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The Silencing of Maya niederfamily.blogspot.be
767 points by kngl  5 days ago   318 comments top 52
jaysonelliot 4 days ago  replies      
The biggest culprit here, in my view, isn't Apple, PRC, or the patent system.

It's the death of physical media and the rise of the "app store" model.

I have programs for my Apple //e computer that are over 30 years old. Most of the companies that made the software have long since disappeared, and the computer hasn't been supported since the '80s, but I can still use them.

That software is my property. I own it, and I can use it for as long as the disks hold out.

By contrast, the software on my iPad isn't really mine, in any practical sense. I'm licensing it, and it can be taken away, or I can be forced into "updates" that may change it in ways I don't want. Sure, I can avoid updating my apps, keep the iPad offline, and only use apps that run 100% locally, but that's an impractical solution, at best.

Consumers are becoming trained to think of their devices as barely more than hermetically sealed dumb terminals (although they wouldn't use that phrase). The notion of "owning" things by paying for them is fading. "Cloud" apps that are free or subscription-based, music and movies that you stream rather than buy, the books on your Kindle, even the seeds that farmers buy from Monsanto aren't theirs to own and use as they please.

Steven Hawking famously continued using the same 1980s-era speech synthesizer for decades because he felt the voice was part of his identity. The company that made it went out of business, but he didn't lose his voice. He could have gone for constant updates, a new and "better" voice every year, but he chose not to. Because he owned his speech synthesizer, it was his choice to make.

There is a lot of obvious benefit to the app store model, from convenience to cost savings to ease of use. There are also many cases where it's vitally important that people own their software and their data. I don't know if it means we need more options for physical media and manual installs, or legislation protecting people's purchases from unwanted updates and removals, or something else, but I see this as a problem that's not limited to just this one situation.

kevinalexbrown 5 days ago  replies      
There seem to be three parts: 1) Are PRC and Apple morally wrong for enforcing and not fighting patent claims? 2) Should patents work in a way that incentivizes PRC and Apple to behave this way? 3) Irrespective of (1) or (2) what can be done?

(1) The answer to this is somewhat ambiguous for any company with investors. Sure, I want my companies to behave in morally responsible ways. On the other hand, there are hundreds of other ways to save and improve lives. If we wanted the companies we invest in to maximize quality of life improvement we would get much further providing vaccinations or microloans to the third world where owning an iPad is as much a pipe dream as winning the lottery (per unit money, energy, whatever). If we want larger public access to scientific advances, perhaps we should fund more public science? Or, we should change the way patents work (2).

(2) This to me seems like a very reasonable question. Aside from patent wars that might hurt your favorite smartphone os vendor, there are real concerns. Drug companies are incentivized to create substances and methodologies that drastically improve the quality and duration of lives in both first and third world countries. On the other hand, intellectual property protection for drugs (until they become generics) does cost lives. But we shouldn't forget just how powerful those incentives are. All the awesome research done in university laboratories (one of which I work in) is nothing without the ability to take a drug from "lab-rat plausible" to "market-ready". Certainly patents don't exist to facilitate personal wealth. But just because they do generate wealth doesn't mean that their intended goal has been forgotten, short-term losses notwithstanding.

Even if we answered (1) and found PRC or Apple to be morally culpable, it misses the larger issue: if society feels that this girl, or others who benefit from patented technology should be allowed to use it, someone's got to pay. Either it's the companies and their investors (the obvious point: not just rich folks), or it's taxpayers through some form of state-sponsored licensing (edit: or some other state-funded mechanism). It's tremendously easy to blame only Apple and PRC (even if they did deserve it). It's a lot harder to put your money on the line, so that families like this one can solve a heartbreaking problem.

MBlume 5 days ago  replies      
I've said this before and I'll say it again. One of the villains in this piece is Apple. Many of the people reading this comment are talented engineers. What Apple needs to survive, more than anything, are talented engineers. So don't work at Apple. Don't work for companies that compromise ethics in this way.

There's a reason Microsoft has been failing to compete for a while. It's because its practices got so evil that if you got offered a job there, your friends would make ha-ha-only-serious jokes about you going to work for Darth Vader. And so the best engineers, the one with options, went looking elsewhere. We need a culture like this now around Oracle, around Apple.

krschultz 5 days ago 2 replies      
"To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries;" - US Constitution Section 8

At the time of the writing of the Constitution something was needed to help spur innovation. It was written in the time of inventions like the cotton gin (easily copied 100x over by anyone who bought 1). But make no mistake, patents and copyrights have been implemented solely to help improve society as a whole since day 1. Enriching inventors is a by product of the desire to push science and art forward, not the raison d'être.

Now it seems that patents, taken as a whole, inhibit innovation. Most entrepreneurs view patents as an obstacle to be overcome, not a reward for their efforts.

I think it's time we either abolish them or vastly raise the bar on what it requires to get a patent. We have several orders of magnitude too many patents on the books today.

ef4 5 days ago 1 reply      
The idea that we need patents to foster innovation is a self-serving lie. Most of human progress -- everything that got us to where we are now -- happens faster the more copying everyone does.

America industrialized faster than Great Britain thanks to widespread copying -- and this saved countless human lives by lifting millions of people out of poverty faster than otherwise possible. Today China is industrializing faster still by rampant copying, and good for them.

This story is just another great example. The patent holder is reluctant to enter the iOS market because they know it will cannibalize their existing very-expensive-device market. Too bad for them. The market should punish them for being slow to serve people in the best possible way. I don't care how much they invested in the idea. That investment has zero value to customers unless it's actually being applied to serve them on the terms they want.

ChuckMcM 5 days ago 7 replies      
Ok, I've read it twice. I'm not sure I understand the argument. It reads like the argument is "This technology helps handicapped people so you shouldn't allow it to be patented." Is that a reasonable argument? PRC seems to have a valid patent, they sell a device the people in the article could use, Speak For Yourself infringed without a license and they are the good guys why?

The patent argument would go, "PRC figured out how to do this thing (invented it), we give them a limited monopoly so that they will continue to invest in doing things like this."

Now I completely agree that if there is litigation in progress that it's uncharitable for Apple to pull the app without a court order but it is their playground. And as everyone points out its not like they reach out and delete it on your iPad (which is why VLC still lives on mine btw)

So what exactly is the question?

justin_vanw 4 days ago 2 replies      
If someone makes a false or unfounded claim, and it causes harm to another person (not least of which a disabled 4 year old) can't you sue the person making a false claim?

If this were shrink wrapped software, you wouldn't have this issue. This sort of thing only comes up because we have given a corporation the power to revoke access to software. In iOS there is no opportunity to install 'unsigned' software.

This situation also makes RMS's claims much more reasonable. Since this is not open software, it takes away the ability to ensure proper functioning of it upon some arbitrary future iOS update. If this were open software running on an open OS, any corporation, misguided or oppressive government, or judge would find it impossible to deprive people of the use of it, in perpetuity.

The two things that I'll be doing in response to this:

- selling my devices that use iOS. I've always felt uncomfortable giving up control, and I am starting to think it is morally iffy to contribute to a system that allows things like Maya being removed from the Appstore. Voluntarily giving rights, by using a system that requires giving a corporation the power to whitelist all software, seems short sighted, and this story brings it into sharp contrast. Luckily I won't have to return to the dark ages, I can just switch to Android (which is a GPL system that allows me to find alternate sources of software, and use unsigned software if I want).

- not buy the new retina macbook pro. I think I will become even more of a curmudgeon and just use Linux. I've been using Linux for around 5 years, but I almost always have a Macbook Pro as well, because Linux has rough edges. This sort of story reminds me that the more I am reliant on non-open software, the more I give the power to other people. If TextMate stops updating (oh, wait), or OSX goes the way of previous non-Jobs Apple products and becomes an untenable product, the more uncomfortable it will be for me. Since I make my living as a programmer, if I lose access to the tools I use, or they become crap, it is a serious concern to me. Perhaps Linux has some rough edges, but I can rely on it being there as long as it is useful for it to be there. I know Emacs will be available to me.

femto 5 days ago 2 replies      
What's so special about this application that a concerted week of coding could not duplicate? It seems like a list of icons, and when you touch an icon a word is spoken. There is a facility to add new icons. The application also seems to permanently fix the location of each "learned" icon, so that as the child grows their vocabulary consists of an expanding set of "muscle memory" movements. There is also a facility to flag attempts to add duplicate icons. [1]

Have I missed something here?

[1] http://www.speakforyourself.org/About_The_App.html

Some interesting links:

Open Source Assistive Technology Software: http://www.oatsoft.org/

A collection of 5000 pictograms, necessary for an AAC application, licensed under CC-BY-NC-SA: http://www.oatsoft.org/Software/arasaac-pictograms/


pVoice, open source Augmentative and Alternative Communication: http://www.oatsoft.org/Software/pvoice

tsunamifury 4 days ago 1 reply      
I am a developer who has had a company maliciously file a patent claim against one of my apps, simply to try to take it out of competition from their own. They have never filed a case or intend to (since they don't even have one) but Apple has gone along with them and removed my app.

If you want to get rid of a competing app, all you have to do is make up lies about your competitor, threaten that you'll sue then and tell Apple. The iTunes store will take care of the rest.

billpatrianakos 5 days ago 3 replies      
I think presenting issues in this way is manipulative. Before I explain, I want to be clear that I truly do feel for this mother and her situation. I also think the patent system is irredeemably fucked to out it nicely. But if you're going to talk about real issues then you can't use stories like this to illustrate them because it's manipulative. Tugging on people's heart strings to push forward your philosophy/beliefs/ideas is a cheap ploy as old as time and it works because a story like this totally derails your ability to think rationally.

I wasn't clear on if the author of this piece was simply telling her tale of how the patent system had a profoundly negative impact on her and her family's lives or if it was meant to push ideas about patent reform or both. As far as the author goes, it doesn't matter because it's irrelevant. I feel for her no matter what her motivations were. We all do I'm sure. What is relevant is why it was posted on HN and it's not hard to guess it was to start a discussion on patent reform.

Now, I'm not stating a position for or against anything here (though I agree with the majority opinion here if you really want to know). What I am saying is that if you want to have a serious discussion about any issue you have to leave these emotional stories out of it because it's not fair and it's a cheap trick. People on both sides of any issue, yes, any issue, can come up with a heart wrenching story to get support.

If you want to discuss and debate an issue then debate it on facts and merit. If you want to empathize with people on either side of an issue then you're also free to do that too. One thing you cannot do, however, is both at the same time. Again, I have to reiterate that I'm totally on this mother's side. I have to keep repeating that because that's what these stories do! They suspend logic, get people all emotional, and the next thing you know people are reacting to things out of pure emotion without thinking no matter how logical the person they react to is being. Using emotion to put forth ideas is a manipulation that aims to hinder or completely stop any real, substantive discussion.

kvnn 5 days ago 2 replies      
The following is from PRC's Facebook page [1].

Most of it is in defense of their lawsuit, while the last paragraph is in defense of their request to remove the app from the Apple store.

Last week Prentke Romich Company (PRC) learned that Apple removed a language assistance app from its iTunes® store pending the outcome of a patent infringement lawsuit filed against the company that developed the iPad® app.

PRC and the licensor of the Unity™ system that powers our language devices jointly filed the lawsuit after our patent attorney found numerous instances of infringement on Unity patents in the “Speak for Yourself” app. Apple has a process that allows third parties to provide notice of infringement concerns as part of its terms and conditions. Accordingly, we reached out to Apple on two occasions. We provided Apple with a copy of the lawsuit, expressing our concerns about the “Speak for Yourself” app. We then responded to a later request from Apple asking for an update on the lawsuit. Last week, Apple elected to remove the app.

The Unity system is the result of the long commitment and hard work of Bruce Baker and his company, Semantic Compaction Systems (SCS). His life's work, which he has refined over decades, created life-changing technology that has given a voice to thousands of individuals with profound disabilities. SCS and PRC filed the patent infringement lawsuit after we reached out to the app company's founders and offered various business solutions, but were refused.

It is important to emphasize that while there are many useful language apps in the marketplace, “Speak for Yourself” is the only app named in the lawsuit because of its flagrant infringements on Unity patents.

There's a reason patents are in place, to protect decades of hard work and research that go into our devices. To take someone's life work and market it as your own is simply wrong. The founders of the company marketing this app are speech-language pathologists who were trained by PRC, and who used their knowledge of the Unity system to develop a Unity-like app of their own and market it in the Apple iTunes store.

We do recognize that new consumer technology, such as tablet-based apps, are playing a useful role in assistive technology, although it is unlikely they will be the best option for all clients. We intend to participate in this space but will only do so in a way that supports the best possible language outcomes for those clients with severe communications disorders.

[1] http://www.facebook.com/PrentkeRomichCompany

guelo 5 days ago 0 replies      
This reminds me of India telling Big Pharma to bugger off, they would not let AIDS people die to protect their profits.

Patents are supposed to be beneficial to society because they give incentive to the inventor to invent. But inventors inventing stuff doesn't seem to be a problem in computer technologies. We don't need these useless patents.

ender7 5 days ago 1 reply      
Here's a video of the Maya in question using the device.


wazoox 4 days ago 2 replies      
And once again, the "crazy" views of the "fanatic" Richard Stallman ring truer than ever. Now that we rely more and more on computerized gadgets running programs for most of our activities, the sheer importance of Free Software running on Free Computers becomes more obvious, because it's becoming literally a matter of life and death.
smoyer 5 days ago 0 replies      
I too have a handicapped child and I know how much work it can be to make even the littlest progress. I'm so glad to hear you've found such a great tool and love that you have also noticed such a big spike in ability ... my son's seem to come during and immediately after trips to Disney World.

And I can also sympathize with the idea that you might lose the sudden gains. Our son didn't walk until he was 3-4 years old, and then at about 9 years old his knees started degrading. Which leaves me with this ... sometimes all I can do for my son is to pray and I'll do that for you too. But I'm also going to send my elected officials your story. It needs to be heard.

duncan_bayne 4 days ago 0 replies      
Rand had a term, 'metaphysical justice' that covered this sort of thing. If you're a company that writes software for closed ecosystems like iOS, you can't complain if the owner of the ecosystem cuts you off.

Ditto if you buy an iOS device; the _feeling_ of security and the easy discoverability that come with a closed ecosystem come at a price, and that is that a third party (in this case Apple) really controls your device, not you.

It's just really sad that Maya's parents discovered the above in such a harsh fashion :-(

haberman 5 days ago 0 replies      
Hey HN: bet you never expected "think of the children" to support an argument you agree with. :)
rurounijones 4 days ago 0 replies      
The one thing that stuck out from this article for me was that Apple removed the application because the dispute had not been resolved after X time.

WTF?! That is all kinds of arse-backwards. If the patent dispute had not yet been resolved then you should not have removed the application, simple as that. The courts do not march to Apple's timetables.

wtracy 5 days ago 0 replies      
Things like this make me wonder if we're missing something by decrying the patent trolls.

When the patent holder is a non-practicing entity, there is no incentive for the holder to interfere with the creation of competing products (abusive attempts to extract a settlement notwithstanding). Anything covered by the patent is a potential source of licensing fees, simple as that.

I'm going to start thinking out loud here: Imagine patent holders are disallowed from directly exercising the techniques covered by their patents. Corporations that patent technology in their field essentially have to sell their patents to NPEs and license them back. The researching corporation gets an up-front return on their R&D investment (and a potential head start in implementing the new patents before the rest of the public actually sees them) and the public suffers none of the side effects of a government-granted monopoly.

The biggest wrinkle in a system like this would be the whole mess of submarine patents. If NPEs could be incentivised to make their patents broadly known, and approach licensees before they implement those patents, they could actually become a real value-ad to the system rather than a parasite: Imagine a one-stop shop where you could license a patent, get a reference implementation, and access experts who could help you apply that patent to your product. It could be similar to companies like ARM that license reference chip designs to manufacturers.

Again, I'm just thinking out loud here, so feel free to let me know if I'm off-base here.

domwood 5 days ago 2 replies      

Nothing instills rage in me more than companies, knowing how essential what they sell is, slagging each other for petty, pointless money.

I hate to be dramatic, but these are disabled adults and children for christ's sake, people who need things like SfY. I just do not understand how someone at the litigating company thought "hey, let's go sue a company over some very complex and possibly unfounded patent allegations! Screw the people that rely on the products we're suing about, they won't mind". How dare they take away a person's ability to communicate? Tell me, is there any reasonable situation where it's acceptable to deny a child's ability to speak?

The humanity of it all :/


ajb 4 days ago 0 replies      
This shows, yet again, is that software patents do not constitute a functioning property system.
What are the affordances of a property system? A big one is that it provides reasonable certainty that you will have the use of something you think you own. Software patents actually work against this.

Lee and Mulligan (http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2016968) make a good case that software firms "are unable to discover the patents their activities might infringe", because software patents are not "indexable" (unlike chemical patents, which are indexable by molecular formula) . Any companies know what their patent assets are, but not their liabilities, as testified by the fact that tech companies put pro-forma statements to this effect (with suitable weasel wording) in their SEC filings.
Now we are seeing that due to the app store model, this risk is propagated to ordinary customers.

rshm 5 days ago 0 replies      
Temporary solution would be to ask developers to port it to android or jail-break app and release from the country that does not honor these patents.

Since the app is a basic necessity for its user, customers wont mind going extra mile and root their device and use the app.

gommm 4 days ago 2 replies      
Looking at this and the video of her using it, I can't help wondering if Maya and her parents wouldn't be better served learning ASL.

ASL is much richer, faster to actually use and doesn't depend on an external app...

Regardless of this, I'm getting increasingly uncomfortable with Apple's practices when it comes to their App store. Legally, as far as I know, they only need to act on a court order to remove the app and don't need preemptive. So, I don't understand the reasoning behind removing it now...

pooriaazimi 4 days ago 1 reply      
Another solution if they're afraid they might lose the ability to use the app if Apple pulls removes the app remotely (which it has NEVER done):

Pay $190 to SfY (via credit card), ask them to give you a provisioning profile for beta testing, install it on your iPad, download updates with TestFlight (https://testflightapp.com) or manually. Problem (partially solved! It sucks, but at least they don't have to fear they might never be able to use this app again, or if the device breaks they life would be ruined.

jsprinkles 5 days ago 4 replies      
Best solution here would appear to be never sync that iPad again, back it up to iTunes, disable its Wi-Fi, and consider it her speech appliance. Don't update the OS, don't sync to iTunes, never do anything with it again aside from using it for this essential purpose. If you have to buy another one, restore it from your iTunes backup. These are the 'legal' avenues, clearly with jailbreaking it's simpler.

Unfortunate that a legal battle puts you in that position, but if this app is as important to her life as she says, she should be perfectly fine freezing that iPad where it is and not treating it like an iPad any more. It is now a dedicated appliance, not a general-purpose iPad. Buy another one for everything else.

Sucks, but, best solution given the circumstances, I think. Obviously, it'd be great if the circumstances changed.

(Edited to add backup.)

Sambdala 5 days ago 1 reply      
Everytime I've heard a patent story in the last several years I've been thoroughly disgusted, but never to the extent I am after reading this story.
bobwaycott 4 days ago 2 replies      
I could be missing something here, and I certainly do not mean to negate the importance this family feels by "hearing" their daughter speak or the indisputable harshness experienced as a result of a patent dispute. I know I would certainly feel the same way if one of my sons had this problem.

However, despite the convenience and awesomeness of being able to do this on an iPad, is there anything preventing the girl (and her parents) from using written or some other method of communication? Can the girl not write out "I love you, Daddy" and anything else she thinks? Is there something I missed in the article? I've looked at the app, and you can't tell all the intended words just from the pictures (as much as I can see how those would help a young child).

I'm not disputing that this doesn't royally suck; I really have little compassion for software patents. I think Apple could have taken a different course of action in this case, sure. However, I have seen some legitimate praise for Apple (even here on HN, if I'm not mistaken) where they've removed apps that have grossly violated other people's work (though that may have been egregious copyright violation, as opposed to patent violation).

Maybe I'm too rational a parent (though I have plenty of emotion where my kids are concerned), but I just could not buy this:

    My daughter cannot speak without this app.
She cannot ask us questions.
She cannot tell us that she's tired, or that she wants yogurt for lunch.
She cannot tell her daddy that she loves him.

That's where the article went too far for me--we've gone from validly pulling at my heart strings, both as a compassionate person and as a parent, and now we're swimming about in hyperbole.

Yes, the iPad is a lovely device. Yes, the app does wonders for getting to hear "a voice" in place of the one the author's daughter cannot use on her own. Yes, that is fantastic and convenient and helpful because we're such auditory beings. But to make the claim that one's child cannot communicate without the aid of an electronic device and an application just goes too far in my view--especially when you read throughout the rest of the blog all the various ways in which they've worked with Maya to enable two-way communication, with varying (but definite) degrees of success. The claim simply disputes the other stories told.

I don't want to seem like a dick or have no compassion--again, as a parent, I can totally empathize with how devastating losing more fluid and convenient communication would be. I'd love to have an iPad helping my child along if s/he wasn't able to speak. But if the alternative is my child not being able to communicate with me at all, fuck the iPad and patents and all that shit. I'll grab a pen & paper and teach my children how to write what they're thinking, or go back for more ASL, or one of the other various methods the author has used ... something that doesn't need disputed technology (you still have to know language and have the device to use this app). Yes, this situation and its impact on this family sucks. Yes, it is totally shitty every which way. But hyperbole isn't the right tactic.

What appears to be truly lost in this story is the convenience of two-way communication introduced by the help of Speak For Yourself's app. Not the ability to communicate at all.

jfasi 4 days ago 1 reply      
It's telling that the author hasn't received an offer for a free copy of PRC's product.

Think about it: the author writes touching human interest story that pulls at readers' heartstrings by genuinely presenting the dilemma he is faced with. The story resonates with the combined holy trinity of geek social news: "Apple is a soulless and evil," "The patent system is a parasite on the world," and "Indie game/software developers are sacrosanct." Outrage ensues.

What could make this all go away for PRC? Apologizing and offering the author a free copy of their product before he decides to launch a crusade and a PR nightmare. Instead, no such offer came through.

The question I want answered is, Why? Are these companies so clueless that they don't see the PR catastrophe brewing? Do they know and don't care?

I propose a teaching about the nature of social news in the form of an admittedly unlikely third explanation: The company performed a cost-benefit analysis and realized that the intersection of this blog's audience and the company's customer base is so small they can get away with ignoring them.

Your outrage is impotent. You can rage about this on the internet all you want, but it's not going to cause an inch of motion in any direction. If you want to do something other than express frustration, send letters to newspapers, don't post comments. These companies are going to have to lead marketing campaigns. Get the jump on them and make the first impression on their potential customers.

That is how you get things done.

sdoowpilihp 5 days ago 0 replies      
It's so ironic to read this story after having seen the keynote video proclaiming how iOS has changed so many lives in such profound ways, and having Tim Cook proclaim how "It's a great reminder of what it's all about, and why all of us do what we do". [1]

I get the fact that the way apple handled this is fairly standard, but it is still disheartening.

[1] http://seekingalpha.com/article/654641-apple-s-ceo-presents-...

gte910h 5 days ago 1 reply      
If anyone feels like making a copycat app over the weekend.


sitkack 4 days ago 0 replies      
If the goal is to get a working app in the hands of people that need it. Have an android app created that can be easily sideloaded (this could be done on iOS will more burden). You have a portable computer, treat it like one. There are no rules when your children's well being is at stake.


The ipad should be a) backed up, b) put in airplane mode.

dools 4 days ago 1 reply      
I can't see this in the article (or the original) but I wonder why they haven't developed sign language as a tool? It seems to me as though if someone can learn to use an app to produce speech they could learn at least some modified form of sign language.
leot 3 days ago 0 replies      
The debate here seems to be about whether patents are good or bad, when the problem seems to be more about their implementation.

It's possible to imagine a patent system that has far fewer problems (though no doubt massive armies will form to oppose any major reform).

slurgfest 4 days ago 0 replies      
This, the same week that someone posts an ESR rant about how RMS is a bad, counterproductive zealot for making software freedom into a moral issue.

Maybe he is, maybe not, but this example begins to show the moral dimension

ashleyblackmore 4 days ago 0 replies      

"SCS and PRC filed the patent infringement lawsuit after we reached out to the app company's founders and offered various business solutions, but were refused."

"There's a reason patents are in place, to protect decades of hard work and research that go into our devices. To take someone's life work and market it as your own is simply wrong. The founders of the company marketing this app are speech-language pathologists who were trained by PRC, and who used their knowledge of the Unity system to develop a Unity-like app of their own and market it in the Apple iTunes store."

There's obviously some undercurrent here, since apparently the folks behind the application are former employees of these companies. Of course, none of that changes the fact that what these companies are doing is unconscionable, since it benefits only themselves and not the people they are purportedly setting out to assist with these devices. Amazing, considering those same people are the ones putting bread on the company's table.

jmilloy 4 days ago 1 reply      
Wow, how could the PRC products really need to cost $8000? It's buttons with a touch screen. Honestly, it sounds likelY that sfy is infringing. In our copyright system, unfortunately you have to pay or you have to wait for it to expire for cheaper options. However, it wasn't worth it to me, as part of the Public, to give PRC exclusive rights to those ideas, especially if they're going to sell them for that price.
kvnn 5 days ago 0 replies      
If you take a look at the PRC Facebook page [1], there is a SWARM of angry people making a mess of their name.

I wonder if this removal will be a net loss for them.

[1] I've linked it twice on this thread, and its in the original post's conclusion

leoh 4 days ago 0 replies      
What about sign language and other traditional approaches to being mute? It seems like relying on electronics alone is a dangerous solution.
geon 4 days ago 1 reply      
The issue is real and important, but a simple solution in the specific case would be to turn off all network connectivity, and not sync the device.

Then the app will stay on it indefinitely, and you don't need to worry about Apple taking it away.

MaysonL 4 days ago 0 replies      
Note that the Lite version of Speak for Yourself is still up on the App Store: I would urge everyone reading this to rate it and review it as quickly as possible.
pjmlp 4 days ago 0 replies      
This are very sad news and I will surely add an entry about this to my blog.

The only way to stop this type of abusive behavior is to stop giving money to companies like Apple.

Don't like their dictatorship behavior?

Instead of buying stuff and then complaining it does not work, or jailbreaking, don't give them any money, not even a penny.

marquis 5 days ago 0 replies      
This is unfortunate, I do hope there is some recourse for him. I am curious, are there similar cases of this happening for the Android platform? Would there be another opportunity to plead his case before being banned?
dutchbrit 3 days ago 0 replies      
Calling together all HN'ers, maybe we can build something for this kid, and others in the same situation. http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=4107019
joering2 5 days ago 0 replies      
ok, but can someone who has this app copy it into a jailbroken device? this way OP could have a backup device (or even two iPads!) with this software on, just in case.

Sorry, but fuck patents when its comes to human life. And silencing this kid is like taking life out of her and her parents.

sciurus 4 days ago 0 replies      
meaydinli 5 days ago 2 replies      
Does SfY have iOS specific functions? If not, one option would be to port it to Android, and then use it on a rooted android device. Since android doesn't depend on a single marketplace, it would be harder to remove it completely.
mikecane 4 days ago 0 replies      
Who at Apple made the decision to remove it? There should be a name attached to that removal. And why hasn't this been elevated to the attention of Tim Cook?
bborud 4 days ago 0 replies      
Patents reward the wrong thing. They reward having the idea rather than realizing it. With regard to maximizing value for humanity this is exactly the wrong way around.
chj 5 days ago 0 replies      
Software Patents Are Human Evil At Its Best.
mcteapot 5 days ago 0 replies      
What is the patent in dispute?
pasbesoin 5 days ago 2 replies      
Where's Jobs when you need him?
Famous judge spikes Apple-Google case, calls patent system “dysfunctional” gigaom.com
592 points by bokchoi  9 days ago   121 comments top 22
grellas 9 days ago 1 reply      
Judge Posner is indeed a brilliant and highly-respected jurist and his views on our problematic patent system will undoubtedly resonate and help the cause of reform. In his courtroom role as such, though, he can have only limited impact on the broader patent debate.

The judge entered a tentative ruling saying that he was inclined to dismiss the entire case on the merits with prejudice (meaning, to kill all the claims in the case definitively so they could not be brought again by either party) on grounds that (a) neither party could prove actual damages on their claims, and (b) no good ground existed for the grant of an injunction.

These conclusions are well supported on technical grounds by existing law. A damage case can be tossed, once and for all, if a party is conclusively shown not to be able to prove damages, as happened here. And a judge can decline to impose an injunction where the costs of doing so would be far out of proportion to the benefit it gives to the harmed party, where the wrongdoing party is not gaining great benefit from the wrong committed, and where the public would be more damaged than helped by such a remedy.

What this really amounts to is a victory for common sense. Where patents involve essentially trivial rights (as often is the case with software patents especially), judges do not like to be used as tools to be manipulated in a broader commercial fight between litigants. In essence, this judge, looking at these facts, said "OK, kids, time to stop squabbling in the sandbox and go home." The lesson: pick your fights carefully and don't push claims that are essentially trivial.

Judges, good as they are, can only do so much in a system that is defined by constitutional authorization, congressional implementation, and a specialized court set up by Congress that has become cozy with the patent bar. That said, Judge Posner can hardly be accused of being a judge who doesn't respect property rights or IP rights generally and his voice will carry far more impact than most. It will be necessary to have respected voices in the legal community say, "enough is enough" many times over before Congress will listen. This act may not be enough but it is a great push in the right direction.

arjunnarayan 9 days ago 4 replies      
This opinion is both extraordinary and extremely significant. Richard Posner is probably the most prolific legal intellectual not on the supreme court. He co-writes, along with Gary Becker (Nobel Prize winner in Economics) this excellent blog http://www.becker-posner-blog.com/

Posner is the author of the 4th most cited Law Review article in the field of intellectual property law[1]. Most telling of all is this statistic: "As of 2000, Judge Posner was the most often-cited legal scholar of all time with 7,981 citations, nearly 50 percent more than anyone else" [2]. He retains that position in 2012.

[1] - William M. Landes & Richard A. Posner, An Economic Analysis of Copyright Law, 18 J. Legal Stud. 325 (1989).
[2] Fred Schapiro & Michelle Pearse, The Most Cited Law Review Articles of All Time, Michigan Law Review 2012.

pg 9 days ago  replies      
What a wonderful surprise. I'd forgotten about the judicial branch, and now they appear like the cavalry to sort out this mess.

Wouldn't it be great if they went after the patent trolls next?

CurtHagenlocher 9 days ago 1 reply      
Nice quote from a different judge: "The court is well aware that it is being played as a pawn in a global industry-wide business negotiation."
grecy 9 days ago 0 replies      
Wow, I think the more interesting part of this is his slamming of the current situation in America:

"The institutional structure of the United States is under stress. We might be in dangerous economic straits if the dollar were not the principal international reserve currency and the eurozone in deep fiscal trouble. We have a huge public debt, dangerously neglected infrastructure, a greatly overextended system of criminal punishment, a seeming inability to come to grips with grave environmental problems such as global warming, a very costly but inadequate educational system, unsound immigration policies, an embarrassing obesity epidemic, an excessively costly health care system, a possible rise in structural unemployment, fiscal crises in state and local governments, a screwed-up tax system, a dysfunctional patent system, and growing economic inequality that may soon create serious social tensions. Our capitalist system needs a lot of work to achieve proper capitalist goals."

Not mincing words indeed.

neilk 9 days ago 1 reply      
What does it mean that Posner was assigned to a lower court? Should we assume that he requested a chance to rule on this matter? Or is the entire judicial branch disgusted with the patent system too, and they asked for a pinch-hitter?
mikek 9 days ago  replies      
> [re a slide-to-unlock patent] Apple's .. argument is that “a tap is a zero-length swipe.” That's silly. It's like saying that a point is a zero-length line.

But a point is a zero-length line.

bokchoi 9 days ago 1 reply      
The linked blog post from Posner is excellent:


gruseom 9 days ago 4 replies      
Posner is so famous and respected and such a polymath that his absence from the Supreme Court is conspicuous. Does anyone know why he's never been nominated?
gdubs 9 days ago 1 reply      
I notice that NeXT is listed as a co-plaintif - does anyone know why? Weren't they completely acquired by Apple?
eykanal 9 days ago 1 reply      
I can't read the embedded Scribd document (scribd is blocked here)... what term does Motorola claim has a "plain and ordinary meaning"?
dschobel 8 days ago 0 replies      
Outside of his nigh-endless legal accomplishments, Posner is also allegedly the basis for the character of Mr. Burns on the Simpsons.

His blog (http://www.becker-posner-blog.com/) is well worth a read.

If you're an economic-utilitarian you'll love it, otherwise you'll probably think he's a monster, albeit a very rational one.

SagelyGuru 9 days ago 0 replies      
He called it right, as it is.
ecocentrik 9 days ago 2 replies      
I'm glad Posner and a few other justices seem to have an interest in discrediting frivolous patent cases but can they do anything other than point a dirty finger at corporations for abusing the patent system and dismiss their cases with prejudice? Posner can't shift around his appointments indefinitely.

It's obvious that most HNers feel the patent system won't change any time soon or they wouldn't be filling this thread with a discussion on the definition of a line segment.

Edit: I'm not saying he should do more. I was asking if he could do more from his position. I recognize that he's bringing needed attention to the subject and setting an example that will probably be followed by others in the judiciary.

wwweston 8 days ago 0 replies      
It didn't seem to make much difference when Posner endorsed Keynes as "the best guide we have to the [recent economic] crisis"; I don't expect his comments will make much difference to discussion of the patent system. In both cases, you have too many actors invested in a different view.
mark_l_watson 9 days ago 0 replies      
Ah, Judge Posner. Years ago I was the Creative Commoner for a while, Lawrence Lessig sent me a congratulatory email in which he said that I was "another Judge Posner" -- it took me a good bit of research to get the humor.

Now I smile whenever I see Judge Posner's name.

peapicker 8 days ago 0 replies      
Judge sounds biased against the patent system. Would be interesting to see an appeal based on this.
3mpach3r 9 days ago 0 replies      
I think I like this guy...
Imagenuity 9 days ago 0 replies      
U.S. Circuit Judge Richard Posner is my new hero.
antithesis 9 days ago 0 replies      
> Motorola's contention that the term has a “plain and ordinary meaning” is ridiculous; Motorola seems to have forgotten that this is a jury trial.

