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1
How Not To Sort By Average Rating evanmiller.org
725 points by llambda  5 days ago   153 comments top 36
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edw519 5 days ago  replies      
I love it and I hate it.

Why I love it: It's precise. It's elegant. It's rigorous. It's based upon solid, proven science & theory. It's a perfect application for a computer. And most of all, it does what's intended: it works.

Why I hate it: What human can understand it?

I used to implement the first manufacturing and distribution systems that used thinking like this. They figured, "We finally have the horsepower to apply complex logic to everyday problems." Things like safety stock, economic order quantities, reorder points, make/buy decisions, etc.

But the designers of these systems overlooked one critical issue: these systems included humans. And as soon as humans saw that decision making formulas were too complex to understand, they relieved themselves of responsibility for those decisions. "Why didn't we place an order?" "Because the computer decided not to and I have no idea why."

I suppose the optimal solution is somewhere in between: a formula sophisticated enough to solve 95% of the problem but simple enough for any human's reptile brain to "get it". This isn't it.

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a1k0n 5 days ago 2 replies      
There are a lot of comments complaining about how complicated the math is. This shouldn't be all that hard to understand.

The assumption is that there's some constant p underlying probability that a random person will rate a given thing positively. If we observe, for instance, 4 positive and 5 negative reviews or votes, there's a probability distribution (known as a Beta distribution) which tells us what the possible values of p are given the votes we observe: p^4 (1-p)^5. graph: https://www.google.com/search?q=x%5E4+(1-x)%5E5%20from%200%2...

Now if we observe 40 and 50, respectively, the curve looks like this:
https://www.google.com/search?q=exp(20+%2B+40+log(x)+%2B+50+...

(I had to do it in the log domain because Google's grapher underflows otherwise -- the 20 is just to make the numbers big enough to graph. The more correct thing involves gamma functions and that just gets in the way right now)

The more you observe, the more sharply peaked the likelihood function is. The funky equation in the article is an approximation to the confidence interval of that graph -- 95% of the probability mass is said to be within those bounds.

It's not a great approximation, for one because the graph is skewed (try it with 10/50) and it assumes that the mean is exactly in the middle of the confidence interval. The correct computation involves the inversion of a messy integral called the incomplete beta function. Scipy has a package which includes betaincinv which solves this more exactly:

>>> import scipy.special

>>> scipy.special.betaincinv(5,6, [0.025, 0.975])

array([ 0.18708603, 0.73762192])

would be the 95% confidence interval for 4 positive and 5 negative votes;

>>> scipy.special.betaincinv(41,51, [0.025, 0.975])

array([ 0.34599562, 0.54754792])

for 40 and 50, respectively.

[edit: apologies, I had to run and get ready for work -- I didn't really have time to make this very comprehensible; but i just now fixed a bug in my confidence interval stuff above]

3
NathanRice 5 days ago  replies      
While I agree with the spirit of the article, this is one of those cases where a Bayesian treatment is conceptually much clearer.

Assume that ratings are being generated by a stable stochastic process where the underlying distribution is multinomial (ignoring the ordinal character of ratings, for the time being) and use a dirichlet conjugate prior. This gives you a posterior distribution over new ratings for an item. The benefit of a posterior here is that it lets you rank items by thinking in terms of the probability that the viewer would rank one item higher than another at random. By adjusting the magnitude of the alpha parameter to the dirichlet prior, you adjust your sensitivity to small numbers of observations. A small initial alpha will lead to rapid changes in the posterior upon observing ratings, whereas a large alpha requires a significant body of evidence.

The best part of the multinomial model with conjugate dirichlet prior is that the math is REALLY simple. The normalizing constant for the dirichlet distribution looks scary when stated in terms of the gamma function, but given this is the discrete case, just pretend everywhere you see the gamma(x), it is replaced with (x - 1)! and you will be ok.

Let me know if you would like to learn more, I would be happy to help.

4
EvanMiller 5 days ago 5 replies      
Original author here. For the academically inclined, there is a critique of this approach in this paper:

http://www.dcs.bbk.ac.uk/~dell/publications/dellzhang_ictir2...

Of course, I think the authors miss the point of the algorithm, since I basically wanted a system that is one-sided (i.e. false negatives are OK but false positives are bad).

Also, if you deal with more than two outcomes you might be interested in multinomial confidence intervals, described here:

http://www.math.wsu.edu/faculty/genz/papers/mvnsing/node8.ht...

The application to 5-star systems is not straightforward, since it's not clear to me how stars relate to each other. Is it a linear scale? Are they discrete buckets? Or maybe we want to use Tukey's froots and flogs? I'm not sure.

By the way, I'm coming out with a stats app for Mac soon that implements this algorithm and much more. Drop me your email address if interested:

http://wizard.evanmiller.org/

5
jwr 5 days ago 2 replies      
I implemented this in a rating system once. Got multiple bug reports, people complained that the system calculates averages wrong, because there are two ratings and the average is obviously not the number they are seeing.
6
yariang 5 days ago 3 replies      
While it is good to look at these sorts of mathematically rigorous algorithms, I think I would be frustrated if it was used everywhere. Or, well, maybe not me perhaps, but a non technical user.

The beauty of the second algorithm for rating products is that it is straightforward. Having never seen it before I can deduce that 5 stars come before 4 stars and more reviews come before fewer. If I want to skip ahead to the 4 stars I know what to do. I can internalize the sorting algorithm easily. And as a user, understanding the order items are presented to me is important.

If Amazon were to use the last algorithm and present items in that order (assuming we accounted for the 5 star vs positive/negative issue), it would like a random order to most users and would be frustrating.

So I guess what I am saying is that this algorithm is very clever, but in some cases, it may be too clever. Sometimes you just want to keep it Simple Stupid.

7
ajross 5 days ago 1 reply      
It's well explained, informally. The giant equation sitting there without clearly defined parameters is mostly just showing off though. The final "QED" solution that you put at the end of a paper is not the proper form to introduce a concept.

But... so what? Amazon and Urban Dictionary are hardly failing in the market due to their "incorrect" score sorting. The whole problem is a heuristic, it's not amenable to rigorous treatment no matter how many giant equations you club your audience with.

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hadronzoo 5 days ago 0 replies      
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joshuahedlund 5 days ago 0 replies      
For those who do not understand the Wilson algorithm, see this post which was on HN recently, explaining how it works in a little more detail: http://amix.dk/blog/post/19588

(I agree with other commenters that it is complicated and lacks common sense to average users, but I feel like I have a general understanding of the concept thanks to the above link)

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peq 5 days ago 0 replies      
I always assume that initially there are q voters who gave the average rating. This yields the following formula:

(pn) / (n+q)

This is simpler and gives similar results:

http://www.wolframalpha.com/input/?i=plot+%28p+%2B+z^2%2F2n+...

http://www.wolframalpha.com/input/?i=plot+%280.8+*+n%29+%2F+...

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dredmorbius 4 days ago 0 replies      
I've put some thought into metrics as well. A few other alternatives suggest themselves:

- Considering the standard deviation of ratings. On a 5 point scale, an item that rates 3 because ratings are split between 1 and 5 votes, differs from one that gets mostly 3 votes. The latter is a middlin' fit for anyone, the former has an enthusiastic but niche audience. If you're looking at sales, the former can be a valuable product if properly marketed.

- An item that gathers few votes regardless of favorability ratings can exhibit multiple problems. One is that it isn't well marketed / publicised, or known. Another (particularly on content sites) is that there's very likely a sampling bias (mutual admiration society / negging attack / vote stuffing). I've tended to favor systems which take into account the total volume of voting, generally on a ln(n) basis, though not out of any particular statistical rigor. As an implementation, you'd start with a 5 point Likert score, then multiply by, say, ln(n+1) (avoiding a zero multiplier on a single vote).

- The pattern of ratings over time and space (IP or geographical) may reveal both opportunities for marketing and/or issues with your ratings system. Since any effective quality proxy will be abused, you've got to be sensitive to the latter.

The Wilson score is an improvement over multiple other methods. It still does assume a relatively unbiased estimator and rating behavior. My feeling and experience is that excess reliance on any one metric is likely to cause problems -- reality is multidimensional, metrics for assessing reality should be as well.

There's also the question of whether or not you want to make specific recommendations for an individual, or general recommendations for a population. In the former case, correlating other rankings or behavior may give a better fit (and the Wilson score may still be useful).

Though for a suitably specific goal (marketing, suitability, revenue potential) a single encompassing metric may work.

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aw3c2 5 days ago 6 replies      
Every time I see that page, I see the equation, I read statistical terms and I get overwhelmed. I use PHP so I have no pnormaldist. Would love to use it for some random page I run.
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moe 5 days ago 0 replies      
So, anyone have the formula for 5-star ratings?
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mumrah 5 days ago 0 replies      
There was an article about this a few years back: http://blog.linkibol.com/2010/05/07/how-to-build-a-popularit...

I've found, in practice, a Bayesian weighted average is easy to implement and pretty effective. It's also a good candidate for "stream" processing (i.e., calculating in a single pass)

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excuse-me 5 days ago 2 replies      
That's why a friend of mine joined the army engineers.

As a civil engineer working for a local city he might be involved in a 10year process of approvals to add a freeway on ramp. Where most of his job would be checking that an army of subcontractors were all doing things to code - not that they were doing things well, just to the written requirements

In Afghanistan if they want a road or a barrier he basically finds somebody lower rank points at a bulldozer and tells them to do it.

An interesting point he made was building a simple village clinic with a clean water supply that would save lives for a few days work and a few $1000. At home he would be involved in a multi $100M, 20year project for a new hospital where most of the money would go into pretty decoration and parking structures and would probably end up costing lives compared to the existing old hospital that was working perfectly well.

16
ComputerGuru 5 days ago 1 reply      
What I don't get is how in 2012 sites like Amazon are still making this mistake. Amazon is a company that, much like Google, spends millions analyzing user behavior and trying to optimize the workflow (checkout, in their case).

This has been the number one complaint I have against Amazon for the past 10 years. And they haven't done a think about it?

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ColinWright 5 days ago 0 replies      
Discussions from earlier submissions are also interesting:

http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=1218951 <- 31 comments

http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=478632 <- 56 comments

Further, I hope JoshTriplett (http://news.ycombinator.com/user?id=JoshTriplett) isn't too disappointed that when he submitted this exact same item 2 days ago it got one upvote and no discussion. In submitting to HN, as with comedy, timing is everything.
http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=3784912

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PakG1 5 days ago 0 replies      
This is awesome. This is perfect for what we need for our startup. We are going to use this. We won't need to worry about the negative aspects listed in these comments due to our use case. Wow. Thanks, HN. :)
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omarqureshi 5 days ago 0 replies      
The one example that I've found of a good site that does really good average ratings is steepster, it picks teas that you have previously rated and indicates the rating you gave to them. This way the users rating is much better and will give you a much more meaningful mean.
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padobson 5 days ago 0 replies      
It seems to me there's still a problem at the point of data collection. Not all +1's are equal.

This algorithm needs to be paired with another algorithm that weights each plus one according to each user's ability to plus one something that gets a lot of plus ones.

I couldn't hope to do the math for something like that, but I'd sure like to talk to someone that could.

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derwiki 5 days ago 0 replies      
My favorite part was looking at the code and seeing a variable named `phat', and then looking up at the equation to find `p^' (p-hat).
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uggedal 5 days ago 0 replies      
I implemented this algorithm by using likes/views in stead of positive/negative votes on http://mediaqueri.es/popular/ and have been quite happy with the results.
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jarin 5 days ago 0 replies      
Haha, I don't know why, but I laughed when I got to the 3rd formula. It was like the punchline to a joke.
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sold 5 days ago 1 reply      
Urban Dictionary no longer sorts by positive - negative, see e.g. http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=usa. I don't know what they use now.
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jader201 5 days ago 0 replies      
I've always thought about this, and to me, a very simple (though slightly inaccurate) solution would be to sort using this formula:

(TotalScore - 1) / MaxPossibleScore

Such that (using the Amazon examples from the article):

((2 * 5) - 1) / 10 = 9/10 = 90%

((100 * 5) + (1 * 1) - 1) / 505 = 500/505 = 99%

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its_so_on 5 days ago 0 replies      
Date: 9:12 AM Wednesday, April 4, 2012

From: the boss

To: dev3

Subject: URGENT - front page showcase selection broken!!

Body:
Hey bro,
I was looking into it, and our ratings average equation is totally busted and products with just a few ratings are hogging space from proven winners when it's just a sample bias. This is costing us money and needs to be fixed NOW.

I'd like this up before our morning meeting so I can boast about it and you'll get credit too, as this should massively increase our conversions right away by putting BETTER products right on the front page.

this should get you started:
http://evanmiller.org/rating-equation.png

I'm sure you'll figure it out. If you could do an A/B test for bragging rights too that would MASSIVELY rock. Thanks!!!

Rock on,

Boss

28
jakejake 5 days ago 0 replies      
we use this algorithm for our office ping pong game tracking system. it's great because the person who just plays one game and wins doesn't get bragging rights.
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gtsc 5 days ago 0 replies      
Here's an even simpler way to think about it: it's the left point of the standard 95% confidence interval from the Central Limit Theorem plus a hack for small sample sizes. The Wikipedia page says the hack is almost equivalent to estimating p = (X+2)/(n+4) i.e. assuming each item starts with two upvotes and two downvotes.
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dsears 4 days ago 0 replies      
When I have the whole body of reviews readily available, I like to just do a Bayesian average. Mix in the average number of reviews at the average review score to keep small data sets from skewing results.
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moofins 2 days ago 0 replies      
You had me at "Lower bound of Wilson score confidence interval for a Bernoulli parameter"
32
PenZenMaster 5 days ago 0 replies      
But shouldn't the solution (formula) be "simply elegant"?
eBay seems to be on to something with:
positive/positive + negative rating system. The user knows how many data point are in the pool which over comes the one positive rating gets five stars.
Much in the same way http://demanddriventech.com/home/solutions/replenishment/ has come up with a "simply elegant" formula for supply chains that is human understandable and effectively solves the problem.
33
nickm12 4 days ago 1 reply      
Lots of people seem to be missing the fact that Amazon changed their algorithm years ago to account for the number of review. For example see:

http://www.amazon.com/Stand-Mixers-Small-Appliances-Kitchen/...

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jwblackwell 5 days ago 1 reply      
This must be the third time this has been posted.
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ashishb4u 5 days ago 1 reply      
how bout ((positive-negative)/total)
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epo 5 days ago 0 replies      
The problem with star ratings is that they have nothing to do with measuring approval. They are a form of social inclusion mechanism to give the rubes the erroneous sense that someone cares about their opinions. It is done to attract users, not to guide them.
2
Don't Be Evil: How Google Screwed a Startup hatchlings.com
689 points by mikeknoop  3 days ago   243 comments top 42
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pg 3 days ago  replies      
When things are this broken, it's an opportunity. Maybe it's time for someone to start an AdSense competitor whose focus is customer service. It seems to be deeply embedded in Google's DNA not so much to abuse AdSense users as to treat them like components in a machine. They treat AdSense users much as they do servers. Uncertain about a server? Toss it; the system is designed to be fault tolerant.

Maybe Google thinks they have to behave this way to scale. But my gut tells me they could get away with being a lot nicer and still scale. If so there is an opportunity for a competitor to move in here and surprise people with better customer service, as Zappos did in shoes.

It could help to have better fraud detection technology. The more accurately you can tell the innocent from the guilty, the less draconian you need to be with the innocent. And while it sounds unlike Google to have left room to do significantly better, the way they treat the innocent implies their technology may be insufficient.

2
ambiate 3 days ago 6 replies      
I lost my Adsense account two years ago, due to valid violations. This saddened me, and was the end of web development for me. The stats were my heroine.

Fast forward to Spring break of this year, I developed a few Android apps and one took off. I signed up for AdMob in early March.

I kept clean and got my fill of daily stats and was once again happy with my new home on the internet.

Fast forward a week and a half, I get an alert saying Admob accounts will be merged with Adsense, uh oh. I was generating decent income at this point, because let's face it, the Android market is just wide open.

I decided to make my second appeal to Adsense, 2 years later, asking for another chance and explaining my understanding of the previous violations. I noted my clean record on Admob and my apps as my reason for appealing.

6 hours later, my AdMob account is banned without any kind of notification. My wife looks over at me and wonders why I'm so sad at the laptop after 10 hours of class. It had become my daily habit to kiss my wife and check the AdMob stats. It's not actually about making money, it is something about watching the growth/lotto.

So, I have now given up on Android apps and just disabled all but the most popular one. I removed ads and cleaned up my last push.

I wish there was some type of leniency. My wife offered to make an account in her name and just take over my Android apps, but the initial thrill is gone. There is a looming realization of Google controlling the majority of online advertising and that one mistake will probably haunt me for many years/services to come.

3
robomartin 3 days ago 5 replies      
I hate to suggest this. I repeat, I really hate to suggest this:

It is time for those affected to unite behind a push to initiate Congressional action against Google (and possibly others) for these practice. They are highly destructive and unfair. These companies ARE huge monopolies. They just can't be allowed to behave this way.

I am the first one to raise my voice against more government incursions into our daily lives. However, there are cases where very few options remain on the table.

Unless Google, eBay, Paypal and others who are committing these kinds of acts on a daily basis change their tune in a hurry I think that a collision with government action is unavoidable.

A united front with government backing is probably the only viable option.

4
mistercow 3 days ago 6 replies      
This is actually an incredibly common practice of Google's, although in most cases they only make off with a few hundred dollars of ad revenue. I personally had it happen to me with a blog. They accused me a of "click fraud", disabled my account, and disappeared with the money they owed me. I did some research and found the same story repeated dozens of times. This has been going on for years.

Basically, Google's policies mean that if you don't like a website which uses AdSense for revenue, you can screw over the owner by sitting at their site and repeatedly clicking their ads. Google will see the "fraud", assume it was the site owner doing it, and shut down their account with little to no opportunity for appeal.

5
kposehn 3 days ago 2 replies      
Unfortunately, this is a reality of using AdSense.

I have never encountered anyone at Google that is malicious and/or gleeful about this happening. The lack of response comes down to the fact that Google would rather make sure they get all bad actors and throw out some good than be more lenient and let some bad actors stay.

There are tens of thousands of AdSense spammers that try to take advantage of the system. 30-40% of impressions on Google Content Network ads (which run on AdSense) are complete junk. These impressions are via sites that take advantage of how easy it is to get in to make a quick buck before Google catches them.

The ecosystem perpetuates itself because Google's priority is to maximize overall reach in the market: the more people using AdSense, the more impressions they get and the more people cookie'd for behavioral data. There is little concern with banning people unjustifiably as they have a different priority.

Hatchlings did the right thing by diversifying and if you rely on AdSense, then you should to. Make sure you work with several networks (many pay better anyway) and look for other sources of revenue. This is what separates the sad stories from successes.

6
adsenseclient 3 days ago 5 replies      
Posting from a throwaway handle, so that there is no way that Google would track me down.

Our company uses AdSense, and we have not been disabled so far. Our monthly revenues are much larger than Hatchling's. We have user-generated content. Despite our MOST extensive, multi-tier keyword-based content screening system, we are terrorized by Google weekly, from noreply address, that AdSense ads are disabled on this or that user's page, due to various violations found (often in the content in obscure languages, e.g. Hungarian , Finnish, Turkish), threatening to shut down the whole account. We are aware that the account can be shut down at any moment, and have been diversifying our ad revenue component for the last couple of years, using CasaleMedia, TribalFusion, Adbrite, taking conscious cuts in ad revenue compared to AdSense in exchange for security. Those companies actually care about your revenue.

DO NOT RELY on ADSENSE as a sole revenue provider for your startup! Do not!
AdSense is only a good idea either if your revenue is negligible, or if you are a highly public high profile client like MySpace, where they KNOW that they cannot get away without serious negative PR.

7
mikecane 3 days ago 4 replies      
Is it my imagination or have I seen many "Google Screwed Us" posts and never one "Google Made It All Right" posts? It seems to me to be the opposite of Amazon, where I've seen many glowing posts about CS and very few posts about things going incredibly bad.

Edit: Amazon is also relevant due to their Android app store and soon in-app purchasing. I expect them to start an ad network for apps too.

8
Steko 3 days ago 0 replies      
"I realize that this probably wasn't done maliciously and that we were probably caught up in some algorithm gone awry"

I realize the diplomatic and empathic intent here but to me the whole episode is really damning if this is how they handle customers. Depriving people of payment for services rendered goes several steps beyond plain old shitty customer service.

9
zupreme 3 days ago 3 replies      
This is a textbook example of why it's never smart to hinge one's profitability upon the whims of another company.

I've been down these paths with Adsense, EPN, and others and I learned the hard way that affiliate programs and ad revenue can be booming one day and gone the next.

Now I only build PaaS and SaaS sites (not counting freelancing work on the side) and I'm a lot happier with a much more stable income from my web apps that is not dependent on the whims of anybody.

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lancewiggs 3 days ago 1 reply      
This is too large for a small claims court, and too small to retain lawyers and suit Google.

But the USA has another, well worn, route - class action lawsuits.

This seems ripe for class action, where the class is everyone who has been locked out of AdWords without reasonable explanation, or reasonable reason.

What is required is a lawyer/firm to assess the amount at stake and winnability, for them to get a representative case (this one is good) and to recruit thousands or tens of thousands of members of the class. The lawyers get a huge percentage of any damages, but the class members get rewarded too, and the main issue is the Google will take notice and change their behaviour.

In other countries we can use legislation to change the way Google operates. Check the jurisdiction of your contract with them - and use the appropriate system.

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knodi 3 days ago 2 replies      
The issue with google ads is that it only takes one bad vistor to get your ad sense account disabled.

Go ahead find a site with google ads start clicking the google ad over and over again until your IP is flagged (ads won't be displayed based on your IP). With in 30 days the sites ad-sense account will be disabled.

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jayp 3 days ago 0 replies      
Great timing on the article. Easter is here... good way to acquire new customers in the "festive" mood.

As the cliché goes: "When life gives you lemons, make lemonade."

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JoachimSchipper 3 days ago 6 replies      
[Edited at ~15min, original comment below] This "personal site" was http://guitarhero-4.com, which was a thin affiliate site using a brand name without permission (ref: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=3803696, http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=3803746).

I think we've found the problem...

[EDIT: original comment was: Looking at http://web.archive.org/web/20110203092609/http://guitarhero-... via http://i.imgur.com/wWyNd.png), it appears that this "personal site" was a seedy affiliate site using a brand name without permission.

I think we've found the problem...]

14
misterjangles 3 days ago 3 replies      
It's frightening that this would happen to a company that actually has a relationship with google in as much as having an account rep. Those of us nobodys who are just running generic ads with no personal contact would have no recourse at all.

I will say though, in every one of these cases there is always a little something odd. You never read about this happening without some small thing that was wonky about the setup. In this case there's a mention of the personal site without any details of what that is. I'd be curious to know what that was.

Even still, it sounds like a gross over-reaction.

15
pgrote 3 days ago 1 reply      
What else could Hatchlings have done to prevent this? I know people are saying, "don't rely on someone else for your profitibility", but if you are going to work with Google what other steps can you take?

He seems to have done all the right things:

1) Found an account manager.
2) Formed relationships with public google folks.
3) Opened discussions to further integration through continued sales.

16
user24 3 days ago 0 replies      
When Google inevitably smooth this over to avoid the bad PR, just spare a thought for the hundreds of smaller sites who don't have the option to generate that kind of press (Google screwed me out of $50 on my blog about kittens doesn't have the same ring to it
17
alan_cx 3 days ago 0 replies      
To me this highlights a much wider issue. Basically, you fall fowl of some web-admin and that's you banned for life with absolutely no come back what so ever. And the sad fact is that too often it boils down to a bruised ego, and then colleagues backing up their friend.

I do not know what to do about it, except for an internet arbitration organisation to exist that can negotiated between a user and a web site. Problem is, it would need to be voluntary and as we all know, these sites have so many users they couldn't care less about the odd user.

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TomSiegel 3 days ago 3 replies      
My name is Tom Siegel and I work on publisher and ad traffic quality at Google. Our objective us to keep fraud out of the network while ensuring a fair process with as much transparency as we can justify. We'll take a look at the cases mentioned on this thread. If anyone has additional questions or comments you can email me at tsiegel@google.com. We appreciate the feedback.
19
csomar 3 days ago 0 replies      
I have a similar experience, and this is why I left the Google Services thing. I signed up for Adsense 6 years ago. I worked with it for 3 years and I was making $150/month with it. Then I decided to change the payee name (was using my sisters'). I closed that account and signed up for another one. A month later, I made around $147 and got my account suspended.

The reason: A risk to advertisers. I tried to contact Google but I received the same email the author did. I didn't care much, after all, it's $140. Why would Google care?

But $40K? That's quite serious.

20
grecy 3 days ago 2 replies      
You may want to read "Why I sued Google and won" [1]. The guy has a similar story to yours, sued Google for the revenue already earned, and won all of it (it was only ~$700).

For $40k, I'd sure look into it.

[1] http://www.huffingtonpost.com/aaron-greenspan/why-i-sued-goo...

21
newman314 3 days ago 1 reply      
My personal experience with Google is that they have almost a pathological obsession with making it as hard as possible for you to get in touch with them.

They operate off the notion that pretty much everything is self-service and there are no requirements for human support. When Google Enterprise first started, their only offerings were M-F, don't call us, we'll call you support. It certainly clashed quite a bit with the traditional expectation of enterprise customers.

22
Foy 3 days ago 0 replies      
That's the main problem with automating as much as possible, and having as few customer service reps as possible. It feels like talking to a brick wall when something non-standard happens.

If this issue gets resolved in light of the publicity it's now getting, it just further shows that the Google system is deeply flawed for it's users.

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EGreg 3 days ago 1 reply      
Why would google sooner disable a site showing ads and remove all revenue streams, than simply stop showing ads to "repeated" violators (based on IP, or whatever else they use to detect clickfraud) on that site, and only refund money made by THAT SECTOR the clicks came from?
24
waqf 3 days ago 0 replies      
It's sad that the only way to get customer support from Google is to get to #1 on HN.

It's almost worst than no support at all (because less equitable).

25
orijing 2 days ago 1 reply      
I have a question about what happens when an account gets disabled/suspended while there's a positive balance. Does Google keep that surplus, or return it to advertisers? If the former, that's truly evil, so let's say the latter.

If they return to advertisers, would they suddenly see a drop in their budget spent, and number of clicks produced? For example, say I have an AdWords account and yesterday I owe Google $100 for 100 clicks, and today someone who had a balance from my ads got suspended, and they generated 2 clicks at $1 each. Does my bill go down to $98, and clicks to 98? If so, that's pretty weird.

Does anyone who has an AdWords account know?

26
officialchicken 3 days ago 1 reply      
Thank you for sharing, and preventing me from potentially falling into this trap.

I was considering doing an ad based project until I read this.

27
GigabyteCoin 3 days ago 0 replies      
I was banned from adsense about 6 years ago... using my main personal email account.

I tried to log back in a few times over the years, and after about 4 or 5 years I was told that they no longer had any record of my account.

I signed up again (using the same email and personal information) without a hitch. I have been receiving checks for many months now.

28
web_chops 3 days ago 0 replies      
Wow, this makes Paypal look like angels. I suppose we are just starting see the effects of ad monopoly. Once a few more alternatives are taken away, there will be no where to hide.
29
crag 3 days ago 0 replies      
The main problem here is that Google has god awful customers service. Even for their paying customer on Google Apps. Just terrible.
30
Havoc 2 days ago 0 replies      
The number of comments mentioning similar events are frightening. I always thought these were isolated incidents, flukes if you like. Apparently not.
31
sampsonjs 2 days ago 0 replies      
If they're screwing people over, sounds like it's time for a lawsuit, not yearning for a startup white knight to ride to the rescue.
32
powertower 3 days ago 0 replies      
33
tszming 2 days ago 0 replies      
I guess he will get his account back because someone at Google is looking at this now, but this also proved that their appeal system is broken for the vast majority.
34
conradfr 3 days ago 0 replies      
It happened to me for a blog where adsense was removed for years.

I moved my adwords campain for other business sites since then and advocate it when I can.

35
cinquemb 3 days ago 0 replies      
I spread the word, sorry for your problems, but they will help other people and me (and you too once you swallow your pride).

Keep working at it, you got something. The fact that they are even willing to screw you tells you so.

36
xxiao 2 days ago 0 replies      
when i hear "don't be evil", i immediately thought whoever said this must have something that _is_ evil, as for a typical good behaved company, it does not need say this loudly to itself or somebody else, in fact, this kind of slogan will not even come to its mind at all.
37
adharmad 3 days ago 1 reply      
There should be a sub-clause to "Don't Be Evil": "Don't Be Indifferent".
38
Matt_Mickiewicz 3 days ago 1 reply      
Conspiracy Theory: Isn't this a great way to boost earnings before the end of a quarter? "Hey, we have a $50 million shortfall, let's close down some AdSense accounts and take their money".

It's one thing to suspend an account and say "as of tomorrow, we dont want to do business with you and won't pay you for clicks going forward" - they don't have to provide a reason, they are a private company and can do whatever they want.

