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Mailcheck.js - How we decreased sign up confirmation email bounces by 50% kicksend.com
552 points by skyfallsin  1 day ago   98 comments top 32
yarone 1 day ago 9 replies      
I think there's a general purpose need for "optimal" form components. Let me elaborate:

- Fields for typing-in a credit card

- Fields for typing-in an e-mail address

- Fields for typing-in a U.S. street address

There are widely-known techniques for optimizing data entry for these fields, yet these techniques aren't widely adopted, and further yet they're known to increase conversation rates.

Someone should build a (subscription) service where you can embed a bunch of fields (and labels) onto a form with a single line of Javascript.

Then, the fields would render on the page. The performance of the fields (their effect on conversion rates) could be measured continuously. New variants of the labels and fields could be A/B tested continuously as well. That is, the performance of the fields would improve over time.

If there's interest I'll elaborate in a blog post (with mockups).

made a few edits

fookyong 1 day ago 2 replies      
Cool until I checked the source and realised that the developer has to hard-code a list of domains they want to check against (there are none included).

Off-the-shelf usefulness would be improved a lot if the plugin contained a list of say 100 or so of the most commonly-found email domains.

My 2c.

meow 1 day ago 3 replies      
I really like the idea. My only nitpick is that these days most projects seem to be ending up as jQuery plugins even when they don't really use much of its functionality. I think a standalone version would save a bit of effort for some of us bound to other frameworks (or not using any framework).
asuth 1 day ago 2 replies      
It's a cool idea, but I think they're doing it wrong.

We experimented with doing something like this on Quizlet, but didn't actually launch anything. We first looked at a lot of the data and doing based on string distance is the wrong approach.

For example, if you type hotmail.de into that checker, it suggests hotmail.fr. Another is ymail.com --> gmail.com. The more valid domains you add, the more (correct) permutations get marked as invalid. We have 20k users with ymail accounts.

I think a blacklist approach is much more solid than a whitelist approach, I just haven't gotten around to building it.

twakefield 1 day ago 2 replies      
Great work and thanks for the mention. We've been thinking about doing something similar but going a little further and actually checking mx records, with a response if they don't exist. This would help with the long tail domains.

Edit: Another good idea from hinathan.

hinathan 1 day ago 1 reply      
So how about keeping the user on-site for a while and notifying them immediately if you detect their confirmation email has bounced? If you push the temporary session dowbstream enough to correlate seasion with bounce tou can talk back to the user. You could probably account for a healthy chunk of those bounces which this js doesn't catch.
pbreit 1 day ago 0 replies      
I can understand email validation for a service like PayPal or Yammer where money or access is truly tied to an email address. But it seems like there are a lot of service that validate email addresses unnecessarily (and could thus improve rates by 100%). If Kicksend only sends documents to email accounts then it would be one of the latter. If it actually makes docs available in an account, then, yes, it would need to verify.
funkah 1 day ago 2 replies      
I bought a license for an app recently and didn't get my license key because I entered gmail.con or something. I was really pissed at them for about a day until I pestered them and they sorted it out. After it was over I was still kind of annoyed with them, really for no good reason, even though I was the one who goofed up.
jazzychad 1 day ago 1 reply      
This is seriously awesome work. I know a couple places where I want to use this already. Thanks for sharing!
carlos 1 day ago 0 replies      
Awesome. One issue found, a hotmail.es was suggesting a hotmail.fr domain
tlrobinson 1 day ago 1 reply      
Now if only this could prevent people from accidentally using my email address instead of their own...
wanderr 1 day ago 0 replies      
So awesome that this exists, and the timing is serendipitous -- I was about to ask someone on my team to make just such a thing after I noticed that the vast majority of our bounces are really obvious typos of popular domains, like gmial.com.
kree10 1 day ago 0 replies      
This is good for sanity checking the right side of the '@' but detectable things go wrong on the left side sometimes, too. One phenomenon I've been seeing for years is the erroneous "www." prefix, often tacked on to @aol.com and @yahoo.com addresses. I don't think I've seen one of these that hasn't bounced.
richthegeek 1 day ago 0 replies      
Just a quick test of doing HTTP-based checking as opposed to a string-distance checking:


papaf 1 day ago 1 reply      
Another option is checking server side using whatever is your language equivalent of:

This checks email addresses using regexps and DNS.

revorad 1 day ago 4 replies      
If you can predict the correction with good accuracy, why wouldn't you just fix the address on the backend? The only reason I can think of is to avoid spamming someone else in case of a wrong guess. But for popular domain name spelling errors, that should be almost never.
mshafrir 1 day ago 0 replies      
Out of curiosity, is there a significance or reason for using 2 as the threshold value?
jstsch 1 day ago 0 replies      
Nice little gimmick, thanks! We put it in our sign-up script as well. Since most of our clients are Dutch, we added the most popular Dutch e-mail providers (+ a big German + Belgian):

casema.nl, chello.nl, hetnet.nl, home.nl, kpnmail.nl, kpnplanet.nl, live.nl, online.nl, planet.nl, quicknet.nl, schuttelaar.nl, skynet.be, t-online.de, tiscali.nl, upcmail.nl, wanadoo.nl, wxs.nl, xs4all.nl, zeelandnet.nl, ziggo.nl, zonnet.nl.

gbaygon 1 day ago 0 replies      
Thank you very much, i just implemented it on a site i'm working on, in 5 minutes!
moozeek 1 day ago 1 reply      
We've been doing the simpler version of this for years now, basically stolen the idea from a 2007 MarketingSherpa article [1]: we just raise a modal window for every subscriber address and ask something like "Please check again: is this your email address? - Yes / No (I want to correct it) (with the email address in big letters). Has worked wonders ever since ;)

[1] http://www.marketingsherpa.com/content/?q=node/2223

adjwilli 1 day ago 0 replies      
This is really cool. It would definitely be useful on my sites.

One thing we do differently on http://www.queondaspanish.com/ though is allow users who haven't confirmed there email use the logged in features but with limitations. They can keep track of their lesson progress for example, but not send messages to other users. They can also change misspelled email addresses, which I think would help in your case.

jakejake 1 day ago 0 replies      
Very cool but how is this going to affect my hatmail.com address...?!
jebblue 1 day ago 0 replies      
I'm not a huge JS fan but wow this is a brilliant solution. I had no idea how many people mistype their email addresses. Thanks!
jacoblyles 1 day ago 0 replies      
Great! Now can you stop video recording everybody that walks by your office on Castro st? What's up with that anyways?
xspence 1 day ago 0 replies      
Does this check all possible/known domains or just the most common domains amongst users?
cinquemb 1 day ago 0 replies      
good idea!
i think im going to make something like this for my website but use php instead.
goronbjorn 1 day ago 0 replies      
This is awesome"a trained DB of common misspellings for email addresses would be so handy.
flashmob 1 day ago 3 replies      
email != identity
There are better alternatives to login these days such as OAuth and OpenId, or FB for that matter.
Nerveless, this script could be useful - well done!
lewisgodowski 1 day ago 0 replies      
Awesome, we'll be implementing this ASAP! (:
micaeked 1 day ago 0 replies      
50% from what?
Coeyman 1 day ago 0 replies      
Great resource. Will be implementing this.
edgesrazor 1 day ago 0 replies      
This is a great idea, thank you.
Time Zones everytimezone.com
367 points by dominis  1 day ago   91 comments top 47
GavinB 1 day ago 3 replies      
This looks great, and I love the slider. Maybe I'm just not seeing the option, but I need to be able to add and remove time zones. A lot of the confusion of these tools is having to ignore the many cities that don't concern you.

Saying the weekday on each would be great too (ex: Friday, March 21). When you're working with Australia it can be hard to remember that they're almost a full day ahead.

ahoyhere 1 day ago 7 replies      
Glad you guys like it. I designed it, my husband Thomas Fuchs built it.

I designed it this way because none of the time zone tools out there reflect the actual nature of time (zones): simultaneous, overlapping lines thru time. ETZ doesn't just give you the answer, it helps you create a useful model of understanding to take with you & use even when you're not looking at ETZ.

We've been slowly improving it, so expect more options for customizing the tz's you see & static links to times in the future, etc.

EDIT: if you like the design of ETZ, you will probably love Freckle, which is our time tracking / productivity tool -- all about making your data painless to get, then super useful & actionable: http://letsfreckle.com/startups/

Fargren 1 day ago 2 replies      
This doesn't solve my main gripe with most time converters. I normally don't want the time in Vienna, I want the time at UST-6. My common use case is that I find out an event will start streaming at, say, 10 PM UST-6 and all I know is my clock is EST-3. If I don't know what country uses UST-6, this converter is next to useless for me. My problem is with multiple standards, not with visualization.
tomelders 1 day ago 4 replies      
Am I going out of my mind, or is this not a year old already?

I'm sure there was an article on the front page where they talked about the build and stuff like local storage on iPad. (it started life as an iPad web app).

I'm aware that "dupes" are bound to occur, but this was big news last time around and I'm surprised no one remembers it.

pinaceae 1 day ago 0 replies      
time.is does it better in their "here & there" function. choose a few cities, shows a tabular comparison of all timeslots. this is what you need to determine the best time slot for a telco with multiple international participants.
rplnt 1 day ago 0 replies      
Well, it's nice but...

It shows completely random cities I don't care about. As a bonus it doesn't mention what timezone they are in. Also, I'm pretty sure my locale doesn't use 12h format.

Aissen 1 day ago 0 replies      
"Best" is a bit of stretch, and link-baiting: let us be judge of that.

Anyway, I don't mind the "Freckle" ad at the end, but please don't hijack my clicks. If I want to open it in a new tab, don't use a js on_click, and put a simple link to the website.

atlbeer 1 day ago 2 replies      
I travel a lot on business and have been using this tool for a while.

The main consumer problem it solves for me is the "I'm in Barcelona on Tuesday and need a conference call between Atlanta and Ukraine. What is a time that's workable for everyone"

It's indispensable for that problem for me. Filtering TZ and adding TZ would be a nice additional feature though.

ch0wn 1 day ago 1 reply      
I would agree if there was an option for the 24 hours format.
ahoyhere 19 hours ago 2 replies      
Question: Why did the title of this post change? Was it the original submitter who changed it? If no, who?


paraschopra 1 day ago 0 replies      
Sorry, this is way too confusing. What I like is a simple tool like http://www.thetimezoneconverter.com/
nwilkens 1 day ago 2 replies      
http://www.worldtimebuddy.com/ is another visually appealing option.
tallanvor 1 day ago 1 reply      
It seems really finicky, at least on Firefox (it keeps jumping back to the current time). You also can't add or remove cities/time zones, so overall it seems pretty useless.
madrobby 1 day ago 1 reply      
I'm the developer of the site. Just a quick note, on iPad/iPhone and Android you have the option to customize the list of time zones shown; and we'll add more time zones in the future (and probably some sort of city search and custom labels). There will also be some sort of calendar to select a date in the future, so you can link to specific date with the correct timezone offsets for that date set (because those change with DST).
YmMot 21 hours ago 0 replies      
This is neat. It reminds me a bit of part of my Conky setup. It looks like this: https://imgur.com/zi1Ub. It's not as accurate, but it gives me an idea of what time of day it is everywhere.

I have a cron script that runs every hour that pulls in sat images of cloud cover, the earth, and then the daylight lines and composites them together with imagemagick. I got the script from a lifehacker article where they used it for wallpaper.

dredmorbius 6 hours ago 0 replies      
Shell solution:

    TZ=*some_timezone* date

Say, for Sydney, Australia:

    $ TZ=Australia/Sydney date
Thu Mar 22 19:16:41 EST 2012

wging 1 day ago 1 reply      
Well, almost. Could do with a city lookup that highlights the timezone bar that corresponds to your chosen city and labels it with that city. I think that's the missing step in usability.
joshstrange 1 day ago 1 reply      
I wish there was an option to switch to timezone names (EST, CST, etc) instead of just cities but still this is great as timezones anyways throw me off
naner 16 hours ago 0 replies      
FYI, you can also type "What time is it in CityName" into Google.

My problem with Google (and this site) is sometimes I don't know a city and am only given a timezone (e.g. on the phone someone says "Call me back before 7:30 Pacific").

lotu 16 hours ago 0 replies      
It doesn't look like it handles the switch to Daylights savings time. See http://everytimezone.com/#2012-3-11,-300,6be
zacharycohn 22 hours ago 0 replies      
I actually find that usability wise, this is a bit difficult. I far prefer http://www.thetimezoneconverter.com/
cormullion 21 hours ago 0 replies      
For a few things in life, I confess to liking the old-fashioned ways. For time zones, I like this iOS app:


aantthony 1 day ago 0 replies      
Nice, but I find Wolfram Alpha faster and easier to use:


dutchbrit 1 day ago 0 replies      
Works & looks nicely on the iPhone but the thing that bugged me is that each time you slide the bar, you get another hash in the url - ending up in me clicking the back button about 15 times to finally get back to HN.
mattlong 14 hours ago 0 replies      
It's a day behind for me; i's reading 5:14PM on March 20th in SF when it's actually the 21st.
jeffio 22 hours ago 0 replies      
Such a brilliant way to market your product, LetsFreckle. Better than any adwords or facebook ads campaign I'm sure. Hope you're tracking conversions from this.

Content marketing at its finest. Great job.

jackfoxy 23 hours ago 0 replies      
Well-done interface and great promo for their core product, which I am going to take a deeper look at, because maybe we can use it. Back to the converter: what I need to convert most often is between UTC and local time. Suggest also making displayed timezones configurable, several other minor nits...
xxqs 15 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm using timeanddate.com since long time, and plan to continue to do so:)
Love their multi-zone meeting planner. Also lots of useful details, such as when the next daylight savings shift is going to happen in a particular location.
victorbstan 23 hours ago 0 replies      
Why does every HN story get reposted every 6 months or so?
zeroathome 1 day ago 1 reply      
I also think it's too confusing. I prefer http://time.is over it.
eoinmcc 23 hours ago 0 replies      
I built an iPhone as a weekend project a year or so ago. http://www.timesliderapp.com free). In a similar vein to this one... the few people who've downloaded it seem to like it :
Sword_Monkey 1 day ago 1 reply      
Uh, that's awesome. Actually really well laid out and visually appealing, and understandable.

EDIT: ooh actually, could do with an option to remove/add the sliding time selection. I'm finding it hard to revert to my current local time once I've moved the selection.

dmils4 22 hours ago 0 replies      
This is a great repurposed version of the Hipmunk interface, Surprised no one else has made the connection! FlickMunk won the techcrunch disrupt (hipmunk for movies) - I wonder how many other applications for this interface style will pop up, it's pretty versatile.
ttt_ 1 day ago 0 replies      
It would be nicer if it had and actual globe with the highlighted zone.
zoobert 1 day ago 0 replies      
It is nice but you would like to have the possibility to choose your own towns. Often for example I want to know what time it is in Seattle compared to the time in Frankfurt where I live.
If it can be customized, it will be a great tool.

For the moment I prefer www.time.is which takes a different approach but what I want.

angry-hacker 1 day ago 0 replies      
Neat idea and execution, but I wish there would be possibility to add your own cities/time zones. Also 24 hour format.
ericmoritz 1 day ago 0 replies      
I use this all the time for scheduling meetings across timezones.
nickewing 23 hours ago 0 replies      
I've been planning on making this exact thing myself. This one looks even better than what I was thinking though. The only thing it's missing is the ability to choose which timezones you want to see.
rodolphoarruda 1 day ago 0 replies      
Please include other BRIC countries that were kept out of list: Russia and China.
tdr 1 day ago 0 replies      
Fantastic! Been looking for something like this.

Could you also put the timezone (both GMT and other name) besides the city name? (as subscript & subscript, one over the orther)
[ex: San Francisco (PDT/GMT-x)]

manuscreationis 1 day ago 0 replies      
Let me see all timezones / select custom, and it'd be perfect as a quick check

Nice work

mynameishere 17 hours ago 0 replies      
It's using my computer's time which is off by quite a bit.
lucb1e 19 hours ago 0 replies      
Why does Firefox ask me whether I want to allow storing offline data? What do they want to store?
dansul 19 hours ago 0 replies      
Looks great. I wish there was a screensaver like this with the current time.
vladtaltos 1 day ago 0 replies      
a better one would've allowed to add a new TZ and sort the ones displayed on screen...
ChrisArchitect 1 day ago 1 reply      
Aziz Ansari releases DRM-free standup special for $5 azizansari.com
373 points by switz  2 days ago   140 comments top 35
untog 2 days ago 6 replies      
It's interesting that all this has come from comedians. Perhaps not surprising, given that TV shows are owned by networks, and bands are largely indebted to record labels- I never thought about it before, but a comedian is far more of a "free agent" than anyone else- for instance, Aziz is one of the main stars in a hit NBC comedy (well, as much of a hit as NBC gets these days), but he's free to do stuff like this as much as he wants. I very much doubt a band would be able to get away with that.

I've been a fan of Aziz for a long time- I'll be buying.

cfinke 1 day ago 1 reply      
From the confirmation e-mail:

"OH SHIITTTT!!!! Thanks for buying my new comedy special!!! THAT $5 IS MINE SON. Just kidding, but seriously it is."

rkudeshi 2 days ago 8 replies      
I know Louis CK was successful in this model, but at the time I expressed hesitation about others following his lead.

He made a good amount of money, but given Louis CK is probably the most popular working comedian today, it didn't seem like ENOUGH money to justify the entire business model (assuming no one else would make as much doing the same).

But now Aziz Ansari is doing it. Jim Gaffigan has announced plans to do so as well.

I know we'll have to wait for their numbers to come in to find out if Louis CK was a fluke or a trend, but I'm really hoping I was wrong and it's the latter.

If this is the future of selling online content, sign me up.

mapgrep 1 day ago 0 replies      
"I've deliberately hired non-Indian people to run the tech support stuff as to buck stereotypes"


vibrunazo 1 day ago 3 replies      
Is anyone here already working on an easy to customize template for these guys to build websites that easily charge for DRM-less shows?

I remember last time someone linked to something similar, but they had DRM and draconian payment methods (no paypal etc).

wdewind 1 day ago 1 reply      
I just bought it and was redirected to an error page even though the paypal went through, though a few minutes later I received an email with watching/streaming details. Just an FYI for anyone else this may happen to.
themstheones 1 day ago 0 replies      
Aziz Ansari is so funny. I loved him as the fruit vendor who hates Australians on Flight of the Conchords, and his Randy character was pretty much the only good thing about that train wreck Funny People. Nice to see him succeeding via Parks and Recreation and el Internet.
bearwithclaws 2 days ago 1 reply      
This is a great trend which I'm sure more artists would follow suit.

But it puzzles me why did they build their own digital delivery solution from scratch instead of using something like GumRoad?

dangrossman 1 day ago 2 replies      
I just purchased it. That was simple as possible (enter e-mail in box, redirected to PayPal, redirected to page with stream and download buttons). There's a streaming limit (3 views) and download limit (5 downloads).

The download is hosted on Amazon S3 where I'm barely getting 500k/s. The stream and download limits would then limit his delivery costs to ~$1.50 per customer with S3's bandwidth pricing. PayPal is taking out $0.41. He could be getting as little as $3 of each $5 for the special.

veyron 1 day ago 0 replies      
I'd like to see someone set up a turnkey solution, soup to nuts (i.e. website, paypal or other payment service, content delivery) with some simple pricing model. It would then be easy to standardize in terms of format, TOS, etc.
sirch 1 day ago 0 replies      
If this is your first time hearing of Aziz Ansari and you enjoy his comedy you might also want to check out his show 'Parks and Recreation' on NBC.

It's one of the best comedies on TV right now. I'd even say that it is approaching Arrested Development-levels.

kalleboo 1 day ago 0 replies      
Why isn't there a standardized self-publish DRM-free platform for this stuff yet? I have lots of time I want to spend distracting myself, but not enough content to fill it without pirating.

Got a Rails 500 error after paying, but just refreshing the page got me through.

The page has a humans.txt, but it looks like it's just the blank template(?)

charlieok 1 day ago 2 replies      
It's interesting to compare the economics of comedy vs music. I'm much more likely to enjoy a song the second, third and fourth time I hear it. I might enjoy the second time hearing a joke, but it goes downhill pretty fast after that. I'm guessing this is normal.

If a comedian's routine is recorded and widely disseminated, a lot of people might become fans and want to see him/her, but they're probably not going to want to see the same jokes again. The comedian will need to come up with new material.

Writing and perfecting a good comedy bit might be comparable in time and effort to writing and perfecting a good song. Anyone know?

How do these considerations affect which business model works best for different types of artists online?

kin 1 day ago 0 replies      
Everyone here keeps saying to turn this into a platform. Though I agree that developers can capitalize on this opportunity, there's a road we can go down that in my opinion may make things too crowded. Yes, it would be great to have a central hub where I can browse through popular comedian's trailer videos and then download my favorite one for $5 DRM free. But, I think that'll just create so much competition between the comedians that they won't see the level of traction that Louis C.K. saw. Then again, it's a tradeoff and you can't really have both can you?
MatthewPhillips 2 days ago 3 replies      
Some startup needs to aggregate, give cloud storage, and iPad/roku/boxee apps for these things.
caublestone 1 day ago 0 replies      
$5 AND DRM Free? Could you imagine...stealing a movie that costs $5 and is DRM free? That'd be like stealing a movie that's $5 and DRM free! There's no other way to complete that analogy because that's the shittiest thing you could ever do!
jarin 1 day ago 0 replies      
I just put together a directory of these $5 specials: http://www.comedyspecials.org

If people think it's a good idea I'll add a bunch of other fancy stuff :)

thehodge 1 day ago 1 reply      
Interesting note in the terms of service (http://azizansari.com/tos)

Linking to our site
"You must not establish a link from any website that is not owned by you."

That rules out 90% of social media..

bksenior 1 day ago 1 reply      
This is the model of new media for any type of artist.

Create enough value that you establish yourself as an expert in whatever your art is and then exploit secondary pursuits. I constantly refer back to Diddy getting famous with music, but also establishing himself as a partying/lifestyle expert and then making a killing on Ciroc. 50 cent did it with vitamin water and fitness, Athletes do it with endorsements.

It is the Tony Robbins model. His books didn't make him rich but they allowed him to charge 500k a speaking gig.

Your initial art is your marketing that develops your right to charge money for future art.

webmat 1 day ago 1 reply      
Haha! Never heard of him before, but I'm buying based solely on this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b92vAucJg2Y 36 seconds
iscrewyou 1 day ago 0 replies      
Fully support the artist and the idea. Gave them my $5. I won't have starbucks tomorrow.
username3 1 day ago 2 replies      
Can I borrow someone's copy when you're finished with it?

Update: http://azizansari.com/tos says, All downloads are for use on one device only. You may keep one backup copy of the digital content downloaded from this site on any digital media of your choice.

larrik 1 day ago 1 reply      
Heh, am I the only one who actually WENT to that tour?
sandis 1 day ago 0 replies      
I thought that opening was really similar to Louis CK's $5 standup and that grape drink joke - that's Chappelle (around 1:50 - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NuTjQLfU6Gk).
Brajeshwar 1 day ago 0 replies      
Never heard or seen this guy's act but bought it. Love to support such creative gesture.
ssebro 1 day ago 0 replies      
Ok - so we know there's demand from top-level talent. Who's going to make it into a platform?
RugerRedhawk 2 days ago 0 replies      
Much better. Thank you, Aziz.
speg 1 day ago 0 replies      
Bah, I bought this and tried to view it on an iPad. After a few failed attempts I try on my computer and it says I've used all my downloads? Boo.
sirwanqutbi 1 day ago 0 replies      
Why are people not realising he's doing this as a gesture against DRM as oppose to some kind of business statement. .. he's a comedian.
nachteilig 1 day ago 4 replies      
Can anyone confirm the format? I'd like to toss him $5, but only if I can play it on my iPad.
joejohnson 2 days ago 0 replies      
That's great that you can watch a clip on the website! I like Aziz Ansari.
n0tjb 1 day ago 0 replies      
Louis CK did it first, but I'm glad Aziz followed!
paulhauggis 1 day ago 1 reply      
I will be interested to see the results of this. My prediction is that it's a novelty and the appeal will eventually drop off when the sales do (IE: people torrent it instead of buying)
Produce 2 days ago 0 replies      
Now all he needs to do is something funny.
kwamenum86 2 days ago 1 reply      
Normally, I'm a huge Aziz detractor but I think this has a shot at being more successful than Louis CK's special. I think Aziz is more popular with children of the Internet.
Man Supposedly Flies With Custom-Built Bird Wings wired.com
354 points by dym  1 day ago   153 comments top 61
Lazare 1 day ago 6 replies      
Watch a bird take off. Start with some pigeons, then some sea gulls. If you can, watch an albatross - on YouTube if nothing else. As you get larger, you get heavier; as you get heavier you need more lifting force (ie, bigger wings, moving faster). Recall that weight is a function of volume and increases with the cube of your dimensions, while lifting force is a function of surface area and only increases with the square of your dimensions. Very very roughly if you're twice as big, you get four times the surface area but eight times the weight, meaning that as you get larger flying goes from being "difficult" to impossible. And a man is large, and the batteries and motors he was allegedly using just add weight.

All of which is a long way of saying that he runs very slowly, his wings are very small, and they flap very slowly. The first couple seconds of him after take off our patently absurd; you need to be applying - somehow - hundreds of pounds of force to the air to push you off the ground. Yes, fine, he has a wonderful wing design and some amazing motors and (apparently) zero weight batteries. Fantastic! But none of the components in that video are producing hundreds of pounds of force. (A commenter at Wired estimates that the servo motors are theoretically applying enough force to pick up a two ton load, in fraction of a second. If we had this tech, we could fly, although that wing design probably couldn't. We could also make Iron Man-style powered armour. Unfortunately, we don't have this tech.) The whole thing is multiple orders of magnitude off from the realm of "remotely possible".

There are just so many red flags. The bizarre edits, the poor filming, the ridiculous design of the wing, the secrecy, the way nobody in the video acts right, the way the wing magically changes designs in different shots, the fact that the wing is clearly not fully loaded, the weird clothing and gear choices, etc., etc., etc. Wired has been hoaxed hard.

JoeCortopassi 1 day ago 4 replies      
Things that make this video implausible:

1) You have the engineering fortitude to come up with something that has never been done before, and you choose to attach it to your body with a consumer grade backback? And not even a full hiking one with multiple points of attachment? No rock-climbing harness?

2) Fabric is waaay too loose on the wings to be effective in any kind of aerodynamic sense. At best this is a kite

3) He would "only be able to come up with 5% of the power needed", so he used a bunch of Turnigy motors and some magical super-compact power supply to provide the necessary lift? Not to mention, motors aren't exactly built for rapid oscillation back and forth, and I see no complex mechanisms to turn rotations into a very strong/rapid oscillating force

4) There are ZERO control surfaces on those wings to be able to pull up for a landing like he does. No, that pillow case between his legs doesn't count.

5) An Android operated system, that dynamically reads two separate wii remotes, and converts that accelerometer input into wing movements would not be that responsive.

6) No continuous shot from take-off to landing

7) No shot of the gear used to accomplish this, whether it be the motors/batteries/wiring/pulleys

avree 1 day ago 2 replies      
Incredibly skeptical. Red flags:

1. He's received criticism about his videos before, but still insists on filming in random parks, only releasing to press after the event, and using blurry/shaky footage.

