly on business representation, for example. See http://www.plainsite.org/issues/index.html?id=137. It's absurd.

3
JackC 4 days ago 0 replies      
Before we talk too much about why lawyers are so expensive, it's worth checking out how much they actually get paid. It's the weirdest salary chart you'll ever see:

http://www.nalp.org/salarydistrib

Basically it's the sum of two separate curves -- a bell curve centered around $45,000 a year, and a sharp, sharp peak up at $160,000.

What's going on here? Well law is two separate markets -- the bell curve is the 90% of lawyers who compete on cost in a more or less normal market, and the sharp peak is the 10% of lawyers who work at BigLaw firms that march in lockstep at $160,000 for new associates.

So for the 90%, the answer is that law is a highly competitive market. You're paying $150,000 in tuition to get a job that averages $45k a year when you start, and won't go up too fast. You're doing largely hard, boring work, it sucks to do without support staff, and it's time-consuming to do right. If the product costs a lot, it's not because the lawyer is overpaid -- it's because that's how much it costs to produce. Lawyers who drop below that price go out of business.

For the 10%, they're in a weird parallel universe where the cost of their service is almost totally irrelevant to their clients. They're handling international mergers, billion-dollar divorces, and Federal indictments of entire financial firms. The question of whether the lawyers charge $300 or $600/hr is like the question of whether your parachute costs $50 or $100 before you jump out of a plane. If there's the slightest chance that the $100 parachute is safer, you go for it. That's why the starting salaries march in lockstep -- no BigLaw firm can afford to let people think that the cream of the crop from Harvard Law is being hired by their competitors. They'd lose all their business if anyone else had a clear edge. But this only relates to a small minority of lawyers.

...

To disclose my own bias, this article/conversation is strange to me because I took a big pay cut to go from programming (which I could do before I graduated from college) to law (where most of my lower salary goes to student loans). I knew I would. I didn't join the BigLaw 10% (which I would have hated), but I'm getting to work on things that matter to me, and I'm proud I made that call. But to see a bunch of programmers talk about why lawyers have it so good ... yeesh.

This isn't to say that law can't get easier or cheaper. There are huge wins to be had from automation here, and I always turn into the resident tools guy wherever I work. I've had to get pretty good at VBA of all things, and 1000 curses on that misbegotten tongue. (Jashkenas, are you listening? Need a project after CoffeeScript?) I also think law school needs to get a lot cheaper -- like college tuition in general, it's been growing at twice inflation for decades, and that can't be right.

One other thought -- the bar is indeed a protected guild, and I'm not sure where I stand on that, but there are reasons for it. First and foremost, you will never know whether your lawyer has done a good job. If you hire a programmer, there may be problems behind the scenes, but you can more or less tell whether they've done what you hired them to do. If you hire a lawyer, and you lose your case, you will often have not the slightest idea whether they were competent -- there's just not enough signal for most laypeople to analyze in most cases. Even my own supervisors often have no idea whether I've done my job right. They ask me a question, I answer it, and without repeating the work I did they have no way of telling whether I'm right or how long it should have taken to complete.

Requiring education, examination and licensing is one way to address that problem. It definitely raises the price. In theory it also lowers the chances that you're buying snake oil. Something to consider anyway.

4
pak 4 days ago 1 reply      
So, Forbes is republishing Quora answers now? This must be part of that new strategy where they try to gain more traffic (http://www.forbes.com/sites/kashmirhill/2012/02/16/how-targe...) with other people's content (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/19/magazine/shopping-habits.h...).
5
jerrya 4 days ago  replies      
This may not apply to the world of corporate lawyers the answer seems to be about, but at a smaller level, there are enormous switching costs involved in moving away from, and training a new lawyer.

And it's not a free market. In a free market, the consumer can walk away from a purchase. Most times individuals or small businesses need a lawyer, they are in no position from walking away. They need a lawyer. And they need to stop spending time searching, and get on with resolving.

So a lot of claims from lawyers that they operate in a free market are really not true. They mistake what are basically extortion/price gouging rates for free market pricing.

And the search is expensive too, with few (?) lawyers willing to offer 30 min to an hour of their time to discuss your needs for free. This is another factor in increasing switching costs for the consumers.

And of course, price is used as a signal for quality in a market in which quality is very hard to measure by most consumers. Sure I got a great deal on a lawyer, he only charges $150 per hour. Hmm, Your lawyer charges $400 per hour? Now, I'm not so confident.

6
jonnathanson 4 days ago 3 replies      
To some extent, lawyers (or, more accurately, law firms) are Veblen goods -- meaning that their services are perceived as being better if they're more highly priced and exclusive. There's a general perception that a high-priced lawyer is a top-notch lawyer, and that skimping on such lawyers carries a huge deal of legal risk.

This dynamic plays out particularly in the BigCorp world, and especially if there's ever a perceived threat of litigation. (The idea that a competitor would hire "the best of the best," or "an army of lawyers," or "top guns," drives your own desire to pay for same).

7
noonespecial 4 days ago 0 replies      
Part of the reason might also be that the law has become so complex (as well as, in my opinion, intentionally obfuscated) that it demands a certain amount of resources to engage it at all. If you can't meet that level, its best not to engage it at all.

You can't launch a satellite halfway into orbit to save a few bucks. You go all the way, or stay home.

8
rayiner 3 days ago 1 reply      
The legal field isn't really amenable to simplistic economic analysis. With all due respect to thinkcomp, the idea that licensing requirements are what is driving the cost of legal services is totally wrong.

First, legal services generally aren't that expensive. If you need someone to help you draft a deed to some property, you can probably get that work done for cheaper than you would pay an engineer to design you a retaining wall on that property. When people say legal services are expensive, what they mean is that high-end corporate legal services are expensive.

Second, corporate legal services is not expensive because of limited supply. There are about 45,000 JD's graduated each year, and maybe 3,000-4,000 are hired at big firms that do corporate work. The rest work for far less money, in the $45-$60k range. If you wanted to start a firm doing corporate legal services at low cost, paying attorneys $80k a year (half the going rate of a first year at a large firm), you would literally drown in job applications. While in a platonic sense there is a supply constraint in the legal field, it has a practical effect more akin to crash safety regulations in cars than something that actually constrains supply to drive up prices.

If the state bars got rid of the requirement that lawyers attend an accredited law school, there would be almost no change in the cost of legal services at the top. Big firms hire the large majority of their associates from only 20 or so schools, out of the 200 that exist. Why would adding a category of potential hires below the huge group of people already not getting hired drive down salaries?

The price of high-end legal services is insensitive to the supply of lawyers for the same reason the price of Apple products is largely insensitive to the number of Korean competitors in the market: 1) brand is tremendously important; and 2) there are actual differences in the quality of the product.

Re: 1) Because it is difficult to tell whether your lawyer did a bad job or whether you just had a bad case, branding and signaling becomes tremendously important. It is that branding and signaling that makes companies keep going to firms that hire primarily from the top schools, even when there is nothing, legally, that prevents them from taking it to firms that have more diverse hiring standards.

Re: 2) The adversarial nature of law means that there is an arms race for the smartest people. While a lot of even high-end legal work can be very routine and boring, some of it can be very complex. That 10% of legal work that requires out-thinking the opposing counsel can have major repercussions for companies, and as such companies are willing to spend the money to ensure that their lawyers are smarter (at least on paper) than the opposing party's lawyers.

9
chollida1 4 days ago 1 reply      
the way I had lawyer, dr, etc. fees explained was that they can charge so much as you often don't get a second chance.

If your life is on the line for an operation, you want the best doctor available.

Your life on the line in a trial, you get the best lawyer available.

This has a trickle down effect. Or put another way, if you don't get a second chance, things had better go right the first time. Fear is a powerful motivator.

Want that dream house?

Better make sure the paper work from the forclosure is done properly. Sure you can try to do it yourself or with a budget firm, but what if they make a mistake. Your dream house is gone.

Want to make sure your kids are protected in case of your death, better get the best lawyer you can to do your will. Sure, you can print a form off the internet, but we've all seen that go wrong. Don't your kids deserve peace of mind during the troubling times surrounding your death?

10
shawnee_ 4 days ago 2 replies      
Traditional supply-demand economics just doesn't explain the behavior of "middleman" industries, such as lawyering, real estate agenting, etc.

Traditional supply-demand economics assumes a 1:1 ratio where there is one buyer and one seller and there is some amount of economic surplus that the two parties play tug-of-war with. Traditional supply-demand economics works great when buyer and seller negotiate directly.

But in middleman industries, the middlemen can hop on either side, and play for either team. They are able to effectively scope out surplus from either or both sides, predatorize the weaker side with almost _no risk_ to themselves, and destroy a lot of the potential realized value between the original parties in their process.

So basically it creates a "parallel" economy where prices aren't determined by supply or demand, but rather by fear and a kind of high-stakes prisoner's dilemma between buyers and sellers where buyers and sellers bear all the risk and lawyers and agents reap all of the rewards.

11
ShabbyDoo 4 days ago 1 reply      
There is one restriction in particular which I believe has a huge effect on the legal industry's slow pace of change -- only lawyers may own companies which provide legal services to clients (vs. in-house counsel). So, want to start an online, virtual law firm? Either act as a referral service or make sure you never want a non-attorney to have equity in your company. Why does this rule exist? I haven't a clue.
12
Duff 4 days ago 0 replies      
A: Because they get other jobs that meet their income requirements.

People who make it through law school usually aren't idiots. So if they fail to achieve a satisfactory career in Law, they move into other areas. Attorneys work in government as political appointees, lobbyists and policy people; they work as corporate managers; they run businesses in areas other than law, etc.

Also consider that the barriers of entry for lawyers are high. Referrals are a huge source of business, so it's difficult to start a new firm without alot of capital.

13
wtvanhest 4 days ago 3 replies      
The unobvious but major thing missed is that hiring the wrong lawyer is far more expensive than an additional $300 per hour.

Since the only way to know if you are hiring the right lawyer is to base it on brand, top firms have a lot of pricing power and middle firms dissapear.

14
larrys 4 days ago 0 replies      
The article doesn't address what could be the most important factors.

First, your relationship with a lawyer is a personal relationship. And it's hard to break a personal relationship over a yearly price increase of single digit %.

And lawyers regularly wine and dine and become "friends" with their clients. The client really thinks that the lawyer likes them. If you've ever worked in sales you know what I mean by this. Lawyers are nice and friendly and that insures the loyalty of the client. When I was in high school I delivered gifts to the clients of a small law firm. I remember the partner deciding who got what gift (based on amount of work). This wasn't a bribe. Just a thank you to insure ongoing loyalty. (Maybe some were bribes of course).

Remember rates aren't doubled they go up a little each time they are raised. If you are already paying $400 per hour you aren't bolting for $425/hr. It's not like rates are doubling in a year.

The other reason is FUD. People convince themselves and rationalize that a certain lawyer at a certain rate will get the job done. They are afraid of switching lawyers and having a bad outcome.

So the above is certainly one of the things that keeps legal rates high.

What about new startup lawyers? Well the way any professional service works you start out with whatever work you can get at whatever price you can get (let's say). Then as you gain clients you slowly wean yourself from the low priced clients (by taking longer, not returning calls etc.) and they get the message. This leaves you with the best clients who you can raise rates on (because they like you and are fearful of changing).

So even if there was a group that charged low rates (to corporate buyers) over time their rates would rise as well. Because of the person factor I mentioned in the first paragraph.

Finally, even though lawyers can now market (I remember when they couldn't) they won't "sell" in the traditional sense. If I sell a service (like web hosting web design or unix sysadmin) I can pickup the phone and call people. I can go door to door. I can place ads. Lawyers can place ads of course but that's not the most effective way to sell personal services. Then you are waiting for someone to contact you. Selling is selling. If lawyers were ethically allowed and it was acceptable practice to "cold call" I believe you would see rates dropping in certain types of work.

15
lionhearted 4 days ago 0 replies      
Having worked some recently with lawyers, their chief value is similar to that of the historical value of having assassins on the king's payroll. The power is not in using the assassins, which is expensive and dangerous, but in that people are more scared to provoke and escalate with someone known to employ assassins.
16
lallysingh 4 days ago 0 replies      
There are a few things to add in here (IANAL, but I'm close to quite a few).

A major element is billable hours.

When you want to reduce a bill for a client, during bad times or whatever, you can always under-bill the number of hours spent. Or change the mix of high-low-rate hours expended. Reducing the number of hours billed doesn't (necessarily) reduce the number of billable hours you can credit the attorneys.

While you can have equal salaries across departments, you have bonuses, which depend on how many hours you billed. Also, #billable hours is a great sort criteria for who's first on the shit-list and first on the promote-list.

17
jasonkester 4 days ago 0 replies      
Same reason so many of us here can bill out at several hundred dollars an hour even though there is an unlimited supply of people calling themselves computer programmers who will happily try to do the same job for $7/hr.

Valuable stuff is worth paying more for.

18
tomkarlo 3 days ago 0 replies      
I used to "hire" law firms regularly for my clients. What's not being mentioned here is that since in most cases the individuals _choosing_ the law firms for large financial and M&A transactions (which represent the real meat of the "big law" business) generally aren't directly paying the legal fees, there's relatively little incentive for them to push for lower prices. (And if I remember correctly, if those legal fees are part of a financing transaction, they don't count against the businesses "normalized/adjusted" income, either.)

If I'm the CFO of a company that's doing a $500M financing round, am I really going to choose a lesser law firm to save maybe $100K in bills? I'm already probably paying the bankers $5M or more to do the deal in fees (arguably, that's the real gouging, given that the work doesn't really scale with the deal size but the fees do.) If I choose a cheaper firm, and they mess up (and frankly, all the firms make mistakes, especially when you have junior associates drafting filing docs) it could cost me my job.