Look who's talking.

monochromatic 8 days ago 1 reply      
What do you know, a judge from an appeals court that never hears patent cases doesn't know anything about how the patent system works.

Why we let circuit judges sit by designation on cases that are literally outside their jurisdiction escapes me.

monochromatic 8 days ago 0 replies      
Posner is a drama queen, as usual. "I don't like what you're doing, so I'm going to ignore law and binding precedent to come to a decision that feels right and will get me some more publicity."


Moderators of HN: please stop changing post titles
526 points by there  5 days ago   44 comments top 27
tokenadult 5 days ago 1 reply      
I can give an example of a title change AWAY from the original article title. I was quite puzzled by that when it happened, and I've never heard an explanation of why it happened. I heard about an article from a researcher on human genetics who was writing to other human genetics researchers on an email list. I meet many of those researchers in person in a local "journal club." The researcher was asking for responses from his colleagues about the article, and I thought the article was interesting enough to bring up here on Hacker News. My submission of the article here


was under the original article title, namely "23andMe disproves its own business model." The ensuing Hacker News discussion had several commenters (who apparently had paid their hard-earned money for the services of the 23andMe company) complaining about the title, which I didn't editorialize or spin in any way. I agree that the article was controversial, but a legitimate researcher in the field thought that it was a worthwhile read, which is the only reason I submitted the article to HN. After I no longer had my edit window for the submission title, some anonymous person with title-editing power changed the title to "23andMe finds Parkinsons only 24% heritable" (which is a title that reveals considerable ignorance about human genetics, and doesn't fairly represent the content of the submitted article). As I post this, the original article is not showing up to me by following the original link, but Google's cache


confirms the original article title.

I can bear with curators here changing article titles to original article titles (or to titles that condense original article titles to less than 90 characters, which is the hard-coded length limit here), but I sure would like an explanation of what a user is to do if it's possible to submit an article with EXACTLY the original article title (my usual practice) and then have the title changed to a stupid-looking title that is still under my screen name. If curators are going to do that kind of thing, they should at least sign their edits to take accountability for them. (That is the usual practice in another online forum where I have editing powers on other people's posts, where I use this same screen name I use here. If I edit someone's submission title, an edit trail identifies that I did that.)

pooriaazimi 5 days ago 0 replies      
Completely agree. It bit me once: I submitted a link to a free epub book (hosted on GitHub), titled

    Backbone.js Fundamentals [free ebook, epub]

(here: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=3831954)

it surprisingly made it to the front page (250 votes), but soon a mod changed the title to

    Backbone.js Fundamentals

So, a lot of unsuspecting visitors (my guess is about 25000 - my personal experience tells me most front page links get 100x visits more than their votes) clicked on this link, expecting to see a web page but end up downloading a random epub. Very soon the poor guy's GitHub account was suspended temporarily due to excessive bandwidth usage.

I felt very bad and angry at the time.

citricsquid 5 days ago 1 reply      
My most upvoted comment (85 points) in my second most upvoted submission (554 points) is a complaint about exactly this. In my case they changed the title from:

"Lights -- impressive html5 / webgl presentation built with threejs"




dfc 5 days ago 0 replies      
This happened to a story[1] I submitted yesterday. The title that I submitted was something essentially:

Analyzing the MD5 collision in Flame (Alexander Sotirov's Summercon Slides)

I thought it was useful/informative to include Sotirov's name in order to lend credibility to the analysis. I did not link directly to the pdf, however in the spirit of the submission guidelines I thought it would be appropriate to include that the main body of the link were slides from Summercon. It was changed to:

Analyzing the MD5 collision in Flame

It is not apparent to me why the title was changed. In my opinion the changed title was less informative to the reader and the original title did not include any spin/hyperbole/offensive material. Mainly I am just curious as to why the title was changed. I think it would be helpful if the moderators would post a comment when a title was changed. This would help inform the community about when a title is changed and educate us about what is and what is not proper. In the long run I think this would help make the moderators job easier...

[1] http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=4098713

ilamont 5 days ago 1 reply      
On occasion, I have experienced my submitted headlines being reverted back to the original source's obscure headline. More often than not these obscure headlines were made for a print newspaper or magazine where the lede (which HN readers can't see unless they click through) explains the story.

In addition, the 80-character limit sometimes makes it difficult to include the original headline for some of the more wordy publications. This forces rewriting.

I remember HN submissions used to allow headlines that were 90 or even 100 characters long. Why not bring back these limits?

mindcrime 5 days ago 0 replies      
Yes, yes, 1000x yes. Changing titles to remove gratuitous editorial spin is one thing... changing titles just for the sake of changing them is silly and counter-productive.
nsns 5 days ago 0 replies      
I think, basically, the OP's request is to start distinguishing between "spins" of titles for polemical and other questionable purposes (which should be reverted), and titles that are honestly modified in order to call attention to aspects that are interesting to HN readers, but might be marginal in the original context of the article.
freehunter 5 days ago 0 replies      
probably caused lots of people that had already visited the link once to read it and think it was something else.

Many times have I been looking for an article I read previously and cannot find it. It's a combination of headline editing, a really poor search engine, and the way things fall off the front page mix with things that haven't hit the front page yet.

its_so_on 5 days ago 0 replies      
Upvoted this submission, since it's important and we should talk about it.

At the same time, I think the title-editing as actually practiced is great. I'm pleased with the results whenever I notice the changes. (Which is usually after someone gives good reason for the changes).

This is perfect and in line with the reason we're allowed to edit our own submissions for a while. It's basic tweaking to make things fair and accurate, instead of link-baity and sensational.

I can give one personal example.

In hindsight (past few weeks' performance) the original title was right and I was wrong, but I complained about the title here or another story: http://hackerne.ws/item?id=3993657

Basically, I complained that it used the word "barely above its opening price" (or another, similar word like "barely"), which I thought unfair, since 23 cents of gains in a day is perfectly normal and if sustained would be a good trend forever.

The title was changed. (In hindsight, the negative title was justified, and my complaint was out of place.)

This is a place where we are a tight community that can do things like accuse each other of stabbing one another in the back, or stealing each others' text or ideas, or whatever. People upvote. THe story comes out. Responses are written. Soon enough we know if the original, sensational title is justified or needs to be toned down either a little or quite a bit.

On the whole I think the moderators do an excellent job on the titles and it serves a really important purpose. I'm not sure how to fix the other complaints mentioned here. (Maybe put a history in there for search engines or if people want to know how it was submitted).

I know I much prefer this to the broken titles that slashdot users had to put up with (even after complaints) back when that site still had a readership... proactive is much better here.

flabbergasted 23 hours ago 0 replies      
Another title change example: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=4121698

I submitted a link with the title: 'Linus to Nvidia: "Fuck You"', which was changed to: 'Aalto Talk with Linus Torvalds'

My original title was much more accurate (especially since I linked to a specific part of the video).

anigbrowl 5 days ago 1 reply      
Yes, it's aggravating. In an ideal world there would be a comment and explanation, but since this would often end up derailing the subject of the pos into a discussion about moderation, I suggest mods just abstain from doing it or else send a note to the poster. When I rewrite the title of an article I do so with a view to making it more accessible to HN readers.
kirubakaran 5 days ago 1 reply      
At the very least, a comment should be automatically added logging "Title was changed from X to Y".
51Cards 5 days ago 0 replies      
Also couldn't agree more. It's very frustrating when this happens. Sure my browser show's the link as "Visited" but when I don't recognize the title (or more specifically it doesn't seem to be in reference to anything I've read that day) I end up opening it again. As stated sometimes the reason the article is up here is not the primary focus of the article itself.
dredmorbius 5 days ago 2 replies      
I would prefer that the alternative of posting either a link or explanatory text be changed to allow both.

Often a title, original or otherwise, simply doesn't provide sufficient context to clearly explain a link. A few well-chosen words of prose could help here (more so if the text could be editied / modified while the post was sitting in queue). Gameable? Perhaps, but we can vote down / flag in that instance.

"Heat & Thunder" was pretty non-obvious to me, and until I read the comment here about the data visualization, struck me as particularly non-interesting.

bookworm97 5 days ago 0 replies      
Truth be told, you moderators are obsolete. I know that changing titles makes you feel like you are important. But the only thing you are really needed for is stopping spam. Stop ruining peoples post titles with your false fear of "gratuitous editorial spin".

You should only change titles if the title doesn't even remotely match up with the content.
e.g. Title: Heat win championship / Content: Thunder win championship

phuu 5 days ago 1 reply      
Kinda funny how no moderators have responded... makes me uncomfortable that this community seems to be arbitrarily moderated by invisible people.
DivisibleByZero 5 days ago 0 replies      
Definitely agree. I have been following light table religiously and missed the https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=3875857 story because I probably saw it after the change. If a submission gets up-votes it is a sort of validation for the submitted title. Tailoring a post title to the HN community is an excellent way to bring attention to articles the community most definitely enjoys, but would otherwise miss.
lupatus 5 days ago 0 replies      
I agree whole-heartedly. Moderators frequently changing titles is an annoying practice. The article's links are not descriptive (they're just id numbers), so the article titles are how I mentally keep track of which submissions I want to, or don't want to, read. Changing the the title makes me have to guess if it is a new submission to hit the front page or just an old one with new clothes, so to speak.
kposehn 5 days ago 0 replies      
I had posted the recent one and after it hit the top of the first page, I received an email to not editorialize titles in HN posts, and it was changed.

On reflection, it was quite clearly a spin and I could have made that title much better. The mods are generally looking out for the community and trying to keep titles as representative of the as possible.

taylorbuley 5 days ago 1 reply      
Is there any hard and fast rule on who gets mod privileges? Is it a karma thing or a trust thing?
horsehead 5 days ago 0 replies      
Or at least an explanation of what was changed and why. it would give a little more transparency to the site. And the same goes for link deletion, etc. It would be nice to know why such and such comment or submission was shelved (though some are guessable, others are not as much).
pi18n 5 days ago 0 replies      
I agree with this, your examples should not have been changed. I would like to see the converse -- if the title is the same as an article's but the article's title is linkbait or sensationalized I would like it to be changed to something that tells me what it's really about.
lawnchair_larry 5 days ago 0 replies      
I've had this problem too. They are way too overzealous about this.
lnanek2 5 days ago 0 replies      
Wish they just took care of this elegantly with the already in place voting system. Let multiple links be submitted with different titles and let people vote up the one with the good title. Why let some mod with personal opinions and not enough time to know every subject and article dictate things? Let the community decide.
joering2 5 days ago 0 replies      
slightly OT: I recently been killed by HN and writing an article on it: it wasn't easy to get resurrected as well as actually realized I've been dead!
AffableSpatula 5 days ago 0 replies      
The people taking this action are in charge of how the content should be presented here. You can always vote with your feet.
there 5 days ago 1 reply      
That is false. I've had titles of my own submissions changed by someone else, and as the submitter of the Light Table link replied in that thread, he or she did not change the title, either.
I analyzed the chords to 1300 popular songs for patterns. This is what I found. hooktheory.com
490 points by davec  5 days ago   181 comments top 52
planetguy 5 days ago  replies      
What I'd like to see is a plot of the number of chords used in a song versus time. Possibly even broken down by genre, or correlated to other qualities (sex of singer) et cetera.

If you start at the 1950s, you'll see very simple rock songs; your classic three-chord rock songs. As you hit the 1960s you'll see more complexity; The Beatles, for instance, had more harmonic complexity than what had come before, which continues to be imitated into the 1970s. Then what happens? I don't know, by the 1980s you're looking at a lot of very simple music again, though music is becoming more diverse genre-wise so you're probably getting a larger spread. Then by the present day you have a disturbing trend of one-chord or even no-chord music; apart from rap [which contains no singing but seems to have got simpler even in the backing tracks over the years] we now find that even sung songs are completely lacking in harmony or chord progression. A particularly annoying example I noticed the other day would be that song (dunno who it's by) with the lyrics "We found love in a hopeless place", which seems to have a melody of just four notes.

I could continue this discussion going backwards in time from the 1950s and talking about how the ever-growing harmonic sophistication of art music through Beethoven to Wagner eventually led to a complete breakdown of the idea of harmony in art music which led to music that nobody liked which led to the death of art music and the establishment of rock and roll from square one, but that's another discussion.

snorkel 5 days ago 10 replies      
Reason: It's easier to play these chords on a 6 string guitar, which has been the dominant instrument of choice for pop song composers.

The first C chord on a guitar is easy to hit with no finger twisting required. It's also easy to switch between the first C, Am, and G chord, you can even do it quickly and repeatedly while drunk as you can imagine many pop songs are written. The first F chord requires a little more careful finger placement but still easy to get too. Sure enough you hear this over and over in pop songs, some simple sequence of C F G A chords over and over.

Not surprising that the complex guitar chords that require six pencil-thin rubber fingers and a degree in music theory to know how to play aren't heard as often.

kroger 5 days ago 1 reply      
Nice post, I'm looking forward for the next one. Meanwhile I'll give my 2 cents.

The main problem in analyzing tonal music is that we mainly listen to relations between chords. For instance, in the following progression in C major, A major functions as a dominant of D (D is the dominant of G and G is the dominant of C):

    C A D G C. 

OTOH, in the following progression the same A is the subdominant of E:

    E A B E. 

This means that if a song modulates or there's a tonicization [1] the same chord will have different tonal functions and we'll listen to it differently. Just counting a chord in a song may not be enough if they have different functions.

The number of repetitions also matters. Tonally, the progressions C | C | C | G | G and C | G | C | G are the same as C | G. Is he eliminating repetitions in the analysis?

About using A major in C; you can use it as a dominant of D (see my 1st example) or as a chromatic mediant [2] in C major. Of course, in modern music you can use anything you want, but these two are the most common uses.

And, naturally, the types of chords used will vary according to the music style.

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tonicization
[2] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chromatic_mediant

horsehead 5 days ago 2 replies      
What he's really talking about is chord progression (while he doesn't really say that, it's essentially the description of his first few paragraphs). Most university-level music classes discuss common chord progressions. As he notes, the I, IV and V chords are the most common to appear in a song.

It's a great article, but I think he may have done a lot of work to find out something that is fairly common knowledge lol. Still cool though to have the supporting data. (edit: it would be cool to make this an interactive piece of data presentation to help you write songs. Also, the I, IV and V chords are so popular because they naturally make people feel good. It's why they show up so often in 'pop' music. minor chords have a more depressive quality to them)

Also, if you need proof that certain chords show up often in music, just listen to some Nickelback. Here is a fun link (that I THINK works. my speaker only works in the left side ;) )

dude_abides 5 days ago 0 replies      
nchuhoai 5 days ago 2 replies      
I like this analysis:


While I do believe the popular songs follow some pattern, I think the chord progression is only a subset. Someone should look into why Call me Maybe is so catchy. Seriously though

fferen 5 days ago 3 replies      
When I was young and learning music theory in piano lessons, one day I realized that literally half the songs on the radio used the chord progression "I V vi IV". This was a huge revelation to me! To my dismay, I couldn't find any evidence on the internet that anyone else had noticed this, until very recently I saw the "Four Chord Song" by Axis of Awesome (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5pidokakU4I). I was hoping to see some mention of that in this article, but was disappointed.
glassx 5 days ago 1 reply      
The chord choices in Garageband are the chords found within the scale of C, plus Bb (even the Bdim - but, to be pedant, it should actually be a B7b5). Having Bb you can modulate (or "change the key") to F without having to switch scales etc.

Also, the fact that he found D, E and A among the results is probably because of modulations. It's VERY common for pop songs to modulate a whole step during some chorus near the end [1]. As mentioned, G, F and C are V, IV and I. If we modulate a whole step, from C to D, the V, IV and I are A, G and D. It would be nice to consider those modulations into the research.

About the key choice, I believe it's irrelevant. It depends a lot on what's your instrument (Bb, Eb is easier on brass instruments), your style (lots of Metal songs in the key of E because E is the lowest note on guitar), your tuning (lots of rock bands downtune their guitars to Eb or D etc), your proficiency, and, most important, the vocalists range.


[1] Otis Reeding - My Girl, Celine Dion - Because You Loved Me (actually lots of songs by her), Monty Python/Eric Idle - Always Look On The Bride Side of Life, Talking Heads Nothing But Flowers (If you search "whole step key change" you'll get a bunch)

terryk88a 5 days ago 1 reply      
Snnnzx.. wha?

This may best thought of as a lexical analysis of 1300 popular novels. E.G. what is the most popular word following the word "it". The key of a tune 'controls' the chords available, using a typical chord progression. A song in the key of C most typically has the progression C-F-G or I-IV-V in roman numerals signifying 1 for the dominant C, and 4 and 5 for F and G respectively the fourth and fifth notes in the key's scale.

More interesting might be what are the most popular chord progressions. E.G. I-IV-V or II-IV-Im. Which is what I was expecting to click through to.

A million monkeys can write a hit in how many years, now? And BTW "it was a dark and stormy night" don't you know.

lux 5 days ago 0 replies      
The reason people fall back to the I IV V and VI chords (C F G and Am in the key of C) is that going between them creates a false sense of forward motion in the listener without actually going anywhere. Moving from the IV to V creates tension that can be built up and released by resolving to the I, or increased by going to the VI and resolved to the IV. Any combination of those pretty much sounds "good". Variations add the II (Dm) in place of the V or in between the IV and V, or add the III on the way to the IV. It's really simple, and made even simpler by power chords because you don't even have to move your hand shape to play entire songs on rhythm. Leads can then switch between major scale phrases and pentatonic (aka blues) phrases of the minor of whatever key is being played in, (so Am blues over C) and almost anything they do sounds good to the average listener. In the end, you only have to keep their attention for ~40 seconds between hooks and just crutch on the catchy chorus and you've got a hit. But if you analyze most popular forms of music, the above is at their core anyway. It's just more bare bones in modern pop and rock music.
te_chris 5 days ago 1 reply      
The article was down, but I assume this will be relevant: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Schenkerian_analysis

We spent a lot of time doing this sort of stuff to flesh out harmonic and melodic patterns/meaning of pieces while at music school. To (grossly) simplify, it's essentially a form of reduction analysis, but the final step of the analysis is always I - V - I chord progression (tonic - dominant) with the 3 blind mice melody above (stepwise descending). I never found the final reduction particularly useful as, though he had a point about the prevalence of the tonic dominant relationship, it was over blown. The reduction steps were very useful for stripping away flourishes though, in order to see what was happening at a more base level in a piece (we analyzed a lot of Mahler this way).

Kinda like Map/Reduce in some ways.

pents90 5 days ago 0 replies      
For those interested in a far deeper analysis of music structure, as well as exploring the possibility of computer composition and creativity, see the work of David Cope: http://www.amazon.com/Computer-Models-Musical-Creativity-Dav...
PeterWhittaker 4 days ago 0 replies      
Directions for future research:

1. Normalize for key: Express chords as I, ii, iii, IV, etc. This will permit analysis of chord progressions/exceptions (see below) across all keys.

2. Detect common constructs, e.g., 8-12-16 bar Blues, and analyze for exceptions, e.g., use of vi instead of I, use of V versus V7 as turnaround, etc. (And more interesting exceptions, e.g., resolution to ii or iii instead of I, etc.)

3. Related to #2, search for popular songs that do NOT follow/use common constructs. Are there are common characteristics across "second rank" popular songs (by which I mean "popular but not quite smashes, or short-duration - novelty - smashes")?

4. How much variation in key and/or chord progression is there for each artist?


A. Not much of a surprise that C/Am is the most popular key: It is the most accessible - the white keys of the piano. It is also very accessible on the guitar, once one learns F...

B. ...but surprising to me that E is so unpopular, being "the natural key" of the guitar (E, A, B/B7 being so easy to learn and so common to the Blues). Analysis of key use by decade - or genre - could prove interesting....

C. Keys these days (the days of equal temperament) are chosen largely on accessibility: Can the soloist hit all of the notes important to the key? Can the accompanist make all the chords important to the song? Once upon a time, prior to equal temperament, keys had sounds and feels of their own, but nowadays, with equal temperament, the progression from unison to octave is by steps of absolutely the same value in each key.

bishnu 5 days ago 0 replies      
This is a good start, I'd be more interested if these chord patterns were compared against a database of UNpopular songs to see if the what sort of differences in chord distribution correlated with popular songs (although where you'd find that, I do not know). It's difficult to understand what this really quantifies - all the "2nd chord" distribution suggests to me at this point is that there's a large difference between actually playing music vs a random sequence of chords. It's good that you're recapitulating that at least, but not really a striking observation.

Regardless, I will be keeping tabs on this. Hah, totally didn't intend that pun.

flomincucci 5 days ago 3 replies      
I'm amused by the fact that this person doesn't seem to know that chords per se - and the analysis of them - is practically useless because they can and actually do vary from version to version of the same song. The thing that matters is how the chords are related (modes and progressions).
Brashman 5 days ago 5 replies      
How does this compare to what Music Theory says about chords and chord progressions? Any Music Theory experts/aficionados around? I've unfortunately forgotten most of what I learned in my one class on it.
dpkendal 5 days ago 0 replies      
> Eb with 3 flats, for instance, is slightly (though not statistically significantly) more common than F with only 1 flat.

Ask any singer: F is the hardest key to sing in. Most people who have to sing in F unaccompanied will inevitably go flat over the course of the song without lots of practice.

I would have plotted the frequency of each chord relative to the key. (e.g., count chords as I/IV/V/ii/etc. instead of C/F/G/Dm) This automatically corrects for the relative popularity of different keys seen earlier in the post.

seefoma 5 days ago 0 replies      
While I think this sort of analysis is really cool and potentially interesting, there really isn't anything non-obvious in this article, assuming one is familiar with basic music theory. Hopefully this is part one and the more interesting material is being saved for later.
kevincennis 4 days ago 0 replies      
This was an interesting article, but it's really sad to see that the comments here have devolved into the predictable "all pop music is garbage because they only use 4 chords" argument. It's exactly the same thing as someone looking at a Jackson Pollock and determining that it's garbage because "how much talent does it take to throw a bucket of paint on a canvas?".

The point of music, or any art, is to evoke an emotive response from the audience. To equate the "quality" of art to the technical abilities of its creator is essentially to reduce it to something more akin to juggling knives or spinning plates. Art isn't about virtuosity, it's about emotion.

But hey, if that's your thing, there are a ton of Dream Theater records available on iTunes.

gbog 5 days ago 0 replies      
I have a pessimistic theory on melodies that could be enforced by this study. Melodies are sequence of tones that can be remembered and sung. We have 7 or 12 or 5 tones, about the same number of distinguishable time patterns. Memory for melodies seem powerful, maybe allowing up to 40 elements in the sequence.

By pure combinations it seems the space of melodies is very large. But this space is in fact dramatically shrinked by the very strict relationships imposed on subsequent tones and the result could be that "we have finished exploring the space of interesting melodies", we are deemed to repeat ourselves, musical invention is something of the past.

taylorbuley 5 days ago 2 replies      
I'd love to build this data into a neural network and see if I can come up with robosongs. It should be quite good at coming up with "What chord should come next?"
djahng 5 days ago 0 replies      
Yes, given that C major is the most popular key, it follows that C, F, and G are the most popular chords. That's called a I-IV-V chord progression, and is the basis for most blues, which rock (and subsequently pop) evolved out of.

Oh, and a G chord isn't any easier to play on a guitar than a C# chord.

splicer 5 days ago 0 replies      
One exception to the diatonic norm in pop music is Radiohead's "Just", which uses an octatonic scale: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-_qMagfZtv8

(ya, I consider Radiohead "pop music")

csl 4 days ago 0 replies      
On a related note (corniest pun of the day), the Australian musical comedy act Axis of Awesome made a song called Four Chords Song, which is basically a 47-song medley all using the same chord progression.


They've said that the chords are used by some of the most well known songs in the world, and their performance demonstrates this nicely, as in this clip:


The above link is the official video; but they explain their reasoning better in this live performance:


nileshtrivedi 5 days ago 1 reply      
Very interesting! Although, for most common chords chart, I think that instead of simply counting the number of times a chord appears, you should have also considered the duration of that chord in the song.

Didn't Pandora radio did the same analysis for its recommendation engine?

anigbrowl 5 days ago 0 replies      
I'm not crazy about this analysis, but the basic tool (http://www.hooktheory.com/) is pretty awesome. Props for including MIDI and sheet music exports.

Edit: signup gave me an error 500, though.

cpeterso 5 days ago 0 replies      
Flesh Map charts which body parts are most commonly referenced by musical genre:


batista 5 days ago 4 replies      
Hmm, one could also use a Markov chain on those 1300 chord progressions....
6ren 5 days ago 0 replies      
The app is pretty cool: http://www.hooktheory.com/analysis/view/celine-dion/my-heart... It animates the score for both "instrumental" and "youtube" sound.
jimmytucson 5 days ago 2 replies      
Probably more interesting than the actual notes would be the figured chords and their progressions.

In other words, "C G a F" isn't materially that different from "G D e C" or "F C d Bb". All three are instances of the same progression: "I V vi IV" ...which happens to be the most hackneyed (or "effective", depending on your point of view) chord progression in popular music over the last 30 years.

If you transform each chord progression into its figured representation then you can pick up more significant trends such as the above, or blues changes (e.g. "I I I I / VI VI I I / V VI I I") and then you can start to discern when they rose to popularity and which ones are falling out of favor.

For example, in the 50s and 60s, I have no doubt "I vi IV V" was more popular than "I V vi IV" but I have no way to prove it currently and would love to find out if I'm right or wrong on that.

mvkel 5 days ago 1 reply      
Could you combine this data to algorithmically create the "most common song ever made"?
jmilloy 4 days ago 0 replies      
The broad stats are cool, but I find that the value really comes from going back to the individual data points. For example, I want to hear the "most atypical" songs. Are they any good?
sirteno 5 days ago 0 replies      
I'd be interested to see if they observed patterns or deviations from the norm when comparing between music genres and perhaps even eras / decades.

My sense, as a classical and electric (contemporary rock / blues) guitarist is that you'd observe interesting deviations from the aggregate results described in the study.

Digging a bit I found the following research piece which shares some more thoughts on this topic:


wyck 5 days ago 0 replies      
Interesting but a melody analysis would be way more insightful.

Pop music is all about the simple melody, in terms of impacting a recognizable pattern on the brain. That is why it's popular, and you see the same melodies repeated over and over, and over, and over.

monsterix 5 days ago 0 replies      
Well it isn't hard to figure out chord progressions, modes and key of any song. If you wish to serve 90% of the crowd, who listen to pop music, simply "catch" C Am F G type of chord progressions. For balance, you can expose and iterate with more patterns and lead yourself up to Joe Satriani/Steve Vai's of the world.
davec 5 days ago 0 replies      
That's a good recommendation. I have a feeling it wouldn't change the results much for pop songs.

I know Pandora has done some analysis like this for their database, but I thought it was limited to things like major or minor tonality, upbeat tempo, etc. and didn't delve as much into the nitty gritty harmony. One reason for this might be that these patterns are so universal (spanning lots of genres), that it might not be too helpful for determining what types of music people like. I could be wrong about this though.

hessenwolf 4 days ago 0 replies      
Can we have a Markov chain diagram for the chord transition with the relevant probabilities, pretty please?
iambrakes 4 days ago 0 replies      
I like seeing this data charted out. For hardcore musicians, it's probably pretty common knowledge, but it's interesting to see it in chart form.

It actually makes we want to try writing some things avoiding the most common progressions to see what comes out.

With regards to other genres and other time periods, I think you'd find pretty similar data with what was "popular" at any given time. Although there have been composers who push the limits, and with some success, our brains seem to be hard wired to react well to the mathematical correlations that are present in the chord parings. On the other hand, perhaps the more exposed we become to varied chord progressions, the more pleasing they would sound.

There is a very interesting RadioLab episode exploring the rage that incited at the premiere of Stravinsky's "The Rite Of Spring". Essentially, scientists are learning how the brain reacts to dissonance in music. The story begins about 32 minutes in.


stretchwithme 5 days ago 0 replies      
Eventually, software will write music just for you. And lyrics too.
zwieback 5 days ago 0 replies      
a (vi) over d (ii) comes as a surprise to me. I notice a lot of jam players will substitute II or II7 for ii but I thought this work was based on tabs. I didn't think the relative minor was all that common in pop music.
sesimt 5 days ago 0 replies      
I was hoping he had found the "Carlos Santana Secret Chord Progressions". No such luck. Did he have Frank Zappa's "Shut and Play Yer Guitar" in his collection?

Melodies are mildly interesting. It's harmonics that are an endless source of mystery.

nateburke 4 days ago 0 replies      
I eagerly await an analysis using roman numerals. Most listeners don't care what particular key the song is in. What are the RELATIONSHIPS involved in the chord progressions?
sunspeck 5 days ago 0 replies      
This is awesome. Although I find the upside-down-and-backwards guitar chord diagrams rather jarring.
TYPE_FASTER 5 days ago 1 reply      
There's a great Youtube video of three guys playing many pop songs with the same three or four chords. I'm behind a firewall now or I would post the link.
someone_welsh 5 days ago 0 replies      
michaelfeathers 5 days ago 2 replies      
I wonder what the RIAA thinks of someone amassing a database of the chord patterns of 1300 popular songs.
hlomas 5 days ago 0 replies      
Why not add some more interesting visualizations of your data? Try http://d3js.org. For example http://bost.ocks.org/mike/sankey/ or http://mbostock.github.com/d3/talk/20111116/iris-parallel.ht... might be adapted to communicate which chords follow the others in a more dense fashion.
b1daly 5 days ago 0 replies      
This analysis misses the forest for the trees: modern pop music is all about stylistic and sonic innovation. Musical forms tend to evolve along certain parameters while holding others constant. In jazz and classic there has (historically) been a lot of exploration in harmony and melody, but the sonic palette has held steady over long periods of time. Pop music is the opposite.

In the world of rap music, the sonic innovation has been extreme. The meaning of a Public Enemey "song" cannot be assessed through this type of analysis.

indubitably 5 days ago 1 reply      
It's interesting how many comments here imply that more complex is better.
baddox 5 days ago 4 replies      
I find it hard to believe that D major wasn't one of the more common chords to follow and E minor.
AblyExitNewtons 4 days ago 0 replies      
btw: You can choose whichever chords you like in Garageband. Click the setup button (looks like a gear). Then flip from Track to Song. Scroll down and add some diminished 9ths or whatever.
Neal Stephenson wants to revolutionize sword fighting video games kickstarter.com
479 points by SoapSeller  8 days ago   183 comments top 42
antipax 8 days ago  replies      
Biggest problem with these games (I've found, anyway) is that your sword controller cannot magically stop in mid air when your virtual sword hits another sword or a wall or whatever. It really ruins the immersion.
daenz 8 days ago 3 replies      
Cameo by Gabe Newell http://i.imgur.com/6vDza.png, who is swordsmithing a crowbar :)

  Neal: "Hey is that about ready?"
Gabe: "These things, they take time..."

mbrubeck 8 days ago 1 reply      
"I'm the greatest sword fighter in the world."

"And you wrote the software."

"Yeah. That, too," Hiro says.

•Neal Stephenson, Snow Crash

psykotic 8 days ago 3 replies      
Anyone remember Die by the Sword? Admittedly it was more sword flailing than sword fighting, but it's the only game I've played that had a semblance of direct control. It was also the first game to use IK for everything from sword fighting to rope swinging and ladder climbing. Even nowadays it's rare to see IK used in games for anything except relatively minor pose fix-ups (blending canned poses offers better control, and IK fix-ups can then be applied on top to get perfect alignment for aiming, etc).
trevelyan 8 days ago 6 replies      
I don't mind putting a bit of cash towards projects where those involved really don't have the resources to pull it off otherwise, but does Neal Stephenson really not have enough cash to bootstrap this himself?
amelim 8 days ago 2 replies      
I'm surprised there was no mention of the Mount and Blade[1] series, which took a serious look at this sort of combat through the use of contextual mouse movements for parries and attacks. I wonder if he's unaware of the franchise, or just didn't feel the need to mention it.

I'm also not convinced that today's odometry based controllers will give you high enough fidelity to model swords convincingly. Any sort of wiimote or kinect based sword/lightsaber game has always seemed very waggle centric without any deliberate movement. Also, I'm not really thrilled about the thought of having to buy plastic swords to swing in my room.


dmoy 8 days ago 2 replies      
Real swordfighting is not about the sword, it's about the footwork. Just physically do not be where the opponent's sword is heading.

See: relatively little blade contact in extremely high level fencing.

brown9-2 8 days ago 1 reply      
As far as entertaining Kickstarter videos go, this one is certainly off to an auspicious start.
radical_cut 8 days ago 1 reply      
As someone who just finished reading Snow Crash today (great stuff btw, can't wait for another Stephenson's book) I'd be thrilled to see this and try it in action.

As someone who's been into martial arts for some time I'm very sceptic about this. There's a lot more to realistic fighting than just swinging and clashing swords: footwork, body movement, weight transfer...

Nevertheles, even if it won't turn out to be perfect it could stil be a lots of fun. I'll be watching their progress.

justinhj 8 days ago 0 replies      
I wish him luck. Various projects have come along with backing from people outside the video game industry with the goal of being more realistic, more revolutionary and so on. But it's a lot harder to make a playable fun game. Realism often isn't fun. Modern Warfare 3 is the culmination of 20 years of evolution from Wolfenstein, and still is nothing like being a real soldier.
eli 8 days ago 0 replies      
Oh man, I can't wait to yell "big board" to pull up the cheat mode screen.
nathan_long 8 days ago 1 reply      
One of the most interesting games I've ever played was Bushido Blade 2. The best thing about it was realistic vulnerability: get stabbed once and you die (or maybe lose use of an arm). The disappointment was made up for by lots of quick rounds.

I always thought it was silly to have games where you'd get shot 20 times and keep fighting exactly the same, just lose some of your energy meter, then suddenly flop over and die when it reached zero.