2. When he takes off, the camera shakes heavily. When he lands, someone steps in front to block the view.

3. At 0:35, his legs lift up so that his body is parallel to the ground (necessary for flight.) If he had been placing his legs on some sort of device for flight, why would the liftup be that smooth?

This would be awesome if it were real, but... just seems fishy.

joeld42 1 day ago 3 replies      
I've worked in the visual effects industry and I don't think this is CGI, at least not in the sense that most commenters mean, a digital rendering of the dude and the wings. If it is, there's a lot of small details that they got right. It could be, and the poor quality of the video makes it hard to tell for sure, but I think that's misdirection.

My guess is that the wings are not mechanical at all beyond being flexible, and he's just pulling on them to flap, and they pulled the guy from an ATV or something. His motion looks like a kite, when he's flapping wildly the front of his chest stays pretty stable and looks like it's anchored. The wings look like they could be modified versions of those kite-surfing things people use.

It's a hell of a lot easier to paint out a wire and a vehicle than it is to put in a synthetic flying dude. and that would get you the helmet-cam footage without having to do extra work.

Also there's tire tracks on the ground from previous takes.

edit: for example:



It might not even be the wings providing the lift, he could have a whole chute behind it like in these videos.

saturn 1 day ago 3 replies      
This video is fake, that has been established beyond doubt. But CGI, even "prosumer" CGI like this, is really getting better. Even at this level, people are relying on "hints" that a CGI transition has taken place - camera looks away, is obscured, or the picture is blurry.

Give it a couple of years and those distracting-from-transition tricks probably won't be necessary any more. Then what?

6ren 1 day ago 0 replies      
Conceptually plausible: the cyclic motion of articulated wings (flapping) seems understood in models e.g. http://www.ornithopter.de/english/clips.htm Jarno's idea of a powered exoskeleton wing to provide x20 power is right in principle, but needs light batteries: Prof Otten http://www.humanbirdwings.net/about/interview-with-bert-otte...

As comparison, a human-powered articulated wing: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0E77j1imdhQ A non-articulated wing http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-1638710914506519616 18km) And the famous Gossamer Albatross flew from England to France http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gossamer_Albatross
Also http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ornithopter#Manned_flight

To the downvoters: haters gonna hate, hackers gonna hack

jsprinkles 1 day ago 7 replies      
I'm skeptical. Am I the only one that noticed what appeared to be the plethora of CGI in the video?
grannyg00se 1 day ago 0 replies      
There is simply not enough air being moved by those airfoils to lift a 150+ lb object off the ground. He'd need much more speed than that. Or much more wing area. Or much faster articulation. And in any of those cases, the pathetic "wings" would deform horribly and ruin any aerodynamic properties they might possibly possess.

Now that I've actually watched the video, there's something I'd like to add to the list of red flags others have already pointed out: His landing trajectory. It's way too steep and forward. He'd have to enjoy a near 1:1 thrust ratio to land at that angle, and he'd have to have been pitched up and back to apply all of that thrust against gravity and his forward motion.

InclinedPlane 1 day ago 1 reply      
I made this for a nested comment, I'll bring it up a level. Think this looks real? http://i.imgur.com/YtPMI.png

The grass in the second one (suspected CGI) isn't even the same color or saturation level.

khalidmbajwa 1 day ago 1 reply      
Interesting that Jamie Hyneman of the MythBusters fame Doesn't think it was faked. According him to the science checks out ! http://www.tested.com/articles/43440-thoughts-on-the-mechani...
iandanforth 1 day ago 4 replies      
Disclosure: I fell for this. That said here is another red flag:

The guys reaction at the end of the video is not one of triumph and excitement. Here are some videos of what real reactions look like:

First time skydiving:


Breaking a world record:




*Edit - Fixed last link

ck2 1 day ago 0 replies      
This is obviously a spoof of art.

I am sure since we are only 10 days away from April 1st, that will be the reveal.

There is simply not enough surface area, not enough motor power and not enough battery power for it to be real.

Steko 1 day ago 0 replies      
I've thought about whether we'll start to see things like this soon with composites and nanofibers. I'd love to see the math taken apart, I assume we're still a ways away from it.

The first person to really fly like this may well be a double amputee or other person generally thought of as "disabled". Someone like Bob Wieland would have an enormous advantage on paper over someone like the guy in the video.

jcampbell1 1 day ago 0 replies      
Just to be clear, the power is coming from electric motors, and he is flapping his arms just because that is how the control system was designed, right?
andrewfelix 1 day ago 0 replies      
This is the beginning of an ad campaign. My old agency used to do these things all the time. Here's one we created to make Japan look more intimidating leading up to an A-League match,

Hint: It's fake.

tzm 1 day ago 0 replies      
Other confirmed man powered flight tests:

Snowbird ornithopter

MIT Daedalus

marshray 1 day ago 0 replies      
In the part 14 video, at 0:34 it cuts to another camera on the right much closer to the point of liftoff. It's not a long range shot because the angle seems to sweep up to 45 degrees quickly. A camera at this position should be visible in the shot before, but there's not one.

Edit: OK at 0:23 you catch a glimpse of someone by the lake that might be in position for that shot.

uptown 1 day ago 0 replies      
If this actually worked, wouldn't he have done it dozens of times, and have videos of each flight?
marshray 1 day ago 0 replies      
So I did a little poking around:

I can't find any reliable mention of Jarno Smeets on the web before May 2011.

His blog, his domain, his Twitter and YouTube accounts all seem to have started about June of last year.

His Linkedin lists some plausible employment for a mechanical engineer, but comparing his userid to mine, that account hasn't been around too long either.

The Biomechanics professor he interviews in the video seems legit: http://www.kalons.nl/otten/ http://www.rug.nl/corporate/nieuws/opinie/2011/opinie29_2011... But the professor only speaks in general terms about the requirements for flight and is never seen again in the building or the testing videos.

Perhaps someone could check his Facebook. Does FB say when he signed up for that?

None of this is completely incriminating of course but sadly it does fit the pattern of an ad agency project.

MartinodF 1 day ago 1 reply      
I believe this could be real, but the wings are powered by 4 electric motors. He uses an HTC Android phone and a WiiMote to read the movements of his arms, and that readings are used to control the wings.

There are many more details on his blog http://www.humanbirdwings.net/project-timeline/

Edit: JoeCortopassi raised some good points in his comment. I'm not so sure this is plausible, even with the 4 motors.

ad80 1 day ago 2 replies      
my bets...

1. GoPro-camera viral ad... 20%
2. funny joke... 10%
3. this is real ... 70%

damn... the track record of incredible, but fake videos in the recent past makes me feel skeptical, but I wish it was real

btw 0:57 the tracks on the grass.. look suspicious ;)

gregable 1 day ago 0 replies      
Agreed with others that it's probably fake, but there I disagree that it's impossible. One of the slightly counter-intuitive things you learn when becoming a pilot is that you take off into the wind rather than with a tailwind. The wings don't care what your ground speed is when creating lift, they care about your airspeed. Given a big enough "kite" and a nice headwind and of course you can do this. Kitesurfers, kiteboarders, and hangliders do this all the time. The flapping may or may not assist, but it's certainly not doing the brunt of the work.
binarysolo 1 day ago 1 reply      
Maybe the Internet has ruined me too, but this reminds me of that other viral ad campaign of guys running on water.

http://gawker.com/5539222/how-not-to-fall-for-a-viral-market... (Yes it's Gawker but they did have one of the better write-ups :/ ).

A few minutes browsing the project homepage (http://www.humanbirdwings.net) and WHOIS (http://whois.net/whois/humanbirdwings.net) makes it look more legit though...

ilaksh 1 day ago 1 reply      
I really wish this were real.

The only part that really ruins it for me is, where is the battery powering the electric motors?

I mean, since I am ignorant about aerodynamics and a bunch of stuff, I can suspend my disbelief about the wing actually providing enough lift, and suppose that there exist incredibly powerful motors that could operate in that way.

I would even like to believe that there is an ultrapowerful battery that would be able to provide enough juice for these incredible motors. But where is it?

Man I hope Mythbusters does this one!

KVFinn 1 day ago 0 replies      
They could verify this easily. Just get a couple of news crews down there to film another trial.

The fact that they haven't makes me think it's fake.

I wish it were real though.

kenrikm 1 day ago 0 replies      
I call fake, if you watch his previous test video you can see it's CG/Composited, they point the camera at the ground to swap clips with/without the real man/wings.

This one seems to be much better however when he lifts his legs you can see it's too smooth.

simeonf 1 day ago 0 replies      
I'm just a beginning hang glider pilot - but everybody at the largest national hang gliding site (http://hanggliding.org) calls fake. The main clue from a hang glider's perspective is that the wings absolutely don't look loaded. Assuming power source, batteries, etc all were available there's no way those flapping trailing edges are actually bearing weight by pushing against the air.

Yes the dream of human flight is alive - but it looks like this - http://vimeo.com/20775072

steve-howard 1 day ago 0 replies      
Hope he doesn't fly too high, lest they melt.
andrewfelix 1 day ago 0 replies      
Here is a less polished version of the thing 'flying': http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q0tKFOcHyrI&feature=relmf...
Skip to 1.45 and tell me that is not CGI.
XLcommerce 1 day ago 0 replies      
painfully fake. i'm surprised that there is even any discussion as the whether it is fake. putting aside the breaking of the laws of physics the actual cgi shots are c-grade at best. Look a the linked wired video between 0:35 - 0:40 the cgi is laughable.
angersock 1 day ago 3 replies      
Hey, for all you people that are pulling things out from their collective asses, at least criticize from the damned website and press release:


Closeup of backpack here:


obilgic 1 day ago 0 replies      
I am sorry if someone already pointed that out but i just realized how fake this is. Watch that video. http://youtube.com/watch?v=Q0tKFOcHyrI while guy is about to take off(1:49), everyone including cameraman runs for some reason and we can not see the guy with the wings for a second. Then when we see the guy again and there is a black squaure box next to big s logo this time. You can see that video is edited at 1:52
joelackner 1 day ago 1 reply      
incredible. i never really thought how jarring and jerky flapping wings would be...
joss82 1 day ago 0 replies      
For me, the biggest red flag was "done in 8 months time".
Nice CG though, and additional points for flying a RC plane with a camera on it on the path of the bird.
spoiledtechie 1 day ago 0 replies      
Skeptical. Camera angles coming from the helmet are different in two shots and his head isn't moving at all. Stationary. You would think when flying, your head would be moving slightly, but his is not.

I also see a bit of CGI in his legs when he is shown to be flapping in the air.

Very Skeptical.

mahmud 1 day ago 0 replies      
Earlier attempt with same tech (ca 800s AD)


savrajsingh 1 day ago 0 replies      
Isn't it a little early for April fools?
sj4nz 1 day ago 0 replies      
So, no one noticed the crushed grass in the shape of tire tracks along the path of flight? Looks fake.
morrow 1 day ago 0 replies      
It's quite obviously fake -- given that we are 11 days from April Fools, it's probably either an April Fools joke discovered prematurely, or set-up for a bigger one. Maybe something similar to the tale of icarus.
obilgic 1 day ago 1 reply      
What is that trace we see on the grass?(1:00)
Looks like they us some type of vehicle to pull the helmet-camera up
damian2000 1 day ago 0 replies      
Its real guys: Jamie Hyneman (Mythbusters) says so ... http://www.tested.com/articles/43440-thoughts-on-the-mechani...


ookblah 1 day ago 0 replies      
a lot of people in the wired comments are posting about how it's fake... huh?
damian2000 1 day ago 0 replies      
Has anyone pointed out that wind direction makes a hell of a lot of difference to this - if he was running into a strong headwind I'd say this is almost possible. Ever try holding onto a big kite like that in a strong wind?
chj 1 day ago 0 replies      
Incredible! They should try another flight to address people's doubts.
heeton 1 day ago 0 replies      
Well, no, it's quite obviously fake... Does no-one else see that?

(Not for any logical reasons, but the video just looks fake!)

cmfoster 1 day ago 0 replies      
And when will this be on kickstarter so i can donate for a promised set in return?
ericb 1 day ago 0 replies      
An April 1st reveal, anyone?
fjabre 1 day ago 0 replies      
If it's fake then you have to admit this guy can act. That was quite the performance especially when he's describing how it felt to fly for the first time.
bennyfreshness 1 day ago 2 replies      
This is absurd (and I can't believe its at the top of hacker news).

The article insinuates this is human powered flight.

Any realistic attempt at a solely human powered flying machine would utilize leg power, not arms which pale in comparison in terms of power output.

Also seems a bit fishy a buzzing sound, much like that of an engine, starts the same time as the wing flapping.

Interesting engineering feat but definitely not the holy grail of man powered flight. This is Turnigy powered flight, big deal.

"The design is based on mechanics used in robotic prosthetics."

lemonman 18 hours ago 0 replies      
I initially thought it was real but after all the negative posts I have looked at the video closely. The GoPro camera take of the landing is what gives it away. Note how low the camera goes next to the ground, while we see the pilot always standing as he lands it. The flight was probably filmed with an RC and that is why see the camera go so low as it lands. But whether this is fake or not, it's irrelevant. This is a great idea and with the proper brains behind it, one should be able to make it work.
karussell 1 day ago 0 replies      
Come on guys. Just believe it ;) it would be so superb ... I believe I can fly ...
robertwithtea 1 day ago 0 replies      
obviously faked ... but i hope i'm wrong!!
at least thanks for the short moment before i started doubting :-)!
pitchups 1 day ago 1 reply      
Since all the videos are numbered n of 14 - how did he know in advance that he would need exactly 14 videos for documenting his flight?
poppin3k 1 day ago 0 replies      
this has got to be a thinkmodo campaign for the sail brand used for the wings in the ad.
lopatin 1 day ago 0 replies      
I would pay so much for one of these
e03179 1 day ago 2 replies      
Where was the camera operator at 0:35?
epaik 1 day ago 0 replies      

This makes me wonder what Leonardo da Vinci could've accomplished given some base robotics technology to work off of.

morton_hu 1 day ago 0 replies      
kromped 1 day ago 0 replies      
Believe it or not.
jeremyrwelch 1 day ago 0 replies      
to infinity and beyond
shaun_gulling 1 day ago 0 replies      
Hey did you guys see the video of the guy flying on YouTube?
Inception Explained: a really cool scrolling animation of the plot inception-explained.com
343 points by picklepete  22 hours ago   120 comments top 18
Pewpewarrows 22 hours ago 4 replies      
This was really well done. I'd just like to point out a few things, as someone who's watched Inception way too many times:

1) It is never said that 3 levels is the maximum depth of a dream until Limbo occurs. My interpretation has always been that Cobb and Ariadne hooked up a shared-dream machine to Fisher's dead body, which brought them into Limbo.

2) Why are there 2 Limbos? There's the one Cobb and Ariadne follow Fisher and Mal into (which has the architecture of the Limbo that Cobb and Mal shared all those years ago). There's then the Limbo that Cobb and Saito share, where it looks like Saito architected the environment (Asian influences). And if they were the same Limbo, why was Cobb washed up on a shore with no memory of how he got there in Saito's Limbo?

3) In the Limbo that Cobb and Mal shared, all they needed to do was kill themselves to wake up. Why then was the defibrillator needed to wake Fisher up from death in Limbo to Dream 3?

Jabbles 20 hours ago 2 replies      
Perhaps someone here can explain something that has annoyed me since I saw Inception. Falling (accelerating under gravity) is meant to "wake you up". Whilst falling you feel weightless - almost by definition (if you and the weighing machine are accelerating in sync, you apply no pressure to it). For some reason falling causes the loss of gravity in the dream world, and there's that whole scene about "recreating gravity". But since falling is indistinguishable from being weightless, what is stopping the dreamers from waking up? And why does weightlessness only go one level down?


irishcoffee 21 hours ago  replies      
Am I the only one who gets annoyed when people think inception was some stupid-deep, hard-to-understand movie?

It was (I thought) very straight-forward. The bigger problems with the movie come from the plot holes pointed out by Pewpewarrows. Do those holes perhaps contribute to the confusion?

swang 20 hours ago 2 replies      
While these scroll sites are pretty cool... I don't know if its the javascript library or maybe that is the affect the site's creator wanted but it doesn't feel smooth.

Maybe because of the scroll speed the animations have fewer frames to animate which makes it look choppy? I'm not sure.

jacquesm 21 hours ago 0 replies      
Check out #5 for another illustrated version of the plot, and one that predates the movie:


jsnell 17 hours ago 1 reply      
I don't understand how this is a "cool animation". In both Chrome and Firefox it does nothing by default. Pressing up or down moves the page by a single (useless) frame. Pressing page up or page down moves it by some random number of frames. Again totally useless, since it often ends up in a middle of some fade-in or fade-out. The scroll wheel is no better. Nor the scroll bar. What am I missing?

The content might be interesting, but it's impossible to tell since this might be the worst way of presenting data I've seen this year. Which is quite an achievement, congratulations :-)

jeffthebear 21 hours ago 0 replies      
lurchpop 3 hours ago 0 replies      
that's probably really cool on a fast computer.
kreek 18 hours ago 0 replies      
The first illustrated version of Inception is here http://disneycomics.free.fr/Ducks/Rosa/show.php?num=1&lo...
franze 17 hours ago 0 replies      
i get a spammy access-restriction warning (see screenshot: https://img.skitch.com/20120321-86btw83e3gcnea6x4prr8wcj75.p...
huhtenberg 21 hours ago 0 replies      
This is even more confusing than the film :)
kyasui 22 hours ago 6 replies      
This froze my entire computer (newish macbook pro) and and I had to restart. Also didnt have that much stuff open, anyone else?
irrationalfab 19 hours ago 2 replies      
Out of curiosity, does anybody have an estimation about how much money the link (which I assume to be affiliated) may generate?
jkrsna 21 hours ago 1 reply      
Can someone explain how its done?
callmeed 16 hours ago 3 replies      
So does the top stop spinning or not!?
sukuriant 17 hours ago 0 replies      
The webpage is very garbled in IE9
caycep 21 hours ago 0 replies      
So how does this work in VMWare? :P
marknutter 21 hours ago 1 reply      
Great way to make some quick cash via the affiliate link.
Fluid windows toki-woki.net
334 points by bpierre  2 days ago   103 comments top 24
jjcm 2 days ago 4 replies      
I work for Microsoft as a UX prototyper. This is actually not only cool, but useful. I'll forward this around internally.
brianpan 2 days ago 3 replies      
This is a very cool idea and I definitely see the problem that it solves, but it also has the downside of not being a metaphor for something physical.

It's a little strange to see these controls which are currently very anchored in the corner of the window to be moving and sliding around, especially when the view inside the window is scrolling off the screen.

I could see people running into trouble when they've somehow moved the window partially obscuring controls. But if the controls are off the screen, I think it reinforces the idea that this "box" is a window into an application. It doesn't resize unless you grab an edge. (1) I don't mind making the tradeoff towards beginners understanding the computer when there are keyboard shortcuts for advanced users.

(1) This is now worse in OS X from a metaphor perspective. Before you could only resize from the bottom-right where there was a gripper. Now you can resize from any outside edge and there are no grippers/indicators. http://arstechnica.com/apple/reviews/2011/07/mac-os-x-10-7.a...

georgemcbay 2 days ago 1 reply      
This would be awesome though on Windows (don't have much experience programming Mac UI, so maybe there too) it would break programs that make assumptions about how the non-client area of a window operates.

Quite a few programs do custom rendering up there in a way that would make it difficult to retrofit this in a universally compatible way. These programs would at a minimum need to get events to know that the various elements have moved which would require code changes in the programs to listen for and react to those events. Given how much Microsoft bends over backwards to maintain Win32 compatibility (less than in the past, but still far more than average), I doubt they'd put something like this in unless it was a wholesale interface change (similar to Metro... which avoids this issue altogether by just not having title bars).

lubutu 2 days ago 2 replies      
The Haiku window manager does exactly this, but it also resizes the viewport such that the scrollbars are always visible. I've always thought it would be a great feature in other stacking window managers.
Jach 2 days ago 0 replies      
I'm not a fan, also I don't like the name--I was expecting something like Wobbly Windows, but more fluid-y instead of rubbery. (Someone should at least edit the HN title to the original title of Fluid Corners.)

For the Windows version, dragging it pretty far to the right leaves essentially just the close button group left. So what if I want to drag it back? I'm incredibly more likely to accidentally click one of those buttons instead of correctly grab the tiny sliver of space to redrag. (Because when I drag things off-screen, I usually bring them back eventually, not to close them, but to use them.) This seems like a solution ot a non-problem. Do most people really close/minimize/maximize windows immediately after dragging them back fully on-screen?

dgeb 2 days ago 0 replies      
I approve! One of the most annoying aspects of OS X (pre-Lion) was hunting for the lower right corner to resize windows. Thankfully, all sides of a window can now be used for resizing. This is a good vision for extending ease-of-resizing further.

It would also force the priority of responsive design. Now that we all work at so many different resolutions, apps and sites should adapt seamlessly to resizing.

francoisdevlin 2 days ago 0 replies      
Very, very cool. Would love to see this implemented somehow. Would save me from lots of "mouse goofs"
Derbasti 2 days ago 2 replies      
That is a great idea! Even greater would be to extend this to a consistent way to manage windows whose title bar is above to upper screen edge.

Both Windows and Mac OS try pretty hard to avoid this, but with two monitors it happens every now and then--especially when unpluggin/plugging the secondary monitor.

Without the title bar, it can be really hard to get the window back on the screen. Usually involves, if possible, resizing the window so it shows on both screens or unplugging/re-plugging the secondary monitor.

tcarnell 2 days ago 3 replies      
I am amazed at how poorly modern keyboards support our highly visual modern user interfaces. Wouldn't the following keyboard buttons be generally REALLY useful:

- Open

- Close/Exit

- Save

- Copy

- Paste

- Menu (to list available context options)

- Help (to show context help)

- Maximize/Restore (toggle mode)

- Info

And the potentially very useful directional arrows keys are almost completely useless except when editing text (although game developers use them meaningfully)

The keyboard is also littered with buttons whose function are designed specifically for text editing, not necesarily a bad thing, but when was the last time anybody actually reviewed the efficiency of the modern keyboard to discover if it is doing a good job or not!?!?!

huhtenberg 2 days ago 0 replies      
I would rather have the button block simply jump to the other side of the window (instead of being pushed there by the window edge). IMO your version is just too fancy for the routine day-to-day use.
jrockway 2 days ago 0 replies      
I solved this problem by not having window decorations and not allowing windows to be partially off-screen.
mrschwabe 2 days ago 1 reply      
Quick, patent this!
mhd 2 days ago 2 replies      
I remember some X11 window manager that used BeOS like tabs doing something similar (either one of the twm hacks/successors, or a wm that allowed you to merge tabs)…
hmottestad 2 days ago 0 replies      
That is really smart. Though I don't think anyone is going to implement it (except maybe gnome) because the world of UI is shifting to mobile, even if the "desktop" computer will stay with us for many years to come. Had you thought of this 10 years ago ;)
waxjar 2 days ago 0 replies      
I think the OS X version is a bit confusing, to be honest. There are too many elements sliding around and resizing. The problem it aims to fix is also still partially unsolved when the screen is dragged 'too far' (http://i.imgur.com/Q4Ktw.png).

The Windows version isn't confusing at all though (in its current implementation). I think this would be a really nice feature on Windows.

jakeonthemove 2 days ago 1 reply      
I don't see how this could be useful - why would I drag a window outside of the viewable area?

If I do, it's probably because I want it easily accessible but not obstructing other windows, so these buttons would make it harder to drag it back.

For multiple monitors - the controls are dragged to the other monitor as well...

sbmassey 2 days ago 0 replies      
With the Mac, a lot of people (i.e. me) will have the Dock in the way when you drag off screen: keeping the window buttons onscreen wouldn't help much, since they'd be behind the Dock, and sliding the buttons to keep outside the Dock area would probably be too weird-looking.
kleiba 2 days ago 1 reply      
It doesn't work for me, what is supposed to happen?
joejohnson 2 days ago 2 replies      
I keep accidentally losing the window by dragging past the bottom of the "screen" and letting go.
ndcrandall 2 days ago 0 replies      
This is really cool and I'd love to use it! The one thing I'd like to see is some more gap on the windows side when it is dragged all the way to the right. With some gap I wouldn't click close or minimize when trying to move it back. The mac has enough gap with the title.
zobzu 2 days ago 0 replies      
On most Linux WM buttons are left and right hehe.
tcarnell 2 days ago 0 replies      
mariusmg 2 days ago 0 replies      
There are some little things called hotkeys........
jasonkolb 2 days ago 1 reply      
Um, I have no idea if this is cool or not, because I'm sitting in a doctor's office on my iPhone.

Is it really too much to ask to implement swipe gestures in JavaScript? The world is mobile now. Whether this is actually cool or not I shall never know, it has disqualified itself from my web browsing time.

Coding Horror - Welcome to the Post PC Era codinghorror.com
325 points by kreutz  2 days ago   292 comments top 46
VonLipwig 2 days ago 3 replies      
I disagree with the post.

"""The slope of this graph is the whole story. The complicated general purpose computers are at the bottom, and the simpler specialized computers are at the top."""

This is a terrible graph. The Mac has always been a premium niche computer. 28 years ago computing was in its infancy and computers were expensive, unnetworked with limited benefit to the average household.

Compare this the iPad / iPod Touch and iPhone. These are main stream devices that achieved immediate traction. It is unrealistic to compare Mac sales with those of main stream devices.

You then have the desktop market as a whole. If you compare any single company or brand of desktop against iPad sales, desktop sales would look in trouble. However, if you compare desktop sales to tablet sales it is clear that tablets are still only in their infancy.


I don't know if this true but it doesn't matter and it doesn't say much about the state of desktops. Everyone has a computer, the market is saturated. No one has a tablet. It makes sense that tablet sales would rocket.

Buying tablets also make a lot of sense for people who just consume content. The fact is though that the iPad isn't great for productivity. It is far better for consuming content. This is what most people do.

However if you want to program, edit images, write a novel, maintain spreadsheets, make movies etc a desktop / laptop is what you need.

The PC isn't dead and it isn't dying. It has reached a point where people only buy replacements. Now yes, some people may switch perminantly to a tablet. Thats fine. For the forseeable future though there will be a large market of business and consumers who require more than a tablet can provide.


The article also touches on how great the new iPad screen is. I don't think its all that. I walked past the demo of 'the new iPad' twice before asking a sales guy to point to which one was 'the new iPad'. Yes, if you put the screen close to your face you see less pixelation on icons. For general web surfing though I saw no perceived difference. Hell, I don't really see any pixelation on my iPad2. Perhaps I am not holding it close enough to my face...

julian37 2 days ago  replies      
I think Atwood is right, PCs are on their way out simply because with tablets there is so much less that can go wrong. He mentions tech support in the article: THAT is why they will win, regardless of whether or not they will fully replace PCs, or whether or not they are better suited to writing emails. Millions of people who can't be bothered with anti-virus updates and the like will just find it a much more pleasant experience: "it just works" indeed.

(I'm a Mac user and I find myself spending a lot less time on tech support type issues than back in the day when I was using Linux and Windows, still it's hard to deny that iPads are currently the epitome of simplicity, compared to their power.)