However, when you're seizing money, whether its hundreds of dollars or tens of thousands, there needs to be proof and an appeal process. Algorithmically closing down accounts and seizing cash just doesn't work. Plus, it seems like it'd be all to easy to get a competitors account shut down by running a bot and generating fake clicks on their site...

39
disordinary 2 days ago 0 replies      
Happened to me, it sucks - luckily it was on a small site and not one that I was relying on for income. Good lesson not to rely on third party advertisements in the future.
40
sojacques 3 days ago 0 replies      
I would like to make sure that people here understand one thing. The hatchlings guys are doing it wrong.

Who's to blame in this story? The guys who based their business on something they had absolutely no control on, or the company using algorithms to protect its customers (the advertisers)? I am absolutely not defending Google here, but honestly, this has been said a thousand times, ffs, do not base your business on AdSense.

Better, the more people stop using AdSense, the easier it is gonna be for a competitor (your next startup?) to come, and the more chance we have to see a change coming from Google.

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mcbaby 3 days ago 1 reply      
DuckDuckGo
42
Tomis 3 days ago 1 reply      
On an unrelated note:

> Sorry, due to a security vulnerability this browser is not supported. You might like Google Chrome.

I actually hate Google Chrome, it's Internet Explorer 6 with a service pack.
You don't support Opera? Seriously? For a long time Opera has been the most secure browser on the market, I don't know it's status in the last year. What security hole?

3
The Beer Game -or- Why Apple Can't Build iPads in the US marksweep.com
548 points by mkswp  3 days ago   245 comments top 41
1
kevinalexbrown 3 days ago 5 replies      
From a practical perspective, it seems to me that the Beer Game rests in three parts: in imperfect information, time delays, and most importantly, independence of agents. If each member of the supply chain knew consumer demand perfectly far enough in the future, they could compensate. Likewise, if each member of the supply chain could instantly scale their process, they could compensate. The key, though, is that even if you perfectly forecast, or can instantaneously process and ship your stock, everyone down the line from you must do so as well.

From what I gather, having the supply chain in China or Brazil addresses the second two problems. The advantage of China isn't just cheap labor, it's cheap, readily available labor. A change in demand (like switching the screens on the iPhone) can be met relatively easily, which partially solves the time delay problem. And the more of the supply chain you hold in one geographic location makes shipping time faster. The independence of agents issue gets addressed when Apple can coordinate the actions of each member of the supply chain better. I imagine this is, for the moment, easier in China than the US.

Where I part ways with the article is the bail-out. The US labor pool doesn't seem elastic enough to address the time-delay part of the bullwhip effect. If Foxconn suddenly had a temporary drop in demand and had to lay off thousands of laborers, it would not be a huge issue. If they need to hire them again, zip, pretty quick. Likewise if they need to request huge overtime commitments because they can't train new workers fast enough, no problem. US workers are particularly averse to uncertain job prospects, perhaps with good reason, but with the effect that scaling work (and wages) up and down is less tenable. And perhaps this is where the unions come in - the overtime payments from forcing workers to work more hours to meet demand is much more costly in a union than a non-union environment, for better or worse.

Edit: I've just now recalled that one summer, I worked for a large bread factory. They loved hiring college students in the summer because they knew that they didn't really care about staying in the union. Summer demand for baked goods skyrockets. A plant manager showed me how they were lagging behind demand by something like 2 million dollars / week (I've forgotten the exact number, but it was staggering to me). In his words "you can imagine what that does for business." But they couldn't just start hiring more workers, or scaling up the plant, because then they'd have more workers than the knew what to do with once the winter hit, when people were working 20-30 hrs/week. And this is one case where almost the entire supply process was in the US, minus wheat they might have gotten elsewhere.

2
jonknee 3 days ago 3 replies      
> Because of the bullwhip effect illustrated by the game, Apple needs to have factories in China because the supply chain is there. We learned in the Beer Game that minute changes have massive ripple effects along the supply chain.

> The U.S. has lost that industrial base and it's extremely difficult to get it back. It's not about unions, jobs Americans don't want - it's about delay.

Considering that Foxconn is starting to make iPads in Brazil, this article is way oversimplifying things. It's mostly about labor costs and environmental aspects. The iPad is assembled in China, but most of its components are from elsewhere. The CPU is from Texas, a lot of the other chips are from Korea, etc. It could be assembled in the US without supply troubles.

http://www.macrumors.com/2012/04/05/apple-gains-certificatio...

3
tlb 3 days ago  replies      
Having gone through the painful exercise of building robots in the US, I appreciate the problem. Our end-end supply chain latency was 16 weeks, far too long to scale effectively to match demand. Many component changes we wanted to make would have created a 6-week delay, so we had to compromise. A place with a factory across the street that could make screws in 3 hours sounds like heaven.
4
jdietrich 3 days ago 3 replies      
I hear a lot of people saying that America needs more manufacturing jobs, but I can't recall ever hearing anyone say that they want to spend the rest of their life doing repetitive assembly operations on a production line.

We use Chinese workers because they're cheaper than robots. These are awful, tedious, soul-destroying jobs, but they're just marginally better than backbreaking agricultural labour. Nobody deserves to do those jobs and soon nobody will have to, because we will have automated them out of existence. That's unequivocally a good thing.

5
ap22213 3 days ago 4 replies      
The reason why iPads are built in China is because of a thing called Comparative Advantage [1].

Even though the US could reasonably produce iPads _more_ efficiently than China, it doesn't. The reason is that the US is even more efficient at supplying higher-cost services (software, finance, etc.) than China that it would be at producing iPads. Therefore, the US is better off training more of its workforce for higher-cost services than to train them to be laborers.

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

6
raganwald 3 days ago 4 replies      
People often draw analogies between software development and manufacturing. If you're going to do that, it's vital to take the “supply chain” of information into account. The inefficiencies inherent in creating a supply chain consisting of a developer, a tech lead, a product manager, an operations manager, and finally a user resemble the supply chain in the drinking game. Orders go one way, features go the other way.
7
diogenescynic 3 days ago  replies      
Apple could afford to reopen the plants they had in Fremont, they just might not be able to produce 100% of their products there. From the NY Times article he refers to: paying American wages would add up to $65 to each iPhone's expense.

Fender does this--they offer you the choice of a Chinese, Mexican, Japanese, or American made guitar and just price accordingly. I would pay more for an iPhone that I knew was made in America. I'm sure I'm not the only one. Other examples: Whole Foods, Trader Joe's, Annie's Homegrown (BNNY).

8
dgabriel 3 days ago 3 replies      
I think they teach this game at most business schools, and it seems to be a popular and eye-opening experience. If you hit wikipedia, there are a number of links to online versions you can play (some for free, some not).

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

9
ktizo 3 days ago 0 replies      
In the UK, you pay much higher taxes for importing components than you do for importing final product, so manufacturing anything in the UK that requires parts from overseas is economically pointless, even if you wanted to (such as in the case of the raspberry pi).

I have always been suspicious of the concept of post-industrial economies as I have always thought that they relied on a colonial logic of intellectual superiority which doesn't really exist.

The plan seemed to be that the western world is good at organising and designing stuff, and those people over there are much cheaper for doing the actual work of building this stuff for us, especially since our local labour market started getting ideas about rights and profit share and stuff.

However, the organising and designing of stuff turned out not to be quite as difficult as we had so arrogantly assumed, so all we do is get rid of out ability to make stuff by having an entire generation used to someone else doing it for them, while eventually all the white collar jobs go overseas as well.

Personally, I think that if you try being a post-industrial economy for long enough, you will end up being something much more like a pre-industrial one, but with a few rich people left, all flying around on those nifty new Chinese jetpacks.

10
chrisrhoden 3 days ago 1 reply      
In case anyone's curious why beer was used as the product in the game, it's likely because US law requires that alcohol be distributed in (almost) this way:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Three-tier_(alcohol_distributio...

11
roc 3 days ago 1 reply      
See also: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Business_cluster

It's worth noting that one needn't offset all the advantages of a cluster for production outside of it to make sense: There is no shortage of US auto manufacturing plants that are not in Detroit nor in places with anything remotely like its cluster advantage.

But for rapidly-changing products, the advantages of a cluster are compounded. If you're not changing screens and screws and implementing brand new technologies on an annual basis, being able to get a custom part ASAP is less of an advantage. But if you are changing things every single year ...

I wouldn't be surprised to see US manufacturing return. Particularly as energy (shipping) prices continue to increase, China's wage advantage dissipates and automation matures. But it's going to start with fairly mature, static and/or commodified products.

12
gnaffle 3 days ago 0 replies      
If they can build iPhones in Brazil, why can't they build iPads in the US?

That it's not cost effective to do so now doesn't mean that this will always be the case. The US has high import taxes on lots of stuff, if they raised them on electronics we would have US made iPads in a flash (not that I'm saying this is the right approach).

I think Apple's "tell us all the details about your cost structure and we'll talk business" approach to their suppliers combined with their enormous cash reserve and history of pre-paying for parts (and even factories) should enable them to make their devices pretty much anywhere.

13
robomartin 3 days ago 0 replies      
It's about the need for "low impedance" or "low inertia" systems.

"Low inertia" means that the affected area can support a higher rate of change than a "high inertia" system.

This affects all facets of business, from the supply chain to labor.

I have to disagree with the protection of highly unionized systems. They are bad, bad, bad for the economy and for the survival of the affected industry. Not only do unions burden business with unreasonable rules and wages, they also create a very high inertia labor force. Making any change falls on a range from impossible to very difficult. In sharp contrast to this, a low inertial non-union labor force is far more flexible.

Let's face it, workers in the US have grown comfortable with their reality and don't want to change. I'm sure this is what it looked like when buggy whips and horse-drawn carriages started to loose market share. A low inertia system would allow the entire enterprise to pivot quickly, make adjustments and try to evolve into whatever might be the new wining paradigm. Not so when you have a highly regulated, highly taxed and unionized framework to contend with.

14
JVIDEL 3 days ago 0 replies      
Considering less than 1% of the price of an iPhone or iPad "stays" in China as the cost of assembly, moving all production back to the US for that 1% seems ridiculous.

In any case you guys should concentrate in the 30% (or so) of the price that goes into parts and components, almost all made by Korean and Taiwanese companies.

Besides most of those components are already made using highly-automated processes because humans lack the precision needed to manufacture at such small scales.

Not saying it would be easy, just that it isn't impossible, and 30% is a much better deal than 1%.

15
developer9 2 days ago 0 replies      
Great article until "Obama was right in bailing out the auto industry when GM and Chrysler were going bankrupt. Because it wasn't just GM and Chrysler that were going to fail, it was an entire ripple-effect of suppliers, tool manufacturers, raw material suppliers, trucking companies and dealers that were going to go away."

That's not the full reason that they did it though. It's because they were making vehicles for our military. If our country started relying solely on foreign countries for our military, they could disable our ability to replenish or grow our ground fleets.

But, even that is not far enough down the rabbit hole. There are enough non-government owned vehicles in the U.S. to more than make up for the lack of vehicles they would have lost, even if every other country simultaneously decided that we were the enemy, our military could use the country's existing resources (assuming we were ok with that).

And moreover, we are already reliant on other countries for our military and the running of our country. The only "advantage" of a government that pumps everyone's tax money into a select number of private companies, directly or indirectly, is that "survival of the fittest" is damaged. The "disaster" is delayed- the inevitable damage grows greater. It is the economical equivalent of forestry agencies that protected forests from forest fires, when forests naturally managed themselves via fires started by lightning strikes, such that large fires would inevitably start and be uncontrollable. Large bailouts can cause incredibly bad things to happen.

So, the question is, why did they do it? Band-aids and politics. It was not long-term thinking. And that is the story of our government. For the most part, no one is willing to make the political sacrifice for long-term gain. What we need now is for someone to help make government stable and predictable again, and to reduce the amount of red-tape it takes for U.S.-based businesses to succeed. But, it is going to take a disaster for that to happen- a disaster that will be much worse because of bailouts and other shenanigans. But, as for now, we will live in the growing forests our forest rangers protect for us.

16
hkmurakami 3 days ago 1 reply      
There's another, perhaps overlooked, place that does exactly what the author proclaims as China's manufacturing advantage (proximity, flexibility, etc). And it shouldn't be surprising: It's Toyota's auto manufacturing empire in Aichi Prefecture, Japan.

Aichi is only 2000 square miles in area[1], and Toyota's supply chain is concentrated on its Eastern half. It takes less than 1 hour by car (or more relevantly, by truck) to travel between all of the major players in the supply chain (Aisin, Toyota Industries, Denso, etc). Of course, all of Japan's manufacturing is in Jeopardy with increased manufacturing costs and the strong yen (which are analogous to what HN posters here have discussed as distinct Chinese advantages over US manufacturing).

Another place that I suspect has a similar centralized, flexible manufacturing ecosystem: Germany's auto industry (with the granddaddy of all industrial suppliers, Bosch, situated right in the middle of it all).

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

17
nextparadigms 3 days ago 0 replies      
Maybe politicians will finally understand that "manufacturing jobs" are not coming back to US and stop wasting money by trying to get them back. "Manufacturing" itself could be back - if they start encouraging 99.9% robot manufacturing facilities, and manufacture stuff more efficiently than any Chinese company.

Yes, it won't bring "manufacturing jobs", but it will bring a lot of capital into the country, and will also spur new type of jobs and businesses in relation to that, or it would make it a lot easier for US entrepreneurs to mass-produce their products just from a prototype.

That's the sort of thing politicians should be encouraging - not try to bring back blue-collar jobs.

18
draggnar 3 days ago 3 replies      
Will 3d printing and manufacturing advances (Foxconn can hire 3,000 employees overnight, but robotics lower labor needs) make the supply chain effect less important, lowering the costs of moving manufacturing back to the US? Will they come back to be closer to retailers?
19
wtvanhest 3 days ago 1 reply      
That is an interesting theory but I would guess that the real reason is their devalued currency which allows apple to save a huge percentage on production.

Sure cheap labor helps, but is cheap partially due to the currency difference.

Despite anecdotal stories, The US still makes up 20% of world manufacturing and retains its spot as the global leader.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Economy_of_the_United_States

The colocation theory (the theory which the author is talking about) is a good thoery to explain silicon valley though.

If you want to run a tech company, you want it to be colacated near your supply chain (engineers), and other service providers. This is probably a big reason why Silicon Valley has remained dominant despite so many other cities trying.

20
clarkmoody 3 days ago 3 replies      
I love the article up until the lame political statement at the end.

GM / Chrysler bankruptcy != Business disappears and all suppliers go bankrupt. This is the straw-man argument of the left.

The American auto bailout was a purely political play to save the unions who supported the Democrats. With billions in hard assets and a huge intellectual property base, the auto companies would have made great investments to potential buyers. Does anyone actually believe that no one would even attempt to pick up the pieces of the auto industry, sans-unions, and try to come out ahead?

If you agree with the media/government spin, then you believe that the auto companies would have fired all employees, sold all of the manufacturing equipment and plants, and closed shop forever.

The reality is that the company could have used existing bankruptcy law to get rid of some of the union/pension overhead and return to profitability. This is exactly what American Airlines is doing right now. Only in the extreme case would they even need to sell the company.

21
tzs 3 days ago 0 replies      
We used to occasionally get to play games like that for actual money when I was an undergraduate. Every so often, grad students in economics would come around to the undergraduate houses at dinner time to announce that they were looking for volunteers for economic experiments that night.

The experiments would typically take place in the social sciences building, with each participant being put in a separate office (that was one of the reasons they were at night--so there would be offices they could borrow). We'd be given instructions on the game to be played, and the phone numbers of other offices if the game involved communication between the players, and the game would start.

Each player would start with a certain amount of game money, and when the game is over that would be converted to real money and the player kept it.

On average, if I recall correctly, players would make about $20-30 or so each in these games. That doesn't sound like a lot, but for a college student in the '80s that would be enough for several nice meals away from food service, or for 3 or 4 albums at the record store. You'd almost always get at least $10, and sometimes someone would make $75-100.

22
kenrikm 3 days ago 2 replies      
If you're interesting in learning more about this read the book "The Goal" it's presented as a novel and the main character is rather daft, however it has a lot of insight in it if you can look past that fact they everything is explained as if the main character is really slow.
23
krupan 3 days ago  replies      
I don't know, do all the unemployed people in a America right now want to work on assembly lines in factories? I know, just because I don't want to doesn't mean everyone else thinks that way, but it just doesn't seem like the correct long-term fix for unemployment. Factory work just doesn't seem like a viable long-term career.

I suppose it's the non-hourly-wage assembly-line jobs that come with manufacturing that are desirable, but how many of those jobs would be created by making the huge investment to build factories and supply chains here in the U.S.? A non-zero number, but is there a more efficient way of creating career-for-life support-a-family type jobs in the U.S.?

24
scott_s 3 days ago 0 replies      
This is a great explanation, but this statement is wrong: The U.S. has lost that industrial base and it's extremely difficult to get it back.

It's important to keep in mind that the US still makes a lot of stuff. In fact, we still make more than most: http://www.npr.org/blogs/money/2011/02/07/133561265/3-ways-o...

However, we're employing less people to do it, and those that we do employ require more education than before: http://www.npr.org/blogs/money/2012/01/13/145039131/the-tran...

25
_sentient 3 days ago 0 replies      
I think there's another aspect to this, which is the fact that Apple is not primarily concerned with the US market. 80% of Apple's most profitable product, the iPhone, are sold outside the USA.

Even if you could get cost parity in production, there's no real reason why Apple should move manufacturing back to the US, just because they started off as an American company.

26
OzzyB 3 days ago 0 replies      
Would it be fair to say that the reason Apple has their entire supply chain in China is because those "supply clusters" were already there because of the Japanese consumer tech companies that built them up in the 80's?

(I have no idea when or how exactly, but the "80's" seems to be around the time of the "Japanese Electronic Invasion")

In other words, for a "new" company like Apple, starting out with all their new iDevices, it simply made sense for them to go where the supply was?

It's kind of like Apple "piggybacked" and exploited all the gains made by the Sonys, Sharps & Casios of the world, and beat them at their own game.

I think if we move beyond the analogies of cars and other consumerables, and focus on what Apple is really doing, which is essentially Consumer Tech, then it simply makes sense for them to be where the guy that makes those fancy LCD screens is at?

27
zipdog 3 days ago 0 replies      
The beer game is also mentioned in Peter Senge's The Fifth Disciple, where he suggests it originated from MIT in the 1960s. I think he had one less link in the chain (3 players not 4) but still the effect was the same.

btw, His book is a good intro to the way small changes effect integrated systems, particularly in business.

28
RedwoodCity 3 days ago 1 reply      
There are plenty of counter examples to this. Boeing has suppliers for key components for its airplanes as far away as Italy and Japan.

Toyota and BMW assemble vehicles in the US from imported parts.

A CPU from intel is often fabricated in a US based factory, tested in Costa Rica, and packaged in Asia.

The issue has too many variables related to margins, tax breaks for factories, and import tariffs; to say the whole electronics supply chain is moving one direction.

As wages and living standards rise in China it is likely that some production will move to other countries and regions, which in the longterm is a good thing because it spreads the wealth.

29
damoncali 3 days ago 4 replies      
Or they could just do like Dell does - require suppliers to carry inventory (on the suppliers' books) within minutes of their factories. You can do that in America just as easily as you can in China.
30
snitzr 3 days ago 0 replies      
There is a difference between the bullwhip effect and JIT (just in time) manufacturing. Building your assembly plant near your suppliers is JIT and it helps reduce in-process inventory. Less in-process work and faster delivery to the assembly plant means you can ship product faster. This is important for a fast-moving tech manufacturer.

The bullwhip effect is caused by delay and uncertainty in demand. JIT helps minimize its effects, but doesn't ensure its elimination. Coordinating your demand with retailers is one way to prevent the bullwhip effect. I'm guessing Apple has effective inventory and order coordination with their retailers.

31
tlogan 3 days ago 0 replies      
I'm not sure this a correct explanation: if this is correct then Foxconn would never starting making iPads in Brazil (http://www.webpronews.com/foxconns-brazilian-ipad-factory-to...).
32
brownbat 1 day ago 0 replies      
I found the in depth reporting at the Atlantic last month a bit more revelatory:

http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2012/01/making-i...

Though it sort of agrees that supply chain is important, just frames it differently.

The reason Standard Motor still employs (expensive) low skilled US workers like Maddie is because it wants to have her seal up a part immediately after the high skilled worker (Luke) finishes his precision machining role. Workers of Luke's caliber (with knowledge of metallurgy, coding, specific machine training) aren't reliably found in the lowest labor cost countries (at the moment, Poland is getting competitive here).

If robots for Maddie's job get cheaper, or demand grows such that the factory needs to run multiple shifts, or if the factory can somehow move Luke overseas, then Maddie loses her job. If any of these things happen, but firms like Standard keep their Maddies, they get bought out by gigantic German manufacturers, or just undercut on the store shelves until no one's buying their products anymore.

33
jsz0 3 days ago 0 replies      
Do we even have the affordable housing & mass transportation required for something like this anymore? The 'FoxConn cities' in China look a lot like the old factory towns in the United States that have mostly disappeared. Even with the huge number of home foreclosures most cities simply do not have affordable housing for an influx of even 100,000 people. Most cities don't have the mass transit capacity to carry them to work. They don't have room in their schools for tens of thousands of new students. They could be built of course but it's not a turn-key solution the way it is in China. If Apple started the process today I bet it would take 5-7 years at minimum.
34
nileshtrivedi 3 days ago 0 replies      
There ought to be an app for the beer game.
35
macco 2 days ago 0 replies      
Supply-Chain is certainly a point, but I doubt it's the only factor - relative labour cost play an important role. Questions to ask:

1. Why did the factories move in the first place.

2. Why can companies like Airbus oder German car manufacturers survive - their supply chain is distributed all over the planet, with the best paid workers in Germany.

36
ekianjo 3 days ago 0 replies      
The end of the article is bit of a nonsense: why, we have to save big failed corporations like GMC just because of the supply chain ?Are you kidding me? The supply chain of these manufacturers is going nowhere. If they were dismantled, other companies would buy their assets anyway and keep using them on American soil. Nothing is completely lost.
37
Prophasi 2 days ago 0 replies      
From near the end: "Obama was right in bailing out the auto industry when GM and Chrysler were going bankrupt."

It's myopic to equate GM and Chrysler with the American auto industry. My hope was that those tragically unfit companies and their corrupt unions would go bankrupt, only to have their assets swept up at fire-sale prices by a company or person willing and able to ignite a rebirth of the industry.

Sometimes you gotta clear out the brush. The old, rickety, terribly designed, onerously-high overhead, ridiculous pension brush.

38
kristianp 3 days ago 0 replies      
Relevant article by Andy Grove on US manufacturing from 2010: http://www.businessweek.com/print/magazine/content/10_28/b41...
39
brudgers 3 days ago 0 replies      
I first read about the beer game in The Fifth Discipline. That was the first book on business I ever bought.

http://www.amazon.com/The-Fifth-Discipline-Practice-Organiza...

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jgervin 3 days ago 3 replies      
Cost is the main driver here. I am lefty, but I agree the unions are a little out of control. I am sorry, but a guy who stands in a production line building cars should not be making $125k per year (source was a series on TV, think 60 minutes where they talked to some of those workers).

I am glad unions are there to help make sure people are not overworked and have benefits, but come on guys. You shot yourself in the foot there.

41
gogobyte 3 days ago 1 reply      
Because Apple and the whole USA IT industry can not build good enough software for industrial automation. I mean, today's software building technology is too primitive.
4
Notch's next game is an MMO 0x10c.com
516 points by primesuspect  5 days ago   240 comments top 53
1
cpeterso 5 days ago  replies      
I was a developer for the ill-fated Perpetual Entertainment's Star Trek Online MMO (which was later sold and successfully launched by Cryptic Studios).

Star Trek Online's #1 most common feature request from beta testers was "ship interiors." Players didn't want to play "WoW in Spaaaace" game. They wanted to play "The Sims meet Star Trek" and relive their favorite Star Trek TV episodes. That sounds like a pretty cool game (for a small, but dedicated niche), but Perpetual's game designers scoffed and (having worked at Blizzard) proceeded to create "WoW in Space."

2
aresant 5 days ago 4 replies      
A four paragraph website outlining the vision coupled with a simple way for customers to engage directly with the CEO of the company.

Notch understands "Minimum Viable Product"

3
endianswap 5 days ago  replies      
Technology of note: "The computer in the game is a fully functioning emulated 16 bit CPU that can be used to control your entire ship, or just to play games on while waiting for a large mining operation to finish.
[...]
The cost of the game is still undecided, but it's likely there will be a monthly fee for joining the Multiverse as we are going to emulate all computers and physics even when players aren't logged in."
4
jiggy2011 5 days ago 4 replies      
I hope this will be like EVE Online but actually fun.

When I played EVE, I always thought that a programmable ship would be fun. Although there is a risk that programmers will get an unfair advantage.

On the other hand it may get more people interested in programming.

I wonder if this will ship with an interpreter/compiler for any language or whether you will have to write ASM?

Surely won't be long before there is a LISP for it.

I can also imagine a lot of people getting pissed of because they keep getting killed accidentally by someone else's buggy software.

5
fruchtose 5 days ago 0 replies      
I don't know what I'm more excited for: the possibility of a DCPU C compiler, or the first player to exploit the security holes in a program written for the DCPU C compiler.
6
officemonkey 5 days ago 2 replies      
As a fan of old space travel role playing games like "Traveller", I'm looking forward to this.

If it combines the "build-it-yourself" bits of Minecraft (build your ship, build your computer, build your programs) with MMO trading, and guild-building of EVE Online, and let players build the universe, then it might be a real winner.

I'll sign-up regardless.

7
pantaloons 5 days ago 3 replies      
"We are going to emulate all computers and physics even when players aren't logged in."

I built a prototype trying to do something similar, inspired by a text-based RTS/MMO that kept running while you were asleep. For me this was an unrealistic goal, if the simulations are complex enough you can't operate at a price point users will pay for. Even if you can, because the game is now CPU bound, far less players fit on a single instance -- you now need incredibly clever partitioning and load distributing facilities to keep the world appearing seamless. Even AAA titles haven't solved that problem, a look at world PVP lag in EVE or WoW will tell you as much.

8
lloeki 4 days ago 2 replies      
I was reading those specific two bullet points:

    * Hard science fiction.
* Space battles against the AI or other players.

which, combined with:

    * Lots of engineering.
* Fully working computer system.

reminded me of essays such as "Realistic Space Combat" [0]. I wonder if Notch considers such a thing.

[0] https://gist.github.com/1526107

9
thinker 5 days ago 1 reply      
The creator of Minecraft is creating a space game!? He should totally call it Starcraft.
10
rdl 5 days ago 2 replies      
I hope this doesn't ship for a year or two. I'd like to get more work done first :)
11
Aissen 4 days ago 0 replies      
One word. SpaceChem.

This looks heavily inspired by this indie game. In spacechem you must you use "chemistry pipe design skills", that highly resemble how you design logic circuts, in order to create certain molecules.

It also seems quite inspired with what you can do in minecraft with the redstone.

All that, but more open, pushing the limits. Not such a bad idea.

12
ique 5 days ago 1 reply      
Has anyone decoded the name? He said it was related to 1 in a 64-bit system read in 16-bit with the wrong endianness, or something like that. I tried my hand at it briefly but gave up.
13
mdanger 5 days ago 2 replies      
Between this and http://www.ftlgame.com/ , it's nice to think that the scifi games I used to be only able to dream about are slowly becoming real.
14
Breefield 5 days ago 1 reply      
EVE Online meets Minecraft.
15
justjimmy 5 days ago 2 replies      
Hopefully it'll have some sandbox features! MMO Scene has been missing a decent sandbox since UO and SWG (Pre you know what. And dont' say EVE online cause to me, that was just a huge game of stare-at-your-UI-windows)
16
goblin89 4 days ago 0 replies      
Slightly off-topic, but"how mercilessly correct he is about physics of our space-time. We all know the universe is expanding, but many consequences of this phenomenon are not obvious"such as that after some time we'll be unable to see (and therefore ever reach) even nearby galaxies, since they're constantly getting farther and farther away.

We'll be completely alone forever, and future scientists would have completely wrong picture about universe in such an absence of information. Thinking about that, we already miss a lot of information because of red shift… There're facts potentially explaining the eternal question ‘about universe and everything', but they are slipping away from us, crossing the event horizon never ever to be learned about. Not a fun thing to know.

Personally for me that was a discovery thanks to the explanation by Lawrence Krauss in his ‘A Universe From Nothing' popular talk (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7ImvlS8PLIo).

17
mkramlich 5 days ago 0 replies      
Funny timing. I was designing a new space/SF computer game this weekend for a few hours. I tend to make one new one every few years. I saw a little overlap between his feature list and mine, but a lot of potential differences too, which is great. I may put it up on Kickstarter too if/when I have some proof-of-concept demos ready to show. So little free time though...
18
potomushto 4 days ago 0 replies      
@notch: The DCPU-16 specs are up, with some sample code and a memdump: http://0x10c.com/doc/dcpu-16.txt
19
fleitz 5 days ago 1 reply      
Wouldn't it just be simpler to use an x86 CPU and qemu? Or a sandbox'ed process, etc, etc.