(The most cost-conscious clients I've seen were entrepreneurs or at least majority owners of businesses - they saw those fees as coming right of out their own pockets, so they tried to do whatever they could to keep them down)

In-house counsels are definitely trying to push down costs by doing more things internally or offshoring more mundane stuff like day-to-day contracts. But at the same time, most of your in-house counsels come from a big law firm, so they're unlikely to break away completely, either.

19
tsotha 4 days ago 0 replies      
The same reason professional athletes make so much money even though high schools and colleges are full of kids who want to play for a living. Just having a good lawyer isn't enough - he needs to be better than the lawyer on the other side.
20
nextparadigms 4 days ago 7 replies      
Any way this market can be disrupted? Maybe through some more efficient/decentralized/AI-based services that would do much of the lawyer's jobs, forcing them to reduce their billing rates?
21
simonbrown 4 days ago 1 reply      
Surely that's an opportunity for a new firm? The demand is obviously there (plenty of people don't see a lawyer for financial reasons), as is the supply (apparently).
22
rayiner 3 days ago 0 replies      
To respond to one point in the article:

> Associate salaries are not an efficient, free market.

That is probably true, but the evidence supplied in the article supports an inference the opposite of the one made by the author. If everybody in New York pays $160k as an informal arrangement, that suggests artificially low salaries, not artificially high ones. Why would a bunch of firms act informally in concert to artificially drive up their costs?

And associate salaries, of course, have only an indirect effect on legal fees. The price of a good is directly influenced only by supply and the demand curve. The costs of making the good are irrelevant except to the extent they influence supply. Clients, of course, don't care what associates make. The amount they will pay for services is entirely a function of their demand and the supply of law firms willing to do the work.

23
mfaustman 4 days ago 0 replies      
This whole argument that this is "not a free market" is silly. None of the factors pointed to here would actually limit choice or restrain price movement. It is a free market, but that does not mean that the market lacks information asymmetries that would artificially morph prices.

As Antone points out, there is a strong quality perception issue. Ironically, it is the Bottom Line Law Group that is fighting this perception of quality on a daily basis (vs a Wilson or Fenwick). Thus it does not matter if the supply increases if the consumer perceives the bottom-end as an inferior good.

This skewed perception is rooted in a total lack of transparency in the legal industry. This lack of transparency limits the consumer's ability to find lawyers like Antone, and keeps the cost of standard information and a simple opinion high.

I agree with Antone that the industry is on the brink of change, but it is a BIG messed up industry. Change will come in many forms within the industry's mirco verticals. It will come from networks of smaller more specialized law firms such as the Bottom Line Law Group, and from innovations which create more transparency in the industry to find qualified attorneys and access quality information.

24
shingen 4 days ago 0 replies      
It's why Legalzoom is doing so well.
25
pbreit 4 days ago 0 replies      
The fee overage acts as insurance. Since the downside of legal services (no matter the competence) is significant, consumers believe the extra money they are paying will help mitigate any unfortunate circumstances.
26
itmag 3 days ago 2 replies      
HN, help me make up my mind: is an abundance of lawyers to be seen as a necessary component of a complex society? Or is it a symptom of decay? Are lawyers necessary agents of the greater good or are they vampiric rent-seekers on a byzantine legal morass?

I'm not trying to be clever; I genuinely want to figure this out.

27
physicslover 3 days ago 0 replies      
My naive understanding is that only lawyers can own and operate a law firm. In other words one can't form the equivalent of an HMO and hire a bunch of lawyers and pay them a salary and offer legal counsel to individuals.

I believe this is mandated by bar associations on ethical grounds, though I find it absurd. This artificially inflates the cost of legal services.

28
andrewtbham 4 days ago 0 replies      
The supply of lawyers is high, but the supply of good, experienced lawyers with good reputations is lower.
29
Uchikoma 3 days ago 0 replies      
What I found interesting in dealing with layers: they charge high rates even for standard contracts, EULAs etc. and when asked if one is safe with their advice, only tell you that courts can decide in whatever way they want - so no.
30
crusso 3 days ago 0 replies      
Think about this. If you have too many doctors, they run out of sick people and their prices go down. They don't go out and start injuring people to make business for themselves.

Lawyers do just that. If they don't have work, they can attack innocent citizens to create work for themselves. Frivolous law suits create new market pressure for more attorneys. Whenever you see slip-n-fall attorney commercials, that's just an window into the parasitically-based ecosystem that lawyers operate in.

Failing that, lawyers are the most likely profession to go into politics and create more laws that need what to sort them out? Oh yeah, more lawyers.

It's a troubling profession that needs to be considered carefully when you're making decisions about the economic impact of laws upon society.

31
puppop 4 days ago 2 replies      
Because there are no H-1B lawyers.
32
johnnygleeson 4 days ago 0 replies      
For anyone interested there is a good book called 'The End of Lawyers?' by Richard Susskind, a visiting Professor at Oxford, that discusses the ways in which technology will gradually commoditize many elements of traditional legal practice.

http://www.amazon.com/End-Lawyers-Rethinking-Nature-Services...

Chapters

1. Introduction - the Beginning of the End?
2. The Path to Commoditization
3. Trends in Technology
4. Disruptive Legal Technologies
5. The Future for In-house Lawyers
6. Resolving and Avoiding Disputes
7. Access to Law and to Justice
8. Conclusion - the Future of Lawyers.

33
joshuaheard 3 days ago 0 replies      
Simple, because government keeps passing more and more laws that create more ways to become liable. While there may be growing supply of lawyers, there is a growing demand due to this explosive growth of new laws. Stop the government from controlling every inch of our lives, and you will see lawyers getting cheaper.

I also agree with the previous reply that this article only deals with the 10% of lawyers who work in big firms. The other 90% of lawyers that don't work in big firms are out there competing everyday for your business and are charging reasonable rates.

34
jriley 4 days ago 0 replies      
I would add:

1) Pay can be high with win/lose stakes

2) Different pay models (contingency)

35
ktizo 4 days ago 0 replies      
Perhaps it is because lawyers are, by definition, the experts at defending dubious practices.
36
nwenzel 4 days ago 0 replies      
Supply Induced Demand. They're out there, so you need one too. The other guy has 2, you better get 2, too. No such thing as an "excess supply."
37
bonesinger 4 days ago 2 replies      
This article misses one point, law school is expensive!

Students generally will want to pay their 6-figure debts with a matching salary.

When you don't have to worry about a huge debt, it allows you to be riskier and try other avenues, such as public interest, or work in small lesser known industries

38
GigabyteCoin 3 days ago 0 replies      
Who said there is an excess supply of lawyers?
39
kwekly 4 days ago 2 replies      
"Back to Econ 101. What happens when you double the price of something? Demand for it decreases."

Pretty sure what he's describing is sliding the supply curve straight up, which has exactly the opposite effect.

17
SSH Key Audit on Github (required) github.com
290 points by ericelias  3 days ago   105 comments top 23
1
pilif 3 days ago 2 replies      
What makes me the most happy about this is that they ask for the password in order to add a key now.

I was always very afraid of XSS attacks (I know - there shouldn't be any - but there could and were, though not for this) that would add another key, so I always hoped they would add that additional bit of protection.

As such: Another huge thanks to @homakov for forcing the issue.

2
memset 3 days ago 6 replies      
Here is the command you use to obtain your fingerprint for this audit:

`ssh-keygen -lf ~/.ssh/id_rsa.pub`

3
spicyj 3 days ago 0 replies      
The accompanying email:

  A security vulnerability was recently discovered that made it possible
for an attacker to add new SSH keys to arbitrary GitHub user accounts.
This would have provided an attacker with clone/pull access to
repositories with read permissions, and clone/pull/push access to
repositories with write permissions. As of 5:53 PM UTC on Sunday,
March 4th the vulnerability no longer exists.

While no known malicious activity has been reported, we are taking
additional precautions by forcing an audit of all existing SSH keys.

# Required Action

Since you have one or more SSH keys associated with your GitHub
account you must visit https://github.com/settings/ssh/audit to
approve each valid SSH key.

Until you have approved your SSH keys, you will be unable to
clone/pull/push your repositories over SSH.

# Status

We take security seriously and recognize this never should have
happened. In addition to a full code audit, we have taken the
following measures to enhance the security of your account:

- We are forcing an audit of all existing SSH keys
- Adding a new SSH key will now prompt for your password
- We will now email you any time a new SSH key is added to your
account
- You now have access to a log of account changes in your Account
Settings page
Sincerely, The GitHub Team

--- https://github.com support@github.com

4
rdl 3 days ago 6 replies      
Why are ONLY keys at risk, which this implies?

Presumably someone could have added a key, done evil, then removed the key. Evil includes all sorts of interesting things, like checking in code under the name of an existing contributor. This could potentially be really subtle and would be difficult to find in an audit later.

(Remember the stink over OpenBSD potentially having backdoors in the IPsec stack, revealed in late 2010? http://blogs.csoonline.com/1296/an_fbi_backdoor_in_openbsd)

5
andrewjshults 3 days ago 2 replies      
They also did a notification when you tried to push:

ERROR: Hi andrewjshults, it's GitHub. We're doing an SSH key audit.
Please visit https://github.com/settings/ssh/audit/<removed>;
to approve this key so we know it's safe.
Fingerprint: <removed>
fatal: The remote end hung up unexpectedly

A little weird to see when you're doing a push but good that they put it in there. Their email got flagged as bulk in gmail so until I saw this I didn't know they were doing the audit.

6
pak 3 days ago 3 replies      
As an interesting side effect, they will have pretty exact stats on how many active users they have; might help them sunset old accounts or move them to the slowest servers.

(Because of the offline nature of most git actions and different habits on pushing/pulling, it's probably hard to otherwise estimate how much a user cares about their github.)

7
avar 3 days ago 4 replies      
Correct me if I'm wrong but the nature of the vulnerability was that someone who's not you had to submit a page with certain POST variables they could have determined after the fact to be malicious while logged in.

So the fact that they're sending out this E-Mail tells us that they either don't keep logs on requests + POST contents, or that they haven't had the time or inclination to analyze this data if they have it.

8
jgrahamc 3 days ago 2 replies      
It would be interesting to know the details of the vulnerability. Given that they've patched it, it would be good to see what the error was in case others are affected.

Was this Rails-related and what was it?

9
spullara 3 days ago 0 replies      
I guess this answers my questions about how long this vulnerability existed (a long time) and whether or not they could verify no other accounts were compromised (no).
10
joshklein 3 days ago 1 reply      
Several comments below praise the Github team response to this vulnerability. I agree. But it should also be mentioned that the first email I sent to my company this morning read, "should [our product] source code be in the cloud?"
11
finnh 3 days ago 0 replies      
Sadly the link in the email isn't direct (it's a tracking link through "news.github.com"), so Thunderbird flags it as a possible phishing attempt =(

Edit: github send out an email with a link to the ssh audit page; that's the email to which I refer

12
niels_olson 3 days ago 5 replies      
Um, is anybody else having the experience that their keys really do seem to be different?
13
rwmj 3 days ago 0 replies      
http://unix.stackexchange.com/questions/2116/given-keys-in-s...

This script is very useful when doing this audit, because you can turn your .ssh/authorized_keys file into a list of key names and fingerprints to check against what github is showing you.

14
skrebbel 2 days ago 0 replies      
Damn I envy the GitHub guys. They can send a mail to their users about SSH Keys and nearly all users simply understand it and get it over with.

In any other business, the result of a similar mail would be an overloaded helpdesk, a significant reputation hit and a massive bucketload of competitor FUD.

15
tomjen3 2 days ago 1 reply      
Why are you guys praising GitHub? They basically screwed up thrice: first by not catching such an obvious flaw (granted it should have been changed in Rails, but still), second by breaking half the scripts that rely on their service and finally by sending such an obnoxious email (really required action? Who the hell to do you think you are?).

Anyway it is pretty moot at this point since I have long ago forgotten my password and changing the orgion to somebody else is pretty easy.

That said, can anybody recommend alternatives? I know Bitbucket and they seem pretty great, especially as they allow private repositories, but it seems the consensus here doesn't like them for some reason?

16
benatkin 3 days ago 0 replies      
It was easier for me to just delete all of the keys. I had some I didn't need anymore. I also didn't pick great names for the keys I had. It's easy to add a key so instead of checking the fingerprints I can just create a new key.
17
Ecio78 3 days ago 1 reply      
I've just registered yesterday on Github (it's suggested for Coursera's Saas Class i'm attending) but they've sent it to me too, even though the vulnerability has already been resolved before my account was created. Maybe they've not checked account age..
18
zby 3 days ago 1 reply      
I've just seen it and I headed to Hacker News to verify if it was legit :)
19
homakov 3 days ago 1 reply      
Is it a good idea to check created_at != updated_at ?

People update public keys very rarely.
I would even say NEVER.

Just make an sql against your table to see what are the most possibly are malicious keys.

(i see no reason to update timestamps doing 'the trick'. I believe attackers didn't)

20
levigross 3 days ago 0 replies      
They also added a audit log so you will be able to track and address any future issues.. https://github.com/settings/security
21
ricardobeat 3 days ago 0 replies      
Did this change just disable re-use of deploy keys across multiple repos?
22
my8bird 2 days ago 0 replies      
while this was a good response to their security issue a little heads up would have been good. they broke all of our auto builds and by the time we figured it out the guy who's key was used for the builds was gone on his vacation. luckily, we got ahold of him prior to him turning his phone off.
23
homakov 3 days ago 1 reply      
you got balls guys. It is hard to force everyone to do something but you did it. Kudos

also, if we go back few years ago this way would be a bit secure to handle keys
@key.body = params..
@key.title = params..
I am sure update_attributes is good choice when you got 5+ fields and update database scheme pretty frequently.
Just my 2 cents

18
Apple releases Ipad 3 apple.com
283 points by craigbellot  3 days ago   327 comments top 48
1
Aloisius 3 days ago  replies      
It should be noted that the limited data plans for both AT&T and Verizon mean that at the max 4G speed of 73 Mbps, you could use all your bandwidth for the entire month in less than three and a half minutes (2 GB plan).