And that's what I'm worried about: "No user serviceable parts inside". I'm concerned the very reason tablets will take over the PC market will also mean that tomorrow's kids' experience is very different from, and I would argue poorer than, my experience when I got my first computer, a Commodore VIC 20.

Ironically, my VIC 20 also was very user friendly. You turn it on, it's on. You put in a diskette -- well, it didn't load automatically but making it load was a very simple incantation, and once the game started, it was started. Things were simple and worked, for the most part, quite well. No tech support needed. But the BASIC shell was there right at your fingertips -- hell, the manual came with example BASIC programs.

Quibbling over the merits of BASIC aside, it was a simple experience but it was also tremendously open.

Things got much more complicated since then; network connectivity in particular introduced previously unknown threats to users, so of course this is a simplified comparison. Still, I wonder, is giving up the freedom to tinker with the system really the price tomorrow's consumers will have to pay in order to buy simplicity?

And if you're thinking about replying with links to IDEs running on the iPad: no, something that runs in the cloud and has no direct access whatsoever to the internals of the machine does not qualify as a modern-day replacement for this experience, no matter how sophisticated.

zalew 2 days ago  replies      
Ok folks, let me know when you throw out your computers. I mean, seriously. I don't want to hear the 100th story about how ipad changed your life unless you literally get rid of your computer. If the number of people who replaced a computer with a tablet exceeds the number of people who still have one, we can talk about that post-pc mumbo-jumbo. So, how's gonna be?
martythemaniak 2 days ago 3 replies      
"But until the iPhone and iPad, near as I can tell, nobody else was even trying to improve resolution on computer displays"

The original Droid came out in Nov '09 and had a 265ppi screen (same as the new iPad). When I upgraded from my 1st gen iPhone to the Nexus One shortly after that and put the two side-by-side, I simply could not stop admiring how incredible the screen was.

Sorry, but it really was just simple economics and we would've gotten high-DPI displays regardless.

ChuckMcM 2 days ago 0 replies      
Atwood's thesis is that the new iPad improved on those things that make tablets useful.

I agree with him that the updated display is the killer feature. But you have to give props to a high performance wireless network architecture too.

That being said, two tablets with identical specs, I prefer an Android tablet and a more accessible ecosystem, the problem for Android right now is the R&D and supply chain investment competition. Ten manufacturers each investing 10 million in their tablet design is not nearly as efficient as one person investing 100 million in their tablet design.

I keep hoping Google will address that issue by providing hardware/manufacturing R&D but it isn't one of their core competencies. When I worked there folks would call me to get in introduction to the folks designing the next Android phone, I'd chuckle and explain they had to go talk to Motorola or HTC. Perhaps now with their Motorola acquisition they will be in a place to make that investment, time will tell.

pygorex 2 days ago 9 replies      
The day I can code an iPad app on the iPad is the day I enter the post-pc era.

Or code, test & deploy web apps from an iPad.

Or design & layout web pages on an iPad.

We live in a post-mainframe era even though mainframes are still alive an kicking. But a mainframe isn't required create, test and deploy PC software. Once PCs are no longer required to create, test and deploy code for mobile devices we'll be in a post-PC era - that is, once PCs are no longer a required part of the general purpose computing ecosystem.

stcredzero 2 days ago 1 reply      
But Steve Jobs certainly saw the Post PC era looming as far back as 1996:

The desktop computer industry is dead. Innovation has virtually ceased. Microsoft dominates with very little innovation. That's over. Apple lost. The desktop market has entered the dark ages, and it's going to be in the dark ages for the next 10 years, or certainly for the rest of this decade.

If I were running Apple, I would milk the Macintosh for all it's worth " and get busy on the next great thing. The PC wars are over. Done. Microsoft won a long time ago.

The fact that Steve jobs could see this coming from back in 1996 is incredible. Add to that, that Steve also knew all through the Tablet PC initiatives of the early 2000's that it was too soon, technology wasn't able to properly support the post-PC form factors yet, and that styluses were a loser proposition. Bill Gates also saw the same forces at play, but he responded in the early 2000's with a failed attempt to move the PC into the next era. I guess that's a natural reaction for the winner of the PC era -- to try and carry it on.

You can see the same forces at play in the audio industry. Audio has gone beyond the early DIY tinkerer days, through a period of standardization and ubiquity, through an era where big, complicated, elaborate machinery was a status display, to a time of maturity where convenience and design prevails and the technology fades into the background.

The problem with audio, is that it doesn't let us extrapolate to the future. What's next? I can see a period where feature-phones increase in capability to the point where they're like the 1st generation smartphones, but with networks that are 1000X more capable -- just in time for widespread adoption by the developing world.

Will the developing world leapfrog the developed world in much the same way that it skipped over the era of hardwired networks straight to mobile? Will they be coming to economic power just as the digital realm has obsoleted many forms of material wealth?

danso 2 days ago 3 replies      
>> iPad 3 reviews that complain "all they did was improve the display" are clueless bordering on stupidity. Tablets are pretty much by definition all display; nothing is more fundamental to the tablet experience than the quality of the display.

While I agree that the display improvements are noteworthy, I would say that tablets are not "by definition all display." The tactile interaction is as much a part of a tablet's worth.

mcantelon 2 days ago 3 replies      
Laptops were way more revolutionary than *pads.

"Post-pc" is just a talking point. The post-PC era will eliminate PCs like McDonalds eliminated kitchens.

nikatwork 2 days ago 0 replies      
As happens all too often at HN, these comments are devolving into a pedantic argument about definitions and irrelevant technicalities.

Atwood does not say "hey throw out your PCs". In fact, he opens by stating that PCs are already ubiquitous. This article examines the idea that major innovation is currently happening in the post PC area. He posits that the new iPad display is a killer feature.

This is a much more interesting talking point than "o noes but my Linux netbook is kewler".

RyanMcGreal 2 days ago 0 replies      
I realize I'm straying dangerously close to Get Off My Lawn territory, but I worry about the post-PC era. As a programmer, I worry about turning into a sharecropper on a closed platform [1].

[1] http://www.tbray.org/ongoing/When/200x/2003/07/12/WebsThePla...

As a consumer, I worry about "buying" a closed, networked device and discovering that I don't really own it, but merely have a licence to use it under draconian terms of service. I don't want to "buy" a book or a movie or a piece of software, only to have it yanked off my device remotely.

Meanwhile, the government of my country (Canada) is rolling out a new copyright law that will make it a criminal offence to circumvent "digital locks", even if it's for legitimate, legal personal use.

However, I still hold out hope that as the technology matures, costs fall and competitors catch up to Apple's tight vertical integration, it becomes more feasible to run a full-featured open source device with a healthy ecosystem built around it.

mark_l_watson 2 days ago 0 replies      
I love my iPad 2, don't get me wrong. The thing is, for me the iPad supplements my MacBook Pro: acts as a second monitor, I use it for reading, and it is just large enough to be good for watching movies.

The thing is, most of my computer use is programming and writing. I need a keyboard, support for a term window, Emacs and IntelliJ, TeXShop, etc.

I might be able to earn a living using just an iPad by running a term app and doing development using a remote Linux server with SSH, Emacs, etc. and do writing using Pages, but that would be like running a race hopping on one foot.

I think that "iPad 5" might do it for me however: a larger physical screen size, about half the weight, and great IDE support for doing Lisp, Java, Clojure, etc. I'll wait 2 years and see. I think that this will require new paradigms in writing and programming tools. Mind is open.

ezy 2 days ago 1 reply      
Not yet.

My wife is not an advanced user of computers by any stretch of the imagination, but I would never buy an iPad for her.

She has a DSLR and 60k photos in iPhoto (~320G). iPads will eventually store this much in 3 years, but you will want it backed up somewhere (and in 3 years the "cloud" still won't be doing this much (personal) data at a reasonable personal cost compared to a physical device). And she will not be tolerant of doing edits or looking at photos on a 10" screen.

Not to mention that once you increase the screen size, portability goes out the window -- you will have a monitor. And guess what? Touch input doesn't really work ergonomically on a 24" monitor.

There are solutions, Airplay will obviously be involved, as will BT input devices. But it's not quite ready for prime-time yet.

firefoxman1 2 days ago 0 replies      
"nothing is more fundamental to the tablet experience than the quality of the display"

Well, I'd have to say the OS's interface and overall UX is more important. Maybe not for some, but it's a big deal for me.

malux85 2 days ago 0 replies      
Yep, the article is right BUT it's for consumers. The iPad has allowed my grandmother (who is so old fashioned she doesn't believe woman should drive) to pick up a device and video call me on the other side of the world - we told her "It's not a computer, it's a new invention" and she picked it up and invested time in learning it.

Most people here are actually producers when it comes to computers, so most people say things like "I still need to product (spreadsheet | programming | lolcat images)" and the pc will never go away. But I think this article was talking about your websurfing, facebook updating, web reading consumers.

sdfjkl 2 days ago 0 replies      
Just today in the IT department (this is why it's good to occasionally work in the office): "So my old PC at home finally bought it. I've seen you're all using Macs (this guy is observant) and I've been wondering if I should get one of them. Or could I just get an iPad instead? I've been tempted to get one of them anyways".

Turns out the iPad does everything he and the wife want, which is mostly surfing the web, listening to iTunes[1] and getting pictures from their point-and-shoot camera to someplace safe. Remaining issue: printing the odd document. But you can get an AirPrint enabled smearjet for £35.

Our recommendation: Get the iPad now, see if it does everything you want. If it does, get another iPad for the wife instead of that Mac you'd share between you.

[1] Explaining iTunes Match made his eyes light up: "So I won't need to back it up[2] to an USB disk anymore? And I don't need to buy the 64 GB iPad to fit it all on?" (Hey, it's like someone designed this service for people like him).

[2] Most casual computer users seem to do this these days because they've already learnt the hard lesson of losing all their stuff once.

ericfrenkiel 2 days ago 0 replies      
I was so inspired by this article that I actually went to the Apple store in San Francisco and purchased the iPad this evening. After spending a couple hours with it, I'm certainly impressed by the hardware, but I've already decided to return the device tomorrow.

It's a great couch device, but it's too heavy to carry with you. I don't carry a murse, and I'd rather sling a Macbook Air than this for the extra functionality.

Minor things include it running too hot, and the flip cover leaving striated streaks on the display. In my opinion, iOS doesn't scale properly at this size - there is too much white space between the icons on the home screen, for example, and I would prefer to see widgets to show more information without having to open an app.

Ultimately, whether you're happy with the iPad is how much you buy into the Apple cloud versus the Google cloud.

In all truth, there is very little difference between the iPad 2 and the iPad HD. If you squint and peer very close to the screen you can see how high quality the screen is, but looking at the device from where it rests in your hands it's almost impossible to tell the difference.

wisty 2 days ago 0 replies      
To all the people who are sad - it will be OK.

Workstations killed mainframes, because you didn't need that stupid command line. You could point and click. But real software engineers would install UNIX tools, or SSH (or telnet) into a server, and take advantage of the pretty display for richer reports.

PCs killed workstations, because they were cheaper, and their OS was more user friendly. Unfortunately, "user friendly" meant "dumbed down". You could take advantage of innovations in IDEs, word processors, email programs, and web browser; but it was harder to instal UNIX tools. You could still SSH into a server (which would be a workstation, if you were on a tight budget) and get UNIX stuff done. You could also configure X, and do workstation stuff.

Now, tablets are killing PCs, because they are cheaper, more portable, and more "user friendly" (dumbed down). There's probably no way to install UNIX tools. But you can get a virtual server for peanuts (or set up a home PC), hook up a USB keyboard, and an SSH "app", and everything is fine. The display is a bit small, but many tablets these days can power a HD display (look at the Raspberry Pi, which uses mobile phone components). Apple may or may not include the right port, but Android tablets can. And you can take advantage of innovations in touch interfaces.

program247365 2 days ago 0 replies      
Jeff is making the point that [Apple is] "fundamentally innovating in computing as a whole...".

I see the iOS devices (iPhone/iPod Touch/iPad), as just the beginning. Apple has made astounding progress on these mobile devices where their competitors haven't really caught up to yet:

1) The display, amazingly higher-res than HDTVs now (2048-by-1536-pixel resolution at 264 pixels per inch (ppi))

2) Connectivity (Wifi/multiple carriers/LTE even)

3) Battery life to weight ratio (9hrs using cellular network, at 1.46lbs)*

4) Graphics/Processor punch (Dual A5X processor with quad-core graphics)

5) An ecosystem of applications that are on the whole, of good quality, and generate a lot of revenue (25 Billion apps sold [2])

When I say "just the beginning", I really mean that. And I don't mean that Apple will always be at the top, probably not by a long shot. What I want to ask, and I wonder why everyone else isn't asking is, what's next? Apple won't be at the tippy top forever, so won't the next generation of innovators please stand up?

[1] Anyone remember lugging around their 8+ lbs Dell laptop, that had a battery that lasted maybe 2 hours in 2005? I do. My back still hurts.

[2] http://www.apple.com/pr/library/2012/03/05Apples-App-Store-D...

thwest 2 days ago 0 replies      
PCs will stick around, of course. The worry for me is that when PCs serve only engineers and content creators the production scales will diminish, and prices increase.
rmk2 2 days ago 0 replies      
What irks me the most about the "post pc era" is its genesis. It is portrayed as a revolution that will fundamentally change computing.

However, by dubbing the tablet the "post-pc", its very definition still depends on the pc, being a definition ex negativo. Many of the arguments here are about whether the tablet can do everything a pc does.

The tablet does not revolutionise cultural artifacts or cultural goods, it merely allows for a consumption that is somewhat different from the consumption the pc offers. The consumed goods do not change, social media, media, art and science remain exactly the same, namely consumable goods.

The established dichotomy between the pc and the tablet is a fake one, used to artificially create demand that can then be met through new supplies.

The tablet does not change the mode of production, it is merely another facet of consumption, this time even more openly advertised as such by being advertised a "consumer device".

Calling it innovation is in my opinion a misrepresentation, because it basically reinvents the wheel once more, it undergoes the same syntheses and evolution as the pc did, just accelerated thanks to already available knowledge.

The tablet is a clever remix of technologies already available. It combines different modes of consumption previously divided, but it only changes the mode of reception, not production.

True innovation on the other hand has to change the modes of production first. The tablet cannot achieve anything other items cannot also do, and is thus not innovation or revolution, it is merely evolution, or even just another playing field added alongside others.

Film, recorded music, books and the radio changed the means of production, as did the pc. The walkman, the tablet and the tv may have changed the modes of reception, but nothing new can be created through them that wasn't already available beforehand and is merely refined, not substantially altered.

The "war" of tablets vs pc is just another sales pitch to make either more appealing to their individual audiences.

>> edit (for ease of understanding, an example)

As an example that is less abstract, take the "Hipster". Wearing clothing that is tattered might be "cool" to you and you wear it "ironically, as a statement". If you are poor however, you might have to wear tattered clothes because you lack the means to afford something else. Ironically or not, you are fundamentally still wearing tattered clothes. Irony does not influence the plane of action, but instead the plane of ideas, or in other words: ideology. It's the same in the debate of tablet vs pc: Whether you type a blog-post on your touchscreened tablet or with a keyboard on your pc doesn't change the underlying action, just the mode of action. Whether you prefer one over the other is ideology, the basic action remains unchanged.

>> end edit

bitsweet 2 days ago 2 replies      
Updates. Toolbars. Service Packs. Settings. Anti-virus. Filesystems. Control panels. All the stuff you hate when your Mom calls you for tech support?

Sounds more like a Windows problem then a pc problem. Since converting my family to Macs, I haven't had to handle any of this stuff but when they used Windows it was a monthly annoyance.

melling 2 days ago 0 replies      
Apple already announced the Post-PC era. It'll be a slow transition for a couple of more years. We really better input options. Fingers are great but sometimes I want precision.

What's interesting about Jeff coming around is that he's a pretty hard-core Windows guy. It was funny to have Macs come up on the StackOverFlow podcast. Joel would recommend it for family, etc and you could hear it in Jeff's voice that he didn't see the need. We'll find out in 6 months if it's going to be a 3 horse race.

Now Jeff has a reason to learn C. Not to worry, ObjC on iOS is not your father's C. It's a lot more fun.

j_baker 2 days ago 1 reply      
Email has been around (in some form) since 1965. However, I think it's a bit too early to say that we're living in a "post-mail era". Will such a thing every truly happen? I don't see that happening until we invent teleporters for all the physical items we need shipped.

By that same token, are we truly in a post-PC era, or is it simply an era where tablet use is on the rise and PC use is on the fall? Nifty charts and screen resolutions aside, I don't see any evidence that we're past the age of the PC. My parents still haven't replaced their computer with an iPad. Neither have any of my old friends from school. I use my tablet for more and more, but I just still can't avoid using my laptop for certain things. And I most certainly don't have a tablet or phone hooked up to my television. And how many offices have you seen where all the PCs have been replaced by mobile devices?

In short, while I see things moving more towards tablets and mobile devices, I'll be convinced that we're in a post-PC era when I see it. Until then, it's all arbitrary speculation.

eslaught 2 days ago 2 replies      
"all the existing HCI research tells us that higher resolution displays are a deep fundamental improvement in computing"

Citations, please?

bicknergseng 2 days ago 2 replies      
"Very, very small PCs " the kind you could fit in your pocket " are starting to have the same amount of computing grunt as a high end desktop PC of, say, 5 years ago. And that was plenty, even back then, for a relatively inefficient general purpose operating system."

I would argue that it's more than they need, that a service like OnLive is before its time but not more than a few years from hitting prime. I would say get ready for the Post Hardware Era.

jroseattle 2 days ago 0 replies      
I usually agree with most everything Jeff writes, but I'm highly skeptical that what pushed the "post-PC" era over the top was better display support.

I've seen the screens, they look nice and crisp and clear and...I kind of don't care. Oh, the views on it are great, but it offers me nothing new.

Quite frankly, as product releases go, I question whether Steve would have let this out the door. It's a nice product, but insanely great? In comparison to prior developments, I don't think it meets that bar.

kriskeyman 1 day ago 0 replies      
Two years ago I bought my mom an iPad. I was hesitant to do so because I wasn't sure if she would actually use it. A year ago I bought her a new iMac (upgrade from a previous gen. iMac). She likes it, but now considers the iPad to be her main computing device.

My 5 year old son spends 90% of his supervised 'computer time' on an iPad. He doesn't understand the concept of a pixel, or why it's good that we don't see them. He has an older iMac in his room, but still prefers using the iPad as his 'main computing device'.

Talk about burning a candle at both ends! The term 'desktop' is archaic when thinking about a computer as a tool. Designers and engineers on the forefront of technology are spending their time creating devices for the 'Post PC' generation... not creating a better 'desktop'.

Reading some of the comments here, I cannot help but picture the accountant who still keeps his numbers in a [paper] notebook. At least they still make pencils!

ridruejo 2 days ago 0 replies      
It is probably not much the hardware itself as the concept. Everybody can figure out how to use a tablet, the app store, etc. but not everybody can figure out how to use Windows or Ubuntu or OS X. We are close to the point in which everything a 'normal' person (not a developer) may want to do with a computer, such as listen to music, watching videos, receiving and sending email, buying plane tickets he or she can do with an iPad.
PhilipG 2 days ago 0 replies      
For me, the time per day I spend on a PC has not changed since getting a tablet. However I can count on my hands the number of times I have bothered turn on TV since getting tablet. The tablet has replaced the TV for me.
ck2 2 days ago 4 replies      
It's 264 PPI, not DPI.

My monitor is 2048 x 1152 23 inches.

20.05" - 11.28" (50.92cm - 28.64cm) = 102.16 PPI, 0.2486mm dot pitch, 10437 PPI²

At one foot away I still cannot see the individual dots.

There's been a 200 PPI option for over a decade now:


If the ipad3 has added expense or limited availability to get ppi above 100, it was a waste.

netcan 2 days ago 0 replies      
I think the demand for tablet-like-PCs is potentially huge. If I'm right, their first couple of years will probably tell us where the frontiers between PCs and post-PCs are and what the world will look like.
mangoman 2 days ago 0 replies      
As a hacker, I feel like I am missing out on the wonders of tablets and the Ipad that I see non-hackers getting extremely excited about. I can get super excited about my smartphone, but that's because the device(s) it replaced were infinitely less exciting (my dumbphone, my mp3 player). But for Ipads, I just feel like everything I could do with them can be done on my laptop better. My laptop has a bigger screen so movies is a more pleasant experience. I can play more fun games on my laptop (The many many years of flash games is probably more vast than the games on the Ipad). I can compose documents more comfortably than i can type on a touch screen. I can CODE on my laptop! Granted, my laptop doesn't have 10 hours of battery, or that level of pixel density (where i completely agree with Atwood, displays need to get better), but I have yet to find a reason to buy a tablet. I think that non-hackers who don't really use that many features of a PC should get VERY excited about tablets, but until I can program on a tablet comfortably, I don't think I could bite the bullet and buy one.
pixelcort 2 days ago 0 replies      
I'm curious how that chart would look taking into account US and international population growth in the last few decades. Perhaps devices per capita is a better ratio?
ivanhoe 2 days ago 2 replies      
There is an exponential relation between required dpi and distance of the eye from the printed material or monitor (further you are, less and less dpi is needed). Therefore I'm not sure retina screens are such a great idea for big desktop screens, in a usual desktop setup you probably just wouldn't notice that much difference.
cowkingdeluxe 2 days ago 0 replies      
An apple product changed everything? Again? Does this one even connect via USB for data transfer? What about HDMI?
asdfpoiu 2 days ago 2 replies      
Open hardware to the rescue of the PC!

I think the (not-too-distant) future of home computing will have a lot in common with today's PCs. Articles like this one always seem to underestimate the amount of real creative or productive work people want to do -- something which is still a challenge on the iPads of today. Have YOU compared typing on a small screen to a big one?

With custom manufacturing becoming affordable, as traditional computers start dying, open source hardware will start replacing them. I think we are seeing the first steps in this direction with Raspberry PI, hobbyist open hardware people, 3D printing (in the future: cheap chip printing?), CryogenMod, etc.

shahar2k 2 days ago 0 replies      
I'd argue that there is one last barrier to these slate based computers (smartphones, tablets) and that is to take these screens and make them sunlight readable (reflective), color, same retina resolution, and same refresh rate.

once the screen no longer requires a backlight, and can be readable any place a book can, computers will truly be ubiquitous. as for creation tools on these machines they are beginning to arrive now, and they will become more and more mature as time goes on. hopefully a less controlled ecosystem will win out but that much I dont know I can predict.

greggman 2 days ago 1 reply      
Really? Hi-def = no more pc? What does an iPad 3 do that an iPad 2 doesn't? How did hd res change anything?

The end of the PC era may be near but it's not because of 10inch hd screens.

test4334 2 days ago 0 replies      
Screen resolutions are not growing because Windows doesn't scale display well.

Real world: many people and a business I know use HD resolution on Full HD displays (and 800x600 on 1280x1024 displays) just because letters are bigger.

I really hate current standard resolution: 1366x768. It fits 20 lines of code in Visual Studio. Even 10 years ago we had better monitors.

justinhj 2 days ago 0 replies      
I think the article is correct except for its timing. The iPad 1 did all of this, the updated display resolution really doesn't change the device fundamentally. Sure the fonts and icons look great to Jeff, who just bought his first iPad. But guess what? They looked great on iPad 1 too.
jQueryIsAwesome 2 days ago 0 replies      
Lets play to the clairvoyant, the post-tablet era is going to be glasses-PC (circa 2025) and after that is going to be micro holographic touch projectors (circa 2040); and those are going to be more like terminals with everything in the cloud.
gtruilmopl 2 days ago 0 replies      
I've been netbooking it for my chillin' computin' for the past couple years. Since getting an 800x400 AMOLED screen on a smartphone, I haven't even thought about getting a new netbook. There are all sorts of useful form factors. the iPad _IS_ a PC. It just uses a different CPU and proprietary hardware.

Now... a small and light PC that is completely intractable with via a touchscreen, wireless data, etc...

That's a goddamn miracle.

Bloggers just love to historicize the present.

gcb 2 days ago 1 reply      
a guy that writes a blog about coding happy that the new 'era' will not allow you any coding
twelvechairs 2 days ago 0 replies      
The author conflates 'PC' with 'desktop' and 'general purpose computer', which I take issue with. Three points:

Firstly: The iPad is a PC, a 'personal computer'

Secondly: The quotes refer to 'desktop computer' era being over (though one uses the term 'PC' in the context of 'PC wars'), so why not use 'desktop computer era is over' as the title?(more accurate though less shocking)

Thirdly: Through all this conflation, the author also tries to say that the 'general purpose computer' era is over. Personally, I believe there is a big future in 'general-purpose computer' tablets/phones/etc. (non 'desktop'), as well as in desktops and there is not a shred of evidence in the article which challenges this view...

gavingmiller 2 days ago 4 replies      
The lack of a decent point in this article makes me wonder whether Apple paid Atwood to write this piece.
Git project seeks discussion on "push" change lwn.net
319 points by taylorbuley  2 days ago   82 comments top 23
CJefferson 2 days ago  replies      
I certainly wish that 'git push' was symmetric with 'git pull'. Several times I have had people ask me why 'git push' is complaining about unmerged branches, when 'git pull' says there is nothing to do.

It gives me hope for the future of git that unlike many projects, they are willing to make these kinds of breaking changes to improve usability.

julian37 2 days ago 3 replies      
As pointed out by somebody in the comments, you can get this new behavior today by running

  git config --global push.default upstream

See also http://stackoverflow.com/a/948397

EDIT: actually, the proposed change is to "upstream" and not "current", edited the command to reflect this.

endlessvoid94 2 days ago 2 replies      
I always, always, always specify the remote and branch name whenever I push. It's saved me many headaches; colleagues often seem annoyed that I do this, but for some reason making it a habit has been invaluable.

I do, however, support "getting the defaults right".

hammerdr 2 days ago 1 reply      
I've trained several people to used Git across a number of projects and technologies.

This is, by far, the biggest head scratcher of git. People can get incredibly caught up in the fact that this is the default behavior. +1

srl 2 days ago 0 replies      
+1 from me. I don't actually benefit from the new behavour much more than the current behaviour (my personal usage pattern results in me wanting to always push all branches), but it logically makes much more sense.

As noted elsewhere, it's good to see the folks at git are willing to make breaking changes for the greater good.

spullara 2 days ago 1 reply      
Hopefully this is just the beginning of the Git project attacking usability problems with the command line client.
mikeocool 2 days ago 0 replies      
This seems like a great change.

The 'Rejected' error message that shows up when you push from one branch and another branch hasn't been merged with the remote recently successfully confuses every single person I've ever introduced to git.

spicyj 2 days ago 0 replies      
+1 from me. Even though I use git a lot and would consider familiar with the commands, I rarely do a plain "git push" because I'm never sure exactly which branches it will push to where.
tomschlick 2 days ago 1 reply      
I'm in favor of this proposal. Having "git push" just push the current branch and something like "git push --all" would push all current local branches to their respective remotes branches.
a1k0n 2 days ago 3 replies      
So, is there anyone actually against this change?
viraptor 2 days ago 0 replies      
Used this for a long time already. Even if I know what the action will do in general, it's quite hard to find out what will happen when you run it at this exact moment. -f is also a dangerous option then.