I'm sort of thinking that if you used an x86 CPU there are so many existing tools that could be used for it instead of having to write new compilers, etc.

20
mindstab 5 days ago 1 reply      
Is this some hint?
the year 281474976712644 - 1988 (first year of deep freeze) == exactly 2^48

And how do you get that much sleep on a 16bit cpu

21
jonnycowboy 4 days ago 0 replies      
Notch mentioned in another interview that he was looking to create basically a modern 'Elite' set in a persistant universe but this programming thing seems to deviate slightly. Super interesting!
22
chromejs10 4 days ago 1 reply      
I'm super excited for this game. I like open ended games, and Notch spends a lot of time trying to make the game fit each user. But does anyone know why Notch gets so much shit online for being "greedy" or an "ass"? I've never seen or heard about him doing anything to get those ugly titles. Looking at the twitter feeds on 0x10c.com, I see a bunch of "greedy bastard" comments. There is nothing wrong with selling a game in the alpha stages. People will get a chance to voice their opinions on how the game should function.
23
mischa_u 4 days ago 1 reply      
What Notch means with "Hard Science Fiction":
http://0x10c.com/doc/hardscifi.txt
24
ilaksh 5 days ago 1 reply      
Great, now I can finally stop pretending that Infinity: Quest for Earth is actually going to happen.
25
jentulman 4 days ago 1 reply      
Okay so I'm just a simple PHP dev, would someone be so kind as to point me in the right direction to start learning what I'm going to need to write for the in game CPU, so I can try and get a jump on things?

(0x10c.stackexchange one day?)

26
martingordon 4 days ago 0 replies      
This sounds like its the beginning of OASIS: http://www.amazon.com/Ready-Player-One-Ernest-Cline/dp/03078...
27
anthonyb 5 days ago 0 replies      
He's released the spec for the 16-bit CPU used in the game: http://notch.tumblr.com/post/20056289891/start-classified-tr...
28
vitno 5 days ago 0 replies      
I think I'm going to lose a lot of time to this game...
29
mikedougherty 5 days ago 0 replies      
depending on your chosen minecraft server, his first game was an MMO too!
30
ddelphin 5 days ago 1 reply      
While I'm def excited about this game, when I thought about it, how is this not just the second half of Second Life by Linden Labs? Second Life already offers an MMO with object creation (Minecraft) and scripting (0x10c). While the sci-fi story line is more appealing to me, the concept of building thing and coding their workings in a 3D MMO doesn't seem novel to me... Unless I completely misunderstood something.
31
genu1 5 days ago 0 replies      
Notch is officially my programming hero. This post inspires me; to take risks and be brave with my coding decisions while nurturing the process. Before today I would code and think over think and run into wall, while the original plan remains stagnant, always looking forwards to the finale. Now I look to code richly, daily, and to water my plants. Notch is zen. I can't wait to play this game.
32
ericHosick 5 days ago 0 replies      
This might be a great environment to encourage people, and especially kids, to learn how to program. This was seen in Minecraft and maybe he will try to extend the idea into this new MMO.

I hope so because anything which encourages and helps people to learn programming is a plus in my book.

33
dsirijus 4 days ago 0 replies      
I'm getting a git repo up for DCPU16 on dcpu16.com, .net & .org as we speak.
With a custom design by a Swedish guy that looks like notch's twin. :D
Will update you guys when it's up, should be today. I already have people that want to push.
34
ConstantineXVI 5 days ago 0 replies      
Without any context for the name: maybe "sixteen (or hex-ten) to lightspeed"? Space game with a focus on the ingame CPU, seems logical.
35
Tichy 4 days ago 0 replies      
Sounds as if I can program the computer to play for me? I'm in! Wanted such a game for decades (former Corewar player here).
36
emarcotte 5 days ago 0 replies      
Wasn't Notch's first game an MMO? Didn't he work on Wurm?
37
tnash 5 days ago 0 replies      
This looks great, and it's evident from Notch's success with Minecraft that he really knows how to provide a great product and interact with his fans. Looking forward to trying it out.
38
uriloran 4 days ago 0 replies      
The DCPU-16 specification is up at http://0x10c.com/doc/dcpu-16.txt

I am so exited right now!

39
justauser 5 days ago 1 reply      
I thought Scrolls was his next game?
40
jebblue 5 days ago 0 replies      
If Minecraft was a hit then this sounds like it could be a mega-hit I mean a computer you can program in the game (I think I read that right), duct tape (how can you possibly keep a modern spaceship together without it?)!
41
razzaj 4 days ago 0 replies      
This sounds similar to ogame only for hardliner geeks. I like it already. But i guess it will all be in the interface, i hope he nails it right. This could be very interesting.
42
quattrofan 4 days ago 0 replies      
An Elite for the 21st century? Want!
43
codesuela 5 days ago 0 replies      
I hope someone comes up with something like "Spaceship on Rails"
44
LinXitoW 4 days ago 0 replies      
It'd be cool if someone made a Minecraft IDE, where you program using preformated elements in a visual style by literally building your program with blocks. Sorta like Scratch.
45
kaonashi 5 days ago 0 replies      
Reminds me of an MMO version of SunDog (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SunDog:_Frozen_Legacy).
46
naughtysriram 4 days ago 1 reply      
Guess its pronounced "Oh X ten C" or something like "Oh! Extacy"
47
gavanwoolery 5 days ago 1 reply      
We are in the year 281 474 976 712 644, but there are only 16 bit computers on the ships? Anachronism!!!
48
LostInTheWoods2 4 days ago 0 replies      
"The only thing to it, is to do it!" -- Martin Lawrence
49
wildster 4 days ago 0 replies      
Red Dwarf!
50
Heisens 5 days ago 0 replies      
I'd like to see this on the iPad vs. Java.
51
kreeben 4 days ago 1 reply      
If someone will create a .net-like framework for me to run managed code upon, then sure, I'll play this game.
52
dysoco 5 days ago 1 reply      
The game looks really awesome, I love space games, and if you combine it with Minecraft... and not only that but programmable CPUs !!!! I would love it.

Sadly "Monthly Fee" is something I don't like... I don't have the money to pay it, nor a credit card to do it, so nope.

53
w1ntermute 5 days ago 6 replies      
I hope the graphics don't suck, like they do in Minecraft. I know it sound superficial, but graphics do matter. Minecraft succeeded despite its graphics, not because of them.
5
I don't hire unlucky people raganwald.posterous.com
514 points by arcatan  3 days ago   259 comments top 41
1
DarkShikari 3 days ago  replies      
This article is superb.

We tried placing ads for ninjas, rock stars, and so on, but I discovered this was the cultural equivalent of advertising for white males who drink dry martinis. Not that white males who drink dry martinis can't do the job, but there's no real difference between advertising for a Ninja and throwing half your resumés away because you don't like unlucky people. Either way, you end up with fewer resumés.”

This is so true, so important, and so many startups (and even bigger companies!) miss this. Job ads provide cues, conscious and subconscious, to the people reading them. Not everyone reading the ad is identical to the person writing it, and a badly written job ad can easily send the message "this company isn't for you" to a large number of skilled potential applicants. This applies not just to categories like gender or race, but even to personality types and personal interests. Unless you really want a company of only extroverts, for example, don't write a job ad that scares off introverts.

In the canonical example, if you constantly ask for "rock stars", you will turn off people to whom that doesn't appeal, including tons of good programmers. But it goes beyond that: don't assume that all your applicants are any particular kind of person with certain interests. A job ad should focus on what the job actually is, and things that are important to the job.

The best programmers often have a lot of choice in where they work, and as many HNers know from experience, if they see a job ad that turns them off in some fashion, they will probably not even bother reading further: they know they have better options, so yours probably isn't worth their time. If the vast majority of skilled programmers skip over your resume, it's no wonder you only receive resumes from unqualified applicants.

In short, when writing a job ad, you need to think from the perspective of people applying. Use your empathy, put yourself in their shoes, rather than just writing what you think looks cool.

2
plinkplonk 3 days ago  replies      
I agree with every point Reginald makes but (and I am being nitpicky here) the form of the story - the seeming overtailored parable nature of it, of the kind you'd find in the Reader's Digest or a religious tract - rubs me ever so slightly the wrong way.

I could have done without all the fake (or seemingly fake anyway) dialogue between the Wooster/Oscar etc and would have preferred a straightforward "This is what I(Reginald) think" mode.

Imagine pg writing his essays in the form of "Paul wrote an ecommerce site in Lisp while Peter used C++. When Paul met Peter's wife Rosa in a coffee shop he asked her why Peter was looking so haggard and she said 'he is working through the night fixing bugs and not getting enough sleep. Would you mind talking to him? ..' "

Again, this is a very minor nitpick, just consider this feedback from one reader. I am probably considerably outnumbered by the people who like this "story" form better (and that is perfectly fine). Of course it is completely Reginald's prerogative to pick any style he wants.

3
dustingetz 3 days ago 2 replies      
i know a guy running a software shop. he's an active participant in the local meetup community, and he cares about people. it's no surpise that he has all sorts of talented people trying to work with him, and not enough funding to hire them all. (at least, i think that's why he hasn't hired me ;)

i also know a few other people running software shops, who don't participate in the local meetup community. none of the best local developers even know who these other employers are. i'm sort of sick of hearing them complain about how hard it is to find talent.

the flip side of this, is that if I as an engineer want to have a steady stream of future opportunities with the best employers, I need to make myself known to them, by, you guessed it! making myself visible in the meetup community, and internet community at large.

ez game.

4
emmett 3 days ago 2 replies      
This is the opposite of my experience. When we greatly narrowed the pool of applicants from "people who want to work on live video" to "people who want to work on live video for gaming", we saw a huge uptick in how many people were interested in working for us.

TwitchTV is more attractive for programmers than Justin.tv ever was. There is something to be said for appealing to a smaller group of people more strongly.

5
idan 3 days ago  replies      
This is exactly what we've been thinking about for the last year while we've been building http://skillsapp.com. Exactly.

Love it when lucid, articulate writers take my mess of a brain and put the right words to it.

6
delinka 3 days ago 2 replies      
Aside from the Sesame Street names, a fairly decent read. Many years ago, I decided to stop writing my résumé to each recipient and just let my List Of Things speak for itself. I don't want to work for someone caught up on details that are irrelevant to the jobs I'd be doing.
7
cpeterso 3 days ago 2 replies      
Slightly off-topic: in Larry Niven's Ringworld novels, an alien race (Pierson's Puppeteers) secretly influences human genetic selection to optimize for luck.
8
wglb 3 days ago 0 replies      
Nicely done. Lots of good things here. “I measure. Premature optimization is the"Oh, I get it!” where the lightbulb comes on.

And lots of fun little bits like Mark Fidrych http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mark_Fidrych.

9
siavosh 3 days ago 0 replies      
After a couple years trying to hire developers I feel bad heuristics have a tendency to become institutionalized if for no other reason than: if I admit this is a crap heuristic, that means I've been doing it wrong for the last 10 years--no way!

As a tangent, I find it astonishing that no one ever mentions that all these arguments are true for the guy or gal sitting across the table. She is using heuristics to find an employer based on much less information and in many cases is wrong in accepting an offer. This too has a real cost: low morale, productivity, and high turn over. I find this problem rarely discussed.

10
cousin_it 3 days ago 3 replies      
So the most efficient interviewing process for the employer is also the nicest to candidates? What a curious coincidence. Are you sure there was no wishful thinking involved in writing this post?
11
terryk88a 3 days ago 1 reply      
Heh. My wife was turned down for a product management position because she did not send a thank you note. She forgot because she was (we were) so excited about the position.

The hiring manager went back to the recruiter asking for somebody else "just like" my wife.

(Loved the conversational format. "Bertie Wooster" is an inspired choice for that style of hiring...)

12
ojosilva 2 days ago 0 replies      
This is how I've been hiring in the last 3 years: I created a business by myself. As business grows, my goal is 1) to amplify and multiply my skills, which made this business possible. That way I can delegate work, be in many places at once and do things faster and better. 2) to patch and overcome my flaws, which I'm self-conscious enough to know, and fear that they could hurt business.

So when I look through resumes and interview people, I look for signals that tell me this person can (or has the potential to) either emulate my most demanded virtues, or provide wished-for aptitudes onboard. So, if I read a resume with spelling mistakes, I think "I would never allow me to be this sloppy" -- I think it sends a message of carelessness that may put in question the quality of the work being done -- and I throw the resume away. On the other hand, when I meet a person that shows me a code sample with a well-organized and thoroughly commented api class hierarchy, I think "I wish I was like that!" -- and that's a keeper.

Hence I don't agree with the article when it says to "ignore little theories". Since I believe there's no universally-accepted, truly objective way to effectively spot strangers that will make your enterprise succeed, I choose to clone myself: me who is undeniably the right person for the job, otherwise this company would never launched in the first place. Then, bit-by-bit, I "genetically engineer" the selection process to create this better super-self (the team) that will take us to the next level.

13
jrockway 3 days ago 0 replies      
Hiring managers quoting Knuth? I fail to suspend my disbelief :)
14
mathetic 3 days ago 2 replies      
The article summarizes the difference between British and American college entrance system as well.

When you apply for CS in Britain (and I'm talking about Oxbridge), they care only about your experience with computers and mathematics.

However, in HYPMS [1] the qualification is based on your irrelevant grades and your extracurriculars. You might be the most active guy and get a place but a poor programmer.

[1] Harvard, Yale, Princeton, MIT, Stanford

15
joe_the_user 3 days ago 1 reply      
Can I call bullshit on the claim the 99% of people applying for a given programming are unqualified?

Can I even call total bullshit?

Perhaps I could suggest a further that all this 99% unqualified noise is mostly a bureaucrat ideology epiphany, based on intensifying the usual "I want a Perl-programmer with five years Rails experience who can start yesterday while riding a bicycle under water".

16
JoelMcCracken 3 days ago 0 replies      
Awesome article. I just came here to submit a note about style: If your text includes a large, multi-paragraph quote, it is common to elide the trailing quote between paragraphs. Including that trailing quote means that the second person in a two person conversation is now speaking. It just confused me at first, because I thought Oscar was the character to say "But it's dangerous to confuse correlation with causation. And especially dangerous to...".
17
gnosis 2 days ago 0 replies      
"but there's no real difference between advertising for a Ninja and throwing half your resumés away because you don't like unlucky people"

This assumes getting hired by you was a lucky event in their life. In fact, it could very well be unlucky.

Perhaps if they hadn't been hired by you, they would have gotten a much better job elsewhere. Or any number of other things in their life might have turned out better had they not landed this particular job. Or maybe they'll wind up hating the job, and wish they'd have gone to work somewhere else.

Considering someone to be lucky to work for you is very self-centered. Perhaps it is you who are the lucky one to have someone like them working for you, and they the unlucky one.

18
free 3 days ago 0 replies      
My takeaway from the article was that Ernestine wanted to hire a good programmer and she focussed on just that. She did not consider the established conventions on what to do in such a situation.

Interestingly, I have observed this to be true in few other situations as well, where established conventions and processes are actually an hindrance rather than help.

19
jack-r-abbit 3 days ago 2 replies      
I'm not sure I agree with putting people who can't put together a resume without spelling/grammar mistakes into the same unlucky group that simply had their resumes tossed by chance. Having spelling and grammar mistakes on a resume is sloppy... not unlucky. At a minimum it indicates they may not pay attention to details when it really matters. But maybe that is just me. Or maybe it just doesn't matter on a resume anymore. I'll admit I've never had to whittle down a stack of 100 resumes... more like 10 so I would never just blindly throw half away. But as I skim them all, the ones with the spelling and grammar mistakes get set into the "second string" pile. I'll give them a second look if the deeper dive into the other pile still doesn't find The One. I've had it work both ways. Some times second string does have The One. And other times second string is never looked at again.
20
Navarr 1 day ago 0 replies      
The first ten times I saw this article I ignored it.

Now I'm glad I didn't.

From now on, I won't ignore unlucky headlines.

21
gwillis13 3 days ago 0 replies      
I'm going to upvote this for just the Sesame Street names. Reading the piece with those names in mind, made this a lot more interesting of a read.
22
rubyrescue 3 days ago 0 replies      
You belong here. We'll do great things together

inspiring!

23
SagelyGuru 2 days ago 0 replies      
The comments are missing out what to me was the most insightful and central point of this post.

Namely that finding the only candidate who can possibly do the job at all requires a very different approach to selection, compared to when it is sufficient to eliminate applicants any of whom could do the job well.

Raising the talent bar tends to transform the latter situation to the former and thus the advice given in this article is right and valuable.

24
charlieok 3 days ago 2 replies      
I do wonder why people advertise for “rock stars”. What is the thinking here?

Is it to screen out people who have some self doubt? “Hmm, I think I'm pretty smart, but I don't know if I'm a rock star. I think I better avoid potential embarrassment and look elsewhere”.

Is it code for “seeking brogrammers”?

25
crasshopper 3 days ago 0 replies      
I hoped this article would discuss how to advertise your position to increase the SNR (really, the appropriate-to-inappropriate-resume ratio).

Some things are obvious: if you use words like "ninja" and "rockstar" you are communicating that you want young Rails programmers or something like that.

Likewise if you posted flyers inside a museum, or hid a puzzle in a Superbowl TV ad, or wrote "Programmer needed!!! immediate openings!must be comfortable with WordPerfect" on Craigslist, each of those is going to signal something about your firm and attract a different type of person.

Someday I would love to see something on HN that goes much deeper into those issues: how to pitch your culture appropriately and improve the resume stack before it even gets to you.

26
maxcameron 3 days ago 0 replies      
Sir Reginald Braithwaite is one of Toronto's best. Thanks for yet another fantastic article man.
27
Tycho 2 days ago 0 replies      
Does anyone else hate how every job advert says they need

- excellent communication skills blablabla
- 'team player'
- able to work in a fast-paced environment
- bunch of other generic 'skills'

Of course those things are important to varying degrees in different jobs, but having on the ad is pointless since every other ad asks for the exact same thing. I find it off-putting straight away because it suggests the company is happy to stick to idiotic norms.

28
stcredzero 3 days ago 2 replies      
Just this morning, I was thinking about metrics. It should be possible to develop a set of metrics for code quality that would apply to apps using particular languages and libraries. These metrics would be general and very imperfect, but they would still have some utility. For example, it would be fairly easy to develop an automated metrics program to run on a given Ruby on Rails app. Things like depth of nesting in code, reported errors per statement, average lines of code per function.

What if there was a website where you could download a metrics app, which would take the measurements, then upload the data to a web app, where someone could login and see how well their shop stacks up in comparison to the general population of shops using the same language and library?

This would give hiring shops some way to quantify the maturity of the shops a prospective hire has worked.

29
erikb 3 days ago 0 replies      
You simply can't "grill everybody hard" just to test for their success. The goal just can't be to knock out "luck" totally. The problem space is just too big to handle. If you can throw out 50 people out of 100 who are very likely (let's say 90%) to not include the one you are looking for, then your chances to find the one increased from 1% to 2.25%, which is more then double your chance with 100 people and also a lot less work.
30
tferris 2 days ago 0 replies      
People like the OP make many mistakes when dealing with people.

They believe by using some kind of systems, techniques and tricks they can find "best talents" and avoid "miserable candidates".

But the real problem lies somewhere else: People have the wrong expectation of people"expectations are always too high and aim for perfection. You can expect perfection from systems, programs, products, services but not from people and thus, you should treat them like this. Of course real talents often deliver this expected perfection but they are rare and usually if you got one it was a lucky hit.

31
BrainInAJar 3 days ago 0 replies      
Good article, but I found the "hypothetical conversation" format a bit off-putting
32
CubicleNinjas 2 days ago 0 replies      
So, we should hire people who are so good they have spelling mistakes in their holiest-of-holy document, don't fit in with your core company culture (ninja or not), and hold back on research because it might bias your delicate sensibilities.

This is garbage.

Really. I can't imagine a quicker way to fill a room with B-players.

33
rizzom5000 3 days ago 3 replies      
While I enjoyed the article and its message, I found the spelling error on the resume example underwhelming. A professional's resume is the veneer they present to strangers. It's like the login page for your app. Do you want a spelling error there when it is so easy to avoid? It screams sloppy and lazy in the same sentence. Maybe the general quality of professional devs is so bad that sloppiness and laziness are better than the alternative... ?
34
janet236 1 day ago 0 replies      
What if correlation is causation? What if discriminating against certain traits cuts the fat more efficiently? What if it's not just about relevance to the task, but about the bigger picture, does the person deserve to be hired, what would they be like to work with, would they fit in with the group.. Why not exclusion for its own sake, if it produces good results? We all discriminate every moment of our lives, down to the finest choices. It is a moral good.
35
marajit 2 days ago 0 replies      
Rehashing the famous story about Napoleon.

http://uk.answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=2008061721542...

36
DannoHung 2 days ago 1 reply      
Political affiliation and views are not a protected class.
37
BobBobBobRob 2 days ago 0 replies      
I've heard of the "unlucky resume' selection process" elsewhere. And you were doing good with it, but, sorry, the article runs on way beyond it's perceived point-of-purpose.

Also, when Ernestine says "...I have a much lower signal-to-noise ratio?" She had it backwards, she actually has the HIGHER signal-to-noise ratio. Whereby the one guy has a large group of qualified candidates and can afford to throw some away, she has a one in a hundred group of qualified candidates, thus, she has the higher signal-to-noise ratio.

38
liuming 2 days ago 0 replies      
Hiring is hard. Try not to judge candidate's professional qualification with their personal lives. And try not to let' your indirect measurements to override your direct measurements.
39
robbywashere 1 day ago 0 replies      
FOR THE UNLUCKY FEW, I HAVE A SOLUTION! PLAY BETTER ODDZ. jobquery.hoverboardmagazine.com
40
fioll 3 days ago 0 replies      
I was with this article until the very end. You can't judge a good developer via a tech interview. It is too short. Basically, you can't judge someone until they have the job. And that isn't possible, so... despite what you are trying to do, you are still hiring "lucky" people, and lucky CS grads at that. Have fun with that.
41
kaiyi 3 days ago 2 replies      
TL;DR
6
Google Begins Testing Its Augmented Reality Glasses nytimes.com
470 points by nickbilton  4 days ago   288 comments top 64
1
hswolff 4 days ago  replies      
>“We're sharing this information now because we want to start a conversation and learn from your valuable input,” the three employees wrote. “Please follow along as we share some of our ideas and stories. We'd love to hear yours, too. What would you like to see from Project Glass?”

Why would you ask that? This type of product is so different from what's available on the market that I doubt the Project Glass team would receive any type of suggestions they'd find useful.

That would be like Apple asking people "What do you want the iPhone to do?" before it was first released in 2007.

If you're creating the product, create it. Find the features you want it to have and research the features it needs to have. Asking the public "what do you want it to have" will not do anyone any favors. Decision by committee can be truly atrocious.

2
heyrhett 4 days ago 7 replies      
Why would the largest advertising company in the world want to place a screen between my eyeballs and reality?
3
JshWright 4 days ago 2 replies      
Here's an example of how I would love to be able to use (even a very basic version of) this product:

I'm an EMT (and Paramedic student). There are plenty of scenarios in emergency medicine where you're following a time based algorithm. In the example of a cardiac arrest patient, everything revolves around two minutes cycles of CPR, medications, and (if applicable) defibrillation. Even something as simple as a clock that was alway superimposed in the corner of my field of vision would be great. If it kept track of upcoming medications and other actions, that would be even better.

I think this technology has applications in technical fields (medicine, mechanics, etc), long before it will be a common thing to wear out in 'normal life'.

4
siavosh 4 days ago 4 replies      
I loved the video, but it didn't show the glasses on his face. Besides the technical/usability challenges, I think the cultural connotation of the device will be an equally deal/no-deal situation.

Like the Segway, significant portions of the society might associate negative connotations with the device ("dorky", antisocial, pretentious etc).

I remember when a friend bought a pair of Oakley sunglasses with built in headphones. I think amongst my friends, the almost unanimous consensus was that it was not a good social statement to say the least.

This will be a challenge, but I'm sure there's a solution.

5
jasonlotito 4 days ago 4 replies      
What this will provide for disabled and autistic people is amazing. It's too easy to get caught up in the "social sharing" part of this and forget that something like this can really help change people's lives.

Edit: To expand a bit, take an autistic adult that wants to do something, like go to the movies. It's simple for us, we wash up, get dressed, go outside, go down the straight, hope on the 132 Bus for 3 stops, get off, walk 2 blocks, pay for tickets, and go into theater number 5. For someone with autism, they can struggle with things like this. These glasses provide them with visual cues base upon their location, so when they finally do get to the theater, the glasses can show them what to do next, and give them that visual cue.

Currently working on an app for tablets for this sort of things, but having it work in glasses would be simply amazing. God, what I wouldn't give to be apart of this.

6
kiloaper 4 days ago 2 replies      
I wonder how many Google Glasses wearers will become Life Loggers? I meet them at conferences occasionally. Some people actively avoid them. There's something about standing face to face with someone taking a photo of you every X seconds that people find really unnerving. I certainly do. Real time video is worse and it's very different to CCTV.

How long before Google collects and mines all this video like they did with Google StreetView but in realtime? Combined with the huge advances in facial recognition the privacy implementations are frightening. It reminds me of the scifi film "The Entire History of You". [1]

In the future will people who want to opt out of face recognition and tracking have to wear identifiers*, e.g. QR codes, on their person when talking to Google Glasses users, much like Google's wifi policy? [2]

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_Mirror_%28TV_series%29#3...

[2] http://searchengineland.com/google-announces-nomap-wifi-opto...

7
DasIch 4 days ago  replies      
Augmented reality glasses, self-driving cars... Google is becoming a really exciting and interesting company. It will be interesting to see how Apple will react to this given that they are the ones claiming to revolutionize consumer technology every couple of years.
8
zmmmmm 4 days ago 0 replies      
I'm pretty skeptical about people's ability to multitask like this. We all like to think we can do several things at once but many studies have shown we're basically interrupt driven single-tasking organisms. You simply cannot walk and watch where you're going while also watching something in your glasses. People think that having the screen overlaid onto reality solves the problem, but the problem isn't really visual in the first place, it's mental. Try even reading a (real) sign while walking along and you'll find you're bumping into people, dangerously strolling across roads without looking, etc.

I really want these to work, and I can see in limited situations (manually turn them on to look something up, etc.) they could. But I really deeply doubt they can work they way people are imagining.

9
jacquesm 4 days ago 2 replies      
I can see a great use of this for technical work on hardware that requires huge amounts of documentation (say aircraft maintenance).

The glasses the way they're designed are smart, not in between but rather in a fixed spot and only a part of the field of view. I definitely wouldn't want a computer screen between my eyes and 'the real world' in normal day to day life. Believing what my eyes see is important to me and with another layer in between you'll never know whether you are reacting to an overlay or the real thing. Especially if the images are created with input from a remote source which opens all kinds of interesting possibilities. Superimpose a picture of a traffic accident on the glasses of someone that is driving and you could very well end up with the real thing.

Seeing is believing they say and the response to visual input can be very reflexive. Audio alone can be distracting enough.

So google seems to have that part done right, it'd be great to play around with these.

10
duopixel 4 days ago 1 reply      
As much as I like the design, I think Google should first aim at making them look as inconspicuous as possible by making it look like a normal piece of eyewear.

There are very few visible pieces of technology that we carry and display in public (probably only glasses and watches). Visible wearable technology has a long history of being either geeky or douchebaggish (bluetooth headsets). I'm suspecting the current incarnation of Google's glasses would elicit both perceptions.

11
ChuckMcM 4 days ago 0 replies      
I wonder if they use a laser to do range finding.

While asking for public input into what they should be able to do, it is clear the real value is that all Google employees can wear them, where they can stream snippets of other teams that are working on other parts of your project to you so that you can co-ordinate with your team. This should really streamline the release process, allowing groups of Googler's to get way more done than they would working alone and relying on email or other social media tools to co-ordinate. Creating dynamic hang outs, streaming the feeds of those around you, allowing for collective action against problems and to respond immediately and on target with just the right resources. A real break through in organizational efficiency.

The only hangup is that the legendary mobility of people in Google, being able to switch jobs almost at will, means that trying to hard code names into the stream is really time consuming. The current work around is to just use numbers for the groups, so if you're the group working on adding Picasa support which is group number 15 on the p pages, you might be referred to as 3 of 15 ...

12
mladenkovacevic 4 days ago 3 replies      
Youtube promo of how it might work (is this for real or just a concept? looks too good to be true)
http://youtu.be/9c6W4CCU9M4
13
georgieporgie 4 days ago 0 replies      
I want these glasses, but with lenses. Not just any lenses, I want lenses that have electronically-controlled, variable tint. Not only would I get the benefit of sunglasses, but the tint could be run up when I'm significantly engaged with my built-in display. Sort of an indicator to others to avoid the social annoyances witnessed in modern, overly discreet mobile phone Bluetooth headsets (and no, I don't mean black them out and blind me, nor do I mean to signal muggers as to my distraction in a shady part of town, though I do see the benefits of Peril Sensitive Sunglasses).
14
saturdaysaint 4 days ago 2 replies      
I don't know whether to be encouraged or disturbed by the notion of having wearable cameras become socially acceptable. On one hand, I would think this could be a major crime deterrent - the idea of a "witness" could become quaint as any crime could easily be captured with a time/location stamp.