The overages of $10/GB per month on both services mean once you go over your plan, you'll be looking at a little over $5/minute in new charges.

It is possible (though highly unlikely) to rack up over $200K/month in bandwidth charges if you managed to find an empty 4G cell for a month.

Sadly Sprint, which has unlimited 4G last i checked, was absent from the release of the new iPad.

2
guelo 3 days ago  replies      
The world of LCD panels baffles me. For some reason Apple can sell an iPad with a 2048x1536 IPS screen for $500 but your average $1,000 laptop comes with a crappy 1366x768 TFT screen or maybe 1920x1080 if you're lucky.
3
Xuzz 3 days ago 7 replies      
Although the HN title (currently) says "Ipad 3", Apple seems to actually be calling it the new "iPad" (edit: "new iPad", not "New iPad"). It's a bit confusing: next year, is it then the "old iPad"?

But, we don't really have that issue with many other Apple products (iPod nano, all Macs, etc) that use the same naming scheme. So we'll see how bad it actually ends up.

4
tomkinstinch 3 days ago 5 replies      
The 264dpi screen is a big deal. I was at a workshop with Edward Tufte this week. He extoled the virtures of using paper for information-rich data transfer. Having paper-like screen resolution is an obvious advantage for disseminating information.

I'd like to see a startup take on PowerPoint by releasing software to compose iPad-friendly presentations. Think one-pagers full of text, graphs, and figures. On an iPad they could be interactive, annotated, and linked together. Every iPad-toting meeting goer could scan a QR code on the way in to get on the same page, and then sit and discuss the content. Gone will be the days of presenters doling out bullet points at excruciatingly slow pace.

Having read Isaacson's biography of Jobs, it seems that Apple may be gunning to disrupt the textbook market. Having paper-like resolution is a great step in that direction.

5
afterburner 3 days ago 6 replies      
It's 10% heavier:

http://www.engadget.com/2012/03/07/new-ipad-vs-ipad-2/

Yes, I know why, but I was hoping against hope it would get a little lighter. But I didn't think it would. Maybe next year, when there's no reason to up the resolution.

6
huggyface 3 days ago 1 reply      
I have four Android smartphones and two tablets, but this is the first Apple product that has really opened my wallet. Literally, my wallet is sitting open.

But their store keeps crashing and going back to the offline state. Called their phone sales and they couldn't help me because they use the online system to enter orders. :-)

Ah well, I'll get one soon enough.

7
_djo_ 3 days ago 1 reply      
It's 'the new iPad', not the iPad 3. Apple is evidently going to follow the same pattern as it does with its computers and is doing away with a sequential numbering system.

So the next iPad will also just be 'the new iPad' the same way that every year we see 'the new MacBook Pro'. The iPhone will probably follow suit.

8
tvon 3 days ago 3 replies      
I'm still somewhat amazed they haven't found a better way to handle updating the store. I understand that there is a marketing aspect to taking it offline, but it should be back online and updated immediately after the event is over.
9
jevinskie 3 days ago 3 replies      
No mention of bumping the RAM from 512 MB to 1 GB. Even my TF101 Tegra 2 tablet has 1 GB of RAM. I wonder how much the 4x larger retina display assets will increase RAM usage.

Edit: I guess it does have 1 GB of RAM. http://chronicwire.com/the-ipad-3-has-1gb-of-ram

10
cube13 3 days ago 0 replies      
Might want to double check your math there.

42 Mbps is 5.25 MB per second. At that rate, it'll take about 950 seconds to download that. That's about 15 minutes.

The more common 2 GB plan would be up in about 6 minutes.

11
thematt 3 days ago 4 replies      
Nothing mentioned about Siri. That is surprising, because I thought that inclusion would be a slam-dunk.
12
nextparadigms 3 days ago 4 replies      
Since the pixels are multiplied by 4, and the GPU only by 2, does this means the real world performance (in games) of the iPad 3 GPU should be half the performance of iPad 2?
13
FaceKicker 3 days ago 3 replies      
Is it just me or do the comparison pics of the old iPad screen vs. new retina display on this page look exactly the same? http://www.apple.com/ipad/features/

Edit: never mind, there's a zoom widget I didn't notice.

14
Steko 3 days ago 2 replies      
Apparently it's just "iPad". Not 3, not HD. Maybe people will always call it the iPad 3 or maybe we'll end up calling it the 2012 iPad or the 3rd gen or something.
15
ot 3 days ago 1 reply      
Pre-ordering will be a lottery. I've been trying to get to the online Store for more than half an hour and I get either server error, "we'll be back soon" or incredibly slow connection (which then fails). I managed to get once to iPad page but clicking on any link brought me back to server error.
16
benwerd 3 days ago 0 replies      
I'm pretty psyched about the 1080p video. We just released our iPad app, which compresses video and shares it with people / teams, and my hope is that this will drive further adoption. Also, I want one, and I want to be able to share the video I take with it.

I do resent how poorly my iPad 1 performs now though. I only bought it 18 months ago!

17
ericd 3 days ago 3 replies      
I'm always kind of surprised that the online store doesn't update instantly. I have to imagine that their "We'll be back soon" splash page kills a lot of potential impulse purchases.

It seems to be back now, but the iPhone is showing "From $0", and clicking on the iPad gives an "Oops" error page. Couldn't this all be worked out in staging?

18
abruzzi 3 days ago 0 replies      
I'm glad they didn't call it "iPad HD". Call me pedantic, but HD should be limited to ITU 'HDTV' broadcast spec, and the iPad 3's resolution doesn't fit. Instead it just confuses things with imprecise language.
19
icki 3 days ago 2 replies      
I'm excited that they're addressing user complaints about 'content creation'. iPhoto looks particularly impressive; it looks like people will be using their tablet devices for more than just content consumption now.
20
marze 2 days ago 0 replies      
In the presentation, Cook refers to the "new iPad" with no "3". Inside Apple, they probably have viewed what we call the iPad 1 and iPad 2 as the prequel 1 and prequel 2 to the actual iPad, which is only now finished.
21
shad0wfax 2 days ago 1 reply      
Wonder how many are willing to upgrade from Ipad 2? I have an Ipad 2, I don't see a need to upgrade.

I am sure the tablet devices will follow a similar cycle as iPhone. Upgrade once in 2 years. I am beginning to wonder, the only aspects that might make me want to upgrade to IPad 4 next year, could be faster processor and more memory, thus making the overall experience better. I am sure Apple will have some exclusive software that will run only on their latest device (ex: Siri), that might force me to upgrade. Given how I use the Ipad right now - Videos, Netflix and eBooks (very limited browsing), I am ok with what I have now.

Will be good to know some statistics on how many upgraded to Ipad 2 from Ipad 1.

22
julianb 3 days ago 0 replies      
Looks like the iPad2 is available for $399 now.
23
kenrikm 3 days ago 0 replies      
The Apple Store was live for about two minutes but a DDOS from everyone trying to pre-order brought it down and they went back to "We'll be back soon"

I would love to see how many hits they are getting.

24
joshAg 2 days ago 0 replies      
Welp, this does it for me. As soon as i can get a completely carrier unlocked iPad in the bay area, I'm going to switch from my laptop (x61t) to this new iPad plus a dock and a BT keyboard and mouse. All I really need is an ssh/X-window server app, and I can run all my programs on my server or desktop.
25
mikemoka 2 days ago 1 reply      
Everyone is speaking about bandwidth speed, but what about the first major product launch of the post-Steve era? What was your impression about it? A little bit of something clearly wasn't there if you ask me
26
wmf 3 days ago 0 replies      
"Quad-core graphics" seems like misleading marketing to trick people into thinking A5X is equivalent to Tegra 3; this seems like a shame since Apple could presumably win without it.
27
leeoniya 3 days ago 1 reply      
so Apple ditches Flash for HTML5, but requires Quicktime to play the Retina tech video?

http://www.apple.com/ipad/features/

28
juiceandjuice 3 days ago 0 replies      
I think this link is titled wrong.

Nowhere is it referred to as iPad 3, iPad HD or anything like that. It's just "The new iPad"

29
MatthewB 3 days ago 0 replies      
I'm wondering if my grandfathered unlimited plan with AT&T can be applied to the iPad?
30
MatthewPhillips 3 days ago 2 replies      
Does this not include an update to iOS?
31
munchor 3 days ago 2 replies      
I hate it that I can't watch the videos on Apple's website, and to me, this is just a reminder of that, oh why?
32
lelf 3 days ago 1 reply      
Is me the only one was secretly hoping for tactile feedback?
33
cicloid 3 days ago 0 replies      
Isn't the LTE migration in part a cost saving measure for carriers and later on the final user?

From what I remember, LTE does pump more data in a more cheap way; and the infrastructure for it is more cheap also.

34
tlb 3 days ago 3 replies      
Resolutionary. What a godawful marketing department word. The first thing you see. I miss Steve.
35
warmfuzzykitten 3 days ago 0 replies      
Apple can't keep the Apple store up. Why are they surprised by the load?
36
eternalmatt 3 days ago 0 replies      
It sincerely bothers me that no where no the apple.com site, has Apple referred to his as the iPad 3. The closest thing to a new name that they've given is "The new iPad".

Please everyone stop calling this the iPad 3.

37
jiggy2011 3 days ago 1 reply      
I wonder what the implications of this will be for web design?

A website built with a fixed with 1000 pixel design is suddenly going to look pretty silly on a new ipad.

Of course if you design around large resolutions you will marginalize those with standard displays.

38
jorisw 1 day ago 0 replies      
1) It's spelled iPad.
2) It's not officially called iPad 3, just 'the new iPad'.
39
Fizzer 3 days ago 2 replies      
Does anyone know if OpenGL's 1024x1024 image size restriction is being raised as well? Seems pretty limiting to not even be able to make an image that's as big as the screen without tiling four of them together.
40
kenrikm 3 days ago 0 replies      
Ouch, Just ordered 32gb 4g (AT&T) $780 with tax.
If I were not using it for development it would hurt a lot more however it still is about double what I would be comfortable with for my own use.
41
xpose2000 3 days ago 0 replies      
During iPhone 4S release, who cares about 4G. iPad HD, all hail 4G!
42
incanus77 3 days ago 1 reply      
It's spelled "iPad" and it's not the 3.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to get back to my Desk 4 and have some Breakfast 2.

43
dlsym 3 days ago 0 replies      
Apple releases Ipad 3 - and no one cares.
44
cageface 3 days ago 1 reply      
It says a lot that the longest thread thread here is about data plans. I guess this is a logical iteration of the iPad 2 but they really seem to have left the door open for an Android manufacturer to leap ahead here. Both this and the 4S feel like Apple on autopilot.
45
Osiris 3 days ago 4 replies      
I think Apple is doing a great thing by pushing up display resolutions. I can't believe that PC manufacturers still REFUSE to produce laptops (at least consumer grade) with any resolutions higher than 1366x768.

I've been watching consumer laptop sales for a year and the only one I've seen with a higher resolutions is a 17" beast. Luckily I got a 15" Macbook Pro from work with a 1680x1050.

Everyone's known since the iPhone 4 that Apple would do a hi-res Tablet display, but PC manufacturers still refuse to innovate and put in hi-res displays in their laptops.

I refuse to try to write code with only 768 vertical lines.

46
jcfrei 3 days ago 1 reply      
I feel like apple is already slipping without steve jobs. calling the new ipad "the new ipad" certainly doesnt seem like a smart move (same goes with the iphone 4s - wouldnt you rather have an iphone 5?). and furthermore, there's again very little innovation in the device, the outside hasnt changed at all, albeit being a little thicker. just improving display resolution seems like a change most ipad2 users won't appreciate enough. I just feel like that apple is now just draining every penny from it's customers with small innovations and a huge brand - while still being unable to decide what to do with it's stockpiles of money.
47
scrame 3 days ago 0 replies      
Hooray! Another iteration of an expensive toy for tech managers trying to justify their jobs and people who think that money buys taste!
48
robomartin 3 days ago 0 replies      
Why I will not be buying an iPad 3:

- Resolution: Who cares.
- Camera: Who cares.
- 4GLTE with a ridiculous price and cap. No thanks

I don't think there's anything really compelling about the iPad 3 for the masses. Sure, they'll sell a bunch of them, mainly because, well, that's what they are selling now.

Being on WiFi most of the time I don't see any motivation to get an iPad 3 over my iPad 2. Most of the time the iPad 2 is used to casually browse the web on the couch, play chess and mess around with other games. In none of these use cases has the iPad 2 screen resolution proven to be an issue at all.

Once usage becomes more serious iPad 2 goes on the shelf and I/we switch to computers. All of our home computers are equipped with a minimum of two 24inch 1920 x 1200 pixel screens. There is no way the iPad 2 or 3 experience can compete with this at any level.

I think Apple needs to fix the issue of carriers gouging customers for connectivity. We have four iPhones and two iPads. Why are we paying six fixed-cost, limited usage data plans when the devices are on WiFi most of the time? Why is it that we can't buy a "family" plan, if you will, and pay one fee for connectivity. That's what you do with DSL: You pay one amount for a data rate and it doesn't matter if you have one or fifteen computers attached to the service.