I really don't want to try to remember if I wanted to hold back some change every time I push something. Current branch looks like a much more reasonable default.

nikcub 2 days ago 0 replies      
when I first started using git this is what I thought the behavior was. it took a little while to work out what it was actually doing.
burgerbrain 2 days ago 0 replies      
Although git-push's behaviour never bothered me, I feel I must support this since it would set a good precedent.
charlieok 2 days ago 1 reply      
I always run "git remote update" rather than "git pull". That fetches any updates from all remotes, without any changes to the working tree. It's great if the first thing you want to know is, "are there any new updates?"

If the answer is no, that's that.

If the answer is yes, you can immediately follow up with something like "git rebase origin master". Or not. Separate decision.

So, git's push/pull metaphor never felt like a great fit to me, since it lacks this level of control.

tpsreport 2 days ago 0 replies      
What a sensible change. Kudos to the git team. Most other teams would be wary of a non-backwards compatible change on such a critical path for a widely used tool.
Fluxx 2 days ago 0 replies      
I've was bitten by this many times until I changed my global push setting to upstream, and I consider myself an advanced git user. One time I did a vanilla git push -f, wanting to add my amended commit to the remote branch. I accidentally force pushed our master, staging and production branches to whatever my local versions of them were, sometimes weeks out of date.
austintaylor 2 days ago 0 replies      
+1 I have this set in my global config. push.default=matching can have unintended consequences when doing push -f.
mmisu 2 days ago 0 replies      
Looks good, this will make push/pull more easy to grasp.
peterfschaadt 2 days ago 0 replies      
Enabling this behavior by default makes a lot of sense. It's likely that most Git beginners are unaware of the upstream argument and its behavior. Looking forward to further Git usability improvements.
oscardelben 2 days ago 1 reply      
I actually aliased git push to push to the current branch.
xxiao 2 days ago 0 replies      
wolframarnold 2 days ago 0 replies      
manojlds 2 days ago 1 reply      
git push origin master

How difficult is that?

Functional Programming For The Rest of Us defmacro.org
321 points by netvarun  2 days ago   65 comments top 18
rauljara 2 days ago 4 replies      
Kudos to the piece for being well written, readable, and clear. But I'm worried about a "for the rest of us" that starts off with first Plato and then lambda calculus.

The problem with "the rest of us" is that these concepts aren't inherently neat. Disclaimer: I'm not one of "rest of us". I'm learning Haskell, just because I enjoy having to think in a new way.

A lot of FP explanations start off with immutability. After plato and lambda calc, that's where this one goes, too. I think because it's a relatively simple concept, and kind of mind blowing that you could do something useful without incrementing i in a for loop. And then the follow up example is normally how you can replicate a for loop in functional programming. Which is again neat.

But if you aren't into neat things for their own sakes, you've got to ask why? Why replicate a for loop when you could just use one? (answer: you don't really replicate for loops in FP) They aren't asking why, in the sense that they're curious. They're asking why in the sense of "Why would anyone do that? That's stupid."

If you aren't into having your mind blown for no apparent reason (some aren't) the only really compelling thing about the first several pages of the piece is the "Benefits of FP". That's the motivation to learn these crazy new concepts. It should really come first. I think it should come first in any discussion of FP for people who aren't familiar with it.

Because for most people to learn, they need a motivation. Your programs will be faster because you can do concurrency super easy is pretty good motivation. Sadly, "because it's neat," is generally not.

eof 2 days ago 3 replies      
Aside: I am maybe 50-60 hours into my first haskell project using yesod. I have read about half of "real world haskell" and about half of "learn you a haskell".

Other than this, all of my experience is in iterative languages. (c++,python,php).

One thing that comes up is "if your program compiles it's almost certain to be correct"; and it has been true again and again for me. It's an odd, eery feeling that honestly I haven't quite groked how it is happening that way.

I don't understand completley what I am doing, a combination of not thinking like a FPer, not knowing the idioms of Yesod, and not being entirely familiar with the syntax of Haskell; so I am sometimes stuck on "how" to get the type that I need.

So I will sometimes try a couple things almost randomly; then it will compile and it basically is always doing what I want it to do.

michaelochurch 1 day ago 1 reply      
After racking my brain for years trying to figure out why shitty "design patterns" have been winning while functional programming (despite its superiority to typical object-obfuscated architecture) remains on the back-burner, I've come to a few conclusions.

1. The name "functional programming" doesn't sell us; it just sounds impractical. What we do isn't really "functional programming" in a purist sense. We need side effects all the time. We just have an understanding of the need to manage state (not eliminate it) properly. We need a better term for the hybrid functional-preferred/imperative-when-appropriate/very-occasionally-OO style that good engineers use, but all I can come up with (for how we "functional" programmers do things as opposed to the enterprise hoipolloi) is "non-shitty programming" and that sounds biased.

2. Usually, when we showcase FP, it looks like we're hawking complexity. We get into tail recursion and abstract data types right away. In fact, proper use of FP reduces complexity a great deal. For example, Scala is actually less complex than Java by far. On the other hand, it's hard to present Scala to a Java programmer without it appearing that one is trying to shove more complexity into his workflow, because it's only after a few months of learning how FP works (and that you don't need classes to program, you just need functions, because that's what algorithms actually are) that people realize how much simpler code becomes when done properly, and that functional programming (unlike <managerially-empowered flavor-of-the-month X> in Java) does provide life-long, substantial boosts in productivity and product quality. Until people get to that point, they'll feel like we're just shoving a tough learning curve on them.

zvrba 1 day ago 0 replies      
Functional programming for the rest of us: please structure your code, to the extent that it is possible and practical, around functions whose return value depends only on its arguments.
adamc 2 days ago 0 replies      
I was disappointed because I was hoping it was a new piece -- in general, I have found coffeemug's writing well worth my time.
agentgt 1 day ago 1 reply      
Is it me or that "A Walk in the Park" sounds like Sheldon Cooper from the Big Bang theory:

"Fire up the time machine. Our walk in the park took place more than two thousand years ago, on a beautiful sunny day of a long forgotten spring in 380 B.C. Outside the city walls of Athens, under the pleasant shade of olive trees Plato was walking towards the Academy with a beautiful slave boy. The weather was lovely, the dinner was filling, and the conversation turned to philosophy."

Big Bang:

fahad-sheikh 1 day ago 2 replies      
I found this article very useful, and helpful in de-mystifying the world of functional programming. Are there other articles that cover functional programming theory in plain words like this?
evincarofautumn 1 day ago 1 reply      
A great read. Just a couple of things that jumped out at me:

“In functional languages automatic analysis of functions and finding good candidates for concurrent execution is as trivial as automatic inlining!”

It isn't exactly trivial. If you can evaluate anything concurrently, then you still have to figure out what's worth the overhead of spinning up a thread to run concurrently. And many operations are inherently sequential even if they aren't imperative or side-effectful"parsing, for example. Still, the gist is that concurrency is easiest in a pure language and a functional style, and I have no bones to pick with that.

“…infinite data structures, something that's much more complicated in a strict language.”

Infinite structures are still pretty easy to construct in strict languages. For example, you can use ranges of the sort in D's std.range library, as described in Alexandrescu's “Iterators Must Go!” talk.

fabjan 1 day ago 0 replies      
Just a nitpick: Erlang is not an academic language, it's designed in the industry, for industrial use.
jiggy2011 1 day ago 2 replies      
Good article , cleared a few things up for me.

One thing I am still a bit hazy on though.
He mentions that continuations could be used in the context of a web app to maintain state between HTTP requests.

I'm not quite clear how this would actually work.
Lets say you have something like this (in psuedocode):

Let's say we have a counter we want to increment on each request.




return requestVars + 1



Is that approximately how this works?

In which case, how would it work for doing more than 2 requests in a row?

brooksbp 1 day ago 1 reply      
> Programmers are procrastinators. Get in, get some coffee, check the mailbox, read the RSS feeds, read the news, check out latest articles on techie websites, browse through political discussions on the designated sections of the programming forums. Rinse and repeat to make sure nothing is missed. Go to lunch. Come back, stare at the IDE for a few minutes. Check the mailbox. Get some coffee. Before you know it, the day is over.

You're fired.

bazzargh 2 days ago 0 replies      
Nice article, but its a bit irksome that the MessageHandler example drops the conditional and doesn't replace it - the code at the end of that section isn't equivalent to what he started with.
sreyemhtes 2 days ago 0 replies      
This is a much clearer explanation of the benefits than most of the other attempts I have seen.
squires 1 day ago 0 replies      
Interesting, well written article.

However I was surprised to be made aware of the existence of a logician named Haskell Curry. The name struck me as the punchline to a joke only told and appreciated by the uber-nerds in the halls of elite university mathematics departments.

yathern 1 day ago 0 replies      
Anyone who liked this read might also like the read "Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid". Its such an interesting book, and teaches through very simple ways.
AdrianRossouw 1 day ago 0 replies      
such a wonderful article , sullied by java based examples.
bryogenic 2 days ago 0 replies      
/me adds this article to my pile of articles to read
dustingetz 1 day ago 1 reply      
i wrote this article off about when it makes incorrect comparisons between immutable values and final variables. someone who read it, is the rest of the article worth reading, or even accurate?

there's certainly a need for articles like this, targetting an audience of java devs, if only they were correct. I haven't found much.

The Starter, the Architect, the Debugger and the Finisher jacquesmattheij.com
312 points by prez  2 days ago   66 comments top 29
edw519 2 days ago 7 replies      
I believe that in order to get really good at any of these roles, you must do the other roles, deeply and often. For example:

The more time you spend Debugging shit, the less likely to you are to Architect something that produces shit.

The more time you spend fixing a million little things caused by poor early decisions, the better Starter you'll become.

The more fun you have conceiving and Starting projects, the more you'll realize how important Finishing is, so that you can get to new stuff.

And the more time you spend doing each of these roles, the better you'll get at doing all of them at the same time, and understanding what conditions are needed to do that. (Hint: Lots of quicker smaller complementary projects that you can wrap your whole head around.)

[This whole discussion reminds me of the time I was a restaurant manager and got tired of the servers and cooks bitching at each other. I had them switch roles for one shift. Once they understood how what they did affected the other, everyone got a little better and the bitching stopped.]

skrebbel 2 days ago 3 replies      
Nice article, but IMO it's essentially a software-specific version of the Belbin Roles[1].

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

    Starter -> Resource Investigator
Architect -> Shaper
Debugger -> Teamworker
Finisher -> Completer Finisher


What I miss most in Jacques' article is the Plant, the person who thinks things over and then comes forward with problems, issues and risks in the chosen approach. It's, fortunately, a very common trait among SW engineers though, so I guess every team has at least a bunch.

nadam 2 days ago 1 reply      
I find it very hard to characterize myself, I constantly struggle with it. I enjoy starting things and don't like finishing/maintainging other peoples code especially if I cannot see their philosophy.

When trying to figure out where my limits are I found out another characterization:

- fastness

- deepness

- input bandwith

- memory (forgetfulness)

Compared to an average person I am good enough in all of these, but compared to A players I am bad in all of them except deepness. Compared to the very best I am slow to learn a new technology, slow to solve problems on the whiteboard in real-time, I have to re-learn things because I have partly forgotten them, and I am not especially fast in learning other people's theorems, proofs, and algorithms. I ocnstatnly find lots of stuff bullsiht and I constantly question basic beliefs, so I am slow at processing outer information. What I am quite good at is getting a challenging task and thinking about it for a lot of time refactoring my thoughts hundreds of times until I come to interesting insigths. Not that I am that good at it, but I have huge patience for this, because this is what I enjoy. It is more than enjoying this: my brain needs this as a drog. My brain pretty much likes to be detached from the outer world for long-long sessions.:)

When solving easy tasks this does not come out. But when pushing my limits I experience these weaknesses / strongness.

PaulHoule 2 days ago 2 replies      
"The debugger couldn't be paid enough money to start from a blank page in order to get something new started."

Perhaps it's different in S.V. but in the workaday world of the code mines I've found that the Debugger doesn't get all that appreciated. Rather, management likes the starter since he seems so productive... after all, he just did the 20% of the work that got us 80% of the way there. They just wish he could somehow do 25% and get 100% of the way there.

larsberg 2 days ago 0 replies      
When I worked at MSFT, we used to break up (senior) people according to which stage of the project they were better at leading, either as technical ICs or managers. If you chunk projects into four parts: early, build-up, build-out, and release (not the words we used --- we just used numbers 1-4), almost all senior people tend to do best at some close span of two of them. I was personally frequently slotted into 1/2 roles, but I knew lots of others who fit more into 3/4 roles. It's a mixture of personality type and skillset.

Few things can doom a project more quickly than putting a "shipper" in charge of an early-stage project or vice-versa. You end up with management that sends all the wrong signals to the team and everybody can tell is looking forward to some later stage.

Of course, for junior people, it's important to just make sure they get through all of them. Not just to pick up the skills mentioned by other commenters here, but also to see which they're good at for when you want to stretch them with a leadership role, without setting them up for an avoidable failure.

Swizec 2 days ago 1 reply      
Personally I'm a starter. Great at implementing prototypes, getting things working fast, but absolutely terrible with polishing things and taking care of edge cases.

And I hate it. I consider it a personality flaw, a flaw in my work ethics, and so on. Whatever it is, I don't want to have it.

What I've found has helped me get beyond this problem is taking on freelancing gigs where I'm mostly the guy who gets a rough prototype and has to make it work. The beauty of this is that I know how to think like a prototyper, so I can become productive on a foreign codebase quickly.

And because I started at a different goalpost, I can still work as a "starter" even though I'm doing the job of a "debugger/finisher".

Jd 2 days ago 0 replies      
One important thing to note is that you can be good in all of the roles but not be able to do all of them on the same project. For example, I find personally that I have a very difficult time being a finisher and starter on the same project -- after a certain point exhaustion takes over. Also, I love to debug things, but, again, after you've spent countless hours debugging you might run into the problem of exhaustion.

This is, among other reasons, why I like the YCombinator emphasis on co-founders and teams. Even if you are a superstar you need people around you to work at maximum efficiency (speaking for myself at least).

Also, I'd like to applaud the backstage people (accounts, etc.) that make other things possible. Even when I do reasonably well in all of the roles mentioned in this article, I absolutely fail in the paperwork department.

tseabrooks 2 days ago 0 replies      
My first job in embedded systems required everyone to do pretty much all of these things. Each developer handled their own modules from user facing UI through to the HW (more or less). We had to architect and design things before implementing them (No one checked.. and it wasn't enforced... it's just the way the culture works) we then became individually responsible for implementation and bug fixing until the QA dept said it was A+.

After that there was a module review by 5 randomly selected engineers that would tell you what parts of the module was a messy hack and make you go fix it. I miss this culture.

TamDenholm 2 days ago 1 reply      
I consider myself a good starter and debugger, I really suck at finishing, i hate all the little polish bits that are left over to do.

I find it easier to be the finisher if i didnt start the project, perhaps i should partner with someone with the same problem and just swap our projects once we get to the finisher stage.

c1sc0 2 days ago 0 replies      
When you put it in sequence like that it seems like the Starter & Finisher are far removed from each other, but I find the opposite to be true. What these personality types has in common is an appreciation for beauty. The Starter just loves beautiful ideas while the Finisher loves beautiful user-faceing implementations.
jpdoctor 2 days ago 0 replies      
It would be interesting to run an HN poll: Which of these rolls are you mostly associated with?

My guess is the population here is dominated by Starters and Architects.

pkandathil 2 days ago 0 replies      
I am opposed to the concept of having a architect that does not code. Too often have I seen the situation where they recommend a solution without understanding the complexity of the implementation.
fabricode 2 days ago 1 reply      
> The Starter, the Architect, the Debugger, the Finisher

and the Stereotype.

These articles aren't very informative if they don't have some new insight into how to maximize the output of the team by exploiting the traits of the stereotype. The roles outlined in this entry really only fall into two categories: get things going (starter & architect) and get things working (debugger & finisher).

If I had to take a wild guess, I'd say that what the article is really trying to say is that it's easy for people to start projects (I've yet to meet a "debugger" that can't start their own), but it's hard to complete them. It's often even harder to keep something working than when it was put together given the nature of changing requirements.

So my take on the article would be to add the advice: if you consider yourself a "starter" or an "architect", go live in the world of maintenance for a while. Learn to complete your projects. And if people tend to curse a project when your name was on the design doc, perhaps you should spend a bit more time learning about practical programming, design, and algorithms... or mentor with someone who is well regarded.

Next week's article: What happens when the boss is a Sagittarius and the team lead is a Gemini?

darylteo 2 days ago 0 replies      
I associate myself mostly as an Architect first, Starter second.

There is nothing more than I'd like for someone to just take some designs I've drawn up, critique if necessary, and then get it done. Generally, I get so stuck in the big picture that I have great difficulty getting anything done :(

I CAN debug... often I can identify a problem just from a general description of the problem (when you see me sit down in front of a computer and take over, it's when the problem has dug in deep). Sadly, with all the maintenance work I have to do with some legacy systems, debugging them is not a task I take to fondly.

Definitely not a finisher... I'm a sprinter, not a marathon runner.

ilaksh 1 day ago 0 replies      
I think the actual explanation is this:

1) Generally managers still don't understand the concept of agile and early release and so try to cram as many features, bug fixes amd details into each release as they can think of.

2) There is no possible way that one programmer can take care of all of the bugs, extraneous little features and tasks that the manager was able to think of.

3) Therefore the manager must come up with a division of labor and a simple categorization such as suggested by this article is one of most obvious and is probably attractive to a lot of senior developers because it means they don't have to worry about as many tedious tasks which they know are unlikely to provide real business value.

I think that most programmers with a decent amount of experience don't really fit into any particular one of those boxes because they have done all of those things themselves for one or more projects.

euroclydon 2 days ago 0 replies      
I've found the reasons why I sometimes don't want to wear all four of these hats are mainly personality defects. It is possible to work for another year on the non-creative parts of a project, it just takes discipline.
debacle 2 days ago 0 replies      
Often times, The Starter and The Debugger are the same person - the person who approaches programming challenges like affronts to their ability. Once the hard problems are solved, it's just a bit of tidying up and you're set.

I find it very difficult to be a Finisher, and I think many programmers do. Finishing isn't fun, it's not glamorous, and it's not why we do the work, but it's a skill that we need to develop.

I've noticed a trend in my own development. When I first start a project or I'm working on a hard problem, I'm working 10-12 hour days figuring out the interfaces, making the object model pristine (or as pristine as it can be in the language I'm using), making the error messages helpful and the exception handling consistent.

And then, as I'm closing out the project, I start to lose focus. I start watching the clock. I'm out of work as fast as I can. I'm doing, for lack of a better word, the bitch work, but the bitch work is what makes the system.

I've tried to get better at it, but I think there is a fundamental issue with the project lifecycle that makes human beings phone it in in the last bits of a project. Whether it's building a house or writing an application, those last bits of the project seem the most arduous.

andrewflnr 1 day ago 0 replies      
I'm such a Starter/Architect it's not even funny. I know I need to work on finishing, but I can't fight nature (edit: I should say, I can only fight it so far).

Is there somewhere I can write to get a better Debugger/Finisher?

dennisgorelik 1 day ago 0 replies      
Debugging the code that you wrote for weeks on end isn't as satisfying as helping someone squash a bug in their code.

Most likely explanation is not boredom of keeping working on the same project from start to finish.

Most likely explanation is boredom from working alone.

ClintonWu 2 days ago 0 replies      
This post also helps us non-technical types when interacting with technical co-founders and the engineering team. I realize my partner is definitely a starter and not a finisher!
ZeWaren 2 days ago 0 replies      
This reminds me of role variants in the Keirsey Temperament Sorter.


Bjartr 1 day ago 1 reply      
Does anyone have advice on how to become a better finisher?
ludflu 2 days ago 0 replies      
good article. I've found myself in various of these roles in different jobs. But it really is hard to do them all in the same project.
jblake 1 day ago 0 replies      
I value the ownership of a project so much - the idea that when it becomes big, I can say, "I made that." Like the British guy who fought WWII with a sword and claymore. Challenge is rewarding.

Also, reading the Fountainhead was a game changer for me.

malkia 1 day ago 0 replies      
The 4 seasons.
Amadiro 1 day ago 0 replies      
"The finisher" sounds like a mythical creature to me...
CPlatypus 2 days ago 0 replies      
Another metaphor I've seen is to the military (specifically the army), and consists of three roles. Don't beat me up about military minutiae, please; I don't claim to be an expert in that area and it's not even my metaphor.

(1) Paratroopers, who jump into unfamiliar territory. In software, researchers and architects.

(2) Infantry, by far the largest component, responsible for the core task of taking and holding territory. In software, most programmers.

(3) MPs (also quartermaster, community liason, etc.) who maintain order in the held territory. In software, debugging specialists and release engineers.

The problem I have with the OP's metaphor is that the "starter" and "architect" roles are both part of (1) and many people actually can do both pretty well. Similarly, the "debugger" and "finisher" roles are both (3) and also combine well. What's really unfortunate is that (2) seems entirely absent even though in real life it consumes most of the time and resources on a project. These are the folks who take mostly-complete designs from a starter/architect, and get most of the code mostly working before the serious integration/stress testing occur and the debugger/finisher come to the fore. In other words, most of your colleagues most of the time. If you hired four people according to these four roles, you'd have nobody to write most of the code and you'd be abusing your four specialists to do it.

jordhy 2 days ago 0 replies      
The article it's ok, but this is just a permutation of the roles first outlined in the Mythical Man Month (lawyer, surgeon, organizer, etc).
chaostheory 1 day ago 0 replies      
Depending on the programming language, I can't help but feel that this article is out of date.

Today you don't really need to be a pure starter or architect anymore. There are so many frameworks that mimic Rails and its philosophy of convention over configuration, that there's not really a lot of effort needed to start and its easy to delegate most of the architectural duties to the framework developers themselves.

As for the debugger and finisher, that is also a lot easier as well. With all the automated integration and behavior driven test frameworks, it's relatively easy to both cross your t's and dot your i's. Today you can have something yelling at you everything second your tests break (assuming that you wrote them, which is key to any project).

Open-plan offices must die mattrogish.com
280 points by MattRogish  2 days ago   179 comments top 37
tzs 1 day ago 6 replies      
I like this kind of layout for a group of people in a department or project:

| | |
| | |
+-----+ -+- +-----+
| |
| | | |
+-----+ +-----+
| | | |
| |
+-----+ +-----+
| | | |
| |
+-------| |-------+

The area in the middle is a common area for the group. It can have a table or two and chairs so people can hang out there, or even bring their laptops out and work there, when they are feeling social.

The bottom and middle side rooms are private offices. They should have doors that close and be reasonably insulated from sound, so that a worker can work without disturbance when they want to. Ideally, the wall wall facing the central area should have a big window (with drapes or blinds!) so that the person in the office can see if anything interesting is going on in the central area. Each office should have its own light switch capable of turning off all lights in that office.

The top two rooms can be bigger offices, or conference rooms, or break rooms for breaks that might be too noisy in the central area.

The break in the bottom wall is the connection to the hallway.

With this environment, you can easily work in private, no distraction mode (go into your office, close the door, and close the blinds), or in full social mode (take your laptop to the middle area), or in between (work in your office, but leave the door and window open, so you can keep an ear and eye on what's going on in the social area.

Note that if you have two groups working on different things, but that have a manager or senior engineer working with both, you can extend this concept and put the two groups side by side, and shift and stretch one of the offices and make it connect to both groups, so that common manager's office is in both groups:

| | | | |
| | | | |
+-----+ -+- +-----+-----+ -+- +-----+
| | |
| | | | | | |
+-----+ +-----+-----+ +-----+
| | | | |
| | |
+-----+ +-----+-----+ +-----+
| | | | | | |
| | |
+-------| |-------+-------| |-------+

hkarthik 1 day ago  replies      
In 10 years of working with startups, small niche businesses, and large corps I've been exposed to the following:

1) Cube Farms in large corps
2) Private offices for everyone in a startup founded by Microsoft alumni.
3) Team Rooms of 3-5 people max.
4) Large open areas with no cube walls at all.
5) Working from home (what I do right now)

Based on this experience, I think the optimal solution is the 3-5 person team room. It works well because it allows for a high degree of collaboration while keeping folks outside the team at arms length to limit distraction. In this environment, we shipped a working product written from scratch within 3 months.

Open plan offices were by far the single most distracting environment. Ironically, I was at the same company when we switched from a 3 person team room to an open floor plan to cut costs. The productivity hit was enormous.

Cube farms are actually better than open floor plans. They're far less impressive and drab, but the cube walls serve as a minor barrier to interruption since they require getting up and walking to make eye contact.

Working from home is great for productivity as a single programmer, but collaboration is more of a challenge, and it requires solid leadership capable of defining problems very clearly and staying focused. That's a tall order for most startups where the ground is constantly shifting.

Private offices were great for a single programmer working on a well defined problem, but difficult to foster the right collaborative environment. It's hard to institute concepts like pair programming and code review under this setup.

akeefer 1 day ago 1 reply      
At Guidewire we've worked in an open-plan office for basically the whole life of the company (roughly 10 years), and it's worked really well for us (by whatever metric you like: successful products, financial success, employee retention). Yes, it can be distracting to people, so most people bring headphones, and it's important for people to be considerate and move discussions or phone calls into side offices and conference rooms.

At least with the type of software we build, though, communication is absolutely critical, and it's amazing how much a difference of even 10 feet makes in the frequency with which people talk. The optimum layout for us is roughly 1 or 2 clusters of 4-6 desks per "pod" (i.e. a cross-functional team consisting of developers, product managers, and qa that are all working on the same area of the product). At that level, when people are talking about something, what they're talking about is almost always relevant to you, so it's not necessarily a distraction: they're talking about your code and your project, so it's a good thing that you can overhear and participate in the conversation if you wish. If you didn't hear those conversations, you'd be out of the loop. It's often better to be a little more distracted and all on the same page than have a team of 5 engineers plowing ahead in different directions.

That's a common conflation when talking about software engineering in general: it's not just how much you get done, it's what you get done. If you get a ton of work done on the wrong thing, you might feel really productive, but you're not actually creating any value. At least with our software, a high level of communication is necessary for most projects to ensure that everyone is on the same page and rowing in the same direction. When that communication breaks down, projects start to fail.

Your mileage may vary, of course, depending on the size of your team and the nature of what you're building. (And it goes without saying that a giant warehouse with desks arranged like an 1890's cloth factory is a terrible idea; you have to consider lines of sight, and acoustics, and other environmental things. Not all open plan offices are the same.) But this assumption that open plan offices have been "proven" to be sub-optimal flies in the face of plenty of empirical evidence from companies like mine that have used them very successfully.

lpolovets 1 day ago 4 replies      
TL;DR summary: I find open-plan offices very distracting, and I know some other people do, therefore they are distracting for everyone and should be eliminated.

I don't understand why there are so many blog posts describing how "X must die" or "Y is the only good approach to doing Z." If something works well for you, then that's wonderful! Please share it and explain the benefits and downsides and convince me to give Your Favorite Method a try. Describing how Your Favorite Method is actually The Only Reasonable Method (and by extension, that I am wrong/stupid/naive/etc. to be doing anything else) will rarely win me over.

nirvana 1 day ago 5 replies      
Before I quit working for other people I used this as a barometer of whether a company was run by idiots or not. IF they had an open plan office, and were apologetic about it, then they might be redeemable. IF they were proud of it, then idiots. Seriously. Sales guys in a big room, they probably benefit from the vibe. Programmers need distractions to be productive? Really?