But it could also be a major altering of norms. Are women comfortable with the idea that any guy looking at them on the street can capture their image?

15
SCdF 4 days ago 0 replies      
It looks like my idea of augmented reality is different from google's.

The features and functions shown in that video were basically removing the pain of pulling your phone out of your pocket. It was, essentially, a more elegant system than strapping your phone to your face.

It's a good start for the idea of putting processing power in front of your vision, but I wouldn't buy it until it actually augments my reality. If I look at my friend it should show upcoming appointments between us. If I look at a concert poster it should bring up links for articles about the band, reviews, links to buy tickets. That would be augmentation.

16
9oliYQjP 4 days ago 0 replies      
These glasses are ugly and unfashionable. But so are bluetooth headsets. I wonder if they'll follow a similar trend curve of rapidly gaining adoption while they seem techy-cool, but quickly turn to douchebag-turnoff accessories as they peak and trail off in adoption.
17
njharman 4 days ago 0 replies      
I've been following wearable computing for very long time. Since Dr Steve Mann's eyetap and early MIT media lab http://www.media.mit.edu/wearables/ and http://www.remem.org/ with chording keyboard and HUD is how I wanted future to work.

These glasses look 1/2 as good as prototype and they are hackable at all, then the future is near. And look matters. I don't have problem stickin out. But many situations having bunch of wires and contraptions on your head is stickin out too far. esp now days that people think lightbrites are WMDs.

Very, very excited.

18
DanBC 4 days ago 0 replies      
I want face recognition. No more "Hello er, ah, hello! How are you?" moments.

I also want a version that shoots laser beams into my eye.

(http://slashdot.org/articles/99/04/15/2058223_F.shtml)

(http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/3647437.stm)

Combined with a chording keyboard (Frogpad (except they don't seem to be making them anymore) or "The Twiddler" and I can be happy when commuting.

19
jeremysalwen 4 days ago 0 replies      
Looking at the potential for this technology, and seeing that it being used for what amounts to nothing more than shoving your iphone in your face 24/7 is bothersome. It's just an incremental step towards being on Facebook a little bit more. Why isn't this technology being developed for surgeons? Mechanics? Engineers? Police? Disabled people?

Well, the answer's obvious: it's not where the money is. It's sad that actual advancement to our society is only getting the funding through piggy-backing on our increasing intrusive means of entertainment.

20
exit 4 days ago 0 replies      
is it a mistake releasing concept videos far ahead of the state of the art?

hopefully what google announces at i/o will be shockingly advanced

21
philo23 4 days ago 1 reply      
That's a pretty neat concept video, but of course it's more than likely just a well produced concept video. Hopefully the real thing can live up to it.

One thing I did think about after seeing the concept photos they have on the Google+ page (https://plus.google.com/111626127367496192147/posts) and in this NYT article, what about us poor people not gifted with 20/20 vision? But again they are probably just concept images and shouldn't really be taken as much more than that.

22
robbiemitchell 4 days ago 1 reply      
Interesting that, in the demo video, he "shares to his circles" rather than to a specific circle. Even in the Google+ future, it's easier to share with everyone than to segment everyone endlessly.
23
marcamillion 3 days ago 0 replies      
I really hope this sees the light of day and they are able to execute on it the way it looks in the video. Unfortunately, I have seen too many cool videos come from research labs or highly paid scientists/engineers at tech companies and nothing ever comes of it - or rather, in a meaningful way to me anyway. Microsoft surface anyone?

One of the things I LOVE about Apple is...if they released this video, I know I could expect to see it on store shelves in a month or at most a few months. Sometimes even as little as a few weeks.

That's awesome.

With this....only God He knows when we will ever see this.

24
sebastianavina 4 days ago 2 replies      
I just want to lay on the beach this vacations, but my cellphone doesn't stop to ring, I'm attached to my job with my cellphone, and if I turn it off, it's just rude. This glasses are a real nightmare for me.
25
Tzunamitom 3 days ago 0 replies      
We did a lot of research into AR headsets in my last job. Four years ago they already had a fully functional system that would "project" 3D organs into a plastic cadaver, which could be manipulated with a scalpel-like stylus.

There were two key problems - one was the weight (resulting in wearer fatigue), and the other was the refresh rate which caused nausea during prolonged use.
Neither of these are significant barriers, and given Moore's Law I wouldn't be surprised if these things are as ubiquitous as smartphones in 5-10 years.

26
saturdaysaint 4 days ago 0 replies      
Interesting that that the intro video also seems to be a subtle demonstration of new natural language commands. Kind of a clever way of minimizing "Siri" by packaging it into something much bigger. I'm curious how some of the actions are initiated - the video implies that visual recognition/location awareness/voice commands initiate the search, but I wonder if a button is also pressed.
27
kpanghmc 4 days ago 0 replies      
Very cool. Although now it's going to be even more difficult to tell whether someone is talking to you, their Bluetooth headset, or their augmented reality glasses.

I'm hoping they build in Google Translate into these things. They could be the real life version of the Babel fish.

28
dsirijus 4 days ago 0 replies      
I could name you dozen of IT companies that unveiled concept for a product that's basically same as this.
The only and real question is - can Google pull it off?
29
jQueryIsAwesome 4 days ago 1 reply      
This will certainly introduce a revolution in the gaming industry in the next few years... or at least, i hope it does.
30
stcredzero 4 days ago 0 replies      
Only a matter of time before someone implements something along the lines of "Girls Around Me" for this thing, only it would be "Girl I'm Looking At."
31
altrego99 3 days ago 0 replies      
The hardware to display the AR in the glasses is not what I am concerned about. What makes me doubt this is the software that will do the speech analysis, and image analysis. Based on how much less than human our current attempts of these are (eg. Google Goggles, Siri), it will be a miracle if this develops into a product which ranks above in practical usability than its entertainment value.
32
rbarooah 3 days ago 0 replies      
A big question is how soon these can function as a standalone device, or whether they would be tethered to a phone in your pocket first.

Otherwise, are they much more than a head mount display accessory for Android?

Head mount displays for mobile computers have been in industrial use for some time - e.g. http://www.stereo3d.com/hmd.htm

33
noduerme 4 days ago 0 replies      
The use of all the hipster tropes in their vid is enough to make me change my mind about never punching people with glasses.
34
hcarvalhoalves 4 days ago 0 replies      
Soon: "Girls around Me" app for Google Glasses.
35
EREFUNDO 4 days ago 0 replies      
Since I was a kid I always dreamed of making a wearable goggles that will let you see the world very differently, like seeing another dimension. Advertising wasn't part of the idea....lol
36
jeffpalmer 4 days ago 1 reply      
This has the potential to be huge, especially since it's the brainchild of Google. One thing I noticed is that they didn't showcase object recognition of any type in the promo video. When I heard they were testing these glasses, Google Goggles is the first thing that came to mind. It would be really useful to auto-search objects by simply looking at them and issuing a command. I'm sure it's on their roadmap, if it's not already live in the glasses alpha/beta product.
37
fosk 4 days ago 0 replies      
I want that you make it a platform, expose APIs, and allow developers to create apps for it.
38
b1daly 3 days ago 0 replies      
Why does the Google promo video make me feel icky? I already feel like my attachment to my iPhone is not healthy, I literally feel lost when I don't have it nearby.

I might be too old to get excited about stuff like this. I suppose if it helped with my work I would use it, but otherwise I really enjoy looking directly at the world.

39
jwallaceparker 4 days ago 1 reply      
When I was young my grandfather got me a pair of augmented reality glasses. They had thick green rims and he also got a pair for my sister, Janine. Her pair had red rims.

We put the glasses on right away and boy did they augment! After that we really only took them off to sleep.

About three weeks later our family took a trip to New York City. We were looking at all the tall buildings and they were really tall and beautiful.

Then we took the glasses off and realized we were in Hoboken!

40
charlieok 4 days ago 0 replies      
I want this to replace at least most of the cases in which I'd otherwise be seen walking around looking at my phone. Compared to that, this can't help but be an unqualified improvement :)
41
PanMan 4 days ago 1 reply      
Unclear to me is how the interface works. In the demo video, how do you select an item? By eyesight? How do you click?

The design is more stylish than I expected.

42
valgaze 4 days ago 0 replies      
I would love to put this into the hands (eyeballs?) of salespeople for stuff you can't scale well so they can look down a road and see an overlay of appointments and contacts- a CRM overlay
43
sswezey 4 days ago 0 replies      
If the other engineers are anything like Thad Starner (Georgia Tech professor), this will be an amazing thing! Thad has being working on very similar projects for ages and cannot be found without his laptop in a bag and screen on his glasses.
44
firefoxman1 4 days ago 0 replies      
So the what the people in those Palm Pre commercials had...will soon be real!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jLYmzszg3nM

45
jpontyface 4 days ago 1 reply      
Seems like a cool product but glasses are a thing of the past. People moved to using contacts because of the annoyance of glasses, and wearing them all day can actually hurt my ears and nose. And once we start taking them off and putting them in our pockets while not using them, they become a phone with less features.

I want something like this, maybe in a pair of contacts, but even contacts can be irritating. How about a genetically engineered eyeball?

46
9k9 4 days ago 2 replies      
Everyone would go crazy with the ability to check a news feed 24/7. I suppose we'd have to find a way to adapt to it as there are some pretty awesome advantages.
47
zerop 3 days ago 0 replies      
But wouldnt this make people wearing it, more prone to accident... you are driving and someone pings you on Google+, the message appears on google glasses and you appear next to God !! :)
48
varunsaini 4 days ago 0 replies      
I believe that if the product is good then it doesn't matter if you keep it under wrap or give a peek to people. Google believes in iterative model and they are keeping that. If they pull it off and sell it in 300-500 $ I can imagine seeing a lot of people wearing these and updating their facebook timelines and twitter :), so now we all know why they call Android, and Android
49
methodin 4 days ago 0 replies      
Any indication how one interacts with the device aside from voice and the button for camera? Eye movement?
50
chrischen 4 days ago 1 reply      
Something else you can get punched in the face for while walking down the street.
51
mmahemoff 4 days ago 0 replies      
"A group of us from Google[x]"

So this is the first official acknowledgement of Google X, no?

52
dbh937 4 days ago 0 replies      
I wonder who will be testing these things... Hope Google has a signup list like the had with the CR-48!
53
sabalaba 4 days ago 0 replies      
Looking forward to hacking on these. Hopefully they can redesign them to not look like Geordi from Star Trek.
54
naughtysriram 3 days ago 0 replies      
This looks something like the TEDx Sixth Sense by Pranav Mistry.

http://www.ted.com/talks/pranav_mistry_the_thrilling_potenti...

55
bmj1 3 days ago 0 replies      
If they opened up an API for this you could have a lot of fun:
- P2P payments
- Add as friend on FB/follow on Twitter
- See friends in common/shared network
56
thret 4 days ago 0 replies      
Imagine what these could do for someone with alzheimer's.
57
jhull 4 days ago 0 replies      
now it all makes sense. they released the self-driving car first so that i can now click on ads instead of driving. genius
58
Foy 4 days ago 0 replies      
Just imagine the comedic possibilities created by this device.

Especially the voice activated picture-taking part.

59
rjurney 4 days ago 0 replies      
Why don't they EVER show you what it looks like through the glasses?
60
joshrotenberg 4 days ago 2 replies      
Looks like a great way to increase pedestrian fatalities.
61
jhull 4 days ago 0 replies      
holy grail will be to be able to target ads to someones glasses right after the get in a car crash. "Need a Lawyer? Blink Twice"
62
deniska 4 days ago 0 replies      
It's the eyePhone from Futurama.
63
Hortinstein 4 days ago 0 replies      
anywhere we can sign up for the beta?
64
aaaassssghghg 4 days ago 0 replies      
Dont anyone think its fake?!!!
7
Throw Out Everything You Know About Ads pof.com
392 points by tylerrooney  4 days ago   118 comments top 44
1
ender7 4 days ago 6 replies      
Besides the novelty factor (which others have mentioned), his 'paint' version is also much simpler, and therefor much easier to understand at a quick glance.

  - Large text
- Not very much text
- A single image
- A single visual flow (top to bottom)
- A concise color palette (greens and black)

Compare to the 'standard' ad, where:

  - Text is too small
- Too much text
- Too many images competing for attention
- Muddled visual flow

2
jonnathanson 4 days ago 6 replies      
Good lesson on the value of in-market testing. That said, would love to see some theory and analysis about why the MS Paint ad outperformed the standard ad. My hunch is that the first ad -- while it obviously looks a lot more professional -- looks like every other banner ad on the internet. It reeks of ad-ness, and it may set off some psychological barrier to receptivity amongst viewers precisely because their brains have been trained to filter out ads. (Banner blindness, as one of the other posters has pointed out).

Conversely, the MS Paint ad is, if nothing else, novel. It looks pretty different from most display ads out there. It catches the brain's attention, rather than being caught in the brain's passive ad-filtering heuristics. This may be, if nothing else, a story about attention and awareness.

3
joblessjunkie 4 days ago 2 replies      
I suspect this is all about novelty.

Users haven't seen an ad like this one a thousand times before. Some might not even think this is an ad. Some will be curious enough to actually click.

The MS Paint banner ad is not inherently more effective. If every banner ad on the internet was hand-drawn in MS Paint in 5 minutes, the joke would quickly grow old, and the CTR would vanish.

4
alain94040 4 days ago 3 replies      
Interesting, but the author is missing a critical point: the conversion after clicks. When I see the first ad, I clearly understand immediately that it's for a car game. I'm not likely to click, but if I click, I know what I want, and I'm very likely to actually download/install/play the game.

When I see the second ad, I wonder what it is, so yes, I'm more likely to click on it. But I'm not interested in car games. So I'm also much more likely to press the back button as soon as I understand what I'm being sold.

How does the math play out in the end and which ad is betetr? There's no way to tell from that data.

5
abeppu 4 days ago 3 replies      
The "test everything" mantra sounds good, but in practice, you generally have only so much data you can afford (in impressions per day, or whatever), and when your CTRs are often 0.1% or lower, you need quite a lot of data to get narrow confidence intervals around your CTRs. Using the basic binomial model, if you have two test conditions, one of which actually does 20-25% better than the other, (say, 0.11% versus 0.09%), your confidence intervals will keep overlapping until you have OOM 1M impressions. This is all just to say that running a whole lot of tests can quickly become expensive an impractical.

While testing some radical, weird treatments can give you valuable perspective, or shed light on the assumptions you've been making, testing every idea is rarely feasible. I would not, for instance, guess that that the author should test different versions of the second ad with colors or number of exclamation points changed.

6
ankeshk 4 days ago 1 reply      
Actually advertisers have known this since a long time. Ugly wins more attention. More attention = higher conversion.

The first job of ads is winning attention. You have to fight against all the clutter and stand out. You can do so by a variety of tactics. Use human faces. Use cute looking models. Use ugly fonts or clipart. Use mouse pointers. Use fluorescent colors. Use dashed coupon type borders.

You need to know however that while your conversion rates will increase, the number of complaints you receive will increase too.

7
bgilroy26 4 days ago 1 reply      
I think the comments in this thread about ctr vs actual conversions are a bit silly.

Pof's target audience here is "people who like video games" and they're trying to get people to play a free online game. They don't really have anything to teach people in verticals where the consumer is making a measurable commitment. You do not need to be very persuasive to "convert" with that crowd.

Almost all marketing advice more specific than "the customer is always right" and "sex sells" etc. is dependent on the product and the audience.

What this is is a great ad. It's really funny (The speed lines especially. This car does not look very fast, but the speed lines show it's got a lot of heart), and it understands its audience. I think it has broader application than many are giving it credit for, it probably would work with any sincere product (i.e. selling something other than "one simple rule") targeted at younger people that does not solve a "serious" problem. Once you are proposing that people spend more than $40-$50 you are pretty smarmy if you are trying to push them into an impulse purchase

No one should decide on a health insurer based on a MS Paint ad, no matter how hip, nostalgic, and casual they are. On the other hand, you can make a lot of money selling funny ads to people and I think that's what's going on here.

8
J3L2404 4 days ago 2 replies      
Curiosity. The first one is obvious as to what it is, a racing game, with the second one you can't tell what it is, so people clik thru to find out.

Improve your CTR with obfuscation. Probably won't help with coversions though.

9
acangiano 4 days ago 1 reply      
This is actually well known among savvy internet marketers. And it's why those tips for belly/whitening/wrinkles "invented by a local mom" always look far from professional.

It works because:

- It stands out from the content

- It defeats ad-blindness

- It's not expected, so it makes you curious

If this style becomes the norm, users will learn to mentally filter ads made in Paint as well.

10
eob 4 days ago 0 replies      
I think the first ad says "I'm just another giant corporation who wants your money."

The second ad says "I'm a human being, probably with a sense of humor"

11
corin_ 4 days ago 1 reply      
Possibly one of the most exaggerated headlines I've ever seen, and that's saying something.
12
chops 4 days ago 1 reply      
This is definitely interesting. I know I'd be more inclined to click something that looks like that ridiculous paint drawing. But this bit bothered me:

Results? 0.049% CTR vs. 0.137 CTR

I hope I'm not the only one confused by this, but the lack of a percent symbol on the 0.137 means he went from 0.049% to 13%, an improvement of almost 300x.

Is this a typo? Did he mean to say he increased his CTR to 0.137% or did he actually increase his CTR by 300x?

Edit: Why is this being downvoted? It's a legitimate question.

13
jcampbell1 4 days ago 1 reply      
Is it just me or did anyone else find the first ad terrible and the second one quite good? I think I have been in the game too long.

One of my favorite ads of all time was the stick drawn fat girl with the secret to losing weight. I am sure the person behind that ad has a serious bank account.

14
hkuo 4 days ago 0 replies      
This is hilarious, but it doesn't take into account one of the major factors of online advertising, and that is branding, or brand awareness. While the official EA ad may not get as many clickthroughs, what it will get is subconcious eyeballs, and given enough impressions of the same ad in various formats, same EA logo, car, game title and branding, you don't need people to click on the ad to start to recognize that there is a new Need for Speed game available. It's similar to flooding the airwaves with a particular TV ad. The goal is awareness, which over time, can lead to a purchase, whether the person decides at some point to purchase online or offline. Maybe they're at GameStop and EA has placed an in-store display with the same EA Need for Speed branding. The person may have forgotten about the game, but walking in to this GameStop, they're memory is refreshed of it by being previously exposed to it through digital or television.

So in short, what's more important? Immediate click-through satisfaction or building real brand recognition that can show greater returns over time, mostly in ways not calculable?

15
powermeat 7 hours ago 0 replies      
I have been running facebook ad campaigns for over a year now and consistently found that by hand writing something in paint on a relevant image, i get much better ctr than just the relevant image.
16
lucasvo 4 days ago 0 replies      
The problem is, that this only works because it's so completely different from all the other ads and because of that reason escapes some of the banner blindness.

We've had similar results when we modified our logo and added mistakes. For example a rectangle Google AdSense Banner with a mirrored version of our Logo or just some crazy saturation affect applied on top of it actually got excellent CTRs. Even though it was kind of unnerving to have all my friends tell me about the mistakes that were in our ads...

17
tomkin 4 days ago 0 replies      
I love this kind of social experiment. There are a few theories as to why this resulted in a higher CTR. The obvious ones to me are:

1) "Look at the pretty picture!!"

2) "What the hell? EA is allowing this ad? Did they make it? I gotta see where this goes!"

3) Alternate to "Banner blindness", as @jonnathanson pointed out.

In 1 & 2, I feel like the higher CTR wouldn't matter because people are acting on curiosity of the implementation rather than the product. Once the outcome was revealed, and the banner is seen as no more than a trick, I'd be willing to bet that the orders or pre-orders of the game (in this case, playing for free) stayed roughly the same as if using the other banner. Just a hunch.

18
valhallarecords 4 days ago 1 reply      
I work with many MBA colleagues and whenever they encounter an ugly, but effective (ie. converting) ad, they can never drop their egos to accept that such an ad can work. They just feel they cannot "stoop that low" to adopt these techniques.

They would often blindly push for "simplicity", "sparse text", "nice picture", and when these ads go out to market, they get absolutely crushed.

One of the tragedies of a big wealthy company is that marketers can continually go out with these crappy creatives that don't sell and there really is no big consequence. It is often written off as a "learning opportunity".

Whereas if you look at the ads of people whose lifeblood depends on selling their product, they may not be the most attractive ads, but the ads that persist over time tend to be effective (ie. they sell). These guys need to eat, and they can only afford to make stupid ineffective ads for so long before they starve! So there are definitely some practical lessons that can be learned from them. They often knowingly or unknowingly follow the principles of advertising legend David Ogilvy.

Their ads tend to hit on direct marketing best practices:

- headline states in plain language what the product does (ie. no MBA jargon/buzz words)

- headline also hooks the reader to read a bit more

- it is clear who the product is for

- copy combats any objections in reader's mind

- no distractions that divert reader from clicking the "Join Now" button

- contains customer testimonials reader can relate to (ie. social proof)

- gives reader enough information on the page to make a decision (ie. none of this sparse text BS if it doesn't make sense)

19
ilamont 4 days ago 0 replies      
As joblessjunkie mentioned, novelty is a huge draw. I've seen ads on Facebook, Yahoo and MSM sites (probably delivered by ad networks) that feature eye-catching faces with some ridiculous or unusual element (long beards, tattoos, elongated teeth etc.), but are advertising something that's pretty mundane (loans, online education, etc.). They are much more noticeable than ads that use standard art or photographs.

Judging by the fact that the advertisers are still using weird face ads, the CTRs must be superior ... but the interesting questions would be around the type of customer or conversion rates.

20
dclowd9901 4 days ago 0 replies      
I kinda take issue with his thesis:

"Every idea that you have is worth testing, no matter how crappy you think it is."

It took him all of 45 seconds to put that new test ad together. That is a very, very small time investment, thus making such a test worthwhile.

For instance, if one wanted to create some sort of live-action commercial with actors, lighting, equipment and CG, and test it as an ad, the investment of time and money would be so great that negative results would be disastrous.

21
creamyhorror 4 days ago 0 replies      
If you guys think this ad is on to something, you really should see the ads put up in the SomethingAwful Forums (general subforum: http://forums.somethingawful.com/forumdisplay.php?forumid=1 ). The interesting thing is that many (I'd estimate more than half) of the ads are put up by forum members themselves, making for a range of very informal, hilarious, parodic, often obscene ads that play to every stereotype ironically and knowingly, sometimes made shittily with MSPaint.

And where do those ads lead? Usually to a forum thread where members are playing/raiding an MMO together, or discussing a topic of great interest, or selling a service like painting portraits, web hosting, or resume editing (and in one or two cases, to a discussion of a particularly zeal-inspiring anime series).

Some purely parodic examples can be found here:

http://acapella.harmony-central.com/showthread.php?2332472-A...

And here is the current roster of ads, though many are from external advertisers and hence less funny:

http://forums.somethingawful.com/adlist.php

(Note that "goons" is the moniker for forum members, and many ads target them specifically with "goon discounts" and so on.)

Marketers with an attitude and something of a free hand could take a leaf from them.

22
SeoxyS 4 days ago 1 reply      
I remember seeing this ad (or one similar) in the Draw Something game a few days ago.

The context here helps immensely, I think. Draw Something is a game that's about crude drawing, showing an ad that's a crude drawing is the ultimate targeted ad.

23
wilfra 3 days ago 0 replies      
I bought a mini-site that monetizes with AdSense and made over 300% more than the previous owner by making the ad units ugly. The only reason I did it was because I didn't know how to customize the ad units to match the rest of the page like the previous owner had, so I just left them with the standard white background that made them look terrible. I kept meaning to figure out how to fix it but after about a month I noticed the huge spike in revenue and left it. The gains have stood for several years.

Conclusion: Ugly ads that catch your attention have a far superior CTR.

Here is the site: http://www.starbuckslocations.com

24
benpof 4 days ago 0 replies      
FIRST: tylerrooney, thanks for posting my blog on Hacker News! Much appreciated. Judging from the comments, we've got some super knowledgeable people here.

So to clarify, this was simply a CTR case study, I know there's another side of the coin for CVR but that would have taken more time and funds than I would have been willing to allocate :(

But hey, open invitation the community here: If you want to submit a 310x110 ad for the purpose of testing against the same demographic that I did, feel free to email it to me: ben@pof.com. I'll run it for a few days and I'll let you know how well your ad did :) And to make it worth your while, highest CTR ad (from Hacker News members ONLY) gets $100 credit to advertise on https://ads.pof.com. AND you can use your affiliate links so if you make some coin, it's yours to keep (Put it towards your Diablo 3 pre-purchase, yeah? lol) Just grab the direct link for Need For Speed World from your favorite network and send it over. And hell, if your ad beats mine, I'll post it on the POF blog, with your permission of course.

End date for this little challenge.... April 30th?

25
Cor 4 days ago 1 reply      
This has been known about for a long time; ugly sells.

People are more likely to trust something that looks amateur since it feels more like a recommendation than an advert.

Mr.Green, a well renowned CPA Marketer/Blogger, wrote a brilliant article about this. You can find it here - http://www.mrgreen.am/affiliate-marketing/the-ugly-truth/

26
TelmoMenezes 4 days ago 0 replies      
Cool, but I prefer the second one because I don't care about cars. To me the first one is very boring, the second I could click out of curiosity (just because it made me smile). Problem is: do you really want me to click that ad? Because I won't care about the game.
27
gghootch 4 days ago 1 reply      
I wonder if the inspiration for this test was directly taken from Max Teitelbaum's interview @ mixergy?

Search for 'paint' and you'll find the relevant passage.

  "Andrew: Give me an example. I'd love to. 
When we started media buying, we saw stock raising.
We saw what all the brands were doing. We needed
something really flashy, something really clean.
When I made something in Paint, as a joke and sent it over
to the guys, we just threw it up as a test, and it
quadrupled the conversion rate of anything else.
After that, I think we made every banner in Paint."

http://mixergy.com/teitelbaum-whatrunswhere-interview/

28
Shpigford 4 days ago 0 replies      
I question _conversion_ though. Sure, the first ad had a lower CTR, but if you click on it, you almost certainly know what you're getting.

With the second it's very much "Haha, I wonder what this stupid ad goes to?" and then you just abandon it.

CTR means nothing without a conversion of some sort on the other side.

29
mbesto 4 days ago 0 replies      
I know that Ads are all about attention gathering and the first one largely suffers from ad-blindness. Don't need to 'throw out everything I know'.
30
methoddk 4 days ago 0 replies      
The EA logo is why they weren't clicking the first ad. I don't know about other people, but I avoid EA at all costs.
31
benmanns 4 days ago 0 replies      
I think it's critical to not lose track of buyer motives and end goals when testing ads.

If I were clicking on the first ad, I would do so with the intention of downloading Need for Speed. The second ad, I would click to answer the question, "Who made this crappy paint ad? It's pretty unique."

If you are paying per click, the first ad is going to perform better and will give more relevant traffic. If you are paying per impression and just care about traffic, the second wins.

32
K2h 4 days ago 0 replies      
Is no one worried about the image and association you create by the advertising campaign? I kind of feel like you dilute the overall brand value by going with low stupid tactics - it may create value in the short term, but does that translate into a stronger brand in the long run just because it has more people?
33
yaix 3 days ago 0 replies      
To me, overly styled ads just look like there will be some sort of marketing lie after clicking it, so why bother.
34
Father 4 days ago 0 replies      
There's a perfectly good explanation for this. Eye tracking tests show that people ignore images and read around them (unless there's a human face in it). That's why text ads work better, in most circumstances anyway. The color of the second ad is lighter, and probably matches the background of the page better, making it less of a block and lowering the barrier to crossover and read the text.
35
tnash 4 days ago 0 replies      
I think this goes to show that we like low information density. Simple things are easier to absorb, high density things get blocked out naturally.

When we're presented with an large amount of information, our brain blocks it out rather than expending the energy to parse it. PTSD is an example of this which shows our tendencies to block overwhelming information.

36
TechNewb 4 days ago 0 replies      
The second example fits POF's aesthic more, he should do all ads like that, along with some simple GIFs. Very cool!
37
bgruber 4 days ago 1 reply      
i think this says more about testing than about ads.

update: i'm trying (and apparently failing) to imply that this article makes me question the idea of "test everything" rather than bolster the idea (the article's conclusion).

38
zackattack 4 days ago 0 replies      
So the question becomes:

How do you blend novelty with timeless sophistication?