Cushman 8 days ago 0 replies      
I'm in from the headline alone.
mehulkar 8 days ago 0 replies      
I'm more of a minesweeper guy. Can they make a game that makes blowing up mines more realistic? How much would a Kickstarter campaign for that cost?
x1 8 days ago 2 replies      
He's been wanting this since the mid-90's - not downplaying or being snarky, just making a point. This reminds me of Hero in Snow Crash.
defen 8 days ago 1 reply      
I'm curious how they plan to implement actual medieval / early Renaissance combat tactics with a controller like the one in the video - how would you do half-swording or something like the Mordhau?

For people who aren't medieval geeks - half-sword is when you hold the sword halfway up the blade with your left hand, in order to deliver a more accurate, powerful thrust; perhaps after trapping your opponent's sword between your arm and body. Mordhau ("murder-strike") is when you invert the sword and use it as a mace. These things came about because swinging a sword into an armored opponent isn't actually going to do much to him.

It seems like the kind of combat you could simulate might potentially be fun, but wouldn't actually simulate a real fight from the period - not enough grappling / bashing.

magoghm 7 days ago 1 reply      
I'm amazed at how many HN readers have turned out to also be sword fighting experts! :)
alinajaf 8 days ago 0 replies      
As a former kendoka, this is a wet dream. I can finally put all that kata to good use!
fromhet 8 days ago 1 reply      
Why is it named clang? So very very confusing.


EternalFury 7 days ago 2 replies      
If you want to sword fight "realistically", go out, buy a sword and join a sword-fighting club.

Darn, why do people try to solve everything with technology when there is a simple solution in the physical world!?

No matter how they dice it or slice it (ah ah), it's not going to end up "realistic" for anyone who has used a sword before.

ww520 8 days ago 0 replies      
It's going to be difficult to get right. They seem to emphasize on the hand work, the swing, parry, thrust. Sword fighting is as much foot work as hand work, as I've learned in my fencing days way back. There are only a few hand actions, the lounge, parry/return, and indirect attack, on different zones, but the foot work is the major part of the game. Keeping and judging the distance is a tough skill. Close in suddenly, retreat and lounge, counter lounge, lounge and crouch, .etc. All these will be difficult to replicate in the game.

I wish them luck.

davidw 8 days ago 0 replies      
Thinking about comparative advantage, and being the selfish sort, I think I'd rather see him do something closer to home. I don't play video games, and even a Neal Stephenson game isn't going to change that, but I love his writing.
charlieok 7 days ago 0 replies      
Reminds me of that Incantor wand controller



Maybe you'd want a difference in heftiness of the controller, but a similar swinging/waving api?

10dpd 8 days ago 0 replies      
Ok. So a famous author decides to make a sword fighting video game. Awesome. But.... I feel from the video that what they are really trying to create is a sword fighting simulator. Big difference, playability is incredibly important, we're all familiar with 'arcade modes' where realism is suspended to create an engaging, fun game. So I'm wondering how successful this 'game' will actually be.
jakejake 7 days ago 0 replies      
I'm probably only moderately interested in the sword fighting game, but this is easily the most entertaining kick starter video I've seen so far.
mtgx 8 days ago 1 reply      
When the Wii appeared, sword games was the first thing that came to my mind, but I don't there have been too many of them on the Wii. I was also hoping we'd see some martial arts fighting (or training) games for the Kinect by now, although the Kinect needs to dramatically increase its accuracy for that.
eps 8 days ago 0 replies      
Don't know about a sword fighting game, but I would gladly part with $20 to see Snow Crash rewritten in the past tense :)
gklitt 8 days ago 0 replies      
Entertaining video, but the production value was so high that it made me wonder whether this project really needs my money...
jaredsohn 8 days ago 0 replies      
>in a much more intuitive way than pulling a plastic trigger or pounding a key on a keyboard

A bit unfair to make that comparison. At the very least, the Wii Motion Plus in games such as Sports Resort fencing offers a better experience than that.

mattdeboard 8 days ago 0 replies      
What are the technical challenges involved with building a high quality, low-latency bit of hardware? Even small lags in response are really annoying and kill enjoyment of the game for me.
chernevik 7 days ago 0 replies      
Everybody needs a hobby but I thought Reamde was Stephenson's break from revolutionizing historical / science fiction.
uzero 7 days ago 0 replies      
Clang getting some The Verge coverage http://www.theverge.com/2012/6/10/3076307/neal-stephenson-cl... - I hope these guys hit mainstream. I would love it if Neal could pull this off in a big way.
jrockway 7 days ago 0 replies      
I have to say; sword fighting is perhaps the least interesting subject I could imagine, but since it's Neil Stephenson, he can have my money. I also enjoyed the part where he threw the cookbook at Sir Dumbass.
sneak 8 days ago 1 reply      
I absolutely adore the video, but the video should CLEARLY explain what the money is going to be used for. There is no mention (only allusion) to hardware development in the video at all.

Also, it's not clear from the video if the game will be playable _without_ the special hardware...

Mizza 8 days ago 0 replies      
Loved the Gaben cameo!
kuahyeow 7 days ago 1 reply      
An update has just been posted, only for backers though. Anyone mind sharing?
Estragon 8 days ago 0 replies      
Video games? What happened to building the space needle with Google? :-)
arsey 8 days ago 1 reply      
If CLANG stood for something ridiculous then I'd be in.
DROELOEBOY 7 days ago 0 replies      
Rune! Was awesome. The way you could make your sword move with the mouse was amazing. Accuracy is what it is about. If this game could capture that feeling I am aboard.
cheatercheater 7 days ago 0 replies      
TLDR: In a parallel thread ( http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=4086805 ) multiple posters note how Pixar's 22 tips for storytelling apply to computer programming. Obviously AAPL took note, because Neal Stephenson is working on Clang now. The enterprise became the hot topic of yet another front-page thread ( http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=4090845 ). They soon might find this handy: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=4085318


sentiental 8 days ago 0 replies      
Gotta have that TFU
Civ II game a decade old reddit.com
458 points by jchrisa  5 days ago   133 comments top 18
jonnathanson 5 days ago  replies      
Fascinating, and wonderful to see others are out there who are weird like me, and who will actually attempt to extend Civilization games over extremely long periods. I have a Civ4 game that I've been playing for about 4 straight years now, and admittedly the file has gotten so big that it periodically taxes my system resources to their limits (Unfortunately, Civ4 suffers from poor memory management and is fairly leaky. Especially w/ mods).

The problem with Civ4 is that the AI is so hyper-aggressive that long-term stability is all but impossible, unless I become a dominant superpower and take on the role of "world police," intervening in every war of aggression on the side of the underdog. But after awhile, there's really no fun in that. So I have tried to cultivate a game in which a few superpowers are at least my equals, if not my superiors. Since I'm always going to war to defend whoever's about to get wiped out, unfortunately, I'm switching sides constantly, and diplomacy is basically out of the question. (None of the AI players will even return my calls, so to speak. We've all nuked each other so many times over that we won't even speak to each other now).

The other problem is that the AI fights total wars by default. It will never engage in a limited conflict. No, when it declares war, it won't cease until either it's beaten or it totally annihilates its enemy. It's like a Terminator. It becomes quickly apparent that the Nash Equilibrium in a game of Civ4 is one nation standing, while all others have ceased to exist. The game drives ineluctably toward this conclusion, unless the human player puts aside his own nation's interests in pursuit of global stability and game longevity. (And, ironically, being the sole force for stability renders him a political pariah among all the other nations). It's sort of like trying to play one sport, when all the other players in the game have been programmed to play another.

Sometimes I wish the AI were more sophisticated, and/or that it could be incentivized to prefer economic growth and interests over nonstop warmaking. Or that one possible victory condition in a game of Civilization would be to maximize a global human development index of some kind (i.e., "Global Victory," instead of just one nation's domination of all others by X or Y measure, or else its complete extirpation of all other peoples on the planet). I realize that's not the game that 99.99% of Civ players want to play, but it's refreshing to hear that I'm not the only one.

CharlieA 5 days ago  replies      
The 3-way division of the world into "super-continents" and the constant war keeping the populace in a perpetual state of starvation and poverty, with the entire world in disrepair is so incredibly reminiscent of Orwell's 1984 it's scary.

If you haven't read 1984, it's a startlingly bleak view of a potential future (from a historical perspective, but still applicable today, I think) particularly through technology and a loss of privacy. It's the origin of terms like "big brother" and "doublethink" -- worth a read.

One of the most interesting excerpts from this piece IMO: "I wanted to stay a democracy, but the Senate would always over-rule me when I wanted to declare war... ...Anyway, I was forced to do away with democracy roughly a thousand years ago because it was endangering my empire."

Although I don't necessarily think it will be because of war, I can see a potential future where people/persons decide democracy is a less effective system because it's holding back the decision making process -- democratic process being (more or less) committee-based decision making, which proxies votes through individuals based on what is essentially a popularity contest. That's particularly true here in Australia at the moment (amidst a minority government with a lot of political sniping on both sides and seemingly very little real progress) despite the fact that we have a comparatively strong economy, low inflation, low unemployment and generally nothing really significant (again, comparatively) to complain about.

jcurbo 5 days ago 1 reply      
To be clear, this is a guy that has been playing a single game of Civ II for 10 years. When I first saw this I thought, isn't Civ II older than 10 years? (came out in 1996)

I love Civ and still go back and play Civ II at times. I spent a lot of time with Civ III and IV as well (and a little with V), but it's nice to go back to my first experience with the genre (Civ 1 was before my time, sadly).

doktrin 5 days ago 2 replies      
This was interesting as a simulation cum case study, but rather miserable as far as gaming goes.

There is no way a game of Civ II isn't eminently beatable - militarily or otherwise.

For one thing, there's no excuse to not operate as a Fundamentalism (0 population unrest) late game. Virtually all other forms of government, particularly Democracy, are an annoying cavalcade of civil unrest late game.

I enjoyed the read. It really brought me back in time to playing this game with fervent addiction in middle school.

Paul_S 5 days ago 1 reply      
If you disable the space race as a winning condition the chance of a nuclear holocaust over time approaches 1.

I'm not saying there are any lessons to be had from it. It's only a game.

danso 5 days ago 2 replies      
I love Civ 2, but how is it that the OP can't win against two AIs? They weren't geniuses, AFAIK. And though the AI was vicious early on, it never seemed competent at the end. And even if it were, it's hard to imagine that the AI could adapt to a focused, determined attack by a human player (taking one city at a time).
orbitingpluto 5 days ago 1 reply      
This post illustrates why turn based games rule for richness and complexity. There is nothing so satisfying as finding stable points in gameplay.

This one Reddit post will probably waste thousands of what could be productive hours... I am sorely tempted to play Civ3 or GalCivII:TotA today.

Tycho 5 days ago 0 replies      
I can remember my Civ II campaigns in more detail than I can recall about actual historic events.
Andytizer 5 days ago 0 replies      
For those who are revisiting Civilization II after so many years (or playing it for the very first time), remember to visit this page of bugs, fixes and workarounds for getting it working on modern operating systems: http://pcgamingwiki.com/wiki/Civilization_II - if you discover a new fix, please add it in (no account required).
Tichy 5 days ago 5 replies      
Is it possible to run a completely automated Civ game (all players computer players)? Should be a quicker way to simulate the future. Perhaps the AI could learn "War Games" style that nuclear war is not the way to go...

Or maybe it would be a depressing result if the AIs would not nuke around without a human in the mix?

radical_cut 5 days ago 2 replies      
Well that gave me goosebumps. Bleak future indeed, I immediately thought of the Doomsday Clock.

I like the idea of a new subreddit spawned by this: http://www.reddit.com/r/theeternalwar.
It could be interresting to see if anybody finds a way to save the world from hell.

Maybe it's time to relive good old memories of times spend with old Civ games. :)

Toenex 5 days ago 1 reply      
I'm not suggesting that civ is anyway up to the task but in all seriousness does any government systematically simulate policy decisions? I can't even remember a UK policy decision that even acknowledge the possibility it might not be a complete success let alone suggested criteria by which it should be ultimately evaluated.
rangibaby 5 days ago 0 replies      
I really enjoyed Civ2; even once you've figured out how to game the AI (it's predictable hostility and cheating are actually it's biggest weaknesses), there are still challenges, such as limiting yourself to one city (!) or finishing before a certain year.

Just one thing set off my pedant alarm: Civ2 didn't come out until 1996. I still remember getting the collector's box with the huge strategy guide ;-)

renegadedev 5 days ago 3 replies      
We look ahead at 3991 AD and find it to be depressing. I've always wondered how past civilizations (Greeks, Egyptians, etc) would find our modern day civilization.
radical_cut 4 days ago 0 replies      
In case anybody else is interested, here's a post with link to the save file:

Time to fire up Civ II and try to save the world!

vog 4 days ago 0 replies      
I'd love to see a similar report about a long-played FreeCiv game. (http://freeciv.org)
fts89 4 days ago 0 replies      
My plan to defeat the other armies is:
1. Get the game: http://www.amazon.com/Sid-Meiers-Civilization-II-Pc/dp/B0000...
2. Defeat the other armies
sid05 5 days ago 1 reply      
I'm not familiar with Civilization resources so how would it be possible to perpetually build Nukes ? Wouldn't there be an energy cap or is there some sort of tech to cotinually generate the needed resources.
How a Mexican Drug Cartel Makes Its Billions nytimes.com
434 points by jlees  2 days ago   223 comments top 25
guelo 2 days ago  replies      
The only way to stop these large criminal enterprises is to legalize the stuff. Just like alcohol prohibition created some of the most notorious American criminals, South American drug prohibitions produce powerful criminals down there. There isn't any large crime related to South American cocoa or coffee imports. Legalize it and then spend money and make laws regulating consumption, it would greatly reduce the misery in our corner of the world.
danso 2 days ago 2 replies      
> Michael Braun, the former chief of operations for the D.E.A., told me a story about the construction of a high-tech fence along a stretch of border in Arizona.

>“They erect this fence,” he said, “only to go out there a few days later and discover that these guys have a catapult, and they're flinging hundred-pound bales of marijuana over to the other side.” He paused and looked at me for a second. “A catapult,” he repeated. “We've got the best fence money can buy, and they counter us with a 2,500-year-old technology.”

revelation 2 days ago 1 reply      
This is a 101 on capitalism. Raw capitalism, where killing someone is cheaper than settling on a solution that works for everyone. One where power amasses. But most importantly: where all actors are innovating. You can be amazed at crudely built submarines and private cell relay stations but really its just market pressure at work.

Which brings us back to the obvious conclusion: prohibition doesn't work; the market will find its way. It doesn't need intricate portraits like this one to make that clear.

startupfounder 2 days ago 3 replies      
Joaquín Archivaldo Guzmán Loera is a true hacker, he continually breaks into the most secure country in the world by exploiting it's weaknesses.

"The cartel makes sandbag bridges to ford the Colorado River and sends buggies loaded with weed bouncing over the Imperial Sand Dunes into California."

Because of this, even when he is caught and send to a maximum security prison he is able to organize an escape by hacking the prison system.

"...[Joaquín Archivaldo Guzmán Loera] was transferred to the Puente Grande maximum security prison in Jalisco...Guzmán carefully masterminded his escape plan, wielding influence over almost everyone in the prison... The escape allegedly cost Joaquín $2.5 million... According to officials, 78 people have been implicated in his escape plan." - Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joaqu%C3%ADn_Guzm%C3%A1n_Loera)

adventureful 2 days ago 0 replies      
It's disheartening to see the intense division on this subject on Hacker News. It leads me to believe the issue gridlock will continue, and the only plausible solution (legalization) will continue to be a fantasy. And as a consequence millions will continue to be jailed, tens of thousands will continue to die and the cartels will continue to grow stronger.

Small prediction: the US Government won't legalize drug use and production until the cartels are so powerful the Feds can no longer even partially contain the drug trade. Within a decade the cartels will be powerful enough to directly threaten the US President. I think that'll just about do the trick.

abruzzi 2 days ago 3 replies      
Also impressed that the cartel smuggles cocaine on 747s that they own. That's a large operation.
its_so_on 13 hours ago 0 replies      
I don't like the way the author glibly compares his subject with startups like Facebook and Netflix and seemingly seriously uses real notions of economics such as 'cartel' and 'capital-intensive'. ("Sinaloa is both diversified and vertically integrated, producing and exporting marijuana, heroin and methamphetamine as well. ") It's frankly disgusting.

Of course economics is the study of how people behave with money and resources. You can make these comparisons - just as you can study the economics of lynchings and torture by slaveowners to assert ownership over their property, the practices of the East Indian Company, or the (taking out touchy subject - think of warmongering; not saying such a thing exists). But please don't do it "straight" or without any irony. This isn't economics. This is death and murder (or war etc).

The economics is important. But it's not the economics that keeps me - or the Coca Cola company or your uncle Jack - from arming up with an uzi and "diversifying" into this "sector". Have some decency.

jboggan 2 days ago 3 replies      
I'd be really curious to know what their IT department looks like.
alexqgb 2 days ago 0 replies      
There's a direct correlation between misery and drug use, as well as a direct correlation between misery and high levels of social inequality.

People who agonize between the dangers of prohibition vs. the dangers of legalization (or even decriminalization) are doing so in the context of a highly unjust society that offers virtually no social mobility, no access to the courts for anyone who isn't fantastically rich, no prospect for wage growth for anyone who isn't already in the top 10%, no job security for anyone not worth putting under contract (i.e. nearly everyone), and the terrifying prospect of loosing access to the health care system in the event of a job loss - all of which imposes tremendous levels of anxiety and insecurity for the vast majority of its members.

In spite of all this, we're still rich enough for most people to have some disposable income. Add that to the conditions under which most people live, and it's no wonder that the US is, per capita, a tremendously big consumer of drugs.

Given this environment, either option will have predictably bad results. But a society that was far less friendly to the winner-take-all ethos, and more concerned with basic health and economic security for a large middle-class population would find that drug coming down to much more manageable levels, making the decriminalization route a much more attractive option.

Futurebot 1 day ago 0 replies      
I believe that in order to fix drug policy, we need to think about the issue a completely different way. The main issue is the basic one of sovereignty of the self; the ability to do whatever you want with your own body without imposing costs on others. It's the very same idea underpinning the legalization of suicide. It's bigger than this, but that's for another post. The short version is that all laws should be guided, first and foremost, by the harm principle.

Keep in mind the one thing that is paramount with applying the harm principle: /without imposing costs on others/.

So what we should do is make smoking anything where others can inhale it without consent illegal and legalize everything else-whether snorted, injected, swallowed or absorbed of all drugs. The only places you should be allowed to smoke are designated private smoking facilities with air filtration systems or your own home if you install an air filtration system yourself. I cannot refuse or consent to inhaling smoke (and where I live, it's a constant assault on your respiratory system. If the people using it ate, snorted, or injected it, there would be no problem). Otherwise, just legalize and regulate; you should have to go through a process to determine whether you're fit to use certain types of drugs, sign consent forms, and agree that any costs incurred due to potential addiction are your own and will not be borne by the state (including things like alcohol - nothing would be exempt from the basic health indemnification. Addiction programs would be covered, though.) If you agree, you're sold drugs by state-chartered companies that are tightly regulated, including pricing, to eliminate the black market. If you use them for medical purposes, you'd be able to bypass the process with a prescription (subject to the same regulations about methods of use.)

We should also deign to move hardcore addicts into treatment programs, or, in the case of those who are incorrigible, to long-term "use and protection" facilities. Finally, we should have designated locations with medical personnel, security, and addiction counselors where addicts could use drugs without fear of personal harm and without being public nuisances.

With a harm reduction-based system, the entire apparatus surrounding the drug war crumbles. The income of smugglers and dealers disappears. The need for most costly state organizations to fight it goes away. The violence largely disappears (what's the nominal level of violence surrounding nicotine and alcohol?) Regarding DEA funding. Under the system I outlined, this agency would actually get useful: to crack down on and prosecute black market (for those who want to go around the screening process) drug smugglers, importers/exporters, and sellers to the full extent of the law.

People are going to do drugs no matter what we do, so we should be talking about methods of use and harm reduction, not just "substances." Don't "legalize pot" or the like; protect sovereignty of the self, and reduce harm to individuals and society.


Is a full drug legalization policy feasible everywhere? In every country? I would have to give that an unqualified no. In order for a system like this to be feasible, many things are needed.

- A working system of justice that is generally trusted by the populace.

- A largely transparent system of governance.

- A government, justice system, and law enforcement personnel that are perceived to be (and actually are) to be largely free of corruption.

- A strong state that can actually enforce edicts against black market suppliers.

- A strong state, stable state that would be difficult to overthrow.

- A culture that truly accepts harm reduction, and does not simply regard using it as "defeat" or "moral midgetry"
Most developed countries fit, or could fit this bill. There are places, however, that are so plagued by corruption, are already so violent, are so unstable, or are already basically run by drug organizations that legalizing drugs would be like legalizing murder (Mexico fits this definition, unfortunately. It appears to already be near to a full-fledged narco-state.) It's already the rule, and would basically have no effect except to make these drug organizations laugh. In those places, some of which are bordering on failed states (or successful narco-states) cannot be fixed in this way. Those places need to re-establish order, trust, and strong states. They should not be thought of as drug wars, however. They should be thought of more like "reclamation missions." Criminal organizations have gotten so powerful, that they are often their own nations inside of existing states, and those states need to "reclaim" their territory and power from said organizations. Those situations are far beyond the drugs. They're fundamentally about power.

Moving beyond today's current drug-related battles, we need to ask another question: why, in the face of so much effort to combat it, do so many people still want to use recreational drugs? 1) To escape crushing poverty, despair, depression. For these, only addressing the root causes are going to get us anywhere. Economic opportunities, physical security, better social safety nets, better mental health services, etc. 2) Pure enjoyment. For this, developing largely non-addictive, side-effect-free, cheap, legal alternatives to current recreational drugs. This could be anything from better drugs to computer-neural interfaces that allow more pleasurable/realistic experiences.

Osiris 2 days ago 0 replies      
Laws could punish behavior that affects other people rather than behavior that does not.

With alcohol, it is legal but certain actions that involve alcohol are not, like driving. So, driving while high would be illegal and there would still penalities for committing other crimes while using drugs, but casual use that affects only oneself would not be illegal.

However, there may be other consequences to actions like higher medical premiums or getting fired from a job for misuse, etc.

To me, laws should be designed to protect people from other members of society, not to protect people from themselves. Breaking someone else's things is illegal, but breaking your things is not.

fkn 2 days ago 6 replies      
I'd be interested in knowing how they were able to buy Boeing 747s. Those are huge transactions, you can't simply buy planes with cash.

I would assume that it would be through shell companies, but wouldn't (or shouldn't) Boeing be careful about who their customers are?

praptak 2 days ago 1 reply      
I admit that I (in a way) root for those guys. If they can move around such quantities of physical illegal stuff then we can be sure we can move around any strings of bits we choose to.
joejohnson 2 days ago 1 reply      
I wonder is Ignacio "Nacho" Coronel is the basis for Gustavo on Breaking Bad.
mcantelon 2 days ago 0 replies      
"The Sinaloa is occasionally called the Federation because senior figures and their subsidiaries operate semiautonomously while still employing a common smuggling apparatus. ... To reduce the likelihood of clashes [between competing interests], the cartel has revived an unlikely custom: the ancient art of dynastic marriage. ... An associate may be less likely to cheat you, or to murder you, if there'll be hell to pay with his wife."
antimora 2 days ago 1 reply      
“A catapult,” he repeated. “We've got the best fence money can buy, and they counter us with a 2,500-year-old technology.”
nfriedly 2 days ago 0 replies      
I wonder if we could find a way of making these drugs less "popular", similar to how we've done with smoking. That might require legalizing them, so I'm not sure it would actually reduce consumption. But it would hurt the cartels either way.
GoliMaster 2 days ago 0 replies      
I've found this article to be 100 times as effective when listening to this as I read it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4-wtJuqyKko
patrickgzill 2 days ago 0 replies      
Opium Wars - there is at least 1 President who had connections in some way or another to this earlier form of the drug trade.

FDR (via his maternal grandfather Warren Delano).

There are others who also became President, (starts with a B) who are alleged to have been heavily involved while in a secretive government position.

dreamdu5t 2 days ago 0 replies      
Preaching to the converted.

What's the point of these articles if they have no impact on legislation or the national conversation?

blhack 2 days ago 0 replies      
If you guys have interest in this topic, this is a good blog to watch:


AlexDanger 22 hours ago 0 replies      
Can anyone recommend a good book/author detailing the history of these cartels?
user49598 2 days ago 0 replies      
Here's a link to story on the Wisconsin hunter that stumbled upon a marijuana farm operation on public land.


alan_cx 2 days ago 2 replies      
Why does government follow policies that make drugs so incredibly profitable?
user49598 2 days ago 0 replies      
Whats the easiest way to stop people from breaking the law? Change the law.
Why Privacy Matters Even if You Have 'Nothing to Hide' chronicle.com
397 points by mtgx  4 days ago   147 comments top 49
ctdonath 4 days ago  replies      
In this much-discussed subject, I'm surprised that two huge points never arise:

1. The "if you have nothing to hide..." line is predicated on the viewer having final say about whether something is right/wrong, thus subordinating the subject to the viewer. This is repulsive to the notion of liberty as protected by the American "4th Amendment" right of freedom from governmental inspection without an adjudicated warrant. To wit: it's not that I have something to hide, it's that someone else is going to be obnoxious if they see it.

On a related but semantically distinct note...

2. Those pushing "if you have nothing to hide..." have suspect & ulterior motives. Their existence (income, job, power, prestige) depend on finding something "wrong". They are, by job description, hostile to me. If they derived nothing from inspecting others, they would not care whether anything was hidden or not. Remember: they seek the power to punish, not just what they find wrong, but what they cannot inspect. Your exposure nets you little, but gains them so much they want to reprimand you for any concealment.

jgrahamc 4 days ago 8 replies      
In the 1920s being Jewish in Germany was perfectly legal. Not long after it was not.

That's the only example I need to convince me that the government does not need to know everything about who am I and what I do and what I think.

mduerksen 4 days ago 2 replies      
If someone knows something about you, he gains power over you.

This is the most fundamental reason I have seen yet, reflected (often unconsciously) in our daily lives: We have curtains, we talk in private, we have secrets we only tell to those we trust, have company confidentials, discretion, spokesmen, and don't negotiate our salaries in public.

Why? Because we instinctively try to minimize those who might take advantage over us.

Knowledge can be exploited in so many ways that it is very hard to tell if a certain piece of information is harmless or not. If you're at the mercy of someone else, depending on him not to exploit his knowledge over you, you lose freedom.

Most people at least feel this and therefore - in their social interactions - act accordingly.
Interestingly, as soon at no human face is involved, my observation is that these instincts break down. I believe that's the core issue today, where most information isn't collected by some creepy stalker, but by web services, governments and card readers. They seem so detached from a real (potentially threatening) person, that our deeply engrained secrecy patterns fail us.

csmeder 4 days ago 1 reply      
I am surprised that this subject is so hard to grasp. The core of this issue is not about privacy. The core issue is about giving a small group too much power.

Giving one organization too much power in a society is bad for long term health of that society. If you want your children to grow up in a healthy society it's on your shoulders to fight laws that give organizations too much power.

By giving the government unlimited access to our privacy it gives the government great amounts of power.

Historically when an organization (such as a governments, FBI (J. Edgar Hoover), Churches, etc) have been given large amounts of power it has quickly lead to a spiral of corruption and destruction of morality and societal values.

If some one tells you:

   "If you've got nothing to hide, you've got nothing to fear."

Tell them:

   "I want you to sign over all of your assets to 
a government official of my choice. If you
trust the government, you've got nothing to fear."

The "If you've got nothing to hide, you've got nothing to fear." statement is analogous to a lover, locking a bomb to your neck and telling you "If you don't plan on hurting me, then you have nothing to fear". The desire for this kind of power over some one is clinically insane. The desire to have this kind of power over our citizens by politicians is just as clinically insane. It will destroy our society.

jgroome 4 days ago 4 replies      
I don't like to pick apart articles on a sentence-by-sentence basis, but I have to take issue with this bit:

>In Britain, for example, the government has installed millions of public-surveillance cameras in cities and towns, which are watched by officials via closed-circuit television.

"The government"? Very tricksy linguistic sleight of hand makes us sound like an police-state-controlled surveillance society with no privacy and a tyrannical government.

What rot. By far the vast majority of CCTV in the country is owned and operated by private companies on their own private property. This is a huge difference.

>In a campaign slogan for the program, the government declares: "If you've got nothing to hide, you've got nothing to fear."

Come on now. That's almost cartoonish levels of sloppy writing. No such slogan has ever been used by either our government, or, as far as I know, any organisation concerned with security.

philbarr 4 days ago 0 replies      
I think the simplest argument against people who propose "nothing to hide" is to say, "I have nothing to hide, I just don't trust those morons to keep my data safe and secure."

I used to work in the education sector, and we had access to "anonymised" data. I was able to determine my own National Insurance number using only my address as I'd done an HND a few years before. Basically, anonymising meant removing the first and last name fields only! This was working for a private sector firm that was given the data by the government. I was also on only £10k/year and so presumably a vulnerable target for corruption. And this wasn't even one of the more "secure" datasets we had access to.

How many others are there like me out there with access to your data?

joshuahedlund 4 days ago 1 reply      
It's really very simple. I'm not doing anything "wrong," but I cannot guarantee that my definition of "wrong" is the same as the government's.

Recently I've come across an argument that I think helps reveal the problems to those who are not prone to see them: if you have nothing to hide, would you give a copy of your house key to the police to check on your house whenever they want?

Suddenly everything becomes obvious: the cost of inconvenience (what if I'm asleep?), the cost of potential corruption or incompetence (what if they lose the key?), the cost of potential misinterpretation, etc...

jamesu 4 days ago 1 reply      
Once i spent a week researching Lotteries on google. Days after, i was getting an almost constant stream of ads for the National Lottery. If anyone were to have used my computer during that time, they might have been puzzled by this and though "Whoah! Is this guy a gambling addict?".

Just imagine if i was researching something slightly more taboo. Someone could easily jump to the wrong conclusions.

I might have nothing to hide, but it certainly isn't right that my information is being used to generate a potentially scandalous false picture of what i might be looking for.

brown9-2 4 days ago 0 replies      
I've always thought the simplest retort to this argument came from Bruce Schneier:

Privacy is important because without it, surveillance information will be abused: to peep, to sell to marketers and to spy on political enemies -- whoever they happen to be at the time.

Privacy protects us from abuses by those in power, even if we're doing nothing wrong at the time of surveillance.


joshcrews 4 days ago 0 replies      
On the lack of dead bodies from privacy intrusions; they are there.

Ukrainian peasants were deported and killed for having more property that their neighbor: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dekulakization
14.5 million dead

Central and Eastern European Jews first had their privacy violated before their jobs taken, moved to ghettos then to concentration camps. Imagine having a German last name but a Jewish grandmother, privacy matters. Or imagine if Germany did not have a handgun registry-- then its harder to confiscate guns from Jews, which makes its much more dangerous to herd them into camps.

Privacy loss ends in dead bodies-- but only after its too late to regain.

tokenizer 4 days ago 3 replies      
Personally, my fears are not about any current laws, but laws that might be created. I'd much rather for our society to respect privacy in these matters, especially if we have the potential to create laws I'd disagree with.

Also, if people have nothing to hide, let me access their computers for an evening, and also let me send any "proof" of breaking "stupid laws", like watching a dvd on their computer, or accessing a file with unwarranted DMCA takedown notice out for it. There's a lot of potential for innocent people going to jail in a video taped society.

kmfrk 4 days ago 0 replies      
'I've Got Nothing to Hide' and Other Misunderstandings of Privacy: http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=0998565

Has a download link in it to the 28-page essay. Compared to this really turgid article by the same author, the essay is really engrossing. Incidentally, I just finished reading it a few days ago on a privacy paper binge, and I also recommend

Broken Promises of Privacy: Responding to the Surprising Failure of Anonymization: http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/Papers.cfm?abstract_id=1450006

which is an even better paper, although it clocks in at 77 pages. Also free.

Some fun findings:

1. The combination of ZIP code, birth date (including year), and sex is unique to 87 per cent of Americans. Cross-reference this with voter data, and you're busted.

2. The information of how and when you rated any three movies on Netflix can identify more than 80 per cent of its users (68% for two movies). Cross-reference this with IMDb database, and you're busted.

It's scary as hell to learn that privacy is an even harder problem to solve, as someone who cares deeply about it. The key take-away from the latter paper is that privacy and utility are mutually exclusive - you can't "anonymize" data. The second is that we have to rethink our concept of personal identifiable information, because everything can be used to whittle down the candidates to a unique person with the right information.

We are so far from implementing useful privacy measures legally and practically that it's ridiculous. We are being embarrassingly myopic by only turning our attention to social networks, when there are privacy vulnerabilities everywhere.

Unless it's biometric data that we can relate to our own body - retina, fingerprint, facial features, DNA, etc. - , there is some psychological mechanism that makes us less averse and sensitive to the collection of data about us. Compare how you feel about the police storing DNA and fingerprints of acquitted suspects to how the NSA is trying to basically data-mine the entire communication infrastructure. That is, when careless companies or witless users don't just hand the information to them directly.

For people who care as much as privacy, as people in technology circles do, we have a really bad habit of focusing our attention narrowly at mainly what Silicon Valley does. But consider the value of something as simple as your zip code, birth date, and sex, and how many sites you might hand out that information to - the last information of which can usually be inferred by the service or commodity you buy, or your name.

law 4 days ago 0 replies      
It bothers me when people equate the right of privacy (i.e. the right to be let alone) with a perceived right of seclusion (i.e. a perceived right to not be seen/heard/disturbed by others). The disconcerting reality is that privacy is far more encompassing.

Privacy isn't just about freedom from unwanted attention. It's about your right to remain free of unwanted intrusions in your life. Privacy law protects a woman's choice to terminate an unwanted pregnancy, a homosexual male's choice to privately engage in sodomy with the consent of another, and a heterosexual couple's choice concerning the use of contraception for non-procreative sex. Privacy also protects your right to refuse medical attention for yourself and, in some jurisdictions, on behalf of your minor children. It additionally applies to a family's choices in rearing their children: the right to privacy protects a family's choice of religion, meals to eat, whether to participate in religion, etc.

