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Why The US Can Beat China: The Facts About SpaceX Costs spacex.com
484 points by hef19898  3 days ago   256 comments top 32
PaulHoule 3 days ago  replies      
It's astonishing to see this much transparency into launch costs.

Governments have long held this information close to their chests. NASA, in particular, has never published accounting on what the Space Shuttle really costs, since this information would help a competitor (Russians, Chinese, etc.) build a similar vehicle with better economics.

alanbyrne 2 days ago 10 replies      
> "The total company expenditures since being founded in 2002 through the 2010 fiscal year were less than $800 million which includes all the development costs for the Falcon 1, Falcon 9 and Dragon."

Wow. Facebook could have started an entire space program for less money than they spent on Instagram.

drewblaisdell 2 days ago 8 replies      
Is it fair to say that NASA would likely require many times the amount of funding for the same result as SpaceX?

I ask because as someone who was previously unfamiliar with the amount of funding SpaceX had to work with, $800 million sounds like an incredibly small amount of money to do (what looks like) more than NASA does with its ~$18 billion budget.

coenhyde 2 days ago 3 replies      
If SpaceX can put the costs to launch a satellite into orbit on their website, then you'd think that enterprise software companies would be able to price their software ......

By the way SpaceX is my favourite company of all time. Elon Musk is living my 6 year old self's dream (actually my dream is still pretty similar, just haven't got their yet ;p )

angersock 3 days ago 3 replies      
Wonderful quote from the article:

"(This concept may be foreign to some traditional government space contractors that seem to believe that cost overruns should be the responsibility of the taxpayer.)"

evoxed 3 days ago 3 replies      
> The Falcon 9 launch vehicle was developed from a blank sheet to first launch in four and half years for just over $300 million. The Falcon 9 is an EELV class vehicle that generates roughly one million pounds of thrust (four times the maximum thrust of a Boeing 747) and carries more payload to orbit than a Delta IV Medium.

> The Dragon spacecraft was developed from a blank sheet to the first demonstration flight in just over four years for about $300 million. Last year, SpaceX became the first private company, in partnership with NASA, to successfully orbit and recover a spacecraft. The spacecraft and the Falcon 9 rocket that carried it were designed, manufactured and launched by American workers for an American company. The Falcon 9/Dragon system, with the addition of a launch escape system, seats and upgraded life support, can carry seven astronauts to orbit, more than double the capacity of the Russian Soyuz, but at less than a third of the price per seat.

Well now, look at these gems! If you still need a reason to get into this company, just read the first sentence of either quote.

DanI-S 2 days ago 4 replies      
> This is a clear case of American innovation trumping lower overseas labor rates.

As much as I admire Elon Musk, this is a short-sighted, exceptionalist dogma. It may apply in some cases - for the time being - but do people really think that non-Americans are incapable of innovation?

SpaceX have had a headstart, since NASA and their gigantic budget have decided to take advantage of free enterprise. It's only a matter of time before Asian and European governments begin to do the same.

randall 3 days ago 2 replies      
Most YC hackers:

"I'm fixing x because x is broken. They're slow, costly, inefficient, and aren't taking advantage of modern technology."

Elon Musk is doing a YC startup (in spirit) on the most grand scale possible.

pgroves 2 days ago 1 reply      
This is how a CEO gets engineers to want to work for his company.
wave 2 days ago 4 replies      
Actual goal of Elon Musk is to send someone to Mars, but since seems far reaching goal for most people and since they might call him crazy, he is sticking with near space for now. Do not be surprise when he starts talking about Mars.
excuse-me 2 days ago 1 reply      
There's nothing new in this - it has been done before.

Want to build a Mach3 aircraft in the days when most people thought jets were pretty clever?

Want to do it in <2years using materials that had never been used in a plane before - and do it on budget.

And repeat the success with half a a dozen other projects.

And it's described in a book that everyone in technology (or management) should read http://www.amazon.com/Skunk-Works-Personal-Memoir-Lockheed/d...

rorrr 2 days ago 0 replies      
I hope Elon Musk gets all the "man of the year" awards.

The man is brilliant, and there's so much resistance to what he's doing, it's insane.

ewolfe 3 days ago 2 replies      
I had no clue they were profitable. With "over $3 billion in revenues" and "total company expenditures ... were less than $800 million" that is quite the ROI.
MatthewPhillips 3 days ago 7 replies      
> font-size: 11px;


retube 2 days ago 1 reply      
I am surprised that a leavy-lifting rocket capable of achieving orbit only develops 4 times the thrust of a 747.
mukaiji 2 days ago 2 replies      
You are a random billionaire (i.e. not Mark Zuckerberg) with a billion dollars.

You could:
A. Buy Instagram.
B. Build SpaceX from scratch.

Most of them would probably buy instagram. :(

ck2 2 days ago 1 reply      
I wonder how many decades until you can buy an earth-orbit ride giftcard at walmart.
olalonde 2 days ago 0 replies      
> China has the fastest growing economy in the world. But the American free enterprise system, which allows anyone with a better mouse-trap to compete, is what will ensure that the United States remains the world's greatest superpower of innovation.

China is also moving pretty fast towards a free enterprise system while the United States is moving in the opposite direction at approximately the same speed. Well at least, having lived both in America and China, that's my impression.

tlogan 2 days ago 2 replies      
I hope that young entrepreneur will follow more steps of Elon Musk and instead of pursuing fast money start pursuing big dreams. Actually I think that is already happening...
rrrazdan 2 days ago 0 replies      
India's comparable GSLV has a programme cost of 800 million dollars and a launch cost of around 90 million dollars. Given the relatively less development costs in India. I'd have to say very impressive SpaceX.
noomerikal 2 days ago 0 replies      
On a side note, could you pony up for a designer? I felt like I was perusing a README file for StarCraft.
rdl 2 days ago 0 replies      
This is a good reason to the sarbanes oxley. If SpaceX had IPO'd already, more end cheaper capital might have helped, and buying spacex stock would the best thing I can do personally for space for a while.
andys627 2 days ago 2 replies      
Man I wish this could be replicated in train construction - Florida is exploring this. One downside however, is you get what the private developer wants - so they're ending up with a train station at Orlando airport instead of downtown Orlando where it should be. Government is uniquely incentivised to do that right because they gain from increasing property values near where the train will go. Unfortunately local developers won't be so nice as to pony up more for that kind of thing even though they will reap disproportionate rewards. Another example - here in Reno, we're trying to build Bus Rapid Transit through a main corridor that is undergoing a pretty great revitalization. People in NV are especially not cool with traditional way for raising taxes for this kind of project (a la 1 cent sales tax just for BRT/streetcar).

It begs to ask, if the developers nearby are going to gain so much, why aren't they building it themselves? Too many groups that won't take risk... I mean probably 1,000 people who own buildings there will benefit disproportionately... you are never going to get them together to pony up for a streetcar. But the proof is there... look at Portland for a US example... also Seattle and SF and San Diego. Its just easier to get the government to do it. They should put a local surcharge on property values. Its only fair. However, they will f- this project up I'm sure... just like NASA spent a kabillion extra dollars just to build certain parts in certain senator's home states... and my other local train is going to have a snack bar so the Sonoma County housewives that will never ride the train can get a snack; instead of more seats and bike space.

hef19898 3 days ago 0 replies      
Following the discussion on the SpaceX infrastructure, I did some didding on their homepage and stumbled over this article.

Seriously, being in this industry, that's more than just impressive. And you should really ask yourself what you do wrong...

jeffool 2 days ago 0 replies      
Is it dumb of me to ask "so why isn't NASA working on terraforming bodies yet?"

It seems inevitable, and like we may as well start spitballing now. Send a few rooms that attach to the surface and dig in, practice in there remotely.

chrismealy 2 days ago 0 replies      
For the first time in more than three decades, America last year began taking back international market-share in commercial satellite launch. This remarkable turn-around was sparked by a small investment NASA made in SpaceX in 2006 as part of the Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) program. A unique public-private partnership, COTS has proven that under the right conditions, a properly incentivized contractor " even an all-American one " can develop extremely complex systems on rapid timelines and a fixed-price basis, significantly beating historical industry-standard costs.
brainless 2 days ago 0 replies      
This is disruption in true sense. Hope others follow the footsteps.
cridal 2 days ago 0 replies      
Is this guy the Richard Branson of XXI century? Barely in his 40s and:
You've got to be in owe...
workhorse 2 days ago 1 reply      
Elon for president?
mburshteyn 2 days ago 1 reply      
This is why SpaceX is my favorite company.
beernutz 2 days ago 0 replies      
Wow, and that post from Elon is over a year OLD! Wonder where things lie currently?
spenrose 2 days ago 4 replies      
The real cost of space flight is energy, specifically:

1) The huge amount of energy required to lift mass out of Earth's gravity well.
2) The vexing practical expense of obtaining that energy in useful form (e.g. rocket fuel) for launch.

Rocketry's future will always be limited by those daunting constraints.

Fake S3 " Save time, money, and develop offline getspool.com
346 points by jubos  2 days ago   55 comments top 17
Fluxx 2 days ago 2 replies      
In my opinion, having to replicate S3 in development and test isn't the best idea. There are a few problems I see: You have tied yourself to S3's API, you must maintain this "other" S3 by making sure it behaves like the real S3 and your test and development code never actually hits the real API you're using...until staging or production.

There are a few better strategies I can see here:

1. For test, use something like VCR[1] to record real HTTP interactions with the real S3 API during first test runs, serialize them to disk, and then replay them later.

2. Go the more OO route and create an internal business object with a defined interface that handles persistance of your objects. You could have a S3Persister for production and staging, but then you can create a LocalDiskPersister or even MemoryPersister for tests. Hell, you can even keep your own S3 and create OurS3Persister as well. The main point here is that your application code is coded to one API/interface - the "persister" - and you can easily swap in different persisters for different reasons. All the individual persisters can then have their own tests that guarantee they adhere to to Persister interface and do their own individual things correctly.

3. Mock out the calls to your S3 library. It's the job of the library to provide an API interface for you as the application developer to S3, so you can mock out those API calls and trust the library works and is doing the right thing. Since you're mocking things out, you should still have integration tests with the real S3 to verify everything is working, but for quick unit tests mocking works great.

The blog post mentioned they had GB of data, so YMMV on these ideas, but these are strategies I and others have used in the past when dealing with APIs like S3 and they work great.

[1] https://github.com/myronmarston/vcr

ben1040 2 days ago 1 reply      
I had to do some work on an S3-backed project while out at sea on a cruise ship a few months ago (let's save the discussion about working on vacation for the 501 developer thread).

Thanks to git I was able to spool up my commits and then push when I pulled into port and had cellular access, but I wasn't really able to do everything I wanted with the paperclip-backed models without reliable/cheap network access.

An offline emulation mode for S3 sounds pretty nice, thanks for this!

DenisM 2 days ago 1 reply      
How about failure simulations? Also, S3 has eventual consistency, so a read can mIss a recent write.
Ferequently injecting errors and consistency issues would make this very helpful.
justinsb 2 days ago 1 reply      
I'd recommend installing OpenStack's Swift component (S3 equivalent) and evaluating that as well. You can run it on one node for development purposes, you can scale it up if you want private object storage on your network, and many public clouds are offering it: Rackspace Cloud Servers, HP Cloud, AT&T, Korea Telecom, Internap etc

Wikipedia use OpenStack Swift to store their images, and have some good presentations on this.

fennecfoxen 2 days ago 1 reply      
I'm mildly surprised you have in-application bandwidth limits instead of setting up clever firewall rules on your local box. (Latency in particular is a fun thing to add.)
hrabago 2 days ago 0 replies      
I did this on a smaller scale within our SOA environment. We're told our DEV must connect to everyone else's DEV. The problem is everybody's DEV is unstable, because by nature, everything deployed there is a work in progress. If someone's service goes down, it can prevent me from testing and block my progress.

So early on when I developed a mock web service which could serve mock data based on the service I was calling. As a result, I always knew what data was available, had coherent data (foreign keys across systems were always valid), and whenever I needed to, I can bring a system down and test my own system's rigidity and error messages. It was great. And then we reengineered all the systems and everything changed.

RandallBrown 2 days ago 3 replies      
This has little to do with the contents of the article, but I found it interesting.

"For development, each engineer runs her own instance of Fake S3 where she can put gigabytes of images and video to develop and test against, and her setup will work offline because it is all local."

Is spool a team of all women engineers? (I'm just curious as to whether or not that's true because it's so rare. I don't want to turn this into a weird opposite day version of the sexism in computer science debate.)

bdonlan 2 days ago 1 reply      
No license file? It's difficult to use software like this in many organizations if the licensing situation isn't clear...
EricR23 2 days ago 1 reply      
Why not just change the storage strategy to saving files locally while in your test environment? Fog lets you do this easily with its configuration options.
japherwocky 2 days ago 1 reply      
there was a python implementation of something like this in tornado (s3server and s3client), though now I don't see it. Anyone follow that project and know what happened to it?
j45 2 days ago 0 replies      
While the triviality of maintaining a sync between the spec and functionality of a Fake and real S3 will show in time, I think this is a neat idea.

One thought that comes to my mind is if I could get away with building entire apps using this and spin it off to S3 where/if it's needed.

kellysutton 2 days ago 1 reply      
Simple, elegant, awesome.

Have you tested it against paperclip?

deepakprakash 2 days ago 0 replies      
Talk about the timing!

We currently have a setup that needs S3 access to reliably develop/test the app I'm currently working on and I had just sat down planning to remove this dependency, since I will be on the road the next week or so.

This will save me a bunch of time immediately and probably some money later on. Thanks!

deutronium 2 days ago 2 replies      
Could you use Eucalyptus for this?
mikebabineau 2 days ago 0 replies      
A similar tool is available for SDB:


sparknlaunch12 2 days ago 0 replies      
Great concept. Bandwidth cost savings are a big plus.
hashfold 2 days ago 0 replies      
great concept. will use it this weekend.
Meteor is now MIT licensed meteor.com
305 points by nim  12 hours ago   94 comments top 22
Lazare 11 hours ago 1 reply      
When Meteor first launched, I was one of the very very many people who said that Meteor looked amazing, but was afraid that their license would hamper adoption.

With the change in license, I think the only major hurdle has been removed. The fundamental idea is good, their current execution is extremely slick, and their immediate plans[1] look achievable. I have very high hopes for the project.

If you haven't checked out Meteor yet, at least watch the screencast:

[1]: I originally said roadmap; as mcrider rightly points out Meteor does not have one. There is some info floating around about current development goals (notably related to adding authentication), which is what I was thinking of.

guelo 9 hours ago 3 replies      
I feel it is sad that so few HN hackers seem to appreciate the vision of the GPL. GPL needs more indispensable software like this for it to thrive and protect us all from a future of completely locked down computers.
mwill 11 hours ago 5 replies      
Maybe I'm just not the audience for Meteor, because while it looks like a great project but as a nodejs guy, the fact that it hides itself away from the platform and turned away from the fantastic npm makes me sort of weary about it as a whole.

But I imagine people coming from rails or whatever don't find this a problem at all.

heretohelp 9 hours ago 3 replies      
More importantly, how do I keep clients from fucking up my database? How is security being done?

Seriously, if I'm not capable of baking limitations into data persistence/logic at the server level then this entire framework is worthless except for building up a portfolio of cute demos that can't be used for any real work.

architgupta 12 hours ago 1 reply      
I think this is a great move. Longer term it'll be better for Meteor, the team and the community.

Ruby on Rails would be fine as an analogy here. The monetization model might be different from directly licensing and selling the framework, but these guys are smart, they'll figure it out.

I am quite impressed by this. The team listened to the feedback from the community. They weren't obligated to do so :-)

zmmmmm 11 hours ago 1 reply      
Awesome - I was one of those highly critical of the original license, so let me be among the first in congratulating them on making this (quite major) change so quickly.
ashleyw 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Oh, wow! I'd been working on what appears to be a Meteor-like framework with the very premise of "All the same APIs are available on the client and the server " including database APIs!" for the past few days. It came from my frustration of having to duplicate JS code on both the server and client which just seems stupid when you can provide the same API but with different end-points for each side (i.e. client -> API, server -> DB.)
SeanLuke 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Let's hope there's nothing patentable in that project.
sharjeel 9 hours ago 0 replies      
[Checked] Fix License
[TODO] DB Security/Authorization
clavalle 11 hours ago 0 replies      

I think the sky is the limit with this framework.

If these guys can stick to the spirit of the project, add what can truly help push the system forward while ignoring the multitudes of one offs that will try to chip away the utility, this really has a shot of not only being a game changer but helping define the game for years to come.

Great work!

wavephorm 11 hours ago 5 replies      
I think they should've tried to commercialize it. There is a real lack of good, new development systems these days. If you completely open source a new system, developers will just rip it off, contribute nothing, and it will go nowhere. So where's the incentive to continue making it better?

Developers need to wake up, and realize that new, and substantially better systems can be built if they are willing to pay for them. Unfortunately the FOSS community has burned into developers' consciousness to never pay for anything, ever, which produces and environment of extreme lack of innovation.

Our development tools completely fucking suck precisely because developers are no longer willing to buy quality development tools.

js4all 5 hours ago 0 replies      
This is awesome news. There are currently 3 competing frameworks: Meteor, Firebase and Derby, all discussed on HN last week. I guess the new license gives Meteor a big plus.