39
droob 4 days ago 1 reply      
That first one has some serious hierarchy problems, and the type is really hard to read.
40
aoprisan 4 days ago 1 reply      
there's a difference between high CTR and high conversion..
41
SolarUpNote 4 days ago 0 replies      
I'm a big fan of "mistakes". They really jump out at you.
42
mk_fox 4 days ago 0 replies      
The second ad is more "entertaining" in my opinion. Also "Ad Blinded-ness" might have caused the first ad to just go unnoticed among all the other ads. Being untypical helps on the web. But also, the point is that you cannot expect patterns to predict success always. The first ad was based on a pattern. Now, if we study the second ad for a pattern it might not work as well. Man, I love the web for this.
43
vagarwa 4 days ago 0 replies      
post facto analysis - easy. (business types need jobs too!)
predicting consumer behavior - hard.
44
warrenmiller 4 days ago 1 reply      
0.137 CTR is seriously low regardless, 0.049% CTR is incredibly low!
8
The Royal Canadian Mint just announced a new alternative to BitCoin mintchipchallenge.com
346 points by jonny_eh  4 days ago   168 comments top 41
1
jimrandomh 4 days ago  replies      
This is a big step backwards from the security of Bitcoin. All someone has to do is break open the hardware and extract its key (or take its key with a side-channel attack) and they can double-spend money. That's problem one. Bitcoin's entire byzantine protocol exists entirely to solve the double-spend problem, and it works, while this doesn't.

Every MintChip has an ID, and every transaction is logged on both the sending and receiving device with the ID of the other device. This means that if someone takes your chip, they get a complete record of every transaction you've ever made. In other words, it's not anonymous at all. That's problem two. Bitcoin solves this by encouraging users to generate a new address/private key for every incoming transaction, so that matching up addresses to people is hard.

It's tied to single physical devices which can be lost or damaged. This makes them unsuitable for storing savings. Bitcoin wallets, on the other hand, can be backed up securely.

Both MintChip and Bitcoin can be stolen if the attached device is compromised. Bitcoin is designed in a way that makes it possible to fix that, and developers are working on a fix: multi-signature transactions (so you have several computers, or a computer and a phone, and all of them must agree to any outgoing transaction). MintChip, however, cannot solve this problem in any way except with chargebacks, and the documentation given so far indicates that they aren't supporting that.

2
cs702 4 days ago 5 replies      
The MintChip is not even comparable to Bitcoin: it's not decentralized; it's not resistant to a Byzantine Generals-type attack; the supply of coin is not fixed; security is implemented via "tamper-proof" (ha-ha) hardware... the whole scheme looks rather hackable. IMO it's not a real alternative to Bitcoin.

This strikes me as an attempt by the Royal Canadian Mint to disintermediate credit card companies by offering a new, low-cost, "irrevocable," centrally-controlled payment system.

3
oskarpearson 4 days ago 7 replies      
In the spirit of "extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof", has anyone verified this?

Problems:

1) No mention on the Royal Mint website that I can see. News releases seem to normally be on http://www.mint.ca/store/mint/about-the-mint/news-releases-7...

2) Whois should probably point to Royal Mint, not this person's house, and not to a hotmail address.

Administrative Contact:
Zaykova, Vessela
vessyz@hotmail.com

Address:
131 Camelia Ave, Ottawa, Ontario, K1K 2X5
This is a suburb. Streetview: http://bit.ly/HMFiMB

3) Domain is registered through GoDaddy, which IMHO is a bad sign... like having a hotmail address ;)

4) Site T&C say the site is operated by ChallengePost.

ChallengePost has been listed on techcrunch: http://www.crunchbase.com/company/challengepost

ChallengePost.com has their domain registered through GoDaddy though, so perhaps I'm wrong about that signal :)

5) No mention on the ChallengePost blog at http://blog.challengepost.com/

6) Vessela Zaykova does apparently work for the Royal mint though, according to http://ca.linkedin.com/in/vessela

So - very interesting news, an inadvertent early leak, or very elaborate hoax?

Oskar

4
mindstab 4 days ago 1 reply      
http://developer.mintchipchallenge.com/devguide/differentiat...

So current hardware solutions like visa and debit are secure because they use a trusted 3rd party. And not anonymous.

Bitcoin traded trusted 3rd party for trusted cloud (its p2p nature) and so was still not really anon if you put in any effort.

This is supposed to be 3rd party-less, fully anon. So thats a lot of trust in the hardware. It does seem uniquely vulnerable in ways we haven't before seen with visa and debit or bitcoin.

5
gravitronic 4 days ago 0 replies      
Edit: The headline is really misleading (and subsequent comparison to bitcoin). A much better analogy is that this is paypal with hardware tokens capable of completing transfers offline. You are transferring canadian dollars.

From a 2-minute introduction this looks like it's based on trusted computing in offline situations, since you don't need cloud acceptance of a transacation ala bitcoin.

If that's the case, there's nothing making this unhackable.

I wonder what's the timeframe before we see a illicit "client" that creates value transactions without deducting from the user's balance. There will certainly be a huge effort to create such a thing.

update as I read more: It's optionally an SD card or a USB stick. clever way to interface to most every existing phone/laptop!

6
mindslight 4 days ago 1 reply      
"Trusted" hardware for a monetary system in 2012 ? (Did the Yes Men create this site for April Fools?)

With the backing of a bank, it's possible to be anonymous, offline, and prevent double spends with standard user-trustable computation - really, I kid you not.

http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/summary?doi=10.1.1.46.4...

7
DanI-S 4 days ago 2 replies      
This is interesting, although the dependency on hardware seems to open a large can of worms. Judging by the security overview[1], ensuring security of the hardware will be a complex and ongoing task. Bitcoin's use of p2p here saves a lot of fucking around, and cuts out a lot of middlemen.

I wish there were a middle ground - institutionally backed bitcoin. I suppose there will be, once all the mining is done and ownership becomes consolidated.

[1]http://developer.mintchipchallenge.com/devguide/ecosystem.ht...

8
elchief 4 days ago 3 replies      
when did the Royal Canadian Mint become innovative? drop the penny. start bitcoin 2. go canada!
9
evincarofautumn 4 days ago 1 reply      
Is that…a stock photo of code?

    /**
* Creates a new demo.
* @param o The object to demo
*/
public Demo(Object o) {
this.o = o;
String s = CONSTANT;
int i = 1;
}

That aside, this is basically a good idea with laughably poor execution. Other comments have addressed that it's centralised and non-anonymous, can be double-spent, is not fault-tolerant, and (perhaps worst of all) is a fiat currency without fixed supply. There could indeed be a superior alternative to Bitcoin, just waiting to make the leap into the mainstream"but this is not it.

10
j45 4 days ago 0 replies      
Oh, Canada. Seeing stuff like this is exciting. Seems to be lining up along side the alley of NFC.
11
noduerme 4 days ago 0 replies      
As tech founder / owner of a Bitcoin casino, https://StrikeSapphire.com, I think this is great. If it's real. And if the Royal Mint doesn't stick their nose into how we change cash. And if our users can remain more-or-less anonymous, and transactions can stay free, and we can change it out without paying a rake to the Canadian government, and there's no risk of double-spending or chargeback or backdoors in the client that let one government or another come in and raid your funds when it suits their interests.

Nothing on their website gives me confidence that any of those issues have been addressed, or will be. And in truth, the idea that a national government would open up an unmonitored currency for System-D sounds just-William-Gibson-enough to be plausible, and just too Neal Stephenson to not deserve a rimshot.

What's a lot more likely is that this is a big-ass trojan horse for the media to make sweet love to for the next few months while castigating Bitcoin for supposed flaws, and eventually deeming it "unsafe", followed by "illegal", for the general population. It's a PR stunt to compete with BTC in the eyes of a non-technical public. And it'll probably work - for a non-technical public.

But the flaws in a system like this will likely become apparent much more quickly than, say, the flaws in the Federal Reserve system did. Nothing with a backdoor, closed code or centralized "trusted distributors" stays safe for long these days. I really had to laugh when I saw their nifty graphic over here:
http://developer.mintchipchallenge.com/devguide/ecosystem.ht...

But we're not biased. Hell, we'll start accepting the junk if it's as good as they say. Let the best currency win.

12
msgr1 4 days ago 2 replies      
And a software dev challenge to go with it where you can win $50K in gold bars. http://mintchipchallenge.com
13
javajosh 4 days ago 1 reply      
I have a theory, newly formed. And this seems the best place to share it, because this motley collection of minds generally knows their stuff and won't hesitate to tell me I'm wrong. :)

The only two meaningful categories of currency are "large" and "small". Large currency is cash, coins. It can be manipulated with the hand, verified by the eye. "Small currency" is expressed as microscopic state, and requires complex tools to observe, verify, etc. Both bitcoin and mintchip are microscopic currency. Computers function, then, first and foremost, as a kind of microscope.

My theory is that small currency is only as secure as the microscope used. And 'microscopes' expressed on computers are themselves expressed 'in the small', requiring other microscopes to verify, which can in turn be subverted. It's subvertable microscopes all the way down.

What is the solution then? You need a cheap, 'trusted' microscope/small wallet from a single source. It needs to be cheap so that it can be replaced frequently (lost or stolen). It needs to be from a single source because if trust is ever broken you need to get it from a different trusted source.

Also, it would be smart to limit the amount on a single device to being less than or equal to the cost of physically defeating the device.

Mind you, the MintChip "microscope" is incomplete: it requires a host system to do user interaction. Which, in my view, will always be the primary weakness of any small currency. All you need to do is write a dummy program to fool a user into believing they received the money, and you've won. And that's trivially easy.

14
charlieok 4 days ago 0 replies      
Why must the article use this headline when the article explicitly says that it isn't actually anything like Bitcoin:

“Bitcoin offers currency from a decentralized source, whereas RCM's solution is from a centralized authority.”

15
lbotos 4 days ago 1 reply      
So they want people to build apps using mintchips? Essentially Stripe/Paypal/Dwolla using this tech? I'm kind of confused by this.

The only differentiating factor here is the currency is "mintchips". How much more creative can you get with a checkout when we are only changing the "backing" of the numbers that are moving around?

16
codesuela 4 days ago 1 reply      
Maybe it's just me but I feel that a Royal (Canadian) crypto-currency won't find widespread adoption among cyberpunks.
17
ChristianMarks 4 days ago 0 replies      
[Loose] change is good, this is better. Apparently, pennies weren't good enough for the Royal Canadian Mint either. Incidentally, after the crash of 2008, Joseph Stiglitz wrote that "change ... has no inherent value."
18
rdl 4 days ago 0 replies      
I don't see any point behind an offline electronic cash system; they barely made sense in the 1990s, and once there was ubiquitous Internet, made even less sense.

They only make sense for transit (or other one-way systems, not peer to peer), and there, providing Internet at the point of sale is easy.

19
jerf 4 days ago 3 replies      
It's interesting and I think there's tantalizing hints in there that they may have learned from BitCoin, but there doesn't seem to be enough detail in there to analyze it. Anyone know of some?
20
el_presidente 4 days ago 0 replies      
From: http://developer.mintchipchallenge.com/devguide/evolution.ht...

Unburdened by the need for a proprietary network, MintChip offers a cost effective solution to consumers and merchants and enables easy person-to-person payments.

So, it looks like, this is the government's attempt to compete with Interac. The site claims it's a replacement for cash, but the last time I used cash was maybe two weeks ago to pay for a coffee. And I know some people who use a prepaid card to buy coffee.

21
wcoenen 4 days ago 0 replies      
Somebody submitted a patent application[1] about a year ago in Europe for a very similar system called fairCASH[2]

[1] http://faircash.org/fileadmin/dateien/fairCASH_Patent_Applic...

[2] http://faircash.org/

22
sull 3 days ago 0 replies      
Good timing for this type of official initiative. Makes me wonder if this could lead to a Consortium of World Mints to share the same vision and cost and arrange a trusted network of Backers and Brokers. Or if this will be the new Space Race with countries competing on the tech and implementation and quality of network participants etc. Could be a mess like many standards based efforts. Then there is the issue of the patents that RCM has and how that plays into the global evolution of this effort. It may end up just being a Canadian solution for Canadian Currency.

Though BitCoin is related, I don't see a a reason to inject it into this particular thread. BitCoin is its own beast with different goals... in fact... opposite goals (while using some similar technologies). BitCoin is happy as the backbone of an edge economy and not a competing system with centralised solutions like MintChip (which has decentralised aspects as well but not the core foundation).

23
wcoenen 4 days ago 0 replies      
One of the judges for the "challenge" is David Birch. He recently spoke at a Bitcoin conference: http://bitcoinmedia.com/eurobit-david-birch-next-generation-...
24
unabridged 4 days ago 0 replies      
They didn't create an alternative, they just built the "last mile" for Bitcoin usage. A government backed anonymous currency that will most likely be accepted throughout canada and hopefully the world, that can be freely exchanged with bitcoin in a short amount of time. Anyone will be able to build an exchange.

MintChip = checking account, Bitcoin = savings account

25
jaysonelliot 4 days ago 3 replies      
tl;dr please - is it anonymous?
26
jonny_eh 4 days ago 1 reply      
The most confusing part of the site is that it's not clear how they turn goats into MintChips.
27
Khao 4 days ago 1 reply      
http://mintchipchallenge.com/index.php

The 404 page is horrifying.

28
bdg 3 days ago 0 replies      
I could never put my trust into an entire online currency if it wasn't open-source. Does anyone else worry about this as well?
29
adrianwaj 3 days ago 0 replies      
Why don't they just create a new bitcoin blockchain and have every new 'goldbit' bitcoin backed by a physical gold coin? Someone should do this. So somewhere is vault filled with gold coins that people have used to buy their goldbits.
30
kruhft 4 days ago 0 replies      
I wonder if it has Linux support. If not, that's my submission to the competition.
31
npollock 4 days ago 1 reply      
Are there any details on how the supply of this new currency is going to be controlled? I'm all for innovation in payments and currency, but isn't there the same risk as with all fiat money - that a central body can debase the currency at will?
32
untog 4 days ago 0 replies      
Uh... it isn't a web site about the MintChip. It's a competition to get people using the MintChip. The title of this post is badly phrased as it might lead you to think you're getting something different.
33
newman314 4 days ago 0 replies      
Cash is anonymous. For any digital equivalent, I think this would be a key requirement to have.
34
pyre 4 days ago 0 replies      

  MintChip value can be stored and moved quickly and
easily [...] by physically tapping devices together

Ugh.

35
tokenizer 4 days ago 0 replies      
Does anyone know what they mean in the Javascript API docs when they mention that it's only supported by Microsoft Windows with Microsoft .NET Framework 2.0 or higher?
36
caycep 4 days ago 0 replies      
the EVE online denizens are going to have a field day w/ this...
37
SagelyGuru 4 days ago 0 replies      
Any scheme that makes it easier to further inflate the money supply(=debt), especially one like this that avoids even the minimal inconvenience of printing cash, is sure to be welcomed and promoted by the banksters.
38
Canada 4 days ago 0 replies      
License fail. Read it. It's ridiculous.
39
naughtysriram 3 days ago 0 replies      
I would just use cash.
40
brunoqc 4 days ago 5 replies      
Why not use BitCoin?
41
marnysmith 4 days ago 0 replies      
Accept the challenge! http://mintchipchallenge.com/
10
Love hotels and Unicode reigndesign.com
323 points by gioele  5 days ago   54 comments top 11
1
davidw 5 days ago 2 replies      
I loved the idea of the slides interspersed with text. Just posting slides is usually lame, because you lose out on the actual talk, which contains most/much of the actual information.
2
bgruber 5 days ago 2 replies      
i had never before read about the unicode flags, and the rather (politically and technically) brilliant end run around the problem. fascinating.
3
derleth 5 days ago 3 replies      
When he says byte-order marks are optional, does he mean just in UTF-8 (where they are) or also in UTF-16 (where I strongly suspect they are not)?

(Yes, you can use heuristics to guess which endianness is in use. The problem is that while this is trivial for Western languages I don't even know how you'd begin when presented with arbitrary text using an East Asian or African written language.)

4
guard-of-terra 5 days ago 1 reply      
Minor point: I see copy-paste from wikipedia about ISO-8859-5.
It's unfortunate since nobody ever used ISO-8859-5. They probably should change it to ISO-8858-something-else in the wikipedia article.
5
vorg 4 days ago 0 replies      
> Every character, or to be more exact, every "grapheme", is assigned a Unicode code point.

Every character is assigned a Unicode code point. The Unicode consortium defines a grapheme as a "user perceived character", usually made up of one Unicode code point, but sometimes two or more. A base character can be followed by one or more non-spacing marks, together forming a "grapheme", the most common of which usually have a "canonical mapping" to a single character, but need not.

6
sbierwagen 5 days ago 2 replies      

  ASCII was actually invented in the US in the 1960s, as a 
standardised way of encoding text on a computer. ASCII
defined 128 characters, that's a character for half of the
256 possible bytes in an 8-bit computer system.

Uh? Wouldn't it be easier to just say that it's a 7-bit coding system? And what does he mean by "256 possible bytes in an 8-bit computer system"?

7
brown9-2 5 days ago 2 replies      
Does anyone happen to know what the arguments for big-endianness versus little-endianness in the Unicode format were?

I've never really understood the advantage of one over the other, but this section on Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Endianness#Optimization helps explain that there are optimizations that can be made at a hardware level when performing arithmetic on little-endianness values.

Is the argument for using LE in Unicode similar?

8
davvid 3 days ago 0 replies      
The one thing he forgot to say is, "If you have to choose an encoding, use utf-8."

Someone who doesn't know the difference between utf-16, utf-8, etc. might not know which to use.

9
mavroprovato 5 days ago 1 reply      
Mirror from Google cache, but unfortunately text only:

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

10
adavies42 5 days ago 0 replies      
i'd've noted that endianness is hardly unique to unicode.
11
akrifa 5 days ago 0 replies      
This was a fantastic read. Thank you!
11
When the cops subpoena your Facebook information, here's what FB sends the cops thephoenix.com
283 points by tilt  1 day ago   109 comments top 20
1
haberman 1 day ago  replies      
I recently served on a jury for a violent crime, and as a juror being able to see evidence like cell phone records and closed circuit video was incredibly valuable. Cases that would have otherwise been a matter of "he said, she said" can have corroborating evidence that makes it much easier to be convinced beyond a reasonable doubt. I wondered how prosecutors managed to convict at all before these kinds of electronic records were available.

I'm not downplaying privacy concerns, but when you can see thing from the other side too it's easier to see it as a set of trade-offs that need weighing. It's not a black and white issue.

EDIT: Also remember that evidence can help the falsely accused just as easily as it can help victims of crime. Phone records can give a person an alibi that would otherwise have been very difficult to prove.

2
xxbondsxx 1 day ago 2 replies      
It's incredibly ironic that The Phoenix censored out identifying information of Markoff's friends, but left all the event / profile ID's in the browsing history section. You can easily go back to a 3 year old event:

http://www.facebook.com/events/46300108330

And view who attended, or view the profile he viewed on February 18th 2009:

http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=16104623

Kind of creepy to say the least. I'm surprised they made such a huge mistake. Knowing which profiles he stalked before committing his crime is even more sensitive than just friendship connections in my opinion.

3
phillmv 1 day ago 2 replies      
I skimmed the document. Nothing terribly damning, or that you wouldn't suspect that FB would hand over.

No, the part that creeps me out is when they start being able to hand over my political preferences and ideological bents and how likely I am to consume drugs based solely on how I am friends with.

"Your honor, members of the jury, the evidence is clear: based on phillmv's social graph, he's 83% likely to be a stark raving socialist capable of committing precisely this sort of crime. As we all know, Facebook cannot lie!"

4
ChuckMcM 1 day ago 3 replies      
It makes one wonder how many people will create a fictional facebook 'experience' which is to say spend time building up an alternate identity in various social sites so that in the event they are charged with a heinous crime they can confuse the jury and make it seem 'out of character.'

Surveillance works best when it isn't scripted.

5
alanh 1 day ago 0 replies      
Here's a PDF version I created: http://dl.dropbox.com/u/105727/fb-subpoena-db/fb-subpoena.pd...

Or view as a web page with JPEGs: http://dl.dropbox.com/u/105727/fb-subpoena-db/index.html

(What is more absurd than releasing information like this in SWF format and only SWF format…?)

6
runn1ng 1 day ago 1 reply      
Huh. That's funny.

One would think what special secret information facebook has on its users - where they are, what do they click to over the site, what sites do they visit even outside the FB site, but nope, it's just that - the data people wrote to the system themselves, voluntarily. Maybe with their public IP, sometimes.

Maybe I am skipping something, but there is nothing one wouldn't reasonably believe Facebook has on you and would give to the police.

edit: oh. I did miss the browsing history section.

...yeah. That is kind of creepy.

7
draebek 1 day ago 1 reply      
Did anyone else notice the 172.23.8.44 "login IP" on the third page? What does it mean that the login IP is a non-routeable address? Is that some kind of IP in use inside FB's network?
8
soulclap 1 day ago 1 reply      
Where are the private messages though? Did Facebook hold them back? Should be the most interesting (and well, most private) bits. (Sorry, I am in a bit of a hurry right now and only had a quick look at the article and the provided document.)

And a bit off-topic, but related: does anyone know if Twitter actually deletes direct messages or are they just not visible on the website any more?

9
vectorpush 1 day ago 0 replies      
It's conceivable that law enforcement could legally obtain any information that is stored on any disk, even the disk inside your local machine.
10
Foy 1 day ago 0 replies      
Don't forget about Max Schrems from Austria.
He got Facebook to send him on their data on him (at least most of it)

I couldn't find the original news article I read when it first came out but here seems to be a good summary of what he found out:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kJvAUqs3Ofg

While this may not be identical to what cops would receive from a subpoena request, it shows at least part of what Facebook knows about you.

11
MichaelGG 13 hours ago 0 replies      
Interesting that things like photo tagging is stored in a changing timezone (some are PDT (UTC-7), some are PST(UTC-8)), whereas for the access logs, they state that everything is PST.

Why would they be storing/using time in a timezone anyways?

12
jstalin 1 day ago 4 replies      
That's the last straw. I haven't done anything with my Facebook page in a while, but now I'm just going to delete it.
13
sneak 1 day ago 0 replies      
What about extrajudicial requests like NSLs? I bet they get far more of those.
14
tacogordito 1 day ago 1 reply      
Am i correct in seeing (page 54) that Facebook logs every single mouse click you make within facebook? That's pretty intense.
15
justhw 1 day ago 3 replies      
I am 3 seconds away from deleting my account, but before I do that I would like to know if fb actually deletes my account and everything I've generated on there. I have a feeling that they just insert a "deleted=True" in the database. In that case I don't want to delete my account, because I'm merely giving up my right to log in.

So, do they completely remove my account information, or do they just mark me deleted?

16
rabidsnail 1 day ago 0 replies      
Has anyone tried the last session cookie in the access log? It's probably been invalidated, but then again...
17
loverobots 1 day ago 0 replies      
Wow, so our dear friends and FB save even our deleted posts?? What the...
18
ghshephard 1 day ago 0 replies      
Not visible on an iPad. Rare you run into a newspaper that ignores that part of their audience.
19
avallark 23 hours ago 0 replies      
If you are frantically looking around for a link to "DELETE" your facebook account, here it is :

https://www.facebook.com/help/contact.php?show_form=delete_a...

I did this just a month ago.

20
TazeTSchnitzel 1 day ago 0 replies      
Resembles the contents of the zip file you get if you click the button on Facebook to download your entire personal data (yes, it exists. It generates huge HTML pages of all your messages, wall posts, photos etc)
12
Show HN: Clutch.io helps you build iOS apps fast and update them instantly clutch.io
285 points by ericflo  4 days ago   88 comments top 31
1
ericflo 4 days ago 2 replies      
We originally launched an app called "Can'tWait!" and we ended up having a really hard time iterating fast on the product after it was launched. Little-by-little over the course of several months, we ended up building all of this syncing and hybrid-integration stuff to help us iterate faster. At some point we realized we had gotten so much faster with these tools, that we had to make them available to everyone. Clutch.io is our MVP for bringing those tools to the world.
2
DrJokepu 4 days ago 3 replies      
Really cool stuff and I'm not trying to sound negative, but I can't help but think that if you guys get successful with this product (which I hope you will) one of your customers will sooner or later use it to work around the App Store submission process in order to violate the rules in a very visible manner (say for instance, to push porn to the App Store) and in response Apple will decide to reject every app based on your tool in the future. Do you think this is a possible course of events? Are you prepared for it somehow?
3
objclxt 4 days ago 2 replies      
I think it's an interesting product, but one of the biggest arguments for web technologies on native apps is reducing the cross platform burden. Your example uses Parse as the data backend - I think Parse would be far less well received if it only supported iOS. I wonder if you're considering supporting additional platforms?

"Update your apps without pushing updates to the store" is a good problem to solve...but if you're going to extrapolate your native logic and encapsulate it in JavaScript I'd hope the next step might be an Android library to complement the iOS one.

4
lukifer 4 days ago 1 reply      
The business model seems a little odd; I assume by "monthly users", you mean end users? And the only plan that supports unlimited users is custom-priced? I'm loving the platform as a concept, but to have a cap on the total number of users feels strange and scary.

What happens if I go over this cap? Do users who stop using the app still count against the total? What about a single user with 2+ devices?

5
bmelton 4 days ago 1 reply      
Wow. It hardly seems like there's been enough time between Convore and this for this to look as solid as it does. Grats ericflo and company.

Any ideas on an approximate time table for when the Android version might be expected? (ballpark is fine, months vs years is the kind of answer I'm hoping to find.)

Offtopic, I feel like I should start a poll for who says "sue dough" vs "sue doo". It struck me as funny when I heard it in the video backwards from how I say it.

6
dave1619 4 days ago 2 replies      
Your pricing is seriously flawed IMHO. I was really interested in the concept of Clutch.io because we struggle with iteration speed on the iOS platform. But we've got users in the millions and it's scary what "custom" is going to charge. In the iOS/Android world, there are lots of apps with millions of users and I don't think you're pricing model reflects that. And it's not if you have millions of users that your app is raking it in either. It might be a free app and making nominal ad money, which a significant portion seems it would go to pay for Clutch.io.
7
janj 4 days ago 1 reply      
The pricing seems funny. The Gold plan is more than twice the price of the Silver plan but you get only twice the product. Similar but worse when going from gold to platinum.
8
matclayton 4 days ago 0 replies      
Awesome idea, I've wanted something like this for iOS/Android for a long time. It would be nice to have a self hosted version, with a one off fee.
9
kbutler 4 days ago 0 replies      
It sounds like it lets you build native apps with updatable HTML/JavaScript extensions.

So in the spectrum of native <-> web-app, this is closer to native, like Titanium (but more so?) and PhoneGap (now Apache Cordova) is closer to the web-app side.

It differs from the others in that it provides the dynamic update capability and is intended to be embedded as a part of a native application, rather than being the full application.

10
charlietran 4 days ago 2 replies      
Solid landing page and probably a neat service, but my good impression of your company deteriorated when I saw an image scroll by with "go fuck yourself" at 0:38 in your demo video. I'm all for lowbrow net humor, but its place is not within an otherwise professional looking site.
11
IanDrake 4 days ago 0 replies      
Neat idea. Pricing: The more end user seats you buy, the more expensive they are? Doesn't seem right.
12
rabc 3 days ago 0 replies      
Cool! Another way to build crappy iPhone apps with HTML!

App Store rules exist for a reason. There is better ways to make them reduce the approval time by not creating workarounds to build your app with limited HTML.

13
Sujan 3 days ago 0 replies      
In the imgs source html files there is always this call to http://127.0.0.1:41676/target/target-script-min.js#anonymous see https://github.com/boilerplate/imgs/blob/master/clutchimgs/a...) If I am correct this is weinre. Is this normally a part of production apps of clutch.io?
14
Sujan 4 days ago 1 reply      
Nice.

I don't agree really on your definiton or usage of "hybrid". For me, your are just a different form of hybrid. Let me explain: With Phonegap the "shell" or container is native, the rest is webview. So this is "hybrid".

If I got your approach right your container includes a bigger bit of native logic and you sparkle some smaller html webviews through the apps. So Phonegap apps tend to be "little container, much webview" while yours are more "much container and app, little webview". Correct?

But this is a detail, I still like the concept and page.

15
kissuidotnet 3 days ago 0 replies      
Looks really good!

1)really solid landing page! *really got me
2)love the "hybrid chart" (not being a techy, I got it)
3)I agree with some of the comments that I wasnt clear "where this fits", "Are you hosting files for us? Or just providing a sdk?" - but i sorta get it now.
4)It would be cool if I can build an APP entirely with Clutch.IO - though, I get it that Clutch.io isnt about that.

Anyway. Thank you for doing such a great job with the site, et al!

16
motti_s 3 days ago 0 replies      
Pushing updates is slow for a reason - it's because Apple wants to approve everything.

I don't mean to sound negative but I see two scenarios, non of which is great:

1. You become a huge success and Apple is unhappy about people avoiding their scrutiny.

2. Apple doesn't mind you because you have limited traction.

Having said that, I love the way you implemented it. Very clever!

Good luck!

17
Sujan 4 days ago 1 reply      
You mention the facebook app directly on the line between hybrid and multi-platform (https://clutch.io/clutch-hybrid/). Do you know an examination or break-down of the facebook mobile app (or any of the others you mention in the graph) where I can read about how these apps really do it?
18
matt312 3 days ago 0 replies      
You folks may want to all-out forward clutchio.com to clutch.io. I curiously tried it out, and some may find Chrome's security alert scary.
19
alwillis 3 days ago 0 replies      
First, congratulations; this looks very impressive. Just signed up.