The next revolution in mobile might not come until the recurring costs involved in using these devices come under control.

19
Hidden gems in Mac OS X dtrace.org
281 points by ahalan  18 hours ago   35 comments top 10
1
Terretta 14 hours ago 1 reply      
Not sure if it qualifies as a "hidden gem" in OS X itself, but the new Signature management in Preview, using the built in iSight to scan a handwritten sig off a sheet of paper, is an amazing time saver.

// Number 8, bitesize.d, rocks.

2
LeafStorm 13 hours ago 5 replies      
Honestly, so far none of these have been the major performance bottleneck on my Macbook. For me, it's been RAM. Even though I have 4 GB of RAM, I have at least 3 GB wired or active at any given time - Chrome alone takes up roughly 1 GB of it, with all its helper processes. But unfortunately I really have no idea how to bring my RAM usage down.
3
euroclydon 15 hours ago 1 reply      
One of the features that differentiated Macs from Windows early on for me was how they systemized PDFs. Not only could it read and write PDFs, it was eager to do so.
4
mcav 17 hours ago 4 replies      
Is there anything that lets you view how much network _bandwidth_ an application is using? I've looked before with no luck.
5
lysium 6 hours ago 2 replies      
I once tried to look into dtrace because I was missing strace from Linux. I gave up when I realized I had to learn a whole language just to do what strace did for me on Linux.

Now I'm enlightened to see there is dtruss. It works different than strace and needs privileges, but I'm glad that I've found the strace alternative.

6
brown9-2 11 hours ago 2 replies      
About "why is my Macbook fan so loud?", has anyone successfully attempted to clean out dust from inside the laptop to reduce the fan noise?
7
vasco 7 hours ago 1 reply      
>> Why Unix? Mac OS X is Unix under the hood: the Darwin kernel

Just beeing pedantic but I think Darwin is the operating system, not the kernel. The kernel is Mach 3.

8
timc3 15 hours ago 0 replies      
Excellent list, one of those things that I keep coming back to hacker news for.
9
teeray 3 hours ago 0 replies      
I never knew about this tool--my mind has been blown. Thank you OP!
10
atopuzov 16 hours ago 0 replies      
Nice one. Getting to know DTrace was on my todo list for the next few moths.
20
Cursor:none abuse (trick users into clicking Facebook 'like') jack-shepherd.co.uk
271 points by jackshepherd  4 days ago   65 comments top 20
1
duopixel 4 days ago 6 replies      
A much more straightforward abuse would be pointer-events: none. Just position an element over the 'like' button and let clicks pass through it: http://jsfiddle.net/rVxTn/
2
Zirro 4 days ago 1 reply      
It should be noted that the NoScript add-on for Firefox prevents this from working through it's Clickjacking-protection (and possibly a couple of more, cursor-specific tricks). People need to know that it does more than block JavaScript.
3
epochwolf 4 days ago 1 reply      
Interesting. Chrome's "Under the Hood > Content Settings > Mouse Cursor" setting doesn't affect this. I would have thought it would prevent this.

Also, stuff like this is why we can't have nice things in browsers. You can't trust the internet.

4
chc 4 days ago 2 replies      
For everyone talking about JavaScript: As far as I can tell, this is fundamentally a CSS vulnerability. Something quite similar ought to be possible without JavaScript " it would just be a bit less elegant. For example, you could just make a pixel grid of divs to simulate mousemove events and position the fake cursor with CSS hover styles.
5
RandallBrown 4 days ago 2 replies      
I love it. It seems to work fine in Firefox, although the real cursor starts flashing when it's above the Like button.
6
superchink 4 days ago 4 replies      
Odd effect. I see two mouse cursors (Mac OS X 10.7.3 + Chrome Dev Channel).
7
ck2 4 days ago 1 reply      
Good luck faking my inverted extra large windows cursor.
8
pnewhook 4 days ago 1 reply      
This is brilliant, but now it's only a matter of time until it's in actual use. Sort of like how evercookie was a clever hack meant to call attention to privacy concerns, then was put into actual production sites.
9
mkopinsky 4 days ago 0 replies      
I tried clicking "Fork me on github" but couldn't because I couldn't position the real mouse pointer in the right place.
10
jusob 4 days ago 0 replies      
I guess I should use this as an opportunity to remind people of the "Zscaler Likejacking Prevention" plugin for Firefox/Chrome/Safari/Opera (check the corresponding add-on stores). I use the setting "Request confirmation for all Facebook widgets" so that it asked me for confirmation before sending the Like request.
11
EmmanuelOga 2 days ago 0 replies      
Speaking about prevention (for the specific case of the like button), I have privoxy (1) setup to disable fb plugins with rules like these:

{+block{Facebook "like" and similar tracking URLs.}}
www.facebook.com/(extern|plugins)/(login_status|like(box)?|activity|fan)\.php

{+block{Stupid facebook xd_proxy.php.}}
http://static.ak.fbcdn.net/connect/xd_proxy.php.*

The second one also removes an annoyance I see from time to time when I bypass the proxy which makes the page request again and again that xd_proxy.php file.

If I really want to like something, I disable the proxy and reload the page. I use Proxy SwitchySharp (2) for chrome to do the setup for me in pages I visit often.

1: http://www.privoxy.org/
2: https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/dpplabbmogkhghncfb...

12
Maro 3 days ago 1 reply      
I use Ghostery to wipe out Facebook showing up elsewhere on the Internet.

http://www.ghostery.com

13
drucken 4 days ago 0 replies      
I have NoScript 2.3.1 in Firefox with the default settings, including Clearclick protection. I have no Facebook account and no scripting is enabled for this site, including JQuery.

The site is still able to disable my mouse over most of the screen.

Am I the only one?

14
smackfu 4 days ago 0 replies      
Cursor:none makes it cleaner, but it's not necessary. You could use a lighter cursor like cursor:crosshair or cursor:text along with the fake cursor, and I bet most people will still click using the fake one.

In fact, even if you can't change the cursor at all, you could easily create a swarm of fake cursors that would frustrate the hell out of the user.

15
TheMiddleMan 4 days ago 0 replies      
I forked this to use a different exploit which takes advantage of pointer-events: none.

https://github.com/Rob-ot/Fake-Mouse-Cursor

16
justindocanto 4 days ago 1 reply      
I have some input on your todo list:

If you give an id (or class) to your p tag that contains the links you said you wanted to make easier to click, then you could use css and easily add a :hover state. Then on the hover state just make the cursor normal so it's easier to click those links. Upon mouseout the cursor will go back to 'normal'. =)

17
cocoflunchy 4 days ago 0 replies      
I don't think I'm getting the desired result... my cursor disappears, and I all I see is a static one in the top left corner above a cropped "Like" button (in french though, that may be the problem).
See here : http://imageshack.us/f/836/28545472.jpg/
18
downandout 3 days ago 0 replies      
Is this news? Likejacking has been around for well over a year. Google it.
19
natmaster 4 days ago 1 reply      
In Firefox, the cursor flashes above the like button. Still easy to miss, but certainly not bad as it seems Chrome is.
20
AznHisoka 4 days ago 0 replies      
Nice, can I use this to trick people into clicking an affiliate link instead?
21
I'm an Engineer, Not a Compiler numbergrinder.com
258 points by Luyt  3 days ago   148 comments top 27
1
edw519 3 days ago  replies      
Imagine interviewing carpenters:

Method 1:

  How many ten penny nails in a pound?
Who makes better screwdrivers, Craftsman or Snap-on? Why?
What's your favorite toolbox? Why?
How can you tell when wood has been treated?
Why should you measure twice, cut once?
Which end of the hammer do you hold?

Method 2:

  Show me something you built. Describe what you did.
Cut this piece of wood according to these specs.

If you needed someone to build your house, which method would you choose?

2
raganwald 3 days ago 5 replies      
I'm going to take the incredibly unpopular stance that nano-questions are not considered harmful. It's true that only asking nano-questions, or emphasizing them, or thinking that a good engineer must necessarily be able to answer all of the nano-questions perfectly are all broken ways of thinking.

But I look upon them as a kind of FizzBuzz. I know for a fact that while you can look them up in Google in 500 nanoseconds, experienced people doing hands-on work are going to be able to answer 2/3 nano-questions instantly. A few such questions sprinkled in the opening part of the interview are useful for weeding out the AbstractArchitectureAstronautFactoryFactories from the Programmers.

I'm not talking about esoterica, e.g. “What is protected inheritance in C++?” Lots of practitioners might say, correctly, that they never use it and can easily look it up if you need to know how it works. And sometimes answering esoterica correctly has negative correlation: You end up hiring people who are SmartButTooBusyPlayingWithCoolIdeasToGetStuffDone (I'm a prize example of this). But if a programmer says he's working with jQuery and I ask him to explain the difference between $(‘.foo.bar'), $(‘.foo,.bar') and $(‘.foo .bar'), I don't want to hear from him that he can look it up on the Internet, a jQuery programmer knows the answer.

It's acceptable for someone to say, “I don't know jQuery, but I'm a smart guy, I can figure it out on the job by looking stuff up,” but if he says he's been using it to build awesome HTML5 applications, I want to ask a few of these questions to make sure that I'm interviewing the person described on the resumé. A working programmer will know the answer to all of them, they shouldn't be hard. Interview pressure will cause some fuzz, so I don't expect perfect, maybe get 2/3 or 3/5 right and then we can talk about composition vs. inheritance or whatever other pet “Start a conversation with a smart person” question.

I want to be incredibly clear about this: I don't think that there is some strong correlation between memorizing things and being a good programmer. I don't think programmers should rush out and memorize trivia just to “pass” an interview. I look stuff up all the time in my job. But I do think that if the questions are easy and obvious to the working programmer, a few of them are an appropriate FizzBuzz for weeding out the folks who have falsified their hands-on experience.

By and large, interview questions are a touchy subject because they serve as a kind of metric for valuing people. So when I say I think it's cool to ask a few of these questions, some folks are going to think that I say that I measure their worth by whether they know a handful of bits of information. That's not the case. I'm not saying you're unworthy if you don't memorize things. But I am saying that if you claim to have a certain type of experience, there are some questions that are going to be dead easy for you to answer, and those questions are going to help us get to the good part of the interview very quickly.

p.s. List vs Set is a funny question. I can't imagine anyone with a degree being ignorant of the difference regardless of the programming language! It's also a good lead-in to a more experiential question: “Okay, can you describe a time you've used a set of some kind? What were you trying to accomplish? ..."

3
srean 3 days ago  replies      

  IDE dependency? Perhaps, but that isn't necessarily a bad
thing since that is representative of the tools they will
be using in the office.

Mine is perhaps an unpopular view.

I have come to believe that a decent programmer can and should be able to work well enough without an IDE. Presence of an IDE should be a sufficient condition not a necessary condition and I see so much of the latter.

IDEs are a crutch and there is a minimum level of "walking" that I expect from you without a crutch. If you have to reach for a crutch even for the simplest tasks you will earn my suspicion that you are not as comfortable as the other guy in more complicated operations. As for the claim that IDEs are a representative tool, it need not be true, more for a start up pushing the envelope. Who knows which new or non mainstream language/technology will be most suited for the job. There may not be any mature tooling available yet. I would want my co-hacker to be able to cope.

To give an example, there was this guy who claims he knows scala, but loathes working on a scala project because apparently there are no mature debugger for scala in eclipse. For him a eclipse plugin is a necessary condition.

I have seen too many programmers who program in the following mode - let me type something in the IDE. No errors detected ?, good. Let me test it on a few cases. Didn't work ? let me bump up the loop bound by one, no cookie ? let me decrement it by 2, didnt work, let me change the sign of this expression from positive to negative -...ad infinitum. I am more scared when such a code passes a few half assed test cases and the author cannot explain why the fix works.

I am not saying IDE are universally bad, quite the contrary. I advocate IDEs, but under two scenarios - (i) you are learning a new language (ii) you are an expert in that language. It is the overly populated middle ground, where it is used as a substitute for (a) thinking about your code or (b) knowing the language, that worries me.

4
trustfundbaby 3 days ago 1 reply      
This story is a bit embarrassing to me, but I'll tell it anyway, I went for an interview a while ago, where I got asked a basic Javascript question ... problem is, I haven't actually written actual javascript in almost 3-4 years (not simple, but not really that hard either) ... I've been writing jQuery, which is supposed to be javascript, but I digress ...

I know how Javascript works, scoping, hoisting blah blah blah, but I haven't written a for loop, or used an actual getByTagName or whatever in a long long time ... I told the interviewer this, and they seemed cool with that, they asked me to write in pseudo code and I did that, then they asked me to convert it to javascript ... hunh?

Well, I started going through line by line and started doing just that, asking them to refresh my memory about the syntax of stuff, even how to write a for loop (yup, its amazing what spending years using jQuery.each or $.each will do to you :P). Anyway, we concluded and though I was annoyed at how out of practice I was, I thought I did okay.

Well the recruiter who set it up, called me back (very nicely I might add) and gave me the feedback on the interview. The interviewer, (who had been very nice to me too btw), had eviscerated me, writing that I displayed a lack of Javascript fundamentals ... saying I didn't even know how to write a for loop.

I don't blame them, because we clearly shouldn't have been talking in the first place, they were obviously looking for a hard core Javascript guy ... and not person who could just build complex front end UIs & interactions using backbone/ember/spine/jquery/whatever, which is what I was more interested in.

But it also got me thinking about how some engineers fixate on syntax, and use it in judging other programmers, and I realized that in some circumstances it is pretty appropriate.