In fact, the last company I worked at had hired way too young, and they had a bunch of kids who thought that being in your office writing code was somehow "Bad" because you were "siloed away". They liked to hang out all together at one big table, and chat away all day long with their laptops out.

In the time I was there, I don't think they ever realized they were getting nothing done. (I was curious as to whether they were onto something or not, so I tracked the number of stories and features they committed vs. me and my officemate who at 26 was the "old man" of the bunch, though still much younger than me he was old enough to know what flow was.)

Result: the two of us were about 4 times more productive than the 5 of them.

One of those five, though, was the "director of engineering" (20 years old) and was constantly chastising us for spending too much time in our offices.

When it became clear that this was going to affect my evaluation, I chose to exit that company. (They folded about a year later, never having accomplished the short term goal they were working on while I was there.)

But maybe I'm wrong. Maybe some people are more productive in groups of 2-3. That's fine. Set up offices for them to work that way.

Just let me have some damn peace and quiet so I can get work done! (and I never seem to have a problem hooking up with other engineers to talk about architecture or what have you to keep us coordinated, though often this is via email or chat... which is much less interrupting than a tap on the shoulder.)


On further thought-- maybe designers and people whose job is to sling HTML or javascript don't need to have "Flow". Maybe the jobs for these people are light enough that there is no context switching cost or the cost is low. That's not the case for my work or my career. There's often a very large amount of stuff I need to track in my head... because I'm generally solving hard problems on the back end, rather than making UIs or web pages.

mortenjorck 1 day ago 4 replies      
I think open-plan offices work if you have the right kind of HVAC system. Seriously, hear me out:

I work in an open-plan office. I didn't realize it when I first started, but there's actually quite a bit of white noise from the HVAC system. Maybe it's the nature of white noise that it wasn't immediately apparent.

One day, about a month after I had started, someone changed the thermostat settings. The constant white noise shut off. In the silence, the sense of space of the office immediately changed. Every footstep on the loft floor was suddenly audible. All the design conversations and dev pairing suddenly seemed much nearer, the words much harder to ignore. It was like the office had shrunk.

We tried a few hours this way, and finally set the HVAC system back to how it had been, filling the office once again with a constant, hushing whoosh. The space was back to normal.

metajack 1 day ago 2 replies      
The book Peopleware backs up the failure of open plan offices with references and data. For any kind of knowledge work, distraction is kryptonite.

I really enjoyed the book, and the info about open plan offices was really interesting. I was previously a fan of the open plan, but now I think if I ever design another office, it would be common areas and offices that close.

gruseom 1 day ago 3 replies      
Every time this subject comes up on HN, most people agree that open offices suck. As a programmer, I don't understand this. I like collaborating. Software is a team sport. I want a space that's optimized for teamwork.

Certainly sometimes I want to go away and think by myself. I want that option, but not as the default.

If programmers don't work well together, then by Conway's Law neither will their code. Beyond that, batting ideas around is just more fun than playing the solitary genius - and produces more satisfying results.

The kind of open office I like, though, is one in which the people are all working on the same system. I agree that noise and interference from unrelated activity is a disaster. It's very simple: everything should be organized around the team.

MatthewPhillips 1 day ago 4 replies      
It surprises me how few companies, even in the start-up world, hire remote developers. I personally get more work done at home in a couple of hours than 8 hours at an office. Simply knowing that you might be distracted puts, at least for me, a strain on what gets accomplished.
gordonguthrie 1 day ago 4 replies      
This discussion starts from the premise that developer time is the most critical thing for which you must optimize your organisation.

The most critical thing is usually the customer and optimizing for the customer means doing things differently:

* having the developers take customer calls and help requests

* increasing the amount of time the developers spend understanding the users - in order to reduce the amount of irrelevelant work being done

* cultivating a culture of 'code not written'

Do you really think that cranking code is the most important thing your organisation does?

ChrisNorstrom 1 day ago 1 reply      
One day when I have a startup of my own. I'm going to have a mixture of small offices with doors, and larger team rooms, and open space lobbies. Everyone must have wheels on their entire desk. And they'll be able to move around to whatever office suits them for that day, for that problem. That would be my dream because that's what I would like myself. Having options and being able to decide for myself.
GiraffeNecktie 1 day ago 1 reply      
Quiet introverts in an open plan office can work reasonably well but drop one extrovert into the mix and watch the stress levels rise and productivity plummet.
mhd 1 day ago 2 replies      
I think it depends a lot on how the people work together. If you're doing a lot of impromptu "meetings", pair programming, brainstorming sessions etc, then this setup is probably an advantage.

Personally, I can cancel out most distractions by a large enough monitor and headphones, but get really awkward when someone is standing behind me or walking by. So I need to have my back to a wall, whether it's an open office or not.

I think we all do agree that offices without fixed desks are a big no-no. Some companies tried to do that a while ago, where you just have a cart with your stuff and work where you're needed (with thin clients way back when, and laptops a bit later). Yuck.

noarchy 1 day ago 0 replies      
Most developers who I've known are easily-distracted from being in the "zone", and I include myself in that list. I'm always more productive when working remotely, where I can control my work environment. Second in order of preference is having a private office. It doesn't matter if it is little more than a closet with a door. I've been in nearly every scenario described by folks here on HN, and the most toxic was working in an open office space, and having an exit door behind me, to boot.
zinssmeister 1 day ago 1 reply      
I was never a fan of open-plan office space. As a programmer it's like trying to get work done at a school cafeteria. Which doesn't work without a good pair of head phones. How stupid, if you think about it, we all sit around with head phones, trying to stay in the zone.
Yeah I get work done in such environments, but my best work was created in a 2-4 people office or at home, working on problems by myself while connected to a team chat.
CGamesPlay 1 day ago 2 replies      
I really enjoy working in an open plan office. The distractions don't really bother me and I appreciate the energy level going around. I obviously use headphones to cancel out noise when I need to focus, sometimes just playing white noise tracks or no sound at all (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZPoqNeR3_UA is a personal favorite).

Having a heavy distraction-oriented work flow forces you into a mode where you segment your tasks as atomically as possible, for example using the pomodoro technique. There are certainly times when a quiet space is necessary, and I will retreat away from my desk to a library or quiet corner where I'm not near people.

I wonder how much of this is because I am young (24). My generation has grown up bombarded by distractions. So much so, in fact, that I find that there are equally many distractions inside of my computer as there are coming from the office plan.

jjcm 1 day ago 0 replies      
I'm at Microsoft right now. Microsoft has a policy that everyone gets their own office, if they want it. They "if they want it" part there is key - myself and everyone else on my team was given the choice to have either an open work environment or an office environment. Most of my team and I chose to pursue the open route (a lot of our team is composed of designers, not programmers). I've enjoyed it quite a bit for meetings and other collaborative efforts. When I need to get a lot of my own work done though, I escape somewhere else or do it from home. The reverse is true as well - I know some people who chose to have offices who will work a couple days a week out in the open, simply to collaborate with others more closely.

Each has its benefits. Open-plan offices shouldn't die, but people need to realize that they come with ups and downs.

peacemaker 2 days ago 1 reply      
I'm currently working at a place which separates its programmers into offices of 2 or 3 people. I'm used to working in open plan offices and so far my current situation feels much like the worst of both worlds. Obviously someone, somewhere thought this would make us more productive but I can't see it.

As with the article I agree that there should be some private space for programmers to work alone. Perhaps not 100% of the time but instead have the open plan aspect for communication and then a separate series of offices people can move to and close the door for some privacy. Not sure how well that'd work in some environments but it's something to think about.

kruipen 1 day ago 0 replies      
That's the one thing that MSFT really got right: private offices with doors that close.
wolframarnold 1 day ago 0 replies      
The most effective setups I've seen and experienced are those that keep noise and distractions low, communication easy and incentives to drop into and stay in the zone maximized. Incidentally these factors are not limited to just workspace layout. I think overly focusing on work space at the expense of other crucial factors is another case of "sub-optimization"
and thereby not "lean".

Some of these factors are:

* Gathering the team in one place and ideally at the same time. Standup meetings do this, as well as catered breakfasts and lunches.

* Open spaces that provide ready access to other folks, engineers, designers, product owners. It's amazing how high the hurdle of having to get up and open a door can be and how amazing the cost of inferior decisions made by coders is when asking someone requires overcoming hurdles. Remember that the desired behavior must also be the easiest behavior.

* No employee-specific workstations. The easier it is to move around and the more common the computer setup the better collaboration can ensue.

* Subdued noise levels. This can
be accomplished through white noise generators, Dj Tiesto, sound swallowing wall fabrics and carpets, etc.

* Systems that capture project data in structured ways, minimizing the need and role of email.

* Separate gathering spaces for socializing, ping pong, lunches, meetings, phone calls to not disturb the main work area.

* A prevailing practice of pair programming and TDD.

Interestingly, some of the most successful development shops like Pivotal Labs and Hashrocket do exactly that.

brudgers 1 day ago 0 replies      
Open plan offices can solve some problems really well - providing fresh air and daylight to a large number of people efficiently, when executed well.

They can provide a creative, collaborative and egalitarian studio like environment, again when executed well.

What they struggle with primarily is sound isolation, attenuation, and masking. Secondarily they struggle with visual and olfactory distractions.

Designing an open office to look like an Apple store is a mistake. Apple stores are designed to be lively and animated - there's a reason for all those hard surfaces, particularly the glass ceiling. That reason is that they reflect sound. There's also a reason coffee shops provide big overstuffed chairs and carpeted floors.

davidf18 1 day ago 0 replies      
Private offices are definitely the most productive. Developers should avoid firms that do not understand this basic piece of information. Conversely, those firms that understand that their success depends on getting the best people will build office space to help recruit those people.
wpietri 1 day ago 0 replies      
I think it depends somewhat on how you do it.

We're very collaborative, so being locked away in rooms would be a pain. We all sit together, but we reduce the pain of open-plan offices by being careful to minimize distraction. E.g., phone calls happen in other rooms. Meetings that don't involve the whole team go in the conference room.

caublestone 1 day ago 0 replies      
I've always like Pixars office. Certain areas for people that need to work in groups and offices in upstairs hall ways for people to work in private offices. Sort of the best of both worlds.


funkah 1 day ago 2 replies      
This preoccupation with "flow" is getting to be a bit much, I think. It's important to be able to focus on your work, but it's also important not to become like "The Princess and the Pea". You need to be able to do good work when conditions are not 100% exactly the way you want.
URSpider94 1 day ago 0 replies      
What I would really like to see is a company where employees get to choose from a variety of seating arrangements to pick one that meets their needs. I know some people who absolutely thrive on the open-plan office; these are probably the same people who did all of their homework with the TV on. I also know people who have to wear aircraft-grade earmuffs to avoid being disturbed/distracted by the sound of people walking by their office door.
tonylemesmer 1 day ago 0 replies      
Slightly forced connection in the intro to the design of Apple stores. Open plan offices have been around plenty longer than Apple shops.

It is good to have a mix of spaces, but designing people's main work space to be a place for constant interruptions does seem to be a fundamental flaw. Breakout rooms and private spaces should be in the mix.

txttran 1 day ago 2 replies      
1. Distractions are not always bad. Given the number of hours devs can work, sometimes a short distraction is healthy.
2. Every developer knows to invest a good set of noise canceling headphones in an open office. This allows you to be in 'heads-down' mode and your coworkers know not to bother you unless it's work related.
watmough 1 day ago 0 replies      
One layout that works well is small / tiny offices around an external wall, with conference rooms, bathrooms, corridors etc in the middle.

My current job is at quite old building (70's) with a floor laid out like this, and it's just fantastic. I have enough space for some computers, a room I can work in in peace and quiet, and just enough space for small meetings and co-working when needed.

Any negative effects of being in a private office can be canceled by having office communicator, Yahoo! chat etc.

Typical 70's office buildings seem to often be laid out like this.

bh42222 1 day ago 1 reply      
Offices, real offices for each developer are best.
However, open-plan is still better than cubicles. Cubicles share all the problems of open-plans + you stare at the walls of your cubicle.

I'd love to have an office but I prefer open plans over cubicles.

dfc 1 day ago 0 replies      
Absolutist hyperbolic linkbaity titles must die...
isb 1 day ago 0 replies      
The ideal setup that I've found is having two people per office that we have at my current workplace:

- cuts out distractions: you can only get distracted if you decide to talk with your office-mate. If either of us wants to chat with someone else, we move our discussion to a meeting room.

- avoids the isolation and slacking off that a single person per office setup generates.

- if office-mates are chosen intelligently, it can result in good collaboration for e.g. pairing a mentor with a junior programmer. A good idea would be to change the pairs every few months.

jmduke 1 day ago 0 replies      
I don't understand how it's a confusing concept that one particular work setup isn't universally beneficial.

I understand -- you don't like open-plan offices, you don't think that they're an effective environment. That doesn't mean that they're universally terrible; it may work for some companies, and it may fail for others.

growingconcern 1 day ago 0 replies      
There's one reason why open plan will always rule over individual offices or 3-4 person team rooms: you can fit more people into open plans. If square footage matters to your bottom line (ie your office isn't out in the warehouse district) then you can get more employees per sq ft. Bitch all you want, but it ain't gonna change.
organico 1 day ago 0 replies      
I couldn't agree more. I need a quiet place alone to program, and I've just recently moved into a coworking space. Total loss of productivity. I'm going to start working from home again, at least 2-3 days a week...
teek 1 day ago 1 reply      
I wouldn't mind a low-height cubicle farm. That is nobody can see each other if everyone is sitting down, if you stand up you can see people without getting on your toes.

I would also arrange the cubicles such that your back is never to the entrance. So you know when someone is walking into your space.

CPlatypus 1 day ago 1 reply      
Hey, crazy idea: why don't more employers give workers a choice? As a quick read of this thread will show, some people like quiet so they can concentrate, while others like the interaction and "energy" of being with others. That's fine. Live and let live. A startup might have to choose one kind of space, but you don't have to get all that large before it becomes possible to have separate areas/floors for different work styles. It seems like such a no-brainer, but I've only ever seen companies do "one size fits all" or segregation by status. Any employer who let me choose whether to work in a private office or a 2-5 person office or a big open area would definitely get some extra points from me.
All of Einstein's writings are now online alberteinstein.info
280 points by jamesjyu  2 days ago   23 comments top 8
eoghan 2 days ago 3 replies      
This is great. Would love them in a more accessible format. 10 mins in and I still haven't been able to find anything actually written by him… :-)
run4yourlives 2 days ago 1 reply      
I'm sure the internet will now point out how horribly wrong he was about everything.
3pt14159 2 days ago 2 replies      
The thing that makes me saddest about Einstein is that his last words are forever lost since they were in German to a nurse that did not speak the language.
chaffneue 2 days ago 0 replies      
I'm excited about the digitzation project, but the search experience is so poor that it's difficult and cumbersome to locate any actually digitized work. Some of the digitized documents appear to be broken - like this one http://new.alberteinstein.info/vufind1/Record/EAR000016939. Those that you do find are virtually impossible to read, because they aren't actually transcriptions, they're relatively low-res image scans of his manuscripts. http://new.alberteinstein.info/vufind1/Digital/EAR000000025#... - then there's access wall pdfs embedded in some of the DB entries https://sec2.einstein.caltech.edu/CookieAuth.dll?GetLogon?cu...
What a mess. I can only hope they make it much better in future revs.
dmragone 1 day ago 0 replies      
I clicked on "Archival Database" and then "Find" (with no input) to see all documents. Using the filters on the right, I was then able to filter for Author = "Albert Einstein", Language = "English", and Digital Object = "Digitized Documents". Here's a link to what I got (sorted by title alphabetically): http://new.alberteinstein.info/vufind1/Search/Results?lookfo...

Even so, I am unable to figure out how to access the document. Perhaps I am missing something relevant?

clone1018 2 days ago 0 replies      
Heh, not after the HN + Reddit effect.
EdisonW 2 days ago 0 replies      
we should always have people commenting when the site goes down after HN/reddit effect (if no one has done it already) and then we can have an avg time goes down/host provider graph show up. :)
creatom 2 days ago 2 replies      
It sounds cool, but site doesn't load for me.
Square open-sources Tesseract: fast filtering for coordinated views github.com
254 points by mbostock  2 days ago   41 comments top 8
nodata 2 days ago 7 replies      
Please don't call it tesseract, we already have a prominent open source project with that name:
drewda 2 days ago 1 reply      
@mbostock: Why is there Dart code in the project? Just because that's where you borrowed one of the sort functions from?

Thanks for another useful library!

huggyface 2 days ago 0 replies      
Thank you for an release. I've been heavily promoting the web stack for over a decade and a half, yet still I'm surprised by what it is capable of. This also provides a clear demonstration of the power of algorithms even on an imperfect implementation. Excellent, clean API as well.
mnutt 2 days ago 0 replies      
This is really great work, and I can't wait to see some of it filter into Square's Cube project.
troels 2 days ago 0 replies      
That's timely. Recently I've been looking around for various widgets interfaces to explore multidimensional data. This looks quite useful - way up next to good old pivot table.

What do you think of parallel coordinates as a widget? (F.ex. http://exposedata.com/parallel/veggie/)

Tyr42 1 day ago 0 replies      
It'd be cool if it could say, show the data for all weekends at once, skipping over the weekdays.
mukaiji 2 days ago 0 replies      
I got a preview of this project from Square's CTO 3 weeks ago at Stanford. The fast-filtering is MIND-BLOWING.
swah 2 days ago 0 replies      
So mbostock works for Square?
The one interview question I always ask codercofounder.wordpress.com
249 points by ibagrak  2 days ago   201 comments top 50
edw519 2 days ago  replies      
The question is simple: Imagine if you are extended multiple job offers from different companies, and you are trying to decide which one you will accept. Imagine that they way you go about this is that you write down the things that matter to you from most to least and that you use 3-5 things at the top of that list to decide. Those are your decision drivers. What are they?

My response is simple: Imagine if you have multiple candidates for the same job, and you are trying to decide which one you will hire. Imagine that the way you go about this is that you write down the things that matter to you from most to least and that you use 3-5 things at the top of that list to decide. Those are your decision drivers. What are they?

[ASIDE: I really don't mean to be disrespectful to OP; this may be one of the better interview hacks I've seen. But that's just the point: it is a hack. Hack ones and zeros and earn our respect. But hack us and earn our contempt.]

azov 2 days ago 2 replies      
> Be sure to lean on the word “imagine”, as you'll get more sincere answers as a result. I think imagining things just liberates the candidate from the scripted answers

Of course smart people you want to hire will never recognize this clever mental trick.

>it explores a candidate's motivation and value system.

Wrong. It explores candidate's ability to guess the answers you want to hear. And you have no way to tell whether candidate is sincere or just trying to please you.

Come on, this is a typical BS question, along the lines of "tell me your weaknesses" etc...

ctide 2 days ago 4 replies      
I'm not sure why people are so offended by this question. While I've never asked this question as the interviewer, I've been asked similar questions whilst interviewing and felt they always lead down a path that was helpful to both sides.

If the things I care about in a job don't jive with the things your company cares about, why would I even want an offer from you? In my specific case, when interviewing in the past, things I've cared strongly about are things like test-driven development, a culture that values code quality as well as shipping products, and having a meaningful stake in the success of the company. If you aren't going to provide these things, or they don't matter to you, I sure as fuck don't want to work for you. If people are strictly upset about the word 'imagine', then that's one thing. Thinking this question is 'overly revealing' or something seems bizarre to me. Don't you want to work somewhere where the things you care about are valued?

run4yourlives 2 days ago 1 reply      
The "drivers" change depending on the situation and as such this question is impossible to answer. They themselves are subject to the hierarchy of needs so to speak.

For example, if money is my number one driver, yet all positions satisfy that driver by offering more than I want, it ceases to become my main driver, and I move down the list.

It's possible - in fact likely - that I receive one or more offers that fulfill all my drivers. At that point, I'm not making the decision based on these items, but might instead create a new driver - say, the chance to work on a space startup over a social media one - and use that to choose between the offers.

The answers you receive for this question aren't telling you the things they think you are telling you.

In addition to that, imagining anything is going to give you what the candidate thinks they are like, not what they are actually like. If you stick to assessing actions that they have actually done, you'll get a better idea of what they will do in the future, rather than what they think they will do. My experience has told me that - sadly - few people know themselves well at all.

barrkel 2 days ago 0 replies      
I would expect that the answers to this question are highly susceptible to the availability heuristic, and would change massively based on priming. Talk about office environment for 30 seconds, then ask this question; talk about motivation for 30 seconds, then ask this question; for the same person, I'd be willing to bet you'd get completely different answers, the first on your "external" things, the second on your "internal" things.

So I don't think it is as useful for placing someone within a coordinate system as you think. It's too easily led astray, and won't have a lot of consistency over time. Your interpretation of the answer will have much of the qualities of a Rorschach test - but on yourself, not the candidate. You can read into it whatever you like.

I'd find it somewhat offensive for a simple reason: because it presumes to psychoanalyze me, to try and figure out what makes me tick. Being a person with an ego, I like to think I'm slightly more subtle than that. So the thought of this question coming up in an interview makes me curl my lip in contempt. I doubt I'd consider an offer from someone who tried this technique.

mahrain 2 days ago 3 replies      
I really hate this kind of questions. It will make any candidate feel like they're being tricked, and any "wrong answer" (look at the list there of "externalities") will surely be confronted with plenty more follow-up questions. I don't see how this would select the right person for a job. You want to know if they fit in (company culture, your "externalities") and you want to know if they'll be capable of doing the job, that's all. Why should one be required to bare their soul, check any privacy at the door and jump through hoops for a job?
alan_cx 2 days ago 2 replies      
I would immediately thank the interviewer(s) for his or her time, offer to shake hands and leave.

My reasoning is that if they want to manipulate me in an interview, chances are they would spend too much time manipulating me in my work. I respond far better to direct, honest questions. Ask me honestly and I reward that with the truth. I would tell them this if they asked. They would have their answer, and I would have demonstrated its truth.

Is that a manipulation in its self?

eli_gottlieb 2 days ago 1 reply      
The best interview question I ever got asked was, "What's your favorite algorithm?" I was completely and utterly taken aback: I'd never been asked such a thing before, and had no answer whatsoever.

So I reached back into my past hobby work, and pulled out "lottery scheduling". A 30-40 minute conversation on the description, performance, trade-offs, implementation trade-offs, features and misfeatures of lottery scheduling ensued.

This worked more brilliantly as a way to interview than anything else I'd ever been through, because it gave me and my experience a place to shine. Most interviews really don't. They are idiot-test after idiot-test, designed to wash out bad hackers, but in the process producing a crop of Most Assuredly Not Idiots who may not actually be good, while accidentally washing out some really good hackers who, for example (first-hand experience), wrote a recursive function instead of a while-loop and a Stack<T>.

If you want good, give good a chance to shine. If you want not-bad, keep stacking on the idiot tests.

Jach 2 days ago 0 replies      
I'm going to drastically oversimplify, but there are two types of interviewees, and two types of interviewers, but only one of the four matches leads to a deadly clash as expressed by many other users here in their disdain for the question.

Interviewees: There are people who Need a Job Now and interviewing all over and will likely say yes to almost any opportunity, and there are people who are casually looking around seeing what else is out there, they are in no hurry and they can easily afford to say no. The first type needs money to live, they view themselves as a wage slave; the second type could just as well go start a startup but instead choose to rent out their brain for someone else's use (and they view themselves as this way, renting a service).

Interviewers: The first type, they do a competence test and they do a culture/personality test. This can be accomplished in an informal luncheon or the like. The second type, they pull questions like these, trying to extract as much information from the candidate's personal life as possible--perhaps even asking for a Facebook password--or they put the candidate through coding hoops that don't really test talent but memorization and retention of Java-school-undergrad-level material that's just a single Google away. (Though personally I wouldn't mind being asked to implement the binary search correctly in a statically-sized-int language, especially since even in Java the official version was wrong for quite some time due to integer overflow. But this is just a piece of trivia I enjoy, I don't know if I would ask it unless the job required a good familiarity with architecture and language detail...)

The job-hunters will fit fine with either interviewer. They'll talk at length about their own mothers if they think it will help them get the job offer. The casual brain-renting candidates only match with the casual interviewer, however, and will happily walk away from the nosy interviewers. It's nice to see that principle at work in this community, even if there are some that oppose; we need more people in general, not just hackers, willing to say no to jobs even at the start of the interview stage when they sense something they don't like on principle.

msluyter 2 days ago 0 replies      
You can't script imagining, so it forces them away from the script and toward considering the question from scratch.

You can't script imaginging, but you can script your answer to this question...

I think it's a reasonable question. I might try it. One I've started asking recently that's interesting is "tell me about some interesting programming books/articles you've read recently." If they have ready answers, it indicates that they're really engaged in the field. If they come up blank, it's not a good sign, though admittedly, they may be in a lull or have other priorities, so the question can't be viewed in isolation.

I think all of these questions can be gamed to some extent, if a candidate really does a lot of research/preparation. Of course. that someone is willing to put in the time to research/prepare for interviews is probably a good sign. But just because I've learned to say "I love solving problems!" doesn't mean I'm great at solving problems.

Hence, when interviewing I prefer to focus on technical problems.

blahedo 2 days ago 1 reply      
See, my first thought on reading the question is that this guy was fishing for answers to the sorts of questions he's not legally allowed to ask"relationship status, family plans, and so on. This is reinforced (at least to me, unless I'm misreading) by the comment that "If I know what matters to them, I can right away tell if the same things matter to me (the hiring manager) and the organization at large."

So, aside from being manipulative, which lots of interview questions are, this one also struck me as unethical and borderline illegal.

moocow01 2 days ago 1 reply      
This is like asking a poker player to show you his cards before you bet. Sorry but no thanks.
dhimes 2 days ago 0 replies      
In general you are much better off just asking what you want to know. "What kinds of things have you enjoyed about your previous jobs? What kinds of things have annoyed you about them?"

One important take-away from his question, as he mentioned in the article, is how influenced the person is by events that are difficult for him/her, or anybody else, to control. In general, the more you tie your satisfaction to things within your control the happier you are likely to be.

But the problem with trying to ascertain such things by making up "fake" scenario questions is you can't control how your question is being interpreted. And when you don't know what question is being answered, you are randomly interpreting the response. And that means the question is, literally, a waste of time. Again, you are better off asking a direct question.

His question would probably work, however, if the candidate actually does have such a list for determining which offer to take. If this is the case, the candidate should hopefully recognize that s/he is (or could be) in a negotiation and treat his/her answers appropriately.

henryclay 2 days ago 1 reply      
This kind of interview question really pisses me off. It's basically an attempt at amateur psychologizing in the interview process, and since the questioner is generally completely unqualified to seriously analyze the answer, the reaction generally has nothing to do with "corporate culture" but everything to do with the prejudices and preferences of the interviewer. Sometimes those prejudices are trivial ("oh, he cares about external noise and so do I") but often they are windows through which more serious cultural and gender prejudices sneak in.

I mean, so if the interviewee says that healthcare is incredibly important because they have a sick child, that doesn't tell you anything at all about how well they'll do at the job (but hiring managers often have strong feelings one way or another about the importance of family). And so what if you manage to trick them into saying they felt unappreciated at their last job: you have no idea what the last job was really like, what information could you possibly gain?