I am glad they changed their minds.

blhack 12 hours ago 1 reply      
I think we all sortof knew this was what it was going to be.
haraball 3 hours ago 0 replies      
It would be interesting to see some statistics before and after this announcement, even if it's still a young framework.
chrisrogers 12 hours ago 1 reply      
This is great to hear. This issue was one of my great qualms with the platform, and the biggest argument for creating a copycat platform. Now to address the auth/permissions!
olov 6 hours ago 1 reply      
That is very generous. I hope that this is a win-win situation for the ecosystem and their business.
richcollins 11 hours ago 0 replies      
While reactivity is an interesting idea and possible incremental improvement, the huge win is in saving us from building UI. Why aren't there more frameworks like Cappuccino but with built in bindings to the DB?
NanoWar 3 hours ago 0 replies      
(whoa the background needs a <fixed> attribute...)
pixie_ 10 hours ago 2 replies      
is there an open source license that says says free to use for people etc.. but if you have a company larger than x then you must support the project with $$$ ?
jamesmanning 11 hours ago 0 replies      
What's up with all the trolls on this thread?
meta8609 8 hours ago 1 reply      
Why is this framework better than things like ember.js, especially if ember has something like this https://github.com/tchak/colors-demo
zobzu 11 hours ago 4 replies      
Cool I can now use this in my closed source project without ever giving any change back!
Hate this GPL that requires you to give back anything if you let others get your product.
I Guess I'm Not A 501 Developer adit.io
287 points by shimms  3 days ago   178 comments top 54
kevinalexbrown 3 days ago 2 replies      
The workaholic v just-a-job tension seems to stem from the fact that it's difficult, in a team environment, to hire someone for the value added. If you could, then the workaholics could work more, learn more, and get paid more, whatever, and the just-a-jobbers could just work, and everyone would get paid by what they contribute.

To borrow the ideal-world-artisan metaphor, if I want a table made by a carpenter, I don't care how long the carpenter spent making the table, and I (ultimately) don't care if it's just a job to her. I care whether my total investment of waiting and money is worth the table she makes.

Problems arise when it's much easier to measure 'passion' and time spent working than value added. These are probably correlated within reasonable bounds, just like total words in a comment and value added to a discussion are often correlated, but I don't upvote on length. It's annoying to see someone getting more respect than you, but turning out crappier work, just because they stay late and fit the cultural bill.

But the flipside is that if time spent and value added are correlated (and I suppose that's very loose across persons, and even within persons), then pay, and perhaps even personal respect for someone's craft, will be tied to that.

501ers recognize that it will probably result in having less opportunities:

We recognize that your willingness to allow your employment to penetrate deeply into your personal life means that you will inevitably become our supervisor. We're cool with this.

I think that's a good attitude, as long as it's acknowledged that without putting in the extra hours to learn, grow, or ship, you might not grow over time and earn the same respect in the workplace[1], and you might not get paid the same.

[1] Respect as a person, of course, should be independent of work, and respect for your craft should probably be based on what you can do, not how long you spend doing it. My closest friends are extremely talented, and also more on the just-a-job end. This doesn't change how I feel about them at all. It's their life, after all.

batista 3 days ago 10 replies      
Someone commented this on the original post:

>People who work on something they aren't passionate about deserve neither, and their sacrifice will go unnoticed.

To which I reply:

That's an extremely arrogant, insulting and self-entitled notion.

You, sir, ONLY get to do what you "love" because millions of people every after day do what they don't love but have to do anyway (in order to pay for their food and family). People from the guys that work in mines to gather materials to make your computer internals, to guys that transport gas and flip switches at energy plants so that you can have electricity, to the guy that flips your burgers when you go to the fast food joint across the street, to the guy that cleans your offices. Not "loving your job" has nothing to do with an aversion to "hard work" (people work far more hours and intensely in shit jobs, because they have to), or not taking pride in one's work (there are people that DO take pride in doing a good job at cleaning streets from garbage for example --that doesn't mean the love their job).

It's a silly American notion that every job can be (or worse, has to be) the worker's "passion" --and only few get to have the privilege of that notion, and then again only after they have a lot of lucky breaks.

robomartin 2 days ago 6 replies      
Interesting. In my view of the world is that there are no sick days, no personal days, no vacation days and no holidays. Fuck all that.

As long as you own and are responsible for what you are supposed to be doing and deliver on the commitments made you are free to manage your time as you see fit. In reality, it's a team decision and not the decision of the boss (me, in this case). If someone wants to go out of town to see a concert or take the kids to Disneyland for a few days, we talk about it. More often than not there are no issues and the answer is "send pictures". Sometimes the answer is "OK, but could you take the laptop and see if you can finish this little chunk of code". When it can't happen it is obvious to everyone.

Want to take a month off to go down to Argentina? Let's figure out how to do it. You might have to drag along the laptop and keep up with some stuff, but there are probably few reasons to say no. Can I come?

The same applies to sick days or "personal" days (who came up with that term?). You are sick? Please go to the doctor and stay home? Need to go take care of that speeding ticket? Take the day if you have to.

This also applies to work hours. Sometimes you have to put in the time to get something done. When discussed as a team these instanced become self-evident.

I said in another post that I am no stranger to 18 hour days. I hate doing it, but sometimes you have to. In all cases this kind of thing must be fully justified. It can't be the norm. If it is, something is seriously wrong or you need more people.

9 to 5 programmers have one guarantee: They will work 9 to 5 every day and will be held to strict rules when it comes to vacation, personal and sick days. If you want to work a strict 9 to 5 schedule I have to treat you differently. I have to treat you by the letter of the law. So, while the guy/gal in the other plan is in Argentina having fun and doing some coding, the 501'er will be clocking in and out and accounting for meal time and vacation days. Yuck!

I, personally, hate that kind of work accounting. Not for me. To each his/her own.

robomartin 3 days ago 2 replies      
Where does it say that 501's are actually productive and produce good bug-free code?

Being a little bit of a dick here, but programming is art and science and there are aspects of it that require dedication beyond a 9 to 5 mentality. I, for one, prefer to hold reasonable hours and come home to the kids. At the same time, I am no stranger to 18 hour days, seven days a week. Sometimes inspiration and problem solving require you to stay on task longer in order to get things done.

And then there are those bug-hunting missions that sometimes never end. I once spent six months tracking down a software bug in a hardware design (Verilog, FPGA). High-speed digital designs can be notoriously difficult to troubleshoot. The problem was caused by a rounding error in an Excel spreadsheet used to calculate parameters plugged into the code months earlier. We used "ROUND()" instead of "ROUNDUP()". Though I digress, the point is that programming sometimes is about recognizing when you need to do a little (or a lot) more than watch a clock.

I'm not proposing that all programmers ought to work ridiculous hours. Whenever I've done 18 hour stints it took me out of the game for weeks. And that's OK so long as there was a point to exerting yourself to that extent.

The bottom of the manifesto says: "To us it is just a job, but we still do it well."

That, to me, is a guarantee to not being hired. That it is "just a job" means that they might as well be welding, at least to me. I don't want people like that in my team.

Having said that, I am the first one to tell someone to get the hell out of the office if they need to go see their kid perform at their school event at noon. Get the hell out and go enjoy the day with your family. Need to take a four day weekend when it isn't an official holiday? Do it! Send pictures. The point is that you build a team and everyone looks after everyone else while having one hell of a time creating a product. Respect, dedication and consideration. 5:01? How about not coming to work to go fly a kite with your kid? I like that.

edw519 3 days ago 3 replies      
Reminds me of this oldie but goodie:

Good umpire: "I call 'em as I see 'em."

Better umpire: "I call 'em as they are."

Best umpire: "They aren't anything until I call 'em."

Same thing:

Good programmer: "I am a <501 or xxx> developer."

Better programmer: "Watch what I do. That's how you do <xxx>."

Best programmer: "Whatever this project needs me to be, that's what I am."

bbwharris 3 days ago 1 reply      
I think there is a lot of delusion going on here.

In today's modern world, we are intentionally ignoring the rights that were given to us.

8 hours a day was fought for. 40 hours a week was fought for. If you are expected to exceed these limits without compensation, you are being ripped off. You have limited time in this life.

As a developer, you create tremendous value in this world. If you didn't you couldn't demand the salaries that you demand. If it was easy, then the business guys would be learning it and doing it for themselves.

It's a modern skill required by modern business. You should not feel like you are forced to spend every waking moment eating, drinking and sleeping code.

In my personal experiences I have found that I have to force myself to step away. After a few hours the wheels stop spinning, but when I come back I am always excited to work on something. This is far more desirable than feeling the dread that comes from doing something non stop.

Balance is extremely important, I do not understand the opposing viewpoint that we should all be code robots.

DanI-S 3 days ago 1 reply      
Here's something better:

-- The 416 Developer Manifesto --

* I get hired because I'm good at what I do, and excited about it.

* I'm good at what I do and excited about it because I get enough time outside of work to pursue my interests.

* If you want to maintain my value as an employee, make sure I get enough off-time.

roguecoder 3 days ago 1 reply      
Programming is awesome, but so are lots of other things. I don't eat sushi for every meal either.

I have seen so many developers exploited by people making a bundle off their work with the explanation "I am doing what I love!"
Instead, I think it is possible to create without working outside of work hours. I can learn on the job in a way that can be more context driven than reading disembodied books on technologies that will probably never be relevant for my craft.

I don't know about anyone else, but I was always the kid who did the extra credit whether I needed the credit or not. I feel like we still sometimes get stuck in that attitude of needing to do everything in order to not be less-engaged than other people. As long as the community keeps rewarding those over-achievers we will be stuck trying to keep up with the Joneses.

AndrewDucker 3 days ago 1 reply      
I vary on this one. I have a bunch of hobbies, of which coding is one. When I go through a coding phase then I'm not a 501 developer. When I go through a boardgaming phase I am.

In any case, I try not to _work_ more than 40-hours per week, but my play frequently still involves computers.

hkarthik 3 days ago 0 replies      
I've found that assigning a label to myself like '501 developer' is counter productive. My productivity and flow tend to come in waves.

I've noticed that there are times that I'm so interested in the problem at hand that 5:01PM just blows by. When I finally look up from the code, it's 7PM or later. In some cases this lasts for months, because the work is both interesting and rewarding. However, it never lasts for too long because of the inevitable cycle of software as it moves from being greenfield to brownfield.

During such times, I've felt less of a need to attend user groups, hack on personal projects, or do much reading outside of what I need for my immediate job. Between the job and my personal life, I was content with my time spent.

However, fast forward a few months and I'm back to leaving at 5PM so I can read and hack on the side with the extra free time. Over time the day job gets less and less interesting and then I start to look for something new that might trigger my flow once again. And then the cycle repeats.

phillmv 3 days ago 1 reply      
Nothing saddens me more than the really smart developer who has no other interests. How a person can know one subject to such endless detail yet be clueless about the world around them.
tel 3 days ago 0 replies      
So there's simply a fundamental value difference here. Some people love their families, friends, and free time to the exclusion of other things. To them, working is a means to an end. It doesn't actually mean they're not passionate about it, just that they have separated it to a different part of who they are and what they care about. I believe that was the point of the 501 Manifesto.

On the other hand, it's not strange to seek unity between your passion and your work. This is a great path for those who desire to have their material accomplishments define part them and is basically a necessary attitude for living in a meritocracy. It doesn't mean that you dislike your family, friends, and free time, simply that you feel that creation is also of central importance.

It's just different ways to self actualize. You can't compare them, really. You can accept the differences and work with people however makes everyone the happiest and most productive, though. 501 programmers may not have the same need to do exciting, groundbreaking work. They also don't want to spend the time. It doesn't mean you can't make use of them and make everyone perfectly happy. It may mean you don't want to actually work with any of them if you're trying to do something very difficult.

davidw 3 days ago 1 reply      
Looks like semicolons had their run and it's time for something else.
jmduke 3 days ago 1 reply      
To me, the concept of a '501 Developer' as outlined in the manifesto seems kinda foolish. It shouldn't be outside of industry norms to value one's family over one's company, or to treasure time spent with friends over time spent with coworkers.

The list of pitiable/respectable items are a bit different. In particular, "Mostly only read books about coding and productivity" I do find unsatisfactory; the power of literature is massive and too often untapped, and the thought that reading 300 pages about a language or productivity is more valuable than, say, The Brothers Karamazov frightens me a little.

Dearth of passion doesn't make someone a '501 developer', nor vice-versa; I just think being passionate about one subject to the exclusion of everything else is dangerous, no matter the industry or lifestyle.

mtoddh 2 days ago 0 replies      
I'm guessing that most of the people who see long hours as a badge of honor are salaried employees or people who manage salaried employees. One thing I noticed when I switched over to contract work is that once a company has to pay for each hour you work, they are a little less enthusiastic about you putting in long hours. In fact, some of the contracts I was on had caps on the total number of hours you were allowed to bill. Long hours are seen as a sign of passion when companies don't have to pay extra for that time, and seen as a sign of poor time management when they do.
ef4 3 days ago 7 replies      
The only reason this whole debate exists is that there are lots of us who love programming, and would be doing lots of it whether or not it paid.

This naturally makes 501 types uneasy, because it leads to unfavorable comparisons.

StavrosK 3 days ago 0 replies      
I've never heard of this 501 thing before, and I'm not looking forward to all the posts, replies and counter-replies on the HN front page.

Can't we just agree to work during working hours (if you need me to work a bit more as a favor to you, or if you pay me overtime, that's totally okay most of the time), and spend the rest doing what we love, including, if one is so inclined, programming?

bcrescimanno 2 days ago 0 replies      
Why does it always have to be one or the other? Why do we feel the need to assign labels to everything?

And why in the holy hell are some programmers so damn single-minded that they can't accept that others who are passionate about programming can also be passionate about other things. I'm passionate about my job and consider myself among the extremely lucky few who gets to do what I love for a living (and, at the moment, in a place I love doing it making for a great combo). But I'm more passionate about my family at home. I'm also passionate about the music, movies, games, and other arts.

Devoting yourself to one thing is not being passionate about it--it's having a single-minded focus and lacking passion about anything else. Can we please stop confusing those points?

ken 3 days ago 1 reply      
The big problem I see with the "501 manifesto" is that it assumes there is just one thing called "programming".

The kind of programming that was fun for me when I was young is completely different than the kind of programming that employers pay for today.

Why do you think people are spending their free time on Github? They miss programming for fun so much they'll do it for free.

jack-r-abbit 2 days ago 0 replies      
If "501 developer" is being used in a derogatory way, then I am not one. But if we're talking about devs that have "hard stop" point for themselves each day then I am. I like to leave shortly after 5 because I like to have dinner with my family. This is actually an agreement that my wife and I made when I switched jobs and she went back to work (outside the home) after kid #3... we would both do what we could to be home by 6:30 every night. And for the most part we make that happen. Of course stuff happens but we would rather that be the exception than the norm. And neither of us sees a problem with that attitude. I enjoy programming a great deal. I am a problem solver. It bugs me internally when I have to leave a problem unsolved for the next day.

But my take on the whole situation can be summed up like this: I work from home 2 days a week and often times when it is approaching dinner time and I'm still in the office, my wife will come in and ask something like "how much work do you have left?". Well, the most accurate answer is "a lot... weeks" but I obviously can't finish it all tonight. I'll have to stop at some point and there will still be work unfinished. Even if I worked until midnight... there would still be work left. So if I've put in 10 productive hours... why is stopping at 5 any more significant than stopping at 6? or 10?

kamaal 2 days ago 0 replies      
What I don't like about this thinking is to consider anything apart from 'going to the moon' as a job not worth doing.

Everybody has a world of his own. A friend of mine comes from a family of farmers. Back here in Bangalore, we would drive down to his place during our engineering college years. And we would spent great deal of time in fields and a small hill close to his place. Now you really must hang out with those farmers. Try working in the field for a couple of hours and experience a cool breeze blowing through your hair, drying you sweat. Try eating a banana or a guava straight plucked from the tree, try roasting a chicken on a chicken farm. Try climbing a small hill and then rest on it while sleeping and staring right into the sky watching eagles. Try diving in to a the lake near the fields. Do you know how much fun that is? None of that is rocket science but it feels like heaven when you are experiencing it.

These days I try to hang out with cab drivers who drive me back home in the night. I buy them a cup of tea or coffee in the night. And it awesome chatting with them and listening to their experiences. Its crazy how much fun they have.

Some of the words happiest people are the ones who work during the day in the sun smelling the sweat essence of mud.

Passion and fun can be found even in the smallest of the things we do in life. And people do that all the time.

The guide to a happy life is to really focus on how you do things rather than What things you do.

jiggy2011 2 days ago 0 replies      
Is this a binary scale of either/or?

I am on different sides of the spectrum at different times.
I don't mind my programming work but I wouldn't say I was "passionate" about it. 90% of my work is not solving anything technically very interesting. More like fixing up user error , solving minor bugs and making incremental improvements to things.

If I want to do some extra programming outside of work I would prefer to learn some OpenGL or some new paradigm like functional programming than to just do more of the same. Of course plenty of the time once I am finished with working I would prefer to just get on and do something else.

canthonytucci 3 days ago 0 replies      
Very much agreed. In fact, I pity someone who works a job so distasteful/uninteresting to them that they need to go on a rant like this manifesto. There's something to be said for leaving work projects at work, I get that. But every day I get inspired and amazed by the stuff people are doing in the world of software. I like programing, I like computers. Maybe I haven't seen Game of Thrones or spent much time in bars over the last 5 years, but I don't see why that's reason to pity me. If you don't love what you do, do something else.

Software is complex. Complex enough that, for most, if you're not passionate enough about it that it creeps into your hobbies and your reading, you probably won't be much good at it. The manifesto seems to acknowledge this, while at the same time implying that they want to be well paid and get lots of time off. In any other industry I am familiar with, these are the perks of being the best.

Perhaps I'm taking it a big far, but to me, the most exciting software projects are closer to art than any other sort of work. I'm not familiar with many artists who view their works as "just a job", and would be surprised if many compelling works were created by people with that kind of mentality. I think it really reaches out to any kind of skilled work, I wouldn't want to be diagnosed by 501 doctor, bring my car to a 501 mechanic or drive my car over a bridge designed by a 501 engineer.

EDIT: removed ending nastyish statement.

__abc 2 days ago 0 replies      
I don't think this should focus on "are they good developers or not". That's independent and "case-by-case" at the individual level. I don't think we can characterize that entier portion of the workforce one way or the other. This is more about bi-directional expectations between employee and employer.

Additionally, "passion" for the specific things you are building vs "passion for doing a great job" are also independent. They can converge (awesome for you) and sometimes diverge (welcome to life). More importantly, you will experience all three scenarios at different times throughout your career.