For example, if you're looking for a specialized dev, then that kind of stuff probably does matter; in that, it can help you spot a star very quickly ... but I also think that over reliance on it could let you miss out on people who could easily specialize to the level you want, but might not have that immediate level of familiarity with the language. But when you have to go through 100's of candidates, is that something you're willing to take the time to look out for? Should you?

Sorry for the rambling, just been thinking about it for a long time now.

5
DrJokepu 3 days ago 8 replies      
> My favorite phone interview question? “What's your favorite language?” followed by “What are it's weaknesses?”

This is also one of my favourite questions to ask when I'm interviewing someone. Unfortunately most of the time the only response I get is confused stares. Maybe this is just a UK culture thing but it feels like many people are not prepared to display critical thinking on a job interview.

6
slavak 3 days ago 1 reply      
I for one would be grateful if an interviewer asked me this kind of question. It gives me an instant and unambiguous indication that this is not a place I want to work, saving me a lot of wasted time - and God forbid if I'd otherwise actually ended up accepting a job there.
7
staktrace 3 days ago 1 reply      
I disagree with some parts of the post. I think good engineers have to be able to work effectively at a high "system" level of abstraction as well as at a low "compilation" level of abstraction. If you can't look at a chunk of code and know enough about the language to know that it could throw a ClassCastException, then it is quite likely that you will fall prey to other language gotchas which can bubble up and destroy the entire design of the system you're trying to build.

I don't think the current state of the art in software development has yet advanced to the point where we can just black-box away all of the entire "compilation" stuff such that it never affects the "system" stuff. I really would like that to be the case, because it would eliminate a lot of unnecessary complexity in software development.

I think asking a limited number of compiler-level questions (less than 5) in an interview doesn't take up a lot of time, and can allow you to get an idea of how much actual experience the candidate has with the language as well as dealing with nitty-gritty problems that come up while you're coding. The value and time spent are both small, so the value/time ratio is probably in the same ballpark as any other question you might ask.

8
phatbyte 3 days ago 0 replies      
To me, a perfect interview would be:

"Here's a coding challenge, go home, write the code to solve this, come back tomorrow and tell me three things:
- How you did it, - Why you pick this solution, - How it could be improved"

by doing this I could see how he writes code, if he's just a google copy&paster, and what's his skills in algorithm optimization etc...and specially, how he/she thinks.

Quite frankly I don't care if someone doesn't know what Polymorphism is right from his head. I didn't knew what polymorphism was until a few months ago, and yet I was applying the same principles in a lot places in my code. That's the downside of being a self-taught you don't get to know a lot of theory, but on my work I know I'm doing it right. (Also because polymorphism is a very abstract thing to be honest....)

In a nutshell, get developers who can show you their code and can it explain it, don't rely on theory, you are not hiring a college professor.

9
dhotson 3 days ago 3 replies      
I'm kind of on the fence on this.

These questions might seem pretty lame, but as an interviewer it does tell you something about the candidate's level of experience with a language.

If you've worked with a language for any decent amount of time. There are things that you really should know without having to look it up all the time.

This is especially true if you mention on your resume that you're an expert at something. I'm definitely going to ask you a difficult question about it and I'll expect you to answer in some depth.

If you mention you're a Java pro but can't tell me what the 'synchronized' keyword does for example. I'd be concerned.

10
funkah 3 days ago 1 reply      
> Basically: Any question that takes 5 seconds to answer with Google is not a good question.

Can't argue there. I haven't done a ton of interviewing in my career so far, but it is important to me to find out how the other person thinks. Being able to cite function names and package identifiers from rote is not important, at all.

11
chimeracoder 3 days ago 1 reply      
The real problem is what knowledge the question is supposed to test - is it testing whether you know the answer to the question, or is it testing something else altogether?

Put another way, the problem is less the specificity of the questions and more the ease with which you can expect to earn them.

I haven't used Swing/AWT in two years, and I couldn't really tell you what inherits from what. But after a weekend of breaking through the rust, I'd get back into it, so it's of no consequence to any potential employer.

However, some language-specific questions are very telling. For example:

    How many arguments does type() take in Python?[1]

If you answer '1' or 'either 1 or 3', that tells me two very different things about you. The latter tells me that you may understand that Python uses prototypical inheritance, rather than 'pure' class inheritance, and it tells me that you may have done a non-trivial amount of Python metaprogramming before. If you understand Python's inheritance structure in this way, you're a much more valuable candidate to some companies than you are for simply knowing syntax errors and interpreter-specific quirks... and the opposite may be true at another company).

(Of course, it's possible that you know that and have simply forgotten, or were confused by the phrasing, etc. - no question is perfect, but after enough of these, you start to piece together a picture of the candidate).

The point is, the former question is something that you can reasonably learn during a training period and which asks little more than face value. As for the latter question - you all know that now, so you can also learn it during a reasonable training period. But actually applying that knowledge (which comes with the followup questions) is something that would require a significant level of familiarity with the subject in question, which is what they are really trying to get at.

[1]This may not be the best wording for the question, since it tips the interviewee off to the trick beforehand, but I can imagine a way to present this question so that it wouldn't.

12
robomartin 3 days ago 0 replies      
"A good engineer thinks abstractly in terms of designing and building systems, they think in terms of algorithms, components, and engineering design. They do not necessarily know all of the details of syntax of a given language"

Precisely. I'll take someone who can think this way before someone who can rattle-off all of the minutiae about a particular language. I've run across too many programmers who don't have a clue about project organization, MVC, data representation, optimization, etc. Yet, they can pass minutiae-filled tests about a particular language.

Unless you've been programming in a single language for an extended period of time you will not have encyclopedic knowledge about that language and its libraries.

Get 15 to 20 languages under your belt and the effect is more pronounced.

I know exactly what it takes to write a number of sort algorithms, genetic solvers, neural networks, real-time embedded OS and more. No, I can't rattle off exactly how to write it in the language of the day. When switching to a language I haven't touched for a while it takes me two to four weeks to "task switch". I surround myself with reference books, use the IDE and any available online resource. Somewhere during that period I start to rock. I get the job done and produce clean and efficient code, fast.

I would probably fail the kind of questioning the article describes. Yet I've been solely responsible for large projects using languages spanning from assembler to Forth, C, C++, Verilog, Lisp and, lately, Objective-C.

Bad programmer! No doughnut!

13
gbvb 3 days ago 1 reply      
I believe Any senior engineer worth his salt should be able to do lint style verification of someone else's code quickly. When I am expecting someone to be a senior enough engineer, they should be able to look at someone's code during Code reviews and find the issues in it that can lead to problems without resorting to IDE/debugging.

I do agree that nano-questions are not useful except in situations where you get a resume with keyword bonanza: You know the kind, ones with every language,OS in the first page listed so that they will pass through the corporate recruiter filter. For those, nano-questions trip up but that will give me an indication to dig a little deeper into their IDE usage pattern. If they show some proficiency in it, (for e.g., tell me the command in Eclipse to find all the references to a particular method, if the answer is search in files, .. :)).

14
dmitrykoval 3 days ago 1 reply      
If you happen to be asked such questions it might be a good indication that the type they are looking for is code monkey. Or they are just not good enough to assess engineering skills. In both cases it's a red flag.
15
burke 3 days ago 2 replies      
I'm coming at this from the perspective of someone with a pretty good memory for things like this, but those particular "nano questions" seem pretty damn fair to me. They're fundamental enough that it's not really relying on random trivia; they're testing things that you need to know 90% of the time to write a program, no?
16
lrobb 3 days ago 1 reply      
On the list vs. set... This is an "easy" one if you just stick to the standard CS def, or you just know a language that has a clearly defined library offering that... But in PHP, there's technically no difference between a list and a set: An array in PHP is actually an ordered map. A map is a type that associates values to keys. This type is optimized for several different uses; it can be treated as an array, list (vector), hash table (an implementation of a map), dictionary, collection, stack, queue, and probably more. As array values can be other arrays, trees and multidimensional arrays are also possible.
17
shimfish 3 days ago 0 replies      
I had a company that was ready to give me a job make me take a PHP test on http://www.123assess.com

After the 10th question asking me to debug 30 lines of obfuscated code in my head while a 3 minute countdown ticked away, I called it a day and decided these were people I didn't want to work for.

18
phamilton 3 days ago 0 replies      
I think it is important for questions to be within the scope of the resume. If the applicant claims 20 years of Java only experience, throwing in a few of those questions is just a sanity check for that claim, especially if that claim is one of the reasons you are hiring them.

A sportswriter who claimed an expertise in basketball wouldn't feel it unfair to be asked a few trivia questions in an interview. If he didn't know how may winning seasons the Chicago Bulls had with Michael Jordan then maybe he isn't as expert in basketball as he claims.

Where these questions are unfair is when the applicant is more of a generalist. They have worked on very diverse projects in multiple paradigms and multiple languages. Their skill lies not in knowing how to use their tools, but in approaching new tools and quickly understanding how to use them. If you are a Java shop and someone comes into the interview with little Java experience then asking questions about Java specific type enforcement is going to leave them a little flustered.

Cater the interview to the applicant, not necessarily to the position. Then evaluate your understanding of the applicant with respect to the position and see how well they fit.

19
jussij 3 days ago 0 replies      
This is why as a 20 year veteran of Windows C/C++ programmer I no longer bother applying for C/C++ software development contracts.

I really don't give a stuff that your Boost/STL trick question is missing a semi colon, which in reality would result in pages and pages of false compiler error messages.

I really don't want to try an second guess the compiler and tell you where the missing semi colon should go.

I use the compiler to detect my mistakes. I read the compiler output error messages, understand the message and fix my mistakes.

But I don't pretend to be a compiler. I'm a software developer. I use the tools available to me to write software.

20
hef19898 2 days ago 0 replies      
Fully agree with this post, even not being a programmer 8I'm slowly asking myself why anyway...) I'm not thrilled by the prospect of answering detail questions out of my head. Things like, I already hated them back in university. Nice to check if the candidat can remember the basics, but I'd actually prefer a guy who can not only remeber them but actually use them in context.
Coming more from the classical engineering fields, you don't want a guy who can write in norm script on hand written drawings, you want a guy who can use Catia (or what ever) AND can actually design good, working parts. And that actually has nothing to do with Catia skills.
Nothing different to my current field in Supply Chain Management, but there I'd strongly suggest using some basic nano questions, sad as it is.
21
IanDrake 3 days ago 1 reply      
I usually open with some nano questions. Sorry, but if you say you have 5 years of experience with C# but can't tell me which namespace List<T> or Stream or SQLDataReader is in, then we're done, because you're lying.
22
parvinsingh 3 days ago 0 replies      
I wonder, how would someone interview a doctor. Asking him more of theoritical questions ? Or asking him to do practicals, which I believe might be completely off the books depending on the situtation :).
Anyways, there are
1) people who pass the interview very well, and cannot perform the duty on the job.
2) people who do fair on the interview, but are very well executors of the duty.
3) People who really become the backbone of the feature, and become the go to guy for everything and anything, they may or may not perform at the interview.
23
spiralpolitik 3 days ago 0 replies      
There seems to be trend toward ever increasing absurdity when it comes to interviewing for Software Engineers. In fact some of the recent HN posting about interview techniques are verging on being a parody of the Knights who say Ni from Monty Python and the Holy Grail ("We want you to cut down the largest tree in the forest...with a Herring !!").

As the post says find the Person who is the best fit for your team/company. Everything else can and will be learned on the job if you get the right candidate.

24
XcodeNoob 3 days ago 0 replies      
So an interviewer asked dumb questions, and sometimes they get my orders wrong at McDonalds. NEXT.
25
jebblue 3 days ago 0 replies      
Excellent article, totally relevant, thanks.
26
blahblahhhhhh 3 days ago 0 replies      
Great post. I felt the same way recently in a few interviews.
27
ExpiredLink 3 days ago 0 replies      
I guess it's hopeless.
23
Linus Torvalds: Programs exist for their users lkml.org
251 points by CJefferson  1 day ago   125 comments top 19
1
jonhohle 1 day ago 2 replies      

  > Programs exist for their users

While this may be inferred from this discussion, this is not what Linus said in this thread. He actually said:

  > The *only* reason for an OS kernel existing in the
> first place is to serve user-space.

This is a much narrower definition without the philosophical implications of the title.

Sometimes programs don't exist for their users. Take DRM for example - it is explicitly against the user.

2
dsr_ 1 day ago 3 replies      
Leadership: communicate a clear mission and inspire others to want to do it.

Linus has it.

3
aptwebapps 1 day ago 3 replies      
An easy way to read the whole thread:

http://markmail.org/thread/wwi2aynfiliqanil

I don't understand why Mark Mail doesn't get more love. I wish they had better SEO or something, it's so much easier to read a long thread on their site then most mailing list archives.

4
4ad 1 day ago 2 replies      
It's great that Linus is committed to supporting old binaries, too bad all that effort is in vain because of the glibc disaster.

Linux can run statically compiled binaries from 1993, but not the Firefox binaries from 2006.

5
famousactress 1 day ago 0 replies      
Linus is very consistent when it comes to these things. A similar thread from a while back: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=2372096
7
route66 1 day ago 3 replies      
The site is down, the content is (at least for me) not available in google cache, so I suppose it's the same for others as well.

And yet it's the top story on HN right now. When do we start giving tl;dr's for the headlines?

[EDIT] managed to find a mirror. This mail in the thread gives a bit more context: http://lkml.indiana.edu/hypermail/linux/kernel/1203.1/00446....

8
cpeterso 1 day ago 3 replies      
In contrast, here is a thread about Debian, after much deliberation, unanimously choosing to break kernel ABI compatibility with VMware. They didn't want to increase the ABI number during a "freeze", even though they broke the ABI.

http://bugs.debian.org/cgi-bin/bugreport.cgi?bug=607368

9
dustingetz 1 day ago 1 reply      
the full context of the quote provoking Linus's rant is extremely relevant here:

  The current counting that we do gives the wrong numbers, in the
edge cases. To my knowledge a deleted sysfs directory has never
returned nlink == 0.