Second, how does this compare to Mulberry: http://mulberry.toura.com/? I used Mulberry once at a hackathon and was able to create a decent demo app in a few hours using only web development tools and techniques.

Thanks.

20
markmccubbin 4 days ago 1 reply      
Eric, firstly I love your site, very nice landing page.

I'm curious on why a developer would want to pay for your solution to what seems like a problem that most can easily solve themselves with very little investment ? (Dynamic updates, pre-caching HTML/JS and presenting it locally for rendering).

The second component you offer on first blush is the JS wrapper / bridge to the native UI widgets which although might be nice to have most seasoned developers may find it a hard sell.

Cross platform would be compelling although the concern there being that the JS bridge is (obviously) iOS centric and may be difficult on other platforms ( Android / Blackberry / win 7 ).

Like I said, looks great I'm just curious what the value add would really be for a high volume application where cost to develop would be less than the pricing you offer (which is also of course recurring).

21
dwynings 4 days ago 1 reply      
Clutch.io would be even better if they offered the ability to easily do A/B testing.
22
mmmmax 4 days ago 1 reply      
This is f-ing awesome, nice work. How long have you been working on it?
23
ianlevesque 3 days ago 0 replies      
Beautiful site, and neat idea, but I feel like we're all ignoring the elephant in the room here. Developers absolutely cannot use this service to deploy apps to the App Store. Right in the published review guidelines:

"2.7 Apps that download code in any way or form will be rejected"

This clearly violates that!

24
kinnth 3 days ago 0 replies      
Looks quite nifty but the app costs are really high! For a decent iPhone app your now looking at launching at free and you want to be in the millions of MAU and 100,000's of DAU to be a serious contender. This would make the app a very expensive service to base your service on?
25
js4all 3 days ago 0 replies      
I just tried your tutorial. It was a smooth ride. Everything worked great: creating the initial app, adding a screen and pushing updates.
26
dain 4 days ago 1 reply      
If we use your service do you have any terms for selling an app on the store? Do we have to give you a % or can we just freely do what we wish/if we pay your service?
27
js4all 3 days ago 0 replies      
So does this work for iPad or universal apps? If so, what needs to be changed?
28
ajasmin 4 days ago 2 replies      
Didn't Apple have some rules preventing apps from downloading code from the Internet?
29
botj 4 days ago 0 replies      
Ironically, the video cannot be played on a stock iPhone.
30
arturhoo 4 days ago 1 reply      
I'm new to iOS development, can you briefly explain how your solution differentiates from the following:

Sencha Touch, Appcelerator Titanium and Phonegap

Thank you!

31
hippich 4 days ago 1 reply      
IMHO, whole selling point of app store was manual, rigid review framework for each app. Now, even if Apple will not ban all apps built on top of clutch.io, quality of apps in store degrade for sure.

Strict apps review process is a feature, not a bug (i am actually "apple hater", but I see why app store successful)

13
Google Announces Project Glass plus.google.com
268 points by indiefan  4 days ago   102 comments top 35
1
jasonlotito 4 days ago 6 replies      
What this will provide for disabled and autistic people is amazing. It's too easy to get caught up in the "social sharing" part of this and forget that something like this can really help change people's lives.

Edit: To expand a bit, take an autistic adult that wants to do something, like go to the movies. It's simple for us, we wash up, get dressed, go outside, go down the straight, hope on the 132 Bus for 3 stops, get off, walk 2 blocks, pay for tickets, and go into theater number 5. For someone with autism, they can struggle with things like this. These glasses provide them with visual cues base upon their location, so when they finally do get to the theater, the glasses can show them what to do next, and give them that visual cue.

Currently working on an app for tablets for this sort of things, but having it work in glasses would be simply amazing. God, what I wouldn't give to be apart of this.

2
cwp 4 days ago 5 replies      
Very cool. Except...

They forgot to show the "Ukulele $350" ad that pops up when he looks at the book. Also, "Monsieur Gayno Boxed Set - $24.95", "Feet hurt? Try walking shoes from Reebok!" and "John Smith for Mayor! I'll make the trains run on time."

3
ryandvm 4 days ago 6 replies      
I dunno, maybe I'm a Luddite but I don't think the tendency to never be disconnected is good for the human psyche. I know that personally my own mental well being tends to suffer if I don't let myself have considerable stretches of time where I'm not consuming any information.

Also, though cool, the video is probably a pretty inaccurate representation of what that tech would actually get used for. It shows some guy getting directions, scheduling events, and meeting friends. Nice enough, but the reality is that, like most mobiles, it's probably more likely to be used for Facebook addiction and sending pointless text messages.

[I guess the answer is "yes", I'm becoming a Luddite.]

4
dhughes 4 days ago 1 reply      
99% of the technology is having a really good connection either wifi or your phone company's wireless data.

I remember when I got a Nexus One and tried showing off the Google Translate app to co-workers; one Japanese, one Portuguese, one Bosnian but it took so long to connect it was embarrassing. I managed to get some Japanese translated after about 10 minutes.

Now I have a Samsung Galaxy S 2 (translate still sucks) through my phone company it has HSPA+ (21Mbps) but I have yet to consistently get anything above 3Mbps, I tend to get 1Mbps.

Also imagine this in a movie theatre or some place where they claim everything is copyrighted place or even walking towards police in a country where taking video of police could get you arrested.

It seems simple enough but holy can of worms Batman!

5
nextstep 4 days ago 3 replies      
I know it has been said a thousand times, but Google could really take a cue from Apple on how to launch a new product. The "closed beta" approach generates a good deal of hype, but prevents early adopters from buying or using your product, which is insane! Google is tipping their hand to the competition. It may seem far-fetched that anyone else is working on a wearable computer like this, but I guarantee Google is not alone. If Google is slow to bringing this to market (which wouldn't surprise anyone), then this announcement gives Samsung/Apple/lots of others a chance to catch up in a potentially new market.

Ugh. Google, you have so many cool ideas and so little business acumen.

6
metatronscube 4 days ago 0 replies      
This is great an everything, but I think Google really needs to concentrate on many of their half baked solutions they currently have. I am a huge fan of Google, but with their whole social drive recently and this (their take on augmented reality which to be honest just looks like another was of wrapping you into their facebook clone rather than providing any real context aware information) I'm beginning to feel they are really loosing it. I just bought a chromebook (as a lightweight browsing machine) and im massively disappointed because its just such a terribly laggy, glitchy and frustrating experience. Its very quickly becoming a 300 quid paper weight.

Google have many brilliant sounding pie in the sky ideas, but when it comes down to it they have to really ask themselves, will people actually be able to use this? Is it really worth chasing after this or will they concentrate their efforts and resources on other more achievable things.

7
zalew 4 days ago 0 replies      
"one that helps you explore and share your world, putting you back in the moment."

uhmm, am I not in the moment when I walk the streets without popup notifications on my eyes?

8
zinssmeister 4 days ago 0 replies      
the video makes this technology look awesome. But I am still skeptical to how well it will actually work.
9
drostie 3 days ago 0 replies      
How do you solve the most obvious problems of focus? Is there a really strong lens on the front of this thing?

I keep thinking of this problem when I hear about things like heads-up contact lenses and so on. It is a tremendous eyestrain for me to focus on anything within a meter, and so I'm often relaxing my eyes by looking away from my laptop at distant things. Within 10-20 cm or so it is extremely difficult to focus on anything; within 10cm it is actively impossible.

So are they really using a lens that can make a 1cm-away display look like it's 100cm away?

10
forgotusername 4 days ago 0 replies      
Guessing this may be the first technology I'll make fun of my kids for using. The mock-up looks pretty cool is any case.
11
johnpolacek 4 days ago 1 reply      
If you're into this stuff, check out Steve Mann, who's been doing wearable tech since the 80's:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steve_Mann
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DiFtmrpuwNY
12
mdwrigh2 4 days ago 0 replies      
13
pslam 4 days ago 0 replies      
"Not in-game footage".

Just like the Google tablet mock-up video vs reality. Anyone can craft a mock-up video. Not everyone can execute on it, and in recent years Google isn't doing well on that score.

14
nkassis 4 days ago 1 reply      
This reminds me of "Use the force Luke". I hope people don't start walking around with things like this all the time. I feel like in a 10 years people will walk around talking to themselves all the time and acting quite odd for today's standards ;p (I still find the people talking on handsfree cells phones weird at times.
15
ashishgandhi 4 days ago 1 reply      
A little off-topic. "Articles" like these make me think Google+ has become a blogging platform more and a social network less.
16
eli_gottlieb 4 days ago 1 reply      
This looks ridiculous.
17
sown 4 days ago 0 replies      
We're living in the future now.
18
waterlesscloud 4 days ago 1 reply      
I didn't see any situation in this video where glasses would be superior to what I could do on my phone now.
19
qxcv 4 days ago 0 replies      
The entire photo-taking thing is a bit funny - with the price of storage the way it is, there probably isn't much harm in leaving the camera recording by default and have the user turn it off temporarily if they wish. There's no telling how many amazing photos you could take in a single day with technology like that.

I guess the flip side of that coin is the massive surveillance potential if these glasses are controlled by a third party like mobile phones are; they're even worse than mobile phones because they spend most of the day on your head rather than in your pocket.

20
itsmin 4 days ago 0 replies      
please say I'm not the only person who thought of the "eyePhone" from Futurama.
21
adziki 4 days ago 1 reply      
oh man, someone needs to trademark iGlass NOW
22
option_greek 3 days ago 0 replies      
I hope they will do something about people who already wear glasses for various reasons. May be project images on to existing glasses ?
23
hcarvalhoalves 4 days ago 1 reply      
Great. Now we'll have Google Ads projected into our retinas.
24
JohnFritzen 3 days ago 0 replies      
25
naughtysriram 3 days ago 0 replies      
This looks like a copy of TEDx Sixth Sense by Pranav Mistry.

http://www.ted.com/talks/pranav_mistry_the_thrilling_potenti...

26
dasmoth 4 days ago 0 replies      
Videos are fun and all, but I want an SDK!

(Seriously, even if it's still pretty crude...)

27
edge17 3 days ago 0 replies      
where is the hardware? (processing hardware, power supply, and antennas)
28
clipped 3 days ago 0 replies      
prediction: by end of 2015 these will be as popular as iPhone and iPad. the future will have arrived : ) woohoo. http://clippedcomic.blogspot.ca/2012/04/google-glasses.html
29
sreyaNotfilc 4 days ago 1 reply      
Why didn't the guy just use his glasses to purchase the ukulele book from an online source? Say, Google Play?
30
fatjokes 4 days ago 1 reply      
This is super cool and all, but it's all fun and games until someone walks in front of a car.
31
TechNewb 4 days ago 0 replies      
Prescription retro style inspired glasses please.
32
septerr 3 days ago 0 replies      
And I bought sunglasses today. Dang.
33
hornbaker 4 days ago 0 replies      
Googly Eyes(tm)
34
agentgt 3 days ago 1 reply      
Its too bad Microsoft's not doing this. I was rather hoping for Clippy to make a comeback ;)

For those that don't know Clippy: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Office_Assistant

35
pragmatic 4 days ago 2 replies      
What percentage of the population wears glasses now? If you believe the 150 million (1) number, than less than half the population.

How many people can you convince to wear glasses that do not normally?

What about sun glasses? Will I need two pair of Googgles (2)? One for day, one for night?

Do you really think young women (or men) are going to wear these things?

My bet is that this project goes no where with Google in its current form. If anyone has a chance, it's Apple. Apple is the only large company with enough style to make something like this cool/socially acceptable.

If you can make the Camera etc, invisible, then that's a whole different story.

1) http://www.aao.org/newsroom/press_kit/upload/Eye-Health-Stat...

2) my term

14
Notch's Specification for the In-Game DCPU-16 0x10c.com
258 points by pros  4 days ago   170 comments top 25
1
phoboslab 4 days ago  replies      
Now here's an interesting bit:

"Question: can we trade the programs we create? How will you stop malicious viruses etc?"

"yes. And I won't stop viruses, the players will have to do that themselves."

~ https://twitter.com/#!/notch/status/187474819980328962

2
unwind 4 days ago  replies      
Just waiting for the first post about programming this CPU to pop up on Stack Overflow ... :)

It's quite an interesting architecture. From an initial perusal, I found these features note-worthy:

* Explicit access to PC as a register, makes "computed goto" trivial and very natural.

* Because of the above, there is no JMP instruction.

* Treating operations on registers as "values" makes the instruction set very orthogonal.

* No instructions for bit-manipulation.

* Lots of possible NOP instructions, like "SET PC,PC" (which I think should work, depends a bit on exactly when it's incremented but it looks safe).

* Word-addressed memory will make string processing interesting to implement. Maybe in space, everyone uses UTF-16.

* Single 64 K address space will put quite the limit on the amount of code, I guess the game will show how much code is needed to do anything.

* No I/O instructions means I/O must be memory-mapped, further reducing the space available for code. Maybe there will be bank-switching?

* No interrupts.

3
SideburnsOfDoom 4 days ago 2 replies      
Context:

For those who are puzzled (as I was) as to what this CPU is for, I found this:

> Notch's next game, 0x10c, "will allow players to create their own spaceship in the far, far future of an alternate universe ... More exciting - especially for those versed in programming languages - is the ship's computer. It's a fully-functional 16-Bit CPU that controls the entire vessel..." http://www.dealspwn.com/notchs-space-trading-game-real-calle...

Also:
http://www.theverge.com/2012/4/4/2924594/minecraft-creator-n...

http://0x10c.com/

4
evilpie 4 days ago 1 reply      
Just for fun, I wrote a disassembler for his instruction set.
https://gist.github.com/2300590

I previously wrote some assembler routines for x86, which is very complex, working with Notch's design is a breeze and actually enjoyable.

Does he somewhere mention if the code is loaded into the RAM? This would make self-modifiable code possible.

5
SimHacker 4 days ago 1 reply      
Can't wait to see FORTH running on this CPU!

FORTH ?KNOW IF HONK ELSE FORTH LEARN THEN

6
davedx 4 days ago 1 reply      
I guess we'll be able to write our own malware to take over other peoples' ships, then? Pretty awesome, just call me Locutus :)
7
sp332 4 days ago 0 replies      
Here's some work (not mine) on a third-party implementation in Go :) https://github.com/kballard/dcpu.go/tree/master/dcpu
8
DanBC 4 days ago 2 replies      
This might be a stupid question but where does the output go? Is it just a memory location? And does that memory location map to a "ship function"?

So, er, on a PC if I write data to address 0x378 it'll appear on LPT1. What's the equivalent on DCPU-16? If I write data to a certain address it'll appear on the missile bay ports?

Or is there a level of abstraction?

9
clavalle 4 days ago 0 replies      
I created a subreddit for this interesting aspect of 0x10c if anyone is interested:

http://www.reddit.com/r/dcpu_16_programming/

10
acron0 4 days ago 2 replies      
I will admit, I used to think Notch was just a regular-joe programmer who had gotten extremely lucky with his strain of adventure game.

Now I know I was dead wrong.

11
overshard 4 days ago 1 reply      
I wonder if it's just me but this game has me more excited about programming in ASM than I ever have, ever...

Also in this game I feel like I'll be playing the reverse role I play in real life. IRL I generally always advocate using things like Python and open sourcing everything. In this game I'm definitely going to pull a Steve Jobs, hire out a few friends of mine to program my ASM apps and sell them in some kind of Market for insanely marked up prices telling people that my Orange(TM) software is so much better than Macrosofts(TM)! (And it will be!)

12
rcamera 4 days ago 0 replies      
For those interested, there is a C based implementation of Notch's DCPU-16 in github: https://github.com/swetland/dcpu16

I haven't tested it much, but it seems to work pretty well.

13
uvdiv 4 days ago 1 reply      
I'm not sure if it's well-specified. What does this do?

    JSR POP

Does the argument POP (or [SP++]) get evaluated before, or after, the "[--SP] <- PC" implicit in JSR?

14
Symmetry 4 days ago 0 replies      
I've been tempted to learn Verilog, looks like I might have a fun project to start here, trying to pipeline this. If I were writing the instruction set I'd be tempted to put all the value codes for next word or PC next to each other so it would be easier to figure out at decode state if the PC would be doing anything wonky, but that isn't a huge impediment or anything. The instruction boundary problem with regards to going super scalar looks as bad as it is in x86, but that's straying pretty far from the design goals.
15
duaneb 4 days ago 1 reply      
I'd be interested to see details on memory protection. Self-modifying code means evolutionary programming, which I am very much for.

Conditional branching is strange.

16
Florin_Andrei 4 days ago 0 replies      
I'm guessing someone is already working on a real-world version of it in an FPGA. Just for fun.
17
ekosz 4 days ago 2 replies      
I'm not a low level programmer, but could someone tell me if you could write a LLVM backend for this CPU? If one does that, could it not then work with many programming languages that support LLVM?

http://llvm.org/docs/WritingAnLLVMBackend.html

18
rg0ne 4 days ago 1 reply      
That compulses me to take Compiler class next semester, and write a C compiler for this precious fictional CPU.

And what about creating this cpu?

19
JEBailey 4 days ago 1 reply      
I follow most of what's occurring within this document, but there's a bit that's throwing me and I hope someone can shed some light. When you're processing the step

SET A,B

Does A have to represent a register, or is it a memory location or is it both and the registry is just a location in ram?

20
lukesd 4 days ago 0 replies      
Hey guys. If you're interesting in discussing this, head on over to #0x10c-dev on Freenode!
21
mappum 4 days ago 0 replies      
I'm making a compiler/executor for it: https://github.com/mappum/DCPU-16.
22
chj 4 days ago 1 reply      
I think he should just use PDP8 ISA, just 6 instructions, even stupid people can manage that much.
23
kierdavis 4 days ago 1 reply      
Is there an official assembler for this yet, or shall I roll my own?
24
rplacd 4 days ago 0 replies      
Ready - steady - port tcc!
25
hobojoe 4 days ago 0 replies      
Ok. Start coding now please.
15
Keeping Instagram up with over a million new users in twelve hours instagram-engineering.tumblr.com
254 points by mikeyk  3 days ago   47 comments top 17
1
sciurus 3 days ago 1 reply      
A slight tangent, since I saw that instagram are using both Graphite and Munin- Collectd just added a plugin to send metrics to Graphite. You might want to try it for tracking your machine stats over time.

http://collectd.org/wiki/index.php/Plugin:Write_Graphite
http://collectd.org/

2
lenn0x 3 days ago 1 reply      
What kind of instances are you guys running for Redis/memcached? I am a bit surprised on the numbers here, but to be fair I don't do much in the virtualization world. With low cpu overhead, it sounds like you might be saturating the number of interrupts on the network card if it's not a bandwidth issue. Memcache can usually push 100-300k/s on an 8-core Westmere (could go higher if you removed the big lock). Redis on the other hand with pinned processes to each physical core can do about 500,000/s. We (Twitter) saw saturation around 100,000~ on CPU0, what tipped us off was ksoftirq spinning at 100%. If you have a modern server and network card, just pin each IRQ for every TX/RX queue to an individual physical core.
3
statictype 3 days ago 1 reply      
Isn't there a risk with EBS snapshots that the snapshot of a live instance could have been taken while your db engine was in the middle of a transaction and leave the data in the newly spun instance in an inconsistent state?

Is it that EBS snapshots are engineered to prevent this? Or just that it's not likely to happen in practice?

4
terhechte 3 days ago 0 replies      
Congratulations. Really impressive how solid you handled the Android onslaught.
5
peterwwillis 3 days ago 2 replies      
Why use Graphite instead of Ganglia? Ganglia uses RRDs. It's been around forever, it's fairly low on resource use, it's fast, and you can generate custom graphs like with Graphite. I actually ended up doing some graphs with google charts and ganglia last time I messed with it. (Also, nobody has really simple tools to tell you which of your 3,000 cluster nodes has red flags in real time and spit them into a fire-fighting irc channel so we had to write those ourselves in python)

"Takeaway: if read capacity is likely to be a concern, bringing up read-slaves ahead of time and getting them in rotation is ideal"

Sorry but this is not 'ideal', this is Capacity Planning 101. If you're launching a new product which you expect to be very popular, take your peak traffic and double or quadruple it and build out infrastructure to handle it ahead of time. I thought this was the whole point of the "cloud"? Add a metric shit-ton of resources for a planned peak and dial it down after.

6
ganilb 4 hours ago 0 replies      
I am curious to find out why there was a need to develop your own C2DM server - what was lacking in Google's C2DM server? I am a C2DM newbie so pardon my ignorance.
7
EAMiller 3 days ago 2 replies      
What sort of hosting do you use for your main Pg (and Redis) instances?
8
zupreme 3 days ago 0 replies      
Thanks for OpenSourcing Node2dm. I think I'll take that for a spin this weekend.
9
8ig8 3 days ago 1 reply      
> We use the counters to track everything from number of signups per second.

Per second... It must be quite a moment when you reach this point.

10
gflarity 2 days ago 0 replies      
We use statsd, graphite, redis and node as well. You might be interested some of my projects relating to these:

https://github.com/gflarity/nervous
https://github.com/gflarity/response
https://github.com/gflarity/qdis

11
jurre 2 days ago 1 reply      
Very interesting read, but doesn't New Relic do all these things for you? Maybe it's not possible to use with their setup?
12
bond 3 days ago 1 reply      
Does anyone has some info on the architecture required to maintain a service like this? Servers, db, etc?
13
jcastro 3 days ago 1 reply      
What OS are you deploying on EC2?
14
Sujan 3 days ago 1 reply      
Thought about adding a tool like newrelic.com to your toolset?
15
kunalmodi 3 days ago 1 reply      
are you guys sharding redis? or does it all fit in a single machine?
16
nodesocket 3 days ago 1 reply      
Great stuff, love node2dm, and didn't know about statsd + graphite.
17
drivebyacct2 3 days ago 1 reply      
What percentage of processing power is spent on making me look like a hipster?
16
Postgres 9.2 will feature linear read scalability up to 64 cores rhaas.blogspot.com
253 points by chanks  5 days ago   106 comments top 8
1
rosser 5 days ago 4 replies      
As much as I love PostgreSQL (and I do; it's put food on my table for the last decade), I have to stress that this linear-ish scalability needs both pg >= 9.2 and a Linux kernel >= 3.2. It seems to be a combination of the lseek(2) changes in the kernel, and the lock contention/handling changes in the db.

That is: if you're running on an older kernel, you probably won't see quite as much gain.

2
ww520 5 days ago 2 replies      
Database vendors typically charge by the number of cores. 64-core can get really expensive with database licenses. The hardware cost has decreased drastically over time but database licensing are still in the dark age. Postgres 9.2 has real competitive advantage here. Hopefully it would force the other vendors' licensing cost down.
3
vladev 5 days ago  replies      
To me, Postgres is the most underestimated database. Not sure if this is a bad thing...
4
robomartin 5 days ago 2 replies      
Is there such a thing as a suite of standardized performance tests for large-scale, multi-core databases? How are people comparing Cassandra, PostgreSQL, mySQL and other options against each other for raw performance?
5
bsg75 5 days ago 2 replies      
With this improvement, how much is Postgres hampered by a lack of a parallel query processor?

For OLAP work, it seems to be the primary bottleneck.

6
gtaylor 5 days ago 1 reply      
Yikes, that's a lot of cores. Glad to see the Postgres team keep pushing the scalability envelope.
7
ww520 5 days ago 1 reply      
That's awesome. I have to admit I have always know Postgres is great and toyed with it but never used it in a real project, due to the availability of MySQL or client preference. I'll try to put it into the current project. Client wants Oracle since they already have Oracle license, but I will change the requirement to support Postgres as well.
8
verminoth 5 days ago 1 reply      
I'm new to all of this, so does this mean that other databases don't have this kind of performance?
17
C.S. Lewis on Writing lettersofnote.com
244 points by taylorbuley  5 days ago   65 comments top 18
1
danso 5 days ago 10 replies      
>> In writing. Don't use adjectives which merely tell us how you want us to feel about the thing you are describing. I mean, instead of telling us a thing was "terrible," describe it so that we'll be terrified. Don't say it was "delightful"; make us say "delightful" when we've read the description. You see, all those words (horrifying, wonderful, hideous, exquisite) are only like saying to your readers, "Please will you do my job for me."

My high school journalism teacher (and I'm sure many others) phrased this as "Show, don't tell". I wish all writing/journalism classes devoted a week to this precept.

2
ctdonath 5 days ago 1 reply      
"5. Don't use words too big for the subject. Don't say "infinitely" when you mean "very"; otherwise you'll have no word left when you want to talk about something really infinite."

This is why I object to most usage of cursing in writing (see recent threads on the subject). Using the most extreme language for relatively mundane situations leaves you nothing to work with when extreme language is warranted. Ex.: using the phrasing "go the f^@& home" (see thread of same name) in a mundane discussion about work hours really is pretty pathetic insofar as it wastes & deflates extreme language better used where more appropriate, such as describing the feeling of having your rib cage pried open with a car jack (been there, done that, f^@& applies).

(Some of us suffer net-nannies, so pardon the veiling.)

3
shin_lao 5 days ago 3 replies      
One of the best books you can find on the topic has been written by Stephen King and is called "On Writing".

The first part is a small auto-biography as he states that "to understand writing you must understand what happens in the life of a writer".

The second part is full of clever and useful advices, including ones close to the one in this article.

Even if you don't like the author, you should really read this book if you're serious about writing.

http://www.amazon.com/On-Writing-Stephen-King/dp/0743455967

4
adriand 5 days ago 0 replies      
My four-year-old says "I amn't". I correct him with "I'm not" but I've long felt his usage made logical sense. But I never realized it was at some place and time an accepted usage! Amazing how the brain acquires language and independently applies its rules.
5
eavc 5 days ago 2 replies      
Lewis was an amazing man. A more serious scholar and thinker than most who know about him today would probably expect, a brilliant writer, and he did things like respond to all of his fan mail and give away the lion's share (pardon the pun) of his works' profits.
6
stcredzero 5 days ago 2 replies      
Contrast with Heinlein on writing: "Writing is not necessarily something to be ashamed of, but do it in private and wash your hands afterwards."
7
GiraffeNecktie 5 days ago 0 replies      
This is one of my favorite sites and always the first thing I read when I see there's something new in my RSS feeds. Kurt Vonnegut's letter on book burning published last week was also great http://www.lettersofnote.com/2012/03/i-am-very-real.html
8
nikcub 5 days ago 3 replies      
Point 1 is not the worst point

Point 2 could be additionally descriptive

Point 3 -peaked- (piqued!) my interest

Point 4 was awesome

Point 5 should be universally implemented

ps. related: http://www.orwell.ru/library/essays/politics/english/e_polit

9
azarias 5 days ago 0 replies      
Read the 5 points again, except now imagine he is talking about writing code.

A lot of it makes sense...In fact, I say Tim Peters lifted half of the Zen of Python from Lewis :)

10
karlalopez 5 days ago 1 reply      
CS Lewis was quite effective in his CRM. That's just awesome.
11
grepherder 5 days ago 1 reply      
>> 3. Never use abstract nouns when concrete ones will do. If you mean "More people died" don't say "Mortality rose."

Am I the only one that doesn't agree with this, at least in general? I mean, the idea behind the advice is of course sound, just a basic form of keep it simple stupid. But in this case, why? This isn't engineering, it's about communication of thoughts. And thoughts can be abstract. I find I can think more efficiently and also more rationally when using abstractions, especially ones I'm familiar with. Just like chunking in memory, there is data I have ready when you speak of mortality, instead of trying to explain to me in plain words that people die.

That said, it might just be me (or people like me). I have to constantly make a conscious effort of writing and speaking less abstractly, just to not annoy people. It might have to do with the fact that English is not my native tongue, and as I don't use it in my daily life, I lack the touch for concreteness to make sense to me that easily.

12
evincarofautumn 5 days ago 0 replies      
#4 could be summed up as “show, don't tell”. It's much easier to say what you mean than to convey it in an interesting way. “Creating Short Fiction” by Damon Knight mentions this as well, and goes into great detail about the difficulties of fiction writing and how to surmount them. I thoroughly recommend it.
13
ams6110 5 days ago 1 reply      
Nobody's mentioned The Elements of Style, a great little handbook on how to write clearly.
14
grn 4 days ago 0 replies      
His 4th point reminded me of Solzhenitsyn's One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich and Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four. Both made a great impression on me. When discussing them with my wife she observed that they didn't give you what you ought to think and feel. They just showed you and your feelings and thoughts were your own and not of the writer.
15
sampsonjs 5 days ago 0 replies      
How about some advice from a better writer? Like "Politics and the English Lagnuage": http://www.mtholyoke.edu/acad/intrel/orwell46.htm

"(v) Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word, or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent."

Like saying "orthogonal" when you mean "unrelated".

16
gregorymichael 5 days ago 0 replies      
I have too many educated friends who write by maxim "Never use a short word when a polysyllabic one will do".
17
username3 5 days ago 0 replies      
v. nice practical writing advice
18
wmdmark 5 days ago 0 replies      
Good stuff.
18
Building a Product: One month later, $119.50 in the bank projectorpm.com
239 points by bdunn  5 days ago   83 comments top 23
1
jasonkester 5 days ago  replies      
Awesome. And definitely don't be discouraged that you're only bringing in $100/month.