In regards to the general relationship I keep with my employees, I personally execute and support the "did the shit that needed to get done, get done" approach. Not sweating when someone logged on for the day, when they logged off, where they worked from, did they have beer during the day (my preferred answer is YES). Thats the trade-off for when we need to work late to sometimes get the necessary shit, done.

My parents prefer a different environment. They have a specific time they show up to work, a specific amount of allotted time for lunch and breaks, and a specific time when they leave. They different, it's not their problem when shit didn't get done. Plain and simple. There is no flexibility and that's the trade-off.

Each has their pro's and their con's and one isn't necessarily "better" than the other. What do "you" want and works best for "you".

What I'm seeing emerge in these discussions (on average) is an arrogant demanding of a blended approach entirely in favor of the the employee. They want to show up generally around nine, take breaks, take lunch whenever, play some foosball. All the "benefits" and be out the door at 5:01 PM with none of the "cons". Additionally, what gets done, gets done. It's not their problem, nor fault, in any capacity if it doesn't get done by 501. Someone project managed wrong, someone did scope properly, etc.

Maybe it's a new world, at this is becoming the norm, however, it frustrates me.

joshaidan 2 days ago 0 replies      
I'm not really sure if this has to be so black or white--you love what you do, or you don't--for most people it's probably pretty grey.

One thing I'll add to the discussion, for myself I've stopped doing contract work in my spare time because I feel it just takes away from my motivation and causes more stress. Instead, I prefer working on my own projects where I have more control over the design and implementation decisions, as well, I choose projects related to stuff that interests me. And by interest I don't necessarily mean computer science related interests, I mean other things like mental health, depression, etc. and using computer science to solve problems related to those fields.

It's all about integrating your life and interests I guess.

klez 3 days ago 0 replies      
I already said this on reddit, but I guess we should make a "501 programming lover" manifesto where we keep everything but the last part of the 501 developer manifesto.
SoftwareMaven 2 days ago 0 replies      
I like programming, but it is far from my passion. My passion is making useful stuff people like to use (and preferably getting paid for it :). I prefer it this way, because it means I can keep my passion when I have to spend a week writing technical documentation or helping the sales team figure out how to turn their laptops on. If it gets us closer to people using the product, I'm good with it.
pnathan 2 days ago 0 replies      
I've worked in those job environments before at other places, e.g., fast food joints, and there's no joy for me in working in an environment where everyone rushes home as quick as they can to get back to their "real life".

I would far prefer to work with someone who likes his job and is okay with working over a bit, and has a github for personal code, and maybe has a tech blog, and maybe contributes to open source projects. Someone who has a personal desire to learn more overall, not just at work.

To paraphrase something my dad, a highly skilled carpenter, once said: "Knowledge is our edge". If you are disdaining knowing more (in this context, taking the time (at work or not) to know more), then you're disdaining your edge in your profession. And that edge/lack of it accumulates.

If you hate your job and your profession so much you can't wait for 5:01 to roll around so you can escape your workplace and software, I don't want to work with you.

I code at home. I'm proud of this. And I want to work with people who understand that.

ajdecon 3 days ago 0 replies      
This does a pretty good job of describing my response to the post too. I think work/life balance is extremely important, but so is enjoying what you do during the day, and continuing to learn about your work and the world at large.

I typically try to work 8 hours a day. I'll work longer during crunch times, sometimes 12-14 hours... but if "crunch time" becomes the new normal I'll abandon ship without embarrassment.

When I'm home, a lot of the time my hobbies are technical: I'll play with personal programming projects, or try out new sysadmin tools, or mess around with a friend's web site. I'll also read books about physics, go fencing, take walks with my wife, play with the cats, go drinking with friends from outside of work, play the trumpet, read ridiculous amounts of science fiction... I know my work/life balance is being impacted when those things are being marginalized.

But I'll keep programming at home, too.

chris_wot 3 days ago 0 replies      
Agreed. Keep your pity.
jimmyjazz14 2 days ago 0 replies      
Its probably a bad idea to attach labels to ones-self. Everyone is different and thats fine.

In my personal experience I have found passion does not equal skill, skill does not equal passion and working long hours does not equal getting things done.

One thing I will say though is that it is important to get outside ones comfort zone; for us programmer types this probably means disconnecting and finding interest outside technology.

chpolk 3 days ago 0 replies      
Definitely some good points. I can relate with, "But the second part makes it sound like your days of learning and creating ended when you got your diploma. I can't respect that." I have a friend (an EE with several jobs offers out of college but who chose to take the most cushy government job that was nothing but paperwork) try to make me feel guilty for spending my spare time working programming a side project rather than going out. He claimed "we graduated, we're done 'really' working" and after talking to him made me realize that he hadn't ever really enjoyed the classes in his major or what he's doing now. I understand there are a lot of people who find satisfaction in their lives outside of work but I think that there are many who never make finding their true passion in life a priority.
jmsduran 2 days ago 0 replies      
After reading the blog post, I actually agree more with the 501 Developer manifesto. One year after graduating from college and landing my first professional job, I discovered that although I love programming, I love life a lot more. For me personally, it's all about maintaining a balance between my career and life.

In the end, no one dies wishing they worked more:

> "Write a technical blog"

I found that I enjoy writing a lot more when it is not about technical stuff. The few technical blog posts I write serve more as a mental bookmark for myself, that I can reference back to in the future.

> "Contribute to open source projects"

Honestly, I have yet to find an open source project that I feel passionate enough about to contribute to regularly outside of work. Until then, I'll continue focusing on my personal projects.

> "Attend user groups in your spare time"

I would rather spend time with friends & co-workers going out to happy hour or watching a good movie rather than discussing the frameworks/languages I use on a daily basis.

> "Mostly only read books about coding and productivity"

For the longest time, all I did was read technical selections on Safari Books Online. It got pretty monotonous after a while. I still read some technical books, but I would pick a great fantasy/fiction novel over a book on cross-browser CSS hacks any day.

> "Push to GitHub while sitting on the toilet"

That's insanitary IMO.

> "Are committed to maximum awesomeness at all times, or would have us believe it"

I'm not that awesome. Being part of the HN community has been an incredibly humbling and educational experience.

overgryphon 2 days ago 0 replies      
Why is obsessive and 501 the only options? Anyone else feel in the middle?

Judging people's work by the hours they keep, or how they choose to spend the rest of their time seems immature and shallow. 40 hours per week is plenty to fulfill job responsibilities (and more), advance passion, grow technical skill, and love what you do. The pace may be a bit slower than 60-80 hours a week, but I find 40-50 more sustainable.

Working longer hours does not equal more done, more passion, or more skill.

pradocchia 2 days ago 0 replies      
I am not a 501 developer, but I work with a very good one, and he is an invaluable source of stability and perspective.
darrikmazey 2 days ago 0 replies      
This labelling (501 or !501) is pointless and arbitrary. I'm a self-employed developer with four children. Some days I work until 11p or even as late as 1a. Some days I quit at 2p and take in a child's soccer game. This isn't a label as much as a choice every day. Both choices come at a cost. Big deal. All choices come at a cost. If I choose family over work, in all likelihood the perception of my dedication will suffer. Contrapositively, if I choose work over family, my relationships will need repair. The labels are meaningless, and perpetually choosing one side is simple indicative of a life out-of-balance. This is all just a side-effect of scarcity of time, and the labelling sounds like an attempt on both sides to justify choices. Ultimately, if I want to be done working at 5:01p (or any other time), then I am, and I take responsibility for those choices and the potential damage to my career. If I want to work until midnight, then I do, and I take responsibility for that choice and the potential damage to my relationships or the hinderance of my pursuit of other goals. Call it whatever you like. Why do we need a manifesto to categorize daily personal choices?
rpicard 3 days ago 1 reply      
I don't understand this manifesto business. Everyone wants, and can get, something different out of a career in software development.

Why do the "501 developers" care that some people would rather program late into the night than go out with people. Likewise, why should anyone care that the they would like to have enough free time to engage in other hobbies.

If I want my job to define who I am, who are you to tell me that it's "wrong"? If you want the free time to do other things, go for it, but don't assume that the lifestyle you want would make everyone happy.

ferrouswheel 15 hours ago 0 replies      
I read this as a "501 Not Implemented" developer. Which doesn't really seem like a good thing to shout to everyone.
jbranchaud 3 days ago 1 reply      
Haskell has no real world use, it just exists because the author wanted it to?

Did I misread that or is that what the author is saying?

entropyneur 2 days ago 1 reply      
That manifesto sounded really bitter. Nobody's judging you for having no passion for programming. But the thing is programming is a craft many people are passionate about and those people are an order of magnitude more productive than you. Sure, if you are willing to work for what an average "just a job" pays, welcome aboard. Otherwise I'm better off hiring someone who gives a damn.

But the comments here perpetuating the fallacy that giving a damn somehow means putting in crazy hours offend me even more than the manifesto. Sure, it's common among the best programmers to live at work because they love their job, but it actually makes them less productive, not more. There's nothing wrong with working nine to five. It's not a manifestation of lack of passion. In fact it's the most rational thing to do and it's in your and your employer's best interest.

jayferd 2 days ago 0 replies      
Leaving at 5 has nothing to do with how "passionate" you are. I write better code when I go slowly and have time to be a human being. Even if it were my company, and I was extremely passionate about the product, I would still set these boundaries, because that's what I believe is vital to my mental health.
nickmain 2 days ago 0 replies      
The role of the 501 Developer is something that we should be striving to automate or abstract away.

I think that the craft of solving real world problems with computers has reached a plateau, through lack of the right tools, programming languages, methodologies, sociological systems, etc.

That 501 Developers are needed to intermediate between the technology and the solution stakeholders or customers seems like an indicator of stagnation or inefficiency in the current approach to software development.

evanlong 2 days ago 0 replies      
Adit has never seen Return of the Jedi. No credibility.
sparknlaunch12 3 days ago 1 reply      
Work life balance? This aspiration applies to all industries.

If you have no other commitments (family, sport, TV etc), then you could spend all waking hours in front of a computer/smartphone writing code.

That feels like am unhealthy commitment.

ryanchamp_ICE 2 days ago 0 replies      
The funny thing about the manifesto that it is proclaiming a particular point of view (while neglecting the fact that most things on the list aren't mutually exclusive), while condemning another.

Dude, it's a personal choice for you to be okay with being average, but don't try condemn people who want to excel. I know that mediocrity loves company but geez.

BlaineLight 1 day ago 0 replies      
Is this related? It's an article I wrote on how WePay hires it's sales team: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=3864412
Killswitch 3 days ago 0 replies      
Hmmm, I work more than 40 hours a week... Between my day job, and getting my own company going, I work roughly 16 hours a day... I enjoy it.

But then again that's during the weekdays, weekends I barely do any work, so I have no problem working such long days during the weekdays.

Bharath1234 3 days ago 0 replies      
Nowadays everyone adding "Adjectives" behind their name for being a Programmer . like this "501" !! You code to live or to get pleasure.That is totally your choice ! But don't pity others for not travelling in your way.I hope they do have certain justifications .
nlz1 2 days ago 0 replies      
Wow. Author missed the point completely.
mletterle 3 days ago 0 replies      
I agree that a job shouldn't define who you are.. but I think what you choose as your profession says a lot.
zinbiel 3 days ago 0 replies      
I guess you aren't. Alright :)
macarthy12 3 days ago 0 replies      
They were my thoughts too
shimm3r 2 days ago 0 replies      
100% agreed to this
guccimane 3 days ago 0 replies      
Your worldview differs from that of others. This happens a lot, no need to get all upset about it. "501 Developer" means absolutely nothing outside a very small group of people -- try not to sweat its significance.
NameCheap Overtakes Go Daddy In Google elliotsblog.com
278 points by tnd  23 hours ago   94 comments top 22
OzzyB 21 hours ago 1 reply      
1,019 people +1'd this

That's what I see under the NameCheap listing, which is number 2, Wikipedia is #1, with GoDaddy at #3.

The GoDaddy listing doesn't seem to have any +1s under it.

Could this be the effect of Google using G+ data to influence its search results? Thus, by giving more weight to G+, plus, GoDaddy's sinking popularity "socially", equals, a drop in its rank.

ComputerGuru 20 hours ago 9 replies      
Does NameCheap let you do (I forget what it's called) your own nameserver on your own domain for free?

i.e. having registered example.com with NC, can you set up ns1.example.com to be the nameserver for example.com free of charge? Many registrars charge a fee for this (when they really shouldn't)


Seriously? Downvotes? It's just a question. There WAS a company that does that, it was mentioned here on HN during the great GoDaddy exodus, but I cannot recall which.

RegEx 21 hours ago 0 replies      
To verify search results with no personal settings, append &pws=0:


jwarzech 20 hours ago 1 reply      
I actually was just in the middle of buying a domain name, decided that while I'd like to get away from GoDaddy I can't really afford to transfer all of my domain names right now and would like them all with the same register.

Well at checkout for some reason the PayPal button was missing and I didn't feel like typing in my CC (I know thats pretty lazy) so I decided to check and see NameCheap's price and with private registration (which was free) it was going to be $8 cheaper than GoDaddy. Needless to say I'm going to start moving my domains over.

chrisguitarguy 22 hours ago 3 replies      
NameCheap overtook Go Daddy for the author. Search results change based on location, your preferences, search patterns, and just about everything else. One search does not a ranking change make.
nextparadigms 22 hours ago 1 reply      
I figured this will affect GoDaddy in the long term much more than it did in the short term, when people said "after all the fuss, it seems GoDaddy didn't lose that many users".

The point was that people wrote a ton of negative articles about GoDaddy then, and since that day forward virtually no one will recommend GoDaddy anymore, and instead will (probably) recommend NameCheap or someone else. I would expect the GoDaddy exodus to continue in the next few years.

yaix 4 hours ago 0 replies      
I tried a Google search for "domain name" (in Chromium Incognito Window, to avoid any "social" stuff) on my Netbook.

I don't see Wikipedia or NameCheap. I don't see any search results at all.

What I see above the fold is exclusively advertisements. In the center column are huge AdWord ads including deep links. And in the right column is another stack of 160px Adword ads.

Then there are some internal Google links (sign in, Why these ads?, +You, etc).

That's it! Well done, Google.

trevin 21 hours ago 1 reply      
Google has been testing some pretty major algorithm changes in the last 5 or so days. Everything has been extremely volatile and major SERPs are changing every few hours.

Several prominent, white hat companies have even went missing in the Google's rankings for their [brand name] this week: https://plus.google.com/111294201325870406922/posts/NhssnKgf...

Not buying this as a long lasting rankings change until it sticks around for several weeks.

moe 14 hours ago 0 replies      
Between their recent multi-day nameserver outage and their lack of auto-pay and their clumsy interface I'm growing increasingly tired of namecheap...
LyleK 20 hours ago 1 reply      
Crud. There goes my hipster cred. Been using NameCheap for years, now they are too mainstream.
smackfu 20 hours ago 0 replies      
Of course Go Daddy still has the actual top result... the first sponsored result in the peach box. Along with Network Solutions and 1&1.
Tim-Boss 19 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm very happy to report that in the UK GoDaddy don't even appear on the first page of results!


ccbean 21 hours ago 0 replies      
Go Daddy was catching some flack[0] when it was discovered that they were appending their link to the bottom of web pages built with their web page builder tool called Website Tonight. I wouldn't be surprised if Google caught on and devalued a lot of their links with similar anchor text.

[0] http://yoast.com/godaddy-link-building/

mistercow 20 hours ago 1 reply      
Not on verbatim search with personalization off. This is one of the reasons I really dislike personalized search; it makes searches irreproducible.
detay 13 hours ago 0 replies      
Namecheap does not seize your expired domain and does not try to sell it back to you overpriced.
Namecheap does not have a bloated disfunctional website.
Namecheap does not have hidden costs.
Namecheap is developer friendly, has an API and a sandbox.
Namecheap does not fuck the consumer.
bizodo 22 hours ago 1 reply      
Now some of the aggregators need to send traffic to them also I.e. leandomainsearch.com and domaintyper.com which I love promote godaddy.
smackfu 20 hours ago 0 replies      
GoDaddy still wins for "domain names" when I'm signed out or in.
Kiro 21 hours ago 1 reply      
Go Daddy is on 8th place for me.
garrett_smith 22 hours ago 1 reply      
I predict the SEO circle jerk will out them soon for begging, borrowing and or buying links. Way to blow up their spot.
abuark 22 hours ago 13 replies      
I am looking for alternatives to "Go Daddy". What choices do I have other than "NameCheap" ?


edzme 13 hours ago 0 replies      
Whatever it is I'm for it. F u daddy.
arunoda 12 hours ago 0 replies      
OH! What is SOPA has done to Go Daddy. Oh my
Free beautiful UI elements for developers creativemarket.com
274 points by sinzone  2 days ago   41 comments top 17
proexploit 2 days ago 1 reply      
This was intended for people who already had an account and the title of this submission doesn't reflect that. I believe that makes the process of asking for a login even more acceptable.

Text from the email they sent out today:

Free Goods, exclusive for our early-access members.
Creative Market is coming soon! Until then, here's a collection of great content we're offering free for a limited time, as a special thank you for your early support.

massarog 2 days ago 3 replies      
zorbo 2 days ago 2 replies      
I can't find a license for this free content anywhere? There is some stuff about the service itself in the Terms of Use Agreement:

"Creative Market Service. Subject to the terms and conditions of this Agreement, you are hereby granted a non-exclusive, limited, non-transferable, freely revocable license to use the Service for your personal, noncommercial use only and as permitted by the features of the Service."

It is unclear if this pertains to the service itself, or to the content I download. Perhaps it is more clear in normal cases when you pay for the content?

rurounijones 2 days ago 2 replies      
Heey this looks interesting.

Wow, that looks good, I will download that

"Create an account to download these Free Goods." popup appears.

Oh goddamn it, "Free" eh, oh well, I will go back to browsing the other stuff so I will just close...this..popup...where is the close button!? All the preview boxes have the little X, why not this?