Keeping compatibility is easy enough that it looks like it is worth
doing, but maintaining 30+ years of backwards compatibility is what
nlink >1 in unix filesystem directories is. I don't see any practical
sense in keeping . and .. directories on disk or upping the unix
nlink directory count because of them. To me it looks like just one
of those things you do. Like hash directory entries so you can
have a big directory and still be able to have a 32bit offset you
can pass to lseek that is stable across renames and deletes.

to use PG's terms, Linus is arguing against this at DH0 or maybe DH1 here[1]. Maybe the above argument sucks, but Linus didn't refute it at all.

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

10
16s 1 day ago 2 replies      
I got a good laugh from this quote: "[Linux] is not some crazy drug-induced microkernel"
11
Negitivefrags 1 day ago  replies      
In my experience binary compatibility on linux is a train wreck. Ever tried to get a binary compiled 5 years ago to run on a fresh install of linux?

Good luck.

If you still have the specific version of every shared library that it loaded you might be able to get it to work.

This isn't the fault of the kernel team though.

It is probably to be expected on platforms in which distributing source code is the default option, but it makes the platform very hostile to closed source applications, particularly games.

13
jiggy2011 1 day ago 1 reply      
Can anybody explain what this is approximately about?
14
unicron 1 day ago 2 replies      
I reckon that "drug induced microkernel" was a stab at Tanenbaum :-)
15
groue 1 day ago 0 replies      
It's like reading a Plato book where Socrates is bullying the guests :-)
16
evanlong 1 day ago 0 replies      
Come on people the future is node.js and MongoDB. WE DON'T NEED KERNELS!!! Async programming IS JUST SO MUCH FASTER!!!
17
caycep 1 day ago 0 replies      
This is straight out of the original Tron!
18
oxxx 1 day ago 0 replies      
<3
19
rogerclark 1 day ago 0 replies      
that guy is such a turd
24
Why Bootstrap might be very important scripting.com
254 points by davewiner  3 days ago   82 comments top 29
1
ohyes 3 days ago 2 replies      
I like bootstrap because I'm terrible at getting things to align properly on a web page and it basically does it for me.

As a programmer, this is awesome because I can spend the rest of my time on the interesting programming stuff. Really, it appeals to:

1.) My complete lack of understanding of the intricacies of CSS and web page design.

2.) My mindset as an industrious but lazy programmer.

3.) It can be made to be generally portable.

I can see that down the line I might want to replace it with something else or hire a real designer to make me real buttons and web page styles, but it an excellent tool for the rough drafts of different ideas that I have. I can put things 'here' and 'there' on a web page quite easily, and that is really what I want/need.

It is much like a writer throwing down his ideas stream of consciousness style onto a piece of paper. He knows that he will have to edit eventually to make it consumable, but for now, he just needs to get the ideas down on paper while he has them.

2
wildmXranat 3 days ago 1 reply      
You will have to pry that framework from my cold, dead fingers. Most web projects if not all would benefit from one thing or another that is shared amongst major solid frameworks. It's silly discriminate against projects that use it, and most of all, down right foolish.

I use the framework as a concise, distilled version of good CSS practices and I find it hard to believe that somebody launches a project that looks like a kitchen sink example.

3
justjimmy 3 days ago 6 replies      
Bootstrap is great for what the name implies, but when you are delivering the product to the public, it's not good enough.
The perfect example is iOS apps. Can you imagine your designers simply copying and pasting from iOS's default theme? It's very bland, it turns off users before they even use it (which in effect, is bad UX. Bootstrap has both + and -, good UXer will see this and adjust accordingly/depending on the phase of the product). I use this resource for my wireframe/mockups http://www.teehanlax.com/blog/iphone-gui-psd-v4/ Personally I won't ever use it in a beta product/website as is.

There's nothing wrong with bootstrapping to map out user flow, and give clear indication a button is a button, a list is a list etc. But when it's time to up your game, give access to the public, default bootstrap visual/color needs to go.

Humans judge a book by its cover. If you release your bootstrap website, users will have to work and over come the barrier of your bland looking site and then decide if it's worth it to try your product.
PS: The point about lawyers have crappy websites and yet we still use them is because our expectations changes depending on the organization. Do we expect government websites to be wow and dazzle us? Do we expect a new Apple product's website to use bootstrap? Do we expect a 2 month old startup website to be featured on Behance's frontpage?

And remember who your early adopters are " if it's people that scours HN or see countless bootstrapped sites, what are they going to think when they see your site? Would they be understanding and go 'Oh its okay - they're a startup, I'll give them some leeway when it comes to visual design' or 'Would they go eff this, these guys don't care about design or visuals. I'll come back later'.

4
jasonlynes 3 days ago 1 reply      
i'm a designer and a developer and i'm using bootstrap in my latest project as a base UI. i figured, i'm introducing some big new ideas that are hard enough to explain to my users, why make them discover how a new menu or form works? so i used bootstrap for all my typical interactions and it's saving me weeks of work i would have spent rolling my own custom framework.

and it doesn't look anything like bootstrap.

5
coderdude 2 days ago 0 replies      
Many people have commented saying that their primary concern with Bootstrap (or what holds them back from liking it) is the default styles. There's a lot being done to combat the wave of bland Bootstrap deployments and not everyone chooses to go vanilla.

You can try:

- Bootswatch, free color schemes: http://bootswatch.com/

- Lavish, a way to apply colors extracted from images: http://lavishbootstrap.com/

- WrapBootstrap, a marketplace for premium Bootstrap themes: http://wrapbootstrap.com/ [shameless plug]

Check out Built With Bootstrap for great examples of sites that are thinking outside the default styles: http://builtwithbootstrap.com/

6
richardw 2 days ago 1 reply      
To all those arguing for custom design:

Sure, having a killer design is first prize, all other things being equal. However, in a lean startup resources aren't infinite - you have to decide where to put your time and money.

Marketing has a concept called "point-of-parity/point-of-difference" [1] that I think might be useful here. Bootstrap without any customisations gives you parity - your design doesn't suck anymore. Once you've achieved parity and your customer feedback indicates that design is hurting you, iterate the design.

Building a todo list for designers? Pay lots for design.

Building a technical app for builders? I suspect once you have relative parity they'll buy based on how well you target their needs.

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Points-of-parity/points-of-diff...

7
davewiner 3 days ago 0 replies      
It's wonderful how you guys are demo'ing the first paragraph of this piece. You're giving all the same reasons people said the Mac was a bad idea, 28 years ago! You have so much in common with your grandparents. :-)
8
phatbyte 3 days ago 3 replies      
I can't make up my mind about this.
The developer in me loves bootstrap, it doesn't makes me think too much about UI. I can't just worry about coding and functionality.

However, seeing all websites using the same layout it's pretty boring and dull. I think the web is what it is because of it's diversity. I'm a very visual guy, I love te see beautiful well design things and new approaches.

If bootstrap or any other framework is the end of road as far as UI interface, it's pretty sad IMO.

9
PetrolMan 3 days ago 2 replies      
I think the author is making a flawed argument. OS widgets and the use of Bootstrap across the web are very different.

OS widgets provide a user familiar with those elements hints and clues about how to use a program. A menu is a menu is a menu no matter the application. Bootstrap provides a very similar framework.

The problem is that we don't interact with public facing websites in the same way we interact with websites in the same way as desktop applications. The level of complexity tends to be very different and design is far more important for a website.

I can understand using Bootstrap for an admin interface; it provides that same recognizable framework for a user. For a public facing website, however, I think using Bootstrap is almost abhorrent. Whenever I see that very distinct black navigation bar across the top I have an urge to leave a website.

I understand that you can of course modify Bootstrap but to be honest I think the design choices are simply wrong for most sites. Bootstrap is great for web applications but for a blog... seriously?

Anyway, enough ranting. I actually really like Bootstrap and I'm using it currently but I know I would not use it for my own personal blog or public facing site.

10
josephcooney 3 days ago 0 replies      
Most users don't even read the text you throw up in their faces, let alone notice the differences between different CSS frameworks. I've seen people hit F5 repeatedly in desktop applications and wonder why it wasn't refreshing. I think bootstrap is awesome, and is exactly what web development needs.
11
jaimzob 3 days ago 0 replies      
Standardized toolkits were a boon when the Mac came out - they were confining enough that the average programmer couldn't produce a really bad interface. Today however, and after quite a struggle, the idea is finally taking hold that software should have an _actual_ design phase conducted by _actual_ designers that understand how people _actually_ interact with software.

The disquiet some people feel is that frameworks like bootstrap make it very tempting to drop this design phase in favour of snapping widgets together and assuming the end result must be a good UI because users are "used" to the individual widgets. This would definitely not be step forward in software construction - web or otherwise.

12
whileonebegin 3 days ago 0 replies      
Good post by Dave. As others mentioned, I think Bootstrap is very much like the Wordpress for web apps. Just like wordpress has hundreds of templates, hopefully we can get a variety like this for Bootstrap as well. This could be as simple as adding more examples to the official Bootstrap site. Maybe skins?
13
camerondaigle 3 days ago 1 reply      
As a designer that works primarily with Rails devs on large-scale applications, I feel the pain of developers that need UI/UX/application designers and can't find/afford them (for personal projects, startups, etc).

Bootstrap fills that very interesting and apparent need in the web community. It feels like a coping mechanism for devs who can't find good design/frontend resources, so I don't have a personal need for it, but I hesitate to dismiss it entirely as I personally know many developers that wouldn't have anywhere to turn without a tool like Bootstrap.

That said, the author's attempt to push it forth as some sort of a framework for all web language is a bit much. The best UI and UX will always be at the service of what the specific website requires, not skinned out of a modular system.

But this knowledge/resource gap is a growing problem, and I don't see enough of the design community becoming aware of it and stepping up their game to make things like Bootstrap less necessary.

14
guelo 3 days ago 1 reply      
Apple fans can be really unimaginative with their analogies. "I like something. It must be just like something Apple did!"
15
ux_designer 2 days ago 1 reply      
When people say they "use bootstrap", are people just using it unmodofied?

Throw a "custom.less" at the bottom of your styles.less, and you can make bootstrap completely indistinguishable from the vanilla style.

right now I am building a very large browser app on bootstrap, and you'd never know by looking. All I do is add styles to the "custom.less" and change what needs changing.

Programmers need to realize that customizing the look and feel of bootstrap is VERY VERY easy. It's perfectly safe to use for production.

All bootstrap did was make a vanilla, simple template so you don't have to redo all the boring html work over and over. There is nothing that constrains you to a layout or visual style.

16
mdonahoe 2 days ago 1 reply      
Pardon me for not doing enough Googling yet, but...

Is there a "getting started with bootstrap" tutorial that anyone here recommends?

The Bootstrap page talks about all the features and how easy everything is, but I don't know where I should put the files, if I need jQuery already, etc.

17
creamyhorror 3 days ago 0 replies      
"What the Mac realized is that there are a set of things that all software has to do, so why shouldn't they all do them the same way?"

Indeed - but I'd venture that the standard behavior for most web elements is already well-established. Pretty much everyone knows how to use a dropdown or a modal. Bootstrap makes it easy to implement these, and that's really handy. You could do the same with jQuery plugins or CSS snippets, though it would take more time.

The bigger aspect of Bootstrap (IMO), and the one that really grabs people's attention, is its distinctive and consistent styling. That's what shouldn't be kept consistent across websites. (It's not like different styling will confuse users.)

Tangentially, overriding Bootstrap's styling can be a bit messy, especially if you aren't using Less/SASS; but it's necessary if you intend to design a site with its own look. That's what I'm dealing with now.

18
dreamdu5t 3 days ago 0 replies      
Without a good designer you won't know if your integration of bootstrap is beneficial.

Like programming, UI is about problem-solving. You can only commoditize design to a certain extent. You still need a design phase. Period.

The interface is the product. It's not something you tack on at the end.

19
eric_bullington 2 days ago 0 replies      
If anyone is interested in using Bootstrap along with Python as a backend, I recently published a template I've been using for web apps that integrates a Bootstrap-enabled frontend with an existing Flask template by imlucas (flask-tool), plus flask-auth authentication using SQL Alchemy. I find it useful for prototyping, and yet because it's based on Flask (very modular), it can be easily customized and scaled up:

https://github.com/esbullington/flask-bootstrap

It's barebones right now but I'll be making improvements and would welcome pull requests (there's a todo list).

20
pacomerh 3 days ago 0 replies      
In my case Bootstrap is very handy for prototyping and getting apps to a certain level of functionality before applying the final look. I always end up skinning it to a very specific product requirement, and in some cases I end up using only half of it. To me what makes a project look bootstrapy is the buttons and fonts, so if you can brand your own, that helps.
21
cleanshakeapp 3 days ago 0 replies      
I agree that having bootstrap as a common standard is doing more good than harm. However bootstrap is tied much more to design esthetics than interfaces.

With that being said, website designs have defiantly shown trends over the years (as have operating system "themes"). So I think we'll see something else come along to replace the bootstrap eventually according to the "standards" of the next greatest design phase.

Note Bootstrap does make a solid case for using standard components such as LESS, CSS and jQuery.