The product that I'm currently living comfortably off of made me less than half that much after its first month. Don't think of it as $100/month, think of it as $100/month/month. That's your current acceleration, and it extrapolates out quite nicely!

Here's a more carefully worded version of my take on products like this:

http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=3052661

2
dsrguru 5 days ago 1 reply      
Nice post! Just a UI suggestion, you want to make it as easy as possible for readers of your blog to learn what your product is about. Currently, clicking on the big blue "Projector" text only brings you to the blog's home page, not the site's home page. There is a small link at the very top of the screen that says "Learn more about Projector," which does take you back to the home page, but you might want a more prominently placed button, image, or text link. The big blue "Projector" text really looks like it should take you back to the site's home page, and I actually thought for a moment that /blog was in fact the same page I'd get to from the root of your site.
3
chrisacky 5 days ago 1 reply      
Fantastic product.
Just signed up with a throwaway and had a brief play.
It was all really intuitive. No real problems really.

You should also try and show that you aren't just for companies who might have multiple projects on the go. We only have a single product and could see the benefit of something like this as a very rudamentary issue tracker and feature suggestions between the team.

- What kind of a roadmap do you have (features primarily)?

- How long has it taken you so far?

4
XLcommerce 5 days ago 1 reply      
Awesome! Must be such an amazing feeling to receive that first payment. I'm about a month away from my first launch and I'm terrified of launching and then hearing.... crickets. So congrats to you!

Had a look at the product. Looks v.solid. Just a couple of things:

- When I attach a file via /projects/project_name/stories/ it completes the upload then the files seems to disappear? What I mean is that the progress indicator goes to 100% and nothing else happens. Then if I go back to root and back to stories there is no file.

- I think you need labels on the 4 symbols on the left hand side. The only one which is self evident is the '?'. The others I have to hover over to find out about and that is annoying from a UX pov.

Cheers and good luck :)

5
redguava 5 days ago 1 reply      
I hope people don't get too hung up on the numbers thing to miss out on the great advice you give. With all the factors that contribute to a startups success, I think this post really nails some critical ones:

- Create a list of people interested before you launch

- Be proactive with support, consider it a sales tool

- Have a great first use experience, that's when people are deciding to use your system.

Great post and well done on your success so far.

6
robotmay 5 days ago 1 reply      
Nice to see Projector on HN; I'm one of the paying users (well, my company's paying).

I've found it to be a much better fit for my workflow than Pivotal/Basecamp etc. Brennan's been great at looking for feedback and keeping in touch with everyone so far (even if I am lax at replying). There's some real speed behind updates and it's improving every day.

Aside: Didn't sign up just to big the project up; I do have another account on HN which has been around longer, I just try not to associate my real name and nickname.

7
iambot 5 days ago 0 replies      
This actually looks really good. Congrats on the profit and good luck going forward. Good Article too, (saved for later)
8
joshuahedlund 5 days ago 1 reply      
How did you manage to get 500 subscribers before launch? Marketing? Leveraging existing networks? SEO?
9
philip1209 5 days ago 3 replies      
Worth it to discover Intercom - looks quite useful. I just wish it could directly access my tables.
10
robryan 5 days ago 0 replies      
I am a big fan as well of not bothering to verify emails at the early stage. I figure that if I hit a problem with someone spamming my signup I can deal with that when it comes. Until then though having as little friction as possible is a great thing.
11
EREFUNDO 5 days ago 0 replies      
That is why people who have no drive to become entrepreneurs think that people like you are insane.....they're just missing the gene to "get it"....
12
euroclydon 5 days ago 1 reply      
Congratulations on getting it off the ground.

I searched through a few pages of your blog archives looking for your customer acquisition strategy, specifically search and ads. Can you tell us anything about that?

13
mootothemax 5 days ago 1 reply      
Great work! And I must thank you for introducing me to Intercom as well! :)
14
edwinnathaniel 5 days ago 1 reply      
Congratulations on your launch and getting your first few customers.

Would you mind to share your strategy on entering a crowded market (in this case, project management tools)?

Did you do any market research on your competitors?

15
giberti 5 days ago 1 reply      
Great post! Nice to see others are looking at the long term plays and building great products. The post was refreshing to read and validates much of what I experienced over the last year building my apps.
16
oinksoft 5 days ago 1 reply      
Just a small note, your website breaks the back button. It would be nice if it did not break the back button though.
17
erictarn 5 days ago 1 reply      
Congrats on your launch! Our first month, we had 9 paying customers, so very similar to you. But like the one commenter said, keep posting honest posts!
18
wildmXranat 5 days ago 0 replies      
That's good money. If that keeps up, with modest growth, you can count on a steady side income.
19
follower 5 days ago 1 reply      
Often I see the advice of "charge more", in light of that, the "Agency" plan at $99 per month seems low and makes me wonder if you could charge more.
20
chubs 5 days ago 0 replies      
Congrats! This kinda post is what keeps HN alive for me :)
21
zarroba 4 days ago 0 replies      
Congratulations on your product. It really sounds awesome.
Since this post on HN got a lot of attention do you have any stats on the number of sign-ups from here?
22
marcelfahle 4 days ago 0 replies      
Great story and great advice. Congrats on the app! I love when people not just talk and actually execute.
23
jcshep 5 days ago 0 replies      
Congrats. I've been working on a SaaS web app for awhile now but I've become my own worst enemy when it comes to just finishing the damn thing. Thanks to your story I'll be getting back to work on it.
19
Hotel Wifi JavaScript Injection justinsomnia.org
236 points by phwd  3 days ago   76 comments top 21
1
henryl 3 days ago  replies      
I am a co-founder at a startup that does advertising on WiFi networks. We only run advertising before you connect (when you are in a captive portal), without the use of proxying.

Before anyone overreacts to this article, it would be beneficial to understand the hospitality space. The hotel you stayed at is most likely owned by a franchise group and operated by a GM. GMs are responsible for contracting their own networking services with Hotel WiFi Operators such as the one mentioned here. As such, a major hotel brand such as Marriott may use hundreds of WiFi operators. WiFi operators range in size, managing anywhere between one property to tens of thousands. The vast majority of these operators do not leverage javascript injection.

The ones that resort to proxied ad injection do so because hotel IT is a thin-margin business. WiFi is considered a cost center but is tolerated because it is the number one amenity requested by guests. Operators will sometimes offer a discounted service fee to the hotel GM in exchange for mid-stream ads, although, in this case, it is just as likely that the hotel GM is unaware of this. It is almost absolutely certain that Marriott is unaware of this. Even if they were made aware, the power balance between the brand and the franchisee is not clearly defined with regards to WiFi.

As much as I dislike ad injection, it is important to note that public WiFi is never safe unless you are using a VPN. It is offered as an amenity, one that GMs would be more than happy to get rid of if they could. Unlike with your broadband ISP, you have logged into a privately operated network. You are probably not paying for it. You are subject to their rules. Furthermore, when you signed onto the WiFi network, you most likely had to check a checkbox indicating your agreement to the terms of their network (which no one ever reads). As such, caveat emptor, etc.

2
minimax 3 days ago 1 reply      
The hotel wifi service provider business is (and has been for 5+ years) a really crummy race to the bottom. Hotels don't want to do it themselves. They can't really; they don't have the talent in-house. It's fairly expensive to do correctly. Most hotels weren't built with cat-5 installed, so you have to pay someone to go do that. Then you have to install a bunch of networking gear which isn't cheap. Then you have to pay someone to monitor it all and come out and fix it when it goes down. You probably also want some 1-800 number your guests can call when they can't get on-line. The costs add up pretty quickly.

So how do you pay for it all? You're in a hotels.com price war with all your competitors, so you can't just raise room rates. Your customers will get pissed off if you tell them they have to pay extra for wifi. So eventually some genius comes along and gives you this brilliant idea that will make wifi pay for itself, and this is what you get.

3
MiguelHudnandez 3 days ago 2 replies      
There is nothing related to WiFi in this system. The hotel is running the traffic through a transparent proxy which is performing MITM "attacks" to disable ads from providers and show their own ads.

It is icky for all sorts of reasons. I suppose an individual website could consider it theft of ad revenue, and an end-user could consider their privacy invaded.

4
olalonde 3 days ago 2 replies      
My ISP also does this. Once in a while I get a pop-over ad in the bottom right corner of HN. As a matter of fact, I just got a pop-up to this ad: http://219.238.235.221/shenzhenyocc/swf.html
5
SeoxyS 3 days ago 1 reply      
This is one of the many reasons to use an extension that forces SSL on every website that supports it.

It's possible to MITM SSL, but it would throw all kinds of security warnings on the client and prevent this kind of tampering.

Note: I'd recommend SSH tunneling, or using a VPN, but there's quite a bit more work involved here, so for the install-and-forget crowd, SSL is already a huge improvement.

6
mcpherrinm 3 days ago 1 reply      
This is yet another reason I'm glad that SPDY is manditory TLS encryption. Shenanigans like this get a lot harder.

I'm hoping we see a lot more SPDY (or plain https) rollouts in the near future.

It's enough that I'm going to try now to https-ify all of my web properties, including adding HTTP Strict Transport Security headers where they aren't.

7
aaronharnly 3 days ago 2 replies      
Wow, that is very gnarly. I love that "Web experience manipulation" is listed as a feature on this page:

http://rgnets.com/index.php?page=features

8
epochwolf 2 days ago 0 replies      
I was part of a startup 5 years ago that built something identical to this for hotels. We used privoxy and a regex of doom targeting the <title> tag to inject javascript that would add flash toolbar on the bottom of the page you were viewing. It would show local ads and allow access to some hotel services.

Worked surprisingly well but I'm glad it never took off. I don't think I could have forgiven myself for being responsible for what would come of that.

9
mmahemoff 2 days ago 1 reply      
This is BS in 2012. Hotels need to treat internet access like running water and make it at least as good as what people get at home. Especially when you consider many people in hotels are subject to international roaming fees if they resort to their mobiles.

Even in higher-end hotels, you get a shoddy experience, and not just this ad injection.Weird login dialogs every few hours and restricting access to one device. Outrageous fees. Lack of transparency on bookings websites about availability and pricing. And once you're online, good luck trying to watch a video or getting any work done, the connection's often too slow to do anything but check a few emails.

I really hope AirBNB puts pressure on the hotels to get their act together. You stay in someone's house for $40 and you get a much better experience than a $200 hotel room. The whole situation is why I recently made the decision to use AirBNB instead of hotels whenever practical.

10
blakeperdue 3 days ago 1 reply      
Is it legal to manipulate web traffic like this? I would assume some companies who depend on ads (eg, NYTimes.com) would object, perhaps with a lawsuit, to ISPs or other imitation ISPs (ie, Hotels) to removing original NYTimes ads and replacing it with their own.
11
blo 3 days ago 0 replies      
It's likely that the issue is due to that specific hotel / ISP instead of blaming the entire Marriott chain. In fact, you could contact Marriott for them to investigate.

Hotel chains usually have brand standards relating to internet access, so this particular install may be in violation. For example, I know the Hilton chain requires its (newer) hotels to use AT&T, so it's unlikely there's tampering from the ISP/provider standpoint (though MITM attacks are still possible so always use a VPN).

12
Splines 2 days ago 0 replies      
This is a slimy practice, but I what I wouldn't mind, at all, are ads when I first connect to the AP. Make me watch a video, or let me click through a few pages of ads for local services - if I'm at a hotel, I'm likely from out-of-town and are interested in nearby restaurants and tourist destinations. Show them to me! It's likely that I'm using the internet to look those up anyway.

Being sneaky about it and hiding local ads in the banners of other websites is:

a) Rude, and

b) Unlikely to work, since I ignore those banner ads anyway. Even if I saw those ads, I'd be highly suspicious of it (in a "10 local girls are interested in talking to you!" sort of way).

Talk about an opportunity lost. Look at Starbucks' free wifi sign-on page. It's nice to look at. Do the same thing, and it's alright, put some ads on there. I don't mind.

13
barrkel 3 days ago 1 reply      
You made the mistake of staying at an expensive hotel. Expensive hotels generally have the most gouging internet setups, whether it's silly high prices, or MITM ad revenue takeovers like here.
14
dotBen 3 days ago 1 reply      
Yet another reason to run a VPN over any unknown network, such as hotel wifi. Aside from people sniffing your traffic it will also protect you from MITM attacks - be they benign like this or potentially more serious.
15
noonespecial 2 days ago 0 replies      
One of but many reasons I don't connect to public anything without using openvpn to carry my traffic.
16
raphman 2 days ago 0 replies      
I've also seen a hotel in Canada proxying all e-mail one sends unencrypted via port 25.
One more reason to use a VPN in hotels.
17
briandear 2 days ago 0 replies      
The real question is if the OP's blog was hacked by terrible designers. What a hard-to-read site.
18
wangarific 2 days ago 0 replies      
Hrm... so they charge for wifi access and then inject ads on every page you visit?
19
mcgwiz 2 days ago 0 replies      
My workaround, whenever I can't tether to my mobile phone and must use an untrusted hotspot, is to route all traffic over OpenVPN to the server running in my home.
20
zenlikethat 3 days ago 0 replies      
Wow. This is a new low.
21
joejohnson 3 days ago 0 replies      
Hotel Wifi JavaScript Injection sounds like a prog rock act.
20
Just how big are porn sites? extremetech.com
234 points by mrsebastian  4 days ago   105 comments top 16
1
SystemOut 4 days ago 3 replies      
sigh The article makes it sound like these sites are doing everything themselves including pushing the bits.

Maybe some are but I can say from personal experience that most of your traffic, if you're smart, comes out of a CDN. The sites themselves are definitely not that interactive which makes them simpler to publish. The pages are almost all cached and that doesn't take much horsepower to serve up. The big video sites have ratings and comments but they are not that big of a deal. People go to watch porn sites to watch porn, not interact. Customer analytics have shown that over and over.

I know of virtually no porn company that handles their own transactions, either. They all go through billing companies that handle things like PCI compliance for them.

Most sites also use a system like NATs to do their affiliate management. You need one that the affiliates trust isn't shaving sign-ups from their account. They tend to trust NATs.

For the data on the backend you just have a SAN to manage the data or you just manage it on a few servers with lots of disks but if you are really at the 100TB mark then you get a SAN I would think. That's what we did. Sure, it's a lot of space but they're big files so managing them isn't that hard.

I'd say the largest issue that a company like YouPorn will have is the amount of data in their working set for a CDN. CDNs generally charge you for the size of your working set that they keep at each POP in their network so you want to keep it as small as possible.

At the end of the day running a large porn network is more about integrating the myriad of partners you need to run the network. The infrastructure is interesting for a while but once you have it working the business of doing deals and handling promotions and figuring out why integration point A isn't working like it should is what keeps you busy.

2
digisth 4 days ago 0 replies      
What's really interesting to me personally is how porn continues to stay ahead of, or at least at/near the front of, the pack technology/performance-wise. Back in the late 1990s and early 2000s I co-ran the technology department at a very large network of high-traffic adult web sites (I'm not sure exactly where we would have been in the rankings, but I'd take a wild guess to say it was top 20, if not top 10.) We were doing streaming video (in Real, QT, and WM) at a time when it was still images as the default. Reading comments from SystemOut and stickfigure reminded me of just how (obviously) primitive everything seems compared to today, but we still made it work. Some broad notes from the period:

- Started with single processor Sun SPARCs, which were later replaced by a dual and quad core ones (went from 32 to 64 bit early due to file size limitations), along with a collection of Linux boxes from Penguin Computing (remember them?) Most were in the mid-hundreds MHz range, topping out at a blazing 1GHz by the end.

- Apache, mod_perl, MySQL (postgres for one system), later replaced some of the front end code with PHP.

- No CDNs! Akamai was more or less the only game in town and was still unproven/considered too expensive at the time so we did traditional multiple-host setups (things like image1, image2, along with RRDNS for some other bits)

- No really good, well-integrated turnkey billing systems. The ones at the time often took too large a chunk of the revenue or were designed for low volume/were very inflexible. Custom billing code to directly talk to charge processors (we spoke a custom protocol right over UDP to ours. We had a dedicated line to the processor, too IIRC. Every time a transaction was processed, you got to hear a classic modem-like noise. The hardware on our side was connected to a text-terminal (Monochrome, orange text.)

- In-browser video started out using NPH tricks(!), later used a custom Java applet. Most, however, was served directly to separate client applications. In the days before the YouTubes and Vimeos came along, you had to yes, have your customers download 3rd party software and then provide support for it.

- RAID 1 under Linux at the time had some ugly bugs which would partially corrupt one of the mirrors, requiring weekly manual rebuilds. I had a script monitoring for corruption which would send an email to this crazy old device called a "pager." The corruption always seemed to occur 15 minutes after I fell asleep, too.

Anyhow, interesting to see just how far things have come. Impressive numbers.

3
benologist 4 days ago 4 replies      
I wish HN would cap how many times ExtremeTech, ITWorld, MacObserver etc can be submitted.... by employees of those sites.
4
furyofantares 4 days ago 1 reply      
> While it obviously varies from site to site, most adult sites will probably store in the region of 50 to 200 terabytes of porn. This is quite a lot for a website (only something like Google, Facebook, Blogger, or YouTube would store more data),

Netflix, Hulu, Apple, Flickr, Dropbox, Steam...

I find it disappointing that this list (and the one about bandwidth saying only YouTube or Hulu comes close to Xvideos) are incomplete but they aren't really presented as such.

5
commiebob 4 days ago 1 reply      
>To put that 800Gbps figure into perspective, the internet only handles around half an exabyte of traffic every day, which equates to around 50Tbps " in other words, a single porn site accounts for almost 25% of the internet's total traffic.

That should be more like 1.6% if those numbers are correct...

Still an absurd amount of traffic.

6
jetti 4 days ago 3 replies      
This and the article about YouPorn's stack make me really want to go work for these places. I'm sure that the day to day challenges would be fascinating and it would be a thrilling technical experience.
7
medinism 4 days ago 6 replies      
Is anyone at all surprised their tech-stack is php? is it because of legacy or is it because any sensible person moving petabytes of data would use? or does it even matter
8
caycep 4 days ago 2 replies      
i heard it offhand from an acquaintance who did a google internship that google has to downrank porn sites by several orders of magnitude, otherwise all that would ever come up in google searches would be porn...
9
pgrote 4 days ago 3 replies      
Does anyone have real world experience monetizing porn sites on a such a large scale? I am not familiar with the business aspects of it. Is it driven through affiliate? Direct advertising? Something else?
10
yaix 3 days ago 0 replies      
But how do they make money? They give all the naked girls and guys away for free (and the users probably can achieve the purpose of their visit by means of that free content alone).
11
silentscope 3 days ago 0 replies      
"While it's difficult domain to penetrate..."

Very punny.

12
kanchax 3 days ago 0 replies      
On a non-tech note, I read on the internet (yes, aldaily, do not have the link right now) that 1/3 of Casanova's autobiography was about his affairs with women. It came to me when the article said that a third of the internet was dedicated to porn.
Conclusion: A third of our lives are dedicated to sex.
13
NameNickHN 4 days ago 0 replies      
From the article:

[...] when you factor in what those porn surfers are actually doing [...]

Ahem, I'd rather not. ;-)

14
fourmii 4 days ago 2 replies      
I love it how the article ends with >The Internet really is for porn<

>It's probably not unrealistic to say that porn makes up 30% of the total data transferred across the internet.< If this is the case, is the online porn industry held up as models of high tech and innovation? I thought I heard somewhere investors and VC's in particular, shy away from porn...

15
zerostar07 4 days ago 0 replies      
What would the traffic be if there these sites were not blocked in a large part of the world?
16
jsherry 4 days ago 1 reply      
"While it's difficult domain to penetrate"

I'm deeply sorry, but couldn't resist...

21
Did everybody see what just happened? The pendulum has swung. 42floors.com
229 points by jaf12duke  12 hours ago   82 comments top 16
1
nirvana 9 hours ago 4 replies      
This is one of the reasons I'm kinda ambivalent about taking money. I've been working for startups since the 1990s (and starting companies too). I've seen the down years in 1995, 2001-2003, 2008-2009, and I've seen the manias of 1997-2000, 2004-2007, 2010-2012, and it just leaves me really concerned that taking VC money is a whole lot about timing. I want to build a business, not get rich with a stock market (e.g.: selling stock to VCs with perfect timing.) This plus the generally hostile and irrational terms VCs require (liquidation preferences, etc) have had me focusing on making our business profitable from day one. (or at least from day one after the product launches.)

On the other hand-- man, it would really be great to have $500k in the bank to hire some people so we could grow really fast. But we're not there yet-- that would be a bad investment because we're still doing customer development, we're still trying to discover our business, so to speak.

I feel like, if I go down the path of trying to raise money now, I'll be spending a lot of time doing something that doesn't help us discover that business. But if I don't, who knows what things will be like in a while, if it turns out that we really could use that money.

In the end, though, I side on the idea that money can be a nice accelerant, if it is gotten on good terms (terms are more important than valuation) from good people (and how in the hell do you figure out who those people are? I have seen a lot of damage done by investors in my career.)

But at the end of the day, if the company is profitable, you can plow %100 of those profits into growth. If the company isn't profitable, the only way to survive is outside investment.

I don't want my companies future in the hands of other people, so I'm pursuing a highly profitable business that is super capital efficient and doesn't require outside funding to launch.

I strongly recommend others consider this approach as well. Yeah, you might get into YC and then not need this, but if you don't, find a business model that makes you ramen profitable right away.

2
subwindow 11 hours ago 4 replies      
This seems a little crazy. I think it should be hard for a company to raise money. Bad things always seem to happen when the money chases the startup. Frequently when money is hard to come by, the bad startups die early and everyone is better for it.

Maybe that's just because I've tried several times and failed (3-6 years ago), and I'm being a grumpy old dude who thinks it should be this hard for everybody. But I'm not even that old (28) or that grumpy. I just have the wisdom of hindsight to know that my ideas and execution weren't that good, and it would've, ultimately, been a bad thing if they had gotten funding.

3
jacquesm 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Wise words and ones that anybody that ever wants to be funded or has attracted funding would do well to heed.

YC has become a very strong brand, and one that attracts investors from all over the globe because they have proven that their method for picking winners works better than what those investors could ever achieve by themselves.

Keep in mind that the factors that differentiates YC from all these other cats are very hard to replicate and so it is easier for them to ride on YCs coat tails than it is for them to copy the process. Hence the glut of money.

This is good for everybody that gets 'in' to YC, they're more or less guaranteed to find funding and find it on their terms. For once the recipients of funding have a slightly stronger hand.

Still, that won't change the long term outcome for the majority, the majority of such investments will still fail (and the investors are well aware of it), and a smaller portion will break even or make it big. Picking the winners out of the ones that got 'in' is just as hard (if not harder) than picking the ones that got 'in' in the first place.

I like the tone of this article, it sends exactly the right message. Feet on the ground and get to work, being funded is not the end, it is the begin. And it definitely isn't a guarantee for success, that's up to you & your team, the market and timing. And you only control one of the three.

4
jwwest 11 hours ago 3 replies      
How much of this is "dumb" money? A lot has been written on how well folks are doing fundraising, but not so much on what types of investors are willing to throw money on the basis of a 2 1/2 minute pitch just because it has Y Combinator attached.

Investments are much more than just money (duh), you're also gaining an ally and potential business mentor. If I were to be offered 500k from an extremely smart person who has shown personal interest in my product versus 2mil from someone trying to play "startup darts", I'd take the 500k and work my ass off.

It scares me how much money is being thrown at name dropping these days.

5
canterburry 12 hours ago 5 replies      
Yeah...I see what just happened...we are back in 1999. Enjoy it while it lasts.
6
jack-r-abbit 10 hours ago 0 replies      
The pendulum will continue to swing back and forth. Is this going to be exactly like the "dot com bubble" of yore? Of course not. We had quite the cautious period after that burst. Surely we have learned from our mistakes. But learning from our mistakes only means we're less likely to make those same mistakes again. It's no guarantee that we won't make new mistakes. It will happen in some form. But I do have fond memories of some of the IPO parties and "just because we have buckets of cash" parties back in the day. They were great. But maybe they should have saved some of that money for the cold, long winter. Hindsight is 20/20. Let's see how this one plays out.
7
pagekalisedown 12 hours ago 1 reply      
"Hot market" seems like an understatement.

I'm still waiting for salaries to catch up tho.

8
derefr 9 hours ago 2 replies      
Here's a question for the thread: I'm a Canadian citizen, and still in university (two years to go.) Which means that, as far as I'm aware in how US immigration works, I can't just bound on down to SV and start a company right this moment, no matter how hot the market is. So--should I be planning my next five years around chasing this thing, or will it pop before I get there? ;)
9
Jabbles 10 hours ago 0 replies      
The author mentions the strategy of the VCs: to find the next billion-dollar company. One success of this magnitude will mask many, many failures. We should not look on a large seed round as saying "X is worth Y" (although by the definition of "worth", it is), but rather that "X has a not-insignificant chance of being worth 100Y in 5 years".
10
jroseattle 9 hours ago 0 replies      
While true, I'm not sure the bubblicious times of the late 90s apply here. Isn't some of this the effect of the rise of incubators like Y-Combinator?

With YC, investors also have the benefit of knowing/believing that Paul Graham, et. al, have already vetted the team & idea substantively that the risk factor is lower (at least, perceived lower.) So, while there may be more dollars chasing fewer deals, some of that is the captive audience effect.

The advice offered is still good, no matter the environment.

11
iandanforth 11 hours ago 1 reply      
Out of curiosity, how many founders know who put up the money that the VC is dispensing?

After a friends and family or Angel round, is their any connection between the investment and the people who stand to lose money?

12
jsmith72 1 hour ago 0 replies      
It seems to me that this situation only exists for those well connected in the Bay Area. Perhaps smart money will be looking for new areas that are still underfunded.
13
treelovinhippie 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Meanwhile in Australia... Zzzz...
14
mmayernick 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Great thoughts, Jason. Your point about the change in valuations is more than an observations, though. Implicitly, it suggests that valuations are less a function of the companies themselves and more a consequence of exogenous macroeconomic and industry specific factors.

This is sort of a scary realization to me, because it means that "crushing it" isn't a strategy to preserving valuation. Perhaps the Dropboxes of the world will always be able to name their price, but for the rest of us valuations will come tumbling down if the outlook turns negative on the startup asset class or economic activity broadly.

Startups taking a more conservative approach to valuation and amount of capital to raise may be much better positioned to raise subsequent rounds of financing when the market, as all markets do, regresses to the mean.

15
rasengan 10 hours ago 1 reply      
I strictly believe in bootstrapping a startup (most of them anyway). Hunger creates hunters. Hunters catch game.
16
rhizome 12 hours ago 1 reply      
Grammatically, the first two paragraphs should be combined into one.
22
How my comment on TechCrunch got me a Facebook Cease and Desist rickstratton.com
222 points by racerrick  5 days ago   86 comments top 29
1
iamgilesbowkett 5 days ago 6 replies      
hey @racerrick, my mom's a retired lawyer. (for context.) lawyers issue threats the way other people say hello. if this person says to you on the phone that you have to prove that you don't own the site, guess what? you can't prove she said it, since it isn't in writing, and it's not against the law to lie about that in the first place.

you need a sharp lawyer who won't rip you off. hire one. free advice is worth every penny you pay for it. however, IN MY OPINION, if you had a sharp lawyer who wouldn't rip you off, such a lawyer would tell you how to translate "fuck off, this has nothing to do with me" into lawyer-speak.

the translation would (IN MY OPINION) be brief, clear, and non-argumentative. whatever you do, DON'T be upset by anything they say to you. provoking rash reactions is just a tactic they employ.

if I were a lawyer, AND I AM NOT, I would tell you to write a letter that looked more or less like this:

"Dear Whoever,

I read your letter with interest, and noted your request that I shut down XYZ Site. However, I am unable to cease operating XYZ, because I do not operate it, and have never operated it at any time. In fact, I have absolutely no connection to XYZ, have never had any connection to it, and am unable to help you. Good luck, and have a nice day."

Again I AM NOT A LAWYER, but that's really all you need to say. You put that in the mail, certified of course, with receipt, so you can prove they got it, and you forget this ever happened. Any aggressive, offensive noises they make other than "here is your court date" are just NOISES. Ignore them.

In the unlikely event they get you in front of a judge, the judge will hear your simple defense - "nothing to do with me" - and ask them if they have any proof of it being anything to do with you. Since they don't, it's a short conversation, and you go home.

If you find yourself saying anything further than what I just described -- "not me, got your letter, nothing I can do" -- STOP IMMEDIATELY and either hire a lawyer or shut the fuck up.

speaking of hiring lawyers, again, disclaimer: I am not a lawyer, this is not legal advice, grain of salt, your mileage may vary. seriously just hire a fucking lawyer because panicking, freaking out, and/or writing 10,000 words about this is just completely wasted energy.

2
gojomo 5 days ago 0 replies      
How do I prove that I have no control over this thing?

You don't have to prove anything. You've given them the courtesy of letting them know they have the wrong person, that's it. You can't 'cease' or 'desist' from something you're not doing, any more than you are already not doing it.