I am not impresssed.

alimbada 2 days ago 1 reply      
Why is the "Sign In" button right ... at ...... the .......... bottom ............. of ................ the ................... page?
Thibaut 2 days ago 1 reply      
I've coded many UI elements over at

No registration required and licensed under MIT.

ESPN_Boris 2 days ago 1 reply      
There are some freebies over at http://impressto.com/mains as well.
jdelard 2 days ago 1 reply      
365psd.com - Daily free psd (some of them amazing & inspiring)
benvds 2 days ago 0 replies      
I'm never that enthusiastic about these kinds of ui element designs. Maybe it works in flash but the user experience when translated to html/css/js is really hard to get right. Just look how much effort bootstrap is taking.

The icons etc. are great though.

danberger 2 days ago 0 replies      
Interesting detail... the goods are randomized on page load. Nice.
bradhe 2 days ago 0 replies      
So happy to see Creative Market open up! Huge respect for the guys behind it, and it's been fun watching them make it happen.
sktrdie 2 days ago 1 reply      
These designs look great, however I thought there was an actual CSS/HTML attached with it. Unfortunately it seems like it's only a simple PSD file.
evilswan 2 days ago 1 reply      
Anyone care to leech them all and make a torrent?
My corporate firewall won't allow it, or I'd be doing it now. :(
sidwyn 2 days ago 0 replies      
Why isn't there a download all button?
davidlumley 2 days ago 0 replies      
I've been following the design of this on dribbble for a while now, glad to see it's finally getting there!
finalsonic 1 day ago 0 replies      
Some good UI elements here as well: http://menucool.com/

I like the slideshow: http://menucool.com/javascript-image-slider

juhe 2 days ago 1 reply      
Do we really need it after bootstrap was released?
Redesign: Users: Thrilled. Conversion Rates: Up. Sales: Unchanged. kalzumeus.com
265 points by wglb  1 day ago   107 comments top 26
patio11 1 day ago 9 replies      
Happy to answer questions, as always.

By the way, roughly 3/4 of A/B tests I participate in (my own and for clients) fail to improve business results. This compares with approximately 2% of A/B tests I've ever seen with in-depth blog posts, so I tried to redress the balance here.

csomar 1 day ago 5 replies      
I'm not sure if I have high expectations, became too damn good at it, or this is just a bad designer.

So take this as a constructive criticism and I have nothing against the designer, nor I know him.

I'll begin with the HTML/CSS parts. He is a Web Designer, and not simply a designer; so he should use the best practices

1- Use the HTML5 Doctype

2- Removes unnecessary space (empty lines and spaces). Why the extra bits?

3- JavaScript, I see that you are loading a good chunk of JavaScript in the HEAD and you are loading a bunch of it in the end. For example the Amazon JS file (http://s3.amazonaws.com/new.cetrk.com/pages/scripts/0004/737...) is certainly not usable, and is yet a whole HTTP request.

4- In the JavaScript file (http://images2.bingocardcreator.com/javascripts/bcc-all.js?1...), you are loading a ColourPicker and other unused stuff. This is a waste of bandwidth, latency, memory and speed. You don't need JavaScript in your main page, apart from the analytic and maybe A/B testing stuff.

5- Unobtrusive JavaScript. (line 181 of the HTML)

Enough, though there are endless problems with the coding part so don't take this list as an exhaustive review. For the design, it just sucks. I agree that simple designs (K.I.S.S) are better, but they should be crafted. I won't complain much, but here are two snapshots of what I'm talking about

1- http://dl.dropbox.com/u/2777218/shot1.png

2- http://dl.dropbox.com/u/2777218/shot2.png

Again, take this as a constructive feedback and I have nothing against your business; and what matters finally are the sales/$$$.

Take a look at http://www.premiumpixels.com/ if you want to see some carefully crafted designs.

InfinityX0 1 day ago 1 reply      
Something fundamentally missing from both versions - trust signals. Why does a user want to trust this software? You go to http://www.seomoz.org/, you see Zillow, Home Depot, Yelp and etc "love their software". Same with 37signals - WB and Kellogg's are using Basecamp? http://37signals.com/ Why isn't my company?

It is not explicity apparent that anyone loves this software, especially nobody they know or have heard of, so why should they use it? It doesn't have to be who uses it, but could also be "featured on" if you (Patio11) got coverage and co-linked to the service there as well, which I bet is more prominent. Of course, families don't care about Techcrunch - relevant news is needed.

hop 1 day ago 1 reply      
Honestly I think the site is really ugly - the color scheme, all the same size text, '96 aesthetic... it looks like a ghetto SEO trap website. Please don't take offense, thats my snap judgement of seeing it. What if you tried letting a designer do something on par with your payment processor Stripe.com - picture those cards on the right as bingo cards, good simple headline, call to action.
mcfunley 1 day ago 0 replies      
You don't have enough data to really draw any conclusions. In the last step in the funnel, the completion rate with the redesign is between 94-97% with 95% confidence. With the old design it's 92-96% with 95% confidence. Those regions overlap and the designs might be the same or they might be different.
MarkMc 1 day ago 1 reply      
Great article, Patrick, but I'm a little concerned about this line: "I will likely finalize the redesign and kill the old version in the coming weeks."

Please, please tell me that if you kill the old version you will have the numbers to show that that the old one is not, say, at least 5% better than the new one. At the moment you seem to be 'leaning' towards the new version even though sales from the old version are higher!

It doesn't matter how much time and money you spent on the new version, or how much better it looks, or how much easier it is to use. What matters at the end of the day is how much money it makes, so run the split test until you are (statistically) confident that you are not throwing money away when you kill one of the designs.

droithomme 1 day ago 0 replies      
Hi Patrick! Good article, thanks.

I don't see the new web page as an improved design though, the lack of alignment between elements, weird open spaces and element sizing not being appropriate to the layout are all evidence the designer was amateurish.

If interested, commentary on the page as annotation is available here: http://imgur.com/HsG6E

(Fair disclosure: I don't sell such services and am not pimping, just commenting.)

stevenj 1 day ago 0 replies      
Personally, I think the landing page should simply be this (minus the "Featured Bingo Activities" heading and half-horizonal line on the bottom): http://imgur.com/GyRu8

and then add the rest of the info that's currently below this part into an additional tab up top, perhaps called: "Info" (and it should be the first tab -- furthest to the left).

ekanes 1 day ago 1 reply      
Thanks for sharing. Just wanted to add that if people's subjective perceptions of BCC (modern! clean!) are improved, this may improve (admittedly hard to measure) word of mouth. Keep it up!
wildwood 1 day ago 0 replies      
Thanks for writing this, these are some cool numbers to poke at.

You mention in the write-up that you've already done a lot of work to get your User Success percentage high. Is this the first time that you've seen a disconnect between User Success improvements and sales increases? Or did you pick this more as a useful, dramatic example?

jseims 1 day ago 2 replies      
I own a subscription-based online business, and I've done many A/B tests of new designs, and my conclusions is pretty similar to yours.

Namely, it's always way more work than you expect, especially when you have legacy customers with prior expectations.

And results hardly ever budge.

My hypothesis is A/B testing can move the needle for light engagement, like "try a free trial". But pulling out a credit card requires a lot of motivation, and the 0.1% of your visitors that have this motivation are relatively unaffected by your design.

pbreit 1 day ago 0 replies      
Bingo card creation is one of the few apps where I would probably avoid a "simple, elegant, modern" design. I would expect more of a cartoonish, game-y design.
johndevor 1 day ago 0 replies      
This is probably what Craigslist figured out a long time ago.
kiba 1 day ago 0 replies      
VLC is the media player that can play anything!

Well, when it couldn't play something, it was very memorable to me.

adrianhoward 1 day ago 0 replies      
One comment on the amount of time you've looked at the new redesign over. A pattern I've noticed with A/B testing more radical redesigns is that there's often a dip/level track for the first week or two - followed by another more radical jump (in either direction :-) in the following month.

I'd be interested if you see something similar as the month progresses.

Also - a question not directly related to the new design - but I'm curious :-)

On either home page design there's no social proof info (testimonials, number of users, total #bingo cards made, etc.). Which intrigues me since it's something that pretty much always has a positive affect in my experience (which, I admit, is largely in sites fairly different from BCC). In once case we got a twenty-something% increase in conversion in the checkout process by adding in some targeted quotes on value-received/money-saved on the final "give me your money" pages.

This seems like such an obvious thing that you've probably tried it already. Is there a reason you didn't go for it?

bambax 1 day ago 1 reply      
> and the before and after redesigns are very compatible at the DOM label


hrabago 1 day ago 0 replies      
Lesson learned in the opening paragraphs - unsolicited email still works, even amongst the most internet-smart targets.

* with the right circumstances

smattiso 1 day ago 1 reply      
In the past you have talked about just using off the shelf themes from ThemeForest and tweaking those. Is there a reason you thought BingoCardCreator needed a truly unique design?

I'm building a couple sites at the moment and am having them designed from scratch but I'm wondering how you determine the cost/benefit of tweaking something off the shelf versus building your own?

rbxbx 1 day ago 0 replies      
This is a wonderful example of "Working Code Wins". Keep in mind though that often this complexity doesn't scale, for those of you on a team looking to implement similar A/B test code ;)

Way to be scrappy, Patrick.

bemmu 1 day ago 0 replies      
Part of it might be that people who really really need something are more likely to convert even if a design is a bit ugly. By improving design you get more of the less serious people to give it a try, but then they are not as likely to convert.
pestaa 1 day ago 3 replies      
I think it is too early to judge. I've never done A/B testing, but I think the point is to do it continously; not for a week and decide it is stupid.

Let's say Patrick would continue this for 9 more weeks; so far we've seen 10% of the whole test. Let me illustrate an edge case: after 10 weeks, the new site has made 134 sales, the old one has 125. 13/13 after 1 week seems about right, but 134/125 is more than 7% increase.

dataminer 1 day ago 0 replies      
I would suggest adding some human faces to the design (e.g pictures of a classroom, family playing bingo). Add a tutorial video on the front page displaying how "easy" it is to use bingo card creator. Also remove the "try now" button since you already have a 30 days return policy and see how it goes.
underwater 1 day ago 0 replies      
Patrick, why chose 50% as the split for the new design? Were you concerned with about confusing customers if the new design tested poorly and you switched everyone back to the old one?
damoncali 1 day ago 0 replies      
Isn't the obvious next step to further restrict the freebies? I have a hard time putting this in the "didn't matter" category.
mmhd 1 day ago 0 replies      
You know, just because you have an immaculate Bingo generating website, doesn't mean people's interest of making bingo cards will suddenly go up.
valladont 1 day ago 1 reply      
Thanks for sharing. There is some very useful and interesting information in this article.
Pacman running on DCPU-16 fingswotidun.com
253 points by reitzensteinm  1 day ago   55 comments top 10
jgrahamc 1 day ago 2 replies      
How utterly marvellous! The entire outpouring of exploration around DCPU-16 is a wonderful example of the hacker-spirit "Here's a thing, what can you make it do?"
nezzor 1 day ago 3 replies      
While certainly very cool, this is unfortunately using an unofficial sprite spec[1].

There's plenty of awesome things being done with the official specifications though, like this minesweeper clone: http://0x10co.de/lqnit and this simple raycaster: http://0x10co.de/o3xss

Vim is also in the process of being ported: https://github.com/DanielRapp/0xVim

[1] http://fingswotidun.com/dcpu16/sprites.txt

cs702 1 day ago 3 replies      
This brings back distant memories for me: ages ago, just for fun, I wrote a quick-and-dirty PacMan clone for the TRS-80 Color Computer, which was powered by a lousy-by-present-standards Motorola 6809 processor.

I have to agree with some of the other comments here, 0x10c looks to be some sort of milestone: a fully programmable, Turing-complete game!

catilac 1 day ago 2 replies      
It's kind of insane that people are writing games in assembly for a CPU in a game. I feel like 0x10c is going to be some sort of milestone in terms of innovation.

Next up is the immersive technology.

swah 1 day ago 1 reply      
Having good names for functions and variables makes even assembly readable.

Names: what a great idea.

rweba 1 day ago 2 replies      
Darn, looks like this is not editable like the code at http://0x10co.de

I was looking forward to seeing if I could figure out how to cheat and give myself infinite lives (I'm not very coordinated so that's the only I'll ever win ;-))

ja27 20 hours ago 0 replies      
As great as Raspberry Pi is, this is much more likely to get my kids and their friends programming.
sp332 1 day ago 0 replies      
Note for people with narrow screens: if you scroll over to the right you can run the code :)
silasb 23 hours ago 1 reply      
Is this the new demoscene?
psquid 17 hours ago 1 reply      
Is it just me, or do the ghosts seem to all be moving fairly randomly, rather than following 4 different, but consistent, behaviours (like in the original Pacman)?
I Learned to Speak Four Languages in a Few Years: Here's How lifehacker.com
249 points by cwan  1 day ago   165 comments top 31
acqq 1 day ago  replies      
I just don't believe his claim: "C1 fluency in French in about 5 months" if he started from 0 unless he didn't do anything but learning the language in the target country. C1 is a damn high fluency:


"Can understand a wide range of demanding, longer texts, and recognise implicit meaning. Can express him/herself fluently and spontaneously without much obvious searching for expressions. Can use language flexibly and effectively for social, academic and professional purposes. Can produce clear, well-structured, detailed text on complex subjects, showing controlled use of organisational patterns, connectors and cohesive devices."

I'm a long-time foreigner in a German-speaking country, learning German after already speaking two more languages apart from my mother tongue, not knowing German before I came here, so I know how many nuances a living language has. Had he say A2, or B1 if he's a language talent, I'd believe him, C1, I can't imagine. I can only guess he didn't actually try to pass some formal verification tests, or he didn't start from 0, there simply must be something he avoided to say. Or he simply lies to himself (and us) that it's actually C1 what he reached in five months.

graeme 1 day ago 6 replies      
Another great resource is Pimsleur. I've used their courses to learn Italian and German.

It's a half hour of audio each day. The key is that you speak out loud. You can do it while cooking or driving, or any other activity that is routine and non-verbal.

They teach you to pronounce phrases very well, and you learn the basic structure of the language. Once you can say "I would like a glass of wine", you can easily learn to say "I would like X".

When I got to Italy, people thought I had been living there for a year.

There are only two things you MUST do:

1. Do a lesson every day.
2. Speak out loud, in a normal conversational tone. The program is teaching you to have conversations.

I love these courses so much that I'm compelled to gush about them whenever language learning is mentioned. They won't make you a native speaker, but you'll quickly reach a level where you can advance rapidly.

why-el 1 day ago 6 replies      
I speak three languages fluently (Arabic, French, and English), and I have the same advice for anybody who wants to learn a new language:

- Watch their news media. For instance, if you are learning Arabic, then watch Arabic media. It might be tough at first, but just go at it. Be a baby. Babies bombard their minds with input and eventually patterns form.

- Pick a TV show you saw and watch the whole thing again using language-you-want-to-learn subtitles. This can be fun, and well things will be mentioned so often they will stick. This is extremely effective, and my English vocabulary improved dramatically this way. I prefer this to carrying cards and trying to memorize them. Its unnatural.

- Go to a country that speaks it.

Jun8 1 day ago 3 replies      
I looked at the estimates for learning difficulty for English speakers (http://voxy.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/110329-VOXY-...) and saw that they mix together the language difficulty with the difficulty of the writing system. For example, Japanese (labeled hard) and Turkish (labeled medium) are similar (relatively speaking, looking from a English speaker's vantage, also add Korean to this group). In the explanation for why Japanese is so difficulty they mention the three different writing systems, etc., which is true (some consider the convoluted Japanese writing system to be the most complex in the world, on par with Maya hieroglyphs). But what if you want to learn just spoken Japanase? Similarly, what if you wanted to learn Turkish in the 1910s when it was still using the (modified) Arabic alphabet?

As for the "thousands of characters" scare for Chinese, I've read estimates that for daily communication you can make do with less than a thousand characters.

huherto 1 day ago 0 replies      
Learning a second language allows you to appreciate the commitment that it requires. People who has never gone thru the process, don't appreciate it and they think it is a matter of studying six months one hour a day. I had a supervisor who said that he was going to learn Spanish (at 55) so we can tell him stuff that we didn't know how to say in English. I have been learning English for 23 years since I was 21. I felt this was insulting. Somehow he thought he could do it; may be he felt he was smarter than us because his English was fluent. Of course he was never able to say anything in Spanish.
alasano 1 day ago 0 replies      
I was forced to leave my home country at the age of 3 because of war and then after 6 years in Germany we were given no choice but to leave the country since the refugees were costing the German government too much money and various other reasons.

There's plenty of time to make a new life in 6 years only to be forced to throw it all away. We were given a choice between Australia, the US and Canada. We ended up in Quebec city where I've been for almost 14 years now (since September 98').

Even though the journey was hard for the 4 of us, harder for my parents than for me and my sister, I regret nothing. I'm fluent in 4 languages and functional in 2 others with a brain wired for learning to speak.

Upon arrival at 9 years old I was the best in French after only 1 year, in a school filled mostly with people raised on the language. Plus I was picking up English at an amazing rate thanks to the Simpsons playing 6x more often than in Germany. Add subtitles and the fact that I knew all the episodes anyways and you get an abnormal learning rate.

What I'm trying to say is, bullshit as to C1 fluency, I was under ideal conditions to get there (and C2) in a little less than a year with a brain that acts like a sponge at that age. His method may get him towards his objectives faster but I think he may overestimate his abilities.

AznHisoka 1 day ago 0 replies      
alljapaneseallthetime.com basically recommends same techniques: listening first, then verbal. He even goes to the extreme of listening to the foreign language 24/7, even in your sleep. Have kanji (or hanzi, or arabic) posters displayed in your bathroom. Turn the radio on when you're in the shower. Listen to podcasts when you're at work and subway. Keep those podcasts on while you're sleeping so you hear it first thing when you wake up.