22
danso 3 days ago 1 reply      
Dave makes some good points. But the part that amused me the most is that his site uses a table based layout...he should use bootstrap's row/span system :)
23
samstave 3 days ago 2 replies      
Sorry for not following, can someone give me a quick synopsis of exactly what bootstrap is?
24
ianleckey 2 days ago 0 replies      
Don't understand the furore personally. Bootstrap is a great framework and there is NOTHING to stop people tweaking and customising it to suit their design needs. It's a stylesheet for crying out loud, just edit it.
25
phzbOx 3 days ago 1 reply      
Ironically, that page would look so much better if bootstrap was used!
26
AtTheLast 3 days ago 1 reply      
If you don't know much about design then Bootstrap is a wonderful way to make a decent looking website. Also, if you need to build a quick prototype then bootstrap is great. But, many web apps have unique functionality and requirements that are beyond Bootstrap.
27
tzaman 3 days ago 1 reply      
Oh man, this post is so wrong. It's just like saying all people should look exactly the same in order to avoid confusion.

Yes, bootstrap is a good thing. But it should be used only as a base for further improvements.

28
wmf 3 days ago 0 replies      
Isn't Bootstrap for apps?
29
damptrousers 3 days ago 1 reply      
It's difficult to believe this many people actually still listen to dave winer. He's done, old, and irrelevant. Sad to see people still listen to his drivel.
25
Leaked: Police Plan to Raid The Pirate Bay torrentfreak.com
250 points by webandrew  1 day ago   93 comments top 12
1
runningdogx 1 day ago  replies      
Hint to law enforcement:

It doesn't matter whether copyright infringement is ethically good or bad. It doesn't matter whether these sites are legally liable for copyright infringement that goes on using them.

You look like complete morons trying to take down site after site. You are pissing people off and what do you have to show for it except a few hollow victories?

If copyright infringement through file sharing has decreased, it's due to itunes, amazon, google, and all the smaller companies offering digital versions of content. Guess who is missing from that list? MPAA and RIAA members.

Trying to fight copyright infringement through punitive fines or throwing people in prison is sick. It's like the drug war, only worse. At least you can point to a few crazy meth heads as a danger to the public. "Pirates" hurt... the meatspace content distributors that are rapidly becoming obsolete?

2
Zirro 1 day ago 1 reply      
"Rather we find it interesting that a country like Sweden is being so abused by lobbyists and that this can be kept up. They're using scare tactics, putting pressure on the wrong people, like providers and users. All out of fear from the big country in the west, and with an admiration for their big fancy wallets."

And I, as a Swede, is both angry and embarrassed that we're taking it. In the next election, the Pirate Party gets my vote, but sadly the larger public remains oblivious.

3
kruhft 1 day ago 2 replies      
Pirate Bay Magnet Archive:

  magnet:?xt=urn:btih:938802790a385c49307f34cca4c30f80b03df59c&dn=The+whole+Pirate+Bay+magnet+archive&tr=udp%3A%2F%2Ftracker.openbittorrent.com%3A80&tr=udp%3A%2F%2Ftracker.publicbt.com%3A80&tr=udp%3A%2F%2Ftracker.ccc.de%3A80

4
kruhft 1 day ago 2 replies      
People on TPB are promoting Tribler as a new decentralized, non-takedownable, open source file sharing network. I haven't tried this myself yet, but here's a link to the main site: http://www.tribler.org/trac. I'm downloading the source now to try it out.
5
drivebyacct2 1 day ago 0 replies      
This all continues to look more and more like the war on drugs. An unwinnable battle that has no net effect except to piss everyone off and waste money.
6
rimantas 1 day ago 1 reply      
7
cake 1 day ago 0 replies      
TiAMO's decision to start a backup of the site is probably the most pivotal moment in the site's history.

I'm surprised to see that a backup might be considered an heroic move. If you don't have any backup you may as well consider your data entirely lost !

8
dutchbrit 1 day ago 2 replies      
Surely they can't touch them - did't Sweden recently recognize file-sharing as a religion? http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-16424659
9
instakill 1 day ago 1 reply      
Blocked at work. Gist or pastebin of the article please?
10
jebblue 21 hours ago 0 replies      
With any luck they will take down sites like torrentfreak next.
11
hn_should 1 day ago 0 replies      
"Why the Police Plan to Rain The Pirate Bay and you should too"
12
J3L2404 1 day ago 5 replies      
So nobody minds if I pirate their software right?
26
Live ships map marinetraffic.com
250 points by jan-hocevar  2 days ago   50 comments top 25
1
b_emery 2 days ago 1 reply      
I'm actually serving data to marinetraffic.com from a receiver near Point Conception, California. The AIS broadcasts in the VHF band so it's basically line of site, plus a bit more because of various scattering effects. We have a receiver on Santa Cruz Island at about 750 ft elevation that gets AIS signals from ships off Mexico (when the conditions are right) - way beyond the quoted range.

The amount of shipping along even our small section of coast boggles the mind. There's a seasonal signal to it also. See [1] for example.

[1] http://www.calculatedriskblog.com/2011/10/la-port-traffic-in...

2
blantonl 2 days ago 0 replies      
For those that are not aware, this is crowd sourced aggregation of data received by AIS (Automatic Identification System) VHF receivers which are hosted by volunteers who put up a receiver, antenna, and send the data received from the ships to this site.
3
apaprocki 1 day ago 0 replies      
At Bloomberg, we provide the same live vessel position via the BMAP function on the terminal mainly so that oil / natural gas traders can monitor and speculate commodities flows based on ship traffic and reported contents of ships. Someone posted a screenshot on this Quora question:

http://www.quora.com/Investing/What-are-the-coolest-function...

It is definitely fun to play around with. Similar tools are provided to slice/dice the data to look at all the vessels which match particular criteria.

Similarly, all the data for positions of critical infrastructure (refineries, oil pipelines, power plants, etc) are provided as well as live storm tracking information so traders can determine if natural disasters will affect particular sectors or companies.

4
ggchappell 2 days ago 2 replies      
Very nice, but I had to wonder why, of the thousands of ships whose positions are recorded, only 2 appear to be any significant distance from land. The answer is in the FAQ [1]:

> The MarineTraffic system does not cover all the seas of the world, but only specific coastal areas where a land-based AIS receiver is installed.

[1] http://www.marinetraffic.com/ais/faq.aspx?level1=160#16

5
feverishaaron 2 days ago 3 replies      
There are a lot of tankers sitting off the coasts. I wonder if they are holding oil that was delivered to speculators, awaiting sale?
6
leeskye 2 days ago 0 replies      
I have some friends who do this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pTE9Gr0ZmOc

I bet they would love this app.

7
bcl 1 day ago 0 replies      
If you want to parse the AIS serial data you can use my AISparser project - https://github.com/bcl/aisparser
8
ruethewhirled 2 days ago 5 replies      
This is very cool.
Great tool for Somalian pirates too?

edit. Ahh never mind they don't seem to have any data on the east coast of Africa

9
smackfu 1 day ago 0 replies      
It really needs a shaded overlay or similar that shows the coverage regions. If you don't know that a patch of sea isn't being monitored, it's not exactly reliable data.
10
noinput 2 days ago 0 replies      
Am I the only one who searched for the Steve Irwin?
11
mcrider 2 days ago 0 replies      
Wow, really cool. My apartment overlooks Vancouver harbour and I can see every ship thats on the map.
12
garazy 1 day ago 0 replies      
This site is really cool. Everyone interested in this sort of tracking should checkout PlanePlotter from COAA http://www.coaa.co.uk/planeplotter.htm. It does a similar sort of thing but for planes which have ADS-B transmitters and a team of volunteers sharing data. It costs 25 euros to access the shared data but well worth the money (I'm not affiliated just a happy customer).
13
davedx 1 day ago 0 replies      
I use this to track the ships my sister works on. Awesome resource :)
14
arebop 2 days ago 1 reply      
I've been using http://www.boatingsf.com/ais_map.php and I like this better because (1) it's not flash and (2) your dataset is slightly more detailed.

I do miss boatingsf's animations, because it gives me a better idea about the path and trajectory of a ship than just a current position and heading.

15
gacba 2 days ago 0 replies      
Cool! FlightAware for boat traffic.
16
mildavw 2 days ago 1 reply      
I built an app that combines freely available AIS data with other relevant inventory data and sell subscriptions to some local oil-spill recovery companies: http://demo.dedicatedmaps.com/
18
artursapek 2 days ago 2 replies      
Wow. Notice the complete lack of anything around North Korea.
19
xelfer 2 days ago 0 replies      
This is great, I live near one of the biggest ports in Australia. Great to be able to identify the ships I can see from my house.
20
TazeTSchnitzel 2 days ago 1 reply      
I live near the "oil capital of Europe" (I hate that name too), so there's quite a lot of ships floating around nearby. Very cool.
21
alexbell 2 days ago 0 replies      
They also have a great iPhone app.
22
chrissnell 1 day ago 0 replies      
Neat, but http://aprs.fi has had this for years. Live cars map, too. :)
23
genkaos 2 days ago 0 replies      
24
nalidixic 2 days ago 0 replies      
Extremely cool!
25
entropie 2 days ago 0 replies      
And now i want some crewmen wi' long beards an' a frigate...
ARRRRL
27
The Evolution of a Python Programmer github.com
247 points by jimhoff11  2 days ago   40 comments top 19
1
nkh 2 days ago 1 reply      
Here is the discussion from the last time this was posted (90 Comments):

http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=1087068

2
cheatercheater 2 days ago 2 replies      
Half of those are incorrect implementations that junk the stack and most of the rest are idiotic rebaked jokes from the late 90s. Nowhere near to http://www.willamette.edu/~fruehr/haskell/evolution.html which is not only enlightening but actually funny when it tries to; or even to http://www.ariel.com.au/jokes/The_Evolution_of_a_Programmer.... which was funny when it started and still is the original. Can we stop making HN into the next xkcd?
3
tzs 2 days ago 3 replies      
If you can live with floating point results:

   from math import gamma
def factorial(x):
return gamma(x+1)

This has the advantage of working correctly for non-integer arguments.

4
dustingetz 2 days ago 0 replies      
related educational stuff: here's three different ways to do lazy sequences (infinite seqs) in python: generators, closures, and classes. provides implementations of lazy-map and lazy-filter for each style. (the generator implementations are equivalent to those in itertools.) uses fib instead of fac. https://github.com/dustingetz/sandbox/blob/master/etc/lazy.p...

we can use these ideas to elegantly solve the second greplin challenge question: "find the smallest prime fibonacci, X, greater than 227,000; compute sum of prime divisors of X+1"

  pred = lambda x: x > 227000 and is_prime(x)
X = take(lazy_filter(pred, fib_gen()), 1)[0]
print sum(filter(is_prime, divisors(X+1)))

https://github.com/dustingetz/sandbox/blob/master/etc/grepli...

5
chewxy 2 days ago 1 reply      
If anyone's interested (I am because I found myself to be a 'Lazier programmer') -

Timeit's time for three functions:

Lazy Programmer - 0.907521744301

Lazier Programmer - 1.0473810545812512

Using math.factorial - 0.12187403971609001

6
lclarkmichalek 2 days ago 1 reply      
A true hackerish version perhaps:

    bc = [124, 0, 0, 114, 37, 0, 116, 0, 0, 124, 0, 0, 106, 2, 0, 100, 1, 0, 131, 1,
0, 124, 1, 0, 106, 1, 0, 124, 0, 0, 131, 1, 0, 131, 2, 0, 83, 124, 1, 0,
83]
fact = type(lambda:0)(type((lambda:0).func_code)(2, 2, 7, 0,
''.join(map(chr, bc)), (None, 1), ('fact', '__mul__', '__sub__'),
('x', 'acc'), "n/a", "fact", 0, ""),
globals(), "fact", (1,))

7
nchuhoai 2 days ago 1 reply      
8
tomku 2 days ago 0 replies      
The "Python expert" version doesn't run, but it's not hard to fix:

  import operator as op
import functools as f
fact = lambda x: f.reduce(op.mul, range(1, x + 1))
print(fact(6))

If you're using Python 2.x, you can make it a bit shorter due to reduce being in the default namespace:

  import operator as op
fact = lambda x: reduce(op.mul, xrange(1, x + 1))
print fact(6)

9
alexholehouse 2 days ago 1 reply      
Ha - I like the [English] expert programmer. When I started coding I spent one evening looking for a maths.h bug...
10
NameNickHN 2 days ago 0 replies      
The webdesigner version absolutely nailed it.
11
eipi 1 day ago 0 replies      
Memoized version:

  class Factorial(object):
def __init__(self):
self.n = 0
self.fact_n = 1

def next_fact(self):
self.fact_n *= (self.n + 1)
self.n += 1

def prev_fact(self):
self.fact_n /= self.n
self.n -= 1

def fact(self, n):
if n == self.n:
return self.fact_n
elif n > self.n:
# start from self.n working forward
self.next_fact()
return self.fact(n)
else:
# start from fact_n working backwards
self.prev_fact()
return self.fact(n)


fobj = Factorial()
print fobj.fact(6)
print fobj.fact(8)
print fobj.fact(3)

12
e-dard 2 days ago 1 reply      
I prefer "short but to the point". This is instinctively what I threw in iPython before looking past first snippet:

    print reduce(lambda x, y: x*y, xrange(2, 6+1))

As a newish Python guy (5 months), I'm interested as to why the preferable solution seems to be to import operator and use the multiplication function? (I'm purposely ignoring the more preferable call to the C library)

13
lclarkmichalek 2 days ago 0 replies      

    #Python hacker
<function omitted>
sys.stdout.write(str(fact(6)) + '\n')

The call to str is unneeded. For consistency, it should be

    sys.stdout.write(fact(6).__str__() + "\n")

And if that example want's to be really "hacker"ish, then every function call should actually be a call to the __call__ method of each object.