When people claim that they don't mind putatively invidious legislation because they have "nothing to hide," they are doing an enormous disservice to privacy law. They might as well say: "We don't mind the government acting as our (family's) autopilot."

msg 4 days ago 0 replies      
Because our interests are not aligned.

Because you have to earn intimacy.

Because my sharing is not reciprocated.

Because I don't trust you.

luriel 4 days ago 0 replies      
A somewhat related video that often gets posted, but is worth posting again: Why you should never talk to the police (even if you have nothing to hide!):


It includes some stories that illustrate why information about you, even when you have done nothing wrong, can be used against you by authorities, even purely by mistake not accounting to any corruption/bias/pressure-to-catch/punish-somebody, etc.

jusben1369 4 days ago 0 replies      
That was a torturous, long winded, poorly written article. The author identified early that the retort "If you have nothing to hide you have nothing to fear" was a powerful one. He then reinforced the power of that retort by struggling to rebuke it in this article.
drderidder 4 days ago 1 reply      
Privacy and democracy are inseparable. http://51elliot.blogspot.ca/2008/07/your-privacy-is-your-fre...

"If your private thoughts were broadcast on a television screen above your head for everyone to see, its fair to say we'd all be more careful what we thought about. We would be forced to practice thought control to give others a good impression. Mental self-discipline is great, but this imaginary scenario illustrates a critical point: the absence of privacy has the ability to influence.

Moreover, the one who usurps privacy is the one who wields that influence. And such control at the cost of privacy is the opposite of freedom. Democracy and freedom are upheld by the individual's right to form thought and opinion and to communicate within the haven of privacy."

drcube 4 days ago 0 replies      
Why are there trade secrets? Why is there classified information? Why is there encryption? Why are there door locks and window blinds and fences? What was the big deal about Wikileaks if you have nothing to hide?

If the US government or some MegaCorp wants to dump all of their correspondence and data, decrypted, onto the internet for my perusal, and unlock all the doors, safes, fences and windows on their buildings, then I might consider opening up my personal life to them as well.

jusben1369 4 days ago 1 reply      
What I find most interesting is that few people question why privacy is so important? Children have no sense of it - they have to be socialized to begin to value it. Many smaller societies have no sense of it. Yet a small child and someone from these societies understands immediately if you restrict their ability to move (and thus "freedom") I'm not sure privacy isn't just an extension of shamed based cultural values vs a universal human right like freedom of movement and thought.
ktizo 4 days ago 0 replies      
The 'nothing to hide' arguments almost always seem to focus on the individual, but the full power of mass surveillance is not really about the control of specific individuals, but rather about control of the group. Just as in the measurement of temperature, where the motion of individual atoms is unimportant compared to the average, so the information gathered about single people is unimportant compared to the ability to accurately measure the group. If you want to hunt down single actors you do not need cameras everywhere, you just need to infiltrate their social circle. But to influence entire societies and to learn how to steer them is something that requires a ton of hard data on as wide a range of people as possible. Kafka's The Trial might be the perceived effect on the individual, but Asimov's Foundation series would seem the ultimate political aim of these kind of policies.
lnanek2 4 days ago 0 replies      
None of his retorts really do much for me. I'm fine with people seeing me naked, seeing my credit bills, querying about relationships, etc.. I do have curtains, but it is just so the neighbors don't get pissed their kids see me walking around naked when it's hot.

There is one thing that convinces me, though. I see lots of companies with data just completely misinterpreting it and screwing people over all the time. For instance, I can open a bunch of tabs in Google Groups from Google Reader with the intent to read them later, and get banned by Google Groups because Google decided in their all knowing wisdom that anyone opening tabs that quick must by a bot who has to be banned. Similarly you see AdSense and PayPal accounts banned all the time when the person is actually innocent.

These draconian policies may be good for the company (since it makes sure the actual fraudsters are banned too) and bad for the innocents caught in the way, but as an innocent who can be caught in the way, it makes sense to give them as little data to make up imagined offenses with as possible. Having Google ban innocents all the time is one thing, but we can't really let the government get away with that. That's what the whole innocent until proven guilty business is about and the show me the corpse/evidence and trial by jury things came about because of.

harryf 4 days ago 0 replies      
To me it's seems the real problem we're having with privacy today is there's nothing protecting our privacy beyond a thin layer of legislation. The best real solution I've come across is providing individuals with apps and services that generate fake data about you, masking your real behavior. For example your photo gets tagged at some bar. In response you have a tool able to tag you in 30 other photos supposedly taken at the same time but in different settings.
jfoutz 4 days ago 0 replies      
It depends heavily on the type of information, and how secret it is.

I'd be thrilled to have access to a complete real time data of every financial transaction.

Imagine looking at any object around you, and being able to tell how much each component cost, the source of the component, and the company info that transformed the parts into an object, recursively all the way down to dust.

That would be amazing. Even more, that would be enough for me want to make my financial info public to the world, rather than just credit card companies, and everyone that buys that data from them.

evincarofautumn 4 days ago 0 replies      
I'm honest, and not a huge fan of clothing, so I ostensibly do have nothing to hide. But there is a difference between being an open book and letting anyone read you at any time for any reason. If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear"if and only if no one will abuse your information. Not to mention people just like privacy, and it's a basic right.

If someone were to walk in on me having sex, I might be a bit embarrassed, but not unduly bothered. If a voyeur were to surreptitiously watch me, that'd be a breach of privacy. It's about who's consuming the information, not who's producing it.

sharagoz 4 days ago 1 reply      
The problem I have with the "nothing to hide" argument is that it is aimed at secrecy and hence invalid. The issue is never about secrecy, it's about privacy, and that's a huge huge difference.
"I dont need privacy because I have nothing to hide" doesn't make much sense.

I have long looked for a more crystal clear way of formulating the importance of privacy and why it's different from having something to hide.

rytis 4 days ago 0 replies      
And how is this mass surveilance in US/UK/other "free and democratic" countries different from what was happening in USSR way back? Western propoganda was all over it, but I suspect that it was just a way to hide the real threat (own government). Since USSR ceased to exist few attempts have been made to invent a new threat, but that worked only partially...

The reality is, try as we might, there is no way to regain full privacy. Ever.

wizzard 4 days ago 0 replies      
It seems like whenever people say this they are only considering wiretapping or similar invasions that don't cause them any personal inconvenience. They're not thinking about the TSA, personal searches, searches of their property, confiscation of their property for further investigation, etc.

My response is something like "so you'd be fine with a random mandatory search of your house twice a year, that takes 12 hours, during which all your electronic devices will be confiscated for two weeks of processing?" They'll say "no, that doesn't happen." But it will with their attitude.

mgunes 4 days ago 0 replies      
The author's original essay from San Diego Law Review (2007):


firefoxman1 4 days ago 0 replies      
The "nothing to hide" argument seems to work just like the "God moves in mysterious ways" argument. It's sort of an end-of-the-road conversation-stopper. It's hard to reply to it, therefore the party who said it gets to feel like they're right.
ameasure 3 days ago 0 replies      
Forgive me for kicking the hornet's nest, but is all this outrage about privacy or about the abuse of government power?

The focus of the article and most of the comments here suggests it's government power. There's hardly a peep about the fact that credit card companies have giant databases filled with information about everything you've ever purchased, which they gladly sell to anyone, that retailers like Target know your daughter is pregnant before you do, or that Google knows so much about your personal emails that you get ads from 1-800-flowers while reading an email about a friend passing away.

Many of the comments here seem to treat privacy as some pure moral good, some innate human right. If that's the case, shouldn't government officials have complete privacy, after all, they're human aren't they? Shouldn't they be allowed to take unlimited amounts of money from unknown people without anyone knowing? Shouldn't they be allowed to make secret laws that are kept private? What about your employees and your co-workers? Shouldn't everything they do at work be completely private?

The obvious answer is no, there are clearly situations where some limitation of privacy is warranted. Society does not function with complete anonymity and it never has. There are reasonable arguments about where that dividing line should be drawn, but surely we can agree that privacy has both and bad, right?

webwanderings 4 days ago 0 replies      
Link to the book, was at the bottom of this long article.


steauengeglase 4 days ago 0 replies      
The Solove/Bartow thing has been bouncing around for a few years now.

One of Bartow's responses:

She seems to be more annoyed with the idea that Solove's writings read like a High School sophomore's rather than the validity of his arguments.

jeffdavis 4 days ago 0 replies      
In other news: "Why getting punched in the face matters, even if you heal".

Seriously, out of all of the human emotions, why do we constantly feel the need to justify the desire for privacy?

ffffruit 4 days ago 0 replies      
An analogy I always like to use is: would you object to a team visiting your home, searching through all your physical and electronic belongings and then replacing everything exactly as they found it?
seanica 4 days ago 1 reply      
I've always liked retort, "If I have nothing to hide, why do you chase me?"
BoppreH 4 days ago 0 replies      
Privacy is not hiding, it's preventing misuse. There's a reason lottery winners prefer anonymity.
JustNick 4 days ago 0 replies      
'Nothing to Hide' - many peoples think this way, but for friends i was always trying to explain why privacy is important, why should you use anti virus and firewall, and do not leak data to Internet my main arguments:

1. You're computer might be in use for spam or hacking banks and governments sites.
2. Data leak - credit cards, accounts, and main - personal information.
3. In Ukraine we have joke - Facebook.com - let your wife meet your lovers.
4. From your info it is possible to find info on your friends.

And this is for people who have nothing to hide.

Questions of privacy in Internet is a big problem.
But privacy should be privacy, not anonymity.

As for cameras on streets... In future we will have no chance to hide. Nothing.

uvTwitch 2 days ago 0 replies      
Oh you have nothing to hide? Well show me your genitals then.

Yeah, that's what I thought.

diminoten 3 days ago 0 replies      
This is the worst argument I've ever seen in response to the "nothing to hide" statement, because it's simply the retort, "Yes, you do."

Can someone give me an argument against "nothing to hide" that doesn't boil down to "yes, you do!"? Honestly, I live somewhere squarely in the middle of the "nothing to hide" camp, and would really like to not be, if at all possible. I just can't justify changing my position on this if I don't know of a valid argument, however.

user49598 4 days ago 0 replies      
Plus, how can we ever relent our right to privacy from a government that is content with its own mountains of hidden information. If we are to be wire tapped, photographed and body scanned, then filming of government agents, like the TSA, should be something the government is not only in favor of, but is excited about.

The nothing to hide argument doesn't stand unless every person in the country is constantly surveilled and all information collected is fully accessible to everyone.

maked00 3 days ago 0 replies      
I had a friend that had no problems with giving up privacy in regards to his personal communications over the internet, but he would go totally bananas when a hospital asked to hold his ID so he would stick around to give an outpatient their ride home. People are very irrational regarding these matters.
Mordor 3 days ago 0 replies      
Any state with national security already understands that we all have something to hide and we do it because it is in our own best interests. The state, after all, does not act in our best interests, but its own. Or to be more precise, the people that run it!
achy 4 days ago 0 replies      
There's a huge difference between privacy and secrecy. Any debate about this topic that does not immediately make that distinction is futile. I don't keep secrets from my wife, but I still close the door when I use the washroom.
JoyxBen 3 days ago 0 replies      
Like Minority Report except instead of three psychics it's a pattern matching computer algorithm running over your data.
e12e 4 days ago 0 replies      
One of the best commentaries I've read on this topic, is still:

"THE RIGHT TO PRIVACY." by Warren and Brandeis -- originally published in 1891(!):


Very well written, and illuminating to this day.

pulplobster 4 days ago 0 replies      
I'm almost as scared about privacy breaches in the private sector. I read a while back about Target sending out ads for pregnancy related products to a teenage girl. Their data crunching algorithms had picked up on the fact that she was pregnant before she even told her parents.
sergeyk 4 days ago 0 replies      
"If I have nothing to hide, you've got no reason to look."
78704 3 days ago 0 replies      
The distortion argument is weak; transparency solves it as well as opacity does.
chasingtheflow 4 days ago 0 replies      
tldr; anyone?
MacBook Pro gets Retina Display; MacBook Air updated with Ivy Bridge arstechnica.com
368 points by sciurus  6 days ago   524 comments top 66
natural219 6 days ago  replies      
I have been a Windows user my whole life. As a hacker who has recently moved to San Francisco, I've continuously battled Apple fanboys and Linux fanatics alike on why I love Windows and absolutely do not understand why people want to switch platforms.

Then I watched this keynote.

I'm buying a Macbook Pro.

untog 6 days ago 5 replies      
Once you go Air, you never go back. And this year's Air announcement (like last year's) is pretty 'meh', so I'll be keeping with my old faithful 2010 Air for the time being. The retina displays are fantastic, but as a web dev I'm already dreading the merry havoc it's going to wreak with images on web pages.

On a wider note, I feel myself... drifting away from all of this. In previous years I would have been all over WWDC live blogs and so on- this year I'm already fed up with my Twitter stream being filled with it, and am dreading the Hacker News front page being liberally coated with Apple. I am happy to just read the post-game analysis after the fact. Reality Distortion Field Fatigue, perhaps?

breckinloggins 6 days ago 1 reply      
This may sound weird, but I'm most curious to see how the terminal looks on a retina display (when Apple or someone like iTerm makes one for it). I think having paper-resolution monospaced fonts will be awesome.
icegreentea 6 days ago 3 replies      
Should clear this up. There is an updated MacBook Air line (11" and 13"). There is an updated MacBook Pro line (13" and 15" with 'normal' screen, same chassis and updated internals). And then there is a new 15" MacBook Pro with a 2880 x 1800 screen and is 0.71" thick. I like to dub this one the MacBook Pro Air.
robomartin 6 days ago 1 reply      
I am platform agnostic.

That said, the one thing that continues to concern me with Apple is the continuation of their closed philosophy. The Mac App Store being the latest incarnation of their quest for total control. I, frankly, don't know what to make of it.

An Apple ecosystem would have no competitors. Like it or not, Microsoft enabled an incredible level of global competition that, ultimately, has been responsible for bringing us the Internet as we know it. Stop and think about what I just said before you disagree. Nearly all of the hardware developments in the last thirty years have come on the backs of the MS platform. You can build inexpensive and powerful servers today because of MS. Same with Linux and other advances. They lit the fire that triggered an incredible evolutionary chain in both consumer and professional computing.

While I understand why Apple does it this way --and they are fully entitled to do so-- I would not want to see a world where their computers are adopted en-masse unless they let go and break the chains.

trimbo 6 days ago 1 reply      
It looks great. But I think I'm waiting to see how hot this machine gets. It's more compact and still has an 85W power adapter. Because of the higher DPI, it's pushing a lot more pixels even doing menial stuff.

For perspective: my (larger) 2010 MBP 15" w/SSD gets very warm even when not doing anything with the GPU. Compiling in IntelliJ will get it to burn your lap off. When I've tried to use it to play games, it practically melts itself.

LaSombra 6 days ago 9 replies      
I don't want a "Retina display", I want a true 1920x1080 on my 15" MBP.
Apple is trying to impose that density is the same thing as resolution, which is not. A "Retina display" of 2880x1800 is just a "better" 1440x900.
Give me the option to choose between double pixels and real pixels and I'll buy thee.
phamilton 6 days ago 4 replies      
I'm curious about Magsafe2. As a student, knowing that 20% of students on campus (those with Apple computers) use the same charger as me, I find it really easy to borrow a cable for 20 minutes to get charged up for class. I'm guessing Magsafe2 isn't compatible with traditional magsafe.
tibbon 6 days ago 4 replies      
Perhaps I'm the only one, but I'm really waiting and praying for a new Mac Pro system and 30" Retina displays. Its been since 2010 for an update on the Mac Pro. Currently, I can't fathom why anyone would purchase them given the price. But the laptops have never felt capable enough for fulltime use for HD video editing (or 2K or 4K...)

Unless there's a "just one more thing" with these, it seems that the Mac Pro appears more and more dead.

hack_edu 6 days ago 3 replies      
Do any employees know whether or not the new MacBooks are available at retail locations today?

edit: Apple Store Berkeley says no.

saturdaysaint 6 days ago 2 replies      
As a 2011 MacBook Air user, my biggest envy is USB 3.0. Thunderbolt accessories have been few and far between, and then priced at an exorbitant premium.

But hey, they finally made a Thunderbolt Firewire adapter cable.

xbryanx 6 days ago 2 replies      
Will you still be able to order a MacBook with the matte display? Or does the retina display preclude this?

I hate the glossy screen and was happy to pay extra for matte on my current MacBook.

ori_b 6 days ago 1 reply      
I really hope that other manufacturers try to copy this soon. I'd kill for a thinkpad (or any other machine that runs Linux nicely, has three buttons and an eraser-stick, and has decent battery life) with a retina display.
jaems33 6 days ago 1 reply      
The more annoying problem is the storage: the lowest end model only holds 256 GB with absolutely no option on checkout to upgrade. And because it's soldered on, one can't simply install an upgrade themselves. So, in order for me to just get double the amount, I have to spend a minimum $600 extra.
petedoyle 6 days ago 1 reply      
I'm really hoping it can drive three external monitors... Looks somewhat promising:

    * Two Thunderbolt[/DisplayPort?] ports
* One HDMI port
* A Geforce 650M (capable of driving 4 active displays [1]).

[1] http://www.notebookcheck.net/NVIDIA-GeForce-GT-650M.71887.0....

EDIT: "Up to two external displays" (thanks dsirijus)

bratsche 6 days ago 3 replies      
I'm curious to know how Mac handles apps moving between a Retina Display Mac and a non-Retina display (Thunderbolt, whatever). Apps need to be updated to handle retina, otherwise they draw double pixels.. so what happens when you have a window that's halfway between a Retina and non-Retina?

My two guesses:
1. The entire window draws as doubled pixels, as if it didn't support Retina at all
2. The window gets two separate paint events, one retina and one non-retina.

Anyone know how this works yet?

GR8K 6 days ago 0 replies      
Belkin & Matrox are coming out with Thunderbolt docks:

Belkin http://www.belkin.com/thunderbolt/

Matrox http://www.matrox.com/docking_station/en/ds1/

electrograv 6 days ago 2 replies      
This may be a bit off-topic, but I have to wonder why I see laptop screens with much higher resolution than desktop monitors. It just seems so backwards (in terms of practical use) that as screen size increases, the screen resolution seems to decrease. So now in many ways most desktop rigs are inferior to a 15" laptop as far as productivity goes.

My intuition for the cause, is that the more surface area of the screen, the harder it is to consistently manufacture the panels without defects. But I'm not convinced because I'd imagine such incredibly high resolutions on laptop panels must be pretty demanding technology as well.

I just want 2880x1880 30" monitors for my office :)

jacobr 6 days ago 2 replies      
I wonder what Ubuntu would look like on a retina display.
sciurus 6 days ago 1 reply      
I think the comparisons to the Macbook Air are misleading. At least for me, the distinct appeal of the Macbook Air is that it's light; either 2.38 or 2.96 pounds. The new model Macbook Pro may be a great laptop in many ways, but at 4.46 pounds it's not light. I'm going to notice that in my messenger bag to a much greater extent than I would an Air.
stewbrew 6 days ago 1 reply      
When I got my Thinkpad W500 with a 1920x1280 display four years ago people complained over the Internet about those tiny pixels you can hardly see. It didn't have a funny name though and was just a display.
hesdeadjim 6 days ago 0 replies      
I'm at WWDC and after seeing one up close, it delivers on all the hyperbole attached to the launch. It's a truly incredible piece of hardware and the display is as game changing as the original iPhone retina screen was.
mrbill 6 days ago 0 replies      
I have multiple machines. I'm a UNIX/Linux sysadmin "by trade" since 1995 and use whatever machine / OS combination fits the task at hand best.

At work I have a Core2Duo Mac Mini that runs Windows 7 in a VM for my "work stuff" on a second monitor. At home I have the current Core i5 Mac Mini for my main system, with an AMD Bulldozer-based Windows box for games and things that require Windows. Sure, I prefer *nix, but I'll admin and use whatever gets the bills paid.

When it comes to laptops, I have a 2010 Macbook Air 11", a 2010 Macbook Pro 13", a Thinkpad T61 with Ubuntu, a Lenovo G470 with Win7, and a Thinkpad X120e running Windows 7.

A couple of hours ago, I sold the MBAir and MBPro to friends and ordered the new Core i5 11.6" Air with 128G SSD and 8G RAM. It's not often that I will buy the "current" machine without waiting for a refurb to be available.

dirkdeman 6 days ago 1 reply      
Why for heaven's sake is the new macbook pro €2279 when it's only $2199 in the US? It's a beautiful machine, and I'm used to some price differences between the US and Europe (USD = EUR, right, Apple?) but this is outrageous! That's almost 500 dolars more...
jakeonthemove 6 days ago 4 replies      
2880x1800 pixels on a 15.4 inch display? That's pretty impressive from a technical stand point, but I can't see how it's going to be useful in real life - I find 1680x1050 to be at the threshold of usability for me.

1600x900 is perfect on a 15.6, and 1920x1080 is the maximum I'd go for on a 17 inch display. Any higher and I'd just connect a bigger external display...

Can anyone give me an idea of what this resolution can actually be useful for?

phaus 6 days ago 1 reply      
While the new laptops seem very nice, the Mac Pro is a blatant attempt to insult the customer's intelligence. A video card from 2009, seriously? A quick search of newegg.com revealed that this card is so old and obsolete that they don't even sell it anymore. I understand that graphics cards aren't the most important thing in the world to many of Apple's customers, but there is absolutely no reason that they don't at least have a 6990 or even the new 7990 available as an option.
gareim 6 days ago 0 replies      
With a quad-core CPU and an NVidia 650M and that beast of a screen, will heat be an issue? They've put a lot of powerful components in a relatively small package.
ricardobeat 5 days ago 0 replies      
Prices here in Brazil were nudged up a little:

    Air 11": R$2699 -> R$3699 (1849 USD)
MBP 13": R$3599 -> R$3999 (2000 USD)
MBP Retina: R$9999 (4500 USD - WHAT??)
MBP Retina maxed out: R$15973 (~8000 USD...)

The prices for the new retina MBPs are outrageous. Tax rate for imports is 60%, and IT companies are eligible for some tax exemptions/reductions, it doesn't make any sense. For R$10k you can fly to the US and buy two retina MBPs. The first one would be exempt from taxes on return.

Apple prices went from ridiculous (buy a Mac or buy a car) 6 years ago to very competitive, until this update - apparently the good days are over.

jiggy2011 6 days ago 4 replies      
So, what is the effective resolution of the MBP now?
staunch 6 days ago 1 reply      
Holy crap 2880x1800. I've been buying 15" 1920x1200 laptops for last 10 years because I love resolution, but this is just absurdly awesome.

I only use Linux, but if no one else competes with this LCD I'll buy a Macbook Pro for sure.

nextstep 6 days ago 3 replies      
I can't find any details regarding the existence of an optical drive on the new MacBook Pro. Has it been removed? Also, does anyone know how MagSafe2 differs from MagSafe?
pbrumm 6 days ago 4 replies      
Hopefully the macbook pro with retina display supports 16gb of ram. Everything else sounds amazing, but being limited to 8gb of ram for another few years is going to hold me back.
slig 6 days ago 2 replies      
Finally they removed the DVD driver.
goatslacker 6 days ago 1 reply      
Was anyone else expecting a Macbook Air 15" with Retina display?
_stephan 6 days ago 0 replies      
Will you be able to configure different DPI settings per monitor on OSX, or will there be some iOS-like implicit 2x scale on retina displays? Otherwise this MacBook might be somewhat awkward to use with a non-"retina" external monitor...
zokier 6 days ago 0 replies      
I was hoping 2560x1600 13" pro, preferably in a fullsized body (instead of this Airy silliness). Instead just a overprized and oversized Air, and lackluster minimal refresh to real Pros.
pimentel 6 days ago 2 replies      
No builtin ethernet? My router at home doesn't allow wireless access to the admin.interface. I like my ethernet from time to time...
SkyMarshal 6 days ago 0 replies      
No MBP 13" refresh, too bad, I was hoping for that. That size is just the noteook sweet spot for me. More specifically, I'd love to the see the discrete Nvidia 650M GPU in the 13", want to play with CUDA on it.

Back to waiting...

Keyframe 6 days ago 0 replies      
I made a big switch from Mac based video editing to PC centric one in December last year. I'm kind of glad and sad there are no new Mac Pros. PCs took over big time in our industry (now video, CG was never Macs domain anyhow). Still, Macbook Air and Pros are best laptops there are, regardless of OS on it.
thom 6 days ago 0 replies      
Price-wise, the new retina MBPs seem to stack up pretty well with a ThinkPad W-series, so I don't really see a price issue here. What are people comparing against that they see the price as steep?
sycren 6 days ago 0 replies      
I think even if you are not a fan of macs or even this laptop you should still love it. Because of this new release we should expect to see releases from every other competitor by the end of the year to match the same screen resolution. Hopefully this will jumpstart the tv resolution from HD 1080 to something bigger like 4k and once this happens the next gen game consoles will surely follow on with greater amounts of details.
drivebyacct2 6 days ago 0 replies      
The Macs are awesome and I can't wait to throw down and replace my MBP, but I'm going to be nauseous from my iOS friends trying to rub iOS features in my face. Congratulations, Android users had that for years, or even a year.
pippy 6 days ago 5 replies      
I get little hints of Apple losing it's finesse. The plugs are on either side of the new MacBooks, a detail that Apple previously didn't miss. And two Thunderbolts? Does anyone here actually have a thunderbolt device?
pclark 6 days ago 4 replies      
all I want is 3g on laptops
hrktb 5 days ago 0 replies      
And bye bye 17inch macbook pro.

I guess it wasn't selling as good as the 15inch, ans is obsoleted by the retina one. But it's funny how there is so little mention of it, even if it was the top of the line for so long, representing the "everything's on board" mentality, just as the mac pro is.

mgkimsal 6 days ago 2 replies      
Is the line in port gone? Having line in and headphones out has been great for my use cases, and I was sad to see those go from the 13". Are they gone across the board now?
listic 6 days ago 1 reply      
Is anyone doing thorough reviews for Apple products? With technical details such as component specs (CPU/SSD/display), real world battery life testing and so on.

Did all Macbooks get Ivy Bridge update or not?

dasil003 6 days ago 0 replies      
I'm bummed no dual-drive configuration.
creativityhurts 6 days ago 0 replies      
The new Macbook Pro landing page is out http://www.apple.com/macbook-pro/
darrenkopp 6 days ago 0 replies      
Looks like they dropped the 17" MBP and replaced it with the new 15" Retina MBP.
ditoa 6 days ago 1 reply      
Very nice. Every year I am getting more and more tempted to make the switch from Windows to OS X. I like my iPhone but have always preferred Windows to OS X however I am not very excited with the way Microsoft are taking things with Windows 8.

Also I love the hardware and design. They only company who comes close to Apple's design is Asus in my opinion and even then they are still not quite there.

Does anyone know if the SSD is a standard SATA drive or a custom built in one (i.e. not user upgradable)?

hanapbuhay 6 days ago 0 replies      
Any eligible* student planning on purchasing the retina MacBook Pro can get the base model for $1999 USD (a $200 discount) plus a free $100 Apple gift card.

Details here: http://store.apple.com/us/browse/campaigns/back_to_school

streeter 6 days ago 1 reply      
Does anyone know if the new MacBook Air can drive more than one external display?
idleloops 6 days ago 1 reply      
Are these OLED displays - is this a first for a laptop? I'm interested in any technology that makes it more comfortable to use the machine. Currently I read most web pages on my Kindle out of desperation.
ajasmin 6 days ago 1 reply      
It takes a lot of 99¢ app sales to afford one of those new laptops. If you're in the app selling business.
jaakl 5 days ago 0 replies      
In 2012 there is only one producer who is bold enough to come out with new laptop model without touch-screen. And still it is leading edge.
angerman 6 days ago 1 reply      
I want one of those new shiny MacBook Air Pros! :) Seriously Apple, why not name them like that?
epynonymous 6 days ago 0 replies      
seems the ivy bridge is 20 degrees c hotter than the sandybridge chipset when overclocked:


cburgas 6 days ago 0 replies      
Any information on when they update the iMac line?
I really don't need a new laptop but want to switch to MacOS :(
vinothgopi 5 days ago 0 replies      
Am I the only one who noticed that the lid does not have the shiny words "Macbook Pro" anymore?
munchor 6 days ago 1 reply      
I've never owned an Apple product before. I'll probably buy this thing, it's amazing, but I won't use OS X, no, no :P
thelicx 6 days ago 0 replies      
Too expensive... really too much
bangbang 6 days ago 1 reply      
No Ethernet??
SeoxyS 6 days ago 2 replies      
Looks like I'll have to be heading to the Apple store after the keynote is over...

Edit: I'm curious, why the downvotes?

soc88 6 days ago 2 replies      
I guess the “Retina Display” is the admission that they never figured out how to do decent font rendering?
The Oatmeal Fights Legal Threat, Raises $20,000 in an Hour mashable.com
359 points by Liu  6 days ago   109 comments top 18
aresant 5 days ago 3 replies      
Matt Iman (guy behind TheOatmeal), was co-founder & original CTO of SEOMoz and left after his side project (Mingle2) blew up in popularity and was acquired.

He mentions in his departing SEOMoz blog post that the company that acquired Mingle2 wanted "to leverage my viral marketing and linkbait abilities" - back in 2007.

Fun to look at this through understanding that he's a SEO guru and viral-marketing genius.

Perfect David vs. Goliath headline, tons raised for charity so he comes out looking flawless, 3220 new inbound links for theoatmeal, etc.


via http://www.seomoz.org/blog/my-departure-from-seomoz


nostromo 6 days ago 2 replies      
Having a rival is pure press (and SEO) mastery. Seriously.

It reminds me of the genius rap rivalries of the 90s and 00s which left both rivals better off in every way (press, album sales, fame). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hip_hop_rivalry

ChuckMcM 6 days ago 2 replies      
I wonder if you can complain to the bar. Seems like a number of lawyers have taken up the "shakedown" model and been penalized for it. You should be able to complain to. The bar that this lawyer reflects badly on the profession for not doing his research.
planetguy 6 days ago 3 replies      
Y'see, this is why The Oatmeal guy is a comic genius. He understands that while

"drawing of your mom seducing a bear"

is funny,

"drawing of your mom seducing a kodiak bear"

is hilarious.

dangrossman 6 days ago 0 replies      
Mirror of The Oatmeal's post (annotated letter from the lawyer), since the site is down or slow right now:


jontas 5 days ago 3 replies      
I'd love to take that $20-40k and put it towards a company that does nothing but monitor websites like Funny Junk and issue takedown notices on the behalf of the content owners.

Companies like this probably exist, but I'm sure they don't come cheap and are used primarily by the big players (eg music labels, movie studios).

I think it is great that Matt is donating the money to charity. However, the idea of putting the money towards some kind of community focused content monitor struck me as an interesting alternative.

I also wonder to what degree something like this could be automated. I know sites like YouTube monitor their own content, but what if Matt could upload all his images, verify his ownership in a legally meaningful way, and then automatically monitor Funny Junk and issue takedown notices in real time.

paulgb 5 days ago 1 reply      
For a guy with 90s clip-art on his letterhead, he's had more experience than I expected http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Carreon
sparknlaunch 6 days ago 4 replies      
While this is a great story likely to go down in Internet history, it seems a risky strategy. Sure he raised $20k but seems like this will just fuel the fire of the FunnyJunk lawyers. There have been more trivial legal cases than this one - that could go on for a long time.
TomGullen 6 days ago 6 replies      
Is there any chance that FunnyJunk has played the Oatmeal for promotional purposes here?
jsprinkles 6 days ago 5 replies      
FunnyJunk is apparently responding quietly on their site, as just searching for the word 'oatmeal' results in no search results (that wasn't the case when this blog post went up). According to people I know that use the site, you cannot add comments with the word 'oatmeal', either. They also deleted every single linked image he exhaustively listed.

I have a hard time resolving litigation like this with the fact that the truth can change in minutes, as Web sites are fairly easy to edit. It's just scary.

pasbesoin 6 days ago 0 replies      
The legal herd definitely is in need of thinning. (I mean, career changes, of course -- to flipping Kodiak burgers.)

I'm glad parody and appropriately sharp (in more than one way) commentary have not been wiped off the Internet, yet. Hopefully, not ever.

Shengster 6 days ago 0 replies      
Ironically The Oatmeal is down. Presumably because so many people want to give him money that they've DDOSed his website.
SideburnsOfDoom 6 days ago 0 replies      
They really didn't like it the last time that The Oatmeal talked about funnyjunk (and was highly linked to, commented about and other google-juice-accumulating indicators), or at least that's what the lawyer's letter indicates. Why should this time be any different?
beedogs 5 days ago 1 reply      
They can't be serious with this legal "threat". They don't have a leg to stand on.
woodall 5 days ago 1 reply      
cpunks 5 days ago 0 replies      
My guess is FJ and Oatmeal are both getting massive traffic thanks to this little battle.
ruswick 6 days ago 2 replies      
Although the lawsuit is bullshit, I would probably be really happy if the oatmeal were to get sued out of existence.

I try to stay away from it as much as possible, but of the handful of things I've seen there, they were all trollish and entirely incorrect.

The site is just more Internet scum and it going away would probably be for the best.

KenCochrane 6 days ago 2 replies      
I'm surprised that people haven't started contacting funnyjunk and telling them how much of a tool they are.

Here are some good links, if you are want to do more.