Immerse yourself completely, and it'll almost be the same as listening in that foreign country.

mtjl79 1 day ago 1 reply      
As an American who speaks multiple languages, the thing for me was learning the first. When you learn another language you get a true understand of your own language that other people don't understand who are not bilingual.

After you learn a second language, others get much much easier and the learning curve is much shorter.

LyleK 1 day ago 0 replies      
Great tips! Another fascinating (Creative Commons-licensed!) framework I have heard about recently is Language Hunters. http://www.languagehunters.org. Their methods involve playing games with native speakers, in person or via Skype. They claim someone can reach fluency in a few months.
JohnLBevan 1 day ago 0 replies      
Sounds like an opening for an App.

Gabriel's put a lot of effort into creating his flashcards, but they'd be the same for everyone - so you could allow the community to generate the cards, and the part of the community for whom this is their native language could rate these cards, the best bubbling to preference.

The use of existing sites (Google Translate / Lang-8) to get/validate translations is good, but this could be baked into the same system as the flashcards, using that system's community, or having an API to connect that system with the external sites so that it's just one system from the user's perspective.

In terms of reading books / watching tv / etc, again a catalogue of links to e-books / youtube clips / etc., along with ratings of difficulty could be maintained by the community and presented through the app.

Build this on top of facebook / google plus / etc and tools such as hangouts are also available to help users from different countries / of different native languages talk to one another, taking it in turns of 30 min sessions in one another's languages.

DanBC 1 day ago 1 reply      
This is what happens when I try to learn a language by watching movies.


This is also pretty much what happens to me when I'm in the US. I think I'm talking real words, but people don't understand me.

countersixte 1 day ago 1 reply      
http://www.memrise.com is another spaced repetition alternative to Anki. You'd need another tool to practice your grammar, but for vocab alone it works great.
krollew 1 day ago 0 replies      
It migh sound unbelievable, but why not?

I'm learning Ukrainian and Russian for 3,5 months. I understand Ukrainian just like that and understand Russian quite well; written and spoken. I speak ukrainian quite good and start to speak russian (because I started with ukrainian and didn't write russian first). It was 3,5months of nearly no effort maybe couple hours a week.

OK, I'm polish so slavic languages are nothing new to me, but many people learnt russian here with nearly no result. I think it's way of learning. I just started write and read ukrainian and russian bit later.

If I learnt familar language so fast with no effort why not to learn european language in 5 months of some effort? It's possible since european languages are not completely different and I know english and understand german now. Well, maybe it won't be C1, but I can believe there are people with better language skills than me.

kentosi 1 day ago 1 reply      
If he claims that he's now fluent in French then he needs to back this up with a posting of his voice (or a youtube clip) of him speaking in it. Let that be the judge of how fluent he is.
pothibo 1 day ago 0 replies      
I'm always irritated when people talk about how good they are in [xyz] language. Here in Québec City, I hear all the time how this person is fluent in english and everything.

I spent 1 year in New Zealand when I was 17, I learned the language the hard way, when I got back, I was fluent, not bilingual but fluent.

Now, 10 years later, I'm no where as good as I used to be, still I find people who tell me they are fluent in english and how they can express themselves nearly perfectly in english. If I have the luck to hear them speak once, I usually figure out right away how their english is (poor). On the other hand I have a friend that is perfectly bilingual from birth. He never claimed he was so and I knew about it after I knew him for a year...

This is a personal story, I agree, but it does show a trend. People who claims that "speak", "are fluent", etc. are usually to be taken with a grain of salt. There's no magic in this world, and language is hard.

There's no such thing as a free lunch

sakopov 1 day ago 0 replies      
My native language is Russian and I have never met a foreigner who mastered it even after years and years of practice. It is almost unheard of to find a foreigner who can speak and pronounce correctly. Usually it's one or the other. The majority of native Russians spend 12 years learning Russian grammar and still cannot spell right. I find it hard to believe that a non-native speaker could. On the other hand it took me 3 months to become fluent in English at 14 while attending a high school in the US. Another 6 months to lose my accent and by the end of the year i was thinking in English. Being immersed in the culture of native speakers is probably the best way to learn any language. However, overcoming the complexity of a language is sometimes very difficult/impossible.
zerostar07 1 day ago 0 replies      
Once i used a chrome extension to replace web banners with flashcards. Now i 'm bombarded with words.
mshafrir 1 day ago 1 reply      
If you need help deciding which language to learn, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_languages_by_number_of_...
pavel_lishin 1 day ago 2 replies      
Anki is definitely not free on mobile devices.
drucken 1 day ago 0 replies      
This guy's method is a very solid approach to learning languages especially for Romance and Germanic languages, even if his claimed results (C1 in 5 months) are hard to believe for ordinary people.

Two other resources which are inline with his approach are the Assimil series, which is highly regarded by non-academic linguists (and some practical academics), and the LingQ words-in-context language learning website.

nathell 1 day ago 1 reply      
Can anybody share his/her self-made Anki DBs or recommend some good-quality ones? This looks to be of tremendous utility to other language learners, myself included (I'm mostly interested in English, French and German).
inspiredworlds 1 day ago 0 replies      
Its great to see this kind of discussion on Hacker News and how people are hacking their way to learning a language. I think its kinda difficult to obtain that level of fluency without living in the country, being immersed, and communicating with other people. There are certainly tools and ways that can aid you to learn - I've done similar things to learn a language such as learning from movies/tv shows/CD's/books/mobile apps/sitting near people on the train and listening to their conversation.

I've actually made it my mission to make languages fun and easy to learn, and started a company called Native Tongue. If you are interested in learning a language check out our vocabulary mobile apps for Spanish and Mandarin. They're called Spanish Smash and Mandarin Madness.


sparknlaunch12 1 day ago 0 replies      
Immersion is most powerful. ie living in the country, forcing you to live, eat, breath the language.

However as described, a mixture of techniques is needed. Writing, reading, talking, listening. Plus practice, practice, practice.

There are a few examples of people learning languages quickly... Like get fluent in 3 months. Once you understand the mechanics it is easier.

Also some languages are easier than others. Germanic languages 'should' be easier for English speakers.

kenrikm 1 day ago 0 replies      
English/Spanish here. My wife is Cuban and did not speak much English when I meet her so it was a Huge motivating factor. ;) Italian and Portuguese will be next for me as once you know Spanish you automatically know big chunks of other Latin based languages.
mschnell 1 day ago 0 replies      
Almost everything ever asked about language learning can be found in the forums of 'How to learn any language' [1]. But careful, you can get hooked pretty fast.

[1] http://how-to-learn-any-language.com/e/index.html

atroche 1 day ago 0 replies      
I've been having an awesome time learning Spanish using http://duolingo.com for the past few weeks.
surferoso 1 day ago 5 replies      
downvote me please, but why is this on HN?
I am currently learning Swedish just because we moved here for work, but English is the language we ALL speak at work, no matter where we come from. most HNers would need to learn a language if they get a job overseas for daily survival outside of work, @ work I bet 100% will be speaking English.
vertis 1 day ago 0 replies      
Awesome story. I had to laugh at the part where you linked the language difficulties. I had a somewhat abortive attempt to learn Chinese last year (we have an office over there). I don't think I've ever come up against something quite so hard as trying to get the tones right in Chinese.
5vforest 1 day ago 1 reply      
This is great -- although IMO not a replacement for programs like Rosetta Stone, as this method requires significantly more dedication.
everyguy 1 day ago 0 replies      
I taught myself Japanese using basically this method and it works.
awayand 1 day ago 0 replies      
dont believe everything you read
FBI seizes riseup.net server riseup.net
248 points by quadrahelix  1 day ago   106 comments top 21
electromagnetic 1 day ago 9 replies      
I do not understand the sledgehammer approach the FBI 'cybercrimes' division deals with things with.

The FBI are not police, are not detectives, and are not competent in these matters. I'm sorry but covert monitoring of a server is going to be vastly more beneficial for an operation than taking the server and is going to net more targets and more evidence.

I remember stories of the FBI sitting on a known front for organized crime and waiting until they got someone worth catching before making a move.

It's a universal truth that any action has a reaction. If the FBI shut down a money laundering front, then the Mob would get wise and get more sophisticated and you won't hurt their operation. If you wait until you can link someone important to the Mob infrastructure and then make a move, then you've seriously effected crime in a city.

The FBI does shit like this and Megaupload before they appear to have their ducks in a row. They don't know what they're doing, and don't know what they're looking for so they consistently appear to jump the gun.

My only thoughts with this are that someone with a lot of power and influence is making this happen. What I wonder is what politician or presidential candidate/whatever has a lot vested and a lot to lose from someone finding out they/their kids/their family is pirating, or running anonymous operations, etc. Seriously, it's the only reason I can think of other than incompetency as to why the FBI is consistently jumping the gun.

_delirium 1 day ago 2 replies      
With this rash of seize-servers-first-ask-questions-later, sounds like we're heading for a reprise of the glorious Steve Jackson Games era of blunt-weapon policing tactics when it comes to technology.
joeyh 1 day ago 0 replies      
I have friends involved in Riseup, and I know they do good work. Software projects like monkeysphere and backupninja. Didn't realize they hosted so many mailing lists, apparently 14,000.

This is a good time to https://help.riseup.net/en/donate
.. lots of options, including bitcoin and flattr.

alaskamiller 1 day ago 3 replies      
America's online law enforcement shaping up to be pretty much like the war on drugs.
mayoff 1 day ago 4 replies      
This seems like a no-brainer to me. The FBI has the duty to find the Pitt bomb threatener. Perhaps Mixmaster truly does make the email untraceable, but it's the FBI's duty to try tracing it - not to take the Mixmaster claims as fact. If the FBI has evidence that criminal emails passed through that server, I absolutely want the FBI to be able to obtain and execute a warrant to seize it and search it for evidence.

Analogy: the cops need to look at a gun store's records to track down a criminal shooter. The cops have reason to believe people with access to the gun store might go in and destroy those records. Should they be able to shut down the gun store (temporarily) and block access to it while they execute a legal search warrant on it?

sciurus 1 day ago 0 replies      
I met Jamie and some others associated with May First/People Link while volunteering to support the first US Social Forum. I was really impressed with their ideals and how they applied them to their work as technologists. I hope everything works out well for them and that this seizure brings more attention to what they are doing.
agwa 1 day ago 2 replies      
So if riseup.net had been hosted on, say, EC2, what would the FBI have seized? The server hosting the VM and many other completely unrelated VMs? Scary thought.

Also, if you haven't done so already I encourage you to read the FAQ at the end of the page. It has one of the best answers to "Doesn't Mixmaster/anonymous remailers enable criminals to do bad things?" I've ever seen.

gee_totes 1 day ago 1 reply      
In total, over 300 email accounts, between 50-80 email lists, and several other websites have been taken off the Internet by this action.

I hope Riseup posts a list of those 300 e-mail accounts that were taken offline, so the owners know that they are now on an FBI watch list.

dendory 1 day ago 0 replies      
Learn from the pirate bay. It's no longer a matter of protecting your business from hackers, but also from corrupt governments. When you start a business you better have contingencies in place to switch domain, server, country, etc seamlessly.
ingrid 1 day ago 2 replies      
The building I work in and practically live in as student was evacuated two hours ago due to a bomb threat, and as of today 11 bomb threats have been made across campus. The total of bomb threats made is now 126. It is ridiculous.

I do not agree with the FBI confiscating servers to figure out where the anonymous bomb threats have been coming from, but I'm kind of glad they are and feel bad for that.

rdl 1 day ago 0 replies      
FBI actually has some good agents, but the only ones I've met were on counterterrorism, either in the us or overseas trying to find foreign links to us terrorism. I know most of the other law enforcement funding got repriorirized after 9-11, and I could imagine it is still attracting the better agents. Most of the really stupid FBI stuff originates from their bush league regional offices or is pushed by idiot US Attorneys in those places (e-gold, mmj raids, etc). The Secret Service, at least on computer crime, is far more uniformly competent.
nextparadigms 1 day ago 0 replies      
The American version of SOPA already passed in 2008. It's called the Pro IP Act. That's how they are able to seize "local" domains like .com and .net, and I think .org, too.
loverobots 1 day ago 2 replies      
From a forensic evidence perspective, can an image or a drive clone suffice?

And does anyone know what was this about, e-mail threat to do ... ?

viraptor 1 day ago 0 replies      
> "In total, over 300 email accounts, between 50-80 email lists, and several other websites have been taken off the Internet by this action."

Dramatic description aside, I really hope that what they mean is - lost one copy of it, waiting for DNS change to propagate... Am I hoping for too much?

ihuman 1 day ago 2 replies      
I can understand the need to stop the bomb threats, but the FBI also should have respected the other users of the seized server and not removed it. And besides, nothing is stoping the person from using other anonymous email hosts.
ssmall 1 day ago 1 reply      
Again? Didn't they get all their servers seized back in the late 90s early 00's too?
tobyjsullivan 1 day ago 1 reply      
There are a lot of comments here, but I don't see anybody asking one particularly important question (and please forgive my ignorance of Riseup.net). Why did removing one server cause so much disruption? Do they not have back-ups? Redundant servers?

If this stuff is so gosh-darn important, I feel these users have put their faith in the wrong hosting organization...

echo-unity 1 day ago 0 replies      
What recourse do the people have when voter fraud occurs? How much monitoring is done through those channels?

*I know it is not a react quickly because human lives could be at stake - but considering anything tied to a presidential election could lead to a person voted to office that could jeopordize a nation.

philipithomas 1 day ago 0 replies      
"[. . .] search warrant issued by the FBI,”

Doesn't a judge have to issue a warrant?

rhizome 1 day ago 1 reply      
Pretty cheap R&D by the FBI for anonymized communications techniques.
samstave 1 day ago 3 replies      
This is a testament to why you would want to use AWS virtual instances and never have "a server" - point your domain at a new instance should one machine get ordered off by the FBI.
The War On RSS vambenepe.com
244 points by mgunes  2 days ago   124 comments top 36
mechanical_fish 2 days ago 6 replies      
This post feels mistitled, but that itself is an interesting sign. If there is a "war" on RSS (or, more precisely, on certain manifestations of RSS), where is the army? Where is the manifesto? Who has pounded the table and declared that RSS is our enemy and must die?

Has anyone?

My impression is that we have the opposite of a "war" here. These RSS features are dying of natural causes. Unless someone can point me to the conference, blog post, or secret meeting where an evangelist convinced Twitter, Facebook, Apple, Mozilla, et cetera to simultaneously kill this feature in tandem, I'll continue to suspect that they're doing so because they're all subject to the same market pressure: There's a lot of new, popular, paying features that need building, from Twitter and Facebook integration, to mobile apps, to mobile-friendly APIs, to responsive and touch-friendly design, and as these things get added to the backlog other things get pushed down. Code is expensive to maintain and if it doesn't carry its weight it gets cut, even if it's vaguely likeable and nifty.

conesus 1 day ago 8 replies      
I think the biggest problem with RSS is that you divorce the content from the context. Both from the publisher's standpoint, when their ads aren't being served or they decide to truncate their RSS feed so they can get ad revenue back from click-through, and from the reader's standpoint, where a common lamentation in moving to RSS is that you no longer get to read the original site regularly.

I solved the "Original site" problem by building the original site into NewsBlur -- http://www.newsblur.com.

The other big issue with RSS is that there are too many stories with a low signal-to-noise ratio. I built in filtering and highlighting into NewsBlur to address that concern. And it's a completely separate backend from Google Reader.

And now the common refrain is that people use social channels (Twitter/FB/Tumblr) to find links and news. So I just built that into NewsBlur with shared stories. You can sign up to be a part of the private beta at http://dev.newsblur.com. I'll send out invites to anybody who signs up.

Consuming the web through RSS can be problematic for both publishers and readers. I'm addressing the big three issues - context, relevancy, and surfacing - with a strong commitment to both readers and publishers. Let me know what else you would expect to see in your ideal reading setup, and chances are, RSS offers the foundation to build it.

JunkDNA 1 day ago 3 replies      
I use RSS readers almost exclusively to consume content and would miss RSS if nothing else replaced it. I'm an information junkie and RSS readers have made it far easier for me to keep up with the torrent of information out there. That said, I can't escape the feeling that the concept of websites having feeds in a standard format is starting to wane. I also think google reader has sucked a lot of oxygen out of the RSS space. Every mobile or desktop reader pretty much has to sync with google reader which influences their design accordingly. While there are lots of attempts to make things look pretty, there's not a whole lot of major innovation in the RSS reader space. That's not to mention the fact that as far as I know, the reader API is unofficial so it could go bye, bye any time.

All that being said, RSS alone is not exactly the pinnacle of information delivery. What I really want is a better way to identify interesting and informative information and filter out all the junk. This is a very, very hard problem to solve in an automated way. Things like Flipboard are trying to tackle this, but I haven't been able to embrace them. I also don't want to rely on my social network, because I'm different from my network. I have my own interests and priorities (that change over time).

What I want is a feed of information that is what google is to search. Google nearly always shows me exactly what I'm looking for in the top hits. I want something that gives me the most important, useful, and interesting information in a prioritized list all the time. The only thing I've seen get close to this is Fever (http://feedafever.com/). That's a good start, but isn't quite there.

rkudeshi 2 days ago 4 replies      
I think it's safe to say RSS cooked into browsers had its chance and was thoroughly rejected. (And I say that as someone who loves RSS.)

What more could browser makers have done to encourage RSS? Technophiles love it, but the mass market rejected it.

For all intents and purposes, Twitter is a simpler, more intuitive form of RSS for the layperson.

As long as tools like Google Reader exist for those of us who do use RSS, I'm not worried. And if Google kills Reader, it will probably usher in a new renaissance of feed readers that are currently non-existent because of Google's ads-funded largesse.

RSS is now too important to too many people to just die.

icebraining 2 days ago 1 reply      
I think the demise of RSS represents a failure of its promoters. They painted it as a service, when it should have been treated as a backend technology.

People want to know when certain websites they care about have new stuff. The fact that RSS can be used to achieve that is, and should have been treated as, completely irrelevant. Nobody except geeks like me care if they're transmitted through RSS, PubSubBubHub or carrier pigeons.