It's true that questions like this can be very revealing. They seldom review anything relevant about the interviewee, but they do reveal that the hiring manager is an incompetent jerk.

angdis 2 days ago 2 replies      
One of the pieces of advice that is drilled into anyone that is looking to improve their interview skills is to _never_ criticize previous employers. This question practically begs for that. As a result, a hiring manager is practically guaranteed to get awkward stilted answers from candidates who are trying desperately to frame their response in a way that doesn't criticize the previous employer.

It is all a head-game, sadly.

Candidates never really know if their dealing with someone who expects smooth, calculated responses or if they're dealing with someone who expects brutal uncomfortable truth.

djb_hackernews 2 days ago 1 reply      
Can interviewees ask you the same question? I'd imagine money would be at the very top. If it isn't, my salary requirements just increased.
nanijoe 2 days ago 0 replies      
No way on earth I answer that question as asked, cos quite frankly , how I decide on which job offer to accept is none of your business.
More than likely, I would answer with "Are you asking me to list the things I find attractive about this job?"
epaulson 2 days ago 0 replies      
For many people, an honest answer to this question has to include partner/family considerations, which aren't at all appropriate for an interviewer to be asking about.

I'd only ever ask this question by first making clear that I only want to know what you're looking for in a workplace or career goals.

If I got asked this, I'd tell them that the things on the top of my list aren't things I'm willing to discuss with them, at least until I've established a friendship with them , and then tell them what I'm looking for in a workplace, team, and product.

Maro 2 days ago 3 replies      
Disclaimer: We write distributed systems software.

The question I always ask of programmers is this:

You have n=10 computers in a cluster. Every one of them is connected to every other (but not to itself), using bidirectional TCP connections. How many TCP connections total in the cluster?

If they can't figure it out, I change it to n=4, then n=3 and ask them to work their way up from there.

ChristianMarks 2 days ago 0 replies      
Gee, I'd value an employer who values definitional clarity about the work, and who is uninterested in psychological manipulation. The managers should be very very smart. Also it should be possible to build on what you know over time (somewhat like compound interest), instead of dissipating and scattering your focus on unrelated projects and duties that undermine growth. If there is concern about "silos" then there should not be a management silo that can decide to restructure departments and reassign positions without advance warning. And the statement by Joseph Stiglitz that "change has no inherent value" ought to be internalized.
javajosh 2 days ago 1 reply      
It is wise to ask foundational, self-reflective questions in an interview. At the very least it gives insight into the interviewer's level of self-awareness, or at least whether or not they are comfortable introspecting. And, based on the book "Pragmatic Thinking & Learning" by Andy Hunt it seems that introspection is an essential skill to anyone who has "learned how to learn".

Knowing who you are and what drives you is a very difficult question for most people. Most of us don't take the time to seriously ask the question of what drives us. And yet, once we find those drivers, why not be honest about that insight? What do we have to lose? Isn't this the kind of information we should be shouting from the rooftops, to find like-minded people and to express ourselves most fully?

That said, I would choose to ignore the rather obvious attempt to make me reveal details about past employers and answer the question as if it was about purely about my principles and motivations.

For the record, I want to use technology to combat the ever-growing tyranny of complexity, which is the source of an extraordinary volume of what I term petty injustice. I don't believe in the efficacy of central authority, so my work must empower individuals to take action for themselves - to select simpler contracts for example. It is my belief that fighting for a principle I believe in is the most crucial aspect of selecting a team. That said, competent work-mates and managers, a viable technology platform and good compensation are also important, if only from a simple, practical standpoint.

mcherm 2 days ago 4 replies      
I would be interested to see how other Hacker News readers would answer this question. Feel free to post an answer as a reply to this comment.
corford 2 days ago 1 reply      
I wouldn't have a problem with that question and I'd answer: Team, scope for promotion/exploring other roles within the company in the future and commutability - in that order. Don't know what that says about me (or my interviewing technique) but that's how I'd automatically respond (because it's true).
olalonde 2 days ago 2 replies      
Ethics aside, isn't telling what the interviewer wants to hear the optimal strategy for a rational candidate? I mean, if your goal is to get the job, why would you be honest with this type of question when it might put you at a disadvantage?
msg 2 days ago 2 replies      
A better question that I always ask, before any other questions in the interview: "Why do you want to work here?" Then I reject any answer that's not somewhat unique to our business. "You could do that anywhere, is there anything specific to this place?" Then I probe the final answer to make sure it's not BS.

Bad answers: I've heard you make a lot of money here, I want to work on software development, I like Java. Better: I have friends who've told me about it and it sounds like the kind of place I want to work. The best answer: I understand a lot about how your business works and it is a win-win for me to be here for the following reasons... despite the following minuses...

I was playing Resistance this weekend for the first time. Essentially Resistance is Mafia with rules, blue vs. red. One of the first things I did was ask people, "are you a spy?" Like a melodramatic detective. I think there is an instinct to try this first, and win the game on the basis of a twitching lip or "say no, nod yes" sort of reaction.

This may work on easily startled people. Same with slamming your hand on the table in a security clearance interview.

A smarter candidate will figure out you're playing games, which defeats the purpose. I think you also want to consider the reaction of the candidate after the interview. Suppose they answer honestly, then figure out what you did to them.

There's a big difference between trying to learn a prospective employee's motivations the old fashioned way and trying to trick it out of them. Especially when a highly motivated employee can be lowballed in a salary negotiation.

battaile 2 days ago 0 replies      
If an interviewer asked me this then sat back grinning all over themselves like they'd just knocked it out of the park with this ingenious keyhole to my soul, it'd definitely make my decisions on whether or not I wanted to work there easier. Still lol'ing at using the word "imagine" to knock someone off script.
hbz 2 days ago 1 reply      
My favorite interviewing question is: When was the last time you used your skills/ability outside of a work context to make your life easier?

I feel like it's important to have people who think practically about the kinds of problems they feel like solving and whether they actually make an attempt to solve them. There's nothing wrong with leaving work at the office but we tend to look people who are extremely passionate about technology in general, not just people who use it as a paycheck.

aaronblohowiak 2 days ago 1 reply      
If you are a job hunter, you should know the answer to this because you've already thought about it.

I usually start a job hunt with a spreadsheet so I can track progress and also scoring along my key metrics. When I get asked questions similar to this, I reveal that I have thought about this deeply and discuss my criteria and how I operationalize things like "good coworkers". So far, the reaction to this revelation has been quite telling about the person on the other side of the table; I have gotten everything from disbelief to disgust to admiration. The marginal cost of being organized (and combatting things like recency bias or charisma) is minuscule compared to the marginal gain.

rorrr 2 days ago 0 replies      
This is a bullshit question. If I heard it, I would immediately know that that place will not pay well.

I'd ask the interviewer to answer his own question. He would say something like "smart team, interesting project, ability to work on side projects". And this would be pure bullshit. Why? Because if someone offers him a billion dollars per year, he will take it under any conditions. And so would I.

pygorex 2 days ago 2 replies      
During an interview both sides should be asking questions in an attempt to explore whether the position is a good fit for the prospective employee. If as an interviewee I'm free to ask any question I want I will get to the questions that help me explore the nature of the company & position. That's the whole point of the interview process

Asking me to prioritize my decision making process into 3-5 neat little bullet points ranges from annoying and insulting. In asking the question the interviewer sounds like this:

Interviewer: "I'm assuming you haven't thought through your requirements for being an employee of my company. I could engage you in conversation like a normal human being to find out what you want. But I'm too lazy for that. Please summarize what you want in a convenient format that I can easily understand."

Interviewee: "This guy doesn't like to think. He values simple answers over process & conversation. I might have one 'bullet point' that requires a dozen questions to figure out. I might have a dozen bullet points that could be answered with two questions. Instead of talking to me he wants me to tell him what I want to hear. I'm outta here!"

.... see?

mixmax 2 days ago 1 reply      
I think the best interview question to ask is "what question do you think I should ask?"

That tells a lot about a candidate, and it gives him/her a chance to talk about what they're good at. It also shows some respect, which is a good thing since it's hard to find and hire good people.

brudgers 2 days ago 0 replies      
It's a great question...for a performance review where there is rapport between the employee and employer.

In an interview, anything one says can be used against you. Those who engage in amateur psychobabble are most likely to do so.

To put it another way, it's sincere once salary and benefits have been negotiated.

cbr 2 days ago 0 replies      
I would put money near the top for ethical reasons [1] and then feel the need to justify it awkwardly. How much I make is very important to me because it determines how much I can give to effective charities [2]. But this doesn't mean I'll be a bad employee who's "only in it for the money".

[1] http://www.utilitarian-essays.com/make-money.html

[2] http://givewell.org/charities/top-charities

msmueller 2 days ago 0 replies      
I created an account just to reply to this because I found so many errors in its logic. First, the question is not simple: it's convoluted (and there's a typo). An question that would have actually been simple is, "what are your top 3-5 decision drivers for accepting an offer from a company/between multiple companies?"

Second, leaning on the word "imagine" does nothing to "liberate" your candidate from scripted answers; it's a common way of introducing a hypothetical and could be replaced by any number of stock phrases. If you put too much stock in that phrase for the question-design, you're thinking shallowly, and doing a disservice to yourself, the interviewee, and language itself. The ironic is that in posting the question, especially if it circulates widely, you're guaranteed to eventually get scripted answers. Third, what you focus on as externalities vs. interalities seem interrelated, e.g., "I want to do X" is the same as saying "I want to work for a company that allows me to do X".

I understand the desire for interviewers to get past scripted answers and find easier ways to select the right people for the job, but questions like this aren't silver bullets. I also find it funny that people in software would be so against interviewees having scripted answers; it impresses me that people can quickly come up with quick answers to difficult questions, not because

Not wanting to end with all criticisms, I do think the last point about a question like this revealing things about the current/prior employment. If you get people talking about things they like or dislike, unless they give you patently stock crap, they're drawing off recent or salient experience.

grannyg00se 2 days ago 1 reply      
We all know the reality of the situation. This idea that the word "imagine" somehow frames the question in a different light is nonsense.

My first response would be "Ok, so you're asking me what my job priorities are" and go from there. Let's bring things back to reality, and be honest about what each other is doing.

Also, the question is a classic rehearsal question and its use may be limited. There may be a lack of honesty and even with an honest answer a person's priorities are subject to change.

drucken 2 days ago 1 reply      
This is one of those questions where the answers are only relevant and understandable to the candidate themselves and even the act of answering reveals only the work-life experience of the candidate.

For the above reasons, it naturally favors older or extremely confident candidates. If this is used as a primary positive filter for employment, then it is possible to discard a lot of talent, especially young talent.

In addition, the value ambiguity and personal depth of this question could confuse or incite negative emotions for many people, including even those with extensive work-life experience. Even if this question were used purely as a filler in order to attempt to relax the candidate, it would most likely achieve the opposite response.

Therefore, if I were a hiring manager, I would never use such a broad question since you could achieve the same with a series of technical questions, resume-focussed questions, specific value questions, or a cup of coffee/tea/hot chocolate/water...

To illustrate my point, my answer would be:

1. Growth.

2. Association.

3. Skill set.

4. Balance.

5. Compensation.

lhnn 2 days ago 0 replies      
Holy shit, what is the drama with this question?

An employer is trying to figure out the motivations of the worker. How is this wrong? How is setting up a scenario manipulative? Why is everyone so hostile to this?

dspeyer 2 days ago 0 replies      
What do you do with the answer to this question once you have it? If I were on hiring committee and got this in an interview report I'd be annoyed. I cannot think of any plausible answer that would make me more or less inclined to hire the candidate.

In fact, let's make that a challenge. Can anyone here think of an answer to this question that a candidate might plausibly give which would effect your hiring decision?

smokinn 2 days ago 0 replies      
I guess you haven't investigated the pay scale and working conditions of wall street lately. Programmers there can make a lot more than elsewhere but at the cost of any possible social life.
davemel37 2 days ago 0 replies      
Employees Just Want to be appreciated, and the best way to measure appreciation is with money.

Any answer you get to that question won't negate the simple reality in the statement above. Just to reiterate because it is too important to forget!

Your Employees (and all people) Just want to be APPRECIATED!
and the money you pay them is the best way to measure how much you appreciate them!!!

chrisbennet 2 days ago 1 reply      
"That's a great question! I wish more companies cared about this sort of stuff. To save us both some time, while I'm writing these down, why don't you write down the 5 most important metrics you are going to weigh if you are deciding between multiple candidates. When we're done we'll just swap papers, OK?"
xxxzx 2 days ago 0 replies      
I have no problem with answering a question like this nor do I really understand why people are so upset over it. When I'm at an interview I try to be genuine and honest.. I'm not going to worry about fitting my answers to what you want them to be in an ideal employee.

I'm also not looking to debate/argue over whether or not it's a good question. But here would be my response:

1. The quality of the other employees

2. The quality AND purpose of the products being built

3. The quality of management

4. Required hours.. Do you want me to work 70 hours a week? If so, thanks but no thanks. I'm a team player and willing to pull extra hours when the occasion arises, but I have other hobbies that I like to indulge in.

5. Salary

gruuk 2 days ago 0 replies      
My answer would be: that's not how I would choose as it would box me into only using a limited number of parameters. Each offer must be viewed and compared as a whole, where multiple smaller benefits may outweigh a larger one so cannot be eliminated from the comparison.
dkrich 2 days ago 0 replies      
Sorry, who is this guy, and what proof does he have that this is a system worth using or even writing about? Seems like linkbait to me.
horsehead 2 days ago 0 replies      
I kind of like the question, only because I like stuff that isn't run of the mill.

I'd also note that, if the question is about 'imagining' certain scenarios, then can the answer really be that honest to start with?

I.e., it's easy to think that i'd do X or X in Y circumstance, but if you ask hypotheticals, you'll never get a qualitative answer. I'm sure this scenario actually happens often, but imagining can mean you're imagining an interview with NASA as an astronaut and with McDonald's as a burger flipper.

wtvanhest 2 days ago 0 replies      
I would respond with the third thing being money obviously matters no matter what. That way in the negotiation you can ask for more while citing the question
sktrdie 2 days ago 0 replies      
I would answer "goodbye" and then leave.
martininmelb 2 days ago 0 replies      
While I am sure that the author believes that this question drives his decision, the research indicates that most employers make a decision within five minutes - and the main driver of that decision is the extent to which the candidate is like the interviewer.
inopinatus 2 days ago 0 replies      
The question tells us a great deal about the interviewer, though. He's insecure, pompous, pedantic. Still want to work here?
jemka 2 days ago 0 replies      
>The wording of the question is important, so follow it closely.

'Imagine that they way you go

Do I get extra credit?

Linus Torvalds: The King of Geeks (And Dad of 3) wired.com
246 points by olegp  1 day ago   82 comments top 12
pessimist 1 day ago  replies      
RedHat's $1m stock is his only big payout, apparently. Rather sad, considering the number of mid-level facebook engineers who will become many times as rich in a few months.
aiscott 1 day ago 1 reply      
Amusing anecdote:

A few months back I was at the local Petsmart; getting out of my car I noticed a guy walking toward the store. I thought he looked familiar, so I looked back over my shoulder at him again... I didn't really recognize him but I thought he might have been somebody famous for some reason.

Anyway, when I got back to my car I saw that yellow mercedes, and when read the plate holder saying "Mr. Linux. King of Geeks." I figured out who it was, kind of neat.

At the time I don't think I realized he lived in Portland.

colbyolson 1 day ago 0 replies      
Had the pleasure of meeting Linus last weekend while up in Portland, at a Go Kart facility no less. Super nice guy, but I was a little too star struck to form coherent words. His race nickname was Penguin, :).
js2 1 day ago 0 replies      
Linus' blog entry on the pre-Oscar party mentioned in the article - http://torvalds-family.blogspot.com/2011/02/pearls-before-sw...
zerostar07 1 day ago 0 replies      
I cringed with the S.Jobs comparisons. Journalists should really stop doing this. And this one was completely unwarranted
rachelbythebay 1 day ago 1 reply      
How is that license plate holder legal? You can't even see the state name, and you have to guess based on the lower loop on the "g".

Don't drive that car into Texas (http://www.senate.state.tx.us/75r/senate/members/dist25/pr03...) or any other state with similar laws...

levesque 1 day ago 0 replies      
What's the point of this article? Feels like (tech) celebrity gossip.
bicknergseng 1 day ago 1 reply      
"...he rubbed elbows with the likes of Robert Downey Jr., who didn't know who he was, and Mad Men star Jon Hamm, who did."

I'm mildly disappointed in RD Jr... he had so much geek cred after playing an awesome Iron Man, but I guess that's why it's called acting.

reirob 1 day ago 0 replies      
I am really interested what Linus will do about the metallic taste in the espresso? I hope he will hack the Jura Espresso-Machine and we'll all end up with Linux-Coffee.
rmk 21 hours ago 0 replies      
I am really getting sick of everybody and his uncle being compared to Steve Jobs. I mean, a comparison to Woz might not be out of place (both men were technical architects of things that revolutionised the industry), but Steve Jobs was a businessperson with an uncanny eye for industrial design, not the architecture of software.
waterlesscloud 1 day ago 3 replies      
Off topic a bit, and maybe this is just me, but is Wired one of the slowest loading sites on the internet for anyone else?
obtino 1 day ago 2 replies      
Proves that if you do what you love, you're bound to be successful.
Make Any Webpage Look Like It Was Made By A 13 Year-Old In 1996 wonder-tonic.com
248 points by dutchbrit  2 days ago   77 comments top 41
jiggy2011 1 day ago 5 replies      
It's funny, these geocities sites were horrible but they provided a way for people to express themselves on the web.

MySpace tapped into this also , allowing people to change their page background, have autoplaying music etc.

The facebook/Twitter came along and spoiled it by prioritizing usability. Now basically everyone has an online presence that looks identical to the point of being sterile. Hell even 90% of wordpress sites look exactly the same.

TeMPOraL 1 day ago 1 reply      

Applied to itself 4 times. So meta, that we have to go deeper.

monsterix 1 day ago 2 replies      
While it might sound funny, people out there really do design their pages like this only:


Yeah, even today! [edited]

theycallmemorty 1 day ago 2 replies      
As someone who was 13 in 1996, I wonder if in 2030 they'll have funny tools to "Make any webpage look like it was made by a 28 year-old in 2012"
mhd 2 days ago 2 replies      
I think it actually made http://yvettesbridalformal.com/ look better.

Hard to believe that not too long ago, frames and table-based layouts actually were improvements over the status quo.

baxter 1 day ago 1 reply      
As someone who was 13 years old in 1996, I take exception to this. It looks like it was made by an 11 year old in 1996.
philjr 1 day ago 1 reply      
Hey, I was 13 years old in 1996! That made me nostalgic for a website I designed around 1998 and I was surprised to find it was still online...


Dreamweaver special :)

still can't find the geocities site I had in 1997 though...damn

corford 1 day ago 1 reply      
Ah memories :) Does anyone remember the javascript meme where you'd get people to click a form button and then it would pretend to format your C:\ drive?? My 1996/7 site had that :D

And web rings! I miss the old internet :'(

Yhippa 2 days ago 2 replies      
I am sad: not a single rainbow <HR> in sight.
jbigelow76 1 day ago 0 replies      
I saw this title and thought somebody must have found my posting on oDesk looking for UI work.
InclinedPlane 1 day ago 0 replies      
Title is redundant. If anyone other than 13 year olds were designing websites in 1996 there certainly wasn't any evidence of it back then.
Andrenid 1 day ago 0 replies      
Just seeing the footer, with the browser buttons and counter, gave me one of the craziest "chills up spine" nostalgia-flashbacks I've had in years.

That alone was worth the click.

spinchange 1 day ago 0 replies      
The wonder tonic guy gives great Internet. I love his shady URL redirection service: http://www.shadyurl.com/
arturadib 2 days ago 0 replies      
Oh man, this is like seeing dusty old family pictures. So nostalgic!
brudgers 1 day ago 0 replies      
I was not impressed with the conversion - until I scrolled down and saw Billzebub.


kayoone 1 day ago 2 replies      
Hm, i was 13 in 1996, now i am a fulltime web developer ;)
finne 1 day ago 1 reply      
I actually found myself quite liking the MIDI files....
sreyemhtes 2 days ago 2 replies      
Nope, I don't believe it. There aren't any Under Construction signs anywhere.
jakubw 1 day ago 0 replies      
Well, mine had falling snowflakes even when it was summer.
dexen 1 day ago 1 reply      
randomdata 1 day ago 0 replies      
This thread made me want to look for the website I made in 1996 as a 14 year old in the Wayback machine. Sadly, it was not available.

I did find my website made as a 16 year old. Unfortunately all of the images were missing. From what I remember, it was actually a pretty nice design. I think I'd still be proud of it if I had built it today.

duck 1 day ago 0 replies      
A better title would be: Make Any Webpage Look Like It Was Made In 1996
rtp 1 day ago 0 replies      
A while ago I made this bookmarklet to easily geocitize a webpage:


The code is quite dumb but it works rather well.

woogychuck 2 days ago 0 replies      
This is pretty fantastic, I now need to find a way to sneak some of those animated gifs past our design team.
lucb1e 1 day ago 0 replies      
Hey isn't that my website?! (Joke)

Well, mine had #0F0 for the background color and some copy/pasted javascripts (i.e. clock moving with the cursor). But yeah, pretty much the same style :) Must say that I did improve over the years.

kapitalx 1 day ago 0 replies      
the Chip background acts as a 3d stereograms which was a good reminder of the 90s.
mistercow 1 day ago 1 reply      
It doesn't notice and remove border-radius tags, which made the experience particularly weird.
pepijndevos 1 day ago 0 replies      
I tried it on a website, but it did not change much...
bicknergseng 1 day ago 0 replies      
I don't know that it takes anything special to make nytimes.com look like it's from yesteryear. The only thing it's missing really is some <blink> elements and that dancing baby.

Seriously though if they're going to stick with that column layout, they should look at how pinterest is presenting information.

NanoWar 1 day ago 0 replies      
The other way round would be a lot better: Make any Webpage from 1996 look like it was made in 2012! :)
krausejj 1 day ago 1 reply      
is someone going to be making this in ten years to show what websites looked like in 2012???

also - comic sans is classic. i predict a comeback.

bretthardin 1 day ago 0 replies      
Why is it when I type in drudgereport.com it looks the same.
crisnoble 1 day ago 0 replies      
best badge: "made with notepad, the right way!"
instakill 1 day ago 0 replies      
Oh the nostalgia.
rachelbaker 1 day ago 0 replies      
No <blink> tag?
OliverD 1 day ago 0 replies      
that was an awesome time :D
necenzurat 1 day ago 0 replies      
hcarvalhoalves 1 day ago 0 replies      
Sad but true.
yakko 1 day ago 0 replies      
indecent :D
I'm burning out and I can't tell anyone
227 points by redhat  2 days ago   186 comments top 69
edw519 2 days ago  replies      
Here's the incident (and litmus test from my cofounder) that permanently changed my workaholic thinking:

cofounder: Hey Ed, it's 6:30. Finish up. Let's go next door and get a beer.

edw519: No, I have to finish <Task X>.

cofounder: Do that later. Have a beer with me.

edw519: No, I have to finish this now.

cofounder: Have a beer with me, then do that tomorrow.

edw519: No, this has to be finished tonight.

cofounder: Then have a beer with me, and come back after the beer and finish it tonight.

edw519: No, I have to finish it first.

cofounder: If you have a beer with me and don't finish that, how will our Annual Report be different?

edw519: What?

cofounder: You heard me. If you have a beer with me and don't finish that tonight, how will our Annual Report be different?

edw519: I don't understand.

cofounder: Listen one more time and answer the fucking question! If you have a beer with me and don't finish that tonight, how will our Annual Report be different?

edw519: It won't be.

cofounder: Good. Then let's have that beer now. OK?

edw519: OK.

patio11 2 days ago 3 replies      
Talk to your co-founder and tell him that your startup's current schedule is unsustainable. Depression, irritability, and resentment are not positive qualities in producing working code or customer engagement. Make such changes to your work environment as are required like the responsible adults you are.

Personal life hacks:

1) All the folks telling you that diet and exercise will magically make things better are actually right in micro scale. (You can't pushup your way out of being a salaryman but it is very hard to not get a QOL boost from reguar exercise.) Blew my mind to experience this since I had always assumed it was social signaling.

2) Your startup will always send signals that it really needs you. Consider making a commitment to maintaining family/friendship/church/whatever ties so that you can maintain perspective on how much the bat signal going off really matters.

3) You'll tend to end up like the folks you hang around with. If you steep yourself 100% in startup culture, you'll tend to pick up its cultural pathologies. I mean, do your five closest friends all overwork? That might be why seeing half days off as a luxury item became your new normal. Consider reconnecting with old friends or broadening your social circle.

staunch 2 days ago 3 replies      
Tell your co-founders you need a week off. They should probably take one too. Go find a beach and read a book there every day. Don't think about work.

Despite how it may seem there's no chance your company will die or suffer any irreparable harm in a week. Just do it.

When you come back have a discussion with your co-founders. Try to talk through (calmly and without resentment) the problems you see. Focus on finding the best solutions to the problems. Don't get into arguments about the past. Everything before is water under the bridge. You will have to accept that certain things probably can't be fixed, and that's okay. Fix the things that hinder your company's ability to succeed.

Also, make sure you sleep enough every day. Don't skimp on sleep at all. Nothing will make you burn out faster than chronic sleep deprivation. Everyone can get 8+ hours of sleep per night if they make it a priority.

sdoering 2 days ago 3 replies      
I've had that feeling once, standing on the edge. And I know some people that burned out.

There is only one working solution. Get professional help.

If your servers crash - you ask an expert.
If your car makes funny noises - you go to a garage, were there are professionals.
If you have an infection - you consult an M.D.

But we tend to ignore psychological conditions and we tend to ask others (amateurs) for an opinion. But this is really nothing more than a physical illness in respect to the way it has to be treated - by an expert.

So do yourself a favor and ask your favorite search-engine for professionals, that know their stuff, when it comes to burnout. And then make an appointment. You are no good to your startup, if it crashes around you, because you crash and burn. You are no help to anybody, if your condition affects your work (and it will do that soon).

You have the responsibility for everybody, who's paycheck depends on the success of your startup - and that depends on your well being.

And: You owe it to yourself to heal.

just my two cents

cgshaw 2 days ago 3 replies      
Greetings from a fellow hard-charger.

I've experienced burnout a number of times in personal and professional contexts and I think nearing 30, I've got a pretty good handle on myself finally.

1. You can ALWAYS and should ALWAYS talk to SOMEONE. My advice is find a great therapist. If you can't afford one, you need to find a friend, confidant, or family member that's away from the action. Talk through things and see if you can wrap your head around what's bothering you.

2. Exercise. Seriously. Exercise helps sleeps, weight loss, anxiety, depression, add--it's a pretty awesome medication. Read "Spark" by John Ratey.

3. Sleep. The times in my life I've felt most burnt out corresponded with awful sleeping patterns. (also see 2)

4. Reflect. After trying to talk through things and getting your body back on track think about your work. Are you happy doing what you're doing? Do you want to do something else? (some might recommend doing this first--I wouldn't; only because in my judgment I've made decisions I regretted because I felt like I wasn't in the right place--not because I really didn't like the opportunity)

This is obviously a reader's digest version, but it took me probably 5 or 6 iterations before I could identify, prevent (or treat) my burnout.

etamas 2 days ago 3 replies      
* Workout like a horse. Best cure for depression, ever. The feeling I get when running is so liberating that it usually manages to alleviate 99% of the mood problems.