PointerPointer: points to your cursor pointerpointer.com
351 points by nthitz  6 days ago   65 comments top 23
paulirish 6 days ago 2 replies      
I made a quick video explaining how the webapp works: http://youtu.be/Z2ZXW2HBLPM

Essentially, using the gridPositions.json to populate a Voronoi Grid (toggle display of the <canvas> in your browser). Then your cursor position is used against the grid to find which shape encloses it which maps back to the source JPEG which is then displayed.

runako 6 days ago 2 replies      
Interesting example of how a hard problem (image recognition/understanding) can be faked for some cases by solving an easier problem (lookup table, a few hours of manual intervention.)
Inufu 6 days ago 10 replies      
doesn't really work for me with Chrome on Windows 7 - an image flashes for a split-second, then it's back to "Finding pointer" (I'm not even touching my mouse)
Groxx 6 days ago 1 reply      
Definitely good for a chuckle. It helps a lot that the photos are very well aimed, really makes it feel magical :)
shashashasha 6 days ago 1 reply      
A faster (older) version of this by the same people, with camera flashes: http://flitser.org/
sporksmith 6 days ago 0 replies      
Fun :). I did something similar with a bunch of photos of a stuffed monkey. I made a music video instead of an interactive web app, though the latter would probably not be too difficult since I wrote the software using Processing. http://sporksmith.wordpress.com/travels-of-code-monkey/
alpb 6 days ago 1 reply      
There are serious problems around the upper right corner. I did not get any results from there. I'm wondering whether the pictures are originally pointing that coordinate or are they resized+translated to some offset?
hackNightly 6 days ago 2 replies      
Just wasted about 20 minutes of my life playing with this. I would really like to know the technology behind. Is there some sort of ML going on, or is this human trained? Either way, very entertaining and scary accurate.
kephra 6 days ago 1 reply      
One suggestion is to move the jquery from jquery.com to your domain for two reasons:

1: It will be one click less, for those who use noscript.
2: It will allow your site to survive the case that jquery.com changes anything, or goes down.

Besides that its a nice toy.

CountHackulus 6 days ago 1 reply      
This is pretty neat, I wonder if it has to be human trained or if there's some sort of computer vision algorithm determining pointing.
ionforce 6 days ago 0 replies      
I don't see the point of this. The images load far too slowly.
AznHisoka 5 days ago 0 replies      
How can I get a pointer to my cursor in Javascript? I might find this useful in automating certain processes.
PidGin128 3 days ago 0 replies      
This is technically interesting, but voyeur-istically creepy.
Andi 5 days ago 0 replies      
What is the point about this beyond showing pictures where the finger is next to my cursor? (Why is this popular?) It's not more interesting than a circumference search. You could implement that with a simple rtree.
gouranga 5 days ago 0 replies      
Doesn't work in IE9. That was the limit of my experience :(
joshu 5 days ago 1 reply      
Why does it take so long to load?
chousho 6 days ago 0 replies      
Haha, very clever. Although I seem to be running into problems whenever I put the mouse into one of the 4 corners of the screen. It can find anything more centrally located, though (apparently?)
DiabloD3 6 days ago 0 replies      
On Firefox, never goes past "Pointer found, pointing". No image loads, works on Chrome though.
hanbam 6 days ago 0 replies      
I was actually expecting that somebody did some machine learning / matching over a large set of pictures and found all those images / coordinates.
edwinyzh 5 days ago 0 replies      
What's this? I saw some pictures flashed after some loading indicators are shown...
Inetgate 5 days ago 0 replies      
Is this a some kind of concentration game?
cocoflunchy 6 days ago 0 replies      
Doesn't load for me, on Chrome/FF/IE9...
jsilence 5 days ago 0 replies      
Anonymous Austria leaks 2.8 GB Scientology Emails pastebin.com
349 points by bmaeser  7 days ago   143 comments top 17
dfc 7 days ago 4 replies      
Its unfortunate that they were not distributed via bittorrent and/or a tor hidden service. The files are large enough that downloading them with the "free download" option is a terribly long wait. I do not understand how this has so many upvotes after being up for such a short time. Have that many people actually downloaded the files already?

Does anyone have any guesses about the string at the end of the announcement? Is that something Anonymous normally does?


raphman 7 days ago 2 replies      
Some of the emails can apparently be read at [1], [2] - via [3]

[1] http://pic.pwny.biz/x/ed_at_scientology.co.at/

[2] http://pic.pwny.biz/x/buchladen_at_scientology.co.at/

[3] http://blog.esowatch.com/?p=8247

(in German, of course)

MultiRRomero 7 days ago 7 replies      
Am I the only one who doesn't find this all that positive? I already think scientology is bad/evil/dangerous, and I think that illegally getting access to their secrets might make the opposition (us) look worse in the public eye. Everybody has dirty secrets, both sides, and it's a bit low to go after the other side's private emails. It'd be much easier to fight/debate against their public image, which is easy enough, without having to resort to intrusive attacks. We have the warrant system in the states for a reason, and if this were to happen in court the evidence would just get tossed right out.

Idk, am I alone here? Am I wrong? I'm open to contrary opinions.

yuvadam 7 days ago 0 replies      
Any other mirrors online?
munchor 7 days ago 2 replies      
zekenie 7 days ago 1 reply      
anyone found anything interesting in the emails? it just says they're evil, and the download's slow.
vertis 6 days ago 0 replies      
The original download links are slow. For a torrent of the files see http://www.demonoid.ph/files/details/2949566
jheriko 6 days ago 0 replies      
I find it beautifully ironic - the statement "2.They are evil. They are dangerous. Everyone must know." from people who invaded privacy under the misguided belief they are fighting the good fight...

Two wrongs don't make a right. Grow the f*ck up - stand up instead of skulking in the shadows.

pud 7 days ago  replies      
It troubles me a tiny bit to see comments on HN like (paraphrased) "Members of [group that has different religious beliefs than me] are evil."

I am not defending religion or Scientology.

shellox 6 days ago 1 reply      
I still don't understand why they use this one click hoster, which have a waiting time and limited download rate instead of bittorrent. The files are large enough and I think enough people would seed it. Decentralization is an important point for such data leaks as well.
mutant 6 days ago 0 replies      
Ridiculous distrobution method. Piratebay upload could have gotten this out in a few hours.
quadrant6 7 days ago 1 reply      
This should be brought to public attention but the public don't want to have to download 2.8 gb of data and filter through it. Someone has to do that first and make it easily digestible, highlighting the worst or most 'dangerous' emails.
shellox 6 days ago 1 reply      
This mail from an Austrian police man is weird.
http://pastebin.com/PN2GFaaA German
jackmoore 7 days ago 2 replies      
Why would it? Are you confusing Scientology with Mormonism and Austria with America?
aj700 6 days ago 1 reply      
Can someone alert the relevant authorities of Germany. Yes, they may have already noticed this. But: Kann ein deutscher Sprecher mitteilen, Bundesnachrichtendienst und BfV.



A least one country takes the threat seriously.

grandalf 7 days ago 1 reply      
If you think Scientology is "weirder" than mainstream religions, it's b/c you are buying into the propaganda sponsored by its competitors.
sakopov 7 days ago 1 reply      
It's illegal to distribute confidential information of another group. This isn't about democrats or republicans. We're not talking about a group of people here. We're talking about a religion. If a religion has "secrets" which cannot be shared among believers and non-believers than it's not a religion - it's a sect.
Kogan imposes a tax on IE7 shoppers lifehacker.com.au
349 points by nathanhoad  4 days ago   146 comments top 25
ceol 4 days ago  replies      
I doubt their userbase using IE7 is large enough for this to be a big deal. This tax's real goal is PR for Kogan.
kentbrew 4 days ago 1 reply      
At Lexity we bounced everybody who wasn't using IE8 or better to a page that showed them how to upgrade, and specifically encouraged Chrome Frame for those who were stuck with IE6 or IE7. This was very simple to do; all it took was a few conditional comments:


overgard 4 days ago 2 replies      
An interesting idea, but I can't help but think there's a better way to phrase it.

For instance, they could automatically impose the tax but then offer a discount for switching browsers. That's more of a win for everyone involved. For the shopper, they aren't treated poorly, but they're moved towards a better browsing experience and they stop being a burden on the internet. For Kogan they can still impose their "tax" without alienating customers.

As it reads right now, it's rather condescending. I do get that they're probably being intentionally provocative to impress an entirely separate audience, but if you were to take the idea seriously I think there would be better ways to pull it off.

marshray 4 days ago 2 replies      
I think it's cute but it's hard to get over the sense that it's the moral equivalent of "This site best viewed with frames at 1024x768 screen resolution with Netscape Navigator 2.0."
litek 4 days ago 4 replies      
This is terrific link bait. They've probably checked their stats and figured the exposure is well worth the few missed sales they might encounter.
mkmcdonald 3 days ago 5 replies      
Ah; browser elitism continues to pervade the web platform. Perhaps one day developers will realize how to develop working pages for static, decade-old browsers. It's not as hard as bloggers evangelize it to be.

HTML and CSS gracefully degrade. Host objects (DOM, etc.) require some care, but can degrade as well.

On an open platform with open software, we continue to punish and castigate users for their choice (or lack thereof) of environment. How infuriating is it for a user that's stuck on IE < 8 at work because of paranoid sysadmins?

Moreover, version detection is moronic. Twitter does this by banishing IE 6 users to a "mobile site" because the "desktop site" is poorly written. Browsing in IE 5 yields a broken version of the "desktop site" (CSS and all).

cdeonier 4 days ago 2 replies      
I can't help but feel there's a better way to "make the Internet a better place". While it's not ideal customers are using IE7, belittling them and taxing because they might not know better seems a little extreme. The message reads more like developers venting their frustration supporting IE7 rather than trying to make things better.
bradgessler 4 days ago 0 replies      
If you sell a B2B product, there is a higher willingness for the customer to pay this tax since they are probably working at a large enterprise.
altrego99 3 days ago 0 replies      
Krogans are doing some really good things since Urdnot Wrex came into power.
altrego99 3 days ago 0 replies      
> Microsoft itself has worked hard to persuade users to upgrade as part of general system patches, and as we've noted recently, the current Internet Explorer 9 release performs much better than you might think.

Is IE9 available for Windows XP? Most of the corporates still rely on Windows XP machines. I can't help thinking Microsoft's persuading people to get IE9 is just another try to get them out of Windows XP. And while there's ample reason to move on from IE7, there isn't any so many for upgrading from Windows XP, really.

cristianocd 4 days ago 0 replies      
PR, link bait or whatever you think about it... you gotta agree it sure is a fun way to promote change.
cheeze 4 days ago 1 reply      
I like it. Sure, alienating your customers is bad, but in a case where these customers may be costing you money, might as well push them to upgrade.
mschalle 4 days ago 0 replies      
Honestly more sites should do something like this (maybe a little less prohibitive and a bit more informational). I think most users with old browsers are on them because they don't know about the faults of that browser or the alternatives. Making the alternatives so obvious may do some good, and shouldn't be too much of an inconvenience to the user.
themenace 4 days ago 0 replies      
I think Kogan has already stopped supporting IE7 because IE7 hangs if you do visit!

To be clear: I wanted to see this amusing "tax notice" first hand, but when I visit kogan.com using Internet Explorer 7.0 with all default settings using a Windows XP/SP3 system, it shows the front page but it then hangs.

jamespcole2 3 days ago 0 replies      
Nice move, there is no reasonable excuse to still be using IE7. If your IT department is forcing it on you they are just being slack + it's a consumer website so you probably shouldn't be shopping at work anyway.
joeblau 3 days ago 0 replies      
I'm surprised there isn't some JavaScript library service that notifies users that their browser is outdated.
guruparan18 4 days ago 2 replies      
Is it me, or others also not seeing it? In IE6, the IE7 tax is not applied. Wondering why they would have left IE6.
vbrendel 4 days ago 0 replies      
Ah, flashback! Or just don't support IE at all (and call it a feature!): http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=3941799
seivan 3 days ago 0 replies      
What about a discount if you use other browsers instead? Wouldn't that be a better encouragement to have people switch?
EGreg 3 days ago 1 reply      
I see IE9 is missing in that list :)
notlostyet 3 days ago 1 reply      
Why 6.8% specifically?
anhdo 3 days ago 0 replies      
Kogan really has a nice way to educate people to choose a better browser, but I think this will hurt his image a little bit.
welcomebrand 3 days ago 0 replies      
They're so kerrrrazy I lol'ed. Good bit of free publicity I'm sure.
acuity12 3 days ago 0 replies      
Aalto Talk with Linus Torvalds youtu.be
340 points by flabbergasted  1 day ago   120 comments top 24
saurik 1 day ago 5 replies      
The original title of this submission was 'Linus to Nvidia: "Fuck You"', which was renamed by someone (the moderators? can the submitter change the title?) after a ton of people had upvoted and commented on it, and despite the link being not to the entire video but instead to a specific point in the video for which the title of the entire video is probably not even an appropriate description.

So, when people are reading the comments of this submission in the future, please keep this in mind as a historical note. (This, humorously, was actually the kind of situation that caused the complaint[1] that itself turned into a massive hullabaloo recently regarding what can be discussed on HN and what the policies regarding hell-banning are; to view the reference you will need showdead.)

[1]: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=4102013

SkyMarshal 1 day ago  replies      
TLDR: Linus at a Q&A, a woman asks why Nvidia still isn't providing any support for Optimus on Linux, Linus responds that Nvidia is being really difficult about that without good reason and "Fuck You Nvidia!" (flicks off the camera).

Her question actually starts a minute earlier than the link:


PS - Bravo Linus. This is issue is a real PITA, and a bit incongruent considering the historically awesome driver support Nvidia has provided for Linux.

kabdib 11 hours ago 1 reply      
There is a bunch of hardware in the world that is inaccessible. I don't see this changing.

Reasons include: Keeping competitors away from what you think are valuable secrets and maintaining an advantage. Keeping people away from features that, if misused, could result in chip damage. Keeping security holes secret (e.g., badly designed DMA hardware that could be exploited, if the flaws were known). Limiting access to known buggy features, or unfinished features that either don't work or that could leak damaging hints about strategic direction. You have purchased or licensed 3rd party technology that you contractually cannot divulge details of. For interoperability with other products you have embedded knowledge of them in the product, under NDA.

More: It's expensive to document chips to the point that outside development can be done. Perhaps the documentation doesn't exist, at all, and would have to be reverse-engineered out of the chip design (yes, this happens). It's expensive to write drivers for multiple platforms, or even to get software into a state where it can be consumed by an outside party (just dumping a tree onto GitHub is /not/ a release). You feel that "forking" would result in a loss of control of your own product (and would dramatically increase the cost of future releases, lest you break things). You regularly rev chips and cover the changes transparently in the software layer, and this would /not/ be transparent if you released product details (thus increasing the cost of revisions).

More (the slimey side): You have misappropriated technology and divulging it would be harmful to you. There are design errors or bugs verging on malfeasance that could expose you to litigation. You have lied about the product's capabilities and a release would reveal this (whereupon, litigation).

Or, it's a pain in the ass, the market is significantly less than 1 percent of your total, and you have a horizontal skyscraper of engineers already behind schedule. "Good faith and being nice" doesn't pay the bills.

[I have also heard, from other parts of the industry, that the company in question is hard to deal with].

_delirium 1 day ago 3 replies      
I'm behind the times here, but it took me a second to realize this was really Linus in the video. I still think of him as looking like the now-10-year-old photo gracing his Wikipedia article (http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Linus_Torvalds.jpeg), but he looks a lot older here, possibly accentuated by the business attire.
benwr 1 day ago 2 replies      
"I like offending people, because I think the people who get offended should be offended."
srean 1 day ago 0 replies      
Aside from the FU, its a nice and interesting talk with an engaging Q&A that spans: decision making, being blunt by choice, micro-optimization, licensing, commercial interests, limited success on the desktop....
kennywinker 1 day ago 0 replies      
if you skip ahead to 1:00:30 a guy in the audience who works at Nvidia responds during Q&A, ever so politely. Linus responds, quite politely as well.


nnq 17 hours ago 2 replies      
...anybody else picked up the line where he basically says that WEB PROGRAMMING ISN'T [REAL] PROGRAMMING? I wonder what a community like HN, with so many people developing web apps thinks about this... :)

Quote (~min 11:30): "I have never in my love done any web programming because I'm not interested, I think that kind of stuff... there's MIS people to do that for you, right? I'm interested in programming"

[edited some spelling bugs]

rosser 1 day ago 0 replies      
"I wish everybody was as nice as I am."
kristofferR 1 day ago 1 reply      
The title you gave it doesn't make much sense considering what this post/part of the speech and following discussion really is about - Nvidia's lack of support for Linux and Linus' reaction.

You should have titled it "Linus Torvalds Angry at Nvidia, Flips the Finger at Speach" or something.

That would have been more descriptive, just a heads up for next time! ;)

unkoman 1 day ago 0 replies      
A man who speaks his feelings about his passion, oh how will we ever handle this.
cpinto 1 day ago 3 replies      
Let the memes begin! Here's an image template of Linus giving the finger: https://skitch.com/cpinto/ebemj/linus
StephenFalken 1 day ago 0 replies      
We desperately need open sourced chip cores. An open community would build them with open source EDA tools and the final tapeout would be physically produced by a foundry. I know open source EDA tools are still decades away from proprietary ones, but we won't go anywhere if we don't start somewhere.
flabbergasted 1 day ago 1 reply      
From "If you like subversion, you are ugly and stupid" and now this. I always enjoy this man's talks.
zerostar07 13 hours ago 0 replies      
I liked that he likes the open science publication movement. I think he would be a great advocate for it .
wordplay 20 hours ago 0 replies      
"If you think like a computer, writing C actually makes sense."
stesch 1 day ago 0 replies      
What have I expected? He really says it and gives the finger.
zokier 16 hours ago 0 replies      
Was there anything else of interest in that talk?
gdi2290 1 day ago 0 replies      
he also said Microsoft is full of shit
FlyingSnake 1 day ago 0 replies      
I hope NVidia notices this and instead of going into a shell, helps make Optimus chips a first class citizen in Linux land.
castilhor 1 day ago 0 replies      
cnp 23 hours ago 0 replies      
ughhhh by the time you get to that fuck you part you're cheering along as well... perfect timing
tubbo 1 day ago 1 reply      
wow linus is really the original DHH
dazzawazza 1 day ago 4 replies      
It's a shame he doesn't go in to specifics, just saying "Fuck you" makes him look like a child, which I am sure he isn't.

What is the problem?

9-Year-Old Who Changed School Lunches Silenced By Politicians wired.com
337 points by bcl  2 days ago   114 comments top 26
urbanjunkie 2 days ago 3 replies      
And the response from Argyll and Bute


Argyll and Bute Council wholly refutes the unwarranted attacks on its schools catering service which culminated in national press headlines which have led catering staff to fear for their jobs. The Council has directly avoided any criticism of anyone involved in the ‘never seconds' blog for obvious reasons despite a strongly held view that the information presented in it misrepresented the options and choices available to pupils however this escalation means we had to act to protect staff from the distress and harm it was causing. In particular, the photographic images uploaded appear to only represent a fraction of the choices available to pupils, so a decision has been made by the council to stop photos being taken in the school canteen.

There have been discussions between senior council staff and Martha's father however, despite an acknowledgement that the media coverage has produced these unwarranted attacks, he intimated that he would continue with the blog.

The council has had no complaints for the last two years about the quality of school meals other than one from the Payne family received on 6 June and there have been no changes to the service on offer since the introduction of the blog.

Pupils have a daily choice of two meals from a menu which is designed with pupils, parents and teachers. Our summer menu is about to be launched and includes main course choices like meat or vegetarian lasagne served with carrots and garlic bread or chicken pie with puff pastry, mashed potato and mixed vegetables.

Pupils can choose from at least two meals every day. They pay £2 for two courses and this could be a starter and a main or a main and a desert. Each meal comes with milk or water. Pupils can have as much salad and bread as they want. Salad, vegetables, fruit, yoghurt and cheese options are available every day. These are standing options and are not a result of any changes in response to the blog site.

As part of the curriculum for excellence, pupils in all our schools are regularly taught about healthy eating and at lunch breaks staff encourage pupils to make good choices from what is on offer. We use a system called ‘Nutmeg' to make sure everything is nutritionally balanced. Our staff also get nutrition awareness training so they know how to provide a good healthy meal. There is portion sized guidance which we adhere to and it is matched to the age of the child so they get the right amount of food. Second portions would mean too many calories for pupils.

In Lochgilphead Primary School we are piloting a new pre-ordering scheme which is designed to encourage class discussion around meal choices and also improves the accuracy of meal choices. The pupils use a touch screen to select their lunch option and the data is downloaded in the kitchen so they know how many portions of each meal are required. As they place their order, the pupils are given a coloured band which relates to their meal choice that day. They wear it during the morning, and at lunchtime they hand it to the catering assistant, who will give them the corresponding meal.

The council's focus is now on supporting the school in the education of young people in Argyll and Bute

jakejake 2 days ago 4 replies      
The wired article makes it sound like the girl was a political activist trying to force a change in the school lunch program. But if you read her blog, the photos of lunches look pretty good and her "reviews" are mostly positive. It almost struck me that people with agendas are projecting onto this girl's blog, which doesn't seem to be intended to be controversial at all, rather just a chronicle of her lunches - including how many mouthfuls of food each meal contains as well as the color of the wristband needed to get your lunch that particular day! I don't know why the school shut her down, it certainly was not a negative reflection on their lunch program at all.

This did make me remember my school lunch days - basically tv dinners served in aluminum foil tins. I would have loved to have these lunches instead of the crap we had to eat!

Here's one of her typical reviews "Today's Shepherd's Pie was really nice. The mash on top was really creamy and the mince was in lovely gravy. I wonder where their meat comes from. The salad was lovely and crunchy. The cake looked really difficult to serve because the icing was so sticky. I saved my melon until last and it was a great way to end my lunch. Food-o-meter - 9/10, Mouthfuls - 32"

DanBC 2 days ago 4 replies      
Argyll and Bute council have a website. It appears to be down at the moment. (http://www.argyll-bute.gov.uk/)

I wanted to know how many CCTV cameras they have. We in the UK are a heavily monitored population (here's a frustratingly thin article with a few details, hinting at a rich data set that is not made available. (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/8159141.stm) ) It's bizarre that her tax money (as a child she doesn't pay much, but she will pay VAT on a few items and her parents certainly pay taxes) is used to provide state surveillance and to prevent her photographic record of her dinners.

There are many reasons to prevent children taking phones and cameras to school. This reason is a really really stupid reason.

How wrong-headed it is to take active measures against a child who is showing an interest in writing; civics; nutrition; and so on.

EDIT: The father has appeared on BBC Radio 4's "Today" news programme. (about 7:20 for anyone 'listening again'.) He has said that the school has been very supportive, and that the decision was taken by the council. He sounds pretty balanced about it.
We crush the joy of learning out of children.

SagelyGuru 2 days ago 2 replies      
Everyone seems to assume that the local council actually have the right to forbid a child taking photographs of her own property (in this case her lunch that she has just bought).
Is that really so?

Even if the school should have some capability to issue its own strange rules and by-laws, contrary to the common law applying outside, should this not be up to the Governors Board?

We all far too readily acquiesce, at our own cost, to arbitrary orders by 'authorities', assuming that they have powers over our lives which often they don't have or should not have.

Tyrannosaurs 2 days ago 0 replies      
Argyll and Bute Council have reversed their decision.


(Around 1:30)

Also in good news, her charity appeal has gone from just under £3,000 this morning to over £20,000 (against a target of £7,000).

Evgeny 2 days ago 1 reply      
Maybe she could draw lunches ... then take photos of drawings and post them. There would be a short caption under each photo, saying that the actual photos are not available due to the council policy.

Win-win: keep on doing what you love and learn to draw!

urbanjunkie 2 days ago 1 reply      
It almost certainly wasn't 'politicians' - just overzealous local council officers.

And instead of using a poor secondary source, why not link to Veg's blog post - http://neverseconds.blogspot.co.uk/2012/06/goodbye.html?

jack-r-abbit 2 days ago 1 reply      
I understand that having pictures of the food is probably going to get the point across even more, but I don't understand why she didn't just continue to blog about the horrible lunches and put a sketch or something. Imagine if she has just kept on blogging without the pictures like nothing ever happened. That would have sent a pretty powerful message to those people that tried to shut her up.
uptown 2 days ago 0 replies      

"A council has overturned a ban which prevented British schoolgirl Martha Payne from posting pictures of her school dinners on her blog Neverseconds."


frederico 2 days ago 1 reply      

Latest statement from the school.


Statement on school meals from Argyll and Bute Council
Published Date: 15 Jun 2012 - 10:53
Updated: 14:19 - 15 June 2012

Statement from Cllr Roddy McCuish, Leader of Argyll and Bute Council

"There is no place for censorship in this Council and never will be whilst I am leader. I have advised senior officers that this Administration intends to clarify the Council's policy position in regard to taking photos in schools. I have therefore requested senior officials to consider immediately withdrawing the ban on pictures from the school dining hall until a report can be considered by Elected Members. This will allow the continuation of the "Neverseconds" blog written by an enterprising and imaginative pupil, Martha Payne which has also raised lots of money for charity.

But we all must also accept that there is absolutely no place for the type of inaccurate and abusive attack on our catering and dining hall staff, such as we saw in one newspaper yesterday which considerably inflamed the situation. That, of course, was not the fault of the blog, but of the paper.

We need to find a united way forward so I am going to bring together our catering staff, the pupils, councillors and council officials - to ensure that the council continues to provide healthy, nutrious and attractive school meals. That "School Meals Summit" will take place later this summer.

I will also meet Martha and her father as soon as I can, along with our lead councillor on Education, Michael Breslin to seek her continued engagement, along with lots of other pupils, in helping the council to get this issue right. By so doing Martha Payne and her friends will have had a strong and lasting influence not just on school meals, but on the whole of Argyll & Bute."

AndrewDucker 2 days ago 0 replies      
There's an interesting analysis here of the local council and the problems they've had with social networks before:


ChuckMcM 2 days ago 0 replies      
This will not end well for the council.
smoyer 2 days ago 1 reply      
"Veritas Ex Gustu" ... but who knows Latin?

I love her light-heartedness and wish I still had mine. And does anyone else think of Charles Dickens' "Oliver Twist" when reading the title of her blog ("Never Seconds")? I keep hearing "Please sir, I want some more" in my head.

I'm certainly glad to have kids like this in the world ... she's made more of a difference already than most of us will in our life-times. She's just passed the 35,000 pound mark for donations to Mary's Meals, feeding 3500 children for a year. Wow!

charlieok 2 days ago 1 reply      
Why doesn't the school just start its own meal photo blog. That would actually be a great way to publish the daily menu. Photos instead of just text.

If they think the girl is deliberately presenting unappealing selections, they should present some more appealing ones as a counterpoint.

spoiledtechie 2 days ago 4 replies      
Legally, isn't school property, public property? That means, that she is therefore allowed to take pictures in public places, right?
rsanchez1 2 days ago 0 replies      
Seems that the politicians didn't want people telling them how to do their job, especially if it's a 9-year old doing it.
Groxx 2 days ago 0 replies      
Honestly, that food looks quite a bit better than my school offered. There are some nutritionally-very-questionable combinations occasionally, but by and large they seem among the more reasonable options I tend to see.

Which, yes, is terrifying. More focus on the crap we feed our kids is fantastic.

noonespecial 2 days ago 0 replies      
Perhaps they think it will be difficult to "raise" the chocolate ration to 20 grams per week if the kids are taking pictures of it every day?
politician 2 days ago 0 replies      
Honestly, this was the sort of response I was expecting the first time that this story was posted -- not the Cinderella story of a positive change within two weeks. I guess the bureaucracy over there took a while to boot..
smoyer 2 days ago 0 replies      
Martha wins!

Follow the same link above and you'll see there are updates to Wired's original article. Thank you Argyll and Bute Council ... and you've shown the kids that it's okay to admit you were wrong and to take action to rectify what you've done.

josscrowcroft 2 days ago 0 replies      
What would happen if she just carried on doing it?
horsehead 2 days ago 0 replies      
So much for that whole "you can do anything you set your mind to" bullshit they spout in most public schools (I'm assuming Scotland is the same way as in the US).

Funny how the powerholders are all talk until somebody puts their money where their mouth is (no pun intended). Here's to you, assholes in charge.

scotty79 2 days ago 2 replies      
There should be some law that should state that if you can be at some place you can have a camera and take photos from that place of whatever you like and no one should be able to forbid you that or require a fee.
anons2011 2 days ago 0 replies      
NeverSeconds blogger Martha Payne school dinner photo ban overturned

Looks like the ban has been overturned.

A victory for free speech and common sense!

hastur 2 days ago 0 replies      
Martha Payne for Prime Minister!
unimpressive 2 days ago 3 replies      
If I were in her shoes, they wouldn't have heard the last of me by a longshot. I'd start pulling out hidden cameras, and when they caught on to that I'd show my lunch around to everyone in the school during lunch...one of whom has a hidden camera and will photograph the lunch.

Once they start taking disciplinary action is when I get others to start blogs and post pictures. If for no other reason than because I'd have a damn good time doing it.

Show HN: Easel, web design in the browser easel.io
332 points by mrbogle  3 days ago   119 comments top 42
splatcollision 2 days ago 6 replies      
Congratulations! Glad to see more people attempting this type of thing. The demo content design is pretty nice.

Some good things in Easel, but I have lots of problems with all the tiny little controls. Also it's an interesting decision to use a canvas element instead of the DOM. Without solving the overall page layout issue, this is a nice drawing tool like others have mentioned, and kudos to the technical and design effort, but in the end if you're not using the DOM, you're making pictures of web sites...

Therefore, it's my responsibility to let you all know about Edit Room, my project as an independent developer, http://www.edit-room.com/

Edit Room is also a 'web design in the browser' app, but it uses the real DOM, not a canvas, so whatever you can build with Edit Room is what is truly able to be built with HTML and CSS. It's only a slight limitation due to the unique way I've handled absolute/relative layouts. Edit Room still gives you incredible design and layout freedom, without floats.

Edit Room doesn't do fixed widths at all. Documents created with Edit Room flex naturally. Everything you layout and design with my app is based on a flexible grid, and it has a built-in width preview, so you can design at any screen width.

Edit Room exports the full HTML and CSS for your entire layout, or you can copy individual elements' CSS, it's adaptable to your workflow.

Edit Room also supports linking Typekit and Fontdeck accounts, so you can use Web Fonts in your exported designs.

You can try out the demo here: http://www.edit-room.com/screens/13/edit

Oh, and one more thing: You can animate your layers with visual keyframes and Edit Room generates CSS3 Animations.

hcarvalhoalves 3 days ago 3 replies      
Just a drawing tool in the browser. This doesn't do anything different than Photoshop or Omnigraffle, if the web designer is smart enough to reuse layers / components.

It could be a really useful though if it had support for more than absolute-positioned, fixed-sized elements, and used the browser's layout engine instead.

Today's biggest problem is that web designers use Photoshop for coming up with mockups and then they just expect content to fit on their fixed-sized design, when the web exactly the other around - content is king.

pygorex 3 days ago 1 reply      
Very cool interface. Any a very nice usage of keyboard shortcuts.

Can Easel output an entire web page? - meaning can I layout an entire page then get a zipped download of the page plus any CSS and JavaScript resources?

iusable 2 days ago 1 reply      
Instantly fell in love with this.

Thank you for not trying to dumb down the UX with an 'easy to use' UI. It's clearly an 'easy to learn' UI and I can't wait to get that invite.

thejerz 3 days ago 1 reply      
This is cool. I like the concept. I'm hoping that someone can create a web app that reduces the need for Photoshop. You guys are off to an auspicious start. Great work!

My only comment is that the UI was confusing for me. After 60 seconds of playing around, here are a few ideas to consider (if you wish):

1) The "inspector" window on the right seemed to change a lot. I know contextual "inspectors" are standard UI practice, but as an Easel noob something about your implementation was confusing to me. (For example, why when I click one of the rounded buttons does the inspector say "Rectangle" and when I click another one it says "Element?")

2) There were a lot of icons that I couldn't understand at first glance. Icons are okay, but too many unfamiliar ones makes me confused. (i.e., What does the "lightning bolt" mean?)

3) At one point I had the menu bar at the top, the tools bar on the left (a la photoshop), the contextual inspector on the right, and another floating window open on the bottom left. It just felt overwhelming having so many controls open. (That was when I instinctually closed the Easel window.) Maybe you could anchor all of the floating inspectors into 1 group on the right, like Photoshop does.

4) The circles for the 2 colors is confusing to me. (What does the number inside of the second circle mean? Why do many other graphics app use 2 squares instead of 2 circles?)

5) Fields in the inspector weren't labeled. For example, when I select the "easel.io" logo at the top of the page, one of the fields in the inspector says "Lobster." As a font nerd I know that must the "font" field, but do you expect every user to know this? Some labels, or icons like Photoshop's font inspector, would help me understand what each field does. (http://i.imgur.com/CAY88.png)

Overall the UI just felt overwhelming. There was too much "unfamiliar" stuff and not enough "familiar stuff."

A good article is "Interfaces for Staying in the Flow" by Bederson/UMD HCI. On the first page there's Figure 1 (http://hcil2.cs.umd.edu/trs/2003-37/2003-37.pdf), which shows how flow is derived from a balance of skills and challenges revealed over time. My feedback is there were too many challenges in Easel at first. In terms of Figure 1, that would be a low x-axis value and a high y-axis value. This would indicate the UI may create "anxious" users.

If I may, I'd also recommend a little bit of "convention over configuration" for the UI. Although DHH talks about this in re: a codebase, I think the rule applies equally well for the UI. If there's a standard way that apps do something, try and stick with it. For example, canvas size isn't something you usually find directly embedded into a menu.

In short: I would suggest making the "basic features" more "familiar" looking at first; this way, people can get started making sites right away. Then, bury the "detail features" further in the UI so that if you want to do more complex tasks you have to spend more time learning the program. Benderson's article does a great job explaining all of this.

On a totally separate note, "Easel" is an excellent name for this product... and in this business, the name matters a lot.

mkl 2 days ago 1 reply      
Hi, this seems neat. Some points:

In Chrome 19.0.1084.52 on Ubuntu, I'm getting told to use Apple command key shortcuts.

There is no scrollbar. The scroll wheel works, but the site captures the middle mouse button (without using it?), so grab and drag (with the chromeTouch extension) doesn't work.

The little instruction sequences would make a lot more sense if they said what was happening. E.g. instead of "hold shift, click the text", "hold shift and click the text to frob the whatsit".

Grids and columns seem limited and too much work for aligning things. Check out what Inkscape can do.