Likewise, I don' think most people care that the website has a "feed" and they need to get a "feeds reader" to be informed.

I think Firefox had the greatest opportunity to make it happen and they blew it. RSS should have been integrated with the bookmarks system, and I don't mean those awful "dynamic bookmarks" or whatever they were called.

When some page was bookmarked, the browser should save its RSS feed URL alongside (hidden!) and use it to alert people to updates to their sites, and provide an one-click way to open the new post(s) in a new tab (and an easy way to disable notifications from that site, certainly).

This would've made RSS useful for much more people and provide a great incentive for websites to provide good feeds. Unfortunately, it remained a geek tool, and so it'll die as such.

skymt 2 days ago 1 reply      
Right now I have 234 feeds in my Google Reader. Many of them are updated irregularly, often weeks or months apart. But when they do update, I don't want to miss it.

If RSS is killed, what will replace it? Not for the case of Twitter or TechCrunch, where there will always be new content when you visit and it doesn't matter if you miss some, but for rare but important postings.

techtalsky 2 days ago 0 replies      
I feel like the problem with RSS was mainly a branding issue. First of all... acronyms don't sell. No non-expert user is ever going to click an orange icon with a wi-fi logo that says "RSS" or "XML". MAYBE they'd click a button that says "Subscribe". Individual browsers and implementations tried to brand them as "Live Bookmarks" or similar, but there wasn't much unity around it.

RSS is of course unbelievably useful, and people who understood that the content of a site was being published side by side in a human readable but totally nonstandard format (HTML) and a machine readable and much more standard format (RSS,ATOM,etc.) instantly grabbed some kind of reader and subscribed to anything they were interested in.

I tried to preach the gospel of feeds. I tried to get people to subscribe to MY blogs. Even most of my medium-technical friends said, "Yeah, that whole reader thing sounds cool, I've been meaning to set that up." Non-technical people simply subscribed to things via email.

If somehow email could have organized itself more naturally into push (email) and pull (feeds) buckets, then it could have perhaps happened naturally, but confusing standards, implementations, and no real great way to explain the benefits to new users is what killed RSS (and XML feeds in general)... there was no war.

joshaidan 2 days ago 1 reply      
Is there an alternative technology that is replacing RSS?

Is there any evidence that blogs are dropping RSS? I think one of RSS's major applications was for blogs to distribute their content. The examples given in this article, such as Twitter and Facebook are both apps that also have APIs available, so RSS in those cases are kind of redundant.

One could also make the argument that RSS is bad for the bottom line, as selling advertising, and generating revenue off of it is far more difficult than traditional websites.

The other big question is whether or not users are still using aggregators. If aggregator use is down, then that could suggest the decline of RSS or RSS like technology.

Finally, RSS probably still has a future in podcasting.

epc 1 day ago 0 replies      
- it solved a problem that 99.999% of the online public either doesn't have, doesn't know they have, or doesn't care that they have.

- a lot of energy was poured into the absolutely stupid who gets credit for what, who did what to whom, who linked what where, who's the real napster wars of 2002-2005.

- RSS and Atom are frozen relics of the post web 1.0 pre web 2.0 era. Support for anything other than html or text is a grab bag of works in this reader, doesn't work in that reader, is silently and completely removed by this other reader.

- it's in no one's best interests (financially, spiritually, professionally) for RSS to “succeed”. It had many fathers, all of whom moved on to other things, even 410'ing their online selves.

- it's difficult to monetize RSS. Ads may or may not work, you have to resort to gimmicks and most savvy users (who are likely a majority of the people reading your feed in the first place) are blocking ads, so there.

- it's difficult to prove the value of RSS to the publisher: how many people read this item? Dunno. You can't trust the number of unique user agents pulling the feed, because more likely than not they're mostly spam bots looking for content to republish. You could choose to trust the feedburner statistics, if you're using FB.

- RSS feeds can't be styled in any useable, uniform way. To many people this is a benefit of RSS, but it means that inline images that work great in the original article end up out of context. Any attempt to use CSS styling to set off differences in an article are mostly lost. There are some work arounds but mostly manual hacks.

The public has moved on. It sucks. RSS feeds will continue to be available for years, if not decades because they're built into the publishing plumbing of many systems. There were gopher servers running well into the late 1990s in various places, much to the surprise at times of security administrators.

When faced with a public user base that goes to google.com and then types in the web site they want in the search box, we responded with RSS/Atom. It is a much better way of reviewing and consuming a lot of information, but the user experience sucks, and it's in no one's interests to fix that.

Find a way to profit, stunningly, from RSS and it'll take off again. Continue to confine it to the techno"geek ghetto and that's where it will remain.


toyg 1 day ago 0 replies      
If RSS didn't take off, it cannot be ascribed to malice from browser makers: even Microsoft at one point backed it right into Windows, they still support it in IE9, there is a component everyone can access that will deal with scheduled retrieval for you, so you could write an awesome windows-based feedreader tomorrow. Mozilla gave it a chance, half-heartedly (their implementation was terrible). Google didn't push it into Chrome, but they built the de-facto "Definitive Feed Aggregator" and supported it widely. Even standard-hating Apple built it into iTunes.

The truth is that RSS was a cool technology searching for a reason to exist. It managed to find it on occasions (podcasting is still alive, twitter basically used RSS as the "first draft" for their service, etc) but not in the big way most geeks thought it would. Commercial and user interests did not align with a vision of complete openness where standardized feeds get pushed from machine to machine, moving free and public content everywhere. Also, most services found the format to be a straight-jacket, and once you start adding custom namespaces, you might as well just use your own format. It fit well only for periodically-updated news/blog sites, which is what it was built for. And its worst sin is that it's fundamentally a one-way technology, a broadcasting tool, not a bi-directional tool. Social tools can be built on top of it, but at that point it becomes just another messaging format, and not particularly efficient either.

RSS will survive in some form (like RDF, remember that?) but will never gain widespread popularity, unless it's somehow reinvented in a way that will align with the interests of big commercial players and/or large number of users -- something we failed to do in the last 10+ years.

Swizec 1 day ago 0 replies      
What I don't understand is why anyone would expect to follow their friends via RSS (twitter/facebook)? That stream is much much too fast for what RSS is meant to achieve ... semantically speaking.

I view RSS as a great way to follow important-ish things like people's personal blogs and tech blogs and so on. Large pieces of content, everything bigger than, say, 400 words should be in RSS.

Whereas twitter and facebook are for conversation. It's where people post silly things that nobody really cares about. Using those streams to get actual news? Yeah, doesn't quite work ... following just 1031 people on twitter means there are 5 new posts every time I refresh.

That is not an environment where I'd expect to discover big chunks of info. And it's also not something I would want mixed up with the slow moving big content stuff.

nikcub 2 days ago 1 reply      
I now subscribe to most blogs on Twitter, and RSS is still part of that, its just that it is:

blogs -> rss -> rss2twitter gateway -> twitter -> me

So it has become a backend technology, and RSS has been given a better marketing term - 'following' (or 'subscribing'). It just isn't being directly consumed by users any more, which is why you don't need it as an icon in apps, but RSS is definitely still being consumed by other apps.

I found that the problem with most newsreaders wasn't the technology or terminology, but that they presented news items in an email view - ie. every item needs to be actioned, whereas the answer was a stream where you scan and interesting items were actions. The other problem was discovery. Nobody really worked out how to recommend other sources or feeds from within the reader applications.

Twitter kinda accidentally nailed both of those issues.

ambirex 2 days ago 3 replies      
In the case of Firefox, their user study indicated that very few people used it (https://heatmap.mozillalabs.com/)
mmuro 2 days ago 0 replies      
I'm not sure if discoverability is as important as it used to be for RSS. Nowadays you can simply input the URL of the site into your RSS reader and it'll find the feed.

When it comes to Facebook and Twitter, my guess is that RSS doesn't accomplish what those services are made for. As they have evolved, the reverse chronological posting has become less important.

Plus, if you were Twitter, how would you want people to consume those tweets? Would you rather get them immediately or several minutes later in a format that has no context in the world of Twitter?

With that being said, I think RSS still plays a role in consolidating and consuming news in a central location. But it should be up to the site designers/developers to offer an easy way to "subscribe" to that site (via email or RSS).

pmr_ 1 day ago 0 replies      
Maybe I'm being naive here: Where is the alternative to RSS? I live in
a small happy world (I use feeds heavily with gwene.org and Emacs Gnus
as my reader and I like the experience). How am I (or anyone else)
supposed to consume content from blogs? I cannot a believe a
technology would simply die without there being something better. Am I
living under a rock and just haven't seen the RSS-killer?
jasonlotito 2 days ago 1 reply      
On the subject of Apple removing RSS from Mail, I don't see that as an issue with RSS. Rather, it's removing from Mail something that shouldn't have been there in the first place. I'm pretty much hooked on Reeder, with Google Reader as the backend for most of it.
dhawalhs 2 days ago 0 replies      
Facebook still has RSS feeds for pages but looks like the link got hidden when the pages got switched over to the new timeline layout. e.g. https://www.facebook.com/feeds/page.php?id=305891199451158&#...
zupreme 1 day ago 0 replies      
I believe that, based on my own non-scientific observation, most non-technical people don't really know what RSS is or what it is used for.

I think that YACG, AutoBlogs, and so forth have also made website owners question the value of publishing RSS feeds as well.

Personally though, as someone who has launched several niche blogs over the years I find publishing an RSS feed to most of the big feed directories to be the best way to get a ton of backlinks to a new sit in a very short amount of time.

Of course large established sites have no need of this "benefit" so they largely view RSS as brand-dilution factor, not a brand-promotion factor.

netcan 1 day ago 2 replies      
Something has never been right about rss and I can't put my finger on exactly what.

I always found the idea compelling. I've tried using readers. Taken time to put in my feeds, but it never really became part of my routine. When I've been away loggin in feels like a chore. Frequently updated feeds drowned out the others. There hvae never been conventions that work around it either. What happens when an entry is updated, for example. What happens when you click the rss icon. etc etc.

I really wanted rss (and I still use it) but it was never right.

lux 1 day ago 0 replies      
RSS also doesn't work very well in pure client-side development, whereas the same data structure in JSON is easy in pretty much any context.

Say, for example, I want to show a list of items from a 3rd party in a sidebar on my site. With a few lines of jQuery or other similar lib, I can do that no problem.

Maybe RSS, just like XML-RPC which was still much better than SOAP but has fallen by the wayside in favour of REST + JSON, can be supplanted in the same way.

ttunguz 1 day ago 2 replies      
Social protocols are replacing RSS. In my view, Twitter and Facebook are better versions of RSS. First, they reach many more people. It's easier to “follow” something than to subscribe to an RSS feed (has a bit of a medical ring to it, no?).

Second, these social streams provide an additional social filter to the news, something that RSS news never did. These social filters also provide a layer to comment, share and discuss, which is another feature altogether missing in RSS.

Lastly, social streams avoid the challenge most RSS readers faced: the inbox with 1000+ items to read and no way to sift through them. Social streams create a time value decay function for this data. Facebook's EdgeRank uses a combination of different signals to ensure relevancy so when users login the feed is only timely, relevant content, not an inbox of every status update and share. Twitter uses time to reduce the number of items in the feed.


jpalomaki 1 day ago 0 replies      
It's not in the interest of companies like Twitter to push out the information in machine readable format without charging for it. Most of the business models for these companies revolve around making money on the information they have (or advertising).

For blogs that are seeking to make money out of advertising, it is difficult to justify why they should send out the content out as RSS feed. If you send full text, then user does not come to the site. If you send excerpts then users are not happy.

One thing to try out could be push full fledged web pages inside the RSS feeds. Instead of just getting the text, I would get images, layout and advertisements as well (but of course still just the content, not the "chrome"). Reading this kind of blog entry on my "RSS" reader would be more like looking at the actual web site of the blog. Consuming large amounts of web sites this way would be faster than visiting them one-by-one with the browser. Publishers benefit could be that users would browse through more of their content (on web I usually pick few articles to read, with this I would probably cursory browse through most of content (and get exposure to the related ads).

Jebus 2 days ago 0 replies      
I use a few RSS in my iGoogle (mostly global news, just in case the world is ending or something which I would like to know instantly), and LOTS in my Thunderbird. How else would I be notified when this or that blogger, who writes one amazing article once or twice a year does so?

Don't kill RSS, write a nice guide on how to use it for non-techies and make it viral.

cpeterso 1 day ago 0 replies      
Relevant to my interests, "Hacker News Overload" publishes RSS feeds of HN articles at various score thresholds (20, 50, 100, 150):


wxl 2 days ago 3 replies      
This "RSS is dead" stuff is really getting old. I think we can safely say RSS is dead if Google ever decides to kill Google Reader.
ddw 1 day ago 0 replies      
RSS is alive and well in iTunes podcasts. It's just that people don't know or care that their podcast feeds get updated by way of RSS.

RSS will live on if content creators continue to provide it. I think the issue is that no one except tech people really care, so at least the tech blogs (and Hacker News) will continue to support it.

Getting content via social networks seems like a step backwards, but it seems like it's what most folks are fine with.

navs 1 day ago 0 replies      
So if folks aren't using RSS anymore, what are they using? Surely, they aren't manually browsing websites. I typically follow twitter feeds for updates but what's the standard RSS replacement for the average user?
par 2 days ago 1 reply      
Funny, we just started working on a better RSS reader: http://readnewswire.com/
jfb 1 day ago 0 replies      
Apple's RSS support was utter pants. I use RSS all the time, on Apple platforms exclusively, and I'm overjoyed to see it gone from Safari and Mail.
uiri 1 day ago 0 replies      
I use https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/rss-icon/ in order to bring back the RSS icon in Firefox.
huoju 1 day ago 0 replies      
The "follow" killed RSS. To use RSS, user must known many background knowledge, it's too complexly. "Follow" is a simply way to keep trace the information which you interested.
jgamman 1 day ago 0 replies      
seriously - it's a 'subscribe' function. i don't give a fig if it lands in my inbox or a reader or my email's RSS inbox. so long as the function continues (and email is a fine proxy) I'm fine with it.
rsanchez1 1 day ago 0 replies      
It's always social media vs RSS. I mainly see this storyline pushed by tech blogs. They use social media, all their tech blog peers use social media, they see that most of their users use social media. Tech bloggers then start to feel that no one must use RSS anymore since everyone is on Twitter or Facebook, when in reality it is just their circle that has abandoned RSS. Unfortunately, since most people form their opinions of technology from the people who have been loud enough to form a reading audience, more people also start to believe that RSS is being phased out.

The only "war" against RSS is in the mind of tech bloggers.

rodolphoarruda 2 days ago 0 replies      
Interesting. If RSS' days are numbered, what sort of technological change can we expect from popular news aggregation sites like popurls.com?
wildster 2 days ago 0 replies      
I don't bother with a blog aggregator much anymore but I don't see itunes ever replacing rss/atom for podcast feeds.
guccimane 2 days ago 0 replies      
I don't find it to be good for much besides keeping track of podcasts. I never saw the appeal of "syndicated content" (blech), I'd rather read websites. Very few people use it when rolled into the browser, it's better off implemented in extensions and standalone apps.
Time To Get Past Facebook And Invent A New Future theatlantic.com
241 points by chrismealy  2 days ago   92 comments top 25
rohern 2 days ago 5 replies      
This article is spot on in its thesis, though not always in its arguments.

Everyone is convinced -- because the people who work in marketing are happy because they can sell ads -- that social media is an important thing. It is not.

Social media is people doing what they were already doing, only more often and anywhere. Flirting with girls, talking with friends, etc. Making these activities digital is not changing society or improving lives. It is the same society and the same lives, with more time spent on these activities. Never has anyone gone to bed thinking "Gosh, I wish I had spent more time looking at funny pictures of strangers today." People often go to bed regretting not doing what they could have done when instead they were on Facebook and Twitter and [insert the names of 90% of the startups you have heard of].

Every founder will go on and on about "changing the world" if you let him. This is as if changing the world were something worth doing for its own sake. If you see a problem that is worth fixing and you fix it, then the change effected is important and even virtuous. But the key is that problem must be worth solving. Just because a petulant and spoiled American wants his iced mocha faster does not mean that speeding up sales of mocha is a worthy problem. Can you make money doing it? Probably.

I went to school to become an engineer (I'm 24) because I thought that computers and the internet were going to make invention and innovation possible even for people who did not work for industrial laboratories. Maybe the hugely reduced barriers to entry into the technology sector that resulted from cheap computers and good programming tools would lead young and eager people of brilliance to found ambitious companies to finally -- aren't we all sick of being exasperated by the mediocrity of culture and politics in the past 20 years? -- steer human life into better modes of existence and a new frontier of boldness. Sure, the internet cannot do this all on its own, but is such a powerful and promising tool, that maybe it would start things.

This has not happened. There are a few gems like SpaceX and Willow Garage that seek out challenge in this way, but they are doing it independent of the cheapness and openness that computers now allow. Worse, many of the companies that have been founded are dedicated to aggressively ruining the internet by making it a place for sucking up private information, showing ads, and selling the same old useless junk.

What it seems to me this article is about is that innovation in technology right now is about money, not about betterment. A billion dollars was just spent on Instagram. To do what? If you are so in the bubble of the "startup world" that you do not see the self-evident absurdity of a situation in which that is a possible and reasonable event, you are become blinded.

Stop thinking like a marketer and think like an inventor with balls. Stop trying to get rich unless you are getting rich by doing something that is worth doing.

I write this as someone who honestly loves technology, hacking, the hacker ethic, and HN, but I walk around Palo Alto every day being slowly crushed by disappointment. The problem is not that the good hackers are being spread across too many companies, it is that too many companies are not doing things worthy of hackers.

moocow01 2 days ago 3 replies      
Its very difficult for me to ascertain if its just me or the following is a growing sentiment... I'm not wowed by hardly anything that comes out of consumer internet tech anymore.