* Sleep like a rock, when you get the chance. Lack of sleep, among alcohol abuse are the most common causes of depression (at least from my personal observation)

* Hang out with friends, family as much as possible, when you get the chance. They'll constantly remind you why you work so hard. Also try to explain them why are you doing certain tradeoffs in your relationship with them.

* Swallow a boatload of Magnesium + B6. IMHO it's the biggest source of happiness one can buy for little money. It keeps your stress levels in control and your heart condition in shape.

* Meditate. I cannot stress this enough. Constantly talk to yourself when you're alone and seek thoroughly for things that cause distress in your life. Debug yourself. You have to like yourself for others to like you!

* Get a girlfriend that understands you or dump the one that doesn't get it (unless you're already married)

Maro 2 days ago 0 replies      
I'm doing a startup and I've gone through some really rough times, like going for 5 days without sleep because of anxiety due to cashflow problems. My wife gave me sleeping pills (she's an M.D.) and was generally supportive. I didn't get professional help from a psy*. It passed in 2 weeks. I learned a lot from the experience and grew as a person. I have faced similar situations since and now can handle them without losing sleep.

I would recommend to take some time off and _travel_, ie. active vacationing. If you just sit around at home that's probably no good. Also, if you can't sleep, take some pills.

This may sound odd, but I found reading books from the Dalai Lama also helps to handle issues like this on an intellectual level, ie. remove the negative emotions and just figure out what's bothering you.


If you're startup is doing good, then thank the Hacker News Gods and don't worry!

Best of luck! Cheers =)

PS.: if you need someone to talk to check my profile for contact info.

dasil003 2 days ago 0 replies      
A lot of great advice here. Diet, exercise, sleep, minimizing alcohol, and talking to a therapist are all good advice. Burnout or depression is different for everyone though, and it can be quite complex. Let me propose another angle.

Who was it that said if you can't take a month off without telling anyone you don't really have a business? Yes, yes, I know that a startup is not yet a true business, but one of the most important things in a startup is letting go as you grow. It's very easy to convince yourself that you are absolutely essential, but in reality your job is to build a money-making machine where you are not essential. One cause of burnout is being overworked because you are taking on too much personally. When you build something from the ground up, you have a lot of knowledge that others might not have, which makes it psychologically difficult to delegate, but nevertheless you have to find a way to let people make their own mistakes or your own treadmill will go faster and faster until you flare out spectacularly.

akg 2 days ago 0 replies      
Take time out of your day to relax or exercise or simply take a week or two off. There is no shame in that and I think the 20 hour work days have been overly glamorized. Talk to your co-founder, I'm sure the startup can manage or you will work out a solution that will. There is no shame in feeling this way, it is perfectly natural and you are not alone.
spif 2 days ago 2 replies      
As a startup founder that recently sold my company, I can totally relate. Right up till the moment I signed the final SPA I thought I would crash and go crazy. Some of the things that helped me through:

1) You are not alone. Most founders will completely sympathize with you and understand your feelings. There are a growing number of founders that are coming out with their stories. Remember pg's articles about the highs and the lows? Also check #3 of YC's survey here: http://www.paulgraham.com/really.html

2) It's normal. Knowing that everybody hurts. It's normal that things are hard. If you can acknowledge this one simple fact, things become much easier.

3) Openness. Talking to friends and family and being open about it. The hardest thing I found was to be vulnerable wit those I feared might abuse it (investors, spouse, co-founders). In the end it actually improved everything about my relationships with most of those (and some that it didn't - it showed their true colors). For example with my gf - for her it was an instant revelation how I was feeling and she understood why I was cranky, tired or otherwise distant. After telling her how I felt - it was like instant intimacy.

4) Time out. Taking constructive time out and feeling happy are correlated immensely. Constructive time out is not watching the newest Walking Dead, but for me an effective time out was writing lists of my thoughts down. Taking the time out meant I would feel more in control. Feeling in control directly leads to more peace and happiness.

5) Doing GTD. The other items in the list are somewhat softer but this is one that has made the biggest practical impact. I religiously follow zero inbox and for me it is a something I pride myself in too -> feel better about things and gives me the brainspace to think about the higher level stuff.

Hope that helps. Feel free to email if you want to discuss more. There's much more back story to this than can be public. ;-)

DanBC 2 days ago 0 replies      
Address problems now, while they're still relatively easy to tackle. Leaving them means they will build up and be harder to face.

Adjust your work life balance. This means doing things like (as have been mentioned) getting more exercise and getting better sleep. Both of these will not only help your mood, but they will make you more productive.

You need to talk to your team. Explain what's happening.

You have awareness and insight - you say "despite things going well I'm somewhat depressed" - that's good. Try some cognitive behaviour therapy techniques. A good book is "Mind over mood"; a good website is the Australian "mood gym". You could see a therapist.

Luckily this kind of stress / low mood responds excellently to interventions.

dmor 2 days ago 0 replies      
Its interesting, no one told you to quit.

I'd check on sleep deprivation first. Take a week off, sleep 10 hours every night, exercise every day lightly (long walks listening to music are good), read a book. If you do all this and you still think you're at the end of your rope then you need to talk with your cofounder.

You also said it isn't affecting your work yet, but people are smart and social signals are sent without even realizing it. Its impacting your work already, in little ways, and will only get worse. Deal with this now, don't wait.

chmike 2 days ago 0 replies      
My exprience of this kind of situation is that one or more things are sucking all your energy. What I mean by this is that it's not just about getting a rest. What you should do is take a step back and try to see what is sucking all your psychological energy. If you are resentful of your cofounder, then something is not right there.

What happens in such situation is that we naturally and often unconsciously start to think about it trying to find a way to handle it, understand what is going on and how to solve the situation. This is going on 24/24 7/7 and this is what is sucking your energy.

Taking a week off is an emergency protection measure you should indeed apply. But this just puts a spatial distance between what is harming you and yourself. Soon or later you'll have to come back to your startup. You probably know it and you may spend this week off continuing to burn your energy thinking about the problems.

So taking a real step back and a week off requires that you completely switch off from the harmful context. This requires will power but you are aware that your health is in danger now.

The second thing to do is become aware that apparently you are failing to solve the problem by yourself the way you tried so far (probably unconsciously with intuitive methods). So you have two options now. One is to take the step back and, after a recovery time, reanalyse the situation rationaly by trying a different approach you tried so far. The second is to get help from someone who know what you are going through and can help you sort out the solution. In both case it is only you that can identify the problems and the way out. The help is just to help you make a difference between what is important, what is not, what are automatic negative ideas and what is truly positive.

You got aware that something is wrong and you asked for advise. That is great because you've done half of the way to get you out of this situation.

Last point. As other people tell you here. Take this problem very seriously and tackle it NOW, ASAP or get the hell out of this situation if you can't handle it. This can kill you by suicide if you don't handle it. This may sound completely stupid and unbelievable to suicide one self, but you may get into a depression state where the pain you feel is so strong and unbearable, the situation seaming so hopless that sucide will look like a very rational and logic way to stop this. You are apparently far from this stage, but this is what you'll find at the end of the road if you don't solve the situation. I don't want to scare you. It is just to show you what is in the balance and why you should react and take it very serioulsy. The earlier you detect it, the easier you can adjust your course to avoid the dead end.

flypunk 2 days ago 1 reply      
I had a burnout once and continued to work for 6 months afterwards to maximize my unvested options.

The options turned out to be worth a lot, by I couldn't enjoy work for 3 years, so I am not sure continuing to work was a good decision.

In my case the reason for a burnout was personal (relations with my boss) and I suspect that the reason is always personal.

I would distill it to 2 advices: ask yourself the 5 whys about the burnout and don't continue working in this state.

jgarmon 1 day ago 1 reply      
Related question from a different perspective: HOW DO I MAKE MY CEO TAKE SOME TIME OFF?

I'm not a confounder, but the CEO-founder is a friend and hired me on as soon as he cleared his A-round funding. (We've been confounders before on a project that flopped and he knew I wasn't in the risk position to be a dayjob-quitting early employee this time.) He's a serious workaholic -- claims to enjoy being so -- and the company is doing very well. That said, he's CLEARLY burning out.

He's talked for the last year about taking some time off, but between the birth of a new child, fundraising, strategic partnerships and the continued burden of success, his "week in Florida" kept being pushed off, shrunk to "three days in Florida" to "a day off" to "I'll take some time after this next funding round. Maybe."

Setting aside the fact that he's my CEO (and a ragged chief exec is bad for everybody), he's also a friend. I don't want to see him burn out. This will almost certainly NOT be the last company we work on together, and I'd like to see him survive -- mind, body, marriage and social circle intact -- past our current endeavor.

So, again, how do I convince my workaholic CEO to take some time off?

tferris 2 days ago 0 replies      
stop alcohol, caffeine for a while, go to the gym. talk to your cofounder, be open. work less or stop working BUT keep something doing (very important; dont do just nothing, THAT makes you more depressed, start a simple side project, learn skiing or whatever)

for every problem there is always a solution, talk to your cofounder, your view on life and your peers is toxic now but this will change very quickly

dont rush into any decision now, wait until you see clear again

huhtenberg 1 day ago 0 replies      
> somewhat depressed all the time, easily irritable

It took me several years to pin it down, but in my case getting more sleep completely solved above problems. Try and take a full day off and sleep in. Pull full 9-10 hours of sleep and assess if your irritability level is the same or not.

bluelu 2 days ago 0 replies      
Check your vitamine D levels.

I was also feeling exhausted and feared the worst, but it was all related to that. If you don't see the sun very often, you will build up a lack of Vitamine D.

wisty 1 day ago 1 reply      
You can tell your co-founder. You've got a duty to let them know. I'd be furious if a co-worker told me that they'd been nursing a huge problem on their own, and not let me in on it until it was too late, and it put the whole project in danger.

I'd time-box it - tell them you are feeling burnt out, and want their help for 2 months. No reasonable person would be annoyed at a co-worker taking it easy for 8 weeks. If you feel better at the end of it, then the crisis (for them) is averted. If not, you can consider your options. Note - I'm not a therapist, and I don't know if that's the best way of handling it. There's plenty of people who are better qualified than me to come up with a good plan for this.

> startup that really needs me right now

You should really re-consider that. No startup needs 100% of your ability. A slightly inferior feature-set won't kill a viable startup. You aren't in a 100m sprint in which you need to do everything that's humanly possible to beat the other guy. It's more like a dance competition, in which strategic decisions are more important. That's assuming you have a ton of competitors.

aw3c2 2 days ago 0 replies      
If your startup really needs you and your colleagues know that, everyone will understand if you are under too much stress and I think their reactions (while possible sad (which you might interpret as disappointment)) will be understanding.
Xylakant 2 days ago 0 replies      
Get a break, something that lasts longer than half a day. Go somewhere where you don't have internet, maybe even no phone connection. Knowing that you actually can't do anything really helps me to wind down and relax. It still needs a day or two, but it's worth ten times as much as a day where I'm supposed to be off but I can constantly check emails and have to actually restrain myself from doing so.
Estragon 1 day ago 0 replies      
I hope some of the advice people have given here is helpful to you. It would be a lot easier to advise you effectively if you gave us some more details about specific experiences which have triggered the irritation, resentment and desire for a break. Any suggestions made without that information are at least a little speculative.
jyothi 2 days ago 0 replies      
Pause, Relax & Recharge.

This happens and in a way it is good that your co-founder is going strong and doesn't need a break too. You badly need to recharge yourself & this has to be time well spent cautiously and consciously chalking out what you do during your break. A hackathlon or doing some sales for a friend can charge you back it need not be necessarily travel or rest. In effect you need to do something very different from the type of thinking that you do everyday (note different in thinking not the work type).

Also give yourself a break from all the headaches on your current startup - consciously keep away from talking to anyone on the team or checking out updates (positive updates are probably fine)

If you are the type of person for whom physical exertion works free up the mind - go for a hard trek or run or swim.

As far as your depressed nature, cofounder resentment etc - you might be blowing it out of proportion right now given you are not able to contribute effectively or thinking too much.

brudgers 2 days ago 0 replies      
You can tell someone, and you have.

The biggest issue from a business standpoint is your resentment of your cofounder [I'll leave healthcare diagnosis to the professionals].

Basically, you and your cofounder are married. The startup is your baby. I expect [based on personal experience] a marriage counselor would focus on improving communication between the two of you.

I'd ask what the particular resentment is in regards to, but the details don't really matter.

What matters is:

1. Are the causes of resentment something which can be rectified either directly between the two of you, or with mediation?

2. How can the level of trust between the two of you be strengthened to the point where you can work through these problems together?

3. Is there someone who could help both of you work through the issue together?

tripzilch 1 day ago 0 replies      
Nothing is worth risking burnout for (well, maybe saving your child or something like that). It takes ages to recover (roughly as long as you've spent building it up, which may be years), and I'm not entirely sure if it might leave anything permanent (wrt dealing with stress or pressure) preventing you from crawling back up to your previous 100%.

So, think about that and act.

How exactly to break it, I'm seeing loads of great advice in the rest of this thread so I'm not going to repeat it all. It's a different struggle for everyone.

angdis 2 days ago 0 replies      
You _can_ tell someone. Tell you co-founder if you have a strong relationship.

The "end-game" for burnout is complete dysfunction and possibly worse for an extended period of time. If this happens the first thing your co-founder will say is "Why didn't you tell me?"

methodin 2 days ago 0 replies      
You have to give your brain a break. That doesn't necessarily mean doing nothing but it can be doing something more along the lines of a hobby - such as creating music, doing graphics, gardening etc...

One of the most common overlooked things with developers is the fact that your brain strives for equilibrium. Tipping the scale too long can really have disastrous side-effects if you aren't doing some of the things you love doing. I broke down for nearly 2 months unable to code at all but it was the last time that happened since these adjustments.

drumdance 2 days ago 0 replies      
I went through something similar last summer. Others have mention therapy and medication, both of which I second. Also, look into whether you have adrenal fatigue. I had it and the cure has been to take several supplements, notably DHEA and rhodiola rosea.

I was good about exercising even at the depths of my burnout, but I nonetheless still felt tired all the time. The dietary supplements have made a profound difference. I've never felt so energetic in my life (I'm in my mid forties).

foolinator 2 days ago 0 replies      
Get the fuck out of there. Do it with class. They'll understand. Your life and your health are far more important. Fuck the romanticism of startups, do your own thing. You're posting on here looking to hear this because you know it's true. GTFO.

I just got laid off from a douche bag boss (who knows, you may have been that boss, for all I know). He was pretty much in your shoes. I imagine in another life he'd be a good guy but his negative attitude was infectious and as a result his protégés are now professional douches and everyone around him is miserable. You're going to become THAT GUY if you don't get out.

jacquesm 2 days ago 0 replies      
Go see a doctor. Now. Don't put it off.
devs1010 1 day ago 0 replies      
Something that's helped me, without having to resort to smart drugs, or anything like that, is increasing your vitamin intake from natural sources, I get the natural vitamins (made from real fruits and vegetables, not manufactured ones in a lab, you have to look for them as they don't sell them everywhere and they are more expensive) and also drink a lot of vegetable juice or the veggie / fruit juice mixes (look for the light ones or sodium free ones if you want to keep it as healthy as possible). I don't know for sure if is a placebo effect or if it really boosts energy short term, but I feel like it can sometimes give me a boost and just feel healthier and more awake overall.
crewtide 1 day ago 0 replies      
It's hard to tell from your post how much of this is about you and how much is about your startup's culture. For each case, figure out what you can do to improve the situation.

I completely agree with patio11's diet & exercise point. Strenuous exercise (over 30 min) releases endorphines that act as both analgesics and sedatives, and are shown to reduce depression, increase self-esteem, etc. You owe it to yourself and your startup to do this life hack no matter what the cause of your current unhappiness.

Of course, diet, sleeping well, and taking time off/socializing are also great ideas. The important thing is to take action now before it affects your life/startup any more than it has.

Your startup:
If you think some of your resentment or depression is due to dysfunction in your startup, then come up with ways you can improve it. Focus on actions you can take rather than on ways other people/the group could change. I also find that people are more likely to change when asked to do something than when asked to "not do" something.

For example, if workaholism is an issue, it's easy to fall into outward/"don't do" thinking like this: telling the group that the amount of time required is making you unhappy, and that it should change. Instead, try saying something like, "I think I'll work better if I take a whole day off every two weeks and I'd love it if people joined me. My first day off will be x day, and I'm going to go hiking, let me know if you want to come." People love to join a good idea.

Good luck!

mgs019 2 days ago 0 replies      
I was in a similar place about 18 months ago with a digital agency I founded and ended up selling it about a year ago. I don't regret the selling part but I know now that I could have made my own life a load easier if I just stopped and looked at things objectively.

It sounds to me like you need to get some perspective on things so I would suggest:

1) Talk to your co-founder. They probably see you in ways you don't realise and they should understand that for the sake of the startup it is best to give you a bit of support. If they don't then seriously think about whether you want to continue with someone who won't support you (and the startup) when you need them to.

2) Take a break. By this I mean a real break where your cell phone is off for at least a week if not two. Where you do as little as possible and try not to even think about work. It might take a bit of time to get yourself a chance to do this but you have to.

3) Learn to meditate. It will totally change the way you look at things. The feeling of suffering and pain you have comes from your mind being out of control - you know rationally that it isn't as bad as it seems and said as much above. Learning to calm your mind and get rid of the fog will help you look at what really is important and you will feel more in control and positive.

3) Remember that you are only human. There is nothing wrong with making mistakes and things getting on top of you. You must learn to not be perfect and be happy that you are as you are. There is no shame in needing help.

5) If the above don't work for you go and see a doctor. Depression is a real and sometimes very severe illness. For some people (but only some) medication is the right answer.

Hope that helps.

gargalatas 2 days ago 1 reply      
Everyone is afraid to take some vacation who have a startup. I think that this situation makes things even worst and then you think that you had enough but in the opposite site you afraid to leave for some vacation and put yourself in an endless loop. Depression is coming...

Take some days off. Soon you will understand that everyone respects your vacation. Don't afraid to pick up the phone and give solutions where it's needed while you are in the middle of your holidays. Picking up the phone will make you feel comfortable.

And always remember: Everyone respects your vaction. Don't afraid to leave for some days and relax.

karl11 2 days ago 0 replies      
Start exercising.
jmaskell 2 days ago 0 replies      
Talk to your co-founder. It sounds like you're pretty sure that the problem can be resolved by taking a break. Try taking a week off. You're no good to your startup is you're burnt out and unable to work. Not taking a week off to rest now could cost you many weeks in the future.

If you take some time off to rest and you don't feel any better seek professional help. Mental health is just as important as physical health and isn't something that you should feel ashamed about.

Tawheed 1 day ago 0 replies      
I burned out late last year after finishing our accelerator program. I took some time to reset and then came back with a vengeance. I'm happy to grab a drink/talk on the phone and share what worked for me: tk@toutapp.com.
heliodor 1 day ago 0 replies      
Two things come to mind that might be your cause:

1) Not enough sleep and exercise. Get at least three consecutive days of solid sleep and go work out. See how it changes your mood and thoughts.
2) Your co-founder is dominant and you have no say. You don't feel ownership. There's an imbalance of power and you're in the second seat. A lot of startups operate this way.

hiromichan 2 days ago 0 replies      
I suppose it is also important to find out why are you burning out? Is it the amount of work? Is it something your co-founders do or something that didn't turn out as expected?

I suppose there are several reasons why someone can burn out, and as well as getting some rest to clean the mind it is also important to find out why that's happening. Otherwise it would happen again.

My first and best manager I had, once told me, that jobs are a bit like relationships, the more you try different ones the more you find out what you _don't_ like.
I have found that to be a great piece of advise. So I guess my advise to you would be find out what it is not working for you. Talk to someone outside the whole situation that can have a clear picture of what's happening to you, either a therapist, an old pal or just a family members I guess would be able to help you.

I hope this helps :)
I have been there and I was miserable for family and friends.. but having them close to me was a huge help to get back to my old self once again :)


dustineichler 2 days ago 0 replies      
It's more common than you realize. I haven't necessarily found a cure all, but talking about it... helps. Find yourself a professional mentor because this is a career issue.

On a personal note, I was (is) feeling the same thing for a long time. You have to decide what your life is going to look like. Pay attention to compromising decisions.

TobiHeidi 2 days ago 0 replies      
Talk to your cofounder about it! Be honest, there is a solution for every problem.
kanchax 23 hours ago 0 replies      
Good luck. I had a similar experience but with nothing as important as a startup. I simply slowed the rhythm of everything. I still am dealing with this situation but so far it ain't bad. Of course my case was not-time dependent so that was not a problem. I think it was a mistake (cost option wise). We'll see.
amorphid 2 days ago 0 replies      
I've been there. Why do you feel burned out?

P.S. If you are my co-founder, take a vacation already. You work too much!

brianmac 2 days ago 1 reply      
Check out Leo Babauta: http://zenhabits.net/ Lots of great posts about creating habits everyone is suggesting, like sleep, rest, meditation, to find balance and letting go of stress.
joelmaat 2 days ago 0 replies      
Take a break.

Become one of the inspiration junkies. Go to the gym. Work on another side of the business. Schedule your day, leaving time away from your startup. Don't let what's urgent mascarade around with the set of things that actually need to get done. Start taking legal "smart" drugs like Piracetam, Aniracetam, Pramiracetam, Noopept, Acetyl-L-Carnitine, Lion's Mane Mushroom, Magnesium L-Threonate, etc.. in addition to helping you get "smarter" and increasing your productivity/proficiency they'll give you motivation and a serene feeling.


Seru_kr 1 day ago 0 replies      
Hey, I've been in the same boat before and let me tell you about my experience.

I started a small business that worked in conjunction with title companies. We basically recorded on our own servers deeds, notice of defaults, and other real estate documents and sent them to the county recorders office.

We didn't have much competition because this concept was relatively new and not popular back then. So everything was going great except my partner and I were two completely different people when it came to managing.

He was a strict by-the-book kind of guy that alienated potential clients due to his stubborn nature and unwillingness to compromise. On the other hand, I was too lenient and was letting clients take advantage of us. At the time we didn't know that maybe we could complement each others weakness, so we were constantly arguing.

So we both went to a mediator that suggested we go on a recreational trip together and not talk about business at all. So we did and at first argued about minor stuff, but finally came to a realization that neither of us were going to succeed if we kept it up. How could we run a business together if we couldn't even come to an agreement to which car to rent? We started compromising little by little and eventually it was easy to see the other person's point of view.

We turned the business around, made it even more successful and sold it making both of us very happy. Now we have a new company that we started together and it is also doing pretty well.

My advice would be to take some time off. Maybe spend some time with your co-founder in a non-business way. Get to know him if you don't really know him well. And don't sweat the small stuff.

Knowing your problem is the first step, and I think you've already got that down.

If you still feel down, don't forget you have a growing user-base that is cheering you on.

ClintonWu 2 days ago 0 replies      
Interested to read all the remedies to figure out how this can be prevented. I'm a first-time founder starting to display some of these symptoms - the main one for me being this feeling in my stomach every time I wake up in the morning. A feeling of I'm not doing enough to move the ball forward combined with a a feeling of there's too much to do, I don't even know where to start. Sometimes it results in me laying there for another half hour, not wanting to face anything. Finally, I'll get up and face it.
ssylee 1 day ago 0 replies      
Sounds like it's time for you to move on. You need to take care of yourself before everything else. If your cofounder has any common sense at all, s/he would've told you to take as much time off as you need to fix yourself up.
paulovsk 2 days ago 0 replies      
Sleep enough. Eat well. Don't forget the fitness.
You can't let the body go, he's essential to mind.

I'd recommend some sort of mind training... just relaxing doing what other people says is relaxing almost never helps (beach, book, etc).

Check this out [english audio]: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vHjyMq6eZB8

This one is good too: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ogH3KAge6zw

jsi979 1 day ago 0 replies      
I think this is happening to my co-founder (though I don't think he's the OP). We've been working on our SaaS company for several years, have a good number of paying customers, have hired half a dozen employees from revenue (never took funding), and are building a great company with a product our customers love. But it's still a struggle every day, and there are always more things to do than we have time for.

I can tell he's tired - he comes in to the office later and later, seems more easily irritated, has worked crazy long hours for years with hardly any days or weekends off. I think the daily stresses are just starting to wear on him. (Me too, of course, but that's a subject for a different post!) If I recognize what the OP is going through in my own co-founder, how should I bring it up?

For those of you who have or are going through this kind of thing, any thoughts on the best way to talk to someone who is struggling with this? I really want to help.

Brimstone 1 day ago 0 replies      
I have been there and crashed and burned in the process. Two things that have completely changed my perspective that I suggest is reading two books, "The Secret of Letting Go" by Guy Finley and "The 28 Laws of Attraction" by Thomas Leonard. You have to make a mental shift and let go of the baggage that you feel is forcing you to do things you resent.
marcofucci 2 days ago 0 replies      
"The 4-Hour Workweek" could help: http://www.amazon.com/The-4-Hour-Workweek-Anywhere-Expanded/...

The author has some really good points and ideas.

redhat 1 day ago 0 replies      
wow. I had no idea I'd get such a response - thank you all for the support, I'm making my way through all your comments and will try many of the things suggested.
ZanderEarth32 2 days ago 0 replies      
Depending on what stage you are guys are in your startup should be able to survive a week without you. What if something happened that forced your or your cofounder to be gone for X amount of time? You need safeguards up to protect against the unexpected.
carterschonwald 2 days ago 0 replies      
Try out all the suggestions mentioned here. All of them.
lucasjake 2 days ago 0 replies      
Redhat, people care about you. Focus on those who take care of you the most. For many of us that is family, but if not family, your friends away from startupland. If not them, we'll help. You never forfeit any option, especially when you keep yourself healthy.
debacle 1 day ago 0 replies      
A half day isn't enough. You need to have at least one night where you go to sleep not thinking about work. Whether that's a 4 day weekend or a week of vacation, you need it.

An ounce of prevention...something something.

loceng 2 days ago 0 replies      
Get to a yoga class every day. That's your break away from the world, once per day. That's how I first broke the cycle - I wasn't giving any actual time to myself. Second part is if there are thoughts and feelings coming up you can't find a solution to yourself (eg: cognitive dissonance because of the results you see happening) then you need to talk to different people to get new perspectives that help you get through the cognitive dissonance. Easier said than done, but that process works for me when I am aware it's needed..
c1sc0 2 days ago 0 replies      
Yes, you can talk to someone. You can talk to me, FWIW. I've been there. Feel free to contact me anytime, email is in my profile.
paulo89 1 day ago 0 replies      
Depression is bigger than work. Watch out for changes in diet or sleeping patterns. Half days off are a possible indicator. What's the cost of seeing your dr. and having a conversation? Not much.

Don't think it can happen to you? Read about Ben Huh at Cheezeburger.

antmaper 2 days ago 0 replies      
I drive a startup with a Bipolar cofounder and confess ins't easy task. I am learning how to get self control and focus on our target.
backslash777 2 days ago 0 replies      
Get out of the situation NOW, before the damage is too big to handle. Take a week break and go somewhere far from email and phone, and use the time to think how to restructure your work so it doesn't happen again when you get back. You need serious restructuring and lots of delegation. Nothing is more important than your well-being, and your company will suffer more in the long run, if you're down.