There seem to be functions that are inaccessible if you don't know their keyboard shortcuts, or perhaps just not working for me, e.g. selecting multiple objects (not shift, control, or alt?!), making a group.

jashkenas 2 days ago 0 replies      
Thanks to some quick turnaround from the Easel guys, just added it to the Backbone.js homepage here:


flixic 3 days ago 2 replies      
Does "Download as PNG" menu action in File menu work for anyone? That is the only feature I care about, and I haven't seen anything like that before.
callmeed 3 days ago 0 replies      
You should take a look at Unbounce. While they're targeting landing pages, their page editor does this the right way IMO.

What I'd personally like to see is a JS in-browser page editor that is (a) built on top of Twitter Bootstrap (b) open source and (c) integrate-able with other sites much like rich-text editors are.

I think you could still tack on a paid service to it, but starting with the above would be gold, Jerry, gold!

biot 3 days ago 1 reply      
A minor bug: if you change a value in a text field (such as the Y offset for a drop shadow) and click the OK button, the value is not saved. You need to first make the focus go out of the text field and then click the OK button.
digitalengineer 2 days ago 1 reply      
Great idea guys! I can already see myself designing something and building a quick real-world prototype and sharing the url of that with clients.
So much better than designing/wireframing something, creating a 1000-layer mockup in photoshop, sending over a dozen JPEGS to the client and explaining what's what.
As a designer the interface is a nobrainer. I can just step in and get to work. Very easy! Nice to see 960 grids-support as well!
I understand there's no liquid-layout support but thats okay. It's not the most important thing. (And I feel you could always add support for that later).
One tip: I see the vector-drawing tool and an image import tool. How about vector-import?
untog 3 days ago 2 replies      
To be clear- does this generate HTML, or just images that are accurate in terms of what is possible with a browser?
sandijs 1 day ago 0 replies      
It's a interesting problem you guys are tackling and your progress is very impressive! I like the UI! And for sure it's good that more people are working to make web design more enjoyable. For some time I was wondering why there are so many new frameworks for coding emerging and way less 'visual frameworks' designers can use.
That's why we are building one " focusing on freedom and responsive websites rather than code, something Photoshop can not handle for sure. More at http://www.froont.com.
Anyhow we are living in very interesting times! Looking forward to see how Easel.io will evolve!
mwill 2 days ago 1 reply      
I was a a bit bummed when I realised that slick scrolling is canvas. It feels outstanding on my mac trackpad. It's a very 'appy' web-app, if that makes sense.

It wasn't until I read the comments here that I realised that this doesn't actually export html/css. It's still a downright slick mockup tool.

gizzlon 2 days ago 0 replies      
Cool :)

Two notes:

  - I'm not on a mac so don't give me mac shortcuts
- Control+Shift+E is already bound in firefox (and it's a very handy shortcut)

fendrak 3 days ago 1 reply      
This strikes me as a good mix of Balsalmiq (www.balsalmiq.com) and Photoshop.

One of my pet peeves is getting mockups from designers that clearly fail to take the actual abilities of browsers into account. Hopefully, this can change that, while still giving them the design freedom they want!

jkeel 2 days ago 0 replies      
My favorite part is the HTML/CSS snippet generation. Many times I've had to play around with the CSS in Chrome inspector to get what I wanted. While it's not hard, I do like to be able to mock something up like this and then get the css.
dsrguru 3 days ago 1 reply      
The "Make me pretty" section doesn't render properly for me under Firefox 13.0 on Arch Linux, but it looks right in Chromium. Here's what it looks like in Firefox:


DigitalSea 3 days ago 1 reply      
I'm a web application nerd and I really think you're onto something here. As an initial offering this app has a lot of promise and I can't wait to see what else you guys do with it in the future. Everyone will be designing (pretty shortly) in their browsers it's only a matter of time with the advent of cloud computing.
benblodgett 2 days ago 0 replies      
Personally I don't see how this would save me time, I would rather just design in html/css.
iamhenry 2 days ago 0 replies      
I've tried to tackle this very same problem. I've been doing a lot of UX work for a native Mac OS, which would allow you to design similar to PS but use a preview using a Webkit engine.

You can check out the mock I've been working on via my Dribbble site (http://cl.ly/HOrs) and the larger version is attached below that shot as well. If anyone is interested we should definitely sync up and tackle this problem.

I think you you have here is off to a good start but is definitely too basic if you are intending it to take over PS. Would be great for simple prototyping sites though.

alexwolfe 3 days ago 1 reply      
Nice Ben, great to see this app continuing to get better. I'm really digging the Elements Dialog, would love to see that expand.
aik 3 days ago 2 replies      
Cool. One of the things that confuses me though are the hotkeys (control+shift+5 turns the div into a button? not very intuitive). Instead of hotkeys, I'd prefer to be told how to do it normally (in some intuitive way).
skyhook_mockups 3 days ago 0 replies      
Congrats on putting out a great looking alpha. One question I have: The entire layout is being drawn inside of a canvas. Why was this decision made? Since (at least partly) the purpose of your tool is to output css it seems that you have tasked yourself with recreating CSS rendering inside of a canvas. Seems like a huge and unnecessary burden when just outside of the canvas you have this rendering tool specifically designed to render CSS.
btucker 3 days ago 1 reply      
Very cool. Is there "snap to grid" functionality?
agumonkey 3 days ago 0 replies      
I had a funny satisfaying feeling to have a free Illustrator Licence for a minute.

That said I agree that, as cool and well delivered, it's against the fluid/responsive web we're in.

yesimahuman 3 days ago 1 reply      
Nice Ben! Good luck with everything. We will be testing it in the future and will give you feedback :)
capex 3 days ago 0 replies      
For standard webpage elements, this would work great. But for more customized styles, you'll still be using Photoshop or pen-paper and then jump onto this.
benmccann 3 days ago 1 reply      
It's impossible to use in Chrome 19 on Win 7 because the scrollbars are missing.
twodayslate 3 days ago 0 replies      
I'll stick with Photoshop and Sublime Text 2. Thanks though, it was fun to play around with for a while.
kposehn 3 days ago 0 replies      

Just, wow.

premise 2 days ago 0 replies      
I'm sorry, my Firefox said that the script was unresponsive, I clicked ‘Continue,' and everything remained sort of frozen.
sycren 3 days ago 2 replies      
I'm more interested in the infinite canvas feel. How did they do that?
ericingram 3 days ago 1 reply      
Looks nice, is it or will it be open source?
blyxa 3 days ago 0 replies      
Looks like this webpage is drawn in Canvas. Can this tool translate the entire Canvas content to a HTML doc that I can then publish?
jcfrei 3 days ago 0 replies      
very nice and fast - definitely by leaps and bounds more intuitive than the old dreamweaver I was using some 10 years ago!
dgcoffman 3 days ago 0 replies      
How is this useful? I can edit colors, border radius, box shadow, line height, font, positioning, and alignment in real time on a real HTML mockup using Firebug, webkit developer tools, even the Internet Explorer F12 tools.

Web design mockups that include these things should be done in HTML and CSS. WYSIWYG editors are crippling for professionals and poison for amateurs.

ravejk 3 days ago 2 replies      
Looks a lot like getmarquee.com, only not as impressive.
fredsters_s 3 days ago 2 replies      
There's no way this won't kill Photoshop for web design
chrisrickard 2 days ago 0 replies      
jinkers.. one of the best webapps iv'e seen
bretthellman 3 days ago 0 replies      
Very nice. What's next for Easel?
ukd1 3 days ago 1 reply      
This is AWESOME!
GNU Emacs 24.1 released gnu.org
320 points by alexott  7 days ago   73 comments top 20
Garbage 7 days ago 1 reply      
New features:

- New packaging system and interface (M-x list-packages) for
downloading and installing extensions. A default package archive is
hosted by GNU and maintained by the Emacs developers.

- Support for displaying and editing bidirectional text, including
right-to-left scripts such as Arabic and Hebrew.

- Support for lexical scoping in Emacs Lisp.

- Improvements to the Custom Themes system (M-x customize-themes).

- Unified and improved completion system in many modes and packages.

- Support for GnuTLS (for built-in TLS/SSL encryption), GTK+ 3,
ImageMagick, SELinux, and Libxml2.

This looks great. :)

barik 7 days ago 4 replies      
This means that I can finally try out Emacs Prelude [1]. Fantastic!

I've been wanting to check it out for a while, but I haven't been brave enough to run a non-stable release of GNU Emacs.


carterschonwald 7 days ago 2 replies      
Woah, emacs lisp now has lexical scoping
onedognight 7 days ago 3 replies      
Precompiled binaries for Emacs 24.1 are already available for OS X at http://emacsformacosx.com/ .
gcv 7 days ago 1 reply      
There's a slightly annoying regression (to Emacs 22, behavior, I believe) in the Mac version. Some Unicode characters (like ", “, and ”) cause the line to expand in height slightly. Does anyone know of a fix?
munchor 7 days ago 0 replies      
Awesome release! I've been waiting for this for a long time now. It will be in Arch Linux's repositories in a few hours.

The package system is awesome, no more hassle installing plugins and extensions!

Great job GNU, thank you!

mih 7 days ago 3 replies      
Any idea when the precompiled Windows version will be released? Currently there seems to be no build http://ftp.gnu.org/pub/gnu/emacs/windows/
jmount 7 days ago 0 replies      
And it doesn't see control modifiers when used through Lion OSX screen sharing (seems a lot like this bug: http://xquartz.macosforge.org/trac/ticket/180 ).
Deutscher 7 days ago 1 reply      
Does anyone know if/when it will be available via Ubuntu Software Center or some PPA? I am on Ubuntu 12.04.
jmount 7 days ago 4 replies      
OSX build seems to work really well:

./configure --with-gif=no --with-ns
make install

cbp 7 days ago 1 reply      
Someday there will be a version where the new feature will be an actually useful wiki :p
vamega 7 days ago 0 replies      
I've been using the pretests for a while now, and the built in package manager has been an absolute joy to work with.

If I were to begin writing extensions, I'd also probably enjoy the lexical scoping a lot more.

st3fan 7 days ago 2 replies      
So what is your favorite new feature?
alexott 7 days ago 0 replies      
At the end of http://wikemacs.org/wiki/GNU_Emacs_24 page, there are links to posts that describe changes in new version
Xyzodiac 7 days ago 1 reply      
So does that mean it's officially stable? This is great news.
kcbanner 7 days ago 0 replies      
Great news!
aashu_dwivedi 7 days ago 1 reply      
the only time i hate the packaging system [apt] is when a new version of some software is released
drstrangevibes 7 days ago 1 reply      
oh frabjous day!
drstrangevibes 6 days ago 0 replies      
any decent mode for java yet? :-\
fungo 7 days ago 0 replies      
wait for long time, really great!
Magenta - "It is fully binary compatible with iPhone OS 5.0" crna.cc
321 points by mparlane  8 days ago   124 comments top 21
kvnn 8 days ago 5 replies      
This is the sort of person that I want to be engaged with:

* highly opinionated

* driven by personal interest

* not afraid to go down the worm hole and come up with little public recognition and enormous personal gain

This is the sort of project that makes me grin:

* highly engrossing project page

* mysterious motivations

* unknown implications

* legally ambiguous

I love this shit. Keep it up, Christina.

cs702 8 days ago 0 replies      
I love it: hacking for the sake of hacking, just to have fun.

Christina's announcement reminds me a little bit of Linus Torvalds's 'this won't amount to anything' post to comp.os.minix on August 25, 1991.[1]

I'm by no means suggesting or implying that Magenta will be as successful as Linux or anything like that, just that the announcements posted by Christina and Linus strike me as very similar in tone and attitude :-)

[1] https://groups.google.com/group/comp.os.minix/msg/b813d52cbc...

christina_b 8 days ago  replies      
By the way, the sources are up on http://crna.cc/ now.
10dpd 8 days ago 2 replies      
"You may ask, why am I doing this? The answer is: no f'ing idea :)"

Love it.

nitrogen 8 days ago 0 replies      
I look forward to seeing Phoronix fan the OS war flames by benchmarking Linux running BSD binaries vs. BSD running Linux binaries.

More importantly, what planet do you come from, and is it accepting immigrants?

robot 8 days ago 1 reply      
We can easily virtualize this and run it aside Android on Galaxy Nexus.

But that would be meaningful only if it was possible to run iOS apps:

* Will it run iPhone OS apps?
* No, because I'm not aiming to have compatible high level frameworks. Just think
about how much work is required to have a 100% compatible implementation of UIKit
or Celestial. HOWEVER, the CoreOS part should be 100% (or 99%) compatible. Just not
the higher level OS. If you're just interested in this because it will "run iOS apps"
please go away.

I wonder if it would be possible to port the binary ios stack.

zvrba 8 days ago 0 replies      
And this is announced just after the judge has decided APIs are not copyrightable!
zmanji 8 days ago 1 reply      
If this can run CoreFoundation, then can't anyone with the iOS SDK target this platform with no modifications to the SDK?
RandallBrown 8 days ago 3 replies      
I'm a little confused as to what this actually is. It's a version of linux that can run apps compiled for the iPhone?
tantalor 8 days ago 1 reply      
flatline3 8 days ago 1 reply      
There are a number of past projects very similar to this one. The two I remember off-hand:

- http://hcpnet.free.fr/applebsd.html -- NetBSD in-kernel COMPAT_MACH / COMPAT_DARWIN support. This got to the point of being able to run XDarwin, which is a pretty major step towards being able to run the WindowServer: http://hcpnet.free.fr/xdarwin.jpeg

- https://github.com/shinh/maloader -- A user-space Mach-O binary loader. The only goal was to be able to run Apple's binary toolchain on Linux, which it is able to do.

It's very possible to implement the necessary kernel APIs to run Mac / iOS Darwin binaries. Where you run into trouble is the massive software stack that sits on top of those OS APIs.

Without $10M or more to spend on development, it's simply not feasible to produce full binary-compatible replacements for Apple's software frameworks. The best you can hope for is to copy over Apple's software from a real installation, and then run it atop your own kernel.

I love hacks like this, so god speed to christina_b. This is awesome.

To those of you telling the Christina to put her work on github to get contributors, I don't think that is particularly helpful advice. The barrier to entry on a project like this has nothing to do with the SCM being used.

bprater 8 days ago 1 reply      
What is Magenta -- in plain english? And what does binary compatible with iOS 5 mean?
sciurus 8 days ago 1 reply      
This makes me wonder how long until there is a project that tries to reimplement the ios libraries, similar to what GNUstep is doing for Cocoa.


kqa5 8 days ago 0 replies      
An open source smartphone OS that

- you can compile yourself easily

- which has a real command line and

- is not controlled by some company.

This would be most welcome.

Palm-sized "UNIX". A true opens source "UNIX phone". No company-controlled virtual machines or high level GUI frameworks. Lower complexity, less bloat, same communication functionality.

SomeCallMeTim 8 days ago 2 replies      
It's a cute tech demo, but:

   * Will it run iPhone OS apps?
* No, because I'm not aiming to have compatible high level frameworks. Just think
about how much work is required to have a 100% compatible implementation of UIKit
or Celestial. HOWEVER, the CoreOS part should be 100% (or 99%) compatible. Just not
the higher level OS. If you're just interested in this because it will "run iOS apps"
please go away.

I think the submission title is deceptive -- by "fully binary compatible" the developer means that it runs executables compiled for iOS.

duaneb 8 days ago 0 replies      
How do you deal with mach/whatever calls inside the darwin userland? Do you just replace them with equivalent linux/bsd calls?
ajasmin 8 days ago 1 reply      
Does it use some of the open source Darwin code from Apple?
tomrod 8 days ago 1 reply      
Cool. So what does this mean it can do? Run iPhone OS apps?
shuri 8 days ago 0 replies      
very cool
qqyy 7 days ago 0 replies      
Would it be possible to have a Linux kernel with all it's up-to-the-minute hardware support together with a BSD userland maybe via DarwinPorts?[1]

For users who prefer a BSD userland to the one GNU offers, this would be magnificent.

1. e.g. Debian is doing the reverse: FreeBSD kernel and GNU userland.

sounds 8 days ago 2 replies      
Is anyone else theorizing about Apple's response?

whois crna.cc: WhoisGuard protected. WhoisGuard is in L.A; a subpoena and "Christina" could find the ICS logo on her site and a DMCA takedown notice for distributing "tools used to violate copyright."

crna.cc says "Will it run iPhone OS apps? * No". But Apple is already suing Samsung for the Galaxy Tab, Nexus S, and Epic 4G [1] [2], so unless nobody is interested in taking this idea to completion, Apple could be an enormous target for cloners.

To me, it's obvious: unlike hardware, where there are still effective barriers to competition, software like iOS is inherently vulnerable to cloning, copying, and being replaced.

[1] http://arstechnica.com/apple/2011/04/bad-touchwiz-apple-sues...

[2] http://arstechnica.com/apple/2012/05/apple-samsung-walk-away...

Introducing Syte, An open sourced personal site that has social integrations rigoneri.com
309 points by rigoneri  5 days ago   75 comments top 39
graue 5 days ago 1 reply      
This is very, very cool. One request: would you consider making the color thing not part of the license but just a "polite request"? I understand where you're coming from and have no problem complying, but it's a little confusing and unclear what the legal implications of the rule might be. For example, what if someone forks it and changes the design, getting rid of the border around the pic entirely? I think your rule is very reasonable, but would be better enforced through the honor system, not the law. (Or edit it to make it clear it's not part of the license.)

Also, I personally found it surprising that a second click on one of the social links (e.g. Github) opens the full page on Github. I expected it to be a toggle where the second click would make the Github tab disappear. Not sure if that's just me, but maybe a separate "pull out" or "full window" icon you can click would be more intuitive.

SkyMarshal 5 days ago 1 reply      
Very nice work. One suggestion: since it's obviously aimed at programmers, you should add programmer-oriented blog options besides Tumblr, especially the static blogs running from Github pages like Octopress, Jekyll, etc.

My prior blog was on Posterous, which was acquired by Twitter and all development work halted. It was truly a pain in the ass the get my blog posts and pictures out of it (they have an API, but no single API call get the entire blog in one tar/zip bundle, you have to script the whole thing).

Having experienced that I'll never use a 3rd party blog service again. I recently got everything back up and running in Octopress, and even if Tumblr or Blogspot embrace 'data liberation' and create an easy way to export your content, I don't care, it's just one thing I don't ever want to have to think about again.

Pretty sure I'm not the only programmer that feels that way, and who would otherwise love to use Syte but for its limitation to Tumblr.

shortformblog 5 days ago 5 replies      
Spotted a bug on this. If you go back or forward in your browser to a blog post, it just shows a bunch of JSON code. You have to reload to get the site to properly show.
jtchang 5 days ago 0 replies      
Thank you. I've been thinking about putting up a personal site for a while but never got around to it. I tend to be one of those "consumers of content" rather than producers (especially when it comes to blogposts). Hopefully this will change but this looks totally in line with what I am looking for!
yaix 5 days ago 1 reply      
The design has a problem on my eeepc, because I can only see half of the menu items on the left. I know that "position:fixed" is the "chic" thing to use currently, but still: don't. It almost always causes some problem.
lylejohnson 5 days ago 1 reply      
The author's web site (http://rigoneri.com/) is cited as an example "Syte", but when I view that page on my iPad the right-hand side of the page is chopped off. Doesn't seem to be all that responsive (despite the author's claims).
troels 5 days ago 1 reply      
Clicking on twitter en the menu just takes me to the twitter account. I guess I'm missing something?
lancefisher 5 days ago 2 replies      
This looks really cool, the world needs more stuff like this.

One minor complaint is with the scrollable slide-outs. When you scroll down through a slide-out like the Instagram one, and reach the bottom, the page behind starts scrolling.

This is a common problem, and why I dislike using scrollable areas on web pages in the first place. There must be a good way to fix this. I just don't want the outside area to scroll when my context is inside the small scrollable area.

damncabbage 5 days ago 1 reply      
{"meta":{"status":200,"msg":"OK"},"response":{"blog":{"title":"rigoneri's blog","posts":11,"name":"rigoneri","url":"http:\/\/blog.rigoneri.com\/","updated":1339467147,"description":"","ask":false,"likes":0},"posts":[ ... ]}

How does Google take to this? As far as I can tell it has to evaluate the JS before it can crawl the site; I got a few seconds of "Loading..." after the page had finished loading while it was pulling in the JSON.

rurounijones 5 days ago 1 reply      
JavaScript required to view the blog postings is a slight turn-off. What is the reasoning for it?
pssdbt 5 days ago 0 replies      
This is pretty cool, good work.

If you're a web developer+designer, it's probably not as useful, but for everyone else it rocks - and I hope to see people use/customize it to their liking. I love how it pulls so many services together. It seems like there's still some desire for some basic template for blogging after Dustin Curtis' last ordeal and now this, although it kind of seems like Twitter's Bootstrap has solved all of those basic problems for a lot of people.

est 5 days ago 0 replies      
Anyone remember Friendfeed?
nchlswu 5 days ago 1 reply      
I love the concept.

Design-wise, I see a lot of things that remind me of svbtle (not trying to imply anything, just thought it was interesting)

arihant 5 days ago 0 replies      
I don't see the Contact and Fork Me on Github links on left when accessing from my Macbook. There should be a scrollbar.
rgrieselhuber 5 days ago 0 replies      
The idea reminds me of Sweetcron, from a few years back.
holic 5 days ago 0 replies      
I love the idea, design, and choice of frameworks/libraries, but I have one beef: I really, really dislike sites that prevent me from clicking with my middle mouse button. I open almost all links in new tabs using my middle mouse button and, currently, I can't do this on Syte.
ckluis 5 days ago 0 replies      
This is ridiculously beautiful personal site them. My only complaint is that it requires a separate site for the posting of content.

If I was a talented dev, I think I would have potentially taken the Svbtle style wordpress backend and used wordpress as the blogging engine so the site and posts came from the same controlled source. A theme that integrates with Twitter, GitHub, Dribble as well as this one would do insanely well on Themeforest.

johanbrook 5 days ago 0 replies      
Another site with responsive design and doesn't fix the sidebar with "position: fixed" in narrow viewports. Filed issue here: https://github.com/rigoneri/syte/issues/7
willieavendano 5 days ago 0 replies      
THANK YOU SO MUCH! I've been thinking about how to go about setting up my personal site, and this is a perfect combination of producing and consuming/aggregating from my other services. Definitely going to start playing around with this.
atestu 5 days ago 0 replies      
Great idea and above all great execution.

One suggestion to improve the UX: rename "contact" to "email me", it's not obvious this tab will act differently than others and a lot of people don't use the email client installed on their computer.

bawllz 5 days ago 0 replies      
Woah thats a fantastic idea you have put together there. Well done sir!
jeremya 5 days ago 0 replies      
As mentioned by others, syte currently requires javascript to view blog posts.

For my projects, I have a little trouble deciding when it is ok to require javascript be enabled. What is the general consensus? Is progressive enhancement no longer a concern? How do you start new web projects, with javascript added after basic functionality is established or with it at the core?

emehrkay 5 days ago 0 replies      
Good work. I was thinking of something along the lines of Diaspora, but on a smaller scale. You kinda nailed it.
edwinyzh 5 days ago 0 replies      
I really like the looking of it. And good to know is written in Python (Python is my choice for server-side development, so I customize it).
f4stjack 5 days ago 0 replies      
Hell, yes. This is one of the kickass ideas I've ever seen in a while. Simple, matter of fact and very usable. Thanks!
simonbrown 5 days ago 0 replies      
When I click a link that goes to another page and then click back, my scroll position isn't preserved.
Flam 4 days ago 0 replies      
You know, this is one step towards creating the "next" facebook. Well done, keep it up.
bhashkarsharma 5 days ago 0 replies      
Thanks for building it :)
I loved the part about having responsive design baked in and it being on top of django (since that's one framework I know the best). Myself have been thinking of building something similar for a while.
zerostar07 5 days ago 0 replies      
Very nice, but consider smaller screens. There is no way to scroll the left sidebar
nichodges 5 days ago 0 replies      
Brilliant. This is one of those things I've always had in the back of my mind but never got around to doing.
Especially love the responsive design. However the slide out twitter/GitHub etc. don't scroll on the iPad.
justindocanto 5 days ago 1 reply      
I really wanted to hate this, but this is actually really well done. Great integration while making it feel native to the site. I love this.
pashamur 5 days ago 0 replies      
Wow, this is totally awesome! I'm going to give it a whirl tomorrow. I just switched from Django to Ruby on Rails and fell in love with the framework, so maybe I'll try porting Syte to Rails someday.
millerfung 5 days ago 0 replies      
One more thing, when I am browsing your site on the iPad, the social integration is not working perfectly, e.g. Can't scroll your tweets..etc
martindale 5 days ago 1 reply      
This is pretty cool, I've been wanting to build something almost identical to this using node.js. Inspiration, this is!
vu0tran 5 days ago 0 replies      
Alright. I'll bite. I'll deploy it tomorrow and give it a whirl and see how it stands up :)
kalmsy 5 days ago 0 replies      
Very good job. And props for setting it loose! Love the git integration :)
fakhrazeyev 5 days ago 0 replies      
What's different from posterous, Wordpress, tumblr, et al?
chriswesallen 5 days ago 1 reply      
This is very cool
dain 5 days ago 0 replies      
Horrible border around the image. And no mention of your inspiration? Come on man, you even use the same spelling type. We can't change the border? Seriously...that's ridiculous.
Why Smart People Are Stupid newyorker.com
291 points by mshafrir  5 days ago   212 comments top 50
lmkg 5 days ago  replies      
The research is using SAT score as a proxy for general intelligence... I wonder if this sort of heuristic short-cutting actually correlates with test-taking ability more than it correlates with intellgence.

A lot of "test-taking" training basically consists of saving time by training away from full reasoning, in favor of cheap-and-good-enough heuristics. Furthermore, those heuristics are over-fitted to the particular problem types on standardized tests. I wonder how much of this study is actually measuring their ability to trigger test-taking instincts on problem types they're not designed for.

gojomo 5 days ago 7 replies      
The bat-ball and lily-pad questions are 2 of the 3 questions on a short test called the 'Cognitive Reflection Test' (or 'CRT') meant to measure whether people make the effort to think beyond the obvious (but wrong) answer.

By using those examples, after its headline, this article seems to imply smarter people do worse on these CRT questions. But that is not what I've read elsewhere -- which is that the CRT is positively correlated with other quantitative measures of intelligence (including IQ scores, SATs, and high-school/collegiate grades). 'Smart' people (by those measures) do tend to do better on the CRT.

And if you read this article carefully, you see that while it uses these two CRT questions as examples of tricky questions, when it discusses the results about awareness-of-bias not helping alleviate bias, it isn't necessarily saying smart people do worse on those two CRT questions. It's a bit muddled in what it's saying, and reviewing the linked abstract doesn't help much either. The paper is evaluating some very specific things under the umbrella term 'cognitive sophistication', which might not map to what we usually call 'smart' or even 'test-smart'.

BTW, I personally think the CRT may be especially useful for evaluating software/systems proficiency. The bat-ball question probes understanding of algebra; the lily-pad question probes understanding of geometric growth (and someone accustomed to powers-of-2 will find it easier); the third question probes understanding of parallelism and projected-rates-of-work.

That third question happens to be:

"If it takes 5 machines 5 minutes to make 5 widgets, how long would it take 100 machines to make 100 widgets?"

(A software person might also think of it as: "If it takes 5 cores to compress 5 GB in 5 minutes, how long would it take 100 cores to compress 100 GB?")

tokenadult 5 days ago 4 replies      
Link to the study linked in the article (PubMed prepublication abstract):


The psychologist Keith R. Stanovich is quite controversial among other psychologists precisely because he writes about what high-IQ people miss in their thinking, but his studies point to very thought-provoking data and deserve to be grappled with by other psychologists. I have enjoyed his full-length book What Intelligence Tests Miss


which meticulously cites much of the previous literature on human cognitive biases and other gaps in rationality of human thinking.

And here is the submitted article's link to a description of the Need for Cognition Scale:


dools 5 days ago 2 replies      
I'm reading the book Priceless by William Poundstone which discusses the work of Kahneman and Tversky (among others) in great detail as it relates to the psychology of pricing (excellent read, btw).

This is O.T from what the article is saying but mildly O.T (meaning on-topic) and I'd love to hear HN's opinion on this.

One of the problems presented in Priceless is:

Would you rather $3,000 as a sure thing, or an 80% chance of $4,000 and a 20% chance of nothing


Would you rather a $3,000 loss as a sure thing, or an 80% chance of losing $4,000 and a 20% chance of losing nothing.

The erroneous path that most people take, in the eyes of these researchers, is that they set their base reference point at the sure thing, ie. they say "well the $3,000 is a sure thing so I can assume I have it".

If you do that, then your answers are different:

In the first instance you keep the $3,000 (because it becomes an 80% chance of winning $1,000 versus a 20% chance of losing $3,000).

In the second instance you go to court (because it's an 80% chance of losing $1,000 versus a 20% chance of winning $3,000).

However if you don't "rebase" your reference point, then you would make the same decision in both cases - that is you would take the 80% of $4,000 bet because it's "worth" $3,200.

As much as I realise what they're saying and they say it's statistically incorrect to do this, it really seems to me the most sensible way to make the decisions (which is, I guess, exactly what they're saying right? I'm human, ergo fallible to this kind of illusion).

The thing that kills me is this: if this is a one time thing, I'd rather be sure of the $3,000. If I'm buying and selling these bets all day, then sure I should take the $4,000 at 80% because even if I lose this round, the next time I take the bet will make up for it (ie. law of large numbers).

But what this problem doesn't address is how often I get this opportunity? Depending on my circumstances, $3,000 could be a life changing opportunity, ie. if I "win" $3,000 or $4,000, my circumstances are essentially the same so I should always go for the sure thing. If I lose $3,000 or $4,000 I'm equally screwed, so I should take the risk and try and win in court.

What am I missing?

Jun8 5 days ago 3 replies      
"Although we assume that intelligence is a buffer against bias"that's why those with higher S.A.T. scores think they are less prone to these universal thinking mistakes..."

This fallacy is at the heart of the matter. Intelligence and resistance against bias are only loosely correlated. Such resistance comes not from intelligence but from careful study and mental exercise, e.g. looking at various important ethical and philosophical arguments and analyzing them.

This is like saying all large people are strong. There is some dependance but a smaller gym-fly can kick a slacker giant's ass. The sad thing, while it is obvious that you have to exercise your body to be healthy and strong, the fact that the same is quite through fro your brain is often overlooked.

crazygringo 5 days ago 2 replies      
This explains, when you look in your git repository for who created a bug...

When you find it and it's by someone else, it was obviously a stupid, idiotic error that you would never make.

When you find it and it's your own, it was obviously an understandable mistake that anybody could have made.

Particularly if you consider yourself a great coder.


keiferski 5 days ago 4 replies      
Intelligence is overrated as a metric, from the get-go. Being smart doesn't mean anything - accomplishing something, whether that be writing a book, founding a company, making a new scientific discovery, sculpting a masterpiece, etc., is a much better metric.

Unfortunately everyone seems to be hung up on the "idea" of being smart, as if having a high IQ somehow constitutes an accomplishment.

DavidWoof 5 days ago 3 replies      
For the types of testing that he's doing, I suspect he's measuring boredom more than anything else, especially since he's testing largely in a university setting. Intelligent people are accustomed to being bored with endless entry-level evaluation exams, and at first glance this looks like it's just one more of them. And because the stakes here are so low (essentially zero), lots of people will just fly through without really reading and analyzing the question.

What he's seeing isn't something new, it's something so old that it's part of popular culture: the absent-minded professor syndrome. It's the stereotype of the brilliant physicist forgets what he's supposed to buy at the supermarket because he's thinking about their quantum properties. Analytic people are horrible at things that don't interest them.

Pay the students $50 for each correct answer, and there's not a doubt in my mind that the results will be the complete opposite of what he's seeing now.

moron 5 days ago 1 reply      
I notice this all the time, all over the place. It drives me nuts, to the point that I am now extremely skeptical of what we call "intelligence". Taleb's "The Black Swan" really opened my eyes to this. He talks a lot about how we reason in ways that do not correspond to reality.

I don't know what right is, but I know the way we currently think about intelligence is wrong.

pjscott 5 days ago  replies      
If you'd rather not just accept your current level of cognitive bias, the web site Less Wrong has a bunch of articles by and for people trying to become less wrong about things. Anecdotally, I've noticed that people I know via the Less Wrong community tend to be decidedly less full of crap than average, so it seems to work. For example, here's a series of articles on the subject of avoiding excessive attachment to false beliefs, which I found to be generally entertaining and insightful:


Any of those articles are a good place to start, so don't be intimidated by the amount of stuff there.

planetguy 5 days ago 0 replies      
Now that's the kind of headline I'd give to my article if I wanted it to reach the top of the HN front page.
wissler 5 days ago 1 reply      
No, research did't show that "we do this" or "our approach is that" or "humans aren't rational" -- what the research showed is that the typical person does this or that.

A similar experiment where people draw the wrong conclusions is the Milgram experiment. Yes, most people are obedient to authority figures and do what they are told. But not everyone acts that way.

This research likes to sweep the best human beings under the rug, as if being virtuous is not something to try to emulate, but is something to hide. This explains why the majority of people act the way they do. Perhaps if they were taught that their "we're only human" vices are not the ideal to emulate, perhaps if the best that humanity had to offer were put forth as the ideal instead, then these lesser human beings who make up the majority would become what they might be and ought to be.

Jabbles 5 days ago 1 reply      
FYI the tallest tree in the world is ~ 116 m or 379 feet.


Sander_Marechal 4 days ago 0 replies      
I highly recommend reading "Predictably Irrational" by Dan Ariely if you thought this article was interesting. It covers exactly this subject and makes for fascinating reading. I picked up the book about a week ago via some other post linked here on HN and I'm loving it.


jakeonthemove 5 days ago 1 reply      
Well, at least people are collectively smarter today compared to 100 years ago - the percentage of people who can answer those questions correctly has gone up considerably :-)...

Also, I just hate these kind of questions - they've always been used to prove that I'm stupid by those who knew the answers, and they're not solving anything useful - I need the problem to solve something I care about in order for my brain to fully focus on it and "do the math"...

ilaksh 5 days ago 0 replies      
My takeaway is that smart people are in fact fairly dumb, in other words even fairly bright specimens of homo sapiens make stupid mistakes and irrational decisions quite often because of this shortcutting.