Before anyone gets out a pitchfork I have actively contributed and worked on products in the past that are part of the behemoth of services/apps/sites etc that have become mundane to me so I deserve my own criticism as well.

But the majority of launches especially for the past couple years in the media seems like the same deck chairs (mobile/social/photos/ads/etc) rearranged in a different order. Overtime Ive just lost interest in tech blogs in that I rarely see something that I'd consider genuinely interesting tech from a product or engineering or consumer perspective. Maybe I'm just getting old?

On the other hand if I'm not out of touch it seems like it could be a great time to step out of 'traditional' consumer tech and push on some of the 'new' things like 3D printing, robotics, computer vision, etc as well as seek out applications towards other industries (education, health, food, etc.)

gavinlynch 2 days ago 1 reply      
I fail to understand this article because I think there are so many different topics the author touches on.. Innovation. Culture. Tech business and startups..

I think the author is conflating some of these concepts or just misunderstanding some. For instance, innovation. What does Facebook have to do with innovation? I'm sure there are a few innovative things they have done, but in my view the outline for the broad concept of what their social service accomplishes had been drawn clearly before their rise to dominance. They just did it better than most, and reached a critical mass in terms of user base.

If the author is simply bored of taking pictures on a phone and beaming them halfway around the world because it's now commonplace... I'm sorry, I don't know what to tell you. There will be another shiny new toy invented that will be another great extension or augmentation of the human experience for you to enjoy in a few years, doubtlessly. So cheer up.

One thing I know is true: All of these things that are being built on the internet and the internet itself.. They are just different vehicles for human expression; they are all extensions of the human thought, the human environment; all facets of ourselves as a species.

I think the author of this article flounders about in coming up with what is "next" because they don't really understand the reasons why the successful products appeared in the first place:

Nobody at Facebook invented the idea that humans like to be in contact with each other.

Nobody at Pinterest came up with the idea that humans collect things that they find interesting. Humans have been doing that for as long as we've been around.

Nobody at Instagram invented the idea that humans are creatures who crave artistic expression. When we didn't have canvas or quill or a camera, we painted on cave walls.

All of these companies just fascilitated a need that was already there, whether people were concious of it or not. I would argue that these products were inevitable, it was just a matter of who would get there first.

If you want to try to answer the obtuse question of "What is next", a question that comes from a confused origin.... You only have to study human nature. That would be my answer. If the author is soliciting advise about the next hot startup to invest in, that's a totally different ballgame.

guelo 2 days ago 0 replies      
Sure there are a lot of smart people wasting away figuring out how to sell ads more efficiently. But I think we're still fairly reliably being wowed several times a year. Right now Kickstarter is the big wow for a lot of people, they're doing some real revolutionary work on the future of business and work. With Etsy being a good wow along the same lines before that. Obviously the iPad is making explosive entries into all kinds of industries which are being revolutionized for the 2nd or 3rd time in the last 20 years. And this guy talks like the iPhone happened ages ago, it was only 5 years ago, 4 years since the amazements started emanating from the app store.

I'm not too worried, change is accelerating and the wows will keep on coming. Five years from now should look more different from today then today looks compared to 2007. The main dangers are monopolistic predator companies, walled gardens, and government intrusion. Other than that, we will continue being blown away for years to come.

dasil003 2 days ago 0 replies      
This guy is simply failing to see the forest for the trees.

Yes, the past 30 years have been an amazing whirlwind of development of consumer computing technology. Yes, things won't be jumping by leaps and bounds the way they were when the basic hardware and bandwidth were getting up to speed. The latest social app is not going to blow you away the same way, say, the invention of the Internet did when you first discovered it. But I'm sure it pales in comparison to the wow-factor of the telegraph when it was first invented.

We live in a time when computing technology has filtered out to the mass populace. It is an interesting time to be sure. But we are just scratching the surface of what is possible with computers. There is tons of work to be done to refine the art of computation, which I believe ends with creating AI that can do things we are incapable of doing as humans. That is still a very long way off.

And assuming all goes smoothly without any major natural disasters or self-destruction, after that, there will be a new chapter in human existence where I believe we will have to come to grips with having automated everything and no longer having to employee people en masse. Where will we find meaning once the struggle to survive is pushed so far from our daily concerns?

The point is things are constantly evolving, and there is no chance that things are about to get boring. "Web", "Social", and "Mobile" are only "done" if you are tech pundit looking to summarize the state of the world in a tidy 800 words. The reality is that these things are just building blocks whose novelty has worn off, but whose ultimate utility is far from being realized.

blhack 2 days ago 3 replies      
I'm really sick of hearing all of the hatred that facebook gets.

It's a useful tool that I use every day for organizing meetups and, in my opinion, is superior to a mailing list in pretty much every single way.

My local reddit users group has almost 1000 members in it, and has no branched into several "sub groups" [a book club, a film club, a music club, a workout club, and a hacker club]. Just now before reading this, I found a movie to go to tonight with somebody, committed to start reading a book with somebody else, and got invited to an event this Friday.

Oh, and somebody who is planning an event for this Saturday asked me to RSVP.

Last weekend our group had a nearly 100-person strong "masquerade" at a bar in Phoenix. We pretty-much took over the bar.

None of this stuff would happen if not for facebook, and I know this because there have been active attempts within our community to push stuff back onto reddit, all of which have failed.

Facebook is a useful tool to me, and a useful tool to a lot of other people. If it disappeared tomorrow, it would effect me in a very negative way.

kylebrown 2 days ago 0 replies      
I hope the author (Alexis Madrigal - usually writes on energy issues) is right. By now a "startup" is presumed to be more of the same first-world social-mobile navel-gazing. The world will be better off if/when such forays stop being the most profitable. (good sign in Bloomberg news today: US wireless contracts "may have shrunk for the first time ever in the first quarter.")

Its anyone's guess how much innovation the next decade will bring in energy and biotech. But as for IT, my money is on the opportunities that will come from bridging the digital divide (emerging markets).

The Wired article "Want to become an Internet billionaire? Move to Africa" didn't get much interest from HN[1] though it was also covered in Forbes. The informal economy (as written about in Stealth of Nations: The Global Rise of the Informal Economy by Robert Neuwirth) is an oft-overlooked angle which should be particularly interesting, as it intersects more and more with an expanding global internet.

1: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=3210000

jcc80 2 days ago 0 replies      
I think Louis CK said it best, "Everything is amazing and nobody's happy."


Sorry but Social mobile local (or as people cooler than me are calling it, SoMoLo) is still pretty new. You're just going to have to "suffer" through a little more.

I get the author's point that it seems like the same things are getting made and funded over and over. But with only about 1/2 the U.S. pop. owning smartphones, you can't blame people too much for trying to stake their claim. Anything more innovative might be too early anyways.

thorin_2 2 days ago 5 replies      
Why can't the next area of innovation be in education? I'm not talking solely about the transition from print to digital, but rather a complete reset on education with technology at its core rather than at the periphery? Rethink the status quo, with no sacred cows (teachers, buses, grades, testing, - even classrooms all up for grabs).

Imagine tablet devices or similar technology that provide individualized, adaptive teaching programs that exhibit techniques that allowed students to progress each at their own pace, using highly innovative and entertaining forms of education.

Imagine all progress (and regress) made by the student as a form of continual testing and as gates to increasingly more complex subjects, with programs that adapt to a student's areas of weakness (and strengths), hitting at core concepts from different angles and in ways that appeal to that individuals ideal method of learning, until that student was able to progress to the next concept, or skip and then revisit once a complementary concepts is are understood that would augment that student's ability to master the concept they skipped earlier.

Imagine technological innovation that allowed us to take a less linear approach to certain subjects, which is the only method today given the constraints of 1:* teacher:students and the invisible “bar” which forces certain students to move at the lowest common denominator pace, while taxing other students to keep, such as those that have difficulty learning in the cookie cutter way.

Imagine applications that blend multiple subjects (math, science, history), presenting the material not using your standard “preach at you” teaching technique, but instead using role-based or video game style interactive learning that makes the kid WANT to study, gets excited about the subject.

Envision a system where the best teachers become the product managers that formulate the logic and program flow for those innovative applications, and your run-of-the-mill teacher becomes a custodian for keeping things under control while the students interact with their devices, and of course, with each other, as social interaction is essential for their well-being as well.

Sure there would be many hurdles, not the least of these being teachers unions and the hurdle of changing centuries of preconceived notions of how education should be accomplished, but hey, the author asked for what the next revolutionary idea could be, and a transformation in education with technology at its core has my vote.

Casseres 2 days ago 3 replies      
Maybe I'm missing the purpose of the article, but I am responding to how I interpreted it.

What will our future be like if we all focus our lives around little boxes in our hands rather than the vast open spaces around us?

Perhaps we should invent a future where the technology are the tools we use to enhance our life, not control our life. In Star Trek, people weren't addicted to PADDs or spend every living moment in the Holo Deck. In fact the episodes where technology controlled people, we recognized the technology as evil.

Invent something to enhance our lives, not control them.

dude_abides 2 days ago 1 reply      
Most revolutionary things take some time before people realize that they are revolutionary.

- Google launched in 1998, people realized how revolutionary it was by around 2000.

- Facebook launched in 2004, it took till about 2007 for people to realize how game-changing its going to be.

- IPhone launched in 2007, and within a year (after 3G + AppStore was launched) it was clear that this is game-changing.

My point is: It could very well be that the next game-changer is already out there and we just don't know it yet. What could it be? Well I don't know... Google self-driving car? Khan Academy? Square? Your guess is as good as mine.

srconstantin 2 days ago 0 replies      
Web apps are cheap to build, easy to learn how to build, fall into a predictable model for investors, and are equipped with lots of social institutions (like YC) encouraging people to build web startups.

So, all things being equal, we should expect more people to be creating web apps (compared to other kinds of technology) than their profitability or social value would warrant.

Framing makes a big difference. If there were an established culture and set of resources for engineering or biomedical startups, they might seem less daunting.

lucisferre 2 days ago 1 reply      
This type of "whatever's new is old" complaining is pretty cliche. I mean, of course people are going to try to innovate in evolutionary ways more than revolutionary ways.

Revolutionary innovation is at least partially random and obviously much higher risk. It often comes as a result of many people iterating many times on the same-old-same-old.

This article really seems to do nothing other than state the obvious and offers no real suggestions or directions for where to go or what to do next. Oh right, biotech, cure for cancer, end hunger, solve the energy crisis, etc. Because no one has tried or is trying to solve those, and they are clearly as easy as figuring out how to get people to share photos of themselves.

anigbrowl 2 days ago 1 reply      
From the previously-posted thread on this that got no other replies:

an astute article. One thing not addressed here is the failure of the Smantic Web paradigm to really take off; I don't know whether this is because of a lack of critical mass in the quantity of semantically coded data or the immaturity of ontology frameworks or something else - my best guess being that the browser is no more suitable to traversal of the semantic web than FTP/ Archie/ Veronica/ Gopher were suitable browsing tools for hyperterxt - although each solved 'part of the puzzle.'

phodo 1 day ago 0 replies      
Here is one simple attempt to explain the value of many of the startups that are otherwise dismissed by such naysayers, although coming from a heavy tech background I am the first to admit that some of these startups are incremental and featurettes at best.

We are in the age of sensors and A/D conversion. Many (not all) startups today do operate at the app layer... they are web / mobile apps etc. They produce tools that enable us to consume and produce info... at scale... we're talking millions of people are slowly but surely doing the analog-to-digital conversion for a future. At a mass scale, the result will be x,y,z,t,status,interest,social,connection connections/graphs for many things across many verticals. Privacy issues aside (they cannot be ignored, but bare with me for a second), the end result is a real-time layer on the world that exists in the digital domain, not the analog one. We are creating a world of installing "sensors" through market forces.

There is a step function in innovation (a new S-curve, if you will) that will occur at some point, that will be dependent on the world where things are digitized (the one we are creating now) in order to unlock innovation further. Not just technically, but from an adoption/diffusion/comfort level in society. We are going through that now... so the outcome ain't so bleak. At the end of this particular journey (call it a bubble, call it something else), we will have 1 billion+ people who a) are comfortable with sensors / digitizing their stuff and themselves b) and are doing it.

We are converging on a dominant design of what a digitized world looks like, through market forces! And in more recent years, the big data techniques emerging that will also be pushed by market forces. The best way to think about that is the following: In the ABSENCE of the incremental innovation (instagram of x, pinterest for y), I can imagine many future business and technology plans saying: we would like to build this technology, but it is not feasible because it requires a world where everyone is a sensor. Or even better, our new technology can change the world, but it assumes that people / things are digitized.

tl;dr: current crop of startups are creating sensors for big data and other processes. This can create future innovation opps that leverage this big data in new and profound ways. The absence of such startups is a blocker for that future class of innovation.

Hope not too incoherent... typing this at 30,000 feet in a cramped seat.

brownbat 2 days ago 0 replies      
| The question is, as it has always been: now what?

| Decades ago, the answer was, "Build the Internet." Fifteen years ago, it was, "Build the Web." Five years ago, the answers were probably, "Build the social network"

In other words, when you read near future sci fi and think, "that's a cool piece of plausible tech that I really want right now!" what is it?

"We are prosthetic gods." That quote dates back farther than you might think. Printing, telecom, radio, the internet, the web, the social network, the smart phone... all of these take the sum of human knowledge/experience and inch it slightly closer to my brain.

The next step is to have it rest right against my temple while we debate whether or not to break out the scalpel.

Hate to jump on the bandwagon, but I'm ready for the Goggles. Google's commercials don't scrape the surface of what it could mean to have internet-enabled constant-on cameras on everyone's face, for better and worse. But that's the next space I want to explore.

hxa7241 2 days ago 1 reply      
> More money has got to change hands.

No, quite the opposite. If you really want to be bold about inventing the future, money is one of the things that needs to be replaced.

The internet is, in a general sense, a technology for cooperation -- for organising collective activities through shared information. Money is really just an information channel for doing that too, but it is now comparatively obsolete.

dharma1 2 days ago 0 replies      
I think it's the way evolution works. Sometimes it's slow for a while - then things click into place and there is rapid progress.

The Khan Academy (and other free online, high quality education) is probably the most revolutionary thing that has come out of the internet in the past few years.

I don't know how much effect it has at the moment in the developing world - whether resources like that are used in the classroom and by students - but the potential for transformation is huge. There is an enormous amount of people in the world with untapped talent because of lack of access to high quality education.

Biotech, synthetic biology etc aside, I think the next thing to facilitate change in computing is portable display technology - for personal use maybe it will be Google Glass once it's a mature product. For shared use I think low cost, lightweight high res laser/LED pico projectors will take off in the next couple of years. The computer itself will be a tablet/mobile phone, either with its own display or hooked up to one of these new display devices.

Battery tech is another interesting one - once we work out how to produce cheap, high energy density, long life batteries from a natural resource that is abundant, we'll see a lot of accelerated progress in several areas.

Of course the 1st world problems of not having enough cool gadgets and software will be put into perspective when the Earth's limited food/energy resources vs growing population starts playing out for real.

swalsh 2 days ago 2 replies      
I think there's a new paradigm in the making, many people are talking about it... but it's young.

The internet of stuff is next!

A lot of the building blocks are in place, personally I think Arduino is a really big component that is driving the revolution and Kickstarter is providing a surprisingly good platform for funding it. However there's still a few missing components. One of the goals of LTE is to power this new network, but existing carrier business models don't seem appropriate. As a consumer I'm really not interested in paying $20 (or more!) a month for each my fridge, and toaster, and television, and door to be connected. Light Squared was a promising push in the right direction, which unfortunately failed.

Along the same lines of networking though, I think there's a lot of really good opportunities for low end hardware. Qualcomm dominates the market in LTE chipsets, but good luck getting access to the developer stuff as an indie user. API's tying all these components together will be essential.

yonasb 2 days ago 2 replies      
I don't like these "where's the innovation" posts, too negative. There's lots of exciting software being built. I will however admit that, in general, the Glass Project was the most exciting thing I've seen in a while. So maybe this is really about the lack of innovation in the hardware space
sparknlaunch12 2 days ago 1 reply      
Is the new future offline?

We have grown attached to our electronic devices and online friends. Maybe we need to step back and think about going back?

stcredzero 2 days ago 0 replies      
Social media does contribute to communications and economic growth, in the same way automobiles have. Social media also has real downsides, in much the same way.

That said, reading about SpaceX excites me much more than reading about Instagram.

superasn 2 days ago 2 replies      
There is lots of stuff happening which I hope we'll probably see integrated soon in our mobile phones.

The top two things which I'm waiting to see in my mobile is 1) The lightfield camera and 2) a device like the "sixth sense".

iRobot 2 days ago 0 replies      
Shame so much talent is wasted creating so much shit all with the ultimate object of dumbing down the populous to a bunch of media consumers.
thatusertwo 2 days ago 0 replies      
An inovation incentive from consumers would probably work better then the current system.
Polygonal Map Generation For Games stanford.edu
239 points by santadays  21 hours ago   28 comments top 10
andywood 21 hours ago 0 replies      
This is very cool. I recognized the website right away, because I've used Amit's excellent resources on pathfinding in the past while working on games.


jamesaguilar 20 hours ago 5 replies      
This is cool, but my big problem with games using techniques like this is that they tend to end up feeling soulless. I guess it would be fine for a game where the players create the soul of the game during the course of play (something like a Civilization game, or maybe an economic-focused RTS or MMORTS). But for games where timescales are short and you're not going to build anything yourself, map designers are better off, you know, designing.
Negitivefrags 18 hours ago 0 replies      
I did a talk on the random level generator in Path of Exile if anyone is interested:

I'm not a great public speaker, so I apologise for the "Um"s and "Ah"s all the time.

We have two different generators and this video talks about both of them.

MartinCron 19 hours ago 0 replies      
Some of the most fun I've had writing code in a long time was doing something similar, but much simpler. My basic approach was to start with an existing coastline shape and just make more-or-less evenly shaped polygons inside of it. Example:


I didn't do any biome coloring or similar because the game displayed colors on the map to indicate which player was occupying it.

smlacy 19 hours ago 1 reply      
Would love to see this applied to generate much larger, more expansive worlds.