Daily exercise helped me, try getting your pulse up, if you do this regularly you will get much better mood, more energy and things will lighten up.

me2012 2 days ago 1 reply      
I had the same problem three years ago. I started meditating a lot, and I've realized that my thoughts are the source of all experiences.
tsieling 2 days ago 0 replies      
If they need you and you don't take care of yourself to prevent burnout, then they'll be let down.
glide007 2 days ago 0 replies      
advise i would prefer to give has already been communicated.

so I would just say you are not alone!

rheide 2 days ago 0 replies      
I take walks :)
respectfulanon 2 days ago 0 replies      
Take a complete change of scene for at least two weeks. Go away and spend the time doing something that takes up your attention (rock climbing, skiing, visiting old friends, whatever). This should make you feel human again. Then you can hopefully at least see things in perspective.
munyukim 1 day ago 0 replies      
Take time to celebrate what you have achieved so far.
nsomaru 2 days ago 3 replies      
This type of fatigue is usually caused by selfishness and excessive thinking about yourself.

Also, if you are motivated entirely by making money and are not inspired by what you are doing, this could be a cause.

Find out why you're doing what you're doing, reaffirm it, and it will inspire you again. Stop sulking. A physical break is not going to help if you don't sort yourself out mentally.

I know it's hard to swallow, but try it.

What's that? spottedsun.com
198 points by veb  18 hours ago   49 comments top 12
runako 17 hours ago 4 replies      
I actually think it's not respectful of visitors' time to only describe your site in a video. I know, it's only 30 seconds, but that's about 25 seconds longer than it takes me to read a short text description. And if I need to find my headphones, it's not 30 seconds anymore.

What's wrong with writing, anyway?

lucb1e 7 hours ago 1 reply      
And while we're on it, make sure websites are operable by keyboard too (tab and enter, mostly). What for? Visually impaired people.

I know someone who is totally blind, has worked with MS-DOS while he could see, but got blind before Windows 3.1 even came out. Yet he works with and version of Windows, sends and reads email, searches videos on Youtube, and browses the web. That last one is becoming more and more tricky with div-onclick="location=somewhere;" (instead of a-href) and other Javascript all over the place.

Screen readers are made to read text. Flash is hard but sometimes possible, Javascript is becoming a good competitor to Flash in the sense of that it's rendering the web almost as inaccessible.

Images too are a problem of course, without alt attribute they are totally worthless to blind people.

So if you want to present something to the entire market, be sure to have either an accessible website or a mobile version, both preferably in the local language (you should hear how Dutch text to speech software reads English, sounds more like Chinese--literally). And there are about 160 million people blind around the world, even if only a tenth of that speaks English and has internet access, that are 16 million people. Nearly as much as the entire population of the Netherlands.

raldi 12 hours ago 0 replies      
And even if you don't care about people who are hard of hearing, think about those of us who are at work, or in a public place, and don't have a pair of headphones available.
thechut 15 hours ago 1 reply      
This is a huge problem! I did some work for the Assistive Technology Industry Association (ATIA) and video is very inaccessible. This is a problem not only for people with bad or impaired hearing. Imagine trying to figure out what a video was trying to demonstrate if you were blind!

W3C has created the Web Acceptability Initiative (WAI) with the goal of creating a common set of web standards so that all people can access content. Check out the WAI homepage for best practices and code examples: http://www.w3.org/WAI/

welp 3 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm profoundly deaf, and wish I had thought of making this post. I've lost track of the number of times I have been put off a product because their only description is in video form.

I sometimes forgive start-ups for not captioning videos, but I think it's inexcusable when a large multinational corporation publishes a video with no captions -- especially if they pay for live captioning for employees in meetings (e.g., by using http://www.captionfirst.com/).

geuis 13 hours ago 2 replies      
I'm very confused about why this story has so many votes. spottedsun.com doesn't even resolve for me.
gus_massa 11 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm not hearing impaired, but my first language is Spanish. I can read almost anything in English, but sometimes it is difficult for me to understand fast spoken English. So, if you care about international users, you also should add captions to the videos.
john2x 8 hours ago 0 replies      
And for those who have a slow connection, a video is just a big back button. (speaking from experience)
tzaman 17 hours ago 0 replies      
This is actually not a rant - it's a wake up call.
dhotson 5 hours ago 0 replies      
If a video has captions I often prefer to watch it muted. I'm not even hearing impaired. Sound is overrated. ;-)
FrancescoRizzi 15 hours ago 0 replies      
You, sirs and/or ladies have my thanks for bringing this up. You have my vote on this one, no questions asked.
ryanbales 15 hours ago 2 replies      
We just released an app intro video at Budgetable http://budgetable.com ... Adding captions didn't even cross my mind, but we'll do it.
How One Response to a Reddit Query Became a Big Budget Flick wired.com
192 points by pier0  1 day ago   43 comments top 13
m_myers 1 day ago 1 reply      
I've run across Prufrock451 before on the Paradox gaming boards, where he was known years ago as one of the most creative AAR (After Action Report) writers.

Two of his most popular works, both dating from 2002:

- WAAR of the Worlds, in which aliens invade (and are then repulsed by another player who alternated game sessions with Prufrock451). http://forum.paradoxplaza.com/forum/showthread.php?44563-WAA...

- The Great Game Redux - Sibir, whose plot bears a striking resemblance to Rome Sweet Rome. A Englishman in 1909 is transported to Siberia in 1419 and attempts to transform the tribes into a modern country. http://forum.paradoxplaza.com/forum/showthread.php?35699-The...

Both were written against a backdrop of a (heavily modified) game of Europa Universalis 2 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Europa_Universalis_II).

jacques_chester 1 day ago 6 replies      
The brief version is: luck.

The right idea was in front of the eyes of the right person at the right time.

The idea is a staple of light sci-fi, but apparently has not crossed the desk of the right agents in the right mood.

So: luck.

Which is wildly underestimated as a cause of success.

javert 1 day ago 3 replies      
With four or five ideas, Madhouse said hmm.

Come on Wired, you can't use "hmm" as a noun - it at least needs quotes!!

Twenty-five were immediate noes.

I think that's also highly questionable. But I'm not certain.

Of course, like any site that thrives on pseudonymity, Reddit attracts its share of the sick and the deluded. There's a subreddit, MensRights, “for people who believe that men are currently being disadvantaged by society,” and for years the site admins tolerated subreddits devoted to pictures of underage girls.

What? How is MensRights "sick and deluded"? There really are laws (e.g. child custody law in certain US states) that are highly skewed against men.

josephcooney 1 day ago 1 reply      
Does anyone else find it annoying/disconcerting the amount of time spent in the article describing what reddit is? If reddit truly is "one of the largest communities on the Internet" and wired is a technology magazine then is that necessary? Where do they stop? "Erwin was using a computer, kind of likea type-writer with a T.V. attached to it, probably not dis-similar to the thing you're using now to read this article"
christiangenco 1 day ago 1 reply      

    By the end of his lunch hour, he had gotten as far as Day 6, but he didn't want to post all the entries at once; what if no one read them? So he posted Day 2, then returned to his work, taking screenshots of software buttons and labeling them.
Erwin dribbled out his story over the course of the afternoon, switching back and forth between Reddit and work.

What a lovely way of adapting the story so he wasn't on reddit all day instead of working.

rsanchez1 1 day ago 2 replies      
I just see a Hollywood that ran out of ideas a long time ago and is desperate for a fresh story. The big movie pushes I've seen this year are John Carter, based on a character that first appeared a hundred years ago, and the Hunger Games, based on a book series that first appeared less than four years ago. Then I see a new Three Stooges film coming out that, among other crazy things, features an appearance of several Jersey Shore cast members. Many other big budget films this year are sequels: Wrath of the Titans, The Avengers, Men In Black 3, etc.

And here, Prufrock451 is a lucky one. Hollywood is starving for ideas, but even when innovative writers come up with a good idea, Hollywood prefers to go with established money-makers and often red-lights obscure ideas. I think they're so willing to go with Prufrock451's story because it got so popular on reddit. There's lower risk. They see that this story can attract a lot of eyeballs, and are hoping that those eyeballs will translate to box office success.

Hollywood likes to blame its decline on pirating, but in reality there are very few new ideas coming out of Hollywood anymore, and they expect to make money repackaging old ideas, putting them in 3D and charging a premium. Hopefully stories like Prufrock451's become more common and we get to see more original ideas make it to the big screen. I certainly don't want to see more movies with the old stooges and the new Jersey stooges.

pmorici 1 day ago 1 reply      
This reminds me of the Michael Criton book "Timeline" which was also made into a movie in 2003.
alpad 1 day ago 1 reply      
"Kolbrenner says the movie is “going to be completely different"I don't know if I should say that or not."

I really hope they don't fuck it up when they make the changes. Prufrock, if you're reading this, don't let them ruin it. Please, please, please watch out for your story. Don't let them make it completely different.

sigmaxipi 1 day ago 0 replies      
FYI, if you want to read a comic about modern soldiers going back in time to fight in Rome: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pax_Romana_(comics)
instakill 1 day ago 0 replies      
For those of you have haven't read the first few chapters, go and do it. It's brilliant.
bipolarla 1 day ago 0 replies      
Interesting article. The power of an idea catching on is possible through the internet. It is amazing how many shows and artists were found on YouTube. It says in the article the site's founders originally created phony accounts and posted stuff in the beginning. I wonder how many big companies did that and if any of you know the rules of it. I am happy my community is getting real people to join since it feels more authentic. You can see http://www.willlisten.com
yaix 1 day ago 0 replies      
> “OK, I'm writing a movie for the masses,” he says. “OK, masses, what do you like?”

Oh, it'll be one of /those/ movies :(

Neil deGrasse Tyson: ‘How Much Would You Pay for the Universe?' openculture.com
183 points by jamesbritt  2 days ago   107 comments top 18
trothamel 2 days ago  replies      
(This is written from an American perspective, and reposted from elsewhere - but I think it fits.)

For much of my life, when we spend money on space, we get not-space.

For the money we spent on the X-30, X-33, X-34, and X-38, when Dan Goldin was NASA administrator, what did we get? Not-space. (At least the X-37 is up there spyingflying.)

The orbital space plane program, the one that was Sean O'Keefe's thing - neat plans, more capsules than planes IIRC, but ultimately we got not-space from it.

The Vision for Space Exploration, under Michael Griffin? Rocket designs that were approximately equivalent to throwing your astronauts into a paint mixer. A system about which the review panel said that "If they gave us the system on a silver platter, the first thing we'd have to do is cancel it, because we couldn't afford the ongoing costs." A lot of money, a launch pad rusting in the Florida weather, and a whole lot of not-space.

And for all the money we spend on human spaceflight, we now send Astronauts up as passengers in Soyuz rockets.

Now we're spending $18 billion dollars - figure subject to change, always upward - to build the SLS - the Senate Launch System. (Another estimate has it at $40B for development and the first 4 flights.) If all things go as planned, it will launch once every two years, launching an unmanned trip around the moon in 2017 and a manned trip to the moon in 2019. Schedule subject to change - always slipping.

Does anyone thing that SLS has a chance of working? Or is it just going to become another not-space program?

How about the replacement for the Hubble Space Telescope, the Webb Space Telescope? In 1997, it was going to be launched in 2007, and it was going to have cost 500 million dollars. Now we've spent 3.5 billion on it, and it will launch in 2018. Maybe. That's a ton of money to spend on not-space - and it's money that's been taken away from the moderately successful bits of NASA, like the Mars program, which doesn't have a mission in it after 2013's MAVEN.

I don't mind spending money on space. I like space. I've been following the MER rovers for nearly a decade. I think COTS and Commercial Crew are brilliant, and hope that they will continue to exist with a program structure that rewards results, rather than existence. Commercial space is the last best hope to get a domestic space capability.

But times are tight. We're massively overspending as is - borrowing tons of money our grandchildren will still be paying back. So increased spending is far from free.

Is it worth it? I say yes. Spend money on space. Where do we get that money? Let's stop spending it on not-space, like we have been.

EREFUNDO 2 days ago 3 replies      
This is a re-post of an earlier comment but I think it's very applicable to this article:

The Chinese explored the Middle East and Africa almost 100 years before the Europeans. Every expedition consisted of 300 ships, some as long as 400 feet with 9 mast and an armada crew totaling 28,000 men. After 30 years of doing it they realized that they were spending too much money on these grand expeditions. The succeeding emperor ended the program. The Europeans on the other hand would send out just a few ships and try to find ways for the expeditions to be profitable (Slaves, gold, land, colonies) in ways the Chinese never thought. These smaller European expeditions could not be stopped by one emperor because Europe was not a unified empire like China. The smaller European kingdoms also competed against each other. This not only made the expeditions sustainable but thrive for the next 500 years. Right now I think we are in China's situation 600 years ago. We stopped the moon landings for the same reason the Chinese stopped landing Eunuchs in Africa. Unless we find a way for these space programs to be profitable I don't see humans colonizing space anytime soon.

mkn 2 days ago 5 replies      
I hate Neil DeGrasse Tyson. Not on a personal level, mind you. He's probably a nice guy to have beers with. But he's a shill for NASA. He's a good shill, but he's a shill, nonetheless.

A little background. I'm old enough to have been "inspired" by the Space Shuttle Program near the point of its inception. Imagine a young mkn sitting down with a pencil and paper to work out how much it would cost to buy himself a ticket on the Space Shuttle at the promised $50/lb. I weighed 70 lbs. I knew it would be more than $3500 because I'd have to eat and breathe while I was up there. I wondered if I could go naked to save some cash. But still, it was a nice number. And then, the number changed. The promise went up to $100/lb. Fine. The math was easier. Oh, and the number of launches went from 26/year down to 12/year. Not quite the airline-style operations they had promised, but not bad. And then the price went to $500/lb. 3 or 4 launches per year. And then, the media just stopped talking about the costs and launch frequency, probably because it quit showing up in the press kits.

Tyson complains that we don't dream about the future anymore. He's right. We don't. But he complains without the slightest hint of irony. The promise of NASA was that the costs would come down. The promise was that spaceflight would become routine and affordable. The promise tapped into the then-current emphasis on mobility in the American Dream. Tyson is right that we don't dream about the future anymore. But we don't dream about it because NASA has proven to us what the future is. The future is NASA, and the future is stagnation. We have all been "inspired" by NASA. We don't dream because we don't need to. We know.

Tyson breathlessly opines about all the amazing things NASA could do with twice the budget. Missions to Mars! To those, I have this to say: Big fucking deal. The promise of NASA was never its "missions". The missions were a vehicle for the promise. The promise was ubiquitous space access. I'm going to see my cousin on the Moon. We're taking a year and seeing Mars. Sending some highly-selected and highly-trained spam in a can for some fahrt around a crater is not the promise. Sending you and me there for a fahrt around a crater is. Somehow or other, that part of the promise has slipped out of NASA enthusiasts memory. Long live NASA! All we have to do is pay twice as much!

The imagery of the Shuttle and of the new capsule is especially offensive. It's the easiest thing in the world to verify that the Shuttle was the most expensive launch system ever conceived in the history of manned space flight. It is, as I've hinted above, the primary reason for the complete demoralization of the populace with regards to space flight. And it was promised to be so much better than that. The Orion capsule is all that is left of that disgraced launcher program, the one that retained the disgraced SRBs to placate Morton-Thiokol.

NASA can't. That's my new slogan. Unlike other slogans, which are mainly inspirational, mine is intended to remind me of reality. Take any dream you have about space and phrase it as a question, and the answer is "NASA can't". Will we build orbiting habitats in space on a massive scale? NASA can't. Will we ever colonize the Moon or Mars? NASA can't. Will we ever be able to realistically dream of democratic access to space? NASA can't. Every time you hear Tyson speak, just remember: NASA can't. And it ain't for lack of funds.

I wish Tyson would other shut the hell up or direct his energies and oratorical gifts at making NASA an agency worth supporting. But, he won't. He's a cheap shill, and he's just going to keep doing his shabby job.

maeon3 2 days ago 5 replies      
It was harder for Columbus to reach the west and bring back treasures than it is for us to reach the asteroid belt and bring back exotic materials. What is missing is not technology (need is the mother of invention) but a reason to go. Was Columbus 100% sure his mission would be profitable?

What if Columbus waited another 100 years for a safer option to cross the mysterious expanse? History would be much different.

temphn 2 days ago 0 replies      
Great rhetoric by Tyson, but completely misses the point that innovation in space travel is now completely the domain of NewSpace companies like Armadillo Airspace, SpaceX, and Virgin Galactic rather than governments.

NASA no longer innovates. It's coasting on past glories. If a fraction of the billions spent on NASA were left untaxed in the hands of individuals like Carmack, Musk, Thiel, and Branson -- and allowed to wend their way towards NewSpace investments rather than wasted on NASA boondoggles -- we'd all be much better off.

Also, it's not at all obvious that we want to keep focusing on manned missions, which Tyson mentions explicitly. You can iterate much more rapidly on unmanned drones as you need save nothing for the way back, and the costs of failure are far less. Tyson recognizes part of the human psychological factors at play (the motivation of wartime) but doesn't recognize that wanting humans in space instead of far more machines is emotional rather than practical right now.

Get the costs of putting things into orbit down with machines, and humans will follow. But let's not put the cart before the horse.

sjtgraham 2 days ago 3 replies      
Wow, just wow. That is all I could think while watching that. Neil deGrasse Tyson is such a great orator. It wouldn't surprise me if he becomes President some day.
tomelders 2 days ago 0 replies      
There's some rampant, blind and heart crumbling cynicism is going on in this thread.

"We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too"

Or we could just build websites, obsess over stuff that will be forgotten in a year and shit all over other peoples grand ideas.

vibrunazo 2 days ago 0 replies      
This makes me think of crowd-funded space exploration.

Kickstarter is still far from mainstream and making million dollar projects. Petridish.org opens the possibility of tax-payers willingly donate a monthly value to science. Now imagine if all of these went mainstream with a celebrity like Neil Tyson as the front face of a project to help fund SpaceX? Viable?

mathattack 2 days ago 7 replies      
I love the idea of supporting space science, ut in a deficit ridden economy, is this extra percent of spending more valuable than health care research, lowering the cost of education or solving world hunger?

Before going to Mars I would like a decent school on my street.

ChristianMarks 2 days ago 0 replies      
The NASA remote sensing budget is being cut by 30%. That's very bad news for Earth Science and the validation of climate models, let alone for the exploration of space.

Source: http://news.sciencemag.org/scienceinsider/2011/07/house-appr...

georgieporgie 2 days ago 3 replies      
I wonder, in a future where space exploration is minimal and performed by robots, and where non-war (by technicality) is waged by drones, who will the heroes be?
Ras_ 1 day ago 0 replies      
The other major frontier of exploration isn't faring any better:

"More people have walked on the surface of the Moon than have visited the bottom of the Marianas Trench. We've even been to the Moon more recently than we have the very bottom of the sea."


laserDinosaur 2 days ago 2 replies      
It would be nice to have the video without the damn music so I can actually hear what he's saying :/
ctdonath 2 days ago 0 replies      
“After we stopped going to the moon, it all ended. We stopped dreaming.”

Because we saw what it got us. All that money, effort, and enthusiasm got us a couple dozen guys on a dead rock for a few dozen hours. Adding a couple zeros to the budget improves the situation from grey to red rock. Beyond that, we soon get to what some writer (escaping me at the moment) noted: humans just can't comprehend interstellar distances, the vast effort required to achieve even mundane results. Too much cost for too little result. My hopes remain high, but my expectations are more content with what's happening here on Earth. At 44 I realize how short life is.

j45 2 days ago 0 replies      
It might be a foregone conclusion, but $42.

On a side note, I think current and recent generations rarely look to space with the complete awe that say, generations in the 60's and 70's did.

How can spacexy be brought back?

aboodman 2 days ago 0 replies      
Is it just me or does 0.4% of the tax base on Nasa seem really reasonable. If I had had to guess, I would have put it way lower.
joering2 2 days ago 0 replies      
it finished when i had wet eyes so I think it was well done. And facts are scary. From monetary point of view, bailout cost more than 50 years of NASA? two years military spending. Gosh, thats sad...
sbmassey 2 days ago 0 replies      
Assuming that private enterprise isn't getting us into space fast enough, we will need a new cold war to get the world's governments fearful enough to throw money at the problem, and to demand solutions.

Perhaps China will do the honors?

In-memory key-value store in C, Go and Python darkcoding.net
180 points by nkurz  1 day ago   51 comments top 17
antirez 1 day ago 2 replies      
In order to perform such a comparison you can't write three small trow-away programs, you need to optimize each version at your best for weeks to start to be meaningful, and you need an expert in the three systems.

Otherwise the test is still interesting but is: "what is the best language to write a memcached clone without being an expert in a given language, using a few hours", that still says something about how different the three languages are, but does not say much about what is the best language to implement the system.

Btw in a more serious test another parameter that you did not considered much is very important, that is, memory usage per-key in the three versions, and in general, memory behavior.

timtadh 1 day ago 1 reply      
Looking at the go version[1] I am not sure if will work as expected. Maps in go are not thread safe.[2] So it could be the go version is out performing the others do to the lack of synchronisation. There are several ways to fix this in go, the easiest might just be to use a mutex around the accesses to the cache. But it would probably be better to use a readers writers lock.

edit: (that said I am not sure if the C version is thread safe either I haven't read the docs for the hash table he is using.)

edit 2: (looks like the C version is not thread safe either).

[1] https://github.com/grahamking/Key-Value-Polyglot/blob/master...

[2] http://golang.org/doc/go_faq.html#atomic_maps

irahul 1 day ago 1 reply      
I hand coded an epoll implementation for Python.


As far as raw benchmark goes, it runs faster than the go version on my machine:

    # Go version. Changed test.py to 10000 gets and sets.
± $ time python test.py
python test.py 0.48s user 0.60s system 47% cpu 2.289 total

# Python epoll version. Changed test.py to 10000 gets and sets.
± $ time python test.py
python test.py 0.20s user 0.26s system 50% cpu 0.903 total

But go version is easier to read and write, compared to Python which requires the knowledge of epoll.

Standard disclaimer: Please note that this comparison is highly unscientific, and take the numbers with a grain of salt.

caf 1 day ago 0 replies      
In C you are not necessarily "on your own" - you can do something very similar to Python, turning your socket into a file with fdopen(). You can then use functions like fgets() and fread() on it, and stdio will take care of the buffering for you.
malkia 1 day ago 0 replies      
The "C" code is very poor.

strtok is not reentrant safe. And why use it, when looking only for " ", use strchr.
strlen() is used over and over, instead of keeping lengths somewhere.
Also comparison to "set" / "get" could be than char by char, or by using the perfect hash generator somewhat faster code (but even by hand it can be made very fast).
'get ' and 'set ' can directly be checked using one uint32_t rather than byte by byte comparison....

And let's not talk about the needless hidden calls to memory allocation, instead of using slabs, or something more appropriate for the task. (strdup so many places too).

But that's all heresy. I'm a video game programmer, give me such code and I'll beat it up, except send/recv. So what? So fucking what?

spullara 1 day ago 2 replies      
Are we seriously discussing a benchmark that only runs 1000 operations? I don't even understand how it could take 20s to complete in any language on the server side and be correct code. Implement the Redis protocol and use the included redis-benchmark to test your server. On a decent Mac you should be able to hit 500k/s with pipelining and 25k/s without it.
willbmoss 1 day ago 3 replies      
I added an implementation [1] in diesel [2][3], which uses select.epoll (or libev, on non-Linux systems) and got a around 150x speedup [4]. I only repeated the tests a few times (but they were all close) and didn't install the Go compiler so I could test against Go (I'd be interested to see how this stacks up on your machine). Like you say in your post, it's nice to have something wrap up the bother of epoll for you.

[1] https://github.com/wmoss/Key-Value-Polyglot

[2] diesel.io

[3] https://github.com/jamwt/diesel

[4] The first run is against the diesel one

wmoss@wmoss-mba:~/etc/Key-Value-Polyglot$ time python test.py

real 0m0.134s

user 0m0.040s

sys 0m0.020s

wmoss@wmoss-mba:~/etc/Key-Value-Polyglot$ time python test.py

real 0m20.164s

user 0m0.096s

sys 0m0.072s

comex 1 day ago 1 reply      
Just running (a single instance of) test.py as a benchmark does not make sense.

epoll is optimized for efficiently handling large numbers of sockets, but here there is only one socket. There is no reason epoll should be faster at blocking socket I/O than blocking socket I/O; if it is, I blame the kernel.

(Incidentally, here on OS X where there is no epoll, all the solutions performed pretty terribly - a few seconds for 50000 iterations.)

apaprocki 1 day ago 2 replies      
Not everyone has this problem, but Go only works on a portion of platform configurations that are available in the real world.

C and Python, OTOH, are available pretty much anywhere. Redis builds on say, Solaris, with no problem because the project is written in C and it is trivial to add the needed calls. A KV store written in Go can't support Solaris because Go itself would need to support Solaris first.

Years of tooling centered around C (e.g., autoconf/automake) is what makes most C programs cross-platform out of the box with little or no OS-specific code if you are sticking to POSIX. Until the same ecosystem develops around any new language, authors realize that choice of language alone can immediately limit their cross-platform capabilities.

alexchamberlain 1 day ago 1 reply      
This comparison is rather unfair on C, where you have chosen to use a low level interface, against Go, where you have chosen to use a high level interface. It is irrelevant that these are the default interfaces - high level interfaces for sockets exist in C. You could even integrate into Nginx.
lucian1900 1 day ago 0 replies      
Comparing a non-blocking API to two blocking APIs. A more fair comparison would be using Twisted for Python and perhaps libev(ent) for C.

But it's a overly small test anyway.

codeape 1 day ago 1 reply      
I changed memg.py to use sockfile.write()/.flush() instead of socket.sendall().

This makes the memg.py server > x100 faster. It outperforms a gevent-based implementation by 10%.

See https://github.com/codeape2/Key-Value-Polyglot/commit/cbc53a...

EDIT: It does not outperform the gevent-based implementation. More performance testing indicates that gevent is around 2x faster. But it outperforms the original version by an order of magnitude.

nikcub 1 day ago 0 replies      
I just happen to start writing a redis clone in python a few weeks ago. I used the ioloop from Tornado to take advantage of epoll (you can also use gevent). Have yet to benchmark it, but I suspect it will bring you closer to the results you see in Go.
samwilliams 1 day ago 1 reply      

I was actually thinking about writing something very similar as an erlang C node just a couple of days a go. I noted that the overhead for storing a mnesia table of 5 million rows of 3 integers was huge - it would take up 1.6gb in memory! If you know the size of the struct, it should pretty easy to make a fast lookup system (assuming the keys are sequential) too.

I wonder if I could wrap this instead...

SamReidHughes 16 hours ago 0 replies      
It's pretty silly to stress-test a C or Go-written program using a client written in Python. It's very easy for the stress client to be the bottleneck in benchmarking memcached implementations. Even when the client is written in C.
halayli 1 day ago 0 replies      
Consider using lthread for your c version. You'll save time and gain performance. (http://github.com/halayli/lthread)
sdfjkl 1 day ago 0 replies      
Uhm, where are the numbers?
       cached 22 March 2012 15:11:01 GMT