I also think that on the other hand those types of shortcuts are actually probably very useful aspects of our human intelligence.

I think that within 50 years or so we will see new species/upgraded humans or AIs that actually don't have those problems, because they will have built-in checks and alternative types of intelligence that rely on those shortcuts less.

arihant 5 days ago 0 replies      
Got the lily pad one. I still cannot believe I said 10 cents on the first one with a completely non-sarcastic chuckle.

This article reminds me of pg's reasons to have a co-founder to avoid being delusional. Better be proven wrong on the inside than on the outside.

edit: Although on second thought, I think this bias theory probably extends to organizations as well. Probably that's why big companies sometimes can't see the obvious which a startup does.

sageikosa 5 days ago 3 replies      
Got the ball and bat one right, and the lily pad one. I must not be as smart as I hoped :-(

I think it comes down to having a value system where you'd rather be wrong and corrected (even if you have to do it yourself), as opposed to always projecting yourself as"perfect". Once you accept you aren't perfect, its easier to work towards perfecting what you've got.

numeromancer 4 days ago 0 replies      
Here's a good mental test for the author:

When you're done with an article for the "Frontal Cortex" section, read it aloud to yourself and smack yourself in the head with a frozen herring for every time you use the word "we", "us" or "our" in your article. If you have a headache when you're done, burn the draft and rethink the whole thing, b/c your article obviously suffers from a "smug we" bias.

cyclic 5 days ago 2 replies      
For all of the high and mightiness of this article, this bugged me:

In a lake, there is a patch of lily pads. Every day, the patch doubles in size. If it takes 48 days for the patch to cover the entire lake, how long would it take for the patch to cover half of the lake?

If a lilypad is 20 square inches (which is probably conservative), and you started with 1 lilypad, after 48 days of doubling it would cover 1.4MILLION square miles. That is 44 times the surface area of Lake Superior.

I get the point of the question, but if you're trying to play "gotcha" on people, at least ask a reasonable question.

nadam 4 days ago 0 replies      
Both those questions are trivial and I answered them correctly. This is in line with the article's conclusion: I don't consider myself very smart. I mean I had some moderate successes in my childhood at math competitions, I am a reasonably good programmer, but I am not very smart. I even failed at the on-site Google interview.

But here is the problem with the article: The people who I consider smarter than me (in the mathematical/IQ sense) also answer these kind of questions correctly. This includes my friend working at Google, some researcher mathematicians who I know from math forums who won serious math competitions as a child, etc... These questions are really-really trivial. The researcher mathematician guy who I know do not even make mistakes on 10x more tricky or hard questions, it is scary how he do not make mistakes and thinks incredibly fast. Something seems to be wrong with this study.

marquis 5 days ago 2 replies      
Well, the ball one I've heard before and the lilypad is obvious if you've been exposed to biology. Is this not more a matter of education not being applied to real-world cases and relying on theoretical teaching?
astrofinch 4 days ago 0 replies      
This finding wouldn't surprise Kahneman, who admits in “Thinking, Fast and Slow” that his decades of groundbreaking research have failed to significantly improve his own mental performance. “My intuitive thinking is just as prone to overconfidence, extreme predictions, and the planning fallacy”"a tendency to underestimate how long it will take to complete a task"“as it was before I made a study of these issues,” he writes.

Doesn't Kahnman distinguish between intuitive and deliberate thinking? So it could be possible to think better by distrusting our intuitions and deliberating more, right?

tetha 5 days ago 0 replies      
This isn't big news for me. It took me about 7 years to understand two courses of high school while finishing my master of science. If you ask me the right question or try to teach me just the right matter in just the right way, a donkey will get it sooner than I do, and I'm talking about possibly years sooner. I might just not see the problem or I might think the wrong way, I don't know. There are things I just don't get.
Jordan_N 5 days ago 0 replies      
All of this is covered (much better)in Kahneman's 'Thinking, Fast and Slow'.
Karunamon 5 days ago 4 replies      
So because I'm suffering from a deep case of the derp today, how are the first guess answers to those questions wrong?
jpwagner 5 days ago 0 replies      
do we all think about the same thing at the same time or does Jonah Lehrer read HN religiously?

i _just_ watched that talk a couple of days ago because it was posted here: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=4082308

javert 5 days ago 0 replies      
New Yorker articles (that get posted here, anyway) always have some sort of take on things that attempts to bring down the good. Same for The Atlantic. I'm not saying they're always false, but there is a certain kind of thing that these publications are interested in, and it's a kind of thing that makes me feel dirty---or as if they're trying to make me feel dirty. Anyone else noticed this?
karolist 4 days ago 0 replies      
These sort of questions always put me into "hold on, think about it" mode and statements like "Your first response is probably to take a shortcut" are simply not true. I'm actually more vulnerable to over-think a problem rather than provide a quick wrong answer.
taylorbuley 5 days ago 0 replies      
I studied "Choice & Behavior" at Penn -- the names Kahneman and Tversky were a common refrain. If you're looking to self-teach, my prof Jon Baron has a great course outline online: http://www.sas.upenn.edu/~baron/p153.html
dutchbrit 4 days ago 0 replies      
I answered the question correctly, which I'm sure the majority here probably did too. When someone asks a simple mathematical question, I always seem to give it more thought since I always know it must be a dodgy question. 4 years ago, I'd probably of answered the question incorrectly. But the baseball question is an obvious mindfuck.
njharman 5 days ago 0 replies      
Comments here reinforce the research.
grandalf 5 days ago 0 replies      
I think that smart people are also prone to falling for headlines like this. The reality is much more complex.
sin7 5 days ago 1 reply      
I don't see why, when smart people are trained to be lazy, researchers are surprised that smart people are lazy.
EricDeb 4 days ago 0 replies      
I remember the SAT as more about checking oneself's first reaction to a problem. They often try to trick you with the obvious answer. The GMAT and GRE were quite similar. I would often have to stop myself from taking shortcuts
antithesis 5 days ago 1 reply      
Just a couple of weeks ago we had an article about why smart people don't think of others as stupid (https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=3984894), and now they're stupid themselves? I'm puzzled.
melvinmt 5 days ago 0 replies      
Where can I find more of these questions?
carsongross 5 days ago 0 replies      
Because they spend all day on HN?
vain 5 days ago 3 replies      
A bat and ball cost a dollar and ten cents. The bat costs a dollar more than the ball

  bat + ball = 1.1
bat = ball + 1
2bat + ball = ball +1.1 +1
2bat = 2.1
bat = 1.05
ball =0.05

DannoHung 5 days ago 0 replies      
English is a terrible language for formalism: News at 11.
akandiah 5 days ago 0 replies      
What did you think of first when you read about the bat and the ball problem? Also, what's your background (e.g. CS, Maths etc.)? As someone who has a relatively strong background in maths, I quickly saw the outlines of a simple, algebraic substituion problem. I'm quite interested in how people analyze problems, so I'd love to see how the HN community approached this.
farinasa 5 days ago 1 reply      
I think this is more an issue of the English language. English is not a good way to speak math or logic. In the bat and ball question I mistakenly (and I'm guessing everyone who got it wrong) ignored the word "more". That word represents an operator and is therefore crucial to the question, but is extremely diminutive in terms of English language.
b1daly 5 days ago 0 replies      
Well I got both those questions right by following the heuristic that the most obvious answer off the top of my head would not be the answer.

To my mind on any test that was supposed to be hard the appearance of any obvious an answer triggers me to check for the proverbial trick question.

On the other hand, most brain puzzler type questions that get discussed on HN (for example interview questions at Google) I find to be damn hard. I can't imagine that "smart" people would do worse than "stupid" people on truly hard problems. I guess that is the area of bias being pointed to in the OP.

phene 5 days ago 0 replies      
I find the abundance of "See? Smart people are actually dumber than I am!" posts amusing.
harrup8 4 days ago 1 reply      
There is a simple cure for smart people to not be stupid, they can detect those errors and bias easily in other people thinking, but not in their own thinking because introspection doesn't work. So the cure is to play as if you were the actor in a theater, that is pretend that you are not yourself when you are thinking. You should imagine you are thinking as a known stupid person and by miracle you get smart and not so stupid.
unlinear 4 days ago 0 replies      
If the lily pad patch was a mere 1 square inch, on the 48th doubling, the pond would have to be (check my math)about 70k square miles - or 10 times the size of Lake Erie. Those lilies would be consuming a serious amount of co2 during that last doubling!
Mordor 4 days ago 0 replies      
Taking more shortcuts as I get older too - a constant battle to stop and think...
namank 4 days ago 0 replies      
Because they don't ask enough questions.
sonicaa 4 days ago 0 replies      
The last line "The more we attempt to know ourselves, the less we actually understand." is worrying me a bit.
DragonBox: Algebra beats Angry birds wired.com
281 points by aymeric  4 days ago   63 comments top 16
jessriedel 4 days ago  replies      
Does anyone have any evidence, anecdotal or otherwise, that gamification is good for teaching STEM ideas in the long term? I am wary of rewarding the brain with in-game loot for memorizing the rules of algebra rather than with the deep satisfaction that comes with understanding. Obviously, this latter type of reward cannot be as consistently provided and requires a certain maturity (maybe), but ultimately I think it's what drives most insightful people.

Here's a good example of what bothers me:

>As the game progresses, you'll start seeing cards that are above and below each other, with a bar in the middle " and you'll learn to cancel these out by dragging one onto the other, which then turns into a one-dot. And you'll learn that a one-dot vanishes when you drag it onto a card it's attached to (with a little grey dot between them). These, of course, are fractions " multiplication and division " but you don't need to know that to play the game, either.

That last sentence is especially telling.

To me, gamification is suited for making necessary but painful tasks fun (e.g. cleaning your desk, tagging media, memorizing facts), but not for deep learning (e.g. algebra, quantum mechanics, object-oriented programming). But maybe, at 26, I'm just not with the times.

EDIT: I think ColinWright is getting at the same worry, and his comment is more fleshed out http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=4106567

patio11 4 days ago 2 replies      
I lack words to describe how awesome this game is, both from a pedagogical perspective and from "It's genuinely fun to play."

My fiancee has just ordered me to take a bath as a clever way to get me away from the iPad because she wants to do algebra, by herself.

ColinWright 4 days ago 3 replies      
I was going to add this as an edit to my earlier comment, but I'm on a crappy connection, and was too late. Let me expand on my comment.

I think this is a brilliant idea, and it seems to be well executed. I don't have the necessary hardware to run it, so I haven't played with it, but it looks to be a wonderful game based on algebraic manipulations. I, along with everyone else, expect and hope that it will engage players and allow them to learn the rules and skills of such manipulations.

And probably that's a good thing. Let me try to explain the underlying reasons for my sense of unease, as best I understand them.

Firstly, I am concerned that this will merely enhance the sense that math is simply arbitrary manipulations with neither meaning nor motivation. Many of the kids I tutor can do the manipulation, but don't get the point, and never connect it with reality.

Next, some of the kids I tutor can't do the manipulations without making stupid errors, and I can't help but feel that even after practising with this, they will still make stupid errors. Link that to the apparent meaninglessness, and there's a recipe for frustration.

Thirdly, this doesn't help to connect the creation of equations with the physical problem to be solved, and it doesn't help interpret any final answer. These are the steps that the kids I deal with simply can't do.

Finally, as someone commented, this isn't intended to be the whole and entire course, and it's supposed to be just one tool to help one stage, and to be built on and leveraged by the teachers. I've lost count of the number of wonderful tools and ideas that I've seen whither and die because the teachers can't make use of them. In some cases the teachers don't really understand them, but I would hope that fate would be avoided by this.

So in summary, I think this is a wonderful tool, and it has the potential to be a fantastic aid to learning. I am deeply uneasy about the further divorcing of algebraic manipluation from any sense of meaning, but I look forward with interest to see if it can be used in a meaningful way.

DannoHung 4 days ago 0 replies      
Very cool. This actually intensely reminds me of Ed Yang's logitext sequent calculus tutorial: http://logitext.ezyang.scripts.mit.edu/logitext.fcgi/tutoria...

You don't have to know the rules of the sequent calculus, you can just click around, but the theorem prover will ensure that you can't break them. Then, by fucking around and reading through the tutorial, you can pretty much learn how it works.

I think that things like this are the right way to start designing interactive education. Create a play space, enforce the rules, provide lessons that act as hints and tips for understanding how the rules work.

patrickk 4 days ago 0 replies      
When I saw the title, I thought "would it not make more sense to use trigonometry to beat Angry Birds?"


ColinWright 4 days ago 4 replies      
I have a deep unease about this. It's brilliant that the kids learn the manipulations (although it's unclear if they'll be able to follow the rules when not enforced by the app) but it's detached. It's unconnected, and there's no sense that it's actually potentially useful.

It will be fascinating to see where it goes, but I'm worried about how it will translate into actual solving of problems, which is what algebra is about. Too many people think algebra is about mindless manipulation, and this seems to reinforce that.

Yet to be seen. Interesting times.

fallous 4 days ago 0 replies      
This is brilliant. You're teaching the mechanics of algebra but initially ignoring "this is math" which lets players avoid the mental barriers they may have erected about that particular subject.

Being able to "do" first makes explaining the "why" later much easier and more interesting.

delinka 3 days ago 1 reply      
I convinced my mother to purchase the iOS version for all her grandchildren ... and then I played it. There was a distinct change in my behavior when there was a distinct change in the cards - they go from colorful bugs with different backgrounds to different symbols in black on white backgrounds. That's when I had to concentrate on what was actually on the screen and think about what moves to make.

I have yet to see what the younger ones do with it, but my 13yo found it somewhat interesting until he had to think - that made it less of a game for him and he became less interested.

My anecdotal experience with this game suggests that the same people who would excel at math (with a trait for "why is this wrong? let's try something else; let's dig deeper") will also excel at this game. Those that don't want to think are going to give up when the game changes.

SpencerAiello 4 days ago 0 replies      
Who's trying to prove the Goldbach conjecture before they learn the rules of algebra? Most kids in middle to high school math classes aren't worried about their "mathematical maturity" or about having powerful insight. Rather, this obviously shows that the rules of algebra can be applied to other sets of symbols, and that letters and numbers are simply a subset of a much larger set. How is that not a powerful notion? If you're bothered by this, then go back and read Herstein, or any other intro to group theory. Seriously, this is a great way to get kids actively thinking about the rules of manipulation of symbols.

The seeds of abstraction must be planted before you can play with more lofty ideas. If games aren't a good way to enjoy mathematics, then you have missed the point of a lot of math.

jacoblyles 4 days ago 0 replies      
I studied pre-Algebra in the 6th grade - about 12 years old. The author's child is learning the same things from Dragon Box at 5 years old. That gives kids nowadays a 7-year jump on the standard American public school curriculum. It's amazing to think of how much more kids will be able to learn and accomplish with their lives with iPad based learning tools.
creamyhorror 4 days ago 0 replies      
This is awesome, I'm going to buy this for my little brother.

I can imagine expanding upon this concept to get kids to solve word problems. Present a simple word problem, give the player some variables/cards and operators to pick from, and let her arrange them into a suitable equation or three. Award points for reaching states like a fully isolated variable, which is basically the solution.

Maybe specific guided processes could be created for different varieties of problems, e.g. distance-time problems, simultaneous equations, algebra applied to geometry, combinatorics...each type of problem could be broken up into sub-components which the player first arranges into the right combination, and then returns to the original algebraic solving process as the final step.

Hmm. If my current startup idea doesn't work out, I might have to look into venturing into education. I always liked tutoring anyway.

carb 4 days ago 0 replies      
Very innovative, I love seeing educational apps that make the player think and solve puzzles instead of just repeatedly showing them rules to memorize.
jswanson 3 days ago 0 replies      
Great idea, look forward to playing this with my daughter.

But, from the article:
"the flip side to that in the case of DragonBox is that you don't learn the reasons for the rules. My kids (particularly my five-year-old) have no idea why, when you drag a card below another one, you have to drag it below all the other cards on the screen."

Games like this still have a place, but knowing the reasons and the why of things is still incredibly important.

jbhkb1 2 days ago 0 replies      
Hi, as the guy behind the game concept, I am thrilled to read all these comments and discussions. For those interested I can explain how I thought of this game and which goals we try to reach with it. First of all, the game is a direct translation of my view of math. Abstract objects, relations between them, and playing around with it. Obviously there is no One mathematics. Each of us we have our own subjective understanding of it.
Secondly, I have three kids, and I want the best for them. Mathematics can be used to understand better our world and can give access to better decisions. The earlier, the better. That means I d like them to learn K-12 math as soon as they can get it. And they could get everything now, if we had the right tools. Just to say that I make sure that the games we create transfer to useful knowledge. I am not here to sell another game, I am here to make children learn.
Third, first we teach how to solve equations and then, how to set up equations.
4. Our goal is to make players think and learn. For example, players have to figure out themselves how to solve an equation with x in denominator. I think we are the only ressource that let a kid find out that by herself. School has no time to let kids spend time on high level thinking...
5. most importantly, this game is about discovery learning. Trial and error. The only reason there are texts, is that parents feel unease with textless discovery games. Children and parents learn completely differently. So imagine what a teacher does to our poor kids (i am myself a teacher, so i try to replace myself...). She cant test her teaching as we tested our game... how can you be better without feedbacks?
6. no teacher will be able to beat this game. Because of feedbacks, discovery mechanisms, beautiful symbols, tests etc.. players solve 200 equations in 1,5 hours without any prerequisite... and explanations. This game avoid many pitfalls that communication with words create when explaining algebra. Teaching algebra from arithmetic, concrete to abstract is to my mind crazy. It s an unecessary step.
This game is the result of a thinking process where I sat as a big hairy goal to teach K-12 math in less than 20 hours. It is obvious that to do that, we have to think very differently. For example none has noticed that the equation is set up in two dimensions. The game seems simple and obvious and it is easy to start discussing the effect of it. It was pretty complex to make it that simple.... Make complex things simple without oversimplifying, that s the point to discuss to progress in learning science. That s what the game is about. And i hope it inspires many to work with it.
ph0rque 4 days ago 0 replies      
I have an idea similar to this that would secretly teach circuits:

The game would be a water-tube building game. Voltage would represent the height drop that causes the water to flow, current would be, well... current, resistance could be marked by notches in the tube section, etc. Each scenario would involve building a water maze to reach a specific objective.

Gradually, different tube sections would be replaced by circuit schematics, until at the end of the game, you would be designing straight-up circuits.

Feel free to build this, just let me know when it's available :).

ph0rque 4 days ago 0 replies      
I just bought this for my 5-year-old daughter. She mastered the first level (or chapter, as the game calls levels) in about an hour, with minimal input for me (I just read the minimal instructions at the beginning).

I am really excited about this game, and others like it.

As someone from the former Soviet Union where we started learning rudimentary algebra in first grade, I remember variables being explained as a box that you have to figure out what is in it by putting everything else on the other side of the equals sign. This game literally takes this concept and gamifies it.

Show HN: Script Excel with Python ironspread.com
271 points by karamazov  9 days ago   61 comments top 27
bmccormack 9 days ago 1 reply      
I still have a soft spot for VBA, especially in Excel. I wrote a supply-chain management application in Excel+VBA that's still in production today. As comfortable as I am with VBA, I wouldn't mind in the least ditching it for Python, which makes writing routine methods trivial. Great work!
smortaz 9 days ago 1 reply      
This is great guys! We cooked up a similar thing called Pyvot (pivot). It's OSS/Apache - feel free to take/contribute. Cheers, smortaz@microsoft.

Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Oi3QKuFugWk&hd=1

edit - link to project: http://pytools.codeplex.com

mwexler 9 days ago 1 reply      
That's very clever. However, the ultimate integration of spreadsheet and Python has got to be ResolverOne (http://www.resolversystems.com/products/resolver-one/) It's a really amazing experience.
steve8918 9 days ago 1 reply      
What is the licensing for this? I couldn't tell whether this was free, if I had to pay, if it was open source, GPL, etc.
yangyang 9 days ago 1 reply      

Also see PyXLL (http://pyxll.com/), which lets you write Excel plugins in Python (CPython).

adorton 9 days ago 1 reply      
Impressive. Would people I share a spreadsheet with need the plugin?
dkhenry 9 days ago 2 replies      
The big question I have is why would I use this instead of a real database. If i am not mistaken excel can hook up to ODBC sources and then I can just script things as I normally would using the database drivers.
iamdave 9 days ago 1 reply      
This is awesome! I plan to use this 100%. Sent it to a few other excel power users in my org, thank you for this
il 9 days ago 1 reply      
Any plans for OS X support?
pneumatics 9 days ago 0 replies      
This isn't necessary, you can have access to the full Excel COM API, with tab-completion, backwards-compatibility etc, for free with iPython and the makepy.py script.


Though I admit scripting Excel from Python should be easier to setup than it is.

nchlswu 9 days ago 1 reply      
This seems really cool, but I'm admittedly not familiar with this area. How does this compare or supplement to Excel VBScript?
dbecker 8 days ago 0 replies      
This solves a real business problem for a lot of people. I'm doubly impressed that it was done by a recent grad and someone still in school.

You guys have a bright future in front of you.

willyt 9 days ago 0 replies      
Honest question; I havent tried to script xl or word for years. What is this doing that I couldn't do with IronPython or IronRuby?
bradleyy 4 days ago 0 replies      
From a conversation with them, they are intending to charge around $2000/seat/month. This takes it out of the realm of possibility for me, but http://excel-dna.net/ looks like it will fit the bill with a little elbow grease.
jaxn 9 days ago 2 replies      
REALLY wish this was available for Mac.
fonzie 7 days ago 1 reply      
This seems pretty great. Any plans for compatibility with Excel 2003 and 2007?
shazam 9 days ago 1 reply      
That's funny, I just used xlrd and xlrt and had to convert about 100 files to 97-2003 workbooks
asto 8 days ago 0 replies      
Calligra Sheets allows scripting with python, ruby and js!


pyxll 6 days ago 0 replies      
If you want to call Python functions from Excel in the form of user defined functions, macros or menu functions (including macros bound to UI widgets and application events) you should take a look at PyXLL (www.pyxll.com).

This has been around for a couple of years now and actively maintained and supported, and is in use by many organisations already. It supports all versions of Excel from 2000 onwards, with some features only available in later versions (eg asynchronous functions are only in Excel 2010).

It uses cPython so all the standard libraries are usable.

Calling back into Excel is quite straightforward using win32com, and there are examples on the website that show how to do that.

With PyXLL you can write plain Python code that you can use outside Excel as well - so it's quite easy to write a library of functions that can be called from normal Python scripts as well as expose them to Excel at the same time.

I'm not sure what this project adds over what's already available but I'd be very interested to hear what other people's opinons are.

edwinyzh 8 days ago 0 replies      
This is very interesting! Wrapping the entire Excel object model in Python must be a huge work.
cschmidt 9 days ago 1 reply      
Is this an open source project, or are you planning to sell it?
AlexDanger 7 days ago 0 replies      
This is great. I have to work with some very complex excel/VBA apps and this will be a breath of fresh air.

Is there anything out there that allows using C# to script/control excel?

mcarvin 9 days ago 0 replies      
Great work. I am a long time finance geek - this will make life decidedly easier.
canuc 9 days ago 0 replies      
I love you. So much.
moolcool 9 days ago 1 reply      
Any plans to support pivot tables?
Pyinex 7 days ago 0 replies      
Done two years ago:


O.83 alpha version includes the code.

danielalela 9 days ago 1 reply      
niiiice! :) python is definitely better than vba, didn't think of this use for it!
Youtube claims I don't own my own film mdotstrange.com
270 points by angrycoder  23 hours ago   76 comments top 16
slapshot 21 hours ago 2 replies      
I do not work for Google/Youtube (or BMF), but I have experience with their systems. The short version is that YouTube has an automated tool that scans for duplicates of copyrighted videos that have been uploaded by verified creators. It looks at every upload and compares it against a library of known videos for video and sound issues. When it gets a hit, it automatically classifies the video as containing potentially copyrighted content. Sounds like this got hit by the automated scanner.

Nothing in the notice means that BMF made a claim against this video in particular (in fact, it sounds like it's a private video, so there's no way BMF could review it). It's not a DMCA issue at all -- this is a system that YouTube chose to put in place completely unconnected to any DMCA claim system.

Sounds like this automated scanner result is wrong. I believe there is an appeal process, where a human will look at the video. Also note that the video is not being blocked in the meantime; it's still available.

The bigger problem that comes up is how can YouTube deal with the flood of video copycats (ever notice how every popular video leads to 20 copies of the same thing?) without stifling independent artists whose work gets a false positive in the scan system? It's an interesting challenge to get the right mix of false positives and negatives.

Please post what happens after you try the appeals process -- this could be a simple fix and I'd be curious to know.

Edit: Here's an overview of the automated "Content ID" system: http://www.youtube.com/t/contentid

droithomme 22 hours ago 1 reply      
It's not accidental, they make money doing this and there is no penalty when they get it wrong, so doing this makes "business sense".

Previous cases:





In addition to these media covered cases, I have noticed cases of very old public domain works being seized by corporations with no involvement in their original creation.

msg 20 hours ago 1 reply      
I hate to break it to all the people that failed to read, including the OP, but the hated acronym you want is BFM not BMF.


As for judgment on the actual issue, I think ContentID bends over backward to big content to forestall more heavy handed moves, at the expense of bad mistakes like this one.

It looks like it's profitable for BFM to claim or create lots of media clips so they get paid for these ads, in the interim period before the creator appeals. To fix it the incentives would have to change.

Here's a prior example where BFM erroneously claimed a license to a classical performance, which messed with ContentID.


Youtube should punish BFM's mistake.

cromwellian 17 hours ago 0 replies      
YouTube has been sued several times in both the US and Europe, and if it didn't offer this system, far worse more draconian systems would be legally mandated. YouTube recently lost a case in Germany where the judge imposed a less accurate filter on YouTube: http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20120420/11573918587/huh-to....
This is a regrettable situation, that the OP got caught up in a detection system, but YouTube must do this kind of stuff, otherwise, the courts will mandate it. Not having it just lends more ammunition to SOPA/PIPA backers as well.
noonespecial 21 hours ago 1 reply      
BMF violated his copyright. They claimed ownership and tried to exercise rights over the distribution of work that wasn't theirs. There are legal remedies for this. They're pirates.
angrycoder 6 hours ago 0 replies      
Could the moderator who changed the title please explain why? Normally I would not care, but now it reads as if I am the film creator.

If the titles on HN now have to match the article title, you should just change the posting guidelines. Coming along 12 hours later and changing a post title is just power tripping.

steve8918 22 hours ago 2 replies      
I would try suing for damages, especially if their claims are denying you the ability to make money. I think you might be able to sue for slander as well, since they made the claim that you are stealing licensed material, which will affect your reputation as a producer of original content.
beedogs 18 hours ago 3 replies      
I'm honestly starting to think this planet would be better without any copyright protection at all.
ricardobeat 18 hours ago 0 replies      
This has happened to a band I was part of - we posted a self-produced video for an original song a few years back, and it was denied for monetizing because I "couldn't prove I had all the rights necessary".
dhughes 22 hours ago 0 replies      
This reminds me of the war on terror where it seems everyone is considered a terrorist as if that will solve the problem.

Regular law abiding people are accused of being terrorists and resources are used to chase shadows.

It's the same thing in this situation everyone is guilty unless you can prove you're not, meanwhile the real crooks are nowhere to be found.

gareim 21 hours ago 1 reply      
Did BMF actually make a claim? The creator seems to imply that he uploaded the video as a private one so far, which means that BMF can't have made a claim unless corporations are allowed to scan even private videos?

Could this possibly be a case of YouTube mistaking something in the video as similar to something registered to BMF?

daimyoyo 22 hours ago 1 reply      
Upload it to Vimeo. I know the audience is smaller, but they seem to be much more friendly toward content creators than youtube.
veyron 22 hours ago 1 reply      
Does the DMCA have a provision allowing BMF to be sued for improper claim? If so, someone should actually challenge them.
jeffool 16 hours ago 1 reply      
I wish you the best of luck Mdotstrange (if you didn't see it, he posted in this thread claiming BFM actively claimed copyright over the sound of wind.)

Yes, piracy and copyright infringement is rampant, but by both individuals and corporations. A great example is the Amen Break. If you've got 20 minutes, I can't suggest this video enough for everyone:

It's in everything from old hip hop, to Oasis' "D'You Know What I Mean?" to the original Futurama theme song!

And all used with, according to the creators, absolutely zero royalties. (And they're fine with it, having been told. They get it.)

angrycoder 22 hours ago 1 reply      
Nope, the soundtrack is 100% original as well.
unicornporn 18 hours ago 1 reply      
O boy, I don't think there's anything that looks worse than the new Blogger themes in Opera Mobile. Unreadable, unusable.
Newegg refuses to repair defective laptop because user installed Linux consumerist.com
265 points by sequoia  5 days ago   159 comments top 26
singlow 5 days ago  replies      
I am a Linux user, and I have wrecked laptops with it before. It is easy to overheat or otherwise abuse a laptop by having improper configs.

For example, I had a battery become unusable because Linux often failed to sleep when the lid was closed because some dialog box was blocking. It would run in the bag with no ventilation when I didn't realize it until the battery drained and it would fail to shutdown until the hardware fail-safes took over and I realized my backpack was too hot to hold. Did this a few times and the last time, the battery wouldn't charge anymore. After getting a new battery I became very conscientious about whether it actually was asleep before I put it in the bag.

I have had this happen in Windows before as well, in one case it would wake up if I forgot to turn off my Bluetooth mouse when I put it away. Since it was already closed, there was no trigger to go back to sleep so it would run itself dead in the bag and eventually the plastic near a hot component melted. Turns out there is an option in the Windows device manager to tell it not to wake on Bluetooth that prevents this.

However a defect in the factory-installed operating system that causes failure is something you have to warranty. A defect in the user-installed operating system is not. However, I have no idea how they could trace the problem to the operating system. Not sure how they would ever know that Linux is installed. Any good Linux user would wipe the hard disk before returning a computer to the manufacturer for repair :)

jtchang 5 days ago 1 reply      
For what it is worth I actually contacted newegg at http://help.newegg.com/app/ask/site/US/category/74 and asked them what they thought.

I'm a big fan of newegg and hope they continue to bring competition to amazon. I am hoping this is just a small oversight and it will be corrected shortly.

jemfinch 5 days ago 1 reply      
File a chargeback. Show your credit card company the return policy and how you didn't violate it, and you will get your money back.

This is precisely why you should always pay with a credit card online.

excuse-me 5 days ago 1 reply      
I bought 10 identical Shuttle PCs from newegg.

One was DoA and I returned it with an RMA - they sent it straight back to me because I had returned it in the wrong box. The serial # on the machine didn't match the barcode on the box!

They seriously expect you to keep the individual box for every unit? Or are they just a scam that try and stop you every returning anything?

Anyway - haven't bought anything from them since.

dllthomas 5 days ago 1 reply      
What gets me is "system cannot be resold as received" - I mean, sure, a customer should wipe their data off the disk... but would NewEgg really ship a system to a new customer without doing a fresh install of the OS if it was running Windows?
georgemcbay 5 days ago 1 reply      
Tangential to this story but anecdotally I've been hearing of lots of situations recently where newish laptops have had screen problems soon after purchase and the brands involved have varied (ASUS, Lenovo, Acer, etc). And by "screen problems", I mean electrical ones either with the panel itself or with the controller, resulting most often in parts of the screen or the entire screen dancing towards full white.

I wonder if there is some shared panel manufacturer who has been dropping the ball lately?

dbingham 5 days ago 2 replies      
And so the day has come in which Newegg has become just another internet retailer.
johnchristopher 5 days ago 0 replies      
I always wonder wether an incorrectly configured ubuntu kernel or drivers could actually damage modern computers. I remember viruses from the 80's that supposedly could kill the machine by asking the bios to increase and decrease voltages or hdd spin in such a way it would deal physical damages to the machine. Might have been a computer legend though.

Note: When returning laptop, desktop, smartphone or anything I always tend to be anal retentive and put everything back in place, including software and OS so there are no arguing wether the problem is software or hardware (obviously I only need to send back hardware defective devices).

tibbon 5 days ago 3 replies      
I had a really bad experience in the past with Newegg and their lower levels of customer service. At one point I documented and blogged it, but that blog is no longer up unfortunately.

Anyway, the good news is that once I got in touch with someone higher up the chain they were like, "That never should have happened" and worked to make it right. It just took a ton of kicking and screaming to get there, which really wasn't worth it on my part, but in the end, they did the right thing.

One thing I'm seeing more and more is that companies are holding back their lower tier support employees from actually being helpful. For example, have you ever had one of those "Instant Online Chat Support" things help you out? No, they are always so unempowered its not even funny.

kenrikm 5 days ago 2 replies      
I have had bad customer service from NewEgg in the past I'm not surprised by this. Now I buy almost everything off Amazon and only go to Newegg for stuff that can't be DOA (cables and such)
JumpCrisscross 5 days ago 1 reply      
Is it at all possible that Linux Mint in some way collided with a driver or some other critical infrastructure?
motoford 5 days ago 0 replies      
NewEgg has really lost their way over the past 2 or 3 years. I have gone from don't even check anywhere else to checking NewEgg last. Amazon almost always beats them on price now.
orbitingpluto 5 days ago 1 reply      
This is NewEgg's chance to either gain or lose 1% of its customer base. Since margins are so tight on computers, and NewEgg costs for software support will decline, isn't this a no-brainer from a business perspective?
rrrazdan 5 days ago 0 replies      
I have had HP India refuse servicing my laptop (its speakers went kaput) because I had VLC installed. According to them, greater than 100% sound amplification in VLC was to blame.
lysol 5 days ago 1 reply      
It doesn't matter who the vendor is, extended warranties from the retailer are braindead.
sigmaxipi 5 days ago 0 replies      
Note that the NewEgg's refusal is based on the original OS being missing rather than a new OS being installed according to that email. My guess is that the user formatted the HD before installing Linux. Most OEM PCs now come with a recovery partition which is used to perform a factory reset. If the user erased this partition, then NewEgg would be unable to reset the device to its initial state for testing. It would be similar to the user returning the device by not returning important CDs.
systematical 5 days ago 2 replies      
This is not the community they want to alienate.
mayneack 4 days ago 0 replies      
Looks like they've fixed this specific problem.


bhudman 5 days ago 0 replies      
Newegg used to be awesome - I have spent thousands in the last 6 years with them, but their customer service is terrible. Their customer service pretty much reads a script and keep repeating the same thing.