To me, "an island is an island is an island" and they all feel the same (mountain in the middle). More expansive landscapes with larger biomes and geologic process would be awesome.

th0ma5 20 hours ago 0 replies      
saw this the other day on Open Processing's Twitter feed "procedural dungeon generator" http://www.openprocessing.org/sketch/44400 requires Java
jbattle 20 hours ago 0 replies      
Brilliant handling of rivers. Everything I've seen in the past is either error-prone (rivers flowing uphill) or computationally expensive (needing to simulate erosion & deposition)
DanBC 19 hours ago 0 replies      
A fantastic write-up, thank you.

> For the coastline, I wanted to make island/continent maps that are surrounded by ocean, so that I don't have to deal with people walking to the edge of the map. For the mountains, I started with something simple: mountains are whatever's farthest from the coastline.

You mention in "Impassible borders" that there are no cliffs yet. I'd be interested to see how that gets implemented.

I'd also love to see someone code a Roguelike for this - one polygon per move, maybe?

joshu 12 hours ago 0 replies      
I needed something like this for a project I am hacking on!
jfb 19 hours ago 0 replies      
This is unbelievably cool. That is all.
"If you want to order it, use 'view source' to find the commented-out link." prgmr.com
211 points by teach  1 day ago   86 comments top 22
jtchang 1 day ago 2 replies      
I have a prgmr instance and don't have any issues with it. It is a great box to play around with and the cheapest you can possibly get. You kinda have to know what you are doing but they nailed their target audience.
KaeseEs 1 day ago 0 replies      
I must say that for no-frills hosting, prgmr has really done right by me. I was broke and didn't pay for a few months and they were able to set my vps right back up once i had cash, despite the fact i was no longer using the same credit card or email address; they really went the extra mile in terms of taking time to check who i was and once my identity was established, helping me out.
koko775 1 day ago 0 replies      
I use prgmr and they are fantastic for the geek who knows how to handle themselves. You also get a pretty decent /64 IPv6 allocation.

Their hardware console was enough for me to install Arch Linux despite no official support for it. It's pretty sweet.

jQueryIsAwesome 1 day ago 2 replies      
View source is so 2006, cool kids use the Javascript console to modify web pages as they please.

    document.body.innerHTML = document.body.innerHTML.replace(/<!--|-->/g,'')

afhof 1 day ago 3 replies      
Hmm, there seem to be a number of syntax errors highlighted when viewing the source code. If I was inviting people to view the source, I would probably want it to be clean.

Here's validator output:


nicksergeant 1 day ago 0 replies      
If you're thinking about it, do it. I've had the new Snipt on Prgmr for a month or so now and I've been 100% happy (and my wallet's happier, too).

Customer service is excellent, better value than Slicehost, Linode, etc.

MatthewPhillips 1 day ago 1 reply      
Can't recommend prgmr enough.
mlntn 1 day ago 2 replies      
I had a strange experience with these guys. I signed up and didn't get anything back. When I sent an e-mail two days later telling them to just forget it and cancel my account, they told me they were busy and didn't get around to setting up my VPS. Just weird...
peterwwillis 1 day ago 3 replies      
I don't care how reliable the hoster is, $5 for those specs is excessive in this market. Go to http://www.lowendbox.com/ and look at all the deals. Almost all of them are $5 or less a month at twice the specs. Concerned about reliability? The cost of one beer at a restaurant will buy you a second box at a different hoster.
jwallaceparker 1 day ago 0 replies      
That "view source" line make this the most incredible VPS service landing page I've ever seen.
nrkn 1 day ago 1 reply      
Or looking at the other links, noting that the number in pkgpart=x increments by 2 for each package in the list, open the 2nd link and decrement by 2 to get the 64m package.
dudus 1 day ago 1 reply      
I really love the tone they use on the status blog

= update on rehnquist
well, it's down again, so I don't know what the heck is going on. I'm going to swap to new hardware this evening (will involve a graceful shutdown)

Note, until then, all new provisioning is on hold.

gergles 1 day ago 0 replies      
I am also a happy prgmr customer, and love that the machines are hosted in a top-tier datacenter and that support is responsive and knows what they are doing.

The provisioning isn't automated and there's no usage monitor (for transfer), but I assume that Luke would be reasonable in the event that someone ever went over.

moconnor 1 day ago 1 reply      
"Please note; this means all plans come with $4/month worth of support."

I can't help wondering how much support that is.

PaulHoule 1 day ago 0 replies      
I'd be more excited if it was a 64GB instance rather than 64MB.
aangjie 1 day ago 1 reply      
Hmm.. Am a little confused with the payment page options. Do i have use the purchase additional package option to pay ? I just registered and was asked to the billing/payment page to pay. But there doesn't seem to be a simple pay button/link/tab.
j79 1 day ago 0 replies      
They also provide the option in the select list when you checkout. Of course, asking a user to "View Source" seems more geeky!
ghshephard 1 day ago 0 replies      
Something is confusing - nobody measures bandwidth in GiB, and _almost_ nobody measures disk space in GiB. It's useful that they emphasized the unit, otherwise 99% of their (educated) customers would have assumed 10 (network/disk) Gigabytes was 1.0 * 10^9 bytes.

The only use of GiB that I seen commonly is in Memory. Every other use of "Giga" is the SI reference.

keithah 1 day ago 5 replies      
They seem really expensive. I use buyvm.net and love them.
kolkey 1 day ago 0 replies      
This is a very clever piece of blatant advertising. I think I'll buy some.
tosbourn 1 day ago 0 replies      
There are surely accessibility concerns over hiding links in comments.
venkyk 1 day ago 2 replies      
I rather wish they had worded it as 'We assume you are not stupid'. Or they are assuming wrong in my case?
Cook something or get out of the kitchen peternixey.com
211 points by petenixey  23 hours ago   24 comments top 10
simonsarris 23 hours ago 1 reply      
As soon as I finished reading this I hit the back button and my eyes scrambled across the HN frontpage list looking for the article I just read so I could upvote it. I've never been so stupidly excited to upvote something.

This analogy and article are perhaps the best I've heard on the subject because its a metaphor that the ideas people in my life can actually understand.

The metaphor doesn't fret about engineering time, or how simple programming might look but how hard it really is. Ideas people can't relate to those rebuttals anyway.

Instead it brings a very concrete example that almost all humans can understand right away. You want to understand the difference execution makes in an idea? There's a difference between a 9 dollar steak and a 200 dollar steak and its not just the meat, and lots of people understand that. And so I'm going to forward this to a certain ten people in my life.

sophacles 23 hours ago 1 reply      
Following the metaphor:

Sure, it sucks when you have to deal with a fop-cum-restauranteur trying to convince you to sell blah. But you need to listen to the ideas anyway, to hear what people are wanting, or your cuisine turns stale. You need to keep up with the trends of what the customers want to eat, or you end up as a has-been, with a restaurant the does business to the people who never got in when it was the hot thing, slowly rotting to oblivion as eventually everyone who cares or cared has been there, or decided to just resign themselves to never having the experience.

davemel37 20 hours ago 0 replies      
I have this great recipe for what I like to call Stone Soup.
It's really quite simple...

Wikipedia's version, "Some travellers come to a village, carrying nothing more than an empty cooking pot. Upon their arrival, the villagers are unwilling to share any of their food stores with the hungry travellers. Then the travellers go to a stream and fill the pot with water, drop a large stone in it, and place it over a fire. One of the villagers becomes curious and asks what they are doing. The travellers answer that they are making "stone soup", which tastes wonderful, although it still needs a little bit of garnish to improve the flavour, which they are missing. The villager does not mind parting with a few carrots to help them out, so that gets added to the soup. Another villager walks by, inquiring about the pot, and the travellers again mention their stone soup which has not reached its full potential yet. The villager hands them a little bit of seasoning to help them out. More and more villagers walk by, each adding another ingredient. Finally, a delicious and nourishing pot of soup is enjoyed by all."

cgag 22 hours ago 1 reply      
I feel like I've read like 20 variations on this same article in the last couple months.
debacle 21 hours ago 0 replies      
What we need is someone like Theo de Raadt to host a 'Coding Nightmares' show where he goes in an lambasts failing companies for their lack of skillz (yes, with a "Z").
grogs 22 hours ago 0 replies      
I really like this analogy (as I've been actively developing my cooking skills a lot over the past few years).

I mostly develop recipes through trial and error, or at the very least the existing knowledge from my cooking skills. The idea that someone who doesn't cook could come up with a good recipe is somewhat absurd.

Recipes which are created by people without any experience may sound good (a good idea), but are actually pretty bad; e.g. the bacon explosion.

tgrass 22 hours ago 1 reply      
For those who want to become a celebrity chef, the writer says to "do something else: marketing, renting restaurants, anything except the job you're not qualified to do."

That's one bit of advice. The other advice, if given to someone who can afford the change, is to take a job as a pantry chef in a small cafe and work your way up.

aw3c2 22 hours ago 1 reply      
i wish I could read this but the layout is all over the place and some menu is jumping around in opera mobile.
jwoah12 21 hours ago 1 reply      
I don't know what a numpty is, but I quite enjoyed this allegory.
bejar37 23 hours ago 1 reply      
Rejected By VCs, Pebble Watch Raises $3.8M on Kickstarter bloomberg.com
208 points by dwynings  3 days ago   81 comments top 20
matdwyer 3 days ago 3 replies      
Good, I'm glad they were rejected - If they weren't, I wouldn't have known about them, nor would I have purchased one.

This way they get their money in the form of guaranteed, up-front orders, and I get a cool new product "before" anyone else. I feel exclusive and I'll have the hot new gadget to show off.

It's a win-win, and I hope more companies opt for this route - it is true market validation.

(On a related topic, September can't come soon enough. I want mine now)

jyothi 3 days ago 0 replies      
The last line in that article is a killer

In his pitch to potential new hires, he tells them to check Pebble's Kickstarter page at the beginning of the phone interview to see a live tally of investments.

“After we stopped talking,” he said, “I told them to refresh.”

When I viewed kickstarter page it went from 28,369 to 28,493 backers in less than 30 minutes with atleast $20K added in those 30 minutes. This is incredible.

edit: I think it was probably more money - $50K in 30 min. Did not note the old $ number - just an estimate

shadowmint 3 days ago 3 replies      
You know when you see something, and everyone who touches it makes a mountain of money, and everytime it happens, the $ values just go upwards, and it seems too good to be true?

It is.

That's called a bubble.

...and it'll burst as soon as there's a high profile kick starter ($million+) that fails and delivers nothing to the people who think they've pre-ordered something.

I like kick starter, and I appreciate what they're doing, but this isn't going to end well.

It's all very well to let people to setup their funding projects go, yeah, I can ship as many t-shirts as people signup for $20! Easy! ...but the reality is, shipping 50k t-shirts for $20 each isn't as easy as people expect.

This is really the problem: People are notoriously bad at making estimates for cost, time, size of projects.

Good luck to Pebble I say, I hope this works out for them. I hope we see this stuff all settle down and turn into a new awesome funding model and not into scammer hell~

hammock 3 days ago 3 replies      
Kickstarter strikes me as Etsy (for unbuilt products) crossed with all those "5K Run/Walk For XYZ" fundraising sites.

I'm skeptical it in a way that I can't put my finger on, still Kickstarter has a secret sauce that makes the people they need to host deals on it actually want to host deals on it (was eBay the same way, I can't remember). Did they ever think four years ago that they'd be running deals of this size?

edit: apparently amazon doesn't hold any of the cash, i stand corrected. and yes of course 100MM is not much compared to the probably 10B in cash equivalents AMZN has ..

jpdoctor 3 days ago 0 replies      
> Few investors were interested in betting on a hardware startup, or dealing with the headaches that often come with manufacturing goods.

The statement above doesn't capture how much of a (relatively) recent development it is that hardware is not considered worthy of funding.

For perspective: 12 years ago A rounds were running $15-20M for hardware startups. B's were $30-40M.

ph0rque 3 days ago 1 reply      
So, their pre-orders are the size of a modest A-round, and they have 30 days to go... impressive!
smoody 3 days ago 0 replies      
already outdated... they are already north of $4M. :-)
sparknlaunch12 3 days ago 6 replies      
I don't really get Kickstarter. Backers essentially are paying the startup company for a product (or early prototype). Sure the company gets some money upfront, but they eventually have to deliver on the product?
And what else does the backer get, apart from the product? Equity? No.
How much money will Pebble be left with after this process?
reneherse 3 days ago 1 reply      
Down the road, I wonder what is the upper boundary of hardware complexity and scale that we'll see on Kickstarter. Exciting times ahead indeed.
harscoat 3 days ago 0 replies      
This wasn't just a one-day, one-hit thing; we've been working on it for about four years now.
Sam Altman, who is one of the partners at Y Combinator, has a great bit of advice: Don't die; don't let your company die. That's the key.
mayneack 3 days ago 0 replies      
Potential strategy:

1. Acquire VC/other funds

2. Put product on kickstarter

3. Use initial funds to hype up and create explosive kickstarter trends

4. Let the hype do the rest.

It's like the Palin PAC strategy.

ww520 3 days ago 3 replies      
Does software project got funded by Kickstarter? It seems most projects are hardware related (physical).
chris123 3 days ago 1 reply      
Question regarding Kickstarter: Can it really be used for commercial projects (or is Pebble not a commercial project?)? Because here http://www.kickstarter.com/help/guidelines it says it is only for "creative projects". I guess it is ok since the term "creative project" is not defined other than that page saying "like making an album, a book, or a work of art." Although later it says "Starting a business, for example, does not qualify as a project." Just trying to understand what can be used on the platform and what can't. Can anyone clarify?
mhartl 2 days ago 0 replies      
Thanks for posting this. I wondered why a YC company would go the Kickstarter route instead of raising money. Now I know.

If VCs aren't worried, they aren't paying attention.

ImprovedSilence 3 days ago 0 replies      
I really really really hope this means they're are going to be hiring and need another RF/wireless comms guy that can do software on the side. I so want to build those!
runako 3 days ago 0 replies      
> Few investors were interested in betting on a hardware startup, or dealing with the headaches that often come with manufacturing goods.

I wonder how many potential smartphone/tablet companies are not being launched due to the timidity of the VC community.

vinayan3 2 days ago 0 replies      
I really want to pre-order one. Reading the comments it seems like a gamble. It is possible, I really hope not, they won't end up making the watch. Any guesses how much it will cost 'retail'? In essence, I want the discount rate I'm getting for taking a gamble on them.
psycho 3 days ago 0 replies      
Well, hardware is really headache for VCs, so Kickstarter now seems the best way to raise money AND promote your idea.
spahl 2 days ago 0 replies      
Does Kickstarter get a cut?
web_chops 3 days ago 0 replies      
The more I think of pebble and all the interest, the more feel that one of the bigger companies making smartphones might acquire them :)
The origins of the blink HTML element montulli.org
207 points by jacobr  1 day ago   65 comments top 17
sophacles 1 day ago 1 reply      
We had a pretty good laugh at the thought of blinking text, and talked about blinking this and that and how absurd the whole thing would be. The evening progressed pretty normally from there, with a fair amount more drinking and me meeting the girl who would later become my first wife.

Invent <blink> and meet the wife in one day. I'm pretty sure this qualifies for evil genius...

m0nty 1 day ago 4 replies      
Given all the JavaScript- and Flash-based assaults on the eye today, the blink tag seems charmingly benign.
swombat 1 day ago 4 replies      
the <blink> tag will probably be remembered as the most hated of all HTML tags

I don't know... it's a pretty close race between <blink> and <marquee>...

thought_alarm 1 day ago 1 reply      
The <hype> tag, another undocumented easter egg, sadly didn't catch on in the same way.
latchkey 1 day ago 1 reply      
Anyone remember animated <title> tags? You put a bunch of them into the document and the browser would render them one by one. So disturbing.
vinayan3 1 day ago 0 replies      
The guy who went and implemented is a true hacker. He deserves applause. Everyone has those conversations where people say wouldn't this be funny. That guy did it and will forever live in the annuals of HTML. I should unleash a practical joke of my own...
altcognito 1 day ago 0 replies      
Interesting that the blink tag never made it into Lynx since it should have been relatively trivial given that there is an ANSI escape sequence for it. I have fond memories of dialing up a BBS with dramatic blinking warnings and ANSI style art that had elaborate blinking designs.
cek 1 day ago 0 replies      
I highly recommend you take the time to read Lou's bio. A lot of what is possible on the Web today came from his contributions:


downx3 1 day ago 1 reply      
Semantically it might have been better authored as the 'pester' element, with blinking being one implementation.
mingfu 1 day ago 0 replies      
Lou is my boss. I could try to get him on here to answer any questions people may have if enough interest.
ianisborn 1 day ago 0 replies      
I worked with the engineer he mentions. Really low-key guy, a grizzled veteran of the internet.
salimmadjd 1 day ago 2 replies      
Oh...the days of blink, frames and animated gif. We thought we were so creative then :)
js2 1 day ago 1 reply      
I found the tag so offensive that I used to "emacs the binary" (Netscape) and null out the "blink" string. This was quite effective.
thrownaway2424 1 day ago 1 reply      
"Saturday morning rolled around and I headed into the office..."
doug1001 1 day ago 0 replies      
Oh, well. The important thing is that humankind has evolved since then: Never embed an animation effect in our markup.Today's web designer understands separation of content, presentation, and behavior. To 'blink', create a jQuery plug-in

A second and just-as-important lesson: never use blinking animation by itself. For maximum aesthetic appeal, use blink in precise syncronicity with the other core web site building blocks--pulsate, throb, flicker, and strobe.

hammerbrostime 1 day ago 1 reply      
I have to say, I find the blink tag to be quaint form of vulgar web design. I'm rather disappointed that it isn't supported by webkit. At least animated gifs still work http://www.lingscars.com/
downx3 1 day ago 0 replies      
I thought it might have been inspired to mimic a cursor blink. But no.
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