If they actually sue you after you've let them know you're not the right person, then you can invest more effort into this... and at that point, they'll be the reckless ones for filing a lawsuit on no evidence.

In the meantime, the most you should do -- milk it for some hits via a blog post -- is all you need to do. You've done it.

Consult with lawyers (off the payment clock, free initial consultations) if you'd like to, but there's no need given that Perkins Coie has just sent you a bit of lawyerly puffery in error.

3
nikcub 5 days ago 0 replies      
There is no way they can get away with bullying you. Contact the EFF:

https://www.eff.org/pages/legal-assistance

Very good chance they will help you with this.

4
fleitz 5 days ago 1 reply      
Oh noes, you violated their TOS. C&Ds are meaningless I wouldn't even bother responding. Not legal advice.
5
daemon13 5 days ago 1 reply      
I your place I would avoid going the legal route since this is not your strength.

1. Pay close attention to comments from daegloe

> EDIT: After reading many of the frothy comments on this page, I just wanted to add that it's generally best to avoid threatening a lawsuit, countersuit or any kind of legal claim in your response. These giant law firms love to call people on their bluffs, because they bill by the hour. Avoid boxing yourself in.

> Best strategy is to avoid litigation at all costs. Because, well, it costs lots of money whether you win or lose. And if you win, collecting is a bitch in of itself.

2. Do you have deadline in the cease and desist letter? If yes, what's the deadline?

3. Since this is a typical "David vs Goliath" and media loves these types of stories, I would try defeat FB with its own baby - social media.

Specifically, I would

3.1. contact 10-15 major tech blogs, including through Twitter

3.2. contact 5 major newspapers/their journalists

3.3. post your story on FB Twitter, FB Wall, Mark Zuckenbergs Wall

4. I am sure that this had adverse impact on your health and well being. So I would probably add sharing those to your story.

Play to your strengths and keep us posted.

6
ajays 5 days ago 1 reply      
To those offering advice about getting a lawyer: do you know how much a lawyer costs? A decent lawyer will charge you upwards of $300/hour. For just replying to this letter it'll run you about $100. And then if that other lawyer responds, the cycle will continue. Soon you're talking real money here, for something he did not do!
7
zrgiu_ 5 days ago 3 replies      
So, guilty until proven innocent, is this how things work now ?

What if I go now on facebook, create an account, use the name Rick Stratton and start posting random, "incriminating" stuff all over the internet, what then ?

8
epikur 5 days ago 1 reply      
It is my extremely unqualified opinion that perhaps you should seek the advice of a legal professional, before, um, doing anything else.
9
dsrguru 5 days ago 0 replies      
This might not be the best legal advice, but I personally would let it play out as much as possible before hiring a lawyer. It is my understanding that a preponderance of evidence burden (over 50% certainty) in practice really means they have to find at least one potential problem with your defense. Since your blog post provides an explanation that is 100% rational, I'm fairly certain that means they have no case against you. It seems ridiculous to have to pay for a lawyer when you're falsely accused of a crime that you weren't even at the scene for, so to speak.

On the other hand, if this is putting too much stress on you, it might be the right call from a health perspective to hire a lawyer. Just my two cents of non-legal tender.

10
tlrobinson 5 days ago 0 replies      
This is just silly on the lawyers' part. What are the chances the screenshot in the TC article just happened to include a comment, in a random article earlier in the day, by the creator of the thing the article was describing?

Clearly you were in the wrong place at the wrong time and made an ambiguous comment that was misinterpreted by Facebook's lawyers.

How do they expect you to prove you're not involved? (hint: they don't) It sounds like they're just trying to intimidate you.

IANAL, but I'd very clearly explain exactly what happened. If they continue to pursue this I'd be very surprised, and will make sure I never use their law firm...

11
droithomme 5 days ago 4 replies      
Sounds like they are defaming you.

If it was me, and I truly had nothing to do with this thing they are upset about, I'd greatly welcome their lawsuit, and countersue when it comes. Little guy versus the big mean corporation, let it play out.

Right now they are on a fishing exposition.

12
cypherpunks01 5 days ago 2 replies      
This seems extremely strange, what does the letter actually state with regards to them believing it's your creation?

And what activity do they want ceased, anyway? From what I briefly read, it's just a browser extension that doesn't talk to facebook at all, but just maintains a separate thread of conversation anchored against a facebook comment stream. Is this not the case?

Also curious, are you planning to release the C&D or pass it to chillingeffects.org? Thanks for the great browser extension! :p

13
anigbrowl 5 days ago 0 replies      
Sit tight, consider getting a lawyer, and let them make the next move. It sounds like they have no case, but on the other hand you haven't suffered any harm as such. IANAL, mind.
14
Natsu 5 days ago 0 replies      
My guess (and it's only a guess) would be that they've been tasked with shutting that site down but they have no idea who to lean on to accomplish that. If that hypothesis is true, logic won't work on them, they'll just keep leaning on you because they have no better options.

So I would spend a few hundred dollars or whatever having your lawyer draft them a letter or call them on the phone or whatever to explain that this isn't going to buy them anything legally. And even if you don't want to do that, at least quit talking to them or writing about it lest you get yourself in trouble by saying something innocent that sounds wrong. Lawyers are very good at taking advantage of situations where the other side isn't represented, so don't give them those kinds of opportunities.

In short, I'm saying to get proper legal advice. Merely being innocent isn't always good enough. If anything, the innocent tend to get into more trouble than they should because they tend to avoid legal advice, believing that their innocence is enough. And even though you know you're innocent, how do you prove that you have no control over a particular website?

15
notatoad 5 days ago 2 replies      
what does a cease and decist letter actually mean? it's not coming from a court, how does it carry any weight at all?
16
OoTheNigerian 5 days ago 2 replies      
The only question that come to mind is this. How did they know your address?
17
13hours 5 days ago 2 replies      
Why are all the answers with legal advice filled with phrases such as "this is not legal advice" and "I am not a lawyer"? Is it illegal for non lawyers to give legal advice in the US?
18
dmoy 5 days ago 0 replies      
This has turned into a "How my comment on <insert places> on my comment on techcrunch brought down my server" case. Does anyone have a cached copy? I can't find one except for an interesting looking picture... Do want to see more.
19
moocow01 5 days ago 0 replies      
Looks like Facebook pulled the trigger a little early on hiring their gaggle of corporate lawyers - reel 'em back in for just a couple more months
20
nextparadigms 5 days ago 1 reply      
Facebook comments on Techcrunch was a bad idea from the beginning. It's the main reason why I started visiting Techcrunch a lot less at the time (and then other reasons added up,and I quit it for good).
21
krrose27 5 days ago 0 replies      
Originally posted on your blog.

A sworn affidavit should work in a courtroom. (Not a lawyer!)

So at this point I would send a nicely worded certified letter telling them to stop harassing you.

At that point they have limited options (in my opinion).
1) Sue you because they can prove you own it in court. (At which point a simple affidavit should end your part in said suit).
2) File a John Doe suit and actually find out who runs it.

Best option would of course be to obtain a lawyer and head it off sooner than later. Also once you have yourself a lawyer you won't have to deal with their lawyers at all as they should be bared from contacting anyone but your lawyer.

22
chao- 5 days ago 1 reply      
This seems like a freewheeling legal department trying to do its job, however poorly, with less-than-optimal oversight or communication with PR. That said I'm purely taking a stab in the dark without more details from the documents you were sent.

I seem to recall another story crossing HN over the last year with the general plot of "BigCorp is suing us for [ridiculously unrelated reason] when we have nothing to do with it!" before the bad PR hits and BigCorp issues a statement saying "Sorry. It's all cool, we didn't really mean to target you. In fact we even like you." If I can find it I will edit my post with the details.

23
zem 5 days ago 0 replies      
quite apart from anything else, defaceable sounds like a brilliant service. do facebook have any real legal leg to stand on if they do go after it?
24
wiceo 5 days ago 0 replies      
More unqualified, unsolicited advice ... I'd let them pester you long enough to accumulate enough evidence for a harassment counter suit.
25
rangibaby 5 days ago 2 replies      
Isn't the onus on them to prove that he is guilty? IANAL but it sounds like there isn't a thing he can do.
26
drstrangevibes 5 days ago 0 replies      
its not for you to prove your innocence , they must first prove your guilt. reply no case to answer
27
mgl1965 4 days ago 0 replies      
Geez. I am a lawyer, and there is no need to hire or contact one. You can either ignore the C&D letter or take the first person's advice and write them a terse, polite letter explaining (briefly) that you have nothing whatsoever to do with the site in question. That's it. (and send it certified with receipt.) If they should file suit (in which case you would be served) that asks for some monetary damages (as opposed to an injunction of some sort against the site in question), then, and only then, do you need to consult with an attorney. The chances of them doing that, or anything else for that matter, is almost nil.
28
jerrya 5 days ago 1 reply      
Ask a lawyer if you can counter sue Facebook not just for lawyer fees but for damages for maliciously and falsely accusing you in public, an act that is certain to sully your reputation.

Ask a lawyer what's the best way to game this situation to increase Facebook's liability to a maximum while minimzing your risk and exposure.

29
endlessvoid94 5 days ago 2 replies      
Oh, come the fuck on. Somebody, somewhere, made a mistake. If you really have nothing to do with this, then nothing will come of it.

Reply to them and tell them it isn't even you, and that you have nothing to do with this. They're not going to destroy you or even force you to rack up thousands of dollars in legal fees. They're not evil.

This is just as bad as the mainstream media -- anything that anybody does that can possibly be perceived in a way that gets attention is what makes it to the frontpage now?

23
Leisure Suit Larry kickstarter.com
221 points by radagaisus  5 days ago   139 comments top 20
1
kennu 5 days ago 1 reply      
One interesting fact: Leisure Suit Larry is pretty much directly based on the http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Softporn_Adventure text adventure game. If you try it, you'll find the plot and the surroundings very familiar.

Personally I discovered this while reading http://www.amazon.com/Hackers-Computer-Revolution-Anniversar... which I recommend to anyone.

2
i386 5 days ago  replies      
The game has no major female characters who aren't hookers.

No arguing that LSL has its place in gaming history, but it doesn't have a place in a future that is trying its hardest to remove objectification of women from society.

EDIT: The down voting button is not a disagree button. If you disagree, reply!

3
mkramlich 5 days ago 3 replies      
I wrote an iPhone game that's extremely like Leisure Suit Larry, about a year or two ago. Same spirit and game mechanics. Called "The Adventures of Khaki Pants Pete". Pretty much a nod to LSL, even the name was a tongue-in-cheek reference to it's name. I did it under contract for a dev shop that in turn did it for the company that owns the Klondike Bar. A lot of people said it was pretty fun. I thought it was fun. And I'm old enough to have played LSL version 1.

From the LSL Kickstarter project goals:

* The freedom to play on mobile devices
* A modern point-and-click/touchscreen interface
* Updated, ultra-high res graphics
* Fully voiced characters
* Even more of the humor that's made Al Lowe a household name…like “Borders” and “Enron”!

Khaki Pants Pete did/does all of that, except the voiced characters. Has music and audio feedback effects, but only on-screen text dialogue bubbles. Though pretty funny.

I'm not sure if I like or dislike the fact that their KS project has set a goal of raising $500k to fund developing it. I know our/my budget for making Khaki Pants Pete was much much less than that. My slice was much smaller anyway. :)

clarification: I did not design the game play or script, but I did design and code the entire game engine from scratch, solo.

4
jaredsohn 5 days ago 1 reply      
If you want to play King's Quest I, Police Quest I, Space Quest I or a few other Sierra games legally in your browser (HTML5) right now, go here: http://sarien.net/. The blog says that they used to also have Leisure Suit Larry but had to take it down since Activision had sold the IP.

This was posted on Hacker News a couple of months ago: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=3591342

5
danso 5 days ago 4 replies      
I think the fact that this is primarily a PC port with iOS/Android merely a possibility is a deal-killer for me, thhe content notwithstanding. I'm not saying that PCs aren't technically the largest gaming platform by user base...I'm saying that the largest base of casual gamers with money to blow by far is iOS and Android. From what I remember, LSL and Kings Quest were largely casual in mechanic.

Secret of Monkey Island and several of the modern Capcom adventure games (Phantom Detective) have made successful transitions. If this is being built from scratch, why is this not focused on what is clearly becoming the biggest casual gaming platform?

6
bane 5 days ago 1 reply      
Why stretch it out more? LSL was fun, but it's time is passed. Why not something new like "Skinny Tie Sam" or "Pleather Pants Paul"? Create the world from scratch and don't be beholden to what's come before.

edit in case anybody is interested, they should check out Matt Chat on Youtube, some of the most compelling interviews with adventure game designers of the past...

Here's Part 1 of "Al Lowe" (designer of LSL) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9PGGEFQdZuw

7
coderdude 5 days ago 1 reply      
I never played the LSL series but I'm a big fan of the classic adventure games (Space Quest and Full Throttle -- if you've never played them, you've been robbed). Maybe if this works out we'll see some more revivals. This genre in this style was completely lost in the rush to move everything to three dimensions. There are moments and feelings that simply can't be captured by other genres. The fact that they hold the rights and have Al Lowe on board makes this unbelievably cool. Good luck, guys!
8
gcb 5 days ago 1 reply      
now even kickstarters are going for the 'sequel' trap?

LSL is dated now. it was fresh when it was made.

how much more time they could have put into an ORIGINAL product if they haven't filled the pockets of big-game-studio?

hint: to people that actually likes games, a title that sports some well know adaptation is often associated with a bad experience to come. It's often the cheap game made to cater to parents buying xmas gifts without a clue.

9
un1xl0ser 5 days ago 1 reply      
I remember asking my parents for the age verification questions to be able to run LSL when I was a kid. I would head downstairs and ask her random trivia questions because it was easier than asking the Encyclopedia Britannica or what passed for the internet in those days. Obviously this day and age this is not possible due to Wikipedia, but in it's time and place it made me more likely to play rogue and/or do something productive with my computer.

Not sure if anyone remembers that aspect of it, but I still do.

If there was a moral story, it was lost on me at that age, and not likely to revisit it. Certainly better than Custer's Revenge, which is a horrifying concept and makes me very sad.

If you think that LSL is a good and relevant example of misogyny and bad attitudes towards women, then apparently you never turn on your TV, watch movies or look at at advertisements around you. A rehash of LSL is the least of our problems in this space.

People feel better when you treat them as people, not objects. This goes for men and women. We're all human and deserve a lot of respect and understanding.

Some people probably like the cheap thrills that the game offers, some are nostalgic, some may be interested in social commentary. This is all quite all right and healthy.

// I got Neil Young's "Pochohontas" associated with that terrible game. AAAAAAAAHHH. :'(

10
bishnu 5 days ago 2 replies      
Ever wish sometimes you could take money away from Kickstarter projects? LSL is one of those things that should be left in the '80s.
11
eps 5 days ago 3 replies      
Space Quest! Space Quest! Space! Quest! SPACE QUEST!!
12
minikomi 5 days ago 1 reply      
I think this genre of games is ripe for a comeback on iOS. Just try to avoid having the keyboard pop up all the time and it should be great.. Although discovering the secret commands and hidden jokes by randomly trying words was half the fun of the old Quest titles.
13
superrad 5 days ago 0 replies      
Looks like they ran out of money or are just looking to pocket some free money, considering they announced the project last year :
http://www.egmnow.com/articles/exclusive-leisure-suit-larry-...
14
thetron 5 days ago 0 replies      
If amazing adventure game developers of yesteryear continue to start Kickstarter projects, I am going to end up seriously broke.
15
adrianwaj 5 days ago 0 replies      
I'm thinking a film would be better as Larry hits the social networks and stumbles across a plot to spike drinks city-wide, something mixing American Pie, James Bond and Austin Powers - with/without CGI females?
16
Shivetya 5 days ago 0 replies      
Someone please bring Starflight back. Hell, they could simply use the exact story of the original and its sequel and have two great games.

Well provided they don't make it first person :P

There are so many great games from the eighties. Many of them had to have original elements and wit because they were so constrained by the machines of that day.

17
TomGullen 5 days ago 0 replies      
Loved this game as a kid. My granddad had a computer with it installed. When he was downstairs talking to my parents I'd load it up. At the beginning of the game it had a bunch of questions to 'prove you were and adult'. I rarely got past those questions! That was half the fun, when I actually got in the game I didn't really know what to do but loved the way you could apparently do anything.
18
papaver 4 days ago 0 replies      
How sad. A remake for 500k? Really?

The 8-bitness of the old-school games gave the old sierra games their magic. I would have loved to play a new larry game, but this just makes me sad.

What a waste...

19
sgt 5 days ago 0 replies      
I just pledged $25. I encourage others do to the same!
20
stanzyamith 5 days ago 0 replies      
This brings back memories
24
Side Project: 1 Month, $10,000 doddcaldwell.com
220 points by stevenkovar  2 days ago   122 comments top 40
1
joeld42 2 days ago 8 replies      
Hey just a free idea if anyone want to build it, I think a web app that generated stylish resumes automatically from your LinkedIn profile would be great. It could make watermarked ones for free preview and then charge you a few bucks if you wanted to download a real one.

I can't tell you how many times I've heard "Well, my resume's a bit out of date, but here's my linkedin.."

Also, if you are LinkedIn, you could do this.

2
alain94040 2 days ago 3 replies      
As a former hiring manager, I looked at your 100 first templates, and I must say that I don't like them. Yes, they look amazing and I would hire you to design my site's CSS, but for a job seeker, they are distracting. I want to see the job experience. I don't need special effects around "job experience", I don't need fancy backgrounds which make it harder to read the information.

Sorry to be negative. Again, the designs are very cute, but not "professional". My experience is limited to high-tech hiring.

3
dcaldwell 1 day ago 0 replies      
OP here. I wrote this blog post to help the community - to share what I've learned and have done to get some traffic and have a fairly successful launch of a side project. Most of the discussion on this thread has been around resumes themselves and the business itself - which wasn't what my post was about. This really drives home one of the points that I made in my original post: Loft Resumes is polarizing. People seem to either love it or hate it. For some reason people seem to be passionate about resumes.

All that said, I'm really appreciative of the suggestions that people have shared both here and by email. I've learned a great deal from commenters on HN in general (a few have inspired another venture I'm looking at starting...) and appreciate the community, even though it can get a little harsh!

4
ErrantX 2 days ago 3 replies      
They look nice.

In my experience clean/light CV's are by far the best for almost every job - particularly engineering jobs. The exception being designers.

What sort of CV's are you seeing come in?

I know quite a few HR types who will find a snazzy looking CV and instantly demote it, on the basis that the sizzle is probably hiding some inadequacy (this is not necessarily a bad marker in my experience).

It would be interesting to see if the investment in this pays off for the candidate - whether the really high quality of the design flips it over that danger marker.

5
InfinityX0 2 days ago 1 reply      
I just e-mailed this to them, but how they get regular sales leads is through the Universities. The universities want to get their students jobs, and if you have a real value-add service that will do that, they should have no problem posting your link and being aware of you in their offices. Your startup should be the first thing mentioned by their Career Development offices and resume courses when students ask "how do I get a job?". It won't be easy to get in front of all of them, but I bet you can get the ball rolling really fast with this exceptional product.
6
LiveTheDream 2 days ago 1 reply      
The templates look great, congrats on the success. How did you arrive at the $99 price point?

Also: the submission title implies the project earned $10k in a month, but I didn't see that in the blog post itself. Where did that number come from? Is it accurate?

7
joshmlewis 2 days ago 2 replies      
I'll comment with another note, I love that this is coming out of Greenville. I live here and have traveled to Boston, SF, Seattle, DC and others but Greenville is up and coming. It's not too big but not too small. It's still small enough to have a piece of the intimate south, but big enough to feel a great part of the vibrant city.

It's also dirt cheap to live here compared to somewhere else. A 2-3 bedroom apartment for downtown in the heart of everything will run less than 2k if you find a good spot. Also access to CoWork is awesome like the OP was saying. You can find out more about Greenville here, http://thenextbig.co/. All this to say, if you want to kind of step out of the norm a bit and experience something different but not leaving great talent Greenville is an awesome place to be.

8
unoti 2 days ago 1 reply      
Those are the most beautiful and amazing resume layouts I've ever seen. You have yourself a serious winner here!
9
guynamedloren 1 day ago 1 reply      
I am amazed that this business works. I'm not saying it's a bad product, but rather that there doesn't appear to be much of a product market fit.

Here's why: the fields that would see value in creative resumes like these are creativity driven fields - specifically graphic design, web development, visual design, print design, frontend, etc. Creative resumes can be valuable in these fields because they are a means to showcase relavent skills. If I'm applying for a job as a graphic designer, I would be stupid not to take advantage of the blank canvas that is a resume.

Concurrently, non design related fields likely do not see much value in a well designed resume, simply because it is unimportant and irrelevant. Yeah, the resume stands out from the pack, but surely this does not influence hiring decisions? Surely whoever is reading these resumes is not impressed by a bit of color and typography? Though I am probably being naive here - every little bit helps, especially when there are hundreds or thousands of other resumes to compete against.

So with that, if one assumes the highest demand for creative resumes is in creative fields, then this is like selling ice to eskimos. Designers can - and should - design their own creative resumes to market themselves.

But clearly I am wrong. So I wonder how well these resumes will convert? Somebody should A/B test and report back :)

10
adambard 2 days ago 1 reply      
Whenever I see a story like this, I have my hopes dashed when it turns out that the guy with the side project is just extremely talented.

Well done.

11
phzbOx 2 days ago 1 reply      
Few questions:

1. How did you manage to get all these awesome resume templates?! That's fairly impressive for a one month project.. I could have had only one of them and I would be proud!

2. There's no talk about the 10,000$ in the blog.. where does it come from? Is it 100 sales? Is it less but with more urgent need (For instance, clicking "1 day" or "custom color").

3. About the process of converting the html template to a pdf.. how does it work and how good is it? For instance, is it a simple html->pdf which could give ugly conversion or end-of-page text to be displayed wrongly on the next page?

And as a suggestion, it'd be interesting to give a demo of the cv. For instance, I'd enter my data, it'd show me the resume but with a clear "Demo" written on each page of the pdf.. or something similar.

12
dendory 1 day ago 1 reply      
I'm not sure why the focus here is that they gained that amount of revenue inside of a month. Looking at their traffic chart it seems like the site was never very popular until one specific date when they suddenly jumped to 20,000 users thanks to one highly successful promotion they did. So if anything this is more about how fab.com was really good for them.
13
ktizo 2 days ago 1 reply      
Surely a resume should just consist of a screed of roughly formatted plaintext.

Or is that just not enough for Catbert in the current economic climate?

14
acabal 2 days ago 1 reply      
Congratulations, great design and execution.

I'd be really interested to see how you phrased the emails you sent out to the bloggers to get them to write about you, and what your success rate was.

15
readme 1 day ago 0 replies      
Looks like a beautiful site. However I was disappointed to see that nothing about the 10k figure in the link title was mentioned in the article. I would be very interested in another article if you'd be willing to detail your revenue, expenses, profits, conversion rate, and such. I understand that is sensitive data and you may not want to, but it can't hurt to ask.

Best of luck, and your resumes look beautiful.

16
sgdesign 2 days ago 1 reply      
I've got to say I'm amazed at the number of templates you have. It must've taken quite a lot of total designer hours to create all these.

Any plans to code them and let people generate mini-sites from them? I could see that doing pretty well too.

In any case the service and site looks great, congratulations!

17
Katelyn 2 days ago 1 reply      
- I can really see this type of service blowing up, once you find the right product/market/fit.

- The slider above-the-fold on the 'shop' tab distracts me from the rest of the page. It wasn't intuitive to me that I could scroll down to begin shopping.

- A simple filter would be a great addition to the 'shop' page. It'd be nice to filter by type (e.g business, creative, etc.), price or design (rustic, elegant)

- I wonder if you would see more sales if you tried a/b testing your pricing model a bit. Is there a reason why you charge the extra $5.00 for edits? If the shopper pays $99 to own the theme, shouldn't he be entitled to edit it as much as he pleases?

- You're looking for resume writers. Have you connected with Hagan Blount? I believe he designs Infographic resumes. (http://haganblount.com/resume). Some of your designs require users to highlight a quote, etc., and I wonder if they could use help writing out these areas.

18
adamtmca 1 day ago 0 replies      
I noticed you were using Shopify. You could probably add a lot to that $10,000 by selling a varient of your store's design on the Shopify theme store. It looks awesome.
19
sirwitti 1 day ago 0 replies      
thanks for the article. one thing that i didn't understand when coming to the website was what to do.

choosing a design for example: i think many people won't understand that you have to choose a design below the featured block.

a headline like "choose a design:" or something could increase your conversion rates i guess.

nice project btw.
have fun, witti

20
andre 2 days ago 2 replies      
Are you producing the resumes manually? or do you have software that handles it?
21
justauser 2 days ago 1 reply      
Congratulations on the launch and the beautiful work you're producing. I'd love to hear your feedback on the very popular discussion from a few days ago here (http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=3804134) on Raganwald's blog, "I don't hire unlucky people" (http://raganwald.posterous.com/i-dont-hire-unlucky-people) .
Specifically, I'm curious as to how much you as the creator of this service think making a resume standout really helps an applicant compared to a bland resume from a measurably more qualified candidate? Thanks!

A snippet from the blog...
---
“First, I stopped caring so much about little things like how 'professionally' a resume was formatted or whether the cover email had spelling mistakes. I realized that throwing people away because of a spelling mistakes was really another way of discarding half the resumés because you don't want to work with unlucky people.”

“Wait,” said Oscar, “but surely all things being equal, the person who takes the time to get the email right is better than the person who doesn't?”

“Sure,” agreed Ernestine, “But all other things aren't equal. What if the email with the spelling mistake came from someone who's really busy because they're talented and have a lot to do in their current position?”
---

22
davidwparker 2 days ago 0 replies      
Congrats!

I think your designs are beautiful, and you're definitely fulfilling a need. I'll be sending a link to those who I know are looking for a job.

23
mgkimsal 2 days ago 1 reply      
Congrats on the launch. I remember you telling me about this over pizza a few months ago (november? january? can't remember!) Great job on execution!
24
Tycho 1 day ago 0 replies      
Great stuff. I hope you earn more advertising/publicity from that blog post than you earn copycats.

May I suggest that you add more single column resumes. Having multiple columns and boxes etc. is something I associate with newsletters and magazine articles. If I was shopping, I probably wouldn't buy one like that.

25
dominikb 2 days ago 1 reply      
Make it automated and mobile: build a beautiful CV from an iPhone app, pay via in-app purchase and get 5 physical printouts delivered (also PDF in email and HTML version hosted for sharing).

Your sales will jump from $10,000 to $100,000.

26
zeroonetwothree 2 days ago 1 reply      
The resumes are very attractive. However, in my experience looking at resumes I put 0-1% of the weight on attractiveness. Maybe it's more useful for other fields, however.
27
MitziMoto 2 days ago 2 replies      
Love the idea, and your products look amazing. I've definitely got the site bookmarked if (when?) I ever need to hit the job market again.

My only concern with these types of resumes is that I've heard stuff like this can't be read by automated resume parsers used by some companies. I don't know how true that really is, does anyone know?

28
bill-nordwall 2 days ago 1 reply      
How about testimonials? The designs are fantastic, but I want to hear the story of someone catching a recruiter's eye from one of these.

Figure out away to demonstrate social proof that your resumes are giving job-seekers the edge they desperately need.

29
vgurgov 2 days ago 1 reply      
congrats, great service! if you are considering video promotion, i'd suggest to compare google tv with my service virool.com We are better and cheaper. ping me and i will make you discount and give you some free credits. i can also recommend few production companies in case you want to create nice and inexpensive clip about your service.
30
reilly3000 2 days ago 0 replies      
It would have been great to have some retargeting advertising going the whole time. It can be very cheap and makes people on average 70% more likely to convert.
31
Radzell 2 days ago 0 replies      
I think the idea is great, but what really stands out is the execution. The style the way it just works is why this idea could be huge congratz guys.
32
RyOnLife 2 days ago 0 replies      
At Uber, we got a resume.txt from an engineering candidate once and thought it was pretty awesome. It's the only resume that still sticks in my mind.
33
gtaylor 2 days ago 0 replies      
Congrats, Dodd. It's been a good few months for Co-Work.
34
bobidden 2 days ago 0 replies      
Can I ask how you're doing the shadow background on the menu elements? It looks gorgeous.
35
wheelerwj 2 days ago 0 replies      
hey, congrats. That's like the perfect step by step for a launch.

Good Luck.

36
davmar 2 days ago 0 replies      
cool idea. and the layouts are gorgeous! good luck!
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adamio 2 days ago 1 reply      
Any feedback from users on how effective these are?
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Ew7Yb0zx33GC9JJ 2 days ago 0 replies      
Great idea. Glad it's working out. Best of luck!
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sctechie 2 days ago 1 reply      
Nice article. I live right near greenville. Loved the link to coworkgreenville, will check it out. =)
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dglassan 2 days ago 1 reply      
Good read, congrats and thanks for sharing! Did you guys come up with all of those resume designs yourself? Or did you have any outside help?
       cached 9 April 2012 04:11:01 GMT