I think all companies have a life cycle:
1. New company, so customer is treated well/
2. Company grows and becomes successful
3. Company needs to show ever increasing profits. Starts taking shortcuts to save money, and starts to ignore what made them great in the first place.

uslic001 5 days ago 0 replies      
I now try to buy all my electronics at Amazon instead of NewEgg or TigerDirect due to the poor return policies at Newegg and TigerDirect with DOA items. NewEgg used to be better than it is now but they have gone downhill in the past two years. TigerDirect has always had poor return policies.
zyce 5 days ago 0 replies      
The policy quoted states you can't return it even if it is opened.

"The following conditions are not acceptable for return, and will result in the merchandise being returned to you: Any desktop PC, notebook or tablet PC that has been opened"

invisiblecow 5 days ago 3 replies      
I don't buy at newegg or have any other incentive to side with them but... in my past experiences, Linux didn't really have the most compatible hardware drivers. Am I the only one to think that?
shmerl 5 days ago 0 replies      
They need to put presser on Newegg managers. It's simply ridiculous.
mrwud 5 days ago 3 replies      
Couldn't she just reinstall windows and send it back?
AGrinsPaul 5 days ago 0 replies      
If you would like to petition Dell to start to include Ubuntu/Fedora/RHEL on all of their machines and stop the whole "Dell Recommends Windows 7" monopoly cartel join this idea on ideastorm and let's try to get our voices heard...

Dell Ideastorm Multiboot Linux: http://www.ideastorm.com/idea2ReadIdea?id=0877000000006ixAAA...

Dell Linux & Windows on all Laptops/Desktops:

Dell Sputnik Ubuntu Laptop:

evilbit 5 days ago 1 reply      
Newegg: party like it's 1999...
Mac Pro gets half-assed “update” marco.org
266 points by iand  6 days ago   308 comments top 39
robomartin 6 days ago  replies      
This illustrates the issue I highlighted in another thread: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=4097141

The fact that Apple keeps hardware and, increasingly, software, so tightly controlled leads to a situation like that of this "new" Mac Pro. If the Apple hardware ecosystem were open like that of Windows you'd have major companies all over the world evolving the platform in wonderful ways. Performance would go up and prices would come down.

There are lots of use cases where the user couldn't give a crap about a nice and polished enclosure. You are paying dearly for design you don't need. If you want to pay for design, fine, do so, but to a lot of us it means nothing.

Case in point: We have several workstations setup for Finite Element Analysis of heat and fluid flow. They are dual quad core i965 Extremes. They run overclocked at 4.0GHz with memory overclocked to 2.0GHz. They have 64GB of DDR3. All fluid cooled. Tons of storage as well. They also have dual NVidia graphics cards and sport three 24 inch 1920 x 1200 LCD monitors. Total cost, about $3,500. Including the three monitors and the OS hard drive.

These are monster machines in terms of performance and they still cost less than a Mac Pro. We have three Mac Pro's as well.

I would really like to see Apple open it up. A lot of interesting things could come of it.

Because their hardware is not subject to competitive forces, we will now be stuck with a less-than-desirable incremental update for probably three years, if not more.

forrestthewoods 6 days ago  replies      
Our sound guy is PISSED at the lack of update. Seriously, incredibly pissed. I've honestly never seen him this angry before. He'd been counting down the days till WWDC and a long overdue update. There are three major pieces of software he uses on his Mac that he swears by. It sounds like they have all just released or are about to release Windows versions.

I'm beginning to wonder if this is a trend? Apple is clearly focused on iOS and consumer/prosumer and not professional. I certainly don't blame them. Is the future of professionals going to be Windows? Even for lifelong Mac die hards? It seems plausible imo.

geuis 6 days ago 1 reply      
Gonna play devil's advocate for a moment. Disclaimer: I don't work for Apple. I love their products (4 iPhones, 1 iPad, more 3 laptops in the last year, 1 Hackintosh that was an old gaming tower I built 3 years ago and never used till I put OS X on it, which I purchased).

Apple's core revenue sources have changed significantly over the years. Used to be towers were a primary source of revenue. That's most likely no longer true, and hasn't been for a while.

Take into account how much money Apple has to spend on R&D internally for their products. That's not only hardware, its also software support. One thing I've learned in the Hackintosh community is that while there's a lot of hardware that works really well, its a subset of all the hardware out there (chips, mobos, graphics cards, etc). You have to pay special attention to your hardware or getting OS X running is a huge pain in the ass, if impossible. It costs a lot of money to have good programmers to support hardware.

I have to choose to believe that the people at Apple know what they're doing for the benefit of their company. If the internal folks responsible for weighing the scales have found that the amount of revenue earned for cost of development and all for Mac Pros is too narrow, or even negative, then its entirely responsible for them to be phasing out the availability of this product line.

Yeah, lots of people want Mac Pro towers. That includes me. I'd still love to switch out my Hackintosh for a Mac Pro if just for the freedom to freely do software updates without worry. I develop about 50/50 between it and my laptop.

But for Apple, who have proven over and over again that they know where their markets are going, they may be finding little to no value in continuing the Mac Pro line.

A lot of people will counter with the argument that since Apple has so many billions of dollars, its just a drop in the bucket for them to continue Mac Pros. That may be true, but Apple isn't a company like Microsoft. They don't tend to waste billions of dollars on products that go nowhere or have little chance of success. Its true that Apple has had failures (Ping anyone?), but they are very small in comparison to their successes.

Many people reading this may be too young to remember Apple from the late 80's and 90's. They were lost and wandering in the woods. They almost died a few times. I remember going with my mom to get our first Mac in the early 90's and having to pick between 3-4 different models of the same Performa series. They had multiple types of desktops available, including the Performa, Quadra, and others. Their product skews were all over the place.

It wasn't until Jobs came back and brought a laser focus to their product lines that they turned around. He spent the last decade imprinting that way of thought on the entire company. Its vital to their future success, and our enjoyment and the productivity that comes from their products, that it continues. I would like to hope that there is an endemic fear in the company of losing that focus and going back to the Apple of old.

So if Apple has found that the Mac Pro line is no longer worth it, its entirely reasonable that they begin phasing it out. I'm choosing to look forward and see what they're doing next, and how I can use what they're building to make cool, amazing new stuff. Not looking back and complaining that old things I thought were valuable are being taken away.

abruzzi 6 days ago 3 replies      
I think there are two possible explanations:

1. Marco's pessimistic take that they are clearing through existing inventory in slightly reconfigured and cheaper machines.

2. grecy's comment here that they needed to keep people hooked while they get the real bump out the door.

If the answer is 2, then they really can't wait too long. A few people will be satisfied that they can get 12 cores for $3800, but it's only a stop gap.

My pessimistic gut says Marco is right (see FCPx/exFCP fiasco), but I keep hoping he's wrong. Right now I have too much invested in PCIe in my studio (audio hardware) and might get one of these new 12 core boxes and nurse it along for as long as I can.


mark_l_watson 6 days ago 0 replies      
My Dad, who is really into video editing and 3D animation, swears by the Mac Pro line. I have been suggesting that he get a fast MacBook Pro, use Thunderbolt with the nice raid box Apple sells, and move on. After the new MacBook Pro hotness and the minor Mac Pro update, I bet he will make the switch.

My world is Linux servers and a MacBook Air (and a good SSH shell on my iPad if I am travelling light) work fine; some local develop using IntelliJ/RubyMine, etc., and good access to servers == happiness. I could personally care less if Apple wants to concentrate on what makes them money.

For people who do professional video, sound, etc., maybe the Windows world is looking better, especially with Adobe's neat Creative Cloud stuff. I am a rank amateur when it comes to video and digital photo post production, and even I am thinking of dropping Final Cut Pro 7 and paying Adobe $50/month for Creative Cloud. I think that Apple has made their intentions clear.

gdubs 6 days ago 2 replies      
A souped-up iMac and some sort of thunderbolt 'bay' for expansion cards would serve the pro market, one would think. A large-scale touch display would be on the wish-list as well. That's my complete guess as to where they might be headed. I can't really imagine that Apple is unaware of how important the pro market is to their image, if not the bottom line. Consider the strong ties with Pixar " they must get constant feedback into what a pro setup needs. I'm betting on a big iMac/Pro update in the fall.
mgkimsal 6 days ago 0 replies      
At the moment, this feels very much like a self-fulfilling prophecy. "Well, sales are down" or "Sales are such a small percentage of revenue"... that they question keeping the product line around. Given that there haven't been any major updates, yes, sales are down.

I suspect if they hadn't put out a new model of the iPhone since the 3GS, sales of the iPhone would probably decline over the last 2-3 years.

grecy 6 days ago 1 reply      
I agree this is a lame "update"

But I don't think that means it's dead for certain. Maybe they are having a hard time figuring out if Thunderbolt will go on the gfx card or the motherboard...maybe they are still waiting for a usb 3.0/thunderbolt/ivy bridge chipset from inel?

In fact, I think a "lame" update is a good sign that Apple wants to keep it around, and for whatever reason doesn't have the tech yet to make it much better.

justindocanto 6 days ago 1 reply      
If I used your logic last year when they did soft bumps to the MacBook Pro after not having a major upgrade since 2010, I would've been shitting my pants thinking they would be dropping the MacBook Pro and only going consumer... which, as we learned today, is not the case.

The Mac Pro is a necessary part of their line for professionals and aren't going anywhere. My guess is next upgrade will be a big overhaul. It will also probably come with Mac Mini upgrades & a complete thunderbolt display selection (which I am waiting for).

EDIT: the upgrade I'm referring to is April 2010 when the MacBook Pro's started using the Intel Core i5 and i7 processers, removed the express slot, etc. That's 2 years and 2 months between major updates AND you could say the 2009 was really the last time it was upgraded THIS much. So 3 years? and you're complaining about 2 which is not abnormal by any means.

mattgreenrocks 6 days ago 1 reply      
The Mac Pro clearly isn't on their radar.

That said, a Hackintosh can save you a lot of money if you're looking at the Mac Pro line. It's a crappy solution, for sure. Apple would never bless such a thing, but they don't seem to try and stop it.

pippy 6 days ago 1 reply      
The fact is Mac Pro's aren't as profitable as iPads or iPhones. If you were CEO you'd de-prioritise the line as well.

They're not killing off the line altogether probably because it's a less risky market. iPads and iPhones are new, and tomorrow a new phone could kill off iPhone sales over night.

It is pretty shitty to see Apple do this however. I'd love for them to put in the bleeding edge hardware on the line.

codex 6 days ago 0 replies      
I suspect that Apple has delayed significant changes to the Mac Pro until desktop Retina displays are ready. Likely there was some snag, and the whole kit (including a Retina capable video subsystem) wasn't ready when originally planned. In that case, a small incremental update is the only option.
brunorsini 6 days ago 2 replies      
If you're into home recording (who isn't, these days?), this is a huge blow. When your Pro Tools/Cubase/Logic project has 40+ tracks of high resolution audio files and several high quality real-time plugins processing each one of them you really need a lot of CPU power.

I purchased a Thunderbolt display just a couple of months ago. I wanted to use it with my Macbook Air while waiting for the Mac Pro to be updated, feeling that not even Apple could get away with a $1000 display that was not supported by its super expensive high end computer.

I was wrong, apparently. Now I know what it must have felt like to have bought NeXT computers or Betamax VCRs.

zachinglis 5 days ago 0 replies      
Apple don't update their line, obviously dead. Hmm? Weird conclusion. Tim Cook has come out and said there'll be an update next year: http://www.macrumors.com/2012/06/11/david-pogue-new-imacs-an...

But the truth is, this is really self-entitled. There's huge iPhone updates on the go (iOS6 and hopefully iPhone 5 later this year), big MacBook Pro updates but that wasn't good enough. Nope, because they didn't cover Marco's chosen line of computers… they're playing a half-assed game.

Buying a computer is a 1:1 deal. You give money, they give computer (and support for a year.) That's it. That's the deal. There is no "we'll forever be in your debt" by Apple. Just because you want something, and you kick and stomp doesn't mean they should do it.

We also don't know why. There could have been a hardware issue holding them up, or a software. We've got no idea on this.

Apple are doing a pretty good job at the moment if you ask me.

scarmig 5 days ago 1 reply      
Only tangentially related, but what's the consensus on which "ultrabooks" look best to compete with MBP/MBA? I was hoping that Apple would make my choice for me, but I'm underwhelmed.

I'm personally surprised that the Lenovo X1 Carbon hasn't gotten more notice: 14 inch screen, 1600x900, made of carbon fiber, beautiful body, less than 3 lbs, embedded 3G connectivity.

Question marks seem to be battery (I've heard numbers ranging from 3.5 hours to 10 hours) and price (I'd wager around $1200ish?).

Skepticism around the claims of improved sound.

The Samsung Series 9 (also 1600x900, but 13.3 inch screen) also looks solid. Any others out or on the horizon worth noting?

MetaCosm 6 days ago 1 reply      
Has it come to the point that the only way to build a serious Mac rig is a high end hackintosh? I had high hopes as I need a very serious rig for work related stuff, I put off doing soe RMA and other nonsense waiting for this thing... and ... this is it?

Speaking of which, has anyone built a monster hackintosh?

TheMagicHorsey 6 days ago 0 replies      
Well, if you are banking on OS X as your platform for scientific computing, it seems you have chosen very poorly. I still don't understand why an organization would choose Mac Pros for workstations. That seems to me to be a class of machines where price/performance is very important, and Apple hasn't been very competitive in that area.

I think Apple has done a pretty good thing today. They've politely signaled to the market that they want you to f' off and buy someone else's product in this segment, because you aren't worth the effort anymore.

The money is in iOS and the laptops. And you don't need more than an iMac to develop for iOS or the laptops, so they just can't be bothered to make a workstation anymore. If you are pissed off about this you should investigate Linux or Windows.

tar 6 days ago 4 replies      
I do not understand. What is the appropriate use case for a Mac Pro where something equivalent and much cheaper cannot be used?
Osiris 6 days ago 6 replies      
I'm curious, why is it not possible to buy pre-configured, off-the-shelf dual or quad CPU PC systems?

I know that you can get dual CPU server motherboards and build your own system, but as far as I know no one sells a pre-built desktop system that looks anything like the Mac Pro (spec-wise).

EDIT: Looks like I was mistaken. You can get high-end PC workstations.

mortenjorck 6 days ago 4 replies      
Let's say I'm running a post shop and I want to render from After Effects as fast as possible. In normal use, just how much faster will one of these dated Xeons render my comps than the quad-core i7 in a top-of-the-line iMac?
AndrewNCarr 6 days ago 0 replies      
I wonder if this is a tacit acceptance of the DIY hackintosh. Has anyone seen hacintoshes used by audio/video pros for production work?

Everything I've read over the last year seems to imply that Apple is losing interest in the pro A/V market in favor of the profitable portable market, instead of keeping both going.

planetguy 6 days ago 2 replies      
"No Xeon E5 CPUs"

I must admit I've lost track of what the latest and greatest CPU is at any given time, so I googled for "Xeon E5" and found this article:


So what is it? Have they stuck in an Intel Xeon E5 or not?

daimyoyo 5 days ago 0 replies      
It occurs to me that the single biggest complaint about the current update is the lack of processing power in the current MacPro. Why not rig together a box the size of an external drive that contains a dozen core Xeon processor and 64GB of DDR3 RAM? Then you could attatch it to whatever Mac product you were using via Thunderbolt and have all the horsepower you needed. Has any company done this?
robert_nsu 6 days ago 7 replies      
I don't get it. Why don't they just discontinue the Mac Pro?
drawkbox 5 days ago 0 replies      
It would be a huge mistake for Apple not to keep the Mac Pro and the core of content creators/developers happy. We want/need a big machine to run OSX and Windows via Parallels, we need 16-32MB+ RAM minimum, We need many cores and lots of memory to do that with minimal problems. We want to run OSX. Where else can you run OSX on powerful hardware that isn't a Mac Pro? Apple better keep this in focus and see it as an investment.

I love my Mac Pro. It is the best desktop I've ever had and what actually got me into Apple products. I can also develop all my Mac/iOS, Android and Windows apps on it, without it I'd need a windows machine again.

The Mac Pro is still key to getting Windows people to switch so they can run it in parallels.

chrissnell 6 days ago 2 replies      
The Mac Pro isn't just for those in the A/V industry. It's for anyone who wants a Mac with more than four cores. No other Mac can do 6+ cores.

The Mac Pro hasn't seen a case update in at least six years. What other Apple product has been neglected like this?

tlb 5 days ago 0 replies      
The upgrade path from a Mac Pro is to a MacBook Pro with external monitor, and external Thunderbolt disk array if you need it.
mahyarm 6 days ago 1 reply      
I guess it's going to a thin client approach. iMac workstations with thunderbolt expansion and processing farms for rendering or what have you. I bet someone would make a killing with the pro market if they sold an easy to integrate and expandable render farm, or something that uses amazon services.
eddieroger 6 days ago 0 replies      
I was bummed, too, but I can also see why Apple doesn't put as much effort in to the Pros anymore. First off, those machines are meant to have longer lifecycles given their bumped hardware. So when you take that in to account, the biggest piece of tech I can see missing is Thunderbolt, but the Pros are meant to be hooked to bigger things with fibre cards and other Ethernet connected SANs. As for video, being the expandable machine means it will probably have extra GPUs with their own, non-Thunderbolt video cards in, so it's completely erroneous. As for the software updates, Mountain Lion will run just fine, as will the updated versions of the pro apps.

I'd love an update as much as the next guy, but I take solace in the fact that my machine is a little less outdated than it can be, and understand that Apple is smart enough to know where their bread is buttered these days, even if it sucks.

dpres 5 days ago 0 replies      
> I bet this is the last Mac Pro. If you wanted to kill a product line, an “update” like today's would be a good way to clear out parts and keep selling to a few desperate buyers for a bit longer without any real investment.

Apple's products build off one another. Apple is not going to kill the Mac Pro line because the iPad and iPhone would suffer.

leeskye 6 days ago 0 replies      
Am I the only one who is stoked it comes with a third USB, standard SSD, and HDMI port?
millzlane 6 days ago 2 replies      
This isn't surprising. Look at the product wikis and see the comparison of all the hardware. From the mac pro all the way down to the phone. They have been selling overpriced hardware for a very long time.

To be fair.. before the intel switch the hardware was theirs. Now, after the intel switch they're still selling over priced hardware except now it's cheaper for them because they're not using powerpc's anymore, and are now able to reap the benefits of using PC hardware.

T_S_ 6 days ago 0 replies      
Did my 17" MBP just become a collectors item?
brunorsini 5 days ago 0 replies      
There might be some hope, after all, at least according to David Pogue: "Many Apple observers also wonder if Apple thinks that desktop computers are dead, since not a word was said about the iMac and Mac Pro. An executive did assure me, however, that new models and new designs are under way, probably for release in 2013."

2013, really?


kevinpacheco 5 days ago 0 replies      
According to David Pogue, "Many Apple observers also wonder if Apple thinks that desktop computers are dead, since not a word was said about the iMac and Mac Pro. An executive did assure me, however, that new models and new designs are under way, probably for release in 2013."


fyolnish 5 days ago 0 replies      
How is a 12 core 3.06ghz xeon not sufficient to develop Instapaper?
hybrid11 5 days ago 0 replies      
What are you going to do with a Xeon processor, run a server on there?
cheez 6 days ago 0 replies      
The only reason I use OSX is because it's on a Macbook. I would never use this OS anywhere else.

Please, someone give me a replacement for this damn hardware already.

How we reduced our cancellation rate by 87.5% reemer.com
264 points by kareemm  1 day ago   58 comments top 12
patio11 23 hours ago 2 replies      
Seriously, one of the best and most actionable articles you'll read this week. (n.b. This sort of thing prints money for companies at pretty much all sizes. Well, after you've got enough customers to worry about cancellations.)

I'll probably write something about this eventually. There are a lot of generalizable tactics which repeatably work well. (Email engagement is probably the highest bang for the buck, considering that you can implement it in about an afternoon and, coming from the starting point "We send no email", it will virtually immediately produce visible results.)

ThomPete 22 hours ago 4 replies      
Great analysis and I really want to believe in this but I am a sceptic and this:

Interested in learning how a cohort analysis can help your business grow? Get in touch " I work with select clients to help identify growth and retention opportunities, and build features to realize those opportunities.

Kind of killed it for me. Now I am not sure whether I should trust the results.

jamiequint 21 hours ago 2 replies      
I'm interested in why you found Mixpanel hard to use. It satisfies every requirement you have described out of the box and only takes minutes to set up. Unless you wanted to process a ton of past data it probably would have been easier for you to skip all the manual data entry excel requires.
ehsanu1 21 hours ago 2 replies      
If the average time to cancel is 61 days, and they waited only 2 months since the changes to calculate the new cancellation rates, it stands to reason that the cancellation rate will rise over the next few months, right?

Assuming a normal distribution (probably not that accurate, but it's just a guess), the final cancellation rate would be about double that measured until now.

Am I missing something here?

Smerity 23 hours ago 1 reply      
Congratulations on the impressive result. It seems you have a good product but the real change appears to be encouraging those who wouldn't use your system properly to improve their habits.

I wish you could work out more concretely why the situation improved but with three substantial improvements (that likely impact different customers in different ways) that's difficult.
I could imagine "drop[ping] prices by 15-60%" would help those not using your product fully for example as even if they don't use all the features they don't feel like they're overpaying.

bdunn 20 hours ago 1 reply      
These are the sort of posts that keep me coming back to HN. Great analysis, and as a former Crossfitter - awesome product idea!
edhallen 8 hours ago 0 replies      
Great post on the usefulness of cohort analysis (or of experimentation more broadly, which if you think about it, is exactly what cohort analysis is - it just uses the past as a control).

One thought on ways to analyze the follow-on problem of customers canceling after 61 days (a problem similar to what I've seen at every web company I've ever worked at).

First, perform the same cohort analysis you've already done, but look at the cancelling customers vs retained customers at day 1, day 15, day 30 and day 45, then use this analysis to figure out your triggers (things like # of Facebook posts needed by day 15, % of profiles claimed by day 30, etc).

Once you have your triggers, you can make proactively calling / emailing problematic customers a key part of your daily routine. While discounts might still be the way to go, this trigger based approach is one I've seen work well. Additionally, because you are in touch with problematic customers it often gives you insight into what do next.

DanielRibeiro 21 hours ago 0 replies      
Related great post written by Shopify guys a while ago: http://www.shopify.com/technology/4018382-defining-churn-rat...
philip1209 8 hours ago 0 replies      
Cool. I've read about JBara, which provides a CRM plugin that aims to predict when people are going to cancel and give you a chance to retain them.
1123581321 23 hours ago 1 reply      
Which items from your analysis made a the most difference?
RobPfeifer 6 hours ago 0 replies      
I think the real takeaway here is: "Email is a better marketing channel then Facebook"
janesvilleseo 22 hours ago 1 reply      
Great article. I went to check out your site socialwod.com and was unable to scroll on my iPhone. You may want to check your analytics to see if this effecting a large percentage of your visitors.
Keep up the great work!
The Oatmeal's lawyer responds to FunnyJunk scribd.com
263 points by engtech  2 days ago   97 comments top 29
jenius 2 days ago 3 replies      
This is an absolute domination. Not only is it far more thorough than Carreon's original statement and quite clearly dismantles every single point he makes, but it's a very reasonable and human-readable letter that contains a number of well informed possible outcomes and suggestions for courses of action that funnyjunk can take.

Honestly at this point the best think funnyjunk can do is publish an apology. This whole issue has been extremely public and has not only completely ruined funnyjunk's reputation (if they ever had one), but also made Carreon (who seemed previously to be a relatively respected lawyer) look like an absolute idiot and a scumbag for his frankly stupid and uninformed research and attempts to take down a charity initiative.

Sometimes you have to realize that you have been absolutely dominated and just drop your pride and give in before it gets any worse. This is one of those situations.

snowwrestler 2 days ago 8 replies      
I know it's not in the fun tone of these particular proceedings, but consider that this exchange illustrates a problem that does exist on the Internet: the DMCA, as it exists today, seems to create asymmetric incentives for the infringement vs. protection of copyrighted content.

The collection of copyrighted content from around the web can be "outsourced" to the users of a site like FunnyJunk or (as the letter points out) YouTube. The content is then hosted and advertising run next to it, generating revenue for the hosting company.

This basically allows companies to leverage the fans of content against the creators of that content. People upload The Oatmeal comics to FunnyJunk because they like the comics! But by doing so they are enabling the redirection of financial gain from The Oatmeal to FunnyJunk.

To fix this redirection, the owner or controller of the copyright must then file DMCA requests for each individual instance of infringement at each individual website. It's an impossible task, as The Oatmeal has pointed out repeatedly. And I don't know of any way to crowdsource it--to incent The Oatmeal fans to do it for The Oatmeal.

We're all cheering for The Oatmeal now, but tell the same story with The Pirate Bay and Sony Music, or YouTube and Viacom, and would the comments below be of the same tenor? I would guess probably not. But the structural issue is exactly the same.

I'm not advocating for any particular solution, just trying to draw parallels.

Tyrannosaurs 2 days ago 1 reply      
I love the summary:

"At the end of the day, a lawsuit against The Oatmeal in this situation is just a really bad idea"

Never has a lawyer summarised a situation so clearly and succinctly.

marshray 2 days ago 5 replies      
So let's say Funnyjunk stops threatening and decides not to sue. What have they lost?

* Legal fees for sending a couple of threating letters.

What have they gained?

* A full-page spread in The Oatmeal advertising the fact to all readers of Slashdot, HN, and many other social media sites that Funnyjunk exists, carries user-submitted comics such as would be interesting to readers of The Oatmeal, and are friendlier to content submitters than they are to the DMCA.

* Massive SEO links. Four out of the first six search results for "the oatmeal" from DDG refer to Funnyjunk. Funnyjunk has an entire section on http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Oatmeal#FunnyJunk_legal_dis... and an entire article dedicated to the dispute.

Now most of us want to believe "But this is negative publicity and Funnyjunk couldn't possibly want that". But before you conclude that, consider how little people are going to remember about this incident in just a few weeks. For example, do you remember even today the name of the Funnyjunk CEO or of his lawyer? I don't, but I remember Funnyjunk whereas I had never heard of it at all before. I've even been to their site several times now (following up on links posted at The Oatmeal).

I hate to say it, but this was brilliant and The Oatmeal fell for it.

dctoedt 2 days ago 0 replies      
The Oatmeal's lawyer, Venkat Balasubramani [1], is a regular contributor to Santa Clara law professor Eric Goldman's Technology & Marketing Law blog [2].

[1] https://twitter.com/#!/VBalasubramani

[2] http://blog.ericgoldman.org/

aseemk 2 days ago 1 reply      
This is amazingly and impressively thorough. He cites relevant caselaw left and right; the two that particularly struck me were:

- "FunnyJunk also alleges The Oatmeal's statements constitute false advertising under the Lanham Act. However, the statements made by The Oatmeal do not constitute commercial advertising or promotion, and therefore section 1125(a)(1)(B) of the Lanham Act is inapplicable."

- "Even assuming that all of the content on FunnyJunk is uploaded by users and FunnyJunk otherwise qualifies for DMCA immunity, it's possible that The Oatmeal may be able to satisfy the “red flag” exception for DMCA immunity. See Viacom Int'l, Inc. v. YouTube, Inc., 676 F.3d 19, 41 (2d Cir. 2012) (discussing “red flag” test and reversing grant of summary judgment in favor of YouTube). It is also possible that FunnyJunk hasn't complied with the requirements of the DMCA and thus cannot take advantage of its protections. Among other things, the DMCA requires a service provider to designate an agent, provide contact information, and file a notice of designation with the Copyright Office. Without taking a position on the other issues, I'll note simply that FunnyJunk does not appear to have a notice of designation on file with the Copyright Office. This alone would be enough to undermine anydefense of immunity to claims of infringement that The Oatmeal (or third parties) may assert."

Great lawyer.

acangiano 2 days ago 1 reply      
Smart people have at times succumbed to the foolishness of representing themselves in court. This reply should be a testament to the invaluable help a great lawyer can be in making one's case (if it weren't obvious already).
clebio 2 days ago 1 reply      
Can someone post the text of this outside of Scribd? Their site always breaks in my browsers and I can't log in right now to download the PDF.
grabeh 2 days ago 2 replies      
Personally speaking, I don't think it's necessary to send a letter of this length to rebut what is a spurious claim by FJ. The Oatmeal's lawyer has analysed the case well and is aware of its flawed nature, but this didn't need to be stated in the letter, as it would have sufficed to relay his analysis to OM.

I am fairly confident FJ's lawyer is aware of the flaws in his case and although an easy target, he is likely to be aware of relevant case law.

The point is that FJ's lawyer's letter was more akin to a shakedown used to obtain leverage, rather than a legitimate letter before claim detailing the full extent of the accusations present.

I would have responded in a blunt fashion denying their claims and asking them to prove loss to the value of $20,000.

espinchi 2 days ago 0 replies      
Carreon has certainly been owned by The Oatmeal's lawyer.

For those that didn't read it, I believe the answer from The Oatmeal in his blog is absolutely hilarious: http://theoatmeal.com/blog/funnyjunk_letter

dibarra 2 days ago 1 reply      
"... I'll note simply that FunnyJunk does not appear to have a notice ofdesignation on file with the Copyright Office."

If true, that's pretty bad- that means that FunnyJunk's safe harbor status can be challenged (17 U.S.C. § 512(c)(2))

nicholassmith 2 days ago 1 reply      
Nicely dismantles all the relevant points pretty easily, needs more bear fondling older ladies. B+.
vph 2 days ago 0 replies      
This article estimated the time of the "Blog Post" by saying the first comment was about "10 months ago", so the posted time must be before that.

This actually points out a very annoying thing that many bloggers do: They don't date the blog posts. For some reason, they think that the posts are timeless. This is especially annoying for technical articles, where the knowledge of time of publication is crucial.

My suggestion is: date your articles.

woodchuck64 2 days ago 1 reply      
The Oatmeal's donation campaign to the Wildlife fund and Cancer Society (and 2 other charities) is up to $168,000!

The only winners in this legal brouhaha are the charities, how's that for turning the world up-side-down.

mbreese 2 days ago 0 replies      
So, one question that I had initially was addressed in the response, namely: does FunnyJunk actually qualify for DMCA fair harbor status?

From what I've read, it's a pretty simple and strict guideline - register an agent with the US Copyright Office so that you can receive notices of infringement. If you do that, you're protected from user-uploaded content.

In the response, Venkat alludes to the lack of a registered agent, so I went and looked it up (http://www.copyright.gov/onlinesp/list/f_agents.html). I can't see Funny Junk listed anywhere. If this is the case, they should consider themselves very lucky that they aren't getting counter-sued into oblivion.

Am I correct in the need for an agent? Am I looking in the right place?

programminggeek 2 days ago 0 replies      
This back and forth public argument feels a lot like the hype up for a professional wrestling, boxing, or mma match. Both sides talking themselves up while the audience picks sides and eats it up.

I'm sure this wasn't intended but it's fascinating to say the least.

dudurocha 2 days ago 1 reply      
Nice letter, and very well written.

I never read anything written like this in portugues. The lawyers here abuse in use legalese.

willurd 2 days ago 0 replies      
"(Interestingly, the subsequent blog post contains a screenshot of a statement by FunnyJunk that, under FunnyJunk's own logic, would constitute defamation: "[t]he Oatmeal wants to sue funnyjunk andshut it down!" The Oatmeal never threatened to sue FunnyJunk, nor did he ever indicate thathe wanted to shut down FunnyJunk's website.)"

Damn. You need some ice for that burn?!

lushn 2 days ago 0 replies      
From two years ago and perhaps the site has a different owner now, but a revealing look at FunnyJunk:


You need to register to see the thread, but the main part:

Posted: 07-23-2010, 04:28 PM

"My site, Funnyjunk.com has about 6 million page views a day and 250k uniques a day. It currently has no ad networks.

Valueclick, Adsense, and Casale kicked me off for adult content.

What adult content you ask? Nothing worse than you would see on youtube. The porn gets flagged and such."

taylorbuley 2 days ago 1 reply      
A successful defamation case in America requires proof that the offender had committed so called actual malice. This is very hard to do.
porterhaney 2 days ago 0 replies      
This is probably some of the best advertising Venkat can do for himself.
zaroth 2 days ago 0 replies      
The only sad thing about reading this, is the incredible expense of creating such a response. In my experience, response letters such as these littered with appropriate references can easily cost several thousand dollars. I guess just the 'cost of doing business' on the internet.
alan_cx 2 days ago 0 replies      
From a layman's POV, this just looks like abusing law for profit. There is no potential justice here, just profit. Call me a simpleton, but how is that not a crime in its self?
woodchuck64 2 days ago 0 replies      
The Oatmeal's donation campaign to the Wildlife fund and Cancer Society (and 2 other charities) is up $168,000!

The only winners in a legal brouhaha are the charities, how's that for turning the world up-side-down.

mparlane 2 days ago 0 replies      
"At the end of the day, a lawsuit against TheOatmeal in this situation is just a really bad idea"

My favourite line.

bstpierre 2 days ago 0 replies      
It's been a big week for the Streisand Effect. Between The Oatmeal and Never Seconds, nearly a quarter million dollars has been raised for charities.
jtrdk 2 days ago 0 replies      
This letter is surprisingly readable to non-lawyers. I wonder if this is sometimes done intentionally if the lawyer writing it knows it may/will end up publicly available like this.
bherrmann7 2 days ago 0 replies      
Oatmeal shouldnt have said they mirrored his site.
nsomniact 2 days ago 0 replies      
Carreon just got lawyered
       cached 18 June 2012 02:11:01 GMT