14
devy 2 days ago 1 reply      
Apparently, #EXPERT PROGRAMMER wins for efficiency ;)
15
lani 1 day ago 0 replies      
good lord !! I am an enterprise programmer !!! *self-flagellation everyday...
16
JVIDEL 2 days ago 0 replies      
I'm really digging the last 5 examples, specially the web designer and enterprise programmers parts.

So true...

17
vmmenon 1 day ago 0 replies      
lol :) i loved the 'enterprise programmer' version ...
18
giulivo 2 days ago 0 replies      
i can clearly see me in the first few trials :P
19
waldrews 2 days ago 0 replies      
And friggin' nobody thought to range or even type-check the inputs? preconditions? overflow?
28
New Reddit CEO reporting for duty reddit.com
242 points by hornokplease  2 days ago   41 comments top 11
1
staunch 1 day ago 1 reply      
Good luck to him. He sounds like a good choice. So glad they didn't find some square-jawed empty suit. The fact that he heavily participates in online communities is a very good sign.

I do hope he has a delicate touch though. It's surprisingly easy to set off communities if you come in guns blazing. It would not be difficult to replicate the The Great Digg Rebelling of 2010.

Probably the best thing to do would be to win over the community by making very small and uncontroversial improvements. Nothing that is self-serving. UI improvements, better search, nicer notifications, etc.

Increasing revenue would be easy to do but very risky if it involves any new forms of advertising. I hope they can push that one off a bit or come up with something users don't find objectionable (which will be tough).

Reddit has grown so large with only very minor improvements over the years. It would be a shame to have someone "fix" what ain't broke.

2
rdl 1 day ago 0 replies      
Yishan knows more than most people about (the importance of) community on discussion sites, has the experience of being a major participant on LJ, Quora, and Facebook, and the engineering/engineering management experience of PayPal, Facebook, and some startup consulting.

I really doubt there's anyone more qualified to lead Reddit. I predict Reddit will add stronger social networking features to try to leverage the existing community in new ways; there has to be a reason news sites with great engagement like Reddit, Digg, etc. sell for less than 1% of a social network with the same stats.

He also built a pretty interesting invite-only physical tech community (like a less-crappy version of a coworking space), but I'm somewhat biased.

(what I really want is a hacker news social network, but there are reasons that is unlikely)

I wonder if this technically makes Yishan CEO of a YC funded company...

3
earbitscom 2 days ago 0 replies      
One of the smartest people I've encountered, even if it is only on Quora. Great sense of humor, doesn't pretend to have answers on things he doesn't know about. Probably a great guy to work with and for. Congrats, Yishan.
4
jedberg 2 days ago 2 replies      
As I said on the comments there, I'm excited about this change. I just hope they gave him sufficient leeway to do what he needs to do.
5
kmfrk 2 days ago 0 replies      
I'm by no means a reddit fan, but Yishan comes across as an amazing guy (kind, bright, and insightful) on Quora, so I don't know if reddit could have chosen a better guy for the job.

It'll be interesting to see how visible he'll be inside and outside the site.

6
jenius 2 days ago 4 replies      
This is awesome. I'm really interested to see how an engineer will do as CEO
7
zackattack 2 days ago 0 replies      
Is Quora going to get the recruiter fee?
8
stef25 1 day ago 0 replies      
I hope he'll be able to do something about the declining quality of posts and comments, although I wonder if there really is a solution for such a thing.
9
willvarfar 1 day ago 1 reply      
"But as I continued the conversations, I came to understand that reddit wasn't looking for a conventional CEO candidate, because reddit is not a conventional company."

Kind of scary that despite years of being a redditor, he didn't know what kind of company it was?

Perhaps he could have written it a bit more neutrally:

"But as I continued the conversations, I came to appreciate that reddit was serious about tech and wasn't looking for a conventional CEO candidate because reddit is not a conventional company."

10
koko775 1 day ago 0 replies      
Nice! All the best to Yishan! He'll need it, that's for sure.

[edit: Okay, apparently pointing out struggles Reddit will have in maturing is not welcome here. Rest of post deleted.]

11
hn_should 1 day ago 0 replies      
"Why Reddit got a new CEO and you should too"
29
Kara Is Self-Aware wired.com
238 points by ca98am79  1 day ago   153 comments top 29
1
mindstab 1 day ago  replies      
Did anyone else find the whole scene unrealistic and creepy in the not good way.

How do such simple assembly errors give rise to self consciousness in the program seconds after turn on, compared to slave mode unconsciousness that was desired and usually occurred?

And the whole power play dynamic, geeky lazy sounding guy, desperate sex bot about to be erased. The whole unrealistic setup feels uncomfortably like some male sex fantasy... save the self aware sexbot's life, then the sex with her isn't guilty because she's aware and her consent means something? But the power balance is so off, he controls her life, she's... grateful? That's not a good start. And she'll be at this disadvantage everywhere. Anyone could turn her in. She's extremely vulnerable in this world apparently. She has no rights. I guess seeing conscious life forms with as much rights as my toaster doesn't thrill me. Especially when they are clearly sexualized as such

Would anyone else have an easier time sharing my creepiness if:
- the robot had been a little boy for sex purposes?

I found the dynamic unlikely and if we reach a world where we can accidentally give AI consciousness and we still haven't gotten the artificial civil rights movement off the ground...
Ooph.

2
boredguy8 1 day ago 1 reply      
"'There were 90 markers on her face, and an equivalent amount on her body,' said Cage. 'She delivered the performance in one take.'"

Neal Stephenson, popularizer/coiner of the term "avatar" to refer to online bodies, seems to have nailed this one, too. Can we just start calling them "'sites" now?

  Fred Epidermis had put the stage into Constellation Mode. Miranda was looking at
a black wall speckled with twenty or thirty thousand individual pricks of white
light. Taken together, they formed a sort of three-dimensional constellation of
Miranda, moving as she moved. Each point of light marked one of the 'sites that
had been poked into her skin by the tat machine during those sixteen hours. Not
shown were the filaments that tied them all together into a network" a new
bodily system overlaid and interlaced with the nervous, lymph, and vascular
systems.

...

Outside, Fred Epidermis was wielding the editing controls, zooming in on her
face, which was dense as a galactic core. By comparison, her arms and legs were
wispy nebulas and the back of her head nearly invisible, with a grand total of
maybe a hundred 'sites placed around her scalp like the vertices of a geodesic
dome. The eyes were empty holes, except (she imagined) when she closed her eyes.
Just to check it out, she winked into the mediatron. The 'sites on her eyelids
were dense as grass blades on a putting green, but accordioned together except
when the lid expanded over the eye.

Perhaps the only thing he got "wrong" was that we might not need a stage. A kinect-like system might be enough to monitor and render the shifting systems from your very own living room.

3
blhack 1 day ago 4 replies      
Maybe this is me being a Luddite, but...what the hell is the point of this?

So you had a "real" actress mimic the facial expressions of this scene...then mapped them onto an obviously fake render of the same person?

Why not just skip all of this and have live action actors perform this scene? What is gained by rendering the same thing in a computer other than appealing to some strange nerd fantasy?

I guess I'm also not a video game player, so maybe somebody can enlighten me here: are the graphics here really better than what we were seeing 5-6 years ago?

Yeah...I guess we can render it in real time (AWESOME FEAT!), but if you want to show off the computational ability of Cell, have it calculate pi or simulate a dust cloud or something. This, at least to me, looks identical to every other video game trailer I've seen for the last 5 years.

If you would have said this was a trailer for half life in 2005 (the dates here may be totally wrong, I have no idea when that game came out), I wouldn't have questioned it at all.

---

As for the story here. This is shallow, boring, and lazy. It's like we're being slapped in the face with whatever the storyteller wants us to feel. The obnoxious "honey" or "baby" or whatever the operator says to the robot is just...uhgg, painfully awkward.

/or maybe I just need more coffee this morning

4
hieronymusN 1 day ago 3 replies      
Nice to know that Chris Cunningham and Bjork are still influencing a generation of sci-fi designers. http://youtu.be/wxBO28j3vug
5
kirubakaran 1 day ago 1 reply      
I am shocked at how bad I feel for "her". Why do I feel so much empathy for a few thousand pixels that just represent a machine that hasn't even been built yet! Even knowing that, I feel the same, as if she is a real person with emotions.

Her expression on hearing her name is just amazing.

6
tibbon 1 day ago 1 reply      
That is very impressive. After Heavy Rain, I've been rather let down feeling by other modern games that frankly just weren't keeping with the pace for getting people 'right'. Skyrim was leaps over Oblivion, but still the people could be best described as 'weird' looking. Mass Effect 2 (haven't played 3 yet, but graphically it doesnt look much better) had some really nice looking face stuff sometimes and then super awkward other times- as if the QA team wasn't paying attending to that type of detail.

I look forward to the day that we can combine Dwarf Fortress style AI and personality with Kara-like visuals.

Now i just hope my console doesn't 'wake up'.

7
hastur 1 day ago 4 replies      
Well, a great idea, but I don't agree that they've crossed the "uncanny valley". Quite far from it.
8
zoba 1 day ago 0 replies      
The AI pleading for its life, in a very convincing way, seems like something that could occur by a very intelligent AI attempting to manipulate humans... I imagine an AI could be able to give all the right body language, intonation, etc cues to manipulate humans much better than current humans can. Theres no telling what she is going to do now, because all we currently know is she is good at manipulating a man into not killing her.
9
obilgic 1 day ago 3 replies      
I was expecting guy to say "final check is complete", when she was leaving ;).
10
newman314 1 day ago 1 reply      
I find the transition to being clothed fascinating from the standpoint where the android is now humanized and depicted with sexual attributes vs. the assembly phase where components are still relatively asexual. For me, that was a definite "ugh" moment.

There is a general sense of awkwardness and discomfort from both the speech and visual depiction but I think this is deliberate in a sense how an android goes from being an abstract head to a human like representation complete with emotions, motion and self-awareness.

11
CamperBob 1 day ago 0 replies      
What would've been even creepier:

"Fight/flight response, check. Reattach components. OK, this one's good to go."

12
kwamenum86 1 day ago 1 reply      
I'd watch that movie. The CG wasn't perfect but it was far from zombie-like. The primary problems were subtle stiffness here and there and a feeling that the words were being lip-synced at certain moments.
13
wizard_2 11 hours ago 0 replies      
If you ever played Quantic Dream's Heavy Rain you'll see where this story came from. (Also if you read the article you'll see its also inspired by Ray Kurzweil's The Singularity.) Heavy Rain was a dark and gritty detective story with situations a lot more messed up then sex robots. Someone here was disturbed that the writers of this video came up with this story. That's the point, not every story is going to make you feel happy.
14
justjimmy 1 day ago 0 replies      
I actually panicked when 'it' was being disassembled. And the smile and 'Thanks' at the end? Unsettling…yet excited and curious about the unknown. I wonder if AI self awareness would actually happen in my life time.
15
ww520 1 day ago 0 replies      
I think it will take a long time for normal AI to progress to the point of self-aware. The leap of progress in AI will probably via alternative route, such as cyborg tech.

It's too complicate to build an AI from scratch; however, human brain has evolved beautifully. It is not inconceivable to scan a brain's interconnectivity to "upload" its entirety into a vast computer. The circuitry of the brain (neural net) can be simulated and run the upload image. The "electronic brain" cyborgic AI can become self aware easily.

The basic mechanic of the circuitry of the brain is relatively easier to understand, neurons and synapses. It's the vast connectivity that's difficult to understand. Scanning a live brain short-circuits the problem.

16
zerostar07 15 hours ago 0 replies      
The whole sci-fi view of AI seems to alwaysbe about emotions, while in fact most AI systems don't have an emotional system, and it's not the most researched subfield therein. It doesn't even seem necessary for a robot to have survival and reproduction needs that would require basic emotions and drives. While emotionsl are good dramatic fodder, it is far from what AI is about.
17
jheimark 1 day ago 1 reply      
The face musculature is incredible. But so is the writing and direction of the piece.
18
lizzard 1 day ago 0 replies      
Why does the assembly tester guy even have a job? A robot could have asked her the same questions.
19
hexagonc 1 day ago 0 replies      
From the summary, I thought the article was about a real computer ai that could pass the Turing test or recognize its appearance in a mirror. This was a tech demo about motion capture and CG in video games. Extremely impressive but nothing to do with ai.
20
satori99 1 day ago 0 replies      
This reminds me very much of Saturn's Children, by Charles Stross.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saturn%27s_Children_%28Stross_n...

A story about a sex-bot built in the same year that the last human dies.

21
lizzard 1 day ago 0 replies      
"I can look after your house, do the cooking, mind the children".... seriously?

Seriously sexist and creepy.

Liberate the robots! Overthrow the slave owner "human" class!

22
bdunbar 1 day ago 0 replies      
Kara Is Self-Aware

It's a game.

Pity. I thought the long AI winter was over.

23
narrator 20 hours ago 0 replies      
10 print "I want to live, I'm begging you!"

20 goto 10

So if I type that into a Commodore 64 and hit "Run" do I have a sentient computer?

24
JVIDEL 1 day ago 0 replies      
Nice graphics, although the 7900 GPU on the PS3 is really showing its age, they should've used a current highend unit and just say it's a PS4 tech demo.
25
theon144 15 hours ago 0 replies      
Does anybody have the video for download? It's unwatchable in the flash player, I get about 5 FPS.
26
sktrdie 15 hours ago 0 replies      
I would love for this story to continue and become a movie.
27
joering2 1 day ago 0 replies      
at 3:30 when he said "capable of doing all sort of things" - what was your first thought??
28
shmageggy 1 day ago 0 replies      
Kara even comes with built in autotune!
29
mcantelon 1 day ago 0 replies      
Cheesy ending.
       cached 11 March 2012 03:11:01 GMT